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The two were still conversing, sometimes a sentence from him, sometimes one from her, when his little nephew fell asleep sprawled in her arms, one hand still very naturally touching the front of her chest. Yi Wenze noiselessly took him from her and carried the soundly slumbering child back into the house. Watching him step back out, Jia He was just about to ask if he wanted to go out for a walk when she saw him stroll up in front of her and lower himself into a half-crouch. “I’ll take you out for a walk.”
Seeing him like this, Jia He was completely stunned. “What for?”
He made a gesture with his hand, his voice so mild and gentle it enthralled her heart. “There are a lot of things that I can’t do when we’re in China, but no matter what, I should give you some memories here.”
Beneath the night sky, the lights of the backyard elongated his shadow.
Jia He was quiet for quite some time before stretching her arms out and circling them around his neck. He hooked his arms under her legs, effortlessly lifting her up onto his back. In such hot weather, their two bodies, tight against one another, soon began to perspire. She brought her hand forward and touched his face. “Where are we going?”
“To the seaside.” His words were concise. He was not even breathless.
“O great Idol, are you practicing hiking while weight-bearing?” She felt hot, but she could not bear to end this moment and get down either, so she simply set her chin on his shoulder. “If it were me in the past and I saw you piggybacking a woman like this, I’m guessing my heart would ache so badly I’d want to bite my computer screen.”
This comparison… was one that only she, someone who stared at a computer every day, could come up with.
The street was very long, but few people were on it. Beside them, a very young couple rode past on a bicycle. The girl turned her head to look back and seemed to say something. After receiving just this one glance, Jia He rather bashfully buried her head on his shoulder, uttering softly, “Why do I feel like you and I are acting out one of those young idol dramas?”
“Mm-hmm.” Yi Wenze told her, “True Love, a short film that provides positive social influence.”
She let out a giggle.
She was suddenly struck with the feeling that he was presently very different from when he was in China. She surmised that it was because he was back in the place where he had grown up, and with his celebrity halo all of a sudden gone, he had become an ordinary person. Of course, he was still an ordinary person who was so handsome he made people green with envy…
Originally she had thought his words had just been in jest, but before long she saw the ocean.
“Wenrun’s house is near the ocean. It’s really convenient every time to walk over here.” Finally setting her down, he explained, “She’s someone who very much knows how to enjoy life. Back then, Mai Jiehad really wanted to pull her into modelling, but she had not been interested whatsoever.”
Laughing, Jia He poked his arm with her pointer finger. “You’re really envious, aren’t you? You took one wrong step and caused a lifetime’s regret for yourself.”
By her ear was the sound of rolling waves, and not far away, a group of young people was having a gathering. Such a lovely, relaxed atmosphere.
A smile was on his lips as he looked at her. He did not speak, only cupping the back of her neck with his palm. As he drew in closer, though, she shifted her face away, saying softly, “Even without reporters around, I’ll still feel embarrassed.”
Saying this, she quickly took half a backward step, but small rocks jabbed her foot.
Because of his spur-of-the-moment idea, she actually had not put on any shoes and had left the house in bare feet. Gingerly, she observed the sand, whose grains would not be considered fine, and also the many bits of broken seashells. Simply standing here like this was already a little uncomfortable on the soles of her feet.
Taking in her conflicted expression, Yi Wenze, his motions natural, embraced her waist and, raising the volume of his voice slightly, told her, “Step on the tops of my feet.”
“Mm,” Jia He replied, and then followed his instructions to put her feet on the backs of his, while her arms slid around his waist.
“Yi Wenze.” She unexpectedly called his name.
He gave an “mm.”
How about I’ll just propose?… She tried hard to pump herself up. That could be considered a heaven-shaking act that would move even the gods to tears. Who said only men are allowed to propose? It was just registering a marriage and then living their lives together, right? In reality, in her heart, she felt that the two of them seemed like they had been married for a long time already. Their life together was very peaceful, and even the smallest things, each little detail, were all so real.
But what should I say? How should I say it?
I honestly have no experience, aaaah…
“Would you like to listen to a song?” he unexpectedly asked.
