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During the Snowstorm

8.2

Crossing Mountain and Seas

104

Sometimes he says things that are too straightforward, and no one can catch them," she thought to herself. Even the men who used to make sarcastic comments in the past can't handle his remarks, let alone Yin Guo, who has always been gentle in her speech. However, she has learned to be smart and enjoy the scenery when she can't argue back.

 

"Nothing more to say?" The man next to her was still teasing her.

 

Yin Guo pointed to the car window and shifted the topic, "Look, it seems like the rain has become lighter."

 

Lin Yi Yang was still laughing.

 

"Alright, I won't tease her anymore. If I push it too far, I'll be the one to comfort her." Lin Yi Yang thought to himself as he drove the car, the rain easing up and the water droplets hitting the windshield becoming smaller.

 

The island's weather was unpredictable, and the rain often came and went quickly. The sky cleared up as they continued their journey, and the sun shone brightly.

 

Lin Yi Yang's initial plan was to take Yin Guo to the campsite, but seeing her in good spirits, he decided to drive her straight to the dormant volcano at an altitude of over four thousand meters.

 

Upon arrival, he led her to a private changing room and instructed her to wear warm clothes before heading up the mountain. He stood alone on the edge of the road, his back to the car, viewing the vast grassy slopes. The topography here was much better, with the land no longer blackened by cooled magma but instead covered with large areas of green and yellow grass and semi-dry shrubs.

 

This island had no predators, leading to an ecological imbalance, with wild goats becoming too numerous to handle.

 

Yin Guo secured the buckle of her jeans, her eyes scanning the undulating grasslands outside the car window. The sight of hundreds of wild goats grazing caught her attention and nearby lay scattered white bones of their kind.

 

As soon as she stepped out of the car, Yin Guo's eyes widened at the sight of a stunning neon rainbow arching across the distant mountains. "Rainbow," she exclaimed, pointing at it to Lin Yi Yang.

 

Although it was her first time seeing a rainbow on the island, the novelty soon wore off as she saw another six rainbows in the next few hours. "This is the Rainbow State," Lin Yi Yang remarked, pointing to a car they passed, its license plate bearing a rainbow logo beside the numbers. "People have seen up to fourteen rainbows in a day here. You can try and beat the record."

 

After seeing so many rainbows, Yin Guo no longer found them as fascinating as before.

 

After a brief rest at the foot of the mountain, the two ascended to the tourist center over 2,000 meters above sea level. There, they indulged in hot beverages to warm up their bodies. Lin Yi Yang wanted to give Yin Guo ample time to acclimate to the altitude before they continued the ascent. After half an hour, he was satisfied that she was feeling well enough to continue to the peak, which sat at an altitude of over 4,000 meters.

 

As they ascended, the road conditions worsened, the path becoming sandy with no guardrails. Fortunately, Lin Yi Yang had experience with such terrains and had rented a four-wheel drive off-road vehicle with good climbing ability. He himself was also skilled in driving on mountain roads, which ensured they arrived at the summit safely around noon.

 

The temperature was close to zero degrees Celsius, and the wind was biting. In these harsh conditions, Lin Yi Yang took Yin Guo's hand and led her toward the mountaintop partially covered in thin April snow. The snow couldn't conceal the brown volcanic soil underneath in some places.

 

Above the clouds, this place on Earth had the most Mars-like terrain, desolate and quiet.

 

As Lin Yi Yang searched for the perfect vantage point, Yin Guo gazed at the wild, undulating landscape surrounding them. In the distance, she spotted the active volcano emitting white smoke and red flames, and Lin Yi Yang pointed it out to her. Dozens of white spherical and cylindrical structures dotted the mountain's summit, leaving Yin Guo wondering whether they were the only equipment up there or actual buildings.

 

"It's an observatory," Lin Yi Yang explained, and Yin Guo couldn't contain her excitement as she had never seen one up close before.

 

As they stood there, a timed climbing tour approached them, and the tour guide began to explain the significance of the observatory to the tourists. He described it as one of the world's most exceptional astronomical observation points, with a latitude that allowed for viewing the entire northern hemisphere and over 80% of the southern hemisphere. It was a dream come true for astronomy enthusiasts and ordinary tourists who longed to observe the stars.

