Chapter 9.1 – Astray Youth (9)

The next day when Zhou Kaiji woke up, the rain that had been falling all night had stopped.

Light filtered in through the curtains, illuminating the familiar yet unfamiliar room. The person lying in bed turned over and looked at the desk, bookshelf, and the thermos on the desk.


After a moment of silence, the person in bed suddenly sat up.

As Zhou Kaiji came out of the room, he happened to meet the passing butler.

The butler, seeing him coming out of the room, widened his old eyes slightly, looking somewhat surprised.

But the old butler was indeed an experienced one who had weathered many storms; his expression quickly adjusted, his beard twitched, and he greeted him with a smile, saying good morning.

Seeing the person in front of him continuously scanning the corridor, he timely added, “Secretary Chen is in the kitchen.”

He noticed the thin pajamas the other person was wearing and prepared to fetch a coat. Zhou Kaiji thanked him and said he didn’t need it, “I’ll go upstairs to get it myself in a moment.”

When he said “in a moment,” he really meant it. Instead of heading upstairs, he walked straight towards the kitchen.

Chen Luosong was indeed in the kitchen.

He had changed back into his usual clothes, wearing a gray wool cardigan that looked warm and comfortable. Despite staying up very late last night, he seemed completely fine, with his usual complexion. He smiled and greeted Zhou Kaiji with a good morning when he saw him.

The only difference from usual was probably the apron tied around his waist, similar in style to that of the kitchen auntie, fitting yet somewhat out of place.

Zhou Kaiji originally intended to continue walking to the kitchen but was stopped halfway.

The person in the apron urged him to go upstairs and put on a coat first.

So, he went upstairs to put on the coat and then came back downstairs after washing up.

When the kitchen auntie saw him coming back, she first glanced at the person studying a pile of vegetables, then smiled and said, “Secretary Chen is cooking breakfast today.”

Zhou Kaiji’s eyes widened slightly. He looked at the person who had set down the vegetables and started looking at the recipe, asking, “Brother Chen, you can cook?”

The person holding the recipe lowered his eyebrows slightly, looking relaxed and composed, displaying a hint of a master’s demeanor. Glancing up with a lofty gaze, he said, “I can learn.”

Translation: He can’t cook.

Master Chen looked at the kitchen auntie and said, “Aunt Zhou, you go busy yourself, I’ll take care of things here.”

Aunt Zhou left with peace of mind, going to the other side of the kitchen to prepare ingredients for today’s lunch.

In their impression, there was nothing Secretary Chen couldn’t learn.

Secretary Chen cooked, and Zhou Kaiji willingly assisted.

Warm water flowed through his palms as he washed the vegetable leaves in his hands. He looked at the person next to him who was earnestly kneading dough, his gaze stopping at the lightly covered eyebrows and eyes obscured by stray hair. Zhou Kaiji asked, “Brother Chen, why aren’t you wearing glasses now?”

Pressing the dough onto the cutting board, Chen Luosong said, “The prescription isn’t strong, so I only wear them when I’m working.”

He glanced sideways, smiling as he asked, “Is it strange to you?”

Zhou Kaiji nodded, then hesitated and shook his head. He looked at the person next to him dressed in completely casual clothes and asked, “Brother Chen, are you not going to work today?”

Chen Luosong replied, “I’ll go after breakfast.”

This time coincided with the holiday, so the company’s employees were off, but he had some matters to attend to and needed to go out today.

Zhou Kaiji lowered his eyes and said, “Oh.”

After washing the vegetable leaves, his assisting task was done, and he was ushered out of the kitchen.

Some people are naturally good at learning. Chen Luosong’s first time cooking looked quite professional, at least the kitchen was calm, with no casualties among the cookware, and a pleasant aroma wafted when the pot lid was lifted.

Zhou Kaiji was fortunate to be the first one to taste it.

The dishes served on the table smelled delicious and well-presented, far from something a beginner would make.

After a busy morning, Master Chen pulled out a chair and sat down opposite, saying, “Try it.”

Zhou Kaiji picked up his chopsticks.

“How does it taste?”

Chen Luosong asked, and Aunt Zhou, who was busy putting dishes on the other side, also looked curious.


Facing two pairs of eyes, Zhou Kaiji swallowed the food in his mouth and said with wide eyes, “…it’s a very shocking taste.”

This unique flavor could only be described as “shocking.”

It was his first time encountering someone who could make dishes look and smell so good, and shocking.

Chen Luosong glanced at the high schooler sitting across from him with eyes seemingly lacking their usual brightness, then picked up his chopsticks and said, “Let me try too.”

Zhou Kaiji quickly stood up at the fastest speed in his life to stop the approaching chopsticks.

Facing the gaze from across the table, he promptly said, “I’ll cook for Brother Chen.”

After saying that, he watched as the chopsticks were slowly lowered again, feeling relieved.

Secretary Chen had to go to work after breakfast, so Zhou Kaiji put on an apron and quickly made breakfast in the shortest time possible.

His efforts received praise from Secretary Chen.

After finishing breakfast, Secretary Chen went back to his room to change into new clothes. When he came out again, he was wearing a thick coat and a twisted pile of scarf around his neck, then he left.

As the door closed, Aunt Zhou, who had finished selecting vegetables, passed by with a pile of vegetables. Zhou Kaiji heard her saying, “Secretary Chen really should have a girlfriend.”

Zhou Kaiji continued eating the remaining breakfast and asked, “Is Secretary Chen single?”

