Chapter 281 – A Form of Protection
Housekeeper Zhang was surprised to see Wei Chen return. “Young Master Chen, why have you returned?”
“Uncle Zhang, where’s my dad?” Wei Chen nodded at Housekeeper Zhang, acknowledging him, and headed straight for his purpose in returning today.
“Your father is in the study talking with the old master,” Housekeeper Zhang replied. “Young Master, shall I announce your arrival?”
“No need, I’ll go by myself.” Wei Chen bypassed Housekeeper Zhang and headed directly towards the study. The study door was slightly ajar, perhaps because Housekeeper Zhang hadn’t closed it properly when he arrived or intentionally left a gap. Wei Chen paused his hand on the door handle, remembering Housekeeper Zhang’s words at the staircase. He hesitated in pushing the door, stopped, stood outside, restraining his breath, and listened intently to the voices inside.
Inside the study, Wei Zhenxiong and the old master, Wei, hadn’t noticed Wei Chen standing outside. They conversed without awareness.
“Dad, it’s impossible for me to divorce Fang Yun,” Wei Zhenxiong stated firmly.
“I know what you’re up to. After all these years, you’re still so greedy. You cheat on Fang Yun outside and yet expect her undivided loyalty. Do you think that’s possible?” Even though Wei Zhenxiong was his son, the old master didn’t approve of this aspect of him.
“I just couldn’t control myself this time,” Wei Zhenxiong tried to defend himself.
“This time, figure it out on your own. If Fang Yun is determined to divorce you, do you think locking her up for a few days will solve everything?” The old master glared at Wei Zhenxiong, feeling disappointed.
“Dad, tell me, how is Fang Yun right in this? She wronged me first back then. I couldn’t resist a fling now, how does that give her the right to demand a divorce?” Wei Zhenxiong argued.
The old master looked at Wei Zhenxiong, seeing his self-righteousness, almost wanting to slap him.
However, before Wei Zhenxiong could realize the old master’s thoughts, he continued, “Dad, think about it. Back then, no matter what, Zhang Ze was supposed to be Fang Yun’s elder brother. How did she end up getting involved with Zhang Ze? If this affair were exposed, how would it reflect on me? Even now, I don’t know if Wei Chen is really my own. There’s a chance he’s a bastard between Fang Yun and Zhang Ze, isn’t there?”
Wei Zhenxiong couldn’t contain himself and poured out his grievances to the old master.
The old master intended to say something, but the study door was pushed open. Both Wei Zhenxiong and the old master turned their heads, surprised.
“Achen, when did you come back?” the old master asked, his brow furrowed.
Wei Chen didn’t respond, just stared coldly at Wei Zhenxiong. “Where’s my mom?”
Wei Zhenxiong felt unnerved under Wei Chen’s gaze, avoiding eye contact.
“Where’s my mom?” Wei Chen repeated.
Wei Zhenxiong couldn’t withstand Wei Chen’s icy gaze and confessed, “I locked her in the attic.” He felt overwhelmed by the cold, authoritative aura emanating from Wei Chen, making it hard for him to breathe.
Wei Chen turned away and hurried towards the attic.
At the staircase, Housekeeper Zhang was waiting. Seeing Wei Chen, Housekeeper Zhang handed over the key and whispered, “Madam didn’t do it voluntarily back then.”
This ‘not voluntarily’ was to put it mildly, to put it more directly, Fang Yun was forced by Zhang Ze back then!
Wei Chen was taken aback. After thanking Housekeeper Zhang, he swiftly headed towards the attic on the top floor.
When Wei Chen opened the attic door, Fang Yun had already lost consciousness. Her face bore signs of physical assault, indicating that Wei Zhenxiong had subjected her to domestic violence before this. There was a cut on her wrist; perhaps due to her weakness, she lacked the strength to cut it deeper, or else Wei Chen would have encountered a lifeless body.
Fang Yun was desperate for death. Although the housekeeper had brought food for Fang Yun, she hadn’t taken a single bite.
Seeing Fang Yun in such a state, Wei Chen’s heart clenched. He rushed to her, performed first aid, and turned to Housekeeper Zhang following him, shouting, “Call an ambulance, quickly!”
Without hesitation, Housekeeper Zhang took out a phone and dialed for emergency services, wearing a look of disbelief.
He hadn’t anticipated things to have escalated to this level. When he brought food to Fang Yun earlier that morning, everything had seemed fine. How had it turned into this?
Fang Yun had just passed out, and under Wei Chen’s urgent care and calls, she slowly opened her eyes. When she recognized Wei Chen in front of her, she weakly smiled, trying to raise her hand to touch his face, but she lacked the strength to do so.
“Achen… I’m sorry…” Fang Yun thought it was just her pre-death hallucination, a mercy from heaven that allowed her to see her owed son before dying.
