Linghu Jiahao cleared his throat, also feeling a bit bad. “I interrupted something just now, didn’t I?”
Si Tao just waved a hand though. “We were just sharing some stories. It’s not a problem. Anyway, we waved you over here. So if anyone should be apologetic, it’s me.” He was sure that Tong Lan wouldn’t mind so at that moment, he hadn’t thought about it more, not realizing that it might be different for Li Ming and his boyfriend. Well, doing things like this without thinking of the repercussions was something he had done more than once in social situations. He clearly had a problem with that.
Li Ming wasn’t sure what to say and could only look at Zhao Chen. He was the only one who didn’t know Linghu Jiahao at all so it really depended on what he thought.
Zhao Chen just smiled though. “Why is everyone looking like this? Originally, Li Ming wanted me to get to know some of his friends. It’s just that brother Si wanted to bring his fiancee along so it ended up becoming a kind of double date. If we add one more person, that just means this becomes hanging out with friends again.” He laughed and then turned to Linghu Jiahao. “Also … you and Li Ming don’t know each other well, right?”
Linghu Jiahao nodded. “Indeed. He just took part in a course I held back then. It was merely two weeks and we didn’t have any private dealings. I’m actually surprised to see him here now.”
Zhao Chen nodded and leaned back. “Well, I guess I won’t feel as awkward then. Now, there’s another two people who don’t know each other well. Ah, that almost makes me want to call up one of my friends to join in so we can all share a bit of the nervousness.”
Linghu Jiahao chuckled. “Well, it’s good if I’m not disturbing you. I don’t mind leaving though. Originally, I came by to see brother Si but if he’s busy …”
Si Tao shook his head. “No, no, if brother Zhao doesn’t mind, then I naturally won’t mind either. Anyway, let’s give some formal introductions then?” He raised his brows and motioned at Linghu Jiahao. “Well, we said it already but I and my brother Linghu here met because he was still hung up over his ex. It’s been … what? Fours years by now?”
Linghu Jiahao nodded. “Yeah, around that time. And here I am, still heartbroken over the same guy.” He sighed.
Si Tao ignored his statement and motioned over to Li Ming. “Well, this is the one who dated Mo Fang after his dramatic break-up with Lan Heng. Definitely an improvement but, unfortunately, Mo Fang screwed it up after a few months. He introduced the two of us though and we’ve stayed in contact.
“Now, Li Ming works at one of my hotels and recently, his boyfriend joined in, that’s brother Zhao for you. Today, it’s our first time meeting, so you’re actually right on time.”
The three of them nodded one after the other in greeting, feeling a little less awkward.
On the other side, Tong Lan couldn’t help but chuckle. “Well, seems like our toast came a little too early.” She raised her brows at Linghu Jiahao. “You know, Ah Tao just told them the story of how we met, and then we shared a drink. That’s about as far as we got into things.”
“Seems like I really wasn’t late.” He looked at Li Ming and Zhao Chen after that. “I already know that story. As for a toast …” He waved for one of the waiters. “I’ll drink a cup whenever I get one. I’ll dedicate it to making new acquaintances if that wasn’t taken yet.”
Li Ming laughed. He had liked Linghu Jiahao back then as a teacher but he wouldn’t have thought that he was this relaxed in private. While he had never seemed strict at the course, there had always been a certain distance. But maybe that was just because of the difference between work and private life.
Right now, the restaurant wasn’t that busy so the waiter came back in less than a minute, handing a drink to Linghu Jiahao.
He smiled at the others and at least took a sip before putting the glass down again. “Ah, I can’t help but feel a bit like the odd-one-out as the only one without a partner here. How long have the two of you been dating?”
“Just a few weeks, actually. Hence why I’m only now starting to meet his friends. You haven’t been single for the last couple of years though, have you?” He knew he probably shouldn’t ask about this. Not when this was about that ex of Li Ming’s but he just couldn’t help himself.
Li Ming had needed a long time to get over that relationship and although it seemed like that was because things had been really bad, it sure was a strange coincidence that he now met a guy who couldn’t get over the same ex even after almost half a decade. He just couldn’t help but be curious.
Linghu Jiahao sighed. “Well, I tried a few times but I realized I wasn’t ready. I’ll just … unwittingly compare. Maybe by now, I am already looking at our time together with so much nostalgia that I’m starting to forget about the bad parts.” He sighed again and shook his head. “I guess sitting at a table with three of his exes, you can also imagine it wasn’t all sunshine and roses. It’s just that … the good times we had were a lot more and I really miss that.
“Also, it’s hard to get over him when he only ever dates for a short while. Makes me feel like he hasn’t found what he’s looking for yet so I can’t help but hope that he’ll come back because he realizes I could be it.” He scoffed. Clearly, he didn’t really believe that but he hoped that it would happen nonetheless.