Once surprise came suddenly, the first reaction of the human brain wasn’t ecstasy but the suspicion if this was real. Facing the emotional Lin Shen and Yu Dushu, his brain buzzed and he subconsciously looked back at Yan Ting. As long as Yan Ting was present, his heart wouldn’t be restless.
Yan Ting saw that Li Zhao wasn’t responding and was reluctant to let him free outside. “Uncle and aunt, let’s go inside to talk.”
“Yes, yes.” Du Yushu nodded in a choked up manner. “We can’t freeze the child.”
Lin Hong, who was behind the Lin Shen and Du Yushu couple, couldn’t help looking at Yan Ting a few more times. His eyes fell on Yan Ting and Li Zhao’s interlocked hands.
Du Yushu carefully held Li Zhao’s arm, afraid that Li Zhao would be unhappy if she gripped too strongly. However, she was also afraid that Li Zhao would disappear if it was too light.
“I…” Li Zhao opened his mouth. He wanted to ask if they were really his parents but he couldn’t ask.
As a child, he imagined his parents countless times. He expected them to take him away but they never came. After waiting too long, he almost forgot to wait. He wanted to ask them where they had been all these years and why they didn’t look for him. However, he couldn’t ask when facing the almost crying Du Yushu. A soft handkerchief was placed in Li Zhao’s hand and he turned to look at Yan Ting.
“Don’t cry.” Li Zhao didn’t know whether to continue calling her aunt or to call her mother. This scene was so unreal that he couldn’t say it.
Du Yushu had always been an elegant woman who smiled with a unique style. Yet at this moment, she was just a mother full of guilt and love.
“Zhao Zhao, I’m sorry. Mom is sorry to you.” Du Yushu’s tears were falling down. Li Zhao hesitated before reaching out to hug Du Yushu.
The moment Li Zhao hugged her, Du Yushu howled. This cry was so sad that it pulled Li Zhao out of his unreal trance. He gently patted Du Yushu’s back, his movements very gentle.
Lin Shen looked at the tender and considerate child and had to take off his glasses to wipe his eyes. He was unable to speak for a long time.
Lin Hong sat next to his brother. He saw Li Zhao and suddenly remembered something. 11 years old, Lin Shen had inadvertently read a report on a child being abused by his adoptive parents on the Internet. At the time, there was little concern about this report but his brother sympathized with the child. That night, he wrote an article against child abuse. All sectors of society paid attention to the article about protecting minor children written under a pen name that was published in the authoritative newspaper, ‘National Daily.’
After this article was published, it attracted the attention of people from all walks of life and the paper and Internet media rushed to report on it. It was said that shortly after public opinion fermented, the relevant local authorities helped the abused child start a new life and the matter was resolved in a satisfactory manner.
The abused child 11 years ago…
Lin Hong took out his phone and searched for Li Zhao’s information on the Internet. Then the anger in his anger couldn’t be dispersed for a long time.
Li Zhao… was the child.
Facing Li Zhao’s comfort, Du Yushu’s mood finally returned to normal. She hurriedly explained what happened in the past.
“I really didn’t know.” Du Yushu’s voice was hoarse. “We invited professional diving teams to search for a few days and nights. There were also missing posters everywhere but we couldn’t for you.”
For a while, she went crazy. Every time she saw a child in the arms of others on the street, she suspected it was her child. In the middle of the night, she often heard the cries of a baby. Then once she opened the door, all she saw was an empty corridor.
Later, everyone around her advised her to have another child. It would be much better to be accompanied by a child. Even so, she didn’t dare give birth. She was afraid that she would gradually forget Shao Shao after giving birth. If even she and Old Lin forgot that Shao Shao existed in this world, who would remember him?
On the day when Shao Shao turned one year old, she came to the river where the accident happened and jumped down. The river was bitterly cold and relentlessly poured toward her body. This was the feeling of death.
The moment she was saved, she heard Old Lin’s cries. “The child is gone. Are you going to abandon me too?”
The usually calm and elegant Old Lin was crying like a three year old child in front of her. She gradually recovered her senses. What would he do if he was left alone in the world?
“All those years, you have suffered.” Du Yushu wanted to hold Li Zhao’s hand but she didn’t dare. “Mom will compensate you well. I will definitely compensate you.”
Li Zhao extended a hand and pulled Du Yushu and Lin Shen’s hands together. “I’ve had a good life over the years. I have close friends and a gentle and considerate lover.” He turned to Yan Ting.
