Chapter 22: Flower Descends
The moment Xu Huaiming saw Li Zhao, he recognized him as the other protagonist from the video where he had dinner with Tan Xilu.
He didn’t expect to encounter them in this situation.
Li Zhao was dressed very formally, in a suit and tie. His gaze towards Xu Huaiming held a hint of amusement, making Xu Huaiming feel somewhat uncomfortable.
Perhaps knowing that this person might be Tan Xilu’s future partner, Xu Huaiming felt a bit frustrated. He didn’t bother with the usual polite greetings and simply said, “I’m Xu Huaiming.”
Li Zhao looked at him and suddenly smiled. Instead of acknowledging Xu Huaiming’s introduction, he asked Tan Xilu, “Is this your… friend?”
He emphasized the word “friend” with a suggestive tone, hinting at something.
Tan Xilu didn’t expect to run into Li Zhao today. When Xu Huaiming had made the reservation at this restaurant, it had seemed somewhat familiar to him. After some thought, he remembered that Tan’s mother had sent him Li Zhao’s family background. Li Zhao was not just an ordinary pastry chef like Xu Huaiming; his family owned several restaurants, and this seemed to be one of them.
He was afraid that Li Zhao might say something inappropriate, so he pulled Li Zhao aside and stared at him threateningly, asking, “What do you want?”
Li Zhao chuckled, “What can I do? I just wanted to catch up. What’s wrong, not even a simple greeting? Let’s skip the formalities. I’m Li Zhao.”
He turned to look at Xu Huaiming, who was sitting at the table. “If I’m not mistaken, this is your boyfriend, right?”
Tan Xilu let go of Li Zhao’s arm and nodded, admitting, “Yes.”
Li Zhao raised an eyebrow and said, “Well then, introduce him to me. What’s the point of hiding it?”
Tan Xilu furrowed his brow slightly, expressing his concern. “He doesn’t know about your existence. I’m afraid he’ll ask too many questions, and it will be hard to explain.”
Li Zhao’s identity was sensitive, and since Xu Huaiming didn’t know he was Tan Xilu’s blind date, the three of them could still have a civil conversation for now. Otherwise, with Xu Huaiming’s past attitude, it would have been difficult for Tan Xilu to get him into bed tonight.
“So what if he asks questions? It’s not like we’re together,” Li Zhao said with a smile, teasing Tan Xilu. “Or are you secretly trying to dump him and be with me?”
Tan Xilu never expected Li Zhao to be so shameless. He blushed and replied, “Don’t talk nonsense.”
“Alright, I won’t tease you anymore,” Li Zhao said, lifting his hand, as if he intended to ruffle Tan Xilu’s hair. However, he remembered that he wasn’t anything to Tan Xilu and that Tan Xilu’s real boyfriend was sitting right there. So, he withdrew his hand.
Returning to their table, Tan Xilu finally introduced Xu Huaiming to Li Zhao seriously. “This is my boyfriend, Xu Huaiming.”
After Tan Xilu’s introduction, there was a moment of surprise in Xu Huaiming’s eyes. He hadn’t expected Tan Xilu to directly introduce him as his boyfriend.
Inside his heart, it was as if a flower had suddenly bloomed out of nowhere, scratching at his chest, petal by petal.
Li Zhao didn’t seem surprised either. He extended his hand to shake Xu Huaiming’s hand and said, “Hello, I’m Li Zhao, Tan Xilu’s friend.”
Xu Huaiming stood up to shake Li Zhao’s hand, but he still harbored some hostility toward this man. His face remained expressionless as he said, “Hello.”
Xu Huaiming’s hand was unusually cold, not like a normal person’s body temperature. Li Zhao had learned many body temperature measurement techniques from the butler who took care of his grandfather. Sometimes, just by touching someone’s hand, he could tell if they had a fever. However, he had never encountered such a low body temperature as Xu Huaiming’s. It was chilly, as if he had just come out of an ice cellar, but how could that be possible?
