The two families agreed to meet for dinner at night, but Baobei was dragged out of bed by her mother at eight in the morning. She was grumpy from being awoken, and her little universe exploded. She leaned on her mother and bawled for a while. If this was how she treated her mother, imagine if Xia Tian was the one waking her up; she would have maimed him.
Sleeping in was a basic form of respect for the Labour Day holiday! The child had already made up her mind a few days ago that she would be a sleeping god on Labour Day!
She washed up half-asleep, and at the breakfast table, everyone except Xia Tian was around. Oh, ever since the son and daughter from the Xia family went to university, it was rare to see traces of a youth during breakfast.
“Where’s Xia Tian?” Baobei was sipping her milk.
“He played games till late last night, so he’s still asleep,” Mother Xia replied.
Baobei pouted, feeling unfairly treated. “Dad, let Xia Tian be my driver!”
“Ok.” Xia Wenjin nodded unconditionally. After what happened the day before, he felt that he should be closer to his daughter, and this form of closeness was unreservedly built on Xia Tian’s pain.
“Nonsense! Driving when tired is too dangerous.” Grandmother Xia was traditional, hence she was naturally concerned about her only grandson.
“Then let him accompany me the whole way.” Baobei didn’t care.
Hence, thirty minutes later, Xia Tian bit into a piece of toast and dragged his body towards the passenger seat. This brat was forced out of the door by his father with a roll of newspapers. His hair was a messy nest, dark shadows were under his eyes, and he wore a set of sports attire.
“Xia Tian! Xia Tian! You’d better help me choose my outfits properly later!” Baobei lay on the seat, smiling gleefully.
Xia Tian gritted his teeth, furiously rolling his eyes. He then put a cap and his shades on, and used the journey to the shops as a means to make up for some lost sleep.
Initially, they could ask the stylist to do this, but Mrs. Xia hadn’t brought her daughter shopping for a long time. She was itching to do so, hence she decided to take care of her daughter’s styling by herself. Perhaps it was also to show how much importance she placed on this, the shopping location chosen was the luxury goods area on the first floor of Mr. Fang’s S City’s hotel. Mrs. Xia brought Baobei to a few major labels, only to choose some gowns. It was so early in the morning, and seeing the salespeople bring out the lengthy gowns, Baobei felt as though she wanted to die. If she was to wear this to meet his parents, she’d rather not get married!
She turned around to ask Xia Tian to help, but that kid laid limply on the sofa, pretending to be a corpse.
“Mon…” After trying on four or five gowns, Baobei’s voice was slightly trembling.
Mrs Xia didn’t seem to hear Baobei, as she supported her chin on one hand, examining Baobei and thinking that something didn’t feel right.
Xia Tian finally had enough. He pulled his shades down a little, squinted a look, then slowly got up to save Baobei. “It’s so ugly.” He then put his hand on the back of Baobei’s head and pressed it down, “Mom, I saw an old lady wearing this exact dress at one of Brother Chong’s banquets.”
“Ahh? Ahhh!” Mrs Xia was finally reminded of why she felt something was wrong. The gowns in the shops were gorgeous, completely on point. However, when Baobei wore them, she looked like a child who stole an adult’s outfit, giving off a feel of someone trying to act mature. “It really doesn’t seem to suit her. Let me search again.” Then, Mrs Xia brought a group of salespeople with her to pick out more outfits.
Baobei heaved a heavy sigh of relief. She then turned around and stared at Xia Tian with stars in her eyes, “Xia Tian, you’re awesome!”
“Of course!” Xia Tian used a finger and poked at Baobei’s forehead. He then kept his shades, pulled out a packet of cigarettes and started smoking, despite the no smoking sign displayed in the shop. Just now, he wasn’t completely awake, but now, he was awake but still sleepy, so he smoked to get rid of the drowsiness.
He held his cigarette and lazily sucked in a breath, looking like a gangster. This child must surely not know how alluring he looked in his sports attire, his tall and muscular figure, smoking with his narrowed eyes.
After looking around, he shot a look at the only salesperson left with them and pointed at the corner.
The salesperson pursed her lips, looking as though she wanted to say something.
“Please bring that outfit over.” He pointed with the hand holding the cigarette.
