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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

9.5

The Day of the Return of the King

76

The driver held a box of spicy stinky tofu in his hand untouched. Noticing Yin Guo leaning on the armrest, weighed down by thoughts, he extended the box towards her, catching her gaze. She politely declined with a grateful nod, lacking the appetite to eat.

 

As the rest of the group had not yet assembled, the driver seized the moment to make a phone call to his son. He briefly mentioned the recent argument he had with his wife, seeking his son's assistance in mediating the situation.

 

Under the comforting shade of the trees and a gentle breeze caressing the surroundings, the driver, concluding his call, revealed a subtle trace of unease reminiscent of a bygone era. He began, "You see, there was this one day when I neglected to wash my grandson's socks. Mind you, I used to meticulously wash them every single day, but on that particular day, a wave of laziness overcame me, and I decided to forgo the task. To my astonishment, my wife scolded me vehemently for this minor slip-up."

 

Truly, it is bewildering how trivial incidents can spark such unexpected disagreements...

 

"However, a few days later, it dawned on me: Wasn't it just a matter of washing a pair of socks?" the driver added, his voice tinged with newfound perspective.

 

Yin Guo pondered his words for a moment and found herself in agreement.

 

Indeed, it was an inconsequential issue, hardly worth the emotional investment.

 

At noon, Lin Yi Yang made his way back to the billiard room.

 

Jiang Yang rifled through his wardrobe, the search for suitable attire for his upcoming meeting consuming his attention. "I have an important appointment today. Can I borrow something?" he inquired, hoping for a favorable response.

 

"Meeting a lady, are we?" Lin Yi Yang teased, a mischievous glimmer in his eyes.

 

Jiang Yang nodded, willingly divulging the details. "Yes, it's a blind date," he admitted, retrieving a crisp, light gray shirt from within the wardrobe. With calculated precision, he rolled up the sleeves and carefully fastened each button. "She recently went through a divorce, and we've crossed paths twice. She appears pleasant, and if all goes well, we might find ourselves walking down the aisle before you do."

 

Jiang Yang paused, a sudden change of heart evident in his expression. "You know what? I don't think I have the energy for dating anymore. It's become quite exhausting. I observed how drained you were last night on your behalf," he confessed, his tone tinged with weariness.

 

Having finished donning the shirt, Jiang Yang's attention was drawn to a pile of promotional brochures and deposit receipts scattered on the table by Lin Yi Yang. Curiosity piqued, he picked them up and took a quick glance.

 

Recalling a memorable incident from the month before last, both Jiang Yang and Lin Yi Yang had embarked on an adventurous motorcycle journey during an out-of-town competition.

 

Engaging in this popular trend, initially popularized by gentlemen cyclists from Australia and Europe, had captured the imagination of Dongxin City's men. They would dress impeccably in formal suits, complete with shirts and ties while riding their bikes at exhilarating speeds.

 

Intrigued by both the allure of the suits and the thrill of bike riding, Jiang Yang found himself borrowing bikes from locals to indulge in a few laps. During one such occasion, Lin Yi Yang donned a sleek black suit with a shirt, omitting the tie. Jiang Yang, on the other hand, opted for a stylish dark gray suit and even acquired contact lenses specifically to wear under his helmet. Their shared adventure brought immense joy as they raced through the streets. Meanwhile, Fan Wencong observed from the sidelines, playfully commenting on the duo: one a rascal masquerading as a gentleman, and the other a cunning fox camouflaged as a regular person. Any woman who encountered them would undoubtedly be captivated by their charisma.

 

Jiang Yang speculated that he could use this experience as a peace offering to appease his wife.

 

As Jiang Yang witnessed Lin Yi Yang's restless demeanor the previous night, he sensed that his friend had engaged in a heated argument with his girlfriend. Understanding the situation, he offered some words of wisdom, saying, "In the beginning, everything may seem rosy when viewed through tinted lenses. However, the tinted film fades over time, and we must learn to embrace both the positives and negatives. We can discuss this matter further later tonight."

 

Feeling overwhelmed with frustration, Lin Yi Yang waved his hand dismissively, a gesture urging Jiang Yang to depart if necessary.

 


 

Before leaving, Jiang Yang couldn't resist a teasing remark. "You really need to work on your relationship skills, as evident from last night," he jested, a playful grin on his face.

 

Once Jiang Yang departed, Lin Yi Yang exchanged greetings with Sun Yao, a member of the renovation team working on the second floor, before retreating to his own room for some rest.

 

In stark contrast to the guest room's modest size, Lin Yi Yang's personal quarters exuded spaciousness.

