117. Quite Bold
YiHan lost his cool upon hearing what Tao Qi said. “Damn it!” he roared in fury. He’d nearly leapt out of the bed. “This woman, she actually dared to lust after you! Where is she? Oh, right. She’s in my home. I want to see her right now. I want to know just where she got the audacity from! How dare she try and steal Bai YiHan’s man! Does she want to die? I would beat her up so hard that her teeth litter the floor!”
In JingYuan’s eyes, YiHan reaction was extremely cute. Still, he had to push YiHan back into bed.
“Don’t be angry, HanHan,” said JingYuan. “It doesn’t matter what she thinks. You can’t go home yet. If you really want to see her, you still have to wait until tomorrow. What you need now is rest.”
“How could it have nothing to do with me?” YiHan felt like he was going to die from rage. “She’s fighting with me for you! Official couple? What about me then? What am I? I can’t wait until tomorrow. I have to go beat her up now!”
“Calm down, HanHan,” JingYuan coaxed. His voice trembled from the effort to suppress all urges to laugh or cry. “Don’t be angry. I’m a living human being. Am I something someone can snatch away just because they want to? You don’t even need to humour everything she says. I think she’s delusional.”
“She’s said that kind of thing!” YiHan was fuming still. “How could I calm down? But you’re right. If you’re so easily snatched away, I wouldn’t want you either!”
“Don’t say that, HanHan.” JingYuan bitterly smiled. “That day won’t come.”
“Then I’ll go meet her today,” said YiHan.
“If I knew you’d be so angry,” JingYuan sighed in exasperation, “I wouldn’t have told you. The doctor said you need bed rest.”
“My man is going to be stolen,” YiHan angrily said. “How can I relax and rest in peace? I’m already fine. If not so you guys won’t worry, I would’ve asked to be discharged today. My whole body aches from lying in bed.”
JingYuan felt a pleasant nostalgia at the minor temper tantrum on the verge of breaking loose. It had been a very long time since his little one’s hackles were raised. It felt like a lifetime ago since the last time YiHan had thrown a tantrum for illogical reasons. Ever since that outburst, he’d been sweet and obedient. So mature that it makes one’s heart ache. Compared to before, YiHan now acts like a docile clay doll. Who knew that the one thing that could easily anger YiHan was still JingYuan himself? The younger man knew that woman’s words can’t be trusted but he still puffed up in anger. One could imagine just how important JingYuan was to YiHan.
JingYuan’s heart had melted into a puddle by now. He gently pulled YiHan into a tighter embrace.
“If you’re impatient,” JingYuan said, “then I’ll bring you home tonight. Worse comes to worst, I’ll carry you home and carry you back here.”
“I’m an adult man,” YiHan mumbled after a pause of silence. “Who needs you to carry me? I can walk myself.”
JingYuan quietly looked down at YiHan. A smile hung on his face but he kept silent.
YiHan’s eyes darted around. He lightly scratched at his cheek and shimmied all the way into his blanket.
“In anticipation of tonight’s battle,” he said as he closed his eyes, “I need to sleep. Hurry up and shoo.”
JingYuan gently touched those red ear tips and let out a low chuckle.
The red flush on YiHan’s ear tips slowly grew downwards…
That evening, JingYuan personally assisted YiHan in changing his outfits. Heedless of YiHan’s objections, the man carried him out of the hospital and back to the Bai family home. YiHan’s feet never landed on the floor at all. The Bai family members and servants had fallen asleep by then. The entire mansion was eerily silent. JingYuan looked for an empty guest room and entered it. Only then, did he place YiHan down. Embarrassed to the extreme, YiHan sat down on the chair by the desk.
“You could’ve just taken me straight to her,” YiHan mumbled. He didn’t want to think at all about the whole journey he’d spent in a princess carry. “Why bring me here?”
Darned JingYuan! That one carry ruined all the dignified rage he’d accumulated! How could he properly exude his presence and suppress his rival when they meet later?
