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“Youngest uncle?” Xu Zhao called.
Hearing this, Cui Dingchen returned to his senses. When he turned his head to look at Xu Zhao, he quickly sat up straight. His complexion returned to normal as he softly said, “You’re awake.
Xu Zhao hummed in reply and curiously asked, “Youngest uncle, what’s wrong?”
Cui Dingchen asked back, “Is there something wrong?”
“Just now, you—”
“I was putting the covers on Xu Fan,” Cui Dingchen quickly refuted, afraid that Xu Zhao would find out that Xu Fan had slapped him in the face. He pushed this matter deep into his heart.
However, Xu Zhao felt that something wasn’t right. He quickly stood and turned his back to the wall and asked, “Youngest uncle, then did you hear a sound?”
Cui Dingchen pretended to not know anything. “What sound?”
Xu Zhao thought for a second and said, “It sounded like a slapping sound.”
“Was there?” Cui Dingchen asked guiltily.
“I didn’t hear anything,” Cui Dingchen thickened his skin and lied.
“Was I dreaming then?” Xu Zhao muttered to himself. He’d been dreaming every night recently. His dreams were very strange, and when he woke, his heart would hurt. This “slap” could have happened in his dreams. Therefore, he didn’t ponder on this question anymore. He turned to Cui Dingchen and said, “Youngest uncle, didn’t I tell you yesterday there was no need to come so early?”
Cui Dingchen calmly said, “There was nothing to do at home, and I missed you guys, so I came to see you guys.”
Xu Zhao smiled and took the initiative to grab Cui Dingchen’s hand. He asked, “Did you have breakfast yet?”
Cui Dingchen said, “Not yet.”
“—Eat at my house later.”
“Mn.” Cui Dingchen wasn’t polite and accepted.
However, Cui Dingchen didn’t eat for free. Besides the presents he brought, he also brought breakfast. It was all the things Xu Zhao and Xu Fan liked to eat. He let Mother Xu say a few words of persuasion. She thought Cui Dingchen was being too wasteful and too polite. Cui Dingchen smiled through the entire interaction. He sat in the courtyard, fixing the morning vegetables with Xu Zhao. They bundled them together to take to the county town later to sell.
As they were working, a sweet milky voice came from the west wing room.
“Daddy! Daddy!” 爸爸！”
Xu Fan woke up!
Just as Xu Zhao put down the vegetables, Cui Dingchen had already rushed toward the main hall. He could only follow behind and stood at the door of the west wing room with Cui Dingchen. They watched Xu Fan bite the nub of the milk bottle while sitting on the bed. He stretched his little head out to look their way.
Seeing Xu Zhao, Xu Fan started giggling.
Xu Zhao walked toward the bed.
Cui Dingchen followed.
“Daddy!” Xu Fan took the milk bottle out of his mouth.
“You’re awake.” Xu Zhao laughed and rubbed Xu Fan’s small, meaty face.
“Mn.” Xu Fan held the milk bottle with both hands.
Xu Zhao had added warm water into the milk bottle this morning so that Xu Fan could drink it when he woke. At this moment, Xu Fan was nibbling on the nub as he drank it. Xu Zhao laughed and asked, “Are you going to get up now?”
Xu Fan nodded and pulled the bottle out of his mouth. “I’m getting up. My belly is hungry.”
“Then let’s get up and eat. Your Second Grandpa Cui brought beef buns.”
Xu Fan turned his head to look at Cui Dingchen.
Cui Dingchen quickly walked over, wanting to say a few sentences to Xu Fan.
In the end, after Xu Fan said “Thank you, Second Grandpa Cui”, there was no after.
Cui Dingchen gloomily looked at Xu Zhao.
Xu Zhao could only say, “Take it slowly.”
Cui Dingchen nodded. He wouldn’t force it, but when he saw Xu Fan, he couldn’t help walking up to Xu Fan. Even if in Xu Fan’s heart, Xu Zhao, Mother and Father Xu, and Da Zhuang’s family were more important than him, he could only accept this fact and take his time. The first step was to take Xu Zhao’s family to the county town.
