Bang bang bang! A series of gunshots broke through the silence of the forest. In the middle of the snowy field, an Eastern woman ran across the snow with an AK47 in her hands. The bullets zipped from behind her and hit the tree beside her. Tree bark flew and the accumulated snow came pattering down. Some snow hit her neck, bringing bitter cold, but she felt none of it.
“Faster! Faster! Faster!” A tall, mixed-raced woman hollered while shooting at the running woman with a handgun. She was also running, but compared to the woman in front of her, she was running with ease through the snow-covered forest.
The Eastern woman in front was like a weak little rabbit, and the mixed race woman was like a rampaging wolf. She could rip the Eastern woman apart anytime if she so wished.
The Eastern woman was Gu Kewen, and the woman on her tail was Dark Mona of the FA Organization.
“I can’t... I can’t run anymore…” Gu Kewen was on the verge of collapse. After some distance, she lacked the strength to move her legs, much less run.
“Would your enemies let you rest on the battlefield? Faster!” Dark Mona roared at Gu Kewen. She swung her arm and shot a tree next to Gu Kewen.
The bullet grazed past Gu Kewen’s cheek and hit the tree trunk. Gu Kewen fell to the ground, terrified.
Bang bang bang!
Bullets hit the snowy ground next to Gu Kewen.
“Get up! Quick!” hollered Dark Mona.
Gu Kewen ground her teeth and stumbled forward...
Darkness fell and the stinging cold wind shook the forest. The temperature dropped to 40 degrees below zero and survival became extremely difficult. This was truly a wild land that only the strong could survive in.
Gu Kewen used to be the young lady of a wealthy family. She had been pampered and had someone to do things for her, no matter how big or small the matter. All she needed to do was to enjoy life. But now, she was undergoing the devil-training of Dark Mona in order to complete her life’s transformation.
This was all because of one man — Xia Lei.
No matter how difficult it was, she only had to think of this name for her willpower to strengthen.
Gu Kewen crossed the forest an hour later. In front of her was a lake with a name she could not pronounce. The lake had been frozen solid, and was covered in snow. Across the lake was a small cabin, the end point of this training.
Maybe it was because the wooden cabin was in sight, but Gu Kewen finally relaxed after being tense the whole time. Once she relaxed, however, her body felt as if it had been hollowed out and she dropped to the ground. She struggled to climb to her feet, but she fell back hard on the ground before she could push herself up.
Dark Mona walked up from behind her and drew her modified handgun from her waist. She shot at Gu Kewen's left and right side without a word.
The ice covering the lake was shattered and cracks appeared below Gu Kewen. Her body weight put pressure on the ice, and caused the cracks to widen quickly. The ice could break apart at any time. Once it did, she would fall into the freezing lake. At a temperature of 40 degrees below zero, she would die in under a minute.
"You have one minute. Live or die — you decide. No one can help you," said Dark Mona. She walked past Gu Kewen and went towards the wooden cabin.
The threat of death loomed and Gu Kewen's breathing grew panicked.
Pieces of ice sank slowly. The water had reached Gu Kewen's shoes.
“Xia Lei—” screamed Gu Kewen. A strength came from nowhere, and she crawled up from the ice. She kept running forward, and charged into the cabin.
The training was over. A smile appeared in the corners of Dark Mona’s mouth.
A pile of firewood burned in the fireplace, and the blazing heat dispelled the cold.
Gu Kewen curled next to the fireplace like a wounded little dog. Her hands and feet hurt like hell and they were covered with bloody blisters. Her tears flowed non-stop as she thought about her old life. She had had the best clothes, the best food, and the people around her circled her like the stars around the moon. Nobody dared to go against her wishes. And now? She was scrabbling to live, just like a dog!
Dark Mona brought a chair over and sat next to the fireplace. She asked coldly, “You think this gruelling?”
Gu Kewen nodded.
“If you want to end it, I can make it fast for you. Don’t worry, it will be painless.” Dark Mona’s voice was very cold.
“No, don’t!” Gu Kewn stared tearfully at Dark Mona. “The Gu Kewen from past died in Japan. I’m a different person now. I want my revenge. I’m not afraid to suffer. I want to become someone strong like you!”
“That’s right. No one is born strong in this world. I started from how you are right now. There was no one to help me back then, but I persevered.”
“I can persevere too.”
Dark Mona opened a special portable laptop. Her fingers flew across the keyboard and images soon appeared on the screen.
It was Xia Lei and Shentu Tianyin's wedding.
On the screen, Xia Lei and Shentu Tianyin exchanged rings at the instruction of priest. Then Xia Lei kissed Shentu Tianyin...
Hate flashed in Gu Kewen's eyes. She clenched her fists. The wounds on her palms stimulated her nerves, but her excitement grew with the pain.