JingYuan nodded to Chen Feng, who’d followed them into the room, and the bodyguard turned and left the room. Only then, did JingYuan turn to face YiHan.
“It’s too cold in the basement,” JingYuan said with a slight smile. “You’ve been getting injured a lot lately. Your body’s weakened. It’s best you don’t go to a place like that.”
YiHan nodded in assent. While it didn’t feel nice to be treated as a fragile porcelain doll, he still loved the feeling of being worried over by his lover.
A few moments later, Tao Qi was brought into the room by Chen Feng, held tightly by the arms. YiHan looked up to find a stranger looking back at him. Her face looked the same as before but the gentle innocence had vanished. The Tao Qi he remembered disliked makeup. Her smile was always refreshing and sweet. She always wore a long white dress or skirt. Her entire being exuded with positive energy. Even if she suffered a little or was mildly taken advantage of, she didn’t mind. She would constantly have a smile on her face and tell him, “being able to be taken advantage of is a blessing in disguise”. She never once hated or begrudged her family for the unjust manner they treated her in. She told him her parents gave birth to her and raised her. Now that she’s grown up, it’s her duty to pay it back. As YiHan said to JingYuan before, YiHan can’t fall in love with such a girl but he had to admit Tao Qi was a good woman that was rare to come by.
The woman before YiHan’s eyes however had crumbs of makeup remaining. Her hair was in a mess. Combined with the wrinkly and revealing outfit she had on, she looked extremely haggard. Her face twisted and wrinkled as her eyes shot poisonous hate at him. While she had the same face as the Tao Qi he knew, she was an utterly different person.
“You’re not Tao Qi,” YiHan growled. His brows balled up. “Who are you?”
Tao Qi had been locked up for a whole day and night. She had never ever gone through this much suffering in her life. The chilly basement nearly gave her a mental breakdown. She didn’t understand why. She was the protagonist of his world. Why can’t she stand at the top of the world without any pain and savour in the wooing of all the excellent men around her? Instead, she was thrown down into the mud over and over again. Why was her plot armour not activating at all? No matter what she did, nothing went as she wanted! She told that maniac to go kill Chen TianYang. For that, she had to sacrifice a few nights of sex to that crazy and disgusting man! But why was Chen TianYang not dead yet? Why was she the one captured for the crime? Wasn’t it Chen TianYang’s destiny to die under the wheels of that lunatic? Why was everything different to the novel? This was not how it’s meant to be!
Her thoughts kept churning and churning in her mind during the hours she’d spent in that cold underground room. Where did she go wrong? No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t find a reason why or how. She thought that as long as she talked to Mu JingYuan, her male lead would rescue her. But Mu JingYuan wasn’t even willing to sit and listen to her talk. Before she was done with her speech, he’d turned and left! Why was her fated man this heartless to her?
She could only seek help from Bai YiHan now. She adamantly believed she must be the YiHan’s first true love, his perfect dream lover. She never could’ve imagined she’d resort to begging for help from a dead man. She’s the great female lead of this world! How could she accept that?
To her surprise, YiHan wasn’t furious or horrified by her ragged state. He actually interrogated her, questioned her. She could feel her patience being shattered.
“Bai YiHan, you cruel man!” she screeched in rage. “Of course I am Tao Qi! Are you happy to see me bow down before you and beg you for help? Are you satisfied? Hurry up and tell this brute to let me go! I want a shower! I want food!”
“I already told you I’m Tao Qi!” she then shrieked at Chen Feng. She struggled with all her might. “I’m the one your young master loves! And you dare to lock me up? Let me go now or I’ll have YiHan chase you out of the Bai family!”
She was so confident in her statements that Chen Feng glanced at YiHan with wide eyes.
Before YiHan even uttered a single word, JingYuan was already roaring, “Hold on tight to this crazy woman! Don’t let a single one of her dirty fingers touch YiHan!”
