Hehe … Grinning at Gu Pingsheng’s “lack of experience.” That’s an interesting thing to suggest for the second half of their first date.
Chapter 7.2 – The Person I Like (2)
Near and far, girls and women were all bedecked in fancy dress. People meeting up on this day should all be couples out on a date. Tong Yan suddenly felt a little hesitant.
She did not have a lot of winter clothing and therefore was not able to put together hundreds of different outfits like Shen Yao could. The high heels she was wearing were the ones she had kept in preparation for whenever she had needed to be a gala host … And because she had needed to take her exam, she had not dared put on make-up either.
“Miss, do you have a reservation?” one of the wait staff politely inquired when he saw this girl at the entrance, wavering between whether to enter or not.
She nodded, finally stepping inside.
Only after she had taken a seat did he close the book he was holding. He was accustomed to using his left hand. She suddenly discovered that he was like her and could use both hands, but he was more accustomed to using the left one.
“I’m sorry.” Tong Yan decided that she would first be honest and admit to her wrongdoing. In a very sincere manner, she explained, “Do you remember that night, I told you Shen Yao had fallen for a boy’s voice? That boy is my high school classmate.”
The server came over and handed her the drink menu. Opening it up, she took a glance — all very expensive.
“If I could trouble you to just please bring another teacup, that will be good.” He suddenly stated, “You can serve up the dishes now.”
After the server had left, he looked back at her again, smiled, and said, “Continue what you were saying. It sounds very interesting.”
Interesting … From his tone of voice, he did not really seem angry, and Tong Yan could finally breathe out in relief. “Today was the first time they were actually meeting in person, and Shen Yao asked me to stay with her for a little while longer so it wouldn’t be too awkward.” She smiled embarrassedly. “I’m the type of person that can never refuse a friend. Earlier on … that was actually just because I was keeping Shen Yao company.”
Perhaps it was because, growing up, there were very few relationships she could actually be reliant upon. Consequently, she always seemed to place a strong dependence upon her friends, especially her good friends. As long as a friend made a request of her, regardless of how unreasonable it might be, she instinctively would want to fulfill it. At times, even she could not stand this trait, and she had even read some psychology books for it.
“It’s alright.” He picked up the teacup that was on the server’s tray, set it down in front of her, and poured some tea for her until it filled more than half the cup. “At least, for me, that’s very normal. I never refuse my friends either.”
She gazed at him in surprise. She remembered, the books said that this was a “childhood lack” condition, that most of these cases were a result of lack of familial love and trust during childhood, and hence, the persons would find means to try to gain more love as a way to compensate themselves.
But, why would he have lacked love? With such a background and environment in which he was taught, his childhood years should have been ones in which he was surrounded by people who supported him, like a myriad of stars clustered around the moon.
“Don’t you think it’s a very bad thing?” With her cup held in both her hands, she tentatively asked him this.
“Every person will more or less have some shortcomings in his or her character. For instance, I had once seen a female patient who had an unexplainable dislike for the color red. Every time she saw it, she would become depressed and irritable, and later, it started to seriously affect her life, to the point that, even when she got married, she was opposed to seeing any red. Later on, one of my friends used hypnosis on her and was finally able to find the root cause of this.”
“What was it?” She was truly curious.
“She has a younger brother. When she was only several years old, her mother gave a red scarf to her brother but did not give one to her. In reality, her mother had never shown favouritism, nor had she abused her, but she was simply too young back then and did not understand, so it left an impact on her psychologically.”
“Just for that reason?” A little too fragile, wasn’t that?
“Just for that reason.”
He smiled wordlessly at her. Seeing her gazing at him with eyes that were sparkling, he found this very fun. “If you’re interested, I will go and systematically give you some psychology lessons. Right now,” he said, flicking his eyes to the server who was bringing over their dishes, “we need to eat first.”
He had not ordered many dishes, just enough for two people to eat until full.
Along the way back just now, she had been thinking that the instant she saw him, she would first apologize. And what if he had left already? She would definitely go look for him and give an explanation to him in person. If he gave her a sullen face, then … she would put on a pitiable look. After all, he was so much older than her; he wouldn’t be so petty, right? And plus as a teacher, he should be more tolerant and forgiving.
She had not expected, however, that he would so easily accept her explanation, and morever, he showed no indication at all that he was angry. Biting down lightly on the tip of her chopsticks, Tong Yan watched him as he told her all sorts of funny and amusing things. She remembered the words she had said earlier.
“Someone I like.”
The person I like is sitting here in front of me, eating, and talking to me.
Her heart suddenly seemed to soften, and, without realizing it, even her voice also softened along with it … though he could not hear this change.
Her mobile phone unexpectedly vibrated.
An unfamiliar number, but a familiar tone: I’ll be heading back on a morning flight tomorrow. Tong Tong, I’ll wait for you tonight at your school, ok?
A single text message swiftly chilled away all the little warmth she had been feeling. She clenched her mobile phone in her hand, not knowing remotely how to reply.
Finally, she hardened her heart and pressed the power-off button.
“Where do you want to go to walk around? But it does seem that everywhere is packed with people today.” He suddenly asked her this only after the two of them had strode out of the restaurant and were standing there, in that pedestrian street lined with twinkling trees and brilliant lights.
