Later, Duan Mingyang came by the counter a few more times to pick up drinks, and he looked as gloomy as always. No matter how hard Li Luo tried to joke and strike up a conversation, his attempts were futile.
“That’s weird. What’s wrong with him today? Usually I can get at least some sort of response from him,” Li Luo complained. His gaze chased after the broad figure moving through the people. The lights swung about, criss-crossing, but Duan Mingyang’s eyes never met Li Luo’s.
“Sir…?” A male voice was heard next to him.
Li Luo looked to the side. It was the waiter named Andy. For some reason, he had returned.
“What is it?”
“Hehe… Nothing, really. I thought you looked a little bored, sitting here alone. I have some spare time right now, so I can keep you company for a while.”
Li Luo looked him up and down. His appearances were decent, but the fawning smile on his face made him look a bit smarmy, which detracted from his looks.
The waiter probably saw that Li Luo was rich and so he no longer wanted to work. If he took this opportunity to gain some affection from Li Luo, he might be able to earn something better than the tips of serving drinks.
“No thanks.” Li Luo didn’t care to pay him any attention. His eyes returned to the room, searching for Duan Mingyang’s figure.
“Sir… You’re interested in that waiter, aren’t you?” Andy pointed in Duan Mingyang’s direction. It seemed as if he couldn’t help but speak up, “Oh, you’ve been here so many days already, and he always ignored you. Even I feel a little sorry.”
Li Luo said, “You feel sorry? Then do you have any ideas about how to make it so that he won’t ignore me anymore?”
Andy replied, “I have no clue either. Duan Mingyang is working here, but his family’s actually hella rich! It’s only natural that he doesn’t think much of you…”
“Oh? He’s rich?” Interested, Li Luo finally turned around to look at him properly. “Tell me. How is his family rich? And how did you know?”
Immediately, Andy grabbed another bar stool and sat down. He leaned in and spoke secretively, “I saw it with my own eyes!
“I was out shopping one day, and I saw him talking to a middle-aged man. That man looked like his dad, and he drove a super expensive car. There were four or five bodyguards ‘round ‘em — he’s definitely the richest of the rich!
“I think Duan Mingyang’s dad wanted Duan Mingyang to go with him, but the two started arguing in Mandarin. I didn’t understand a word. I just saw him leave his dad and storm into a mall.”
“I wanted to follow him in and talk to him to make him feel a little better, but I saw him walk into a designer store and buy a wallet, just like that. My God, it was over two thousand pounds! I really didn’t understand his way of venting his anger. How much do you think we get from our hourly wage? Rich people gonna be like that, huh.”
“That doesn’t sound right,” the eavesdropping bartender butted in. “If Duan Mingyang is really so rich, why is he working every day at a shabby bar like ours?”
Andy snorted. “Who knows? Maybe he wants to feel what it’s like to be poor.”
“But wasn’t his mom sick? Didn’t he need a lot of money for the operation? His dad isn’t helping them out, even just a little?”
“How would I know? I just know that he’s actually really rich.”
Li Luo’s fingers tapped on the countertop rhythmically. He considered the degree of validity of these words.
Duan Mingyang’s pride was even greater than his. If he truly was some young master, how could he be willing to live in such a run-down rental? And would he be willing to work in such a chaotic work environment, filled with the horrid stench of alcohol, tobacco, and sweat?
Unless there was something he could not accept.
Like help from his dad.
Right, how did Duan Mingyang describe his dad that night?
“He toyed with my mom’s feelings. He had abandoned us for years, but now he wants to take me back. My mom said yes. I said no.”
Along with Andy’s story, everything seemed to make sense now.
The only reason why Duan Mingyang could pay such an expensive tuition was probably because his dad sent him to study abroad and paid his tuition for him. His mom probably helped convince him too, or else he’d never have agreed to it, considering how much he hated his dad.
Now that he was overseas, his dad still wanted to do something for him, but his mom was no longer by his side — he no longer had to bow to his father who’d abandoned him. He was willing to give up a decent living condition for the sake of his pride.
