Chapter 22 – Conversation
“How are you doing today?” Tian Yan peeked out from behind the door. She grimaced and closed it behind her.
“Doing great. A personal chef, high-grade wine, feather duvet, and a beautiful girl that visits me from time to time. Am I dreaming?” Fu Bo stood up with a smile and welcomed Tian Yan into his room. He had already grown very attached to Tian Yan, who was one of the only two people that could remember him.
“Aren’t you worried? You’re a prisoner last time I checked.” Tian Yan was mesmerized by the white, radiant light that shone into her soul.
“I’m not worried about being a prisoner of this room. I’m worried about the thief who wants to steal my heart.” Tian Yan’s smile made Fu Bo’s heart race. Her pale irises conferred to her some kind of elfish beauty. It was something unusual, yet Fu Bo found it very attractive. He involuntarily sank into his habits of using his encyclopedia of pick-up lines.
“What are you talking about?” Tian Yan looked away from Fu Bo. Her entire neck gained a rosy tint.
“Why don’t you sit down?” Fu Bo stepped forward and grabbed Tian Yan’s hands. Witnessing Tian Yan’s timidity was like drinking a delicious, aged wine. It was the first time he had felt this way in his life. He knew that she would remember him and every single world he says.
Tian Yan’s first instinct was to shake off Fu Bo’s hand, but the tingling sensation that ran between her fingers cut the thought off. She followed him to the sofa and sat down. It felt like a dream even after Fu Bo let go. ‘We’re holding hands…’
Fu Bo observed every detail of Tian Yan’s reaction. He blamed himself for being far too rash, but there was something incredibly attractive about Tian Yan’s innocence. This girl was completely different from those he met for a one-night-stand. Fu Bo once joked to Li Yiming around his guilt going away once he saw the sensual lingerie the girls wore, but his bitterness lingered well after the dawn of the second day.
“Uhm, May I ask for your name?” Unlike his usual self, Fu Bo asked a perfectly “normal” question.
“Tian Yan?” Fu Bo was baffled. He stared straight into Tian Yan’s eyes.
“It’s Tian Yan actually, as in color.” Tian Yan hurriedly changed her answer. 1
“Tian Yan… beauty bestowed by the Heavens. A nice name. Your parents knew.” 2
“I… I don’t have parents…” Tears glittered in Tian Yan’s eyes.
“I… I’m sorry…” Fu Bo was suddenly at a loss for words. Seeing Tian Yan this sad made his own heart ache. He was seized with an urge to protect Tian Yan from every cruel thing in this world for the rest of her life.
“It’s okay, it happened a long time ago…” Tian Yan suddenly felt the desire to share her past with the figure of light in her mind.
Tian Yan had been cruelly abandoned at birth by her parents, who were aghast by her appearance. A passer-by found her on the streets and brought her to an orphanage. Despite having to endure her fair share of suffering, her luck changed for the better at eight years old, when Bing Shuai found her.
“My life has been a lot better even since meeting uncle Bing. He takes good care of me.” Tian Yan was torn when she talked about Bing Shuai. She had already realized that Bing Shuai’s compassion was purely pragmatic, but his care and protection were real.
“You’re my exact opposite then. My childhood was nothing but full of happiness. However, once I got into my second year of high school…”
The neglect that the world had showed toward both Fu Bo and Tian Yan drove the two closer and closer, and their discussion became much more personal. However, the pair failed to notice the man who had been listening at the door with a frown as he mulled over what he was hearing.
* * *
“Li Yiming? You’re Guo Xiang’s friend?” Guo Tai greeted Li Yiming with a warm grin and sat down facing him.
“Hello uncle Guo. I am Guo Xiang’s classmate. I’m sorry to bother you when you’re so busy. I visited you once.” Li Yiming stood up to greet Guo Tai. He remembered the man being proud and aloof, just as anyone would expect from the CEO of a respectable company. ‘What happened to him? Doesn’t seem like a fitting behavior for his status.’
“Ah, yes I remember. It was a big party.” Guo Tai picked up a cigar from the table and offered it to Li Yiming with a smile.
