Zhong Gang and Mi Fang didn’t hesitate to put their plan into action. The next morning, as soon as Mister Zhong exited his room, his cousin hurried over with a small package in his hands and a big smile on his face.
"Ah Gang, you’re awake! Come, come, I’ve got something for you!" He ushered him back into the room, put the package on the table and unwrapped it himself, presenting three sets of new clothes to him.
Mister Zhong scratched his head. "What’s this?"
Zhong Gang smiled satisfied. His cousin didn’t grow angry, so his plan should have a chance of working. "It’s like this, I want to show you and your family the teahouse today. Since it’s under our family’s name I thought it might be good to directly show the people of the capital that you are part of the family. After all, nobody knows you yet so they might think it is just an establishment I gave my name for. I discussed long with Mi Fang about this and she suggested that we might wear the same type of clothes so that people will notice better how similar we look. Isn’t that a great idea?"
Mister Zhong scratched his head again and smiled embarrassedly. "Sure, that sounds good but … isn’t that a little too much?" He grabbed the edge of the clothes and rubbed the fabric between his fingers. He had never seen something like this in the village! Even Mister Pi who liked to dress scholarly — as he called it — didn’t own something like this. "I’m afraid I can’t accept this."
"Hogwash!" Zhong Gang slapped his shoulder, causing Mister Zhong to stumble to the side. "You’re helping me with this. You know just giving my name will not be as effective as having someone from my family run the business. I’ve managed to make a good reputation for myself in the capital. People would trust someone from my family but they need to see that you’re really part of my family. So, please do me the favor, yes?"
Mister Zhong nodded. He didn’t want to make trouble for his cousin. "I don’t understand about business. If it’s really this important, then I’ll comply."
"Yes, yes, it is!" Zhong Gang grinned sheepishly. Indeed! This was mighty important! After all, this might decide whether he got his preferred son-in-law or not. Ah, his cousin probably wouldn’t blame him. If he knew, he’d also want for his Jing Yi to marry their Guanyu.
Mister Zhong took the clothes but didn’t know what to do now. They looked so good. Could he just casually wear them today? Shouldn’t he wait for some kind of important occasion?
"Go on, try them!" His cousin urged him.
Mister Zhong finally complied and changed his clothes. When he stepped back in front of his cousin Zhong Gang laughed heartily.
"Great! Really great! You should go and show your wife!"
Ah, his wife had really excelled herself. Zhong Lei was a little less chubby than him but thanks to the work on the fields and around the village Zhong Lei’s arms were more muscular than his too so that they almost seemed to have the same figure. Mi Fan had just used some of his clothes as a model and obviously, that had been the right call. The clothes fit Zhong Lei alright, although he did look uncomfortable in them. He just wasn’t accustomed to wearing something like this.
Mister Zhong scratched his head again, a little embarrassed at the idea of letting his wife see him like this. He and Ru Chun had known each other since they were children and he had never worn something this … fancy. Wouldn’t she laugh at him?
Zhong Gang wasn’t easily deterred though. "Mi Fang prepared clothes for your wife and your son too. If you take the two of them with you, people will know at one glance that you’re a family! Just let your wife sit at the entrance of the teahouse and get some of the more important guests’ orders. They’ll love that the owner’s wife is personally tending to them!"
"What owner’s wife?" Mister Zhong wanted to argue but Zhong Gang didn’t want to hear anything.
"Ah, don’t, don’t, don’t! Just go and give the clothes to your wife."
"Mn, alright." Mister Zhong finally relented. His cousin had said it would be good for his business and why shouldn’t he let his wife and child have the possibility to dress a bit more prettily? They’d probably like it and if they stayed in the capital, they had to adapt sooner or later. Why not do so sooner so they would fit in right from the beginning?
Zhong Gang was content with his Zhong Lei’s approval and shooed him off to his wife while he himself ran back into the house and told Mi Fang that their plan had worked.
Inside the courtyard where Mister and Madam Zhong lived, a certain dragon king observed with a dark expression how his beloved was stuffed into a foreign outfit.
Hmph. Qiu Ling harrumphed. Guilt-tripping his beloved’s family. He’d see where that would get them! He certainly wouldn’t let them get away with this so easily! Though, he did not have a plan at the moment. For now, it was just important to make sure that that girl wouldn’t get any ideas on his beloved. If she really didn’t, then no further intervention was needed. If she did … he’d formulate a plan in an instant!
When Mister and Madam Zhong finally stepped out of the room with their son in tow, Mi Fang clasped her hands over her mouth and barely suppressed her laugh. This was just too perfect! Her daughter wouldn’t be able to contain herself!
"Ah, how great you three look!"
"Thank you for your kind words."
"Now that everything is set, let’s go eat!" Mi Fang turned around and left the courtyard with a spring in her step.
Jing Yi looked at his mother, not really comprehending what was happening. Madam Zhong gave a wry smile and shrugged her shoulders. "Maybe they just want to make us feel welcome." She certainly couldn’t tell her son that Zhong Gang and Mi Fang wanted to make their daughter fall in love with him. Wouldn’t he go and hide away then?
Madam Zhong took Jing Yi’s hand and the three of them followed Mi Fang and her husband to where they would eat.
"I’ll get Guanyu!" Mi Fang announced and hurried to her daughter.
She had spent extra care this morning to make her as presentable as possible much to the dissatisfaction of her daughter. The girl still pouted. She could imagine why her mother was doing this. The only reason why she didn’t complain was that she also loved looking good.
In a bad mood, she followed her mother to eat. But upon entering the room she froze and her face that had been locked in a crabby expression softened. Her gaze locked onto Jing Yi and a beautiful smile lifted the corners of her lips.
Qiu Ling narrowed his eyes, fixating the girl that dared to covet his beloved. What a bad girl! He’d certainly make her pay!