As soon as the man stepped inside the resplendent dance hall, the buzzing noise made him frown. He had never been a big fan of parties in any form outside of work, and he would never attend them unless he had to. Fat Gao and his wife were different. Fat Gao’s wife, the man’s distant cousin, was in the entertainment industry and particularly fond of organising events. Fat Gao was no less fond of them, so the couple was very compatible.
Entering the hall from the back door, the man ran into a number of familiar faces at a glance and someone greeted him immediately. The man waved his hand politely, looking for an opportunity to walk to the rest area quickly. A waiter had already gone to the dance floor to find Fat Gao as instructed.
Under the flashing lights, Fat Gao’s bald head shone brightly as he nimbly squeezed through the crowd, finally reaching Qin Zhuopu. His dancing partner, Mrs. Gao, who had been left behind, tried to follow him but was signalled by her husband to stay. Displeased, Mrs. Gao looked over and saw Qin Zhuopu in the lounge area; only then did she wave her hand with a smile on her face and went to play with the others.
“Lao Gao, what’s the matter? Why are you looking for me in a hurry?”
Fat Gao, hot, sweaty and red-faced, mysteriously tugged Qin Zhuopu towards a secluded corner, pulled out his mobile phone and fiddled with it quickly, saying excitedly, “Lao Qin, Lao Qin, brother will show you something good, it’s guaranteed to surprise you.”
“……” Qin Zhuopu was speechless. Judging from the way Fat Gao behaved, it was something new again. The guy was like a cricket, no matter how old he was, he was always gossiping about something. The key was that he was silly and cheerful himself, and thought everyone else was as curious about other people’s affairs as he was. He even bragged that it was an occupational hazard, a keen professional sense of smell.
Qin Zhuopu felt helpless in his heart. Fat Gao raised his mobile phone in front of him and Qin Zhuopu was forced to look at the screen.
A bright picture full of red colour instantly caught Qin Zhuopu’s eyes.
For a moment, his eyes shone quietly with the ripples of red reflecting in them.
Qin Zhuopu held his breath, staring at the familiar face on the phone screen, the familiar smile, and the buzzing noise in his ears disappeared. What echoed in his empty mind seemed to be the sound of his suddenly accelerated heartbeat.
Fat Gao’s mobile phone was snatched away by Qin Zhuopu.
His eyes were lowered and he couldn’t stop looking at the face, as if he wanted to count every tiny pore of the person in the picture.
Fat Gao laughed, interrupting his distracted old friend: “I knew you’d be excited to see it. Shouldn’t Xiao Lu be 27 or 28 years old now, huh? In this photo he hasn’t changed at all, still looks like a young man who has just come of age. Look at that skin, it’s so soft you can squeeze water from it. I’m afraid my wife will be sad when she sees it.” As he said this, he looked at his old friend’s reaction and noticed that Lao Qin, who had always been very stable, was clearly breathing a bit chaotically and his expression was so… stony? Why did he look like he had seen an enemy?
Qin Zhuopu finally raised his head, clenching the phone so hard that his nails turned white: “Where did you get this picture?”
Fat Gao reached out and tried to grab his phone: “I saw it on Weibo. It was still on the hot search then, but now it seems to have gone down. This is the news, look at it, tsk tsk, many people praise Xiao Lu. By the way, there were people revealing Xiao Lu’s personal information below. I don’t know if it’s true or not, or if it’s just Xiao Lu’s own hype. Young people nowadays have all sorts of tricks up their sleeves, and sometimes even a veteran like me can’t understand them. But with Xiao Lu’s face it’s easy to become popular. If he had listened to me a few years ago and entered the entertainment industry, he would have become something.”
“How can Lu Ying be in the entertainment industry?” Qin Zhuopu faintly glanced at Fat Gao: “He doesn’t like it.”
“Heh, you’re his ex, you must be right.” Fat Gao spread his hands.
Qin Zhuopu quickly browsed through the large number of comments, including those that exposed Lu Ying’s personal information, then handed the phone back to Fat Gao and turned around to leave, “It’s late, I’m going to take Grandpa back.”
“Ugh ugh, don’t you have anything else to say?”