What a dramatic mess.
The whole story unfolded within Li Luo’s mind. He couldn’t help but admire his own deductive ability and imagination.
“A-Luo, what are you thinking about?”
“Huh? Oh, nothing. I was just thinking… Why are you telling me all this?” Li Luo looked at Andy. “Whether Duan Mingyang is rich or not — what does it have to do with me?”
Andy said, “I’m just giving you advice here, no? Don’t waste time and money on him. He doesn’t care. And he’s not worth it.”
“If he’s not worth it, you think you’re worth it?” Li Luo said coldly, “I don’t care what his background is. I just want him. Even if I can’t have him, I won’t be interested in you either — get it?”
Andy’s expression darkened. However, his fuming glare wasn’t directed at Li Luo, but behind Li Luo instead.
Turning around, Li Luo was startled by Duan Mingyang, who was standing behind him with a sinister look on his face. Li Luo didn’t know how much of their previous conversation did Duan Mingyang hear.
“Is it that interesting?” Duan Mingyang’s eyes were frosty. “The staff room wasn’t enough and so you’re still talking about it out here?”
Andy had nowhere to vent his anger. He cursed, “I’ll shut up, I’ll shut up. I can’t afford to piss off a daddy’s boy like you, of course. If you get mad and call your dad on me, I’d—”
Startled, Li Luo stood up.
The bartender accidentally shattered a glass.
Even the DJ on the dance floor stopped. As the music came to a halt, the other customers knew something was wrong. They all directed their attention to where the commotion came from.
“Have you had enough?”
One step after another, Duan Mingyang made his way towards Andy, who had been sent flying with the kick. Exuding a cold, ominous aura, Duan Mingyang looked down upon him.
“If you have, then shut your mouth.”
Stunned, Li Luo gulped.
Fuck. He was so badass.
Andy held his stomach, trembling in pain. He shouted at the bartender in rage, “What are you doing? Call the cops! He kicked me!”
Many of the customers also saw Duan Mingyang attack Andy. They agreed, “Yeah, call the cops!”
“What a scary waiter…”
“He looks so aggressive…”
“Nobody would have the guts to come to this bar again!”
“That’s right. Tell your boss to fire him…”
Duan Mingyang tilted his head slightly to the side. Most of the chatter silenced at once.
He ripped the tie off his uniform and threw it on the ground. With wide strides, he went to the staff room, took his clothes and backpack, then walked out of the bar’s door, ignoring all other comments.
Recovering from his shock, Li Luo immediately followed him out. He spread his arms outside the door and stopped him.
“Wait! You’re leaving just like that?”
“He’s calling the cops. Should I stay and wait to be arrested?”
“It’d be fine. I could help you deal with them.”
Duan Mingyang walked around him. “Yes, you’re rich. You can deal with them. But I don’t need your pity.”
“Don’t misunderstand. It’s not pity. I just want to help you, that’s all.”
Li Luo grinned. “There’s no why. Didn’t I say I want you? It’s normal to want to help out the person you like, isn’t it?”
Duan Mingyang’s feet halted. “… Like?”
“Yeah, haven’t I told you I like you?” Li Luo stepped forward and hugged his arm, swinging it flirtatiously. “I like you a lot. Why else did I ask if you wanted to be my boyfriend?”
Duan Mingyang was silent for a moment. Staring into Li Luo’s eyes, Duan Mingyang said slowly, “You’re lying.”
Of course I’m lying. It’s not as if I’m into men, Li Luo thought. Yet, he spoke as if he’d been wronged, “How could you doubt my sincerity? I heard it’s your birthday today. I even prepared a present for you.”
Duan Mingyang glanced at the gift bag he was holding. “I never wear jewelry.”
Li Luo grinned. “This isn’t for you. They’re all feminine styles…”
Duan Mingyang immediately pulled his arm out and walked straight toward where he lived, ignoring Li Luo.
