Si Tao chuckled. “Clearly, that’s because I’m smart!”
Li Ming couldn’t help but laugh as well. “I’d say you’re not just smart but unconventional. Who else could think of such a way to completely reverse somebody’s first impression?”
Zhao Chen nodded along. “Yeah, if it was me, I probably would have just given up.” Even if he could think of such a way, he still liked his face. He wouldn’t throw it away like this just for the slim chance of the plan working.
Si Tao shook his head. “I might have in another situation but seeing Xiao Lan that day, I just had this feeling. You might think love at first sight is stupid. Actually, I think so too. But I think that sometimes, we pick up on something subconsciously that we can’t put our finger on or put into words. I think that’s what happened to me that day. I just had this feeling that she could be the one and it was strong enough that I wanted to give it not just a shot but my best.”
Tong Lan nodded. “To be honest, for me, it wasn’t like that. Even after Ah Tao managed to turn things around, I just thought of the whole thing as a weird encounter. But he had managed to weasel out of me that I was going to visit Datong next and guess who I saw there when I arrived two days later?”
Li Ming still smiled. “Brother Si, I’d assume. Did he know when you would get there?”
Si Tao shook his head before she could say anything, looking quite proud of himself. “Nope, she didn’t tell me and I didn’t ask either. I figured if I seemed too interested, she’d get wary again so I left it at that when she said she wanted to go to Datong next. I did mention that that sounded interesting so I might go and have a look as well. Then, I naturally went over and squatted there until she arrived.”
Tong Lan nodded. “Yep, imagine my surprise when we met pretty soon after I arrived. We had talked for a few minutes over in Shuozhou so I recognized him immediately. This time, he also seemed to see me and waved. Then he came running, told me that after I mentioned it, he looked it up, and figured he wanted to see it as well, and went there. Then he started gushing about how awesome everything was.
“Before I knew it, we were exploring Datong together.” She sighed when she said so and shook her head. “Honestly, even if I think back now, I still don’t know how he did it. He was so natural about it, I didn’t have my guard up at all. At the end of the day, we had added each other in WeChat and stayed in contact that way.”
Li Ming also felt incredulous. He had never really thought more deeply about their relationship but he had to say … Si Tao sounded a bit scummy with how much he had planned around getting closer to her.
Zhao Chen hadn’t thought too much but he glanced at Li Ming every now and then and happened to see his strange expression. Thinking for a moment, he had a rough guess that this reminded him of some unpleasant things.
His thoughts churned and he hastily turned back to Tong Lan. “Did he ever come clean about what he did? I mean, clearly, you know about it by now.”
Tong Lan smiled. “He did. Pretty early on, actually. After that day in Datong, he regularly texted me. I also felt a lot more comfortable with him at that time. When he suddenly asked whether I wanted to go out, I was surprised but I didn’t feel it was too much.
“I told him I wasn’t sure about whether I wanted to be together since I was pretty focused on my studies that I had already told him about by then. Ah Tao said he didn’t mind and there was no pressure. It made me feel … like no matter how it turned out, he would accept it. That was really reassuring so I finally agreed to the date.
“I guess you can imagine that it went pretty well. We went on a few more and after about a month, when we were on our third date, he came clean about it. He did apologize, even.” She raised her brows, giving her fiance a sideways glance.
Si Tao just smiled. “Eh, I don’t like keeping secrets and that just seemed like the kind of story I’d brag about if I ever got drunk so I figured it was better to let her know while sober so I wouldn’t completely fuck it up.” He laughed and then rubbed his neck. “Well, luckily for me, she actually found it funny.”
“I thought it was hilarious.”
Li Ming looked from one person to the other, not sure what to think. If it was him … he wasn’t sure how he would have taken it. Although Si Tao coming clean by himself after not too much had passed was a good thing. Not to mention that this wasn’t the same kind of long con that Mo Fang had done to him. It was more or less a one-off at a certain time that he had also confessed to. So, maybe it wasn’t strange that Tong Lan didn’t mind.
Thinking it through, he finally nodded. “It’s good you could see some humor in that. I’ve always thought that the two of you made a nice couple.”
Si Tao raised his brows. “You have good eyesight.” He picked up the glass that had been delivered some time through the story. “I guess it’s time for a toast after this. How about to … nice couples?”
Tong Lan also raised her glass. “That’s so uncreative. Let me raise mine to second chances and friendship.”
Si Tao gave a hum, not sure if that was so much more creative, and then expectantly looked at Li Ming and Zhao Chen. Anyway, they had talked about themselves for so long but those two hadn’t gotten much of a chance to talk about their relationship. Now, it seemed like a good time to get a bit deeper into that.