The next day, Iris finally returned to work. She still needed to take care of the wounds on her neck and shoulder but at least they weren't in any danger of being infected anymore. The pain was also manageable and didn't bother her.
She felt excited and energetic at the thought of diving once again in her work. It was just that several teams of bodyguards tailed her wherever she went once outside Dragon Palace Home #10.
One team protected her in close proximity, shielding her from any crowd. A second team followed a few metres away. Two other teams protected her from a distance. Iris couldn't see them with her own eyes but she could somehow sense their presence. She also confirmed their locations from Ketchup.
Originally, Jin Liwei and Lu Zihao wanted to send five teams each of their subordinates to protect her whenever she was outside, for a total of ten teams. However, she negotiated with the two overprotective men and managed to decrease their suggestion to two teams each instead, for a total of four teams. Four teams were already a lot, in her opinion. Any more than these and she would go crazy.
Although she was no longer as distressed by bodyguards as before because it reminded her of her past life as a lonely, sheltered princess of the criminal underworld who didn't have any freedom and independence, she still didn't feel comfortable about bodyguards following her around. This was one of things that she was sensitive about. There had been many times that she lost her temper at Jin Liwei and Lu Zihao when it came to the topic of bodyguards.
The bomb incident finally provided the two overprotective men with ample persuading power to finally make her agree to increase the size of her personal security team. So even though she didn't like it, she had to accept the many bodyguards—both visible and hidden—who followed her around. She almost died in the bomb incident, after all. Even she agreed that it was a close call. Perhaps it wouldn't have happened if her security had been tighter.
That morning, Iris and Dom (and her bodyguards) headed to Bright Summit to meet with Tang Yiyi. As soon as she entered, her body immediately went into self-defence mode because there were several loud popping sounds and all she could see were multi-coloured confetti and flower petals raining down on her. Her bodyguards also reacted quickly and surrounded her and Dom.
"WELCOME BACK, IRIS LONG!!!"
It was then that Iris noticed the crowd of people lining up the entire lobby. They were Bright Summit's staff and some of her fellow artists. All were clapping their hands and wearing big smiles on their faces as they shouted her name. Tang Yiyi was there, immediately running to her with a huge bouquet of flowers. Bright Summit's higher-ups were also present, including the company president.
Iris felt a little overwhelmed. She didn't expect this at all! When she turned her head beside her, Dom was giggling with a knowing expression on his face.
"You knew about this?" she asked.
"Ehehe. Of course, boss! Big Sis Yiyi informed me that they're planning to give you a grand welcome back!"
Tang Yiyi reached them and handed Iris the bouquet before pulling her to the group of higher-ups. Iris greeted everyone with a bright smile.
"Iris, you look beautiful as always! Glad to see that you're safe and sound. How are you feeling?"
"I was so worried about you!"
"Thank goodness you're okay!"
"You look paler and thinner! Are you really alright?"
Questions and words of concern bombarded Iris left and right. She did her best to give brief, polite replies. Blaze, Eros, Night and Thunder of Pandemonium were also there, acting like her protective brothers. The boys helped carry all the flowers and other presents the crowd kept on giving her.
The welcome event didn't last long because all of them were busy with their own respective work. Iris and her entourage excused themselves and headed straight to Tang Yiyi's office. The crowd dispersed after they left.
When they arrived at Tang Yiyi's office, they saw Jin Chonglin waiting there, looking like a debonair prince. A few buttons of his long-sleeved shirt were open, revealing his muscled chest. He sat on the edge of Tang Yiyi's desk, playing with some paperclips and linking them to make a chain. His presence added life and energy to the plain office. His manager, Lin Dong, was also there and one of his assistants.
"I've been waiting for you, Sister Xiulan," Jin Chonglin greeted, flashing Iris and her entourage with his famous killer smile. "I didn't join in welcoming you downstairs because I didn't want to upstage you."
Iris raised an eyebrow while Tang Yiyi glared at Lin Dong who threw a warning look at Jin Chonglin.
Jin Chonglin laughed. "I'm just joking. There were just too many people downstairs. I wasn't in mood to squeeze myself in such a great crowd and ruin my hair and newly-shined shoes."
Iris noticed the dark expression that flashed in his eyes, making her understand his true reason for not joining the others downstairs. It seemed that Jin Chonglin had been traumatized by the bomb incident more than she expected. He had become apprehensive about large crowds, choosing to avoid them altogether. At least for now.
The other people behind her filed inside. Blaze, Eros, Night and Thunder also greeted Jin Chonglin before putting all of the flowers and presents that Iris received inside the office. Then Tang Yiyi shooed them all away, reminding them that they still needed to travel to their next show.
Once the Pandemonium boys were gone, it was only Iris and Jin Chonglin's teams who were left in the office. Their bodyguards guarded outside the door, drawing the attention of the staff and other artists passing by. The people thought that perhaps some high-ranking politician or someone of that stature had visited.
Back inside the office, the two managers discussed the combined schedules of Iris and Jin Chonglin. They would be spending a lot of time together again promoting and performing their upcoming next single which would be released very soon by the end of the month.
"How are your wounds, Sister Xiulan? I see that you're still wearing turtlenecks. Will you be fine to perform?" Jin Chonglin asked. "This song needs us to sing and dance. If you're hurting, maybe we can modify our performance. You can just sing and move around a little, I guess."
"I'm fine. Don't worry, Brother Chonglin. I can perform exactly like how we rehearsed it," Iris reassured him.
"If you say so." Jin Chonglin shrugged. "I'm just saying, if something happens to you, my brother will kill all of us here. We don't want to die yet so don't push yourself too hard if you're not completely recovered yet."
Lin Dong and his assistant nodded. So did Dom.
"He's right, Iris," Tang Yiyi said. "Sir Jin also spoke to me to remind you to take it easy for now."
Iris frowned, feeling annoyed, grateful and warm at the same time. Her darling and all of these people cared about her. She was thankful for all of their concern but "don't push yourself too hard" and "take it easy" weren't in her vocabulary when it came to work. She was the type to do her best and give her all, so not pushing too hard and taking it easy were actually quite difficult for her.
"I understand," she replied to them, sighing.
Afterwards, they resumed talking about their schedules.
"The two of you will attend a lot of interviews together—TV shows, radio, magazines, web channels…everything. They will ask you a lot about your relationship as future brother and sister-in-law, so you'll also have to talk about CEO Jin... Wait. Will that be okay to him?" Lin Dong asked.
"No way! Big Bro is a very private person."
"Yes, it's fine. Liwei won't mind."
Their two managers and two assistants looked at them with awkward yet also entertained expressions.
"Tsk. So it's true that a man changes after he marries," Jin Chonglin grumbled. "I know that if I, his brother, start talking about what he's like in private, he'll give me hell and scold me for being a big mouth. But it turns out that if it's his wife talking about him, it's fine? Tsk!"
[This novel is a contracted work with W e b n o v e l . c o m (remove spaces). If you're not reading this chapter on W e b n o v e l, it has been stolen. It's very discouraging to see thieves profitting from my hard work. Please read this novel on W e b n o v e l. Thank you! -Arria]
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