Qiu Yanzhi was about to make something to eat when he received a call from his father.
Qiu Hongsheng said that he should come back home.
Qiu Yanzhi took a look at the time. It was 10am right now.
He frowned. Although he didn't know what his father wanted with him, he agreed and put the vegetables he was about to wash back in the fridge. Drinking a carton of milk to fill his stomach, he changed clothes and headed out with his car keys.
Upon arriving, the butler quietly informed him that the old master was waiting for him in the study.
Qiu Yanzhi nodded and headed there.
The door to the study was closed, so Qiu Yanzhi knocked twice.
"Come in." His father said.
Qiu Yanzhi pushed the door open and found Qiu Xicheng here too.
He was at the desk grinding ink for their father while telling the man something with a tilted head and a warm smile.
The duo looked every bit the epitome of what father and son should be.
However, as soon as he looked up and saw Qiu Yanzhi, Qiu Xicheng’s smile dimmed. But he soon recovered and asked, “Why has Zhizhi come home now?”
“Dad asked me to come." Qiu Yanzhi looked at Qiu Hongsheng and asked, "Dad, why did you ask me to come?”
Qiu Hongsheng was still focused on writing something. His tone was unhurried, "Tonight is Mr. He Sr.'s birthday banquet. Make preparations to attend with me this evening.”
Qiu Xicheng stopped grinding ink. He looked up at Qiu Hongsheng, barely managing to keep a smile on his face. “Dad, hasn’t it always been me who accompanies you to Mr. He Sr.’s birthday banquet?”
Qiu Hongsheng didn't say anything. As he finished the last stroke of the character he was writing, he slowly intoned, “Your younger brother is old enough to see the world by my side.”
Only then did Qiu Yanzhi react to who this Mr. He Sr. was.
So it was the old president of the Shengyuan Group, He Pingfeng.
AKA Qin He's grandfather.
Then this birthday banquet that Qiu Hongsheng wanted him to attend was the same one that He Zhou was going to.
Qiu Xicheng pursed his lips tightly. His expression was somewhat twisted, but he forced his tone to remain cordial: "Zhizhi probably doesn’t want to go, right? He’s always been introverted so he probably doesn’t like those kinds of gatherings.”
Qiu Hongsheng looked up at Qiu Yanzhi and asked, "Do you want to go?"
Qiu Yanzhi blinked and quietly said, "Yes."
Qiu Xicheng's expression immediately darkened.
Qiu Hongsheng slowly set the brush on the ivory pen rest and said, "I ordered a suit for you. It’s with the butler. Go try it on.”
Qiu Yanzhi’s eyes crinkled as he smiled and obediently said, “Thank you Daddy.”
Then he pushed the door and walked out.
Qiu Yanzhi’s smile slowly faded after he was outside.
Qiu Hongsheng had been paying him a little too much attention for a while now.
Qiu Yanzhi was definitely not naive enough to think that Qiu Hongsheng had finally saw him in a different light and decided to train him as his successor.
Instead, a phrase flashed through his mind.
--The catfish effect.
Sardines were lazy and unmotivated by nature, so they often give up on life and die before the fishing boat could even make it back to port. However, if you put a catfish into the sardine pile, the sardines will feel anxious and renew their struggles, keeping them fresh until the return to shore.
Thinking about it rationally, Qiu Yanzhi knew that Qiu Xicheng was the sardine that Qiu Hongsheng valued, but perhaps he had been trying too hard or become disobedient as of late. Thus, Qiu Hongsheng used his other son as a catfish to incite Qiu Xicheng’s competitive streak in the hopes of making him a more qualified successor.
Qiu Yanzhi never had any intention of being a catfish. He only agreed to go to the birthday banquet because of He Zhou.
In the end, he was still afraid that He Zhou would expose himself in front of Qin He’s family. At least he would be able to monitor the man if he went with Qiu Hongsheng.
If He Zhou did expose himself, Qiu Yanzhi would definitely think of a way to get him out of trouble.
Qiu Yanzhi had never really been to such a scene with Qiu Hongsheng before.
One attendee didn’t even know Qiu Honsheng had another son, making their toasts to him somewhat awkward until Qiu Honsheng patted Qiu Yanzhi’s shoulder with a smile. “This is my youngest son.”
Only then did it dawn on the person. “President Qiu is so lucky."
Qiu Yanzhi followed Qiu Hongsheng around and listened to stranger after stranger complimenting how talented he was for his age. While replying modestly, he absentmindedly sipped at his wine and looked around the hall for He Zhou in secret.
and listened to one stranger after another complimenting him on his youthful talent, while modestly responding, but absentmindedly sipping the wine in his hand and looking up to silently search for He Zhou in the banquet hall.
"Yanzhi, this is President Xu of the Yuming Group." Qiu Hongsheng stated.
Qiu Yanzhi looked up to greet him. His eyes stilled when he noticed someone he knew for once.
It was the girl he had been on a blind date with once.
She was wearing a vibrant, colorful dress which outlined her exquisite figure.