Li Zhao looked at Xu Huaiming, and suddenly, he realized that Xu Huaiming’s face seemed somewhat familiar. It was as if he had seen him somewhere before, but he couldn’t recall where.
Xu Huaiming didn’t particularly like physical contact with strangers, so he let go of Li Zhao’s hand after the handshake.
Li Zhao was briefly stunned, still thinking about where he might have seen Xu Huaiming before. It wasn’t until Tan Xilu called his name that he snapped out of it.
Tan Xilu asked, “Why were you lost in thought just now?”
Li Zhao shook his head and said, “It’s nothing.”
Just then, a person came down from the restaurant’s second floor. When they saw Li Zhao, their tone was tinged with anger. “Li Zhao, what’s wrong with you? You went downstairs to get a drink and haven’t come back up?”
Li Zhao seemed to have forgotten about the appointment earlier. He smiled apologetically at the person and said, “Ye Xing, don’t be angry. I ran into an acquaintance down here. I’ll be up in a moment.”
Speaking of acquaintances, Ye Xing followed Li Zhao’s gaze and saw Tan Xilu sitting at the table. He was momentarily surprised and then said, “Teacher Tan?”
Tan Xilu didn’t expect to encounter so many acquaintances while having dinner. He smiled at Ye Xing and said, “It’s Mr. Ye.”
“Do you know each other?” Li Zhao asked curiously.
“Teacher Tan is Si Zhe’s teacher,” Ye Xing said. He didn’t seem interested in chatting and turned to Li Zhao, saying, “Come up soon; we have important matters to discuss.”
“Important matters?” Tan Xilu suddenly had a bad feeling.
“Ye Xing is preparing to propose,” Li Zhao said. “He’s not getting any younger, and he had a girlfriend before, but there was no news for a long time. His family has been pressuring him, and now it’s finally settled.”
Tan Xilu fell silent, not knowing how devastated Si Zhe would be when he heard this news. He also didn’t know if the kiss from that day had anything to do with Ye Xing’s quick decision to propose. But he felt a bit sorry for Si Zhe.
An unrequited love had led to the other person’s wedding in reality.
Although it was expected, it still hurt.
“Alright, you and your boyfriend enjoy your meal. I’ll go up first,” Li Zhao said. He glanced at the small cake on the table and added with a smile, “I didn’t expect you to like that cake so much. I’ll treat you to it next time.”
“No need,” Xu Huaiming, who had been silent all this time, spoke up. “If Ah Lu likes it, I’ll buy it for him. I can afford at least a piece of cake
Xu Huaiming was getting caught up in his thoughts, and he was genuinely annoyed. He regretted coming to this restaurant. He had chosen it because of its high prices, thinking that the more expensive the better. He wanted to give the best to Tan Xilu. However, encountering two of Tan Xilu’s acquaintances in a row and watching Tan Xilu chat happily with them made him feel out of place.
Indeed, he was just an AI substitute, programmed to exist for someone else’s sake. He had no social connections, no friends, no parents, only Tan Xilu as his lover. In other words, apart from Tan Xilu, he had nothing.
Today, he realized that Tan Xilu didn’t rely on him completely either. Tan Xilu was a human being with friends, students, and family. He wasn’t alone.
But Xu Huaiming still felt uncomfortable. He didn’t know what kind of emotion this was. Whenever he saw Tan Xilu getting close to others, he felt uncomfortable. He began to doubt whether there was something wrong with his programming again, as he had been experiencing issues recently.
Xu Huaiming wondered if he was on the verge of malfunctioning.
Li Zhao was taken aback by Xu Huaiming’s blunt response. He looked at Xu Huaiming, who appeared angry and somewhat regretful, and suddenly, a memory surfaced in his mind—a figure picking something up from a fountain. Xu Huaiming’s face gradually overlapped with that figure. Li Zhao opened his mouth and realized that he might have stumbled upon Xu Huaiming’s secret.
T/N: Wishing you all a good September and welcome to Bad End month! 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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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
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