To South Bay Village, going to the county town wasn’t a small matter. Before heading to the county town, they would fix themselves up. Mother Xu wasn’t an exception. She fixed her hair and wore her new clothes. She also switched Father Xu’s crunches for new ones. Afterwards, the entire family sat in Cui Dingchen’s car.
Mother and Father Xu sat in the back with Xu Fan.
Xu Zhao sat in the passenger seat.
Cui Dingchen tenderly looked at Xu Zhao.
Xu Zhao quickly stuffed his hands inside his pockets to prevent Cui Dingchen from catching him and letting his parents see.
Seeing this, Cui Dingchen gently laughed and looked toward the front. He whispered, “You’re scared of me?”
Xu Zhao was afraid the others would hear, so he whispered back, “Be good and drive.”
“Mn. I’ll listen to you.” His voice was very low but also very ambiguous.
Xu Zhao: “…”
Cui Dingchen turned around and asked the others if they sat properly, then started the car to drive to the county town. He first delivered the bundled up vegetables to the East Street vegetable market to have Xu Zhao’s employees sell them. Afterward, they directly drove to the door of the barber house inside the county town—Big Head’s Barbershop.
Since they came early, there wasn’t anybody in the shop yet. Xu Zhao brought Father Xu and Xu Fan into the barbershop and told the barber to shave Father Xu and Xu Fan’s head. He also wanted to shave Father Xu’s beard and clean his ears.
After arranging everything, Xu Zhao had Mother Xu stay in the barbershop to accompany Father Xu. Meanwhile, he went to the hospital to buy Father Xu’s medicine.
Mother Xu immediately said, “I’ll go with you.”
Xu Zhao said, “I’m just buying medicine. I can just go by myself.”
“It’s not that I want to go with you to buy medicine, but I want to accompany you to get your body examined.”
Hearing this, Cui Dingchen instantly looked at Xu Zhao and asked in shock, “What’s wrong with your body?”
Xu Zhao quickly said, “I’m fine, I’m fine.”
Mother Xu added, “How are you fine? Your head was hurting a lot yesterday.”
“That was because I didn’t sleep well, so my head hurt. My head doesn’t hurt today. I’m very healthy” Xu Zhao looked at Cui Dingchen again and said, “I’m really fine. It was just because I didn’t sleep well the other day that I had a headache. It doesn’t hurt now.”
Cui Dingchen furrowed his brow and said, “All right. Get an examination if it hurts again.”
Xu Fan nodded, then looked at Mother Xu again and said, “Mom, help me watch Dad and Xu Fan. Once I buy the medicine, we’ll take a stroll around the county town to buy some spring clothes for you guys.”
Mother Xu quickly said, “There’s no need to buy any for mea and your dad. The clothes we bought last year are still new. Just buy some for Sanwa and yourself.”
Last year’s clothes—Xu Zhao knew that Mother Xu was frugal. It was useless to say anything. When the time came, he would just buy the clothes, so he didn’t argue with her now. Instead, he told Xu Fan that he was going to the hospital to buy medicine for Grandpa and told Xu Fan to be good and stay here to get his head shaved.
Xu Fan, who just had his head washed and had a towel wrapped around him, sat in the chair and asked, “Daddy, when will you come back?”
Xu Zhao said, “I’ll be back soon.”
Xu Fan added another sentence, “Then you have to hurry back.”
“Hurry back and do what?”
“Hurry back to see how handsome I am!” Xiao Xu’s small, meaty hand held his face as he said, pleased with himself.
“…Okay.” He hasn’t shaved his head yet and he already thinks he was handsome. Xu Fan was probably the only person who could be so narcissistic.
