Chapter 11 – Astray Youth (11)

The day the results came out was a Friday, and most students went home carrying a heavy heart.

Zhou Kaiji contacted Secretary Chen, saying he had something to do and didn’t need a ride; he would go home by himself later.

Li Hua, at the earliest opportunity, gathered intelligence and offered to accompany him after school to do something together.

The truth was that Li Hua had scored so brilliantly this time that he didn’t dare go straight home. He wanted to hang around outside for a while before going back, considering it a sort of probation. The neighbors in front also immediately turned around, saying they would be happy to help today.

—Ever since they turned into a pile of rubbish, their grades have become extremely impressive.

So instead of Zhou Kaiji leaving school alone after class, a bunch of people left together.

Zhou Kaiji wanted to go to the mall.

He remembered the name of the mall Secretary Chen had taken him to before, and he looked it up. There were only two malls in this district with that name, one quite far away and the other even farther.

Far, but just enough to fulfill the wishes of several high schoolers who didn’t want to go home early. Everyone was excited, squeezing onto the bus together and getting off at the stop.

As soon as they got off, they could see the bright building occupying almost half the street.

Several high schoolers had never really wandered around such a mall before, looking left and right. While others were looking around, Zhou Kaiji was carefully studying the signs.

The store he wanted to go to was on the third floor.

The third floor was brightly lit, with a faint fragrance in the air. The store he was looking for was right after getting off the elevator.

The salesperson, upon seeing the group of high schoolers, paused for a moment, then quickly reacted and professionally asked what they needed.

Zhou Kaiji wanted to look at tie clips.

Since he was just browsing this time, he didn’t bother the salesperson for recommendations. He quietly lowered his head to look after reaching the counter.

Several high schoolers who had never worn formal attire or tied a tie before leaned over curiously, chatting as they looked at the items. Their conversation shifted from discussing which ones looked good to guessing the prices.

Zhou Kaiji spotted a silver tie clip with sleek lines and no patterns. He raised his head to ask the salesperson for the price, and the salesperson quoted a number.

Several high schoolers were shocked.

“How about we look at something more practical,” Li Hua turned and asked, “Who are you buying this for?”

It was obvious that the person beside him didn’t need this item; it was clearly for gifting.

Zhou Kaiji lowered his eyes slightly, his gaze stopping on the glass surface of the counter as he said, “For Brother Chen.”

He looked quiet and determined.

“…Brother Chen, huh,” Li Hua rubbed his chin, “Then it really should be something like this.”

Even though they had only met once before and couldn’t see any notable differences in the other person’s attire at that time, Li Hua just had this feeling that the other person naturally deserved something better.

He leaned in closer and said, “But you don’t have that much money.”

Zhou Kaiji lowered his eyes in thought and then replied, “The scholarship for being first in the exam is enough.”

The money he had previously earned from part-time work to pay off debts was still there, plus the scholarship for being first in the exam, which was enough.

Li Hua exclaimed, “Wow!”

The others echoed, “Wow!”

They didn’t offer any opinions on Zhou Kaiji’s desire to beat Li Yue, who had held the first place for years. After finishing looking at what they wanted, the high schoolers felt it was still early, so they headed to another mall nearby. It was crowded, lively, and had an arcade.

A group of big boys headed straight for the claw crane machines. When they learned that Zhou Kaiji had never played these before, they pooled their resources and generously gave him a beginner’s gift package since he had set his sights on being first in the exams.

The beginner’s gift package included twenty game tokens plus guidance from skilled players.

They made a bet: if Novice Zhou couldn’t grab a prize before using up the tokens, they would treat him to a meal; if he could grab one, then Novice Zhou would treat them.

And Novice Zhou managed to grab a small plush turtle with bean-shaped eyes, carrying a yellow chicken backpack on its shell.

They declared Novice Zhou the winner of the bet unilaterally, and since it was getting late, they suggested heading home.

Zhou Kaiji went in the opposite direction from them to another bus stop, while Li Hua was heading in the same direction for half the journey.

