*Note* Advanced apologies for the speed of release on the upcoming chapters. Life getting busy and all…
I called out while gasping for breath, my stomach churching up and down. I couldn’t continue for a long time.
Li Chuan patiently waited for my breathing to slowly become steady. His gaze shifted to my forehead and said while frowning, “What happened? Your head is bleeding.”
“Oh?” I pushed away my bangs and felt my forehead. Sure enough there was a huge bump and my hands had a few drops of sticky bloodstain.
“Don’t move,” he said, “let me see.”
His peppermint breath hit my face and his ice-cold fingertips touched my forehead. My heart, that had just calmed down started jumping at twice the speed again.
“What did you run into?”
“Into the wall.”
His expression was originally quite solemn, but after hearing this, he couldn’t help but laugh, “Ran into the wall? Why?” As he said this, he took out a sealed pouch from his bag. He tore it open and took out a moist cotton ball from inside, “This is for cleaning wounds. It’ll hurt a little.”
“Ow!” I cried out. His hand shook and the cotton fell onto the floor. Afterwards, he nervously looked at me, “Does it hurt a lot?”
“I’ll be more gentle.” He went through his bag again and took out a second ball of cotton and cleaned my wound for me. He then found a bandaid and stuck it on for me.
Li Chuan was really good at taking care of himself. He always had bandaids on hand and ready. Even when I knew him before, he had been like this.
And then, Li Chuan wanted to stoop down and pick up the cotton that had fallen on the floor. I quickly picked it up for him and threw it into the trash.
“Did you hit it very hard? Do you need to see the doctor?” His slender fingers continued to caress my head, trying to feel out other injuries, as if he was a monk in the process of taking an oath, “Hopefully, it’s not a concussion.”
I really wanted to reply, I hit it very hard, come see the doctor with me. On second thought, it was only a few drops of blood and that would be ridiculous.
“I’m fine.” I fixed my hair and skewed my head to look at him, “When did you get back?”
Li Chuan looked skinnier than the last time I had seen him in Zurich. His face didn’t have much color. Strange. Normally, someone who was sick would get better the more he rested. Li Chuan was in the hospital for three months doing nothing, resting every day. His family also had so much money, what nourishment couldn’t they afford. Why was he skinnier day after day? His cheekbones became higher and higher.
“Did you come back alone?”
“René also came. He’s been writing a book on ancient Chinese architecture recently. He come to Beijing to look for material.”
“René is teaching at the university?”
We stood together on the steps without speaking, each thinking our own thoughts.
After awhile, I asked, “Li Chuan, you didn’t drive?”
“No,” he said, “I’m waiting for my chauffeur. I reckon he’s in traffic.”
“I have a car, why don’t I drive you home.”
“No, thank you.”
“Come, why are you being so polite with me.”
“I’m sorry, I have other things.” He said, “Next time.”
“There’s nothing else. You just don’t want to be with me, right?” I quietly said, looking with hidden bitterness.
He wore a pure black jacket, perfectly fitting to his body. His hair was stiff and a little moist. He looked very cool and very impressive with it, along with his slim and distinct face.
He didn’t reply. I considered it to be agreement.
Everything had returned to the start again so quickly. I couldn’t not be used to Li Chuan’s style.
I turned and left. After all, Li Chuan was back. It was like the sun returning to the solar system.
As the one who was continuously rotating, I immediately entered into obit. Then there was wind and rain and gravity. Everything had returned to normal.
The next day at work, I was in high spirits. Because I had to translate an important contract, afraid of wasting energy, I didn’t drive and instead took a taxi.
As soon as I got to the lobby, colleagues who I was not familiar with all leapt to greet me. The dance from last night, even though it wasn’t devastatingly beautiful, had at least made me a celebrity.
“Hey, Xiao Qiu, morning! Cha Cha!”
“Cha Cha! Xiao Qiu, last night was very exciting. how come you skipped out just are you were dancing so high? You caused your boyfriend to look everywhere for you.”
“Oh…I had some urgent business and went back home.”
When I reached my office, I placed my bag down and immediately gave Eason a call.
The phone rang once before it was picked up on the other end, “Xiao Qiu.”
“I’m sorry, really sorry. I had an urgent business yesterday and couldn’t wait to say goodbye to you before leaving?”
“Did something bad happen?” His voice didn’t sound like he minded.
“Then that’s good.” He said, “Next, next Friday is our department’s spring outing. Can you come and cover for me?”
“Spring outing? Is it far?”
“It’s just in Fragrance Hill Park.” He sighed, “The union chair’s wife works in the news office and invited a group of female reporters and editors, and says that there will be friendship activities for all the young people. Going on scenic tours, eating and drinking, and even riddle games and such.”
“Riddles? Is that also called a game?”
“How isn’t it a game? I’m really good at guessing riddles.”
“Then…okay. I’ll try my best to cooperate.” Last night, I begged him to cover and then left without saying goodbye. I was really sorry about it.
“Thanks, I’ll treat you to vegetarian hotpot another day.” He was very happy and said, “Are you going to tonight’s Latin dance class?”
