Edited by Planetes
Back home, Li Shuo accompanied his mother baking, gardening, and preparing dinner.
They had two housekeepers, a gardener and a driver at home, but Mrs. Li loved baking cakes and biscuits, as well as tending to her plants. She was someone who greatly enjoyed her leisure activities.
They busied themselves until the evening. When Mr. Li came back home for dinner, he immediately asked, “Xiao Shuo, did you injure Jinxin’s hand?”
Li Shuo was rather embarrassed. “Mn, it was caught in the door of the car.”
“You were really too careless. Fortunately, he wasn’t injured badly. This afternoon, Lao Zhao had asked Jinxin to deliver some documents, and that darkly bruised hand made Old Zhao’s heart really ache.”
Anxious, Mrs. Li asked, “Did you send him to the hospital?”
“We went already.” Li Shuo felt ashamed. In the eyes of his parents, he had always been a son whom they never needed to worry about, even rely on. However, this trip home, because of Zhao Jinxin, such situations kept cropping up.
Mrs. Li chastised him, “Why didn’t you accompany him this afternoon? His hand was hurt because of you, shouldn’t you have taken care of him and make sure he was settled down before coming home?”
Mr. Li too chimed in, “Yes, he even had to drive himself down to the office today. Driving with just one hand, Manhattan’s traffic is so heavy, so dangerous. Xiao Shuo, do you have some prejudice against Jinxin?”
“No.” Li Shuo felt very helpless. “I went to his place and cooked for him before coming home.”
“Jinxin is living alone, and it’s going to be quite inconvenient for him. Don’t be unwilling to uphold your responsibilities just because of your prejudices.”
“Pa,” Li Shuo could neither laugh nor cry. “I’m already old enough to understand this.”
As they were speaking, Li Shuo’s phone rang. An ominous feeling welled up within him, and expected, it was Zhao Jinxin calling.
Mrs. Li caught sight of it next to him. “Oh, it’s from Jinxin.”
Bracing himself, Li Shuo answered his phone. “Hey, Jinxin.”
He was worried that Zhao Jinxin would be back to his coquettish tricks, and so pressed his phone desperately to his ear, afraid that there would be ambiguous sounds that would shock his parents.
“Li-shushu, I’m very hungry, my hand really hurts.” Zhao Jinxin’s lazy voice tickled his eardrum.
“Mn, alright. I’m currently about to deliver your dinner over.”
Zhao Jinxin laughed. “Tsk, are uncle and auntie next to you?”
“Mn, you’re right.”
Another laugh travelled through the phone. “Alright, then hurry up and come over.”
Zhao Jinxin chuckled lightly, “I’ve been thinking of you the whole afternoon.”
Hanging up, Li Shuo was met with his parents’ approving gazes. He was resigned to his fate, “I’ll send him his dinner.”
Li Shuo brought the four containers of food his mother prepared — which included dinner, soup, a cake, and fresh fruits — and went to Zhao Jinxin’s place.
Opening the door, Zhao Jinxin was leaning bonelessly against the door frame. Although he did not even move a finger, in his eyes were written coquetry.
Li Shuo wanted to laugh. “You must be hungry. Hurry up and eat.”
“You’re feeding me?”
“I’m feeding you.”
Li Shuo got some plates and bowls from the kitchen, transferring the food over.
“I did not deliberately tattle, alright? It’s my dad who wanted me to go in, and I had no idea Uncle was there.”
“It’s fine, you only told the truth, it’s not tattling.”
Zhao Jinxin’s eyes trailed audaciously along Li Shuo’s figure. As Li Shuo was bent over, his long legs and the waist revealed under his clothes made a person’s mind descend into filthy thoughts.
Li Shuo turned around. “It’s time to eat.”
Zhao Jinxin sat down. He did not look at the food, but into Li Shuo’s eyes. “Did you chat with Li Chengxiu when you went home today?”
“I did, why?”
“What did you talk about?”
“What’s the point for you to know about this?”
“Knowing the enemy, right?”
“Li Chengxiu isn’t your enemy…”
“Oh, of course he’s not.” Zhao Jinxin smiled, thinking, he’s my cousin’s partner.
“If you mention anything about him again, I’m not going to respond.” Li Shuo picked up a piece of fried egg. “Open your mouth.”
