Xia Lei and Shentu Tianyin’s wedding was, without doubt, the most grand and luxurious wedding of this modern time, and the only one like it. Spending a billion at this wedding was a small matter, and the guests in attendance were not those who could be bought with money. A simple way to put it was that a wealthy man could arrange for a wedding of similar cost for his child, but he would not be able to have princes and ambassadors come to the wedding, much less the VIPs of China.
The bride’s side of the venue had been throwing cold words about, mocking and speaking sarcastically, but these conversations were different now.
“Oh my goodness, how influential is this Xia Lei? He actually got an Arab prince to come, and the ambassadors of several countries too. We were already so proud when the mayor attended our son’s wedding,” said a guest.
“Who cares about the Arab prince and the ambassadors. Did you see those military men? Those are the real bigwigs. The ground shakes beneath their feet when they move!” said a guest.
“Ah, how laughable. We were just saying how he had no status to his name, and no decent close friends… but his close friends came, and they’re such shocking friends too!”
“I’d thought that the groom was basking in the bride spotlight, but it was actually the other way around.”
“Not exactly. Shentu Tianyin has money, but what does Xia Lei have? He has ability, and connections. He will far outstrip Shentu Tianyin one day in his net worth with his ability and connections.”
“Yeah, that’s right. Who said that Xia Lei was not a match for Shentu Tianyin earlier?”
“What are you looking at me for? I didn’t say that. Shentu Tianyin is a smart woman, so her assessment of men can’t be bad. Let’s you and me not make any more wild guesses.”
These guests and their conversations were like a wind blowing past a wall, and the grass on the wall bending in the other direction.
And so the wedding began in the midst of all these whispers.
Xia Lei and Shentu Tianyin were going to have two ceremonies. One was Shentu Tianyin’s request, a Western ceremony presided over by a priest. After this ceremony was a Chinese ceremony, where the bride and groom would kneel in a ritual ceremony. This was the ceremony Xia Lei requested. He was a deep-set traditional man, and wanted a traditional wedding even though the current modern trend was to have a Western ceremony.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” said the priest, “please take your seats. The wedding ceremony is about to begin.”
The guests quieted down.
The wedding march played. The gentle, romantic music weaved through the air, bringing joy to everyone present.
The priest raised his voice. “Good day, everyone. We are gathered here today to celebrate the wedding of this man and this woman.” He looked at Xia Lei and Shentu Tianyin. “Do either of you oppose this union?” He then looked at the guests. “Is there anyone here who opposes this union?”
As the priest went about the usual words, Ren Wenqiang, who was sitting further down from the stage, had a sudden urge to shout ‘I oppose!’. But what would he do afterwards, after he had done his mischief? Shentu Tianyin and Xia Lei would not let him off. Shentu Tianyin’s revenge would perhaps be not as bad as Xia Lei’s, but he dared not imagine how terrible Xia Lei’s revenge would be.
The priest turned to Xia Lei. “Xia Lei, do you take Shentu Tianyin as your lawfully wedded wife?”
Xia Lei nodded. “I do.”
The priest spoke again. “Xia Lei, do you swear to be with your wife, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health?”
“I do,” said Xia Lei.
The priest turned to Shentu Tianyin. “Shentu Tianyin, do you take Xia Lei as your lawfully wedded husband?”
“I do,” said Shentu Tianyin.
The priest continued, “Shentu Tianyin, do you swear to be with your husband, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health?”
Shentu Tianyin nodded, and her voice was full of warmth. “I do.”
“Now, please place your wedding rings on The Holy Bible,” said the priest.
Shentu Tianyin and Xia Lei placed their wedding rings on the Bible in the priest’s hands.
The priest smiled. “Please put your ring on your partner.”
Xia Lei slid the ring onto Shentu Tianyin’s finger, and she put the ring on his finger. It was like their hearts had linked in that moment.
“I now pronounce you lawfully-wedded husband and wife. May the groom please kiss the bride,” said the priest.
Xia Lei lifted Shentu Tianyin’s veil, and took her into his arms before he kissed her cherry lips.
Shentu Tianyin shut her eyes. Her heart was bursting with shyness, sweetness, and warmth. All her happy emotions burst out in that moment, making her the happiest woman on Earth.
And in that instant, images of the past flashed in Xia Lei’s mind. He saw himself hauling bricks on the construction site, sweat staining his back. Not one fingernail of his was kempt. He saw himself as an apprentice in the processing plant, learning the ropes of welding and getting scolded harshly by his mentor. He saw himself with tears in his eyes, ripping up the university acceptance letter so that Xia Xue could keep schooling. He saw himself fighting against the American Special Forces and the CIA in Afghanistan, weathering a rain of bullets and shivering…
These were all of his past experiences, and they all felt like they had happened yesterday. All these experiences churned in his heart.
Life was like a play, and like a play, it had its ups and downs.
Who would have thought? People used to roll their eyes at him, the lowly construction worker who exchanged his blood and sweat for the sake of his sister’s education. Who would have thought that he would be where he was now?
