Proofread by: Micky & Bubbly
Love Late Vol. 1
This time I have proofreaders to look over my translations, making the story even better! Thank you for putting up with my very rough translations~<3 I can't wait to read everyone's comments about this chapter. And thanks to Bubbly for the donation as well! We're one step closer to getting those anthologies. *A*
I could not take it anymore, I had to give up and end this. “Get out.”
Ke Luo looked startled and confused, but he stubbornly refused to leave. My patience was running out, I grabbed the ashtray and hurled it at his head. Missing him, the ashtray grazed his cheek before shattering against the wall behind him. The sound was enough to make someone jump, but not enough to make me feel any less angry.
Ke Luo's face grew pale. Stunned, he looked at me with widened eyes like a small animal who just received a beating from his owner. Somewhat timidly, he called out to me, “Uncle Lee.”
“Get out,” I said, calmer after my outburst, “and give my key back.”
“Sorry, Uncle Lee. Don’t be like this,” Ke Luo apologized. His large dark eyes were always clear and bright as he looked at others. “I don't think of you as Xiao Nian. I know you’re different from him.”
“Of course we’re different.” I sneered, “if we were the same, you could just replace me. You wouldn’t need to force yourself and keep saying shit like whether you wanna do it or not.”
“That’s not it, Uncle Lee,” he protested, seemingly at a loss for words. A pause lingered in the air before he added, “I care about you, Uncle Lee.”
My chest tightened and I laughed out loud. What is this, a consolation prize? How old will I be before he stops jerking me around with this ambiguity? It felt like I was like a dying man, barely alive but hanging on, breathing shallowly and pumped full of drugs that prolonged his life. I couldn’t take any more of this. I’d rather be put out of my misery and be done with it.
I got up and gave him a hard push – towards the door.
“Uncle Lee.” He struggled and grabbed my wrist. Annoyed, I shook him off, “You originally said that we were just going to sleep together, that I was just a hole to you. You felt sorry for me since I was an old man who couldn’t get any, and that you were never interested in me. So say it, damn you, just say it!”
I wanted him to say it personally, so that there would be some sort of closure, closure with the pain of ending it. I had to go through it, so that I could get over it and move on, but Ke Luo didn’t say anything. Instead, he looked back at me with his raven-back eyes – I hated how he could soften hearts with just that look. I hated his youth, how he could be so unrestrained, his infatuation for that man, and his kindness.
“Uncle Lee, I-“
With a slam of the door, I shut Ke Luo and his protests out. Seeing that Ke Luo had laid out the dinner he brought on the table, I threw it in the trash and checked the fridge. It was empty, there was not even a can of beer, but it didn't matter. I wasn’t going to drink myself silly. Regardless of the time, a man like me had to be level-headed, so I refuse to become an embarrassing drunk. It wasn’t enough to warrant losing control over oneself.
I couldn't help but think about Ke Luo, of his charm, his sensibleness, and the way he smiles with that noticeable and tolerant consideration. Truth be told, he probably never led me on -- after all, he never even said that he “liked” me, he never loved me. Yet, how could I forget his gentleness?
So I smoked a cigarette, one at a time, and by dawn, my fingers were yellowed. My mouth was dry, but my head was clear. Since I couldn’t sleep, I put on my coat, grabbed my wallet and car keys, and headed out the door. Nearly tripping as I walked out into the quiet morning, I found Ke Luo sitting at the door, holding his knees. He had fallen asleep, like an abandoned dog. I watched him for a moment before I silently closed the door and walked past him.
He seemed to know how to move people's hearts, but this time I refused to be soft-hearted. After all, he was someone else’s loyal dog that I happened to be raising. It was clear in his mind that he would never see me as his owner. So why wear myself out?
I skipped work for two days without bothering to request for leave and completely blew off my job. When I had returned, everything was normal: my access card still worked and no one said anything about firing me. I went into the office as if it was any other day. Ke Luo was sitting in his seat. Our eyes met just as he was making a call. Slamming the phone down, he stood up.
“Uncle Lee, where were you the last two days?”
“On a trip,” I casually answered as I walked towards my cubicle.
“Why was your phone turned off too?”
“Really…” he looked at the dark circles under my eyes, “you look very tired?”
I laughed, “I have a kidney deficiency.” Suddenly, Ke Luo fell silent and pressed his lips together. Seeing the clean surface of my desk, I asked, “Did work pile up these two days or have I been fired?”
Ke Luo looked surprised, “No, it’s all been taken care of.” Seeing me take my seat at my desk and turning on the computer as usual, a look of relief appeared on his face. “Uncle Lee, would you like some tea?”
I chuckled; I knew what he was worried about. The thought of resigning never crossed my mind. Washing my hands of this and leaving would have been the best way to vent my anger, but what’s the point of acting so rashly? I was realistic; I'm no one's nagging wife. What sort of trouble could I stir? What’s the point of making my hatred apparent? It was not like it would extend my life, nor could it help me get an exchange for a good car. Besides, considering my station, I had little say in anything. Taking down a member of the Lu family would be impossible.
