The sky had turned bright when Ying Qiao drove Jiang Lan to the entrance of the apartment complex.
To make his acting more convincing, Jiang Lan kept yawning with tears dropping. Ying Qiao saw he could barely keep his eyes open, so he asked him to sleep in the car while texting Uncle Zhou as Jiang Lan’s older brother, telling him that Jiang Lan would take a personal leave day.
When they arrived home, he woke him up, asking him to resume his sleep at home.
And by the way, he had already notified his office that Jiang Lan would take a personal leave day.
Knowing taking a personal leave will disqualify him from getting a full attendance award, Jiang Lan was surprised. He hurriedly said.” I am not very sleepy now. No need to take a personal leave day.”
But apparently, Ying Qiao didn’t think that continuing to work after being deprived of a full night’s sleep was a good idea and said firmly.” You have stayed up all night. Without rest, you couldn’t get your job done properly. I think adequate sleep will actually boost your job performance.”
But Jiang Lan thought: That’s not the point. I only want the full attendance award!
But he didn’t dare to say it.”Ok.”
Ying Qiao stroked his hair and added.” If you run into something like this the next time, remember to tell me before you do anything. It is too dangerous.”
Jiang Lan nodded.
He seemed heavy-eyed. Ying Qiao urged him to hurry home.” Go back to sleep. I will visit you this afternoon. Rest easy. I will keep an eye on Qin Shuyi and his daughter.”
“En, Thank you.”
His gratitude was heartfelt this time. Ying Qiao was very considerate. Who cares about the full attendance award. He was flushed with cash now.
They parted at the entrance, and Jiang Lan went home. After taking a shower, he slept until noon.
Sunlight shone through the gaps between curtains and brought comfortable warmth. Jiang Lan rolled out of bed half-awake and saw Jiao Tu and Suan Ni playing video games on the iPad.
Jiao Tu had grown accustomed to this home. He had transformed into human form and sat on the sofa in his cotton pajamas. While playing games with one hand, he even managed to eat a shrimp with another hand.
These shrimps were sent here by Uncle Gui. Their freshness was preserved in a special way. After defrosting, they can be eaten directly without cooking. These two young brothers peeled a plate of shrimps and finished them off merrily.
After Jiang Lan came out of the bedroom, Jiao Tu pushed the plate to him and waved him over.” Fifth brother, please eat.”
“You two are having a good time without me.”
Jiang Lan muttered and went to the fridge to retrieve the remaining food ingredients for their lunch. The food sent from the Dragon Palace was the best. Plain simple cooking was enough to bring out the marvelous flavor in the food. Jiang Lan cooked two plates of scallops and crabs as their bountiful lunch.
Jiang Lan’s lunch also had the luxurious addition of two top-grade gemstones. While munching on these gemstones, he checked his messages.
Because today he took a personal leave day, Xue Meng had already mentioned him in a group chat in the early morning, asking why he didn’t show up for work today.
Perhaps because he didn’t reply, Zhang Tianxing had even sent him a private message.
Jiang Lan replied in the group chat:[ Last night I was busy saving the world, so I need to catch up with sleep today.]
[Xue Meng sent an emoji depicting a servant massaging a master.]
Xiao Xiaoyu seemed to say this half-jokingly:[ I thought you were forced to go back home to inherit your billions worth of family fortune.]
[Xue Meng: @Xiao Xiaoyu, you stupid mortal, your mind has been poisoned by reading too many novels. What’s this nonsense about inheriting billions worth of family fortune?]
Xiao Xiaoyu gave him a cold smile emoji while thinking, you know nothing. Considering even his family valet drove a Rolls-Royce, it was not far-fetched to suppose he would inherit billions’ worth of fortune.
With the ensuing bickering and emoji battle, Jiang Lan immediately left the group chat for fear that what he said would unwittingly stir them up.
He also replied to Zhang Tianxing’s message.
Except for the first message asking him why he didn’t show up today, the rest of the messages Zhang Tianxing sent were the photos of snacks he bought for Suan Ni.
[Zhang Tianxing: I bought some snacks for Nini. When will you come to the office? I can send them to your home if you don’t return any time soon.]
Jiang Lan signed, thinking Zhang Tianxing was really a cat person. It’s a pity Suan Ni was not a real cat.
Glancing at Little Suan Ni, who was playing games with Jiao Tu, he felt a little guilty.[ I will be in the office this afternoon. He had enough snacks. No need to buy this many.]
Perhaps because he got the answer he wanted, Zhang Tianxing was again a man of few words.[Only a little.]
Jiang Lan figured he wouldn’t be able to sway him, so he left it at that.
As soon as he ended his chat with Zhang Tianxing, Ying Qiao texted him, asking whether he had woken up.
The moment Jiang Lan replied, Ying Qiao made a voice call.
“How is your sleep? Did you have lunch?”
