So, I gather you were all shouting, “Finally!” last post. :p Can it get any sweeter?
Chapter 11.3 – Your First Adornment was Like You (3)
When she awoke, she could feel him gently stroking her back.
There was no lust in his action. It was similar to holding a cat in your arms, as you cooed and stroked it instinctively. Shi Yi opened her eyes but then quietly closed them again.
Zhousheng Chen, I love you.
She felt that it could not have only been in their previous life or even two lifetimes ago that they had been entangled together, but that every lifetime, every incarnation, their lives had been interwoven together.
So, when had it been? And what other things would happen?
Life after life, entrusted to one another.
Yes, that was it. Life after life, entrusted to one another.
The thoughts drifted languidly in her mind, and after a little while, her lips turned up into a noiseless laugh.
Zhousheng Chen detected her movement and, in a low voice, asked, “You’re awake?”
“Let’s stay here tonight. Tomorrow, we will return to Shanghai, alright?”
“After… there will be a long period of time that I need to stay in Zhenjiang.”
“You’re going back there to stay?”
“Yes, back there to stay.”
Shi Yi pondered for a moment. “How about I resign and go back with you?”
Zhousheng Chen did not answer her immediately. He seemed to be weighing out the options. She supposed, Zhousheng Chen’s concern was likely regarding his family, but she did not want to continue to be separated from him now that he was back in the country.
“It is better if you remain in Shanghai. Zhenjiang is not far. I can come back every other day. Or, on the weekends, you can go stay with me in Zhenjiang for two days,” he suggested.
Shi Yi did not argue any further. “Alright. If you are coming back every other day, then let’s stay in my home. Your place is too big. If you’re not there, I won’t really be used to living there by myself.”
She thought to herself, the decisions he made would, without a doubt, be the best for both of them.
When evening came, they left the hotel to go for dinner.
Zhousheng Chen was not as particular as Xiao Ren and had not made any deliberate arrangements regarding meals, suggesting simply that they find a nearby place to grab something to eat. Shi Yi immediately felt much relieved. It seemed, apart from when he was in Zhenjiang with his family, the Zhousheng Chen she was familiar with had all along maintained his own lifestyle.
It was simple, but he was not indifferent about it.
His attire was neat, proper, and fitting, and personal belongings were minimal. He did not enjoy social engagements and, even more so, did not like using things that wasted time, such as mobile phones. At fixed times, in fixed places, he would carry out regular activities. Eating and drinking were viewed as necessities in life. As for other things… Holding his arm, Shi Yi tried hard for a while to think of more, but then laughed.
Zhousheng Chen looked down at her.
She explained to him, “I was thinking about what you have in common with other men, but I couldn’t think of very many things. For instance, you watch useless television dramas, too, but to be able to watch ‘A Step Into the Past’ seventy-nine times… That’s just…”
He chuckled, “It’s true. I watch it when I want to pass the time. I don’t want to waste time to look for another drama to watch, so I will simply rewatch that one. It is quite amusing in itself to be able to watch one scene and then instantly be able to to conjure up in your mind the next scene and its dialogue.”
Giggling, she hugged his arm tightly like a little child.
Shi Yi called Hong Xiaoyu and arranged to meet up with her for dinner.
They went to a small restaurant first, and after chatting casually for a short while, Hong Xiaoyu and Du Feng arrived. These sorts of small eateries in scenic watertowns all served common fare that local people would eat or else some specialty foods, so aside from a few dishes, there was nothing that stood out.
A dish of red-braised mutton was served. Zhousheng Chen was about to bring his chopsticks to it, but Shi Yi advised him quietly that lamb meat should be avoided during the summer because consuming it would cause excessive internal heat, etc, etc. Nodding, Zhousheng Chen switched to eat some Lake Tai whitefish instead, and sure enough, he did not touch the lamb anymore.
Seeing this, Hong Xiaoyu gave a dramatic sigh. “You know, when I was ordering, you didn’t say anything. Here I am, wanting to eat it, and you’re telling your hubby not to, saying stuff like you’re worried about excessive internal heat… It’s so true that ‘a daughter married off is like spilled water.’ You don’t have eyes for me anymore.”
Shi Yi laughed, “Anywhere you travel to, you’ll want to eat the specialty dishes there. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to convince you otherwise, so I didn’t bother wasting my breath.”
Once two women who had known each other since childhood started to squabble, they would have an endless amount to say.
Neither was able to win in the battle of words, but to the two men beside them, who were strangers to each other, they were very entertaining.
Du Feng poured out some liquor and slid a glass over to Zhousheng Chen.
With a smile, he declined gracefully, “I’m sorry, but I do not drink.”
Du Feng did not seem to be concerned. “Just as a gesture. Just one sip.”
Hong Xiaoyu also urged him disapprovingly, “When men meet, it’s a must that they drink at least a little bit.”
After contemplating briefly, Zhousheng Chen picked up the glass, but Shi Yi immediately snatched it from his hand.
