Chapter 10: Monica
When Tan Xilu arrived at the dessert shop, it was just 5 o’clock in the afternoon. Tea time had already passed at this hour, but the place was still quite crowded. The reason was none other than the fact that Xu Huaiming was a handsome owner.
In truth, Tan Xilu was a bit puzzled. It seemed like Xu Huaiming hadn’t changed much from seven years ago. There was hardly any difference. Back then, he had a lot of young ladies swooning over him, which had kept the dessert shop in business.
Xu Huaiming and Arlene were putting the final fruit decorations on the cakes when they heard the bell ring. Arlene was the first to lift her head and said, “Teacher Tan is here!”
Xu Huaiming placed the last small cherry on the cake before looking up at Tan Xilu and smiling. “Is the class over?”
Tan Xilu nodded and walked over to the counter, taking a seat. “It ended smoothly.”
Xu Huaiming reached out and tousled his hair, pushing the cake toward him. “Arlene failed several times before finally making this cake. Want to taste it?”
“Really? Arlene made this?” Tan Xilu glanced at Arlene, who smiled awkwardly and said, “This cake is quite technical, too difficult to make.”
“Then I’ll give it a try.” Tan Xilu took a fork and scooped up a bite.
“Not bad, it’s quite sweet,” Tan Xilu praised after taking a bite.
“Really?” Arlene was pleasantly surprised.
“Wow, this cake looks so beautiful, and it must be delicious!” Several young ladies who had just entered the shop rushed over to the counter. “Can we taste it? If it’s good, we don’t mind buying one.”
“Ah?” Arlene clearly hadn’t expected anyone to like it and was momentarily stunned.
“No need to buy; the cake hasn’t officially gone on sale yet. Go ahead and taste it,” Xu Huaiming pushed the cake towards them. “If you find it tasty, it’ll be a big encouragement for our little sister here.”
“Of course, of course, with a cake this beautiful, how could it not be delicious?” the young ladies smiled.
Encouraged by Tan Xilu’s endorsement, Arlene started chatting with the young ladies about the cake.
With some free time, Xu Huaiming said to Tan Xilu, “Let’s go inside.”
Xu Huaiming was remarkably efficient; while teaching Arlene, he still managed to prepare the desserts that Tan Xilu wanted to try.
Lately, Tan Xilu had developed a preference for matcha cake. Xu Huaiming served him a bowl of hot pearl milk tea with extra toppings, filling it to the brim.
Tan Xilu sipped on it, and the black pearls in his mouth provided a satisfying sensation. That’s why people often say that eating sweets can make you happy.
But aside from Tan Xilu enjoying sweets, Xu Huaiming also indulged in them, except his sweet treat was Tan Xilu himself.
Tan Xilu didn’t quite understand why Xu Huaiming loved kissing so much. When he emerged from the inner room, his lips were tinted red.
Arlene had just seen off a group of customers and was puzzled by Tan Xilu’s unusually flushed complexion. “Teacher Tan, is the air conditioning too hot in the inner room? Why is your face so red?”
Upon hearing this, Tan Xilu blushed even more and didn’t dare to answer Arlene. He hastily mumbled that he needed some fresh air and hurried outside.
A few minutes later, Xu Huaiming emerged from the inner room. Unlike Tan Xilu, his face wasn’t red, his heart wasn’t racing, but there was a small cut at the corner of his mouth.
He had originally planned to take a breather outside, but as soon as Tan Xilu stepped out, his mother called.
In the past couple of years, Tan’s mother had recently retired. She enjoyed her days, receiving a pension from the government, dancing in the square with her friends, going on dining trips and travels. Occasionally, she would attend one of Tan Xilu’s classes at his school. On the surface, she seemed carefree, but her greatest concern remained her beloved son’s personal issues.
Ninety percent of the time, when she called, it was to introduce potential partners to Tan Xilu. The remaining ten percent was spent discussing other matters before she inquired about whether Tan Xilu had found someone.
His phone vibrated once again, and Tan Xilu sighed as he answered it.
As he expected, the first words from Tan’s mother were, “Xiao Lu, have you found anyone suitable recently?”
Before Tan Xilu could respond, she continued, “It’s okay if you haven’t. You know, Zhang Auntie’s uncle’s sister’s cousin’s niece’s son is of marriageable age now. He came out to his family a few years ago and hasn’t found the right match yet. I’ve seen that young man; he’s tall at 1.9 meters, and he’s also in the dessert business. I’m sure you’ll like him.”
