157. Can’t Eat Spicy Food
JingYuan sat down on the sofa of the living room and patted the seat beside him. “HanHan, come sit here. What does that girl want with you now?”
YiHan smiled and sat down by JingYuan. “Zhang Su’s bookshop has been expanded. He’d bought the two neighbouring shop lots and combined them all. The renovation’s all done now. The reopening day is tomorrow. I’ll be visiting for a ‘shop-warming’ gathering. Pei-Pei was afraid I’d forget so she called. Thank goodness for her reminder. I thought it was the day after tomorrow. If not for her call, I’d have missed out.”
JingYuan hummed. “Zhang Su is a nice man. It’d be good for you to interact more with him. However,” JingYuan paused, “are you and Yan Pei close? You called her Pei-Pei. What an affectionate nickname.”
YiHan dropped his head into his palm as he sighed, “I only think of her as a younger sister. It’s just a nickname. You mind that too? Do your subordinates know how petty you can be?”
“You had never given me a nickname that cutely repeated one of my characters. You were never that affectionate,” JingYuan solemnly stated. “It took a lot of effort to make you just call me by my name. Yan Pei did nothing yet you called her Pei-Pei without prompting.”
YiHan stared at the other man, mouth gaping wide in shock. “What would you like me to call you then? Jing-Jing? Yuan-Yuan? Doesn’t it make your skin crawl? It doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as well.”
JingYuan shifted to look straight into YiHan’s eyes. His face remained serious as he said, “How can a nickname from a lover make my skin crawl?”
YiHan’s head dropped back into his palm. “Just how did we get on this topic? JingYuan, putting aside how it makes my skin crawl, if I truly call you Jing-Jing or Yuan-Yuan and if the world knows of it, I’m afraid the Mu Group’s stock prices will plummet.”
JingYuan twisted his head to look away. His posture straightened as he deeply said, “If you’re not willing to, I don’t intend on forcing you to do it. It’s quite undignified for me to ask this of my fiancée. If I stubbornly insist on it, I’d be so tragically pitiful.”
For some unknown reason, YiHan actually fell for JingYuan’s ploy this time. In a sudden show of his manly boyfriend nature, YiHan turned JingYuan’s head back to look at him. Ignoring the weak and imperceptible “struggling”, YiHan kissed JingYuan on the lips.
“I didn’t say I’m unwilling,” YiHan said. “Don’t put words in my mouth. I never gave you a childish nickname like that because I respect you. I’m afraid you’d be upset. After all, if anyone else heard it, it might destroy your reputation. Just a little bit, maybe. But if you don’t mind it, I’ll think about it. I want a unique nickname for you that only I can address you by. Okay?”
JingYuan cleared his throat and replied, “It is your right to have a unique nickname for me. I am your future husband. Why would I say no to something so trivial? Have your ponder.”
YiHan sprawled across JingYuan’s lap. His arms wrapped around the other man’s waist as he went quiet, lost in his thoughts.
“Mu-Mu!” YiHan excitedly gasped. “Mu, as in the character for ‘wood’. It’s a homonym of your surname and it’s easy to say. This is my unique nickname for you. How about it?”
Slender fingers combed through YiHan’s hair as JingYuan calmly replied, “As long as you’re happy. I have no comments.”
“My Big Mu-Mu,” YiHan smiled up at him, “why are you so nice?”
JingYuan roughly ruffled YiHan’s hair as he angrily said, “If it’s Mu-Mu, then call me Mu-Mu. What the heck is this Big Mu-Mu?”
YiHan rubbed at his nose and glanced down at JingYuan’s crotch region as he giggled, “Big Mu-Mu means a big Mu-Mu. You know.”
The other man’s ears were flushed red as he stroke YiHan’s chin and said, “That’s enough out of you. The sun is still up. Why are you so improper?”
YiHan turned to face away from JingYuan and hopped out of the man’s lap to stand a few steps away from the sofa. “Just who is the improper one here? Did I say anything? You’re the one whose mind fell into the gutter. Is that my fault?”
