After an unknown period of time, Yu Xinqiao turned his face back and wiped away a hint of moisture from the corner of his eye.
Fortunately, he managed to hold back and didn’t actually cry. Even as an 18-year-old, Yu Xinqiao had never shed tears in front of him.
“I should be the one apologizing.” Still unable to look at him, Yu Xinqiao lowered his eyes. “I’ve forgotten a lot of things and I’m troubling you to take care of me.”
He resumed his previous act of pretending to be calm. Perhaps in a few days, he wouldn’t even need to pretend. The 24-year-old Yu Xinqiao was a true adult who should be composed and not display all his emotions on his face.
Xu Yanhuan slowly withdrew his hand and said, “It’s no trouble.”
Perhaps recalling that he had said the same thing at the hospital, he paused for a moment and added, “It’s not just me taking care of you all the time.”
The implication was that you also take care of me.
Yu Xinqiao nodded, his gaze still directed downward. “Once I adapt, maybe I’ll become the way I was before.”
“No need to deliberately adapt,” Xu Yanhuan said. “The way things are now is also good.”
His hand, placed on the bedsheet, involuntarily clenched. He didn’t know whether it was to convey the same “also” or the unreasonable description of “good.”
Yu Xinqiao didn’t know anything, but one thing he was certain of was that the 24-year-old Yu Xinqiao would never be so self-deluded again.
So he lay down, let the blanket cover his head, and listened as the footsteps faded away.
In the following days, the two of them maintained this lukewarm mode of interaction, and life went on peacefully.
In the search for his memories, Yu Xinqiao actively participated in various activities, including but not limited to going out shopping, searching for food, studying hedgehog care methods, as well as cleaning and cooking.
His previous laziness stemmed from being idle, and the fact that Yu Xinqiao could play the piano well proved that his hands were not clumsy.
He began to take the initiative to handle some kitchen work. Whenever Xu Yanhuan came back from grocery shopping, he would help wash and prepare the vegetables. Sometimes, with all three stoves occupied, Xu Yanhuan’s two hands couldn’t keep up, and he would skillfully hand over a bottle of soy sauce or scoop out some salt to be added to the pot, depending on the amount of food.
After finishing the meal, they had free time. Xu Yanhuan seemed to allow Yu Xinqiao to “adapt” on his own. He usually stayed in the study until late, and in order to avoid crossing paths with him, Yu Xinqiao started going to bed early. He felt refreshed and the wound on his forehead quickly healed.
In addition to Xu Yanhuan’s few words, Yu Xinqiao no longer chattered as he did before, and there was little communication between them. Yu Xinqiao even speculated that maybe they got married just to live together, so they had a reason to cook more dishes every day, and they could confidently buy items on a buy-one-get-one-free offer at the supermarket.
Yu Xinqiao began to understand a bit. Since the recovery of his memories couldn’t be rushed, he might as well adjust his mindset. Perhaps the lost memories would unexpectedly return on some early morning, giving him a pleasant surprise.
On this day, Liang Yi passed Lawyer Xing’s WeChat contact to Yu Xinqiao, asking him to communicate with Xing Lv about the matter of the will.
Yu Xinqiao: “So, I made a will.”
Liang Yi still remembered his shock when he heard about his marriage and asked suspiciously, “Why is your reaction so indifferent?”
“I’m tired,” Yu Xinqiao said. “If I go crazy with every piece of news, this will might come in handy sooner than expected.”
Liang Yi: “…”
Lawyer Xing’s WeChat profile picture was a photo of himself, dressed in a suit, tie, and glasses, with a serious expression. He almost seemed to be crossing his arms to show how professional he was.
However, the tone of their communication was unexpectedly “normal.” There was no formality or official language. After introducing themselves, they quickly got to the point, and there was no showing off of skills. When Yu Xinqiao asked questions about some obscure legal terms, Lawyer Xing always managed to explain their meaning in the simplest and most direct way.
Even so, going through the contents of the will still took nearly an hour.
In the end, Lawyer Xing confirmed with Yu Xinqiao in a voice message if he had any objections, especially regarding the distribution of assets.
After a moment of contemplation, Yu Xinqiao said, “Since this was written by me personally, let it be like this.”
This will was personally written by Yu Xinqiao last month and then reviewed and standardized by Lawyer Xing. Yu Xinqiao unconditionally trusted his 24-year-old self.
