Many things can’t be assumed. In the space of two years Shen Fan gradually took control of ER as the new director and was finally able to do whatever he wanted. Tang Yi had also risen from a small manager in the marketing department to the ranks of the evil bourgeoisie. Zhou Weiwei went to kindergarten, a tiger-headed, tiger-brained boy with a willowy look. When he called Tang Susu, he would complain that the teacher was not beautiful.
And finally, after two years of patience, Zhou Hao’s wish had come true and he got the word “yes” from Tang Yi.
“We can try, but there’s always room for error.” Tang Yi raised his head to look at Zhou Hao. Without the obstruction of his glasses the calmness and gentleness was clearly discernible in his phoenix eyes. He was very composed about his arrival, making it clear that this was not an uncontrollable impulse.
People’s personalities are hard to change. Tang Yi smiled, his ledger book clear: “I don’t want to owe you anything yet.”
Zhou Hao lowered his eyes and stared at him for a moment. The intoxicating taste from just now still lingered on his lips; he raised his hand and slowly wiped it off. After taking a few breaths, he embraced Tang Yi and said, “You don’t owe me anything.”
The relationship between Tang Yi and Zhou Hao was not a debt. Feelings are originally a matter of wishful thinking. It is up to you whether you want to do it or not, and it is up to the other party to make it work. However, just as Tang Yi had a three-year past that he would never mention, Zhou Hao also had a lot of private things that he would never talk about during their meetings.
For example, the details of the Zhou family and its mansion where, as some said, more than two dozen people could be found at any given time.
These were not very secret things. As long as Tang Yi made an effort to inquire, he could always find bits and pieces. It might be better to let Shen Fan help but Tang Yi felt a little tired of doing that.
Zhou Weiwei was just over five years old, yet he always managed to cleverly avoid mentioning any news and rumours about the Zhou family when he came to play with Tang Yi.
Clearly this was the result of someone teaching him. The child was not good at concealment and couldn’t say anything deceitful to Tang Yi, so he could only look away when his closest person, Tang Susu, unintentionally asked about something.
At first Tang Yi thought that it was not easy for a child to survive in such an environment; but then he thought that perhaps he was the one to blame.
It was impossible for the Zhou family not to be on guard against him. Zhou Hao seemed to take everything except for his feelings for granted and let things run their course.
Once he saw Zhou Hao casually throw a black credit card into the car, the legendary Aladdin card that could only be issued by the bank on its own initiative. At that time, Zhou Hao was angry at Tang Yi for not being able to have dinner with him in the evening because he had other arrangements and his eyes were ice cold, but Tang Yi still unconsciously asked when he saw that black-and-gold card: how much is the limit of this card?
Zhou Hao’s eyes were puzzled for a moment, as if he didn’t understand the question, and then he quoted a number that made Tang Yi tsk. If you went by the general bank’s assessment standard, Zhou Hao’s value at that bank was to be about five times that amount.
Tang Yi had risen from a small manager to a small leader. Now that he turned from a slave to a boss, he would reminisce of the hardships of starting with nothing and climbing up from the bottom, and occasionally there would inevitably be a little bit of self-complacency. But the reality was that all his efforts so far were not even as good as Zhou Hao’s monthly interest.
He vaguely understood some of the Zhou family’s concerns, but aware of this gap and this distance, he still couldn’t resist the ripples of offence and emptiness in his heart.
Empty bottles always needed to be filled with new wine.
He had been deliberating for a long time; sooner or later he was going to find someone to spend the rest of his life with.
After sunset the sky gradually darkened; the wind was strong outside the floor-to-ceiling windows of the hotel, and the rain suddenly intensified. Tang Yi took another room on the same floor as Zhou Hao. The unlit room felt like the end of the world. He was a bit depressed for no reason, so he opened a bottle of wine and drank it sip by sip by himself.
Half of the bottle went down, but he became more and more sober.
The night two years ago it was also raining like this. At that time, he had already told Gu Yanting about their break-up. Gu Yanting was afraid that Tang Yi would leave in the rain, so he hid in the corner of the bus stop and prepared to spend the night there. Tang Yi was upset and used Mom Gu as an excuse to call him back.
He knew Gu Yanting’s every move at night very well. Tang Yi endured his act of cautiously trying to get closer but being afraid of waking him up as the last bit of gentleness he granted to Gu Yanting.
When he learned that Gu Yanting went away with his cousin, Tang Yi was sitting in the cafe. After Fat Sod left, Tang Yi’s face was calm; admiring his own indifference, he stretched out his hand and called the waiter for coffee.
The waiter came over with an odd look on his face, and after a few moments finally couldn’t help it, politely reminding in a whisper, “Sir, you haven’t drunk the other cups you asked for. Is it because they don’t taste right?”
Tang Yi fled then, thinking to himself: you don’t fare much better.
After Gu Yanting left, Tang Yi finally settled down. But even without asking, he could expect that the other party wouldn’t have a good time. Gu Yanting was not good at words. When he was at the university, he was simply like a blank piece of paper. After graduation, he had ambitions but having been suppressed by Tang Yi, he reluctantly settled in that design company.
Tang Yi didn’t know that he had entrusted him to the wrong person and during the first six months of Gu Yanting’s employment made many demands on him. At that time, he especially wanted a home, so he spent all of their savings to make a downpayment for that small house. After taking the key, the two of them had no money to buy furniture, so they bought a water-proof mat and a mattress and laid them on the floor to sleep on.
In the winter, the floor was damp, and when they woke up in the morning, their backs were cold and there was a wet patch underneath the water-proof mat. Gu Yanting was not like him who grew up with hardships, he couldn’t stand such things for long. Tang Yi ruthlessly went and bought a sofa bed for him to sleep on. At that time he really was in love, bunking under the sofa and watching Gu Yanting sleep on the sofa.
