Shentu Tian-Yin opened her doe-like eyes after making a wish and the first direction she looked at was in Xia Lei’s direction. However, Xia Lei was nowhere to be seen amidst the well-dressed attendees. She suddenly felt all empty inside, as if she’d lost a great many things.
“Happy birthday, Tian-Yin,” said Ahn Suhyeon warmly.
“Thank you.” The dazzling smile from earlier had vanished from Shentu Tian-Yin’s face.
Tu Qing-Long also went up to Shentu Tian-Yin to present the gift which he had painstakingly prepared. It was a painting he had done himself of Shentu Tian-Yin. Applause sounded from all around when he removed the cover from the painting. The real Shentu Tian-Yin and the painting of her were virtually identical, as if she were looking at herself in a mirror. What made it even more praiseworthy was that the painting of Shentu Tian-Yin had a beautiful, ethereal air to it.
“I took two weeks to paint this. I hope you like it,” said Tu Qing-Long with a smile.
“Thank you. I didn’t think you’d be this talented in art.” Shentu Tian-Yin’s gaze was on the painting but she was thinking of another person. Where had he gone?
Xia Lei was walking along a small, secluded, bamboo-covered path. The little pathway had some lamps along it but the lights were dim. Moths fluttered around these lights, throwing movings shadows in the already-dim light.
These surroundings made Xia Lei go on high alert. He awakened the power of his left eye and scanned his surroundings carefully as he asked, “Where is the lady you spoke of? I’m not going if you don’t tell me.”
He’d already scanned this waiter and he had no weapons on him, or he would have taken him out already.
“Right ahead, sir. Please come with me.” The waiter kept moving forward.
The bamboo forest along the path was not hiding gunmen or anything of that sort. Xia Lei relaxed a little. He followed the waiter and walked on.
A row of ancient tiled-roof houses were at the end of the path, green-tiled and ash-walled.
The waiter pointed to a house in the middle. “Inside that one, sir. Please enter.”
Xia Lei looked at the house and the walls disappeared soundlessly from his vision. He saw the woman inside and he paused when he saw her face.
It was Gu Ke-Wen.
Xia Lei stood a few steps away by the door and waited quietly for the door to open. She had no weapons on her.
He quickly scanned the houses. All the houses were empty save this one, with Gu Ke-Wen in it.
This was a confusing situation for Xia Lei. ‘Gu Ke-Wen wants to meet me? What’s she up to?’
Gu Ke-Wen opened the door and looked at Xia Lei. Her voice was calm as she said, “You came but didn’t dare go in? I don’t have any weapons on me and no helpers either. Still afraid of me?”
Xia Lei walked over. No weapons and no helpers - Gu Ke-Wen was nothing. He was curious about why she had turned up here, and was meeting him in this fashion.
Gu Ke-Wen stepped out of the way and closed the door after Xia Lei entered.
“Something to drink?” said Gu Ke-Wen.
Xia Lei spotted a bottle of Lafite wine on the coffee table and a few cans of Coca-cola. There were two long-stemmed glasses on the coffee table and one had traces of red wine while the other looked clean and untouched.
“What? Afraid that it’s poisoned?” A faint mocking smile appeared on Gu Ke-Wen’s lips.
Xia Lei shook his head. “You’re right. I am afraid that you’ve poisoned the drinks. I have no interest in drinking and chatting with you. Just say what you want to say; stop beating about the bush.”
Gu Ke-Wen poured herself half a glass of red wine and downed it all. “You must be happy now, huh?”
“Why am I happy?”
“Stop with the act. My father’s missing and my brother’s been arrested. The Gu clan’s assets have been frozen and parcelled out for auction. Those brown-nosers who’d followed my father around have reared their ugly heads now and are snatching up our assets. Aren’t you happy about this?”
Xia Lei gave a small shake of his head.
“Hahaha… You’re not? Oh, I know. It’s because of me. I’m the little fish who escaped the net, eh? Finish me off. You’ll be happy then!” Gu Ke-Wen had a twisted smile.
Xia Lei had always had a feeling of disgust whenever he saw Gu Ke-Wen in the past but right now, looking at her, all he felt was pity.
“You don’t dare to kill me? Oh, right, I wasn’t arrested… Because our Gu clan has a person who’s clean, and that’s me!”
“Don’t disgust me. You? Clean? How did you get ahold of Liu Ying’s patent? I don’t know about other things but based on this one matter, I know you’re not clean. You’re just lucky because things haven’t been traced back to you yet. Your Gu clan has done so many bad deeds - you dare say that you had no part in any of it?” said Xia Lei.
“I didn’t come today to argue with you. I’ve argued enough. I’m tired and I don’t want to fight.” For some unknown reason, Gu Ke-Wen calmed and looked worn out.
