Yang Chen didn’t know about it and wasn’t surprised either, knowing how stubborn Zhenxiu was.
She still hoped to be independent, despite being under someone else’s care, even if she no longer regarded herself as an outsider.
Also, Starmoon Group hadn’t been in touch since Park Jonghyun left, so there was no way of knowing what had happened with the former president. Perhaps they had given up on trying to reclaim her.
Guo Xuehua said, “Yang Chen, why don’t you pick up Zhenxiu later since you’re free? It’s not safe for a girl to be taking the bus so late in the night.”
“It’s fine, no guys would win against her.” Yang Chen giggled.
Guo Xuehua glared at him. “Would it kill you to pick her up? Ruoxi would’ve gone if she was free.”
Yang Chen couldn’t find a reason not to so he nodded. It didn’t make sense to him however. If she wanted to work and had it all planned out, there was no reason for him to drive over.
Yang Chen drove off an hour after dinner to the restaurant that Guo Xuehua mentioned.
The crowd was no joke since it was peak season. During the day, the beach was packed. Then at night people would be having seafood at hawker stalls while enjoying the sea breeze.
Palm trees swayed along the wind under the night light. The golden sand looked especially soft, illuminated by the moonlight.
Yang Chen hummed as he enjoyed the sea breeze after parking his car. The air was filled with the smell of smoke along the hawker stalls.
Some moments later, he found the hawker stall where Zhenxiu was working at near south side of the beach.
She was wearing an old yellow dress with a greasy apron around her waist. Her hair was tied up into a ponytail. She did not notice him approaching in the distance as she was busy wiping down tables.
She was drenched in sweat even though it was a windy night.
After cleaning the last table, she looked up and saw Yang Chen. Her hands shot up and she waved at him after being startled for a while. “Brother Yang, why are you here?”
Yang Chen walked into the booth and looked around. “Mom asked me to come and pick you up. She’s worried about you taking the bus yourself. Why are you alone, where’s your boss?”
Zhenxiu laughed weirdly. “Boss and the other workers went out for a drink. I can leave when I’m done cleaning and wait for them to come back.”
Yang Chen’s face darkened when he understood the underlying message. “Are you being bullied? Did they purposely leave you with the hardest task?”
“It’s fine, I’m here to work anyway.” Zhenxiu smiled.
Yang Chen frowned and took the cloth away from her. “Quit your job and follow me home. We treat you like a princess but you still suffer by their hands? If Wang Ma and Mom found out about this, they would be so upset.”
Zhenxiu picked up the cloth hastily and pouted. “Brother Yang, how can you do this? I’m only a student and not the boss. There’s nothing wrong with doing a little more work. Besides, I came to work to gain experience.”
“I… you… you mean, I’m wrong? And that it’s a good thing that they’re bullying you?” Yang Chen asked gloomily.
Zhenxiu puffed her cheeks. “Of course! I’m not happy that they bully me but I have to face the reality! Brother Yang, do you really think that everyone is like you? That no one should challenge you nor command you? We aren’t that special. It’s good enough that my boss allows me to work and wouldn’t deduct my pay. You think I came here to play?”
Yang Chen grimaced, overwhelmed by the sudden lecture. “Hey, when is it your turn to lecture me?”
Zhenxiu was like a loose water tap, unable to stop words from leaving her mouth. “So what? You’re not much older than me and yet you keep calling me a girl! I’m already a university student! In the ancient times I would’ve been a mom by now! How can you call me a kid when I have more experience than you on the street! I was already selling rice cakes way earlier than you and your lamb skewers! So don’t lecture me!”
Yang Chen felt as though his head was exploding.
“What, cat got your tongue?” Zhenxiu snickered. “No wonder Sister Ruoxi was always pissed at you. If it were me, I wouldn’t be able to stand you at all. You’re too self-centred, thinking that you’re always right and others are always talking crap? Others don’t mind because they’re generous but when they start to mind, it’s all because of your arrogance!”
Yang Chen’s eyes widened and pointed at her with shaky hands. “Y—you… Are you really Zhenxiu?”
Zhenxiu placed her palms on both sides of her waist. “I didn’t want to voice out my opinions too much in the past but last night was the last straw! Did you know how long she waited for you last night?! She waited until two in the morning! If I didn’t go down for water and wake her up, she would’ve fallen sick! She wasn’t even covered with a blanket on the sofa, how could you let her suffer and not call her at all?
“You’re a man and I get it that you might be busy. But if you have the guts to flirt with so many women, then why can’t you take care of your wife?! Only a useless and self-centred guy like you would do that! It would be better for Sister Ruoxi to divorce you! There are plenty of men in the world who would be willing to care for her ten times better than you ever have!”
Yang Chen looked at her blankly. His emotions went up and down like a rollercoaster, shifting from confusion and anger to guilt and regret…
He contemplated for a while and sighed. “Did Ruoxi… really wait for me till two?”
“Why would I lie about it?! I wouldn’t have known that you weren’t around if Sister Ruoxi hadn’t told me! Even if you had something urgent to do, is it really that difficult to make a phone call?” Zhenxiu lowered her voice when she realised that she was speaking too harshly.
Lin Ruoxi’s cold face showed up in his head, and his heart churned at the words she said in anger, but in between the pain there was warmth.
Yang Chen sighed and laughed bitterly. “You’re right, I am dumb.”
Zhenxiu felt bad seeing him filled with guilt, she gripped onto her apron with her head lowered. “Actually… you don’t have to be so upset, Brother Yang. I know that you love Sister Ruoxi but your past is the reason for your actions. Sister Ruoxi grew up in a very serious environment. Her attitude is bound to conflict with your carefree one. But the both of you have been through so much together that you still care for each other through it all. If not Sister Ruoxi wouldn’t have waited for you and you wouldn’t be so sad now.”
Yang Chen’s gaze was deep as he kept quiet. A while later he walked over to Zhenxiu.
Zhenxiu raised her head, not understanding his gaze.
Suddenly, he reached out and patted her head.
“Xu Zhenxiu, this will be my last time patting your head as your brother. I won’t do this anymore,” Yang Chen said gently as he smiled.
Zhenxiu was dumbfounded. She couldn’t understand what was happening.
“From tonight onwards, you have transformed into Miss Xu Zhenxiu. A woman who so happens to be younger than me,” Yang Chen spoke with a tender voice.
Zhenxiu looked at him dumbly and grinned at him after some time. Her face was beaming.
“Are you saying this because you want to court me?”
“What?!” Yang Chen yelped. “Don’t get too excited little girl!”
“You… you just said I’m not a little girl anymore!” Zhenxiu shouted at him.
Yang Chen covered his mouth immediately and said awkwardly, “Hehe, it slipped out of my mouth. Sister Zhenxiu, hurry up and clean up so that we can leave early.”
Zhenxiu scrunched her face and turned around to continue her work.
Yang Chen held a blank stare, looking at her bouncing ponytail and her slim legs under the dress.