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“It’s nothing. What could be wrong?” Mother Xu hurriedly smiled and said. “You guys just returned from the city. You must be tired. Quickly sit down and rest.”
Xu Zhao didn’t move and looked at Mother Xu with suspicion. There was scrutiny in his eyes. He didn’t believe that everything was all right with Mother Xu. He tried using his gaze to find clues of “something wrong” through Mother Xu’s face.
Mother Xu’s expression became even more unnatural.
Something must have happened!
Xu Zhao’s expression became serious and he said, “Mom, don’t hide it from me. Tell me the truth. What in the world happened?”
Mother Xu still tried to talk in circles with him.
Xu Zhao didn’t accept the change in topic and straightforwardly asked, “Did something happen at the shop? Did you get some bad news?”
Mother Xu quickly denied, “No, nothing like that. The shop is fine. Business has been very good, and I didn’t get any bad news. Everything is very good.”
Xu Zhao asked again, “Did someone from the county town bully you and Dad?”
Mother Xu immediately replied, “No.”
Xu Zhao continued to ask, “Then what is—”
Mother Xu finally couldn’t handle Xu Zhao’s interrogation anymore, and told the truth, “Zuocheng and Youcheng came over.”
Just as he thought—
It really was Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng. Previously, Xu Zhao almost didn’t dare to guess it to be Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng. Since when Father Xu was hospitalized, the two were afraid of having to take responsibility and tried their best to draw a clear line with Father Xu. Usually, when someone did this, they wouldn’t have the face to reappear. However, Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng were really different. Not only did they reappear, they also came to provoke the two elders and make them unhappy.
They were really too shameless!
“Why did they come here? Did they want money?” Xu Zhao asked unhappily.
Mother Xu nodded.
“What do they want the money for?” Xu Zhao asked.
“Tuition for Dawa to attend school, 3.50 Yuan. They said your sister-in-law is pregnant and needs to eat well, so they don’t have any money to send Dawa to school. They wanted your dad to pay it or else Dawa won’t be able to study. And in the future, he’ll resent us for being biased,” Mother Xu replied.
They actually said something like that!
Xu Zhao tried to suppress the anger in his heart and asked, “Did you give them money?”
“No, I won’t give them money ever again,” Mother Xu replied.
Didn’t give them money?
If they didn’t get money, then they definitely wouldn’t leave the matter at that. Xu Zhao subconsciously looked all around, but didn’t see a shadow of Xu Zuocheng or Xu Youcheng, and so he asked, “Then where are they? They left?”
“Mn. They left. Qingfeng’s youngest uncle scared them away.”
“Qingfeng’s youngest uncle? Cui Dingchen?”
Cui Dingchen scared Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng away. This was really unexpected.
Xu Zhao couldn’t help but ask another question, “Qingfeng’s youngest uncle came back from the city already?”
“Mn, he’s been back for a while. He said that after he finished his business in the city, he went to look for you and Sanwa but couldn’t find you two. He thought you two came home first, but you two hadn’t come back yet. He planned on going back to the city to pick you two up, but I stopped him. I told him not to go through all the trouble. You’re already an adult, and it’s not like it’s your first time in the city. You wouldn’t get lost.
“I told him that once you’re back, you’ll head over to his house to tell him. And it so happens that Zuocheng and Youcheng came at that time to ask me and your dad for money. We told them we didn’t have any, and they became unhappy. They even angered your dad. Qingfeng’s youngest uncle couldn’t watch on any longer, so he directly told them that if they wanted to raise a fuss, he’d break their legs. They got scared and ran away. Even I got scared by Qingfeng’s youngest uncle. His face was dark and very terrifying!”
Indeed, Cui Dingchen’s facial lines were hard and cold, his gaze sharp, and adding on his looming atmosphere, under normal circumstances, his dark face would be enough to terrify others. And he even said he was going to break their legs. Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng must have been scared to death. However, Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng had never been easy to deal with. The one they were afraid of was Cui Dingchen, but Cui Dingchen wasn’t a member of the Xu family, and he couldn’t stay in Fan’s Little Shop 24/7. Xu Zhao became a bit worried.
Xu Zhao was only worried. He wasn’t afraid of Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng. Ever since coming to this world, he had never been afraid of Xu Zuocheng or Xu Youcheng.
