The next morning, at the entrance of the residential area.

“Husband, how do I look?” Mr. Yan, slumped in the back seat, yawned for the eighteenth time and weakly replied, “Beautiful… beautiful…”

Mrs. Zeng Cuicui, old yet beautiful, gazed at herself in the mirror repeatedly. Finally, she decided whether the strand of bangs falling on her forehead should be swept to the left or the right. Then she took out her lipstick from her makeup bag, pursed her lips, and inspected herself from half a meter away. Finally, she was satisfied.

“Let’s go, don’t be late,” Mrs. Yan nudged Mr. Yan with her elbow, holding the gift for their daughter-in-law. Cheerfully, she got out of the car.

Mr. Yan, who was woken up by his wife’s slap in the early morning, struggled to climb out of the back seat with all his strength. Looking at the rising sun on the eastern horizon, he felt like crying but had no tears. “I remember we were supposed to have lunch…”

“Oh, what do you know? How can you make someone wait for their daughter-in-law the first time they meet? The more gifts, the better!” Mrs. Yan nudged her husband’s arm and bid farewell to the driver. She felt every pore of her body relaxed and energized. The silk dress, steamed by the housekeeper eighteen times in the early morning, was perfectly neat, making her feel ten years younger. Even her footsteps were light and seemed ready for a dance. “Besides, I have so much to say to my daughter-in-law, whom I haven’t seen in over thirty years. When will they get engaged? Can they get married by the end of the year? Where will the wedding be held? When will they have children? How many children? Have they found a maternity nurse? Which primary school will the child attend? Middle school? High school? Will they study abroad at Harvard or Oxford? I can talk about it for three days and three nights. What’s three hours earlier?”

Mr. Yan smiled helplessly. “Our son only mentioned that they are living together now. He didn’t even say if she’s the girl who runs the KTV. Do you have to invite the daughter-in-law even?”

“I gave birth to our son. Do you think I don’t understand? The more high-profile, the less reliable. It’s precisely because of this blatantly disguised attitude that there must be a problem.” Mrs. Yan snorted at her husband and couldn’t help but smile. “I’m telling you, he’s probably afraid that we won’t approve of the girl, so he didn’t dare to ask directly. That’s why he set up this ambush. Just wait and see!”

Mr. Yan chuckled. He saw his wife carrying the carefully selected matching pair of watches and twisting her waist happily, entering the elevator of the apartment building.

At the same time, on the top floor of the apartment.

The first ray of sunlight pierced through the gap in the curtains and landed on the messy bed in the guest bedroom, as if extending a faint golden strip of light within the bedding. Jiang Ting’s eyelashes fluttered, slowly opening his eyes. After a few seconds of momentary confusion, his gaze gradually focused, and he looked down.

The familiar arm indeed crossed his waist.

He rolled over abruptly. “When did you come?”

Yan Yin, with his upper body bare outside the air-conditioned blanket, closed his eyes and smacked his lips. He reached out and forcefully pulled Jiang Ting’s head towards his chest, holding him tightly. “Sleep a little longer…”

Caught off guard, Jiang Ting’s face collided with the solid and fiery chest of the same gender, almost burying his whole face in it. He quickly struggled and tried to get out of bed. But before his feet could touch the ground, he was intercepted from behind and lifted off his feet. Yan Yin flipped over and got up, holding him from above.

The two, one on top of the other, locked eyes for a moment. Yan Yin slowly lowered his body and stopped when their noses were less than ten centimeters apart.

“You haven’t wished me a happy birthday yet.”

Jiang Ting tilted his head back, but due to the obstruction of the pillow, he couldn’t create much distance. Unbeknownst to him, this action exposed his fair neck to Yan Yin’s gaze. “… Your birthday is tomorrow.”

“I’ve been receiving birthday wishes three days in advance since I was little.”

“But you’re already grown-up, you’re already thirty—” Jiang Ting abruptly stopped speaking, his expression changing unpredictably. After a moment, he gritted his teeth and said, “Happy birthday, Yan Yin… Can’t you stop pushing me at a time like this?”

