First it was the painful sensation of his neck being punctured, then it was the feeling of water invading his nostril that caused Xiao Li to violently cough before gradually drawing him out of unconsciousness.
The light within the room was brightly lit and just the mere thought of making contact with it was unbearable. Although his eyes remained closed for the time being, he could hear a familiar voice sounding off at the side of his ear.
“What did I just say uncle?” Yan Ming proudly said, “He’ll be awake in three seconds.”
“There won’t be any harm to his body, right?” Li Shi Qing’s voice broke through the momentary silence, “Give Chen Wu another call to confirm this.”
Yan Ming clicked his tongue, then dragged out the next few words as he spoke, “How intimaaattteee.”
The sound of footsteps moving away was followed by the door being closed. Yan Ming seemed to have gone off to make a call.
Xiao Li opened his eyes and let it travel around the room in one loop before realizing that he was lying on a sofa in Li Shi Qing’s living room, with the owner himself sitting beside him.
The clock on the wall indicated that it was eight o’clock nighttime. Xiao Li frowned and tried to sit up but that struggled only made him discovered that his strength has not fully recovered yet. All his limbs were still limped and aching with pain, lacking all the power that he once had.
A shadow suddenly concealed his vision. Li Shi Qing leaned over his body to observe him closer with a rather stern expression that was hard to decipher.
“Qing Ye.” Xiao Li tried his hardest to turn his body over to the other side of the sofa in an attempt to move away from his control.
Li Shi Qing stretched his hand out and gripped his chin, turning his head back. His voice was unexpectedly calm as he spoke, “You’re not even going to say thank you?”
“Qing Ye, thank you for helping me get out.” Xiao Li uttered as he lied backward even further for the sake of avoiding Li Shi Qing’s hand. “But I don’t understa—“
“But I understand it very well.” Li Shi Qing withdrew his hands and said indifferently, “Carrying drugs on Lu Wu’s territory? Forgetting to properly handle it after taking it from Lin Zi? How many years do you think I’ve known you?”
“Qing Ye, I really—“ Before he could finish speaking, Li Shi Qing has once again leaned over even closer to him. As his breath fanned over his face, Xiao Li immediately closed his mouth and stayed silent instead.
However, Li Shi Qing did not budge as his eyes moved back and forth, taking in his features. Then suddenly he asked, “Are you blaming me?”
Xiao Li looked at him suspiciously.
“The promise that you’ve made was to always obey and never betray no matter what, but you’ve never said you won’t leave. When your brother attended a university in another province, I thought you would take advantage of it and leave.” Li Shi Qing lowered his voice, “I kept my guard up for a long time, but still you didn’t make any move. Then he went abroad and once again I thought you would leave the gang but instead, it was in that year that you had helped me gain control of both the major territories in the eastern region. I don’t understand, why now? What happened for you to want to leave the gang……for you to leave me?”
Xiao Li remained silent still.
“Are you blaming me?” Li Shi Qing sighed, “That day, Yan Ming accidentally said something, that I yielded to Lu Wu. Are you blaming me for not rescuing your brother from Lu Wu? Or are you blaming me for using Han Jia to do business with Lu Wu?” He suddenly smiled, “No wonder you tried to throw your life away by running off to Lu Wu’s territory. You’re clever. You must think that it’ll be the same as the last two times. That I wouldn’t dare let Lu Wu grasped any information that could be used against me so in turn I wouldn’t dare take you back from his grip either, right?”
Hearing that, Xiao Li finally spoke, “Qing Ye, you’re thinking too much.”
“You don’t have to lie to me. You didn’t even want your life when you went to save Han Jia. How can you not be blaming me?” Li Shi Qing slowed now his words, “But you should also understand my position. A small disturbance should not mess up a grand plan. There’s no benefit for the gang to oppose Lu Wu, but,” he reached out to lightly touch the scar on Xiao Li’s face, “You’re different.”
Looking at the darkness that muddled in his eyes, Xiao Li was struck with a sense of fear that was impossible for him to evade. Li Shi Qing has already pressed heavily down on his body, caressed his neck and kissed his lips.
Although Xiao Li regained some strength back, the posture that he was in now made it impossible for him to avoid it. All he could do was clenched his teeth and passively resist it.
Noting this, Li Shi Qing laughed with disdain. Both his hands pressed hard on either side of Xiao Li’s cheek bones. All Xiao Li could feel now was a sharp pain digging into his nerve, forcing his mouth open without his approval before it was greeted with an assault by Li Shi Qing’s tongue.
Li Shi Qing is an experienced person, but the moment his breath became heavy, his excitement was all too obvious. His tongue swam in Xiao Li’s mouth, constantly changing its method to tease him. Xiao Li’s chin was held down firmly, making it simply impossible for him to swallow. When he heard Li Shi Qing deep muffled groan emerge from his throat without restrain, and the enjoyment that ride his face, Xiao Li’s brows tightened as he struggled to get free.
