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Before the two had even gotten to discussing what they were going to eat, Wu Zhilun called them, declaring that he had prepared steak and wine but, alas, there were no companions with whom he could eat that steak and drink that wine. Thus, with Friend Wu Zhilun’s selfless offerings, a simple meal became a candlelight dinner. The only pity was that it was not a dinner of two people gazing into one another’s eyes and rather was of three people merrily downing drinks together.
“I’d be considered the lightest-weight drinker in my family. My younger cousins who are still in middle school have a glass with every meal.” Worried that Wu Zhilun would not understand, she even purposely picked up the glass by her hand and used her hands to indicate a size. “Like, a glass like this one. Baijiu,56% alcohol. They all just treat it like a little beverage. Last time, I had a classmate gathering and it happened to be when my little cousins were getting off school. When they saw the people trying to stuff alcohol into me, they jumped into the battle right away and made an entire table of people pass out from drinking.”
Before Wu Zhilun was dead drunk to the world, Jia He uttered the above concluding remarks.
Whew! Good thing he was gone.
Wu Zhilun was just too strong a drinker. His wine was such a treasure of the cellar, but he had poured cup after cup for her. Guaranteed, he did it on purpose…
Jia He watched as his poor, little assistant lugged him away. When the door thudded closed, she finally, swaying and lurching, stood up from the rug. Drinking competitions are basically done in one charge, and once the outcome has been decided, the defeat is as thorough as a mountain collapsing into a landslide.
Due to the effects of alcohol, her vision was shaky and she searched for a long time before she was finally able to spot Yi Wenze sitting on the couch. “Oh no, I’m drunk, too.”
Offhandedly setting his wine glass onto the coffee table to the side, Yi Wenze extended his arm, a gesture indicating that Jia He should walk over to him. “Come here and sit for a while.”
Jia He tottered over, sat down next to him, and then very docilely lay down on his lap. She tried hard to retain her last bit of sobriety, but in front of her eyes a tsunami was already charging towards her.
He was wearing casual pants, its material very soft, and as she nuzzled her cheek against it a few times, she woozily felt only that she wanted to sleep.
The view before her eyes had been infinitely blurred and made unreal. Everything, from the rug, to the coffee table, and then to the floor-length window, seemed bathed in a strong light. From her angle, a wine glass could be seen on the coffee table. At the bottom of the glass was still a little bit of wine, about a small mouthful. Light fell diagonally through the glass and cast a very faint shadow on the coffee table.
How much had he had to drink? Probably not much. From the time the first bottle was finished being poured out, Wu Zhilun had kept duping her into drinking. Honestly, such a waste of good stuff… Look how good he was, how much self-control he had. She blew out a breath. Pillowing her head on his thigh, she lay face up, gazing at him. “How much did you drink? Your complexion looks no different.”
She seemed to hear him laugh, and then a voice said, “Almost two and a half bottles.”
A voice that drifted over from a faraway place. She listened carefully. It took some effort.
Oh, two and a half bottles… Hmm, he could really drink… Wait, two and a half bottles?!
She looked at him. Earnestly looked at him. Quite some time passed before she abruptly shoved herself up on her arms and poked her head over to count the bottles on the table. No more, no less, six empty bottles. He had consumed nearly double the amount she and Wu Zhilun each drank? Sure enough, he was her idol!
With great reverence, she turned back to face him. “Are you dizzy? Do we need to make some strong tea to drink?” But after saying this, she quickly added, “Or do you need to go lie down for a bit first?” While she spoke, she reached her hand over and waved it in front of his eyes, trying to determine his degree of sobriety. Instead, though, she herself almost ended up sliding down.
He held her up. “I was worried the two of you were going at it a bit too hard in your little competition, so I drank a bit more. My alcohol tolerance is okay.” He truly had not wanted to disrupt their high spirits, but the delayed effects of red wine are very strong and those two people had not been restraining themselves either; hence, he had had no choice but to take advantage of when they were happily absorbed in their drinking to help them destroy almost half the alcohol.
Actually, if he really were to count, it was almost three bottles.
Jia He very pitifully discovered that the true god of drinking was right here.
“It’s good to be a strong drinker. Being a strong drinker is really the best thing… Wait, that’s not right either. You can’t tell people you’re a strong drinker.” Her words slurred as she sighed feelingly about this, and her manner was actually terribly serious. “In the future when you go to my home, my family members are definitely going to make you drink until you pass out. You know, Northerners have that custom, especially when the future son-in-law comes to visit for the first time…”
Her voice cut off abruptly.
Yi Wenze, however, chuckled. “When it’s time to drink, then you need to do it.”
A simple, easy-to-understand sentence, but it caused heat to rush into her face. Jia He stared at him, her eyes unblinking as they remained riveted on him.
Oh no, I’m done for, I’m done for. Don’t make me feel so touched that I cry. I’m drunk. Once I start crying, I won’t be able to stop…
Because of her tipsiness, those searing-hot hands of hers were clutching his button-up shirt, and nearly all of her was buried in his embrace… In reality, there was bound to be some effect on him after drinking that much, but it was a perfect amount of drunkenness that basically magnified for him her every subtle movement.
