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During the Snowstorm

8.3

Crossing Mountain and Seas

129

Yin Guo stirred from her slumber, feeling a cool sensation on her skin. She opened her eyes to see Lin Yi Yang applying mosquito repellent to her hands, feet, arms, and legs. Still groggy, she heard him whisper about the tent owner recommending the use of a local mosquito repellent that works best for her, given the different regions and their respective insect treatments.

 

She tugged at the wristband once more, still feeling the tightness.

 

Seeing her discomfort, Lin Yi Yang took it off and, after a moment of consideration, placed it in her shorts pocket for added security.

 

She woke up from a deep sleep, feeling a bit disoriented at first. As she slowly opened her eyes, she saw Lin Yi Yang sitting on the edge of the bed, a wooden folding chair in front of him with his laptop placed on it. He was quietly browsing through some materials, trying not to disturb her slumber.

 

Yin Guo shifted towards the edge of the bed and snuggled under his arm, resting her head on his lap. She could hear the chorus of frogs and asked him in a soft voice, "What time is it?"

 

Lin Yi Yang stopped scrolling through his laptop and replied, "It's past midnight. We need to leave at one." His fingers resumed typing on the keyboard as he composed a lengthy email. "Let's take a shower first. We'll be flying to New York tomorrow afternoon, and we won't have time to take a shower after this."

 

Inside the tent, there was no light except for the faint glow of the laptop screen.

 

Yin Guo gazed up at the curve of Lin Yi Yang's Adam's apple and chin in the dim white light, mesmerized by its beauty. She longed to reach out and touch it but didn't want to disturb his work. Lost in thought, she slowly retreated from under his arm and crawled back onto the bed, her hand fumbling in search of her slippers.

 

Lin Yi Yang remained engrossed in his work, never once taking his eyes off the computer screen. He used his foot to nudge her slippers toward her. Yin Guo silently slipped on her slippers and left the tent without uttering a word.

 

The stillness outside was deafening, with the neighboring tents already submerged in slumber.

 

Yin Guo gazed up at the sky and saw the vast majority covered by a dense canopy of leaves. Only a tiny part showed no visible stars, most likely obscured by the dark clouds. Her unease grew, suspecting they wouldn't be able to stargaze tonight.

 

At one o'clock in the morning, Lin Yi Yang finished his work on the computer, completing his task. Listening to the raindrops pattering on the tent's roof, he seemed more indifferent than Yin Guo. He placed the laptop on the pillow and picked up their backpacks, saying, "Let's set off first and see if the clouds clear later."

 

As they drove away from the town, a thunderous explosion echoed in the distance, causing her heart to skip a beat. Yin Guo thought Lin Yi Yang would head up the mountain, but instead, he turned on the navigation and drove through two small towns before veering onto a small path.

 

After driving for about half an hour, Lin Yi Yang slammed on the brakes and decided to wait until the rain stopped. The engine shook slightly, and the only sound was the rain hitting the car. The rain sounded muffled and unclear because of the closed windows.

 

Yin Guo turned her head and looked outside, but she couldn't see anything apart from the water droplets on the window. Although she appeared to be focused on the rain, she was actually worrying about what would happen if the rain didn't stop. Would she and Lin Yi Yang just sit there, waiting in the car all night?

 

Suddenly, she felt a warm touch on her wrist, and it was Lin Yi Yang's hand. The man she had been thinking about had finally responded.

 

"Come here," he said.

 

She turned to face Lin Yi Yang and watched as he searched for a button on the left side of the seat, moving the driver's seat backward to expand the cramped space. Yin Guo crawled over from the middle seat and was lifted onto his lap, where she felt his arms wrap around her waist.

 

Despite the extra space, it was still tight, making them both uncomfortable.

 

Lin Yi Yang asked, "What are you thinking about while looking out the window?"

 

They both knew that there was nothing worth seeing outside in this weather. She hesitated before responding, "I'm just wondering when the rain will stop. It looks like it might last all night."

