With Yan Yue coming for dinner, Wang Shuxiu was very apprehensive about it. Although she warned Lu Lingxi to be careful about being sold and helping to count the money, how could a mother really want her son to meet bad people? Since Yan Yue was Lu Lingxi’s partner, Wang Shuxiu wanted to leave a good impression on Yan Yue, so that he could take care of Lu Lingxi.
After a good night’s sleep, Wang Shuxiu first called her colleague Lin Mei to discuss the shift change. Lin Mei and Wang Shuxiu had known each other for almost ten years and they had always had a good relationship. When Lin Mei heard that Wang Shuxiu wanted to change shifts, she agreed at once. After chatting casually for a few minutes, the topic of conversation turned to Wang Shuxiu changing jobs.
Lin Mei was a few years younger than Wang Shuxiu, and although she didn’t look as young as Wang Shuxiu, she was not far behind. She had just resigned from her job at the KTV last week; in her words, she was getting too old to stay up all night. Lin Mei knew everything about Wang Shuxiu’s situation. Before, she had been dragged down by the old bastard Lu Yishui and had to work hard to support the family. Now that Wang Shuxiu and Lu Yishui had divorced, and Lu Lingxi was also sensible, Lin Mei advised Wang Shuxiu not to work so hard. The money earned at the expense of her health would just take her to a cheap hospital. Besides, she and Lu Lingxi could only see each other early in the morning and late at night, and Lu Lingxi had just been discharged from the hospital. Didn’t she want to see her son more, ah?
The topic had been raised several times by Lin Mei, and Wang Shuxiu was moved by her words. But what would she do if she quit her job? She was old and uneducated, what could she do?
When Wang Shuxiu said this, Lin Mei laughed and said, “What’s the worry? If you really quit your job, you can go and set up a stall to sell your tomatoes, and you’ll surely be popular.”
Lin Mei had eaten the tomatoes that Wang Shuxiu brought her several times and couldn’t get the taste out of her mind. The last time Wang Shuxiu brought her a bottle of tomato sauce, her whole family was shocked. Lin Mei’s youngest son even shouted that he wanted to live in Auntie Wang’s house and eat tomato sauce every day, which Lin Mei told Wang Shuxiu as a joke.
When Lin Mei said this, Wang Shuxiu subconsciously looked at the backyard. She didn’t know how the little bastard had grown the tomatoes, but they were growing one crop after another, and at a glance, the fruits were hanging heavily. They were more than enough to eat, but if they really wanted to sell them, it would not have been enough.
Thinking about this, Wang Shuxiu smiled to herself. She had really been led around by Lin Mei and was actually thinking of selling tomatoes.
After a few more words with Lin Mei, Wang Shuxiu saw that it was getting late, so she hurriedly changed into her usual clothes and went to the market with her trolley. After buying a chicken, some ribs and a bunch of vegetables, Wang Shuxiu was debating whether to buy some fresh shrimps at the seafood stall when she heard a muffled grunt behind her. When she turned around, Brother Feng was standing behind her, twisting the arm of a short man, and the purse she had in her pocket was in the short man’s hand.
Because of Lu Yishui’s gambling, Wang Shuxiu and Brother Feng were familiar with each other. After the initial daze, Wang Shuxiu quickly reacted to what had happened. After nodding hastily towards Brother Feng, Wang Shuxiu snatched back her purse and smashed it down on the short man’s head.
Brother Feng: “……”
“Look at you, you have the hands and feet to work! You can pick junk every day and make a living. But if you come to steal, you should ask around who Wang Shuxiu is before stealing from her!”
Wang Shuxiu was furious and cursed as she smashed the short man’s head with her purse. The commotion soon attracted the attention of the people around her, and a circle of people gathered around when they heard that the thief had been caught. A few of those who found their wallets missing even squeezed to the front and pulled the short man to search him for their wallets.
The short man was gripped tightly by Brother Feng and could not break free, so he could only lower his head and shout, “Don’t beat me, I won’t dare to steal again.”
