Assistant Architect by Xi He Qing Ling
Chapter 88: Lunch
Although “this weekend” seemed far away, Saturday was in fact, the day after tomorrow. On Friday, Zhang Siyi no longer stayed in the office foolishly for overtime. He remembered what Be Lele had mentioned before about a previous employee that was let-go for lack of work efficiency because she would stay after work all the time as an excuse to stay with Gu Yu.
It’s enough of a problem for him that he has a secret crush on his male boss. The gossip circle in his work-place is rather intense. He felt their impact when for two days, his colleagues teased him about being lovesick. If he acted obvious now, then the truth of his love would be known. Since the architectural circle is rather small, if he had to leave Borderless, he wouldn’t have any place to go.
On Saturday morning, Zhang Siyi woke up early to take a shower and wash his hair. For his date with two girls, he styled his hair with gel and picked out a handsome set of clothes to wear. One girl he hasn’t seen in a very long time and the other is the sister of his boss. This was no easy task!
Before leaving his apartment, he walked Cheer-Up outside. When he got back, he filled his dog food in case he ended up staying out later than expected. He patted the dog: “Stupid Dog, this brother is going to head out now. Wish me luck!”
Cheer-Up pounced on him and loudly spoke: “Woof!”
Zhang Siyi: “……” Fuck! He almost knocked me over!
Even though Cheer-Up was adopted three months ago, it is the first time Zhang Siyi has heard his loud bark. When he was home with Fu Xinhui, the dog was still a puppy and as young dogs do, he had a high pitched yap.
Feeling like the dog’s happy barking was a sign of good luck, Zhang Siyi left the house in a very good mood. He also sent a text to Fu Xinhui: “Your son this morning barked at me when I called him!”
Putting his mobile phone away, he wasn’t expecting Fu Xinhui to return his message. Recently, he is hardly ever online during the day. At most, his friend logged into WeChat in the middle of the night to reply with a couple of short sentences. Zhang Siyi didn’t know why he was so busy and rarely online.
Zhang Siyi arrived at the Plaza Square fifteen minutes early. On his way out of the subway station, he contacted Gu Yao and rendezvous with her. Wearing the faux rabbit fur hat that Zhang Siyi has seen before, she was quite punctual and full of energy.
“Brother Siyi!” Just like a small rabbit, she jumped up and trotted over to him. She approached him with a strange look on her face. “Wow! Why are you dressed so handsomely today? I thought this wasn’t a date!” She grumbled: “If I knew I was going to be the third-wheel again, I wouldn’t have come.”
Smiling, Zhang Siyi said: “It’s not. I already told you on WeChat. How else would you be able to get involved? Anyways, what do you mean about being a third-wheel again?”
Gu Yao ignored his question and instead asked: “When is your ‘date’ going to come?”
Zhang Siyi glanced at his phone for any new messages and reported his findings: “Soon. She said she is parking her car in the underground garage now. We can go to the restaurant first and wait for her there.”
Gu Yao nodded and obediently followed. After walking for a while, Zhang Siyi coughed lightly and asked: “Where’s your brother?”
Gu Yao: “That homebody. He is probably reading or writing.”
Zhang Siyi: “Ha ha…”
Gu Yao quietly snuck a look at Zhang Siyi and seeing his interest in her brother she followed up her statement: “When my brother first came to Haicheng to work, he didn’t leave the house very much, even on the weekends. But, when he did leave his house, do you know what he would do?”
Zhang Siyi squinted in thought: “No. What did he do? It wasn’t……. to look at buildings?”
Gu Yao clasped her hands together: “Yes! You really understand him! When I decided to study in Haicheng, I thought I would be blessed by having a brother nearby. The first weekend at school, he invited me out for dinner, but thereafter he was always busy with work. At first, I thought he was going on dates behind my back every weekend these past six months, so I pressured him to take me out for dinner and as a result, he took me out for a whole day.”
Zhang Siyi wondered: “Out for a day?”
Gu Yao grinded her teeth: “Yes, for a whole day, from sunup to sundown. At noon, we stopped at a noodle place he came across on the side of the road for lunch. That day, like a servant, I helped him carry water and equipment. All he did was walk around with his camera and take photos of the buildings. I thought he could take a few cute photos of me, so I posed for him, but can you guess how he reacted? He just sneered at me at told me to move out of the way, that I was blocking the view.”
“Ha-ha-ha-ha-!” Zhang Si Yi can fully understand her feelings. He told Gu Yao about the time her brother took him out to visit the parking lot on his birthday. When their eyes met, they could only laugh together with the same bitterness.
As they approached the restaurant, Zhang Siyi messaged He Xueying to let her know they arrived. Since they weren’t in a rush to go inside, they waited outside and continued chatting. Gu Yao said: “Because of that time, I’ve been afraid to invite my brother out. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has visited every building in the entire city! Well, you have mentioned how much of a workaholic he can be…… Isn’t’ he lonely? He will end up growing old and dyeing alone.”
“Lonely?” Zhang Siyi smiled with bitterness: “I don’t think so. Two days ago, he posted a picture about his dinner and with an open invitation “Empty” for his partner to join him. He clearly has someone close to his heart.”
Zhang Siyi is quite certain of this point. When he played Truth or Dare last year, Gu Yu revealed he did have someone dear to him. When thinking about what Gu Yao said about her brother not being available on the weekends. maybe it was because he was with the person he liked. Maybe even, he had dinner with that person two days ago.
