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"Have you found him?"

"No, he's not picking up."

"Oh, off you go, then."

Granny Zeng brushed her grandson off after a few words and went back to the small living room in the back, where four elderly people of similar age were seated. They appeared to be your average next-door grandparents, but after a closer look, their countenances were marked with experience and stateliness one would find on veterans.



"Exactly what are you up to? You've gone out twice in such a short period already." Old man Lei got along with Granny Zeng the best and was not one bit careful with his wording. He complained, "After all this time we waited for you to host the party, you just had to hold it in this dump. Now that we've come, you wouldn't even talk to us…"

"Cut it, cut it! Stop your nagging already!" Old man Xiao was in the habit of disagreeing with him. He waved to interrupt old man Lei, then turned to Granny Zeng and asked, "Is there any problem?"

"Not at all. It's just that I wanted to invite a young friend here today, but can't get hold of him," smiled the old lady.

"Oh?"

With that, the two from Zhang and Sun families were drawn in and joined the conversation.

"Is it that Xiao Gu you mentioned before?"

"You certainly did not save your compliments for him. If he doesn't turn out to be as capable as you described, I hope you're ready to lose some face."

"It's too early to tell. I'm still not sure whether he will come or not. Well, enough about that…"

The old lady served tea for all and switched the subject, talking about recent policy changes and the market environment instead. The other four found such issues much more familiar and the conversation went on in a lively atmosphere.

Such was the main purpose of the Summer Tea Party. Even the moderately ambitious businessmen nowadays were pursuing multi-industrial development. The five people here each started in a different field and had all established their own enterprise by now. They would naturally seek close cooperation to achieve win-win result for all.

At their age, the way these elderly behaved was not all that different from young children. Half of their serious conversation was replaced with bickering and squabbling. Before long, Zeng Yuewei came in after a knock. "Granny, we've talked to him. He said he's coming tonight."

"What was Xiao Gu doing?"

"He didn't say, seemed busy."

"Ok, I see."

After Zeng Yuewei went out, old man Lei was the first to be disgruntled. He grunted, "This guy is really puffed up!"

"It's called 'respectable' for those with real talent," wrangled old man Xiao as always.

Old Sun chuckled, "Hoho, that's a very special young friend you've got there."

"You're quite right. The youngsters nowadays all have strong personalities," Old Zhang added.

"..."

What more could Granny Zeng say? These old friends might seem amiable, but with their status, it was inevitable for them to have some temper and pride. They saw Gu Yu merely as an incense maker who was not appreciating Granny Zeng's favor by stalling for so long after being repeatedly invited.

One could not blame them for thinking this way. After all, they had not witnessed for themselves...

The old lady shook her head and sipped her tea.

Meanwhile, in the main hall and courtyard outside, the younger generation was busy networking among themselves as well. Being forthright in character and with the most influential family background, Lei Ziming was set to be the center of the focus.

Right now, he was introducing a girl to the rest of the crowd. "Here, let me introduce you. This is Uncle Xiao's niece. She's just got back from abroad, a top student for real."

"Hello, I'm Xiao Yuanyuan. It's my first time here and it's nice to meet you all."

The girl was slender and had a lovely face. Despite her schoolgirl-like appearance, the others would not underestimate her, for anyone attending this gathering was bound to be a talented young member of their families.

Xiao Yuanyuan was not a talkative person, but was rather good at making conversation. It did not take her long to mingle into the crowd. Only a handful of girls were here today and after making a round, she approached Zeng Yuewei.

"Sister Wei Wei, I've heard so much about you from Brother Ziming and finally have the chance to meet you today. You're as pretty as I was told!" She said wholeheartedly, apparently meaning every word she said.

Zeng Yuewei was scornful inside. 'I recognize an angelic b*tch as soon as I see one.' She put on a smile and replied at once, "You flatter me. You put me to shame with that diploma from a business school." [1]

"Sister, you're so much better than me. You started helping out your family business at such a young age and I'm still sponging off my family."

Looking as harmless as a dove, Xiao Yuanyuan went on, "May I ask what is Sister Wei Wei in charge of in the company?"

"I wouldn't say I'm actually in charge of anything. I mainly work on marketing plans."

"Marketing plans? That's great! I want to ask a favor from sister…"

Before Zeng Yuewei could respond, she continued, "I'm thinking about opening a red wine bar, but I know very little about this business. Could you help me with some ideas?"

"Red wine bar? Like a saloon sort of thing?" Zeng Yuewei was a little surprised.

"Something like that, where people could taste wine and talk."

"Oh…"

Zeng Yuewei grasped the idea immediately. She was talking about a small private club where people could store their wine, take girls over to flirt and do other pretentious stuff of sorts.

