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    Invitations from the Su family were being dispatched one after another.

    Su Yu's mother was hosting an extravagant birthday celebration, which attracted prominent figures from all walks of life. Guests were expected to attend in formal attire, bearing gifts, and the event would span three full days. It was held on an artificial island near Star City, accessible solely via a sea-crossing bridge and a winding mountain highway.

    The morning after Su Yu spent the night at Fu Luoyin's place, he was awakened by a phone call.

    He first became aware of himself cradling a black-and-white plush slipper on the couch before realizing where he was: the room was empty, and Fu Luoyin was nowhere to be found.

    As Su Yu stumbled to his feet while answering the call, his heart leaped with joy upon seeing three breakfast servings laid out on the dining table from a distance.

    Among the three breakfast sets, one had been consumed, while the packaging of the other two remained intact. Su Yu approached and noticed Fu Luoyin's hasty scribble on the delivery slip: "I'm going to work."

    "Damn, what a workaholic. He drank so much yesterday and still went to work?" Su Yu mused to himself.

    He sat down to eat, attentively listening to the voice on the other end of the phone.

    The caller was one of the directors from their family's affiliated hospitals, a young woman whom Yan Zi was grooming as her successor. She was updating Su Yu about the arrangements for the upcoming birthday banquet and the distribution of invitations.

    As he listened, Su Yu unwrapped his hamburger and chicken wrap, enjoying his meal.

    The voice across the line said, "So far, all the invitations have been sent out, and those who confirmed their attendance have been registered. However, we couldn't reach Mr. Lin Shuicheng. He didn't answer our calls, and there might be an error with the address we have for him. His records show that he's from the Quantum Analysis Department at the Alliance Star City University, but that department has closed down. The invitation was stuck in their school warehouse and was returned today."

    Su Yu scratched his head. "Ah, yes, sis... I mean, Lin Shuicheng's department is indeed closed. He might be busy lately and couldn't pick up the phone."

    As he broke apart his fried dough stick and soaked it in soy milk, he glanced at Fu Luoyin's note. "Just deliver it to Little Fu, President Fu's residence in the second ring of the city. You don't need to worry about it; I've arranged for someone to send it over."

    After finishing two breakfast deliveries, Su Yu felt his mood instantly brighten—was there anyone else in the world as considerate and helpful as him?


    Su Yu searched around and found a clean piece of white paper. He wrote some bold letters on it: "Dear Brother Minus Two, please help me deliver this invitation to my sister-in-law. I'm very busy, so I'm entrusting this to you. Love always, Su Yu. Someone will deliver the invitation soon, remember to collect it."

    After writing, he looked left and right, then stuck the paper on the front door, covering the area for entering passwords and fingerprints. This way, Fu Luoyin would definitely see it when he got home.

    Fu Luoyin had meetings the entire morning.

    He hadn't slept much the previous night and had also consumed alcohol, so he relied on a large cup of coffee to stay alert in the morning. Later, he didn't need the coffee anymore—his stomachache kept him fully awake, leaving no chance for dozing off.

    Xiao Jue noticed Fu Luoyin's poor complexion and straightforwardly suggested, "Little Fu, go back and rest this afternoon. You've been working nonstop for long enough. You're still young, and your body can't take such strain. We've seen your efforts in amending the proposal these past few days. After the meeting concludes this morning, there won't be any urgent matters. Just clock out early."

    Fu Luoyin didn't insist and left work early.

    He knew he wasn't in good shape. While driving, he activated the autonomous system, tossed his phone aside after getting in the car, and immediately began to rest.

    The vehicle drove smoothly, returning to the place he shared with Lin Shuicheng and eventually stopping in the garage. Sensing that he hadn't alighted, the car continued circulating air inside and outside, even playing a lullaby automatically.

    In the garage, Fu Luoyin dozed off.

    It wasn't a comfortable sleep for Fu Luoyin. He must have dozed for about half an hour, waking up with a sore back and neck, feeling groggy.

    Pressing his aching temples, he sneezed upon waking up and had a faint sense of feverishness.

    Taking a deep breath, he got out of the car, locked it, and entered the apartment building, heading home as usual.

    For some reason, the moment he stepped into the elevator, Fu Luoyin felt a slight resistance. At that instant, he had an impulse: why not turn back to Seventh Bureau and just rest in the assigned room there? What was so bad about that?

    Why did he have to come back here?

    This home that no one cared for or awaited him.

    The elevator door opened, and Fu Luoyin arrived in front of his familiar doorstep.

    He immediately noticed a slip of paper attached to the door. At first, he thought it was a notice from the property management, but upon closer inspection, he realized it wasn't. It was a message from Su Yu. There was also a hanging envelope, its contents unknown.

    Fu Luoyin stood silently in front of the door, studying the note for a while before lowering his head to call Su Yu.

    But Su Yu didn't answer.

    After a moment of watching the unanswered call display, Fu Luoyin put down his phone, reached out to remove Su Yu's note, and then opened the envelope. Inside was an elegantly crafted invitation card enclosed in a thin, intricately carved wooden box with cutouts. The name on the card was Lin Shuicheng's.

    He stood outside the door for a long time, studying the card intently, before finally pushing it open.

    When Su Yu left Fu Luoyin's place in the afternoon, as usual, he invited Dong Shuoye along for lunch.

    Dong Shuoye took him to a restaurant for hot and sour fish. The golden broth simmered with tender, boneless white fish meat, exuding a scorching aroma that kept Su Yu's head buried in his food.

    "Dong Shuoye," he said between bites, "Xia Ran asked me to ask you something. What would be a good gift for Aunt Yan?"

