Time froze for a moment, and in a daze Gu Yanting saw Tang Yi’s pupils shrink slightly; then Tang Yi smiled gently at them and asked someone to lead them to their respective seats.
For the business banquet everyone’s seats had been arranged in advance, and Gu Yanting happened to be sitting on Tang Yi’s left. He felt vaguely happy. The two of them had not been able to sit together so peacefully since Tang Yi slammed the door of their family’s home two years ago. However, these two years of experience played their role; judging from Tang Yi’s slightly narrowed eyes when he entered, Gu Yanting figured out Tang Yi probably wasn’t the one to arrange the seating.
Sure enough, Tang Yi never looked at him during the meal. Obviously, the two of them sat very close, but Tang Yi only turned his head to exchange pleasantries with Mr. Chen, and even his hand on Gu Yanting’s side was slightly curled into a fist.
Tang Yi’s hands were beautiful, with clear joints and long, slender fingers. He would habitually wear a shirt, just the colour and style would be the latest season, and his wrist bones exposed by the cuffs protruded slightly. Gu Yanting’s gaze wandered for a moment and he couldn’t help but think of the slightly cold sensation he used to feel when he pressed these hands to his heart back then. Tang Yi was afraid of the cold, and his hands and feet began to freeze as soon as autumn began. Every time Gu Yanting warmed his hands and feet, it was a rare moment of Tang Yi’s submissiveness.
The gesture of making a loosely clenched fist and pressing his thumb on it was the one that Tang Yi would only make when he was angry or on guard. Gu Yanting had been with him for so long that there were some things he hadn’t deliberately paid attention to but couldn’t help knowing.
He was silent for a while, then slowly looked away and turned his attention to the alcohol on the table.
Mr. Chen, a man well past his prime, seemed to be happy with what he was hearing. His greasy face looked like a pig’s head about to be braised. The other escorts were also dedicated to their duties, and Chen Xuan, the girl who delivered things to Gu Yanting last time, was also there. After three rounds of drinking, she smiled and winked at Gu Yanting.
“Mr. Gu, I would like to toast you. I’ll need you to take care of me during the project launch!” Chen Xuan was young, with a pretty face and the innocence and shyness of a little girl.
At this time, the atmosphere was in full swing, and although Tang Yi didn’t talk much, he did agree to the kickback that Mr. Chen wanted as a token of his sincerity. Although Tang Yi didn’t give him an explanation about Yan Ke’s matter, Mr. Chen couldn’t be too petty after Gu Yanting had basically negotiated the contract. He was also worried about offending his own company as a result, so the two parties could only make mutual concessions and talk about some shallow and vulgar topics in the process.
When Mr. Chen saw Chen Xuan’s slightly flushed face, he smiled and joked, “This little girl looks so pretty, ah! Is she seeing anyone yet?”
Chen Xuan smiled, adjusted her hair and said, “Answering Mr. Chen, not yet.”
“Hey, how come such a lovely girl is not seeing anyone yet? What kind of man do you want to find in the future?” Mr. Chen chewed on a piece of vegetable and raised his eyes to look at her, “Young girls nowadays are very demanding!”
Chen Xuan pursed her lips and smiled, and was about to say a compliment or two, when Tang Yi, who didn’t speak much, let out a faint sigh.
Tang Yi was holding the rim of his wine glass and took a sip as he smiled and said to Chen Xuan, “It’s right to be demanding. You must keep your eyes open when looking for a boyfriend. It’s better to have one than to have many.”
Chen Xuan was taken aback for a moment, and before she could nod, she heard Tang Yi say, “Any kind is good, just don’t find the kind who lives with his wife and still has his first love or ex in his heart. This kind of person has good things on his tongue, but what he does later on is not better than a beast.”
The topic of conversation among men at the drinking table is mostly about money, power and sex, and after reaching middle age, they may lean towards health and wellness. But it’s not often that someone puts themselves in a girl’s shoes and says something like this. Mr. Chen was thinking about his little mistress, so his face immediately changed when he heard these words.
Tang Yi lowered his eyes with a smile, not looking at anyone.
After a few seconds of awkwardness around the table, Chen Xuan gently filled Mr. Chen’s glass and said with a smile, “That’s true. Especially a good man like Mr. Chen, he must be tied and tethered. It’s best to put him in your pocket so that no one can see him!”
