The autumn in Haishi was slightly cool, and in the evening, the sky turned a dark blue.
Jiang Xing stood at the closed office door and knocked.
"Old Gu, it's time to go. The dinner is at seven, we need to go early."
The man sitting at the desk had his hands clasped together, and there was a thin layer of sweat on his palms.
"I'm coming." He stood up, straightened his crisp suit, and then pulled the door open.
"Oh my god." Jiang Xing widened his eyes and was shocked to the point of almost dropping his jaw. "What's going on with you? Why aren't you wearing glasses? And this suit, it looks like it just came out this quarter."
Gu Miao stood straight, obviously carefully groomed. He had shaved his beard and combed his hair meticulously. His usually cold face showed a hint of hidden nobility in the evening sunset.
He was wearing contact lenses for the first time and was not used to it. He felt like there was something foreign in his eyes and couldn't help but blink in pain.
Jiang Xing noticed that he didn't respond and continued, "I suddenly feel like my outfit is too shabby. How about you wait for me and I'll tidy up a bit?"
Gu Miao pursed his lips and gave him a faint glance. "We're going to be late."
"Okay, okay." Jiang Xing sighed helplessly. "Let's go then."
By the time they arrived at the venue, it was already dark outside.
The moonlight tonight was very gentle.
Gu Miao followed Jiang Xing into the venue.
He had only recently taken office, and this banquet was a great opportunity to expand his social circle.
But none of that was as important as that person.
The banquet hall was brightly lit, and the chill of autumn seemed to be shut out. As Gu Miao turned around, his gaze pierced through the layers of people and slowly landed on that dim corner.
With just one glance, he recognized her.
The pain in his eyes seemed to intensify, causing his eyelashes to tremble and his throat to feel dry.
His shoulder was tapped, and only then did he snap out of his daze.
"Little Gu, why didn't you come say hello when you arrived?" The man who approached him looked to be in his fifties, with hair that was mostly white, but his eyes were particularly bright, as if he could see right through people.
Before Gu Miao could speak, the man called out to someone next to him, "Ruohai, come over here. This is the little Gu I told you about before, the CTO who just took office at Chuangyu a few days ago."
Gu Miao's breath caught in his throat, and he calmly wiped his palms before respectfully saying, "Hello, Chief Cheng."
Cheng Ruohai nodded. "Hello." He had heard about this promising young man from his old friend before, and now seeing him with clear eyes and a dignified appearance, he seemed like a good kid.
Thinking of his own daughter, Cheng Ruohai's mind couldn't help but become active.
"Little Gu, how old are you this year?"
Gu Miao paused for a moment before saying, "Twenty-four."
Beside him, Wang Yin quickly added, "He's about the same age as your daughter Chu Chu. They're both young people, why don't they get to know each other?"
Hearing that familiar yet unfamiliar name, Gu Miao felt his heart skip a beat.
The sweat that had just been wiped from his palms instantly reappeared.
The banquet hall, filled with clinking glasses and lively conversation, seemed to suddenly quiet down. He could hear the wild rush of blood in his body and the pounding of his heart, which couldn't be controlled.
He pursed his lips and when he spoke, his voice was already hoarse.
Cheng Ruohai had a big smile, quickly calling to his assistant beside him, "Go, bring Chuchu over here."
The assistant obeyed and left, returning shortly after with a hint of anxiety in her posture. "Miss Cheng said she wasn't feeling well and left early."
Cheng Ruohai felt a bit embarrassed and frustrated, "My daughter can be quite stubborn."
Wang Yin quickly intervened, "Well, health comes first. There will be plenty of opportunities to meet in the future."
But everyone present knew that feeling unwell was not a good enough excuse.
Since taking office, this Miss Cheng had been quite reckless, not taking the company seriously and avoiding social events whenever possible.
Gu Miao looked off into the distance. In the dim corner, there was no one around. He felt a bitter taste in his heart, and his eyes, which once shone brightly, gradually dimmed.
Gu Miao never expected to have the chance to meet her again so soon. And it was for a reason that made him blush and his heart race - a blind date.
After graduating from high school, they both went to the same university, one in the computer science department and the other in the economics department.
Gu Miao knew she often went to the classroom in the East Building to study, so he would find excuses to go there from time to time. But there were too many guys trying to get close to her, so he could only sit at the back of the classroom, silently watching her back.
Just like in high school.
But his delusions grew recklessly over time.
He began to want to become stronger, to shine just like her. Because he understood that only by being this kind of person could he have the qualification to speak to her openly.
But all of this was easier said than done. He had worked hard for this day for five whole years.
As evening approached, the sky was filled with dazzling fiery clouds. Gu Miao sat in the coffee shop, the dim lights reflecting off his cool profile. The bell at the door rang. The girl who always appeared in his dreams walked in.
The coffee shop was reserved, and the waiter stood far away. The surroundings were so quiet that Gu Miao could hear his own frantic heartbeat. His throat was dry, and his eyes, behind the contact lenses, were even more painful due to nervousness.
"Hello, Mr. Gu," the girl's voice was clear and bright, like the cold wind on a lonely autumn night, carrying a hint of chill as it slowly drifted over.
Gu Miao's fingers curled up, and he hoarsely replied, "Hello, Miss Cheng." He couldn't help but lift his gaze and look at her.
