After that confirmation in the previous chapter that our hero does love our girl, we get to see the more caring side of him. And also, even Ming Xing has a revelation that she doesn’t expect. A secret is almost out today in the form of this chapter. But is too late already?
Chapter 2 (Part III): A Shining Star.
Han Xue Zhao was watching Ming Xing staring out of the window of his car. They’d stopped at a red light, and he noticed that she’s playing with her fingers.
It’s a habit of hers when she’s nervous. He smiled to himself, feeling reassured that there’s at least something of her that he felt familiar with.
This Ming Xing is so different from the person he’d known. That incessantly chatty girl has disappeared into oblivion, leaving behind a calm and mature young woman who seems more like a stranger.
“Have you eaten anything?” he asked her.
She seemed startled. “Uh, no, I didn’t.”
“We’ll first go eat,” he informed her, and his disapproval was clear in his voice. She’s still the same, forgetting the entire world when she’s doing her work. He remembered that she used to be that way when she’s reading a book.
He drove her to a high-end restaurant and stopped his car there. She looked at the place as if lost in thought. “This place seems so familiar!” she whispered softly.
He nodded. “This was the cafe where we used to eat after the classes were done.”
She gasped in recognition. “Oh, you mean the cafe with the thatched bamboo roof and cement tables? How’s the Aunty who used to be the cook here? Her egg noodles used to be so tasty!”
“Aunty sold this place away to a corporate firm which has taken over the furnishing of the cafe. She was admitted in the hospital recently, but she’s fine. But the menu is still the same. And what’s more is that Auntie’s daughter now cooks the same egg noodles!” said Xue Zhao, his lips stretching into an unwilling smile.
It seemed as though Ming Xing is coming to life right in front of his eyes. He felt as though he’s watching the birth of a flower, slowly opening it’s petals to reveal its full glory.
“Shall we go in?” asked Xue Zhao, opening the door for her.
Ming Xing smiled and entered the restaurant. The old cement tables were replaced with expensive rosewood furniture. But the red tapestries which used hang are still there and of course, the aroma wafting in the restaurant is still the same as it was ten years ago.
The restaurant was bustling with people and she wasn’t sure that a table would be available for them. But a young woman wearing a chef’s uniform came running over to them and bowed to Xue Zhao. “Xue Zhao, your private room is ready!” said the chef.
“Thank you, Mao Mao!” replied he, smiling a little.
Mao Mao’s eyes then fell on Ming Xing and she gasped in recognition. “You… Ming Xing!”
Ming Xing nodded, feeling a bit shy. The patrons in the restaurant were all staring at her and some of them recognized her as the T.V. Anchor of the ‘Open Heart’.
But more than that, she knew who Mao Mao is. She’s the daughter of the Auntie who used to own this place. “Hi, Mao Mao! It’s been a long time!”
Mao Mao seemed to be on the verge of tears as she led them to their private room. It was an elegant room with simple but stylish furnishing.
“What would you like to have?” Mao Mao asked them both.
“I’ll have my usual Egg Noodles and pork chops,” said Xue Zhao.
“And you, Ming Xing?”
“I’ll have whatever he’s having,” Ming Xing said, her voice barely a whisper.
Once Mao Mao left, Ming Xing felt that she couldn’t face the burning stare directed at her from the other side of the table. She nervously played with her fingers and enjoyed the silence that conquered the atmosphere of the room.
Once again, it was Xue Zhao who broke the silence. “Liu Jin and Wei Xiao Xi are getting married.”
Ming Xing nodded. “I know. I met Xiao Xi in the afternoon today,” she said, smiling slightly.
“Are you attending it, then?”
Ming Xing nodded. “Do you know where it’s being held?” he asked her, a bit mockingly.
She shook her head sheepishly. “No,” she said, softly.
“I’ll come to pick you up that day. Where will you probably be?”
“Um, in the office. But there’s no need for you to go through so much of trouble!”
“It’s not an issue. After all, we’re old friends and we ought to help each other,” he cited his reason calmly.
The waitress entered and served them their meal. When Ming Xing saw the Egg Noodles, she smiled. They still gave out the same aroma! But her face contorted into a grimace when she saw that they still served the egg the same way as they did ten years ago. Scrambled egg was generously splattered in the noodles, but it was the boiled egg that troubled her the most. Ming Xing never ate the egg yellow and always had only egg white!
Suddenly, his chopsticks picked up the egg yellow from her bowl. She looked up in surprise but he was acting as though it’s normal. Then he picked the egg white from his bowl and put it in hers.
She looked down to swallow back her tears that threatened to spill from her eyes and felt that this is the tastiest meal she’d ever eaten.
Once they finished eating, they prepared to leave. Ming Xing frowned. “But, we didn’t pay the bill!” she exclaimed.
He acted as though he didn’t listen to what she said, as he got up and extended his hand to her. As if it’s an instinct, she took his hand and was shocked by the contact.
Ten years ago, she’d held this hand without any scruple but now, this small gesture seems so much more.
She tried to extricate her hand from his, but he held on firmly. They walked hand-in-hand out of the restaurant. It’s already late in the night now, and he quietly drove her to her serviced apartment building.
She secretly took out her phone. She had a hunch and she wanted to conform it.
She searched up the restaurant’s name in the internet and found that it’s now being operated by Han Enterprises and Holdings. This… it has to be a coincidence. She hesitated before touching the link to the company’s name.
The CEO of the Han Enterprises in question is Han Xue Zhao.
She felt the breath knock out of her. Why? If he truly didn’t care about the past, why did he still retain a place that held so many of their memories together?
She looked at him in a daze, as he drove oblivious to the turmoil of emotions that she’s undergoing.
Once they reached the destination, he brusquely said, “Take care. Good night.”
She nodded hazily and stepped out of the car. The car outside didn’t leave until she disappeared from view. In fact, the car didn’t leave even after a long time.
Han Xue Zhao tried to calm his racing heart that refused to slow down. Everything’s happening the same way it did ten years ago.
Loving her isn’t a choice. It’s a guilty pleasure that most of the times felt like a compulsion.
Boy, you’re SO in love with her that I can almost see the tiny hearts fluttering out of you! *sighs*
Listen to Asianbolt Unni, and go get your girl.
So, we had a pleasant chapter without much angst as Ming Xing gets to know the sweet gesture made by Xue Zhao. But if he goes around doing such things behind her back, when’s going to get the credit and also his girl? Trust me, I’m not willing to wait until you both grow old and realize that you’re crazy for one another.
Okay, coming back to the point, we’ve seen some major developments in this chapter. And I’m glad that Ming Xing has started guessing that Xue Zhao’s still in love with her. It’s like the plot has accelerated and we get to skip potential angsty moments which none of us are willing to put up with, I’m sure! I’m glad that the story’s still tight and gives us a good dose of everything in it’s right proportions.
And of course, I totally thank you readers for the support that is being extended out here and hope that you will continue to comment and express your views on every chapter that I keep posting because I aim to establish dialogue between all of us and also get to see what each one of you is thinking about a particular moment in this chapter.
P.S. I wouldn’t mind if you guys start debating right here either! I know that it’s too early. But Just sayin’ 😉