Chapter 312 – Hot Spring Hotel

The winter nights used to fall quickly; it was around six o’clock when the ink-like darkness had already spread across the world. Outside the window, snowflakes fluttered, draping the entire world in a silver blanket due to the heavy snowfall.

Beyond the window, the snow fell heavily, the cold wind biting, yet inside, a different scene unfolded.

Thanks to the heating, the entire room was warm as spring. The atmosphere inside was cozy, as if carrying a sweet scent.

Big Qiuqiu sat on the carpet, gnawing on the ear of the rabbit chew toy while glued to the TV screen. No matter what, the gaze just couldn’t be diverted.

The TV played the latest animated series. They didn’t know if Qiuqiu could understand it, but every time Chen Li watched, Qiuqiu’s eyes were fixed on the screen. He was unwilling to look at anything else, insisting on switching to the children’s channel for animation.

During the cartoon, Qiuqiu’s attention was entirely captured. With the chew toy in his mouth and eyes fixed, he didn’t care about the drool streaming down; he just kept watching.

At exciting moments, Qiuqiu even freed a hand, pointing at the TV and shouting as if to communicate with others, then giggling to himself, not caring about those two tiny front teeth anymore.

The floor where Qiuqiu sat was covered with a thick carpet. Qiuqiu loved sitting there. While Wei Chen and Chen Li were busy with other things, Qiuqiu, apart from sleeping, obediently sat on the carpet, gnawing on the white rabbit’s ears. If someone played an animated series at that moment, he might not even want to sleep.

Of course, despite Qiuqiu’s obsession with cartoons, they could never surpass his position in his heart. No matter how much he enjoyed watching cartoons, eating was always his top priority.

It was mealtime for Big Qiuqiu now. Wei Chen brought over the milk powder, and as Qiuqiu smelled the milky fragrance, he blinked his big eyes, finally tearing them away from the TV screen. He let go of the rabbit chew toy, looked at Wei Chen approaching him, and exclaimed, “Ah ah…,” his eyes sparkling. It was almost identical to Chen Li’s reaction upon seeing something delicious.

Wei Chen lifted Qiuqiu and sat beside Chen Li. In just a short while, Qiuqiu’s hands were constantly in motion, reaching for the milk bottle.

Wei Chen allowed Qiuqiu to hold the milk bottle himself. Qiuqiu was already quite skilled at drinking milk on his own, gripping the two ears on top of the bottle with both hands, sucking on the teat with a cooing sound. His chubby cheeks moved along with his actions, coupled with his sparkling big eyes, making him incredibly cute.

Chen Li couldn’t resist reaching out to pinch Qiuqiu’s chubby cheeks while Qiuqiu was absorbed in drinking milk, offering no response to Chen Li.

Yes, Qiuqiu, who was currently drinking milk, could be teased—just as long as his bottle wasn’t taken away, he was okay with it.

The potential for being a foodie was clearly evident from infancy.

Soon, the milk was finished.

Qiuqiu raised the nearly empty bottle and reached out his other hand to grab Wei Chen’s chin, making sounds like “Ah… Ah.”

Wei Chen helped Qiuqiu by taking the bottle down and gently patted Qiuqiu’s back to help him burp and prevent any milk spit-up later.

“Burp!” Qiuqiu let out a loud burp, a sound that wasn’t drowned out by the noise from the TV.

Both Wei Chen and Chen Li heard it and looked at Qiuqiu. Qiuqiu, perhaps feeling a bit embarrassed, lowered his head and snuggled into Wei Chen’s embrace. 

Obviously, this action by Qiuqiu brought immense joy to both dads. Chen Li laughed heartily, while Wei Chen’s eyes held a faint smile.

Perhaps infected by Chen Li’s fatherly amusement, Qiuqiu in Wei Chen’s embrace also giggled, his big eyes squinting into a smile, and his two tiny front teeth showed up like two grains of rice.

Chen Yunlan emerged from the kitchen, sensing the cheerful atmosphere in the living room, and couldn’t help but smile. Walking over, he asked, “Achen, you don’t have to work tomorrow, New Year’s Day, right?”

These days, Wei Chen had been quite busy. Although he didn’t work overtime on weekdays, he had to handle some work-related matters during weekends, leaving Chen Yunlan uncertain whether Wei Chen would have the New Year’s Day holiday off.

