Wang Xiaoming asked timidly, “How much is the rent?”
Nevermind, there was no need to reevaluate. Xiang Wenxun was definitely the exception and could be treated as a case study. Baal quickly rejected his own conclusion.
Xiang Wenxun answered without changing his expression, “It’s free.”
Wang Xiaoming snuck a glance at Baal. “Is it because of Baal?” He didn’t know why, but taking advantage of Baal made him feel uneasy.
“Mr. Baal is just part of the reason.” Xiang Wenxun stared at Wang Xiaoming unblinkingly. “As a man, it’s natural to provide the best living situation possible for his lover.”
Wang Xiaoming felt his face burn. He almost didn’t dare raise his head to look at Xiang Wenxun.
Xiang Wenxun continued, “If there’s anything else you need, please don’t hesitate to ask me.”
This was the first time someone acknowledged Wang Xiaoming. Though he had liked Chang Haitao before, he hadn’t dared show a hint of his feelings in front of Chang Haitao. He had been so scared they wouldn’t be friends anymore—though because of Baal, they ended up not staying friends.
Wang Xiaoming raised his head and asked tentatively and in surprise, “President Xiang, why… did you agree to Baal’s condition?”
Baal scoffed but remained silent. He did want to hear what this human, who made him rethink humanity in general, had to say.
Xiang Wenxun’s gaze became contemplative.
Wang Xiaoming’s heart hammered. Even though he knew Xiang Wenxun was doing it for his brother, he still wanted to hear the answer for some reason. It was like someone who had been walking in the dark taking out the dead flashlight, just to try and see if it really wouldn’t light up again.
“Actually, from the moment I laid eyes on you, I knew,” Xiang Wenxun said slowly, “you like men.”
Wang Xiaoming sat back in stunned surprise.
Xiang Wenxun continued slowly, “Me too.”
Wang Xiaoming said in surprise, “Then why don’t you have…” Someone with his station in life should have no difficulties finding a suitable partner. Especially since the Silver House had so many options.
Xiang Wenxun smiled. “Maybe I’ve been waiting for you.”
The blush that had just faded from Wang Xiaoming’s face returned in full force.
The atmosphere in the room suddenly became indescribably intimate. But Xiang Wenxun changed the topic. “Is everything going well at work?”
“It’s going well.” Wang Xiaoming wanted to say something more, but all the sentences in his mind sounded wrong. He could only let silence fall between them again. He wanted to get closer to his newly minted boyfriend but was also afraid of getting hurt. Xiang Wenxun’s station in life was so different from his; if it hadn’t been for Baal… He suddenly wondered if Baal disappeared one day, would everything in front of him disappear as well?
“When I said the housekeeping division was important, I wasn’t appeasing you.”
Wang Xiaoming startled awake and hurriedly nodded.
“Chu Zhao is great at what he does. If you can learn his techniques, then you’ll have a bright future ahead of you even if you leave the Silver House.”
Wang Xiaoming’s gaze shifted. Was that sentence a hint? A hint that, if one day Baal disappeared and they were no longer lovers, he would have to leave the Silver House?
Baal twitched the corners of his mouth coldly. “Get to the point.”
Wang Xiaoming turned around. “Ah?”
Xiang Wenxun looked startled. “Is Mr. Baal around as well?”
Baal would bet Wang Xiaoming’s head that Xiang Wenxun’s surprise, as seamless as it appeared, had been a pretense.
“Yes. He’s here.” Wang Xiaoming answered and then said apologetically, “Sorry, I forgot to let you know.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Xiang Wenxun said a greeting in Baal’s general direction and then casually remarked, “Mr. Baal and Xiaoming are certainly like a hand in the glove, joined at the hip.”
This was the first time Xiang Wenxun called him “Xiaoming.”
Wang Xiaoming’s heart leapt in excitement.
“What does that mean?” Baal asked with a frown.
“Uhh, it means that we can’t be separated,” Wang Xiaoming explained.
Baal snorted. “What a despicable description.”
He didn’t want this either. He was also a victim. Wang Xiaoming felt wronged, but luckily the distance between them was five meters. It would have been terrifying if it were five centimeters.
“Don’t forget about the PSP you promised me!” Baal was very unhappy with how forgetful Wang Xiaoming was.
Wang Xiaoming said awkwardly, “I’ll buy you one when I get paid.” Xiang Wenxun was already providing a room for free. He really didn’t have the guts to demand more.
Baal glared at him as if he would explode in anger if Wang Xiaoming didn’t agree in the next moment.
Wang Xiaoming had always been a coward. He was scared speechless at the sight of Baal’s expression.
Xiang Wenxun could tell by Wang Xiaoming’s expression alone what was going on. “Does Mr. Baal have any needs?”
Baal indicated with his chin.
Wang Xiaoming lowered his head so that it was almost at the level of the desk. He explained quietly, “Baal wants a PSP.”
Xiang Wenxun fell silent.
Wang Xiaoming felt like something was covering him and he couldn’t breathe. He had to look up and say, “I just want an advance on my salary. You can deduct it from my salary this month.”
Baal looked at him in surprise.
Xiang Wenxun knocked on the table with his fingers. “Wouldn’t it draw too much attention for Mr. Baal to use a PSP?”
