In the feeble lighting, Xia Wennan studied the obscure features of the women drawn in the sketchbook.
Feeling dust coating his fingers, he subconsciously rubbed them together.
“But isn’t Ming Qin…?” Xia Wennan’s thoughts were in disarray.
“Yes, but I was too young at the time,” said Ming Luchuan.
“At that age, I didn’t know anything.
We were very poor back then, and dad had to work very hard to provide for the two of us.
He didn’t have time to look after me.
When I went to kindergarten, the majority of kids my age were betas, and I saw that their moms were all women with long hair, so I assumed that my mom would be a woman with long hair as well.”
“Ah, I see.” Xia Wennan nodded.
To Ming Luchuan, these childhood memories were probably far from happy; he’d spoken of them in a solemn and serious tone, making Xia Wennan regret that he’d gone about it jokingly, rather than trying to say something that could comfort him.
Only a dozen pages were filled with drawings; the rest of the sketchbook had been left blank, or perhaps, little Ming Luchuan had suddenly realised that his mom didn’t look like that, and therefore he’d lost interest in drawing.
Xia Wennan put the sketchbook back on the shelf and studied the row of wooden figurines, saying, “Your dad had it so hard… but he still gave you quite a precious gift.”
“Mm.” Ming Luchuan said, “We moved several times.
I’ve lost most of my childhood items, only these are left.”
“At least you still have a dad.
My parents are gone, I don’t have a single memory of them.” Xia Wennan thought to himself, as for who had it worse, it was still him.
Furthermore, Ming Luchuan’s other dad, the alpha, was still alive—he just wasn’t willing to acknowledge him as his father.
After saying that, Xia Wennan realised that comparing whose life was worse was meaningless, so he quickly lightened his tone and said, “Have you found the tools yet? Can you fix the wiring?”
“I’ve got them,” said Ming Luchuan.
The garden’s electric wiring was fed from the villa, and the distribution board was also on the east side of the villa, not far from the shed.
Xia Wennan held the flashlight beside Ming Luchuan as he checked the wiring.
Ming Luchuan didn’t appear to be very skilled as he tinkered around, and after a while, he still hadn’t found the damaged wire.
“If you can’t fix it, don’t fix it,” said Xia Wennan.
“Let’s just finish up.”
Yet Ming Luchuan kept at it, saying, “You don’t want to continue?”
“Not really, I don’t have anything to talk about with them.”
“Do you not like Duan Ning?”
“Well, I don’t not like him, but I don’t like him either.” Xia Wennan bent at the waist and knees the entire time he shone a light on the distribution board for Ming Luchuan, and after a long time, he couldn’t help but brace his hand on Ming Luchuan’s shoulder.
Ming Luchuan’s shoulder sank slightly under his touch, and at the same time, a faint noise came out of the distribution board, and lights around the villa abruptly lit up.
“Ming Luchuan!” Xia Wennan exclaimed in a panic as he leapt back.
Ming Luchuan rose slowly to his feet.
“What are you doing?”
Xia Wennan patted his chest.
“I thought you got electrocuted.”
Ming Luchuan stooped down to tidy up the scattered tools.
“That’s how you’d react if I got electrocuted?”
“I was going to find a stick to push you away.”
Ming Luchuan looked up and gave him a cold look.
Xia Wennan believed that he was pretty innocent.
“What did you want me to do? Isn’t this a normal reaction? Or should I hug you and get electrocuted too?”
Ming Luchuan was already walking away.
When Xia Wennan and Ming Luchuan returned to the garden, Duan Ning was standing next to Ming Qin.
It seemed like he was saying his goodbyes.
“Why are you leaving? Isn’t it still early?” Xia Wennan, like any ordinary social animal, uttered halfhearted, cliche lines to keep a guest from leaving, but after he spoke, he couldn’t fight down a yawn and quickly turned his face away, only to see Ming Luchuan standing directly next to him.
He then buried his face in Ming Luchuan’s arms to cover his yawning.
“It’s getting late,” said Duan Ning.
“I still have work tomorrow.”
“I didn’t know you came back for work this time around,” said Ming Qin.
