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    On Sunday evening, Shen Li went to the store as usual. The drunkenness of Saturday night felt like a dream, and all the entanglements and sorrows were forgotten as soon as he woke up.

    However, today he couldn’t help but daydream about Lu Changting—how the blind date went, what kind of person the woman was, whether they hit it off, or if they were just polite to each other…

    Lost in thought, he felt a tap on his shoulder. Habitually turning his head, he didn’t see anyone, then turned back to meet Xiao Yao’s smiling eyes. “Mr. Shen, what are you thinking about? You seem lost in thought.”

    “Mr. Shen.” Following Xiao Yao, Lu Changxu and Chen Xingye settled down at the bar. Without looking at the menu, each ordered a “Godfather” cocktail.

    “Yao Ge, Chen Ge.” Shen Li picked up the tea in front of him and took a sip. “Young Master Lu.”

    “Why don’t we see Mr. Chu and Mr. Fu?”

    “These two have been focusing on self-cultivation lately, and they’re busy with work, so they don’t have time to bother with us.” Xiao Yao ordered a “Mojito” and casually glanced around the bar, finally resting his gaze on a scattered table by the dance floor, before slowly retracting his gaze.

    After a while, he glanced over again, his brows furrowing this time.

    Shen Li followed his gaze.

    It was a young man in a black shirt, with a neat and clean crew cut, and a scar on his temple, looking quite cool.

    He looked familiar.

    Chen Xingye also glanced over, raising an eyebrow. “Isn’t that the little goldfish you’re raising?”

    Xiao Yao raised his glass, savoring the refreshing sweetness and minty aroma, feeling a bit restless. “I’ll go take a look.”

    He stood up, adjusting his sleeves and collar, then casually walked over.

    Shen Li was curious. “Who’s that?”

    “Jing Yu,” Chen Xingye took a sip of his drink, casually saying, “A new young star that Xiao Yao recently took under his wing.”

    Lu Changxu glanced at Xiao Yao and asked, “When did this happen? Why didn’t I know about it?”

    “About half a month ago,” Chen Xingye said, “They met at ‘Gujiu’.”

    That day, Shen Li wasn’t at the bar; it was Fan Jingling’s setup. Although Xiao Yao and Fan Jingling were childhood friends, and Chen Xingye and Xiao Yao were also close, Chen Xingye disapproved of Fan Jingling’s behavior and temperament. They had a mutual dislike for each other, so Chen Xingye didn’t know Fan Jingling well, and he always avoided Fan Jingling’s setups.

    “Gujiu” didn’t engage in flesh trade, but they also didn’t interfere if customers brought their own people. According to Xiao Yao, Fan Jingling had grown tired of the little star he was sponsoring previously and wanted to change, so Jing Yu’s agent deceived him into coming.

    Seeing that he was reluctant and had a good rapport with him, Xiao Yao helped him out. Perhaps this person’s heart had been chilled by the agent, he recognized reality and simply followed Xiao Yao.

    This was Xiao Yao’s first time sponsoring a star. He immediately asked him for money and even used his connections to provide resources for Jing Yu. Chen Xingye observed that Xiao Yao seemed quite caring towards Jing Yu, but he didn’t know what Jing Yu thought about it.

    Shen Li stopped asking, but he was quite happy that Xiao Yao had found someone new and interesting. He took out a cigarette from his pack, lit it, and took a puff.

    When he lit the cigarette, the band-aid on his palm was exposed. Lu Changxu noticed and asked with a mixture of concern and curiosity, “Mr. Shen, how did you injure your hand?”

    The injury was on the palm of his hand, a place where it’s difficult to get a wound that requires a band-aid from just falling or knocking against something.

    Shen Li glanced at his palm indifferently. “Scratched by glass.”

    Chen Xingye took a sip of his drink and, thinking about the moment in the afternoon when he saw Shen Li’s moment on WeChat with Jiang Chifeng’s comment “First High check-in,” and considering the high walls of First High, made a guess: “You got scratched by glass while climbing over the wall?”

    Lu Changxu asked, “Climbing over what wall?”

    “Mr. Shen went back to school last night,” Chen Xingye made a reasonable assumption, “It was probably too late, and the school gates were locked, so he had to climb over the wall.”

    Shen Li simply nodded lightly. “Yeah, I went back to school last night to take a look.”

    Lu Changxu took out his phone and opened Shen Li’s Moments. At first glance, the wall in the photo seemed somewhat familiar. Upon closer inspection, a vague thought flashed through his mind.

