Thanks for hanging out with me for the last several months. Peanuts is back, so I’ll be handing Proud back over into her capable hands. As of next week, she will be doing the updates for this translation.
It’s time for He Zhi Zhou and his sidekick to perform. Think he can successfully win over everyone in the Shen family?
Chapter 11.1 — A Sweet Burden (1)
The sun was very fierce. Shen Xi had squatted herself down until she looked like a little mushroom, but why wasn’t He Zhi Zhou here to pick her? Even the young security officer could not bear to watch her and invited her inside to enjoy some air conditioning. “Miss Shen, it’s nice and cool in here.”
Shen Xi turned and took a glance. If she went inside to take in some air conditioning now, that would mean the first half an hour would have just been a waste. She had originally chosen to wait in the sun because she wanted to put on a good show of sincerity. What if she just stepped into the air-conditioned room and then He Zhi Zhou arrived? Wouldn’t that be a big loss to her?
With such a thought, she resolutely declined that young security officer’s kindness. “No, thank you. But thanks for offering.”
Fine. The young security officer did not continue to insist. Cutting up a watermelon, he ate some while watching that little mushroom. Shen Xi’s head turned in his direction. The chilled watermelon stole all her resolve. Was it too late if she changed her mind now?
As she lowered her head, a text message came into her phone. It was from He Zhi Zhou!
That person who’s holding an umbrella beside the flame tree, is that you?<>Please support the original translation of this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
What did that mean? It had only been two days since they saw each other and he was already unable to recognize his girlfriend? Shen Xi furiously lifted her head and spun around, but she could not see where He Zhi Zhou was.
He Zhi Zhou was already walking over from the main road, bringing his younger male cousin, Zhong Yu, with him. Vehicles from S City were not able to enter the compound and could only park outside in a parking lot that required payment. There were still another two hundred metres or so in between. Zhong Yu had already grown impatient with all the walking, and constantly, he griped by He Zhi Zhou’s ear, “Last time you forced me to do that task, and now this time you’ve brought me here. My dad and mom have already agreed to give me money and let me go on a trip to Europe. What does it have to do with me that you’re going to see your mother-in-law?”
He Zhi Zhou merely flicked a glance in his direction. Zhong Yu curbed himself a tiny bit, then snapped irately, “I’m hot!”
He Zhi Zhou: “If you’re hot, move faster.”
Feeling this was unjust, Zhong Yu raised the gift boxes and large watermelon that he was holding. “Why am I the one carrying these presents? It’s not like we’re going to my girlfriend’s house right now.”
He Zhi Zhou swept his eyes over the things his cousin was holding. Indeed, his cousin was carrying more than him. He threw out a sentence in comfort. “You just reminded me. When we get to the door, give them back to me.”
Zhong Yu: “You have no shame!”<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
He Zhi Zhou: “If you’re not willing to do this, then head back to S City. And then you better puke back up whatever you take with you.”
Zhong Yu did not want to do that, and immediately, he transformed into a happy, little serving boy who was blazing a trail open for him. “Cousin, I see your girlfriend. It’s that little mushroom up front, right?”
Unhurriedly, Shen Xi stood back up and looked up ahead toward He Zhi Zhou and Zhong Yu, who were walking in her direction. Both were carrying a variety of gifts, and aside from those gift boxes, there was even a big watermelon in Zhong Yu’s hand.
Sob, sob. How did they know she wanted to eat some watermelon?<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, this translation was taken without consent of the translator.
Shen Xi took a few steps forward. They were coming from the other side of the road and had walked straight toward her. Zhong Yu was leading the way in front and He Zhi Zhou was following him. Up front, Zhong Yu’s chin was lifted high, and when he reached her, he even gracefully tossed out a “Hello!”
Shen Xi was very happy she could see little cousin Yu Ting and beaming, she greeted him, “Yu Ting, long time no see.”
