Since It’s All Out in the Open Now, Come Sit Beside Me

In Jiang City, several upscale hotels were concentrated in the center of the city. Wei Lai’s small condo was located in the heart of the city, where every inch of land is precious. With a modest area of less than 70 square meters, this condo was purchased by her dad 20 years ago when prices were low. Now over 25 years of age, her dad had renovated the condo after Wei Lai graduated from university, making it convenient for her daily commute.

Tonight’s dinner venue was less than two kilometers away from her condo, giving her plenty of time to get ready.

Half of her closet was now empty. She had dealt with all the dresses and clothes that Zhang Yanxin had gifted her. Anything that could be sold was sold, and anything that needed to be thrown away was thrown away.

Now, there wasn’t a single formal dress left in her closet, only a coffee-colored maxi dress suitable for tonight’s occasion—the one she had splurged on for Zhang Yanxin’s birthday.

After much hesitation, Wei Lai ultimately reached out and took down the maxi dress.

After changing into the dress and applying suitable makeup, she ordered a ride before leaving. For tonight’s occasion, she was certain there would be no escaping from drinking and taking a taxi was more economical than hiring a driver.

I’m on my way. How about you?” Zhao Yihan sent a message.

Wei Lai: “Just left home. I should arrive before you.

Tonight, Zhao Yihan was accompanying her superior to a social gathering, bringing Wei Lai along under false pretenses. She had consulted with her superior, asking if it was possible to bring an extra person along, and her superior had no objections upon hearing that it was Wei Lai.

Wei Lai was not only outstanding in appearance but also smooth in socializing. With her around, things always seemed to go more smoothly, so her superior was happy to bring along someone like her for social gatherings.

“There are quite a few people tonight,” her superior remarked as they entered the hotel elevator.

He asked again, “Why hasn’t your sister arrived yet?”

“She said she should arrive before me. Let me ask again,” Zhao Yihan messaged Wei Lai, but there was no reply from her even when Zhao Yihan stepped out of the elevator.

Superior: “Let’s go in first. Send her the private room number.”

Zhao Yihan had already given Wei Lai the specific address earlier.

As they spoke, they reached the door of the private room. The waiter opened it and led them inside.

This was the hotel’s largest private room, capable of accommodating twenty-five or six people for dining without any issue. Zhao Yihan hadn’t expected so many people to have already arrived; the large dining table was almost full.

With so many people, she couldn’t quite take it all in at once.

He Wancheng greeted her superior and gestured for them to take a seat. Their company had been collaborating with He Wancheng on a project, and they had been meeting frequently lately, so he had invited them along.

Arriving last, her superior apologized to He Wancheng and said, “There’s one more person who will be here shortly.”

He Wancheng didn’t mind and smiled gently, “No worries. I know you had a meeting this afternoon, and the project is more important. Tonight is just about getting together for dinner; it’s not about business.”

In the world of the big shots, “grabbing dinner” might truly mean just that—eating and chatting casually. But for them, it was a rare opportunity to seize, and Zhao Yihan dared not slack off even in the slightest.

She placed her purse behind her. Feeling a gaze on her, she followed her intuition and glanced over, locking eyes with that person for a moment and leaving her stunned for a few seconds.

She never expected Zhang Yanxin to be there too.

And beside him sat none other than Wei Lai’s former boss, Mu Di.

Maintaining her composure, Zhao Yihan reached for her purse and took out her phone to message Wei Lai: “Where are you? Zhang Yanxin and Mu Di are both here. Don’t come.

Wei Lai was waiting for the elevator in the hotel lobby: “I’ll be there in a moment.

Zhao Yihan blamed herself: “It’s my fault. I just saw them. I didn’t know before. They’re sitting together. Are you sure you still want to come?

Wei Lai: “Does He Wancheng know that your superior brought another person along?

Zhao Yihan answered truthfully: “Yes.

Wei Lai: “Then there’s no problem. I’ll be there even if I have to face the music.

Zhao Yihan had secured this opportunity for her. If she backed out at the last minute, it would reflect poorly on Zhao Yihan’s superior in front of He Wancheng. She couldn’t be so ungrateful.

