Night descended and the city changed. Neon lights flashed and the lights of traffic winked with passing cars. Men and women alike were lost in music and alcohol, indulging in a life of luxury.
Xia Lei changed too - his status was set anew in Shentu Tianyin’s Jingdu home. He was the fiance of Shentu Tianyin, the future son-in-law of Shentu Ren. He was a chef now. He was busy in the kitchen showing off his spectacular cooking skills. There were two other people in the house - one his future father-in-law and the other his wife-to-be, so of course he had to show his hand and make a good impression.
Shentu Tianyin and Shentu Ren chatted in the living room while Xia Lei worked in the kitchen.
“It’s so unexpected that you two would just…” Shentu Ren faked unhappiness. “You two, really. Why didn’t you talk to me about such a big matter before doing it? I’m your father, you know.”
“Father.” Shentu Tianyin spoke formally, “I got you such a good son-in-law - don’t pretend that you’re losing out when you’re actually at an advantage.”
“Heh heh.” Shentu Ren chuckled. “Ah, you. I understand you so I won’t be mad at you for talking to me like this but you’re too distant and too proud. Pay attention to your tone when you talk to Xia Lei, and don’t be too stubborn. Women can be strong-willed in the workplace but at home, in everyday life, you have to be gentler.”
Shentu Tianyin held Shentu Ren’s hand and said softly, “Father, I know you mean well, but do you think your daughter does not know how to treat her own man? Don’t worry. He is mine, and no one else can take him away.”
“That’s not for certain. He’s an outstanding, accomplished man and there are sure to be other women keeping an eye on him. Besides, you two are just engaged now, not married.”
“Father, it is my big day today. Can you not be a wet blanket?” Shentu Tianyin pouted.
Shentu Ren lowered his voice. “It’s for your own good. Never mind, I won’t be counting on you. I’ll go to the Master of the Shaolin Temple tomorrow to let him have a look at the auspicious dates. We’ll look at the closest auspicious date and get the two of you married as soon as possible.”
A faint smile appeared on Shentu Tianyin’s lips. “It’s me getting married, not you. Why so anxious?”
“How can I not be anxious? My friends from way back are already holding their grandchildren in their arms. I’m still waiting to hold my own grandchild.” Shentu Ren chuckled. “Oh, but the matter of grandchildren should be handled by you two.”
A blush appeared on Shentu Tianyin’s pale cheeks. She had had some intimate interactions with Xia Lei but it had been too long; she’d almost forgotten what it was like. Now with her father talking about ‘holding a grandchild’, the fuzzy memory of her feelings and the situations back then surfaced in her head again. She was a little hopeful, and little scared, a little longing, a little shy.
Shentu Ren patted Shentu Tianyin on the shoulder and sighed. “Ah, if only your mother were still alive. That would be great. She would definitely be happy for you.”
Shentu Tianyin gave a small nod. Bliss and pain lanced through her in that instant.
“Time to eat.” Xia Lei called Shentu Tianyin and Shentu Ren to have dinner as he walked towards the dining room with four dishes in his hands.
“Go on, help him.” Shentu Ren gave Shentu Tianyin a look.
“You’re already on his side. Humph.” Shentu Tianyin wrinkled her little nose and stood to help Xia Lei.
Shentu Ren smiled wryly and looked out the window at the night sky dotted with stars. He said softly, “Do you see this, my dear? Our daughter finally found a partner for life. Xia Lei is a good man - very good. You’ll surely like him.”
A night breeze came, rustling the curtains as if in reply to a loved one.
Shentu Ren wiped the tear from the corner of his eyes and walked towards the dining room.
Xia Lei had made six dishes - Mutton soup, abalone in sauce, steamed scallops, two vegetable dishes and German-style pork cutlets fried in butter. The Chinese and Western dishes were nicely matched and smelt fantastic.
Shentu Ren fetched what looked like a very old bottle of red wine to the table and opened it. He poured it into the decanter and swirled it gently.
Xia Lei looked at the old bottle of wine and asked curiously, “What red wine is this, Uncle Ren? It looks very old. It has to be very aged, yes?”
Shentu Ren chuckled. “This is the dry red wine I’ve kept for ten years. Penfolds Grange. There are only 20 of these bottles in the world. I bought this from an European collector back then for 10,000 USD.”
Xia Lei was stunned. “Uncle Ren, how could you just open a bottle of wine like this! It’s worth over 600,000!”
This was just a normal family dinner. It was just too wasteful to drink a bottle of red wine valued at over 600,000, even if they were wealthy. A lot of people would have to work their whole lives to be able to earn enough money as the value of a bottle like this!
Shentu Ren did not explain why he had opened such a valuable bottle of red wine but he gave Xia Lei a dissatisfied look. “Lei, why are you still calling me ‘Uncle Ren’?”
Shentu Tianyin nudged Xia Lei under the table.
Xia Lei then said, “Father.”
“Heh heh!” Shentu Ren beamed. “You asked just now why I opened this bottle of red wine. For this. For you calling me ‘Father’. Today is a good day for you both. I am happy - when will I open this bottle of wine if not today?”
