Chapter 1 I am Liqiang
It was seven o'clock at night—exactly dinner time. As usual, the restaurant Fragrant Pot, which was situated at the end of a one hundred foot long alleyway, was already bustling with noise and excitement.
The kitchen of the restaurant was in full swing. Steam and the aroma of various cuisines pervaded the surroundings. Within the restaurant, the waiters tasked with taking orders were busily doing their jobs; those in charge of serving customers were also bustling around, and the ones who were tidying up the tables and chairs were doing just that. They were completely mixed in with the customers.
Apart from the fact that it was quite clean, this small restaurant wasn’t remotely similar to a top-class restaurant. The reason for the restaurant’s popularity was mainly due to the fact that the boss had poured his blood and sweat into managing it. In addition to this, the meals were cheap and the flavor was quite decent. The majority of people who had eaten here became returning customers. This was why the restaurant was incredibly crowded with people whenever during their daily meal times, especially at night.
In contrast to the bustle of the first floor, the second floor of the restaurant was relatively quiet. A number of private rooms could be seen on the second floor, separated by room dividers and green plants. When seated upstairs, one could even see the distant Huxin Park through the window.
At this moment, within a secluded private room facing a window on the second floor of the restaurant...
A man and a woman were currently seated across a table from each other. They remained silent—causing a strange atmosphere to pervade the private room.
The dishes had already been served earlier and were just sitting there on top of the table. However, no one had touched them.
The man appeared to be more than twenty years old and wore the most ordinary of t-shirts and jeans. He was quite handsome and possessed thick eyebrows along with large eyes, looking quite similar to the Hong Kong celebrity, Luo Jialiang. In comparison, the woman was dressed in an extremely meticulous manner. She matched her black Chanel silk gown with a pearl necklace. With her locks of long, raven hair and her beautiful face, she appeared elegant and dressed in good taste. It had even caused the waiter who served the food earlier to be unable to restrain himself from taking a second glance.
Apart from the aroma of the dishes on the table, the fragrance of top quality perfume which permeated from the woman’s body could also be detected within the private room. But to the man, the scent of the perfume was unfamiliar.
"We haven’t met for a month, yet you’ve changed your perfume?" The man smiled, raising his eyes to look at the woman before him. He paused for two seconds before solemnly saying, "Jiaying, there’s no need for you to use perfume. You smell the best after you’ve taken a shower with scented soap..."
Seeing that the man had broken the silence, the woman also withdrew her gaze from the treetop in the distant park outside the window. She gazed seriously at the man sitting across from her and hesitated for a moment. "I… actually have something I want to discuss with you today!"
"What’s wrong?" As the man spoke, he had already picked up his chopsticks. As per usual, he helped the woman to her favorite seasoned stir-fried pork strips and placed it into her bowl. "Let’s talk as we eat. I was waiting for you just now. The food has already become slightly cold!"
"Let’s break up…"
The man’s gentle and kind personality allowed the girl to summon her courage all at once. She immediately expressed her thoughts, not caring about the consequences in the slightest. No matter what happened, this woman knew that the man sitting before her wouldn’t do anything to her. The dramatic affairs between a large number of couples after breaking up would end up becoming a crime/action movie. The minority would even transition into a horror or even a disaster film.
However, the man currently sitting in front of her, from when they had met until now, for the entire three years they’d been together, had never once raised his voice at her. Because of her understanding of the man, the woman knew that even if she were to propose them breaking up, the man would never do anything to her. Thus, the outcome of the break up today would only be a literary film.
After she finished, she gazed at the man’s face. She had already prepared excuses to give him prior to this. However, what she didn’t expect was that when he heard the words ‘break up,’ his facial expression wouldn’t change in the slightest. He didn’t appear shocked, nor was he stunned. There was no sadness, no heartache or hysteria. He only froze mid-motion for a brief moment, halting his actions of helping her to some food. Following this, the man placed the food into his own bowl.
He calmly ate his meal, then shot a glance at the woman before speaking in an indifferent tone, "Okay! I agree!"
The man’s indifferent attitude caused the woman to let out a sigh of relief. At the same time, her pride as a female caused her to feel slightly disappointed, even a tiny bit angry and unresigned.
Could it be that this man had feigned affection towards her through all these years? Or had he never truly loved her to begin with?
A woman’s heart was unpredictable.
"I hope you can forgive me!"
