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Looking toward the sound, in the white expanse of snow, he saw a figure. Xu Zhao immediately recognized who it was—Cui Dingchen. He was wearing a black tweed coat, his natural beauty out of his world. An ordinary person didn’t have this kind of temperament.
That was right. It was Youngest uncle.
Xu Zhao called out with a slight smile, “Youngest uncle.”
Cui Dingchen strode to Xu Zhao.
Xu Zhao took two steps forward and asked, “Youngest uncle, what are you doing here?”
Cui Dingchen raised the large cloth bag in his hand. “I have something for you guys.”
Xu Zhao curiously asked, “What is it?”
“Milk and pig trotters.”
Xu Zhao didn’t understand and continued to look at Cui Dingchen.
Cui Dingchen tenderly looked at Xu Zhao and gently said, “I promised to give it to Xu Fan yesterday. Since you guys left in a rush, I forgot to give it to you.”
Xu Zhao was surprised and asked, “So you came just for this?”
“I wasn’t busy,” Cui Dingchen’s tone was calm.
“Did you walk here?”
Cui Dingchen nodded. “Mn. The snow was too heavy so I couldn’t drive. It was the perfect time to take a walk and enjoy the scenery.”
From the county town to South Bay Village, the walk was too far. It probably took 40-50 minutes?
Xu Zhao asked, “You must’ve walked a long time?”
Cui Dingchen replied, “It wasn’t too bad. My legs are long.”
Yes, his legs were long, but he would still get tired.
Xu Zhao wordlessly took the cloth bag in Cui Dingchen’s hands and thanked him.
Cui Dingchen then asked, “What are you doing here so early in the morning?”
Xu Zhao smiled and said, “It’s rare to see such beautiful snow. I don’t have anything I need to do either so I brought Xu Fan here to play.”
Cui Dingchen looked around and didn’t see the little chubby child and asked, “Where’s Xu Fan?”
Xu Zhao smiled and pointed behind him. They then saw a thick pile of snow with a small chubby child laying in the middle of it. If that wasn’t Xu Fan, then who could it be?
At this time, Xu Fan was still flapping around. Practice made perfect. He wasn’t aimlessly flapping around now and changed to vigorously exert all his strength at once. The ball-like body used as much strength as if he was nibbling on pig trotters as he turned left and right. When he wasn’t able to flip over once or the second time, he tried again and finally flipped over. His entire small body lay on top of the snow.
Using his two small hands and feet, he supported himself against the snowy ground and stood up with a “aiya.”
When he stood up, his back was facing Xu Zhao and Cui Dingchen. He took steady steps and turned his tiny body around to face Xu Zhao and Cui Dingchen. His meaty little face was red with exhaustion, making him look very handsome. His small meaty face was full of smiles. “Daddy, I stood up myself. I stood up myself. I stood up.”
“Awesome!” Xu Zhao said sincerely.
Xu Fan said breathlessly, “Daddy, clap for me.”
“So awesome! Our Xu Fan is very awesome!” Xu Fan immediately clapped his hands. “Our amazing Xu Fan should also pat away the snow on his body.”
“Okay, I’ll pat it myself.” Xu Fan happily patted away the snow on his small meaty hands and sleeves. When he bent down to pat the snow on his cotton pants, he lost his balance and “plop” sounded as he sat on the snowy ground again. He directly smashed a hole out of the surface of the snow.
“Oh, my. How did I fall again?” Xu Fan said to himself.
Xu Zhao: “…”
Cui Dingchen: “…”
It really couldn’t be helped. Xu Zhao walked forward and helped Xu Fan pat the snow off his body. Once it was all patted off, Xu Zhao turned to Cui Dingchen and said, “Youngest uncle, let’s head to my house to sit and drink a cup of boiling water to warm our bodies.”
Cui Dingchen nodded and followed Xu Zhao and Xu Fan to the Xu residence. The Xu and Li families were currently working together in the Xu residence kitchen, frying deep-fried noodle cake, sweet potato deep-fried dough cake, vegetable meatball and other fried dishes as snacks. And so, they didn’t greet Cui Dingchen.
