Chapter 6 - Family Dinner
The Gu Family’s villa consisted of three levels. The first floor contained the living room, the second floor was where the Gu parents resided, and, finally, the third floor was left to Gu Jin and her younger brother, Gu Teng.
Gu Jin’s hand swept over the cool, white European handrails as she made her way towards the third floor. She turned upon reaching the first room on her right, which was her bedroom. She pushed the door open to reveal a beige wall filled with purple dandelions. The room was adorned with an ivory collection, while the wardrobe emitted a fresh, lavender scent. One could see that, even if she didn’t return home often, someone would still keep the room clean.
Her bedroom exuded plain elegance with a mild warmth consistent with the original host’s temperament. Within this light-colored arrangement, the desk by the window sill appeared unusually obscure. Several famous poetry collections rested on the table with annotations the host left behind. The handwriting was refined, just like its owner.
For the next twenty minutes, Gu Jin relieved her boredom by reading over the notes and poems in those books. Gu Jin rubbed her aching shoulder and sighed. The original host was such an intellectual. When she compared the comics she read in her phone to the original host’s elegant tastes, Gu Jin suddenly felt somewhat embarrassed.
She felt this shame for two seconds, then moved on by brushing away such negative thoughts. Then, she leisurely laid on her bed, pulled out her cellphone, and began to browse.
No way am I going to act like an elegant scholar. I’m just a passerby who ended up transmigrating into a character’s body by accident. The life I have now isn’t the kind I’ve experienced before. In my previous life, I never had time for myself. In this new world, I shall eat, drink, and enjoy myself freely from now on.
Around four-thirty in the afternoon, Zhao Yi, a cook who had worked for the Gu Family for many years, arrived to prepare dinner. Gu Jin took a shower and changed her outfit before heading downstairs. Father Gu sat on the balcony, reading a newspaper, while Gu Teng sat on the sofa. On a closer look, it seemed related to computers.
Gu Jin sighed once again. No doubt, the Gu Family was worthy of being called scholarly. Each of its members were masters at studying, and their eagerness to learn existed on a whole separate level above ordinary people.
For example, Gu Teng was about to take the college entrance exams when he hadn’t turned even a page in his review book. This teenager only studied the subjects he was interested in. Not only did their parents not scold him, but they also seemed to have given up on trying to convince him at this point. Perhaps it was because they were very confident in their son’s ability.
Recalling the host’s memories of her previous life, Gu Jin discovered that Gu Teng was accepted as a computer science major at Imperial University. When she thought about that, Gu Jin felt that this brat was suddenly quite admirable.
“Aunt Zhao, let’s have sweet-and-sour pork ribs for dinner tonight,” Gu Teng ordered while reading a page.
“All right!” Aunt Zhao’s loud voice resounded from the kitchen. She was usually quite relaxed. However, at that moment, her heart felt slightly confused. If she recalled correctly, Little Teng disliked anything with a sweet and sour taste. On the other hand, concerning sweet and sour flavors, Aunt Zhao couldn’t help but think of a particular person.
As a straightforward woman, the aunt immediately voiced her thoughts. “Unfortunately, Little Jin isn’t with us today. She enjoys eating the sweet-and-sour pork ribs that I make.”
Just after speaking, Aunt Zhao remembered that the relationship between the two siblings wasn’t very good. How could she have let that slip out? She could only secretly pray that Gu Teng didn’t hear her.
When she came out of the kitchen to deliver the dishes, she saw Gu Jin standing behind Gu Teng. Her eyes widened with surprise, and she exclaimed, “Little Jin, you’re home! I was wondering why Little Teng had asked me to cook sweet-and-sour ribs.”
Gu Teng turned his head and looked behind him. His eyes suddenly caught Gu Jin’s stare, causing him to blush for a moment. He quickly turned back around and grunted, but he didn’t deny the aunt’s words. The boy flipped through his book and pretended to read once again.