    Almost choking on his fish, Su Yu glared at Dong Shuoye, who merely looked back calmly. "Help me out, little fish. He received the invitation a few days ago and will represent his parents at Aunt Yan's birthday party. He's unsure what kind of gift would be appropriate."

    Su Yu glared at him. "Why should I tell him?"

    Dong Shuoye smiled warmly. "Just do me a favor. He asked me to inquire on his behalf, and it wouldn't look good if I didn't give an answer, considering he's staying at my place."

    Su Yu had intended to keep glaring, but the enticing smell of pickled fish in front of him made him reconsider. He sighed and said, "…My mom doesn't lack anything. She enjoys experimenting with flower teas. Some nice tea leaves or teacups would probably make her happy. Now I know why you've been inviting me out for meals lately; indeed, there's no such thing as a free lunch."

    Dong Shuoye retorted, "Did I 'rob' or 'seduce' you? You can eat anything, but don't misuse idioms, Su Xiaoyu."

    Su Yu waved it off. "Forget it. I'm texting Minus Two now. Don't play word games with me here."

    "What's wrong with Minus Two?" Dong Shuoye asked. "Oh, does he know that Xia Ran will be there?"

    "I don't think so, but he might guess. I haven't told him about it yet." Su Yu sent a text, looking down at his phone. "He's busy now; he wouldn't have time to bother with his ex."

    "So it's still Lin Shuicheng's doing?" Dong Shuoye inquired.

    Su Yu blinked. "If it wouldn't result in my death from Minus Two's rage, I'd really want someone to film it for me. Our dear Minus Two has learned to send flowers to others."

    He turned his phone screen around to show Dong Shuoye.

    Fu Luoyin: "Why are you sending flowers?"

    Fu Luoyin: "I have no idea what kind of flowers to buy."

    Su Yu: "You should ask your brother-in-law what kind of flowers he likes. Besides, it wouldn't be proper for you to show up empty-handed when others are giving him flowers, right?"

    Su Yu: "Roses then, just roses. They carry a good meaning and are safe choice."

    Fu Luoyin: "I won't send him roses."

    Su Yu: "Well, suit yourself, Second Brother Fu."

    Fu Luoyin had never given flowers to anyone before.

    He suffered from severe pollen allergies, except on the day of Chu Shihan's burial when he took antihistamines to place a bouquet of lilies at his grave.

    He couldn't recall where he had put the antihistamines, as such seldom-used medications usually ended up in the trash.

    He went to a pharmacy on the roadside to purchase some antihistamines, swallowing them down. The medication's effectiveness would last eight hours, precisely from now until midnight.

    He texted Lin Shuicheng, "Kitten, I'm coming over to give you something and pick you up for home?"

    Seeing no response from Lin Shuicheng, Fu Luoyin continued, "I'll wait for you until twelve, Lin Shuicheng. Shall I wait outside your house?"

    Still, there was no reply.

    Before arriving at Star University, Fu Luoyin went to a flower shop. With an expressionless face and a stern demeanor, he wandered around the store for a long time without revealing his purpose. Ordinary staff dared not approach him; they could only watch from a distance, awed by his tall, imposing figure that seemed to suggest a military background, exuding an aura that warned others to keep their distance.

    Finally, the owner of the shop stepped in, braving Fu Luoyin's chilly presence, and asked, "Sir, are you here to buy flowers? We have various flower arrangements suitable for lovers, parents, patients, and teachers. May I know which one you need?"

    Fu Luoyin's answer was slightly stiff, "For... my partner."

    The shop manager understood and promptly retrieved a large bouquet of crimson roses from the back. "If you're unsure about their preferences, how about roses? You can't go wrong with roses! From the looks of it, sir, you must be newly dating, huh? Most men are like this when they buy flowers for their partners for the first time."

    Fu Luoyin shook his head. "No, not roses. Not roses, but... something suitable for a partner."

    The manager scratched his head and pondered, "Well... what about sunflowers? Sunflowers symbolize silent love. Sir, perhaps—"

    Fu Luoyin's voice rose slightly, interrupting her urgently, "No, not sunflowers. Neither sunflowers nor roses."

    Fu Luoyin glanced around and continued to ask stiffly, "Is there… a flower that signifies a wish for him to return soon after being given?"

    The manager clapped his hands, beaming with joy. "Cherry blossoms! However, their petals are small. We have cherry blossom everlasting flowers in our store. Would you like to take a look?"

    Fu Luoyin nodded.

    The manager presented the finished everlasting flower to him.

    In the exquisite gift box, the flower resembled more of a pink lavender than cherry blossoms, forming a fluffy, soft mass akin to a cotton candy strawberry cloud.

    Fu Luoyin nodded again. "This one will do."

    The manager pulled up the payment page, ready to show the QR code for scanning. However, Fu Luoyin casually plucked a red rose from a nearby rack. "Also… add this one as well. I won't give it to him; I'll keep it and nurture it myself."

    The manager responded with a professional, polite smile. "Of course, the total comes to 472. Thank you for your patronage."

    Exiting the flower shop, Fu Luoyin reached for the gift box and inspected the pink, cloud-like flowers inside.

    He unwrapped the outer packaging of the rose, casually snapping off the excess stem and leaves, then struggled to fit it into the cherry blossom box. The vibrant red rose was instantly concealed by the pink cherry blossoms. Unless one looked closely, it would go unnoticed.

    Fu Luoyin strolled gradually towards the place where Lin Shuicheng now resided. He glanced at his phone, but there was still no response to his text message from Lin Shuicheng.


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