In the room that had been used to prepare tea previously, Madam Zhong and Nie Huang both stopped talking and turned to the door.
“Ah Huang, did you hear that?”
Nie Huang nodded. “That sounded like … people?”
The two of them shared a glance and leaped to their feet, scrambling for the door. There! There was a woman sitting at one of their tables with her child next to her! Were things finally going to take a turn for the better?!
“Ah Huang, go and prepare the tea.” Madam Zhong waved her away in a daze, smoothed out the wrinkles in her clothes and fixed her hair before she forced herself to smile. She had to leave a good impression on these people to make sure that they would come back. Maybe then … maybe then the teahouse and her son could be saved. This was her only chance.
She walked over with steps that seemed steady but actually, her legs trembled the whole way. She couldn’t mess up. She had to make this work! “Welcome, welcome! I’m sorry for not greeting you sooner.”
“Oh, no worries.” Ai Hua turned around to Madam Zhong and examined her. The woman in front of her was a mortal. She could tell as much at one glance. Looking at her a bit longer she still couldn’t find anything special about her. Was she related to His Majesty’s beloved? It really was hard to tell from just looking at her. Ai Hua narrowed her eyes as if she would able to see something previously hidden if she concentrated on her more.
Madam Zhong’s smile stiffened. This … What was going on? Was there something wrong with her face? She patted her cheek but neither did she find anything wrong, nor did the woman stop staring at her. She didn’t dare to ask though. What if the woman felt she was rude? Then this chance she had prayed for would have been lost.
Xiao Dong looked from Madam Zhong whose forehead was already covered in cold sweat from her anxiety to his mother and tugged at Ai Hua’s sleeve. “Mother, it’s a teahouse. Shouldn’t you order some tea? I don’t care what type of tea it is.”
Ai Hua finally came out of her thoughts. She coughed lightly and knocked on the back of her son’s head. “What are you saying? I was about to do that. I only took in the surroundings. Such a nice establishment!” She cleared her throat again and gave Madam Zhong a smile. “Mn, then, could we get a cup of tea?”
Madam Zhong suppressed a sigh. It seemed she was overly anxious after what happened last week. The smile she had forced onto her lips diminished. Yes, it had almost been a week since then and still, she could hardly believe that her husband wasn’t there anymore. Just how had that happened? Just why had he had to leave?
She took a shaky breath to calm herself and her smile returned. Nothing had changed in the teahouse since Li Bo’s visit and she had dreaded the day he might return. Finally having a new customer gave her hope. Maybe they would all return with some time and she and her son could lead a normal life again. She had to try hard!
“Of course. What tea would you like?”
Ai Hua had no idea what type of tea she could get in the mortal realm so she waved. “Bring me whatever you think is good.”
“Alright. Would you like some snacks too?”
Ai Hua nodded. “Sure, why not?” She should support this teahouse considering that it was owned by the family of His Majesty’s beloved. She wouldn’t even mind if she had to come here every day for one mortal lifetime to drink tea and eat snacks. Seriously, if the mortals didn’t want to frequent this establishment, she wouldn’t mind asking the other women of the dragon realm to come over! It couldn’t be that hard to support one mortal family, could it?
She smiled and waited for Madam Zhong to leave. Her smile collapsed instantly and she leaned over to Xiao Dong. “Do you also feel that she was a little strange?”
“I guess that Li Bo-whoever gave her a very hard time. Ah, to think that there is a teahouse without any guests.” She shook her head. “After we’re done here, let’s find a place to stay and ask around a little. I’d like to know just who this Li Bo is.”
“Are you even listening?!”
Xiao Dong looked up and sighed. “Didn’t I come here to help His Majesty out? What’s about that task? I should first find out who that child is. After that, we can still take care of that other human. Honestly, it can’t be that hard to—”
“Ah!” Ai Hua slapped a hand onto her son’s mouth and smiled brightly. “Look at that! Those cakes look delicious!”
Madam Zhong had already returned from the kitchen and brought the snacks over. Her lips twitched when she saw how Ai Hua shut her son up. She hadn’t walked in on a secret conversation, had she? She cleared her throat and put the snacks down. “The tea will be done soon! If there is anything else you’d like just tell me.”
“Mn. Thank you.” Ai Hua pushed the snacks over to her son and continued to smile.
Madam Zhong looked from one to the other. “Uh … There are also rooms on the second floor if you’d like to have some more privacy.”
Ai Hua’s eyes widened. Had she not been secretive enough?! She laughed and hurriedly shook her head. “No, no, there’s no need. I think it’s very nice here. We can even look outside and see all those …” People who won’t frequent your establishment. She couldn’t say that, could she? She awkwardly stopped at that and patted her son’s back.
“Oh, alright then.” Madam Zhong nodded and hurried into the preparation room. She shouldn’t butt into her guests’ business. They would know what they needed and what not.
Ai Hua heaved a sigh of relief. Ah, it was hard to talk with mortals! Just where were His Majesty and his beloved? It couldn’t be that those two were out on a romantic outing while they were waiting here for them, could it?
Mn, she had to give it to him: Their king really knew how to woo someone. It was no wonder the Son of Heaven hadn’t been able to resist back in the Nine Heavens. In this mortal life of his, it would turn out the same way.
Madam Zhong came back with a tray in hand and put down the tea with a smile.
“Thank you, thank you.” Ai Hua pulled the cup over and took a sip. “Mn, your tea is good.”
Madam Zhong stared at the cup that still had steam wafting up into the air. This manner of drinking freshly brewed tea that was so hot she didn’t even dare to touch the cup … it was awfully familiar. Could it be that their luck was really about to return?