Since they met only once a month, they didn’t really contact each other outside of that. So even if he felt something, it was very light.
Cao Yang hadn’t actually developed any special feelings for Wang Man.
The reason he was considering her as a partner for marriage was just as Cao Xiong had said: Wang Man was the best choice in their social circle. If he were to marry, surely he wouldn’t pass up this opportunity and find another woman that couldn’t compare.
With this attitude, he kept in touch with her. Of course he admitted she was indeed excellent, but… Cao Yang knew inside that there wasn’t that spark between them that should be between a man and a woman.
He also didn’t like it when women were too arrogant.
He was like his father: slightly chauvinistic. Compared to a woman exuding arrogance, he preferred obedience.
When he heard the hinting from Wang Man, he started to feel a little annoyed at their relationship, which had remained lukewarm.
He drew on his cigarette and thought deeply. He already had plans for Saturday, but he had time on Sunday.
“Sorry, I have plans this weekend. Let’s meet again when you return next time.”
On the other end of the phone, Wang Man was surprised.
But her reaction was immediate, an appropriate response coming out of her, “Alright. Next time, then.”
After she hung up, Wang Man stared at the screen that had gone dark. She let out a sigh. She wanted to wrap up this county job quickly and transfer back to the capital.
When Cao Yang returned home, he realized it was only his father and fourth brother who joined him at the table again.
“Where is Xiao Rou?” he asked. Translated by The Novelst
“She went out with her classmates, she’s going to be back late. They went to the night market,” replied Cao An.
The capital’s night market was very popular, and the event went as late as three in the morning on the weekend. And coincidentally, it was Friday.
This little girl! She was really going crazy with her free time in the last few days!
“It’s a good time for her to relax,” Cao Xiong said, unbothered. “She worked so hard this year.”
Cao Yang let out a soft hmmph.
After he finished dinner, he watched a movie alone. Looking at the time, it was already 9 o’clock.
He called the guards at the entrance, learning that Xia Rou still hadn’t returned.
Cao Yang called her phone.
“Hello, big brother!” Her surroundings seemed to be very noisy, so Xia Rou shouted.
“When are you coming back?” he asked.
“It’s still early! W-We’re going for another round!” Xia Rou said, laughing.
Cao Yang heard her words wobble, and his voice turned deep: “You’re drinking?”
Xia Rou was still naturally in awe toward Cao Yang, having faced him in two lives. Even if her mood was still high from the drink, she was still a little surprised: “J-Just a little beer…”
“Who are you with?” he asked.
“H-Half our class is all here together,” she said, quickly adding: “Don’t worry, we’ve planned it all out. After this the boys will be taking us girls home.”
Somehow Cao Yang was inexplicably angry.
“Is Zhang Jinglun there?”
“Yes, he’s here,” Xia Rou responded.
“Put him on the phone!”
He heard the phone pick up noise as it was jostled, background music blaring, and very soon a boy’s voice sounded on the other end: “Brother Cao Yang!”
He was familiar with this kid, from the same class as Xia Rou.
His voice was level. It didn’t sound like he had rank a lot.
Cao Yang said, “Xiao Lun, look after Xia Rou. Don’t let her drink more, and send her home when you guys are done!”
His tone was very firm. Zhang Jinglun promised him carefully, “Alright, alright! Don’t worry, I’ll do that.”
He pulled the phone to his side after that, thinking they were done, but Cao Yang remained with the phone pressed up against his ear.
Barely discernible amongst the other noise, he could hear a boy speaking to Xia Rou: “Stop drinking, Brother Cao Yang said you have to stop.” Then the little girl had the gall to mumble, “It’s just a little beer. He can’t even see it anyway…” and then the call ended.
Cao Yang almost laughed in anger.
After completing her national exam, she had really spread her wings now, hadn’t she?
Just wait till she got home!
He waited until half past eleven and Xia Rou still hadn’t returned.
Cao Yang’s face turned darker and darker.
Xia Rou rarely went out and partied hard. In the past, when she went shopping with her classmates, she would call ahead to the house to let them know in advance if she couldn’t make it to dinner. It wasn’t a big deal then, so Cao Yang hadn’t set a curfew.
It looked like he would need to set one in the future, thought Cao Yang, gritting his teeth.
He called them twice, but nobody answered. So he called again and went straight to voicemail.
At that time, Cao Yang wasn’t angry any longer. He was worried.
This was beyond the scope of a brother’s responsibility – he felt like he knew the feeling of being a father!
Cao Yang knew a few of Xia Rou’s classmates – but they were all still kids. Cao Yang had the numbers of their older siblings, or even their parents, but he didn’t call them.
He looked at his watch. It was already a quarter to twelve… Just as he was thinking of calling Zhang Jinglun’s father to get his number, the guard opened the entrance gate to a taxi.
Xia Rou had returned. Translated by The Novelst
The taxi drove to the main doors of the house.
Cao Yang stood at the door, holding his cigarette.
Zhang Jinglun got out of the car from the passenger seat first. When he saw Cao Yang, he said, “Brother Cao Yang.” Then he carefully explained, “Umm… Xia Rou, she… drank a little more after that.”
“I couldn’t stop her. She was very happy and insisted on drinking,” he said, trying to excuse himself with a bitter face.
Looking at Cao Yang who only nodded, he went to open the backseat door, bending down to pull Xia Rou out and supporting her from the car.
“Big brother!” Xia Rou smiled joyfully, opening her arms wide and hugging him. “I’m back!”
At least she wasn’t so drunk she couldn’t stand, but it was obvious that she was still very drunk. She probably didn’t know what her surname was at this point.
Cao Yang grabbed her arms, trying to pull her away from him, exchanging a few pleasantries with Zhang Jinglun and watching as the taxi drove away.
Proofread by: Hannah