Knowing Yu Xinqiao’s situation, Lawyer Xing said, “Feel free to contact me for any modifications if needed.”
Yu Xinqiao said, “As long as I’m still alive, am I free to make any changes?”
Lawyer Xing replied, “Theoretically, that’s correct.”
Both of them laughed.
After discussing the important matters, Yu Xinqiao let out a sigh. “It’s been a long time since I worked. I’m not used to such a fast pace.”
“Lawyers sell time,” Xing Lv said. “So it’s not that we want to be fast, it’s purely professional instinct.”
“Should I hang up now to avoid wasting your time?” Yu Xinqiao asked.
“No, spending time maintaining a good relationship with important clients is also within my responsibilities.”
Frank people always make others willing to approach them, and Yu Xinqiao smiled again. “So, does that mean I can ask you about things other than work?”
Xing Lv replied smoothly, “Of course. But at this point, don’t use ‘ask,’ I suggest using ‘inquire.'”
Yu Xinqiao didn’t hide it either and directly inquired about the situation when Lawyer Xing first went to the law firm.
Lawyer Xing Lv said, “At that time, you contacted our law firm, saying you wanted to find a personal lawyer. Later, you even refused our visit and came to our law firm in person. To be honest, our law firm has only been established for five years and doesn’t have much reputation in the industry. Being able to have a client like you was completely unexpected.”
“So, the final decision to choose you as my personal lawyer, was it my decision or…” Yu Xinqiao trailed off, waiting for the other person to continue.
“It was your decision, of course, but we also listened to other people’s opinions,” Lawyer Xing Lv responded quickly. “At that time, Lawyer Xu Lv was just your old classmate. We sat around a table discussing who should take the position, and he voluntarily withdrew and recommended me. I believe you accepted his advice and chose me.”
This matched what Xu Yanhuan had said.
Yu Xinqiao had originally wanted to ask about the “astonishing words” he said at the law firm, but he couldn’t bring himself to ask due to embarrassment.
He had to beat around the bush, saying, “Do people at your law firm know about me and him, Xu Yanhuan, getting married?”
“Of course, Lawyer Xu Lv is well acquainted with our managing partner. When you got married abroad, the managing partner even approved his paid leave.”
“The managing partner?”
“Yes, the head of our law firm. You’ve met him before. Speaking of which, if it weren’t for Lawyer Xu’s good relationship with the managing partner, he probably wouldn’t have entered our law firm.”
“The new law firm lacks reputation and the benefits are average. As a partner, I have to acknowledge the entrepreneurial path I chose. Lawyer Xu Lv, on the other hand, is a top-ranked graduate from the Law School. If he submits his resume, no law firm in the capital would refuse him.”
In the capital city, March was still chilly despite occasional warmth. Before leaving at noon, Yu Xinqiao stretched his hand out of the window to feel the temperature and put on a slightly bulky coat.
The surrounding area of his residence had large shopping malls as well as quaint narrow alleys. When he walked in, he would often encounter elderly people sitting on stools and chatting. There were also cats lying on the ground, basking in the sun at noon.
Yu Xinqiao liked being with animals. Sometimes he could spend half the day just watching cats, even if his legs fell asleep from squatting.
Today, he had something on his mind. After feeding the three cats with the sausages he brought, he stood up and prepared to leave.
As he turned around, he collided with a girl riding a hoverboard, holding a sturdt Golden Retriever in her hand. Both of them couldn’t dodge in time, and they bumped into each other with a loud thud.
The girl from the capital had a bold and straightforward personality. She quickly stood up and ignored dusting off her bottom. Instead, she grabbed Yu Xinqiao’s arm and said, “Sorry for bumping into you. Can you still stand?”
When their eyes met, the girl’s face changed, and she exclaimed, “Yu Xiaoqiao! You actually came back!”
The girl’s name was Xiao Kaiyan, and she was Yu Xinqiao’s good friend and classmate from kindergarten to the first half of the second year of high school.
When Yu Xinqiao came out of the closet, it was her encouragement that made it possible. However, the consequences were more severe than expected, leading to the two of them not seeing each other for seven years.
Xiao Kaiyan took Yu Xinqiao to the underground bar she owned nearby. It was not yet opening time, and a few scattered people were cleaning inside.
She tied the Golden Retriever at the entrance and went behind the bar counter, rolling up her sleeves, claiming that she would show Yu Xinqiao something.
