BXXD Chapter 7: You’ll really do anything for money

I woke up blearily. My stomach felt extremely uneasy as soon as I sat up, and an enormous wave of nausea crashed over me. Without even putting on my slippers, I threw aside my blanket and rushed to the bathroom so I could hug the toilet and throw up violently.

After vomiting to the point of exhaustion and seemingly expelling every last trace of bile in my stomach, I sat on the floor and rested for a few minutes before I finally got up sluggishly to wash my face and rinse my mouth.

The nausea and the vomiting were typical side effects of the medicine, but I wasn’t throwing up daily. Up until now, I had only thrown up three or four times. It wasn’t very clear what the trigger was, but it probably had something to do with the state of my health during that time frame.

Once I was done washing up, I changed clothes and took one last look at the rooms that I had cleaned up neatly. Then, I slung my cello onto my back and left my apartment with my luggage in tow.

As I was going down the elevator, I just happened to run into the uncle next door, who was about to go out for a stroll with his dog.

The dog had long black fur. When it trotted along the ground, it was easy to carelessly mistake it for a mop that had come to life.

I had only ever encountered that uncle a few times in the past. If we ran into each other in the complex, we usually just nodded at each other in greeting; at most, we would ask if the other person had eaten already. After smiling and nodding at him, I quietly retreated to the corner of the elevator so I wouldn’t block the way of anyone else getting on later.

“Going on a business trip, huh?” Perhaps the uncle felt like it was a bit awkward to stand in the elevator together without conversing. Upon seeing my luggage, he decided to initiate the conversation himself out of curiosity.

I glanced down at my huge white suitcase and said, “Yes, a long one.”

“You young folk really have it tough. But you still have to take care of yourself even while making money, okay? Your complexion doesn’t look too good.”

Startled, I resisted the urge to touch my face as I forced a smile and nodded. “That’s true. I probably haven’t been getting enough rest these days.”

The elevator descended downwards and swiftly reached the first floor, where the uncle stepped out with his dog. Dragging my suitcase, I fell into step behind him, but after walking a short distance, I discovered that the little black dog was looking back at me.

So cute.

I remembered that there were many alleyways, restaurants, and stray animals near my high school.

Generally speaking, the cats liked to keep to themselves, whereas the dogs gathered around other dogs. But there was a little black dog near the school that was different from the others: it was always fond of hanging around a golden-brown tabby cat. The two of them were often inseparable, and they would coax the students into buying sausages for them by acting cute and rolling around on the ground. They got by for many years just like that.

There were many other dogs and cats at the school, but none of them left as deep of an impression on me as that pair did. I had no idea how they were doing nowadays—did they part ways? Were they still alive? Did… a kindhearted person end up adopting them?

Just like our trip to Lion King Island last week, I waited at the pier, and one of the Jin family’s crew members quickly found me. Once he confirmed my identity, he led me onto the boat.

After nearly an hour of jolting along the surface of the sea, the yacht finally reached the shore. Probably because I had just thrown up that morning, my stomach still wasn’t fully recovered. Even though I didn’t have any reaction on the boat last time, I felt a bit seasick this time.

My complexion was still quite poor by the time I met Jin Chenyu. It was so bad that after exchanging a few words with me, he didn’t have it in him to keep going, and he urged someone to take me away so I could rest.

“Teacher Ji, there’s no need to bother with formalities here. Just treat this place as your home, and think of me and Yuanbao as your younger brothers.” He slung his arm around my shoulders as we made our way over to the main entrance. Two people followed behind us with my luggage and cello.

Even with this ruined brain of mine, I could tell that he was merely being polite, and that I shouldn’t take him seriously.

“I’ll teach the little young master as best I can, so as to warrant the pay Mr. Jin is giving me.” Since he was using banal formalities with me, I did the same with him.

To tell the truth, the Jin family had extended their olive branch at the perfect time. First of all, the orchestra was a mess. Even though I wasn’t the one who injured Director Xin, I was still somewhat involved in the incident; the other person also had more connections than me, so there was no point in me staying any longer. 

