Chapter 99: An Order of Dumplings
A-Jiao and Jiang Zhengkai had just finished eating dinner at Uncle Cai’s and were on their way out when A-Jiao’s cell phone suddenly rang.
“It’s an unknown number,” said A-Jiao. She was about to just put it back in her pocket. When a woman in love is spending time with her man, she doesn’t like being interrupted by strangers. Actually, you can add friends to that list as well.
“Why don’t you answer it?” said Jiang Zhengkai as he stopped walking. “Perhaps one of your students’ parents wants to talk to you about something.”
“Oh, yeah, that’s true,” A-Jiao nodded in agreement. After all, parents had on occasion called her before. So she decided to take the call. “Hello, who is this?” Even though A-Jiao didn’t really want to answer this phone call, she was nevertheless very polite.
“Ziyuan, it’s me!” It was Cui Jing’s voice. “How… how are you these days?” Cui Jing sounded like she was exhausted, but also relaxed at the same time.
“Cui Jing!” A-Jiao cried in surprise when she recognized her voice. “Where the hell did you go? I was about to file a missing person report first thing tomorrow morning!”
“Oh, sorry, hehe. I’m alright,” Cui Jing actually giggled at A-Jiao’s expressions of concern. “So, is Principal Li mad?” Now that she could no longer financially rely on Li Hongbin, Cui Jing had a newfound appreciation for her work.
“No, she wasn’t mad, but she did say for you to pack your bags and leave,” A-Jiao said, in feigned seriousness.
“She didn’t actually say that, did she? I’ve been out of touch because I got sick and also lost my phone. She wouldn’t really fire me over that, would she?” Cui Jing’s voice grew louder and her tone became dissatisfied. “Whatever, forget it. If she wants me to leave, I’ll leave. I’m pretty sure I’ll find a job somewhere else,” she quietly complained.
“What happened? You got sick?” asked A-Jiao as she struggled hard to choke back the urge to laugh.
“Yeah, I ran a high fever. I’ve been in the hospital these last couple of days. I finally got better today,” Cui Jing in a helpless manner.
“Really? That serious?” A-Jiao asked in concern. “Can you work tomorrow? Do you want me to tell the preschool you’re on sick leave?”
“Why would I go on sick leave? I’m about to get fired anyway. Wait a second, have you been lying to me the whole time about getting fired? God, you’re such a bitch!” Cui Jing said angrily.
“Hehe, yup! But since you’re so mean to me, I guess I won’t tell the preschool after all. I’ll just pretend I never got this call from you,” A-Jiao replied bluntly.
“You! Hey, come on, girl, could you help a sister out, please? I’m asking you nicely, alright? Please tell the preschool that I’m in the hospital. I just lost my boyfriend, so could you help me not lose my job either?” Cui Jing begged A-Jiao over the phone.
“Oh, alright! But you owe me dinner when you come back!” A-Jiao said decisively. She didn’t ask Cui Jing why she’d broken up with Li Hongbin. Even an idiot could tell from her expression the other day that she got dumped. However, it was rather odd for Cui Jing to bring this matter up herself, and in such a nonchalant manner too. Still, A-Jiao wasn’t planning on finding out the specifics right this second. It wasn’t that she wasn’t curious about what happened, but it would be a bit difficult to get the whole story out of Cui Jing with Jiang Zhengkai standing next to her right now.
“Thank you. You have my eternal gratitude!” said Cui Jing, quickly changing to a happier tone. “Alright, I got to go now. My dumplings are here. Thank you, dear. Bye bye!” Before Cui Jing hung up, A-Jiao heard her say in the background, “Put the dumplings over there. Did you not get a pair of chopsticks?”
“Hmph! And now she’s eating dumplings!” muttered A-Jiao as she placed her cell phone back in her pocket. She looked at Jiang Zhengkai and said, “Honey, I want to eat dumplings, too!”
“Alright, no problem! I’ll get you some when you finish with your evening classes,” said Jiang Zhengkai as he pulled A-Jiao into his embrace. “What kind of filling do you want?”
“Hey, Honey, does the hospital serve dumplings? How come I never saw any dumplings when I was in the hospital?” asked A-Jiao as she raised her head to look at Jiang Zhengkai. “And she said she just fell out of love. Well, it looks to me that she’s fallen back in love again!”