The sun was setting, casting the streets in a yellow hue. Li Hua was nervously rehearsing what to say to calm down his parents’ anger when he got home, while Zhou Kaiji looked down at the small turtle toy in his hand spinning slowly in the wind, a faint smile playing on his lips.

He wondered if Secretary Chen would like this.

“Here’s another piece of news: it’s reported that… the suspect has been detained by the public security authorities… the Supreme People’s Court of A City will handle the case according to the law.”

The voice came from behind.

The wind stopped, and the turtle stopped spinning. Zhou Kaiji turned to look at the television inside the electronics store on the street behind him through the glass window.

Through the yellow-tinted glass from the setting sun, he saw the appearance of the suspect on the TV.


His fingers holding the turtle toy moved slightly.

Bulging eyes, a bearded face.

—Exactly like the person in his dream.

The traffic light turned red then green, and the bus slowly pulled over. Li Hua turned to the person beside him who was staring blankly at the TV and without hesitation, gave him a nudge with his elbow, saying, “The bus is here.”

Zhou Kaiji snapped out of his trance, withdrew his gaze, and said, “Okay.”


Chen Luosong returned to the villa before the last glimmer of light disappeared from the horizon. The moment he came back, he saw the high schooler sitting quietly on the sofa, reading a book.

“Dinner hasn’t been served yet,” the butler took his coat and looked towards the person on the sofa, smiling as he said, “He said he wanted to wait for you to eat together.”

Chen Luosong smiled in response.

Even before the sound of the car engine was heard, Zhou Kaiji finished the last question, put down his pen, and called out, “Brother Chen.”

Chen Luosong acknowledged with a response and went to change his clothes.

The kitchen was still preparing the meal, so it would take some time. He sat on the sofa, lowered his head, and adjusted the buttons on his shirt cuffs.

The butler brought a glass of warm water and mentioned something about Yuan Yan.

He had heard that after the last birthday banquet of Old Master Yuan, he inexplicably became interested in bungee jumping and went to try it out. It was said that he jumped from a height of nearly a dozen stories and ended up in the hospital afterwards.

Chen Luosong raised an eyebrow slightly, “Got scared?”

Firstly, he ruled out equipment problems; if there were any, he wouldn’t need to stay in the hospital.

“No,” the butler said, “when he was going down the mountain, he sprained his foot and injured himself.”

It was an unexpectedly simple way to get injured.

Chen Luosong took a sip of water without making any comments about such behavior.

Zhou Kaiji, sitting nearby, stopped writing and glanced sideways.

It was the first time he heard that name from Secretary Chen’s mouth.

Chen Luosong noticed the sideways glance and said, “I’ll introduce you when there’s a chance.”

Zhou Kaiji asked, “Is he Brother Chen’s friend?”

Chen Luosong replied, “Not exactly.”

Zhou Kaiji lowered his eyes, then gripped the pen in his hand again, saying, “Okay.”

After dinner, the high schooler returned to his room to study.

Until he saw the figure disappear from view, the butler looked at the person sitting and slowly drinking hot water, whispering, “The gatekeeper said someone wanted to come in and have a look today.”

Even without hearing the description, one could guess it was someone from the board of directors.

A person in a high position would attract countless pairs of eyes, especially when a new person appeared around them; they would easily be noticed.

“Hold them off for now, no need to worry about it,” Chen Luosong set down his water glass and said, “I’ll chat with them in a few days.”

There was a party next week, followed by a meeting afterward. The people from the board of directors wouldn’t miss this opportunity.

Standing up and leaning on the table, he looked at the butler and said, “Keep an eye on Zhou Xiaokai here.”

The butler nodded.

A task that should have been quite tricky seemed to be handled effortlessly by this person.

In fact, it was indeed easy, at least from his perspective.

The high schooler had a routine, strictly going to school and coming back home, spending most of the time studying in the living room or his room. Occasionally, he would go to Secretary Chen’s room to read, so there was no need for any extra concern.

The party was scheduled for a weekday, and Chen Luosong left just as Zhou Xiaokai was about to start his evening self-study session.

After leaving work directly from the company, he left a message with the butler before leaving, instructing him to let the high schooler know that he would be back late tonight and if he wanted to talk, he should call.

The butler nodded.

