As it was summer in the Mediterranean, the ground was parched and dry. The scorching summer and especially hot weather made the heat in the desert even more unbearable. The hot temperature, along with the vicious heat of the sun, could easily toast a person.
Third Young Master Ye and Cheng Anya had been walking in the desert for two days. They were tired and thirsty, and Cheng Anya was so tired she almost collapsed. Louis had tortured her physically and mentally when she was on the island, and her infirmed self along with the virus in her made her condition far unlike before.
A sea of sand, without end, filled their vision.
As the chocolate that Third Young Master Ye had brought was almost consumed, he spared some each time he ate it. He gave them all to Cheng Anya to fill her hunger. With no source of water in the desert, he estimated that the two of them would not last for long.
“Take a break first,” Third Young Master Ye said as he helped her shade beneath a rock, both sweating profusely. After walking for two days in the desert, their faces were caked in sand and they looked hideous. Cheng Anya’s long and soft hair felt dry and stiff like hay, and her clothes were dirty and unkempt.
After they walked for a few hours, they were extremely tired. Third Young Master Ye’s eyebags were extremely visible. Being stuck there, unable to escape, left him even more panicky than anybody else. With only ten-over days left for the virus in Cheng Anya’s body to violently act up, a short relapse in a day’s time would make their movements even more difficult.
Third Young Master Ye gave the last piece of chocolate in the backpack to Cheng Anya. Cheng Anya knew that she was extremely hungry, but the thirst was the hardest to bear. They had not drunk for two days and their lips were parched. Their hunger, in contrast, did not stand out as badly.
Her desire for water was stronger than anything else.
“Half each.” Cheng Anya did not respond but looked at Third Young Master Ye. “Is this the last piece?”
Third Young Master Ye, looking solemn, nodded. Based on where they landed, the situation was much worse than he had expected. Early the next day, Third Young Master Ye determined that a water source must be nearby as the region of the desert they were in was mineral-rich and had multiple nitrate layers with sparse plants and shrubbery. Animals roaming in the night also meant that the soil in the region was rich in water. Hence, the vicinity of a water source was without question. Third Young Master Ye, after leading Cheng Anya for two days without discovering an oasis or water source, was clearly dejected.
Especially when seeing Cheng Anya’s rapidly thinning face and extremely tired body, it made him feel even worse but was unable to show it. He could only swallow his worries and fears.
He was their pillar of hope. If he showed the slightest fear, what about her?
Third Young Master Ye had always warned himself that he was strong enough alone for her to rely on, and how he could not allow her to be shocked and in fear following her inhumane torture. If he lapsed, he would break down.
“You take it. I’m not hungry,” Third Young Master Ye said flatly. “Your strength is nowhere near mine. How could you go any further if you do not replenish your strength? Hang on for a while more. There is definitely a water source.”
Cheng Anya smiled. Like Third Young Master Ye, her smile, in spite of her suffering, fatigue, and desperation, never disappeared. This was different from her feigned smile before.
It was a really happy and warm smile that reinvigorated others. It was like cooling water in the heat of summer. Even Third Young Master Ye could feel her strength and encouragement.
She was always such a special woman—wealth mattered little to her, and she was able to weather the storm with him despite his typical provocations, bickering, and arguments. When they faced a crisis, she gave him hope.
“Look at how skinny you have become over the past two days! Stop inflating your self-worth.” Miss Cheng smiled. “You have not had anything last night. If I collapse, you can still carry me along. If you collapse, I won’t be able to carry you. You weigh more than 60 kg, so you will undoubtedly crush me. I don’t want the two of us to die together here.”
Third Young Master Ye’s palm landed on her face as he scolded her jokingly. “You damn lass.”
His doting on her was unspoken yet clear.
Cheng Anya’s thoughtfulness was often reason-loaded, and while one would think she never meant it as such, one would feel that she made sense if they listened to her.
Eventually, the chocolate was equally shared amongst the two of them.
“Eating this makes me feel like puking.” Cheng Anya complained. Although she still ate it, she was extremely opinionated. “I dare to say that I’ll avoid chocolate for years.”
“Don’t contradict yourself,” Third Young Master Ye said as a subtle gentleness covered his delicate features. “Chocolate is, in itself, extremely meaningful. Don’t you women hope men give you chocolates and roses?”
“Those are the things that young girls who take to their first love will fancy,” Cheng Anya smiled and said. “I’ve grown up and don’t like such flowery things. These romantic cells die off with time.”