Wei Lai glanced down at her dress ironically.

But now, going back to change clothes was simply out of the question. Wei Lai comforted herself, resigned to the situation.

Upon entering the private room, Wei Lai realized she was the last to arrive. Dozens of pairs of eyes turned to her simultaneously. The fact that so many people had been waiting for her, including several business tycoons, made this moment undoubtedly the most glorious in her 25 years of life.

Fortunately, she had grown accustomed to being the center of attention since childhood; otherwise, it would have been overwhelming for most people.

Zhao Yihan’s superior waved at her. “Xiao* Wei, over here. We’ve been waiting for you.”

Wei Lai walked calmly toward the empty seat next to Zhao Yihan. She had seen He Wancheng once before at a party in Jiang City. He was in his 50s, dignified and noble.

Looking around the table full of people, she glanced toward the main seat, preparing to greet He Wancheng, the host of tonight’s dinner.

However, as her gaze swept across, she saw a young man with a powerful aura at the main seat. His features were sharp, and he was looking down at his phone, replying to messages.

Without dwelling on it, Wei Lai discreetly withdrew her gaze and smiled as she turned to He Wancheng, saying, “Mr. He, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I apologize for being late; I’ll make sure to punish myself with three drinks later.”

“You’re not late at all. Xiao Wei, right?” He Wancheng replied politely, “Take a seat.”

For someone like her, a minor character, the wealthy wouldn’t even bother to make things difficult for her. Wei Lai sat down confidently.

From entering the private room to taking her seat, her gaze didn’t wander around. She wasn’t curious about where Zhang Yanxin and Mu Di were seated. Thankfully, the table was large enough, and there were enough people present that she didn’t need to greet each person individually.

At this moment, the focus of the table shifted toward the main seat. Zhao Yihan leaned in and whispered, “You have a new boyfriend?”

Wei Lai looked bewildered. “Huh?”

Zhao Yihan knew rumors weren’t reliable and continued to whisper to her, “Before you entered the private room, someone asked me who your new wealthy boyfriend is.”

Wei Lai spoke in a hushed tone with Zhao Yihan, “What did that person say exactly? What were their exact words?”

The original words were too lengthy, so Zhao Yihan typed them out on her phone: “They said rumors are circulating in their social circle that you’ve hooked up with a big shot from Beijing. They’re spreading it with all the details, claiming they’ve even seen you two on dates.

The more she heard, the more absurd it sounded.

Since resigning, Wei Lai had practically been holed up at home almost every day, only going out a few times during the period when she was selling the villa. Tonight was the first time she had dressed up so grandly for an occasion.

“Who started this rumor? I don’t even know any big shots from Beijing. I haven’t had the mood to even sell the villa, let alone…” dates.

As she spoke, she suddenly realized. Among the buyers she had met for open houses, there was one from Beijing who had investments in Jiang City Industrial Park. She had ridden in a flashy Beijing-plated car a few times.

Some busybodies had tried to dig up information, eager to gossip about who Wei Lai might have hooked up with, but unfortunately, they couldn’t uncover the true owner of the car’s license plate.

The inability to find any information only fueled the speculation, making the rumors about her dating a big shot from Beijing more intense.

Zhang Yanxin ended up believing these rumors to some extent. After being together for over two years, he still found Wei Lai’s looks pleasing to the eye. With her looks, dating a big shot from Beijing wouldn’t be difficult for her.

From the moment Wei Lai entered the private room until she took her seat, Zhang Yanxin had only glanced at her once, noting that she was wearing the same dress she had worn on his birthday. Except for Wei Lai, when he broke up with his previous girlfriends, he never felt indebted to anyone. No matter how much he tried to compensate her, he still felt he owed her.

She was the only one he had truly cared about and the only one he still thought about after the breakup.

The round of toasts began at the table, and Zhang Yanxin raised his glass to the person sitting at the main seat. “President Zhou, let’s play basketball together when you have time.”

Zhou Sujin nodded, giving him face, and downed the contents of his glass in one gulp.

Once again, Zhang Yanxin noticed the watch on Zhou Sujin’s wrist. He had found it odd when they shook hands and exchanged greetings earlier. The price of this watch didn’t match Zhou Sujin’s status.