Duan Ning smiled.
“I’m shooting an ad for Mo Ze.”
After yawning, Xia Wennan suddenly grew even more exhausted.
On his third yawn, he heard Duan Ning’s remark and subconsciously looked over at Ming Qin.
The smile hadn’t faded from Ming Qin’s face.
“How could you shoot for Mo Ze but not Ming Yan? Uncle’s going to be mad.”
Xia Wennan thought that he might really be upset, but his tone and demeanor had been perfectly delivered to make it come across as if he was only joking.
Duan Ning was also unfazed, smiling as he said, “It’s because Ming Yan didn’t ask me.”
Ming Qin immediately turned to Ming Luchuan, “Boss, this one’s on you.
You’re obviously childhood friends with a major photographer, how could you let others beat you to it?”
“I’ll tell Xu Feng to work something out tomorrow,” Ming Siyan responded calmly.
Duan Ning laughed.
“I’ll fix you up with a reasonable fee.”
Duan Ning was the only one considered a guest tonight.
He’d driven here himself, and he’d insisted on not drinking, so he would be driving himself back.
While the others went to see him off, Xia Wennan told them that he wanted to go to the bathroom as a pretext, and entered the villa alone.
The first floor had one communal bathroom that was located at the end of the corridor.
As Xia Wennan crossed the villa’s threshold, he heard the clang of metal hitting the floor resounding from the corridor.
He hurriedly approached the noise, and as he passed through the living room and turned to the corridor, he saw an upturned metal wheelchair and Ming Sichen, who was sprawled on the ground in thin pyjamas.
Xia Wennan immediately ran over to help Ming Sichen up, but someone got there faster—it was Lu Huaiye, who had just exited from the bathroom.
Ming Sichen had collapsed right in front of the bathroom, and Lu Huaiye saw him the moment he opened the door.
The tall and broad alpha crouched down wordlessly and scooped Ming Sichen up, then grabbed the wheelchair handle with the hand that was lifting Ming Sichen’s legs, and righted it effortlessly.
Xia Wennan wanted to go over and lend a hand, but after only two steps forward, Lu Huaiye had already set Ming Sichen down on his wheelchair, so he slowed down as he neared.
When Lu Huaiye registered Xia Wennan’s presence, he gave him a nod, then to Ming Sichen, said, “Why are you outside on your own so late?”
Ming Sichen naturally wouldn’t respond.
He hung his head; under the lights, the butterfly tattoo on his nape was incredibly eye-catching.
Lu Huaiye turned to Xia Wennan.
“Wennan, could I trouble you to send Sichen back to his room?”
Xia Wennan was a little surprised, having not anticipated Lu Huaiye’s sudden request, but he still agreed.
Instead of assisting with Ming Sichen’s wheelchair, Lu Huaiye sidestepped them and headed outside. Xia Wennan wheeled Ming Siyan back to his room.
The latter’s head hung down the entire time, and he didn’t speak a word.
Ming Sichen’s room was right next to Aunt Zhang’s bedroom, separated only by a door.
Despite the fact that the door was closed, Xia Wennan could still hear her snoring.
He pushed Ming Sichen to his bed, hesitated for a second, then asked, “Do you need my help getting on the bed?”Ming Sichen didn’t respond.
In truth, at the sight of his appearance, Xia Wennan didn’t have the heart to turn and leave, so he reached out to pick Ming Sichen up like Lu Huaiye had done earlier.
Ming Sichen’s appeared bone-skinny, yet he turned out to be much heavier than Xia Wennan had expected.
Gritting his teeth, Xia Wennan carried Ming Sichen and settled him on his bed.
He took a step back, panting slightly, and said, “Go to sleep.
I’m going now.”
Ming Sichen was lying on his back, his eyes opened, when suddenly, he let out a very soft sound: “Xia Wennan.”
Ming Sichen appeared emaciated and deathly pale in the dim bedroom, but his eyes were huge and dark, making him seem a little terrifying in this light.
Xia Wennan’s heart skipped several beats.
“Good night,” he said, rushing out of Ming Sichen’s room, not forgetting to turn off the lights and close the door on his way out
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