Assistant Architect by Xi He Qing Ling
Chapter 176: French Fries
Since the ambient temperature inside the restaurant was warm, Bai Rui took off his coat and hung it on the back of his chair. The silk shirt that wrapped around his torso accentuated his wide shoulders and broad chest. With his well-muscled physique, he looked both elegant and masculine.
Now that Zhang Siyi has met him in real life, it wasn’t surprising how obsessive Ren Mengyu was behaving. Regardless of his temperament and appearance, his presence was above all others. Bai Rui lived outside ordinary people and like Gu Yu, some people were born to shine above everyone else.
Tian Yujing began to stare at him unabashedly. Although she already had Jiang Hai sitting beside her, it didn’t stop her from appreciating an exceedingly handsome man.
Among them, only Su Yuan has seen Bai Rui before. When she saw Ren Mengyu with her boyfriend again, she couldn’t stop herself from feeling envious.
Presumably Ren Mengyu was out with Bai Rui. With someone as high status as Bai Rui, she felt overjoyed at being able to flaunt her perfect boyfriend. Since she easily attracted the stares of onlookers, who wouldn’t want to be the center of attention and show off?
Fortunately, as Zhang Siyi was with Gu Yu every day, he was immune to Bai Rui’s charms and remained completely calm.
The group sat together around a small rectangular table. While the couples sat two by two on the long side of the table, Su Yuan and Zhang Siyi sat on the narrow ends of the table opposite each other. Bai Rui happen to sit to the left of Zhang Siyi.
After everyone introduced themselves, Ren Mengyu asked: “Did you already order?”
Jiang Hai smiled: “We were waiting for the gold master! Come now, pick out the food!”
Ren Mengyu opened the menu and leaned towards Bai Rui affectionately. She said: “Hmm, what do you want to eat?”
Bai Rui look at her and politely said: “Don’t worry about me. You are here to enjoy your time with friends. Let them pick out the food.”
Attitude; full marks, etiquette; full marks, intonation; full marks…… simply impeccable!
Holding her face, Tian Yujing admired Ren Mengyu: “Your boyfriend is so handsome!”
Jiang Hai’s mouth twitched: “Hey, I am still sitting here.”
As the crowd laughed, the previous tense atmosphere was broken. Even though Bai Rui also smiled and looked very gentle, Zhang Siyi felt that he was detached from the group. Just as Gu Yu said, he can’t control other people’s affairs. He had nothing to do with Bai Rui and was simply present to at the restaurant to reminisce and visit old classmates. After eating, he planned on meeting Gu Yu at the lecture.
Su Yuan responded: “Well, unlike the typical family style way that Chinese cuisine is served, this is an English restaurant so we should order our own plates. There are a lot of hand-held foods in western cuisine.”
Having decided to order separately, the group readily opened the menu.
British cuisine is rather heavy and rich. They chose this restaurant, not for the joy of the food, but to remember the good times in the UK during University.
Since the owner of the restaurant is a Londoner, the English cuisine here is fairly authentic. The raw materials for all ingredients are imported from abroad. They also serve other western styled dished like steak and pasta. However, when the restaurant opened in China, the boss had to do as the Romans do….. British cuisine is definitely not attracting Chinese customers.
The girls were afraid of all the calories typically associated with British food, so they ordered something simple; skinless chicken breasts. Jiang Hai and Bai Rui ordered a steak.
Zhang Siyi was used to eating western food that was Italian and was pickier about the quality and freshness of steak. Ironically, he had no problems eating fish and chips from British street vendors.
Although the reputation of the restaurant was very good, in the eyes of Chinese, fish and chips was considered a snack food and not something to order for dinner. Today, they were Ren Mengyu’s invited guests so naturally, Bai Rui felt responsible for summing up the order. When he saw Zhang Siyi only ordering fish and chips, he couldn’t help but ask: “Nothing else?”
When he spoke to Zhang Siyi, he attracted the attention of Ren Mengyu. She smiled and said: “How can you still order this type of food that children eat?”
