Chapter 1: Reunion
Inside a coffee shop on the east side of the city, customers were sitting in twos and threes.
A man wearing a white shirt flicked the bangs covering his eyes. He took the tortoise shell in his hands and placed it on the table. “Last night, I performed a divination just for today’s blind date. It revealed that my fated partner will appear from the east wearing a long white skirt.”
Ding Meng glanced at herself. No wonder her grandma forced her to wear a white floral dress before leaving.
The man facing her pressed on, “You were born on May 20th, a Taurus. I’m a Virgo. Taurus and Virgo are the most compatible zodiac signs.”
“Are they? Haha.” Ding Meng tilted her head downwards and took a small sip of lemonade from her glass while secretly rolling her eyes.
The other party sized her up with a couple glances. His line of sight paused on her eyeglasses and then he spoke seriously, “However, according to Yi Jing, women who wear glasses will hold me back. Would you be willing to exchange them for contact lenses?
T/N: Yi Jing is an ancient divination text, a Chinese classic.
Ding Meng sighed twice. She really wanted to ask him just what edition of Yi Jing he was reading. However, thinking about her weak hearted grandmother at home, she endured and responded, “Haha, I am allergic to wearing contacts.”
“How about doing LASIK? It’s very quick.”
Ding Ming put on an alarmed expression. “I hear LASIK will burn your eyes. So scary! To be honest, my prescription is very low. I can still see pretty clearly without glasses.”
The man looked at the lens pieces on her glasses which were almost as thick as a wall and laughed dryly. “However, you still can’t see very far into the distance right?”
“No way.” Ding Meng shook her head. “The sun is really far, but I can still see it!
The guy, “……”
Shortly after, the little fortune telling prince found an excuse to leave. After sending him off, Ding Meng downed the remaining lemonade in one gulp. Exhaling a big breath, she took a small case out of her purse and skillfully swapped on a pair of contact lenses.
So wearing framed glasses could prevent romance from developing after all. Her online friends did not deceive her.
Just as Ding Meng put away her case and stood up ready to leave, a lady from a nearby booth angrily slapped the table and stood up. “You don’t have to attend blind dates if you don’t want to, but you can’t insult people like this!”
After speaking, she immediately stomped down on her black high heels and click clacked off into the distance. The other customers couldn’t help but glance in the booth’s direction. Ding Meng held her bag and also curiously took a glimpse.
Qiao Yichen leaned on the sofa silently.
If just that much was insulting, then wouldn’t his attitude towards singers in the recording studio be considered downright cruel? Not only that, people on a blind date should just blind date. Why suddenly insist on singing for him in the middle?
Since she dared sing, she can’t blame him for speaking the truth.
T/N: Goudan literally means dog egg. Eggs are pretty typical in Chinese insults for some reason.
An unfamiliar sounding female voice suddenly travelled to his ears. Thanks to his occupation, Qiao Yichen rated the voice a 70% out of habit. By his standards, this was already a rare high mark.
Only afterwards……Qiao Goudan? What the heck!
He turned his head over to take a glance and saw a delicate and pretty woman.
Ding Meng continued staring at Qiao Yichen in confusion. Then she exclaimed with happiness, “Wow, it’s really you! Goudan!”
Qiao Yichen, “……”
His eyebrows twitched twice. When he was born, his body was weak. The doctor fearfully said it would be really difficult for him to grow up. His mom heard people with simple names were easy to raise. Therefore, she gave him the name Goudan and called him that for quite a few years. Somehow, he actually did grow up safely without a hitch.
However, this was his life’s biggest secret. How did this unfamiliar woman in front of him find about it?
Ding Meng carried her bag in one hand and pointed at her nose with the other. Both of her eyes shone brightly as she looked at him. “You don’t recognize me anymore? I’m your middle school classmate Ding Meng ah!”
The name Ding Meng made Qiao Yichen’s gaze change faintly from doubt to confusion, back to doubt again. “Did you get plastic surgery?”
Ding Meng, “……”
Now she wanted to ask, how ugly was she in his memories?
Back when Ding Meng was in school, she was really chubby. She was famous in her grade for being the little fat girl. Therefore, even though she was a committee member and her grades were exceptional, no one liked playing with her other than Qiao Yichen.
Back in the day, their teacher enthusiastically launched a learning initiative called “One help one”, where students with good grades and students with bad grades were paired to be deskmates in the hopes that both of their grades would improve. Ding Meng was very unlucky to be assigned to the class’ little despot, Qiao Yichen.
When Qiao Yichen was in middle school, not only were his grades terrible, he also got into fights with his school mates all the time. His parents were called to come to the school on a regular basis . Each time he got into trouble, he would be chased across the entire school by his mom. Occasionally while running, she would vigorously roar, “Qiao Goudan. Stop right there for your old mother. I guarantee I wont kill you.”
Somehow, she ended up becoming desk partners with this bad reputation holder, Qiao Goudan. Ding Meng refused the arrangements in the beginning. However, after the teacher gave her a heart to heart talk for half an hour, the hot potato Qiao Yichen was finally shoved onto her.
In the beginning, Ding Meng was a little scared of him. She didn’t dare speak to him or even exchange eye contact. However, after knowing him a while longer, she realized he wasn’t actually as scary as the rumors would have him. Not only that, because he was pretty good looking, many girls in their class had crushes on him.
This gave Ding Meng an unexplainable sense of superiority.
Most importantly, she realized that when her boy classmates made fun of her size, Qiao Yichen would actually help her beat them up. Although Ding Meng didn’t express her thanks verbally, she was very grateful inside. Therefore, every time she saw Qiao Yichen’s exam scores, she would always spare no effort to give him a good scolding.
