Over November, the fall of N City passed so quietly that the deciduous trees on both sides of the road were completely bare. The air is dry and cold as the temperature plummets, making it the most difficult season of the year.
More than three months have passed since Zhang Man was reborn.
In early December, she took the monthly exams a lot more seriously. The physics results of this and several subsequent exams are very important, and the class teacher will select the students who will participate in the physics competition in the sophomore year.
Zhang Man’s calculations are clear. Li Wei has given her more than three months of remedial classes, and it is only natural that she has made greater progress than before, which will not arouse his suspicion.
So she wrote with a free hand, and did everything except for the last problem, which was a bit more complicated and was left blank.
Sure enough, after the results came out, she caused a small stir in the class. She was a freshman who failed the physics test before, surprisingly got more than 100 on a paper with a score of 120. Even the class teacher, Liu Zhijun, paid attention to her and took the initiative to call her to the office to praise and encourage her.
Zhang Man came back from the office and joyfully put the physics paper on the youth’s desk, holding her cheeks with both hands while looking at him with two shining eyes, expecting to get his praise.
The youth took the paper and looked at the areas where she missed a few marks, and his good-looking brow furrowed gently.
“The last question was similar to the one we did in the last makeup class, but you got it wrong.”
Zhang Man yanked over the test paper to have a good look at it. It was really the same question that was done last time.
Oh no! She didn’t pay any attention to what the last question was during the exam and assumed it must be a very complicated problem, so she just left it blank.
Thinking on her feet, she let out a smile and forced an explanation, “I’m still not skilled enough. I thought the topic looked familiar at the time, but I just couldn’t remember how to do it.”
The youth nodded and stopped giving her a hard time.
Zhang Man changed the subject: “Li Wei, are you going to participate in the physics competition afterwards? Do you think I have learned well? Would it be good for me to go with you? I recently felt that physics is quite fun.”
Only then did the youth give her a serious look, like he was assessing whether she was serious or not.
Zhang Man immediately sat upright, and folded her hands in a disciplined manner, looking very sincere: “I’m serious about this, look, my total score in our class is the bottom of the barrel. If I take the college entrance exam, I, most likely, will get a higher chance of getting admitted, if I compete.”
The youth heard the words and said softly, “It will be very tiring.”
“I’m not afraid of that, next time I go to your house, why don’t you teach me the competition questions? I’ve checked it all out, the high school competition ranges from college mechanics, electromagnetism and thermodynamics. We’ll start with college mechanics, okay?”
The youth pondered for a while, probably thinking about the feasibility of this matter, and nodded half-heartedly, “Good.”
When she returned back that day, Zhang Man found that Zhang Huifang was not at home again, and there was a midnight snack for her on the table, with a note on it telling her to go to bed early.
She has been coming home late more and more lately.
Zhang Man had doubts in her heart, she wouldn’t already know Zheng Zineng right?
She panicked and calmed herself down again. While sitting down to eat a late night snack, she was thinking carefully about some points in her previous life.
She still remembers that in her previous life, Zhang Huifang brought Zheng Zineng home for the first time in the following year in January, during a winter with heavy snow. At that time, she had fallen out with Li Wei and was depressed all day. She was not interested in her studies and did not care about Zhang Huifang’s behavior.
But why did it ring a bell that day?
Ah… She recalled that Zheng Zineng brought a lot of things to the house when he came, and bought Zhang Man a new cell phone.
Zhang Man remembered that compared to other middle-aged men with large bellies, he was tall and looked extraordinarily elegant and handsome. When the two just entered the door covered with snow, Zheng Zineng could not care about himself and raised his hand first to carefully pat down the snow on Zhang Huifang’s head and shoulders, his movements were very gentle.
That gesture made Zhang Man recognize him invisibly in her heart, and she felt at that time that a person so gentle was at least a good person.
But she didn’t expect that his looks were so deceptive that he not only fooled Zhang Huifang, but also herself. He was the kind of guy that would pretend to be a gentleman, but in fact he was a complete piece of trash.
