I said in the Heavy Sweetness translation that it would be fun to write another fiction with Master Pu Chi's character as the main male lead. Since I don't have much time on my hands, it needed to be a one-shot and something simple. So, I've chosen a modern setting and a rather typical story construct - but I still hope it would be short, sweet and enjoyable for you.
The truth is after finishing this short piece, I realised that the male lead hardly resembles Master Pu Chi at all. Haha! In any event, the name of the character is inspired by Master Pu Chi (Yan You) and the female lead is Xiao Mi, except her Mi is not Jin Mi's Mi (觅) but Mi(米) meaning rice. Haha!
Little Ode to the Boss!
“Xiao Mi! You better stop drinking!” Ni Lan cried as she watched Xiao Mi gulp down another shot.
Xiao Mi blinked back tears as she placed another shot in Ni Lan’s hand and gave a hearty knock from another shot in her own hand, “Cheers!”
“We shan’t stop till we are completely drunk!” Xiao Mi declared as she finished another shot.
Ni Lan shook Xiao Mi’s arm, “What happened?”
Ni Lan thought Xiao Mi was rather strange tonight, inviting her to an expensive luxurious club and then ordering three dozen shot glasses.
Xiao Mi took in a deep breath. She was hoping that a few shots of alcohol would give her the courage that she always lacked.
“Ni Lan, tonight, I’m drinking away eight years of unrequited love,” Xiao Mi sighed.
“Ah? You confessed to President Yan?”
Xiao Mi’s eyes widened and her face turned white, “How did you know my unrequited love is President Yan?”
Ni Lan laughed, “I’ve been your roommate for the past eight years – have I ever heard you talk about any other guy?”
Xiao Mi felt the heat on her face as she sighed, “I didn’t confess… but my mother has been chasing me and threatening that if I don’t get married by this year, she will force me back to my hometown. And, I know if I don’t kill these feelings in my heart, I will never be able to enter into a proper relationship with someone.”
Ni Lan nodded in agreement, “President Yan is someone you can admire, or have fantasies of, but the way he changes girlfriends is not something the hearts of us ordinary mortals can handle.”
Xiao Mi felt the need to defend President Yan, “Boss is very good – he may have many girlfriends but he is open, honest and gentlemanly to all of them. He is a very good boss – patient, kind, generous…” Xiao Mi thought back to how President Yan even broke up with girlfriends who were mean and rude to her, “Actually, President Yan seems lonely… he only dates all these girls as a protest to his father’s attempts to get him into a marriage alliance…”
“Yes, Ms Thoughtful Secretary,” Ni Lan teased, “You should know this best as the one who arranges all his dates, reminds him of their birthdays and prepares their presents!”
Xiao Mi’s gaze on Ni Lan turned serious as she said, “Ni Lan, that is why I’ve decided to resign.”
Ni Lan looked shocked as Xiao Mi placed another shot in both their hands.
“Cheers!” Xiao Mi cried.
Lan Ming looked down curiously from the raised VIP section in the club to see two men harassing two ladies sitting at the bar. He recognized one of the men as a known player at the club with a bad reputation, Zhi Kai. He sneered, “Wolf going for an easy target.”
The man sitting next to Lan Ming turned slightly at Lan Ming’s comment. Lan Ming watched, startled, as he saw his friend’s usual handsome profile with an easy-going smile turned cold with an edge of light fury in his eyes.
“I’m off,” was all the man said as Lan Ming watched him exit, head straight to the bar and punched Zhi Kai.
Ni Lan kept trying to push away the two men who tried to pull a tipsy Xiao Mi away. Ni Lan saw that Xiao Mi was about to fall off her bar seat and she screamed, “Are your dogs or men?”
Just as Ni Lan was about to use her handbag to start hitting both the men, she heard a loud swish in the air and she watched one of the men fall to the ground.
Before the other greasy men could react, one of the male club staff held him back.
Ni Lan watched as Xiao Mi fell into the arms of a tall man in a dark grey suit. Ni Lan knew who this was but Xiao Mi recognized him first.
“Ni Lan, am I really drunk? Why do I see President Yan?” Xiao Mi blinked furiously as the man stabilized her.
The man didn’t answer her but turned to the male staff and the staff nodded, “We will take care of this, President Yan.”
At that very instant, Xiao Mi became sober.
“Ah,” Xiao Mi quickly moved away from President Yan and grabbed onto Ni Lan. She bowed her head, “Thanks for helping us.”
