Chapter 28: The Shadow Speaks
This winter seemed colder than previous ones, even though Tan Xilu was dressed warmly. As he walked through the school corridor, he still felt a chill in his limbs. He rubbed his arms and entered the classroom sluggishly.
Recently, Tan Xilu’s open classes had been very successful. He was handsome, his teaching logic was clear, and he spoke gently. Some students recorded his classes and shared them online, which gained quite a bit of attention. Today, the usually empty classroom was unusually crowded.
It was the first time since he started teaching that Tan Xilu had so many students attending his class. He looked at them in slight surprise and finally chuckled, asking, “So many people today?”
A girl sitting in the front row replied first, “Because it’s Teacher Tan’s class, who could refuse Teacher Tan?”
Tan Xilu looked at the unfamiliar girl seriously and asked, “I don’t think I’ve seen you before, have I?”
Another girl next to her eagerly chimed in, “Because she likes you, Teacher Tan. Do you have a girlfriend?”
Tan Xilu was momentarily taken aback, then he realized and looked at the girl, saying, “I don’t have a girlfriend.”
The girl’s eyes brightened, but before she could say anything more, Tan Xilu continued, “But I do have a boyfriend.”
The girl looked a bit disappointed, said, “Ah,” and fell silent.
“All right, let’s not waste time discussing my personal life in the classroom. Let’s focus on the lesson,” Tan Xilu said, opening his textbook and beginning the class.
Perhaps because the classroom was full today, everyone was more active in participating. Although many students were unfamiliar faces, possibly friends from other departments, they were all attentive. Tan Xilu occasionally asked questions, and they responded well. He was quite satisfied with the class.
At the end of the class, he assigned a small assignment for everyone to write a summary of the lecture for the next class.
Tan Xilu paid attention to feedback from his students, as he believed that not every teaching method suited every student. He would adjust his teaching methods based on the students’ summaries. As a result, he consistently received excellent evaluations from his students.
After class, as usual, Tan Xilu slowly packed his belongings at the front of the classroom. He usually stayed in the classroom for five to ten minutes after class to answer any questions students might have. However, no students approached him today, which suggested that everyone had understood the lecture well. He picked up his laptop bag and started to leave. Just as he reached the classroom door, someone called out to him.
Tan Xilu stopped and turned around to see the girl who had expressed her liking for him before class.
“What’s up? Did you have trouble understanding the class?” Tan Xilu asked.
The girl shook her head, looked at Tan Xilu with a puzzled expression, and after a few seconds, she spoke, “Teacher Tan, is your boyfriend the pastry chef named Li from ‘West Essence’ Dessert Shop?”
Tan Xilu was taken aback, guessing that she meant Li Zhao. He replied, “No, why would you ask that?”
The girl seemed surprised, “Isn’t it?”
She picked up her phone, found the video she had saved, and showed it to Tan Xilu. “This was constantly being shared on my social media, and everyone said you were dating that pastry chef.”
Tan Xilu watched the video, unsure if the person who recorded it was trying to make fun of him or genuinely believed he was dating Li Zhao. The video had filters and effects that made it look romantic, and if he hadn’t known better, he might have thought the same. Tan Xilu shook his head and replied, “We’re just friends, not dating.”
“Really?” The girl looked disappointed and said, “But please don’t date him. My friend met him at a party yesterday, and he shamelessly asked her out. I used to have a good impression of him, but now I think he’s really cheap. You mustn’t date him.”
The girl emphasized her point by saying “mustn’t” twice.
Tan Xilu couldn’t help but smile wryly and said, “Don’t worry, my boyfriend isn’t him.”
Suddenly, Tan Xilu remembered this morning when he woke up, and Xu Huaiming was standing with his back to him, holding his clothes. Tan Xilu lazily reached out and pulled Xu Huaiming’s shirt. Xu Huaiming turned around and looked at him. He leaned down slightly, touched Tan Xilu’s face, and there was a faint scent of lemon on him, which Tan Xilu had recently come to love. For this reason, Xu Huaiming had replaced most of their home items with this scent.
Xu Huaiming asked, “What’s wrong?”
Tan Xilu raised his lips and said, “Nothing.”
He grabbed Xu Huaiming’s tie, pulled him closer, and then hugged him around the neck and kissed him.
Tan Xilu said, “Xu Huaiming, I love you.”
Xu Huaiming looked at him, smiled, and nodded, saying, “I love you too.”
His boyfriend was perfect, he loved him deeply, so how could he be Li Zhao? His boyfriend’s name was Xu Huaiming, unique and deeply in love with him.
