It wasn’t like Ji Wei hadn’t suspected it before. Qin Man and Ji Ran, these two people, never had any sort of relationship. After the Qin family went bankrupt, how did they suddenly get together?
But he quickly denied this thought. Firstly, he had never heard that Qin Man was gay and secondly, he never considered that there was anything about Ji Ran that could attract Qin Man.
However, the positions of these two clearly hinted that their relationship surpassed that of ordinary friends.
Everyone only came back to their senses after Qin Man turned around, revealing the cigarette between his lips. As it turned out, he was only borrowing a light.
Only Ji Wei was still frowning. Even if it was simply borrowing a light, it was still too intimate.
The atmosphere stagnated for a moment. A man beside Ji Wei broke the tense atmosphere and laughed. “Qin Man, how interesting. We’ll be waiting for an explanation.”
Ji Ran was also dragged back to reality and finally remembered how to exert his strength. Borrowing his force, Qin Man straightened his back and there was finally some distance between them.
“Affair my ass.” Ji Ran spat softly.
Qin Man laughed in a low voice and exhaled. By the time he turned around, his expression had undergone several changes.
He stoically explained, “I’m celebrating a friend’s birthday.”
One of the sharp-eyed friends saw Ji Ran and cried out in surprise. “Isn’t that Ji Ran? They still… contact each other?”
There was no one among them who didn’t know who Ji Ran was since he was Ji Wei’s step-brother from a different mother. He was also the one who constantly came to pick fights with Qin Man all day long.
Those who followed behind Ji Wei all despised Ji Ran. Back when they were in school, there weren’t any lack of times when the two exchanged cold gazes and curt words whenever they met. Although they were frightened off by Ji Ran’s fists later on, they were still filled with contempt. Even now, their stares were filled with ridicule and mockery.
Ji Ran may have had a bad temper, but he also had a brain. With that group of people around Ji Wei, engaging with Ji Wei would only leave him at the losing end.
Leaving a single word behind, Ji Ran put out his cigarette and turned to leave.
“What did he say?” After Ji Ran left, the man finally reacted and his expression turned ugly. “Ji Wei, why is your brother still as hateful as ever?”
“Qin Man, why are you hanging around such a person?” That man seemed to have recalled something. “Has he pestered you ever since you graduated?”
“I still have something on, you guys continue.” Qin Man didn’t answer him directly, only nodded, which could have been considered a greeting. Then, he turned to follow after Ji Ran.
They had long been accustomed to this attitude of Qin Man’s. Even in school, Qin Man had always been aloof and never had a deep relationship with anyone. It was as if they were merely acquaintances passing by on a shared public bus, and strangers once they’d arrived at their destination.
“These two are exactly the same as before…”
“Sigh, did you guys hear about it?”
“Qin Man’s family is bankrupt!”
“Who doesn’t know about it? It’s quite terrible. Such a prideful person still has to worry about money.”
“Isn’t that so?”
Though their words were full of sympathy, what was on those people’s faces was closer to schadenfreude.
Ji Wei muttered something under his breath before interrupting them. “That’s enough, let’s go.”
On the other side, Ji Ran has just taken a few steps before something came to mind, causing him to turn around and get straight to the point. “Did you do this on purpose?”
Qin Man also stopped. “What?”
“You already knew they’d be here. Why didn’t you say anything?”
Qin Man laughed helplessly. “This wasn’t their original location. Moreover, would you guys change the place even if you knew?”
Obviously not. What the hell are those things? Why should they change their location?
It was just that if he knew Ji Wei would also be there, he wouldn’t have called Qin Man over.
Ji Ran paused before throwing his car keys over. “The car is parked downstairs. Go home on your own.”
Qin Man didn’t catch it. “What about you?”
“I’ll take a taxi.”
“What’s wrong? Did I make you angry?” Qin Man asked.
“… No.” Ji Ran’s brows furrowed. “You still want to see that bunch of people?”
He wasn’t blind. He could tell what those people were thinking and Qin Man naturally could, too.
“But I’m not here to see them.” Qin Man stuffed the car keys back into his pocket. “Let’s go, don’t let them wait too long.”
After the meal, it was time for cake.
Chen An was surprised and finally lost a little of his previous grievance-filled expression. Resting his chin on his hand, Ji Ran thought to himself that Cheng Peng really had a good temper. If it were Qin Man who had such an expression after he went through the effort of planning this dinner, he’d definitely give the other person a sound beating.
Yue Wen Wen’s eyes curved. “Sing a birthday song together?”
No one answered him.
“N-No need.” Chen An lowered his head. Apart from Cheng Peng, he wasn’t close with anyone else at the table, so he felt uncomfortable. “I’m very happy, t-thank you.”
“Cut it open and see,” Cheng Peng said.
Chen An nodded weakly and took the knife from the waiter, carefully cutting down the cake.
The knife went through halfway before it got stuck.
“Take it out,” Cheng Peng said.
