Running Away Hand in Hand with the Second Female Lead - 24
- Running Away Hand in Hand with the Second Female Lead
- 24 - Jiang Chen’s Matter – I Hope You Never Forget It
Zuo Yanzhen froze. She had no idea when her daughter became so close to this girl, but she was indeed the one who drove her home, after all. Thus, she didn’t say another word.
Qin Haotian and Qin Julai were natural conversationalists. With their friendly praises and teasing, the meal was a warm and joyous experience.
Right when they finished eating, Qin Haotian received a phone call before he even had a chance to place his chopsticks down. He glanced at his phone screen, then walked outside to take the call, not returning until a while later.
In the meantime, Qin Juran and the others helped to tidy up the dishes and utensils. Qin Juran walked out of the kitchen to find Qin Haotian wearing a strange expression on his face. She walked up to him and asked, “What’s wrong, Dad?”
Qin Haotian quickly tucked his phone away: “Nothing, nothing.”
Qin Juran frowned: “I talked to you about all my problems, but now you won’t tell me when you have a problem?”
Noticing her concerned manner, Ruan Nan and Qin Julai looked over towards them. Qin Haotian replied in a derisive tone, “It’s not a big deal. Earlier the health inspector came for a check, but he said that our design and hygiene didn’t meet the requirements. We’ve already made so many changes before, but it’s still no good. So, our current permit is about to expire soon, and they won’t grant us a new one.”
Although he said it wasn’t a big deal, his deep-set frown revealed an unconcealable uneasiness.
Health and hygiene were the most basic standards for the foodservice industry. Qin Juran assessed JuJu Tavern as a whole. Asides from some tiny details, there didn’t seem to be any issues with the interior design. Moreover, Qin Haotian and his wife were both clean people, so good hygiene wasn’t even a question.
“You said that you’ve made many changes and it still didn’t work?” Qin Juran asked.
Qin Haotian nodded.
“It is really a design and hygiene issue?”
Every industry has its superiors, each with their designated duties. As such, in this realm of duties, there are often both spoken and unspoken regulations.
As Qin Juran said this, the implicit meaning behind her words was obvious. Zuo Yanzhen rushed over: “Ranran, you kids don’t need to worry about this. Why don’t you bring your friend upstairs to get some rest?”
Before Qin Juran could reply, Ruan Nan pardoned herself to go outside to make a call.
Two minutes later, Ruan Nan returned and walked straight towards Qin Haotian: “Uncle, I explained your family’s situation to a friend of mine. He said that you can receive a new permit by this afternoon.”
Ruan Nan’s voice came out so calmly that she might as well have been talking about tomorrow’s lunch. Qin Haotian froze for a long moment, then his brows shot up: “Wait, Nannan, you’re joking with Uncle, right?”
Ruan Nan let out a polite laugh, shaking her head.
“No way, this–” Qin Haotian and Zuo Yanzhen shared a quick glance, then looked towards Qin Juran, expressions of pure disbelief plastered on their faces the entire time. “Such a large matter – and you were able to take care of it with a single phone call?”
Ruan Nan looked at their shocked expressions and couldn’t help stifling a laugh. She turned her head in Qin Juran’s direction and nodded.
Qin Juran also laughed in return. She explained to her parents, “Dad, Mom, since Nannan said it worked out, there shouldn’t be any issues anymore. We’ll go retrieve the permit later.”
Qin Haotian let out another stream of gratitude, even offering to prepare another full course meal to express his thanks. Qin Juran quickly waved him away and led Ruan Nan upstairs.
Once they made their way up, Qin Juran asked, “Which friend—did you have to put yourself in debt to someone?”
Ruan Nan shook her head. “Zhou Ziqing’s dad.”
Qin Juran let out a breath. Within that circle of theirs, there was no such thing as favors and debts.
As such, Qin Juran glanced towards the large bed, then walked towards Ruan Nan and squat down obediently before her: “Then, since you did such a nice favor for this older sister, older sister is in your debt now, right?”
The afternoon sunshine was especially warm, glowing upon the outline of Qin Juran’s fine, charming face.
Ruan Nan sat down on the chair, unbothered by her stunt. She reached out and hooked a finger under Qin Juran’s chin: “And how do you plan on paying it back?”
“Just like last night. Is that alright with you, Ah-Ruan?”
This was the first time that someone called her Ah-Ruan. Ruan Nan raised an eyebrow: “People usually call me by Nannan or Ah-Nan.”