Aunt Zhou confirmed it. Secretary Chen had been here before they arrived at this villa. At that time, the old master was still around and had introduced him to many people, but the answer was always “not in a hurry.”

And until now, there had been no movement from him.

Secretary Chen didn’t like others meddling too much. He did most things by himself, like tying his scarf. He wouldn’t let others touch it, regardless of how skilled or unskilled they were.

It was fine for a short time, but it would be inconvenient for a long time.

Zhou Kaiji lowered his head and slowly ate a bite of vegetables.

Aunt Zhou added, “But who knows, it might happen soon, especially with the upcoming negotiations this year.”

When the old master’s health wasn’t good, Secretary Chen was busy with work. After the old master passed away, he was busy looking for the young master. Now that he had found the young master and the company had stabilized, he might consider finding someone.

The shocking taste spread in his mouth, and Zhou Kaiji gulped down a glass of water, saying, “Is that so.”

Finally finishing the entire breakfast, he went back to his room and spent the morning quietly drinking glass after glass of water.

Chen Luosong went to work, and the high schooler reviewed his lessons. Three days of vacation passed like this.

Returning to school, Zhou Kaiji went from being Li Hua’s homework fairy to being the homework fairy for nearby classmates for the week.

The homework that had already been completed had been reserved by someone before coming to school. No one expected to find a complete set of answers for all subjects here.

Looking at the densely written paper, even for the last question, Li Hua turned his head and curiously asked, “What was your rank in the last exam?”

This kind of last question on the last big problem was the type they wouldn’t dare copy even if they had the answers. Unexpectedly, this person had done it and it looked legit. But in his memory, he had never seen this person’s name among the top students in the class.

Zhou Kaiji said he didn’t remember.

That period of time was a blur, and now looking back, memories of that time were fuzzy, not very clear. He just remembered sleeping during exams and ending up at the bottom of the grade rankings.

Li Hua also started recalling. He remembered seeing a name at the bottom of the report card before and didn’t dare to say anything more. Looking at the neatly written paper in his hand, similar to the standard answers, he realized that these seemingly self-written answers might actually be copied from somewhere.

Kind-hearted Li Hua chose not to expose his deskmate and instead sent a sympathetic glance.

Working so hard yet performing poorly in exams, although his deskmate was good-looking, his brain wasn’t up to par. Li Hua didn’t know how to console him and could only express his encouragement in this silent way.

Receiving a look of pity inexplicably, Zhou Kaiji didn’t quite understand and chose to stay silent.

After finishing the homework, it was time for revision. On the night of revision, the class teacher issued the exam schedule.

During the midterm exams, students were divided into exam rooms based on their grades. Zhou Kaiji naturally went to the last exam room. The person sitting near him, who had just borrowed his homework for an emergency, was pleasantly surprised and shook his hand, calling him “good brother” several times.

This “good brother” was someone who often frequented the last exam room. In a sense, it took some skill to get into the last exam room, so he rarely encountered classmates from his own class going to the last exam room. Now that he caught one, it was like meeting a long-lost relative.

Li Hua looked at his deskmate’s expressionless face, patted his shoulder silently, offering comfort.

These past few days had been cloudy, and it happened to start raining on the day of the exam.

Outside the window, the rain was heavy, creating a gloomy atmosphere. Inside the classroom, the heater was on, the lights were bright, and there was the sound of pens scratching on exam papers.

As the exam time passed halfway, some had already put down their pens, lying down peacefully, giving up the struggle.

After finishing the last subject, when the bell rang, almost everyone in the exam room stood up and walked away immediately. Zhou Kaiji tidied up his pen and draft paper, and as he left the classroom, Good Brother caught up with him, curious, “I’ve been watching you for a long time from behind, what were you writing during the exam? You wrote for so long.”

The last subject was the beloved and praised comprehensive science. If you didn’t know a topic in science, you simply didn’t know it. Those who knew what to write finished their questions, leaving the rest to lie down. This was the norm in the last exam room, but today an exception appeared.

Zhou Kaiji said he was doing the questions.

Good Brother felt he wasn’t being entirely honest.

The evening of the exam day was dedicated to comparing answers, turning a classroom from excitement to silence, with only a short time spent on choosing the answers for multiple-choice questions.

Today’s classmates were particularly exhausted; they didn’t even move when class ended, except for Zhou Kaiji, who flew out of the classroom as usual.

Secretary Chen was very busy during these exam days, and he didn’t want to keep the other person waiting too long.

When the high schooler walked out of the school gate, Chen Luosong was on the phone. As he noticed the person towering above the crowd, he raised his hand slightly and waved.

As the figure approached, he ended the call and casually pocketed his phone.

Sitting in the car with the high schooler, smoothly merging into traffic, Chen Luosong took off the scarf around his neck. Before asking about school matters as usual, he said, “I have a banquet to attend tomorrow in E City, won’t be able to come back at night to pick you up.”

Zhou Kaiji paused while putting down his backpack, then responded with a “okay,” followed by a delayed reaction, saying, “Have a safe trip.”

Chen Luosong turned to look at him, smiled, and asked, “Are you going to miss me?”

With the lights outside flickering, Zhou Kaiji lowered his head and fell silent for a moment.

A very soft voice came from the quiet car, “A little.”

Originally just a joke, Chen Luosong didn’t expect Zhou Xiaoji to respond seriously. He playfully flicked the side of his face with his hand, then raised it to tousle the high schooler’s hair. Unable to hold back his smile, he said, “At this time, you should say you’ll miss me very much.”

Zhou Kaiji looked at the momentarily illuminated face in the light and involuntarily looked away.

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