Chapter 479: Lunar New Year’s Eve, 2006
Since the next day was the Lunar New Year’s Eve, they decided to return that afternoon.
Having originally intended to spend the Lunar New Year in Yanzhou, Fu Cheng and Fang Yunyao were going to return to Libei too. Thus, of everyone present, only Little Xiang Ning would not be going with them. As everyone else packed their luggage, Xu Tingsheng drove Xiang Ning home.
Mr and Mrs Xiang would be closing shop for a few days during the festival period. Today was the first day of their break.
On the car, Little Xiang Ning requested, “Play that song, please.”
So Xu Tingsheng found that old album and pressed the play button.
The deep voice of Jonathan Lee began to reverberate in the car as he sang <<Infatuation>>.
“Someone asked me what’s so good about you, that I still can’t forget you after so many years. The spring breeze can’t match up to your smile however beautiful it is, those who’ve never seen you wouldn’t understand.”
“Just like me,” The sixteen-year-old girl suddenly mused aloud, “It’s just like me. Many people will surely have asked you why it’s me. Sadly, even those who’ve seen me won’t understand.”
“I’ve never done anything for you before, Uncle, but still you dote on me,” Xiang Ning said.
Xu Tingsheng naturally had no way of revealing how he had let her down in his previous life, how she had willingly waited so long and tragically for him but to no avail.
He said, “But you’re just sixteen. The world can’t just ask someone to radiate like a supernova and do a lot for another person when they’re only fourteen or fifteen. There’ll be lots of time for that in the future. Right now, allowing me to be good to you is the best you can do for me.”
Xu Tingsheng had said this in a dramatic, heartfelt manner.
Yet, Xiang Ning said, “Again with the sweet nothings. You must be really good at cheating girls, Uncle.”
Miss Xiang had said this too in his previous life, and Xu Tingsheng had been unable to rebut it. While he had not been a philanderer per se, he had spent some years roaming about fields of flowers. In the end, though, he had ended up falling at the hands of inexperienced Miss Xiang.
Whether one is used to fooling around or single-minded devotion, be they ordinary or not, everyone will inevitably experience a serious, important relationship at least once in their life. Oftentimes, this ends in hurt…
Hopefully, there would be no such thing in this life.
“I’ll be seventeen after the New Year,” Xiang Ning said.
“Yes,” Xu Tingsheng said.
“You must come back quickly!”
On their return journey, Mr and Mrs Fu travelled in Mr Xu’s A8I.
Song Ni travelled in Huang Yaming’s G500.
Carrying Little Niannian, Fu Cheng and Fang Yunyao insisted on squeezing onto Xu Tingsheng’s decrepit Volkswagen.
“Really, why not take my Dad’s car? The car’s good, and there’s a professional driver too. It’d be safer for Little Niannian,” Xu Tingsheng asked helplessly, “And yet you must squeeze into this decrepit car of mine.”
Fu Cheng smiled and did not speak.
Fang Yunyao said to her daughter whom she was carrying, “Niannian…”
Receiving the signal, Niannian raised her head and yelled with all her might, “Godfather!”
“...Yes!” Xu Tingsheng responded vigorously.
Then, filled with satisfaction, he smiled to himself for a long time.
“When did you teach her that?” He asked curiously.
Fang Yunyao answered, “When you were sending Xiang Ning home! It’s strange, she picked it up right away. Tingsheng, we...thank you.”
“Why thank me? Your relationship ultimately depends on yourselves. If he wasn’t stubborn and you didn’t persist, this day would never have come. You should thank yourselves, and Little Niannian too,” Xu Tingsheng said.
Fu Cheng patted Xu Tingsheng on the back, saying, “Niannian’s done it. Your turn now.”
“I...what?” Xu Tingsheng asked.
“Call me (big) brother-in-law!” Fu Cheng laughed.
“Is Ms Fang your big sister now?”
“What does that make me then?” Fu Cheng asked.
