Both Li Ming and Zhao Chen gaped at her and Si Tao. That … they hadn’t heard wrong, had they? Exchanging a glance, they still felt that they couldn’t be sure.
Zhao Chen turned back to the front and shook his head. “I’m sorry, I don’t think I quite caught that. What did he say?”
Tong Lan doubled over with laughter and hit her fiance’s arm. “Ah, I’ll never get tired of this reaction!”
Si Tao seemed to take it with humor and deigned to explain the situation himself. “I figured that she thought of me badly because she noticed I was following her so I’d need to give a reason why I was doing that that wouldn’t seem like I was out to get her. But it wasn’t like I could rush after her to explain myself. So instead, I turned to the next best person which happened to be an old couple.
“By that time, Xiao Lan had gotten pretty far away so I knew I had to act fast and loud enough for her to hear. I’m not sure if you’ve ever been to the ruins of the ancient city but there is quite a bit of empty space in the park so sound does travel pretty well. I was afraid though. After all, that was my only chance.”
Tong Lan nodded, still grinning. “So he yelled out exactly what you think you heard.”
Si Tao nodded as well. “I did. And I’ll let you know that the old couple thought my act was very convincing. They immediately pointed me in the right direction and didn’t even try to keep me to ask after my well-being.”
Li Ming felt weirdly intrigued after listening this far. “But … after doing this, wouldn’t you have needed to go there to make this seem plausible?”
Si Tao raised his brows. “Do you think I’m an idiot? Of course, I knew that! So I went to the bathroom and squatted there for a good ten or fifteen minutes before I came out again. By that time, the old couple was long gone but guess who was still there?”
“Sister Tong.” Li Ming blinked his eyes in surprise, not having expected that.
Tong Lan finally stopped her laughter and just shook her head with a smile. “Well, after hearing somebody yell, I couldn’t help but look back and then I naturally noticed that it was precisely the ‘creep’ I was running away from that was madly dashing to the bathroom. I suddenly felt really bad. I mean, just imagine: He had clearly wanted to ask me but I thought the worst of him so I walked away without him being able to ask and actually delayed his business. What if things had gone wrong?”
Li Ming covered his mouth with one hand and refrained from commenting. When he heard that both Si Tao and Tong Lan had been on vacation, he had imagined a very different story. In fact, he had thought that with the two of them, it should be like a meet-cute in a movie. The successful businessman and the determined student … that sounded like it should be something romantic. How come the truth was so … well.
Next to him, Zhao Chen was laughing though. Maybe it was because he didn’t know these two as well yet so there was no image to crumble. Also, this really helped with getting over the last bit of anxiety about meeting Si Tao. A guy who could pull this kind of move was just a regular dude.
Si Tao and Tong Lan clearly didn’t think much of it either. They already told this story so often that they were mostly immune to it. Especially after getting through that part of it.
Tong Lan happily took over narrating the next part though. “Well, when he came back out, he walked back to where he had originally been, continuing to look at the site. If I hadn’t been convinced yet that he had no bad intentions, I would have been at that point at the very latest.”
Si Tao smiled at that. “Well, I was trying very hard not to screw up again. Inwardly, I was really anxious though. After all, just going over hadn’t worked the first time around already and now, there was the added stigma of being … that guy.”
Tong Lan chuckled. “Actually, I didn’t mind that part. It was really warm that day. Suddenly feeling sick isn’t that strange. Also, who knows what somebody ate before coming to the site? To be honest, I felt more worried about him.”
Si Tao’s expression turned even brighter at that. “Yeah, you wouldn’t believe it but over time, I got closer to where she stood just because Xiao Lan took forever looking at every single detail while I was just casually having a glance here and there. When I was almost next to her, I was wondering if I should give up because I couldn’t quite see a way to save this anymore. But then, she actually talked to me first.”
Tong Lan nodded. “Yes, I was indeed still a bit worried and also had a guilty conscience for assuming the worst about him. So I turned around and took a look. To me, he seemed a bit pale so I asked whether he was alright.”
Si Tao raised his hands. “What can I say? That was like a heaven-sent. Of course, I’m not the type to take too much advantage. In that situation, I was just hoping to get her number, then get out of there, and contact her again later when she hopefully would have forgotten about the embarrassing parts. To get there … I felt that I first needed to dispel her worries.”
Tong Lan was the one to nod this time around. “Yes, he hurriedly denied feeling sick and then just said that he must have eaten something wrong but was feeling better now. Then he asked whether I had actually witnessed that embarrassing incident before. At that time, I ‘realized’ that he hadn’t even noticed who I was so now, I was the one being embarrassed. Ah, it really makes you feel that our first meeting was nothing but one big embarrassment. Really makes you wonder how we ended up engaged.”