1444 His mother chastises him.
"How's the trip?"
Qu Jingwan sat on the bench and held the cup of tea Madam Ji had poured for her. She choked and lowered her head. "Auntie, don't ask."
"Why can't I ask? You're our Ji family's future daughter-in-law. If I don't stand up for you, who will?" The older woman wanted to pick up the phone and call her son at the thought of this young lady getting bullied by him but was stopped by her.
"Don't bother him. He'll think that I tattled to you about him for you to stand up for me."
"Silly lass, don't say things like that. Ziming is my son and won't think like so." The elderly madam tried getting the phone back, she held onto it tightly.
Tears streamed down her face, her red eyes complementing her haggard look.
"Listen to me: Don't bother him. He doesn't know that I'm back home."
"You're sparing a thought for him; what a good lass you are. Alright, alright, alright. I won't call. You can tell me what he did to you. I promise not to question him." The older woman patted her hand and the heartache in the former's eyes baffled the latter for a moment into thinking that this woman was her mother.
"I'm alright." She shook her head, and when she thought of her future with Qu Qingyu, she reminded herself again and again that she must make this woman side with her for her to enter the wedding chapel with Ji Ziming more smoothly and truly become this household's mistress.
"If you don't tell me, I'll go ask my son." Madam Ji pretended to threaten her.
"Don't! Don't ask him." She hurriedly shook her head, and the unwillingness in her eyes made the other even more heartbroken for her.
The older woman looked at the caretakers a distance away and ordered, "Prepare some of Jingwan's favorite dishes tonight to nourish her. She's only out for some time, yet she's become skinnier."
"Alright, madam." The caretakers nodded and walked into the house.
"Alright. Tell me how my son bullied you, lass. Don't be afraid of him; he's your future husband. Sooner or later, he'll know that what you're doing is for him. Don't be scared; don't be scared."
"Auntie, I'm the one who let him down. I shouldn't have done that."
Her vague words made the older woman confused on what had happened.
"What did you do?"
"I shouldn't have vied for your son with Pei Ge."
"This is complete nonsense. Who is she? She's just my grandson's mother. Other than that, she's nothing else. She's only related to the Ji family because of it; if not for that, I would've chased her out long ago."
Qu Jingwan lowered her head and triumph flashed across her eyes as she said pitifully, "Last night, your son sought me and said that he wanted to bring me out for a stroll. Just as he told me that, Pei Ge came looking for him for some matters, so I let him go to settle those. I waited for him till midnight, but he didn't come back. Just as I was thinking of why he wasn't back yet, that woman sent me a message."
She paused and bent over the table as she started crying.
"What did she say?" Seeing how depressed she looked, the older woman's mind was in a mess.
"S-She… She told me not to vie with her for your son, or else she'll make me regret it. She even said that this time was a lesson for me."
"She really said that?"
"Auntie, do you not believe me?'
She lifted her head, and the tears in her eyes made her look so pitiful. The grievance made the older woman feel that her son could not decide between the two women, when this young lady was clearly their family's publicly acknowledged, future daughter-in-law.
"Jingwan, don't be scared; auntie will uphold justice for you."
"Don't go looking for your son; I'm afraid of him misunderstanding it. This is something between me and Pei Ge and has nothing to do with him."
"Sigh… You're too sensible. You only know how to spare a thought for others but not yourself."
"Thank you for comforting me, auntie."
"Silly lass, we're a family; you needn't be so formal with me."
She gently wiped the tears off her face and said in a nasal voice, "Auntie, I… I'm not here to tell you these. Seriously, I just suddenly couldn't control myself because you're just like my mother. It's comforting to be with you."
"We're a family. I'm your mother, and you're already part of the family, so why aren't you changing the way you address me?"
"Auntie, I…" She smiled with tears in her eyes, and though her exquisite, oval face appeared tired, it still could not conceal her sharp and lively eyes.
"Alright. Retreat to your room for a good rest first. Have more food during dinner tonight as all are your favorite dishes. As long as I'm in this family, nobody will dare bully you. Let alone Pei Ge, even my son can't. You're the daughter-in-law recognized by this family, and nobody can replace you; do you understand?"
"I understand. Thanks, auntie. Without you, I don't even know where I can air these grievances."
"Next time, with auntie around, Pei Ge won't be able to bully you, so don't worry."
"I'll return to my room, then."
"Go ahead. Take a nice shower and sleep; you still have me if anything happens."
"Alright, then, auntie; I'll head back to my room. Baby, I'll go back to my room for now." Qu Jingwan smiled at the boy and waved. "I'll play with you again tonight, alright?"
"Okay." Ji Chi pursed his lips and nodded.
"Go and rest. When you're done, I'll call you down for dinner."
"Mhm, auntie; I'll get going."
"Go, go. Rest well."
Madam Ji waited for the lady to enter the mansion before calling her son.
Ji Ziming and Pei Ge, including their children, were in the furniture shop on the ninth floor. When the man saw that the caller was his mother, he informed his woman that he would visit the washroom before walking away.
"You still know to call me 'mom'. Look at how you've bullied Jingwan!" His mother chided him angrily over the phone. "What's so good about Pei Ge that you're getting involved with her again? Don't tell me that your official fiancée is way more inferior than her? I don't see how she loses out to her in any way."
"What did that woman tell you?"
"What else could she say? She's been crying non-stop from the moment she got back and wouldn't tell me no matter how much I asked."
"Mom, things didn't happen like what you're thinking."
"If they didn't, then how did they happen? Are you trying to anger me to death?!"
"Wait for me to return home and explain everything to you."
"I don't think you have to come back; just stay outside with Pei Ge. You don't even want your mother anymore; I also won't tell your father this in case he worries. I really don't get you."
"Just wait for me to explain it all to you when I get back." He raised his brow, and the chilliness in his eyes intensified.
Someone informed him this morning that Qu Jingwan had gone back to his family's house, but he did not expect her to invert the truth so quickly. It was best for his parents not to know about the truth. There was no benefit in them knowing the truth, and it would just create more problems if they got embroiled in all these, too.