The scalding heat felt like it was burning Zhou Shiguang’s skin. She missed her last bus. Nothing can be done now aside from waiting under the heat of the hot summer day. Hearing her phone ring, Shiguang walked to a shade behind the bus stop.
“Hi, Zhou Shiguang speaking.”
“Shiguang, it’s your dad.” An old and hoarse voice came from the other end of the line.
“Sorry, I don’t know you. You must have dialed the wrong number.” Shiguang’s face drained of color.
She hurriedly hanged up the phone. The caller was none other than Chen Jianwei, her biological father. She raised her hand to rub her face. Her heart was pounding erratically. At the same time, her phone rang again. Instead of picking up, she irritably turned her phone off.
Shiguang is currently studying acting. She turned twenty-two this year. Four years ago, she took a blood test. The result changed her life drastically— it was like falling from heaven straight to hell.
Half an hour later, the bus still hasn’t arrived. She felt dizzy from the sun and helplessly turned her phone back on. As soon as the screen brightened, a phone number appeared on the screen.
Wangmei, her dormmate, was calling her.
“How did the interview go?” Wangmei asked as Shiguang accepted the call.
“As always…” She hadn’t made it to the interview and was rejected automatically.
“Guo Xiaomei is inviting us to dinner. Where are you?”
Shiguang glanced down the road. There was still no sign of the bus. She gave Wangmei her address.
“I’m waiting for the bus.”
“Xiaomei’s boyfriend is driving, we’ll pick you up.” Wangmei suddenly lowered her voice, “Damn it, she brought her boyfriend here to show off. Let’s just go and eat.”
Shiguang eased her shoulders. “Alright.”
“Stand there and don’t move, we’ll be there in thirty.”
Twenty minutes later, a gray Nissan stopped pulled over and honked at Shiguang. Xiaomei waved from the window and called out enthusiatically, “Here, babe.”
Hearing Xiaomei’s voice gave Shiguang goosebumps as she quickly ran towards them to open the car door. Wangmei was in the back seat, “Hey! Babe!”
Guang didn’t know whether to laugh or cry: “Stop calling me that.”
The air conditioner was turned on in the car, dispelling the stuffy heat.
“I’m Xiaomei’s boyfriend, Chen Wei.” Shiguang met Chen Wei’s eyes from the rearview mirror, and smiled: “Hi, Shiguang.”
Chen looks like he’s in his thirties. He’s fairly average and is neither tall nor handsome.
Half an hour later, they stopped at a restaurant by the river.
Shiguang glanced at Chen once more as she got out of the case. Judging from his appearance and the car he was driving, he didn’t seem as affluent as her friend claimed. Could he be a fraud? Xiaomei may have a bold personality but she’s also quite naive.
Chen went to look for a parking space accompanied by Xiaomei while the others went in the restaurant.
“Didn’t you have an interview?”
“Umm…” Shiguang sighed and smiled wrily .”I saw Dong Hui during the interview. With her applying for the same position, who would stand a chance?”
Dong Hui is famous in their school. Wangmei receded. “That’s true.”
“What are you two whispering about? Not talking behind my back, are you?”
“With you and your boyfriend so in love, we’re ashamed of being third wheels.” Wangmei said with a smile. “Isn’t that right, Mr. Chen?”
“Please call me Chen Wei or brother Chen.”
Wangmei rolled her eyes and smiled meaningfully: “I wouldn’t dare call you brother Chen.”
His eyes crinkled in a smile while glancing at Zhou Guang.
“Xiaomei’s friends are my friends. There’s nothing you can’t say to me.”
Wangmei turned her head and blinked at Zhou Guang.
“Mr. Chen is in his thirties, right? Where do you work at?”
Wangmei and Xiaomei are rivals who always argue at the dorm.
Before Chen could speak, Guo Xiaomei butted in “Brother Chen is twenty-eight, stop talking nonsense.”
“No way, he looks way older.”
Chen’s face turned green at the statement. He and pushed Xiaomei who was clinging to his arms away irritated.
They met in a bar. She’s a goofy, fun-loving person. He didn’t expect her to be so smart as well.
