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During the Snowstorm. Mo Bao Fei Bao. The novel version of Amidst a Snowstorm of Love. English translated. Lin Yi Yang is staring at Yin Guo lovingly amidst a snowstorm.

During the Snowstorm

5.2

The Tide of Time

70

Lin Yi Yang's hand tightened around the cue chalk, the familiar weight, and texture grounding him in the present. He surveyed the snooker table. The green felt stretched tautly over its surface, and then turned his attention to the group of onlookers gathered around him.

 

"Fifty shots," he declared, his voice steady and confident. "If I miss the pocket three times, I'll count it as a loss."

 

The challenge hung in the air, the tension palpable. This wasn't just any snooker game but a test of precision and accuracy.

 

As Lin Yi Yang began to prepare for the shot, he reflected on his younger days. He thought that when he was a teenager, he could achieve not missing a single ball. But unfortunately, the snooker table was still too unfamiliar to him. He has been playing on a small nine-ball table for years, and he doesn't dare to say that he could avoid missing a ball if he switched to a large snooker table.

 

Li Qingyan searched his memory again for who this Lin Yi Yang was, but he had no conclusion.

 

"He's a pro," Li Qingyan whispered to Xiaozi as he walked behind him.

 

Xiaozi nodded in agreement. "That's right. He knows his stuff."

 

As soon as Lin Yi Yang uttered the words, "I don't play snooker," a murmur rippled through the room, and everyone present knew that he was no mere amateur. His calm and collected demeanor amidst a group of seasoned experts spoke volumes about his experience and skill on the billiards table.

 

Lin Yi Yang's piercing gaze swept across the nine-ball table, sizing up the angles and calculating his moves with the precision of a chess grandmaster. His refusal to play snooker only heightened Xiaozi's confidence that this was a man who knew his way around a cue stick.

 

Xiaozi deftly placed the red ball in the center of the table, an easy position that belied the tension in the air. As the first ball was struck, the sound of the cue meeting the ball echoed through the room, signaling the start of a fierce challenge.

 

Lin Yi Yang felt a sense of admiration for Meng Xiaodong's leadership. He was impressed by these people's ability to challenge him while remaining polite. With a steady hand, he placed the white ball on the service line and sunk it with ease, leaving no room for doubt in anyone's mind.

 

"Next one," he said, pointing to the table and motioning for them to continue setting up. As the minutes ticked by, the red ball was placed in increasingly tricky positions, but Lin Yi Yang didn't falter once. It was as if he was in a trance, fully focused on the game and nothing else.

 

The more complex the setup became, the more he seemed to thrive. He moved with precision and ease, sinking each ball with barely a pause in between. By the time he reached the 20th ball, Shaozi had set them up conventionally, and they all fell into the pockets.

 

But then, something changed. Shaozi began to place the balls in trickier and more challenging positions, hoping to trip up the confident newcomer. But to everyone's surprise, Lin Yi Yang continued to sink them all effortlessly.

 

As they approached the 40th ball, the room was filled with palpable tension. No one had ever seen anything like it before. The silence was broken only by the sound of the balls clinking against each other as Lin Yi Yang lined up his next shot. And then, as if by magic, the white ball flew across the table and sunk the red, leaving everyone stunned.

 

Forty shots in, and not a single miss. Lin Yi Yang was truly a force to be reckoned with.

 

......

 

The younger ones in the room were completely absorbed, their eyes fixed on the forty-odd red snooker balls scattered across the table. The precision required was beyond what these thirteen or fourteen year olds could achieve, and they were fully aware of it.

 

As Shaozi picked up the forty-ninth ball, Li Qingyan, who had been silently observing, handed him the next one. "Designated pocket. Any problem?" Li Qingyan asked.

 

Lin Yi Yang was unconcerned. "No problem," he replied with a calm tone.

 

Li Qingyan then set up three balls: one white, one red, and one black, and the room was filled with the same anticipation and tension that could be found at any high-stakes match.

 

"Have you done this before?" Lin Yi Yang asked casually.

