The rays of dawn chased away the last bits of darkness. Waves lapped against the rocks by the sea, sending up a swooshing sound. There was a forest close to the sea, and a white mist hung in it. This mist made everything in the forest a haze, made it mysterious.
The three lifebuoys got close to the shore, and Xia Lei and Long Bing walked out of the water, dragging the unconscious Gu Kewu ashore after them.
Gu Kewu was unlucky indeed. He had been knocked unconscious three times by Long Bing so far on this trip to Japan. This last knockout was the worst, however, and the swelling from the hit on his head had not gone down.
“It’s cold.” Long Bing shivered, and her voice shook a little. “This damned weather. We should’ve just come through our own channels. The Russians are unreliable, and the Japanese too.”
“And they took USD 500,000 for this service too. It’s a horrible deal.” Xia Lei was unhappy too.
Long Bing looked about. “There’s a forest there. Let’s go gather some firewood and make a fire. We have to dry our wet clothes or we’ll get sick.”
“Okay.” Xia Lei lifted Gu Kewu from where he laid on the lifebuoys.
Long Bing had hit Gu Kewu very hard and he was still unconscious. It wasn’t just that – he was also pale, and his breathing weak. Xia Lei and Long Bing were not sick, but he was. Gu Kewu had suffered a series of scares and several blows to the head on top of being soaked in seawater for almost two hours. Even a professional agent like Long Bing was feeling the strain, so this pampered man-boy was feeling very much worse.
There was no one living close to this stretch of beach, and no fishing village in sight. Xia Lei and Long Bing crossed the beach and entered the forest. Xia Lei put Gu Kewu on the ground and went looking for some dry twigs and leaves, then started a fire on a patch of bare ground in the forest.
Gu Kewu was moved to a spot by the fire, and the flames dried the moisture off his body, bringing warmth. He was still unconscious but his face had regained some colour.
Long Bing removed her jacket and squatted next to the fire to dry her clothes. Moisture evaporated from her jacket, steaming up, and from her underwear too. She seemed to be shrouded in a fine mist.
Xia Lei’s left eye twitched for some reason, out of his control. He had never used his X-ray vision on Long Bing before, but he could not stop himself now. He looked away, and a wry smile appeared on his lips. ‘Why is my love life so complicated? I thought it would all be settled if I got married, but it’s still a mess. What a headache.’
A man could play around before he got married, no problem, but he had to be a responsible husband after he got married. He did not want to entangled with other women but it was just wishful thinking. First was Jiang Ruyi, and now it was Long Bing.
Jiang Ruyi was his childhood friend and she’d waited for him for over 20 years – how could he just reject her?
He had met Long Bing in Macau, and saved her life upon their meeting. He had acted again in Ahn Suhyeong’s basement-trap, saving her life, and then there was Jerusalem… Her feelings for him had been born out of a hail of bullets, at the cusp of life and death. Could he reject these feelings?
He could not refuse or reject, and these feelings could not be made clear… so just let things play out naturally.
That was Xia Lei’s train of thought. He could not find any way to solve his love problems other than to just let it be.
“Hey, take your clothes off and dry them close to the fire. They’ll dry faster,” said Long Bing.
Xia Lei snapped back to his senses. He removed his clothing and squatted by the fire to dry his clothes.
Long Bing’s gaze went to Xia Lei’s body and a blush she was not aware of appeared on her cheeks.
Xia Lei subconsciously lowered the wet clothing in his hands to cover the spot between his legs.
Long Bing wrinkled her brows. “What are you covering up for when you’re a man? Are you embarrassed? Look at me – you can look all you want. I won’t cover up.”
Xia Lei laughed awkwardly. “I didn’t cover up. I just want my clothes to dry more quickly. We’re on the battlefield now, so I’m not going to be paying attention to modesty. It’s no problem to strip naked to dry my clothes if there’s a need for it.”
“Oh, really? Then strip and dry your clothes. I’ll do it if you do it.”
Xia Lei was speechless.
It was difficult to imagine this. Two elite agents of Bureau 101, sneaking onto an island in Hokkaido and stripped naked to dry their clothes in a forest!
Long Bing’s suggestion was tempting but Xia Lei did not act on it. He moved slowly, pulling his backpack over and taking out the satellite phone in it. He dialled the number Gu Kewen had used to call him.
