Chapter 255 – Housewarming Banquet

“Zhuge Yu, thank you.” Upon hearing Zhuge Yu’s words, Chen Yunlan experienced a myriad of emotions. Eventually, the only words that came out were a simple “thank you.” Grateful for Zhuge Yu’s sincere treatment of Chen Li, cherishing him as his own son.

Zhuge Yu’s words weren’t entirely accurate. Chen Li had indeed experienced a form of paternal love, at least in Chen Yunlan’s eyes. A part of the emotions Zhuge Yu bestowed upon Chen Li was indeed paternal.

“Thank you for what? Xiao Li is my student, and it’s only natural for me to treat him well. There’s no need for thanks,” Zhuge Yu said, emphasizing, “Xiao Li’s journey hasn’t been easy. Since you know he’s your son, treat him a little better. Though he appears resistant to everything around him, when you spend time with him, you’ll realize he actually yearns to engage with this world. It’s just that before, the injuries inflicted by this world were too substantial, which led to his resistance.”

Chen Yunlan fell into a long silence, finally saying, “I understand,” with a somewhat hoarse voice.

“Let it go,” Zhuge Yu smiled, lightening the heavy atmosphere, and continued, “Let the past be the past. Treat Chen Li well from now on. By the way, when is your housewarming banquet? I need to make a substantial contribution.”

Chen Yunlan closed his eyes, concealing all his emotions, and replied, “Come over tomorrow night. I’ll be ready.”

After that, the two didn’t say anything more and hung up the phone.

The night grew darker, and Chen Yunlan stared at a newly recorded number on his phone. This was the phone number Zhuge Yu had just given him. It was Wei Chen’s number. Chen Yunlan hesitated about whether to call.

Eventually, Chen Yunlan mustered the courage to dial the number.

It rang a few times, and the call was answered, Wei Chen’s voice came through, cool and indifferent, “Hello.”

“I’m Chen Yunlan…” Chen Yunlan gripped the phone tightly, carefully choosing his words, and said, “I’ve moved to a new home and will be hosting a housewarming banquet tomorrow. Could you bring Chen Li with you?”

The words hung in the air as Chen Yunlan anxiously awaited Wei Chen’s response. Though it was only a matter of seconds, it felt like an eternity to Chen Yunlan.

“Okay, I’ll bring Li Li along,” Wei Chen agreed.

Chen Yunlan released a breath he didn’t realize he was holding and felt a surge of excitement. “Great, I’ll send you the address later. Can you tell me what Chen Li likes to eat? I’ll prepare some of his favorite dishes.”

Though tomorrow had not yet arrived, Chen Yunlan could already picture the scene of Chen Li coming to his house, feeling jittery and restless. Wei Chen said, “Li Li isn’t picky; he likes everything.”

“Okay, I got it,” Chen Yunlan said a few words and then asked, “Are there any habits Chen Li has that I need to be aware of…?”

Chen Yunlan asked various questions about Chen Li, as if trying to instantly know all of Chen Li’s preferences, eager to transform into someone who best understood Chen Li. He wanted Chen Li to feel comfortable when he visited the next day.

Wei Chen wasn’t annoyed and succinctly described some of Chen Li’s habits. The two talked for a good half hour before ending the call.

After the call ended, Chen Yunlan immediately jumped up from the chair and, regardless of the time of day, grabbed his wallet and went shopping. He aimed to decorate the house today in a way that Chen Li would like, wanting him to feel comfortable right from the moment he stepped inside tomorrow, instead of feeling anxious in a new and unfamiliar environment.

Once Wei Chen hung up the call, Chen Li approached, sitting on Wei Chen’s lap, and asked, “Was that him on the phone?” The ‘him’ naturally referred to Chen Yunlan. He had heard the content of Wei Chen’s conversation, which was about himself, so he guessed that the call might have been from Chen Yunlan.

Wei Chen didn’t hide anything. “Yeah, it was him. He has moved to a new house and invited us for a housewarming banquet. Are you going?”

Chen Li bowed his head, nestling it into Wei Chen’s neck, and said, “Let’s go.”

Upon learning that Chen Yunlan was his biological father, he subconsciously desired to connect with this person. He didn’t seek to find out why he had been absent from his life for over twenty years; rather, he wanted to know what it felt like to have a biological father by his side.

“Let’s just go and see. If you don’t like this father, we won’t bother,” Wei Chen tenderly whispered in Chen Li’s ear as he held him close.

Chen Li nodded in Wei Chen’s embrace.

The next evening after work, Wei Chen went to Q University to pick up Chen Li and also drove to fetch Zhuge Yu. They headed towards Chen Yunlan’s new residence together.

After around forty minutes, the car entered the garage of the residential area where Chen Yunlan lived. Chen Yunlan was waiting at the door, and as soon as he saw Chen Li’s figure, he nervously stepped forward, his gaze fixated on Chen Li and unable to move away.