Yan Ting reached out and gently laid a hand on the back of Li Zhao’s hand.
“He encouraged me to take the university entrance examination, accompanied me to read books and study. He helped me hold a lively university admission dinner and secretly funded the gene bank project for me.” Li Zhao laughed. “So don’t be sad. There is always someone who loves me.”
Li Zhao’s eyes were a bit red. “Don’t cry anymore.”
“Yes, don’t cry anymore. Today is a day of great joy. You should be happy.” Lin Hong quickly came out to make the atmosphere lively. He took something out of his pocket and placed money in Li Zhao’s hand. “Hello nephew. I was in a rush just now and it was too late to buy a red envelope. This is… a red envelope of meeting. Please accept it.”
It was a large sum of money, probably thousands or 10,000. There were new and old notes. In this era where barcode scanning payment was popular, it was rare for someone to have so much cash.
This money was temporarily put together by his research institute colleagues for Lin Hong. Everyone was happy that the couple had found their child.
“I should do this. Uncle owes you 21 years of New Year’s money and birthday money. I will replenish it for you when it is New Year’s Day.” Lin Hong noticed Yan Ting next to Li Zhao. He thought about it, took half the money given to Li Zhao and placed it in Yan Ting’s hands. “Come on, this young couple should receive half each.”
Hearing the words ‘young couple’, Yan Ting took the money and put it away. “Thank you, Uncle.”
“You’re welcome, you’re welcome.” Lin Hong smiled and praised Li Zhao. “Your lover is so nice, sweet-mouthed and sensible. So good.”
“Sir, Mr Li, are you still eating hotpot tonight?” The housekeeper came over with a big smile on his face.
“We will eat hotpot. It will be lively with so many people.” Yan Ting touched Li Zhao’s head and asked Lin Shen and Du Yushu. “Aunt and Uncle, do you have any taboos?”
“No, we can eat anything. As long as Zhao Zhao likes it, we both like it.” Lin Shen and Du Yushu nodded quickly. They were very careful in front of Li Zhao and even flattered his taste.
Li Zhao looked into their eyes and there was something unpleasant in his heart. He got up and poured a cup of tea for the three elders. Lin Shen wanted to drink it the moment he received it.
“Professor, wait.” Li Zhao hurriedly grabbed Lin Shen’s wrist. “The tea is a bit hot. Wait for it to cool before drinking.”
“Okay, okay.” Lin Shen nodded hard.
Li Zhao’s fingers bent and the uncomfortable feeling was slightly reduced.
The housekeeper quickly organized the dining room. The family sat around the table and the smell of hotpot lingered in the room. Lin Shen and Du Yushu tried their best to please Li Zhao. Their manners and expressions were so humble that Li Zhao’s heart gradually hurt.
After eating the hotpot, the couple looked at the dark sky and then Li Zhao with some embarrassment. “Zhao Zhao, tomorrow… would you like to go to our home for a meal? It won’t take too long, two hours… no, just an hour. If you don’t have time tomorrow then the day after will do. What do you and Yan Ting like to eat? I’ll cook it for you.”
“I have time.” Li Zhao held Yan Ting’s hand. “I have time with Ting Ting.”
A big smile appeared on Du Yushu’s face and she hurriedly nodded. “Okay, good.”
She touched her bag and took out a paper and pen. “What do you and Yan Ting like to eat? Mom will write it down.”
Li Zhao was silent. He gazed at Du Yushu holding the pen, her hands shaking very finely. Then he reached out and held Du Yushu’s hand. “As long as… it is Mom’s cooking, I like it all.”
Du Yushu stared at Li Zhao in a stunned manner. Then her shoulders and she started crying.
“Child, my child.” She reached out a hand and hugged Li Zhao.
Lin Shen stood up, extending his hands to hold the mother and son as tears fell.
Yan Ting sat quietly next to them, watching Li Zhao being guarded in the middle of his parents like a baby. Yan Ting slightly lowered his eyes. Suddenly, his hand was tightly held. He looked up and saw Li Zhao, surrounded by his parents, but still extending a hand to him, holding him firmly and tightly.
The eyes of the two people met. Yan Ting’s mouth was slightly curved in a smile and his eyes were like warm spring.
It was late at night and Professor Chen’s family were a bit puzzled by the sound next door.
