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The moment he saw Cui Dingchen, Cui Qingfeng’s mind went blank. Then a “boom” sounded. Countless thoughts exploded in his brain. Over that past month, he countlessly told himself not to overthink. His youngest uncle didn’t think of Xu Zhao like that. But…But he now saw his youngest uncle with his own eyes. He saw his youngest uncle staring at Xu Zhao with eyes full of affection. I-it was real.
It was real!
Cui Qingfeng’s entire body was shocked and lifeless.
Cui Dingchen discovered that Cui Qingfeng was acting abnormally.
Xu Zhao didn’t notice as he smiled and looked over. “Qingfeng.”
Cui Qingfeng’s stunned gaze turned to Xu Zhao.
Xu Zhao continued to smile. “Qingfeng, what are you doing here?”
Cui Qingfeng’s expression was unnatural. “I-I came to—”
Cui Qingfeng couldn’t say what he had come to do anymore.
Xu Zhao curiously asked, “What’s wrong?”
Cui Qingfeng’s expression turned ugly. His eyes went from Xu Zhao’s body and slowly lowered to the flat ground. He was silent, his heart slowly filling with ice water and spreading throughout his whole body. Confusion swirled in his brain with a single thought—Youngest uncle liked Xu Zhao. Youngest uncle also liked Xu Zhao.
At this time, Xu Zhao was even more confused. He couldn’t help but turn to Cui Dingchen, who was beside him.
Cui Dingchen said, “He came to find me.”
Xu Zhao asked, “To find you? Did something happen?”
Cui Dingchen’s face was slightly tense, and his voice was a little lower than before, saying: “It should be, I will go first.” ”
“Now?” Xu Zhao asked.
“Mn, see you later.”
Once Cui Dingchen finished speaking, he walked to Cui Qingfeng’s side and pulled Cui Qingfeng’s arm out of the kitchen without another word. Walking out of the courtyard and out of South Bay Village, they arrived at the snow covered dirt road before stopping.
“Let’s go home,” Cui Dingchen said.
Cui Qingfeng didn’t respond but silently followed behind Cui Dingchen.
Cui Dingchen looked forward, frowning slightly as if he was thinking of something. A short moment later, it was like he had figured it out, and his brows slowly smoothed out.
Cui Qingfeng followed from behind, watching Cui Dingchen’s footprints. They kept walking and after walking for about 20 minutes, he slowly lifted his head and called, “Youngest uncle.”
Cui Dingchen stopped and glanced at Cui Qingfeng.
Cui Qingfeng looked back at Cui Dingchen and asked, “Do you—”
“Yes,” Cui Dingchen firmly answered.
Cui Qingfeng was shocked.
Cui Dingchen looked at Cui Qingfeng’s dark and gloomy gaze.
Cui Qingfeng stared back at Cui Dingchen and asked, “Then what about Shen Jiayang?”
Cui Dingchen answered, “He’s a thing of the past.”
“Is he really a thing of the past?”
“And Xu Zhao and the others don’t mind?”
Cui Dingchen pondered for a moment before saying, “They don’t.”
Cui Qingfeng raised his voice, “Sanwa is Xu Zhao’s child with a different man!”
Cui Dingchen was silent.
Cui Qingfeng continued to ask, “Do you like children? Do you like Sanwa? Don’t you find him hard to accept when you see him?”
Cui Dingchen replied, “I’m trying to like him.”
“You’re trying?” Cui Qingfeng’s eyes suddenly reddened as he said, “Youngest uncle. Xu Zhao is my classmate. He’s not the same as Shen Jiayang and the others. You don’t like children, and you don’t like Sanwa. I like them. Can you not try to push your way into this? I like Xu Zhao. I also like Xu Zhao!”
Cui Dingchen’s voice was very loud and caused the snowflakes on the tree branches to fall down. He glared at Cui Dingchen with his eyes brimming in red like a child who wanted to eat candy. Cui Dingchen also expressionlessly stared back at Cui Qingfeng until Cui Qingfeng sadly crouched on the ground, sobbing. Cui Dingchen also crouched down and said, “You can like Xu Zhao and can use your way to like and chase him.”
