191. Nan Shan’s Engagement Party
YiHan was the type of person who’s deathly terrified of the cold. The moment winter arrived, he would never leave the house if it was possible. JingYuan understood his habits. When the days grew colder, JingYuan stopped asking YiHan to accompany him to the office. However, humans were all the same. It was easy to move from poverty to luxury but hard to move from luxury to poverty. It was unavoidable for the loneliness to multiply for JingYuan after getting used to having his lover beside him at work. When YiHan asked how he felt about it, JingYuan stated it was fine. But the moment JingYuan turned around and knew his man wouldn’t be following behind, JingYuan’s heart felt empty.
JingYuan’s heart ached at the thought of making YiHan face the dreaded cold, so how could YiHan’s heart not do the same when YiHan saw the man’s loneliness?
From the very first day of winter, the exact same scene could be seen every morning at their home’s entrance.
“Don’t go. It’s cold outside,” said JingYuan.
“No. There’s no meaning in staying home. I’d rather go out and play with you,” said YiHan.
“It’s freezing. There’s nothing to play with there,” said YiHan.
“It’s not going to be cold in the office and I’ll be in the car for the entire trip. I’ll only be exposed to the chill when I get on and off the car. What does it matter?” said YiHan.
“Even so, you’ll be cold. Go back to sleep. Didn’t you say a nap right after waking up is the best?” said JingYuan.
“I won’t sleep. I’m wide awake. I don’t want to stay at home,” said YiHan.
“If you’re bored, I can have a room renovated into an entertainment room for you,” said JingYuan.
“Entertainment room? I’m an adult now. Why would I be playing? I just want to be with you. Do you find me annoying now?” said YiHan.
“Of course not. Why did you think that?” said JingYuan.
“Then, why are you upset that I want to be with you?” asked YiHan.
“How can I be upset? I’m just worried you’d catch a cold!” said JingYuan.
“I’m not afraid of the cold! Let’s go or you’ll be late,” said YiHan.
“It’s cold outside–” said JingYuan.
“Aah, stop nattering and let’s hurry! Go!” said YiHan.
“Wait! If you’re coming with me, at least put on your coat!” called JingYuan.
Pan Wen and Wei Wu who were hanging in the background: “…” Eyes to the nose, nose to the heart. Don’t speak. Don’t move. In the end, they’d leave the house together. If you take their words seriously, you’ve lost.
As for Chu FangMing, he’d been kept busy by the blows dealt that he didn’t have time to keep up with the matter. He Yuan pushed Yan Miao to call a few more times. When the man realised the calls did nothing, he stopped. He was feeling guilty after all. He didn’t dare go overboard.
Days slowly passed by in a rare tranquillity. Every day, YiHan and JingYuan left the house together. In the evenings, they returned home together. If YiHan was bored during the day, he’d open up the group chat to ask about updates. According to Pei, Yan Miao had called them a few more times. When she realised her family was being “stubborn”, she merely spat out that she was “just too disappointed” in them and never called again. It seemed like she decided not to bother with Yan and YouRan anymore.
As Pei said, “no one wanted her to bother with them”. The moment Yan Miao kept her mouth shut, the whole world was at peace.
Time will never stop. The calm and gentle days slowly slipped by. Then, it was time for Yan Yan’s engagement party. Dressed in suits made of the same cut but of different colours, YiHan and JingYuan left their home and arrived at the Yan family home early in the evening.
The couple first greeted the old Mr Yan before ascending the stairs to meet Yan and the others. As YiHan expected, YouRan was nervous and visibly so. YouRan was dressed in a pure white suit. He looked more handsome and elegant than usual. It was as if he belonged in a painting.
When the couple found YouRan, the man was sitting down on a sofa with his hands clenched tightly together. He was frowning and biting down on his lip. He looked uneasy. Yan was sitting by his side, whispering something to him. YiHan sighed. YouRan didn’t interact with people much. It would be hard for him to be comfortable with being the star of such a situation.
YiHan walked over to the sofa opposite YouRan and sat down. “What’s going on, Mr Groom? Embarrassed?”
YouRan pleadingly looked at YiHan. “I’m afraid my performance later will appear too petty. YiHan, I’m afraid of shaming Yan.”
“What are you talking about?” Yan softly scolded.
YiHan smiled. “YouRan, you’re only panicking because you care. Heed my advice. You don’t need to do anything later. You just need to walk beside Yan. He’ll introduce people to you. If they’re an elder, call them what Yan calls them. If they’re of a younger generation, speak if you want to. If you don’t want to, just nod and keep smiling. Leave everything to Yan. There’s nothing that can shame him.”
Yan nodded. “Yes. Just leave everything to me.”
“I know you’re not used to noisy situations but you must go through your engagement party and your wedding at the very least,” YiHan continued. “You’ll be going to show your face. Just take a stroll around the room. You can keep quiet most of the time. You only need to maintain a smile and no one will be able to say anything. I’ll let you in on a secret. I, too, despise mingling and schmoozing. When it comes to parties, I’ll slack off whenever possible. I’ll follow along and take a walk around the room. Give a little smile and everything’s great! Relax. Honestly, just face it how you normally will face anyone. Don’t stress yourself out.”
YouRan nodded. “At your engagement party, you looked so elegant and tranquil. I definitely can’t do that.”