Xu Zhao sat in Cui Dingchen’s car. He only spent five minutes buying the medicine before coming back. However, Xu Fan still had a towel wrapped around him as he sat in the barber’s chair and looked in the mirror. He didn’t shave his head. It was only after Xu Zhao asked that he learned this was Mother Xu’s intention. She said she was afraid that after Xu Fan had his head shaved, he would run away, so she had Father Xu shave his head first. She let Xu Fan sit there and stare at the mirror for now. Xu Fan happily stared at the mirror for five minutes and didn’t make a fuss.
Xu Zhao: “…”
Cui Dingchen: “…”
“All right, we can shave our Sanwa’s hair now,” Mother Xu said.
The barber finally started shaving Xu Fan’s hair. He gave him a very simple crew cut. There was no sense of beauty, but Xu Fan still thought that he was very handsome. While walking, he would shake his head.
Cui Dingchen looked at Xu Fan and seemed to have seen his once clueless and arrogant self. He couldn’t help but raise a hand to his forehead. This child was indeed his. A little bit of embarrassment filled his heart. But seeing Xu Fan’s face which looked exactly like Xu Zhao’s, he was filled with pride.
This kid was his son!
“Xu Fan,” Cui Dingchen couldn’t help but greet.
Xu Fan turned his head and asked, “What?”
Cui Dingchen gently asked, “I’ll carry you to walk around, okay?”
“No,” Xu Fan mercifully refused. “I go myself.”
He was rejected once again.
Cui Dingchen rubbed his nose.
Xu Zhao comforted him, “It’s fine. He’ll be tired soon and might want you to carry him.”
Cui Dingchen said okay.
However, Xu Fan was full of energy and didn’t seem the least bit tired. He followed Xu Zhao and the others to walk around the county town. He visited clothing shops, shoe shops, fabric shops, and shopped for an hour and a half. Mother and Father Xu were already tired, but Xu Fan looked like he didn’t want to stop and rest. Xu Zhao could only say, “Xu Fan, Grandma and Grandpa are tired. Let’s rest for a bit, okay?”
Xu Fan looked at Mother and Father Xu, breathed out a breath and said, “Okay. Let’s rest over there.”
Xu Fan’s small, meaty finger pointed to the pedestrian area’s small garden. There were a few children around Xu Fan’s age sitting in the small garden. They instantly drew Xu Fan’s attention. Xu Fan said, “Daddy, can I go over there?”
Xu Zhao looked at the small garden. The garden area was clean and there were many small children around, so he said, “Go on.”
“Mn.” Xu Fan happily ran to the small garden. When he ran to it, he got closer and spoke to the small children. He talked and talked until he sat with them, completely unafraid of strangers. Not even two minutes later, he and the small children were playing eagle catch chickens. As they played, a couple of the children bumped into someone in the garden. This person was none other than Shen Jiayang.
Sitting next to Shen Jiayang was Qi Shuai and Zhou Xiangqian. When the three of them saw Xu Fan, they couldn’t help looking around and finally found Xu Zhao. They also found Cui Dingchen and Mother and Father Xu.
The three were shocked.
Xu Zhao also didn’t expect to bump into these three here. Leaving his house today was unlucky.
Cui Dingchen was calm and looked as if he didn’t see anything.
However, Shen Jiayang wasn’t someone who was easy to deal with. As soon as he saw Mother and Father Xu, his brain turned. He put on an expression full of tenderness as he looked at Cui Dingchen and affectionately called, “Dingchen.”
Xu Zhao and Cui Dingchen didn’t mind hearing this, but this wasn’t the same for Mother and Father Xu. They had a strange expression as they looked at Xu Zhao, then looked at Cui Dingchen. Cui Dingchen instantly sensed the seriousness of the situation, especially when Shen Jiayang purposely walked toward Cui Dingchen’s side. When he leaned close to Shen Jiayang. Xu Zhao opened his mouth to say, “Zhou Xiangqian, you’re on a blind date with another old classmate?”
Hearing his name, Zhou Xiangqian was shocked and subconsciously hummed in agreement.
