After having finished discussing the matter with the blind date, the five of them changed the subject, just sharing some anecdotes about their lives while eating and drinking. By the time they finally left the restaurant, it was already late at night.
Li Ming looked up at the sky, quietly standing on the sidewalk.
Zhao Chen also stopped next to him, taking a glance at his face. Today, he had seen another facet of Li Ming and he was happy to have had that opportunity.
After a moment, Li Ming retracted his gaze and turned to his boyfriend as well. “So, how was it? I hope not too awkward?” He felt like Zhao Chen had relaxed a lot over time and had even seemed to enjoy himself at the end. Still, he’d rather make sure.
Zhao Chen nodded. “Not bad. At first, I didn’t really know what to talk about so I was happy that brother Si and sister Tong took over. Then after that, it didn’t seem so difficult anymore to get along.”
Li Ming chuckled. “Yes, Si Tao is somebody who gets along easily with people. I’ve seen him chat people up and get them involved in a conversation that lasts five hours and ends up with them feeling like they are best friends for life. He sure has a talent in that regard.”
Zhao Chen laughed out loud and put his arm around Li Ming’s shoulder. “Well, I can imagine. He’s quick on his feet when it comes to thinking, doesn’t value his face too much when he feels that it’s worth it to abandon it for a bit, and has a wide range of things he can talk about.
“Honestly, I’m a lot less surprised that he’s so successful at this age now that I’ve met him. I guess some people are just different from others. It’s nice to see that he’s so down-to-earth despite that.”
Li Ming nodded. They hadn’t talked about work much save for Tong Lan’s ideas for the future but Si Tao’s attitude about every aspect of life shone through no matter what you were talking about. He was somebody that people genuinely enjoyed being around.
“Well, I’m glad that you like him. Admittedly, he’s not my best friend but he is also somebody who was there for me when I had a tough time after my break-up back then and we’re keeping in contact regularly. So … I’m glad the two of you got along so well.”
Zhao Chen nodded. “Yeah, me too. I hope it’ll be the same with your other friends.” He looked down the street and couldn’t help but give a hum. “I guess next, I should introduce you to some of my friends though.”
“I wouldn’t mind. We just need a time when everyone is able to meet up.”
Zhao Chen gave a hum and then fell silent. After a moment, he glanced at Li Ming. “Say … knowing that your ex is dating again …”
Li Ming smiled wryly. Honestly, he had hoped this wouldn’t come up. But then, he had just mentioned the break-up again so, of course, Zhao Chen would think about it. He sighed and shook his head. “I can’t say I’m surprised. He … also moved on really fast.”
His eyes narrowed when he mentioned that. Actually, he hadn’t understood back then as well but with Mo Fang’s track record of bad relationships and with how young he had gotten into his first one, he had figured this was simply about him having bad luck and a not-so-good taste in men. Of course, later on, he realized that it wasn’t that simple.
He hadn’t thought about it before but this was probably why he had reacted so strongly when Zhao Chen told him the other day that he moved on fast. Subconsciously, it had reminded him of Mo Fang and what had happened between them so he had used that experience to measure Zhao Chen’s behavior. If he was honest, he almost would have jumped to breaking up that day. It was only because they sat down to discuss things calmly that he took a step back and realized he was behaving ridiculously.
He didn’t mention that part to Zhao Chen and just continued with the topic at hand. “Anyway, I’m just … surprised he has been with somebody for that long. I know that I was an exception when it came to the length of his relationships and now … he has been dating that guy even longer than me. That … makes me feel strange.”
Zhao Chen looked at him and kept quiet for a moment. He knew he probably shouldn’t say anything but, in the end, he couldn’t help but speak up after all. “You’re jealous.”
He had thought that immediately when he saw Li Ming’s expression back in the restaurant after Linghu Jiahao mentioned the matter. Naturally, he wouldn’t make a fuss about it in front of the others but he wouldn’t forget it either. No, even though he wasn’t somebody who liked overthinking matters, this was one of the few moments where he felt it necessary to talk things through. Otherwise, it would leave them vulnerable later on.
Li Ming opened his mouth to refute but finally couldn’t do it. No, deep down, he knew that Zhao Chen was right. He shook his head and sighed deeply, stopping again. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s alright.” Zhao Chen rubbed his neck and motioned down the street. “You don’t have to say anything now. Just … think about it and let’s talk it over when you’re ready.”
Li Ming shook his head again. “No need. I can already tell you how it is now: I am indeed jealous. Knowing that our relationship didn’t work out but that he is now with somebody for such a long time … it makes me feel that I simply wasn’t enough. Which … is ridiculous considering I was the one who broke up with him and not the other way around.”
Yes, he had no reason to feel this way, and yet … he still did. Mo Fang had always had a way to make him feel the strangest things so maybe he shouldn’t be surprised at all.