“Empress Mother kissed me!”
Song Yuan was so excited about the girlfriends meeting up for the next two days that she couldn’t sleep. It felt so much like the night before the spring outing when she was little!
She got up early the next morning. How early? Rong Ting wasn’t even awake when she came out of the bedroom.
She already set up a time with Rong Heng. He should be coming over at around eight.
Although she wasn’t sure whether or not he would have had breakfast when he came over, considering that he would be taking care of the child for the next two days, Song Yuan prepared breakfast for three.
Her and Rong Ting’s breakfast had always been simple. She’d soaked the soybeans before going to bed last night, and in the morning she used the soaked soybeans, walnuts, and red dates to make soymilk. It was rich and mellow, and Rong Ting liked it very much. She also steamed the big pork buns she got from her aunt1 and fried a few eggs and some bacon. In a good mood, Song Yuan used the beautiful plates and washed some fruit, then took a photo to upload to her Moments. It was practically a textbook Moments post on her perfect life2.
By the time Rong Heng came over, Rong Ting had already finished washing up.
“Have you had breakfast?” Song Yuan casually asked as she poured soymilk.
Even if Rong Heng had eaten, he would say he hadn’t. After all, there were very few chances for the three of them to sit down and have breakfast together; he couldn’t miss out on it.
Song Yuan had put on a different style of makeup and sprayed on perfume. The fragrance wasn’t strong; it was rather light and smelled nice.
A child as big as Rong Ting was actually very easy to take care of. As long as he ate three meals a day and slept well, that was enough. He could read books and practice calligraphy by himself, making it very stress-free for adults. Based on this, plus the fact that the father and son had spent the last five years depending on each other in the palace, Song Yuan no longer nagged Rong Ting about what he needed to pay attention to. Maybe he was even better than her when it came to taking care of a baby.
After breakfast, Song Yuan had put on her coat and picked up her suitcase, getting ready to go out, when she remembered that she hadn’t packed her curling iron, so she tossed her coat onto the sofa and rushed to her bedroom.
In this short period of time, Rong Heng found the opportunity to stick a card into her coat pocket.
Rong Ting, who had witnessed the entire thing, turned his gaze away, acting as though he hadn’t seen it, not wanting to expose Emperor Father.
“Then I’m leaving.” Song Yuan came out of the bedroom, put on the coat, and stood in the hallway with her arms stretched out to Rong Ting. “Come here, baby, let Mom hug you. We won’t see each other again until tomorrow night.”
Rong Ting smiled with some embarrassment, but he still came up, stretching his hands out to hug her.
Song Yuan felt that she’d become much more courageous. Kissing, hugging, and lifting up high–she wanted to do all three things, but she had to take it slow. Taking advantage of when Rong Ting couldn’t react, she kissed him on the cheek, then quickly released him.
Rong Ting was momentarily dazed, unconsciously reaching up to over the cheek she had kissed.
“I’m leaving, bye.” This sentence was directed at Rong Heng.
Rong Heng looked down at his son, feeling a bit envious.
“Empress Mother seems to have kissed me just now.” Once Song Yuan left, Rong Ting turned and looked up at Rong Heng.
Rong Heng gave an ‘en.’
“Empress Mother kissed me!”
Rong Heng didn’t want to get jealous of his own son, so he quickly tried to divert his attention and asked, “What do you want to eat in the afternoon?”
This question pulled Rong Ting back to reality. He was a bit afraid of Emperor Father going into the kitchen to cook. Emperor Father’s cooking wasn’t bad, but just buying ingredients and cooking took a long time. Last time, it was past one o’clock by the time the meal was served, which completely disrupted his schedule. In the past, he and Empress Mother would eat at twelve, then take a nap at one. If he had dinner at one and took a nap, he wouldn’t have enough time to read and practice calligraphy.
Rong Ting thought about it. Suddenly recalling what he had said to Empress Mother when they reunited, he put it to use in this moment and said, “Emperor Father, as the nation’s ruler, you need not personally do things like cooking.”
Rong Heng thought so too.
It had nothing to do with whether he was the ruler of a nation or not, since this wasn’t the Great Ye dynasty. He simply had no interest in things like grocery shopping and cooking. However, some words should be said in advance. “Then if your Empress Mother asks…”
Rong Ting hurriedly answered, “I will tell Empress Mother that you wanted to cook. I was the one who wanted to eat out.”
Rong Heng nodded, smiling faintly. “Alright then, we won’t go grocery shopping.”
The father and son reached a consensus, but the two days and one night weren’t so easily glossed over. Nighttime was still fine–just wash up and go straight to sleep. Here in the modern times, Rong Heng didn’t need to handle government affairs or go to court, and Rong Ting didn’t need to attend class with the Grand Tutor, so the daytime was free.
“I saw a book café outside the community. I checked–there are many books, just like a bookstore, but you can sit down and order food and drinks.” Rong Heng had already arranged their itinerary. “We’ll read books there in the morning. The books here are rather decent. I heard your Empress Mother say you have a habit of napping in the afternoon, so we’ll go to a nearby restaurant at noon, then I’ll bring you back here for an afternoon nap. What do you think?”
Rong Ting was rather flattered3 that Emperor Father would actually ask for his opinion.
Naturally, he had no objections.
The father and son pair briefly cleaned up and were ready to go out.
They ran into an acquaintance at the elevator, the auntie from upstairs. The auntie was extremely enthusiastic. She’d just bought meat buns and gifted two of them to Rong Ting. The kindness was difficult to decline, and Rong Ting had no choice but to accept them.
