Propping her chin up with her hands, Rachel Ruan heaved a sigh as she watched Fannie Ruan pack. It was all she could do.
"Why do you sigh? What I'm doing is in your best interests." Fannie Ruan put the candles and the joss paper* carefully into her pocket, and then turned around to look at her daughter.
(*TN: Joss paper are sheets of paper that are burned in traditional Chinese deity or ancestor worship ceremonies during special holidays.)
They were planning to return to their hometown where they might have to spend at least two days. Rachel was unwilling to go back with Fannie. Noticing that her mother was ready, Rachel lowered her head and reluctantly stuffed her cellphone and charger into her brown bag.
On the bus, Rachel gazed at the scenery outside the window while her mother babbled on and on about her blind dates.
It had rained the night before and the roads in the village were slippery. After they got off the bus, she took the bag over from her mother and held her arm.
"Rachel, I'm sorry. Mom's not able to find a way out. Look, both your campus romance and your blind date didn't have a happy ending. You really make me lose face!" It seemed that Fannie had no intention to stop talking.
Every time Fannie thought of her daughter's love story, she heaved a huge sigh. There was always idle gossip behind her back.
Something like "Look, this is the mother of that jinx".
In the past two years, Rachel had had several blind dates. Some of the men had been ideal soulmates. However, each time Rachel's relationship with them developed, something bad happened to them.
Two of them had had traffic accidents, two had two-timed her, and another two had gotten serious diseases right before marriage.
Although similar coincidences often occurred to other people, the accidents seemed to be too frequent for Rachel.
After all those misfortunes, nobody dared to be the matchmaker for Rachel because everybody was afraid of getting into trouble.
"Mom, would you please stop? In the society we're living in now, it's pretty normal to have a lot of blind dates. And accidents and diseases are happening every second, every minute and every hour. No one can claim it's my fault."
Still, in Rachel's eyes, these coincidences were setbacks in her life. And yet, she believed that she would find her Mr. Right someday.
Shooting Rachel a glance, Fannie grabbed the bag from her hand and said, "Honey, if you don't do something to expel the bad luck, I might also be cursed by you soon!"
Turning around a corner, they headed towards their old house.
Trailing behind her mother, Rachel shrugged her shoulders. She heard a car driving by. Turning around, she caught a glimpse of a luxurious black Maybach driving towards the old houses beyond the one they were headed to.
"Oh, what a rich man!" she thought, "How could he drive such a luxurious car on this muddy road without worrying about getting it dirty?"
Grumbling, she took a look at her muddy shoes and then headed to the old house.
XH Village was an ancient village with a three-hundred-year history. There were many old buildings in pristine condition, especially the old temple. The old temple was preserved very well and thronged with pilgrims. The burning incense in the temple had not been extinguished till now.
"Mr. Hiram, would you please hurry up? Your mother has been waiting for a long time. She said that the best incense-offering time was 9 o'clock in the morning."
In front of a full-length bronze mirror, a man was smoothing down his shirt. Frowning, he gave the butler a cold look.
His dark eyes resembled the starry sky and his commanding temperament was daunting. Seeing his eyes, the butl
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er immediately shut up.
"I don't like this tie. Give me another one."
He said coolly, throwing the tie away.
Reacting quickly, the butler caught the tie in midair. He turned around to bring another tie for Hiram.
"This belt doesn't match my clothes. Give me another one." Hiram pulled the black belt out and threw it away.
The butler hurried to catch the belt.
Hiram Rong had a habit, so to speak, a hobby. He liked throwing things.
As long as he didn't like something, he would throw it away without a second thought.
As for his secretaries and assistants, all of them were strong and nimble. Exaggeratedly speaking, if there was a fly buzzing, they could even catch it with two fingers!
On the other side of the door, there was an elegant woman who couldn't wait any longer. It was his mother. She knocked on the door anxiously, urging her son to hurry.
"Hiram, the annual ancestor-worshiping ceremony concerns the Rong Family's luck for the whole year. Please take it seriously!"
Looking at himself in the bronze mirror, Hiram Rong nodded in satisfaction. He grabbed his cell phone from the ancient wood table and walked up to the door.
The butler heaved a sigh of relief and hurried to open the door for him. Joanna Fang, Hiram's mother, was anxiously waiting outside.
Fannie and Rachel stepped out of their home, which was situated in front of the majestic house of the Rong Family, and walked towards the old temple.
Walking along the road, Fannie lectured her daughter about the rites in the old temple and how to practice them. Fannie was very worried that Rachel might offend the god and stay single all her life.
Rachel rolled her eyes. Every time before going to the temple, her mother would warn her again and again along the way.
"My dear Fannie, have you got it all wrong? I'm your daughter, not your old mother. I know everything you're saying by heart!"
Rachel often didn't act her age, and Fannie had gotten used to that. She looked at her daughter with a smile and helped her smooth her clothes and said, "I was just reminding you of it again."
The two of them entered the old temple and walked directly into the back hall. There was a special and exclusive rule for the local residents in XH Village, different from the visitors.
"Take these things with you. Listen, after entering the room, don't look around. Keep everything I've told you in mind, " Fannie advised, handing a few objects to Rachel.
It was a tradition in XH Village. People had to bring tributes and candles to the old temple and worship sincerely so that their wishes would be realized.
"Got it!" Grabbing the things, Rachel quickly headed towards the door of the Buddhist Prayer Room. As soon as she was in that room, she could finally have a moment of peace.
On the other side...
The Rong Family had been the first family to become rich in XH Village. They had then donated a lot of money to the restoration of the old temple. Therefore, they enjoyed special treatment in XH Village.
The memorial tablets for ancestors of the Rong Family were arranged respectfully in a hall next to the Buddhist Prayer Room. They bathed in the blessings of Buddha.
"Hiram, you are the head of the Rong Family now. You should preside over the ceremony in person, " Joanna Fang said gently, looking at her outstanding son.
All his life, the one thing Hiram had hated the most was worshiping.
He only believed in himself.
Although he didn't like it, Hiram still followed her mother's advice. Even his high accomplishments wouldn't allow him to show his discontent in front of his mother. Grabbing the basket from his mother, he turned around and headed towards the ancestral hall.
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