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    Hearing the sound of a beverage bottle being forcefully set down on the table, Lin Shuicheng turned around and noticed Fu Luoyin.

    Fu Luoyin was clearly enraged. Without saying a word, he swept his sleeves and stormed off.

    Su Yu wore a miserable expression, on the verge of tears. "Oh no, I'm finished... Sister-in-law, Negative Two will kill me!"

    After a moment of silence, Lin Shuicheng spoke calmly, "It's alright. I'll talk to him. It was me who chased after you, not the other way around. You can consider my words. If you have reservations about my suggestion due to morality or public opinion, perhaps you could try an open marriage. You can still live your previous life without putting too much pressure on yourself."

    Su Yu remained stunned. He looked at Lin Shuicheng in horror, trembling as he failed to utter a single word.

    Lin Shuicheng nodded gently at him before heading towards Fu Luoyin.

    Fu Luoyin walked swiftly. He exited the main hall of the hotel through a side door and stepped outside. Their hotel was near the sea, with the guest rooms situated close to the beach for the convenience of relaxation and leisure.

    The sand had been imported, fine and soft, and very clean. Beyond it was a greenhouse area separated by glass walls, resembling a beautiful garden.

    Fu Luoyin stopped in this spot and reached for a pack of mint cigarettes. However, after searching for a while, he couldn't find a lighter. Then, a hand appeared in front of him, offering a lighter.

    Fu Luoyin gazed at that hand.

    Lin Shuicheng's hands were long and elegant, slightly too pale, soft to the touch when held. Occasionally, he felt as if this person had no bones, so unbelievably pliable that each time he couldn't help but crave more while worrying about damaging Lin Shuicheng.

    On that dark night, he watched as the man before him leaned in, taking the cigarette from between his fingers. This left him slightly dizzy, a sensation more intoxicating than nicotine addiction, more surreal than being drunk. He couldn't articulate the kind of joy it brought; just like then, he held back gently, suppressing his emotions carefully, not daring to dwell too deeply, for it felt like a fragile ray of light that would dissipate with a mere breath.

    These were the hands he once held tightly and kissed fervently.

    Fu Luoyin didn't reach for the lighter. Instead, he crushed the freshly lit cigarette in his palm, turning away from Lin Shuicheng's gaze.

    His voice was calm: "Is this amusing to you, Lin Shuicheng?"

    Lin Shuicheng looked at him for a moment before replying, "I didn't mean it, I'm sorry. I didn't expect you to come so quickly."

    "Who the hell cares if it was intentional or not!" Fu Luoyin erupted suddenly. He turned his head, his eyes bloodshot. After that outburst, he quickly regained his composure, regaining his earlier calmness.

    He finally lifted his gaze, locking onto Lin Shuicheng's—Lin Shuicheng's expression remained indifferent.

    With a hoarse voice, Fu Luoyin said, "So you never really liked me. You could say you want to pursue my brother just two weeks after breaking up with me... What do you think of me, Lin Shuicheng?"

    He sensed his voice on the verge of breaking but stubbornly held back, forcing himself to stay strong as he asked, "What do you think of me?"

    "..." Lin Shuicheng lowered his gaze. "I'm sorry."

    Indeed, he had nothing to explain.

    During those two years, he had treated Fu Luoyin as Chu Shihan's substitute. Even though Fu Luoyin hadn't taken him seriously from the start, it was still not a proud act. It was one of the mistakes he had made.

    And now, all those mistakes needed to be corrected; things should return to their normal course.

    His straightforward admission left Fu Luoyin speechless.

    "You used to..."

    After a long while, Fu Luoyin whispered, "Back then, you were clearly very fond of me."

    He took a deep breath and spoke as if in a trance, "You liked me. You cooked for me, waited for me after work, you..." He gradually trailed off.

    "There's no need to take it seriously," Lin Shuicheng said. "You're an excellent person, Fu Luoyin. It's I who am not worthy of your affection."

    He continued to look at him calmly and gently, awaiting his response. This tranquility was, in fact, the harshest judgment, like a basin of icy water poured over his head, extinguishing the blazing fire within.

    A hiss of white steam rolled over, carrying bone-chilling cold and scorching heat that seared into the heart. The alternating sensations were utterly unbearable.

    It was a piercing pain.

    Suddenly, Fu Luoyin realized that this was one of the rare times Lin Shuicheng had called his name.

    He drew in a deep breath, seemingly at a loss for words due to anger.

    Lin Shuicheng glanced at him before turning back towards the hotel. However, just as he turned, someone grabbed his shoulder and pulled him back by the waist!

    Fu Luoyin pressed him against the glass wall, reaching out to grasp his chin.

    Forced to look up slightly, Lin Shuicheng met his gaze.

    Fu Luoyin's eyes were deep and dark, filled with smoldering rage and an intense obsession.

    Involuntarily, Lin Shuicheng sought support behind him, but all he could touch was the solid yet transparent glass wall. Though the wall was sturdy, its suspended transparency made him feel unstable. He instinctively clutched at Fu Luoyin's sleeve, only to have his hand caught and held above his head by Fu Luoyin.

