“Nanqing!” Su Beimo ran out from the first floor of the company without an umbrella, snowflakes fell on his brow, the top of his hair, and his shoulders. He stepped on the thin melting snow on the ground and exhaled a mouthful of white mist, “Let’s go, no overtime today.”
Liao Nanqing was still carrying the midnight snack he just bought in his hand, but it was so cold that it was probably already cold: “Then don’t eat this, I’ll make you something else to eat at home.”
“Is it cold? You really don’t need to bring me a midnight snack every day.”
“But I want to wait for you to go home together.”
Every day during overtime, Liao Nanqing would come to deliver midnight snacks, and then sit alone at the reception desk on the first floor to play with the phone for a while, reading current affairs news and scrolling entertainment gossip. When Su Beimo was done, they would go home together. Occasionally they would walk, at times they would ride bicycles, and more often than not, Su Beimo would take a taxi.
The last bus had already left by the time Su Beimo finished work.
The apartment was not far away, so it didn’t cost much to take a taxi. Besides, if he worked overtime past nine o’clock, he would be reimbursed by the company.
It was snowing today, and neither of them had an umbrella. But they held hands and strolled in the night of falling snow.
Liao Nanqing was wearing a thick knitted scarf and tugged Su Beimo’s hand: “It’s about to be final exams, and I’m going on winter vacation.”
“I really envy you.”
“Don’t be envious, I’ll go to work at Sister Lin’s.” He thought about it and asked Su Beimo, “What about…New Year this year?”
“Let’s see, I will contact Auntie.” Although Su Jing ironically cut off contact with Su Beimo, Su Ya still communicated with Su Beimo privately. What was said between them, Su Beimo never mentioned it to Liao Nanqing.
To the Su family, Liao Nanqing was now a forbidden word, no one could mention him.
At the end, Liao Nanqing changed the topic: “Lin jie and Zhang ge are planning to hold a wedding in the future, but they have been very busy recently. I have to go to the store to help more.”
“After that, we are going to prepare red packets.” Su Beimo squeezed Liao Nanqing’s face, stopped, and asked him warmly, “Nanqing, if we have time, shall we have a wedding too?”
Under the streetlight, the snowflakes seemed to have turned into transparent glass. It reflected Liao Nanqing’s eyes, deep, starry and good-looking. In the early snow today, there was no time to cool down. He didn’t know if there would be snow on the road when he got up in the morning. As in previous years, there was a vast expanse of whiteness in the eye.
At this time, the world was bright.
Liao Nanqing reached out and wiped off the tiny droplets of water from the melting snow on his nose, moved away and softened his voice worriedly: “Can we do it too?”
“Yes, it’s better to go abroad. We will have our honeymoon after the wedding, okay?” Su Beimo promised him with a smile, the corners of his eyes curved like a warm spring breeze in the winter.
“And who do we call? Will anyone come?” Liao Nanqing asked timidly, clutching his hands tightly.
However, Su Beimo raised his eyebrows and joked: “It costs a lot to go abroad. How many people do you want to call? Only the protagonists need to be there.”
“Two people also cost a lot of money.” Only then did Liao Nanqing loosened up and said in distress: “It takes a long time to save.”
“Yeah, but I’ll try my best.” Su Beimo kissed his forehead, “Try my best to take you abroad to get the wedding done, try my best to buy a house in City B, and we settle down.”
Work hard so that our future would be promising.
Liao Nanqing’s ears burned and he was lightly coaxed by Su Beimo’s sweet words. He quietly pursed the corners of his mouth and nodded his head vigorously, “Yes, I’ll work hard together too.” He wrapped his arms around Su Beimo’s neck and took the initiative to kiss him, “You have to work harder.” After saying that, he laughed out loud.
At 11 o’clock in the morning on January 18th, Liao Nanqing finished his last exam. From now on, his winter vacation began.
He took out his cell phone and sent a message to Su Beimo, who was on a business trip: [The exam is over, it’s freedom!]
[I’m coming back this afternoon, I did a good job on this business trip. I’ll apply for days off, we’ll go to Phuket, Thailand to play for a few days to avoid the winter.]
[You can also go there during the New Year, so you don’t need to ask for leave.]
