Back in Haizhu, the first person Xia Lei met was not Guan Lingshan, who managed Thunder Horse Manufacturing for him, but Jiang Ruyi.
The two of them walked along a walking path by the sea and did not speak for quite a stretch of path, just walking quietly.
This was fairly awkward and Xia Lei had things he wanted to say but didn’t know how to say them.
They walked on for a little more and Xia Lei stopped before a pavilion. “Ruyi, let’s sit down for a bit.”
“Nn.” Jiang Ruyi nodded lightly and did not say anything more. She sat on a bench with Xia Lei, then looked out in the distance at the sea, keeping her silence though her eyes were full of pain she could not hide.
She knew what Xia Lei had come to talk to her about. Xia Lei and Shentu Tianyin’s engagement was hot news and in this information age, big news like this was all over - there was no avoiding it.
‘How is he going to tell me?’ A bitter smile appeared in the corners of her mouth. ‘Do I still care how he will say it? What meaning does this hold?’
“Ruyi…” Xia Lei finally spoke, but he just called her name.
Jiang Ruyi took a deep breath and forced her face into a smile. “Just say what you want to say. You’ve always been pretty straightforward and you always have your opinions on things. Why are you beating about the bush today?”
Xia Lei was silence for a bit before he said, “I am getting married to Shentu Tianyin.”
Tears welled in Jiang Ruyi’s eyes but she still kept the smile on her face as she rushed to say, “Oh, congratulations to you. I… I knew you two would get together.”
“I’m sorry.” Xia Lei did not dare to look her in the eyes. His heart stung and he felt bad.
“Heh heh.” Jiang Ruyi faked a laugh. “Why say sorry to me? You didn’t do anything you need to feel sorry for. I’m just… just…”
She could not continue.
Xia Lei braced himself and said, “I know your feelings for me, but I…”
“I know. We are too close. You have no feelings for me.” Jiang Ruyi could not hold back her tears any longer and they rolled unchecked from her eyes. “I regret it so much now… If I hadn’t bullied you when we were kids, if I didn’t bathe naked with you in the river, you probably wouldn’t feel like we’re too close, huh?”
“Ruyi, I…” Xia Lei did not know how to respond.
“Forget it. It’s useless to talk about it now. You’re getting married to Shentu Tianyin. I give you my blessings.” Jiang Ruyi wiped her tears away. Her heart was shattered but she was still forcing herself to smile.
“Ruyi, you’ll definitely find a guy better than me,” said Xia Lei gently.
“Fuck you!” said Ruyi suddenly.
Xia Lei was shocked; he did not understand why Jiang Ruyi would react in this way.
Jiang Ruyi gave him a fierce punch. “I won’t find any fault with this if someone else said it but it’s a bit rich coming from you. A better man than you? Point one out to me - I’ll marry him right away.”
Xia Lei shook his head and smiled wryly.
“Shentu Tianyin is a lucky woman.” Jiang Ruyi’s voice was faint. “When are you getting married?”
“Our wedding is on the 29th of the twelfth lunar month, but her father wants us to get the paper certification in these few days. I came back to Haizhu this time mainly to take care of this matter.”
“Her father sure is anxious. He must be afraid that you’ll taken away by some other woman,” said Jiang Ruyi sourly.
Xia Lei laughed dryly. “Ruyi, you know I’m not that sort of man.”
“I like you because you’re a good man. And Shentu Tianyin wants to marry you because you’re a good man. It’s because you’re good that…” Jiang Ruyi choked and could not continue. She suddenly threw herself into Xia Lei’s arms and started wailing.
Xia Lei held her gently and patted her on the back. He wanted to comfort her but did not know how to.
Jiang Ruyi felt better after crying it out but she did not extricate herself from Xia Lei’s embrace. She leaned in to his ear, “I… will wait five more years for you.”
This was a terribly sad promise.
A woman’s most precious time to get married was that short period, and she had waited for him since the beginning of her girlhood. If she waited five more years for him… five years - she’d be a ‘leftover woman’! *
“Ruyi, there’s no need to do this to yourself, really. I…” This promise weighed too heavily on him and he could not bear the responsibility.
Jiang Ruyi looked tearily at Xia Lei, her gaze resolute. “This doesn’t concern you. I fell in love with you. Can I accept any other man than you for the rest of me life? I’m willing to wait. I’ll wait forever for you to be with me.”
“This is not fair to you, Ruyi. You…”
“You cannot apply fairness to love. If you pity me then come visit me when you're back in Haizhu. Come visit my Da. I’ll be satisfied with that,” said Jiang Ruyi.
What was this?
Xia Lei was at a loss.
“You’re getting married. You’re going to become another woman’s husband, but you are not her husband now. I’ve waited for you for so many years, you... “ Jiang Ruyi shut her eyes. “Can you kiss me?”
Xia Lei hesitated, but still moved close and kissed Jiang Ruyi’s lips in the end. Her red lips were tender and tasted of tears.
The instant Xia Lei’s lips touched hers, Jiang Ruyi froze and couldn’t move. However, she took the initiative a second later and parted Xia Lei’s lips with her little tongue to wrap her tongue around his. If this was going to be her only kiss with Xia Lei, then she was not going to be satisfied with a light kiss - she wanted a hot french kiss!