Secondly, I had been trying and failing to come up with a way to get close to Ran Qingzhuang. Now that I was on the island and was working in the same place as him, we would cross paths regularly, and I would inevitably have a chance to interact with him. 

Thirdly… the salary offered by the Jin family was extremely high. Butler Feng said that I wouldn’t be able to find anything better than this, and it was true.

“My parents are rather busy, so just let me know if you need anything. But if you can’t find me, you can also tell Uncle Feng, or… you can tell Ran Qingzhuang, since the two of you are close anyway.” Jin Chenyu patted my shoulder with a smile and sent me to the car.

He was clearly only in his early twenties, yet his words—and everything left unspoken between them—were suffused with the air of someone who was well-versed in this line of work. He was always speaking in a roundabout manner, constantly probing and suspecting. It was more exhausting to have a brief exchange with him than it was to converse for an entire day with someone else.

Lion King Island was divided into two regions. The casino and the luxurious five-star hotel were located on the east side; the Jin family operated and resided on the west side. In this situation, the “Jin family” included, but wasn’t limited to, Jin Chenyu and the other three members of his family.

A worn, white rectangular building stood five hundred meters from the castle. It was meant for the workers, and it was also the place where I stayed last time. There was another red building a little farther away, about two kilometers or so, that was a bit newer and a bit more modern in style. This one was meant for the group’s internal personnel, and it was also the place where I was going to be staying from now on.

Before the car even rolled to a stop, I saw a young man jog over from the front of the building. His hair was dyed blond, and he was wearing a black sweatshirt with scribbles scrawled across the front. His frame was very small, and he didn’t even look to be twenty yet.

After opening the car door for me, he stood next to the vehicle and introduced himself, full of vigor. “Thank you for your hard work! I’m Little Pineapple, the person who’s been assigned to show you around! Please just call me Pineapple!”

I stared at him blankly, a bit stunned by his enthusiasm. “Ah, hello, Pine… Pineapple…”

Perhaps he noticed my struggling. Scratching his head, he said, “Never mind, you can just call me Ah Qiao instead. My real name is Chen Qiao.”

I heaved a big sigh of relief. This time, I uttered his name very fluently.

Chen Qiao dragged my luggage in one hand and carried my cello in the other as he led me into the red building. I wanted to carry it on my own, but he sternly refused me. The expression on his face made it seem as if I would be looking down on him if I didn’t let him take it for me.

The people in this line of work were truly hard to understand.

“This building is just like a corporate dormitory. Some people who usually live far from the island stay here, but not everyone does. A lot of people have residences in Chonghai because they think it’s too boring on the island.” As the elevator went up, Chen Qiao diligently introduced the place to me.

“There’s a cafeteria in the building. You can call them to ask for food to be delivered to your door, and it tastes pretty good. Also, there are eighteen floors total. The junior members live on the lower floors in shared rooms with bunk beds, and the corporation’s upper management is randomly assigned rooms on the higher floors, so they have a place to stay when they’re on the island.

“Because of Sister-in-Law’s relationship with our Yao-ge, we went ahead and arranged for you to live with him. His apartment is a suite with two bedrooms, so you two can sleep together if you’d like. If you don’t want to, it’ll also be peaceful to separate occasionally…”

I interrupted him. “What did you just call me?”

He blinked and said innocently, “Sister-in-law?”

I received quite a shock because of those three words. After the astonishment passed, I began to see the humorous side of it.

“Don’t call me that.”  Considering how fast word of the minor incident involving me and Ran Qingzhuang had spread, it seemed like the island was indeed a little boring. “Just call me Ji Ning.”

“Oh okay. Got it, Ning-ge!” Chen Qiao swiftly amended.

Chen Qiao opened the door with a passcode and ushered me in first while he closed the door behind us.

Most likely because it was just temporary housing, the large living room didn’t contain any personal items, apart from a few scattered pieces of workout equipment.

