Scarring Jasmine-Chapter Fourteen Nail

06/15/2024 Saturday 61-83F Sunny

Jasmine’s face crimsoned. It came as too much of a surprise; she didn’t know what to say, nor how to react.

Zhao took Jasmine’s hands. She tried to withdraw them from his but failed. “I am married.” In haste, she seized these words like a drowning man seizing a piece of drifting wood. 

“It doesn’t matter.” Zhao studied her face, “Divorce, leave your husband. He doesn’t love you.” 

“I can’t. My father and father-in-law won’t allow me to do so.”

“Are others opinion that important to you? You will be wasted in this marriage.”

Jasmine felt like fainting; she almost couldn’t breathe. Zhao must have sensed it. He loosened his hands and helped her sit on a stool near the window. He tucked one leg and knelt the other one at her feet. 

“I am sorry Jasmine; I didn’t mean to agitate you.” He dropped his head, but still held her hand. 

“I am neither an educated man, nor skilled in expressing my feelings without annoying you. Before I met you, I never loved any woman; after you, what will happen to me I don’t know but I do know that my world will be empty. Once before I happened to pass a place called Peach Blossom Dock; it was so beautiful thus I told myself that one day I would live there with the woman whom I loved the most. I would build a house for her, plant thirty acres of peach trees for her; we would raise our children and when she became old and wrinkled, I would still cherish her. Don’t you want to be that woman?”

Jasmine avoided seeing his eyes, “That place isn’t for me.” She rose from the stool, “I must go home now.”

Zhao didn’t release her hand. He arose, hesitated then asked: “Can I see you again?” 

“No, we mustn’t.” She turned her head and hid it in the shadows. She tried desperately not to let her tears fall. 

He freed her hand and walked to the window, with his back to her. “My life is turned upside down for you; while after all these efforts, I even can’t move your stone heart a bit. How unfortunate I am!” 

Then he turned around and came to her again, fixing his eyes on her face: “If that’s your wish, I will accept it. But before I let you go, if you have any sympathy for me, please allow me to have this little fingernail as a keepsake.” He pressed her left hand against his burning lips, begging: “This is my last request. After that, you will go your way, I will go mine. If there is a next life, this keepsake will be the key for me to find you.” 

Looking at his sorrowful eyes, Jasmine’s sense almost collapsed. His misery seemed so deep and sincere: Peach blossom Dock, children…All was fascinating yet convincing; his burning lips, his strong warm hands… The feeling about her first physical contact with another man was genuine and impressed her. 

However, there was an unshakable voice growing louder and louder in her mind: She mustn’t disgrace her family; she was a married woman.

Bewitched by that emotional atmosphere, she no more could refuse his request. He had her fingernail. 

Under the light, they examined each other’s face for a long time, then Zhao spoke: “Jasmine, I think you like me more than you thought you would. You just suppress yourself too much.” He sighed and took out a little box from his inside pocket, “This is a gift for you.” He slid it into her hand, “Jasmine, please remember: No matter what I did or will do, it is for you and for us. You must forgive me!”

On the way home in the rickshaw, under the streetlights, Jasmine opened that box: In it was a long hair pin made from white jade; its end was delicately carved into jasmine flowers—which was the shape of Zhao’s heart. Tears wetted her cheeks. “Perhaps he is the only man in my life who would do these things for me.” With that thought, her rickshaw carrying her ran along the deserted street toward her cold, stone-built home. 

Next morning Zhao called Tiger to his room. “Tiger, go find an intelligent man who can write nice letters, and his handwriting must be decent. Quick! I have an urgent letter to be sent.”

Soon the man was found. Zhao gestured him to a chair at the writing table, “Professor, nice to meet you. Today I would like you to write a very important letter for me. Of course your efforts will be highly rewarded. Here are the ink and paper.” 

“Thanks master,” The old man nodded. “I will do my best. Could you please let me know what I should write in this letter?” 

“It will be sent to an asshole father-in-law.” Zhao explained, “I want him to free his daughter-in-law from her miserable marriage so I can marry her myself. In the letter, please tell him that his son is another arrogant asshole who never appreciates her. She is just like a caged bird. She and I are in love; I have her left hand’s little fingernail as a keepsake. At the end of the letter, make it clear that for the sake of his reputation and my loved woman and myself, he should give her freedom. Now you can start, make sure the words you picked will be impressive. Once you finish it, please read it to me first.”

The old man thought for a while, then started to draft. After some modifications requested by Zhao, the draft was finalized. The man asked: “Master, may I know to whom I should address this letter? And who is the sender? 

“Just write ‘Master Wang’ as the recipient; while about the sender,” Zhao held his chin and pondered, “I like the name ‘Peach Blossom Boss’, please use this.” 



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