Chapter 17 — Slipping on the Snow
Putting his cell phone down, Chang Shi Gui turned around to look out the window. Seeing the snow falling outside, his mood was somewhat low.
“Boss?” His secretary knocked on his door and saw Mr Chang with his back to him, facing the window. He placed a couple of documents on the table. “The head of Chen’s company has sent a new business proposal. Please take a look.”
“Chen’s company?” Chang Shi Gui turned around to pick up the documents and glanced at the information about Chen’s present chief. “This is the younger son of the Chen family?”
The secretary nodded. The previous head of the project had been replaced by Chen Yijun, son of the Chen family head. A father paving way for his son, this kind of behaviour was normal. But for someone else to take over when all the work was done – this kind of behaviour made him displeased.
But Chen Yijun was the heir to Chen’s company. The employees cheated of the fruits of their labour would keep quiet even if they were dissatisfied. If it were anyone else, internal struggles would have already begun within the company.
Chang Shi Gui closed the folder. He said in a flat and indifferent tone, “There’s no need to read this. Chang will not cooperate with Chen.”
“Yes, boss.” The secretary took the folder back and exited.
Once he left, Chang Shi Gui sat back in his chair, rubbing his temples tiredly. He took out his phone to check his emails.
“Sister Zhou, have a cup of hot tea,” Ning Xi handed Zhou Haili the cup of tea and sat beside her, holding her own cup to dispel the cold.
“Thank you,” Zhou Haili locked her phone and handed it to her assistant. She took the tea and sipped on it. The flavour was very authentic, not like those ready-to-drink watered down tea bags.
Looking at the shivering Ning Xi, Zhou Haili laughed, saying, “I had assumed you weren’t afraid of the cold before since you had been hanging from the cables for so long.”
Ning Xi put on the hood of her coat and smiled at Zhou Haili, “I grew up being afraid of the cold. I used to…” Her tone became strange, but she then laughed. “When I encounter this kind of weather during work, I can’t wait to snuggle into my quilt and stay warmly in my bed.”
Zhou Haili laughed. She remembered the email she had just sent to President Chang just then. She sighed inside. A girl like her who could endure such hardship, and be ruthless to herself, such a person didn’t need anyone’s care. She could live very well by herself.
She didn’t know what kind of a past President Chang had with Ning Xi. In her opinion, the girl had built a fort for herself that no one could invade.
The weather was getting colder and the snowfall was getting heavier. As the New Year arrived, the entire capital was covered in a thick blanket of snow, giving off a silvery sheen.
The big screen effect of ‘Tán Hǎixiān jì’ was extremely beautiful. Many shots were taken at scenic places and not inside sets. The crew and cast ran around to many places and by the end of the year, they were finally given their leave.
At that moment, the buzz around ‘My Heart Longs for You’ had passed. Although Ning Xi became a goddess in the eyes of a small number of people with the several beautiful shots of hers, not many people actually knew her.
So even if she went to the supermarket to buy her groceries, many people couldn’t help but look at her twice, but no one could recognise her.
Songs for the New Year were being played in the supermarket. Every customer’s face was filled with festive spirit and happiness. Even if the prices of fruits and vegetables had soared as high as the sky, it didn’t stop them from buying more.
Ning Xi squeezed through amongst these people. Picking up what she wanted to buy, she squeezed out of the crowd, standing in the queue for nearly ten minutes before she could go out of the supermarket.
“It’s snowing again?” When she came out, she saw the snow falling outside. She pulled on her hood and stepped on to the snow. She trod cautiously and hadn’t walked very far when she slipped and fell down.
Embarrassment. A top-class embarrassment.
Leaning on the ground with one hand, she tried to get up but the snow was cold, hard and slippery. She slipped again and fell, her hood falling off her head.
She heard someone laugh at her. She looked in the direction of the sound. A car was parked there, and the person sitting in the passenger seat was the one laughing.
He Dongzheng was laughing hard when he found that the object of his amusement was looking at him. He uneasily touched his nose, seeing that the person was actually a beauty. He quickly got out and jogged over to her and helped her up.
“I’m sorry, I just…” He Dongzheng knew that he had behaved impolitely. But seeing her fall twice was really funny.
Ning Xi realised slowly that there was a fiery burn on her palm. She turned her wrist and saw that there was a wound which was bleeding.
“It’s alright.” She bent down to pick her things up. When He Dongzheng saw her, he began helping her with her things. A bottle of soy sauce had, tragically, shattered.
Ning Xi carefully picked up the pieces of the soy sauce bottle and wrapped them in a plastic bag, throwing them into the non-recyclable trash can.