She threw a glance at Hong Xiaoyu. “Don’t you go forcing him to drink.”
“Huh? How did I force him?” Hong Xiaoyu did not know whether to laugh or cry. “I only tried to persuade him with one sentence. Just one sentence, missy.”
Shi Yi picked up the glass, brought it to her nose, and sniffed. “The alcohol content in this isn’t that low.”
The meaning behind her words was very obvious. Nearly infuriated to death by her protectiveness over Zhousheng Chen, Hong Xiaoyu lightly rapped her glass with her chopsticks. “You’re too much –– “
Du Feng laughed, “How about this? We’ll let your husband off the hook, but ––“
Worried that they would say something else that would put Zhousheng Chen in a difficult position, Shi Yi did not even wait for Du Feng to finish what he was saying and took a large swig of the alcohol.
No one had expected this, and so, no one had tried to stop her.
When she set the glass back down, she stated, “Alright, I drank it for him. You guys aren’t allowed to make any more demands.”
Hong Xiaoyu knew that she, too, did not drink at all. Seeing that Shi Yi was being so serious about the matter, she did not dare continue. Hastily, she rubbed a hand over her heart and declared, “This is what you call true love, ah. Compared to you, I don’t even come close.”
Shi Yi smiled, “It was your first time seeing him. It’s okay.”
She knew the way she was defending Zhousheng Chen was a little overprotective and had not left much face for her friend.
But she simply could not watch him have to suffer even the tiniest bit through anything. Even if it was just a small furrowing of his brows or slight hesitation in something, she did not want to see it.
Shi Yi now reached to drink some tea, trying to suppress that uncomfortable taste of alcohol.
Something warm came and covered her hand that had been resting on the edge of her chair. Zhousheng Chen held that hand in his own as she turned her head to look at him. She could feel he was enveloping her hand into his palm.
He was not someone who could comfortably display his private feelings in front of outsiders.
As a result, Shi Yi merely smiled at him to indicate that he did not need to say anything, that she understood. What he wanted to say, she knew already.
He blamed her somewhat but also blamed himself. He was upset she had suddenly consumed the liquor and he had not been fast enough to stop her from doing it. Now, the look in his eyes was rather stern. Shi Yi lowered her head and smiled before turning away so that she was no longer looking at him. Out of the blue, she wondered, if something went wrong in the laboratory, would Zhousheng Chen have this same expression on his face?
Shi Yi truly did not have even the slightest alcohol tolerance.
When they left the small building where their restaurant had been, her face was already slightly red, and she could not seem to reign in her smiling expression. So this was the reason why people liked to have a few drinks during happy occasions?
She brought him to listen to pingtan. Because the contest staff, participants, and media had already left that afternoon, there were only a few random visitors who were being hosted and entertained for various reasons for free by the officials of the scenic district.
On the stage, pingtan rang out while down below, there were row after row of benches that were basically empty.
They were sitting in the northwest corner of the theatre. In the beginning, she had simply leaned herself against his shoulder, but later, using the little bit of tipsiness caused by the alcohol as justification, she slowly slid down until she was lying on his thighs. She lay there like this, her head tilted to gaze up at him. She would never tire of looking at him.
Her eyes were fixated on Zhousheng Chen for quite some time, and so, he eventually placed his arms on the back of the bench in front of him. Resting his forehead on his arms, he looked down at her.
Or rather it could be said, he allowed her to look up at him even more freely and to her heart’s content.
He was wearing a plain black polo shirt. His face had been shaved clean. Very clean.
Perhaps because he spent all of his time in a laboratory and everything he came in contact with or did had only to do with research, he did not look at all like a man who was nearing thirty years old. At most, he looked like a graduate student in his twenties.
Shi Yi reached up with her hand and rubbed his chin. “This morning, there was still some… um, newly grown stubble.”
Zhousheng Chen smiled at her. “Did it scratch you this morning?”
His voice was very mild as he asked this, but her mind sprang to other images. The flush in her cheeks deepened, and she mumbled, “I’m not going to talk to you about that.”
The alcohol’s influence amplified all the emotions that were rolling like waves in her heart.
Her hand stroked his cheek as she said quietly, “I remember, there is one book that has a really well-written line in it.”
“What is it?”
“ ‘All my life I longed to be kept carefully by someone, to be safely placed, to be tenderly looked after. To protect me from fear, to protect me from suffering, to protect me from being lost, to protect me from being alone and helpless.’ ”
He gave an “mm.” He could generally understand this sort of “little woman” mentality [vulnerable and to be protected], although he did not agree with it.
However, in this very moment, he felt that this Shi Yi, with her head resting on his thighs while she lay on the bench, was very befitting of this sort of care.
Staring up at him, she burst out in laughter. “You definitely have the wrong idea. Zhousheng Chen, you’ve misunderstood what I meant.”
“Have I?” he smiled.
