The day of the wedding was getting closer. Ning Ning did not feel the excitement of a person who was about to get married, she only felt an anxiety that was getting heavier as the days went by.
“What did you say?” She furrowed her brows, “Who is this letter for?”
Her next door neighbour was standing at her door. She was an old woman who had a mix of white and grey hair. She handed the letter in her hand to Ning Ning with an apologetic look. “My grandson helped me collect my letters, he probably accidentally took Yan Qing’s letter along with ours. Since it’s her letter, it’s not so nice to leave it at my place, look…”
A letter for the dead, if Ning Ning did not accept it, she would probably throw it away.
“Alright.” Ning Ning reached out and accepted the letter. “I will give it to her parents.”
“Alright. Thank you, thank you.” The neighbour breathed a sigh of relief, she finally got rid of the hot potato.
Ning Ning looked down at the letter in her hands after the neighbour left. It was really strange. The letter was pretty recent, it was sent five days ago. The news of Yan Qing’s death should have already been sent out then, who would send a letter to a dead person?
She opened the letter and received a shock. Not only was there a letter, there seemed to be a gift as well, that gift was…She didn’t have enough time to look at it when a hand reached out from behind her and took the letter away.
Ning Ning turned back and saw Pei Xuan was staring at the letter, then he very naturally kept it and smiled at her. “Why are you still dawdling around? Get dressed, let’s go look at the wedding gowns.”
Today was the day the two of them were supposed to pick a wedding gown. Ning Ning hesitated in front of the Chinese-style and Western-style gowns. In the end, she picked the Chinese-styled one, it was not because it was her preferred choice, she just did not want to dress up like the Yan Qing in the photo frame…
“We’ll take both.” Pei Xuan bought both of them, he said with a smile. “I want to see you in both of them.”
Pei Xuan was the one who was paying, so they bought both gowns. The Chinese-styled gown was alright, the Western-style one was a little too tight, Ning Ning’s current body was too fat to fit, so they went to the tailor the shop recommended. This was not something that could be done in a day or two, they spent a total of a month to tailor the gown to her proportions.
“It looks really good.” Pei Xuan gave praise upon seeing Ning Ning come out of the dressing room.
Ning Ning walked towards him with a smile, she paused a little along the way as she felt an itch on her waist, it seemed like the wedding gown had something stuck in it, maybe it was the label? She was not too bothered by it. Pei Xuan paid for the wedding gown without a fuss, then told her while grinning from ear to ear, “So you’ll wear this back home today?”
Ning Ning rolled her eyes, “There’s no way.”
She changed out of the wedding gown in the dressing room, shuddering as she undressed down to her waist. She saw what was stuck at the waist portion of the dress.
“What is this?” The shop staff seemed to have not expected that there would be something in the gown. Ning Ning stopped them when they were about to remove it.
“It’s fine, this belongs to me.” Ning Ning tore it off and carefully kept it. She thought it over before turning over and told them, “This is a surprise I have prepared for my husband, don’t tell him about it.”
The shop staff smiled understandingly. “Got it.”
She really had her lips sealed, she did not tell Pei Xuan who was waiting outside about it. Ning Ning walked out with a poker face and told him, “Let’s go back.”
They put the box containing the wedding gown in the backseat before getting in the front seats. The car fired up and drove towards the villa, but they knocked down a bicycle which was travelling at a high speed not a few minutes into the drive. The bicycle laid on its side by the road, the person on the bicycle also fell off. Both of them frantically got out of the car to check on the person. They breathed a sigh of relief upon seeing that the person was not injured.
“I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.” Pei Xuan helped the person up, and said apologetically, “How much does your bicycle cost, I will compensate you for it.”
“It’s fine.” The person was simple and honest, he did not take the opportunity to extort Pei Xuan, he only looked at the newspapers on the floor worriedly.
He was an old newspaper collector, the bicycle might be fine but the newspapers tied to the bicycle were ruined, half of them fell off and were under Pei Xuan’s car’s wheel. Combined with the fact that it had rained earlier in the day, the newspapers on the ground were full of mud.
“How much for these newspapers?” Pei Xuan immediately took out his wallet. “I will buy all of them.”
The newspaper collector was overjoyed, he gave Pei Xuan the price, afterwards he bent over and picked up the newspapers that were still clean and said, “These can still be used, bring them back to wipe your windows…”
He did not just collect old newspapers. Besides the newspapers, there were old books, old workbooks, and even a few… old tickets.
Ning Ning took a step forward, but Pei Xuan was faster than her.
“Let me help you.” He bent down and helped him pick up the old books and old newspapers, Ning Ning saw Pei Xuan putting the tickets into his pocket.
“It’s all muddy, aren’t you afraid of dirtying your clothes?” She walked over and reached into his pocket naturally. She rebuked, “I’m the one who washes the clothes anyway, won’t you feel any heartache?”
Pei Xuan immediately grabbed her hand and said with a smile, “I’m a person who wants to be a good husband, how could I let you wash my clothes? I will wash them.”
He even gave her hand a kiss upon finishing his sentence.
“You two have such a good relationship.” The newspaper collector looked at them enviously.
A good relationship? Are you serious?
Pei Xuan, “Hahahaha…”
Ning Ning, “Hahahaha…”
The two of them returned home, neither bothered with the old newspapers and old books in the boot. Ning Ning hugged her box which contained the wedding gown and smiled. “I want to try it on again.”
