Wang Xiaoming stared wide-eyed in disbelief for at least 30 seconds before something clicked and he shouted, “Ah? What?! You-you can’t do this! Murder is illegal! You dust get him back!” His words blurred together in their rush to get out.
“He’ll have turned into dust by that time.”
Wang Xiaoming looked to be on the verge of tears. “Hurry and let him go.”
Baal crossed his arms and said, “You have the energy to mind someone else’s business? Not hungry anymore?”
“Someone’s life is at stake. How am I supposed to think about eating?” Wang Xiaoming thought as he turned to run toward the elevators.
The cellphone in his pockets suddenly rang.
Wang Xiaoming shuddered like someone engulfed in flames suddenly being doused with cold water. He took out his cellphone and managed to press the accept button with his trembling fingers.
“Please use the T3 hallway. We have guests coming out from the T2 hallway.” A stranger’s voice came across the line.
Wang Xiaoming hurried to ask with a desperately hopeful voice, “Do you know where Director Chu has gone?”
There was an eight second pause on the other end before the voice said slowly, “He’s currently in elevator 2.”
In the elevator?
The security guard’s voice was calm, so there probably wasn’t any danger.
Wang Xiaoming looked at the gleeful Baal and slowly let out a sigh of relief. All of his energy seemed to have discharged along with that sigh. He straightened and dragged himself toward hallway T3 with shaking legs.
In the security room, the guard hung up the phone and slowly covered his right hand with his left palm to stop it from shaking too violently. The hairs on his arm still stood up straight.
The sight of Chu Zhao disappearing and then appearing without an explanation looped in his mind.
If Xiang Wenxun hadn’t demanded absolute silence on this topic beforehand, he would have called for a shaman to come look at the Silver House’s feng shui as soon as the cards had started flying around the housekeeping division’s office.
He stared intently at Wang Xiaoming’s figure and his body shook involuntarily—this guy was too weird.
Of course Wang Xiaoming had no idea that he’d become the equivalent of a demon or a monster in some person’s mind. Right now he was most concerned about the fact that his phone didn’t ring again.
Based on Chu Zhao’s personality, he should be demanding an answer for something like this.
He looked down at the dark screen of his phone. His heart felt like it was on a never-ending roller coaster ride.
Baal knew what Wang Xiaoming was thinking just by looking at him. “You don’t need to worry about Chu Zhao. He won’t mention anything about what happened today.”
“Why?” His words were like a sedative and calmed all of the waves in Wang Xiaoming’s heart.
Baal answered, “Because he’ll definitely call Xiang Wenxun and Xiang Wenxun will take care of this.”
Baal answered impatiently, “Why do you have so many ‘why’s?”
Wang Xiaoming shrank back.
“Not going to get food?”
“Not in the mood.” As he answered, Wang Xiaoming’s stomach rumbled.
Baal raised an eyebrow. “Oh? Fine, then don’t eat anything today or tomorrow.”
Wang Xiaoming jumped up. “I didn’t say anything about tomorrow.”
“That’s right.” Baal nodded.
Wang Xiaoming was surprised. Was Baal about to be reasonable?
“But I did.”
Baal being reasonable was rarer than seeing a UFO. Wang Xiaoming continued walking forward.
The door to the stairs was up ahead.
Wang Xiaoming had initially thought about turning around. But then he remembered that Chu Zhao was by the elevators. If he took the elevators up, they might meet. It would be less awkward to take the stairs.
But Wang Xiaoming regretted it the moment he opened the door, because he ran into something even more awkward—
Jie had just slapped Tao Le, hard.
The sound of palm meeting cheek instantly filled the entire stairwell.
Wang Xiaoming was about to take a step back when Baal pushed him from behind and he stumbled forward in an uncoordinated fashion.
Don’t look up, don’t look back, don’t turn around… just walk backward, eyes closed, silent. Pretend nothing happened.
Wang Xiaoming muttered in his heart and then focused on taking individual steps back.
But clearly Baal didn’t agree with this plan. WIth just one finger, Baal made sure Wang Xiaoming stayed there.
This meant Jie and Tao Le saw the following—
Wang Xiaoming marched in place, pretentiously, while his eyes were shut.
“What the hell are you doing?!” Tao Le called out in embarrassed anger.
Wang Xiaoming’s shoulders trembled as he answered carefully, “I didn’t see anything.”
If someone hurriedly volunteered that they didn’t see anything, this meant they saw everything.
Tao Le’s face turned pale in anger, which made the palm print on his left cheek stand out even more. “What are you doing here on the stairs?”
Wang Xiaoming was thinking about how to answer when Jie said calmly, “I asked him to come.”
Tao Le turned around to look at him incredulously.
Jie’s face remained expressionless. “He’s the person I was talking about.”
Wang Xiaoming’s eyes widened.
Tao Le’s eyes widened even more.
The corners of Baal’s mouth twitched into a smile filled with hidden meanings.
Jie walked around the man and headed upstairs.
Tao Le subconsciously reached out to grab him, but Jie avoided the touch.
“Jiang Junjie!” Tao Le called out in annoyance.
Jie behaved as if he hadn’t heard anything. He walked forward until he was standing on the step right in front of Wang Xiaoming. He hugged Wang Xiaoming’s waist until the two of them stood facing each other, their faces no more than five centimeters apart.
Wang Xiaoming’s heart started thundering.
Half of it was because of Jie’s face getting closer and closer and the other half was because of Tao Le’s stare getting angrier and angrier.