With all his proletarian might, he bravely overturned the heavy pressure of the bourgeoisie. But before he could successfully escape the evil capitalist domain, he was immediately seized, flipped over, and pressed down by reactionary forces. In a muffled and ambiguous tone, he said, “Just one push, just one push won’t make a difference… it won’t hurt.”

“It’s early in the morning, Yan Yin!”

“It’s precisely because it’s early in the morning that… Hey, I suddenly realized you didn’t react in the morning. Is something wrong with you? Let me check. Be good, don’t move, let me check!”

“You’re the one with the problem!” Jiang Ting said in a disheveled manner. “Try waking up after three years of being in a vegetative state. If you can walk and jump, that would be great!”

Yan Yin’s face didn’t change. “I’m fine. If you don’t believe me, I can prove it now. Hey, don’t move, let me push a little more. Don’t be in such a hurry to get up, come on, you…”

The enormous wooden bed couldn’t withstand the wrestling of the two, creaking and groaning. The air-conditioned blanket wrinkled into a ball, slowly sliding down under the bed, hanging over the thick light-colored wool carpet.

“Mmm…”

Jiang Ting buried his face in the pillows, his T-shirt pulled down to his shoulders, breathing heavily. Just then, the doorbell suddenly rang from the outer room—ding dong!

Yan Yin abruptly looked up.

A thunderous music came from the master bedroom, indicating that the tablet controlling the intelligent access control had activated. Yan Yin hesitated between opening the door and pretending to be absent. After three seconds, he decisively thought, “Screw it,” and reached out again to grab the hem of Jiang Ting’s T-shirt and pull it inside.

“Someone’s here, someone!” Jiang Ting struggled to block the opponent’s aggressive attacks with his elbows, panting. “Your parents are here!”

Yan Yin, like a starved wolf, trapped Jiang Ting tightly in his embrace with one arm, hoarsely saying, “Impossible. Look, it’s only nine o’clock. They won’t… "

Ding dong! Ding dong!

The doorbell persisted, ding dong!!

Yan Yin’s phone, which he brought into the guest bedroom last night, suddenly buzzed, showing no intention of giving up until answered. After a few stunned seconds, Yan Yin finally cursed in despair. He grabbed the phone from the bedside table and saw that the incoming call was from:

Mom.

“Son!” Mrs. Zeng Cuicui’s enthusiastic voice came from the other end of the phone. “We’ve arrived! Open the door!”

Ten minutes later.

The door slowly opened in the heavy, almost frozen air, revealing Yan Yin’s disheveled head and the expressionless face of someone holding a toothbrush in their mouth.

Mother and son stared at each other through the door frame for a moment. Mrs. Zeng Cuicui coldly said, “Ten minutes.”

Yan Yin spit out a mouthful of toothpaste foam.

“I’ve been waiting for the door for a full ten minutes early in the morning.” Mrs. Zeng Cuicui pointed to her watch and said slowly, “Unless you tell me you were just making babies with your daughter-in-law, otherwise, I’ll take family law action right now!”

Mr. Yan hid behind, with a face that said, “Son, I can’t help you.” Yan Yin rolled his eyes in a restrained manner. “If my son only needs ten minutes from start to finish, then you should take family law action even more.”

“…” Mrs. Zeng Cuicui suddenly had an epiphany and thought it made sense. “Very well!” She pushed Yan Yin aside with a slap, excitedly and cautiously stepped into the room. She didn’t even have time to change her high heels as she stretched her neck and looked into the entrance, her voice trembling with happiness. “Oh, my daughter-in-law, let me see my precious daughter-in-law with my own eyes… daughter-in-law?!”

In the living room, Jiang Ting, who had already brushed his teeth, washed his face, and changed into a shirt and trousers, was bending over to place a plate of fruit on the coffee table when he unexpectedly met Mrs. Yan’s loving and overflowing gaze. Both of them froze in their movements.

“…” Mrs. Yan.

“?” Jiang Ting.

“You, you are…” Mrs. Yan trembled.

