The egg turned golden with a sizzle on the frying pan.
“How many eggs do you want?” Ning Ning stood in front of the pan while wearing an old apron.
“One will do.” Pei Xuan’s voice rang out from the living room.
Ning Ning made two sunny-side up eggs, she put both on a white porcelain plate. She turned around and walked out of the kitchen. As she was about to walk out she turned to take a glance at a photo frame on the wall.
Within the photo frame was a photo of Yan Qing. She was wearing the same apron as Ning Ning at the moment, in her hand was the same white porcelain plate, on the plate was even the same sunny side up egg—but that wasn’t anything strange, Pei Xuan liked to have them.
Ning Ning locked eyes with the Yan Qing in the photo frame for a while before she turned away and left.
Sunlight was shining through the windows into the living room, the long table in the living room was covered by a red-and-white-checkered tablecloth, on top were two cups of soya milk and a plate of fried dough fritters.
Pei Xuan was sitting behind the table while reading the newspaper. He peeked out from behind the newspaper when he heard Ning Ning’s footsteps, he said with a smile, “Come over, let me give you a good morning kiss.”
Ning Ning bent over. He planted a kiss on her face. It was icy cold, there was no warmth, it felt like she got licked by the tongue of a snake.
She looked at a photo frame which was hung on the wall behind him with the corner of her eyes., Within the photo frame was yet another photo of Yan Qing. She was bending over, it seemed like she was waiting for someone to kiss her, it also seemed like she had just been kissed, giddy from the aftertaste with a smile on her mouth.
Just like how Ning Ning was at the moment.
“Alright, let’s eat.” Pei Xuan used his nose to rub Ning Ning’s cheek. “We can discuss the matters of the house over the meal.”
Then they had breakfast in front of the photo frame of Yan Qing.
“We can do away with the piano room, should we make it a baking room or a study for you?” Pei Xuan took a bite out of the sunny-side up.
“No need.” Ning Ning said, “We are going overseas anyway, we will have to sell the house then. Wouldn’t it be a waste of money to renovate the house now?”
“It’s not a waste.” Pei Xuan said with a smile, “Spending any amount of money is not wasteful as long as it pleases you.”
This speech mannerism of an overbearing CEO, it would win the favour of a woman’s heart no matter if it was ten years ago or ten years later, but Ning Ning was more curious about another matter.
“By the way.” She asked casually, “What exactly do you do for a living?”
Poor Yan Qing, poor Yun Lin and poor Li Ping Ping, three women fell in love with the same man. One fell for his sweet talk, one fell for his striking appearance and one fell for his expensive watches and cars, yet the three of them didn’t know what kind of person they fell in love with, they didn’t even know what he did for a living.
“I work in a foreign securities company, I’m back this time for a vacation.” Pei Xuan smiled, “What’s the matter? You’re only asking this now?”
They had already informed people of their engagement. There were people who congratulated them and there were those who mocked them. There were those who were envious and those who were jealous. No one mentioned Ning Ning by name anymore, they called her ‘gold digger’. Such fine specimen of a man, there were a flock of people who would be willing to marry him even though he was a widower.
“Come, let me calm you down a little.” Pei Xuan put his chopsticks down and walked to Ning Ning’s side, he put his arm over her shoulders.
They arrived in the piano room. The piano who had lost its owner sat quietly in the corner with a layer of lonely dust on top of it. Pei Xuan retrieved a few documents from a shelf within the room and handed them to Ning Ning. “Look, this is my company’s documents and my visa.”
He shoved a pile of documents to Ning Ning. They were all in English, it looked very impressive at a glance. How would Yun Lin who didn’t know any English understand any of this? On the other hand, Ning Ning could understand parts of it, but she could only recognise the commonly used words. She did not understand some of the professional terms, thus she could not determine whether the documents were genuine or not.
“You showed this to me knowing that I can’t read them.” Ning Ning tossed the document back at him with an angry look, but her eyes looked like they were smiling.
“Alright, alright. I’ll read them out word by word later, alright?” Pei Xuan pressed down on her shoulders.
“Why not now?” Ning Ning asked.
“We could do it now as well.” Pei Xuan turned around and looked at the piano that was tucked away. “How about a recitation, you can provide me with some background music.”
Ning Ning had learned how to play the piano for a period of time for the sake of acting, but had Yun Lin ever learned how to play the piano? After steadying herself, Ning Ning sat in front of the piano and reached out with a single finger, she pressed the do re mi fa so keys consecutively. Pei Xuan looked down and read the document accompanied by the sounds of the piano, “…Securities company was established in 1988, the headquarters is located in the world’s financial center London…”
Do re mi fa so, do re mi fa so… Ning Ning looked up as she pressed the piano keys, a photo frame was hung on the wall in front of her. Yan Qing was sitting in front of the piano within the photo frame, she faced the camera as she played the piano.
Ning Ning could not help but shudder a little.
…Come to think of it, were there that many photo frames in the room when she came before?
She thought carefully about it, it didn’t seem to be the case.
At first there were only photo frames in one corridor, but now? Ever since she agreed to Pei Xuan’s proposal, the photo frames in the room were increasing in number. It spreaded out from the vestibule to the corridors, from the corridors to the living room, from the living room to the stairs, spreading out into every corner of the house.