Zhao Jinxin took a bite, watching Li Shuo with a bright smile. “It’s delicious.”
“Thanks, my mom made it.” Li Shuo did not look directly at him. While he fed him, he himself too started eating.
Zhao Jinxin ate a few more bites, and started speaking aggrievedly, “Very few people would be so annoyed when being with me, I’m a little hurt.”
Li Shuo opened his mouth, but finally, he kept quiet, as he still was not used to hurting people with his words. Although he had come with his parents to the United States when he was a very small child, carved in his bones were confucianism ideals, that he should try to treat everyone kindly, with acceptance. No matter how Zhao Jinxin harassed him, he did not truly offend him, and so Li Shuo could only say, “I’m not annoyed. If we can have some more normal topics of conservation, just like how we spoke on the plane, I’ll be very happy chatting with you.”
“But whenever I see you, I feel that the atmosphere around me is no longer normal.” Zhao Jinxin blinked. “Have you ever been so captivated by a person before?”
Li Shuo froze, carefully pondering over it. His final answer was — no. He could not understand that passionate, self-sacrificial feeling, and he felt that people should be the master of their own emotions, or they would end up a slave. As a master, he could be like how he was now, forever accomplished, forever shunning trouble. As a slave… there was no need to list any examples, they could be seen all over the world.
“No.” Zhao Jinxin cocked a brow. “You’ve never been captivated by a person before.”
“This would depend on your definition of ‘captivated’. We’ve only known each other for a few days, and we’ve met less than five times. If you can be ‘captivated’ by me, then that only proves that captivation is a sort of impulsive desire with no significance to it, and there’s not much difference when comparing it to the desire for food.” Li Shuo scooped up a spoonful of soup, shoving it into Zhao Jinxin’s mouth.
“I really couldn’t tell that you’re such a boring person.” Zhao Jinxin licked the remnants of soup off his lips. “‘Captivation’ is a sort of passion, and like a drug, it can make people addicted.”
“We all know that drugs are harmful.”
“So you’ve never been ‘captivated’ by Li Chengxiu before.”
Li Shuo narrowed his eyes. “Twisting and turning about, what exactly are you trying to prove here?”
Zhao Jinxin blinked innocently. “I want to prove that there’s no point for you and him to be together. Darling, try it out with me.”
“Do you still want to eat?”
“Actually, I had a burger just now. I only wanted to see you.”
Li Shuo put the spoon down. Folding his arms and leaning back in his chair, he silently calmed himself down. He was afraid that he would be unable to control himself, and say something or do something bad.
Zhao Jinxin blew him a flying kiss, his smile bright and sunny, and very emboldened.
Li Shuo stood up, about to leave. However, he caught sight of the untouched medication on the coffee table, and pointed at them. “You didn’t take them?”
“Oh, I forgot.”
Li Shuo hesitated before walking over. He divided the medicine according to their dosages, and wrapped them up in tissue.
Motionlessly, Zhao Jinxin watched him. Because of his focus, Li Shuo’s handsome face became a little gentler, and Zhao Jinxin’s brows drew together slightly.
When he was done dividing the medicine, Li Shuo picked up Zhao Jinxin’s phone. While fiddling with it, he said, “I’ve set the alarms for you. At 9am, 3pm and 9pm, there would be a reminder for you to take your medicine. Every pack is a full dosage of what you have to take. Don’t let your injury get in contact with water, and don’t lie on it when you’re sleeping. I’ll help you order your daily meals everyday and have them delivered to your place. The day after tomorrow, I’ll come and help you with a hot compress.”
“Then how am I going to shower?”
“I don’t care how you’ll shower, but I won’t be helping you with it.” Li Shuo gave a perfunctory smile. “Since with just one hand, you’re able to change your clothes, drive your car, and eat a burger, there shouldn’t be a problem for you to shower as well. If you’re really unable to do so, then you should return to your parents’ place.”
Zhao Jinxin laughed lightly. “How heartless. When you fall in love with me one day, would you regret this?”
“We’ll talk about it again if that day ever comes.” Li Shuo clapped his hands together suavely, ready to leave.
His phone rang at this moment. Li Shuo took a look, it was a call from his accounting firm’s partner. It was already near midnight back in China, and for him to call at this time, it was most likely something urgent.
