Lao Han left with his precious clivia, thanking and praising Lu Lingxi profusely for his ability to save a plant from certain death. Du Lin used to be good at raising flowers and was already well known in the neighbourhood. When Lao Han advertised what happened, people found out that Lu Lingxi was from Tiny Garden, and in less than two days he became famous among the flower lovers around the street.
Everyone knew that the new boy from Tiny Garden was a good person, and that he was good at raising flowers. Passers-by were attracted by the pots of begonias at the door of Tiny Garden that were blooming very vigorously, and if you went inside the store to take a look, you would be reluctant to leave. The flowers and plants inside were really good. The leaves were emerald green and the flowers were beautiful. The whole shop was full of greenery and the air was fresher than outside. If you stayed there for a long time, it seemed that even the fatigue of the day was gone.
These words were not an exaggeration. The few regular customers who came to the shop often obviously noticed the difference. The same calla lilies that Lu Lingxi took care of grew better than theirs at home. They used to come in when Du Lin was here, but they didn’t notice such a difference. How to describe it? The flowers and plants raised by Xiao Xi were full of positive vitality. Because of this vitality, the whole shop had a different feel. When you spent a lot of time in the shop, you were really at peace and felt that all the bad things were gone.
When Dong Zhi was telling Lu Lingxi about these rumours, Lu Lingxi could not help but blush. His face was hot and he looked embarrassed by the compliments. Dong Zhi held back his laughter; Lu Lingxi was really tender-faced, and no matter whether he was complimented or teased, the child would easily blush. When he was done, Dong Zhi patted him on the shoulder and deliberately made a serious face, saying, “Young man, you have a future. Do well.”
Lu Lingxi nodded earnestly.
When Dong Zhi looked at him, he found Lu Lingxi’s seriousness very cute. The child really listened to his casual words. By all accounts, Dong Zhi was almost a decade older than Lu Lingxi and always unconsciously treated the boy as a junior in need of care. He really didn’t know what kind of family could raise such a well-behaved and obedient child. Dong Zhi had heard Lu Lingxi mention Wang Shuxiu a few times, and at that moment he was in awe of Wang Shuxiu, whom he had never met. A woman who supported a family and raised Lu Lingxi so well must have been dignified, generous, reasonable and extremely virtuous.
After sighing in his heart for a long time, Dong Zhi remembered something, “By the way, you can take Dahei home today.”
“Really?” Lu Lingxi said in surprise.
Dong Zhi nodded. Dahei’s injuries almost healed, so there was nothing wrong with him as long as you were a bit careful. Dahei was also used to the unrestrained life outside, and now that he was locked up in a cage all day, Dahei’s temper was very irritable. Only when Lu Lingxi was feeding him was he a bit more docile, but the rest of the time Dahei scared the other pets that came to the pet shop. Dong Zhi was so disturbed by him that he couldn’t wait for Lu Lingxi to take him away.
Lu Lingxi often heard Dahei’s barking from across the road and naturally knew how helpless Dong Zhi was against Dahei. It was strange to say that; Dahei was just an ordinary dog, not very big, and thin and bony because of the long life of wandering, but he was very strong. Yesterday, a St. Bernard dog came to the pet shop. Perhaps Dahei felt provoked and confronted it. Dong Zhi hurriedly intervened to stop them, afraid that Dahei would suffer. As a result, before he could do anything about it, Dahei arched his back and roared, and the St. Bernard turned around and ran away. When Dong Zhi and Lu Lingxi talked about it, they felt a bit incredulous.
Because he had to take Dahei home in the evening, Lu Lingxi was very motivated to pack up his things and get ready to leave work. Dong Zhi kindly gave him a leash and a dog muzzle for Dahei. Even if Dahei didn’t bite, with a muzzle at least everyone would be more at ease.
The leash was barely acceptable, but Dahei was very unhappy about the muzzle, refusing to come near Dong Zhi and growling. Dong Zhi couldn’t put it on, so he had to leave it to Lu Lingxi.
Lu Lingxi knew it would be uncomfortable to wear it, but there was nothing he could do. He gently patted Dahei and coaxed, “It’s just to go home, just for a while.”
Dahei whimpered a few times and reluctantly raised his head. Lu Lingxi smiled and stroked Dahei approvingly.