Brother Feng didn’t say anything; he just kept looking at Wang Shuxiu. Never mind the short man’s miserable screams; even though it seemed that Wang Shuxiu was quite strong, in fact he could have been pretending. Brother Feng had heard before that Wang Shuxiu was pungent, and he had seen it with his own eyes the last time he went to her house with Lu Yishui to move things away. However, this time Wang Shuxiu was still greatly beyond his expectations. Brother Feng thought of Lu Yishui, who was thrown to the northwest to dig coal, and then looked at Wang Shuxiu with a smile in his eyes.
When he saw that Wang Shuxiu was almost done venting her anger, Brother Feng stopped her. “Come on, the police station is just up ahead, let’s send him there.”
“Yes, yes, we should send him to the police station.” An old lady agreed with Brother Feng’s proposal while not forgetting to grab the short man. The most annoying thing for people like them who frequented the market was thieves, and it was simply impossible to guard against them when the market was crowded.
Wang Shuxiu put away her purse and smiled at Brother Feng, “Thank you for this time. Next time you go singing, I’ll get the supervisor to give you a 20% discount.”
Brother Feng was noncommittal and glanced at the trolley on the ground, “Not going to work today?”
Wang Shuxiu nodded, and Brother Feng gave her a thoughtful look, grabbed the short man and pushed his way through the crowd.
When Lu Lingxi and Yan Yue arrived home in the evening, Wang Shuxiu’s dishes were almost ready. At the first sight of Yan Yue, Wang Shuxiu couldn’t help but mutter in her heart. She had been working in KTV for many years, and her eyes were sharp. Just by looking at Yan Yue standing there, it was obvious he was not someone who wanted to make 100,000 yuan opening a gardening shop with the little bastard. The little bastard had amnesia and didn’t understand anything, but Wang Shuxiu felt that there was something very odd about it.
But since it was Yan Yue’s first time here and he was Lu Lingxi’s guest, Wang Shuxiu couldn’t help but give face. After greeting Yan Yue politely, Wang Shuxiu instructed Lu Lingxi to stay with Yan Yue in the living room while she finished cooking the remaining two dishes.
“Oh.” Lu Lingxi obediently agreed and welcomed Yan Yue, “Big Brother Yan, have a seat.”
Yan Yue smiled politely at Wang Shuxiu and followed Lu Lingxi’s command and sat down. Not only was Wang Shuxiu surprised by this meeting, but Yan Yue was also very surprised. On the way here, Yan Yue had already heard some things from Lu Lingxi and had thought he had a general understanding of the boy’s mother. But after meeting Wang Shuxiu he realised that his understanding had to be reassessed. Thinking about the other party’s scrutinising gaze just now, Yan Yue smiled bitterly in his heart. He also knew that he didn’t seem like someone who would partner with Lu Lingxi to open a shop, but he really couldn’t find any other opportunity to get connected with Lu Lingxi in a reasonable way.
Yan Yue himself was quite understanding of Wang Shuxiu’s vigilance. It was clear that Wang Shuxiu and Lu Lingxi were very close and she was instinctively protective of the young man. If Lu Lingxi had been raised by his side, so good-looking and well-behaved, he would have been as worried as Wang Shuxiu about whether the people who approached the boy had ulterior motives.
This thought flashed through Yan Yue’s mind and his heart stirred. If he really lived with the young man… every day, waking up with him, going to Tiny Garden together, watering plants and changing pots together, and then taking Dahei for a walk together after work… Just imagining this kind of life made him uncontrollably excited.
Yan Yue forcefully suppressed the reverie in his mind, not showing it on his face in the slightest. His gaze towards Lu Lingxi was frank and open, his thoughts hidden really well.
The Lu family’s house was not very big, and the living room was especially small. A wooden table with four chairs took up almost a third of the space. Lu Lingxi took Yan Yue to sit down and said to him as if offering a treasure, “Big Brother Yan, please sit down first, I’ll go and pick some tomatoes for you to eat.”