“You’re here?” Chen Yunlan said and quickly ushered them inside.

Zhuge Yu, seeing the decoration in the house, was the first to smile, “Chen Yunlan, you’re an internationally renowned painter. Take a look for yourself, does the decor here resemble anything?”

The decoration of the house was simply a mishmash, a chaotic stack of various elements, almost painful to the eyes!

Ignoring Zhuge Yu, Chen Yunlan directed his attention towards Chen Li, observing his reactions. Upon seeing that Chen Li didn’t seem lost or uncomfortable in the unfamiliar environment, Chen Yunlan felt relieved, thinking that his late-night efforts to tidy up had not been in vain.

In the living room, an animated movie that Chen Li often watched was playing on the TV.

“Please sit and wait for a while. Dinner will be ready shortly,” Chen Yunlan invited the three of them to sit down before hurrying into the kitchen to work on the meal.

As Chen Li sat on the sofa, his gaze fixated on the TV, engrossed in the animated show playing, particularly the part he enjoyed the most.

At this moment, Zhuge Yu understood the situation. The mismatched décor in Chen Yunlan’s home was actually pieced together according to Chen Li’s preferences. At a glance, everything was precisely what Chen Li liked.

Realizing this, Zhuge Yu understood Chen Yunlan’s dedication, despite the somewhat unsatisfactory end result.

Twenty minutes later, Chen Yunlan placed all the dishes he had prepared on the dinner table. The large round table was almost too small to fit everything – fish, meat, vegetables, delicacies, both from the land and the sea, prepared by frying, stewing, steaming, and stir-frying. It was a spread meant to cover every possible taste as he wasn’t sure of Chen Li’s preferences. Chen Yunlan thought he’d surely hit upon something Chen Li liked.

“Chen Yunlan, are there more guests coming?” Zhuge Yu marveled at the array of dishes on the table. In his memory, Chen Yunlan was a man who wasn’t skilled in domestic chores. When did his culinary skills improve to this extent? The dishes seemed perfect in presentation, but Zhuge Yu was curious about the taste. Still, judging by the appearance, they must be delicious.

“Just us,” Chen Yunlan replied.

“Just us?” Zhuge Yu was astonished. “Are you sure the four of us can eat all of this?”

Chen Yunlan didn’t say anything more to Zhuge Yu, stating, “Eat if you like, if not, you can leave.” He had prepared this meal for his son. If Zhuge Yu didn’t want to eat, he wasn’t going to force him!

Of course, Zhuge Yu couldn’t resist. He sat down quite unceremoniously, almost taking on the demeanor of the host, inviting Chen Li and Wei Chen to join. “Well, let’s sit and eat. You must be hungry.”

While taking in the appetizing aromas, Chen Li’s gaze fixated on the colorful and aromatic dishes spread out on the table. As the host had given the cue, he couldn’t wait to sit down.

As Chen Yunlan sat down, his housewarming banquet began. It was an intimate affair with just four people, a simple yet plentiful feast. It was apparent by the satisfied expression on Chen Li’s face that he thoroughly enjoyed the meal. Chen Yunlan’s mood was notably relaxed.

Chen Yunlan’s culinary skills were indeed remarkable, even superior to Wei Chen’s. It seemed professional, and Zhuge Yu couldn’t stop eating, while Chen Li was no different. Most of the time, Chen Li was eating with his mouth while his eyes were fixed on another dish.

Observing Chen Li’s intent, Wei Chen picked up his chopsticks and added the dish to Chen Li’s bowl. Throughout the meal, Chen Yunlan, as the host, barely ate; his heart softened entirely while watching Chen Li eat.

Naturally, with only four people and an abundance of dishes enough to feed ten, even with Chen Li and Zhuge Yu having hearty appetites, there were leftovers. Despite that, with their stomachs full, there was still much food left on the table, and Chen Li, stuffed and unable to eat more, could only look longingly at the leftovers.

After the meal, Wei Chen voluntarily took up dishwashing duty, and Zhuge Yu offered to help. However, this left the two father-son pair in an awkward, silent situation.

The awkwardness was broken only when the doorbell rang.

“I’ll go get it,” Chen Yunlan said, getting up to answer the door, wondering who else knew about his new residence.

Chen Li watched the somewhat flustered figure of Chen Yunlan, thinking of something.

At the door, after opening it, Chen Yunlan was met by two strangers, one older and the other younger.

The older one, upon seeing Chen Yunlan, introduced himself promptly, “I’m Sheng Jiaqi, the one who called you last night. The matter concerning Qu Ran is crucial to us, hence this intrusion. I hope Mr. Chen can understand.”

Considering that the visitors had come to his door, Chen Yunlan couldn’t dismiss them outright. His tone was rather distant as he asked, “What is your relationship with Qu Ran?”

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