Gu Yanting’s idea of buying a ticket to go back eventually came to naught.
He was about to call to ask for a leave, and the next thing there was a problem with the project.
Their company was engaged in interior design. This time the project was introduced by an old customer. Gu Yanting had been with the company for three years and his manager was interested in training him, so he asked him to bring the team over alone, giving him a chance to practice.
Gu Yanting came with great ambition, but who knew that the day he arrived, the client would change his mind, saying that he was not satisfied with the design and asked for a change of team.
Gu Yanting could only put off his return and take his assistant to coordinate with the other party first. For a while, Gu Yanting didn’t have time to care whether Tang Yi was on a horse or on a donkey. After calling a few times and getting no answer, he could only frown and send a text message.
While Gu Yanting was busy with soldiers and horses (chaos and unrest) over there, Tang Yi’s side was also having a hard time.
Soy Milk’s full name turned out to be Zhou Weiwei, and his father was none other than Zhou Hao, the man who was driving right now.
Zhou Hao was Tang Yi’s top boss and a member of ER’s board of directors. However, Tang Yi worked in ER’s branch in T City and usually met with such big bosses no more than three times a year.
What’s more, every time he went to a meeting as a department manager of the branch, he could only sit far away in the second circle at the venue.
In the inner circle were the top management of the company, who did not even look at each other during the meetings and did not spare a single glance to subordinates like Tang Yi.
Therefore, Tang Yi vaguely regretted that he had blurted out the words “Mr. Zhou”.
After all, from Zhou Hao’s puzzled face in the restaurant, he quickly understood that Zhou Hao did not recognise him, or rather he did not know him at all. And with this greeting, not only did he declare himself to be a part of the company, but also indicated something less pleasant.
He was taking care of the big boss’s family affairs: Soy Milk, oh no, it should be Young Master Zhou Weiwei, who was begging softly and begging hard to go with him.
Tang Yi sighed silently in the back seat, his face remaining calm.
Zhou Hao had obviously come specifically to pick up his son, and a child seat had been installed in the back. Zhou Weiwei sat in it, his little hand still clasped around Tang Yi’s little finger. Timidly and somewhat curiously, he peeked at Zhou Hao from time to time.
Although Zhou Hao was wearing a face full of displeasure, he nevertheless politely communicated a little with the kid.
“Your name is Weiwei, isn’t it?” Zhou Hao swept a glance at them through the rearview mirror, his gaze pausing for half a second on Tang Yi’s grabbed little finger before moving away.
Zhou Weiwei nodded solemnly, “Yes, Dad.”
Tang Yi: “……” It was too natural for the child to call the man “Dad”, just like calling him “Uncle”; he would open his mouth and it would come. Tang Yi frowned, feeling that Zhou Weiwei was very cooperative and some of his behaviour to please Zhou Hao was even a bit weird.
Zhou Hao was oblivious to it and let out a “hmm” through his nose.
Another few minutes passed before Zhou Hao added, “Before, I didn’t know your mother had given birth to you and she didn’t inform me, so I came a little late.”
Tang Yi’s phoenix eyes hidden under the lowered eyelids were cold; he turned his head silently and looked at Zhou Weiwei.
Three years… Was this still called a little late?
It seemed that the big boss was quite unkind. His statement sounded like an apology, but when you thought about it, it was putting the blame on the woman.
Zhou Weiwei’s grip on Tang Yi’s hand also tightened, but he still answered solemnly with a dignified expression on his little face.
“It’s okay, Dad.”
Tang Yi: “……”
Zhou Hao nodded again in satisfaction and suddenly asked, “Do you have another name? Soy Milk?”
Zhou Weiwei froze for a moment and looked at Tang Yi, “En…”
Before Zhou Weiwei’s “Dad” came out this time, Zhou Hao cast a non-smiling look at Tang Yi through the rearview mirror.
“Black soybeans or yellow soybeans?”
Zhou Weiwei was a bit baffled, and also raised his bewildered little face to look at Tang Yi, obviously not understanding his father’s question.
In fact, Tang Yi looked like a gentle and honest person, but he also had his damaging moments. For example, he called Weiwei Soy Milk not only because the commercial was too brainwashing, but also because Zhou Weiwei’s unreliable mother was a bit dark.