I just wanted to live a good life. Compared to those unfathomable villains in novels who make it their ultimate goal to harm others, I felt that it was more practical to look out for my self-interests. To tamper with the family by selling some information wouldn’t hurt Lu Feng, and for me, it would be a huge gain. I only wanted to use Lu Feng’s trust in me to generate some more income for my pension and drive to save up for an early retirement.
Tong Shan had been nice, but if I left Lu, he may not really need me anymore. I knew what my value was, so wasn’t it better if I just stayed here and worked for him? I need the money, I want to live a happy and carefree life. Without the money, what ability would I have to do so? I should take into account that I would have to be able to afford to pay for everything. Before, I had hoped to obtain such unrealistic happiness and stability.
I must have gone crazy.
The money came quickly, much easier than earning a regular paycheck. I’ve done a lot of bad things before, withstanding this. It was easy money. It was nothing to be guilty about, so I was at ease. It was not long after the cash started coming in that trouble came. Tong Shan had bought an entire business from another party. Rumor was that they had wanted out, anxious to wipe their hands clean, and wanted to sell this profitable business. Tong Shan would take over all of the supplies, the contracts, and the customers. Everything was in good shape, all Tong Shan had to do was sit at home and count the money.
Who knew that as soon as he finished the deal, another business got taken over and S City’s seaport was suddenly taken over by the Xie family. It had come out of nowhere, no one saw this coming.
The Xie family, unlike Cao Fang’s former men, would not allow this transaction to take place. No matter how much Tong Shan tried, they refused to cooperate. With such a large quantity of goods stored, the cash would also become too troublesome to handle. Now that the situation was so critical, it was too late to pull out. How could one back out when he had come so far? The losses would be too tough to stomach.
For several days, I suffered huge losses – every day there was a delay, which meant a large sum of money. I was hoping that importing once would decrease the number of years spent working. I could not help having issues concentrating at work. Fortunately, Ke Luo didn’t say anything. In fact, sitting with me in one office, he would have noticed my lack of concentration, but he was never one to speak out of turn, so I was happily spared.
When I saw Tong Shan again, he seemed to be in a great mood, beaming with joy. He practically seemed like a different man from the last time, when he had told me his "bad news," while wearing the expression of a man with a toothache.
“Tong, sir," I said as I took his money, addressing him in a formal manner, "I just spoke with Mr. Cao, he said-"
"No need to worry," Tong grinned and waved his hand dismissively, "we're good."
"It's settled?" I was somewhat surprised.
Tong Shan remained cheerful as he said, "it was practically delivered to our doorstep."
"Someone from the Xie family came to T city, and was practically delivered here at gunpoint, so I took the opportunity," Tong Shan laughed like a Maitreya Buddha, "the head of the Xie family is practically clutching his chest right now. How can he turn down our demands?"
I was surprised. He had come back from the dead. Although I personally thought that acts like kidnapping were a bit despicable, I couldn't be bothered with it. I was pretty much a bad guy anyway too. It is fine as long as no one dies. We both sat down, cutting a cigar to smoke away the misfortune from the last two days. Tong Shan pulled out a small case and I politely smiled as I tried to avoid his eyes. I don't have the guts to mess with drugs. I felt uncomfortable seeing him looking so satisfied. Drug addicts and gambling addicts were the two types of people I hated the most; they were the types to ruin their own families, selling their wives and children…
My head throbbed and a strange feeling welled up as I suddenly pieced something together.
“Tong, sir, that man from the Xie family…”
“Is he called Shu Nian?”
Tong Shan looked at me kindly. “You know quite a lot.”
I tactfully laughed. “Xie Yan is a bit ambiguous with that assistant, and it's a coincidence that I happened to know.”
"Oh," Tong Shan lazily replied and closed his eyes again.
“Tong, sir,” unable to control myself, I called out to him, “If you’re all right with it, let me watch him. Those men are too rough; if they hurt him in any way, that would put us in a tough situation.”
At this point, I kind of regretted volunteering to do such a third-rate errand. The kidnapped was kept in an old, deserted warehouse. I hated the desolate, wretched smell of the place, but I still went in. As a precaution, I also wore one of those ridiculous, hideous Chinese opera masks. The door opened with a loud creak and the man inside cringed. Both of his hands were tied behind his back and his feet were bound. He was also blindfolded and gagged as well. He was practically tied up to his teeth.
The small fry who was watching him was about to doze off, so I dismissed him. When the door had closed again, I stood there and watched him in silence, feeling a subtle need to express my hatred. Every man has his day.
I could tell he was very scared. As I walked over, I deliberately walked heavily, but did not say anything. The man could not see, he could only hear. Stricken with panic, he tried to determine where I was. I crouched in front of him and leisurely started to untie his feet, but before I had the chance to start to intimidate him, he suddenly kicked me. Caught off guard, he nailed me in my chin and soon I was seeing stars.
As I rubbed my chin, my pride injured, he managed to struggle to his feet and took a couple of steps. But I was not in any rush. Go ahead and run, let's see where you could run.
