I kept feeling something warm, moist and heavy rubbing my belly at night. I opened my eyes and looked down. I saw Leah’s silver hair. She sat on my belly and slid up and down it. Noticing me wake up, she giggled. I seemingly detected a tinge of bashfulness from her giggle.
“Leah, what are you doing?”
“Leah wants to cheer Papa up, so Leah is trying this method. Sophia said that this would make you happy, but do you genuinely feel happy, Papa?”
Leah continued to slide along my hip and belly. If she understood what the action meant and did it on the right spot, yeah, the person on the bottom would most probably be delighted. However, pure Leah was uneducated on what the real meaning behind the action was. As a result, she interpreted it as shifting back and forth on my hips. The thing was, that wouldn’t make me happy…
I grabbed Leah hips and moved her aside.
“Papa, are you really not happy?” Leah hugged me and asked.
I smiled back: “Hmm? Is Papa not happy? There hasn’t been any trouble lately, right? Papa is happy; you don’t need to worry about Papa.”
Leah blinked. Though she was in her adult form, she still wore a child’s unhappy gaze: “Papa, you are lying. Leah can sense whether Papa is happy or not. Papa does not smell happy. Papa was happy only at the beginning, not now. Papa doesn’t smell happy anymore. Papa is lying to us.”
I fell silent for a brief moment. I caressed Leah’s head and kissed her cheek: “… Leah, don’t tell Veirya.”
“Why, Papa? Aren’t we family?” asked a confused Leah. “Leah is sure that Mama Veirya also cares about Papa. Why can’t we tell Mama Veirya? Papa, if you are not happy, shouldn’t you let us cheer you up? Leah promises to be a good girl!”
“So… you were such a good girl to cheer Papa up, were you?” I caressed Leah’s head: “Papa has failed because Papa made you worry. Don’t worry, however, Leah, Papa will soon adjust. There’s no need to worry.”
Leah responded with a firm nod: “Uhm!”
Snuggled up in my arms, Leah touched my face with a smile: “Leah will always be with Papa! Papa doesn’t need to worry about Leah. Leah will be fine as long as Leah is with Papa. It doesn’t matter where we live. Leah wants to see Papa happy, not downhearted Papa.”
I gave Leah a kiss on the forehead and ended the conversation there. Leah gradually fell asleep, but sleep eluded me for the rest of the night. The moonlight in the dark sky outside the window and the first rays of sunlight mixed together, forming a new colour.
I contemplated, “What exactly should I do now? Am I really that unhappy? What do I want deep down? What should I be thinking about? Isn’t everything that I fight for to put a smile on Leah’s sleeping face? Isn’t that what I truly want to protect? Although Leah said she’d be fine living anywhere with me, as her father, shouldn’t I provide her with a large house that has a large garden? I have what I wanted to give her, so is there any need for me to gamble with anything?”
I shut my eyes and fastened my arms around my daughter. Whether I was happy or not was of no importance. I could live happily however life treated me, but Leah couldn’t. I couldn’t gamble with her future. The current life she had was earned through several ordeals. I couldn’t be so selfish.
“Why can’t I get rid of the numbers, coal mine and Edward’s financial records book from my mind?” I asked myself.
“People say that marriage is a man’s grave…”
“You’ve climbed into your grave too soon…”
I mused, “Have I already climbed into my grave? I’m not even thirty yet. Am I going to climb into my grave already? I admit that there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to end it here… Why am I by Veirya’s side now? Why am I able to be by her side? Additionally, do I have enough money to provide Leah and Veirya with a happy life? Is this enough money? If I quit now, will I be able to provide them with a life that is good enough? Angelina is also right. Is this really the Lin Dongqing that Veirya wants?”
I don’t know if I slept that night or not, but I realised something that night. I woke up when the sun was up. I gently pulled the blanket up for Leah then made my way downstairs.
Anna and Ross were already busy preparing breakfast in the kitchen. After Ross joined us, Anna had managed to offload her workload by a decent amount. She smiled when she saw me: “Sir, you sure are up early today. Is something the matter?”
“No, nothing. I just have something on my mind.”
I sat down at the table with a smile. Veirya openly opened the door and came in from outside, wiping her hair and dusting tree leaves off her. She gave me a small nod: “A little early. Today.”
“Did you go for a morning run?”
“Lord Veirya goes for runs daily. It is just that she is usually back before you wake.”
I regarded Veirya with my eyes. Her scent was more prominent thanks to her sweat.
“Do you. Have something. You want. To say to me?”
“… Yeah. It’s about the coal mine. It might be worth lots of money. I want to try my luck at it, but that means I’ll have to be running around away from home. I might even have to drop by the imperial capital and gamble everything we currently have for money…”
The more I divulged, the more I regretted divulging it and the more I was reluctant to continue and the more I was reluctant to continue parting with Veirya.
Veirya didn’t give me any reaction until I was done for a while.
“Got it. So. Be careful. When you go. To the imperial capital. Do you need me. To come with you?”
Hearing an unexpected response, I asked, “Veirya, do you actually understand what I just said?”
“No. But. I trust you.”
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