Cui Dingchen sat with Xu Zhao and Xu Fan in the east wing. He looked at the furniture Xu Zhao had just purchased. When he visited Xu Zhao the first time, there were only two small thatched huts. In the short span of half a year, he already had a tiled house, a greenhouse, and furniture. His abilities really were admirable. As expected of the man he had taken a liking to. As he looked around, Xu Zhao handed over a thick wad of paper.
“What is this?” Cui Dingchen asked.
“3,000 Yuan,” Xu Zhao said.
“You’re paying it back already?”
“Mn, since I have the money now.”
Cui Dingchen looked up at Xu Zhao, not accepting it as he asked, “How much money did you make this time?”
Xu Zhao didn’t tell anyone else, but he told Cui Dingchen. “Since I built the house till now, I’ve earned 5-6,000 Yuan.”
Cui Dingchen nodded and said, “Not bad. It’s already great that you made this much money when you’re just starting out.”
Xu Zhao didn’t act modest this time as he smiled and said, “Mn, I also think it’s great. Moreover, I can also sell the last of the vegetables after the new year and make a bit more money.”
“You must have spent a lot for the new year as well. Will you have any money left after giving me the 3,000?” Cui Dingchen asked.
Xu Zhao answered, “I do. Don’t worry.”
“Okay.” Cui Dingchen finally reached out and accepted the thick wad of paper.
Xu Zhao said, “Youngest uncle, you should count it to see if it really is 3,000 Yuan.”
“No need to count it.”
Xu Zhao asked again, “Then did you bring the IOU?”
“I’ll take it.”
Cui Dingchen took out a slip of paper from his pockets. The slip of paper was small and folded. When he handed it to Xu Zhao, he lightly brushed against Xu Zhao’s fingers. They were slightly cool and smooth. The touch made his heart flutter as he fixed his eyes on Xu Zhao’s body.
Xu Zhao unfolded the note and looked at the handwriting on it. It really was the one he had given Cui Dingchen last time. But how had it gotten so rugged that the edges were frying? He couldn’t help but ask, “Youngest uncle, what happened to this piece of paper?”
Cui Dingchen immediately snapped out of it and asked, “What’s wrong?”
“How did it get so worn out like this?”
“Oh, it’s because I almost washed it before.” In fact, that wasn’t what had happened.
“Really?” Xu Zhao asked, only half believing him.
Xu Zhao didn’t doubt him and tore the two pieces of paper together, one old, one new. His entire body relaxed. Afterward, Mother Xu called him. He went to the kitchen and when he came back, he was holding a small bamboo basket. Inside contained the frying deep-fried noodle cake, sweet potato deep-fried dough cake, vegetable meatball, fried flax leaves, and other things that just came out of the fryer. The glistening yellow color emitted a strong fragrance as he placed it on the table.
Xu Fan, who was paying to the side, used his small meaty hands to grab the edge of the table. He stood on his tip toes as he looked at the big table and asked, “Daddy, what is this?”
Xu Zhao said, “Food.”
Xu Fan’s small mouth unconsciously smacked together as he said, “I also want to eat.”
Xu Zhao deliberately teased him, “It’s something you don’t like to eat.”
“I like to eat everything.”
“…Hold on. Let’s be polite and let your Second Grandpa Cui eat first before you do.”
“I want to eat that big one.” Xu Fan’s little meaty hand pointed to the sweet potato deep-fried dough cake.
Xu Zhao handed Cui Dingchen a pair of chopsticks and let Cui Dingchen grab something to eat before handing a small bowl containing the sweet potato deep-fried dough cake to Xu Fan and having him sit on the tall stool to eat. He turned to Cui Dingchen then asked, “Youngest uncle, why don’t you stay for lunch?”
Cui Dingchen nodded and said, “Okay.”
“I’ll make fish head tofu soup to drink later.”
“I also want to drink,” Xu Fan added on.
“You eat and drink everything.”
“Mn.” Xu Fan seriously nodded. He was especially honest about his own likes.
Cui Dingchen looked at the chubby Xu Fan and slightly smiled and asked, “Does he have anything he doesn’t like to eat?”
