When Qi Xiuyuan returned to Han Jia’s room with a radiant smile, Han Jia was already impatiently waiting for him. He glared at him, “You beast. Don’t bother Xiao Li anymore!!”
“You’re jealous?” Qi Xiuyuan said indifferently with a tone that was meant to provoke anger out of the person in front of him.
“Don’t you know that you’re causing him trouble!” Han Jia shouted, though relatively low, “Or was this your intention all along?”
Qi Xiuyuan’s complexion changed, “What do you mean? Say it clearly.”
Han Jia bit his lips and pondered said, “There’s someone…fiercer and more difficult to deal with than you. This person is also aiming for Xiao Li—”
“Are you talking about your boss?” Qi Xiuyuan asked and continued angrily, “He’s still not giving up after all these years!”
The shocked expression that surfaced on Han Jia’s pallid countenance was clearly visible for all to see. “How did…Xiao Li already told you?”
“Who else would it be?”
The room fell into complete silence as Han Jia gazed sternly at Qi Xiuyuan – all the words that had circled his mind seemed to have scattered. A weak smile crawled on his lips. “Fuck, you barely know him…you’re right, I’m really starting to get jealous…”
Qi Xiuyuan lowered his head, seemingly thinking of something, Han Jia gave him a quick glance, “You can’t beat Qing-Ye. The immense power and influence that he has in this province is nearly hidden from everyone…if—”
“Shouldn’t this kind of matter…” Qi Xiuyuan whispered, “…be something that Xiao Li have a say in? He’s not the kid that he was all those years ago. His status is already quite high now…do not tell me that at this point, even his wishes aren’t being taken into consideration?”
“What does that matter?” Han Jia’s eyes drew to the needle inserted into the back of his hand as a cold sneer filtered the room. He said coldly, “At that time, we had strenuously climbed the ladder with that kind of mindset. We had truly believed if we continued, we won’t be bullied by anyone anymore and eventually, we could…but what’s the result of it all now? Look at me, after the all the things that I’ve done and the status that I’ve attained, the moment they say they don’t need me, haven’t I already been thrown out?”
Those words entered Qi Xiuyuan’s brain and his brows knitted tightly, he recalled the words that Xiao Li had just said to him – uneasiness quickly beckoned him to ask, “What would happen if Xiao Li doesn’t agree?”
The blood on Han Jia’s face drained, “It seems to be fine if he keeps things the way it is now, but if you keep on involving yourself with him, he will also…if Qing-Ye finds out again…what do you have to go against Qing-Ye?”
“I always thought…” Qi Xiuyuan’s complexion sank.
He had always thought that the key to this matter was in Xiao Li’s hands and so long as Xiao Li chose him then everything else would not be a problem. Although he had personally witnessed Li Shiqing’s actions, he still did not grasp the complexity of this situation. It was with this simple mindset that he allowed him to continuously pursue him so vigorously, entangling himself in his affairs – all because he wanted to stand beside Xiao Li. He wanted the only thing in Xiao Li’s eyes to be him. He wanted Xiao Li to smile at him, to be closer to him than any other person. That was all he wanted. He had never once thought that Xiao Li would consequently be faced with difficulties or compelled to pay any undesirable price.
“Xiao Li wouldn’t talk to you about these things.” Han Jia looked at him coldly, “That’s the kind of person he is. Without saying anything, he would run off and deal with it himself, but… humph. I understand him because even if he told you, what can you do about it?”
Those words were sharp like needles piercing Qi Xiuyuan until his face turned pale. He walked toward the door while whispering to himself, “Let me think, let me think…”
There are some things…that I must deal with. It can be very troublesome and time- consuming…
I don’t want to drag you down. It’s enough if it’s just me.
Just tell me, are you willing to wait for me or not…if you can wait…
Xiao Li, Xiao Li, Qi Xiuyuan thought painfully, what exactly are you planning to do?
Xiao Li had yet to enter the city when he received a peculiar phone call from Yan Ming informing him to hurry to Jin Ting – the call then ended abruptly. Without any time to return home to change out of his clothes, Xiao Li wore the same T-shirt and jeans and made his way to Jin Ting. Once there, the doorman nearly stopped him absent-mindedly.
Yan Ming was known to be a promiscuous and unprincipled playboy. He was dressed in brand name outfits, sitting on a sofa in the corner of the lounge with one leg crossed over the other. There were several people standing in front of him with a rather confrontational posture.
Once Yan Ming caught sight of Xiao Li, he had the audacity to ridicule his clothes.
“Oh, Xiao Li!” He called out loudly, “This territory was just given to me and you want to secretly withdraw from the underworld? What are you wearing, a school uniform?”
“How can it be compared to Ming ge’s style?” Xiao Li greeted politely, turning to look at the people who had confronted Yan Ming. “Lin Zi, what’s going on?”
Lin Zi, the rather husky fellow, became unusually unsightly. He gave Yan Ming a quick glance then turned back to look the other way. Xiao Li followed his gaze and noticed Zhang Xueming, the person who had replaced Han Jia, taking a seat on the sofa behind him.
“Li ge, when you were in charge of the Eastern territory, Lin Zi belonged to Jin Ting.” Zhang Xueming looked over, “Now I need to use him so that he can remove my restriction on the usage of these drugs. Is that not possible?”