The auntie saw Rong Heng, and her heart thumped. She very much liked Song Yuan and had always wanted to introduce her son to Song Yuan. Unfortunately, her son had been sent to work abroad by his company and wouldn’t be back for another year. Under these circumstances, she was embarrassed to matchmake, but she knew that Song Yuan was still single. At this moment, seeing a tall and handsome man with Song Yuan’s younger brother, she suddenly had a bad feeling.
“Little Rong Ting, who’s this?” The auntie smiled politely at Rong Heng and asked Rong Ting.
Rong Ting gave his Emperor Father a glance, and without any psychological pressure, he answered, “My uncle.”
The auntie let out a breath and said jokingly, “And I thought this was your big sister’s boyfriend.”
When Rong Ting called Song Yuan ‘Mom’ out in public, everyone was very surprised. They thought that Song Yuan was a single mom. Some months ago, Chen Linjing and Song Haiping had quarreled outside. After Chen Linjing slapped Song Haiping, a neighbor with good ears heard it and plucked out meaningful information–that Song Yuan was Rong Ting’s half-sister from a different mother, but Song Yuan’s father was busy with work, so Song Yuan lived with her younger brother. At first, everyone had been puzzled. After all, they’d heard that Song Yuan was only in her early twenties; how could she have a five year old son? Now it made sense.
Rong Heng was a bit surprised by the auntie’s words. He looked down at Rong Ting and saw that his expression was extremely calm.
Rong Ting was already used to it. At first, when everyone misunderstood him as Empress Mother’s younger brother, he had been a bit angry. It wasn’t until he went to the learning academy and became acquainted with many more people that he vaguely understood that it was very difficult for unmarried mothers in this society.
Empress Mother’s age on her ID card was only 23. To have a 5-year-old child at 23 meant she would be misunderstood by people as having a child when she was 16. In this day and age, one was still studying and a minor at 16.
He didn’t want Empress Mother to be looked down on, and he didn’t want Empress Mother to be subjected to pointing fingers. So when people misunderstood him to be Empress Mother’s younger breather, he silently acquiesced. Now, he wouldn’t even call her “Mom” out in public.
While Rong Ting pondered over how to answer the auntie’s question, he heard his Emperor Father answer in a very calm tone, “Yes, I’m her boyfriend.”
Rong Ting turned to him with a look of shock.
The auntie gave a crestfallen ‘ah,’ but she quickly smiled and said, “So you’re Yuanyuan’s boyfriend. That’s great.”
After coming out of the elevator, they parted ways with the auntie.
Rong Ting could understand why his Emperor Father would answer that way. He sighed in his heart. Although he didn’t understand the matters between men and women, Emperor Father was a bit too…
“What is it?” Rong Heng asked him.
Rong Ting shook his head. Forget it.
But he was still interested in another matter, and he asked, “Emperor Father, what did you put in Empress Mother’s coat pocket earlier?”
Rong Heng replied, “A card. It’s like a silver banknote.”
Rong Ting had thought he’d seen wrong; he didn’t expect that the thing Emperor Father gave really was a card. “Emperor Father, Empress Mother is rich. She’s very rich.”
Before, he wasn’t too clear on Empress Mother’s financial situation and thought that Empress Mother was living a pitiful life here. Once he roughly understood the circumstances here, he realized that his Empress Mother was very rich.
Those two houses in B City were Empress Mother’s, and the house they were living in now was also under Empress Mother’s name. Some time ago, he’d heard Grandfather say that there were several shops under Empress Mother’s name… in short, Empress Mother was very rich; she didn’t need Emperor Father to give her money.
Rong Heng hummed, his hands placed in his coat pockets, calm and composed. “I know. But that’s different.”
Rong Ting saw that his Emperor Father didn’t say exactly why it was different, so he didn’t ask.
The father and son arrived at the book café. It was a weekday today, and it was early in the morning, so there were no people other than two staff members. Rong Heng brought Rong Ting over to a quiet place to sit down.
The cashier was a young woman, and her eyes lit up when she saw Rong Heng. It was the first time she’d seen a handsome man exuding a noble air in real life, so she took over another colleague’s job and came to their table with menus. She asked in a sweet and gentle voice, “We have red velvet cake today. Also, sir, if you follow us by scanning the QR code on WeChat, you can get a 20% discount.”
When Rong Ting heard about the discount, he was eager to give it a try.
Rong Heng just gave her a glance. “No need for the discount, I won’t scan. You can ask my son what he wants.”
The girl was a bit embarrassed, especially with Rong Ting watching. She felt as though her thoughts had been seen through by the little kid…
Rong Ting flipped through the menu. “Unc–Dad! Can I order a cup of milk tea? I also want to eat this chocolate cake, can I?”
Rong Heng smiled softly. “Of course you can.”
A while later, Rong Ting was drinking milk tea and eating cake with a look of contentment. Being with Emperor Father wasn’t too bad!
This book café didn’t have as many books as the book city4, but it wasn’t bad for passing the time.
Tired from reading, Rong Ting was raising his head to look at the green plants in the store and rest his eyes when he saw Emperor Father reading earnestly. Unable to help but be curious about what Emperor Father was reading, he leaned across the table and quietly looked over, only to see that the book Emperor Father was holding was pink.
…A Simple Guide to Romance, The Playbook for Love–what kind of books were these???
 婶婶: wife of father’s younger brother
 岁月静好: the full phrase is 时光未央，岁月静好, which is something like “the times continue, the years are still.” (is there a proper English translation for this??) Describes a life of stability and peace
 受宠若惊: overwhelmed by favor from a superior
 书城: I think I’ve made a footnote for this before, but I still don’t think there’s an English equivalent for the specific name? Think huge, department store-size book store.
Cheese: kinda took some liberties with the book titles at the end, but hopefully you get the idea