The smell of leather greeted Li Yundong the moment he entered the large office. The room was bright thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows occupying the edge of the office. Directly in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows sat a huge desk, behind which sat a woman with long, dark hair. A golden nameplate sat on the table's front edge, glinting in the brightness of the room. He wondered if that thing was made from real gold.
Li Yundong crossed the expanse of the office with long, purposeful strides. The woman behind the desk had yet to raise her head from a bunch of documents she was reading, but he kept walking until he was standing directly in front of her desk.
Seconds later, when the woman still didn't acknowledge his presence, Li Yundong decided to take a moment to survey the large office instead of making his presence known. A matching leather couch and glass coffee table sat a few feet to his right—now he knew where the smell of leather came from.
The rustling sound of a page being turned brought his attention back to the woman behind the desk. The woman was still completely absorbed in whatever she was reading. Li Yundong took a moment to study his potential boss's appearance: a blouse and a blue blazer; long, dark hair cascaded over her shoulders as she dipped her head to read her documents.
Another page was turned, and then more silence. Li Yundong was starting to feel as though this was a test to see if he'd squirm. The woman clearly knew he was coming in—she answered when he knocked on the door. Which meant that she was ignoring him on purpose. What is this? A test of patience? He smirked. If this was a test, then he could pass it with flying colors. After all, he could stand there for hours on end performing Da Zhoutian and still appear as Zen as a Tibetan monk.
At the end of his tenth Da Zhoutian circuit, the woman finally spoke. "So. You're Li Yundong..."
Li Yundong opened his eyes and regarded the woman briefly. "Yes, I am," he said with a nod. "It's a pleasure, President Yin. And thank you for having me."
President Yin nodded, seemingly impressed with what she'd seen. Well. So far so good.
"Zhou Qin spoke highly of you," President Yin remarked out of nowhere.
Li Yundong took a few seconds to consider his response. In the end, he went with, "Then I must thank her later."
President Yin leaned back against her executive chair. Li Yundong could feel her appraising eyes roaming over his body from head to toe, as though she was trying to make up her mind about whether to hire him based on his appearance alone.
A while later, President Yin smiled. "So—" She was cut off by a knock on her door. There was a flash of irritation in her eyes when she glanced towards the door. The sound of the door opening soon followed. Instead of turning around to see who had just entered, Li Yundong kept his back to the door and his eyes on President Yin. He didn't hear any footsteps, so clearly, the person was still standing at the door.
The look of irritation vanished from President Yin's eyes. "Oh, it's you, Shen Hui!" President Yin smiled. "I'd like to hang out with you, but as you can see, I'm a little busy right now. Why don't I meet you later?"
"Boo... Such a spoilsport, couz!"
President Yin chuckled. "Some of us have jobs, you know?"
The woman named Shen Hui giggled. "Alright, fine. I guess I'll just go find someone else to have fun with and let you get back to your boring job. Ciao!"
The door closed with a click. President Yin chuckled and shook her head. A moment later, she regarded Li Yundong curiously.
"So. How many tours?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"The military. You've served in the armed forces before, right?"
"No, Ma'am. I've never been with the army." Li Yundong studied the woman for a second. "May I ask what gave you that idea?"
President Yin gestured with her hand. "Your comportment, I guess? The way you stand with your shoulders squared and your back straight. The fact that you look fit and healthy. And just now, when my cousin poked her head in, you resisted turning around to look." President Yin steepled her fingers. "That kind of behavior implies focus and willpower. Well, I suppose a soldier would've at least looked to see if the newcomer is a threat."
President Yin collected the sheets of paper into a neat stack before pushing it aside.
President Yin waved at one of the chairs in front of her desk. "Please, have a seat. I apologize for making you wait earlier."
Li Yundong stepped forward. "It's fine, Ma'am," he said, taking a seat. "Was that a test?"
President Yin smirked. "I don't know. You tell me."
Li Yundong smirked back and gave her a nod. "That's all the answer I need, Ma'am."
The smirk on President Yin's face morphed into a genuine smile. "So. Since you're someone recommended to me by Zhou Qin, I'll cut to the chase." Her expression turned serious. "What's your area of expertise? I mean, you didn't send me a resume or a CV, so..."