Qin Juran inched forward, her gaze sweeping over Ruan Nan’s chest area. She winked flirtatiously: “That’s because they don’t know how soft you are~” 1
“Qin Juran!” Feeling that she fell right into her trap, Ruan Nan jumped to her feet. At the same time, Qin Juran also stood up; in their close proximity, their chests rammed right into each other.
Ruan Nan stepped backward in a daze. Meanwhile, Qin Juran seemed thoughtful, nodding her head, “Very soft, indeed. The evidence is irrefutable.”
The two of them waited until 5 p.m. for Zhou Ziqing’s call. Ruan Nan asked Qin Juran for a laundry bag and placed all her clothes and underwear from yesterday inside, making a point that she would not be staying over for another night.
Qin Juran didn’t insist any further. It wasn’t reasonable for Ruan Nan to stay over for another week. As long as she stayed with Zhou Ziqing or the others, then she needn’t worry; all of their villas would have spare guest rooms just for her.
There was one last perk that came out of this ordeal: the two finally friended each other on WeChat.
Qin Juran tried to sneakily peek to see what Ruan Nan named her as, but Ruan Nan deftly hid her screen.
Noticing her guarded manner, Qin Juran raised her brows: “What are you worried of? Did you give me an embarrassing nickname?”
Refusing to give in to her provocations, Ruan Nan jutted her chin: “What did you put me down as?”
Without hesitation, Qin Juran held her phone to Ruan Nan’s face. On the screen, there was only a single word: “Mine.”
It was exactly the same as the word she’d written on that list of dreams by the corner of her desk. Moreover, she had already changed and saved the name in her phone.
Ruan Nan blushed. She thought of her own profile saved as “Vixen” and sheepishly tucked her phone into her pocket.
Before they left, Qin Juran went to open the window. Hanging by the window was a lavender dreamcatcher; as the gentle breeze blew from the window, soft bell chimes accompanied the sunlight to fill the room.
Qin Juran stared at the sunshine, squinting her eyes: “Ah-Ruan, do you think that one morning you’ll wake up atop of your 150 square-meter bed and think back to how we spent our first night together on this tiny bed in a small attic room?”
Her voice was filled with a sense of contemplation, as well as a hint of dejection. It was as if last night was a dream that she could never attain again.
The light and shadow illuminated Qin Juran’s silhouette as she stood by the window. Something about her slender figure and graceful face made the girl appear especially alluring.
Ruan Nan stopped what she was doing and only murmured softly in affirmation.
Qin Juran regretfully shrugged, then seemed to come up with a solution: “No matter. In the future, we’ll have plenty more days and nights.
They didn’t take the bike, instead calling a cab to go directly to the KTV so Ruan Nan could retrieve her car. She looked at the location that Zhou Ziqing sent and saw that it was a well-known villa-style restaurant in A District.
Ruan Nan knew of this place. They drove up the mountain that the restaurant was built upon. Since the place was rather upscale, there were only a few cars coming to and from. As they approached the restaurant parking lot and Ruan Nan found a place to park, Qin Juran glanced around and noticed that the most low-end car in sight was a Mercedes.
Once she parked, Ruan Nan sent a WeChat message to Zhou Ziqing. As she rolled down her window, she asked, “Tonight is the Class 21 and 22 reunion – it’s right here. Did you know about it?”
Qin Juran shook her head: “I’m not really interested. You?”
Ruan Nan also shook her head indifferently.
For some reason, Qin Juran felt that Ruan Nan purposely avoided this topic. Maybe she didn’t like high school or maybe she didn’t like reunions, but the subject brought about a sudden coldness in her expression, and her entire body seemed to put up a serious and alienated façade.
After a while, there was a honk from behind them. Qin Juran peered into the rearview mirror to see a black BMW 7 Series parked behind them. Out came a few people who seemed to be of the same age as them, and in the driver’s seat sat Zhou Ziqing.
Ruan Nan opened her door and Qin Juran followed suit. As one of the young men got out, he yelped in a strange tone, as if he’d seen a ghost. He turned and shouted towards the other two guys: “Wait, wait, wait – am I seeing things or did Qin Juran just get out from Sister Nan’s car?”
The other two also walked over, the same expressions of disbelief plastered on their faces as they looked back and forth from Qin Juran to Ruan Nan.
Ignoring them, Ruan Nan walked straight up to Zhou Ziqing: “Is it done?”
Zhou Ziqing handed her an envelope, flashing a distrustful look at Qin Juran: “JuJu Tavern is her family’s?”
