Liang Chong hung up the phone and disappeared from the live stream interface.
The director switched the camera a few times but couldn’t find Liang Chong. The host was surprised, “The ceremony hasn’t ended yet. The next agenda is the chairman’s speech, but Mr. Liang seemed to have left through the side door. It isn’t very logical.”
The camera turned back to the stage, where Kang Minmin accompanied Liang Qichao towards the edge of the stage.
Liang Qichao walked up to the stage, adjusted the microphone slightly, and tested the sound.
“Hey, he made a phone call and left,” said the guy who had been watching the live stream with little enthusiasm. Upon hearing the host say Liang Chong had left, he suddenly became interested, twirling his pen and asking enthusiastically, “Where did he go?”
“He must have come to see you,” the girl sitting across from him, who had been focused on reviewing case records, suddenly looked up, glanced at his empty tablet screen, and said, “To see how much contribution the junior made to our Finance Department in the three years since enrollment.”
“Hey, sis,” the guy leaned back and waved his hands repeatedly, “I’m sorry, don’t scare me.”
While Liang Chong had nothing to do, Ning Yiwei and Zhou Zirui spent the day feeling dizzy and unwilling to work on their presentation slides. The two of them ordered some snacks, sat aside, and eavesdropped on the Finance Department students discussing the classic acquisition case. They listened with great interest and even bought a few introductory economics books together.
After half an hour, Liang Chong messaged Ning Yiwei, “I’m at the West Gate, come out.”
Ning Yiwei said goodbye to Zhou Zirui and walked out with his laptop bag. He walked a short distance and bumped into Liang Chong who was coming in from the West Gate.
Liang Chong looked different from the live stream earlier.
He had taken off his suit jacket and was wearing a shirt, trousers, and leather shoes. He ran his fingers through his hair that had been meticulously styled with hair gel, perhaps trying to appear more casual and blend in with the crowd.
However, the students walking around the campus were dressed too casually, wearing T-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops. Liang Chong stood out among them, and Ning Yiwei noticed him at first glance.
“Ning Yiwei.” Liang Chong also spotted Ning Yiwei. He stopped in his tracks, lifted his chin slightly from a three-meter distance, and said to Ning Yiwei, “Why are you walking so slowly?”
Seeing Ning Yiwei not saying anything, Liang Chong took two steps and approached him. He held Ning Yiwei’s face briefly and quickly let go.
“Still daydreaming,” Liang Chong said.
Since he was much taller than Ning Yiwei, he had to lower his head even to pinch Ning Yiwei’s face.
Ning Yiwei lifted his face and locked eyes with Liang Chong. Liang Chong’s gaze was both proud and mischievous, as if he held something that Ning Yiwei couldn’t quite understand—something that would make Ning Yiwei inexplicably flustered.
“I wasn’t daydreaming,” Ning Yiwei denied softly.
Ning Yiwei averted his gaze, looking around aimlessly. Suddenly, he felt that he could compare his heart to an elastic ball with initial momentum. The ball bounced elastically inside a sealed box, undergoing a repetitive and uniform collision, which should remain constant.
But Liang Chong was the one altering the momentum of the elastic ball. He was the antagonist, making the ball irregular, causing it to bounce rapidly and chaotically inside Ning Yiwei’s chest.
Fortunately, the box walls were thick, and only Ning Yiwei knew how vigorously the ball was jumping, allowing him to maintain an appearance of nonchalance. “I’ll show you how fast I can walk now.”
Saying that, he dashed forward in a flash, only to be yanked back by Liang Chong.
“Stop running around,” Liang Chong hugged Ning Yiwei, firmly holding his shoulders, preventing any further mischief.
Embraced by Liang Chong, Ning Yiwei fine-tuned his theory of the little ball absentmindedly, walking along the path until they reached Liang Chong’s car.
Inside the car, Ning Yiwei remembered and asked Liang Chong, “Have you eaten?”
Liang Chong glanced at Ning Yiwei, started the car, and said irritably, “Now you remember to ask me if I’ve eaten.”
“So you have eaten,” Ning Yiwei said, feeling quite pleased, squinting his eyes and smiling, as if he had won a small victory.
Liang Chong raised his hand and lightly tapped Ning Yiwei’s forehead with his knuckles. He said, “Had a quick meal outside the venue.”
He drove westward, and as Ning Yiwei noticed the car leaving the urban area at a fast pace, he couldn’t help but ask Liang Chong, “Where are you taking me?”
Liang Chong glanced at the blue road signs and turned right at the intersection, taking the winding mountain road up to the western hills of City D. With a cool tone, he countered Ning Yiwei’s question, “Aren’t you exceptionally smart? Can’t figure out where I’m going?”
Challenged about his intelligence, Ning Yiwei chose to remain silent.
