Translated by: Dairytea & Phoenix
Love Late Vol. 1
They had taken Shu Nian to the quiet villa here so he could recuperate properly. I was just conveniently taken as well.
My head wound had been bandaged, no longer bleeding. This was thanks to Ke Luo, who still had some kindness in him to send me to the hospital. Even though they had brought me along, they had come to ensure that Shu Nian would receive a thorough examination.
My stomach felt uncomfortable, but now wasn’t the time to worry about it. No matter how my insides suffer, they’d still be in the same place anyway. It’s entirely better than having them dug out.
At least compared to one possible fate, tolerating this bit of physical pain was nothing but a piece of cake.
Pulling myself together, I tried to calm down. I wasn’t sure what I was feeling.
Maybe the situation wasn’t that bad. I was violently tossed in here, but this wasn’t some prison cell. It was just an ordinary study room. There was even wine in the cabinet. Of course, there were men guarding outside the door, but Ke Luo didn’t even so much as tie me up. I could move freely in the room.
The swelling of my head throbbed painfully. The feeling was hard to bear. There was no end to the panic in my heart. I felt a cold sweat drip down my forehead after sitting for a moment.
My mouth was dry, so I figured I’d go open the cabinet. I selected a bottle of wine according to the year. Since a glass was readily-available as well, I helped myself to a drink.
On one hand, it settled my mind; on the other hand, I seemed to have really run into bad luck. I’ll let myself drink something good anyway before hitting the road again.
The door was pushed open. The tall young man took a couple steps inside, and his eyes widened.
He probably didn’t even expect me to shamelessly drink Lu Feng’s stash when death was so near at hand. He frowned at once.
“I need an explanation.”
“Okay.” Luckily, he still offered me a chance to explain.
“Why do it?”
“I didn’t rape him,” I replied quickly.
“I want to know why you were a spy. Who are you working for?”
My heart suddenly sank a little. I didn’t say a word.
“In what way has Uncle Lu wronged you? In what way has Xiao Nian offended you? Why do that to them?”
“They didn’t do anything. What about you? You dare say that you don’t owe me the slightest bit of debt?”
Ke Luo was taken aback. “Then why didn’t you just direct it at me?”
How could I say something ridiculous as “I couldn’t bear to?” I spread out my hands and simply said, “Okay, this time I was wrong.”
Ke Luo glared at me coldly. I could feel a cold chill run down my spine. Never before had I wished like now that he’d wholeheartedly care for Shu Nian, barely having the time to spare a look at me.
“Regarding the company, I’ll confess to Lu Feng and await his decision. Don’t interfere. Concerning Shu Nian, I was wrong first. I apologize to him. But seeing as not a hair on his head was harmed,” I paused and smiled, “and also our…friendship all these years.”
Ke Luo watched me.
I poured a glass, raised it toward him, and humbly said, “Just consider it as a plea from Uncle Lee. Cut me some slack, and let’s make peace.”
Ke Luo stared at me for a while. He took the glass from my hand at last despite his emotionless face.
I immediately felt an incredible sense of relief. But the next instant, he threw the entire glass of wine in my face.
I was stunned for a long while as the wine ran down my chin. I heard a knock outside the door.
An indistinct shadow appeared at the door. “Master Ke, the men from the Xie family have arrived requesting us to hand the man over.”
Ke Luo glanced at me, then turned his head. “Tell them that I was the one who caught him, so he would naturally be at my disposal.”
“But they’re extremely persistent…”
“Assure Xie Yan that I will deal with it.”
My one heart sank.
I could imagine how big and deep his hatred toward me was, but I still had no idea as to how he’ll “deal” with me.
The house became quiet once more. I could only hear the sound of my rough, heavy breathing.
Soon there was another knock at the door. Obviously the Xie family there won’t leave the matter at that if they can’t personally “deal” with me.
“Master Ke, it’s better that you personally…”
Ke Luo frowned. When he turned around, his face bore the striking resemblance of Lu Feng’s grimness.
As soon as he walked out, he locked the door from the outside. The click sent chills through my entire body.