 

With a firm pull, he closed the curtains tightly, successfully shutting out any trace of light. Within the dimly lit room, where the boundaries between day and night blurred, Lin Yi Yang positioned his right arm as a comfortable support beneath his head, lying on the bed deep in contemplation. Despite the tranquility of his surroundings, sleep eluded him completely.

 

Resting motionless offered a means of passing the time, yet Lin Yi Yang pondered that engaging in a game of pool would be a more productive choice. He deliberately moved the covers from the bed, orienting himself away from the door. In doing so, he noticed a slender beam of light infiltrating the room, casting a glow upon his feet through a slight gap behind him.

 

"Did I get stood up?" Lin Yi Yang wondered, assuming it was Jiang Yang who failed to meet him as planned.

 

The figure lingering outside the door leaned against the frame, peering into the dimly lit room from the illuminated threshold. "It was me who stood them up, allowing them to proceed without me," the person confessed, their voice filled with a tinge of remorse.

 

Turning around, Lin Yi Yang discovered the silhouette of a young woman who had entered the room. As she quietly closed the door behind her, she approached him in the enveloping darkness.

 

Yin Guo extended her hand, yearning to embrace him, but hesitated momentarily when she noticed he wasn't wearing short sleeves. Without delay, he clasped her hand and guided it around his waist.

 

"Wasn't it supposed to be a training session?" Lin Yi Yang spoke first, breaking the silence.

 

"I was worried that your unhappiness would hinder your performance in the competition," Yin Guo's voice was gentle, barely above a whisper. "I returned solely to be with you."

 

Her wrist luxuriated in the comforting warmth of his palm, a sensation that cascaded down to her elbow. Lin Yi Yang savored this intimacy, appreciating every joint of her body and the velvety texture of her skin. "Do you know how to care for me?" he inquired again.

 

Overwhelmed with emotions, Yin Guo embraced him tightly, her heart heavy with unrequited affection.

 

It was those three simple words he uttered, "I miss you," that resonated deeply within her. She believed that not returning would leave him feeling slighted.

 

Lin Yi Yang, yearning for her presence, sought her face, her lips. "Even if you hadn't come, I would have driven through the night to be by your side," he confessed.

 

The mere thought of arguing with each other was unbearable for both of them. They longed for harmony and understanding.

 

Throughout the night, Lin Yi Yang tossed and turned, consumed by thoughts of when and how to broach the topic with Yin Guo. He hesitated to discuss it during nighttime, fearing another argument would disrupt her sleep. One reason for his hesitation was his concern for her rest, and the other stemmed from the multitude of thoughts swirling in his mind. He contemplated Li Qingyan's discontentment, the approaching open competition and the array of pending matters awaiting his attention upon his return. With his mind in turmoil, sleep evaded him throughout the night.

 

Resting her face upon his shoulder, Yin Guo recounted the events of the previous day. "I had two arguments with my sister yesterday, and both times we were discussing you. And then you suddenly snapped at me, becoming angry for no apparent reason..."

 

"It's irritating to witness," he whispered softly into her ear, "seeing that guy, Meng Xiaodong, with you."

 

"...I have no connection with him whatsoever."

 

Yin Guo's accusation lingered in the air as Lin Yi Yang retaliated, "Cheng Yan has never uttered a word to me in your presence. How many times have you brought this up?"

 

Jealousy continued to corrode their relationship, slowly eroding their bond.

 

Amidst their turbulent emotions, arguments often erupted, becoming the catalyst for their discontent. However, this time, it was rosemary—a symbol of their desires. It pleased their vanity to hear the person they admired express jealousy. His fingers deftly undid her clothing as he inquired, "What is the latest time you need to be there?"

 

"Tonight, there's no specific time," she replied.

 

A dinner engagement loomed ahead, yet it wasn't mandatory for everyone to attend.

 

"That's still early," he remarked.

 

Gently, he posed a question, his voice near her face, "Who once told me that you're easily appeased? That all it takes is something delicious to pacify you? I intended to bring you cherries, but you didn't even turn back when I called."

 

As he spoke, he skillfully undressed her, ensnaring her in his embrace. "You certainly have a fiery temper," he remarked.

 

Feeling unsettled in this unfamiliar space, she realized that the door wasn't locked yet, prompting her to grip his arm firmly. "The door isn't locked..." The sensation of his body against hers incited a desire to bite, and she yielded to the impulse: "Slow down..."

 

In a husky voice, he replied, "I can't slow down."

 

In a spirited struggle, they grappled against the wall before he effortlessly lifted her and carried her onto the bed. The moment Yin Guo's back touched the pristine white sheets, she seized his back without warning, causing her forehead to collide with his collarbone as she called out his name.

 

He acknowledged her fervor. His collarbone bore the weight of Yin Guo's forceful forehead as if she aimed to shatter it. Slowly, she released the tension in her body, tilting her head to bury her face in the soft pillow. Subconsciously, she curled up, yearning to nestle into his embrace and find solace in slumber.

