Being gagged by the lollipop, Wei Ruxia could only give a ‘hmm’ in agreement.
Luo Tang glanced down the corridor, and there were few people around but no one seemed to be waiting for Wei Ruxia. He took out a tissue, wiped the blood off his knuckles, and asked, "Did you come to play in the arcade?"
Wei Ruxia shook her head, and after watching him wipe her hands, she added, "You missed a bit at the corner of your eye."
"Where?" Luo Tang asked, raising his head.
Looking at the drop of blood at the corner of his eye, Wei Ruxia tried to direct him for a while before finally taking the tissue from his hand and wiping it for him. Her fingers had just been holding the lollipop and carried a peach fragrance as she wiped the blood.
After wiping it clean, Wei Ruxia threw the tissue into a nearby bin and said, "All good. Do you know where Yurong's Private Kitchen is?"
Since there had met, she might as well ask him.
"Are you meeting someone?" Luo Tang asked.
"I’m eating by myself." Wei Ruxia denied, "I want to try Ancheng style dishes."
After listening to Wei Ruxia's answer, Luo Tang turned around and spoke to Han Junsong and Wang Silai, "You guys can take care of this. I have something to do. I’m off."
Han Junsong had been maintaining a gossip’s posture since Wei Ruxia had arrived. As soon as Luo Tang finished explaining, Han Junsong nodded and waved goodbye to the two of them.
Luo Tang turned back around and said to Wei Ruxia, "I’ll take you there."
Unexpectedly, Luo Tang would take her personally. Wei Ruxia was about to refuse but when Luo Tang raised his eyes and looked at her, Wei Ruxia swallowed the refusal along with the peach flavour.
Golden Palace International built around a central square with branching corridors extending from every side. Before Wei Ruxia had already walked through five corridors in a clockwise direction, Yurong's Private Kitchen was on the sixth.
When they arrived at Yurong's Private Kitchen, Wei Ruxia looked at the antique sign above the door, she was so close.
Luo Tang was obviously a frequent visitor, and after taking Wei Ruxia inside, he directly crossed the floor and found a position by the window.
It was eleven o'clock in the morning and the number of guests was slowly increasing. A waitress in a cheongsam softly guided the guests to sit down. On a stage in the main hall, an actor holding a pipa had also been seated, ready to perform.
The Golden Palace International Shopping Centre was built near the Anhe River, the best view was by the window. Looking out, the blue sky was cloudless, and on the broad river, several cruise ships and freighters were floating by, slow and heavy.
Before sitting down, Wei Ruxia went to the bathroom first. She was stuffed with a lollipop just as she met Luo Tang and couldn't go to the bathroom before.
Seeing Wei Ruxia sitting down, Luo Tang, who was holding the menu, turned his head and asked, "What do you want to eat?"
Wei Ruxia didn't know anything about Ancheng's local dishes. She glanced at the dazzling menu in Luo Tang's hand and replied, "Whatever the specials are here is fine."
"You like to eat local food?" Luo Tang looked up and glanced at her.
"Sure." Wei Ruxia replied very positively, but her expression was ambiguous.
After Luo Tang made the order, he went to the bathroom to wash his hands. As soon as the dried blood was washed away, the young man's hands became white again, just like the hands of an ancient scholar.
When he calmed down, his facial features and temperament were all clean and gentle. Those who didn’t know him, wouldn't think that his combat effectiveness was so high.
Wei Ruxia was the one who asked to eat Ancheng specialties, but after the dishes came, she only took a few bites.
Compared with her, Luo Tang ate happily. He watched Wei Ruxia taste every dish and then not eat it again. He asked, "Don't like it?"
"It's a bit sweet." Wei Ruxia swallowed and saw that the rice bowl in front of Luo Tang was empty. She asked, "Do you like sweet food?"
"Yeah." Luo Tang picked out a piece of tofu from the mirror box and said, "I eat it a lot, so I’m used to the taste."
She could also get used to it, if she ate it a lot.
Thinking this, Wei Ruxia picked up her chopsticks again and picked out a marinated rib.
After the two had eaten, Wei Ruxia was about to settle the bill when she was told that Luo Tang had already paid it. She thought about it, Luo Tang must have been afraid that a lollipop wouldn’t be enough to buy her silence, so he treated her to the meal as well.
It was a pity Wei Ruxia didn’t take advantage of the free meal. When the two returned, they happened to meet Luo Tang's mother Yang Shuru, on her way back from the publishing house.
She was a Spanish translator who had translated and published many books. She was very talented.
Yang Shuru was naturally not bad looking to be able to give birth to such a beautiful son like Luo Tang. She had an aura that is unique to southern women and although she was nearly forty years old, she still had a girlish glow to her white and tender cheeks.
She had short hair and a small, delicate face. Seeing Wei Ruxia and Luo Tang coming back together, she smiled and asked, "Did you guys meet up on your way home?"
Luo Tang didn’t answer his mother's questions, Wei Ruxia glanced at him, then smiled at Yang Shuru and said, "No, Luo Tang took me to eat some of Ancheng's local specialties."
"How kind." Yang Shuru said, looking at her son with a smile.
When he heard Wei Ruxia's answer, Luo Tang also looked up and glanced at her. She smiled at him, then said goodbye to the mother and son, opened her door and went home.
