One second, two seconds, then three.
The four people outside remained silent. The junior secretary’s hand stayed motionless on the door handle.
What did they just see? They saw the person they had been grumbling about, President He, appear before them in this small utility room.
President He was standing with his back to them, and he was obviously holding someone in his arms.
But he held that person so tightly that not even a single strand of their hair could be seen. They could only tell he was a boy from the hand that tugged restlessly at the back of President He's clothes.
And their president’s lips had obviously been bitten by someone recently. It was a clear reminder of what was going on in this utility room just seconds ago.
The brains of the four people outside had basically shut down. They didn’t even have the capacity to speak right now.
He Zhou looked down. While holding the person in his arms with one hand, he reached to the side, retrieved and held out a bag of snacks with the other.
The junior secretary froze for a moment before taking the bag with two trembling hands.
He Zhou spoke with a voice that could not be colder.
Only then did the four of them seem to startle awake. They twisted away and quickly started heading back to their workstations. The junior secretary holding the bag of snacks was so flustered that she even went in the wrong direction at first. Luckily, her coworkers pulled her back.
It was only when their footsteps had completely faded that Qiu Yanzhi violently pushed He Zhou away.
He Zhou touched his lips and said, "Qiu Yanzhi, your bite really hurts."
Qiu Yanzhi was completely flushed. His eyes teared up from how frustrated and upset he was. He grit his teeth and kicked this guy in the calf, saying angrily, "Stay away from me."
He Zhou took Qiu Yanzhi into his arms again and kissed him lightly on the forehead. He smiled, “Sorry. I won't do it again."
His voice was quiet and gentle, but it made Qiu Yanzhi’s ears burn even more.
He Zhou took Qiu Yanzhi's hand, a faint smile playing on his lips. "Let's go eat."
Qiu Yanzhi shook off He Zhou's hand, only to have him shamelessly grab it again. Each one of the man’s fingers seemed to be imbued with a gentle yet irresistible strength as they slipped into the spaces in between his own and interlaced their hands.
It didn't take long for word to spread through the company about President He's passionate kiss with a mysterious boy in the utility room.
Qiu Yanzhi overheard two girls talking about it when he visited the breakroom.
"Have you heard? Someone dug out more info about President He's little lover!"
Qiu Yanzhi’s heart clenched. He shifted in the girls' direction while making his coffee with his head down. He also secretly turned off his headphones so he could concentrate on listening in.
The girl lowered her voice and said mysteriously: "...I heard that boy is still a poor student in high school, but his looks were so outstanding that President He fell in love with him at first sight. Since then, he’s been helping the boy publicly and even privately took him in… The two of them are inseparable! President He couldn’t even leave him behind when he goes to work, which is why they were discovered in the utility room..."
The hand Qiu Yanzhi used to hold the coffee cup trembled slightly.
This rumour of yours is really something. Even if it is the farthest thing from the truth, it has a surprising amount of internal consistency.
"That’s way too far-fetched." The other girl said disdainfully.
Qiu Yanzhi nodded silently: I wholeheartedly agree!
"The version I heard said that the boy is actually an employee at our company. He even works on the same floor as us."
Qiu Yanzhi's heart immediately started beating faster. He tremblingly took a sip of coffee to steady his nerves.
"And then what?"
"And some people concluded after observing for a long time that that person is the German translating team’s--”
Qiu Yanzhi's heart stopped beating. His palms were sweating.
As if deliberately making everyone hang off her words, the girl paused for a long time before continuing.
“Cough cough...cough cough! Cough..."
Qiu Yanzhi choked on the mouthful of coffee he just drank and nearly coughed to death.
Only then did the girl notice he was there. She startled before asking, "Are you alright?"
Qiu Yanzhi waved his hands in a hurry, "I’m fine. cough...."
The girl felt reassured by Qiu Yanzhi's headphones, so she put her mind at ease and continued to quietly gossip with her companion.
"This info is definitely the real deal since I overheard Secretary Xu say that President He personally decided to hire Yang Fengcheng even though he didn’t pass the interview. Also, also...President He’s never attended those new employee welcoming parties, but he attended the last one because Yang Fengcheng was there!”
The other girl shook her head. "I saw Yang Fengcheng with my own eyes at the restaurant yesterday when the incident took place so it couldn’t have been him. Besides, Yang Fengcheng’s too tall. In order for President He to be able to hide someone in his arms, they have to be at least a few inches shorter than him.”
The girl suddenly noticed the nearby Qiu Yanzhi and gestured in his direction. "If you asked me, President He’s little lover would probably have to be around the same size as him."
Qiu Yanzhi's heart raced. He then calmly clicked a button on his headphones.
He spoke in a relaxed and natural tone, "Hey Little Liu, hurry up at lunch today. Don't make me wait for you at the restaurant so long like you did yesterday..."
Qiu Yanzhi pretended to answer the phone as he left the place with his coffee in hand.
As soon as Qiu Yanzhi returned to his desk, he heard many footsteps as all the secretaries came out of He Zhou’s office. The man himself stepped out as well. Their expressions were all very serious as they piled into the elevator.
Qiu Yanzhi had no idea what was going on. He asked Yang Fengcheng who was nearby, "What's going on? What's with all the commotion?"
"I guess they went down to welcome someone."
Zhao Rui frowned and said, "Who could possibly warrant so many people and the president himself to go welcome them?”
