The next day in the mortal world came soon. Zhong Gang and Shao Chen both went to their respective work and didn’t come to the teahouse again. But their children, as if they had agreed on it, ran there first thing in the morning.
Was that the power of love?
Most certainly, because the third person to hurry to the teahouse — and the one who managed to arrive even before the two of them — was Qiu Ling. He stepped into the teahouse with a bright smile and happily skipped to his place at the side of the room.
Today is the day you’ll pay, damn bastard! I’ll make you show your true colors in front of Jing He!
Madam Zhong brought him a cup of tea and examined his face. He looks somehow … gleeful? “What did you plan this time?”
Qiu Ling swept the grin off his face in the blink of an eye. “What are you talking about, mother-in-law? I just came here to support your teahouse.” He fluttered his eyelashes, but only got an empty look back. Oh, right, I still have that other appearance …
He peeked to the entrance, but nobody could be seen. With a mischievous smirk, he returned to his original appearance and continued. That had always worked on his other mother-in-law! Handsomeness was the best weapon a man could use!
Madam Zhong jerked. “What are you doing? What if anyone had seen?”
Qiu Ling leaned over the table and smiled happily. “There’s no one there, don’t worry. Besides, don’t you like seeing my original appearance? Isn’t it so much more handsome? You must be thrilled getting such a handsome son-in-law!”
Madam Zhong looked him up and down. He was indeed handsome, but his personality … Did she really want her son to marry someone like that? No, wait! Why was she even thinking about that? Her son was only seven!
She frowned and put the cup down in front of him with a clunk. “Didn’t I already tell you yesterday? I won’t have to think about that for at least another ten years.”
“Don’t worry, mother-in-law, I’ll look the same ten years from now, so you can slowly start thinking about it.” He picked up the cup with a big smile on his face and started to drink without noticing Madam Zhong’s strange look.
Hasn’t Nie Huang brewed that tea just now? How come he drinks it like that? There is still steam floating up continuously. It should be really hot.
Well, there were a lot of perks to having the sturdy body of a dragon. But pretending to be human wasn’t one of them.
Madam Zhong shook her head and went back to the kitchen. He’s immortal, she told herself, there’s nothing strange about being a bit different from other people. Not in her wildest dreams would she have imagined that Qiu Ling hadn’t been human to begin with.
Meanwhile, Qiu Ling changed back to the grim looking man just in time for Shao Hai’s arrival. The boy ran over to the preparation room without noticing the malicious stare directed at him.
Just when he entered another little shadow skipped into the teahouse. This time, it was Guanyu. She wore a white and orange dress today and her hair was made into two pigtails. If one didn’t know her, she definitely made the impression of being a sweet, lovely girl that couldn’t hurt a fly.
Hmph. Qiu Ling ignored her after a dissatisfied glance. Was she even worth his time? No, he should concentrate on that other pest. Taking him out was more urgent. Regarding the girl, he had prepared enough in the last couple of years. Jing Yi wouldn’t fall for her.
Meanwhile in the preparation room Shao Hai hugged Jing Yi, smiling from ear to ear. “Jing Yi!” They had only seen each other yesterday, but he had already missed him terribly.
“Brother Shao Hai!” Jing Yi hugged him back, smiling just as widely as the other boy.
They held each other for a moment, before Shao Hai stepped back and took Jing Yi’s hands. “How about I take you to my home today? Then you can come over whenever you want to play!”
Jing Yi wanted to accept, but shook his head in the end. “I can’t. Mommy wants me to smile at the customers.”
Shao Hai blinked and tilted his head. “Why that?”
“She said, they would like it!” He didn’t really understand why, but if it made his mother happy, he would just do so.
Shao Hai pursed his lips. He considered asking Madam Zhong if it was alright to take Jing Yi away today again. She had seemed nice, so she probably wouldn’t reject. But in the end, he still decided otherwise. Working was really important. His father had told him that very often. If Jing Yi had to work, then it was like that. “How about I help you smile at the customers? Then you’ll be finished sooner!”
Shao Hai pulled him outside to start their ‘work’ right away. Unfortunately, there weren’t many customers they could smile at: At the back of the room sat the old woman that had come with her daughter-in-law yesterday, just that this time there was a young man sitting next to her that seemed quite weary. And of course, there was Qiu Ling at the opposite side of the room. It was just … next to him sat an annoyed Guanyu.
While he had wanted to ignore her, he had been the only customer in the teahouse when she came by. Guanyu hated waiting and considering how she had grown up, she wouldn’t set one foot into the servants’ rooms if she didn’t have to. As such, she had of course turned to Qiu Ling to question him.
“Where his brother Jing Yi?”, she asked once again, but she didn’t even get a glance in return.
Though, Qiu Ling was answering her in his thoughts. Kind of. Damned brat, go away! What if my love comes back and sees us together? He’d avoid me even more! Come on, get up and go annoy the old woman over there. Doesn’t she like children? Just go already!
But Guanyu didn’t even consider that. “I asked you, where brother Jing Yi is!” She slapped the table and furrowed her brows. As long as Jing Yi wasn’t there, she didn’t have to pretend to be a gentle and refined girl. If this man still didn’t answer her, she’d start screaming! And maybe she’d scratch him, too.
Of course, Qiu Ling’s worst imagination came true: Just at that moment Jing Yi and Shao Hai stepped out of the preparation room and saw them.
Jing Yi clutched Shao Hai’s arm, shrinking beside him as soon as he saw Guanyu. He was even more afraid of her than he had been of the girls in the village. Shao Hai patted his head.
“Don’t worry. With me around, she won’t be able to hurt you!” He didn’t know what Guanyu had done, but he had never liked her anyway. Now he was really against her. She should just try hurting his Jing Yi! He’d show her!
Qiu Ling tensed seeing the boys so close. Oh no. I made a great mistake. I shouldn’t have given them any time together! Where is Yi Zan’s sister? Why hasn’t she brought her son yet?
While he thought about that, he made another mistake: Guanyu noticed him tensing up and staring at the other side of the room. She turned around and saw Jing Yi. Her face lit up and she leapt from the chair, running over as fast as she could. Yes, she had forgotten her image once again.
“Brother Jing Yi!” She smiled widely and wanted to hug him, too. After all, what that Shao Hai could do she could, too, right? She extended her arms.
Shao Hai hugged Jing Yi and pulled him out of the way. Guanyu fell to the ground. She lay there, stunned once again. How many times had she fallen this week? Four times? Five? Why was this always happening? And always in front of her Prince Charming?!
She started punching the floor and bawling her eyes out.
The old woman couldn’t take it anymore. She stood up and walked over, standing before the boys with arms akimbo. “What do you think you are doing? The poor girl! Look, how she’s crying now! Shouldn’t you help her up?”
Shao Hai pursed his lips and just hugged Jing Yi a little tighter. “She scared brother Jing Yi!”
“Aiya, how can you be like this? You should yield a little to girls.”
“Why should I?” Shao Hai didn’t see reason.
“How will you marry one of them if you’re like this?”
The old woman couldn’t help herself and laughed. Young children sure were naive! She couldn’t wait having such a cute grandchild herself. “You won’t? But you have to marry.”
Shao Hai pursed his lips. “Then I’ll marry brother Jing Yi!” He turned around to Jing Yi, cupped his cheeks and leant in.
A big, moist smack was given.
No, that wasn’t another cup breaking. This was the sound of Qiu Ling’s heart shattering. His love’s first kiss … was stolen by another man.