Chapter 15: Sweet and Spicy
Li Xuandie finished the last bite of her cake but didn’t wait for Tan Xilu’s response. Her beautiful eyelashes blinked, and she looked at Tan Xilu. “So, Teacher Tan, instead of dwelling on this, it’s better not to meddle in everything. What does it matter who Qin Sizhe was kissing? After all, the matter is settled now. ‘Don’t work, don’t get in trouble.’ I think you understand this better than us.”
Tan Xilu had always known that this girl, Li Xuandie, was quite formidable. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have sought her help. However, he hadn’t expected her to be so uncooperative when he tried to approach the subject indirectly.
Li Xuandie raised an eyebrow and added, “Teacher, you and your boyfriend are really a great match. When are you going to introduce him to us?”
“Well…” Tan Xilu choked for a moment and subconsciously glanced at Xu Huaiming. After a while, he lowered his gaze and said, “Next time, next time I’ll invite you all to have some cake.”
“Thank you, Teacher Tan.” The girl smiled, stood up, and said, “I’ll leave now.”
Watching Li Xuandie’s departing figure, Tan Xilu’s expression darkened.
“Alright, you’ve done your best,” Xu Huaiming said as he placed a triangular piece of cake in front of Tan Xilu. He handed him a fork and said, “Come on, have a piece of cake.”
“Didn’t you tell me not to eat, saying I’d get fat?” Tan Xilu looked at Xu Huaiming.
“Who said you look so downcast?” Xu Huaiming reached over and ruffled Tan Xilu’s hair. “Eating sweets can improve your mood. So, I’ll allow it this once.”
Although he said that, Tan Xilu didn’t have much of an appetite for cake at the moment. Li Xuandie was right; he was meddling too much. But this was at Professor Qin’s request, and he couldn’t just ignore it.
Sometimes, interpersonal relationships could be so complex. If he could, Tan Xilu would prefer not to be a teacher, and he would stay at home. Xu Huaiming wouldn’t need to run a dessert shop either. They could just live a quiet life at home, making desserts together, and spend their days that way.
But that was impossible.
Tan Xilu leaned against Xu Huaiming, feeling suddenly tired.
The dessert shop closed at 9 PM, and Arlene left early for some reason, leaving only Tan Xilu and Xu Huaiming to tidy up.
Tan Xilu wore disposable gloves and picked up the used napkins from the tables, throwing them into the trash can. Sometimes, the girls who visited the shop accidentally spilled their drinks, whether it was cola or orange juice. When that happened, the white tablecloths on the tables would get dirty and needed to be sent for cleaning.
Tan Xilu removed the tablecloth from the table in front of him. He turned to Xu Huaiming and suggested, “Changing tablecloths every time is quite wasteful.”
Xu Huaiming handed him a new tablecloth and said, “Arlene also mentioned this. I plan to close the shop for two days and renovate it a bit. Add some decorations, paint some patterns on the glass tables, and stop using tablecloths.”
“Sounds good.” Tan Xilu spread the new tablecloth.
By the time they finished cleaning, it was almost 10 PM.
At this time, the night market was just beginning. Their dessert shop was located near a night market street, and it was always bustling, especially on weekends. As they walked toward the night market, Tan Xilu saw several familiar students, but they didn’t notice him. Tan Xilu didn’t initiate any greetings; after all, he was here to relax, and it would be awkward to meet students outside of school.
The snack street was bustling, and Christmas was just around the corner. Each stall was adorned with colorful Christmas lights, and some of the shopkeepers’ employees were dressed as Santa Claus, standing in front of their shops to attract customers.
Xu Huaiming was almost pulled into one of the shops by a Santa Claus, but Tan Xilu reacted quickly and pulled him back, apologizing to the shopkeeper and explaining that they weren’t interested.
Tan Xilu led Xu Huaiming to an empty barbecue stall and said, “You should learn to say no. This isn’t like the dessert shop where your good looks can attract customers. These stall owners are aggressive in pulling people in, and if you feel bad and enter, you might end up wasting money on something overpriced and not tasty.”
