Arrival of a Surprise

Wen Le’s article catapulted her to fame overnight. A few days later, she released another piece, once again showcasing the depth of her writing skills, her eloquent style, and her remarkable ability to drive sales. Her words always seemed to possess a unique charm, making everything she wrote about irresistibly attractive. No reader could resist the urge to experience the wonders she described. Seeing her ability to influence sales, businesses flooded her with promotional offers.

However, this blogger didn’t accept a single commercial proposal and seemed to vanish, as if she had retreated into seclusion. It’s rare for someone to ignore lucrative advertising opportunities, leading to jokes that “Wen Yin” must be a writer who, after publishing an article, retreated back into the mountains, disconnecting from the internet and the world, explaining why no one could find any information about her online.

In reality, Wen Le did retreat into the mountains, not completely cutting off contact with the outside world, but nearly so. During the summer vacation, she spent two months immersed in the mountains. After her articles went viral, many contacted her hoping for promotional support, but Wen Le showed little interest in these commercial offers. She believed that good writing depended not only on literary skill and her grandfather’s advice but also on fleeting, crucial inspiration.

Wen Le’s heart-touching articles were the result of genuine emotion stirred by the landscapes and culture of ShanZe County and Lin County, areas she had thoroughly explored and lived in, infusing her writing with deep feeling, resulting in its stunning impact.

Given a choice, Wen Le would still prefer similar projects. Among the many messages she received, one in particular caught her attention. It was from a “college student sent to the countryside” in Pei County, a poor area in the western part of the country. The message described how local villagers, with limited income and few livelihood options, cultivated a type of honey mandarin that was large, thin-skinned, juicy, and sweet—flavor-wise, on par with the well-known honey mandarins and ugly mandarins but less visually appealing and not as famous. With the region producing a high volume of various mandarins, the prices were suppressed by middlemen, making it hard for villagers to earn a fair price.

The student had seen Wen Le’s successful promotions for ShanZe County and Lin County’s agricultural products, opening up new markets for them, and reached out with the hope that she would do the same for Pei County’s mandarins.

Curious, Wen Le researched Pei County online but found little information beyond its status as a poor area in the West. Among the many proposals, this was the one that intrigued her. After exchanging contact information and several discussions, she formulated a plan. Less than a month into her vacation, Wen Le, along with her personal assistant Sister Li and Xiao Yang, flew to Pei County.

Surrounded by mountains, Pei County’s terrain was complex, and Wen Le realised that the difficulty in selling the honey mandarins at a good price was also due to this challenging geography and transportation issues.

During her stay in Pei County, Wen Le, along with her assistant Sister Li and Xiao Yang, treated it as a vacation, spending over half a month getting to know the local customs and culture through Yu Yang, the college graduate who had first reached out to her. Yu Yang had only graduated from college not long before and had started working in Heng Village in Pei County. He was only about 24, just a few years older than Wen Le.

Yu Yang was shocked and speechless for a long time when he first met Wen Le. He had requested help from Wen Le, having been moved by the articles written by the blogger known as “Wen Yin”. In Yu Yang’s mind, Wen Yin was supposed to be a knowledgeable, low-profile writer in her forties, who preferred to live in seclusion. However, Yu Yang was completely taken aback to find that Wen Yin was actually a younger woman who had not even graduated from college yet – and to top it off, she was incredibly attractive.

Upon their first meeting, Wen Le was dressed casually in a white T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers, her long hair tied back in a ponytail, with two people who looked like assistants shielding her with umbrellas. Yu Yang was initially puzzled, wondering if a celebrity had come to their area to film a reality show. It wasn’t until Wen Le approached him with her assistants and asked if he was Yu Yang that he realised who she was. 

It took him a moment to awkwardly shake her hand and accept that the young woman standing before him was the deeply insightful author he admired online.

She stretched her hand out, “Nice to meet you, I am Wen Yin.”

Yu Yang was so surprised that he even asked, “You’re really… Wen Yin?” 

Wen Le nodded, “I don’t look like it?”

“I had imagined you to be at least forty years old…”, Yu Yang admitted.

Wen Le’s radiant smile in response to his admission struck Yu Yang profoundly, making him realise she was the epitome of someone who could rely on her looks but chose to excel through talent instead.

During her half-month stay in Pei County, Wen Le had little contact with Zhou Kao, who seemed to be busy with his own matters, only mentioning he wanted to surprise her before she left for Pei County. Caught up in her work, Wen Le had almost forgotten about it.

One day, Wen Le and her assistant Sister Li  went to the mountains to gather inspiration. Sister Li was there to take photos while Xiao Yang was in town buying supplies. The mountains, lush with vegetation in the peak of summer, presented a beautiful landscape. The landlord had mentioned a stream that flowed over a cliff to form a small waterfall with sweet water below, clear enough to see fish and surrounded by white flowers along the bank – a picturesque scene.

After taking some landscape photos and having Sister Li capture her silhouette against the natural backdrop, Wen Le noticed a stain on Sister Li’s pants.

