Haizhu City under the veil of night was like a dream.
Xia Lei walked out of the hospital but he was still thinking about what Jiang Ruyi had said in his ear: I’ll wait for you to come back, no matter how long it takes. If you get tired outside, then come back and unwind.
Memories of his childhood and his younger days surfaced in his head and a wry smile appeared in the corners of his mouth. ‘You said that, but what am I to do?’
He really didn’t know what to do with her feelings - he was carrying too much emotional debt.
He was not a playboy but he definitely was an exceptional man, and like beautiful women having several suitors, it made sense that he would have women liking him as a single man with great qualities.
‘Maybe I really should find a woman and get married. I won’t have a problem like this if I did that.’ This strange thought popped into his head.
Ring ring ring, ring ring ring…
Xia Lei fished his phone out of his pocket and saw an unfamiliar number. He hesitated, then accepted the call.
A woman’s voice came over the line. “Xia Lei, this is Gu Kewen.”
Xia Lei was surprised that she would be so upfront about who she was. “What are you calling me for?”
Gu Kewen laughed. “Can’t I call to chat about old times?”
Xia Lei wrinkled his brows. “Gu Kewen, you may be working for Shentu Tianyin now but we are not friends. Say what business you have or I’ll hang up.”
“All right, business.” Gu Kewen stopped her laughing. “I called to tell you something. Ahn Suhyeong has been released.”
Xia Lei paused. He knew that Ahn Suhyeong was going to be used for political gain but had not expected it to happen so quickly. He’d imagined that it would take months for negotiations on both sides to be complete and him to be released then.
“He came looking for Shentu Tianyin today,” said Gu Kewen. “I was just next to them when they talked about the mobile phone collaboration project between Shinyeok Group and Vientaine Group. He mentioned you towards the end.”
Xia Lei put on a calm front. “What did he say about me?”
“Not anything good, of course. He said you stole his family’s sword of Attila and some other antiques, that you are a thief. He then said you framed him and that you were the cause of the police arresting him, but he’s innocent. He also said that he would settle the score with you for sure.”
Xia Lei scoffed. “And did Tianyin say anything?”
“She spoke up for you, of course. She even cautioned Ahn Suhyeong against being too reckless. Ahn Suhyeong agreed but I could see that he was just feigning civility. He will say yes to anything Shentu Tianyin says in front of her but whether he would honour it is another matter.”
“Let him come at me.” Xia Lei’s voice was ice-cold. He could kill six of the Ahn’s underlings in Gangnam Hotel - he wouldn’t mind killing more!
“That’s it then. I’m hanging up.”
“Wait.” Xia Lei stopped her. “Why tell me all these?”
“Why do you think I’m telling you all these?”
“We’re not friends; you and I both know that. You should be on the same page as Ahn Suhyeong, giving him advice and helping him plot against me. Isn’t it a good thing for you if I die in Ahn Suhyeong’s hands?”
Gu Kewen was silent for a bit. “Do you still remember that deal I spoke of that time?”
Xia Lei immediately recalled that night, not long after the Gu clan had collapsed. Gu Kewen had stripped, leaving her evening gown on the floor to try to seduce him into working with her and helping her to get revenge for her father, Gu Dingshan, by going up against the bigwigs who had caused his death. Xia Lei had rejected her then, of course, but he had not expected her to bring this up now.
“What I want to tell you is that the deal I mentioned to you then is still valid now. If you agree and help me get revenge then the score between us shall be settled. My whole being will belong to you and you can do what you want with me.” Gu Kewen had said a similar thing that night at Distinguished Gathering.
“Thank you for reminding me, Gu Kewen, but…” Xia Lei switched to more tactful words, “You doing this is just debasing yourself. You were the young lady of the Gu clan - when did you fall to having to use your body as a bargaining chip? Besides, you’re not my type.”
“Hehe.” Gu Kewen gave a laugh. “I did use my body to try to tempt you but you were indifferent. I, Gu Kewen, will not make the same mistake twice. When I said that my whole being is yours I meant that I can make money for you. The Gu clan has fallen but the connections are still there. I have a leash on many people. These are all connections which money cannot buy. Your company can be as big as Vientaine Group in under ten years with me helping you.”
Catching up to Vientaine Group in ten years - it would be a joke if anyone else said it but coming from Gu Kewen, it carried weight. She did have the Gu clan connections and she had a hold on the weaknesses of a lot of people. These connections were not visible but they were definitely fairly powerful, otherwise Shentu Tianyin wouldn’t have her as an assistant.
Xia Lei was silent. He couldn’t deny that he was tempted by the offer.
“Give yourself time to think it over. I have patience,” came Gu Kewen’s voice. “I will continue to keep an eye on Ahn Suhyeong. I’ll let you know right away if anything happens on his end.”
The polite thing for Xia Lei to do would be to thank her but his mouth felt like it was filled with cotton; he could not say anything.
Gu Kewen hung up.