It took only half an hour to walk back to the neighbourhood from Tiny Garden, and Lu Lingxi took Dahei all the way to teach him to recognize the way. Soon after the two of them left the street of Tiny Garden, Dahei suddenly turned his head and crouched, looking cautious.
Lu Lingxi looked behind him strangely. There was nothing there.
Dahei crouched and growled in a low voice. Although he couldn’t make too much noise because of the muzzle, this roar seemed to squeeze out of the depth of his throat and was even more shocking. Lu Lingxi was a little bewildered and tried to figure out Dahei’s reaction. Was there someone following them?
It was only seven o’clock, and the sky was still bright. The street was not too remote, and there were occasional pedestrians hurrying past on the roadside. Lu Lingxi stroked Dahei’s head in confusion, wondering what Dahei had sensed.
Just as Lu Lingxi looked around and was about to pull Dahei away, a familiar car drove by and stopped beside the two of them.
The window opened and Yan Yue looked as if he had met them by chance, “What’s going on? I saw Dahei making a fuss from far away.”
Lu Lingxi shook his head; he didn’t know what was going on either. The good thing was that since Yan Yue appeared, Dahei had stopped growling, but was still crouching alertly on the ground, looking in the direction behind them.
Yan Yue glanced at Dahei and his gaze paused on Lu Lingxi’s fingers unconsciously stroking the top of Dahei’s head. The soft black fur tangled around the white fingers. It was an unspeakable eyesore. Yan Yue withdrew his gaze and said seemingly casually, “Get in the car, I’ll give you a lift where you’re going.”
Lu Lingxi hesitated a little. Yan Yue would come to the pet shop daily these days to visit Dahei, and the two would run into each other every time. Although they weren’t strangers, they had just exchanged a few words, so he didn’t really want to bother Yan Yue.
Yan Yue could see Lu Lingxi’s hesitation, and his eyes darkened slightly. Although in his heart he could not wait to jump out of the car and drag the young man inside, on the surface he still looked expressionless.
Under Yan Yue’s silent insistence, Lu Lingxi gave in. He pulled open the car door and gestured for Dahei to get in first, and was about to follow him when Yan Yue leaned sideways and opened the front door, saying, “Sit in the front, the back is a bit messy.”
Lu Lingxi was a bit startled, touched Dahei and turned around to get into the passenger seat.
Yan Yue was in a good mood but couldn’t show it; he could only suppress the corners of his mouth from curling up slightly and try to sound casual.
Lu Lingxi said the name of the neighbourhood. Yan Yue knew this neighbourhood, one of the older neighbourhoods in the centre of Fengcheng. A few years ago Hopewell Group had been interested in this neighbourhood and had even made a project description. Later, the project was shelved because the demolition costs for the residents of the district were too high. If you walked along this road and turned left at the first intersection, you would find that community. Yan Yue glanced at the young man and just as he should have turned left, he did not hesitate to turn right.
Lu Lingxi: “… wrong.”
Yan Yue was surprised, “Wrong? I remember turning right at the first intersection.”
Lu Lingxi blinked and pointed out in embarrassment, “You have reversed left and right.”
Yan Yue gave Lu Lingxi an apologetic look, “Sorry, that was my mistake, will it delay your return home?”
Yan Yue’s attitude was so polite; Lu Lingxi was even more embarrassed. “It’s fine, I’ll be alone when I go home, I won’t be delayed.”
“You live alone?” Yan Yue looked like he was casually making small talk.
“No, I’m with my mom, but my mom works the night shift and she’s already at work at this hour.”
The young man’s voice was soft and his tone was slightly more animated when he mentioned his mother. It could be seen that the relationship between the mother and the son was very good.
Yan Yue let out a “hmm” and didn’t ask where the teenager’s father had gone.
“Do you live nearby?” Lu Lingxi was a little curious. He had met Yan Yue frequently at the pet shop in the past two days, and when he fed Dahei at noon, Yan Yue was always there. Now that he encountered Yan Yue again, Lu Lingxi only thought that Yan Yue lived nearby.
“No, I have something to do here.”
When Yan Yue said this, he glanced at Lu Lingxi quietly, without saying that he had been wandering around the young man like a voyeur for the past two days. He watched the young man’s every move every day, watched him take care of the flowers and plants wholeheartedly, watched him receive every customer earnestly, watched him clean the shop when no one was around, watched him smile uncontrollably at the stupid dog. He desperately tried to suppress the urge to appear by the boy’s side and only pretended to meet him by chance when Lu Lingxi went to feed Dahei.