This was the question he'd been dreading since last night. It wasn't that he didn't want to come prepared. The truth was that he didn't know what to prepare. He couldn't tell the woman that he was good in pitching sales, or that he had a way with words, because those would just be outright lies. In the end, Li Yundong decided that honesty was the best policy in situations like this.
"I know martial arts," Li Yundong began. President Yin's eyebrows rose just a tad. And I'm a goddamn Cultivator who can blow cars away with a punch. He kept that thought to himself. He was pretty sure he would be sent to a psychiatric ward the moment he said that.
F*cking hell. It was so damn hard to remain confident when he was sitting in front of a professional woman—who probably earns enough to feed an army for decades—and all he knew was how to throw punches and kicks. Especially when said professional woman was staring at him like he was nuts. And he wouldn't blame her for thinking that, to be honest—like, who the hell brings up martial arts during a job interview at a real estate firm?
Talk about having his balls completely busted. Li Yundong resisted the urge to squirm in his seat.
Just be honest. Be true to yourself, he told himself. "I'm athletic. I have good reflexes. I can hear and see better than most people." Ha. If only she knew what he was truly capable of.
President Yin nodded. "Do you have experience in accounting?"
Li Yundong shook his head.
"Know anything about finance?"
Li Yundong shook his head again. President Yin was frowning now. F*ck... He was really screwing this up royally. What was Zhou Qin thinking, seriously? A real-estate firm? Come on.
President Yin leaned back in her chair and looked at him in confusion. Then, she smiled. "I see. Give me a moment, please."
She picked up the phone on her desk and pressed a button. "Xiao Jia, come in here for a sec."
Moments later, a young lady entered the office. "What can I do for you, President Yin?"
President Yin, who was already reaching for a stack of papers, gestured at Li Yundong with her free hand. "Escort Mr. Li to Elder Sister Xie. Tell her to assign a task to him."
"Yes, president." Xiao Jia turned towards Li Yundong. "Follow me please, sir?"
Li Yundong glanced at President Yin, who wasn't even looking at him now. He didn't have to be a genius to figure out that this was a dismissal. He stood up from his chair and smiled at Xiao Jia, who he guessed was President Yin's assistant. "Thank you, miss," he said. "And I'm sorry to trouble you."
To her credit, Xiao Jia didn't seem dismissive at all. Instead, she smiled at him politely. "It's no trouble at all."
It's okay, Li Yundong. One setback is nothing, he reminded himself as he watched Xiao Jia make her way towards the door. At least she's assigning a task to me instead of kicking me out… Probably just some menial task that didn't deserve the high pay Zhou Qin had mentioned. Maybe they wanted him as an errand boy.
"Sir?" Xiao Jia's voice shook him out of his reverie. The door was already opened, with Xiao Jia standing at the doorway waiting for him to follow her.
Li Yundong gave President Yin one final glance, then strode towards the door with his head held high.
Li Yundong stood at the elevator lobby and watched the changing numbers above the elevator doors. After a while, he caught Xiao Jia sneaking glances at him, so he gave her a smile.
"I hope the interview went well?" Xiao Jia asked.
Li Yundong groaned inwardly. Great. Small talk. Another thing that he sucked at. He flicked a glance towards the elevator indicator again. The number had stopped at 9. He cleared his throat. "I'm not so sure, to be honest. But I guess it wasn't too bad?" He chuckled wryly. "Otherwise you wouldn't be asked to take me to wherever it is that we're going." The number was increasing again. 15, 16, 17...
"Oh. We're going to look for sister Xie—" A loud ding sounded.
A woman exited the elevator and smiled the moment she noticed Xiao Jia.
"Oh, hey! Xiao Jia!"
Xiao Jia bowed slightly. "Hello, President Cao."
President Cao's eyes landed on him. "Say... Xiao Jia... Is this handsome young man a new employee here?"
Xiao Jia turned and gave Li Yundong a smile. "Yes, President Cao."
"I see..." President Cao drawled. She took a step towards him and held out her hand. "Hi. I'm Cao Kefei, the president of Huasheng Studios. We're an international entertainment company. And we occupy the ninth floor of this building."
