He sighed and released me a little. Then, he looked at me. “Si Ying, barring purity, I possess everything; I have gained everything except serenity. Looking at you, when I see you like this, I truly regret!” His words came from someone with a heavy heart.
“You… Why are you telling me all this!” I lowered my head, because I knew that even in the light of the setting sun, my face was still sallow and pale.
His hands slide down the nape of my neck. He didn’t force me to look up at him. He said, “I care not about all these – whatever sympathy or love is. The only thing I know is that right now, I want to treat you well. I want to treat you so well, even if I have to dig my heart out for you.”
I burst out into laughter. Suddenly, a doubt suddenly flashed across my mind. “Xiao, you are really not made to say cheesy and romantic things. No wonder Luo Qing has never laughed at you!”
Xiao Huan’s face reddened slightly. He turned his head. “This is my first time saying these kinds of stuff!” Then, he glanced at the shimmering waters and smiled again. He turned his head back to face me and said,” Back in university, I read many texts and there was always one line that I never understood. Now, I finally understand!”
“What line!” I questioned.
“Let’s make it clear, you’re not allowed to laugh.” He said in all seriousness.
I nodded my head vigorously. However, the corner of my lips had already slipped into a small smile.
“It’s…” Just as he was about to speak, I laughed. He quipped in frustration, “I told you not to laugh! It’s a very profound line!”
“Alright, I won’t laugh!”
He plastered his forehead on to mine and gently planted a kiss on my nose. He said, “To love for the sake of being loved is human, but to love for the sake of loving is angelic! ”
I opened my eyes and saw his smile that was akin to a spring breeze. He embraced me, “Alright, my angel, let this human carry you back home!”
That day, I lost track of time, seemingly because I had laughed too much.
Because of these few words of his, I could forget everything.
The last day of the National Day holidays, 7pm in the evening. He had reserved an entire bar near our residential district. He invited a few good friends to have fun with us, and they were all familiar faces – Lu Yun, Liu Jin and Du Yuanfeng. They had each brought along a female partner.
“Sister-in-law!” Lu Yun’s girlfriend was a young girl and at first glance, she looked very innocent. The moment she came in, she walked up to me coyly with a shy expression on her face. She greeted me and I smiled back at her.
“Xiao Bei was unable to make it, let them accompany you instead!” Xiao adjusted my coat before throwing a glance at Lu Yun’s group. He spoke rather imposingly, “Hurry and take it out!”
Lu Yun and Liu Jin both grinned and beckoned their girlfriends to take out the gifts. One was a beautiful butterfly brooch set with diamonds, the other was a classic white lace shawl. I accepted the gifts, slightly embarrassed. Then, Xiao turned towards me and cut in between them, personally helping me to put on the shawl. Multi-coloured strands of light just so happened to cast rays onto his face as he earnestly pinned on the brooch. Then he looked up at me, his face just one inch away from mine. Very naturally, he gave me a peck on the lips.
“Sister-in-law, this is a token of my regards, please accept it!” After the group had dispersed, Du Yuanfeng took out an extremely exquisite rectangular box and passed it to me. Inside was a simple silver knife. I unsheathed the knife with a metallic swish and under the dimly lit lamps of the bar, I saw a few words engraved on both sides of the blade: Half a lifetime has passed, nothing has changed! 
My heart tightened as I looked up at Du Yuanfeng. My mind shook as I replied, “Thank you!”
At this moment, Xiao furrowed his brows. “Du!” His voice carried a hint of displeasure.
Du Yuanfeng chuckled and said, “Sister-in-law, you don’t like it?”
“You still dare to speak!” This time, Xiao really seemed angry as he glared at Du Yuanfeng. “I’ve already told you in the past, don’t give her anything that’ll make her feel hurt!”
I hastily tugged at Xiao, “That’s not it. I like it, there’s no need to do this!”
Xiao turned back and stroked my face. He whispered my name softly, “Si Ying…”
That day, it wasn’t any sort of holiday, it wasn’t a memorial, nor was it my birthday. It was merely an ordinary day. That day, Xiao’s good friends all cautiously came to visit me, each bearing a gift, and each sincerely calling me ‘sister-in-law’. And apart from flashing a faint smile, my eyes would always wander back to Xiao Huan.
In the end, Xiao held my hand and his eyes settled on the wedding ring that was getting shinier by day. It had been a long time since it had been removed and I flinched, afraid that he would toss away the ring again. Hence, I wanted to retract my hand, but he locked his grip on me, with no intention of loosening his grasp.
I pleaded in a low voice. I knew that happiness was not built on erasing the past, and even though I lived a lamentable life, I never required that the past be deliberately forgotten, nor did I want to shun away from the ever-present reality. Hence, I did not want him to dispose of this ring which was a witness to our marriage. I did not want him to do this.
However, Xiao smiled. Stretching out his hands, he carefully put another ring on my fourth finger. The gem on that ring was very small, but it was very beautiful, gracefully emanating an air of spirituality.
