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    Chapter 73 - I Must Be Out Of My Mind

    Lu Nanqing had consumed alcohol, but despite the alcohol's effects dissipating, he, being meticulous, refrained from driving and opted for Jiang Yuduo to give him a ride back.

    On the increasingly dusky road, as Jiang Yuduo drove, he couldn't help stealing glances at Lu Nanqing in the passenger seat. As expected, Lu Nanqing was indeed fond of his potted plant, holding it in his hands the entire time and admiring it.

    Hmph, good taste!

    But inwardly, he gritted his teeth, perplexed as to how things had turned out this way. Not only did he lose the money tree, but he was now acting as a "chauffeur." How on earth did he agree to this?

    Jiang Yuduo couldn't figure it out. The only explanation he could come up with was that either a ghost possessed him or he was out of his mind. However, truth be told, he also pondered:

    Why would Lu Nanqing initiate asking for something from me and request me to send him home... Does this imply that I have become different in Lu Nanqing's eyes? Otherwise, why would he take the initiative?

    At this thought, Jiang Yuduo flashed a wide grin, feeling that their relationship had grown closer and improved (even though he didn't know why he should be happy).

    With such a buoyant mood throughout the journey, they arrived at Lu Nanqing's apartment complex. After Lu Nanqing got out of the car, he raised his hand and bent down slightly, double-checking, "You're really giving it to me?"

    Jiang Yuduo nodded eagerly, like a chick pecking at rice.

    "Are you not coming back?" Lu Nanqing found the outcome too smooth, and he asked again, hardly believing it.

    Jiang Yuduo continued nodding like a pecking chicken.

    Relieved, Lu Nanqing stood up. Just as he was about to enter, Jiang Yuduo asked, "Can I visit it often?"

    Having taken away someone else's tree, how could he deny such a request? Lu Nanqing smiled and said, "Of course."

    Jiang Yuduo watched Lu Nanqing until he disappeared into the compound. After a long while, he came back to his senses and drove away.

    The money tree was gone, and he should have been upset, but as Jiang Yuduo glanced at the empty passenger seat, he didn't feel sad; instead, he thought about how Lu Nanqing had just been sitting there.

    Lost in this thought, he chuckled foolishly. Soon, his phone rang, and he answered it through Bluetooth, hoping it might be Lu Nanqing.

    "Brat! How did that blind date go?" a boisterous voice asked with an air of familiarity, instantly revealing to Jiang Yuduo that it wasn't Lu Nanqing on the line.

    "Blind date?" Jiang Yuduo instinctively recalled.

    "Don't tell me you didn't go? You stood that girl up!" Upon hearing the questioning tone, Jiang's mother erupted in anger.

    "Aha, I remember now," Jiang Yuduo replied.

    "She didn't bail on us. After the meal, she went back home," Jiang Yuduo assured her. "If you don't believe me, ask her yourself."

    Mrs. Jiang was indeed skeptical. If they had really eaten together, why would he hesitate to answer?

    "Oh, Lu Nanqing can vouch for me too," Jiang Yuduo added.

    "Did you drag Nanqing along to your blind date?" Mrs. Jiang asked.

    "It's over anyway. If Nanqing went with you, the girl must have found someone better," Mrs. Jiang said. "No one would choose you over him."

    "What? It was a coincidence that I met Lu Nanqing. He happened to be dining at the same restaurant," Jiang Yuduo explained. "Besides, anyone with good taste would pick me over him. I'm so masculine and handsome!"

    Mrs. Jiang chuckled. "Hmm... "

    "Nanqing needs to watch what he eats. He's malnourished and has low blood sugar. In short, he's not in the best health. Keep an eye on him and make sure he doesn't eat anything inappropriate," Mrs. Jiang instructed.

    "I wasn't dining with him, and we finished eating a long time ago. You're only saying this now," Jiang Yuduo pointed out.

    "Damn kid, how dare you talk to your mother like that!" Jiang's mother was furious.