“Don’t think like that,” said YiHan. “You can’t see yourself but you’re amazing. You don’t need to say anything. You just need to stand there and you’ll be the star of the show. You know the people of this world are always more forgiving when it comes to good news. Beautiful people are no different. Alright, relax. Think about it this way. After tonight, you and Yan will be properly engaged.”
YiHan leaned in close to YouRan’s ear and said, “Your boyfriend power, YouRan. You can’t falter.”
YouRan instantly perked up. His gaze became more determined. That’s right. If he felt uneasy, he’d pass along his bad mood to Yan. How could he do that? He had to be the strength behind Yan’s shoulders. He can’t be soft and weak.
YouRan apologetically looked at Yan and grabbed his lover’s hand. “Don’t worry.”
Yan: “…” Bai YiHan, just what did you say to him? Why does something feel weird?
No matter what YiHan said, it had a positive effect on YouRan. The man was calm after that. Throughout the night, he acted so natural that, combined with his ethereal aura and attractive looks, he looked like a deity one could look at but not touch.
When YouRan smiled, it was as warm as when snow first melts. But when he wasn’t smiling, he was as high and mighty as the flowers blooming on icy mountains. Everyone exclaimed in praise. As expected of someone who could be an equal to the Second Young Master Yan. The man was perfect in every way.
A glass of red wine in hand, YiHan looked at YouRan who stood in the middle of the crowd. “Humans really have limitless potential. YouRan’s pushing himself hard for Yan’s sake. Luckily, Yan understands YouRan well. Unless required in the future, Yan wouldn’t let him come to a crowded room like this without a fight.”
JingYuan tugged the wineglass out of YiHan’s hand and replaced it with a glass of grape juice. “He’s with Yan. It’d be hard for him to avoid such parties. But don’t you worry. Man’s social skills are all trained. He’s used to being alone. It’s normal for him to be uneasy. He’ll slowly get better. As you see from tonight, he’s done quite well and didn’t make any mistakes.”
YiHan gave in and drank his grape juice before proudly responding, “Of course. My Nan Shan’s the best.”
JingYuan looked at YiHan with a smile. He wiped a bead of grape juice away from YiHan’s mouth with a thumb as he warmly replied, “The people you approve of are naturally great people.”
YiHan grinned. He then looked around the room. “Chu FangMing didn’t come?”
“He had been badmouthing Nan Shan as much as he could,” JingYuan said. “The old Mr Yan was so angry that he personally spoke up. There’s a grudge between the two families now. There’s no way the Yan family would invite him to their party.”
“I know,” said YiHan, “but I thought he would seize this chance to come, even without an invitation, to see YouRan.”
“He wouldn’t,” said JingYuan. “He doesn’t dare meet Nan Shan now.”
“Why?” YiHan asked, confused.
“I didn’t have time to tell you yet but Chu FangMing went to the Qi family home once more yesterday morning,” JingYuan replied. “He knelt down before the gates and slapped himself over a dozen times. He cried and wailed about his mistakes and wrongdoings. Finally, his actions made Qi Jie cave in. She agreed to forgive him one more time. That very afternoon, Chu FangMing drove Qi Jie and their two daughters back to the Chu family home. He swore before the entire Qi family that he would never recognise Nan Shan as his son. He would never let Nan Shan take a single step into the Chu family home’s gates.”
“As if anyone wants to enter their home,” YiHan chuckled. “He could invite YouRan with a palanquin and all the bells and whistles that come with it, but YouRan would never go.”
“Of course,” said JingYuan. “He only said that so it didn’t reflect as badly on him. Everyone knows what the truth is. He has Qi Jie supervising him now. He’ll stop harassing Nan Shan.”
“I bet he’s finally learned his lesson this time,” said YiHan.
“That’s right,” said JingYuan. “The Chu family’s assets have shrunk by over half. They can barely be considered part of high society. Chu FangMing was nearly overthrown as the head of the family. He’s scared stiff.”
“Hmph,” YiHan pouted. “He’s just a scaredy-cat and he wants to fight with us?”
“He wouldn’t dare fight with us,” said JingYuan. “At most, he’ll try some tactics on Nan Shan. Unfortunately for him, Nan Shan isn’t someone he can touch.” He gestured at Yan with his chin. “Yan is very protective.”
YiHan laughed. “Are He Yuan and Yan Miao not here yet?”
“They must not be,” responded JingYuan after scanning the room once more.
“She really thinks she’s a princess,” said YiHan. “Fashionably late? She didn’t put on such airs when we were getting engaged. Why is she so spiteful when it comes to her family instead?”
“It’s not just spite,” said JingYuan. “She finds it humiliating. If it was possible, she wouldn’t want to attend this party. But she’s afraid of completely alienating the old Mr Yan. She can only come late to express her dissatisfaction.”
“She’s so much trouble,” said YiHan. “It’s better if she doesn’t come. That way, He Yuan wouldn’t try and kick up any fuss when he sees YouRan.”
“She wouldn’t not come,” said JingYuan. “As long as she’s not an utter idiot, she’ll understand she depends on the Yan family.”
“She knows she relies on the family, but she doesn’t think much of her family,” said YiHan as he took a big gulp of his juice. “What kind of logic is that?”