The winter night in the seaside city was cold and quiet, with the cold wind howling and blowing the holly trees on the roadside.
Amidst the silence, Gu Miao could almost hear his own heart beating faster and faster, and the icy blood in his body seemed to be ignited, boiling uncontrollably.
He knew he should refuse, but the desire in his body was overwhelming, almost surpassing his dwindling rationality.
In the cold night, a few holly leaves gently fell on the back of his hand with the night breeze.
The girl took a few steps forward, reaching out to help him brush off the leaves, then looked up at him and said, "Let's go."
She casually tugged at his sleeve and said, "My family doesn't live with me, so you don't have to worry about feeling awkward."
Gu Miao felt his strength being drained as he followed the girl's lead and flipped off the bike, pushing it into the entrance of the residential area.
A few strands of shimmering light seeped out from the security booth at the entrance.
Cheng Chu had forgotten to bring the touch key for the entrance and could only knock on the window of the security booth.
After a few seconds, a head poked out from the window and saw that it was Cheng Chu. The stern face of the security guard broke into a smile.
"School's out?" he asked.
Cheng Chu nodded. "Uncle, could you help us open the door?"
"Sure thing." The security guard pressed a button and the tightly shut door slowly opened.
His gaze passed over Cheng Chu and landed on the handsome young man standing behind her.
He hesitated before asking, "Who's this?"
The residential area was strict and it was common practice to question non-residents.
Cheng Chu replied, "He's my classmate, here to have dinner at my place."
"Oh, okay. Then you don't need to register. Go ahead," the security guard said with a smile.
He thought that Cheng Chu looked like a well-behaved and studious child, and that he wouldn't be capable of early love.
The high-end residential area emphasized greenery, and even in the cold winter, the vegetation was still lush.
Gu Miao silently followed behind Cheng Chu, his footsteps gradually becoming heavier.
He suddenly regretted following her so obediently. Was it not a little inappropriate to casually go to a girl's house like this?
But the deep longing in his heart quietly surged, like the rising tide of the sea, growing stronger and stronger, gradually overcoming those worries and anxieties, and hesitating left and right.
He greedily wanted to be closer to her and see where she lived.
The elevator in the residential area was very spacious, and the two of them were separated by an arm's length, like strangers.
Cheng Chu quietly moved a few steps closer to him. As the safety video played on the small TV inside the elevator, Gu Miao paid no attention at all. His focus was entirely on the girl standing next to him.
She had moved closer, and he could feel the slight dampness of the winter night on her body. It made his heart skip a beat.
Gu Miao suddenly felt frozen in place, unsure if it was from the cold or from nervousness.
Thankfully, the elevator "dinged" and they had arrived at their floor.
Cheng Chu stepped out of the elevator and used her fingerprint to open the door. She took off her shoes and turned to the boy who was still standing in place.
"You can park your bike over there. Come on in."
Since there was only one household per floor in this building, the entrance was spacious enough to leave things lying around.
Gu Miao parked his bike in the far corner, trying not to take up too much space. He hesitated for a moment before finally stepping into the girl's home.
Her home was spacious, with simple and pale gray furniture that gave off a somewhat desolate feeling.
"Here, put on these slippers," she said.
Gu Miao lowered his gaze and saw a pair of light pink fluffy bunny slippers on the brown-black wooden floor.
Like a piece of soft cotton candy falling into a pile of rocks, these fluffy slippers were the only bright color in this cold home.
Gu Miao pursed his lips.
"I'm sorry, we only have two pairs of slippers. You can wear mine if you want," he said.
Gu Miao looked down.
The girl had small feet and was wearing a pair of light blue bunny slippers with long ears sewn on the sides, which were extremely cute.
It was obvious that the ones she was wearing matched the pink ones.
Gu Miao's ears turned red, and he almost immediately put on the light pink slippers.
"No, no, these are fine," he stuttered.
The young man had a pale, stern profile, and a chill seemed to emanate from him, as if he were still in the midst of a winter night. Yet, on his feet were a pair of pink bunny slippers.
He lowered his head slightly, gazing at the fluffy slippers, revealing his rosy ears.
Cheng Chu's heart felt like it had exploded with fireworks, feeling overwhelmed by how cute he was!
The house was heated to a comfortable temperature, making everyone feel warm and cozy.
Cheng Chu tried his best to suppress the smile on her lips, pursing them together, and casually said, "Let's go, let's go eat."
Aunti Zhao's son had already recovered significantly, but still required some care, so she only came to Cheng Chu's house to cook lunch and dinner, before returning home to take care of her son.
Cheng Chu walked into the kitchen, took out the food from the steamer, and then turned around to grab some bowls to serve the food.
The boy squeezed into the kitchen and took her bowl to help her.
"No need, you go sit outside. It's not right to let guests do work," Cheng Chu struggled to take back the bowl, but was stopped by Gu Miao.
He had already overstepped by coming to her house for dinner, how could he watch her work?
The steamer in the kitchen made a beeping sound, and the girl's slender and white fingers touched his hand with a slight chill, like a dragonfly skimming the water.
Gu Miao quickly stepped back, his voice broken and trembling, "I, I'll do it. Or, you can take the chopsticks out."
Cheng Chu looked at the bewildered boy in front of her and silently took three pairs of chopsticks to the dining room.
