He Xiu’s mother was buried in the public cemetery on the outskirts of A City. Jian Yan followed him through the methodically organized and tidy rows of gravestones before they finally reached his mother’s grave.
He Xiu carried a bouquet of white lilies that he had purchased on the way in his arms. According to him, these were his mother’s favorite flowers. He placed them on the grave and crouched down, smiling. “Mom, I came to see you.”
Jian Yan stood beside him, gazing at the photograph on the grave. Although it was in black and white, she truly was a very beautiful person.
“Today, I also brought someone to see you.” He Xiu stood as he said this, pulling Jian Yan flush against him. “This is Jian Yan, my girlfriend.”
Jian Yan unconsciously straightened and said to the beautiful lady in the photo, “Hello, auntie. I’m Jian Yan.”
He Xiu also gazed at his mother, his voice sounding a bit proud. “What do you think, isn’t she as beautiful as you?”
Jian Yan disagreed, “No no no, auntie is still more beautiful.”
He Xiu lowered his head, a chuckle escaping him. His gaze then fell upon his mother’s photo again. “You used to tell me constantly that a beautiful woman won’t be able to cook, but Jian Yan’s cooking skills are excellent. You cannot deceive your son like this.”
Jian Yan interjected, “Actually, auntie is right. Normally, beautiful girls all have dozens of people fighting to cook for her. There aren’t many beautiful girls like me; you were lucky.”
“Mn, I am very lucky.” He Xiu deliberately and tactfully followed Jian Yan’s words. He then continued to introduce Jian Yan to his mother. “Not only is Jian Yan beautiful and can cook, she is also an amazing manhua artist and earns a lot of money. It must have been Mom’s soul that blessed and protected me, so that I was able to obtain her as my girlfriend.”
Jian Yan raised her gaze to meet his. “Your flattery skills progress day by day.”
“Words from the bottom of one’s heart.”
Jian Yan raised her brow, silent. He Xiu continued to elaborate to his mother. “If you were still alive, you will definitely like her. She studied fashion design at university and draws breathtakingly beautiful clothes. You will definitely be elated to see those clothes. Mn—oh, that’s right, she likes beautiful clothes just like you. Previously when she came to work at the company, she would always wear the most beautiful…”
He Xiu paused after this. Jian Yan tilted her head to look at him and silently tugged her hand out of his. He Xiu instead tightened his grip on her hand and spoke with a low voice, “If you were still alive, then how good would that be…”
Jian Yan sniffled. She turned her face slightly upward, afraid her tears would fall.
He Xiu sighed and switched to a blithe tone. “Today is Valentine’s Day; I still have to take her to a dance, so I’ll come see you again next time.”
He stood still for a moment before finally drawing Jian Yan over to the cemetery exit.
The two of them went to the aforementioned Xiao Gu’s String of Fragrances Restaurant at noon. This was Jian Yan’s first time here, and what she had imagined was completely different from reality.
“CEO Xiao’s tastes are distinct. This restaurant’s architecture is very Chinese historical, and the management looks to be standardized.” Jian Yan examined the restaurant’s decorations and the table sets. Such exquisite detailing, it simply did not lose to CEO Yu’s western restaurant.
He Xiu explained, “CEO Xiao can even manage a large company very well, so managing String of Fragrances Restaurant is naturally nothing difficult.”
He Xiu had reserved a private room. A waiter dressed in a modernized ancient costume entered to serve them tea just as the two of them sat down, informing them what dishes were available along the way. Jian Yan asked the waiter with slight curiosity, “Do you have an event where if you win in mahjong, you are excused from paying the bill?”
He Xiu stifled his laugh, while the waiter’s mood became complicated as he answered, “For the time being, there isn’t. We can, however, suggest this to the leader.”
“Oh, I think this promotion is very good. It certainly will attract very many diners who believe they have excellent mahjong skills.”
Listening to her say this, the waiter truly felt that this was somewhat reasonable. “Our Boss Xiao is very busy right now though, so he has no time to come here and oversee it.”
“Ah, then does your Boss Xiao take apprentices?”
“I have also asked him this question, and he told me back then that playing mahjong depends on one’s genes.”
Jian Yan: “…”
Wasn’t it more reasonable to look at feng shui?
He Xiu smiled at the waiter, hinting for him to withdraw. Afterward, he tilted his head to ask Jian Yan, “What do you want to eat? I’ll get it for you.”
Jian Yan pondered before answering, “Let’s eat a bit less for lunch. We still have the dance later this evening. If we eat too much, we won’t look good in our formal attire.”
He Xiu revealed a completely perplexed expression. “Then we shouldn’t have come here to eat. I heard this place’s dishes are very tasty. I think you will definitely be unable to control yourself.”
Jian Yan: “…”
In fact, she hadn’t even walked into the restaurant and was already able to smell the fragrance of chuan chuan. In addition, she had seen that many tables were already reserved the moment they had entered the restaurant. There must be a long line later in the evening… No, Jian Yan, you’re wearing a beautiful dress tonight. You must control yourself.
He Xiu had yet to come back from ordering when the waiter came in and brought her an appetizer. “This dried mango was personally made by Boss Xiao. Have a taste while you wait.”
“Okay, thanks.” Jian Yan glanced at the dried mango he had brought over. It was in a small packet and should simply be bits and pieces left over from dishes, quite scattered and fragmentary. After tasting it, however, she felt like the door to a whole new world had opened. “This is delicious!”
