Both of them had seen pictures of each other, but it didn’t feel the same as meeting face-to-face.

Jiang Rui was wearing a red floral-printed, short cotton coat. It was lightly tucked at her waist and when paired with navy blue trousers, showed off her good complexion and lithe figure. On her heart-shaped face, two thin curved eyebrows were akin to the distant mountains shrouded in clouds, a pair of eyes that were like a misty lake in the winter and tiny lips dyed vermilion, at first glance, thought to be the cranberries in the mountains.

Zhao Nan was dressed in his military uniform, looking refined and tall.

The two stared at each other from a distance. Jiang Rui turned away first and she stared at her feet.

Zhang Xiaohua whereas did not have any scruples as she looked on casually while walking, and she even spoke in Jiang Rui’s ear.

“He’s very tall, much taller than your brother. Sure enough, soldiers are different. Look at his chest and waist, he seems energetic from head to toe.”

Walking closer, they were able to see more clearly, and she added: “He looks good. A few years ago, the girls on our brigade said that Han Wenke is good-looking, with a scholarly appearance, but in my opinion, he looked a bit soft and weak. It’s still guys like this, masculine and tough, that seem more manly. You little girls don’t understand, after you marry, you will know what’s good and bad.”

Hearing that she had other meanings to her words, Jiang Rui was slightly embarrassed, “Sister-in-law, stop talking.”

“What’s wrong, you are surprisingly shy.” Zhang Xiaohua giggled.

As they got closer, they saw that at this time, Zhao Nan was the only one at the bus stop by the side of the road. Zhang Xiaohua pulled Jiang Rui’s hand and walked over, “You are Zhao Nan, right? This is our family’s Baoqin, and I am Baoqin’s sister-in-law.”

“Hello.” Zhao Nan nodded to Zhang Xiaohua, then looked at Jiang Rui and said with a straight face, “Hello, I’m Zhao Nan.”

Jiang Rui gave him a quick glance and whispered, “I’m Du Baoqin.”

When she finished speaking, Zhang Xiaohua snorted, then she covered her mouth and laughed.

Jiang Rui looked at her strangely.

Zhang Xiaohua waved her hand, and said with a smile on her face, “Don’t worry about me, I just think you two are too well-behaved, just like children, “hello”, “who am i”, like two little dolls that are seeing each other on the first day, about to meet a new friend.”

“Sister-in-law……” Jiang Rui tugged on Zhang Xiaohua’s sleeves and quietly looked at Zhao Nan, but found that he was also looking at her. She immediately turned her eyes away, her face slightly hot.

But in her heart, she felt relieved. 

If she wanted to restore Zhao Nan’s soul, she needed to get close to him and use the spiritual energy around her to nourish him, or like what she did with the picture previously, guide the spiritual energy out from her body and store it in the object, though this method would not last long.

The best way would be to become someone close to him, to be in constant contact, influencing him subtly and imperceptibly. Originally, she wanted to be his comrade-in-arms, but she couldn’t find a suitable body, and later, she found Du Baoqin.

Now it seemed that this approach was quite effective, Zhao Nan should have a good impression of her.

Zhang Xiaohua saw the small movements of the two, and just laughed, til Jiang Rui was embarrassed, then said, “Don’t need to be so restrained, Ah Nan…… can I call you that?” Seeing Zhao Nan nod, she continued: “I heard that you just got home yesterday, how did you get back? How long did it take?”

“It took 40 hours of travel, by train.”

Zhang Xiaohua said in surprise, “Oh, that’s not close at all, it must be a hard journey, right?”

“It’s not.” Zhao Nan said.

“Looking at your physique, you seem to be able to endure hardship,” Zhang Xiaohua said with a smile: “Like our Baoqin, she looks pale, gentle, and weak, but in fact, she’s not squeamish at all, our housework was all done by her, and all the rabbits are taken care of by her. She is capable and diligent, and although I am her sister-in-law, I’m not half as good as she is. She just doesn’t talk much, and she can’t say pretty words to make people happy, but she is indeed the most well-behaved.”