[It’s too crowded on those days.] Su Beimo replied back to him, [People with good work just have more holidays, there’s no choice.]
Liao Nanqing sent a big smile emoji over, thought about it and felt it was not enough, and sent a compliment emoji again.
It often snowed in City B these days, all of which were light snow. There was only slight snow on the roof and green belt of the whole city, and the rest was still ordinary scenery in winter. After the snow fell, there would be days when the sun was extraordinarily good, not even like the biting cold winter. Liao Nanqing enjoyed the lazy wind and went to the school canteen to have lunch in a happy mood.
The food in the cafeteria was average, but Liao Nanqing was not a very picky eater. He looked at the time, and it was almost time to get up and go to Lin Quan’s store.
But as soon as he stepped out of the cafeteria, he received a call from a stranger.
He said it was a stranger, but it was not. Liao Nanqing remembered this number, it was Li Qin’s newly changed number. He didn’t save it at that time, but he was particularly impressed with the four numbers ending in 3636.
It had been a whole semester since he met Li Qin in a hurry after the college entrance examination.
“Hello.” With a nervous mood, he connected the phone.
“Nanqing, it’s me, it’s mom.”
Liao Nanqing’s Adam’s apple moved up and down without answering. He looked up, the sunlight was unexpectedly blinding.
Not far away, Ge Yun, not knowing when she was here, waved at him, pointed to the blue sky, and shouted cheerfully: “The weather is good——do you want to buy milk tea together?”
At the same time, accompanied by Li Qin’s weak, and seemingly immersed in rainy words: “Your grandma is sick, can you go and see her? She misses you very much. We are at your school gate now, Nanqing, come here. Mother has a few words to say to you.”
Liao Nanqing didn’t know that it was a lie, he never thought that Li Qin, as a mother, would bring him into another hell after abandoning him.
He gripped the phone tightly and finally spoke under Li Qin’s constant sincere urging, “Okay, I’ll come over.”
Even if he knew that his grandmother didn’t like him or miss him; he had always been a thorn in the eyes and a thorn in the flesh of those people.
At four o’clock in the afternoon on January 18, there was no news from Liao Nanqing for four hours.
Su Beimo was looking for someone to find Ge Yun’s phone number.
Ge Yun wondered: “How do you have my number?”
“Asked Xu Yanyan for it, I had left my number with him once before.” Su Beimo did not say much to get to the point, “Do you know where Nanqing went after the exam?”
“Nanqing? What happened to Nanqing?” Ge Yun recalled, “I met him at the entrance of the cafeteria at noon today and called him for milk tea, but he told me something was going on. What’s wrong with Nanqing?” Finally, Ge Yun asked again. She had been picked up from City B by her parents and was currently lying at home on the soft big bed watching TV dramas.
Upon hearing Su Beimo’s call, Ge Yun paused the drama: “Could it be that his phone ran out of battery? Or the phone is broken?”
“If that’s the case, he will definitely find a way to tell me.”
“Hey, Dog Su, I’m not complaining about you, but you’re too controlling; it’s just for one afternoon. My boyfriend and I sometimes go an afternoon without contact too.”
Su Beimo frowned and hung up after saying thank you.
Ge Yun was furious: “Why is he so angry?” She said that, but she started to call Liao Nanqing’s mobile phone. After making a few calls, the other party was turned off.
This was the first time she could not contact Liao Nanqing. In the past, except for the evening break time and class time, whenever she called Liao Nanqing’s phone, he answered quickly.
Distracted by Su Beimo’s call, Ge Yun suddenly remembered that her boyfriend had a class to take tomorrow and was still in City B. So Ge Yun turned to him for help. She asked him to go to Liao Nanqing’s college and ask about it.
It was okay if he didn’t ask, but once it was asked, it felt like something really happened.
Around 12 noon, Liao Nanqing was pushed into a minivan by a man in his forties. No one around stopped them, because Liao Nanqing called the woman beside him ‘mom’. It just happened that today was the school’s winter vacation day. Many students were picked up by their parents. Even if Liao Nanqing didn’t want to get on the bus, everyone would just treat the children as conflicting with their parents, and didn’t care about it.
The witness was Liao Nanqing’s classmate of the same major.
