The atmosphere instantly turned awkward.
Lin Yue Hua’s public relations assistant straightforwardly logged out of the group video chat in self-preservation. The person in charge of bangbang also logged out a few seconds later, leaving only Lin Yue Hua on the French window screen.
Before Tong Yan could react, she hurriedly tried to smooth things over: “What are you saying? It’s a good idea right now, what’s the point of bringing up such a distant matter?”
“Tong Tong, don’t misunderstand, okay? This is just how your Brother Xiang Ming usually speaks. He always ruins the atmosphere, but he doesn’t mean anything by it. Don’t take it to heart.”
Tong Yan said hurriedly: “I know Auntie … I know that brother is just thinking about me. He thinks that I’m too young, so he doesn’t want to drag me into these sorts of messy things.”
Lin Yue Hua stared blankly. Tong Yan had long felt that his sweater and pajama bottoms combo was inappropriate. He couldn’t help but feel that he was being disrespectful to his elders, so he was a little embarrassed: “But although it’s just rumors, I don’t think it’s a good idea to let it run free. After all, if someone starts a rumor, there’ll always be someone to spread it. That…that photo …”
Pausing, he glanced at the highlighted image on the shared screen again. He was wearing Zhuo Xiang Ming’s jacket, and it was even crooked. Zhuo Xiang Ming was carrying him, and his two arms were looped around Zhuo Xiang Ming’s neck. Looking at it now, the ambiguousness practically overflowed from the screen, why didn’t he notice it at that time?
Thinking of this photo being released to prove that he and Zhuo Xiang Ming’s marriage was solid, and that there was no affair taking place, Tong Yan’s face burned even more, stumbling over his words, “I-if it will work, I don’t have a problem with it. Later, I can explain it to my dad and brother, um … It doesn’t matter what other people think, it has no effect on me.”
“Plus, not everyone will necessarily recognize me. You know, these kinds of photos are just a novelty, they’ll immediately forget my face as soon as they turn around.”
He was too caught up in his embarrassment, not noticing the meaningful look exchanged between Lin Yue Hua and Zhuo Xiang Ming.
“I’ll take care of the next steps, just look out for anything you can help out with.” Zhuo Xiang Ming said.
Zhuo Xiang Ming ended the call with Lin Yue Hua after that brief statement. Swiveling the ergonomic office chair, he pulled Tong Yan closer until he was next to his knees, then he touched Tong Yan’s face with the back of his hand.
“!” Tong Yan flinched away, resembling a startled cat. “W-what are you …”
“You’re blushing.” Zhuo Xiang Ming said.
Tong Yan immediately denied: “I’m not!”
“Oh?” Zhuo Xiang Ming raised an eyebrow, then stretched out his hand again, this time touching Tong Yan’s cheek with his palm, “So, why is this so red? It’s even hot to the touch.” He asked earnestly.
Tong Yan said stubbornly: “It’s only a little red.”
Zhuo Xiang Ming: “It’s very red.”
He was really quite wicked, even stressing the word “very”.
Tong Yan opened his mouth and attempted to defend himself, but it was futile.
Zhuo Xiang Ming’s expression was as unperturbed as always. When he spoke, his upper body subconsciously leaned forward slightly, and his eyes looked at Tong Yan very earnestly. It really didn’t look like he was making fun of Tong Yan. He has never made fun of Tong Yan, every word he said was earnest, and that made Tong Yan feel even more ashamed and shy.
Tong Yan felt that he still wasn’t determined enough. Just thinking about that photo being put up for evaluation on the Internet, he couldn’t help but feel panicked.
——But the hand that was on Tong Yan’s face wasn’t removed, the finger tips were resting against the scalp, and a few strands of Tong Yan’s hair were draped across the back of the hand.
It was already after nine, the eventful morning was coming to an end. After the video call ended, the French window was restored to its transparent state, and the morning light poured in, brightening Zhuo Xiang Ming’s work corner with warmth.
Dust floated disorderly in the light, and the two moved closer together. Zhuo Xiang Ming’s ergonomic chair was adjusted to suit his height, so even if he was sitting and Tong Yan was standing, Tong Yan could just barely meet Zhuo Xiang Ming face to face.
His hair was meticulously arranged, the eyes that looked at Tong Yan were ink dark, and because of his high eyebrow-bridge, his eyes seemed all the more charming and deep. Together with a straight nose bridge and lovely lip shape, everything came together to create a handsome and solemn face. Asceticism and the natural warmth of home clothes existed in harmony on Zhuo Xiang Ming’s body. Plus, they were so close—
This was simply cheating.
Tong Yan blushed and backed up two steps, rescuing his face, but his wrist was trapped in Zhuo Xiang Ming’s other hand.
At some unknown point, the scent of cape jasmine and cedarwood filled the corner, they merged after a short collision, appearing familiar and intimate, not resembling the helplessness of the owners—he’d grown too comfortable leaving here with Zhuo Xiang Ming, even his habit of putting on his isolation patch before stepping out of his bedroom had faded away.
