“I choose the second option.”
It was not a difficult choice.
Survival was human instinct, and he was only twenty-eight years old, far from the age to see through life and death.
As long as he could save his life, what did it matter if he lost everything? At worst, his second cousin would drive him out of the Chu family, strip him of his status, and let him live on the streets penniless. Such a life may be difficult, but it was better than death. At least he would save his life and have a future.
Chu Yunhan, who came back from the gates of hell, finally breathed a sigh of relief. As soon as he stood up he discovered that his legs had gone soft. He followed Chu Yichen out of the private room and saw Tang Shaocheng leaning on the corridor wall. Their gazes met, and both parties saw the astonishment in the other’s eyes.
Tang Shaocheng’s eyes darkened. He adjusted his expression and greeted Chu Yichen with a smile, “Young Master Chen came to play too?”
“I was free today, so I dropped by,” Chu Yichen replied. In recent years the Tang clan had developed pretty well in logistics. The two sides had worked together, so they knew each other.
“In the end, you are very attractive. No matter how I tried, this little brother A-Zhou would not give me a chance, let alone declare his position.”
These words made Chu Yunhan’s eyebrows shoot up. This guy was actually drinking vinegar at this moment! He sneaked a glance at Chu Yichen. Seeing the other party’s expressionless face, he did not dare to speak rashly, and could only remain silent.
“He doesn’t show up often in public, so Mr. Tang may not have recognized him. This is my elder brother Chu Yunhan,” the man said slowly. “He did something wrong some time ago and was punished to work as a waiter here. Speaking of which, I also want to thank Mr. Tang for taking care of him over the past few months.”
Tang Shaocheng was stunned. It took him a long time to come back to his senses. The person he had been chasing for so long was actually the eldest young master of the Chu family! Countless “no wonder”s suddenly popped up in his head. No wonder his etiquette was perfect, no wonder his taste was elegant, no wonder he rejected his gifts, no wonder he looked down on him. Immediately after, he broke out in cold sweat. He actually wanted to take this young master to bed… He quickly considered whether he had offended the other party through his actions or words, and hurriedly said, “I really didn’t know. If I have offended Young Master Yun in any way, it has been unintentional. I hope that Young Master Yun will not feel offended.” After all, the Chu family was not like other business partners. Offending them would bring bad luck.
Chu Yunhan didn’t expect that Chu Yichen would expose his identity so straightforwardly, but since he was given the script, he had to follow it, so he said perfunctorily, “How could this be? It’s rare to have a friend like Mr. Tang, and I consider it a gain from experiencing life.”
This time Tang Shaocheng saw his real appearance. Fair complexion, brown hair, double eyelids, long eyelashes. The deep eyes under the slanted eyebrows looked seductive, and the blush on his face induced by alcohol was really handsome. It’s a pity that such a face belongs to someone you can’t touch, he sighed secretly. But he was a man who knew how to read the situation, and would not take even one step further in the minefield, once the danger zone was delienated. As for the origin of the wine stains on Chu Yunhan’s body, he naturally wouldn’t inquire.
Three identical black Mercedes-Benzes were already waiting at the entrance of the club. Fortunately, Chu Yunhan didn’t have to sit in the same car as Chu Yichen, so he leaned back in the back seat and breathed a sigh of relief. However, as soon as he saw the person in the passenger seat, he was stunned.
“Eldest Young Master,” Yang Lin turned around and said with embarrassment.
“Are you alright? He didn’t do anything to you, did he?” he asked anxiously. Yang Lin was Lihao’s manager and finding Chu Yunhan there was equivalent to intentionally hiding him. This could be regarded as serious internal crime, so he was very worried about Yang Lin’s safety.
“Young Master Yun, I really can’t help you…” Yang Lin lowered his head and spoke intermittently in a choked voice, “I wanted to help you, and I have been trying to find a way, but then it leaked out and he had Hei Yu investigate…If I concealed it and did not report it, it wouldn’t be long before… and so…I am not afraid of death, but my family, they all need me to take care of…I couldn’t help it, so…”
So he had to report him.
Even Yang Lin, who he considered the last person he could rely on, changed sides. After playing this game of hide-and-seek to the end, what hidden trumps did he have left?
Chu Yunhan sat stiffly, silent for a long time, before speaking, “When did he find out?”
“About a month ago.”
It turned out he had been exposed a long time ago, even earlier than he expected. Just now Chu Yichen stated clearly that he’d been collaborating with Tang Shaocheng, which meant that he had been under surveillance for a long time. The reason he hadn’t taken action until now was because he wanted to see if he had another trick up his sleeve. He felt somewhat uncomfortable at the thought.
“Eldest Young Master, Second Young Master has been suppressing your affairs, and only a few higher-ups know about them. After all, you are brothers, and he will definitely forgive you…”
“Stop talking.” Tired, he leaned back in the seat and closed his eyes. He knew that Chu Yichen had asked Yang Lin to show up here just to let him understand that he was on his own, with no straw to grasp at. If he wanted to live well, he had to obey him.
He really had nothing left, had he?
He clenched the hand by his side into a fist.
No one spoke in the car, and the atmosphere was heavy and dejected. Looking at the flashing lights from the car window, Chu Yunhan suddenly remembered a fairytale his mother had told him many years ago. All the homeless animals were caught, packed in a huge cage, and dragged all the way to the circus to perform a show, and later in the story they were saved by a bard. At this moment, he felt like a lost animal, locked in a small cage, rushed to the next unknown stop in the night.
