Surprise Resignation of Female Substitute Secretary

Chapter 33

Tian Yingying finally squeezed out real tears amidst the sounds of mockery, her face flushed red with shame and indignation. The deep-rooted fear of Xie Jin prevented her from retorting a single word as she slinked off the stage in embarrassment.

The entire four hours of recording for the show was completed, and all the contestants who advanced to the next round formally entered the training camp for closed off comprehensive training.

Su Tao hadn't even gotten up from her seat when she saw a middle-aged man take the initiative to chat up Jiang Qi.

The flirtatious smile in his eyes as he looked at Jiang Qi was exactly the same as when she first wanted to sign Jiang Qi.

A rare anxiousness flashed through Su Tao's normally calm eyes. If not for worrying about her image, she would have jumped over the table right then.

Xie Jin had started thinking of excuses to ask Su Tao out for a meal since before the recording had even ended.

He thought of countless reasons why she might reject him, yet never imagined that before he even had a chance to speak, Su Tao would have already disappeared without a trace.

The moment Jiang Qi got off stage, he was stopped by someone claiming to be an executive from Huixing Entertainment, who kept praising Jiang Qi for being outstanding and having potential.

Jiang Qi was a bit annoyed at first and wanted to leave. But when he saw Su Tao striding over, with a rare murderous look in her beautiful doe eyes, his footsteps halted.

"Hello, I'm Jiang Qi's agent, Su Tao," Su Tao coolly declared her ownership, no hint of a smile reaching her eyes.

The Huixing executive smiled awkwardly, unable to conceal the admiration in his tone, "I was just praising Jiang Qi, he's truly outstanding, such a good prospect!"

"Thank you for praising him. Jiang Qi is an artist we at Jing Yang are focused on cultivating," Su Tao deliberately emphasized the words "focused on cultivating", intent on telling him not to get ideas about poaching Jiang Qi, because the company would not let him go.

After the Huixing executive left awkwardly, the corners of Jiang Qi's mouth couldn't help but curl up as he stared at Su Tao, who seemed gentle on the surface but was like a ruffled cat with her hackles raised right now. He let out a soft chuckle, earning himself a glare from Su Tao.

"Can you chat with just anyone?" Su Tao gave him a sideways glance, her tone less than friendly.

"Feeling nervous? Afraid I'll leave you?"

Jiang Qi's clear and tender eyes were full of smiling warmth. Whenever he wanted, he could make anything sound flirtatiously ambiguous. Those with weaker resistance would probably blush.

Su Tao secretly rolled her eyes at him. Straightening her back, she gave a little huff, "With a nine digit penalty, do you think those people all have my foresight to pay such a huge penalty fee for you, an artist not even officially debuted yet?"

"What if there is one?" Jiang Qi's mouth quirked with a wicked grin, seeming intent on riling Su Tao up.

Su Tao raised her hand and slapped Jiang Qi's arm, not too lightly or heavily, warning him, "Stop always threatening me. I may look easy to bully but dare you really provoke me?"

Getting hit made Jiang Qi's smile grow even more amused. He leaned in next to her ear, breathing out in a low voice, "But I like provoking you."

Not giving Su Tao a chance to react after he spoke, he quickly reached out and ruffled the top of Su Tao's head, then waved his hand with a laugh as he briskly walked away.

His clean and handsome sunshine boy figure blended into the crowd of young boys and girls entering the training camp, still the most eye-catching and stalwart among them.

Su Tao retracted her gaze. Both her and Liang Ke's artists had advanced. It was lively when they came but lonely when leaving alone. Su Tao enjoyed this loneliness, the corners of her lips curving up in satisfaction.

But before the smile could bloom, she saw two familiar figures standing in the shaded corner of the hallway, seeming to be conspiring about something.

One was the Huixing executive who had tried to poach her artist earlier, the other was a tall and solemn figure she was all too familiar with, Xie Jin's back.

In a flash, Su Tao pieced together many things. Xie Jin had previously gotten Rui Qi to try poaching Jiang Qi before.

Judging by the current situation, not only had he not given up after being scolded by her, he had even covertly colluded with other companies to poach Jiang Qi!

This was truly going too far!

After Su Tao realized what was going on, the Huixing executive had already left first.

Xie Jin turned around and saw Su Tao standing behind him. The cold eyes instantly filled with warmth as he took a step forward, wanting to say something but was coldly cut off by Su Tao.

"Xie Jin, if you dare engage in these kinds of shady tricks again, I'll poach all of Rui Qi's artists! Let's see if I can do it or not!"

