Surprise Resignation of Female Substitute Secretary

Chapter 31



Jiang Qi's expression froze for a moment as he suddenly realized that the woman across from him was not just an obedient cat, but a lurking tiger.

Before capturing her prey, she was good at using her docile and tranquil appearance to confuse her enemies, lowering their attention and vigilance. Then she would secretly get close to her prey before baring her claws once she had captured it.

Most importantly, her claws were not sharp. She could seize you firmly without making a sound.

Jiang Qi's chopsticks remained unmoving in his hand as his bright, limpid eyes gazed at Su Tao, filled with tender feelings that even he was unaware of.

Behind Su Tao, Xie Jin used the potted plant on the table to cover most of his face. His dark eyes, filled with anger, glared fiercely at Jiang Qi as if trying to tear him apart with his gaze.

Jiang Qi felt the malice coming from the other side. He removed his gaze from Su Tao's face and looked up, meeting Xie Jin's sinister eyes.

When looking at him for the first time, he was very refreshing.

Jiang Qi steadied his mind and withdrew his gaze. After pondering for a moment, he seemed to have thought of something and the corners of his lips curved up imperceptibly.

He put on plastic gloves and picked up a piece of fried puff pastry, bringing it to Su Tao's mouth.

Su Tao instinctively dodged back a little. She looked at Jiang Qi and reached out to take it, but was caught off guard when he stuffed it into her mouth instead.

Seeing her puffed up little face and wide doe eyes, Jiang Qi's eyes unconsciously softened with laughter.

What was meant to provoke Xie Jin instead made him feel the joy of feeding her, and he stuffed another piece into her mouth.

Having been stuffed with a mouthful of food in succession, Su Tao could only let out muffled protests.

Jiang Qi's cheerful laughter aggravated Xie Jin. Fury burned in his eyes as he abruptly stood up, the movement of the chair making a considerable amount of noise that attracted Su Tao's attention.

Xie Jin strode forward, reaching Su Tao's side in two large steps. His fierce, sinister gaze shot towards Jiang Qi, magma-like anger gushing out, as if determined to shred his enemy regardless of collateral damage.

"Who allowed you to feed her?"

His dark voice made the air-conditioned restaurant feel even cooler. The aura of death he emitted caused the man behind Jiang Qi to shift his chair forward, afraid of getting splashed if things escalated.

At that moment, Xie Jin was like a red-hot branding iron - a single touch would mean torn flesh.

But a small, fair hand grabbed his arm, and a voice as cool as a spring showered his heart. "What are you doing here?"

With just a sentence from Su Tao, his scorching temperature was soundlessly extinguished. The anger ultimately dissipated into a wisp of smoke, which he waved away with a slap of his hand, afraid it would choke her.

"...Just passing by."

"Passing by?" Jiang Qi's voice chimed in at the right time, seeming puzzled as he said, "I saw you in the apartment building across the way? And you were holding binoculars."

He emphasized each word of "binoculars", making Su Tao's expression change as she looked questioningly at Xie Jin, as if asking about the veracity of his words.

Xie Jin's Adam's apple bobbed and he only hesitated for a moment before Su Tao understood.

She didn't raise her voice, unwilling to affect other diners or become gossip fodder. In a volume only the two of them could hear, she asked him, "Were you peeping on me?"

Xie Jin quickly explained, "No, I knew this brat was coming so I had Jin Chuanwen buy the binoculars. I was monitoring him, not peeping on you."

Xie Jin's explanation did not mollify Su Tao. On the contrary, her expression grew colder. "So you did move into the office building across from mine?"

Xie Jin's long lashes quivered slightly. With a powerless sigh, his low voice carried faint resignation. "I just wanted to be a little closer to you."

"I hope you move out immediately, otherwise I'll call the police."

Su Tao threw down these words and left the restaurant without even eating, grabbing her bag.

Jiang Qi also got up and walked past Xie Jin, purposefully quirking the corner of his lips in a meaningful smile, full of provocation.

He caught up to Su Tao and walked by her side, smiling brightly.

Xie Jin watched them from the window, unconsciously clenching his fists tightly.


The "Road to Debut" audition program was being recorded in Beicheng. It pioneered the first large-scale audition variety show jointly held by over fifty entertainment companies, dozens of media outlets, and multiple online platforms.

Popular male and female idol groups' celebrities were invited as guests, entertainment and media platforms acted as judges, and ultimately a boy group and girl group would be selected.