“I’m going, why wouldn’t I go?”
“Then, see you tonight.”
I hung up and then went to the admin office to check my mail in the mailbox. I discovered that there was a heavy package stuffed in it. There was a bunch of German on it. I weighed it in my hand. It was the chocolate cookies Li Chuan promised to bring for me. I was just about to leave after getting them before I ran into Emma.
“Ah, what good thing is this?”
“Share some with me.”
I opened the package. There were several packages inside. I pressed two packages to Emma. She looked at the wrapping and said, smiling, “Hey, you have quite the reputation. This must be from Li Chuan!”
It gave me a fright, “How do you know?”
“These are cookies from Zurich. My second foreign language is German.”
“I begged him for them. I really love to eat this type of cookie.” I had a lingering fear of her. Emma was really good at gossiping. A nonexistent thing can be turned into rumors, let alone when there was something. She would investigate till the end.
Sure enough, Emma repeatedly looked me over, “You normally don’t say anything, but you went as far to ask him to bring something. I love eating chocolate so much and have known him for so many years, yet I don’t even dare to open my mouth.”
“This is just him showing care for a subordinate, a scheme to win one over. That’s all.” I slandered him without changing expression.
“Hey, you can’t say that. Don’t wreck the beautiful image of Li Chuan in my heart.” Emma’s two hands covered her heart and she made an infatuated expression, “I just saw him at the entrance. He’s indeed awesome. I was so excited, I forgot to greet him. I wanted to follow him into the elevator but didn’t catch up with him. One of my legs was nearly jammed. In the end, I was kept out of the closed doors with my shoe left in the elevator! I was really embarrassed. After waiting a few minutes, Li Chuan unexpectedly came down the elevators again and gave me my shoe. He even apologized for not helping me block the doors. He is truly courteous and elegant.”
I sighed and thought to myself, if you really fell in love with him, then you would be even more embarrassed. You would be under self oppression, living a life with even more suffering than The White Haired Girl (1950 one of China’s first films).
At the ten o’clock meeting, Li Chuan was indeed sitting on the side of Director Jiang. On behalf of the company’s employees, Director Jiang welcomed Mr. Li Chuan back to Beijing to take care of the follow-up designs for the Wenzhou project. Due to health reasons, Mr. Li Chuan could only work three hours a day so hopefully everyone could solve their problems during his working hours and not bother him during his rest. When it was Li Chuan’s turn, Li Chuan only said, “Thank you. At 6:30 tonight, I will be treating everyone to seafood at Hui Xian restaurant to greet everyone.”
All the females in the translating group became crazed.
The cafeteria on the eighteenth floor of Xiang Lai building served lunch punctually at noon. I got a plate of salad and a bowl of eggplant stew with tofu and joined the gossipy round table of the translator group.
As expected, today’s topic was Li Chuan.
“Li Chuan’s tie is really nice looking today. It’s obviously a dark red, but why does it look like it’s sparkling from the distance.”
“I think his corduroy suit makes him more handsome today. After studying for quite awhile, I still don’t know what material it’s made of.”
“Ah, I’m thinking about what to order tonight. Hui Xian restaurant’s abalone is the most delicious. I’ve been twice and have never dared to order it.”
Only Emma said, “Li Chuan seems to be pretty sick this time. Even walking takes effort. When have you guys seen him use two crutches?”
The happiest was still Xiao Wei, because she had returned to Li Chuan’s office.
“I think Mr. Li Chuan’s body hasn’t completely healed yet.” Xiao Wei said, “After the meeting, he went into his own office and didn’t come out again. I called him a few times on the phone and he didn’t answer at all. Look, we haven’t seen him come out and eat lunch either.”
My complexion changed a little, “Did something happen?”
“I don’t know.” Xiao Wei shook her head, “Without approval, I can’t go into his office when I want to.”
I stood up and said, “It just so happens, I have a contract translation that I need to find him for. I’ll go take a look.”
Everyone stared at me strangely.
“What’s wrong?” I said, “You guys have all seen that he’s pretty sick. What if he fainted in his own office?”
“You go? That’s not too appropriate. Perhaps he is just resting in his own place. It’s better to notify Director Jiang.”
“That’s right, Zhu Bi Xuan and Li Chuan had great rapport back then and Li Chuan still didn’t look at her more. You don’t need to go.”
“I’ll just go take a look, it’s nothing.” I broke away.
I went to the 20th floor and knocked on the door to Li Chuan’s office. After knocking a few times, there were still no answer. Regardless of the consequences, I pushed open the door and went in.
There was no one in the office. It was empty. There was a bit of a sour smell drifting in the air.
Then, I heard vomiting sounds, the painful and very awful kind of vomiting.
I rushed into the bathroom and saw Li Chuan kneeling on the ground with both legs, clinging onto the toilet and throwing up. His face was ashen and his lips had not a trace of color.
I knelt down and hugged him from behind, “Li Chuan…”
He didn’t pay attention to me and continued to dry vomit. His body convulsed continuously. I didn’t know how long he had been vomiting. I only knew that it was extremely painful for him to kneel like that with his prosthetic leg on.
