Zhao Lifei knew it was unwise to meddle with Zheng Tianyi anymore. It was especially unwise to try to attack the apple of Zheng Tianyi's eyes, Xia Mengxi.
Xia Mengxi was heavily guarded and protected. If one dared to harm his beloved, they would suffer far more than they could afford.
Because the Zhengs were the third most powerful family in the country, no one dared to antagonize them.
The previous Zhao Lifei from two years ago was not afraid of the warning signs. She had constantly placed a target on the innocent Xia Mengxi's back. She went as far as slandering and bullying Xia Mengxi who never fought back.
In her spite, Zhao Lifei had dug deep into Xia Mengxi's background, then discovered something she shouldn't have.
When she tried to expose her discovery, Xia Mengxi quickly approached Zheng Tianyi first. And because it was the first time she ever asked for his help, Zheng Tianyi was more than willing to help her. It lead to Zhao Lifei's biggest downfall and the loss of something extremely precious and irreplaceable.
Zhao Lifei would never be able to forget the taunting and horrifying memory of Zheng Tianyi's disgusted stare when she begged him to stay with her. She was on her knees, clinging and grasping to him. And what did he do to the woman who made him the man he was today? He called security to brutally strip her on the streets.
She was huddled in front of the Zheng Main Mansion and had to call a cab to go home. Luckily, it was night time and there was no paparazzi around to catch the humiliating sight. The word of what happened to her spread like wildfire. Within the span of a couple of hours, Zhao Lifei had lost everything.
"Xiao Fei, you're spacing out again." Zhao Moyao chided when he saw Zhao Lifei's blank stare.
"I'm sorry grandfather... I just have a lot in my mind." Zhao Lifei sheepishly said while taking a sip of the tea.
After ordering their food a while ago, the two were almost done eating.
"I can tell." He hummed, wiping his mouth with the cloth.
Zhao Lifei smiled at his bluntness. He wasn't the type of man to comfort people or offer them kind words. He showed his affection and kindness towards her in deliberate and small actions that were hard to catch without paying close attention.
She didn't mind his behavior.
"You're wearing quite professional clothes today." Zhao Moyao pointed out, staring at her white blouse and black pants.
"Yes, I was already expecting you might set me up in a meeting as usual when you invited me to a restaurant close to the corporation." Zhao Moyao laughed, the sound warm and hearty. "It seems you've already figured out my plans. But not today, my dear. It's nothing more than a casual lunch." He smiled, setting down his cup of tea.
Zhao Lifei slowly nodded and in the next thirty minutes, they had brief conversations on the last couple of days that Zhao Moyao was out of town.
- - - - -
After the lunch, Zhao Lifei went back home to repeat the same, mundane routine. There was nothing interesting in her life.
Two years ago, her life used to revolve around Zheng Tianyi and nothing else. Her schedule used to be filled with doing his paperwork, filing his contracts, creating his business plans, and wasting her entire day to help him run his company.
Zhao Lifei stepped out of the taxi and picked up her pace when she realized the sky was turning dark. The minute she stepped into the large lobby of Sky Arc Complex, the rain poured down.
From a tiny droplet to a storm as thunder rumbled in the distance, the rain became a harsh downpour.
Stepping into the elevators, Zhao Lifei was pleasantly surprised to see the same elevator hostess.
"Good afternoon, Ms. Zhao!" The woman greeted, bowing at her presence.
"Good afternoon to you as well." Zhao Lifei offered a warm smile to the elevator hostess who pressed the button to her floor.
"How was your day? I hope this job isn't that tiring." Zhao Lifei made small talk with the hostess who instantaneously replied back.
"It was alright, nothing out of the extraordinary! Aside from standing for a while, it's not as bad as my previous job." The elevator hostess happily explained.
Out of all of the wealthy people that walked in and out of her elevator, none of them bothered to smile and talk to her like Zhao Lifei.
She was really happy to have someone to talk to in such a boring and tiring job. Having to stand nearly all day was extremely tiring, but conversing with Zhao Lifei made her very energetic.
When she heard the rumors about Zhao Lifei and her the way she used to behave, she was a bit swayed by the opinions of other workers. But now that she had frequent talks with her, it seemed the rumors were nothing but simple gossips.
"Have a nice day, Ms. Zhao!" The hostess quickly said when the elevator door closed.
"Thank you, you too!" Zhao Lifei replied with a nod.
After keying in the complicated twenty letter passcode, scanning a thumb-pad, and then swiping the card key, Zhao Lifei walked into her spacious condo. Because her living room windows were so tall and wide, she could see the rain perfectly. The heavy rain created a very sorrowful and melancholy atmosphere.
Zhao Lifei removed her coat and set her bag down, then sat by the window to listen to the rain.
The sound of rain was so soothing, Zhao Lifei felt inclined to play a melody to accompany it. She stared at the polished, black piano sitting at the corner of the room, right beside the window.
It's been a couple of weeks since she had last played, but the rain created such a perfect setting, she knew she had to play it.
Zhao Lifei got up from her position and sat in front of the piano. Taking in a deep and composed breath of air, she closed her eyes. Following the tempo of the rain, she allowed her slender fingers to guide itself on the piano.
In a trance, she allowed herself to play all sorts of sorrowful pieces, starting with Mozart then ending with Beethoven. In her frenzy of playing the piano, her mind began to wander.
Once upon a time, she was a piano prodigy.
Before the birth of Zhao Linhua and the neglect of her mother, Zhao Lifei was an award-winning pianist whose performance awed the people into tears. She used to be surrounded by an endless array of trophies, banners, and awards dedicated to her. Any competition that she joined would be an effortless win.
When Zhao Linhua was discovered to also be a prodigy, Zhao Lifei was beyond ecstatic. Because she dearly loved her younger sister the minute she picked her up as a baby, she wanted to teach Zhao Linhua the art of the piano.
It was all fun and games until Zhao Linhua was compared to her older sister. Afterward, Linhua stopped playing the piano and locked herself in her room.
Zhao Lifei was heartbroken at the news and decided it was best to not outshine her younger sister. Thus, at the young age of fourteen, she placed her blooming career into a halt.
Stepping into the shadows, she allowed her younger sister to take the limelight.
And how did Zhao Linhua repay her? By purposefully showing off her parent's affection in front of Zhao Lifei who got none of it. Not only that, but Zhao Linhua had also chosen Xia Mengxi over her older sister.
"Never again..." Zhao Lifei muttered to herself when she felt the prickling pain of betrayal.
As the seconds turned into minutes and minutes into hours, Zhao Lifei practiced from sunset to midnight. She played nonstop until her fingers were so sore, it could barely move.
She was so concentrated on the piano, she didn't notice her shaky hands and the cold sweat on her forehead. Soon, she collapsed onto the piano, her eyes watching the window. With the moonlight casting a pale light upon her translucent skin, she fell into a deep sleep plagued by nightmares.