It was circulated that Chen Yi Feng was interested in finding a new investment. The seniors at Qin’s company took advantage of the situation and did everything in their power to create relations with Chen Yi Feng.
The rumors were that Chen Yi Feng signed a contract with Qin Song’s uncles, openly declared Chen Yi Feng opposed Liang’s company to help topple Qin Song’s unstable position as the head of Qin’s company. As part of the contract Chen Yi Feng became a stakeholder of Qin’s company.
At the start most of Qin’s company stakeholders were intimidated by Qin Yun and Liang’s company influence in the market. But after hearing of Chen Yi Feng opposing Qin Song, those stakeholders withdrew their support for Qin Song to be Qin Yun’s successor.
Qin Song at Qin’s company was scrambling to keep supporters on his side.
Qin Song never voiced his work struggles with Han Ting Ting. But Han Ting Ting noticed that he’d been home late nearly every night and always came home with a tired look and she knew that something was wrong at Qin’s company.
‘Ting Ting… Ting Ting?’ Qin Yun called his dazed daughter-in-law.
‘Sorry, dad. What did you say?’ Han Ting Ting asked.
‘Ting Ting, I asked if you and Qin Song wanted to spend Christmas with us at Commander Zhang’s mansion?’ Qin Yun said. ‘Having everyone there will be lively. Then for New Year, you and Qin Song can spend it at your parents’ home.’
‘Is that possible?’ Han Ting Ting asked.
‘Of course. It’s your first Christmas as newlyweds, it would be good to join as on the festivities at Commander Zhang’s mansion. Straight after Christmas you and Song Song can head to your parents,’ Qin Yun said.
Han Ting Ting was excited at the prospect at having a lively Christmas. But she remembered Song Song’s tired state and hesitated. ‘Ah, I’ll need to discuss it with Song Song first.’
‘Song Song will definitely agree. Song Song hates spending New Year with my side of the family,’ Qin Yun said.
‘Why’s that?’ Han Ting Ting asked.
Han Ting Ting loved spending New Year with her dad’s side of the family.
‘Song Song never liked his uncles. They put too much pressure on him. Song Song rather work for Liang’s company than be the head of Qin’s company. Huh, now he knows he made a bad judgement. If he listened to me while I was healthy and spent more time with his uncles’ families then he wouldn’t be ostracized by his uncles at Qin’s company,’ Qin Yun gently explained.
‘Dad, why aren’t you stepping in to help Song Song?’ Han Ting Ting asked.
Han Ting Ting wanted to ask that question to Qin Yun long ago. She admired Qin Yun who ruled with an iron fist at Qin’s company for many decades. But couldn’t understand why Qin Yun would standby and do nothing to help Song Song when Song Song needed help.
‘Dad, or is it you want Song Song to learn a lesson before you help him?’ Han Ting Ting asked after deep thought.
Qin Yun shook his head. ‘Two months ago I had that exact thought. But now… it’s too late.’ His wife wasn’t here and it was only his daughter-in-law with him. Finally he was able to confide his true feelings about his son. ‘Ting Ting, I only have one son. I wanted to pa.s.s on all my life experience to Song Song. I wanted to tell him every lesson, failure and success that I’ve collected over the years. I want to give everything I have to him. I want him to surpa.s.s the expectations of those who doubted him… but it’s too late, I don’t have much time left. I can’t hang on long enough to watch him slowly improve. The few months I have left, I need to see how he can cope on his own. I need to see what decisions he’ll make to overcome obstacles. If he fails, it’d be ok, because I’m still here to show him why it didn’t work and advise him what’s the right course of action to take to achieve his goals. This is the most practical and also the last lesson I can give him.’
‘Dad! Dad don’t think like that… even though Song Song’s workload is busier by the day but he’s working hard to… he still reads research papers at night to find the best treatment and the best specialists to help you. He said nothing will happen to you… there’s nothing for you to worry about!’ Han Ting Ting said in a choked voice and her eyes stung.
‘I know,’ Qin Yun said and smiled gently. ‘But I can’t escape death. I can’t follow Song Song around his whole life. The person who’ll be by his side the rest of his life is you. You’re a good girl. Married to Song Song, it’s you that have made many sacrifices, in my heart I can see that clearly. But every parent is selfish when it comes to their own child, I’m deeply happy to see you by Song Song’s side. In the future… Song Song has to rely on you.’
Han Ting Ting left the hospital for a long time but she couldn’t stop crying.
Han Ting Ting didn’t interact often with Qin Yun. Usually Qin Yun is a serious person. Qin Yun treated her well and was gentler toward her than he was toward Song Song. But in her heart Qin Yun was the same type of person as her dad, someone she needed to always respect.
