Xia Lei followed Fu Ming-Mei to a room and the bed in the room was also in the gothic style with a flowery canopy and it looked quite delicate. Fu Ming-Mei had changed the sheets and covers; they were white and clean.
“Please let me know if there is anything you’d need,” said Fu Ming-Mei.
“Thank you. I don’t need anything at the moment.” Xia Lei made to close the door but Fu Ming-Mei did not seem to have any intention of leaving.
“My father said that you’re formidable.” Fu Ming-Mei looked at Xia Lei and her eyes carried a hint of a challenge.
Xia Lei laughed. “What do you want?”
Fu Ming-Mei suddenly launched a punch at Xia Lei’s face. She went straight to it and wasted no words.
Though he had no time to prepare himself, Xia Lei was not the boy he had been. He had practised Wing Chun for a time and a Special Forces member could not compare to his skills and reaction speed. He turned his head aside as Fu Meng-Mei’s fist flew at him and dodged her attack.
Fu Ming-Mei reacted quickly too. The fist that missed became an open hand and it swung at Xia Lei’s neck like a grappling hook, trying to pull him to her. She raised her knee at the same time, aiming to knee him in the lower abdomen.
This was outrageous!
Xia Lei bent his body and his elbow struck Fu Ming-Mei’s kneecap, then he moved his shoulder to dodge her attack and hit her in the chest at the same time. Fu Ming-Mei did not have a large chest but she was meaty and there was an obvious ‘shock absorption’ when Xia Lei’s hit connected.
Fu Ming-Mei was pushed two steps backward. She held her hurting chest and looked at Xia Lei, red-faced. “You…”
Xia Lei laughed. “Sorry, that wasn’t intentional.”
“Humph!” Fu Ming-Mei turned and left.
“It wasn’t even me who started it. She got mad because she didn’t win - how petty,” mumbled Xia Lei to himself. He shut the door.
Xia Lei lay on the bed after a shower, thinking about stuff; the more he thought, the further he got from sleeping.
He would be willing to help Shentu Tian-Yin even without her asking but pretending to be dating her was another headache altogether. He could foresee that he would be excluded from the Shentu clan, especially by Shentu Tian-Yin’s grandparents - those two old fogeys would definitely see him as an enemy who would use the offspring of his union with Shentu Tian-Yin to wrest control of Vientaine Group. There was also Shentu Yi and Shentu Tian-Feng. How could they let a man just walk into Shentu Tian-Yin’s life?
The Shentu clan, however, was just one headache. A worse one was Gu Ke-Wu. Gu Ke-Wu was trying to woo Shentu Tian-Yin and if she suddenly announced that she was dating him, Gu Ke-Wu would surely hinder him and make trouble for him.
‘I already have great enmity with the Gu clan; Gu Ke-Wu and Gu Ke-Wen will hate me even more with me dating Shentu Tian-Yin. No one from the Gu clan caused trouble for me after Huang Yi-Hu died but that was because I didn’t encroach on their interests again. This time, however, I’m directly in the way of one of their biggest interests… Fuck, this is troublesome.’ Xia Lei’s head hurt at the thought.
Viewed from another angle, his dating Shentu Tian-Yin could be seen as snatching away the Gu clan’s biggest cake.
The reason was simple - Gu Ke-Wu wanted Shentu Tian-Yin. He wanted to marry her and have her have his child so that he would be able to get his hands on Vientaine Group without having to spend a cent. It would be perfect for Gu Ke-Wu if Shentu Tian-Yin met with some sort of accident or unexpected misfortune. Would the Gu clan take things lying down when their great plan got quashed before fruition?
Xia Lei got no more than five hours of sleep that night.
The next morning, Fu Ming-Mei knocked, then opened Xia Lei’s door and said very politely, “Breakfast is ready, Brother-in-law.”
Xia Lei froze. He was sure he heard her say ‘brother-in-law’ but he didn’t dare believe it.
“I said, breakfast is ready, Brother-in-law. Why are you still spacing out?” Fu Ming-Mei said ‘brother-in-law’ more loudly this time.
Xia Lei snapped back to reality. “Wh, what did you call me?”
“Brother-in-law, of course. How can I still call you Mr Xia? That’s not right,” said Fu Ming-Mei laughingly, “Big Sister Tian-Yin already told me about you two. I grew up with her so I’ve long seen her as my elder sister. You’re with her and you’re going to get married soon so of course I have to call you ‘brother-in-law’.”
“Who told you that we… we’re going to get married?” Xia Lei suddenly felt quite ill.
Fu Ming-Mei raised an eyebrow playfully. “My Big Sister, of course. She said that if nothing goes wrong you’ll have your wedding next year during the Mid-Autumn Festival.”
Xia Lei was speechless.
Fu Chuan-Fu made breakfast; congee, side dishes and eggs. It was an almost unthinkable breakfast for a queen like Shentu Tian-Yin.
Shentu Tian-Yin was already seated in beautiful stillness at the breakfast table when Xia Lei and Fu Ming-Mei got to the dining room.
“Good morning, Miss Shentu.” Xia Lei greeted her, then walked to a spot opposite her.
Shentu Tian-Yin called him to a stop. “Hold on. Let’s do that again.”
“Do what again?” asked Xia Lei curiously.
Shentu Tian-Yin’s beautiful eyebrow went up. “Have you heard any male deeply in love call his lover ‘Miss’?”
Xia Lei was speechless.
