Devil’s Warmth

Chapters List

Chapter 29: Return

When summer hit the hottest, Chen Hu brought a plate of chilled watermelon to Bei Yao’s place.

The chubby boy couldn’t climb further than level three. He was gasping for air like a calf, exhausted. He knocked on the door. Bei Yao’s delicate face appeared on the other side. She just woke up from her nap, ready to start on her homework.

Chen Hu’s already flushed face became even redder. He said in a coarse tone, “It’s chilled watermelon from my pop’s factory, he asked me to bring them to you guys.”

“Thank you, Chen Hu,” Bei Yao took over the watermelon, “come in and rest. I made Bingfen, do you want some?”

When Chen Hu heard he could have Bingfen, he entered and sat on the sofa like his home.

As Bei Yao took out the Bingfen, Chen Hu suddenly spoke, “Bei Yao, do you miss Pei Chuan?”

“Yeah, I do.”

Chen Hu said in a gloomy tone, “I miss MinMin too. When we were little, you were so close to Pei Chuan, but why hasn’t he contacted you now? Hmph, I knew, he is an ungrateful wolf pup.”

Bei Yao passed him the Bingfen, “Yup, you’re right.”

The grown-up Pei Chuan was extremely unfamiliar. His eyes were fierce and cold, just like a wolf pup.

Chen Hu felt uncomfortable, “I didn’t mean it, those harsh words.”

As the years came and went, the kids from the old neighbourhood were leaving one by one. They were either like Fang MinJun moving to a new place, parents’ new job locations moving further from City C, or getting a new life after growing up. Chen Hu felt upset.

Bei Yao switched on the fan for him.

The kids in the neighbourhood weren’t bad, they were just naughty. Chen Hu wasn’t sensible just when he was young, and stopped saying hurtful things as he grew older. He was often mocked due to his size, so he could sympathise with how people with disabilities felt.

Bei Yao’s house didn’t have a fridge that year. The ice jelly they had was taken out to eat after leaving it in ice for a while, making it more delicious.

Bei Yao took over the chilled melons and placed them on her plate, and returned Chen Hu his plate. He left her house after slurping that bowl of ice jelly with contentment.

He met someone unexpected on his way down. It was Bai YuTong, Pei Chuan’s step-sister.

She was holding onto a bottle of wine, her eyes focused on the watermelon seeds that were left on his plate. “You went to give watermelons to Bei Yao?”

Chen Hu grunted in reply.

Bai YuTong hid the jealousy in her eyes and jokingly said, “You do treat her well. When am I getting a share of those watermelons?”

Chen Hu frowned. “Wait here, I’ll go get yours.”

The watermelons weren’t only for Bei Yao. He had gone to all his playmates' houses to give them watermelons. Although Bei Yao had grown up to be a lot prettier, he wasn’t biased. It was just that none of the kids in the neighbourhood liked her and her mum, both of whom had just moved in. They were never considered when he was sending out watermelons.

Chen Hu ran off back to his house without waiting for a response from Bai YuTong.

She hugged the bottle of wine, feeling wronged. Taking a peek towards the direction of Bei Yao’s room, she could see roses blooming on the walls, alongside morning glories creeping up too. Even the plants seem to want to show off in front of Bei Yao.

Bai YuTong muttered under her breath. “Just another poor peasant.”

The entire neighbourhood knows that Bei Yao wasn’t that well off. Her uncle borrowed a hefty sum from them since the accident, and most of their money had gone to help him recover from it.

As opposed to hers, the wealthiest family there would be the Pei’s.

Her stepfather had become the leader of the Investigation team earlier this year. Pei HaoBing had become more focused on work than ever before, and being very diligent and reliable at work made him rise in ranks quickly.

He had also bought a flat in the central district, which he planned to move over to when they were free.

Pei HaoBing had many close friends in the neighbourhood, but Bai YuTong didn’t. She heard that the new flat was spacious and grand. Besides that, the neighbourhood had gardens and swimming pools, which made her hope to move in as soon as possible.

Furthermore... Uncle Pei had a son, who was his heir. But he has disabilities, and he doesn’t come home often after being in high school. As Uncle Pei is being extra nice to them, she hopes that the stepbrother would never return home.

The Pei’s were rich. She used to wear old and outdated dresses, but now all she wears makes her gorgeous and fashionable.

