Xia Lei and Shentu Tian-Yin left Ahn Retreat and checked-in to a hotel called Aloft Seoul Gangnam.
Xia Lei opened his room with the room card. There was a female service staff member in his room but she was not doing any work. She was sitting on the sofa with her legs crossed and enjoying the view of the bustling street outside the window. She looked away when Xia Lei entered.
A wry smile appeared in the corners of Xia Lei’s lips when he saw her face. “You should know that it’s not good for you to appear here. Ahn Suhyeong might have sent men to follow me.”
The woman on the sofa was Long Bing.
Xia Lei did not know if she knew he would be getting this room or if she had entered it after he got his room card. It was always astonishing to see her appear; it was her style.
Long Bing spoke evenly, “I wouldn’t be here if I can’t even handle one Ahn Suhyeong.”
Xia Lei sat next to the bed. “What about the sword?”
“It’s on its way to China through secure means,” said Long Bing.
Xia Lei let out a breath. “That’s good. The sword’s most important. It’s best that it’s not in Korea. Ahn Geungan and Ahn Suhyeong won’t trace it back to me no matter how they look.”
“You did well this time, but…”
“Your guy is not clean.” A tiny wrinkle appeared between Long Bing’s brows. “Our target is just the sword of Attila but he also stole a few pieces of Ahn Geungan’s collection. You were there - why didn’t you stop him?”
“Did you come to hold me accountable?”
Long Bing said nothing; she stared at him silently.
“I was there, true, and Qin Xiang took a few items but I didn’t think much of it. He’s taking such a great risk and Bureau 101 isn’t giving him any reward either. If this fails you won’t admit that he was working for you guys - he could even lose his life in Korea. Is it so wrong for him to try to get some repayment?” said Xia Lei.
Long Bing sighed. “Don’t misunderstand. I’m not here to hold anyone accountable. I will keep this quiet and won’t report it. But you have to tell your guy that the things he stole cannot resurface within the next five years or it’ll bring trouble. If he becomes the target of Ahn Geungan’s investigation because he was trying to sell what he stole then he will have a terrible end.”
Xia Lei understood what she meant. Qin Xiang would indeed have a bad end if something like that did happen, because he would have to deal with not just Ahn Geungan’s investigations or pursuit but with Bureau 101 too. And it was difficult to guess how Bureau 101 would choose to handle the matter.
“I will warn him,” said Xia Lei, “Where is he now?”
“He left after handing the sword of Attila to me. I think he must have some way to leave Korea. I found out that Ahn Geungan had lost some other artifacts too after I listened in on the police channel, so I’m coming by specially to talk with you about this. I don’t want him to become a danger, and I won’t allow him to be a danger. You understand what I mean?” said Long Bing.
Xia Lei smiled wryly and nodded.
He’d thought that Qin Xiang should have some benefit too and that was why he had not stopped him but he had not thought that it would bring so much danger. However, he was confident that he could persuade Qin Xiang not to sell those artifacts.
“There’s a flight tomorrow afternoon, 1300 hours. You’ll have to leave no matter if Shentu Tian-Yin is leaving or not. Someone will get you at Incheon Airport,” said Long Bing.
“Shentu Tian-Yin says that she will leave right after the groundbreaking ceremony, so I think it’s going to be no problem. I’ll go straight to Incheon Airport if she doesn’t leave,” said Xia Lei.
“Be careful.” Long Bing left with those words.
Xia Lei sat in the room and thought about his world after Long Bing’s departure. The process of how they had taken the sword of Attila replayed in his mind, especially the part where he held the sword in his hands.
‘The ruins in the White Hun Tribe was built in the time of the Huns’ prosperity. The Ming dynasty compass also pointed there. These two pieces of history are separated by a thousand years, so how are they related? And the weight of the sword of Attila was obviously not right. It’s definitely no ordinary sword. Too bad I didn’t take a close look at it earlier… When I go back I must have a good look at it before I hand it to Dayetia…’ thought Xia Lei.
Knock-knock-knocking came from the door.
Xia Lei’s thoughts were interrupted and his gaze went to the door. His left eye twitched and the person behind the door entered his field of vision.
It was Fu Ming-Mei and she looked annoyed. She knocked twice more on the door.
Xia Lei got up and walked to the door as he said, “Who is it?”
Xia Lei opened the room door. “What is it?”
“Big Sister Tian-Yin is inviting you for a cup of coffee. She wants to talk with you,” said Fu Ming-Mei.
Xia Lei glanced at the watch on his wrist. It was already past ten in the evening but he did not refuse. “Sure. Where?”
“In the hotel cafe,” said Fu Ming-Mei, “Follow me.”
Xia Lei left the room and followed Fu Ming-Mei to the cafe.
“I heard you had a duel with Ahn Suhyeong and you won, eh?” asked Fu Ming-Mei casually in the lift.
“Just playing around with him.”
“Heh heh,” chuckled Fu Ming-Mei, “How could you play with him? He’s your love rival, remember? You won the fight so Big Sister Tian-Yin will add more points to your score.”