Li Luo knew he made a mistake. He chased after Duan Mingyang, trying to make up for it. “Hey, hey! It’s for my mom! I got a cake for you! Wait for me! I have to be the one to sign for the cake delivery — just bring me back with you… Walk slower, Duan Mingyang!”
Perhaps his persistence had melted the iceberg’s heart, or perhaps Duan Mingyang really couldn’t stand all the noise he was making. Either way, Li Luo’s wish finally came true — he was able to enter that rental for the second time.
“Your place is quite clean for a guy.” Li Luo turned around at the same spot. He could only turn around where he was, as the room came to an end if he took just another step.
“Why can’t guys be good at cleaning?”
“I was just saying. The servants are usually the ones cleaning up my house. I don’t really know.”
Duan Mingyang snorted in mockery.
Li Luo was worried Duan Mingyang would kick him out again, and so he chose a few nicer things to say. “You gave Andy such a good kick back there! Sharp and ruthless, no-nonsense, you kicked him all the way from the counter to the wall — you’re definitely a model combatant! Could you teach me?”
“How do you know it’s a good kick?” Duan Mingyang asked, “You fight a lot?”
Li Luo quickly came up with something. “I’ve been doing self-defence ever since I was a kid. I watch other people fight a lot.”
“Then have you fought before?”
“I’ve never fought anyone! Even when people provoked me, I’ve always had the bodyguards deal with them.”
He couldn’t tell from Duan Mingyang’s expression whether Duan Mingyang believed him or not. Duan Mingyang only said, “As expected of a young master.”
Li Luo let out a sigh of relief. He wanted to find another topic, but Duan Mingyang started changing right in front of him.
They were only a few feet apart. Li Luo could even smell a faint odor of sweat from Duan Mingyang’s body. It felt as though he was being enveloped in rich, assertive male hormones. It invaded his breath, almost as if anywhere the scent ventured had become Duan Mingyang’s territory.
He’d always hated the stench of sweaty men, but for some reason, he didn’t hate it right now.
The wrinkled shirt now hung on Duan Mingyang’s muscular forearm. Duan Mingyang glanced at Li Luo through his messy hair. His eyes were dark — there seemed to be an unknown fire within.
As if burnt by the fire, Li Luo felt his heart skip a beat. Suddenly recalling that he was supposed to keep up an innocent character, he spun around, shyly saying, “G-Go change inside…”
Duan Mingyang didn’t answer. He casually threw his uniform onto the ground and began to take off his belt. Yet, he didn’t walk toward the bathroom, but instead towards Li Luo.
“Didn’t you say you like me?”
The sound of the belt’s metal buckle was extremely crisp in the small room. It seemed as if Duan Mingyang’s low voice was right beside Li Luo’s ear.
“I’ve already taken off my clothes. Don’t you want to do something?”
Li Luo took a step back. “I-I prefer to go step by step. This is too early — hey!!”
Duan Mingyang grabbed his arm and pulled forcefully. Instantly, Li Luo’s vision spun as he crashed onto Duan Mingyang’s hard bed.
Li Luo bared his teeth, cursing in a low voice, “Fuck!” Just as he turned around, he felt a weight above his body. Duan Mingyang pressed against him, pinning all four of his limbs on the bed.
“What are you doing?”
“You begged me to bring you inside in the middle of the night, day after day. Isn’t this what you want to do with me?” Duan Mingyang lowered his head and took a deep breath of the light cologne wafting from the scattered hair at Li Luo’s collarbone.
Next, Duan Mingyang brushed his cold lips against a warm patch of skin at Li Luo’s neck.
“Wanna do it?”
Li Luo quivered. His scalp tingled; goosebumps crawled up his body. Holding back what he really felt, he persisted. “I-I thought you didn’t like me…”
“Who said I can only do it with you if I like you?”
Beside Li Luo’s ear, Duan Mingyang let out a warm breath, in spite of how cold his words were—
“I just pity you.”