Ruan Nan grunted in response, reaching out to take the envelope: “Thanks.”
Whether or not Qin Juran noticed Zhou Ziqing’s dark expression, she also unabashedly walked towards him to thank him.
Zhou Ziqing frowned at her: “You don’t need to thank me. Or Sister Nan, for that matter. Since I owed you for not picking up my phone last night, this is just me returning the favor in Sister Nan’s place.”
Before the three could say anything, another car pulled up behind them, seeing that they were all gathered there. An elaborately dressed female student stepped out, and shouted upon seeing them: “Brother Hui! Big Mouse!”
The two guys from Zhou Ziqing’s car whipped their heads around, then exclaimed, “Hey, hey! If it isn’t the gang leader beauty of Class 21! It’s been at least three years since we saw you, huh?”
The female student ran over to them and enveloped them in a hug. She laughed, “There’s usually never any time to meet up! Who would’ve thought that we’d end up meeting at the National Day reunion? We gotta catch up on drinks once we’re inside.”
As the seven or eight high school companions were reunited, the atmosphere immediately livened with a sense of youth and friendliness. Once the female student broke out of her hug with the so-called Brother Hui and Big Mouse, she turned her head and noticed the person beside Zhou Ziqing. She froze in her step, her jaw dropping: “No way, I am seeing this right? Sister Nan?!”
Her face suddenly turned apologetic. She opened her arms wide and walked up to Ruan Nan: “Sister Nan, I haven’t seen you in three years!”
Ruan Nan took a step backward but was unable to avoid her enthusiastic embrace.
Although she had guessed that this was simply the girl’s preferred form of greeting, Qin Juran’s face fell at the sight.
Ruan Nan glanced at Qin Juran. She calmly pushed the girl away and nodded her head: “It’s been a while.”
The female student didn’t waver, beaming at Ruan Nan: “Your lipstick today is very pretty, Sister Nan.”
Wang Hui mocked from beside her: “Hey, tone it down a bit. Even after three years of kissing up in high school, Sister Nan didn’t bother playing with you, and she’s still not going to now. I think you have a better chance at seducing Zhou Ziqing instead – look at this new BMW 7 Series he just got.”
Laughter erupted from the group around them. The female student carefreely hooked her arms around Ruan Nan’s neck: “She didn’t want to play before, but why not now? Sister Nan even came to the reunion today, this is a big step!”
“Get your hands off of her.” An icy voice pierced the group’s laughter.
Since Qin Juran had been standing in the shade, no one had noticed her since the female student’s boisterous arrival. The girl’s face betrayed even more shock than when she’d seen Ruan Nan: “QIN JURAN?!”
All eyes landed upon Qin Juran, the lively atmosphere immediately simmering down.
Qin Juran stared at her coolly, her silence seeming to convey a threat.
The girl appeared slightly unnerved by her glare, but she looked around at the group and remained firm: “What did you say?”
“She doesn’t want to be held on by you like that.”
The girl paused, looking at Ruan Nan: “Sister Nan, are you hearing what she’s saying? I can’t believe –”
“I really don’t like these offensive gestures.”
The girl sheepishly let go of her neck. She looked around at the group, then burst out: “No way, what’s going on? How come I didn’t hear that they were going to be coming to the reunion today?”
Zhou Ziqing coughed: “Sister Nan came to pick something up from me. She just happened to run into you guys here.”
“What about you?” The girl jutted her chin at Qin Juran: “What’s the campus flower doing at our tacky reunion? I’m sure there isn’t anyone in the Class 22 who’d want to invite you either.”
Wang Hui gave her a look. “The campus flower Qin came with Sister Nan. I guess they were just passing by.”
The female student stared at Qin Juran, then at Ruan Nan. She seemed uninterested in figuring out the nature of their relationship, especially after being called out by Ruan Nan just then. Without another word, she flicked her hair and walked towards the restaurant.
The large restaurant’s waiters, dressed in Western-style uniforms, held the doors open for them. As the others began to follow, Zhou Ziqing asked Ruan Nan if she was coming along, to which she replied with a shake of her head. She turned to leave when she heard the female student suddenly halt and call out from behind her: “Ruan Nan.”
Ruan Nan paused in her step, while Qin Juran also looked over. The girl spoke calmly, “I don’t care what kind of relationship you have with Qin Juran, or why she was in your car.”
“Jiang Chen’s matter – I hope you never forget it.”