It was half-past ten in the evening.
After watching two drama episodes, Murong Mingshu turned off the TV and prepared to head to bed.
At this time, Aunt Lian sent Murong Mingshu a glance before pointing her chin in Murong Shi's direction.
Seeing Aunt Lian's gesture, Murong Mingshu turned toward her daughter, who was staring into her phone on the nearby sofa, and said, "Little Shi, it's time for bed."
Murong Shi lifted her head and replied, "Okay."
Looking at Murong Shi with a warm smile, Aunt Lian asked, "Little Shi, what has gotten you so fascinated? You've been grinning all night while holding your phone. Are you chatting with Shaohua?"
Murong Shi was stunned. Had she been grinning?
The corners of her lips tensing up, Murong Shi put on an awkward smile and said, "No, Aunt Lian."
"Who else could it be if it's not Shaohua? I've never seen him even once after staying here for so long. Do you have a picture of him on your phone? Can you let me take a look?"
Jiang Shaohua's photo...was something Murong Shi didn't have on her phone.
With no better options, Murong Shi frankly said, "Sorry, Aunt Lian, but I don't have his photo."
Puzzled, Aunt Lian asked, "Isn't he your boyfriend? Don't you two usually take photos together?"
In a relaxed tone, Murong Shi answered, "No, I don't like taking pictures very much."
Sighing ruefully, Aunt Lian said, "You've grown to become such a beautiful young lady, yet you don't like taking pictures. Even so, Shaohua really is terrible. Not only did he not give you any flowers on a day like this, but he even treated you to something as unhygienic as malatang. What kind of boyfriend is this?"
Murong Shi remained silent. This topic was her fault as she had used Jiang Shaohua as a shield to deal with her family's pressing questions. Listening to Aunt Lian's nagging now, Murong Shi couldn't help but feel sorry for him. To salvage Jiang Shaohua's reputation a little, she said, "I was the one who wanted to eat it."
Fortunately, Aunt Lian didn't think too much into the matter. Frowning, she said, "If you want to eat malatang, I'll make it for you at home next time. Restaurants outside don't usually pay much attention to hygiene."
Smiling, Murong Shi said, "I know. I rarely eat outside."
At this time, Murong Shi interjected and asked, "What do you normally eat at the company, then?"
"I order takeout."
Slapping her thigh, Aunt Lian said, "Aigoo, how can you eat takeouts every day?! Those things are all unhealthy! I'll prepare lunch one hour ahead and have someone deliver it to you from now on!"
Murong Mingshu concurred, "That's a good idea."
With her two elders speaking in tune with each other, Murong Shi didn't even have a chance to retort.
However, because of her tanned skin and plain attire, when Aunt Lian arrived at the company the next day and told Xu Xiaomei, the receptionist, she was the Murong family's nanny, Xu Xiaomei thought she was a scammer for a moment.
Unable to decide on the matter, Xu Xiaomei called the general manager's office through the internal line for verification. After explaining the situation through the phone, she heard Murong Shi saying, "Yes, she's my family's nanny. Let her in."
Learning that Aunt Lian was a member of her boss's household, Xu Xiaomei dared not dawdle. She then took the initiative to lead Aunt Lian to the general manager's office.
However, Aunt Lian revealed a bright smile and said, "No need for such trouble. Just tell me where to go, and I'll head there by myself."
"You just need to go to the second floor and head straight down the corridor. Miss Murong is in the general manager's office."
"Alright, thank you."
While holding a thermos bucket in one hand, Aunt Lian strode forward swiftly and steadily. She decided to deliver the food herself today because she was curious to see what Murong Shi's company looked like. When she came across a well-dressed male employee, she sent the man an honest smile.
After the male employee felt puzzled for a moment, he then opened the door to an office.
When Aunt Lian saw the words "Engineering Department" labeling the door, she wondered what this department was for. Before she could retract her gaze, she saw another person walking out of the office. This person, though, was female.
The other party was a young lady in her twenties, and she had soft and healthy skin. Aunt Lian liked girls like this as they looked filled with positive energy at a glance. As a result, she couldn't help but take a few more looks at the other party, not even realizing that she was very intrusive with her eyes.
The person on the receiving end of Aunt Lian's gaze started growing uncomfortable, and she said, "You are…"
Aunt Lian didn't expect the young lady to take the initiative to talk to herself. Putting on her signature honest smile, Aunt Lian said, "Hello, I'm here to find—Huh? Pretty lady! It's you!"
Xu Chuanchuan stared at Aunt Lian with a stunned look on her face. Laughing dryly, she asked, "Do we know each other?"
Aunt Lian grabbed Xu Chuanchuan's arm with her free hand, unable to contain her excitement as she said, "Don't you remember? I borrowed your phone half a month ago!"
Borrowed my phone?