"It’s fine. This is probably because we’re not destined for each other. Today is your birthday. Initially, I wanted to give you a surprise. but it seems like there isn’t a need for one!" The man was still calm. He ate his meal as he spoke, seemingly indifferent about the situation. "I never expected that you’d be the one to surprise me instead!"
The woman was not the least bit interested in the birthday surprise the man mentioned. She only stared at the man with a judgemental and discerning gaze. "Do you know why I wanted to leave you?"
"That’s no longer important..." said the man calmly as he sighed. He cast a gaze towards the woman. It was difficult to make out even the slightest bit of sorrow on his face.
The woman glanced at the man as she shook her head. "My best friends from the past are now either driving a Mercedes-Benz, a BMW, or living in villas. If they’re not out shopping, then they are either indulging themselves with beauty treatments or doing yoga. Each one of them is living a satisfying life. I don’t want to become a faded old woman by the time I turn thirty, still thinking of how to pay the house loan on a small house with you every single day, living frugally to pay for the children’s education, or sending the elderly to the hospital..."
"So this is like what the female guest said on ‘If You Are the One’? She would rather cry in a BMW than laugh on a bicycle?"
"That’s right!" The woman fell silent for a few seconds before nodding honestly.
"However, I’ve never taken you on a bicycle ride before!" The man gazed solemnly at the woman. He earnestly corrected her, "I let you ride an electric scooter! It’s environmentally friendly, convenient, and can even do a three-hundred-and-sixty degree spin!"
Even now, this man was still able to have an untimely sense of humor? He really hadn’t changed at all...
Nonetheless, the woman did not laugh.
"I’ll be thirty in a few years. I’m not young anymore. I want to seize the chance while I’m still relatively young to find a reliable man. I’m not a woman who can undergo hardships and struggles with you!"
"I can tell!"
"Perhaps our meeting back then was a mistake!" The woman stood up and grabbed her bag, preparing to leave.
"I already ordered the dishes. As this is probably our last time eating together, just treat it as a farewell dinner. Don’t waste it. Just leave after you’ve finished..." He lifted his head and glanced at the woman. She hesitated for a moment and then sat down once again.
The woman half-heartedly moved her chopsticks. In actual fact, she didn’t eat much at all. However, the man was heartless; he ate two bowls and finished more than half of the food on the table. In the end, he paid the bill and left.
Upon departing from the small store, early evening had fallen and the lanterns were beginning to light up. The two of them stood outside the restaurant before courteously splitting up.
The woman walked towards Huxin Road at the other end of the alleyway. Unexpectedly, the man also walked towards the same road.
"Yan Liqiang, we’ve already broken up…" After taking a few steps, the woman turned her head and spoke coldly to the man who was trailing after her.
"Miss Lu Jiaying, I believe you’ve mistaken my intentions. I’m going to take a car!" smiled Yan Liqiang.
"Isn’t your electric scooter somewhere in the storage station?" Lu Jiaying scrutinized the man with a grudging gaze.
She knew that when they came here to eat ordinarily, Yan Liqiang would always drive his electric scooter. Once they had finished eating, he would leave in the opposite direction of the alleyway. The only difference was that she had always left together with this man back then. Today, however, there wasn’t any need to do that anymore.
"I want to use a vehicle today!" exclaimed Yan Liqiang, shrugging his shoulders.
The woman grit her teeth and didn’t speak any further. Yan Liqiang also didn’t utter another word. Both of them walked towards the mouth of the alleyway.
By the entrance of the alleyway, a seemingly thirty year old man stood by a shiny black BMW5 as he posed like a car model and waited for the woman to emerge. Upon seeing the woman walking out with Yan Liqiang, he was slightly taken aback and once again shot a glance at the woman. In return, she gave him a meaningful gaze. After understanding the woman’s message, a reserved yet arrogant smile emerged on the BMW man’s face. He then proceeded to move towards the two.
"Greetings, you must be Yan Liqiang. Jiaying has talked about you before..." The BMW man made a victory stance as he arrogantly stretched out his hand to Yan Liqiang. "Jiaying told me that you were doing quite well in a mobile phone company. You’ll even be promoted to an assistant manager in the near future! You’re also preparing to buy a house on a mortgage..."
It was unclear as to whether the man’s tone was praising him or taunting him instead.
