The dinner party this time was the second dinner party the company had hosted officially. Everyone was happy after receiving an unexpected raise, so nobody was absent from the dinner party on Friday night.
The company had reserved a large hall for the event. After everyone got settled into their seats, Murong Shi stood up and raised a glass of beer, saying, "Everyone has worked hard during this period, and the company's performance reflects this. To show everyone my appreciation, I have fulfilled my previous promise and given everyone a pay raise. I hope everyone can continue working hard in the future, and in return, I will make sure you receive even more benefits."
"All hail Miss Murong!"
Nobody knew who shouted these words, but hearing them made everyone burst into laughter.
Then, Murong Shi smiled and said, "I won't be fooling everyone with juice this time. I am very happy today, so I will toast everyone with beer."
The temptation of money was powerful. It didn't matter whether one could handle alcohol or not. Everyone filled their glasses with beer. Then, all 50-plus people in the room stood up, toasted, cheered, and drank. The atmosphere in the room instantly reached a climax.
Xu Chuanchuan sat in an inconspicuous corner. After finishing a glass of beer, she began quietly eating the food placed before her.
During the first dinner party, almost everyone in the company was dissatisfied with Murong Shi's authoritarian leadership style, with some people even being afraid of her. This time, though, everyone had thoroughly let themselves go, with some people even boldly approaching Murong Shi to toast to her. What was even more surprising was that Murong Shi had responded positively to all of these approaches.
At one point, the colleague sitting beside Xu Chuanchuan invited her to have a toast with Murong Shi as a group. However, Xu Chuanchuan shook her head and said she didn't wish to join in on the fun. Instead, she quietly watched as batch after batch of people flocked to Murong Shi. Xu Chuanchuan also watched Murong Shi tear off the emotionless mask she usually wore and welcomed everyone's alcohol. Then, Xu Chuanchuan wondered to herself, Isn't she afraid of getting drunk?
After another group of people backed away, Xu Chuanchuan got a clear line of sight of Murong Shi. Only two round tables separated them. When Xu Chuanchuan noticed that Murong Shi was seemingly looking in her direction, she hurriedly lowered her head.
The atmosphere inside the dining hall remained high at all times. Finally, unable to bear the noise, Xu Chuanchuan left her seat halfway through the meal and made her way to the restroom.
However, unbeknownst to Xu Chuanchuan, Murong Shi had also followed after her shortly afterward. Hence, when Xu Chuanchuan exited the restroom stall she occupied and saw Murong Shi in front of the sink, she was immediately given a fright.
Meanwhile, Murong Shi also caught sight of Xu Chuanchuan through the mirror. Then, she turned around, chuckled, and teasingly said, "Did you just see a ghost in broad daylight?"
Xu Chuanchuan blushed in embarrassment. Then, she murmured, "It's already dark outside."
Murong Shi stopped speaking after this and extended her hands under the faucet. However, after seeing no water coming out of the faucet for a long time, she muttered, "Is it broken?"
"This isn't sensor-operated," Xu Chuanchuan said. Then, she stepped forward and helped Murong Shi turn on the faucet.
When Murong Shi heard the sound of splashing water and felt cold water pouring onto her hands, she exhaled and said, "So that's the case. Thank you."
"You're welcome," Xu Chuanchuan said. Now that she was standing close to Murong Shi, she noticed that the other party reeked of alcohol. Xu Chuanchuan also noted that Murong Shi's cheeks were slightly red, and her usually sharp eyes had become dull. After pondering for a moment, Xu Chuanchuan asked, "Are you drunk?"
"No," Murong Shi curtly replied. Then, she stepped aside from the sink.
Xu Chuanchuan knew that Murong Shi was yielding the sink to her. So, after hesitating for a moment, she stepped forward and squeezed some hand wash onto her hand.
"Get me some as well," Murong Shi said.
Fortunately, the hand wash here wasn't fixed in place. After Xu Chuanchuan squeezed some for Murong Shi, the two of them scrubbed their hands in silence, neither of them looking at each other.
The two of them finished washing their hands almost simultaneously. This time, without waiting for Murong Shi to ask, Xu Chuanchuan consciously helped her draw a piece of paper towel.
Murong Shi sent a sidelong glance at Xu Chuanchuan at this initiative. However, she said nothing more than a "thank you" to the shorter woman.
Even though Murong Shi had hidden it well, Xu Chuanchuan could still sense the other party's exhaustion. Then, for some inexplicable reason, she said, "You should drink less next time."
"What did you say?" Murong Shi leaned forward. Maybe because the floor was slippery, or perhaps because she was drunk, but Murong Shi ended up losing her footing.
Meanwhile, when Xu Chuanchuan saw Murong Shi's body wobbling, she reflexively reached out and supported the taller woman. However, when Murong Shi's upper body fell into her arms, Xu Chuanchuan couldn't help but fall into a daze.