Jiang Hai followed up: “You should eat less junk food. The online review said the steak is very good.”
Su Yuan: “Yes, French fries are very high in calories.”
Zhang Siyi isn’t afraid of high calories. He insisted: “I want to eat them. I haven’t had English food for a very long time.” It is precisely because he eats very healthy at home every day with Gu Yu that he wants to indulge today. In addition, the menu had both nutritional information and photographs of the available dishes. The meal would certainly be large enough for an adult to eat.
Zhang Siyi thought that they really didn’t understand the joys of eating junk food while chatting. One of life’s simple pleasures is snacking on French fries while gossiping!
When the dishes were served, Zhang Siyi’s plate was really huge. The golden French fries were on a wooden cutting board with fried potato skins, bacon pieces, and roasted tomatoes. The unique color and delicious aroma of Zhang Siyi’s plate immediately made the food the focus of everyone’s attention.
Zhang Siyi sprinkled a bit of salt and pepper on the fries then picked up his favorite condiment and squeezed it on top. The English style fries were cut thick and fat. Zhang Siyi speared one with a fork and bit down on one end. The outside was crisp and the inside was soft and delicious.
“Ah, Little Yi, those look really delicious….”
“Let me try one.” Jiang Hai was close to him and directly used his fork to spear a fry from Zhang Siyi’s plate. Everyone witnessed his casual attitude so everyone else at the table followed suit.
Zhang Siyi didn’t mind sharing a few with his friends, but he didn’t have an inexhaustible supply on his plate. Seeing that the fries on his plate were being reduced at a visible speed, Zhang Siyi was starting to panic. He quickly blocked his plate with his hands: “Hey! That’s enough! This is my food!”
Ren Mengyu laughed: “Don’t be so stingy. Ha-ha-ha, you can just order more!”
Su Yuan: “You heard the boss! Don’t worry about saving the gold master’s money.”
Zhang Siyi: “…….” Whatever happened to the concern of junk food and high calories!?
Bai Rui sat aside quietly and smiled at the group of friends. He was older than all of them and although he came as Ren Mengyu’s boyfriend, he always treated them as youngsters. He never intended to fit in with the group.
Watching Zhang Siyi’s anxious expressions over his fries spurred Bai Rui on. He couldn’t help but want to tease him. As a result, like the others, Bai Rui impulsively speared a fry directly from Zhang Siyi’s plate.
Since Zhang Siyi had already been a bit irritated at watching his cherished french fries disappear, his line of site followed the latest fry into Bai Rui’s mouth. Zhang Siyi stared at him for a moment. Having food casually stolen from your plate by friends was one thing, but having it taken away by a stranger was another. Bai Rui was somewhat embarrassed at his action and ducked out of sight.
Bai Rui’s move also surprised Ren Mengyu. He always did what a boyfriend was supposed to do; he brought her out to eat fancy dinners, they watched movies together, went shopping; lavish gifts weren’t uncommon. Although Bai Rui was gentle and very considerate towards her, his attitude was always rather remote. It was as though he was simply following a list of routine chores to finish. As a result, there were neither heartfelt moments nor mood fluctuations between them. Since the beginning of their relationship, her “perfect boyfriend” has always maintained a safe distance from her.
Even though Ren Mengyu posted many photos on dates with him to her social media pages, she knew deep down, she was just deluding herself. She pretended that they had a close, sweet relationship, but on the contrary, their relationship wasn’t sweet and was at an impass.
Some say that woman have a natural and very accurate ‘sixth-sense’ and Ren Mengyu is no different. Subconsciously, she felt that her interactions with Bai Rui were just a game and rather absurd. Since she felt that something wasn’t quite right, in order to maintain her self-deception, she repeatedly asked the people around her for their opinions.
Even so, Ren Mengyu wasn’t able to pull herself out of her own fantasy of love because she was too self-absorbed with the image that Bai Rui brought her when she went out with him.
