“Consultation fee? What are you talking about?”
Ling Yun was lying in bed in her skimpy pajamas, which completely showed her graceful figure. Hearing the busy signal, she roared in anger, “The little girl got a nerve to hang up my phone?”
“Yunyun, what are you shouting about?”
Chu Yunxiu, Ling Yun’s mother, walked in with the groceries she had just brought and asked quizzically.
Despite in her forties, Chu Yunxiu looked like around thirty years old due to good maintenance and 70 percent similar to Ling Yun.
Upright boobs, slender waist, cute butt, white skin and pretty appearance, all of these made her glow with the charm of a mature lady. She was the favorite type of those who had a partiality for mature ladies.
“Um, mum, nothing. I was just talking with my colleague over the phone. Gee, why didn’t you go shopping with your friends today? You come back so early.”
Ling Yun immediately got up and came up in her slippers. After taking the groceries from Chu Yunxiu and placing them in the kitchen, she asked quizzically.
With a weary expression, Chu Yunxiu sat on the sofa, rubbed her temples and said, “I’m not in the mood now. Those damned developers wanted to develop our neighborhood and turn it into medium high-rise buildings without spending much money. Thus, I was elected as the owner’s representative. I went there to negotiate with them in the early morning. Based on the current market value of our section, per square meter is worth at least eighty or ninety thousand yuan. However, these exploitative developers just offered the price of seventy thousand yuan. I spent the whole morning negotiating with them, but they just offered the price of seventy-five thousand yuan.”
Ling Yun poured Chu Yunxiu a glass of water and said, “So did you accept the price?”
“How can it be possible? They want to buy my apartment with the price of seventy-five thousand yuan for per square meter? In their dream! We have four apartments. Although they are not big, they cover an area of more than three hundred square meters. According to the current market value which is ninety thousand yuan, we’ll lose fifteen thousand yuan on per square meter and thus to lose more than four million yuan on three hundred square meters. Besides, it doesn’t include the expenses for our renting an apartment during the development and the profit from leasing our apartments. I won’t do this money-losing business. These brats want to bully us? Don’t even think about it!”
Chu Yunxiu kept swearing, which was barely consistent with her gentle and graceful appearance. Her way of talking fully showed her unique tough style and that she was shrewd as a native of Ninghai.
Nevertheless, Ling Yun knew that she was pretending to be tough in order to protect Ling Yun and herself from being bullied.
As a widow known for her beauty, Chu Yunxiu had a pretty face, a good figure and graceful temperament. Besides, she was a native of Ninghai and possessed four apartments.
During these years, numerous lascivious men had chased her, but she kept acting harshly to them and raised Ling Yun by herself.
There had been an admirer intending to make passes at her while he was drunk. However, she ran after him across three streets with a kitchen knife in her hand. He was almost scared out of his pants and finally ended up getting down on his knees to kowtow and apologize.
From then on, no admirer of hers dared to act indecently towards her, and the neighbors respected her a lot.
Only Ling Yun knew that her mother who had always been strong held her tight and cried for the whole night. She sobbed while telling Ling Yun that if they wanted to live a better life in this world, they needed to learn how to be a hedgehog. Otherwise, an orphan and a widow like them would be swallowed until there was nothing left.
The experience on that night had a great impact on her. She realized that her mother who she considered the strongest person would feel weak sometimes. Therefore, she became mature and began to pretend to be tough after that night.
They pretended to be hedgehogs who would seriously stab anyone intending to hurt them.
Hearing her mother’s words, Ling Yun looked a bit worried. The first thought coming to her mind was not to calculate the profit brought by resettlement, but where Ding Ning could live if the development began.
It had been five years since Ding Ning lived here. The house price had risen sharply, and so had the rent. Besides the biggest apartment where Ling Yun and her mother lived, the other three apartments including two big ones and a small one were all leased. The rent was the main source of income for Ling Yun and her mother.
Ding Ning rented the smallest apartment which just covered an area of more than forty square meters. At that time, Chu Yunxiu charged one thousand and five hundred yuan per month for the rent.
Over the five years, the rent kept rising. In this section, the rent for a similar apartment had increased to three thousand yuan. Chu Yunxiu had never been kind to Ding Ning. She kept calling him brat and claiming to increase the rent. However, in fact, her bark was a lot worse than her bite. She had never increased the rent.
Perhaps she took pity on Ding Ning because of his sad life experience. A kid without a parent could always touch the softest part of her heart.
“The development probably would not begin so soon.” Ling Yun consoled herself.
During these years, she had got used to living next door to Ding Ning. They lived together as if they were a family. If he suddenly left, she would probably feel uncomfortable.
The thought made her a bit worried. In particular, she became more worried about hearing the developer was Hongda Real Estate.
Hongda Real Estate had powerful connections with the underworld. They started up their business by forcibly supplying construction materials and fighting for construction sites. Although they had managed to shake their bad reputation, they still kept a gang of thugs. They had turned their business into a removal company, but actually they did the same business by sending their thugs to threat those owners who refused to move.
