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Under the sound of Xu Fan’s little milky voice, Cui Dingchen had only just pressed against Xu Zhao’s lips. He then slowly let go of Xu Zhao’s hand. He sat up straight and retrieved his left hand. While Xu Fan was still chattering on, he gazed at Xu Zhao, his heart full of happiness as the corners of his lips rose up.
Besides Xu Fan, this was the first time Xu Zhao was kissed. After the initial shock, his face flushed crimson. His brain stopped working, and he was nudged and called by Xu Fan a couple times before he finally returned to his senses and looked at Xu Fan.
Xu Fan raised his small face and asked, “Daddy, why did you cover my eyes?”
Xu Zhao didn’t understand and asked, “What?”
Xu Fan asked again, “Why did you cover my eyes?”
“I was the one who covered them,” Cui Dingchen said.
Xu Fan turned his head and asked, “W-why did you c-cover my eyes.”
Cui Dingchen gazed at Xu Zhao and said to Xu Fan, “I was playing with you.”
“Hide and seek.”
“I-I don’t want to play with you.”
Xu Fan drilled into Xu Zhao’s embrace with a face of rejection.
Cui Dingchen didn’t get angry and continued looking at Xu Zhao as he gently asked, “Are you feeling shy?”
Xu Zhao lowered his head and didn’t immediately reply.
Cui Dingchen rubbed his thumb on Xu Zhao’s hand and said, “I’ll let you get used to it first.”
The blush on Xu Zhao’s face didn’t fade as he raised his gaze and asked, “Get used to what?”
Cui Dingchen replied, “Being with your partner.”
“Being with my partner?”
“That’s right. We’re together now. So being with your partner.”
Xu Zhao’s face was full of shock. So this was what dating was in this era.
Cui Dingchen observed Xu Zhao’s tiny expressions and asked, “Or do you not think so?”
Xu Zhao quickly returned to his senses and said, “W-we are.”
Cui Dingchen smiled and squeezed Xu Zhao’s hand again.
Xu Zhao glanced at Cui Dingchen’s slender and tidy right hand. His heart inexplicably flowed with traces of sweetness and reassurance. He let him hold his hand until the public grain team entered the grain station in droves. Xu Zhao, Cui Dingchen, and Xu Fan stood from beside the pond and pulled the ox cart into the grain station and continued to line up. They could now sit under the shade of the three.
However, there were many people sitting under the shade, so Cui Dingchen didn’t hold Xu Zhao’s hand again. They chatted as they lamented about paying grain taxes. Once the grains were handed over, Xu Zhao and Cui Dingchen pulled the empty ox cart. That wasn’t right, they pulled that empty ox cart that had Xu Fan in it.
The two people and Xu Fan returned to South Bay Village. However, since Cui Dingchen was heading to West Prefecture City tomorrow, he didn’t stay in South Bay Village for long. He needed to return to the Cui residence in the county town.
Xu Zhao stood beside Cui Dingchen’s car and said, “Youngest uncle, drove slowly. Be careful.”
Cui Dingchen nodded but didn’t start the car.
Xu Zhao looked at Cui Dingchen with suspicion.
Cui Dingchen glanced at Xu Zhao from the side and said, “Come here for a second.”
Xu Zhao bent down to Cui Dingchen.
Cui Dingchen immediately placed a kiss on Xu Zhao’s face.
Xu Zhao was startled and quickly covered his cheek with his hand as he stood.
Cui Dingchen laughed and said, “I’m leaving. I’ll call you. When I come back, I’ll come find you as soon as possible.”
Xu Fan mechanically nodded as he watched Cui Dingchen’s car drive away. When it disappeared, he suddenly felt a bit of reluctance in his heart. Xu Fan interrupted this feeling. Xu Fan came from Da Zhuang’s courtyard and called, “Daddy.”
“What’s wrong?” Xu Zhao replied.
Xu Fan said, “Grandma s-said to eat.”
“I got it.”
“Hurry. There’s a lot of meat.”
Xu Zhao walked toward Da Zhuang’s house. It was Da Ni’Er’s one month celebration today. During the day, Mother and Father Xu helped dye duck eggs and peanuts red, as well as greet and send away the guests. It was time for their own family to eat now. Da Zhuang’s family especially invited Xu Zhao’s entire house over for dinner.
Ever since Da Zhuang’s father started working for Xu Zhao, Da Zhuang’s family’s quality of life had gradually improved. Therefore, the dinner was very rich. There was chicken, fish, pork, and even eggs. Xu Fan and Da Zhuang were extremely happy. The two little guys each held a small porcelain bowl as they sat on their stool and munched on their food.
