Li Yiming almost choked on the lobster when he saw the angry woman in front him.
“Why are you here?”
The same question spoken with two different voices.
But as soon as Li Yiming blurted out his question, he realized the obvious answer. This was a Yunlong Construction Group charity event, so it was not surprising that the crown prince of the corporation brought his new favorite, so he can introduce her to upper society and show her off at the same time.
Ji Xiaoqin frowned, ‘What are you still pretending at?’ She turned around and glanced at the crowd, ‘This is no place to talk, if he starts causing trouble, my ambitions of entering the upper echelons of society would be ruined.’
“Come with me.” Ji Xiaoqin pulled Li Yiming towards the nearest exit without explaining herself further nor letting him answer.
‘What’s going on?’ When Chen Jiawang noticed the two leaving through an inner corridor, he wanted to stop them, but did not dare to voice his intentions. ‘Why is the crown prince’s consort pulling that man into that corridor? Why is she going toward the VIP resting area?’
‘Gasp! The melodramatic life of the rich and powerful!’ Chen Jiawang sighed. He maintained his composure despite his curiosity and shock, and took a few steps away from the exit. He pretended to have not seen anything as he silently recited article 19 of the staff rules – See no evil, hear no evil…
Ji Xiaoqin, stricken by panic, did not stop to think about where exactly to bring Li Yiming to. Her mind was besieged by anger, guilt, anxiety, and worry. She pushed him inside the first room she could find and looked at him in the eyes. It was not very different from their earlier confrontation back at the residential block, for both of them were at a loss for things to say. Furthermore, the circumstances seemed to have complicated themselves further now, so the pair simply stared at each other in silence.
“Yiming, you…” After reflecting upon the matter time and time again, Ji Xiaoqin finally decided to speak. She had yet to pronounce a syllable when the sound of steady footsteps was heard through the door. With lightning speed, Ji Xiaoqin opened the door of a cabinet behind Li Yiming and shoved him inside before diving into it herself. The next moment, the door was flung open, and it sounded like several people entered the room.
‘Close call…’ Ji Xiaoqin became quite agitated; there was no way she would be able to talk her way out of being found with Li Yiming, her ex-boyfriend, at a venue belonging to her new boyfriend. It would be a scandal of egregious proportions for the girlfriend of the prince of Yunlong to be caught red-handed like that.
In the narrow cabinet, a familiar scent wafted into Li Yiming’s nostrils. That fiery body, glued to him, enkindled his memories of its softness, its delicacy, the fragrance it carried and… ‘No more, nothing more to add…’
“Did you get to the bottom of it?” An imposing voice was heard, timely interrupting Li Yiming’s litany of nostalgia.
“Yes, mostly, Chairman Guo,” respectfully replied another voice.
‘Chairman Guo?’ Li Yiming and Ji Xiaoqin’s hearts skipped a beat.
“It was Wang Jianjun from the procurement department, sir. He embezzled two hundred tons of steel rebar. It wasn’t supposed to be anything serious, given the overall length of the highway. Two hundred tons is only the equivalent of removing a single bar every three meters. However, it seemed that he didn’t communicate it properly to the engineering department. By the time the project was almost finished, they realized that they didn’t have enough… As a result…”
“As a result, he decided to use bamboo for the last five kilometers?”
“Useless trash! IMBECILE!” Chairman Guo angrily smashed the table. “Where is he?”
“After the accident, he escaped to his mistress’s residence in Jintian. He knows that he has nowhere to run…”
“More than a hundred lives… Let him stay. Take care of this yourself. Keep a close eye on him.”
“Yes, Chairman Guo. I’ll make arrangements immediately.” The footsteps were heard leaving the room.
The two inside the cabinet did not dare to go out right away. The subject of the conversation froze them in place. Ji Xiaoqin was less affected by the content itself, since her mind was still fully preoccupied by whirling thoughts of betrayal and having an affair, which shadowed over her hopes for a marriage into wealth, and made her deaf to the conversation outside. Li Yiming, however, sank into a deep rumination after overhearing the conversation.