All the courage that she had summoned up a moment ago was, with this one, short question from him, shattered and melted away into the air. Her cheek resting against his chest, she listened to his steady, rhythmic heartbeat, believing firmly and with pride that even the frequency of her hubby’s heartbeat was the most perfect…
“Come with me.” He set her down on the sand. Taking her hand in his, he walked with her over to that group of young people and very politely asked in English, “Would I be able to borrow your guitar?”
At once, the person holding the guitar rose and, with heartfelt friendliness, handed the instrument to him. Several of those people seated in a circle appeared to have recognized him, and they quietly exchanged a few words. One of the girls amongst them, a blush colouring her face, asked, “Are you Yi Wenze?”
Giving a smile, Yi Wenze nodded and answered, “Yes.” His hand holding Jia He’s, he pulled her down to take a seat with him. “This is my fiancée.”
Jia He had not expected him to be so open and relaxed, and feeling a little dazed, she could only smile at everyone.
For a moment, excitement rushed through this gathering of young people, and incessantly they asked, did they come back here to get married? Or had they secretly gotten married already? Although their questions were identical to the ones from the media, such surroundings and the warmth and effusiveness of these people all allowed Jia He to relax, and she simply sat bashfully by his side, watching as his fingers made a few strums.
This melody was too familiar.
Everybody grew quiet. His eyes were on her as he began casually humming the song “With You,” that single that had held the top spot on the charts for two months. This was her first time hearing him singing it right in front of her. His tranquil gaze held only her. At first he sang the song in Mandarin. Someone beside them then asked, was there an English version? He smiled and, surprisingly, very quickly switched into English.
When this song was released, there had only been two versions, Mandarin and Cantonese. She had not expected that there was an English version as well.
Tilting his head to the side slightly, Yi Wenze suddenly broke off his singing at the very last line of the song and very tenderly covered her lips with his. He let this kiss go to the deepest reaches before swiftly pulling away again. Jia He had been caught completely unprepared, and when he released her, she stared speechlessly at him, her heart altogether nearly ceasing to beat…
When the two of them were leaving, those young people were very reluctant to part with them and continuously gave their blessings and well wishes. However, not one person took out a mobile phone to try to secretly take photographs or requested a photo with them. After they arrived back at the house, Jia He followed him inside, in passing shutting off the lights behind her.
He turned around and looked at her.
“Why do you think they didn’t ask for a photo together? From the looks of things, there were two who seem to be your fans.” She stepped over and reached up to help him unfasten the first button of his shirt, the touch of her fingers soft.
Smiling knowingly, he told her in a hushed tone, “They really like you and were scared you’d feel uncomfortable.”
As she undid the second button, her hands gave an inexplicable little quiver.
Seriously. They had already been living together for a long time, but this was still a rare time in which she was taking the lead. She heaved a secret sigh. Sure enough, vacationing can cause people to act impetuously. On top of that, he had done so many things; these several hours, it was as if he wanted to do everything with her that he was able to. His every motion, every action, every subtle detail seemed to tug at the very tip of her heart. Yet, he had not said anything.
He definitely did it on purpose.
Breathing another silent sigh, Jia He lifted her hands and cupped them around his face. “Yi Wenze.”
All right, I’m ready now. I don’t believe that you don’t want to…
His head was bowed to look at her, and he seemed to be smiling.
All of a sudden, there was a barrage of knocking on their door. “You guys are back?”
It was Wenrun.
Jia He gave him a look like that of an innocent victim. Yi Wenze, too, could only be grudgingly resigned to this, and directing his voice at the door, he replied, “We’re back. We’re going to sleep now.”
Outside the door, there was a brief silence, and then Wenrun’s very plaintive voice was heard. “My son won’t sleep. He insists he must sleep with his aunt, and he’s tortured me for a few hours already. Big Bro, please do a good deed and help me coax him to sleep…” Once she finished saying this, she began making indistinguishable little murmurs, sounding as if she was gently soothing the little child.
Lightly tweaking the tip of Jia He’s nose, Yi Wenze told her softly, “For some things, let me be the one to do them.”
Jia He’s cheeks heated momentarily. She watched as he went to open the door. Wenrun, holding that little nephew in her arms, was so exhausted her eyes could barely open as she very apologetically looked at Jia He and explained, “Mrs. Yi, you have an enchantment over children. He won’t even have his mummy.”
