Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
Han Miao hurriedly took out her cell phone from the pocket of her down jacket. She turned on the flashlight on her cell phone and shone it into the corridor.
The visibility of the flashlight was very low and Han Miao didn’t see anything.
If she couldn’t see, she would be even more flustered.
Han Miao muttered some superstitious words before trembling as she walked into the dark corridor. She had a performance tonight. She was wearing a pair of tight boots under her long dress. The heels of her shoes hit the cement floor and made clicking sounds.
Han Miao loved to read mystery novels. When she heard that clicking sound, her mind was filled with the scene of a malicious ghost knocking on the ground with a thigh bone.
Han Miao shivered even harder.
The underground corridor was exceptionally cold. The cold wind felt like they were in hell.
After some time, Han Miao finally walked from Class 230 to Class 222.
The front door of Class 222 was open. Han Miao stood at the door, not daring to look into the classroom, afraid that she would see a brainless senior sitting behind the desk. Thinking of that scene, Han Miao’s hair stood on end.
She aimed her cell phone at the classroom and shouted with her eyes closed, “Neil? Are you there?”
No one answered her.
Han Miao narrowed her eyes and glanced into the classroom. Under the light of the flashlight on her cell phone, Han Miao saw a mountain of textbooks, but she didn’t see Li Ao.
Is Li Ao not in the classroom?
He was really kidnapped?
Han Miao didn’t dare to think deeply about the possibility of Li Ao being kidnapped for the second time. That experience when he was young nearly took Li Ao’s life. If it happened again, would Li Ao still be alive?
Although that guy was very annoying, he was not a bad person. Han Miao still hoped that he was fine.
Han Miao stood at the door and looked into the classroom. She shouted again. “Neil, are you there?”
There was still no response.
It looked like he was not in the classroom.
Han Miao turned and was about to leave when something sounded in the silent night.
Something landed on the ground and spun in circles. It sounded like coins, but not as crisp as coins.
That voice was especially eye-catching in the silent night.
Han Miao was so scared that she hurriedly ran out of the classroom and into the corridor. She stood in the corridor panting, thinking, What is that sound?
She quickly guessed what that thing was. It was Teacher Ouyang’s copper coin!
“Neil, are you inside?”
Concern overcame her fear of the unknown darkness. Han Miao strode into the classroom and aimed the light of her cell phone at the back door.
She didn’t see anyone from Li Ao’s seat, but she heard nervous breathing. Han Miao swallowed and slowly walked closer to that seat. As she got closer, a black shadow appeared within the range of the flashlight on her cell phone.
Seeing that person, Han Miao was instantly stunned.
That young man who stood up much taller than her was now curled up between the back door and the wall like a little puppy that was afraid of its owner.
His backpack landed beside the stool.
The young man hugged his head with both hands and tried hard to hide his feet under his butt. He leaned his head against the wall and muttered something with heavy breathing.
He was talking!
Little Mute was actually talking!
Han Miao didn’t dare to disturb Li Ao. She slowly approached Li Ao and squatted down slightly.
As she got closer, she indeed heard the young man’s voice. As she had not spoken for a long time, the young man’s voice was very unpleasant, like a knife slowly rubbing against a rock, making one’s scalp tingle and feel uncomfortable all over.
Han Miao leaned closer to Li Ao and finally heard what he was saying. He said, “Don’t… don’t hit me… I won’t speak. I will be good. I won’t speak…”
The young man’s tone was filled with fear. Every word was trembling.
“Don’t hit me. It hurts, it hurts…” As he spoke, the young man’s body trembled. He looked like an invisible person was whipping him with an invisible whip.
Han Miao watched this scene in shock.
At this moment, all her prejudice against the young man disappeared.
Her heart ached!
That lively and cheerful little cutie who would open her mouth to smile whenever she took a photo was harmed by that crazy woman!
Han Miao silently opened her arms and gently hugged Li Ao’s body.
