Cyrano de Bergerac…..
The soft and tender tone of voice in which she spoke, made the unshed tears shimmer in Ye Hua’s dark eyes when she asked, “Did you say that I reminded you of your first love?”
Slowly Qian Qian extended her hand in a sympathetic manner that made Ye Hua think, perhaps she was going to caress his but instead, she sharply slapped the backside of his hand and lectured with full criticism.
With authority she reprimanded, “Ye Hua, that’s such an old and lame pickup line! Now, I thoroughly understand why you’re still single. Let me tell you something. There isn’t a single woman in the entire world who wants to be a rebound for her lover’s past flame!”
“Seriously, if I had a gold teal for every time a silly man said that I reminded him of his first love, I would be filthy rich undoubtedly!”
Ye Hua chuckled amused by her comment and stated the obvious, “Qian Qian, you are filthy rich.”
“That’s not the point!” She answered, dramatically recoiled and roughly forced up the long sleeve of her gown to show off her goosebumps.
She asked Ye Hua in pure astonishment, “Do you see all the little tiny bumps all over my skin? It looks like a plucked chicken, right? That terrible and cheesy statement of yours just had that effect on me.”
“Let me ask you something? How can a handsome sane young man such as yourself, say something so cringe worthy straight faced to a woman like you just said to me?!”
It tickled Ye Hua that she still could have a full conversation with herself. Qian Qian removed his teacup to the side and placed down a wine glass in its place. She filled it to the very top and declared with a happy smile that playfully curled up the corners of her full lips.
“I know we’ve only met but I feel an unexplained close bond and kinship to you. You don’t feel like a stranger to me so I think we should be friends. What do you think about us being friends, Ye Hua?”
Without waiting for his reply, she went on, “Since we’re friends… How about if I set you up with a beautiful woman but in exchange, you help me with your older brother, Mo Yuan?”
Innocently Qian Qian fluttered her thick eyelashes as she proposed something so simply ludicrous, that it caused Ye Hua to spat out his wine violently instantly. He choked, barked and couldn’t catch his winded breath due to her unreasonable request, and she’d also somehow friend zoned him in the same sentence.
While Ye Hua choked, Qian Qian studied him with big, round, curious eyes and waited patiently for him to stop coughing before explaining her dilemma, “I’m not the type who usually asks for help from others. However, I feel a strange comfortable and friendly connection with you. Your older brother, High God Mo Yuan, is very much out of my league. He appears deep and too intellectual so I’m going to assume he probably fancies philological, elegant and cultured women which is something I’m not.”
“Why can’t you just be yourself? Let him like you for who you are not who you think you need to be with him?” Ye Hua questioned in between coughs.
Abruptly appearing apprehensive, Qian Qian added bashfully, “If that were enough I wouldn’t be asking for your help! Your brother, High God Mo Yuan, intimidates me immensely. If you could just coach me through our first few encounters, then I’m sure I’ll be able to handle it from there. Ye Hua, would you mind helping me gain your brother’s interest and affections?”
Ye Hua studied her determined expression. Qian Qian was most earnest and deadly serious. She honestly desired him to play cupid between herself and Mo Yuan. The ridiculous level of irony was beyond comical and he inwardly questioned, if it were possible for things to become more confused and twisted between them?
He responded with the very first thing that popped into his mind and Ye Hua began to make a swift departure. Because being around Qian Qian and discussing Mo Yuan with her made him want to weep.
“No, I’m not looking for female companionship or wife but thank you anyway. Plus, I’m too busy to play a mere matchmaker for you and Mo Yuan.” Ye Hua’s already soft voice seemed to have lost its strength and he sounded weak.
He placed down enough money on the table to cover whatever A-Li borrowed and more. Ye Hua stood to retreat when he felt her small hands holding him back. He couldn’t resist but glanced down at her, and the gentle expression on her face was one of sheer innocence and almost identical to SuSu’s.
It would be an absolute falsification if Ye Hua didn’t admit he was wavering, and honestly considering her insane request. Just the sweet and endearing appearance on her beautiful features alone, tugged at his heartstrings tremendously.
Ye Hua exhaled through his nose and declared the very opposite of what he truly desired, because he saw a window of opportunity for his crimson lotus, “Alright. I’ll help you lure my brother. I’ll arrange five meetings for you and him but I also have a request in return. I’d like to leave a flower in the lotus pond in Qingqiu.”
Instantly Qian Qian beamed and stuck out her pinky for him to grab to seal their deal without hesitation. Ye Hua bounded his little pinky with hers reluctantly became the love liaison, and matchmaker for her and Mo Yuan.
“I’ll come to Qingqiu tomorrow and we’ll devise a plan to make Mo Yuan fall for you.” Ye Hua announced suddenly feeling weary and exhausted.
She thanked him as Ye Hua walked away from the table, and wondered what the hell just happened when he heard A-Li behind him grumble, “Father, help me understand something because I don’t get it?! Are you going for sainthood? Is that it? Ye Hua the patron saint of brokenhearted lonely men?”
