The Complete Guide to the Use and Care of a Personal Assistant
First Published on Chaleuria
Ling Miao seemed to have slipped into a state of zen, ignoring everything happening around him. Feng Ji chewed on a cookie, eyes fixed on Ling Miao as if he were a treasure.
Ling Miao blinked and ripples surfaced within his his initially calm gaze, the faint smile on his lips either mocking or frustrated. He took a small sip of the coffee in front of him, smiled, and said: “Yan-jie asked me earlier why I didn’t want to be alone with Su Yuyang. Now, you’re asking me my feelings towards Su Yuyang. Feng Ji, this makes me suspect that both of you are spies Su Yuyang sent.”
Feng Ji had clasped the cookie between two fingers. At Ling Miao’s words the cookie fell to the plate and broke in two. Feng Ji rubbed his nose, his eyes flashing as if in confirmation of Ling Miao’s guesswork.
Ling Miao picked up a cookie and stuffed it in his mouth, saying approvingly: “Tastes good. You baked these?”
Hey, you changed the subject too fast, didn’t you? I can’t follow!
Feng Ji silently complained but his face remained calm. Feng Ji was worried Yan Li’s motive would be exposed, so he chose to keep silent instead. But this silence made Ling Miao even more sure that his suspicions were accurate.
Ling Miao picked up another cookie but didn’t put it in his mouth, instead tapping the plate with it. He didn’t tap very hard, and the sound the biscuit made on contact with the porcelain wasn’t loud, but it was crisp. Feng Ji snatched the cookie from Ling Miao’s hand and tossed it in his mouth, chewed several times, and swallowed.
“It’s nothing, really. Just curious. If you don’t want to say, it’s fine,” Feng Ji said candidly.
Ling Miao’s eyes narrowed, confusion radiating from his narrow eyes. Feng Ji spread his hands, like he’d made a mistake but wasn’t bothering to make amends: “If you don’t believe me, I can’t do anything about that. If you really won’t let it go, then go ask Su Yuyang. I think that if you go and ask, he’ll be happy to answer you.”
Ling Miao smelled a plot in Feng Ji’s words. Feng Ji’s expression hadn’t changed, but there was laughter in his eyes, and Ling Miao concluded that Feng Ji was digging a trap for him to fall into! Since he now knew it was a trap, he certainly wouldn’t jump. He gathered his thoughts and said indifferently: “If he didn’t send you, then he didn’t send you. If I ask Su Yuyang, he might even think I have a victim complex or the like.”
Feng Ji didn’t dare go on chatting with Ling Miao and found an excuse to leave. At the same time, another question presented itself to him: I asked the same question as Yan Li, on a different occasion, and Ling Miao noticed something was up. When did Ling Miao become this streetsmart?
Ling Miao didn’t know of Feng Ji’s worries, and he didn’t think too much about his own affairs either. Right now, he was more worried about Ji Linxi.
Yan Li and Ji Linxi weren’t that close. No matter how he looked at it, there was something deeply wrong with Yan Li asking Ji Linxi to talk alone. As for what the issue was, Ling Miao did have an answer.
Yan Li is interested in Ji Linxi!
Ling Miao had guessed correctly this time. Yan Li did sort of like Ji Linxi.
As Ling Miao kept thinking about it, he let his thoughts run away and started imagining Yan Li and Ji Linxi’s romantic relationship. Just as everything was progressing beautifully, Ling Miao heard a set of disorderly, hurried footsteps.
He glanced over to the source of the sound, Ji Linxi appeared before Ling Miao, looking calm but actually panicking. Ling Miao jeered: “Ji Linxi, is there a tiger chasing you? Why’re you running so fast?”
Ji Linxi smiled slyly. “Not a tiger. Your boss.”
Ling Miao froze. He hid a cough and laughed: “What? I didn’t say anything.”
Ji Linxi sat opposite Ling Miao. Feng Ji walked over and asked: “What would you like?”
Ling Miao wasn’t very used to Feng Ji’s professional tone. He shuddered and felt his gooseflesh rise. Boss Feng, please sweep the gooseflesh off the floor.¹
Feng Ji grabbed the menus and resumed his lackadaisical manner. He slapped the menus on the table and asked lightly: “What would you two handsome lads like?”
Ji Linxi ordered a steak. Ling Miao, not used to Western-style food, ordered coffee and a slice of cake.
“If you don’t like Western food, why did you come here?” Ji Linxi wanted to laugh but couldn’t, so his tone sounded strange. Ling Miao suddenly grew curious about what Ji Linxi and Yan Li had talked about, so he leaned over until his head was in front of Ji Linxi and asked nosily: “What did you two chat about?”
“She asked me if she was scary, and I said no. Then she asked me why I was avoiding her. I said she and I weren’t close, and it was awkward being alone together. She kept asking if I could go see her concert, so I said I had to work overtime at home. She didn’t keep talking, just shoved a ticket into my hands and tried to kiss me in the process—I dodged it.”
Ji Linxi’s tone was even and factual, and he used the simplest words to convey his conversation with Yan Li to Ling Miao. But Ling Miao zoomed in on the last sentence and let out a loud “Wow!” and then was insta-killed by Ji Linxi’s glare.
Ling Miao watched Ji Linxi as if delighting in his frustration, saying with a grin: “She’s definitely interested in you! How many times have you guys met? Ah, Ji Linxi, I find that your luck with both men and women is through the roof!”
Hu Lin had fallen for Ji Linxi at first sight, and although it wasn’t love at first sight with Yan Li, it wasn’t love that grew over time either. Either way, it… it was very enviable! Especially for Ling Miao, who’d lived twenty-two years and had never dated anyone.
