Xu Jiamu lay spread out by the bedside. As for Qiao Anxia and the a.s.sistant, one was on the sofa, while the other was on the chair.
Lu Jinnian tried not to disturb them when he gently placed the things he'd bought on the table. Then he walked over to Qiao Anhao's bedside and stroked her forehead to find that she still had a fever.
He walked softly into the bathroom, where he grabbed a towel and ran it under cold water. When he squeezed it dry, he walked back into the room again and placed it on Qiao Anhao's forehead.
The cold soothed her a little, and her furrowed brows began to slowly relax.
Lu Jinnian didn't leave her bedside, whilst he stared at her with soft eyes. After quite some time, he stretched out his hand and stroked her head.
After he returned with the wet towel, he hadn't dried his hands of cold water. With her high temperature and his freezing touch, she couldn't help but to give in to the cold, wet palm of his hands.
At her sweet, obedient look, Lu Jinnian couldn't help but slowly curve the corner of his lips into a slight smile. With his thumb, he gently stroked her cheeks a little, but then, he glanced over at Xu Jiamu, who was spread out at her bedside, fast asleep. His eyes twitched a little, and he pulled his arm back and walked away.
Xu Jiamu, Qiao Anxia, and the a.s.sistant didn't wake up until the nurse came around to give them food.
Whilst they ate, the nurse used that time to check Qiao Anhao's temperature. She still had a fever, and so the nurse put her on another drip.
It was already eight in the evening when they finished their dinner. When Xu Jiamu saw Qiao Anxia's fatigued, sleepy face and the cramped hospital room, he said, "How about you guys find a hotel to get some rest, and I'll be fine here."
Lu Jinnian wanted to stay here so bad, but Xu Jiamu was around. What gave him the right to take care of her?
He stared at Qiao Anhao in bed with a serene look on his face, then after a long a while gave a light nod and said, "All right."
Before he left, Lu Jinnian pointed at the bag he had brought in the afternoon. "Those are clothes for her."
"Mm." Xu Jiamu nodded and said, "Got it."
Lu Jinnian glanced over again at Qiao Anhao in deep sleep, then strode out the door.
The a.s.sistant found a hotel near the hospital and made reservations for three rooms.
Lu Jinnian stood in front of the window and smoked around three cigarettes before realizing that he'd finished the pack. He laid down on the bed, but no matter what he did, he couldn't fall asleep. In the end, he changed clothes and walked out the room.
He went to the convenience store by the hotel and bought a pack of cigarettes. As he came out the store, he lit one up. Standing in the unfamiliar street of the town, he took two deep drags.
The night breeze blew past and fused with the dry summer heat. Nights in the little town seemed notably peaceful. There were practically no cars on the street, and even the shops on both sides of the road were closed for the night. Every now and then, one or two motorbikes would speed through the street.
Lu Jinnian stood there for a while, but in the end, he strode all the way to the hospital.
When he reached the in-patient's block, he put out the cigarette in his hand.
The corridor was very quiet. All that Lu Jinnian could hear was the sound of his own footsteps echoing in the long corridor.
He stopped outside Qiao Anhao's room but didn't enter. He leaned against the wall and, through the gla.s.s window, stared at Xu Jiamu overlooking Qiao Anhao. There he was, sitting by her bedside, raising his arm to adjust the IV drip.
Lu Jinnian couldn't help but lift his head up at the lights above him that made his eyes dry and obscured his vision. An irrepressible bitterness tossed around in his chest.