For a moment, he couldn’t answer. Then, he finally motioned to the reception. “I’m applying for a job.” Anyway, Si Tao knew that he had been looking. “What are you doing here? Don’t you both live in Shanghai?” Actually, he didn’t know about Si Tao’s girlfriend but he had imagined that that was the case. After all, hadn’t she been working at that pet cafe the other day? Surely, she wouldn’t do that if she was from somewhere else.
Si Tao raised his brows in surprise. “You’re applying here?” He also motioned over to the reception.
Li Ming nodded. “Mn. I asked around about …” He glanced at Si Tao’s girlfriend but then figured that with how open Si Tao was, she probably knew. Turning back to him, he smiled wryly. “Well, when I thought about what I’d miss most about the railroad station, it was how open I could be because everyone was so accepting of me being gay. So I wanted to find a place that doesn’t discriminate. I asked some friends and only heard good things about this chain so I tried my luck. Today’s the job interview.”
Si Tao rubbed his chin, a bright smile on his lips. “Well, what can I say? My companies are all very open-minded.”
Li Ming stared at him, his thoughts not catching up with him for a moment. His companies … He tilted his head and blinked, finally pressing his eyes shut before looking at Si Tao strangely. “Did you just say ‘my’ companies?”
Si Tao nodded, his expression especially proud. “Yes, did Mo Fang never mention how I owned several businesses?”
Li Ming rubbed his forehead. “Well … he did. I guess I just had a different expectation as to what that meant.” He had been to Si Tao’s restaurant more than once both with and without Mo Fang. The place was clearly going very well so he had never doubted how business-savvy Si Tao was.
But he had figured that his other establishments were the same: restaurants or maybe bars or a club that were of about the same scale. He never would have thought that he also had establishments outside of the restaurant business. A hotel … that was different. A whole hotel chain? That was just insane.
Si Tao laughed when he saw his expression. “Well, Mo Fang was always good at understating things. Happens if your family is that filthy rich.”
Li Ming’s lips twitched. Somehow, he didn’t think that a person owning a hotel chain should curse somebody else’s family as ‘filthy rich’. That was just so wrong. “Well, so it’s your hotel. That’s … a bit awkward.” After all, the other day, he had still said he didn’t need help and now he coincidentally applied to Si Tao’s hotel. Did that really still look like a coincidence?
Si Tao just laughed though. “Relax! Today, I only came in on a whim to show Xiao Lan the place. Right!” His expression suddenly changed and he turned to his girlfriend. “You remember Li Ming, right? He came to the pet cafe with his friends the other day and we had that awkward conversation that I beat myself up about for days afterward.”
Tong Lan nodded. “Yes, I remember. You were looking at me so strangely when you came in and that cute girl you had with you ate half a cake in one bite.” She laughed when she remembered that scene, even though she had been afraid one of her customers would choke right in front of her.
Li Ming’s smile turned even wrier. “Well, that was us, yes.” He rubbed his neck, not sure what to say. “I’m sorry? That day, I figured I knew you from somewhere but couldn’t place you. Actually, your boyfriend had shown … me a picture of you before. I just couldn’t remember at that time.”
Tong Lan shook her head. “Don’t mention it! Ah Tao already told me everything afterward. I’m sorry things were awkward for you but I really didn’t mind. Anyway, sometimes, people just look at me strangely for the clothes and the wig but I’ve always felt it’s a feature for a pet cafe.” She laughed again, clearly happy just thinking of the pet cafe.
Li Ming looked at her and couldn’t help but smile back. He understood what Si Tao liked about her. She was … really the type that was easy to get close to. She seemed to love her job and just had this energy that seemed contagious. All the awkwardness from when they met unexpectedly was blown away.
“Well, I’m not sure if I’m the right clientele but that girl you mentioned definitely liked it very much. I think she was disappointed we had to leave again so fast.”
“Mn, I know. She actually came in again just a few days later.” Thinking of that, her expression was a bit strange. “Well, she was dressed up a bit weird but I’m pretty sure it was her.”
Li Ming chuckled. “That was one hundred percent her. She has this bad habit of getting embarrassed too easily and then trying to dress up so the other person won’t recognize her.” She had tried the same with Teacher Linghu and it hadn’t worked. Now, it seemed she had done the same at the pet cafe. Actually, he was surprised she hadn’t just gone to another one. It wasn’t like Shanghai didn’t have dozens to choose from.
Just when Tong Lan wanted to respond, a door on the other side opened and steps sounded.
Li Ming glanced over and saw a man in maybe his late thirties coming toward them. He was wearing a suit, looking very much like how he would imagine a manager at a facility of a hotel chain to look like.
The man nodded toward him when he stopped a few steps away and then turned to look at the couple next to him, only for his expression to derail immediately. “Boss Si?!”
Suddenly, that demeanor of a manager was all swept away. Li Ming couldn’t help but turn his gaze away, not wanting to witness the scene that would follow.