Chapter 45: Rice Wine Dumplings
Translated by Karcessel of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Both Chen Fang and Shen Fu were stunned by Lin ShuYi’s alcohol tolerance.
Among the three of them, Lin ShuYi ended up drinking the most, yet Lin ShuYi was still the clearest of them all. Chen Fang also wasn’t drunk, because while everyone around the table was admiring Lin ShuYi’s drinking ability, he didn’t actually have that much alcohol. Shen Fu, on the other hand, was more than a bit tipsy. In an valiant attempt to take on Lin ShuYi’s drinks for him, shouldering what he thought would have been a burden out of unrequited affection, he ended up a bit dizzy himself. Though he was still better off than all the others around the table deep in their cups. If he had known earlier that Lin ShuYi could stay sober through a thousand cups, why on earth would he have put himself through this?
After eating and drinking their fill, Chen Fang, Shen Fu, and Lin ShuYi took their leave, riding the elevator down to the underground parking garage. As they stepped off, Lin ShuYi walked towards one direction, while Chen Fang and Shen Fu towards another.
Shen Fu turned sharply and grabbed Lin ShuYi’s arm to stop him. Then, rubbing his temples and with his voice a bit hoarse, he asked, “Where are you going? It’s this way.”
Lin ShuYi glanced at Shen Fu, and turned his head back towards the direction he was walking, spotting a familiar car. “Isn’t that your car? Where are you going?”
“Oh.” Shen Fu looked past Lin ShuYi, squinting slightly. He was definitely a little muddled from the alcohol. “I forgot to mention, Chen Fang’s gonna be driving us. Don’t bother with my car, it’s just gonna stay there for now.”
Overhearing the brief conversation, Chen Fang also glanced back and saw that small, unassuming Hyundai, completely out of place parked among a crowd of luxury cars. A hand on Shen Fu’s arm, he laughed, “What happened to your SUV?”
“Didn’t take it. If I drove that car in this city, my old man would find me within a day.”
Chen Fang glanced at Lin ShuYi, and when he spoke again, his voice was quieter. “If your old man is still looking for you, why did you come here? Aren’t you concerned you’ll be ratted out?”
Lin ShuYi now heading in the same direction as the other two, Shen Fu fully draped himself across Lin ShuYi’s shoulders, making Lin ShuYi hold him up. He spoke hoarsely by Lin ShuYi’s ear, “I’m too drunk, help me out a bit.”
Watching as Lin ShuYi shot him a dark look, Shen Fu didn’t react, and eventually Lin ShuYi kept walking, now helping hold him up. He turned back to Chen Fang. “It’s fine, if he wants a challenge, then bring it. It’s what I came for anyway.”
Lin ShuYi listened in for a few seconds, and not understanding what the conversation was about, he quickly lost interest. Thus, he missed the look of shock and awe on Chen Fang’s face.
Making sure that Lin ShuYi wasn’t looking over in their direction, Chen Fang mouthed silently, ‘Are you serious?’
Not quite looking at Chen Fang, Shen Fu was instead focused on Lin ShuYi’s hair. For a long while now, he had been looking for an excuse to touch Lin ShuYi’s soft black hair without scaring Lin ShuYi away, and now with the perfect opportunity he rested his head on Lin ShuYi’s, pretending to be drunk. Lin ShuYi’s hair swept across his cheek, just as smooth as he had imagined.
“Mn,” Shen Fu made a noise in agreement, distracted.
Lin ShuYi was already beyond annoyed from Shen Fu leaning against him, and hearing Shen Fu holding a conversation right by his ear, he pushed him away a little. “Can’t you walk properly?”
A dramatic wronged expression swept across Shen Fu’s face. “You can see that I’m clearly drunk, can’t you help me just this one time?”
“If you’re so drunk then how are you speaking so clearly!”
Leaning even more against Lin ShuYi, Shen Fu slurred, “Really, ‘m drunk.”
Even if Lin ShuYi was suspicious of Shen Fu’s act, he still couldn’t just let go and let him fall on the ground. After all, Shen Fu had drank all that wine for his sake, even if it was misguided. Speaking of the wine, it had tasted much better than that beer he tried all that time ago. It was nice and sweet, like fruit juice. While thinking, Lin ShuYi suddenly narrowed his eyes, distracted from his thoughts, and moved Shen Fu’s hand away from where it had rested against his neck. For some reason, he felt that today Shen Fu was taking every possible opportunity to try and touch him.
Chen Fang was unintentionally third wheeled into the back, walking behind the two, but he didn’t really mind. Looking at Shen Fu and Lin ShuYi’s back and forth, he smiled to himself. So it really was true, the rumors he’d heard. Looks like he really had been out of the loop. If it weren’t for seeing it with his own eyes, Chen Fang didn’t think he would have believed the news that Shen Fu had fallen head first into the palms of a pretty boy.
It seemed that he really didn’t understand love.
The longer than Shen Fu pretended to be drunk, the more he could wait for opportunities to touch Lin ShuYi without setting off any alerts, so he was much too busy to pay attention to what Chen Fang might have been thinking.
