It was the weekend, and neither of them had to go to work today.
Guan Xi had been sitting in the living room since early in the morning, watching variety shows when Jiang Suizhou came out of the bathroom. He was a bit surprised since Guan Xi would usually leave his place early in the morning after staying the night at his place. She would not linger around like this.
However, his surprise was only momentary, as they had always respected each other's space and didn't pry into each other's affairs. So, after having his breakfast, he went about his own business in the study.
Guan Xi remained in the living room throughout the morning. During that time, her father, Guan Xinghao, called her, but she didn't answer.
When it was approaching noon, she took a deep breath, got up from the couch, and went to the dressing room to do her makeup.
Today, the housekeeper had prepared lunch. After Jiang Suizhou finished his work and came out, he noticed that the living room was clear of everything except for the extravagant items left from the night before.
"Did Guan Xi leave?" he asked.
The housekeeper pointed towards the dressing room, "Miss Guan is in there doing her makeup."
Jiang Suizhou acknowledged with a simple En and walked towards the dressing room. However, when he reached the doorway, he stopped in his tracks. He saw Guan Xi applying dark red lipstick, which, when paired with her particularly fierce makeup today, made her look like she was about to kill someone.
"Aren't you having lunch?" he asked.
Guan Xi put the lipstick back into her bag and stood up, "My father asked me to come home."
"Oh, do you need a ride?"
He was just being polite.
Guan Xi understood it well, but she decided not to retort or speak in a sarcastic manner this time. She just said a "No, thanks" and then left the room.
It seems Salted Fish* Guan is in a bad mood, Jiang Suizhou thought.
She probably caused some trouble outside and had to go home to face the music again.
He couldn't really think of any other real difficulties for Guan Xi in her life.
"Sir, how should I handle these things?" the housekeeper asked, referring to the extravagant scene in the living room.
Today, when she arrived and saw the unusual decorations, she was a bit surprised, but since the master didn't say anything, she didn't dare to tidy up.
Jiang Suizhou didn't respond immediately. Instead, he reached for one of the gift boxes. It had [Age 1] written on it. He opened it and found a golden pacifier inside.
Using a gold-plated pacifier for an infant was like cursing them for a lifetime.
Jiang Suizhou smiled and said to the housekeeper, "Put these gift boxes in my study, and clean up the rest."
On the way back from Jiang Suizhou's house to her own, Guan Xi was tense the whole time.
They had agreed on a two-month buffer period, yet after only one month, they had brought her back. This showed how much they missed her.
She didn't want to go back, but she knew there was no escaping it.
She felt upset, but she couldn't vent her anger.
Just like what Lang Ningyi had said, she was just a supporting character now. She had no right to get angry. If anyone else knew about this situation, she would be seen as a sparrow trying to turn into a phoenix*.
When she reached her home's entrance, Guan Xi parked the car.
On her way from the entrance to the living room, she didn't see the usual housemaids. It seemed they were kept away temporarily to maintain secrecy. The only person left was Auntie Zhen, who had raised her since she was a child. Auntie Zhen saw her and gently touched her arm, "Go on in; they are in the living room."
Auntie Zhen had a deep emotional connection with her, so she felt sympathy for her situation.
Guan Xi straightened her back even more. Why would anyone feel sympathy for her? She didn't want sympathy!
"Xi Xi, you're back!" When she reached the living room, she saw her parents and that girl. Guan Xinghao stood up as he saw her approaching. His expression was somewhat awkward, but he still maintained his friendly smile, "Xi Xi, this is Guan Ying. She'll be your older sister from now on."
Guan Xi looked at the girl sitting next to her mother for the first time. She was wearing jeans, a short top, and had a plain, shy smile. She was fairly attractive.
"Sister," the girl greeted Guan Xi with a low voice.
Guan Xi felt goosebumps all over her body. The sense of reality hit her in the face. It was as if she had entered a parallel world where everything was unfamiliar. In a moment, everything she had learned about securing her position, pleasing her parents, to competing intelligently with the new Miss Guan, all shattered because of that one simple word, sister.
What the hell... what should she do next?
Guan Xinghao probably noticed her awkwardness and, to ease the tension, invited everyone to have lunch.
The dishes were steaming hot, and their dining table, which used to seat only three people, now had one more.
"What have you been doing these past few days? You haven't been home," Guan Xinghao brought up a topic.
Guan Xi noticed that her father was directing the question at her and replied, "I didn't do anything special, just spent time with Jiang Suizhou."
Guan Xinghao asked, "In that case, why didn't you bring Suizhou home for a meal? Dad hasn't seen him in a long time. Are you two doing well recently?"
Guan Xinghao deliberately raised this topic to chat with her. Guan Xi knew he just wanted to express his concern and care for her.
She understood all of this, but precisely because she understood, she felt even sadder.
"It's been quite good," Guan Xi said, pretending to be calm. "I'll tell him to come over for dinner at our place next time."
Guan Xinghao replied, "That sounds good."
"Ying Ying, do you have a boyfriend?" Wei Shaomin, who had been keeping in touch with her biological daughter for over a month, suddenly remembered to ask this question.
Guan Ying shook her head, "Not yet."
"In that case, Mom can help you look for one in the future."