Having no clue at all what to do, she shook her head.
There, amid a very strong night wind, Gu Pingsheng also seemed as if he did not have any ideas, and with his hands in his pockets, he exhaled a long breath. “Lack of experience. I did not plan any activities ahead of time.” He glanced at the colorfully lit scene of entertainment and pleasure before them. “Would you like to go to a bar?”
When he said this, it so happened that off to his side, there was a gigantic two-storey poster.
It was a poster advertising the latest fashions for this season. The model on it was also a man, and he also was standing with both his hands inside the pockets of his coat. Tong Yan very unabashedly noticed that Gu Pingsheng was even better looking. It was just that, the white paper bag hanging from his arm spoiled the picture somewhat.
As he looked toward her, she abruptly shifted her eyes to avoid his gaze.
But, she soon recalled that, in front of Gu Pingsheng, this action was something that could not be done … Therefore, she could only turn back to face him with crimson cheeks and feign composure as she replied, “Let’s not go to a bar. If we go in now on a holiday like this, we’d definitely be crammed and squished to death.”
And moreover, bars always tended to have program after program of singing performances. Not suitable for him.
He laughed, “You know a lot about bars?”
Tong Yan also blew out a lengthy breath. “The very first time you saw me, I was actually still … very much a girl who had issues.” If she were to divide her life into two periods, it would just so happen to involve him.
Before she met him and after she met him.
A weight was suddenly felt on her head. He had reached over and gently patted her head. “I was not a rule-abiding person before, either, and the stuff I did definitely would have caused more headaches for people than what you might have done.” He helped her pull her scarf up higher so that it covered more than half her face. “How about I take you to a church to hear Mass? Pingfan is over at St. Ignatius Cathedral. It starts at 11:30, so if we cannot catch a cab now, we can still take our time and wait.”
Hear Mass? She did not really understand what this was.
But “cathedral” and stuff like that should mean that it was some sort of Christmas activity put on by a church. Somewhat embarrassedly, she pulled down her scarf so that her mouth was showing. “I’m an atheist.”
“So am I.” He was not surprised in the least. “To believe or not is a personal choice. We only need to respect them, and then that’ll be fine.”
Perhaps God really was looking after them, for in such a bustling, lively place, they were still able to wave down a taxi.
When they arrived outside St. Ignatius Cathedral, Pingfan was there, her arms wrapped around herself and so cold that her breath could be seen. Seeing them, she hurried over and with a smile, gave Tong Yan a hug. “So happy you guys came.” Laughing, she whispered into Tong Yan’s ear, “TK grew up going to Catholic school, but to date, he’s still an atheist. When I got his message just now, I thought I must have read wrong.”
After saying this, she slipped her arm through Tong Yan’s and, while lining up along with the crowd, explained to her in a low voice what Midnight High Mass was.
The entire High Mass took nearly two hours. Gu Pingfan needed to stay to attend the Christmas Mass at dawn, so only the two of them, side by side, walked out of the cathedral.
It was past one o’clock in the morning, but this downtown street was still thronged with lines of vehicles and crowds of people everywhere.
Next to the cathedral were many commercial office buildings. In this midnight hour, the lights in the shopping malls were all turned out, and when they walked by the display windows, they could see their own reflections in them.
“Merry Christmas.” He stopped and handed the white paper bag to her.
She had speculated what might be inside and had even prayed that it would not be a gift for her because she had not prepared anything to give to him …
After she stepped out from where she had been with Shen Yao, there had been a brief instant where she had thought about getting him something. At the time, however, she was too rushed, and it had merely been an idea that flashed through her mind.
She had only anxiously hurried back in the direction she had come, worried that he might leave.
She hesitated for a moment but still reached her hand out to take it from him. “Thank you. Merry Christmas.”
Stretching his arm forward, he placed his hand on top of her head and gently gave it a rub. “It’s really late. I’ll take you back to the school.” After he said this, he started to survey the several intersections near the pedestrian bridge, searching for a spot that would be easier to catch a taxi.
Tong Yan suddenly remembered Lu Bei’s text message, and immediately, she tugged on his arm. When she saw him turn back toward her, she said, “The doors of the dorm are locked at midnight. Would it be okay if tonight … I don’t go back?”
In actual fact, she only needed to knock and then she would be let in. But based on Lu Bei’s personality, it was certain that he would wait the entire night at the university for her. If she did not want this entanglement with him to continue, she had no choice but to harden her heart, to force herself to be completely callous and not allow his wait for her to come to fruition.
Surrounded by the noise of vehicles coming and going, he very quickly made a decision. “Let’s see if there is a cinema nearby that is open all night. If there is, we’ll watch movies until tomorrow morning. You can go to my home to rest for the entire day and then go back to the university in the evening.”
When he finished this, he very naturally completed two actions.
He took the paper bag from her. And, he took her hand in his.
 徐家汇天主堂. St. Ignatius Cathedral (also known as Xujiahui Cathedral) is located in Shanghai’s Xujiahui area, one of the main commerce centres of the city. The current building, built by French Jesuits, dates to 1910, although the church itself has a much longer history.
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21 of 66 Main story segments
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