 

"No," said Li Qingyan, disappointment evident in his voice. "I missed the shot at the Welsh Open three days ago."

 

Lin Yi Yang took two steps around the table, analyzing the shot at hand. "Which pocket were you aiming for at the time?" he asked with a curious expression.

 

"The middle pocket," Li Qingyan replied with a sigh.

 

Lin Yi Yang nodded, making a judgment in the split second he bent over. He held his cue in his left hand, took aim slowly, and shot. The sound of the white ball hitting the red ball was light and precise.

 

Lin Yi Yang's shot was met with a hushed silence as everyone held their breath, waiting to see where the red ball would go. Eyes widened in amazement as the ball soared towards the bottom pocket at an impossible angle, and then, with a satisfying click, it fell into the pocket.

 

The room erupted into cheers as the ball sunk, followed by resounding applause. It was a shot that could only be described as extraordinary, leaving everyone stunned.

 

Lin Yi Yang didn't stop there. With the same ease and precision, he smoothly sunk the black ball as well, completing the challenging sequence of shots with effortless grace.

 

Li Qingyan, who had been watching in awe, couldn't help but express his admiration for Lin Yi Yang's skill. He had tried a similar strategy during a previous competition but had been too afraid to take the risk. But seeing Lin Yi Yang's flawless execution of the same strategy, Li Qingyan realized the magnitude of his missed opportunity.

 

As the final black ball fell into the pocket, completing a total of 50 consecutive shots without a single mistake, the room was filled with a sense of awe and respect for Lin Yi Yang's exceptional abilities.

 

The young people in Beijing watched in awe as Lin Yi Yang made a flawless demonstration of his snooker skills. The sound of their applause echoed in the room, filling the tense atmosphere with admiration and respect.

 

As the applause died down, a sense of curiosity hung in the air. Who was this man, and where did he come from? The questions buzzed in their minds, but nobody dared to ask. Even Li Qingyan, who was knowledgeable in the sport, was at a loss for words.

 

The silence was deafening, and the tension in the room was palpable. Time seemed to slow down as they all waited for someone to break the silence.

 

Finally, Lin Yi Yang handed the cue stick back to Xiaozhi, and the spell was broken. The young people in the room began to whisper amongst themselves, wondering who this mysterious snooker master could be. The air was thick with anticipation, and everyone was eager to learn more about him.

 

Yin Guo weaved her way through the packed crowd, following a middle-aged man in a gray suit. They moved in silence, their eyes fixed on the table where the last few shots were being played out.

 

Yin Guo had been watching the game with her coach, lurking in the shadows at the back of the crowd. She had seen Lin Yi Yang play before and was not surprised by the precision of his shots.

 

The atmosphere was electric, and the excitement was palpable. The gambling scene in Flushing had nothing on this. Coach Chen approached the pool table and gave Xiaozhi a friendly pat on the back. He picked up a red ball and turned to Lin Yi Yang with a hint of joy in his voice, "I came out too late and missed the excitement."

 

He had been worried that Lin Yi Yang's performance would distract the young players and affect their pre-match preparation. But looking around, he could see that they were all completely absorbed in the game.

 

Yin Guo's coach, Chen Fang, had been with her for several years and had watched several players grow into impressive young professionals. He silently gave this kid his first evaluation in his heart -- he has pride, integrity, and grace.

 

Yin Guo introduced Coach Chen to the legendary player, Lin Yi Yang, who had just made an incredible shot. Lin Yi-yang reached out his right hand and introduced himself, taking the initiative to show respect. "Hello, Coach Chen, I am Lin Yi-yang."

 

Coach Chen shook his hand and passed the ball to Yin Guo. "Chen Fang," he said, introducing himself. The exchange of introductions was polite and respectful.

 

After the handshake, Coach Chen introduced Lin Yi Yang to everyone else. "This is someone I heard about before coming here, Lin Yi-yang, who was once a generation of players with your Sixth Brother." His English was not perfect, but he spoke with confidence and respect.

