Yang Chen laid it out as simply as possible to Xiao Zhiqing. However, it was as thundering as the sounds of New Year’s in her mind. At that moment, she was convinced he was much more than he seemed.
 
“Who are you? Even the elders who were appointed to deal with it couldn’t even come close to figuring it out. How is it that you were able to expel it with such ease?”
 
Yang Chen casually replied, “Regarding the elders, I don’t know. It is possible that you are not cured as of late. Your frost toxin is not from an external source, but within your veins. All I did was remove it from your body, shielding your veins.
 
“Just some time ago I might not be able to treat you, but for now I can suppress the toxin from corroding your body. The source, however, is still well and active. If all goes well, your frost toxin should not affect you for the next five decades or so.”
 
“Five decades?” Her pupils widened.  
 
“What, too short? Be grateful that you met me through sheer luck. There aren’t many people alive who are able to treat you. But as of now, as long as nothing out of the ordinary happens, the suppression should stay intact for the rest of your life!” Yang Chen pouted. “As a fellow hookup, you burnt a hole in my wallet, and I took your virginity, so much so to even repel your pain and illness. I believe that we are even.”
 
Xiao Zhiqing was stupefied as she mumbled, ”You actually treated my Nine Yin Meridian...”
 
“Oh, so that obnoxious pulse in your body is called ‘Nine Yin Meridian’. Its name does it justice. I see, maybe the toxins in you are secreted as a means of fighting fire with fire.” Yang Chen shook his head with a smile. “What a brutal means.”
 
Xiao Zhiqing upon hearing his statement turned visibly disgusted, her gaze filled with immense rage and hatred. “That’s right… Brutal indeed.”
 
Yang Chen was hardly bothered. Ignoring her rants, he strolled straight towards the bathroom in his birthday suit. After a tough grind through a long afternoon, his stomach started to grumble from hunger.
 
While watching the man walk into the bathroom, Xiao Zhiqing eventually snapped out of her thoughts. She turned to look at the heaped bedsheets, the disheveled aftermath of the incident.
 
It all seemed like a dream. She had pulled off similar tricks many times before. But not only did she get caught this time, she lost her body to a stranger in the process!
 
Just when she thought it was all over, this man, the man who outsmarted her decided to treat the chronic illness she had kept all her life.
 
The sensation of comfort and newfound vigor left her in confused tears, one that clouded her sight along with her emotions.
 
After several moments Yang Chen hopped out of the shower and started dressing himself. While buttoning his shirt, he declared to the woman who was still lying on the bed overwhelmed in her own thoughts. “Miss Zhiqing, I’m taking the ring with me. It’s for my woman and I meant every bit of it. As for the wine, you can keep it. Just see it as my remuneration of that decent wine of yours. I had fun today. Let’s not see each other ever again.”
 
Xiao Zhiqing stared blankly at Yang Chen who headed straight to the door without second thought, and reactively blurted out. “Yo—you’re leaving just like that?”
 
Yang Chen turned back and smirked. “What, do I have to take responsibility for this?”
 
“That’s not what I meant…” Xiao Zhiqing quickly denied, but was still stubbornly trying to keep him around as she bit on her lip. “I just want to know, how did you find out about my plans?”
 
“Oh, so you’re trying to identify the leak and improvise for your next scheme, I see?” Yang Chen burst out into laughter. “I don’t mind telling you, as long as you are open to feedback.”
 
 Xiao Zhiqing frowned in confusion.
 
“Your biggest failure was choosing the wrong target,” Yang Chen explained. “This morning when I reached the auction house, you were already at the outdoor cafe nearby observing my movements. At that moment, I took a guess that you very likely were looking for a single Asian man arriving on an expensive car. You must believe from previous heists that those people are the easiest of targets.
 
“And after you’d chosen me, you put up an act by the entry payment cashier to make sure I could buy my entrance. After you were certain that I was an auctioneer, you came flirting with me. But you are indeed a clever person. The options you took were, first, the liquor, which could easily be the most affordable of all biddings. Then you decided to secure the diamond ring which was easily the most expensive auction of them all. I assume your plan was to secure a guarantee, then bet on luck to see if I could nag the expensive one.”
 
Xiao Zhiqing paused to recollect her thoughts before she followed up with a question. “I was quite a distance away from you, and yet you were aware of me. Let me guess, are you by any chance a Hongmeng grandmaster?”
 
This time it was Yang Chen who was caught off-guard. “Wow, didn’t expect you to know them. Interesting. You’re wrong, I’m not remotely close to them. If there’s nothing else I’m leaving.”
 
Xiao Zhiqing felt really uncomfortable but nonetheless had no reason to keep him around, so she watched as the door closed.
 
The room returned to its usual silence. The woman dejectedly let out a sigh as she stared right at the hotel ceiling, her face simmered with glimpses of discouragement.
 