Sensing that someone was approaching him, Li Ao instinctively stretched out his legs to kick someone. That was his subconscious action to protect himself.
After kicking Han Miao, Li Ao seemed to recall an even more terrifying regret. He hugged his head tightly and hid against the wall. As he hid, he shouted hoarsely and fearfully, “I was wrong, I was wrong. I don’t dare to fight back anymore! I beg you, I beg you, don’t hit me!”
Those days, he had repeatedly begged for forgiveness, but no matter how he apologized, that woman refused to stop.
She kept hitting and kicking him. He was in so much pain and hungry. He wanted to die!
Han Miao was kicked to the ground by Li Ao.
When her wrist landed, her joints hurt very much. Han Miao was in so much pain that tears streamed down her face. She looked sadly at the scared and trembling youth.
After hesitating for a moment, Han Miao got up again.
She knelt down beside Li Ao and opened her arms to carefully hug him.
Li Ao was like a frightened bird. Every hair on his body stood up.
Is she going to hit me?
Li Ao shouted. “I shouldn’t have fought back! I won’t fight back again! Don’t hit me!”
Han Miao hugged Li Ao tightly and said to him, “Neil, I am Miaomiao! Neil, no one will dare to hit you or you. Neil, you are safe. You are safe now.”
Li Ao was trapped in his own world and couldn’t hear what Han Miao was saying at all. He kept repeating those begging words repeatedly.
Han Miao’s heart ached so much that she cried. She leaned her head on Li Ao’s thin shoulder and said in a choked voice, “Neil, I’ll protect you. Don’t be afraid. Ah! I’ll protect you. No one can hurt you!”
Han Miao’s hand was stained with tears. The cell phone slipped from her palm and the screen fell to the ground. The light from the flashlight shone straight at the ceiling of the classroom. Under the light, the dark classroom darkened.
When Li Ao saw that beam of light, the ravings in his mouth gradually lightened. After nearly a minute, Li Ao’s trembling body calmed down.
He looked at the blinding light and gradually, his chaotic consciousness returned.
He was in the classroom, not the basement.
Li Ao looked down and saw that his arms were being hugged by a pair of hands. He turned his head and saw a crying face. That face was chubby and had makeup on tonight. With this cry, fake eyelashes and eyeshadow mixed with foundation powder, looking very much like a paint plate that he had dirtied.
Li Ao looked at Han Miao, his eyes trembling slightly.
Han Miao sensed that Li Ao was no longer trembling and didn’t mutter those neurotic words. She finally heaved a sigh of relief.
Han Miao’s strength relaxed a lot as she hugged Li Ao. Her palm gently patted Li Ao’s back. As she patted, she sang. “Twinkle, twinkle, little stars all over the sky…”
When Han Miao didn’t sleep well when she was young, Song Ci would sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star for her. Han Miao used the most clumsy and naive method to comfort Li Ao’s panicked and painful heart.
Hearing the girl’s clear and gentle voice, Li Ao gradually relaxed. He sat down on the ground and leaned his head on Li Ao’s shoulder, feeling weak all over.
When Han Miao sang it for the fourth time, the entire building instantly turned as bright as day!
Someone opened the power switch.
The lights were blinding. Li Ao blinked before pushing Han Miao away and sitting up. He looked up at the lights in the classroom and heard footsteps running from the end of the corridor.
A few seconds later, Han Jun, Han Zheng, and the bodyguards all appeared at the door of the classroom.
Seeing that Han Miao and Li Ao were both there, the bodyguards heaved a sigh of relief. They hurriedly picked up their cell phones and called Li Li in the corridor to inform him.
Han Jun and Han Zheng walked up to the two of them. They didn’t say anything. Han Jun bent down and pulled Han Miao up. Han Zheng reached out his hands to Li Ao.
Li Ao hesitated for a moment before putting his hand on Han Zheng’s palm.
Han Zheng pulled Li Ao up. He noticed that Li Ao’s face was pale and the skin of his mouth was still bleeding because of his fear.
