Cheng Jinchuan put out his cigarette in the nearby trash can and took off his suit jacket to drape over his sister's shoulders.
He calmly retorted, “President Shao, what are you implying here? This place is so big that we're at most just blocking some mosquitoes, we shouldn't be blocking your way.”

Shao ChengZe answered Cheng Jinchuan with equal calmness, “Just passing through to throw out trash, or–” he paused, and held out the tissue in his hand that was clearly stained with lipstick, “if Chief Cheng could help throw this away for me, that'd work too.”

Cheng Jinchuan laughed coldly.
“I don't remember inviting President Shao to today's party.
Though the White family hosted it, anyone with eyes can see it was for my Cheng family.
President Shao showing up uninvited, what are your intentions?”

Shao ChengZe casually wrapped his arm around Shen Xi Wen's waist.
“I came to accompany my friend Miss Shen.
Miss Shen was personally invited by Director Li, I'm sure Director Li hasn't forgotten.”

Shen Xi Wen had accepted Shao ChengZe's favor today, so she naturally was willing to act as his prop.
She leaned into his embrace, more intimate than a bird nestling against a person.

Li PeiFeng's expression suddenly turned sinister, completely different from his casual manner earlier.
“Could it be that after studying abroad for years, President Shao has forgotten your family's rules set by the elder? If word of you coming to a Cheng family party reaches the elder's ears, I'm afraid you won't make it to tomorrow before the newly appointed Shao family head gets kicked out.
That would be truly embarrassing.”

Shao ChengZe indifferently tugged his lips.
“I'll handle those matters, nothing is more important to me than accompanying a beauty.”

As he finished speaking, Cheng Jinxuan shrugged off the suit jacket on her shoulder and threw it back into Cheng Jinchuan's arms.
“You guys talk, I'm going in first.”

She didn't look back the entire time.
The evening glow fell on her snow-white skin, which stood out even more against her ink green dress.
In Shao ChengZe's pitch black pupils, the flickering light seemed to ignite a flame.

At the party, everyone's eyes were busy.

No one recognized Shao ChengZe at first, since he had disappeared from these social circles for so long.
But Shen Xi Wen had been in the spotlight recently, so her companion naturally attracted attention.
Not to mention this man, from his brows and eyes to his build and temperament, stood out in any crowd.

Someone went to chat with Shen Xi Wen and casually asked, “Who's this?”

Shao ChengZe slightly nodded.
“Shao ChengZe.”

It was like a bolt from the blue, his one sentence blew up the party.

For someone from the Shao family to be on the Cheng family's territory was unprecedented.
What's more, it was Shao ChengZe, who had upended the Shao family and taken over as head in just a few months.
No one knew how he did it or how long he had planned, but for the Shao elder to personally bring him back, he must have rightly inherited the position.

Everyone guessed, was the newly appointed Shao Group president coming to the Cheng party to provoke the Chengs, or to provoke the Shao elder? Or perhaps both.

The discord between the Shaos and Chengs was public knowledge.
But insiders also knew there was no shortage of conflicts between Shao ChengZe and the Shao elder.
Otherwise, the elder wouldn't have banished him across the ocean back then.
So people said, he must have obtained compromising material on the elder to force his way back to Shao Group.
Otherwise, how could the elder let someone who had offended him take over the Shaos? There must be more to this story.

While others speculated, the man in question casually crossed his legs and leaned back in his chair, lightly swirling his wine glass.
From sitting down until now, he hadn't said a word.
Shen Xi Wen didn't know what he was thinking.
Resting her chin in her hand, she murmured, “Are you really just here to be my bodyguard?”

“What else?” Shao ChengZe glanced at her.
His gaze turned towards a certain spot in the venue.

Shen Xi Wen said, “Then I owe you big time, this is like you venturing into a tiger's den for me.”

Shao ChengZe's face also softened into a smile.
“You know it now, remember to ask for more endorsement fees later, it'll be helping me out too.”

One of Shao Group's jewelry brands wanted Shen Xi Wen as their spokesperson, and they were still in negotiations.

Shen Xi Wen bared her teeth in a grin.
“Don't worry, I'm naming a sky-high price.”