“I see,” Xu Huaiming glanced at Tan Xilu and remarked, “You seem to know a lot about this.”
“Not really,” Tan Xilu blushed slightly and admitted, “It’s because I’ve made mistakes before.”
Tan Xilu used to avoid junk food, especially spicy barbecue and hotpot. However, after Xu Huaiming went missing and he fell into a period of depression, he started indulging in unhealthy eating habits. This food street had been a place where he had lost quite a bit of money, and he even ended up in the hospital once after consuming something unclean from one of the stalls. But the few places he frequented were clean and safe, so he still visited them occasionally.
The shop owner, upon seeing Tan Xilu’s surprised reaction, came over and said, “A rare guest today, Teacher Tan.”
Tan Xilu smiled and replied, “Yes, it’s been a while. Today, I’m craving some food.”
The shop owner chuckled and said, “Teacher Tan, when you have cravings, you should enjoy yourself. Same as always?”
Tan Xilu looked at Xu Huaiming and asked, “Do you have something you’d like to eat?”
Xu Huaiming hesitated for a moment and then said, “Ah,” while his gaze drifted toward the meat skewers on the table next to them. His mental alert system went off like an alarm, and he quickly shook his head, saying, “What do you want to eat? I’m not hungry.”
“You’re not eating?” Tan Xilu looked a bit disappointed. He turned to the shop owner and said, “Alright, same as usual, then.”
“Sure thing,” the shop owner placed the order on his phone, then looked at Xu Huaiming again, not noticing his expression, and asked, “Teacher Lin is here today too. Teacher Tan, it seems like you haven’t brought your boyfriend to eat barbecue for a long time. Doesn’t Teacher Lin like cold beer? Not having any today?”
“Hmm?” Tan Xilu looked at Xu Huaiming, and suddenly, it dawned on him. His face changed instantly, and he hastily said, “Boss, you’ve got it wrong. This isn’t Teacher Lin.”
“Ah?” The shop owner was momentarily surprised and then looked at Xu Huaiming more carefully. He finally wore a somewhat embarrassed smile and said, “Oh, it’s really not Teacher Lin. My apologies, I got confused.”
Xu Huaiming remained expressionless on the surface, his icy demeanor not revealing any reaction. However, only he knew that his heart was in turmoil.
If it weren’t for him, Tan Xilu might have been in a relationship with someone else. If he hadn’t returned, Tan Xilu might have met someone better. Tan Xilu wasn’t limited to loving only him; he could love others too.
He wasn’t the only one.
But Xu Huaiming desperately wanted to be the one and only. He was grateful that he had returned in time. He was grateful that Tan Xilu had loved him enough to break up with Lin Zhiyuan.
However, there were too many uncertainties. Xu Huaiming had already started to fear what might happen in the future. What if one day, Tan Xilu realized that he wasn’t the same “Xu Huaiming” as before? How disappointed would he be when he discovered that the person he longed for had already died, and how would he react?
Xu Huaiming didn’t dare to think about it. He didn’t want to think about it.
He could sense danger approaching, and Tan Xilu was filling up more and more space in his heart. For an AI, this wasn’t a good sign.
The barbecue arrived, covered in various condiments and smelling incredibly delicious. Tan Xilu seemed ravenous and immediately picked up a skewer to eat, with bits of food sticking to his lips.
He no longer talked about Lin Zhiyuan, as if he had sensed that Xu Huaiming didn’t want to hear about it.
“Grilled chicken wings, they’re delicious. Give them a try,” Tan Xilu picked up a grilled chicken wing and held it up to Xu Huaiming’s mouth.
Xu Huaiming looked at him, hesitated for a moment, and then opened his mouth, taking a bite of the chicken wing.
The ice-cold beer arrived, and the waiter poured it into glasses. The amber liquid was topped with white foam, emitting a slight fizzing sound, reminiscent of a vintage brand.
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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