Chapter 61 – Self-Introduction
Jennifer stood at the door of the hospital room, looking inside with some curiosity and hesitation. To her surprise, Renly had only been in there for less than a minute before coming back out.
Jennifer stepped aside, making way for Renly to exit. They made brief eye contact and nodded politely before Jennifer looked back into the room, feeling worried for Hazel.
Inside the room, the cold white walls emitted an eerie chill. Hazel was sitting motionless, staring blankly at a kite. The dim light outlined her tense muscles, which were tinged with a sense of weakness. Her anger and helplessness seemed to seep out, as if time had stopped on her frail shoulders and forgotten to move on.
Compared to her earlier outburst and rage, this version of Hazel was even more heart-wrenching.
At this moment, Hazel hesitantly raised her right hand towards the kite, as if wanting to touch it, but stopped in fear. Her stiff fingers trembled, revealing her weakness and struggle.
Jennifer felt a lump in her throat, and she awkwardly lowered her head, wiping away the moisture in her eyes. She took a step forward to enter the room, but the man beside her stepped forward and blocked the doorway, shaking his head silently. His refusal was unquestionable.
This left Jennifer confused and angry. She opened her mouth to argue, but he shook his head again and looked back at the room. Jennifer followed his gaze and she saw Hazel’s right hand drop weakly, her shoulders also drooping in sadness.
Just as Jennifer thought Hazel was about to break down, she straightened her posture and sat quietly, her gaze fixed on the butterfly kite. She didn’t touch it, nor did she lie down again, just calmly maintaining her sitting position. Although there was not much change, Jennifer could feel Hazel’s turbulent emotions slowly calming down.
It was miraculous.
“What’s going on?” Jennifer couldn’t figure it out. She lifted her head to ask Renly, but she caught a glimpse of Hazel turning around in the corner of her eye. In a panic, she quickly turned around and pressed herself against the wall as far away from the glass window of the hospital room as possible, not wanting to reveal her whereabouts.
Her heart was beating rapidly, and Jennifer felt like she was suffocating in this moment. She turned her head and saw Renly on the other side, no different from her, clinging to the wall like a gecko, with a panicked expression on his face. It was so comical that Jennifer couldn’t help but burst out laughing – but then she realized this was not a good idea, so she bit her lip tightly and controlled her laughter.
The two of them maintained their posture for a while, and then Jennifer noticed that Renly stood up confidently with a calm expression on his face. Jennifer got momentarily stunned, but then she quickly realized – they had already avoided the glass of the room’s door and there were no ubiquitous cameras like in a spy movie. It was unnecessary to cling to the wall and crouch down like they did.
Realizing this, Jennifer also slowly stood up and pushed her hair behind her ear to cover her embarrassment. She saw Renly step away and leave the area of the hospital room out of the corner of her eye, so she hurriedly caught up with him, taking a few big steps to keep pace with him before eagerly asking, “What was that all about? Is Hazel really okay?”
Renly stopped, but Jennifer didn’t brake in time, so she walked past him. She stopped and turned around to face Renly, but didn’t move closer, maintaining the two-step distance between them.
“I don’t know,” Renly replied, leaving Jennifer even more puzzled. “What?” she asked.
Renly shrugged and repeated, “I said, I don’t know.” Then he continued, “I don’t know if Hazel is okay, and I don’t know what she’s thinking. I’m just trying to treat her as a friend. If my friend suddenly disappears for half a year and can’t party or hang out with me, I’ll also be disappointed, even angry, and our friendship can also gradually disappear. If I have a headache, fever, or a cold, I hope someone will take care of me, but I don’t want them to be too noisy, because my head is already throbbing, and I don’t need more noise.”
Jennifer initially wanted to argue back, but gradually her shoulders drooped, and her momentum subsided. It wasn’t because Renly’s words were particularly right, but because of the core meaning Renly revealed: Hazel didn’t need pity, help, or motivation, she needed a friend.
Recalling her own actions just now, Jennifer realized that she might have been too hasty. “Sorry,” Jennifer sighed in frustration, “I just… ” She thought about it but couldn’t find the right words, which made her feel even more defeated. “I just wanted to help.”
