Xie Min and Sui Yang quickly spent a weekend at a hotel near the school. On the plane back to Yuhai, Xie Min had the best sleep ever. As soon as he landed, he went straight to the company, surprisingly not feeling tired at all.
In the afternoon, Sui Yang had to go to Yuanguang. When Xie Min got off the car, he gently hugged Xie Min and said he would be back on Wednesday.
While entering the company building, Xie Min felt a strangely pleasant mood for no apparent reason.
Xie Min’s father was absent from the office, but it seemed like he had put a camera on Xie Min’s desk. Just as Xie Min entered the office, his phone rang. It was his father calling, informing him of an early shareholder meeting and asking Xie Min to be prepared.
Luckily, Xie Min was in a good mood. His father’s scolding simply passed through his mind like water.
During a work break, Xie Min approached a familiar lawyer to discuss the legal matters of leaving the company. As they conversed, Tan Sichen knocked on the door and entered.
Xie Min ended the phone call. Tan Sichen informed him that the housekeeper Wu Hui, hired by Xie Min’s family, had called to resign. She explained that her mother had fallen ill back in her hometown, and she had to go back to take care of her. Therefore, she couldn’t continue working at Xie Min’s house anymore.
“Mr. Xie,” Tan Sichen asked, “do you think we should find another full-time housekeeper or just a cleaning staff? Because you’re rarely staying at home these days.”
“Let’s go with a cleaning staff,” Xie Min answered first, but then he recalled the scene from that evening when he and Sui Yang saw Wu Hui hurrying towards the elevator. A slight suspicion arose in his mind, and he asked, “When is sheleaving?”
“Her mother’s condition suddenly worsened. It seems like she has already boarded the train,” Tan Sichen said with a hint of helplessness. “I just received the call right before I entered your office.”
Xie Min took a moment to think and said, “When I had food poisoning, has there been any progress in the investigation regarding the delivery person?”
Back then, Xie Min and Sui Yang were having dinner at home when suddenly the medication and food reacted, causing Xie Min to go into shock. He remembered his father reporting the incident to the police.
The police discovered that the delivery person from that hospital was indeed suspicious. It appeared that he had swapped the food items, but the delivery person’s identity was fabricated and couldn’t be found in any databases. Afterward, there was no further news.
“There doesn’t seem to be much progress,” Tan Sichen hesitated and said, “the officer in charge of the case hasn’t contacted us yet. I’ll have to ask Chi Yuan for more specific information.”
Xie Min had a suspicion and decided to let Tan Sichen and Chi Yuan handle the communication. He wanted to have a conversation with the police officer himself to get a better understanding of the case.
In preparation for the morning meeting the next day, Xie Min took Chi Yuan to inspect the company’s largest project of the year.
The project was located near the lakeside where Yuhai City and the neighboring province met. It was a real estate project for elderly care, done in collaboration with the government. It took approximately an hour and a half to drive there from the company.
They arrived in the late afternoon when most of the workers had already stopped working. They were having boxed meals by the construction shed.
The project manager approached Xie Min and handed him a cigarette.
The general manager of this project was Tan Sichen’s cousin, named Wang Kai’an. He had been working at Wanzhuang Real Estate for over ten years and had a reputation for delivering high-quality projects. Xie Min had full confidence in him.
The three of them first had boxed meals in Wang Kai’an’s temporary construction shed and discussed the progress of the project.
Wang Kai’an, waving his chopsticks, angrily scolded the previous project’s finance personnel for misappropriating funds. He also apologized to Xie Min, admitting his own lack of supervision and assuming a significant responsibility.
The incident happened while Xie Min was unconscious after the car accident. Xie Min only read the final report his father had given him, assuring Wang Kai’an that he didn’t need to blame himself too much and just needed to ensure the project was done well.
After the meal, the three of them put on their safety helmets and walked around the construction site.
The project was divided into three phases, covering a large area. Xie Min walked for over half an hour, and as the sky grew completely dark, he began to feel fatigued. Just as he was about to turn back, he noticed a small area in the distance with lights on, unsure if it was nighttime work or something else.
Since it was a bit far from the ongoing construction site, Xie Min asked Wang Kai’an, “What’s happening over there?”
“Oh,” Wang Kai’an pointed his flashlight in that direction and smiled at Xie Min. He replied, “The guys set up a hot tub there. Mr. Xie, would you like to take a look?”
Upon hearing that, Xie Min immediately waved his hand and said, “No, let’s go back.”
After taking another look at the construction drawings with Wang Kai’an, it was around half-past nine. Feeling exhausted, Xie Min bid farewell to Wang Kai’an and prepared to go back.
As they got on the car, Wang Kai’an patted Tan Sichen’s shoulder, encouraging him to do well.
Sitting in the car, Xie Min noticed that Tan Sichen seemed tired and his face was a bit pale. Xie Min teased him, “Xiao Tan, how come your stamina can’t match mine?”
Tan Sichen was someone Xie Min personally interviewed and hired when he first joined the company. Although his personality was not as steady as Chi Yuan’s, he had a pure heart and was dedicated and responsible in his work. That morning, Xie Min had been thinking about whether he could take his assistant and secretary with him if he left his father’s company to start his own.
However, he didn’t know if they would be willing to go.
“I’ve been lacking exercise recently,” Tan Sichen whispered.
Xie Min dozed off in the car for a short while and received a message from Sui Yang asking if he had arrived home. Xie Min replied, “Not yet,” and then remembered to inform Sui Yang, “Do you remember Wu Hui, my housekeeper? She suddenly resigned today.”
Sui Yang immediately called, asking what happened.
