Chapter 227 – An Invitation

Summer dawns early, and even though it’s just past six in the morning, there are already many people out exercising in the neighborhood park.

Chen Li and Wei Chen were jogging on the park’s path. Occasionally, people would greet them. After living here for so long, they had become familiar with many faces.

On their way back, Wei Chen stopped by the steamed buns shop near the neighborhood entrance and bought buns and soy milk. That was their breakfast.

After finishing breakfast, they parted ways at the neighborhood entrance—one heading to work and the other to school. It was the start of an ordinary yet fulfilling day.

Zhou Tongpeng had passed away, leaving a vacant seat in the director’s board of Changfeng Group. This was undoubtedly the biggest piece of meat available for the year, and both factions had their eyes on this position.

Furthermore, Zhou Tongpeng held the position of vice chairman, a pivotal role within Changfeng Group.

Sheng Jiaqi also valued this position greatly. While he initially sought to maintain a balance between the two factions in the company, things had changed. The Chen family had blatantly extended their influence, and to restrain the Chen family’s power, the person occupying the position of vice chairman had to be someone chosen by Sheng Jiaqi.

Currently, the most likely candidate from his side to be promoted to vice chairman was Zhuge Feng.

For this reason, Sheng Jiaqi had been discussing this matter with Zhuge Feng over the past few days.

With Zhou Tongpeng’s death, the discipline within Changfeng Group had finally started to stabilize. It was no longer as chaotic as it had been in the recent past, with a frenzy of anti-corruption activities. Many within Changfeng Group breathed a sigh of relief.

However, Wei Chen didn’t pay much attention to these matters. He focused on doing his own tasks to the best of his ability.

The competition for the position of vice chairman at Changfeng Group intensified as the summer heat rose. In the end, Sheng Jiaqi’s clever tactics won, and Zhuge Feng was officially promoted to the position of vice chairman when the autumn heat arrived.

However, every gain comes with a loss. Chen Yunzeng, who had only recently joined Changfeng Group, surprised everyone by leaping from being the Director of the Marketing Department to the position of General Manager, succeeding in that role.

Meanwhile, Wei Chen remained the Deputy General Manager. At this point, with the Marketing Department’s director position vacant, Wei Chen was transferred back to the Marketing Department as its director.

In a turn of events, Wei Chen found himself back in the Marketing Department.

The employees of the Marketing Department were most delighted with this decision. While Chen Yunzeng was competent, working under him was not as comfortable as working under Wei Chen.

When Wei Chen returned to the Marketing Department, he received a warm and joyful welcome from the employees.

As Wei Chen resumed his work in the Marketing Department, the competition between Sheng Jiaqi and the Chen family temporarily came to an end. Clearly, Sheng Jiaqi had emerged victorious.

Despite the midsummer’s departure, the temperature in the capital did not drop. On the contrary, due to the fierce autumn heat, the temperature had risen even higher than before.

During this scorching season, Chen Li was concluding his summer break and returning to school for classes.

Chen Li pushed his bicycle through the campus of Q University. The hot air rose from the ground, and the asphalt seemed to have melted, looking slightly distorted.

However, Chen Li had a constitution that was not afraid of heat and did not easily get sunburned. At this time, most people would prefer to rest in an air-conditioned room and not go anywhere. But Chen Li was walking under the scorching sun, and not a drop of sweat appeared on his face.

This constitution was something many people enduring the summer heat would envy.

Chen Li parked his bicycle in the bike shed and then headed towards his classroom.

He was already in his sophomore year, and the courses were not as intense as in the first year. He had chosen some elective courses in other majors, just for leisure.

However, Chen Li did not choose any electives. His days were very fulfilling, spending his time either attending classes or drawing.

Currently, Chen Li’s paintings were gaining increasing popularity in the market. Yet, over the past two months, he had only released one painting. Someone bought it from Chen Li through Sheng Jiaqi’s connections after seeing the painting hanging on the wall at Sheng Jiaqi’s house.

After deducting the taxes, Chen Li earned over fifty million yuan from that painting alone. Combined with the money in his account from before, Chen Li’s assets were nearing one billion yuan.

However, Chen Li had no concept of this and didn’t even realize he was already a small millionaire. He just went about his days doing whatever he pleased.

Today, there was some excitement in the classroom. As Chen Li entered, everyone was discussing a topic he had heard about in the past few days—an internationally renowned artist was coming to Q University to give a lecture.

Once Chen Li took his seat, he began to eavesdrop on his classmates’ discussions. Given his strong interest in painting, he didn’t want to miss the lecture by this renowned artist.

“I heard that Mr. Chen Yunlan will be coming to give the lecture this time.”

“I heard that too. The school has made quite a big deal out of it.”

“Is it Mr. Chen Yunlan? Oh my goodness, he’s my idol. Among all the artists I know, only Mr. Chen Yunlan’s appearance and art align with my aesthetics. I believe he’s the most handsome artist I know!”

“I agree. Beauty and talent coexist. Why does fate favor Mr. Chen Yunlan so much?”