 

She couldn't bring herself to say what she was really thinking - whether they would share a steamy and passionate moment tonight.

 

He placed his hand on her waist, his thumb hanging on the back of the waistband of her jeans, and as he moved closer, he caught a faint scent emanating from her body. Every time she took a shower, she smelled good, and he noticed it was always the same fragrance. As a man, he found it hard to believe that despite the hotel providing free shower gel and shampoo, she preferred to bring her own. Nonetheless, it was a good habit, and when he couldn't hold her in his arms in the days to come, he would reminisce about this scent.

 

Lin Yi Yang turned off the engine.

 

The sound of the rain seemed louder now as if the drops were trying to invade the car. The dim interior of the vehicle made it seem like a cocoon in the night. With their vision restricted, their hearing naturally became more acute. Even the sound of Lin Yi Yang clearing his throat was infinitely amplified, conveying a subtle suggestion that tickled Yin Guo's heart.

 

Lin Yi Yang deliberately refrained from kissing Yin Guo as a way to "keep his distance" from her. He believed that intimacy could become boring if it becomes a habit. He knew that restraint was the most potent aphrodisiac. Now, with his face so close, her heart was already racing.

 

"Not a bad spot for a night," he remarked. "There's no one else around."

 

"What if someone else comes? Someone familiar with this place like you?" she asked.

 

He laughed and replied, "We're all adults here. They can look at us, and we can look at them." After speaking, he chuckled and added, "No harm done."

 

Blushing, Yin Guo pushed his chest with her hand. She could feel the tautness of his waist and abdomen muscles under his short sleeves, and his arms around her were no different. This sensation left her speechless.

 

In the silence, Lin Yi Yang's warmth enveloped her lips. He turned his head and slowly moistened her lips, teasing and intertwining them with his own lips and tongue. The pouring rain cut off all contact between the SUV and the outside world, and they were kissing passionately in the driver's seat.

 

Surrounded by transparent glass on all sides, in the middle of nowhere, amidst the torrential downpour that seemed like the end of the world, their desire grew stronger. Yin Guo felt her chest tighten and struggled to catch her breath, especially when she noticed his physical response and felt him pressing against her body.

 

After a few tantalizing touches, she blushed and stammered, "What are you doing?"

 

He chuckled seductively, "Don't you like it?" And with that, they both lost control, succumbing to the heat of the moment.

But what was strange was that he always hesitated to take things further.

 

However, she became more and more eager for him, craving his touch.

 

In the darkness, their eyes locked: Did she want it?

 

Her heart was about to burst out of her chest, beating painfully as she had been waiting for this moment.

 

He said again, "This position isn't ideal."

 

Then he chuckled softly and said, "The angle is wrong, and I'm afraid you'll get hurt."

 

Yin Guo's heart swelled with anticipation as the seat slowly tilted back. With her chin pressed against his shoulder, she closed her eyes, savoring the moment. His fingers played with the zipper of her coat, flicking it on and off. Though it was freezing outside, he wore only a short-sleeved shirt.

 

"Come on, climb into the back seat," he urged her.

 

Using her hands and feet, Yin Guo made her way to the back row as Lin Yi Yang adjusted the seat to the farthest forward position. She heard the trunk open as he stepped out of the car. For a moment, she wanted to tell him that she had also brought something, but she knew he was a thoughtful person who would have everything they needed, so she waited patiently.

 

With a sharp thud, the trunk slammed shut, and Lin Yi Yang swiftly made his way to the back seat, towel in hand. Gently placing it on the aged leather, he leaned close to her. His warm breath caressed her neck, sending shivers down her spine.

 

"I'm really ticklish," she warned him with a giggle. "Hope I don't start laughing."

 

"I'm afraid you won't be able to laugh," he whispered back, his lips dangerously close to hers. A mischievous grin crossed his face. "You'll probably end up crying."

