Xu Ye didn’t answer. He looked at the milk in front of him, and unconsciously thought of the cup on the coffee table at No. 8 in Hanguan. That night, naked, he was held by the masked Chu Yu, and they talked a lot as equals. He put his head on the man’s chest, he could hear the man’s steady and powerful heartbeat in his ears, he could smell the refreshing aroma of the man’s body on his nose, and he could feel the warmth of the man’s embrace on his skin…


       Memories poured back like a flood, scrubbing every little detail that he had wanted to forget to an incomparable clarity.


       The two times they met, it was only between dom and sub, it was only for the sake of desire.


       But why did he think of him every moment he was lost in thoughts in the past four days?


       The man’s hands, his eyes, the way he held the whip, the man’s voice in his ears…一everything was like a torrent that drowned him. The irritation in his heart that had nowhere to go grew stronger and stronger, and he did not even know whether this irritation was towards that person or himself.


       Xu Ye slammed the glass of milk on the ground in frustration. The glass shattered into pieces, and the splashed glass shards attracted the attention of many people, causing the brown-haired MB sitting beside him to shriek. The person in charge of the bar heard the sound and slapped the brown-haired MB in the face, apologising repeatedly.


       Liu Jing smiled, and said, “It’s alright, let someone clean up a bit. Young Master Xu is not in a good mood today, so let’s get some smart boys to serve you.”


       “No need, I’m not in the mood.” Xu Ye frowned and took a sip from the glass of wine on the table.


       “You’ve only just recovered a little, don’t mess around with your body again.” Liu Jing waved all the people in the private room to retreat, leaving only an MB named Lin to brew a pot of scented tea for them.


       Lin was Liu Jing’s dedicated MB, so his name is not on the list, and he did not have to take other customers. This situation would continue until the day Liu Jing decided to end the sponsorship. Lin was 29 years old, which was considered older compared to other MBs, but Liu Jing liked his understanding of the situation, the understanding of when to advance and to retreat, his gentleness and courtesy, and his submissiveness in bed, so he had never asked for a replacement. At this moment, Lin put away the two cups of tea and quietly withdrew.


       “What’s going on that you’re so upset about?” Liu Jing asked, and then added, “It’s okay if you don’t want to talk about it, I’ll sit with you for a while and we’ll talk about something else.”


       “I’m a pure sub.” Xu Ye suddenly said.


       “I know, that’s why I found a lot of connections to help you get tickets to that circle.” He paused, “It’s just a different way of finding fun, why should you care what others think.”


       “I don’t care about that.” Xu Ye’s eyes were a little empty, “I found a suitable dom who is strong enough yet gentle enough and skilled enough to make me happy and satisfied…”


       Liu Jing was stunned for a moment, and said, “Since everything is good, what are you still dissatisfied with?”


       “I couldn’t go on after the identity of each other was revealed..”


       “Who is he?… A hooligan, male prostitute or something like that?”


       Xu Ye didn’t respond and fiddled with the lighter in his hand. Liu Jing knew Xu Ye was reluctant to say it, so he patted him on the shoulder and said, “It’s a matter of mutual consent. Since you know he’s not suitable, just dump him and find another one. Although there are only a few doms with good skills, it’s not like there weren’t any. Why you keep hanging yourself on the tree1It is a metaphor for being persistent and self-inflicted; only clinging to one person or one road, refusing to let go, and not using other methods or choosing new ways to solve problems?”


       Xu Ye propped his head with his hands, was silent for a while, and then suddenly laughed, “You are really doing a good job of thinking.”


       Liu Jing saw him making jokes and knew that he had finally come around, so he chatted with him for a while before leaving.


       The next day Xu Ye went to the company early in the morning to take care of the business that had piled up due to his sick leave and kept himself busy through work.


       He showed up at the club around eight o’clock on Saturday night.


       Compared to the cramps and nervousness of his first visit here, he was much calmer this time. He sat down in an open spot by the window and talked to people who approached him to get the information he needed. At the same time, his gaze moved through the crowd, looking for his target.


       He had to be of an acceptable appearance, not shorter than himself, not too obscene in appearance and preferably didn’t have a sub for the time being…Xu Ye had cross-checked each of these requirements and found that it was difficult to find a suitable dom. Just as he was looking disappointed, a few people came through the door, causing him to freeze his gaze and subconsciously hold his forehead to shield his face.


       The five people who came in with him were the same ones he had seen on the circular sofa last time. Just now, he specifically inquired about their names.


       Marvin, the man on the far left, was a well-recognised skilled one in the circle, nicknamed ‘Lion’. His whip technique was very famous in the circle. Today he was followed by a new slave, young and well-behaved.