As someone with a sister-complex, Gu Teng was already aware early on when Gu Jin arrived home. He had waited by his window for a long time, but he never saw anyone enter through the door. When Gu Jin finally arrived, Gu Teng wanted to rush out and greet her. However, he was afraid that, if he approached her, they might end up arguing again, which might cause her to leave. Therefore, as soon as he heard Gu Jin’s voice, he immediately ran down the stairs toward her. To keep his temper in check, he tried hard not to mention Cheng Xin in their conversations. He never expected that his silly sister would suddenly be enlightened! Even so, he still felt anxious at the thought of upsetting her again.
From time to time, he glanced up at Gu Jin nervously, but she seemed just fine.
Meanwhile, Gu Jin allowed Aunt Zhao to continue with her duties. Now that they’d seen each other, the aunt grinned happily as she returned to the kitchen.
By the time Li Mingxia returned home, it was almost six o’clock. As soon as Mrs. Gu entered through the door, Gu Jin realized where she and her brother had inherited their good looks. Li Mingxia was two years younger than Gu Changsheng. After being married to him for decades, Father Gu never burdened her with any work in the kitchen.
Both of Mrs. Gu’s children had matured, but time seemed to favor Li Mingxia, leaving no trace of aging on her. Although she was nearly fifty years old, her hair still shone a lustrous black and her eyes were still bright with vitality. She carried elegance and dignity in every fiber of her being. She was simply exquisite.
When Mrs. Gu arrived home, she appeared quite troubled. Upon seeing her daughter, who rarely returned home, she barely managed to smile.
“Little Jin, you look like you’ve lost some weight. Have you been eating well?” She squeezed Gu Jin’s slender wrists and continued, “You and Cheng Xin live together, and you’re both still young. You two should take good care of yourselves. Don’t try to lose so much weight. Dieting is bad for your health.”
Gu Jin had never experienced such motherly love in her previous life. Nodding eagerly, she replied in embarrassment, “I’ll remember that.”
When Father Gu noticed that his wife had returned home, he immediately put his newspaper down and walked to her side to politely take her bag. He pushed Gu Jin to the side, out of sight. She seriously doubted that this romantic man was the same person as her serious, old-fashioned father.
Zhao Yi’s cooking was very delicious. The food was full of color and fragrance, and the dishes were neatly arranged on the table. Such a display successfully whetted Gu Jin’s appetite. Despite that, when she looked at the couple, who sat in silence, she didn’t dare to either move her chopsticks nor touch the food. Even the arrogant Gu Teng, who was usually noisy, completely quieted down.
In the middle of this awkward silence, Father Gu spoke up, “Mingxia, you see that Gu Jin rarely comes home. Let’s have dinner first. Then, we’ll talk about things later.”
Mother Gu’s solemn face finally brightened up with a smile. She took the initiative to put a rib on Gu Jin’s plate and encouraged, “This is your favorite. Come on, eat more.”
Feeling slightly apprehensive, Gu Jin picked up her chopsticks and chewed the meat. She glanced at her mother to her left, and then at her father’s serious face to her right. Finally, she lowered her head and continued to eat her meal in dread.
After dinner, Gu Teng approached Gu Jin to ask for the name of the game that she got for him.
As Gu Jin applied a face mask to her skin, she replied, “I put it in mother’s bedroom. She said she would give it to you after you have finished your exam. Otherwise, would you like to ask her for it first?”
Gu Teng thought, My sister became cunning. He didn’t lack the money to buy a computer game. He only cared that this game was one that his sister “specially” bought for him.
“Do you know what’s going on with our parents right now?” Gu Jin asked.
“I know why,” Gu Teng answered as he glanced at her thoughtfully, wondering if she had completely forgotten the event. Finally, he continued, “Grandma will be visiting in a few days.”
What’s wrong about Grandma coming over? Gu Jin tried to think of a reason before responding to her brother. What did he mean by her coming over? That’s right! Whenever Grandma Gu visited, Gu Ling would come along as well! Gu Jin recalled this name with distaste.
