Chapter 9: Unveiling the Mask — It’s not that others look down on me, it’s you who looks down on others, right?
Jian Yan didn’t have many friends, and the only one that could genuinely be considered a close friend was Lin Zhen. She didn’t know, however, why she and Nan Si were able to chat so naturally; they had even seen past each other’s mask.
Tang Zhi: 「These days, I’ve been preparing for a new project.」
Nan Si: 「Teacher, you are worthy of being the model of the manhua world. You only just finished 《Satisfactory》and are already preparing for a new project! 『smile-cry』」
Tang Zhi: 「Mn, earning money is rather important.」
Tang Zhi: 「 I mean, work is rather important 『sweat』」
Nan Si: 「Earning money truly is very important 23333」
Tang Zhi: 「『囧』」
Jian Yan reflected on herself as she stared at her computer screen. How come when she was only a little careless, she would speak her true feelings?
Nan Si: 「Can you divulge what this new project is about? 『cute』」
Tang Zhi: 「I want to draw a female lead who sells clothes in a shopping mall.」
Nan Si: 「(⊙o⊙) Department stores? Kind of like Starlight General Merchandise?」
Tang Zhi: 「Mhmm」
Nan Si: 「Sounds very interesting. When you publish, I will definitely support you :)」
Tang Zhi: 「Thanks ^_^」
Nan Si: 「Actually, I’ve always been really curious. Are manhua artists like you similar to authors, where you go out and collect material for an unfamiliar environment that constantly appears within your work?」
Tang Zhi: 「This depends on the person. I know many writers who do.」
Nan Si: 「Does teacher do this as well?」
Tang Zhi: 「Mhmm」
Nan Si: 「Okay, I understand. :)」
Nan Si: 「I need to go to work now; I’ll talk to you again next time.」
Tang Zhi: 「 OK」
He Xiu stared at the two letters she had send in reply. Chuckling for a moment, he clicked the 「X」 to exit QQ. He called his secretary’s line. “Tell HR Zhou Wen Wen to come over.”
“Understood, Director He.”
Soon after Zhou Wen Wen received the summons, she was standing in He Xiu’s office. “Hello, Director He. May I ask what you are seeking me for?”
He Xiu looked at her before lightly raising the corners of his mouth. “That friend you introduced last time, she was the famous manhua artist Tang Zhi, right?”
Zhou Wen Wen started before panicking and hurriedly asking, “How did you know?”
He Xiu smiled. “You just confirmed it.”
Zhou Wen Wen: “…”
Director He, why are your methods so deep?
She wiped her face before explaining to He Xiu, “That, she said she wanted to come to a department store to collect material. I thought that since the end of the year isn’t very busy and that she had always been very efficient in her work, I could allow her to come… I asked Hui Hui. She said that Jian Yan works very earnestly, and her sales record is very impressive!”
Zhou Wen Wen: “…”
What do you mean by ‘Mn?’
“Then… did you want to fire her?” Zhou Wen Wen hesitantly asked. Although ‘fire her’ wasn’t exactly correct, as she was originally on a trial period and hadn’t signed an official contract.
He Xiu said, “Why would I want to fire her? Teacher Tang Zhi came to our shopping mall to collect material. Naturally, this is our honor.”
Zhou Wen Wen was silent for a moment before rushing to agree with the Boss. “What Director He says is right! She didn’t choose that Jia General Merchandise next door!”
“Because the Human Resources Manager at Jia General Merchandise isn’t her university schoolmate.”
Zhou Wen Wen: “…”
“The background of Teacher’s newest project is a department store. Moreover, it is highly probable our shopping mall will be the model. She has such a tremendous reader base——this can also be considered as a publicity campaign for us.”
“Right, right! I also thought like this!”
He Xiu raised his eyes to look at her and said, “Okay, you may continue your job. So that things won’t be awkward for her, do not tell Teacher about this matter.”
“Understood!” Zhou Wen Wen breathed a sigh of relief before fleeing very quickly.
There was still one thing she couldn’t understand, however——how did Jian Yan end up being exposed?
… Director He was worthy of being Director He.
Jian Yan was completely unaware that her mask had been unveiled. She continued to go to work at Starlight General Merchandise, each day proceeding the same as usual. In general, the majority of clients that strolled into Fantasy Wardrobe were women, and even if they were accompanied by a male, those men would normally sit to the side and wait. Occasionally, however, they would come across an exception.
For example, the person in front of Jian Yan.
“This overcoat is pretty good. You would look stunning if you wore it.” An impeccably attired man picked up an overcoat, a smile gracing his fair and clear face.
Jian Yan took a step back before saying to him, “What’s most important is if your girlfriend would look pretty while wearing it.” She felt rather helpless. When she had seen him enter, she had intended for her other colleagues to receive him, but he had directly sought for her.
Although she was somewhat unwilling, she couldn’t refuse a client.
The male smiled and said, “You share the same build as my girlfriend. Looking a little closer, you also look slightly similar to her!” He took the opportunity to move closer to Jian Yan as he said these words, as if he was carefully examining her facial features.1 Jian Yan’s brows knitted together. This distance was already rapidly approaching the limits of her patience.
Out of the question, Jian Yan. You are already an adult. You cannot beat up men like you did in your childhood.
“Then just choose this item. The checkout counter is to your left.” She withdrew another step and pointed in the direction of the counter.
The man completely didn’t care about where the checkout counter was and merely beamed at her. “Perhaps you should take me to the counter.”