But where was the bard who would save him?
He closed his eyes exhausted, no longer paying attention to the road signs. Regardless of what Chu Yichen wanted to do to him, no matter what means he used, there would always be a way to deal with it.
About half an hour later, the car stopped, and he saw a long-lost scenery: a brightly lit Chinese-style house with an exquisite and beautiful garden behind the arched gate. Upon entering the inner courtyard along the veranda and passing by the pond of clear water, there was a three-story building with white walls and blue tiles.
Chu Yunhan raised his head and looked at the room on the right side of the third floor. The wooden wind chime hanging on the wooden lattice window clattered softly in the night breeze.
That was his room.
Or, to be precise, it was the room that once belonged to him.
This old house of the Chu family was where he grew up. The old man liked it lively, so his sons gathered all the children here to raise them. They didn’t go back to their homes until they were in high school. Even so, everybody would come back for the holidays, and there were many occasions to meet each other. Later, his father Chu Qin died of a heart attack. After his death, Chu Yunhan rarely came back. Chu Yichen, on the other hand, had been living in the old house with his two fathers ever since he was chosen as the next Patriarch.
Even though the old man didn’t say anything, seeing his child die before him, his spirit was crushed, he suffered from depression, and passed away half a year later. At the funeral, their arms wrapped in black yarn, the two men stood side by side, with Minran on the side of the mourning hall, and Jiahui’s depressed sobs coming from behind. No one spoke from beginning to end. They were like two trees growing alone, upright and silent, concealing all emotions inside of them.
That was the last time they met officially. Two years later, Chu Yu retired for health reasons, and Chu Yichen formally challenged the leader of the Chu family and became the new Patriarch. Chu Yunhan graduated from university and became the director of several companies. He was happy for a while, and made many friends. During that period, Chu Yichen called him back several times, but he ignored him. It’d been a long time since he last returned to his hometown.
Chu Yunhan followed the man upstairs and opened the door to his room. The furnishing was unchanged. The hand-made locomotive model he had made back then and some photos taken when he was young were placed on the table, and a gamepad he had used to pass the time was lying on the coffee table. The room was spotlessly clean.
“You’ll be living here from today on.” Chu Yichen left after only one sentence. Chu Yunhan sat for a while, then got up and opened the closet. Inside were some of his old clothes. There was even a set of junior high school uniforms he forgot to take away and were left in the old house. On the other side were several sets of cotton home clothes, all loose styles, in the exact size he wore, apparently washed. He took a shower, washed the red wine off of him, dressed, put on a pair of slippers, and since he wasn’t sleepy, simply went downstairs to stroll around.
It was late. The moonlight shone tranquil in the dark sky dotted with stars. A thin layer of mist floated above the pond. He walked slowly along the side of the pond on the path paved with pebbles. The wind blew past the weeping willows, brushing past the tips of their branches, and swept across the water surface, making small ripples. He was walking towards the pavilion not far away, when he heard a rustling noise and stopped, searching for the source of the sound.
Suddenly, a huge black figure stood up near the wall. Frightened, Chu Yunhan took a step back. He was shocked to see a big black dog, looking at him vigilantly.
Damn, he had forgotten that there was this guy by the pond!
“Suo, Suo’er…” He was afraid of dogs. When he was a child, in spite of all warnings, he recklessly teased the pregnant Kangal bitch. A paw sent him to the ground, and his arm would’ve been bitten bloody if it weren’t for his bodyguard’s timely reaction. Ever since, he dared not approach dogs, especially big dogs.
The big dog seemed to recognize his voice. It lowered its guard and wagged its tail, walking towards him. “Don’t! Don’t come! Don’t come over! Don’t come over…” Chu Yunhan turned pale with fright, his legs softened, and he backed away. Seeing that the dog was about to rush over, he panicked, turned around and ran. “Someone, help!” The cry had hardy escaped his lips, when he bumped into someone full on. The man he knocked against stepped back, clasped his wrist, and said in a deep voice, “Suo’er, stop!”
The big dog behind him stopped, stuck its tongue out, and barked softly.
Chu Yunhan’s whole body was stiff. Recovering with difficulty from the panic, he raised his eyes and saw the man draw nearer. His face flushed immediately, and he whispered, “I…forgot it was here…” But he could not say the next sentence.
He was too close, so close that he was almost pressing against him.
He retreated awkwardly from the other’s arms. Feeling a hot and humid jet behind him, he was obviously about to bump into the dog. His hairs stood up. He moved forward and once again ran into the other’s arms.
Embarrassing to the power of 2.
Chu Yichen looked at him indifferently, without the slightest intention to step back and give way to him or dismiss the dog. So Chu Yunhan was caught between this person and the dog, unable to advance or retreat, feeling like a meatloaf in a hamburger.
Embarrassing to the power of n.
“Can you…make it go away first?” he lowered his head and asked. For some reason, he was somewhat reluctant to look into that person’s eyes.
After a long silence, Chu Yichen finally spoke, “Suo’er, go back!”
The big dog looked at the two of them, and reluctantly returned to the doghouse by the wall, lying down on its stomach. Chu Yunhan breathed a sigh of relief and immediately took a step back. He tried to find words to ease his embarrassment, “It really listens to you.”
Chu Yichen let go of his wrist and said expressionlessly, “I value obedient dogs. The same goes for people.”