“Oh, Aunt Zeng, right?” Jiang Ting placed the fruit plate down and politely nodded. “My surname is Lu. I just transferred to Jianning for work. Sorry to bother you.”

Mrs. Yan’s hand unconsciously grabbed the air for a moment, then she quickly held onto Mr. Yan, and the couple wore the same expression as if they had been struck by lightning. In the silent air, only the sound of Yan Yin spitting out toothpaste foam repeatedly could be heard.

Jiang Ting finally sensed something strange. “Yan Yin?”

Mrs. Yan turned her head in disbelief and asked, “… Son?”

—So, this is what you call living together?

You shyly came and said you were currently living with someone, asking your parents to be mentally prepared. But it turns out your idea of mental preparation is coming out of the closet?!

“Cough, cough!”

Yan Yin, with toothpaste in his mouth, faced the three pairs of eyes—his father’s, his mother’s, and Captain Jiang’s—and said vaguely, “I, uh… I’ve already told you, it’s pretty much as you know.” Then he lowered his head, rushed into the bathroom, and soon the sound of water gargling and face washing could be heard.

An indescribable atmosphere once again enveloped the living room. Even if Jiang Ting didn’t want to speculate on that matter, he could vaguely sense that something was not quite right at the moment.

But clinging to the last trace of hope that “Yan Yin is at least a deputy captain in his thirties, so he can’t be that unreliable,” he coughed casually and made a gestured invitation towards the sofa, pretending as if nothing had happened. “Uncle Yan, Aunt Zeng, would you like… some tea?”

“No need to trouble yourself, no need to trouble yourself…” Mrs. Yan then pinched her husband hard.

“No need to trouble yourself, no need to trouble yourself…”

The couple carefully bypassed the coffee table and sat on the sofa. Both of them sat upright, abnormally straight. They stared at Jiang Ting’s face intently, as if trying to see a flower blooming from his face.

Jiang Ting didn’t know what to say and had to sit across the coffee table. He instinctively crossed his legs but suddenly felt it was inappropriate, so he pretended to adjust his sitting posture and put his feet down. He neatly folded his hands on his thighs and focused his gaze on the bunch of bananas in the fruit plate.

Three minutes passed, and the living room fell into silence.

“…” Mrs. Yan probably couldn’t bear the heavy funeral-like atmosphere anymore. After thinking for a while, she mustered up the courage and reached out to grab a banana, facing Jiang Ting’s puzzled gaze. She showed a cautious, friendly, and reserved smile. “Xiao Lu, have a… have a banana.”

Jiang Ting reflexively declined, “You have it, you have it.”

“Oh, don’t be polite. You eat, you eat…”

“No, no, please, you eat…”

“Mom! He doesn’t want it!” Yan Yin, shirtless, stuck his head out from the bedroom direction. “He doesn’t eat any yellow fruits other than oranges, mangoes, and peaches! He doesn’t eat bitter gourd! He doesn’t eat eggplants! He doesn’t eat carrots! Don’t feed him randomly, his health is not good!”

The awkward air almost exploded in that instant. Jiang Ting’s only thought was to rush into the room and cover Yan Yin’s mouth or simply disappear into thin air.

“Oh, I see.” Mrs. Yan, like an aunt who did something wrong, awkwardly put down the banana, understandingly found a way out for each other. “It’s fine if you don’t eat it, it’s fine. Bananas have a high sugar content, it’s unhealthy to eat.”

Immediately, Jiang Ting responded, “Yes, exactly.”

Silence once again enveloped the small space, and everyone secretly thought: Why are we discussing the sugar content of bananas when we meet our potential daughter-in-law/Yan Yin’s parents for the first time?

“Cough, cough!” Mr. Yan cleared his throat stiffly, forcibly squeezing out a smile that he thought was amiable but was actually a bit twisted. “Xiao Lu, where are you from?”

Jiang Ting hesitated for half a second and quickly answered, “Jiangyang County.”

Mr. Yan awkwardly pointed to the bedroom. “Then how did you two meet…”

“Oh, we were classmates at the police academy.”

“You’re…?”

“Two years older than Yan Yin.”

