Tang Li was lost when it became clear that Long Feiye wasn’t going to drink Gu Qishao drunk. Still, he didn’t dare challenge Gu Qishao any further because he knew full well his drinking limits. What would Ning Jing and little Tang Tang do after he got drunk?
Ning Jing hadn’t eaten much all night and couldn’t sleep if she went to bed hungry. Little Tang Tang had just gotten used to sleeping in the carriage, so it’d take coaxing tonight to get her to sleep on a bed. If he remembered correctly, Ning Jing shouldn’t be staying up overnight or standing too long for the next two days, much less do any heavy work.
Without Tang Li to raise the waves, Long Feiye and Gu Qishao soon fell silent after a few bouts. At last, this gave Han Yunxi the chance to speak up.
“Gu Qishao, so you’ve been planting tea in all those months without a word?” she asked.
Gu Qishao scratched his head and didn’t reply. After waking up in the medical academy, he realized he’d returned to normal and felt unused to it all. He needed time to calm down and get used to his new, ordinary body. Of course, he had another reason for leaving: to avoid Mu Linger completely so she could grow up. Han Yunxi didn’t press Gu Qishao on his lying and hiding, but neither would Gu Qishao ever know how many tears she shed for him that day on the barren back hill.
Let bygones be bygones.
Gu Qishao would never know that Long Feiye had happened to spend the New Year’s Eve here by chance, either. Although Long Feiye had sent his shadow guards to chase him, Gu Qishao had still lost their tail after 10 days and vanished completely. He began to hunt for suitable land to design plantations as a gift for Rui’er’s first birthday. His plan was to deliver the gift on his birthday bash. He ended up designing multiple tea plantations before growing dissatisfied until No. 7 and its tea hot springs. When he adopted the idea for other plantations, he found a market niche and began to build No. 8, 9, and 10--later growing into the idea of 77 separate plantations. Every single one had excellent business. If he could really finish all 77 to a point where location, design, and the Way of Tea was satisfactory to all, then he would probably be the kingpin of the tea plantation business across Cloud Realm Continent.
In truth, No. 7 tea plantation was long finished. He had only been focusing on the finishing touches and renovations for each plant and block of wood in the past month. As a godfather’s gift to his godson, he couldn’t afford to be lax on the details! In fact, he wasn’t even in the area until he had the idea a few days ago to rush back through the snow and wings to fix something else.
“Where’s Gu Beiyue? Why didn’t he come?” Gu Qishao asked.
“Qin Min’s pregnant, so it’s not good for her body to catch cold. He brought her to the south to pass the winter,” Han Yunxi replied.
“So fast?” Tang Li was surprised. Ning Jing had told him the details of Gu Beiyue marrying Qin Min, but it had only been six months since their wedding. Ning Jing was taken aback as well, never expecting the doctor to move so quickly.
“Then they should take care. How many months along is she?” Ning Jing couldn’t help asking.
“She should be about five months along by now. Don’t worry, with Gu Beiyue there nothing will go wrong,” Han Yunxi smiled.
“Doesn’t that mean she got pregnant practically right after the marriage?” Tang Li exclaimed. “Doctor Gu’s a doctor, all right.”
All the adults present could understand what he was implying. Gu Qishao’s lips quirked up but he didn’t comment. He figured the present he gave the couple must have been useful to Gu Beiyue. Otherwise, how could Gu Beiyue’s usual personality and even-tempered ways guarantee a pregnancy as soon as he was married?
Long Feiye didn’t speak either although he had been surprised as everyone else. He never expected a gentle man like Gu Beiyue to be so strong and vigorous in his advances.
Qin Min probably...won’t give birth to a girl! He mused privately.
As the New Year’s approached, Xu Donglin led a bunch of shadow guards to light up fireworks nearby. Although their dinner hadn’t been especially lively, everyone had lost track of time in their casual chatter. Seeing the fireworks illuminate the skies, they realized that one year had passed and a new one was beginning. The two small children ran outside as soon as they heard the commotion, too.
Little Tang Tang was still holding onto the rag tiger that Rui’er had rejected, while little Rui’er was still clutching the brocade bag in his hands, as if afraid to lose it. Han Yunxi and the rest had walked onto the pavilion to admire the show above.
So beautiful… Han Yunx couldn’t help but recall the fireworks during the Lantern Festival last time. Thanks to the other three men keeping secrets from her, she had no idea what Gu Qishao was going through during her first postpartum month. Little Rui’er was only an infant back then.
Time sure passed fast.
Long Feiye had already taken Han Yunxi’s hand in the process of sightseeing. Their fingers intertwined with the hope that they could pass every New Year’s like this unto eternity. Tang Li held Ning Jing’s hand as well.
“Ning Jing, I haven’t watched any fireworks show with you yet, right?” he asked in a low voice.
“We’ve done it a few times already, haven’t we?” Ning Jing said back.
