Within the Yang clan’s military district courtyard in Beijing, Yang Gongming was clothed in his usual gray robe, with his pair of secateurs, trimming overgrown branches in his garden. His vision is not what it used to be, making this seemingly simple task more difficult each day.
Not too far away at the stone table was Li Moshen, removing his coat in a calm and collected manner, revealing his striped shirt, as he patiently waited for his old friend to finish with his routine bonsai capistry. He silently watched with his tea cup in one hand, waiting to speak. After all, matters like these couldn’t be rushed.
Right by the courtyard stood Yan Sanniang, who was silently giggling to herself as she watched the two gentlemen. Nobody could tell what she was so happy about.
After about 15 minutes later, Yang Gongming finally decided that his boxwood tree was good to go; it was trimmed into a satisfyingly smooth circle. He then decided to stroll to the stone garden table, put his secateurs down, and sat right across Li Moshen.
He took a sip of the warm tea and slowly let out a long sigh, as if he had just finished a hard day’s work. In contrast, his face was bright and proud, as he casually took multiple looks at his boxwood plant and grinned contentedly. “These plants you see, don’t think it’s pointless to trim them every once in awhile. It might not seem to have changed much, but once u trim them you notice how big of a difference it is, haha!”
Yang Gongming sounded like he was talking to himself. He was extremely pleased with his gardening skills, but Li Moshen quickly took the conversation over. “Well I don’t have as much patience and tenacity to deal with my plants, I get the servants to handle it for me. But I do agree that these plants should be trimmed regularly. It's just that I never had the will to do it myself. If one of them really bugs me I might just uproot it.”
“Oh no, don’t do that,” Yang Gongming reactively shook his hands and said, “For a tree to grow to a stage where they can be trimmed is not easy, if you cut off a branch, there’s still the trunk; if you chop off the trunk, there’s still the roots. And maybe even the roots are connected to other trees, and they might grow into a plethora of saplings. You never know what blessings could come from just one tree. If it someone is willing to care for it and maintain it, a little hard work might just be worth it.”
Li Moshen took a sip of tea, which led to a satisfied smile of his face, as he said, “Yang, your tea really is remarkably rich.”
“Haha, Li, my old friend, if you really like it you can bring some of it back. These tea leaves aren’t of any famous or expensive brands, they were just harvested and roasted from some of the tea trees back at my old garden. I have been living quite the frugal lifestyle all these years. If you really want me to savour those good tea that costs a few thousand bucks for a couple grams I might even complain about it tasting too exquisite!” Yang Gongming shook his head and said.
Li Moshen joyously agreed. “Well the frugal life suits us better, at this age, who knows how long more we can savour exquisite food? I’m afraid my old guts might not be able to take it. How about I get Yunpeng to bring over some pickled vegetables in return for your homegrown tea?”
“You old bag, I’ll take it! But don’t let me catch you tricking me by buying fermented vegetables from a store!”
“I would never pull a trick that doesn’t look believable.” Li Moshen gave him an earnest look.
Just like that the two elders started talking about their homes, their gardens; just like any other old friends that hadn't met one another in a long while. If one delved into their conversation one might even think they were going senile!
As for the incident where Lu Min was murdered and Yang Chen's pursuit, they weren't mentioned the slightest bit.
Over at Zhonghai’s Yu Lei headquarters, cars filled the streets as people rushed to their work in the morning.
Ever since Yu Lei International’s successful production of an ultra-modern material, profits quadrupled, and the company’s stock came back from its imminent death twice, lifting the company to new heights.
Back then during an all-out stock market war, Yu Lei International tossed out a value of 50 billion in cash, turning the tides to their favour, proving even the harshest of critics wrong about what they initially deemed a structurally unstable company.
Present day Yu Lei International boasted a remarkably high number of fresh graduate applicants all fighting to secure a spot for their futures there; even high-level execs from their competitors had expressed their interests in jumping ship. This phenomenon boosted the ego of Yu Lei employees, who boasted about their employment there.
And naturally, as their leader, Lin Ruoxi was a target of high praise and adoration, becoming a charismatic spiritual leader of sorts to all her subordinates. Lin Ruoxi’s fanclub, Washing Powder, grew by the second, even possibly rivaling those of China's idols.
