When Shentu Tianyin said that she was going to cook, she really meant it. Without even the slightest hesitation, she tied on an apron and began to rinse the rice and wash the vegetables. Her footsteps covered the kitchen. Only two men in the world had ever eaten her cooking before. The first was her father, Shentu Ren, and the other was Xia Lei. It was a true honour to experience Shentu Tianyin’s cooking, yet Xia Lei could only feel his head throbbing. It was all he felt.
“Who does she think she is? Does she think she’s still your wife?” In the living room of the Peaceful Residence, Tang Yuyan glared at Xia Lei as she questioned him with clear dissatisfaction. “Why is she cooking? Do you not have chefs for that?”
Liang Siyao’s voice was the next to chime in. “You’re already divorced. What kind of message is she trying to send to us by coming over and cooking for everyone?”
Xia Lei laughed bitterly. “We’re still friends despite the divorce. There isn’t anything wrong with having a friend cook for you, right?”
“There isn’t anything wrong? Well if there’s nothing wrong with her cooking for you now, I guess there’d also be nothing wrong with her wanting to remarry later on, right?” asked Tang Yuyan.
Xia Lei was speechless.
Who was the one who told them to stay for lunch?
Tang Yuyan wanted nothing more than to thrash on the person who suggested so, even if their surname was Xia, and their last name was Lei.
Xia Lei’s gaze shifted to Long Bing, who was always quiet. She never contributed to the trouble that Tang Yuyan and Liang Siyao caused him. As they constantly nagged him, he couldn’t help but think, ‘A-Bing is the better woman of the three. She’s the most clever by far.’
Then, Long Bing spoke up. “Lei, Shentu Tianyin was never such a simple woman. But if she really did want to remarry, would you agree to it?”
Xia Lei was speechless.
He had just complimented her a second ago, but he was quickly having a change of heart.
Long Bing never fought for anything, and she never cared about which women he had previously been with. The only thing she did care about was Shentu Tianyin remarrying him, and it was for no other reason than the fact that Shentu Tianyin was a very powerful woman. She definitely wouldn’t allow her to stay with Xia Lei anymore. How could Long Bing remain calm when Shentu Tainyin’s very presence threatened her place beside Xia Lei?
“You said that you’d go to France by yourself, which isn’t a problem. But I won’t allow it if you want to remarry Shentu Tianyin,” said Long Bing.
Tang Yuyan and Liang Siyao’s gazes landed on Long Bing simultaneously.
“What does Xia Lei remarrying have anything to do with you? So what if you don’t agree to it?” Tang Yuyan was clearly provoked by Long Bing’s sudden warning.
Meanwhile, Liang Siyao’s expression was also strange as she perplexedly asked, “Could it be…? You two?”
Long Bing didn’t admit to anything, but she also did nothing to explain otherwise. She instead allowed the other two women to guess what was going on between her and Xia Lei.
Xia Lei’s head was aching more by the moment. “Aren’t we just eating lunch? Why are you guys making things so complicated?”
“Is it complicated?” asked Tang Yuyan.
“Is it complicated?” asked Liang Siyao.
“Is it complicated?” asked Long Bing.
Xia Lei was speechless.
Then, Liang Siyao suddenly asked, “Even if you wanted to get back together with someone, it shouldn’t be with Shen Tianyin, right?”
Long Bing and Tang Yuyan both turned to Liang Siyao in unison. It was easy to tell what she was really trying to say. If he was going to get back together with someone, then it only made sense that he’d do so with her, his ex-girlfriend, and not Shentu Tianyin.
Was there even a saying for something like that?
Tang Yuyan cleared her throat. “You shouldn’t try to relive the past. Lei, haven’t you been deceived by enough women? If you’re going to remarry, find a woman of the same standing as you. Find one that won’t lie to you.”
“What do you mean, Tang Yuyan?” Liang Siyao was quick to show her displeasure.
“What else could I possibly mean? Don’t misunderstand. I wasn’t talking about you.” Tang Yuyan followed up with a smile.
“You…” Liang Siyao was at a loss for words.
