He’d just got to the doorway when a woman approached. Teal cheongsam, black mid-height heels, a pair of long, uncovered legs extended from the hem and a white, soft thighs flashed through the slits of the cheongsam, delicate as flowers. Her slender waistline was such that one could encircle it with two hands and it formed a seductive line with the curve of her hips. Her bosom was a pair of large peaks, firm and full, jiggling, jiggling with every step she took, like the ripples in a pond at a dragonfly’s touch. Her face was refreshingly pleasant and she had a touch of valiance in her brow, and her bright, dark eyes left an unforgettable impression on people. She held a cloth clutch in her hand and a Chinese-style womens’ hat embroidered with a red peony perched on her head. She was nobly gorgeous.
She was like a lady of a warlord’s household from old Republican times, or the Queen of Flowers of a Shanghai nightclub. She had an imposing aura, and if it weren’t for the modern surroundings, Xia Lei would have thought that he’d gone back in time to olden-day China. He knew, however, that this was an illusion because this woman was Tang Yu-Yan.
Xia Lei had never seen her dress up seriously till now. He’d seen her in casual wear, the uniform of Bureau 101 and sports clothing but this was his first time seeing her in such feminine clothing. He was stunned.
Tang Yu-Yan walked over, her steps elegant and graceful. She had a pretty smile on her face and every movement she made was that of a model debutante.
Xia Lei only came back to his senses when she walked up to him and the smell of her mesmerising perfume tickled his nose. He broke out in a smile. “Why are you here, Miss Tang? And dressed like this too?”
Tang Yu-Yan gave him a smirking smile. “I’ll answer your questions. I came specially to find you because there’s a mission I need your help with. And as for why I’m dressed like this - I like old stuff. Let me ask you something too. Do I look good in a cheongsam?”
“Yes.” Xia Lei followed it up with, “You say you need my help with a mission? What mission?”
“Don’t just give me a half-assed reply. Answer me properly - do I look good in a cheongsam?”
Xia Lei was speechless.
“Come on, tell me. Your opinion matters to me,” nagged Tang Yu-Yan.
Xia Lei smiled wryly. “You look good, very good, really. Like Ruan Ling-Yu* or Lu Xiao-Man*. You look way prettier than them, of course.”
“Hee hee hee…” Tang Yu-Yan let out a tinkling giggle. “Ok, I’ll take that.”
“Can you tell me what the mission is about now?”
“Go in and dance with me. I saw that you have no dance partner and you’re all alone.” Tang Yu-Yan raised her right hand gracefully. This was a signal for Xia Lei to take her hand.
Xia Lei did not move. “Your people are in there?”
Tang Yu-Yan rolled her eyes at Xia Lei. “Long Bing has three to five men to make a team. I’m the same rank as her so why can’t I take any?”
Xia Lei was speechless.
“Come in with me. I’ll tell you what the mission is about while we dance.” Tang Yu-Yan lifted her right hand again.
Xia Lei was powerless. He took Tang Yu-Yan’s hand and went back into the hall with her.
The song had just ended when they walked in and Shentu Tian-Yin and Tu Qing-Long were just leaving the dance floor. Shentu Tian-Yin saw Ahn Suhyeon by the dance floor but not Xia Lei, and she moved her gaze to the main doors of the hall, just in time to see Xia Lei walking towards the dance floor, holding the hand of a cheongsam beauty. Her heart felt as if someone had taken hold of it and given it a squeeze in that instant.
Several guests’ gazes also went to Tang Yu-Yan and Xia Lei.
No one could deny that Tang Yu-Yan was a fierce competitor with Shentu Tian-Yin in terms of beauty and body. Shentu Tian-Yin had the air of a queen, noble and elegant. Tang Yu-Yan had the air of classic elegance and was also fairly classy. These two women were the two most beautiful women at the party and the most eye-catching existences.
Earlier, when Ahn Suhyeon had held Shentu Tian-Yin’s hand and walked to the dance floor, everyone had thought that they looked like a perfect pair.
Now, Xia Lei was holding Tang Yu-Yan’s hand as they walked to the dance floor; one imposing and the other incomparably gorgeous. They were a perfect pair too. The two of them also had a similarity, and that was this air of valiance. It made them even more of a match.
The music started playing. Xia Lei put his arm around Tang Yu-Yan’s waist and started dancing with her.
By the dance floor, all smiles had been wiped from Shentu Tian-Yin’s face.
Ahn Suhyeon went to her side and said with a smile, “Mr Xia sure is a dissolute man. He asked me to tell you that he was going off because of some matters earlier and here he is, back again with a woman for a dance.”
“Do you know that woman?” probed Shentu Tian-Yin.
Ahn Suhyeon shook his head. “No.”
Tu Qing-Long asked curiously, “Tian-Yin, this is your place and all the guests were invited by you. You don’t know who she is?”
“No.” Shentu Tian-Yin did not even spare Tu Qing-Long a glance, though she had been troubled earlier by the thought that she would be giving Xia Lei the cold shoulder due to his invitation to a dance.
Tu Qing-Long shut his mouth after getting a cold response.