And how would Xia Lei know to cherish what he had achieved today, if he had not gone through that hardship?
The Heavens made one suffer as a test of your mettle. One cannot achieve glory and wealth without having been through trials and tribulations.
In the groom’s guest area, Tang Yuyan looked at Xia Lei kissing Shentu Tianyin, and a sourness spread in her heart. She didn’t like this sourness. She nudged Long Bing’s arm. “Bing, how would you feel if you were the one he’s kissing?”
Long Bing gave Tang Yuyan a look. “I’d advise you to give up, Tang Yuyan. The man’s married. Don’t cause him trouble.”
“Wow, how moral of you.” Tang Yuyan rolled her eyes at Long Bing, then drew close to her ear and whispered, “You had an affair with Xia Lei, and cuckolded Shentu Tianyin. You’re advising me to give up now? Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?”
“Xia Lei and I are just friends.” Long Bing spoke in Tang Yuyan’s ear too. “Don’t you dare try to threaten me with your ‘evidence’. Right as we speak, I’m having my men seize the thing from the laboratory and burn it. The lab results have been changed too. If you want to threaten me, or ruin Xia Lei and Shentu Tianyin’s wedding, you’ll have to have substantial evidence, or find some way to get a strand from Xia Lei himself.”
Tang Yuyan was speechless.
“You ask for too much, Tang Yuyan. He can’t give it all to you. Really.”
“So what are you asking from him?”
Long Bing’s lips moved, and she was about to say something, but her gaze went to a corner in the groom’s guest area, and stopped on an elderly face.
“Why’s he here?”
“Why’s who here?” asked Tang Yuyan curiously. She was about to look at where Long Bing was looking when Long Bing looked away.
The wedding went on to the next part at that moment.
An MC in traditional clothing spoke blessings loudly into the microphone, and Xia Lei and Shentu Tianyin returned to the view of the guests. They had changed into traditional wedding attire. Four traditional imperial-style chairs were placed under the wall of gold bricks, and Shentu Ren was seated in the leftmost chair, waiting for the ceremony to proceed.
“Groom and Bride, your first bow to Heaven and Earth!” cried the MC.
Xia Lei and Shentu Tianyin knelt and bowed to the Heaven and the Earth. They kowtowed once, twice, thrice.
“Groom and Bride, your first bow to your parents!” cried the MC.
Xia Lei and Shentu Tianyin went before Shentu Ren and got ready to kneel and bow.
Everyone was looking at Xia Lei. People were already whispering and wondering why Xia Lei’s parents had not come to participate in this wedding.
If Xia Lei had any regrets about his wedding, it would be that his father was unable to come to his wedding, and that he had no parents to kowtow to.
But right at that moment, and elderly voice suddenly called out, “Wait.”
“This voice…” Xia Lei turned around abruptly. He stared blankly when he saw who had spoken.
The person approaching was none other than his Master, Liang Zhengchun. Liang Siyao’s father.
Liang Zhengchun had gone to America too, after Liang Siyao’s identity was revealed. And now he was back, and in this situation too. Xia Lei did not know why Liang Zhengchun had turned up here, but he couldn’t help thinking of his first woman when he saw him. Liang Siyao. His Siyao.
He had loved her wholeheartedly. There was no way he could put her out of his mind like she was an insignificant thing.
“He’s…” Of course Shentu Tianyin knew who Xia Lei’s first woman was. She also knew who Xia Lei’s Master was. Suspicion flared in her heart at the sight of Liang Zhengchun approaching, and she looked at Xia Lei. “What is he doing here, my husband?”
Xia Lei smiled wryly. “I don’t know either.”
Liang Zhengchun soon got close, and he had a smile on his face.
Xia Lei welcomed him. “Master, why…” He wanted to ask why he had come, but it was not very appropriate to say such a thing in front of so many people. A Master was like a father, and he, as disciple, had not sent him an invitation. There was sure to be a lot of negative things said about this fact, so Xia Lei could not ask this question even though he really wanted to know the answer.
Liang Zhengchun patted Xia Lei on the shoulder. “Lei, today’s your big day. Your parents are not around anymore, so I shall represent your parents in this ceremony. Your days ahead would not be smooth-sailing if this ceremony is not complete. I think this Master of yours can hold up to this role.”
“Of course,” said Xia Lei hurriedly. “Please, take your position, Master.”
Liang Zhengchun took his seat. Whether it was sitting or standing, every move of his was that of a martial arts master.
Shentu Tianyin was not entirely happy with it, of course, since this was Liang Siyao’s father, but Xia Lei had agreed to it, so she could not say more on the matter.
The MC cried, “Bow to your parents. First kowtow… Second kowtow… Third kotow… Offer the tea!”
Xia Lei proffered the tea to Liang Zhengchun with both hands. Liang Zhengchun took a sip, and took out two red envelopes. He handed one to Xia Lei, and one to Shentu Tianyin.
Xia Lei paused for a millisecond when he took the red envelope. The red envelope was too light. He used his X-ray vision, and discovered that the red envelope contained not money, but a message.Previous Chapter Next Chapter