 

The tour guide concluded by saying that the place was closest to the sky, not in terms of actual distance, but in the purity of the starry sky. The view was so breathtaking that one could gaze up at night and feel like the Milky Way was within arm's reach.

 

"After dark, the observatory is off-limits to visitors," he said firmly. "The mountaintop must be cleared to ensure the observatory can function properly."

 

Yin Guo was intrigued and asked in a hushed tone, "Do they use these telescopes to observe the stars at night?"

 

If you want to observe the stars, it is possible to do it from anywhere on the island, except for professional astronomers who bring their telescopes or tourists who are willing to wait in line at the tourist center to use their telescopes.

 

Lin Yi Yang had brought her here to show her the breathtaking view of the Milky Way, but that was an experience reserved for the night.

 

The mountaintop was too cold and the altitude too high, making it unsuitable for prolonged stays.

 

Lin Yi Yang unzipped his mountaineering jacket and took it off, wrapping Yin Guo in the warm fabric. He rubbed her hands in his palms, concerned, "Do you have a headache?"

 

Shaking her head, Yin Guo felt a little breathless but otherwise fine.

 

Lin Yi Yang guided her back to the car and turned on the air conditioning to the maximum level to warm her up. He stepped outside briefly, and when he returned, a few snowflakes clung to his sleeves.

 

As he started the engine of the off-road vehicle, he removed his watch from his left wrist and handed it to her. "Put this on"

 

"Why?" she asked.

 

"Keep an eye on the time," he said, "I'll make sure we're back at sea level within three hours."

 

At first, Yin Guo was a little confused about what Lin Yi Yang meant by taking her to sea level within three hours.

 

As they drove down the mountain, Lin Yi Yang stepped on the accelerator and picked up speed. On the flat ground, he was driving much faster than before. As the altitude decreased, the temperature began to rise rapidly, from the freezing cold of the mountain to a balmy 30 degrees Celsius.

 

Halfway through the drive, they stopped to change into their summer clothes and refill the car's gas tank, but they didn't make any other stops. Two hours and seventeen minutes later, they arrived at the coast.

 

Excited to feel the sand between her toes, Yin Guo got out of the car and hurriedly searched for her flip-flops in her backpack. But before she could put them on, Lin Yi Yang had already retrieved a navy blue thermos from the trunk and said, "You don't need those. Let's go to the beach."

 

As she held one slipper in her hand, Lin Yi Yang held her other hand tightly as they ran along a sandy path. Despite the scorching weather, the torches on wooden frames burned brightly, illuminating the coastline like a dream.

 

Upon reaching the beach, he placed the navy blue insulated box on the sand, and Yin Guo thought it contained chilled drinks. However, as soon as the box was opened, a gust of cold air poured out, revealing tightly packed snow inside.

It turned out that he had brought this box of snow from an altitude of over 4,000 meters and had driven the car like a maniac just to make it happen.

 

Their unexpected arrival and the opening of the box drew the attention of tourists from near and far, who curiously looked over at them.

 

Originally, Lin Yi Yang had planned to rent a pickup truck to slowly bring down a carload of snow so that Yin Guo could make a snowman on the beach. However, he changed his mind. Firstly, there was less snow at the mountaintop at this time of the year, and secondly, loading the car would have been too troublesome and would have spoiled the surprise.

 

"Nothing much, just play around," he said as he dumped the snow onto the sand, forming a small pile.

 

Yin Guo watched in awe as the snow began to melt in front of her. Although it had been tightly packed, it couldn't withstand the onslaught of over thirty-degree heat. She frantically tried to salvage the snow, "It's all melting. What should we do?"

 

Meanwhile, Lin Yi Yang sat under the shade of a nearby tree, looking as calm as a cucumber, and watched as Yin Guo shouted about the melting snow and desperately tried to scoop it back up. He looked like a madman, surrounded by curious onlookers from afar.

