In that new apartment Cao Xiong gave them a luxurious life. They didn’t need to worry about daily expenses and he treated her with love.
Her body was weak and she fell sick frequently. She needed to take a lot of medicine and had frequent injections. In the past she had been a burden to her family, which was one of the main reasons her husband had disliked her. But when the same thing happened, it was not a big deal to Cao Xiong.
Though Cao Xiong did not give her a proper title, she was able to live well.
His sons also met Cheng Wan during unofficial occasions. They had even had dinner together.
Ever since Cao Xiong met Cheng Wan, this man who should slowly face his declining years seemed to be rejuvenated and filled with youth instead. His sons noticed the fact that their strong, cold father also… needed someone to accompany him.
Cao Yang and Cao Bin had observed Cheng Wan. They confirmed that she was just a gentle, well-behaved woman who didn’t have an excessive desire for material things, nor any wild ambitions she was looking to pursue.
She had raised her daughter alone and her only wish was for her to have a peaceful life.
Cao Xiong had even discussed with Cao Yang in secret that he had no intention of increasing the size of their family. He had already gone to the hospital to get snipped, so they could be at ease.
Their father had truly sacrificed too much for them, making the brothers of the Cao Family feel guilty towards him.
There may have been a lot of women who could settle his physical needs, but there weren’t any who could truly accompany Cao Xiong. So when Cheng Wan managed to bring happiness to their father, they also paid respect to her. Sometimes when they met her they would politely call her “Aunt Cheng.”
She was soft and obedient, just like a pot of dodder flowers raised in Cao Xiong’s room, only good for relaxing and decorating the scenery to be more pleasing. Even Cao Xiong thought this when he looked at Cheng Wan.
It was only that this dodder flower plant had particularly gained his favor.
Cao Xiong was sixteen years older than Cheng Wan. Everyone thought that Cheng Wan would be accompanying him for the rest of his life. No one expected the one to pass away first to be Cheng wan.
Most unexpectedly, after the dodder flower had withered, a strong mountain like Cao Xiong suddenly looked as though half his life had been sucked away.
Cao Xiong thought it must be because he had gotten old.
Because he was old, his heart had grown softer. As time passed, Cheng Wan had rooted herself deeply within his heart.
He closed his eyes and recalled what Cheng Wan had entrusted to him, and let out a long sigh.
Cao Bin, the second son, sighed as well. “How troublesome. This is a person we’re talking about!” Not a cat or a dog, but a woman.
The third son, Cao Xing, had a buff body with muscles that appeared close to bursting through his shit. He looked at his brothers and tried, “What about… finding her a boarding school?”
The eldest remained silent. Looking at his oldest brother smoking his cigarette, he said, “Nevermind.”
“It’s been a long time since I saw that child. How old was she? Fourteen? Fifteen?” he tapped the cigarette. “She lost her mom at such a young age…”
Cao Bin and Cao Xing didn’t continue to speak.
When their mother had passed away, one had been twelve and the other ten. Even the eldest had only been fourteen. They were familiar with this situation.
The fear and the sadness they had faced when their mother had suddenly passed away – though their memories had faded, but the emotions were still there.
The situation was different than back then. This was a little girl. Leaving her alone outside, if something bad happened…
“Father will definitely kill us,” Cao Bin dropped his forehead to his palm.
In the end, Cao Yang decided the matter as the eldest son.
“Just raise her in the house, it’s no big deal,” Cao Yang said. “We’ll raise her until she finishes studying in university. And if she wants to get married in the future, we’ll just prepare a dowry.”
It was as simple as that. With just those few words he had planned the rest of this girl’s life, though he hadn’t met her for a long time.
He tried to remember her and asked, “What’s her name again?”
The question also stumped his two younger brothers. A few years ago they had seen the child, but she was perhaps ten or eleven then. She was a pretty little girl but seemed a bit introverted. After politely greeting everyone, she hid behind her mother and did not talk, looking shy. In their memories, she was just like her mother.
As for her name…
“I think it was… Xiao Hou*? ” Cao Bin was unsure.
Cao Xing burst into laughter.
“How come I also remember her name to be Xiao Hou?” Cao Yang was uncertain.
Cao Xing thumped his fist on the table. “What kind of weird name is that?”
“I think it’s true,” said Cao Bin.
Nobody knew if it was right or not. They hadn’t paid any attention to Cheng Wan, let alone this little girl.
Cao Yang asked his second brother, “When are you leaving?”
“I was thinking of leaving tomorrow,” Cao Bin replied. “But I’ll just take a look at her first before I leave.”
Two days after that, Cao Yang came home in the evening. Butler Zhou called him. “The child has been here for a while. The commander had something come up suddenly and couldn’t make it. Do you want to have a look?”
“How pitiful of her…” added Butler Zhou. She had no other relatives. After her mother passed, she had become an orphan.
Cao Yang placed his army hat back on his head. “Where is she?”
“In the living room.”
Cao Yang walked past the conference room and arrived to the living room. The sunlight in the summer was still shining brightly though it was already the evening. It streamed into the living room through the window in the west, illuminating the young girl sitting quietly on the sofa.
She was sitting on the soft cushions, her posture upright and her shoulders small and thin. If not for those shoulders and slim waist, she would have the demeanor of a soldier.
Cao Yang’s footsteps came to a stop. He squinted his eyes as he looked toward the sunlight and the little girl lowered her head.
Slim, was his first thought. With his strength, a simple garrote would break her neck immediately.
Snow white, was his second thought. Under the golden sunlight, her neckline was particularly beautiful.
Obedient, was his third thought. That attitude combined with her softness portrayed a sense of obeisance that would satisfy a man.
Cao Yang suddenly remembered that this child’s name was not Xiao Hou.
Her name was Xiao Rou.
This memory was followed by her father’s surname, Xia.
She was Xia Rou.
Xia from the word summer, and Rou from the word gentle.
*Xiao Hou: Means little monkey in chinese
Proofread by: Hannah