The news of Shen Cheng’s investment failure was soon known to the company’s senior management, leading to a flurry of secret discussions. Once the collapse of Anchor was confirmed, not only would all of Shen Group investment be lost, but there would be a series of unpredictable financial risks that would follow. The board of directors received the news and called to ask about the situation. At this time, they obviously felt that Shen Ji was more reliable than Shen Cheng, and the calls all went to Shen Ji.
Shen Ji had to pay attention to the exact news of Anchor while also dealing with the board members, and he felt overwhelmed. Even though Shen Cheng was in charge of investment, no matter what he was asked, he could not say anything, so he could only bring Lu Gesen in again and again. Shen Ji was irritated and could not help but reprimand Shen Cheng a few times.
Shen Cheng was originally remorseful for his investment mistakes, and felt touched to see Shen Ji cleaning up his mess. But when the board of directors treated him as nothing and called Shen Ji directly, a vague dissatisfaction grew in Shen Cheng’s heart. Various emotions of regret, distress and dissatisfaction were mixed together, and when Shen Ji reprimanded him mercilessly in front of his assistant, it turned into a complex feeling that was indescribable. Shen Cheng almost shouted, “Yes, I lost money for Shen Group, but didn’t you ever lose money, Big Brother? If you all think that I don’t know anything, why do you still want me to be the general manager of Shen Group? Is it just to treat me as a puppet?”
Shen Cheng’s words caused Shen Ji to freeze. He had originally regretted saying these things to Shen Cheng. He wasn’t trying to blame Shen Cheng for his investment failure. Even his father couldn’t guarantee that his every decision would make money. He was just dissatisfied with the fact that Shen Cheng did not know anything about the investment plan and needed Lu Gesen’s advice on everything. Subconsciously he had to open his mouth to scold him, but he did not expect Shen Cheng to say something like that.
Shen Ji’s face darkened instinctively, “Ah Cheng.”
After Shen Cheng finished speaking, he himself was stunned, and the anger he felt before immediately dissipated without a trace. But when he looked at Shen Ji’s sunken face, which was exactly the same as the expression he used to have in the past when he was upset with him, Shen Cheng’s dissipated courage gathered again. Every time it was the same, Big Brother always used this expression to reprimand him. Without thinking, Shen Cheng continued, “Am I not right? Whether it’s Big Brother or Father, don’t you treat me like a puppet? I’m the general manager of Shen Group but I cannot make decisions on anything. In my father’s mind, I am just a temporary replacement. When Yunrou had an incident, Father put me in the position of general manager regardless of whether I could do it or not. Now that Yunrou’s matter is over, Father doesn’t ask me what I think at all and directly asks me to vacate the position for you, Big Brother. Everything Father does revolves around you, Big Brother, since I was a child. What am I in Father’s eyes?”
Shen Cheng became more and more agitated as he talked, ignoring Shen Ji’s distorted face, “Big Brother, you are the eldest son, you are going to inherit the Shen family business. From a young age Grandfather and Father favoured you, and all of this goes without saying. You are good at everything, you are excellent, you are likeable, and I can’t do anything. Since you know I can’t, why do you want me to do it, just so that my incompetence can set you off, Big Brother?”
Shen Cheng didn’t know when he had started having these thoughts. He had been used to standing next to Shen Ji to set off his excellence since he was a child, and anyway, there was Shen Xi in the Shen family who was even worse than him. He knew what he was capable of and had no thoughts about Shen Group. He also knew that based on his elder brother’s love for him, he would never be treated badly. He was actually leading a good life. But when one day his elder brother, who had always been excellent, suddenly made a mistake, he was pushed into the position of general manager by his father and was caught off guard. He didn’t think he could do it, but his father gently stated that he was just a name and that he still had his elder brother to rely on to make decisions about everything.
He didn’t think there was anything wrong with this at first, but the people around him reminded him time and again that he was now the general manager of Shen Group and should take up his share of responsibility instead of relying on Shen Ji at every turn. He began to learn to make his own decisions, he began to contact Shen Group management, and he began to hear the praise from the company’s people. He found that it felt good too, that it wasn’t just his elder brother, that he could do well too, that he could be just like his elder brother. He invested in Anchor with great expectations, he smugly felt that he could definitely succeed. But just a few days later he was beaten back, turned into even less than he had been before.
Shen Cheng didn’t know what he was saying. As he watched Shen Ji’s expression getting more and more unsightly, he subconsciously took a step back.
Shen Ji only felt a chill in his heart and looked at Shen Cheng quietly, unable to say a word.
The two brothers were in the middle of a confrontation when an alarming cry suddenly came from the door, “Chairman!”
Shen Ji was the first to react and pulled the door open. At the door of the office, Shen Dehan was on the floor, unconscious, and Wang Changlin and a few other people were anxiously gathered around him. As Shen Ji came out, the crowd suddenly looked embarrassed; they had obviously heard what Shen Cheng had just said.