“Brother Chen, are you angry?”
Shiguang tried to smooth things over: “They like to joke around, please don’t mind her.”
“Why would I be mad?” Chen Wei smiled and added matter-of-factly. “It’s just a joke.”
Xiaomei took Chen’s hand and glared down at Wangmei: “She just likes to hurt others with her jokes. Her wicked mouth is the reason why no one wants to be her boyfriend.”
Wangmei’s face changed as the jab registered. Shiguang quickly grabbed her before she could retaliate. “Wangmei.”
Things would turn ugly if they continue to argue. They’re still friends regardless of how much they bicker.
Xiaomei chose a high-end western restaurant. Wow she’s really showing off her wealth.
Xiaomei ordered for her two friends just as they got the menu. She smiled and glanced at them. “Let me help you. This place is different from the fast food places you typically eat at. “
Shiguang returned the menu to the waiter and ate her meal in silence. Why should she be ashamed?
Wangmei threw the menu on the table mockingly. “Yeah, we’ve never had steak.”
The steak in this restaurant was not delicious. Shiguang lost her appetite after eating two bites. Her phone rang again. This time she glanced at the incoming call, gritted her teeth, and went out.
“I said you made a mistake—”
“What kind of daughter are you? I’m your father. What do you mean by “you made a mistake”? Are you not my daughter? I just got out of prison and I don’t have any money with me. Hurry up and send me money.”
“I’m not your daughter.” Shiguang interrupted him: “I don’t have a father. My name is Zhou Shiguang. I don’t want anything to do with you. Please don’t call me again.”
“You cold hearted brat.” Jianwei bellowed. “I gave birth to you. Where’s your conscience?”
“My mother gave birth to me. What does it have to do with you?” Shiguang lowered her head. She peeled off a loose scrap of skin on her hand and pursed her lips: “I guess it does have something to do with you, huh? You provided the sperm.”
“Call again, and I’ll file for harassment.”
Shiguang raised her head and stared into the distance. The sun was setting at the west, casting a golden glow across the city. Clutching her phone tightly, her hands began trembling.
Four years ago, she would have never believed it if someone told her she’d be associated with a scumbag. At the time, she thought her father was a wealthy business tycoon. Zhou Quan was gentle and prestigious businessman.
Jianwei was imprisoned three years ago for theft and has now been released.
Shiguang blocked his number and walked back to the restaurant. Someone shouted behind her causing her to look back. Her heart shuddered and she felt blood drain from her body.
“Shiguang?” Zhou Meng walked towards her arrogantly. She was wearing a blue knee-length skirt. Her sharp collarbone and delicate eyebrows were mesmerizing. Glancing at Shiguang, she chuckled, “Haven’t seen you in awhile.”
Shiguang bit her lips and nodded, “Yeah, long time no see.”
“Do you work here? Or are you dining here?”
“What do you want?” Shiguang pinched her fingers as humiliation burned through her.
“Can’t we just chat without an ulterior motive?” Meng squinted her eyes. She was wearing high heels. Her face was framed with short hair that highlighted her delicate chin. “I met you just after returning to China. It’s such a coincidence! How can I not say hello?”
Shiguang studied at the woman in front of her. Four years ago, it was Shiguang who was in Zhou Meng’s position.
But now, a single accessory on Meng’s body would be enough to cover Shiguang’s yearly expense.
“My friends are waiting.” Shiguang glanced at Meng. Her nails sank into her flesh but she managed to plaster on a smile. “Let’s talk next time.”
Shiguang turned around to leave.
“Wait!” Meng called, “I am getting engaged on the eighth. You must come.”
Shiguang looked into her eyes.
Meng pursed her lips and smiled. Her eyes were ice cold as she raised her brows. “You took my parents from me for eighteen years while I suffered living with filth. That’s eighteen years of “gratitude” you owe me, I certainly hope that you can come witness me at my happiest.”
TL’s note: I’m so excited to share my first ever chapter with everyone! Please don’t hesitate to leave suggestions/comments below. Hearing from you would make my day <3