Chapter 317 – A Letter of Appointment
It could be said that as the art exhibition unfolded worldwide, Chen Li’s name had resounded internationally, rising to fame in the global art scene.
And now, Chen Li had become a highly sought-after figure in art schools around the world. They all wished to bring Chen Li into their fold, to have him as a teacher in their respective institutions. Even if it was just an honorary position without teaching, having Chen Li associated with their school was considered a prestigious asset.
It was precisely for this reason that, at a recent meeting, due to Zhuge Yu’s knowledge of Chen Li’s situation, scheduling became somewhat easier after proposing to hire Chen Li as a teacher at Q University. The leaders and other professors present at the meeting unanimously agreed.
In the matter of bringing in Chen Li, Q University had a significant advantage. At the very least, Chen Li had been a former student there, and Zhuge Yu, Chen Li’s mentor, was also teaching at Q University.
Upon recognizing that this was Chen Li’s letter of appointment, Chen Yunlan felt the weightiness of the document in his hands and nodded solemnly, “Alright.”
Only then did Zhuge Yu allow Chen Yunlan to leave. Watching his departing figure, Zhuge Yu’s gaze gradually deepened.
The answer obtained from Mr. Xie had surprised Zhuge Yu greatly. Now, facing Chen Yunlan, he couldn’t help but feel a twinge of heartache for him, almost involuntarily.
If what Mr. Xie had said was true…
Zhuge Yu sighed deeply. Chen Yunlan was too naive, too naive indeed!
After leaving Q University, Chen Yunlan returned home with the letter of appointment to Chen Li and Wei Chen.
At this moment, Wei Chen had already gone to work, while Chen Li remained at home looking after Qiuqiu.
Qiuqiu woke up and sat on the living room floor. Today, Qiuqiu wore a brightly colored black and white outfit, looking chubby and adorable like a triangular rice ball. He held a rabbit-shaped teething toy, the television playing the newly aired cartoon from yesterday, capturing Qiuqiu’s large eyes fixedly on the screen.
Only when a sound came from the door did Qiuqiu turn around to see that the person entering was Chen Yunlan. His face broke into a smile, revealing his inability to speak yet, but he made some excited noises.
Chen Li was in the kitchen preparing rice porridge for Qiuqiu. Although he still couldn’t cook much, making rice porridge had become effortless for him. Hearing some movement from the living room, he leaned out of the kitchen and, seeing Chen Yunlan entering, asked, “Dad, have you had breakfast?”
Chen Yunlan nodded, “Yes,” though he hadn’t actually eaten. But at this moment, he had no appetite and didn’t feel like eating anything.
“Alright.” Chen Li didn’t notice anything amiss and turned back into the kitchen. When he emerged again, he was carrying a bowl of rice porridge.
Big Qiuqiu caught a whiff of the scent and stopped watching the cartoon immediately. His eyes fixed on Chen Li, disregarding the teething rabbit toy he held, eagerly waiting for Chen Li to feed him the rice porridge.
“I’ll feed him,” Chen Yunlan said, placing the letter of appointment on the far side of the coffee table. “You take a look at those documents first,” he continued, taking the bowl of rice porridge from Chen Li.
“Okay.” Chen Li acknowledged and wiped the water stains on his pink strawberry-patterned apron before walking over to the coffee table. He picked up the document bag, opened it, and earnestly started reading each word.
“Dad, what does this mean?” Chen Li recognized the words separately on the document, but when they were put together… It’s not that he didn’t understand the meaning, but rather he couldn’t believe it.
After checking the temperature of the rice porridge, Chen Yunlan fed a spoonful to Qiuqiu, who had been eagerly waiting with his mouth open. Qiuqiu let out a little sound, swallowed it, and opened his mouth again for more.
Chen Yunlan fed another spoonful and said, “Basically, it’s what you’re seeing now. Q University wants to hire you as a teacher at the School of Fine Arts. They might not grant you the professorship immediately, but given your abilities, it shouldn’t take long.”
Hearing it from Chen Yunlan made it more real for Chen Li. He stared blankly at the documents and the letter of appointment in his hand.
This turn of events was somewhat unexpected for Chen Li. While he had plans in place, even after graduating from Q University, he had planned to continue his studies at the School of Fine Arts once Qiuqiu was a bit older.
But now, Q University had presented him with a huge surprise, making Chen Li feel both flattered and doubtful of himself. He felt he might not yet be ready for the position of a teacher. In his current state, he couldn’t imagine standing in front of a class and facing so many students.
Deep down, Chen Li was afraid—afraid of facing so many people alone and of being responsible for teaching them as their mentor.
Chen Yunlan noticed Chen Li’s concerns and reassured him, “Xiao Li, this is just an invitation from Q University. The decision to accept or not is still in your hands. You don’t have to be troubled by it.” He didn’t want to see Chen Li in distress.