[TL note: Wash (洗) sounds similar to xi(溪) in Ruoxi.]
Yu Lei Entertainment had many exciting and even ridiculous plans to shape Lin Ruoxi into a celebrity, capitalizing on the success and fame that she possessed.
Obviously they were all just ideas and plans with no results. After all, who would have the guts to market the person in charge of the company as a product?
Amidst the success, Yang Chen as the director of Yu Lei Entertainment naturally knew more or less about the situation. But in his mind, it didn’t matter in the slightest. After all, he didn't think massive profits had hardly any effect on his wife’s happiness. Instead, their relationship, a far more important issue, was at its breaking point.
After driving all the way from home, Yang Chen took the elevator straight to the top floor to the CEO office.
Right off the elevator stood the CEO's aide, Wu Yue, wearing a black one-piece tube skirt. She appeared to have been waiting on someone.
Back when Yang Chen exposed her relationship with Li Minghe, she came to hate him more secretly, because she had always thought it was a well-kept secret. Little did she know Lin Ruoxi had found out for a while now, but stayed silent for the sake of her reputation.
Upon identifying Yang Chen, Wu Yue's gaze turned cold and she stiffly blurted, “Boss Lin has been waiting for you. Go in.”
Yang Chen was genuinely surprised to hear that because he assumed she was there to stop him. Moreover, Wu Yue was waiting there just to let him in!
“Ruoxi wants me to enter?” Yang Chen hesitated and repeated for confirmation.
Wu Yue was visibly aggravated. “Do you see a different Yang Chen here? The boss has said that the only person that she was willing to meet this morning was you, which is why I’m standing right here.”
Yang Chen got even more confused. What is she having in mind? Isn’t she mad at me? Why would she be waiting for me all this while?
However, he was used to her tangled and complicated thoughts that didn't match to her stoic facial expressions. It was only expected for him to be confused at her intentions.
Yang Chen tried to gather his thoughts as he strolled to the entrance of the CEO's office and knocked.
Lin Ruoxi’s voice sounded crisp and attractive like usual, with no hint of anger or turmoil. Her mood was once again impossible to guess.
The calmness he was experiencing at the moment was nothing like the scenario he predicted, and it unnerved him greatly.
But now that he had made it here, there was no more time to retreat and rework his approach, so with his thick skin he cautiously pushed the door open, and proceeded into the huge office suite.
The office didn't change at all. It was clean and tidy, spacious and elegant; aside from the decorative potted plants, nothing changed.
Lin Ruoxi wore a beige British fall coat as she stood by her desk with both hands on its surface, looking right at some massive blueprints on it.
Yang Chen closed the door behind him and walked towards her, noticing the blueprint that she was concentrating on was for a building instead of clothes as he initially expected.
There was stale awkwardness in the air which prompted Yang Chen to fake a cough. He glanced right at Lin Ruoxi. “My dear wife, Wu Yue said you were waiting for me.”
Lin Ruoxi evaded his question and pointed at the blueprint and monotonously asked, “What do you think of the designs?”
“Huh?” Yang Chen frustratedly moved closer to it, and he attentively focused on the blueprints. There were easily more than 3 of them there, which were either estate buildings or some new structures that were several stories high.
These architectural designs fused both eastern dimensions with western aspects, like round pillars and edged roofs, exuding an overtone of craftsmanship and sophistication. It was clearly not just any random architects design.
The buildings were probably large scale resorts. They seemed ultra-modern and innovative, but it would be hard pressed to complete without an early investment of more than a billion.
“Well, it is pretty good… but why are you looking at these?" Yang Chen was deeply anxious. He couldn’t care less about these blueprints at the moment, all he ever wanted right now was to organize his thoughts and put them into words. Whether it worked or not, he was only here for her forgiveness!
Lin Ruoxi however, was keen to clear the air. “Good? That’s too general, you have to be more specific.”
Yang Chen's mouth twitched. Why am I here talking about work reports? Wasn’t I called in to discuss our family matters?
“Well, who am I to say if it’s good or not? All I know is that it would cost a lot, and if you spend enough, it might turn out quite well.” Yang Chen hastily batted his way through.