Jingyang Entertainment was also among the invited and Liang Ke naturally took on the role of judge, participating in the program from start to finish.

Su Tao brought her two artists, Jiang Qi and Xue Xinzi, to the recording site.

Today was the on-site audition. Combined, over a hundred males and females from various entertainment companies were invited to participate. It was the first episode of the program, with a preliminary rehearsal done without guests and judges the day before. Today, recording started directly.

Thanks to Liang Ke's connections, Jingyang had a dedicated dressing room. Liang Ke's four artists and Xue Xinzi quietly prepared themselves, while only Jiang Qi sat leisurely playing on his phone.

Most of them were newcomers without any fame, so they didn't have personal assistants.

The artists who advanced through today's audition would directly enter the training camp, so they didn't need assistants either. She had come to lead the team herself.

Su Tao wore a loose white shirt tucked into her pants, showcasing her slender waist.

Carrying six coffees in her hand, she strode rapidly towards the waiting room on slender legs.

She didn't know if the hotel was uncomfortable or they were too nervous and slept too late last night, but aside from Jiang Qi, the other five were somewhat bloated. The coffee was to help the artists de-puff.

As Su Tao approached the dressing rooms, a door suddenly opened without warning. As Su Tao dodged, she bumped squarely into the passerby beside her.

"Ouch, you ran right into me!" After a complaining exclamation, there was a gasp of shock. "Su Tao?"

Su Tao had intended to politely apologize and leave quickly, but was called by name and looked in the direction of the voice to see a familiar yet unfamiliar face.

With a pointy chin, large eyes wearing circle lenses, and fluttering false lashes that were practically molting glitter, it was Tian Yingying.

Unsure, Su Tao asked, "Tian Yingying?"

That face had clearly gone under the knife more than a few times.

Tian Yingying smiled somewhat stiffly. Her gaze fell on the coffee in Su Tao's hands and she gave a light laugh. "We haven't seen each other for a year and you've also entered the entertainment industry? Working as an assistant? What's the pay like? Or do you want to come be my assistant?"

Su Tao noticed the dressing room she exited had a "Xingjue" sign. Based on her sexy and revealing performance outfit, she was likely an artist under Xingjue.

"You've become an artist." Su Tao smiled gently and politely said, "Good luck."

"That's right, I'm a celebrity now. Why are you still struggling so badly?" Although the plastic surgery had left Tian Yingying's face somewhat paralyzed, her schadenfreude was expressed perfectly.

Su Tao simply smiled and didn't bother debating. Right then, her phone rang and she circled around Tian Yingying, heading for her dressing room.

Wu Xieyu, who had just arrived backstage, witnessed the altercation between Su Tao and Tian Yingying. He quickly called his boss.

He was representing Ruiqi as a judge and had assumed Su Tao wouldn't personally come today. He didn't expect to run into her.

Ever since the boss returned from Jiangcheng, he had been depressed and dejected.

When he was in Jiangcheng, he was temperamental but clearly felt energetic and hopeful about each new day.

Yet after returning to Beicheng he seemed to have reverted to his state from a year ago, like a walking corpse.

The call was picked up and the familiar low voice responded: "Speak."

"Boss, I saw Su Tao."


Su Tao, also holding a phone, received a call from Liang Ke.

He asked her to help look after his four artists because he suddenly had a stomachache and went to the bathroom.

Su Tao returned to the dressing room and distributed the coffees among the six people. She checked their makeup and costumes, all very satisfactory.

Liang Ke's four artists were a group so they went ahead to prepare backstage since their performance order was early. Xue Xinzi was nervous and had also gone to the bathroom. For the moment, only Jiang Qi and Su Tao remained in the room.

Jiang Qi finally put down his phone and called Su Tao over, "See if my eye makeup is smudged?"

He had light makeup today, with lined eyes that made his already limpid, amorous eyes even more bewitching.

If stared at steadily, it could make one sink in, unable to pull away.

But Su Tao's focus was on his eyeliner, not his pupils. "It is a little smudged. Did you rub your eyes just now?"

He was just looking for a flirty excuse after all.

Su Tao already grabbed a tissue and leaned in close, carefully wiping away the smudged eyeliner.

A few strands of hair tucked behind her ears draped down, brushing Jiang Qi's ear and tickling it, making his Adam's apple bob up and down.

Leaning back in the chair, he obediently allowed Su Tao to fix his makeup. But his arms had already stealthily grabbed the edges of the vanity, subtly framing Su Tao between them.

