The living room was empty and quiet. Xia Lei shut the door behind himself. He went past the living room and looked into the kitchen - no one. As he walked towards the study, Liang Si-Yao came out of her room with a bath towel around her body. Her black hair was wet and she was towelling her hair dry.
Xia Lei stared dumbly at her.
“You…” Liang Si-Yao gaped. “When did you come back?”
“Just now,” said Xia Lei with a smile.
Liang Si-Yao saw him holding his hands behind himself and smirked. “What are you hiding behind you?”
Xia Lei brought his hands to his front and a bouquet of roses appeared like magic.
“Oh!” Liang Si-Yao let out a happy cry and ran to Xia Lei’s side in a few steps with her long legs, not caring whether she had slippers on. She took the bouquet of roses and sniffed. This series of actions were all done in one go - no less from a Wing Chun descendant; she was nimble.
Xia Lei was glad that a bouquet of fresh flowers could make her so happy. He hadn’t thought of using flowers to appease his girlfriend till he saw Gu Ke-Wu try to give Shentu Tian-Yin flowers at the airport. That sight made him remember that he had never given Liang Si-Yao flowers.
Getting girls wasn’t so complicated after all; he learnt quickly.
Having kissed him enough, Liang Si-Yao let go of him when she felt him getting handsy. She sniffed the roses again and took out a pink card from the bouquet. She read it out loud, “To my dear Si-Yao, wishing you happiness every day. From the man who loves you, Lei.” She looked at Xia Lei, all smiles. “Couldn’t tell that you’d write something so romantic. Don’t you find it mushy?”
Xia Lei’s face grew warm. “I, uh… I asked the florist to write something.”
Liang Si-Yao pouted. “You mean I’m not your dearest?”
“Of course you are. That… I… The florist wrote down what I said.” Xia Lei did not know how else to explain himself. Liang Si-Yao had just one towel on her and the shapely lines of her body, coupled with her youthful allure made him rather nervous.
“What a good boy. Kissy-kiss!” Liang Si-Yao suddenly gave him a kiss.
Xia Lei was like a little patch of kindling and Liang Si-Yao the flame consuming him.
The door to the flat suddenly opened and Liang Zheng-Chun walked in with a big bag of groceries. He was promptly met with the sight of his daughter and his disciple in intimate contact, and his daughter with just a towel around herself at that. He quickly turned away and coughed awkwardly twice. “Ahem, ahem.”
Xia Lei and Liang Si-Yao shot apart at almost the same instant. Liang Si-Yao reddened and said in shameful anger, “Dad! Why didn’t you knock?”
Liang Zheng-Chun paused. “I have keys and I’m entering my own home. Why should I knock?”
Xia Lei quickly went to help with the groceries. “I’ll help, Master.”
Liang Zheng-Chun glared at Xia Lei. “You two, I’ve seen through you both a long time ago but you still kept it from me and didn’t tell me.”
Xia Lei did not dare retort and just smiled sheepishly. Shentu Tian-Yin’s problem was solved and he did not need to pretend to be her boyfriend any longer. He’d decided to tell Liang Zheng-Chun about his relationship with Liang Si-Yao that night but Liang Zheng-Chun had unexpectedly witnessed them being intimate. This actually also saved him the trouble of broaching the subject.
“Fine, I know about it already. Go burn some incense for your Master’s wife. Tell her about it and the matter’s settled.” Liang Zheng-Chun was a man who was not bothered by trifles.
“Yes, right away.” Xia Lei merrily went to the living room where there was a portrait of Liang Si-Yao’s mother and a small table with a bronze incense burner on it.
Liang Zheng-Chun glared at Liang Si-Yao while Xia Lei burnt some incense. “What are you standing there for? Aren’t you going to get dressed? You’ve grown so big but don’t know how to be shy.”
Liang Si-Yao did not go off. Instead, she raised her hand and pointed at Xia Lei, who had his back to them. “I want to hear what he’s saying to my mother,” she said softly.
Xia Lei held a lit incense stick and said quietly, “Dear Master’s wife, I like Si-Yao. I’ll take good care of her, rest assured.” He inserted the stick into the bronze burner when he was done, then got to his knees on the praying mat before her portrait and kowtowed with his hands held in front of himself.
The words he said were simple but they were his style and his promise. Liang Si-Yao had a look of bliss on her face. She would have gone to light Xia Lei’s fire again if Liang Zheng-Chun weren’t there.
Liang Zheng-Chun smiled too. Xia Lei was a kind, honest, loveable and sincere person in his eyes and he was reassured that Xia Lei was with Liang Si-Yao. Xia Lei was one of the best ones out there be it looks or capability. How could he be dissatisfied with a future son-in-law like this?
However, Liang Zheng-Chun just smiled, then put on a stern face. “Go get changed! What is this appearance of yours, huh?”
Liang Si-Yao stuck her tongue out at him, then gleefully went back to her room to change.
Xia Lei got to his feet and brought the bag of groceries to the kitchen, saying as he went, “I’ll cook, Master.”
Liang Zheng-Chun laughed. “You’re spoiling her. Let Si-Yao do it.”
“It’s fine. It’s the same no matter who does it,” said Xia Lei with a smile.
Xia Lei entered the kitchen and Liang Zheng-Chun walked slowly to his wife’s portrait. He lit an incense stick and said under his breath, “Don’t worry. Xia Lei is a good man. Our child Si-Yao is lucky. You must be watching over her.”