“Mr. Xia, that outfit has already been reserved.” She replied.
He frowned. It was rare that the young master Xia saw something that he liked.
Having spent close to a year in the city, and with adequate interest, Xia Tian had tagged along with a few brothers in investing in a few businesses. These were high risk investments that brought back exponential returns, and so long as it wasn’t illegal, he dared to do what others didn’t. Fortunately, he was lucky too, and his money was rolling in. Descendants of the Eight Banners  would have to learn everything thoroughly, and become dominant in them! Xia Xiaotian had been tainted by Liu Shao and the others, and was now a cunning man too!
“Has a deposit been paid, or the person has come for the item?” When the salesperson didn’t reply, he commanded, “Just bring it here!”
“Xia Tian! How can you be so rude!” Baobei rolled her eyes at Xia Tian, then turned around and told the salesperson, “Yes, I would like to try that, please send it to the fitting room.”
They both said the same thing, but Baobei was more polite about it. Xia Tian chuckled, “You should just change your name to Polite Xia.”
The salesperson was at her wits’ end, hence she could only allow Baobei to try it on.
It was an apricot-coloured short cocktail dress with slim shoulder straps. The top was simple and fitting, and there was a large black bow at her waist. The hems of the dress were ruffled, creating a puffy effect.
As compared to that long gown that made her look old, Baobei lit everyone's gaze when she stepped out of the fitting room. Xia Tian held his cigarette butt and started pointing at a pair of nude heels that were about three inches high. 1.66m was the most ideal height for a young woman; once Baobei stood on her heels, there was an inexplicable aura around her. The nude colour complemented Baobei’s skin, and her legs appeared even longer.
“This outfit is it.” Xia Tian said decisively.
“Yes, I think it’s not bad too.” Baobei agreed. Both of them looked up at the same time at Mrs Xia on the second floor, who was still talking to the store manager. In a fit of anger, they decided to stay quiet and not inform her! How naughty!
“But…” The salesperson was still hesitating when the sound of a door opened. She turned around, and immediately went to welcome the customer, as though the customer was her rescuer.
Wow! Wasn’t this Mu Anna? She was a considerably popular celebrity. Carrying an Hermes, wearing a pair of extremely high heels, shades on her face, and her lips in blazing red lipstick, she walked in. Huh! What type of disguise was this! She was surely trying to reveal her identity!!
Mu Anna slowly removed her shades, gave Xia Tian and Baobei a once-over, then frowned at the salesperson, “Why is she wearing my clothes?”
“I’m sorry Miss Mu, I’ve already said that you reserved this.” This salesperson was clearly new to the business, since she saw celebrities as more important than rich young ladies. A classic gown would certainly require celebrities to boost publicity, but the real consumers were the rich young ladies and madams. Clearly, she didn’t understand Mother Xia and Xia Xu’s shopping history of clearing items off shelves.
Mu Anna looked at her watch then waved her hand, “I’ll give you five minutes. Settle it quickly. I still have a flight to Beijing to catch, there’s a fashion party there tonight.”
“Xia Tian, she’s so hateful.” The new shoes had cut her feet, and she wasn’t walking steadily on her heels. Baobei held Xia Tian’s arm and leaned on him.
Xia Tian put one hand into the pocket of his track pants, then supported Baobei as they walked forward to the VIP area. Standing tall, he looked down at Mu Anna and smiled. “Miss Mu, look at how nice this fits our young lady here. Is it possible for you to part with this item?”
“What insolence!” Mu Anna snorted, and didn’t even bother replying.
The siblings shared a look - hmph! A small celebrity who clearly hasn’t seen much of the world.
“You’re so short and fat, and our young lady’s figure is so much better than yours. You should just give this up.” Xia Tian continued to persuade her nicely.
Mu Anna’s image since she debuted was that of a sexy kitten; she wasn’t tall, purportedly about 1.6M, but she was curvaceous. This was the first time she was dissed by someone, so she was furious, and her face flushed from her anger.
“What an insolent person! You’re snatching others’ clothes, and still acting righteous about it!”
“Oh! Where is this accent from?” Baobei turned away. She was annoyed by these celebrities who were clearly from the Northwest, but intentionally mimicked Hong Kong or Taiwanese accents .
