Chapter 18 – Astray Youth (18)

The lights outside the window flickered suddenly. Zhou Kaiji glanced at the person next to him, who still had his eyes closed. He then lowered his head and looked at his phone, tapping on a picture and saving it.

Although he only saved a photo, his heart inexplicably raced, feeling a bit inexplicably guilty. He unconsciously turned to look out the window.

The window was closed, but he could see the reflection of the person sitting next to him.

Chen Luosong woke up during the latter half of the return journey, awakened by the faint vibration of his phone.

He half-opened his eyes and dealt with the message. After putting away his phone, he glanced slightly and smiled at the high schooler who was wide awake and not at all sleepy, saying, “Did you sleep enough on the plane?”

Upon hearing this question, Zhou Kaiji immediately thought of the photo he had just seen and was at a loss for how to answer for a moment. He could only mumble a vague response.

“I heard you’ve been busy these past two days,” Chen Luosong asked, “Why didn’t you refuse them?”

Zhou Kaiji replied, “They are Brother Chen’s employees.”

Chen Luosong glanced at him and asked, “Do you like them?”

Zhou Kaiji said they were nice people.

Chen Luosong then asked him, “Have you thought about what you’ll do in the future?”

‘What I’ll do in the future?’ Zhou Kaiji slightly lowered his head, looking at his hands that were no longer covered in the calluses they once had. He couldn’t answer immediately.

At first, he just wanted to make money, pay off his debts, and didn’t dare to imagine further into the future or know if he even had one.

Before, he had wanted to study hard and get into a good university. But regarding university, he just didn’t want to let Secretary Chen down for all the effort he had put into him.

He didn’t know what he would do in the future.

Then he heard the person next to him ask, “Do you want to try managing a company?”

Not quite understanding the meaning of this question, Zhou Kaiji widened his eyes slightly and looked at the person sitting next to him.

The driver quietly sitting in front also unconsciously glanced at the rearview mirror.

“Just asking,” Chen Luosong smiled and said, “You don’t have to answer right away.”

“What about you, Brother Chen,” Zhou Kaiji asked, “What kind of person do you want me to be?”

Chen Luosong rested his chin on his hand and said, “A good person.”


The day after the team-building activity, the high schooler and a few classmates went to the library to do homework, while Chen Luosong went to work as usual.

Perhaps due to the team-building activity, the employees were in good spirits these past few days, and the look in their eyes as they stared at their computer screens was not as numb as before.

The people in the office did have a good time. Without any speeches from leaders or strange team-building games to build cohesion, it was essentially a company-funded trip. Coming back from the trip with year-end project bonuses settled, they could even do the most difficult tasks with a smile.

Chen Luosong spent the entire morning either in meetings or in his office. Although he had been handling matters during the team-building activity, the environment was limited, so some things had to wait until he returned to be dealt with.

Approaching noon, his assistant reminded him that it was almost time to leave to meet Mr. Yuan.

Taking off his glasses perched on his nose, Chen Luosong set aside the half-read documents and acknowledged the reminder.

The morning had been too busy, and he had forgotten that he was supposed to meet Yuan Yan at noon. Last month, they had discussed cooperation with the Yuan Group, and this was supposed to be the first major project under Yuan Yan’s control, which was quite important.

He often called to discuss progress or arrange meetings, but sometimes those calls were mixed with meaningless conversations. The other party had already started scheduling a meeting while he was still on the team-building trip, and his schedule upon return was packed, leaving only meal times available, so they agreed to meet during lunch.

The assistant had arranged for the driver to be ready early, and when Chen Luosong arrived, the driver had just pulled up to the building.

He sat in the back seat, and the driver confirmed with him, “Are we going to Yuhu Road?”

Chen Luosong confirmed.

The assistant didn’t get in the car but watched as the vehicle left from behind.

Yuhu Road wasn’t too far; the drive only took about twenty minutes. The driver drove smoothly while Chen Luosong reviewed the documents in the back seat. By the time they arrived and he got out of the car, he had finished dealing with the remaining morning documents.

It wasn’t time for the agreed meeting yet when he stepped out of the car, and Yuan Yan was already standing by the roadside, easily visible at first glance.

He was noticeable not because Chen Luosong was particularly familiar with him, but because he was quite conspicuous.

After all, it wasn’t common for someone to carry a briefcase in one hand and hold a large bouquet of flowers in the other while standing on the street.

The driver, who hadn’t witnessed such a scene before, widened his eyes in surprise and finally reacted, driving the car away.

Having remembered what Chen Luosong’s car looked like, Yuan Yan glanced over as Chen Luosong got out of the car, and his steps followed suit.

He was tall, impeccably dressed in a suit, with an unstoppable smile on his face. This street was considered one of the busiest nearby, and many people glanced over at him.

Without commenting on the flowers in his hand or his overly bright smile, Chen Luosong just glanced at him slightly and said, “Are you worried that the journalists won’t have any news to write?”

“Then let the PR department release the news of our cooperation,” Yuan Yan attempted to hand over the flowers, saying, “It’ll save on advertising costs.”