“No work tomorrow,” Wei Chen replied, placing Qiuqiu in Chen Li’s embrace and getting up to wash the milk bottle.

“I have a few vouchers for a hot spring hotel. Since you’re off tomorrow, why not go soak in the hot springs with Xiaoli?” Chen Yunlan mentioned as Wei Chen passed by.

“Dad, aren’t you coming?” Wei Chen asked as he entered the half-open kitchen.

Chen Li cuddled Qiuqiu, gently resting his chin on Qiuqiu’s head. The two strikingly similar faces, one large and one small, were side by side, both pairs of big eyes glued to the TV. Hearing Wei Chen’s question, Chen Li also turned and asked, “Yeah, Dad, aren’t you joining us?”

Shaking his head, Chen Yunlan replied, “You young folks go. I’ll stay home and take care of Qiuqiu.”

Qiuqiu reacted to hearing his name, responding with an “Ah,” but his gaze remained fixed on the animated show on TV.

Wei Chen finished washing the bottle and came out, inquiring, “Dad, which hot spring hotel is it?”

“It seems to be Foggy. These tickets were given to me by Zhuge Yu. He said it’s a very famous hot spring hotel in the capital and can only be accessed with these vouchers,” Chen Yunlan explained.

Wei Chen was familiar with Foggy. It was a well-known hot spring hotel brand affiliated with the CS hotel group, a high-end establishment that had only one location in the entire country, right in the capital.

CS was a multinational conglomerate dealing with hotel management. Their hotels were spread across the world, headquartered in the gambling city in the United States, founded by a person named Xie Chunsheng.

The Foggy Hotel, rather than being a regular hotel, was more like a benefit provided by the CS group to some of its top customers. Foggy didn’t cater to the public. Only esteemed guests holding the Foggy gold card or those with hot spring vouchers could enjoy its facilities.

A while ago, Jiang Ye and Lan Xiping had visited and invited Wei Chen and Chen Li along. However, Wei Chen was swamped with work and had to decline, but he did have some knowledge about this hotel.

Wei Chen, knowing which hotel it was, felt assured. He said to Chen Yunlan, “Dad, Foggy’s facilities are quite comprehensive. They even have special hot springs for babies. Let’s all go together, including Qiuqiu. Come with us.”

Chen Yunlan wasn’t particularly inclined to go soak in hot springs. He was about to decline when Chen Li spoke up, “Our family has never gone out together. Dad, this is a rare opportunity. I want to go with you.”

“Ah!” Qiuqiu chimed in.

Naturally, Chen Yunlan couldn’t refuse Chen Li’s request. With Chen Li’s insistence, Chen Yunlan nodded, “Alright, I’ll come too.”

When Wei Chen sat down next to Chen Li, the two exchanged a glance, understanding each other without words.

They knew that Chen Yunlan hadn’t truly moved on from that past. Though he seemed fine on the surface, Wei Chen and Chen Li had witnessed Chen Yunlan zoning out into the void at times and even shedding tears occasionally.

When Chen Yunlan spaced out, neither Chen Li nor Wei Chen disturbed him. Some things couldn’t be resolved just by others’ words. Some wounds were too deep for time to heal.

For over twenty years, Chen Yunlan had traveled the world, attempting to forget his past through self-imposed exile. However, the results were minimal. The wounds that needed to stay in his heart remained, and recalling them would still cause him intense pain.

Fortunately, he had found his child, and that had somewhat alleviated the pain from those wounds. Some vitality had finally entered his somewhat lifeless body.

However, those wounds were still too deep, compounded by Chen Yunlan’s artistic temperament, binding him tightly to the past, unable to break free.

Previously, he had hidden these emotions well. But recently, with Chen Yunlan having more idle time, these emotions had surged within him, causing sleepless nights and restless tossing and turning.

Indeed, Chen Yunlan suffered from severe insomnia, not just recently but for over two decades. He had never had a good night’s sleep. The long nights were spent in a state of half-sleep, half-awake.

In the past, whenever Chen Yunlan closed his eyes, he would envision Qu Ran falling from the building.

Since meeting Chen Li, Chen Yunlan’s insomnia had improved somewhat. However, for some unknown reason, it had resurfaced recently, troubling him once more.

Chen Yunlan had never spoken to anyone about these issues. However, Wei Chen and Chen Li, as observers, noticed that Chen Yunlan had visibly lost a lot of weight over the past month.