Eventually, they reached Chen Fang’s Jaguar, yet Chen Fang was still behind them, strolling at a leisurely pace, hands casually in his pockets. Upon seeing Shen Fu glancing in his direction, Chen Fang fished out a set of keys and unlocked the black car with a click. Shen Fu clumsily got in, and pulled Lin ShuYi along with him.
While getting on the driver’s seat and starting the car, Chen Fang asked, “Where to?”
Still resting against Lin ShuYi, Shen Fu waved a hand. “Wherever. You choose.”
With a nod, Chen Fang drove the car out of the underground parking lot. On the way out, a security guard waved from quite a distance away, shouting, “Young Master Chen, have a safe trip!”
The car sped through the city streets. Shen Fu, who had been energetic all day, finally quieted down with his head resting on Lin ShuYi’s shoulder. Lin ShuYi finally had some time to get a better look of this unfamiliar city.
Clearly, this was the center of the city, filled with tall buildings and bustling crowds. The hotel they just exited from wasn’t a very tall building, but rather sprawled across the city ground. A hotel as massive as this in such an expensive area practically screamed wealth.
Lin ShuYi spent the car ride looking out the window, not making a sound. The wonders of the world were neverending, but having experienced so many, Lin ShuYi no longer had any words to describe them with.
While driving, Chen Fang glanced at his two passengers through the rearview mirror. If just speaking from appearances, these two were an undeniable match. Lin ShuYi had an appearance that managed to be delicate and refined without edging into feminine, and he still held some of that youthful innocence. As he matured in the future, he could only become more stunning. Shen Fu, on the other hand, was dazzlingly handsome. Even in a cheap, comfortable shirt and faded blue jeans, he looked like a star just stepping out from the blinding flashes of paparazzi lights. At worst, he looked like he held a bit of an attitude, yet it still wasn’t the kind that would turn people off.
In terms of social positions, however, these two were leagues away.
As Chen Fang contemplated, he couldn’t help but sigh. So many beautiful women in the world, yet Shen Fu choose to fall in love with a man. Some paths in life were difficult to walk, but this path was beyond even those, especially since Shen Fu was born into the Shen family.
Abruptly, Lin ShuYi turned from where he was looking out the window, and caught Chen Fang’s gaze head on. After a moment, Chen Fang smiled at him, and returned to focusing on the road. Lin ShuYi was left feeling a bit confused.
It was a long while before the car finally began to slow. From where Lin ShuYi had been taking in the view outside, he saw a grand private villa coming into view. Shaking the shoulders of Shen Fu asleep beside him, he murmured, “Wake up, we’re here.”
Sleepily, Shen Fu straightened up from Lin ShuYi’s shoulder. “Here?”
Chen Fang pulled the car into the garage, unlocked his seatbelt, and stepped out the car, announcing, “Yeah, we’ve arrived.”
Shen Fu opened the car door on his side, shook his head to clear some of the fuzziness, and pulled Lin ShuYi out with him. “Isn’t this your place? How come we’re here?”
Chen Fang rolled his eyes, slightly impatient. “How long did you think you could hide your return to H City from your old man? In my place at least, you could hide in peace for a few days. Anywhere else, your grandfather will be knocking on your door by tomorrow morning.”
What Chen Fang said was all true, now that Shen Fu thought about it, so he nodded along in agreement. Then he turned to explain to Lin ShuYi, “This is Chen Fang’s place, so you can relax here. If there’s anything you need, just let me know.”
Chen Fang rolled his eyes again, thinking, letting you know is useless. In the end, it’s still me who’s going to have to resolve any issues.
Lin ShuYi nodded. “It’s getting late today. Anything else, we can do tomorrow.”
After locking his car with a beep, Chen Fang opened the front door, and let everyone in.
An older woman came into the foyer, and upon seeing that Chen Fang had brought guests, immediately began to pull out slippers for everyone.
As she came to the front door, slippers in hand, she noticed Shen Fu and became visibly excited. “Young Master Shen! And here I was wonder who these new guests were, but it turns out to be you. It has been such a long time since you last visited, Young Master Shen.”
Lin ShuYi, who followed behind Shen Fu, she was completely unfamiliar with, so she didn’t pay him much attention at first.
Lin ShuYi greeted her politely, “Hello, ma’am.”
Surprised, the woman quickly waved her hand, brushing it off, “There’s no need to be so polite to an old maid like me. Since you’re the Young Master’s friend, you can just call me Auntie Zhou. Now, don’t go around with ‘ma’am’ this or ‘ma’am’ that.”
Despite her words, Auntie Zhou’s face was still delighted, and internally she thought that Lin ShuYi was a very polite person.
Shen Fu followed Lin ShuYi’s lead and greeted Auntie Zhou too. “Auntie Zhou, we’re going to be staying here tonight, so I’m afraid I’ll have to trouble you to prepare some rooms for us.”
Auntie Zhou waved her hand again, placing the slippers down in front of everyone. She talked while she move around. “It’s no trouble at all. It had been such a long time since Young Master Shen last visited, I’ll go prepare some tea while you three talk.”
