After cooking dinner and enjoying it with Zhao Lifei, Yang Ruqin went home to prepare herself for a photo-shoot next morning.
Zhao Lifei quickly cleaned up the mess in the kitchen, showered, and then retired to her office. She didn't know why she always came into this room, but her office was surprisingly very soothing.
From the light ticking of the clock on the wall, the perfect view of the city, the bright light of the cars beneath, and the calming scent of cotton, everything about this room screamed comfort.
Sitting on the large window isle, Zhao Lifei stared at the city below her. She took a sip of from her wine glass, twirling it around and chuckling to herself at the taste of the lemon water.
Zhao Lifei was trying her best to not drink alcohol because it reminded her of horrible memories of self-hatred and doubt. While staring at the scenery of the city, she unknowingly fell asleep and soon found herself stuck in a nightmare.
- - - - -
Zhao Lifei's phone went off the next morning, startling her from the nightmare she was experiencing. In her tired and groggy state, she reached for the phone.
She groaned at the soreness of her body. "I slept in such an uncomfortable position, no wonder my body hurts," She muttered to herself.
Without looking at the caller ID, she tiredly picked up the phone. "...Hello?" She greeted, her voice laced with heavy exhaustion.
"Xiao Fei, did you just wake up?" The aged, yet deep and powerful voice of her grandfather immediately snapped Zhao Lifei from her sleepy trance.
Despite the fact that Zhao Moyao was not watching her, Zhao Lifei sat up straighter. "Yes, I did." She sheepishly responded.
A low chuckle could be heard. "My dear, it's one in the afternoon. It's not good to sleep that long." He mused. "I hope you didn't fall asleep drinking some sort of wine or whiskey?" Though his voice was light and warm, there was a hidden layer of warning beneath it.
Zhao Lifei cracked a smile, even though she knew he couldn't see it. No, of course not. I promised you I'd stop drinking so much, didn't I?" She picked up the wine glass of lemon water and placed it in the kitchen sink.
After a few seconds of careful thinking, she added, "But that doesn't mean I've been perfect. I drank lemon water out of a wine glass last night."
Zhao Moyao released a burst of hearty laughter at the image of his granddaughter sulking over lemon water. "As long as it's not wine, I am fine with whatever glass you drink from." He was entertained by her words.
He was glad she was finally changing her alcoholic ways. It had already ruined her once. He did not want history to repeat itself.
"Did you have lunch yet, Xiao Fei?" He asked, clearly having an ulterior motive.
Zhao Lifei raised a brow at his question. She prayed he didn't join on the blind dates train. She already had one yesterday!
"Not yet. Did you?" She asked, placing the glass into the kitchen sink.
"No, I did not. How about you have a nice chat with me in one of the restaurants near my office?" He suggested, standing up from the leather chair.
Zhao Lifei already knew he had other plans, but she was too lonely to care. "Sure, I'd love to." She quietly said.
"Good, I will see you in one hour."
"Alright, goodbye, grandpa."
"Goodbye, child." He hung up the phone.
Zhao Lifei began to get ready. She knew if he wanted to meet near his office, she would eventually get dragged into the enormous corporation. So she brushed her teeth, took a shower, and wore something business casual.
Stepping out of the taxi, Zhao Lifei was beginning to garner the attention of a few onlookers. Because the restaurant was really popular and famous among the socialites, the people immediately recognized the former Queen.
Dressed in a white Chanel blouse, Valentino dress pants, and the latest handbag, the women couldn't help but glower at Zhao Lifei. Even when the Queen has lost her throne, she hadn't lost her elegance and grace.
Zhao Lifei already knew the women that frequented this restaurant was famous socialites, so she wore an outfit that would leave them speechless. The only con was that she stepped out of a public cab, instead of a private driver.
"Haha, all those expensive outfits and she stepped out of a peasant car."
"Who does she think she is? Wearing the latest clothes when her credit cards were all blocked?"
"I'm surprised she's even able to buy those brands, didn't Zheng Tianyi blacklist her from those stores?"
"Hmph, she probably had to ask someone to buy it for her. How shameful."
If she heard any of the gossips about her, Zhao Lifei didn't show any signs of it. Instead, she kept her eyes forward and her head up.
The crown might've fallen, but she hadn't. Besides, she didn't have time to engage in their mindless chatter and gossip. If she wanted to, she could instantly snap back. but she was too hungry and tired to do so.
Zhao Lifei skipped the long line and walked straight into the restaurant.
"Ma'am, did you make a reservation?" The woman in the front counter asked, briefly skimming over her outfit. She had been working here for a while now and could instantly smell money; Zhao Lifei seemed to be made of it.
"No, I did not." Zhao Lifei's words immediately caused the women by the entrance to giggle and gossip.
"Hah, now she can't get in."
"Stepped out of a poor car and now she's going to step out with her head low."
"The reservation waitlist here is three months, there's no way she could get in." The women laughed to themselves, clearly not knowing her powerful backing.
"I'm sorry ma'am, but you cannot enter without a reservation." The hostess politely said. She nearly rolled her eyes when Zhao Lifei pursed her lips.
"Ma'am, you're holding up the line. If you don't have a reservation, I'm going to have to ask you to leave." She added on, finally rolling her eyes when Zhao Lifei raised an amused brow.
'If she doesn't have a reservation, why waste my time?' The woman thought to herself.
Just then, a man in an ash grey suit stepped forward. His gaze was cold and stoic, forever in a serious and professional manner.
The hostess at the front immediately bowed at the presence of the man. "Good evening, Manager Tang—"
"Let the honorable guest inside. She doesn't need a reservation." The man's voice was incredibly frigid and the atmosphere around him was eerily calm.
"Tang Sudong, it's been a while." Zhao Lifei said, a smile gracing her face at the presence of her old friend.
His stony gaze softened at her presence. He gently patted her head and resisted the urge to ruffle it.
"Indeed, it has been a while. We haven't talked in two years." He scolded, guiding her inside the restaurant and towards the private room where Zhao Moyao was waiting for her.
The people outside of the restaurant were stunned. They never would have thought the Iron Manager would be able to smile or have such a warm look on his face. All of the employees were equally as surprised.
Tang Sudong never showed special treatment to anyone, regardless of their social status. They could've been an A-list celebrity and he wouldn't bat an eye at the idea of tossing them out of the restaurant. His mindset was completely different when it came to Zhao Lifei. Without hesitation, he beckoned her inside the restaurant.
The people stared at the scene, their mouths open in shock. He treated her like she was VIP or something, even though her current status was way too low in the food chain!
No one knew the long history between Tang Sudong and Zhao Lifei, the woman who saved his life.