“Look at that character of yours… What made you so happy when I previously gave you roses?” Third Young Master Ye could not help but roll his eyes. He still clearly remembered the smile which blossomed on her face, like roses in full bloom, that night.
It was, like a bright pearl, extremely charming.”
“…I say, why are we talking about unhelpful stuff like roses and chocolates in such an environment?” Cheng Anya looked at Third Young Master Ye with a despising glance through slanted eyes.
“Dear Anya, you started it, okay?” Third Young Master Ye could not help but kick her. Not too far away, the sand roiled as sand and rocks flew. He could not understand whether he had a knowledge gap or whether his character was flawed. Why could he not locate a water source?
To know that there was obviously a water source in the area but still not locate it after two days left Third Young Master Ye extremely unwilling.
When he told Cheng Anya what was on his mind, Cheng Anya broke into laughter. “It’s definitely your character flaw.”
Damn it, this was a very philosophical question.
As the chocolates could no longer keep them full, they were, at most, less uncomfortable. Cheng Anya looked at the majestic scenery and said, “Did you know what I wished for when I was in high school?”
“To marry a good man.” Third Young Master Ye teased then tapped Miss Cheng’s head as he had a cocky, then blessed look on his face. He said, “Good girl, your wish has come true.”
Cheng Anya swatted his hand away and almost wanted to punch him as he was really asking for it. “When I just started tenth grade, I had a geography lesson. When I saw the picture of a desert, I looked forward to seeing the beauty of the desert for myself. This wish never came true for years, and to think it came true when I was fleeing for my life. Dreams, really, are nothing short of abstract.”
Third Young Master Ye kept silent and ignored her. After some thoughts, he said, “Do you know what I wanted to do when I was in high school?”
“Raid and pillage,” Miss Cheng replied calmly.
“…How smart of you.” Third Young Master Ye praised her with a smile.
Cheng Anya looked at him sideways and disdained him for a few moments. “Damn it, do you even have a life in high school? You were either playing power games with Fourth Young Master Tang and Lin, or raiding and pillaging. Good thing you had your senior high education in America and spared the youth in City A of your shenanigans.”
Third Young Master Ye was stunned into silence.
“Well, Ning Ning will be no different in the future. What do you have to say about that?” Third Young Master Ye said with a chuckle and felt like strangling Miss Cheng. Why did he not get any praise for that? He was stifled.
“I should tell you that Ning Ning’s problem is a hereditary one that has not the slightest relationship with me. My family background is clean. We are gentle-tempered, look good, and are wise. For me to give birth to such a badass son is definitely your problem. Besides, the father is to be blamed for a child’s poor upbringing, so that excludes me from the equation.” Miss Cheng smiled calmly and clarified the question about Ning Ning’s badassery with relation to his DNA.
Third Young Master Ye smiled alluringly and said, “Gentle-tempered, looks good, and wise… Dear Anya, are you trying to pull off the coldest joke possible in the heat of the day?”
Miss Cheng coolly smiled and said, “You sure lack a sense of humor.”
Just as Third Young Master Ye was about to rebut, he suddenly frowned. “Did you hear what I hear?”
“Seems to be the sound of water.”
Third Young Master Ye’s eyes grew bright as a burning hope grew in his deep, dark eyes. He quickly stood up from the ground and determined that the sound came from the other side of the rock face. He quickly climbed around the rock face, and his eyes instantly grew wide.
It was indeed an oasis.
The lush greenery and clear pool of water, along with foliage and tall trees was a vibrancy that was akin to paradise to the two of them who had been walking in the desert for days.
It was a paradise on earth.
“Anya…” Third Young Master Ye turned back and shouted, only to find Cheng Anya next to him. As she saw the oasis, she was exhilarated. Like oblivious fools, they did not discover an oasis behind the huge rock face.
The scenery behind the rock face was totally different.
“It’s so beautiful!” Cheng Anya could not help but exclaim.
The clear water, bushes, and warm wind carried the scent of grass. Although a huge desert surrounded it, the oasis was like a pearl amidst the roiling yellow sand.
“Do you finally believe it?” Third Young Master Ye was like a dog that proudly wagged its tail hard. He was so proud of it that he felt elevated.
That sense of pride… let’s put it aside.
To see your own woman gush praises at you was perfect. That was only Third Young Master Ye’s hope. How could Cheng Anya gush praises at him?
Both of them were extremely thirsty, and the clear, yet mildly salty water was the source of life to them. Cheng Anya could not wait to plunge her head into it and get really comfortable.
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