Dark in the simplest and most sincere way.
When he saw Zhou Hao just now, Tang Yi was surprised but at the same time didn’t forget to give this pair of mom and dad a combination name in his heart – “Coffee Milk”.
Zhou Hao stared at Tang Yi from the rearview mirror steadily; his gaze was somewhat searing and, refracted by the rearview mirror, quite lethal.
With this ability to hit the heart of the matter right off the bat, Tang Yi didn’t even have a chance to cover up.
He pressed his fist to his mouth and coughed gently, pushing Zhou Weiwei’s curious little face away with his big hand while answering succinctly and dryly, “Black soybeans.”
Zhou Hao raised his eyebrows.
On the contrary, Zhou Weiwei was taken aback and twisted his head again, “I’m not black, ah…”
Tang Yi: “……”
Zhou Weiwei: “Am, am I black?…”
Zhou Hao drove all the way to the house in the suburbs with the corner of his mouth cocked up. Tang Yi carried the child to the entrance and turned around to leave. At the beginning, Soy Milk had held him tightly and wouldn’t let go, so he had no choice but to help coax the child.
But now, after he watched the two of them talk all the way about Ultraman and little monsters, Tang Yi knew that the bloodline thing started to work.
As Zhou Weiwei got out of the car with his little coat, Tang Yi freed his hand and gestured for Zhou Hao to pick up the child.
“Mr. Zhou, so I’ll take my leave.” Tang Yi saw that Zhou Hao did not respond, so he could only remind him.
Zhou Hao’s figure walking in front of him froze and the man looked back at him with some surprise, “You’re leaving?”
Tang Yi blinked, not quite understanding.
Zhou Hao then glanced at Zhou Weiwei again, and Tang Yi frowned as he heard Zhou Weiwei cry out, “Susu lied to me! Susu said he’d stay with me…”
The child was throwing a tantrum at first, but then he really cried, “Susu, I’m scared… stay with me, okay? Just once, okay…”
Zhou Hao also frowned and said, “The child is not familiar with me yet, I have to trouble Mr. Tang.”
Tang Yi was not stupid. At a glance, he knew that the big boss and the little young master somehow reached a united front. The child hugged him and didn’t let go. Tang Yi tugged at the back of his neck. For a while he didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry.
Tang Yi grew up eating hundreds of meals in dozens of families and was used to such a thing as being a guest in other people’s homes. Zhou Hao obviously had no experience in dealing with children, so after giving Tang Yi a few instructions about the guest room and other places he might need, he went into the study on his own.
When Tang Yi woke up the next day and wanted to say goodbye, he didn’t see Zhou Hao.
Fortunately, a nanny came to the house, and Tang Yi described to her Zhou Weiwei’s usual preferences. On the way back to the hospital, he found that his mobile phone had already run out of power.
It was only after he got back to the hospital and was caught by the little nurse again that he slowly switched on the phone and saw the text message Gu Yanting had sent last night.
“Don’t run around if you have nothing important to do, it’s not safe outside, eat well.”
Tang Yi: “……”
This text message with its preface and its postscript left him speechless for a long time.
Tang Yi tapped his finger on the screen, and as soon as he typed two letters, he pressed the delete button.
The Indian summer began in the past two days, and Tang Yi changed himself to a single ward yesterday, deliberately picking a ward with plenty of sunlight, thanks to his good relationship with the medical staff.
At this moment, the noon sunlight poured on him unrestrainedly, and the golden light shone brightly, illuminating his phoenix eyes that were exposed after he took off his glasses; his long, thin eyebrows were also spattered with light.
It’s just that when he raised his eyes, revealed in their calm darkness was tiredness and irritability that were completely inconsistent with his energetic appearance.
It was quite in line with the atmosphere of this early autumn, though. Behind the dazzling enthusiasm, there was just a futile struggle to the death.
Tang Yi put the phone aside and slowly closed his eyes.
He was serious about breaking up with Gu Yanting, but the latter obviously didn’t understand it on the same level as he did.
Tang Yi could even imagine that right after he left, Gu Yanting would immediately call his gang of brothers in astonishment.
— Hey, Tang Yi told me to break up! Isn’t it strange? Tsk tsk, that’s weird…
This was also one of the points of conflict between the two. Things that one party took to heart seriously might seem unreasonable in the eyes of the other.