“...So I dug such a great big pit for myself. Do I get a red packet if I do it?”
“In that case, Big Sis.”
“Yes,” Fang Yunyao smiled and responded.
“Ha your sister. Where’s my red packet?”
“You gotta give Niannian a red packet for the New Year, right?”
“Deduct ten yuan from it. Consider it my red packet money for you.”
Upon reaching Libei, Fu Cheng would be going home whereas Fang Yunyao was going to bring Niannian to the Xu family home. Just like Fu Cheng, Mr and Mrs Fu both wanted to carry Niannian for ‘just a little while more’ as they simply could not bear to part from her…
After settling Fang Yunyao and Niannian down, the members of the Xu family all slept very early that night, Xu Qiuyi who was about to enter a new semester in twelfth grade included.
They awoke very early the next day, buying groceries, washing groceries, making preparations…
It would be the third year now. Ever since that year where fireworks had enveloped the sky, the Xu family had had such a tradition, just that it had thereafter been changed from dinner to lunch. On the eve of the Lunar New Year, the Xu family would invite Happy Shoppers’ middle and higher echelons as well as some outstanding employees over to their house for a meal.
Who could step into the Xu family home and eat this meal on this day...this had spiritually become the greatest reward and recognition an employee of Happy Shoppers could have. Everyone really aspired towards this great honour.
As per usual practice, everybody was not allowed to bring presents or offer any assistance today.
As the Xu family’s honoured guests, all they had to do was sit there and pleasantly enjoy it.
Mrs Xu was the chef for this meal. Mr Xu, Xu Tingsheng and Xu Qiuyi served the dishes. As soon as you had yelled that there was no more wine at the table, Boss Xu or his son would be there with some right away. This unique company culture originated from Mr Xu’s personality. Those who put in effort would definitely be repaid for their hard work. This was practical and also heartwarming.
Once in a while, Xu Tingsheng would muse that perhaps he should learn from this over at Xingchen.
The sole problem was that as Happy Shoppers grew in scale, there were more and more ‘honoured guests’ coming over for this banquet every year. When the time came for their reunion dinner, the four members of the Xu family were dog tired from all these exertions.
The Xu family home was exceptionally lively on this last night of the lunar year. Besides Fang Yunyao and Niannian, Zhong Wusheng who had already bought a house in the county brought his wife and two daughters over to attend their annual reunion dinner as well.
The three little ones brought great life and joy to the proceedings.
Mrs Xu would constantly glance at Xu Tingsheng while playing with the kids with a meaningful look in her eyes.
“Did you have a kid outside by any chance? If you do, hurry up and carry him back!” She said.
Xu Tingsheng secretly thought to himself, “That actually nearly happened.”
At the same time.
Little Xiang Ning and her parents had their reunion dinner at her grandmother’s house along with her eldest uncle’s family and her two aunties’ families. Having earned over two hundred thousand after starting a restaurant in the past year, Mr and Mrs Xiang were feeling more assured of themselves.
It was just that while Little Xiang Ning had started working a little harder, her results were ultimately unable to match up to that of her eldest uncle’s son.
Mr and Mrs Xiang were considering getting Xu Tingsheng to help with tutoring Xiang Ning after the Lunar New Year.
Still, while they were concerned about this, those aunties and uncles simply weren’t interested in talking about results at all now.
The way they treated the Xiang family had changed completely now. They were always acting nonchalant while trying to pry into the state of the current relationship between the Xiang family and Xu Tingsheng.
As they looked at the family of three, their gazes always carried ‘envy’ and ‘words that they were only barely managing to repress’.
Little Xiang Ning’s necklace dropped out while she was lowering her head and taking rice.
The eyes of second auntie’s husband who was sitting opposite her instantly shone.
“Little Ning, who gave you that necklace?” This was also Mr and Mrs Xiang’s first time seeing this necklace. Xiang Ning had forgotten to mention it to them when she had gotten home the day before.
