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Father Cui left.
Cui Dingchen held the cup of warm milk and returned to the room. He sat by his study table. Because of Father Cui’s confirmation, it seemed that he was able to find the important point of his emotions. His thoughts slowly became clear.
His gaze fell to the milk, and his thoughts involuntarily moved to Xu Fan. Xu Fan… After a day of turmoil, he was finally able to calm down. He digested the fact and accepted the fact that Xu Fan was his son.
He had a son.
He had a son!
Not only a son, but he had a wife as well!
The corners of his mouth couldn’t help but lift. His heart was filled with sweetness and happiness, and slowly spread throughout his entire body. He was happier now than when he landed a big business.
He was happy for less than three seconds before his smile froze. The fear and guilt spread through his body again. He couldn’t resist reaching out to grab the box of Chienmen cigarettes from the drawer.
As soon as he touched the box of cigarettes, he suddenly thought of the sentence Xu Fan said: “you stink. I won’t play with you.” His hand paused, but then grabbed the box of Chienmen cigarettes and took it to the main hall table. He would have Father Cui give it to someone or sell it tomorrow. He then once again returned to his room and drank all of the milk. After quickly washing up, he lay on the bed. The entire night was filled with happiness, worry, fear, excitement, guilt, self-blame, and all sorts of other emotions. He couldn’t even escape them in his dreams.
However, when he woke up early the next morning, he didn’t feel tired and was well rested instead. After washing his face and brushing his teeth, he greeted Mother and Father Cui, grabbed the lunchbox and car keys and drove out of the courtyard. He drove to the county town’s Middle Street and bought beef buns, egg bean curd jelly, fried pancake, sweet potato cakes, and others from the side of the street. He placed them inside the car, then drove to South Bay Village.
When he arrived at the entrance of South Bay Village, he saw Xu Zhao, Da Zhuang’s father and the others coming from the big greenhouse. He immediately stopped the car, got out, and called out to Da Zhuang’s father and the others.
Da Zhuang’s father and the others could see that Cui Dingchen was thinking about Xu Zhao, so they each returned to their homes to eat.
Cui Dingchen nodded to Da Zhuang’s father and the others then looked at Xu Zhao and asked, “Did you wake up really early today?”
Xu Zhao smiled and said, “Not that early. I got up just as the sun came up.”
“Are you planting fruit trees?”
“Mn. I want to try planting a mu of fruit first. The other seven mus will be used to plant greenhouse vegetables. It’ll be safer this way. Moreover, we signed contracts for vegetables with a few places, so we can’t use all the space to plant fruits.
Hearing this, Cui Dingchen nodded.
Xu Zhao then asked, “What are you doing here so early?”
Cui Dingchen said, “To see you and Xu Fan as well as Mom and Dad.”
Mom and Dad—
Hearing this form of address, Xu Zhao was both shy and happy. He then said, “You could have come over a bit later.”
“I have some business later, so I wanted to come here first.”
“Is it company business?” Xu Zhao asked. “Your company work should be starting soon, right?”
“It’s not company business.”
Xu Zhao subconsciously asked, “Then what business is it?”
Cui Dingchen looked at Xu Zhao with a profound expression. He still hadn’t told him Shen Jiayang’s situation. He would wait two more days. He would finish taking care of everything after two days, then he could tell Xu Zhao everything and admit his mistake. He didn’t want to tell Xu Zhao a white lie right now, so he stayed silent.
Xu Zhao smiled and said, “A secret, huh?”
Cui Dingchen looked at Xu Zhao with sincerity and said, “Wait for me to finish taking care of business then I’ll tell you everything from the start. You focus on planting fruits for now, okay?”
Xu Zhao nodded. “Alright. Then I’ll head back first. Xu Fan should be awake now.”
“Xu Fan is still sleeping?”
“He was still sleeping when I left. He should be awake now.”
“Alright, get in the car. Let’s go back together.”
“There’s no need to drive there. It’s very close.”
“Get on. It’ll be faster by car.”
Seeing Cui Dingchen insist like this, Xu Zhao got in the car. Just as he got in the car, he was hugged and kissed by Cui Dingchen for a while before Cui Dingchen finally started the car and drove to the Xu family’s courtyard.
They saw the Xu and Li families’ four elderly people sitting inside and discussing the matter of planting fruits and trees when they arrived at the courtyard entrance. Xu Zhao leaned out of the car window and called, “Mom, Dad, sit closer to the side.”
The four elderly people quickly moved out of the way of the car.
After the compact car stopped, Xu Zhao and Cui Dingchen got out of the car. Cui Dingchen carried the breakfast as he rushed to the trunk. After opening the trunk, he brought out all kinds of gifts. It was very extravagant, shocking Xu Zhao and the others.
These gifts were too extravagant.
The two elderly Xus quickly tried to decline the gifts.
Cui Dingchen explained the gifts. Yesterday, he had wanted to give new years gifts to the two elderly, but because of some matters, he forgot the gift. Today’s gifts were both the new year’s gift as well as compensation. It was a show of respect from the younger generation to the older generation. They were gifts from his heart and weren’t worth much.
The two elders looked at Xu Zhao.
Xu Zhao thought that since he had already brought them over, they should accept it for now. Besides, he could just bring more gifts when they went to visit Mother and Father Cui later.
The two elders also thought that declining gifts in the courtyard wasn’t very good either, so they accepted it.
Cui Dingchen breathed a sigh of relief.
Xu Zhao then asked, “Mom, Dad, is Xu Fan awake yet?”
Father Xu said, “Not yet. Baobao is sleeping in today. He’ll probably sleep for a bit longer.”