Jian Yan took a deep breath. Just when she intended on seizing a random colleague of hers and having them deal with him, a beautiful male voice rang out from the side. “Tang Zheng, what are you doing here?”
Even though she hadn’t looked, she knew who this voice belonged to.
He Xiu, Director He.
The man annoying Jian Yan turned his head to glance at the speaker and then lifted the overcoat in his hand. “Buying clothes.”
He Xiu laughed, his laugh neither cold nor warm. “I have known you for so long, but this is the first time I’ve heard of you being a transvestite.”
Tang Zheng asked, “Can’t I buy this for my girlfriend?”
He Xiu retorted, “Didn’t she just dump you?”
Tang Zheng: “…”
“I dumped her!” Tang Zheng angrily shouted.
Jian Yan interrupted their conversation, asking He Xiu, “Excuse me, Director He Xiu, is this person your friend?”
He Xiu nodded and said, “Mn. You don’t need to look after him. Leave it to me.”
“Okay.” Jian Yan had been waiting specifically for these words of his.
Seeing Jian Yan’s rapidly departing figure, Tang Zheng was very dissatisfied with He Xiu’s service. “Is this how you treat a client?”
He Xiu said, “What, the Director is personally receiving you, yet you’re still dissatisfied?”
“…Who wants to be received by a rough man like you? I want a girl!”
He Xiu took the overcoat he was holding and placed it on the checkout counter. “Don’t come here and disturb my staff as they work.”
Tang Zheng grimaced behind him. He then heard the female cashier say, “Hello. Altogether, that’ll be ¥29,873. Thank you for your patronage.”
Tang Zheng: “…”
“Pay.” He Xiu side-eyed him.
Tang Zheng: “…”
I have never seen such highway robbery!!!
But in front of so many girls, he, Master Tang, couldn’t lose face! Tang Zheng leisurely and gracefully took out his credit card as He Xiu hummed.
He Xiu smiled. The cashier settled the account before handing Tang Zheng a receipt. “Thank you for your patronage.”
“You’re welcome. This gentleman appreciates you.” Tang Zheng carried a paper bag with the LOGO stamp on it before walking over in Jian Yan’s direction. He Xiu’s eyes flashed with anxiousness as he quickly pulled him to the side.
He asked, “What are you doing?”
Tang Zheng said, “Gifting clothes! Don’t tell me you really expected me to wear this?”
He Xiu glared at him. “Didn’t you say you were gifting this to your girlfriend?”
“That’s right; she’s on the verge of becoming my girlfriend. Is that not okay?”
“Hehe, your dream is rather beautiful.” He Xiu seized the paper bag in his hand before smiling at him. “Until you get a girlfriend, these clothes will be in my care.”
Tang Zheng: “…”
Tang Zheng kept harping on the entire trip back to He Xiu’s office. “The quality of your company’s female staff is pretty good! Especially the one who received me just now, truly gorgeous.”
Ahead of him, He Xiu turned his body around and gave him a warning glance. “You better not be planning on hitting on our company’s staff.”
“Oh~oh~oh~” Tang Zheng raised his voice, returning the glance with a playful one. “People are here to work for you, not to prostitute themselves to you, yet you’re still managing their boyfriend prospects?”
He Xiu replied, “I did this for your own good. Our company’s female employees have very high gazes and will look down on you.”
Tang Zheng pursed his lips before nodding and patting the other’s shoulder. “I see. It’s not that others look down on me, it’s you who looks down on others, right?”
“Who are talking about?”
He Xiu frowned. “How do you know her name?”
“Because it’s written on her employee badge.”
He Xiu remained silent for a moment before quirking the corner of his mouth. “I knew you didn’t just come here to buy clothes.”
His smile made Tang Zheng’s scalp feel numb. He immediately wrapped an arm rather intimately around He Xiu’s shoulders. “Of course I didn’t come here to buy clothes. I came here to eat a meal with you!”
As Tang Zheng and He Xiu found a Chinese restaurant to eat at within Starlight Plaza, Jian Yan grabbed her lunchbox and looked for a place to sit down within the dining hall.
After eating a few bites, a gossipy colleague from Fantasy Wardrobe sat down beside her and asked in whispers, “That male client who annoyed you just now, do you still remember him?”
Jian Yan nodded and said, “I remember. He said he was buying clothes to gift to his girlfriend.”
“It really is!” Her colleague’s excited face turned slightly red upon saying this. “I just heard from the cashier over there say that he was giving the clothes to Director He!”
Jian Yan: “… …”
“I was even saying that Director He is so handsome, it’s abnormal that he cannot be seduced by us!”
The suspicious look in Jian Yan’s eyes deepened. Her colleague said, “Pah! I mean, attract.” She drank a mouthful of soup to calm down. “Although the media has reported that he’s had nine girlfriends, not a single one was really his girlfriend! In the beginning, I thought that our Director He was simply clean-living and honest, but, as it turns out, it’s because…he is bent!”
Jian Yan: “…”
“But that’s still not right. Even if he’s…bent,” Jian Yan spoke this last word particularly soft, “why give him female clothing?”
“I don’t know. Maybe he has other inclinations and interests?”2
Jian Yan: “…”
Indeed…you can’t judge a person by appearance.
I felt sorry for Master He for two seconds; he mistakenly made bad friends~!
Thank you sponsors~
- Moonclipse’s comment: Nek minnit, “Oh, you are my girlfriend!” Cheesy pickup lines… ↩
- Yes, “inclinations and interests” is a euphemism in this case. Take it as dirty as you wish because it is that vulgar in this instance, even though other times it could just be referring to hobbies and lifestyles. ↩