Chapter 16: Working the night shift
On Christmas Eve, Tan Xilu happened to have no classes, but the dessert shop was still open for business. Xu Huaiming prepared breakfast in the morning and then headed to the dessert shop. Tan Xilu woke up later and had a hasty meal.
This winter was colder than usual, with half a day of snow after the first snowfall. The snow hadn’t melted yet, as if it was meant to create a picturesque scene for Christmas. In the teachers’ group chat, several teachers were sharing videos of students having snowball fights, having a great time.
Someone suddenly brought up the topic of where they were planning to go for the year-end holiday. Some teachers responded, “Oh, where’s the money coming from? My child is about to enter college, and it’s a hefty expense.”
The other person said, “I haven’t decided yet. But I’ll definitely spend it with my parents.”
“I haven’t thought about it. I have to help some students with their projects.”
“I don’t want to fuss during the New Year. I just want to relax in bed.”
Someone unexpectedly shifted the conversation to Tan Xilu, “Teacher Tan, what about you? Your recent open class performance was excellent, and your year-end bonus must be substantial. You’re not going to spend another holiday alone at home, are you? Won’t you go out and have some fun?”
“Yeah, Teacher Tan, being alone is so lonely. How about I introduce you to someone?”
“I’ll do the introduction. I have a niece who just graduated from grad school this year…”
Tan Xilu: How did I get caught in this?
Tan Xilu sighed and rubbed his forehead. In the end, he was only twenty-eight years old. Indeed, it was the age to consider settling down, but his career had just started, and there was no need to rush.
In the past, he would have pretended to be busy or declined by saying he had a hectic work schedule. But now he had Xu Huaiming, and these teachers didn’t know about Xu Huaiming, so they assumed he was still single.
After a brief pause, Tan Xilu responded in the chat, “Dear colleagues, don’t worry about my personal life. It’s already sorted out!”
The chat went silent for about a minute, and then a flurry of messages came in, mimicking chicken clucking.
“Teacher Tan, you’re not being fair. How could you keep a relationship secret from us?”
“Oh, Teacher Tan is really focused on major matters, could it be that next year we’ll find out about children coming into the world?”
“No,” Tan Xilu typed and sent, “I just wanted to stabilize things before telling everyone.”
He hesitated for a moment and decided not to mention that the person he was dating was actually a boyfriend. After all, the situation with Tan Xilu and Qin Sizhe had caused quite a stir recently, and it might not be the best time to share this information.
“Then you must introduce them to us properly!”
“Yes, introduce them, and treat us to a meal!”
“Exactly, treat us to a nice meal.”
Tan Xilu smiled helplessly and replied, “Alright, no problem.”
Tan Xilu thought that when things settled down a bit, he would introduce Xu Huaiming to everyone.
After chatting for a while in the group, Tan Xilu suddenly realized that it was almost two o’clock.
He casually tidied up the dining table and planned to change his clothes before going to the dessert shop.
It was still snowing outside, and he was about to grab an umbrella when someone knocked on the door.
Tan Xilu walked over and opened the door. Outside, Lin Changyu was holding a plate of clean apples and smiling at Tan Xilu. “Teacher Tan, I bought too many apples the other day, and Lin Xiaozhi and I can’t finish them all. I’ve brought some for you. It’s Christmas Eve tonight, so let’s eat some apples and make wishes for peace.”
“Ah!” Tan Xilu was a bit surprised. He didn’t usually celebrate these holidays, and he realized that the things he used to enjoy when he was younger now seemed childish.
Back when he was together with Xu Huaiming, they had celebrated a few holidays together. But because of those holidays and the strange little romantic gestures that Xu Huaiming had done, he couldn’t forget them. So during the days when Xu Huaiming was missing and during these holidays, Tan Xilu preferred to lock himself in his room, reminiscing about every moment they had shared.
Time was a terrifying thing; it could steal away memories. Tan Xilu realized that he was starting to forget what they had done together back then, and these holidays had become just like ordinary days.
Tan Xilu accepted the apples and thanked Lin Changyu.
Lin Changyu waved his hand. “Don’t mention it, Teacher Tan!”
After saying that, Lin Changyu turned and left. Watching Lin Changyu’s figure disappear into the opposite door, Tan Xilu suddenly felt a familiar sensation in his heart. He couldn’t remember where he had seen the clothes Lin Changyu was wearing, but it seemed like something he had seen before, although he couldn’t quite recall it.
Outside the dessert shop, the little Christmas tree figurines were all gone, leaving only the colored lights on the tree. Arlene added a few more figurines, suddenly remembering something, she turned and called out to Xu Huaiming inside, “Xu Ge, is your little surprise ready?”