“Thank you.” Li Yiming was reluctant to accept it but found it hard to refuse when Guo Tai seemed so eager. As soon as he accepted the roll, Guo Tai’s personal assistant rushed forward to light both Li Yiming and Guo Tai’s cigars.
* * *
“He didn’t refuse?” Bing Shuai was surprised when he saw Li Yiming smoke.
“He didn’t touch the water that was given to him before, though.” Ying Mei sat right beside Bing Shuai and recording everything she saw.
“It seems like he was wary. What is going on inside his head now? Why such a display of confidence?”
“Maybe he’s faking it. It would give him an advantage in the negotiation.”
“That’s possible. Let’s keep looking.” Bing Shuai lit up a cigarette and focused on the monitor in front of him.
* * *
“And you’re here today…” Guo Tai was impressed by Li Yiming. ‘He’s the same age as my son… and yet even Bing Shuai needs to give his full attention. I wouldn’t be surprised if this young man manages to achieve everything I have accomplished so far when he reaches my age. Yet my own son… he only knows two things, amusement and lust. I’m grateful for everything that Bing Shuai has given to me, but he’s spoiling Guo Xiang way too much, even more than me.’
“I’m looking for Guo Xiang, but I can’t seem to reach him.” Li Yiming hesitated. He knew just how valuable Guo Tai’s time was, and how trivial his request was in comparison.
“Guo Xiang?” Guo Tai was baffled. Ying Mei had given him a long list of instructions, but talking about Guo Xiang was not on it. He did not dare to answer. Instead, he sought for help from the invisible camera in a corner.
* * *
“Why is he talking about Guo Xiang all of a sudden? Is this some kind reminder? Do they know about our plans?” Bing Shuai extinguished his cigar in frustration. ‘Guo Xiang has always had the image of a spoilt brat, and I made sure to maintain that misleading image. The ritual has only been active for a few days, and they already know about it? I’d suspect a rat if I hadn’t hand-picked all of my helpers from when they were little kids…’
“It could be an excuse. He’s seeking an opportunity.” Ying Mei glanced at Bing Shuai. She had never seen him this nervous.
* * *
“Young Master Guo is traveling abroad with friends.” The assistant, who had stayed quiet the entire time, suddenly spoke.
“Abroad?” Li Yiming looked at the man who seemed to be nothing more than a butler. ‘Average height, dark skin, calm. But his hands… these calluses… is he really a secretary? I remember the hand of Ma Dafang back in Eden, the same hands that have held a blade for decades.’
“He went abroad? That little punk, all he knows is play around.” Guo Tai feigned surprise and took a long sip of tea to hide his unease.
“May I ask one more question? Do you know who exactly he is traveling with?” Li Yiming noticed Guo Tai’s unnatural reaction and tried something else.
“I don’t know. Maybe with his girlfriend, knowing the young master’s habits.” The assistant let out a calm smile.
“Well, I should stop taking up more of your time then. Sorry to have inconvenienced you.” Li Yiming stood up with a smile. He had his doubts, but nothing convincing enough.
‘That’s it? Nothing else? What about what Ying Mei told me?’ Guo Tai was baffled. He quickly glanced at his assistant, who ignored him. “I’ll ask him to give you a call when he comes back. It is urgent?” Guo Tai stood up nervously. This was the first time he had to deal with someone who had the full attention of Bing Shuai, and the pressure was quite daunting.
“It’s alright. Thank you.” Li Yiming answered with a smile and made for the exit. He could tell that Guo Tai was hiding something.
I’m really not sure why Li Yiming thinks it’s a brilliant idea to visit Guo Tai, especially if he thinks that the Guo family is behind both Ji Xiaoqin and Fu Bo’s disappearance.
Hey, my friend just got kidnapped! Let me go real quick and ask the people whom I suspect are behind it.
1. Note that Tian Yan means Heaven’s Eye, and that the word color (yan2 se4) contains a homophone with eye.
2. Note that eye is also a homophone with facial features/visage…