Jiang Ruyi released Xia Lei several minutes later, after her tongue got numb.
“Remember what I said. I’ll keep waiting for you. I love you!” Jiang Ruyi threw these words out before she turned and ran off.
A tear rolled off Jiang Ruyi’s cheek and floated in the wind to splash on Xia Lei’s cheek. This tear was like the placing of a curse, locking Xia Lei on that bench. He had been about to chase after Jiang Ruyi but he did not take the first step to do so.
What could he say if he caught up to her?
Would he give up on marrying Shentu Tianyin and be with Jiang Ruyi if he caught up to her?
Love was like this - sometimes sweet as honeyed wine, getting one drunk on it, sometimes a scar on one’s soul with no medicine to cure it.
Someone would get happiness and someone would get hurt no matter who he chose. This was a problem with no solution, and even the Gods couldn’t help him.
Jiang Ruyi disappeared from sight. Xia Lei still sat dumbly on the bench. He was still chewing over the words Jiang Ruyi had spoken into his ear - ‘You cannot apply fairness to love. If you pity me then come visit me when you're back in Haizhu. Come visit my Da. I’ll be satisfied with that’.
He then smiled wryly and shook his head. ‘Is she hinting to me that I can still be with her even though I’m married to Shentu Tianyin? This hint, I…’
This seemed like a simple request from her, and he just needed to take that first step but the problem was that step - wouldn’t he be having an affair if he had a relationship with Jiang Ruyi while married to Shentu Tianyin?
A decision like this needed courage and wisdom.
‘Forget it. I’ll think about this another time.’ Mulling over it brought him headaches and no solution so Xia Lei gave up. He stood and left the pavilion to go home and check things out.
No one lived in that home anymore but it still held many things for him; a truly meaningful place to return to.
He drove home and found that nothing had changed.
Xia Lei took off his jacket and clean up the place.
While he was cleaning his bedroom, he discovered a piece of chewed chewing gum which had fallen to the floor. He paused when he saw the chewing gum, then smiled. ‘This again? I’ll have to have a talk with Yelena next time. She’s passing on a message but it needs to be hygienic too.’
He pulled the chewing gum apart and sure enough, there was a paper note hidden inside.
Xia Changhe’s handwriting was on that paper and he wrote: I got info that Ahn Suhyeong contacted two groups of killers. Don’t know who took the job yet but the people coming are no ordinary killers. Be careful. I’m going to Korea for a bit. Don’t read aloud.
Xia Lei crumpled the paper into a ball and his eyes were terrifyingly cold. ‘Ahn Suhyeong. You hired hitmen to kill me in Moscow, and you worked with Gu Kewen to kidnap my fiancee in Jingdu. I haven’t settled the score with you for these two offences yet, and you’re hiring killers to go after me now? Fine. If you want me to die so badly I won’t let you live either.’
Some grudges could only be buried in death.
Ring ring ring, ring ring ring…
His mobile phone rang all of a sudden.
Xia Lei looked at his phone display and took a deep breath to quell the anger in his heart before he picked up. His voice was gentle. “What is it, Tianyin?”
“Where are you and what are you doing?”
“I’m at home cleaning up.”
“Hm, you sure are diligent. Want me to help?” said Shentu Tianyin with a laugh.
“Heh heh, you should have asked earlier. I’m almost done.”
“Hee hee.” Shentu Tianyin laughed too. “Then come over to my place. We’re getting married so the family wants to see you and have a family meal with you.”
“Nn, okay. I’ll be right over,” said Xia Lei.
“I’ll be waiting for you at home,” said Shentu Tianyin, “Oh, right, I’ve contacted Ahn Geungan.”
Xia Lei’s heart thumped. “What did he say?”
“He’s being stubborn and refuses to budge. He even mentioned you. He said you…”
“What did he say about me?”
“He said you’re a thief, that you stole his Sword of Attila. He wants you to return the sword if negotiation is to happen,” said Shentu Tianyin.
“Is this the condition he set?” said Xia Lei.
“Yes, but you don’t have to bother about him. There isn’t much he can hold over my head as a bargaining chip. I can take him on,” said Shentu Tianyin.
“When are you negotiating?” said Xia Lei.
“Tomorrow. I’ve arranged for it to take place at Distinguished Gathering.”
Xia Lei was silent for a bit. “I’ll come over right now and we’ll discuss tomorrow’s event.”
“Mm, I’ll be waiting at home for you… Kiss me,” said Shentu Tianyin.
Xia Lei kissed his phone, then hung up.
The paper burned in the paper basket and quickly turned to ash.
“Ahn Geungan, you’re up against us Xias and the Xia family is not one to be bullied!” Xia Lei’s voice was like ice.
The two men of the Xia family were him and his father. One was an ace old agent of the FA, and the other was the ace of Bureau 101!
If anyone on this Earth wanted a life of one of the Xia family, he must first put his own life on the gambling table!Previous Chapter Next Chapter
*Leftover woman - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheng_nu