Lin Ruoxi lifted her head, slightly disheartened and said, “What kind of logic is that? If it’s as you say, I might as well just cancel the project, to save up for a future, more expensive project, no?”
Yang Chen felt rather troubled. Is this woman really going to argue with me about building projects? Well screw it, I can’t hold it in anymore. If it goes on like this I might actually forget what I came here for!
He went straight to the point and said, “Ruoxi, I understand you must not be feeling good right now, that’s why we should stop beating around the bush and talk. I know you might not believe me anymore, but I just want to say that the things you witnessed this morning was not exactly like what you think it was. I know I’m at the wrong too but I actually just arrived at home, before that—”
Before he could finish Lin Ruoxi cut him off right then. She shook her head slightly and sighed. “You don’t need to explain anything, I wouldn’t have come all the way back to Zhonghai just for that little act. You wouldn’t lie to me about that.”
Yang Chen was genuinely surprised—she was not as narrow-minded as he had expected. But if that was the case, why did she furiously leave the house and come to the company?
Lin Ruoxi could not give a damn about what Yang Chen felt as she walked over to the window and stared out into the distance. She saw cramped skyscrapers fighting for their parts in the sky, and tiny roads the size of her fingernails down below. She went silent for a moment, and calmly proceeded, “Originally I that was all that I had to say so there was no need to continue, but now it seems that even if I don't want to hear it, you're going to say it anyway. So I guess I’ll go first then.”
Lin Ruoxi appeared light and breezy from behind. Her words hinted at dismay, but it was more of the tranquility that came after the storm.
“Yang Chen, do you still remember that one time when Yang Lie first came over to our place and what you did back then? Yang Lie angered you and you beat him up, which led to that Daoist master coming over alongside Cai Ning to beg for his life on behalf of him? Eventually, Yuan Ye had to stand up for him and admitted that Yang Lie was his cousin only for you to spare his life.
“When I found out Hui Lin was a part of the Lin clan, my mood really took a toll and I didn’t think about it much. But after that I had been thinking, Yang Lie and the Daoist master weren’t ordinary people, but they couldn't even compare to you and you really showed everyone that day how great you are. I can even say that it was the first time I felt such a shock when I found out about the big gap between me and you.
“And that day when Yuan Ye recognised Yang Lie as his cousin, all of a sudden you let him go. I suppose at that point I could guess your true identity. But seeing how you weren’t too eager to accept that, I decided to keep it to myself.”
As Lin Ruoxi narrated, Yang Chen was amazed again and again. She always seemed like she cared about almost nothing, but the things she kept to herself were truly remarkable.
“However I plotted against them and decimated both Changlin Media and the Xu clan's businesses in the process and got embroiled in a revenge plot by Zeng Xinlin and Xu Zhihong. You might be thinking: ‘why’s a soft little girl doing business with such intensity and ruthlessness, and is even willing to place her own life in harm’s way?' I declined to recognize Lin Zhiguo as my grandfather, but I knew either way he would never have left me alone if I were to get in trouble. I wasn’t too sure what Lin Zhiguo was capable of, but if he was strong enough to protect my grandmother, he definitely could defend me. And that’s why I used him as my pawn. But after I wrecked both the Zheng and Xu clans' businesses, he didn’t stand up for me, but you did. That’s when I thought that you must be tied to Lin Zhiguo’s faction somehow. Maybe he sent you to protect me. Either way, it didn’t matter to me as long as someone was there to deal with my obstacles.”
At that point, Lin Ruoxi turned and faced the genuinely amazed Yang Chen and gave a gentle smile. “Yang Chen, do you recall what I said to clear your head when you killed Zeng Xinlin and Xu Zhihong?”
“Yes, I do.” Yang Chen stoically answered, “You said, we were both poisonous scorpions. Only we can destroy ourselves.”
“Yeah.” Lin Ruoxi subconsciously moved her shoulders, like she was trying to hold in a giggle. “ Yang Chen, you’re an idiot, you know that? All I told was a story to trick a child. I didn’t think you’d believe it too.
“Yang Chen, you think someone like me who has never seen a dead person her entire life would readily accept a man who literally crushed a human’s brain into must, right in front of my eyes?”