Translated by zellyfish of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
The itinerary of Chen Boqiao’s three day trip in the New Independent Republic was packed.
To fulfill his promise to Zhang Fu, and obscure the real reason for Chen Boqiao and Zhang Jue’s marriage, and leave more room for imagination for outsiders, in addition to discussing the wedding details with Zhang Jue’s family, Chen Boqiao also met up with several important businessman and signed some documents that had already been agreed on long before his trip, and moved Zhaohua’s North American business operations back to the New Independent Republic.
However, the next day, Chen Boqiao still ended the business meeting early and left his subordinates and the reporters at the hotel while he went to visit the Zhang family home.
At four, Chen Boqiao was leaving the hotel and texted Zhang Jue, but it was not seen by Zhang Jue.
These days he was sleepy all the time, he laid on the bed at two and fell fast asleep until his mother woke him up at five.
When he opened his eyes, his mother was standing in a beautiful dress next to his bed, sounding somewhat panicked, “Dear, Chen Boqiao is here.”
Zhang Jue sat up and suddenly reverted back into his old habit and reached for cigarettes on the nightstand. When he touched the cool surface, he startled and retracted his hand.
“He’s with your father downstairs.” His mother did not notice his movement and continued, “And he brought presents for me too.”
Zhang Jue got out of bed and asked, “What did he bring?”
“I haven’t looked at it yet.” His mother shook her head, saying, “I’m kinda nervous.”
Zhang Jue changed out of his pajamas in the walk-in closet and saw his mother leaning on the door frame, looking at him hesitantly like she had something to say, and asked, “What’s wrong?”
She looked at him briefly and did not speak. Then, she tiptoed over and quietly helped Zhang Jue get a few strands of hair stuck in his collar out, and held Zhang Jue’s arm as they walked out.
Chen Boqiao was chatting with Zhang Jue’s father.
The sofa in the living room was big. Chen Boqiao sat on the single sofa near the floor lamp, listening to Zhang Fu repeat the doctor’s assessment of Zhang Jue’s health intently.
Zhang Jue’s situation was better than the doctors had expected. He did not have severe morning sickness or abnormal body indexes, so they decided to take their advice and let the fetus develop, go for regular checkups and observe the situation for a while.
And the wedding date was to be confirmed.
When Zhang Jue and his mother turned the corner from the corridor, Chen Boqiao’s eyes immediately looked over. He smiled at Zhang Jue, “You’re awake.”
Zhang Jue replied with a vague “Mm-hm”, and his father promptly cleared his throat and asked his mother how the dinner preparation was going in the kitchen.
His mother asked on the internal phone, and the chef confirmed that the dinner was ready, so they made their way to the dining room.
The table was long and the four of them were sitting on opposite ends, far apart from each other. During the meal, Zhang Fu was suddenly requested to meet with the president, and he finished his food quickly and left with an apology.
Zhang Jue’s mother was a woman of few words, and the three of them quietly finished eating and went to sit down in the living room.
As there were parents present, Chen Boqiao kept a respectable distance away from Zhang Jue, and his movements and expression was reserved. They were like friends who were sitting down for a quick chat.
Zhang Jue’s mother asked Chen Boqiao some small-talk questions. She did not know too much about Zhang Jue’s school days and wondered if they were friends back in Roche.
“I thought Harrison was his only friend at school.” She sipped from her porcelain teacup.
Chen Boqiao did not lie to Zhang Jue’s mother and say they were good friends. He gently chuckled and did not answer directly, he said that he had lost his yearbook and asked if Zhang Jue still kept his.
That particular day, Chen Boqiao had mainly spoken to Zhang Jue’s parents and not so much to Zhang Jue. Zhang Jue had been listening quietly, so he was a little startled and did not immediately realize the question was directed at him.
“Probably,” replied Zhang Jue after thinking about it.
Unfortunately, he could not remember if it was in the reading room, the attic, or his own room, but he knew he had printed copies of both the photo that was viral on the internet and Chen Boqiao’s yearbook picture. But he was too embarrassed to admit it.
Chen Boqiao placed his cup down and asked Zhang Jue to show it to him.
His mother considered it for a few seconds, and said she was going to do some gardening in the glasshouse, so she would leave them to it.
Zhang Jue and Chen Boqiao got up and walked through the corridor with dark red carpet to the wooden flight of stairs. Zhang Jue turned on the lights and looked back at Chen Boqiao.
Zhang Jue’s father believes that overly bright lights would impede clear thinking, so the nights in the Zhang home were dim and quiet.
Chen Boqiao stood in this mellow lighting looking back at Zhang Jue. He was tall and handsome, his appearance impeccable: he was like an expensive wax figure in the evening light.
Warmth seeped up from the wooden floor, making the staircase feel intimate.
“We need to go up,” said Zhang Jue quietly. Chen Boqiao did not reply and followed him up.
The reading room was the second room on the left on the second floor. It was where Zhang Jue’s father worked; the red wooden floors were not covered in carpet, and there was a wall full of books. Zhang Jue switched on the lights on top of the bookshelf and walked to the wall that had a tag for “Zhang Jue”. He started looking for the yearbook Chen Boqiao was looking for.
Chen Boqiao was waiting for him a few steps behind him.
There were too many books on the shelf, from drawing books from his childhood, to some books he read in his youth. He could not find the yearbook for a while, fingers running over the spine of the books. He started getting distracted and wondered if it was even in the reading room. Suddenly a hand touched his shoulder and the light scent of pine and sea salt got close to him.
Chen Boqiao wrapped him in a loose embrace from the back. Zhang Jue turned to look. Chen Boqiao glanced at the bookshelf and then looked at Zhang Jue, lightheartedly saying, “You’re looking too seriously.”
He pressed Zhang Jue’s shoulders and turned him around. He lowered his head and pressed a kiss on Zhang Jue’s forehead, and through the soft sweater Zhang Jue was wearing, he put his right hand on Zhang Jue’s abdomen with a feather light touch.
“I just…,” there was a smile in Chen Boqiao’s voice,”…wanted to be alone with you.”
Zhang Jue’s back was against the bookshelf, but soon Chen Boqiao hugged him tight.