Surprise Resignation of Female Substitute Secretary

Chapter 23

The filming was going very smoothly. Su Tao and Xiao Shan had officially signed their variety show contract, and after Jiang Hao left, everyone got along very well. It seemed like everything was moving in a good direction, except that Su Tao had fallen into a predicament.

She was unable to get a date with Jiang Qi after all.

Sitting on a lounge chair by the poolside and hugging a pillow, Su Tao sighed as she flipped through the booking agreement she had confirmed three times. She took a sip of red wine, looking worried.

She had pulled all her connections and found out Jiang Qi's agency was already in contact with him. She had to make the first move. But Jiang Qi declined her invitation.

Su Tao regretted not getting Jiang Wan's personal number. She called Jiang Wan's agent but got hung up on with no explanation.

Su Tao scrolled through Jiang Qi's social media feed full of regret, and suddenly saw he had just posted something new - a poster that read "First Performance of Fengxing Band" with full body shots of four men, with Jiang Qi front and center.

Su Tao immediately perked up, found the time and location at the bottom of the poster, and sprang into action - she booked a bouquet online right away before heading to her room, satisfied.

Xie Jin, who was still posing in the pool, also took a sip of red wine and tapped his fingers rhythmically on the pool edge, looking at Su Tao unhappily as she kept staring at her phone.

Not until Su Tao went into her room did Xie Jin get out of the pool. He felt the night mountain chill.

He wrapped himself in a towel and headed indoors. Looking in the mirror at his fit physique and toned muscles, he couldn't understand why Su Tao didn't even glance his way.


The next day, Su Tao only went to the shoot for half a day. She didn't eat lunch and left early by car.

First she went to the florist to pick up the flowers she had ordered, then rushed to the location on the poster.

Since it was quite far, and the band was set to perform at 5pm, Su Tao only barely arrived at 4:30.

Everyone had already gone in. She was lucky to have bought a scalper's ticket at the entrance.

"You're marking this up ten times, that's too much," Su Tao complained after paying. She didn't expect scalpers for a college band where tickets were so expensive.

"Tickets sell out right away whenever Jiang Qi's performing!" The scalper retorted, in a good mood after selling all his tickets today. "You're not from around here huh? Jiang Qi's super famous at T University."

Su Tao didn't want to chat with him further and hurried inside with her ticket.

The scalper shook his head happily and turned to leave, but was stopped by a suited man. "What did that woman want from you just now?"

"Who, the one who bought the ticket?" The confused scalper asked.

"Do you have any more tickets left?"

"No, she got my last one."

"I'll pay ten times more."

Jin Chuiwen returned to the car, tapping the backseat armrest repeatedly, aggravating Xie Jin's heartbeat.

"Boss, Su Tao went in to see the concert. She paid ten times more to a scalper. There are no more tickets now."

The tapping stopped abruptly as Xie Jin's gloomy voice seemed to grit his teeth. "She bought flowers, expensive tickets, to see Jiang Qi's concert?"

Jin Chuiwen didn't even dare to look at his expression, and could only respond silently.

Sitting in the audience with her flowers, Su Tao finally saw Jiang Qi come on stage, amidst the deafening screams.

When she attended big concerts with Gu Yiyan, she always stayed separate from the crowds, at most waiting in the wings.

Being immersed among frenzied fans like today was a bit much for Su Tao.

Also, the venue today was very small, not much bigger than a nightclub dance floor. The screams on top of the music made her feel deaf.

At least the fans quieted down when Jiang Qi sang.

Having heard countless stars live, Su Tao found Jiang Qi's singing average.

But Jiang Qi was a natural born star - his stage charisma and inadvertently flirtatious gestures kept eliciting new waves of screams.

Su Tao became more confident in her plans for him, and started swaying her flowers to the beat.

Jiang Qi immediately noticed her in the crowd, since she seemed to be the only one with flowers.

After finishing a song, he came downstage and told his bandmates thoughtfully, "Don't you think older women are more desperate for love?"

His bandmates had no idea why he suddenly said that.

"Remember the hottest girl in the Art Department? I thought she'd be the easiest to seduce. But after meeting a few times, she only asked for my WeChat as a pretext to transfer me money."

"Oh, I remember her!" The drummer Big Bowl stroked his buzzcut and laughed. "The Art Department babe you deleted off WeChat after adding, who came yelling your name outside our dorm late at night! She really liked you, probably playing hard to get. Girls have to keep up appearances."

"Have you met a woman who voluntarily asked for your WeChat right after your first meal together?" Jiang Qi insinuated meaningfully.

"Isn't that normal? The girls you meet are all goddesses, they have an image to keep up. It makes sense for a regular girl to snatch you up right away." Big Bowl retorted, tuning his guitar strings.

Keyboardist Xu Xiang patted Jiang Qi's shoulder and asked curiously, "Which cougar added you on WeChat?"

