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That person was none other than Cui Dingchen.
However, Xu Zhao wasn’t aware of this and didn’t notice either. His entire focus was on the birthday cake. Once he entered the cake shop, he sighed. The cake shops in this era couldn’t be compared to the ones he was used to from the 21st century. There were less types, their appearance weren’t that good, and they couldn’t be freshly made.
Xu Zhao could only choose two of the cuter small cakes that had just come out of the oven. After paying, he carried them out the door, seemingly hearing someone shout his name. Turning toward the sound, he saw Cui Dingchen exit the next door restaurant.
“Youngest uncle,” Xu Zhao turned to Cui Dingchen with surprise and said.
Cui Dingchen was dressed in a black overcoat, making him look even taller. His tall and straight body strode forward, and he looked at Xu Zhao and asked, “What are you doing in the city?”
Xu Zhao raised the cake in his hands so that it was more visible and said, “I came to buy cake.”
Cui Dingchen glanced at it and asked, “Birthday cake?”
“Mn.” Xu Zhao nodded.
“Who’s birthday? Your birthday?” Cui Dingchen asked.
“No, it’s my family’s Xu Fan’s third birthday.”
Still saying “my family’s” Xu Fan. Cui Dingchen’s expression didn’t change and he continued to ask, “Is his birthday today? Or tomorrow?”
Cui Dingchen was silent for a moment before he continued, “When do you plan to celebrate his birthday today?”
“Tonight,” Xu Zhao continued, “It also just happens that Da Zhuang, from next door, also has his birthday soon, so I’ll buy two cakes. We can celebrate together.”
Cui Dingchen immediately answered, “Okay. I’ll head over to your house tonight.”
Xu Zhao hurriedly said, “No need, no need. Youngest uncle, I’ve already received your sentiment. You’re so busy that you don’t even have enough time to eat or sleep. You don’t have to go all the way to South Bay Village. We’re just going to eat some cake to celebrate. It won’t be anything elaborate.”
“It’s fine. I have time.”
“You really don’t have to.” Xu Zhao knew that Cui Dingchen was busy.
He was just about to convince Cui Dingchen to rest if he had time when a cold breeze suddenly passed through. It was like an ice knife, and Xu Zhao immediately shivered, feeling cold. Something warm immediately surrounded him. Cui Dingchen’s coat was put on Xu Zhao’s body. Xu Zhao was slightly startled as he looked toward Cui Dingchen.
“Wear it,” Cui Dingchen said.
“What about you?” Xu Zhao asked.
Cui Dingchen replied, “If I’m not in a car, I’m inside. I won’t feel cold.”
“Just wear it,” Cui Dingchen rebuked, then turned to look at the restaurant. There were still customers waiting inside the restaurant for him. He turned toward Xu Zhao and said, “Wear it. Don’t get sick from the cold. I still have some matters to do so I can’t send you home. Go home first, and I’ll see you later.”
“Okay, youngest uncle. Go take care of your matters,” Xu Zhao quickly said.
“Be safe on the road.”
Without waiting for Xu Zhao to reply or Xu Zhao to return the coat to Cui Dingchen, Cui Dingchen had already strode to the restaurant. Xu Zhao was too embarrassed to follow him into the restaurant to return the coat to Cui Dingchen, but he also felt a bit uneasy wearing it. After thinking it over, he remembered how Cui Dingchen had always cared for Cui Qingfeng, and he was enlightened.
Wearing the coat, Xu Zhao went to the city to buy Xu Fan a cake and rice crispy treats with a clear conscience before walking to the bus stop.
Back at Fan’s Little Shop, Cui Qingfeng saw Xu Zhao and asked, “Xu Zhao, why did you purchase such a large coat?”
That was correct. The coat was very large. Worn on Cui Dingchen’s body, it displayed his especially handsome and sturdy body. But on Xu Zhao, it was clearly too large. It couldn’t be helped. Cui Dingchen was taller than Xu Zhao.
Xu Zhao directly said, “The coat isn’t mine.”
Cui Qingfeng asked, “Then whose is it?”
“Your youngest uncle’s,” Xu Zhao said.
“My youngest uncle?” Cui Qingfeng looked at Xu Zhao with confusion. He didn’t understand why Xu Zhao was wearing his youngest uncle’s coat.
Xu Zhao didn’t hide him and told Cui Qingfeng how he had met Cui Dingchen at the restaurant. Cui Qingfeng finally understood, then said with a smile, “Xu Zhao, my youngest uncle treats you so well.”
Xu Zhao smiled and continued, “Isn’t it all to make you look good?”
“It’s not. It’s because you’re an amazing person.” Cui Qingfeng was only telling the truth.
“Thank you for the compliment. I’ll accept it.”
Xu Zhao smiled and unloaded the shoes and the other things from his bicycle before inviting Cui Qingfeng to South Bay Village for a meal. When Cui Qingfeng agreed, Xu Zhao went to the vegetable market. They had more vegetables at home than the vegetable market had, so he only purchased chicken, fish, eggs, and meat before returning to South Bay Village.
Thanks to Cui Dingchen’s coat, he didn’t feel cold even with the frigid wind. He smelled the faint scent of soap on the coat. It smelled clean and very good. When he arrived home and entered the courtyard, he saw Xu Fan and Da Zhuang.
The two little guys were sitting on little stools in the middle of the courtyard eating pickled plum powders together. Their small meaty hands held the tiny spoons as they scooped the pickled plum powder into their mouths. They were eating it with much relish, the snack covering their entire mouths.
