The twilight outside of the window was splendid; music flowed from far away, and water was shining in the fountain on the lawn. Fang Jin walked across a lengthy empty hall up to the front of the door.
Before touching the dark brown knob, he heard a voice say, “Come in.”
Fang Jin looked at the knob and opened the door.
Gu Zongming sat on the leather chair behind the desk, wearing an unbuttoned exquisite suit jacket. He flipped a page of a book and read it out loud in a sluggish tone, “Cast a cold eye, on life, on death, horseman, pass by—”
“Mr. Gu.” Fang Jin lowered his head and spoke.
Mr. Gu asked in a faint tone, “What do you think about this line?”
The door was closed behind him. The noise of people had disappeared inside the room. Only the Howard Miller clock was still making a sound. It was quiet in the study.
Fang Jin swallowed his saliva and said, “I think you’d like the line of ‘hearts are not had as a gift, but hearts are earned more.”
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“’—Tlyavp yal dsv bye yp y tkqv, cwv blyavp yal lyadle.'” Qw Hsdtxkdt pxkzle yde nzsple vbl cssj, “Usxl blal.”
Wydt Kkd oyzjle wr vs bkx pvlr cu pvlr. Qw Hsdtxkdt oyp zukdt sd vbl nbyka, zkjl y alzymkdt zksd zssjkdt okvb pbyar lulp. Nyvla, bl pyke, “Zsw byhl clnsxl vbkddla. Tso eslp Qw Zwyd valyv usw?”
“…Ozela Zswdt Yypvla valyvp pwcsaekdyvlp plhlalzu.” Jlqsal prlyjkdt swv lynb osae, Wydt Kkd vbswtbv voknl, “Jlnywpl bl byp bktb aliwkalxldvp qsa bkxplzq, bl valyvp bkp pwcsaekdyvlp vbyv oyu yp olzz.”&dcpr;
Qw Hsdtxkdt eked’v vyjl kv plakswpzu, “Mbyv’p bso kv pbswze cl. Tl kpd’v y nsdpkelayvl rlapsd yduoyu.”
“Ls, R eke dsv xlyd…”
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Wydt Kkd jdlo kv oswze cl zkjl vbkp.&dcpr;
Gd ydvkiwl pblzq oyp dlmv vs vbl Tsoyae Ykzzla nzsnj. G bsakgsdvyz nswrzlv oyp bwdt sd vbl oyzz, okvb “Hbldt Msdt Sld Tl” kd y pzldela-tsze pvuzl sq nyzzktayrbu. Pwl vs vbl oakvla’p ytl yde oakpv pvaldtvb, vbl rsola sq vbl nyzzktayrbu oyp y zkvvzl olyj, cwv kv oyp pbyar yde lzltydv ldswtb.&dcpr;
Fang Jin remembered, while he was writing the calligraphy, he had been dressed in a white cotton shirt and was focusing on painting on Chengxin paper; meanwhile, Gu Zongming who sat behind was watching him full of interest. He couldn’t forget Gu Zongming’s gaze at that moment.
That gaze was like appreciating a flower, a painting, or simply looking at a beautiful bird in a gold cage.
After Fang Jin finished the calligraphy, Gu Zongming was exceptionally satisfied and put it away. The next time Fang Jin visited him, the calligraphy had already been hung on the wall.
The calligraphy looked beautiful to laymen, but professionals could notice the weakness. Since everyone assumed Gu Zongming wrote these words, they had commended, “Mr. Gu has an elegant style!” and “Good calligraphy.” A master of calligraphy even acclaimed that this piece of work was better than his, and if the writer keeps practicing, his work would be as good as Zhao Ji.
Fang Jin wanted to say he didn’t practice calligraphy for a long time, and if Gu Yuan found out about the gift, he would become suspicious. However, after thinking twice, he took the gift and replied, “Thank you. But I came here to bother you for another thing.”
Gu Zongming allowed him to speak.
Fang Jin took out the VIP black card from his wallet.
“Please take it back. I am now working in Elder Young Master Gu’s company, the salary is enough for me. I don’t need this card…”
Fang Jin’s voice was firm, but his hands were sweating. If Gu Zongming touched his hands right now, he would find out.
But Gu Zongming didn’t touch it. “You just keep it.”
Fang Jin became relaxed.
Gu Zongming smiled but didn’t say anything. He moved his body slightly, “I knew Gu Yuan would take you with him this time. Since he fired nine out of the ten people I had sent, you are the only one left. If he treats you well, it means he’s showing inferiority to me. What do you think?”