 

They chatted for a while, but soon her ears and cheeks grew hot, and she became too flustered to speak.

 

Lin Yi Yang was a thoughtful man, always taking his time to consider his actions carefully. But once he started something, his passion was unmatched. He nibbled on Yin Guo's lips and tongue, making it difficult for her to catch her breath. Her eyes glazed over, and she couldn't tell if he was far away or close.

 

In the confined space of the car, the scent of genuine leather seats mixed with his musky scent, growing stronger by the second. Were they running low on oxygen, or had they already run out? The raindrops on the car window were swaying and flowing down in a disorderly fashion, shaking with the movement of the car.

 

......

 

Finally, he whispered in her ear, "Kiss me." Yin Guo's heart raced as she leaned in to kiss him. But instead, he took control and kissed her with an intensity that left her breathless. His lips moved from her lips to her chin and then to her earlobe, sending shivers down her spine as his warm breath tickled her skin.

 

The scent of his masculine cologne filled her senses, and she could feel the drops of sweat from his forehead falling onto her neck. She used the back of her hand to wipe her eyes, noticing that his sweat mixed with hers was flowing down from her neck.

 

Looking at him, she saw that his front and back were also damp with sweat, and several streams were flowing down along his abs. Her eyes drifted down to the tattoo below his waistline, and she noticed that there were no hands on the watch face, just an empty dial.

 

"What are you looking at?" he asked, chuckling knowingly.

 

Feeling uneasy and awkward, Yin Guo shifted her gaze to the foggy window above her head. The glass was all misted up, and she traced a few marks with her finger, feeling incredulous. "Can there really be water mist?"

 

"Is your physics that bad?" he chuckled in a hoarse voice. "Of course, it can happen."

 

She knew the principle, of course. Yin Guo wanted to say that she didn't believe it when it was acted out in movies. The first time she saw it was on Titanic, right? She was still questioning how such a large amount of heat could be emitted. But now, as they were breathing in the car, she realized it really was possible.

 

She drew a small heart on the window and thought for a moment before drawing another one next to it—a pair of them.

The man's emotions had not completely dissipated, and her casual doodles on the window seemed to have reignited a fire within him. He looked her up and down a few times before whispering, "Come here and hug me."

 

That night, the rain had stopped around four in the morning, and Lin Yi Yang retrieved an astronomy telescope from the trunk that he had prepared beforehand. He asked Yin Guo to wait in the car while he set it up underneath, adjusting it to ensure it was stable. Once he was finished, he returned to the car.

 

It seemed like he was tired and didn't want to stargaze with her. Instead, he said, "Let's go down and take a look. The lava rocks are uneven, so be careful where you step; you might get scratched if you fall."

 

Yin Guo wondered if he was not going to accompany her down to the rocks.

 

After a moment of contemplation, Yin Guo exited the car, sensing that Lin Yi Yang was probably familiar with this place and had seen it many times before.

 

As she stepped onto the rough and uneven terrain, the night wind teased her hair, and she leaned back against the car door, gazing up at the vast starry sky. Here, on these boundless black reefs, heaven and earth met, leaving only the bright or dim stars in the Milky Way above.

 

The desolate surroundings seemed like the moon's surface, and the stars in the galaxy shone like jewels. The beauty was breathtaking and could be seen with the naked eye.

 

As they approached the telescope, the galaxy in front of them was infinitely magnified, and she looked carefully at each star as if she could reach out and touch them. Suddenly, her WeChat made a sound, and she wondered if it was Lin Yi Yang.

"It must be him," she thought, as everyone else was set to 'do not disturb.'

 

Yin Guo turned around to face Lin Yi Yang, curious about the mysterious message on his phone. He caught her eye and flashed a smile, tapping his phone screen with his index finger and gesturing for her to come closer.

 

"What's going on? You look like you're up to something," Yin Guo asked, her curiosity piqued.