Shen Ji didn’t care to look at their expressions, ordered the driver to prepare a car and hurried to the hospital with the bodyguards.
As the crowd dispersed, Shen Cheng stood there with a bewildered look on his face, not knowing whether he should follow.
News of Shen Dehan’s hospitalisation once again reached Shen Xi’s ears.
Looking at the worried look on Li Mingxuan’s face after he hung up the phone, Shen Xi casually said, “What? Mr. Shen is not doing well?” Since the last time, Shen Xi no longer wanted to call Shen Dehan “Father”, but always referred to him as “Mr. Shen”.
Li Mingxuan sat beside Shen Xi and nodded, “Uncle is still in a coma, the doctor said that this time the situation is more critical.”
Shen Xi didn’t care. Every time Shen Dehan was hospitalised, he was in a critical condition, but he was still alive and kicking two days later. The last time Shen Rong made such a big fuss but Shen Dehan was still unscathed.
Seeing Shen Xi’s disbelief, Li Mingxuan sighed in his heart, “It’s not all about Uncle. A recent investment by Shen Group has gone wrong and I’m afraid it will lead to turmoil in the company. At a time like this Uncle is in hospital again and Ah Ji and Ah Cheng are in conflict. Mother is very worried.”
Shen Xi knew what Shen Group investment mistake was. As soon as the news about Anchor came out today, Shen Xi immediately realised that Lu Gesen had definitely received the insider information about Anchor in advance to design Shen Group investment in Anchor. The only thing that confused him was how Lu Gesen had arranged it with the investment department.
As for the conflict between Shen Ji and Shen Cheng, Shen Xi’s mind wandered, “Big Brother and Second Brother?”
Li Mingxuan frowned slightly, “Mother didn’t say the specifics, only that Uncle had an attack this time because he was stimulated after hearing them quarrel.”
Shen Xi snorted and said carelessly, “It was a quarrel over Shen Group, right?”
Shen Xi asked directly and Li Mingxuan acquiesced with a wry smile, “Ah Cheng has grown up and has his own ideas.”
Shen Xi scoffed at Li Mingxuan’s statement and nailed it mercilessly, “Second Brother wants to fight with Big Brother for control of Shen Group?”
Although Shen Bixue did not explicitly say so, the words did reveal that Ah Cheng had this idea. Li Mingxuan hesitated and said vaguely, “Maybe.”
The corner of Shen Xi’s mouth revealed a sneer. So what if they were blood brothers? No matter how deep the bond was, it was not invulnerable in front of the huge desire for money. His father had been guarding against him for so long, but he hadn’t thought that it was his two favourite sons who would start the conflict. No wonder he was so angry that he was hospitalised.
Shen Xi didn’t bother to listen to the Shen family’s affairs anymore, casually took the remote control and changed the channel, but then thought of Li Mingxuan beside him.
Mingfei was still young and had a keen interest in sculpture. If one day he suddenly took an interest in Li Group, what would happen to Li Mingxuan?
Shen Xi being lost in thought was noticed by Li Mingxuan, and he vaguely guessed what Shen Xi was thinking at the moment. He could not help but ask tentatively, “Is Xiao Xi worried about Mingfei and me?”
Shen Xi was slightly startled, surprise flashing in his eyes, and Li Mingxuan caught it immediately. Shen Xi originally only had a brief thought, but when Li Mingxuan said this, he suddenly felt as if he was really worried and couldn’t help but feel awkward.
Li Mingxuan was delighted and reached out to hold Shen Xi, saying seriously, “Mingfei and I will not have this day. Although Li Group is very important to me, it is not the most important thing. There are other things in my heart that are more important than Li Group.”
Shen Xi was not entirely convinced. Li Mingxuan smiled and continued, “You know, like Ah Ji, I was raised as an heir, and in my heart, I always took inheriting Li Group as a matter of course, until I graduated from university. By then I already knew my sexuality and was faced with a choice. Should I hide my sexuality and go about my business of marrying and having children and taking over the Li family or should I admit my sexuality to my parents, even if I lose the right to inherit? I thought and thought about it, but I chose to confess to my parents. I was ready to give up my inheritance and stay abroad, and I even planned to start a business with a few of my classmates. It was at that time that I completely figured out that Li Group was important, but there was something more important to me.”
Speaking of this, Li Mingxuan couldn’t help but lean over and kiss Shen Xi, his gaze turning hot, “What’s more, now that we’re together, Li Group can only be handed over to Mingfei’s children in the future. If he likes it, I would love for him to take over quickly. That way we can choose to go live abroad, find a place that supports same-sex marriage and live openly in the sun.”
