“Jiaojiao?” Xu Qing hurriedly yelled as soon as she returned home.
Sheng Jiaoyang sat up and moved her gaze towards Xu Qing.
Xu Qing was stunned as she felt that her daughter had changed a lot.
“Why do you look so thin? Is the competition wearing you out?” Xu Qing’s heart hurt for her daughter.
“No, it’s just that I’m more toned now.”
Sheng Jiaoyang couldn’t stand being looked at with such worry, so she hurriedly stood up and spun in front of Xu Qing as proof.
Xu Qing then smiled as her daughter seemed more lively than before. Now, she had no time to think about anything else; she just wanted to improve her daughter’s health.
Just look at that skinny body. Even the meat on her cheeks was gone!
“Jiaojiao, you rest at home, and I'll go buy the ingredients to cook something.” Xu Qing then headed out.
Sheng Jiaoyang immediately followed, and taking Xu Qing’s hand, they walked out together as she said, “There’s no need to cook today, we can go out to eat and celebrate.”
“But…” Xu Qing was filled with concern. She knew that her daughter had money, but with school starting soon, and the amount required for fees, it would be better to start saving now.
“No buts. I know what you’re worrying about, but don’t. I have enough money to cover my tuition and fees for the next few years.”
Xu Qing stopped, then turned to look at Sheng Jiaoyang and asked, “Jiaojiao, what kind of paintings are you selling to make so much money?”
It was not that she didn’t believe her daughter, but she didn’t know that her daughter had a talent at drawing as she’d never seen any of her artwork before. Moreover, she herself had no talent for art, so she found it hard to imagine what kind of paintings would sell for a high price.
“You wouldn’t understand the concept even if I told you. To put it simply: I went to the old part of town in the Business District to sell paintings the other day, and then a super-rich man took a fancy to my painting. He found my painting an artistic creation, and thought that if he paid too little for it, he’d be letting down a masterpiece. Thus, in the end, he paid a hefty sum of money for it.”
Sheng Jiaoyang’s words were rather misleading, but she couldn’t tell the truth. How could she say that she’d unfortunately met with Demon King Shen the other day, but was then fortunate enough to receive money from him?
Even if she said it, nobody would believe her!
“Jiaojiao, could you tell Mother how much your painting sold for?” Xu Qing asked cautiously as she looked at Sheng Jiaoyang’s expression.
Sheng Jiaoyang thought for a moment and decided to tell her to save her from worrying about it.
She then stuck out her index finger.
“Ten thousand?” Xu Qing felt that this number was still within a reasonable range.
“Pftt! Ten thousand isn’t even enough to pay the rental deposit for our apartment,” Sheng Jiaoyang giggled as she commented. Indeed, people who were used to being poor were less open-minded about spending money.
A certain person had apparently forgotten that she’d initially wanted to ask Demon King Shen for that same amount of money as she’d needed some quick money back then.
“One hundred thousand?” This number exceeded Xu Qing’s imagination, and her eyes widened in disbelief.
What kind of painting would cost one hundred thousand?! It would take her two or three years to earn so much money. If it was a famous painter selling their work for this amount, then she would easily believe it. But, Jiaojiao was only a young girl who’d just completed her university entrance exam!
“One million,” Sheng Jiaoyang answered, not beating around the bush.
Those two words were earth-shattering and shocked Xu Qing speechless. One million! If they didn’t buy a house and a car, then this money was enough to feed them for the rest of their lives.
“Jiaojiao, you really are too awesome!” After a good while, Xu Qing gradually returned to her senses.
“Therefore, you don’t have to worry about me as I can make money by selling my artwork. In the future, I’ll be able to earn even more money. If you don’t want to work, then don’t. You don’t need to be responsible for anyone because I’ll take care of you,” Sheng Jiaoyang said earnestly.
In that instant, Xu Qing’s eyes reddened as her daughter had said similar words in the past. But, back then, even though she was touched, she felt that her daughter was still young. At the least, she had to complete university to achieve such a good wish. Yet, now it was different as her daughter had proved it wasn’t just an empty promise.
At this moment, she felt that raising her daughter on her own after her divorce was the best choice she'd ever made in her life. All those thoughtless remarks onlookers had made over the past few years didn't matter, and those were nothing in comparison to her daughter's words of ‘I’ll take care of you.’
Sheng Jiaoyang reached out to hug Xu Qing.
“You should be happy. I’ll no longer be your burden.”
“No, you were never a burden. You’re the reason that I can live on.” Xu Qing’s voice was a bit choked, but her tone was firm.
Sheng Jiaoyang was greatly moved from the bottom of her heart. She’d also had a great mother. Her mother had steadfastly given birth to her despite knowing that her health would be in danger. In order to take care of her for a few years, her mother had miraculously overcome the doctor’s diagnosis, and she’d stayed in this world for more than five years.