In fact, Tang Yi couldn’t say whether the conflict between him and Gu Yanting had reached an irreconcilable point and whether it was because of their incompatible personalities or because of this thorn in the flesh, Lin Rui.
When Tang Yi first got together with Gu Yanting, both of them were fresh graduates.
Gu Yanting was driven crazy by the financial gap between him and Lin Rui and was determined to start his own business, believing that he would be able to be a big hit and dazzle the world.
Later, when Gu Yanting’s father and mother put together more than 100,000 yuan for him, Tang Yi accompanied him home to get the money. When he saw the old couple, he somehow felt sour in his heart and refused the money halfway.
That was the first time he had interfered in Gu Yanting’s affairs. The money was returned to Gu Yanting’s father, who was obviously relieved but also worried that his son would resent him for it, and afraid he would have nowhere to go.
So Tang Yi found his friend, stuffed Gu Yanting into a design company and had his friend give him a good opportunity. The idea was to let Gu Yanting know what an easy and comfortable job it was, and how rewarding it could be.
That was the second time he meddled in Gu Yanting’s affairs.
It was not that Gu Yanting had no complaints about this, but that unruly wild horse of his had somehow repeatedly given in to Tang Yi, trotting reluctantly but extraordinarily obediently along the cushy road that Tang Yi had arranged for him.
There was a time when Tang Yi was particularly satisfied with this, and even a little proud of it.
Until one time, he accidentally saw an email from Gu Yanting.
The recipient was Lin Rui.
The content was explosive, and the general idea could be summarised as: Why don’t you answer the phone? Hey, is there anywhere I am needed? If you have something, just say it, this little lord is working now and can afford a lot of things. I’ll give you whatever you want.
Have you got a boyfriend yet? I do have one, but he’s too fucking much in charge, he’s everywhere, it’s annoying. Lao Tzu doesn’t like him, so I want to break up with him sooner rather than later.
The last two sentences were like a slap to Tang Yi’s smug face, and since then, those dozen words kept being branded into his mind over and over again, restlessly.
When was that?
Oh yes, it was the day after they took their “wedding photo”.
When he thought about it now, it was a bit ironic that a person of Tang Yi’s character was considered to be deeply scheming and vengeful.
But he tolerated Gu Yanting holding a knife and poking holes in his heart, one after another.
He grew up with trials and tribulations that his peers would have never imagined, so he was inevitably a little paranoid. Yet he was also subjected to the great kindness of this society – whether it was the kind and simple villagers and neighbours at the beginning, or the teachers who secretly sponsored him when he went to school, or the classmates who seriously encouraged him, all of them allowed him to grow up recklessly while maintaining the truest kindness in his heart.
So when Tang Yi felt his heart being shattered to pieces by a single sentence, his action was far less sharp than his killing decisions in the market.
He sighed and began to persuade himself, “Forget it, Tang Yi, why bother hanging your heart on someone’s neck, it’s too smelly!”
He, who had always done things in a measured manner, hesitated over the matter of breaking up over and over again.
Sometimes when he heard Gu Yanting overcoming the time difference and calling the other side of the ocean over and over again, he couldn’t wait to break up immediately.
However, sometimes when he saw Gu Yanting smile at him, his reflection in Gu Yanting’s deep eyes, he felt that breaking up would be just a waste of time – compared to all the others around him, Gu Yanting could not even be counted as an emotional cheater.
Tang Yi didn’t want to be too insatiable. Sometimes he thought that time might dilute everything. If Lin Rui changed, maybe Gu Yanting would not like him anymore.
So when he got to know that Lin Rui dated several men at the same time, got to know how badly he did in school, learned about his gold-digging and promiscuity, he tested Gu Yanting’s opinion again.
Yet the latter showed a surprising amount of understanding and sympathy.
“His family situation is a bit complicated…” Gu Yanting was full of heartache and guilt at the time, “It’s really heartbreaking to have a family like that. It’s not easy for him.”
Tang Yi answered sarcastically, “Living in a pigsty and crying about it?”
Gu Yanting frowned in displeasure.
Then upon Lin Rui’s return, he proved with his own practical actions that he really didn’t mind Lin Rui’s slutty ways, quite willing to accept them.