“Don’t be in a hurry to leave, Brother Qin!” Fat Gao tried his best to hold him back, “I’ve invited all the decent people here today! Don’t you want to meet the handsome guys in the room? There are many people who want to meet you, you know Song Shi’an, right? He’s a popular guy, the redhot guy who played the male lead in ‘XXXX’, he especially admires you…”
Qin Zhuopu waved his hand and left, not even letting Fat Gao catch a corner of his clothes.
Although Qin Zhuopu didn’t say anything, Fat Gao, who was paying attention to Lu Ying, found that the next day all information about Lu Ying on the internet had disappeared without a trace! It was as clean as if it had never existed. No need to ask, it was clearly done deliberately. According to his guess, only Qin Zhuopu could have done this.
Fat Gao almost spurted out a mouthful of tea: “Lao Qin is too ruthless!” If Xiao Lu wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to get popular, Lao Qin would be hated so much for crushing his momentum.
“What’s wrong with Brother Pu?” Mrs. Gao, who was applying a beauty mask in the same room, questioned.
Fat Gao told the truth in a few words. As soon as Mrs. Gao heard it, she quickly took a look at Lu Ying’s photo and then sighed, touching her face, “I really envy his skin. His face is also particularly good-looking, a rare kind of handsome, even a bit demonic! No wonder Brother Pu likes him. Since they’re old lovers, maybe they’ll get back together again one day? But don’t get involved, just watch from the sidelines.”
Fat Gao laughed: “I think Lao Qin simply can’t forget the old relationship. I’m not sure why the two broke up back then. Perhaps because Xiao Lu’s education is too low to be a match to Lao Qin. How long can one last just by looking good?”
Mrs. Gao chuckled: “Love is love, what does it have to do with education?” And vice versa.
Lu Ying’s old friend Yang Sigu was much older than Lu Ying. He was also knowledgeable and versatile. He lived in the most exclusive community in Qixia Town. The front and rear yards of the chic and beautiful townhouse were full of flowers and carefully tended. Brother Yang ran an artisan bakery, located right at the entrance of the neighbourhood. Its reputation was flourishing and the money it brought was extremely good. Brother Yang had a gentle temper and was kind to others. Lu Ying admired Brother Yang very much.
When Lu Ying stepped into the townhouse, everyone was still eating, drinking and laughing. Even Lu Zaizai, who usually went to bed early, was full of energy. He was holding a plate with a cake and was obediently feeding it to his shamate godfather who was jumping up and down restlessly.
“Lu Ying is finally here. There are some dishes left for you.” Liu Dichuan greeted.
Yang Sigu, who was wearing a white shirt and an apron, brought out a large plate of juicy vegetables from the kitchen and put them next to the hot pot, and then took out several small stir-fry dishes and nutritious soups, all of which were specially saved for Lu Ying.
Lu Ying took the bowls and chopsticks handed to him by Brother Yang. His heart felt warm and he curled his eyes in a smile, “Thank you, Brother Yang, and thank you, guys, for taking care of Zaizai for me today.”
“What else are we there for?” Ji Xiaofeng rolled his eyes wildly; a scary sight, taking into account his heavy smoky make-up.
Next to him Liu Dichuan almost spurted out a mouthful of juice and sweatdropped, “Brother Ji, your taste is getting so hot that those who don’t know would think you’re a spirit of a raven.”
“It’s called trendy, avant-garde, shut up if you don’t understand!”
Liu Dichuan muttered vaguely, “Hehe, Dr. Hu’s taste seems to be even weirder.”
While the two were busy bickering, Yang Sigu chatted with Lu Ying, asking him many questions about his work and life, all the time urging him, “Remember to tell us if you have difficulties. You are the youngest among us but the earliest to become a father. I was always worried about how you were going to get by, but fortunately you are stronger and more independent than I thought. Zaizai is also very good and sensible. You are amazing. Lao Lu used to underestimate you so much.”
Lu Ying was embarrassed by the compliment, “Grandpa Lu used to say that he wanted me to study like you.”
Yang Sigu shook his head, “When you are as old as I am, you will still have problems with life skills. Take your time to learn what you don’t know, you have plenty of time. If I had become a father at your age, I would have been in a mess.”
“I do need to learn, but I don’t know what to learn. I just speak some English now.” Lu Ying looked confused.
Ji Xiaofeng hurriedly interjected, “Lu Ying’s English is actually very good! He can understand news in English completely.”
