TLP Chapter 2: The CEO (2)

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*** = Scene change
***** = Timeskip

I’m here to curry favor with you~

The ringing of the doorbell wrenched Qingruo out of her oscitancy1. She started to stand, but Feng Qi rose first and walked to the door.

The words “Greetings, Miss Song” caught in Chu Yang’s throat when he found himself facing his boss instead. However, he recovered quickly, swallowing back his surprise before plastering on a smile.

Boss2.

“Mhm.” Feng Qi nodded and let him in.

A crease appeared in the space between Feng Qi’s brows when he saw the selection of shoes in the shoe cabinet near the door, but after giving a quick glance to the blue floral slippers on his own feet, he figured that there were probably no slippers that would fit Chu Yang anyway.

“Greetings, Miss Song.”

“Greetings, Assistant Chu Yang.”

Chu Yang passed Feng Qi a bag, which he took with him to the guest room. When he finished changing and was pulling on a new pair of socks, Feng Qi once again recalled the white ones that were currently fluttering windward on the balcony.

He held up the cotton t-shirt he had deposited on the bed and examined it. Although it was wide, he had a feeling that it belonged to the little starlet.

It was obvious that he was leaving, so the instant he stepped out of the room, Qingruo smiled at him and asked, “I’ll fold up the clothes for you to take back?”

The man shook his head and tilted his head back slightly to adjust his necktie.

“Keep it.” He could afford to lose some clothes.

As a way of response, Qingruo smiled again, her eyes curving into two crescents. She accompanied Feng Qi and Chu Yang to the door and —very gently— bid them farewell. The former returned her gesture with a small nod, while his assistant smiled back and said, “Goodbye, Miss Song.”

***

Chu Yang had driven his own car over. As he started up the engine, he asked, “Boss, where do you want to eat?”

“I’ve already eaten.”

After a moment of surprise, Chu Yang grinned. “Was the food to your liking?”

He had been following Feng Qi since the founding of the man’s company, serving as both his assistant and a shareholder, as well as a friend.

The corners of Feng Qi’s lips turned up. He didn’t bother answering and instead ordered, “Find a role for her.”

Chu Yang understood—yes, the food was to his taste.

Then, he heard him continue, “Find a large film, preferably a leading female role or a secondary role. The Feng Company may choose to invest in it. The filming site can’t be local.”

Through the rearview mirror, Chu Yang could see that Feng Qi was looking down at the day’s financial magazine with not a flicker of emotion in his eyes.

The first two sentences revealed Feng Qi’s obvious satisfaction with the meal, but the last part confused Chu Yang. However, since he was only responsible for carrying out the orders, he didn’t dwell on it.

There were no entertainment companies under the Feng Company’s banner, but the Feng Company owned a number of controlling interests3 in various entertainment companies and held superiority in the IT industry. Therefore, with just a single word, Feng Qi could instantly revert a script with an established cast back to its original draft and auditions stage.

It was one o’clock when they arrived at the company. Feng Qi’s afternoon meeting wasn’t until another hour and a half, and Chu Yang’s assistant managed to report back before then.

There were ten productions, all of them boosted by famous directors, to be shot at different non-local filming sites. The leading female role could be given as long as the Feng Company agreed to be an investor.

Chu Yang handed Feng Qi the list, but he ignored it and instead told him to contact the starlet’s agent and tell her to choose for herself.

This time, Chu Yang was really surprised. He stood by Feng Qi’s desk, dumbfounded. Suddenly, the man lifted his sharp gaze from the stack of papers on his desk and asked, “By the way, what is she called again? Song something?”

“…” Boss, how exactly did you convince her to spend the night4 with you?

Chu Yang let out a long sigh before responding, “Song Qingruo.”

“Okay.” Feng Qi nodded. He didn’t think there was anything wrong with him not knowing her name.

“Go check who she’s been with before.”

For once, he was treating a deal5 seriously. Chu Yang shot a glance at the man who had already ducked his head and resumed working.

“Yes.”

The number of people Feng Qi had kept was not small, but this was the first time he asked Chu Yang to check who the girl had been with previously.

Afterward, Feng Qi left for his meeting. It was one of the company’s quarterly report meetings, and since there would be other assistants present, a special assistant like Chu Yang wasn’t required to attend.