It was just that for the moment, he didn’t have the ability or time to be tangled up with Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng. He had two elders and one child with a very big appetite to take care of. If he had to spend time and energy to deal with them, the losses wouldn’t make up for the gains. However, he couldn’t let them raise a ruckus either, especially not in front of Fan’s Little Shop. If they do, how will he make a big profit during the Mid-Autumn Festival? He was poor and living very miserably, and that was just in line with Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng’s wishes.
He couldn’t live like this!
Xu Zhao turned it over in his mind, and finally thought of a stalling tactic. He raised his gaze toward Mother Xu and said, “Mom, you and dad don’t come to the county town to watch the store for now.”
Mother Xu was slightly stunned and asked, “Why not?”
“If you two are here, Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng will think of every means to cause trouble. One or two times is okay, but three or four… Would our shop still be able to do business?”
Mother Xu understood Xu Zhao’s words, but she couldn’t help but ask, “Then what about the shop?”
“Qingfeng can watch it for now,” Xu Zhao replied.
“Isn’t Qingfeng going to sell mooncakes with you?”
“I just won’t have him go. I can do it by myself. I’ll just be a bit more tired.”
Mother Xu immediately felt distressed and said, “But—”
Xu Zhao rebuked, “Mom, I don’t have time to make trouble with Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng right now. And I can’t let them affect our business or else we won’t be able to afford Dad’s medicine, not to mention blankets to cover ourselves with, so how will we pass the winter? Therefore, we definitely cannot let them ruin Fan’s Little Shop’s reputation. After you and Dad return to the village, regardless of how much trouble they cause, it’ll be a problem within the village. Who in the village doesn’t know about these trivial matters? Who doesn’t know that Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng are good-for-nothings?
“If they look for you to cause trouble, take Dad’s medical bills to the village chief and find the secretary to get justice. Tell them you’re short on money and that his old life is in danger. We’ll delay them like this. After this period of time, if they still dare to make trouble, then I’ll make trouble with them and make them surrender at once!”
When Xu Zhao said this, there was burning anger hidden on his face, even Mother Xu was intimidated by Xu Zhao. Mother Xu was having second thoughts. It was all her fault for trying to share things equally between everyone, and in the end, she had wronged her own son. This had caused her once sensible and tolerant child to become angry. Mother Xu blamed herself as she nodded. She’d listen to Xu Zhao. She’d listen to all his plans.
Xu Zhao knew that Mother Xu was kind, and couldn’t help but pat Mother Xu’s shoulder and said, “Mom, it’s fine. As long as our family is together, there isn’t anything we can’t solve.”
Hearing Xu Zhao turning around to comfort her, Mother Xu’s eyes reddened for a while before calming down. She happily smiled and said, “Okay. Your dad and I won’t come here tomorrow.”
“Okay. I’m heading to the Cui residence first to find Qingfeng and his youngest uncle,” Xu Zhao said with a smile.
“Mn, get going.”
“Daddy, I’ll go too.” Who knows how, but Xu Fan had heard Xu Zhao say he was going to the Cui residence and came over.
Xu Fan deliberately looked at Xu Fan and said, “I’m not letting you go.”
Xu Fan lifted his small face, looking at Xu Zhao as he said, “I’m going.”
“Not letting you go.”
Xu Zhao smiled and gently pinched Xu Fan’s small plump face, then placed the bag of mooncakes inside Fan’s Little Shop. He brought out a box of mooncakes from the bag, handing it to Mother Xu. He told Mother Xu to open it and share it with Father Xu. Then, he took out another box, and took Xu Fan to the Cui residence.
The entire Cui family was currently in the courtyard, sitting on small wooden stools and shelling peanuts. Even Cui Dingchen was shelling peanuts.
Seeing Xu Zhao and Xu Fan enter the yard, the whole family was already very enthusiastic. Especially Mother and Father Cui, who really liked the sweet mouthed Xu Fan, and immediately waved Xu Fan over.
Xu Fan hugged the toy car and walked in front of Mother Cui and asked, “Grandma Cui, what are you doing?”
“I’m shelling peanuts. Sanwa, do you want to eat peanuts?” Mother Cui replied.