“So did I.” Renly’s tone remained calm. “We’re both Hazel’s friends. I think there are different types of friends, like me and you. That’s what makes life colorful.”
“Are you trying to enlighten me or to mock me?” Jennifer knew she had a lot to learn in her future interactions with Hazel, but when she heard Renly’s words, the corners of her mouth couldn’t help but curl up into a smile.
Renly raised his hands in surrender. “People always choose to hear what they want to hear.”
There was a strong sense of sarcasm in his words, but they weren’t harsh. On the contrary, there was a faint warmth in his words. Jennifer bit her lower lip and couldn’t help but smile, nodding in approval as she looked into Renly’s eyes. “I think I owe you an apology for what happened at the Los Angeles airport last time.”
“No, I am the one that should apologize.” Renly also expressed his regret, saying that he shouldn’t have worn earplugs in a crowded public space like the airport.
“Heh.” Jennifer chuckled. She didn’t expect Renly to respond like that. Come to think of it, both times they met, it started with a misunderstanding and ended with her embarrassment. “We’d better not keep apologizing, otherwise people might think I stole your girlfriend.”
With this interpretation, Renly laughed happily and gently closed his jaw, “That’s a reasonable explanation.”
Jennifer’s emotions also relaxed, “But there is one thing, my personality is too impatient, and I am always impulsive. I must improve on this. So, I do owe you an apology.”
“I thought we had passed this stage already.” Renly’s smile made Jennifer pause for a moment, then she thoughtfully asked, “Has anyone ever told you that you don’t look like an Englishman?”
Renly widened his eyes in surprise and asked, “Is that… a good thing or a bad thing?”
Jennifer realized her mistake and waved her hand repeatedly, “Look at me, I spoke without thinking again. What I meant was, your choice of words and tone sound like someone who came out of Cambridge or Oxford, but your smile…” Watching Renly’s increasingly deep smile, Jennifer helplessly rolled her eyes and admitted to herself that she was at a loss, “Well, my personality is obviously going crazy again, just pretend you didn’t hear it.”
In fact, British people don’t smile much. They even refuse to talk on the subway, their smiles carrying a sense of detachment and indifference, and the sense of distance between people is very obvious, especially in London. But Renly’s smile is like… a child’s, Jennifer remembered the scene of Renly flying kites with the children downstairs just now, which is really not like a typical Englishman.
“I’ll take that as a compliment,” Renly said with a light smile and that made Jennifer burst into laughter, “So can that just now be considered as flirting?” After saying that, Jennifer was amused at herself, and she once again laughed brightly. The laughter echoed softly in the corridor, and she immediately realized her rudeness and covered her mouth.
Renly smiled and opened his arms. “If that was flirting, then we both did a terrible job.”
Jennifer nodded in agreement, with a look of disdain on her face. Then she politely extended her right hand, “I think we missed an important step. The gentleman I’m meeting for the second time, I am Jennifer Lawrence.”
Renly had indeed forgotten this step because he already knew who she is. Nonetheless, he extended his right hand, “And the… lady?” Renly’s questioning tone made Jennifer wrinkle her nose in protest, “That I’m meeting for the second time, I’m Renly Hall.”
Then the two shook their hands amiably, closing the distance between them instantly, appearing formal and dignified.
“I have something else to do, so I can’t stay here for long today. See you next time,” Renly said goodbye, politely bowing before he walked past Jennifer towards the elevator.
Jennifer turned around and gave a friendly wave at Renly’s back, ” Goodbye.”
After a few steps, Renly stopped again. Annie was sitting on the orange stool, looking unhappy, and it was clear that the task for the day was still not completed. Renly patted Annie’s little head and said something in a low voice. Then he saw Annie’s chubby face scrunch up, making a silly face at Renly. But there was a hint of a smile in her eyes, which made Renly laugh out loud.
Then Renly stood up and walked towards the elevator. He greeted the nurses at the nurse’s station and quickly disappeared into the elevator.
Jennifer also turned around and walked in the opposite direction, immersing herself once again in her volunteer work. This afternoon was far from over.
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