Little Xiang Ning wanted to hide it, but it was already too late.
“It’s okay, Little Ning, just say it. Grandma wants to know too. Listening to your uncles and aunties guessing here and there everyday, grandma feels so curious too,” Her grandmother continued smilingly, “You’re already seventeen, it’s fine...I had your eldest uncle at seventeen.”
Little Xiang Ning’s face flushed beetroot red. Still, since her beloved grandma had asked her, she had to say it.
“It was, it was that person…” She said.
“Xu Tingsheng?” Eldest uncle’s wife interjected.
“It, it was his mother who gave it to me,” Xiang Ning said.
As Mr and Mrs Xiang and those from Mrs Xiang’s maiden home saw it, between Xu Tingsheng or his mother having given the necklace, the latter was so much more significant due to what it also entailed.
“Can I have a look at it?” Second auntie’s husband requested.
Little Xiang Ning could only take the necklace off.
“Ooh…” Second auntie’s husband said.
“What are you oohing at? Do you really know this stuff?” His wife asked.
“A little. My company’s lady boss loves jade the most. She loves talking about it and showing off in the company, and I just listened a little. Last time, she showed off to us a Guanyin idol that she said cost over a hundred thousand and spent such a long time explaining all about it…”
“Over a hundred thousand?” Everyone exclaimed in astonishment, this still being 2006.
“Yes. The quality is still a far cry from Little Ning’s piece here, though,” Second auntie’s husband said.
Everyone fell silent. Mrs Xiang’s chopsticks fell onto the table with a clatter.
“Such a small little thing, and yet it costs almost as much as me tiringly running a restaurant for so long,” Mr Xu said rather despondently.
They had been working their socks off in a bid to lessen the gap between their familial statuses for Little Ning...but it looked like the gap was just growing wider and wider.
“Don’t try comparing yourselves with them,” Second auntie’s husband said, “This is merely the cost of the raw materials. There’s still the crafting, and wastage...the crafting is so much better than our Lady Boss’s. I’ve never seen anything like it before…”
Little Xiang Ning had actually heard the price of the bracelet Mrs Xu had given Ms Fang back then. It cost perhaps a hundred thousand. As she had no good concept of money, she had thought that hers should be cheaper since it was much smaller than a bracelet. She had therefore not been bothered by it.
Now that second auntie’s husband was saying this, even she felt rather embarrassed as she hurriedly elaborated, “Auntie said that it was custom-made.”
Second auntie’s husband was astonished as he muttered, “In that case, it’s one of a kind. It might even be the handiwork of a grandmaster. I really have no idea, no real concept of this…”
“So, how much does this cost, exactly? (Elder) Brother-in-law?” Mrs Xiang pressed.
“You ask me, but I don’t know too! Anyway, it’s high-end and ridiculously pricey. If it’s really good, really favoured, maybe, just maybe...it might even cost a million.”
Everyone was mindblown.
While Mr Xiang had suffered a shock, a thought immediately came to his mind.
“No, it’s too expensive. We’ve got to return it,” He said over and over.
“Are you silly? If it was Xu Tingsheng himself who gave it, you would still be able to return if it you are polite,” Eldest uncle said exasperatedly, “But didn’t you hear what Little Ning said? His mother personally gave it to her. Return it, you say...you do know what that means, right?”
Mr and Mrs Xiang spoke no longer. Indeed, the necklace could not be returned.
“Keep it, keep it well. You two keep it for Little Ning. You can’t let Little Ning wear this out again,” Xiang Ning’s grandmother suddenly said urgently.
“Also, if you people dare to talk about this outside and anyone finds out that Little Ning has this, don’t blame me for what I’ll do to you,” She warned, looking at the rest of them.
Old people were cautious. That one could not let their wealth be known was a textbook principle.
“Bring that Xu Tingsheng over to have a chat with Grandma after the New Year."
“Okay.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Extra long chapter.