After the meal, Liang Zheng-Chun called Xia Lei into the study. Master and disciple practiced Pushing Hands for a bit, then sat and chatted. Liang Si-Yao made two cups of tea and brought them over, then stood obediently behind Xia Lei.
“Lei, the martial arts seminar shall begin soon. Have you decided? Do you want to go with me?” Liang Zheng-Chun looked expectantly at Xia Lei.
“Where will this martial arts seminar be held?” asked Xia Lei.
“Mount Emei,” said Liang Zheng-Chun.
“Mount Emei is a famous mountain in Sichuan, isn’t it?” Xia Lei had not been there before but he was familiar with it. He grinned, “I remember reading martial arts novels and a lot of them had characters from Emei Factions.”
“There are still Emei Factions today, just not as exaggerated as in those novels. The Cultural Bureau is organising this martial arts seminar so it’s not strange to have it on a famous mountain like Mount Emei. I’d heard that they’d planned to have it at the Shaolin temple in Lushan but some problem came up and so it was changed to Mount Emei.”
Xia Lei thought for a bit. “All right, I’ll go with you, Master. The company has Si-Yao to run it anyway and there’s nothing left for me to do.”
Liang Si-Yao pouted. “I want to go too.”
Liang Zheng-Chun glared at Liang Si-Yao. “What do you need to go for? Lei and I will be gone for just a few days. Can’t bear to let him leave for a few days?”
Liang Si-Yao’s pretty face was all red but she did not retort - it was as if she’d admitted to it.
“That’s settled then, Lei. I’ll put your name in the form. You’ll get to broaden your horizons if you go,” said Liang Zheng-Chun.
Xia Lei nodded. “Nn, there’s still time. I can also put things in order at the company in this time.”
Liang Si-Yao leaned on Xia Lei’s shoulder. “You haven’t given me those robot-gloves. You have them and Dad has them - what about me?”
“I’ll make them for you tomorrow,” said Xia Lei with a laugh.
Liang Zheng-Chun opened a cupboard in the study and took out the gloves Xia Lei had made for him, smiling as he said, “These gauntlets are very compatible with us Wing Chun practitioners. This is also the best weapon I’ve seen. I will definitely let it make an appearance at the martial arts seminar and let those people see it, haha.”
“Dad, what will you say if someone asks who made it?” asked Liang Si-Yao jokingly.
“Lei, of course.” Liang Zheng-Chun looked at Liang Si-Yao quizzically. What question was this?
“People won’t know who Lei is. They’ll definitely ask ‘Who is Lei?’ and ‘How is this Lei related to you?’“
“I…” Liang Zheng-Chun was about to say ‘disciple’ but seeing Liang Si-Yao’s wide eyes, he changed his words and said with a laugh, “If someone really asks me, I’ll say he’s my son-in-law. Haha.”
“Dad!” Liang Si-Yao changed her mind again. “You can’t wait to marry off your daughter? I didn’t say that I’d marry him! How did he become your son-in-law?”
Liang Zheng-Chun was speechless.
Xia Lei was embarrassed but this did not lessen his good mood. He felt that it was not a bad thing if he really did marry Liang Si-Yao and become Liang Zheng-Chun’s son-in-law.
“I’m going back to my room to sleep.” Liang Zheng-Chun didn’t feel like chatting more with Liang Si-Yao and left after putting his gloves away. He didn’t want to remain and be a third wheel.
Just Xia Lei and Liang Si-Yao were left in the study. They had several topics earlier but they were silent after Liang Zheng-Chun left, looking at each other and keeping their hands to themselves.
A few minutes later, Liang Si-Yao suddenly leaned in close to Xia Lei’s neck and sniffed, then wrinkled her brows. “You’re sour with sweat. Go take a shower.”
“It’s because it was hot when I was cooking. I’ll shower before I sleep, it’s too early now,” said Xia Lei.
“Go to bed earlier. You have to go to work early in the morning. I’m going back to my room.” Liang Si-Yao stood and left the room.
Xia Lei was a little disappointed. He’d thought that Liang Si-Yao would stay in the study to talk a little more. He did not expect her to go back to her room so early to sleep.
Liang Si-Yao stopped in the doorway of the study and leaned against the door frame. She gave him a saucy wink.
“What’s up?” asked Xia Lei curiously.
Liang Si-Yao turned and walked off without a word.
“What the heck…” mumbled Xia Lei to himself. He was bored after sitting there for a few minutes and took some medical books from the shelves before he left the room.
The lights in Liang Zheng-Chun’s room were off; it was the habit of his generation to go to bed early and rise early.
The lights in Liang Si-Yao’s room were also off but Xia Lei found it strange. Why was she asleep so early? He didn’t think further and opened the door to his own room.
“Hold on…” Xia Lei suddenly turned to look at the door to Liang Si-Yao’s room.
There was a gap, and not just a regular gap - it was a gap which a person could fit into sideways.
The memory of Liang Si-Yao giving him a saucy wink as she left the study surfaced in his head. An excited smile spread across his face. ‘So that’s why she told me to take a shower… Am I stupid, or what? Why didn’t I think of this!’
Xia Lei threw the books in his hands into his room and shut the door. He tiptoed to Liang Si-Yao’s door...Previous Chapter Next Chapter