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    Chapter 78 [VIP] Best Friend's Shield (16)

    "What... what did you say?"

    Wan Rou's eyes were full of astonishment and disbelief.

    She looked at the man she had been in love with for six or seven years, as if everything was unreal. The tears she had been holding back now fell uncontrollably, dropping heavily onto his hand.

    She was really struggling to accept what Fu Qingzhou had said to her.

    Suddenly, she felt as if her heart had been hollowed out, empty and aching, making even breathing painful.

    "You really..."

    She found she couldn’t even utter a complete sentence, feeling the tears stuck in her throat, her voice breaking into a blurred, choked sob as she tried to speak.

    But why?

    She was already crying so desperately, her emotions on the verge of collapse, why hadn't he come running to her like before, to hold and console her?

    It wasn't like this in the past!

    She even heard him say to her in a very calm tone,

    "Wan Rou, a lot has happened during the time we were apart. I might not be able to keep the promises I made before... I'm sorry, Wan Rou, but... I've fallen for someone else and have decided to be with her. I apologize for not having the chance to tell you sooner. I'm telling you now because I don’t want my indecision to hurt both of you any longer. I hope you find happiness in the future."

    "And... stop waiting for me."

    As he said these last words, he hesitated for a moment, but ultimately spoke them with determination.

    Hearing this, Wan Rou felt her body uncontrollably trembling, even struggling to stand, staggering backward.

    Tears fell like rain. She knew it wasn't just his fault, it was her... her failure to hold on! They had agreed, once their careers stabilized, they would marry. It was her family who heartlessly forced him away...

    She knew it all!

    At his most painful, most desperate, most needing of companionship, she, as his girlfriend and fiancée, abandoned him at this crucial time…

    She knew how much pain he was in, and the immense pressure he faced during that time.

    She was supposed to be his closest person!

    Yet she couldn't even offer him a word of encouragement or comfort. Wasn't it natural for him to fall for someone else? What right did she have to expect him to wait for her when she was the one who let go first?

    She understood all of it, but why? Why did it still hurt so much? It felt as if a part of her heart had been brutally torn out, the pain almost suffocating her.

    The more Wan Rou thought, the more her tears surged uncontrollably. She felt as if she needed to make up for all the tears she hadn't shed in the past, along with today's. The happier they were in the past, the more pain she felt now...

    But what could she do?

    She really didn't want to let go...

    They had been together for seven years. How many sets of seven years does one have in a lifetime? She had worked so hard to catch up to him, to stand by his side, to be worthy of him. That was the dream of her entire youth. All her best memories were linked to him, but now the dream was over.

    He told her he had fallen for someone else.

    He didn't want her anymore.

    From now on, all his tenderness would be for another girl. He wouldn’t be there like before, holding her, comforting her...

    How was she supposed to accept this?

    Wan Rou vigorously wiped the tears from her face. She clutched Fu Qingzhou's hand tightly, as if grabbing onto her last lifeline, holding it firmly.

    "I know... I know it's my fault," she tried to hold back her heartache, her voice choked, "I wasn't there for you when you needed me the most, and I was even the last to know about your injury."

    "But... I really couldn’t do anything." She shook her head incoherently, her face full of guilt and her tears flowing more fiercely, "I know I was wrong, but Qingzhou, please don’t leave me. I can’t live without you..."

    "Wan Rou, don't be like this..."

    Seeing her in such a state, Fu Qingzhou momentarily softened. He had never seen her cry so desperately, nor show such helplessness. They rarely fought, even when they broke up, it had never reached this level.

    Some reactions seemed to be ingrained in his body.

    Fu Qingzhou hesitated only a moment before embracing her, causing Wan Rou to pause for an instant, then she hugged him back even more tightly.

    Fu Qingzhou felt helpless but couldn't just leave her like this. He could only gently pat her back, consoling her as he used to.

    "The Wan Rou I know wouldn’t be so demeaning. She has her pride. You know, Wan Rou, even without anyone else, we can’t go back to how we were. So, let go. Don’t make yourself so pitiful."

    Having said this, he slowly released his embrace, but she buried her face in his chest, crying and protesting,

    "That's because she's really about to lose you now! How can I remain calm? How can I? I don't want this, but please, Qingzhou... don’t leave me, okay?"

    They had loved each other so deeply, understanding each other with just a glance. But why and how could it be that love just disappears?

    "You…sigh!"

    Hearing her words, Fu Qingzhou found himself at a loss, only able to sigh helplessly, finally murmuring softly,

    "I'm sorry…"

    After saying these words, Fu Qingzhou slowly let go of her fingers. Seeing Wan Rou's fingers relax, her entire body seemed to lose all strength, collapsing beside the bed, staring blankly at him with eyes full of sorrow.

    She just kept looking at him sadly, seeing that he wouldn’t meet her gaze, she stayed silent for a long time before slowly speaking, "The person you’ve fallen for... is it Nan Yan?"