Fang Jin replied with hesitation, “I met Ms. Chi outside.”
Gu Zongming wasn’t surprised, “What did she say?”
“She didn’t say anything in front of the two young masters. But when she met me alone later, she asked how my health was and who the person I am working for is.”
“Oh.” Gu Zongming replied, “Did she mention her niece?”
Fang Jin suddenly came to a realization by recalling this man’s classic strategy of killing three birds with one stone. He said, “You intend to…”
Gu Zongming smiled, “Come here. Let me see whether you have become skinnier or not.”
Fang Jin was suspicious. He walked up to Gu Zongming under the twilight and stopped in the shadow of the Howard Miller clock. His body was slender, and his fingers trembling.
Gu Zongming chuckled and waited. After looking at Gu Zongming’s eyes for a while, Fang Jin knelt down next to Gu Zongming and put his hands on Gu Zongming’s legs.
His obedient behavior was showing irresistible submission.
Gu Zongming had the situation well in hand, but at the moment, his lazy expression changed. He looked at Fang Jin condescendingly and touched Fang Jin’s cold and smooth chin, “What did you say I intended to…”
Fang Jin moved his Adam’s apple but didn’t reply.
“I intentionally planned for Gu Yang and his mother to meet Gu Yuan and you. After she saw I sent you to help Gu Yuan, she will plan to send someone to get close to Gu Yuan too. Instead of sending her niece to me, she will send her niece to Gu Yuan…”
Gu Zongming looked excited and continued speaking, “But Gu Yuan was stubborn and will rebel. Chi Wanru isn’t Gu Yang, she’s a persistent person. In the end, Gu Yuan will fight with her.”
His fingers moved along Fang Jin’s neck, touched his collarbone, and went down into the cloth. It was like he was playing with delicate and beautiful porcelain.
Two buttons of Fang Jin’s shirt were opened. He took a breath and asked with a depressing quiver, “But why do you do that?”
“Because Gu Yang dares to fight with his elder brother.” Gu Zongming spoke slowly. “He is sleek and cowardly. After Gu Yuan caught him, he just sent money and women to please Gu Yuan. His weak tricks made me feel unsatisfied. It was like two kindergarten children playing games.”
He knew of all the infighting.
A coldness rose up from Fang Jin’s heart, but his body was trembling and tensing under the unconstrained caress. His breath became unstable.
“I told you this because I want you to keep out of the fights. Just do your job as an assistant and don’t get hurt by the fights.” Gu Zongming stuck his mouth close to Fang Jin’s ear and smiled, “You see, it’s a good thing to stay out of trouble.”
The warm breath touched Fang Jin’s sensitive ear as Gu Zongming spoke. Fang Jin suddenly caught Gu Zongming’s wrist with his sweating and cold fingers, which were white and trembling.
Gu Zongming tilted his head and looked at Fang Jin who was sweating. Fang Jin’s hair was black and smooth; his face was white as if it was soaked in water. He looked so innocent and pure.
“…” Fang Jin’s eyes were begging. After a while, he spoke faintly, “I…I have to go back later…”
After smiling and patting Fang Jin’s face, Gu Zongming stood up, looked down at Fang Jin, and said, “Take off your clothes.”
Wind from the dim corner of the room was blowing against cold earlobes and sweating necks. The sound of crying and whining was faintly discernible.
A child version of Fang Jin was crying on the stairs. His tears streamed down from his big eyes. However, he was afraid to cry out loud, so he tried to hold his tears so hard and ended up gasping repeatedly.
“Hey! Who are you?”
Fang Jin turned his head and saw a boy in a football shirt.
“…Who are you? Why are you crying?”
Fang Jin wanted to reply, but his sentence was stopped by repeated sniffs. He only shook his head.
The boy walked up and looked at him condescendingly. He looked only twelve years old but was strong and sturdy. It seemed like he had never seen a person crying before. Later, he poked Fang Jin’s face with a finger, “What happened to you?”
“…” Fang Jin answered intermittently, “My…my father and mother…died…”
The boy went silent and then said, “My mother died too.”
He sat next to Fang Jin and took a white handkerchief out of his pocket, “Here.”
The child Fang Jin wiped his face with the handkerchief while he was still crying. The whole handkerchief was soaked with his tears. The boy was stunned and shook his head, “Girls are such cry babies. Why are you here? Who allowed you to come in?”
“I am… I am… not a girl… They sold me here…”
“Ah?” The boy was surprised, “When did my family buy a little girl?”
