Edited by Planetes
Li Shuo’s mind momentarily blanked out.
Those few words had almost turned into a blur in front of his eyes. He tapped forcefully on the dial button, but as expected, the phone was already switched off. In anger, he kicked at the table’s leg, then called his own assistant.
The phone rang for a long time before it was answered. Li Shuo had long forgotten that it was currently in the middle of the night in China, and he immediately roared once the call connected. “Where’s Li Chengxiu?!”
The assistant was stunned. Not because he had just woken up, but because after having worked for Li Shuo for over three years, he had never seen his boss so fierce before. Tremulously, he asked, “Ah… Li… Li Chengxiu?”
“Where is Li Chengxiu?!”
“He… He’s…” The assistant woke up a little more. “Isn’t he at home? I’ll be picking him up tomorrow and helping him move to the hotel.”
Li Shuo scrubbed his face, forcing himself to calm down. “Xiao Guo, sorry to make you do this now, but go to Li Chengxiu’s place right now. He might have left already.”
“He left? It was just earlier in the day that I contacted him over the phone, and we even agreed on the time to move.”
“Go, right now. Give me a reply once you confirm it.”
“Yes yes yes, I’ll go right now.” In a fluster, the assistant scrambled out of his bed.
After hanging up, Li Shuo paced about anxiously in his room, reading the message over and over again. Despite how calm and unruffled the words appeared, Li Shuo could still detect the taste of hopelessness within.
It was highly likely that Shao Qun had gone to look for Li Chengxiu, and threatened him with Li Shuo’s matters…
The past couple of days, he had always been worried that something would happen, and now, something did happen. It was not that he did not think Shao Qun would not seek trouble for Li Chengxiu, but he had thought that perhaps, after seeing Shao Qun, Li Chengxiu would feel even more disheartened about Shao Qun, and would thus be more willing to come to him.
In the end, he actually just left like that?!
Where would he go? Who would he seek help from? Would Li Chengxiu still keep in contact with Li Shuo?
Li Shuo felt as though his emotions were boiling over — worry, perplexity, anxiety, they all crowded his mind. If not for being so far away, that it was beyond his power to do something, he would not have been so nervous.
After waiting apprehensively in his room for half an hour, he finally received a call from his assistant.
Li Shuo was still holding onto a thread of hope. “So how is it?”
“There really isn’t anyone at home.” The assistant sounded as though he was about to cry from panic. “I asked the security, and they said that he moved out in the day, with his luggage. President Li, what are we going to do?”
Li Shuo shut his eyes, taking in a deep breath. “Book a flight for me, I’m coming back.”
“But Director Xiang said that you definitely cannot come back…”
“Ignore that, book a flight at…” Li Shuo calculated the shortest amount of time he needed to quickly return to New York, pack up, and reach the airport. “Seven.”
“Go and seek out all transport information we can gather immediately. We must find Li Chengxiu.”
Li Shuo rubbed his temples hard. Tossing his phone to a side, he started packing his bags.
There was no time to deliberate over things. Even if Li Chengxiu wanted to break up with him, and he would rather leave than come to the United States, the pain and hopelessness Li Shuo could detect from the message were enough to let him understand that Li Chengxiu needed help right now. At this time, how could he be happily on vacation?!
Hastily packing up his things, he picked up his bag and headed downstairs.
As he opened the door, Zhao Jinxin just happened to be about to knock on the door. His hand, up in the air, had yet to even fall back down, and his eyes drifted down, noticing the carry-on luggage in Li Shuo’s hand. “Where are you going?”
“I’m going back to China.” Li Shuo strode past him, leaving.
Zhao Jinxin held onto his shoulder. “What’s going on? Why are you in such a hurry?”
“I don’t wish to explain it. In any case, there’s something urgent that has cropped up, and I have to return immediately.” Li Shuo moved to push Zhao Jinxin away.
Zhao Jinxin grabbed Li Shuo’s arm, bringing it to the front, then wrapped his right arm around Li Shuo’s neck. He was basically embracing him, and then he spun and dragged Li Shuo back into the room.