This dislike wasn’t her own, but the original host’s. Gu Ling was someone who could cause the refined host to react in disgust. That was because this cousin had an unrestrained and explosive character.
Gu Ling was a character who was mentioned numerous times in the novel. Gu Jin, who had read the novel in her previous world, knew a few things about her. There was more to Gu Jin’s distaste for her than a bad impression. Gu Ling was not truly blood-related. In truth, Grandma Gu adopted and raised her in the countryside.
Decades ago, when the political turmoil rocked the nation, Grandpa Gu and his family suffered many losses. As a result, he joined other educated youths in moving to the countryside, where he ended up staying for a few years before marrying one of the local women. At that time, Gu Changsheng was born, along with a younger brother named Gu Changning.
After rehabilitating in the countryside, Grandpa Gu returned to the city, where he was admitted into the university. Most men left their women and children in the countryside. Unlike them, Grandpa Gu returned to the countryside to bring his wife—Grandma Gu—and their children, away from their familiar village and into the city with him.
When their son Gu Changning turned nineteen, he encountered a ruffian who was robbing a helpless woman on the streets. He had barely managed to save the victim when he was dealt two fatal knife wounds on his abdomen. He died before reaching the hospital.
Ever since her son’s death, Grandma Gu often thought about her youngest son. Being unaccustomed to city life, she returned to her hometown in the countryside. Because Grandma Gu lived in a rural area without her husband, it was no wonder that she had heard the feudal idea of leaving behind a “seed” for Mr. Gu by adopting a child.
Their surviving son, Gu Changsheng, agreed that adopting another child wouldn’t burden their family. Contrarily, he believed adoption would be beneficial. If his elderly parents spent time raising a child, it would help to ease their loneliness. As such, he disregarded Li Mingxia’s opposition and privately agreed. The adopted child was Gu Ling. She was also the reason why Gu Jin’s parents were conflicted.
In the novel, although the original Gu Jin didn’t like Gu Ling, she still occasionally invited her out to socialize to show respect toward her grandmother and father. However, they never expected this to turn into a case of “a farmer raising a snake.”
Gu Ling was six months older than Gu Teng, and she was very prideful. She wanted to marry a rich, young man and become a lady of the upper classes. Nothing was wrong with this idea, except that she chose to aim for men that were out of her league. First, she coveted Gu Jin’s boyfriend, Shao Chong. Then, she changed her mind and aimed for Jing Hao, who had more money than Shao Chong.
Later in the story, although no one knew what happened, Jing Hao somehow felt pity and compassion for Gu Ling. This triggered a quarrel between the male and female protagonists. Gu Ling’s involvement almost destroyed Cheng Xin’s and the former Gu Jin’s sisterhood!
The present Gu Jin naturally wouldn’t care about the measly friendship between the original host and the female protagonist. Whichever man Gu Ling desired, if she had the ability, just let her catch him. Gu Jin had no complaints whatsoever. Additionally, if Gu Ling wanted to use her as a stepping stool, as she did to the original host, Gu Jin didn’t mind crushing her under her feet.
However, right now, she had more pressing issues to deal with. For example, she received a reminder from the School Literature Society.
* * *
The assistant carefully placed a stack of documents on his employer’s desk. “Sir, this is the information you wanted investigated.”
“All right, just leave it there,” Mu Mingcheng absentmindedly replied. Without looking up, he remained absorbed by reading the documents in his hands.
The assistant carefully closed the door and heaved a sigh of relief. These past two days, Mr. Mu’s mood seemed to have soured strongly. The ones who took the brunt of his mood were his closest subordinates, who were afraid of making any mistakes while they carried out his orders.
After some time, Mr. Mu put down his documents. His gaze shifted to the new stack of papers as he smiled contemptuously. When he removed his glasses, the light that shone from his eyes seemed to reveal a cold, heartless gaze that could no longer be hidden. However, upon closer inspection, his eyes didn’t show any symptoms of nearsightedness at all.