Duan Ning stood before them in all-white, a half-smile on his lips.
“Long time to see.”

Xia Wennan had never met Duan Ning; he didn’t even know whether he was acquainted with the guy or not, so he turned to look at Ming Luchuan. 

Ming Luchuan had a neutral expression on his face as he gave Duan Ning a nod.
“When did you get back?”

“Last week,” said Duan Ning.
“I got in touch with Siyan.
He didn’t tell you?”

“No,” said Ming Luchuan. 

He Yufeng, who had been following Duan Ning closely, also approached them at this time.
He smiled at Ming Luchuan and said, “President Ming,” before turning to face Xia Wennan.

Xia Wennan met He Yufeng in his first year of university.
He Yufeng, who was two years his senior, was in his third year at the time.
He’d been the student union’s president and an influential figure in their faculty.
They had rarely crossed paths—after all, He Yufeng was an alpha, whereas Xia Wennan was a newly enrolled first-year student.
Even if He Yufeng paid attention to new students, his attention wouldn’t be on Xia Wennan. 

And yet at present, He Yufeng was looking at Xia Wennan with a gentle gaze.
“Wennan, I heard that you got into a car accident recently,” he said.
“You didn’t suffer any serious injuries, did you?” 

“No,” Xia Wennan responded vaguely.
“I’m all healed.” 

Duan Ning, who was also looking at Xia Wennan, held out a hand and amicably introduced himself, “Hello, I’m Duan Ning.”

Xia Wennan shook his hand.
“Xia Wennan.”

Duan Ning smiled.
“It’s an honour to meet you at last.”

Xia Wennan smiled mutely. 

At that moment, the lights in the banquet hall suddenly dimmed, and the melodic music that had been resounding throughout the room came to an abrupt halt.
As the spotlight fell on the main stage, and the emcee began ushering the guests to take their seats. 

Ming Luchuan took Xia Wennan to their assigned seats.
The banquet hall was packed with round tables, with chairs arranged around them.
They weren’t at the same table as He Yufeng and Duan Ning, but shortly after Xia Wennan sat down, he noticed someone waving at him from the next table over.
When he turned to look, he discovered that it was Ming Siyan, and sitting next to him was his alpha boyfriend, Lu Huaiye. 

The charity banquet’s auction was about to commence, the loud chatter in the hall quietened down until it was a soft murmur.

Xia Wennan called Ming Luchuan in a hushed tone, “Hey.”

Ming Luchuan didn’t respond.

Xia Wennan could only close the distance between them to whisper in Ming Luchuan’s ear, “Ming Luchuan!”

“Just spit it out,” Ming Luchuan said. 

“Who’s Duan Ning?” asked Xia Wennan. 

Ming Luchuan slightly paused for a moment, facing the front he whole time, before answering, “He’s a childhood friend.”

“Were you childhood sweethearts?” Xia Wennan asked. 

Ming Luchuan glanced at him from the corner of his eyes and didn’t answer.

“Do you know He Yufeng?” Xia Wennan asked again. 

“Don’t you?”

“He’s my senior.
He was two years above me in uni,” said Xia Wennan.

“Why is he here today?”

“He’s Mo Ze’s boss.”

“Mo Ze?” Xia Wennan hesitated.

“Don’t act all alarmed.” 

Xia Wennan seized Ming Luchuan’s sleeve.
“That Mo Ze?”

Ming Luchuan nodded.

Prior to the launch of Ming Yan’s Emotions line, Mo Ze was Ming Yan’s biggest domestic competitor in the perfume market.
The reason why Xia Wennan was so familiar with Mo Ze was because, when he was reading up about the development of pheromone perfumes, he learnt that Mo Ze was one of the numerous perfume and cosmetic brands that were going all out to develop pheromone perfumes. 

“Then does that mean that my Senior He is your business rival?”

Rather than answering his question, Ming Luchuan’s eyebrows slightly furrowed, his face taking on an unhappy expression. 

Xia Wennan stopped pursuing the matter when he saw that they were auctioning off a piece of jewelry donated by a celebrity on stage, and Lu Huaiye was participating in the bidding. 

