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Cui Dingchen was as handsome and serious as always, but the moment his eyes met with Xu Zhao’s, gentleness filled them. He strode to Xu Zhao, stopped in front of him, and asked in a gentle tone, “Have you eaten yet?”
It was very clear that Xu Zhao had always liked this gentle Cui Dingchen, but at this time, he wanted to avoid him. He lowered his gaze and replied, “Not yet. My parents are cooking food now.”
Cui Dingchen continued to ask, “Mn, then what about Xu Fan? Is he still sick?”
Xu Zhao replied, “He’s better now.”
“Where is he?”
“He’s playing with Da Zhuang over there.”
Xu Zhao raised his hand and pointed behind him.
Cui Dingchen looked at the direction Xu Zhao pointed at and saw Xu Fan. Xu Fan seemed to be asking Da Zhuang for food. His small mouth was moving non stop as he spoke. Da Zhuang wasn’t willing to give Xu Fan anything to eat.
Cui Dingchen walked up to Xu Fan with a smile and squatted beside him. He checked Xu Fan’s body and found that Xu Fan really had gotten thinner during this time period. Children really couldn’t afford to get sick. Xu Fan’s face was now even a bit yellow. It looked like the sickness wasn’t completely cured yet.
However, seeing that Xu Fan was in good spirits as always, Cui Dingchen knew that Xu Fan would gain weight again within a few days. He reached out to touch Xu’s small fleshy face before turning to Xu Zhao. He noticed that Xu Zhao was off to the side, dazed, so he called curiously, “Xu Zhao.”
Xu Zhao quickly returned to his senses.
Cui Dingchen walked up to him and asked, “What are you thinking about?”
Xu Zhao was startled and looked at Cui Dingchen.
Cui Dingchen had noticed something these past few days and felt that something was off with Xu Zhao. At first, he thought it was because of Xu Fan, but now he knew it was something else. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have run over during such a busy period. So he directly asked, “Do you need to talk to me about something?”
Cui Dingchen had always been this frank, and Xu Zhao admitted that he indeed had something he wanted to talk to Cui Dingchen about but never had time recently. Since Cui Dingchen brought it up, he wanted to use this chance to clear things up, so he nodded. “Yes.”
Cui Dingchen asked, “Where should we go?”
Xu Zhao replied, “Let’s go to Greenhouse no. 1.” Going to a different greenhouse would be too far. If they stayed in the village, it would be too easy for others to disturb them.
Cui Dingchen nodded. “Let’s go.”
“Let me tell my mom first.” Xu Zhao turned around and walked to the kitchen to tell Mother and Father Xu that he was heading to Greenhouse no. 1 and asked the two elders to watch Xu Fan. He told them not to allow Xu Fan any pickled plum powder, Tang Seng Meat, and other things of the like so that he wouldn’t get sick again.
Afterward, Xu Zhao and Cui Dingchen went to Greenhouse no. 1. All the vegetables in Greenhouse no. 1 had already been sold, but there were still seedlings there. The inside was filled with mashed colors of greens and yellows, making it look very good.
Xu Zhao and Cui Dingchen walked toward the inside of the greenhouse and stopped in an open area. They glanced about the greenhouse to see the situation, then turned to look at each other.
At this moment, Cui Dingchen asked softly, “What’s been going on with you these past few days?”
Xu Zhao didn’t brave it and say that he was okay, instead, his eyes started to sting.
Cui Dingchen directly said, “It shouldn’t just be because of Xu Fan’s situation.”
Xu Zhao lowered his head and hummed, “Mn.”
Cui Dingchen pondered for a moment before asking, “Is it because of me?”
Xu Zhao looked at Cui Dingchen. “Yes.”
“What did I do wrong?” Cui Dingchen looked at Xu Zhao with honest eyes, which made Xu Zhao feel a bit weak. He felt that he was making a big deal out of nothing. How could he believe Zhou Xiangqian’s words? In fact, he believed in Cui Dingchen more. He just didn’t know how to get rid of these knots in his heart. It was because he didn’t want to be a replacement, especially for Shen Jiayang.
And so, a moment later, Xu Zhao’s eyes focused on Cui Dingchen as he asked, “Youngest uncle, you like me, right?”
Cui Dingchen replied, “Of course.”
Xu Zhao continued to ask, “What do you like about me?”
“I like everything about you,” Cui Dingchen honestly said.
“What attracted you first?”
Cui Dingchen fell into thought.
Xu Zhao asked, “Is it because I’m educated?”
Cui Dingchen looked at Xu Zhao and replied, “Mn, it’s a factor.”
“Is it because I’m gentle?”
“That’s part of it.”
“Is it because I’m good looking?”
“That’s also part of it.”
Xu Zhao paused for a moment and said, “But, Youngest uncle, other people will also have these characteristics, no? It can easily be replaced by others or it’s easy for me to replace others as well, right?”
Hearing this, Cui Dingchen slightly frowned and said, “No. You’re you.”
“Am I really me?” Xu Zhao asked.
Cui Dingchen frowned and asked, “What does that mean?”
With this buffer, Xu Zhao finally spoke out his true thoughts. “Youngest uncle, don’t you think Shen Jiayang and I are very similar?”
Cui Dingchen’s gaze wavered.
Xu Zhao’s heart thumped. Sure enough, Cui Dingchen had Shen Jiayang in his heart. Sourness clouded Xu Zhao’s heart. He lowered his voice and said, “Youngest uncle, did something happen between you and Shen Jiayang in the past?”
It took a while for Cui Dingchen to answer. “Yes.”
Xu Zhao didn’t know what he was feeling in his heart. He felt that breathing was hard. He finally asked, “You must really like Shen Jiayang, huh?”
“I don’t,” Cui Dingchen replied.
