Luo Qi walked to the desk and placed the laptop and file boxes1 on Jiang Shenghe’s desk. He was looking at the documents, focused on work. He had changed into a white shirt and black trousers—not a trace of casualness could be found on him.
Jiang Shenghe finally raised his head. “Sit down”, he said, pointing to the chair in front of the table.
Luo Qi opened the file boxes and placed several documents one by one within reach of Jiang Shenghe’s right hand. She quickly stacked up the empty cases and placed them on the corner of the table before sitting down.
Using the time when the laptop was booting up, she tried her best to adapt to Jiang Shenghe’s strong aura and get into work mode as soon as possible.
Today’s work will run at least three or four hours, and the laptop battery may not be enough, so she brought a charging cable.
Jiang Sheng caught a glimpse of the charging cable from the corner of his eyes and reached out, “Give me the plug.”
There is a built-in socket on the desk, but it’s on Jiang Shenghe’s side and Luo Qi couldn’t reach it, so she handed over the charging cable plug, “I will trouble you, Chief Jiang.”
Jiang Shenghe didn’t respond, just plugged it in.
Luo Qi opened a document and took a look at Jiang Shenghe. He hadn’t read the paper document yet, so she waited patiently.
After so many years, she once again sat across Jiang Shenghe’s desk to report on her work. The last time this happened, they were in a foreign country, and she was still in college.
In that year, her father’s company went bankrupt, and her father owed a lot of foreign debts. They could no longer afford her tuition fees and living expenses abroad, so she could only support herself by working part-time. With the help of an alumnus, she was able to get an internship offer from Yuanwei Capital, which is also a company Jiang Shenghe holds majority shares in.
The internship salary was quite considerable, and it was able to support her to a smooth graduation.
The major shareholders of Yuanwei Capital have profound and complicated backgrounds. Among them is Jiang Shenghe’s cousin. Luo Qi entered Yuanwei Capital as an intern in the project team headed by Jiang Shenghe’s cousin.
His cousin was a typical second-generation playboy, romantic in his bones, but this romantic side was directed solely to the outside world. He valued the team members, and took good care of her and the two other interns.
She performed well during her internship and was given the opportunity to stay. In the last month of the internship, a project plan she made was approved by that Jiang cousin, and she presented the plan to Jiang Shenghe.
Jiang Shenghe gave her five minutes to introduce the key points of the project plan face-to-face. It was the first time she had contact with Jiang Shenghe. Due to her nervousness and lack of work experience, she was dissatisfied with her own performance.
After she finished introducing the main points, Jiang Shenghe opened the plan without saying a word. Frowning, he browsed the first page roughly and then closed it. “Go back and do your work, and I will reply to you after reading it.”
That’s the longest sentence he ever said to her.
After waiting for a month, she still hasn’t received Jiang Shenghe’s email.
She did not stay at Yuanwei Capital to work, but instead returned to China a month later. Her father had fallen ill under the heavy blows of bankruptcy, and her mother accompanied him to Beijing to see a doctor. His condition was not optimistic and he needed surgery.
Living under strained financial conditions, with the pressure of huge debts, his father became seriously ill, and his mother’s health also collapsed. When she returned home, she took care of her parents while looking for a job.
She took a chance and applied for a job at Yuanwei Capital’s parent company—Yuanwei Group.
She saw Jiang Shenghe again three years later, when he returned to China to take over Yuanwei Group. At that time she was already Jiang Yueru’s assistant.
She no longer had the hairstyle she had when she was in college, her makeup had become more mature, and she no longer used her English name. Jiang Shenghe didn’t seem to recognize her.
After finishing her internship that final year in college, her internal email was taken back by the company. She didn’t know if Jiang Shenghe ever replied to her or approved her project plan before the email was canceled.
But these thoughts have long been meaningless…
Luo Qi stopped her straying reminiscences and focused on looking at the documents on the computer screen.
“Will He Wancheng attend the signing day?” Jiang Shenghe asked, glancing at Luo Qi.
Luo Qi entered the working state in seconds, “Yes, Director He made it clear that he would attend the signing ceremony.”
He Wancheng is the chairman of their project partner in Sucheng. He is from Sucheng himself. He’s quite easy-going, friendly, and in his fifties—about the same age as Jiang Yueru.
Luo Qi thought that the overtime work would be over in three or four hours, but it turned out that after three hours, the discussion was only halfway through. The light outside the window began to dim, and it was almost evening.
During the three hours, Luo Qi only relaxed her focus for a few minutes when Jiang Shenghe answered his phone—at all other times, she was tense and on her toes, not daring to be distracted.