Hearing what she said, Jiang Rui didn’t stop her, letting her praise as she blushed and said in a low voice, “How can sister-in-law say that sort of thing…….”

“You silly girl,” Zhang Xiaohua patted her hand lightly, but looked at Zhao Nan, obviously speaking to him, “Sister-in-law is being honest, what’s wrong with letting Ah Nan listen? Ah Nan, don’t you agree?”

Zhao Nan nodded earnestly, without the slightest perfunctory, “Yes.”

The two of them were not talkative people in the first place, so when they met for the first time today, they were somewhat restrained and even less talkative. Fortunately, Zhang Xiaohua was able to speak well, and she was all smiles as she spoke which did not let the situation become awkward.

Gradually, a few more people came. The three of them stopped talking and waited a few steps away by the roadside.

Not long after, the bus came. Zhao Nan bought three tickets and gave two to Zhang Xiaohua.

“Thank you.” Xiaohua smiled politely and did not shirk.

Zhao Nan waited till the two of them boarded the bus, then he followed. When he was at home, Zhang Liyun had told him back and forth many times, when going out to meet the girl and her family, if he wanted to make a good impression on the other party, he had to be proactive and thoughtful. It was also better to be sweet, and you couldn’t always wait for the girl to talk to you. If you really could not think of anything to say, then you should be diligent in your actions, and be generous, always try to let the other party see the good in you.

He merely heard it without listening to it before, as her words went in one ear and out the other. Now that he saw the actual person, he realized that the little intimacy he felt from the picture was not an illusion, and more than the picture, the feeling of wanting to be closer to her is stronger in real life. Thus, he started struggling to remember what his mother had said.

When the bus arrived at the county seat, it was neither early nor late. If you had lunch at this time, it would be too early and if you wanted to go to the park with someone, it would be too cold as it was in the winter. As for watching a movie, no one would go there in the morning.

The three of them were walking down the street, Zhang Xiaohua and Jiang Rui were holding hands, and Zhao Nan followed from the side. The three of them were all young people, Zhao Nan was dressed in military uniform, Jiang Rui was brightly dressed and looked beautiful, while Zhang Xiaohua also looked not bad. As they walked together, they frequently attracted attention. It’s just that even if the scenery was beautiful, the cold wind of the twelfth lunar month was quite unpleasant, so they had to find a place to settle down.

As the year-end approached, the stores on both sides were much busier than before. Zhang Xiaohua wanted to suggest shopping in the stores, but it was not up to her to say this, for she feared being misunderstood by the male’s side, thinking that the woman was taking advantage of him. Although she knew that a wealthy family like the Zhao family should not be so stingy and sensitive, it was their first time meeting, and both parties were still trying to figure out each other’s bottom line, hence they had to be careful.

Fortunately, when Zhao Nan saw the Yang’an Department Store in front, he finally remembered what Zhang Liyun had said to him and he suggested, “Let’s go take a look around at the supply and marketing cooperatives?”

The two of them naturally agreed.

The supply and marketing cooperatives were full of people. After working hard for a year, at the end of the year, no matter whether or not there were any remnants, people should always treat themselves well. The counter was crowded with people holding money and various tickets, and huge piles of New Year’s goods were moved home as if they were free of charge.

Zhang Xiaohua was stunned. The Du family also bought some things, but they could not be compared to the people in front of them. Besides, although the commune issued a few tickets, some of them were in short supply and could not be obtained, such as sugar. Those who had tickets, most of them were factory workers.

Jiang Rui and Zhang Xiaohua only came in to watch the fun and to pass the time. They could not afford anything themselves, but they still felt a sense of satisfaction from looking at the counter that was filled with a variety of goods.

On the first floor were cigarettes, candies, pastries, and other non-staple foods. Whereas, the second floor had assorted fabrics, wool, and ready-to-wear clothes. Lastly, on the third floor were some large pieces of furniture.

Zhang Xiaohua circled a 12-inch black-and-white TV, carefully looked at the price marked, then turned to share a look with Jiang Rui. Both of them covered their mouths at the same time and ran away with a smile.

