Edited by Planetes
Recently, my mother did not have much of an appetite. Her complexion was rather bad as well, and she kept holding onto her stomach, looking as though she was in pain. Auntie Li took her to the nearby clinic and they prescribed her some medication for her stomach, but she did not get better. Worried, I decided to bring her to the hospital for a check up a few days later when I had time off work.
Although the work at the supermarket was tiring, the shift was early. It just happened that a new luxury hotel in the city needed some waiters, and so, I tried my luck asking after it. In the end, they had two shifts, one in the morning and the other in the evening, and so I accepted this job too.
Now, after getting off work at the supermarket, I would hurriedly return home and grab a few bites before rushing off to the hotel. My mother did not know what I was doing outside, but each time I returned home, she would hand me the money she earned that day from selling scraps. When she saw that I accepted the money, her face would brighten up with joy. When she was not paying attention, I would place that money inside her yellow cloth bag. Looking at how she was still so foolishly happy despite being tricked, I felt a warmth within my heart.
When I reported at work that night, there seemed to be some very important guests in the hotel, and the supervisor urgently transferred some of the people from our team over. That was the hotel’s most expensive dining room. The room was decorated with a lavish, Chinese influence, and the most eye-catching thing within was the huge chandelier hanging from the middle of the ceiling, with crystals dangling. I nearly stopped just looking at it, and was dragged to the door of the room by the supervisor before I regained my senses.
A moment later, the manager led a group of people over. Just glancing at them from afar, I froze right where I was standing.
It was Lin Han, one of Yi Tian’s best buddies, and the person who hated me the most in the world.
That year, when I blackmailed Yi Tian with the photos, Lin Han was the one who got people to beat me up very badly. Actually, I could understand that sort of deep hatred. After all, Yi Tian was someone whom he had been in an unrequited love with for the past twenty years. For him to get involved in another relationship in this manner, if this happened to me, I would also go mad with hatred.
A group of people drew closer, and I did not dare to avoid them too obviously. I tried my best to pretend to be calm, standing there with my head bowed, and prayed silently that he would not notice me. One step, a second step… My fists tightened with anxiety when Lin Han walked past me. Only when he passed did I secretly sighed in relief.
“Hold on.” Lin Han suddenly turned and walked over to me. “Lift your head up.”
The entire group stopped and looked towards me. There was no way for me to continue hiding anymore, and with as much calm as I could muster, I lifted my head up and met his eyes. “Sir, do you need any help?”
Lin Han’s eyes widened momentarily. After a pause, he started laughing irrepressibly.
“Young Master Lin, is something wrong?” The manager hurried over, looking nervous and panicky.
“No, no… There’s nothing wrong at all.” Lin Han waved him off, wiping away the tears gathering at the corners of his eyes. Seemingly in a good mood, he entered the room. The manager followed closely behind, glancing at me with a frown before he left.
I sighed internally. I knew very well how Lin Han was like. Since I had been noticed by him, it was impossible for him to let me off so easily. Actually, ever since I broke up with Yi Tian, I had been worried all the while about falling into Lin Han’s hands. There was a chance that I would be killed by him and tossed away somewhere. Previously, I did not know if it was my good luck that he did not find me, or he did not bother looking for me at all, and so I managed to survive peacefully till now.
As expected, when the dishes were being served, the manager walked towards me, his face full of unease. “Young Master Lin has asked for you by name to go inside. What’s going on? Do you know each other?”
I shook my head. The manager sighed. “Don’t you give me any trouble. I would not be able to account for it to the higher ups if we end up offending the young master of the Lin family.”
Secretly smiling wryly, I knew that trouble was definitely coming. As for how it was going to make its way here, and how bad it was going to be, it was all out of my hands.
When I entered, two of my colleagues were serving the dishes. Lin Han looked at me as he smiled. “Come, please help me pour some tea.”
I silently made my way over. Taking the pot from my colleague next to me who looked completely at a loss, I filled up the teacup in front of Lin Han with my head lowered. Others too noticed the strange atmosphere, and the laughing and chattering all stopped.
The cup was full, and I placed the teapot down. Just as I was about to retreat, I received a strong kick to my calf. As I was unprepared, I lost my balance and fell to the ground.
Before I could even react, a dish was emptied onto my body. Fortunately, the food was not too hot, and I was not scalded at all. However, covered with food and oil, I looked rather pathetic.
Lin Han exclaimed with astonishment, then looked at me with no misgivings. “Ah, I’m really sorry. My hand slipped.”
Surrounding us was pin drop silence. No one dared to speak.
I struggled to my feet, all the food dripping off me. Wiping away the oil residue on my face, I headed out without a word.
“Stop there.” Lin Han’s voice came lazily from behind me. “Did I say that you could leave?”
I sighed silently.
If this happened a few days ago, I would definitely turn around and dump a plate of food over his head as well. At the most, I would be beaten to death, and I could care less. However, I now had a family, and my mute and foolish mother was still waiting for me back home. If I died, what would happen to her? I could not let her lose a child again.
As such, I only came to a stop. Turning around and looking at Lin Han expressionlessly, I stood there waiting for his instructions.
Lin Han took his own time picking up his tea. Drinking a mouthful, he immediately spat it out. Frowning, he asked, “What the hell is this? How disgusting.”
Immediately raising his head up to look at me, he was about to say something before he suddenly paused and stared behind me with rounded eyes.
I felt something. Turning around, I saw Yi Tian.
Time seemed to have turned back five years.
I was still in university then. Every night, I would work in a restaurant near my school to earn my school fees. One night, I met some drunk hooligans who were deliberately picking faults. When one of them kicked me down, and was about to throw a plate of food at me, he prevented them from doing so.
“Say, aren’t you guys going a little too overboard?” Yi Tian gripped that man’s wrist. He took the plate over, and with an unperturbed expression, he poured it over that man’s head.
Next was a chaotic fight between the two groups.
I stared blankly at this boy who was around my age. With a graceful move, he avoided an attack, and swiftly swung his fist out, beating those foul-mouthed hooligans all to the ground. His exuberant energy, his aloofness and absolute self confidence, they were completely different from me, all gloomy and pathetic. It felt as though he was surrounded by a halo.
Therefore Yi Tian actually could not blame me for pestering him like this. As a person who had always been living in the dark, once they saw a ray of light, felt a trace a warmth, how would they not want to try their best to keep that warm ray of light forever by their side? However, now, standing in front of Yi Tian with grease and oil all over me, this was like a comical conclusion to our first meeting five years ago.
The manager was standing behind Yi Tian, and his eyes were about to fall out when he saw me. Quickly running over, he rebuked me. “How did things end up like this?!”
Before I could explain, Lin Han’s voice came from behind me. “Manager Li, why do your servers not know how to serve even a dish?”
The manager’s head was almost touching the ground. “Please excuse us, Young Master Lin. He’s a newcomer, I’ll replace him immediately!”
“But how? I want him to be the one serving us today.”
I turned around, only to meet Lin Han’s icy gaze. The manager’s forehead was covered with sweat, and he did not know what to do. The atmosphere in the room only got even more tensed.
At this time, Yi Tian walked past us, straight to Lin Han. He patted his head, and there was a slight warning in his voice. “Don’t make trouble.”
Lin Han pursed his lips, responding unhappily, “Fine, fine, you can go.”
With the amnesty graced upon him, the manager apologised as he pulled me out of the room.
As I walked out, I was rather absent-minded as I thought. They would probably be unwilling to stop until they had stamped out the last shred of warmth and happiness within me.