 

Yin Guo clicked on the image, revealing a breathtaking snapshot of the starry sky, which Lin Yi Yang had just captured from inside the car. She was impressed by the picture's clarity and sharpness.

 

The following image showed an intricate artistic design of a cosmic nebula, inked on the outside of Lin Yi Yang's arm, followed by a photo of a distant range of volcanic mountains, and finally, a snapshot of the mountains tattooed on the inside of his arm.

 

Lin typed out a message, "Remember you said you needed a new screensaver? Well, here it is."

 

Yin Guo gazed at the images in awe, realizing that the tattoos on his arm must have been inspired by the stunning natural scenery around them, the volcanoes, and the stars.

 

The designs on his arm were artistically intricate. Without his explanation, she wouldn't have made the connection between the designs and his planned trip. It was clear that he had been planning it all along, ever since she had asked for a photo of his tattoo that night.

 

But he didn't mention anything beforehand.

 

During the day, they visited the observatory on top of the snowy mountain, and the tour guide gave a detailed introduction to the stargazing paradise. She listened intently and asked him many questions, but he never mentioned the tattoo on his arm. He waited until now.

 

Yin Guo stared at him through the window.

 

Lin rested his hand on the keyboard, leaning back, and quickly began typing sentence after sentence on his phone.

 

Lin: First night we met, the band in the bar kept playing one song over and over again.

 

Lin: Do you remember it?

 

Yin Guo: Yeah, it was "Yellow."

 

Lin: :)

 

Lin: Do you know the lyrics?

 

I remember the first two lines.

 

Look at the stars; look how they shine for you.

 

Looking up at the twinkling stars, she realized that the song fit perfectly with the moment. Lin Yi Yang had intentionally chosen it, and she couldn't help but think of what Jiang Yang had said to her: "He really cares about you."

 

The song, originally about a man's admiration for his beloved girl, now seemed to take on a deeper meaning. It spoke of a deep attraction and love that the man couldn't express. Yin Guo wondered what Lin Yi Yang had thought when he listened to this song on the first night they met.

 

Lost in her thoughts, she wanted nothing more than to look up and see him through the car window.

 

......

 

Her phone vibrated once again in her palm, and she saw that it was another message from Lin Yi Yang.

 

Lin: I don't have much to offer you.

 

Lin: Thank you.

 

Lin: Thank you.

 

She could sense the sincerity in his words as he expressed his gratitude towards her. He thanked her for being a part of his life and allowing him to be a part of hers. He appreciated the fact that she had accepted him, even though he had an unstable future and no real home to offer her.

 

Yin Guo no longer wanted to stargaze. Her heart had been emptied by Lin Yi Yang, and all she wanted was to spend every moment with him, to make the most of their remaining time together. She even began to fear returning to her home country.

Lin got out of the car and approached her as if nothing had happened. He pointed at the telescope and asked, "How's the view?"

 

Yin Guo hugged him tightly and whispered, "You're still pretending... always trying to make me cry." She turned her head and leaned against his chest, listening to his heart's strong and steady beating through his skin and bones.

 

Lin couldn't help but chuckle. "You're the one making me laugh," he said.

 

"Still laughing...I don't even want to go back to my home country anymore. What should we do? Do you plan on going back in the future?" This was the first time she had taken the initiative to discuss their future together. "If you don't want to leave and want to stay here, you'll have to wait for me for a year or two."

 

The statement hinted at the reality of their situation. Yin Guo's family's reluctance to allow her to settle abroad posed a challenge to their future together, and it wasn't going to be easy to overcome.

 

Suddenly, she felt a light tap on her back and turned around to see Lin standing behind her.

 

"I'll go back," he said, with only three simple words.

 

For a man who had spent years away from his hometown, returning for a woman and hoping to build a future with her was no easy feat. Making such a promise meant he had to consider many things and make numerous arrangements.

 

"Yin Guo, just live your life at your own pace, and I'll be there to support you. Let me handle all the difficult things." Lin assured her, his voice filled with determination and love.

 

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