Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Ten minutes later.
Lin Qian rested her chin on her hand, glued her eyes to the screen, seemingly preoccupied and focused.
Her ears were, however, involuntarily listening for any sound stirring in the room next door.
The sound of her boss standing up, pacing around the room. The sound of him sitting down again, typing on his keyboard. Rustling sounds… him flipping through some documents…
Everything sounded normal, very productive even. Not a trace of frustration nor sudden change in emotion, common symptoms in a lovesick person.
Lin Qian breathed a sigh of relief.
On second thought, she was definitely worrying for no reason! People like him must be good at controlling their emotions and feelings. Or perhaps, even though unrequited in love, romance for him in general was not a priority. One could figure this out from another specimen his species, Lin Mochen.
But Lin Qian was a little restless; mouse in hand, she clicked aimlessly on the screen.
When it comes to relationships, it’s not like rejecting him or not loving him makes you the winner and you can rejoice without any worry. It always takes two to work at a relationship; it’s also a double-edged sword.
Right after she had finished the line, Lin Qian wanted to bite her tongue off. Why had her tone sounded guilty and foolish, like a student admitting her mistake to the teacher?
Then, she had seen him sitting behind his office desk, expressionless as before, staring at her using his dark, deep eyes. He had kept staring at her. His gaze had made her feel uncomfortable.
She had lowered her head, avoiding his gaze; she’d come up with an excuse and left the room.
“What are you thinking about that you are so absorbed?” a familiar voice rang.
Lin Qian was surprised; she looked up. Gu Yanzhi and Xue Mingtao were standing in front of her. She didn’t know how long they had been there.
She immediately collected her thoughts, smiling. “Mr. Gu, Mr. Xue, is there anything I can help you with?”
Gu Yanzhi smiled without a word; he seemed refreshed. Also smiling, Xue Mingtao said, “Where’s your coat? Aren’t you coming?”
Lin Qian paused momentarily; only then did she notice that both of them were in coats, and Xue Mingtao had an office bag in his hand, ready to leave. Before she could respond, she heard steady footsteps walking over to them. Li Zhicheng’s deep voice rang out. “She is going.”
Lin Qian froze for a moment, then she quickly stood up, tried to look normal, turned and said with a smile, “Mr. Li.”
She was surprised.
Li Zhicheng had his coat on, still the same black coat that made him look tall and cool. Beneath his short hair, his dark eyes were indifferent; his gaze paused on her for a while, his deep voice ordering, “Grab your coat. We’re going out.”
Nothing peculiar, expressionless as before. He looked just the same as usual. In contrast with the dominance and enthusiasm shown in the office just now, he felt like a different person.
“Okay,” Lin Qian replied. She turned off her computer, put on her coat, and followed after the three of them to the elevator.
The car cruised steadily on the ring road.
Xue Mingtao was the driver; Lin Qian was in the passenger seat as usual.
Today’s sales were still rising; therefore, Xue Mingtao was chatting happily with the two bosses while driving. Gu Yanzhi was obviously in a good mood too; he even teased Li Zhicheng, saying that he should treat them.
Lin Qian, sitting in front, could see Li Zhicheng out of the corner of her eyes. He sat straight up, unperturbed. When faced with Gu Yanzhi’s teasing, he chipped in a few words as a response. Not sure if she was overthinking, Lin Qian felt like his voice was especially low today, and his cold and composed aura filled the car. Occasionally when he raised his head to look in front, Lin Qian could feel his clear and keen gaze silently land on her.
An unsettling feeling washed over her, so she was quieter than usual.
But her silence drew attention from the others.
Xue Mingtao turned the car into a brand new industrial zone, glancing at Lin Qian at the same time. “Lin, why are you so quiet today? Still feverish?”
Lin Qian realized she hadn’t said a word since she had gotten into the car. Today was the joyous day after their first triumph in battle, so her silence was indeed abnormal.
As soon as Xue Mingtao finished speaking, she could feel the gaze of both men in the back seat settle on her. She instantly pulled out a bright smile. “A little.”
She just wanted to get by the question with a vague answer, but it happened that the traffic light turned red, so the car stopped. Xue Mingtao turned to her, looking concerned. “Show me your tongue?”
“Huh?” Lin Qian said.
Xue Mingtao was over forty; he thought highly of her after their first battle, so he treated her like a dear sister. Seeing her stunned, he chuckled, “I used to practice traditional Chinese medicine. Let me examine your tongue and your throat.”