Within the pitch-black cabinet, they could barely see each other, despite being only inches apart. Ji Xiaoqin’s uneasiness grew as time passed. It was only yesterday when she was having an affair behind Li Yiming’s back, but right now, it was as if she was having an affair with him in this cabinet… Her heart tingled with an indescribable feeling.
“Let’s get out.” Ji Xiaoqin said with a deep breath. It took all of her courage to give the door a push. She carefully peeked around before quickly dashing out of the room.
Li Yiming also sighed at the ridiculousness of the situation. He shook his head and followed her.
They returned to the main hall. Fortunately, the speech was over, so everyone had dispersed into small groups, chit-chatting about all kinds of matters. No one seemed to have noticed the two people that joined in, except for a waiter who stood near the entrance. When he saw Ji Xiaoqin’s flushed face and noticed her ostensible uneasiness, he once again began to chant article 19 of the staff rules.
Ji Xiaoqin blended back into the crowd, leaving behind a bored Li Yiming. He had also lost interest in the lobsters, he grabbed a drink rather mindlessly and searched for the Qing sisters.
“Li Yiming?” cried out someone. Guo Xiang, with Ji Xiaoqin in his arms, slowly approached Li Yiming.
After Ji Xiaoqin returned to Guo Xiang, Guo Xiang’s attention was inevitably piqued by Li Yiming’s “outstanding” attire. Guo Xiang, per usual, did not dawdle and immediately walked toward Li Yiming.
“What brings you here?” Guo Xiang looked at Li Yiming with a smile while his arm circled around Ji Xiaoqin’s waist.
The small detail caught Li Yiming’s eyes, and he was annoyed by it without quite knowing the reason. However, he remained unfazed, which was something he became good at after going through today’s events. He quickly organized his thoughts into an answer.
“Finally, I found you!” A gentle and sweet voice was heard. A soft, pale hand pulled at Li Yiming’s wrist. “Where were you?”
“I went to grab something to eat…” Li Yiming turned his head and saw Qing Qiaoqiao. He secretly let out a sigh of relief, for Guo Xiang’s question was quite the predicament. ‘What could I have said? An investigation on infidelity compelled by morality? An inquiry about corruption instigated by civic duty?’
Fortunately, Qing Qiaoqiao’s timely arrival had distracted Guo Xiang from the subject.
Tonight, Qing Qiaoqiao was dressed in an emerald robe, revealing her fair arms. With high heels, her height surpassed 170 cm, adding a svelte feeling to her figure. Her beauty rivaled that of Ji Xiaoqin. However, there was a clear difference in their temperaments. Compared to Ji Xiaoqin’s air of nouveau riche, which readily jumped to the eyes of any observer, Qing Qiaoqiao exuded an innate grace that was fresh and pure.
Guo Xiang was very shocked. ‘How can it be?’ When Guo Xiang befriended Li Yiming, it was to obtain his help for pursuing a girl in his class. However, the latter’s indifference made Guo Xiang, who was used to being spoiled and flattered, very irritated. Fortunately for Li Yiming, Guo Xiang needed his help, so he did not deign quarreling with a poor loser, that is, until Ji Xiaoqin threw herself into his arms. In fact, Guo Xiang did not give much thought about Li Yiming anymore. After seeing him today, he merely planned to approached him to flaunt and annoy him for daring to look down on him in the past.
However, he did not expect that after he had barely gone to bed with his girlfriend, someone like Qing Qiaoqiao, who clearly outshone Ji Xiaoqin, would appear by his side. ‘The hell?’ Guo Xiang felt like someone who had just bought a car and went to his friend to show it off, only to find out that the latter bought a more expensive and better car. ‘Not only that, the car I’m using is a damned second-hand from him!’ Guo Xiang, who was used to being treated like a prince, found all of this unacceptable.
“Honorable lady, your appearance is truly mesmerizing. I am Guo Xiang of Yunlong Construction Group. Guo Tai is my father. May I inquire your name?” Guo Xiang behaved with his best manners, extending his right hand toward Qing Qiaoqing like a gentleman.