Mr. and Mrs. Yan silently mouthed the word “Oh,” while their inner thoughts were: Doesn’t seem like it?!

Jiang Ting sincerely said, “Really, two years older.”

The couple said in unison, “Be more mature, be more mature.”

Jiang Ting: “…”

“In that case,” Mr. Yan tentatively asked, “What do your parents do?”

The couple’s gaze focused on Jiang Ting, but their inner thoughts were: It doesn’t matter what they do, the main thing is, are your parents also “mentally prepared”?!

Jiang Ting, who hardly watches TV and has no experience in meeting future in-laws, felt that the question was very strange. However, he still answered truthfully, “Both of my parents passed away when I was young. I grew up in an orphanage.”

Mr. and Mrs. Yan simultaneously mouthed the word “Oh” again.

Mr. Yan: If he is my daughter-in-law, at least we won’t have to deal with each other’s parents, that’s good, that’s good!

Mrs. Yan: If he is my daughter-in-law, at least my son won’t be at risk of getting his legs broken by the other party’s parents. It’s fortunate in unfortunate circumstances!

Jiang Ting’s gaze wandered on the faces of Mr. and Mrs. Yan, and his inner confusion was almost unbearable. Just as he couldn’t help but try to explain indirectly, Yan Yin finally finished washing his face and hair, holding a towel to dry his hair, and walked back to the living room. He casually sat next to Jiang Ting and said, “Dad! Mom!”

In an instant, three pairs of eyes pierced simultaneously, and the various meanings in their gazes collided in the air, producing sparkling sparks.

Yan Yin awkwardly covered his mouth and coughed, pretending not to see anything, then reached out and pulled the gift bag brought by his mother. “Oh, what’s this? My birthday gift?”

Mrs. Yan couldn’t stop him in time. Her debt-collector son had already inadvertently taken out the watch box—one was a birthday gift for her son, and the other was a gift for her potential daughter-in-law’s first meeting.

In front of everyone’s eyes, there was no room to maneuver. Mrs. Yan suddenly felt overwhelmed.

“This, this is…” Mrs. Yan’s trailing tone was a bit vague. “Last year, the two watches I bought happened to match, and I thought for the first meeting with my daughter-in-law… the first meeting with Xiao Lu, I didn’t have anything decent to offer, so…”

Two watches happened to match. …Happened to match.

Jiang Ting looked at the Carrera Cross logo on the wooden watch box, and his facial muscles stiffened. Such an expression was rarely seen on his face, but at this moment, he had no intention of hiding it. He blurted out, “No, wait, Aunt Zeng. There might be a misunderstanding here. Let me explain—”

“I can explain!” Yan Yin couldn’t wait to interrupt.

All eyes turned to him, and Yan Yin’s expression was extremely calm. He stomped Jiang Ting’s foot under the coffee table, motioned towards the kitchen with his mouth, and gave a determined look that said, “Leave my parents to me.”

Jiang Ting’s usually clear mind was in utter confusion, wondering what was happening. Why would your parents give us matching watches? What did you tell them?

Yan Yin nodded almost imperceptibly, meaning that you don’t need to worry about it, leave it to me!

Mr. and Mrs. Yan watched as the two of them exchanged secret glances, and finally Jiang Ting couldn’t bear it anymore. He quickly said, “I’m going to boil water and make tea,” and awkwardly fled the scene without even looking back.

As soon as he stepped into the kitchen, Mrs. Zeng, formerly known as Mrs. Yan, grabbed her son’s collar with a clenched jaw. “Yan… Yin!”

Yan Yin tightly held her hand. “Mom!”

“You tell me again, what is the relationship between the two of you?!”

“Mom, please listen to my explanation!”

Seeing the murderous expression on Mrs. Zeng’s face, if Jiang Ting wasn’t present, Deputy Chief Yan would probably have been beaten by his own mother and sent to the hospital with a belt.

“Mom, we really are together. This is pretty much it for your son’s life. You can learn more about American surrogacy agencies. 1.2 million for one child and 1.6 million for twins. If it doesn’t work, we can have triplets, and one of the children can have your surname. Didn’t my dad say that when I was young, you kept asking me to change my surname to Zeng?”