Zhuo Xiang Ming also looked away, but instead of simply letting go, he gently placed Tong Yan’s wrist back to his side: “Sorry.”
Tong Yan shook his head: “No, no, it’s not …”
“It’s my fault.” Zhuo Xiang Ming turned to turn off the shared screen, “It’s my fault.”
“It’s because you’re so handsome.” Tong Yan said suddenly. He blushed deeply, but his eyes were clear, and he looked at Zhuo Xiang Ming earnestly, asking him to believe that every word he spoke was sincere, “Just now, when I was a little absent-minded and a bit shy, it was because you’re too handsome. But y-you said, that this is normal.”
“Yes, it is.” Zhuo Xiang Ming tidied up the sheets of printer paper on the table while he said, “Go up and change your clothes first, we need to leave soon.”
If Tong Yan had a little bit more experience, he would’ve been able to see through Zhuo Xiang Ming’s clumsy cover up, unfortunately, he really didn’t have it. He immediately took Zhuo Xiang Ming’s words as truth, and his embarrassment quickly disappeared. So, with his hands clasped behind his back, he walked back to Zhuo Xiang Ming’s side once more: “Where are we going?”
Zhuo Xiang Ming subconsciously clenched the hand holding the printing paper, leaving behind finger sized creases.
“There’s an interview, you and I have to go.”
“Huh?” Tong Yan was stunned, “Will I be interviewed too?”
Zhuo Xiang Ming turned to look at him: “Do you want to be interviewed? It’s a very famous magazine.”
“Do I want to … I’m not interested.” Tong Yan smiled, “Except for my home’s yearly report, I haven’t seen this sort of spectacle, and I’m not a celebrity … It feels quite strange. But if brother needs me to cooperate, I’ll go with you.”
Tong Yan: “Then what should I wear? Should I dress formally?”
Before moving in, two of his wardrobes were filled by Lin Yue Hua. They were all seasonal clothes, slightly thicker ones were few, but they were stuffed with a lot of formal clothing sets, it’s just that Tong Yan hadn’t gotten a chance to wear them yet.
Zhuo Xiang Ming: “No, there’s no photoshoot today.”
On his schedule, the secretary unit specifically outlined this. “Saturday at 10 o’clock, appointment with The Financial Observer at the company’s office. We only gave a half hour interview slot, at 11 o’clock, there’s a meeting with senior management, so no pictures are arranged to be taken.”
Tong Yan agreed to go, so Zhuo Xiang Ming didn’t hold back, saying: “Immediately forgetting after turning around, that’s unlikely.”
Zhuo Xiang Ming: “That picture.”
Tong Yan paused for a moment, before realizing that Zhuo Xiang Ming was referring to his previous sentence, “These kinds of photos are just a novelty, they’ll immediately forget my face as soon as they turn around.”
Zhuo Xiang Ming had turned his back to him, so he couldn’t see his expression–but seeing it would also be in vain, since he always had one expression.
He was indirectly complimenting him, Tong Yan’s face burned, and his heart raced. He felt an inexplicable sweetness, the corners of his mouth pulling up as he skipped upstairs.
After he left, Zhuo Xiang Ming glanced at his cell phone. There was a message from Lin Yue Hua, sent soon after they’d disconnected: Isn’t Tong Yan a good boy?
With a few swipes of his thumb, Zhuo Xiang Ming replied: Yes.
Forget about the others, Zhuo Xiang Ming himself was taken aback by the topic of divorce. But how could Tong Yan understand? Indeed, he didn’t draw the worst conclusion, by why didn’t he subconsciously feel that Zhuo Xiang Ming was one-sidedly afraid of getting emotionally attached?
In the past, Zhuo Xiang Ming credited many of Tong Yan’s good behavior to his upbringing. But as they lived together, he slowly realized that Tong Li Qin and Tong Yang really did provide Tong Yan very good material conditions for his growth, but Tong Yan’s goodness had no source. That was just the way he was.
He would remember a pair of shoes that his older brother bought for him several years ago, but he wouldn’t remember their extreme negligence during his most important period of growth.
Thursday night, when Zhuo Xiang Ming was removing the Internet browsing privileges on Tong Yan’s cell phone, Zhuo Xiang Ming misclicked and accidentally saw Tong Yan’s call records. Tong Yan had called Tong Li Qin five times, but it never connected. At that time, Tong Yan was next to him, so he saw the screen. Continuing to fiddle with the Lego pieces in his hand, he explained: “He’s busy. I leave a voice message when I miss him, and he usually calls me back when he sees it.”
But Tong Yan wasn’t simple-minded. He was meticulous and intelligent. He thoroughly understood what to say and at what time to say it. He knew how to read body language. He seemed to be able to make the people around him comfortable without much effort.