JingYuan’s anger, laced with embarrassment, led the man to leap to his feet and reach out to grab YiHan. The younger man scrammed the instant JingYuan got to his feet. YiHan scrambled up the stairs but JingYuan’s legs were longer than his. With a few large strides, skipping a few steps along the way, JingYuan caught up to YiHan. Just as the older man reached out for him, YiHan darted into their room and slammed the door shut. He swiftly locked the door and guffawed.
“Trying to catch me?” YiHan laughed. “Are you as agile as I am?”
No one replied. YiHan leaned into the door and placed his ear against the wood. Nothing still.
“Did I make him sulk in anger?” YiHan mused. “No way. I’ve got it. He must be trying to fool me into opening the door. Dream on.”
YiHan straightened up. He’d only taken two steps away from the door when he heard a soft clack coming from behind him. His body froze as his head stiffly turned to look behind him.
JingYuan had opened the door and was walking into the room. The man jiggled the key in his hand as he smiled. “My cute, naive fiancée, don’t you know there’s something in this world called a backup key?”
YiHan slowly retreated as he apologetically chuckled back, “My strong and mighty fiancée, spare this puny one just once?”
With a swipe of JingYuan’s foot, the door closed shut. The man walked closer and closer. “That won’t do. After all, you did say I am ‘Big’ Mu-Mu. As your betrothed, I must respond to your words and show you the strength of ‘Big’ Mu-Mu.”
By now, YiHan had retreated to the bed in the room. The bedframe bumped against his calves, making him trip backwards to sit on the bed. “I’ve already witnessed the might of Big Mu-Mu. Well, erm, I’m hungry. What are we having for dinner?”
JingYuan pushed YiHan back against the bed. Kneeling with one knee on the bed, JingYuan hovered over YiHan. “It’s still too early for dinner. You can have some afternoon tea first…”
Upon realising his pleas were futile, YiHan’s brows furrowed as he barked, “What are you doing? It’s still daytime! Are you trying to let the whole world know we’re having sex? You’re shameless!”
Dipping his head down, JingYuan sealed the nattering mouth shut with a kiss. The couple’s breaths mingled together. After a few whines from YiHan to signify his protest, YiHan eventually opened his teeth to welcome JingYuan’s invading tongue. YiHan’s hands snaked up to wrap around the other’s neck…
By the time they were done, it was dark out and YiHan had lost all desire to head down for dinner. All he wanted to do was nod off to sleep right then and there. JingYuan washed him up and did his best to coax the younger man awake but YiHan just didn’t want to open his eyes.
JingYuan could do nothing but help YiHan into his clothes and carry him down to the dinner table. When Ms Liu noticed the couple had left their room, she quickly set the table and carried the food out of the kitchen. If there were no witnesses around, YiHan would’ve happily continued playing dead in JingYuan’s arms. However, Ms Liu was there now. His skin wasn’t thick enough that he could keep lazing around in his lover’s embrace. YiHan hopped to his feet and walked over to the dining table, trying his best to not let anyone notice he was limping. When YiHan sat down, his face twisted in discomfort and he shot a glare at JingYuan. The older man gently smiled back and sat next to YiHan. JingYuan then slid his left arm around YiHan’s back to massage at the man’s waist. His right arm was then occupied with grabbing food from the serving dishes and placing them into YiHan’s bowl.
YiHan silently ate whatever he was given. Then, he turned to JingYuan and deliberately placed a slice of raw ginger in the other man’s bowl.
“Ginger can warm you up. It’s good for you. Have some,” YiHan gleefully said.
JingYuan gave YiHan an exasperated glance but he still raised the ginger slice to his mouth. YiHan hurriedly stopped him, blocking the ginger slice with his own chopsticks.
“Are you a fool?” YiHan angrily asked. “You were really going to eat it? This thing tastes so bad and its taste lingers in the mouth for so long.”
At this very moment, JingYuan’s usual dark eyes could be seen gleaming as bright as the stars. He happily said, “I just knew you couldn’t bear to make me eat it.”
YiHan gave him the side-eye. “What if I hadn’t stopped you?”
JingYuan shrugged. “I won’t die from eating a slice of raw ginger. It’ll just taste bad. “
YiHan’s chopsticks grabbed the ginger slice from JingYuan’s and threw it on the table. “I should’ve let you eat it,” he fumed, “and die from the spiciness!”
