48 Hours a Day
Chapter 159 - Happy That You Stayed
The conflict ended with the pirates from the Hunter leaving the brothel without a single coin. To thank the brothel’s patrons, Zhang Heng bought them all a round of drinks. He left the place, earning praises and respect for his generosity. Once this matter was settled, Dufresne asked Zhang Heng to head to the arms dealer’s house. It seemed that the arms dealer had managed to get his hands on the ammunition for the Jackdaw’s 24-pound cannons. Dufresne wanted to discuss the number of cannonballs that they would need with Zhang Heng. He also wanted to talk about recruiting a new cook for the ship as well.
It was now sunset, and Zhang Heng finally returned home. Anne was no longer there when he opened the door. He then went to her room to look for her, but she was nowhere to be found as well. After the incident in Charleston, Marvin had decided to stay on the Queen Anne’s Revenge. No one knew where they were at the moment. Now that Anne had moved out too, Zhang Heng was left alone in this empty space.
Suddenly, Zhang Heng felt something missing in the house. On a typical day, Anne would complain that she was hungry at this hour. Right now, there was all but silence. Unconsciously, Zhang Heng had gotten used to Anne’s voice around the house.
He missed her tough masculine antics.
He missed her coming home to him after fighting with someone outside.
He missed her long rants about other pirates looking down on her.
The truth was, Zhang Heng wasn’t prepared for her eventual departure. Buying a house had always been Anne’s dream. As she was one step closer to her goal, she gradually lost the reason to continue staying in Zhang Heng’s house. Just this morning, the two of them were talking about how she could do whatever she wanted when she had her room. And Zhang Heng was genuinely happy for her. Somehow, the two avoided the topic of their separation.
Zhang Heng finished his dinner alone that night. Before he went to bed, he read the journal that he took from the Jackdaw. Suddenly, in the middle of the night, he was woken by a curious rustling in the house. Immediately, his eyes popped open, and he grabbed the saber lying next to him. In all possibility, it was an intruder breaking in. Considering the Jackdaw and the black-market alliance were not on good terms, Zhang Heng knew that he had the potential to make enemies. Logically, Malcolm wouldn’t have sent someone to kill him since the black-market alliance hadn’t officially considered him as their enemy. Besides, a man of Malcolm’s stature would surely not resort to using such a despicable method to eliminate Zhang Heng.
To prevent himself from becoming a gunshot victim, Zhang Heng swiftly lit the oil lamps in his house. He then lay flat in front of the door and attempted to listen to the footsteps outside his room. When the sounds in the hallway stopped, Zhang Heng instantly stood up and opened the door. He was hoping to surprise the intruder with his saber. However, the shadowy figure in front of him was quick enough to dodge his attack. Instead of retreating, the intruder’s fist was raised and was poised to attack.
The intruder was bolder than Zhang Heng expected. He wanted to dodge the intruder’s attack, but quickly realized that it was too late to do so. The intruder landed a hard punch on his chin. He was thinking of slashing the intruder at the same time but held back. Soon, the conflict turned into an intense fight in the dark. After a while, Zhang Heng noticed that the intruder’s moves were too familiar. He had sparred a couple of times with Anne and was familiar with her movements. He was also pretty sure that Anne knew that she was fighting him. However, she had no intention to stop her brawls anytime soon. He could feel her getting more excited with every breath.
The moment Zhang Heng hesitated for a short while, he was hit in the chest twice and was forced to recollect himself to handle Anne’s relentless attacks. The battle abruptly ended when Anne jumped on him and pinned him to the ground. To Zhang Heng’s surprise, his sword skill had been promoted to LV 2 once the fight was over. He was left speechless when he received the notification. On the other hand, Anne was gasping for air, and her face was flushing as well.
“Why are you not talking?”
“You came back in the middle of the bloody night just to fight with me?!”
“Of course not. I’m here to inform you that I’m not buying the house.”
Anne let go of Zhang Heng’s arm, slid her butt across his belly, and got off from him.
“Why? Wasn’t that your lifelong dream?”
“I thought it was. When I was young, my father was the one who provided me with food and a place to stay. On the contrary, my mom had to constantly please his whims and demands. At that time, I thought I could freely live the way I wanted if I had my own house. So, that became my main goal when I came to Nassau. Completing my goal meant that I was finally independent.”
“You have done some awe-inspiring things in this era.”
At that point in history, women were perceived as the weaker of the sexes. Hence, their social status was way lower compared to men. Though Zhang Heng had helped her a lot in Nassau, the fact that she managed to gain the respect of the men around her was indeed unprecedented.
“I don’t want to leave this place. Buying the house means that I can finally live freely. However, if I can’t live the life that I want even after buying the house, it would be pointless. That’s not freedom to me. I mean, it’s good to have my own house and all, and I would very much enjoy putting my legs on the dining table and not being forced to finish my soup. But, my true freedom has nothing to do with all that. I want to be able to choose the life that I wish to lead.”
Once she was done talking, she pushed Zhang Heng to the floor, ripped off her top, and climbed on him.
“I like you! I don’t care whether you like me or you have your eye on others. I don’t care if or when you’ll leave me. Maybe this love that I have for you will disappear someday. By that time, I will reserve the right to leave you.”
In the dark, Zhang Heng could see her eyes alight with the flames of passion. After hesitating for a short while, Zhang Heng caressed her body with his hands. He gently ran over the scars littering her soft skin.
“Are they ugly?” asked a bashful Anne.
“No. They are beautiful.”
Zhang Heng was dying to tell her, to be not so cavalier about her life and so blindly charge at every enemy that came at her. Nevertheless, he chose to stay mum in the end. Knowing her personality through and through, Zhang Heng knew that it was pointless telling her things like that.
“I’m glad that you’ve decided to stay.”