Countless people’s gazes were drawn to Lu Huaiye and Ming Siyan.
The warm glow of the light danced across the side of Ming Siyan’s face, highlighting his delicate porcelain doll-like appearance even more.

Xia Wennan suddenly remembered something and asked Ming Luchuan, “On the night of my accident…”

And yet Ming Luchuan’s attention was evidently also on Lu Huaiye, with the way he coldly and casually retorted, “What?”

Xia Wennan had no choice but to raise his voice, “I said—on the night of my accident!” 

Ming Luchuan turned to face him.
“You’re so noisy.”

In a flash, Xia Wennan reached out and pulled Ming Luchuan’s ear until it was right in front of him, his lips pressing against it as he asked, “Was Lu Huaiye at your house for dinner on the night of my accident?”

Ming Luchuan was silent for a brief moment before he answered, “He was.
What’s the matter?”

“Nothing.” Xia Wennan inwardly thought, apart from Ming Luchuan, nobody else in the Ming family could be trusted.
Perhaps it was because Ming Qin gave off an overly youthful impression that made his family members seem a bit odd. 

Lu Huaiye won the auction for the commemorative jewelry.
Ming Siyan, appearing pleased, gave Lu Huaiye a kiss on the cheek. 

Halfway through the event, Xia Wennan ran into Ming Siyan in the toilet. 

Ming Siyan had entered before Xia Wennan, but he was in no hurry to leave, standing in front of the sink, waiting for Xia Wennan.

At this moment, they were the only people in the toilet. 

Ming Siyan watched him from the side as he washed his hands.
“Did you meet Duan Ning today?” he asked.

“Hm,” Xia Wennan responded unenthusiastically, pretending to focus on his hands.
When he finished, he immediately headed for the door.

“Wennan, you don’t remember Duan Ning?” Ming Siyan asked from behind him. 

Xia Wennan could only stop in his tracks and look at Ming Siyan over his shoulder.
“Isn’t this my first time meeting him? Did I know him before?”

“Da-ge never once mentioned Duan Ning?”

Xia Wennan shook his head.

Ming Siyan stared at him for a moment before he slightly ducked his head and smiled.
“Nevermind then.
We all grew up together, so I thought that da-ge would’ve told you about him.”

Xia Wennan smiled back before waving at Ming Siyan and leaving the toilet. 

He stepped out of the toilet to a dimly-lit corridor.
The charity auction was still underway, and the corridor was deserted save for Xia Wennan. 

The glossy ceramic floor tiles reflected Xia Wennan’s figure as he walked along the corridor.
As he walked, he thought about what Ming Siyan had just told him, the way he fell short of shoving a loudspeaker in Xia Wennan’s ear and shouting “Ming Luchuan is having an affair with Duan Ning!”

What on earth was up with the Ming family?

With a heart full of complicated emotions and a smidge of irritation, he turned the corner, hissed out a profanity-filled sentence, and ran headlong into the arms of an alpha.

The alpha’s pheromones smelled of chocolate truffles; it was unexpectedly pleasant.

Xia Wennan hastily took a step back and saw that the tall alpha before him was He Yufeng.He Yufeng gazed down at Xia Wennan with a warm smile on his face.
“Wennan,” he said, “when you’re free, how about we head over to Teacher Lin’s for a meal?”

“Ah?” Xia Wennan had no way to muddle through this conversation.
He looked at He Yufeng dumbly. 

He Yufeng was all smiles as he waited for Xia Wennan’s response, but upon noticing Xia Wennan’s expression, his smile faded, seemingly perplexed.
“What’s the matter, little junior?” 

Xia Wennan opened his mouth but was unable to utter a single word.
He Yufeng’s voice was gentle and rich, just like melted chocolate.
It triggered a subconscious thought in Xia Wennan’s mind: I’m a married man.

☆ ☆ ☆

The author has something to say:
On bathrooms, there are four kinds altogether: male A, female A, male O, and female O.
Betas are free to choose between A and O bathrooms as long as it matches their primary sex.
Xia Wennan usually picks the one that’s nearer.

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