JingYuan leaned in to whisper in YiHan’s ear, “I’m fine with eating spicy food but you absolutely cannot right now. You’ll suffer.”
YiHan’s face was as red as a tomato as he angrily barked, “Go away!”
Early the next morning, YiHan arrived at Zhang Su’s bookshop. He had wanted to drive himself but JingYuan adamantly refused to let him do so. YiHan knew the other man was just terrified from how YiHan had crashed his car to save TianYang. Ando, the younger man didn’t insist on driving and obediently let his lover arrange for a driver. The driver’s someone he knew too – the brawny Barbie, Pan Wen.
When YiHan stepped through the door of the bookshop, the entrance was packed with chattering crowds. Pei was smiling brightly near the door while Yan Hui and Zhang Su were standing next to each other. The place was filled with plenty of teenagers in uniforms. As for people who were from YiHan’s and Pei’s social ranks? There weren’t many. Merely a few sprinkled here and there, and all of them blended in well with the crowd.
“YiHan, you’re here early,” Pei cheerfully greeted when she spotted him. “I thought you wouldn’t be up so early.”
“It’s the grand opening of Zhang-ge’s bookshop,” YiHan replied with a smile. “I wouldn’t dare to laze in bed. Did you receive my bouquet?”
Yan Hui reached out his hand for a handshake as he smiled and said, “We’ve received it first thing in the morning. Thank you so much, Little Master Bai, for honouring my husband so.”
YiHan shook the man’s hand. “We’re all friends. No need to be so formal and distant.”
“Little Master Bai, it’s exhausting to just stand for the whole time,” Zhang Su greeted. “Come sit down inside. Pei-Pei, lead him to a seat.”
Pei linked arms with YiHan as she joyfully replied, “Don’t worry, Zhang-ge. Leave him to me.” She then turned to YiHan and said, “Come! I’ll show you around the inside of the shop. It’s super nice. I’m telling you now, I was involved in designing the place!”
Arm in arm, the two walked away. Pei was chattering non-stop the whole time but not once did YiHan interrupt her. He merely listened with a smile.
Watching the two go, Hui commented to his husband, “Those two are quite close with each other. I didn’t expect that.”
“Pei-Pei’s a happy-go-lucky girl,” replied the other man. “She’s also very honest and frank. Rarely would anyone dislike her. Little Master Bai’s not bad himself. He’s a gentleman who knows to compromise. Most of all, he has no superficial facade at all. Perhaps it’s because the Bai family has protected him well. He’s very pure. The two are quite similar. What’s so surprising about those two getting along well?”
Hui chuckled. “You haven’t known him for long. You don’t know what they say of him before. He wasn’t like this back then. While he can’t be called bad or evil, there are two ways of describing him. If one were to be nice, they’d say he was a little wild. If one were frank, they’d call him arrogant. He always acted as if he was only beneath the gods. He didn’t care for rules and no one could rein him in. Before the older generation, he’s alright. Among his peers though, it’d be polite to merely say he was arrogant and impulsive. Hm. Perhaps he has finally matured. He’s changed quite a lot.”
“I have heard of his reputation before,” Zhang Su said with a cold smirk, “but even if we don’t consider how quickly humans adapt and change, who could say for certain all of those rumours were true? He has no power in the Bai Group but everyone in the family dotes on him. It’s not an exaggeration to say he could rule this city without being stopped. So many people who are jealous of him. However, none of them would dare let out a peep to his face. They’d do everything they can to curry his favour. How many of them would speak well of him behind his back? He was much too young back then. Mr Mu and the Bai family had also protected him well. Too well, in fact. He doesn’t get many of the tricks and twists of interacting with other people. He also isn’t one to bring himself to just do it for the sake of pleasantries. It’d be strange if his reputation was better.” He glanced at Hui and turned back to observe the two kids. “People like you, who speak badly of others because that’s what the group says, will have great reputations. Unfortunately, your true behaviours are not any better.”
Are you trying to let the whole world know we’re having sex: This is a paraphrase of an idiom/phrase, “openly having sex during the day”. It’s considered improper to have sex during the day, let alone letting anyone else know of it.