Xu Chuanchuan carefully observed the person in front of her but failed to recall where she had met this person before. However, when she heard Aunt Lian's reminder, she immediately remembered the scene where a lady from the countryside had asked her and Xu Xiangxiang for help. Realization dawning upon her, she asked, "You were that Auntie who got her wallet stolen?"
"That's me! I even gave you a call afterward saying that I wanted to give you something in return, but you refused my offer no matter what."
Xu Chuanchuan was still unused to being too friendly with strangers. Smiling awkwardly, she said, "It's just a small favor. Anyway, are you here to look for someone?"
"That's right. I'm here to deliver food to Little Shi. Do you work here?"
"Mhm." Xu Chuanchuan started pondering in her mind, figuring out how many people in the company could be referred to as "Little Shi."
Releasing Xu Chuanchuan's arm, Aunt Lian held up the thermos bucket in her hand and said, "I'm really sorry, but I didn't bring any extras today. I'll make sure to bring more next time so you can try my craft."
Flattered, Xu Chuanchuan said, "No, no, you're too polite, Auntie."
"No, no, this is something I must do. Had I known where you lived, I would've long since visited you. Now that I know you work in this company, I must properly thank you!"
"Little Xu." A colleague suddenly called out to Xu Chuanchuan from inside the office.
While Xu Chuanchuan was turning back to answer her colleague, she heard Aunt Lian saying, "I'll stop bothering you now, so go ahead with your work."
Xu Chuanchuan didn't put too much thought into this chance meeting. She thought of it as nothing but a small interlude. That was, until the next day when she received an internal call from the general manager's office nearing lunchtime.
In a flat tone, Murong Shi said, "Come to my office at break time."
Xu CHuanchuan's heart thumped, and her brain spun rapidly. When she thought back to the bowl of malatang she shared with Murong Shi, she couldn't help but have a bad premonition. Did she get a stomach ache as well?
With apprehension in her heart, Xu Chuanchuan opened her mouth to speak. Unfortunately, before she could do so, the other party had already hung up.
Xu Chuanchuan: "..."
For the next half an hour, Xu Chuanchuan couldn't focus on her work no matter what. It also seemed that her lunch appointment with Chen Lina and a few other colleagues would no longer be possible, so she quickly messaged Chen Lina on WeChat and asked the other party to pack some food back for her.
Although Xu Chuanchuan didn't know whether Murong Shi was looking for a fight or there was actual work to do, she dared not drag her feet. As soon as lunchtime began, she promptly went and knocked on the general manager's office's door.
Xu Chuanchuan pushed open the door and found Murong Shi standing beside her desk, fiddling with something.
Timidly, Xu Chuanchuan called out, "Miss Murong—"
Hearing Xu Chuanchuan's voice, Murong Shi turned around, glanced at the shorter woman, and asked, "Are you hungry?"
"Huh?" Xu Chuanchuan failed to understand what was going on.
At this time, Xu Chuanchuan finally noticed what Murong Shi held in her hands were two large thermos buckets. Although these buckets looked somewhat familiar, she couldn't remember where she had seen them for the moment.
Moving the two buckets to the lounge area's coffee table, Murong Shi looked at Xu Chuanchuan's dazed expression and said, "Come here."
It was a commanding tone that wouldn't take "no" for an answer.
Xu Chuanchuan walked over and looked at the two thermos buckets. She then looked at Murong Shi's face. Although she had roughly guessed what was going on, she was still a little unsure as she asked, "What did you mean by that?"
Opening the lid of one of the buckets, Murong Shi said, "Aunt Lian cooked up a big meal for you. Let's eat together."
Xu Chuanchuan's eyes widened. She never thought that the countryside lady would be the Murong family's nanny.
After realizing the situation, Xu Chuanchuan's expression grew even more unnatural as she stammered, "But I already asked Lina to bring me food."
When Murong Shi opened the lid of the second bucket, a delectable fragrance immediately filled the room. Murong Shi then sent a casual glance at Xu Chuanchuan and asked, "Aunt Lian's craftsmanship is top-tier. Would you rather eat takeout over it?"
Xu Chuanchuan could smell the scent of sweet and sour fish, the freshness of chicken soup, and the strong fragrance of garlic. Although she forced herself not to look at the two thermos buckets, her mouth had inadvertently started salivating.
If given a choice, no normal person would choose takeout over such delicacies.
—Xu Chuanchuan was a normal person.
However, when Xu Chuanchuan thought about how she would have to share lunch with Murong Shi… She couldn't help but feel uneasy.
As if having seen through Xu Chuanchuan's thoughts, Murong Shi said, "It's not like this is the first time we're eating together. Do you think I'll eat you alive?"
"..." Xu Chuanchuan felt that she was being a little unreasonable. Awkwardly rubbing her nose, she said, "I'll wash my hands first."