Gu Hai sat across from his girlfriend, Jin Lulu. His face portraying the image of a person whom, at any moment now, would burst into a tirade of abuse.
A few days ago, Gu Hai had moved away from home, angered by his father's suggestion that his new wife’s son comes live with them.
The simple suggestion had led to a predictable outburst from Gu Hai. Fuming with rage, he had sworn under his breath never to live in the same house as that person. In fact, he had planned to start over at his new place, even attend school there.
Earlier, he had called his aunt to inform her he was going over to her home, he would ask her to help him find a new school. One that was preferably close to his new place.
Jin Lulu stared attentively at him. Her boyish looking face etched with worry lines, “Are you insane, what makes you think you can live without your father’s assistance?”
“I can survive without his money. I’ll find a way,” he said confidently.
“Da Hai,” she stressed his name. “That woman’s son will come into your house and take everything that belongs to you while you act stubborn. It’ll happen right under your nose.”
Gu Hai furrowed his brows, inauspiciousness overwhelming his emotions. He couldn’t help but wonder if he did the right thing.
“Listen to me,” She urged him. “Instead of leaving, you should live there with them. Make his life unbearable, so he goes away.
“Who knows? You may also succeed in driving away the gold-digger.”
Gu Hai listened to her paid attention to her advice. He couldn’t help but feel like she might be onto something.
The next day, he packed his bags and returned home.
Jiang Yuan had had a bedroom prepared for Bai Luoyin in anticipation of his arrival.
Bai Luoyin entered the room and shut the door behind him.
His keen eyes scanned the spotless room, quickly noting that it was as big as Bai Hanqi’s living room. Perhaps, even bigger.
Subconsciously, he found himself pondering whose job it was to make the seeming larger-than-life room spotless.
He felt out the bed. It was inexplicably soft. Its softness was so foreign it made his skin crawl with repulsion.
Three pieces of artworks hung on hung on the beige-colored wall. One of them — the largest one — hung above the headboard. A smaller one stood proudly by the side of the closet.
The last painting, the smallest of the three, was a few inches from the door. Next to it was a fancy wall clock, whose brown color flattered the room’s beige, both colors blending in perfect synchronicity.
To the south of the room was a brown leather couch whose purpose seemed redundant to Bai Luoyin.
To him, it appeared as though the room was screaming, “I am money.”
He couldn’t help but wonder if that was all money was. A soft bed, a useless couch, a fancy wall clock and three pieces of probably expensive artwork.
Anger and resentment for Jiang Yuan left behind a bitter taste in his mouth.
His emotions weighing him down, he slumped into the bed.
He had always wanted a more luxurious life, just not like this.
In his fantasies, his luxury was as a result of his own hard work, and not because Jiang Yuan forced it on him. He wondered what sin one had to commit in their previous life to get a mother like Jiang Yuan.
He hadn’t been here for half a day, and he already missed his father.
Although a prepaid landline was on the nightstand beside the headboard, the idea of using it to talk to his father made his skin crawl. He didn’t have a phone of his own.
Before now, he had always felt he didn’t need one. No one special to call anyways. Except…
Bai Luoyin sighed. Merely thinking about it exhausted him.
He also would much rather not be here.
Jiang Yuan’s tactic she had used to bring him here was well-formulated and straightforward.
She had threatened to take his father to court to fight over his custody.
Jiang Yuan affirmed that she knew she would lose, but she firmly reminded him Bai Hanqi did not have the money to go to court.
She was right.
The whole court thing would put Bai Hanqi in debt he would have to settle for years.
Bai Hanqi already spent most of his money on the medical bill of his grandparents, Bai Luoyin couldn’t bear to think of causing his dad even more financial strain.
One had to wonder if Jiang Yuan’s master plan was to try force a relationship between the both of them.
Sighing, Bai Luoyin went down the stairs and into the living room. He intended to go find a booth from which he could call his dad.
“Luoyin,” Jiang Yuan called out to him, stopping him in his tracks.
“What’s it?” he asked, irritated.
“I want to introduce you to —” she pointed at Gu Hai, who was sitting on the couch.
Gu Hai observed Bai Luoyin, looking for the right time to strike.
“I don’t care,” Bai Luoyin interrupted Jiang Yuan.
Without giving Gu Hai a glance, he walked away.
Caught off guard, Gu Hai’s reaction was to only stare at Bai Luoyin's back as he left. He had never felt this insulted before. Before now, no one had ever dared disregard him like this.
He couldn’t help pondering how Bai Luoyin thought of himself.