Chapter 9.2 – Astray Youth (9)

Early the next day.

Zhou Kaiji got up on time as usual, changed his clothes, and went downstairs. Unexpectedly, he didn’t see the person who usually would already be sitting in the living room.

The old butler told him, “Secretary Chen left early this morning.”

Zhou Kaiji nodded in response, with his school bag in one hand.

Before the high schooler woke up, Chen Luosong had already boarded the plane. He had some matters to attend to in E City and needed to leave early.

By the time he finished his tasks, it was already afternoon, approaching the start of the banquet.

Today’s banquet was the birthday celebration of the former chairman of the Yuan Group. Zhou Kaiji’s father had a good relationship with the former chairman, and they used to often meet up for drinks, with frequent interactions between their families. In recent years, the former chairman’s health had deteriorated, so he had moved to the south to recuperate. This trip was for the former chairman, and Chen Luosong had to make this journey.

Logically speaking, Zhou Kaiji should have accompanied him this time, but it wasn’t time yet.

The banquet was held at a hotel, and this time it was grand, with the entire hotel booked, spanning several floors, including banquet halls and rooms prepared for the guests attending the banquet. All the hotel staff were mobilized for this event.

When Chen Luosong arrived, the banquet hall was brightly lit, and there were already quite a few people present. The person who welcomed him into the banquet hall handed him a glass of wine, which he took but didn’t drink. He glanced down at the time.

At this hour, high school students should already be starting their evening self-study sessions.

After glancing at the time and then looking up, he found himself surrounded by a group of people, some familiar faces and some strangers.

The former chairman of the Yuan Group hadn’t appeared yet. Holding his wine glass, he wore a faint smile on his face, listening to the conversations around him and occasionally responding.

Some people naturally stood out wherever they were, emitting a certain aura, gentle to everyone but also maintaining a distance.

The banquet hadn’t officially started yet. Some were busy socializing, while others were busy exchanging contact information with others, already sweating from the busyness.

As more and more people came forward to greet him, Chen Luosong held his wine glass steadily from start to finish.

On the hour, the elderly man with a cane appeared, and applause filled the room.

Although today was a birthday banquet, the focus didn’t seem to be solely on celebrating the birthday. The proceedings were unexpectedly concise, with only one speech and another segment afterward, but Chen Luosong didn’t pay attention to it.

Before the next segment began, the former chairman, having finished his speech, came over to talk to him. Since moving to the south, the former chairman had gradually started to delegate authority and was not keen on moving around much. It had been a long time since they sat down together like this to talk.

In some ways, the former chairman had a personality similar to his, not fond of meaningless chatter. Watching the constant movement of people in the banquet hall, even with aging eyes, the former chairman remained sharp and straightforward, saying, “I’m not in A City, so please take care of that boy Yuan Yan.”

“You also know his stubborn temperament. There’s hardly anyone who can persuade him.”

Yuan Yan is his youngest son and also the future successor of the Yuan family. He has two children; his eldest daughter is pursuing a career in research, so it falls upon his youngest son to take over the family business. Fortunately, despite Yuan Yan’s stubborn nature, he has some business acumen and can bear significant responsibilities. With him now in the south, the family business and Yuan Yan remain in A City, too far away for his peace of mind.

As the second segment was about to conclude, the atmosphere in the banquet hall became lively again. People noticed the two individuals sitting on the side, and glances were subtly directed their way. The former chairman stood up with his cane, exchanged greetings, and was escorted away by an attendant.

Once the two individuals separated, others immediately approached them.

Across the crowd, Chen Luosong saw a person walking towards the side of the former chairman who had just left. This person was tall, standing out conspicuously among the crowd, dressed in a proper suit with a well-tied tie this time. However, there was an air of nonchalance about him, not quite fitting the image of a serious businessman.

This was Yuan Yan, as mentioned by the former chairman, whom he had recently encountered at the hotel where the cooperative banquet was held.

As if sensing something through the crowd, Yuan Yan, who was conversing with the former chairman, turned his head and glanced over. Upon seeing someone, he first looked surprised, then habitually furrowed his brows before redirecting his gaze.

Not just Chen Luosong, but others around also noticed Yuan Yan’s arrival, which seemed to have occurred unnoticed. Someone curious remarked, “Why didn’t Young Master Yuan bring a companion today? Did he break up again?”

Gossip is an indispensable human trait no matter where you go. Someone who knew a bit more replied, “He’s broken up several times in the past couple of years.”

Aside from his business acumen, Yuan Yan is most famously known in circles for frequently changing companions. Just a few days ago, he was seen alone, and a few days later, another person occupied the passenger seat beside him. It’s been said that he has been scolded numerous times by the former chairman for this behavior but remains stubbornly unchanged.

Chen Luosong didn’t engage in the gossip and paid little attention to it. He glanced at the time, took a slow sip of his wine, and continued observing the surroundings.


The old man wasn’t feeling well, so Yuan Yan had someone take him to rest. When he returned, he happened to meet a friend. True to form, the friend immediately handed him a glass of highly concentrated liquor.

As soon as he took the glass, the friend told him, “That person has also arrived.”

They were referring to the influential figure from Guangsheng. While that person was referred to as secretary, he had far surpassed the typical secretary’s role, holding over half of the shares and absolute power, being called secretary but operating as the one in control.

