When Shen Xi received the news that Zhou Mingmei had been kicked out of the hospital by Shen Dehan, he was waiting for Lu Gesen at the cemetery.
After hanging up Lao K’s call, Shen Xi looked at his mother’s photo on the tombstone with complicated eyes. When he first arranged for Chu Qianqian to appear beside Shen Dehan, he did so not only to alienate Shen Dehan and Shen Ji, but also to avenge his mother’s grievances she had suffered because of Zhou Mingmei. Now that Zhou Mingmei had finally tasted what it was like to be treated like a treasure in the name of true love and discarded when the interest was lost, he got to realise that his mother might not be what he remembered and that she didn’t love his father as much as he thought. At some moment, another man appeared in her life. She was pregnant by him and even planned to leave the Shen family. Shen Xi wondered what his mother was going to do about him. Would she take him away with her? Or would she leave him alone in the Shen family?
Shen Xi stood there quietly, forcing himself to stop thinking about it. No matter what plans her mother had had at the time, she still ended up leaving him alone in the Shen family’s house.
“Xiao Xi!” Lu Gesen’s voice interrupted his thoughts.
Shen Xi turned back as if nothing had happened, “Cousin!”
Lu Gesen nodded, bent down and placed the lilies of the valley in his hands in front of the tomb, then got up and turned to Shen Xi, “How are you doing?”
Shen Xi smiled lightly, “Fine.”
Although the two had long recognized each other as relatives, they were not close. On the one hand, they both deliberately kept their distance from each other to prevent anyone from finding out about their relationship. On the other hand, despite their close blood ties, the years of estrangement could not be made up for in just half a year’s time together. Although Lu Gesen felt guilty for ignoring Shen Xi all these years and wanted to make amends, he did not know how to start.
Thinking that it was Shen Xi’s initiative to ask for a meeting this time, Lu Gesen said with concern, “Is there something wrong?”
Shen Xi nodded. He had already pieced together the general truth about the Han and the Shen families’ past. He also felt Lu Gesen had the right to know the truth. Regardless of who was right and who was wrong, he had an obligation to tell Lu Gesen about the past. Apart from that, he wanted to meet Wang Changlin. Lao K had been unable to find out who the man next to his mother was, but since Wang Changlin knew a lot about the past, maybe he had some clues.
It was not that Shen Xi hadn’t thought that Wang Changlin was that man, but subconsciously he didn’t want to think so.
After letting go of any distracting thoughts about Wang Changlin, Shen Xi told Lu Gesen the story he had pieced together. Lu Gesen’s expression changed several times as he listened, and halfway through, he even looked at Han Rou’s picture on the tombstone with complicated eyes. When Shen Xi had finished, Lu Gesen took a deep breath and looked serious, “Xiao Xi, are you sure this is the truth?”
Shen Xi nodded, “Some of these things I found out, some of them were told to me by others. Don’t worry, that person would never lie to me.”
Who was that person? Shen Xi didn’t say, and Lu Gesen didn’t ask either. Outsiders didn’t know that Shen Xi and Li Mingxuan were together. When Lu Gesen heard how certain Shen Xi was, he didn’t say anything, just lowered his head in silence, thinking about something.
Shen Xi’s account of the past was almost identical to what his foster father had told him, except that his foster father had not mentioned some details. Maybe his foster father did not know either?
Lu Gesen sorted out his thoughts and looked at Shen Xi, “Father’s car accident?”
Shen Xi shook his head, “I couldn’t find any clues.”
Lu Gesen was convinced that Han Yu’s car accident was the work of the Shen family, but Shen Xi could not find out anything about it. Even though Shen Dehan called Han Yu crazy, Shen Xi could not see that Shen Dehan would be frenzied to this point.
Lu Gesen looked at Shen Xi and said in a deep voice, “I believe Foster Father.”
Shen Xi met Lu Gesen’s eyes openly. He was not trying to defend Shen Dehan, he just had doubts about the matter. After a moment, Lu Gesen was the first to avert his gaze, and Shen Xi said quietly, “I want to see Lawyer Wang.”
A hint of surprise flashed in Lu Gesen’s eyes as Shen Xi continued calmly, “I have not been able to find out who the man at my mother’s side was back then. Lawyer Wang knows a lot about what happened and used to pay attention to my mother. I want to know if he has any clues.”
Lu Gesen’s face could not hide his shock; then he laughed bitterly, “Foster Father was deeply in love with Aunt, won’t you make him sad asking about it?”