Xu Zhao was stunned by such a direct answer that his gaze turned to him.
Cui Dingchen said, “I don’t like him. I tried to like him before, but I don’t.”
What did he mean? Xu Zhao was full of doubts.
Cui Dingchen said, “It’s my fault.”
Xu Zhao asked, “How is it your fault?”
Cui Dingchen looked down to the soft soil by his feet and said, “I didn’t tell you about what happened between me and Shen Jiayang. Actually, it wasn’t a very good past.”
Not a good past?
Xu Zhao was surprised. Did Cui Dingchen have a bad past? How bad was it?
Cui Dingchen glanced at Xu Zhao and asked, “Do you want to hear?”
Xu Zhao hadn’t forgotten his manners and asked, “Do you want me to listen?”
Cui Dingchen laughed.
Xu Zhao quietly watched him.
A while later, Cui Dingchen spoke, “I slept with Shen Jiayang.”
Xu Zhao was surprised.
Cui Dingchen continued, “It was five years ago when I opened my factory. Everything was going so smoothly that I found myself on cloud nine. I thought that I was a very capable person and didn’t take anyone seriously. Five years ago, I took a bro of mine to make some money. We did business at a hotel and pub. It was hard to avoid drinking.”
Xu Zhao couldn’t help but ask, “You messed around after getting drunk?”
Cui Dingchen looked at Xu Zhao. “Mn.”
“How did you mess around?” Xu Zhao asked.
Cui Dingchen paused. “It was my bro. He was worried that I would quickly sober up, so he deliberatly throw me into a room with a man…then he took the money and ran. Although, I was able to track him down later and gave him the punishment he deserved. I heard information about that man from him. After many twists and turns, I found Shen Jiayang.”
Xu Zhao didn’t speak.
Cui Dingchen continued, “Shen Jiayang was still a student at that time, and to him, I… I always wanted to make it up to him, so I often picked him up from school, took him to dinner, and tried to cultivate a relationship, but there was no progress. I suspected that I would never like anyone in my entire life.”
Cui Dingchen’s gaze moved to Xu Zhao as he said, “Until I met you. After meeting you, I knew what it felt like for my heart to beat. For the first time, I wanted to be a completely good person…I don’t care that you were with other men before. I don’t care that you have a child. In fact, I like that child because of you. This isn’t something I can control.”
“After confirming that I could have a future with you and Xu Fan, I cleared things up with Shen Jiayang again and compensated him in another way. After that happened, I confessed my heart to you. This is my entire past with Shen Jiayang. Besides that one time five years ago, nothing happened between us.
“If you must ask who I like, besides you, there hasn’t been anyone else.”
Hearing this, Xu Zhao was surprised and felt a bit guilty.
But in Cui Dingchen’s eyes, it looked like he (XZ) was “rejecting” him. Painful tingles stung Cui Dingchen’s heart. He tried to calm down as he asked, “Do you mind what I did to Shen Jiayang?”
Xu Zhao looked at Cui Dingchen, stunned.
Cui Dingchen also looked back at Xu Zhao, “Do you mind?”
What right did he have to mind it? Compared to Cui Dingchen’s drunken mistake, wasn’t he worse? He’d even given birth to a child. Xu Zhao didn’t speak.
Cui Dingchen slightly bowed his head.
Xu Zhao slowly reached out and grabbed two of Cui Dingchen’s fingers.
Cui Dingchen was started and slowly raised his gaze to Xu Zhao.
Xu Zhao softly said, “Youngest uncle, I’m sorry.”
Cui Dingchen’s heart trembled as he asked, “What are you sorry about?”
Xu Zhao guiltedly said, “I’m sorry for believing someone else’s words so easily instead of choosing to believe in you.”
Cui Dingchen looked directly at Xu Zhao and said, “So you’ve been depressed these past few days because of me?”
Xu Zhao nodded. “Mn.”
Cui Dingchen asked again, “So, you really like me?”
Xu Zhao nodded again.
At this moment, Cui Dingchen smiled.
Xu Zhao curiously asked, “What are you smiling for?”
Cui Dingchen didn’t speak. He laughed as he stretched out his hand to pull Xu Zhao into his arms and whispered in his ear, “I’m smiling because I’m happy. I’m happy that your emotions are finally being swayed for me. Even if it’s because you didn’t believe me, I’m still very happy. At the very least, it means that I have a position in your heart.”
Hearing this, Xu Zhao’s heart warmed. His eyes were sour, and he felt that his lack of trust in Cui Dingchen was very saddening, so he said, “Youngest uncle, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have—”
Cui Dingchen cut him off, “Mn. I understand. If this happens again, trust in me more. We’ll settle it this way this time, but you have to talk to me next time. Don’t hide it.”
Xu Zhao put his head against Cui Dingchen’s chest. He listened to Cui Dingchen’s deep voice and smelled the faint fragrance on Cui Dingchen’s body. His heartbeat rose and fell several beats before finally settling down. He softly said, “Mn, I won’t do this again.”
Cui Dingchen reached out and gently touched the back of Xu Zhao’s head. His fingers rubbed against Xu Zhao’s neck, feeling the temperature of his body and his smooth skin. Suddenly, his mouth felt dry. He couldn’t help but reach out his hand and slide it down. At this moment, a milky voice sounded from the entrance of the greenhouse.
“Daddy! Time to eat!”
The voice was very close. Xu Zhao and Cui Dingchen, who were pressed against each other, froze. They slowly turned their head to look at the greenhouse entrance and saw Xu Fan, who had widened eyes, and Mother Xu, who was completely stunned.
What was going on?
Xu Zhao and Cui Dingchen didn’t have time to pull apart from each other before they heard Xu Fan shout, “Second Grandpa Cui! Why are you hugging my daddy?”