Mr. Yan, who was originally glaring at his son, immediately turned his head and focused on the floor, successfully creating an impression of someone who was just passing by.

Mrs. Zeng: “…”

Yan Yin earnestly said, “To be honest, I’ve been secretly in love with him for the past five years. I’ve had countless failed blind dates over the years, and I knew that I was destined to be with him in this lifetime. So if you two have made up your minds to break us apart, then your son can only live a solitary life, forsaking worldly affairs and not worrying about anything…”

Mrs. Yan shivered with disgust. “Speak in normal language!”

“I took the initiative, he’s shy, and we haven’t officially confirmed our relationship yet.” Yan Yin glanced sneakily toward the kitchen and lowered his voice. “So I lied to him that you knew nothing, and he thought you only considered him as my police academy classmate…”

Mrs. Yan stared at him, probably considering for the ten-thousandth time whether she should stuff this son back into her womb and give birth to him again.

“What does this Xiao Lu do exactly?!” Mrs. Yan asked in a cold and piercing tone through her teeth.

“Oh, please stop asking… He’s a criminal investigation consultant who graduated from Gongda University. He’s been a first-level police superintendent for several years. He was transferred to Jianning for work, but it’s just temporary assistance for a period of time. Why, did you think he was a criminal suspect or something?”

To Yan Yin’s surprise, Mrs. Yan’s expression didn’t relax as he had expected. Instead, it became even more serious. “Is his position higher than yours?”

Yan Yin nodded solemnly.

“… Mrs. Yan worriedly said, “You two are in a romantic relationship, right? You weren’t taken advantage of, were you?!”

Yan Yin almost burst out laughing.

“Anyway, may I ask…” Just then, Jiang Ting poked his head out of the kitchen and cautiously interjected, “Black tea or green tea?”

Mrs. Yan had already released her grip on her son’s collar at lightning speed and sat gracefully on the sofa, as if nothing had happened. “Don’t bother, we’re fine with anything!”

Jiang Ting still seemed somewhat doubtful, furrowing his brow and nodding before turning back to the kitchen.

Yan Yin adjusted his collar while complaining, “Mom, you really…”

“Let me tell you, you brat.” Mrs. Yan’s eyesight was keen and quick. Once again, she firmly grabbed Yan Yin’s collar and warned him word by word, “If you dare to sell yourself for personal gain, I will strip you of your inheritance. One hundred years later, all of your parents’ assets will be donated to charity. You’ll have to roll out of the house and survive on the northwest wind for the rest of your life…”

In the end, it was the father who was deeply concerned about his son. “Ahem, ahem!”

“Do you have any objections?!” Mrs. Yan angrily asked.

Mr. Yan surrendered. “No objections, no objections…”

“There was no taking advantage of me, Mom. Where did you get that idea?” Yan Yin said displeasedly. “Didn’t you see how gentle, considerate, and obedient your daughter-in-law was in front of me? Last night, he even made braised beef and tomato egg noodles for me.” As he spoke, he swiftly pulled out his phone and opened the album, illuminating a photo taken last night with a filter.

Mrs. Yan’s full skepticism was finally temporarily suppressed. She leaned her head against her husband’s, and together, they scrutinized the picture of the potato stewed beef on the screen.

“In any case,” Yan Yin straightened his clothes and made a concluding statement, “he can’t live without me, and I can’t live without him. We’ve reached the stage where we can discuss marriage at any time. More importantly, we’ve already been intimate. If I were to abandon him after sleeping together, he would be heartbroken and go crazy. You don’t want your son to become a scumbag who sleeps around and doesn’t take responsibility, do you? So, considering that the rice is already cooked, I hope you will give us your greatest support and blessings.”

The couple, Mr. and Mrs. Yan, exchanged glances.

Despite having some anticipation and mental preparation, it still had a significant psychological impact on Jiang Ting when the situation actually occurred.

“Uncle, Aunt,” Jiang Ting came out of the kitchen holding a tray of tea.