That series of actions was too quick, too deft. Before Li Shuo was able to react, Zhao Jinxin had already kicked the door close. Although he did not know any martial arts, Li Shuo felt that this move seemed like a gentler, modified version of Qinna. Despite the grip on his neck, he did not feel suffocated, but neither was he able to free himself.
Very quickly, Zhao Jinxin released him. However, he still blocked the door as he looked at Li Shuo with a smile.
Li Shuo dropped his luggage, asking angrily, “What are you doing?! I really have something urgent to attend to!”
“You agreed that you’ll be drinking with me tonight,” Zhao Jinxin said guilelessly.
“Can you understand the severity of the matter?”
Zhao Jinxin shrugged, speaking solemnly, “I don’t know what is going on for you in China, but did you forget the risk you’ll be taking if you go back now?”
“I know, but I have to return.”
“This has nothing to do with you.”
Zhao Jinxin spread his arms open, smiling. “If you won’t say it, then I won’t let you go. Darling, you really wouldn’t be able to beat me in a fight.”
Li Shuo clenched his fist. Right now, he truly was not in the mood to test the veracity of Zhao Jinxin’s words. Exhaling harshly, he said, “Li Chengxiu might be missing.”
Zhao Jinxin froze. “What?”
Li Shuo was frustrated. “You won’t get it. In any case, I have to return to China now, so move.”
Zhao Jinxin’s feet remained fixed to the ground as he continued obstructing the door. “Missing? Why?”
“What does this have to do with you?!” Li Shuo raised his voice. “He left after sending a message. Things might be very serious now, so can you be a little more sensible?!”
Zhao Jinxin’s expression shifted. “He left? He left on his own initiative?”
Zhao Jinxin paused for a bit, before asking, “Since he has left, what’s the point of you returning?”
“Whether you return or not, if he can be found, he would be found. If he can’t be found, he won’t be found,” Zhao Jinxin interrupted. “However, if you return, and something happens to you, would you still be able to spare the energy to search for him? Going back, you’ll just be creating more trouble.”
Li Shuo was left without an argument.
Zhao Jinxin walked over, pressing down on his shoulders, signalling him to take a seat. “Calm down first. It’s only been slightly more than an hour since you returned to your room. That means that it’s only been a short while since you received the message and made your decision. Don’t you think that you’re too impulsive, too reckless?” His voice was gentle and calming, carrying with it a strength that put people at ease.
Li Shuo stared blankly at the carpet. His stiff spine slowly relaxed, accompanied with a sigh.
Zhao Jinxin crouched down in front of him, holding his hands with a smile. “Actually, if you just think through it a little more, you will be able to think clearly. Don’t be anxious, don’t act impulsively. Behaving like this, you’re completely unlike the usual Li-shushu.”
Li Shuo managed a smile. With everything being said, of course he could see it for himself. He truly could not return. With regards to the matter of searching for a person, what he could do was spend money and look for people who could help him, and these could just be done with a call over the phone. If he were to return and actually be detained, would he not end up receiving attacks from every side, and it would be difficult for him to juggle so many things at once.
However, his mind was in chaos right now, and he could not bear to just sit there.
Zhao Jinxin kneaded his palms. “If only this anxiety was for me.”
At that moment, Li Shuo was unable to meet Zhao Jinxin’s eager gaze. He averted his eyes, standing up.
Zhao Jinxin was very different from their first meeting. The first time they met, this man was frivolous, unrestrained, and like a gorgeous viper, drawing closer and closer. As such, he was only suitable for viewing from a distance. Later on, Li Shuo discovered that he liked to seek pampering, he liked to act shameless, liked to flirt. However, all these were controlled within a certain boundary, and did not make him feel annoyed. He would often even feel that he was rather whimsical and adorable. As their interactions grew further, Li Shuo gradually felt troubled and lost with the admiration he expressed, and also detected the gentleness behind his flippancy.
His impression of Zhao Jinxin had risen swiftly from the ground. Now, because of his inability to respond to Zhao Jinxin’s passion, he even felt a trace of guilt.