“It’s not Yu Ting [name of a morning after pill/emergency contraception in China]! It’s ‘zhong ling yu xiu’ [钟灵毓秀 a place that contains a spiritual aura and produces men of talent].” Zhong Yu instantly erupted. So tired. He didn’t want this job anymore.
He Zhi Zhou freed up an arm and set it on Shen Xi’s shoulder. “Don’t pick on him anymore. I’m scared he’s going to secretly try to get revenge later.”
“All right, all right. I know it’s the ‘yu’ in ‘zhong ling yu xiu.’ Yu Ting just feels nearer and dearer, that’s all… Zhong Yu, are you hot?” Shen Xi took the initiative to express her goodwill and also helped by taking the watermelon from him.
Zhong Yu was still naturally a shy youth, and now, carrying a bunch of stuff in his arms, he walked ahead of them while saying, “So hot I’m dying, I’m dying. Walk faster, guys.”<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, this translation was taken without consent of the translator.
The greenery inside the Court Bay Villas compound was quite well done. All along the way, there were trees to provide shade and also act as a shield from the sun. Closing her parasol, Shen Xi said sighingly to He Zhi Zhou, “Big Brother He, I’m a little nervous.”
Calmly, He Zhi Zhou answered, “Shouldn’t the one who is nervous be me?”
Shen Xi: “Then, are you nervous?”<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
No reply came from He Zhi Zhou. It was only when Shen Xi tilted her head up to look at him that she saw him give a light nod, and then he met her gaze. “I’m guessing your dad won’t like me.”
Shen Xi blinked. How did He Zhi Zhou guess that? Puzzled, she inquired, “And you still dared to come?”
He Zhi Zhou: “It’s precisely because of that that I had to come.”
With a radiant smile, Shen Xi tried to take He Zhi Zhou’s hand. He Zhi Zhou, though, was very self-restrained and slipped his hand into his pocket, not letting her hold it.
Shen Xi did not understand, and her eyes grew wide and round. He Zhi Zhou patted her hand. “Don’t act too intimately. It’s not good.”
Shen Xi’s eyes blinked again. It was hard to believe that He Zhi Zhou, the one who was normally all noble and aloof, like the cool breeze or clear moon, was now being so wise about the ways of people and dealing with human nature.
He Zhi Zhou did not want to be so apt in handling worldly ways either, but in such a key time, he was able to sort things out clearly. Apart from coming here to see Shen Xi, this trip to H City was his first time visiting Shen Xi’s family as her boyfriend. First impressions were very important, and he had taken a hit there already.
Okay. She understood, and she would support him.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, this translation was taken without consent of the translator.
Shen Xi led He Zhi Zhou and Zhong Yu to the front door of her home and then rang the doorbell. A long time passed, but the door still did not open. They did not know, however, that inside, Grandpa Shen and Xiao Yue had been standing by the door for a long time already, staring at the screen of the videophone. Grandpa Shen recognized He Zhi Zhou. Pointing at the other boy, the youth who was poking his head out and looking around, he asked, “Who’s that?”
Xiao Yue could not handle how Grandpa Shen was dilly-dallying. “Could you please go inside first? You’ll find out once I open the door, right?”
Nodding, Grandpa Shen hurried over to the sofa, sat down, picked up a newspaper, and began reading it.
Outside, Shen Xi was growing impatient from waiting and pressed the doorbell again. “Xiao Yue! Xiao Yue! Xiao Yue!”
Xiao Yue finally opened the door slowly, and as she did, she explained, “Hee hee hee hee hee. I was baking bread in the kitchen just now.”
Shen Xi did not believe Xiao Yue’s words at all. Leading He Zhi Zhou into her home, she introduced him to Xiao Yue first and then rather awkwardly pointed inside. “Big Brother He, this is my home.”
He Zhi Zhou provided affirmation. “It looks very nice.”
Shen Xi grew embarrassed.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
“Hurry in, hurry in. It’s really hot outside.” Wu Ling came out at this planned moment.