The party started in the evening, and the roads were already being controlled in the afternoon. By the time Chen Luosong left, the roads were jammed with a continuous flow of cars.

It was probably the time for the red carpet, and the traffic moved slowly. Sitting in the back seat, he half-opened his eyes and looked out the window, catching sight of a bright red sports car not far ahead before redirecting his gaze.

After the vehicles moved forward for a while longer and made a turn, they finally left the traffic flow and entered another road.

Chen Luosong never participated in the red carpet events. The person in charge of the party was waiting at another entrance, and his eyes lit up upon seeing him, quickly going to greet him.

Unlike the previous entrance, there were no swarming reporters here, and they could directly enter the venue.

The venue was already crowded. Members of the board of directors had also arrived, and upon seeing Chen Luosong, some of them stood up immediately, but before they could approach, others had already rushed forward.

This time, Chen Luosong was just representing Guangsheng as a formality. Others knew his habits and knew he wouldn’t stay long, so they tried to talk to him as much as possible.

Some minor projects they were working on didn’t give them the opportunity to chat previously, but during such occasions, they could exchange a few words. They didn’t expect to strike a deal right away; at the very least, they wanted to leave an impression and establish familiarity.

However, with so many people today, and with Chen Luosong leaving shortly after arriving, they didn’t get much of a chance to make an impression. It felt more like they were just there for the sake of it.

The members of the board of directors didn’t get a chance to say a word to him.

They only got to have a conversation with him at the celebration banquet after the party.

Compared to the party, the celebration banquet had far fewer people. Those who were not relevant or who had come for socializing or taking photos had already left, and finally, there was a vacancy around Chen Luosong.

On their way there, members of the board of directors had already planned what to say when they met him. However, upon meeting him face to face, they saw the faint smile on his face up close, and their hearts tightened instantly, their hairs standing on end.

The former chairman had passed away, and this person had worn the same smile when systematically removing directors who stood out among the shareholders.

A polite conversation followed, not lasting too long. The members of the board of directors drank glass after glass of water as they spoke, and eventually, the waiters were almost pouring water directly into their glasses.

What they said wasn’t far from their expectations, and in fact, it was even less technical. Chen Luosong’s glass of warm water turned cold as time passed. He glanced at the clock and ended the conversation with a smile.

As the crowd buzzed around him and his pocket vibrated, he stood up and said, “Excuse me.”


Yuan Yan finally arrived at the celebration banquet and looked around in the crowd but didn’t see the person he was looking for.

Today was truly unlucky for him.

His foot wasn’t completely healed, and he had been planning to catch up with someone at the party, but the new driver didn’t take the other entrance as he had expected. Instead, he went straight to the main entrance near the red carpet, causing a half-hour delay in just a short distance.

By the time he and the slow-moving people on the red carpet made it inside the party, someone informed him that Secretary Chen had already left.

The venue for the party and the celebration banquet were not in the same place. And when he arrived there, he heard that Secretary Chen was chatting with the directors of Guangsheng. When he walked over, he only saw a few faces looking gloomy sitting there.

He automatically ignored these people, randomly picked a passerby, and asked, “Do you know where Secretary Chen is?”

The passerby said Secretary Chen should be in the outdoor garden.

So Yuan Yan went to the small garden.

The small garden was open-air, not a greenhouse, and it was freezing in the evening, and it happened to be snowing today. No one was eager to go outside, but he stepped onto the piled-up white snow in the small garden and immediately spotted the person standing not far away, slowly moving closer.


“Can’t sleep again?”

A soft voice came, and Yuan Yan stopped in his tracks. Upon closer inspection, he noticed that the person was holding a phone and making a call.

“…Can’t understand any of those books?”

The person standing in the snow smiled and said, “I’ll come back and explain them to you.”

Having stayed frozen in place for too long, Yuan Yan took a step forward without realizing it, sinking his foot into the snow and making a slight sound.

The person with the phone turned his head.

He still had a faint smile on his face, and the light from the phone illuminated his light-colored pupils. The fine snow fell quietly on his scattered hair and eyelashes.

Yuan Yan’s heart skipped a beat.

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