He thought of Li Ao’s painful childhood and felt sorry for his brother. “Brother Li Ao, can you still stand firm?”
Han Zheng didn’t mock Li Ao or him.
Who wasn’t afraid before?
Li Ao shook his head and Han Zheng helped Li Ao sit down on the stool. Li Ao sat on the stool and secretly glanced at Han Miao.
Han Miao was wiping her tears and saying, “He scared me to death. When I found him, he was curled up in the corner of the door and trembling non-stop. When I got close to him, he even kicked me!”
Han Miao squatted down, picked up her skirt, pulled down the zipper on the side of her leather shoes, lifted her flesh-colored leggings, and revealed her calf skin. Han Jun saw a purple bruise on Han Miao’s calf. She thought of what happened and looked at Li Ao with condemnation.
Han Miao pointed at that scar and looked up to accuse Li Ao. “Neil, look, I am injured again for you. From the moment I met you, I have been constantly injured!”
Li Ao stared at that wound and knew that he had kicked it just now. He felt very apologetic and didn’t dare to look at Han Miao directly.
Han Miao was not really blaming Li Ao. She sized up Li Ao’s weak expression and asked him, “Are you better now?”
Hearing Han Miao’s question, Li Ao looked down at her and nodded.
Han Miao asked again, “Then can you speak now?” She stood up, pulled Han Jun’s arm, and said excitedly, “Neil can speak. I heard his voice previously.”
Han Jun and Han Zheng both looked surprised. Han Zheng asked Li Ao, “Brother Li Ao, can you speak?”
Li Ao looked at the siblings. He tried to open his mouth to speak, but he couldn’t make a sound.
Li Ao lowered his head and shook his head at Han Miao and the rest.
Seeing this, Han Miao was slightly discouraged. “Sigh.” She was slightly disappointed. She said, “I thought you could speak. Looks like you have a psychological barrier that you can’t overcome.”
Li Ao knew better than anyone that he couldn’t speak because of a psychological barrier, but how could a mental barrier be overcome just like that?
The few of them rested in the classroom for a while. When Li Ao could stand up and walk on his own, they walked out of the school. Before they reached the school gate, they met Li Li halfway.
Li Li had obviously come over from the coffee house the moment he heard the news of Li Ao’s disappearance. He arrived in time and wore the wrong slippers. His left foot was his own gray slippers. They were slightly bigger and his right foot was Li Ao’s slippers, slightly smaller.
Seeing that Li Ao was safe and sound, Li Li hugged him with joy. “Neil, you nearly scared me to death.”
Li Ao patted Li Li’s back to calm his father down.
Li Li received Li Ao and took out his cell phone to call Su Beibei, who was far away in New York, to reassure her.
Li Ao walked to the car and chatted with Su Beibei. Han Miao told Li Li in detail what happened in the classroom.
“You said Li Ao spoke tonight?” Li Li grabbed Han Miao’s shoulder happily, hurting her.
Han Miao quickly cried out. “Uncle Li, you’re hurting me.”
“I’m sorry, Uncle is too agitated.” Li Li released Han Miao’s shoulder. He turned to look at Li Ao beside the car and heard Su Beibei asking him what was going on on on the other end of the video call. Li Ao was communicating with Su Beibei in sign language.
Li Li retracted his gaze and asked Han Miao, “He thought he had returned to when he was abused as a child, so he spoke. When he calmed down, he won’t speak again?”
Han Miao nodded. “It’s like this.”
Although Li Li felt regretful, he heaved a sigh of relief. He said, “He can speak and not a real mute. This is good news.”
To be honest, all these years, Li Ao had never spoken a word. Li Li and Su Beibei were worried that Li Ao would become a real mute and never speak in this life.
Tonight, Li Ao spoke. This was good news for Li Li and Su Beibei.