“Just finished.” Jiang Lan slouched on the sofa.”I am ready to go back to the office this afternoon.”
Letting out a chuckle, Ying Qiao felt helpless.”Why the hurry?”
Then he added.” I am already here.”
Jiang Lan was shocked.”Already here?”
In a panic, he glanced around his room filled with many recent purchases.
When Uncle Gui came to his home with Jiao Tu, he brought many things to this small flat, like electrical appliances, rugs, clothing, food, and video game consoles. Jiang Lan had no idea how much these things cost, but he knew for a fact that Uncle Gui spares no expense in purchasing the best stuff for them.
He went through his flat, at a loss what to do with his transformed flat.
Even on the phone, Ying Qiao could sense his odd reaction.”What’s the matter?”
Jiang Lan tried to calm down. Clearing his throat, he said.” No matter….my home is a bit messy. I didn’t get around to tidying up the rooms yet.”
Recalling Jiang Lan’s messy bedroom, he laughed.”No problem, I don’t mind.”
Jiang Lan said he will do a quick job tidying up the room now and hung up.
First, he told Jiao Tu in a serious tone the right things he could say to the visitor. He cautioned him not to say anything he wasn’t supposed to say.
Then, he hurriedly carried all the expensive-looking new stuff to the bedroom. Looking at his pajama, he had a mind to change it, but at that moment, the doorbell rang, he had no choice but to open the door.
The smart suit in the early morning was gone. Now Ying Qiao had on a more casual outfit.
He gave Jiang Lan a pastry he just bought.” I bought this in case you didn’t have your lunch.”
Jiang Lan took it and let him inside. But he was not in the mood for pleasantries. Scanning his room like a radar, Jiang Lan was worried that he might miss something Ying Qiao wasn’t supposed to see.
Following Jiang Lan, Ying Qiao saw in a glance the transformed living room.
Rugs and sofas were replaced. A new refrigerator was added to the living room. A couple of paintings graced the wall.
With a discerning eye, Ying Qiao gazed at these modern abstract paintings suspiciously. If he was not mistaken, these decorative paintings were not cheap mock-ups but real ones which had fetched a high price at auction.
Before he had time to make inquiries, the young man on the sofa attracted his attention.
Jiao Tu courteously greeted him, but he appeared a little awkward.
In the presence of strangers, he was still ill at ease.
Jiang Lan made the introduction.” This is my little cousin Jiang Tu. You two had met before.”
Ying Qiao immediately recalled the little cousin with his gem-embedded conch. He didn’t expect the little cousin’s human form to be so like Jiang Lan.
Glancing again at the transformed room and those expensive decorative paintings, a thought struck him.” You just renovated your flat?”
The Little Monster obviously didn’t have the fund for a renovation job. In his previous visits, Ying Qiao remembered the Little Monster’s flat was plain-looking. But with his little cousin’s visits, the apartment suddenly underwent a new renovation. Apparently, his wealthy cousin thought this plain flat didn’t suit him and decided to pay for a new renovation job.
Jiang Lan’s eyes were darting from side to side.” Oh, yes.”
Now Ying Qiao’s focus shifted to the same luxurious brand pajamas Jiang Lan and his cousin were wearing. The pajamas appeared a little loose on his cousin but fit Jiang Lan’s form perfectly, showing his waist curve.
He stroked Jiang Lan’s hair lovingly, thinking that the luxurious brand clothing the Little Monster wore in the past turned out to be gifts from his wealthy cousin.
Their life circumstances were so far apart.
Ying Qiao’s heart ached with pity when looking at the wealthy cousin with a gem-imbedded conch and the Little Monster wearing clothing donated by his wealthy cousin.
Patting the Little Monster’s shoulder with a heavy heart, Ying Qiao reaffirmed his resolve to help him shake off the shackle of poverty.
Unaware of what was going on in Ying Qiao’s mind, Jiang Lan asked him to take a seat nervously.
Not sure how to begin their conversation, Jiang Lan asked him.” Have you eaten yet?”
Ying Qiao.” Yes.”
He was worried that Ying Qiao might be onto something. Why didn’t he ask him any questions?
He signed worriedly and started a new topic.” You didn’t work today?”
Ying Qiao.”Yes, I worked extra hours last night, so my boss asked me to take a half-day off work. I was just on my way home and thought, why not pay you a visit.”
Jiang Lan “oh” again. Then he said tentatively.” I have just received a bonus. So I can afford to buy you a gift.”
He implied to Ying Qiao that his bonus had also paid for the new renovation job.
But Ying Qiao misunderstood him. Seeing his cautious look, Ying Qiao felt his heart melted.” It’s not necessary. We can dispense with this thank-expression between us.”
Jiang Lan shook his head and said seriously.” I just want to buy you a gift.”
Now his eyes seemed to reflect the bright sunlight.”I have money now.”
Ying Qiao was amused by his serious expression and accepted his gift.” Then I will accept it.”