    “Mr. Shen also went to First High?”

    On this topic, Chen Xingye also looked over with curiosity.

    “Class of ’07,” Shen Li hadn’t deliberately mentioned that he went to First High, but he also didn’t intend to hide anything.

    “What a coincidence,” Chen Xingye smiled and clinked glasses with him. “Same year.”

    He then asked, “We’ve never met at school before, what class were you in?”

    It’s possible they had met before, but it slipped their minds, leaving no impression.

    “Class 16.”

    “Oh, quite far,” Chen Xingye took a sip of his drink. “I was in Class 34.”

    At First High, classes were assigned based on academic performance. The first twelve classes were for liberal arts, and the classes from thirteen onward were for science. The higher the class number, the worse the academic performance tended to be. Those like him, who got in by paying a hefty fee, were usually clustered in classes from thirty onwards.

    Suddenly, Lu Changxu said, “Changting was also in the Class of ’07, in Class 13. Have you two met before?”

    “Have we?” Shen Li touched the red string on his wrist, smiling and shaking his head. “I don’t remember.”

    If only it were true that he could forget.

    Chen Xingye found it a bit strange but didn’t say anything.

    Every school had a few prominent figures known to everyone, either because of their outstanding appearance, excellent academic performance, causing trouble, or having a notorious reputation… What piled up on Lu Changting was the aristocratic background, outstanding appearance, and excellent academic performance, making him extremely dazzling.

    Class 13 and Class 16 were so close, on the same floor, with only a handful of people coming and going. Shen Li had never seen Lu Changting?

    But after so many years, perhaps it was indeed forgotten.

    Lu Changxu was also somewhat skeptical. He opened the chat with Lu Changting and sent a message.

    [Xu: Mr. Shen is also from First High.] [Xu: Class of ’07, Class 16. Surprised or not? Coincidence or not?]

    While they acknowledged their alma mater, Xiao Yao also led the person over to their table.

    Xiao Yao didn’t seem inclined to introduce them to Jing Yu, nor did he introduce Jing Yu to them. He settled the bill, bid farewell for the day, and suggested meeting up another time.

    Jing Yu followed behind him, wearing a mask, almost blending into the shadows. Shen Li watched them leave the bar, then noticed someone entering, head slightly bowed, wearing a red hoodie, ripped jeans, and carrying a backpack—a typical student attire.

    As the person approached and stepped into a brighter spot, Shen Li recognized Le Yi.

    It had been a while since Shen Li had seen Le Yi. The young man who used to eagerly rush into the bar to find him had become much more restrained. Approaching Le’an, he called out, “Bro,” in a very obedient tone.

    Le’an glanced up from behind the bar and frowned lightly upon seeing him.

    Le Yi pursed his lips and asked softly, “Can I have a word with Shen Ge alone?”

    Even the change in address indicated that Le’an had talked to him and he had taken it to heart.

    Shen Li flicked his cigarette butt into the ashtray, extinguishing it, then stood up with his phone. “Shall we go to a private room or my office?”

    “That corner over there will do,” Le Yi pointed to a quiet corner with a scattered table.

    The light in the corner was dim, and Le Yi carefully placed his bag down, opened it, and gently took out a box.

    “It’s for you,” Le Yi touched the box, sounding a bit melancholic. “I was planning to take my time and give it to you on your birthday at the end of the year.”

    He had just finished designing it and thought he had plenty of time to prepare this gift. But Le’an’s words had disrupted all his plans.

    Shen Li had mentioned to him before that there was someone in his heart, but he didn’t believe it. He thought Shen Li was just teasing him.

    Now that person had returned, he couldn’t help but believe it.

    Unwilling, but what could he do? Shen Li only treated him as a younger brother, cared for him as such, and nothing more. After staying up for several nights, he assembled the model, thinking that no matter what, this longing must be given away, meeting in person, handing it over personally, considering it a closure.

    Shen Li took the box politely, saying a word of thanks.

    Thinking of the time when he confessed to Shen Li, Shen Li had also politely said, “Thank you.” Like thousands of needles piercing his heart, leaving it riddled with holes.

    “There’s nothing to thank me for,” he said. “And there’s no need to apologize.”

    “You’ve shone on me, and I’ve tried hard too, wanting to show my brightness to you.” Le Yi lowered his gaze, his eyes reddening, and he chuckled self-deprecatingly. “It’s just that my light is too dim, and it’s my fault for coming too late.”