The waiter was very pleased with himself. “Our Boss Xiao’s dried mango is in great demand. Previously when we only had one restaurant, we relied on his dried mango to soothe the waiting guests’ irritation! Ai, but he is busy nowadays and dries less mangoes than before. Numerous guests want to eat it, but can’t.”
Jian Yan listened as she ate the small packet of dried mango. She normally didn’t like mangoes, but she didn’t expect that dried mango was this tasty.
“Not only that, our Boss Xiao used to be the head chef of a western restaurant. Even if Yu Zhi invited him, he wouldn’t necessarily be successful!”
“Ah, then how did he open his business later?”
“The story is rather long; I remember that it was a clear day. A beautiful woman suddenly entered our String of Fragrances Restaurant, saying she was Boss Xiao’s tenant…”
The waiter seemed to have forgotten his work, as he kept talking nonstop with Jian Yan. When He Xiu returned, the two of them still hadn’t finished chatting.
“What are you talking about to be so lively?” He smiled as he placed the dishes on the table before taking his seat.
Jian Yan replied, “I’m listening to the annals of CEO Xiao’s success, which sounds more fantastical than your story.”
Upon seeing He Xiu return, the waiter finally became aware of the work he had to do and rapidly stated, “Dear customers, enjoy our meal. If you need anything, call me.”
After he left, He Xiu smiled elusively as he looked at Jian Yan. “So you’re very interested in Boss Xiao’s story?”
Jian Yan honestly revealed, “I am an author. I have always quite liked listening to such stories. Sometimes, I can derive inspiration from them.”
“Oh.” He Xiu placed non-vegetarian ingredients to cook in the pot. “CEO Xiao will also be at tonight’s dance. You can consult him in person.”
“…” Even if she could talk in person, she preferred listening to other people’s gossip. “Then will that beautiful female tenant go with him?”
“Of course, that is his wife.”
After gossiping about Boss Xiao, Jian Yan tried the food…and ate beyond her capabilities.
She rubbed her swollen belly, worried about its roundness. “I’m done for. I think my dress might not fit.”
He Xiu chuckled before saying, “There’s still the entire afternoon. Work hard to digest it.”
Jian Yan: “…”
Jian Yan returned home and began practicing the dance steps He Xiu taught her, working hard to digest all the food she had eaten for lunch. He Xiu still had to work in the afternoon. Once he finished with dealing with the department store, he left work early to pick up Jian Yan.
Jian Yan had already stuffed herself into her dress by the time he arrived. When He Xiu saw her come out, he couldn’t help but chuckle and say, “When dancing later, you must be careful not to make big movements. By all means, your dress must not burst.”
Jian Yan: “…”
Valentine’s Day Ball. It naturally would be decorated very romantically. The fragrance of roses filled the air, penetrating deeply into the heart. Couples glided across the dance floor, and even the food…was couple-oriented.
Jian Yan chose not to wear a haute couture dress this time, instead wearing an average evening gown from Bunny. She still attracted the same amount of attention from others, though. With He Xiu bringing her twice to such public occasions, everyone surmised one after another that it meant the two of them were very close.
He Xiu led Jian Yan to greet a few friends of his before pulling her to the dance floor. The effect of the past few days’ practice was remarkable. At least, Jian Yan danced gracefully and didn’t end up stepping on He Xiu’s feet.
“Your dancing is pretty good,” He Xiu praised, staring into her eyes.
Jian Yan was a bit proud of herself. “Of course.”
He Xiu smiled and said to her, “Let’s go upstairs. I have something to give you.”
“Mn?” A light flitted through Jian Yan’s eyes. Upstairs seemed to consist of hotel rooms.
He Xiu said, “Didn’t I mention last time to you that I had prepared several gifts for Valentine’s Day. Although we…mn, but the gifts still need to be given.”
Jian Yan’s face burned an indescribable red when he paused at that point. “Why do I think you don’t have good intentions?”
“Might be a misconception?”
Jian Yan narrowed her eyes; this was obviously a woman’s intuition.
In the end however, she followed He Xiu upstairs because she was curious what gifts He Xiu had prepared. He Xiu really did end up taking her to a hotel room. The room was decorated with utmost care—candles, red wine, chocolate, roses galore, and even the sofa was sprinkled with rose petals.
Jian Yan stared, hei xian-ing.1 This decoration, as long as the girl was not ignorant, then she would know what the guy was thinking.
He Xiu coughed in a gentlemanly manner and said, “This was how I previously told them to arrange it, even though now…mn, but I already paid for it. It shouldn’t go to waste. “
Jian Yan expertly swept the rose petals off the sofa and sat down. He Xiu pulled out a delicate, large gift box hidden in the room and walked over to her, smiling as he handed it over. “This is our first Valentine’s Day together. I hope every Valentine’s Day will have you by my side.”
Jian Yan blinked rapidly and opened the gift box. Surrounded by beautiful roses inside the gift box was a set of very popular lipstick in every color imaginable.
“Do you like it?”
“I do like it, but even if I switch through three different colours a day, I still won’t be able to use all of them…”
He Xiu chuckled and sat down beside her. “Actually, I originally wanted to buy you high heels, but I heard that you cannot gift shoes to someone you like. I thus gifted lipstick instead.”
- If you don’t remember, imagine the black lines/deadpan expression ↩