This means that it is now December, and Zhang Huifang is likely to have met Zheng Zineng, and is probably in the early stages of developing their relationship.
Zhang Man’s nails gouged hard at the palm of her hand. It seems that this time she has to pay attention to how to break them up.
This evening Zhang Huifang did not return until eleven o’clock, looking slightly drunk. After taking off her boots she went inside, humming a little tune happily as she entered the door. Meanwhile, Zhang Man was sitting on the sofa watching TV, waiting for the moment she entered the door to carefully observe her demeanor.
Seems like her hunch was right…The happiness and tenderness on Zhang Huifang’s face could not be fooled, and in her previous life when she brought Zheng Zineng home, her face at that time also had such expression.
“Zhang Man? Why are you still awake?”
She took off her coat and hung it behind the door, craning her neck to look at the table.
“Finished your midnight snack? Be good, you have to get up early for class tomorrow, go to sleep.”
She was in a good mood and her tone of voice was much softer towards her.
Zhang Huifang beckoned her into the room, and she herself started making calls, speaking quietly and softly on the phone.
The next day, when Zhang Man went to school, she told Li Wei not to wait for her because she has something else to do on Saturday and can’t go to his house for tutoring.
The youth stopped the pen in his hand, his voice a little hesitant: “…sick again?”
She and his keen logic can’t seem to coexist.
Zhang Man was amused by him and had a good laugh: “How can anyone make an appointment to get sick? I really have something to do… it’s a family matter.”
The youth nodded and asked no more questions.
On Saturday, Zhang Man spent the day at home waiting for Zhang Huifang to leave the house, but never saw her leave, so she was a bit confused.
But thinking about it, most of their dates were in the evening, so she waited patiently until evening again.
About seven o’clock, Zhang Man first told Zhang Huifang that she was going shopping with Chen Feier, and went downstairs to a cafe in front of her house. She ordered a latte and sat by the window, wearing a cap. The floor-to-ceiling glass window of the cafe is right in front of their unit, so they can clearly see the heads of the residents coming in and out.
Sure enough, about half an hour or so later, Zhang Huifang went out. She was wearing very thick smoky makeup and was dressed quite exquisitely and attentively. A fitted black tweed blazer with a belt of the same color was worn for a clean and crisp look. The hemline reveals the camel-colored fishtail tight sweater dress inside, and the feet are also stepping on the ten centimeter high heels that they normally don’t wear.
—In a crowd of down jackets and big cotton coats in winter, she looks really slender and beautiful.
While walking, she was calling someone on the phone, as if she was talking about where to meet.
Seeing this, Zhang Man walked out of the cafe and followed her, watching her reach out and stop a cab.
Zhang Man immediately got into the next car.
“Master, please follow that car in front of you.”
When she arrived at the place, Zhang Man realized that Zhang Huifang had gone to a ‘certain’ bar in N City, not that kind of literary bar, but a proper nightclub with bouncers around. She also saw from afar how Zhang Huifang took the arm of a man at the entrance and walked into the bar.
Zhang Man’s heart sank.
Although she couldn’t see the face, but the height, back and that pretentious walking posture was something she could never forget, it was definitely Zheng Zineng.
She followed inside, but was soon blocked by a bouncer at the door.
“Little girl, please show your ID card. Minors can’t go in.”
Minors cannot enter the bar?
This was a fact that she doesn’t really know. When she was a high school teacher in her previous life, she also went to the bar to catch some students who had skipped class to go clubbing.
But no matter what Zhang Man said, the bouncers did not give access so she had to give up.
The early winter in N City is very cold, not because of the low temperature, but due to the wind that is blowing her cheeks with the dry, icy breeze from the sea.
Seaside cities are like this, the temperature difference between day and night is great, and the sea breeze at night can’t be carried by anyone.