Jiang Shenghe looked at his watch; it was already past dinner time, so he called Secretary Ju. “Order some takeaways, we’ll have to work hard tonight.”
Secretary Ju thought, it’s really not hard at all. She and another colleague came here just to accompany them. They’ve been sitting at their station watching dramas. It couldn’t be considered overtime work at all, but there was still overtime pay.
The boss had called her earlier in the afternoon, notified her to come to the company to work overtime. He also specifically said, ‘You don’t need to be busy. Luo Qi will come over and brief me on the project in Sucheng.’
So she informed another male colleague to come to the company to ‘work overtime’ together.
Secretary Ju asked Luo Qi in a business-like tone, “Assistant Luo, is there anything you should not eat?”
“I can’t eat spicy food, but everything else is fine.” Luo Qi has a small appetite, “Please make a special note when placing the order: my meals are all halved in size. Sorry for the trouble.”
Secretary Ju smiled. “No trouble at all.”
Jiang Shenghe put down the documents in his hand and went to the restroom.
The boss was not there, and Secretary Ju gave Luo Qi a special wink before going out.
Luo Qi smiled and gave her one too.
Secretary Ju’s child is already in primary school, yet she is still as playful as before.
When Jiang Shenghe came back from the bathroom, he saw that Luo Qi was still sitting upright at the table as when he left.
“Ten minutes break before we continue,” he said.
Luo Qi has been used to this sitting posture since she became an assistant, and as a result, she wouldn’t slouch casually even during breaks
Jiang Shenghe sat down and picked up the glass to drink water. She didn’t know what to say to the unfamiliar boss to avoid the awkward silence, so she decided to take her cup and pour herself some coffee in the pantry outside.
She stood up and walked towards the door. Jiang Shenghe looked over and watched her back for a few seconds.
When Luo Qi came back in with hot, freshly ground coffee, exactly ten minutes had passed, and the break had now ended.
Jiang Shenghe understood what she was thinking from the beginning: so as to avoid having to talk to him, it was really hard for her to step back in.
He was about to say ‘Let’s get started’ when Luo Qi’s phone buzzed and vibrated.
Luo Qi put down her coffee cup and hurriedly picked up her cell phone. It was Pei Shixiao’s call. She didn’t answer it, simply hung up.
Pei Shixiao thought she was angry, so then a message came in: [Why didn’t you answer the phone? Have you had dinner yet? ]
Luo Qi typed quickly: [Working overtime, in the boss’s office. ]
She flipped the mobile phone facing down on the table and picked up the mouse.
A few seconds passed, and the phone vibrated again, but she didn’t take a look at it anymore. She didn’t need to look to know that it was Pei Shixiao texting her back—it was nothing more than asking her to focus on work first, and then call him back when it was over.
Jiang Shenghe glanced at her and didn’t say anything.
Instead he sent a message to his bodyguard on the web version of WeChat: [Call me now. No need to reply to this message.]
He closed the dialog box, and the bodyguard’s phone call immediately came in.
Jiang Shenghe opened the drawer and searched for a pack of cigarettes. He rarely smokes; the cigarettes in the office are used to entertain friends.
He said to Luo Qi, “You read the documents first.” He took out his mobile phone and the pack of cigarettes and went out.
Luo Qi didn’t think much, thinking that the boss had an important call, and it was not convenient to answer it in front of her.
At the end of the corridor outside the office, Jiang Shenghe picked up the call. “It’s all right,” he said—and directly hung up.
He opened the pack of cigarettes, took one out, put it in his mouth, and took it down again after a while.
He only brought out the cigarettes but forgot to bring a lighter.
Jiang Shenghe rubbed the cigarette in his hand twice, and threw it into the trash can next to him.
Outside the window, it was already dark.
No cigarettes, his hand inside his pockets, he looked out the window. He stayed in the corridor for a few minutes—giving Luo Qi time to reply to the message—and then returned to the office.
T/N: Throughout the story, we’d get to see Jiang Shenghe’s memories of this same ‘past’ and it would be completely different from how Luo Qi remembers it. It’s not that Luo Qi is an Unreliable Narrator—but she was too caught up in the stress of her family’s downfall, having to earn money, her parent’s health, and her affections were already firmly set on another boy that she had no attention to spare for a new guy who popped into her life. She never saw all the things he did for her—just like she didn’t see how considerate he was being just now in giving her time to attend to her personal phone call.
1 For visual aid, the file boxes that Luo Qi are carrying are probably something like this