Watching Su Tao's indignant departing figure, Xie Jin raised his arched brows, looking completely confused.

What shady tricks had he been engaging in?

The Huixing executive had asked him out for a meal and he had declined, that was all. How had he offended her again?


Su Tao finally found an opening when Jiang Wan was free and brought up the drama by Hua Chunjiang, thinking she would have to go through a lot of trouble explaining. Unexpectedly, Jiang Wan immediately said she trusted Su Tao's recommendation for the role and asked her to send the script to her so she could have her agent discuss taking the role.

This trust warmed Su Tao's heart. She told Jiang Wan that if there was anything in the future she could help with, to just speak up.

"There is one thing I'd like to ask of you." Jiang Wan's gentle voice came through the phone, a tiredness seeping into her tone. "I want to terminate my contract with my current company. Could you sign me?"

Su Tao was stunned for a few seconds, unable to believe her ears as she confirmed again, "You want to sign with me?"

"From the moment you helped me with my coat, I felt you were especially dependable. I'm very touched by your subtle care and understanding. I also really approve of your views on protecting and planning for artists. My current company only sees me as a money making machine. I'm really tired." Jiang Wan's tone revealed a brittleness that pained Su Tao's heart.

Her gentle yet firm voice gave a promise, "Jiang Wan, I will definitely get you out of your contract. I will go all out for you, just trust me."

After hanging up, Su Tao sent Wang Qi a message to clear two days in Gu YiYan's schedule next week to leave time for the audition.

Having settled Gu YiYan's matter, Su Tao looked over her work plans. Her eyes lit up when she saw DG Computers would soon be launching a new series and she had connections to find out DG was currently selecting a new spokesperson for the series.

DG Computers had always targeted the student market. The designs were youthful, fashionable, lightweight and high cost-performance, making it very popular among students.

DG was also bold about using new artists as spokespeople for their new series. They had an accurate eye for talent, and the previous spokespeople had all grown along with the products they represented and now commanded high prices.

There was an apt advertising slogan describing this phenomenon in the industry - "DG's rise, tomorrow's stars".

The DG new series endorsement was simply tailor made for Jiang Qi. She must secure it!

Su Tao immediately made use of all her connections to obtain the contact information for DG's marketing department. But she was told that to be able to normally compete for the endorsement, she would need to provide a nine-digit asset deposit for a one month period.

This effectively set a barrier to entry.

Firstly, DG wanted to prevent any negative incidents with the new spokesperson during the endorsement period that could impact the new product launch, so they required a nine digit default penalty that would safeguard the company's interests.

Secondly, it filtered for agencies with strength that weren't afraid to forfeit the default penalty, and could ensure their support of resources for the new spokesperson to grow together with the product.

While it was scouting for new artists, the criteria had already been set very high, practically on the level of grooming the next top star.

Su Tao was determined to win this endorsement for Jiang Qi and naturally could not be blocked at the outset.

She called Zhang Qi Guang to explain the situation. Even he fell briefly silent this time, "Tao Tao, you know this requires a huge amount out of the company's accounts right? I alone can't decide this, it needs a shareholder meeting."

Su Tao nodded calmly, "I know."

Zhang Qi Guang said, "The company has a total cash flow of 450 million in the books. You want to draw out 300 million. Do you think Liang Ke and Liu WanTao will agree?"

With the artist publicity fees flowing out like running water every day, and so many artists under the company, it would be hard to get Liang Ke and Liu WanTao's agreement.

Su Tao's clear eyes flashed with determination, "I will persuade them."

Zhang Qi Guang specially returned to Jiang City for this matter and convened a shareholder meeting.

Unsurprisingly, only Zhang Qi Guang voiced agreement, while the company charter required over 80% shareholder agreement to draw out 2/3 of the cash flow.

Liang Ke waved his lily-white fingers with a sigh, "Tao Tao, I can't help you this time either. It's a huge sum and long period, basically freezing cash flow for a month."

Liu WanTao wasn't as tactful as Liang Ke. She sat with arms crossed and face stern, her tone slightly caustic, "I firmly oppose this! There are so many artists, what if someone has an urgent need for funds? Besides, everyone knows how hard it is to get DG endorsements. Is it necessary to freeze cash flow for a whole month for this unrealistic matter?"

The other two minority shareholders naturally also didn't want the company's cash to be massively drawn down. Too many businesses had collapsed due to cash flow issues.