While the two was entangled with one struggling and the other trying to maintain control, a very uncomfortable cough sounded from the other side of the room.
When Li Shi Qing unwillingly picked his head up for a look, Yan Ming was standing at the side of the door, deliberately wearing a face of disbelief. He lifted the phone up into the air. “Uncle, I’m not intentionally spoiling anyone’s fun. But Lu Wu wants his reward for lending his people out to assist you.”
Looking at Xiao Li, Li Shi Qing snorted and said to him, “You best not forget this, for your sake, I had to compensate Lu Wu with that territory.” After those firm words, he gave Xiao Li another glance. He exerted all his strength into his hands and without avoiding Yan Ming’s gaze, he lowered his head and softly bit Xiao Li’s lips again. Afterwards, he whispered at the side of his ear, “As soon as I get back from the other province, move here.”
Done with his words, he got up, and walked out. Yan Ming wanted to follow him but Li Shi Qing waved his hand and instructed him, “You can stay here and accompany Xiao Li. Don’t let him run around.”
As Yan Ming followed behind to see him off as formality, Xiao Li slowly moved his limbs around and sat up from the sofa. He immediately wiped his lips with the back of his hand in disgust. But being unable to wipe away the shameful feeling that lingered, he wanted to simply rush out and rinse his mouth. Just as he was able to control his legs and stood up, he saw Yan Ming returned.
Yan Ming stood planted near the door. He fished out a small box of cigarette while looking at him with a questioning glance.
When Xiao Li shook his head to decline, Yan Ming lit a stick of cigarette for himself. The cigarette hung loosely in his mouth as he looked around the room and went to sit at the sofa opposite of Xiao Li.
This time, there was no cynical expression lining his face, instead it was replaced with a type of gloomy self-confidence, surprisingly similar to that of Li Shi Qing.
He lightly let out a puff of smoke and look at Xiao Li through it. Then slowly spoke, “If you’d done it with me early on, you wouldn’t have suffered this kind of anger.”
With a wooden expression, Xiao Li turned away.
Yan Ming snorted, “My unlucky Uncle still thinks that you went to seek death in the other province because you want to leave the gang. Tsk, even if he was told the truth, I’m afraid he still won’t believe it.”
Xiao Li stood up again and coldly said, “If there’s nothing else, I’ll be leaving first.”
“Do whatever you want.” Yan Ming inhaled a puff of smoke, “As long as you’re in the city when my uncle returns, that’ll be good enough.” He gave a malicious smile, followed by the sound of laughter, “By the time he returns, I’m afraid your surname will also be the same as his. Hahaha.”
Paying no attention to his implication, Xiao Li slowly walked towards the door. Once he arrived, he heard Yan Ming cold and harsh voice transmitted throughout the room again.
“Since you’re not willing to do it with me, you better control your mouth well. Understand what you should say and what you shouldn’t say. You also know that your brother…to simply put it, is a huge target.”
Xiao Li’s mouth tense as he walked out of Li Shi Qing’s villa.
Once outside, the sky was gloomy, the air was stuffy as if a huge rainstorm was lurking about, just waiting to pour at any given moment. He lowered his head and continued to walk underneath the lingering shadows of the dark clouds. Although his strength was gradually returning, his steps became even slower instead.
A burst of warm wind blew by, bringing him to a stop. He felt around the inner pockets of his suit, pulled out his cellphone and turned it on. With just one name in mind, he dialed that number.
“Qi Xiu Yuan.”
As the ringtone came to a stop and the beeping sound prevailed instead, he could sense that his voice was hoarse and beaten into tiredness.
“Answer the phone, answer the phone, answer the phone ah………”
Qi Xiu Yuan had thrown his phone somewhere. After receiving Susu’s call, he hastily rushed out to her but by the time he arrived, there was no one in the public phone booth. It did not take long for his mind to be swallowed by panic as he jumped out of the taxi and searched around the area.
The sky seemed to burn an angry dark color, bringing with it a stuffy depressing feeling, as if warning of the pending downpour that would crush all that roam outside. There were not many pedestrian out at this time. Qi Xiu Yuan grabbed two people that walked by and asked if they had seen any girl dressed like Susu around. Letting their guard up, they looked him up and down before shaking their head.
He continued walking forward along a quiet road in search of any signs of her. After some time had passed, he finally saw of glimpse of Susu’s shadow in a narrow street a distant away. There was a hand stretched out from a black car parked at the side of the road pulling Susu’s hand, as if trying to yank her inside, while Susu was struggling with all her might against the attacker.
“Susu!!” Qi Xiu Yuan shouted and ran towards her.
When the person inside the car saw him rushing over at such a quick speed, he immediately released Susu’s hand, causing her to fall heavily to the ground. By the time Qi Xiu Yuan was close enough, the car had already drove off.
Unable to stop the car, Qi Xiu Yuan tried to help Susu, who was paralyzed on the ground, to sit up. However, having suffered this kind of horror, her face was deathly pale as she sat trembling in fear, unable to force herself up.