The band had all changed into their next set outfits, ready to go onstage.

Taking advantage of the stage darkening and spotlight on the audience, Jiang Qi pointed at Su Tao with flowers and grimaced, "It's her. I rejected her invitation out yesterday but she still chased me down today."

The bandmates all looked over. Su Tao's oversized printed hoodie, tidy ponytail with loose strands naturally falling, glowing translucent skin under the lights, delicate pretty features, unconscious nibbling of her lips - altogether lent her vibrancy.

Especially those clear doe eyes, they were simply irresistible to straight men, looking sweet and demure, easily sparking protective instincts.

"Damn, you call that exquisite goddess an old auntie?"

"If you don't want her bro, I'll go for it."

"She's my type, don't try to steal her from me!"

Jiang Qi's expression suddenly darkened. He glanced left and right at his bandmates already in position, oblivious that the mic had turned on. He uttered lowly, "Shut up."

The spotlight abruptly lit up above him the instant he spoke. The cheering fans down below suddenly halted amidst his "Shut up", and the venue became dead silent.

Luckily the band reacted quickly, the drums kicked in right away, and the blaring music resumed. Only then did the hyped up fans recover, assuming Jiang Qi was just quieting them down.


The regular 3 hour concert ended, and Su Tao immediately ran backstage.

She patted her nearly deafened ears, feeling it took great effort just to hear herself.

Su Tao waited backstage until Jiang Qi finally came out, and went up to him all smiles with her flowers. "Congratulations on your successful show!"

But Jiang Qi's bandmates who didn't get any flowers were even more enthusiastic, greeting Su Tao chummily like they already knew her.

Su Tao wondered why they seemed familiar with her.

"Are you busy after this? Could I take you to dinner?" Su Tao unconsciously spoke louder to Jiang Qi, then patted her uncomfortable ears again.

Everyone smiled at her little gesture, finding her rather cute.

Jiang Qi's eyes glinted. He handed off the flowers and stepped towards Su Tao, pinching her earlobe and tugging it down dozens of times. His fingertips even reached around the back, pushing up along the edge.

Su Tao felt her ears grow warm, but it did seem less uncomfortable. Next her ears were covered by his palms, and the world went completely silent.

They held each other's gaze steadily for tens of seconds, Su Tao's bright eyes fixed on Jiang Qi the whole time. In the end it was Jiang Qi who averted his eyes first, letting go awkwardly.

Feeling much better, Su Tao looked at Jiang Qi gratefully. "Amazing, thanks."

"Let's go." Jiang Qi led the way out, but seeing Su Tao hadn't followed, he turned back. "What are you standing there for? Didn't you want to eat with me? We're going to dinner, you should join."

Su Tao uttered an "Oh" and ignored his condescending tone, happily following along.

The gathering was at a quiet bar. They ordered drinks and appetizers, and toasted to their successful show.

Su Tao took a small sip with them, feeling a little bored listening to the guys talk without a way to chime in. She stayed quiet and waited for their dinner to end, so she could discuss the contract with Jiang Qi.

In a corner not far away, a slim, long-fingered hand clenched the table edge forcefully, its knuckles white. Pitch dark eyes gleamed red, and teeth ground audibly together.

If not for Jin Chuiwen desperately holding him back, Xie Jin would've already charged over to flip their table.

"Boss, calm down."

"It's taking all I have not to kill someone."

He never took her to meet his friends, unwilling to let them even glimpse her beauty - he wanted to hide her away at home, to keep the knowledge of her loveliness all to himself.

Yet now she was easily taken by Jiang Qi to meet his friends, sitting together eating and drinking with a bunch of guys, utterly challenging his limits.

"Boss, you have to stay calm. We need to observe carefully, also..."

Also, Su Tao was ignoring the Boss right now. If he rashly interrupted her dinner with friends, it would only make her more annoyed at him.

Reminded of this, Xie Jin seemed to come to his senses too. His explosive anger alleviated slightly, and he hastily downed some cold beer to calm himself.

With the Boss dissuaded for now, Jin Chuiwen finally breathed a sigh of relief, and earnestly started observing to help the Boss.

"This kid really has skills to bring her to meet his friends so quickly. Things are moving along faster than expected."

"What's moving along?" Xie Jin's ominous tone sounded in Jin Chuiwen's ear. He narrowed his eyes waiting for him to continue.

Startled by the sudden scare, Jin Chuiwen regretted his casual commentary, and quickly shook his head.

"Speak!" Xie Jin insisted he elaborate clearly.

Forced to explain, Jin Chuiwen reluctantly did so. "When people are getting along, they naturally have to understand each other's social circles. Otherwise if they get into a fight, there's no one who can persuade them to make up. There'd be no way to find the other party..."

Jin Chuiwen belatedly realized he had inadvertently prodded a sore spot for the Boss. He hastily covered his mouth.

When Su Tao left last time, it was because the Boss didn't know any of her friends, and had no contacts for her close friends - that's why it was so hard to find her.