Yu Xinqiao knew her too well and preemptively said, “I still have to play the piano, so I can’t drink high-concentration alcohol.”
Xiao Kaiyan rolled her eyes and took out a bottle of Yakult from below the counter, handing it over.
Yu Xinqiao smiled, “You even sell this in your underground bar.”
“No choice, gotta take care of the little ones.”
The two exchanged recent news. Xiao Kaiyan was still the same, going with the flow and enjoying life. After working for two years after graduation and with the money left by her parents, she bought this bar and started living a carefree life. To her, there was hardly any difference between school and society.
Hearing that Yu Xinqiao was suffering from selective amnesia, Xiao Kaiyan was shocked and jokingly said she wanted to cut open his head to see if something was truly missing.
“Then wouldn’t you have forgotten the embarrassing things you did in Xuncheng as well?”
“Will it even count? That was when I was seventeen.”
“Oh, right. Did you finally manage to win him over in the end?”
Back then, Yu Xinqiao pursued Xu Yanhuan, but after two months without any progress, he turned to Xiao Kaiyan for help in desperation.
She didn’t disappoint. Since junior high school, Xiao Kaiyan had changed boyfriends more frequently than clothes, and she had a way with handling even her family’s male dog. It seemed like there was no male creature she couldn’t conquer in this world.
Living up to everyone’s expectations, Xiao Kaiyan generously shared her knowledge. She had even hoped to witness Yu Xinqiao successfully winning over the aloof guy, but she lost sight of him before knowing whether he succeeded or not.
Knowing he was in the wrong, Yu Xinqiao answered without much confidence, “No.”
“How is that possible?” Xiao Kaiyan was astonished. “With your looks and my strategies, even if he were an iron tree, he would have blossomed—”
“I married him,” Yu Xinqiao interrupted. “It happened last year.”
Xiao Kaiyan facepalmed. “Qiao, can you not pause for breath while we talk?”
After listening to Yu Xinqiao’s description of his current situation, Xiao Kaiyan took a sip of Yakult, hesitated, and spoke up, “If I were in your shoes, I would also speculate whether he was coerced or if you have some leverage on him… After all, it’s a hasty marriage, less than half a year since you got married, and considering how resistant he was to you back then, his sudden change in attitude is illogical.”
What Xiao Kaiyan said had long been pondered by Yu Xinqiao in his mind.
He sadly realized that he hadn’t actually figured it out. Just as he had obtained some new information, he became restless again.
Yu Xinqiao tilted his head, rested it on the bar table, and opened his phone. The screen was still on a web page, displaying “Stellar Law Firm, Lu Meng.”
The head of the firm was a female lawyer, appearing to be in her thirties from the photo. Although no longer youthful, she had an outstanding temperament and was still at the age of radiance.
It was hard not to think about some past conflicts upon seeing her. Yu Xinqiao dropped his phone, hugged his head, and forced himself not to dwell on it.
Suddenly, Xiao Kaiyan asked, “Hey, you said he bought the house. How big is the house and what’s the average price?”
Yu Xinqiao mentioned the name of the residential complex, leaving Xiao Kaiyan amazed. “It’s nearby? The houses there cost six figures per square meter. Didn’t you say his family wasn’t in good financial condition?”
“That was the case back then. Now, I don’t know.” Yu Xinqiao felt weak and powerless, feeling that he had said “I don’t know” more times in the past few days than in the previous eighteen years.
Xiao Kaiyan continued analyzing, “I think if he can put your name on the property deed, it’s enough to show that you hold a place in his heart.”
“Maybe I forced him with a knife at his throat.”
“But you two still share a bed, don’t you?”
“I only found his book under the pillow. It’s possible that he used to sleep in the master bedroom while I slept in the adjacent room.”
“Can’t you have a little confidence in yourself?”
“I don’t. I’ve been rejected ten thousand times. Who would still have confidence?”
The sudden silence made Yu Xinqiao sense that something was off.
He raised his head and saw Xiao Kaiyan placing his phone back on the table, wearing the expression of someone whose cunning plan had succeeded—a look he had grown accustomed to.
Hastily grabbing his own phone, he opened it, and the lingering screen turned into a text message. The recipient was Xu Yanhuan, and the message was concise: “Xiaoqiao got injured.” The bar address followed.
It had been read, and it was too late to retract it.