Cui Qingfeng froze and glanced up at Cui Dingchen.
Cui Dingchen continued, “I like him, but that doesn’t prevent you from liking him. The most important question is who he likes.”
Cui Qingfeng stared back at Cui Dingchen.
Cui Dingchen said in a flat tone, “I told you when you were young that if you want something, you need to fight for it. Of course it’s good if you succeed, but if you fail, you cannot blame others and absolutely cannot become pessimistic. I know that right now you feel wronged and are struggling, and may even resent or hate me but that’s fine. You can feel like that.
“But don’t try to force me to back down by hurting yourself. You know I won’t back down. You’re already an adult. You can decide if you want to back down or advance forward. You will take responsibility for your own ending. Lastely, I’m your youngest uncle, and I always will be. As long as you really need it, I will always be here.”
After saying this, Cui Dingchen stood up and looked down toward Cui Qingfeng before turning to head toward the County town. The crunch of the snow being stepped on got further and further away before Cui Qingfeng finally lifted his head. He watched Cui Dingchen’s back as he cried. His cries sounded especially heart broken. This was the first time he felt this heart broken in his life. He couldn’t help but call out Xu Zhao’s name a few times.
At this time, Xu Zhao had already finished cleaning up the kitchen. He came out from the kitchen and didn’t see Xu Fan, or Mother and Father Xu. He asked Da Zhuang’s mother and found that they had gone to visit others and play games.
Anyway, it was the new year. Everyone should have fun together.
Xu Zhao didn’t go to look for Xu Fan and the others. Instead, he turned and entered the bedroom in the west wing to take an afternoon nap. Once he woke from his nap, Xu Fan had followed Mother Xu back home. However, he had come home crying. After asking, he learned that Xu Fan had fought with someone. He won, but his little shoes got dirty and sloshed with water, so he cried.
“Acting tough now!” Xu Zhao grabbed the towel and rubbed Xu Fan’s face.
Xu Fan stopped crying and said, “Rub fragrance.”
“I’ll rub myself.”
Xu Fan ran to the west wing by himself. His small meaty hand grabbed the edge of the table. He stood on his tip toes as he felt around for the children’s cream. Once he felt it, he immediately giggled. He learned from Xu Zhao and squeezed out some children’s cream onto his small meaty hands, then padded to the mirror on the three door wardrobe and looked in the mirror as he rubbed on the fragrance.
He happily said, “Ah, I’m so fragrant.”
Xu Zhao: “…”
He really was obsessed with himself. Xu Zhao said a sentence, “I’m going to wrap dumplings with your grandma.” He then turned to enter the kitchen. Mother Xu was already mixing pork and celery stuffing inside the kitchen. Seeing that Xu Zhao had come to help, she felt happy and her chatterbox tendencies began. She would speak of so-and-so’s family being tall and so-and-so’s family being short and then turned to the topic of installing electricity in the village.
Xu Zhao asked with doubt, “They’re installing electricity in the village?”
Mother Xu replied. “They wanted to do it a long time ago. Look at the people of South Sun Village. Most of them have already installed a telephone. It’s just that our village is too poor so we haven’t been able to yet. The village chief just said that after the new year, the higher ups would bring a telephone pole over. When the time comes, we can give money to have them install it.”
“How much would it cost?”
“Don’t know yet. Oh, right. Speaking of South Sun Village…” Mother Xu glanced at Xu Zhao and said, “Da Zhuang’s grandma just said something.”
“What did she say?” Xu Zhao asked.
Mother Xu happily said, “She said that that guy would start work on the 8th. Therefore, she arranged to have you two meet on the 6th. What do you think?”
Xu Zhao thought about it. The garlic heads inside the big greenhouse probably couldn’t be harvested and sold until the 10th, so he wouldn’t be busy on the 6th. Moreover, since the person didn’t detest him for having Xu Fan. He should just try it out. And so, he said, “Okay.”