 

The snow was melting rapidly, seeping into the sand, and soon it became nothing more than a small, wet patch.

 

She finally wrapped her arms around his neck, not minding the sweat on his body or the sand on her hands. She refused to let go of him, amazed by the man who took her from snowy mountains to a summer beach in the center of the Pacific, with torches burning brightly and crowds of bikini and swimwear-clad tourists surrounding them. He gave her a whole box of winter snow on the beach under the watchful eyes of everyone.

 

He lightly patted her back, offering her comfort and indulgence. Nearby, people were speculating that the snow was crushed ice from a beverage freezer, while others thought it was dry ice. But no one knew the truth, nor could anyone guess the answer.

 

Lin Yi Yang's hand slid down to the edge of the girl's hot pants pocket, slowly and gently following the seam line. "Are you happy?" he asked the girl who was holding him.

 

"Mm-hmm." She replied ecstatically.

 

If he had driven a pickup truck full of snow to the beach like a lunatic to create a romantic atmosphere, it wouldn't have been as enjoyable. When you love someone, everything you do to please them is not just for them but also for yourself.

Seeing her happy made him even happier.

 

The empty thermos lay beside them, and soon the melted snow inside it had evaporated completely.

 

Lin Yi Yang went to buy her a pineapple smoothie to cool off. Holding the pineapple shell, Yin Guo sat on the beach and watched people surfing. Sweat rolled down her face as she sucked on the straw, and every few seconds, she wanted to smile at him.

 

She couldn't sit still anymore and dropped the pineapple. She stepped onto the sand in front of him, going round and round like a star revolving around the sun.

 

After a few spins, he suddenly reached out and grabbed her ankle in the sand, "Aren't you afraid of getting dizzy?"

 

Yin Guo shook her head, her lips pursed in a smile, as Lin Yi Yang playfully pulled her down to sit before him. Beads of sweat trickled down her temples and forehead, and one droplet meandered down her neck and disappeared beneath her collar. Lin Yi Yang imagined the sweat pooling in her clothes, and the thought sent a jolt of desire through him.

 

"What are you thinking about?" Yin Guo asked, breaking the momentary silence.

 

"I'm thinking about you," replied Lin Yi Yang, his hand resting on her hot pants.

 

The smile on Yin Guo's face had started on the snow-covered mountain and never faded, blossoming into a radiant expression of joy.

 

His hand was warm and gritty, the sand rubbing against her skin like tiny exfoliating beads.

 

"I was just thinking," he continued, "that maybe we should head back and get some rest."

 

Since it was too late to catch the sunset at the mountaintop, it made more sense to head back to base and recharge before venturing out again to catch the sunrise under the stars.

 

"Are you ready to go?" he asked her.

 

She nodded, ready to follow him anywhere, even to the ends of the Earth.

 

Lin Yi Yang had already booked a spacious tent in a jungle town for them to stay in. As they drove towards their destination, she fidgeted in her seat, opening the car window to let the hot, humid wind of the island blow into the car, bringing a sticky layer of sweat on her skin that refused to evaporate.

 

As the car came to a halt in front of the tent, Yin Guo reached for her flip-flops, but before she could put them on, Lin Yi Yang had already scooped her up, carrying her out of the car. She wrapped her arms around his neck, noticing two umbrellas drifting past her periphery and three girls looking back, their faces flushed with embarrassment. "I can walk on my own," she said.

 

"It's raining again, and you're walking too slowly," he replied.

 

The Pacific rain was just as intense as before. Within minutes, Lin Yi Yang carried her into the jungle-edge tent, kicking aside three wooden folding chairs blocking their way. As he placed her down on the bed, she noticed the dampness of the jungle in the sheets and blankets.

 

Surprisingly, the sound of frogs croaking could still be heard amidst the downpour.

 

The sensation of sleeping in a jungle tent, with the pungent aroma of rain-drenched soil and the rhythmic tapping of raindrops on the canvas roof, made Yin Guo feel exposed and vulnerable, as though unseen eyes were watching her. "Will there be lots of bugs and mosquitoes buzzing around at night?" she asked, her anxiety palpable.

