Xiao Li was late by one minute.
This one minute made Qi Xiu Yuan suffered all kinds of torment.
When Xiao Li appeared at the head of a flight of stairs, Qi Xiu Yuan had stared at his watch several times already. Anxiety was clearly written on his face but he willed it all away immediately and let the joy in seeing that person sink in.
“Sorry, this shop main door won’t let me stop the car in front so I had to go and find another parking space. Qi Laoshi, you’ve waited long,” said Xiao Li very apologetically as he walked over to where Qi Xiu Yuan was sitting and sat himself down.
“Only a minute had passed by, I didn’t notice it at all.” Qi Xiu Yuan looked at his watch again, “You……you drove the car yourself? I thought you had your own dedicated chauffeur.”
A smile appeared on Xiao Li’s lips before he let out a laugh: “I let them bring me once in a while, but it can’t be extravagant like that every day. The brothers also have other business to attend to.”
“Being that extravagant is already pretty good.” Qi Xiu Yuan joked and laughed before he turned around from his seat and pick up a case that he had prepared earlier in the day. “A couple of days ago, I went on a business trip to Yuncheng. This is the local specialty product there. It is said that its made from an ancient mahogany tree about a century ago and can ward off evil spirits. I bought three, one is in my possession, one I gave to a colleague and this one, I wanted to give to you.”
Xiao Li stared blankly for a while, a bit stunned at this present. He wanted to say something but instead with a smile gracing his lips again, he received it.
After the waiter passed them the menu, Xiao Li looked carefully at it.
Qi Xiu Yuan explained: “This is a shop that one of my friend opened. Everything here are simple home-style meals, but the flavors are all pretty good.”
Qi Xiu Yuan doesn’t know why but after he said those few words, Xiao Li’s expression looked quite strange. It seemed like a sigh of relief yet also a bit of disappointment.
Xiao Li quickly ordered two dishes and passed the menu over to Qi Xiu Yuan. When Qi Xiu Yuan was looking over the menu and ordering, Xiao Li lifted his head and looked around the shop for a moment.
“This shop is very nicely decorated and the scenery is pretty good as well.”
“Don’t be so polite, you’ve seen many high class entertainment places, would you really fancy this this small shop?” said Qi Xiu Yuan in a joking tone of voice as he let a warm smile squirm its way up his face.
From his appearance, it seems as if Xiao Li did not like this topic so all he did was smile and remained silent.
As if he had said something wrong, Qi Xiu Yuan couldn’t help but to be a bit saddened.
In reality, he had picked this shop since it was his favorite in the city and this particular seat was also his favorite.
The seat faced a spacious window. At the window there was also an outdoor balcony, and in the distant there is a river that flowed into this city. The wind brought with it a damp vapor that endlessly disperse into the air and surrounded the sky. Occasionally the sound of various water birds singing could also be heard within the flowing water from the river.
A long time ago, when he sat here for the first time, he had thought that in the future if he had a sweetheart, a beloved person, he would bring him here. They would peacefully sit here together, calmly have nice chat, while their gaze met in a mutual understanding.
But not like right now. Such overwhelming courtesy; such unfamiliarity.
It was in this manner that this meal faintly came to an end.
Qi Xiu Yuan talked a bit about his experience in Yuncheng, as well as some interesting stories about his job. Xiao Li cheerfully listened and would occasionally express some of his own opinions.
In regards to his own matters, Xiao Li barely mentioned anything.
Qi Xiu Yuan felt that something had gone wrong. But he couldn’t exactly pinpoint from where had things gone wrong even after he pondered about it for a while.
As they walked out of the shop together after having finished eating, Xiao Li said: “Qi Laoshi, would you like me to take you back?”
Unfortunately, Qi Xiu Yuan could only pitifully say: “There’s no need to. I still have something to discuss with my friend. But —–“
Xiao Li looked at him.
“We’re at least considered friends right?” said Qi Xiu Yuan earnestly, “Can you not call me ‘Qi Laoshi’ again or used such a polite form of ‘you’ to address me?”
Xiao Li thought about it for a second: “Okay ah.”
From then on the two said their goodbyes and went their separate way.
Xiao Li walked a short road to find his own car. And once he arrived at the side of the car, he made a phone call.
“Is this Feng Qiang? It’s me Xiao Li. ……no, no, I personally have something I would like you to take care of. ……I remember that the Northern district is your territory or has the leader of this district changed? ……There’s a shop here on Linjiang street call, ‘The River of Hope Teahouse’. Nothing happened here recently right?……Ah so it’s like that, then remember the name of this teahouse. Afterwards, watch over it a bit more. ……no, it’s not mine. Someone asked me for help just now. ……what mistress? Don’t blindly guess. Do you think I’m like you? ….no problem. Later come to the Eastern district as much as you like to boss me around.”
After he hung up on the call, he glanced at the case in his hand with the word “Yuncheng specialty” written on it.
He gauged the distant from where he was to the closest trash can for a moment, but ultimately he opened the car door and threw the case in the front passenger seat.
“I didn’t expect you’d invite me out,” Qi Xiu Yuan picked up a cup of coffee and took a sip of it before asking, “Does Susu know about this?”
“She knows.” Xiao Yang sat up right facing him with a solemn complexion, “Actually, Qi dage, you knew all along right? That Susu and I are still seeing each other.”
Qi Xiu Yuan lightly nodded his head.
Xiao Yang proceeded to say: “Today, I wanted to discuss something with you. I might take Susu with me.”