“Oh.” Lin Qian turned towards him, opening her mouth and sticking out her tongue. “Ahh.”
When she darted her eyes from this angle she could see Li Zhicheng sitting straight up in his seat, both hands on his knees, revealing the white cuffs beneath his coat. He was staring at her; his gaze was similar to when he had confessed to her in the morning, bright and piercing.
Lin Qian was taken aback by his stare. Her tongue was still out. Suddenly her face reddened. She quickly closed her mouth shut, tilted her head aside, avoiding his gaze.
Don’t let him see.
Confused, Xue Mingtao gave her a look, “Why are you suddenly dodging… It looks fine, there should be no inflammation. It’s just odd that your face is red. Do you have a fever?” As he spoke, he put his palm over her forehead.
And so Lin Qian could sense more intensely that Li Zhicheng’s stare was fixed on her face once again, pausing at the spot touched by Xue Mingtao.
Lin Qian continued to blush. Xue Mingtao was nagging her to drink more water and such, but she wasn’t listening.
Godd*mnit… what is this?
She had already rejected him. But right now, why did the interaction between both of them give the… the illusion that she was already his? Her every move seemed to be locked under his gaze. And it was strange that she automatically filtered out other people, only caring about his actions.
Could it be… Li Zhicheng’s aura and presence were too dominant?
The car stopped at a new industrial zone not far away from Aida Group.
It was almost noon. The brand-new, large, grey office building area was bathed in sunlight. The compound was filled with green plants; the scenery tranquil and picturesque. Lin Qian was aware that this area had been built with the investment from the state government, and was for sale or for rent. Because it was still very new, only a few blocks had been built, the company’s sign hanging on them. There was not a single person in the area.
What are they doing here? Most of Aida’s industrial zone was still left abandoned and unattended; a portion of it had been mortgaged to the bank.
The three men were tall so they walked fast. Lin Qian was trotting behind them. As they were walking, Xue Mingtao introduced the area to the two bosses in a low voice; Li Zhicheng, leading in front, didn’t look at her or speak to her.
Finally, they entered a white three-story building. Contrasted with the classic nineties design of Aida’s main office, the layout here was clean, elegant, and modern, using black and white as the base tone.
Lin Qian looked around. Suddenly a thought popped into her head: this place had been designed and decorated based on Li Zhicheng’s preference.
She lifted her gaze to look at Li Zhicheng. Hands in his pants pockets, he was overlooking the surrounding area.
Why does he want to buy or rent a new office? What is he trying to do?
But they didn’t explain, so she kept the question to herself. The four of them visited every room one by one; most of the time Gu Yanzhi was the only person nitpicking, commenting on the interior design. Li Zhicheng only pointed out one or two alterations to be made. Xue Mingtao readily promised that after this he would ask the workers to make changes accordingly.
Once in a while, when Li Zhicheng turned around to walk out of a room, he would come face to face with her. She would avert her gaze, acting dumb by not staring at his eyes. His side profile was calm; his steps steady. He would walk past her like normal.
Lin Qian slowly calmed down with his calm demeanor. Yup, that’s right. Back to the status of boss and assistant. That’s very good.
She actually still very much preferred to work alongside him.
The south wing on the third floor of the area was obviously reserved for the administrators. The space was segmented into small rooms; the interior design was more delicate too. When they reached one of the rooms that faced south, Lin Qian paid extra attention to it. This was because the room was decorated with warm colors. Even the office desk strayed from the regular black color of the desks in the other rooms; instead, it was a bright and clean beige color. The glass window on the side was carved into beautiful geometrical shapes. The whole room looked refreshing and stylish.
When Gu Yanzhi entered this room, he smiled without saying a word. He didn’t nitpick on anything either. Xue Mingtao looked around, nodding. “I feel like this room is the best. In terms of the direction it’s facing, design, and style.” After he finished speaking he looked at Lin Qian with a smile.
Lin Qian paused momentarily. Is he hinting for her to comment as well?
Before she could speak, Li Zhicheng, initially standing alone quietly in front of the desk, turned around and looked at her too. His voice was distant and flat. “What do you think?”
Lin Qian stared straight into his dark eyes.
Finally… he speaks to me again. She replied with a smile, “I think it’s quite good.”
He didn’t say anything else, turning to look at the other side.
Lin Qian understood. Was it possible that this office was being prepared for an incoming female manager?
Who would that person be? Enough for Li Zhicheng to take notice of the design, and even speaking to her to ask for her opinion.