Xie Yan possibly had to hack me to pieces before his hatred was quenched. It would probably be much more so for Ke Luo.
My teeth slightly chattered. I admitted that I was afraid of death. And now that things were uncertain like this, how could I resign myself? What’s more, they may not necessarily give me a quick relief.
Taking advantage of the two men’s dispute as to who would handle me, I stood up and looked down from the window.
What luck, it was only the third floor. The antique European window, which was originally suitable for ladies to greet their brave lovers, was now facilitating me to run for my life.
With my whole body outside the window and one foot straining to reach a ledge to step on, I heard talking outside the door.
My heart raced.
Once they realized no one was in the room, even if I made it to the ground in time, I can forget about escaping.
As soon as I stepped on the second floor window sill, I quit dawdling and jumped directly down.
I slightly crouched when I hit the ground. Apart from the small pain in my feet, I didn’t so much as twist my ankle. When I was young, I’d scraped through tough conditions. Now that I was old, I managed to refrain from becoming too clumsy.
This villa was so huge that it’s abnormal. Walking on such a long cobblestone path, I thought I’d been discovered and had almost given up hope.
But when I went through the main gates, I wasn’t stopped to my surprise. The entrance guard wasn't suspicious of me. He didn’t even look at me, so I was allowed through.
I didn’t even have the time to celebrate. Not having the nerve to delay, I hurried off.
Devastated, I hid for several days, living in a complete mess.
Of course I didn’t have the guts to return to the apartment. Fortunately, I had stored emergency cash and ATM cards for use in another location. I just never expected I’d put them to good use so soon. I couldn’t help but repeatedly curse myself unlucky.
I regretted my indecisiveness. At that time, there was no need for me to meddle with that man. As a result, it’s now the same as offending both the Xie family and the Lu family.
I didn’t lack the money, but to continue in hiding was not the way. All day long, I was like a rat, hiding and scurrying about. For the sake of safety, I could only eat and sleep in poor rundown places. Upon seeing a familiar person, I would walk off with my head turned away.
I couldn’t stay in T city for the time being. I should move away from here and lie low until the fuss died down.
But to run away from here wasn’t going to be that easy. I didn’t have the nerve to go back to the apartment and take the things I needed. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I could only look to Tong Shan. What's more, he was an enemy of both families, not a friend, and still owed me a large amount of money.
Tong Shan could actually be considered loyal to his comrades. A half an hour after I had given him a call, a car came to pick me up.
I didn’t let my guard down with Tong Shan. It’s just that I knew it wouldn’t do him any good for me to be captured
Even though Tong Shan never exposed his face, it was clear this time that it wasn’t just me who would be caught. Sooner or later, it would descend on him. It wouldn’t be that easy to wash his hands from it. Even if he got rid of me, he wouldn’t be able to make it up to both families.
Since we’re on the same boat, he might as well help me. Naturally, I’d be of use to him in the future.
I probably calculated the right move this time. Tong Shan treated me rather courteous and polite. He arranged a safe place for me to stay and agreed to help me set up new paperwork and passport.
I didn’t want to exaggerate it so much as to flee the country. But according these people, Ke Luo was searching everywhere for me even if he had to dig three feet deep to drag me out.
Xie Yan had already given up and returned to S city, yet Ke Luo still wouldn’t let me off so easily. He relentlessly pursued me.
What for? Did he really hate me that much?
For a dog that had run off after being beaten so much, he should have some compassion.
Or perhaps I should never have had any expectations on Ke Luo from the very beginning?
“Tong, sir, you asked for me?”
“My goodness, come sit, come sit. Let’s call for a couple glasses,” Tong Shan greeted me with a grin.”
“Has the passport arrived yet?”
“No need to rush. Sit, sit. Young people must have patience.”
To have to wag my tail for this old geezer and be mixed into this, I didn’t have just any ordinary bad luck. I forced myself to sit down. Several days had already passed, and I still hadn’t received the required passport. I’d be lying if I claimed that I wasn’t uneasy about it.