By the time the meeting ended, Chu Yang had already sent Qingruo’s agent the scripts and other information. Simultaneously, he dug up a report on how Qingruo had been faring since her debut.

“The scripts have been sent, but the agent hasn’t responded yet. Song Qingruo, debuted five years ago and has only ever played supporting roles. She gained some initial popularity due to her good looks but was later deemed a flower vase because of her poor acting skills. Since she hasn’t acted in any good productions, she fell to the tepid state she’s in now.”

Feng Qi leaned back in his office chair, loosened his necktie, and raised his eyes to look at Chu Yang. His lack of response prompted Chu Yang to continue, “Her agent told me that this is Miss Song’s first time agreeing to ingratiate herself with someone.”

For some reason, the corners of Feng Qi’s lips hooked up, eliciting a look of confusion from Chu Yang, who once again dismissed it. After all, his boss indulged in playthings left and right, and when he was interested, he would treat them with the utmost care; therefore, his behavior now wasn’t anything unordinary.

***

Qingruo’s agent was a bearded uncle in his forties. All six of the artists under him were neither popular nor unpopular, just like Qingruo. The uncle was a fairly resilient man but faced with ten different scripts to choose from, even he was a little flustered.

After casually flipping through them, Qingruo picked one and handed it to Yang Peng. She put the rest on the table.

“You want to star in this one?” Yang Peng came from the northeastern region, so he had a loud voice.

Qingruo shook her head. “Give it to Lingling. She’s more suitable for the role, and it’s a good opportunity. I’ll take her spot as an honored guest for that culinary show she was going to participate in.”

Comparing the movie role to the honored guest spot would be like comparing the heavens to the earth. The show was local but also known to be very biased. Not to mention, its place in the broadcasting schedule was definitely less than ideal. In other words, it was a show that only the bored elderly would watch.

Yang Peng frowned. “Hah? Sister Qingruo, I’m not trying to scold you, but this opportunity is hard to come by. You want to waste this pretty face of yours, is that it?”

“I’m not good at acting. Lingling is younger than me, and she’s a better actress too. She is much more suitable for this role,” Qingruo explained sincerely with a clear gaze.

But weren’t you the one who earned this role? Yang Peng tried to dissuade her, but to no avail. In the end, he talked to Lingling, who agreed elatedly.

***

It wasn’t until half a month later that Qingruo’s agent finally contacted Chu Yang, who immediately reported to Feng Qi.

Boss, Miss Song chose…” He wanted to continue but was swiftly cut off by Feng Qi.

“I know.”

Noticing that he was in a bad mood, Chu Yang didn’t try to continue. Just then, his secretary reported, “President Feng, a woman going by ‘Miss Song’ is looking for you.”

Not everyone who wanted to see President Feng was allowed to see him. If they were, then the president’s lounge would be packed to the brim every day. But half a month ago when Chu Yang was hunting for scripts, several secretaries and assistants had learned of the relationship between Feng Qi and Song Qingruo, and that was why this particular secretary decided to report Miss Song’s visit.

Feng Qi furrowed his brows and said in a slightly low voice, “Let her in.”

“Yes, President Feng.”

‘Applied makeup today.’ When he saw her walk in, he appraised her as he would a material good.

Qingruo gave him a smile and thanked his secretary for bringing in coffee.

“Why did you come here?” He neither rose from his chair nor gestured for her to sit down, so she remained standing as she lifted an arm and waggled the small bag she was holding in her hand.

”I’m here to curry favor with you~ With these biscuits I made myself.”

“I don’t like sweets.”

“Ah,” Qingruo acknowledged, her bright eyes dimming briefly.

Feng Qi asked in a low voice, “Back from filming?”

“I didn’t go. I switched with Lingling and went to guest on a culinary show,” she responded with a smile.

A frown appeared on his face before he rose to his feet and led her to take a seat on a nearby sofa. He lit a cigarette and narrowed his eyes, watching her through the hazy cigarette smoke. She took a box out of her bag.

“Why do you want to curry favor with me?”

Qingruo responded, her tone light with a trace of a smile, “Right now, aren’t you my money tree?”

That coaxed a small smile from him. He liked smart people, as they were straightforward and easy to get along with. Shifting the cigarette over to a corner of his lips, he bent down and picked her box off the table.

