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    Chapter 77 [VIP] Best Friend as Shield (15)

    Not only Jiang Shaoyan received the news, Fang Wanru also learned about Fu Qingzhu's hospitalization the following day.

    Initially, she assumed it was a prank. But once she confirmed the information to be true, she froze, her eyes involuntarily reddening, and she found herself at a loss, unsure of what to do.

    At this moment, the Fang family tried to prevent her from contacting Fu Qingzhu. Their coldness and selfishness startled Fang Wanru. How could they lose all sense of empathy?

    Back when nothing had happened to the Fu family, they were so delighted, carefully currying favor with their prospective son-in-law. They even urged her to marry sooner, not to miss out on such a good husband. Yet now, they wouldn't even let her visit him after he got hurt.

    Fang Wanru was genuinely disappointed.

    Especially after learning about Fu Qingzhou's injury on the construction site, a flood of sorrow and injustice surged in her heart, and tears overflowed from her eyes, unable to be held back. When had he ever endured such hardship?

    At this moment, Fang Wanru could no longer care about the objections of her entire family. Back then, she had been forced to break up with him, and she had reluctantly agreed. But now that he was injured, how could she remain indifferent?

    For the first time, she defied her parents' orders and rushed to the hospital in a hurry.

    On the way, she couldn't help but indulge in self-reproachful thoughts. Why hadn't she known about this earlier? Why hadn't she been by his side even during such a critical time?

    No wonder she had been feeling an inexplicable unease lately – it turned out that something had indeed happened to Qingzhou.

    The more she thought about it, the more remorseful she became. She wondered if they wouldn't be in this situation now if she had been firmer in her stance or held on a little longer back then.

    They were deeply in love, yet she truly felt guilty towards him. She wasn't by his side during his toughest moments, nor could she offer him any words of encouragement and comfort when he was at his lowest. They were lovers for six or seven years, almost at the brink of marriage; yet, she couldn't even withstand this tiny setback. She realized how selfish she had been.

    Upon reaching their destination, Fang Wanru noticed that they seemed to be packing up to leave.

    In her haste, she failed to notice Nanyan standing beside him. As soon as she entered, she saw the vivid cut on Fu Qingzhou's forehead and other haphazard wounds on his body. He stood by the bed, wearing a nearly whitewashed old shirt while folding clothes. He appeared much thinner than before...

    Wang Rourou felt a pang in her heart, and tears uncontrollably rolled down her cheeks. Through sobs, she called out to him, "Qingzhou..."

    Upon hearing the sound, Fu Qingzhou instinctively lifted his head. Upon seeing Fang Wangrou standing at the door, he was initially taken aback, followed by an inevitable surge of bitterness and pain in his heart. Almost instinctively, he released the grip on Nanyan's hand and stepped forward impulsively.

    "Why are you here...?"

    Wang Rourou, upon hearing his voice, felt even more wronged to the point of being speechless. With tears streaming down her face, she shook her head and, without caring about anything else, rushed forward and threw herself into Fu Qingzhou's arms.

    "I heard you were injured..."

    "Qingzhou... I miss you so much..."

    Furu Qingzhuo embraced her without hesitation, almost an instinctive response ingrained in his body. After all, they were lovers who had spent seven years together; even after their breakup, memories wouldn't fade that easily.

    Moreover, Fu Qingzhuo still held feelings for her. If they hadn't genuinely loved each other, their relationship couldn't have endured for so many years. It was just fate's irony and the harsh reality that forced them apart...

    Nan Yan, on the other hand, stared at her suddenly released hand, momentarily unable to comprehend what was happening.

    Her face was blank, and she felt a stifling ache in her chest, a bitter sensation that was hard to bear. She instinctively looked up at Fu Qingzhuo's face, seeking reassurance from him. However, Fu Qingzhuo was evidently still absorbed in the emotions stirred by Fang Wanzhou's appearance, leaving no room to consider Nan Yan's feelings.

    A mist of tears instantly veiled Nanyan's eyes. She opened her mouth as if to call out his name, but seeing the intimacy between them, she ultimately said nothing.

    For she realized that there was no longer any place for her here. It seemed that as long as Fang Wanting was willing to return, she could no longer stay by his side, and he would never choose her again.

    Suddenly, her nose tingled with a sense of unease that refused to be ignored. Her grievances and pain had nowhere to escape, especially when she witnessed their public display of affection. The ache in her heart intensified.

    She instinctively took a step back, wanting to leave and find a secluded spot to calm her emotions. However, in her haste, she knocked over a chair behind her, abruptly breaking the embrace and startling both of them. Nanyan looked up at him, their gazes locking.

    His expression froze, and then, as if realizing something, his face paled.

    How could he behave so intimately with Fang Wanru in front of Nanyan...

    Feng Qingzhou was overwhelmed by a surge of emotions, filled with regret.

    Especially when he saw the tears welling up in Nanyan's eyes and the evident unease, his heart couldn't help but soften. He instinctively released his embrace on Fang Wanru, wanting to go to Nanyan's side.

    But Fang Wanru remained oblivious, still holding onto his hand tightly. Hindered by her, Feng Qingzhou lost just that moment, and when he looked up again, Nanyan had already left. All he saw was her solitary silhouette, appearing exceptionally fragile under the sparse sunlight.

    Unconsciously, Feng Qingzhou clenched his fists, a vague sense of uneasiness creeping into his heart. He was unsure how to approach the situation. Although he and Fang Wanru had broken up, their past feelings were genuine and couldn't simply vanish overnight.

    He had never disclosed his connection with Nan Yan to her, and thus he was deeply concerned that Wan Rou might struggle to accept it all at once.