    It was an incredibly intimate position, one that left Lin Shuicheng completely immobile and at a disadvantage.

    Lin Shuicheng spoke calmly, "If you want to, let's go back to the room."

    Suddenly, the hand that was being held felt a slight pain — Fu Luoyin had tightened his grip in that instant, as if he were venting his anger, and his voice carried a chill, "… Do you think I care about sleeping with someone like you? I can have anyone I want…"

    "Did you think I liked you, Lin Shuicheng?" Fu Luoyin shot back, then laughed bitterly, "I haven't had enough of you yet. I haven't even agreed to break up, so what gives you the right to make that decision on your own? Let me tell you, I don't care, and you're not going anywhere. Su Yu is my brother, and Han is just some rich guy. Don't think I'm powerless."

    Lin Shuicheng looked at him for a moment, suddenly feeling a wave of exhaustion.

    There was no fear or sadness in his gaze, and Fu Luoyin found himself unable to read Lin Shuicheng's expression, because the look in Lin Shuicheng's eyes was incredibly gentle, almost tender and pitiful.

    Lin Shuicheng whispered softly, "Stop liking me, Fu Luoyin. I won't be coming back. Once the storm passes, I'll return home."

    "… What?" Fu Luoyin was taken aback and asked.

    Lin Shuicheng questioned him, "You didn't cancel the flight to Dongtong, did you?"

    "What flight?" Fu Luoyin remained dazed, "You booked a flight back to Dongtong? Lin Deng is in Star City, why would you go back when there's no one at home?"

    Lin Shuicheng looked at him thoughtfully for a moment, then chuckled mockingly, "Never mind, the storm affected the flights. It was unpredictable."

    Lin Shuicheng gently withdrew his hand, stepping away from Fu Luoyin.

    Fu Luoyin found that his thoughts were always drawn back to Lin Shuicheng. Despite starting out in control, he was always surpassed by Lin Shuicheng in the end.

    When Lin Shuicheng mentioned the flights to Dongtong City, Fu Luoyin searched and discovered that all direct flights from Star City to Dongtong had been canceled due to weather conditions.

    Did Lin Shuicheng think he was afraid of him running away, so he cut off this escape route?

    Did he look like someone who enjoyed forcing others?

    Almost amused by his anger, Fu Luoyin then rationalized: The cancellations of flights to Dongtong City were indeed unusual. Although it was currently a peak period for rain and snow, only that particular flight route heading southward had been suspended.

    It wasn't entirely unreasonable for Lin Shuicheng to suspect him.

    He called Zhou Heng, asking for help in investigating the issue with the Dongtong City flights.

    Afterward, he felt as if all his energy had been drained. With both hands covering his face, he took a deep breath.

    Unlike a few years ago, he didn't show weakness or vulnerability in front of Lin Shuicheng. This time, he wasn't heartbroken, nor did he lose face.

    He did it exceptionally well.

    Su Yu felt like he was in a dream, an entire day filled with surreal moments.

    Drifting around the venue in a daze, he finally spotted Dong Shuoye, grasping at straws. He pulled him aside mysteriously and, while nibbling on a chicken leg, whispered, "The world is about to end! Can you guess why?"

    Dong Shuoye sipped his champagne nonchalantly, pondering for a moment. "What has Lin Shuicheng done to Minus Two this time?"

    With a mournful expression, Su Yu continued chewing on his leg of chicken. "Sis-in-law confessed to me! No, wait, he said he could pursue me! Or rather, he asked if I wanted to be with him, even offering to help manage our family business..."

    Dong Shuoye choked on his drink.

    Glancing at him, Su Yu covered his face and said, "The thing is, I actually found Sis-in-law's words quite reasonable! But that's not the reason the world is ending... The reason is that Minus Two overheard us."

    Still coughing, Dong Shuoye looked at him with an unusual flicker of surprise in his eyes. Clearly, he had never expected such a turn of events. He asked, "So what do you plan to do? Lin Shuicheng is the one Minus Two is chasing after."

    Scratching his head, Su Yu replied, "I can't possibly agree to Sis-in-law's proposal! I just wanted to share this with you."

    Beyond the surreal feeling, Su Yu couldn't help but feel a secret delight. "But the fact that Sis-in-law finds me attractive makes me so happy, even if it seems like he's just returning a favor or looking for someone to settle down with... I'm still thrilled!"

    Dong Shuoye glanced at him and said, "Immature."

    Su Yu sighed. "Forget it. Negative Two won't be angry with me, but he might be upset with Sister-in-law. By the way, where did you go just now? Why were you chatting with that President Runsheng the whole time?"

    "Diplomatic small talk, we seemed to click. He might be able to lend a hand if your family ever needs anything." Dong Shuoye handed Su Yu an old man's business card from Lu Shengwen's family. "That old fellow is cunning and smooth. He wants a monopoly on clinical pharmaceuticals. I saw Aunt Yan talking to him for a long time. They seemed to be getting along, but he's not easy to persuade. His family has connections in the former Middle East branch, which is far from us. It's not like there are many people who can influence him."

    Su Yu muttered, "As much as it's uncertain, if they don't cooperate with us, our family's clinical trials might really be doomed. I'll... I'll still try my best."