Lin Qian, with a stomach full of questions, followed behind them as they left the area.
When they reached Aida, Xue Mingtao sent the two bosses upstairs. Then he asked Lin Qian to accompany him to look for the contractor to convey the changes discussed just now. Lin Qian gladly agreed. She didn’t want to go back to the office to face Li Zhicheng. It would be better if they could give each other some time to cool off.
While they were on their way, Lin Qian finally couldn’t hold it in anymore and asked, “Mr. Xue, the new office that we saw today—what’s it going to be used for?”
Xue Mingtao looked at her, surprised. “You don’t know yet? I figured Mr. Li had told you since he asked you to go check out the office as well.” He smiled, lowering his voice. “Very soon Mr. Li will separate the hot-selling Vinda out to form a new subsidiary company. The relationship between Vinda and Aida will become investor and debtor. As for the rest, you can witness it yourself.”
Lin Qian was dumbfounded.
So, that was how it was.
In the morning she had still been worried that Vinda would be dragged down by the mess of Aida Group. She’d been worried about how Li Zhicheng would be able to control the company. However, looking at the new office today, it seemed like Li Zhicheng was not only focused on the marketing war with other companies, but he was preparing to rectify the situation in the company as well.
Now that they had seized victory outside, he had started to take drastic measures to control the inside. Step by step, each step interconnected, carefully planned with every conceivable possibility taken into account.
Exactly how shrewd is this man?
When Lin Qian returned to the office again, it was already past 7:00 pm.
She first went to the IT department to inquire about today’s sales. After receiving a surprising result, her mood brightened. Even the trace of gloominess caused by her incident with Li Zhicheng had gone with the wind.
But the aura of her boss was impeccable. When she stepped out of the elevator and set foot on the top floor, it only took her a glance at his half-closed office door from afar to get anxious again.
They were both adults. There wasn’t anything embarrassing about working together now, right?
He would not stare at her again with that rattling gaze, right?
When she moved closer, she saw someone in her seat. It was a familiar face, Yang Xiru, her subordinate from the CEO office.
Lin Qian walked towards her, smiling. “What’s up? Looking for me?”
Yang Xiru immediately stood up; the smile on her face was lovely and compliant. “Miss Lin, I am here to familiarize myself first. If you have any orders, feel free to assign them to me first.”
Lin Qian was puzzled. “What are you familiarizing yourself with?”
Yang Xiru was surprised too. She replied, “CEO assistant’s duties.”
She was a smart girl; seeing that Lin Qian’s expression didn’t look right, she immediately lowered her voice, answering truthfully, “Miss Lin, I received a call from Mr. Li an hour ago saying that you’ll be transferred to another department soon. He asked me to get ready to be the CEO’s assistant.”
Before Lin Qian could speak, a familiar bass voice called from inside the room. “Lin Qian, come in.”
Yang Xiru made a face at her, but Lin Qian couldn’t smile. She pushed the door open, walked in, and locked the door.
When she raised her head and saw Li Zhicheng sitting on the sofa, calm and collected, a thought flashed through her mind.
Because of the incident this morning he’s transferring me away?
Indeed, as superior and subordinate, this method was the best solution for them. Hadn’t she thought of applying for a transfer in the morning as well?
But her resigning was one matter. Him transferring her away was another.
His feelings for her, as it turned out, could only last for a day. Once he’d been rejected, he was going to immediately send her away?
“Sit.” He calmly looked at her, his demeanor cold and handsome as usual. But his gaze was not as sharp and deep as it had been in the morning; it was peaceful like it normally was.
Lin Qian sat down quietly.
Li Zhicheng pushed a document on the table towards her. Lin Qian glanced at the cover page: “Dismissal Agreement.”
This came way too suddenly. Lin Qian tried to settle her nerves. She couldn’t believe it, but the paper was right in front of her.
She didn’t even bother flipping through the dismissal agreement. Pride rushed through her. She stared at him across the table, glaring at him. “Is it because of what happened this morning?”
Her tone was harsh. Li Zhicheng’s eyes darkened, staring at her slightly reddened cheeks.
After a moment, his pair of unfathomable eyes flickered with amusement. He looked down, reached out, and opened the dismissal agreement for her.
“What are you thinking?” he asked lightly. “Do you think I would let you go?”
