The two laughed their way to their destination, a Sichuan restaurant. The restaurant looked rather new as the neon signs were still glowing at their peak, so the shop probably opened not too long ago.
The restaurant was not too packed given that it was still quite early into the night. At most, there were three or four occupied tables. There, they saw the ever so familiar Aunt Xiang, seated at the counter occupied with her work.
The two set foot into the shop at the same time, and Aunt Xiang thought they were customers. She took a closer look and realized who they were. “My dear, it’s been a while! And you even brought your boyfriend this time! It’s Little Yang right?”
“Yeah, you remember me, Aunt! Seems like business is doing well. You even got yourself a new shop!” Yang Chen said with a smile.
With a chuckle, Aunt Xiang replied, “It’s only to get through the day honestly. Enough about me, you’re here to see your mother-in-law right? She just went into the kitchen and will be out soon.”
And at that moment, a woman donning an apron while holding a plate of stir-fried snails walked out of the kitchen.
Ma Guifang hadn’t changed much since the last time he saw her at Kunshan Village. If anything, she was dressed slightly more modernly while keeping a hint of that village folk charm on her face. Though she had some wrinkles here and there, she was far from looking old like many of the others at her age. Looking at her, Yang Chen could really see where Mo Qianni got her features from.
“Mom! Yang Chen is here!” Mo Qianni happily exclaimed.
Ma Guifang was ecstatic when she saw Yang Chen. Ever since she moved to Zhonghai, she was able to see her daughter every day since they lived on the same street. But Yang Chen was not always in the country when she was free. So being able to see him made her really happy. "Yang Chen, my boy, you came back! Hold on, let me just serve these customers first.”
Yang Chen nodded. He recalled that previously, she would call him by his surname, and today she actually called him by his given name instead. She has become friendlier and closer, he thought.
After serving the customers, she walked towards the two. She looked at Mo Qianni and said, “Honestly, you could have picked a better time to come, your Aunt Xiang and I are quite busy.”
“It was Yang Chen’s idea, I couldn’t stop him,” Mo Qianni said, casually pushing the responsibility onto Yang Chen. Then again, that was pretty much one of the few things Yang Chen was good for.
Yang Chen nodded in agreement. “Yes, yes! I talked about it on the phone before. Just think of it as a small gesture to repay the favor."
Ma Guifang raised an eyebrow and said, “The restaurant is just about to get busier. Do you want me to head out now?”
Aunt Xiang was eavesdropping on the side and decided to butt in and say, “Oh, go ahead, Guifang, we’re practically family. It’s not always that your son-in-law comes by, so stopping you would not be nice on my part. Besides, you’re only helping out around here, don’t worry about us at the restaurant. I just finished cleaning up the front, so I’ll wait on the customers tonight. Don’t worry about us and have a good time with your daughter and son-in-law.”
Hearing Aunt Xiang’s words, Ma Guifang didn’t refuse the offer. She nodded and said, “Then I’ll go get ready.”
Although they could have just eaten at the restaurant itself, it wouldn’t’ve been a good idea. They didn’t want to bother Aunt Xiang, and didn’t want to create an awkward situation where she would have to serve them foon on the house. So they decided to just eat out instead.
After saying goodbye to Aunt Xiang, the three set off on their way. This time, Mo Qianni didn’t cling to Yang Chen, but to her mum instead.
Yang Chen asked Ma Guifang how her hip was healing, and many other questions he thought was appropriate to seem considerate. Ma Guifang felt his considerateness, and smiled the whole way.
He felt surprised at himself for not being half bad at 'meeting the parent'. At least, seeing his mother-in-law's joy helped him assume that. But then, he thought, Then again, I would be really screwed if I didn't have such a skill given how many women I have.
This time it was Yang Chen’s turn to drive Mo Qianni’s Audi, and off they went to the restaurant picked out by Mo Qianni—a high-end restaurant by the beach. They picked this place because it was quiet. It was the perfect setting for her mom to start bombarding Yang Chen with a ton of questions
They arrived and went up to the second floor, where the glass windows afforded the beautiful ocean view, subtly lit by the lights, with a full moon in view.
Ma Guifang was bewildered the whole time they were in the restaurant. It had proper waiters, elegant decor, a magnificent view, all of which she had never thought she’d see outside of her dreams. She couldn’t help but turn her attention to every single detail of the interior.
