Liang Chong focused on his work in the study for a while when he heard Ning Yiwei calling him from outside the partially open door.
“Liang Chong, Liang Chong, Liang Chong,” Ning Yiwei’s voice approached.
Liang Chong looked up but didn’t stand up, attentively watching the doorway.
After a short while, a hand held onto the door frame as Ning Yiwei poked his head in and said, “You’re working.”
Ning Yiwei had a towel in his hand, and the water dripping from his wet hair left dark stains on the edge of his pajama t-shirt.
Taking too long to wash, his entire body felt as if it had been soaked in steam from the bathroom. Even the joints of his fingers, holding onto the towel, were pale.
“What’s the matter?” Liang Chong asked him.
“Oh, I can’t blow-dry my hair properly,” Ning Yiwei said embarrassedly, “I wanted you to help me.”
Liang Chong nodded, closed his computer, stood up, and accompanied Ning Yiwei to the guest room’s bathroom.
The steam in the bathroom had dissipated. Liang Chong fetched a chair for Ning Yiwei and asked him to sit in front of the washbasin. He turned on the hairdryer and reached out to tousle Ning Yiwei’s hair.
Ning Yiwei had fine and soft hair, which was not easy to dry. In addition, Liang Chong was not skilled, so despite blowing for a long time, it only became partially dry. Ning Yiwei rarely enjoyed such treatment and acted like a lord, leaning back in the chair and constantly giving advice to Liang Chong.
“The airflow is a bit close,” Ning Yiwei said with closed eyes, enjoying the sensation, “It seems a little hot.”
Liang Chong silently moved the hairdryer a bit farther away. Ning Yiwei then said, “It’s too far now, it won’t dry.”
Liang Chong couldn’t bear it any longer. He turned off the hairdryer and coldly said, looking at the smug Ning Yiwei in the mirror, “Quiet and sit up straight.”
Ning Yiwei’s privileged time came to an end after only three minutes.
Reluctantly, he glanced at Liang Chong, sat up straight for a while, and then lazily slumped onto the marble washbasin, burying his face in his elbow, appearing completely defenseless.
Ning Yiwei’s t-shirt was not long enough, revealing a small section of his white waist. His spine slightly protruded, looking fragile and as if it could be snapped with a single hand.
Liang Chong remembered it very clearly, the moment he first realized his feelings for Ning Yiwei.
The winter two years ago was colder than usual, and even the usually snow-free D City experienced below-zero temperatures. There was even a day when it rained and snowed for half an hour.
Liang Chong took over the company about half a year ago. Kang Minmin stepped down from the board of directors and went to the southern hemisphere with her husband for recuperation. Liang Chong became incredibly busy, hardly ever having his feet on the ground. He either slept in the company’s rest area, on airplanes, or in hotels in different locations. He rarely had the chance to go home in a month.
He gave Ning Yiwei a keycard to his home, just in case Ning Yiwei wanted to go there when he wasn’t around. But Ning Yiwei was a bit absent-minded and the access card would always vanish into thin air. Liang Chong had the secretary request five new ones from the property management, but within just half a year, Ning Yiwei had already claimed them all.
Liang Chong was coming down the gangway when he received a call from Ning Yiwei. The driver was waiting nearby, ready to open the car door for him.
Liang Chong was exhausted that day and didn’t want to say a word anymore. His secretary held the phone for him. Perhaps finding it difficult to say the words “Little Slave,” the secretary awkwardly stopped Liang Chong and showed him the screen. Ning Yiwei rarely called Liang Chong, so he took the call, pressing the answer button.
“What’s the matter?” he asked Ning Yiwei.
Ning Yiwei was clearly hesitating. He turned the question back to Liang Chong, “Where are you?”
“At the airport.”
“Are you going out?” Ning Yiwei seemed to be struggling, and his speech slowed down.
Liang Chong got into the car and waited for the driver to close the door. He told Ning Yiwei, “Just got back.”
“Um,” Ning Yiwei paused for a few seconds and cautiously asked him, “Are you going home today?”
Liang Chong was really tired and had been listening to Ning Yiwei beating around the bush. Some hidden impatience he couldn’t conceal emerged, “What’s the matter anyway?”
“I lost my card again,” Ning Yiwei said pitifully, “And the air conditioner at my place is broken, and my parents are also not at home.”
“If you come back, I’ll wait for you at the café across from your residential community,” Ning Yiwei added.
“I’m coming back,” Liang Chong said, and after hanging up the phone, he told the driver, “No need to go back to the office, let’s go to my house.”
The sedan smoothly made its way out from the terminal. Liang Chong looked at the sky outside the car window. The sun had gone below the horizon, but there was still a lingering glow, so it couldn’t be considered nighttime just yet.
It took forty minutes from the airport to Liang Chong’s house. Liang Chong reclined his seat and took a brief nap. When the driver stopped at the entrance of the residential community, Liang Chong woke up right on time. He sat there for a few seconds, picked up his coat from the side, and got out of the car.