She thought about how nicely she treated him back then. Now that she lost a bit of weight, he actually suspected she got plastic surgery. Ding Meng couldn’t help but sadly say, “I used to respect you for being a stand up guy who didn’t care about appearances. I didn’t expect the present you to have regressed to be a typical superficial person.”
Qiao Yichen, “……”
He carefully studied the facial features of the young woman before his eyes. Indeed, he could sort of see a resemblance to the little fat girl of his past, just a lot skinnier . Qiao Yichen’s eyes flickered and he spoke with astonishment, “How did you slim down so much? I’ll tell my friend to do it too.”
Ding Meng wrinkled her nose. This little habit of hers immediately made Qiao Yichen laugh out loud. He invited Ding Meng to sit across him and began to catch up with her. “How are aunt and uncle doing?”
Ding Meng, “Better than me. They’re living happily.”
Qiao Yichen, “……”
“How about your parents?”
Ding Meng ah-ed and continued asking, “What are you doing now?”
Qiao Yichen raised his eyebrows a bit. “I’m at Guang Chen Productions.”
Ding Meng’s mouth immediately stretched into an O shape. “That really famous record label? I couldn’t tell that you had such an interest in music when we were kids.”
Qiao Yichen apparently thought of something and frowned. “Let’s not talk about me. How about you? Are you still studying or are you at a research organization performing research now?” Ding Meng’s academic achievements were great. He remembered she told him in English class that she wanted to become a scientist.
It wasn’t until after that class that he memorized the English word for scientist.
Ding Meng unconsciously bit her lips. Then she quickly blinked. “Oh yeah! Just now, what was up with that woman? Did you come for a blind date?”
Hearing this, Qiao Yichen felt his head hurt. “Yeah, my parents are forcing me to get married.”
Ding Meng’s heart felt sad. “Ah, we are fellow sufferers.”
Qiao Yichen was somewhat surprised. “Your family is also forcing you to get married? I remember you’re only 25 this year right?”
Ding Meng started studying early so in elementary school, she skipped a couple grade levels. In middle school, she was the youngest student in her class.
Ding Meng drooped her head like a withering flower. “Before I attended the full moon celebration of my friend’s child, I also thought 25 was considered young.”
T/N: The full moon celebration is a tradition where families and friends celebrate an infant’s first month of life and pray for the child’s future well being. Often one of the first opportunities to see the mom and child after birth.
Qiao Yichen laughed out loud. Ding Meng set a hand under her chin and lifted her eyes to look at him. “Do you still remember my grandma? Last month Grandma Liu brought over her granddaughter’s wedding invitation. My grandma couldn’t keep still anymore and immediately produced a bunch of blind date candidates. She swore that she would marry me off before the wedding of Grandma Liu’s granddaughter.
Grandma Liu was the arch-enemy of Ding Meng’s grandmother. To be a bit more accurate, they could be considered old rivals. Ding Meng didn’t know what grievances the two of them actually held, but she just knew that those two had been butting heads for a lifetime. Every matter needed to be a win or loss. One couldn’t let the other gain even a bit of an advantage.
Ding Meng never concerned herself with their fights in the past, but this time she was getting dragged into it. Only then did she realize…her grandma seemed to actually be serious about marrying her off!
After hearing Ding Meng’s story, Qiao Yichen didn’t know if he should laugh or cry. “What do your dad and mom think?” They can’t just go along with whatever the old lady wants right?
Ding Meng sighed. “My grandma’s disposition is pretty stubborn to begin with. Now that she’s getting older, she’s becoming even more so. We usually go along with her as much as possible. Now, coupled with the fact that she has heart disease, no one in our household dares to provoke her. I’ll attend the blind dates since she wants me to, but whether the other party takes a liking to me is something I have no control over.”
Qiao Yichen laughed. “Well aren’t you being clever.”
Ding Meng lifted her eyebrows to look at him, eyes opening wide. “How about you? You’re older than me by two years. As the saying goes, men are flowers when they’re forty. You’re still in the developing stage. Why are uncle and aunt getting so impatient?”
Qiao Yichen replied, “Our family’s circumstances are a bit complicated. Basically, right now, if I can’t hurry up and find a daughter-in-law to bring home to my mother, I may have to quit my current job and return to the company to help my brother.”
Ding Men blinked. So it turns out he has a company to return to. How upper class. She recalled Qiao Goudan’s home was indeed pretty wealthy. She remembered the first time she visited his house to play, her biggest impression was that his house was as big as a castle.
Thinking up to here, Ding Meng’s eyes suddenly flashed and her pupils lit up. She carefully asked him, “Goudan, I remember you’re a Virgo right?” She remembered that back in the day, some classmates had made fun of him for a while because of this. Ultimately, thanks to his fists, they all shut up.
The corners of Qiao Yichen’s mouth slightly twitched. He suspected she really didn’t remember his actual name. “So what if I am?”
Ding Meng’s face broke out into a smile. “I hear Taurus and Virgo are the most compatible constellations.”
Qiao Yichen became silent for a moment. Then smiling yet not smiling, he looked at her. “You’re a Taurus?”
“Yes I am. I just had my birthday two months ago!” On Ding Meng’s face, an innocent smile continued to blossom. “You see, since our star signs are so compatible, why don’t you consider pretending to be my boyfriend? We can solve both our troubles this way!”
Qiao Yichen seriously thought about it for a bit. Then something in his eyes gradually lit up. “How about instead…let’s just get married.”