It was only natural, given that she had lived in the countryside for most of her life. Everything in the city would seem new and interesting to her.
The same couldn't be said for youngsters however. This sort of thing was all too common for them since they practically lived in this sort of environment anyway.
Though Yang Chen didn’t really mind, he was known for being thick-skinned. As soon as he came back from abroad, he started his mutton skewer stall and got along well with the other hawkers at the market. He did not feel the need to be able to distinguish if things are high-class or not.
Seeing Ma Guifang still in awe of the place to the point where she even took a tour of the place, Mo Qianni ordered for them instead.
Either way, the guy who brought sort of an overly curious country folk to this high-end restaurant raised the eyebrows of the other patrons of the place, but it didn’t bother Yang Chen.
Ma Guifang was also happy. She had come to the city to look for her daughter. Having no knowledge about the place, she got her fair share of eye rolls during her journey. Youngsters these days, especially those who grew up in the city, would always look down upon people like her, people who came from the countryside.
However, Ma Guifeng was not daft. She could not see even a slight trace of condescension in Yang Chen’s eyes. She could tell that Yang Chen was indifferent to her background. He just wanted to make them, or rather, her, happy.
It also did not occur to Ma Guifeng how her daughter could have found such a unique gentleman. As each moment they spent passed, she grew fonder her son-in-law.
In this situation, Mo Qianni who was in the middle of this felt completely content. She came to the busy and bustling city of Zhonghai and worked her way up the corporate ladder to put others that judged her for her past below her. She was really afraid of her mum being mistreated by people, but seeing the kindness and honesty of Yang Chen, she couldn’t help but fall deeper in love with him.
Yang Chen poured wine for Mo Qianni, as the dishes came one by one. There were about eight dishes because Mo Qianni knew how much of a glutton Yang Chen was, so she figured the amount was just about right.
Ma Guifeng insisted on looking at the bill, and realised it totaled to about three thousand yuan. She glared at her daughter and said, “This is way too much for a meal! We could eat for about a month with that kind of money if we just cooked at home.”
Mo Qianni cheekily stuck out her tongue then looked at Yang Chen and back at her mother. “Mum, don’t worry, three thousand is nothing to Yang Chen.”
Although Lin Ruoxi had never mentioned it, but as the 'second in command' of the company, Mo Qianni could easily guess who had helped the company through its difficulty by providing fifty billion in cash.
My man really is something, she thought. He drove her car, lived at her place, worked at her office, but was the most loaded one among them. He really did have thick skin.
Yang Chen, for one, did not think much of it. He giggled and said, “Yep, don’t you worry mum, three thousand, thirty thousand, three hundred thousand, you name it! I just want you to be happy.”
Three hundred thousand yuan?! she cringed at the thought. Even though she knew that Yang Chen didn't come from a normal family background, she felt that Yang Chen's boasting was a little too exaggerated. Waving her hand, she said, “Enough about that, the food’s getting cold. Let’s eat then talk more.”
Yang Chen saw how Ma Guifeng reacted to his remarks and felt a little offended. I don’t usually spew this kind of stuff, so why does she think I’m lying?
The three nonetheless had their dinner, with laughs and smiles to boot. Ma Guifeng couldn’t help but tell stories of Mo Qianni’s childhood, much to her daughter's embarrassment.
She also asked about Yang Chen’s background, like where he lived and what he did for a living. Yang Chen picked a few questions he could answer without breaking his cover.
When it came to asking about his family though, Yang Chen had a hard time with that. As hard as he may try, he would never be able to sever ties with the Yang Clan.
That was especially the case with the appearance of Yan Sanniang. Even though she believed that she didn't do much to help Yang Chen, he still felt that he owed her a favor of sorts.
In any case, even if he didn't acknowledge Yang Gongming, Guo Xuehua would still be considered a daughter-in-law in the Yang household. Even his own wife, Lin Ruoxi, who wasn’t obedient to him, was completely humble before Yang Gongming, much to Yang Chen's dismay.
Yang Gongming placed had the two women most precious to him in his hands. Yang Chen would find it really hard to dissociate himself with the Yang family.
So, to answer Ma Guifeng's question, Yang Chen explained that his family lived in Beijing, while his mother lived in Zhonghai.
Without thinking, that last sentence startled Mo Qianni, who then glared at Yang Chen while anxiety filled her eyes.
Did I just say something wrong? thought Yang Chen, confused.
