Li Ming and Zhao Chen exchanged a glance, feeling like they should also give a toast.
Li Ming finally shrugged his shoulders. “I’m not creative either but I’m raising this one to the two of you. Despite the complicated beginning, you’ve clearly managed to make something beautiful out of it. I’m a bit envious seeing you two get along like this and can only hope that Zhao Chen and I will be able to do the same after being together for this long.”
The three of them turned to Zhao Chen who looked slightly uncomfortable.
As the one among them who knew everyone the least longest, he wasn’t sure what type of thing to say. The other three had really covered everything he might have wanted to say as well. Pondering for a moment, he finally gave a chuckle. “Well, you guys are all shooting for the stars there. I’ll be a bit more down to earth then and toast to just this evening.”
Li Ming laughed as well when he heard that. “I guess we did get a bit carried away there. I just couldn’t help it after hearing this story.”
The other two agreed and the four of them clinked glasses.
“So … you met at work.” Si Tao looked from Li Ming to Zhao Chen and back again. “How are things going over there? Still happy with the atmosphere?”
Li Ming nodded. “I am. Actually, I appreciate it more the longer I’m there.”
“Because you found your new boyfriend there?”
Li Ming just laughed. “Well, that too. But no, it’s more like … back at the railroad station, my co-workers were also accepting. I’ve always felt welcome, at the very least. But now that I’ve been at the hotel for a while, I’m realizing that it’s different. It’s not just acceptance there. There’s a certain understanding because most of us are in the same boat. We share similar pasts and problems so it’s easier to relate.”
Zhao Chen nodded. “I’ve noticed that too. Honestly, I was a bit worried when we met. I’ve made the experience at past workplaces that everyone is accepting until you actually fall in love with a man in front of their eyes. Then suddenly, there is a lot to talk about.”
Li Ming nodded. “Yes, that was definitely a topic at my old workplace as well. Although, to be honest, I didn’t mind that much. But maybe that was also because I wasn’t really dating … well, until the end.”
Si Tao wisely kept quiet at that and looked away in the hope to find a topic to change to. Then, he stared blankly. “Eh?”
The other three glanced at him and then also turned in that direction, only to see that the door had just opened, and a new guest had walked in.
Li Ming raised his brows, feeling surprised. Wasn’t that …
At that moment, Si Tao had already raised his arm and was waving wildly.
The man didn’t notice at first but one of the waiters passing by motioned over to them and he finally turned around. Seeing Si Tao, he came walking over and leaned down for a hug. “Tao’er, out on a double date?” He straightened up and nodded at Tong Lan before turning to the other two people sitting there. Then, he raised his brows at Li Ming. “You …”
“It’s Li Ming.” Li Ming smiled a little stiffly. This person was somebody he also knew: Linghu Jiahao, the guy who had taught the course he went to two years ago after his break-up with Mo Fang. This was the first time he saw him again since then and being caught with his boyfriend, he felt worried at first.
Opposite him, Si Tao cleared his throat. “Well, seems like the two of you know each other. Please tell me you didn’t date in the past.”
Linghu Jiahao looked pretty much just as surprised as Li Ming but shook his head at that question. “No, he was in one of my courses a while ago.”
Li Ming nodded. “Yes, that’s all. I was just surprised that I knew the person. You two …?”
“Oh.” Si Tao raised a hand and then got up, pulling over a chair from another table and patting the table so Linghu Jiahao would sit down. “Now, that’s a story you want to hear.”
Li Ming raised his brows, wondering what could be up.
Linghu Jiahao sat down, looking embarrassed. “Don’t make it sound like that kind of elaborate tale.” Turning to Li Ming and Zhao Chen, he smiled wryly. “When my boyfriend broke up with me, he went on to date Si Tao. I wasn’t over him and trying to get him back. That’s how we got to know each other. It’s been years though.”
Si Tao nodded. “Yep, but guess who still isn’t over him?”
Li Ming looked from one person to the other and suddenly had a sinking feeling. The type of person you wouldn’t get over even after years and who had dated both Si Tao and Linghu Jiahao … “That wouldn’t have been Mo Fang, would it?”
Si Tao clicked his tongue. “Actually, I didn’t want to say it.”
Linghu Jiahao raised his brows. “You and Mo Fang …”
Li Ming could only sigh. “We broke up pretty shortly before I registered for your course back then.”
“Oh.” Linghu Jiahao rubbed his nose. “I remember you talking with your friends about how you had a bad break-up.”
“Yes, that was … that one.”
The two of them nodded and then fell silent.
Meanwhile, Zhao Chen looked at the other three men at the table and raised his brows. “You three all dated the same guy?”
Li Ming felt embarrassed but had to nod. “Seems like it.”
“That’s that model, right?” Honestly, that guy totally wasn’t his type but he could see why others thought differently.
Li Ming sighed, feeling quite unlucky. He didn’t mind making new friends and since he knew Linghu Jiahao already, he certainly wouldn’t have minded connecting. But how come this happened just when he was on a double date with his boyfriend? And why was Mo Fang coming up at this time? It just seemed so unlucky and almost made it seem as if no matter what changed for the better in his life, he would never get rid of that ghost.