Han Ting Ting as an outsider could see the love Qin Yun reserved for Song Song. Qin Yun placed high expectations on Song Song. Qin Yun never stopped loving his only son. In Song Song’s life the people around him have loved him and spoiled him, Qin Yun was in that circle and Qin Yun reserved a special kind of love that no one else could offer Song Song.
It wasn’t that Qin Yun couldn’t help Song Song overcome obstacles… in the future Song Song would face more challenging obstacles. By that time Qin Yun wouldn’t be alive and exist in the world to follow Song Song and offer the support that Song Song needed.
Qin Yun was waiting to see the outcome of Song Song’s hard work, if at the critical moment Song Song couldn’t cope on his own, Qin Yun would advise Song Song what to do… Qin Yun wanted to be by the side of his precious son that he loved during the last few months left. Qin Yun wanted to see Song Song’s growth spurt, he wanted to see Song Song succeed. That way in the future when Song Song faced those unforeseen challenging obstacles… Song Song would look back and remember the final months spent with Qin Yun and how Qin Yun used the final strength he possessed to love and support Song Song.
Han Ting Ting asked her heart if her dad loved her in that way too? That her dad stood at a corner that she couldn’t see, to silently love and protect her. Like how Song Song always felt Qin Yun didn’t love Song Song… in the past her dad’s strict discipline style had hurt her deeply… but was that her dad’s way of showing her the deep love he reserved for her?
The hospital was close to Han Ting Ting’s parents’ home. She was deep in painful thoughts and cried on the way to her parents’ home. On a road not far from her parents’ home something was flung in front of her face, a piercing scream was heard and suddenly she felt a dull ache on one of her cheeks.
Han Ting Ting woke up from her shock. It was a beer bottle that was flung onto the wall beside her. The shattered beer bottle deflected onto the left side of her face. She absentmindedly rubbed her left cheek. Then on her palm she saw blood.
Afterward countless beer bottles were thrown at Han Ting Ting. Some of it hit her body and some was smashed against the wall. She was shaken and it took a while for her to crouch down and tucked her head between her knees. She cried and screamed for help at the same time.
Whilst Han Ting Ting was attacked by beer bottles, Qin Song finished a meeting. He cursed his uncles along the way back to his office and kicked the coffee table that was in front of his work desk.
Afterward Qin Song didn’t know why but he felt a sharp pain in his heart. The doc.u.ment he was amending wasn’t hard but he kept writing then crossing out mistakes… he couldn’t get rid of the feeling that something was wrong.
Qin Song felt frustrated he couldn’t shake off the bad feeling and flung his pen. At that moment Chen Yi Feng stepped into his office and narrowly missed Qin Song’s pen.
‘Mr Qin junior, Mr Chen, he…’ Qin Song’s a.s.sistant rushed in to explain Chen Yi Feng’s sudden appearance.
‘It’s nothing, you can leave,’ Qin Song said coldly.
Chen Yi Feng comfortably sat in front of Qin Song. ‘Forgive me for intruding. My time is limited. I can’t wait until you are free to see me. I had no choice but to resort barging into your office.’
‘You’ve already forced your way here. Mr Chen get to the point, what do you want?’ Qin Song asked.
‘Little Qin Song, you’re more grown up than you were in the past,’ Chen Yi Feng said. ‘When I cooperated with Liang’s company, you didn’t enjoy being around me. The first time you pushed the workload to Rong Yan and the second time you pushed it to Chen Yu Bai. We’ve never cooperated on a business transaction from start to end.’
Qin Song sat straight and kept eye contact with Chen Yi Feng.
‘Stop evading,’ Qin Song said. ‘Chen Yi Feng, aren’t you always finding an excuse to fight with me? Are you scared you can’t beat me on a one on one fight? That’s why you want to ambush me? Just fight with me directly that would be the manly thing to do.’
Chen Yi Feng lit a cigarette. ‘Are you game for a fight?’
‘Why wouldn’t I be? I’m not going to rely on Liang’s company backing. Take the first punch and I’ll fight you one on one,’ Qin Song said and leaned back on his chair. ‘Who’s going to be the winner and the loser is already clear. Whatever you’re planning you won’t be able to beat me. But I’m a generous person. I’ll give you an opportunity to fight with me.’
Chen Yi Feng’s rings of smoke were like daggers aimed at Qin Song.
‘Also…’ Qin Song said and reached for an ash tray to put in front of Chen Yi Feng. ‘Can you put out your cigarette? My wife doesn’t allow me to smoke. If I come home tonight and smell of smoke, I’ll find it hard to explain to my wife.’
Chen Yi Feng stiffened. He put out his cigarette and there wasn’t a trace of his usual smile.
Qin Song didn’t get the chance to gloat about his minor victory when he received a call from his sobbing mum-in-law. He heard a few words and his face paled. He stood and ran out of his office.
