This time, when Li Shi returned to the capital, he brought his dowry with him too. Although they were not considered wealthy in Lingnan, they could still get by.
After returning to the capital, Li Shi was not willing to rely on his mother-in-law to support their family. Moreover, his sweet candied fruit will grow up. As a father, he needed to prepare a dowry for his son. So, to both support their family and prepare a dowry, he decided to work and earn money.
He talked to Zhang Shi about the matter, and although he didn’t oppose the idea, he said that he and his mother-in-law could still support the two of them. It didn’t matter how much money he made; what mattered was Li Shi finding something to do.
Before coming to the capital, most of Li Shi’s attention was on Xu Mu’s body. However, his wife’s passing was always in the back of his mind. Although he no longer grieves for her like before, he often wakes up in the middle of the night to sneakily wipe away tears.
But this time, when Xu Mu caught an illness, Li Shi had finally put all of his attention and heart on his son. He became less depressed and wholeheartedly began to put all of his efforts into making their lives more comfortable.
After seeing this change in his father, Xu Mu’s heart finally relaxed. When he was around 12 years old, his father became seriously ill. The main reason for his illness was the many years of depression and lamenting. Now that Li Shi has more hope and meaning in life, of course he wouldn’t ruin his own body.
Li Shi used his dowry money to open a small pastry shop named “Sweet Tastes” at the corner of West Street. The name represented the many flavors of life; as long as you were willing to try, you could always taste the sweetness.
**(T/N: I kinda had a tough time with translating this. The name is 甜百味 for whoever can come up with a better one :3. Or should I just leave it in pingying “Tian Bai Wei?” The whole meaning thing is basically when life gives you lemons, make lemonade type of thing.)
Near the end of the year, every family and household would give holiday greetings to one another with baskets full of food and gifts. During this time, the business of “Sweet Tastes” was not bad. Often times, Li Shi was unable to handle everything by himself.
Xu Mu, taking advantage of this busy time period, cleverly asked to help out around the shop. Because of his sudden and serious bout of illness, Li Shi was constantly worried and didn’t want his precious Mu’er to get sick again in all the snow and ice outside.
Li Shi looked down and saw Xu Mu’s tilting head, shining eyes, and gaze full of expectation. Struck by his son’s meng, he didn’t have the heart to refuse. So, knowing that his son wasn’t a naughty child, Li Shi brought him along with him the next day.
The two of them still live in a courtyard with Xu Mu’s maternal grandparents. It was not too far from “Sweet Tastes,” but it is still natural to get up early to open up the shop. When Li Shi left the courtyard, the sun had still yet to come out.
In the cold weather, Li Shi couldn’t bear to let Xu Mu get up so early. He decided to let Xu Mu sleep a little longer, and when the sky turned bright, Zhang Shi would bring him to the shop.
Xu Mu was still lying in bed as he squinted his eyes and snuggled deeper into the warm covers. He gave a yawn and squeezed out a few tears from the corners of his eyes.
When Li Shi left, he made sure Xu Mu was sleeping soundly and was covered snugly. However, the moment Li Shi stepped out of the door, Xu Mu kicked open the covers and climbed out of bed. Whenever he thought of possibly seeing Lu Feng today, he became restless. As a result, he barely slept at all last night.
He thought about meeting Lu Feng today over and over again. What should he do when he sees her? What should he say to not scare her away? Now, whenever he thinks about the person that was so warm and pampering to him being alive once more, Xu Mu’s chest would feel stuffy and his heart would twinge with pain.
Quickly putting his shoes on, Xu Mu ran in front of the closet. He pulled open the door and started to pick out clothes. He grabbed all of his new clothes out of the closet and spread them out one by one on his bed. Biting his fingers, he carefully decided what to wear. …Looking exactly like someone getting ready to meet his sweetheart.
After careful consideration, he finally settled on a red colored robe that looked extremely lovable on a child at this age.
He sat on the bed, contemplating. In this life, Lu Feng definitely wouldn’t recognize him. How can I get her to remember me? Is it even possible?
Having no ideas come up even after Zhang Shi knocked on the door to wake him up, he finally decided to give up for now. He sat up, and started to change.
Zhang Shi saw Xu Mu come out. He dotingly reached out his hand to pat his head. Holding Xu Mu’s hand, they walked towards the dining room.
Wearing red robes, Xu Mu’s already youthful face seemed to be even more tender and delicate than before. Since young, it was already clear that Xu Mu would grow up to be a charming, beautiful man. Zhang Shi was especially happy; smiling, he said, “Later, when we go to your dad’s shop, don’t run around and just stay in the shop. West Street is full of important officials; their kids are probably more naughty as well. What if they see that you’re new, and bully you?”
Xu Mu appeared to be obedient and well-behaved, however, his mind had long flown away. If not for Zhang Shi by his side, he would have already been rushing towards Lu Feng’s estate.
They did not walk for long and soon reached “Sweet Tastes.” Business was also good today, and before they arrived, Li Shi was so busy he had no time to pause for even a moment. Before, they didn’t think that their small pastry shop would become so popular in such a short amount of time, so Li Shi had no plans for hiring anyone.
Now, it seems like hiring some extra help is a must.
Zhang Shi greeted customers in the front, Li Shi was busy in the kitchen, and Xu Mu, with his bright black eyes, earnestly scanned every customers’ face. In his heart, he kept hoping that the next customer to arrive would be his Lu Feng.
However, the greater the hope the greater the disappointment. As more and more guests were seen coming and going, Xu Mu had still yet to see Lu Feng’s familiar face. Li Shi had already stopped making new pastries and was preparing to close up shop. At this time, Xu Mu could no longer wait anymore.
