“Why don’t we do this? You two siblings and Shi Qing are all young ladies of similar age. You can chat with one another. I, I’ll go and prepare dinner.”
Qiao Nan was back. Qiao Dongliang thus heaved a huge sigh of relief. After leaving these words behind, he hurried into the kitchen.
Shi Qing blinked and smiled. “Why do I feel that Uncle Qiao seemed to have escaped? It’s as if there’s a ghost chasing after him.”
“I…” Qiao Nan’s tone sounded stiff. “I haven’t quite figured that out too.”
Even if her father and Qiao Zijin were not on the best terms, her father should still feel happy to see Qiao Zijin. This time, her father’s reaction seemed odd. Just as Shi Qing had said, it did not seem better to see Qiao Zijin than to see a ghost.
Qiao Nan was unaware of something. In the past few months, she had got along well with Shi Qing. Shi Qing was quite good to Qiao Dongliang as well.
Qiao Dongliang then realized that two daughters in the family could actually get along harmoniously, such as Qiao Nan and Shi Qing. He was enjoying twice the filial piety. Given this, Qiao Dongliang then felt awkward about Qiao Zijin coming back.
This was because if Qiao Zijin and Ding Jiayi were around, he would never have the opportunity to experience such an atmosphere.
Qiao Dongliang had now been used to a cordial and harmonious family atmosphere. If he had to return to that family that practiced favoritism and was forever filled with tit-for-tat struggles, of course, he could not tolerate it anymore.
Qiao Zijin was still his daughter. It was just that he was not as persistent as before on Qiao Zijin, this daughter of his. After all, humans were selfish. They wished to lead a good life and not endless arguments and verbal abuses.
Qiao Zijin, who was walking out and hoping to get closer to Qiao Nan, happened to hear Shi Qing’s ‘ghostly talk’. Her expression could not help changing. “Nan Nan, you’re back. Quickly come in. I brought some freshly baked moon cakes. Try it and see if it’s nice.”
When Qiao Nan and Shi Qing entered the house, they saw moon cakes on the table. The two of them faced each other but none dared to lay their hands on the box of moon cakes. Qiao Nan was afraid that her life would be shortened after taking it and Shi Qing did not fancy such food.
“Nan Nan, why aren’t you eating it? It’s very tasty. It’s freshly baked and smells good.” Qiao Zijin smiled. She then took the initiative to take one piece of moon cake and took a huge bite out of it. “The crust is soft and crispy and the stuffing smells fragrant. Nan Nan, this is your favorite red bean paste flavor.”
“Hmm…” Qiao Nan smiled. “I’m not hungry yet. Besides, we’re going to have dinner soon, so I won’t eat moon cake first.” Even if Qiao Zijin had eaten the moon cakes, sorry, she really did not dare to touch anything that Qiao Zijin brought with her.
“You’re Qiao Zijin, right? Sorry to interrupt. Qiao Nan and I will go back to the bedroom and put away our schoolbags first. You won’t mind, will you?” She had finally met the infamous Qiao Zijin. Shi Qing felt that Qiao Zijin did not seem that threatening. Why did Qiao Nan suffer so much in Qiao Zijin’s hands?
“No problem,” Qiao Zijin said graciously. She did not seem petty at all.
Since Qiao Zijin had already said so, Shi Qing then pulled Qiao Nan and went to their bedroom. “Qiao Nan, what is your sister trying to do? Why did she come back during this period?”
“Didn’t she say it? It’s the Mid-Autumn Festival,” Qiao Nan replied without much emotion.
“Then, how about your mother?” If it was a reunion during the Mid-Autumn Festival, then shouldn’t Qiao Zijin’s mother be back too?
Qiao Nan put away her schoolbag and changed into a clean set of clothing. She was not worried at all. “Don’t worry. It won’t happen. Last time, when my mother and Qiao Zijin left, they committed grave mistakes. Judging from my dad’s behavior, he most likely feels very awkward when facing Qiao Zijin, this daughter of his, since it has been a long time since they last met. Even Qiao Zijin can’t smooth it out with my dad, yet my mom wishes to come back? Tough.”
What she was most concerned about was that ‘steady’ behavior of Qiao Zijin. It was as if she was simmering the frog slowly. What exactly was she trying to do?
Having been used to Qiao Zijin’s straightforward and direct ways of doing things, Qiao Nan felt a great panic in her heart when she suddenly had to face this torturous and circumventing tactic of Qiao Zijin.
Shi Qing leaned on Qiao Nan’s shoulders. “We will take things in our stride. Regardless of what methods she uses, don’t be afraid. I’m here with you. I’ll definitely be able to protect you.” Wasn’t it just one Qiao Zijin? If she rolled up her sleeves, Qiao Zijin could not even escape one move of hers.
Qiao Nan smiled but remained silent.
Hard knives were not terrible, but the invisible ones that kill silently were.
With the appearance of Qiao Zijin, Qiao Nan, whose emotions were usually not easily affected, would unknowingly look as though her greatest enemy was approaching. It was no exception this time.
Fortunately, Qiao Zijin only stayed for one night. Before the Mid-Autumn Festival was over, she went home. “Dad, I’m going back. Mom is alone there. I’m worried. After all, it’s the Mid-Autumn Festival. Even if our whole family can’t be together, I can’t let Mom spend the festival alone. I’ll visit you again during my next school break.”
“Ah, okay.” Upon hearing that Qiao Zijin was going to leave after just one evening, Qiao Dongliang did not hold Qiao Zijin back like before. On the other hand, he could not help but feel relieved. “Take these things and eat them on the way.” Qiao Dongliang passed to Qiao Zijin a bag of items.
Qiao Zijin did not decline. She took over the bag, smiled at the three of them, and then left with self-awareness. She did not need anyone to send her off.
At the sight of Qiao Zijin leaving, Qiao Dongliang sighed.
If Zijin and Nan Nan could get along in this manner in normal times, how good would that be? Perhaps their family of four could still lead a nice life together.
These were regrets but the reality was different. Qiao Dongliang sighed but did not exclaim any regrets in front of Qiao Nan. Soon after, the life of the Qiao family went back to normal.
“Qiao Nan, you’re thinking of ways to earn money to pay back Brother Zhai, but today, Uncle Qiao…” At the thought of that bag of items that Qiao Dongliang passed to Qiao Zijin, Shi Qing was not especially pleased.
Qiao Nan, who was furiously writing and studying, paused. “No matter what, one is my dad’s wife and the other is his elder daughter. I can’t help it if my dad wants to give them money. I don’t have any reason to stop him from doing so too. Whoever bothers about this kind of things will suffer.”
Shi Qing felt unfair that Qiao Nan alone had to pay back the medical expenses of Qiao Dongliang. However, Qiao Zijin, like Qiao Nan, could also enjoy the support that Qiao Dongliang felt obligated to give her.
“Poor but generous.” Shi Qing mumbled to herself and simply went to her bed to prepare to sleep. “Unfortunately, my dad still can’t come back during this Mid-Autumn Festival…” Otherwise, she would not have seen that worrisome scene.
Regarding Qiao Dongliang handing some money to Qiao Zijin, Shi Qing could not judge if Qiao Dongliang was right or wrong in his actions. Anyway, she just felt unhappy and unfair for Qiao Nan when she saw that.
After Shi Qing fell asleep, Qiao Nan then listlessly held her head and stared into space. It was fine that her father gave money to Qiao Zijin. She was most concerned about whether Qiao Zijin would use her father’s money to deal against her!
If that was truly the case, it would be most depressing. Without her cooperation, it was not that easy for her father to save some money.