Xu Fan nodded without hesitation, and said in a milky voice, “I wanna eat peanuts.”
Mother Cui smiled kindly and said, “Then Grandma Cui will use oil to stir-fry some peanuts and mix it with salt for you later. I’ll give it to you to eat then, okay?”
Xu Fan didn’t speak, his eyes not moving away from the peanut wrapped in red inside the bag. It was very tempting. His small mouth involuntarily filled with water, and he looked at Mother Cui and said, “They can also be eaten raw.”
Can also be eaten raw—
Mother Cui was stunned for a moment, and instantly laughed out loud.
Father Cui was unable to restrain his laughter. This child always had a way of saying truths that would make others cry while laughing.
Cui Qingfeng directly held his stomach, laughing nonstop. Sanwa looked eating too much.
Even the corners of Cui Dingchen’s mouth were raised.
Xu Fan seemed to have sensed that everyone was laughing at him. He embarrassedly turned around and hugged Xu Zhao’s leg, his face buried against the pants and not letting others see him be bashful. However, when Mother Cui shelled a peanut and moved it to his mouth, when Xu Zhao said he could, Xu Fan unrestrainedly moved his mouth over to eat it. Afterward, his small mouth munched and munched, and in the end, he took the initiative to say that he wanted to eat another one.
In order to eat, he didn’t want any face at all!
He was completely shameless!
Xu Zhao couldn’t look at Xu Fan directly, so he didn’t look at Xu Fan anymore. Instead, he handed the box of mooncakes to Mother Cui. There were exactly four inside, one for each person. Mother Cui wasn’t able to refuse, and happily accepted it. It was a shame that it wasn’t mealtime or else she would have cooked a few extra dishes to feed Xu Zhao and Xu Fan.
Once they had finished laughing, Xu Zhao took the initiative to tell Cui Dingchen what he did in the city, and then thanked Cui Dingchen for helping him chase away his two older brothers.
“How are you going to deal with them?” Cui Dingchen asked.
Xu Zhao told him his plan of first having Mother and Father Xu return to the village to stall Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng. Once they had made money from selling mooncakes, and had some ability, he’d clean those two up.
Cui Dingchen nodded after hearing this, approving Xu Zhao’s plan. He then asked, “Have Qingfeng watch the shop. Will you be able to do the mooncake business by yourself?”
“Yes,” Xu Zhao said.
Cui Qingfeng interjected then, “Xu Zhao, how about we have my dad watch the store and I’ll go to the city with you to handle the mooncakes? I’m pretty strong so I can help you move the mooncakes.”
Xu Zhao quickly refused, “No, no. There’s no need. Uncle just recovered, so he can’t tire himself out. Besides, I’m not weak either. I’ll be fine by myself.”
Hearing him say “he wasn’t weak,” Cui Dingchen looked Xu Zhao up and down.
Xu Zhao sensed his gaze and turned to face Cui Dingchen to say, “I just look skinny.”
Cui Dingchen didn’t refute and gently raised his lip.
Xu Zhao and Cui Qingfeng discussed Fan’s Little Shop and made arrangements for the popsicles. In the end, they would leave Fan’s Little Shop and the popsicles completely to Cui Qingfeng, and Xu Zhao would put his entire focus on selling mooncakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival. While they were speaking, Xu Zhao had shelled a handful of peanuts. He placed them in the bowl, then said goodbye to the Cui family.
Before leaving, Mother Cui stuffed a handful of peanuts into Xu Fan’s pocket. When Xu Fan got to Fan’s Little Shop, he took them out to let Grandma and Grandpa eat them.
Xu Zhao just then discovered that Mother and Father Xu hadn’t even opened their box of mooncakes, and placed it inside the bag of mooncakes instead. This was a parents’ love. Xu Zhao didn’t say anything and left a box of mooncakes inside Fan’s Little Shop. He then took Xu Fan and his 200 popsicles to the steel factory.
Before entering the steel factory, he was a bit nervous. He was afraid Sister Yun would refuse to place an order for mooncakes. He had to take three deep breaths before pushing his bicycle inside the steel factory. When they arrived at Sister Yun’s office, he put the popsicles down. He didn’t see Sister Yun and found that something had happened at Sister Yun’s home, so she didn’t come to work today.
Those two brothers are soooo shameless!