Shen Xi looked at Lu Gesen apologetically, “I know it’s difficult, but I want to know the reason why my mother jumped out of the window. I want her to truly sleep in peace.”
Lu Gesen could not argue with Shen Xi and sighed silently, “I will convey this to Foster Father.” Shen Xi gave him a grateful look.
The two did not linger much longer at the cemetery, but walked one after the other towards the entrance. As they parted, Lu Gesen seemed to think of something and called out to Shen Xi, “Xiao Xi’s birthday is coming up, what are the arrangements?”
The word “birthday” made Shen Xi’s heart stir and he subconsciously thought of his grandfather’s will. He had not mentioned the will in his previous narration, not because he was deliberately hiding it from Lu Gesen, but because he could not forget about Wang Changlin behind Lu Gesen. With this fleeting thought, Shen Xi shook his head, “There are no arrangements, I haven’t had a birthday for a long time.”
Lu Gesen felt guilty and thought of making it up to Shen Xi by celebrating his birthday.
“How about I spend your birthday with you? What does Xiao Xi want?”
Lu Gesen’s proposal stunned Shen Xi for a moment and Li Mingxuan’s image flashed through his mind.
“What? Not convenient?” Lu Gesen keenly sensed Shen Xi’s abnormality.
Shen Xi nodded slightly; Lu Gesen realised what was going on and smiled, “Are you going to spend it with your girlfriend? I didn’t even know that Xiao Xi had a girlfriend. Take me to meet her someday.”
A trace of weirdness flickered in Shen Xi’s eyes. He couldn’t quite equate the words “Li Mingxuan” and “girlfriend”, so he smiled and avoided the topic.
Lu Gesen didn’t think much about it; he just thought Shen Xi was being shy, patted Shen Xi’s shoulder and said with relief, “Xiao Xi has grown up.”
Lu Gesen was not actually much older than Shen Xi, but he always had a serious look on his face and seemed to be much more mature than Shen Xi. Hearing this elder-like tone from Lu Gesen, Shen Xi could not help but smile. As the two said their goodbyes, a black car slowly drove past the entrance of the cemetery and parked far away on the other side of the road.
Although this part of the cemetery was remote, people would often come to pay their respects, so neither Shen Xi nor Lu Gesen paid any attention to the car. After they left, Ye Han pushed open the car door and stepped out, looking thoughtfully at the direction the two had left. How could Shen Xi and Lu Gesen be together?
Because of Li Mingxuan, Ye Han did not consider Shen Xi a stranger; as for Lu Gesen, Ye Han had met him a few times when Lu Gesen was still Shen Ji’s assistant. As far as Ye Han knew, there was no intersection between the two of them, but just now it seemed that the attitude between them was very strange, not like ordinary friends.
After thinking about it, Ye Han dialled Li Mingxuan’s number and told him briefly what he had seen. He did not bring any subjective colouring to the story, but simply described it truthfully.
Unexpectedly, the opposite side of the phone fell silent, “Mingxuan?” Ye Han said worriedly.
“I’m here,” Li Mingxuan confirmed.
“There’s nothing wrong between you and Shen Xi, right?” Ye Han said tentatively. Just a few days ago Li Mingxuan had brought Shen Xi to his place for dinner; at that time the two looked very intimate with each other, not like there was any problem.
Li Mingxuan smiled bitterly, knowing what Ye Han was thinking. He didn’t believe that Shen Xi would cheat on him; it was just that at a time like this, Shen Xi and Lu Gesen appearing together, in connection with the series of things that had happened to the Shen family, made him start suspecting something despite himself.
With a silent sigh, Li Mingxuan did not answer the question and instead said, “Do me a favour?”
Li Mingxuan suppressed the idea of investigating Shen Xi and said solemnly, “Help me check Lu Gesen.”
Ye Han agreed without saying a word of objection. Unlike the Li family that was in business, the Ye family was a real power faction in the political arena. Although Ye Han, the youngest son of the Ye family, deviated from the expectations of the Ye family, not only having no interest in the career, but even opening a small private restaurant in Nancheng, but his word was the word of the Ye family. It was just a trivial matter to investigate a person.
After hanging up the phone, Li Mingxuan instructed his assistant not to let anyone disturb him and locked himself in his office alone.
Ye Han’s phone call was like a trigger, evoking hidden doubts in Li Mingxuan’s heart that could no longer be suppressed. He was not stupid. According to Ye Han’s description, it was not like Shen Xi and Lu Gesen had just met each other, so it could be ruled out that Shen Xi had purposely met Lu Gesen after knowing about the will. Li Mingxuan also knew the special significance of the cemetery to Shen Xi, so it was proof that Lu Gesen was not an outsider to Shen Xi.
