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Chapter 8.1: To Turn from Pa.s.sive to Active Behaviour
An Ning has always wanted to ask Xu Mo Ting about that letter but she was afraid she will not be able to express herself appropriately on this kind of matter …… Then it’ll be game over.
In theory, she did not remember that she had ever received his letter. Because she was bad at remembering people, so it was logical that she has forgotten: He gave but she forgot. However when she received letters from others, she usually will reply. Even if to reply ‘I am sorry’ …… she always felt something was wrong, yet she cannot find the loophole.
“Earth calling!” A female colleague smilingly patted the person who was lost in thought, “An Ning, I am really sorry. The people in the business department have all gone, so I have no choice but to drag you to accompany me to go to hold a welcoming dinner on behalf of the big boss, okay? I’ve talked to your department head to give you a day off tomorrow.”
It did not matter to An Ning. If you calculate, she was the one who benefited. They arrived at a famous restaurant in the city centre at half past six. The boss’s surname is He, from Hong Kong. He is about 40 years old, mature and earnest. He spoke reasonably, accordingly and there was no shortage of humor. There was also a few of his mainland high-ranking officials and business a.s.sociates sitting at the table.
After the female colleague toasting everyone around the table, An Ning also accompanied her to drink a lot of beverages. The VIPs present could be regarded as open-minded, since they did not force the little girl to drink alcohol. A high official even joked with the female colleague by saying: “Manager Chu rarely brings little girl here, so I am quite pleased. Previously Xiao Zhang from your business department can drink a lot, ah. When I see him, I also feel scared ——”
Everyone laughed. When a person led by a waiter, came in midway, An Ning was stunned and straightened her back immediately. Boss He got up and shook hand with him. When Zhou Jin Cheng sat down, he inevitably glanced at her. However, he did not say anything.
He obviously was familiar with these people. Someone poured wine for him: “Jin Cheng, didn’t you say you were having dinner with Mr. Gao just now?”
Zhou Jin Cheng smilingly replied: “I have not seen all of you for a quite a while, so I come over to say hi. Why? Don’t welcome me ah?”
“How can you say that? Diplomat Zhou making an appearance, there’s not enough time for us to set off the gun salute.”
In the midst of laughter and noise, someone asked the rather quiet Meow Meow, “Is little girl doing interns.h.i.+p in Long Tai? You look about the same age as my daughter. Twenty years old yet?”
An Ning did not know whether this was considered a praise or a derogatory remark, so she just replied “Yes, doing interns.h.i.+p.”
Chu Qiao can’t help explaining: “Boss Chen, An Ning is a post-graduate research student in a prestigious university and is working in our Laboratory Division now. She is pretty capable, so don’t look down upon her.”
The other person burst into loud laughter: “I don’t dare!” He turned to praise boss He: “Long Tai has many talented people ah!”
He Tian Lian was also not modest: “Mainland China is a place propitious for giving birth to outstanding talented people.”
Over here, a certain government official asked Zhou Jin Cheng, “Do you’ve friendly relations with people from the Xu family?”
“Can be considered so.”
Boss Chen: “I heard the crown prince of the Xu family is in your work unit?”
Jin Cheng smilingly said: “He relied entirely on his capability to get hired. A young man who is accustomed to being proud and arrogant. He doesn’t really respect me.”
Uh, how come seemed familiar? At this moment, An Ning’s mobile phone started ringing. Because she was sitting inside, so it was inconvenient to get out. Since the people at the table was busy chatting, it shouldn’t matter that she was also chatting on the phone, “h.e.l.lo?”
The other party’s voice was gentle and polite: “Where are you?”
“Dinner party ……”
“Why at that kind of place?” He seemed a little dissatisfied, but Xu Mo Ting has always taken care not to overdo things. In the end, he merely said: “Don’t just eat greasy food, eat some rice. Also, don’t drink alcohol.”
