It was not true that there was no contact at all after the breakup. Three days after returning the phone, Li Shu sent Shen Yiyou a flight number, and Shen Yiyou returned him a question mark. Li Shu said, “You are welcome to drop me off as a friend.”
Shen Yiyou felt unable to answer, and replied the next day, “Next time.”
Li Shu replied much faster than Shen Yiyou. Five minutes later, he said, “Okay.” Then he said, “I’ll let you know when I come to S city next time.”
Shen Yiyou didn’t reply back.
After that, the contact was completely cut off, and it had been three weeks since then.
In mid-to-late July, Shen Yiyou’s biggest exhibition of the year was approved ahead of schedule, and he was going to be busy throughout August.
His birthday was at the end of the month, and he had spent it with Li Shu in previous years, but there was no arrangement for this year, so when Tao Jiu told him he was visiting S country before returning to London, so he agreed to go with him without thinking.
Tao Jiu was going to college at Shen Yiyou’s alma mater. He had a cheerful personality and was very innocent. He was a game video blogger with many subscribers. He was having his summer vacation, so he did nothing all day, and played around, he was probably the kind of friend that Li Shu would deem to be the same type as Xing Pei.
He arrived in S country in the afternoon, packed up, and went to the restaurant on the second floor of the hotel to have breakfast and dinner. Lu Yue, a friend who often came there, took them to the casino.
The casino was fully air-conditioned and had a dry aroma. Shen Yiyou stood by with his arms crossed, watching them bet, but he didn’t come to the table.
Lu Yue noticed Shen Yiyou standing aside, and asked him, “Why don’t you play?”
“I can’t,” Shen Yiyou said, staring at Tao Jiu’s card, “I don’t dare to spend money indiscriminately.”
“You’ve got it,” Lu Yue smiled, “after all your dad can buy a table of chips here with a single word.”
When Shen Yiyou heard about his Dad, he pretended to be stupid and slipped away.
His father was a great calligrapher and his mother was a professor at Capital University. The two showed great sense of righteousness on the outside, talking about freedom to love and opposing sexual orientation discrimination. But, at the beginning of this year, when Shen Yiyou suddenly came out of the closet, they could not accept his homosexuality.
Three years ago, Shen Yiyou opened an exhibition planning studio with Ren after graduating from a university in London and returning to China. It was probably because of his father’s status that his career developed smoothly. He became financially independent very early, and the suspension of the supplementary card did not affect his life.
But he still had a car loan to repay, and even though the house was paid in full by his parents, he was afraid that one day they would be in a bad mood and kick him out. He still had to save more money for himself.
Shen Yiyou went to a slot machine and sat down, put the coins in, and played it piece by piece.
He had been lucky enough to win a few coins, and the slot machines gave him more and more cash, always letting him have a place to sit without having to put in any more cash.
After staying in the casino for two hours, Shen Yiyou yawned sleepily, so Tao Jiu who had finally found Shen Yiyou said that they should plan to go back.
Shen Yiyou glanced at the screen, there was still fifty yuan left in the machine, and he was too lazy to exchange it, so he increased the multiplier and played it for the last time, trying to spend fifty yuan, but he actually hit the jackpot of the slot machine.
The slot machine simulated the sound of coins falling, the god of wealth on the screen jumped up and down with a smile, and the glittering numbers rolled bigger and bigger, with all kinds of exaggerated and bizarre computer effects.
The sound effect for the first prize was very loud, and all the guests around him rushed over. Tao Jiu was stunned, said a swear word involuntarily, then grabbed Shen Yiyou’s hand and rubbed it randomly: “Lend me your luck to use.”
The jackpot prize of the slot machine was not much, but the luck itself was exciting. Shen Yiyou cashed the chips in a good mood and walked out of the casino.
This was the happiest moment for Shen Yiyou in the last three weeks, but it didn’t take too long for his good mood to vanish again.
Back in the room, Shen Yiyou seemed to have coins flashing in front of his eyes. Feeling that his spirit was exhausted by good luck, he lay down and took a nap.
He had a short dream like a running account and went through the entire itinerary of the day again, and then was awakened by a message from Tao Jiu.
Tao Jiu warmly invited everyone to swim on the top floor in half an hour.
Shen Yiyou lay on the bed and thought about it, then holding up his phone, he replied his assent.
Lu Yue replied “OK” almost at the same time as him, and after a few seconds, Tao Jiu suddenly asked Lu Yue “who is on your avatar”.
“Why are you taking pictures like a paparazzi?” Tao Jiu asked again.
It was only then Shen Yiyou realized that Lu Yue had changed his avatar. He opened it and looked at it. It really looked like a paparazzi photo. The color of the photo was gray, and the pixels were not high.
The woman in the photo was holding her chin in one hand and smiling at the man in formal suit across from her.
Shen Yiyou looked at the man’s back, and a strange feeling rose from his heart.
It looked a bit like Li Shu, but Li Shu didn’t wear formal clothes, Shen Yiyou stared at the phone screen and thought.
Li Shu had an odd prejudice against them and thought that formal suits were disgusting, and that only Wall Street beasts should wear them.
Lu Yue quickly replied to Tao Jiu: “Ms. Lilith and her new date.”
Shen Yiyou knew that Lilith was Lu Yue’s favorite female supermodel, who had ended a scandalous marriage not long ago and had regained her freedom.
