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    In early May, the green shadows brought tranquility to the day, while a lone flower hinted at the remaining essence of spring.

    On the day of Lu Changting’s return from his business trip, the first rain of May fell.

    He caught a short nap on the plane, still feeling somewhat weary when he disembarked. The flight had landed at eleven o’clock in the evening, and as he stepped out of the terminal, all he could see was the endless night, accompanied by a light rain and a chilly wind that carried a hint of coldness.

    When he got into the car, the driver asked whether to head to the Lu residence or the villa. Lu Changting rubbed his temples and gave an unexpected answer.

    “To ‘Gu Jiu’.”

    The rain had made the roads slippery, and a red carpet led the way to the entrance of the bar.

    Lu Changting carried several exquisitely packaged gift boxes, walking leisurely down the red carpet into the bar.

    At the bar counter sat two young women who appeared to be first-time visitors to a bar. They were talking to Le An, asking for recommendations on drinks.

    Le An patiently recommended some drinks to them. When he looked up and saw Lu Changting, he paused for a moment, then greeted him with a polite smile. “Mr. Lu.”

    Lu Changting glanced around the hall but didn’t see Shen Li. “Is Mr. Shen not here today?”

    “The boss is in the lounge,” Le An said, glancing at the lively crowd in the bar and calling Chen Ke over. “Take Mr. Lu to the lounge.”

    Shen Li’s lounge was on the second floor, the last room at the corner.

    Chen Ke knocked on the door and received a “please come in” before pushing it open. Stepping aside, he gestured for Lu Changting to enter.

    Shen Li’s lounge was decorated quite simply, with office desks, chairs, a coffee table, and a sofa, all in the same minimalist style as his home. Amidst the lively revelry of the nightclub, it carved out a rare corner of tranquility. There was also a small door, beyond which one could faintly see a bed.

    Shen Li was sitting on the sofa, holding a pen in his hand, with several sheets of draft paper on the coffee table, along with a calculator, and his computer was open as he looked at financial statements.

    He was deeply engrossed in calculating cash flows, and even though he knew someone had entered, he didn’t look up until Lu Changting placed the gift box on the coffee table, appearing in his line of sight.

    His mind was occupied with the detailed financial figures, and it took him a moment to react. Setting down his pen, he stood up. “You’re back from your business trip?”

    “Just got back.” Lu Changting had been extremely busy lately, averaging only four to five hours of sleep each day, and enduring long journeys. His complexion didn’t look too good at the moment.

    He forced a smile. “I promised you some local specialties.”

    “Thank you.” Shen Li politely thanked him and then said, “Please, have a seat.”

    Without much thought about why Lu Changting had brought him gifts as soon as he returned, Shen Li was filled with concern for Lu Changting’s pale complexion.

    “What would you like to drink?”

    Sitting down on the sofa, Lu Changting looked a bit more relaxed. “Just some hot water, please.”

    Shen Li poured him a glass of warm water and then took a few pieces of chocolate from the candy box on the desk and offered them to him.

    Seeing that Lu Changting’s hair and shoulders were damp, Shen Li couldn’t help but furrow his brow. “Hasn’t the rain stopped yet?”

    Lu Changting replied with a soft “Hmm” and took a few sips of water from the glass.

    As his gaze fell on the computer screen, he asked, “Did I interrupt you?”

    “No,” Shen Li tidied up the draft paper and moved the computer aside slightly. “It’ll be the same tomorrow.”

    “You can continue. I’ll leave in a while.” Lu Changting paused for a moment, his hand holding the glass tightening slightly. “May I stay for a while?”

    The atmosphere felt somewhat strange in such solitude.

    Thinking about the two people embracing in the dimly lit room in that photo, Lu Changting felt unsure if he could relax in Shen Li’s lounge without feeling awkward.

    “Sure, of course,” Shen Li was somewhat nervous. He still wasn’t used to speaking to Lu Changting at such close proximity. He smiled, his mouth and eyes soft, trying to disguise his nervousness. “If you’re too tired, you can lie down in the room for a while.”

    Lu Changting felt a flutter in his heart.

    He glanced at the door, with only a corner of the bed visible. His Adam’s apple bobbed as he took a sip of warm water.

    “No need,” he said, “I’ll just sit for a while.”

    He unwrapped a piece of chocolate, folded the wrapper and put it in his pocket before putting the candy in his mouth, letting the sweetness melt on his tongue.

    The room fell quiet. Shen Li, restless, glanced at the reports for a while, but the once clear numbers now seemed like complex symbols, impossible to comprehend.

    “Um,” he stood up and poured himself a glass of water, casually asking, “How did the blind date go?”

    Hearing Shen Li ask about the blind date, Lu Changting felt unexpectedly pleased.

    He wondered if Shen Li was also somewhat interested in him.

    “We just had a meal,” he looked at Shen Li, his gaze calm and deep. “She’s the daughter of a friend of my father’s in the business world. Her family does overseas business, and she’s been living and studying abroad for years. She just returned to China recently.”

    “Oh…” Shen Li lowered his head and took a sip of water, concealing his emotions in his eyes. “Then you should get along well.”

    Lu Changting looked at him, his gaze becoming heavier. “What do you mean by ‘getting along’?”