Xia Lei’s eyes swept over the three women who viewed each other as enemies at the moment, and thought to himself, ‘We haven’t even started eating, but they’re already like this. When we finally do start eating later on, will they end up threatening my life? You’re so stupid, Xia Lei! Why did you invite them to stay for lunch?”
Then, Sylvia and Annina also walked in.
“Hi, Lukas. I heard from Ms Qin that you were inviting people to have lunch in your house, so Sylvia and I decided not to eat in the dining hall. We returned home to eat instead,” said Annina. She smiled, unaware of how tense the atmosphere was. There may as well have been the pungent smell of gunpowder and vinegar hanging in the room.
But not just any combination of gunpowder and vinegar could accurately depict the volatility that currently permeated the space. The gunpowder would have had to be the kind that could ignite with even the slightest spark, and a serving of the vinegar would have had to be strong enough to cook 100 sour fish fillets.
“Lukas, come to my room after lunch. I have a question I must ask of you, which will require great discussion.” Sylvia was even more straightforward.
Though they were blunt, they communicated with Xia Lei in a way that didn’t make his situation any worse.
Fortunately, Annina and Sylvia spoke in German. The three other women only had a very basic working German vocabulary, and thus couldn’t completely understand what was being said.
But even though they couldn’t understand, Xia Lei felt like there was still fire under his feet. There was no time for him to sit still. He immediately stood up, walked towards the two German women, and addressed them professionally. “So there’s a problem with the tank’s engine? We can talk about this out there.”
Before the two were able to snap out of their trances, Xia Lei was already out the door. He turned around and asked, “Why are you still standing there?”
Annina and Sylvia briefly looked at each other before deciding to follow Xia Lei out the door.
Xia Lei led them to a corner far from the living room. “Why are you here?”
“To eat,” declared the two German women simultaneously.
“Then go to the dining hall for now. I’ll personally cook for you tonight if you do.” Xia Lei tried to keep his composure as well as he could.
They responded with perfect unison once again. “Why?”
Xia Lei sighed. “Can’t you see? The three women you saw in there are female agents. We’re currently planning a highly confidential mission, and you obviously aren’t allowed to listen in.”
“Wow, that sounds exhilarating.” Sylvia was could barely contain her excitement. “I love watching movies about spies and secret agents. When I was young, my dream was to become a spy. Just thinking about it makes me excited! Lukas, if there’s anything you need me to do, just say the word. I’m not afraid of danger. I’ll do whatever you ask.”
“Fine. I won’t hesitate to ask if there’s something I need from you.” Xia Lei played along.
“Same goes for me. You taught me how to shoot, so I’ll be able to fight on your behalf,” said Annina.
“Hmm... I won’t hesitate to ask you either, Annina,” assured Xia Lei. “For now, follow my orders and eat in the dining hall. You can look forward to my delicious cooking tonight.”
“Can I make a request?” asked Sylvia.
“You can. What would you like to eat?” asked Xia Lei.
“Sweet and sour banana.” said Sylvia.
Xia Lei was speechless.
“Heh. I’m only joking with you. We’ll be going now.” Sylvia hugged Xia Lei and kissed him on the cheek before setting her sights on his lips.
Annina also hugged him and gave him a kiss. As she bid him farewell, she whispered in his ear, “I don’t want a sweet and sour banana, but I do want yours. I’m not kidding either. I’m completely serious.”
Wrinkles appeared on Xia Lei’s forehead by the time Annina had finished.
He finally sent the two German women off, and savoured the feeling of relief that came with it. Facing six women at once—his ex-girlfriend, his ex-wife, his three mistresses, and Ms Tang, who had tried to force him into marriage… he didn’t even dare to imagine what could’ve happened.
“Those two engineers of mine are truly troublesome. They came all the way just to ask me about something so minor.” Xia Lei returned to the living room and did his best to complain about them.
“So even your engineers are beautiful golden-haired young women. Must be tough,” said Tang Yuyan.
Xia Lei was about to say that he was planning on lowering Annina and Sylvia’s wages, but he couldn’t anymore since Tang Yuyan decided to butt in.
“Hubby...Oh! I mean, Xia Lei, can you come help?” Shentu Tianyin walked out from the kitchen and affectionately called out with her gentle voice..