Wang Xiaoming paused for a long while before he realized what “drawing attention” meant—many people might see a PSP floating around in midair later.
With Xiang Wenxun’s words, the PSP went out the window. But surprisingly, Baal held his tongue.
The silence lasted until they walked into the elevator, where he asked slowly, “Why did you ask for an advance on your salary?”
Wang Xiaoming paused. “To buy the PSP?” He thought that Baal was unhappy because he didn’t get the PSP. He hurriedly explained, “President Xiang’s concerns are reasonable. But if you want one, I’ll buy one once I get my salary and you can use it in my office.”
Baal didn’t say anything.
Just then in Xiang Wenxun’s office, as long as Wang Xiaoming had said he’d only use it in the office, Xiang Wenxun wouldn’t have any excuse to refuse. But Wang Xiaoming didn’t because he wasn’t used to asking or begging.
Baal looked down at the top of Wang Xiaoming’s head. For the first time, he discovered that this cowardly and weak human had pride and self-respect that he himself hadn’t even realized.
… How interesting.
Once they returned to the office, they found Chu Zhao sitting in Wang Xiaoming’s spot. Chu Zhao raised an eyebrow at Wang Xiaoming. “You spent nearly half an hour in the restroom.”
“I didn’t go to the restroom.” Wang Xiaoming felt a bit guilty.
“Oh, where did you go?” Chu Zhao twirled the pen in his hand. He had actually already confirmed Wang Xiaoming’s whereabouts with the secretary. But he was more interested in finding out if this man who looked incapable of telling lies really was that honest.
The truth was yes, he was.
Wang Xiaoming answered honestly, “I went to President Xiang’s office.”
Chu Zhao looked him up and down. “To tattle?”
“No, no,” Wang Xiaoming hurriedly explained himself.
Baal snorted, clearly unhappy with Chu Zhao’s arrogance.
Luckily Chu Zhao knew when to stop and didn’t press further, narrowly avoiding his fate of being translocated. He put down the pen, pointed at the documents, and asked, “Anything you don’t understand?”
Wang Xiaoming asked, “Yes. I don’t know why there’s a cell phone number in the emergency contacts?”
Chu Zhao looked at him meaningfully.
“I can understand things like the fire department, but I really have no idea when to use this cell phone number from someone named Feng Bro.”
Chu Zhao explained, “That’s a friend of President Xiang. He handles all sorts of things.”
Wang Xiaoming then asked with curiosity, “So when would I need to call this number?”
“You don’t need to call this number at any time.” Chu Zhao smiled, though the smile didn’t reach his eyes. “Even if you’re the last person left in the Silver House, you don’t need to call this number.”
Wang Xiaoming swallowed his words.
“That’s it. Since you’re done with the documents, come with me.” Chu Zhao put down the documents and headed out the door.
When he had reached the door, he realized Wang Xiaoming was still wrestling with himself while standing in the same position. He demanded impatiently, “What is it?”
Wang Xiaoming answered hesitantly, “What if I didn’t finish looking over the documents?”
“How come you didn’t finish? The emergency contacts are on the last page.”
Wang Xiaoming chuckled drily, “I read them in reverse order.”
Chu Zhao glared at him silently. “Relax, I won’t be quizzing you.”
Only then did Wang Xiaoming follow cautiously.
Chu Zhao brought him to the first floor via the elevator and then walked up each level while describing it. It was business hours right then, but most everyone was already in their private rooms, so the hallways appeared empty. Even when there was the occasional guest, the security guard in the security room would manage to notify the two of them and have them avoid the guest.
The Silver House was separated into areas for VIPs and regular guests. Though the regular guest section was nominally under Chu Zhao’s management, Chu Zhao actually mostly delegated its management to his assistant. So Chu Zhao only gave a brief introduction to it.
Only when they reached the 11th floor did he turn serious. He even demanded that Wang Xiaoming write down the names of the restaurant and the private rooms. He made a special effort to introduce each of the workers responsible for the housekeeping on that floor. With his introduction, Wang Xiaoming realized that Big Fa and Sharky were both responsible for a floor, the 11th and the 12th, respectively.
“The most important floor here is the 18th.” Chu Zhao turned around and looked at Wang Xiaoming, who was walking as if he had no more strength left. His brows immediately furrowed. “Did you not eat your fill? Do you know what you look like?”
Wang Xiaoming answered quietly, “I really didn’t eat a full meal.”
Chu Zhao looked at his watch. It was almost 11pm. “You didn’t eat dinner?”
Chu Zhao looked at Wang Xiaoming’s figure. “It’ll be good for you to skip a few meals.”
Wang Xiaoming paused. Was someone like him considered too chubby?
“You don’t have an ounce of meat on you. Maybe you’ll starve to death and save me the trouble.” Chu Zhao turned around and continued with his introductions.
Wang Xiaoming had to endure his sadness and the growling of his stomach. He followed along but only took a few steps before realizing he’d lost sight of Chu Zhao.
He looked harriedly around him. “Where is Director Chu?”
Baal leaned against the wall and remarked nonchalantly, “Probably somewhere waiting to die of hunger.”