The night view grew darker, the stars became clearer, and the lights of the forbidden city turned brighter, while the flames from the burning candles on the table danced higher.
Time was everlasting while waiting, and Lu Jinnian started to throb with anxiety. Eventually, they gradually subsided to nothing, and those feelings were replaced with restlessness and worry.
Lu Jinnian sat under the romantically decorated scene with a notably majestic air about him. However, the expression on his face started to grow tense.
A hint of impatience emerged in the a.s.sistant's heart, as he incessantly raised his wrist to check the time. At twenty past eight, he finally couldn't help himself but break the tension in the air. "Mr. Lu, do you want to call Miss Qiao? Perhaps something has happened to keep her back."
Lu Jinnian gave a gentle nod, then pulled out his phone and called Qiao Anhao.
The sound doot-doot-doot rang in his ear over and over again, until the voice of the customer service lady said, "I'm sorry, the person you are trying to reach is currently unavailable."
"What's wrong? Miss Qiao didn't pick up?" Following his question, the a.s.sistant glanced over at Lu Jinnian, whose eyes had become colder, and so he hurriedly changed his tone. "Perhaps Miss Qiao didn't hear it."
Lu Jinnian forcefully pursed his lips, trying to call Qiao Anhao again. He didn't know how many times he repeated this, but with every call, it would always end with the customer service lady's automated response.
The atmosphere on the terrace grew increasingly more tense.
Under the s.h.i.+mmering multicolored lights, the a.s.sistant noticed that Lu Jinnian wore no expression on his face whatsoever. There wasn't even the slightest hint of fear in his heart. The a.s.sistant, who stood to one side, didn't dare take a deep breath, as he saw Lu Jinnian ceaselessly try to call her.
At nine o'clock, a sudden knock was heard from the doors of Lijing Pavilion.
Only then did the a.s.sistant secretly let out a sigh of relief. With hints of surprise, he first said to Lu Jinnian, "Miss Qiao has arrived". He followed with a response to the knock, "Come in."
As the doors opened, Lu Jinnian abruptly stood up from his seat and stared directly towards the door. But when he saw that it was just the Lijing Pavilion's manager who had entered, his hand subconsciously grabbed the back of the chair.
"Mr. Lu, it's already nine o'clock. Excuse me sir, but shall we start preparing the dinner you ordered?" the manager asked politely.
Lu Jinnian lowered his eyelids and turned his head, staring silently off towards the glistening lights of the forbidden city.
The a.s.sistant was afraid that the manager would set off Lu Jinnian by asking about the dinner, and so he hastily waved at him.
The manager seemingly felt that the energy was off, and so bowed and left the room.
After the manager shut the doors, the a.s.sistant distinctly felt that the atmosphere on the terrace had grown more stifling. So much so that he didn't dare take a second glance at Lu Jinnian, who stood before the large dining table under the s.h.i.+mmering romantic backdrop.
Lu Jinnian stared at the lights nearby with an indescribable feeling.
Ever since the moment he fell in love with Qiao Anhao, he had waited for the day he could be worthy of her.
Later, when he finally managed it, he found out that she was engaged to Xu Jiamu, so he continued to wait. When he saw them split up, he allowed himself to love her.
He had waited for so many years that waiting had become a habit he no longer found painful.
However, waiting tonight made him feel a pain he had never felt before.