 

Lin Yi Yang was well aware of girls' aversion to creepy crawlies, even though he had never had a girlfriend before. He quickly reassured her, "If you don't want to sleep in the tent, we can stay here."

 

"But wouldn't it be a waste to book the tent then?" she countered, feeling guilty about the unused reservation.

 

As they debated the matter, her restless legs swung back and forth, unconsciously drawing his attention. He had originally intended to let her rest since she was exhausted from a long flight and a day of activity.

 

His initial plan was to rest on the folding chair next to the bed and check his emails, but as he looked at Yin Guo's white and slender legs, he couldn't help but be mesmerized by their beauty. Even in a slightly bent position, her knees had lovely curves that caught his attention.

 

The sound of rain beating against the tent roof grew louder, and Yin Guo gazed up at the ceiling, thinking that sleeping in a tent on a rainy day might not be ideal due to the noise. However, as she lay there, she felt waves of warmth enveloping her body, seeping through her clothes and directly onto her skin.

 

Fatigue can weaken one's resolve and make one susceptible to distraction.

 

Although the tent door was not tightly shut, a gentle breeze still wafted through the opening, cooling the humid air inside. Lin Yi Yang noticed Yin Guo was shivering, so he pulled the blanket out from under her and covered her up.

 

"It's so stuffy in here," she grumbled, sweat beading on her forehead as the humidity seemed to close around her. She fidgeted uncomfortably beneath the blanket that covered her.

 

"If you don't cover up, people outside can see you," he replied nonchalantly.

 

"Why don't you close the door tightly then?" she asked with irritation in her voice.

 

"Too lazy to move," he said with a smirk.

 

Lin Yi Yang himself was appropriately dressed, not even taking off a single piece of clothing. He sat on the folding chair beside her, his eyes fixed on his laptop screen. With her under the blanket, from outside, at most, it looked like he was holding her while talking, and nothing else would be noticed.

 

The sound of the rain hitting the tent grew louder, creating a soothing rhythm in the background. Lin Yi Yang's hand moved down to Yin Guo's shorts, unbuttoning the copper button and slipping his hand inside. Her eyes displayed a momentary hint of confusion and subconscious resistance, but he simply observed her expression without kissing her. The anticipated kiss was postponed indefinitely, creating an anxious mood that made her feel doubly restless.

 

It had been more than twenty hours since their last kiss, and the tension between them was palpable.

 

She was lost in thoughts, pondering how he collected snow on the mountain and tightly packed it into the thermos. Her mind wandered to his fingers touching the snow, and...suddenly, her body seemed to lose all its strength in a split second.

 

For the first time in her life, she witnessed a scene where black shadows and white light intertwined and fused in front of her eyes. She couldn't remember if the white came before the black or vice versa as if her memory had been wiped clean. All she felt was a deep sense of exhaustion and relaxation of her muscles, from her legs and arms to her fingertips, all of which were screaming out: "so tired."

 

"How do you feel?" Lin Yi Yang was the first to ask.

 

"Um..." she replied, feeling strange but very comfortable.

 

For the next thirty seconds, Yin Guo lay motionless, clinging to Lin Yi Yang like a koala, nuzzling against him and using her nose to wipe his collarbone. He noticed her dazed and confused expression and surmised that she probably didn't even remember what had just happened.

 

Eventually, Yin Guo lacked the strength to even turn over. Her throat felt raw, not from thirst but from the intensity of the experience. She snuggled into Lin Yi Yang's embrace, adjusting her position and resting her face in the crook of his arm. Her voice was hoarse as she spoke, "Just ten minutes... I'll sleep for a while."

 

This was the last thing Yin Guo said before drifting off into slumber.

 

In a daze, Lin Yi Yang fastened two rubber bands-like things onto her ankles and wrists. She furrowed her eyebrows and tried to remove the bands from her wrists, but they were too tight. This was the last thing she did before falling asleep.

 

"These are mosquito repellent bands for kids. I thought they looked cute, so I bought them for you to try," Lin Yi Yang said, the last thing Yin Guo heard before succumbing to sleep.

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