Shentu Tianyin retorted, “You can open it on the wedding day too.”
Shentu Ren rolled his eyes at Shentu Tianyin. “I have wine for your marriage day too. I’ve also prepared wine for the day you two have a child and I get to hold my grandchild!”
Shentu Tianyin’s face reddened. “What are you saying, Father? Why talk about having children? Do you think it’s like steaming buns? Knead the dough, put it in the steamer and a bun comes out?”
Xia Lei was speechless.
It was unimaginable that the queen of Vientaine Group would make a comparison like this.
The three of them enjoyed their dinner. One thing which struck Xia Lei was that the bottle of red wine worth 600,000 was not particularly praiseworthy; he felt like it was more or less the same as a bottle of red wine worth 2,000.
But who understood the world of the rich?
He was a rich man too himself but he would not spend money like this.
The dinner came to an end and Shentu Tianyin took the initiative to clear away the dishes. Xia Lei wanted to help but she didn’t let him, insisting on doing it alone. The servants usually did this, or Fu Mingmei or Fu Chuanfu, but today was a special day and these people had been sent out.
Xia Lei had nothing to do, so he went upstairs to the study.
He used Shentu Tianyin’s computer to search for ‘The Holy Land’ and the Baidu search results returned a whole lot of information. Jerusalem, Baldwin IV, his sister Sibylla, and the French Knight of Syracuse, Barrian. These were ancient characters and it would be difficult to find a tomb. But their story had touched him, hundreds of years from their time, and made him go look for the secrets hidden within.
‘There’s nothing describing a ‘Sacred Heart’. That’s not odd, I guess. It’s just a necklace. I guess only Princess Yongmei can tell me how the necklace ended with with her, and as part of her burial items.’ The thought of Princess Yongmei called up an image of her in Xia Lei’s head - naked, beautiful and just absolutely stunning.
He couldn’t help thinking - what strange actions would Princess Yongmei make if she were next to him right now?
Shentu Tianyin walked through the doorway and kicked the door lightly, making it close with a soft click behind her.
“What’re you looking at?” Shentu Tianyin walked over to Xia Lei and drew close to look at the screen, then laughed. “So it’s that story the manager talked about. I’ve watched the movie. It’s heroic, sad and beautiful. I really didn’t expect to have Princess Sibylla’s necklace. I will make it a family heirloom and have it passed from generation to generation.”
Xia Lei laughed. “Who will you give it to if we have one boy and one girl?”
Shentu Tianyin thought for a bit. “To the son, of course. The daughter will be married off after all. It’s a family heirloom so it has to be passed on to the son.”
Xia Lei held her chin gently. “Then if we have two sons and a daughter, which son will you give it to?”
“Huh? You want three children?” Shentu Tianyin frowned. “I’m not giving birth to so many. It hurts to give birth.”
“But you haven’t given birth before so how would you know?”
“I’m a woman so I just know.” As she spoke, Shentu Tianyin bent and her softness pressed intimately against Xia Lei’s arm and a part of his shoulder.
This soft pressure was an obvious signal.
Xia Lei looked at her and saw only her. She seemed to have some sort of force which was drawing him closer, closer.
Shentu Tianyin did not move away. She closed her eyes and her lips moved closer and closer to Xia Lei. Their lips finally met and their tongues entwined like two fighting fish, tussling about in a pond to find out who the winner was.
There was no conversation but there were several vague sounds which came from Shentu Tianyin’s throat. She seemed to be in pain and in bliss at the same time.
An elderly man walked slowly towards the study in the corridor outside, carrying two steaming cups of tea in his hands.
The former heavyweight in the industry and head of Vientaine Group coming to deliver tea to his future son-in-law - only Xia Lei was blessed enough to have this treatment.
A soft cry came from behind the door before the happy old man got to it.
“N, No… You’re so naughty….” This was Shentu Tianyin’s voice and every syllable she uttered seemed to have been dipped in honey.
Shentu Ren froze in his tracks and paused before smiling wryly and shaking his head. He turned to leave. He did want to hold a grandchild soon but he didn’t want to hear it happen.
And something else was going on in the study.
Xia Lei’s loins were aflame but his fire was quickly doused.
Shentu Tianyin bit her lip, her face red. She looked at Xia Lei’s sneaky hand and her tear-filled eyes threatened to drown him.
“Uh…” Xia Lei coughed dryly. “How about we go watch the news?”
Shentu Tianyin suddenly bit Xia Lei’s ear and her voice was oh so hot. “You look like an upright man but you’re actually so naughty. I feel like I’ve jumped into a fire pit.”
Xia Lei stuck his hands into her armpits and tickled as he said laughingly, “Then I’ll let you taste the power of this fire pit!”
Shentu Tianyin pleaded loudly for mercy. “Ah! It tickles! It tickles! Be more gentle - my skin’s going to tear!”
Shentu Ren froze in the stairwell and the cups in his hand fell on his feet with a smack.
This battle of theirs - was it the tempo of the making of a pigeon pair?Previous Chapter Next Chapter
*For those who don’t know.. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/pigeon_pair