“Mom, it’s me.” Wei Chen seemed to understand Fang Yun’s thoughts, taking her hand. In that moment, all his resentment and hatred towards Fang Yun vanished. What stood before Wei Chen now was a mother, a simple yet incredibly real mother.
However, Fang Yun seemed to consider Wei Chen as her pre-death illusion. She summoned all her remaining strength to voice the thoughts buried in her heart for years. If she didn’t let Wei Chen know she loved him, she wouldn’t die peacefully. Even if this was a last glimmer of hope before death, even if it was all an illusion, what difference would it make?
“Achen, I’m sorry for what I’ve done to you.”
“I shouldn’t have pushed you away, shouldn’t have ignored you.”
“But I had no other choice, you know? I had no other way.”
“He said you’re not his child. If I’m kind to you, he’ll be twice as cruel. Do you understand?”
“I can’t provoke him. If I do, he’ll tell the old master about your uncertain parentage, and your future will be ruined.”
“Achen, I’m sorry, I truly love you.”
“Achen, please forgive Mom. Mom is about to leave; you have to take care.”
“Please take care.”
Perhaps feeling this was her final chance for redemption with Wei Chen, Fang Yun used all her strength to restrain her fading consciousness. She tightly held Wei Chen’s hand, her gaze gradually losing focus but filled with hope.
Wei Chen, to prevent Fang Yun from slipping back into unconsciousness, forcefully swallowed back the forgiveness he wanted to express.
The ambulance arrived promptly. As the doctors lifted Fang Yun onto the stretcher, she held Wei Chen’s hand tightly, her gaze fixed on him, unable to be diverted.
Moving alongside the stretcher, at the staircase, Wei Chen collided with Wei Zhenxiong. Wei Zhenxiong tried to reach out, but Wei Chen waved him off. Wei Chen cast a cold, cutting glance at Wei Zhenxiong, severing all ties between them.
After three hours of emergency treatment, Fang Yun was saved but remained unconscious. She was currently under observation in the intensive care unit. The doctor mentioned that Fang Yun had numerous recent injuries all over her body, without any old scars, indicating they were recently inflicted. Severe dehydration and malnutrition were evident, estimating that she hadn’t had any water for two to three days.
The doctor expressed anger while mentioning these details, especially when they found out Wei Chen was the patient’s son, directing their wrath towards Wei Chen, raining harsh words on him.
Wei Chen bowed his head under the doctor’s scolding, his eyes reddening with tears welling up, bitterness flooding his heart.
Later, Wei Yan arrived.
Wei Yan saw Wei Chen in the hospital corridor. He sat beside Wei Chen, sensing Wei Chen’s low spirits, and reached out to pat Wei Chen’s back in a comforting gesture.
Wei Chen raised his head, locking eyes with Wei Yan.
“Do you know about what happened back then?” Wei Chen asked, his tone resolute. “I can sense the guilt you carry, but I don’t know the reason. Can you tell me now?”
Zhang Ze was Wei Yan’s father, the illegitimate son of Old Master Wei. Wei Yan should have understood the truth of what happened back then, hence feeling indebted and seeking redemption.
Wei Yan took a deep breath. “Yes, I know it all.”
“It was my dad who forced Aunt back then, and I saw it with my own eyes,” Wei Yan said bitterly. He still didn’t know what Zhang Ze’s psychology was back then. When he forced Fang Yun, he pressed him, who was only three years old, to watch.
“After a month, Aunt became pregnant with you. So Uncle couldn’t be sure if you were his own. He resented you, but Grandfather favored you, so he dared not harm you. He even wanted to use your existence to gain more attention from Grandfather. But Aunt didn’t know this. All she knew was his hatred towards you. To protect you, she started distancing herself, neglecting you. Because if she showed you kindness, Uncle would see it as disrespect towards him, as disdain. Aunt feared he’d retaliate those emotions against you.”
None of this had been shared with Wei Yan by Fang Yun; he had deduced it from his observations during that period.
“Wei Chen, Aunt has always loved you,” Wei Yan said with a heavy tone.
Fang Yun was a tragic woman, frail yet protecting her child in her own way. Her way remained misunderstood, causing her son to drift away. As the child grew stronger, no longer needing her protection, she sought to mend their relationship. However, by then, her child had been pushed too far by her own hands and wouldn’t turn back to look at her again.
“I know,” Wei Chen’s voice was hoarse. Only now did he realize all this after that woman who loved him suffered so much.
“Achen, this isn’t your fault,” Wei Yan comforted, feeling Wei Chen’s self-blame.
Wei Chen was just a victim in all of this. Wei Chen’s character would grow colder, becoming almost mechanical before meeting Chen Li, all because of these events.
Wei Chen stayed silent, his gaze penetrating through the glass, landing on Fang Yun inside, tears finally streaming down.