“No, I just learnt it on my own.” Lu Ying blushed in embarrassment. The only good from his learning English was the annual parents’ open class at the kindergarten. In order not to embarrass his son, he had to work hard. He didn’t know what level he was at, but he had no problem delivering a lesson at the kindergarten anyway, and the teachers and parents were all very impressed, making him blush every time when they praised him. In the kindergarten, no one knew that Lu Zaizai’s father was an ignoramus who had never been to school.
Yang Sigu smiled: “Apart from English, just think about what else you like to do.”
Lu Ying swallowed a piece of beef and said hesitantly, “I like to eat.” And sleep; he was too ashamed to say it out loud. -_-||
“Haha, as if we don’t know that you like eating, drinking and sleeping the most if you don’t say it!” Ji Xiaofeng revealed Lu Ying’s hobbies mercilessly.
Lu Ying was unhappy, “You’re not the same as me.”
Yang Sigu didn’t mean to make fun of him, so he said, “It’s normal for you to like eating and drinking. If you come to work with me in the future, I will teach you hand in hand. I can do Western food and Chinese food. Western food is simple and easy to learn, so I’ll teach you starting from Western baking first. It will be convenient for you to make your own food after you learn it, and also suitable for opening your own bakery. The best of both worlds, so to say. If you’re not happy doing those jobs, don’t do them, it’s a waste of time.”
Lu Ying was very moved when he heard it. “Thank you, Brother Yang, I’m very willing to learn! But my job at the shopping mall will continue until the New Year. Hey, I guess it will only be until the New Year at most.” He had been ignoring Manager Zhang’s text messages about meeting up, and lately it had become apparent that the other side was not happy.
“Anyway, come to me as soon as you can. You know English and I have foreign customers coming to the shop all the time. You’ll be the shop manager straight away when you come.”
“…yes.” So much pressure! And a lot of fun too.
The meal put everyone in a good mood. Before they left, Brother Yang gave each of them a bag of sliced bread. “For you to take home for breakfast tomorrow. Zaizai, this is for you.” He took out an oversized bag and stuffed it into Lu Ying’s hands, making Lu Zaizai’s eyes shine: “Thank you, Uncle Yang!”
Yang Sigu smiled, “Good boy, come to Uncle’s place if you want to eat something in the future.”
Having eaten so much and taking food with him made Lu Ying feel embarrassed: “You’ve given too much.”
“It’s just a bit of food, never mind.” Yang Sigu shrugged.
Lu Ying returned home with his sleepy son. He put away all kinds of food that Brother Yang had given him, and found that there were really many quantities and varieties. Chocolate milk bread, scallion-flavoured meat floss bread, chiffon cake, meat floss cake, etc… He somewhat knew the prices of the snacks in Brother Yang’s shop, it was so expensive!
Lu Ying felt that Brother Yang at this dinner was particularly kind. He used to be friendly, but there was always a bit of distance. And suddenly he was so enthusiastic and wanted to teach Lu Ying and gave him so many things. Lu Ying couldn’t figure it out.
If you can’t figure it out, you don’t need to figure it out. Lu Ying secretly decided that after going to work with Brother Yang in the New Year, he would have to work harder. He would never fail Brother Yang’s kindness.
Lu Ying: Mr. Gao said I was good-looking and could make money in the entertainment industry.
Mr. Qin (frowning): If you like it, I’ll support you.
Lu Ying: It’s too scary to be in the limelight, I’m too shy.
Mr. Qin: Then ignore him.
Lu Ying: But I’d like to sing and dance once in a while, for fun.
Mr. Qin: Then let me enjoy it alone.
Lu Ying (covering his face): …still shy.
Mr. Qin (gentle encouragement): Come on, dance a bit now and I’ll see?
Lu Ying: …well (*^▽^*) then I’ll start dancing!
…… (wriggling …… wriggling~~~)
Mr. Qin’s eyes are unblinking – Mr. Qin’s eyes are glowing – Mr. Qin’s eyes are glowing – Mr. Qin’s eyes are filled with blood –
(wriggling …… wriggling~~~)
Lu Ying: You’ve got a nosebleed!
Three hours later –
Mr. Qin: No more dancing in front of people other than me, not even singing!