Seeing her in this state, Qi Xiu Yuan felt distress and anxious squirm into his chest. All he could do now was pick up his sister and help her walk. Once they made it to a street with more people around, he hailed a taxi and went straight to the hospital.
During the entire ride, Susu’s eyes were wide open as she stared at nothing in particular. The only thing crowding her eyes was fear, fear that caused her to firmly gripped her brother’s shirt, refusing to let go. Even when Qi Xiu Yuan asked her what happened, she remained silent, letting all the words stay in her voice box.
Once they were at the hospital, her emotional state became a bit better. After examining her, the doctor informed them that Susu was under extreme fear which caused her heart to beat irregularly. He gave her some sedative to calm her down before calling Qi Xiu Yuan outside the room and telling him that some patients who suffer from extreme shock or fear can be afflicted with physiological harm, so it was necessary to pay close attention to them.
After carefully listening to the doctor’s words, Qi Xiu Yuan returned to the room. Upon seeing Susu sitting on the patient bed with her head hung low, soullessly waiting for him, he couldn’t help but to blame himself.
Looking at her, he walked over, caressed her hair and softly said a few words to her. Although Susu obediently answered, she was only unwilling to listen to anything that had to do with the black car. A while later, the sedative kicked in causing Susu’s consciousness to wan into fuzziness. Qi Xiu Yuan let out a sigh of relieve, placed his sister on his back and carried her out of the hospital.
On the way home in the taxi, Qi Xiu Yuan could feel the tiring strain of having been dragged around for nearly the entire day crashed down on him. Before his life with his sister was simple with no complaints from anyone, let alone enemies that held grudges against them. Recently, the only two suspicious people that he has encounter were Sun Ze Yu and Li Shi Qing.
If Sun Ze Yu wanted to kidnap Susu in order to threaten him as to make him keep his mouth shut, wouldn’t that action alarm the Ministry of Public Security and affect his position? If it was Li Shi Qing’s doing, could it be that something happened to Xiao Li and he was somehow implicated which in turn caused Susu to be involved as well? In that case, if he were to report this to the police, wouldn’t it infuriate Li Shi Qing even more and put Xiao Li at a disadvantage?
Letting his mind wander, he searched his side pocket with the intention of giving Sun Ze Yu and phone call, but instead, he realized he doesn’t even know when his phone had gone missing. Recalling that he has been panicking and running around all evening, he doesn’t even remember where he had tossed it. He looked at his sister’s sleeping face. For a short while, he blamed himself for causing his sister to suffer this kind of horror but a moment later, he couldn’t help but to feel a creeping throb strike his chest as thoughts of Xiao Li swam into his mind. For so many days, he has been worried for Xiao Li, wondering over and over again whether he was safe now or not.
The moment he thought of Xiao Li, a sense of anxiety vigorously overtook him. It was obvious that Sun Ze Yu said those words to mess with him. That man’s intention was to take the anger that he has towards him and direct it to Xiao Li. Then there was Li Shi Qing, who early on had harbored those malicious feelings towards Xiao Li. Right now……Qi Xiu Yuan does not have the courage to guess what kind of torment Xiao Li could be facing. He clenched his teeth and pushed away all the thoughts that could dragged him further into the depth of anxiety and instead pondered on what steps he could take next.
By the time the car stopped in front of the step to his house, the rain has already sprinkled down from the night sky, taking over the entire city with it mighty force. Qi Xiu Yuan pulled his sister close in his embrace and rushed towards the stairs. As he walked up the stairs, all his thoughts were flying from one other corner to the next in search of what to do.
Since he has Han Jia’s contact information in his house, he could get in touch with him and find out Li Shi Qing’s address, then……he can ask a friend to come by to look after his sister. He has to…he must go find Xiao Li himself, but if Xiao Li was not at Li Shi Qing’s house and trapped somewhere else…if he were to appear and cause Xiao Li even more misfortune, if……
As the light near the stairs illuminate with the sound of his footsteps, Qi Xiu Yuan subconsciously raised his head. He halted, allowing his foot to remain glued to the ground as he blankly stared ahead.
Xiao Li was leaning against the wall near the door into his house with a stick of cigarette hanging loosely between his fingers. His head hung low in contemplation of something only he knew. When the lights lit up, his head rose. And the moment he saw Qi Xiu Yuan, a warm expression painted across his face before his chest moved just the slightest, revealing the obvious relieve that filled him.
Letting his eyes capture the image of the lone figure in front of him, Qi Xiu Yuan could not find any strength to move. His sister’s weight weighed on his back still. As Xiao Li’s silhouette appeared even more distinct, the accumulation of fear, uneasiness, anxiety and the blame that had long crushed him, suddenly vanished like smoke into thin air. He smiled and felt a surge of courage rushed into his body once again, so much so that he could deal with any challenge ahead.