Xia Lei braced himself before continuing. “Okay, I’ll be right there.” Then, he stood up and said, “Uhh, you can chat in the meantime. I’ll see what she needs.”
After Xia Lei left, Tang Yuyan suddenly said, “She’s honestly just shameless. Look at how she nags him like that even after they’ve already divorced.”
“Did she do it on purpose so she can spend some time alone with Xia Lei?” asked Long Bing.
“I’ll help too.” Liang Siyao also got up and headed for the kitchen.
Tang Yuyan and Long Bing couldn’t help but turn to face one another in concern.
“The ex-girlfriend and ex-wife... Won’t Xia Lei be tricked into something as long as those two are together?” asked Tang Yuyan.
“If you’re so worried, you can keep an eye on them. There’s no point in trying to convince me to,” said Long Bing.
“Then you can just sit here and wait for the food. Fitting for someone as lazy as you.“ Then, Tang Yuyan stood up from her seat and walked to the kitchen as well.
Before Tang Yuyan could make it very far, Long Bing suddenly got up and walked over. “Never mind. I’ll help too.”
A few minutes later, in the kitchen...
“Hey, who washed the vegetables? They’re not even clean.”
“I washed them. Can’t you just wash them again if you don’t think they’re clean enough?”
“Are you trying to make sweet and sour pork chops? Someone here actually enjoys a disgusting dish like that?”
“Xia Lei, my apron is loose. Help me tie it.”
“Xia Lei, help me wipe the sweat off my forehead. My hands are full.”
Xia Lei stared at the four women in the kitchen without saying a word. He didn’t want to help anyone tie their apron, wipe the sweat off their forehead, or whatever else they asked of him. All he wanted was to smash his head into a nearby wall, perhaps in front of the four of them.
The dishes were an amalgamation of the four women’s individual cooking skills, which were all finally completed. Xia Changhe never appeared, and neither did Xia Xue nor Liu Zhengnan. Only Xia Lei dined with the four women.
“Lei, have a pork chop. I cooked it.”
“Lei, eat some eggplant. I cooked it.”
“Lei, taste this fish I prepared.”
“Xia Lei, have some meat.”
Lunch had just begun, but Xia Lei’s bowl was nearly overflowing. If he ate everything in it, his stomach was guaranteed to burst. If he decided not to eat everything, would the four women at the table even let him? He looked at his bowl and lowered his head. He was bitter to say the least, but couldn’t say anything. He actually felt very fortunate that Fan Fan and Jiang Ruyi weren’t there. If they were, it would basically be like holding double kings plus four twos. He’d be bombed to the point where he wouldn’t be able to find north!
Ring ring ring, ring ring ring...
As Xia Lei silently wallowed in pain, his phone suddenly rang.
Xia Lei checked his phone and answered the moment he saw who was calling.
“Mr. Xia, I’ve passed along your condition to my superiors.” It was Yu Shanhe’s voice. “They’ve agreed to allow you to go as the Vice President of the Academy of Science after our research has concluded. No one would dare to do anything to someone with such a title.”
“The Vice President of the Academy of Science? Alright.” Xia Lei finally revealed a hint of a smile after the longest time. “What about France?”
“They’ve also informed France about your situation in detail. The French government has promised that it won’t capture you or anything of the sort. If France has agreed to such terms, other countries will do the same. You won’t need to worry about anything, since you won’t be regarded as a criminal,” said Yu Shanhe.
“Finally, some peace of mind.”
“When are you leaving?”
“Right away. I’ll be coming now.”
“Right away?” Yu Shanhe was confused. “That quickly?”
“Yeah, wait for me. I’ll be there as soon as possible.” Before Yu Shanhe could ask any further, Xia Lei hung up. He then stood up and said, “Enjoy the food, everyone. I have an urgent matter to attend to, so I’ll be taking my leave.”
The four women stared straight at him.
Xia Lei turned around and left. He never looked back and didn’t stop for anything.
If he continued eating lunch with them, he would’ve been putting his life in danger. If he didn’t leave when he was given the chance, when else could he?