“Whether possible or not, you don’t have the final say,” Yan Ming said calmly. “First off, Jin Ting is my territory now. When you see me, you should respectfully call me Ming ge. Two, although I am a drug dealer, I don’t take the drugs and I personally know that subordinates are not allowed to touch them. Could it be that as a leader in the prostitution ring, you also get fucked?”
“You!” Zhang Xueming angrily stood up, “You may be in charge of Jin Ting, but Lin Zi is not your subordinate. What rights do you have to order him around?”
“Zhang Xueming, you’re in charge of all the male and female prostitutes in Jin Ting now but that doesn’t mean Lin Zi is under your command. Besides, if I order him around, I am giving his Li ge face, otherwise, I’ll have to beat him since he damaged my subordinates’ business transactions.” Yan Ming gave Xiao Li a glance, “I gave you face, so you wouldn’t tear into each other. Tell me, isn’t that right, ‘Li ge’?”
Xiao Li retrained his rising anger, “That’s enough. We’re all brothers in the same family here. There’s no need to quarrel over trivial matters like this, no? It’s my fault. I’ve been too anxious for the past two days that I didn’t handle everything properly.” He looked at Yan Ming, “Jin Ting is your territory now, so it’s only natural that you have the final say. Lin Zi is one of my men. If you think that he’s useful and want to keep him, then I’ll leave him here but if you and he don’t follow the same path, I’ll take him away.”
The corners of Yan Ming’s lips curved before he snorted with satisfaction, “Those are definitely the words of a righteous man. Then I won’t investigate the damages that have been done on my transactions. You can take Lin Zi with you. It’s not like I don’t have my own men.”
When Xiao Li led Lin Zi and a few other people out, Zhang Xueming chased after them, the tone of his voice ringing with a sense of grief as he shouted.
Xiao Li stopped and turned around to look at him.
“Li ge, you’ve been in charge of Jin Ting for so such a long time, why didn’t you back me up? Don’t you know that Yan Ming, he—”
“Mr. Zhang.” Xiao Li interrupted, his word concise, “You’re not Han Jia.”
After saying those few words, he swiftly turned back and led several of his subordinates out of Jin Ting, leaving Zhang Xueming standing alone in bewilderment.
Lin Zi followed Xiao Li out with a nervous expression and gave the others a signal to go their separate ways. He got into the car with Xiao Li, “Li ge, are you mad?”
“I’m not.” Xiao Li drove and asked, “What’s going on with Yan Ming ordering you?”
Shifting to look at him, Lin Zi’s expression became sluggish. He pulled out a small packet from his pocket and gave it to Xiao Li for a look – a white powered-substance could be clearly seen from within the simple and crude plastic packaging. Keeping his eyes on the road, Xiao Li glanced quickly, his expression gloomy and unsettling. He immediately turned his eyes back on the road in contemplation. When his cell phone buzzed, he grabbed hold of it with one hand while grasping the steering wheel with the other. Still maintaining a calm mindset, he answered the call.
“Xiao Li, it’s me.” Qi Xiuyuan’s voice seemed extremely distant through the phone.
Xiao Li gave a crestfallen Lin Zi a glance then asked, “What happened?”
“The situation must be really troublesome, isn’t it? When you said that you wanted me to wait, is it because whatever you’re going to do is extremely dangerous?” Qi Xiuyuan seemed to be trying his hardest to keep his voice calm. “I want to handle it with you.”
At those words, Xiao Li went silent for a moment. “It has nothing to do with you.”
It’s that tone again. I should forbid him from using such a miserable tone to speak. Xiao Li thought and sighed, “It really doesn’t have anything to do with you. Even without you, I would still have to do these things. These are my own personal matters.”
“Your matters are my matters.” Qi Xiuyuan said with extreme stubbornness, “We’re a couple now, what’s there to separate between us?”
“Who’s with you…”
‘Couple,’ hearing that beautifully spoken word irritated Xiao Li to the point that he nearly wanted to curse at someone. He gave Lin Zi another glance to calm himself down, then whispered: “I have to take Xiao Yang to the other province tomorrow. Wait for my return and I’ll meet up with you again.”
“Then…I’ll wait for you.” Qi Xiuyuan replied immediately as if afraid he had regretted the words that he said previously.
Xiao Li did not say anything else, but Qi Xiuyuan could feel that he was smiling. “If you’re willing to wait, it’ll be fine.”
Qi Xiuyuan was somewhat at ease as he put his phone away but although he received Xiao Li’s promise, he was still filled with a sense of fear and anxiety.
After the men that Xiao Li sent over to protect Han Jia arrived, Qi Xiuyuan rushed back to the city – his heart and mind packed with uncertainty as he waited for any news from Xiao Li.
But when the ‘tomorrow’ that Xiao Li spoke of arrived, he did not receive any call. After calling several times, he discovered that Xiao Li’s cell phone was unexpectedly turned off.
Fear kicked in – he started to look for him everywhere he could think of. There was no one at Xiao Li’s place and since many people at Jin Ting had been changed, none recognized him or was willing to talk about Xiao Li.
When he contacted Xiao Yang, Xiao Yang had said that Xiao Li had returned after bringing him to the next province. He contacted Han Jia again only to discovered that he didn’t know anything either. In the end, he could only ask Han Jia for Lin Zi’s contact information. He patiently dialed Lin Zi’s number repeatedly until it finally went through, however, the information that he obtained made him feel as if a basin of ice-cold water was being thrown at him, soaking him from head to toe.
Xiao Li had been arrested by the police in the neighboring province for the possession of drugs and was now detained as a criminal.