Zhao Jinxin stood up as well. “I have quite a number of friends back home, and I’ll definitely help you look for him. At this time, don’t stand on courtesy with me. The most important thing is to find him, right?”
Li Shuo opened his mouth, finally nodding slowly. “Thank you, Jinxin.”
“You’re welcome.” Zhao Jinxin gently crook his finger under Li Shuo’s chin. “So, the two of you have broken up?”
Li Shuo froze slightly. “How can I have the time to think about that now?”
“Don’t avoid it anymore. Isn’t Li Chengxiu’s attitude obvious enough?”
Li Shuo turned his face away. “It must be very hard for him right now. Whether we’re breaking up or not, all I want for him is to live well, and I will always help him.”
“You’re truly such a good person,” Zhao Jinxin said lazily.
For an inexplicable reason, Li Shuo detected some sarcasm in those words. He thought that he was probably overthinking things, or perhaps, Zhao Jinxin was jealous.
Li Shuo shook his head. “Jinxin, let me be alone for a bit.”
“Alright.” Zhao Jinxin patted him on his shoulder. “Send all the information you currently have to my phone, and I’ll ask my friends to look for him. Don’t worry, we’ll definitely find him.”
Li Shuo nodded in gratitude.
As the sun had yet to rise in China, Li Shuo could only wait anxiously for news back home. Repeatedly, he thought over and over again about every single detail after knowing Li Chengxiu, and the more he thought about it, the more panicked he became.
He was a little unreconciled. He asked himself, he was a kind, disciplined person who had integrity, he had never done anything wrong in things or towards anyone, and he had always been rather popular, but why were his relationships always so unsuccessful?
Ignoring the childish relationships he had in his teens, his university boyfriend, whom he liked the most, and was the most like-minded with him, because of backing out at the last minute, refusing to go with him to Africa, they thus walked their own separate path. Over the years, no matter who he dated, he had always treated them sincerely, respectfully, but in the end, every single of them had only ended up in parting.
He was unable to confirm what exactly he had done wrong.
However, there was someone who told him frankly that he was too rational, and he could not feel his love.
That person was a rather eccentric young man whom he had once liked rather well, and it happened that he was also mutual friends with LI Chengxiu and him. Li Shuo took his phone out, dialling his number.
An extremely annoyed voice came from the phone. “Who’s that?”
“Xiaohui, it’s me, Li Shuo.”
“Mn…” The voice woke up a little. “Eh? Li-dage, you’re calling so late… so early, what’s going on? Waking up so early in the morning, one will keep dozing off in the day.”
A loud yawn was heard over the phone.
“Xiaohui, did Chengxiu come looking for you?”
“Recently, he hasn’t. However, he gave me a call today, saying that he was going to look for his relatives.”
“Which relatives, where are they?”
Wen Xiaohui clearly noticed something was wrong, and he asked anxiously, “He didn’t say anything, what happened?”
“He left. He sent me a message, then switched off his phone. Now, he can’t be found.”
“What?!” Wen Xiaohui yelled. “M-maybe he really went to look for his relatives? When he called me today, he sounded pretty normal. Maybe his phone just ran out of battery?”
“I’m afraid it might not be so simple,” Li Shuo said darkly. “If Li Chengxiu contacts you again, you must tell me immediately. Or, if you think of anywhere he might me, let me know too.”
“I-I-I-I’ll try to think of such places now.”
Li Shuo remained alone in his room just like this. In his sorry state, he sought all avenues to look for Li Chengxiu. In a blink of an eye, the afternoon passed. People in China were slowly waking up, yet there was still no news about Li Chengxiu.
Suddenly, a knock sounded on his door, pulling Li Shuo a little out of his darkness. He said, “Come in.”
The door opened, and Zhao Jinxin walked in with a smile. “It’s time to have a drink with me.”
Li Shuo said helplessly, “How can I have the mood…”
Halfway through his words, he changed his mind. Sometimes, alcohol could be a good thing. Like right now, he really wanted to get drunk properly.
Zhao Jinxin saw through his thoughts immediately. Winking, he said, “Come with me.”