    “Do we get along?”

    Shen Li paused for a moment. “Get… get along, I guess,” he added awkwardly, “as friends.”

    “Friends,” Lu Changting repeated softly, contemplating these two words over and over in his mind, unwilling to admit but unable to refute.

    It should have been realized long ago.

    He thought to himself that he should have realized long ago that his feelings for Shen Li were not just those of friendship.

    During these days alone in City C, he had tasted the bitterness of longing enough. He forced himself to be busy with official duties, but every time he closed his eyes, he couldn’t help but wonder about Shen Li and that person—what exactly was their relationship? Why did they hug? And what happened after the hug?

    Every scene, every frame since they met played repeatedly in his mind like a movie. It was only now that he realized, in hindsight, that he remembered every detail about Shen Li so clearly.

    Those seemingly casual glances that lingered on him, the actions that couldn’t help but want to be close, the ambivalence in his emotions—all of it was the selfishness of his so-called “liking” at work.

    He sighed, feeling a sense of exhaustion that was even more draining than staying up all night dealing with official business.

    “I’m going back now,” he said, realizing that his current state and emotions were not suitable for being alone with Shen Li. “I’m a bit tired.”

    “I’ll walk you out,” Shen Li stood up and went to the coat rack to get an umbrella.

    Lu Changting sounded weary, “No need…”

    Ignoring his “no need,” Shen Li escorted him downstairs, holding the umbrella and seeing him off into the car.

    He instructed the driver, “The road is slippery in the rain, so drive safely.”

    Then, he bent down, leaning close to the car window to say to Lu Changting, “You’ve been caught in the rain. When you get home, make some ginger soup or drink some cold medicine. Be careful not to catch a cold.”

    Lu Changting looked at him with deep eyes, quietly listening to him speak.

    Shen Li was always like this, meticulous in every detail, caring to the utmost.

    It was all too easy to misunderstand.

    Suddenly, he closed his eyes and said hoarsely, “Let’s go.”

    During his business trip, the company had accumulated a lot of business matters. The next morning, as soon as Lu Changting arrived at the company, he summoned the senior management for a meeting, briefing them on the matters related to the cooperation project in City C.

    He didn’t have time to eat breakfast. When the meeting ended and he stood up, he felt a little dizzy. Leaning against the desk, he sat back down, and Wan Qing looked at him with some concern, “President Lu.”

    “I’m fine,” he paused for a moment before speaking, “Make me a cup of coffee, please, with extra sugar.”

    During his business trip, the company had accumulated a lot of work. The next morning, as soon as Lu Changting arrived at the company, he gathered the senior management for a meeting, first briefing them on matters related to the cooperation project in City C.

    He didn’t have time for breakfast. At the end of the meeting, as he stood up, he swayed slightly and felt a bit dizzy. Leaning against the desk, he sat back down, and Wan Qing looked at him with concern, “President Lu.”

    “I’m fine,” he paused for a moment before speaking, “Make me a cup of coffee, please, with extra sugar.”

    Everyone returned to their respective positions, and the meeting room was left with only him. After a brief sit-down, he stood up again, regained his usual calm demeanor, and walked back to his office.

    Lu Changting was busy in the office all day. Lunch was ordered takeaway, and he didn’t take a break at noon. He stayed in the office until the end of the workday, working overtime.

    As his assistant, Wan Qing had to stay back with him since the boss was working late. When she brought the organized documents and the schedule for the next day to the CEO’s office, she heard a suppressed cough. Unable to help herself, she advised Lu Changting, “President Lu, you should go home now.”

    After taking over the Lu Group, Lu Changting had fully realized his workaholic nature. However, Lu Changting’s work efficiency was high, so he rarely worked overtime. He also had regular meals and paid attention to his health. After all, managing such a large business like the Lu Group, one’s health was the most important asset.

    But recently, Wan Qing didn’t know what happened to her boss. He became even more silent, reserved, and focused on work.

    Sometimes, Wan Qing saw in the company’s chat group that everyone in the Lu family was a workaholic. She felt both agreement and helplessness. Originally, she thought that with the change of CEO, her workload would be a bit lighter, but Lu Changting was even busier than Lu Sanye…

    Taking the documents, Lu Changting replied, “You should go home after you finish your work.”

    Wan Qing wanted to persuade him again, but Lu Changting’s mobile phone on the desk suddenly rang. It was his personal phone, so Wan Qing suppressed her extra words, “Then, please rest early after you finish your work.”

    Catching a glimpse of the caller ID, Lu Changting couldn’t help but furrow his brows.

    It was his blind date partner.

    After the last dinner, out of politeness, they exchanged contact information. Occasionally, he would receive messages from the other party on WeChat, but he was busy with work during his business trip, often taking a long time to see the messages, and then politely replying with one or two sentences. But it seemed that this didn’t dampen Miss Xiang’s enthusiasm…

    He had a good first impression of Xiang Wan. She was elegant and graceful, resembling his mother in temperament. But that was just an appreciation of her as a young, beautiful, knowledgeable lady. Apart from that, he had no other thoughts about Xiang Wan.

    The rain had stopped and started again. At this moment, the windows were already covered with rain marks, and the sound of raindrops could still be heard.

    He sighed inwardly and answered the phone.

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