After they left the Street Administration Office, Jiang Lan invited Ying Qiao to his home, and he happily agreed.
But they didn’t go straight back. A detour took them to a flower and birds market.
Ying Qiao accompanied him to go from store to store, asking for a talking black myna. They went through half the market before settling on a talking black myna that fit the bill.
Jiang Lan paid for it.
Ying Qiao didn’t ask a question until they left the market with the black myna.” Why do you buy a myna? Want to adopt a pet?”
But this bird could in no way be described as cute.
Jiang Lan told him the story about Xiao Hei and Grandpa Yao.” This myna looks just like the bird Grandpa Yao had. The only problem is that this myna looks much younger. A simple appearance-altering spell should do the trick.”
While talking, he playfully poked the myna with lowered eyelashes, but his eyes still sparkled in the light.
At that moment, his face had a look that could melt the heart.
Ying Qiao used to disprove or even despise close association with humans.
He always believed that friendships between monsters and humans were hard to achieve because of irreconcilable differences, even if they are not mortal enemies. He could never understand the sacrifices Geng Chen made for the humans because he despised them.
If Geng Chen remains alive to this day, he will definitely call him an idiot in his face.
It was easy to die a clean death, but the living had to stay and suffer.
But it was very strange that Jiang Lan’s fraternizing with humans didn’t arouse any disgust in his heart. Perhaps it was because he was much more likable than Geng Chen while bearing close resemblances to Geng Chen in certain aspects.
And this time, the Little Monster was under his protection.
When Geng Chen died, Ying Qiao was not powerful enough. But these days, with his overwhelming power, he could easily beat Geng Chen in his prime. He had every confidence that he could keep the little monster out of harm’s way.
Recovering himself from his thoughts, Ying Qiao took over the birdcage.” Anything else you would like to buy?”
Pondering for a second, Jiang Lan said.” Let’s get some groceries. I will cook you a meal.”
With his eyes blinking, Ying Qiao marveled.” You know how to cook?”
Jiang Lan nodded with confidence.” I have learned how to cook!”
Ying Qiao thought he discovered another merit of the Little Monster, he knew how to cook.
In fact, Ying Qiao rarely touches human food. As a wealthy Dragon, he preferred exotic beast meat as food. But if the human food was cooked by the Little Monster, he would love to taste it.
After finishing shopping and returning home, Jiang Lan walked into the kitchen with his grocery bags in high spirits while Ying Qiao sat on the sofa, attended by Suan Ni.
Ying Qiao let little Suan Ni sit on his shoulder and walked around to look at this tiny flat.
It’s not his first time here, but his last visit was in the middle of the night, and he didn’t stay long.
This is a small flat with two bedrooms and one sitting room, measuring around 80 square meters. The sitting room and dining room are adjacent. Carton boxes of every description took up a lot of space.
Ying Qiao was shocked to discover that these boxes were instant noodles of different flavors.
“You guys eat only noodles?”
Suan Ni denied it in a solemn voice.” Of course not. We also have dumplings, wontons, and takeouts!”
Ying Qiao was speechless. The Little Monster’s poverty was much worse than he imagined.
With the door wide open, Ying Qiao could see the inside of the bedroom. All kinds of stuff occupied the tiny room. Closer scrutiny revealed that the owner did try to organize a little but was probably clueless about properly tidying up the room. Little toys, pillows, and snacks were littered everywhere.
Ying Qiao wanted to ask whether they hired a house cleaner but thought better of it. Judging by the financial status of the Little Monster, he very likely couldn’t afford one.
He sat on the sofa with a troubled mind. Hearing the noise coming from the kitchen, Ying Qiao suddenly didn’t dare to expect much from the Little Monster’s cooking skills.
An hour later, their dinner was served.
Jiang Lan was apparently pleased with his work. Tonight’s menu included Soy sauce cooked fish, Green pepper stirred fried meat, Tomato stirred eggs, and mushroom soup.
He cooked these with the help of the recipes from a cooking app. Although the dishes weren’t much to look at, he was confident the taste was good.
Jiang Lan and Ying Qiao took seats facing each other with Suan Ni’s little bowl filled with food. Jiang Lan eagerly asked Ying Qiao to dig in.
Looking at the apparently burned, overcooked dishes, Ying Qiao was in a bind.
As mentioned before, Ying Qiao was a picky dragon with good taste. Anyone who dares to serve foods like these to him was definitely in for a storm. But the food was cooked by none other than the Little Monster…..
Any parents who first taste the food made by little ones must have the same feeling.
The Little Monster’s self-esteem was too fragile to take a blow.
Ying Qiao made a hard choice. He squeezed a smile, then he picked up a piece of charred fish and forced himself to swallow it.
The fish was a little smoky, and the taste was a little better than he expected.
Drinking a little water after he swallowed the food, Ying Qiao was a little relieved.
While he was tormented by the food, two brothers were having a good time enjoying the food. Suan Ni gave a thoughtful comment on the food.” This time the fish was a little smoky, overcooked apparently.”
Jiang Lan agreed.” I have cooked a little longer. I will improve next time.”