After rolling my suitcase into one of the rooms, Chen Qiao explained how to use some of the electrical appliances in the apartment and helped me record my fingerprint for the door lock. Once all of that was finished, he started to head out, but I called out to him before he could leave.

“Wait a second, is Ran Qingzhuang… on the island?”

With the door propped open, Chen Qiao smiled weakly at me and said, “My apologies, Ning-ge. I have no way of knowing Yao-ge’s schedule at my rank.”

That was my fault, for being impolite and thoughtless.

“That’s fine, you can go.”

Chen Qiao made a noise of agreement and closed the door behind him as he left.

The bedroom was about the same size as the room I rented previously in Chonghai. It was neat and tidy, and the scenery outside the window was excellent, filled with lush greenery as far as the eye could see.

After I had more or less put everything away, I heard a sound come from the lock to the front door. I knew that meant Ran Qingzhuang was back, and I immediately grew nervous.

Holding my breath, I hesitated as I listened to the noises coming from the living room. I didn’t know if this was a good time to go out there.

I struggled internally for about ten minutes before I wiped my sweat-soaked palms against my clothes. Then, I pushed open the door and quickly strode out.

Ran Qingzhuang paused, caught in the middle of lifting up his shirt. He glanced at me before he continued where he left off and discarded his shirt completely. A silver ring, threaded on a leather cord around his neck, swayed a bit with his momentum.

It was too dark last time, so I couldn’t see him very clearly. Now that it was daytime, the numerous scars riddling his body were all the more shocking to see.

He must’ve known for a while now about something as big as me moving in with him, or else he wouldn’t have stayed so calm when I came out of the bedroom. But knowing about it was one thing, and being happy about it was another thing entirely.

After tossing the shirt onto the sofa, he started walking straight towards me, kneading his neck.

I swallowed unconsciously and remained rooted in place, not daring to move.

Upon arriving in front of me, he lowered his gaze, as if he was staring down at me haughtily from above. I was significantly shorter than him, and he shot me a look as he said, “Get out of the way.”

Only then did I notice that I was blocking his path to the bathroom, and I hastily took a large step to the side.

“I’m sorry.”

Thanks to my change in position, his back came into view. There were still some lingering blue-purple marks on it, seemingly the result of being struck by a club. My guess was that this was most likely the punishment from breaking the rules last time.

All of a sudden, Ran Qingzhuang came to a stop. I thought that he was displeased because of how unrestrained my staring was, but he proceeded to ask a completely unrelated question. “Why did you accept this position?”

There were many reasons why, but I didn’t really think that he would be interested in hearing about them, nor would he understand them. As a result, I chose to tell him the reason that was the hardest to find fault with, as well as the most simple and straightforward.

“Because it pays well.”

When Ran Qingzhuang heard that, he instantly let out a scoff. “Because it pays well,” he repeated, before he turned around with ice in his eyes. “You’ll really do anything for money, huh.”

Probably because I was already feeling guilty in front of him, I kept getting the impression that he was alluding to something else with his words, not just the current matter at hand.

“…I need money very badly.”

Ran Qingzhuang said, “I have no interest in learning about your business.”

I pressed my lips together and fell silent.

“We should each mind our own business. As long as you remain obedient, do as you’re told, and don’t say things that shouldn’t be said, we can coexist peacefully. Remember this: don’t get in my way.” After that, he turned around again and continued walking towards the bathroom.

I chased after him a little as I hastily clarified my own stance. “Don’t worry, I won’t say anything. I—I can help you. Just like last time, I can be your cover. If you need anything, you can always tell me.”

Ran Qingzhuang went into the bathroom and ignored me completely, as if he didn’t hear me at all.

The sound of running water traveled out of the bathroom soon after. I sighed, staring at the frosted glass of the closed bathroom door, before I turned and saw the discarded clothes lying on the couch. After making my way over, I shook out each article of clothing, one by one, and folded them into a neat pile. Once that was done, I finally got up and went back to my room.

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