Chapter 40: Master He’s Secret
I dragged Chu Yuan Jiang out of the crowd so fast he didn’t even have time to stop grinning and pushed him into the car to go home. His eyes were still beaming as he asked, “What happened?”
I slammed the door behind me and quickly drove out of the mansion courtyard. It took a couple deep breaths before I was ready to start explaining. “Those Xiong and He fellows are scheming against me. They want me to operate their mine, and they think I don’t have a clue that all the workers there are illegals smuggled into the States.”
Chu Yuan Jiang paused to consider my words, but then sneered. “What’s there to be afraid of? Once you take the job, you’ll find dirt on them too. It’s too early to say who’ll come out on top.”
I stepped harder on the accelerator. Chu, unperturbed, continued calmly, “Come on, what are you panicking for? That’s not scheming, that’s an offer to make money together. If you go, your only responsibility is taking your check.”
“And be the first one to get arrested when things blow up.” I paused for a second before adding, “I have already rejected his offer.”
Chu Yuan Jiang put a hand up on the window, suaveness incarnate, and looked at me. “Pussy. This is what people call ‘grabbing the gold in the fire’.”
I frowned. “Why do you think they choose me? There are so many people happy to risk their lives for money. Why not choose those desperados instead?”
Chu Yuan Jiang answered leisurely, “He wants you exactly because he knows you are not that type.”
I sighed. “I have been too nervous tonight. My brain is not functioning properly.”
Then I remembered something, “By the way, he talked about you too, and asked me how did we manage to stay together for so long. Why would he need to know that…?”
That dazed Chu as well, but he soon smiled, clearly having figured it out. “Have you ever heard…”
I frowned and interrupted. “Those rumors? They are just a smokescreen to cover the fact that he is too close with that Xiong guy… Who knows what really lurks behind that cover.”
He gave me a meaningful look. “Doesn’t make them completely unfounded.”
“Come on, don’t you know better? Gossip can write a whole saga based on one fleeting glance. People even say there is something between us. Do you think I didn’t see those pretty boys trying to get your attention at the party?”
Chu Yuan Jiang burst into laughter, “Do they now? And you dragged me away before I could even explain?!”
Chu Yuan Jiang made fun of me as if he had everything under control, but I was short on patience tonight. “What the fuck is wrong with this world?”
“I’m telling you, Master He was just jealous.”
I watched as the scenery rushed past the car windows, struggling to agree with that comment.
Young Master He’s real name was He Ling, and some said his relationship with Master Xiong was queer.
There was a lot of rumors around that pair, enough to put together a complete, and logically consistent, story of undetermined credibility about the two of them.
Supposedly, they were classmates from middle school. In that school, one full of princelings thinking of themselves highly, the unfriendly atmosphere around a very reserved He Ling stopped everyone but Xiong Xi Liang from befriending him.
When the kids grew old enough to understand the importance of connections and friendships, there was no longer room for anyone else by He Ling’s side.
Later, Xiong went abroad, got married, and changed his nationality. No longer Xiong Xi Liang, but Peter, he took advantage of his connection to He Ling and made a fortune, becoming Master Xiong of now.
A simple story, but one with plenty of room for wild suspicions.
He Ling was born with a cold personality. He had only ever trusted one person. A person who was after the power of his family.
He was not a fool. Ever since Xiong, he had become even more guarded, inhumanly so in fact. The already opened heart couldn’t be easily shut, though, so he remained on friendly terms with Xiong somehow. Yet Xiong Xi Liang got married and obtained a family. All this had turned He Ling more and more cruel, and made him act as if everybody in the world owed him. However, that cruelty was only targeted at others, never at Xiong Xi Liang.
I found the whole relationship strange. Each year, their mutual deals were worth gigantic money, many of them illogical from a business standpoint. They used that ‘friendship’ of theirs as a masquerade to cover many thought-provoking secrets. In the end, nobody could know who was on the stage, and who was in the audience.
“Ha, you think he is jealous of us?” The thought was rather amusing.
Chu Yuan Jiang raised an eyebrow, and laughed, “If he really is jealous of us, it’s well deserved. Unfortunately for him, he can’t be one of us no matter how jealous he gets.”
After we arrived home and I helped Chu Yuan Jiang get into the door, he immediately took off his coat and headed to the bathroom. Once there, he squatted in front of the toilet and induced vomiting with a toothbrush.
I stood by his side, stroking his back to help him relax. “So you do actually know that alcohol is bad for your body…”
He sniffed, and pushed me out to take a shower. Halfway through the ablutions, he stuck his damp head out of the door, yelling, “Junzi, make me some noodles so that I can warm up my stomach.”
I was well under way to cook some when I heard him yelling. The boiling water was already steaming on the hob. I wiped my hands, walked to the bathroom, and leaned on the door frame. “What a waste of food. You’re wasting dinner,” I complained.
I suddenly remembered something(you left the noodles on the stove, Master Ou), and asked, “Hey, do you think Master He is jealous of you, or me?”
Chu’s voice mixed in with the sound of water. “He has talked to me maybe three times, if that, and he asks to see you every time. What do you think?”
“Maybe he’s just curious about me. After all Lin Ye and I were…”
“Never mention that name.”
This left me speechless, so I just went back to the kitchen. Seeing the noodles were done, I got two large bowls of them ready. Chu Yuan Jiang came out of the shower in a bath towel at this exact moment showing off his robust, half-naked body.
“Your showering speed has increased considerably.”
“Well, if I took any longer, the noodles would goop together.”
He sat down at the dinner table. The steam from the noodle bowl made him narrow his eyes. “Come Junzi, let’s eat.”