Reaching over and taking that half-asleep little nephew from her, Jia He quietly replied, “No worries. I really like him.”
Wenrun said a few more things and then swayingly shuffled back to her own room.
As Jia He held the little boy, she felt him nuzzling around. And then his hand felt its way to the front of her chest again… Wanting very much to cry, she looked at Yi Wenze and whispered, “He’s sure to be a ladies’ man in the future.
Yi Wenze was rather helpless in this as well. He extended his pointer finger and gently lifted away the little hand, successfully diverting the boy’s attention. Alas, an even more woeful situation arose: the little hand clamped around his finger, utterly unwilling to let go.
The two therefore could only stand there, not really knowing what they should do.
After a while, as they silently communicated with one another by mouthing their words, they arduously managed to get him onto the bed and took turns holding him while the other person showered. When they had both finished washing up and changed, the child finally burrowed himself completely into Jia He’s arms and fell into a sound sleep.
Cradling that little person who was snugged against her, Jia He lay on her side and, looking at Yi Wenze, asked in a low voice, “Why aren’t you coming to bed yet?”
In the moonlight that spilled through the window, gazing upon the side profile of his face and upon his eyes was pure enjoyment. The only pity was that on their first night here in New Zealand, there was a “third wheel” lying between them.
His smile spread into his eyes. “You lit a fire but you didn’t put it out. How am I supposed to sleep?”
Jia He shushed him. “Your nephew already knows really well how to hit on girls. Don’t set even more bad examples for him to follow.”
There was a short while of stillness. Then the child suddenly shifted.
Sensing this, Yi Wenze reached over, picked him up, and brought him to the bathroom. When they came back, he was even able to coax the little nephew back to sleep before re-tucking him into Jia He’s embrace.
In the dimness, she watched as he did all of this. Her heart suddenly was stirred. “You’re definitely going to be a great dad.”
Letting out a little chuckle, he breathed, “Sleep now.”
Children’s sleep patterns are very regular. Jia He was still fast asleep when she sensed that the person in her arms was starting to shift about. Her mind fuzzy, she opened her eyes to see him staring at her with his pure, innocent ones. “Aunt.”
She carried on in her daze and stared back at him. One second, two seconds…
Finally processing who this person in her embrace was, she immediately started to wakefulness and, holding him, sat straight up and began inspecting for signs that he might have wet the bed. After feeling around for some time and discovering that everywhere was nice and dry, she at last breathed out in relief.
“You’re awake?” Yi Wenze walked into the room carrying a glass of milk and some fruit.
With an “mm-hmm,” she commented, “This is just too amazing. This kid is just a little past two years old but he already doesn’t wet the bed.”
Bringing the glass of milk up to her mouth, Yi Wenze stated in a mild tone, “I brought him out three times in the middle of the night. You didn’t feel anything?”
Jia He was in mid-swallow and nearly sprayed everything back out. “No way. Really?”
He held a piece of fruit in front of her lips. “Want to sleep some more?”
This particular hour was when she was usually in her soundest slumber. With her eyes closed, she ate the fruit and rather sheepishly declined, “We’re in your little sister’s house. I wouldn’t feel right sleeping in so late.”
The warmth in her embrace disappeared. He had picked the little nephew up into his arms. “It’s okay. She’s still sleeping. I’ll carry him over to his dad and then come back to keep you company.”
She answered with an “mm,” then at once lay down and went back to sleep.
Before, when she slept with her arms enclosed around Yi Wenze, she would always have a comfortable sleep, because his embrace was strong and secure. However, this past night, she had had to protect the child with her entire body and had practically been in a curled-over posture. Now as she finally relaxed her body, she felt achiness flood through her, and she could not even lift an arm.
While she was in a half-awake, half-asleep state, she felt something soft on her lips, and then warmth enclosed around them.
She made a couple of moans, but his tongue had already glided right in. Very tenderly, he gave her a lingering good-morning kiss. Except the kiss was too long. She was almost breathless. Her mouth feeling parched, she swallowed. This subtle little action, though, quietened him. Puzzled, Jia He opened her eyes. “What’s wrong?”
With a little chuckle, he pulled her against his chest. “Hurry and sleep.”
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