Chapter 50: The Truth and the Escape
It wasn’t him?
I stood dazed, but soon understood.
Such murderous viciousness was employed to cause my death, while Lin Ye… Even if his hatred burned to such an extent, there was no way he would allow me to die before he made me acknowledge his anger. He would rather do it with his own hands.
I let his body go, and stepped back. He slid down the door all the way to the ground, like a worn-out and overused rag, with traces of myself still visible on his legs.
Who could it be, then?
Suddenly, I recalled He Ling’s words from that stormy night. Could it be that… someone made the attempt on my life to curry favor with Ye without informing him?
He still lay motionless. His once captivating eyes were now dull, dim, soulless pits, as if both his body and soul had died.
I studied his expression carefully… True, he could put on an act when required, but not one of such self-degradation.
So it really wasn’t him.
Or, he really didn’t know.
I walked into Lin Ye’s room and picked out some of the larger clothing for myself that proved to be too tight in the chest anyway. I spent some time to make sure I looked good from head to toe, before I left the room, but when I returned to the lounge, Lin Ye was still lying, like a victim of a seizure, in the exact same position I had left him.
I walked over and ordered, “Get up.”
His lips twitched on the otherwise motionless face, but in the end he said nothing.
I hauled him over onto the sofa, but, just as I was about to leave, he suddenly grabbed the corner of my shirt. When I looked down, I saw a face covered in tears. He asked, his voice so hoarse that I couldn’t recognize it anymore, “Do you really hate me that much?”
Did I hate him? Moments ago, when I misunderstood him, I certainly hated his cold-heartedness and his indifference to seeing me dead without even giving me a chance.
But now, I didn’t hate him. On the contrary, I had always been attracted to him. I had missed him so much over the past two years. The love for him had been the only one in my life that could make my heart throb.
But no such romantic sentiment mattered in the face of the fear of dying.
Since I was alive and inact, they would definitely come after me again.
I could again hear a car approaching from the distance, but this time, unlike when Da Biao had showed up, it arrived by the front door in a flash, engine roaring.
I walked to the window and saw a man get out of a Ferrari in a rush. His face was typically expressionless and eyes full of worry.
I did expect someone from Chu Yuan Jiang, but this…
I took the intercom call the moment the bell rang and I heard He Ling’s voice from the other side. “Ou Jiang Jun? If you trust me, come with me now. No time for explanations, this place is dangerous.”
I mused for a bit before asking, “Do you know who it was?”
This confirmed my speculations, and, after a brief moment of consideration, I said, “Coming.”
The conversation over, I looked back at Lin Ye on the sofa and saw that he was watching me too.
His eyes were like two once-dazzling pearls that time had robbed of all color, turning them into a pair of washed-out marbles.
After all we both done, there could be no right or wrong between us.
I approached him under that silent and desolate gaze, clamped his chin, and gave him a deep, passionate kiss. At first, he responded instinctively, but then bit on my lips. I stood up and wiped away the blood. Then, I untied his hands, and, giving him one last look, I left.
The sunlight outside was dazzling.
If Lin Ye was capable of hating me, so be it.
I had wronged him. I had made mistakes. No amount of apology or compensation would be enough to make up for that, or stop him from leaving me. But as long as I still owed him, our bond would not be completely cut off, just like in the past two years.
I strode over to He Ling’s car. He had the pedal to the metal and was racing away before I even managed to shut the door properly.
Soon, we were on the interstate.
He Ling was preoccupied with driving at high-speed, his eyes fixed on the road. Sweat soaked his palms, and drenched his back.
As if… As if it was his life that was threatened, instead of mine.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
He didn’t answer.
The sky gradually darkened. The passing scenery sped by us like ghostly shadows in the dusk.
Just when I thought I wouldn’t receive an answer, He Ling said, “I have another house in Z county’s countryside. That’s the only place where we can hide temporarily.”
That was two whole days worth of driving away from here. My heart sank. “So far…”
“The farther the better.”
“Did something… go wrong?”
Considering his power, if He Ling wanted to protect me, there was no need for much of a fuss, all that was required was some of his men. And even if he really needed me to hide, driving me to the hideaway personally was an overkill.
His unkempt hair stuck to his forehead, and he was breathing unevenly. “It’s all because of me. “
I tried to be as calm as possible. “Master He, you must be joking.”
“I am no longer a ‘Master’. It was Xiong Xi Liang who wanted to kill you, and I should have noticed that earlier… He has always been like this… Ever since we were young…”
I was astonished. This confirmed my suspicions, but I had thought that Xiong Xi Liang did it to curry favor with Lin Ye. After all, such a behavior was not uncommon amongst the aristocracy.
