Chapter 54: Sumptuous
Zhang Chi seemed to be in good spirits. “Teacher, You all came to see me this evening instead of resting. You shouldn’t have. Have a seat wherever.”
Gu Zhichang sat on the side of the bed and took a good look at Zhang Chi’s neck. “I heard you were real lucky. It missed the artery by two millimeters. Whew, I don’t know whether to say you were lucky or unlucky.”
“Lucky, of course. My attachment to this world is not over yet. King Yama didn’t want me.” Zhang Chi smiled. His eyes unconsciously drifted to Gu Shi.
Gu Shi had been smiling the whole time, not wanting the other woman to see her emotions.
“You went above and beyond on this assignment,” Gu Zhichang said. “Your sketch was not only accurate, and led to an arrest, you really made the veterans in criminal investigations and analysis stand up and take notice. I have to reward you well.”
Zhang Chi’s eyes flashed. “Oh, what reward?”
Gu Zhichang said happily, “Up to you. I’ll get you whatever you want to eat. This time your teacher will act as your little takeout waiter.”
“Dad was worried when he learned you were hurt and insisted on coming to see you tonight. This is really special treatment. I’m always the one having to help him run errands.” Gu Shi shook her head helplessly.
Zhang Chi grinned. He was so happy to see Gu Shi he didn’t know what to do with himself; his joy was bursting to get out.
Gu Zhichang’s phone rang. “You two chat, I need to take this call.”
The woman stood by the door of the bedroom, smiling kindly and watching them. Gu Shi turned to her. “Auntie, how’s his appetite today?”
The woman shook her head fretfully. “He slept most of the time after I got back from the airport. He’s only eaten two bowls of congee.”
Gu Shi gave Zhang Chi a stern look. “That’s no good. You’re in the recovery phase. Eating is just as important as resting.”
Gu Zhichang hurried in. “Look’s like I’m gonna have to go back on my word. There’s a new case. I’ve have to go see about it.”
“I don’t have to go?” Gu Shi stood up uncertainly.
“Not for now. You can run errands for your old man. We have to keep our word, right?” Gu Zhichang came over to Zhang Chi. “For now don’t think about working. Look how pale your face is! Good preparation saves time. Get yourself back in good health so when you come back I can work you like a dog.”
Zhang Chi nodded gratefully. He said to the woman, “Aunt, you go on and rest early today. I won’t need anything for a while. Please see Teacher out.”
“Okay, as you wish. You should listen to what Gu Shi said. Miss, please, get him to eat something. It’s no good for him not to eat as weak as he is.” She kept on talking as she left, still a bit anxious.
Gu Shi nodded awkwardly and stood to see her dad and the woman out. Once they had left Gu Shi frowned slightly. “You did this on intentionally, am I right? Being so careless?”
Zhang Chi scratched his head. “I got hurt on purpose? No way.”
Gu Shi couldn’t be bothered explaining herself. But she was too curious not to ask, “If that woman is your aunt, how come you live here all by yourself?”
“She was hired by my parents to manage things here. She’s been with me since I was little. She’s spent much more time with me than my parents have. She’s getting old now and her son is taking his college entrance exams so I don’t have her come here often, maybe twice a week at the most. I won’t get into too much trouble here by myself. I eat out so as not to bother everyone.”
“And your parents?” Gu Shi was surprised. He didn’t even have a pet in the house. Living all by oneself seemed too inhumane, and dreary.
Zhang Chi said flatly, “They live in Canada. Their business is there. They come back once or twice a year, if that. I’m used to it.”
Gu Shi had never heard him talk about his family. Now seeing how empty it was here she guessed that even though something major like his injury had happened, he still didn’t want to talk about his parents.
It made her think back to when she was a child, and how she would always cry in the dark when her parents were informed of a new case. They always thought she was sleeping.
Zhang Chi was like her. He would rather be strong on his own than be coddled and weakened. She couldn’t help but sympathize with him and her hard expression began to soften.
“How are you feeling now?” Gu Shi asked him, sitting in a chair by the window.
Zhang Chi heard his aunt close the door downstairs. He looked straight into Gu Shi’s eyes. This girl had not been able to hide her concern since the moment she walked in and was now asking him one thing after another. If he had known that getting hurt would give her the courage to confront her real feelings then he would have bled a lot earlier.
She began to feel a bit uncomfortable under his gaze. Her face felt hot, but she stared back at him, not to be outdone.
He wanted to pull her into his arms when he saw how embarrassed she looked. It was a rare chance to get close to her, if her weren’t afraid of scaring her off.
Gu Shi noticed how easily he seemed to see through her and her heart jumped. She didn’t know what he was about to say to make her blush like this.
She really wanted to get up and leave before he said anything.
But it was too late. Because he faced her said two words one by one.
Two clear, distinct words.
She breathed a sigh of relief and couldn’t help but laugh. “If you’re hungry be hungry. It’s very late, the supermarket is probably closed. I’ll go see if there’s anything in the kitchen. We’ll see how lucky you are.”
“I’ll go with you.” He threw off his quilt.
“No no, I can find my way.” She turned her back and made to leave.
“I’m not that weak, plus I’ve been laying here all day. My bones are all stiff.”
Gu Shi didn’t insist, but followed him down the stairs. He was wearing a silk men’s nightgown, his muscular build faintly outlined under the loose fabric. In the kitchen he sat down on a high stool at the bar and smiled as he watched Gu Shi busy herself.
“I must be dreaming to have a pretty girl make me a snack late at night. Do I have a fever?” He smiled.
“Aside from me it shouldn’t be so hard to find another pretty girl. That He Meng would be the first to help you.”
Zhang Chi’s smile deepened. So she understood. She was not completely unaffected by his charm.
“You don’t get it. Sometimes it depends on the person. The differences between pretty girls can be vast.”
“Yes, you’ve had a lot of experience, so of course you understand.” She could help but mock him.
It was better to quit while he was ahead and not try to explain. But he clearly noticed her annoyance and felt a burst of joy and he relaxed and admired her art of cooking.
From the fridge she took out pork liver, green onions, and an egg, and she pick and chose some ingredients from the cupboard and prepared to make him some handmade noodles. She skillfully cleaned and marinated the pork liver. Once the flavor had soaked in she stir frying the onions in oil and poached the egg. The room was filled with the aroma of food, the pot on the range boiling, but she worked unhurried. In less than ten minutes a bowl of steaming pork liver and green onion noodles and seaweed with dried shrimp soup was ready, a meat and vegetable dish paired together nicely.
He relished the noodles and the soup. He heard Gu Shid say, “This will replenish the blood and calcium. Be careful from now on and don’t do such dangerous things again.” Watching her tidy up off to the side, not so capable and experienced as usual, wearing an apron, she looked like a graceful young housewife, going on and on, nagging him as she worked.
It was a great meal, better than any exotic delicacies he had eaten before. He finished the soup and wiped his mouth. “It would be really great to be able to eat your food all the time.”
She was about to say “You wish!” when she suddenly realized what his words meant.
She didn’t have a good response for that. Or more precisely, she had never really thought about that kind of question. So she just grabbed a spoon and cleared her throat and said, “Do you want another poached egg?”