Zhang Man stood still at the entrance despite the wind. It’s only eight o’clock now, and there aren’t many people in the bar yet, so she sat on the back door steps hoping to take advantage of the chaos and mix in when there are more people later on.
Li Wei sat in his study, finished reading the last page of the fourth section of Guangxiang, stood up and went to the dining room to pour himself a glass of water. He never had the habit of boiling water, even in winter and always bought purified water to put in the refrigerator. The moment he opened the refrigerator door, the coldness came out and made him shiver.
He suddenly felt very empty at home.
She was away all day today, so he was at home by himself for the day and was surprisingly a little uncomfortable.
It seems like he hasn’t been home alone for so long since she started coming to his house on time every week to make up for her lessons and cook for him.
And, she didn’t send him a text today.
He set his phone to vibrate and put it in his pajama breast pocket, but it remained untouched all day.
The youth took out a bottle of water, unscrewed the cap with his slender fingers holding it and tilted his head to take a sip.
He felt that it was necessary to ask her if she was coming tomorrow.
Zhang Man is shivering as she sits at the door, when she suddenly receives a call from Li Wei.
She wanted to ask him what was up, but the signal wasn’t very good in front of the bar, and there seemed to be a static noise coming from her phone, so she stood up and walked a little further away.
The youth heard a very noisy car honking on her side, and the bustling sound of people outside. He frowned and raised his left hand to glance at his watch, it was past eight o’clock.
In his head, he suddenly thought of her being blocked at the corner of the alley before and his heart suddenly tightened at that moment. The whole person stood up from his seat and took two steps forward anxiously, his voice quavering: “Zhang Man, where are you?”
Zhang Man reached out her hand from the sleeve to hold the phone, and a moment later became red from the cold. Her skin was exposed to the cold air, and there were tiny-like needles sticking out: “I’m outside, what’s wrong?”
When the youth heard her voice, his squeezed palm quietly loosened: “Nothing.”
Zhang Man looked at the entrance of the bar: “Hey, Li Wei? Let me ask you, do you know how a minor can enter a nightclub in N City? That bar is called “Ye Yu”, not far from your home.”
“What are you doing there?” His tone was a little stern.
“I had to go in for something, but the bouncer at the door just wouldn’t let me in.”
This time the youth was quiet for a while: “You wait for me at the entrance.”
Zhang Man hung up the phone and continued to sit on the steps of the side door of the bar with her arms wrapped around her. The cold air kept her awake, and the whole person shrank into a ball, rubbing her hands together from time to time to keep herself warm.
Luckily, Li Wei didn’t keep her waiting for long.
The youth’s slender figure stands out in the crowd as he stands across the street waiting for the traffic light, behind him is the heavy night air and the various colored light strips in front of several bars.
He was wearing a thick coat with his hands in his pockets, which looked warm, and his brow furrowed gently the moment he saw her, as if he was blaming her for coming out alone at night.
This street is a famous bar street in N City and every evening, the night life of the city begins.
There are all kinds of pedestrians in front of the bar, fancy women in fine dresses, young men in suits, and resident singers holding a guitar with a scruffy beard… but the youth in simple clothes was particularly conspicuous among so many people.
Zhang Man could not help but look stunned.
She really likes him! Even if she has known him for so long, she still can’t help but blush every time she sees him.
— “Come with me.”
The youth crossed the street without saying much, turned towards the main entrance, spoke to the bouncer at the door, and turned back to wave at her.
Zhang Man then followed him and entered the bar smoothly.
She was a little puzzled; Li Wei is also a minor who looks no older than her, how come the bouncer didn’t stop him?
Nevertheless, it is not urgent to dwell on this matter. Zhang Man hastily grabbed Li Wei’s sleeve and hid behind him, tilted her head only to reveal a pair of eyes, looking around for Zhang Huifang’s figure.
She never came to a nightclub herself in her previous life, except for those times when she caught students, and sure enough…It’s very loud here.
