Old Mister Gu did not expect that not long after Gu Xiaoshan returned from O City, things would change. Just like usual, he met Gu Xiaoshan in that private club. The furnishings of the tearoom remained exactly the same, and Old Mister Gu was still sitting by the same carved table. As usual, Gu Xiaoshan opened the door right on the dot, showing his control over his time management — this too was a habit he had unknowingly gained under Old Mister Gu.
Precision, self-discipline, briskness.
Old Mister Gu glanced at the stool next to him, smiling, “You’re here? Take a seat!”
This time, Gu Xiaoshan did something out of the routine. He did not choose the lower stool, but took a seat on the other side of the table. Pouring a cup of tea for himself, he sat on an equal level with his father.
Old Mister Gu was taken aback, but he did not comment about it. “Your handling of the mountain fire in O City wasn’t too bad.”
“Of course. After all, I’m the president.” Gu Xiaoshan replied with a smile.
Old Mister Gu too smiled, “Only, why has there been such a major change in the project? You’ve actually kicked Shu Jingyi out in less than two days?”
“No, he stepped out willingly.” Gu Xiaoshan smiled lightly, “Didn’t you see that agreement? He signed it himself, and even felt very apologetic for ‘breaking the contract’, and is willing to compensate us. However, in my opinion, we should go easy on him. We don’t need him to compensate anything, just as long as he can leave us the license for the casino, everything is fine. Didn’t we work with him just for this?”
“Then what about our hunting licenses in O City?”
“That’s about to expire as well. Wouldn’t it be more convenient for us to liaise with Jiu Man directly? We also wouldn’t have to pay the middleman fees!”
“You’re getting more brisk in handling matters,” Old Mister Gu chuckled. The corner of his wrinkled mouth curved slightly, “However, such a big decision, you didn’t discuss it in a board meeting?”
“I feel that my decision was very good. Also, the board of directors has impeded me too much, it’s affected my overall planning.” Gu Xiaoshan’s words became direct. A cup of tea in his hand, his smile was extremely harmless looking.
Old Mister Gu’s heart gave a thump. “What do you mean?”
“Ah, I said it wrongly. I’ve just finished dealing with Tang Guoguo’s final arrangements today… You know as well, just a large inheritance, the disputes and procedures are very cumbersome. It’s finally done today, and I’ve inherited everything of hers — including her shares of the Gu empire.”
“What do you mean?” It was the same sentence, but Old Mister Gu’s voice was not as steady as before. He clearly did not dare believe that Gu Xiaoshan would take this step.
“You haven’t been in charge for many years, and you’ve progressed in age as well. However, it’s not the same for me.”
“What do you mean?” Old Mister Gu’s voice was now higher pitched.
“Many of the shareholders have more faith in me,” Gu Xiaoshan smiled faintly. “Together with my original percentage, and the percentage Tang Guoguo left to me…”
“Enough!” Old Mister Gu’s voice turned sharp, the sound unlike one that an old man would make. Listening to it, it was somewhat pitiable. Gu Xiaoshan’s heart ached a little.
Old Mister Gu fell silent, staring at Gu Xiaoshan with murky eyes. Gu Xiaoshan was young and fit, he was popular with people, and to be able to gather enough shareholders to support him, it was not surprising. Adding Tang Guoguo’s shares to his, Gu Xiaoshan had around 30% of the shares, and Old Mister Gu had 33.3%. With Gu Xiaoshan’s years of accumulated reputation, it was nothing for him to garner the support of a few shareholders to bring him over 33.3%.
Old Mister Gu smiled coldly. “I did not think that you would be so impetuous. If you thought this way, you should have set up a meeting with the board of directors, and kick me out of the board. Doing that, you would have been prepared. Now, telling me all this, are you not just alerting the enemy? You think I’ll have no way of dealing with this?”
“You’re right. If I wanted to force you out of the board, I would have sprung this upon you,” Gu Xiaoshan spoke lightly. “The reason why I didn’t do that is because I don’t plan on doing so.”
Old Mister Gu’s eyes narrowed as he studied his son — this familiar yet foreign son. “So, what do you mean?”
“What I mean is that as a family, harmony is the most important thing. It’s the same thing in business.”
Gu Xiaoshan finished his tea and stood up. “I still have work, and I need to go back. After all, I am now placing importance on a proper work-life balance. I’ll need to focus on my work, and after work, I’ll live properly with Renzi.”
Old Mister Gu slapped the table. He used quite a lot of force, and the cups on the table nearly tipped over. Gu Xiaoshan was startled. He really did not think that his father would lose his composure like this.
“You fool!” Old Mister Gu scolded loudly.
Gu Xiaoshan was shocked just now. Now, he was extremely shocked.
Old Mister Gu had always been self-restrained and gracious. Towards his family, he had always behaved politely, with a trace of distance. When had he ever expressed himself in such a manner? Old Mister Gu’s voice quivered, “I’m doing this all for your own good! You want the company, just take it! With your ability, why would I be unwilling to hand it over to you? However, how can you hand your life’s happiness over to that unreliable casanova? Are you crazy? You want to end up in the same situation as me?”
