In July, the heat of the summer was suffocating and rain was falling.
The doorman opened the car door with an umbrella in hand, the young man in a white shirt alighted first, and went around to the other side of the car. He slightly bent his waist and reached in to help the young man in the car out.
His posture was respectful yet familiar.
The man lightly grabbed his hand as it was extended, gently pushing the young man beneath the eaves of the club until they were inside. He brushed away a few drops of water from the young man's bangs and said to the receptionist: “Room number nine, Mr. Zhao.”
“Yes, sir. Please this way, elevator number three.”
Once in the elevator, the receptionist helped press the floor button. Taking advantage of the lack of people around, the young man in the white shirt quickly fixed his collar and hair in the mirror. The man saw his lips tighten, feeling that he was a bit nervous, and he comforted him: “It's just a few acquaintances and friends, there's no one else here, relax, don't be tense.”
The young man smiled at him, a bright yet shy and restrained smile. He whispered: “Boss, don't worry, I promise not to let you down.”
As soon as he spoke, the man couldn't help but laugh.
The Chinese language is diverse, some speaking with a Northeastern accent, some with a Cantonese accent, some with a Suzhou accent, and various other strange and peculiar accents. But in all his years, Yan Chong had never met someone who spoke with a “cross-talk accent” right next to him.
Xue Liang's speech had a rhythmic cadence, with clear and rounded tones, a combination between Beijing and Tianjin dialects, occasionally mixed with a bit of Northeastern dialect. He wasn't one to speak much, but when he did, his infectiousness was strong, and all around him would enter a strange, laughing state.
Yan Chong had been aloof and cold for half his life, and now it was as if he had a radio by his side that would occasionally play a bit of cross-talk. According to Yan Chong's observations, his driver had recently started wearing a small beaded bracelet on his wrist.
A minute later, the elevator doors opened, and the waiter led the two into room number nine. The air-conditioning blew over them with the noise of hustle and bustle. Someone on the sofa turned to look at them, and immediately stood up to greet them: “Oh, Little Yan has come! Come, come, come sit inside.”
Xue Liang recognized him, and after shaking hands with Yan Chong, he immediately greeted him: “Hello, Mr. Zhao.”
"Oh, hello." President Zhao didn't give him a second glance, nodding absent-mindedly as he walked forward with the other people who had come over to greet him. Xue Liang obediently followed behind them. After Yan Chong sat down, he took the other's suit jacket and hung it up, then brought a new cup and poured him some water, saying "Take your time," before stepping back and standing on the side of the sofa armrest. His hands and feet were so nimble, and he was so careful and cautious, that he was almost like a retainer of the old days - wearing a long shirt with a hat and a gun at his waist.
Yan Chong, who had been forced into being a master, held up his cup of tea and said slowly: "Don't be so obedient, you don't have to stay here. I have something to discuss with President Zhao, you can go play."
Xue Liang nodded.
In addition to the middle-aged President Zhao, there were several young people doing start-ups. Xue Liang was quickly taken to one side and sat down. Someone brought him a drink and asked politely about his age and background. After listening for a while, he exclaimed in surprise: "You are from X University? You and President Yan are alumni? Our company is next to your school. This person, Brother Liu, he is also from X University."
Xue Liang hurriedly smiled and said: "Hello, senior."
There is naturally a sense of closeness between alumni of X University. Brother Liu, who had been talking little before, immediately started talking: "Little junior, which college are you from? Which year?
"Humanities College, third year this year, graduating next year."
"Not graduated yet? So you are now...?"
"Summer internship," Xue Liang said earnestly, "Our major is not easy to match, so being an assistant allows me to learn a lot from the boss."
Brother Liu was stunned, then smiled and didn't continue the conversation just now: "Do you know XXX? Oh, that's the girlfriend of my classmate. They got married, and the children are all one year old. Are you from the chinese performance arts team? I said it sounded familiar. Hey, when I was in school, I was next to the chinese performance arts team. I watched them train every day and even learned the names of the pieces.
Xue Liang was interested: "What did you practice?"
Brother Liu smiled: "Orchestra saxophone."
Xue Liang sat up straight and bowed his head: "Excuse me, excuse me."
Brother Liu humbly said: "No need to be polite."
Others listening were confused, prompting the two to explain. Xue Liang then began his performance: X University's various clubs and societies were abundant, and every semester, each club would set up a stall to recruit new members. The jazz band was always a daunting presence, and the saxophonists were a formidable force. When everyone else could only shout "take a look, take a look" with a broken gong and hoarse voice, a saxophonist could instantly blow them away with a rendition of "Home". It was even worse for the skit team, who were always stationed next to the jazz band's booth. As a veteran of the club, Xue Liang had already been psychologically scarred by the saxophonists like a sandstorm.
The discussion over there was becoming heated, and President Zhao and Yan Chong's attention was drawn to it as well. President Zhao stared at Xue Liang's profile with a smile for a few seconds before he took his gaze away and asked softly, "Yan Chong, are you thinking of taking him along with you?"
Yan Chong twirled the cup in his hand, not giving a definite answer.
"Don't blame me for butting in, but I have to remind you, this young man is not bad looking and is still a university student. His heart is wild, you can play around with him, but don't be too fond of him, be careful. If it's just a one-night stand, you can pay him and he'll be gone. But if you keep him around you, he'll know all about you and it won't be easy to get rid of him if there's trouble in the future." President Zhao said.
"I know," Yan Chong accepted his advice, but he couldn't quite bring himself to laugh at President Zhao's suspicions about Xue Liang. "It's not like I'm looking for trouble. If there weren't 'entertainment activities' everywhere I go to handle business, I wouldn't have to do this. Let's see how he performs and if he isn't suitable, I'll get rid of him soon."
Yan Chong was 27 this year, the age when he should be talking about marriage, but he had never entertained such thoughts. Partly because he was busy with his career, partly because of his sexual orientation. Being single certainly had its advantages, but it also had its drawbacks: his relatives and elders were keen to introduce him to potential partners, it was easy to give the impression of being irresponsible without a family, and then there were those unsavory social engagements that he could not easily excuse away with the excuse of being married.
Yan Chong did not want to involve himself with all sorts of people, and with the recent surprise inspections in the city, many "industry elites" had been arrested in places of debauchery, and he had become a laughingstock. It was clearly not safe to hire temporary workers, so in order to solve the problem once and for all, he decided to keep a pet, one who didn't need to sell meat, was intelligent and presentable, and could protect him from the swarms of admirers.
This is how Xue Liang ended up by his side.
He had originally expected the other party to be a quiet and well-behaved canary, and Xue Liang was indeed quiet and well-behaved, but Yan Chong still had a feeling that if he gave him a tail, this guy would show his true form and turn into a golden monkey.