Su Tao's expression remained tranquil, her breathing steady. This was a scene she had anticipated early on. No matter how much explanation would be futile.

She took out the "Imperial Edict" prepared long ago and slapped it on the table. Her clear eyes contained an undeniable strength. "If I fail to obtain the DG endorsement, I am willing to take responsibility and resign!"

The normally silent Zhang Qi Guang's peach blossom eyes snapped erect, his expression solemn, "Su Tao, don't say such things rashly."

"It's not rash. I have confidence I can secure the endorsement, so I can stake my career on it. I hope everyone can believe me too."

Su Tao placed the signed and fingerprinted "Imperial Edict" in the center of the conference table, her burning gaze sweeping over everyone present.

The first to take a stance was Liu WanTao. She picked up the "Imperial Edict" from the table to look at it, a mocking smile on her face, "Since Manager Su is so confident, let's not hinder her. I agree."

Liang Ke looked at the "Imperial Edict" then at Su Tao, shaking his head, "Whether you resign or not has no benefit for me. I still disagree."

In fact, whether Liang Ke agreed or not mattered little to Su Tao. Zhang Qi Guang held 60% control. She had 10%. As long as she swayed Liu WanTao's 10%, she could use the funds.

It was obvious that Zhang QiGuang understood the true purpose of that "military order", and he sighed silently as he looked at her intently: "Have you thought it through, Su TaoTao?"

Su Tao nodded.

Zhang QiGuang took her application letter and attached the "military order" to the back of the application letter. He hesitated for a moment, then signed his name and stamped his company seal.

Liu WanTao didn't hesitate as much. She immediately signed her name and handed the application letter back to Su Tao, smiling smugly: "Looking forward to hearing the good news from General Manager Su!"

Su Tao took the application letter from her and left the conference room with eyes like calm autumn waters.

As soon as she opened the door, her colleagues who had been eavesdropping outside the door almost fell over. Su Tao ignored them and headed straight for the finance department, her expression blank.

Le Xuan hurried to catch up, looking extremely anxious and worried: "Boss, isn't this playing too big?"

Su Tao walked very steadily, her voice was not loud but extremely infectious: "No pain, no gain."


The first episode of the "Road to Stardom" variety show was released online, causing great repercussions.

In addition to discussions about the four celebrity mentors, the hottest topic was unexpectedly the CP between Su Tao and Xie Jin. At one point, it even overshadowed the popularity of the contestants.

The ranking of the topic on the hot search list rose rapidly from the bottom, and the behind-the-scenes footage of Xie Jin asking for Su Tao's WeChat ID that was shown during the intermission was released as bonus material.

The entry surged to the top three in the rankings, with popularity increasing rather than decreasing.

Within half a day after the show aired, there was already a CP hashtag for Xie Jin and Su Tao.

Su Tao was frowning as she browsed Weibo when she received a call from Zhang QiGuang, who was in some country again.

Zhang QiGuang: "Su TaoTao, have you seen your CP with Jealous Jar on the hot search?"

Su Tao gave a cold "Mm" and had no desire to discuss it.

Zhang QiGuang: "Did Jealous Jar deliberately hype up your CP? He still hasn't given up on you? He's so persistent."

Su Tao sighed lightly and changed the topic: "Which country are you in? You're keeping up with the news very timely."

"I'm in the United States, Chicago." Zhang QiGuang's voice suddenly dropped, seeming preoccupied.

"What's wrong? No beauties in Chicago?" Su Tao joked.

"It's XiaoRu. I found her, she's in Chicago."

Su Tao's eyes instantly lit up. She sat up straight, shocked at first then relieved: "Is she okay?"

There was an uncharacteristic bleakness in Zhang QiGuang's voice. "It's hard to describe in one sentence. She refuses to go back with Haoxing."

The Haoxing he mentioned was Zhang XiaoRu's fiancé Shang Haoxing.

The two got engaged two years ago and XiaoRu ran away on their wedding day half a year later.

After more than a year without any news from her, Haoxing had been living in loss and pain every day.

The reason Zhang QiGuang had been aimlessly wandering so many countries was also partly to look for Zhang XiaoRu. Fortunately he finally found her.

Su Tao looked at her schedule quickly and said into the phone: "Send me the address, I'll fly over today."

Su Tao stood under a tall, lush oak tree with her hands in her coat pockets, rubbing her fingers together inside anxiously. Facing the sister she hadn't seen for years, she felt a little embarrassed and didn't dare acknowledge her.

After observing carefully for a long time, she could barely make out traces of her former self.