He told Zhang Shi that he would go out and play for a while, and that he wouldn’t go far. Zhang Shi reluctantly agreed. After all, Xu Mu was still a child and he was very obedient the entire day. He reminded Xu Mu, once again, to not run too far.
Of course Xu Mu, who has already been impatient for an entire day, wouldn’t listen to Zhang Shi. Instead, he dashed towards the Lu Manor. Despite knowing that he may not even be able to see Lu Feng at all, he still couldn’t control his own two feet from racing forward.
As he gasped for air in front of the gates of the Lu Manor, Xu Mu raised his head to look up at the painfully familiar golden plaques. His heart clenched and his eyes burned.
This was once his second home. Now, he can’t even step through the gates.
Ji Yuan was coming back from the palace when she saw a child around eight to nine years old, standing at the front gates. On horseback, she had already noticed him from far away. She habitually thought that the child was someone bullied by her unruly niece, and had come to complain to Second Brother. Unable to stop a smile, she spurred her horse forward, and prepared to ask him what bad thing Lu Feng did this time.
However, Xu Mu didn’t even give her the chance to get close; he just turned and left. Running impulsively here was foolish. If he returns home any later, he would make Li Shi worry.
After not seeing Lu Feng, Xu Mu wasn’t in a good mood. His entire person was gloomy and his mind was in a mess, unable to focus properly.
Xu Mu walked with his head down, unable to see the children that were playing nearby stop and begin to watch him.
The slightly older girl in the group gave a look to other children. Her “underlings” suddenly became excited, and ran towards Xu Mu.
In no time, Xu Mu was surrounded by a group of children that came out from who knows where.
The “underlings”encircled him, leaving Xu Mu in the middle and unable to walk forward. A girl, around six or seven years old, shouted towards the edge of the crowd with vigour: “Boss, we caught a little fat sheep. Are we going to rob him, or bully him, then rob him?”
Xu Mu: “…”
The girl referred to as the boss looked only to be about ten years of age. Swaggering, the girl folded her hands behind her back, and after a dramatic pause, she finally walked up to Xu Mu. Looking down at Xu Mu from the bridge of her nose with her tender bun-like face, she self-importantly said, “Do you have anything good to eat?”
Her height was similar to Xu Mu, but her chin was almost to the sky. Naturally, she couldn’t really look down her nose at someone her height. Maybe she felt that her neck was beginning to feel tired, but a moment later, she had someone carry over a large rock for her to stand on. Only after she stood on the rock did she raise her chin once more. With the self-imposed manner of being the boss, she said, “Hand over your food!”
The group of little underlings nearby started to chant: “Hand it over! Hand it over!”
At first sight, Xu Mu thought that the girl was familiar. Only now did he realize who it was. He suddenly wanted to face the sky and roll his eyes in exasperation to express his current mood. However, afraid that doing so would prevent him from leaving even longer, he said, “I don’t have any.”
Xu Mu came back from the Lu Manor with red-rimmed eyes, looking like he was about to cry.
The boss, with her raised chin, glanced at Xu Mu. Seeing Xu Mu’s red eyes that were as cute as a rabbit’s, the girl had no intention of giving him a hard time anymore.
She pretended to contemplate for a moment, then she said to her underlings, “The little sheep is too skinny and didn’t have enough to eat today. Once he has fattened up, we can catch him back.”
Her underlings naturally had no objections. They obediently loosened their hands and no longer blocked Xu Mu’s path.
The boss, acting as if she had given him a huge blessing and gift, proclaimed, “You can go now.”
The words had not even left her mouth yet when she heard someone say, “The Lu Small Tyrant is here! Everybody run!”
The boss standing on the rock seemed to be especially afraid of this Lu Small Tyrant. Her body trembled, and she wanted to run. However, with a twist of her ankle, she fell to the ground on her butt with a pained “ouch.”
After hearing the Lu surname, Xu Mu straightened his back. His hands that were by his side had long been clenched together, and his heart pounded wildly.
Clearly, he really wanted to see her, but now that the person was behind him, it was like his acupoints had been pressed; he just couldn’t move.
Lu Feng snuck out today only because she wanted to buy some sweets. On the way back, she saw the scene of Xu Mu being surrounded.
According to the nature of the Lu Small Tyrant, she didn’t join in, and only stuck her foot out to break them up. She really didn’t have any particular interest in fighting for injustice.
The reason why she came over was solely because the girl standing on top of the rock was Xu Yu.
This little brat dares to talk badly of her in front of her dad! See if she doesn’t settle this!
Lu Feng spit the candy in her mouth towards Xu Yu. The corner of her mouth raised up into a smirk that conveyed no good feelings. Fiddling with her sleeves, she slowly walked towards Xu Yu. “That day, what did we agree on, hmm? Whoever lost that soccer game would let the other beat them up with no complaints. You, however, actually dared to go and complain to my dad! Causing me to be locked up for half a month! Say, how are we going to settle this account?”
Xu Yu fearfully shrunk her neck. Lu Feng grabbed her collar and forced them to meet face-to-face. Xu Yu couldn’t help but say, “I didn’t complain. My dad saw my bruised face … but I didn’t say that it was you! I said that it was because I tripped and fell!
On that day, both Xu Yu’s left and right eye had similar bruises. If her dad had believed her words, then there would be ghosts.
Lu Feng looked at her through squinted eyes and questioned with a dangerous voice, “Really?”
“One hundred percent true!” Xu Yu raised three fingers to the sky and swore, looking particularly earnest. Compared to when she was standing on top of the rock just minutes ago, looking down on everyone, her image now created a sharp contrast.
Lu Feng had just let go of Xu Yu’s collar and was about the scold her a bit more when she heard someone call out her name. The voice, thick with tears and carried a bit of trembling, sounded out behind her: “Lu Feng.”
(This chapter is translated by Stumble Upon Translations)
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