 

Li Qingyan carefully scrutinized Lin Yi Yang's face once more. He wasn't a naturally gifted player and had entered the industry late, so he couldn't possibly know all the players who started around the same time as Meng Xiaodong. After the dust had settled, only a handful of people remained from Meng Xiaodong's generation, and they were all now the backbone of the industry, like Jiang Yang.

 

Therefore, for that group of players, the word "senior" was their only representation.

 

As the leader of the new generation, Li Qingyan had to take charge of the situation. He approached Lin Yi Yang and extended his hand. "Nice to meet you."

 

Lin Yi Yang remained silent and quickly let go of Li Qingyan's hand after shaking it.

 

Yin Guo's eyes flickered with nervousness as she glanced at her watch, a clear signal for Lin Yi Yang to leave. "You're supposed to catch a train, aren't you?" she asked urgently.

 

Lin Yi Yang smiled at her, finding her anxiety endearing. "Yes, it's time to go."

 

"I'll take you there," Yin Guo offered immediately, turning to Coach Chen. "The subway station is very close. I'll be back soon."

 

"Sure, go ahead," Coach Chen replied with a smile.

 

As they walked out of the pool hall, Yin Guo breathed a sigh of relief.

 

Back inside, Coach Chen addressed Xiaozhi with a teasing grin. "Used to being arrogant all the time, did you finally trip and fall?"

 

Xiaozhi laughed, brushing off the comment. "We were just fooling around."

 

"He was just fooling around with you guys too, couldn't you tell?" Coach Chen said pointedly. "He's someone who can even beat your Sixth Brother. If you guys weren't in top shape before the match, he would have taken a more aggressive approach."

 

The elevator was packed with people, and Lin Yi Yang and Yin Guo were squeezed into the back, surrounded by the crowd. As the elevator stopped at each floor, more people got on and off, and it felt like they were stuck in a never-ending cycle of movement. Most of their days are spent being watched by others.

 

"It's going to be dark by the time we get to DC," she reminded him, her voice slightly raised.

 

Lin Yi Yang nodded, feeling a bit frustrated at the situation. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other, his hands in his pockets, and caught a glimpse of her reflection in the elevator mirror.

 

Finally, the elevator arrived on the first floor, and the door opened to reveal a crowded lobby. She quickly pressed the open button holding it to prevent it from closing. As the incoming guests dragged their large suitcases into the elevator, the gap between the two of them grew wider.

 

"Come on, let's go. Otherwise, the elevator will go up," she urged him, peering at him through a Middle Eastern man who had just entered the elevator.

 

Two more people entered, swiped their room keys, and selected their floor, adding to the cramped and chaotic atmosphere.

 

Yin Guo's heart raced as she felt the weight of the disapproving stares from the other elevator occupants as she refused to let go of the elevator button. Finally, she can no longer continue holding it.

 

Suddenly, Lin Yi Yang's voice broke the silence, "What floor are you on?"

 

Yin Guo's eyes met his, and she replied hesitantly, "...6th floor."

 

To her surprise, Lin Yi Yang offered to take her up. "I'll take you up," he said with a reassuring smile.

 

Yin Guo was taken aback. Wasn't he supposed to see her off? She felt a warm sensation in her chest as she realized he was genuinely concerned about her.

 

As the elevator doors went up, Yin Guo fumbled to take out her key card and swipe it under the black sensor area. She pressed the button for the sixth floor and turned to Lin Yi Yang.

 

They were the first group of guests to leave the elevator

 

Yin Guo and Lin Yi Yang walked down the hallway. They noticed there were only two customer service personnel around. Yin Guo completed her check-in and lifted her luggage herself, double-checking her room number on the key card before leading the way to the left.

 

They weaved past a shiny customer service vehicle and neatly stacked white bath towels before arriving at their door. As they approached, a staff member pushed a housekeeping cart past them, barely missing them.

 

As Yin Guo placed her suitcase by the door, she almost stumbled, but Lin Yi Yang quickly caught it and placed it inside. She was about to swipe the key card when Lin Yi Yang leaned towards the wall and asked in a hushed voice, "Are you sharing the room with someone else?" He used his foot to shut the door and lock it.