The adults sat at the large table and chatted as they ate. They first discussed who Da Ni’Er resembled more, then chatted about the gossip of the various households in the village. Finally, the topic turned to the big greenhouse vegetables.
After they finished eating, Xu Zhao called the village chief and secretary over. With the two as witnesses, he signed a land lease agreement with Da Zhuang’s father. Meaning, Xu Zhao would use Da Zhuang’s family’s over 5 mus of land for two years. The usage fee would be 1,500 Yuan. After it was signed, Xu Zhao sent the village chief and secretary home. He then discussed the summer greenhouse vegetables with Da Zhuang’s father.
Due to the weather in South Bay Village, the summers were very hot. If they directly planted vegetables in the ground, it could easily dry out and die. They needed to be covered by a greenhouse.
Da Zhuang’s father asked, “Aren’t you going to grow greenhouse fruits?”
Xu Zhao said, “Next year.”
Da Zhuang’s father asked, “Why wait until next year?”
“Because there’s no money,” Xu Zhao said honestly. “You need a lot of investment when you start growing fruits, and the time period is long as well. I don’t have the ability to oversee it this year. We’ll plant a season of summer and winter vegetables this year and expand next year. Then it wouldn’t be a problem if we added greenhouse fruits as well.”
After hearing this, Da Zhuang’s father scratched his head and said, “Xu Zhao, you’re very smart. I could never think this much. All right. We’ll do whatever you say. I’ll listen to you.”
Da Zhuang’s father was a simple and honest person.
Xu Zhao smiled and nodded, then spoke with Da Zhuang’s father about what they should do next. The next day, Xu Zhao, Da Zhuang’s father, Zhang Xiaohu, and the others worked together to harvest the watermelons. They then drove the tractor directly to the countryside to sell the watermelons. They did this until the busy farming period finished.
Da Zhuang’s father listened to Xu Zhao’s instructions and borrowed two oxen from the village. He, Xu Zhao, and the others took the plow and began to plow the land. They plowed all eight mus of land one by one.
Xu Zhao wasn’t idle either. In order to increase the survival rate of the vegetables, besides going to the vegetable market to set up a stall to sell watermelons, he stayed at home raising seedlings. This way, he could confirm that there weren’t any fake plants mixed within his own vegetables.
While working hard, the busy farming season ended. The children in the village started school. Xu Zhao was in the courtyard as he heard the children chattering.
Xu Zhao couldn’t help but think that once Xu Fan grew up, he hoped that he could love school like Cui Dingchen did. However, all he could ask for was for him to not get tired of learning like Cui Qingfeng did. As he was thinking this, Xu Fan’s cries were heard from outside the courtyard.
Xu Zhao turned his gaze over and saw Xu Fan crying as he walked in. AS soon as he entered, he hugged Xu Zhao’s thigh. His tears and snot were wiped on Xu Zhao’s pants. He was crying very sadly. Xu Zhao questioned Father Xu, who was behind Xu Fan, “Dad, what’s wrong with Xu Fan?”
Father Xu said with a smile, “He was kicked out.”
Xu Zhao was even more curious. “By whom? Who kicked him out? Kicked out of where?”
Father Xu replied, “The school. He was kicked out by the teacher.”
Xu Zhao looked surprised.
Father Xu explained, “Baobao watched the bigger kids carry their backpacks as they ran to the school. He followed. It didn’t matter that the other students had to pay tuition to enter the school, he still tried to squeeze in. The teacher asked what he was there for, and he said he was there to attend school. The teacher asked where his dad was, and he said that his dad wasn’t the one attending school, he was. The teacher told him to look for his dad and didn’t let him stay in the classroom. He wasn’t crying when he left the classroom or school, but the tears started once he entered the village.”
Hearing this, Xu Zhao smiled and hugged Xu. He stretched out his hand to wipe Xu Fan’s little face and asked, “Do you want to attend school?”
Xu Fan was crying a lot. “Mn.”
Xu Zhao gently asked, “Why do you want to attend school?”
Xu Fan said with red eyes and nose, “Because there are lots of big kids there.”
“You want to play with them?”
“Mn, I want to play.”
“But school is a place for studying?”
“I w-will also study.”
Xu Zhao smiled and said, “Okay. Wait until you grow a bit more, then we can attend school. You can study and make friends, okay?”
