Edited by Asa
Li Shuo returned to the dining room, and his mother was surprised. “You’re back so quickly? Where’s Jinxin?”
“It’s a little cold outside, so we came back. He’s in the bathroom.”
“It is a little cold at night. When the weather is nicer, we’ll dine by the lake.” Mrs. Zhao smiled, “Li Shuo, I hope you’ll have more interactions with Jinxin in the future. I don’t like that he’s always with his group of similarly aged friends. They’re often doing some dangerous extreme activities, unlike you. The ones you participate in are both healthy and safe, and you’re a very steady person as well. If Jinxin were to associate with you more often, he would definitely be able to learn many things.”
“Thank you, Aunty. I’m only a few years older than Jinxin, and I might not be able to teach him anything. However, if my experiences in life can aid him in any way, I’ll of course be more than willing to help.”
Dressed in a suit with leather shoes, Li Shuo looked extremely distinguished, and his bearing was naturally elegant. Mrs. Zhao could not help but exclaim, “Li Shuo is truly perfect. There should be many girls who like him, right? Does he have a girlfriend?”
“Ahh… Not yet.” Mrs. Li tugged at her hair a little uncomfortably. Although they accepted their son’s sexual orientation, Chinese people were still conservative. This was after all not something to be shouted from the rooftop, and so they were not very willing to let too many people know about it.
Li Shuo smiled cheerily. “I have a boyfriend.”
His statement caused everyone to freeze.
Li Shuo had always spoke very appropriately, and was never interested in proclaiming his sexual orientation everywhere. He only wanted to take this opportunity to send Mr. and Mrs. Zhao a message: Persuade your son to stay away from me.
Mr. Li glanced at Li Shuo with disbelief, unable to understand what he was thinking.
Zhao Rongtian was the first to react. “… Oh. Oh, umm, young people do have their own choices.”
Mrs. Zhao smiled awkwardly as she could only nod her head in accompaniment.
Li Shuo raised his glass at them, composedly taking a sip.
Not too long after, Zhao Jinxin returned. Upon sitting down, he immediately asked, “Da-ge, are you free tomorrow? Let’s play tennis.”
Li Shuo smiled as he stretched his arm. “I’ve just played a round with my dad this morning. It’s been a while since I’ve last played, and I now have muscle ache. We’ll play next time.”
He glanced at the expressions of Mr. and Mrs. Zhao with the corner of his eye. Both had obviously just exhaled in relief.
Zhao Rongtian coughed lightly. “What tennis? We have to go to the office tomorrow for a meeting.”
“Oh.” Zhao Jinxin seemed to have just recalled it. “Then I’ll see you tomorrow at the office.”
He pulled out his phone. “Da-ge, how about giving me your phone number?”
When he spoke the words “phone number”, he revealed an ambiguous smile that only Li Shuo understood.
Without a change in expression, Li Shuo took his phone out. With a few taps, he then pushed his phone lightly. It slid across the table, and he looked at Zhao Jinxin with a vague smile.
Zhao Jinxin picked up the phone and saw his number in the blocked list. Smiling, he removed his phone number from the list, then pushed the phone back. “In the future, I’ll need Da-ge to take care of me.”
“You’re too polite.”
After dinner, the family of three bade farewell.
Immediately upon getting into the car, Mr. Li spoke rather unhappily. “Why did you have to tell them about that?”
Li Shuo was very calm. “It’s unsuitable for me to work with Zhao Jinxin, as he’ll create trouble for me. It’s best if his parents can make him stay away from me.”
Mr. Li did not say anything, only sighing heavily.
Mrs. Li persuaded him. “Our son has never done anything impulsively. Zhao Jinxin has been pampered since young, and maybe he’s really not suitable for this cooperation.”
“True. I’ve heard that that child is a playboy, and I don’t know if he truly has any capability or not. Xiaoshuo, I won’t force you to do anything. You can make your own decisions.”