    Fu Qingzhou nodded and gave a soft "Hmm."

    Wan Rou felt a twinge of pain in her heart, instinctively turning her face away as tears followed the motion, trickling down her cheek.

    She raised her hand to vigorously wipe her tears, wanting to say something but in the end, she said nothing. She stood up and walked out, lost and dejected.

    ……

    Meanwhile, with the other two,

    Hearing Nan Yan's words, Jiang Shaoyan’s heart involuntarily shuddered. He tried to suppress the pain in his heart, looking at her humbly,

    "Is there really no chance for us anymore?"

    Jiang Shaoyan’s fingers trembled slightly, filled with regret, afraid to even touch her face, "If I hadn’t asked you to get close to him, would things between us not have ended up like this…?"

    Nan Yan felt a sourness in her nose and turned her face away, "From the moment you asked me to get close to him, there was no possibility for us! You said it was fine as long as I kept an eye on him, preventing him from being with Wan Rou, that it didn’t matter who he fell in love with. Why are you clinging to this issue now?"

    "You regret now due to your unwillingness, but how would I know that when you no longer regret, I won't become the next one filled with such unwillingness?"

    Jiang Shaoyan's eyes also reddened. He wanted to say it wouldn't happen; he had never liked anyone as much as he did her, and his feelings for Wanru were different.

    But faced with her skeptical gaze, he couldn't even utter a word of defense. He knew he had inflicted too much pain upon her with his past actions, using her to get closer to Wanru and trampling on her sincerity. Yet now, he truly regretted it.

    Jiang Shaoyan abruptly turned away, letting tears roll down his cheek. He softly repeated, "Is there really no chance at all between us?"

    Nan Yan remained silent in response.

    Jiang Shaoyan, however, unexpectedly let out a soft laugh. His eyes were veiled with mist as he reached out to pull her into his embrace, holding her as if he were expending all his strength. Finally, he whispered heartfeltly,

    "I really can't bear to part!"

    ……

    After a long search, Fu Qingzhou eventually found her in a secluded corner of the hospital where few people passed by. She sat alone on a bench, hugging her legs tightly, with slightly reddened eyes - a clear indication that she had just been crying.

    Upon seeing him, tears seemed to well up in her eyes once more. Despite being wronged, she refused to utter a single word, choosing instead to endure it all silently.

    Fu Qingzhou couldn't bear to see her in such a pitiful state. He would have preferred if she scolded him fiercely or glared at him as she did before, rather than seeing her like this.

    Advancing a few steps, he promptly took her hand and drew her into his embrace. It was only at the touch of her fingers that he realized how long she had been alone, for they were as cold as ice.

    "I'm sorry, I just..."

    Before he could finish his sentence, tears began to roll down Nanyan's cheeks. "There's no need for you to say more, I understand. I understand that the depth of your feelings for her surpasses anything I could offer. I'm well aware of how deeply you love her. If not for the Fang family's pressure, the two of you would never have broken up. And I was merely a source of comfort for you during your most vulnerable moments, after all, we've only known each other for such a short time..."

    "Now that she's willing to return, it's time for me to depart."

    As she spoke, her emotions seemed to crumble, and her voice gradually escalated with intensity.

    "For I genuinely fear myself, afraid that I might change, that jealousy might drive me to do something wicked. I despise this side of me, and loathe how I become so insecure over a single emotion. This isn't who I should be!"

    Wiping away her tears with determination, she lifted her head to look at him and said, "Fu Qingzhou, there's no need for you to apologize to me. I've already decided to..."

    Before she could finish her sentence, Fu Qingzhou suddenly cupped her face in both hands and kissed her eyelids. "When did I ever say I'd be with her?"

    Hearing this, Nan Yan paused, the mist in her eyes growing thicker. Her lips quivered, "Your apology... does it mean you're leaving me?"

    Fu Qingzhou then realized his initial words might have indeed been misleading.

    His apology was because, when Wan Rou arrived, he hadn't chosen Nan Yan right away, nor had he defended her, letting her leave alone and dejected.

    Fu Qingzhou felt a surge of guilt. He carefully wiped her tears, his movements clumsy, perhaps due to his injury.

    "No, Wan Rou and I have broken up. My promise to be with you wasn't a joke; I'm serious. In the hospital room earlier, I just didn't react in time... I'm sorry for letting you down."

    As Nan Yan listened, her tears fell even more fiercely, dropping onto his palm, as if scorching straight into his heart.

    "You mean..."

    She looked at him incredulously,

    "But... we've only known each other for such a short time. Aren't you afraid you might regret it later?"

    Fu Qingzhou chuckled lightly, "Who can be sure about the future? As long as I don't regret it now, that's enough. Besides, if I do regret it later, let that future me deal with it. Right now, I just want to be with you."

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