“He does. He doesn’t like coriander.”
Cui Dingchen smiled and said, “Coincidentally, I also didn’t like them when I was a child.”
“What about now?”
“It’s acceptable now.”
Xu Zhao laughed and joked, “Maybe he’ll be like you in the future, and he’ll like to eat coriander when he grows up. In any case, it doesn’t matter if he likes it or not. It’s only one kind of vegetable. Youngest uncle, have a taste of this vegetable meatball. It’s a mix white radish and bean sprouts mixed with fried noodles. It’s very tender and fragrant.
Xu Zhao picked up some and brought it in front of Cui Dingchen’s chopsticks.
Cui Dingchen happily used his chopsticks to take them and tried it.
“How is it?” Xu Zhao asked expectantly.
“Mn, not bad.”
“I chopped up the stuffing, and I mixed the ingredients as well.”
“It’s very good.”
Cui Dingchen picked up three more vegetable meatballs to eat. After finishing them, it wasn’t lunchtime yet. Xu Zhao brought Cui Dingchen and Xu Fan to see the snow in the fields. As he was about to build a snowman for Xu Fan, Mother Xu came over to call them for lunch, saying that since Cui Dingchen was here, they especially made lunch a bit earlier. It was perfect timing since they were resting at noon. In the afternoon, they would still have to make dumplings.
And so, Xu Zhao, Cui Dingchen, and Xu Fan returned to eat. The Xu family was used to it being rowdy while eating and would say whatever they wanted. With Cui Dingchen there, the whole family didn’t say anything. Mother Xu thought the dining table was too lonely. She wanted to liven up the atmosphere, and so asked Cui Dingchen about his family.
Xu Zhao thought Cui Dingchen didn’t like chatting at the table. He never thought that whatever Mother Xu asked, Cui Dingchen would answer. He tried to stop her a few times, and Cui Dingchen always said it was fine. It got to the point where he even told Mother Xu what his monthly income was.
Of course, Mother and Father Xu were so shocked that they couldn’t say anything. Mother Xu finally stopped asking. Xu Zhao was also very shocked. Cui Dingchen was very capable in making money. However, he thought of the popular saying of this era “if you have a car, money will flow.” Since Cui Dingchen had numerous cars, it was normal for him to make a lot of money.
After quietly eating, Xu Zhao remembered that Mother Xu must have been tired today after frying deep-fried noodle cakes and making food. And so, he took the initiative to clear the table and do the dishes. Cui Dingchen followed him and grabbed a rag before heading back to the main hall.
“Youngest uncle, what are you doing?” Xu Zhao asked.
Cui Dingchen replied, “Wiping the tables.”
“No need. I can do it.”
Cui Dingchen walked to the main hall. Not only did he wipe the dining table, he also swept the floor, then took the rag into the kitchen and watched Xu Zhao wash the dishes by the stove. Xu Zhao had been influenced by Mother Xu and liked to chat while he worked. In the past, he would chat with Xu Fan, but now that Cui Dingchen was with him, he chatted with Cui Dingchen.
Cui Dingchen enjoyed this conversation as he stood by Xu Zhao and chatted. As they were talking, the sound of the courtyard door being knocked on could be heard. They thought it was Xu Fan and Da Zhuang playing around since those two were a bit careless, but Mother Xu, who was inside the courtyard, turned her head and found Cui Qingfeng. She laughed as she went to greet him, “Child, the courtyard door is already open, so you could have just walked in. What was the point of knocking?”
Cui Qingfeng smiled and then asked, “Auntie, where’s Xu Zhao?” ”
“Washing dishes in the kitchen.”
Cui Qingfeng said happily, “I’ll go look for him.”
Before Cui Qingfeng headed toward the kitchen, he meticulously fixed his crew cut, pulled on his clothes, and patted his cheeks. He took two large breaths, then strode to the kitchen.
Before reaching the kitchen, Cui Qingfeng couldn’t help but call out. When he walked into the kitchen, he saw Xu Zhao and Cui Dingchen standing side by side in front of the stove.