Soon, after intensive preparations, Wang Shuxiu’s restaurant was going to be open.
The day before the opening, Yi Hang drove to Lingshui Village where the plant nursery was located and asked Uncle Li to collect a batch of vegetables. Lu Lingxi had already spoken to Uncle Li before, and Yi Hang knew him well from his frequent trips to the plant nursery. Uncle Li had already prepared everything before Yi Hang arrived. The purchased vegetables were placed neatly in baskets and piled up in his yard. The villagers in Lingshui Village were worried about what to do with the vegetables in their fields. When Lu Lingxi said he was going to buy them, the villagers were all very happy. Although Lu Lingxi didn’t want much, compared to letting these vegetables rot in the field, it was already an unexpected profit.
Yi Hang brought the vegetables back and Wang Shuxiu packed them up in the afternoon. There was too much to do for her alone, so Lu Lingxi and Yi Hang were here to help, and even Dahei changed his usual quietness and joined the fun, barking from time to time.
The three of them stayed busy until the evening, when Yan Yue came over after Tiny Garden closed. Wang Shuxiu was a bit embarrassed to bother Yan Yue but Yan Yue said politely, “We’re all neighbours from now on, it’s only right to help each other out.”
“Neighbours?” Wang Shuxiu was a little surprised.
Lu Lingxi interjected with an explanation, “Big Brother Yan bought Auntie Hu’s house next door.”
Wang Shuxiu knew that the house next door had been under renovation recently, but she didn’t expect it to be Yan Yue who bought it. Yan Yue’s expression was magnanimous, “The smog in Fengcheng is too heavy and there are few communities with such a good environment. Although the house is a little old, it doesn’t matter if the environment is good.”
His reasoning was justified, but Wang Shuxiu felt that something seemed wrong. However, Wang Shuxiu also had to admit that the environment in the community was really good this year and, as far as she knew, several of the neighbourhood houses had indeed been sold recently. The feeling of strangeness flashed by; Wang Shuxiu was too busy opening her restaurant to think about Yan Yue buying a house.
Yan Yue faintly hooked the corners of his mouth; he deliberately picked the time when Wang Shuxiu opened her restaurant to announce buying the house. During this time, Wang Shuxiu was too busy to think about other things at all. After a while, the business of the small restaurant would be on the right track and Wang Shuxiu would have time to think about it again but by then she would have already become accustomed to his presence.
It was almost ten o’clock in the evening when they were done. The whole restaurant was cleaned up and the tables and chairs were neatly arranged. Wang Shuxiu looked at all this with some emotion, thinking that she would have to get up early tomorrow and come over, so she simply let Lu Lingxi and the others go home first and stayed alone on the second floor to save herself the trouble.
Lu Lingxi was a little worried that it was not safe for Wang Shuxiu to stay alone here. Wang Shuxiu laughed, “What to worry about? The iron door outside is locked, and there are window guards upstairs, so who can get in?”
When she insisted like this, Lu Lingxi had to leave with Yan Yue and Yi Hang. When the three of them left, Yi Hang looked at his little Jinbei and compared it with Yan Yue’s car parked next to it with a bitter look on his face. Lu Lingxi was amused by his expression and looked at Yan Yue, “Big Brother Yan, you can go back first, I’ll just take Yi Hang’s car.”
Yan Yue gave Yi Hang a silent glance and nodded.
The two men and the dog got into the car. Yi Hang looked at Yan Yue’s car through the window with some envy, “When will I be able to afford that car?”
Lu Lingxi reassured him, “You’re still young, when you reach Big Brother Yan’s age you’ll definitely be able to afford it too.”
Yi Hang: “…Lao San, do you treat me like a child to coax?”
Lu Lingxi laughed as he hugged Dahei.
The sound of laughter reached outside the car and Yan Yue’s eyes darkened as he drove around a corner. Instead of going home, he turned down another road towards the neighbourhood where Lu Lingxi lived. He arrived downstairs one step ahead of Yi Hang and went straight into the corridor to wait for Lu Lingxi to return. Not long after, a voice came out from outside, interspersed with Yi Hang’s shout, “Lao San, I’ll come to pick you up tomorrow morning.”
