The holiday was coming to an end.
During this period of time, the business of Xingyue Bakery became more prosperous. Many shops had taken advantage of the situation and launched the same type of exploding custard croissant. The taste might be similar but the popularity couldn’t be compared to the former.
The popularity of this croissant wasn’t because it was delicious. It was more due to the attraction brought about by Ji Tong’s photo.
The photos taken after imitating his actions were everywhere, but none of these deliberately posed shots could reproduce the natural and rich atmosphere of happiness.
He Shiwen was very aware of the credit of this photo but didn’t try to continue to consume it, such as printing it out as a large advertisement and hanging it in front of the store or asking Ji Tong to do publicity.
The decorations in the story hadn’t changed. The not-so-big frame still hung firmly on the wall behind the cash register along with photos of his daughter and wife eating.
He Shiwen refused all those who wanted to invest or join. He wasn’t ready to expand and open branches or do publicity. He felt that it wasn’t good for his business to be too busy. This would lead to less time to spend with his wife and daughter.
The money was enough and he liked the relaxed days when he could occasionally be lazy and tease children.
During this small holiday, Xiao Pei’s younger brother often came, but he only stayed for a short time every day. He usually came over for lunch and dinner.
Now there were enough staff members in the store and they could eat without pausing to entertain customers. So every time Xiao Xiao Pei appeared, the customers in line would recognize him and take photos of him excitedly, as if they had encountered a little star by chance.
At that time, Xiao Xiao Pei was waving politely to a group of brothers and sisters. Then he would say in a serious manner that he was eating and was busy. Combine this with the quiet protective posture of the teenager next to him. In the midst of the laughter, everyone was still very reserved and didn’t rashly step forward to disturb them or make more demands.
Once there were fewer customers in the afternoon, He Shiwen would force Xiao Pei to do his homework on the small round table beside him. He knew that Xiao Pei was in his third year of high school and couldn’t waste all his vacation time on a part-time job.
During the rare quiet moments in the bakery, the handsome young man was reading a book seriously in a corner. In front of this unique scenery, even the customers who walked in would instinctively step lightly.
Everything was kept at just the right temperature for tranquility.
He Shiwen was very satisfied with such days.
On the evening of the sixth day, Xiao Pei asked for a day off tomorrow for the first time when he normally stayed in the bakery all day. He also had to leave early tonight because he had something to do.
Of course, He Shiwen didn’t object. He had seen Xiao Pei’s ID card so he asked, “Are you going to celebrate your birthday tomorrow?”
Pei Qingyuan thought about it before nodding. “There is something very important to do on my birthday.”
“Happy birthday and have fun tomorrow! Call me if you need help with anything.” He Shiwen sighed before smiling. “On my 18th birthday, I woke up early in the morning to go to the Internet cafe to play games. I got dizzy from playing and was almost caught by my mother.”
“Now that I think about it, I still miss it very much. From this day on, you can finally do things you couldn’t do before, right?”
Pei Qingyuan listened to the chatter and his gaze softened. “Yes.”
“If you have time tomorrow, come to the store to eat a cake. If you don’t have time, you can do it the day after tomorrow.” He Shiwen lowered his voice. “Two days ago, a customer ordered a very beautiful cake. It just so happens to be picked up tomorrow. I think it looks very good but it is too big. I will go back and make you a mini version to taste.”
Pei Qingyuan didn’t refuse his kindness and thanked him seriously. “Thank you, Uncle He.”
In the warmly lit store, He Shiwen watched the young man ride away until his figure disappeared. Then He Shiwen turned back emotionally.
What a kid who worked hard to live.
Today, Pei Qingyuan didn’t go home directly according to the previous route. He instead rode toward the community with light beige buildings.
Ji Tong had helped him make appointments with several owners, all of which were carefully selected after analyzing the information. After viewing the apartment today, he could sign a contract and move in tomorrow.
Thinking of this, Pei Qingyuan’s always cold expression was also filled with subtle expectations.
On the way, he received a call from Fu Chengze and the others.
“Brother Pei, have you finished your homework?”
There was a commotion on the other end of the phone. Several people were talking at the same time.
“It must be done. I always see Brother Pei writing his homework when passing by Xingyue. Quickly get to the point!”
“If you want to copy homework then it has to be Brother Pei. If you want to lose in a one-on-one on the court, it is Xiao Pei…”
“Shut up! Do you want to fight?”
“You guys, why are you bothering me? Hurry up and write the papers. There is only one day left!” Fu Chengze hurriedly stopped the group of idiots next to him and was hesitant for a moment. Then he squirmed and said, “Well, if you have finished, can you…”
Pei Qingyuan said honestly, “It is finished, but the papers arranged for our class are different from other classes. You can’t copy it. Still, I can teach it.”
Wails were immediately heard from the phone. There were words such as ‘how can the third class’s teacher be so special?’, ‘quickly look through the address book for the next person’ and ‘look at Xiao Pei’s time management.’
Fu Chengze also wailed for a moment before calming down. “Forget it, it isn’t a big deal. In any case, the teacher is used to it.”