Ning Yiwei sat at the window seat of the café, with a half-drunk cup of coffee in front of him, and he was busy typing away on his laptop, doing who knows what. Liang Chong walked over and tapped on the glass beside Ning Yiwei. Ning Yiwei jumped in surprise, quickly turning his head to look, eyes wide open like a startled rabbit.
Liang Chong couldn’t help but smile.
Regardless of everything, the weariness from days of traveling was chased away by Ning Yiwei’s solid presence sitting there.
Ning Yiwei put away his laptop, paid the bill, and walked out of the café, slowly making his way to Liang Chong. He carried the warmth of the café with him, which also made Liang Chong feel warm.
“You’re done so early today,” Ning Yiwei said, “You’re not going to the office, right?”
Liang Chong made a sound of agreement and said, “Let’s go.”
Liang Chong’s home was in the tallest building near the lake. He let the driver go back and led Ning Yiwei inside. The two of them didn’t converse. Ning Yiwei followed closely behind, quietly entering the apartment lobby and taking the elevator.
The elevator doors opened, and as the two of them walked into the room, the doors closed behind them.
The room was maintained at a constant temperature of 28 degrees Celsius. Liang Chong took off his coat and threw it on the nearby rack. Suddenly, Ning Yiwei called out, “Liang Chong.”
Liang Chong turned around and saw Ning Yiwei smiling at him, holding a neatly packaged square box. He said to him, “Happy birthday.”
Liang Chong felt like his heart stopped beating for at least half a second before it resumed its regular rhythm. He didn’t remember himself, his parents didn’t mention it, and maybe his subordinates were afraid of seeming impolite, so they collectively remained silent.
The only person in the world who proactively wished Liang Chong a happy birthday was Ning Yiwei.
Seeing Liang Chong motionless, Ning Yiwei said, “You even forgot it yourself.” He took a couple of steps closer and placed the gift into Liang Chong’s hands. “How can you successfully manage a company with such a poor memory?”
After walking outside for a while, Ning Yiwei’s hands became cold. They touched Liang Chong’s hand back and palm, cold but soft.
“Ning Yiwei,” Liang Chong stared at Ning Yiwei and said, “You have a good memory, yet you managed to lose all five cards.”
Ning Yiwei pursed his lips and took out a slightly thick cardholder from his pocket. He showed it off to Liang Chong with a little smugly face. “You’re so easily fooled. Zirui and I dismantled an old cellphone and installed a tracker in this cardholder. I won’t lose cards anymore.”
He added, “I wanted to trick you into going home, you know.”
“Do you want to see what the gift is?” Ning Yiwei kept talking that day, asking Liang Chong, “Open it and take a look.”
Liang Chong untied the ribbon on the box, removed the wrapping paper, and opened the cardboard box.
Ning Yiwei gave Liang Chong a small transparent glass model box, with glass on both sides like mirrors, and a very small and shiny object sandwiched in between.
“It’s a model of a cesium atomic clock,” Ning Yiwei explained, “I made it myself. The small object in the middle is a diamond. You know, diamonds are one of the biggest lies of this century. But Zirui said gifts shouldn’t be too cheap, so I bought one and put it in there.”
Liang Chong held the beautiful little box, lowered his head, and examined it carefully without looking at Ning Yiwei.
“Wishing you to have time,” Ning Yiwei said, “although it’s not very realistic.”
After a while, Liang Chong found his voice again and said to Ning Yiwei, “Thank you.”
“It’s nothing,” Ning Yiwei immediately responded, “But I didn’t buy you a cake. If you want one, you can go to the café across the community and buy it yourself. I saw a 6-inch one in the fridge. It’s too cold outside, so I won’t go. If you go, could you bring me a cup of hot cocoa?”
“You want hot cocoa?” Liang Chong caught the key information in Ning Yiwei’s words.
Ning Yiwei felt certain that Liang Chong wanted to send him downstairs to buy it. He didn’t want to go out at all, so he adamantly denied it, “No, no, I meant if you go, you can bring me a cup.”
Liang Chong forgot how he ended up walking to the café, carrying hot cocoa and a cake back home. He only remembered when he entered the door, Ning Yiwei was already sleeping on the sofa.
There wasn’t much difference between Ning Yiwei at nineteen and seventeen years old. He appeared somewhere between youth and adolescence, with a perpetual curl at the corner of his lips, displaying a hint of immature stubbornness.
He wore a somewhat fitted thin sweater, and compared to the large sofa, he seemed small and frail. He lay there casually, with one arm hanging down from the edge of the sofa, his hand touching the carpet. Liang Chong half-knelt beside Ning Yiwei, observing for a while, tentatively reaching out to grasp Ning Yiwei’s wrist. Ning Yiwei’s wrist was warm, so delicate that it felt like it could slip away from Liang Chong’s hand at any moment.
Liang Chong gently kissed Ning Yiwei’s forehead, eyelashes, nose tip, and cheek, then moved away, carrying Ning Yiwei to the guest room and closing the door behind him.
Because Ning Yiwei was still young and knew very little, he should be given the freedom to choose.
Ning Yiwei’s hair was dry.
Liang Chong silently helped Ning Yiwei put on his clothes and packed away the hairdryer.
What a nerdy baby ( •̯́ ^ •̯̀)
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