She quietly reminded her, “Sister Li, I think…your period’s here.” 

Sister Li, somewhat embarrassed, covered the spot with her hands, “The change in environment might have caused my cycle to become irregular. I hadn’t even noticed it.”

Wen Le removed her jacket and tied it around Sister Li’s waist, saying, “Sister Li, you should head back first. The landlord auntie is here, I’ll stay a bit longer and then return.”

Sister Li seemed worried, “Can you manage alone?”

Wen Le chuckled, “It’s no trouble at all. I grew up in the mountains, and besides, my years of practising Taekwondo and Sanda weren’t for nothing.”

Reassured, Sister Li finally felt at ease and, after reminding Wen Le to be careful, headed down the mountain.

Wen Le truly wasn’t afraid. Having lived here for almost half a month, she had familiarised herself with the terrain. The villagers on the mountain knew she was there to help with buying oranges, so they were quite friendly towards her. Plus, with the landlord auntie not far away, Wen Le wasn’t alone and had nothing to fear.

The scenery here was breathtaking. Wen Le took several photos with her camera, planning to select some to accompany her articles when she published them.

Suddenly, she caught a glimpse of something furry dashing by, which filled her with excitement. She had heard from the villagers that there might be foxes or other small animals on the mountain. Unfortunately, she hadn’t seen it clearly and didn’t know exactly what it was.

Curiosity piqued, Wen Le headed towards the spot where she’d seen the fleeting shadow.

After taking a few steps, she heard a noise from another direction. Quickly turning around, she saw a chubby wild rabbit dart into the bushes.

The sudden movement made Wen Le lose her footing. She stepped on a fist-sized rock, twisted her ankle, and lost her balance, tumbling down in one direction.

She landed awkwardly, scraping her palms on the ground and twisting her ankle, causing intense pain.

Wen Le gasped, shook the mud off her hands, and after waiting for the pain in her ankle to subside, tried to stand up.

Thankfully, she could still walk, albeit with a limp. But the thought of having to walk such a long way back was daunting.

Sitting on the ground, Wen Le took out her phone to call Xiao Yang, but the signal was poor, and she couldn’t get through.

She tried calling Sister Li next, with no success.

Sighing, Wen Le thought to herself, When it rains, it pours.

Unable to contact anyone, she decided to soak her twisted ankle in the cool stream water as a form of cold compress, sent text messages to both, and then sat there, fiddling with her camera and occasionally trying to make a call, hoping for rescue.

Checking her phone’s battery, Wen Le thought if no one answered in the next half hour, she’d have to make her way back on her own.

“Wen Le!”

She jumped, startled by the familiar voice. Was she hallucinating?

Doubting herself, she heard the name again, “Wen Le!”

Wen Le’s eyes widened in disbelief as she turned to look behind her.

There stood Zhou Kao, his tall figure casting a shadow over her, looking down at her from a height.

Wen Le was thrilled. “Zhou Kao?” she exclaimed. “How did you get here?”

Zhou Kao squatted down, moved closer, and Wen Le, overwhelmed with joy, threw herself into his arms, her delight apparent.

Zhou Kao hugged her back and kissed her on the side of her head, his voice almost a sigh, “I miss you so much.”

Wen Le nuzzled into the crook of Zhou Kao’s neck, feeling a tender sweetness inside, “I miss you too.”

Zhou Kao kissed her ear and temple, his hot breath on her face causing Wen Le’s cheeks to quickly blush.

His kisses trailed down her cheek to her lips, nibbling gently at first, then deeply kissing her.

After the kiss, they both tried to catch their breath, yet their gaze remained locked on each other.

Wen Le stroked Zhou Kao’s neck, her eyes sparkling with stars, a smile playing on her lips, “Is this the surprise you mentioned?”

Zhou Kao, smiling, tapped on Wen Le’s nose, “Isn’t it a surprise?”

Wen Le kissed the corner of Zhou Kao’s mouth, “It is, you’re the biggest surprise.”

Zhou Kao laughed softly, his nose brushing against hers, “Since you’re so sweet, I’ll tell you, there’s another surprise.”

Wen Le kissed him again, “What surprise? Can you tell me, please?”

Zhou Kao refused, “It wouldn’t be fun if I told you now.”

Noticing Wen Le’s foot soaking in the water, he asked, “Does your foot feel cold in the water?”

Wen Le glanced at her foot, “I twisted my ankle.”

Hearing this, Zhou Kao raised an eyebrow and pulled her leg onto his lap to examine the injury, noting the swelling around Wen Le’s ankle.

“Your ankle seems to attract trouble,” he commented.

Wen Le shrugged, “Why does it feel like every time I twist my ankle, you’re there?”

Zhou Kao tapped her head lightly, “You should say, ‘Luckily, every time I twist my ankle, my boyfriend is by my side.'”

Wen Le rolled her eyes at him.

Zhou Kao put her socks and shoes back on and then carried Wen Le on his back, making their way down the mountain.

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