While Wei Chen and Chen Li were concerned about Chen Yunlan’s condition, they didn’t know how to help him. So, when they received the hot spring vouchers, they thought of taking Chen Yunlan along to relax.

Though they couldn’t make Chen Yunlan move on from his past, they hoped that the hot springs would temporarily ease his body and mind, allowing him to have a good night’s sleep.

Wei Chen and Chen Li cared deeply for Chen Yunlan. On multiple occasions, they had suggested he take trips to relax, and they even consulted Lu Min to help Chen Yunlan. However, Chen Yunlan’s inner turmoil was too severe. Even after a hypnotherapy session with Lu Min, Chen Yunlan’s subconscious fiercely resisted others’ intrusion, keeping him bound to his past and tormenting him relentlessly.

“Except for himself, no one can help him,” Lu Min remarked. In all his years as a medical practitioner, Chen Yunlan was the most challenging patient he had encountered. Even more challenging than providing direct psychological suggestions to Chen Li.

After all, Chen Li’s psychological issues stemmed from external factors, which could be resolved once the root cause was identified. However, Chen Yunlan’s internal struggle was caused by himself. He had ensnared himself in the pain of the past. Even with Lu Min being an experienced psychologist, he couldn’t extricate Chen Yunlan from this cocoon because unraveling it depended entirely on Chen Yunlan himself.

The pain of the past tightly encased Chen Yunlan. He was unwilling to look forward, unwilling to move on. Chen Yunlan’s mental state was understandable. Despite the endless agony brought by past memories, they were the only things that made him feel Qu Ran’s genuine existence. Qu Ran was the reason Chen Yunlan was reluctant to move on from the past.

The next morning, Wei Chen and Chen Li were already prepared to head to the Foggy Hotel.

Since Chen Yunlan had agreed to accompany them, he didn’t break his promise. When the time came, he got into Wei Chen’s car, and the family of four set off towards Foggy Hotel.

Qiuqiu was cradled in Chen Li’s arms. This wasn’t his first time going out, yet he remained immensely curious about the outside world. His big, round eyes swiveled, observing the world outside the window. Whenever he spotted something intriguing, he’d reach out his hand toward the window and then start babbling to communicate with Chen Li.

Chen Li had boundless patience with Qiuqiu. Whenever Qiuqiu pointed at something, Chen Li would explain, sometimes unclearly. He even felt a bit puzzled himself, but Qiuqiu earnestly listened without responding with his usual babbling, although it wasn’t certain if he understood or not.

Occasionally, Wei Chen would interject. After a remark, both Chen Li and Qiuqiu would turn their gazes towards Wei Chen. In their strikingly similar pairs of eyes, there seemed to be an admiring glow.

Sitting in the back, Chen Yunlan watched the interactions of the family of three in front of him. He seemed to be affected by their sweetness, feeling a bit relaxed. The car journeyed towards the outskirts, leaving the skyscrapers behind. Trees gradually populated the roadsides, adorned with freshly fallen snow from last night’s snowfall. The white snow piled atop the branches, occasionally falling when the wind blew, leaving behind bare branches.

The Foggy Hot Spring Hotel was located in the suburbs of the capital, nestled amidst the woods, resembling a mountain-style resort.

When Wei Chen’s car arrived at the foot of the mountain, it was stopped. This was a private estate and didn’t welcome external vehicles. Only after Wei Chen presented the hot spring hotel vouchers did the security permit their entry.

The drive from the base of the mountain to the Foggy Hot Spring Hotel still took another ten minutes or so. As Wei Chen drove to the mid-slope, they spotted a grand structure.

The Foggy Hotel harmonized with the local customs. Having settled in China, the architectural style adopted ancient palace designs of China, with red walls, yellow tiles, solemn and dignified, even bearing a Chinese name.

As Wei Chen and Chen Li gazed up at the plaque overhead, displaying the Chinese name of the Foggy Hotel, their feelings were quite complex.

The owner of the Foggy Hotel must have had an interesting thought process. The Chinese name of the Foggy Hotel turned out to be—”Yun Lan.”

As the person involved in the name coincidence, Chen Yunlan didn’t particularly mind. “Foggy” in Chinese means “mist,” and “Lan” is “mist” too.

It was just a coincidence.

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The word Foggy here was written originally in English.

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