Her soft, feather-like breaths carrying the fragrance of wine were right before him.
He finally gave an inward sigh. “Do you want to go inside to sleep?”
“Huh?” Jia He’s eyes widened.
“With you like this, I’d be a little worried about taking you back to your home.”
That’s my home; what’s there to worry about? … she silently countered. But in her heart, there was persistently another voice crying, Just stay, just stay! It’s no big deal. You guys stayed together when you were in Tianjin. It’s no big deal…
Feeling utterly torn, she shut her eyes.
But, just because of this half a second of darkness, she ended up completely falling into the vortex created by the effects of alcohol. The ceiling and floor spun about her, and it was hard for her to open her eyes again.
Outside the door, there was the sound of someone walking past. All the while feeling guilty, like she was doing something naughty, she made up an excuse for herself. Just look, you’re so drunk like this. If you go out, you’re just going to embarrass him. That would be bad. They call you “Boss’s Wife”…Thanks to the two words “Boss’s Wife,” she succeeded in falling into another round of dizziness. Wrestling over this for a long time, she finally said in a small voice, “I’ll sleep on the couch.”
His voice floated into her ear. “I’ll carry you inside. I still have some things to do tonight. I’ll sleep on the couch.”
Jia He uttered an “oh.” Then, she felt herself curl up into a little bundle as he picked her up and held her in front of his chest. His footsteps were very steady, nearly not pausing at all until her body sank into softness, and only then did she sense that she was lying on a bed. Alarmed, she reflexively clenched her hands into balls and waited anxiously for him to leave. However, she did not realize that her fingers were entwined in his shirt, practically about to rip his buttons off…
Seeing that she was so nervous that her breaths were already coming in large gasps, Yi Wenze found this amusing. He gave a pat to her hand. “Hurry and go to sleep.”
I am going to sleep. Why aren’t you leaving yet?
Her heartbeat was being amplified to the extreme, to the absolute loudest volume possible. This stalemate carried on for a lengthy time before she at last, somewhere between drifting off to sleep and still holding on to awareness, pried open her eyes. She finally noticed that she was still gripping his button-up shirt and he therefore could only prop one hand beside her and bend down to accommodate her action.
Because he had carried her in, he had not had a chance to turn on the lights yet.
Moonlight. There was only moonlight. Never before had she felt that Beijing’s moon was so radiant. It was actually able to illuminate half the room. That moonlight traced out a very vague, evocative silhouette of him. And he was right there before her, so very near.
“Do you want to turn on the light?” he asked.
Jia He shifted her fingers slightly. By chance, they slipped in through the gaps between the buttons of his shirt and grazed against his skin. Just one little action, but she had already frightened herself and dared not make any more hasty movements. She only, with much effort, gave a blink of her eyes.
“I forgot to take out my contacts. My eyes are really dry.” She was grasping for things to talk about.
“Look at me. Don’t blink.” He stretched his hand forward and, under the moon’s glow, carefully scrutinized her.
In her gaze, his fingers became infinitely larger. Jia He tried hard to hold her breath and control her eyes’ reflexive urge to resist this, until the strange sensation of contact passed and the view before her eyes became blurry.
“Hurry and go to bed.” He brought his face down and kissed her forehead. “I’m going out now.”
Giving an “mm-hmm,” Jia He turned over and hugged the comforter against herself.
“Thank you for what you said today.” This truly was a case of alcohol emboldening a wimp’s heart. Words she had choked over the entire night had at last been spoken aloud. “I actually… had already mentally prepared myself. I just needed a few days to get used to it and then I would have been fine.”
It was so hard to make her thoughts coherent. It was only one sentence, but she had stumbled over the words and in the end was still unable to completely express everything she wanted to say. She buried her face into the comforter, sensing that he was still maintaining that same position and had not moved.
“Anything else?’ Yi Wenze’s voice was suddenly heard.
“No.” Jia He bit down on her lip. She could feel his breath very near. But she simply waited like this, scared, flustered, and not knowing what to do. The entire time, however, Yi Wenze made no movement to take things one step further. Jia He’s heart throbbed, sometimes rapidly, other times slowly. She drew breath after ragged breath until eventually even he was affected by her. His uneven breathing was right by her ear, seducing her, whittling away at her awareness.
Still he made not a single movement.
Jia He wanted to cry. Finally, she poked her head out from the comforter. “Do I stink?”
“No.” He paused for a moment before giving a very low chuckle.
The room was extremely quiet, yet his words, his laughter seemed to come through a curtain of fog.
Ah, yeah, I’m still drunk. Closing her eyes and reluctantly accepting her fate, she thought, You’re just turned off that I’m drunk. It was a long while later when she, unable to reconcile herself to this, asked in a barely perceptible voice, “Then why won’t you kiss me?”
Quiet. Very quiet.
She was practically unable to breathe. But still she did not hear his voice. Oh no, oh no. Sure enough, drunkenness was just plain harmful. Her image was completely destroyed… She dared not make any movement. But then, she suddenly felt a warmth touch her face. Slowly, it shifted downwards until it caressed the corner of her lips, and there it halted for a moment. “Because you’re drunk.”