A-Li reached out and rubbed his father’s back as he asked, “How is it that you’re so very cold, indifferent and ruthless with everyone else except whenever it comes to mom, you become a complete jellyfish? I’m asking because I’m honestly curious how you’re able to walk upright without a spine!” He stretched out again and touched Ye Hua’s spine as if to examine its presence.
“A-Li, your mother’s peace of mind and happiness have always been the first, and foremost concerns in my mind. Sometimes in life, A-Li, letting someone go is the greatest sign of love and devotion.”
He continued in the same somber voice, “I vowed that I would never put Qian Qian in a difficult position ever again, and that I would help her if she ever came to me in need.”
Ye Hua listened to himself speak the real words from deep down in his heart, but couldn’t believe how incredibly painful it felt to hear them coming from his lips.
But the aching sensation in his heart didn’t go away because he heard about it all night and the morning after. A-Li was arguing with Ye Hua’s reasoning. Or what A-Li considered to be lack of logic. He even managed to get uncle Lian Song involved, and Ye Hua had to hear and endure his uncle nagging in addiction to A-Li’s.
A-Li and Lian Song wanted to understand why Ye Hua would help and support his Qian Qian. Whom he still loved and his brother once love rival, Mo Yuan, grow together. Their particular dispute was valid when they asked why? But what could Ye Hua answer when he barely understood his actions himself.
Only he knew and felt the guilt in his heart precisely. Others could never understand because they weren’t the bearer, creator or the producer of someone’s loss of hope, destruction and ultimate grief.
It was his karma because he was undoubtedly guilty, blameworthy and the condemned individual responsible for Qian Qian’s suffering. That cumbersome weight, burden and sorrow was something inside Ye Hua that he could never forget or forgive.
Therefore, against everyone’s opinion, Ye Hua decided to help his Qian Qian in her quest to gain Mo Yuan’s affections, and also place his crimson lotus in Qingqiu’s pond. He went to the Fox den first and saw the Fox Emperor and when asked why he was there, Ye Hua just told him the truth.
High God Bai Zhi almost collapsed to the ground, and then brutally whacked Ye Hua up the backside of his head. He scolded him for his stupidity and yelled.
He bellowed, “Ye Hua! Don’t be a complete idiot! That’s ridiculous and worry about yourself instead! Don’t you dare set my daughter up with Mo Yuan! I’d much rather see you find yourself a nice wife, instead of wasting your energy on Qian Qian’s crush on him!”
Then High God Bai Zhi, the Fox Emperor, said something Ye Hua never expected to hear in a million years.
He declared aloud, “Ye Hua, if anything, I’d greatly prefer you as a son-in-law. You’re A-Li’s father and in all honesty, I feel Mo Yuan is just a bit too old for my daughter.”
“He and I are close and intimate friends, but I don’t particularly like picturing him in bed undressed with my youngest child. Don’t you dare ever repeat those words to Mo Yuan because I’ll deny them to my dying day!”
The Fox Emperor continued with his lecture, “Ye Hua, worry about yourself! Your happiness and needs, not others! Everything about you is perfect except when it comes to Qian Qian, you turn into a dope! Don’t you dare go near the lotus pond! Ye Hua, go home!”
Many tens of thousands of years ago, Ye Hua began calling The Fox Emperor his ‘father-in-law’ as a sign of respect since he was A-Li’s grandfather. Ye Hua could still hear his father-in-law’s furious language, cursing and profanities. But it brought a smile to his face because he knew Bai Zhi’s affections and concerns for him were sincere. Ye Hua did actually what the Fox Emperor instructed him not to do. He went to her and she was already by the lotus pond.
In the close distance, he saw a speck of bold color which was she and walked towards her. Every single footstep to the fragrant Qingqiu lotus fishpond felt heavy, and every move towards her became even more cumbersome. Difficult. However, there was something entirely magical about Qian Qian.
Whatever reservations, hesitations or uncertainties Ye Hua had, vanished the very moment. The very instant she came within his sight, he wanted to run and sprint towards her. It was always like that for him, perpetually and history was reoccurring, repeating itself. It remained a real mystery how he somehow fell in love with Qian Qian again frequently and continuously.
She was unconditionally stunning and stood in wait beside the lotus pond, dressed in a gown of bright pink that made her perfectly luminous skin glow even more. All the sudden, all and every one of Ye Hua’s skepticism, doubts disappear and he knew he would do anything and everything for her always.
He moved closer towards her and saw her repeatedly lean over slightly, straighten back up then her eyes carefully followed a particular pathway. The nearer he approached Ye Hua realized, she was tossing flat stones into the calm surface of the water causing them to bounce effortlessly.
The little flying rock smoothly skimmed the watery top five times like a bouncing ball. Qian Qian beamed as she spun around towards Ye Hua with an expression of pride and bragged.
“My top record is seven times! I’m the best out of all my brothers! Ye Hua, how many times can you make a rock skip in water? Give it a try. I bet you money you can’t even make it bounce twice!” Qian Qian opened her small left palm and revealed a mixture of several more small flat surfaced rocks.