Fortunately for Xu Chuanchuan, Murong Shi quickly pushed herself upright. Then, looking down, she said in an annoyed tone, "Sorry."
Xu Chuanchuan suddenly felt her face warming up a little. Then, when she looked at Murong Shi's scarily tall high heels, she stammered, "I-I think it's best if I help you out of here."
For some reason, Xu Chuanchuan felt that as long as she were to let go, Murong Shi's chances of falling would double.
Then, Xu Chuanchuan put a hand onto Murong Shi's arm and carefully looked at Murong Shi's complexion. Even if Murong Shi wasn't willing to admit it, Xu Chuanchuan was certain that the woman was drunk.
Murong Shi breathed lightly and observed Xu Chuanchuan for a moment as if pondering something. Then, after some time had passed, she eventually agreed to Xu Chuanchuan's help and replied with an "mhm."
Upon receiving Murong Shi's confirmation, Xu Chuanchuan tightened her grip over Murong Shi's arm.
Meanwhile, Murong Shi flatly asked, "Have you had any alcohol tonight?"
Xu Chuanchuan felt a little uncomfortable when she felt Murong Shi's warm breath hitting her face and bare neck. Then, she hurriedly nodded and said, "I d-drank a little..."
"Have a glass with me once we return."
Stunned, Xu Chuanchuan asked, "Why?"
Putting on a gentle smile, Murong Shi leaned into Xu Chuanchuan's ear and said, "Thank you for taking care of Little Yan these past few days."
However, as soon as Xu Chuanchuan gave her response, her body stiffened.
Meanwhile, Murong Shi struggled free from Xu Chuanchuan's hold. Almost at the same time as she did so, someone opened the door to the restroom and entered. This new arrival was a female colleague working in the Finance Department.
"Mhm." Murong Shi greeted the other party with a nod, the dullness in her eyes instantly disappearing. Then, she stood upright and revealed an energized look, appearing like an entirely different person than before.
Before Murong Shi left, she glanced back at Xu Chuanchuan. Afterward, she left the washroom without looking back.
Meanwhile, Xu Chuanchuan appeared to have been petrified as she stood still for a long time, unsure how she should react.
Just now… Murong Shi licked my ear…
Even after Xu Chuanchuan left the restroom sometime later, her heart remained a mess. When she returned to her table, she only managed to eat a small portion of the delicacies served as she had no appetite whatsoever. Right now, the only thing she wanted to do was to leave as soon as possible.
However, just when Xu Chuanchuan had grabbed her bag and was about to sneak out of the dining hall, Murong Shi suddenly appeared before her with a glass of beer in hand.
"Where are you going?" Murong Shi asked with a smile.
Xu Chuanchuan had no intentions of lying. After wetting her dried lips, she said, "I'm thinking of returning ahead of time."
"Then, have a glass with me first."
It was just one glass. Xu Chuanchuan wasn't afraid she would get drunk because of such a small amount. So, she quickly filled a nearby glass and lightly clinked it against Murong Shi's. Just as she was about to chug down the beer, Murong Shi suddenly held down her hand.
Xu Chuanchuan was confused by this situation.
When Xu Chuanchuan saw Murong Shi suddenly leaning into her, she subconsciously stepped back. However, she forgot that there was a wall behind her, so she ended up bumping into it, her body wobbling slightly.
Meanwhile, Murong Shi stood her ground, her eyes gazing at the shorter woman intently. Then, using a voice that only the two of them could hear, she asked, "Don't you have anything to say about what I did just now?"
Xu Chuanchuan's face heated up at the mention of the previous incident. Then, in a timid voice, she asked, "What are you trying to say?"
Then, Murong Shi curled her lips and said, "I thought you would understand. You've been secretly watching me the entire time, after all."
Xu Chuanchuan bit her lower lip out of embarrassment when she realized she had been caught red-handed. Then, meeting Murong Shi's scorching gaze head-on, she awkwardly said, "That's because...you licked my ear, so I..."
Murong Shi chuckled. Then, dissecting Xu Chuanchuan's bald-faced lie, Murong Shi said, "You've been staring at me even before I licked you. Did you think I wouldn't notice?"
Was I that obvious? Pretending to be calm, Xu Chuanchuan said, "Don't be such a narcissist."
"I'm not narcissistic. Your gaze was just too straightforward," Murong Shi said as she caressed Xu Chuanchuan's reddened right ear.
Xu Chuanchuan felt electrocuted when Murong Shi touched her ear, and she instinctively slapped Murong Shi's hand away. Then, she glared at the taller woman and demanded, "What are you doing?"
"I'm not doing anything. Why are you getting so excited?"