Gu Xiaoshan could not be anymore astounded, and he took a step back. He suddenly recalled what Renzi had said, that Old Mister Gu was only worried about his happiness, and hence took such underhand actions. Gu Xiaoshan thought wryly, Renzi this fool has actually gotten it right. How did a self-proclaimed intelligent person like me not thought about this?
No, no, it was not that he had not thought about it, but he did not want to think about it in this direction. He wanted a reasonable excuse to hurt his father, to take revenge on his iciness and harshness towards him over the years.
To a certain degree, his father and him were very alike.
After the explosion, the atmosphere fell silent. Just like how they had always been, they never revealed their true feelings to the other, and they had always communicated rationally, keeping in mind their interests and profits to be gained.
Looking at each other, a young man and an old man stood by the carved window lattice. The afternoon sun shone in through the window, and the branches of the Brazilian ironwood tree swayed gently with the wind.
Dust floated through the air.
After some time, Gu Xiaoshan spoke up, “We’re both very serious about each other. It’s not like what you’re worried about.” Gu Xiaoshan’s voice was tense.
Old Mister Gu shook his head slightly, “How am I supposed to believe that?”
“With time,” Gu Xiaoshan replied. “Time will prove everything.”
Old Mister Gu raised his eyes, looking at Gu Xiaoshan. Gu Xiaoshan also watched him with a profound gaze. However, the gentleness in his eyes contrasted with the sharpness of his voice. He spoke with a determined, nearly heartless tone, “But, Renzi doesn’t need to prove anything to you.”
Renzi did not need to prove to anyone that he had already changed, and was now a loyal lover. Same went for Gu Xiaoshan.
They trusted each other, loved each other, and that was more than enough.
People who knew their relationship, most of them actually maintained an attitude similar to that of Old Mister Gu. They believed that these two profligate rich young masters would not last long together. However, few were like Old Mister Gu, insisting that it would definitely be Yu Yunren who would be the issue. Many of them felt that Gu Xiaoshan’s attractiveness was superior, and he might be the first one to cheat.
The two of them did not explain anything to others.
Just like what Gu Xiaoshan said, they did not need to waste their effort explaining anything. Time would prove everything.
The first couple of years they were together, many people talked about them. Gradually, after five years, six years, seven, eight years passed, everyone saw them as a model couple then. Now, it was already ten years, and in everyone’s eyes, they were an inseparable couple.
After that meeting with Gu Xiaoshan, Old Mister Gu no longer involved himself in his son’s matters — not only in his love life, but in the company as well. Old Mister Gu’s attitude towards Yu Yunren was as friendly as before, as though he had never disdained him. Renzi too then behaved the same, treating him like a dear elder, respecting him, and they were in harmony.
Renzi would also occasionally go over to the Gu home with Gu Xiaoshan and stay over for a few days. However, he was unable to fit in with the atmosphere of this family, and every time, he would be quite aggrieved. It would be unjust to say that Old Mister Gu and Gu Xiaowu did not treat him nicely. In fact, both Old Mister Gu and Gu Xiaowu did take care of him. It was just that staying in the Gu home, he felt uncomfortable, probably because they had nothing in common.
Gu Xiaoshan consoled Renzi, “It’s fine, our family’s like this.”
In truth, Gu Xiaoshan also was not used to it when they stayed over in the Yu home. Old Mister Yu and Yu Yuntao of course would not be impolite to Gu Xiaoshan. After so many years, they too saw him as family, and their courtesies towards him was not a pretence, but sincere. Still, Gu Xiaoshan could not get used to the Yu family’s atmosphere, and so every time he went over to stay, he did it perfunctorily.
In the end, the times they spent together alone were still the most comfortable.
Occasionally, Gu Xiaoshan would too take some time off and travel with Renzi. However, he would usually only take about a week’s off, and would not spend too much time away from work. After all, Gu Xiaoshan did have many things to take care of, and Renzi was completely understanding of that.
This time, in Country C, Gu Xiaoshan had taken a month’s off work to accompany Renzi, overwhelming him. What made Renzi even more startled was that he discovered that out of the entire month, twenty of those days had been enjoyed by the Renzi from ten years ago.
On the twenty-first morning of their vacation, Renzi woke up and finally understood everything.
The moment he fell in love with Gu Xiaoshan in 2028, it was not a dream, but reality.
It was not a ridiculous dream — the truth was even more ridiculous, he had time-travelled!
So, he shuffled out of the bedroom in slippers and looked at the worried Gu Xiaoshan, “Ah, it’s fine, I remember everything now.”
Gu Xiaoshan observed Yu Yunren doubtfully. “You remembered everything?”