    Fu Qingzhou had no intention of hurting both women simultaneously. He understood that clarity in such matters was best served sooner rather than later; prolonging it would only bring distress to all three involved.

    Moreover, he had developed feelings for Nan Yan. He found it difficult to articulate the nature of his emotions towards her, but he was certain that if they were ever faced with immense adversity, Nan Yan would be the one standing firmly by his side.

    Initially, his feelings might have stemmed from gratitude. However, as time passed, that gratitude transformed, slowly evolving into affection. Despite not having spent an extensive amount of time together, he was undeniably certain of his feelings for her - they were genuine, not mere compromise or second choice. This he could not deny.

    Hence, he felt guilty towards Wan Rou. They had been on the brink of discussing marriage, yet now his heart belonged to another woman.

    Fu Qingzhou cast a glance at Fang Wanru, whose eyes were filled with concern, then suddenly took a step back. His voice was slightly hoarse as he said, "Wanru, there's something I need to tell you..."

    Perhaps his tone was too serious and cautious, Fang Wanru was momentarily stunned.

    They were too familiar with each other; so much so that the slightest hint of distress from him would alert her to significant news. At this moment, an unsettling premonition gripped her heart.

    Her fingers instinctively tightened around his sleeve. "What...?"

    On the other side, Nan Yan walked down the corridor until she reached its end, stopping only when she was out of sight from others. She sat directly on a bench at the corner, hugging her legs tightly. The emotions she had been suppressing suddenly felt like they were about to burst, and she couldn't hold back her tears any longer. They fell uncontrollably, one by one.

    In the midst of her heart-wrenching sobs, a familiar voice suddenly echoed above her head, croaking with concern, "Why are you crying here all alone?"

    Jiang Shaoyan hadn't returned since yesterday, when he witnessed Nan Yan with Fu Qingzhou. Ever since, he had been in a state of despondency, truly at a loss for what to do. The mere thought of it pierced his heart like a knife, yet he would rather endure excruciating pain than give up, even if it meant letting go for her happiness.

    At this moment, Jiang Shaoyan didn't seem to be in much better shape than her. His eyes were slightly reddened, his complexion pale, and he appeared significantly more haggard than a few days prior.

    Upon hearing the voice, Nan Yan instinctively looked up. Upon recognizing Jiang Shaoyan, she seemed surprised but quickly averted her gaze. She then wiped away her tears discreetly and said, "It's none of your business."

    These words left Jiang Shaoyan feeling stifled, an obscure ache piercing his chest as if pricked by a needle. The pain was slight at first, but as time passed, it became increasingly unbearable.

    He let out a deep sigh before continuing, "Is it because of Fu Qingzhou? Because Wanru is here, and he's making you suffer, isn't he?"

    He was aware of the reason behind her hiding here to weep alone. It was all because of Wanru's arrival. After all, Fu Qingzhou had years of feelings for her. How could she not feel wronged wherever Wanru was present?

    As soon as he finished speaking, Nan Yan couldn't help but clench her fingers, glaring at him resentfully, "So what if he did? Are you here to mock me? Do you feel triumphant, thinking you were right, and I, the woman who threw herself at someone, am indeed cheap..."

    Before she could finish, Jiang Shaoyan realized she had misunderstood. Recalling their last encounter, he felt a surge of regret and instinctively pulled her into an embrace, quickly explaining, "No, I've never thought that. I misspoke last time. I have never looked down on you."

    Jiang Shaoyan was aware of her aversion to him and knew that his past foolish actions had deeply hurt her.

    But what could he do?

    If he could turn back time, he would never be so foolish again. He truly regretted it, regretting that he had realized too late.

    Regretting even more that he had pushed her into someone else's arms, the mere thought of it made his eyes uncontrollably redden.

    "Nan Yan, can we start over? Please?"

    "I really know I was wrong, terribly wrong! I always thought I liked Wan Rou, but my heart had already started to lean towards you without me realizing how deeply I felt. I’ve never liked someone so much!"

    "I want to see you, every day, but seeing you with Fu Qingzhou makes me insanely jealous. I regret breaking up with you so much. Nan Yan, can we start over... please?"

    Hearing this, Nan Yan seemed stunned, her eyes, brimming with tears, staring blankly at him.

    Then, for some reason, her tears suddenly began to fall uncontrollably, streaming down her cheeks.

    It was as if all the grievances she had endured had found an outlet today, bursting forth in a torrent of tears.

    After she had cried enough and wiped her tears, she seemed to have come to a resolution. She gently pushed away from his embrace.

    "You should go, Jiang Shaoyan. Between us... it's impossible now."

    After speaking, she closed her eyes, her wet lashes drooping slightly, her face stained with tears.

    Hearing this, Jiang Shaoyan felt a chill throughout his body, his body trembling uncontrollably. He barely held back the sourness in his heart and instinctively grabbed Nan Yan's hand, pressing it against his chest.

    "Why is it impossible? Is it because of Fu Qingzhou? But his heart belongs to Wan Rou, you know that. The years of feelings between him and Wan Rou, he can't just let go of her completely. He will make you feel neglected. Nan Yan, forget him, let's start over, okay? This time, I will definitely love you properly. We can start again..."

    He was interrupted before he could finish, as Nan Yan slowly withdrew her hand, her voice hoarse, "Jiang Shaoyan, I won't be with you."

    "If Fu Qingzhou really chooses Wan Rou, then I'll leave this place and never come back. There are too many painful memories here. If he doesn’t love me, I'll let him go, just like I let go of you."

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