“Tong, sir, honestly speaking, it’s not that difficult to prepare them, right?”
“Why? Don’t you trust me?” Tong Shan chuckled. “Well, you know, they’ve nearly overturned the heavens searching for you.”
I didn’t make a sound. Sometimes I really had the urge to go find Ke Luo and ask him to his face what on earth he wanted to do to me so his anger would subside. Carry out the top ten tortures?
To him, what we had been through together wasn’t even enough to bring about the tiniest bit of pity?
My chest constricted. In one mouthful, I emptied the glass Tong Shan had poured for me.
Just as I wanted to drink a second glass, the glass slipped from my hand and shattered on the floor. I slowly looked at my own hand, and my head swirled.
“Don’t blame me.” Tong Shan’s kind smiling face and voice became vague and distant. “In fact, the Lu family forced me to a tight corner. If I don’t hand you over, my days would be tough. It’ll be difficult for everyone…”
This old geezer really was an asshole.
But that little brat was the real asshole.
I felt like I had just slept and woken up from a nightmare. Once I opened my eyes, I saw Ke Luo’s face as expected.
I was a goner this time.
I casually replied, “Mm-hm.”
At this rate, I won’t beg him anymore. There’s no point.
I just didn’t know why I felt a tinge of sadness. So this was my fate? Shit.
Ke Luo looked at me for a while. “You’re thinner.”
I laughed. What rat living on the streets wasn’t all skin and bones?
He couldn’t be thinking of fattening me up and making a stew out of me?
“It’s good that you’re back.”
Huh? What’s good about it?
“I didn’t tell Uncle Lu about you being a spy.”
It was a little unexpected. I waited for his next line.
“So you can come back to the company for work. I won’t pursue the matter anymore.”
He really was astoundingly generous. I slowly sat up from the bed.
I was extremely shocked, but felt no gratitude, even finding it unbelievable.
A second ago, he had fiercely wanted to “deal” with me, yet now, all of a sudden, he wanted to try and abandon past grudges. The glass of wine he had thrown in my face and the endless hunt over these past few days—don’t tell me it was all my imagination?
“But there are conditions.”
“What are they?”
“You have to apologize to Shu Nian.”
“Don’t appear in front of him from now on.”
I felt a little like laughing. This was unavoidably too easy. Shu Nian’s charisma was sure enough infinitely great. But after giving it some thought, I shook my head. “I can’t do it.”
Ke Luo creased his brows as he looked at me. “Why can’t you leave him alone?”
This was a matter between him and me. I was also fed up with living my days cowering from death and clinging to life. Just do what should be done. “If you’re uneasy, then isn’t it more convenient to simply finish me off with a bullet?”
Ke Luo didn’t say anything more. I had thought he’d explode or at the very least throw some punches at me, but he remained silent. He simply stared at me with those black eyes.
Those heart-broken eyes.
At long last, he lowered his eyes. “Rest well then. I’m leaving.”
After that, Ke Luo really didn’t bother me anymore. He just left me alone without a care, neither locking me up nor tying me down. The less he did, the more uneasy I became, even so much that I felt that my time might be ticking down.
There are some things you must seize the moment and do. And since I didn’t know how it would turn out, I went to S city.
Xie Yan wasn’t going mad with craze anymore. He had withdrawn the capture and kill order, but I couldn’t just wander openly before their very eyes.
I simply followed that dumb and hateful man at a far distance. I watched him get off work. He walked into a bookstore and slowly decided on a cookbook. Then he entered a supermarket, shopped, went around three times before choosing a small half cart. He was even as nosy as to assist in capturing back the grass carp that had jumped out of the fisheries area. After that he walked out, drove home, and went upstairs.
I looked at his face that was similar to mine. It seemed like time had passed in a blink of an eye. He had clearly been so small and weak, and yet here he was now all grown up.
He was probably living a decent life.
In fact, I wasn’t certain. To decide that this man was my little brother just based on the scars on his legs and the faint resemblance on his face—I hadn’t gotten to the point of being that foolishly sentimental.
Without a DNA test, I won’t believe it.
