After moving her unbuckled seat belt to the side, Murong Shi answered the call and greeted, "Dad."
"Dinner is almost ready. When will you be back?"
Murong Shi remained silent for a moment. Her father would almost always be out socializing every day, and it was rare for him to come home for dinner. After thinking up an excuse, she said, "I forgot to tell you guys that I still have something to do. I won't be going back for dinner."
Sun An wasn't annoyed by the reply. Instead, he asked, "Have you eaten yet, then? Do you want Aunt Lian to leave some supper for you?"
"No need. Someone's treating me. We're just about to go eat."
"Someone's treating you? Right, I just realized today is 5-20. Are you celebrating with Shaohua?"
After taking a glance at Xu Chuanchuan, who was still in a state of surprise, Murong Shi pursed her lips for a moment and somewhat reluctantly answered, "Mhm."
Not having any doubts over her daughter's answer, Sun An said, "You two have fun, then."
"Wait, your mother has something to say to you."
After waiting for nearly a minute, Murong Shi heard Murong Mingshu's voice coming through the phone, "Little Shi, are you really going to celebrate today with Shaohua?"
Noticing that Murong Mingshu had lowered her voice, Murong Shi guessed that her mother must've hidden into a room. Her two parents held differing opinions regarding her "relationship" with Jiang Shaohua, and Murong Shi couldn't help but feel frustrated when squeezed between the two of them. On the one hand, she needed to put on a good act for her father, who supported her relationship with Jiang Shaohua. On the other hand, she had to keep her mother, who was against her getting together with Jiang Shaohua, in the dark about her fake relationship. The fact that she hadn't slipped up until now was truly a miracle.
Faking a relaxed smile, Murong Shi replied, "Yes. Other couples are celebrating today, so how can we be an exception?"
"Mom, leave us alone. You should go and have your dinner. He's still waiting for me, so I'm hanging up. Bye-bye."
After storing away her phone, Murong Shi turned toward the person next to her, who had been staring at her all this time, and said, "Time to get out of the car."
Xu Chuanchuan snapped out of her daze and unfastened her seat belt.
"Are you sure you want to eat malatang?"
"Is there a problem?"
Xu Chuanchuan: "..."
Of course there was a problem. Xu Chuanchuan was trying to return a favor this time. Treating someone to beef hot pot at least sounded a little generous, but that was far from being the case for malatang.
One set of malatang only cost around a few dozen yuan. Such cheap food simply didn't match well with all the branded goods Murong Shi wore.
While Xu Chuanchuan was hesitating, Murong Shi had already begun making her way to the malatang restaurant. So, Xu Chuanchuan had no choice but to keep up.
Forget it. If she wants malatang, then so be it.
The restaurant was adequately cooled and surprisingly crowded. They even had to wait in line for a seat. While looking at the long line, Xu Chuanchuan began regretting bringing Murong Shi to this place.
Wait, no. She's the one who brought me here…
However, Murong Shi seemingly didn't mind the wait. While ignoring the curious stares she attracted after entering the store, she patted Xu Chuanchuan on the shoulder and said, "Start grabbing the ingredients."
Xu Chuanchuan grabbed an empty plate and made her way to the self-service station. After filling half of the large plate with beef, chicken, and pork, she still felt that the amount was insufficient. Just when she was about to fill the plate with more meat, a pair of tongs dove into her plate and removed half of the meat on it in a few pinches.
Xu Chuanchuan turned toward the tongs' owner and found that Murong Shi had arrived beside her at some point. After removing the meat, Murong Shi began filling the rest of the plate with all sorts of vegetables.
Confused, Xu Chuanchuan asked, "Didn't you say you wanted to eat meat?"
"Now I want to eat greens."
After picking their ingredients, they had to wait an additional dozen minutes or so before a seat opened up. By the time they sat down, Xu Chuanchuan was already famished. However, she was also too embarrassed to start gobbling down her food in front of Murong Shi.
"Do you want to add some sesame oil? It's very addictive."
"No, I don't like sesame."
"Oh…" Xu Chuanchuan accidentally bit down on a pepper, and she quickly pulled a piece of tissue paper from the nearby dispenser and spat out the pepper.
While eating, Xu Chuanchuan noticed Murong Shi eating very slowly as if she lacked an appetite. Growing anxious at this sight, Xu Chuanchuan cautiously asked, "Is it good?"