A newly appointed president chatting intimately with an up-and-coming starlet, the elegant man and alluring woman attracted eyes from all around, acting as if no one else existed.

Li PeiFeng gritted his teeth so hard they nearly cracked.
His face was so gloomy it seemed about to drip water.
He asked Cheng Jinchuan, “What do you think she's playing at?” Cheng Jinchuan impatiently retorted, “That's your child's mother, why are you asking me? Who could I ask?”

He was also simmering with anger, thinking to intercept and beat the man senseless in a small alley later, letting him know that swaggering in front of them like this would hurt more than skin deep.

Cheng Jinchuan gestured at Li PeiFeng's phone.
“Did you send the photo to Shi Ran?”

Li PeiFeng drooped his brows sorrowfully.
“I did.”

Cheng Jinchuan sent another message to Shi Ran from his phone, [Shao ChengZe is back, hurry back too.]

Unlike the other two with time to sit and chat, Cheng Jinxuan had come as a flower vase.
But there were several VIP customers of her hotel at the party, so she had no choice but to split her attention and exchange a few words.

Shen Xi Wen absently tapped her leg as she watched the slender figure swaying gracefully nearby.
She softly exclaimed, “The Cheng family's second miss is truly a beauty.”

The person across from her didn't react.

Shen Xi Wen leaned over and asked in a low voice, “I heard she's married already, is that true or false? Have you met her husband?”

Shao ChengZe's lips quirked up.
“You're asking the wrong person.
You should be asking your agent about this.
Doesn't she claim to know everything under the sun? There shouldn't be anything she doesn't know.”

From his smile, Shen Xi Wen sensed stormy gloom.
She rolled her eyes and eventually decided not to poke the tiger.
She would just treat him as a well-meaning dark knight here to protect her.
As the saying goes, the more you know, the faster you die.
It was better she not be so gossipy.

Cheng Jinxuan's jet lag hadn't reversed yet, so she was quite tired already.
After standing so long in nearly 8cm heels, her calves ached.
She checked her watch, using the bathroom as an excuse to leave the lively party scene.

There weren't many people on the veranda.
In the late April night, the spring breeze was gentle and the air faintly scented with flowers, invigorating body and mind.
Cheng Jinxuan kicked off her heels and stepped barefoot onto the grass.
Without the constraint of high heels, her body relaxed from head to toe.
She reached up and undid her half updo, letting the soft, glossy black hair cascade freely down her back to her slender waist, obscuring the snowy skin.
She leaned lazily against the railing, gazing at the crescent moon in the distance night sky, and let out a long exhale.

The footsteps were soundless.
By the time she noticed, the person was already before her.
They looked at each other in silence, even the air stilled for a few moments.
But underneath the quiet, something seemed to roil, carrying years of chill.
In the end, the roiling coalesced into ice, returning to stillness.

Shao ChengZe took out a cigarette, as if greeting an old friend.
Casually, he asked, “How long has Shi Ran been away?”

Cheng Jinxuan turned the ring on her left ring finger, eyes full of amusement.
“President Shao, you're quite free to care so much.
Was usurping the Shao family not enough to occupy you? No need to worry about my husband's schedule.”

Shao ChengZe silently chuckled.
“I'm just concerned Second Miss Cheng might be lonely in her spring chamber.”

Cheng Jinxuan's expression was placid, her posture even more relaxed and lazy than before.
She shook her hair and revealed her swan-like neck, slightly bending at the waist.
Arms on the railing, she tilted her head to look at him, a bewitching gaze flowing from her upturned eyes.

“In the past when I was younger, I didn't understand.
I thought secret rendezvous were more thrilling.
But–” she drew out the last word, letting her eyes drift below his waist for a moment, “after experiencing Shi Ran, I realized size, length, hardness, endurance…these are more important.
If President Shao wants to offer his bed, I'm afraid you'd have to prove you're up to standard.”

He should've had a heel flung at his face for those words.
But Cheng Jinxuan's expression was unruffled, her posture even more relaxed and lazy than before.
She tossed her hair and turned to look out at the nightscape, the very image of nonchalance.

Things were always more obscure at night reunions, the darkness concealing much–flushed faces, twitching eyes, white knuckles, racing hearts–thunderous in the spring air.

Purely from anger!

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