When Qin Song arrived at his in-laws’ house, Ting Ting got back from the hospital. Inside the house he didn’t see Ting Ting at the door and the sharp pain in his heart intensified. He saw his dad-in-law and panicked. ‘Where’s Ting Ting?’
Qin Song’s dad-in-law’s face was more solemn than usual. His dad-in-law pointed to Ting Ting’s old room.
Qin Song’s ‘little country bun’ sat in bed and was looking out the window.
Song Song strode into Han Ting Ting’s room. She heard footsteps and turned around. She saw it was Song Song and teared up. He gathered her in his arms and she cried on his chest.
Qin Song hugged Ting Ting tight then he was able to breathe calmly. He lifted her chin and turned her head left to right. ‘Where are you hurt?’
Han Ting Ting pointed at her left cheek. ‘Here.’
Qin Song saw Ting Ting’s left cheek had four shallow cuts. The beer bottles were thick and the broken gla.s.s didn’t strike deep into her skin. After a few days the shallow cuts would heal as though it never existed. It was because her skin was thin that made her bleed a lot. Her tender skin was slightly black and yellow. She cried until her eyes were swollen.
Qin Song laughed out of joy. When he received the phone call he was scared to death that she suffered a serious injury.
Han Ting Ting heard Song Song laugh and she became more crestfallen. ‘Is it that bad?’
Qin Song pretended to ponder for a long time. ‘Um, but not bad enough to scare someone.’
Han Ting Ting pushed Song Song away from her. She sat up on the bed again and sobbed.
Qin Song sat close to ‘little country bun.’ But Ting Ting kept edging away from him until she was backed into a corner of a wall. She looked like a neglected pet. He brushed through her soft knotty hair and his heart relaxed.
He lifted her body onto his lap.
Ting Ting wanted to wipe her tears but Qin Song held her wrists. ‘Be careful of your wound.’
Qin Song reached for a tissue and gently wiped her tears.
‘I was teasing you. It’s not that bad,’ Qin Song confessed. ‘It’s a few little cuts. It’s shallow. After a few days it’ll heal and you won’t see it at all. Your skin is a lot thinner than mine. If the cuts were transferred to my skin there wouldn’t be any bleeding.’
Han Ting Ting laughed and cried at the same time for worrying about nothing.
‘Ok, you’ve laughed now. You can’t cry anymore,’ Qin Song said.
Ting Ting nodded. Qin Song kissed her nose. ‘It doesn’t look bad at all. My Ting Bao is the prettiest. I love you the most.’
Han Ting Ting’s face turned bright red. She leaned on Song Song’s chest and wrapped her arms tight around his waist.
Qin Song never had such a sweet feeling flow through his heart like he felt in that moment Ting Ting leaned into his chest for comfort and held his waist with all her strength.
‘Song Song,’ Han Ting Ting said softly into his chest. ‘Song Song, if my face was scarred, what would you do?’
‘I’ll book an appointment with the best plastic surgeon for you,’ Qin Song said without hesitation. ‘I promise you’ll be more beautiful than before.’
‘If the plastic surgeon can’t perform on me and my face stayed scarred, will you still love me?’ Han Ting Ting asked.
‘Um, it depends on the degree of the scarring. If I woke up each day and was shocked each time I saw you and wished I never woke up again… would you still expect me to force myself to love you?’ Qin Song asked teasingly.
‘Qin-Song!’ Han Ting Ting called out. She wanted to cry. ‘I knew it. You only love beautiful things. One moment you lied to me and said I was the prettiest. The next moment you tell me you’ll take me to get plastic surgery and make me more beautiful than now. You’re full of contradictions. Your words are all lies!’
‘Oh, please. If I only loved what’s on the outside then how could I love you?’ Qin Song said in an as a matter-of-fact way.
‘You!’ Han Ting Ting said.
Ting Ting turned to pick up her pillow. She used the pillow to hit Qin Song. He played along with her and pretended to groan in pain. When there was an opening, he hugged ‘little country bun.’
‘Hey,’ Qin Song said. ‘Why are you unreasonable? I said I promised the plastic surgery would be successful to make you more beautiful so you wouldn’t feel anxious the plastic surgery would make your scars worse. As for you being the prettiest… my wife in my eyes of course is the prettiest!’
In Qin Song’s life, there’ve been girls who were more beautiful than Ting Ting. But in his heart, Ting Ting would always be the prettiest!
Han Ting Ting put her pillow down. She built enough courage then she held Song Song’s shoulders. ‘Me too.’
‘That’s because I’m naturally handsome,’ Qin Song said and laughed.
Qin Song bent his head down and stared at ‘little country bun.’ It was the first time that both of them stared lovingly into each other’s eyes without a trace of embarra.s.sment.