She couldn't refuse her blatantly and had to say, "In that case, let's exchange phone numbers and we'll talk later."

"Thank you, Sister Wei Wei!"

Xiao Yuanyuan grinned and was going to make the best use of this opportunity. She added with a smile, "You grew up with Brother Ziming, which makes you an older sister of mine as well. You have to look out for me from now on."

"Hehe, no problem!"

Zeng Yuewei rolled her eyes in her mind while giving Xiao Yuanyuan an eight-teeth wide smile.

As they chatted on, the night slowly fell.

The five old friends talked for quite some time before they strolled out of the small living room with smiling faces, which suggested that their conversation reached a satisfying conclusion. Granny Zeng had some cooks hired in advance and prepared a vegetarian meal. The dishes by now had been set on tables in the dining room, the main hall and rooms in both wings.

Their previous parties were held in venues such as saloons, clubs or villas. But this time, not even a decent night club existed in a remote dump like this.

The youngsters were full of complaints, which they had to conceal. They endured being in this place by thinking of it as a one-day trip to the countryside.

After the dinner, the five elderly moved to the side wing together, where a table and tea were set. Granny Zeng opened up the wooden door to a quiet and pretty courtyard. Above them, a bright moon shone high in the sky.

She followed Gu Yu's instruction to a tee, but the others found it hard to withstand.

Old man Lei was tugging at the rush cushion he sat on and could not find a comfortable position. He could not hold back his criticism. "Why, living off the mountain for the past few years has turned you into a vegetarian Buddhist?"

"Exactly! All these are so hard to get used to! We didn't have to go through so much trouble before," Old Xiao and Old Li agreed for once.

Granny Zeng could not be bothered to retort. She held the tray and put it under the eave. On it were a censer and an entire set of utensils. She ignited the charcoal into fuming heat by herself and put in three pills of the Moon-Side Incense.

By now, the others had stopped complaining. Granny Zeng had been bragging about the incense for the past two weeks, showering it with compliments. Inevitably, they too were intrigued. Normally, it would take about two minutes for the fragrance of the incense to be sent forth, yet they still could not smell anything after a while.

"It's not expired, isn't it?" Old Lei could not help asking.

"Is it hot enough? I've got a lighter here," chimed in Old Xiao.

"..."

The old lady was wavering. She had been bragging about it so much that if it failed to work now, she would be mortified! She hurried near to check only to find the charcoal burning at the right temperature. Then why...

'What?'

She froze as a barely detectable fragrance reached her nose. At first she thought it was just her imagination, yet after taking a sniff, the aroma was indeed there.

She was not the only one smelling it. The other four further away also detected it and focused. The fragrance bore a trace of cold and clear air, which in turn led to a faint sweetness. The two sensations fused and intertwined in a natural and penetrating manner.

"..."

The four exchanged a look and nodded to themselves. Only an expert could use a single move to demonstrate his true talent. The way this incense was "introduced" was striking enough to prove the maker a master.

The thought had not yet went away when their expressions suddenly changed in unison, for the aroma was growing stronger—to the extent that it almost felt solid as it twirled around each of them in turn...

It was only until then that the incense revealed the true meaning it bore.

"This is…"

"It…"

It was not a cold night, but the five of them shuddered violently. They felt their pores opening slightly and, without realizing it, a solitary coldness seeped through them, which was to be found neither in their bodies, nor in their minds, but was thousands of miles away in the clear and bright moon.

The five people looked up involuntarily, only to find the moon as bright and pure as a suspending mirror. The silver light sprinkled on the censer and lingered around the faint smoke, then drifted away together into the courtyard.

The night clouds dispersed, leaving behind the blank canvas of the sky. The moon and the land on earth seemed to add radiance to each other. In this small courtyard, dewdrops were just forming and the autumn wind had yet to turn chilly. Shadows created by the moonlight paved the black brick ground, resembling the cold and lonely moon overhead, and the frost-coated white osmanthus flowers.

"..."

The five of them sat dazed under the old eaves and were flooded with a sudden idea: there was no evening more pleasant than this one in a year.

They had lost count of time when the fragrance finally died away.

When they came to themselves again, they still felt somehow lost in that scene, regretting that the moment was too short, yet the night ahead was too long. As they were sighing, a faint sound interrupted their trail of thoughts and they all looked up.

"Creak!"

Enveloped by the moonlight, Gu Yu pushed open the gate to the yard.

[1] ED/N: The literal translation of the term is quite interesting, "green tea b*tch". As you might've expected, it's "a girl who seems innocent and charming but is actually calculating and manipulative".

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