“Good.” Lu Lingxi waved his hand at Yi Hang, turned his head and took Dahei into the building.
The old-fashioned community was not fitted with sound-activated lights but with lights on the walls that needed to be pressed to light up. Lu Lingxi took two steps and fumbled to turn on the light, and when he looked up, he saw Yan Yue standing at the door. The dim light spilled on Yan Yue, making his originally cold brow and eyes look unusually soft.
“Big Brother Yan?” Lu Lingxi was a little surprised.
The corners of Yan Yue’s lips curved into a faint smile, and his eyes seemed to fill with a layer of clear glow. “I wonder if Xiao Xi would mind if I stayed at your place for a night?”
Lu Lingxi froze for a moment, and then smiled radiantly. All the way until he entered the house, Lu Lingxi was in a good mood and had a smile on his face. Yan Yue looked at his smiling face and unconsciously got in a better mood. “Very happy?”
Lu Lingxi nodded obediently. He didn’t know why he was so happy to see Yan Yue appear at the door.
Yan Yue was so overwhelmed by his smile that he couldn’t help but circle him in his arms and give him a kiss, urging in a hoarse voice, “Go and take a shower and go to bed, you still have to get up early tomorrow.” Perhaps because he was nine years older than Lu Lingxi, Yan Yue treated Lu Lingxi like a lover with an extra feeling of taking care of him like of a “son”.
Lu Lingxi obediently went to take a shower, and Dahei habitually wanted to follow him in, but Yan Yue quickly stopped him.
“Xiao Xi, you wash first, I’ll help Dahei wash later.”
Lu Lingxi didn’t think much of it and was quite happy to see Yan Yue getting close to Dahei. “Then, Big Brother Yan, I’ll trouble you.”
Yan Yue smiled softly and turned his head to look at Dahei with jealous eyes. He had never taken a shower with Xiao Xi. Stupid dog!
The two men and the dog finished their showers in turn and were faced with the big problem of how to allocate the beds. Lu Lingxi’s bed was a single bed, so it was a little hard to squeeze in two people, let alone adding Dahei. As a result, Dahei was forced to leave the familiar bed and sleep on a small blanket on the floor. Yan Yue hogged Dahei’s former spot, quite literally looking at Dahei down his nose.
“Good night, Xiao Xi.”
“Big Brother Yan, good night.”
Lu Lingxi buried his head in Yan Yue’s chest and soon fell into a deep sleep.
The next day was the opening day of the restaurant, and Yi Hang came to pick up Lu Lingxi early in the morning. He was surprised to find that Yan Yue was actually there and was taken aback for a long time before reacting, “…Brother Yan, you’re here early.”
Yan Yue didn’t explain, nodding in acquiescence to Yi Hang’s statement. Lu Lingxi looked at Yi Hang slightly sheepishly, likewise acquiescing to his words.
To their surprise, there were actually quite a few people coming to the small restaurant today. Although Wang Shuxiu did not deliberately advertise the restaurant in the neighbourhood, several of her neighbours who were close to her knew about the opening of the restaurant. They were neighbours for more than ten years and watched how hard it was for Wang Shuxiu all the way. They bought a flower basket early in the morning and sent it to Wang Shuxiu’s place. In addition to the flower basket bought by the neighbours, Lu Lingxi and Yan Yue each sent two, and Lin Mei brought another one when she arrived. Wang Shuxiu scolded them for spending so much money, but the smile in her eyes couldn’t stop.
Just as the auspicious time for the opening was about to arrive, Brother Feng came over with his men and brought six very expensive flower baskets. Twelve flower baskets were placed outside, looking very presentable.
The name of the restaurant was given by Wang Shuxiu herself, and it was called ‘Xiaohua’s Home Cooking Restaurant’. When she was young, she thought Xiaohua was a rustic name, but now that she had seen more of the world, she thought that Xiaohua was quite good. It looked unassuming, but it was full of resilience and could take root and blossom no matter how difficult the circumstances were. Little bastard used to say that the wild flowers growing on the ground outside were the same as the famous flowers carefully cultivated in Tiny Garden, there was no difference. Unconsciously, she thought so too.
Xiaohua’s Home Cooking Restaurant; Wang Shuxiu read these words silently and smiled lightly as her brow smoothened.