"It's not bad. You can focus on your meal. No need to mind me."
Xu Chuanchuan tried starting a conversation a few more times afterward. However, a certain someone would always respond in a cold and perfunctory attitude, so Xu Chuanchuan decided to play dumb.
This meal is torture…
Xu Chuanchuan was probably the only one suffering during the meal, though, as Murong Shi looked no different than usual. She maintained an indifferent expression throughout the meal, and she stopped eating after taking a few bites.
Xu Chuanchuan tensed up when she saw Murong Shi setting down her chopsticks. Halting all of her actions, Xu Chuanchuan asked, "Why did you stop eating?"
Murong Shi took her time wiping her mouth with a tissue. After making sure her lips were clean, she replied, "I'm full."
Xu Chuanchuan's eyes widened in bewilderment as she took a look at the huge bowl of food in front of her. She then took a look at the person across the table.
"But you've only eaten so little…"
Smiling faintly, Murong Shi said, "You can take your time and eat the rest yourself."
Murong Shi's smile was like a blooming spring flower. It was a rare and beautiful sight. While staring at Murong Shi in a daze, Xu Chuanchuan said, "How can I eat everything by myself?"
"I believe in you. Don't waste it."
"..." Xu Chuanchuan began regretting ordering so much food.
In the end, Xu Chuanchuan finished the entire bowl of food under Murong Shi's coercive gaze. Her stomach had become so bloated that she didn't drink any of the soup. She even failed to control herself and let out a burp, her face turning red from embarrassment.
Pretending as if she didn't see that, Murong Shi said, "Let's go."
This time, Xu Chuanchuan didn't get onto Murong Shi's car. The bowl of malatang she just paid for probably wasn't even enough to make up for the gas money of Murong Shi's car, and she couldn't help but feel embarrassed when she thought about this. Not to mention, riding with Murong Shi was an incredibly stressful experience.
While patting her stomach, Xu Chuanchuan awkwardly smiled and said, "I overate, so I'm thinking of walking back to help with digestion."
Murong Shi frowned at Xu Chuanchuan's words. "You're walking back?"
"Yes. I live nearby. It's only about a ten-minute walk."
"Alright, suit yourself." Murong Shi did not insist on the matter. After letting her eyes wander for a moment, her gaze landed on Xu Chuanchuan's red lips. She then bent down slightly and said, "Your lips seem to be shaking."
At such a close distance, Xu Chuanchuan could even feel Murong Shi's breath on her face. Startled by Murong Shi's approach, Xu Chuanchuan subconsciously took a step backward.
By the time Xu Chuanchuan snapped out of her daze, Murong Shi had already straightened her body. Waving at Xu Chuanchuan, Murong Shi said, "Thank you for your malatang. I'll be leaving first."
Xu Chuanchuan touched her numbed lips and said a silent "Bye-bye."
The walk home took longer than Xu Chuanchuan expected, and she ended up walking for nearly twenty minutes before she arrived back in her rented apartment. By this time, the sky had darkened completely already.
After arriving back home, Xu Chuanchuan opened her computer and saw that Ange had messaged her, inviting her to a joint writing session.
Xu Chuanchuan replied with a "Just got home" and opened her work folder.
Probably because of her bloated stomach, Xu Chuanchuan failed to find any inspiration for her writing.
Seeing that she was getting nowhere with her writing, Xu Chuanchuan decided to shower and wash off the sweat she worked up from walking home.
However, even after showering, Xu Chuanchuan still failed to find any inspiration, so she decided to just turn off her computer and fiddle with her phone on the bed. Seeing Ange's status on QQ was still set to "Busy," Xu Chuanchuan knew that the other party still hadn't finished writing. So, she decided not to disturb her.
At this time, someone tagged her in her reader group, so she switched to the group chat and took a look.
—Lord, your Darling Shi is back again. @I Love Malatang
Darling...Shi? Passerby Shi?
Xu Chuanchuan hesitated for a moment before switching to jjwxc's app and visiting her ongoing work's home page. After five days, she once again saw that familiar ID.
Xu Chuanchuan nearly burst into tears.
Fortunately, Passerby Shi's reappearance came along with a Deep-water Torpedo and not a point reduction.
This tycoon's temper really is unpredictable. Is she not angry at me anymore?
Eager to seek confirmation, Xu Chuanchuan logged back into Weibo and clicked on the familiar blue ocean profile picture.