Li Yundong took the woman's hand and gave it a firm squeeze. "It's a pleasure, President Cao. I'm Li Yundong." Li Yundong released her hand. "Wait. Huasheng Studios?" He suddenly turned towards Xiao Jia. "I thought this building is owned by Dongsheng Realtors...?"
President Cao chuckled. "Oh, yes it is. But it's also a multi-tenant building." President Cao gave him a wink. "Dongsheng Realtors rent out office spaces to other firms. Our company is one of the lucky ones."
"I see." He didn't think Dongsheng Realtors would just allow any company to use their premises, so Huasheng Studios and Dongsheng Realtors must have some kind of connection. A subsidiary company, maybe? Li Yundong filed that information away.
"Well then. It's a pleasure to meet you, Li Yundong," President Cao said. "Don't let me keep you." President Cao gave him a wave and headed over towards the automatic doors.
Li Yundong followed Xiao Jia into the elevator. Zhou Qin might be wrong about him being a good fit in this place, but she was right about one thing—this building was teeming with beautiful women.
"Hey! I'm back again!"
At the sound of the familiar voice, Yin Mengfan raised her head from the pile of documents she'd been studiously going through. Her friend Cao Kefei was sauntering towards her desk like she owned the entire floor. Yin Mengfan sighed. "What is it again this time?"
Cao Kefei smiled and plopped down in the chair that Li Yundong had vacated minutes earlier. "Oh. I just remembered that there are a bunch of heavy luggage that require moving in my office..."
Yin Mengfan raised her brows. "So?"
Cao Kefei's smile widened a tad. "So... I thought I'd come up here and see if I could tap into your firm's abundant human resources."
Yin Mengfan narrowed her eyes at her friend. "You do know that most of my employees are female, right?"
"Oh, come on... You have a few guys to spare. I know you have. Can't you help out a friend in need?" Cao Kefei whined. "Besides, it's not like I won't return them to you. Their limbs will be fully intact when I'm done with them. I promise!"
Yin Mengfan burst into laughter. "What do you mean by when you're done with them. It sounded like you need them for something other than moving luggage!"
"Well, a girl doesn't kiss and tell." Cao Kefei batted her lashes.
Yin Mengfan chuckled. "Cut the crap already. I'm busy. What do you really want?"
Cao Kefei gave her an innocent look. "I just told you, didn't I?"
Yin Mengfan rolled her eyes. "As if I'm gonna buy that manual labor crap. If you really need manual labor, all you have to do is show your face around and bat those long eyelashes of yours. Do that, and you'll have every straight guy in this building eating out of your palm."
Cao Kefei shrugged. "Oops." Then, she gave Yin Mengfan a fawning smile. "As expected from the great President Yin of Dongsheng Realtors. You're as sharp as ever."
Yin Mengfan laughed. "Stop trying to butter me up. It won't work. So. Who is it? Which one of my employees are you planning to steal?"
Cao Kefei smiled. Hmm… How about the handsome young man who just walked out of your office."
Yin Mengfan stiffened. "Li Yundong?" She stared at Cao Kefei, who was nodding back at her.
"Yep. That's the guy."
Yin Mengfan shook her head firmly. "Oh, no, no, no... He's off-limits!"
Cao Kefei's eyes narrowed as she studied Yin Mengfan's expression. Yin Mengfan tried her best not to squirm in her chair. "Gee... What's got your panties in a bunch, huh?" Cao Kefei said. "Ooh... Don't tell me... You and him...?"
Yin Mengfan threw a paper clip at her friend and shot her a glare. "Tsk! Stop that. A friend of mind recommended him to me. So don't get any wrong ideas. And no. You're not allowed to fool around with him either."
Cao Kefei snorted. "Fool around? Who says I'm gonna do anything to him? Sheesh!"
"Uh-huh..." Yin Mengfan said, reaching for her coffee cup.
"Besides... I'm pretty sure he's gay," Cao Kefei said.
Yin Mengfan nearly spat out her coffee. She coughed, then set down her cup. "What on earth gave you that idea?"