She carefully picked one out, handed it to him and advised, “It’s all in the wrist.” Qian Qian demonstrated the subtle flick of her wrist and teased playfully, “Let’s see how well the Heavenly Lord of Nine Heavens holds up against the Queen of Qingqiu!”
Ye Hua quickly glanced at the stone and haphazardly tossed the rock. It immediately plopped down into the water without a single skip.
Giggling Qian Qian pointed her index finger to where his rock sunk and openly laughed at him, “Bwahahaha! You suck! Ye Hua, haven’t you ever played this game before?”
She handed Ye Hua another stone and said, “Try again but this time, instead of tossing the stone, flick your wrist like this.”
Qian Qian showed him her hand’s subtle movement again. She took a few steps back, casually placed her hands on her hips and waited as Ye Hua awkwardly threw the rock. Identical to the first time, it sunk without a single jump. She practically folded over in hysterics and held onto her stomach. His utter failure had her in absolute stitches.
Ye Hua studied her reaction intently and realized he’d never heard her laughter, nor did he know she enjoyed making rocks skim. In all honesty, he didn’t know the real her at all. Not even in the slightest.
Ye Hua met, knew and married SuSu, the mortal. He understood Bai Qian after her heavenly trial, but never had he experienced the joy and delight of identifying the woman she was without the sorrow, resentment and pain.
Squatting down looking for more flat rocks, Qian Qian offhandedly commented, “I bet all your friends must have allowed you to win when you played with them in Celestial Heaven.”
“I’ve never done this before. I’ve never hurled rocks into a pond.” Ye Hua explained as he blushed shyly at his lack of ability.
In a total surprise, Qian Qian’s eyes widened as she asked, “Well then, what did you do with your friends? Play games? Puzzles?”
Ye Hua’s voice which was already soft, even fainter as he confessed, “I didn’t have any friends and I never played. I studied all the time and that’s my only skill.”
The expression of authentic compassion came to her face and she chirped, “Well, Ye Hua, I’m your friend now so I’ll teach you like the expert I am!”
Intentionally she moved behind Ye Hua. She wrapped her slender right arm around his waist and guided his left hand with hers. Qian Qian pushed up on the backside of his body with the front of hers.
Qian Qian commanded in her bossy tone of voice, “Put your right foot out forward a little bit more and center your stance. Now try to relax your entire body and wrist as if you were a puppet on a string.”
For Qian Qian, touching him and their natural skin ship was relaxed, comfortable and pleasant but for Ye Hua, the reaction was quite contrary. The sensation of her frame against his instantly brought heat and arousal to his body. The scent of her alone was enough to drive him insane. His breath quickened, his body shook and his hands trembled openly.
Curiously she gawked at their attached hands and teased, “Ye Hua, why are you shaking so severely? If I didn’t know any better, I’d wonder if you were a virgin! Now relax, loosen up and allow your body to become one with mine.”
Outwards Qian Qian flicked their joined hands and the small pebble skimmed the surface three times. Proudly she boasted and clapped, “See, what did I tell you?! It’s all in the wrist!”
Ye Hua glanced back over his shoulder in wonder, saw her luminous smile and once again recognized that he never knew Qian Qian at all, but remembered why he was there. Suddenly thrusting a small box into her hand, he gave her a pair of beautiful copper mirror-like earrings.
Qian Qian saw the simple but elegant earrings, immediately tried to return them to Ye Hua and answered, “Thank you, but you shouldn’t have brought me a gift because I don’t have one for you.”
Ye Hua pulled the earrings out of the box, placed them into her palm and spoke, “It’s not a gift. Qian Qian, it’s more of a secret form of communication between us. Have you ever heard of or are you familiar with the play Cyrano de Bergerac written by Edmond Rostand?”
Her face went blank. She looked unaware and nodded her head ‘no’.
“Just put them on and listen for my voice.” Ye Hua ordered as he marched away to a far distance and whispered into a tiny copper mirror from his side, “Can you hear me?”
Qian Qian’s eyes flew open in delight and shock, nodded her head ‘yes’ excitedly and yelled, “Yes, Ye Hua! I can hear you loud and clear as if you were standing right beside me!”
Ye Hua returned to her side and explained, “I’ll be able to listen to you from any distance and you’ll be able to hear me but Mo Yuan won’t know. So when you get stuck on a topic of conversation and feel intimated or flustered, I’ll coach you through it. All you have to do is repeat after me and you’ll sound…how did you put it again? You’ll sound refined and educated.”
Qian Qian jumped up and down while clapping wildly. She excitedly exclaimed, “Ye Hua, you’re a genius! If your plan works, I’ll name my first born after you!”
There was once a time when he believed Qian Qian was the master, leader of disguise and pantomime. Ye Hua never understood how she could conceal her emotions and mask her pain, but now the master was him. It wasn’t something he endeavored for but it just happened, and it was astonishing how readily he could smile, laugh and grin when he truly wanted to sob and cry. His soul felt dark and full of grief.
However, he repeated a silent mantra to himself.
‘If you love someone, set them free. If they come back, they’re yours but if not, they were never meant to be.’
Over and over he repeated to himself and with those words, Ye Hua set his Qian Qian free.
To be continued…