Zhang XiaoRu had gained weight. Her originally straight black hair had been permed into fluffy light yellow curls piled on her head. She wore a loose plaid shirt and black pants covered in dog fur, looking sloppy and oblivious.

Although her features were still very pretty, her expression was dull and dispirited. Her eyelids drooped and her eyes were unfocused. She kept yawning, looking like she just woke up.

She had run away with that scumbag to Chicago and was later abandoned. She was also rumored to have had an abortion. Mentally, she must have suffered a major blow.

"XiaoRu..." Su Tao finally spoke but didn't know what to say.

Zhang XiaoRu rubbed her nose and glanced at Su Tao impatiently: "Had a good look? Want to ask why I've become like this? Want to ask why I won't go back with you all? Want to ask how I've been living the past few years? Are you all tired of taking turns persuading me? I've already said everything I wanted to say, just ask my brother and Haoxing. What's the point of talking to me? I already said I won't go back to China with you all!"

Su Tao pursed her lips. She didn't expect XiaoRu to have become so irritable.

"Feel sorry for me?" Zhang XiaoRu sneered derisively. With self-deprecating defensiveness she said, "Think I'm pitiful?"

"No." Su Tao explained hastily, "I care about you..."

"Don't need it. I know you look down on me now, scorn me, think I deserved this, think I brought it on myself! I don't need your approval either. I'll take responsibility for my own life, I don't need you all coming to laugh at me!"

Su Tao's brows furrowed tighter and tighter. XiaoRu was like a porcupine now, very aggressive. She was afraid of saying the wrong thing and letting XiaoRu misunderstand again.

"XiaoRu, I've always been very worried about you. I'm so happy to see you again. I won't interfere with any of your decisions, I just wanted to come see if you're safe, and talk to Haoxing properly again. He's been in a lot of pain these past two years."

Having said that, Su Tao left without waiting for her to launch a new wave of attacks.

She had thought XiaoRu would consider their former friendship and listen to her advice. If she had known earlier that XiaoRu was like this, it would have been better not to come.

Su Tao sat on a park bench, watching Zhang XiaoRu converse with Shang Haoxing from afar.

She probably felt guilty towards Haoxing, so she didn't reject and resent him like she did with Su Tao earlier.

In the two years since XiaoRu left Haoxing, his state had been very poor. He had loved XiaoRu deeply and still couldn't understand why XiaoRu cheated on and left him right before their wedding.

Whenever Su Tao saw his decadent state, she would unconsciously think of that person who was alternatively cold and irritable.

In the time right after she left, she would dream of his gloomy face every night, coldly staring at her. Each time she woke up drenched in cold sweat.

Maybe because she had been oppressed by Xie Jin for so long, she felt uneasy about rebelling against him.

Later she gradually overcame the mental demon. After all, she wasn't the one who cheated. She shouldn't have been the one tormented either.

Her cell phone rang, interrupting Su Tao's thoughts. Looking at the screen, the corner of her eye twitched. Speak of the devil.

Xie Jin's low voice came from the phone, sounding unreal in this foreign environment.

Xie Jin: "You're not in Jiang City? The director's team said you're not going to the recording tomorrow?"

Su Tao: "Mm, I'm not in China. I can't make it back tomorrow, Liang Ke will go."

Xie Jin: "Where did you go? What did you go for? If you don't go, I won't go either."

Su Tao: "You have to go. With all those scandals you stirred up the past two days, I haven't settled accounts with you yet. You must go clarify the rumors."

There was silence on Xie Jin's end for a while. He reluctantly agreed.

In the distance, it seemed like Haoxing had started crying, bowing his head to wipe away tears. Zhang XiaoRu across from him lowered her head remorsefully.

Su Tao's gaze fixed on them. Staring at the two, it was as if she could see other people and events through them. She slowly asked Xie Jin: "When I left without explanation back then, did you hate me?"

Xie Jin seemed to be stunned into silence. After a long while, his slightly hoarse voice carried grievance and bitterness: "You finally realize how unreasonable you were? Am I a pen, a towel, or a car? You can just discard me whenever you want?"

Listening to Xie Jin's choked accusations, Su Tao withdrew her gaze into the distance. Her face was devoid of emotion as she asked, "I just want to know, did you hate me? Did you suffer?"

There was a moment of hesitation on the phone before he answered, "I suffered, I hated you for a time."

A smile finally bloomed on her tranquil face, like a sea of lush wisteria in April. "That's good then."

Xie Jin: "......"