Five years later
“Shen, I heard you’re going back to China, come out for a drink sometime.”
“Shen, we’re having a farewell party for you, join us Friday night at King Bar at 7pm sharp, oh.”
“Shen, it’s Old John, I need to talk to you.”
It was a very ordinary single apartment, not very big but very empty because of the few items in it.
In one corner of the apartment, Shen Xi was bending down to pack his luggage while listening to the messages on the phone absent-mindedly. Compared to five years ago, Shen Xi’s figure was considerably taller, with the youthfulness of a teenager beginning to fade and the outline of a young man becoming more apparent. Due to regular exercise, Shen Xi’s physique was lean but perfectly muscled, a far cry from his thinness of five years ago.
Unlike Shen Ji and Shen Cheng who looked like their father and Shen Rong who looked like his mother, Shen Xi resembled neither his father nor his deceased mother. At first glance, the grown-up Shen Xi looked more like a replica of his uncle, Han Yu. Without the gloomy and violent aura of his youth, the current Shen Xi looked gentle and introspective.
The phone messages were still playing one after another, most of them coming from one person – Old John.
Defeated by his perseverance, Shen Xi had to stop what he was doing, grab the phone and call back.
“Hi John, it’s Shen.”
“Thank God, Shen, you finally contacted me. I think we need to talk.”
Even through the phone line, Shen Xi could feel Old John’s relieved mood on the other side.
A warm current surged through Shen Xi’s heart, “Thank you, John, but I don’t need to.”
“Shen, believe me, hatred can never save our hearts.” Old John rushed to speak, only to be interrupted by Shen Xi.
“I don’t need saving, thank you! Goodbye!”
Hanging up the phone, Shen Xi simply unplugged the line. The expression of Old John blowing his beard and glaring after he couldn’t get through flashed in his mind, and the corners of Shen Xi’s mouth slowly curled up.
Old John that Shen Xi had been talking to was a kindly and compassionate old man who ran a psychological clinic near the residential area where Shen Xi lived. Since Shen Xi went to him four years ago because of continuous nightmares, Old John had become Shen Xi’s exclusive counsellor.
Shen Xi once described to Old John his past life as an absurd dream. Perhaps because there was too much resentment in Shen Xi’s words, Old John insisted that Shen Xi needed to learn to let go of the hatred in his heart if he wanted to get rid of the nightmares.
Shen Xi did not take Old John’s words seriously. Hatred was the only thing that kept him going, and without it, what was the point of his rebirth?
While recalling the soft-hearted old man, Shen Xi quickly packed his luggage. Soon the last thing was put away. Shen Xi looked at the empty room, turned and left with his luggage without any nostalgia.
The place where Shen Xi lived was still a long way from the airport. Busy packing up in the past few days, Shen Xi didn’t have a good rest. Therefore, as soon as he got in the car, Shen Xi took the time to close his eyes and rest.
Speaking of which, Shen Xi’s scheduled return to China was three months later, which was also the time when Fang Luowei appeared in Zhongjing in his previous life. Unfortunately, plans never kept up with changes, and a phone call a few days ago changed Shen Xi’s agenda.
Thinking about the content of that phone call, Shen Xi’s brow furrowed. The phone rang at that moment, and the words “Lao K” flashed on the big screen.
“Why can’t I get through to your home phone?” The voice in the receiver was full of accusations, as if Shen Xi had done something unforgivable to the other party. With the way the other party was pinching his throat, as his shrill voice entered Shen Xi’s ears, Shen Xi held his forehead fighting a headache.
He could imagine the person on the other side of the phone pouting and sobbing. Such an expression on a beautiful girl’s face would be pleasing to the eye and on a beautiful boy it would be bearable, but when a man in his thirties with a scruffy beard made such an expression, Shen Xi felt goosebumps all over his body.
Before Shen Xi could adjust his emotions, the man on the other side went all out, “Nasty, why are you ignoring me?!”
“I have a flight this afternoon and I’m on my way to the airport.” Shen Xi kept his face as blank as possible, trying to talk in a calm tone. The other party obviously didn’t expect Shen Xi to move so quickly, was taken aback for a moment, then chirped, “Ah ah, what if I’m not ready to see you yet? Is it too late to go for a beauty treatment? Will you dislike me?”
Shen Xi gritted his teeth, “Speak human language!”
The other party seemed to know that this was Shen Xi’s bottom line and smiled coquettishly, “Aiya, Xiao Xixi, you are so short-tempered!” The next moment, before Shen Xi could hang up the phone, Lao K’s tone became normal, “Shen Dehan has been discharged from the hospital this morning. I got his medical records. It looks like he fainted a few days ago just due to overexertion and there was no other reason.”
Without waiting for Shen Xi’s response, Lao K couldn’t help but tease again, “Xiao Xixi, you are too miserable, Shen Dehan was secretly hospitalised and even that bastard son of his was notified urgently, but you’re the only one kept in the dark. Shen Dehan is not really planning to disinherit you for that bastard son, is he? You should be careful, you haven’t paid my investigation fee yet.”
