In truth, “ex” isn’t the best word to describe him.
Li Luo remembers that only after he leaves the banquet.
During those years when Li Luo pursued Duan Mingyang, Duan Mingyang never once accepted him.
This makes it sound as though Li Luo was a pitiful wretch blinded by love. In reality, before the day they revealed the truth to each other and went their separate ways, Li Luo had always thought Duan Mingyang was the pitiful one.
Because, the reason Li Luo pursued Duan Mingyang wasn’t something like love at first sight. Instead, it was a childish, impulsive revenge.
At the time, the Li family was the wealthiest of the city, while the Jiang and Duan families followed right after. He was the only son of Li Zhenghong, a tycoon of the business world. Having grown up surrounded by everyone’s love, he was naturally somewhat wilful and reckless in terms of personality. However, with his background, as long as he didn’t violate the law, there’d be people cleaning up after him no matter the ruckus he raised.
Thus, the first fifteen years of Li Luo’s life were smooth as still water — the word “frustration” didn’t even exist in his vocabulary.
Until he was turned fifteen, and his parents divorced abruptly.
This would come across as a shock to any teenager. He was upset, hurt, and lost; he grabbed onto his mother’s clothes, refusing to let her go; he asked his father hysterically why she was leaving them.
Yet, Li Zhenghong only patted Li Luo’s head in grief. “It’s my fault.”
The boy didn’t understand the pain and helplessness behind the man’s words, taking them as truth.
Their relationship deteriorated from that day on. This was especially so after he discovered his father’s ambiguous relationship with a male subordinate one day; he was certain that it was the reason his mother left him.
But no matter how ferociously Li Luo protested, Li Zhenghong never dismissed the subordinate. He never clarified the real reason behind the divorce, either.
The father’s silence didn’t alleviate the two’s relationship, instead shattering the love that had already been wavering between them.
And thus, the spur-of-the-moment revenge ensued.
Li Luo still remembers that day. Lost and listless, Li Luo sat through his classes, his head muddled by the English jargon used by the professor. He was probably not in too clear a state of mind, or else he wouldn’t have come up with the sudden idea of driving his sports car to a gay bar near his college.
His goal was to find a man and annoy Li Zhenghong, who had been introducing wealthy young ladies to him.
You fucked around with men, drove my mom away, tainted the sanctity of marriage, and still want me to follow the rules and have an arranged marriage according to your plans?
You must be dreaming.
Yet, the moment he arrived at the bar, an intense wave of electroacoustic music surged toward him, along with the clamor of human voices. Li Luo’s eardrums ached. He almost turned around and left right then.
His usual bars were countless times fancier than this, their atmosphere quiet and the lighting soft. Their customers were also either wealthy or influential, and an elegant air accompanied the wine-tastings and casual conversations. Not a single trace of the neon lights and roaring pop music that were found here were seen there.
But immediately after, a few more people entered and blocked his path of exit, urging him to move away from the entrance. Li Luo could only go inside the bar for now, and he intended to make do and look around for someone he deemed adequate.
His gaze swept over the room a couple of times. The flashing lights blurred the people’s features. He was unable to make out much of the details.
If he was really going to get a man to annoy his dad, he might as well find a good-looking one. It’d all be an act anyways. He wouldn’t really fall for somebody.
With a casual look, he found that there were many who looked decent. Most of them were foreigners.
He’d rather find someone who spoke Mandarin. If they could communicate easily, they’d be better able to collaborate when it came to fooling his dad.
At this point, the song ended. The indescribable lights retreated temporarily, and his vision cleared up slightly.
Li Luo walked a few steps toward the center of the room. Glancing around, he just so happened to see a figure moving through the crowd. His eyes brightened.
The target had black hair and black eyes. Wearing a monochrome uniform, he was quite conspicuous among the garishly dressed customers.
With his outfit, he should be nothing more than a waiter. However, his straight back, firm strides, lowered eyes, and pursed lips, they all made him look like someone powerful who had been driven into exile, hiding amid the commotion, bearing the humiliation.
There was a dark feel of nobility to him.
Li Luo clicked his tongue, tapping his chin.
Interesting. This one would do.
The waiter had just finished serving a tray of alcohol. Holding the empty tray under his arm, he walked toward the counter. Li Luo followed him with eagle eyes. Fixing his clothes and putting his hands in his pockets, he walked to the counter as well, wondering how much money it’d take to make his target comply.
Seventy thousand should be enough, shouldn’t it? It wasn’t that hard playing the role of a boyfriend. The cut-off was a hundred and fifty thousand; any more would be a little too shameless.
One needed to pass the dance floor to get to the counter. A new techno song had just begun. The unsatisfied men began swaying again, their wide movements blocking the path.
Li Luo had to move through the crowd to walk forward. When he almost reached the counter, the blinding lights above him throbbed — out of the blue, someone squeezed his ass.
“Sweetheart,” standing behind him, a bald guy with a tattooed arm spoke sleazily in Mandarin, “you look so pretty. Asian? We’re the same. Wanna have some fun with me?”
“… Have fun with my dick.”
“Ooh, hot. We’re getting to dicks already?”
The corner of Li Luo’s eye twitched.
Here was a free victim. It’d be such a shame to let it go to waste.
But there were many pairs of eyes here. It’d be a little troublesome if the cops came.
No matter how one behaved privately, one had to maintain some elegance on the surface. This was a tacit secret among the upper class.
Li Luo was especially good at this. At home, he could brawl with his dad, smashing plates and vases on the ground, but outside, he was still the young master of the Li family — graceful, confident, smiling — hiding every trace of his wilful nature. A director once said that he had talent in acting, as he was so able to conceal all emotions within his heart. He didn’t know whether or not the director was praising him.
