Rays of sunshine came shining in through the window, lighting up the room. Xia Lei woke slowly. Shentu Tianyin was not by his side but her scent lingered in the folds of the bedcovers. This fragrance was like a rope, dragging him back to last night and making him recall the pleasures he had. He could not help the smile in the corners of his mouth. His smile froze - backache and weak legs hit him.
Women were fields and men oxen. This ox had still been raring to go after plowing the field once, but plowing twice, then thrice… It was impressive enough that the ox did not collapse.
Xia Lei stopped daydreaming and spotted a brand new suit on the bedside table. There was a shirt and underwear too, and a pair of new shoes under the bedside table. Even the socks had been prepared; they sat neatly in the leather shoes.
What a thoughtful woman. Xia Lei couldn’t help smiling again. He was full of bliss and contentment. Wasn’t this the life he’d wanted? A warm home and a woman he loved. All of these belonged to him now.
Xia Lei put on the shoes and clothing and walked out the door just in time to bump into Shentu Ren, coming out from another room.
Shentu Ren paused when he saw Xia Lei come out of Shentu Tianyin’s room but quickly recovered. A smile appeared on his face and he greeted Xia Lei first. “Ahem. You’re awake.”
“Yes… Father. You’re awake too.” Xia Lei was so embarrassed.
The first words the two men exchanged in the morning were very awkward. If he wasn’t awake, then was he still in bed?
Just then, Shentu Tianyin poked her head out of the stairwell. “Father, Lei, come have breakfast. I’ve specially made congee and some side dishes. Come eat.”
“Eat. Let’s go eat.” Shentu Ren was very evidently relieved to escape the awkwardness.
As a father, the feeling when seeing the daughter he had painstakingly raised become a man’s woman was painful and complicated but this was something every father of a daughter had to experience. And handing Shentu Tianyin to Xia Lei was something Shentu Ren was willing to do. The pain of losing his daughter soon faded, replaced by relief.
What else could compare with the joy of his daughter finding a good husband?
One table, one elderly and two young, three bowls of congee, two dishes - it was simple but full of a family’s warmth.
“I’ll get Fu to accompany me to the Shaolin Temple for the Master to pick an auspicious date,” said Shentu Ren jovially.
“Father.” Shentu Tianyin rolled her eyes at Shentu Ren but she could not hide the smile in the corners of her mouth.
Shentu Ren ignored her. He looked at Xia Lei and said tentatively, “Lei, what do you think?”
Xia Lei hurriedly replied, “I have no objections. I’ll go with anything Father arranges.”
“Heh heh, good, good.” Shentu Ren was overjoyed.
Shentu Tianyin elbowed Xia Lei with a look of discontent. “You and Father are joining forces to bully me.”
“You’re smiling and saying we’re bullying you? You can’t wait to get married, eh?” Shentu Ren teased his daughter.
“Father!” Shentu Tianyin turned red.
She was the cold and noble Vientaine Group queen outside but at home, she was a warm and thoughtful woman. She was a woman of many sides. Xia Lei would see all her sides when they were husband and wife, and every one of her sides was precious.
After breakfast, Xia Lei sent Shentu Tianyin to Angel Wings Building. He was moving to get out of his car when he saw an off-road vehicle with military plates, as well as Long Bing in its driver’s seat.
Shentu Tianyin saw the vehicle too, and Long Bing. A wrinkle of worry appeared between her brows.
“I was going to help to pick some bodyguards but Long Bing is here. I’m afraid I’ll have to do it next time,” said Xia Lei softly.
“It’s all right. There’s no real need to pick any. Do you still remember the four men Uncle Fu hired some time ago? I plan to ask Uncle Fu to employ them again. They will protect me,” said Shentu Tianyin.
Xia Lei remembered those four, of course. They were seasoned mercenaries in South East Asia, loyal, and were not afraid of death. He relaxed a little when he heard Shentu Tianyin talk about them. “Yep, I remember. Pak Taiji, Pak Canlie, Jin Zhenhuan, Jin Dahu. They’re good. I’ll feel assured with them protecting you. But you still have to be careful, even with those four protecting you. Contact me right away if anything happens. I can get someone to go over to protect you if I cannot go myself.”
“Nn, I’ll be careful.” Shentu Tianyin alighted.
Xia Lei alighted too and accompanied her to the lobby of Angel Wings Building.
Long Bing did not get out of her vehicle. She watched Shentu Tianyin and Xia Lei from the window.
Shentu Tianyin suddenly stopped in her tracks in the front hall and reached out to put her arms around Xia Lei’s waist. She kissed him on the lips. Her movements were familiar, natural, and had an indescribable beauty to them.
This kiss stunned the employees of Vientaine Group coming in to work. Shentu Tianyin was a mobile iceberg, as frosty as can be to them. But a woman like this was actually kissing a man passionately in front of so many people. They knew that this man was her fiance, but this was way out of character for their queen!