The faculty building they lived in was old and the sound insulation wasn’t very good. Professor Lin’s family consisted of scholars and they even walked lightly if they came back at night. They were afraid of making a big noise. So why was there the sound of pots and pans in the middle of the night?
Professor Chen was an art teacher at Beijing University. He was always obsessed with painting and he had a good relationship with the Lin family. He was worried that something had happened to Professor Lin’s family and asked his daughter who was sitting on the sofa watching a drama. “Daughter, you met Old Lin’s family on the staircase when you came back today. Was something wrong with them?”
“They seemed to have cried. Their eyes were red.” Professor Chen’s daughter was chatting about the gif of her baby in the group chat. Once she heard her father’s question, she put down her phone. “It was a luxury car that brought them back and they were carrying many things in their hands. Seeing Aunt Du’s appearance, something should’ve happened.”
She had just finished talking when there was a knock on the door. Professor Chen’s daughter opened the door and saw Professor Lin standing outside the door with a box of fresh strawberries in his hand.
Lin Shen gave the strawberries to Professor Chen’s daughter. “Lanlan, my son gave us a lot of fruit. I remember that you like strawberries so take them.”
Professor Chen’s daughter sucked in a breath. Professor Lin’s son… didn’t he die a long time ago?
She carefully examined Professor Lin’s expression and squeezed out a smile. “Thank you, Uncle Lin.”
“You’re welcome.” Lin Shen couldn’t help wanting everyone to know that his child was found. He returned to his house happily and washed meat and vegetables with his wife. He cleaned the house and even replaced the long vacant room with new bedsheets.
“Dad.” Professor Chen’s daughter placed the strawberries on the table and whispered to Professor Chen, “Uncle Lin… is he hallucinating because he is too sad?”
Professor Chen sighed in a worried manner. “Lanlan, you are usually free. Go and talk to Aunt Du. These two people… don’t have an easy life.”
“Okay.” Professor Chen’s daughter grabbed her phone again and went to her room. She found that a few small friends in her group were calling her.
[Just now, a neighbour knocked on the door to give me strawberries. I went to open the door.]
[Is it that elegant and good-looking husband and wife?]
[You can talk to them when you’re free. I feel that they’re a really good and excellent couple. Unfortunately…]
Her friends also knew the story of Professor Lin’s family and had good feelings toward the couple.
Professor Chen’s daughter sighed. How good would it be if their child was alive?
Du Yushu didn’t sleep all night. She had been washing and cleaning the entire time but she didn’t feel tired at all. Instead, she was extremely energetic. Before dawn, she went to the market to buy the freshest fish and shrimp, as well as snacks that young people liked to eat.
She stopped suddenly when she passed by a children’s clothing store.
If Zhao Zhao had never left her then she would’ve definitely bought him a lot of beautiful clothes, making him the cutest and most handsome child in class.
“Ah, I was so mad when I saw the news on the Internet.” Two young girls waiting for the bus next to her complained while looking at their phones. “Zhao Junnan really isn’t a person. Zhao Zhao acted as his double and experienced so much suffering and crimes. As a result, Zhao Junnan can still lick his face and say on the Internet that he never used a double?”
“Who said that Zhao Zhao has no father, no mother, no backstage, so he can only endure being bullied?” The other girl swore. “I was so distressed when I saw Zhao Zhao being soaked in cold water in winter. He was so cold he couldn’t get up but no staff members pulled him up.”
Du Yushu walked behind the two girls. She forgot that her upbringing and manners meant she shouldn’t look at other people’s phones and stared at the video playing on one of the girl’s phones.
In the video, Li Zhao was frozen in a pool. He struggled to climb out of the pool once, twice, three times but he slipped into the pool again and again. The staff walked around him and no one pulled him out. Finally, he managed to climb up from the pool. His entire body fell to the side of the pool like he was dead.
Someone vaguely shouted his name. “Li Zhao, hurry up and prepare for the next shot. Don’t do it if you don’t want to!”
Zhao Zhao, her Zhao Zhao! What type of life had her child lived out of her sight?
Du Yushu covered her chest. She could no longer hold on and collapsed to the ground, crying.
The people on the street came and went, lively and noisy.
The author has something to say:
Teacher: Student Zhao Zhao, your mother and father have come to pick you up.
Baby Zhao Zhao carried his small bag and led Baby Ting Ting outside.
Teacher: Wait, you can’t bring other children…
Baby Zhao Zhao: Baby Ting Ting is also my family. I want to take him home.