The office is so quiet that even a pin drop could be heard.
“… What did you say?” Li Luo laughs out of rage, “I’m being forced out of the industry? It’s true that the Li family isn’t as wealthy or powerful as before, but our name is still able to keep most people at bay. Which blind bastard dare touch me?”
Sweat trickles down Luo Peng’s temples. He pulls out a tissue, wiping his face dry before crumpling the tissue into a ball and tossing it in the trash can. He tries his best to delay providing an answer to this question.
“Won’t you tell me? I promise you I’ll show them their place.”
“This person… He really can touch you. You can’t show him his place either.”
“I… The big boss doesn’t let me say anything, or else I would’ve told you long ago—why else would I hide it from you until now? Am I looking for a scolding?”
“If you don’t tell me now, you’re looking for a beating.” Pushing against the sturdy, wooden desk, Li Luo leans towards Luo Peng and narrows his slender eyes, exuding a threatening aura. “Xiao-Luo, you know how much it hurts to get beaten to a pulp by me, don’t you?”
Luo Peng, still called “Xiao-Luo” despite being almost forty, shivers and doesn’t dare make another sound.
Li Luo has the delicate face of a spoiled young master, but he fights with more ferocity than even burglars and thieves.
This is an objective fact he realized about Li Luo the very first day they met.
Back then, he was still the head of a small entertainment company whose business had just begun. On a trip to England, he met Li Luo, who was attending college there, and was immediately captivated by the latter’s unparalleled outer appearance. At the time, Li Luo was wearing an outfit made up of expensive designer brands as he leaned against a red Ferrari. His wealthy background was obvious at first glance.
It was rather trendy for rich young masters to flit around the show-biz world, chasing the fad. Immediately, he thought about persuading Li Luo to join the industry.
Li Luo accepted his business card with a smile, saying he’d contact him if a future opportunity were to arise. His polite refusal and appropriate tone didn’t conjure any disappointment either. In fact, Luo Peng felt that it was his win simply because he was able to talk to such an individual.
However, he just so happened to add, “Do you have time later? I can introduce our company to you with more details.”
Li Luo blinked. As the wind blew past, the soft strands of his hair fluttered against his fair cheeks. Sunlight reflected against his amber eyes, flickering, and the soft, indescribable sensation stretched on.
Even Luo Peng, a man as straight as a 180-degree line, was distracted by the sight.
“I’m heading to a bar later, mister.” Li Luo maintained the smile, but he looked as if he was about to get in his car and leave.
Luo Peng hurried. “What a coincidence. I’m also looking for a bar.”
“But…” Li Luo frowned a little, seemingly in a difficult position. However, a slyness in his eyes could be seen. “I’m going to a gay bar. Would you like to come as well?”
Luo Peng paused in surprise. He suddenly felt that there was an indescribable incongruity to this young man in front of him.
It was that night when he discovered where the incongruity came from.
In the quiet alleyway at the back entrance of a bar near the campus, the dim streetlamp stood alone in the depths. Gloomy rays lit up the dirty ground beneath the lamp.
A bald man with a tattooed arm lay limply on the ground. It was evident from the heaving of his broad back that he was having trouble breathing, but he couldn’t turn around to take a breath no matter how hard he tried.
It was because somebody was firmly stepping on his back.
Luo Peng, who had just so happened to pass by, hid in the corner of the alley, clinging to the wall. He watched as the youth, so gentle and kind just a few hours ago, ground his shining leather shoe over the bald man’s waist, as he wore a dark expression. With the amount of energy the youth exerted, the shoe sunk deep into the pile of flesh. The bald man’s mouth was gagged by a strip of tape. He couldn’t even yelp in pain, and only miserable whimpers squeezed through his throat.
“Who were you calling sweetheart? Whose ass were you touching? Huh?” Hands in his pockets, Li Luo prodded the man with the tip of his shoe. He kicked the meat-mound over, and stepped right onto his deadly spot.
“Nnnng—!!” the bald man shook his head in terror, eyes wide.
“Now you know to beg for your life? You were pretty smug just now, weren’t you? Having the guts to grope me—you must’ve bullied quite a number of decent young men, haven’t you? Tonight, let me carry out justice and crush this thing of yours.”