At that price, even if they sheared rabbit fur for a lifetime, they still might not be able to buy it, which was simply too scary!

Zhao Nan was behind the two of them. He watched them run down to the second floor without stopping, and as they prepared to directly go to the first floor, he asked, “Do you have anything you want to buy?”

Jiang Rui stopped and shook her head gently, “Just taking a look.”

Zhang Xiaohua asked with a smile, “Are you buying something for your family? We can give you some reference.”

Zhao Nan nodded in agreement and the three of them walked around on the second floor. After looking around, he saw a few woolen scarves for women. According to the salesperson, they were a trendy style from the south, and every girl in the big city had one. The thin scarf was soft and warm to the touch, much warmer than the one woven with fleece, and each cost several dollars.

Zhao Nan bought seven at once and spent dozens of dollars. Not only Zhang Xiaohua and Jiang Rui were startled, even the salesperson was shocked.

Zhang Xiaohua had guessed a little bit, and she joked: “Ah Nan bought so many, is he planning to change career and sell scarves?”

│Mochi: Aww, he wants to show off to the girl he likes (๑>◡<๑)

When they were on the first floor, Zhao Nan also bought a pack of fruit candies and another pack of toffees, then he proposed to have lunch together.

There was only one state-run restaurant in Yang’an County. Now that it was lunchtime, there were many people in the restaurant. The three of them found a table and sat down, and Zhao Nan asked them what they liked to eat.

The menu was written on the wall, and Jiang Rui chose the stir-fried small rapeseed, while Zhang Xiaohua ordered a radish, pork ribs soup. Zhao Nan got up and went to the window to pay for the ticket, and then sent the ticket to the back kitchen.

When he was far enough, Zhang Xiaohua sighed and said to Jiang Rui: “Looking at the way he spent money just now, I was taken aback. When buying a scarf, do you know how long it takes for people to consider it? He bought seven at once, and also when others buy candies, they buy them one piece by one piece but he bought them in packs. Fortunately, I kept it under control and didn’t show too much surprise, otherwise, he would take me for a country bumpkin.”

Jiang Rui said smilingly, “Sister-in-law is not at all unsophisticated. In our family, you are the best at holding the stage.”

“I love hearing this. Look at you, what is the point of you smiling at me so prettily and being such a high-hat? (T/N: this means that she is being snobbish and supercilious) You should also smile at other people. Listen to sister-in-law, don’t look at how extravagantly he was spending money just now, it’s mostly because he wanted to show off in front of you and he is also doing it for you. How many people are there in their family, would he need to buy seven ladies’ scarves? There must be your share too. Ah, my sister-in-law is just amazing, the first face-to-face meeting, and the other party is so fascinated that he’s racking his brains, trying to please you.”

Jiang Rui pursed her lips and said softly: “Sister-in-law, lower your voice. If other people heard you, it would cause you to lose face together with me.”

“You’re still making fun of me?” Zhang Xiaohua raised her eyebrows, “I just said in front of others, that you don’t talk much, and that you are not a loquacious person. But now you are proving me wrong, how are you not talkative, you are just covert and deeply hidden!”

Jiang Rui smiled without saying a word.

Zhang Xiaohua saw this, and for some reason, she suddenly felt that this little sister-in-law of hers was not that simple.

In the past, she only saw her working hard, not fighting or vying for anything, and at first glance, seemed like she would suffer. Today was the first time she was meeting the other person, if it was a normal little girl, they would be shy and panicky. But, although her sister-in-law looked ashamed and shy, she did not panic at all. Now, with the smile hanging from the corner of her lips, she clearly looked calm and composed, like she was doing it with ease.

She then thought about Zhao Nan, though he didn’t talk much, he could not control his eyes once he saw her sister-in-law, and he kept glancing at her now and then. From his proactive behavior just now, anyone could see that he had his heart set on her. But she unexpectedly couldn’t tell what Baoqin was thinking.

Zhang Xiaohua couldn’t help thinking to herself: Maybe everyone was wrong, in this Du family, Baoqin was the one that was most deeply hidden.

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