When compared to Bei Yao who still wears dresses that were passed down from her cousin, Bai YuTong felt much better.

It was a blisteringly hot afternoon which made her sweat all over. A raging fire had started in her heart. She wasn’t the fairest, and being under the sun was going to make it worse. Bai YuTong went on to hide behind the shade, hesitating to leave. But the thought of Bei Yao getting the watermelon that she wasn’t getting made her stay on.

However, another tall boy walked in before Chen Hu came back. Bai YuTong’s eyes fixated on him.

It was August. The sky was clear and the sun was up high. The boy walked with his hands in his pockets, looking cold.

While wearing a simple white tee and black pants, he gave off vibes as if it was a cold and lonely autumn. Despite looking cold as a stone, his face beamed with confidence and the brightness of youth.

It was the first time Bai YuTong saw someone as handsome as him in the neighbourhood, which immediately caught her attention.

He first glanced at the bare plum tree, then slowly shifted his gaze over to the third-floor window opposite.

The roses and the morning glories were creeping up her window in all shyness.

He turned around and walked back home.

Bai YuTong was dazed. She was wearing her best-looking dress, but the boy didn’t pay any attention to her. It was as if she was non-existent. Her face turned bright red from the ignorance of the boy, and her shock from his looks.

The thing is, she didn’t know who he was. She didn’t even have a reason to stop him but to watch him leave towards the direction of her house.

Chen Hu finally came down. “Here you go.”

He only gave her one slice. Bai YuTong was fuming. She was spewing profanities in her mind, but smiled instead, replying with thanks and left.

Chen Hu didn’t bother about her and went on to distribute watermelon slices to Li Da’s house.

Bai YuTong saw that boy sitting on the sofa as soon as she opened the door. She hesitated and looked at her mum who appeared panicky.

Cao Li was embarrassed and helpless. “Can you wait for a while? Your dad has just left for work.”

That boy agreed coldly.

He crossed his legs as he sat. Upon hearing Bai YuTong’s return, he blatantly stood up and walked towards his room.

Cao Li stepped forward, “Eh…”

Bai YuTong continued. “That’s my room!”

The boy responded to her with a smirk, “Your room?”

She was stunned by his question, but still, she replied. “It’s my room now, isn’t it weird for you to enter?”

He was tempted to light a cigarette, but remembering what he was here for, he voiced harshly, “Move out of the room, now.”

Even though Bai YuTong was dumb, she still would realise that this guy standing in front of her, was indeed her step-brother that she’d never seen before. She stared at his leg in awe, without hiding the mockery in that stare. Cao Li, being an adult with more experience, immediately scolded her for it. “Tong Tong!”

Bai YuTong looked away from him and left the wine bottle on the table.

Cao Li continued, “Sorry Pei Chuan, both your dad and I thought that you won’t come back to stay anymore, and that room had the best lighting, so…”

Anyone could catch what she meant.

The neighbourhoods’ standards were three rooms and one living room.

The master bedroom belongs to Pei HaoBing, and another one was for Pei Chuan. The other room with poor lighting was made into a storage room.

Bai YuTong moved into the room that belonged to Pei Chuan instead of the storage room.

Cao Li went on embarrassingly as she saw the emotionless look on his face. “Sorry, we didn’t plan this out properly. It’s also not possible if she moves out now, can we do it tonight instead?” By then, Pei HaoBing would be back, and it won’t be as awkward talking to his son compared to them.

Pei Chuan sneered, “Sure.”

He didn’t open the bedroom door but went on to open the main door and left.

That room was his, and it rightfully still is. He’s going to get it back.

That room was facing her room's direction, the spot closest to her. He couldn’t believe he gave up that spot for a year. It’s only been a year, and there was already such a huge difference.

As Pei Chuan left, Bai YuTong cried out in despair. “Mum, I don’t wanna move into the storage room.”

Cao Li glared at her sternly. “Shut up, don’t you know what to say and what not to say? He’s Uncle Pei’s biological son after all.”

“But the one taking care of him throughout the past year was me!”

“The one getting all the benefits was you too!” Cao Li raised her voice. “If you still want to stay with the Pei’s in the future, then you better listen to me!”

Bai YuTong was speechless. Compared to a room, she rather enjoys the life that she has right now. She was done with being poor.

Cao Li, however, was thinking much more ahead. Bai YuTong might not even need to move out of her room since Pei HaoBing most likely wouldn’t even give the room back to his son. No one knew what he was up to after he had mysteriously disappeared for an entire year.