After another ten minutes, Ning Yiwei couldn’t hold back any longer and asked, “Where are we really going?”
Liang Chong glanced at him, just about to speak, but Ning Yiwei preemptively admitted with a guilty conscience, “I’m really so dumb!”
Liang Chong was amused by Ning Yiwei’s antics and reached out to tousle his head. “I’m taking you to a construction site. You don’t even know the location of the new campus.”
“Oh,” Ning Yiwei couldn’t escape Liang Chong’s grasp, shrinking into the seat. After a while, he pitifully asked, “Which construction site?”
In the distance, there were scattered lights, likely from the construction site’s temporary sheds. Liang Chong adjusted the steering wheel and drove out of the mountain road through an opening, heading towards the source of light.
The road to the construction site seemed unfinished, with rough and bumpy terrain. Ning Yiwei swayed back and forth in his seat for almost half a minute until Liang Chong finally came to a stop.
“What construction site is it, exactly?” Ning Yiwei thought that Liang Chong hadn’t heard him earlier and persistently asked.
“It’s the construction site of that Professor Kong’s underground laboratory,” Liang Chong’s face was in the darkness, so Ning Yiwei couldn’t see his expression clearly. But from Liang Chong’s tone, it seemed tinged with a hint of helplessness. “You said last Thursday on the phone that you really wanted to see it. Did you forget?”
Ning Yiwei paused, suddenly enlightened. He told Liang Chong, “But even if we go, we won’t be able to enter.”
“Although we can only see it from the outside today,” he comforted Liang Chong, “there will come a day when I can take you inside for a visit.”
Ignoring him, Liang Chong flashed the car lights, and a few people approached from the distance, holding flashlights. Liang Chong rolled down the window, and the man at the front wearing a helmet shouted at him, “Mr. Liang! You’re here.”
“Get out of the car.” Liang Chong opened the door and when he saw Ning Yiwei hadn’t moved, he turned his head and ordered Ning Yiwei.
The two of them got out of the car, feeling the strong mountain wind. Ning Yiwei stood close to Liang Chong and followed the group of people into the construction site. Liang Chong personally helped Ning Yiwei put on a safety helmet. The leading project manager turned on the lights, illuminating the entire leveled area on the mountainside.
Ning Yiwei first noticed various construction vehicles and piled-up building materials on the construction site. Then he noticed the massive oval-shaped excavation not far away, surrounded by scaffolding. Lights could be seen from inside, and the edges were smooth walls.
Liang Chong asked the project manager to take a break and led Ning Yiwei closer to the prototype of the underground laboratory.
“It’s so huge,” Ning Yiwei peered and exclaimed with a slightly excited tone, “So it’s built by your group.”
“I funded it,” Liang Chong said calmly, “Even if you don’t read financial news, you should at least read the school news.”
“I do read financial news,” Ning Yiwei retorted, “but it didn’t mention your donation.”
“Oh, really? You read financial news?” Liang Chong crossed his arms and looked at him.
Ning Yiwei paused, feeling guilty, and said, “I did watch your live stream today. The host wasn’t very professional, and everything was incoherent.”
“So, you understand professional knowledge,” Liang Chong grabbed Ning Yiwei’s arm and pulled him closer, not allowing him to move away. “I had so many media outlets live streaming this afternoon. Why was the one you watched unreliable? Tell me about it.”
“The media logo was a blue irregular geometric shape,” Ning Yiwei pretended to be knowledgeable and gave a little report. “After you signed the contract, they called and said you gave something to the future young heiress. It was quite gossip-oriented.”
Liang Chong raised an eyebrow upon hearing this, seeming to want to say something but held back.
Ning Yiwei observed Liang Chong’s expression, thinking about the brief argument with his mother in the morning. He hesitated, not sure if he should speak up.
Liang Chong noticed and asked him, “What do you want to say?”
Ning Yiwei looked up at Liang Chong, blinked his eyes, and asked, “Will you get married?”
Liang Chong stared at Ning Yiwei for a moment and casually replied, “That’s none of your business.”
“I was just asking,” Ning Yiwei said.
Since Liang Chong answered that way, he probably would.
The wind was strong, blowing in from the northwest. Feeling particularly cold, Ning Yiwei said to Liang Chong, “I’m so cold.”
He hoped that Liang Chong would hug him for a moment, but Liang Chong said, “Let me get your jacket from the car. Should we leave now?”
Ning Yiwei didn’t respond. After standing for a few seconds, he finally leaned over and embraced Liang Chong’s waist, resting his face on Liang Chong’s shoulder. Then he immediately let go and took a step back.
“Let’s go home,” Ning Yiwei couldn’t explain his own actions, speaking in a flustered manner. “But I want to come and visit next time. I’ll dress warmer then.”
Liang Chong didn’t ask further questions. He simply said, “Okay.”
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