BXXD Chapter 3: I’ll write off everything that happened between us

Due to the unexpected torrential rainstorm, everyone was detained on Lion King Island. Fortunately, there was a five-star hotel right next to the casino, so the guests didn’t have to worry about finding a place to stay. Once the banquet concluded, the Jin family dispatched luxury cars to take the guests over to the hotel one by one.

In contrast, we “external personnel” weren’t so lucky. We were casually assigned a few temporary rooms in the staff building next to the castle.

The staff building was occupied solely by the employees who worked in the castle. The facilities weren’t even as good as that of a guest house, much less a five-star hotel. If you needed to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, you had to walk a couple dozen meters with a flashlight in hand, all the way down to the shared restroom at the very end of the hall.

Xiao Ke, the worker in charge of finding a place for us to stay, said that the hallway lights in the building had been out for quite a while now. They had submitted a maintenance request some time ago, but nobody ever came to fix it. Since we were only staying there for one night anyway, he told us just to put up with it.

Though the accommodations weren’t particularly impressive, at least they were all single rooms, so we didn’t have to squeeze together. This could probably be considered making the best of an unfortunate situation.

I set my cello down in the corner of the dark room. Then, I opened the balcony door to check the weather outside.

The balconies were extremely small, only big enough to fit about two people. They protruded from the exterior wall like a flight of stairs, and they were also very close together.

It was still raining, but it seemed to be lessening. It would most likely stop before daybreak.

It was especially quiet at night on the small island. The ancient castle nearby had already sunk into a deep slumber; only the street lamps on the ground level remained lit up. Every so often, you could see people in plastic raincoats patrolling back and forth throughout the area.

Before Xiao Ke led us into the staff building, he specifically warned us not to roam around randomly during the night. We were close to the main residence, so security was tight, and we would likely be punished if we chose to wander around, since we were unknown personnel.

When he said that, everyone simultaneously fell silent. Nobody was brave enough to ask what he meant by “be punished.”

There was the sound of a door opening to my left, and I looked over to see Fang Luosu stepping out of her room, wrapped in a wool coat. She held a pack of cigarettes in her hand.

She didn’t expect me to be outside as well. Slightly taken aback, she nodded at me in greeting.

“Are you feeling okay?” As she spoke, she skillfully drew out a cigarette from the box, along with a lighter from her pocket. Then she ducked her head and lit the cigarette.

Before tonight, I never knew that she was actually a smoker.

“I’m fine.” I swept another glance at the dark, overcast sky before I turned around, intending to go back inside. “You should go to bed after you’re done smoking. It’s cold outside.”

Right as my hand landed on the doorknob, I heard Fang Luosu’s voice ring out again.

“Do you think that… I’m pretty despicable?” 

Startled, I kept my eyes trained on the doorknob and didn’t say anything.

“Really… that was really the only time.” Fang Luosu said, trembling, “Ji Ning, count this as me begging you. Don’t tell Nan Xian. I’ll yield the principal cellist position to you, I’ll never fight for it again.”

My fingers tightened around the doorknob as I looked at Fang Luosu in disbelief. “Do you think that I’m doing all this just to be the principal cellist?”

With reddened eyes and an almost extinguished cigarette held between her fingers, Fang Luosu was caught off guard by my question.

“Th-that’s not what I meant…” she denied hastily.

I sighed and removed my glasses, a little exhausted. Massaging the bridge of my nose, I said, “Nan Xian has a right to know everything. I’m his friend, so I can’t pretend like nothing happened…”

“I’m pregnant.”

I froze in the middle of pinching my nose and turned to look at Fang Luosu in astonishment, wondering if I had misheard her.

Fang Luosu took a shaking drag from her cigarette before she flashed an ugly smile at me. “Don’t worry, it’s Nan Xian’s. We were always planning on having children. I know that it’s all my fault, I really won’t make the same mistake again. Ji Ning, believe me. If Nan Xian finds out about me and Director Xin, he’s definitely going to divorce me. Ji Ning, do you have the heart to ensure that this child is born into an incomplete family?”

I stared at her pale face and suddenly felt the vague urge to laugh. This was too ridiculous. After all these twists and turns, I actually ended up as one of the vital links in this incident. Not only would my decision affect Nan Xian, it would also affect an innocent unborn life.

