When Xu Chuanchuan returned to the general manager's office after dawdling in the washroom for a few minutes, she found that Murong Shi had already set up the food.
Murong Shi knew that Xu Chuanchuan was the one who had entered the room, so she didn't even bother lifting her head.
After Xu Chuanchuan quickly adjusted her breath and gently closed the door, she tentatively took a seat on the sofa opposite Murong Shi.
"Try the soup first," Murong said in a flat tone.
Upon hearing Murong Shi's words, Xu Chuanchuan immediately reached for the bucket storing the soup and said, "I'll pour it for us."
If Xu Chuanchuan were to let Murong Shi serve her, she would probably have difficulty swallowing her food throughout the meal.
However, as luck would have it, Murong Shi also happened to have the same idea, and their hands ended up touching each other. Upon making skin contact, Xu Chuanchuan's fingertips trembled slightly, and her hands jolted downward. She then held onto the thermos bucket's lower half tightly.
Seeing this, Murong Shi let Xu Chuanchuan have the bucket.
The soup was light, and several wolfberries and drops of oil could be seen floating at the top of the liquid. There were also several pieces of chicken sitting at the bottom of the bucket. Xu Chuanchuan then carefully poured the soup into the two bowls prepared on the table.
Once Xu Chuanchuan was done, she took a look at the clean coffee table and breathed out a sigh of relief.
Fortunately, her hands didn't shake, and she didn't spill any soup onto the table.
After lowering her head, Xu Chuanchuan made a gesture of invitation and said, "You first."
Murong Shi snorted and placed a metal spoon into each bowl. She then said, "We're only having a meal. No need to be so formal."
How can I not be formal?
Xu Chuanchuan tried to be as natural as possible. Even so, only after seeing Murong Shi picking up one of the bowls did she dare make any further movements.
As the thermos bucket was well-insulated, the soup was still piping hot even now. Murong Shi first blew on it a few times before taking a few small sips.
Xu Chuanchuan was much more impatient in comparison, and she wanted nothing more than to finish the meal and leave as quickly as possible. By the time Xu Chuanchuan's bowl was empty, Murong Shi was still leisurely sipping away at her soup. Immediately, Xu Chuanchuan felt awkward and didn't know what she should do as she held onto her empty bowl.
Noticing Xu Chuanchuan's conundrum, Murong Shi pointed her chin at the rice and dishes spread across the coffee table.
"Then…I won't be polite anymore."
While Xu Chuanchuan served half a bowl of rice to herself, she heard Murong Shi indifferently saying, "You should eat more."
After hesitating for a moment, Xu Chuanchuan said, "I don't eat a lot."
Raising an eyebrow, Murong Shi looked at Xu Chuanchuan meaningfully and asked, "Is that so?"
"..." Xu Chuanchuan lowered her head and filled up the rest of her bowl with rice.
There were sweet and sour fish, pan-fried mushrooms and vegetables, braised pig trotters, and black fungus salad served on the table. With Murong Shi's small appetite, she probably wouldn't be able to finish even one-tenth of all these dishes. Xu Chuanchuan also wouldn't be able to finish all of it even if she let herself loose.
And even if Xu Chuanchuan could finish everything, she wouldn't dare do so after the malatang incident.
Murong Shi eventually finished drinking her soup. When Xu Chuanchuan saw Murong Shi filling her bowl with only a small scoop of rice and compared it to the full bowl she got for herself, she grew even more embarrassed. Clearing her throat, Xu Chuanchuan asked, "Why do you have such a small appetite despite being so tall?"
After a slight pause, Murong Shi answered, "I only fill myself partially every meal."
Nonchalantly, Murong Shi said, "So as to not get fat, I have no choice but to let my stomach suffer."
After taking a closer look at Murong Shi, Xu Chuanchuan inwardly thought to herself, No wonder she's so slim.
Sure enough, there was always a price for beauty.
While scrutinizing Murong Shi's body, Xu Chuanchuan inadvertently found herself looking at the other party's thin waist. She would be lying if she said she wasn't jealous of Murong Shi's figure. Suddenly, she regretted filling up the rest of her bowl.
Ignoring Xu Chuanchuan's gaze, Murong Shi repeated, "So, you need to eat more. Don't let the food go to waste."
Xu Chuanchuan: "..." Why do I always get stuck with such difficult tasks?
Xu Chuanchuan began eating her meal in silence. She tricked herself into thinking that her mood would get better so long as she didn't look at the person sitting opposite her.