He was contacting Gu Kewen now not to resolve the grievances between himself and Gu Kewen quickly, but to distract himself and Long Bing.
If they stripped naked, they were sure to do something else other than drying their clothes.
Gu Kewen picked up quickly, and her voice came from the satellite phone. “You finally called. Where are you?”
“I’m in Japan. Where are you?” said Xia Lei.
“I’m in Hokkaido. Come to Hokkaido. We’ll meet here,” said Xia Lei.
“Tokyo. We meet in Tokyo, no discussion,” said Gu Kewen. “And I want to hear my brother’s voice.”
“Your brother…” Xia Lei glanced at the unconscious Gu Kewu and felt a little guilty.
“You didn’t bring my brother? Xia Lei! You lied to me!” said Gu Kewen angrily. “Think of the consequences of your actions!”
“I brought your brother, but he’s sleeping now.”
“I don’t believe you! Just you wait – Shentu Tianyin will be sentenced in court!”
Long Bing abruptly put down the clothing in her hands and picked up a burning branch. She pressed it to the back of Gu Kewu’s hand.
“Aarghh–” Gu Kewu awoke with a scream of pain.
Long Bing moved the burning branch away. Gu Kewu’s hand had become a burnt mess, and it was smoking. The smell of burnt flesh hung in the air.
“Brother! Brother!” cried Gu Kewen in shock and anger. “What did you do to my brother?!”
“Nothing. He probably had a nightmare and was scared awake,” said Xia Lei.
“I want to speak to my brother! Don’t you lie to me!” said Gu Kewen.
Xia Lei brought the satellite phone over to Gu Kewu and looked at him coldly. “Your sister wants to talk to you. You know what you should say, don’t you?”
Gu Kewu glared hatefully at Xia Lei, then at Long Bing. He moved close to the satellite phone and said, “Kewen, it’s me. It’s your big brother.”
“Brother…” Gu Kewen’s voice softened. “What did they do to you? Did they injure you?”
Gu Kewu looked at Long Bing again. Her eyes were cold, and a hunting knife gleamed in her hand. Gu Kewu lost his nerve at the sight of those eyes, and that knife, and he said, “No. They’re treating me well.”
“Don’t be afraid, Brother. I’ve arranged everything. We Gu siblings will be able to be reunited soon,” said Gu Kewen.
Gu Kewu warned, “Kewen, you have to be careful…”
Xia Lei took the phone away before Gu Kewu could finish and said, “Gu Kewen, you believe me now? Your brother is next to me. Come to Hokkaido and we’ll complete the exchange. You take your brother with you, and I take what I want with me.”
“Tokyo.” Gu Kewen was stubborn. “Give me a call when you get to Tokyo. I’ll organise the time and place for us to meet.”
“Your brother is in my hands. You stand to lose much more than I, and you still dare to talk to me this way? Aren’t you afraid that I’ll kill your brother?”
Gu Kewen sneered, “Xia Lei, do you think we Gu siblings still stand to lose anything? We have fallen to where we are today because of you! Go on, kill my brother if you dare. See how I’ll get my revenge.”
Ice flashed in Xia Lei’s eyes. He knew how much of a venomous snake this woman was. If he didn’t kill her this time, she would not stop until she had her revenge.
“Oh, and don’t think I’m unaware of what you’re thinking. If I go to a remote place in Hokkaido, you’ll just kill me and my brother once you get what you want. Getting rid of potential problems, huh? I’m not as foolish as you think I am. Let’s stop wasting saliva talking. I’ll give you 24 hours. Come to Tokyo immediately.” Gu Kewen hung up as soon as she was done talking.
Long Bing was quiet for a bit, then she said, “Tokyo. She keeps insisting on meeting you in Tokyo. I worry that she has a trap set for you there. It’s better if you don’t go. We kill this guy, then leave Japan.”
“What?” Gu Kewu anxious. “You can’t do this! I didn’t do anything! You were the ones who took me out of prison. You… You guys put me back in! I’d rather be in prison!”
Xia Lei suddenly swept a kick at Gu Kewu’s head. Gu Kewu grunted, and crashed to the ground like a felled tree.
“We go to Tokyo.” Xia Lei’s gaze was determined. “This is our best opportunity to kill Gu Kewen. I have to settle this.”
“Since you’re decided, then I’ll go with you. Come hell or high water, we’ll face it together,” said Long Bing.Previous Chapter Next Chapter