Li Mingxuan’s tone did not sound like a joke, and Shen Xi could not help but feel a slight tremor in his heart, a flash of confusion in his eyes. Going abroad to get married? The idea sounded good, but shouldn’t two people who get married love each other?
The longer he stayed with Li Mingxuan, the more confused Shen Xi became about the relationship between them. From the beginning, he only needed Li Mingxuan’s warmth, but now he didn’t seem to know whether he needed this warmth or Li Mingxuan himself?
Li Mingxuan’s feelings were like warm water, and Shen Xi felt as if he was the frog being boiled in warm waters. Because at first he just craved that warmth, but now he actually felt that it was not bad to live with Li Mingxuan for the rest of his life.
The word “like” flashed through his mind, and Shen Xi suddenly came to his senses.
He and Li Mingxuan were not as warm and sweet as they appeared to be, there was still the Shen family between them. He could not give Li Mingxuan what he wanted, and likewise, what he wanted Li Mingxuan could not give him either.
Shen Xi came back to his senses and avoided the topic, “Won’t Cousin visit Mr. Shen?”
The expectant look in Li Mingxuan’s eyes slowly faded, and he couldn’t help but smile bitterly in his heart. There seemed to be something invisible standing between Shen Xi and him. He stretched out his hand and rubbed Shen Xi’s hair affectionately. Li Mingxuan knew that Shen Xi was avoiding. Whenever he encountered a topic he didn’t want to talk about, he would bring up Shen Dehan to ruin the atmosphere.
Thinking of giving Shen Xi a little more time, Li Mingxuan said, “I will go with my father tomorrow.”
Shen Xi nodded indifferently and casually changed the subject again.
Shen Dehan was unconscious for a long time this time and did not wake up until midnight.
With great effort, he opened his eyes and was reminded of where he was by the white colour everywhere around him. Habitually scanning his surroundings, Shen Dehan struggled to find Shen Ji, but after looking around he found the ward empty; he was alone there.
The words he heard before he fainted flashed through his mind, and Shen Dehan struggled to sit up, only to discover to his horror that something was wrong with his body and he could not feel his left side.
He panicked and stretched out his right hand, trying to grab the railing of the hospital bed and sit up, but he overexerted himself and fell to the floor with a thud.
There was a sharp pain in his body, and the floor felt cold under him, an infinite chill spreading through his entire being. Shen Dehan lay there gasping for breath, his face twisted from the effort. It was not an illusion, the left side of his body was really unresponsive.
Shen Bixue got the news of Shen Dehan’s stroke by a phone call at 3am.
Hearing the ear-piercing phone ring, Shen Xi buried his head in Li Mingxuan’s arms in annoyance, “Is it dawn yet?”
Li Mingxuan patted Shen Xi soothingly and picked up the phone.
After hanging up the phone, Li Mingxuan looked at Shen Xi and said softly, “Uncle has had a stroke, the left half of his body is unresponsive. The doctor said that in a situation like Uncle’s, it may take a long period of treatment and recuperation before he can return to his original condition, but in the short term, Uncle will not be able to move as usual.”
All of Shen Xi’s sleepiness was chased away by this news, and he quietly lay in Li Mingxuan’s arms, hiding the complex look on his face.
Li Mingxuan could not guess Shen Xi’s current mood and slowly reached out to pat him, whispering, “Xiao Xi?”
Shen Xi answered with a muffled “en”, got up and dressed quickly, gesturing for Li Mingxuan to go to the hospital with him.
Li Mingxuan gave Shen Xi a quiet look and accompanied him.
By the time the two arrived at the hospital, Li Xiyong was quietly standing in the corridor with Li Mingfei, and Shen Ji was sitting there alone with his head down, the look on his face impossible to see.
The two greeted Li Xiyong gently, who nodded in reply, as Li Mingfei quietly squeezed up to Li Mingxuan’s side.
“Big Brother, Cousin.”
Li Mingxuan nodded and asked in a low voice, “Where is Mother?”
Li Mingfei replied in a low voice, “Uncle has been throwing a tantrum, Mother is inside with him and we were all kicked out.”
Li Mingxuan looked around and found no sign of Shen Cheng, “Where is Ah Cheng?”
Li Mingfei shook his head, “I don’t know, Cousin Shen Cheng hasn’t come.”
Li Mingxuan’s brow furrowed and he was about to go and talk to Shen Ji when suddenly there was Shen Dehan’s angry shout from in the ward, “Get out!”
The door was gently opened and Shen Bixue walked out with a worried look on her face. The eyes of everyone were immediately drawn to Shen Bixue as they gathered around her.
Shen Xi stood quietly a little apart, looking straight in through the gap in the ward door. Shen Xi saw his father’s gloomy face and the corners of his mouth curved up in a swift arc as he said in an inaudible voice, “Retribution!”
Inside the ward, Shen Dehan’s face distorted.