A low wail that even the tape couldn’t smother echoed throughout the otherwise quiet back alley. Luo Peng didn’t even dare take a breath, his heart thumping and as he sweated profusely. Just as he decided to look for a chance to escape, a clang sounded beside him.
It was the sound of a soda can being knocked over.
He looked toward the source of the sound. A figure flashed past the back door.
Li Luo’s voice stopped abruptly. For a few seconds, nothing could be heard in the dark alleyway. Everything was frighteningly silent.
“Oh, hey, isn’t this Mr. Luo?”
Luo Peng almost peed his pants from the question that rang beside his ear.
So much so that even as the years passed, as soon as Li Luo approaches him, he begins to grow nervous inside. His employees all think it’s because he treasures Li Luo as a ready source of money, and that is why he allows Li Luo to behave however wilfully the young man wants to.
Hah, you naive mortals. Luo Peng thinks, If you had seen how this guy beats someone up, you’d even respect me for having the guts to sign a contract with him, alright?!
But apart from that, Li Luo is truly a loyal friend. In addition, his temper has cooled quite a bit in the past couple of years. Even if right now he’s threatening Luo Peng with his fist to tell him whom the big boss is, Luo Peng knows he wouldn’t actually do anything.
“I really can’t say it… The big boss always makes his subordinates come negotiate with me. He’s only called me once, and that was to tell me not to tell you anything. In this entire company, I’m the only one who knows the identity of the big boss, so if I said it, wouldn’t he know for sure it was me? I don’t want to die so early…”
“But you’re heartless enough to abandon me?” Li Luo asks.
“How am I abandoning you?!” Luo Peng protests, “You don’t know how much energy I spent this past month, trying to let you stay, but he doesn’t care at all—what can I do?”
“Give me his number. I’ll talk to him myself.”
“You’re going to talk to someone who wants you out of the industry? Isn’t it obvious what’s going to happen…”
“So I’m just going to let him do whatever he wants?” Li Luo glowers. “The bastard deliberately chose to kick me out when my contract’s expiring—excellent timing, isn’t it? Does he think he can bully me just because I’m not showing him what I’m capable of?”
“Don’t be impulsive. Let’s think about the long run. It’s just an endorsement, isn’t it? There are going to be many more to come. You can rest up first. Once your dear friend, I, advance into prosperity…”
“Then I should just go ahead and reincarnate instead. Maybe you’ll be successful in your next life.”
Is Li Luo saying he’d never advance into prosperity in this life?
Li Luo knocks on the table, a reminder for him to return to the conversation. “Lao-Luo, let’s be honest here. Is there still a chance for the endorsement decision to be changed?”
“Technically, yes. It’d just depend on whether or not you’re willing…”
“What do you mean?”
Luo Peng glances at him carefully. “You can get help from Jiang Liushen. He’s a good friend of yours, isn’t he? He wouldn’t just watch you struggle, right?”
Jiang Liushen is a top young actor of this country, also known as the prince of the show-biz. He’s a childhood friend of Li Luo’s as well. The Jiang and Li families have been familiar with each other since generations ago. With the Jiang family’s high ranking on the city’s richest list, there’s almost nothing they can’t work out.
“Get help from him…” Li Luo really considers it for a moment. “Sure. If you’re really in a difficult place, I won’t force you either. Just use the Li family’s name to put pressure on that blind bastard for now. If it doesn’t work, use the Jiang family. I’ll give him a heads-up.”
Luo Peng’s surprised. “You’re really asking for help from Jiang Liushen?”
“Wasn’t it your advice?”
“I only brought it up—I never thought you’d really agree to it. You hate owing others favors so much. You didn’t even go to him for what happened with your dad…”
“That thing with my dad, whoever was helping would only be looking for trouble. How could I make him help me?” Li Luo frowns, “Don’t waste so much time talking. Start doing. You still want to keep me?”
“Of course, of course. I’ll tell him right after I finish the work at hand,” Luo Peng immediately agrees. He then asks, “A-Luo, you really want the endorsement this time so much? Why haven’t I seen you work so hard for anything else before?”
“I have my own considerations.” Not wanting to discuss the topic further, Li Luo smacks Luo Peng’s shoulder as if to cheer him on. He uses so much force that Luo Peng shrinks, hunching over.
“Don’t worry. The word ‘resignation’ doesn’t exist in my dictionary. He wants me out? I’ll take his life first.”