Perplexed, she wanted to determine the amount of truth in those words, but his kiss was already thoroughly claiming her. Her entire body was sunken into the comforter. He left her no room to escape, a constricting feeling of suffocation causing her to cling to him as if she were drowning. The very soft material in her palms wrinkled and formed creases.
This was a long, deep kiss.
A mobile phone began ringing out in the sitting area. Only then did she dazedly open her eyes, patting him lightly on his back.
“It’s A-Lun’s phone,” he explained, his voice low.
“Do you need to bring it to him?”
“No.” With this, he used an even deeper kiss to repress any other words she might have.
Layer after layer was removed from her. His motions were slow and focused. His hand smoothed over her supple skin, and it was then that he discovered that the entire body of the one beneath him was blazing hot. Owing to this more intimate contact, she was like a frightened bird who would start at mere hints of anything approaching. She suddenly opened her eyes, trying hard to look at him. Yi Wenze halted slightly, allowing his eyes to take in her face, veiled in the dimness. Those glistening lips were pressed together tightly. Her eyes were filled with utter confusion, disconcertment, fluster…
“Tell me,” he said, sighing secretly, moving to gently kiss her neck, stroking her to help her relax, “would you like a boy, or would you prefer a girl?”
“I like both.” As he advanced on her step by step, she lost nearly all her ability to resist.
“Then we will have one of each.” Very slowly, he undid the tie belt of her dress, continuously caressing her soft, delicate neck and ear, tenderly saying, “My younger sister and I are fraternal twins. Maybe we can get it done in one go, too.”
Already utterly unable to see anything clearly, she simply shut her eyes and gave a very light “mm.” Those kisses felt as if they would never come to an end, as if they would continue the whole night. Until he took her hand very lightly into his and set it on his chest.
The hard object beneath her hand was very small—the button of his shirt.
This should have been a very simple action, but she tried a total of four times before she was at last able to unfasten the first one.
His patience was ample to wait for her. When he lifted her and brought her with him under the comforter, drawing near to her with no longer anything between them, he noticed the slight furrow in her brow. He tried gently touching her face, but the woman in his arms pinched her brows together again. Completely burrowing herself into his embrace, she encircled her arms tightly around his firm upper body, then quietened down.
Utterly motionless—she was completely asleep.
Yi Wenze looked down at her. After a long while, he finally could not help laughing.
She really was drunk…
Through this long night, she was in such a drunken state that her sleep was dreamless.
Jia He only perceived that when she was about to burn up, water was poured into her mouth. Very cool and refreshing. And then, content now, she hugged that warmth tightly and once more sunk into deep slumber. Very shortly, there was yet again the sound of a ringing phone. Shifting uncomfortably a couple of times, she opened her eyes to an unbearable splitting headache. The view that suddenly appeared before her was that of his face. Still in a daze, she could sense that she basically was not wearing very much for clothing and furthermore, in such a state, was clinging tightly to him…
Her arm resting on his waist was already terribly sore and numb, as if she had been holding this position for a long time already. Everything that happened yesterday was fragmented in her memory. She only remembered something about boy and girl and fraternal twins. She seemed to have helped him to undo his shirt, and then…and then she fell asleep?!
Her whole body was sweaty, a sticky feeling that conjured a vexed restlessness in her. But still she dared not so much as shift.
Hang in there, just hang in there. Eventually, though, she actually started feeling sleepy again. So hot. It’s really so hot.
“You’re awake?” His voice was very light and contained the languor that comes after a deep sleep.
“Mm-hmm…” She did not have the courage to open her eyes.
“Did you have a comfortable sleep?”
Yes, it was comfortable. In fact, too comfortable…
“Would you like to have a shower?” Sitting up, he swathed her in the comforter and picked her up onto his lap.
With this, she was finally forced to open her eyes. “I still want to sleep for a bit longer.”
He picked up his watch from beside the pillow. “It’s almost eleven. Do you want to eat something first?”
“Okay.” Feeling ridiculously guilty, like she had done something wrong, she could only nod docilely.
She truly was kicking herself. That should have been such a romantic moment. A public love confession, a candlelight dinner, just the right amount of drunkenness, and then… The problem lay in the fact that she was just not suited for getting hammered with alcohol.
Strewn on the gray rug were their clothes, large and small items, messy, yet exuding a warm, comforting feeling.
Holding her in his arms, he gathered up their clothing from beside the bed. When he had picked up his button-up shirt and was about to put it on, Jia He grabbed his hand. Like a hero facing death for a righteous cause, she proposed, “How about we do it over again?”
白酒 “bai jiu.” Baijiu literally means “white alcohol.” This traditional Chinese alcoholic beverage is technically classified as a spirit and is made from sorghum and other grains. Those who did not grow up exposed to baijiu will often, on their first taste of it, describe it with adjectives such as “strong,” “fiery,” “harsh,” “biting,” etc. It has a high alcohol by volume (ABV), typically in the range of 40-60%. (For comparison, a typical wine is ~9-15%, vodka is 40%.)
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