Lin Qian’s heart quivered. She couldn’t care to figure out whether his words had a hidden meaning. Instead she bent her head to read the content of the dismissal agreement. It was written on the first page: “Due to Lin Qian voluntarily offering to work at Vinda company, this agreement has been made between her and Aida Group, and the contract of employment shall be terminated…”
Lin Qian blinked. Vinda company? The new subsidiary company mentioned by Xue Mingtao? The new office visited by them today? So soon? Her anger vanished, replaced with confusion and curiosity.
“Look at the back.” Li Zhicheng’s words were succinct.
Lin Qian flipped to the back; it turned out there was a copy of the new employment contract attached. She opened it and she was shocked again.
“Lin Qian… Assistant CEO…”
CEO’s assistant, Assistant CEO. The titles merely differed in sequence, but the ranking varied tremendously. Assistant CEO was genuinely a high-ranking position, usually managing a few departments.
Lin Qian stared at this title, her heart beating fast. A phrase popped up in her head: a meteoric rise to fame.
No wonder he had brought her along to see the office today. No wonder they had asked for her opinion of the office.
That office… could it have possibly been prepared for her?
She was speechless for a while.
Apparently noticing the hesitation in her heart, Li Zhicheng said calmly, “This delegation has nothing to do with love. From now on, you take charge.”
His concise words, as usual, caused Lin Qian to feel a sudden gush of blood pulsing through her veins.
Yes—if it were for love he would keep her close, not let her go. He was not someone who would let a relationship impair his judgment and career.
Since this was unrelated to love, then it was due to her ability and outstanding achievement. Lin Qian’s ability was indeed strong; furthermore, she had contributed greatly in this battle.
So, he really wanted to let her go out and take charge?
Lin Qian stood up, holding the contract of employment; her expression was more serious than it had ever been. “Mr. Li, I will definitely do my best. I will not disappoint you.”
Li Zhicheng sat on the sofa, both hands on his knees, staring at her. “I will never be disappointed in you.”
That night for Lin Qian was a sleepless night. Her thoughts roamed.
As for Li Zhicheng, he spent the night sitting in the quiet office, setting up a Go game, and inviting someone over for a match.
He’d grown up with his grandfather and had long been trained to play Go. He was the one behind intentionally releasing the antique Go manual into the market for Chen Zheng. Other than to lure him in, he had also gained Mr. Kang as his Go-mate. The effort had been worth it.
But looking at Aida, only Liu Tong, deputy CEO and veteran, was worthy of playing against him.
Liu Tong gladly accepted his invitation. The two of them sat facing the lonely moon outside the window, playing Go in silence.
After they ended a round, Liu Tong chuckled, “Zicheng, I’ve had five matches with you so far, and I’ve lost all five of them. However, today is rare because, for once, I see a chance of winning.” He glanced at Li Zhicheng. “Today you are a little impatient and distracted. Isn’t the online flagship store a success?”
Li Zhicheng paused for a moment, replying slowly, “An unrequited pursuit results in impatience and distraction. One should resist the temptation, toughen his nature, and slowly lay out the scheme.”
Liu Tong was stunned. He took a stone and set it down gently, saying flatly, “Never regret decisions made.”
A month later.
Tomorrow was the Lunar New Year’s eve. The office had a joyous atmosphere. Lin Qian, in a business suit and high heels, first went to inspect the customer service department. After ensuring that everything was normal and the sales were increasing steadily, she motivated the workers and then left feeling pleased.
After that she went to the IT department. This was not a department she managed, but it was one of the core departments in the company who worked closely with her. After chatting and exchanging New Year’s pleasantries with the IT department manager, she then turned around and returned to her office on the third floor.
It was almost time to leave work. After tomorrow they would start their long holiday. The hallways were packed with workers hastily walking around; when they saw Lin Qian, they would smile and nod. “Manager Lin!””Hello, Manager Lin!””Manager Lin, happy new year!”
Lin Qian would nod in acknowledgment to each and every one of them.
It feels good to be a leader. She was like a fish in water; the person who chose her for this position had chosen the right person for the right job.
Outside the window, the tree branches had started budding; the chilly air was no longer as frigid and bitter as it was during winter. Lin Qian stared at the spring scenery and her heart sighed with emotion.
Since the day she had received the employment contract, her work focus had shifted to preparing the new “Vinda” subsidiary company. She had slowly gotten to know more insider’s news as well. For example, before taking over Aida, Li Zhicheng had negotiated with his father that he would exchange the ten percent of Aida’s share in his hand with the ownership of the brand “Vinda.” At the time, since Vinda had been selling terribly overseas, all the shareholders had agreed without giving a second thought.
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