He Dongzheng noticed the wound on her right hand. He picked her hat up from the ground and dusted off the snow from it. “Your hand is hurt, let me send you back.”
“No, my family lives nearby, thank you.” Ning Xi took the hat from his hand and, after thanking him, bent down to pick up her shopping bag.
“He Dongzheng, what are you doing here?”
Ning Xi turned to see a man walking towards them. The wind blew, covering her face with her hair, hiding her expression.
Chen Yijun walked to his close friend and looked at Ning Xi closely before saying, “So it is my fellow alumnus.”He glanced at the ground and was able to roughly guess what had just happened. “The roads are slippery in winter and it’s inconvenient for you to be carrying so many things. Let us send you back.”
“There’s no need.” Ning Xi brushed her hair away, revealing her face and glanced at the pair of men. “Young Master Chen is of such noble status, how can I bother you?”
“What is so precious and noble?” Chen Yijun was taken aback, then laughed. “We are all fellow alumni, there is no need to be polite.”
He Dongzheng looked at Ning Xi and looked at Chen Yijun. “Do you both know each other?”
“We have met,” Chen Yijun smiled. He looked at Ning Xi, behaving very much like a gentleman. “Lady, please.”
Ning Xi looked at him and smiled indifferently, “Has Young Master Chen always been this enthusiastic?”
Human intuition was sensitive and often accurate. Chen Yijun noticed that this woman held a faint hostility towards him. Although she had always been polite and gentle on the surface, through her smile and eyes, she seemed to be saying ‘I don’t like you.’
Although she was beautiful, Chen Yijun who had never been wronged since his childhood was suddenly displeased. He looked at He Dongzheng. “Well, since people don’t appreciate our kindness, let’s go. Beautiful women don’t have any shortage of men to do things for them, anyway.”
A man dressed in a suit ran over to her quickly with a thick coat. “What happened?” He looked behind her and saw He Dongzheng and Chen Yijun. He stood in between them and Ning Xi.
Realising that the man had assumed that they had harmed her, He Dongzheng quickly explained. “We saw this young lady trip and fall, so we came to have a look.”
“Mr Chang?” Chen Yijun was surprised to see the man in front of his fellow alumni. Wasn’t this President Chang?
Ning Xi sniffed. Couldn’t they forget about the tripping and falling? Falling was embarrassing. It wasn’t something to be proud of. She turned to see Chang Shi Gui standing in front of her. She covered her face with embarrassment.
Seeing that the two of them weren’t a danger to her, Chang Shi Gui turned to Ning Xi and saw her unkempt her and stained coat. “Did you get hurt anywhere?”
Ning Xi shook her head, feeling awkward.
Chen Yijun stood there watching the two converse and felt very embarrassed. He had taken the initiative to greet the man, and the other pretended he didn’t exist. What was this if not a shameful thing?
“Hello, Mr Chang. We are the project managers of the Chen company?” He Dongzheng spoke to ease Chen Yijun’s embarrassment. His attitude became even more humble than Chen Yijun’s. Thinking of the project that Chen wanted to cooperate with Chang, he wished he could shove the proposal into Mr Chang’s hands right then.
“Hello.” Chang Shi Gui spotted the wound on Ning Xi’s hand and took the shopping bag from her hand. “There’s a clinic close by, I’ll take you to treat the wound.”
Ning Xi wanted to say no, but when she saw his dark eyes, she felt that she had to give face to this big boss.
“Please wait,” Chen Yijun said, giving Ning Xi weird looks. “What is your name?”
What did Mr Chang call her? Miss Ning?
Ning Xi raised her eyebrows, “Hasn’t anyone told you, Young Master Chen, that it’s very impolite for a man to suddenly ask a woman her name?”
Chen Yijun took a step towards her and asked, “Is your surname… Ning?”
Ning Xi looked at him as if he was mad and turned to Chang Shi Gui. “Thank you, Mr Chang. Let’s go.”
“Alright,” Chang Shi Gui held two heavy bags with one hand and stretched the other out towards Ning Xi, as if, if she slipped again, he would catch her immediately.
He Dongzheng pulled Chen Yijun aside and whispered, “The relationship between the two doesn’t seem simple. Don’t go and provoke her.”
What was the usual lifestyle of businessmen? There was always some gossip about everyone. For example, Chang Shi Gui had never, ever been linked with a woman.
A man who hadn’t been in a female’s company but was now so caring for one woman… he wouldn’t believe that there was no relationship between the two.
If it was simply about him thinking that two men were bullying a woman, he could have asked his driver to come and help out and not personally show up.
“Tell me, she… is it possible that she is our high school classmate, Ning Xi?” Chen Yijun’s voice was small, filled with guilt.
He Dongzheng’s face changed when he heard that name.