The dressing room door was suddenly knocked and then pushed open. Xie Jin, who had an elated expression at first, darkened upon seeing the scene inside.

Su Tao's face was very close to Jiang Qi's, her slender waist seemingly encircled in his embrace. Their posture was intimate like a couple's.

For a moment, rage rushed through Xie Jin. He strode forward in large steps until he reached them and slapped away one of Jiang Qi's arms, pulling Su Tao out.

"What are you two doing?"

Like thunder erupting from his chest cavity, paired with his gloomy, sinister expression, it made one shiver with dread.

Jiang Qi abruptly stood up and, facing Xie Jin's blazing gaze, moved to Su Tao's other side.

Sandwiched between the two equally tall and slender figures, Su Tao's phone suddenly rang.

She shook off Xie Jin's hand and slipped out from between the two mountains, answering the call.

On the other end of the phone, Liang Ke's pained voice was accompanied by indescribable groaning sounds: "Peach, I can't take it anymore, I have diarrhea...I'm drained."

Su Tao glanced at the time, there were 5 minutes left before she had to go wait backstage. "Do you need me to buy medicine for you?"

Liang Ke weakly said: "I'm afraid that won't help, I may need to go to the hospital..."

Su Tao's expression changed slightly. She was one of the judges today and was just about to go on stage.

Clearly, this was Liang Ke's intention for calling: "I've already called my assistant to come get me to take me to the hospital. You'll have to take my place as judge on stage, otherwise it'll be hard on the production team if there's no judge, and it won't look good for our company."

Currently on site, she was indeed the only suitable person to take Liang Ke's place as judge. Su Tao decisively agreed to take on this emergency task.

She quickly tidied her hair in front of the mirror, took out a makeup powder compact from her bag and patted her face a couple times, reapplied some lipstick, grabbed an eyeliner and mascara from the dressing table to touch up her eyes, and straightened out her collar.

Although her makeup was comparable to bare face, it was passable. After all, she wasn't the main star today. As long as she didn't look sloppy on camera and didn't embarrass the company, it was fine.

The two men who were originally confrontational now stood frozen, dumbly watching her busy movements.

"Jiang Qi, later when the staff calls for you, bring Xinzi with you backstage. If there are any issues let me know by message, I'm going to go wait backstage first."

As Su Tao walked out, she left instructions without waiting for Jiang Qi's response, and disappeared from the doorway.

Xie Jin gave Jiang Qi a contemptuous glance, then turned and went after her. Wu Xie Yu was still waiting outside.

Xie Jin watched as Su Tao headed towards the studio, and after thinking for a moment, asked Wu Xie Yu: "You're a judge too?"

Wu Xie Yu: "Yes."

Xie Jin: "Switch with me."

Wu Xie Yu: "?"

The show recording formally began. The semi-circular stage had long tiered seats on both sides, fitting a total of 100 people combined.

Directly facing the stage was the judges' seating area. Four seats were reserved in the middle for the celebrity mentors. On the left were ten media representatives, and on the right were ten representatives from entertainment companies and platforms.

Two minutes before recording, the director's team hurriedly switched out the nameplate at Liang Ke's seat for one that said "Su Tao, Jing Yang Entertainment".

Then they saw the same director also replace the nameplate in the first seat on the left side, now reading "Xie Jin, Rui Qi".

It was just two seats away from her.

Not only were there other entertainment company colleagues on Su Tao's side, there were also representatives from film companies and platform bosses.

All the judge seats were filled except for the main sponsor's rep, Rui Qi Video's spot, which was empty.

Just as everyone was curiously looking around, an elegant figure walked in at the entrance.

His tall, well-proportioned frame was even more striking in the tailored high-end suit. His chiselled face was coldly stern, with deep, brooding eyes that seemed to look down on everything.

The oppressive aura he exuded instantly quieted the whole venue, even more effective than the director controlling the scene.

Xie Jin strode in with his long legs and overwhelming presence and took a seat in the first spot on the left side, making the ordinary chair seem like a throne.

The moment he sat, all the lights in the studio went out, plunging the room into darkness.

The director counted down ten seconds over the intercom, and recording officially began.

The artistic lighting turned on, and the four celebrity mentors made dazzling entrances. There were two male and two female mentors, all originally from idol groups and currently popular celebrity stars.