Adding points again. Xia Lei didn’t want to hear about it but he did not show his thoughts on his face.
Xia Lei spotted Shentu Tian-Yin right away upon entering the cafe. She was sitting with her back against the sofa at a table which was next to the floor-to-ceiling glass window, watching the streets outside the window silently.
The Gangnam district was Seoul’s busiest business district and one could indulge in a life of luxury here.
Xia Lei sat opposite Shentu Tian-Yin. A waiter came over and he ordered a cup of black coffee.
“I can’t sleep. I’d like to chat with you.” Shentu Tian-Yin broke the silence between them. There was a special look in her eyes as she gazed at Xia Lei.
Xia Lei gave a laugh. “I couldn’t sleep either. What shall we chat about?”
“Do we have to search for topics to have a chat, the two of us?” The tone of Shentu Tian-Yin’s voice carried a hint of reproach.
Xia Lei said a little sheepishly, “Actually, I do have several topics I’d like to talk with you about, but…”
“Nothing.” Xia Lei didn’t know what he should say either.
Shentu Tian-Yin sighed and moved her gaze to the window. Her thoughts went up and down in the monstrous and multi-coloured streetscape, her heart seeming to float and sink along with it. “I miss the times we spent together. We talked about everything. You could even throw your life away to protect me. To help me, you went ahead with my act even though your ex-girlfriend Liang Si-Yao would misunderstand our relationship…” Her voice carried a trace of hurt. “But now it feels like there’s a layer between us. I don’t understand why. Can you tell me why?”
Xia Lei did not have such feelings. He was silent for a bit, then said, “People will change depending on their environment. It can’t be helped sometimes.”
Shentu Tian-Yin’s gaze went back to Xia Lei. “So have you changed, or have I?”
Have you changed, or have I?
This was a simple question but Xia Lei could not respond.
Shentu Tian-Yin was a very proud and excellent specimen of a woman. She was stubborn too but she had opened her heart to Xia Lei in the past. If he had put in a little more effort then he could have had all of her but he had chosen Liang Si-Yao instead.
Then Liang Si-Yao betrayed him and the pain she caused resulted in him not willing to risk his feelings. Add his expanding business in a sensitive phase to the mix and he had no mind at all to be thinking of relationships. He’d missed the best time and opportunity to conquer Shentu Tian-Yin.
On Shentu Tian-Yin’s end, she had changed because of the betrayal of her family and she would not trust anyone easily either. Her heart, which had opened for Xia Lei, was also slowly closing up again. She knew that she liked Xia Lei but he had to become the most excellent man if he wanted her, and he had to conquer her heart again.
The answer to this question had already been answered. Both of them had changed because of what happened to them and their environment had changed too.
“Forget it. Let’s talk about business.” Shentu Tian-Yin changed the topic. “I heard that you’re building a military factory in Jingdu. That’s impressive. Not anyone can do business like that but you’ve done it.”
Xia Lei smiled. “It’s not bad, being able to help the Chinese military with defence and earning money at the same time. Our country should open up this sector and allow more private capital in.”
“You’re already in, and you will be a pioneer. I am in admiration.”
“Let’s not talk about my little business. It’s nothing compared to yours,” said Xia Lei, “Let’s talk about you. I’ve been wanting to talk with you.”
Shentu Tian-Yin’s brows wrinkled slightly. “You want to talk to me about Gu Ke-Wen?”
She was sharp. Xia Lei couldn’t help a wry laugh. “Tian-Yin, I know it’s difficult for you to accept my opinion but I still have to warn you. Gu Ke-Wen is no simple woman. I’ve fought with her for so long and my impression of her is that she is a venomous snake. Would she truly be accepting about you borrowing her power to buy the previous assets of the Gu clan?”
“I’ve given her a sizeable commission. We have just a business relationship, so what use is there for her to be accepting?”
“Tian-Yin, those assets are actually state-owned assets which Gu Ding-Shan took. You…”
Shentu Tian-Yin cut him off. “I purchased them through legal means. There will be no problems. You, on the other hand… This was such a good opportunity for you to expand your business quickly so why didn’t you make a move? You’re a man, so you should have a man’s ambition.”
Xia Lei sighed to himself. She was as headstrong as ever and didn’t listen to others. It was impossible to say what he’d wanted to say anymore. His warnings were falling on deaf ears anyway so what was the use in warning her?
A group of people walked through the doorway of the cafe just as the atmosphere turned awkward between them. There were uniformed policemen as well as plainclothes policemen. Leading the group was none other than Ahn Suhyeong.
Xia Lei was on high alert upon seeing Ahn Suhyeong turn up with a large group.
“What’s he doing here?” Shentu Tian-Yin wrinkled her brows.
Ahn Suhyeong had spotted Shentu Tian-Yin and Xia Lei by the floor-to-ceiling glass window and he strode over. The group parted to let him through, then followed him to surround Shentu Tian-Yin and Xia Lei.
He was surely ill-intentioned; no one well-meaning would come.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
*Whuuut… I googled the name and it’s a real hotel - https://www.booking.com/hotel/kr/aloft-seoul-gangnam.zh-tw.html