 

Yin Guo's face turned crimson, and she leaned against the wall behind her, stuttering, "Y-yes, I'm sharing this room with someone younger, a girl."

 

Lin Yi Yang leaned in to kiss her, his right hand on her waist and his left arm pressing against the wall above her head.

 

"What if someone comes back?" she said.

 

"We'll be gone in five minutes," he replied, already at the point of no return. "It won't be that unlucky."

 

She hesitated at first, worrying about the possibility of someone walking in on them, but her resolve melted away as his lips met hers.

 

As Lin Yi Yang's breath brushed against her forehead, Yin Guo's heart skipped a beat, and her breath caught in her throat. She felt both nervous and excited at the same time as his lips met hers, a surge of electricity coursing through her body. Though she had some experience with kissing, it was still extremely limited, and she found herself swept away by the intensity of the moment.

 

Their kisses became more passionate, and Yin Guo felt her knees grow weak as Lin Yi Yang's tongue swept over her teeth. The two of them lost track of time, but they knew they couldn't stay in that state forever.

 

Yin Guo's back was pressed against the wall, her heart racing as Lin Yi Yang's lips met hers once again. His arms enveloped her, holding her close as their tongues danced in a passionate embrace. The sensation was overwhelming, and Yin Guo could feel every move he made, every shift of his body against hers.

 

Her mind was lost in the moment, unable to process anything but the intense pleasure that coursed through her body. She let out a soft moan as he sucked on her lower lip, his movements becoming more urgent as they explored each other's mouths.

 

For what seemed like an eternity, they continued their heated kiss, their passion growing with each passing second. Yin Guo's senses were alive with desire, and she couldn't help but feel completely lost in the moment with this man who had captured her heart.

 

When they finally pulled apart, Yin Guo was breathless, and her lips tingled with the sweet sensation of his kiss. She couldn't tell how much time had passed, but she knew it wasn't enough.

 

Her tongue was numb, and her lower lip was swollen from the gentle bites that he had given her.

 

The itch was almost unbearable, and she couldn't help but run her tongue over her lips in an attempt to soothe the sensation. Even biting down on her lip didn't help, and the itch only seemed to grow more intense.

 

Yin Guo's heart was pounding in her chest, as she struggled to catch her breath. The world around her seemed to sway and distort, like a reflection in a carnival mirror.

 

She had only known him for two short months, from the end of January to the end of March. Yet, somehow, they had ended up like this, entwined in each other's arms. They only met on weekends, but those brief moments together were the highlight of her week.

 

It was all so sudden, so unexpected. Her rational mind told her that this was a mistake, that they barely knew each other, and that he could be a scumbag or worse. But at that moment, none of that mattered. All she wanted was to be with him, to feel his embrace and taste his lips.

 

She couldn't help but feel a twinge of fear, though. What if he was already seeing someone else? What if this was all just a game to him? She had never been to his school, and besides a few friends in the industry who had mentioned him, and her cousin who knew him, he was still largely a mystery to her.

 

Lin Yi Yang's breath was hot against Yin Guo's ear, and his voice was low and husky. "As usual, I'll come back on the weekend," he whispered, his lips brushing against her skin.

 

"Mm-hmm," Yin Guo replied absentmindedly, lost in her thoughts and worries about their relationship. Lin Yi Yang chuckled, his hand coming up to caress her cheek.

 

"Come on, say something else. Don't just say ' Mm-hmm '," he teased.

 

Yin Guo felt her cheeks flush with embarrassment, but she couldn't help but smile at his playful tone. "We can message each other," she suggested, feeling a bit shy.

 

Lin Yi Yang nodded, his eyes softening as he looked at her. "Yeah, we can do that," he said, his hand sliding down to take hers.

 

They both knew that messaging each other wouldn't be enough to satisfy the longing they felt for each other. They couldn't touch or hold hands, which was torture for them both. But for now, it was all they had.

 

Every week, their time together was limited to a few precious moments. The sweetness of their brief encounters made the long days apart all the more unbearable. Lin Yi Yang knew that the kiss they had just shared would replay in his mind countless times over the next few days.