Li Shuo threw an arm around his dad’s shoulders, shaking him slightly. Gently, he smiled, “Thanks, Dad.”
The next morning, the father and son of the Li family arrived at the main headquarters of the En Nan group. The receptionist led them to the meeting room. Other than Zhao Rongtian and Zhao Jinxin, there were also two other people who looked like they held high positions, and a secretary in the room.
When the two entered the meeting room, other than the board chairman Zhao Rongtian, all others stood up.
This was the first time Li Shuo saw Zhao Jinxin dressed in a proper suit. He was even half a head taller than the pot-bellied foreigner standing next to him. Dressed in a metal grey three-piece suit, accompanied by a tie of the same colour, his slender waist and long legs were emphasised. Looking competent and deft, it seemed as though he could be featured on a fashion magazine. Li Shuo was unable to control his thoughts about what sort of perfect body was hidden under the clothes — after all, he had seen it before.
The group exchanged small talk, and Zhao Jinxin took the initiative to pull out the chairs for Mr. Li and Li Shuo. “Uncle Li, Da-ge, please take a seat.”
Li Shuo wondered. Just looking at how Zhao Jinxin is acting so properly, who would have guessed that he’ll be someone to ask for a one-night stand upon acquaintance, and even send a half-naked photo?
If not for the fact that he already had Li Chengxiu waiting for him, he would have been interested in going to the apartment mentioned by Zhao Jinxin to “take a look”.
Zhao Rongtian did not have the same warmth and friendliness from yesterday, and looked just like the ideal leader of a conglomerate. He first introduced the two men. One was his director of strategic development, and the other was his finance director that he would be assigning to China. He then briefly talked about his thoughts about expanding into the northern China market, and said that what he wished for Li Shuo to do was to provide advice with regards to the local policies and tax laws, as well as working together on audits.
When he finished speaking, Zhao Jinxin started the powerpoint presentation, elaborating on their plans. The company was now still in the hiring phase, and their organisational framework had yet to even be completed. However, the company’s long-term development seemed to have been decided far ahead by the father and son of the Zhao family, and they had already thought about a few years in advance.
If this was a small company, Li Shuo would have felt that they were overambitious, as well as arrogant. However, with the name En Nan hanging on the wall, his evaluation — just like what his dad had said — was that Zhao Jinxin was someone with great foresight.
As for Zhao Jinxin, he also managed to let the Li father and son change their minds about his capability. There were a number of questions that he had managed to answer with great depth, and he definitely did not have the experience of someone who had just graduated. Actually, during their conversation on the plane, Li Shuo had known that this person was definitely not just some rich second generation resting on his parents’ laurels.
After the morning’s discussion, Li Shuo was actually very interested in this cooperation. Not only could it provide a substantial benefit for his company, working with En Nan group would bring about an enormous increase in prestige, whether for him or his company.
If he were to reject this deal based solely on personal issues, it would be such a great waste. Also, there was completely no reason for him to fear Zhao Jinxin’s “sexual harassment”. He should have faith in his own morales and resolution.
After the meeting, Zhao Rongtian still had to handle other matters. He asked Zhao Jinxin to take Li Shuo around the company, and treat him to lunch.
Walking out of the office, Zhao Jinxin led Li Shuo to look around the various departments of En Nan group. This office building was located in Midtown Manhattan, and it was only two streets away from Rockefeller Center. The price of the land here was astounding, and En Nan group occupied four storeys, renting out the other floors.
It was not an exaggeration to say that even if Zhao Jinxin were to be more conservative, with his family background, there would be countless people willing to throw themselves at him. Unfortunately, material goods held not much of an attraction for Li Shuo. After all, he was lacking in nothing. He worked because he enjoyed the sense of accomplishment his work brought him, and not for money.