And now, the entire house was filled with her.
No matter where she looked, she would see Yan Qing.
“Why did you stop?” Pei Xuan’s voice suddenly rang out beside Ning Ning’s ear.
She came back to her senses and realised that she had focused too much on the photo frames on the wall and had forgotten to play the piano.
“What’s with these photos?” She did not mask her doubt, because this would definitely be Yun Lin’s doubt as well. She pointed to the photo frame in front of her and asked with a trace of jealousy, “Why does it feel like these things have been increasing?”
Pei Xuan looked at the direction she pointed at, he looked like he was smiling and not at the same time.
The doorbell suddenly rang.
“Hold on.” Pei Xuan squeezed Ning Ning’s shoulder, he left her in the room to wait for him as he went downstairs. After a while, he walked into the room with an enormous photo frame.
“Look at the gift I have prepared for you.” He presented the photo frame in his hands with a smile.
Ning Ning was stunned when she saw the person in the photo frame, “When did you take that?”
The person in the photo frame was not anyone else, it was Ning Ning herself. She was wearing an old-fashioned black dress, standing beside the black piano, supporting herself with a snow-white arm on the piano, the black and white in the photo was very contrasting.
Pei Xuan walked to the wall with the photo frame in hand. He reached out and took down Yan Qing’s photo frame and switched them, then took a few steps back and looked at it while tilting his head. He turned back and asked, “Do you think it’s a little crooked?”
“… A little.” Ning Ning answered.
Pei Xuan immediately walked and adjusted it. “How about now?”
“A little to the left… a little to the right, stop, stop.” Ning Ning directed him from behind, “Right there.”
Pei Xuan dusted his hands and took a few steps back, he put his arms across her shoulders as he admired his handiwork.
Ning Ning looked at the photo frame with a complicated expression. The new love was hung up on the wall, the old flame was left in the corner of the room. They were framed in a photo frame of the same size, shot beside the same piano and by the same photographer… their husband, Pei Xuan.
“Here.” Pei Xuan gave her a pat on her back, “Let me show you a surprise.”
The two of them left the piano room. Ning Ning stopped in her tracks as they walked down the stairs. She leaned on the handrails and looked up and down at the things that were lying around in the living room, she could not help but let out a gasp.
On the floor were photo frames of all sizes, every single photo frame had a photo of Ning Ning. A photo was shot in the kitchen, a photo was shot in the living room, a photo was shot in the corridor, a photo was shot in the bedroom…this was only but a portion of it. The entrance to the villa was open, the deliveryman was still continuously bringing in more photo frames.
The originally empty living room was quickly filled up with photo frames.
“Do you like it?” Pei Xuan hugged Ning Ning from behind, he smiled by her ear. “… In the future, the house would have no more Yan Qing, only you.”
Ning Ning suddenly turned back to look at him, then her vision slowly shifted up and landed on the huge photo frame behind him. It was the first photo she saw, the curly hair and floral dress…was it an illusion? She felt that the person in the photo was looking back at her again, using a painful and sad expression.
The painful and sad look vanished, because Pei Xuan walked over and took down the photo frame.
“Come.” He pointed towards the living room with his chin while hugging the photo frame, “Look for a photo you like.”
The two of them spent the entire afternoon taking down all of Yan Qing’s photo frames.
Standing in the middle of the living room, surrounded by photo frames of all sizes cramped on the walls framed with photos of herself, was this really romantic? Ning Ning did not know what Yan Qing thought of it, but she could only feel shivers running down her spine.
“It’s getting late, I should return.” Ning Ning held back her desire to rub on her goosebumps as she told Pei Xuan, “You should be tired too, you don’t have to see me home, I will take a taxi.”
Pei Xuan did look pretty tired, he was laid out on the sofa as he nodded, “Then take care on the way back.”
Ning Ning acknowledged as she quickly left. As she walked from the living room to the vestibule, she could not help but quicken her footsteps. With all the photo frames staring at her, she could only breathe a sigh of relief after she rushed out of the door.
She slowly turned back and looked at the tightly shut door behind her.
The shadows of the tree branches which were cast on the door seemed like fangs and claws under the moonlight.
“…What exactly are you thinking of?” Ning Ning murmured in a low voice, “What exactly are you trying to achieve?”
A person’s actions were dictated by his or her desires.
Yun Lin’s desire drove her to sabotage her friend, Li Ping Ping’s desire drove her to continuously pursue Pei Xuan, but what about Pei Xuan? What was the reason for him to become an accomplice of Yun Lin? What was the reason for him to propose to Yun Lin? What was the reason for him to continue staying in a suspicious house full of photo frames?
On the other side of the door in a dark room.
Pei Xuan slowly stood up from the sofa. He walked up the stairs step by step and entered the bedroom, he looked at the photo frame hung on the wall.
This was probably the last photo frame of Yan Qing in the house.
She was wearing a white wedding dress in the photo, holding a bouquet of lilies that had dewdrops on it. She was smiling as she looked at Pei Xuan, but her eyes had tears.
…It was not an illusion, they were in fact real tears…
Pei Xuan started smiling with satisfaction.
E/N: Did you guys notice they were having dinner yesterday….and this morning NN is still in the house….