He had heard that Zhou Sujin was fond of collecting watches, so there was no reason for him to wear a watch that lacked collectible value.

After toasting Zhou Sujin, Zhang Yanxin then raised his glass to He Wancheng. His parents were close friends with He Wancheng, so he was here to show support and didn’t need to curry favor with him. After toasting the two most important figures at the table, he set down his glass. Wei Lai’s sudden appearance had dampened his interest in everything, leaving him with no desire to socialize.

“Wei Lai, let’s have a drink together. What have you been busy with lately?” Mu Di spoke in a familiar tone, raising her glass to Wei Lai.

In this kind of setting, no one could afford to ignore a toast.

Wei Lai reciprocated by lightly touching the rim of her glass to her lips without actually making contact with the wine. She pretended to take a sip, then casually responded to Mu Di’s question, “Just busy with random things every day.”

Zhang Yanxin hadn’t expected Mu Di to toast Wei Lai. Given the relationship between the three of them, it was best to stay silent and pretend not to know each other.

At least five or six people at the table were aware of their past relationship and were eagerly waiting to see some drama unfold.

And he despised being the subject of gossip the most.

He casually picked up a piece of meat with his chopsticks and placed it on Mu Di’s plate. “Have some,” he said while giving her a meaningful look, signaling to end the conversation with Wei Lai.

Mu Di smiled and said nothing. She picked up the piece of meat and placed it in her mouth, but she didn’t taste anything. His concern still lay with Wei Lai, worried that she might be embarrassed publicly.

Zhang Yanxin raised his glass, now openly looking at Wei Lai. When they parted ways, he hadn’t given her any explanation, not a single word of justification, not even a face-to-face apology.

Today, he took the initiative to toast her. “I heard you’re in a relationship now. Congrats.”

His thoughts were simple; he was already engaged to Mu Di and would soon be married. Wei Lai had also gotten into a new relationship, so they could each move on with their lives.

But when these words reached Wei Lai’s ears, given their different perspectives, they took on a different meaning entirely.

Wei Lai couldn’t understand. They had already broken up, and she had already resigned. She hadn’t clung to him. Yet, one after another, they all seemed to come after her, publicly provoking her and making it difficult for her.

Why couldn’t we just treat each other as if we were dead to one another?

She seriously began to doubt her ability to judge people. How could I have been in a relationship with such a narrow-minded man for two years?

The ring on the ring finger of the hand he held his glass with caught her attention.

Before they broke up, she had been naive enough to look at wedding rings. She had thought they would get married, even considering which pair of matching rings would look best on them.

Wei Lai forcibly halted her thoughts, raising her glass with a forced smile from across the table.

“What are you all talking about?” Just as He Wancheng finished speaking with the person next to him, he heard something about “being in a relationship,” and he asked, “Who’s in a relationship?”

Zhao Yihan’s superior stepped in to help Wei Lai out. “It’s our Xiao Wei.”

He Wancheng didn’t know Wei Lai’s name. As the host of the dinner, he graciously raised his glass, saying, “Here, Xiao Wei, a toast to you. Congratulations.”

He then added politely, “Next time, bring your boyfriend along for dinner.”

“Thank you, President He.” Wei Lai then downed the entire glass of wine in one gulp.

Just when she thought the matter of her relationship had been put to rest, there were still people at the table who enjoyed stirring up trouble. One of them had just asked Zhao Yihan about Wei Lai’s new boyfriend but didn’t get any information. Driven by curiosity, he decided to ask Wei Lai directly, “Which big shot from Beijing is our beauty’s boyfriend? Many friends have asked me about it. But, how could I possibly know? I’m just asking on their behalf today.”

Wei Lai: “……”

It seemed that trouble followed her wherever she went, and there was no escaping it.

Just now, He Wancheng had toasted her, congratulating her on having a boyfriend. By not denying it, she had implicitly confirmed that she was in a relationship. Now, she couldn’t deny having a boyfriend. But if she said her boyfriend wasn’t some big shot from Beijing, people would laugh at her, mocking her for not being able to find someone better than Zhang Yanxin.