Yu Xinqiao: “…”
Xiao Kaiyan triumphantly said, “I’ll help you test him. If he cares about you, he’ll come within half an hour.”
“But he’s at work, he’s busy!”
Yu Xinqiao opened the call interface and was about to press the dial button when Xiao Kaiyan asked, “Don’t you want to know?”
His actions froze, his finger hovering less than a centimeter away from the screen.
“Work can be done anytime, but there’s only one wife.” Xiao Kaiyan shrugged. “Although it’s a bit manipulative, it’s the quickest way to test whether he cares about you.”
“Do you really not want to know?”
How could I not want to know?
In the following moments, Yu Xinqiao wrestled repeatedly on the edge between morality and personal desire, but ultimately the latter prevailed.
Let me be selfish this time, Yu Xinqiao took a deep breath.
If I get the answer, I can let go.
Just as he had a very pessimistic assumption about the possibilities between himself and Xu Yanhuan, Yu Xinqiao had equally pessimistic expectations for the outcome of this situation.
Therefore, when Xu Yanhuan appeared in front of him, disheveled and out of breath, his external image as a lawyer, which needed to be maintained at all times, was also in disarray. Yu Xinqiao’s initial reaction was uncertain about how to respond.
He still didn’t know what the twenty-four-year-old Yu Xinqiao would do.
And even though Xu Yanhuan was in a hurry, he remained as methodical as before. He didn’t ask what had happened or why he had received that inexplicable text message. Instead, he asked, “Where are you injured? Let me take a look.”
Yu Xinqiao was held by him, unable to move, and when he raised his eyes, he saw the precise-to-the-second digital clock hanging on the wall, indicating that only nineteen minutes and twenty-three seconds had passed since that text message was sent.
At the moment Xu Yanhuan received the text message, he didn’t call back to ask for details or have time to reply. Instead, he immediately rushed over without knowing anything.
As she was leaving, Yu Xinqiao saw the ambiguous expression on Xiao Kaiyan’s face, as if saying, “See, I told you so.”
His already chaotic emotions became even more restless.
At the entrance, a golden retriever, unfamiliar with strangers, barked twice. Before Yu Xinqiao could react, his body instinctively stepped in front of Xu Yanhuan.
He still remembered Xu Yanhuan’s fear of dogs.
Yu Xinqiao hated himself, hated his own weakness.
Now he was not only restless but also felt like destroying the whole world.
After the stairs, before the main entrance of the bar, there was a long and dim corridor with some abstract paintings hanging on the walls, said to be bought at a high price. Xiao Kaiyan had told him to take a look when he left.
But now Yu Xinqiao had no time to appreciate them. He just kept his head down and walked. As he reached the stairs leading to the ground floor, someone caught up with him and grabbed his arm from behind.
Xu Yanhuan frowned, somewhat puzzled, and asked, “What’s wrong?”
After confirming that Yu Xinqiao wasn’t injured, before he could ask anything else, Yu Xinqiao shook him off and tried to walk away. After finally catching hold of him, all Xu Yanhuan got was a question, “Why did you come?”
Unable to escape, Yu Xinqiao looked up at Xu Yanhuan without answering, and instead asked, “I’m asking you, why did you come?”
Xu Yanhuan was taken aback by his question.
His voice trembled slightly, and Yu Xinqiao continued, “Clearly, you… didn’t come before, right?”
In that moment, a gust of wind blew in from the exit above, as if the air had become heavy and pressed down on both of them.
Revisiting old matters often made people weary.
But what others saw as old matters had just happened in Yu Xinqiao’s eyes, with wounds still fresh and not yet healed.
Facing Xu Yanhuan, he couldn’t ask, “Why didn’t you come?” The answer was obvious—because he didn’t care, he didn’t like him.
But he should question himself—why didn’t he let go back then? Why was he still entangled in this situation?
Yu Xinqiao began to believe that amnesia was a punishment from fate.
Knowing that he was afraid of pain, fate made him experience the pursuit that started with impure intentions, not just once, but twice.
Disclaimer: The method of testing whether a partner cares about you, as depicted in this chapter, is strongly discouraged by the author. The plot in the novel has its own special background, so please refrain from attempting it in real life!
The next chapter will return to the memory timeline and will explain the “why didn’t you come” incident from various perspectives. Remember to come and read it~ (waves handkerchief)