Chen Fang stopped her, “There’s no need, I’ll get their refreshments myself. Please go prepare the rooms.”
Auntie Zhou was very familiar with Chen Fang, and understood this meant that he had some private matters to discuss, so she tactfully agreed and left to ready the bedrooms upstairs.
Walking over to the living room, Shen Fu picked a sofa and plopped down, propping his feet on the edge of the coffee table as casually as if this was his own home. He patted the seat beside him, and coaxed Lin ShuYi, “Come and sit. I bet you’ll think this sofa is much more comfortable than the one at home.”
Of course Shen Fu didn’t forget Lin ShuYi’s love of soft sofas. The sofa here wasn’t actually all that soft, however it was made from memory foam, which moulded to suit the body shape of anyone who sat upon it, thus making it extremely comfortable to relax against. As Shen Fu expected, Lin ShuYi melted as soon as he hit the sofa, sighing as his eyelids drooped in enjoyment.
“Juice or tea?” Chen Fang asked once everyone was settled. Then, without waiting for a response from Shen Fu, he said again, “I think juice would be good. Fortunately there’s still a new container of grape juice, I’ll bet that Lin ShuYi would like it.”
Shen Fu was fully prepared to object, but upon hearing the end of Chen Fang’s sentence, snapped his mouth shut. If Lin ShuYi could drink red wine like juice, then he would probably like actual juice as well, so Shen Fu agreed.
Chen Fang came back from the kitchen holding a container of grape juice in one hand and three wine glasses in the other. On the container, there wasn’t a single word Lin ShuYi understood, and upon breaking the seal, the scent of grape juice wafted into the air, not unlike the aroma of the red wine from earlier.
Poured into the wine glasses, the grape juice was a deep purplish red, slighter darker than red wine, but it smelled much sweeter. Chen Fang handed the first glass to Lin ShuYi, then poured another two glasses for Shen Fu and himself. He grinned at Lin ShuYi. “Have a taste, it should taste better than red wine.”
RIch and fruity sweet, it was indeed pure grape juice, and Lin ShuYi, a known sweets addict, liked it instantly.
With a hint of wounded sorrow, Chen Fang watched as Lin ShuYi, who didn’t have much to say for the expensive red wine from earlier in the day, thoroughly appreciated the grape juice.
Auntie Zhou finished preparing the bedrooms, and went downstairs to find Chen Fang, Shen Fu, and Lin ShuYi still chatting in the living room. Coincidentally, she overheard that the polite new guest liked sweet food, so she went into the kitchen to prepared three bowls of glutinous rice dumplings in sweet rice wine.
She brought them to the living room, and said, “Young masters, please, have a late night snack.”
In the bowls were little round dumplings each the size of a thumb, floating in sweet and slightly sour rice wine, fragrant and appetizing.
The fillings inside the dumplings were all made by Auntie Zhou herself. Sesame seeds and peanuts roasted until fragrant, ground into a fine powder, and mixed with the right amount of sugar and oil to make a paste. Then the fillings are rolled into little white balls of glutinous rice flour dough, just the right size for one dumpling per bite, with each a burst of delicious sweet flavor.
Auntie Zhou, however, also knew that Shen Fu wasn’t much for sweet foods, thus Shen Fu’s bowl of glutinous rice dumplings were a little different from the others. Instead of the sweet sesame paste filling Chen Fang and Lin ShuYi had, Shen Fu’s was a milder fruit filling.
Shen Fu accepted the bowls with a smile, and passed Lin ShuYi’s over to him.
Though soft and perfectly chewy on the outside, the sweet sesame filling, much less viscous after cooking, spilled out as soon as the dumplings were bitten into.
Seeing at Lin ShuYi seemed to like his bowl, Shen Fu scooped a few dumplings from his bowl, and held the spoon out for Lin ShuYi to try. Only his eyes revealed his secret delight at getting this chance to feed Lin ShuYi. “Mine isn’t the same flavor, try it.”
Lin ShuYi wavered for a moment, but eventually leaned over and took the offered bite.
Standing a polite distance away, Auntie Zhou’s eyes widened in surprise. She was getting late in her years now, and had worked for the Chen family for a good long while. She’s seen and heard countless things in her time, and could immediately tell that something was different in the way Shen Fu treated Lin ShuYi.
Lifting her head after a moment, Auntie Zhou immediately caught Chen Fang’s gaze looking at her, and she nodded quickly and knowingly, assuring that nothing she saw or heard would reach another soul.
Auntie Zhou had worked for the Chen family for many years now. She understood clearly what she should see and shouldn’t see, and of the things she saw, what she should talk about and what she shouldn’t talk about.
When Chen Fang, Shen Fu, and Lin ShuYi were finished eating, Lin ShuYi’s sleepiness finally caught up to him, but he saw that Shen Fu wasn’t prepared to sleep yet. A little persuasion from Auntie Zhou however, and he left to head to bed first.
Shen Fu reclined against the sofa, one arm resting across the back, and he looked at Chen Fang.
“So, you have something to say? Let’s talk.”