Gu Xiaoshan recalled how Renzi did not seem quite right over the past twenty days, as though he really had lost his memories. Yesterday, Renzi had even promised him to go see the doctor, and yet he remembered everything this morning?
Gu Xiaoshan asked, “What did you remember?” His tone was as though he was interrogating him.
Renzi was no longer the muddleheaded person of ten years ago. He was now already very familiar with Gu Xiaoshan, and could even occasionally play pranks on him. Renzi pulled on Gu Xiaoshan’s hand, “We’ll be going to Tongzi’s banquet in two days.”
Gu Xiaoshan saw how calm and collected Renzi was, that he behaved just like usual, and gradually felt relieved. “So you were really pretending to be amnesiac to fool me?”
Renzi blinked. “Take a guess?”
Gu Xiaoshan’s head hurt. “If it’s true, then this is the most successful one out of the many lousy and stupid pranks you’ve tried to pull on me in so many years!”
In the end, Gu Xiaoshan cancelled the doctor’s appointment and made a call to arrange for the resumption of that day’s itinerary. On the day when they were supposed to attend Mu Chutong’s banquet, Renzi woke up early in the morning. Combing his hair as he looked through his clothes, he asked, “Look, what do you think about this suit?”
Gu Xiaoshan smiled, “This is a banquet hosted by Mu Chutong, you plan on robbing him of his spotlight?”
Renzi laughed, “Of course!” Renzi picked up the gilded invitation, reading the words on it, “I’ve spent a lot of money to hold this party in a castle. May the guests pay attention to their image. It’s best if everyone dresses like a prince, if not, don’t blame me for not welcoming you!”
Renzi then wore the tuxedo made out of jacquard weave that he had prepared. From his shirt, vest, to his coat, it was a complete set. In the chest of the deep black coat was a dragonfly jewelled brooch. Looking at his reflection in the mirror, he was a little worried that he would overshadow the host. Turning around, he saw Gu Xiaoshan walking out from the coatroom. He was dressed in a suit of purple-blue ombre, the colour as though out of a mermaid fantasy. Renzi was taken aback, “Are… are you going to sing in an opera?”
Gu Xiaoshan laughed as he put on his sapphire cufflinks. “This is called dressing like a prince!”
With a Gu Xiaoshan dressed like that next to him, Renzi no longer worried about whether he was overdressed.
By the time they reached the mountain, night was already falling. The car drove along the weaving mountain road. Under the shade, they could vaguely make out the outline of an historical-styled manor. With the bright stars in the sky, the red roof looked out of the ordinary. That was originally an ancient castle, and it had been refurbished to its current appearance.
Renzi’s eyes widened. “Now that Tongzi’s status is so special, he even lives in a castle?”
Gu Xiaoshan chuckled, “Mu Chutong is Jiu Man’s darling, staying in a castle is nothing! He can even be a bandit king!”
“Don’t say that, Tongzi hates it when others say he relies on a man. He has achieved everything with his own two hands.”
Gu Xiaoshan chuckled, unimpressed.
There was no one on the road, and so naturally, the traffic was smooth. They soon arrived at the entrance of the manor. This was an extremely pretty english-styled manor. Probably because Renzi was dazzled by Shu Jingyi’s manor in the past, Gu Xiaoshan decorated this manor even more extravagantly than Shu Jingyi’s one. However, in the dark, nothing could be seen clearly.
Mu Chutong was not dressed as lavishly as the two of them, only smiling as he led the two of them to the garden. There was already a group of people they were familiar with there. Even Yu Yuntao and Zhi Xuan were there, whispering into each other’s ears, looking very intimate.
Yu Yunren had yet to greet them, only looking around at his surroundings. Although it was dark, there were many lights lit in the garden. It was now late autumn, it was cold in the mountains of Country C, and all roses had already wilted. However, all sorts of winter blossoms were planted instead, and most of them were two-toned. A huge blossom with two colours, it was very pretty. Wind chimes rang in the distance, making the atmosphere even more romantic. Seeing the scenery, Renzi was delighted. “This is too pretty!”
Gu Xiaoshan smiled, “As long as you like it.”
“What’s the point of me liking it?” Renzi’s voice had a trace of envy, “This is Tongzi’s manor.”
“It’s yours.” Gu Xiaoshan suddenly said.
Renzi was shocked. “What?”
“Even I’m yours, what’s so strange about this manor being yours?”
Renzi was joyfully surprised. Just as he was about to say something, he heard an explosion, giving him a shock. When he lifted his head, the sky was lit with fireworks, the sight even more gorgeous than the garden.
“You, you…” Renzi looked down to see Gu Xiaoshan kneeling in front of him. In his hands was a ring box, and the glittering diamond in it was even more resplendent than the fireworks.
Renzi pinched himself harshly. It really hurt.
A storm of tears came over him, he was not sure if he was crying because of the pain.
Yu Yunren understood then, whether it was 2018 or 2028, the love of Yu Yunren and Gu Xiaoshan was not a dream.