Chapter five

At night, Duan Shen held a video conference in his study. Huddling on the desk next to him, Lin Xi copied from the book. With each line his face kept drooping over the page. Without even shifting his gaze, Duan Shen issued his order.

“Lift your head. Do you want to go blind?”

His hand gripping the edge of the desk, Lin Xi sat up again, just in time to hear someone speak over the laptop speaker. “Mr. Duan, are you watching your kid do homework?”

Duan Shen responded, his face impassive. “My kid won’t listen to me. I’m making him copy lines.”

Whoever was taking seemed very surprised. “Mr. Duan, do you already have kids?”

Duan Shen’s eyes flickered to Lin Xi, his tone still flat. “Yes. Picked one up on the road the other day.”

Lin Xi: “…”

He snorted, stopping his hand from twirling the pen again. Hands around his chest, he lifted his chin and leaned against the chair. He cleared his voice, “Dad!”

Everyone else on the call heard it clearly, and seemed so surprised their chins dropped. Duan Shen’s eyes seemed darker. Closing his laptop, he turned toward him. “Yawning again, Lin Xi?”

Pressing his lips together, Lin Xi looked away again, disguising his smug smile. “Nope.”

After his meeting, Duan Shen left the study. Immediately Lin Xi threw down his fountain pen and leaned against the chair, playing on his phone again. After a while, he noticed that nothing outside the door was stirring and stood up, planning to go back to his room so he could sleep. When he was passing the closet, he noticed that the door was open. On the rug there was an open black suitcase.

Lin Xi’s gaze swept over the suits and shirts on the right. When he glimpsed the chocolate color amidst the darker shirts, his steps staggered. Stealthily, he went in. The house was Duan Shen’s and so was the closet. Lin Xi had never been inside.

He hesitated before pushing aside the expensive shirt, pulling out the old chocolate-colored hoodie bit by bit until he could see the whole thing. Lin Xi blinked in surprise.

Duan Shen never wore hoodies. This was his. When he was sixteen, he slept over at Duan Shen’s place once. He woke up in the morning and snuck away in one of Duan Shen’s jackets, leaving his own hoodie behind.

Footsteps rang closer and closer in the living room. Quick as he could, Lin Xi shoved the hoodie back into the closet. In his rush, he accidentally pulled out one of Duan Shen’s ties. He bent down hurriedly, picking it up and balling it up before stuffing it into his pocket. When he rose again, he saw out of the corner of his eye the silhouette at the door. He turned around guiltily. “ you’re going out?”

“I have a flight tomorrow morning,” Duan Shen said.

Lin Xi “oh”d, shoving his hands into his pockets. His head raised and chest out, he walked outside slowly. Within two steps, Duan Shen called him to a stop, his voice slightly warning. “Don’t even think about staying out all night. My flight back is at seven p.m. I want to see you home when I come back.”

His body slightly stiff, Lin Xi responded with an irritated mumble. “Got it.”

The truth was that words like that weren’t even in Lin Xi’s vocabulary. The moment Duan Shen left with his luggage, Lin Xi jumped out of bed and woke up all his friends with a call, “Half an hour, we meet at the bar.”

Lu Lingxing sat up, his head throbbing. “It’s too early in the morning for you to be going crazy on us. It’s not even open yet.”

Lin Xi smacked his lips together impatiently. “If it’s not open, go and open it for me. I’m planning on booking the whole place during the day.”

“Oh, and right,” he added, humming, “Let the bar manager know to prepare me a piece of paper and a fountain pen.”

Hanging up, he threw his phone at the bed and slipped into his clothes to go get washed. Picking up the toast on the table in his teeth and with Duan Shen’s book in hand, he called a cab and went directly to the bar. All the rich kids that had been dragged out of bed by his call sat by the bar with tired faces.

Book in hand, Lin Xi kicked all of them one by one in the shin to wake them up before slamming his book down on the bar. “Hurry up and copy this for me.”


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