If you haven’t had Yunnan Crossing the Bridge Noodles (云南过桥米线), please try them. They are my favorite type of noodles and I have, sadly, yet to find a good authentic place near where I live now. It made me pretty happy to see them appear so many times in this novel…It also resulted in a hangry translator…But, if you are anywhere near a Yunnan restaurant offering them, or Yunnan itself, I urge you to go as soon as possible. You won’t regret it.
Anyway, I digress…
It’s clear that Li Chuan is a very private person who doesn’t let his guard down easily. But here comes a high-spirited Xiao Qiu who isn’t afraid to poke of him, to stand her ground against him, and to love him despite his disability. Resulting in him letting her into his life and his heart.
As promised, things speed up and start getting hotter in this chapter. Honestly, I was completely surprised the first time I read the novel. Did not expect things would move so fast. How many times had Li Chuan and Xiao Qiu interacted with each other before this chapter? Who knew an invitation to go swimming would turn into something else entirely? 😉
We returned to Long Ze Hua Yuan. Having left in a hurry in the morning, I didn’t take a careful look at this high-rise. It’s shape really did shadow everything else surrounding it. It rose above all the other ethnically styled buildings. It was like a peacock with its tail spread open, yet also like a lotus in full bloom. Such splendid imagination. Was it really a product of his?
The inside of the high-rise was a splendid sight. There was a crystal chandelier, murals, and fountains surrounded on all sides by palm trees. Every person walking through was dressed immaculately. Several young housewives, dressed in fashionable clothing were idly chatting on the couch is in the lobby while holding puppies dressed in colorful clothing with butterfly bows. There were dazzling jewelry, dazzling plants, dazzling luxury everywhere.
I saw the security guard from this morning again, he was still looking at me with an expression that was a smile yet not a smile. Li Chuan says the structure of the high-rise was complicated, he had to hold onto my hand to prevent me from getting lost. When the security guard saw Li Chuan he quickly came over and said in a respectful and flattering manner, “Mr. Wang.”
Li Chuan stopped, waiting for him to speak.
“Your assistant, Mr. Su, came to look for you.”
“Oh, I turned off my cell phone.” He picked up his phone and said to me, “Sorry, I need to make a phone call. Is that alright?”
So polite. I promptly said,” please.”
Not wanting to disturb his conversation, I planned to walk away. He held on to me.
— It’s me, Li Chuan.
— I still have two last drawings. Isn’t the deadline on the fifteenth of next month?
— Moved up? What do you mean moved up? A deadline is a deadline, it can’t be moved up. Unless if they pay more money.
— Pay how much more? I don’t know. I need the budget committee to calculate it. Forget it, tell me tomorrow.
— There’s a meeting tonight? Since when? Oh…right, reoccurring meeting. I forgot.
He looked at his watch.
— Is everyone here?
— Please ask them to go back. I’m not feeling well and can’t make it.
He hung up and was just about to put the cell phone back in his pocket before it rang again.
He looked at the ID and answered.
— Ge. (Older brother)
— Very good.
— It’s nothing.
— I can’t arrange it. Wait two more months. Where will you be in February?
— I might be able to go to Zurich. I’ll let my secretary notify you of my itinerary.
— Already received it, thanks.
— I am sleeping. Haven’t gotten out of bed yet. Stayed up all last night.
The conversation took thirty seconds. He turned hung up and looked at me in apology.
“Are you always this busy?” I asked.
“It’s not every day.” He said, “Right now we can go swimming.”
We went up together and changed into swimsuits. He wore a pair of black swimming trunk, exposing his taut abs and muscular chest. We each put on a bathrobe and rode the elevator to the third floor.
The swimming pool had two levels. The third level had only one pool. There was not a soul in sight. I leaned over to look down, the second floor pool was larger with an additional smaller play pool for kids. But there were also less than ten people in the pool.
“Waste of resource.” I said, “There are so few people swimming here.”
“Are you sure you know how to swim, and won’t drown?” He asked seeing me casually standing at the side of the pool barefooted.
“I won’t drown.”
“You know, I know someone who also said he could swim, but then, the second after he jumped in infront of me, he started crying for help.” He looked at me. “I had to jump in and drag him up.”
“If you cry for help after jumping in, I will also save you.” I raised my head provoking him.
“So you mean I can completely trust that you can move about in the water and don’t have to accompany you everywhere.”
“You can trust me a hundred and twenty percent.”