I Love Malatang: "Thank you for sparing me, Tycoon. [Cup fist]"
There Exists No Poem in a Girl's Feelings: "You're welcome."
I Love Malatang: "I thought I angered you away..."
There Exists No Poem in a Girl's Feelings: "I was on a business trip these past few days."
I Love Malatang: "Oh."
Someone in the reader group tagged her again, and Xu Chuanchuan switched back to take a look.
—Lord, get Darling Shi to join the group! I want to chat about life with her! @I Love Malatang
Have Passerby Shi join the group?
Why didn't she think of this before?!
Xu Chuanchuan had always found messaging on Weibo to be inconvenient. Passerby Shi also had a strange temper, and Xu Chuanchuan always had a tough time coping with her. Now, there was an opportunity for her to seek backup.
I Love Malatang: "Do you use QQ? I have a reader group with a lot of cute girls inside. If you're interested, you can come in and have a chat with them~"
There Exists No Poem in a Girl's Feelings: "How do you know I'm interested in girls?"
I Love Malatang: "Isn't that normal for girls reading yuri? There are many single girls in the group, so you can also come in to find a girlfriend~"
There Exists No Poem in a Girl's Feelings: "How do you know I don't have a girlfriend?"
Xu Chuanchuan: "..."
I Love Malatang: "So you have a girlfriend… Sorry, ignore what I said…"
Several minutes later.
There Exists No Poem in a Girl's Feelings: "What's the group ID?"
After several more minutes, Xu Chuanchuan's phone vibrated as she received a request to join her reader group.
—I'm Passerby Shi.
Xu Chuanchuan felt her heart beating with excitement. After clicking "Accept," she sent a message to the group: "I've summoned the tycoon you all asked for. Flirt away~"
—Wahhh! The tycoon is here! Everyone, come and give a warm welcome!
—I'm the best at flirting, so let me do it. Newcomer, report your three sizes. Also, do you have a girlfriend?
—Is this really Darling Shi? There are six digits in her QQ ID. Heavens, how old are you, Darling Shi?
Xu Chuanchuan couldn't help herself from smiling as she sat in front of her computer.
Previously, Passerby Shi was always the one torturing Xu Chuanchuan in their conversations. Now that Xu Chuanchuan got to see a group of people grilling Passerby Shi, she couldn't help grow joyful.
Murong Shi: …
Murong Shi began regretting joining the reader group. Messages flooded her screen as soon as she joined the group, dazzling her eyes. Some people in the group even tagged her in their messages.
—Darling Shi, you're finally here! Lord says that she's straight, but we don't believe her! We suspect that you're her girlfriend! Were we right or wrong? @Passerby Shi
Murong Shi narrowed her eyes at this message. She then tapped her fingers on her phone and replied: "I'm not. She's dumb and stupid. She's also such a glutton. Even if I'm looking for a girlfriend, why should I look for her?"
malatang: Malatang is similar to hot pot, but not exactly the same.
In malatang's case, you pick your ingredients first and pay up. The staff then boils everything in soup(malatang) and serves the cooked food in a massive bowl (or a small one if you didn't order a lot of food).
In the case of hot pots, you order one (or two) soup bases, then order the ingredients as you dine. You don't have to order everything at once, and you only make payment after you are done eating.
The benefit of hot pot over malatang is that you don't have to guess how much you can eat, so you don't have to worry about ordering too much or too little. The downside is that hot pot ingredient prices are usually higher since the restaurant needs to hire more staff to bring the food to you. More service, more money.
I'm joking. I'm serious.
Anyways, we've hit our second donation goal, so ABBR is now going to have 9 releases/week:
Monday ~ Friday - 1 release/day
Saturday & Sunday - 2 releases/day
This change will take effect immediately, so expect to see double releases on Saturday as well!
To further incentivize you all to fund my gacha addiction, I have created two more goals:
Tier 3 - 500$ - +1 release per week (10 releases per week)
Tier 4 - 700$ - +1 release per week (11 releases per week)
If you would like to support the novel, read ahead (up to 20 releases), and support my goal of getting Keqing to max constellations, please visit my patreon and give me your money!
Patreon Link: https://www.patreon.com/hellscythe
Also, if I hadn't said it before, I'll say it now. Thank you. Thank you very much for supporting ABBR. :)
-Hellscythe, 10th June 2021