It’s All Been Worth It
The incident was soon resolved – Assistant Lin had accepted a bribe and leaked the company’s secrets. He had been preparing to abscond abroad with millions of dollars but was caught by the public security at the airport.
One month later Gu’s threw their annual end-of-year dinner party. The company booked the most luxurious hotel in the city and invited over 1,000 employees from the head office, as well as the annual outstanding employees from every branch.
The R&D department’s dining table was in the first row of the banquet hall and was very eye-catching – they were after all the biggest source of profit for the company.
The seating chart of this year’s dinner was the only thing different from last year.
Tian Tian, the young assistant, was now placed next to the main seat. The implication was self-explanatory.
Tian Tian blushed from embarrassment, but the other old greasers were not willing to change seats with her.
“Just sit wherever you want.” Old Xia advised her. “When the manager is happy, we also gain.”
Tian Tian blushed even more.
The party started as the band on stage began to play and sing hard. The round table at the front of the hall seated the top executives of the group, including Ye Ling of course. It was customary for him to sit at the executives’ table for the first half of the evening, before moving to sit with his department for the second half.
Today, however, he arrived at their table very quickly.
When he sat down, Tian Tian found that he was indeed in a good mood, just as Old Xia had said. Glancing slightly at the crowd, he said, “Old Xia take the toast to everyone.”
Old Xia nodded her head.
The R&D department needed to keep good relations with the other departments. They all stood up in order to go from table to table to give toasts to their fellow leaders. Tian Tian was just about to get up as well when her body stiffened.
Her hand was being held down under the table.
“You come with me.” His dark eyes were staring at her, and there was a faint smell of alcohol on his body.
Amidst many prying eyes, Tian Tian followed him with extreme embarrassment as they walked out onto the terrace. The night was clear, with a light dusting of snow on the otherwise empty terrace floor.
He walked straight to the edge of the balcony and stood still. Without turning around, he said in a low voice, “I’m sorry. My big brother was unsure about you earlier, that’s why I tested you.”
His back was as straight as a pine tree on a winter night.
“I couldn’t stop it. I promise it will never happen again.”
When she stayed quiet, he continued, “Actually, I just want to ask you solemnly once and for all if you are willing to be my girlfriend. I, as a person, have not been good with girls since I was a kid. If…you are willing, I will be very serious about dating, with marriage as a prerequisite…Maybe I am a bit old-fashioned and boring, do you mind?”
What answered him was Tian Tian’s startled cry.
He quickly turned around and saw that when she came up behind him, her feet had slipped and she was now about to fall face-first into the snow! He quickly caught her in his arms, preventing a tragedy from happening.
“I’m wearing high heels, and the snow is too slippery here.”
He held her cold hand and did not let go, his black eyes heavy as he looked at her.
His voice was hoarse when he spoke again.
“Tian Tian, I like you, will you?”
Tian Tian’s face felt hot to the core and she didn’t know that his face would have shone as red as hers at this moment if it hadn’t been hidden by the night.
“When did you like me?” Her voice trembled a little. He hadn’t let go of her hand yet, and his palm was hot as hell.
“Very early.” He whispered.
“Why are you just saying that now?” She felt incredulous.
He gave her a somewhat surprised look. “I’ve been waiting for…it’s because you said no relationships until you turned twenty-six and were promoted to Senior Fellow.”
“When did I say that?” She asked angrily.
“……you said that during your interview.”
Tian Tian thought back hard and suddenly remembered that she had actually said that. “That was for the interview! I was afraid your company wouldn’t want me otherwise.”
“Gu’s never restricts employees from falling in love.”
“Wasn’t that how I could show my loyalty? Many interview guides at the time said that many companies hate female employees falling in love and having kids or something.”
He let out a long breath as he realized the reason for his delay in making a move had been a misunderstanding.
Tian Tian thought he looked surprisingly cute and laughed.
“Well, it’s fate to meet you from a thousand miles. I’ve been in the company for two years, with so many young talents around, and yet I’m still alone.”
This was true. Gu’s women were few in number but the men were many. Many girls who were not as pretty as she had found love.
This time he didn’t laugh and was silent for a while. Tian Tian thought his silence was a bit interesting.
“What? If you want to fall in love, don’t hide it from me.”
He grabbed her hand and thrust it into his coat pocket so that she was closer to him. “I never use my privileges as a Gu.” He stared at her, then added “Except with you, a few times.”
“Well. The first boy who tried to pursue you was the one I arranged to be transferred to another branch; the second man, I had him introduced to the minister’s daughter…and there were others who found you very attractive and wanted to confess, but I stopped them all.”
Tian Tian let her mouth drop open.
Was this really something Ye Ling would do? This man who was supposedly not able to understand people? This man who was called a workaholic techno-nerd? He was clearly an interesting man.
“Dark?” Ye Ling finished for her, a little embarrassed.
His fingers rubbed hers as he started to lower his head. “Then…this is an apology.”
Those cold lips gently kissed her with emotions that had been suppressed for a long time; with the caution of a first heartbeat.
Tian Tian felt like she was going to faint from this tender, coveted kiss. She grasped Ye Ling’s lapel as she thought in the back of her mind, so all these years of waiting have only been for the most wonderful love to come.
Although this man was a bit dull, and a bit darker than she would like to admit, she couldn’t help but like him. Her twenty-three years of loneliness had all been worth it.