“Dad, let me think about it for a few days.” Chen Li carefully kept the documents and the letter of appointment that Q University had handed over, speaking earnestly. A sense of seriousness covered his youthful face, showing how much this matter weighed on his mind.
Chen Yunlan wiped the rice porridge from Qiuqiu’s mouth with a tissue and said, “No rush. Even if you agree, it would be for the next semester’s classes. You have plenty of time to consider.”
“Okay.” Chen Li nodded, taking the document bag back to his room and solemnly locking it away in a cabinet.
He didn’t rush to decline or accept. He decided to let this matter sit for a while. Perhaps one day, he could overcome his fear and step onto the podium.
After Chen Yunlan arrived, he helped Chen Li take care of Qiuqiu. At noon, when Qiuqiu went for his nap, father and son each worked on their own drawings in separate sketchbooks. The gentle winter sun painted a peaceful picture, evoking a sense of tranquility.
As night approached, Wei Chen returned home from work. Hearing the commotion, Qiuqiu leaned towards Wei Chen. He had almost memorized Wei Chen’s returning time, so at this hour, upon hearing the noise near the door, Qiuqiu knew it was “Big Dad” coming back.
Chen Yunlan carried Qiuqiu to the door, and as soon as Qiuqiu saw Wei Chen, he lunged towards him. Wei Chen swiftly caught Qiuqiu and planted a kiss on his chubby face. “Qiuqiu missed Big Dad?”
Although Qiuqiu couldn’t speak, he conveyed his emotions through actions. His chubby face pressed tightly against Wei Chen’s shoulder, and his pudgy little hands gripped Wei Chen’s shoulder. To an onlooker unaware of their bond, it might seem as if someone had upset Qiuqiu.
Wei Chen playfully jiggled the chubby little one in his arms and, not finding Chen Li downstairs, proceeded upstairs, holding Qiuqiu. He knew Chen Li would likely be in the studio.
Just as Wei Chen anticipated, Chen Li was indeed in the studio, holding a paintbrush and outlining figures. Wei Chen approached, carrying Qiuqiu, stopping a couple of steps away from Chen Li, not to disturb him directly.
Despite the distance, it was enough for Wei Chen to discern what Chen Li was painting. The softened expression in Wei Chen’s eyes revealed his understanding. The painting was nearly finished, depicting a scene of Wei Chen and Qiuqiu napping together one afternoon.
The painting depicted Wei Chen lying down, with chubby Qiuqiu nestled in his embrace. A small blanket covered both of them, and Qiuqiu’s hand was grabbing Wei Chen’s lips.
Seemingly an ordinary painting, under Chen Li’s brush, it emanated warmth. Just one painting could make one release all their stress, instantly returning to the comfort of home.
Qiuqiu, being good and aware that Dad was painting, hugged Wei Chen’s neck, remaining silent and waiting for Dad to finish.
So when Chen Li made the final stroke and turned around, he saw Wei Chen holding Qiuqiu behind him. It didn’t startle him. One moment he was immersed in the warmth of his artistry, the next he saw the two protagonists of his painting. Naturally, Chen Li felt elated.
“Achen, when did you get back?” Chen Li said, taking off his paint-splattered apron and walking towards Wei Chen.
“Just got back.” Wei Chen freed a hand to pull Chen Li into his embrace, bending down to exchange a passionate kiss.
Qiuqiu, observing the two dads, also leaned down as they were about to separate, squeezing his chubby face between them.
The three faces almost touched, and Qiuqiu giggled.
The family of three enjoyed a cozy moment in the studio until Chen Yunlan called them downstairs for dinner. Holding hands, Wei Chen and Chen Li walked out of the studio.
On their way to the dining room, Chen Li mentioned the letter of appointment from Q University to Wei Chen. It wasn’t that he wanted Wei Chen’s advice, but he was used to sharing life’s happenings with him.
“What do you think?” Wei Chen didn’t offer blind advice; he always respected Chen Li’s choices.
“I want to think about it some more,” Chen Li replied truthfully.
Understanding Chen Li’s concerns, after descending the stairs, Wei Chen cupped Chen Li’s face with one hand and kissed his forehead. “Li Li, no matter what you decide, I’ll support you. Trust me, I’ll take care of you for a lifetime.”
Chen Li nodded, smiling softly, “I know.”
‘It’s because I know you’ll take care of me for a lifetime, because I have no worries, that I have the opportunity to choose, to follow my heart and do what I want to do.’
Wei Chen ruffled Chen Li’s hair, his eyes filled with tenderness.
Chen Yunlan, who was passing by here, was stuffed with another mouthful of dog food, so he could only retreat silently and put the chopsticks on the table.
Outside the window, the night had settled in. Delicate snowflakes drifted down from the sky, dancing a waltz in the gentle breeze of the cold night.
Yet, just a wall away indoors, insulated from the chill outside, warm-colored lights illuminated a space brewing with the colors of happiness and warmth.