The Starry Sky, The Starry Sea — Chapter 5 (Part 3)

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Chapter 5: The Feeling of Liking Someone (Part 3)

Two weeks later, the renovations were completed as scheduled. In addition to the TV, tables and chairs and repairs made to some parts that were wearing off, a total of approximately 47 thousand yuan was spent.

The expenses were painful to bear, but I was very satisfied with the renovated house. The sockets that were loose and falling apart, the shower that was already old have all been completely replaced with new ones. The cabinets in the kitchen that were broken, have all been fixed. The entire house feels more comfortable than in the past.

After two weeks of rest, the injuries on my leg have mostly recovered and I could walk normally. The wounds on my arm have also healed. The doctor said I still couldn’t do work, but it was fine to come in contact with water. All I needed was to put on gloves and be careful in the shower.

I finally got rid of being in the ‘disabled’ category who is unable to take care of herself. I very excitedly instructed Wu Julan to carefully decorate two guestrooms that were filled with warmth and comfort.

After decorating the rooms, I called Jiang Yisheng over so that he could take a picture of the rooms from every angle – the comfortable bed, the brand new bathroom, grandpa’s collection of conches and corals, the flowers in the courtyard… After I have edited the pictures and paired them with a suitable caption, I published them on all travel pages on the internet.

I also printed some flyers and dragged both Wu Julan and Jiang Yisheng to paste them at the harbour… After all these tasks were gradually completed, besides the fact that my arm wasn’t suited for working, everything else, such as eating and washing up, has returned back to normal. 

On a bright and sunny morning, Wang Tianlin and Jiang Yisheng, along with Wu Julan, hung up the inn’s signboard that was made during the renovation. The dark-brown colour background with white coloured words, when I saw the words ‘The Conch Inn’ firmly hung under the frame of the main door, I personally lit firecrackers.

‘Pitter patter’, in the midst of the crackling sounds of the firecrackers, Wang Tianlin, Jiang Yisheng, and the neighbours who were here to join in the crowd loudly celebrated, “Congratulations on the opening!”, “May the business prosper!”

Even though there were many hiccups, my inn finally opened its business officially. I smiled and said, “Thank you” as my vision subconsciously searched for the person who had helped me walk through this path.

Wu Julan was standing a distance away, at the outside. He wore a polite smile as watched silently; he looked completely out of place amongst the lively atmosphere. I trotted over next to him tip-toed and moved up next to his ear and said loudly, “Thank you!”

Wu Julan stared at my bright and smiley face.

I tilted my head and provoked mischievously – I teased you, what can you do?

Wu Julan didn’t bother reacting to my little tricks. He reached out his hand and carefully removed the pieces of red-coloured firecrackers that were caught in my hair. We stood very close to each other and with his actions, I could clearly feel the warmth of his fingertips and the scent coming from his body. My heart fluttered and the smile froze on my face, I was no longer as complacent as I was earlier.

Wu Julan looked at my idiotic behaviour and laughed, “What are you staring at? Are you done with your work?”

His smile this time was different from the smile he showed out of politeness earlier. This made me startled a little, then I recomposed myself and replied, “I… I was thinking about some stuff. I-it’s related to operating the inn,” I very sternly added strength to my tone. After I said my words, I immediately turned around and walked towards the neighbours, as if I was trying to escape away.

I thought in frustration, I clearly knew he was like a lion, why did I even tease him? In the end, not only did I fail to tease him, I was teased by him.

Although I had mental preparations that customers wouldn’t stream in so soon, humans always harbour unrealistic expectations. I have been waiting next to the phone, hoping that some wise customer would select my ‘Conch Inn’.

Jiang Yisheng mocked me, “Don’t be obsessed over money. You’ve only opened for two days, how could it be so soon…”

The phone suddenly rang. I was astonished in disbelief and quickly picked up the call, “Hello, this is The Conch Inn!”

A few minutes later, I hung up the call excitedly and patted on the notebook in protest at Jiang Yisheng, “My shop’s about to welcome its first customer. And they have booked for a month.”

Jiang Yisheng snatched the notebook over, “Booked by Miss Hu, for a month.” He raised his eyebrow, “What kind of dirty luck is this?”

I scoffed, “Shoo! They’re not here for sight-seeing but instead, they wish to stay in Haidao for some time. They caught interest in our inn that is very family-like, has a heart-warming decor and quiet ambience.”

Jiang Yisheng smiled happily, “Anyway, congratulations on your grand opening.”

Wu Julan and I cleaned all the rooms so that they are speckless as we wait to welcome The Conch Inn’s very first customer.