“Should you praise another woman in front of your companion? Is it appropriate?” Qing Qiaoqiao threw a glance at Ji Xiaoqin, who stood on the side, and ignored Guo Xiang’s outstretched hand.
“We are only friends,” Guo Xiang blurted out. His eyes had not strayed away from Qing Qiaoqiao ever since she appeared.
Li Yiming looked at Ji Xiaoqin, whose face revealed a trace of desolation.
Her face looked paler than ever. Ever since meeting Li Yiming again, her mind fell into disarray. The sudden melodramatic twist of events reminded her of one of those television dramas on TVB1.
It was only last night that the rich man, with whom she had an affair with, lulled her with sweet words. Who would have thought that now, he would be flirting with another woman right in front of her! Not to mention that she was intimately tugging onto her ex-boyfriend’s arm… More importantly, the reason of her discomfort was probably due to her self-confidence being completely obliterated by Qing Qiaoqiao.
Qing Qiaoqiao was quite shaken when she heard “Guo Xiang”. Qing Linglong had told her earlier that she was to obey Li Yiming tonight. ‘This Mr. Li… First, that outfit of his… Isn’t this what he wore this morning? Why is he dressed like this to the gala when, strictly speaking, we’re supposed to be undercover? How can he blend into the crowd with such a conspicuous attire? Anyway, Guo Xiang, Guo Tai’s only son… Big sister went to great lengths tonight to become acquainted with the people from Yunlong Construction Group without much success. Yet, he simply walked around, and a moment later he’s talking with Yunlong’s inheritor? Furthermore, that crown prince’s consort…’ Her intuition told her that there must be something between Li Yiming and Ji Xiaoqing.
‘Big sister was right. Amongst the three people she invited, Mr. Li is the most mysterious… and probably the most dangerous one… ‘
She turned toward Li Yiming and affectionately brushed off the pieces of napkins that stuck to his hair when he wiped his sweat. Afterward, she cast a passionate gaze at him. A look full of fondness; her eyes, thoroughly obsessed; her smile, deeply suggestive; and her gaze, blind to all else.
This long stare of infatuation irritated Guo Xiang, upsetted Ji Xiaoqin and excited Chen Jiawang, who was serving wine nearby, but the one who was most moved was its recipient, Li Yiming.
Li Yiming felt his heartbeat quicken. A feeling of dryness climbed up his throat, he thought it was rather pitiful that a simple look was enough to make him almost dizzy. Perhaps owing to the little experience he had, having only ever been in a relationship with Ji Xiaoqin, he found this kind of hot gaze barely tolerable. If Guo Xiang and Ji Xiaoqin weren’t there, he might turned into a beast and attacked her on the spot. ‘What’s wrong with her? Didn’t we just meet this morning? But, I’m not that kind of man…’
“Um… Qiaoqiao, where’s your sister?” Li Yiming wanted to extricate himself as soon as possible from this awkwardness; Qing Qiaoqiao was enough to make him completely forget about Guo Xiang and Ji Xiaoqin.
“Sis found the air here stuffy, so she went out for a change.” The truth of the matter is, Qing Linglong went elsewhere to collect more information.
“Oh! Then, let’s go find her. Well, if you’ll excuse me.” After uttering a short excuse, he broke free from Qing Qiaoqiao’s grip and fled the scene without waiting for a response.
Qing Qiaoqiao snapped out of her astonishment and chased after him. ‘You’re leaving? Wasn’t this a brilliant set-up of stirred love and drama between you two? Amidst the blades of anger and the blows of jealousy, it would have been easy to collect information! How can you leave just like that? I’d say my performance was pretty good. Look at Guo Xiang’s expression… and his companion’s expression… Everyone is ready to dive into their roles, and like a director, you just said ‘cut’ and leave?’
1. TVB (a.k.a Television Broadcast Limited) is the first wireless commercial television station in Hong Kong. For more informations, click here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TVB
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