It was so hot. Qiao Nan felt like she was on fire, as if her entire body was burning to ashes.
After a long struggle, Qiao Nan finally opened her eyes. She did not see a white ward, but an old and familiar room.
"Mom, Nan Nan is sick, is it alright that we leave her alone?"
"It's fine. Your sister is very tough and used to a hard life. Such a minor illness will not take her life. Moreover, she will be starting school the day after. It is a good thing that she is sick, so that she can't enroll for school."
Concerned about matters related to her elder daughter, Ding Jiayi figured that if her younger daughter missed the opportunity to enrol for school due to the illness, she could then cajole the wretched girl to give up her studies and find a job to earn income.
"Mom, this watermelon is so sweet. Take a bite too." Satisfied with what she had heard, Qiao Zijin smiled and fed Ding Jiayi a mouthful of watermelon.
When she heard the dialogue between the mother-daughter pair, Qiao Nan, who had a high fever, finally knew where she was.
Time had turned back to 25 years ago and she was back at the house of the Qiao family. The then 15-year-old Qiao Nan had a high fever and missed the school's enrolment deadline. It was the year that she was cajoled by her mother to quit school and find a job to support Qiao Zijin.
That year, the night before Qiao Nan's fever, it was raining cats and dogs. Because it was autumn, the weather was particularly cold.
Qiao Nan remembered that she had covered herself with a blanket before she went to sleep that night. However, when she was awake and already feeling sick, the entire blanket was found at the end of the bed.
While Qiao Nan vaguely recalled that, when the rain was at its heaviest in the middle of the night, someone seemed to have entered her room.
Eventually, Qiao Nan was not covered by the blanket. Even the window by the bedside was wide open.
If this was not the case, Qiao Nan would not have gotten a cold and fever.
In her previous life, Qiao Nan always believed that someone had come to her room. As for the window that was closed before she slept and opened subsequently, she assumed that it was an illusion - that she was too sick and confused.
But this time, Qiao Nan did not think that was the case.
"Last night", someone must have been to her room. Not only had the person removed her blanket, but they had also intentionally opened the window. The motive was to cause her to fall sick so that she would miss the school enrolment deadline!
Just when Ding Jiayi and Qiao Zijin were spending happy time together, there was a loud bang that stunned both of them.
"Nan, Nan Nan?" Qiao Zijin's face, who was happily holding and eating half the watermelon, turned stiff. She felt extremely awkward as she held the spoon, and was undecided on whether to continue to hold or put it down.
Seeing the half of the watermelon in Qiao Zijin's hand, Qiao Nan laughed to herself.
Qiao Zijin was spoilt by their mother. Since a young age, she was overbearing and selfish. Qiao Zijin had a habit when eating watermelon. She like to hold half the watermelon and eat it with a spoon all by herself.
But it was in the 1980s now. Their financial situation was not as good. So every time Ding Jiayi bought watermelons, she would tell Qiao Nan and Qiao Zijin that she had only bought half the fruit.
But Qiao Nan saw it with her own eyes that Qiao Zijin was holding half the watermelon and eating it.
Qiao Zijin was allowed to eat half a watermelon. When it came to Qiao Nan, she would be lucky if she could have a "strand" of watermelon to eat!
"You wretched girl, why did you kick the door. Who do you want to scare?" Ding Jiayi's face, that displayed no sign of guilt, turned black. She pointed at Qiao Nan's nose and started scolding.
Qiao Nan was hanging on despite her sickness, "I have a fever. Where is the fever medicine?"
"What fever medicine? You've already finished it. There isn't any left." Ding Jiayi's eyes had a tinge of guilt as she said that.
Ignoring Ding Jiayi, Qiao Nan went to look for the medicine. In her previous life, she did not take any medicine and her fever worsened. She was not sent to the hospital in time and almost had meningitis.
Because of this, her family incurred extra medical expenses. This made her believed her mother's words that she had depleted the family funds to cure her illness. That was the reason that she quit school and worked to support Qiao Zijin.
"You wretched girl, what are you looking for?!" Qiao Nan's action had angered Ding Jiayi. Ding Jiayi grabbed and pulled back Qiao Nan's hair with her left hand, while she slapped Qiao Nan's face with her right hand.
The sound of the slap was cold and deafening.
With the slap in her face, Qiao Nan's ears were buzzing. Her face did not hurt but her nose was sore and painful. Her nose started bleeding uncontrollably, like an open faucet, staining the collar of her shirt.
"If you are sick, go and lie down. Stop being a devil!" Ding Jiayi gathered that Qiao Nan would not be physically strong enough. She wanted to drag Qiao Nan back into the room and let Qiao Nan continue to sleep. No matter what, she would not let Qiao Nan have her medicine.
If the wretched girl recovered, she would definitely enrol in school and waste their money.
Ding Jiayi intended to let Qiao Nan continue to be sick until a month after school commenced.
Want to have your medicine? Wishful thinking!
At this time, Qiao Nan saw through Ding Jiayi's plan. She would not be willing to concede. She banged her head against Ding Jiayi's body.
This move did not hurt but was too unexpected. Ding Jiayi was stunned and withdrew the hand that she used to pull Qiao Nan's hair. Qiao Nan took the opportunity to run out of the house.
"The wretched girl!" Ding Jiayi, who was a few steps behind, stomped her feet and shouted, "If you have the guts, don't ever come back!"
This was the first time that Qiao Zijin saw Qiao Nan rebelling. She was stunned. "Mom, what happened to Nan Nan? Didn't she used to obey you on everything?"
"Don't bother about her." Ding Jiayi patted her elder daughter's hand and did not seem affected. "Despite having a fever, she ran out and refused to rest at home. She is intentionally looking for death."
Qiao Nan, whose head was burning, only wanted to run, but she had no idea what to do after that.
Qiao Nan bumped into someone. The nose that had not stopped bleeding felt more sore and her tears started to roll.
"Be careful." It was a man with a deep and low voice. Compared to the hot June season, the voice that came to Qiao Nan's ears was cool. Qiao Nan's waist seemed to have fallen onto an arm that was as sturdy as steel.
As Qiao Nan regained her footing, she came to her senses only after shaking her head three times. When she looked up, he saw a pair of cool eyes that looked as sharp as a blade.
"You have a fever?" the man frowned when he came into contact with Qiao Nan's body. When he saw the blood on the Qiao Nan's collar, his sharp lips turned straight. "Follow me," he said.
Qiao Nan followed the man, feeling confused. It was only after she was seated on a soft sofa that she regained her senses.
"Fever medicine." The man's cold voice came, as he handed her the medicine in one hand and held a cup in the other.
Given her situation, Qiao Nan had no time to be shy about this. She took the medicine from the man's hand and swallowed it. She then looked up at the man carefully.
The man was very handsome - a chiseled face, thick eyebrows that exuded a sense of justice, straight and upright nose, charming but forbidding eyes. His lips were pursed, like he was unhappy. Qiao Nan could not help feeling a little nervous.