Thinking about Lu Gesen’s excellent performance since he joined Shen Group last year, Shen Ji and Shen Cheng’s trust in him, and the series of events that had occurred at Shen Group over the past six months, Li Mingxuan pursed his lips up slightly and his expression became thoughtful.
An idea appeared in his mind. Shen Xi’s return to China coincided with the time when Shen Group’s accidents started. Li Mingxuan closed his eyes fiercely, not daring to think about it any further; nor did he want to think about it any further. As if to escape, he opened the drawer in front of him. Inside was the only photo of Shen Xi and him together. He didn’t know why but Shen Xi was very reluctant to have his pictures taken, and it was only on one occasion when he was in a very good mood that he agreed to take a picture with Li Mingxuan.
Li Mingxuan’s fingers traced Shen Xi’s smile in the photo. He seemed to feel that there was something behind Shen Xi’s smile that he could not see.
While Li Mingxuan was struggling alone in his office, Lu Gesen appeared in front of Wang Changlin.
After listening to Lu Gesen’s euphemistic expression of Shen Xi’s meaning, a trace of sadness flashed in Wang Changlin’s eyes and his hands could not help but tremble slightly.
“Foster Father?” Lu Gesen said worriedly.
Wang Changlin shook his head to indicate that he was fine, “Repeat what Shen Xi said again?”
With doubts in his heart, Lu Gesen said slowly, “Xiao Xi said that he wanted to find that man. He wanted to know why that man did not appear after Aunt’s death, he wanted to know if that man knew that Aunt had carried his child and then jumped to her death with this child. He wanted to know the real reason why Aunt committed suicide so that she could rest in peace in the ground once and for all.”
With every sentence Lu Gesen said, Wang Changlin’s face distorted more and more. By the time Lu Gesen had finished, Wang Changlin looked like he had suffered a huge blow, his whole figure full of an indescribable dejection.
“Foster Father?” Lu Gesen vaguely guessed what was going on.
Wang Changlin waved his hand, looking pale, “It is me who has wronged her.”
A sad smile appeared on Wang Changlin’s face, “Your aunt. That unborn child is mine.”
Although he had already vaguely guessed the truth through his foster father’s reaction, it was still hard for Lu Gesen to hide the shock on his face when he really heard his foster father say these words.
Wang Changlin gave Lu Gesen a sorrowful look, “Are you wondering why I didn’t tell you about it?” Without waiting for Lu Gesen to say anything, Wang Changlin laughed at himself, “What could I say to you? How useless I was, unable to protect the woman I loved? I could clearly see happiness beckoning, but still lost her in the blink of an eye. I just learned of the existence of that child when it disappeared from my life along with Xiao Rou. And after their deaths, I was in no position to even appear before Shen Dehan to question him about what had happened. I couldn’t protect her while she was alive, and how could I let her carry such dishonour after her death?”
Lu Gesen could not bear to see Wang Changlin in pain and interrupted him, “Foster Father, I am sorry, I should not have…”
Wang Changlin shook his head, full of guilt, “It is me who should say sorry, Gesen, it is me who has been using you all these years. I kept saying that I was trying to repay Elder Han for his kindness back then, I kept saying that I was helping you to avenge the Han family, but in fact I just wanted to avenge Xiao Rou. I am not qualified to stand up and do anything for Xiao Rou, I never was and I am even less now, I can only hide in the shadows. I…”
“Foster Father!” Lu Gesen hurriedly said, “You have not wronged me. Without you all these years, I don’t even know what I would have become. I’ve always been grateful to you for adopting me back then, and whatever you want me to do, I will do it.”
“Gesen!” Wang Changlin looked at him with complicated eyes.
Lu Gesen did not want Wang Changlin to be immersed in the pain of the past anymore, but thinking of Shen Xi, he hesitated, “And Xiao Xi?”
Wang Changlin smiled sadly, “You can ask Xiao Xi to meet you tomorrow. There are some things I’ve been holding in my heart for a long time. I have wronged them, both mother and son.”
Lu Gesen wanted to say something, but eventually swallowed his words.
He finally understood why his foster father’s feelings for Shen Xi were so complicated, and why he had helped him so much on the road to revenge. But when he thought that his foster father was the man that Shen Xi was looking for, he wondered if Shen Xi could accept this truth, and what Shen Xi would do.