“This is not a discussion.” Xia Tian was still being good tempered.
“No way!” Mu Anna directly refused.
Touching his ear, Xia Tian tightened his fist and coughed lightly. Baobei immediately caught his signal and pulled out his phone from his track pants, then handed it over to him respectfully.
“Brother Huozi, are you still sleeping… There’s a party tonight… What kind of party did you organise? Why are even flirtatious moths allowed to attend… Filter your list, kick those celebrities who are not that popular. If you want to play, you should clean these people out, they are pretending to be fashionable, but their aim is really to hook up with some rich guys… Oh! You’re asking the right person now. I’ll remove some for you. The fashionable celebrities who really know how to play are in Hong Kong. Oh, and quickly call Brother Six, anyone he invites are gems… I’m hanging up… Me? I’m not going… Tonight, I’m accompanying Baobei to visit her future in-laws… Of course! Big Brother Jiang had shipped his parents over… I’ll call you again later.”
Xia Tian held Baobei on one hand, and that expression on his face when he made the call was simply like a nouveau-riche country bumpkin! Unfortunately, he was too good-looking, hence, no matter what, he didn’t look too bad. Baobei started acting too! She lay obediently in Xia Tian’s embrace, playing the role of a little lover almost perfectly.
Xia Tian pulled his hand back, and Baobei automatically took the phone and kept it for him.
“There, you don’t have to attend the party anymore. You can give it up now.” He might have sounded friendly, but he was just acting like a gangster, calling up others in front of her, demeaning her, and then once the call ended, bargained with her as though nothing had happened. Xia Tian was truly good at torturing others!
Mu Anna immediately went berserk and started causing a scene. Yet Xia Tian remained unmoved; he simply stepped aside as he protected the person in his arms, then watched the scene unfold without emotion.
The commotion was so loud that even Mrs. Xia came down to see what the commotion was about. This family was good at capturing the main points - one look and she exclaimed softly.
Xia Tian turned around, grinning as he took the credit, “Mrs. Xia, is this nice? I chose it.”
“It’s really quite nice!” Mrs. Xia pulled the young lady from Xia Tian’s embrace, then circled around her, feeling quite pleased. “This is it.”
“Mrs. Xia, your son has really good taste. This outfit is tailored personally by our designer, and there’s only one piece in Asia.” The store manager immediately replied. The manager then got another salesperson to accompany Baobei to change, while she glared fiercely at the other salesperson who was blind enough to offend them.
As compared to Xia Tian’s methods, Mrs. Xia was clearly better. She didn’t even look at Mu Anna as she then pointed at a small necklace and got the salespeople to pack it up. “Bill it to San Shao.”
“We’ve been informed yesterday. Mr. Fang had personally made a call to say that all of Mrs. and Miss Xia’s expenses will be billed to him.” The shop manager smiled patronizingly.
Mrs. Xia calmly nodded, expressing that she knew about this. After instructing the salespeople, she then walked gracefully in front of Mu Anna.
“Look, the outfit reaches my child's thigh when she wears it, and it looks just right. It’s not suitable for you though. Look, your leg is about the length of four pieces of toilet paper, if you wear this dress, it’ll reach your knees.” Mother Xia waved her hand, and the store manager immediately stepped forward. “Bring this young lady around and let her take her time picking. It’s our fault that we snatched the outfit that she liked, so her expenses today will be put on Mr. Fang’s tab.” She then looked at Mu Anna and nodded apologetically, “I’m sorry. We’ll be off first.”
Mrs. Xia was totally like a queen, and the store manager carried the clothes that had been packaged and saw them out personally. Xia Tian and Baobei cheerily followed, and when Baobei turned back, she even saw Mu Anna’s furious expression. Actually, they didn’t have any deep feud against her that would have made them embarrass her; they just couldn’t stand these people who had their noses in the air. If it was a different group of people today, this Mu lady would probably be incredibly snobbish. They weren’t showing off, but they were letting her see that it wasn’t that others weren’t high-profile enough, they were just too lazy to bully others.
The naughty boy Xia Tian held Baobei in one hand, while his other arm slung across his mother’s shoulder, totally impressed by her. “Mother, Mrs. Xia, that toilet paper height logic is truly incredible!”