The dim light made the girl look even more beautiful. She was casually wearing a sweater, but it contrasted with her fair skin. Her peach blossom eyes, which always appeared in his dreams, looked at him indifferently.
Gu Miao couldn't help but feel a tremble in his heart.
He suddenly remembered the first time he saw the girl, her eyes shining with warmth as she looked at him.
It was almost his entire youth's memory.
The bitterness of the coffee seemed to flood into his heart in an instant. He looked away and called the waiter.
"What would you like to drink?" the waiter asked.
Cheng Chu said, "Just the same as you."
She looked at the man in front of her and thought of her father's advice, feeling annoyed.
The coffee cup was placed on the table with a soft clink.
As the waiter walked away, Cheng Chu pursed her lips and said, "I have someone I like." She lied frantically, hoping to end this absurd blind date as soon as possible.
The surroundings were silent, and the man in front of her remained cold. This extremely hurtful sentence seemed as ordinary to him as a leaf falling in autumn.
But she didn't know that beneath the calm sea surface often lurked turbulent waves.
Gu Miao's eyes were lowered, his hand at his side already tightly clenched, and even his mouth seemed to have a faint taste of blood.
For so many years, he had only dared to watch her from afar. Just the thought of her made his heart overflow with secret sweetness.
But now, she sat in front of him, calmly and almost mercilessly telling him - she had found someone she liked.
Each word was like a sharp blade, piercing his already unstable heart.
He felt as though his heart was bleeding, with all his infatuation and delusions, and shattered hopes and expectations, like light and airy powder, drifting in the cold night wind of the city.
In the chilly night, a few yellow leaves slowly fell from the trees.
Gu Miao released his white-knuckled hand, with a few drops of blood dripping from his fingertips.
He didn't seem to notice and looked up, saying, "Miss Cheng, we can cooperate."
He understood that this was his last chance to get close to her, so he lied without hesitation.
Cheng Chu's fingertips paused, her cold peach blossom eyes filled with suspicion.
He continued, "I understand the pressure on Miss Cheng's family, and my life and work are facing the same problems. Cooperation without interference can reduce a lot of trouble."
Cheng Chu felt a sudden flutter in her heart. Her eyelashes trembled as she hesitated to ask, "Do you mind if I have someone I like?"
Even though his heart was already heavy with pain, he didn't show any sign of it on his face.
He tried his best to suppress his trembling voice and said, "I don't mind."
"Just for the sake of cooperation," she added.
After a moment of contemplation, Cheng Chu nodded and said, "Okay."
She understood that a man like him, who was a perfect match in terms of social status, would be the best reason to appease her parents.
But on that autumn day, when the usually quiet man knelt down on one knee and earnestly presented her with a ring, Cheng Chu's heart couldn't help but panic.
Did their cooperation really have to go this far?
They had only met a few times.
But she also understood that this kind of marriage was what she needed, or perhaps what Fu Rong and Cheng Ruohai wanted to see. So, on a starry autumn night, Cheng Chu agreed to his proposal.
Gu Miao felt like he was in a dream.
After they got married, Cheng Chu moved into his villa, and they began to play the role of a model couple in the eyes of outsiders.
But only Gu Miao knew that their relationship was more like acquaintances who were not familiar with each other.
However, this was enough to satisfy him.
He started leaving work on time every day, just to have dinner with her at the same table, even though she didn't come home for dinner very often.
But Gu Miao didn't want to miss any chance to be close to her.
The quiet and reserved him began to learn to actively initiate conversations, but it always ended in failure.
She never even touched the antique piano he had specially requested for her. She always politely said thank you for the jewelry he gave her, but she never wore it once.
He didn't even dare to tell her that he prepared breakfast carefully every morning, because he was afraid that she would refuse to eat it if he mentioned it.
That heart, which had sunk low into the dust, buried under dirt and gravel, had covered up its radiance and passion, but still stubbornly bloomed a small flower.
He thought he could wait for the day when she would open her heart to him, but he never expected that the closest he would ever be to her in this lifetime was on that stormy night, when he leaned over to protect her.
Warm blood slid down his forehead and into his eyes, causing a sharp and unbearable pain.
"Chuchu." He lowered his gaze and looked at the girl he had protected under him, unable to resist the longing in his heart.
For the first time in his life, he called her so intimately. Perhaps, this is the last time, he thought.
In the hazy night, he collided with those eyes that always made his heart flutter uncontrollably.
Suddenly, he remembered her from a long, long time ago.
She was so vivid, lively, and happy.
In his miserable and painful life, she was the only longing and warmth.
He missed that version of her, but he couldn't let go of the present her.
In the last moment of his memory, he looked into the girl's eyes and said the words he had never dared to say out loud in his entire life.
"I love you."
So, don't cry.
Being able to protect you is the greatest happiness in my humble and mediocre life.
The author has something to say:
Gu Miao: If I die, will you be heartbroken?
In the next chapter, Chuchu travels back in time, and the Chief Gu who survived the car accident is still alive. So, hehehe.
Translations during sleepless nights. I can sleep when I'm dead! ...Please let me sleep. Happy readers keep me awake, and lots of love and a huge thank you for supporting my hobby!
Give me feedback at moc.ebircssutol@ypeels.