Xu Qing was a delicate woman, but she was indeed a good mother. For Xu Jiaojiao, she must’ve suffered.
“In the future, I’ll be your pride,” Sheng Jiaoyang took a step back as she spoke.
“You’ve always been my pride.”
Sheng Jiaoyang grabbed a tissue from the tissue box placed by the entrance to wipe Xu Qing’s tears before saying playfully, “Let’s go! Your little pride will now take you to dinner!”
Xu Qing then broke into laughter.
As a particularly picky eater, good food in Shen Jiaoyang's eyes didn't necessarily equal a so-called high-class fancy dinner. It was excellent as long as the food was well-prepared, delicious, and exquisite.
In an alley on College Road, there was a private restaurant. The owner was an eccentric man who wholeheartedly pursued a variety of delicious dishes. His store had been open for 30 years.
The first time Sheng Jiaoyang had been to this place was when her mother had brought her here. Later, after living abroad for nearly a decade, the first thing she’d done after returning was to come to this place and order a table full of dishes. The taste was still as good as the one in her memory.
Sheng Jiaoyang led Xu Qing through a maze of roads before turning into an alleyway.
Old buildings still remained in the area. Under the quintessential gable-and-hip roof with pronounced dragon-spine ridges and upturned flying eaves, there was a greenish-black brick wall with compelling cloud patterns. Even the alleyway was paved with bluestones.
“Jiaojiao, are you sure you’re going the right way? It’s all residential housing here,” Xu Qing asked with uncertainty.
“Don’t worry, I’ve eaten here before. I know where I’m going.”
After saying that, Sheng Jiaoyang stopped outside a carved, red lacquered wooden door.
When she opened the door, the first thing they saw was a lush vegetable field. In the middle of the vegetable field there was a half meter wide gravel road. On both sides of the door, there was a greenstone road that led around the vegetable field and extended to the entrance of the lobby.
There were several portraits of deceased ancestors on the wall in the lobby, and a screen with a landscape painting on the side.
Where did this place look like a restaurant?!
Just as Xu Qing wanted to turn around, Sheng Jiaoyang pulled her in and walked past the screen, into the house.
By the door, there was a cash register. A young woman was sitting behind it while looking through an account book.
Seeing the approaching people, the woman wasn’t surprised. She only asked, “A table for how many?”
“Just the two of us,” Sheng Jiaoyang answered.
“There are many guests today, so the private room is fully booked. Only the loft is available at the moment. Do you mind?” replied the woman.
“No problem. It just so happens that from the loft we can see your family’s fish pond.”
There was a hint of surprise in the woman’s eyes. She guessed that the other person must’ve eaten here while she was away.
“Then, what do you want to eat today?”
“I would like to have a two-person fish feast, and two bowls of treasure rice.” Sheng Jiaoyang looked at the woman’s growing belly and said, “Please, just sit down. I know the way to the loft.”
“Alright, take a seat first, and I’ll have someone send you up some light refreshments and tea,” the woman said with a smile.
Sheng Jiaoyang lead Xu Qing further inside, turned a few corners, and went up to the loft.
The windows in the attic were the kind of old-style windows that opened outwards, and since they were all open, a warm breeze blew inside.
There was air conditioning inside the private room, but there wasn’t any in the loft. So, most people would book the private room.
In each corner of the attic there was a table with multiple chairs. However, the last corner was rather interesting as there were two bookcases set up instead. Through the glass doors, one could see that they were full of books. In front of the bookcases, there was a piano that looked quite old.
“Don’t tell me that this area used to be a study?” Xu Qing commented after looking around.
“In the past, this room was a playroom. It belonged to the owner’s granddaughter; the woman who was at the entrance.” When Sheng Jiaoyang was a child, she used to play here. At that time, she’d put various toys around the room.
The owner doted on his granddaughter. None of his other grandchildren had received this kind of treatment as they didn't have their own entertainment rooms.
In just a flash, so many years had passed.
Unconsciously, Sheng Jiaoyang had approached the piano. She turned her head and looked at Xu Qing before sitting down.
Since she’d already become Xu Jiaojiao, she should just introduce Xu Qing to her new daughter.
The crisp notes blended together and turned into a beautiful, melodious tune.
This was her favourite piece of music, and it was the one she most often played. Additionally, since it was so easy to play, she didn’t need to look at the score.
Meanwhile, Xu Qing was stunned.
Her daughter was unexpectedly a genius!
Under the veranda that separated the attic from the fish pond, there were a few people passing by. A young man walking amongst them stopped abruptly.
“President Shen? What’s wrong?” a middle-aged man who was leading the group asked, halting quickly.
“Nothing.” The man remained calm and collected as he glanced at the loft, then continued to move forward.Previous Chapter Next Chapter