Yan Yue nodded with a smile, putting the fruit he had brought on the table. When he wanted to buy fruit before, Lu Lingxi resolutely refused to allow it. Only when Yan Yue joked that it wouldn’t look good to come to visit for the first time empty-handed that Lu Lingxi reluctantly agreed to him buying some. He told Yan Yue with a serious face that the fruit was not good and that the tomatoes he grew himself were much better than the fruit bought outside. Yan Yue still remembered the look on the fruit shop owner’s face when he heard this, his smile very stiff.
As soon as Lu Lingxi mentioned picking tomatoes, Dahei’s ears swished up. Lu Lingxi just pulled open the screen door of the balcony and Dahei rushed out like an arrow.
“Dahei, you’ve already eaten your share for the day in the morning.” Lu Lingxi looked at Dahei and tried to reason with him. Dahei super liked to eat tomatoes grown in the backyard. If left alone, he could eat all the tomatoes in the backyard in one day, and he also knew how to pick the ripe ones to eat. Lu Lingxi was worried that he would eat too much and get a stomachache, so he had to limit the amount Dahei ate every day.
As soon as he spoke, Dahei squatted down dejectedly and quickly wagged his tail at Lu Lingxi. Lu Lingxi’s face was flat and unmoved. Dahei squinted his eyes, straightened his body, propped up his hind legs and raised his two front paws, whimpering at Lu Lingxi in a flattering manner.
Lu Lingxi: “……”
The puppies in Brother Dong’s pet shop would often do this action pawing at Brother Dong’s legs to beg him for food, and it was quite cute to watch. Lu Lingxi didn’t know when Dahei had learned it but the problem was that the puppies around Brother Dong were small dogs and could only reach Brother Dong’s thighs when they straightened up. But Dahei’s body was so long and slender that he was almost as tall as Lu Lingxi. Lu Lingxi slightly lowered his head and met Dahei’s furry face. He looked at Dahei speechlessly and compromised. “Take another one.”
Immediately, Dahei put down his front paws and squatted on the ground, intimately rubbing against Lu Lingxi’s calf. Lu Lingxi stroked his head and really couldn’t do anything about it.
Since dinner was soon to be served, Lu Lingxi only picked a few tomatoes, intending to let Yan Yue taste them first, and if he liked them, he would give more to Yan Yue when he left.
When he went to the kitchen to wash the tomatoes, Wang Shuxiu looked at him with a bit of dismay. It wasn’t that she couldn’t bear to part with the tomatoes, but she felt that the little bastard was too enthusiastic about Yan Yue. When it was time to eat, Wang Shuxiu’s feeling became even more obvious.
From two chicken legs, Lu Lingxi gave one to Wang Shuxiu first, and then one to Yan Yue, saying earnestly, “Big Brother Yan, you eat, Mom’s stewed chicken is especially delicious.”
From a plate of braised pork with tomato sauce, Lu Lingxi took a spoon and gave Yan Yue a spoonful, recommending, “Mom’s best tomato sauce is especially delicious.”
When the steamed ribs with glutinous rice were cooked, Lu Lingxi first picked a piece for Wang Shuxiu and then gave another to Yan Yue, curving his eyes and saying proudly, “The ribs are also super delicious, Yi Hang could barely walk after eating them last time.”
The little bastard only used delicious to describe every dish, and although he was complimenting her, Wang Shuxiu still felt a bit uncomfortable with the little bastard’s attitude towards Yan Yue.
Yan Yue had different feelings about the same things. If Wang Shuxiu was uncomfortable, Yan Yue needed to desperately suppress his inner happiness and try his best to look calm, just in case he accidentally allowed some gaffe and Wang Shuxiu noticed something.
Halfway through the meal, Wang Shuxiu asked, seemingly inadvertently, “How did Mr. Yan meet Xiao Xi?”
Yan Yue put down his chopsticks and looked frank, “Because of Dahei.”
“Dahei?” Wang Shuxiu only knew that Dahei used to be a stray dog and was later adopted by Lu Lingxi, but she really didn’t know exactly what happened.
