I don’t know if it was the heat stroke or his evil intentions that affected him, but Zhong Yuan looked unwell. He lay down on the awning of the boat and closed his eyes. I leaned on the side of the boat and feasted my eyes on Lu Zijian in the other boat. He had released the oars and was using a bamboo to push against the bottom of the lake to make the boat move. The open lake provided a lovely backdrop and as he stood against this, he looked more and more powerful and handsome. The sunshine hit his bronzed skin and made him look masculine and energetic.
I looked at Lu Zijian and grinned to myself. At this precise moment, Zhong Yuan came over. Leaning with his elbow placed casually against my shoulder, he commented lazily, “ Enjoying the view?”
I was spell bound and answered him absent mindedly, “ He’s handsome.”
“ But he isn’t yours”, Zhong Yuan said.
His reply annoyed me. I turned my face and shook off his arm from my shoulder. Zhong Yuan continued smugly, “ Hey, did I touch a sore spot?”
I was a both embarrassed and annoyed, but I didn’t know what to say, except that this guy had really unveiled a sore point. I closed my eyes and tried to calm myself.
Lu Zijian was an extremely reserved person. I believed he was slow in recognising and acknowledging his own feelings. He was counting on me to approach him. I thought about it hard and decided a radical approach was required. As the idea firmed up in my mind, I opened my eyes, stood up and walked to the side of the boat. I pretended to admire the scenery. As if enamoured by the scenery, I took a step forward. In the next minute, I had plunged headlong into the water. As I fell, I shouted out in fright, “ Brother Lu Shi, help!” Then I plunged into the water and waited for the rescue.
I was silently admiring myself for coming up with such a brilliant idea in such a short time. I wasn’t afraid of water and was happy to wait atleast half an hour for the so- called rescue. Of course, there was no way I could let them know this fact. I had to pretend that I was accidentally drowning so that Lu Zijian could be the hero who would save the damsel in distress. I could just imagine how the scene would play out. He would worry about me taking in water, then I would pretend to be unconscious and he would attempt to artificially resuscitate me….
And this would open up the way for our first contact. After that, the rest would flow naturally, he he he….
I thought of all this as I graciously waited in the water for my rescue.
Soon, I was dragged out of the water. I kept my eyes closed and my limbs hanging weakly. I loved how he held me against his wide chest. I was almost drooling in delight.
After I was dragged onto the boat, I could feel someone pressing against my chest, trying to pump out the water I had accidentally swallowed. I spit out a few mouthfuls of water, but continued to keep my eyes closed. I heard Lu Zijian’s voice from some place near the top of my head, “ Zhong Yuan, why is she not waking up? Do you want to try artificial resuscitation ?”
Zhong Yuan’s voice was very close to me, “ I’ll try.”
So I suddenly realised that the person who had saved me was Zhong Yuan. Zhong Yuan ! I opened my eyes immediately and spotted Zhong Yuan bowing down his head. I raised my hand just in time to cover his mouth and smiled, “ Umm.. I ..I am fine.”
He looked relieved when he saw me open my eyes, but his expression soon turned into anger as he pushed my hand away, “ So you were only pretending all this while?’
“ Not at all!” I got up from the boat floor and avoided his eyes.
“ Mu Er!” Zhong Yuan’s face loomed in my vision and there was a fire in his eyes, “ this kind of joke can kill a person and you know it!”
I lowered my head in annoyance, “ I can swim very well. I don’t want to bother you.”
“ You…” Zhong Yuan’s chest was undulating as he hyper ventilated, showing me how angry he really was. He paused for a while, then continued in an angry tone, “ Fine. I don’t care whether you live or die!” Spitting out these words at me, he walked to the stern of the boat and sat down with his back to me, no longer wishing to continue the conversation.
I was stunned at his over the top reaction, then turned my face to look at him. Lu Zijian scratched his head, looked at me doubtfully then turned to look at Zhong Yuan. He was probably wondering why we were fighting like this. Actually, even I was wondering the same thing. This was just a prank and yet, Zhong Yuan was genuinely angry. I had seldom seen him lose his temper like this. This kid was evil incarnate, but he had always maintained an amiable manner. I was dumbfounded with his reaction.
Lu Zijian hesitated , then finally said, “ Mu Er, actually Zhong yuan was really worried.”
Before I could respond, Zhong Yuan immediately turned back and barked at Lu Zijian,” Lu Zijian, shut up. Don’t talk to her.”
Lu Zijian shut up immediately.
Suddenly, I felt very courageous. Zhong Yuan, if you are trying to bully me, I can let you. But how dare you bully Lu zijian? So I angrily shouted back at him, “ What are you saying to Lu Zijian?”
Zhong Yuan sneered, “ I am talking to Lu Zijian. Why are you butting in?”
I groaned and finally shut up in anger. Verbal spats were not my strength and Zhong Yuan seemed to be in a very violent, albeit inexplicable, frame of mind.
The whole atmosphere was cold, and none of the four people spoke. The boat slid across the water slowly and passed a bunch of lotus flowers. I caught the faint fragrance of lotus and my heart calmed. Miss Fourth picked a large flower and tucked it in her ear. She looked funny. She sat next to me as she peeled a few other flowers and snacked on the seeds. She asked me if I wanted any. I shook my head. I was not in the mood.
Miss Fourth whispered, “Idiot!”
My hearing was really good so I immediately heard her remark and asked, “ What do you mean?”
She looked straight at me and said aloud, “ I said that you are an idiot and Zhong Yuan is really unlucky!”
I rolled my eyes and replied, “ Then you are still naïve. Why are you talking about Zhong Yuan?”
“ Crap!” Miss Fourth knocked on my head with a lotus stem, “ because the onlookers are clear, everyone knows what Zhong Yuan has done for you, and what you did to him.”
I pushed away the stem, “ For example? Why do I feel that he has just been bullying me?”
Miss Fourth took another lotus and knocked me on the head with the stem again. She said, “ Please ! Zhong Yuan thought that you really had an accident and rescued you from the water. Isn’t that a good thing to do? I was really scared as well, but he was the one who reacted the quickest. You said you can swim well, but at that time none of us knew that. It looked like you fell into the water and there was a real danger that you would drown. Who knew that you were just playing a prank?Truthfully, forget Zhong Yuan, even I feel like kicking you now.”
I bowed my head and sighed “ Did I go too far…”
“ You don’t think so ? Would you dare say no? Tell me you don’t think that you unnecessarily scared people, that you took the prank too far..’
I let her knock my head and then whispered, “ I was wrong..”
Miss Fourth then took the lotus in my hand and started peeling it. I suddenly realised that I had taken the prank too far. In fact, this plan of mine could have turned out to be dangerous. In the eyes of everyone, Zhong Yuan had risked his life to save me. I hadn’t even thanked him. Not only that, I had asked him not to poke his nose in my business. This kind of joke , playing on the natural human fear of death was really shameless.
I was guilty!
So I stared at the sleeve of Miss Fourth and tears fell, “ I sincerely apologise to all of you.”
Miss Fourth pushed away my hand impatiently and continued to peel the lotus seeds. “ Go away, why should you apologise. Just stay away from me!”
After being dismissed peremptorily by Miss fourth I quietly stepped towards Zhong Yuan.
Miumiu – thank you for the overwhelming comments. As long as get 15 comments, I will release the next chapter. So keep them coming ! I love to hear your thoughts…