After a good rest, she sat upright on her way to wash off the tacky, gooey patches on her body. But right at that moment, her gaze fell upon the camera that was seated on the stand.
 
Xiao Zhiqing’s pupils instantly went as bright as the sun as if she discovered gold, before a wicked grin was seen on her face.

Outside the hotel, the streets were well lit with lamp posts and the moon.
 
Yang Chen leisurely trotted out of the hotel gate. Relishing the cooler weather, he felt recharged and ready to go.
 
Towards a woman like Xiao Zhiqing, despite his newfound liking for a chilly, seemingly boneless body, there was not much from the time with her that Yang Chen would cherish.
 
Regardless of her background or her lineage, since the first moment he met her, it was only a facade he decided to put up. No real feelings were involved.
 
Moreover, Yang Chen was aware that she was not someone from an ordinary background. Who knew the kind of troubles that might arise should he involve himself in this.
 
As for her virginity taken by himself, Yang Chen was hardly concerned about it. After all, if it was not for her schemes and extreme poisoning, he actually had no intention of forcing it upon her.
 
Unlike that crazy night with the little vixon An Xin, which he took the initiative to go up upon her, this time she was the one taking the front seat, which was why he had none of that emotional burden that came the last time with An Xin.
 
Back at his blue Porsche, Yang Chen switched on the engine before glancing over at the back mirror. The edges of his lips tweaked with a thought of a certain something, which was almost immediately suppressed as he steered towards the highway and dashed right through.
 
… …
 
In Beijing, inside the master bedroom of the Ning residence sat Ning Guangyao. He was sitting by the edge of his desk while gently stroking an exquisite lion paperweight made of white jade. He was currently being briefed by a messenger.
 
The chivelled faced messenger was dressed in a bespoke suit as he stood right at the entrance while he cautiously elaborated the details.
 
When it appeared to be about done, Ning Guangyao interrupted him. “So you’re saying... all this while, the madam has always been with that little beggar?”
 
“Yes, the madam’s three meals were prepared by that little beggar. I was told there were twice in between when the madam was hit with high fever, during that too the scum beggar was there by her side.”
 
Ning Guangyao’s calm face had a flash of confusion. “That beggar, what is his background, did you manage to dig it up?”
 
“He was just a lowly farm boy. A few years ago he failed his college entrance exam, soon after his parents died. The beggar is also a cripple, without any social benefits. He has been part of the homeless society ever since. According to the words of some beggars loitering here in Zhonghai, the cripple was welcomed by most of his beggar peers, because he is literate and able to provide them the assistance they need.”
 
Ning Guangyao nodded. “Has the madam ever contacted anyone from home, or anyone else at all?”
 
The well-suited messenger replied, “The madam has always been in solemn mood. She has never contacted anyone besides that cripple. Oh yeah, that recently reunited grandson of the Yang clan, Yang Chen, he met with the madam once, but did not prolong his stay.”
 
Upon hearing the mentioning of the name ‘Yang Chen’, the paperweight in Ning Guangyao’s grasp was clenched as tight as he possibly could, almost as if he wanted to bore a hole through the white jade.
 
Nevertheless, it did not take too long before Ning Guangyao returned to his usual composure. “Those three beggars that I ordered you to get rid off, how did it go?”
 
“Rest assured, Master. They have been taken care of.” The man in the bespoke suit cracked a sinister laugh.
 
“Good... Make sure no traces are left behind.”
 
“Sure, but do you mind me asking, why aren’t we hastening the return of madam? Besides, shouldn’t the cripple be one of the scums to be executed?”
 
Ning Guangyao instantly appeared filled with pain and agony, before making a decisive decision. “The madam... is no longer part of the Ning clan.”
 
“Huh?” The man in the bespoke suit lifted his head in confusion.
 
“Pick a time to bring the madam and that cripple back to Beijing. But be sure to be as subtle and swift as possible. I don’t want news of this getting out to the public. If I so much as hear a whisper on the topic, I will ensure that you will not stand before me again,” Ning Guangyao gruntled.
 
The man in the suit seemed to have understood something as fear and frustration flashed through his eyes, but he ultimately nodded his head. “Rest assured Master, I swore an oath for the clan. I intend to keep it.”
 
“Hmm, I admire your loyalty. You must know this is a situation that directly influences the pride of this clan, a problem for its members to deal with themselves. Remember, do not let the news reach my son.” Ning Guangyao made sure to emphasize.
 
The well-suited messenger nodded in agreement. Seeing that he had no orders left to give, he slowly retreated out of the room.
 
As the door slowly came to a close, Ning Guangyao circled the rims of the table and walked towards a photo frame standing by the insides of the table.
 
On the photo was a couple in all smiles, Luo Cuishan, and himself.
 
Ning Guangyao was filled with grief with what he had just done. “Cuishan, forgive me.”
 
Whack!
 
The sounds of shattering glass echoed through the empty room.