Lu Lingxi added, “Dahei was hit by a car when it was raining, and it was Big Brother Yan who passed by and brought Dahei to Brother Dong’s place. Big Brother Yan liked Dahei very much and often came to see him, so I got to know Big Brother Yan.”
When Lu Lingxi finished, Wang Shuxiu felt a little less guarded in her heart. So it sounded like Yan Yue was quite nice and should hardly deceive the little bastard. Dahei, who was crouching by Lu Lingxi’s leg eating tomatoes and marinated meat with rice, heard this and followed in time with a couple of whines. Wang Shuxiu laughed and scolded, “Dahei, what are you doing?”
Lu Lingxi, who had always found Dahei to be smart, affirmed, “Dahei must have heard us talking about him.”
Wang Shuxiu couldn’t help but laugh and said casually, “Okay, Dahei is the smartest. Little bastard, hurry up and eat, the ribs are getting cold.”
She was used to calling Lu Lingxi “little bastard”, so she called him that in front of Yan Yue. Neither mother nor son cared but Yan Yue was taken aback, looking at Wang Shuxiu and then at Lu Lingxi, a smile slowly filling his eyes.
“Little bastard.” He repeated those words in his mind. Although this nickname was vulgar, it was also extremely intimate. It was a warmth Yan Yue had never felt before, and he somewhat understood why Lu Lingxi spoke of Wang Shuxiu with such a look of pride.
When the three of them finished eating, Wang Shuxiu cleaned up quickly. Lu Lingxi wanted to help but was driven out of the kitchen by Wang Shuxiu. “It’s just a few bowls, don’t make a fuss.”
Lu Lingxi could not resist Wang Shuxiu, so he washed and brought out the fruit that Yan Yue had bought earlier.
Yan Yue hooked up the corners of his mouth and joked, “After eating the tomatoes you planted, I can’t eat these fruits anymore.”
He didn’t say this to please Lu Lingxi; after he had tasted the tomatoes, he really thought they tasted quite good. They were sweet and sour, smooth in the mouth; no wonder the young man had served them to him at first with such an expression as if offering him a treasure.
Lu Lingxi curved his eyes, “Big Brother Yan, you like them, I’ll pick more for you when you leave.”
He did what he said and immediately dragged Yan Yue to the backyard. Once he reached the balcony, Yan Yue couldn’t help but open his eyes wide. He hadn’t seen it from the living room before, but now that he was on the balcony, he could see that the backyard was full of bright red tomatoes, heavy on the green plants. This sight made people feel good. Yan Yue didn’t know if it was his illusion, but he felt that he was standing not in the stifling heat of a summer evening here, but, just like in Tiny Garden, his body was feeling refreshed.
“Big Brother Yan, you sit here and wait for me.”
There was a chair at the balcony steps, and Lu Lingxi invited Yan Yue to sit down and wait for him. It was fine for him to go to the ground in his flip-flops, but it would be inappropriate for Yan Yue to go with his leather shoes on. Yan Yue nodded with a smile and noticed that there was a book on the chair. He picked it up and glanced at it, “Encyclopedia of Common Floriculture”. The page margins inside were full of notes made by Lu Lingxi, his handwriting neat and dense. Yan Yue remembered the praise of the young man from the customers in the shop. He didn’t know how much effort unseen by anyone the young man had put in.
Yan Yue was not interested in the content of the book, but focused on the boy’s notes. The corners of his mouth curled up unconsciously as he stretched his fingers and rubbed the handwriting, imagining the boy writing these notes carefully.
In the centre of the book was a piece of white paper with some of Lu Lingxi’s notes. It was obvious that the boy had jotted them down casually, and in the bottom corner there was a half-finished sketch of Dahei. Although there were only a few strokes, they vividly outlined the appearance of Dahei stealing tomatoes.
The smile on Yan Yue’s face deepened. He folded up the paper and put it into his pocket quietly. He thought with some regret that it would have been better if the picture below was not Dahei but him.