"It's not working hours now, so you don't have to be so afraid of me."
Xu Chuanchuan's hand holding her chopsticks shook slightly. Feigning calmness, she said, "I'm not afraid. I'm just...not used to this."
"I'm a very easygoing person."
Upon hearing these words, Xu Chuanchuan couldn't help but look at Murong Shi in surprise.
Easygoing? What was up with the bootlicking essay recital and recording session, then?
Murong Shi easily saw through the accusation in Xu Chuanchuan's eyes. However, she paid it no mind and casually said, "But that's on the precondition that you do not offend me."
Xu Chuanchuan: "..." How humble of you.
It had taken Xu Chuanchuan a lot of effort to relax. However, after hearing Murong Shi's words, she started growing nervous again, so she accelerated her eating speed.
Xu Chuanchuan liked to eat meat, but she dared not let herself go in front of Murong Shi. To avoid embarrassing herself, she mainly extended her chopsticks to the two plates of vegetables. Murong Shi, on the other hand, was someone who favored vegetables over meat. Inevitably, their chopsticks ended up colliding with each other at one point.
Xu Chuanchuan hurriedly retracted her chopsticks and indicated for Murong Shi to go first.
Sending Xu Chuanchuan a glance, Murong Shi said, "I couldn't tell that you were such a friendly person."
"Aunt Lian is my mother's childhood friend. Thank you for helping her that day."
The change in topic was too sudden, and Xu Chuanchuan couldn't help but be stunned. Sitting upright, she said, "It's just a small favor. You all are being too polite. If you were in my shoes, you would also do the same, right?"
Smirking, Murong Shi said, "No need to flatter me. I'm not as kind as you are."
"..." Her flattery failing, Xu Chuanchuan looked down awkwardly. When she saw the dishes on the table, a gleam appeared in her eyes, and she said, "Aunt Lian's really good at cooking. The dishes are fragrant, and the soup is also delicious."
Murong Shi nodded in agreement and said, "I'll help you convey your words."
"Then… Please tell Aunt Lian that I've already tasted her cooking, so she doesn't need to bring me any more food next time."
"Mhm. Eat up."
"Have some meat."
"Okay… Thank you, thank you!" Xu Chuanchuan never thought that Murong Shi would serve food to her, and she couldn't help but stand up in fright and accept it as politely as possible.
Murong Shi remained unfazed by Xu Chuanchuan's actions. After serving Xu Chuanchuan a piece of meat and retracting her chopsticks, she said, "Aunt Lian made this specifically for you. If you don't try it, wouldn't you be wasting her good intentions?"
"Yes, yes, yes, I'll eat…" Xu Chuanchuan wiped the sweat on her forehead and placed the piece of braised trotter into her mouth.
By the time the two of them had finished their meal, nearly half an hour had gone by already. However, despite their best efforts, there were still a lot of leftovers. While cleaning up, Xu Chuanchuan aggrievedly said, "I'm not trying to waste the food, but there is simply too much to eat."
Murong Shi didn't respond to Xu Chuanchuan's excuse.
"We could've finished everything if we had another person here." Trying to fill the silence, Xu Chuanchuan asked, "By the way, why don't I see Linda in the office?"
"She's out doing some work at the tax bureau."
"Should we leave these for her?"
"No need. Her boyfriend works close to that place. I think they'll be having lunch together."
"Oh. I'll throw it away, then."
There was nobody in the washroom. Xu Chuanchuan first placed the thermos buckets onto the washstand there. She then made her way to the pantry and found herself some detergent. When she returned to the washroom, she found a female colleague curiously inspecting the buckets on the washstand while muttering, "Who's taking up so much space?"
Xu Chuanchuan hurriedly moved the thermos buckets aside and said, "Sorry, it's me. You can wash first."
Looking at Xu Chuanchuan, the female colleague said, "Oh, Little Xu. You brought your lunch as well?"
Xu Chuanchuan didn't know how she should explain herself.
"Can you finish two whole buckets by yourself?"
Xu Chuanchuan: "..."
Xu Chuanchuan didn't want others to know that she had eaten lunch together with Murong Shi. After hesitating for a moment, she stammered, "I have a big appetite."
Hearing Xu Chuanchuan's answer, the female colleague exclaimed, "No matter how big your appetite is, you can't possibly finish so much food, right? These are buckets we're talking about."
Xu Chuanchuan: ".."