This move of Fang Luosu’s—to advance by retreating, to conquer with softness—was indeed contemptible. But needless to say, it was effective against me.

I knew all too well how important an intact family and a loving set of parents could be for a child.

During the countless nights where my mother rushed about constantly for the sake of money, where she was so tired that she instantly fell asleep when she got home, I would always wish that my father was still alive. Even if he was a piece of scum, even if he was full of lies, at least he could help provide something if he were alive. We would also be able to get by without so much hardship.

As long as I kept my mouth shut and pretended not to know anything, everyone could be a big happy family, filled with delight and satisfaction…

This wasn’t a decision that could be made right away, so I went into my room silently and didn’t answer Fang Luosu. Ten minutes later, I heard the neighboring door close as Fang Luosu also went inside.

The balcony door kept clattering noisily because of the wind, making it hard for me to fall asleep. On top of that, incidents from high school kept surging through my mind, probably due to my encounter with Ran Qingzhuang earlier in the evening. The more I thought about it, the more I couldn’t fall asleep.

Like any other musical instrument, you had to practice the cello diligently if you wanted to be good at it. Unfortunately, our apartment building had particularly bad soundproofing, so you couldn’t make much noise at all. Although I could practice if I installed a mute, it ultimately wasn’t as accurate as if I didn’t have one.

In order not to cause any conflicts with our neighbors, I would sometimes carry my cello to school and wait until the end of the day so that I could practice in an empty classroom. Over time, the teacher found out and asked the school to specially set aside a vacant classroom for me, one that I could use just for practicing my cello.

The story of how I came to know Ran Qingzhuang also began in that empty classroom.

One day in my second year of high school, the teacher suddenly called me to the office and said that there was something they wanted to discuss with me.

Uneasy and nervous, I thought that it was about something important, but I finally understood after listening to the teacher talk for a while—a student in my year was receiving disciplinary action from the school due to fighting off-campus. The school was penalizing him by making him stay after school for an entire semester to clean. Somehow, one of the teachers had a eureka moment and suddenly thought of me; thinking that we were a perfect match, they advised the head of our grade to make me the supervisor of said student. I would make sure that the student finished his cleaning duties, and I would simultaneously help him with his studies so he could improve his grades.

The school had assisted me quite a bit in the past. Since this wasn’t an excessive request, I agreed without giving it much thought. At least it shouldn’t be much harder than helping my little sister with her homework.

As a result, after school let out that afternoon, I went to the empty classroom to practice my cello as usual. When I pushed open the door, I saw Ran Qingzhuang sitting kicked back in his chair. He looked bored out of his mind as he spun a pen between his fingers.

I walked over to him and introduced myself politely. “Hi, I’m Ji Ning. If you have any questions you don’t understand, you can ask me. I’ll do my best to explain them to you.”

Ran Qingzhuang swept a glance at me before he let all four of his chair legs settle back on the ground. He folded his hands over each other and slumped forward on the desk before he said in a muffled voice, “You practice your cello, I’ll take my nap. Don’t bother me.”

At first, he was extremely uncooperative. Even though he would report punctually to the empty classroom every day, he never interacted with me, nor did he do any of his homework. He only slept.

The teachers didn’t seem to care what he did either. Bearing an “eternally grateful as long as he isn’t causing trouble” mindset, they never asked me how my tutoring situation was progressing.

I would generally stay until seven in the evening before packing up to leave. As I put away my cello and bow, Ran Qingzhuang would also stretch lazily and wake up. Then he would sling his backpack over his shoulder and leave a step ahead of me.

At first, I was puzzled and didn’t understand who he was putting on a show for. It was only later that I learned he was doing it for his grandma’s sake.

The old woman was also probably aware that Ran Qingzhuang wasn’t very easy to manage. She was extremely happy after she learned that the school had found someone who could help her grandson with his homework every day after school. One time when it was raining, she came to bring an extra umbrella to the school, and she held my hand and thanked me for a long time.

Later, after Ran Qingzhuang withdrew from school, I went to his house to try and find him. I discovered then that his grandma had already passed away, whereas he was nowhere to be found.

