First Published on Chaleuria
16.2 – There Is A Kind of Love That Leaves People Exhausted
After returning to G City, Yao Yuan looked through the TV station’s archives for footage from that year. When the Lin Group’s accountant jumped from the company building’s highest floor it had sent shockwaves through G City’s business world, and naturally the TV station had recordings of it. Yao Yuan found the videotape, brought it home, and carefully looked through it. On the recording, the CEO of Lin Group, Lin Zedong, said with a sorrowful expression, “That’s right. Our company was going to reduce our workforce next month and Yao Pan was on the list of employees to be laid off. We didn’t expect that he would take it so badly. For this, we are very regretful.”
Yao Yuan leaned against the sofa, remembering his father’s funeral. Lin Zedong had brought some people to offer incense, his expression grave and mournful while a large crowd of reporters followed behind him. At the time, Yao Yuan had still been grateful to this rich man—after all, the Lin Group had taken care of all the funeral proceedings. But thinking back on it now, they had only been putting on a show. His father had taken the account books elsewhere beforehand, likely in anticipation of the danger they posed. But too much time had passed and Yao Yuan couldn’t find any evidence at all. He had thought about handing the account book to the police, but too many people were involved. Some remained here while others had been transferred away. Yao Yuan didn’t want to alert them.
Yao Yuan got up, turned off the television, and went to make himself something to eat when his phone rang. It was his colleague at the station, Zhang Yao. He pressed the answer button and Zhang Yao’s voice sounded immediately. “Yao Yuan, where are you?”
“At home. What’s the matter? Aren’t you at Lin Zedong’s birthday dinner doing an interview?”
“That’s actually what I’m calling about. Old Qiao suddenly fell sick, and between the interview and the recording, I can’t do it alone. Are you free now?”
“I…” Yao Yuan hesitated. He couldn’t be sure if, after so many years, Lin Zedong still remembered past events. If Yao Yuan were to see him now…
“What, do you have a date with your girlfriend?”
“Yao-ge, you’re joking with me. I don’t have a girlfriend.” Never mind; he wouldn’t be able to enter the innermost area anyway, and with so many reporters outside, Lin Zedong would have no reason to notice him. “The Lin Group’s Liyao Hotel, right?”
Yao Yuan hung up the phone, leisurely picked a casual outfit, then called a taxi and headed straight for the Liyao Hotel.
The Liyao Hotel was prime real estate in the city center. The luxurious, grand exterior made passersby reflexively stop and take a second look. When Yao Yuan arrived, the Liyao Hotel’s main hall was already packed with a large crowd of reporters here to conduct interviews during the dinner event. But they were all jammed into the outer hall and only several reporters known to the Lin Group could enter the inner hall. Yao Yuan saw Zhang Yao wave to him from the crowd. He quickly walked towards him and took the camera from his hand.
“Are any big names coming?”
“The banquet starts at 8 p.m., and it’s just past 7 p.m. now. so not yet.” Zhang Yao had done his rounds in the finance world and was as familiar with the habits of the rich as he was with the back of his hand.
“Then what did you come so early for?”
“To get a good spot.”
They stood in the crowd, chatting and looking around, occasionally discussing the wealthy elites who would attend the banquet later. Lin Zedong’s fiftieth birthday had, of course, attracted many elites of the business world: smaller second- and third-rate companies wanted to take the chance to schmooze, and even the large top-tier corporations sent representatives to deliver well-wishes.
“If someone throws a bomb later…”
“You’re the classic picture of jealousy.” Yao Yuan quickly cut Zhang Yao off.
“No, I just hate the rich.”
They burst out laughing. Just then, there was a disturbance in the crowd and the reporters rushed to the door. They glanced at each other and squeezed into the crowd. Attendants held the hotel doors open as a man in black formalwear walked in with a beautiful woman at his side.
Yao Yuan looked at the cold, arrogant smile and froze slightly. “Lu Yunbo…”
“Yes, Lu Yunbo, the CEO of S City’s Lu Group. At such a young age, he’s already so rich.” Zhang Yao sighed and quickly squeezed to the front of the crowd. He held out a microphone as he asked, “Mr. Lu, today are you here simply to take part in the celebration or to discuss a cooperation with the Lin Group?”
“No comment. Please, give way.” His assistant opened a path ahead of him and Lu Yunbo did not speak a word from beginning to end. When his gaze swept over Yao Yuan, he paused for a moment. He had an eidetic memory and he still remembered the man who had been by Su Mu’s side.
When Lu Yunbo entered the inner hall, Zhang Yao asked Yao Yuan, “You know him?” Lu Yunbo’s look from just now hadn’t escaped his eyes. “That’s great. Ask him to let you in. You might even get an exclusive interview.”
“Tcheh! How would I know such a rich man?” Without warning, a warm face surfaced in Yao Yuan’s mind. Would he come? They hadn’t seen each other in two months. At first, there had been several phone calls, which had gradually slowed. Su Mu seemed to always be busy, and even when he was on the phone, he was always dealing with something. Yao Yuan was always the one to hang up helplessly. He knew they belonged to different worlds, but he hadn’t imagined that the distance between them would be so great. Would Su Mu come tonight? The notion stuck in Yao Yuan’s mind and would not leave. It surprised Yao Yuan how much he missed Su Mu. This was different from his worry for Zhang Chen, and different from how he missed his sister. It was a feeling even he could not describe; he just wanted to see Su Mu and look at his face properly.
“Yao Yuan, what are you waiting for? Go for it!”
Zhang Yao broke his train of thought. Yao Yuan smiled and rushed forward with the crowd.
At half past seven, more and more business elites appeared before them and the reporters had no more time to laugh and chat. They surrounded the bigshots and asked them what their intentions were, aside from delivering well-wishes. Those who had experienced the crests and waves in the business world understood how to answer the reporters’ questions: they muddled through without going into detail, and no one leaked any truly important information.
Close to 8 p.m., the hotel’s big hall started to quiet down and the reporters had time to chat amongst themselves again. Someone started drafting their article on their laptop and started editing their photos and recordings.
“Yao Yuan, I left my notebook in the car.”
“Give me the car keys. I’ll go get them.”
Yao Yuan took the car keys Zhang Yao handed over, walked through the hotel’s front doors and down the long stairs in front of the Liyao Hotel’s entrance. Just then, a black Mercedes-Benz stopped in front of him.