Feeling a sense of yearning, Zhang Siyi sighed with emotion: “I guess your brother has someone close to his heart, but he can’t show his emotion to just anyone. He probably only talks about it to the person he likes.”
Gu Yao is listening to Zhang Siyi, but his voice is like a background murmur as her conscience isn’t fully paying attention to what he is talking about. She is still trying to process his early statement about her brother’s social media post from two days ago. Why didn’t she see it?
As she was about to ask Zhang Siyi to explain it further, two people suddenly appeared in the distance. One was a tall, handsome man and the other was a slim, beautiful women. “Sisi!” The young man called out.
“Brother Tian! Why are you here, too?” Zhang Siyi said in surprise. Walking towards one another, they stretched out their arms and gave each other a fist-bump.
Zhang Siyi turned to greet He Xueying. She has changed a lot over the past eighteen years. She was wearing a tight shirt and leather pencil skirt with a pair of Doc-Martin boots and carrying a Chanel bag with no other accessories. Due to her modern clothing choice, she had a very fresh and simple look, but it did nothing to lessen her beauty and charm.
The two of them hugged loosely and He Xueying repeated what her brother said at the wedding: “How come you haven’t changed at all?”
Zhang Siyi chuckled: “Compared with you, I really haven’t changed much.”
He Xueying raised her hand and pinched his face. She smiled and said: “Even though your body has grown bigger, your facial features are the same as when you were young! Look at my brother. Now he is only half handsome and half a middle-aged uncle.”
Her face-pinching action was both intimate and natural and not even Zhang Siyi felt embarrassed, but Gu Yao stood next to him feeling alarmed. It was clear to her that He Xueying was making an attempt at Zhang Siyi’s attention.
While He Xueying didn’t pay any attention to Gu Yao, her brother standing next to her, couldn’t stop himself from staring at Gu Yao. She extended her hand and asked: “Hey, are you a friend of Sisi’s?”
Gu Yao shook hands with him and didn’t bother explaining her relationship with Zhang Siyi. She politely said: “I’m Gu Yao, the sister of a friend of Brother Siyi.”
He Xueying also exchanged polite greetings and shook her hand.
Seeing at how lively and friendly Gu Yao was, Zhang Siyi didn’t feel the need to make further introductions. He wanted to tell He Chengtian about her relation to Gu Yu, but considering his past hostile attitude, Zhang Siyi was afraid of making the atmosphere awkward, so he didn’t mention it.
After they were seated at the table, He Xueying took the opportunity to explain why she brought her brother with her: “When my brother heard about our date, he initially didn’t want to disturb us, but when I told him you were bringing a friend, he was eager to come too.”
He Chengtian immediately retorted: “Hey, don’t make me out to be an old playboy. I wasn’t busy and I wanted to talk to Zhang Siyi. The last time we talked was at Qu Miao’s wedding and he never replied to my proposal. I came here to hear what Zhang Siyi’s intentions are.” Even though his voice was coming out of his mouth, he wasn’t looking at Zhang Siyi. With his face turning a deeper shade of red, He Chengtian eye’s kept following Gu Yao.
Zhang Siyi didn’t notice He Chengtian intentions. He only felt embarrassed and worried about his own response to reject He Chengtian without trouble.
He Xueying turned a blind eye and didn’t make fun of her brother’s poor acting skills. She opened the menu and said, “Well, let’s order the food first, then chat.”
He Chengtian opened a menu and passed it to Gu Yao and said: “We are old acquaintances with Sisi. Be at ease and make yourself comfortable. What would you like to eat?”
In front of strangers, Gu Yao camouflaged her outspoken personality by being quiet and meek. She took her time to look at the menu then, maneuvering the conversation, suddenly asked: “Um, I thought there were only three people. I only have three tickers and didn’t expect more people so what are we going to do?”
He Chengtian looked at her dismayed expression and smiled to comfort her: “There is nothing to worry about. We can buy another ticket at the box-office.”
Gu Yao put the menu down on the table and quietly spoke: “If that is the case, then can I also call my brother to join us?”
He Chengtian: “Your brother?”
Gu Yao: “Yes. He is also living in Haicheng. Originally, I wanted to watch a movie with my brother and brother Siyi, but I only had three tickets. Since I gave one to, He Xueying, there wasn’t one left for him.”
He Chengtian chuckled and smiled generously: “It isn’t a problem. Call your brother and ask him to come out. We can buy an additional ticket for him too.”
Sipping on water, Zhang Siyi nearly choked on the liquid. He wanted to stop the direction this conversation was heading, but Gu Yao spoke first: ”Really?”
He Chengtian leaned on the back of his chair and gestured with his arms while he talked: “Why would I lie? It’s a rare opportunity this weekend to meet people. The more the merrier!”
Gu Yao graciously thanked him then immediately got up and went to the side to call her brother.
At the same time Gu Yao went to call her brother, Zhang Siyi felt a short signal from his phone in his pocket. He took it out and read the message from Fu Xinhui: “Before the thugs came to my house, Cheer-Up already barked when called, but after, I thought his barking would put him in danger.”
With the sudden potential appearance of Gu Yu combined with the unexpected news from his friend, Zhang Siyi’s anxiety grew. The original plan for the day was so simple, but now it was giving him a headache.