Chapter 20: You Owe Me
“Where are we.” Zhou Qianlin was first to break the awkward stillness in the room.
“My home,” Lan Jue responded.
The corner of Zhou Qianlin’s mouth twitched. She’d been brought up from a very young age to be cultured and refined, but facing the guy in front of her, more than once she fought the impulse to curse him out.
Lan Jue started, aware of the mistake. “Oh. This is Skyfire Avenue.”
“Skyfire Avenue?” Zhou Qianlin certainly knew of Skyfire Avenue, in fact everyone in the Eastern Alliance knew of it.
It was a unique place, a sanctuary for nobility. It was independent from the outside world, the one area where machinery wasn’t permitted. An exotic oasis.
Even after many years, in the face of many former Eastern Alliance dynasties, none were able to altar the avenue’s rules.
“Take me home,” Zhou Qianlin said softly.
The sky was dark, night had arrived earlier than usual. The two walked along Skyfire Avenue side by side, but with a foot of space between them.
“What do you plan to do?” As they reached the end of the two-thousand forty-eight meter Avenue, he couldn’t help but ask.
Of course he knew that after what had happened today, how could she face the stress and troubles.
Had she been Hera, of course there wouldn’t have been any problem. He’d have had a good reason for his actions. But she wasn’t. So the mistake was his, and a very grave mistake it was.
Zhou Qianlin stopped, turning towards him with a grim look. “It isn’t your concern.”
Lan Jue shrugged his shoulders. “Now’s not the time to pout.”
Zhou Qianlin glared at him. “Oh, can you turn back time then?”
“Ugh… you don’t need to worry about that.” Lan Jue didn’t possess that power. In fact, it was exceptionally rare to find someone with that Discipline. At best they were able to roll back time only a very little while, and even then only in a very small location.
Still less, some things simply can’t be undone…
Zhou Qianlin’s eyes grew cold. “I’ll handle it, it isn’t your concern.” She began to hurriedly walk away.
“I’ll send you back.” Lan Jue moved to catch up. Before them, they’d reached the end of Skyfire Avenue’s scope.
Zhou Qianlin turned her heard to look at him. “Do you want to be a public enemy of the Eastern Alliance?”
Lan Jue stopped in his tracks. That’s right! All of Skyfire City could be in turmoil because of her kidnapping.
“I’m not that fragile. I can handle myself. Go back,” Zhou Qianlin said.
He stared at her dumbly. From the obstinance in her eyes, Lan Jue could see the Hera he knew, the Hera who was gentle as water and a moment later throwing a fit. It was something he also dreaded.
“This is my interstellar communication number.” He produced a slip of paper and pressed it in to her hand. “If you need anything, let me know.”
The ambiguity of his statement caused Zhou Qianlin’s pretty face to redden. Lan Jue immediately recognized his error, but she didn’t wait for him to explain, instead turning and walking away.
“Your wedding dress is still at my place,” he called after her.
“I don’t want it. You’ve polluted it.”
“Well, when are you going to give me back that dress,” he asked.
Zhou Qianlin stopped, spinning to fix him with a burning glare. “I’m NOT!” She turned away again.
The corners of Lan Jue’s mouth twitched. This girl’s temper is worse than her older sisters, and cold as ice. Damnit! What did have I done?
Zhou Qianlin’s voice wafted from the distance. “You owe me, and you better pay me back! When I know what I want from you, you’ll hear from me.”
As her words dissipated in to silence, so too did she disappear into the dark.
He stood in silence for a long while afterward, staring in to the darkness where she left, stunned.
Gradually his face grew hard, and a pale light flickered in his eyes. A thick anger rose within him, from his very bones.
That woman.. Pearl!
If not for her information, I never would have arranged such an ordeal. Worse, it brought trouble upon a loyal brother. That precious block of technetium, and this is what I get in return?
“You don’t look like you’re in the best mood,” a deep voice uttered not far behind him.
Lan Jue turned to see the Wine Master at his back, clad in an impeccable and crisp business suit. Lan Jue walked towards him. “New suit?”
“One hundred sixty thread count.”
Lan Jue stared at the Wine Master. “I won’t bring any trouble to Skyfire Avenue. If something happens, I’ll assume all the responsibility.”
The Wine Master spoke after a moment. “Have a drink?”
Lan Jue’s eyes brightened. “What are we drinking?”
The Wine Master considered. “Your situation… red wine isn’t appropriate. Whiskey, I think.”
The edges of Lan Jue’s mouth curled. “We nobles are certainly capable of self-control.”
The Wine Master’s lips revealed the ghost of a smile. “You had quite the murderous look in your eye a moment ago. It looked like you wanted to something a noble shouldn’t do.”
“Compared with drinking, it isn’t urgent,” Lan Jue replied quietly. “A true noble must be responsible. At the same time, they have a responsibility to help those in need, bear their responsibilities. This benefits society, so how is it something an aristocrat shouldn’t do? If someone had taken your 1990 Romanee-Conti, would you be laughing?”
The Wine Master’s face stiffened, obviously recalling that unpleasant day.
Lan Jue grinned. “Whiskey then. Talisker, 1985 single malt, what do you think?”
“Henceforth you are persona non grata in the Gothic Winery. You’ll not see me again.” The Wine Master turned and began to walk off.
Smiling, Lan Jue hurried to catch up. “Take it easy, I’ll pay.”
“No!” he replied indignantly.
Lan Jue sighed. “I really am not in the best mood. If you want to hear my story I can tell you.”
The Wine Master glanced at him. “I don’t have 1985. I have a bottle of Talisker 18-year, though. You want it or not?”
“Off we go!” Lan Jue said categorically.
The Wine Master grinned. “Aristocrats have such high moral integrity.”
Lan Jue shot him a puzzles glance. “I do! I’m not going just for a drink. The Iberian ham from before has already been cut, if someone doesn’t eat it it’ll go bad. Whiskey goes well with ham. Yeah, the Gourmet’s method of heating it up really was something. In fact let’s call him, his meal preparation is deserving of your praise.”
The Wine Master sucked in a breath. “You are no noble, you’re a damn bandit!”