Shen Xi: “That’s my mom.”<>This is an UNAUTHORIzED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
He Zhi Zhou: “Auntie, how are you?”
“Good, good, good.”<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
Zhong Yu, carrying all the items, also stepped inside. Hastily taking them from him, Wu Ling smilingly chastised, “Oh, you boys, really. It’s good enough already that you came. Why did you bring so many things over?”
“They’re all just little things,” He Zhi Zhou responded.
Zhong Yu stood beside He Zhi Zhou. Only a second ago, he had been displaying his unchecked, haughty manner, but the instant he stepped into the house, he had become a good boy. Flatteringly, he said to Wu Ling, “Auntie, you’re so young. Big Sister Xi Xi looks like you.”
Wu Ling was beaming so widely her lips would not even come together. “How could I possibly be young? I’m an old lady already.”
Zhong Yu was honey-tongued. “You’re too humble. If Xi Xi had not told us earlier already, I would have thought you are her older sister.”
He Zhi Zhou glanced at Zhong Yu. He had indeed brought the right person. He first introduced himself, then Zhong Yu. “Auntie, I’m He Zhi Zhou. This is my younger cousin, Zhong Yu.”
Learning from past mistakes, Zhong Yu quickly wagged his hand and clarified, “It’s the ‘yu’ as in ‘zhong ling yu xiu,’ not the ‘yu’ in Yu Ting.”
Grandpa Shen: “……”<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
Xiao Yue only had high school education, but even she knew that the two “yu” were actually the same Chinese character. Therefore, she asked what was puzzling her. “Is there a difference?”
Zhong Yu: “… No.”<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
Shen Jian Guo had had no choice and had to go to work today. However, though he physically was in the office, his heart was still at home. Since noon, he had been continually calling Wu Ling’s phone to have her give him progress reports. In the beginning, Wu Ling would report some things to him, but later, she was so caught up in talking to He Zhi Zhou and Zhong Yu that she forgot.
Poor Shen Jian Guo was still painfully waiting for any news.
Wu Ling for the moment did not openly state the relationship between her daughter and He Zhi Zhou and simply treated this as if her daughter had brought some friends home for a visit. Therefore, their conversations were all about ordinary topics. In the end, though, the more she chatted with him, the more pleased she was, and she wondered which family had raised a child so well.
Midway through, Zhong Yu made a phone call to the guest services desk of a hotel. He wanted to book a room for two nights, tonight and tomorrow night.
Wu Ling hurriedly stopped him. “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Why stay in a hotel? If you don’t mind, just stay here in Auntie’s home.”
Zhong Yu looked over at He Zhi Zhou. The corner of He Zhi Zhou’s lips were turned upward as he turned toward Wu Ling. “Would that be too troublesome for all of you?”
Wu Ling smiled. “What trouble could there be? Treat it like it’s your own home. I’ve already told Xiao Yue to ready a room for you.”<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, this translation was taken without consent of the translator.
Meanwhile, the one whose calls had repeatedly been rejected by Wu Ling and who had not even received a reply to his text messages, Shen Jian Guo, was already in absolutely no mood to continue working. Eventually, he simply skipped work and went home.
Sure enough, the instant he stepped into his house, his speculations were confirmed. He was not certain what tricks “Islet in the River” had used, but his whole family been brought to submission.
Naturally, that night at dinner, He Zhi Zhou and Zhong Yu stayed and ate with them. At the dinner table, Wu Ling lightly nudged Shen Jian Guo’s elbow, asking him in displeasure, “Why do you keep staring at Little He’s hand?”
To see when he’s going to gracefully lift his fingers up into an orchid shape! Shen Jian Guo heart carried such bitterness that could not even be spoken aloud. He was the only one left still standing and fighting now!<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, this translation was taken without consent of the translator.
Wu Ling had only prepared one guest room ahead of time. As He Zhi Zhou had brought a relative along, she planned to tidy up the study after dinner for Zhong Yu to sleep in. Waving his hands, Zhong Yu told her, “I’ll just squeeze together with my cousin. It’ll be fine. We’ve slept together before, when we were kids.”
