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    Loves Error

    Shen Li had a long dream where Lu Changting married Tang Yao. He stood among the guests, just like many years ago, watching from afar as Lu Changting took his vows, put a ring on the bride’s finger, and kissed her…

    When he woke up, his heart was still pounding. He was drenched in a clammy sweat, feeling both dazed and panicked as he sat up. The space beside him was empty, and Lu Changting was nowhere to be seen.

    He took a moment to gather his thoughts, reached under his pillow for his phone, and checked the time—5:17.

    This was early for both him and Lu Changting. His gaze fell on another phone on the bedside table, and Shen Li frowned slightly. Where could Lu Changting be so early?

    He turned on the wall lamp and hesitantly called out, “Changting.” His voice was a bit hoarse from just waking up.

    The response was the sound of the balcony door opening. In the next moment, the moon-white curtains were drawn aside, and Lu Changting walked in.

    “Why are you awake so early?” Shen Li relaxed a bit upon seeing him.

    As Lu Changting approached, Shen Li caught a strong whiff of tobacco. He tilted his head slightly, looking seriously at Lu Changting, noting his weary expression and the faint dark circles under his eyes. Realizing something, he asked, “You didn’t sleep?”

    Lu Changting sat down beside him and hugged him tightly.

    Lu Changting’s embrace was so tight that it was almost painful for Shen Li, making his heart ache too.

    He felt a sudden, inexplicable panic.

    Gently patting Lu Changting’s back, he asked, “What’s wrong?”

    What’s wrong…

    Lu Changting buried his head in Shen Li’s neck, feeling a mix of pain and bitterness. He truly didn’t know what to do about Shen Li.

    Last night, he had sat on the balcony all night, smoking one cigarette after another. The cold wind had sobered him up but couldn’t dispel the heavy love weighing on his heart. He felt sorry for Shen Li all these years and blamed himself for realizing Shen Li’s feelings so late…

    He used to think Shen Li was like an ocean, wanting to discover the hidden reefs and undercurrents. But now that he had truly dived into the depths, he realized how overwhelming the surge of love was, so heavy that it almost suffocated him.

    He suddenly closed his eyes and, leaning into Shen Li’s neck, bit down hard.

    Shen Li stifled a groan at the sudden pain, instinctively tightening his hold on Lu Changting, gritting his teeth to endure it, suppressing the surge of grievance in his heart.

    He didn’t know what was wrong with Lu Changting, but he just wanted to hold him.

    Lu Changting bit hard, making Shen Li’s neck ache and tingle. Shen Li endured it with difficulty, his body trembling slightly but remained silent.

    Lu Changting felt like he was going crazy. He remembered Shen Li crying for him that night, but now, he couldn’t bear to see him cry anymore.

    He eased his grip and hoarsely said, “Say something.”

    But Shen Li didn’t react like most people would when hurt. Instead of crying out in pain or pushing him away, he just held him tighter and said nothing.

    Lu Changting’s lips and tongue kissed the mark he had just bitten, his Adam’s apple moving as he repeated, “Shen Xiaoli, say something.”

    Shen Li didn’t know what to say or what Lu Changting wanted to hear.

    Feeling confused and helpless, he sighed heavily and asked in a low voice, “What do you want me to say?”

    Lu Changting bit him again.

    This time it was a light bite, almost like a nibble. Shen Li, lost in thought, wondered how he would face people with so many love marks on his neck.

    “Talk about the first time we met, the speech you gave at the sports meet, the day you took me to the infirmary, the stars you hid…” Lu Changting paused, almost unable to continue. It was too hard. He wanted Shen Li to tell him these things himself, but why was it so difficult…

    The person in his arms suddenly stiffened.

    Lu Changting turned to look at him, his eyes burning with a passionate flame.

    Shen Li was stunned for a long time, his calm expression turning into one of confusion and panic. When his heart finally settled down, he asked in a small voice, “You know…?”

    “I don’t know,” Lu Changting gently touched the red and blue marks on his neck, his movements and voice both soft, “You tell me.”

    Liar.

    Shen Li silently retorted, then gradually realized why Lu Changting was acting so strangely…

    There wasn’t much to say about the past. He had never figured out how to explain it to Lu Changting. In the end, it was just a bunch of silly things he did while secretly in love, not exactly a dark history, but certainly not something worth boasting about.

    He had never intended to use his unrequited love to manipulate Lu Changting’s sympathy or to make him feel sorry for him, yet Lu Changting felt sorry for him anyway.

    He reached out and turned off the wall lamp. The curtains blocked out the daylight, and the room was plunged back into darkness.

    Shen Li slowly said, “The confused classmate you helped was me.”

    “The person who had Du Heng bring you water was me. The one who cheered for you at the sports meet was me. The one who took you to the infirmary was me. The one who gave you the ceramic kittens was me…”

    Shen Li pushed Lu Changting to lie down, wrapped himself in the blanket, found a comfortable position in his arms, and closed his eyes as if to catch some more sleep.