Suddenly, Tan Xilu remembered something else and asked the girl, “You mentioned that many people shared this video. How many people, approximately? Does everyone in the school know about it?”
The girl replied truthfully, “Not everyone. The video was sent to Tan Sinzhe at that time, and he asked everyone to delete it…”
The girl suddenly realized she had said too much and quickly explained, “I wanted to confirm with you if this was really your boyfriend, so I didn’t delete it. Now that I’m sure, I’ll delete it right away.” She pressed the delete button.
Tan Xilu didn’t mind this too much, but he wondered if the video had reached Xu Huaiming. Although they had talked it out the night before, it was still not good to have a controversial video like that circulating, and he blamed himself for his indulgence. He didn’t even know who had recorded it, and it had spread so wildly within the school. Fortunately, Tan Sinzhe knew about his relationship with Xu Huaiming and had asked them to delete the video. Otherwise, they might have been married by now according to the rumors.
Thinking of Tan Sinzhe, Tan Xilu realized that he hadn’t seen the young man in a long time. He wondered how Tan Sinzhe would react to the news of Chi Yexing’s upcoming wedding.
Tan Xilu sighed, hoping that Tan Sinzhe wouldn’t be too upset.
In the evening, Tan Xilu went to the dessert shop as usual. After the New Year’s celebration, business had slowed down a bit. However, because Xu Huaiming was busy with inventory, he couldn’t come to pick Tan Xilu up. Tan Xilu went to the shop alone. When he arrived, there were only a few customers left. Arlene was tidying up, and for some reason, Tan Xilu felt that Arlene
seemed a bit annoyed with him. Usually, when he came in, she would greet him with a smile and call him Teacher Tan, but today she didn’t even look at him.
Tan Xilu felt puzzled but didn’t dwell on it. Perhaps Arlene had dealt with difficult customers today and didn’t feel like talking. He sat down at the counter, and Xu Huaiming, who had just finished working in the back, hadn’t come out yet. She had prepared a glass of lemon water for Tan Xilu, and it was still slightly warm. Tan Xilu took a sip, enjoying the sweet and sour taste that eased the fatigue of the day.
With some free time on his hands, Tan Xilu picked up his phone and tried calling his mother again, but as expected, the call was still in progress. He also sent her a message asking if she had eaten, but it still showed a red exclamation mark, indicating that the message hadn’t been delivered.
Tan Xilu found his father’s WeChat and asked, “How is Mom doing?”
His father replied after a while, “She hasn’t eaten anything for a day, just staying in her room.”
Tan Xilu sighed. His mother had always had a good temper, but this time, it seemed she was really upset. He thought, “Well, I’ll visit home this weekend and talk to her myself.”
So he sent a message to his father, “Dad, try to comfort Mom and get her to eat something. I’ll be home in a couple of days to see her.”
His father sent a sad emoticon and then asked, “Son, is that guy really the only one for you?”
When his father sent this message, Xu Huaiming had just come out of the back room. He must have had an accident with one of the packaging bags, as he had white powder on his clothes and cocoa powder on his face. He looked comical, and although he had originally looked a bit unhappy, he immediately put on a smile when he saw Tan Xilu. “Alu, you’re here!”
Xu Huaiming’s smile was pure, filled with joy. Even from a distance, Tan Xilu could see that his eyes were filled with him.
When Tan Xilu was a child, he had raised a little cat named Ah Miao. It had round, shiny eyes and was a stray cat he had picked up. It was very well-behaved. When it saw Tan Xilu holding a little fish snack, its eyes would widen with excitement. It would lick Tan Xilu’s palm first, and at that moment, he would pet Ah Miao’s head. It was as if Ah Miao sought his approval before finally eating the fish snack.
Once, Tan Xilu had a high fever, lying in bed, seemingly on the brink of death. Ah Miao thought he was going to die and snuggled in his arms. It extended its tongue and licked Tan Xilu’s face, as if begging him not to leave.
Two days later, when Tan Xilu’s fever broke, he was full of energy again. Ah Miao jumped onto him and looked at him, meowing. Tan Xilu could see his own face reflected in Ah Miao’s black pupils.
Tan Xilu felt that Xu Huaiming looked at him in the same way as Ah Miao did back then. He was very happy and a little excited.
So Tan Xilu replied, “Hmm, it has to be him.”
Unfortunately, not long after that, Ah Miao went missing. Tan Xilu thought, “But Xu Huaiming must not leave him.”
He couldn’t bear the pain of losing his loved one again.
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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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
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