If that was the case, Wu Ling decided she would not need to go to the extra trouble.
The guest room was opposite the study. He Zhi Zhou had just arrived upstairs when Shen Jian Guo called him into the study.
“Shen Shu Shu,” He Zhi Zhou amiably addressed Shen Jian Guo.
After steeping two cups of tea, Shen Jian Guo took a seat and then immediately fired off his first question. “Just how old is your dad?”
He Zhi Zhou: “My dad married late. He’s fifty-four this year.”
Shen Jian Guo sipped his tea. “And here you had said before that he was younger than me. I’m only fifty-one.”
Only fifty-one… In reality, Shen Jian Guo had also married particularly late. At the time, he was certainly an old, leftover spinster-man, and Shen Xi was also his daughter who came later. Within the dads of all of Shen Xi’s schoolmates, his age would absolutely be considered older. Every time there were parent meetings, he would deliberately try to dress a little younger.
He Zhi Zhou had not known that age was the great pain in Shen Jian Guo’s heart, nor had he expected that back then, Shen Xi would state his father’s age to be so much younger than reality. He could not find an excuse for the moment, either. It was not like he could say he had remembered it incorrectly.
“Don’t tell me your father really cares about this, too.” Shen Jian Guo ended up finding a reason himself.
Pausing in surprise for two seconds, He Zhi Zhou gave a stiff nod. “Yes, he does.”
He’s still pretending! Still pretending!!! Shen Jian Guo stood and cut straight to the chase. “Islet in the River, the last time we saw each other, weren’t you pretty bouncy and bubbly?”
“……”<>Please support the original translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
A pulse was ticking in He Zhi Zhou’s temple, and it was long while before he was able to choke out a reason. “It’s not that. Uncle Shen, last time I was like that because Shen Xi told me you like the lively and animated type, so I…”
Shen Jian Guo was very surprised. “… That’s really the reason?”
He Zhi Zhou nodded.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
Shen Jian Guo: “Then what about your Weibo? Do you deliberately act all cute on it every day to try to attract followers?”
This was easy to clarify. Pulling in a deep inhale, He Zhi Zhou explained, “Shen Xi’s the one who’s managed that Weibo account all along. My actual ID is ‘Lewis.’ ‘Islet in the River’ is just an account for Shen Xi to play a role-playing game.”
Shen Jian Guo could not say anything to that. Just how much tolerance did a man have to have in order to give his own reputation and integrity over to his girlfriend and let deface it for nothing?
Shen Jian Guo went downstairs to confront his daughter about this. Sure enough, the truth was as He Zhi Zhou had said. He jabbed his finger into Shen Xi’s forehead. “Preposterous!”
Before he went back upstairs again, he pulled out his mobile phone and searched up “Lewis.” To his surprise, he discovered that “Lewis” was already following him in Weibo, and furthermore, since their last meeting, “Lewis” would always give him “likes.”
The number of Weibo posts “Lion in the Wind” had made was also the number of likes “Lewis” had given. Moreover, “Lewis” had even forwarded two of his posts that had been his original creations and not just forwards. He and He Zhi Zhou also cheered for the same football [soccer] team…
If you really had to find something that Shen Jian Guo was unhappy about, there was only one thing remaining: How could that kid, He Zhi Zhou, be so crafty?<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, this translation was taken without consent of the translator.
That night, Zhong Yu and He Zhi Zhou slept on the same bed. Zhong Yu had terrible habits while he was sleeping. The instant he got on the bed, he would lie with his legs spread wide apart. He Zhi Zhou could tolerate Shen Xi’s bad appearance and habits while sleeping, but when facing Zhong Yu’s, he simply sent a kick over. “Shove over a bit!”
Zhong Yu twisted himself around. Seeing that his older cousin was holding a mobile phone, he couldn’t help asking, “Whatcha doing?”