* * *
“Just use your hands!” A-Meng told Cui Jing as he placed a box of dumplings in front of her. Deep down in his heart, he must have thought: I’m not your boyfriend; it’s only because of A-Jiao that I’m helping you right now, and you’re going to nitpick like this? The only problem is, did A-Jiao even know that he was taking care of Cui Jing right now? Sometimes, men liked to embellish their actions.
“No, it’s too hot,” Cui Jing responded with pursed lips as she looked plaintively at A-Meng. Inside her mind, she also felt somewhat intrigued by all this. Why would she have such feelings for this young man? Was it because he’d rescued her from certain death?
“Too hot? Well, why don’t you wait until it cools down then?” replied A-Meng as he sat on the stool next to the hospital bed.
“No!” Cui Jing replied loudly. “I’m a patient, and patients aren’t supposed to eat cold food!”
“Well, what do you want to do then?” A-Meng asked Cui Jing as he struggled to control his temper.
“You should feed me…” Cui Jing quietly muttered.
“What?” A-Meng clearly didn’t hear Cui Jing’s quiet voice, so he stared blankly at her.
“I said, you should feed me the dumplings!” Cui Jing enunciated every word to A-Meng as her face blushed bright red…
* * *
A-Jiao’s evening classes weren’t that interesting to Jiang Zhengkai. After all, he didn’t know much about painting. Besides, he’d never had any hands-on practice with it anyway. As for A-Jiao’s bookcase, he had already gone through it several times. He wasn’t able to find any more paintings that piqued his interest.
Once A-Jiao had finished teaching her first evening class, Jiang Zhengkai walked over and softly asked, “Ziyuan, I’m about to head out and buy you your dumplings. Are you sure you want to eat them at home?”
“Yup!” A-Jiao quickly nodded her head. “Filling in for Cui Jing’s classes over the last couple of days has been pretty exhausting, so I don’t want to go out tonight. Why don’t you go buy the dumplings when I’m about half-done with my class? That way, you’ll be back right around when I’m done with my second class.”
“Alright then. There’s a dumpling joint right across from Uncle Cai’s, right?” Jiang Zhengkai asked.
“Yup!” A-Jiao nodded her head in acknowledgment. “I want shrimp dumplings. Make sure you don’t get the wrong kind, Honey!” A-Jiao forgot her surroundings when she called Jiang Zhengkai “Honey.” She was surrounded by her students and their parents, after all. It was for that very same reason that Jiang Zhengkai had called A-Jiao by her name just now, as opposed to the usual term of endearment that they used for one another.
Halfway through A-Jiao’s second class, Jiang Zhengkai quietly got up and left the art studio. He walked quickly from the preschool to the dumpling shop, since it was some distance away. Plus, that dumpling shop was always very busy, so even though it was already past 8PM, there were still bound to be plenty of customers in the restaurant.
* * *
“I’m finished!” announced Cui Jing once she had eaten through the box of dumplings. She looked satisfyingly at A-Meng. “I want some water now!”
“Hehe, beautiful, do you really think I’m your servant or something?” A-Meng smiled at Cui Jing as he removed the empty dumpling container from Cui Jing’s side. “How were the dumplings? Were they tasty?”
“Yes!” Cui Jing delightedly answered. “Now give me water!”
“It had a special taste, didn’t it?” A-Meng said with an evil grin on his face. He then handed Cui Jing a glass of water that was on the nightstand, before adding, “Oh, I forgot to tell you. Before I got the water, I went to the bathroom, and I didn’t wash my hands.”
“WHAT?” Cui Jing suddenly felt a bit nauseous. She started dry heaving, but nothing actually came up. She grabbed the glass of water from A-Meng and then gave him a stare of death. She knew he’d intentionally said that to disgust her, to play with her. Still, she still felt sick at the thought of his dirty hands touching her food.
“Jeez, take it easy!” A-Meng said, a wicked smile across his face. “I didn’t actually go to the bathroom, so don’t waste any perfectly good food.” He walked out of the hospital room.
“Look both sides when you cross the street! Make sure you don’t get run over!” Cui Jing raised her glass and pretended to throw it at A-Meng, but the glass didn’t actually leave her hand. However, her mouth wasn’t so forgiving as she shouted, “Only come back if you survive getting run over!”