 

"Missed me that much?" he whispered tenderly, nibbling her earlobe. "So swiftly."

 

Yin Guo buried her face in the pillow, causing her cheeks to flush a bright red hue. Even the back of her ears blushed in response.

 

The pillow carried the unmistakable scent of Lin Yi Yang, permeating the room and triggering a flood of memories within her body.

 

In her youth, she had come across an old song titled "Scent," with lyrics that incessantly repeated, "Missing your smile, missing your scent." At that time, she struggled to comprehend the depth of such emotions, wondering what there was to miss, as boys were expected to have an unpleasant odor... After playing basketball, after completing physical education class, especially during the sweltering summer, the scent was often overpowering.

 

Yet now, she grasped its meaning. The lyrics spoke of the unique olfactory connection between two individuals, particularly after sharing intimate moments.

 

As their bodies entwined, a fine sheen of sweat emerged, glistening on their skin. Lin Yi Yang tenderly wiped it away with his hand, mingling their perspiration. He positioned two pillows behind Yin Guo's back, conveying a wordless understanding as their focus shifted to their intimate endeavors.

 

Concerned for her well-being, he carefully draped the blanket over her, mindful of the lingering chill of early April. The room was illuminated by the gentle glow of the bedside lamp, casting a soft and comforting light that suited someone as experienced as Lin Yi Yang. Its gentle radiance accentuated the intimate moment without overwhelming it.

 

After attending to their surroundings, Lin Yi Yang enfolded Yin Guo in his arms, cradling her within the warmth of his embrace. She surrendered to his embrace, her voice a gentle murmur, "This is how it is whenever we meet."

 

He smiled warmly and gently teased, "It's been almost two months. If you still don't desire it, perhaps you should think if finding a new boyfriend is the right path for you."

 

Their previous intimate encounter had taken place on her birthday, marking quite a significant passage of time. Given his current physical condition and age, he was content with modest desires. However, the constraints of their long-distance relationship posed inconveniences, and since they were not yet married, it was important to maintain appropriate boundaries in their encounters.

 

Yin Guo playfully tapped her chin against his collarbone, affectionately calling him a "rascal."

 

Lin Yi Yang couldn't help but chuckle in response.

 

It had been a while since she had addressed him in such a playful manner.

 

As the blanket was intended for her comfort, he didn't bother covering himself.

 

Yin Guo's gaze caught sight of the compass tattoo on his waist, which appeared to have undergone some changes since the last time she saw it. At first, she attributed it to the dim lighting in the room or her own exhaustion, which caused her vision to blur slightly.

 

Upon closer examination, she confirmed that, indeed, there were additional pointers on the compass design.

 

Intrigued, Yin Guo lifted the blanket that covered him, leaning in for a closer look. However, Lin Yi Yang playfully grasped her arm, teasingly remarking, "Who's the rascal here? What piques your curiosity?"

 

Paying no mind to his playful remark, Yin Guo remained fixated on her examination.

 

His skin glistened with a subtle sheen of sweat, giving it a dewy appearance after being cleansed. The intricate design on his waist featured small letterings, resembling pointers at first glance. However, upon closer observation, Yin Guo discerned that they formed a sequence of English letters - "fruitlet."

 

The significance of this word struck her. It was a term she had once contemplated adopting as her English name...

 


 

Her heart swelled with discomfort, and a pang of sourness coursed through her nose. "You never said anything, never mentioned it to me," she voiced her hurt.

 

Lin Yi Yang let out a chuckle, seemingly dismissing the significance of it all.

 

What was there to say? It was merely a tattoo, after all.

 

Originally, Yin Guo had wanted to get a compass tattoo symbolizing her aimless wanderings and lack of a fixed direction in life. That's why the dial had no pointers. During the tattoo session, she and the artist playfully joked that if she ever found a significant other, she would add their name to the design. It had been a lighthearted remark, but after Lin Yi Yang bid her farewell at the airport for her trip to Washington, he felt a profound emptiness inside. At that moment, he made the impulsive decision to have the tattoo artist at the youth hostel add his name to the design.

 

The person who added the English word found it endearing and asked if it was meant for his daughter.

 

At that moment, Lin Yi Yang smiled and replied, "Daughters don't get this treatment. It's the wife who's important."

 

He spoke as if he already had a wife and children.

 

Yin Guo trailed her hand along his waistline, sensing the presence of the tattoo beneath her touch. It wasn't visible to the naked eye, but she could feel a slight protrusion... Lin Yi Yang noticed her eyes turning red and gently brushed his fingers against her face.