Xu Wei blinked and clinked her red wine glass crisply against Qiu Yanzhi's. “Qiu Yanzhi, long time no see."
Qiu Yanzhi smiled. "Long time no see."
Qiu Hongsheng and that President Xu continued their discussion with a tinge of humour, leaving behind their two juniors to chat.
"I'm really sorry for leaving suddenly last time." Qiu Yanzhi said.
"It's okay." Xu Wei patted her hair, not really bothered. "It’s not like we were seriously matchmaking anyway.”
Xu Wei glanced upstairs and frowned. "Why isn't that young master of the He family down yet?"
Qiu Yanzhi also followed her gaze upwards. He casually asked, "Why, you know him?"
"I’ve only seen his picture." Xu Wei paused for a moment, her tone a bit unwilling, "My father insisted on sending me on another blind date."
Qiu Yanzhi froze for a moment: "A blind date?"
"My dad said he's going to introduce us when he comes down. Ugh, it’s so annoying. Can’t he do his research before arranging anything? From what I heard, He Zhou’s gay too.”
Qiu Yanzhi blinked. "...Where did you hear that from, ah?"
“A long time ago. I went to the same high school as his little sister about four or five years ago? While we were out on a group dinner, He Xiaoqing got drunk and started howling about how pitiful her brother was, secretly pining after another man for five or six years. Apparently he never contacted that person again after being rejected, but he’s been secretly monitoring him and even going to that boy’s school disguised just so he could sneak a few glances while pretending to pass by…”
Qiu Yanzhi froze.
Xu Wei suddenly noticed something that made her raise an eyebrow and say somewhat teasingly, “I still have something to do so I’ll be leaving first.”
Qiu Yanzhi felt that her expression was very knowing, so he followed her gaze and unexpectedly saw Fei Sihao.
Fei Sihao obviously also saw Xu Wei. He halted his steps, his expression a little embarrassed.
Only after Xu Wei left did he walk over to Qiu Yanzhi.
Qiu Yanzhi: "What a coincidence. Why are you here too?"
Fei Sihao glanced at Xu Wei's back and asked, "That...that girl you were just talking to, who is she? Do you know her?”
Qiu Yanzhi casually took a pastry and stuffed it into his mouth, saying, "She’s the youngest daughter of the Yuming Group. I don't know her. We met for the first time today.”
Fei Sihao sighed slightly in relief.
"What a coincidence meeting you here.” Qiu Yanzhi repeated.
“I came with a friend."
Fei Sihao softly said with crinkled eyes. Then he reached over like he wanted to brush the pastry crumbs from the corner of Qiu Yanzhi's mouth.
Qiu Yanzhi backed up a bit, avoiding his touch. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.”
“There’s people here.” Qiu Yanzhi said softly.
Fei Sihao chuckled. "Sorry, I forgot."
He paused and said, "When you’re around, you become the only one I see.”
Qiu Yanzhi grimaced on the inside. He felt goosebumps instantly rise on his arms.
Fei Sihao wasn’t of much use after he fell out with Qiu Xicheng.
I’ll break up with him after the banquet.
Qiu Yanzhi thought silently as he took a sip of wine.
For now, in order to avoid any trouble, he had to hold back the urge to vomit and keep up the charade a while longer.
Thanks to Qiu Xicheng, Fei Sihao knew plenty of the people attending. In fact, he knew many, many more faces that even Qiu Yanzhi.
He and Qiu Yanzhi chatted good-naturedly with these people, making connections and really helping Qiu Yanzhi expand his network.
Not far away, Qiu Hongsheng was pleased to note this. He stopped keeping one eye on his son.
Since Qiu Yanzhi heard on the recording that Fei Sihao and Qiu Xicheng fell out, he grew lax around Fei Sihao.
Without much fanfare, he popped the fruit candy Fei Sihao gave him into his mouth.
As a result, he lost consciousness in Fei Sihao’s arms a short while later.
Then he was assisted by Fei Sihao out of the banquet hall.
Qiu Yanzhi didn’t realize he fucked up until the man took out a room key and went to one of the rooms prepared for guests upstairs.
But his limbs were like lead and everything felt hot.
Qiu Yanzhi glared at Fei Sihao and asked through clenched teeth, "Fei Sihao, you drugged me?"
"I didn't mean to." Fei Sihao explained, "Qiu Xicheng's people were watching me, I had to do it this way."
Fei Sihao squatted on the edge of the bed and took Qiu Yanzhi’s hand in his, kissing the back tenderly. He softly said, “Zhizhi, I’ll tell you everything, okay? Please trust me. I won’t hurt you.”
Qiu Yanzhi closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He extracted his hand from Fei Sihao’s hold. However, after a pause, he moved to gently stroke Fei Sihao’s cheek instead. “I trust you.”
Fei Sihao’s heart was melting from Qiu Yanzhi’s gentle ministrations. He was so overcome that he didn’t notice Qiu Yanzhi’s other hand reaching into his pocket and sending a text.
He looked into Qiu Yanzhi's eyes and sincerely tried to defend himself, "Your second brother Qiu Xicheng is actually nothing like what you think..."