Chapter 1: Guests to Greet
At the end of August, the scorching sun shone brightly in the sky.
The humid air felt suffocating.
It wasn’t until a few days before the start of school, when several heavy showers of rain poured down, did the temperature finally drop by a few degrees.
It was 2:30 in the afternoon.
Lin Yujing stood at the entrance of a shopping mall.
She watched the rain splashing on the flat slate floor outside, soaking the shoes of people who walked through.
After ten minutes, the rain had yet to let up.
Lin Yujing slung her shopping bag on one arm and pulled out her cell phone with her other.
After checking to make sure she didn’t miss any calls or messages, she walked over to a huge glass door in the corner.
She held up her pointer fingers and thumbs in a square shape and pointed it at the door, and as if she was taking a photo, Lin Yujing squinted one eye closed.
There were many high-rise buildings and shopping malls along the street. Across the street, the huge sign for Starbucks was soaked in heavy rain.
The green mermaid appeared to have sunk to the bottom of the sea.
The whole street was awash in a gray, gloomy atmosphere.
A familiar environment in an unfamiliar setting.
Lin Yujing had only arrived in “City A” two days ago.
Three months ago, she had watched Lin Zhi and Meng Weiguo’s struggling marriage come to an end at last.
It was a lengthy and troubling divorce, and the two had a big fight throughout the process.
It was over Lin Yujing’s custody.
At 6:30 in the evening, on the second day after the decision to divorce, the three of them sat at the dining table and ate their last dinner as a family of three.
Starting from the discussion of the house, property, and custody of Lin Yujing, Lin Zhi’s face was a mask of numb indifference.
“You can have the house, I don’t want the car either.
Take the child with you.”
Meng Weiguo was satisfied with the first part of the sentence, but when he heard the latter part, he became confused.
“What do you mean, take the child with me?”
Lin Zhi became a little impatient, “I’m too busy, and I won’t have time to take care of her.”
“What do you mean when you don’t have time? Just because you don’t have time doesn’t mean I have time.”
“You seem to get plenty!” Lin Zhi gave a cold sneer, “After depending off your wife for so many years, you finally remembered to be like a responsible adult and act busy, huh?
Meng Weiguo’s face turned red with anger, and he glared at his ex-wife.
He took a deep breath in an attempt to calm down, and continued, “Lin Zhi, I don’t want to ruin the good mood by arguing today.
I hope we can find some mutual respect.”
Lin Zhi raised her eyebrows: “Oh, so now we start bringing up respect? Why couldn’t you act this way when we were married and living together?”
Meng Weiguo couldn’t bear it any longer.
He slammed his hand on the table with a resounding bang and quickly stood up.
Lin Yujin crossed her legs at her side of the table.
Using two chopsticks, she poked half-heartedly at her uneaten rice.
Propping her chin up with her hands, she watched all this go down.
Simply over custody of their child, they began to quarrel again, and this time, without trying to hide it behind her back.
It was as if she was a dog, and she didn’t understand human speech at all.
Without a care in the world, no one felt the need to check up on her and her emotions.
Meng Weiguo was the one to enter the family.
Lin Zhi’s family had been successful businessmen for three generations, and they were very rich.
Meng Weiguo and her were college classmates.
They were admitted to the city from the countryside.
As an eighteen or nineteen-year-old, wearing a bleached cotton T-shirt, he appeared like a handsome, tall, and confident boy.
With this type of boy interested in them, there was no girl who could resist.
Lin Zhi was no exception.
As a result, the poor boy and the rich lady fell in love and got married.
But the ending was not always happily ever after.
Ever since Lin Yujin could remember, her parents acted very differently from other people.
She could see that her mother always loathed her father, and her extreme hatred for this man had worn away the little love she had left for her child.
Lin Yujing originally thought that she would be sad when she was inevitably abandoned by her parents.
However, as she witnessed the scene before her, she didn’t feel a thing.
As if she downed a whole barrel of spirits in one go, her tongue felt numb and so did her brain.
Meng Weiguo did not insist on going to court with Lin Zhi.
