Everyone had their secrets.
Lu Mingming nodded in confusion and then earnestly hooked her little finger with Qi Yanbai, promising to keep his secret safe.
By the time Lu Ye changed his clothes and returned, Lu Mingming had already been won over by Qi Yanbai.
She was sitting obediently on the sofa, wholeheartedly doodling on the large canvas Qi Yanbai had prepared for her.
Qi Yanbai’s ears were sharp, and he quickly heard the sound of Lu Ye entering the house.
He poked his head out from the kitchen, smiling and calling out to him.
“Lu Ye.” Qi Yanbai said, “Your slippers are at the door.”
His words were ambiguous, as if Lu Ye was not entering his house for the second time, but rather had already taken root and found a place in his home.
Lu Mingming was busy with her “artistic creation” in the living room, humming a tune.
The soup for dinner needed to be prepared in advance.
Qi Yanbai placed the prepped ingredients into a pot and covered it before turning on the stove.
The pot heated up quickly, and wisps of steam rose from the vents.
Lu Ye leaned against the door frame, squinting his eyes and sniffing the sweet aroma wafting through the air.
Smells wonderful, Lu Ye thought.
The sunlight outside was gradually being replaced by warmer hues as the day was coming to an end.
Qi Yanbai was focused, carefully carving a carrot into petal shapes.
Qi Yanbai had beautiful hands, graceful in both painting and cooking.
He held the knife with ease, revealing a segment of his fair and slender neck as he concentrated on his task.
The knife rhythmically hit the cutting board, producing a rhythmic sound.
Lu Ye’s gaze rested on Qi Yanbai, drifting aimlessly between watching him and getting lost in thought.
The room was quiet, only the sound of Lu Mingming’s humming and the chopping of vegetables echoed.
Lu Ye, leaning against the door, watched Qi Yanbai’s actions with fascination.
He suddenly realized a sense of tranquil serenity, like a small haven carved out of the bustling world.
Simple, warm – this little space was like a sanctuary amidst the chaos.
Lu Ye exhaled softly, feeling himself succumbing to the soothing embrace of this peaceful atmosphere.
Perhaps, living like this wouldn’t be so bad, Lu Ye thought suddenly.
He was surprised by the thought that crossed his mind.
He had only recently met Qi Yanbai and they had shared just a few meals together.
Yet, he found himself having such thoughts already.
He chuckled at his own whimsical idea, shaking his head lightly.
Qi Yanbai had been observing him out of the corner of his eye.
Hearing Lu Ye’s laughter, he turned his head and glanced at him, asking with curiosity, “What’s the matter?”
“Nothing,” Lu Ye smiled.
“I just suddenly felt that, well, this day seems nice.”
Qi Yanbai blinked, then realized that Lu Ye was surprisingly easy to understand.
Lu Ye might not be easy to get close to, but once he let his guard down, he would become like a large, tamed cat, baring his true character and vulnerability in front of others without a hint of caution.
However, this kind of openness was risky.
Lu Ye was inherently straightforward, and this trait made him susceptible to being hurt by people with malicious intentions.
But that’s okay, Qi Yanbai thought to himself.
Anyway, I won’t take advantage of him.
He just wanted to have Lu Ye by his side, willing to listen to him, focusing all his attention on him.
Qi Yanbai didn’t mind taking care of him in every aspect, big or small.
Qi Yanbai knew that his view of love wasn’t quite normal.
He was afraid that Lu Ye would see some unhealthy possessiveness in his gaze.
So, he quickly lowered his head with a smile, acknowledging with a mosquito-like hum, then turned away to the sink and started unpacking an oxygen bag to use the movement to change the topic.
However, the fish was too lively.
It suddenly leaped out, as if it could shatter the sink, catching Qi Yanbai off guard.
He was hit by a splash of water from the fish’s tail.
Lu Ye, who had been watching, couldn’t help but burst into laughter.
Finally, he straightened up and forcefully reached out, taking the knife from Qi Yanbai’s hand.
“Let me do it,” Lu Ye said, “Don’t let it hurt you.”
“It’s fine,” Qi Yanbai instinctively said, “I—”
“Are you capable?” Lu Ye seemed to understand what he wanted to say.
He turned his head to look at Qi Yanbai and asked with a puzzled expression, “Not everything in this world needs to be done by oneself.
Why not accept help when it’s offered?”
There was a subtle assertiveness hidden in Lu Ye’s personality.
This assertiveness usually stemmed from his assessment of the situation.
He used the back of his hand to wipe away a droplet of water from Qi Yanbai’s chin, and he said in a calm tone, “Otherwise, what’s the point of having friends?”
Qi Yanbai was slightly startled, seemingly taking a moment to understand the implication of these words.
In his understanding, whether it was big or small matters, he should have control over them in order to determine the final outcome.
Ashley wouldn’t help him, and capturing Lu Ye’s attention required his own efforts.
Qi Yanbai had grown used to pursuing his goals through his own hard work, so aside from deliberately showing vulnerability, he rarely sought help from others.
Before Lu Ye, there were others who had attempted to lend a hand, but those attempts had mostly remained as mere verbal reassurances.
They faded away after receiving a “no, thank you.” Only Lu Ye had truly taken on his troubles and genuinely solved them.
—Although Lu Ye’s approach might be a bit assertive, Qi Yanbai suddenly realized that he didn’t mind this attitude.
Qi Yanbai’s distance from the sink was separated by Lu Ye.
He heard the fish flop around a couple more times, but no water splashed onto him.
Qi Yanbai blinked, looking through the gap created by Lu Ye’s movements.
He saw that the fish had been skillfully stunned and was lying obediently in Lu Ye’s hands after being expertly gutted and cleaned.
The small trouble that had been bothering Qi Yanbai had been easily resolved.
Feeling somewhat at a loss, he moved his fingers, feeling a complex and inexplicable emotion welling up within him.
During the courtship phase, male animals often displayed themselves, like peacocks, wanting to impress their potential partners.
Qi Yanbai had initially wanted to take this opportunity to show off his good qualities to Lu Ye.
However, he hadn’t expected things to take a different turn.
He not only failed to present himself well, but he also seemed to be drawn in by Lu Ye instead.
Lu Ye had a way of casually saying a few words that slipped right into the depths of Qi Yanbai’s heart.
It had been true in the hospital, and now, it was the same.
His attitude was like a light spark, falling into Qi Yanbai’s heart, easily igniting a sense of warmth.
“Here, it’s done,” Lu Ye finished dealing with the fish and pushed the prepared ingredients to the side of Qi Yanbai.
He asked, “Anything else?”
Qi Yanbai hesitated for a moment, about to speak, when suddenly Lu Ye’s phone in his pocket rang.
Lu Ye furrowed his brows slightly, wiped his hands with a towel, and took out his phone.
He glanced at the caller ID, and his demeanor shifted slightly.
He moved away from the relaxed atmosphere he had before, adopting a somewhat sharper tone.
“Hello?” Lu Ye answered.
The voice on the other end spoke, and Lu Ye responded with a couple of “got it” before hanging up.
“Unfortunately, we won’t get to enjoy a good meal today,” Lu Ye explained to Qi Yanbai.
“There’s something going on at work, and I have to go back for overtime.”
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