“Drink a bit of water, rinse your mouth.” I tried my best to seem calm. He had his head buried the whole time as he took the bottled water I handed him. After drinking half a sip, I didn’t know what nerve was triggered, but he started vomiting again. His stomach was empty a long time ago. He could only throw up a bit of mucus.
I reached out towards his waist and helped him take off his prosthetic leg. His body suddenly lost it’s balance and fell onto my body.
I supported himself with effort and used my hand to pat him on the back, asking in a loud voice, “Are you better? If you get up now, you might get dizzy from the sudden movement. Let’s stay and sit on the floor for a while.”
Li Chuan helplessly leaned against me, his body was weak. In the beginning, he still tried to prop himself up with his hands, but he finally lost all of his strength.
I held him and sat on the floor of the bathroom for nearly fifteen minutes. I was a bit afraid that Li Chuan will be angry because of this. Li Chuan never wanted me to see when he was weak. After awhile, he finally had the strength to say, “Please, get my crutches…”
I picked up the crutches and handed them to him.
He stood up with great effort and first went to the sink to wash his face. Then he took out a bottle of medicine and swallowed a pill. He sat on the single seated sofa on the opposite side and looked at me gloomily asking, “What did you need me for?”
“No…nothing…I was just worried…” I was afraid and couldn’t help but stammer, “You didn’t eat something bad, did you?”
“I’ll take you to go see the doctor.” I reached into my purse to look for the car key before suddenly recalling that I didn’t drive a car this morning.
“Not going. I’m not going anywhere.” He looked at me impatiently, “Stop standing in front of me!”
I told myself, don’t get angry, I won’t get angry, I won’t get angry, I definitely won’t get angry.
I found a chair and sat down, saying, “It’s fine if you don’t go to the hospital. I’ll stay here with you. If something happens to you, I can call the ambulance.”
He looked at me coldly and said, “Since it’s like this, then why don’t you go buy me a cup of juice downstairs.”
“Okay, okay, I’ll go immediately.”
I hurried downstairs and brought a cup of warm juice that Li Chuan loved to drink. When I returned to the office, I found Xiao Wei already sitting there. She blocked me and said, “Mr. Wang is resting and is not seeing anyone.”
“It’s like this, he had me help him buy a cup of juice.”
“Give the juice to me.” Xiao Wei repeated very politely, “Mr. Wang specially instructed that he won’t see anyone.”
Under Xiao Wei’s suspicious gaze, I lost face and returned to my own office. I ate cookies while sulking and doing handwritten translations.
At six, I promptly got off work. The elevator opened with a “ding.”
It was a clash of the opponents. Inside, stood an impeccably dressed, neat and tidy, Li Chuan with a faint smell of CK on him. Besides his complexion being a bit pale, he appeared relaxed and content. He looked at ease as if he was an official about to go on a visit to his lands.
I grimly looked up and entered the elevator.
“Getting off work?” He was actually striking up a conversation.
“…” I looked at the wall.
“Will you be going to Hui Xian restaurant to eat later?”
“…” I looked at the floor.
“Ding”, the elevator suddenly stopped. He had pressed the emergency stop button.
I glared at him.
“I’m sorry, my attitude wasn’t good this afternoon. Please forgive me.” Li Chuan was great at apologizing. Every time he apologized, he seemed very sincere. But I was still angry and still ignored him.
“I drank the juice you bought me. If you don’t believe me, look. There’s only a little bit left. I’m saving it to drink at night.” He let go of his crutches and took out a glass bottle from his bag and shook it in front of me.
There really was only a bit of red juice left.
I looked at him, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. I finally said, “You were throwing up like that at noon, can you still eat seafood tonight?”
“Because I threw up, that’s why I have to eat. I have to eat double the amount tonight and eat back all that I threw up.” The corners of his mouth rose slightly with a trace of teasing smile.
“Li Chuan, looks like you aren’t completely better. You should rest a few more days before coming to work.”
“I slept for the entire afternoon,” he said. “I can also rest at work.”
I couldn’t help but raise my head to look at him. Li Chuan was really strong mentally. He had been suffering so horribly at noon while vomiting with the look of someone who was near death. In the evening, his energy and temper was completely back.
“I didn’t drive my car here. Can I ride you car to Hui Xian restaurant?”
“Yes.” Perhaps he felt that he had to pay for his excessive conduct in the afternoon, but his tone was at ease.
“Can you give me René’s number?” I wanted to profit from this.
“I want to invite him to eat.”
“Give me your cellphone, I’ll enter it for you.” He knew my memory wasn’t good. Within a second, I would forget a number larger than five digits.
I handed him my cellphone and he entered in the number.
I seized the opportunity to say, “Enter your number as well. It’ll be convenient for me to look for you.”
He returned the phone to me, “Forget mine, you won’t have to look for me for anything.”
I became angry and looked at him for a long time in disdain, unable to say anything.
He pressed a button and the elevator slowly went down.