The delicate baby Baobei followed behind Xia Tian, dragging his hand so that he wouldn’t walk too quickly. “Xia Tian, Xia Tian! My leg hurts! Carry me!”
“You are so troublesome!” Xia Tian pointed a finger out, “OK! I’m in a good mood today, hop on!”
The trio went for a good lunch, then majestically went to the make-up studio to get their hair and make-up done. Baobei and Mrs. Xia did a full body treatment, while Xia Tian went for a haircut, trimming his fringe and getting a braid near his right ear. Young people loved to dress up, and dared to dress up. Xia Tian was born delicate and pretty, and he looked even better after braiding his hair.
Mrs. Xia rolled her eyes at this hairstyle, but Baobei affirmed it. That child raised her thumb and said, “Xia Tian, you are so damn cool!”
The mischievous Xia Tian replied with a wink.
It was after 4PM when Mrs. Xia and Baobei had completed their hair and make-up. In the midst of waiting for them, Xia Tian returned to laying dead on the sofa.
The mother and daughter pair both put on nude make-up. Mrs. Xia’s short hair was initially in its usual style, but under Baobei’s instigation, she also braided her hair on one side of her ear, forcefully having a “mother-son hairstyle” with Xia Tian. On the other hand, Baobei’s long tresses were loosened, then tied into a bun. With the little dress, she looked exceptionally good.
They returned home after 5PM. Xia Wenjin was already changed and waiting, and at the same time, San Shao and Xia Xu were notified that they had to be there, hence they would be flying in from Beijing that afternoon.
Xia Tian ran in to change. After sleeping the entire journey, he was finally energetic.
Seeing how much importance his wife and daughter placed on tonight’s meeting, Xia Wenjin felt somewhat upset, and his expression changed.
“Daddy, Grandfather has turned dark.” Mo Beiyu hugged his father’s neck and turned around, spelling out each word as he childishly declared his discovery.
Xia Xu burst out laughing, as she stepped forward to hold Xia Wenjin’s arm. Xia Xu had been independent from young, and she didn’t spend a lot of time with her parents earlier on, hence her proactive intimacy caused Xia Wenjin to be surprised.
“Dad, look, our Baobei is so beautiful. She has really grown up now.” Her voice was gentle and soft, the usual tactic that Xia Xu used in persuasion. “The most fortunate a woman can be is when she has a father to pamper her before she gets married, and after marriage, has both her father and husband to pamper her. You should be happy that your daughter found a man who’s willing to pamper her so much. Hmmm, I think that you have to demonstrate well tonight, show Big Jiang who’s boss, and let him learn how to take care of Baobei.” She then turned around and winked at San Shou, then continued, “Shenren, you should also share your experience with Big Jiang. Let him know that if there’s anything he doesn’t know, he can ask Daddy. After all, no one understands or loves Baobei as much as our father.”
“Most definitely.” San Shao smiled lightly. It was so difficult trying to hold back his laughter.
Who didn’t like to be flattered? Xia Wenjin knew that they were helping Jiang Moxiu pave the way, but he felt somewhat better. Look, which father wouldn’t want their daughter to have a good home? It was just that he couldn’t put down the fact that a man would suddenly appear and take over the responsibility of his daughter’s happiness. There was still a need to affirm him, to flatter him. There was definitely a need to butter him up. No matter how much a man loved his woman, he still had to tell his father-in-law, “You are the one who loves her the most in this world. I’ll definitely strive to love her as much as you do!" More importantly, there was a need to let the father-in-law understand that he wasn’t here to snatch his daughter away. When his daughter marries, the son-in-law becomes another man who would jointly protect his daughter, and not another enemy. And there was a need to tell him - you’ll forever be the man that she loves the most.
“Oh? Daddy, why is grandfather not dark anymore?” Mo Beiyu said again. His childish tone and words immediately soothed the tension in the air.
“Look, he doesn’t listen to anyone but his two daughters.” Mrs. Xia lightly pushed Baobei’s waist, making her return to her room to change her shoes and bag.
It was time for them to finally set off.
 Eight Banners - the Manchurian administrative and military divisions, used in the later Jin and Qing dynasties.
 “From the Northwest” refers to people from China, while the Hong Kong and Taiwanese accents were seen as “popular” accents to have.