Mr. Chen’s face cleared up a little, and the drinking went on. It was just that the second half of the banquet was invariably less than stellar. Tang Yi said very little to begin with and the good face he barely maintained later was just a cop-out. Mr. Chen felt that he had misunderstood at first and that ER’s side had no sincere intention to make peace. It was Gu Yanting who for some reason kept the whole scene together, unmoved by the eight winds(1), and every time Mr. Chen wanted to express his anger, Gu Yanting downplayed it.
It was already past nine o’clock in the evening when the show ended. After a very unpleasant banquet that lasted for three hours, Mr. Chen finally failed to resist the double offensive of the deputy manager and Chen Xuan. Finally, he was drunk and was helped into the car by the driver. Gu Yanting hesitated for a moment and before leaving gave the driver a card to the spa centre and pointed to some people from ER to accompany Mr. Chen, before turning around and walking back to the private room.
Tang Yi still had drunk too much. Gu Yanting previously explained to others that he and Tang Yi were old friends and he would send Tang Yi home, so at this moment there were only two of them left in the room.
When Gu Yanting pushed the door, he saw Tang Yi propping his head on his hand, looking at him with red eyes. Gu Yanting paused and for a while was in a bit of a dilemma.
He knew that Tang Yi was very uncomfortable.
Tang Yi had been in the sales department since the beginning of his career. Gu Yanting had not seen him accompany customers, but he knew that Tang Yi must be very smooth in dealing with people and having everything going his way since he could climb to the position of marketing manager in just two or three years. He had admired Tang Yi’s ability and had been tempted to try, too, when Tang Yi’s salary rose to several times his own. At that time, Tang Yi looked at him like he was a psychopath, and finally smiled and put his arms around his neck, kissed him on the chin and said, “Don’t go there, I don’t want you to suck up to people.”
Tang Yi obviously had resentment in his heart tonight, otherwise he wouldn’t get into Mr. Chen’s face like this. But his position also doomed him to have his glass filled again and again.
When Tang Yi neatly downed one glass after another, mixing the red and the white with no scruples, Gu Yanting’s heart was clenching in pain. There were even a few times when he wanted to block the drinks for him regardless of being opponents, but Tang Yi wouldn’t let him. Tang Yi didn’t even say a word to him; except for that moment, he didn’t even look at Gu Yanting the whole time.
Gu Yanting closed the door behind him and stood with his hands in his pockets, looking at Tang Yi solemnly. Tang Yi didn’t wear glasses; his eyebrows and eyes were in full view, his eyes slightly red, brimming with wetness, adding a bit of gentleness to his image. Gu Yanting looked at him for a moment, his heart softening to a mess. Then he went around half of the table to help him up.
It was then that Tang Yi finally spoke to him.
Tang Yi complied with his efforts to get up and hugged him before being able to stand. After a long absence of two years, Gu Yanting finally again touched this body he was so familiar with. The heat of the other man was scorching Gu Yanting through the fabric, so his body had already taken the lead in giving the most direct response. His breath was almost unsteady and his palms were burning. The only remaining reason told him that people could come in at any moment, so he didn’t even dare to turn his head to kiss Tang Yi for fear of losing control.
He stepped back a little to prevent his embarrassment from being discovered by Tang Yi. Who knew that the latter would hug him tightly and bury his face in the nook of his neck and rub against him. His thigh pressed against Gu Yanting’s discomfort, unconsciously rubbing against it.
Gu Yanting took a few deep breaths, his eyes darkening. Just when he turned his face sideways to look for Tang Yi’s lips eagerly, he heard Tang Yi ask him softly, “Zhou Hao, will you take me home?”
Gu Yanting: “……”
Gu Yanting stood in silence for a moment. It took him a long time to come round. The hormones that his body had just secreted seemed to have been slashed down, and when he returned to his senses, there was nothing left.
He didn’t even have the courage to ask Tang Yi, who is Zhou Hao?
Is it the man who spent the night with you on Christmas Eve? Is it the man who can make you not to be shy about dating every day?
Gu Yanting didn’t speak again along the way. He was in the back seat of the taxi, holding Tang Yi, who had fallen asleep, with mixed feelings in his heart. He found that he was far less open-minded and relieved than he had imagined. His eyes were sour, and the jealousy in his heart was almost going wild. He wanted to kiss Tang Yi and hear his name from Tang Yi’ lips.
There had been a time when he had all this. He had taught Tang Yi to hug and bury his face in the nook of his neck and behave coquettishly. At that time, he felt that Tang Yi was too depressing and stereotypical, like a warrior always ready for a battle, so he deliberately coaxed Tang Yi, teaching him various intimate poses and… body positions. In front of outsiders Tang Yi was always unsmiling, but in fact, at home, he was often unreasonable or soft and shyly coquettish.