The opening was explosive. Of the four mentors, the one with the highest popularity and best eloquence, Liu Xiangyi, took on the role of host as the group founding initiator, and introduced the competition format.

Over 100 trainees were competing for 18 spots to form a group, 9 male and 9 female members.

The initial stage scoring would be done by the 20 media and company/platform representatives, with their scores determining who advanced and who was eliminated. Each judge scored out of 10 points, and the bottom 20 trainees with the lowest scores would be cut.

With so many contestants, most were actually in teams of 5 or 7, making up just over 20 performing teams in total.

The first team to take the stage was a 5-member girl group from Yun Kai Culture.

The man in his 40s sitting next to Su Tao seemed excited, leaning in to whisper in Su Tao's ear, "They're artists from our company."

Su Tao nodded and responded that the girls were all very pretty.

Neither paid any attention to Xie Jin's sinister, gloomy gaze.

For a girl group that had debuted 2 years ago but was still unknown, the members did indeed each have their own flaws.

Their opening showcase preparations also seemed lacking, with at least the dance being out of sync. In the latter half of the performance, their singing was clearly lacking in breath support. One member in particular seemed too focused on standing out, resulting in a lack of coordination.

Su Tao looked at their information and watched their performance, noticing many issues.

But since she was just filling in for Liang Ke today, she simply went along with the crowd and gave a 5 out of 10 score, quietly playing the role of audience member.

"Oh?" Liu Xiangyi looked to the right at the judge area, a surprised expression on his face. "This judge gave a score of 1."

The camera panned to where Liu Xiangyi was pointing, and Xie Jin's face appeared on the big screen, eliciting gasps from the room.

With visuals this stunning, he was made to be on camera from all angles!

Seeing him clearly on the big screen, Liu Xiangyi realized the nameplate in front of him read "Xie Jin, Rui Qi".

Rui Qi Video had rapidly grown over the past year to seize the fastest market share, making it a platform daddy that no artist dared offend.

Xie Jin was also well known in entertainment circles and amongst the wealthy as the head of the Tian Xing Group. He was a man countless wealthy young ladies and female celebrities fawned over.

He had always been very mysterious, Liu Xiangyi didn't expect he would openly appear on a show.

"Is there a problem?"

Xie Jin's deep voice rumbled through the mic, his ink-black eyes showing impatience. It seemed he glared at the camera operator, as the shot suddenly cut back to the stage.

Not only the audience below, even the performers on stage secretly covered their mouths, unable to conceal their gasps of astonishment at Xie Jin's naturally imposing manner.

Everyone was subdued by his domineering aura. From now on, domineering CEO novels had a face.

"So it's Boss Xie from Rui Qi. Our mistake." Liu Xiangyi awkwardly smoothed things over. "Actually, we'd like to hear your reason for the 1 point score."

Cue'd again, Xie Jin's face remained impassive, his cold, sinister aura seeming to pierce through the screen to permeate the room.

"Does it need a reason?" Xie Jin quirked a brow, an expression that said 'are you questioning me?'

Liu Xiangyi was breaking out in a cold sweat, feebly saying: "Because you gave the lowest score, so..."

"Then you should ask them why they performed so terribly yet still got such high scores."

As soon as Xie Jin spoke, the judges below and performers on stage all had ashen expressions.

No one else present would have dared say those words.

None of those who had scored them highly dared to talk back and defy him, given his status. Some even secretly took out their phones to snap photos of Xie Jin on the big screen.

The show didn't linger on Xie Jin for long and continued on.

Unexpectedly, the second male group up was from Star Yang Entertainment, and included a familiar face to Su Tao - Su Yang Xing.

Xie Jin's brow furrowed slightly as he reflexively glanced at Su Tao.

Su Tao's expression was calm, but under the table her hands were clasped together, eyes fixed unblinkingly on Su Yang Xing.

It had been a year since seeing him, and he looked to have grown taller again.

He had always been a great singer, inheriting his mother's wonderful voice. This performance highlighted his strengths very well, giving him the highest notes of the song.

As expected, he delivered them perfectly.

After the performance ended, Su Tao thought for a moment then still gave a 5 score.

Su Tao's scoring was quite objective. The team had members of varying skill levels.

And Xie Jin, unsurprisingly, gave 1 point again.

This time, Liu Xiangyi learned his lesson and didn't dare ask Xie Jin. He first had the other 3 mentors give commentary, and they all praised Su Yang Xing's high notes.

Liu Xiangyi let Su Yang Xing choose whose commentary he wanted to hear, and to everyone's surprise, he picked Su Tao.