Sure enough, he was at a loss. Blindfolded, there was no way he could tell where he was going, yet he stumbled along, trying his best. Just then I noticed that he had a slight limp in his right leg. It was fine when he was walking normally, but it was fairly obvious when he ran. To think that I actually lost to a crippled man, one with a scar on his face at that.
The vein in my head started to throb again. I took a couple steps forward, grabbed him, and pushed him to the ground. Shu Nian fought back desperately, his clothes becoming disheveled. I had no idea why I did what I did, but I tugged at his pants.
This was too funny. How could I be interested in this kind of old man? But I was curious enough to want to know what was so good about this man. How was he better than me?
Shu Nian protested loudly as he fiercely struggled. Honestly speaking, I didn’t have even the slightest sexual interest in him, but I did enjoy the sight of his panic and fear. So I clutched his ankle and slowly and steadily stripped off his pants. There was actually an assist device on his right leg. How disappointing, I didn't know that Ke Luo could get hard looking at this. His left leg was not perfect either; there were burn scars, two stark, symmetrical and oddly shaped scars.
What could have left such scars?
My hands immediately stopped. In this tightly pressed position, I stared at him and my head suddenly started to swirl.
I was eight years old at the time. I was too small and thin at the time, so I looked like I was not even six yet. I usually had to light the fire and cook--I was good at that. The thin congee in the large pot on the stove gurgled. I sat on a small stool, slowly adding straw and dried vines to the fire. There were always a few small shriveled peanuts that were not picked from these vines. So they would cook in the fire until they popped, in which then one could pull them out to eat. Even though it had been eaten by insects, it still tasted okay.
My little brother had tottered over and watched me for a while. He wanted to take them.
"No, go away, these are mine," I told him. He only had a few teeth anyway; it was not like he could crack the shell with his teeth. It would be a waste of food.
"Go away, go away." Taking the tongs that were used in the fire, I held them out at him, opening and closing them to scare him. My brother babbled, unable to understand what I was saying as he stared at me with wide eyes. I didn't know my own strength and the tongs caught his leg. The smell of burning flesh and smoke arose. I was struck with fear as he burst into tears.
From then on, I did my best to save whatever there was to eat for him. For the sake of a few peanuts, I had scalded my three years old brother with the fire tongs. I caused him to cry for ten days and had given him two frightening scars on his leg. I felt that I owed him and could never repay him.
I could hear the thundering pounding of my heart, the sound resounding strongly in my ears. My head suddenly throbbed a bit. I abruptly gripped his collar and pulled him up, demanding, “Who are you?”
I ripped off the man’s blindfold and harshly ripped out the gag in his mouth. My mask must have been vicious because he was stunned with fear. “Who are you!?”
Before he could answer, the mobile phone in my pocket rang. Something was wrong; that was their cue for me to get out quickly. But with Shu Nian in my grasp, the blood rushed to my head as I looked at the face that was so similar to mine. I refused to leave. My veins pulsated, my temples throbbed. Unable to control myself, I grabbed his neck with force, "Out with it!” Say it so I can leave! Why wouldn't he answer me?!
Tell me that our resemblance to each other does not mean anything, that those scars are just a coincidence. The one and only relative I had left had died a long time ago.
I shook him violently. I had lost control over my own strength; I was practically strangling him to death. Hearing a strange sound overhead, I looked up. A piece of the iron sheeting that was attached to the ceiling of the decaying warehouse rocked unsteadily. Right before my eyes, the last piece of reinforcement broke and it came crashing down. I don't know what I was thinking or maybe I wasn't thinking at all, but I instinctively shoved him out of the way.
After that, I could hear muffled sounds. It had relentlessly hit me in the head, my vision went dark, but fortunately, my vision slowly came back. There was a scorching numbness at the top of my head, which was gradually replaced with pain and a wet sensation. I was probably bleeding, but I could still stand -- unsteadily, but I should be okay.
Just then, the door flew open from the outside. My reaction was slow, but I clearly saw the man coming at me, a murderous look on his face, yet I couldn’t move. I couldn’t dodge Ke Luo's kick in time and immediately fell to my knees.
“His head is injured,” I was bent over in pain when I heard Shu Nian frantically shouting, “quick, call an ambulance!” The man still managed to be so kind even in this situation; I hated him. If I had known that it would come to this, I would have just crushed his windpipe then.
“I’ll kill him!” I could hear Ke Luo’s rage from his voice. The humiliating appearance of a disheveled Shu Nian was enough to drive him more mad, causing him to kick me in the stomach two more times. I heaved and curled up instantly as I rested my forehead against the ground, my lips pressed together as I remained silent.
“Ke Luo, stop this!”
He ripped the mask off my face and silence ensued. A moment later, I heard the sound of the mask being chucked at the floor, followed by by the crack of it being crushed underfoot.
What a joke, was there any other supporting actor as lame as me?
Serves me right.
Comment: Were you all surprised? This chapter was definitely a painful turn of event for Lee. Uwaah, what is Lee to do now?! What is Ke Luo going to do??? DX