Xu Huaiming replied with an “Ah” and somewhat embarrassedly came out, saying, “Keep your voice down…”
“Oh, okay,” Arlene quickly covered her mouth and laughed. “It’s my first time witnessing this kind of thing, so I’m a bit nervous.”
“The cake is in the oven, just five more minutes,” Xu Huaiming said. “The strawberries are also washed, and in another half hour, everything will be ready.”
“Wow,” Arlene exclaimed, “that’s great! What about the ring? Is it ready too?”
Xu Huaiming took out a red velvet box from his pocket. “I’ll put it in once the cake is done.”
The surprise that Arlene had helped plan earlier was a “proposal.”
Before, no. 7 had prepared many surprises, and Xu Huaiming knew this. His programmed memories were deeply ingrained. However, due to no. 7’s many concerns, these surprises could only be considered small, and they had never gone beyond that. So something as significant as a proposal had never even crossed no. 7’s mind because it was simply impossible.
But Xu Huaiming was different.
Thanks to no. 7, he could even fulfill all of Tan Xilu’s requests within his capabilities. And because the previous surprises had become a thing of the past, Xu Huaiming thought that the only way to truly surprise Tan Xilu and make it unforgettable was with a more romantic proposal.
When he returned to the shop, the cake had just finished baking. Xu Huaiming took it out and hollowed out a portion of the center of the cake, where he would hide the ring.
It was a deliberately small cake, just the right size for Tan Xilu to finish. When he ate halfway through, he would feel something hard and discover the ring.
Then, Xu Huaiming would propose.
He had seen this proposal idea on TV. After going through countless trials and tribulations in their relationship, the male lead proposed by hiding the ring in a small cake that the female lead loved. The result was that the female lead almost chipped her tooth, and although this method was a bit clichéd and funny, Xu Huaiming thought it might be the best surprise he could give to Tan Xilu.
He was not very skilled in romance; he lacked no. 7’s understanding of it. He knew that even if this proposal were successful, in Tan Xilu’s eyes, he would still be the same Xu Huaiming as before, the one from no. 7’s time.
It took Xu Huaiming thirty minutes to prepare the cake, adding plenty of strawberries that Tan Xilu liked. He decorated it in a beautiful cake box, ready for Tan Xilu to open and discover the surprise.
The electronic clock in the shop chimed on the hour, and it was already 4 PM. Earlier in the morning, Xu Huaiming had sent a message to Tan Xilu.
[Let me know before coming to the dessert shop.]
This was to ensure that he could prepare the surprise without being discovered. However, it was already 4 PM, and Tan Xilu still hadn’t replied.
Xu Huaiming frowned and dialed his phone.
After a long ringing, Tan Xilu finally answered. Before Xu Huaiming could speak, Tan Xilu apologized.
Xu Huaiming uttered an “Ah” and listened as Tan Xilu said, “I’m sorry, Xu Huaiming, something came up at my school. I might not be able to make it to the dessert shop today.”
Xu Huaiming was taken aback, and disappointment crept into his tone. “Is the school matter really that urgent? Can’t you spare some time to come to the shop?”
“It’s quite urgent, I’m really sorry, Xu Huaiming. How about I make it up to you tonight when I get back? We can do whatever you want. Huh?” Tan Xilu’s voice became soft and affectionate, a clear attempt to soothe Xu Huaiming.
“Alright, you go ahead and take care of your business,” Xu Huaiming replied. “Then you…”
Tan Xilu abruptly hung up without waiting for Xu Huaiming to finish his sentence, not even giving him a chance to say, “Come back soon.”
Xu Huaiming stared at his phone, dumbfounded, and eventually told Arlene, “Tan Lu won’t be coming; he’s busy with school.”
“Ahh!” Arlene was surprised. “Why does he have something to do at this hour?”
Seeing that Xu Huaiming’s expression didn’t look good, she quickly comforted him, “It’s okay, we can do it tomorrow. It’s Christmas after all. Or you can take the cake home in the evening. You don’t have to propose in front of a crowd; you can do it in private.”
Xu Huaiming gave a resigned “Hmm” and said, “I guess that’s the only option.”
Xu Huaiming was starting to dislike the word “waiting.” It no longer held the same joy it used to, especially when waiting for a replica of no. 7.
T/N: Hey there! There is plenty more where that came from, so stay tuned! And stay healthy! Straighten your posture, so some stretches and drink some water before continuing hehe~
If you like my translations, feel free to donate to my ko-fi!
I really, really appreciate all the support from my readers <3 It goes a long way and motivates me lots!
Also, check out the other series we have on HoH!
If you like cats, check out Revenge of the Garfield
What about the perfect, most non-toxic male lead ever? Laws of Love
How about MC nursing ML back to health? Forced into the Deep
Thank you for all your support <3 Leave a comment if you like 🙂 I love reading them!