Shen Xi had already gotten used to the other party’s flirtatious words, but after listening to Lao K go from the fact that the investigation fee should be raised due to inflation to the fact that he couldn’t afford to buy cosmetics these days, he finally couldn’t help but interrupt, “Have you found the person I asked you to find?”
When it came to business, Lao K immediately became serious, “Living up to my promise, I finally found one.”
“How similar?” Shen Xi directly asked the question he was most concerned about.
“Depends on who you want to compare to. If you want to compare to Zhou Mingmei, it will be only a seven-point resemblance. But if you compare to the photo you gave me, it will be a full nine points.”
Shen Xi smiled in satisfaction, “I will go straight to your place when I get off the plane, make an appointment with this person for me.” After thinking about it, Shen Xi added, “If the person you found is really as similar as you say, I will double the fee.”
After saying this, Shen Xi simply hung up the phone, stopping any nagging from the other party.
After putting down the phone, Shen Xi closed his eyes once again, but the corner of his mouth was unconsciously hooked up to reveal a cold smile.
He thought he didn’t care. After ten years in prison and five years of being ignored, he had already no expectations of the Shen family. He pretended to be a dandy, he held back his hatred, and he spent five years slowly building up his strength. He felt that his heart was already ruthless and cold enough, but when he heard the news that his father fainted and was admitted to the hospital, he still subconsciously hesitated.
But the reality was so ridiculous and cruel that his hesitation was only rewarded with a resounding slap in the face! Everyone associated with the Shen family received the news that Shen Dehan had been admitted to hospital, except for him. Had he not had someone to keep an eye on the Shen family, if his father hadn’t just fainted from fatigue, he wouldn’t have even known about his father’s death and would have been sidelined by everyone.
The little beast in his heart called hatred began to screech, and Shen Xi opened his eyes and showed himself a harmless smile in the rear view mirror.
Half an hour later, in the first class cabin of the flight to Zhongjing, Shen Xi sat quietly in his seat. There was still some time before the plane took off and Shen Xi was bored, flicking through the video player to pass the long journey time.
“Excuse me, may I?” A low, magnetic voice sounded above his head.
Shen Xi quickly stood up and side-stepped out of the way, only to find that the man speaking had no intention of getting past him.
Shen Xi looked over in confusion, and when he saw the other party’s face, his eyes flashed. Before he could figure out what expression to wear, the other party already said, “Shen Xi?”
Shen Xi was surprised; he hadn’t thought that the man could recognise him. After all, counting the five years he had spent abroad, it should have been seven or eight years since they had seen each other.
Nodding hesitantly, Shen Xi put on a puzzled look, “Cousin Mingxuan?”
The other party was obviously not expecting Shen Xi to address him in this way, and after a slight pause he smiled gently.
Li Mingxuan’s smile was very nice, and even though he had a lot of disdain for the man in his heart, Shen Xi had to admit this. Speaking of which, Shen Xi was no stranger to Li Mingxuan’s current appearance. Lao K was doing his best collecting all the information about the Shen family. As a close friend and cousin of Shen Ji, Li Mingxuan had appeared in the information a lot. So much, in fact, that Lao K once swore that the two of them definitely had an affair.
When Shen Xi thought of this, he could not help but laugh at himself. He was also Li Mingxuan’s cousin, but the treatment he and Shen Ji enjoyed as cousins was really different. Maybe Lao K’s words were not groundless, and the two of them really had an affair.
The thought was fleeting, and Li Mingxuan had already sat down beside Shen Xi.
When Shen Xi sat down as well, he heard Li Mingxuan speak, “Is Xiao Xi going back to China?”
The words “Xiao Xi” really irritated Shen Xi, who only felt a bitter cold and nodded silently.
Li Mingxuan looked at Shen Xi, seemingly unintentionally, “I heard that Xiao Xi is doing well abroad, why do you suddenly think of going back home?”
At the word “heard” Shen Xi wanted to laugh out loud. The Shen family had ignored him for five years, where had Li Mingxuan heard about him?
He said, “I’m tired of staying abroad and want to go back to China for a while.”
Li Mingxuan looked at Shen Xi’s calm face and nodded approvingly, “There’s really no point in staying abroad, so it’s good that Xiao Xi wants to go back home.”
Shen Xi smiled coldly in his heart, knowing that his return to China at this time must have attracted the other party’s suspicion. But what about that? He would be met with suspicion whenever he went back. Shen Xi had been waiting for five years for the big show to start, so how could he be willing to miss it?
Li Mingxuan seemed to be very interested in Shen Xi’s life abroad, and intentionally or unintentionally steered the conversation towards it. Shen Xi did not disappoint him and told him all about his foreign life that consisted of eating, drinking and playing.
The plane soon took off, and midway through the flight Shen Xi excused himself to go to the toilet, quickly took out his mobile phone to turn it on and typed a few lines.
“I’m with Li Mingxuan, flight number CA981, you know what to do.”
Satisfied, Shen Xi watched the phone turn off and walked out. Under Li Mingxuan’s gaze, the corners of Shen Xi’s mouth curled up in a harmless smile.