Lin Zhi’s family had all kinds of money and background, and if he went head-to-head, it would certainly be a death wish.
In the end, he was ultimately responsible for Lin Yujing, and Lin Zhi paid him a fixed amount of money every month.
Meng Weiguo quickly got out of the shadow of the previous failed marriage.
One month after the divorce, he took Lin Yujing to meet his new girlfriend Guan Xiangmei.
The two’s relationship quickly developed and had their first five-year plan.
After getting married, he joined the woman’s family and went to the city she lived in with Lin Yujing.
He seemed to be very familiar with the procedure.
Lin Yujing only thought that it must be very good to be handsome and eloquent.
There were so many stupid rich women willing to marry him.
The day after she was sent here, the two went on their honeymoon.
Before leaving, Guan Xiangmei smiled and looked at her.
“In the future, I hope you can see this place as your home.”
Lin Yujin could only nod in agreement
“My son has been out with his classmates for the past two days.
He should return tomorrow.
I’ve already told him to take care of you while we’re away.
He will be your future brother.
Give him your phone number, and you can contact him yourself.” Guan Xiangmei continued.
Lin Yujing didn’t really wish to get in touch with her so-called brother, but she didn’t want to destroy the seemingly harmonious family atmosphere so soon, so she nodded quietly.
Guan Xiangmei felt satisfied with her answer and added.
“If you need anything, you can ask Aunt Zhang.
Don’t feel like you need to hold back, everyone likes you very much.”
Lin Yujing took a look at Aunt Zhang, who was standing on the side.
She could see her face showing the expressions of “Know your place little brat”, “Yo, the uselessly handsome father and her daughter came to scam”, and “Don’t you even think about getting a penny from me”.
Interacting with her didn’t seem very realistic.
The air-conditioning in the shopping mall was too strong, making the outside still feel very hot.
It was as if the rainwater was also warm, evaporating into the air before it could fully fall.
Lin Yujing expressionlessly watched the rainfall and checked at the time again.
It was 3 o’clock。
The phone rang, and she jumped slightly, rubbing her legs which had gone numb.
It was the phone number she had just saved last night, her brother who “needed to be contacted.”
Lin Yujing picked up the phone and said, “Brother”
The man on the other side seemed startled by her voice, and was silent for at least ten seconds before finally asking, “Have you finished shopping?”
“I caught a cold, so I’m not picking you up.” Her brother said coldly.
Lin Yujing felt that she knew herself pretty well.
She was a down-to-earth person and didn’t like anyone who played tricks or lied to her.
This person was clearly lying, and what was more, his acting skills weren’t even that good.
She feigned deep concern in her voice, and said, “Oh no, how serious is it? Will you recover soon?”
The little girl’s voice was a little cautious, soft and pleasant, and the other side was silent for another ten seconds.
When he replied, his voice sounded hesitant this time, “40.” 1
“Let me call 119 for you,” said the little girl’s voice sincerely.
119 was the hospital’s number.
As she said this, she started dialing the hospital’s phone number.
The man hung up the phone.
Lin Yujing put down the phone and raised her head, looking at the heavy rain that seemed to pierce through the heavens and down the slate floor.
She rolled her eyes.
Lin Yujing’s new home was a quaint villa in the city center.
Two blocks away was a dilapidated old-fashioned residential building.
There were generally two types of people who lived in the city center.
The first kind is so poor they could only afford a small cramped apartment, while the other was excessively wealthy, and can easily afford a penthouse of 20000-30000 Yuan per square meter.2
Halfway through the car ride, the rain stopped, and the air was mixed with the moist smell of petrichor.
Lin Yujing pictured her sickly “brother” who she had never even met before and Aunt Zhang whose eyes were grown at the place of her forehead.
She felt a little disoriented, and got out of the car directly behind the old residential building, intending to get lost in this strange environment for two hours before going back.
If you look around, everywhere in the city has a similar place.
The house was run down, with rotting walls and sealed windows, dark red paint was peeling off piece by piece, and the long poles were pulled out from the windows to hang all kinds of sheets and clothes.
There was an aura of ancient heritage.