The sound of water splashing entered her ears, and Xu Chuanchuan noticed that her female colleague had started washing her hands. Diverting the topic, she asked, "Have you eaten?"
"I did. I was just about to find a place for an afternoon nap," the female colleague said as she shook the residue water off her hand. The next moment, she suddenly leaned into Xu Chuanchuan and said in a hushed tone, "I heard that Miss Murong has been looking for you a lot recently. Is she planning to give you a promotion?"
Startled, Xu Chuanchuan said, "Impossible!"
"She's not? But you're not part of management. If it's not for a promotion, why would she look for you so frequently?"
Would you believe me if I told you that out of the three times she's called me to her office, two times was to toy with me, and one time was to invite me to lunch?
Even Xu Chuanchuan found these situations to be unbelievable, so she decided not to tell the truth.
"We're only talking about work affairs," Xu Chuanchuan said. Avoiding her colleague's gaze, she poured the detergent into one of the buckets, opened the tap, and started scrubbing away.
However, the female colleague refused to let the matter rest as she continued, "Miss Murong must be very scary, right?"
Xu Chuanchuan's heart thumped when she heard these words. Holding down her conscience, she lied, "She's not scary."
The female colleague looked Xu Chuanchuan in the eye through the mirror and said, "Little Xu, aren't you being too hypocritical?"
"...How am I hypocritical?"
"What are you afraid of? She's long since left the company with Linda, so you can say whatever you want. Nobody will snitch on you."
If Murong Shi is out, did I just dine with a ghost?
Xu Chuanchuan adamantly refused to play along with her colleague. After suffering a loss once, she dared not criticize Murong Shi anymore. Not to mention, she had just enjoyed a meal from Murong Shi. She couldn't possibly badmouth Murong Shi as soon as the meal was over, right?
After washing out the foam in the soap bubbles in the bucket, Xu Chuanchuan mumbled, "I think Miss Murong is a good person."
Snorting, the female colleague said, "Good? Who doesn't know that she's a She-Devil? Not only did she replace the cleaning staff as soon as she arrived, but she even fired three of the warehouse staff. She also made the company rules and regulations stricter than the law. If I weren't too lazy to find a new job, I would've long since resigned. This woman is only relying on her parents to step over us. If not for her parents…"
I don't hear anything, I don't hear anything. Blah, blah, blah. I don't hear anything. Xu Chuanchuan repeatedly hypnotized herself while hoping for her colleague to finish soon.
When the noise entering her ears suddenly stopped, Xu Chuanchuan looked up in confusion.
The first thing Xu Chuanchuan saw was her female colleague staring at the entrance with her mouth wide open and a look of horror on her face.
Following her colleague's gaze, Xu Chuanchuan looked to the entrance and gasped.
Before anyone realized it, Murong Shi had appeared by the entrance and was looking at Xu Chuanchuan's female colleague with unfazed eyes.
After a moment, the female colleague finally snapped out of her daze and said in fear, "Miss Murong, I was wrong. I…"
"You don't have to go to work after noon. Head to human resources and hand in your resignation," Murong Shi coldly interrupted.
Hearing this, the female colleague's face turned as white as a sheet of paper.
However, Murong Shi no longer paid the woman any attention. Walking into the washroom, she placed a mug on the washstand and said to the dumbfounded Xu Chuanchuan, "Help me wash this while you're at it, thanks."
Even after Murong Shi had left the washroom, nobody in the washroom dared speak a word. Seemingly scared silly, the female colleague stood still without moving for a long time. And although Xu Chuanchuan wanted to console her colleague, as she didn't know how to do so, she decided to pretend that she didn't see anything and continued with her cleaning.
I'm joking. I'm serious.
Anyways, we've hit our second donation goal, so ABBR is now going to have 9 releases/week:
Monday ~ Friday - 1 release/day
Saturday & Sunday - 2 releases/day
This change will take effect immediately, so expect to see double releases on Saturday as well!
To further incentivize you all to fund my gacha addiction, I have created two more goals:
Tier 3 - 500$ - +1 release per week (10 releases per week)
Tier 4 - 700$ - +1 release per week (11 releases per week)
If you would like to support the novel, read ahead (up to 20 releases), and support my goal of getting Keqing to max constellations, please visit my patreon and give me your money!
Patreon Link: https://www.patreon.com/hellscythe
Also, if I hadn't said it before, I'll say it now. Thank you. Thank you very much for supporting ABBR. :)
-Hellscythe, 10th June 2021