       The man next to him was about thirty-five years old, known as ‘Pharaoh’, a founding member of this club, he didn’t speak much and was very respected. It was said that his bonding and restraint could make the sub mesmerized, and he occasionally gave public lessons and instruction. This time his slave did not wear a harness on his head, showing his entire face. To Xu Ye’s surprise, the slave was a tall man wearing glasses, who looked like an executive of some financial institution.


       The two walking on the right completely use the names from the cartoon ‘Tom and Jerry’, Tom and Jerry. They were in a fixed partnership, both of them could freely switch between dom and sub, and rarely took on other slaves.


       And walking among them was a man called ‘Earl’ with a black feather mask. He was the second youngest of the Chu family and the owner of this club, with a strong presence and great skill.


       They were the rule makers, the ones who stood at the top of the whole circle. Those group of people was always popular, and every time they appeared, they would definitely attract the attention of the entire crowd. Only Xu Ye lowered his head nervously to avoid him. He didn’t know what he was hiding from, but he didn’t want to make any eye contact with the Earl.


       He heard several people around him whispering.


       A said, “I heard a few days ago that the Earl had taken on a slave, and he’s dumped him after only a few days?”


       B shook his hand, “Rumour has it, the Earl hasn’t taken anyone in ages.”


       C interjected, “Who dares to spread rumours? A year ago a red-headed boy came around saying he was the Earl’s man, and do you know what happened to him?”


       “The one named Vic?” B thought for a while and said, “I seem to have heard of such a person.”


       “Yes, it’s Vic. One night he sneaked into the Earl’s special room when he was too drunk, and no one knew where he got the elevator card… Anyway, he woke up the next morning and begged the Earl to be his dom, but the Earl did not agree. Later there was a period of time when the Earl didn’t come to the club, and Vic was here making a show of his authority, going around saying he was the Earl’s man, asking the club to give him a special suite, and even beating a member with old grudges to him into the hospital.” C’s gossip information was quite comprehensive.


       “Shit, that’s a lot of nerve.” A was surprised, “How could the Earl let it go?”


       “Of course he didn’t.” C shook his glass, “I still remember that night, the Earl had Vic tied up in the middle of the venue, and then brought out a long whip. That’s when the guy panicked and begged for mercy. The Earl then said something…” He deliberately kept his mouth shut, and made the two people around him anxious before he spoke again, “He said, ‘If you can still stand up after five slashes, I’ll spare you’. Then he lifted the whip and lashed it. The scene at that time was really… Vic’s chest was torn open, and covered with blood. After the fourth whip, Vic passed out. Later, he was sent to the first aid, and then he was removed and I never saw him again.”


       “My God!” B said in amazement, “That bloody whip on the display is not the same one he used, is it?”


       C nodded, “That’s right, that one. He asked someone to put it there. From now on, no one dares to be presumptuous in the club.”


       A said, “It is said that the Earl accepted a newcomer last week. When I was leaving on Saturday night, I saw him coming down the stairs. Although he was alone, the mask on his face was taken off.”


       “It seems to be true.” B blinked, “It is said that the Earl only plays one-on-one, and when he has a fixed sub, he will take off his mask, which is equivalent to rejecting other people. I don’t know which one of them was so stupid as to hit the jackpot and capsize.”


       Xu Ye was stunned. It turned out that Chu Yu wearing a mask in the club was just a sign that he was single without a sub. Did he take off his mask last Saturday because he took himself as a slave? Xu Ye smiled wryly. No matter how vulnerable the mask was, one day it would be taken off. He was a member of the Chu family, and that was not going to change.


       At this time, C said awkwardly, “Yes, all subs want a dom like that, with money and skills. Unfortunately, he’s too discerning to even look at the Huamei2The Chinese huamei or melodious laughingthrush is a passerine bird of eastern Asia in the family Leiothrichidae. The name “hwamei” comes from its Chinese name 畫眉, which means “painted eyebrow”, referring to the distinctive marking around the bird’s eyes, let alone us.”


       “Look, that Huamei has gone to seduce him again.” A pointed to a distance and laughed, “How many times have these been? He’s really persevering, losing and fighting repeatedly.”


       B looked over there, surprised, “Huh, is this a success? The Earl isn’t going to take him over, is he…”


       Xu Ye followed their gazes. Next to the sofa booth dedicated to the senior members, a handsome man wearing only a layer of gauze was standing in front of Chu Yu, with a pair of phoenix eyes and a charming smile. Chu Yu stretched out his hand, and he knelt down obediently as he pressed his face against his palm, and rubbed it lightly. The hand caressed his cheek, picked up his chin, and rubbed it around his neck, while the man known as the ‘Thrush’ gently let him touch his face.


       The scene made Xu Ye’s chest feel as stuffy as if he had a large stone slab pressed against him. He got up abruptly and walked through the crowd towards the balcony.

In case anyone didn’t realise, it seemed that most of the nickname in the circle is based on animals

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