After Zhuo Yue moved back to the small apartment, he stayed at home for three days.

       He did almost nothing during those three days. He just wrapped himself up, curled up quietly on the bed, and held a cashmere plaid scarf tightly in his hand. Sometimes, he would cry silently and suppress the sound, bury his head in his knees, and his shoulder would shake slightly. Lin Hui didn’t know how to comfort him and was afraid that Zhuo Yue wouldn’t be able to think clearly, so he slept on the sofa in the living room and watched over him.

       On the morning of the fourth day, Zhuo Yue walked out of the room with wet hair.

       Lin Hui was startled while half asleep and immediately got up and asked, “Ge, have you taken a shower?”

       “Yes.” He responded softly and asked, “Do you prefer a one-sided or double-sided omelette?”

       Lin Hui was stunned for a moment and then realised, “Ge, if you want to have breakfast, I will buy it for you.”

       “No, I’m used to it.” Zhuo Yue opened the refrigerator and found that there were basically no ingredients except expired milk. He sighed helplessly, “Let’s go out to eat. It’s been a long time since we had breakfast outside.”

       “Okay, okay, but you need to blow dry your hair, or you’ll catch a cold soon.” Lin Hui saw that Zhuo Yue was in high spirits and a relaxed mood, so he went to find a hair dryer to dry his hair.

       The weather in March was already warm, and the wind didn’t feel too cold on the body. Zhuo Yue wore a pair of black-rimmed glasses and a hat while sitting in a corner breakfast shop drinking soy milk. Around him were young people doing morning exercises, children hurrying to school, and elderly people accustomed to rising early. The lively scene was full of vitality.

       “Ge, try this.” Lin Hui brought several baskets over, “The xiaolongbao here tastes great.”

       Looking at the steaming buns before him, Zhuo Yue remembered the first time he tried to make buns in Hanguan. He kneaded the dough while watching the tutorial. Fang Mingyan leaned aside and watched, wiping the flour off his face with his fingers. The buns that were finally made were too thick and ugly, but the man ate them all in the end.

       With sore eyes, he lowered his head and took a bite. The hot juice wrapped in the thin skin melted in his mouth.

       “Be careful! It’s hot!” Lin Hui hurriedly handed him a tissue and said, “Spit it out.”

       The burning pain occupied his mouth, and he swallowed hard, smiling in the steaming mist.

       It was so sorrowful that it made one’s heart ache.

       After breakfast, Zhuo Yue received a call from artist manager Shen Luo. The other party on the other end of the phone said coldly, “I’m not interested in knowing where you have been after disappearing for so long. I just want to ask you if you can start working now?”

       “I can.” He replied.

       “Okay, today at two o’clock in the afternoon, ‘Entertainment Weekly’ has scheduled a two-hour cover photo shoot. Get ready.” Shen Luo hung up the phone. She glared at Fang Mingyan who was sitting behind the boss’s desk angrily, and fired like a barrage of questions, “Previously, when you brought that person in, I asked you if it was that kind of relationship. You swore it wasn’t and said everything would be under my control. So I managed it, and then what happened? Just when they started to gain some fame, you hid them away and wouldn’t let me intervene in anything. Fine, I stepped back, and now you throw them back to me. Big Boss Fang, what exactly are you playing at?”

       “Calm down.” The man said leisurely with a lazy smile on his face, “You are always so angry, there are more wrinkles on your face.”

       “This is all because of you!” She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, “Please give me a clear explanation today. What are you going to do about Zhuo Yue?”

       “I’m arranging his schedule for the time being. I’ll hand it over to you after a while.”

       “As you wish.” Shen Luo finished venting her anger and looked at him sideways, and said, “This kid has a pretty good temperament. If you really like him, then get rid of your womanising ways and take him home to take care of him properly. If you don’t like him, then let go quickly. Don’t torment him, and don’t torment me either.”

       Fang Mingyan raised his eyebrows, “When did I start messing around with women outside?”

       “…That’s not the point!”

       Zhuo Yue had gained a lot of popularity in the film industry and on the internet, and with his handsome appearance and low profile, he had received little negative press, so many businesses were willing to come to him for commercials. Some film and program crews had also been in frequent contact with Huasheng, wanting to invite him to film movies or appear in various shows. Although the salary offered was very considerable, the company suppressed it without any reason. They only arranged some pictorials and cover photos for him. After a while, he started to take pictures in the studio and participate in announcements.

       In early April, he officially signed a contract to become the spokesperson of Baihe’s high-end buffet restaurant chain. Baihe needed to shoot a series of commercials, so he spent several days filming at its headquarters restaurant.

       At noon, Xu Ye, the group’s president, visited the set in person and had lunch with them.

       The two of them chatted while eating.

       “When I went last time, you had already moved out from Fang Mingyan’s place. And I heard that there were some problems between you.” Xu Ye paused and asked, “Did Fang Mingyan propose to terminate the relationship?”

       Zhuo Yue nodded.

       “This guy is really…” Xu Ye gritted his teeth, “So irresponsible.”

       “It’s my fault.” His eyes were full of gloomy sadness, “I deceived him about some things, and that’s why it happened like this.”

       Xu Ye couldn’t help but feel a little distressed when he saw him like this. He pondered for a moment and said, “Do you still like him now?”

       He lowered his eyes to hide the emotion in his eyes and said softly, “There is no point in talking about this now.”

       “Of course it does.” Xu Ye patted his shoulder comfortingly, “If you really want to go back to him, I will try my best to help you.”

       Zhuo Yue was startled.

       The other party raised his eyebrows and smiled, “But whether you can succeed or not depends on how determined you are.”