Immediately, a thought flashed across Li Luo’s mind. He shrunk his neck slightly, arching his back to make his frame seem smaller. When he turned around, his eyes were lowered. With his long, thick eyelashes, he seemed to be a soft lamb, obedient and harmless.
He bit his lip and looked up at the bald man, his voice light. “Let’s go to the back door… There are less people there.”
There were usually no cameras at the back doors of bars. Even if he permanently wounded the other party, he wouldn’t be caught.
The bald man’s face brightened as he tried to wrap his arm around Li Luo’s shoulders, smiling perversely. “You want it so much? I like it. Let’s go, sweetheart.”
Turning to the side, Li Luo stealthily evaded the groping hand. Just as Li Luo got ready to head to the back door, his vision suddenly darkened. Someone had blocked his path.
“Sir, your dry martini is here.”
It was the waiter he was eyeing just now.
The waiter stood in front of Li Luo, his figure even taller than what Li Luo saw from afar. He held the silver tray steadily on his hand, but the colorless martini inside the glass swished and sloshed as if it had completed an arduous journey. The ice in the drink forced a chilly layer of condensation onto the body of the glass, and the waiter’s face was similarly cold.
“We don’t allow guests to take drinks outside the bar. Please finish it inside.” The waiter didn’t give the bald man a single glance and stared only at Li Luo, speaking in English, “If you are drunk or have any other difficulties, please let us know. We’d be glad to help.”
Of course, Li Luo understood what the words implied. He was a little surprised. The waiter was quite a nice person, wasn’t he?
Li Luo smiled at him. “Okay, I understand. I’ll finish it inside. Thank you for the reminder.”
“No problem.” The waiter nodded slightly and left them, returning to the counter. It seemed that he was going to make another drink.
So, this drink was on him?
Li Luo took a small sip from the brim of the cup. The cool liquor streamed down his throat, as warmth rose from his stomach.
It had been a long time since a stranger had last cared about him in such a way.
Normally, he didn’t have a shortage of love from family and friends. But in the past few years, his innocent childhood friends had started to become the kind of people to weigh gains and losses. Friendship was fractured by materialistic reality into one-third courtesy and two-thirds flattery. It had become a luxury to receive a pure love with no ulterior motives behind it, and there were only a couple of friends who still shared the same values as him.
As for family…
Li Luo let out a cold laugh before he downed the martini. A fire immediately ignited in the back of his throat.
His dad’s love for him was nothing more than guilt and compensation.
The bald guy was impatient. As Li Luo took his time, the man urged, “What’s so good about booze? Let’s hurry. I’ll give you something better later.”
“I’ll go return the glass. Wait for me in the back.” Li Luo licked his lips and sprouted a smile that was less than innocuous.
The bald man’s Adam’s apple bobbed. “Hehe… Don’t make me wait too long.” He turned around to leave.
Li Luo watched his back with cold eyes, sneering. “Looking for your death, aren’t you?” Holding the glass, he walked toward the counter.
The waiter was waiting for the bartender to finish making the drink, and he stood there, facing the side. With a tall nose bridge, deep-set eyes, and a jawline sharp as a blade, one could easily believe him to be the owner of the bar, if not for his uniform and tie.
“Hello,” Li Luo greeted him with a gentle voice, “here’s the glass. I…”
Before he finished, he suddenly tripped, falling straight ahead—
Only to crash into a firm chest, as expected.
“Are you alright, Sir?” The waiter’s low voice rang above his head, richer than even the martini he just had.
“I’m fine. I’m just a little dizzy… I think I drank too quickly.” Li Luo pressed his temple. He furrowed his brows as if he felt extremely uncomfortable, looking up to offer the waiter a strained smile. “Thank you for helping me out just now.”
They were impossibly close; he was basically in the waiter’s embrace. There was no stink of alcohol on the waiter, but rather a refreshing scent of soap. He must be someone who cared about cleanliness.
He never normally had such close contact with other people, much less a man. But, right now, he didn’t feel disgusted at all.
And he presumed, this guy probably felt something toward him as well? After all, the guy worked at a gay bar, and… Li Luo was ten-thousand-percent confident in the lethality of his own looks.
With his beauty and the monetary enticement that was going to occur later, he could probably get hold of a puppy that looked up to him as its master tonight. If it did whatever it was told, wouldn’t it be easy as pie to drive his dad mad?
“I thought I was minding somebody else’s business.”
The waiter asked, all of a sudden.
“Weren’t you going to head out with him?”
Li Luo’s scheming mind came to a halt.
… Why was his tone so cold? Shouldn’t it be all warm and gentle?
“I didn’t know how to turn him down…” Li Luo made something up and tossed the question back, “Why did you try to stop me, then?”
The nauseatingly sweet note of the word “then” made goosebumps crawl up even his own skin.
“It was just in case. I’m glad you’re okay.”
Not wavering the slightest before Li Luo’s devoted acting, the waiter stopped looking at Li Luo after he helped the latter upright. Taking the new martini that the bartender made, the waiter placed it onto his tray to take it to a customer.
This was the first time Li Luo doubted his own attractiveness.
Or was this guy blind?
“Wait!” He snatched the corner of the waiter’s clothes and quickly found a reason to make him stay. “How much was the drink you gave me? I’ll pay you.”
“No, it’s not…” He bit his lower lip lightly, tugging the waiter’s clothes flirtatiously. “Tell me, won’t you…? Or else, if you helped me and had to pay for it out of your own pocket, I’d feel really guilty.”
The waiter frowned slightly. “I’m a little busy right now. Wait until my shift ends.”
“Okay, sure!” At once, Li Luo unfurled a blossoming smile, like a naive boy who hadn’t experienced much of the world yet.
“I’ll be waiting for you!”
Back then, he had yet to find out that out of all the people in the room, he just so happened to choose the deadliest option.