“Champion of the four-hundred meter freestyle county sports competition,” he threw down his bathrobe, “let us have a competition. How about it?
“Okay.” I took his crutches and put them by the pool.
“South Pond High School,” he pointed to the white characters on my swimsuit. “Was that your school?”
“Yes, what about it? The name sounds nice right? Our high school had a main street outside the gates, called West Gate Street. South Pond, West Gate, such antique, romantic names!” (South Pond and West Gate are normally part of hero names you would see in ancient novels.)
“Sometime when you go back home, I’ll go with you to check out your high school.” He blurted out. Sometimes the things this guy says are as foolish as a first grader.
I stood infront of him and stroked the back of his head, “That’s enough, Classmate Li Chuan. If you want to be nostalgic, find your own hometown. Don’t try to borrow them from Yunnan.”
“That male student said that people of Yunnan like eating Crossing the Bridge Noodles?”
“What is Crossing the Bridge Noodles?”
“There’s a county called Mengzi in Yunnan where the United Nations General Assembly used to be in the southwest. Folklore says that there was a scholar who was going to take the imperial exam isolated himself on an island to study. His wife was afraid that he would be eating cold meals, so she invented this kind of warm rice noodle soup. Every time she would bring it to him, she always had to cross over a small bridge. After he passed the imperial exam, he would say that it was due to the rice noodles and henceforth named it Crossing the Bridge Noodles.” (For a better explanation, see the wiki article.)
“After we finish swimming, let’s go eat Crossing the Bridge Noodles, okay? There must be some in Beijing, right?”
“Yunnan restaurants should all have it. I just don’t know where they are.” I really missed rice noodles too.
“That’s easy, I’ll search online and find one in a second.” He said, “I’m tired of standing, time to jump in.”
We jumped into the water together.
I charged forward, swimming at lightning speed. But I could still sense him by my side. He continued to stick by me. I tried and tried but could not overtake him. At the last thirty meters, he disappeared. When I got to the finish and raised my head, I found him sitting on the edge of the pool laughing at me.
“I ate too much today, my body is heavy and can’t swim fast. You barely ate anything during dinner tonight. It was all me helping you eat.” I quibbled.
“Can’t accept it, right?” He pulled me up.
“Can’t accept it.”
“Let’s go for another four hundred meters?”
We jumped into the water at the same time. Once again, he quickly left me behind, leading the entire time. At the end, I dashed forward and bumped my head into the palm of his hand.
“Oh!” I cried out.
“It’s not an official race, there’s no need to swim so fiercely.” He was going to pull me up from the water, “If I didn’t block you, you would have bumped into the wall.”
I pulled him into the water, “No, let’s go again.”
“Not again, if we go again, you’ll still lose.” He said, “Miss, it’s time to face the truth.”
“How about you get a ten meter head start and I’ll follow you?
“You want to humiliate me?”
“I don’t dare.”
We started at the same time. He was still in the lead the whole time, still faster than me by several seconds.
At the finish, he pulled me up. He looked tranquilly at me as I sat on pool side panting, “Do you want a drink?”
I shook my head.
“There’s a deck chair over there, if you are really that tired, you can go lie down and rest.” He pointed to a row of tanning chairs across the pool.
“Strange, how come no one else is swimming today?” I looked all around.
“Everyone is on the floor below.” There was no need to say it. He designed this high-rise and had special access to certain parts of the building.
“That’s great,” I said.
“I can use this opportunity to punish you. Who asked you to get me to make a fool of myself infront of the president?” I jumped up, pulled him into the water, and pinched his back.
“Ow, ow,” he was hurting, “wasn’t I just pushing for a scholarship for you?”
“Stop it! Stop it!” I pinched his neck without explanation.
He caught me, fastening both of my hands together. I kicked at his leg in the water, “Let me go!”
Instead, he fasten my arms even tighter, not letting me move. Then, he suddenly started kissing me. Starting from the forehead, going inch by inch, purposely avoiding my mouth. He kissed from my ears all the way to my chest, until my entire face was scarlet. He then came back and gazed at my face.
“Did I scare you?”
“Can I kiss you?”
His lips were ice-cold. He breath was warm and fragrant. I looked at him, confused. He let go, cupped my face, and kissed with such force, as if he wanted to kiss even my soul.
The most important moment of my life happened so quickly. My first kiss and my first time was unexpectedly on the same day, at the same time! The passion happened automatically. I was very willing and don’t regret it a bit.
“Does it hurt a lot?”
