Li Yundong started to panic the moment Su Chan's sobs turned into full-blown wails. He looked towards Zhou Qin and the others for help. Alas, the others, even though they were all women, looked about as shocked and clueless as he was.
Li Yundong shook himself out of his daze and cleared his throat. "Um... Do you guys mind giving us a moment?"
The women glanced at each other.
A moment later, Zhou Qin smiled. "Sure. Take your time."
Li Yundong gave her a grateful nod, then carried Su Chan off the bed towards the bathroom.
He came to a halt just outside the bathroom door. He turned around. "Please. Sit anywhere you like," he said to the women. "Oh, and um… there are some drinks in the fridge. So you can help yourself to them if you want."
"O- Okay..." Feng Na answered.
An awkward silence ensued. Li Yundong cleared his throat again. "Well. Make yourself at home. I won't be long." He carried Su Chan in the bathroom, then used his foot to close the lid of the toilet.
After that, he placed Su Chan on top of the lid and started drying her tears with his palms.
"Hey... It's okay now," Li Yundong said with a low tone.
Much to Li Yundong's horror, Su Chan wrapped her arms around Li Yundong and started bawling loudly instead of calming down.
Li Yundong felt as though someone had stabbed a dagger through his heart. His hand rose instinctively and stroked along Su Chan's spine.
"Shen Hui! Where are you going?!" President Yin's muffled voice startled Li Yundong. Seconds later, he heard the sound of the front door being opened, followed closely by a loud slam. Li Yundong turned away from the bathroom door and went back to comforting Su Chan, whose sobs had turned into gentle snivels.
Someone opened the front door again. A moment later, the door closed, but at least it was closed gently this time.
Li Yundong lowered his gaze and hooked a strand of Su Chan's hair behind her ear.
"Hey..." he said gently.
Su Chan looked up at him with teary eyes.
"Ready to talk now?"
Su Chan sniffed twice, then nodded.
"Why did you say I failed the Zhuji phase? But I clearly remember you telling me that I passed..."
"T- That was just an illusion, Yundong..." Su Chan suddenly looked away and released a choked sob.
Disappointment coursed through Li Yundong. He lowered his gaze and stared at the bathroom's ceramic tiles for a moment. Suddenly, he lifted his gaze again.
"Wait... How come I'm still..." Li Yundong raised his hands and studied them. "How come I didn't lose my soul?"
"You almost did..." Su Chan said. "I kept trying to bring you out of your Spirit Space." She sniffed. "I actually passed out a few times."
Li Yundong's eyes nearly bugged out. "What? You passed out?"
Su Chan nodded. "Your Qi is too powerful..." Su Chan glanced towards the bathroom door. "Thank God Zhou Qin arrived..."
Li Yundong frowned and followed Su Chan's gaze. Zhou Qin? Did she do something?
"Aren't you devastated at all, Yundong?" Su Chan's voice brought him out of his thoughts.
Li Yundong looked towards Su Chan and smiled. "It's okay, princess. I have another chance, right?" Li Yundong clapped his hands together. "What is it that the great ancient scholars said? Ah! Failure is the mother of success!" Li Yundong wagged his brows. "Although I sometimes wonder which guy did Failure go to bed with… Must be one hell of a night if it led to the birth of success."
Su Chan burst into giggles and slapped Li Yundong's arm. "Shut up! I- It's not funny...!"
"Then why are you laughing?" Li Yundong tickled Su Chan's neck.
"Kyaaa! Stop!" Su Chan tried to run, but then Li Yundong held her tighter. "Kyaa! Stop—"
Li Yundong kissed her. Su Chan stopped struggling and kissed him back. A minute later, they parted for air, their foreheads touching each other. "Yundong..." Su Chan's breath tickled his lips. "I'm sorry..."
Li Yundong trailed a finger down her cheek. "Whatever for?"
"For causing you to fail..." Su Chan lowered her gaze.
Li Yundong was having none of that. He hooked a finger under her chin and lifted her head. "Don't say that... I failed because of my own shortcomings. It wasn't your fault."
Su Chan shook her head. "B- But you were having sexual thoughts because of me... That's the illusion that nearly made you lose your soul."
Li Yundong thought back to that moment when Su Chan "told" him that he had passed the Zhuji phase. And then after that, he had unleashed all his carnal desires onto Su Chan.
None of that had been real. Every single one of those moments was an illusion. A lapse. A moment of weakness. At the end of the day, that was really what it all boiled down to, wasn't it? His weakness. His mind was too weak. He had to get stronger. For his own sake. For Su Chan's sake.
Li Yundong cupped Su Chan's cheeks with both hands and kissed her on the lips. When he pulled back, he stared deep into Su Chan's eyes, conveying every ounce of the resolve he felt through his eyes.
"I'll work harder," Li Yundong said firmly. "I'll make it the next time."
Su Chan nodded. "Mmm!"
Li Yundong smiled, then turned towards the door. "Now we've got some explaining to do."
Four heads turned the moment Li Yundong stepped out of the bathroom. Feng Na, Cheng Cheng, and Zhou Qin had all taken seats on the bed. President Cao stood beside the bed with her butt resting against the nightstand. Neither President Yin nor Shen Hui was in the room.
Li Yundong led Su Chan out the bathroom. However, Su Chan insisted on hiding behind his back once they were out.
"So!" Li Yundong cleared his throat, then put on a charming smile. "To what do I owe the pleasure guys?"
President Cao snorted loudly. "Are you kidding me right now?"
Li Yundong looked towards the others. Zhou Qin's expression held its usual aloofness, whereas Feng Na and Cheng Cheng were looking at him like he was nuts.