Removing the lid, he found an arrangement of finely made biscuits inside. Although Feng Qi wasn’t lying when he said that he disliked sweets, he reached into the box anyway and pinched off a piece of a biscuit, feeling the distinct warmth of a fresh confection beneath his fingertips as he did, and put it in his mouth.

“Not bad.”

“Right? The judges said so too,” she blurted and immediately bit down on her bottom lip, looking at him embarrassedly.

He glanced at her with a shadow of a smile on his face and teased, “Oh? Using leftovers from the program to curry favor with me?”

“No,” Qingruo chewed on her bottom lip, her shiny doe eyes looking at him as though she had been wronged. “I didn’t have enough ingredients at home, so I made extra at the culinary show. But I made them with you in mind.”

After putting out his cigarette, Feng Qi stood up and moved to stand in front of her. Leaning down, he slid an arm behind her, brushing past her shoulders before coming to a rest against the back of the sofa. He gazed down at her and reached for her face with his free hand. His fingers smelled of cigarette smoke as he clasped her chin and forced her to lift her head.

Feng Qi licked the corner of his lips. When he was sitting behind his desk, the black suit he was wearing had given him a cold and domineering aura. At the moment, he was leaning over her with a slight smile in his dark eyes and a tiny arch to his lips, giving off a restrained yet sensual allure.

“I’ll take you out to play tonight, hm?”

Qingruo nodded like a little pecking chick6, drew away from his finger, and ducked her head, avoiding his gaze. Her behavior was similar to a turtle shrinking back into its shell, which amused him. Patting her head, he let the soft sensation of her hair deepen his smile.

He’d thought that she had gone away to shoot for a film. He had not seen her once over the past two weeks, so he would be lying if he said that he wasn’t at least a little happy about her unexpected visit. Whether it was because he liked her explanation about homesickness or her cleverness in general, none of that mattered.

If she really had gone to shoot a film, then their deal probably would’ve came to a hasty end after her return.

Now, he was admittedly in a good mood and finished two whole biscuits. That was when he suddenly remembered the corn porridge she cooked for him before.

“Make corn porridge tonight.”

“Okay.”

***

Once again, he was standing before her shoe rack, except this time, there was a pair of light grey slippers on one of the shelves. He tried them on and found that they fit perfectly.

The pair of slippers wasn’t the only new addition. In the bookshelf beside her sofa, he saw a few books about finance, and they were all recently published too. Half a month ago, the bookshelf didn’t contain these books.

A mere forty minutes later, Qingruo finished cooking four dishes and a pot of soup. In his opinion, her culinary skills had already reached the pinnacle.

When she turned around, holding the dishes in both of her hands, she noticed that Feng Qi was watching her from the kitchen threshold. She wondered how long he had been standing there.

“Watching you cook is a joy to behold,” he praised sincerely.

“Thank you.” She smiled slightly.

She only gave him a small bowl of corn porridge, indicating that he should eat more rice instead, and for once, he didn’t mind that someone else was telling him what to do. He complied.

After the meal, since they were going out, Qingruo went back to her room to change and put on makeup while Feng Qi waited for her in the living room.

He had prepared to have to wait for at least an hour, but contrary to his expectations, she finished getting ready within a short thirty minutes.

She had changed into a high-waisted, peachy red skirt that accentuated her slender waist. A sliver of her torso was visible, and his eyes filled with appreciation as he watched her near.

***

Feng Qi and his notorious group of friends had arranged for a meetup. Those friends were all rich young masters, not business tycoons like him, and every one of them had brought along their own pets.

The atmosphere was lively, as everyone was laughing and playing around.


“Money tree.”

I like this nickname.

But I like this clever little fellow more.

—【Black Box】


VIN: The CEO is an arc where the ML is a playboy simply because he’s bored and not unrealistic enough to believe in the notion of keeping himself pure for his “true love”. It’s also one of the sweetest arcs in this novel. The story doesn’t really pick up until around halfway into the arc when he finally disperses the doubt he feels toward the FL and accepts that she’s Da One. But don’t worry, he keeps himself pretty chaste from here on. This arc is relatively drama-free.

RELEASE SCHEDULE: One arc every month.


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