“By the way, will you come out tomorrow to play? Let’s go sing!”
He replied earnestly, “Not tomorrow. I have something very important to do.”
Fu Chengze was disappointed, “Okay, busy man.”
There was a moment of silence from the other end of the phone. Just as Pei Qingyuan thought that the other person had hung up, a neat shout was suddenly heard.
“Happy 18th birthday!”
Incomparably enthusiastic voices rushed toward him through the radio waves.
In the warm wind, a faint smile finally appeared on the boy’s face.
Pei Qingyuan responded quietly. Then he pressed against the pedals harder and rode toward the building with wide balconies in front of him.
At 9 o’clock that night, Pei Qingyuan returned to the Luo house for the last time. It was also the earliest he had returned in recent days.
He entered the door with two newly bought cardboard boxes. Luo Xiuyun, who was hesitating in the living room, looked over with some surprise. She found that her son’s expression was faintly joyful.
A few days ago, she offered to celebrate Pei Yan’s birthday. Pei Yan nodded and agreed like he was looking forward to her arrival. Then after Luo Xiuyun calmed down, she was a bit worried.
She forgot for a moment that the two children were born on the same day and were going to celebrate the same 18th birthday.
If she went to celebrate Pei Yan’s birthday, what would Pei Qingyuan do?
Luo Xiuyun had been worrying about it for several days.
She saw her son actually came back so early and her expression softened. The anger that had accumulated for a long time in her heart inexplicably dissipated. She took the initiative to say, “Are you taking the boxes to clean up the room?”
Pei Qingyuan looked at her and nodded.
“Oh, then you should be careful.” Luo Xiuyun instructed. “You can put away all of Yan Yan’s things and give them to me.”
The teenager didn’t answer or refute her. He just quietly walked into the room with the cardboard boxes.
The next morning, Pei Qingyuan got up early. It was as if he was cleaning his room early in the morning.
Luo Xiuyun listened to the movements outside for a long time. She finally made up her mind, knocked on the door and said in a low voice, “I have something to do during the day. I want to go out. I will buy vegetables in the afternoon… for your birthday.”
She couldn’t let go of the son she had raised with her own hands, so she could only come up with this compromise. She would first go to the Pei house to celebrate Pei Yan’s birthday. Then she would come back in the afternoon to make Pei Qingyuan a good meal.
Luo Xiuyun thought of the conflict between the two of them a while ago and the rare meekness of her son last night, she couldn’t help trying to persuade, “From today on, you will be an adult. You must be obedient. The previous things are over. In the future, our mother and son will live a good life…”
The door opened a crack. Pei Qingyuan stood behind the door, watching her quietly.
He said, “I see.”
Luo Xiuyun’s heart immediately relaxed. “Then I’m going out first. I’ll come back later.”
The person in the room whispered, “Goodbye.”
She heard her son saying goodbye to her so sensibly today and was in a good mood. She went out with a smile.
It was just that she ended up coming home much later than she had promised.
At Pei Yan’s grand coming-of-age ceremony, Luo Xiuyun saw many people who could only be seen on TV before. She was very close to Pai Yan at first. Then she subconsciously got further and further away. Perhaps she was deliberately being separated by others or perhaps she showed her own timidity.
She stood in a corner of the party hall, looking up at the bright and flawless family in front of her, shrouded in a golden light.
The father in a suit and leather shoes, the beautiful and noble mother and the son who was well-behaved like a little prince. Countless smiling faces surrounded them. In this distant and magnificent world, people even laughed with subtle tones and scale.
Luo Xiuyun panicked and burrowed into a corner. She finally realized that she was out of place and wondered if it was time to go.
Yan Yan had said it was a pleasure to see her come.
So in a daze, she stayed until the evening before leaving.
The vegetable market was close to closing. Luo Xiuyun hastily picked some meat and vegetables. She bought a ready-made small cake from the bakery closest to home and hurried home.
She went upstairs and smelled the smell of food coming from the house next door. The flashy and beautiful scenes kept swirling in her mind, causing her temples to ache.
For the first time, she even missed her son, who rarely spoke and always stayed quietly in his room reading.
Luo Xiuyun took out her key to open the door. The living room was dark but she didn’t care. She knew that Luo Zhichang must’ve gone out to find a worker to drink and watch football with.
She put down the dishes and took the initiative to knock on Pei Qingyuan’s door. She was secretly annoyed that she would have to face another cold face, but no one answered for a long time.
The gap at the bottom of the door was also pitch black. Not a trace of light came through.
Luo Xiuyun was stunned and reached out to turn the doorknob.
The small, crowded room had no lights on. Only faint moonlight came in through the window, coating the cold furniture with a halo.
Everywhere Luo Xiuyun’s eyes looked, all the things that Pei Yan used had been well preserved by her. Thus, the person who came later didn’t overstep the distance at all and didn’t make any changes without authorization.
A tidy bed, empty desk and overcrowded bookcase… all the furnishings had been restored to their original state. Even the cardboard boxes that Pei Qingyuan had been using to store books were gone.
The traces that belonged to another child completely disappeared.
It was as if he had never appeared.