JingYuan then turned to YiHan and said, “I told you she’s not normal in the head. She’s full of lies and gibberish. And you still insist on meeting her!” As he said so, he leaned in to hug YiHan and to carry him away.
“No, JingYuan, this woman is definitely not Tao Qi,” said YiHan, hands reaching up to stop JingYuan’s arms. “While I can’t say I completely understand Tao Qi, but she was absolutely not like this!”
Never did Tao Qi think of the possibility of Bai YiHan not letting her go after seeing her, of him actually doubting her identity. A faint guilt rose in her. She wasn’t the original Tao Qi. That’s for sure. But how could he tell, especially when it came to something like a different soul?
Due to her rising guilt, she ceased to make a fuss. She didn’t dare to continue her tantrum.
“Of course I’m Tao Qi,” she feebly mumbled. “Is there a second Tao Qi in this world?”
“This woman really is Tao Qi,” JingYuan said after a pause. “I had Chen Hong look into her. According to Chen Hong’s investigations however, she’d gone through a major personality change ever since she had to be Li Sun’s lover to pay off the bills from her father getting into a car crash and suffering serious injuries. She’d been telling everyone who knew her that her personality change was due to shock from family matters. If you hadn’t mentioned it, I would’ve forgotten about this detail. She said she only became Li Sun’s lover for her family, but she’d refused to send anymore money back to her family the moment her father was discharged from the hospital. She kept all the gifts Li Sun gave her, money, jewellery, bags and so on. She was the only one who’d use them. This doesn’t sound like her.”
“Wait, no,” said YiHan, “Tao Qi repeatedly said her parents had it hard raising her and her younger brother. She said she must be a filial child and be grateful to her parents. She’d take on part-time jobs and live an extremely frugal life, but every bit of spare change she had would go to her parents and younger brother. I wanted to give her some money back then but she refused to take it. She said she needed to rely on herself. It’s within reason for her to sacrifice her own dignity to be Li Sun’s paid lover so her father could get treatment, but it’s impossible for her not to transfer that money back to her family. It’s particularly impossible for her to guide and incite murder. Everyone says it’s easier to move a mountain than to change one’s character. No matter how major of a personality change one goes through, it’s not possible to have changed this much in an instant!”
YiHan stood up and took one step towards the captive woman. “Just who are you? If you won’t speak clearly, then I’ll hand you over to police. Instigating violence and pushing a mentally ill person to murder isn’t a bad crime at all.”
It was mindboggling to Tao Qi that Bai YiHan, the boy she thought would be the easiest to manipulate, immediately knew she wasn’t the original Tao Q. He was even cruel enough to send her to jail! How could she take it lying down? She was apoplectic with rage.
“Bai YiHan, you short-lived bastard!” she spat out, eyes red with anger and disbelief. “You’d send me to prison? Even in prison, I’d be a hundred times stronger than you! You think you can live in luxury forever just because you have a glamorous life now? I’m telling you right now that in less than four years, you’ll die a cruel and terrible death! You’ll die in that warehouse you and Mu JingYuan think of as your secret hideout!”
Chen Feng was so pissed at the insidious claims coming out of Tao Qi’s mouth that his grip around her arms tightened hard. After letting out a pained yelp, Tao Qi had to stop her rant or risk more pain.
YiHan’s pupils dilated. His body swayed on the spot. Waves of shock crashed over and over against his mind. How did she know?
JingYuan reached out and held YiHan. He then helped the younger man back into the chair YiHan occupied before. JingYuan turned around to face Tao Qi and a dark, spine-chilling look settled upon his face.
“You’re quite bold,” JingYuan said, walking over to the woman as he said so. “You actually dared to curse and insult HanHan to my face. If I can’t make you wish you could die, then I’m not fit to be his man!”
It’s Advent Calendar time! Enjoy the next few chapters as we wrap up the Female Lead’s arc.