In fact, Ren Mengyu devised a little test for her boyfriend. When he met Su Yuan for the first time, Ren Mengyu wanted to know if he would treat her any differently. As with Ren Mengyu, he maintained a similar polite distance with Su Yuan. Since Bai Rui didn’t make any ambiguous actions towards Su Yuan, Ren Mengyu felt satisfied.
In addition, she used other meetings with her colleagues to check out Bai Rui’s behavior. Tonight, Ren Mengyu brought Bai Rui with her to meet her classmates in order to verify his feelings and her status.
However, watching Bai Rui so easily stick his fork onto Zhang Siyi’s plate to grab a fry made Ren Mengyu think deeper. Out of all the times Bai Rui has dined with Ren Mengyu, there was never a time when he touched her plate. His action tonight was particularly unexpected.
Even in the face of an anomaly, Ren Mengyu wasn’t surprised. After all, everyone in the group was eating french fries from Zhang Siyi’s plate. She thought Bai Rui could be affected by the cheerful and happy atmosphere.
Zhang Siyi was totally robbed. Looking at his empty plate, he sighed, helpless. Instead, he ordered an egg benedict.
While everyone was enjoying their meal, they continued to talk about the current trends in the construction industry. Since Su Yuan didn’t want to talk about her bleak status with outsiders, Zhang Siyi didn’t get the chance to further encourage her. After telling each other about the projects they have worked on, it turned out that the person with the most enriched work experienced was Zhang Siyi.
If he was like himself a year ago, he would want to brag about his current position, but now that he had been part of the industry for a year, he was well aware of his own shortcomings. It was especially so because his role model, Gu Yu, was with him every day. He served to remind Zhang Siyi just how limited his current abilities as an architect were.
The incident in Japan with Lu Qiao also made Zhang Siyi realize the importance of being modest and low-key. The last thing he wanted was unwanted attention both for private matters and for the sake of his friends who were struggling. Despite trying his best, when Zhang Siyi mentioned a couple of things, his friends were rather envious.
Ren Mengyu: “Oh my God! Your company can afford a business trip abroad!?”
Zhang Siyi scratched his head: “They go every few years. I was luckily enough to have started working at a time that permitted me to go on the company’s trip.
Jiang Hai: “It’s better than nothing!” “
Su Yuan: “Hey, when I first started working, the company also mentioned a business trip, but now they can’t even afford to pay their employees, let alone travel!”
Ren Mengyu: “Yes, if we want to travel we have to spend our own money!”
Zhang Siyi said: “Well, the company didn’t pay for the whole trip and we weren’t there for fun. It was primarily for educational purposes and we had a strict schedule to visit architectural sites.”
Afraid of being hated by his friends due to his good situation, Zhang Siyi hastened to change the subject: “Has anyone been in contact with our other classmates?” Both Yu Rui and Xue Wenhan had stayed in England to earn a Master’s degree. Zhang Siyi surmised they probably finished their studies by now. “How have they been doing?”
Ren Mengyu: “Actually, the other day I saw something about Yu Rui online !”
Su Yuan interest was piqued and was eager to ask: “How was she?”
Ren Mengyu: “She has an internship with The Firm!”
Su Yuan’s face changed: “The Firm?”
The Firm was a very famous architectural design company in the UK located in London. It has always been the gilded company that British architectural students yearn for. With the state of the construction market, a job in China wasn’t easy to find, let alone in the UK. It was practically impossible to get a position within the most prestigious Firm in England.
Ren Mengyu had always felt that Yu Rui used alternate methods to succeed. Ren Mengyu never would have guessed she also used the same methods to climb up the corporate ladder instead of using her own abilities.
With emotion, Ren Mengyu continued: “Yes. In school she had poor grades and relied on boyfriends to help with projects. How can she get a job like that without being the boss’s secret mistress? With just luck?”
Hearing the news, Su Yuan was hit hard mentally and began to doubt herself.