Swiftly, before Xiao Mi could run away, she felt a sharp pull on her ear.
“Ahhh!” Xiao Mi cried, but she didn’t dare to look at President Yan.
“Good, you are sober,” President Yan said in the eerily cool tone which Xiao Mi recognized as hiding his deep anger, “Come, I will send both of you home.”
“No, no… no need, President Yan, we can make our way ourselves,” Xiao Mi answered hurriedly and not caring how unseemly she looked, started to run towards the exit with Ni Lan.
Ni Lan followed after Xiao Mi, but turned back at the last moment before they exited the club. She wasn’t sure if it was a trick of the eyes due to the dim lighting in the club, but she thought President Yan was smiling.
Xiao Mi waited at her desk nervously the next morning. She raised her head slightly when she heard his familiar footsteps.
“President Yan,” Xiao Mi bowed her head as he entered the office.
Business as usual, Xiao Mi thought. Except, she knew that nothing was going to be business as usual anymore.
She took out the resignation letter she had specially prepared the night before and another white envelope of cash – she embarrassingly recalled after arriving home that she had forgotten to pay for the drinks last night!
After taking a deep breath, Xiao Mi knocked on the office door and entered.
Xiao Mi kept reminding herself to hold her head up as she walked towards President Yan. He had his usual easy-going aura with a friendly charming smile.
“President Yan,” Xiao Mi said in as calm as a tone she could muster, “Please accept my resignation”. With that, Xiao Mi bowed and placed the two envelopes on the desk.
When she lifted her head, she saw that President Yan was slightly taken aback. The edge of his mouth raised, “Xiao Mi, you don’t actually think you need to resign just because I caught you drunk right?”
Xiao Mi flushed as she shook her head, “That was just bad timing.”
President Yan nodded, “I refuse to accept your resignation”. He opened the envelope of cash, “What is this? A bribe?”
Xiao Mi shook her head even harder, “It’s for the drinks last night.”
President Yan laughed, “So, you remembered?”
President Yan pushed both envelopes back towards Xiao Mi, “I refuse to accept any of these. You can return to work.”
“No,” Xiao Mi said in such a forceful tone that shocked both of them.
Xiao Mi said seriously, “President Yan, I’m sincerely grateful for working for you in the last eight years, but I’m equally sincere in resigning.”
“Why? Am I a bad boss? Is the pay not enough?” President Yan asked, his tone still sweet but Xiao Mi could detect an edge of ice.
Xiao Mi smiled, “No, you pay me much higher than the market rate and you are the best boss.”
Xiao Mi couldn’t help feeling like she was in a “it’s me, not you” break-up situation, except how could she actually tell President Yan that it was because she liked him for eight long years and it was breaking her heart?
“I… I have a friend who is starting her own company and is looking for partners,” Xiao Mi replied, “I’ve decided to go help her.”
Xiao Mi saw his eyes darkened slightly. He asked in a gentle tone, “How about I allow you to work flexible hours here and you can work in your friend’s company too?”
Xiao Mi felt her heart sink into her stomach. She looked down as she said, “No.”
There was a long pause. An uncomfortable silence. She felt the heat of his gaze.
Finally, she heard a soft chuckle. She lifted her head up and saw President Yan’s usual smiling face, “Very well, you can leave when you find a replacement that satisfies me.”
Xiao Mi felt her heart sink lower, but she mustered up a bright smile, “Yes, Sir.”
Xiao Mi thought that the hardest part was over – but she thought wrong. For the next month, she brought all kinds of candidates for President Yan but he rejected them all – too pretty, too ugly, too young, too old, not qualified, too qualified.
She wanted to flip his desk. Too pretty, too qualified?
What kind of criteria was he looking for?
And, at that moment, when that question flashed in her mind, her heart immediately retrieved her most precious memory……
She had just graduated. From a normal university with average grades. Her hometown was a third grade city. She had no connections in this busy, glitzy shiny Capital, where opportunities only seemed to unlock for those with the right key. She had sent in resumes to hundreds of companies.
Sitting on a bench in a park, in mid-day, in the business district. Rejected by another interview. Blisters on both her feet. She kicked off her dusty heels. Threw her resume and papers by her side. And sank back, with sadness, weariness and dejection.
She thought then – she would be returning home.