Shen Yiyou stared at the small picture of Lu Yue’s avatar, and still felt a little uneasy. Just as he was about to ask the identity of Lillith’s date, Lu Yue sent another new message.
He said: “It is rumored to be the CEO of Esp. He is said to be ugly, but he must still be better than her scumbag ex-husband!”
“It’s enough if he is nice to her!” he said again, “Don’t you think he looks good from the back?”
Shen Yiyou was stunned for a moment, put down the phone, and continued to lie down for a while.
His chest was a little tight, like a vacuum pump had drained away all the air from his esophagus and stomach, making it impossible for him to take a full breath.
Sad but not exactly sad.
Li Shu was single now, whether it was his love or marriage, it had nothing to do with Shen Yiyou- the truth was that it was hard to avoid being unwilling, and Shen Yiyou didn’t want to lie to himself.
He was always soft-hearted towards Li Shu, and he didn’t mention anything to him that he didn’t like. However, when he saw Li Shu making an exception for others, there was still a violent and ugly desire that wanted to crawl out of Shen Yiyou’s heart.
Shen Yiyou also wanted Li Shu to make an exception for him, even if only once.
After more than half an hour, Tao Jiu knocked on his door, he sat up, rubbed his eyes, and walked out.
It was getting late, but there were many people on the top floor of the hotel. They sat there for a while, and several waves of people came to chat up, but Shen Yiyou didn’t pay them any attention.
Tao Jiu was broadcasting live, when he suddenly turned to Shen Yiyou with his camera, and said, “Come and say hello.”
Shen Yiyou ducked his head, squinted at Tao Jiu, then smiled at the camera again, and raised his hand to say hi. Tao Jiu smiled at him for a while, then leaned over and adjusted the camera to include Shen Yiyou.
Tao Jiu’s cheeks still had a bit of baby fat, but his facial features were three-dimensional and his skin was fair. He said to the screen, “As the only person who won money today, why does Shen Yiyou’s face stink as if he is lovelorn.”
Shen Yiyou looked at himself on the electronic screen of the camera. The person on the screen had cold eyes, and his hair was ruffled by the wind on the top floor. Compared with a brokenhearted person, he looked more like a very unhappy person, who was very difficult to please.
“Someone asked if you are still single,” Tao Jiu read the words on the screen with his head down, and asked Shen Yiyou, “Do you accept the pursuit?”
Shen Yiyou said, “Yes.”
Tao Jiu was stunned for a moment, put his arms around Shen Yiyou’s shoulders, then moved his face close to the screen, and asked, “Why didn’t you answer the latter question, and whether you would accept the pursuit or not.”
Shen Yiyou glanced at the camera briefly, and said indifferently, “Accept it.”
Tao Jiu went a little crazy, and immediately decided to introduce Shen Yiyou to his friends. He complimented Shen Yiyou, said some nonsense conditions, and created a Shen Yiyou recruiting mailbox on the spot.
In the end, Shen Yiyou laughed too, as he rested his head on Tao Jiu’s shoulder, while listening to him say inexplicable words to the camera.
After a while, Tao Jiu went to another place. Shen Yiyou lay down and took a few sips of wine. Seeing that there was no one in the pool, he walked over to swim.
The water covered his knees, ribs, and stopped at his chest. He felt that the water temperature was still a little low, but fortunately it wasn’t so cold that he shivered. After a few seconds, he got used to it.
The stars were very bright in the sky, and the bright moon shone among the cloudless night.
In fact, Li Shu had had a video call with Shen Yiyou at this hotel a long time ago.
At that time, Li Shu had just finished swimming, his hair was wet, and a towel was placed on his body. The lines of his chest and abdominal muscles looked very sexy in the dim and colorful light.
His eyes were very sincere, and with Shen Yiyou’s favorite innocence, he said that he liked it here and offered, “you come with me next year”.
In the end they broke up, Li Shu had started to meet new people, and Shen Yiyou came by himself.
When swimming, Shen Yiyou buried half of his face in the water, such that sometimes he saw the light on the water, sometimes he saw the darkness underwater. In the soft, cold and warm water, he remembered his first meeting with Li Shu.
He was not happy at first that day. He had quarreled with his mother on the phone in the afternoon and went to attend the annual meeting of an online company that he was cooperating with. The annual meeting of the start-up company was not luxurious, and there were not many people. He invited people to decorate the office a little and put out some drinks and meals.
In the evening, the wind was light, but the temperature was very low, and the humidity was penetrating to the bones. Shen Yiyou was freezing enough, so he leaned against the neon-lit balcony, standing next to the heating box, and watched the river view in a daze.
Then suddenly Li Shu was standing beside Shen Yiyou.
Li Shu wore a hoodie, jeans, black-rimmed glasses, and held a half-champagne glass filled with mineral water. He stood there persistently for ten minutes. He covertly and hesitantly looked at Shen Yiyou about twenty times before he spoke, “Wouldn’t you be cold if you wear so little?”
Shen Yiyou glanced at him, but did not speak, so Li Shu went silent again. He was about eighty centimeters away from Shen Yiyou, watching Shen Yiyou again and again. Shen Yiyou was a little annoyed at first, but then he was amused by this idiot and wanted to laugh, then he finally turned sideways and looked at Li Shu.
“My name is Shen Yiyou.” This was the first sentence Shen Yiyou said to Li Shu.
And Li Shu, like an automatic response device, responded quickly in the next second: “My name is Li Shu.”
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