Ning Yue returned to his apartment in the suburbs and walked directly into the bedroom.
There was a desk by the window. He opened the largest drawer with a key and took out an embroidered case.
Within the embroidered case was a lock of fine baby hair1 胎发 (taifa) is more accurately translated as lanugo (n) – fine, soft hair, especially that which covers the body and limbs of a human fetus or newborn. But for readability, the translator has opted to use baby hair instead tied together with a red string.
This was something Ning Zhuangrong gave him after he became Ning Yan’s manager. Just in case.
Demons had an easy way of finding their blood relatives.
Ning Yue raised a hand to his teeth and bit down till he drew blood. Then he clasped the strand of baby hair in his hands and closed his eyes.
After about a minute, his eyes flew open in surprise—
As he expected, Ning Yan wasn’t in danger. But the kid, who had been deemed unable to shapeshift by the entire clan, had metamorphosed into his demon form… and was with his “Pactmate”2契合者 (qihezhe), literally “person you hold a contract with.”?
Right now, Ning Yue could sense that Ning Yan and his Pactmate were somewhere in the eastern part of City A, though still within its limits.
But Ning Yan’s parents were both in City C and Ning Yan had no other relatives here in City A except for Ning Yue himself. That meant that Ning Yan’s Pactmate must be an outsider.
And usually, when an outsider becomes the Pactmate to a demon, it’s…
Ning Yue thought of something and pursed his lips. An emotion flashed across his eyes.
A few moments later, he clutched Ning Yan’s baby hair and walked out.
—He didn’t know whether Ning Yan’s Pactmate was male or female, or whether this would be a surprise or fright for Ning Yan’s dad and mom…
After an adventure-filled day, Ning Yan behaved himself.
After he’d been “ssh”-ed at by Lin Rong on the toilet, he felt embarrassed every time he looked at the man… Ahhhh, he isn’t that shameless!
Lin Rong noticed that the puppy wasn’t as mischievous as usual and instead flattened his ears shyly against his head whenever he spotted Lin Rong. It was a shy look. His gaze dodged around and he made it obvious that he was hiding behind things before sneaking a peek. Lin Rong was confused at first but then he figured it out, squinted his eyes, and snickered.
He’s laughing more and more.
Ning Yan thought quietly.
That night he had a dream. In the dream, the jerk was wearing a white shirt and a tailored suit. The man stood tall and erect, his hair smoothed back to reveal that handsome yet disinterested face.
The jerk held a slender wine glass in his hand, looking for all the world like a nobleman who didn’t care about anything. When the man heard footsteps, he turned around.
And then the jerk smiled when he saw Ning Yan.
It was as if starlight fractured and scattered between Lin Rong’s eyes and brows.
The starlight danced through Ning Yan’s entire world.
Ning Yan couldn’t see himself in the dream. He just felt like the dream-him was burning up.
What season was it? It was so hot that he waved a hand in his face, trying to cool down.
In the middle of the night, the bedroom opened and a sliver of light shone through the crack of the door.
Lin Rong rubbed his eyes and walked out in his pajamas with a head of sleep-tousled hair. He walked sleepily towards the bathroom.
He glanced casually towards the living room and then stood in shock.
There was a slender, white arm on the floor behind the couch.
3 am. Living room. Floor. Arm.
Lin Rong, “…”
He stood rooted to the spot and blinked his eyes. In that moment, he thought he heard a poof, but it could have been his imagination. But when he looked again, the arm had disappeared.
Lin Rong remained there for a long time before taking a step forward and trudging towards that spot.
He didn’t know he was holding his breath.
Step by step, he moved slowly past the coffee table until he saw what lay beyond it.
Still the same old dog bed and the fast-asleep puppy with all four paws in the air.
He didn’t know if the puppy was dreaming but the tip of the puppy’s tail wagged and he looked extremely happy.
Lin Rong relaxed his muscles and quietly let out his breath.
He touched his forehead and walked quickly to the dining room table. He picked up the glass and rapidly chugged cold water to wake himself up.
5 am in the morning. The morning mist hadn’t completely evaporated.
Ning Yue stood on the side of the street and looked at Elegant Scene Court3The neighborhood that Lin Rong lives in, see Chapter 2. right across the street.
He spent an entire night and narrowed the area down to just this neighborhood. But this was the most he could do. The next part would have to be done by brute force.
Ning Yue took out his phone and dialed a number.
The call instantaneously connected. Though the voice on the other end sounded lazy, it didn’t sound fatigued, so its owner probably got up long ago. Now the voice sounded interested, “Ning Yue, you’ve finally learned to call me first?”
In contrast to the flirtatious teasing, Ning Yue was much calmer. He asked, “You still have a condo at Elegant Scene Court, right?”
“Hmm?” The man’s voice was deep and magnetic. “I go there to sleep sometimes because of work, why?”
Ning Yue then asked, “Are you still shooting?”
“I wrapped up yesterday. I’m on my way back.”