Yang Fengcheng said, "It's Chairman Qiu from the Qiu Corporation. Actually, this wouldn’t be out of the normal two months ago because they were still our investors then... But now that our company’s scored several big contracts and multiplied our net worth, Qiu Corporation should be the ones wary of us. I don’t get when President He is still treating him with such respect..."
"Huh? Qiu Yanzhi, the chairman of that company happens to have the same surname as you…” Yang Fengcheng turned to look at Qiu Yanzhi, but the guy had vanished. He frowned. "Where did Qiu Yanzhi go?"
Qiu Yanzhi immediately went into hiding when he heard his dad was coming.
Some time ago, Qiu Qingcang had called him and asked if he wanted to go work as an intern at their family’s company.
Qiu Yanzhi remembered very clearly that he was lying on the sofa watching TV with a burger in his left hand and fries in his right. When he heard Qiu Qingcang's suggestion, he immediately shook his head and said he was too lazy and tired to do that. Qiu Yanzhi even suggested pushing the internship back until he graduated.
And yet, only a few days later...
Qiu Yanzhi ran off to He Company to be a little translator.
If his dad found out about this, he was definitely not going to be happy.
When He Zhou arrived on the ground floor, Qiu Qingcang was already coming in through the entranceway.
He Zhou greeted him respectfully, "Uncle, why did you come here in person?"
Behind him, Secretary Xu froze for a moment.
Even after working together for so long, President He had always referred to Qiu Qingcang as ‘Chairman Qiu’ or ‘Mr. Qiu’. Since when did he switch to warmly calling him ‘Uncle’??
Qiu Qingcang gave him a look. "I might be getting old, but that doesn’t mean I can’t come out to have a stroll.”
Qiu Qingcang had come over this time to sign a contract with He Zhou.
Yes, the contract to be signed was in fact the one that Qiu Yanzhi stole. He Zhou remembered that when Qiu Yanzhi took the contract away, he had promised to tell Qiu Qingcang to terminate all cooperation between their companies and sue him.
However, that was also the day He Zhou had a hallucination about Qiu Yanzhi getting into a car accident in front of him. It left his mind so muddled that he forgot all about the contract.
Only when he remembered again did He Zhou realize--
Not only was there no lawsuit filed against him, Qiu Yanzhi didn’t even tell Qiu Qingcang about the contract in the first place.
So He Zhou closed the loopholes in the contract and drew up a more detailed and fair version. He also apologized to Qiu Qingcang for accidentally losing his copy. Luckily, Qiu Qingcang didn’t say anything and agreed to sign it again.
He Zhou originally proposed that he could go to Qiu Qingcang's company or home to sign, but for some reason the man came over in person today.
"Let's go talk in your office." He said.
When they were in the elevator, the other man suddenly asked, "He Zhou, how are you and my son doing now? Still arguing?"
"No Uncle, we made up a long time ago."
The junior secretary behind him still had a professional smile on her face, but she was actually pinching her fingers to death out of shock.
The lift quickly reached the 18th floor.
After Qiu Qingcang stepped out, he paused for a moment before following He Zhou to his office.
Qiu Qingcang sat down on the sofa, looked at He Zhou and spoke casually, “He Zhou, I’ve heard some unsavory rumours floating around in the past few days."
He Zhou asked, "What kind of rumours?"
Qiu Qingcang said, "The kind about your personal affairs."
While the junior secretary carefully made tea for Qiu Qingcang, her ears perked up to catch all the potential juicy details.
Secretary Xu, who was helping He Zhou sort out the documents, also slowed down his movements.
"I heard that some of your employees saw you in a relationship with a high school student."
He Zhou smiled like it didn’t concern him. “What an outrageous rumour.”
Qiu Qingcang took a sip of his tea, his tone unhurried, "It does sound rather outrageous."
Then he stood up and took two steps forward, stopping in front of the screen. "There's a compartment behind here, right?"
He Zhou nodded. "But it's not used often. I sometimes take a nap there.”
"Funny enough, I actually heard an even more outrageous rumour as well.”
Qiu Qingcang shook his head and sighed, "I can't believe someone said you were living with that young boy and even hiding him in this compartment while you’re at work.”
He Zhou laughed and walked up to Qiu Qingcang.
"Uncle, there is no need to concern yourself with these ridiculous and absurd rumours. I have always been devoted to your son alone."
With that, He Zhou walked behind the screen and opened the door to the compartment.
He said with a smile, "Not to mention some young boy, I doubt there’s even a fly in that bareboned room.”
"Is that so?" Qiu Qingcang gave a cold laugh.
He Zhou stiffened when he looked inside.
On the bed in the middle of the room was a boy with his back to them.
The boy had a huge hood covering his head and a furry blanket draped over most of his body. The only way others could tell he was passionately playing games on his laptop was from his movements.
He Zhou had to take a second. He frowned out of confusion. “This…”
Qiu Qingcang really didn’t expect He Zhou to still try and deny it after being caught red handed. He was heartbroken and angry for his poor son who didn’t even know about the green hat on his head.
His tone became colder and colder, "What? Could it be that even Mr. He doesn't know who’s sitting on the bed?"
Said young man on the bed seemed to have finally noticed the commotion.
He suddenly stiffened. Like the character on his screen, the youth froze into a statue.
Then he took off his hood and the heavy noise-cancelling headphones he was wearing.
Ever so slowly, he turned his head.
"...Dad." He blinked and carefully called out.