    "Frankly, I'm not sure what Lu Nanqing had for dinner, but he did have some alcohol," Jiang Yuduo skillfully changed the subject.

    "Alcohol?!!" As expected, Jiang's mother's attention was diverted. "He shouldn't be drinking! This child, why doesn't he take better care of himself!"

    "Never mind, I'll scold him myself. We'll settle the score about the blind date later!"

    With the call ended, Jiang Yuduo whistled cheerfully. Finally, someone else was sharing the burden of his mother's nagging. Haha, he had to thank Lu Nanqing.

    Jiang Yuduo intended to send a message but realized he didn't have Lu Nanqing's contact information. He pondered about calling, but he didn't have the phone number either.

    Jiang Yuduo: ...

    So how had he managed to not add Lu Nanqing as a friend all this time? (Self-reflection.jpg)

    On the other side, Lu Nanqing had just returned to his apartment and was about to delve into the specifics of the tree-human connection when Jiang's mother's call interrupted him. After answering, he found himself unable to focus on the tree anymore.

    "Yes, Auntie Jiang, I won't drink next time."

    "Dinner was steak, with cherry tomatoes and broccoli as the vegetables. The steak was seasoned with garlic."

    "Does garlic have a strong kick? Alright, I'll go for the plain flavor next time."

    "How much alcohol was in the red wine? I didn't pay attention, but I only had a tiny bit, just two sips, honestly."

    "I'm not lying to you. Jiang Yuduo can vouch for me; he drove me back, and there wasn't even a hint of alcohol on my breath."

    [If you let him drive you home, how could it have been just two sips? Tomorrow, I'll make you a nourishing soup, so you won't need to cook or order takeout for any meals.]

    "Please don't trouble yourself, Aunt Jiang. I..." Lu Nanqing felt the overwhelming 'maternal love' and found it impossible to decline.

    "Next time, decline such drinking gatherings. If it's about business, let it be business. To actually make you drink, that person is despicable! What's his name? Which company does he work for? I'll have to look into this."

    "It was my fault too, for forgetting that I can't drink. Aunt Jiang, please don't be angry. I promise it won't happen again," Lu Nanqing swore repeatedly, his tone sincere. Only then did Mother Jiang cease her scolding and, after a litany of reminders, did she finally hang up the call.

    With the call concluded, Lu Nanqing let out a long sigh as he sat on the carpet. He could now comprehend Jiang Yuduo's "rebellion." Aunt Jiang was the embodiment of a traditional mother, meticulous in her care and relentless with her reminders. Rather than feeling annoyed, he found it heartwarming, for this was precisely the kind of maternal love he had always craved during his childhood.

    He took a shower, then examined the potted plant. Unable to decipher its needs, he simply watered it and went to bed.

    Tonight, no one disturbed him, and he was free from Jiang Yuduo's midnight solo singing and self-absorbed monologues. He slept soundly.

    However, on the other side, Jiang Yuduo found himself unable to sleep.

    He had grown accustomed to "tending" the tree before bed. Its sudden absence left him feeling strangely empty.

    "I wonder if Lu Nanqing has watered it," Jiang Yuduo murmured. "How many times did he water it? Did he use mineral water?"

    "Oh, right, I forgot. The tree is enchanted. What if it turns into a person in the middle of the night and eats Lu Nanqing? Or worse, drains his life force!"

    "And what if it transforms into a seductive spirit, a female enchantress, and lures Lu Nanqing away?"

    The more Jiang Yuduo thought, the less he could sleep. His concerns deepened, making it impossible for him to focus on his game. Instead, he continued to cast the surveillance footage onto the screen.

    The camera was positioned inside his room, capturing a dimly lit scene. Leaning against the headboard, Jiang Yuduo watched, gradually tilting his head sideways.

    Suddenly, he slumped forward, momentarily regaining clarity. Through his dazed vision, he noticed a flickering green glow on the screen. Panic set in: There really was a ghost! Lu Nanqing was in danger!

    His exhausted mind, though ringing with alarm bells, couldn't prevent him from succumbing to a deep sleep.

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