Ge Yun swallowed. She didn’t know the situation of Liao Nanqing’s family. In the third year of high school, Liao Nanqing’s mother hadn’t appeared in any parent meeting, so why did she appear today.
She remembered Liao Nanqing’s father who was imprisoned and what happened to him since he was a child, and the scene that her boyfriend had just described rang in her ears, so she immediately associated it with something not very good. She began to panic, her fingertips trembled slightly, and hastily called Su Beimo, and then informed Xu Yanyan.
Little did he know that at this moment, Liao Nanqing was sleeping drowsily in the cramped space he once detested most. It was still a dim, unlit scene. He coughed dryly and woke up from the newly changed bedding. There was no smell of dust, like a new environment that had been cleaned.
The light was turned on, and a seven or eight-year-old figure approached in a blur, holding a bowl of food. Liao Nanqing opened his dry mouth and had a terrible headache. But when the corners of his mouth moved, it involved both cheeks that were swollen by the beating. He moved his numb limbs in dismay and propped himself up.
In front of him, a childish voice rang out, “Dinner?”
Liao Nanqing shook his head and turned his head to look clearly at this child who was only in the first grade and had a red scarf tied on his chest. Their eyes were similar, but the other’s eyes were purer. Even if he hadn’t seen him for a while, Liao Nanqing quickly realized the identity of the boy.
Seeing that Liao Nanqing did not respond, the boy asked again, “Eat or not?”
The boy whose name was called was a bit shy. He reached out, holding the bowl of rice that was already cold. Under the thick cotton coat, his slender wrists had light bruises. It was exactly like this, so he didn’t care about the injuries on both cheeks of Liao Nanqing, much less surprised. He smiled happily at Liao Nanqing, “Ge, mom and dad said they brought you back for treatment, so we can play together again.”
Liao Nanqing’s mind was a bit unable to follow, but he did remember that Xiao Ze was very sticky to him when he was little. The bowl of rice was held in Xiao Ze’s hand for a long time, and Liao Nanqing had to take it, but his head hurt so much that he had no appetite at all. He subconsciously went to touch his pocket, only to remember that his cell phone was snatched away by his stepfather.
And his stepfather not only snatched his cell phone, but also beat him, cursing and scolding: “You’ve grown up, learning to be gay, aren’t you afraid that your own father will come out and chop up the kid you fucked?” At last, he passed out.
For this reason, Li Qin’s scream was sharp, Liao Nanqing suddenly shuddered, and the rice bowl in his hand fell down. He suddenly opened the quilt, trying to get out of bed and leave, only to find that he had an iron chain tied around his neck. He touched it and found something similar to a collar.
It was locked, and it could not be unlocked, for fear that he would run away.
Outside, there were dragging footsteps, and someone opened the door, reeking of alcohol.
Liao Nanqing looked at him in horror, like being pushed into an unending nightmare, repeatedly losing his voice.
At the same time, Su Beimo just got off the train, he was about to go directly to Lin Quan’s store to find him.
But after receiving a call from Ge Yun, Su Beimo’s face was ashen.
With a lot of people around him, the security officer blew a whistle to tell Su Beimo not to stand still and ask him to leave the station quickly. Su Beimo opened his mouth, then took a big step outside, the call had already reached Su Jing.
“Dad, can you give me Nanqing’s mother’s contact information.” He remembered that Su Jing had contacted Li Qin for the purpose of transferring to another school. At that time, that number couldn’t be called, Su Jing spent some time and used some contacts in order to find Li Qin.
Su Beimo was worried that something would happen to Liao Nanqing, and the fastest way for him now was to ask Su Jing for his contact information. After two months, Su Beimo took the initiative to contact Su Jing for the first time.
The sky was snowing again, and it was still so sunny during the day.
Su Beimo’s body could not feel the cold, but his heart could not stop chilling and freezing. Because Su Jing told him: “Don’t look for him, I contacted his parents and asked them to take him away.”
Su Beimo said in despair, “…Do you know what they will do to him? You have no idea what kind of abuse he will suffer!” By the end, he was almost yelling.
Su Jing denied: “They are his parents, what can they do to him? And I am your father, I just hope you can go home, not lose your way!”