Ji Linxi could see Ling Miao’s envy, but he hadn’t wanted this luck with women and men.
Eh… actually, having luck with women wasn’t so bad. As for luck with men… it’d depend on fate, just on fate.
“Yan Li’s someone who takes action.” Feng Ji’s chilly voice came, full of sympathy towards Ji Linxi.
“Fuck, you were eavesdropping?” Ling Miao jumped up and slapped the table as he complained. “Boss Feng, it’s unprofessional to eavesdrop on your customers’ conversations, isn’t it?”
Feng Ji straight up pretended Ling Miao didn’t exist and ignored his words. He looked at Ji Linxi and took the tone of someone who had been there before: “Xiao Li’s one who takes action. She’ll do what she wants to do without thinking twice, just like when she was pursuing Yuyang.” At this point, Feng Ji intentionally slowed down, glancing at Ling Miao out of the corner of his eye. He saw Ling Miao watching him as if listening to gossip.
Feng Ji was somewhat dejected. He sighed and continued: “So, if Xiao Li has feelings for Ji Linxi, what I mean to say is—Ji Linxi had better make preparations for various surprises to occur in his life!”
Ling Miao was disappointed not to hear what he wanted to hear, and said listlessly: “I thought I’d hear some mysterious secret, but… Boss Feng, don’t string people along, alright?”
“This is a secret? All thirty people in our class knew about it.” Feng Ji tossed his head and walked toward another table of customers, showing Ling Miao the view of his carefree back.
“Linxi, don’t be sad.” Ling Miao patted Ji Linxi’s shoulder encouragingly.
Ji Linxi had long recovered his calm and didn’t panic even at Feng Ji’s warning. It was as if it wasn’t him Yan Li was pursuing.
Ling Miao had anticipated Ji Linxi’s calm and had also guessed that Ji Linxi had already formulated a counter-plan, but didn’t know if his tactics would be useful against Yan Li.
Ling Miao prayed that all Ji Linxi’s counter-tactics would be useless!
Ling Miao was enjoying the delicious food in front of him (… are you sure it’s the good food?) when his cellphone suddenly rang. He cursed resentfully, but when he saw his phone’s display screen he put on a smile: “Yan-jie, what are your instructions?”
“Lin-jie is about to get here. Are there a lot of people downstairs?”
“Full house.” Ling Miao said only two words.
Yan Li frustratedly cursed: “Fuck, I shouldn’t have come in!”
“It’s fine if you come down now. Everyone is eating and won’t notice you,” Ling Miao suggested.
Yan Li retorted, “What if I’m discovered? I don’t want rumors flying about me. What’s more, I don’t want my gossip rag boyfriend to be a gay man.” Yan Li’s words weren’t disparaging Feng Ji—she just didn’t want Feng Ji to be misunderstood or to bring Feng Ji or Su Yuyang any unnecessary trouble.
At Yan Li’s stubbornness, Ling Miao had no recourse. He turned and asked Ji Linxi: “Linxi, Yan-jie’s coming down now. What do you think she should do?”
“Walk down.” Ji Linxi’s tone was hard, as if he didn’t want to exert a lot of mental effort on Yan Li’s matters.
Yan Li only heard Ling Miao asking Ji Linxi the question, but not Ji Linxi’s answer, so she asked: “What did Ji Linxi say?”
“Don’t you call him Linxi? Why the change?” Ling Miao asked, pretending to be surprised.
Yan Li grit her teeth. “We’re not that close, so it’s not suitable for us to call each other with names reserved for close friends.”
Ling Miao could hear Yan Li’s dissatisfaction and grievance, so he very wisely didn’t tell Yan Li Ji Linxi’s response. He changed the subject: “Are you hungry? Should I bring something up to you?”
“If you take this long to remember I haven’t eaten, I might already be dead, alright?” Yan Li said in a joking tone.
Ling Miao didn’t respond because he saw a middle-aged woman walk in and head straight for Feng Ji. He seemed to come to a conclusion, and only glanced once at the middle-aged woman before ignoring her.
The woman was Yan Li’s manager, Yang Lin.
She didn’t stay very long. She ordered several sets of takeout, picked them up, then left W&S.
“Hey, you went mute?” Yan Li said irritably.
Ling Miao stammered: “Your manager came in. She chatted with Feng Ji a while then ordered some food to go.”
“Probably asking about me.” Yan Li got even more frustrated and she paced about the room. “When there are fewer people downstairs, give me a phone call.”
Ling Miao hadn’t finished but Yan Li hung up the phone.
Putting his phone back in his pocket, Ling Miao looked at Ji Linxi in boredom. At least, Ling Miao thought he was wearing a bored expression. Ji Linxi panicked under Ling Miao’s gaze and asked unsteadily, “What are you looking at me for?”
“Linxi, if Yan-jie clings onto you and doesn’t let go, what will you do?”
“If Su Yuyang continues to pick on you, what will you do?”
Ji Linxi had kicked the question back to Ling Miao, but Ling Miao didn’t seem to have noticed. He said weakly, “He can try, but I can hide.”
“She can try, but I can hide?” Ji Linxi borrowed Ling Miao’s answer.
The customers in the shop gradually trickled out, leaving W&S emptier than before. At this time, Ling Miao gave Yan Li a phone call.
Having gotten the signal, Yan Li hurried downstairs.
Ling Miao kept staring at the stairs. His heart leapt as he saw Yan Li’s silhouette.
Suddenly, Yan Li said in shock, “Old Su?”