“You called me here to say all these to me? Then you’ve met your goal. You can leave, or I can leave,” said Xia Lei.
Gu Ke-Wen laughed dryly. “Know what? I hate the current you the most now. Uncaring and hard like a stinking rock.”
Xia Lei turned to leave.
“Wait!” Gu Ke-Wu called Xia Lei to a stop. “My father is dead.”
Xia Lei stopped in his tracks. He looked back at Gu Ke-Wen. “How do you know?”
“My father’s secretary told me that he received a call on the day he went missing, then took five billion in cash from our finances. But he went missing that night. I know who called him, and I know that person’s methods. There’s been no news of my father and the police haven’t arrested anyone. I believe he’s already dead,” said Gu Ke-Wen.
“I don’t see you grieving.”
“The Gu never cry, because only weaklings believe in tears.” Gu Ke-Wen’s voice was cold, “The person who called my father is named Qiu Jun. He’s a tiger too. He’s done more bad deeds than my father. He killed my father but he’s still alive, and living well. We can take him down together. I have evidence against him. We can take him down if we work together.”
So this was Gu Ke-Wen’s motive. Xia Lei was surprised.
“I only found out that you’re one of the people of Bureau 101 after my brother got arrested and my father died. You hid it well. Catching bad people is your duty, right? You got my brother arrested and my father killed, I know. Why don’t you go after Qiu Jun!”
Xia Lei had no words of response. He had no right in the matter to make any decision on who to arrest and who not to arrest. Long Bing had even warned him that their actions were just to get rid of one tiger - Gu Ding-Shan. The other tigers would return to their lairs and continue being kings of their own mountains. He was not entirely satisfied with that but that was how the world was and there was no arguing with it.
“Say something!” Gu Ke-Wu screamed at Xia Lei.
“You think it’s unfair?” Xia Lei finally spoke.
“Yes! It’s unfair!”
Xia Lei laughed and shook his head. “When your Gu clan was amassing assets, many were so pressured by your father that they jumped off buildings. There were also some who’d been killed off by Danny. Your father was living the high life then. You think they thought that was fair? And you. You used a child’s life to threaten Liu Ying. You forced her to flee to Australia. Does she think it’s fair?”
“I don’t care about others, I care about myself!” Gu Ke-Wen was losing it. “I want you to work with me. We’ll finish Qiu Jun off! And his friends!”
Xia Lei’s voice was flat. “You came looking for the wrong man. I’ve washed my hands off this. Go look for someone else. This will be our last conversation - don’t look for me again.”
“Then release my brother!”
Xia Lei smiled wryly and turned to leave.
Gu Ke-Wen suddenly dashed in front of Xia Lei and shrugged her shoulders. The straps of her red dress slipped from her shoulders. Her body was entirely exposed under the lamp light, soft, white and full of temptation. The dense bush was a stark contrast to her soft skin, and was mysteriously mature.
Xia Lei was unfazed. “What are you doing this for?”
“Let my brother out and I’ll do anything you want. You can have my body, and a billion yuan too!” Gu Ke-Wen’s eyes were full of aggression.
Xia Lei laughed. “You’ve tried all the connections you could before you came looking for me, haven’t you? If they didn’t want to help you, then why would I? And don’t forget - I’m not your friend!”
Gu Ke-Wen froze. Her large eyes lost their earlier aggression.
That’s right. She and Gu Ke-Wu had schemed to run him into the ground. Had she ever thought that there would come a day when she would have to beg Xia Lei for help?
Xia Lei walked around Gu Ke-Wen and out of the house. He did not look back.
Tears streamed from the corners of Gu Ke-Wen’s eyes. What she said about the Gu not believing in tears was a lie.
She stood blankly for a long while before she said aloud, “Xia Lei, you’re a hateful man. I gave you a chance to reconcile with me but you refused. Fine. From this day on, I, Gu Ke-Wen, swear that as long as I draw breath, I will make you regret this!”
Xia Lei could not hear her. Gu Ke-Wen throwing away her dignity and coming to beg him should have gratified him but he felt a heaviness instead.
Xia Lei walked towards the hall where the birthday party was being held. The venue was brightly lit and music and happy chatter came from it.
After a while, Gu Ke-Wen left Distinguished Gathering via the back door. She headed to the seaside. There was a speedboat at the jetty and Dong Qing-Yue was on it waiting for her.
Gu Ke-Wen spotted Dong Qing-Yue as she neared the speedboat. Just then, Dong Qing-Yue suddenly stood and a gurgling sound came from her throat.
Gu Ke-Wen realised something was wrong and turned to flee but before she could run, a large, furry hand grabbed her by the throat from behind.
“Mmfmm..” Gu Ke-Wen struggled violently and fell quiet in the midst of her struggles.
The moon hung in the sky, bright and white as snow.Previous Chapter Next Chapter