The office was filled with employees, and so Zhao Jinxin put on a proper front. However, once they were in an empty breakroom, he showed his true colours. Leaning suddenly towards Li Shuo, he exhaled into his ear, “Are you thinking that I’m very good looking in a suit? You couldn’t stop staring at me just now.”
Li Shuo took a step back, smiling. “Admiring beauty is an innate ability of everyone.”
“Well said.” Zhao Jinxin reached out, gently straightening Li Shuo’s tie as he gave a profound looking smile.
Li Shuo looked at his watch. “I won’t occupy your lunch time, I’ve an appointment with a friend.”
“A friend? Why don’t you get him to join us? It’ll be my treat.”
“It’s not too convenient. I’ll take a raincheck.”
Zhao Jinxin shrugged, “Fine then, I’ll walk you downstairs.”
The two people walked to the underground garage. Li Shuo held his hand out, “Thank you for today. When you’re back in China, contact me. If there’s anything, we’ll just communicate through the phone.”
Zhao Jinxin grasped his hand, smiling. “Sure, we’ll cooperate deeply with each other.” He deliberately placed a strong emphasis on the word “deeply.”
Li Shuo ignored his glib tongue. He pulled his hand back, opening the car door.
“He’s called Li Chengxiu, right?” Zhao Jinxin had his hands in his pockets. He looked at Li Shuo lazily, as though he did not have a single bit of awareness about his alarming words.
Li Shuo stiffened. He turned his head, his face darkening. “You did a check on me?”
“The 21st century is the information age. I’m only trying to understand you a little better, don’t take it so seriously.”
Li Shuo narrowed his eyes. “Zhao Jinxin, I’ve shown you a lot of tolerance. Don’t go overboard.”
“Are you getting angry? I’ll apologise, ok?” Zhao Jinxin smiled, “I’m sorry, I was only… curious. He’s so thin and scrawny, can he satisfy you?”
Li Shuo grabbed Zhao Jinxin’s lapels. With a spin, he shoved him forcefully against the car door.
Zhao Jinxin raised both arms, but there was no change in the leisurely smile on his face. “You don’t seem to be as principled as you said you are. Aren’t you still the third party in someone else’s relationship? Why do you have to oppose me like this?”
Li Shuo spoke coldly, “What the fuck do you even know.”
He was truly furious. Previously, no matter how Zhao Jinxin flirted with him, he was more resigned than unhappy. After all, he would not hit an apologetic person, and Zhao Jinxin did not offend him. However, his words just now had poked at the very point he did not want others to ever mention. Furthermore, Zhao Jinxin had even ran a check on him!
“I really don’t know about it, but I agree completely with your actions.” Zhao Jinxin blinked, “Just take whatever you want, and if you can’t get it, just snatch it. Isn’t this the nature of a man? You did a great job.”
“Things are not what you think they are. Li Chengxiu and that bastard…” Li Shuo closed his eyes. Why did he need to tell an outsider about this? When he opened his eyes again, his gaze was sharp and clear. “Our matters have nothing to do with you. If you cross the line with me even just one more time, I will no longer give you any face.”
Zhao Jinxin burst out laughing. “You’re really an interesting person. I like you. I’m only just doing the same thing you did, why are you so afraid? Are you scared that you wouldn’t be able to resist me, or that you’ll see yourself in me?”
Li Shuo’s hands tightened around his lapels, his fists clenched. His eyes looked so savage as though he was about to commit a murder.
Their eyes met for a moment. Zhao Jinxin did not have a single trace of nervousness, and there was only amusement in his eyes the entire time.
Li Shuo exhaled, letting go of Zhao Jinxin in the end. He did not like violence, and he liked losing his self-possession even lesser. He straightened Zhao Jinxin’s lapels, then pushed him away. Opening the car door, he entered.
Zhao Jinxin held onto the door, smiling wickedly. “Darling, if that’s the type you like, I’ll bet that you’ve never experienced a true orgasm before.”