However, a radiant smile emerged on Yan Liqiang’s face, without the slightest trace of frustration or dejection. He extended his hand and vigorously clenched the BMW man’s hands. He swung it as though two troops from the Red Army had joined forces at Shanbei in the previous years, filled with excitement, passion, looking magnanimous, and as though relieved from a burden. "Hahaha! That work was only temporary! It was quite fun. However, I have to leave soon. Tonight’s the flight, so it will probably be difficult for us to meet again in the future. I am entrusting Jiaying to you. Jiaying is a nice girl; she’s gentle and kind. I hope you can take good care of her from now on. Oh right, I suppose Jiaying has never told you before. Never feed her iced watermelon when it’s hot because she gets headaches easily. Also, remember to boil water with molasses and fresh ginger whenever she isn’t feeling well..."
The victorious smile on the man’s face froze slightly. He then eyed the woman in suspicion. The woman was also puzzled, as she originally believed that Yan Liqiang had followed her because he felt unresigned and intended to duke it out with her new boyfriend. This was an act that every man would have done, but she had hoped that Yan Liqiang would back out after seeing her new boyfriend. However, what she didn’t expected was that Yan Liqiang’s current behavior was completely unlike a man who had just been dumped.
"Rushing to your flight? I’ll drive you to the airport then. After all, it’s quite far from here to the airport. Jiaying said you normally drive your electric scooter..." The BMW man continued to act ‘courteous.’
"There’s no need. My ride is here..."
As Yan Liqiang finished speaking, a poised, luxurious, silver Rolls-Royce Phantom came speeding in the distance. It came to a direct stop right in front of the BMW man’s car.
The Rolls-Royce’s license plate was from Shanghai. Even the license plate number appeared to be incredibly domineering. As the Rolls-Royce came to a halt, a seemingly forty year old driver dressed in a well-ironed Armani suit as well as a beautiful blonde haired and blue-eyed woman simultaneously exited the car. She wore high heels along with golden thread spectacles as she carried a briefcase. The woman owned a pair of beautiful, bewitching legs and seemed as though she was an astute, capable, and experienced model of an office lady; she was akin to Iron Man’s secretary.
When the Rolls-Royce Phantom came to a stop, the passers-by on the street were already turning their heads in order to look.
The driver wearing the Armani suit stood before Yan Liqiang and graced him with a humble bow. He then said, "Young master, the plane is ready. It’s waiting for you at the airport!"
Under Lu Jiaying and the BMW man’s wide-eyed and stunned expressions, Yan Liqiang spread his arms and affectionately embraced the beautiful female secretary. "Claudia! It’s been a while!"
"Young master, getting a flight plan approved for private planes in China is too bothersome!" exclaimed the beautiful female secretary in chinese as she shook her head after breaking out of Yan Liqiang’s embrace. She grumbled softly, before directly taking out a document from the briefcase she held. "Oh yeah! This is the medieval castle that was on sale in Europe which young master wanted me to pay attention to. I’ve prepared a set of statistics. There are a couple of nice castles in France. Young master, do you want to take a look? If you require it, I can immediately arrange for the property rights lawyer to make the relevant arrangements. However, young master, buying a real estate like a castle in France contains a number of law procedures. It requires at least a few months to get it done..."
"It’s alright…" Yan Liqiang only took a quick glance at the document, before he shook his head. "This was originally a gift and a surprise. However, it seems that they aren’t needed anymore. My father was right, I’m too naive..."
"Additionally, I have prepared the necessary materials for the soccer club in Europe that the chairman wanted to purchase."
"Okay. Let’s look over them on the plane…"
After he finished, Yan Liqiang walked towards the Rolls-Royce. The driver in the Armani suit had already advanced two steps, personally and respectfully opening the car door for Yan Liqiang.
As he was about to lower his head to enter the car, Yan Liqiang suddenly stopped. He turned around and glanced at the pale Lu Jiaying, who was gazing at him with an astonished expression, as well as the completely dumbstruck BMW man. In the end, he uttered, "The both of you really are a perfect match for each other. I hope that the two of you can live to a ripe old age together."
Following this, Yan Liqiang entered the car. The pretty woman named Claudia quickly glanced at Lu Jiaying and smiled. However, she didn’t speak and also entered the car. Finally, the driver in the Armani suit also moved back into his driver’s seat. Under the group of dumbstruck gazes, the stunning Rolls-Royce Phantom quietly passed through the street outside Huxin Park, and vanished within the traffic. Leaving behind a vexed woman on the verge of collapse and a completely withered man who was struck dumb as they stood at the mouth of a hundred foot long alleyway…