He’d surely score a zero if this were a test. Shentu Tian-Yin’s grandparents would have seen right through him if they were here.
“What are you spacing out for, Brother-in-law?” said Fu MIng-Mei, “You’re the stupidest man I’ve met.”
“Ming-Mei.” Shentu Tian-Yin glared at her.
“Okay, okay, I won’t say anything.” But she added one more line. “You keep protecting him.”
It was apparent that Fu Ming-Mei was not afraid of Shentu Tian-Yin at all because they were so close.
Xia Lei shrugged and went back to the spot where he had greeted Shentu Tian-Yin. He cleared his throat. “Morning, Tian-Yin.”
Shentu Tian-Yin nodded. “You can also add a smile so people will see that you are happy to see me.”
‘What the fuck…’ Xia Lei grumbled silently to himself but slapped a smile on his face. “Morning, Tian-Yin.”
“Nn, this is the right way to do it,” said Shentu Tian-Yin, “Now try another form of address.”
“Another form?” asked Xia Lei in surprise, “What other form?”
“There’s ‘Honey’, ‘Yin-Yin’, ‘Darling’ or anything along those lines. Which one do you think is most suitable?” Shentu Tian-Yin remained neutral even when listing corny nicknames.
Xia Lei’s forehead was already beaded with perspiration.
One minute later...
“Morning, Honey.” Xia Lei forced himself to smile. “Did you sleep well?”
Shentu Tian-Yin smiled. “The first sentence was good. No need for the second sentence. We’re a couple preparing for marriage so we’re sleeping together. How can you not know how well I slept?”
Xia Lei smiled wryly and quickly stepped to the seat opposite Shentu Tian-Yin and sat down. He was afraid that Shentu Tian-Yin would find fault with him again and make him repeat himself.
After he sat down, he discovered that there were just two bowls on congee on the table and two pairs of chopsticks - there was no breakfast for Fu Ming-Mei and Fu Chuan-Fu. Fu Chuan-Fu had left so he couldn’t help glancing over at Fu Ming-Mei. She was watching him with a smile-not-smile on her face.
“Let’s eat.” Shentu Tian-Yin took up her chopsticks and put a green leaf in Xia Lei’s bowl.
“Thanks.” Xia Lei buried his head in the congee; the green leaf was pulled into the vortex of his mouth.
“Next time we eat together you should not say ‘thanks’ when I give you food. Just give me a smile,” said Shentu Tian-Yin, “And you have to give me some vegetables too and encourage me to have more vegetables.”
Xia Lei was a quick learner. He picked up two green vegetable leaves with his chopsticks and put them in Shentu Tian-Yin’s bowl, then used an extra gentle voice to say, “Eat more vegetables, Honey. You’re so busy; you have to eat more vegetables to boost your vitamin levels. Your health is most important.”
Shentu Tian-Yin smiled. “Yes, this is the right way. You’re quite a quick learner.”
Xia Lei rolled his eyes at her. “Do I have to learn this? Men are naturally skilled at deceiving women - it’s inborn.”
Fu Ming-Mei, who was standing to one side suddenly spoke up. “So how many ex-girlfriends have you had, Brother-in-law?”
Xia Lei almost spat out the congee he’d just spooned into his mouth.
“Watch your words, Ming-Mei.” Shentu Tian-Yin shot another glare at Fu Ming-Mei.
Fu Ming-Mei stuck out her bottom lip but didn’t take digs at Xia Lei again.
In a man’s world, men who had many girlfriends were smug bastards who hit on anything which breathed. In a woman’s world, they would always hope to be their boyfriend’s first girlfriend. Not promiscuous, not a cheater - these were also two standards women used when picking a boyfriend.
After breakfast, Shentu Tian-Yin said, “Lei, I know this is not fair to you and will also bring you a lot of trouble but I really have no other way. I’m counting on you.” She then stood and bowed in gratitude.
Xia Lei hurriedly crossed the table to help her up and said somewhat awkwardly, “You helped me when I most needed help. Of course I’ll help you now that you’re in a spot of trouble. I only worry that I won’t play my part well and be seen through by others.”
“Ugh, you two are going in circles with your ‘I help you, no! I help you’. Makes me dizzy,” said Fu Ming-Mei.
At that moment, Fu Chuan-Fu appeared in the doorway of the dining room, his face dark. “Ming-Mei, go get the car ready.”
“Uhn.” Fu Ming-Mei made a sound and went off to do as he said.
“Lady Shentu, I have not taught Ming-Mei well enough. I shall reprimand her,” said Fu Chuan-Fu apologetically.
“It’s all right, Uncle Fu. Go about your business,” said Shentu Tian-Yin.
Fu Chuan-Fu left as well.
“We shall be taking a look around the power plant later. Our relationship will start on this island.” Shentu Tian-Yin looked at Xia Lei, her gaze full of excitement and expectation.
Xia Lei gave a laugh. “I’ll try my best. Um, please remember to give me a hint if I don’t react quickly enough.”
“I’ve already thought of this. Come hold my hand when you see me putting my hands together,” said Shentu Tian-Yin.
“Nn.” Xia Lei nodded. This was an easy signal.
“But if you see my tongue touch my lips you have to kiss me,” she continued.
“Huh?” Xia Lei felt like he’d been kicked by someone.
“If I say ‘Honey, I’m tired’, you say ‘Let’s go back to our room to rest, Honey’. If I say I can’t walk anymore, you carry me into the room in your arms.”
Xia Lei was at an absolute loss for words.
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