“If it’s really Mr. Chen Yunlan giving the lecture this time, I think I’ll bathe in incense that day, and I’ll go early to grab a front-row seat! I want to get up close with Mr. Chen Yunlan.”

The discussion among the classmates continued, but Chen Li’s thoughts had already drifted away from their conversation.

Chen Yunlan.

These three words were not unfamiliar to Chen Li, for he knew who Chen Yunlan was. In distant childhood memories, he had even seen Chen Yunlan.

Chen Yunlan was Chen Li’s uncle, the youngest son of Chen Shihuai.

When Chen Li was at the main residence of the Chen family, he had seen Chen Yunlan. For some unknown reason, the introverted Chen Li had a very vivid memory of Chen Yunlan. Even now, Chen Li could vaguely recall what Chen Yunlan looked like.

Naturally, Chen Li also remembered how Chen Yunlan behaved when he saw him—the deliberate indifference, as if he didn’t exist.

Chen Li opened his textbook and pulled his thoughts away from Chen Yunlan, focusing on the professional book in front of him.

As for Chen Yunlan’s lecture, Chen Li suddenly didn’t want to attend anymore, regardless of how talented and skillful Chen Yunlan was in painting.

Because a voice within Chen Li suddenly resisted his approaching Chen Yunlan.

The classmates’ discussion came to an end as the class bell rang, and during the class, Chen Li attentively listened, as usual. The topic for this class was the schools of modern and contemporary art, and Chen Yunlan was a representative figure in one of those schools, acclaimed both domestically and internationally.

Chen Yunlan was known in the industry as a genius artist who gained fame at a young age. His initial recognition was not for the style of paintings he creates now, but for traditional Chinese painting. Due to one particular piece in traditional Chinese painting, Chen Yunlan was accepted as a disciple by the renowned national artist, Master Sun, becoming Master Sun’s student. During his time as Master Sun’s disciple, Chen Yunlan gradually gained international acclaim.

Later, for reasons unknown, Master Sun publicly severed his master-apprentice relationship with Chen Yunlan, even going so far as to say they would never meet again.

However, by that time, Chen Yunlan was already internationally famous, and no one even noticed when he had started painting oil paintings.

Chen Yunlan’s oil paintings blended the artistic conception of traditional Chinese painting with Western aesthetics, creating a unique style. His reputation continued to grow, and he had become a prominent figure in the contemporary art scene.

When the professor discussed Chen Yunlan, there was a tone of admiration in his voice.

At around the age of forty, Chen Yunlan was in his prime. Given his current influence in the international art scene, he would likely dominate the field for several more years. The professor for this course was probably a supporter of Chen Yunlan as well. Throughout most of the class, the professor talked about Chen Yunlan’s achievements, and the students listened attentively. After all, it sounded quite legendary.

Chen Li listened to the discussion, his expression different from his classmates’ longing and admiration. He wasn’t envious of Chen Yunlan’s life; he was content with his current life.

One major class quickly passed, and there were no more classes for the rest of the day.

Chen Li walked out of the classroom and headed to Zhuge Yu’s art studio.

Yesterday, Zhuge Yu had assigned him a task, and Chen Li planned to complete it since he had no more classes today.

When Chen Li arrived at the art studio, Zhuge Yu was already there.

“Teacher,” Chen Li called out.

“Xiao Li, come over here,” Zhuge Yu beckoned for Chen Li to come closer. As Chen Li approached, Zhuge Yu handed him an invitation. “This is the invitation Chairman Zhao brought yesterday. In a few days, there will be an art and calligraphy exchange event in the name of the Beijing Calligraphy and Painting Association. He sent you an invitation.”

Chen Li took the invitation. It had a gold border, indicating its special nature. The name “Mr. Chen Li” was written in clear, regular characters, followed by the content of the invitation. Just as Zhuge Yu had mentioned, it was a gathering for professionals in the field, lasting two days, and held in Beijing.

However, this was an event for professionals, and attendees were not allowed to bring companions. Chen Li didn’t want to attend this event alone, and he felt nervous and apprehensive about it.

Seemingly sensing Chen Li’s resistance, Zhuge Yu spoke, “Don’t worry, I also received an invitation. We’ll go together to the event. There will be a lot to learn and gain from this exchange event.” Zhuge Yu’s intention was clear—to persuade Chen Li to agree to attend the event. As Zhuge Yu had stated, this was an academic exchange event with much to learn from.

Chen Li was somewhat swayed by Zhuge Yu’s words, but he still had some hesitations.

Zhuge Yu didn’t force Chen Li to agree immediately. “It’s okay, take your time to think about it. There are still several days until the exchange event. Whenever you’ve made up your mind, I’ll talk to Chairman Zhao.”

Chen Li nodded. “I will consider it carefully.”

“Oh, I forgot to tell you,” Zhuge Yu suddenly remembered something, tapped his head, and then left a tantalizing bait, “Look at my memory. Your teacher, Master Sun, will also attend this exchange event. He wants to formally introduce you to his friends. You can’t let Master Sun make the trip for nothing.”

Chen Li was indeed moved. Unable to resist, he nodded, “Then I’ll attend with you, Teacher.”

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