A strange, soft sound abruptly came from outside of my room, as if something had struck the balcony door. It immediately dragged my thoughts out of my old memories and back into reality.

I didn’t turn on the light. Instead, I put on my glasses, stuffed my feet into my slippers, and got out of bed to investigate.

The wooden balcony door swung open gently towards the inside of my room. The rain had already stopped at some point outside, and the salty sea breeze curled through my hair, carrying with it several loud voices from downstairs.

It was so late. Why was it still this noisy down there?

I wanted to poke my head out and see what was going on down below, but right as I took a step outside, a large palm shot out from the side and firmly covered my nose and mouth. A chilly sensation pressed against my neck.

The smell of tobacco slipped into my nose, mixed with the earthy scent of rain. Eyes wide, I was so terrified that I couldn’t make a single sound, and my body went so stiff that even my breathing stopped.

A dark and windy night—the snowstorm villa method—murder on an isolated island?

In the span of a few short seconds, many things flashed across my mind, unexplainable and chaotic.

“Don’t make any noise,” the other person said in a hushed voice as he pushed me into the room and crowded me into the corner.

This voice…

My head shot up. Borrowing the feeble rays of light shining in from outside, I locked eyes with the other person.

Ran Qingzhuang probably didn’t expect to run into me so coincidentally either, and a trace of astonishment flitted through his eyes. The dagger against my neck moved away slightly.

We met again in a strange location less than twelve hours later. But why did he appear so late at night on my balcony? Could it be that the more he thought about it, the more he realized how much he detested me, so he came to kill me as a way of silencing me?

Before my imagination could run even more wild, I heard the sound of people banging on doors in the hallway. The knocks started traveling closer and closer; it seemed to be a room inspection.

The hand covering my nose and mouth abruptly increased in force. Ran Qingzhuang stared at the door of the room with a somewhat apprehensive expression.

“Open the door, open the door!”

“Stop sleeping, hurry up and open the door!”

The commotion outside grew ever closer. Ran Qingzhuang’s muscles tensed bit by bit, like a leopard that was fully on guard and was prepared to jump up and attack at any moment.

Those people are here in pursuit of Ran Qingzhuang. Right as that thought popped into my head, Ran Qingzhuang released his hold on me and dragged me over to the bed before pushing me down onto it.

I toppled onto the puffy bedding. Before I could react, he straddled me and started to take off his clothes.

“Help me.” Panting, he swiftly shed his shirt and loosened his pants. His expression was strained, but his voice was very calm. “After tonight, I’ll write off everything that happened between us.”

My head was stuffed full by this abrupt turn of events. For a period of time, it ceased to function well, so I couldn’t really understand what he meant.

However, Ran Qingzhuang began pulling at my clothes before I could say anything. His actions were too rushed, and he even tore off two of my shirt buttons.

“Open the door!” At that moment, the room inspectors just happened to arrive outside of my door.

Through my clothes, I could feel Ran Qingzhuang’s dagger pressed against the side of my waist like a kind of warning, telling me to choose my words carefully.

“Open the door quickly! If you’re not gonna open it, we’re going to force it open!”

The banging on the door grew even louder. Ran Qingzhuang silently jerked his chin towards the door, indicating for me to answer.

Lying on my back underneath him, I swallowed and raised my voice to ask, “What is it?”

The person outside thumped heavily on the door and said, “We need to come in and take a look, hurry up and open your door!”

“Right now, it’s… it’s inconvenient.”

“Fucking hell, what could possibly be inconvenient? Don’t be so delicate, open the door for laozi…”

It went briefly quiet outside before a different male voice suddenly spoke. This one was more hoarse and chilly than the other one. “Force the door open.”

The instant that voice spoke, Ran Qingzhuang pressed his lips together tightly. Then, he clasped both my wrists in one hand and pinned my arms above my head, before he lowered his head and bit down on my neck.

On the narrow and disheveled single bed, Ran Qingzhuang was mounted on top of me, exposing his firmly muscled upper body. Meanwhile, the front of my shirt gaped open as my chest heaved violently; for some unknown reason, I arched my back.

When the door of my room was kicked open from outside, this was the ambiguous scene displayed to the new arrivals.

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