It was already past 11pm. Han Jun decided to return to Imperial Dragon Mountain tomorrow morning and rest in the school district room tonight. Li Li saw that Li Ao’s face was still pale and decided to bring him to the school district room for a night.
Han Miao ran outside in her dress for the entire night and was so cold that her body was slightly purple. Once she entered the house, Han Miao said, “I want to take a bath. Don’t fight with me. I’m going to die from the cold!”
Han Jun and Han Zheng didn’t argue with Han Miao. Han Jun even considerately filled the bathtub with water. Han Miao soaked in the bathtub and her entire body was wrapped in warm water. Only then did she hum comfortably.
The bathtub was kept warm. Han Miao soaked for more than 10 minutes before Han Jun pushed open the bathroom door and walked in. Han Zhan stood outside the glass partition door and said to Han Miao, “You should get up. It’s not good for your skin if you soak for too long.”
“Let me soak for a while more.”
Han Miao soaked for another three minutes before reluctantly getting up.
She returned to her room, took off her towel, put on her thermal underwear, and hid in bed. Just as she was about to fall asleep, she heard her cell phone ring.
She reached out from under the blanket and touched her cell phone. She narrowed her eyes at the WeChat message and realized that a stranger was requesting to add him as a friend.
The other party’s profile was pitch-black. His WeChat name was N, and his friend request was Neil.
Han Miao saw that it was Li Ao and hurriedly passed.
After replying to her friend, Han Miao typed: [Where did you ask about my WeChat?] They had been classmates for three months and had never added each other on WeChat. Han Miao thought that they would never add each other until they graduated from high school.
Li Ao had been holding his cell phone and waiting for her to send a message through her good friend. Seeing Han Miao’s message, Li Ao explained: [I am in the class group.]
Of course Han Miao knew that Li Ao was in the class group.
On the first day of school, Li Ao was pulled into the class group by the form teacher. But in the past three months, Li Ao had never spoken in the WeChat group.
Han Miao heard from Baby Tian that many people in class wanted to be Li Ao’s WeChat friend, but Li Ao didn’t accept any of them. When Han Miao heard about this, she naturally wouldn’t foolishly take the initiative to add him, so she kept ignoring Li Ao.
Han Miao didn’t expect Li Ao to take the initiative to add her. She actually felt honored.
Han Miao was not foolish enough to ask him why he added her. She said: [You received a shock tonight. Sleep early.]
Li Ao: [What time are you guys going home tomorrow? My father said he wants to treat you guys to breakfast. He cooked personally.]
Han Miao: [If Uncle Li wants to cook, I must try it!]
Li Ao: [Mmm.]
Han Miao: [Goodnight.]
Li Ao: [Goodnight.]
Li Ao’s rented room only had two rooms. One of them was set up as a drawing room, so his house only had one bed.
The bed was 1.8 meters wide and it was rather spacious for Li Ao and Li Li to squeeze on it.
After returning home, Li Li got Li Ao to take a shower first while he went to the kitchen to make a bowl of ginger soup for Li Ao. He carried the ginger soup back to his room and saw that Li Ao was engrossed in his cell phone. He asked him, “What are you looking at!”
Li Ao hid his cell phone under his pillow guiltily.
Li Li was speechless.
Li Li guessed a possibility and looked at Li Ao with an interesting expression. “Unknowingly, my Neil is also an old child and has reached the age of peeking at films.”
Li Ao glared at Li Li fiercely.
Li Li walked over and rubbed Li Ao’s head. He teased him. “Why are you so shy? When I was your age, I also bought magazines and read novels.”
Li Ao didn’t want to explain anymore.
“Drink the ginger soup and sleep. The world will still be beautiful tomorrow morning.”
Li Ao obediently drank the ginger soup.
Li Li fell asleep at the side. He sighed. “Ever since your mother divorced me, I haven’t slept with anyone else.”
Li Ao knew that his father was missing someone.