“Mum, don’t try to be brave. With their unusual connections and ignominious means, Hongda Real Estate has got involved in not a few cases of removing buildings by force and beating people. Don’t stick your neck out and get beaten.”
After thinking for a while, Ling Yun still alerted her mother.
“Oh, I know. This neighborhood is old. At first, there was only an apartment of ours, and that was the one where your grandparents lived. Later I got married to your father. At the thought that I might be reluctant to leave my parents, your father bought a new apartment next to them. It’s the one where we live now. In the second year of our marriage, you were born and the two families living upstairs moved away successively. So your father bought their apartments for leasing. After your grandparents passed away, the small apartment was left to me. It’s the one Ding Ning rents.”
Chu Yunxiu recalled the past with a trace of sorrow on her face, “How time flies. I’ve lived here for more than forty years. Our apartments become old, and it’s time for reconstruction. Nevertheless, we’ve got on well with our neighbors for a few decades as if we are a family. When you were a kid, our neighbors always helped me take care of you once I was occupied with something else. I’m good at nothing but dealing with people. Thus, they elected me the owners’ representative to negotiate with Hongda Real Estate. Anyway I can’t disappoint our neighbors, and should fight for the best offer for them.”
“But what can you do if they fail to persuade you by reason and intend to threaten you by force?” Ling Yun could understand her mother’s feelings, but she was still worried.
“Now we live in a law-ruling society. Even if they intend to threaten me by force, they don’t dare to do it flagrantly. I just need to take care. Don’t forget that it’s our territory. I just need to yell, and all the people around our neighborhood will rush out to help me.”
Chu Yunxiu waved her fists and said in high spirits.
“Mum, could you tell me how my dad died actually?” Ling Yun asked while cautiously watching her mother’s face. She had never seen her father since she could remember things.
At the age of eight, she had asked her mother once. Her mother didn’t say anything and just kept weeping all day and all night. After that, Ling Yun didn’t dare to ask the question any more.
After so many years, Ling Yun had grown up. She really wanted to know how her father died, so she finally couldn’t help asking the question.
Chu Yunxiu’s face darkened immediately. She said emotionally, “Who told you that your father had been dead? Don’t listen to those gossipy people. Your dad’s still alive.”
Ling Yun opened her mouth wide in shock and asked in disbelief, “Mum, you said that my dad’s still alive? But if he’s still alive, why hasn’t he come to find us over the years?”
Immediately she seemed to have thought of something and began to imagine the story. “Can it be possible that dad found a new sweetheart and discarded us?”
“Stop talking nonsense. Your dad isn’t that kind of person.”
Chu Yunxiu roughly knocked Ling Yun in the head and sighed quietly. She recalled the past with a happy smile on her face.
“Your dad is the best man around the world. Ninghai girls are generally grumpy and difficult to please, and so am I. I was rather capricious, picky and even bossy sometimes, but your dad has never been angry with me. He has always tolerated and spoiled me. I was careless while he was careful. Changing light bulbs, fixing the toilet, repairing household appliances, washing the clothes, cooking and cleaning, he did everything when we lived together. I didn’t need to worry about anything, because he always took good care of me.”
“So my dad was a househusband.” Ling Yun lowered her head and teased her mother with a smile. A lump came into her throat and made her sound depressed.She acted as if nothing had happened and secretly wiped the tears dropping from the corner of her eyes.
Only those who grew up in a single-parent family could understand her feeling. How she wished she could have a complete family and a capable father as her mother described.
Therefore, she could stand upright in front of those who called her “an unwanted kid without a dad to teach”, and proudly tell them, “I have the best dad around the world.”
Therefore, she no longer had to stubbornly clench her teeth, compress her lips and crazily fight with those who cursed her.
Therefore, after getting wounded, she no longer had to hide in a corner alone, silently licked her wound and forced a smile so as not to make her mother sad…
It was such a pity that during over twenty years of her growth, it was her delicate but strong mother who had always propped up a sky for her. She couldn’t feel father’s love.
She kept wearing a cold mask, pretending to be strong and acting like a hedgehog. Only in the dead of night, she would remove her mask, bury her head in the quilt and let her tears wet the quilt.
She had lived such a life for sixteen years. It was not until the guy from the border area of southwest showed up in her world that she finally had a true friend.
Perhaps we could say that the sympathy for the guy with a similar destiny offered her the harbor where her heart could rest.
From then on, no matter what terrible things happened to her, she could tell him all about it without scruples. He was like a trash bin which tolerated all her caprice and bad temper.
Actually she always knew that Ding Ning was humoring her, caring about her and spoiling her. It made her feel so warm and safe.
He replaced the father she had imagined, compensated her for her missing paternal love and filled the gap in her heart with his tenderness.
As Ling Yun’s mother, Chu Yunxiu could definitely understand her feeling. She sighed softly, put her arms around Ling Yun whose face was covered with tears and consoled her by gently patting her on her back like she used to do when Ling Yun was a kid.