Li Shuo was about to explode in fury. He removed Zhao Jinxin’s hand, closing the door.
Suddenly, Zhao Jinxin gave a resounding cry of pain.
Li Shuo got a shock. He looked up, only to see that Zhao Jinxin’s hand was trapped between the car and the door!
He hurriedly opened the door. It was clear from Zhao Jinxin’s expression that he was not faking it. Anxiously, Li Shuo spoke, “Why, why didn’t you remove your hand… How is it?”
“Ow, ow ow ow ow ow.” Zhao Jinxin bent over, holding his hand. It was so painful that he was gasping. “You’re too small-minded.”
Li Shuo sucked in a deep breath. “I swear I didn’t do it on purpose. Get in the car, I’ll take you to the hospital.”
Zhao Jinxin sat in the passenger’s seat, sweat starting to bead on his face. He twisted about. “Ow ow ow it really hurts.”
Li Shuo pulled the seatbelt over him, fixing it. “You’re already so old. Just endure it for a little while more. Who asked you to hold onto the door?”
Zhao Jinxin looked at Li Shuo. His eyes were drooping, his lips pouting slightly, and he seemed extremely pitiful.
Li Shuo sighed, feeling somewhat guilty. “I’m sorry, but I really didn’t do it on purpose.” Although you deserve it too.
“If you give me a kiss, I’ll believe you.” Zhao Jinxin blinked innocently at him.
Li Shuo pushed his head away. “Sit properly.”
When they arrived at the hospital, Zhao Jinxin’s four fingers had already swelled up like a balloon. Dark purplish bruises could be seen on his hand, looking very terrible.
Looking at the x-ray, it was fortunate that there were no breaks in his bones, and his skin was also not torn. The doctor gave him an ice pack, prescribing him with oral and topical medication. The only thing left was rest and recuperation.
Li Shuo looked at Zhao Jinxin whose right hand was temporarily disabled. He had a huge headache, feeling that Zhao Jinxin was about to start relying on him.
As expected, Zhao Jinxin waved his hand. “Send me back? I’m not able to drive in this condition.”
Li Shuo rubbed his temples. Picking up the medication and the report, he sighed, “Let’s go.”
Li Shuo had thought it would be impossible that he would ever go to that apartment that Zhao Jinxin kept mentioning. Unfortunately, things were always unpredictable, and there he was.
With a step in the door, certain moving images immediately appeared in his head. The blame had to be laid entirely at Zhao Jinxin’s feet for daring to say anything and everything.
Zhao Jinxin fell onto the sofa, saying pitifully, “It hurts so much.”
“What can we do? You can only ice it now. It’s also not very serious, the swelling would go down in a few days.”
“It hurts, it hurts, it just hurts.” Zhao Jinxin put on a plaintive, puppy-like expression.
Li Shuo sighed. He removed the ice pack, carefully holding onto his head. Those slender and beautiful fingers were now swollen like carrots, and Zhao Jinxin did have some internal injuries. Li Shuo touched his fingers gently, then replaced the ice pack. “Just keep it iced for a day first, then use a heat pack the next day. I’ll separate the medication into the amount you need daily, and set an alarm on your phone. Remember to take your medication on time.”
“So what happens after that? You won’t care about me anymore?”
“I… What else do you want me to do?”
Zhao Jinxin pouted. “I’m hungry, do you know how to cook?”
“I do. What would you like to eat?”
“Just take a look at what’s in the fridge and decide.”
Li Shuo took the cushion from the sofa, inserting it under Zhao Jinxin’s head. “Take a rest first. If it hurts, just endure it for a bit. Although the doctor has prescribed painkillers, it’s best that you don’t take any.”
Zhao Jinxin quietly looked at him, nodding his head. His obedience was completely different from his usual self.
Li Shuo thought about it, then reached out and ruffled his hair to console him before standing up to cook.
Zhao Jinxin watched his figure vanish into the kitchen, and quietly whistled.