No one took the large bouquet of bright white roses, as he had expected, and he didn’t seem too saddened by it. He continued holding them and gestured in a direction, saying, “The restaurant we booked for lunch is over there.”

The restaurant he mentioned was a café.

Yuan Yan probably knew that Secretary Chen didn’t have time for elaborate meals, so he chose this place. The simple meals at this restaurant were decent.

After placing the bouquet on the table and adjusting it a bit, Yuan Yan finally withdrew his hand, satisfied.


The time had already reached noon. After battling through the morning at the library, a group of high school students were dizzy from rushing to finish their homework. Good Brother was the one who collapsed first, lying amidst a towering pile of homework.

There were many people at the library today, mostly students ranging from middle school to university. It was lunchtime, and many people were leaving their seats, presumably to go eat.

Observing this, Li Hua suggested a break and eat lunch first.

The others raised their hands in agreement, so Zhou Kaiji temporarily put down his pen.

There wasn’t much to eat near the library, Li Hua had already mapped it out before he came here, not too far from here, along Yuhu Road, there was a street that would suffice for their basic food needs.

Moreover, his goal was far beyond just satisfying hunger. Since they were already near Yuhu Road, there was no reason not to take a stroll. And so, they went.

The street was bustling with people. Li Hua and a few others looked around, and when they turned back, they saw someone walking behind them taking a picture of the street with their phone, then looking down as if sending a message.

And it was Zhou Kaiji sending a message. He had developed a habit of notifying Secretary Chen whenever he went out, but he couldn’t remember when he had started it.

“Playing with your phone while walking. Wait… is that Brother Chen?” Li Hua criticized the person walking and looking at their phone, then shifted his gaze from across the street, suddenly stopping in his tracks.

The others were still discussing what was interesting about this street when they quickly turned their heads upon hearing Li Hua’s words.

Zhou Kaiji still had his phone in his hand as he turned to look as well.

Li Hua was looking at the coffee shop across the street, recognizing it easily by its second-floor window. At a glance, they could see the large bouquet of flowers and the person sitting next to it.

Someone exclaimed in surprise, “It really is.”

They noticed the other person, but the other person hadn’t noticed them; he just lowered his head to take a sip of coffee, his brows furrowed as if contemplating something.

Li Hua said, “So Brother Chen works around here.”

Zhou Kaiji remained silent.

The others didn’t know, but he knew that the person worked a distance away from here.

Then Li Hua and the others saw the person who had been quietly sipping coffee smile.

Realizing something was off, they took a couple of steps to the side, and that’s when they noticed there was another person behind the flowers.

A man, objectively speaking, looked quite handsome, with a cigarette in his mouth but unlit. His smile was even brighter than the flowers beside him.

The clever high schoolers instantly sensed that something was off.

Firstly, the stranger’s gaze and smile were not quite right. Li Hua nudged the person next to him, saying, “Comrade Zhou, do you have any insider information?”

Zhou Kaiji didn’t know; he didn’t even know why the person was there. Secretary Chen had told him in the morning that he would be very busy today and would be at the office all day.

He didn’t know, but he remembered the scent of smoke he had often smelled on Secretary Chen, who never smoked, the mention of introducing him to “Mr. Yuan” at an appropriate time, the flowers at the office entrance, and the phone call he received a few days ago while on the snow mountain.

Li Hua rubbed his chin, saying, “You might have a new big brother soon.”

Good Brother added, “Maybe you already do.”

Voices kept ringing in his ears as Zhou Kaiji looked down at his phone.

On it were the messages he had just sent, along with more meaningless messages and the top note “[Brother Chen].”

Li Hua and Good Brother chatted, and eventually, they noticed that the person standing aside didn’t seem quite happy.

Li Hua asked, “Why do you look unhappy?”

Realizing he was the one being asked, Zhou Kaiji turned his head and said, “Do I look unhappy?”

“Well, you look quite grim,” Li Hua nodded objectively, “Generally, a younger brother would be happy to know that Brother Chen is in a relationship.”

The phone screen turned off, and Zhou Kaiji lowered his head to look at his reflection on the screen. His gaze shifted to the side, where he saw his fingers gripping the edge of the phone, the pressure making them pale.

He wasn’t happy. A true younger brother would be happy knowing that Secretary Chen had a partner, but he couldn’t find that happiness.

He seemed to realize… he didn’t want to be Secretary Chen’s younger brother.

He didn’t want to see Secretary Chen with someone else, didn’t want anyone to take Secretary Chen away.

He wanted the closest relationship, but he didn’t want to be forever seen as the younger brother.

Seeing the flowers given by others made him upset, smelling someone else’s scent on Secretary Chen made him sad, receiving calls from someone else made him heartbroken.


Something flashed through his mind, and Zhou Kaiji’s pupils trembled, his hand holding the phone slowly lowering.

He seemed to understand now.

He didn’t like Brother Chen; he liked Secretary Chen, Chen Luosong.

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