Chapter 27 – Astray Youth (27)

Just a moment ago, that person seemed vaguely familiar, but Li Hua recognized this person for real.

After all, they had eaten together before, and even before that, they had stayed under the same roof.

Before anyone noticed him, Li Hua quietly retreated to his dark corner, trying to skillfully mention his classmate Zhou in a message. However, just as he was about to do so, the supervisor walked by, and he hastily put away his phone.

After several attempts, he repeatedly went upstairs and then downstairs, taking the opportunity to glance at the corner while walking on the second floor.

After confirming repeatedly, he finally dared to conclude.

It really was Brother Chen.

The last time he saw Brother Chen, he was usually dressed in casual home clothes, very warm and ordinary. Now, suddenly appearing in this place, it was a bit unexpected.

After being busy for a few hours, he finally had twenty minutes of break time. He immediately went upstairs. There was a good spot on the second floor, as a helpful senior had informed him.

However, he was obviously a step late as the good spot was already taken. Not wanting to give up this precious twenty minutes, Li Hua approached, trying to negotiate with the person, saying, “Friend, can we stay here together?”

In the darkness, the friend turned his head.

Li Hua: “…”

Oh no, it’s the boss.

Bad news, it’s the boss. Good news, the boss actually cleared a spot for him and instructed, “Don’t make a sound, no sudden movements.”

…What a surprisingly skilled move.

Li Hua: “Okay, boss.”

He then asked, “Boss, are you afraid of Bro—that person?”

The boss looked at the person smiling in the distance, looking somewhat uncomfortable, and said, “Do you know there’s a hidden blade behind a smile?”

Chen Luosong followed Yuan Yan upstairs. He wasn’t particularly fond of drinking, but he could drink and treat it like any other beverage.

Yuan Yan knew his personality and what he wanted to know. Without delay after sitting down, he explained everything.

After taking a sip of wine, Chen Luosong lightly tapped his fingers on the table, then stopped, raised his gaze, and said thanks.

“Don’t say thanks,” Yuan Yan said, “it makes us feel too distant.”

After he finished speaking, he put down the wine glass in his hand, reached for the bag he had been carrying, and said, “I saw this while browsing over there and thought it would suit you well.”

Inside the bag was a box containing a watch. It looked very simple, without too many decorations, emitting a faint light.

He pushed the box forward and said, “I remember you always wear just one watch. Sometimes, it’s good to try something new, to freshen up.”

Chen Luosong looked down at his wrist, where the silver dial shimmered faintly in the light. He slightly raised his eyes and said, “This one is enough.”

Yuan Yan didn’t say much more, took a sip of wine, and asked about something else, “I heard from the old man that you’re planning to give him a company to play with.”

The “him” he was referring to was quite obvious.

Chen Luosong acknowledged with a response.

Yuan Yan said, “Isn’t it too soon? Whether it’s managing a company from scratch or considering age.”

This decision didn’t quite align with the cautious style the other person usually employed.

Turning the wine glass in his hand, Chen Luosong said, “I don’t have much time left.”

Yuan Yan didn’t quite grasp the meaning behind this statement.

In the background of the lounge, the sound of a piano was faint, and the clinking of ice cubes in the glasses created subtle noises. Something seemed to unexpectedly exceed expectations and veer off course.

A vague emotion spread in his heart, and he slightly twitched his mouth, saying, “Why does it sound like you won’t be staying here anymore?”

Chen Luosong tilted his head slightly, smiling.


Zhou Kaiji received Li Hua’s message asking about Brother Chen’s occupation late at night.

Just like before, he answered that he was a secretary, then put down his phone and continued looking at the documents on his computer.

Secretary Chen handed over a company to him, a subsidiary under a sub-brand that was originally established to explore new fields. However, the testing results were not ideal, and the team from the sub-brand had already reported plans for restructuring and recovery. After a series of changes, it ultimately landed in his hands.

This was a field he had never been involved in, with a lot to learn.

The biggest difference now was that once he made a decision, Secretary Chen wouldn’t scrutinize it further. Every decision he made would be put into practice and carried out by himself.

Reviving a company was much harder in practice than in theory.

From taking over the company until a long time later, he spent most of his time shuttling between school and the company, adjusting routes, restructuring the company’s personnel, and searching for new partners.