Lin Yujing strolled through a narrow alley.
Sure enough, there were a few low-key studio stores in the outermost circle.
She glanced at them briefly and continued to walk.
Wandering around while humming the theme song of SpongeBob SquarePants, she turned her head and saw a black iron door to the left of her.
The single-opening door was pure black, and it was half ajar, with a string of English words on the front in white paint.
It looked a bit like the entrance to a haunted house.
Curious, Lin Yu walked over to see what the painted letters were.
A tattoo parlor??
The iron door wasn’t very tall, and Lin Yu had to duck under to enter.
Inside was a small courtyard of about three or four square meters, facing a wooden door with a very complicated totem-like thing engraved on the wooden sign.
Lin Yujing was deeply attracted by this tattoo parlor for some reason.
It gave off the vibe of a cool and mysterious hidden place, and she just wanted to explore it.
She hesitated for a few seconds, raised her hand, stretched out an index finger, and gently pushed on the black iron door.
There was a soft creaking sound, and the door opened ever so slowly.
Inside was a miniature garden.
The plants in it were wildly overgrown, clearly, no one had taken care of them in a long time.
Lin Yujing pushed the door completely open and walked in.
It was dimly lit with yellow and red lights.
The dark gray walls were covered with red tapestries and beautiful and intricate tattoo designs.
She raised her head to study her surroundings, turned around, and stopped.
Only now did she realize there were others in this room.
There was a small corner in the room that was blocked by the door, so one couldn’t see it when they first walked in.
A dark-gray couch, a thick carpet, and countless cushions and pillows were strewn about in a mess.
Three people lay on the sofa.
They were all very attractive looking and seemed like the charismatic type.
They had matching dreadlock hairstyles and triplet-like tattoos on their forearm.
The three fancy “mop-heads” looked at her, motionless, and the atmosphere became extremely awkward.
One of them was still holding the cigarette to his lips with one hand, and the cigarette holder was frozen, hanging three centimeters from his lips.
It was as if someone had pressed the pause button.
Then, his eyes moved, down studying from her face and onto her clothes.
Lin Yu couldn’t understand why these people reacted in this way, like watching a gorilla in a zoo.
Their looks made her feel like she was a foreigner who just walked in screaming nonsense.
After an excruciatingly awkward three or four seconds, she sheepishly raised her hand and waved it, “….Hi?”
There was a slight click, and the air conditioning started flowing again.
1, who was leaning against the sofa and sitting on the carpet, was the first to react.
He also said hello with a smooth drawl, “Welcome, please wait a moment.”
He bit the cigarette into his mouth and gestured behind him with his elegantly tattooed elbow, “Brother Juan.”
Only now did Lu Yujing realize that there was a fourth person on the sofa.
She didn’t notice at first because everything above their abdomen was completely covered with a dark gray blanket, and they were also wearing gray sweatpants, completing the optical illusion of blending into the sofa.
He was sleeping motionlessly and was also blocked from view by one of his friends, which explained why she didn’t initially see him.
The others poked at the man for a long time, but he didn’t stir.
He laid still as a corpse, or perhaps, a noble sleeping beauty.
1 called him again, “Shen Juan.”
The “Sleeping Beauty” squirmed, snorted air from his nose, straightened his long leg that was planted against the sofa, turned his face over, and then snored, continuing to sleep.
There was a thick blanket covering her head, and Lin Yujin was worried he might suffocate to death.
1 made a “tsk” sound and twisted his body, slapping his butt twice, “Stop sleeping and wake the fuck up, we have guests to greet.”
Sleeping Beauty’s sleep was disturbed several times, and the handsome man continued his attack on his buttocks, shouting several swear words during the process.
Finally, he couldn’t bear it anymore.
He raised his hand and grabbed a pillow, smashing it at the person next to him.
His voice was as tired as his namesake3, hoarse and impatient: “I’ll greet yo mom, get out!”
The very grumpy, antisocial brother.
About 104 degrees F.
About 3.1k to 4.7k per 10 square feet.
His name is Shen Juan.
Juan (倦） in Chinese, means tired.
Pun here lol
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