Chapter 64: Hera?
“Let’s go!” Zhou Qianlin had become a natural sitting on the back seat of the bicycle. Lan Jue pushed the bike forward off the tip of his toes.
Lan Jue was garbed in simple attire; blue jeans, white leisure shoes and a white shirt. Simple and stylish.
Sitting behind him, Zhou Qianlin asked, “How long have you been waiting?”
“Only a little bit,” he replied.
“When’s your second class?”
“Actually there won’t be a second class for a little while,” Lan Jue said. “I was actually just going to tell you, I’m afraid I’m going to have to play hookie for a little while.”
“Huh?” Zhou Qianlin shot a confused gaze at his back.
He continued. “There’s a matter I have to deal with. I was just at the teaching affairs office asking for leave.”
For a moment she was speechless, but eventually found her voice. “You have one class, then ask for leave? Aren’t you afraid the school will dismiss you?”
Lan Jue smiled bitterly at the road before him. “They wouldn’t go so far as to dismiss me. But the Dean Wu’s face certainly wasn’t pretty.”
Zhou Qianlin chuckled. “Director Wu’s face is usually like that. But if you’re just going to leave like that what about your bodyguard responsibilities?”
“This is also something I wanted to ask you about. What do you think? This is a very important matter, something I have to handle in person. I have to head out to another planet so it’ll be a while.”
A tremor of anxiety thrilled through Zhou Qianlin’s eyes. “How long?”
“If there aren’t any troubles, about a month,” he said.
Zhou Qianlin fell silent.
Lan Jue didn’t speak either, and the atmosphere became somber.
“I’m sorry! I really am a person of my word, but I really do have something that I must deal with. We’ll just add the time to my service. However long I’m gone, we’ll add that much time. And I’ll find someone else to look after you during this time. You definitely wont be in any danger.”
Zhou Qianlin shook her head. “I don’t need anyone else to look after me. We’ll just postpone the time.”
“Hey, since when did you become so pliable?” Lan Jue was quite surprised at the change.
She huffed at him. “I’m not in the mood to haggle with you. But I need your guarantee, whatever you’re doing can’t interfere with your teaching qualifications. Otherwise doing your job is going to become much harder.”
“Not a problem,” he said without hesitation.
With the atmosphere once more light-hearted they continued, but a touch of anxiety still lingered in Zhou Qianlin’s beautiful jade-green eyes. On the occasions her eyes landed upon Lan Jue, their depths grew even more complicated.
It didn’t matter how strong Lan Jue’s genetic talent was, he couldn’t see the changes in those beautiful eyes.
The trip to Skyfire Avenue from the school wasn’t a short one. The sky had already grown dark by the time they arrived.
Lan Jue dismounted the bike just outside of the Avenue. Even though the bike was man-powered, it was stilled considered machinery and thus was banned from use in Skyfire Avenue. But it could be pushed in, since it was – after all – an antique.
As a councilman, he also had the authority to bring ‘normal’ people in without incident.
Passing along the brick-lined, elegant simplicity of the Avenue caused Zhou Qianlin to swing her eyes every which way in curiosity.
“They’re beautiful.” She couldn’t help the tones of amazement in her voice.
Lan Jue’s face betrayed a small smile. “The pride of Skyfire Avenue.”
“It’s deserved. What are we eating tonight?”
“First we’ve got to change clothes,” Lan Jue said.
She stopped in her tracks and turned to face him, wide-eyed. “You really prepared clothes for me?”
“That’s how reliable I am!”
Zhou Qianlin snorted a sarcastic laugh. “You’re such a sweetheart.”
“If you’d give me back those clothes I lent you that night, it’d be even better,” Lan Jue probed.
Zhou Qianlin raised her pretty brows. “Those are my sisters, not yours! Can you wear them? If you can fit then I’ll give it back.”
Lan Jue’s mouth curled in to a frown. “Forget I said anything…”
The whole of Skyfire Avenue stretched two thousand and eighty meters. It wasn’t long before the sapphire door of Zeus’ Jewelry Shop appeared before them.
“Compared to the other places, your shop is hideous.” Zhou Qianlin sneered at the door.
“Just missing a little of that rustic charm,” he said helplessly.
Ding ding ding! The bells above the door heralded their entrance.
“Hello and welco-” came Ke’er’s fair voice in greeting, though the final word caught in her throat as her eyes fell upon them. They grew large in disbelief.
“What is it, Ke’er?” Xiuxiu stopped tidying to look up at the sound of Ke’er’s strange voice. In an instant she, too, was as stupefied as her co-worker. For a moment her pretty face looked like she had a stroke. She looked almost frightened.
“H-hera?” Ke’er and Xiuxiu called out, almost on top of one another. Their disbelief was so strong that they feared even speaking her name might make her disappear.
Lan Jue and Zhou Qianlin stood shoulder to shoulder. His voice raised slightly as he spoke. “Finally it isn’t just me who thinks that. Let me introduce you, this is Zhou Qianlin. Hera’s little sister. They’re just very similar. Qianlin, these two are my work partners, Xiuxiu and Ke’er.”
Zhou Qianlin gave them both a shy smile. “Hello.”
The two women still hadn’t totally recovered. They exchanged glances, still unsure of what stood before them.
“You.. you really aren’t Hera?” Ke’er asked.
Zhou Qianlin gave a small laugh. “I’m Zhou Qianlin. A student at National Eastern University.”
Ke’er pat her chest. When she spoke a tinge of fear still lingered. “Oh that scared me! I was going to say, how could Hera survive standing on an exploding planet!”
“Ke’er!” Xiuxiu caught Lan Jue’s dark expression, hurrying to shut her up.
Ke’er instantly became aware of her mistake, wincing and sticking out her tongue in embarrassment. “Hi, miss Zhou, please come in.”
Lan Jue huffed a small sigh and helplessly shook his head. “Xiuxiu, please bring miss Zhou to the back. I’ve already prepared some clothes for her. Please have her change. I’ve invited her to eat at the Gourmet’s tonight.”
“Right away.” Xiuxiu dropped her head respectfully, motioning for Zhou Qianlin to follow.
Zhou Qianlin followed on her heels. Watching her leave, Ke’er then quickly jumped to Lan Jue’s side. She put on her gossip voice. “Boss! Miss Zhou really isn’t Hera? She’s really her sister?”
Lan Jue forced a smile. “What do you think? If she were Hera, I’d be happier than anyone. Unfortunately that’s not the case.”
Ke’er leaned in, speaking cryptically. “You’ve been so different lately boss. You’ve been in a better mood. It’s because of her, isn’t it?”
“Eh?” Lan Jue’s eye’s narrowed at her.