 

He recalled there was still a large bag of cherries in the refrigerator and thought of bringing them for her to enjoy. "Stay here," he instructed as he sat on the edge of the bed. He noticed that her hair was slightly damp, and she couldn't seem to take her eyes off his "mermaid line."

 

He settled back down, taking the large white pillow from Yin Guo's embrace and placing it under her waist. "Never mind, we can discuss it later on the way."

 

Yin Guo woke up once more, this time due to Lin Yi Yang's alarm clock. Worried about causing any delays, he had set two alarms. The first one rang for a full half-minute before being followed immediately by the second alarm.

 

Startled awake, Yin Guo felt the warmth against her back and the back of her thighs. She found herself being tenderly held by him, sleeping soundly.

 

In the hazy moment, she struggled to discern the current evening. This sensation of being both sore and relaxed, sleeping while being held, was reminiscent of their time in his college apartment. The surroundings were engulfed in darkness, and for a brief moment, she mistook it for the February apartment. She rolled over and embraced his waist, desiring to linger in bed a little longer.

 

"What were you dreaming about?" Lin Yi Yang's voice came from above. "Still not getting up?"

 

Feeling drowsy, Yin Guo reclined and rested her head on his arm. "I thought I was in your apartment."

 

"I've moved out," he replied. "Even if you wanted to go, we'd have to stay in a hotel."

 

"To be honest, you seemed the most carefree over there," she listened to the rhythm of his heartbeat. "Yesterday, when I saw you brewing tea, it felt like you were a different person."

 

"I wasn't truly myself there either," he fell silent for a moment, his fingers tracing gentle circles through her long hair. "I pursued further studies initially because I found my job mundane and lacked genuine aspirations. I thought studying for a few more years would broaden my horizons."

 

After a pause, he added, "I've always had a desire to compete, even since I left. It's just that my pride got in the way, and I allowed myself to drift."

 

Lin Yi Yang reached for his phone resting on her back and unlocked it.

 

Glancing at the time, Lin Yi Yang gently patted her back through the quilt. "Time to get up."

 

Just as they were preparing to leave, Jiang Yang, who had just returned from a date, handed Lin Yi Yang a printed temporary license plate.

 

"Perfect timing. The temporary license plate for the car is ready," he said. It was the car Lin Yi Yang had purchased before returning to the country, but it had remained parked in the garage without being driven as he hadn't taken the necessary photos. "The first trip in the new car will be with my girlfriend. That's a good omen, my junior."

 

His remark referred to him driving a long distance to see her, and it truly made Lin Yi Yang feel willingly obedient under Yin Guo's influence.

 

Lin Yi Yang didn't pay much attention to the others as he held a bag of cherries in his left hand and glanced at the paper in his right hand. "Should I put it in front of the windshield?"

 

"Yes," Yin Guo replied.

 

He handed the bag of cherries to Yin Guo and proceeded to carry her suitcase downstairs.

 

On the second floor, several men, including Sun Yao, were engaged in a discussion about the renovation schedule. They had returned to assist Lin Yi Yang. When they noticed Yin Guo trailing behind him, Sun Yao greeted her with a warm smile. "Hello, Sister-in-law."

 

Yin Guo nodded and smiled politely at the people standing behind Sun Yao.

 

She glanced around the second and third floors, which were significantly larger than the old city in the north. She hadn't anticipated that he would truly create such a grand sports club this time.

 

Lin Yi Yang instructed her to wait on the roadside while he drove over from the adjacent community.

 

After a short while, a sleek black G65 emerged from the gate of the neighboring community, displaying the temporary license plate on the front windshield. The car came to a halt in front of her, and Lin Yi Yang waved at her through the car window, saying, "Hop in."

 

When Yin Guo got into the car, Lin Yi Yang stepped out briefly and swiftly placed the small suitcase in the trunk.

 

As she settled into the car, Yin Guo noticed him stealing a glance at her as she enjoyed the bag of cherries. "Are they sweet?" he asked with a hint of curiosity.

 

Yin Guo nodded and smiled in response.

 

The night had already fallen upon the city, casting a veil of darkness. Lin Yi Yang opened the navigation system and gazed at the map of this now-unfamiliar city.

 

A sweet taste lingered on his lips as Yin Guo plucked a cherry and delicately offered it to him. "Why didn't you participate in the China Open last year?"

 

"Last year wasn't the right timing," Lin Yi Yang responded, his left hand firmly gripping the steering wheel. Following the guidance of the navigation system, he smoothly executed a U-turn at a small intersection. "But this year feels like the perfect opportunity."

 

He needed to recalibrate himself for the competitive arena, setting aside his past accomplishments and relying solely on his hard work. He required a deep introspection to truly understand himself and reclaim his position on this forgotten battlefield.

Having started his journey here, he yearned to return with a profound sense of homecoming.

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