On the stage there is a DJ playing loud rhythmic dance music, the same melody repeating over and over again. The low-frequency music is deafening, the heavy drums make Zhang Man’s eardrums rise, and her heart is starting to feel a little uncomfortable.
But the restless group of young people in the middle of the dance floor clearly didn’t care.
For them, as long as there is music, they can start partying.
Such hustle and bustle can give the illusion that one is not alone. Like alcohol, it numbs the mind so it doesn’t have to think.
But not everyone danced, and there were many who sat alone or with friends and ordered a few drinks.
The bar was hot, so the two took off their coats and found a corner booth to sit down.
Zhang Man hid behind the youth, constantly looking around, and soon found Zhang Huifang and Zheng Zineng sitting very close to each other, talking and laughing as they drank and chatted.
She watched their actions, although familiar but not too intimate, and speculated that at this time the two were probably still in the ambiguous stage and had not confirmed their relationship.
So how can you stir up a relationship between two people right at this stage?
Li Wei discovered that the young girl hid behind him as soon as she entered the bar, constantly poking her head in and frowning with a serious look.
He followed her gaze and saw a woman dressed in a mature and feminine manner, probably in her early thirties, beautiful to look at.
Judging by the side face, it seems to be five or six points similar to Zhang Man.
He wanted to ask her what she was doing here, and when he turned around, the sleeve of his knitted shirt brushed against her face as it peeked out, and the pressure made his gentle face appear deformed for a moment. He remembered that time in the hospital, after the removal of the cast, he once raised his hand to brush the dust off her face, it was smooth and soft to touch.
The nerves in his fingers on his left hand seem to have a memory and suddenly they are a little numb.
The young girl grabbed his sleeve and kept staring over that side, her expression was indistinguishable, but her voice was a bit anxious.
“Li Wei, look over there! That woman in the camel-colored dress is my mom… The one next to her is her new boyfriend, and he’s not a good guy! Can you think of a way to help me break them up?”
She frowned, her mouth slightly puckered, and the flesh on her cheeks followed the movement as she spoke.
—seems good to pinch.
The youth’s eyes darkened slightly, and the knot in his throat rolled up and down a bit.
“Hey, are you listening to me?”
When Zhang Man saw that he did not answer, she repeated it again.
The youth then came back to his senses, asked a few careful questions and thought of a solution.
Zhang Man listened to Li Wei’s instructions and walked outside the bar to call Zhang Huifang.
Zhang Huifang was chatting with Zheng Zineng when she felt her phone vibrate and picked it up to see that it was Zhang Man. It was too noisy to answer the phone in the bar, so excused herself to Zheng Zineng and got up to go to the bathroom.
“Hello, Zhang Man? What’s going on?”
“Have you seen my physics book? I need it for tomorrow and I can’t find it.”
(She’s calling her mom in an informal way of ‘you’)
Zhang Huifang, somewhat puzzled, said, “Don’t you always keep your books by yourself? No, I haven’t seen them, so look around the room properly.”
“Also… where did you put that dress you gave me that… time? I might still have use for it.”
“It’s in the left drawer in the lower level of my closet, check it out.”
“…I couldn’t find it, did you remember it wrong?”
Zhang Man, as previously agreed, stalled for as long as possible.
When Zhang Huifang became a bit impatient with her questions, she hung up the phone, snuck in, sat next to Li Wei, and looked in the direction of Zheng Zineng.
She rubbed her eyes.
Zheng Zineng actually took advantage of the absence of Zhang Huifang to flirt with a sexy woman dressed flirtatiously. The woman looks pretty, seemingly in her early twenties, with a very good figure. Currently she is laughing and shaking so much while talking, wriggling her body from time to time, even sticking herself to Zheng Zineng’s body.
Zheng Zineng also did not stay idle; his hand gently wrapped around her waist and gave her his usual gentle smile, with a pair of eyes slightly narrowed under his gold-rimmed glasses.