Xu Zhao smiled at Shen Jiayang and magnanimously said, “Shen Jiayang, long time no see.”
As Xu Zhao spoke, he stood sideways and blocked Shen Jiayang from hanging onto Cui Dingchen’s arm.
Cui Dingchen looked at Xu Zhao, his eyes carrying a bit of warmth and appreciation. The man he loved was worthy of his love.
On the other hand, Shen Jiayang used a gentle voice to say everything that was on his mind to Cui Dingchen. It didn’t matter if Cui Dingchen wanted to hear it or not, he couldn’t wash away his connection with him. This would create some ill feelings in the parents’ hearts. He wanted to break apart Cui Dingchen and Xu Zhao little by little. He never expected Xu Zhao to suddenly appear and destroy his state of mind, making him feel at his wit’s end. When he lifted his gaze to Cui Dingchen again, he was frozen stiff from the coldness. He immediately took a step back.
Xu Zhao used this opportunity to chat with Zhou Xiangqian for a bit.
Zhou Xiangqian was capable at handling other people’s matters. He walked up and greeted Mother and Father Xu. Mother Xu and Father Xu also spoke a few sentences with Zhou Xiangqian.
It didn’t matter if it was Shen Jiayang or Zhou Xiangqian, Xu Zhao didn’t want to see either of them. After exchanging some pleasantries, Xu Zhao pulled Mother and Father Xu to leave.
Cui Dingchen followed.
Xiao Xu turned his head to Cui Dingchen and said, “Youngest uncle, you should carry Xu Fan.”
Cui Dingchen nodded and walked to the small garden. He squatted down and picked up Xu Fan, who was looking at ants with the other children. When Xu Fan turned his head and saw that it was Cui Dingchen, he immediately resisted, but he was lifted high up by Cui Dingchen, so he started giggling.
Cui Dingchen lifted him up twice before settling him against his chest and gently said, “There’s a lot of people here. Let’s find the big car, and once we do, I’ll lift you up high again, okay?”
Xu Fan immediately said, “Okay.”
Cui Dingchen breathed out a sigh of relief. He was finally able to carry Xu Fan.
In order to be lifted up high, Xu Fan obediently sat in Cui Dingchen’s embrace.
Cui Dingchen was in a very good mood. He looked at Xu Fan with a gaze full of love. The corners of his mouth involuntarily raised up.
The usually expressionless and cool Cui Dingchen, at this moment, was filled with emotion. He looked especially handsome and charming. All of this was seen by Shen Jiayang. Shen Jiayang glared at Cui Dingchen. His gaze slowly moved to Xu Zhao, Mother and Father Xu, then fixed on Xu Fan.
As Shen Jiayang was staring at Xu Fan, Xu Zhao and Cui Dingchen subconsciously turned back and looked at Shen Jiayang at the same time. They also saw Shen Jiayang staring at Xu Fan. The two had some thoughts as he returned their gaze and walked forward.
Walking out of the pedestrian area, Xu Zhao had originally wanted the entire family to eat at Liberation, but Mother and Father Xu thought it was such a waste of money. Moreover, there were still matters at home. They needed to return and take care of them, so they didn’t agree to eating at a restaurant. They finally agreed on heading to the vegetable market to buy more chicken, fish, meat, and eggs. So in the end, they didn’t eat at Liberation.
In fact, there was another reason. Mother and Father Xu were still brooding over Shen Jiayang’s earlier actions. Xu Zhao knew this, and Cui Dingchen knew this as well. Therefore, when they returned to South Bay Village, Xu Zhao had Cui Dingchen take Xu Fan to buy pickled plum powder and Tang Seng Meat, while he brought Mother and Father Xu to the office.
This was the first time they had such a serious conversation. Mother and Father Xu were a bit unused to it. Mother Xu said, “Xu Zhao, what’s going on?”
Xu Zhao mulled it over, then said, “Mom, Dad, I’m going to tell you the relationship regarding Xu Fan and Cui Dingchen.”