    Lu Changting heard him softly complete the last sentence, “The one with you now is me.”

    “And in the future, it will still be me.”

    After hearing this, Lu Changting felt a mix of emotions he couldn’t quite describe.

    Shen Li had summed up over a decade of affection in a few short sentences, and then wrapped up the next several decades with two more.

    What had he done to deserve Shen Li’s unwavering love for a lifetime?

    He also wondered how Shen Li felt whenever they talked about the past.

    It must have been painful.

    Painful that he remembered those events but never remembered Shen Li…

    Lu Changting tightened his embrace, his tone slow and solemn, “I’m sorry.”

    “For making you suffer for so long…”

    “I want to say it wasn’t hard… but it actually was,” Shen Li said softly. “But the outcome is good.”

    He said, “If it weren’t for you, there wouldn’t be the Shen Li of today. So it was hard, but it was worth it.”

    He always believed that after enduring a long night, the hardships would turn into life’s gifts, and the struggles would illuminate the path ahead.

    Meeting Lu Changting, falling for him, becoming excellent and strong… being with Lu Changting.

    All the hardships of the past were worth it.

    Even if he couldn’t be with Lu Changting, he could still live a good life. This was the certainty and brightness he gained from his unrequited love.

    So being able to be with Lu Changting was already more than enough.

    Shen Li looked up at him, “So don’t apologize, don’t say sorry.” In the darkness, Shen Li’s eyes were bright and resolute, “Say you love me.”

    Lu Changting kissed his eyes lightly, “I like you.”

    Then he kissed down along his nose, “I adore you.”

    Finally, he kissed his lips tenderly, “I love you.”

    His voice was filled with uncontrollable affection.

    The heartbeat in his ears grew faster, as did his own. Shen Li’s cheeks flushed, and he wrapped his arms around Lu Changting’s neck, returning the kiss.

    “So do I.”

    ……

    When Du Heng woke up, it was already past ten o’clock. He got up, took a shower, rinsed his mouth with some water, and followed the smell of food from the guest room upstairs down to the kitchen.

    Shen Li was adding salt to season the pork rib soup. Hearing footsteps, he turned around and glanced at Du Heng.

    After a night’s sleep, Du Heng’s clothes were wrinkled, and a light stubble had appeared on his chin, but he looked quite refreshed, indicating he had a good night’s sleep.

    Shen Li’s gaze was somewhat deep as he stared at him. Du Heng’s heart skipped a beat, recalling how he had drunk too much the previous night and seemed to have spilled everything about Shen Li. He suddenly felt guilty.

    Then he thought, Lu Changting already knew about those things, so what he said shouldn’t be a big problem, right?

    “Shen Xiao Li… about last night…” Du Heng stammered, taking the initiative to confess, “I drank too much and told Changting some things from the past. Is that alright?”

    Shen Li sighed inwardly, “It’s fine…”

    Whether it mattered or not, the words were already spoken. Lu Changting knew about the past, and the result was that he and Lu Changting had confessed their feelings to each other, so there was no need to make his friend feel guilty about spilling the beans.

    Du Heng breathed a sigh of relief, “Oh, alright. Where’s Changting?”

    “Still sleeping.” Shen Li covered the clay pot, turning it to a slow simmer.

    Du Heng smiled, “I’ll head home first then. My clothes smell like hot pot. I need to change and freshen up. I’ll visit Auntie in the afternoon.”

    “Stay and eat before you go.”

    “I’ll grab something outside. Changting is still sleeping, and I don’t want you to cook just for me.”

    It was already close to noon. If Shen Li quickly made something for Du Heng, he might not have an appetite for lunch. And waiting for lunch meant not knowing when Lu Changting would wake up.

    Shen Li didn’t insist, “I’ll see you off.”

    After seeing Du Heng off, Shen Li returned to the kitchen to continue preparing the meal.

    Unconsciously, half an hour passed. The clock on the living room wall showed eleven o’clock. Someone came downstairs, footsteps unhurried, from the living room to the kitchen.

    Shen Li was slicing ginger when he was hugged from behind. The man’s body pressed against him, and his chin rested on Shen Li’s shoulder.

    Shen Li curved his lips, “Awake?”

    Lu Changting murmured an acknowledgment, smelling the faint woody scent on Shen Li’s neck, feeling at ease.

    “There’s something I forgot to ask.”

    Shen Li asked, “What is it?”

    Lu Changting whispered in his ear, “Who’s your Xiao Gege, hmm?”

    Shen Li’s Adam’s apple bobbed, “…It’s you.”

    Lu Changting turned him around by his waist and gave him a kiss on the lips as a reward, “Say it for me.”

    Shen Li, “…”

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