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(To Dote On (2)

It was getting later at night. Maple Residence was quiet, and the lights had already gone out in the villa. A cold wind brushed past and the wavering trees seemed bleak.

Inside the comfortable bedroom, Xi Xiaye was sleeping peacefully. However, as she was deep in her slumber, she suddenly felt the man beside her acting oddly. His fingers seized tightly onto her wrist. The grip was so tight that he almost was hurting her. His arms around her waist were also contracting, and she was starting to feel pressured.

At the same time, she could hear his heavy breathing in the dark and his palm was getting sweaty. Xi Xiaye then noticed something was wrong. Struggling, she switched the table lamp on and turned towards him and then realized —

He was frowning, and his handsome face was getting pale as sweat bathed his forehead and his sleeping robe was drenched. His breathing was heavy…

His strained expression looked like he was having a nightmare. She got especially worried seeing him.

Xi Xiaye panicked and quickly tried to wake him up, her hoarse voice filled with a concerned tone, “Mu Yuchen, wake up! Mu Yuchen…”

She called out to him as she reached for his forehead, but before her hand could touch him, she was suddenly pushed away as he sat up almost instantly. His force was so strong that Xi Xiaye almost fell off the bed.

He soon came back to his senses and quickly grabbed Xi Xiaye who almost lost her balance. “Are you alright?”

Xi Xiaye took a deep breath and sat by the bedside. Her eyes were evidently worried while she studied him. He still looked pale with sweat all over him. After a while, she shook her head and asked, “Did you have a nightmare?”

Mu Yuchen closed his eyes and tried to calm himself down. Soon, he opened his eyes. There was still traces of his suppressed unease from before, but they soon returned to his usual calmness.

He took a deep breath before looking at her and apologized, “Sorry for waking you up!”

Xi Xiaye looked at him quietly for a while before grabbing a handkerchief from the bedside drawer and handed it to him.”Wipe yourself. I’ll get you another sleeping robe. Go and wash up. You’re all drenched now.”

He nodded. When he took the handkerchief from her, his sharp eyes noticed the bruises on her wrist. However, she went towards the wardrobe before he could say anything.

After watching her for a while, he went towards her, taking the towel from her hand. “I’ll do it myself. You can sleep first.”

“You…” Xi Xiaye looked at him hesitantly.

“I’m alright. Be good and go back to sleep. I’ll take a shower first.”

He patted her head before heading into the bathroom. His silhouette seemed rather lonely and she suddenly felt uneasy about it. After pondering for some time, she sighed and then left the bedroom.

Mu Yuchen took a cold shower and then changed into a clean sleeping robe. When he came out of the bathroom, Xi Xiaye was nowhere to be seen.

After looking around, he put his hand on his aching forehead before leaving the bedroom as well.

Xi Xiaye came back to the bedroom with a glass of iced water. She did not see Mu Yuchen anywhere, but she then heard some noises by the balcony, so she headed over.

There was the smell of cigarette smoke in the air. She saw him leaning against the railing by the balcony.

“Where did you go just now?” He threw the cigarette away when he saw her.

Xi Xiaye stopped before him and handed the glass of iced water to him. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m alright. Were you frightened?” He grabbed the glass of water, his eyes locked onto the bruise on her wrist. His eyes seemed gloomy and complicated.

Xi Xiaye rubbed the bruise and looked into his eyes with a smile and shook her head. After a brief moment of silence, she asked, “You have something on your mind, hence the nightmare…”

His darkened eyes softened when he noticed her asking him carefully. He took a few sips from the glass and did not reply immediately.

She stared at him for some time, but he did not seem to be answering her question, so she averted her gaze and took a deep breath as she placed both her hands on the railing. She looked downwards at the dim street lamps and did not push him for an answer.

The atmosphere became a little uneasy as the cold wind blew and messed up their outfits. Her hair was starting to get messy as well.

The two of them stood there silently and no one said a thing, yet his gaze never left her.

After some time, she could not stand the cold anymore and shuddered slightly. She turned to him and frowned. “It’s cold here. Let’s head back in…”

His heart softened when he saw her frown. He held her into his arms and his hoarse voice reached her ears. “Are you angry?”

“No…” She turned her head away. She would never admit that she was a little upset that he did not reply to her question.

“So, you are then. You always avoid my eye contact when you’re not telling the truth, Xiaye…” He suddenly sighed, his fingers grabbing onto her struggling hands. “It’s going to be Qingming in a few days. I’ll have nightmares whenever it’s this time of the year, but I don’t want you to be scared…”

“I’m alright.” She gave him a brief reply, raising her head from his arms. “But I just want you to know that… if you need anything, I… I’ll do my best to protect you. I know that I’m still weak, but I’ll do my best.” Her eyes were filled with determination, and her tone was firm.


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