Chapter 279 - Coerce

"Miss Zhou."

"Hmm?" Zhou Yilin turned to see a hand shot past her face and was placed on the wall behind her.

Seeing the sight of the man trapping the woman against a wall, someone in the distance gasped out in surprise. Wearing a dandiacal smile on his face, Ouyang Yi asked, "Miss Zhou, can you give me Zhong Lin's phone number?"

Zhou Yilin looked at her with an indifferent gaze and spat out a word icily, "No." She then took a step back and detoured around him.

Ouyang Yi followed after her, "Why not?"

"Both of you are not suited for each other," Zhou Yilin said nonchalantly.

"How would you know that we are not suited?" Ouyang Yi grabbed hold of Zhou Yilin's arm.

Zhou Yilin stopped and turned to look at Ouyang Yi before she enunciated her words clearly, "Anyway, I won't like someone like you."

The smile on Ouyang Yi's face faded. He stared at Zhou Yilin and said, "You are not Zhong Lin, how would you know if she would like someone like me or not?" Ouyang Yi deliberately emphasized on the few words, ‘someone like me’.

"Do you think she will listen to your words or mine?" Zhou Yilin asked with a half-smile.

The answer was obvious. Ouyang Yi was at a loss for words; he seemed to have met his match.

"Don't come to Raphanus Courtyard in the future. That's my place and I hope that Vice President Ouyang will stop intruding." Zhou Yilin lifted her chin slightly and said arrogantly.

Ouyang Yi watched as Zhou Yilin walked away gracefully. He narrowed his eyes and mumbled under his breath, "I’ll go if I want to, what can you do about it?" Now, in Ouyang Yi's eyes, Zhou Yilin was the villian who was refraining him from seeing the person he liked.

Zhong Lin and him had only known each other for a week; it was clear that Zhong Lin wouldn't get into a conflict with her blood-related sister over him. In this matter, he was at the trailing end.

But, he was not afraid of any challenges!

For the next few days, Ouyang Yi appeared at Raphanus Courtyard but Zhong Lin had never appeared. He even went to ask the young children at the orphanage about it and they told him that they hadn't seen the two big sisters around recently.

In the eyes of the young children at the orphanage, Zhong Lin was someone dressed casually with her hair tied into a ponytail. Whereas, Zhou Yilin was someone with a chic makeup look, fashionable clothes, and doused with expensive perfume. To them, they were two different individuals; one of them was approachable and wasn't afraid to get dirty with them, while the other would always keep her distance and never smiled.

Ouyang Yi thought that Zhou Yilin barred Zhong Lin from visiting the orphanage. Hence, on that night, he called Zhou Yilin and questioned if she had hidden Zhong Lin.

"Yeah, find her if you have the ability to. Don't call me and grumble," Zhou Yilin hung up the call.

Ouyang Yi laughed out of frustration.

Indeed, the next day, he started to search for Zhong Lin all over the city. He even made use of many of his connections, but it would be a horror movie if he could really find Zhong Lin somewhere else.

In the end, he could only go find Zhou Yilin.

Meanwhile, with the help of Zhou Yilin's capable assistant, Manager Lin, An Xiaotian redid the document and her work was recognised by Zhou Yilin. Hence, Zhou Yilin started to take notice of her.

Lucky people were those who caught the attention of Zhou Yilin. But at the same time, they were also considered unlucky. They were lucky as they would have more opportunities to be promoted, and this was how Manager Lin advanced the ranks so swiftly. On the other hand, these people were considered unlucky as Zhou Yilin would be particularly strict with them and considered any mistakes they made as their lack of cautiousness.

An Xiaotian had been so busy recently that she lost idea of how the days passed by. Everyday, she fell asleep the moment she reached home and her head touched the pillow. She had a deeper understanding of Zhou Yilin's work attitude and understood why her colleagues would secretly curse Zhou Yilin behind her back that the latter could never find a husband. Even if she did, her husband would have an affair eventually. Zhou Yilin was too much of a perfectionist. As long as there was a wrong punctuation in a document or a dotted line in an excel sheet, they had to redo said document or excel sheet and reprint it.

An Xiaotian was a born optimist. When she heard another colleague in the pantry complaining about how harsh Deputy Director Zhou was to her subordinates, she even tried to defend Zhou Yilin. "I think that's a good thing. With such training from Deputy Director Zhou, I found that the efficiency and quality of my work increased speedily. If I was working somewhere else, I wouldn't even be where I’m at after a year or two."

It happened that Zhou Yilin was standing outside the pantry. She was passing by and unintentionally heard someone discussing her. She subconsciously halted her steps and didn't mean to eavesdrop.

Zhou Yilin appreciated what An Xiaotian said about her and decided to transfer Xiaotian to be by her side. Zhou Yilin got An Xiaotian to work for her and slowly guided her to help with important work.

When Ouyang Yi came to find Zhou Yilin, Zhou Yilin was criticising An Xiaotian harshly over something the latter did wrongly. An Xiaotian stood before the office table with her head lowered, like a child who did something wrong and was reprimanded by their parents.

"It's so unfortunate to be under you. Look, she is almost in tears because of your scoldings. Even if she did something not up to your standard, can't you just point it out to her in a nicer and gentler manner?" The moment Ouyang Yi entered the office, he headed for Zhou Yilin's desk without scruples and then sat on it, facing An Xiaotian.

An Xiaotian took a curious glance at Ouyang Yi and the latter returned her glance with a flirtatious wink. An Xiaotian's face turned red instantly as she bowed her head even lower.

"An Xiaotian, leave first," Zhou Yilin rubbed her twitching eyebrow.