He knew that he was special in Tang Yi’s heart, and in the past this special was unique. And it was precisely because he was too sure of this that he was able to give a part of his heart to Lin Rui.
Originally, he felt that Tang Yi was not broad-minded enough, which led to repeated tossing and quarrelling over Lin Rui’s issues. The first time they fought over Lin Rui was because he had Lin Rui’s picture in his wallet. At that time, the two hadn’t been together for long, and Tang Yi gritted his teeth and wanted to tear up the photo after accidentally discovering it. Gu Yanting felt that this was just a fuss, and Tang Yi’s approach was not leaving him the dignity of a man at all.
After the quarrel, Tang Yi slammed the door and left. On a snowy night in winter, he only wore pyjamas when he went out, with a pair of plastic slippers on his feet. Gu Yanting was still angry at first, thinking that Tang Yi was afraid of the cold anyway and would come back in a while. Who knew that two hours later he would still be missing? Gu Yanting panicked, grabbed his clothes and ran out to look for him. He found him outside the community. Tang Yi had made circles of footprints in the snow, apparently not willing to go far. He was looking so aggrieved and sad that Gu Yanting couldn’t help but throw his hands up and swear, “I’ll never put his picture up again and won’t mention him, okay? Come back with me.”
Tang Yi went back with him almost without struggling. He was freezing to death, and the point was, at that time he believed that oath.
They had spent years facing each other day and night. Although Gu Yanting had worried that Tang Yi would leave because he disliked him, he never thought that Tang Yi could like someone else.
This knowledge made his heart ache, just like the phone call on Christmas Eve, which almost chilled him to his core. Today he personally listened to Tang Yi softly calling out someone else’s name and then softly asking, “Will you take me home?
When Tang Yi woke up the next day, his phone was almost about to explode. Last night, Mr. Chen had a comfortable time in the spa centre. When he said goodbye to his escort from ER in the morning, his face was all smiles and he promised to come to the company today to finalise the details. Who knew it was past the agreed point, but the man hadn’t arrived yet.
Tang Yi glanced at the time. He didn’t have time to regret his gaffe last night and just told his men to check the expected delivery date of Mr. Chen’s little mistress. Fortunately, the good news came ten minutes later. Mr. Chen’s little mistress gave birth smoothly today, and now Mr. Chen was waiting at the hospital.
He didn’t have to worry about the next thing anymore. Yan Ke had immediately ordered someone to pack red envelopes and gifts and rushed to the hospital. He was a little apologetic when he called and kept criticising himself to Tang Yi, “Mr. Tang, this time it was my mistake, I will definitely pay attention in the future.”
Tang Yi had taken care of him in every way since Yan Ke joined the company, almost grooming him as his successor. It was impossible to deny that the incident this time was unexpected, and even in terms of the subsequent reaction, Yan Ke’s performance was very disappointing to Tang Yi. The kind of problem this morning should have never reached Tang Yi either.
Tang Yi rubbed his brows for a moment, then sighed, “Yan Ke, don’t let me down.”
Yan Ke hurriedly replied, “I won’t.”
Huayuan’s order was basically a foregone conclusion. Next, it would be handed over to Ning Zeyu for implementation, and the rest of the work would be taken over by Ning Zeyu’s side.
Tang Yi breathed a sigh of relief. After getting up and washing, he received a call from Zhou Hao. The latter finally found time to come over. He had already booked the restaurant in advance and was going to pick Tang Yi up for dinner later.
Tang Yi was buttoning his clothes, so he held the phone with his neck, smiled and said, “Don’t go to the company, I’m at home today.”
“Oh?” Zhou Hao was taken aback for a moment, then smiled, “Did you socialise last night?”
“En, but didn’t perform well, pissed off the client and got drunk. I’m still dizzy and uncomfortable. Where are we going to eat?”
“Let me change the place, your stomach is bad.” Zhou Hao paused, “Do you want me to bring you some medicine? Were you very drunk?”
“It wasn’t great,” Tang Yi got dressed, strolled to the balcony while talking on the phone, closed his eyes and basked in the sun, “I even made a glass of celery juice for a hangover last night.”
- The eight winds, as they are called in Buddhism, are profit, loss, destruction, honour, praise, ridicule, suffering and happiness. Buddhists teach that one should cultivate to the extent that one’s emotions are not moved by any one of the eight winds.