As soon as he and his mother entered their house, A’Mang ran over and slammed into Luo Tang. Luo Tang bent his knees and squatted down, rubbing his neck.
Yang Shuru put down her briefcase and talked to her son about Wei Ruxia.
"Ruxia came from the north and doesn’t have any friends in Ancheng. You have to get along well with her. Grandma Li in particular, hopes that you two can be friends."
Sitting diagonally on the sofa, Luo Tang grabbed a ball and threw it in the air, catching it easily, carelessly.
"Is it that easy to make friends."
"Just try." Yang Shuru persuaded.
Luo Tang threw the ball away and A’Mang ran after it with his tail wagging. He grabbed the ball in his mouth and handed it back to Luo Tang. Luo Tang took the ball, glancing at the pattern on its surface, and after thinking for a while asked, "Is she really Uncle Wei's daughter?"
Holding a glass of water, Yang Shuru looked a little confused, she said, "It’s true, it’s just that your Uncle Wei doesn't talk about Ruxia very much."
More than that, Wei Zishan showed his dislike on his face.
It wasn’t simple to discuss other people’s family affairs, so Yang Shuru stopped it there and moved onto a different topic.
Her grandma had gone to the funeral for her friend and Wei Ruxia waited in her room for her to come back. But it was already five o’clock in the afternoon, and her grandmother had not only not returned, but Wei Ruxia was given the news that her grandma had returned to her home in the outer suburbs.
Wei Ruxia stood in front of the desk in the study, sitting in front of her was Wei Zishan, who had never spoken to her directly before.
Her grandma told her that Wei Zishan's job was as an actor, and his study was full of various scripts.
Wei Zishan was thirty-eight years old this year, tall and slender, with fair and delicate skin, sharp eyebrows and dazzling eyes. His temperament was elegant which fit well with his career.
He had just returned from the funeral himself and was wearing black trousers and a white shirt, making him look even more indifferent.
Although rather than the usual indifference on his face, Wei Zishan looked at Wei Ruxia standing in front of him with an unnamed fire growing in his chest. Every time he breathed, he seemed to exhale a dull and choking smoke, which caused his throat to burn.
He sat motionless in the seat, with no expression in his pale eyes. Since he didn't want to speak with Wei Ruxia for a long time, he simply got to the point.
"I can provide you with the material needs you need. As for all other aspects, although we live under the same roof, we are strangers. I hope that you can discern the difference. There’s a cook who is responsible for preparing three meals a day, she will prepare northern cuisine for you."
Wei Zishan's words were straightforward and without pretense. With grandma present, he would put it on a little, but now she wasn’t there, he drew a black and white line between them.
Thinking of grandma, Wei Ruxia remembered what she said to her that night.
She raised her eyes to look at Wei Zishan and said, "We can eat together. I went out to try some Ancheng local food today. It was delicious."
Wei Zishan met her gaze, his voice calm and emotionless, "My mother is no longer here."
Neither of them had to pretend to be friendly anymore.
"Oh." Wei Ruxia understood what he meant, she nodded and said, "I get it."
After Wei Ruxia left Wei Zishan's study, she returned to her bedroom to do homework for a while. She was preoccupied however and her study didn’t go smoothly. After closing the textbook, she went downstairs to the yard, turned on the tap, and pulled out the hose to water the flowers.
From Wei Zishan's attitude, she could see his resistance towards her. Regarding the inciting incident, Wei Zishan was indeed innocent, and he was indeed qualified to be cold and reject her from thousands of miles away.
But she was also innocent.
For her grandma, she was now growing up, and learning to bite the bullet and please someone who hated her.
When Luo Tang came back from walking the dog on his skateboard, he happened to see Wei Ruxia standing in the yard watering the flowers. She held the hose and tilted her head slightly, her long eyebrows furrowed in a frown, and the corners of her eyes were slightly turned down.
The setting sun has plated the heavens and earth with a layer of light gold, and the girl was alone in the center of this painting, as if she was abandoned there.
Seeing that she hadn't noticed him, Luo Tang took A’Mang to his door. Just before he unlocked the gate, he glanced at Wei Ruxia in the yard next door and remembered how she looked when he met her at Golden Palace International that morning.
Luo Tang opened the door and put A’Mang inside, then walked to the wall of the neighbouring house. The courtyard wall wasn’t high, and Luo Tang stood there with his arms at just the right height to lean on it.
Wei Ruxia, who was lost in thought, was interrupted by Luo Tang's greeting. She regained her senses and looked up at Luo Tang. He had just returned from walking A’Mang, and his slightly sweaty hair made the boy's face look clearer.
Wei Ruxia was taken away from her thoughts and frowned. Although the two had gradually become more familiar with each other, they weren’t so familiar that she could tell him her troubles.
Wei Ruxia pursed her lips, and came up with a random excuse,, "It's nothing, my grandma has gone back and I have to go to school by myself on Monday."
"Who said that?" Luo Tang asked.
Wei Ruxia was taken aback by the question. She met Luo Tang's gaze and asked, "Huh?"
"Who said you’re going to school by yourself tomorrow?" Luo Tang's eyelashes drooped slightly, and the setting sun offset his profile more clearly making his features seem deeper.
"Isn't there still me? I’ll take you to school on Monday."
The author has something to say:
Tangtang: Friends are nice, but lovers are better.