When people get busy, time seems to fly by.

Zhou Kaiji never feared time passing too quickly because with every passing minute, he felt closer to Secretary Chen.

From autumn to the following autumn, the seasons passed both long and swiftly.

Before the last chill of autumn’s cold wave arrived, Secretary Chen mentioned wanting him to attend a banquet.

Since the establishment of the group, marking another decade, there was an anniversary celebration with an evening banquet. People from the same circle, partners, company executives, and employees all attended.

The banquet was held at a hotel in the city center, just like the previous banquet for Old Master Yuan’s birthday, where the entire hotel was booked.

This time, he stood beside Secretary Chen instead of waiting at the villa as he used to, waiting for the other party to return home late at night.

The lights were bright, and figures mingled.

Most people at the banquet came with their partners, looking glamorous, with scents of alcohol and perfume wafting in the air.

Chen Luosong was initially chatting with someone but later moved to a less crowded area and found a seat.

Sitting next to him was Old Master Yuan, Yuan Yan had been flying abroad recently, so only he came. Given his physical condition, he should be sitting, resting peacefully.

Noticing someone sit down beside him, he turned to glance and then turned his head to look at a tall figure with long legs in the crowd, saying, “I heard he manages the company quite well.”

Chen Luosong replied, “Indeed, he has made some money.”

Old Master Yuan glanced sideways at the person beside him and sighed, “Looks like there’s already an heir apparent.”

If the company isn’t too large in scale and the internal and external factors aren’t too complex, the heir apparent might even be ready to take over directly.

“Made some money” is a subtle way of putting it. In the situation of the company, being able to turn a profit is already impressive. Going further to make money on top of that is challenging for most in this generation, making it outstanding.

“He still has a lot to learn,” Chen Luosong said, “We’ll have to trouble Old Master Yuan to look after him more in the future.”

Old Master Yuan, upon hearing his words and realizing something, turned his head with his cane, his slightly half-closed old eyes opening a bit wider.

The person who had been in the crowd turned and walked towards them. The person sitting beside him smiled, set down his wine glass, and stood up.

As the person approached, even from a distance, he started calling out “Brother Chen.” The youthful innocence that had been there before had gradually settled into a sense of maturity.

Mature, but still with a hint of silly charm when smiling at Secretary Chen.

Old Master Yuan watched and eventually lowered his old eyes, letting out a sigh.

Zhou Kaiji followed the person to the balcony.

The wind outside blew, slightly dissipating the smell of alcohol on them. Chen Luosong leaned against the railing and asked, “Are you doing okay tonight?”

Zhou Xiaokai said he was doing fine, then heard the person beside him say that he would have to organize the next anniversary celebration by himself.

He agreed.

The next anniversary celebration was in ten years. He said, “In the next ten years, I will definitely stand by Secretary Chen’s side.”

Chen Luosong originally intended to mess with the person’s hair, but his hand lifted slightly and then chose to pat the person’s neck from behind, saying, “Kid, call me Brother Chen.”

On the balcony, the sky was dark, illuminated only by the brilliant lights of the hotel.

After the anniversary celebration ended, for a long time afterward, people kept talking about how many people attended that day who usually don’t meet, how many celebrities were there, and how grand the event was.

For Zhou Kaiji, once it was over, it was in the past. After the banquet, he returned to his life between school and the company. The subsidiary he took over was just the beginning, not everything. After the system matured, he handed it over to others for management, focusing temporarily on studying again.

In his third year, as classmates started deciding whether to continue studying or enter the workforce, he gradually took over the company. By the time he graduated in his fourth year, he officially took charge of a subsidiary under the company.

When Li Hua was still debating between higher-paying 996 jobs or regular laid-back work, he learned about this and angrily called him a wicked rich person. He decided that the dinner he had originally planned to treat him to would now be split evenly (AA system), resolutely not allowing him to earn an extra penny.

From the second half of the year, Zhou Kaiji noticed Secretary Chen started coming home late more often.

Not for any other reason, just work, the specifics of which he didn’t know. He only saw once when he helped pick up a paper that looked like a resume sticking out from a file that had fallen on the ground.

He didn’t know, and he didn’t ask. If the other person didn’t tell him, it meant it wasn’t time for him to know yet. He just needed to wait, like every time before, until the day the other person told him.