Chen An pushed away the cream and revealed a small box beneath it.
With a casual glance, Ji Ran’s heart sped up. He unconsciously looked over at Qin Man.
This box was the exact same one Qin Man had tried to give to him earlier.
Qin Man met his gaze and shrugged, indicating he didn’t know about it either.
The box was covered by a layer of plastic, so it wasn’t dirtied. When Chen An saw the box, he froze from fright.
Judging from the size of the box, it was obvious what was in it.
Yue Wen Wen also froze, not thinking that he had a crow’s mouth. “Cheng Peng, are you…” serious?
The last word wasn’t spoken aloud.
Chen An asked hoarsely, “What’s this?”
“Your birthday present. Open it and take a look.” Cheng Peng told him.
Inside the box laid a pretty ring.
Was tonight a ring festival? Why were there rings everywhere he went? Ji Ran couldn’t help glancing towards Qin Man’s pocket.
“W-W-W-W-What is t-t-t-this?” Chen An’s stutter grew worse.
“It’s up to you to interpret it.” Cheng Peng smiled. “Don’t be afraid, just accept it.”
Did that mean it was a proposal? Yue Wen Wen wondered.
Yes or no, Chen An still had to give an answer.
Chen An was silent for a long time.
This was Ji Ran’s first time seeing such an expressive look on Chen An’s face. He looked at Cheng Peng and found that he was wearing a small smile without a word.
“Say something.” Ji Ran couldn’t watch on any longer and finally uttered a single line.
Chen An trembled. “Cheng Peng… thank you.”
Saying so, he didn’t put on the ring. Instead, he put it into his pocket.
These series of actions seemed to have taken every ounce of effort. “I-I’ll take good care of it.”
The table turned deathly silent.
“It’s fine.” Cheng Peng broke the tense atmosphere. “There’s still dessert. Have some.”
Ji Ran thought it was a miracle how this brother of his had managed to make the matter of him providing for another person into such a humble thing.
If it were him, and Qin Man dared to not accept his ring…
He immediately stopped himself from thinking.
How could he give Qin Man a ring? He wasn’t crazy!
With these broken trains of thoughts in his head, Ji Ran suddenly heard a series of footsteps from behind.
“Qin Man, turns out you were sitting here. We had a hard time finding you.”
He turned back and saw several men in suits standing behind. It was those people who were standing beside Ji Wei earlier.
“Sorry to interrupt. We’re Qin Man’s high school classmates.” One of the men spoke, “Qin Man, I saw that you’d already cut the cake and finished dessert. Why don’t you come over and sit with us? We’re in the private room over there.”
The corner of Qin Man’s lips raised, but he didn’t move. “I’ll pass.”
“Come on.” Another person couldn’t help it. “Aren’t we doing this for your own good? We all know about your situation. If you come with us, who knows if there might be someone who can help you?”
Qin Man didn’t speak, but Ji Ran sneered, “Help him? You guys?”
The expressions of those people changed and they simply ignored him. “Qin Man, come with us.”
Other guests had begun to look over. Not wanting to give their table any trouble, Qin Man nodded. “In that case, I’ll go say a couple of words. I’ll be back soon.”
Just as he stood up, Ji Ran also got to his feet.
Someone immediately grew defensive. “Ji Ran, we didn’t invite you.”
“Do you think you’re capable of inviting me?” Ji Ran laughed. “I have something to say to Ji Wei. What has it got to do with you?”
That person wanted to say something else, but someone else in the group shot him a look.
What’s there to be afraid of? The room is full of our people? What could Ji Ran possibly do?
“…Fine, come along.”
Yue Wen Wen also wanted to follow, but was stopped by Ji Ran.
He’d just walked a couple of steps before he heard Qin Man telling him softly, “You don’t have to come along. I’ll leave after saying a few words.”
Ji Ran didn’t want to waste words with him. He took even larger steps.
When they arrived at the private room, the others saw Ji Ran and immediately had a complicated expression.
Ji Wei was sitting in the middle, his lips pursed in silence.
Ji Ran didn’t sit down. He folded his arms and stood behind Qin Man, intending to watch what this group of people were planning to do.
“Qin Man, you’re finally here.” A bald guy stood up. “You don’t know, but once these girls heard that you weren’t coming, they all became upset. Hahaha.”
“Stop joking.” Qin Man smiled, but his expression didn’t carry a single trace of warmth, just like how it was back in high school.
Qin Man raised a glass. “Have a drink?”
“Yo yo yo.” Someone cupped his glass with two hands and clinked glasses while saying, “I actually have the chance to drink a cup with Qin Man. I had thought I’d only see you in financial magazines.”
That person finished his drink and continued, “Brother, I heard your situation isn’t great.”
Qin Man’s relationship with the people in his class wasn’t bad, but neither was it good. There were many who were happy to see him fall from the clouds, and a few who kicked him when he was down.