“I mean, not any since you started liking me,” Tang Li’s voice grew softer and warmer as he spoke.
Ning Jing gave a start before murmuring back, “We have. I...I’ve liked you for a long time.”
Tang Li scooted close and grinned. “Me too.”
Meanwhile, Zhao mama arrived with a tray full of red packets. Just like past years, Long Feiye generously handed them out to everyone present. Han Yunxi then instructed the servant girl, “Go organize the red packets and name lists on my table and send them out tonight.”
She had already prepared the list of those who would be gifted red packets and prepared their contents with names on each one. All that was left was the final check. If she hadn’t chased after her son, she would’ve finished by now.
“Yes,” the servant replied.
At this time, Long Feiye was currently handing Rui’er a red packet. He was too tall and Rui’er too short, so it was hard for him to even see his father looking up. Long Feiye dearly wanted to hold Rui’er, but dropped the idea after some deliberation. He didn’t wanted to make Rui’er cry on the first day of the New Year. Settling into a crouch, he waited for Rui’er to waddle over.
In truth, Rui’er never meant to reject him, only feared him. He didn’t mind it when his father got close, only when the man tried to touch or carry him. No matter how mature he was, he was still a little kid. How could any of his reactions be preplanned? It was simply a rejection born from instinct. Although Long Feiye didn’t understand it, he was certain there was an underlying reason. Although he was sorely disappointed at times, he had never gotten angry with his son or truly blamed him.
He only doted on the little boy. Only Han Yunxi knew just how much he loved him!
A father’s softer feelings were always hidden in his heart. This was Rui’er’s first time officially accepting a red packet from his father. He had no idea what it represented since he had no concept of money, but taking the packet reminded him of something else.
Once all of the packets were distributed, the kids ran off to watch the fireworks again. Gu Qishao glanced at Long Feiye and Han Yunxi on the left, then Tang Li and Ning Jing on the right, before bursting into laughter. It wasn’t clear whether he was laughing at himself, the single dog, or just genuinely feeling happy. Perhaps it was something he himself didn’t even know.
He quickly ran for the two children instead and swooped them up, one on each arm. Strangely enough, both Rui’er and little Tang Tang accepted him. The former ended up sitting on his left shoulder while the latter was cradled in his right arm. He was a tall man with long arms, so it didn’t take any effort to hold them both.
“How about we set off some fireworks?” he asked them loudly.
“Yea!” the two children chorused.
“Godfather didn’t prepare any presents for you, so let’s all play together tonight, all right?” Gu Qishao asked next.
Little Tang Tang immediately shut up, while Rui’er glanced back at his parents as if asking for their permission. Only then did Long Feiye and Han Yunxi realize that Rui’er had yet to acknowledge his godfather despite accepting his present! Han Yunxi had no comment. She could call the shots on Rui’er’s potential godmother, but godfathers were best left to Long Feiye. Meanwhile, Gu Qishao was admiring the fireworks while thinking back to the lonely night he spent watching them on the barren back hill. He didn’t notice Rui’er’s hesitation, much less Long Feiye’s nod to his son. Broadminded or not, kindly intentions or none, between all the bouts and struggles between them, Long Feiye had still given his blessing in the end.
“Okay!” Rui’er said loudly.
“Daughter, why don’t you go play with Uncle Qi?” Tang Li asked loudly.
“Okay!” Tang Tang responded loudly as well.
Just like that, Gu Qishao took the two children with him as he flew off the balcony and into the snow.
Tang Li tilted his head towards Long Feiye and grinned. “Big bro, it’s a new year. I wish for peace to all the people of Qi and hope sister-in-law births you a daughter.”
Long Feiye looked back with a rare smile of his own. “And I wish you can return to the Tang Clan soon.” As soon as he finished, he led Han Yunxi away with him. His words were enough to leave Tang Li thinking for days and nights. Was Long Feiye promising to help him back to the clan, or unhappy enough to curse Tang Zijin to capture him quickly?
Tang Li was still puzzling over the response when he returned to his living quarters. He finally realized that it was dangerous to provoke his big brother with his daughter’s matters now. Otherwise, the consequences would be severe.
Manger Wu and his underlings were all changed out, leaving Zhao mama and Xu Donglin in charge of matters instead. Tang Li and Ning Jing were arranged quarters by the old matron in a wing far on the western outskirts of the plantation. It took awhile to get there on foot.
Once in the rooms, Ning Jing was too exhausted to move and lay sprawled on the bed. She only relaxed completely once they were inside. Although she was on good terms to Han Yunxi, she had yet to see Long Feiye in the flesh more than three times. After sharing a dinner table with him, she finally understood why Mu Linger would fear the man.
While she was stretching on the bed, Tang Li had already brought over a piping hot tub of tea hot springs water to place by the bed.
“What are you doing?” Ning Jing asked in confusion.