Qiao Anhao didn't dare look at him at all. She just lowered her head and hid her face behind her hair.
The rims of her eyes flared up a few times, but she tried to push down the tears. When her hair was dry, she took a deep breath. She casually tied her hair up, and said, in a tone as though everything was normal, "I'll go see if Madam Chen has finished cooking dinner."
Then she walked out of the bedroom.
When Qiao Anhao came to the kitchen, Madam Chen had already finished. The soup made bubbling noises, as it boiled under the high heat. Madam Chen was crouching in front of the bin, peeling garlic. Seeing Qiao Anhao come over, she immediately said, "Missus, dinner will be ready real soon. You can call Mr. Lu to wash his hands and come down now."
Qiao Anhao nodded and walked over to the stove. She pushed out her head, and glanced at the soup on the hob. She clearly saw that it was pork ribs and corn, but she still asked, "What kind of soup are you cooking?"
Madam Chen said, "Corn and pork rips soup."
"It smells good," complimented Qiao Anhao. She didn't know if it was the hot soup, but tears fell from her eyes and into her ca.s.serole.
Qiao Anhao hurriedly wiped them away. Whilst Madam Chen wasn’t paying attention, she said "I'll go call him for dinner", and walked out of the kitchen.
She didn't go upstairs, just turned to the second floor bedroom door and called, "Dinner time". She walked into the communal bathroom, and locked the door behind her. As she stood there in front of the sink, she looked into the mirror at her frighteningly red eyes.
She didn't actually want to cry, but the tears still fell uncontrollably, until there were two knocks at the door. Lu Jinnian voice came in, "Qiao Qiao?"
Qiao Anhao wiped her eyes and took a deep breath. She shouted "Coming!", and turned on the tap. She splashed a handful of water onto her face, and quietly s.p.a.ced out for a minute. When she had calmed down, she turned off the tap and wiped her face with the towel beside her, then walked out.
Lu Jinnian sat in his usual place in the dining room. Madam Chen was carrying the soup. Seeing her come in, she attentively pulled her chair out.
Qiao Anhao sat opposite Lu Jinnian. She took Madam Chen's soup, and gently said, "Thank you". She lowered her head and drank her soup.
Her and Lu Jinnian had eaten together many times before. When they ate, they didn't really interact with each other, and so the table was a little quiet. Qiao Anhao's appet.i.te wasn't good, but she forced herself to eat a little. In the end, she couldn't take it any longer and put her chopsticks down.
Lu Jinnian, who sat opposite her, glanced over at her bowl that was barely touched, and his brows furrowed. "Poor appet.i.te? Or the food is not suitable?"
Madam Chen, who stood to one side, also asked, "Missus, what would you like to eat? I'll go and cook something else."
Qiao Anhao's eyes stung, and tears almost fell. She lowered her eyes. After ten seconds, she looked up at Lu Jinnian and gave him a sad smile. Her voice was calm. "I ate a little too much in the afternoon. I'm not very hungry right now, I'll eat later."
Lu Jinnian nodded, and didn't force her. Qiao Anhao got up and walked out of the dining room. She heard Lu Jinnian say to Madam Chen, "Missus likes to eat swallow's nest congee. Cook her congee. When she's hungry, don't let her eat heated up leftovers."
Qiao Anhao's fingertips trembled when she heard those words, and she quickly strode away.