It was obvious that the woman who took the initiative to come up was not to be denied.
Zhang Man secretly shouted in her heart.
No wonder Li Wei just took his wallet out, it turned out that he hired someone to talk to Zheng Zineng.
Great! At this point, Zheng Zineng and Zhang Huifang are not yet together. For a man as lecherous as him, he would never care about Zhang Huifang after encountering a younger and prettier woman than her to initiate a hookup.
Sure enough, Zhang Huifang came back from the bathroom and also saw this scene. She ruffled her long hair, stood in place for a moment in silence and laughed softly. After a few minutes, she walked over without speaking in front of the two.
The other girl looked at her for a second, but didn’t care in the least, and continued to clink glasses with Zheng Zineng.
While Zheng Zineng froze at the sight of her, surprisingly, he did not stop flirting with the young woman, pretending not to know her at all; his scum nature was revealed without a doubt.
Zhang Huifang smiled at the other girl, pulled her away and gracefully raised her glass, splashing a glass of red wine on Zheng Zineng’s disgusting face, then turned around, stepping on the ten centimeter high heels with a flip of her hair, and daintily picked up her bag and headed out of the bar.
Zhang Man watched with great interest, her heart clapping and shouting. She can barely hold back the smile at the corners of her mouth. With Zhang Huifang’s nature, it is impossible for him to return after such a mess.
As expected of Zhang Huifang, well done! She held her cheeks, her heart relaxed a lot. She didn’t expect this matter to be solved so easily.
She didn’t have time to look at Zheng Zineng, who was splashed with red wine and had his mouth open in a state of shock. Instead, she tried to observe Zhang Huifang’s back.
She walked very steadily, step by step, and did not seem to be sad about it much. Once again, Zhang Man is glad that she found out early, if she really waited for Zhang Huifang to get together with him, and fall deeper, she fears that things will not be so easy in the future.
Perhaps Zhang Man’s sight is so focused that Zhang Huifang seems to feel something and turns back to look in their direction.
Zhang Man was caught off guard, and their eyes locked for a second. She was so startled that she hurriedly turned sideways and hugged the youth sitting next to her, hugging him tightly so that her face was buried deep in his arms.
It’s as though one can hide oneself that way.
She buried herself nervously in his chest and whispered, “Don’t talk, and check the door to see if my mom has left yet?”
Li Wei froze.
Unlike that time when she cried in his arms, when he was too busy comforting her to pay much attention. But this time, every nerve in his body was reminding him that she was now in his arms.
The young girl’s body heat and heartbeat reached his chest unmistakably through the thin knit shirt, and her two hands were around his back, circling him so tightly that there was no gap between them.
The darkness around him made his senses unusually keen. The bar was so noisy, the dull sound of rhythmic drums and the screaming cheers of young men and women were deafening, yet the youth could clearly hear his own violent heartbeat in this moment.
“Boom, boom, boom… “ His heart beats as fast as the drum beats.
At this moment, his sense of smell was incredibly sensitive, and he could smell the fresh fragrance of her hair, and the gentle scent of milk on her body.
Her body was so soft, and she was holding him so tightly against his hard chest that he felt a boiling rush of hot blood go to his head and his scalp began to tingle.
The nerve in the temple began to beat violently again, but this time it was not restlessness, but a feeling that he could not suppress and describe. It was as if 10,000 ants had crawled over the tip of his heart, gnawing at him, which seemed impossible to relieve without doing something.
Even the most disciplined people can have evil thoughts.
So he lifted his hands, one behind her back and one pressing the back of her head, pressing her more tightly against him.
It wasn’t until he pressed her whole body into his arms and rested his chin gently on the top of her hair that the soul-searching itch in his heart was eased a little.
The youth’s eyes looked at the empty entrance of the bar, guided by the demon of the devil within, his voice was hoarse as he lied, “Don’t move, she hasn’t left yet.”
—Naturally like a repeat offender.
Mother Zhang is so cool here!