Uh, this is called take care not to overdo things? An Ning was thinking that it seemed that every time she also has to inform her whereabouts truthfully, such disequilibrium, “What are you doing?”
The other party seemed to laugh softly: “In the university’s swimming pool, together with Zhang Qi and others. Don’t worry, there is no female.”
I did not worry ah ……
“When will it probably end?”
“I can go back on my own.” Self-reliance is a must.
The other party muttered to himself irresolutely: “Okay.”
After An Ning hung up the phone, she heard someone was saying: “I’ve seen this Xu family’s only son. Only twenty-five years old but quite harsh in doing things and strict in enforcement. He’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the future ——”
Harsh? An Ning can’t deny this was familiar-sounding. Of course, she will not admit that she had thought …… uh, Xu Mo Ting is still quite modest and courteous. At this time, boss Chen who was overcome with emotion said: “I’ve dealt with him once before —— this Xu Mo Ting really handles matters without considering others’ feelings, not the slightest bit accommodating. I told him I am his father’s old friend. Do you know how this youngster replied me? He’ll always welcome me to call on his father to talk about old times.”
An Ning choked. Zhou Jin Cheng who was by her side quickly poured a gla.s.s of water for her and asked if she was okay?
“All right, all right.” Just that, suddenly she was not able to imagine the huge disparity ……
“Diplomat Zhou, this is the first time that I’ve seen you being so attentive to a girl ah.”
Zhou Jin Cheng just laughed without saying anything.
The dinner party ended around eight o’clock. Chu Qiao wanted to send her home but An Ning declined politely by saying there is bus at the intersection. Remembering there were still a few bosses around, she did not insist but told her to take care. An Ning has just arrived at the bus stop when a car stopped beside her. Zhou Jin Cheng stuck his head out of the car: “I’ll send you home, okay?”
An Ning was a bit surprised because he has just promised a certain boss to go to somewhere for some activities, “No need ……”
“Get in, cars are coming from behind.”
Sure enough, two cars were coming from behind. The other side of this one-way street was closed for repair. Truly …… has no choice. Ultimately, clenching her teeth, she got into the car, “Little …… uncle, sorry to trouble you.”
He seemed to frown, “Better to call my name, won’t sound so awkward.”
Zhou Jin Cheng? Would it sound impolite ……
When he held out his hand, An Ning was startled and shrank away from him. Zhou Jin Cheng halted his action, then withdrew his hand. The scene became a little awkward.
“Well …… I have not seen uncle for quite a while.” An Ning cautiously brushed back her bangs and smiled.
Zhou Jin Cheng was paying attention to the road ahead, so after a long time, he said: “I am sorry.”
An Ning bowed her head and thought for a moment. Then she shook her head, “No need, I seem to have forgotten already.”
It was true that An Ning has forgotten about Zhou Jin Cheng since they’ve not seen each other for several years.
The origin of their relations.h.i.+p was due to her immaturity during the time of her parents’ divorce, shouting and crying. Thus he was responsible to take her away. In short, an accident happened. She fell from the car and stayed in the hospital for about two months. Oh, really humiliating.
Both also did no say anything anymore all the way.
When An Ning returned to the dormitory, her cousin called to say that she could not come to her city to look for her on the 29th of this month, “I have a cold. The people from the headquarters came over for training a few days ago —— Aiya, this group of opium smokers cannot just smoke in the tea room but have to walk around with the cigarette in the mouth!”
An Ning: “Sister, I have a headache so I want to sleep now.”
“How come got headache again? Okay, quickly go to sleep. If it is too painful, eat some painkillers.”
An Ning slept until noon the next day before waking up. Luckily she was off on that day. When she switched on the phone, she received a few messages. One of them was “The laboratory on the 1st floor of building 1 can be used. If there is any problem, come and find me.”
Mao Mao who was sitting next to her, kept looking at her and shook her head: “No, no, little girl cannot always smile in front of the Blackberry like a cat in heat. Come and read NP (N persons – a girl or a guy with several partners) text with me.”