Unfortunately, this person was one of the latter. The reason was none other than due to his crush of three years confessing to Qin Man back in high school over four times. She didn’t succeed.
Today, the girl was here and Baldie wanted to reclaim his pride.
“It’s alright,” Qin Man replied.
“No need to act strong. Everyone here is a brother, what can’t be said?” Baldie asked, “Do you need money? I have some savings, I can lend some to you. Or do you need a job? I know a few people, but it’s an office position. You can probably earn about eight thousand a month after taxes. If you’re interested, I can introduce you.”
Qin Man raised an eyebrow. “Eight thousand?”
“That’s right. Don’t think it’s low. You may not know after being used to acting so dignified all the time. We’re fresh graduates, earning close to ten thousand a month is already amazing.”
Qin Man nodded, seemingly not understanding. “What’s your monthly salary now?”
“After taxes, it’s about forty to fifty thousand,” Baldie said proudly.
It was impossible for a class to have so many rich second-generations. In their class, only Ji Wei and Qin Man could be considered as such while the others were from relatively smaller families. For a fresh graduate to be able to have such a salary, they had to be pretty outstanding.
“You aren’t being honest.” Immediately, someone chimed up in support. “You have such a great salary but only introduced him to an eight thousand dollars per month job. Qin Man definitely wouldn’t want it.”
“I know it’s wronging him, but doesn’t he need money?” Baldie lifted his chin. “Oh right, Qin Man. Doesn’t bankruptcy mean your property will be confiscated? What about your house? Do you have anywhere to stay? Do you need me to find you a flat? Did your parents abscond or did they go into jail?”
Although his words sounded like goodwill, each and every word was hitting his pain point.
Hearing this made Ji Ran furious and he couldn’t help but sneer.
He was originally already an eye-catching existence in this room. With his laugh, he immediately attracted everyone’s attention.
Baldie was taken aback. “Ji Ran, why are you here? What are you laughing at?”
“I’m laughing at you, donkey.” Ji Ran said.
Baldie froze. “You…”
“You’re still a donkey.”
Once these words were spoken, a few girls in the room couldn’t help but laugh. Among them was the goddess Baldie liked.
Baldie’s face reddened. “How are you so uncouth? Ji Wei, manage him…”
“Do you think he’s capable of managing me? Moreover, you’re wrong.” Ji Ran spoke, “Why don’t you take a look at the garbage you are? Just a bit of salary every month is enough to make you so cocky.”
Ji Wei frowned. “Ji Ran, talk less.”
Ji Ran ignored him and looked at Baldie’s flushed face, feeling elated. “Eight thousand? Can you even buy a single hour from Qin Man? Who the hell are you looking down on?”
“No matter what his family is like, his academic qualifications, looks, and salary are all better than you. Qin Man is now working for me, I won’t mention his salary but at the very least, it’s ten times higher than yours. I even gifted him a car and house. If I’m happy, I’ll even give him a wife. You don’t have to worry, he’s living better than an old monk like you. You needn’t introduce him to any job.”
“As for you, why don’t I send some hair tonic to you?”
Baldie raised the cup in his hand and wanted to hit him, but felt his arm being grabbed tightly. He couldn’t move at all.
Qin Man was holding his arm, looking askance at him. “Violence isn’t a good idea.”
His voice was very cold. Baldie felt his heart shiver.
“Qin Man, I never thought you’d work for an illegitimate child. Don’t you think you’re letting Ji Wei down?”
“Why am I letting Ji Wei down?” Qin Man sneered. “Ji Wei and I are only classmates. What has his enmity with Ji Ran got to do with me?”
Ji Wei drank his wine, clearly not intending on taking part in this.
Qin Man was useful to the company. There was no reason to fall out with him.
After speaking, Qin Man released Baldie’s hand. The latter was still struggling and the abrupt force nearly caused him to fall.
Ji Ran narrowed his eyes. “Old monk, what did you just say?”
Qin Man subtly stepped to his right, so he was standing in front of Ji Ran. He picked up his cup and smiled coldly yet casually. “Let me offer everyone a toast. I still have something on tonight, so I can’t stay. Have a great time.”
Saying so, he downed it and took Ji Ran’s hands naturally. “Let’s go.”
Ji Ran wasn’t a fool. There were so many people around.
Once they came back to their senses, he had no way of winning, whether it was in a fight or an argument. So he simply followed Qin Man out of the room.
“I already couldn’t stand looking at that person since high school.” Ji Ran was still muttering to himself when they walked out.
“Why?” Qin Man asked.
“Isn’t he always copying you? Shoes, bags, and even his pants were always the same brand as yours.” Ji Ran spat.
He suddenly heard the person beside him break out into laughter.
Ji Ran looked at him strangely. “What are you laughing for?”
“Nothing.” Qin Man held back a smile. After walking a little, he couldn’t hold back any more. “How did you know the brand of the pants I was wearing?”
T/n: Taking guesses~ How do you think Ji Ran knew?? ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)