Suan Ni again eagerly dug into his food.
Jiang Lan turned his attention to Ying Qiao, looking like he was waiting for his comment.
Ying Qiao lied.” It Tastes good. I like it.”
Jiang Lan tried to be modest.” I haven’t cooked for a while, so my skills are a little rusty. This time I probably bungled the cooking. I will cook for you again next time.”
Ying Qiao left after the meal.
Before he left, he looked like he tried to say something to Jiang Lan but thought better of it. Finally, he just said.” Tomorrow you are supposed to receive your bonus.”
He was trying to imply that once you have your money, let’s eat good food in a proper restaurant.
Jiang Lan obviously didn’t think deeper. He smiled.” I will invite you to dinner once I receive the money.”
Ying Qiao was a little traumatized by the food tonight. Not sure whether Jiang Lan intended to cook again, he gave a vague reply while pondering how to improve the quality of food for the Little Monster.
Tuesday morning, Jiang Lan didn’t go to the office as usual. As planned, he went to the Hong Jing Apartment complex with the materials for his sessions.
On the list provided by Chief Cheng, the three apartment complexes with the highest flu incidence were not far apart. They were called Hong Jing, Tian Hong, Tian Hong Garden.
Jiang Lan had already contacted the administrators of these three apartment complexes to set the time and location for today’s awareness-raising session.
The avenue for today’s session was a meeting room in a property maintenance company. The administrators and representatives from the residents would be in attendance.
Hong Jing Apartment Complex was built a long time ago. Because of this, the infrastructure was in a poor state. According to Xue Meng, most of the residents here were originally villagers relocated after their village was demolished to make way for various development projects.
The make-up of residents in Tian Hong and Tian Hong Garden was similar to Hong Jing Apartment Complex. Most of the residents in these apartment complexes were elders who almost had no schooling.
When Jiang Lan entered the meeting room, many people were already there. Most of them were aunties and grandpas in their sixties or seventies. They were pretty relaxed, chatting with their neighbors while enjoying their breakfast. The whole meeting room was filled with the smell of food and loud voices, making the entire scene more like a market than an awareness-raising session.
Jiang Lan could hear a high-pitched voice of an aunty before he entered the room.” I heard you want to hire a Daoist monk to perform an evil-dispelling ceremony?”
Someone answered.” Oh, yes, that girl died an evil death. Meifang and a few others who dragged her out of the manhole have all fallen ill afterward and were confined to home.”
“That girl was very evil, plying an indecent trade while alive. In death, she still manages to harm people. A Daoist monk was needed to root out this evil.”
“A girl looked like she must not be a decent girl. Very likely, she was a fox-turned monster, reincarnated to absorb man’s essence….”
The people participating in this talk acted excitingly with their cheeks flushed. From time to time, a few coughs could be heard. More people began to gather around them, looked absorbed in their talk. Once in a while, a question made the discussion even more heated.
Standing in the doorway, Jiang Lan could feel the different voices gathering force, turning high-pitched, piercing his eardrum like a spear.
Unaware of it, they sunk into a weird atmosphere.
Coughing and voice turning high-pitched, but no other signs of anomalies…. The symptoms of Xue Meng were very similar to theirs, except that he didn’t act in such a frenzy.
Jiang Lan took in all these. He planned to consult his older brother after the meeting was concluded.
Taking broad strides to the podium, Jiang Lan knocked on the desk forcefully, interrupting the heated discussion.
In an instant, the whole room fell into silence. Everyone’s gazes were upon him while retaining the frenzy in their eyes.
Jiang Lan proceeded to start his speech, intended to raise the awareness of flu prevention.
After the speech ended, he went down the podium to distribute the pamphlets he brought here.
Again the atmosphere of the meeting room was animated. Because of his handsome appearance and youthful voice, many aunties volunteered to help him distribute the pamphlets while chatting with him.
Jiang Lan felt a little reserved towards the aunties who just expressed their views on the dead girls. But he still put on a smiling face and talked with them. Their talks quickly turned to the topic which was on everyone’s mind.
Jiang Lan heard a version of the incident, which was totally different from the local news. This version was more or less the same as the taxi’s driver’s story, with more details.
In this version, the dead girl was called Chen Ruomei, who moved into Hong Jing Apartment Complex after the new year. She was very pretty.
Pretty girls usually attract a lot of attention. At first, some people tried to introduce her to some eligible single men. But later, people were surprised by her outlandish appearance and unusual work routine. She typically went to work at night and returned before dawn.
She maintained minimal contact with her neighbors, which also contributed to the rumor circulating among the neighborhood, alleging she was a sex worker.
Someone claimed she brought a client home and ended up having a dispute with her client further confirmed the rumor.
An aunty with curly hair said contemptuously.” She brought a man home, and when the man left, he loudly said if she was a bitch, why act otherwise, pretending to be innocent. So she was indeed a sexual worker. She even has the temerity to call the police. I heard afterward that her landlord wanted to terminate the lease.”
Jiang Lan noticed that after she finished talking, she coughed a little with her cheek flushed.
She wasn’t among the people who coughed just a moment ago.
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