Li Shuo answered hurriedly. “Hey, Xiang-ge.”
“Li Shuo, are you still in the US?” Xiang Ning’s voice was exhausted and solemn, and it was evident that something was wrong.
Li Shuo too started getting anxious. “Yes, why?”
“Something happened here.”
In Li Shuo’s mind flashed all the recent cases he had dealt with, and could not think of any that a mistake could have carelessly happened with. His voice deepened, “Calm down, tell me what happened.”
Zhao Jinxin looked at Li Shuo, the corner of his lips quirking slightly.
“Do you still remember that case of Benhui Properties about five, six years ago?”
“I do, why?” Li Shuo had a bad premonition.
“Benhui’s legal partner that has been missing for so many years has suddenly appeared, and is targeting you.”
Li Shuo’s eyes widened. “What nonsense? They were the ones who falsified their accounts in the first place to deceive us, and cheated billions of dollars from X Bank. Did even a cent go into my pocket?”
Li Shuo realised that his voice was too loud, and he glanced at Zhao Jinxin before turning around and speaking quietly. “He’s targeting me? Based on what?”
Xiang Ning was very anxious. “Who knows what’s going on? The judgement for this case had also been passed that year, and the ones who were supposed to be caught had been caught. The case of this cheating by Benhui, you were only the auditor, and even though despite the audit, it turned out that he had falsified his accounts, the accusation of the accounting firm had long been cleared! It’s been so many years already, why did this partner suddenly appear out of nowhere?!”
Li Shuo picked up his jacket. “Hold on, I’ll go out and we’ll continue.”
He looked at Zhao Jinxin, trying his best to speak calmly, “Excuse me, I have something on, and I need to go.”
Zhao Jinxin nodded, his gaze directed towards Li Shuo profound.
Li Shuo left Zhao Jinxin’s place, and his tone became harsher. “What is the motive of that person?”
“I’m not sure, I already got a friend to investigate. I feel that this matter is not trivial, as there’s basically no benefits for that person to appear and target you. Although he was not involved in the running of the company, and he had no idea about the cheating, and did not have to go through any legal punishment, he would still have to be responsible for the civil compensation. However, this person has no money at all, and that’s why he’s been in hiding all these years. X Bank is a state-owned enterprise, and whatever that had to be closed down were all closed down, and they wouldn’t chase after individuals for the payment. As long as he kept hiding, no one would do anything to him. I really don’t understand, what exactly does he want? He doesn’t even know you at all.”
“Yes, what can he get from doing this?” A headache took over Li Shuo. He could not think of any motives for this person, why he would frame him so?
“There’s really no personal dispute between you and that person?”
“No, I don’t know him at all…” Li Shuo suddenly froze.
Everyone definitely had an objective in doing something, be it money, status, desire, emotions, self-realisation, and many more countless reasons. With regards to this incident, if a cause could not be found in their business dealings, then in their personal…
Xiang Ning too realised it. “Li Shuo, this is most likely a personal grudge. That partner is destitute now, and with a little bit of benefits, he would probably be willing to do anything. Have you offended anyone recently?”
“I…” Li Shuo gritted his teeth. He did think of someone, and this grudge had developed because of Li Chengxiu.
Xiang Ning sighed heavily. “Bro, this trouble is a little too over our heads. What sort of person did you offend?”
Unconsciously, Li Shuo avoided mention of that name. “Does he have any evidence? Without any evidence, this is defamation.”
“Apparently there is, but I don’t know what sort of evidence it is. It may be false, or it may be something harmful to you that you really left behind when working together with Benhui those years. In any case, it’s been put on record, and if you return, you would immediately be taken away for investigation.”
Li Shuo was furious. “The flapping of his mouth could be used as evidence for the record?!”
“Bro, exactly what sort of person high up there did you offend? From start till the end, there’s only one hand pushing it along. If not, it wouldn’t have become so serious within a few days. My contacts are unable to get any information at all, and they have no idea of how to get them too.”
Li Shuo tightened his fist. “Xiang-ge, continue helping me watch over this. I’ll get someone to look into this and update you.”
“You… Ai, alright.”
Hanging up, Li Shuo punched the wall. He inhaled deeply, calming his emotions down.
… Shao Qun, it’s you, isn’t it.