“You have already tried it on for the whole day, aren’t you tired?” Pei Xuan pressed on his temples impatiently.
“I’m not tired, no woman would ever get tired from trying on clothes.” Ning Ning answered.
“Alright.” Pei Xuan shrugged. “Quickly finish trying it on, then cook for me, I’m starving.”
“Okay.” Ning Ning went close to him and kissed him on the cheek, “I will cook your favourite herbal soup later.”
The doors opened on both sides of the car, the two of them got out, talking and laughing while they walked briskly back to the villa, as if they had just returned from a vacation. Both of them rescinded their fake smiles once they entered their separate rooms.
Pei Xuan locked his door and walked to his desk with huge strides. He took the few tickets out of his pocket and tossed them on the table, they were wrinkled and muddy which made them look terrible.
He took out a key and opened a drawer. Within the drawer was a letter, it was the letter that someone had sent to Yan Qing after her passing.
There was no letter in the envelope, as Pei Xuan had discarded it long ago.
Pei Xuan picked out a ticket from the pile of tickets on his table, slowly putting it into the envelope along with the other tickets after he cleaned them.
Afterwards, he put the envelope back into the drawer and closed it, locked the drawer and swept the rest of the tickets into the rubbish bin.
On the other side, Ning Ning also locked the room to her door. She tossed the box in her hands on the floor, opened it and felt around for the thing that was stuck in the wedding gown.
It was a Life Theater ticket.
“It’s actually the real thing…” Ning Ning inspected the ticket a few times, then she plopped her butt on the floor and bit her finger while she muttered, “What’s going on? How did he do it?”
From what she knew, a Life Theater ticket was something that was very hard to obtain. She did not know where she could buy them from or whom she could buy them from even up till now.
But within this month, Life Theater tickets had been appearing in front of them repeatedly. Not once, but three times.
“The first one was hidden in an envelope, the second in the wedding gown, the third in some old newspapers…” Ning Ning looked at the ticket in hand while questioning it, “What’s with the urgency? Why are you taking the initiative? What secrets does this house hold? What exactly did Pei Xuan do to lure you here?”
The ticket did not answer her.
Pei Xuan was even less likely to answer her.
Ning Ning felt very anxious, she thought that she was on the cusp of discovering the truth. She was just missing a few clues, she was on the verge of a breakthrough in her investigations.
Where would she be able to find that important clue?
Knock, knock, knock. Someone knocked on the door, Pei Xuan’s voice rang out from the outside, “Why did you lock the door? Do you need me to help pull the zipper up?”
Ning Ning frantically hid the ticket on her then put on a smile on her face as she opened the door. “It’s fine, come help me wash the vegetables.”
Pei Xuan immediately made a painful expression, “Can you pretend that I never came?”
“No!” Ning Ning grabbed his arm and dragged him to the kitchen.
The two of them washed the vegetables and cooked, looking like intimate lovers from the windows. No one expected that there was a person watching the two of them from outside the window.
Once they had finished dinner, Ning Ning went out to take the trash, and that was when the person jumped at her.
Ning Ning was startled, she asked, “What are you doing?”
“You have to give me an explanation!” With two red eyes and messy hair, Li Ping Ping looked like a fugitive now. “You promised me, you promised me!”
“What did I promise you?” Ning Ning struggled to pry Li Ping Ping’s fingers off her arm.
“You told me that if I beg you, you would break up with him!” Li Ping Ping said as she choked Ning Ning, “You lied to me! You are about to get married to him already! You even bought a wedding gown!”
How long exactly had she been loitering around the house? She even knew that they had bought a wedding gown.
“What are you doing?” Pei Xuan’s voice rang out from beside them, he seemed to have come out after hearing the commotion. He shouted from afar, “Let her go!”
Ning Ning felt bitterly disappointed. Even though his face looked anxious, his feet weren’t, he walked towards them with a speed slower than someone who came out (of the house) to bring in the newspaper.
But Li Ping Ping was deceived by his looks, or maybe she was unwilling to show the ugly side of her to him, thus she loosened her grip and turned tail to run.
“Cough, cough, cough, cough.” Ning Ning touched her neck as she coughed non-stop.
“Are you alright?” Pei Xuan had come to her side, he had her in a bridal carry before she noticed, and brought her from the outside back to his bedroom. He placed her on the bed and looked at her with pity, but also gently. “That woman was too much… waiting for me here.”
This time his movements quickened, he rushed out of the door. When he came back, he was holding a boiled egg in his hand. He rolled it over the bruise on Ning Ning’s neck and said, “This might be an old-fashioned method, but it is quite effective. My mom treated my bruises when I fell down during my childhood this way. Don’t move. Just sit there, I’ll do it.”
This kind of gentleness and care was completely different from his indifference when he was outside.
Why was he so different on the different side of the doors?
Ning Ning suddenly turned back and looked at the huge photo frame which was hanging behind her.
Yan Qing was wearing a white wedding gown, holding a bouquet of lilies as she smiled at Ning Ning from within the photo frame.
“Ah.” Ning Ning thought to herself, “I found it.”
She had found the clue.
The clue was—Pei Xuan would only treat her kindly in front of the photo frames.