Recently, the two children were obsessed with pickled plum powder. If they weren’t eating pickled plum powder, then they were collecting the various spoons that came with the pickled plum powder.
Xu Zhao helplessly called, “Xu Fan.”
Seeing Xu Zhao, Xu Fan happily welcomed him, “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy, you’re back.”
“Mn, I’m back. You’re eating pickled plum powder again.” Xu Zhao pretended to be unhappy.
Xu Fan’s expression froze as he quickly said, “Daddy, I won’t eat it tomorrow. I won’t spend money tomorrow. I won’t spend money tomorrow.”
“You said it. Men can’t go back on their words.”
“Mn, I said it. Daddy, everything I said is correct.”
“…” What did that have to do with anything?
Xu Zhao didn’t dwell on Xu Fan’s illogical words. He stopped the bicycle and led Xu Fan and Da Zhuang in front of the wash basins to wash their little faces. Each person was given a piece of rice crispy treats. And while the children weren’t paying, he secretly placed the cake into the kitchen and started helping Mother Xu cook lunch.
Mother Xu saw the coat on Xu Zhao and asked about it. After finding out it belonged to Cui Dingchen, Mother Xu couldn’t help but ask, “The Cui family’s youngest uncle is a really good person.”
“He really is,” Xu Zhao said.
Mother Xu couldn’t resist the gossip and asked, “How old is he?”
Xu Zhao replied, “I think 28.”
Mother Xu continued to ask, “Is he married?”
“Oh, he’s still not married yet at 28? He’s not young anymore.” Regardless if they were a man or a woman, everyone in West Prefecture City got married pretty early. There were many people who were married and had kids at 22. Therefore, Mother Xu thought that it was shocking for Cui Dingchen to already be this old and not married yet.
Xu Zhao quickly added, “It seems like he has a partner.”
“Mn. I’m not sure of the details since I’ve never asked. However, I heard Qingfeng say that his youngest uncle had a partner before. He’ll probably get married soon.”
“Oh.” Mother Xu didn’t continue questioning this and instead turned the topic to Xu Zhao and said, “Xu Zhao, when looking for a partner, you should find someone like the Cui family’s youngest uncle. Although he doesn’t speak much, he knows what he wants and has ability, and knows when to act warm and standoffish. This is very good.”
Xu Zhao smiled and said, “It’s not that easy to find.”
Mother Xu immediately replied, “How is it not easy? How about you meet the person from South Sun Village after the new year? It would be his first marriage and he doesn’t mind that you have Xu Fan.”
“Which one from South Sun Village?” Xu Zhao asked.
“The one I mentioned to you before from Provincial Agricultural School. Although his family was too poor in the past and he didn’t finish trade school, he’s now a worker in the city, and his salary isn’t low.”
Mother Xu strongly tried to persuade Xu Zhao.
Xu Zhao smiled and said, “Okay. I’ll meet him after the new year. Mom, today is Xu Fan’s birthday. Qingfeng will come over tonight. Let’s prepare dinner earlier and make a bit more. We should invite Da Zhuang’s family over as well and celebrate together.”
Mother Xu happily agreed. In the afternoon, everyone went to work in the big greenhouse before coming back to prepare Xu Fan’s birthday. Since he was three now, this was quite interesting for South Bay Village. Usually, they wouldn’t celebrate the birthday, and would just have the three year old have a good meal.
Xu Zhao put new clothes and shoes on Xu Fan, making him look very handsome. He wore the new clothes and ran around everywhere. He ran to Da Zhuang’s house and invited Da Zhuang’s family over to celebrate his birthday together. Da Zhuang’s family didn’t arrive empty-handed. The white noodles, peanuts, and dried meats from their house were all brought to Xu Zhao’s home.
The whole courtyard was bustling with energy.
Xu Fan and Da Zhuang were even more excitable. They were full of energy as they played in the courtyard. They kept playing when they suddenly got into a fight. Who knew what caused it, and it was also unknown who won or who lost. In any case, the two children started crying together and ran to their respective parents as they cried.
A little while later, Da Zhuang cried, “Sanwa! Come here, come here! Grandpa Xu turned on the radio!”
Xu Fan immediately replied, “Okay, I’m coming!”
Da Zhuang looked at Xu Fan and said, “Sanwa, let’s listen to the radio together.”
Xu Fan happily said, “Okay. Let’s listen to a story together.”
Da Zhuang cheerfully said, “Let’s listen to a story together!”
In this way, the two little guys reconciled again. Xu Fan even gave Da Zhuang a peanut to eat. It was as if they weren’t the ones who had fought and cried earlier.
The adults were already used to this. They chatted and cooked as they should. As they were cooking, Cui Qingfeng arrived, bringing a toy car for Xu Fan. Xu Fan immediately tore the gift open and played with Da Zhuang. They played until it was dinnertime.
Xu Zhao and Cui Qingfeng returned from the big greenhouse, washed their hands, and brought out the large tables. When the dishes were placed on the large table, the scent invaded their nostrils. Xu Fan, who was in the courtyard, suddenly shouted, “Daddy, the big car is here! Daddy! The big car is here!”
It was unknown how Xu Fan knew, but as soon as Xu Fan’s milky voice sounded, two bright beams of light shone into the courtyard.
Xu Zhao knew Cui Dingchen had arrived.
“My youngest uncle is here,” Cui Qingfeng also knew and happily said.
Xu Zhao followed Cui Qingfeng to open the courtyard gates and instantly saw Cui Dingchen.