An Ning: “……”
Xu Mo Ting rarely lived in the dormitory. Firstly, his house was situated nearer to his workplace. Secondly, there was nothing important in the university until now. Because of private matters, he was already used to “return to university” frequently nowadays. When he came back today, he was invited by his idle brothers (when men are good friends, they refer to each other as “brother”) to have dinner at a restaurant. Indeed, he was a little hungry.
The moment Lao (prefix used before a numeral indicating the order of birth in a family or to indicate affection or familiarity) San (3) sat down, he pushed leader (leader of a group or boss. I chose to use leader to differentiate from the real boss who is your superior) Xu’s arm: “Mo Ting, one of the most pretty girls in the Department of Foreign Languages is 10 metres away and devouring the view of your back.”
Zhang Qi spurted out the tea in his mouth: “Can’t you not say something like that while I am drinking?!” He followed his line of sight and cannot help but shook his head, “The expression in the eyes is really —— tell her our leader is taken, so please conduct herself with dignity.”
Lao San: “What a pity, why such a beautiful woman does not even look at me? Otherwise, I’ll turn over a new leaf immediately!”
Zhang Qi: “Aiya, it is obvious that sister-in-law (when men are good friends, they refer to each other as “brother” so the wife is known as “sao zi” which means sister-in-law) is a lot prettier than her.”
Xu Mo Ting quite enjoyed him praising his ‘wife’ but he did not say anything. It is sufficient for him to know what is good. Just like, the dishes from this restaurant is someone’s favourite food.
Zhang Qi smiled at him and said: “Ever since you exposed yourself in that compet.i.tion, it could be said your reputation is on the rise. Hence this kind of troublesome matter occurred. Should I say you are fortunate or unfortunate?”
Xu Mo Ting merely curved the corner of his mouth: “It is enough that someone will feel guilty.”
At this moment, someone who was coming out from the dormitory, sneezed twice.
Mao Mao: “Meow Meow, someone is thinking of you.”
An Ning: “Are you thinking of me?”
Qiang Wei interrupted: “She will only be thinking of man.”
Mao Mao: “This is how we practice to be close friends.”
The three of them have just came out of the dormitory, they already ran into two foreign exchange students who were asking for directions. Mao Mao pushed aside the two persons beside her and enthusiastically stepped forward to direct, “Go this way, then go that way …..” Five minutes later, the two of them looked confused …… To prevent more and more people stopping to watch, Qiang Wei quickly went up to say a few words and pulled Mao Mao away. She was dissatisfied and complained: “They’ve started to understand so why did you interrupt ah?”
After walking into the restaurant, Qiang Wei finally lost her patient: “Merely two men.”
Mao Mao: “You are right! Merely two men, but handsome and also foreign breeds!”
Qiang Wei groaned: “Like that also considered handsome? Meow Meow, do you think they are handsome?”
An Ning was deep in thought so she replied indifferently: “Yes, handsome.”
Mao Mao looked up to the sky and kept on laughing.
Someone called out, “Sister-in-law!” Mao Mao and Qiang Wei turned around together. Someone did not notice, until Qiang Wei pulled the hem of her clothes. When An Ning recovered her composure, her line of sight met with someone who was seated on the sofa booth, what a coincidence.
Zhang Qi who was all smile has already got up, came over and greeted her like they were very familiar with each other: “You have also come here to eat dinner. Sister-in-law, do you want to sit together?”
An Ning was truly embarra.s.sed by this appellation. She was about to say no, but the action of her friends were not supporting her intention. Mao Mao scrambled for the seat by the window and sat down. Then she beckoned enthusiastically to her.
She did not know if it was intentional or accidental, as the only seat left was next to Xu Mo Ting. After An Ning went over and sat down, she smiled at him.
He looked at her with a natural expression, “Eating dinner so late?”