“What I am thinking is, when you have finished all that you want to do, you only need everyday to go do your research on your planet, Venus. The rest, you can leave to me. I will cook and make tea for you and tenderly take care of you. I will keep you from weariness, keep you from suffering, keep you from needing to constantly be on the move, keep you from being alone, without anyone to trust and lean upon.”
Her eyes sparkled, envisioning this as she gazed up at him like she was looking at her most cherished treasure.
He was her most cherished treasure.
Zhousheng Chen returned her gaze, and for a moment, there was only silence.
An instant later, he touched her cheek with the back of his hand. “Your face is very red.”
“Really?” Shi Yi’s hands immediately flew up to cover her cheeks, and she could feel their slight heat. “I can’t drink. The slightest bit and I’ll be tipsy ––“
“But, that red in your cheeks is very pretty.”
Shi Yi stared disbelievingly at him.
He smiled. “It’s true.”
As a result, perhaps, of the stimulus effects of the alcohol, she was having great difficulty controlling her emotions. She felt her nose tingle and tears were on the verge of flowing. Hurriedly turning onto her side, she wrapped her arms around his waist and buried her head into one of his thighs.
“What’s wrong?” she heard Zhousheng Chen’s voice ask her.
“I’m a little dizzy…” Her voice was muffled.
“If you are not feeling well, we could go back to the room?”
“No… Just let me hold you for a little bit and I’ll be better. If we start walking now, I’ll feel even more dizzy.”
Her cheek laid against the material of his trousers as she answered him in a soft voice. Her eyes were moist, but her heart was indescribably happy.
Zhousheng Chen did not seem to notice the change in her. Gently, he patted her back, like he was trying to coax her to sleep.
The pingtan song had reached its end, and the entire theatre was very quiet. On the stage, the cast members seemed to be taking in the small number of people in the audience and were discussing whether they should end the show earlier. However, the things taking place up there had long since ceased to have anything to do with what was happening down here.
 红烧羊肉“hong shao yang rou.” Red-braised mutton is a dish with an Islamic (Hui people) influence and has a long history. 红烧 “red-cooking,” “red-braised,” or “braised in brown sauce” cooking is a technique where the meat is panfried and then stewed in soy sauce that is flavored heavily with seasoning. The meat comes out tender and takes on a distinctive red-brown color.
 As a recap, in traditional Chinese medicine, there are six external “evils” (also called pernicious influences) that can penetrate into the body and result in illness: wind, cold, damp, heat (also called fire), summer heat, and dryness. Shi Yi is referring to the heat/fire evil, when the internal heat/fire has been thrown off balance and too much internal heat can cause damage.
 白水鱼 “bai shui yu.” Literally, this translates as white, water fish. It also has the name 太湖白鱼 “Lake Tai whitefish”, which I have chosen to use in the translation. This slim, flat fish is found mainly in Lake Tai (or Lake Taihu), which is located ~60 km away from Wuzhen, and is known for its delicate meat. It is considered a rare species of the lake and also a relatively precious freshwater fish. The fish is often steamed with ginger and served with scallions and hot oil poured over it.
 嫁出去的女泼出去的水. Like water that has been spilled or tossed and cannot be put back into its original vessel, a married daughter no longer belongs to the parents or family. Here, Hong Xiaoyu is using the idiom to say, Shi Yi’s heart now belongs only to her husband and not to her good friend anymore.
 This is a line from the novel, 时有女子 “The Times Have Women” by 匡匡. I have seen it quoted in several novels now. The translation of this particular line from the novel was actually done by decembi over on her blog when she reviewed “Love Can Do Miracles”, which also quotes this line.
 小女人 “xiao nü ren.” Literally, this means “little woman.” There really is no English equivalent to this, but it is generally describing a lady-like woman that is docile, gentle, and vulnerable such that she evokes the protective nature of men.
First off, a big shout out to decembi, who generously allowed me to use her translation of that one particular line. Why reinvent the wheel when it’s already been done so masterfully? Thank you, decembi! For those of you who don’t know her yet, you must check out her blog, which contains amazing translations and original fiction. 🙂
Like I said before, I love the entire chapter 11 for all the sweet OTP moments, but this last image really seems the most romantic to me. Shi Yi is lying on the bench, her head resting on his thighs, as Zhousheng Chen leans over, places his arms across the back of the bench in front of them, and leans forward to look down at her. His arms, face, and body have created a protective canopy over this “little woman” of his. I’m not saying Shi Yi is the demure, vulnerable type but that she invokes in Zhousheng Chen the desire to protect her as if she was one, despite not agreeing with that mentality. I am loving how his body is physically doing already what he is thinking.
But then, for Shi Yi to turn it around and tell him, no, that line is not what she wants for herself, it is what she desires for him — to keep him like a most cherished treasure. Zhousheng Chen is very astute and I don’t believe he is very often wrong in reading people’s intentions, so even though the author doesn’t explicitly describe his thoughts when he heard this, I imagine it must have rocked him pretty hard. ❤ I love this couple!
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