Chapter 51: Joining In
After Ye Jiayao got back from the restaurant last night, she was so tired that she immediately conked out as soon as her head hit the pillows. She had a good night’s sleep so she was able to easily get up early in the morning. She went out to sweep the floor, clean the tables and chairs, before going to the kitchen to prepare ingredients for the breakfast meals to help out Li Erniang.
Since her reincarnation, she had completely kicked away her habit of sleeping in. It was a problem that couldn’t be changed?in her previous life, but the worry of surviving day by day fixed it.
By the time that Li Erniang and the waiters got up to do their work, the?hall had already been swept clean of all fibers and dust, with the tiles gleaming. The tables and chairs were clean and neatly arranged, and the kitchen was already wafting out the scent of buns.
“Li Yao, you don’t have to do this. You’re a guest. How can I let you do this type of work?” the second lady gently chided.
“It was no big deal, big sister, I was already up anyway. Free time is boring.” Ye Jiayao added more firewood to the stove.
“Free time allows you to rest your mind and body. I know that working in Heavenly Residence can be exhausting,” replied Li Erniang.
Ye Jiayao laughed dismissively. “It’s nothing a deep sleep can’t fix.”
After eating breakfast, Ye Jiayao headed to the restaurant to work.
When Manager Qian saw Ye Jiayao, he smiled brightly. “Little brother Li, why have you come so early? The owner told you not to come in till later. You should go home and rest some more.”
Ye Jiayao paused, trying to make sure if she heard the tones of the manager correctly. Manager Qian had just addressed her very respectfully as if she was older than him.
Huh. What’s with the attitude change overnight?
“I wanted to come early to make a few new dishes for the shopkeeper to test. Is that alright?”
“Yes, yes, that’s great! The shopkeeper will arrive a little bit later, though.” Manager Qian suddenly gasped like he just remembered something. “Oh, little brother, I have your banknote with me. I’m afraid I’m giving you quite a small amount. The remaining 30 silvers have been distributed to the others. The kitchen help each got two silvers,?the miscellaneous staff each got 800 coppers, and the doorman and old Guan got 500 coppers.”
Manager Qian was too embarrassed to say that he also took two Liang.
“Okay, as long as you have distributed it fairly, that’s fine with me.”
Ye Jiayao took the banknote and made her way to the kitchen.
When she arrived in the kitchen, everyone started greeting her warmly.
“Good morning, big brother Yao!”
Other than the two young children at the door, the other people in Heavenly Residence were all older than her. They were all calling her ‘big brother Yao’ and she found it strange.
“It’s fine to call me Little Yao or Little Li,” said Ye Jiayao modestly.
“Everyone will address you based on your cooking. Whoever has the best cooking is the boss,” second chef Deng Haichuan said, smiling.
What Deng Haichuan really wanted to say was that anyone who could pay them was the boss. Last month, they got two and a half Liang silvers which were only enough for half a month’s wage. He had lived in Heavenly Residence for five years and it last night was the first time he encountered such luck with tips.
“That’s right, big brother Yao!” several workers agreed.
Ye Jiayao playfully said, “Please, everyone, whatever you do, don’t call me that. You’re going to make me, your magnificent little brother, an old man.”
Everyone laughed out loud, the kitchen hadn’t had such a relaxed and happy atmosphere in ages.
The laughter abruptly ended when the door swung open. Ye Jiayao turned to the door and saw Zhong Xiang walking in, his expression simultaneously cold and thunderous. He was followed by Liu Qisheng who was more or less mirroring his face.
Zhong Xiang walked straight towards her.
Ye Jiayao felt the obvious hostility and she knew where it was coming from. Zhong Qixiang had been in the restaurant longer than she had, and she knew that he felt that she has taken what was supposed to be his.
Despite the way he was acting, Ye Jiayao was relieved. An open unfriendliness was always better than?a smiling face that stabs in the back.
Zhong Xiang quietly and menacingly put the two and a half Liang silvers he was clutching down on the tabletop of the workbench by Ye Jiayao’s side. Then, he turned around, put his apron and hat on, and started to work wordlessly.
Ye Jiayao pursed her lips and put the silver away.?This guy is pretty proud, huh??
Ye Jiayao didn’t want to force the money on him so instead, she waved Deng Haichuan over. “Brother Haichuan, why is brother Xiang like this?”
Deng Haichuan said, “It’s quite obvious, brother Li. Brother Xiang has worked here for seven years, and it was only last year that he was promoted to be a first-class kitchen hand. You, on the other hand, got the first-class position as soon as you walked in the door. He’s just feeling a bit cheated, but brother Xiang is really a good person. Just let it pass, he’ll work it out soon enough.”
Ye Jiayao didn’t think so. Things like this weren’t likely to disappear on its own just by wishing it away.
“So, what dishes is brother Xiang good at making?”
“Brother Xiang’s cooking skills are quite comprehensive, but I have to say that his best work is pastries. He had no chance to display it before because Master Chef Niu had brought his own pastry chef to the restaurant. When Master Chef Niu left, the pastry chef left with him. These days the pastries are all made by brother Xiang, it’s just a pity that no one ordered desserts last night.”
Ye Jiayao smiled upon hearing Deng Haichuan defend Zhong Xiang earnestly. “That is good for him. I am not that good at making pastries so perhaps, there would be an opportunity for us to work together.”
Ye Jiayao took two Liang from her own pocket, as well as?Zhong Xiang’s two and a half Liangs, and gave it to Deng Haichuan. “After you finish work tonight, take the other brothers and get two Tan of good wine. Tell the others it was brother Xiang’s treat.
She knew that once Zhong Xiang found out about what she did, he would get angry. She wanted to explore and test if the guy was?a king attacker or simply a puffy member.