The few days Tang Yi took off from work passed quickly. He didn’t know how to respond to Gu Yanting, so he put the matter aside and didn’t reply.
Gu Yanting’s side also kept silent.
However, there was a lot going on at the company. As soon as the weekend came, his assistant, Xiao Yang, called him.
“Manager Tang, our company is organising the October 1st study trip (1) for the headquarters and notified that all management would participate. I’ve sent the schedule to your email, can you take a look for which day I can book a ticket for you?”
There were many kinds of benefits at ER, and at least two trips were organised every year, all under the name of study. This October 1st ‘study’, for example, was arranged with accommodation from September 28 to September 30. The meeting was only held for half a day on the morning of the 29th.
Their head office was registered in Haikou, and although they had moved most of their business to Shanghai since they became bigger, meetings were still generally arranged in Haikou. The hotel and air tickets would be reimbursed, but anyone who was supposed to come had to come.
Tang Yi had previously brushed off these get-togethers on excuses whenever they were not obligatory. This was because he was considered one of the fastest climbers among ER’s various branches. And as there was a vague tendency within ER in the last two years to divide and conquer, he could easily be pulled into taking sides if he showed up in such a casual setting.
It was too delicate a thing to take sides. Sometimes a look or a remark could be over-interpreted and you could be labelled as the “enemy” or “ours”.
If you stayed neutral and didn’t do it well, you would offend both sides. Tang Yi, actually forced to participate this time, frowned and said to Xiao Yang, “Let me see.”
Xiao Yang sent a list of attendees in reply.
At the end, his logic made some twist, and he told Tang Yi a bit mysteriously, “Manager Tang, that Deputy Manager Lin is here to work.”
Tang Yi said, “Huh?”
Xiao Yang paused slightly and explained, “He asked me to be his assistant as soon as he arrived, saying that since you’re not here anyway and the company hasn’t assigned him a new one yet, he might as well use me first.”
Tang Yi chuckled lightly, “And then what?”
“So I went,” Xiao Yang said, “but when I scanned the documents, I accidentally scanned a few extra copies and sent them to your email. The private email you sent me pictures from last time.”
When Xiao Yang first started working, he felt that it was quite dignified to enter ER as an assistant. The young man bragged about it a few times when he was meeting with his friends, and one time when Tang Yi was at work, he bumped into two girls who came to see Xiao Yang.
The company rules stated that during work, except for the general manager, no one else was allowed to receive personal visitors. The two girls were stopped at the reception desk and their faces turned pig liver red with embarrassment. Tang Yi smiled and comforted them, took a picture of them with the ER company logo and praised Xiao Yang in a few words in passing, cheering up the girls.
The private email address was left since that time.
Xiao Yang was still a little uneasy, “Manager Tang, I don’t know if this is okay… if I’m wrong, you can scold me…”
Tang Yi sighed gently, “Well, don’t do that in the future, just work hard, don’t bother with things like that.” He was silent for a moment and said, “It’s not good for you.”
The company showed its attitude with this assignment; Lin Rui was parachuted from the headquarters and landed directly in his department, obviously coming at him.
Tang Yi had not participated in taking sides before, and now he was stabbed in the foot. But he did not know yet who regarded him as a thorn in his side. The first to strike was the last to suffer; he could stay put, but he couldn’t be passive.
Xiao Yang had done him a great favour this time, but he had also broken a major taboo in the workplace.
Xiao Yang promised, “Okay, thank you, Manager Tang.”
The flight was scheduled for the morning of the 28th, and Tang Yi simply packed a few clothes and set off on the business trip.
The company arranged standard rooms for them, one for two people. Previously, Tang Yi had always shared a room with Ning Zeyu, as both of them were managers of the marketing department and were in charge of the first and second departments. The positions were comparable, so this arrangement was also appropriate.
However, when he arrived at the hotel this time, he found that the name of the person in the same room as him on the arrangement form was blank.
Tang Yi narrowed his eyes and greeted the female employee doing the check-in, “Help me find out who else is staying at 2408 with me?”
“Okay, hold on a moment…” The other side tapped on the keyboard and said the words Tang Yi least expected to hear.
“It’s Deputy Manager Lin Rui from T City.”
- October 1st is National Day of the People’s Republic of China