The audience whispered amongst themselves trying to figure out who Su Tao was. The camera operator also seemed to be looking for her, until over half a minute later the big screen finally cut to Su Tao.

A serene, fair face, with light makeup that was comparable to bare face on camera. But her petite face shape and delicate features were eye-catching without the need for heavy makeup.

Especially those clear, bright doe eyes, demure yet lively, that made people want to protect her.

Was this an idol trainee group competition or a visual judge beauty pageant?

How was every random judge shot so stunning?

Su Yang Xing looked at Su Tao, a hint of grievance in his eyes as he pursed his lips, but managed to maintain composure and steady his emotions.

Su Tao sighed softly, imperceptible to most. She picked up the mic on the table, her clear, melodious voice seeming to massage everyone's ears as she slowly said: "The team has members with obvious strengths but also unignorable weaknesses. Their overall skill level needs improvement."

Her concise commentary ended before the audience had their fill of her voice.

To satisfy the public, Su Yang Xing followed up with another request: "May I ask Judge Su Tao to give individual commentary?"

Su Tao had no choice but to pick up the mic she had just set down. Looking at the materials in hand, she gave individual commentary to each of the 4: "Lin Hou, your dance is great. You've competed internationally and won awards. Your biggest weakness is singing, so you avoided all the vocal parts. Hiding flaws and highlighting strengths is good, but don't limit yourself. To debut in a group requires strengths, but any weaknesses must also reach a passing level. I suggest you spend more time practicing singing."

Su Tao's commentary was fair and hit the nail on the head. She spoke neither too fast nor too slow, coming across very professional and authoritative.

Those she critiqued all listened intently with serious expressions, sincerely thanking her afterwards.

When she finally got to Su Yang Xing, her eyes lowered, long lashes concealing her bright eyes. Her voice also lacked her previous composure and confidence.

"I don't know who came up with this path for you, but I don't think you need to be on this show."

Her words caused an uproar.

Because of the objective and detached impression they had just formed of Su Tao, everyone subconsciously started to think that there must be something wrong with Su Yang Xing that made him unsuitable for the show.

"Why?" Su Yang Xing's brows furrowed as well, no longer able to hide his grievance as he pursed his lips with moist eyes.

Su Tao raised her eyes, still as calm as the water in a pond, but her words were decisive: "No reason."

Seeing Su Yang Xing aggrieved as he walked off the stage, Su Tao put down the microphone, retracted her gaze, and watched the next performance as if nothing had happened.

Because of her comments from last time, every score Su Tao gave from then on was given a close-up shot, fluctuating between 5-8 points on average.

Xie Jin, on the other hand, became another focal point, with his scores consistently being 1 point.

When one of the decent performing teams finally got a 2 from Xie Jin, the contestants were elated, as if they had gotten full marks, and thanked Mr. Xie profusely for recognizing them.

It was finally time for Liang Ke's four artists to take the stage. Their performance was remarkable.

Su Tao looked at them as if they were her own children, feeling everything they did was good. She had to admire Liang Ke's professionalism - the artists he trained had comprehensive strength across the board, and a strong team spirit.

Although she noticed some minor flaws, she made a mental note and was very satisfied overall.

Su Tao finally understood the pride Yun Kai Wen Hua's representative had for Show Girls previously. Smiling widely, she bragged to those around her, "They're mine."

After receiving some flattering remarks, Su Tao's smile grew even brighter.

After the performance ended, without any pretense, Su Tao shamelessly gave them a perfect 10, not stingy at all with her praise.

The camera panned to Xie Jin, who as usual gave them a 1.

Because he had just given a 2, Liu Xiangyi cued Xie Jin again, "Mr. Xie, where do you think this team's performance falls short of the previous team?"

Cued again, Xie Jin was clearly out of patience, gloomily saying: "Everywhere..."

"What specifically?" The clear voice rang out unexpectedly. No one thought Su Tao would actually question Xie Jin, displeasure filling her eyes.

Xie Jin's whole body stiffened as he immediately turned to look at Su Tao, only then realizing this was Jing Yang's team after seeing her score.

Just as everyone was worried for Su Tao, not only was Xie Jin not cold and impatient as they had imagined, he abruptly changed his tune.


Everyone: "?"

As their jaws dropped in shock, he added another sentence: "I scored wrong, didn't press an extra 0. Production team, reset it for me, I'll rescore."