“Shen Xi and Li Mingxuan meet at night to have a very pleasant talk. The Li family bets on Shen Sanshao!”
The large headline was eye-catching and titillating on the front page of the newspaper.
Below the headline was a candid photo, with the hotel where Shen Xi was staying in the background. In the photo, Li Mingxuan and Shen Xi could be clearly seen standing together, and from the angle the photo was taken, Li Mingxuan was turning sideways to talk to Shen Xi with a smile on his face.
This was a newspaper that came out today, and it was placed in front of Li Mingxuan.
Li Mingxuan’s eyes did not linger on the sensational headline, but fell directly on the photo below it.
From the photo, the smile on his face was obvious, and it was clear he was in a good mood at the time. Li Mingxuan’s expression was slightly stunned for a moment. He remembered that he was just chatting with Shen Xi, but perhaps he didn’t realise that his expression would be so relaxed. Without the suspicion and defensiveness of their first meeting on the plane, Li Mingxuan felt he could treat Shen Xi as a cousin just like Shen Cheng, as long as Shen Xi…
Li Mingxuan did not continue with this thought. Subconsciously, he did not want to maliciously guess the purpose of Shen Xi’s return anymore. In fact, Shen Xi did not do anything after he came back. His relationship with his father was as bad as ever, and Li Mingxuan’s heart had a vague feeling of relief.
The phone rang right in time, interrupting Li Mingxuan’s thoughts. Shen Ji’s voice was full of exhaustion.
“Mingxuan, I’m sorry!”
This was the first time that Shen Ji said sorry to Li Mingxuan in all the years they had known each other. Although Shen Ji did not explain, both of them knew what he was sorry for.
Li Mingxuan laughed silently, a little bitterly. The incident last night had obviously left a mark on the two of them. Otherwise, based on their friendship, Shen Ji would have passed it off as a slip of the tongue and there would be no need to apologise.
With a deep sigh in his heart, Li Mingxuan said, “Ah Ji, you know I didn’t take it to heart.”
Li Mingxuan’s voice was no different from the past, and Shen Ji seemed to relax, his tone much lighter than before, “Well, I know, we are brothers for life.”
Li Mingxuan’s eyes once again fell on the newspaper in front of him, and after a momentary pause, Li Mingxuan repeated in a heavier voice, “Yes, we are brothers for life.”
Hanging up the phone, Li Mingxuan looked at the table with complicated eyes and stretched out his hand to cover up the newspaper on top.
On the other side, Shen Ji held the silent phone and looked at the newspaper in front of him with the same complicated eyes. Li Mingxuan’s smile in the newspaper bothered him deeply.
Shen Ji read the report over and over again with a grim face, then suddenly crumpled the newspaper into a ball and threw it far away. His mind kept repeating Li Mingxuan’s words just now – we are brothers for life.
Shen Ji took a deep breath and raised his head to look at the ceiling unconsciously. The past twenty years or so spent side by side with Li Mingxuan flashed through his mind like a silent old movie. Shen Ji closed his eyes. They were brothers for life. He shouldn’t have doubted Li Mingxuan. All this was just a reporter’s fabrication.
But there was always a voice in Shen Ji’s heart asking why Mingxuan had appeared in front of Shen Xi after they had separated last night.
This question hovered in the back of Shen Ji’s mind like a magic spell, and he left the house with his coat in his hand, distraught.
That day, Shen Xi once again arrived at the hospital later than usual, but to his surprise, Shen Ji, who was supposed to be at the hospital, was not there. Instead, it was Shen Rong who appeared in the ward.
Shen Rong seemed to be very surprised by Shen Xi’s appearance. A hint of jealousy flashed in his eyes; he affectionately took Shen Dehan’s arm and looked over, “Elder brother!”
Shen Xi mockingly glanced at Shen Rong’s movements and responded coldly, “I am the youngest in the Shen family tree, how come I didn’t know I had a younger brother.”
Shen Rong’s smile froze on his face and Shen Dehan’s expression became gloomy. Shen Xi pretended not to notice and continued as if nothing had happened, “I remember the last time I met Big Brother at the hospital, Big Brother said the same thing. There are only three brothers in the Shen family and he can’t afford to have a younger brother with a special hobby.”
Shen Xi emphasised the words “special hobby” and saw sullen expressions of Shen Dehan and Shen Rong’s at the same time. But these words were said by Shen Ji, and even though Shen Dehan liked Shen Rong, Shen Rong had to take second place to Shen Ji. Shen Rong naturally understood this in his heart, and could only laugh lightly in embarrassment, avoiding the confrontation.
Shen Xi glanced at Shen Rong with a sneer, and then looked at Shen Dehan casually, “Father, I heard that there is a new nurse in the ward, why haven’t I seen her?”
Shen Xi’s question caught Shen Rong’s attention. He knew that Shen Xi would not ask about a nurse for no reason. Could it be aimed at him again? Shen Rong looked at Shen Xi warily and was met with a mocking look from Shen Xi.
Shen Rong’s heart tightened and he instinctively peeked at his father’s expression, sensitively noticing that Shen Dehan’s face seemed to have changed a little when Shen Xi mentioned the nurse. Shen Rong lowered his eyes silently, trying to figure out what the matter with the nurse was all about.