       Spring was in full swing, and the air was still damp from the recent rain.

       As the city lights were starting to turn on, Fang Mingyan’s car stopped at the entrance of an unassuming small bar in the east of the city. A special silver elevator took him to the second floor. The large, brightly lit venue was as gorgeous as a pearl wrapped in an ordinary shell. Crowds of people scattered in twos and threes and greeted him one after another when they saw him, including many subs with admiring eyes. Without stopping, he casually took a c0cktail from the waiter’s hand and walked straight towards the VIP seating area.

       Four men were chatting in the sofa area embedded in the floor design. Fang Mingyan sat down next to Qin Mu and shook the wine glass in his hand as a greeting. He glanced at the bondage and training performance going on on the central stage, and frowned, “Since when has this level of skill been enough to perform on stage?”

       Xia Ran, who was sitting opposite him, smiled and said, “That Dom just came over to ask the Pharaoh for advice, and the Pharaoh asked him to go up and show it.”

       Sima Jun held Xia Ran’s waist and shook his head in disgust, “Don’t talk about arousing interest, this kind of tying method is going to make that Sub vomit.”

       Xia Ran rolled her eyes at him, “The first time you tied me up, you almost killed me.”

       “You don’t have to rehash old scores.” Sima Jun looked embarrassed and immediately changed the subject, “Pharaoh, I think you need to teach him from the very basics. This Dom skill is simply appalling.”

       Lawyer Qin Mu, who was wearing a black suit, smiled and snapped his fingers. He summoned the slave who was kneeling not far away and ordered, “Have them stop the performance and tell that Dom to wait for me in the side hall after today’s event.”

       “Yes, Master.” The slave responded briefly and went to do it immediately.

       This was a high-end BDSM club called the East Coast, which was owned by the Golden Eagle Group. The club had its own intricate social system and strict hierarchy. The high membership fees and rigorous entry requirements determined its membership composition. Multiple confidentiality measures and strict member regulations constrain members’ behaviour while protecting their privacy.

       The few people sitting in the VIP area at this moment were not only the founders of this club but also the masters who stood at the top of the entire BDSM circle. They reversed the initial violent BDSM trend, established game rules to protect the personal safety of subs, and cleared the boundaries of the circle. At the same time, they were top Doms regarding technical skills in their respective fields.

       Chu Yu, the leader of the Golden Eagle Group, was nicknamed ‘Earl’; lawyer Qin Mu was nicknamed ‘Pharaoh’; Sima Jun and Xia Ran could switch between Dom and Sub, using the name ‘Tom’ and ‘Jerry’—also known collectively as the cat and mouse duo. In BDSM, the Dom needs to design all game content, control the rhythm, and ensure safety, while the Sub often only needs to cooperate or endure, which results in a quantitative difference between the two. Doms with excellent skills and meticulous attention to detail were often very popular, so several of these people here were very popular. However, compared to them, the ‘Lion’, Fang Mingyan, was more popular with Sub. Because the Earl was married, the Pharaoh was abstinent, and the Cats and Mouse were self-sufficient, he was the only one who was easier to get close to.

       Everyone on the East Coast knew the three rules of the Lion; no relationships, no newcomers, no eating the grass by the nest1is a Chinese proverb that means not to take advantage of or cause trouble in one’s own community, workplace, or immediate surroundings—that means, no artists in the entertainment industry were involved. He was a hedonist who separated desires and emotions very well. He had many slaves under his command and replaced them quickly.

       At this moment, Mr. Lion was putting his long arms on the back of the sofa, looking up at the ceiling and complaining, “Boring.”

       Xia Ran glanced at him, “Where are your slaves?”

       “Tired of it.”

       “Then go find a new one. Just wander around the place, and you’ll find plenty of subs willing to submit to you.” Sima Jun said.

       “Not interested.” He leaned on the sofa and drank the wine in his glass slowly.

       “I think tonight won’t be too boring.” Chu Yu, who had been silent, glanced in the direction of the entrance and curled his lips.

       Fang Mingyan followed his gaze and was startled, his brows furrowed.

       Xu Ye, wearing a dark blue suit, walked toward them with a smile. Behind him was Zhuo Yue, who was wearing a white formal suit. Both of them were handsome and tall, attracting the attention of many people along the way.

       Xu Ye led Zhuo Yue into the VIP seating area. Just as he was about to speak, he heard a deep voice say, “Why are you here?”

       Zhuo Yue raised his head to face the man. His eyes trembled and he said, “I…”

       Before coming here, he had thought about many opening remarks. However now, when they met again, he couldn’t even say a complete sentence. He could only stand helpless and look at the other person with deep gazes.

       Xu Ye saw this and asked slightly provocatively, “Why can’t he be here?”

       The atmosphere in the area became interesting. Qin Mu glanced at Zhuo Yue and raised his lips slightly. Sima Jun and Xia Ran exchanged glances with each other, silently observing the changes. Chu Yu didn’t interfere and looked at them silently.

       “Is the current review process so relaxed that ordinary people can come and go at will?” Fang Mingyan’s tone was a bit cold.

       Xu Ye took out a card with the club’s emblem from Zhuo Yue’s pocket and said, “Look carefully. He is a newly approved member today.”

       The man frowned, “Xu Ye, you do not have the right to recommend someone who has no interest in BDSM as a member.”

       “I was his recommender.” Chu Yu, who was sitting aside, spoke slowly. “On his application form, it was clearly written that he had experience as a Sub and had established a master-slave relationship with his partner. So I think he has the qualifications to become a member.”

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