 

He sighed and looked at her longingly. "When I was in middle school, I often skipped classes and hung out in the pool hall, smoked and blew in the breeze on the playground, slept in the bathhouse, and wasted a lot of time. It would have been so great to know you back then and skip classes with you every day."

 

Yin Guo smiled at the thought. She couldn't imagine being so carefree, but she could imagine spending every day with him.

"I'm not leaving this week," she announced. "I won't leave until early April."

 

Yin Guo's heart sank as the weight of the impending separation hit her. She had been trying to enjoy their time together without dwelling on the inevitable, but now it was impossible to ignore.

 

As they stood there in silence, Yin Guo couldn't help but notice the subtle movements of Lin Yi Yang's body. His Adam's apple bobbed up and down as he swallowed, and his fingers twitched nervously by his side.

 

Her mind raced with questions. Did he feel the same way she did about their impending separation? Did he have any plans to try and make it work long-distance?

 

The tension was broken by his sudden words, and Yin Guo's attention snapped back to him. "Assuming my return flight is on schedule, would Thursday night be a good time for us to get together?" he said, his voice soft but determined.

 

Yin Guo felt a glimmer of hope in her chest. Maybe they could make this work after all. She nodded in agreement, not trusting herself to speak without tears betraying her emotions.

 

Lin Yi Yang didn't want Yin Guo to accompany him downstairs. He wanted to savor the memory of their time together a little longer. He lightly ran his fingers through her hair and closed the door, feeling a sense of longing already creeping up on him.

 

As he rode the elevator down, he bumped into a few players who were participating in the open tournament. They exchanged nods and small talk, but Lin Yi Yang was too preoccupied to pay much attention.

 

Just as he thought he was going to be alone on the elevator, the doors opened, and he saw Barry, a friend of Yin Guo whom he met at the Flushing billiards room. Barry was pleasantly surprised to see him, but Lin Yi Yang was in a hurry to leave. They quickly exchanged contact information and made plans to catch up when Lin Yi Yang returned to New York the next week before saying goodbye and going their separate ways. One left for the subway, and the other went upstairs.

 

The subway platform was packed with commuters, a cacophony of sounds echoing throughout the station. Lin Yi Yang felt the cool breeze whip through his hair, a sign of the incoming train. As it arrived, the metal frames rattled and screeched, causing him to wince.

 

Once they were onboard, Yin Guo sent a voice message. Before he could gather his thoughts, he opened it and heard her say, "Hey, can I ask you something?" she said. "Do you have any other girlfriends in Washington?"

 

......

 

Yin Guo sat on the edge of the hotel bed, fidgeting with her phone. She had sent Lin Yi Yang a voice message with a question that had been weighing on her mind for some time. The silence that followed was unbearable. Five minutes passed, and her nerves were on edge. She tried to distract herself by unpacking her suitcase and preparing for the upcoming competition, but her thoughts kept drifting back to Lin Yi Yang and his possible response.

 

As she stood in front of the bathroom mirror, splashing water on her face, her phone vibrated with a message notification. Yin Guo's heart raced as she quickly dried her face and grabbed her phone. It was a WeChat message from Lin Yi Yang. With shaky hands, she unlocked her phone and read the message, her eyes scanning the screen like she was reading the most important message of her life.

 

Yin Guo's heart raced as she read Lin Yi Yang's messages. The towel in her hand suddenly felt heavy, and she couldn't help but pace around the room.

 

Lin: What do you think?

 

"What do I think?" she murmured to herself. She had just asked him a question that had been on her mind for a while now. Did he have other girlfriends in Washington? It was a question she couldn't keep to herself any longer.

 

Lin's messages only seemed to add to her confusion. The tone of his response was short and to the point, but his next messages showed a different side of him. Yin Guo could almost feel his cautiousness and sincerity through his words.

 

Lin: Trust me.

 

Lin: I'm serious about you, very serious.

 

Lin: Trust me.

 

Lin Yi Yang's message made Yin Guo's heart skip a beat. She tightened her grip on the soft white towel in her hand as she read his repeated sentence: "Trust me."

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