First Published on Chaleuria
18.1 – Have You Fallen For Someone
Lin Zedong’s speech wasn’t anything new; he just thanked everyone for taking time out of their busy schedule to attend the banquet. Yao Yuan stood at the fringes, looking at the man in radiant clothes smiling falsely at the crowd, but all he thought about was his father’s terrible death. He couldn’t hold back a sneer. Did all people of the upper echelons disregard the weight of other people’s lives?
Amid the audience’s applause, Lin Zedong announced the beginning of the dance. Pairs of young men and women stepped onto the dance floor and began to waltz. Yao Yuan looked at Su Mu and Yang Weiyu embracing, smiling as they gazed at each other, and felt inexplicably annoyed. He shifted his eyes away from them and started to carry out his duties as a reporter.
Yao Yuan weaved through the banquet hall, striking up conversations with entrepreneurs, both local and visiting, asking about their recent plans and inviting them to discuss the current economic downturn. He even started chatting with Lu Yunbo about the collaboration with the Lin Group. But even as he conversed, his gaze involuntarily followed a certain person. He saw Su Mu invited by many ladies to dance, and he saw him wearing a false smile as he mingled comfortably with the business elite. Despondent, he found that Su Mu didn’t look for him in the crowd at all. Even when he had a moment of respite, he did not come to chat about old times. Such chilly treatment made Yao Yuan more and more annoyed. He wanted to catch hold of Su Mu and ask him why he became this way, and what place Yao Yuan held in his heart. The kiss—he still didn’t know whether it was a dream or reality—surfaced again in his mind, and he suddenly understood that his feelings for Su Mu had long developed past those of just a good friend. This discovery left him even more frustrated. His chest felt tight to the point he felt he couldn’t breathe. He reached up and pulled the tie from his neck, then walked to the balcony to one side. Right now, he needed a cigarette. No, one wasn’t enough. He needed to think properly about all the things he had overlooked.
Su Mu had been watching Yao Yuan’s movements. After all, Lin Zedong was very likely Yao Yuan’s enemy and Yao Yuan wasn’t accustomed to hiding himself. Su Mu was worried he would lose control of himself, which would only put him in more danger. He saw Yao Yuan weaving through the crowd, doing a reporter’s duty. With his ease and familiarity, he didn’t look like an amateur who had only been interning for two months. Su Mu saw many ladies had their eyes on him, and they even asked about Yao Yuan while dancing with him. Su Mu smiled and answered their questions one by one, but he grew more and more frustrated. The kiss from that night surfaced again and again in his mind, and he couldn’t dismiss it no matter how he tried. He could clearly recall the feelings which had seemed to drown him then. He gracefully rejected further dance invitations and sat in the corner to rest, holding back the impulse to go to Yao Yuan’s side. Now he watched Yao Yuan pull off his tie and walk towards the balcony. Su Mu closed his eyes, intending to rest quietly for a while. But the intoxicating images continued to torment him, until he noticed someone draw close. His eyes flew open. When he saw the person in front of him he gave a habitual sneer.
“Su Mu, I advise you to give up on the collaboration with the Lin Group. You can’t beat me.” Lu Yunbo held a glass of red wine and looked down on him from above.
Su Mu stood up and met his gaze without backing down. “How are you so confident?”
“Don’t forget, back then, even your brother lost to me.” Lu Yunbo stared at him with a gaze as sharp, solitary and arrogant as a falcon’s.
“Don’t mention my brother, Lu Yunbo. It’s been so many years. Why did you have to keep provoking him? All right. You’ve forced him to leave S City and now none of us can find him. Are you happy now?” Su Mu said in a low voice. That’s right, he could no longer find his brother. It had been two months and he hadn’t heard anything from him. He had passed the bar into Jiang Luo’s management and left without a word.
“Forced?” Lu Yunbo sneered. “If one of us forced the other, it was he who forced me.”
“You…” Su Mu did not wish to keep fighting over the matter with him. “Lu Yunbo, remember this. No matter what I have to do, I’ll win this and get revenge for my brother.”
Looking at Su Mu’s departing figure, a deep sadness flashed through Lu Yunbo’s eyes. Even your brother doesn’t know where you are, Yan? Where are you? Why did you run away again? What don’t I know?
“Yunbo…” Xia Haocen saw the state his friend was in, knew he was thinking about Su Yan again, and lightly patted his shoulder to comfort him.
“I’m fine.” Lu Yunbo concealed the emotions in his eyes and was once again the falcon of the business arena.
“Yunbo-ge, dance with me.” Xia Haocen’s young sister, Xia Yucen, took his hand and leaned into Yunbo’s arms. Yunbo couldn’t say no to the girl he had considered a younger sister since they were children, and gently wrapped a hand around her waist and led her to the dance floor.
That was the congenial sight Su Mu saw when he glanced back. Again, he felt aggrieved for his brother. He didn’t understand how his brother was willing to give up so much for such a person. In frustration, he pushed open the door to the balcony and, as expected, he saw Yao Yuan leaning against the wall and smoking. He walked to his side and, like he had always done, snatched the cigarette from his mouth and put it to his own lips, taking two long drags.