Xie Jin's deep eyes darkened further, as if also reminded of the year of agony.

He closed his eyes briefly, seemingly enlightened by Jin Chuiwen. "Find information on all her friends immediately, and get all their contacts."

He didn't want Su Tao to vanish from his life again.

Burdened with yet another tricky task, Jin Chuiwen secretly cursed his careless mouth and had no desire to speak further.

Checking the time on her phone, Su Tao was secretly growing anxious that it was almost 10pm. She worried there wouldn't be time to discuss with Jiang Qi alone, and that he'd be too drunk to discuss rationally.

"Pretty sister, let's exchange WeChats?"

Dawan had been secretly observing Su Tao for a long time. He knew well that Jiang Qi treated all girls the same - once he got them, he would lose interest. So Dawan boldly made the first move in front of everyone, asking for Su Tao's WeChat contact.

This signified that he had staked his claim on this girl first, and others could only get in line.

Su Tao was taken aback. She silently put down her phone and smiled gently yet aloofly, shifting the topic: "Are you all the same age?"

Everyone exchanged knowing smiles at Su Tao's small gesture of putting her phone away and firmly changing the subject. They pointed at Dawan and clinked glasses with him in turn, lamenting his rejected failure.

"Same age, sister. We're all in the same department," Xu Xiang replied with a smile, secretly laughing at Dawan.

Beside them, Jiang Qi raised his eyebrows slightly. His lips curved up arrogantly, radiating a self-satisfied sense of superiority.

It was as if he was saying, even women I'm not interested in can't be easily charmed by just anyone.

"Don't you need to go home early tonight?" Su Tao knew she was being annoying, but she was in a hurry to talk business with Jiang Qi. She had no choice but to play the bad guy and disrupt things.

"Sister, you're clearly a goody-two-shoes. How could you have fallen for Jiang Qi? Jiang Qi is known far and wide as a scumbag," Dawan said resentfully, not sparing anyone's feelings. He intentionally brought up a provocative topic.

Su Tao glanced at Jiang Qi. Feeling misunderstood, she was about to explain when a glass of alcohol was slid in front of her.

"Sister, you may not know, but there's an unwritten rule when pursuing Jiang Qi - you have to be able to hold your liquor. Down this glass and we'll help set you up with him."

Dawan smiled insincerely at Su Tao, then looked over at Jiang Qi. Jiang Qi merely glanced at him without stopping him. He even seemed somewhat amused to see Su Tao's reaction, emboldening Dawan's complacency in watching the show.

Su Tao's expression darkened as she sensed the trace of malice from these bratty kids. She looked at Jiang Qi and realized he had likely misunderstood her intentions too.

She pondered deeply for a moment.

If she explained now, would it make him lose face among his friends and become even more unwilling to see her?

After a brief struggle, Su Tao decided to play dumb and leave, then find another chance to explain clearly later.

Just as Su Tao had steeled her resolve, the glass of alcohol before her was suddenly taken away.

Xie Jin stood tall and graceful in front of her. His deep eyes swept around before finally settling on Su Tao's face. He tilted his wrist and slowly poured the contents of the glass onto the ground.

Everyone was stunned by the sudden emergence of this tall man and the oppressive aura he exuded. They didn't dare rashly question him for the moment.

Xie Jin restrained himself from smashing the empty glass onto the ground.

How dare they try to get his little Tao Er drunk! They must be tired of living!

Xie Jin took Su Tao's hand. His freezing gaze softened as he said in a low voice, "Let's go home."


Seated side by side with Xie Jin in the backseat of the car, Su Tao had been silent the entire time.

Xie Jin turned his head. With his anger already faded away, he looked at her anxiously, guessing her mood.

"Are you angry?"

Roused from her thoughts, Su Tao glanced at him and shook her head.

She was just worried about how to continue getting along with Jiang Qi. She also reflected on where she had done wrong, making him think she liked him.

She should have clarified her purpose from the start.

But luckily Jiang Qi's attitude was very clear - he didn't like her and was probably wondering how to get her to retreat tactfully.

Su Tao had been fretting endlessly. Should she explain or keep up the act? Would directly proposing a contract put him off?

This boy was too outstanding, too in demand. She wanted to build up some goodwill before broaching business.

So she had been too cautious at the start, inadvertently causing unnecessary misunderstandings.

Su Tao finally sorted out her thoughts and decided to speak frankly with him.

Before she could message Jiang Qi, he sent her a message first.

[Jiang Qi: Why not explain?]

Su Tao was overjoyed. He was still willing to listen to her explanation. Her slender fingers flew nimbly over the screen.

Beside her, Xie Jin stealthily shifted closer and closer until he could crane his neck to see her phone screen.

The screen abruptly went black.

Su Tao looked up and shot him a warning glance.

Xie Jin pursed his lips reluctantly and slid back over.