Just as Father Xu finished speaking, a milky voice came from the courtyard.
“Daddy! Daddy! Where are you? Daddy!”
Xu Zhao, Cui Dingchen and the others heard the noise coming from the courtyard.
They then saw the plump Xu Fan standing inside the main hall. He wore white cotton thermal underwear and hugged a toy car to his chest. His two little feet had slippers, but they were worn backwards. He still looked half asleep as his big, watery eyes wandered everywhere, looking for something.
He was really cute!
However, Xu Zhao, Cui Dingchen, and the others worried that it would be too cold. The four walked toward the courtyard at the same time. Since Cui Dingchen was the tallest and had the longest legs, he quickly arrived in front of Xu Fan. However, Xu Fan turned around and asked Xu Zhao to hug him, completely ignoring Cui Dingchen.
Cui Dingchen: “…”
Xu Zhao carried Xu Fan back toward the west wing and asked, “Are you cold? Why did you get up by yourself?”
Xu Fan snuggled into Xu Zhao embrace and replied, “I’m not cold. I-I want to pee. I got up myself.”
“Did you pee yet?”
“I peed. I picked up my pants myself.”
Xu Zhao placed Xu Fan on the bed and stuffed him into the quilts for a bit. Afterward, he skillfully took clothes, shoes, and socks. He looked very busy.
Cui Dingchen, who was unable to join the conversation or help, quickly spoke up, “Xu Zhao, let me help you.”
Xu Zhao asked, “Help me with what?”
Cui Dingchen said, “I’ll dress Xu Fan.”
Xu Zhao smiled. “There’s no need. I’ve done this at least 600 times a year. I don’t need your help with it.”
Cui Dingchen was silent. He carried the meat buns, egg bean curd jelly and the rest of the food and stood to one side. He silently watched Xu Zhao dress Xu Fan in his small shirt, pants, cotton-padded trousers, socks, down-filled jacket, overalls, and shoes… Layer by layer, and he still needed to confirm if those clothes were comfortable or not.
He never knew that taking care of a child was so troublesome. His gaze fell onto Xu Zhao’s face and saw the gentle and loving expression Xu Zhao had. This gentleness and love was for his child. He thought it was bitter and also joyful. He made a decision in his heart that he would have to love Xu Zhao well for the rest of his life. He had to love him,protect him, and not let him suffer in the slightest. There was also Xu Fan. He had to make up for his absence in the last four years.
“Alright.” Xu Zhao carried Xu Fan off from the bed.
Xu Fan stood on the ground and said, “Daddy, I had a dream.”
Nobody understood their son better than his father. Xu Zhao asked, “Did you dream about eating?”
Xu Fan repeatedly nodded. “Mn. I-I dreamt that I ate beef buns. R-really big beef buns. It was so good!”
Xu Zhao pretended to frown at Xu Fan.
Xiao Xu sucked on his little lip and said, “Daddy, I-I want to eat beef buns.”
“I have some here.” Cui Dingchen was finally able to join the conversation.
Xu Fan looked at Cui Dingchen and greeted, “Second Grandpa Cui, what are you doing here again?”
Xu Fan made good use of the word “again”. It directly reflected Cui Dingchen’s frequent coming to South Bay Village, making Cui Dingchen sweat. He knelt down and asked, “Xu Fan, you don’t like Second Grandpa Cui coming here?”
Xu Fan thought for a second then said, “I do.”
Cui Dingchen was filled with happiness as he asked, “Why?”
Xu Fan immediately said, “Because Second Grandpa Cui has a big car!”
Cui Dingchen asked, “And?”
Xu Fan replied, “And meat!”
Cui Dingchen didn’t give up and asked, “And?”
Xu Fan happily replied, “And rice crispy treats!”
Cui Dingchen learned that his ranking was below the big car, meat, rice crispy treats, milk candy, cookies… Even cats and dogs ranked higher than he did. This ranking gave him a sense of absolute defeat, but there was no other way. Using his usual style, he said, “Is giving you beef buns to eat a good thing?”
“It’s very good.” Xu Fan was ecstatic.
Cui Dingchen handed the lunchbox to Xu Fan.
Xu Zhao took it first and said, “When encountering his favorite foods, he won’t listen to his appetite and instantly overeat.”
Hearing this, Cui Dingchen embaressly rubbed his nose and followed behind Xu Zhao. He silently and earnestly watched Xu Zhao hand Xu Fan a small bowl then gave him a portion of egg bean curd jelly, beef buns and others as Xu Fan ate. He watched every single step, then looked at Xu Fan again.
Xu Fan happily grabbed his small spoon and sat on his small stool as he munched on his food. His small, meaty face was filled with happiness, looking especially good. He really was a mini version of Xu Zhao. He looked so good that Xu Zhao couldn’t shift his gaze away, but he had no choice but to leave to take care of the matters that needed to be settled.
Without waiting for Xu Fan to finish eating, he said goodbye to Xu Zhao.
Xu Zhao, “Leaving so soon? Come eat a bit before you go.”
Cui Dingchen replied, “I’ll eat in the county town.”
Xu Zhao said, “Eat at my house. Everything will be ready soon. Or how about you eat a beef bun? In any case, there’s going to be a lot of leftovers.”
Cui Dingchen smiled and said, “No need. You guys eat.”
Xu Zhao could only walk Cui Dingchen out to the courtyard door.
Before Cui Dingchen got into his car, he couldn’t help but open his mouth to say, “Xu Zhao.”
Xu Zhao softly smiled at Cui Dingchen, waiting for Cui Dingchen to speak.
Cui Dingchen mulled it over for a while before saying, “If I did something in the past to wrong you and hurt you, would you forgive me?”