Xie Min could hear some slight noise in the background, as if it was the sound of a dispersed gathering. He glanced at his watch and briefly explained the housekeeper’s resignation to Sui Yang, and then mentioned his plan to talk to the police.
“Sure,” Sui Yang told him, “I’ll ask Chen Liao to check if Wu Hui actually boarded the vehicle.”
Xie Min nodded and said, “I just have a feeling that something is suspicious.”
“Xie Min,” Sui Yang’s voice sounded somewhat low and concerned, “be careful these days.”
“There’s no need to worry so much,” Xie Min laughed. “Sui Yang, you seem to have a bit of paranoid delusion.”
Sui Yang didn’t respond and simply said, “I’ll come early tomorrow.”
Despite being somewhat prepared, the shareholder meeting the next morning was still tumultuous.
Xie Min’s father didn’t show him any kindness during the meeting. Even though Xie Min’s reports looked much better than when he was hospitalized, his father still publicly questioned and criticized Xie Min in front of the shareholders. Vice President Jian Liqun tried to speak up for Xie Min, but he too was scolded by Xie Min’s father.
After the meeting, it seemed like Xie Min’s father hadn’t vented enough anger. He called Xie Min into his office and continued to nitpick.
Perhaps Xie Min’s lack of interest in pretending any longer provoked his father. His father’s words became increasingly intense, slamming the table and berating Xie Min like an ungrateful person. He said that his eldest son had already been ruined, following a woman for an easy life and acting like a hypocrite. He also mentioned how he had invested more effort and money into his youngest son, expecting some return.
“Go and look at other young people,” his father pointed at him, “look at Sui Gaozhuo’s son. In just a few years, he started a huge business from scratch. I have given you so many resources, raised you in luxury, provided the best teachers and schools. What have you given me in return?”
“What does Sui Gaozhuo’s son have to do with you?” Xie Min couldn’t help but laugh when his father mentioned Sui Yang. “If you have such foresight, why didn’t you invest in him when he was in debt? Dad, do you think I don’t know how much you have given me? The business has been tough lately. Do any of your other companies compare to Wanzhuang? How much salary have you given me? Do I have shares in the company? Why don’t you calculate how much money you have spent on me? I’ll repay you with a loan.”
His father’s expression grew even uglier. He threw the porcelain cup filled with tea at Xie Min, demanding that he leave his company.
Xie Min dodged, avoiding the cup from hitting him, but the tea splashed on his pants, making him very uncomfortable.
Xie Min walked out of the Chairman’s office, went to the underground parking lot, and got into his car, leaving the company.
The sky was gloomy, and the weather forecast had predicted rain. Xie Min aimlessly drove around in Yuhai. Raindrops started falling from the sky, gradually turning into a heavy downpour.
After driving for a while, he finally noticed his phone vibrating. He found a place to park and picked up his phone. Sui Yang had called him three times.
He called Sui Yang back, and Sui Yang answered immediately. “Where are you?”
Xie Min felt a bit lost, looking around without being able to identify the road. He just had a sense of being in a remote area and could only tell Sui Yang, “I don’t know. I had another argument with my dad.” He now felt a bit aggrieved and quietly told Sui Yang.
“Send me your location, I’ll come find you,” Sui Yang’s voice was very gentle, making Xie Min feel less upset. “I’ve arrived in Yuhai.”
Xie Min sat in the car, lost in thought, waiting for Sui Yang for over an hour. He didn’t turn on the music, leaving the car silent. The rain kept sliding down the windshield, and he couldn’t see the road or the trees outside.
Just as he was on the verge of falling asleep, Xie Min suddenly heard someone knocking on his window, so he unlocked the car.
Sui Yang opened the door, and Xie Min saw him holding a black umbrella, a leather bag, and a plastic bag from a convenience store. Sui Yang brought the umbrella inside the car, handed the bags to Xie Min, and had brought Xie Min’s favorite soda. Inside the leather bag was a warm croissant, and the print on the bag belonged to the bakery Xie Min used to visit before going to the library in high school.
The croissant was still warm, and its fragrance reminded him of the past.
“I saw it while passing by,” Sui Yang said, “I thought you probably didn’t have lunch.”
Sui Yang’s suit was damp, and black water stains spread on the dark gray fabric. Xie Min touched his hand, which was also slightly wet, and his face too, damp yet warm.
Sui Yang said, “Xie Min, what’s the meaning of touching me if you’re not going to eat?” Xie Min felt himself smile, and in reality, he probably did smile. Sui Yang leaned closer and kissed his lips.
Sui Yang’s kisses were gentle. Some soda had spilled onto the chair. He said to Xie Min, “Xie Min, don’t be upset.”
Xie Min made a sound of agreement, and Sui Yang helped him pick up the soda, unscrewed the cap, and Xie Min took a bite of the croissant while drinking the soda handed to him by Sui Yang.
“Sui Yang,” swallowing the croissant, Xie Min whispered, “I feel so frustrated.”
“Am I quite troublesome?” he said to Sui Yang, “A pile of things, the company, the housekeeper, my dad.”
Sui Yang told him, “No, you’re not.”
“When I’m in Yuanguang and things get better, sometimes I think if you encounter any trouble and suddenly call me,” Sui Yang said to him, “I will come find you no matter what I’m doing.”
Xie Min looked into Sui Yang’s eyes. Sui Yang’s expression was earnest, as if he wasn’t the one saying cheesy things.
Xie Min felt his face blush a bit, lowered his head, and continued eating the croissant.
The car was eerily quiet. Ten minutes ago, Xie Min felt like everything was in chaos, and everything was a mess except for Sui Yang. Ten minutes later, Xie Min’s heart was racing. Life seemed to have become a little less miserable because of the soda, croissant, and Sui Yang.
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