Gu Yanting’s back pain didn’t ease much and the shadows under his eyes got heavier. Tang Yi was baffled and once woke up in the middle of the night after a dinner party only to find that it was himself who was sleeping on the sofa. Gu Yanting would wait for him to fall asleep and put him there every time. Then he would put him down again before he woke up.
Tang Yi was furious when he found out, and there was a bit of sourness in his heart that was hard to bear. He kicked Gu Yanting, who was curled up in a ball, and while the other man struggled to wake up he felt unable to say anything.
Gu Yanting, confused, was picking at the edge of the quilt, saying in a dumb voice, “Tang Yi, there’s really nothing I can give you, don’t think I’m useless.”
That miserable winter didn’t last long. Tang Yi dragged the two of them through three months of suffering on impulse. After that he bought a bed, and then slowly added other furniture. Every time they bought furniture and pots and pans, the two of them were the happiest. They would push a cart together, walking slowly along the rows of shelves in the supermarket, excitedly picking up anything new and envisioning how it would look in their house.
Later, the furniture changed from old to new.
Then later, the two broke up, and Gu Yanting went far away and never looked back.
Tang Yi smothered the last sip from the bottle, touched his phone and sighed quietly in his heart.
The next morning Zhou Hao came over and knocked on Tang Yi’s door. He had to go back to C City on an urgent matter and it was too late to have breakfast with Tang Yi and spend some sweet time together.
Both of them were no longer children, and both of them had always been career-oriented, so Tang Yi waved goodbye and simply drove back to T City after Zhou Hao left.
It was a rare occasion for Shen Fan to be in T City these two days, and Tang Yi had something to discuss with him.
Shen Fan was now working on the development of his new company. His goal was to make the new company a holding and to follow the example of other people’s capital operations and go public after his wings got stronger. ER’s original main business was cut down to 70 or 80%, and finally the main profit-making business was put in Tang Yi’s hands.
Tang Yi was the only one in charge. The subsidiary had attracted several educational institutions in the province this year, and the customer base was no longer single small and medium-sized enterprises. The marketing department, led by Yan Ke, set up a team to deal with government units. Tang Yi felt this was feasible, but he still wanted to talk to Shen Fan when it came to official institutions.
This time Shen Fan’s original goal was to visit Big Beauty who was in the middle of the craziness of raising cats and dogs. He stayed away from home all year round and travelled all over the country; Big Beauty saw her son no more than two times a year. Although she was well maintained and had her own little clubhouse and circle, she was inevitably lonely when she returned home. After thinking about it, she decided to raise a pet as her companion.
When Shen Fan saw Big Beauty staring at the internet sites and choosing a cat or a dog, he unconsciously thought of Tang Yi. If Tang Yi couldn’t change his sexual orientation and marry a wife and have children, wouldn’t he be even more pitiful when he was old and lonely? So after he had ordered a cat for his mother, he went to T City and fervently insisted on buying a dog for Tang Yi.
After Tang Yi and Shen Fan finished talking about business, Shen Fan brought up the subject again and presented a table that included weight, body odour, body size, barking degree and degree of kinship of different dog breeds.
“You’re really idle, aren’t you?” Tang Yi felt a bit helpless and couldn’t help but laugh out loud after taking a piece of paper that Shen Fan had printed out, “Did you draw all these dogs?”
Shen Fan slapped the table, “Ah, this is a soul painting! Can’t you respect your brother’s creation?”
Tang Yi never changed the way he addressed Shen Fan. No matter how much Shen Fan seethed, he just called him by his first and last name. He gave the handsome looking Shen Fan a glance and coughed lightly, “Comrade Shen Fan, I probably won’t be able to raise a dog anymore.”
“What do you mean?” Shen Fan froze for a moment.
“I agreed to give it a try with Zhou Hao yesterday,” Tang Yi said with a smile, “Let us get along for now and see if one day we really feel it’s right to live together.”
Shen Fan: “……”
Shen Fan was well aware of Tang Yi and Zhou Hao’s affairs and could see that it was only a matter of time before Tang Yi agreed. But he was still startled. He was silent for a long time, not knowing whether he should bless or persuade.
“It’s okay.” On the contrary, Tang Yi strove to comfort him, “You don’t need to worry. If he does something wrong, I’ll definitely call for your help.”
“That’s fine,” Shen Fan nodded, “anyway, I’m your brother. Hey, by the way, there’s an old customer at headquarters who brought in an order. It’s quite fat. You go back and look at it, send a competent person to contact the other party directly.”
The software business belonged to the subsidiary in T City. Many old customers didn’t know about it. When they introduced friends or partners, they would give the original contact information of the headquarters. Tang Yi had been getting in contact with customers this way for the past two years, so he just nodded when he heard it. However, since this old customer knew Shen Fan’s contact information, one could be 80% sure the order was fat enough.
After Tang Yi finished talking with Shen Fan, he went to run some more errands. He only remembered the order when he was going home in the evening. The cars in front of him were stuck in traffic; Tang Yi had nothing to do, so he took out his mobile phone and intended to send the number to Yan Ke’s work phone. When his finger pressed down, there was suddenly a bus honking behind him. Tang Yi frowned and the phone call went through.
After cutting off the call, Tang Yi didn’t have time to send the number before the other party surprisingly called back.
With years of professional reaction behind his back, Tang Yi hesitated for a moment before deciding to say hello to the other party since it was his mistake.
The moment the light turned green in front of him, he answered the phone. Tang Yi smiled before he spoke, ready to greet this big, fat client politely.
However the voice coming from the microphone was completely unfamiliarly low and magnetic.
“Hello, this is Gu Yanting.”