Ma Guifang was so excited to know that his mom was in town. “So your mother is in town! This is great, we can set a date where I can finally meet her and have a little chat with her. Since we’re all practically family already and you two have known each other for so long, I can see how close the two of you are. Why don’t we just seal the deal and have you both be engaged?”
“Huh?” Yang Chen’s mind went blank at that instant. This isn’t good, this isn’t good at all. Why am I so stupid?! He realised that Mo Qianni was glaring at him like he was an idiot.
Though she thought Yang Chen’s circumstances were a bit odd, she chose not to overthink. “To tell the truth, though we’ve only met twice, I’ve already taken a liking to you since the time you came to our little village. And now that we’ve met again, as a mother, I am sure that you must be the one. I’ve only got one daughter, and I’ve come here alone, I’m sure this was fate. I’m not taking any chances, and I’d really like to have grandchildren soon, so you better get married quick.”
“Mom, I’m still quite busy with work, marriage can wait,” said Mo Qianni, noticing that Yang Chen went blank. She had to hold the fort one way or another.
Ma Guifang rolled her eyes and said, “What? You wanna wait till your mom’s in a wheelchair before you marry? Dear, your mum might have had her hip fixed temporarily but that does not mean that I have no other illnesses. I want you to marry early for your own sake, you’re not young anymore and most girls your age already have children running around.”
Mo Qianni was speechless after that, her mum pulled out all of the tricks in the book to persuade her to marry. If she were to insist on refusing, that would just be plain rude.
The cornered Mo Qianni could only look towards Yang Chen. She was out of ideas, and could only depend on Yang Chen to think of a solution.
At this moment, Yang Chen snapped out of his stupor and finally caught on to what happened.
Actually, this situation here couldn't get any worse, and sooner or later, Ma Guifang would find out about the true nature of their relationship. So avoiding the problem and letting it stew was only going to be worse for everyone in the long run.
On the bright side, his other 'girlfriends', Rose, An Xin, Liu Mingyu all didn’t have this complication. Cai Yan was also the lady of the Cai clan. Even if Cai Yuncheng regarded his reputation highly, he wouldn't ever butt his nose into Cai Yan’s business.
Come to think of it, only Mo Qianni was from a normal family, which was surprisingly rare for him.
“I think that’s doable. I’ll will discuss with my mother for a time and a place to meet you,” said Yang Chen.
Mo Qianni was shocked at the prospect. Would this seal the deal if I meet her? Her heart felt uneasy, but she was helpless to stop it.
Actually, Mo Qianni had already met his mother several times. She just lived next door. There was a time where Guo Xuehua would cook, and Mo Qianni and Rose got along really well with his mother.
But Guo Xuehua thought Rose was Yang Chen’s girlfriend, and that Mo Qianni was Rose and Lin Ruoxi’s good sister, so there wasn't the slightest bit of awkwardness.
She wouldn’t know how she would react if Guo Xuehua found out that she was just another one of Yang Chen’s long list of lovers. Moreover, her own mother’s feelings were something she was trying to protect as well.
And Ma Guifang, upon hearing Yang Chen’s suggestion, perked up quite a bit and drank more wine, looking much younger and refreshed than one of her age should be.
After the dinner, Ma Guifang became quite a bit tipsy, so she had to be supported by Mo Qianni back to her car. Yang Chen needed to head back to the company to retrieve his car, and so he paid for the bill and hailed a taxi.
After seeing Mo Qianni leave with her car, he scratched his head and took a deep breath. He thought, Well, there’s no way out of this now. I can only find Mother and talk to her about this. But the problem doesn’t lie with her, but with my mother-in-law. The key is whether I can persuade her about this. He had no choice but to cross the bridge when he came to it.
At that same time, on their way back, Ma Guifang in her state of half drunkenness suddenly asked, “Dear, is there something you and Yang Chen are hiding from me?”
Mo Qianni focused on the road heard her mum mumbling in her seat. She laughed and asked, “Mom, what are you saying? You startled me.”
“It better be nothing, if it really was something important, I swear to my last dying breath, you will never hear the end of it. I might not have a college degree but I’m not blind. You’re still my daughter, Mo Qianni, you hear that? I know you better than anyone else. If you’re thinking of doing something reckless, just forget it.”
Ma Guifang’s tone was very plain, but her words that reached Mo Qianni’s ears made her really anxious and speechless.
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