He clasped my hands and placed it against his chest, saying, “Miss Cheng Siying, do you allow me to take care of you for the rest of our lives?”
My eyes reddened, and I could not help but move my eyes to stop the welling tears from falling. I responded, “Husband, I do.”
Then, he hugged me. My hands wrapped around his back and wound around his shoulders as I tightly clung onto him. On fourth finger, I wore two rings, each glimmering splendidly.
I knew, everything was a brand new start.
By the time we got back home, it was exactly 12am. The moment we walked through the door, he switched on all of the lights and the entire house was filled with a warm orange glow. I took a seat on the sofa and looked up at him, slightly lethargic. He was already standing in the shower cubicle, as the sound of steaming hot water gushing out rang in my ear. Not long later, he finished his shower and came out with a face towel wrapped around his waist. This was my first time seeing him under such bright light, my face reddened and I hastily found him a larger towel for him to dry down. Xiao’s figure was sculpted and he was someone who always made time to work out. Before we got married, he would constantly say: If your figure isn’t good, what’s the point in playing around!
As I helped him dry his body, I reminded him sincerely, “Autumn is approaching, you’ll catch a cold if you keep this up!”
He didn’t move. He bowed his head to look at me, before asking in a soft voice, “Let’s head to the room, can we?”
I was stunned and the towel in my hands fell onto the ground, not daring to look into his eyes. He chuckled and with a flick of his hands, the towel wrapped around his waist was unravelled.
I hurriedly turned around, but I immediately felt the warmth of his chest on my back. He bent over and spoke into my ears, “Let’s go head to the room, can we?”
It was as though I had been possessed, for I nodded my head blankly, almost involuntarily.
Women are truly weaker. And under such circumstances, my weakness is amplified many times.
Women are very easy to please. With such an embrace, I already felt happy.
In the room, the lamps also emitted an orange glow, but it was much dimmer, much warmer, much gentler. I lay on the bed and my eyes gazed past his shoulders as I eyed the rows of towering buildings. At that moment, I realized how intangible our world was. So intangible that we sought since birth.
His hands roamed around my body, and his heavy breaths continuously blew against my hair. All these made my complexion pale considerably.
“Xiao, I think we should forget it, just let go of me. My body has already lost all its senses.”
I turned my head. I don’t know why I just had to feel awkward at such a timing.
Xiao didn’t respond, but he didn’t release me either. His hold on me tightened, and the heat under the blanket caused my face to flush red. He kissed me deeply, passionate, leaving behind marks on every inch of my skin. However, he would always move back to occupy my lips, our tongues slipping smoothly and sweetly.
He propped himself up, with both hands on either side of my body. He mumbled in my ears repeatedly, “No, my senses are intact. Did you hear me Si Ying? My senses are intact. I’m not stopping, I can’t stop.”
I was groggy and at times, I could feel, and at other times, my body was completely numb. At times, I could hear him speak, and at times, I couldn’t hear. But he repeated himself continuously, and hence, I heard him many times.
He said, I love you, Si Ying.
Ah, at such a time, how I wish I could respond to him. To respond with that line that I’ve already repeated to myself ten thousand times in my heart. However, I had already lost control of myself. He pleasured me and I felt immense gratification. Whether it be my soul or my flesh, everything became so pleasurable. I could only cling on to his shoulders as my breaths became rugged.
His lust and flesh ceased to be so unforgiving and cruel at this last moment. His rough and plundering instincts were no longer so unfeeling and savage.
His kiss was moist, just like someone treading snow, leaving behind imprints of pain.
His lips were covered with a layer of my tears, salty tears of sorrow that speaks volumes of hopelessness and worry.
This was not a war between our tongues, and it was the only time where our touch was not an ordeal.
He seemed to be a bit emotional, and even though it was such a fleeting moment, I would willingly give up a lifetime of warmth for it. I knew that in my pursuit for the everlasting , a tacky woman like me would only be able to gain so much.
I gained it and so I am content.
That was an unforgettable night. From that night onwards, the time Xiao and I spent together became happier and happier as the days went by. But the happier we were, the subsequent feeling of loneliness would hit even harder. With every second that ticked by, I felt pain that equalled my blood being dried up, drop by drop.
 A quote by Alphonse de Larmartine. Xiao Huan is implying that he loves Si Ying because she first loved him. I’ve translated a truncated excerpt that explains this quote brilliantly: Humans are innately selfish, and hence the way we love is selfish, much unlike the unconditional love a god may impart. However, when one is on the receiving end of persistent undying love, we’re moved, and reciprocate this love.
 Probably a spiteful reminder to Si Ying that her relationship with Xiao has not changed since the beginning. The fact that he gifted her a knife is rather alarming to me, but Du Yuanfeng is one of the mysterious characters in this novel that I cannot read into. What his intentions are, I truly do not know.
 ‘the everlasting’ likely refers to an everlasting, undying love. Much like the marriage vows a couple recites at their wedding.
T/N: Renewed wedding vows, a fresh start to a loving marriage. But Xiao Huan ah, Xiao Huan, you’re already too late.