“Texting.”<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
“With whom?”<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
“Shen Xi?”<>Please support the original translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
“Are you guys sick? Isn’t she just in the next room?” Zhong Yu could not understand.
He Zhi Zhou did not give any explanation.
After thinking for a moment, Zhong Yu understood. “Hey, Cousin, I discovered you’re a bit too crafty.”
“Is that so?” He Zhi Zhou was not going to admit he was crafty. He had merely considered all the questions and problems that needed to be considered. He told Zhong Yu, “I will marry Shen Xi.”
Zhong Yu flipped over, his manner growing serious. “But isn’t it a little too early to be considering this question?”
He Zhi Zhou’s answer was very suave and cool. “I don’t think it’s very early.”
Zhong Yu expressed his own viewpoints on love and marriage. “Dating is dating, marriage is marriage. If I were to date someone right now, I definitely wouldn’t be considering the question of marriage. What if you’re dating along and then you discover that you guys aren’t suitable for each other? What do you do then? Is it too late to dump her?”
He Zhi Zhou coolly questioned, “Don’t you know whether you’re suitable for one another or not before you start dating?”
“How would you know?” Zhong Yu sat up in bed. “Cousin, I just realized today that you’re very loyal and true. I need to figure out what astrological sign you are.”
Finding this senseless, He Zhi Zhou turned off the lights.
Zhong Yu was still in the midst of doing his figuring out. When he was finally done, he was shocked. “Holy crud! You’re… actually a Virgo?” [the Chinese characters for Virgo literally translate as “virgin maiden sign”]<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, this translation was taken without consent of the translator.
The next day, Shen Xi took He Zhi Zhou and Zhong Yu around H City. He Zhi Zhou drove while she gave directions and pointed out their route. Zhong Yu sat in the back, gloomily playing the role of a light bulb, but he gradually went from being the initial 100-watt bulb to just a 15-watt one.
[In China, “light bulb” is slang for someone who is hanging out with a lovey-dovey couple and playing the third wheel, “shining” on them and spoiling the intimate atmosphere. Here, basically, this description that Zhong Yu’s “wattage” decreased is saying that towards the end, they barely even noticed him or paid attention to him.]
Zhong Yu was basically tossed to the side all alone. But, there were times when he was needed; for instance… “Zhong Yu, help take a picture for us.”
In the end, though, all this oppression still brought out the love in his heart. He would be leaving tomorrow, and he really was feeling sad about it. He wanted to stay in the Shen household and be Wu Ling’s son.
It had only been two days. Actually, if you really were to count, it had not even been two days. Time had flown by very quickly. Shen Xi began to count with seriousness. The total amount of time she and He Zhi Zhou had spent together, just the two of them, was not even two hours.
Today, she had brought him around to the famous sights in H City, they had watched a newly-playing movie, and they had also watched granddad doing square dancing. But Zhong Yu had been sandwiched in between her and He Zhi Zhou the whole time. The time they had spent together as just the two of them was pathetically little. They hadn’t even gotten to kiss.
But He Zhi Zhou would be leaving tomorrow. Simply thinking about this made her feel that this was such a shame. Pinching her own face, Shen Xi decided to just toss aside all other considerations. She picked up her mobile phone to message He Zhi Zhou. Right as she was about to send it, He Zhi Zhou’s message beat hers and arrived in her phone first.
Asleep yet?<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
Shen Xi’s answer was,
Nope. I’m thinking about something.
He Zhi Zhou asked her,
What are you thinking about?<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
Burying her head into her pillow, she sprawled herself on her belly and replied,
… Thinking… that I want a kiss.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
Want a kiss…<>Please support the original translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
In the room next door, He Zhi Zhou turned himself over on the bed while disgustedly shoving away Zhong Yu’s leg that had come pressing down onto him. He stared at his phone’s screen, then shut his eyes. He wanted a kiss, too.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, this translation was taken without consent of the translator.
52 of 65 chapter segments
0 of 2 epilogues