“Because there was two experiments in the afternoon.” He wore a black thin cardigan today making him looked compelling and formidable. He also appeared a bit cool.
Mo Ting sensed her attention and his mouth curved into a smile. He took her hand under the table and slowly put it on his knee. Then his thumb gently stroked the back of her hand.
On the other hand, the two men and two women have finished introducing themselves. Lao San took a closer look at Qiang Wei : “Hi pretty girl, you look familiar ah.”
Zhang Qi laughed: “She is this year talent contest’s second runner-up but she has achieved far greater fame than the champion!”
Qiang Wei made a modest remark: “It’s lonely at the top.”
Suddenly Lao San realized, “You’re the person, leader is backing?” Then he sighed and shook his head: “Indeed, you are from sister-in-law’s side of the family, what a cover up!”
Qiang Wei did not mind this, but felt quite proud of it: “Our family’s Meow Meow has always been loved by all.”
Zhang Qi sucked up to her by saying: “Of course! Just now an ordinary grade girl tried in vain to spy upon the leader. She should be aware of her own worth. I fully support sister-in-law!”
“All right.” Mo Ting spoke slowly which sounded a little like a warning to put a stop to the conversation.
Zhang Qi very cleverly raised his hand to call the waiter over to order food, as a way to change the topic: “By the way, sister-in-law just said who is handsome?”
“……” Was this man intentional? However the person sitting next to her seemed like he was not paying attention. An Ning felt she has over thought, “Oh …… two foreign exchange students.”
Mao Mao: “Foreigners ah, warrior ah, muscle ah, perfect ah!” Then she asked Zhang Qi: “You are also not bad ah. Do you’ve a girlfriend?”
An Ning quietly turned her head. Qiang Wei was patiently restraining some kind of impulse.
Zhang Qi: “Already got.”
When Mao Mao heard he was already taken, she sighed, “I was not when you were born, I don’t have when you have.” (Mao Mao changed the second stanza of a cla.s.sic Chinese love poem in the Tang dynasty called I Was Not When You Were Born, You Were Old When I Was Born.《君生我未生，我生君已老》)
Lao San laughed irrepressibly, then said: “Why don’t you ask me ah?”
Mao Mao: “One glance already knew you don’t have la.”
Lao San: “……, little girl ——”
Mao Mao: “Do I look very little?”
Lao San: “Okay, big girl ——”
Mao Mao: “Do I look very big?”
Lao San: “…… rogue!”
Mao Mao was about to speak, but An Ning wisely prevented by saying: “What do you plan to do after dinner?” Mao Mao’s rogue trilogy was: “Lie down on the bed, undress and spread open the legs.” She was certain Mao Mao will dare to say that on any occasion.
“We don’t have any plan yet, but Mo Ting may be busy with work. Sister-in-law, do you have any suggestions?” Zhang Qi was laughing when asking this.
No suggestions. An Ning found it difficult to answer. Since she started it, so she has to reply. After racking her brain, she asked: “Want to go and watch a movie?”
The four voices all agreed, except Xu Mo Ting. He said to her in a low voice, without regard for others: “They can go but you stay behind to keep me company.”
An Ning’s heart skipped a beat but calmed down right away. She looked at the expressions of all those people around her and felt a bit lacking in strength. In the end, she did not know how she turned to a strange line of thought: Rather than being embarra.s.sed herself, might as well let other people be embarra.s.sed. Thus, she moved sideways and kissed the corner of someone’s mouth: “Okay.”
Later, Zhang Qi has a frank discussion with Xu Mo Ting: “Your family is really …… power of eruption very high ah!”
Xu Mo Ting stopped typing on his laptop and was thinking of something. Then he casually asked: “How was the movie yesterday?”
Zhang Qi gave a bitter laugh: “I can only say that sister-in-law’s friends are too valiant. However, Lao San and I cannot understand why they will shriek whenever two men looked at each other for more than two seconds in the movie?”