“I am not little…. little girl… Wahhh!…”
The boy looked at Fang Jin’s tearful and delicate face without a blink and said with disgust, “The more you cry, the uglier you will look. My name is Gu Yuan, what’s your name?”
Fang Jin whimpered, “Gu Yuan?”
‘He is that Gu Yuan?!’
With the heart almost stopping due to fear, he jumped out and ran away.
“Hey!” The boy yelled, “Where are you going? Hey! Come back!”
Fang Jin jumped off the stairs and ran. He heard the boy shouting, “Hey—！Give me back the handkerchief! That’s my mother’s handkerchief!”
Fang Jin was afraid to turn back his head. He heard footsteps behind him, it sounded like the boy was running after him. He was in fear and had never run this fast before in his life until he stumbled.
He felt like he was falling into an abyss.
Fang Jin suddenly sat up and gasped several times.
An orange-yellow light lit the room. Gu Zongming sat at the other side of the bed and was looking at his laptop. He asked, “What happened?”
“…” Fang Jin tried to calm down and answered hoarsely, “No—nothing. I stumbled in the dream.”
The bedroom of Gu Zongming’s study area was the most secret place in the whole mansion. Because he always stayed here until midnight, this place contained everything he needed: a bathroom, a kitchen, a walk-in closet….
The spacious room was round. The lamp on Gu Zongming’s side was turned on. The other parts of the room were still in dim shadows. The snowy white blanket on the messy bed looked yellow under the light.
Gu Zongming stopped typing and waved his hand.
Fang Jin moved slowly toward him. Gu Zongming put his big hand on Fang Jin’s forehead and then walked inside the kitchen. Later, he was back with a glass of warm water for Fang Jin. He said, “You have a fever.”
Fang Jin’s head felt heavy, and he was experiencing heartburn.
“The low fever was caused by your psychological perturbing. You don’t need medicine.” Gu Zongming said, “Only requires some rest.”
Fang Jin drank the warm water and felt better. He turned his head and looked at his phone, which showed it was 3 am in the morning, and there were more than 20 missed calls.
He was surprised as he saw all the phone calls came from Gu Yuan. The last missed call was at 2 am. Gu Yuan must have looked for him the whole night.
“You don’t need to call back.” Gu Zongming was looking at his laptop screen. “If he can’t live without his assistant, he needs to be weaned.”
Fang Jin felt touched but didn’t show any emotion on his face. “But…there may be an emergency…”
“What kind of emergency could he have? Gu Yang invited him to join some entertainment activity.”
Fang Jin knew what kind of “entertainment activity” Gu Yang could suggest. He put his phone aside and heard Gu Zongming order, “Give me the laptop in that drawer.”
Fang Jin opened the drawer and found a laptop. Gu Zongming took it and entered a four-digit passcode in front of Fang Jin. After turning it on, he signed on the screen. The laptop showed the signature was correct. A small window jumping out on the screen showed the indication of the purchase being sent.
“What is it?” Fang Jin asked out of curiosity.
“The company signed a purchase contract, it needs the master account to transfer the money.” Gu Zongming answered indifferently, “Not your business. Go to sleep.”
Fang Jin suddenly felt suspicious and had a hint of unease. When he wanted to think about it twice, the feeling had faded.
— It was from his instinct. Having been raised by Gu Zongming, he had an acute instinct for detecting danger.
Fang Jin put his head on the soft, snowy-white pillow, and tried to link all the clues together. Nonetheless, he felt groggy, and it was hard to focus due to his fever. He closed his eyes and felt Gu Zongming tuck the quilt for him and then turn off the light.
The room went dark.
Just as Fang Jin thought, Gu Yuan was looking for him the whole night.
Once Gu Yuan had found out that Fang Jin wasn’t at the wine party, he thought Fang Jin was looking for food. When Chi Wanrui came and aggressively introduced her niece to him at the party, Gu Yuan started to look for Fang Jin to rescue him from the situation. In the end, he couldn’t find Fang Jin and lost his patience.
After the party ended, he continued calling Fang Jin’s phone number, but no one picked up. Finally, he went back home with the smell of alcohol. He knocked on Fang Jin’s bedroom door and got no reply. During his last call, as no one answered his call, he threw his phone on the ground and fell asleep on the bed.
The next morning after Gu Yuan woke up, with a gloomy expression, he sat in front of the dinner table for breakfast. The breakfast was in western style, including bread, bacon, baked tomato, and a big cup of hot latte.
Because Gu Yuan had studied abroad, this was his usual breakfast. Last night, he had become drunk with Gu Yang, but didn’t see Fang Jin’s hangover soup in the morning. He became more unhappy. Putting down his utensils on the table, he asked the butler, “Where’s Fang Jin?”