Qi Xiu Yuan’s brows knitted together: “What’s the meaning of this?”
“It just so happens that the company wanted to transfer me to a different province for work. It should be after three more months. There’s a senior over there that I know who’s a supervisor. With his relation, I can definitely remain there and the salary isn’t little either. In the future I want to remain there. If circumstances permit, I want to take Susu with me.” Xiao Yang stared at him somewhat nervous and scared, “So, Susu and I talked it over and wanted to hold an engagement ceremony before I leave.”
“Susu haven’t passed the legal age for long, aren’t you being rather anxious about it?” Qi Xiu Yuan raised his eyebrows and looked at him, “And also, since she was little, Susu has never left her close relative side before. Aren’t you afraid that I’ll be worried if she goes to such a far place?”
Xiao Yang explained with a sincere tone: “We know that Qi dage might oppose, but please trust me, I firmly believe that in this lifetime, Susu is the person that I care for the most. I will never let her down or betray her hopes.”
Qi Xiu Yuan did not say anything.
“Qi dage, I understand that you love Susu dearly, but in the future I will also love her dearly. If I did something to let her down, I will allow you to punish me. Besides, as for the reason you didn’t allow us be in a relationship in beginning, if Susu and I leave to a different province, that reason wouldn’t exist anymore. Qi dage, think about it for a moment.”
“Then, let me be frank with you Xiao Yang. The reason for why I won’t allow the two of you to be in a relationship is not that simple. Since you brought it up, I hope you can dispel one of my worries.” Qi Xiu Yuan looked him straight in the eyes and said, “I know that your parents meet with an untimely death. It’s obvious that the expenses accumulated during the years that you’ve spent studying abroad were all paid for by your older brother. Now that you’ve found a job, you just want to take your girlfriend and walk away from it all. It will be unpleasant to hear if I were to say it more bluntly so don’t take offense, but from my point of view, you’re ungrateful. I’m unclear about your family’s matter, but I’m afraid that this kind of ungrateful attitude will also fall on Susu.”
In the wake of his words, Xiao Yang’s complexion gradually became unsightly. Finally, he slowly and very seriously said: “Qi dage, of course I know how to be grateful to people. I am Xiao Li’s younger brother, but I am also a regular person that can distinguish the right and wrong in people. I don’t think I should remain next to a gang member who has a blood-thirsty nature. I will not take the side of an evildoer or help in his tyranny.”
Qi Xiu Yuan shook his head: “Can a person born into the criminal world raise his own younger brother as a regular person who can distinguish between the right and wrong in people; don’t tell me that this is a common thing to see? From this point of view, your older brother has not done anything wrong that would need him to feel sorry toward you ah.”
Xiao Yang snorted.
“Humph! There’s a lot of things he should feel sorry about. It’s just I don’t want to tell you.” Xiao Yang sighed, “Honestly Qi dage, I came to discuss things over with you because I respect your opinions. But fixing an engagement is a matter between Susu and I. if I want to absolutely marry her, and she wants to marry me as well, then your opinions won’t matter much.”
Qi Xiu Yuan laughed coldly: “What? You want to compete with me on who has more influence on Susu?”
Xiao Yang raised his head: “That, I wouldn’t dare do. But, there is something else that I want to discuss with you for a moment. Since you have such high sense of righteousness, then why did you take advantage of my relationship with Xiao Li and asked him for help?”
“What did you say?” Qi Xiu Yuan looked at him with astonishment.
Xiao Yang snorted: “You’re Susu’s older brother, so I don’t mind helping you. But, without my knowledge, you used my name and asked Xiao Li to help you buy a male prostitute. Also you asked him to help your friend’s shop gain more patrons. I think the way you handle matters are—–“
“Stop stop stop!” Qi Xiu Yuan found it hard to believe, “What you just said, say it again!”
“The things you’ve done; you’re unclear of them?” The look that Xiao Yang used toward him was a little cold.
Qi Xiu Yuan’s brows rose in bewilderment: “Who told you this?”
When the question was asked, Xiao Yang became even more angry: “For your own selfish desire, you made Xiao Li thought that I asked for his help. Then someone from the gang actually came to look for me and intentionally leaked this information to me, humph. A sissy male prostitute……a man, dare to come look for me and criticize me!” His tone of voice became even more stiff and harsh as he talked, “I do not want to have even a bit of connection with Xiao Li, so Qi dage, don’t go looking for him again.”
Qi Xiu Yuan’s brows returned to its original position as he contemplated. It seems as though he was digesting everything that Xiao Yang had just said.
Xiao Yang sat up straight and still, waiting for him to answer back.
For a moment, Qi Xiu Yuan’s brow slowly unfolded and his appearance calmed. He looked at Xiao Yang and lightly laughed before saying: “If you are willing to believe the words of a person that criticized you, then I have nothing to say. Right now, there’s only two things I want to say to you. One, in regards to Susu, I still do not approve. If you want to compete with me to see who has more influence on Susu, we’ll just have to rely on our own abilities.”
After he said those words, he stood up and looked at Xiao Yang condescendingly: “Two, whether or not I want to look for Xiao Li again, is naturally a matter between Xiao Li and I. If I absolutely want to go and see him, and he’s willing to see me, then your opinions won’t matter much.”
Once he was done, he shot Xiao Li an unsightly look, turned and took his leave.
 River of Hope Teahouse -望江茶楼 [Wàngjiāng chálóu] I might switch it back to the Chinese name in the future 😛