When the weather turned cooler, he went to inspect new overseas markets for a month.

On December 21st, he returned to the country. Similar to previous years, the temperature dropped suddenly starting from that day, becoming especially noticeable by evening.

He encountered rush hour traffic on his way back from the airport, causing a massive jam on the roads.

It started raining, and at that moment when the already slow-moving traffic came to a halt, raindrops began falling on the car windows one by one. Zhou Kaiji turned his head and realized he was already on a familiar road.

A road he used to be very familiar with years ago. The convenience store on the roadside was still lit up, and the store clerks inside stood listlessly, waiting for customers to come and check out.

It was where he used to work.

He only glanced at it briefly before withdrawing his gaze, looking down at the time, then turning to the driver sitting in the driver’s seat, asking, “Has Brother Chen gone back already?”

The driver involuntarily shifted his gaze, trying to appear busy, but with the current traffic gridlock, there was nothing to do. He could only slightly lower his head and say that he wasn’t too sure either.

Since the driver couldn’t provide a clear answer, Zhou Kaiji asked directly. He had messaged the other person today, but there was no reply yet. At this time, the other person should have finished work, so he decided to call directly.

The person in the backseat picked up their phone and put it to their ear, causing the driver to completely avoid looking in the rearview mirror.

As soon as the voice came through the phone, Zhou Kaiji habitually smiled.

“Brother Chen…”

[I’m sorry, the number you have dialed is out of service.]

Finally, what had started as tentative rain quickly intensified, pouring down from the sky, drenching the ground, hitting tree leaves and cars, creating a series of sounds.

In the quiet car, amidst the silence, Zhou Kaiji ended the call, slightly lifting his head to look at the driver ahead, saying, “Uncle Zhang, I think I remembered Brother Chen’s number incorrectly. Could I borrow your phone to check the number?”

The driver’s grip on the steering wheel tightened, no movement, no words spoken, still not daring to look in the rearview mirror.

After so many years of making calls, it was impossible to have the wrong number. This they both knew.

A brief but tense silence followed. The person in the backseat’s emotions visibly fluctuated; he was probably afraid that Secretary Chen had met with an accident. He started searching for Secretary Chen’s assistant’s number, and even attempted to find Yuan Yan’s contact information, who enjoyed going out for drinks with Secretary Chen after work.

“Young Master.”

His throat was extremely dry; the driver’s eyes stared straight at the taillights of the car ahead, no deviation, swallowing hard before saying, “… Secretary Chen has resigned.”

“The board members all know; after Secretary Chen submitted his resignation, the company also made a public announcement… At that time, you were not in the country, perhaps you were unaware.”

A lie. Such a significant change couldn’t have failed to reach his ears, unless it was deliberately concealed.

“The handover has been completed; Secretary Chen has found someone to take over his position,” the driver said with closed eyes, “Additionally, Secretary Chen hopes you will initiate an emergency shareholders’ meeting; he said you should be aware of what follows.”

Initiating an emergency shareholders’ meeting, assuming the role of a new director, and taking charge of managing the company—this was the general idea from the other side.

“Lastly, if you have any doubts, you can consult Lawyer Ye at any time.”

After speaking, the driver took a quick deep breath.

Unexpectedly, after hearing everything, the person in the backseat didn’t react in any way he had imagined. He was surprisingly calm, only asking when it happened, sounding more rational than ever.

The driver replied that the resignation letter was copied to the board of supervisors two weeks ago, and the actual handover work began over a month ago. If one were to trace back to the selection of the person to take over the position, it actually started six months ago.

—Frequent late returns, the dropped resume.

Zhou Kaiji lowered his head and looked at the dark screen of his phone.

Unexpectedly, he managed to get through what he thought would be the most difficult time. The driver slightly sighed in relief, but halfway through, he heard the person in the backseat ask again, “So, did Brother Chen go home?”

Zhou Kaiji replied, “It’s raining. If he’s outside, he’ll get wet.”

On December 21st, today, a few years ago, Secretary Chen had held an umbrella for him and escorted him home. Today, perhaps it was his turn to pick up the other person and bring him home.


In the end, the driver couldn’t say another word.

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Dammit, this is so sad.

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