She heard the rustling sound of wings. She opened her eyes and saw many pigeons thronging the bench at the side. Her eyes followed upwards and she saw a man with a delicately handsome face, a slim face with smiling eyes and an elegant nose. He was throwing crumbs of bread from his sandwich happily.
He felt her gaze on him and lifted his eyes towards her. He blinked his eyes and his smile turned coy, “Ah, another beauty attracted to me?”
She didn’t know if she was more taken aback by his audacity or the fact that he called her “Beauty”. For even at her highest, she would only call herself fresh-faced or sweet.
She turned away towards her papers. No more time to waste, she thought, as she started to pack her papers into her bag.
“Are you looking for a job?” She heard him ask.
She turned back and looked into those smiling eyes. They were not teasing or taunting.
So, she sincerely nodded.
He walked over and picked up one of the copies of her resume, “Want to be my secretary?”
She couldn’t help it but a chuckle escaped her. He looked too young to need a secretary.
“Why me?” She asked.
“Because you have a good pair of eyes,” He said, “And, all I need is pair of eyes I can trust.”
To add onto Xiao Mi’s troubles, Xiao Mi’s mother ordered her to attend a matchmaking date with one of Xiao Mi’s mother’s old classmates’ son.
There was nothing to dislike, Xiao Mi thought, when she met him, He Sui. He was from the same hometown. An assistant manager with good prospects. He had a nice clean face with eyes that smiled… almost in the same way that made the ends of her heart melt.
But, he was not him – and that seemed to make all of the difference.
Xiao Mi, on Ni Lan’s advice, decided to give He Sui a chance. And, also, herself a chance.
But, even she did not expect to receive a bouquet of flowers in office the next day. She had never received flowers romantically before, and she slightly panicked. Should she hide the flowers? But, why should she hide the flowers?
Before, she could decide what to do – he arrived.
“Flowers for Mei Jie,” Xiao Mi hurriedly lied, naming one of President Yan’s many girlfriends.
“I don’t remember ordering flowers,” President Yan said as he saw Xiao Mi holding a bouquet of flowers awkwardly. Of course not, Xiao Mi thought, since I’m the one who orders them!
President Yan took a step closer and easily saw Xiao Mi’s name on the card.
“Beautiful flowers,” President Yan said lightly with a smile, and then he left with Xiao Mi’s heart feeling itself being tossed away as lightly as his tone.
A week later, a beautiful well-dressed lady arrived at the office. This surprised Xiao Mi since President Yan generally disallowed any of his dates to come to his workplace.
“Good afternoon,” Xiao Mi stood up with a professional smile, “I’m President Yan’s secretary, how can I help you?”
The lady gave Xiao Mi a curious look as she returned a warm smile, “I’m Xiu Li. It’s no problem. I called Ah Chi before I came and he should be returning soon.”
Xiao Mi smiled pleasantly, “Can I get you any refreshments?”
“Just tea,” Xiu Li said.
At that moment, they both turned towards the familiar footsteps.
“Ah Chi,” Xiu Li smiled.
President Yan did not seem surprised and he wordlessly walked into his office, with Xiu Li following him.
Only Xiao Mi remained outside, her hand moving towards her heart. President Yan, Yan Chi… the girl must be very close to call him Ah Chi.
“Can you remove that annoying smile,” President Yan said coldly as they sat down at his desk.
“Ah Chi, you can be so nice to all girls, but so cold to your childhood friend,” Xiu Li’s eyes narrowed.
“Because you aren’t a girl,” President Yan stated simply.
There was a knock on the door. President Yan made an approving sound and Xiu Li watched Xiao Mi enter with a cup of tea.
Xiao Mi smiled sweetly at Xiu Li. She placed the cup of tea before Xiu Li, and then made her leave.
After Xiao Mi exited, Xiu Li giggled heavily to herself, “She’s the one, isn’t she?”
President Yan took out one of the files, “You are here to discuss about the joint investment project?”
Xiu Li persisted, “I heard from my dad that you made a deal with your dad – if the joint investment project is successfully launched, you can choose your own bride.”
“It’s her, isn’t it?” Xiu Li insisted.
President Yan remained silent but that was enough for Xiu Li. She smiled to herself, this project with her company was three years in the making and even she felt nervous at points that their parents will insist they enter a marriage alliance.
Except, a few days ago, during one night of drinking, President Yan had called out a girl’s name. And, Xiu Li, having known Yan Chi since both of them were young, knew that girl was special.