Jie’s face slowly got closer until his breath landed on Wang Xiaoming’s face and Jie’s pale pink lips almost touched his.
In that second, Tao Le rushed toward them with a shout.
Wang Xiaoming felt a gust of air blow by and then someone yanked him to one side.
By the time he got his wits about him, Jie was sprawled across him with blood trickling from the corner of his mouth.
Tao Le’s fist was still in midair. The expression on his face changed and then changed again. It took him a long time before he said dumbly, “I… I didn’t mean to hit you.”
“I slapped you and you punched me. We’re even.” Jie slowly straightened with his hand still on Wang Xiaoming’s waist. He started to walk out, half-hugging and half-dragging Wang Xiaoming.
“Jie!” Tao Le’s voice sounded like the cry of a wounded beast.
Wang Xiaoming couldn’t help but turn around.
Tao Le stood there unmoving, tears streaming down his usually haughty features.
The scene touched the softest part of Wang Xiaoming’s heart. His feet suddenly stopped moving. This was not the first time he had seen such sadness. He had seen it before in mirrors and in dreams. Because he had experienced it, he knew just how much it hurt.
He didn’t know what had happened between Jie and Tao Le, but he knew he didn’t want to be the executioner who brought about this kind of pain.
“Keep walking,” Jie’s almost inaudible voice sounded next to his ear, “I beg you.”
Wang Xiaoming looked at him in surprise.
He never thought that Jie, who looked like nothing could move him, would have such an expression—something that went deeper than sadness.
It took a long time before Wang Xiaoming realized what the expression represented—
Wang Xiaoming’s second day at the Silver House ended in a double strike from hunger and confusion.
Only when he walked out from the employee-only hallway and smelt the scent unique to nighttime did Wang Xiaoming feel like he was back in reality after a trip to a fantastical kingdom.
“That guy is just using you,” Baal said drily.
Wang Xiaoming suddenly whirled around and stared at Baal in silence for a long while. Then he had to admit, albeit unwillingly, that “returning to reality” itself was a dream, a distant one at that.
Baal frowned. “You’re not starting to have feelings for him, are you?”
Wang Xiaoming jumped. “Of course not.” He just couldn’t forget Jie’s expression just then.
Baal examined Wang Xiaoming through squinted eyes. Then he nodded. “That’s good.”
Wang Xiaoming felt surprised. “I thought you’d love for me to have feelings for him.” Wasn’t Baal always trying to set him up with someone?
“I only work with smart people.” Baal didn’t have a favorable impression of Jie.
Wang Xiaoming felt honored. He was the one who interacted with Baal the most now, right? Did that mean that Baal considered him the smartest?
“You’re the exception.” Baal was quick to throw cold water on the flames of his enthusiasm.
Baal wasn’t satisfied with just dampening Wang Xiaoming’s enthusiasm; he had to stomp on it too. “And you’re my unluckiest exception ever!”
Guess it was true that there was no cure for his unluckiness.
Wang Xiaoming thought in a fit of self-pity. Even a fallen angel got infected by his misfortune.
After the night shift at the Silver House, there was a bus that drove the employees back to the city.
Wang Xiaoming took one glance at the chattering crowd that flooded out from the side door of the Silver House and his mind inevitably thought about the college career to which he had just bid goodbye. He wondered how Chang Haitao was doing and whether rumors about them were circulating around the school. Though he had found an internship, he wasn’t sure if the school would accept it.
It was better when he wasn’t thinking about this. Wang Xiaoming realized he had more things to worry about than he had thought.
“Xiaoming Bro.” Sharky hooked an arm around his shoulder to show that the two of them were close. “Where do you live? If it’s on the way, let’s go together?”
“I’m in the Jiangbei zone.”
“Ah, me too. Which neighborhood?” Sharky asked laughingly. “I want to know which neighborhood could produce someone as elegant as Xiaoming Bro.”
Wang Xiaoming couldn’t remember who had said it, but he did remember that only those who didn’t have looks would be called “elegant.” He never thought that one day he would have that experience.
Sharky saw that he wasn’t answering and assumed that Wang Xiaoming didn’t want to share. He didn’t mind and just kept moving forward with his arms around Wang Xiaoming.
Because there was more demand than supply—there weren’t enough seats on the bus so at least half of them had to stand on the way back to the city—fighting for seats was a nightly battle.
Wang Xiaoming asked in surprise, “Does nobody live in the dormitories?”
Sharky gave him a weird glance. “The Silver House dorms are only for those who are directors or above. Oh, and headliners too.”
He wasn’t a director-level employee, was he?
Wang Xiaoming suddenly felt like an imposter.
“You are practically the future Mrs. President. It’s only right that you live in the dorms,” Baal’s voice suddenly sounded.
Wang Xiaoming was already used to Baal offering his opinions every once in a while, but he wasn’t used to seeing Baal nonchalantly standing in someone’s body—and with his head poking out a bit.
“President Xiang.” There suddenly came a burst of noise from the front.
Followed by an even more forceful pushing.
Wang Xiaoming was dragged along a few steps by the momentum of the crowd.
After a while, the noise stopped and the crowd naturally parted to the sides.
White car headlights shone from up ahead.
The tips of his shoes glinted in the light and Wang Xiaoming squinted his eyes.
Only to see that Xiang Wenxun stood next to the passenger’s side and held open the door. He smiled at Wang Xiaoming as he said, “Let me take you home.”