His mother grew impatient, “Don’t ‘Mom’ me. Look, you’re not getting any younger. I just want to see you get married while I’m still alive. Is that too much to ask?”
“Mom, I already have…”
“Alright, I’m already downstairs in your neighborhood, and I brought that young man with me. Please come back quickly, let’s meet, just once, okay?”
Tan’s mother had already made her biggest concession by bringing the person along. She couldn’t just take him back now.
There was a pause on the other end of the phone, followed by hurried footsteps, and then Tan Xilu’s voice came through urgently, “Mom, don’t come in yet. The house is not tidy. You can find a nearby place for tea; I’ll be there soon.”
Tan’s mother always believed that the future son-in-law should see her son’s living environment with his own eyes for better understanding and compatibility. Although Tan Xilu felt uncomfortable bringing a stranger to his home for the first meeting, he couldn’t refuse his mother’s request. So, he had to endure it.
It wasn’t the first time that Tan’s mother had brought a potential partner to his home.
Considering that her son might be living a rough life on his own, she thought that this young man might become her son’s future son-in-law. The first impression had to be positive. So, she said, “Alright, hurry up then.”
After hanging up the phone, Tan’s mother felt a bit embarrassed and said to Li Zhao, “I’m sorry about this. Xiao Lu is still busy. Let’s go for some tea first; he’ll be here soon.”
“It’s okay, Auntie. Waiting a bit longer is no problem,” Li Zhao smiled. “Good things take time.”
Tan’s mother looked at Li Zhao with relief. She thought he was a good kid, much better than Tan Xilu’s ex-boyfriend, whom she hadn’t wanted to meet for the past seven years.
Tan Xilu knew his mother was worried about his marriage. She had arranged several blind dates before, with both boys and girls, but they had always been scheduled in advance, and he was informed about them. This was the first time she had directly brought someone over and then informed him. He understood that his mother was genuinely anxious.
He also knew that his mother didn’t like Xu Huaiming, so they couldn’t meet yet. She couldn’t trust someone who had disappeared from her son’s life for seven years. She would probably slap him as soon as she saw Xu Huaiming.
Before his mother arrived, Tan Xilu tidied up the place, making sure it didn’t look like it was inhabited by two people. Then, he called his mother and said, “You can come up now.”
Li Zhao seemed like a very talkative person. When they were going upstairs, Tan Xilu could hear his mother laughing in the hallway. His mother was a university professor, a refined woman. The fact that she was laughing like this indicated that she was quite pleased with Li Zhao. Thinking about it, Tan Xilu realized that his mother might have a hard time accepting Xu Huaiming.
As he opened the door, his mother and Li Zhao had just arrived at the entrance. His mother didn’t seem pleased when she saw that Tan Xilu was wearing a simple home outfit. “I told you we were meeting someone; why are you dressed like this?”
Tan Xilu changed into another home outfit, his hair disheveled and a few strands standing on end, making him look like he had just woken up. “It’s okay, Auntie. This way, it’s more authentic, isn’t it?” Li Zhao’s gaze lingered on Tan Xilu’s body, appraising him.
“Well, that’s true,” Tan’s mother thought. Since they would be living together sooner or later, it made sense to adapt in advance.
Tan Xilu noticed that Li Zhao’s gaze wasn’t very polite and frowned as he looked at him.
Li Zhao did indeed look good. He was probably about the same height as Xu Huaiming but had a different style of handsomeness. Xu Huaiming had the initial impression of being aloof but turned out to be a warm and friendly type upon getting to know him. In contrast, Li Zhao’s first impression was more like a smooth talker.
It was no wonder he could make Tan’s mother so happy, but Tan Xilu didn’t particularly like him.
“Come on in, have a seat first,” Tan’s mother invited Li Zhao, leading him inside by the arm. “What would you like to drink? I’ll have Xiao Lu make it for you.”
While Tan Xilu was boiling water, he had a nagging feeling that he had forgotten something, but he couldn’t quite remember what it was. However, when he saw Li Zhao coming out of the bathroom after holding a pot of hot water, he suddenly recalled it. He seemed to have forgotten to empty the trash bag in the bathroom.
It had happened the previous night when he and Xu Huaiming had a bit to drink. After using the bathroom, he had thrown some items into the trash can and hadn’t had a chance to clean it up yet. He wasn’t sure if Li Zhao had seen it.
However, Li Zhao sat back on the sofa with an expressionless face. Tan Xilu was relieved, thinking that Li Zhao probably hadn’t noticed. Otherwise, it would be quite embarrassing to discover such things when you came for a blind date.
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~
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