16 A Drop of Red in the Snow (5): One Last Goodbye
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It took a couple of minutes until Luo Lin’s stepfather finally arrived in the room as well. Judging from the angry yells coming from behind him, his wife hadn’t been willing to let him go that easily and he had needed to find some kind of roundabout way to get rid of for to see Luo Lin off.

When he stepped into the room, he stopped, not daring to go over to the youth for a moment.

Luo Lin looked up from where he was sitting, his expression just as careful as his stepfather’s.

The man hesitated for a moment longer and then went over, sitting down in front of him. He reached out and grabbed Luo Lin’s hands, stuffing a small package into his arms. "I’m sorry. This should be your home where you should feel safe and comfortable. But things didn’t turn out as expected. I should have done more for you but … well, she’s my wife. I also can’t just lock her away every day, can I?"

Luo Lin just looked at him, neither nodding nor shaking his head as if he didn’t even have an opinion on this.

His stepfather’s eyelids drooped and he nodded to himself. "I didn’t do well enough, I’m sorry. And I do know that if things were to continue as they are now, I still wouldn’t be able to do better. So maybe it’s really a chance for you to follow that man to his sect." He motioned at the bundle and patted it for a moment. "He said you wouldn’t need anything. I guess he will know better than me but … I don’t want to let you leave like that. I want you to have at least a few things from home with you. Maybe it’ll help.

"It’s not much. There are just a couple of your favorite robes, the book we were reading before, and some of your favorite snacks for the way there. I don’t know how long it’ll take. I hope it’s enough. I’ve also had the servants pack some money. If you ever need more or if you can’t take it there and want to return home, just do so.

"I might not have been a good father to you but, no matter what, the gates of my estate will still always be open for you." He reached out and cupped Luo Lin’s cheek, rubbing his skin with his thumb. "Well, there isn’t much else I can do for you now. Just one more thing." He took back his hand and pulled something out of his sleeve, pressing it into Luo Lin’s hand. "It’s going to be your birthday soon. Originally, I got this for you from the city. Now, I’m afraid I’ll have to give it to you a little in advance. I hope you’ll like it. In any case, maybe it’s something to remember us by." He patted his shoulder and then sighed, shaking his head. "I’m afraid that’s farewell now."

Luo Lin looked at him, his expression actually turning a little sad. "I’m sorry. I wish I would’ve been easier."

The man shook his head and leaned forward, pulling Luo Lin into his arms. "You were never difficult. You’re the simplest, most well-behaved child I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s me who failed you. Well, I hope going forward your life will be better than it was here." He rubbed his back and then leaned back, taking a last look at Luo Lin. There was a faint sheen of tears in his eyes and it seemed as if he wanted to etch the youth’s appearance into his mind. Then, he got up and left the room, closing his eyes when he closed the door behind him.

He just couldn’t look and watch Luo Lin leave. Surely, his wife was wrong that he had married her for her son. But he did indeed love this child with all he had and seeing him leave was hard but he knew it was the best thing he could do for Luo Lin as his father so that was what he should do. This decision, he knew he would not regret it.