Ning Yue said, “Come directly to Elegant Scene Court. I have something I need your help with.”
Ever since Ning Yan woke up that morning, he thought Lin Rong was giving him funny looks. Sadly, he couldn’t speak and his confused barking only got him some petting and a puzzled look from the human.
Ning Yan shook his ears, What a weirdo!
During the day, Lin Rong once again went into the practice room to write songs but, since they’d made up, he let Ning Yan come in. He was probably worried the puppy would get lonely out there in the living room by himself.
It looked like Lin Rong hadn’t skimped on outfitting the room. Ning Yan looked at all the instruments and felt the itch to do something.
It had only been a week, but it felt like forever since he last touched an instrument.
Lin Rong played the guitar for a bit. He noticed the puppy wandering around the keyboard and watched with interest.
Ning Yan looked up longingly at the keyboard. Just as he felt upset, the man suddenly picked him up.
He was startled and, when he came to, he found himself sitting on Lin Rong’s lap by the keyboard.
The man picked up his paws and put them on the keyboard. His cool voice sounded above Ning Yan, “Does Sese like the keyboard?”
Ning Yan loves to play the piano!
Eyes glinting, he pressed down on a key and a deep note sounded.
Ning Yan’s tail wagged. Since they were sitting close together, wagging his tail meant it would brush against Lin Rong’s stomach and tickle him.
Lin Rong laughed quietly. Ning Yan turned around and looked at him.
The man’s face was really close. It was a handsome and delicate face with a smile as gentle as the one Ning Yan saw in his dreams.
Ning Yan’s mind drifted off for a second. When he recovered, he hurriedly pressed a few other notes on the keyboard.
Ning Yan didn’t dare be too outrageous and really play a song for Lin Rong. If he did, Lin Rong would probably take him directly to the police.
He played a couple of wrong notes on purpose but, even so, the string of disjointed notes still obviously made up a melody.
Lin Rong was a bit amazed. He lowered his head to look at the white puppy and hesitantly pushed down the weird sensation in his chest.
He thought for a bit and then put his hand on the keys.
Ning Yan withdrew his paws.
Lin Rong’s slender fingers danced across the keys and the same melody, but more refined and more fluid, sounded in the room.
The melody Ning Yan had played was very short. After the man had reached the end of that melody, he kept playing and extended it. Ning Yan closed his eyes and thought, This guy is really capable of just coming up with a good melody on the spot… Even if he was still pissed at Lin Rong, Ning Yan had to admit that the guy had astonishing talent when it came to music.
… But not better than him, of course, hmph!
In the next moment, he heard the man murmur satisfactorily to himself, “Sese’s song.”
Ning Yan, “…”
What a tasteless name!
The mood between them was good. After dinner, the human and the dog went out to take a stroll.
When Lin Rong was by himself, he always had dinner late. Although they headed down immediately after eating, it was already 9 pm at night.
Tonight, instead of running into the director and screenwriter couple out walking their dog as they usually did, they met an even more unexpected person.
The person wore a simple T-shirt and lounge pants and had one hand in his pockets.
Even though he dressed casually, it was hard to hide his handsome and striking features. Different from Lin Rong, the newcomer also had the special feel a mature man would have.
That was award-winning actor Ji Shao!
Ehhhhhh, why would Ji Shao be here? Shouldn’t he be in a mansion somewhere? Why would he be walking a dog in this neighborhood?
And… the dog that he was walking, yeesh!
It is very big, very black, and looks savage!
About 20-30 meters away, the big black dog stopped in its tracks and stared at Ning Yan intensely. Goosebumps instantaneously raced down Ning Yan’s body.
Lin Rong recognized Ji Shao and paused as well. Before they could react, the big black dog suddenly growled in their direction!
Ning Yan shook, took a step back, and looked completely confused.
Wait, what’s going on, why is the black dog all excited and heading over to him! Why is Ji Shao smiling and waving at them?!
The big black dog has a thing for him!
Ning Yan hurriedly took two steps back. When he saw the black dog about to break into a run, he whimpered and tried to clamber up Lin Rong’s pant legs in fear. Lin Rong, upon seeing this, immediately picked him up.
As Ning Yan settled in Lin Rong’s arms, Ji Shao’s voice also got closer. He smiled in greeting, “Hallo, what a coincidence, little Rong4Ji Shao called Lin Rong by a variation of his name that indicates seniority, higher societal position, and also is used between people friendly/familiar with each other..”
“Mr. Ji5In the raw text, Lin Rong called Ji Shao “纪老师”, which literally translates to Teacher Ji. 老师 is a respectful form of address often used for actor/actresses with some accomplishment or seniority. For readability, the translator has chosen to adapt it to Mr. Ji instead..” Lin Rong returned a polite greeting.
Ning Yan turned his head around and looked down to see the black dog staring right back at him. When their gazes met, the black dog opened his mouth to let out a ferocious “woof.”
That voice was so deep that Ning Yan hurriedly clutched at Lin Rong’s neck with his paws.