The night breeze blew across his cheeks, bringing the chill of sundown with it. Xia Lei’s thoughts cleared with the chill and he pondered, ‘The Gu clan fell because of me. Gu Dingshan is dead and Gu Kewu is still in prison. With all that weighing in the balance, Gu Kewen wants to work with me, and not revenge? She even said she’d help me surpass Vientaine Group. I have to be really drunk to believe her.’
Working together was impossible. But Gu Kewen was a smart woman - couldn’t she see that? Then why was she still doing this?
What made Xia Lei puzzled was that Gu Kewen had turned up again not to seek revenge on him but to offer him help. What was her motive?
Gu Kewen was like a whole different person after popping up again and she was a mystery.
Xia Lei drove on the roads but he didn’t go fast. His head was full of questions, and Jiang Ruyi. Thinking of Jiang Ruyi made his heart feel warm and affectionate.
A motorcycle roared past the BMW M6, going at at least 100km/h.
Xia Lei looked over. The person on the motorcycle looked familiar. Just as he got ready to chase after the motorcycle and use his X-ray vision to see the face behind the helmet, the rider in front swung an arm, and a round white something was stuck on the windscreen of the BMW M6.
It was a piece of chewed chewing gum.
The sight of the chewing gum led Xia Lei to immediately guess the identity of the motorcycle rider. There was no need to speed up and catch sight of the rider’s face. She was his father’s assistant, Yelena.
Yelena didn’t even look back. She stepped on the accelerator and was gone in the blink of an eye.
This was China and her goal was not to meet; she had already done what she needed to do.
Xia Lei moved his car to the side of the road and parked in a spot by the road, then alighted. He plucked the chewing gum off the windscreen.
“This same thing again, making me dig through her chewed gum. Doesn’t she have other methods of passing a message on?” grumbled Xia Lei in the car as he pulled the chewing gum apart.
There was a note in the gum, as expected. On it was written: Son, we’ll meet in Russia. I need your sniper rifle. Bring two extra with you. Someone in China has you marked. I’ve begun looking into that person’s identity and movements and I’ll get Yelena to let you know if there’s any result.
It was his father, Xia Changhe’s handwriting on the note, and not a forgery. A fake would never be able to fool Xia Lei’s eyes.
‘My old man wants my sniper rifles?’ Xia Lei smiled wryly. ‘He sure has an eye for good stuff. All right, I’ll take two extra sniper rifles with me to Russia and give them to him then.”
His father was finally willing to meet him; Xia Lei was excited. This meant that he could find some answers to questions which had plagued him. More importantly, father and son, who had been separated for five, six years were finally going to be reunited!
Xia Lei tore up the paper note and threw the chewing gum into a bin by the side of the road.
Ring ring ring, ring ring ring…
His mobile phone rang again.
“Who is it now?” Xia Lei took his phone out and saw Jiang Ruyi’s number. He accepted the call. “What is it, Ruyi?”
“Are you at the airport already?”
“No. Didn’t I say that I’m leaving tomorrow? I want to rest at home tonight,” said Xia Lei.
“Ah, I messed up. I didn’t hear you clearly and thought you were rushing off to the airport so I didn’t ask you to stay. Ma even scolded me earlier, asking why I didn’t treat you to a meal. You haven’t eaten yet, have you?”
“Nope. I went to your place when I got back, then to the hospital. I’m on my way home now to just cook up a little something to eat.”
“Don’t go back. Come pick me up. How about we go to that barbecue restaurant we used to go to when we were in high school? My treat,” said Jiang Ruyi. Her voice had an indescribable sweetness to it.
“Okay. I’ll be right over.” Xia Lei hung up and turned his car in the direction of the hospital.
Re-living high school days - that wasn’t bad either.
In the hospital, Yang Lan gave Jiang Ruyi a thumbs-up and her smile bloomed like a flower. “That’s more like it. Girls should be gentle, playful and cute. You cannot talk to him so fiercely like a man. Who’s going to marry you?”
“Ma!” Jiang Ruyi stamped her foot. “Say any more and I won’t learn! It’s gross!”
“Yes, yes, yes, I won’t say any more, okay?” Yang Lan pursed her lips, then added, “The same terrible temper as your father.”
Jiang Shuqing turned over in bed and faced his ass at Yang Lan.
Meanwhile, a tall, burly man walked out of a dark corner where Xia Lei had parked his car. He held up a phone and spoke in Korean, “President, there’s something up with this punk.”
A male voice came from over the line. “What is it? Is it a small problem?”
The tall man said,”It’s not a normal situation. I saw a woman…”
Before he could finish, a middle-aged man wearing a baseball cap suddenly walked over from the pavement and shoved a syringe into his neck. He collapsed in a second.
The man held him and walked to the side of the road to open the door of a vehicle. He stuffed the man in, then drove the vehicle away. The whole thing took less than 20 seconds, and did not draw anyone’s attention.
The night deepened as the plot thickened.Previous Chapter Next Chapter