Li Ao knew that his father and mother had also loved each other deeply back then. Later on, they got divorced due to some matters. Up until now, the two of them were still single and didn’t have any new lovers, but neither did they have any plans to remarry.
But Li Ao felt that his father and mother had feelings for each other. It was just that his mother had already seen through love and didn’t show her concern for his father.
Li Ao hoped that his parents could remarry, but he wouldn’t take the initiative to mention this because he respected every decision of his parents and wouldn’t selfishly use his existence to influence their feelings.
The father and son slept with their backs against each other. Li Ao secretly took out his cell phone from his pillow. He unlocked his cell phone and Han Miao’s selfie appeared on the screen.
Previously, when Li Li barged in with the ginger soup, Li Ao was peeping at Han Miao’s social media.
Han Miao was a chatterbox who loved to laugh and throw a tantrum. Her social media was also very lively. She would post on her social media every day. Sometimes she complained about her sister’s viciousness, and sometimes she praised herself for being beautiful.
A few minutes ago, she had posted on her social media: [Aiyo, little pitiful, little delicate.]
Li Ao felt that that “little pitiful” was most likely referring to him.
Li Ao really wanted to leave a message and say something. He felt that it was not appropriate to write or delete it, so he just logged out of WeChat Moments. Li Li was also playing with his cell phone and noticed that Li Ao’s phone was still lit. He said, “Sleep early. Don’t play with your cell phone when the lights are off. It’s not good for your eyes.”
Although he said that, he didn’t put down his cell phone himself.
Li Ao sent Li Li a WeChat message: [Han Miao said she wants to eat the onion oil noodles you made. She saved me tonight. Make the onion oil noodles for them tomorrow morning.]
Li Li turned over and poked Li Ao’s shoulder.
Li Ao also turned over and laid flat with his father.
Li Li asked him: [How did Han Miao know that I know how to make stir-fried noodles with onions and oil?] That child had never eaten his stir-fried noodles. “You told her?”
Li Ao lied and sent a WeChat message: [Perhaps Mother always told Auntie Song that the onion oil noodles you make are delicious, so Han Miao and the rest know.]
Seeing this explanation, Li Li was instantly excited. He said, “Your mother really praised my onion oil noodles?”
Li Ao nodded.
Li Li said: [I’ll make one for them tomorrow morning.]
After 7am, Li Li got up and started making breakfast.
There were one big and three little ones next door. In addition to his own two mouths, Li Li had to make five portions of breakfast. After cooking the noodles, he got Li Ao to go next door to call someone over for dinner.
Han Miao and the rest didn’t have the habit of sleeping in. They got up early. Han Zheng was reading a book, Han Jun was boxing, Han Miao was exercising on the treadmill, and Yan Qingxiu was sitting in the room meditating.
Li Ao knocked on the door and Han Miao went to open it.
Seeing Li Ao standing outside the door, Han Miao asked him, “Uncle Li, breakfast is ready?”
Li Ao nodded.
“We’ll be right there.”
Han Miao returned to the house and called Han Jun and the rest to the house next door.
Li Li waited for everyone to arrive before carrying the five plates of noodles to the dining table. Not only that, he also made chives, cucumbers, and fish porridge.
Smelling the fragrance of the onion oil noodles, Han Miao said to Li Li, “Uncle Li, you actually know how to make onion oil noodles. You’re so awesome! Even my father doesn’t know how to make this!”
Li Li took off his apron and instinctively said, “This is nothing. I also know how to make spicy and sour noodles. I will treat you guys next time.”
“Thank you, Uncle Li.”
Han Miao was usually noisy, but when she came to other people’s house to eat, she was very polite. Her sitting posture was very upright and there was no sound when she ate. It was obvious that she had learned dining etiquette.
The way the three siblings ate was the same as Yan Qingxiu. It looked like they had learned from him.
After dinner, Han Miao and the rest had to return to Imperial Dragon Mountain. Han Jun went back to her room to pack her homework. Han Zheng disliked the taste in his mouth and went back to his room to brush his teeth.
