When she was thirteen, her father died.
Her mother took Cen Ning to the Yan family. She had never been there before, but she had heard that her fiancé lived there.
To be honest, Cen Ning was still young. She didn’t really comprehend the word ‘fiancé’ clearly. She only knew that it was someone she had never met, but would probably treat her very well.
Time ticked on and on, and at 4:20 in the afternoon, the long black car stopped in front of a big gate. Cen Ning sat in the back row respectfully and properly, only glancing out the window once she realised that she had arrived at the destination.
Everything in front of her was unfamiliar; the buildings, roads, cars, and even the people who politely opened the car door for her…all of this was beyond her scope of knowledge. She felt her palms sweat slightly.
“Madame Wei, we have arrived.” The man who came out from the passenger seat to open the door for them said to Wei Pinfang.
Cen Ning turned to look at her mother, who was nodding at the people outside. She then whispered to Cen Ning: “What are you doing sitting there stupidly, get out of the car.”
Cen Ning pursed her lips and hesitated, but under the dissatisfied gaze of her mother, she got out of the car obediently.
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“They are training.” The man who was leading the way saw this and answered with a smile, “This is very common. Our compound is also cultivating this kind of talent, this group is new this year.”
After answering, they continued to walk forward. Cen Ning was a little curious about such a scene, and couldn’t help but look back, so the small person was pulled further away again.
Pound, pound pound ––
At this moment, there were several sounds of the ball hitting the ground not too far away. When Cen Ning’s eyes moved from the phalanx to over here, the ball had just stopped bouncing and rolled in front of her leisurely.
Where had this basketball come from?
Before Cen Ning could raise her head, there was already a cold voice echoing in front of her.
“Kid, kick the ball over.”
The timbre of his voice was a little low, like a turbulent spring within a deep mountain forest that had endless waves on the surface, but when it fell upon the eardrum, you could feel the inner mysteriousness and nobility.
Cen Ning slowly raised her head to look at the person who spoke not too far away. The person looked about seventeen or eighteen years old. He was wearing white sportswear and had a pair of white and blue sneakers. He was very tall, his eyebrows cold and exquisite, his looks were especially outstanding.
At this moment, he looked at her without any waves of emotion, his thick black eyelashes drooping slightly. Although he didn’t say much, Cen Ning felt an invisible pressure being born.
She squeezed her palms, panicked and kicked her foot.
But she didn’t know if it was because she was too nervous, the kick only swiped the edge of the ball, the basketball slowly rolled forward and stopped again.
“Pfft! This little girl has very little strength.” A boy in black sportswear trotted forward. He bent down and picked up the basketball on the ground, and asked the man who had led Cen Ning into the gates, “Old Gao, did you bring this little girl over? Who’s this, a relative?”
Old Gao walked back to stand beside Cen Ning, and said politely: “Not a relative, but a guest invited by Old Master.”
As soon as these words came out, the boys who were playing on the court all looked at Cen Ning in surprise, and even the person who had spoken so coldly before turned his attention towards her.
Cen Ning had always been timid, her face could turn red all over just from the teacher calling her up to answer a question. What’s more, so many boys were suddenly looking at her. She moved behind Old Gao subconsciously, and looked at Wei Pinfang a few steps away in a panic.
“Old Yan Master’s guest? D*mn, she’s got a lot of honor.” He turned his head and said, “Brother Yan, you know her?”
His surname was Yan?
Cen Ning was taken aback for a moment, and looked up at the cold-faced boy who had just asked her to pick up the ball.
“I don’t know her.” The boy frowned slightly and looked at Old Gao.
It was nothing more than a look, he didn’t even speak, but Old Gao understood the meaning of it and immediately explained respectfully, “She’s from the Cen family, this little girl is called…Cen Ning.”
“What.” Yan Xingzhi paused and lowered his eyes again to look at Cen Ning. This time, there was an obvious surprise in his cold eyes, “You say, this kid?”
“I’m not, a kid.” Cen Ning somehow replied boldly, however, she stumbled a bit with her words so it didn’t carry much intimidation.
The boy behind Yan Xingzhi dribbled the ball with curiosity, the basketball hit the ground with a pounding sound, as if it were mimicking Cen Ning’s heartbeat. She knew who he was now, Old Gao explained it to him in such a manner, and his surname was Yan, then… he must be Yan Xingzhi.
This was very different from what she imagined. When her grandpa was still alive, he had actually mentioned this person before. Whether it was just a joke or he was being serious, in short, she vaguely knew that Yan Xingzhi was special compared to others.
Since childhood, she had received too little love and care, so in her mind she would always imagine Yan Xingzhi to be the type of gentle and easy-going person who would smile at her and treat her well.
But now looking up at him, the small imaginations in Cen Ning’s heart disappeared without a trace. The person in front of her had cold eyes, like the lonely moon on top of a mountain, yet he was also like the only remaining flames in the depths of the night. He looked at her with a cold and distant expression, as if she was just an uninvited guest who had come from somewhere unknown.