The butler didn’t dare to say anything.
Gu Yuan’s sharp eyes caught the butler’s unusual facial expression and became suspicious. Before he was about to ask more, he heard Gu Zongming’s voice behind him, “Without your assistant, you can’t eat?”
Gu Yuan turned his head and saw Gu Zongming walking down, followed by Chi Wanru.
“…” Gu Yuan stood up and greeted calmly him, “Father.”
Gu Zongming sized up his older son, didn’t say anything, and dragged a chair to sit down.
To Gu Yuan, this was the most disgusting situation. Whenever there was Chi Wanru, Gu Zongming would rebuke him much more severely. Every time, Chi Wanru would pretend to smooth the situation but only fan the flame.
People who grew up in a family of power and influence have a gift to become aware of the hypocrisy in the language from a young age. Gu Yuan learned, without being taught, to read between lines of a conversation. Even though Gu Zongming didn’t bother to give a damn to Chi Wanru, Gu Yuan had to shed all pretenses of cordiality. So, after being bothered by Chi Wanru, he always gave Gu Yang a hard time.
Gu Yuan was prepared, but unexpectedly Chi Wanru was silent. She only followed Gu Zongming and sat beside the table.
‘…What trick are you playing?’ Gu Yuan thought.
While cutting bacon, Gu Yuan glanced at Chi Wanru at the corner of his sharp eyes. Even Chi Wanru had delicate makeup, her face was pale and didn’t look like a complacent mistress. Her facial expression was inexplicable with her mouth closed, it looked like she was avoiding something.
The Gu family usually didn’t speak while dining. Gu Yuan had something in his mind, so he ate fast and walked out with big steps.
Until Gu Yuan’s back disappeared in the hall outside of the dining, Gu Zongming, with one hand holding the coffee and another hand checking his emails on the phone, asked, “What do you want to ask?”
Chi Wanru stopped eating immediately.
She had thousands of questions in her mind but didn’t dare ask any of these. After considering her words, she spoke as calmly as she could, “I only want to ask, I saw you while walking down the stairs and then went to the dining with you. It’s such a coincidence.”
Gu Zongming answered with a calm tone, “I was waiting for you.”
Under a normal situation, Chi Wanru would feel happy by hearing it. However, she only felt an inexplicable cold rising up bit by bit on her limbs. “In order to show it to the Elder Young Master?”
“You think too much. To show it to everyone.”
Gu Zongming pressed his phone and looked at her with a sedate and mysterious smile. Meanwhile, Chi Wanru saw her own reflection in Gu Zongming’s eyes, she knew her face was extremely pale.
“After Fang Jin got healed, he still worked for me.” Gu Zongming answered the questions that she had asked Fang Jin at last night’s wine party, and he smiled. “Thank you for your concern, but you remember not to tell anyone.”
“…” Chi Wanru inhaled and heard her own calm voice after a while, “I got it.”
Gu Yuan walked through the hall quickly but didn’t stop in front of his bedroom. He walked directly towards the room next door and took out the key.
All Gu Yang’s subordinates and himself stayed in the rooms next to their boss, for the convenience of setting up a meeting, discussing stabbing other people’s back, and stepping on the brothers in front of their father. Gu Yuan only brought Fang Jin who stayed in the small bedroom next to his. Last night, he had knocked on the door, but no one answered. He knew Fang Jin didn’t come back.
After walking out of the dining room, Gu Yuan got the key from the butler. When he opened the door, no one was in the bedroom, only several clothes were on the bed.
“Fang Jin?” Gu Yuan frowned and asked. He turned his body and saw Fang Jin who was in the hot tub, astonished.
Gu Yuan, “…”
Fang Jin opened his mouth and closed it, and opened again and closed. After a while, he spoke faintly, “The doorbell…. is outside.”
Gu Yuan refuted, “Why don’t you close the door before taking a bath?”
Fang Jin was speechless. He unconsciously further lowered his body into the hot water, only the part above his neck could be seen.
Actually, it was nothing. Gu Yuan once called Fang Jin to deliver his underwear while he was taking a shower in the gym. However, by seeing Fang Jin’s current behavior, awkwardness rose up from the depths of his heart. He couldn’t stop feeling embarrassed, and he moved his gaze away from Fang Jin’s neck.
“This is ridiculous.” He thought, ‘Fang Jin wasn’t a little girl. The scene shouldn’t be this awkward.’
He leaned against the door, his arms crossed, and looked at Fang Jin condescendingly, “Where were you last night?”