Li Yundong's gaze travelled from women to women. "What?"
"You were missing for two days," Feng Na said.
Li Yundong's eyes bugged out. "Two da—" He swiveled around to look at Su Chan for confirmation.
Su Chan nodded meekly at him.
Two days... He was in a meditative state for two days.
"Err…" Li Yundong released an awkward chuckle. "Oops?" He winced at his own lame response.
Beside Feng Na, Cheng Cheng shook her head and did a facepalm.
Feng Na sighed. "Let me explain everything since you clearly have no clue what's been going on around here."
"Yeah? You can say that again," Li Yundong muttered, then gestured for Feng Na to go ahead.
"President Yin has been looking for you for the past two days. She hasn't been able to reach your phone, so she called Zhou Qin to ask for your address." Feng Na paused for a moment to look at Zhou Qin. "Well, Zhou Qin dropped by your apartment this morning, but you guys weren't there. After that, Zhou Qin ran into me on campus, so I told her about your whereabouts. So here we are."
"I see... But..." Li Yundong turned towards President Cao. "What brings you here, President Cao."
"What brings me here?" President Cao closed her mouth and glared at him. "You have the nerve to ask me that, Li Yundong? Seriously? After the mess you left behind during your assignment, which you didn't even complete! You bailed on me! And guess who had to deal with the mess you left behind? Me!" President Cao started ticking off a list of his messes on her fingers. "Two broken bathrooms. Two traumatized movie stars! And some maniac on steroids wreaking havoc in one of the most prestigious hotels in the city!"
"But that maniac attacked me! It wasn't me who started—"
"Oh. Please. That maniac clearly has some kind of sick vendetta against you. I looked him up. You fought him in front of campus some time ago, didn't you?"
Li Yundong rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. F*cking Lin Youfa. He would've gotten paid by now if that idiot hadn't ambushed him at Shengyuan Hotel. Li Yundong stole a glance at President Cao, who was still glaring daggers at him. And now he was probably gonna be fired. F*cking hell...
Suck it up, Li Yundong, he thought. Obviously, he had to come up with a viable excuse to justify his abrupt departure from Shengyuan Hotel that day. Li Yundong squared his shoulders and met President Cao's gaze steadily. "I did what I judged to be right, President Cao..."
President Cao's brows rose to her hairline.
Li Yundong raised a hand. "Wait. Please just hear me out..."
President Cao sighed. "Fine. Explain yourself."
"The guy ambushed me in the bathroom," Li Yundong said. "He's a dangerous man. I figured he might endanger you and your two clients if I stayed. So I lured him out of the hotel."
President Cao seemed to be pondering over his words. "And what happened after you left the hotel? And why didn't you pick up my calls?"
Li Yundong rubbed his neck. "Well... After I left the hotel... I ran around the city for a bit." He looked towards President Cao. "Got the guy to chase me around..."
"Is he still out there?" President Cao asked.
Li Yundong shrugged. "I dealt with him."
A look of alarm formed on President Cao's face. "Wait… You mean y- you... You killed him?"
"Of course not!" Li Yundong protested. I just tossed him off the 20th floor... Okay. Shit. Was Lin Youfa dead?
Nah. He was probably fine. The guy had Zhu Bajie's powers, for God's sake.
"Okay… So if you didn't kill him, then what happened to him?"
Hell if he knew.
"He... He ran away," Li Yundong said.
"And will he be a threat in the future?" President Cao asked.
"No. I don't think so."
"Good." President Cao nodded, then rolled her eyes. "A bodyguard is supposed to keep me and my clients safe, not bring more danger to us, for God's sake."
"Got it, President Cao. I'll be more careful from now on. But, um..." Li Yundong grimaced. "You mentioned that you've dealt with those messes I left behind?"
President Cao snorted, then glared at Li Yundong. "Oh yeah I did. Cost me quite a lot, mind you." She jabbed a finger at Li Yundong. "You owe me, young man."
Li Yundong thought back to that brawl with Lin Youfa. God, the damage they did to the bathroom... Wait, two bathrooms.
Li Yundong sighed. "Shit..."
All of a sudden, President Cao laughed. "Relax. I'm not asking you to pay me back."
Wait, what? Li Yundong looked up in surprise. "You're not?"
She smirked. "Nope."
Suspicion crept into Li Yundong. His eyes narrowed. "What's the catch? Why are you here?"
President Cao's smirk widened. "I have a new assignment for you." She gave Li Yundong a pointed look. "I have a dinner party to attend. And you're gonna be my bodyguard."
Li Yundong stood up straighter. "An assignment…"
This was good news, especially during times like this when money was tight. "But..." Li Yundong turned around and was surprised to find that Su Chan was no longer standing behind him. Instead, Su Chan was standing beside the bathroom door, having a whispered conversation with Zhou Qin.
Li Yundong watched as Su Chan grabbed both of Zhou Qin's hands and then bowed slightly to Zhou Qin.
Zhou Qin, on the other hand, looked utterly baffled.
Well... Guess I'll tell Su Chan about the job later.
Li Yundong turned around to face President Cao again. "I'll do it."
President Cao nodded. "Good. I expect you to keep me safe before, during, and after the party. Understood?"
"Of course," Li Yundong said, then paused for a moment. "But just to give me a heads-up… What sort of threat should I be expecting?"
"Random knife attacks. Acid splashes. And... Sexual assaults?"
Li Yundong's eyebrows rose just a tad. "Who exactly did you piss off, President Cao?"
President Cao waved off his question. "It doesn't matter. Just make sure I'm in and out from the party in one piece, then you'll receive your payment in your bank account."
Well, what do you know? He still had a job.