Shentu Tian-Yin’s brows wrinkled as she watched Xia Lei and Tang Yu-Yan begin moving on the dance floor. 'Ours sure is an ill-fated love affair. Liang Si-Yao’s gone but this woman’s popped up now and he didn’t invite me to a dance but dances with this woman instead. What does he mean by this?'
It was sometimes very difficult to guess a man’s thoughts.
On the dance floor, Xia Lei had his hand on Tang Yu-Yan’s little waist and he felt his hand heat up. They were mid-way through the dance and she still hadn’t fulfilled her promise of telling him. This made him a little anxious. “Didn’t you say that you were going to tell me what the mission is about?”
“Come to Afghanistan with me.”
“We have some of our experts trapped there. They need rescue,” said Tang Yu-Yan.
“I remember you saying you were going on a mission to Afghanistan before, and it was a rescue mission too. Is this the same? The people haven’t been rescued yet?”
Tang Yu-Yan leaned in to Xia Lei’s ear and spoke in a low, cotton-soft voice. “That’s why I need a super consultant like you to take action.”
Her hot, fragrant breath warmed his ear and Xia Lei was suddenly sensitive. He frowned. “Don’t make me out to be a hero. I’m not buying it. I won’t go unless I have clear information on it.”
“I didn’t go the last time - another team did. Five dead, two disabled. We don’t want to put you in the field either but this mission is extremely important. You have to help me,” said Tang Yu-Yan in his ear, “You cannot refuse.”
Xia Lei shook his head hard. “Nope, I’m not going. Not for something so dangerous. Go find someone else.”
The music stopped at that moment. Xia Lei made to move off the dance floor but Tang Yu-Yan put her arms around his waist and pulled him along in another dance. There was no music but this did not affect her beautiful dancing.
“What are you planning? People are watching us,” said Xia Lei awkwardly.
Tang Yu-Yan laughed. “You and I are son and daughter of martial arts. We live vicariously and don’t worry about the little things. Let us dance our dance - who cares what they think.”
Xia Lei couldn’t help stealing a glance at Shentu Tian-Yin by the dance floor and he discovered that she was smile-less. He thought of how he had declined to invite her to a dance and how he was now having a good time dancing with Tang Yu-Yan and his brain begun to hurt.
“Let me tell you a secret.” Tang Yu-Yan ignored the looks of everyone and put her lips close to Xia Lei’s ear. She spoke in a low voice, “You know one of those experts.”
“I know one? Who?” asked Xia Lei in surprise.
“Ning Jing,” said Tang Yu-Yan.
Xia Lei stared blankly. “How did she end up in Afghanistan?”
“Promise to help me and I’ll tell you,” said Tang Yu-Yan.
“Don’t tell me and I won’t go.” Xia Lei put on a stubborn act.
Tang Yu-Yan laughed lightly. “Oh, Boss Shi said that your military factory still needs one more approval for permissions… He won’t help if you won’t.”
“You guys are really…” Xia Lei was nonplussed.
He had put almost one billion yuan into the military factory, and no one had told him that he’d needed this and that permission before he had invested. What was this about needing permissions now? It now looked like this military factory had become a bit of a disadvantage for him.
“Promise me. Help me, or I may die in Afghanistan too.” Tang Yu-Yan stopped dancing. She looked at Xia Lei with shining puppy-dog eyes.
She was good with words - she’d first dug at Xia Lei’s weak point and then used soft words to plead with him. Xia Lei couldn’t get mad at her.
Xia Lei smiled wryly. “You guys have already planned everything so how can I say no? When do we leave?”
“Tonight. We go straight to Pakistan, then from Pakistan to Afghanistan. You don’t have to prepare anything - I’ve done all preparations for you.”
“Hold on, I’ll go say goodbye to my friends.” Xia Lei let go of Tang Yu-Yan’s little waist.
“Shentu Tian-Yin. I know her. You two are a good match,” said Tang Yu-Yan with a smile.
Xia Lei rolled his eyes at her, then walked towards Shentu Tian-Yin.
“Who’s she?” Shentu Tian-Yin’s tone was sour, but it was not obvious to anyone but herself.
Xia Lei leaned in to her ear and said in a low voice, “Tang Yu-Yan. She is Long Bing’s colleague. I have to go to Afghanistan with her. She came specially to get me.”
A faint smile appeared in the corners of Shentu Tian-Yin’s mouth when she heard that it was Long Bing’s colleague. “I see. What are you going to Afghanistan with her for?”
“This… I cannot say,” said Xia Lei apologetically, “I have to go. Happy birthday.”
“Be careful,” nagged Shentu Tian-Yin.
Xia Lei gave her a smile. “Nn, I’m off.”
Tang Yu-Yan walked over at that moment. She did not greet Shentu Tian-Yin. She gave Xia Lei a look, and brushed past Ahn Suhyeon’s shoulder as she walked towards the doors of the hall.
However, Xia Lei saw Tang Yu-Yan put something the size of a rice grain in Ahn Suhyeon’s clothes in that instant.
What was going on?
Ahn Suhyeon did not seem to have felt anything amiss and kept a fierce eye on Xia Lei and Shentu Tian-Yin. He looked to be all calm on the surface but there was an unpleasant look in his eyes.
Xia Lei gave Ahn Suhyeon a look as well and followed Tang Yu-Yan out.Previous Chapter Next Chapter