Mother Xu was immediately happy and said, “Good, good, good. I’ll tell Da Zhuang’s grandma later. Da Zhuang’s grandma said that that person was very handsome.”
“Mn. It’s fine as long as he treats Xu Fan.”
“You can’t just say that. You must be attracted to them at least.”
“Me?” Xu Zhao thought about it. In fact, he wasn’t someone who had specific requirements. It could be due to the environment that he grew up in, but he had low expectations for everything. He was fine with anything, and that included relationships. As long as he was kind and treated Xu Fan well, he was fine with it. Emotions could be cultivated with time. However, since Mother Xu said this, he nodded his head and said, “Okay.”
“That’s good. I already prepped the dough. I’ll roll the skin and you can stuff the dumplings.”
“Okay.” Xu Zhao nodded.
The mother and son wrapped over a hundred dumplings. They sprinkled flour on it, then placed it on the gauze and used the snow to freeze it until they would eat it on the 30th. South Bay Village had a custom to eat dumplings on the night of the 30th. They would also eat dumplings on the morning of the 1st. This signified that the end and beginning of the year would have auspicious reunions.
However, Xu Fan was too hungry. Therefore, they cooked some dumplings that night. The entire family gathered around the cutting board to eat. As they were eating, someone from the village came by to deliver stir fried corn kernels and stir fried peas for Xu Zhao and Xu Fan. Xu Zhao and Mother Xu enthusiastically greeted them. After speaking for a bit, they found that this person wanted to work for Xu Zhao.
He said that da Zhuang’s father had made money and also knew that the three men who helped Xu Zhao last time had also earned money. Therefore, he came by to specially recommend himself.
After hearing this, Mother Xu’s expression turned dark.
Xu Zhao hesitated for a moment before agreeing. The man left happily.
Mother Xu looked at Xu Zhao and asked, “How much would it cost to hire someone?”
Xu Zhao smiled and said, “Mom, it’s fine. It’s fine. I’ve allocated it.”
“Allocated enough money to make a profit.”
“Hiring people is very expensive.”
“I know, I know. Let’s not talk about this during the new year. Let’s eat dumplings. We can discuss this again after the new year.”
Mother Xu finally stopped mentioning this topic.
Xu Zhao returned to his seat and picked up his chopsticks. As he continued eating dumplings, he saw Xu Fan’s small meaty hands holding a plump white dumpling. He took a bite, then dipped it in the vinegar and shoved it into his mouth. His small mouth was covered in oil as he happily ate.
However, why was he using his hands again?
“Xu Fan!” Xu Zhao called.
Xu Fan looked at Xu Zhao as he took another bite of the dumpling. He munched twice before finally saying, “T-the chopsticks and spoons fell. I-I was hungry so I-I used my hands. Hmm, the dumplings are so delicious.”
“If the chopsticks and spoon fell, can’t you pick it back up?”
“Let Grandpa wash it for you.”
Xu Fan immediately replied, “Grandpa, don’t wash it.”
“I think you just don’t want to use the chopsticks.” Xu Zhao bent down to pick the chopsticks and spoon from the ground and washed them. He heard Xu Fan behind him. His small mouth muttering nonstop that using chopsticks and spoon was tiring and he wouldn’t be able to eat his fill. He also said that the dumplings weren’t obedient and would always run away. Only when he used his hands was he able to catch them. Regardless of what Xu Fan said, Xu Zhao still made Xu Fan use the spoon.
After eating the meal, it started snowing again, and it snowed all the way until the next morning. It was finally the 30th. Before each meal came the sound of firecrackers, especially on the night of the 30th. Although it was cold, the village was full of joy. Da Zhuang’s entire family happily came to Xu Zhao’s house to listen to the Spring Festival Gala on the radio. Xu Fan and Da Zhuang were ecstatic.
Xu Zhao suddenly thought of the Cui family. He went to the west wing and dialed the Cui residence’s phone.
My heart is breaking for Cui Qingfeng ( ╥ω╥ )