Only if she appeared to be doing better than before would they feel unsettled.

Admitting her own pride, she didn’t want to lose to Zhang Yanxin and Mu Di. At least for tonight, in front of them, she didn’t want to lose. She also wanted to stand up for herself.

But a big shot from Beijing? She didn’t know anyone like that.

Just when she didn’t know how to continue this charade, a name flashed in her mind—the person who bought her watch.

She remembered clearly that the store manager had mentioned that person was unmarried and didn’t have a girlfriend.

With no more time to weigh her options, Wei Lai smiled and, without considering the consequences, said, “It’s Zhou Sujin.”

As her words fell, the room was so silent one could hear a pin drop.

Everyone at the table, including He Wancheng, looked at the man sitting at the main seat in astonishment. Zhang Yanxin almost knocked over the glass of wine next to him in surprise, but he managed to catch it just in time, instinctively gripping it tightly.

Wei Lai was dumbfounded, her gaze following everyone else’s to the man at the main seat. She met his cold, intriguing eyes, finally seeing his face clearly. He leaned back in his chair, exuding an air of nobleness and indifference. Despite his relaxed posture, his presence was commanding, and he was looking at her with undivided attention.

The fact that He Wancheng, the host of the dinner, had relinquished the main seat to this man spoke volumes about his identity.

Tonight, all her attention had been diverted by Zhang Yanxin’s wedding ring and Mu Di’s toasts. Wei Lai hadn’t bothered to inquire about the identity of the man at the main seat—a serious social blunder, one she had just committed. She began to reflect on why she had come here in the first place.

For the opportunity Zhao Yihan had fought for her.

For networking and building connections for herself.

But what had she done?

The man continued to gaze at her, and Wei Lai had a sinking feeling. Was he Zhou Sujin’s friend? Relative? Or…

She didn’t dare to think any further.

Sitting next to her, Zhao Yihan silently took a deep breath. Tonight, things had taken a turn for the worse.

She regretted it deeply. She shouldn’t have let Wei Lai attend this dinner. Not only had she lost face in front of Zhang Yanxin, but she had also offended Zhou Sujin. Posing as someone’s girlfriend and flaunting it was a serious breach of etiquette, touching upon a major taboo.

“He’s him,” She whispered to Wei Lai, covering her mouth with her hand.

The CEO of Kunchen Group was Zhou Sujin. Wei Lai might not have noticed the mention of the Kunchen Group earlier at the table. Zhao Yihan had just noticed that Zhou Sujin was wearing the watch Wei Lai had sold. Their seats were pretty far away, so Wei Lai might not have noticed.

He Wancheng saw that Zhou Sujin didn’t deny it, and Wei Lai, who wasn’t on his guest list, suddenly appeared at the dinner, hadn’t expected her to be Zhou Sujin’s girlfriend. Everything suddenly made sense.

He congratulated with a smile, “Come on, you have to have a drink. I heard the project in Jiang City has been handed over to Lu An. I was wondering why you suddenly came to Jiang City; it turns out you’re here to see your girlfriend.”

Zhou Sujin smiled, offering no explanation.

He had come to Jiang City this time to handle matters related to the project. Although the project had been handed over to Lu An, he lacked experience and had mishandled some things, so he had to come clean up the mess.

As for coming to see his girlfriend?

He didn’t even know when he had acquired a girlfriend in Jiang City.

As He Wancheng raised his glass, Zhou Sujin clinked it lightly and took a sip of his drink, tilting his head slightly. At that moment, his gaze swept over Wei Lai.

Wei Lai had never been in such a humiliating situation before, nor had she ever done anything so absurd. For a moment, she was at a loss on how to handle herself. She had initially wanted to flaunt and vent her frustration in front of Zhang Yanxin and Mu Di, but she ended up making a fool of herself in front of the real Zhou Sujin.

She glanced at Zhou Sujin again, but his expression revealed nothing—she couldn’t discern his emotions. All she could do was wait quietly for his judgment.

Zhou Sujin turned to the person beside him and said, “Please switch seats.” Then, he looked at Wei Lai and said to her, “Since it’s all out in the open now, come sit next to me.”

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