An Xiaotian hurriedly left the office.

"If I recall correctly, the collaboration plan has been decided, why is Vice President Ouyang still looking for me? If it is about the signing of the contract, I remember that both parties had agreed to sign the contract next Monday." Zhou Yilin shot a glance at Ouyang Yi who was sitting on her desk.

Ouyang Yi got off the desk, turned and leaned forward, supporting himself with both his hands on the desk. He looked at Zhou Yilin, wiped the cynical look off his face and asked in a low voice, "What must I do for you to be willing to let Zhong Lin meet me?"

Zhou Yilin averted her gaze for a split second before she asked in an indifferent tone, "Both of you only knew each other for a week. I believe a young master of an influential family like you, Vice President Ouyang, has no lack of women by your side. Why do you have to pester our Zhong Lin?"

"I like her," Ouyang Yi answered rather wilfully.

"Then how long can you keep up with liking her? Zhong Lin is just an ordinary girl, both of you are from different worlds. She wouldn't like your kind of lifestyle, it's impossible between both of you."

Zhou Yilin glared icily, "She is someone precious to me, I will never allow anyone to hurt her!"

Ouyang Yi sneered, turned and left.

Zhou Yilin watched transfixed at Ouyang Yi's back as he disappeared into the distance. The memories of those days where they were together flashed across her mind. She pursed her lips and closed her eyes. She then took a long deep breath and gradually exhaled.

"Zhou Yilin? How would I fall in love with her? I just found her pretty and was just fooling around with her. She is just an adopted daughter of the Zhou Family. I heard that they are still trying to find their missing biological daughter. In the future, the Zhou family's business will never fall into the hands of Zhou Yilin, who is not related to them by blood."

Zhou Yilin furrowed her brows and shook her head in an attempt to disperse those thoughts in her head. A few moments later, determination appeared in her eyes. *I will never trust the bullshit those young aristocrats say."

What Zhou Yilin had not expected was finding out that she was being tailed after she knocked off work. It continued for a few days and with a bit of thinking, she knew that the person must have been sent by Ouyang Yi.

On the day of the contract signing, Ouyang Yi actually didn't appear. It was okay if he didn't, but there wasn't a representative from Ouyang Corporation either.

Zhou Hua was anxious as a result and immediately called to ask. He was told that Ouyang Yi was unhappy with something Zhou Yilin did and was considering if he should choose another company to collaborate with.

This was a project that was worth billions and Zhou Hua made use of many connections and put in a tremendous amount of effort before Ouyang Corporation had chosen to work with him. But now, everything would be going down the drain because Zhou Yilin had offended Ouyang Yi?

Zhou Hua couldn't take it lying down and gave Zhou Yilin a good scolding. He ordered her to beg for Ouyang Yi's forgiveness or never ever step into the house again.

On this day, Zhou Yilin didn't return home. She drove around aimlessly and happened to see An Xiaotian who was waiting for the bus at the bus stop. She then beckoned An Xiaotian to board her car and said she would drive the latter home.

An Xiaotian felt extremely flattered. Upon boarding the car, she could clearly feel that Zhou Yilin wasn't in a good mood. Though Zhou Yilin wore a poker face usually, her brows would never be furrowed like how they were now and there wouldn't be an air of gloominess surrounding her.

"Are you in a hurry to head home?" Zhou Yilin asked suddenly.

"No-nope. I stay in a rented apartment alone," An Xiaotian answered.

Zhou Yilin shot a glance at her and asked, "You are not from out of town?"

"Nope, my hometown is down south. I came here for university and remained here to work after I graduated."

Zhou Yilin drove to a bar and turned to the surprised An Xiaotian. "Accompany me in for a drink."

"I-I don't hold my alcohol well. I will get drunk after one glass." An Xiaotian was a little nervous.

"You can watch me drink then," Zhou Yilin said without giving An Xiaotian the chance to reject. She immediately alighted the car and threw her car keys to the valet attendant. She then used her eyes to signal An Xiaotian to follow after her and entered the bar first.

"Deputy Director…"

"I remember that it was stated on your CV that your birthday is on the 20th of September. I am slightly older than you, you can call me sister[1] in private," said Zhou Yilin.

An Xiaotian found it a bit strange and cautiously called out, "Sister?"

Zhou Yilin downed a shot of alcohol and stared at An Xiaotian before a smile appeared on her face.

Her brows were relaxed, her pearly whites showing themselves between her slightly parted ruby lips. It was as though the ice glaciers had melted and An Xiaotian was instantly mesmerised.

"Sister, you look so beautiful when you smile. You should smile more often," said An Xiaotian.

Zhou Yilin erased the smile on her face as her gaze fell and she continued drinking in silence.

An Xiaotian felt that she had said something wrong but she couldn't figure out what could have been the matter. She truly felt that Zhou Yilin should smile more for her smile was so mesmerising. Even as a female, Zhou Yilin’s smile made her heart skip a beat.

Zhou Yilin drank quite a good amount of alcohol. When An Xiaotian asked her to stop drinking, she really stopped and asked An Xiaotian to find her a designated driver. The driver then sent An Xiaotian home first before dropping Zhou Yilin off at Raphanus Courtyard.

They say that one wouldn't get drunk by drowning one's sorrows. She looked at her reflection in the mirror; she was very much sober.

The face in the mirror was really beautiful indeed. Zhou Yilin lifted a hand to gently caress her face.

"Zhou Yilin cannot smile," she muttered under her breath.


1. A more affectionate term that people in China use to address someone older than them despite not being blood-related

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TL: Cosy | Editor: Grace | TLC: Grace