Deng Haichuan hesitated, then said, “Okay. Will you be joining us tonight?”
Ye Jiayao shook her head. “I live outside, it’s inconvenient. I will go with you all another day.”
Xia Chunyu got back at his house from his last night’s duty at the royal court. As soon as he stepped inside his house, a servant came up to him and reported, “Heir-son Lord, Prince Jing is waiting for you outside the study.”
Wasn’t he just here yesterday? How come he’s again? What does he want now?
“Little Jing,” Xia Chunyu greeted as he walked into his study.
Yesterday, as soon as Helian Jing got home,?he sent his trusted servant to go to watch the Laifu Motel. The prince was so full of excitement and giddiness he wasn’t able to sleep the whole night. In the morning, he called for his servant who reported that big Yaoyao had already?gone to Heavenly Residence to work.
Helian Jing contemplated on inviting brother Chunyu to have lunch at the restaurant. He wanted to properly thank brother Chunyu for his advice on finding big Yaoyao. He also wanted brother Chunyu to see firsthand how different and kind big Yaoyao was.
“Brother Chunyu,” Helian Jing welcomed cheerfully.
Xia Chunyu looked at him with a frown. Yesterday, Little Jing came to him looking so miserable, and now he was almost bursting out of happiness. Xia Chunyu was confused.
“What happened to make you so happy? Did you find your brother Jin Yao?” Xia Chunyu teased as he sat down while the maidservants served them tea.
“Brother Chunyu, you guessed it! I found big Yaoyao!” Helian Jing exclaimed, grinning from ear to ear.
Xia Chunyu almost spat out his tea.
“Brother Chunyu, you really know your thing. Sure enough, big Yaoyao really came to Jin Ling. I met with?Zhao Qixuan yesterday and he was holding a celebration party in Heavenly Residence for you – a party you didn’t go to, might I add. He dragged me to the party and it turns out that big Yaoyao was the restaurant’s new cook! Man, now I understand the saying ‘without coincidences, there would be no stories’!”
Xia Chunyu gritted his teeth, seething inside. Every time Helian Jing mentioned his ‘big Yaoyao’, he felt like he was being stabbed in the heart.
“That’s such a coincidence.” Xia Chunyu forced a smile.
Helian Jing said, “Brother Chunyu, we should go for lunch at Heavenly Residence. It’s my treat. This is the least I could do to thank you for all your help.”
Xia Chunyu raised a brow. “Are you trying to butter me up?”
He Lianjing chuckled. “No, no! Big Yaoyao’s dishes are delicious, I promise.”
“You should find someone else to go with. I have already promised your older brother I’d go to Fragrant Floor,” replied Xia Chunyu. If it was any other person who invited him, Chunyu would’ve declined. However, it was Helian Xuan, and he really couldn’t say no. It would also give them a chance to catch up because they haven’t really talked since they both returned to Jin Ling.
“Why would you go to Fragrant Floor? What good dishes can that old chef make? Just go to Heavenly Residence. Brother Chunyu, I promise it won’t disappoint you,” Helian Jing boasted.
“I can’t. Your brother already booked the place. Maybe next time.”
Helian Jing was very disappointed but he knew that he there was no changing brother Chunyu’s mind. He bid him goodbye and instead, went straight to the palace of Yong An, thinking that Zhao Qixuan the slacker would definitely have the time for lunch.
The servants informed him that Zhao Qixuan had swum in the lake until midnight last night and was still fast asleep.
Helian Jing didn’t care and rushed directly into Qixuan’s room to wake him up.
“Get up, get up! Let’s eat lunch!” Helian Jing flung the covers off of him and immediately looked away in embarrassment. Face red with mortification, he yelled, “How do you sleep with no clothes on?”
Zhao Qixuan was dreaming about meeting with the very beautiful little Su, so when he was startled awake he was nearly livid. Luckily, before he went on a rampage, he recognized Helian Jing. He smiled and asked, “Little Jing, what brings you here?”
Helian Jing did not dare to look at him. “Put some clothes on. I’m going outside to wait for you. Quick!”
Zhao Qixuan scowled. The only person who has seen him naked was himself. Even Little Su still hadn’t seen his good figure yet.
Zhao Qixuan put his clothes on and went out to speak with the young prince. “Little Jing, why have you come to see me so early in the morning?”
The redness on Helian Jing’s face hasn’t gone away yet. “What do you mean early in the morning? It’s almost lunchtime. I came to see you so we can have a meal,” Helian Jing snapped as he reluctantly glanced at him.
“Is it so late already?” Zhao Qixuan had been a little bit muddle-headed lately. Old Grandpa Hou hadn’t been at the palace, so he had been very carefree.
He Lianjing pointed to the fingers on the clock.
“Uh, right, um, little Jing, you came to have a meal with me? Okay. It’s big brother’s treat. Where do you want to go? Fragrant Floor or Fu Ji?” Zhao Qixuan said generously.
Helian Jing scoffed and replied, “Didn’t you say last night that you’d be treating me at Heavenly Residence?”
Zhao Qixuan stared at him blankly for a moment before slapping a palm on his forehead. “Oh, curse my memory. I suppose I did say that, huh? Then, by all means, let’s walk to Heavenly Residence.”
Ye Jiayao had made several new dishes for Shopkeeper Li to try. Blessedly, after he had tried them all, he ordered?all??of them to be added to the menu. Ye Jiayao was giddy with pride of her work.
Little Lu came rushing to the kitchen and reported, “Shopkeeper! Lord Hou’s heir from Yong An and Young Royal Highness Jing came again. They’re in the Lotus Pavillion and they asked for brother Yao to go over.”
Ye Jiayao angrily pursed her lips.
The kid finally came, eh?