Although it was said that these shares would transfer to the other side once Guangsheng’s former chairman’s son returned, no one believed that a person missing for over a decade could be found, nor did anyone believe that the secretary would really bother to look.

Even though they had already met once today, when the friend spoke, Yuan Yan turned to look again.

The person standing in the distance was also dressed in a suit, with a neat shirt, listening quietly to the conversation nearby, smiling lightly.

A smiling tiger.

Yuan Yan raised his eyebrows, immediately retracting his gaze, pausing for a moment before turning his head again.

Noticing the person seemed to be inching towards the other side, the friend promptly held him back, saying, “Don’t keep going up to that person.”

It was mainly because it always didn’t end well, and always leaving Yuan Yan sulking. This person could spar with the old man and his generation, but now he was no match.

Finally, they managed to hold Yuan Yan back. A friend wiped his sweat and asked, “Why do you always have to argue with him?”

It was fortunate that both families had strong relationships, able to withstand this person’s antics.

Yuan Yan remained silent, finished his drink in one gulp, poured another glass, and clinked glasses with another person coming towards him.

Though it was called a birthday banquet, it was actually a step in the old master’s transfer of power. Several friends understood this and voluntarily stepped aside.

The old master retired to his room, leaving Yuan Yan to be the busiest person at the banquet. He hadn’t had a break since it began. With just a thin layer of alcohol left in his glass, he placed it on the tray held out by a waiter, declined the offer of a new glass, glanced around, and headed straight for the corner balcony.

Having drunk too much, his head felt dizzy, making it a good time to step outside for some fresh air.

As he opened the sliding doors, they made a soft sound, and the night breeze greeted him.

Someone was already on the balcony, an unexpected person. He was leaning against the railing, his tousled hair blowing back to reveal faint features.

If his friends were here at this moment, they would surely advise him not to go any further.

But they weren’t here at this moment.

So Yuan Yan continued forward.

The doors closed, instantly shutting out the lively noises.

Leaning against the railing with his back turned, he lowered his head to light a cigarette, the glowing ember casting a crimson hue. As the smoke dispersed, he turned slightly and asked, “Want one?”

The person on the balcony, enjoying the breeze, glanced at him and smiled, “No, thanks.”

Yuan Yan extinguished the cigarette in his hand.

He hated it when this person acted like this.

Always smiling formulaically, always so indifferent. Maintaining absolute rationality and objectivity towards everything, never revealing his true thoughts or feelings, never showing any emotional fluctuations.

It was like he always wore a mask, and Yuan Yan despised such hypocrisy.

Still feeling the effects of the alcohol he had consumed excessively, his mind was still heated, the balcony’s light dimly illuminating. He leaned slightly to the side, leaning forward a bit, meeting the gaze of the person beside him, and said, “Secretary Chen, don’t you find it boring to always be like this?”

Chen Luosong asked him, “Do you want something more stimulating?”

Yuan Yan hadn’t expected this response, hesitated for a moment, then said yes.

Chen Luosong asked again, and he patiently repeated himself.

Then the person who had been quietly leaning against the railing suddenly moved, his actions swift, catching him off guard.


Chen Luosong placed one hand on the railing and used the other to pull up the tie of the person in front of him. The person who had been loosely leaning against the railing was now forced backward, with most of their body hanging in mid-air.

Yuan Yan gripped the railing tightly with both hands, his body mostly outside the railing, feeling the wind blowing from below. The person holding his tie looked down at him with no trace of their usual smile, completely different.

Although they were on the first floor of the banquet hall, it was also the sixteenth floor of the hotel.

His only support was his hands gripping the inner edge of the railing, with the other person having only one hand on the railing, not firmly grasping it.

Any slight movement, and both of them would fall together from this sixteenth floor.

His previously muddled brain cleared up considerably, his heartbeat accelerating. Yuan Yan’s pupils dilated as he looked at the person right in front of him.

Apart from the smell of smoke and alcohol, he could also catch a faint scent of fragrance. It wasn’t like perfume, very subtle, almost indistinguishable amidst the smell of alcohol, only noticeable at such a close distance.

The proximity was truly too close.

He could even feel the slight friction as the other person’s eyelashes brushed against his skin, see the faintly illuminated cold pupils, too close that he felt he could touch the bridge of his nose hidden in the light… and his lips below.

Yuan Yan inappropriately recalled hearing someone say once that Secretary Chen seemed very approachable.

He remembered being quite puzzled by such remarks at the time, even scoffing at them.

The wind between the tall buildings continued to blow, tossing hair and blurring the vision.

His grip on the railing gradually weakened, a sense of falling looming. Just as he was about to slip down, he was pulled back by his tie, brought back to safety on the balcony.

Chen Luosong asked him, “Was that stimulating enough?”

His voice remained calm as ever, completely unlike someone who had just done something highly inappropriate.

Yuan Yan’s heart was still racing. Leaning against the railing, he struggled to catch his breath, unable to speak for a moment.

He remained silent, and Chen Luosong didn’t seem to expect an answer either. He straightened his slightly disheveled jacket, turned, and went back to the banquet hall.

Yuan Yan was left alone on the balcony, his body sliding down against the railing until he ended up squatting ungracefully on the balcony floor. He could still hear his heart pounding wildly in his ears. Lowering his head, his fingers unconsciously traced over his lower lip.


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