I told Miss Hu that the inn was located on the last street, which was an old street filled with a local atmosphere. But because cars couldn’t go through, it would be a little inconvenient. However, we could pick up the customer at the harbour and help carry the luggage and other belongings so the customer didn’t have to worry. But Miss Hu rejected and said that she could manage.

In the evening, a few knocks on the door rang and the door at the courtyard that was closed was gently pushed open. I composed myself, wore a polite smile and brisk-walked over. Just when I was about to say ‘Welcome’, I saw Zhou Buwen carrying his luggage and walking into the courtyard.

I asked in surprise, “Why… are you here?”

Zhou Buwen chuckled, “I’m here to stay at the inn. I’ve already booked.”

“Miss Hu booked your room?”

Zhou Buwen smiled, “She’s my assistant.”

My heart felt a little weird but I couldn’t possibly leave Zhou Buwen standing in the courtyard, “Come on in!”

Zhou Buwen examined my expression, “Are you upset? Is it because you think that I’ve lied to you?”

“No. I really thought there was a customer who had caught interest in my inn, and didn’t think it was you. So I somewhat feel that my happiness was in vain. It’s not because I don’t welcome you here.”

“Am I not a customer? An inn like yours is supposed to build its reputation through word of mouth. After I am comfortable here, I’ll share my experience with my friends on WeChat and perhaps one of them will become your next customer.”

I smiled, “Alright. I’ll make sure your stay is comfortable. But don’t you need to work? Why did you book for a month?”

“I was a little tired and wanted to give myself a break. Going for a vacation can also be tiring. Over here, I don’t need to worry about anything and have a proper rest.”

I examined him and noticed that he indeed looked a little lethargic, there were faint dark circles under his eyes which clearly showed that he hasn’t got proper rest in a while – perhaps his stress came from work or from his family. I didn’t probe further, “Which room do you want to stay in?”

Zhou Buwen looked at the two guestrooms and said with a sigh, “The change is huge. I remember there wasn’t a toilet on the second level when I was young. Are you still living in the same room?”

“Yeah, I am.”

Zhou Buwen pointed at the room at the end of the corridor, “How about that? I remember grandpa used to live in that room, right?”

“Yes, but grandpa moved to the first level afterwards. We added a bed in the study room so it became both a study room and a bedroom.”

Zhou Buwen pondered for a while and asked, “Is the room below meant for guests?”

“We didn’t renovate the study room because it was still comfortable to stay in. But no matter how much cleaning we do, things that are old will still appear dirty, it’s not very suitable for guests to stay. So I let Wu Julan stay in it.”

Zhou Buwen said in surprise, “I thought you wouldn’t bear to let anyone stay in that room!”

“Indeed I wouldn’t bear to let outsiders stay in that room. But the house is only this big and letting guests stay in the study room is definitely not a good idea so I could only let Wu Julan stay in it and empty the remaining three rooms upstairs for the guests. Wu Julan…” I paused and continued, “is my cousin so he’s not considered an outsider.”

Zhou Buwen said, “I’ve never heard you mention your cousin. I thought you weren’t close with your maternal relatives. I didn’t expect you’re still quite close with them.

I stayed silent. I didn’t think about this either. When Wu Julan asked me where he should be staying after the renovation, I actually let him stay in the study room without any hesitation.

Zhou Buwen looked at the two guestrooms and said in hesitance, “Both rooms are well decorated but a little small. Can I stay in the large suite that grandpa used to live in?”

I smiled and said, “Of course you can. But we only renovated the toilet in that room, the floor and walls were untouched, so it doesn’t look as new as these two guestrooms.”

I opened the door and led Zhou Buwen to look around. Zhou Buwen said, “I like it. It’s not new, but it feels like home.”

“As long as you like it. You should unpack your luggage and take a break. After that, you can come over for dinner.”

I closed the door for Zhou Buwen and slowly went down.

As I passed by the study room, I subconsciously stopped in my steps. Zhou Buwen’s words ‘I didn’t expect that you’re still quite close with them’ rang next to my ears.

When I made the decision initially, I didn’t even hesitate for a moment, but believed that this was a logical arrangement made for the inn’s business. But today, Zhou Buwen’s words reminded me that my actions couldn’t be justified with ‘for the inn’s business’. Perhaps for those who understand me, I could never let out this room for anyone to stay in. Even in the situation where someone needs to stay in it, I would be the one moving in and freeing up my room. Yet I could so easily, without any hesitation, allow Wu Julan to stay in it. No wonder Jiang Yisheng gave me that astonished gaze when he learnt that Wu Julan was staying in the study room.

T/N: hmm just wondering if we should release Starry as a full chapter instead of in parts subsequently since the interval for this novel is just as long as our TL-edit speed… thoughts?

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