Xu Chuanchuan turned her head away. Then, looking at Little Yan, who was giggling cheerfully in the crowd, she swallowed the saliva in her mouth and said, "I don't know why you're doing this. You clearly have Little Yan already, yet you're behaving like...that...to me. Do you not feel sorry at all for Little Yan?"
"Little Yan? Why should I feel sorry for her?" Murong Shi asked in confusion.
"Isn't she your girlfriend?"
Murong Shi's lips twitched at Xu Chuanchuan's words. "Who told you Little Yan is my girlfriend?"
Taken aback, Xu Chuanchuan asked, "Is she not? Didn't you two already..."
"Her name is Murong Yan, and she's my younger sister."
"..." Xu Chuanchuan was rendered speechless by Murong Shi's words momentarily, her gaze switching between Little Yan and the person in front of her a few times. Then, opening her mouth, she said, "But you two don't look alike at all."
In a helpless tone, Murong Shi said, "She's my cousin. I'm using my mother's surname."
Xu Chuanchuan: "..."
Little Yan is Murong Shi's younger cousin sister???
This was an outcome Xu Chuanchuan had never expected.
Then, what was up with the strange noises I heard before?
However, Xu Chuanchuan didn't have time to ponder the matter as Murong Shi had suddenly grabbed onto her free hand. Startled, Xu Chuanchuan immediately snapped out of her daze. "You…"
Murong Shi moved her face even closer while also deliberately maintaining a certain distance between the two of them. Then, she said, "The truth is, you don't hate me, right?"
Xu Chuanchuan no longer had any room left to retreat. However, she also didn't wish to cause too much of a commotion and attract the attention of others. So, tensing up her body, she said in a trembling tone, "I don't hate you, but…"
"You also have feelings toward me," Murong Shi said, interrupting Xu Chuanchuan's words.
"Y-You drank too much."
Seeing Xu Chuanchuan trying to evade her once more, Murong Shi breathed out a heavy sigh. Then, she said, "This is the first time I've held such affection toward a person, yet I never thought I would still be rejected."
Xu Chuanchuan: "..."
Staring straight into Xu Chuanchuan's eyes, Murong Shi said, "It doesn't matter whether you admit it or not. But, in any case, I now know the answer in your heart."
Stammering, Xu Chuanchuan said, "You're overthinking things. Like I told you before, I don't like women. So, can you please let go of my hand first?"
However, rather than doing as requested, Murong Shi had instead tightened her grip over Xu Chuanchuan's hand. Then, snorting, she said, "You got angry at me last time, yet you're not mad this time. Is this still not enough proof?"
Blushing, Xu Chuanchuan said, "That's because… Because…"
Possibly because of the alcohol, but Xu Chuanchuan felt that Murong Shi's hand felt hot to the touch. Apart from her hand, Murong Shi's gaze and breath when she spoke felt scorching as well. Xu Chuanchuan felt as if she were standing in an oven right now, and her whole body felt uncomfortable. She wanted nothing more than to push Murong Shi away right now, yet her body refused to obey her commands no matter what.
The only part of her body Xu Chuanchuan could currently move was her eyes. As she rapidly blinked her eyes, she found that she had lost even the ability to think.
At this moment, Xu Chuanchuan finally realized what it felt like to look up at Murong Shi from such a close distance. Apart from that, she also noticed that while Murong Shi was looking down at her, those dark and beautiful eyes were so focused that it looked like they only had her in them...
Xu Chuanchuan knew that it was only her misconception, yet she couldn't bring herself to refute this feeling. She also knew that so long as she used a little bit of strength, she could easily struggle free from Murong Shi's hold. Yet, she had somehow forgotten to resist.
Meanwhile, Murong Shi gently squeezed Xu Chuanchuan's palm.
Xu Chuanchuan snapped out of her daze and turned her head away. Then, she said in a decisive tone, "No, I don't like you."
"Then, look into my eyes and say it."
Xu Chuanchua: "..." She dared not look.
Those dark and slender eyes were like a pair of whirlpools that threatened to suck her in. Xu Chuanchuan was afraid she couldn't get out once she got sucked in.
Murong Shi put down her glass. After doing so, she also took away Xu Chuanchuan's glass and set it aside. Although Xu Chuanchuan was taken aback by this action, she didn't say anything to stop Murong Shi.
Then, Murong Shi placed a palm on Xu Chuanchuan's shoulder, looked at her surroundings for a moment, and said in a calm voice, "Why don't we do an experiment?"
After pondering slightly, Murong Shi said, "I will kiss you now. If you dislike it, you can push me away. If you aren't disgusted by it, then that proves you have feelings for me."
"!!!" Xu Chuanchuan immediately pushed Murong Shi away. Then, she said in a suppressed voice, "Impossible!!! There are so many people here!!!"
"Then...shall we change venues?"
Xu Chuanchuan: "..." That's not the point, right?
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