Yan Yin immediately clenched his teeth and made a throat-slitting gesture towards his parents. Then he turned around and walked forward, taking the heavy tea tray from Jiang Ting’s hand without saying a word, secretly conveying a look that said, “I’ve handled it.”

Taking advantage of the short moment when Yan Yin’s back was turned to the sofa, Jiang Ting lowered his voice and asked, “What’s going on exactly?”

“They misunderstood on their own, it’s no problem,” Yan Yin made an OK gesture with his hand under the tea tray. “I explained everything clearly!”

Jiang Ting nodded, feeling somewhat relieved. He thought Yan Yin’s lifelong matter must have been a concern for his parents, which was why they thought their son was going to come out… even though he had already stepped out of the closet.

“Hehe…”

“Hehehe…”

Mr. and Mrs. Yan probably never imagined that their first time drinking daughter-in-law tea would be in such a situation. The smiles on their faces were a bit distorted. Fortunately, Mrs. Zeng was not an ordinary middle-aged woman. She was someone who had seen the world of business. Although her inner emotions were turbulent and complicated, she still managed to maintain a forced smile as she asked, “I say, er… I mean Xiao Lu, can you manage to live here?”

Jiang Ting didn’t suspect anything and replied, “Ah, I can manage. Thanks to Yan Yin taking care of me.”

Mr. Yan choked on his tea leaves, forcefully swallowing them down with a stiff neck.

“It’s good that you can manage, it’s good that you can manage.” Mrs. Yan rubbed her hands and asked with concern, “Are you two getting along well in your daily lives?”

…” This question caught Jiang Ting off guard.

“It’s indeed going well.” Jiang Ting paused, emphasizing his tone and said seriously, “Although we are just old classmates from the police academy, and we haven’t seen each other for five years, our friendship has always been good.”

He’s shy, and Yan Yin used his eyes to once again emphasize this to his parents.

Mrs. Yan understood and remembered that her son had just said, “He still hasn’t decided to confirm our relationship,” so she awkwardly smiled and said, “It’s good that you get along well, it’s good that you get along well. The future is long, ah.”

Mr. Yan forcefully placed the teacup into her hand. “Drink tea, drink tea.”

Mr. and Mrs. Yan sat shoulder to shoulder on the sofa, drinking tea in unison— not the old Tongxing Pu’er tea, as Jiang Ting had already dug out the last bit, leaving only a tiny piece the size of a fingernail. Fortunately, at this moment, Mrs. Yan’s mind was filled with the white paper book on marriage law issues at home, and the contact information for major surrogacy agencies in California was flashing frantically in her mind. At this point, instead of tasting tea, she could even gulp down ** Lao Gan Ma mixed with vodka without changing her expression.

“Well,” Jiang Ting hesitated and spoke up, “I heard that to celebrate Yan Yin’s birthday, we should… have lunch together?”

He was just about to say that maybe we should go out now, otherwise the atmosphere would be too awkward, but his next words were interrupted by Yan Yin’s foot stomping him back. “That’s right, we’ll have lunch at home. Hey, didn’t you say you wanted to personally cook and show off your skills?”

Mr. and Mrs. Yan both looked up, synchronized.

Jiang Ting: “…” When did I say that?

“It’s not easy for the two elderly to come all the way here. Let’s not go outside, it’s hot and crowded. We can eat at home as family. I can assist you, filially serve our parents,” Yan Yin firmly grasped Jiang Ting’s hand. “They say a child’s birthday is the parents’ hardship. It’s meaningful for us to cook ourselves, don’t you think?”

Jiang Ting was met with the expectant and approving gazes of the couple across from him. He awkwardly pulled his hand back and said, “Actually, I don’t know how to cook…”

“It’s alright, it’s the thought that counts. The most important thing is that I can learn to cook from you and take care of our parents in the future, right?!” Yan Yin forcefully stuffed a kitchen spatula into Jiang Ting’s hand. Confusion filled Jiang Ting’s mind as his hand, accustomed to holding a police gun, now held a cooking utensil.