Pei Chuan told the family that he was going to Sixth High to study, but Pei HaoBing didn’t find him in Sixth High.

Instead, he received a text message the next day saying, “Left, don’t miss me.

And just like that, he was gone for a year.

Pei HaoBing followed the clues that he had left behind and found a plane ticket to City Q. He had to give up after discovering that. How is he going to find a wandering boy in China which is so densely populated?

At first, Pei HaoBing was unable to sleep every night, tossing and turning in bed worrying about Pei Chuan. However, as time passed, resentment for Pei Chuan also grew. The fact that he left the family so easily made a negative impression on Pei HaoBing. One of which he was unlikely to be filial to him.

Bai YuTong asked, “Mum, where did he appear out from? Why is he suddenly back?”

“How would I know?”

“Mum, this disabled..” She closed her mouth upon the look that her mum gave her, and didn’t continue on the sentence. “He didn’t take any money with him when he left, so how did he survive the entire year without any money?”

Cao Li frowned, “Probably worked or something.”

A sense of disgust arose within Bai YuTong. No wonder he came back wearing a normal white T-shirt. He had no more money left, which forced him to come back.

Bai YuTong used to work before, and she knew how difficult it was. Her hands were still dry and rough. They would even develop blisters during winter, as she used to wash and serve at a restaurant. Thinking about how Pei Chuan was living the past year, she was disgusted about how she was impressed by him at first.

How could she have been impressed by someone like him?

Maybe this step-brother of hers that had “dropped out of school” was going to rely on her step-father for the rest of his life.

The thought of it got her annoyed. There was going to be one more person in the house, and maybe he would need her to help out. It made her more uncomfortable.

Pei Chuan leaned against the blooming morning glories. The selfish side of him has won and chosen this despicable path.

He was going for it, that one-in-ten-thousand possibility.

Pei Chuan made a phone call, to which the other end whispered, “It’s done.”

He swiped across the phone, phasing out. When he was young, they used to teach the story of a farmer and a snake. The farmer saved the snake, yet it wasn’t grateful and wanted to make the farmer its meal.

And now, he was that snake hissing with its fangs out. Going to accomplish roughly the worst thing he could do.

Bei Yao, if one day, from meeting and spending time with her, to eventually leaving, was all part of his evil plan. If she was unable to love him, the last thing he could ask was for her not to hate him.

He closed his eyes and leaned against the wall.

The August sun was scorching hot. The reason why the morning glory was this well-grown, was because the wall directly faced the sun.

As morning glories look great when fully bloomed, the residents of the neighbourhood didn’t bother removing them.

Pei Chuan’s sweat trickled down this hair, and onto his cheap T-shirt. However, that's the last thing he was bothered about.

Tonight, there’s going to be exciting things happening.

It’s been a year since he saw Pei HaoBing, and he’s unsure if he’s become cold-blooded. A year apart has slowly eroded his expectations for his father.

Compared to that, he was more concerned about Bei Yao’s reactions.

Zhao ZhiLan was ecstatic when she reached home. On the dining table, she coughed and announced the good news. “It’s been so many years, finally, our stingy clothing company has finally given us benefits!”

It was only after 2003 when their clothing factory had been converted to a company. Ever since Zhao ZhiLan had become the department head of the designing team.

Bei Yao took a bite out of the eggplant, staring at her excited mother curiously.

Zhao ZhiLan fished out an invitation slip, and said with pride, “I never knew the clothing company can be so generous one day. I’m sure we earned big bucks for the company last year.”

Bei Yao took over the slip for a closer inspection. Surprisingly, it was a free ‘Youth Summer Camp’ participation slip.

The pictures printed on it were majestic. Treatments, outings, dormitories, everything seemed marvellous.

Zhao ZhiLan added, “This kind of treatment is seldom seen in the company. Zhao Xiu was so salty she didn’t get it, but I had a better performance last year, so she kept quiet. I heard, signing up for a 7-day summer camp yourself costs more than two thousand! This is much more expensive than a trip. Our YaoYao has never gone to such an event, so this is finally our chance.”

Bei Yao said, “Can I not participate?”

“Why not?”

Bei Yao, with her crystal clear round eyes, replied, “Since mom’s reward is so precious, shouldn’t we sell this? We can earn at least a thousand.”

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