Li Ming watched Zhao Chen’s expression as he talked and his own lips curved up, his gaze turning softer. “I think I get that feeling. I’m not much of a reader myself and, truth be told, I’m also not that wild about movies but when I’ve watched things before, I think I also liked those types the most.”
Zhao Chen smiled. “I can’t say that I’m surprised about that. You know, when I met you, I had this feeling that we were pretty similar.”
Li Ming’s brows slowly climbed up. “Oh? How so?” Actually, he had been a little weirded out but that was probably because Zhao Chen had tried flirting with him and he just hadn’t gotten the hint. That could certainly make for some awkward situations.
Zhao Chen thought for a bit to figure out how he could best explain it. “I guess it wouldn’t be very convincing if I said I had a hunch?”
Li Ming shook his head. “Not really, no.” Although he had to admit that that type of thing could happen. Sometimes, you just had a general feeling about a person that turned out to be right.
Zhao Chen tapped the top of the table, his eyes faintly narrowed.
At that time, the waiter came to bring the food over. Li Ming gave him a smile and Zhao Chen also pulled himself out of his thoughts, thanking him quietly. After exchanging a few words, the man left, and the two of them picked up their chopsticks, starting to eat while Zhao Chen once again considered the previous question.
“I think it was your behavior.”
Li Ming looked at him, not sure if he understood.
Zhao Chen just gestured at him. “It’s …” He sighed and shook his head. “I guess I should be embarrassed that I’m unable to find the right words after outing myself as an avid reader. I’m not sure what to call it. Just that, when I started at the hotel and we met for the first time, I had this vague impression of you that you were a very … easygoing person. And then over the next couple of days, while we were working together more often, I felt so even more.
“You’re … down to earth. You treat others kindly, you have patience, and you obviously take your time to get to know them and don’t just rush blindly ahead. It … well, personally, it made me feel welcome.”
Li Ming gave a hum. Should he say thank you? That had sure sounded like a compliment. In fact, he had never really asked Zhao Chen what had attracted him in the first place. Hearing him speak about this, he felt like he had a vague idea.
Zhao Chen took a few more bites of his food while his gaze was wandering over Li Ming’s face. “I swear I’m not trying to toot my own horn but I think I’m a similar type of person and I tend to feel comfortable around people who are like this as well.”
“You mean in a ‘birds of a feather’ kind of way?”
Zhao Chen nodded. “Yes. It’s that familiarity, I think. It makes me feel comfortable. You could also say at home, I guess.” He smiled, stopping his movements for a moment and just looking at Li Ming. “Anyway, I felt that from you. I guess it might sound odd but I will admit that I was watching you pretty closely.”
Li Ming wasn’t sure what to say to that. He had been happy enough about the first part but the last part gave him mixed feelings. It reminded him of what had happened with Mo Fang back then. Surely, at that time, he had also observed him closely so that he could figure out what he liked.
Li Ming rubbed his cheek and exhaled slowly. He hardly thought of Mo Fang or the time back then anymore but sometimes, those memories would rear their ugly head. It made him insecure whenever it happened. He couldn’t help but fear that the other person wasn’t honest. But looking at Zhao Chen, that was clearly unnecessary. He was open and aboveboard with everything. Today especially. He really seemed to be opening up.
Li Ming pushed the ugly thoughts away. Trust needed to be established. He still had some issues with that but it was getting better. And experience told him that when he thought of something like this, it didn’t help to quietly brood. No, he needed to speak up about what was bothering him and get to the bottom of it. If he managed to do that, the worry would also reduce, and bit by bit, he would get to where he could be comfortable and not feel startled but those kinds of sentences anymore.
Making up his mind, he slightly narrowed his eyes. “What do you mean with ‘watched’?”
Zhao Chen raised his brows, not having expected that question. “Well …” He stopped at that, wondering how to say this. Looking at Li Ming, he shook his head and moved his chopsticks again, bowing his head. Did he really have to say it?
Li Ming didn’t say anything and just waited, looking at him curiously. He tried not to accuse him of anything even inwardly and just keep an open mind. There might be a good explanation for what he had said. A … very normal explanation. Yes, he believed in that.
Zhao Chen realized that Li Ming wasn’t speaking and glanced up. Seeing his boyfriend still looking at him like this, he cleared his throat and picked up the cup of water that was standing to the side. After taking a sip and putting it down, he shook his head once again and gave a wry smile. “Do you really need me to say it?”
Li Ming felt startled but still nodded.
Zhao Chen kept quiet for a moment, one arm propped up against the tabletop. In the end, he sighed. “I mean … you are handsome. And I won’t deny that you’re exactly my type. So … yes, I was definitely stealing glances here and there.”
He lowered his hand and gave him a look that seemed to read ‘Satisfied with that response?’, startling Li Ming.
Whatever he had thought before, those ideas flew straight out. Instead, he couldn’t help but wonder if him asking that question just now … had sounded a bit coquettish?