I spoke of scientific facts.
But not knowing why, I had the urge to see him.
Following him for half the day, I deduced that the man wouldn’t go out anymore. My back was sore as well. I drew out a cigarette to smoke away my exhaustion and, just as I thought of heading back home, I heard a man rigidly say in my ear, “What do you want with him now?”
I nearly dropped my cigarette. I turned around and saw Ke Luo frowning at me.
I composed myself, firmly taking a drag on my cigarette, and leisurely said, “What? I can’t even look at him? Don’t tell me he’s part of your family?”
Ke Luo helplessly looked at me. “Can’t you just leave him alone? He’s in poor health. Don’t harass him anymore.”
His expression held the kind of love that’s carved deep within the bones. No matter how it’s concealed, it would still be that apparent.
I laughed. “I won’t do anything to him. I’ve changed my mind. He’s my type.” Yeah, right.
Ke Luo’s face turned to an awful shade. He appeared to be trembling. A moment passed before he murmured, “You’ve seriously disappointed me.”
His young back slowly disappeared into the dusk.
I pressed against my swelling temples. I didn’t know why I had to be so mouthy. Ultimately, did I want him to be unhappy or myself?
I squatted on the curbside and smoked for a while. I decided to phone Tong Shan. Perhaps I should just be a villain all the way. To be stuck in between, neither going up nor down, was painful,
“Xiao Wen? How come it’s you? Is Mr. Tong there?”
The person who answered the call was Tong Shan’s most favored woman. Although she was pampered to the point of being badly spoiled, against the laws of nature, she was good at heart and liked me to a certain extent.
“He’s in a meeting.”
“Once he’s out, ask him to give me a call.”
“Lee,” she hesitated a little and lowered her voice, “Don’t come back.”
“Hold on.” From the sound of it, she seemed to have moved somewhere to continue. “Mr. Tong isn’t a good man.”
I laughed. “I’m well aware of that. If he was, he wouldn’t have thrown me out as soon as he was forced by the Lu family.”
“Not like that. He was planning to kill before.”
A sudden shiver ran up my back. I was speechless for a while.
“I don’t know how, but it was exposed. Someone from the Lu family looked to him for negotiation, rubbing it in for a good number of days. He got quite a big sum in exchange for your life.”
“He decided not to lay a hand on you after the Lu family indicated that they won’t pursue the matter. You didn’t easily escape from death this time, so please don’t be conceited anymore.”
I had no idea when the call was disconnected. My head throbbed with pain. I could only continue pressing my hand against my head.
I had already smoked half the cigarette case. My mouth had gone dry. I felt a sharp pain through my nose as I breathed.
It suddenly occurred to me that maybe he had intentionally locked the study room that day.
Otherwise, why did it take them that long to come in and why was it so easy for me to escape?
Maybe he really didn’t want to hand me over to the Xie family.
Maybe, towards me, he still had a tiny bit of…
I was afraid that I won’t ever have a chance to know.
I repeatedly dialed Ke Luo’s number. He wasn’t picking up at all. Eventually, I turned off my phone.
I suddenly felt scared.
I had thought that, apart from death, I wasn’t afraid of anything.
I tried my luck and dialed his home phone. After two long rings, it connected. It was Cheng Yi Chen.
“Hello, I’m looking for Ke Luo.”
“Ah, what a coincidence, he just came back from his trip. Please wait a moment.” I then heard Cheng Yi Chen’s voice calling out to him, “Xiao Luo, there's a phone call from Uncle Lee.”
No matter how reluctant Ke Luo was, he wouldn’t make Cheng Yi Chen wait.
I stood up straighter and my heart pounded as I heard the receiver shift into his hand. But after waiting for a while, I still didn’t hear Ke Luo’s voice.
I heard the faint sound of slippers moving further away. It was probably Cheng Yi Chen walking away.
I cleared my throat. And just as I was ready to talk, I heard a click. The call was disconnected.
I was in shock for a while. I set the cell phone down, and my heart suddenly ached a little.
I thought of the tiny bit of naïve gentleness behind that cold detachment.