Ding Jiayi felt terribly wronged. "I didn't do anything. I have no idea what's wrong with your dad. Why would he move without telling me? You can't blame me for this. It must be that wretched girl who bad-mouthed me in front of your dad. I must have owed that wretched girl in my previous life. She is born to collect debts from me!"

For the past two months, she felt that she had been very well-behaved. This time, the problem certainly did not lie with her.

"Has Nan Nan been back from school? Impossible, if I remember correctly, like me, Nan Nan will only be back this week. Mom, when did Dad move without telling you?" Qiao Zijin counted with her fingers. She felt perplexed.

Ding Jiayi thought hard about it. "No, that wretched girl never took leave to come back."

"If so, how could Nan Nan badmouth you in front of Dad?"

"Don't forget that your dad went to Ping Cheng High School for the parent-teacher conference last weekend. I tried to please your dad by volunteering to go with him, but he refused!"

"Parent-teacher conference?" Qiao Zijin frowned. "Then, she might have the chance to talk to Dad. But over the years, Qiao Nan did not complain about us to Dad. This time around, something serious must have happened to make Dad move to a new place. Mom, think again. Did you provoke Dad or Nan Nan during or after the parent-teacher conference?"

"I didn't provoke her!" Ding Jiayi said. "I didn't even get to see her, so how could I provoke her? Are you helping me or helping her?"

"Are you lying to me? Did you really not provoke Qiao Nan?" Ding Jiayi said matter-of-factly with not even a slight twinge of guilt in her tone. Qiao Zijin began to have doubts. If her mother really did something, she would keep it from others, but she would not lie to her.

"I swear I didn't do anything!"

"Then, it would have to do with Dad and Qiao Nan." Qiao Zijin pursed her lips. "Let's forget about what happened previously. This time, it is too much of Dad to move to a new place without telling us. Mom, we have to think of some ways to find Dad and get him to give us an explanation. I don't believe that Dad will abandon you and me for Qiao Nan."

"No, your dad will not do that. I am his only wife. In the future, that wretched girl and you will have your own family. I will be the only one who will stay by his side until the end. They say that when young couples turn old, they will be each other's companion. Your dad will not abandon me. It must be that wretched girl who gave your dad this idea. Your dad won't abandon you and me." She did not believe that the wretched girl would stay by Old Qiao's side until he grew old, and that she would choose to stay single all her life for her father.

"You should know that Dad values Qiao Nan very much. He will listen to whatever Qiao Nan says. Why did you still anger her? Right now, even if you do a hundred good things, it will not be comparable to Qiao Nan putting in a good word for you. Do you understand? If you want to reconcile with Dad, it's not enough to please Dad. You have to work on pleasing Qiao Nan as well. I am not asking for much. If you give Qiao Nan a tenth of the attention and care that you give me, Qiao Nan will certainly be happy too."

As long as it was for their long-term benefit, she did not mind her mother giving some attention to Qiao Nan.

Anyway, when her mother had reconciled with her father, her mother would revert to the usual ways and give her all the attention again.

"I have treated her as if she was my ancestor. I didn't beat her or yell at her. I served her food and waited on her every day. What more could I do?!" The fear and worry that plagued Ding Jiayi the past few days vanished as soon as Qiao Zijin was by her side. Ding Jiayi calmed down and felt more confident.

"If you insist, there's no way that we can continue this conversation. Mom, you have to remember. Dad will only be happy when Qiao Nan is happy. Whether your relationship with Dad will change is totally dependent on yourself. Something must have happened to make Dad move to a new place without telling you. You may be able to find him this time, but you can't guarantee that you will always be able to find out his whereabouts. Most importantly, Qiao Nan is only in the first year. No matter where Dad moved to, it should be within Ping Cheng. But if Qiao Nan enters the college in three years' time and leaves Ping Cheng, will Dad still stay in Ping Cheng? Will you be able to find him then?"

"Then, we must forbid that wretched girl from studying in a college that is not in Ping Cheng!"

"You don't even know where Dad is. How are you able to stop Qiao Nan from enrolling in the college of her choice? If Qiao Nan has good results and you refuse to let her continue with her studies, Dad is not going to let you off. Enough of all these foolish words. It's been a year. Do you think that Qiao Nan is still the young lady who obeys us? If you thwart her study plans, she will lodge a complaint to Dad and you will be the one who suffers. After being plotted against by Qiao Nan for so many times, haven't you learned your ways, Mom?"

Qiao Zijin had a headache. After what happened at the Zhai's residence, she finally realized that unless she had absolute confidence, she had better not provoke Qiao Nan.

There was one thing that she regretted the most. Qiao Nan would always keep her silence even when being bullied at home, but she had such good connections outside. She was on friendly terms with the influential Zhai family.

If she knew that Qiao Nan was acquainted with the daughter of the Zhai family, she would have asked Qiao Nan to introduce her to the Zhai family so that she could be on friendly terms with them.

Qiao Nan could only manage to be close to the children in the family. If it was her, she would have a way to win the favor of the elders in the Zhai family to the extent that they would treat her as their goddaughter.

That day, Qiao Nan had left and Qiao Zijin did not realize it in time.

Though the Zhai family had seen the disgraced and ugliest side of her, she was thick-skinned enough to pester Zhai Hua and Miao Jing, trying to be close to them. However, Zhai Hua and Miao Jing did not pay much attention to them. They merely gave polite and short replies. They did not have the time to have a proper chat before Zhai Hua mentioned that they had something on and shut the door on them.

Qiao Zijin looked at the tightly shut door and knew that she had missed a golden opportunity.

Qiao Nan had the approval of Elder Lee, while Elder Zhu was full of praise for her. On top of that, she also knew people from the Zhai family.

Qiao Zijin could not take it lying down. She was certainly very outstanding. However, she never had the opportunity to get to know those influential people. She was not as lucky as Qiao Nan who had endless chances.

If she had known that Qiao Nan was so capable, she definitely would have tried to get along with Qiao Nan. With her temper, it would be easy to coax some information from her.

Be it the Lee family, the Zhu family, or even the Zhai family. If she had connections with any of them, she would not need to worry about her future or getting a good husband.



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