“Not a kid?” Yan Xingzhi raised his brows slightly, and he seemed to think that what she said was a little funny, but he didn’t continue to talk to her, only saying, “Old Gao, take the guests to grandpa’s then.”
Old Gao: “How about you first stop playing and come back.”
Yan Xingzhi didn’t answer, he turned around and took the ball from the boy in the black sportswear, stepped forward, jumped, dunked, and the ball fell firmly into the basket, all in one go.
Old Gao knew the temperament of this little ancestor2a phrase that parents/older people use to complain about a child who doesn’t listen, so he didn’t rush him after seeing this, he only said to Cen Ning and Wei Pinfang, “Let’s go in first, people are waiting at home.”
“Okay.” Wei Pinfang walked over and took Cen Ning’s hand, asking Old Gao in a low voice, “Excuse me, was that kid just now…”
Old Gao glanced at her, he knew exactly what she was asking, so he nodded and said, “Yes, he is the eldest grandson of the Yan family, Yan Xingzhi.”
Cen Ning and them walked far away, Yan Xingzhi turned his head to look at their backs, his gaze deep.
Someone beside him asked: “Brother Yan, who is the Cen family, where are they from?”
Before Yan Xingzhi could answer, his good friend Xin Zechuan put one hand on his shoulder and said meaningfully: “I remember your grandfather said that you have a fiancée, huh… the Cen family? Don’t tell me it’s the legendary Cen family where your fiancée is!”
Wearing the black sportswear, Tang Zheng, who was also one of Yan Xingzhi’s good friends suddenly stared at him: “F*ck, brother Yan, you’re tormenting an elementary school student!”
Yan Xingzhi kicked Tang Zheng’s calf: “Scram.”
“Is this okay, isn’t this illegal?” Tang Zheng retreated behind the others, covering his mouth exaggeratedly, “That little kid from before? Honestly, I don’t think this will work, how can you put your hands on such a small girl? !”
The boys on the court all laughed, Yan Xingzhi pressed down the back of his teeth, revealing an inexplicable ruffian-like smile, “Why the f*ck are you thinking about these things? Are you a pervert?”
Tang Zheng laughed while saying, “I don’t dare to, don’t dare to. What was it, why don’t you go back first, after all…you have a precious little wife at home.”
That kid really did not have anything in common with a ‘precious little wife.’
But the jokes between 17 to 18 year-old boys never had a bottom line, Yan Xingzhi was used to it, so he did not take it to heart. He glanced over at Tang Zheng faintly, and the latter was so scared after receiving such a gaze that he hid behind the others.
“I’m going back first, let’s play tomorrow.” In the end, Yan Xingzhi left early. Of course, it wasn’t related to Cen Ning, he was just tired from playing.
Cen Ning still had Yan Xingzhi in her mind when she followed the two adults in front of her into the mansion. His cold gaze from before and his question due to his surprise…they all smashed her heart that had been filled with a small sense of hope.
For the first time, Cen Ning, who was still naive to the world, felt that some people may look very close, but they were actually faraway, living in another world.
“This is Old Cen’s granddaughter,” Yan Guofeng looked at Cen Ning ruefully, “Good child, come to grandpa’s side, let grandpa take a good look at you.”
Cen Ning glanced at Wei Pinfang, who nodded and motioned for her to go over.
So Cen Ning got up cautiously and sat next to Yan Guofeng. Yan Guofeng stretched out and took her hand, his eyes were a little red, “It’s a pity, Old Cen can’t see you grow up.”
Speaking of her grandfather who had passed away, Cen Ning was also feeling a little uncomfortable. She sniffled, almost wanting to cry.
Yan Guofeng patted the back of her hand: “Look, this kid is already in her first year of middle school, right?”
Wei Pinfang nodded, and said softly: “Yes, she just entered her first year of middle school this year.”
“The granddaughter of old Zhang’s family is also in her first year, but she looks much taller than Cen Ning. How can this child look so small.”
Yan Guofeng actually said this quite tactfully. Cen Ning not only looked small, but she was also obviously malnourished.
This 13-year-old child was at least half a head shorter than her peers, and she looked very thin, her skin was also abnormally jaundiced.
“Ah… it’s my fault, I couldn’t give her a good life.” Wei Pinfang choked a little as she said this.
Yan Guofeng frowned: “It’s not your fault, it’s mine, I should have known about your situation sooner and taken in this child earlier, I’m really sorry towards my old friend.”
“Please don’t say that…”
The sound of a paper bag being torn apart.
Cen Ning lifted up her head away from this sorrowful atmosphere, only to see Yan Xingzhi at the door, his head slightly raised, drinking the milk in his hand while walking inside.
He was standing tall and straight, the wind following as he walked, completely out of place compared to the poor atmosphere inside the house.
“Xingzhi, come here,” Yan Guofeng stopped him at this moment, “This is Cen Ning, you must take good care of her from now on.”
[Translator’s Note: Woo, a new sweet story for December, are you all in for the ride!]