Years of life experience taught Zhuo Xiang Ming that this sort of apparent effortlessness best reflected one’s character.
Tong Yan was a bright and enthusiastic young man. Easily depressed, but also easily able to gather up courage. He always loved with 100 percent energy, and likewise endured pain with that energy.
A tree growing in the barren wilderness would plunder large amounts of nutrients and water, but Tong Yan’s growth just required some more care from his elders, just a little more would be good.
A week later.
The financial circle’s authoritative magazine “The Financial Observer” announced that it was out of stock of its bi-weekly magazine for October. In this day and age, where the use rate of paper on the market has long been greatly reduced, this news was shocking.
After all, a financial magazine had a small audience. If it was only because a big shot in the business world like Zhuo Xiang Ming had appeared, although this big shot was particularly handsome, it would probably be difficult to achieve such a phenomenon.
It was undoubtedly because the discussion that started last week on OUKM about the big shot and his spouse had not yet cooled down. Because of malicious guidance by some accounts, opinions about the reason for the two’s marriage differed, and Zhuo Xiang Ming’s affair seemed to be accepted as fact. Tong Yan was viewed in the frame of the “victim”, and received inexplicable sympathy and well-wishes.
Some of the buyers of this monthly issue were genuinely interested, but most were just looking for entertainment.
While eating instant noodles, they flipped through the pages, wanting to see just how the two would lie, deceiving others by dressing up a business marriage as a loving one.
But shockingly, this financial magazine, which sold for 138, full edition 450g premium, full-color printing, so heavy it could be used to smash a pervert, clearly contained no gossip. Throughout the interview with Zhuo Xiang Ming on pages 13-16, the entire article was related to industry.
The “clueless” reporter finally got to the point at the end of the interview:
[I saw that your wife also came here with you, but he didn’t come in. Did he especially come to wait for you? Your relationship is really warm.
It is my shame to write, that after hearing this question, the young chairman who already had two independently listed companies in his hands immediately corrected me: My husband.
It seems to be a common practice for mated omega, male or female, to be referred to as ‘wife’. It’s not an agreement, but many people did it, and few people raised objections. But I have to admit, this is indeed outrightly offensive. At least from today, this writer will no longer refer to any mated male omega as a wife.
Back to the topic. He then touched the coffee cup by his hand, but didn’t pick it up, as if to mask the smile that he couldn’t block in time when the topic of his partner was brought up: He happened to be free this weekend. He’s waiting for me to finish my next meeting, then we’ll visit the hospital again.]
In the four-page interview, this content accounted for less than one-third of the last page. The discussion about the illness was only a couple of sentences. The reporter thanked Zhuo Xiang Ming, and he left, his assistants helping to clean up the scene.
The malicious people mocked, ridiculing that this journalist had probably been offline for ten years, and that the upper class were “deep in the act.”
On the RPS forum, poisonous sugar was once again added to the desk-mate cp, licking and shouting, “Don’t bring it into reality.”
However, along with the sold-out monthly magazine, at exactly 4 o’clock that afternoon, when office workers weren’t sleepy or hungry, but weren’t in the mood to work. Before the end of the work day, at the peak period of slacking off, OUKM’s official account released an apology: Recently, the account ‘Big Dog Let’s Get Wasted Tonight’ caused a controversy, which brought about significant harm to Mr. Zhuo Xiang Ming and his partner Mr. Tong Yan. At the same time, it corrupted the social app’s environment. OUKM hereto issues a sincere apology to the victims, and hopes that the users treat this as a warning, and interact within the confines of the law from now on.
Shining bright in the lower right corner was the official seal of OUKM. As soon as this news was released, the netizens ridiculing that ‘money can buy everything’ didn’t get a chance to fill out a whole comment page when the recently silent “cp stans” came out en masse with a face slapping set meal.
Zhuo Xiang Ming had posted an update on his company’s OUKM account with only three words: Share these photos.
A total of three pictures, a lawyer’s letter: The gossip blogs responsible for reposting more than 300 unreliable news reports have all been added to the defendant’s list; The verdict: the court found that these accounts were infringing on the rights of the client, and have committed varying degrees of privacy violations. The crime of starting and spreading malicious rumors has been punished by proportionate periods of criminal detention and proportionate amounts of economic penalization.
The last picture was from the most authoritative public hospital, an impossible to fake diagnosis certificate:
Time – 9.28, 3:21 am
Patient – Tong Yan, 18yrs
Diagnosis – Mild pheromone disorder.
Recommendation – Shot of tranquilizer and rest. Keep away from pheromone-dense areas.
getting emotionally attached- lit. lotus roots may break, but the fiber remains joined (idiom); lovers part, but still long for one another
RPS- Slang for ‘Real Person Slash’, the shipping of real-life people, usually BoyxBoy. If you guys don’t remember, CP is slang for ‘Couple’
Another difficult chapter to translate, but it might just be because I was exhausted. Oh well, at least the romance is progressing.