The young man was innocent but not stupid, and Yan Yue didn’t want to frighten him with his recklessness. He wanted Lu Lingxi to gradually get used to his presence and slowly accept his transformation from a stranger to a friend.
When Yan Yue was studying abroad, he would occasionally go out hunting with his classmates. When a good hunter finds his prey, he has to have enough patience to wait, set a trap and then strike when the prey is close and unaware. Yan Yue had the patience and enough confidence. The young man would be his, Yan Yue was extremely sure of that.
Unwilling to be left alone, Dahei pushed his head forward and whined in a low voice. Lu Lingxi smiled and reached out to scratch Dahei’s chin, interrupting the conversation with Yan Yue.
The car fell into silence, with only Dahei’s low whimpers from time to time. Yan Yue glanced at the young man who looked relaxed, sitting quietly by his side. Outside the window was a shifting landscape, and inside was a closed world of two people and a dog. Without the hustle and bustle of the outside world, the world’s complexities seemed to disappear and Yan Yue’s eyes were filled only with the clear smile of the young man. His heart slowly settled down, enjoying this rare peace.
Not long after the two left, Lu Yishui got out of the niche in the wall, cursing and spitting at the car that was driving away.
He was forced by Brother Feng to pay his debts in the next few days and was hiding all day. Wang Shuxiu, a woman with a vicious heart, was not only ruthless and did not give him a penny, but she was also shouting everywhere that she wanted to divorce him. Lu Yishui grew up with his mother and had never seen his father at all. When his mother passed away, the only family members he had left were Wang Shuxiu and Lu Lingxi. Apart from them, he really had no other place to find money. Lu Yishui thought that if Wang Shuxiu could not be relied upon, Lu Lingxi, the little bastard, could always be used. As a result, it had been a few days now, and Lu Lingxi was acting like he didn’t have a father. Lu Yishui couldn’t wait any longer and could only take the risk coming to Lu Lingxi.
This time, when Lu Yishui heard that Lu Lingxi had found a job, he didn’t dare to appear in public for fear of being seen by Brother Feng’s men. So he sneaked over and followed Lu Lingxi, thinking to talk to Lu Lingxi while no one was around later. Wasn’t there a house under Lu Lingxi’s name? If he could coax the little bastard to get soft-hearted, he could take the house and sell it. He really needed to get the money, otherwise Brother Feng would really kill him.
Lu Yishui had planned it beautifully, but he did not expect that Lu Lingxi would be followed by a dog. When the dog barked, his knees went weak and it was hard to take another breath. And then the little bastard followed that man. However, Lu Yishui rubbed his chin, when did the little bastard get to know such a rich man? Just looking at that car was enough for him to pay off his gambling debts before turning over a new leaf. He didn’t know what the relationship between the little bastard and the other party was but couldn’t he borrow some money to save the day?
Lu Lingxi didn’t know that he was being targeted by Lu Yishui at this time. Because Yan Yue turned in the wrong direction, it took half an hour to find an intersection where he could turn and go home. Lu Lingxi thought about getting off at the entrance of the community, but Yan Yue insisted on sending him to the door. In the words of Yan Yue, there were only a few more steps to go, so it saved the trouble.
Facing the prying eyes of his neighbours, Lu Lingxi politely said goodbye to Yan Yue, “Thank you, I’ve really bothered you today.”
Yan Yue hooked the corner of his mouth, “No need to thank me.”
Lu Lingxi curved his eyes in a smile.
After watching Yan Yue leave, Lu Lingxi led Dahei into the house. He had already set up a nest for Dahei in the small courtyard at the back, and he wondered if Dahei would like it.
“This will be your home from now on.” Lu Lingxi stroked Dahei and said.
Dahei seemed to understand the words and gave a low bark, rubbing against Lu Lingxi’s palm.
That night, Lu Lingxi was about to go to bed when he suddenly heard Dahei barking loudly, and along with Dahei’s barking there was a man’s wail.
“Damn dog! Let go!”
He hurried to the backyard and saw a dark figure clinging to the fence. One of the man’s legs was bitten by Dahei fiercely and no matter how much the man struggled, he was unable to break free.