    He stared at the business card and sighed deeply.

    When Lin Shuicheng returned, the table was already in chaos. After the MC wished the guest of honor a happy birthday, everyone moved freely to get food and chat.

    Su Yu was still by the same table, while Dong Shuoye and Yan Zi were seated nearby. Xia Ran and Fu Luoyin were nowhere to be seen.

    Su Yu held champagne and tried hard to persuade Lu Shengwen to continue their conversation. As the saying goes, one doesn't hit a smiling face. Su Yu had a clean-cut, obedient appearance that elders found endearing.

    Just as Lu Shengwen was about to agree to "chat more," Fu Xue interrupted.

    Smiling, Fu Xue approached them with her wine glass. "Little Fish, how long have you been talking to President Lu? Why don't you give us a chance? We at Yangfeng Nano have long admired President Lu's reputation. Your clinical trials on Nano Clear Clot are the best. We'd love to learn from you and discuss improvement methods. We've recently developed a new generation of clot-clearing robots. If President Lu is interested, we'd be happy to send you a few thousand sets to test out?"

    Upon hearing this, Su Yu and Yan Zi's expressions turned sour.

    The nanoclear thrombosis technology had always been an area of competition between the Lu and Su families. The Su family had fallen behind in both market share and clinical effectiveness, causing the suppliers to change their contract models due to the Lu family's gradual monopoly. In two years, all suppliers in the market would have to sign exclusive contracts with the Lu family, effectively pushing the Su family out of the game – without access to raw materials, how could they conduct clinical trials?

    Especially since this was the Su family's territory; Fu Xue's actions made her stance clear. She was deliberately making them uncomfortable!

    Although the Su family had invited many guests with different or even hostile stances, it was inevitable that there might be confrontations. However, no one expected it to happen so quickly.

    The atmosphere turned chilly.

    In the distance, Xia Ran tilted his head to ask Bai Yiyi, "What's going on? What is Sister Fu Xue doing?"

    Bai Yiyi whispered in his ear, "She's helping you get back at them. You know Su Yu has never liked you. Didn't you hear him subtly putting us down just now? Our capabilities may be smaller, and our family businesses aren't as big as those in Star City's elite circle, but that doesn't mean we should just take their abuse. President Lu used to be in charge of the old Middle East division; they can't possibly have that much influence!"

    Xia Ran frowned. "That won't do. Today is Aunt Yan Zi's birthday—"

    He was about to go over and pull Fu Xue back when Bai Yiyi suddenly grabbed his hand. "Ran Ran, it's your kindness that allows that Lin person to take advantage! You saw how sulky you were today – completely under that Lin person's spell. Don't you feel terrible about it?"

    Xia Ran was taken aback.

    Bai Yiyi commented, "This matter has nothing to do with you. If you go now, it'll only make Yan Zi and Su Yu think less of you. Fu Xue is already the villain here; don't get involved unnecessarily. Yan Zi seems to like you, right? You gave her the right tea set. Besides, Su Yu is close friends with Fu Luoyin. That's what truly matters. When it comes to giving gifts, look at what that Lin person brought. I just took a glance, and it seemed to be an ordinary medical book, tsk."

    Xia Ran was about to speak when his attention was diverted by some movement nearby.

    In the crowd, Lin Shuicheng approached with two glasses of champagne in hand.

    All eyes were on them, and many pairs of eyes were fixed on this side. Amidst the tension and hostility, the entrance of a cool and handsome young man immediately drew everyone's attention.

    No one had ever denied Lin Shuicheng's striking appearance – his peach blossom eyes, red teardrop mole, and captivating looks with a hint of sharpness. Even though few people knew him, those present couldn't help but pay extra attention to him.

    He strolled over as if nothing was amiss, seemingly unaware of the situation at hand. He cut through the awkward silence, moving through the crowd.

    Placing a glass of champagne in front of Su Yu, he then sat down beside him.

    Ignoring Fu Xue, Lu Shengwen, and others standing, he casually carved a perfectly cooked steak on his plate into bite-sized portions, drizzled sauce over them, and handed it to Su Yu. "Here, you must be tired from all the running around today. Eat more."

    Su Yu: "…"

    Why did Lin Shuicheng appear at this moment?

    He felt as if his scalp was about to burst, making his tone sound weak, helpless, and pitiful: "Sister-in-law..."

    Lin Shuicheng glanced at him, a hint of a smile playing on his lips.

    Just then, Lu Shengwen, who had been staring at him intently, finally recalled something. He pointed excitedly at Lin Shuicheng, "Ah... You! Teacher Little Lin, you're actually here too?"

    Lin Shuicheng turned his head slightly and looked at him calmly, tilting it a bit.

    "I am..." Lu Shengwen rubbed his hands together, suddenly forgetting everything else. He pulled a chair and plopped down directly across from Lin Shuicheng. "Runsheng Pharmaceutical, Runsheng Pharmaceutical! Do you still remember collaborating with us on two organic synthetic nerve medications? It's the company you requested a sample from a few days ago!"

    Lin Shuicheng nodded. "Yes, I remember. Thank you for the medicine."


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