Guan Ying felt a little embarrassed and said, "It's not necessary."
"What's the big deal? You're a bit older than Xi Xi," Wei Shaomin said with a sad expression on her face. "It's been so many years... Mom owes you too much."
Guan Xi sat with her head down, eating her food and listening to their conversation without saying a word.
She had already been informed of all the details about Guan Ying's past.
When Guan Ying was just two months old, the mentally unstable nanny who had been taking care of her took her away and threw herself into a river to commit suicide. The child's body was never found, only the clothing she was wearing was discovered downstream. So everyone believed Guan Ying had died.
However, that nanny still had some sanity left and later regretted her actions, deciding not to take the baby with her before she died, instead handing the child over to someone else. Later, the baby was sold privately to a place far away from the capital.
Wei Shaomin's health was already fragile, and after her first pregnancy, she couldn't conceive again. She believed that her child had died, which caused her immense sorrow and distress. This situation led to her receiving treatment abroad.
A year later, in an attempt to comfort Wei Shaomin, Guan Xinghao visited an orphanage and adopted Guan Xi into their family. In the following years, they lived abroad, and upon returning to China, Guan Xi was already eight or nine years old.
The passage of time and years had blurred the memories, and the past was almost forgotten by everyone. Very few knew about Wei Shaomin's inability to conceive another child. So Guan Xinghao simply told people that they were fortunate because Wei Shaomin had become pregnant again during her treatment, leading to the birth of their second daughter.
No one doubted it.
The truth about this matter was only known to her maternal and paternal grandparents.
Guan Xi had no memory of these events, which led to her mother's relatively cold treatment of her. She had always thought that her mother just had that kind of personality. In her daily life, she dared to be noisy in front of her father but was reserved in front of her mother. She even tried to please her mother to gain her love and attention, both openly and secretly.
However, it was all in vain. Her mother had never spoken to her in such a tone before.
Guan Xi's head buzzed with jealousy and envy, but she knew that she was the last person who had the right to feel this way.
After dinner, Guan Xi went upstairs to her room.
In the evening, Guan Xinghao knocked on her bedroom door. This was the first time they were facing each other calmly since their last conversation.
"Dad, if you have something to say, go ahead," Guan Xi didn't want to beat around the bush.
Guan Xinghao seemed hesitant, "Dad promised you that we would wait for two more months before bringing Ying Ying back, but now..."
"She'll have to come back sooner or later," Guan Xi said, "She is your daughter; her return is inevitable."
"You are my daughter too," Guan Xinghao replied, "Xi Xi, don't overthink it."
But she knew better; she, their daughter, was different was Guan Ying, who was their biological daughter.
Guan Xi's eyes welled up with tears. She loved her parents very much, deeply.
She nodded, "Alright."
"Guan Ying has suffered a lot; we owe her a lot."
Guan Xinghao saw her nod and breathed a sigh of relief, "Dad is very happy that you accepted it so quickly. In the future, treat her as if you've gained a sister. Get along with her. Take care of each other. She has a lot to learn, and you can help her."
Guan Xi smiled at her father and said, "I understand."
For the first time, Guan Xi, who had been capricious to the point of being unbearable since childhood, truly exhibited restraint.
Lan Ningyi said that in the early stages of that novel, when the female protagonist, who had been lost for a long time, returns, she would always be cautious, somewhat timid, and would often feel like she couldn't blend into this magnificent world.
Guan Xi had no doubt about Lan Ningyi's analysis.
Because Guan Ying was indeed like that—introverted, timid, and spoke softly. Her obedient appearance made Guan Xi, who had thought she would have to secretly contend with her in hundreds of scenes, give up her malicious plans.
Recently, Wei Shaomin and Guan Xinghao had been mostly staying at home to keep Guan Ying company. To avoid making her parents uncomfortable and to prevent herself from having to act out a deep sisterly love scene with Guan Ying, Guan Xi went to the company during the day and only returned home in the evening to eat and sleep.
These past few days, Guan Xi's attendance and time spent at the office had made all the employees, who were unaware of the situation, secretly amazed: Miss Guan is back in the limelight!
On this day, when it was time to leave the office, Guan Xi dawdled around before returning home.
Upon entering the house, she heard laughter in the distance. When she walked into the living room, she didn't see anyone. Following the sound, she went towards the kitchen, and to her surprise, she found the family of three gathered around, making dumplings.
Her mother was a clean freak and never entered the kitchen. Her father was busy and didn't know how to cook.
It was the first time Guan Xi had seen both her parents in the kitchen. They were awkwardly folding dumplings by Guan Ying's side. After they finished, they happily showed the dumplings to Guan Ying, who quietly told them that they had done much better than the previous ones.
A heartwarming yet, for Guan Xi, an alien scene.
She didn't know how to react. If she went upstairs, it would make her seem out of place. If she went over to join them, it would make her feel awkward.
And so, by the time she came to her senses, she had already gone back out the door, started her car, and driven away.
It was almost as if she was running away.
T/N: Hi, everyone! I'm not sure how many of you are following this project. I just want to announce the release schedule of Come To My Side. From this chapter onwards, I will release at least 1 chapter every Friday. Occasionally, when I have more free time, I might release 2 chapters every Friday.
That's all from my end. Thank you for reading!