The door to the ward was pushed open at that moment, accompanied by a sweet voice, “Mr. Shen, it’s time for you to take your medicine.”
Shen Rong subconsciously looked over at the voice and froze when he saw the visitor clearly, his expression looking as if he was struck by lightning.
Chu Qianqian appeared at the door with the medicine, noticed that there were other people in the room and looked at Shen Dehan in embarrassment, “Sorry to disturb you, Mr. Shen, I didn’t know you had guests.”
Shen Dehan’s expression became kind as soon as he saw Chu Qianqian. When he heard her mention taking the medicine, he smiled even more, “It’s okay, it’s time to take the medicine, Xiao Chu, just go about your business.”
Chu Qianqian smiled faintly at the people in the room, and when her eyes swept over Shen Rong, she revealed a look of surprise. Shen Rong stared at the woman who had appeared in front of him in a daze, not knowing what kind of expression he should wear at this moment.
Chu Qianqian quickly turned away from Shen Rong and carefully placed the medicine beside Shen Dehan.
Looking at Chu Qianqian familiarly helping Shen Dehan pour water and dispense medicine, Shen Rong stood up stiffly, giving her place.
Shen Rong didn’t know how he got out of the ward. The empty hallway was silent, the bodyguards quietly standing in the two ends of the floor.
The sound of footsteps came from behind him, and Shen Rong instantly snapped back to attention, rushing to Shen Xi who had come out right after him and saying in a low voice, “It’s you, it’s you, isn’t it? You found that woman, didn’t you?”
Shen Xi raised his eyebrows with an innocent look, “What do you mean?”
Shen Rong’s expression twisted, “Don’t you understand what I say? You knew that Father liked Mother and deliberately found a similar woman, didn’t you?”
Shen Xi looked at Shen Rong with a face full of mockery, “Is that really what you think?”
Shen Rong shrank suddenly and then he looked back hard.
Shen Xi faintly smiled, leaned to Shen Rong’s ear and said word by word in a pitying tone, “In fact, you know very well in your own heart, don’t you? Whether it’s you or Zhou Mingmei, you’re just substitutes for a dead person. Do you think Father likes you? He just wants to find that woman’s shadow in your face. Looking at your face, Father must have regretted it countless times: why was your birth mother Zhou Mingmei and not the woman in his heart? Does Father love to see your smiling face the most? Why do you think it is? Because Father loves you? It’s just that you look most like that woman when you smile. Now that someone younger and more similar to that woman has appeared, what value do you think your existence has?”
Shen Rong’s expression was fierce as he listened to what Shen Xi had said. His eyes seemed to be breathing fire but not a word could come out of his mouth.
Shen Xi straightened up with satisfaction, a sneer curving the corner of his mouth, “Wake up, don’t deceive yourself. Father’s love for you is nothing but a joke.”
These words became the last straw that completely broke Shen Rong’s back. The anger in Shen Rong’s heart could no longer be restrained and he ruthlessly threw a punch at Shen Xi.
Shen Xi’s mind flashed instantly; should he dodge or take the punch on purpose?
He only had time for a fleeting thought when with a sound of sharp footsteps a familiar figure stepped in front of Shen Xi and a hand caught the swinging fist.
Both Shen Xi and Shen Rong looked stunned for a moment, but Shen Xi was the first to react and took a step back.
Shen Rong froze; Li Mingxuan released Shen Rong’s clenched fist and looked at him coldly, “What are you trying to do?”
Shen Rong gritted his teeth and glanced at Shen Xi, stubbornly silent.
Li Mingxuan frowned imperceptibly, oblivious to Shen Rong’s expression, “Uncle needs to rest, you better not start any conflict here.”
Shen Rong lowered his head and sent a fierce glance at Shen Xi while Li Mingxuan was not paying attention, turned around and walked to the other side of the corridor.
The bodyguards saw that the situation was under control and dispersed once again.
Seeing that there were no more people around, Li Mingxuan turned to Shen Xi and lowered his voice to reveal a hint of anger, “Why didn’t you dodge just now?”
Shen Xi was stunned and before he could react, Li Mingxuan asked another question, “Did you think that if you suffered a loss from Shen Rong, you would make Uncle favour you? You know very well…”
Li Mingxuan’s unfinished words stopped under Shen Xi’s mocking gaze. Shen Xi sneered, “I know very well what? That even if I died in front of my father, my father would not look at me, let alone if I was merely punched a few times by my father’s favourite bastard son?”
Shen Xi lowered his eyes, “You are thinking too much. Just now Shen Rong’s action was too fast and I didn’t have time to avoid it.”
After Shen Xi finished speaking, he turned his head and was about to leave, but Li Mingxuan suddenly stretched out his hand and pulled him back, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that.”
Li Mingxuan’s voice was sincere. Shen Xi paused; after a moment, he slowly turned around and looked at Li Mingxuan with a smile, “It’s okay, I know you meant well.”
Shen Xi’s smile was as clean and gentle as it had been last night, but Li Mingxuan felt a deep sense of alienation in it.