It seemed like President Yan was in the midst of a huge and important project as he worked endless late nights. Thus, Xiao Mi couldn’t bring herself to mention about her intention to quit again- when all of this was over, she thought to herself.
Every night, she would return with a packed dinner. And, sternly remind President Yan to eat his medicine for his stomach.
Once, Xiao Mi couldn’t help herself and she sighed, “What would I do with you?”
President Yan had raised his head, his eyes sparkling, as he smiled, “Yes, what will I do without you?”
Xiao Mi was used to President Yan’s usual flirtatious words so she had shrugged them off easily with a smile, “Simple, grow up!”
And, she had quickly left before he could respond.
It has been three months since Xiao Mi first met He Sui. She decided that as good as He Sui is, she genuinely only saw him as a friend. So, she made the decision to tell He Sui so at their final date.
The date coincided with the official launch and celebration ceremony of the joint investment project. To Xiao Mi, it seemed like the culmination of everything for her – with the launch of the project, she could finally resign, with her decision with He Sui, she could also hopefully cleanly move onto her next phase in life.
Without emotional complications.
This end would hopefully be a new beginning for her.
So, she was rather at peace, even as she watched President Yan and Miss Xiu Li, representative of the Xiu Foundation, cut the ceremonial ribbon that opened the celebration together.
She watched as President Yan smiled triumphantly on stage – good bye, President Yan. My beautiful eight years.
President Yan’s father patted his son’s shoulder, “You have worked on your own company for ten years. I’m proud of your achievement.”
President Yan smiled, “So, am I finally free?”
His father scoffed, “Fine, you don’t have to marry Xiu Li.”
President Yan’s smile remained as he continued to look at his father.
“And, you can marry whoever you want. But, you will have to return to inherit the company soon…”
Before President Yan could respond, he felt a hard tug at his arm. He saw Xiu Li’s mischievous glint.
“What is it?” President Yan asked.
“Don’t you wonder where your little secretary has gone?”
“Isn’t she …” President Yan paused when he realized Xiao Mi was no longer at the side of the room he saw her earlier.
“I caught her before she left,” Xiu Li gave a devilish smile, “An important date it seems… and I got my driver to send her…”
“Where did she go?” President Yan asked, his face no longer had his usual smile.
Xiu Li grinned, “I want 5% more profits for the first project.”
President Yan nodded.
Xiu Li passed a paper to him, “Pleasure doing business with you.”
“You look beautiful tonight,” He Sui beamed.
Xiao Mi gave an uncomfortable smile and He Sui immediately added, “I know what you are going to say. So, don’t. I know that you have someone else in your heart, but I am willing to be that replacement.”
He Sui reached out his hand towards Xiao Mi’s arm but before He Sui could touch Xiao Mi, he felt another’s strong grip on his hand.
Xiao Mi’s eyes widened, “President Yan.”
“Xiao Mi,” He smiled.
He Sui awkwardly retracted his hand. Ever the gentleman, he stood up with a nod at Xiao Mi, “I guess there’s no need for this substitute anymore. I wish you well, Xiao Mi.”
Oh shit, Xiao Mi thought, as she saw the smile on President Yan’s face widened.
President Yan watched as Xiao Mi’s face reddened. “Xiao Mi,” He added, “You know I’m a fair person… since I’ve ruined your marital fate, I can only repay this debt with my life.”
Xiao Mi felt her heart in her mouth. She couldn’t believe her ears.
President Yan elegantly sat down on the chair as if it was the most natural thing to do. He waved for the waiter.
Xiao Mi finally found her voice, “So, am I now part of your group of girlfriends?”
President Yan ordered a bottle of wine, then turned to Xiao Mi with his usual smile, “I’ve told my secretary to delete all of them.”
Xiao Mi laughed, “So now a secretary has to break up for you too?”
“No,” President Yan said evenly, “I’ve broken up with all of them for a long while already.”
“And, I’ve told my secretary,” He added, “That if this one girl accepts me, then there will only ever be one for me from now on.”
He looked at her with such force and conviction that Xiao Mi felt herself spinning back to that moment so long ago in the park.
She didn’t know if it was because she was too tired that day, or the sun was too strong – but it seemed like everything was golden, and when he asked her, would you be my secretary?
She had wordlessly, her eyes in his, as if caught in a web, nodded.
Just as now, eight years later, wordlessly, sincerely, her eyes in his, she nodded again.