I woke up the next morning feeling groggy. The man beside me had disappeared, but I could still vaguely feel the iciness from the crumpled bedsheet beside me.
Thinking back to what had happened in the bathroom and on the bed last night, my face reddened!
I gritted my teeth and was about to get out of bed, only to find that my waist felt as if it was about to break. Pulling down the comforter that was tightly wrapped around me, my eyes suddenly widened in shock. On my pale skin were several bruises and scratch marks!
I struggled towards the mirror and almost screamed at the sight of my reflection! The hickeys on my neck were extremely obvious. I was mad to the point that I wanted to hammer that man a thousand times! I wouldn’t have felt so mad if it had been winter, but to have hickeys on my neck in summer, how was I supposed to leave my house?
The anger in me boiled and my heart went on to repeatedly curse that perverted demon.
Somewhere in the other world, the man suddenly sneezed while dealing some matters on his end.
“Ah, it must be my Hua’er thinking about me.” Feeling positive, he held the ink brush in his hand and continued to write.
While I was fuming and coming up with ways to cover the hickeys on my neck, a phone call suddenly came.
“Xiao Hua, I’m going to my grandpa’s shop today; do you want to tag along?” It was An Ning. The moment I heard she was going to her grandfather’s shop, I immediately thought of that gloomy shroud shop. My heart instinctively felt very uncomfortable and wanted to reject the invitation.
However, recalling Grandpa An’s kindness and the thought of An Ning, I ended up accepting the invitation and hurriedly went to put on my clothes. From inside the closet, I found a dark and thick scarf and wrapped it around my neck.
When I ran down the flight of stairs, An Ning had already been waiting for me in the shade.
Seeing me rushing down the stairs in a hurry, her face turned pale and she quickly ran up to lend me her shoulder. “Ma’am ah, you’re pregnant! You shouldn’t engage in any intense exercise.”
After listening to her, I felt a little embarrassed but patted my belly confidently. “Relax, the little guy in here isn’t weak.”
Thereafter, I whispered closely into her ear, “You definitely cannot tell anyone else about this; especially my mom and dad! They aren’t young anymore; their hearts might not be able to accept it.”
An Ning gestured to me that my secret would be safe with her and vouched, “Even if I do tell, no one will believe me, so why bother even saying?”
After vouching, she eyed the scarf on my neck and her eyebrow raised. Boggled, her face came closer to my scarf.
“Wearing a scarf in such a hot summer, don't you feel hot?”
I feigned ignorance and gave an awkward laugh as I turned to head in the direction of Grandpa An’s shop. “Aren’t we going to the shroud shop? We shouldn’t keep Grandpa An waiting.”
“Wait!” An Ning grabbed my shoulder with one hand and her other swiftly snatched the scarf off my neck. Because it had happened all too quickly, I was not given a chance to react.
Thereafter…the hickeys on my neck were entirely visible to her!
I could clearly see An Ning blush the moment she saw my neck. Her hands fumbled as she rushed to cover up the hickeys on my neck with the scarf before dragging me out of my residential area.
However, soon after a taking a few steps, the bashfulness in her heart vanished without a trace. She turned around and smiled slyly. “Oh my Xiaohua, to think that you’ve had such an intense night yesterday! Yí, even I feel a little envious of you; Xiaohua, you sure are lucky ah.”
“Envious my foot!” The thought of what happened last night made my blood boil.
To had done such a thing with a demon, that in itself deserved no jealousy.
“Still, seeing you in such a state, I no longer doubt the conversation we had in grandpa’s shop. On that day in the shroud shop, grandpa also reminded me not to pry any deeper.”
Suddenly, I recalled that Grandpa An had wanted An Ning to bring me along with her to the shop. Puzzled, I asked, “Why does your grandpa want us to head to his shop today?”
“I don’t know. He said it was best if you go there and see for yourself.”
I nodded while listening. Together, we hailed a taxi and left for the shroud shop.
The shop still remained familiar, yet depressing at the same time. In the shop, a white-haired old man stood next to a coffin, measuring something inside it with the measuring tape in his hands.
We were clueless as to what he was doing that for.
“Grandpa An.” I greeted as soon as we had entered the shop. Grandpa An turned his head and inspected me again from head to toe. I could clearly see the movement of his chest, as if he was exhaling deeply.
Before An Ning’s mouth could open her mouth to speak, Grandpa An placed the measuring tape down and gestured us with his hands.
“Come over here.”
An Ning and I approached him and my eyes peered into the coffin. There, inside the coffin was a face which I was very familiar with!
“Xiao Huan!” I screamed. Why was he here?
I seemed to have heard An Ning explain that in this shroud shop, the corpse must be placed in the shop for a while to provide ample time for Grandpa An to sew a suitable shroud.
Wasn’t this a little too well-timed? To have met the body of the dead Xiao Huan, I couldn’t help but remember Xiao Huan’s apparition that I met in the cafe. Presumably, his apparition must have arrived at the place where he now belonged.
“You know him?”
Hearing the loud scream from me, An Ning questioned.
“Ēn.” I nodded. “At the cafe where I worked part-time in. He was my colleague.”
Grandpa An suddenly turned around and gave me a grave look. “Last night, something must have happened, am I right?”
For Grandpa An to have such an intuition, I was surprised. But I felt somewhat relieved after recalling that he was an Eclipser.
I proceed to talk about the strange phone call I had received and the encounter I had in the cafe. Hearing this, Grandpa An’s face turned pale and he sighed.
“No wonder. Before, I was not able to make a suitable shroud for this young man here. In fact, I could feel that his spirit had not returned to the other side yet.”