Even though Li Chuan was older than me, his expression looked as confused as me. He wasn’t too skilled, he was even somewhat bashful. He was gentle and cautious through the whole process, afraid of hurting me. Afterwards, he held me tightly, not minding a bit that I placed my hand on the injured part of his lower body, gently caressing the thin scar upon his skin.
I suspect, besides hospital nurses, Li Chuan had never been touched like this by someone else before. The water was warm, yet he shuddered as if he was cold. And I imagined how he turned into a shattered mess after the car accident, picked up by doctors and nurses and put into an operation room stuck with tubes all over.
It must have been an awful car accident to leave such a dreadful injury on his lower body, taking away practically half of his bones.
In an empty swimming pool, there was always a bit of an echo when words were spoken.
We climbed out of the pool and put on our own bathrobes. My loin suddenly ached a little. I sat down by the edge while rubbing my loin.
He looked at me with guilt. After a bit, he softly asked, “Does it still hurt?”
“It’s not bad.” I laughed calmly. I couldn’t help but become intoxicated by his handsome face once again.
“I’m sorry.” He said, “Next time I’ll be more careful.”
I sucked in a breath, “Next time?”
“Do you need me to support you?” He had already stood up. Seeing that I was still rubbing my loin, he held out his hand to pull me up, worried that I wouldn’t be able to walk.
“There’s no need.” I picked up the crutches and handed them to him. Then I stood up and put my hand indistinctly onto his body.
“Take away your hand, you horny girl.”
“I am just supporting you.”
We entered the elevator together, the doors closed, and he groaned, “Let go.”
“What are you afraid of, this is a private elevator.” I said. And then, I stuck my face down and kissed the thin scar on his lower body. He grabbed onto my hair, wanting to pull me up, but not daring to use force so as not to hurt me.
The elevator dinged and opened.
We entered the flat, facing each other in the entrance way. He tenderly kissed me, “Does it still hurt?” From the beginning, it seemed like he only cared about this question.
“It doesn’t hurt.” I liked how his hand stayed on my body. I liked snuggling close to his face, bathing in his scent. I liked to incite him and see him be tormented by lust.
“I need to go take a shower.” He said.
“I’ll wait for you.”
“You’re not going to shower?”
“Mmm…I don’t quite like to shower.” In the winter, I would only take a shower once every three days. The public baths at school were too crowded.
He pulled on my ear and led me to the bathroom, “That won’t do. You want to leave it as evidence don’t you? Shower, you have to shower.”
After coming out of the shower, I found that he had already changed clothes. He was impeccably attired in a suit, and had even put on a wrist watch.
I was still in my student wear, a wool sweater, a miniskirt and a backpack on my back with a string of keys hanging and clinking on it.
He sized me up, “How come the more I look at you, the younger you look?”
“I’m not young, I just matured early.”
“How old are you?”
“I seduced an under-aged girl. I’ve become a criminal of the country.”
“In order for the flower of the country to grow with health, you must often water it.”
Just as I finished speaking, he pounced at me with swiftness. His artificial limb was still bound onto his waist. I helped him undo the strap, “Did you need to tie it so tight? Just looking at it makes it seem like you can’t breathe.”
His body had a mixture of aloe vera and apricot scent.
He was looking for the button on my skirt, nearly tearing it apart.
“Slow down, you’re going to tear the skirt.” I laughed in annoyance.
“I’ll compensate you if I tear it.” He continued on. We tightly embraced each other on the couch, until we climaxed.
In the end, he quietly gasped for breath. His eyes filled with gloom, “Is today your safe period?”
“What safe period?”
“When did you last menstruate?”
“It just finished. This suit is probably several thousand yuan, right? It’s been so messed up by me.” I stood up to pick up the mess.
He relaxed, “What if something happened to you? Your dad would cut me to pieces.”
“Don’t be afraid.”
“Don’t be afraid.” I repeated.
“You said this was your first time?”
“Then you…aren’t afraid?”
“It depends on who it’s with. With you, I’m not afraid.” Might as well boast. Then I asked in reply, “This can’t be your first time, right? You look a lot older than me.”
“…” He refused to answer.
“I didn’t think you would be this brave.” He sounded a bit embarrassed.”
“Don’t think about it that much, okay? It’s just a man and a woman being together. Than’s all. Hurry and get dressed, I’m hungry. Let’s go eat Crossing the Bridge Noodles.”
“Let me go take a shower first.”
“Another shower? You’re really crazy.” I looked at him, speechless. This person had mysophobia.