Xia Rou sat quietly in the living room, head bowed, looking at the varnished wood of the coffee table.
She realized that the coffee table of her past was also this color. She remembered back to the years that followed when this coffee table was exchanged with one of the same design but a darker color. It was probably because the material differed.
She wanted to stretch out her hand to feel the texture and see if the wood was a little moist, but she heard footsteps draw closer.
Deep and steady, every step at its own pace.
Each beat knocked into her heart and her heartbeat quickened, as though it was trying to leap out of her chest.
His familiar voice was deep like a cello as he called her name.
Xia Rou’s slim, white hand clenched into a fist. She took a deep breath and only then did she have the courage to stand up and turn around…
The man, dressed smartly in a black uniform, stood directly under the setting sun. The sides of his dark uniform reflected a layer of gold.
Even his facial features were bathed in a golden light.
He was tall, standing close to her, staring at her with a calm gaze.
Xia Rou stared back, and she couldn’t even… move her gaze away.
As she stared at him, infatuated, she noticed Cao Yang’s sharp gaze turn gentle. He slowly walked towards her and said, “My condolences.”
Xia Rou realized, finally, that her tears had streaked a line down her face. She immediately lowered her head to softly wipe away the liquid on her face.
Just then, Cao Yang had seen her clearly. Xia Rou was no longer the kid in his hazy memory. Though she only reached his shoulders in height, she was already a young maiden.
Her short hair was cut neatly to frame the length of her face and her narrow chin. Her thin lips were a light pink and tightly closed, like she was afraid she would say something wrong. She wore a black long-sleeved dress that emphasized the whiteness of her skin.
Her large, somber eyes revealed the complex emotions roaring through her the moment she laid eyes on him. It was as though she was telling endless stories with her eyes, tumbling down her cheeks, but she herself had not yet noticed.
Cao Yang remembered the year his mother passed. Those days were very difficult. His heart softened as he recalled those memories. The word “condolences” didn’t show just his courtesy, but was also a kind of consolation.
Now the girl in front of him had her head bent. Looking at that pitch-black hair from above, he thought even more that she was just a little kid. She was completely different from his younger brothers and the women he had known before.
She was just a small little girl who had lost her only support. She was weak with no one to rely on.
“My name is Cao Yang,” he said.
Xia Rou raised her head. Tears could still be seen on her cheeks and she moved her lips but couldn’t quite voice the words.
The fifteen-year-old Xia Rou was supposed to be unfamiliar with Cao Yang, so she wasn’t yet qualified to address him as “big brother” yet.
In the end she lowered her head back down and called softly, “Brother Cao Yang.”
When she lowered her head, the line of her neck was beautiful, which reminded him of Cheng Wan. She was one who had a beautiful temperament that showed her gentleness. This was also evident in Xia Rou, which was probably why father favored her.
“Don’t cry,” he said.
Xia Rou responded, “Mm,” rubbing the tears off her face with the back of her hand.
Cao Yang thought her sadness was because her mother had passed away, but he was wrong.
Her mother’s passing had already been ten years ago for her, and she had already left those depressing times. Her tears continued to flow because she never thought she would have the chance to meet Cao Yang again.
Clearly she remembered that when she fell from that tall building, the last image in her heart was big brother Cao Yang’s face.
At that time, regret filled her entire chest so much that it seemed to be trying to puncture its way out of her stomach, like a sharp knife giving her pain from the inside.
She had laid on the floor, the blood spreading and staining everywhere slowly, as her life faded away.
Before the darkness overtook her eyesight, she thought, if there is an afterlife…
If there is an afterlife…
I will listen to big brother’s words…
I will not make him mad again…
She thought back to the last time she saw him. He had been enraged at her, so furious that she didn’t dare look at his face properly.
When she thought of that memory, she was regretful.
And, bringing along the regrets in her heart, she had died.
However, she had never expected there to really be an afterlife when she opened her eyes.
The twenty-five-year-old Xia Rou had died, and reincarnated back to her fifteen-year-old self.
Noticing her gaze was looking straight at him, the face she had wiped was once again covered with tears. Cao Yang remained silent. He himself had gone through the pain of losing his mother, so he knew better than anyone else the sadness of loved ones departing. It could not be comforted by anyone else.
He gave her some time to wrap up her emotions and lowered his head to tell her, “Sit down.”
“I suppose you already know,” he said, sitting down opposite to her. “My father wants you to live with us in our house.”
“You’re still young. We can’t be rest assured letting you live alone outside. From now on, think of this place as your home,” he said.
After he finished speaking, he took a long pause to look at Xia Rou.
She put her snowy white hands on her lap, opening her eyes wider and said, softly, “Thank you…”
Thank you for giving me a place to stay when I had nobody to rely on.
Thank you for tolerating me and raising me in such a peaceful environment, under your protection.
These were the words that Xia Rou owed to the Cao Family and to Cao Yang.
When she sat in the living room, the memories that she’d locked up long ago slowly filtered through her mind. She remembered that the first day she had stepped into the Cao Family, she had been drowning in sadness and trepidation. She was so miserable at the time she didn’t even say thank you when the Cao Family generously took her in.
And even in the following ten years, she struggled in the grip of her pride and feelings of inferiority, torturing both the family and herself by being hypocritical and pitiful. She didn’t even think to demonstrate her gratitude to them.
Now she wanted to thank the heavens from the bottom of her heart; not because she could live again, but because she finally had the chance to tell the Cao Family “Thank you.”
Proofread by: Hannah