This household only had two people living in it year-round, so the dining table was not very big. The two sat facing each other, and the air was filled with the warm fragrance of food.
Aunt Zhao made three dishes and a soup today: steamed prawns, sweet and sour pork ribs, stir-fried mushrooms with oil and vegetables, and a seaweed pork rib soup.
All the dishes were put into the steamer to keep warm as soon as they were cooked. Now they are still hot, and the steam slowly rises.
Cheng Chu used the public chopsticks to pick up a piece of pork rib for Gu Miao. "Have some more."
Gu Miao is introverted and shy, and Cheng Chu is afraid that he won't be able to relax, so she picks up the food for him one spoonful at a time.
A small mountain of food has piled up in front of him, and Gu Miao quickly stops her. "That's enough."
Cheng Chu stops and takes a sip of soup, watching the young man in front of her.
He eats quickly but not rudely, even though he was very hungry. He still maintains his dignity.
The house is quiet, and the sound of spoons and bowls touching is barely audible.
Cheng Chu didn't like peeling shrimp. She always felt that peeling shrimp during a meal would dirty her hands, and using chopsticks and spoons would just make a mess.
So even if she really wanted to eat shrimp, she would wait until after the meal to slowly peel and eat them.
Half of the rice in her bowl had already been eaten when suddenly a large, peeled shrimp appeared. The snow-white shrimp meat was covered in sauce and looked extremely tempting.
Cheng Chu looked up.
The young man in front of her had his head down, his handsome eyebrows slightly furrowed, and his cold, slender fingers were holding the shrimp.
Cheng Chu quickly said, "Don't peel it, let me do it myself later."
"It's okay," the young man said slowly, "I've already finished eating."
His bowl in front of him was clean, not a single grain of rice left, as if it had just been washed.
Cheng Chu felt a little embarrassed.
"Don't peel it, let me go get you another bowl. Eat more." She spoke and picked up Gu Miao's bowl, heading straight into the kitchen.
Luckily, Aunt Zhao always cooked a lot of rice.
Cheng Chu filled up a bowl of rice and when she came back, she found that the plate of shrimp was neatly arranged with white shrimp meat. In the blink of an eye, Gu Miao had already peeled off most of the shrimp.
Cheng Chu felt a little embarrassed and picked up a chopstick of sweet and sour pork for him.
"Eat more, don't work too hard. This is enough to eat."
Gu Miao finally stopped and buried his head to eat. The cold wind outside howled, hitting the windows of the restaurant, making a muffled sound.
Cheng Chu slowly ate the shrimp and felt that she should say something.
She spoke up, "Do you like sweet and sour pork?"
The young man was momentarily stunned by the sudden question.
He paused and said, "I like it. I'm from Pingcheng."
Pingcheng is a northern city, far away from Haishi in the south. The taste of Pingcheng leans towards sour and sweet, and their famous dish is sweet and sour pork ribs.
Cheng Chu was taken aback. She had no idea that Gu Miao was from Pingcheng.
"When did you come to Haishi?" she asked.
Gu Miao pondered for a moment. "I think it was during elementary school," he replied.
He vaguely remembered living with his family in a small house on the outskirts of Pingcheng. In the winter, when the snow fell heavily, the family would huddle together in the cramped space, feeling warm and content.
But ever since they moved to Haishi, their once happy life seemed to have been put on pause.
He lost his parents, and everyone mocked and despised him.
This city left him with obscure and dark memories.
In the cold and lonely nights, he often thought about leaving this place someday. Until the appearance of this girl in his dim and lifeless existence, bringing bittersweet and sour tremors, he suddenly felt that this city had shed its cold exterior and become lovely and vibrant because of her.
The crystal chandelier hanging above the restaurant reflected sparkling and dazzling light, all of which fell into the depths of the young man's eyes.
Cheng Chu's heart couldn't help but beat wildly, and she lowered her eyes to conceal the fluttering of her butterfly-like eyelashes.
"Do you like noodles? I remember that northerners prefer noodle dishes," she evaded, trying to find a topic.
"Sure, I can eat them," he replied.
Would his answer end the conversation?
Gu Miao pursed his lips and added, "What about you?"
Cheng Chu poked at the rice grains in her bowl and said, "I like rice noodles, the ones across from the school, they're super delicious."
For some reason, the boy's body seemed to stiffen up.
Cheng Chu continued, "I've tried other noodle shops, but none of them have the same taste. Have you tried it before?"
The boy nodded absentmindedly.
"What do you think?" Cheng Chu asked.
"It's, it's pretty good," the boy replied.
Cheng Chu picked up a piece of mushroom and bok choy with her chopsticks. "I think they must have some secret recipe, otherwise why would it be so much better than other shops?"
The boy pursed his lips, a hint of shyness flashing in his dark eyes.
"I, I don't think there's a secret recipe."
'If you ever want to eat it, I can cook it for you anytime,' he thought to himself.
Gu Miao: She's praising me, she's praising me, she's praising me (blushing).
Translations during sleepless nights. I can sleep when I'm dead! ...Please let me sleep. Happy readers keep me awake, and lots of love and a huge thank you for supporting my hobby!
Give me feedback at moc.ebircssutol@ypeels.