Cao Kefei leaned back in her chair and stared up at the ceiling. "Well, for one, he's immune to my charms..."
Yin Mengfan threw another paper clip at her. "What?! You flirted with him already? Good God, you sure move fast."
Cao Kefei snorted. "Yeah well, I tried to anyway," she muttered. "Not that it worked."
Yin Mengfan laughed. "And you think he's gay just because of your flirting didn't work? C'mon. That's so vain."
Cao Kefei glared at her. "Tsk! You weren't there, so you don't understand."
Yin Mengfan leaned back in her chair. "Alright, fine. What'd you do?"
Cao Kefei leaned forward in her chair. "I caressed him with my pinkie when we shook hands. Not just a simple caress. I stroked his palm. And then after that I even winked at him. And guess what? He didn't show a single reaction! Not even a blush! God, he's like a wooden block!"
Admittedly, that revelation surprised Yin Mengfan a little. Never had she encountered any straight man capable of resisting Cao Kefei's charms. Maybe Li Yundong really was gay? Wait. No. Zhou Qin did mention something about him having a girlfriend the other night when she called.
"... What's that guy's problem, seriously," Cao Kefei finished her rant, then arched her brow. "So. Is he gay?"
Yin Mengfan smiled. "No. I don't think he's gay. He's already seeing someone. And..." Yin Mengfan shot her friend a warning look. "I'm pretty sure Zhou Qin is interested in him too."
Cao Kefei's face fell. "Man... That sucks..." Suddenly, she looked up at Yin Mengfan. "But I still wanna borrow him."
Yin Mengfan studied her friend for a moment, then smiled. "Sure. I'll call Xiao Jia later and ask her to bring him to you."
Cao Kefei looked at her in surprise. "What? Just like that? No threats of lawsuits or bodily harm?"
Yin Mengfan smiled. "Nope."
"What, so you're not afraid I'm gonna drag him into the bathroom and have my way with him?"
Yin Mengfan burst into laughter. "Stop goofing around already, okay?" Yin Mengfan's expression turned sober. "Besides, you know you're not allowed to engage in strenuous activity yet. How's your body anyway? Those rioters from a while back must have driven you up a wall with their protests, right?"
Cao Kefei smiled and stood up. "I'm fine. But thank you for your concern. I'm much better now. I'm even allowed to stop taking my meds now. But yeah, the rioters were pretty bad... Anyway! Call Xiao Jia! Ask her to bring Mr. Hottie to my floor." Cao Kefei walked away and paused at the door to send her a few flying kisses.
Yin Mengfan chuckled at her friend's antics and shook her head.
Moments after, when Yin Mengfan ended her phone call with Xiao Jia, her door burst open again.
"What the hell is that pervert doing here, couz!"
Yin Mengfan leaned back in her chair and rubbed her temples. "Geez... Not so loud, please. And what are you even talking about Shen Hui? What pervert?"
Shen Hui plopped down on the chair in front of her desk and started shouting like crazy. God, she really needed another cup of coffee. Seconds later, Yin Mengfan held up her hand. "Alright! Slow down! Stop acting like a drama queen and tell me what the problem is."
Shen Hui huffed. "That guy you were interviewing! He's a pervert! A molester!"
"What?" Yin Mengfan's eyes widened. "Are you sure?"
But Zhou Qin spoke so highly of him…
Shen Hui's face flushed in anger. "He's the one who molested me at Uniqlo! He barged into my changing room when I was half naked and tried to touch my... my... my boobs!"
Yin Mengfan gaped at her cousin. "Seriously? Do you have proof?"
Shen Hui growled. "Of course I'm serious! I don't care! You have to fire him! He can't stay here unless you want every female employee here to be violated by him."
Yin Mengfan rested her elbows on her desk and steepled her fingers. Was Zhou Qin wrong about him? Had Zhou Qin misjudged Li Yundong's character?
"C'mon couz! What's there to think about? Just fire him—"
The door of the office burst open again. A breathless and pale-faced employee ran in. Yin Mengfan knew instantly that something was up. She rose from her executive chair. "What's the matter?"
"There's trouble, President Yin..." the employee said breathlessly. "There's trouble on the 9th floor."