    Shen Li patted his head lightly, his tone gentle. “I’ll accept the gift.”

    “Go back, take a hot shower, and have a good sleep. When you wake up tomorrow, there’ll be plenty of men on the streets, each one better than me, Shen Ge.”

    Le Yi looked up at him, then quickly lowered his head again, asking in a muffled voice, “Can I have a hug?”

    Every time, he would dive into Shen Li’s arms like a firework, but Shen Li had never hugged him, not even once.

    Shen Li sighed. “Just once.”

    He reached out and hugged Le Yi.

    The big boy’s warm tears silently fell on his shoulder, and he heard him say, “I wish you happiness, Shen Ge.”

    Shen Li sighed again.

    He felt like the pain and sighs of these past few days surpassed those of the past decade.

    “You too.”

    Le Yi left, and Shen Li returned to the bar with the box. He noticed that Lu Changxu and Chen Xingye had switched to a booth to drink at some point. At the bar, there were now only him and Le’an.

    Le’an’s gaze lingered on the box for a long time before he said in a complex tone, “He made it himself, spent over a week on it, stayed up for several nights.”

    Shen Li lifted the lid of the box and took a glance inside.

    It was a miniature version of “Gu Jiu,” the two-story bar with rooftop terrace, private rooms, glass windows, main hall, dance floor, booths, stocked liquor cabinets on the walls, and even Le’an behind the bar, him sitting at the bar with a cup of tea, and Le Yi beside him.

    He closed the box again with a heavy sigh.

    “I’m going home now. Feeling a bit tired.”

    After finishing watching a play, Lu Changxu emptied his glass and sent a photo to Lu Changting.

    It was a sneak shot he took just now. In the photo, Shen Li was holding Le Yi, seemingly saying something, while most of Le Yi’s face was buried in Shen Li’s embrace.

    The bar’s lights were too dazzling, and the distance was too far. Lu Changxu and Chen Xingye didn’t see the tears in his eyes; they only saw him talking to Shen Li, giving a gift, hugging, and then leaving.

    Chen Xingye leaned over to take a look at his phone screen and raised an eyebrow. “What’s going on?”

    “I have no idea.” Lu Changxu snapped his fingers, calling over a waiter to refill his glass.

    Chen Xingye tapped on his phone screen and asked belatedly, “When did that happen between them?”

    “Do you still remember when Changting just returned to the country? We got drunk, and Shen Boss sent a lot of honey pomelo tea to the private room,” Lu Changxu said with a mysterious tone. “Remember the incident with Changge at the bar before? Shen Boss sent two cans to Changge.”

    “I tried it. When brewed with warm water, it has a slightly sweet and sour taste. But that night, the honey pomelo tea was so sweet, it had no hint of sourness.”

    Lu Changxu took a sip of his drink and added slowly, “Changting has a sweet tooth.”

    “Coincidence, I guess,” Chen Xingye pondered silently.

    Lu Changxu asked, “Don’t you think the atmosphere between them during those two days of vacation felt suspicious?”

    Chen Xingye, too straightforward, still believed that Changting and Shen Li were innocent. “It’s fine, I guess.”

    “After the aftermath of the incident with Changge, Fan Jing would come to ‘Gu Jiu’ every day to handLe’anti-vice operations,” Lu Changxu continued. “The day Changting found out, he invited Fan Jing to dinner. Since then, the police haven’t intervened in ‘Gu Jiu’ business.”

    “That incident happened because of Changge,” Chen Xingye said. “Changting inviting Fan Jing to dinner to resolve the trouble was only right.”

    Lu Changxu felt Chen Xingye was slow on the uptake. “At noon that day, after Changting had lunch with Fan Jing, they ran into a dispute downstairs, and Changting intervened.”

    “The floor manager reported to me that the lady claimed Changting was her son’s—boyfriend.”

    “How coincidental?” Chen Xingye was momentarily stunned, then his curiosity was piqued. “That’s Shen Boss’s mother?”

    “It’s just that coincidental,” Lu Changxu clinked his glass with Chen Xingye. “Do you think Shen Boss really didn’t know Changting in high school?”

    Chen Xingye shook his head. “In theory, it’s highly unlikely.”

    The more they thought about it, the more suspicious it seemed.

    Lu Changxu smiled. “Let’s watch the show.”


    Author’s Note:

    “Listen to me, go home now, take a hot bath, and when you wake up tomorrow, there will be men everywhere, each one better than Big Cat.” — “Sweet Honey”

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