Xu Fan nodded.
Xu Zhao wiped Xu Fan’s face with a wet towel and said, “Then don’t cry. Daddy will give you a cookie, okay?”
Xu Fan replied, “But Daddy…”
“I want two cookies.”
“Thank you, Daddy.” Xu Fan placed his small meaty hand beside his mouth and laughed.
Xu Zhao carried Xu Fan to the west wing. Just as he gave Xu Fan the cookies, the phone rang. Xu Zhao had a soft smile as he answered it, thinking that it was Cui Dingchen. In reality, it was Cui Dingchen. Xu Zhao naturally told him how Xu Fan followed the bigger kids to school.
Cui Dingchen said, “He wants to go to school that badly?”
Xu Zhao smiled and said, “It’s not that he wants to attend school, it’s just that he saw there were a lot of kids there and wanted to join in.”
Cui Dingchen joked, “The child is really similar to me.”
Hearing this, he happily retorted, “Where is he similar to you? He obviously has nothing in common with you.”
Cui Dingchen asked, “Is there really nothing in common?”
Xu Zhao retorted, “What’s there in common?”
“I think we have a lot in common.” Cui Dingchen coughed and said, “I also loved eating when I was younger. I loved talking and loved running to school with the bigger kids. I also don’t like cilantro. I also liked looking in the mirror. Ahem, I was also very stingy.”
Xu Zhao immediately retorted, “Our Xu Fan isn’t stingy.”
Cui Dingchen laughed on the other end.
After Xu Zhao hung up the phone, he carefully thought about it. In fact, some characteristics were very similar to Cui Dingchen. The more he interacted with Cui Dingchen, the more he thought they were similar. Shifting his thoughts, it had to be a coincidence, so he didn’t think about it anymore. He turned to look at Xu Fan.
Xu Fan was listening to the radio as he had his head down, eating his cookies.
Xu Zhao suddenly remembered about Xu Youcheng’s Xu Erwa and asked, “Xu Fan, when you were playing in the village today, did you see Erwa?”
Xu Fan replied, “I saw him.”
“Is his stomach still hurting?”
Xu Fan took a bite of his cookie and said, “H-he said it doesn’t hurt.”
“How do you know this?”
Oh my. This little child actually knows to ask people. Ever since Xu Youcheng was released from prison, his method of educating Xu Erwa changed. Although he (XZ) didn’t know how he (XYC) educated the child, Xu Erwa, who was two to three years older than Xu Fan, didn’t try to steal Xu Fan’s things anymore. He also didn’t hit Xu Fan. When he bumped into Xu Fan in the village, he would even give Xu Fan things to eat.
Some time ago, Xu Erwa picked up three peaches from the ground. He gave Xu Fan one and Da Zhuang one. The three children let past grudges stay in the past. Without washing the peaches, they sat by the side of the road and munched on it. Of course, Xu Fan’s best friend was still Da Zhuang. It was just that he and Da Zhuang didn’t hate Xu Erwa anymore.
Although Xu Zhao had told Xu Fan about the matter of Xu Erwa taking deworming medicine, it had already been a few days. He didn’t expect Xu Fan to actually go ask.
This little guy! He really was kind!
Xu Zhao happily knelt in front of Xu Fan and kissed Xu Fan. Xu Fan was extremely happy and gave the cookie in his hand to Xu Zhao to eat.
Xu Zhao took a bite and praised Xu Fan without holding back, Sanwa, how are you so good?”
Xu Fan giggled. “Because I look good.”
Were there any logical connections between these two things?
Xu Zhao didn’t argue and laughed as he said, “Xu Sanwa, you’re so narcissistic.”
Xu Fan tilted his little head and asked, “Daddy, what does narcissistic mean?”
“It means you like yourself a lot.”
“I like Daddy.”
Hearing this, his gaze toward Xu Fan turned gentle as he said, “Daddy also likes you.”
Xu Fan happily wrapped his arms around Xu Zhao’s neck.
Xu Zhao hugged Xu Fan and said, “Let’s get to work.”
Xu Fan repeated, “Let’s get to work.”
“If your Second Grandpa Cui comes over later, you should give him one of your cookies.”
Give him half a cookie.”
“Then how about giving one to Da Zhuang?”
“I’ll give Da Zhuang a small half,” Xu Fan said.
As soon as Xu Zhao carried Xu Fan out, Mother Xu happily came in carrying a large stool. Once she moved two, Xu Zhao curiously asked, “Mom, why are you moving stools?”