An entire minute later, Shentu Tianyin released Xia Lei and said gently, “Be careful, whatever you’re doing.”
Xia Lei nodded. “Nn.”
Shentu Tianyin turned and glanced purposefully at Long Bing, sitting in the vehicle. The kiss earlier had been for Long Bing to see - He’s mine!
Long Bing smiled wryly and looked away from Shentu Tianyin’s possessive gaze.
Xia Lei walked over to her window. “You could just call if you needed something, no need to come personally.”
“I was going from my place to the headquarters when Boss Shi told me to take you with me. I presumed that you would surely bring Shentu Tianyin to her company to I came here to wait for you. I actually arrived only a few minutes before you came,” said Long Bing.
“What else did Boss Shi say?” asked Xia Lei.
“Let’s go. You’ll know when we get to headquarters, right?” Long Bing glanced over in the direction of Angel Wings Building and let out a laugh. “What, in the sticky newly-wed phase and can’t bear to leave?”
“Ahem. I’ll get my car.” Xia Lei did not want to talk about these personal matters and walked off.
Long Bing let out a small sigh and started her engine.
Bureau 101, underground offices.
Shi Boren handed a cup to tea to Ling Han and his tone was polite too. “Mr Ling, you could just give me a call. There’s no need to pay a personal visit. Is this about what happened last night?”
Ling Han took a sip of tea. “Director Shi, I have indeed come today about last night’s incident. Has Xia Lei handed in the report?”
Shi Boren wrinkled his brows. “That boy. I instructed him to write it last night but he went to spend the night at Shentu Tianyin’s place. AH, femme fatales and youthful mistakes. I’m guessing that boy didn’t write a single word.”
“Director Shi, this is a fairly special matter and there will be big trouble if this is not handled well. The higher-ups have instructed me to read this report personally. What time will he be here?”
“Soon, I think,” said Shi Boren. “I’ve tasked Long Bing to bring him here.”
Ling Han smiled wryly. “This punk. I do admit that he has contributed greatly to our nation and has outstanding merits. But he definitely is a walking magnet for trouble. He went to Russia and gunmen came after him. He just got engaged to Shentu Tianyin and someone kidnapped her.” After a pause, he added, “What are your views, Director Shi?”
“My views?” Shi Boren paused, then said tentatively, “My views on what, Mr Ling?”
“All right, I’ll be frank. I’m talking about what happened last night.”
Shi Boren thought for a bit and said, “Then I’ll just say what I think. I think the Americans know what we are researching and they can’t sit still anymore. Think about it - once we solve the mystery of the ancient alloy, our materials technology will be the leading technology in the world. What would follow is innovation in engines, upgrades in aviation and ship building. What would America have to stop our growth once they lose their upper hand in military power? This is what I think. It must be related to the ancient alloy.”
Ling Han was silent for a spell. “I think that way too, but… I still think there’s something else. Xia Lei. This person… I can’t seem to figure him out.”
“What are you getting at, Mr Ling?”
“Nothing.” Ling Han was bothered by something but he was not willing to talk about it.
“Mr Ling, I know you’re the one who’s been watching Xia Lei in secret. I do not object to your actions since you are within your rights to do so but I also think that there is no need to do so. Xia Lei may have some secret but which one of us has no secrets? What I value is his character and the contributions he has made to this country. Would you find anything that could harm the nation if you looked through all his past deeds? No, not one.”
Ling Han chucked. “Okay, okay, Director Shi. You’re starting to sing his praises again. I have no bad intention in observing him. It is all business, so don’t get anxious.”
A knock came from the office door in the middle of their conversation.
“Let’s leave our conversation here,” said Ling Han.
Shi Boren nodded and raised his voice. “Enter.”
Long Bing opened the door and led Xia Lei in.
“Boss Shi, Mr Ling.” Xia Lei greeted them with a smile.
Shi Boren had an unhappy expression on his face. “I told you to write a report. Have you written it?”
“Ah… I forgot. I’ll write it right now.” Xia Lei didn’t actually forget. It was just that last night had been such a pleasurable night… What report?
Shi Boren glared at Xia Lei. “Boy, lots of heroes and great people in the past died under the skirts of a woman. Xiang Yu was one of them. Do you want to be another one?”
What sort of comparison was this?
Xia Lei was speechless.
“Ahem.” Long Bing coughed to show that there was a female present.
Shi Boren glared. “What are you still doing here? Go, take Xia Lei to write his report.”
“Yes.” Long Bing prodded Xia Lei. “Go write it in my office.”
“Okay, to your office,” said Xia Lei.
“I’ll get someone to prepare an office space for you later. You are Bureau 101’s ace consultant so how can you be without your own office? Oh, right, do you want a secretary? How about it get two young and pretty secretaries?”
“Pfft….” Xia Lei bit his lower lip to keep from laughing.
Shi Boren was not treating him like a hero like Xiang Yu. He was treating him like Ximen Qing, wasn’t he?Previous Chapter Next Chapter