"Your plan is going pretty well. This is also the reason why I agreed to train you. You're a very intelligent woman, and you will have a promising future if you work for me," said Dark Mona.
"Xia Lei wouldn't let the Germans take Annina away. He would definitely make a deal with the Germans. I know him well. I'm not sure what kind of deal he would make with them, but I am sure that there's a 60 percent chance that he'll be going to Germany."
Dark Mona smiled coldly. “And that will be the end of his life if he goes.”
“I want to kill him myself.” The look in Gu Kewen’s eyes was frightening.
But Dark Mona shook her head. “You won’t be going to Germany even if Xia Lei is going."
“You’re going to undergo training here, then go to the CIA. It is at the CIA where you will show your talent and value. I’ll take care of Xia Lei. His fate can only be decided by the FA Organization. You can’t, and I can’t either.”
Gu Kewen parted her lips as if to say more, but she swallowed her words when she saw Dark Mona’s cold expression.
“Tell me about Shentu Tianyin. How much do you know about that woman?”
“You want to kill Shentu Tianyin?”
“That was not my question.”
“All right. Shentu Tianyin is a very clever and greedy woman. Her marrying Xia Lei is the same as adding to her power…”
The snow silently outside the window. A Siberian wolf came out from the forest and looked at the light of the fire in the cabin before it turned and disappeared in the snowy night.
Meanwhile, in Jingdu.
The atmosphere at Leiyin Home was bright and joyful.
Fu Mingmei shot fireworks up into the sky in celebration of the coming of a new year. Each firework bloomed in the night sky, bright and dazzling. She was happy and cheerful, jumping up and down on the grass like a child.
On the balcony, Shentu Tianyin lay in Xia Lei's arms, looking quietly at each firework as it bloomed.
Xia Lei hugged her waist gently. He was looking at the fireworks too, but his heart was elsewhere. He could not help thinking of Liang Siyao, and the message she had written.
'I've done as she asked. She said she'd come see me, but how? Here? Or somewhere else?' For some reason, he felt worried for Liang Siyao. Her circumstances were very special after all. It would be nearly impossible for her to escape from China if she were discovered by Bureau 101.
And Liang Zhengchun, he had gone to America, but returned. Why?
"What are you thinking about?" Shentu Tianyin turned and looked at Xia Lei, her eyes full of tenderness.
Xia Lei wrapped up his thoughts and smiled. "I was thinking that I must be the most fortunate man in this world. I married you, and you're right here in my arms."
Shentu Tianyin giggled. "You sweet-talker, you. How many women have you charmed?"
"These fireworks are so pretty." Guilt sprang in Xia Lei's heart, and he quickly changed the topic.
Shentu Tianyin replied a little sadly, "They are pretty but they'll be gone in a moment. I remember this line from a song — Fireworks fizzle out quickly. It's probably means this, that fireworks bloom in an instant, and the lights go in all directions before they disappear in the blink of an eye."
"Aren't people like fireworks? Humans exist for a short few decades, from birth to death. These decades disappear more quickly than fireworks in the winding river of time. Let’s not think too much about that. Today is our big day. We should think of happier things, and do some happy things," Xia Lei said as he nibbled on Shentu Tianyin's earlobe. That was her most sensitive part, and she could never hold out for long when he teased her there.
Shentu Tianyin's face slowly flushed red, and her body grew weak as she leaned into Xia Lei’s embrace, feeling for a reaction from his body. Her hips quickly found Xia Lei's reaction, and this reaction of his made her flustered, eager for action.
“Let’s go back to the room. Who knows, we might succeed tonight.” Shentu Tianyin’s breath came in little pants.
“Mm. Let’s go make a baby, hehe.” Xia Lei smiled.
"Hey, Son-in-law! Come down and light some fireworks!" called Fu Mingmei suddenly.
"He's busy! Light them yourself!" Shentu Tianyin replied.
Fu Mingmei laughed and said, "You guys have been up there watching for so long, how is he busy? Oh, are you guys going to…"
Shentu Tianyin suddenly lifted her leg to grab her slipper off it, and threw it at Fu Mingmei's head.
Fu Mingmei dodged. When she looked up again, Shentu Tianyin and Xia Lei were no longer there. She pouted and mumbled, "And she called me her handmaiden, I only asked Son-in-law to light up fireworks and you're already throwing slippers at me. Will you get a knife and chop me up if I kissed him? Violent, too violent."
In the room, the newlyweds were entangled together.
Their hearts were together, their bodies also together, so close that they left no gaps.
And even if there were gaps, those gaps were filled.
Bang bang bang...
Another firework went up into the sky. More and more fireworks went up and soon the entire night sky was lit up.
The New Year was here.Previous Chapter Next Chapter