Han Miao was also about to return to the house when Li Ao grabbed her hand.
Han Miao looked up at Li Ao in surprise and asked him, “What are you doing?”
The beautiful young man didn’t know how to speak.
He held Han Miao’s hand and entered his bedroom.
This was the first time Han Miao entered Li Ao’s bedroom. The boy’s room was very simple. The American-style solid wooden bed looked slightly retro. The pure white bedsheets were stacked neatly and clean. It could be seen that Li Ao was a child who liked to be clean.
Li Ao sat Han Miao down on the bed.
It was the first time Han Miao sat on a boy’s bed other than Han Zheng and she felt very embarrassed. She moved her butt on the bed and saw Li Ao open the drawer and take out a yellow medicine box.
The medicine box was still sealed. It was brand new.
Li Ao opened the box and took out a small white medicine bottle. He walked to the bed and squatted down. Li Ao put down the medicine bottle, grabbed Han Miao’s left leg, and was about to take off her boots.
Han Miao was shocked. She instinctively retracted her feet and asked Li Ao warily, “What are you doing!”
Li Ao pointed at her thigh and looked at her deeply.
Han Miao probed. “You want to apply medicine for me?”
Li Ao nodded.
Han Miao heaved a sigh of relief. She said, “Give me that medicine and I’ll apply it myself.” Although she was fat and thick-skinned, she was actually quite thin-skinned.
She couldn’t accept letting a boy apply medicine and massage her legs.
It was too flirtatious.
Li Ao didn’t seem to hear her. He grabbed Han Miao’s feet again, quickly took off her flat boots, rolled up her cashmere jeans, and revealed her injured calf.
The young girl’s legs were very fleshy. They were not very fat, but they were soft when pinched. This was also the first time Li Ao did this to a girl. He was so embarrassed that his ears turned slightly red.
He stared at that scar and his charming thoughts quickly calmed down.
He hurt Han Miao last night.
Li Ao’s eyes became filled with self-reproach. He sprayed the medicine on Han Miao’s thigh and rubbed the wound gently with his warm palm.
Han Miao didn’t resist this time. She felt that Li Ao was a little stubborn. Whatever he wanted to do, he had to achieve his goal. Otherwise, he wouldn’t stop.
Han Miao couldn’t persuade him.
It hurt a little to be massaged. Han Miao stared at Li Ao’s face, trying to distract herself. She realized that Li Ao’s ears were red and pinched them cheaply.
Li Ao’s ears were pinched and he looked up at her strangely.
Han Miao blushed and hurriedly retracted her hand. Her eyes were darting around as she explained randomly. “I see that your ears are very red. You look like you have a fever.”
Han Miao reached out and casually pointed at the drawer. “You have a thermometer at home. I think you should measure your temperature. You might have a low fever.”
Li Ao lowered his head again.
He very patiently continued to massage for two minutes. Only after Han Miao’s body finished washing her hands with the ointment did Li Ao put down her pants.
Li Ao took the shoes and planned to put them on for Han Miao. Han Miao hurriedly snatched the shoes back and put them on herself. As she put them on, she said, “I’m not a little kid. I don’t need someone to put my shoes on for me.”
Li Ao didn’t say anything this time.
He put the medicine back into the medicine box and stuffed it into Han Miao’s pocket.
Han Miao knew that Li Ao was thanking her for last night.
This kid still had a conscience.
“Alright, I’ll take the medicine. Let’s go. Happy New Year’s Day!” Han Miao waved coolly, opened the door, and walked out.
After she left, Li Ao looked down at his own body with a strange expression.
After standing there for a moment, Li Ao entered the toilet.
After a long while, Li Ao walked out of the toilet with a red face. He went to the art room and sat in front of the easel for a while before opening a box of crayons and drawing a leg on the canvas.
That leg was not very slender and even slightly fat.
After painting, he put down his pen and stared at that leg in a daze.