He Ling’s face was grim, as if there was a large burden weighing down on him. I hadn’t noticed until now, but his body was extremely tense. I could even see the bulging veins on his arms.
I gave him a forced, light-hearted smile. “He what?”
He Ling smiled bitterly with an audible sigh, and stopped talking.
Few moments of discrete observation allowed me to notice that his countenance looked very different from usual. Since I had gotten in the car, even though he still rarely displayed any facial expressions, he was no longer surrounded by an icy air, and his eyes seemed sorrowful.
Something must have happened, something major. But I was completely in the dark.
Soon, the night was upon us. We continued to drive in silence while the headlights were illuminating the road ahead. I asked again, “Why does Xiong Xi Liang want me dead?”
He Ling’s hands clenched onto the wheel. “Because of me. But I didn’t expect him to go this far this time.”
“I want to know the details. After all, this involves my life. Can you explain?”
He Ling slowly began to tell his tale in the pitch-black night. “We used to go to the same school, he and I. I was not very good at socializing, but, eventually, he became my friend. My first friend. After some time, I made a second one – an upperclassman who was the head of the student union. He took care of me a lot, but one day it was exposed that he embezzled the union funds and tampered with other students’ applications to the Party. This was a huge scandal from which he never recovered. The letter with the allegations was sent to the authorities in my name without my knowledge.
My third friend was a track-and-field athlete. He took part in a 400m hurdle race during our school games and somebody raised the height of the last hurdle he had to cross by few inches. He pulled a muscle, missed the subsequent national tournament, and lost his chance for a university sports programme invitation. Failing in normal exams, he ended up a delinquent on the streets.
After that, I felt as if someone was covertly watching me. Whenever I showed kindness to somebody, they would meet with misfortune. Gradually, my ability to trust anyone, or even smile at people, declined. And, all this time, Xiong Xi Liang was my only company…
By the time I joined the dots, he had become the only companion and light in my lonely life. I could no longer accuse him of anything…”
By the time He finished with his story, I was laying back in the chair pretending to be asleep.
“Sorry,” he said.
To be honest, I did start to doze off for real at some point.
In a semi-conscious state, my thoughts raced in my head and I was able to make some connections.
I hadn’t realized until now just how deep the trust I had already developed for He Ling was.
This probably came to be due to his insistence on finding out my true intentions despite countless opportunities to harm me. I had laughed off his attempts at the time, but, apparently, I had also subconsciously lowered my defenses.
Even though I felt he was cold, I also felt he was harmless in his core. That was why I had dared to disagree with and lie to him the first day that we met.
When I opened my eyes next, I could see the fires of dawn in the distance.
Seeing that I was awake, he told me in a soft voice, with bloodshot eyes. “You can get some food in the next town. Buy me a cup of milk too.”
Besides the food, I also purchased several Chinese newspapers.
I was completely bewildered in the newspaper section, shocked speechless.
I collected the newspapers and ducked into the car, shaking He Ling until he woke up from his nap. “What happened?” I asked.
He Ling slightly opened his eyes and glanced at the newspaper. “It’s basically true.”
I loosened my grip in defeat, finally understanding why He Ling chose to protect me in this way.
In the meantime, he woke up fully and restarted the engine.
“Let me drive. You should get some rest,” I said.
He Ling slowly drove out onto the street. “I modified this car myself. You won’t be able to drive it.”
“But your body…”
The corner of his lips dragged upwards into a smile. “I started racing when I was sixteen. Don’t worry, this is a piece of cake for me.”
As we got on our way again, He Ling watched me solemnly staring at the front page article. Master Xiong’s group had completely absorbed all assets of the He family.
“Don’t waste your time on this bullshit. Those journalists know nothing. I’ll explain what happened.”
I folded up the newspaper, all ears.
“The year before the last one, my father passed away. My time at the helm might have looked triumphant from outside, but the glory was waning after this. It was my old man who held everything together. Him, his connections, his circle of acquaintances. All those people gave me some face because I was his son, but once he was gone, I couldn’t quite manage the business. With the Lin family stepping in to exploit my hardships, I was left with less and less room on the domestic market…
At that time, Peter suggested that I move the business overseas. I didn’t know that he had already struck a deal with Lin Ye, and thought that he was honestly helping me out on account of our long-time friendship, so I listened to his advice and moved the business here. But little did I know that the documents he had me sign were full of legal traps, and, soon, everything went wrong… I would never have imagined that I would squander away all of my family’s wealth within a mere two years.
I never expected that he would turn against me, after all, he had helped me so much over all those years before. I was too naive…”
I stared amazed at his indifferent face as he narrated his fall…In the end, Our story turned out to be that of two people on the run, not one guy under the other’s wing.