Chapter 1/5

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Since Yang Chen had discovered that he was wrong to accuse Lin Ruoxi of monitoring him, he had no intention of being a coward and not apologizing to her. However, Lin Ruoxi might still be fuming in anger over what he had said. Nevertheless, it was only right for him to do so. In his rush to make things right with her, Yang Chen had forgotten about the red wine and hurried upstairs where he stopped in front of the door of Lin Ruoxi’s room.

Yang Chen carefully went over the apology in his mind. When he was fully satisfied, he cautiously knocked on the door hoping for a reply.

There was no movement that could be heard and the room was seemingly empty but Yang Chen could sense that Lin Ruoxi was still in her room.

Yang Chen felt utterly helpless. Even though he had very little shame, he wasn’t completely oblivious to the gravity of the situation. Yang Chen knew that if he were to forcefully barge into Lin Ruoxi’s room, she would fly into another fit of rage. It wouldn’t matter by then if his intentions were right or wrong.

This left Yang Chen with no choice but to continue standing at her doorway. “Ruoxi, I know I am in the wrong for doubting you. Please, just try and be the bigger person and forgive me this time. I won’t ever doubt you without finding out the truth first. I promise,” he apologized.

Silence emanated from the room. Yang Chen could only stand in her doorway and plead for his forgiveness.

He stood there quietly and patiently waiting for a response. But a couple minutes went by and there was still no response. It was clear to him that she had no intention of speaking to him. Yang Chen was left with no choice but to summon every ounce of his strength to walk himself back to his room, wine forgotten and emotionally drained.

Yang Chen’s mind was in a state of utter chaos. He was filled with the thoughts of the unresolved issues he had with Mo Qianni, and the fact that he had angered Lin Ruoxi to the point where she couldn’t even be bothered to respond to his pleas. He felt like a failure which had no hope of salvation.

He spent the whole night tossing and turning, wondering how to go about the matter of getting Lin Ruoxi’s forgiveness. The very next morning, Yang Chen dragged his unwilling body out of bed and headed down stairs. He was greeted with the sight of Lin Ruoxi having breakfast with Zhenxiu.

Just as Yang Chen thought of approaching her, he saw a flash of annoyance and hatred in her eyes. Lin Ruoxi set down her chopsticks, stiffly stood up and said to Wang Ma who was just coming out of the kitchen, “Wang Ma, I’ve already had my fill of breakfast. I’m heading out to work now.”

Wang Ma, disappointed with her, said “But Miss Ruoxi, you ate so little this morning.”

“I’m not that hungry,” said Lin Ruoxi offhandedly. She took her handbag and left without another word.

Yang Chen was left standing at the door that Lin Ruoxi had left from. He had to swallow his well crafted apology back to the pits of his stomach. The fact that Ruoxi’s hatred for him had reached a point where she wouldn’t even give him an opportunity to speak up for himself, left Yang Chen in a state of distress.

Zhenxiu’s doe-eyed gaze fixed itself on Yang Chen’s back and said, “Brother Yang, have you done something to stir up Sister Ruoxi’s wrath again? She looks angrier than ever before.”

Yang Chen mutely glanced at Zhenxiu. Can I blame her for being mad at me? In any case, I used to trust her but I slipped up this time and made the mistake of immediately doubting her character, he thought.

Unfortunately, regret was a disease with no cure. If such a cure existed, Yang Chen would have sacrificed his entire being for a chance to obtain that cure.

Wang Ma pursed her lips and shook her head, but chose to remain silent. She went to serve a bowl of millet gruel to Yang Chen but had given him a look that conveyed her inner thoughts—This is your mess, clean it up.

Yang Chen finished the rest of his breakfast in a daze and offered to send Zhenxiu to school. However, she turned him down, stating, “I don’t feel like seeing Brother Yang’s gloomy face.” this left Yang Chen more confused—emotionally speaking—than ever before.

With no one to take pity on his plight, Yang Chen had no choice but to go to work. Speaking of work, he hadn’t been to his office for a few days. Ever since the Star of Yu Lei ended, the company’s reputation had improved greatly and the rest of the subsequent projects were coming along nicely. With Wang Jie and Zhao Teng running everything, Yang Zhen’s work as the director was quite easy.

When Yang Chen arrived at the office, he discovered that An Xin had come back to work as usual. Her petite body was clad in a pale yellow pleated dress that showed off her bare shoulders and her silky black locks neatly tucked behind the ears. The fresh yet elegant look she sported elevated her already-marvellous beauty to an ethereal-like quality, gently surprising him.
Seated on Yang Chen’s leather chair, An Xin was pouring over the documents on the office table. Compared to Yang Chen’s slovenly work ethic, An Xin—who had been under positive influences since a young age—was more suited to be the director than he was.

Upon seeing Yang Chen enter the office, An Xin raised her head and smiled sweetly at him. “Dear, you’re late for work today.”

“Be glad I decided to show up,” said Yang Chen while smirking. He moved forward, closing the distance between him and An Xin’s pale cheeks. “I had no idea that my dear An Xin had such a delicate side to her. With the way things are going, my little vixen might soon turn into a fairy,” he tutted.

An Xin pouted, “I’ve been posing as a vixen for so long that I’ve nearly turned into one myself. So in order to make the people around you approve of me, from this day onwards, I’m going to pay extra attention to my external appearance.”

Her words seemed petty in nature, but to Yang Chen, it was rather tear-jerking.

Previously, they had a chance encounter with Guo Xuehua and Wang Ma. Even Lin Ruoxin had also come in between their bouts of passion. Even though no one was really against An Xin, it did not mean that they supported her whole-heartedly either.

An Xin was fated to be the third party in the relationship no matter what. This feeling of helplessness had caused her to stop coming to work or to meet Yang Chen.

As of now, An Xin had returned to work a changed woman. She changed her outlook, hoping that this fresh look of hers would be more accepted by the others.

Yang Chen reached out to pinch her soft cheeks, and said, “I don’t care whether you’re a vixen or a fairy. I like you no matter what.”

An Xin smiled sweetly, then pointed at the stack of documents in her hand. “While you were away, I started going through the promotion plans. The plans are about Hui Lin’s upcoming album release and her concert. Do you want to go through it together?”

“Hui Lin’s concert?” Yang Chen never thought that Hui Lin would have gotten her own concert so quickly. Wow. Things are progressing very fast for her, aren’t they? he thought.

An Xin nodded thoughtfully and continued, “Hui Lin’s popularity may not be as high as some of the other old-timers, but in terms of strength she’s definitely winning. Furthermore, she has Christen’s support. It helps that her mysterious background piques the curiosity of the general public. At the rate of her growing success, a concert would definitely not be a problem for her. Hui Lin is also a Beijing local, so organising her own concert there would definitely be a success.”

Yang Chen smiled politely at her words. What An Xin said about Hui Lin’s background being mysterious had to be Abbess Yun Miao’s doing.

The Lin clan might not be as influential as the four major clans, but they still came from official backgrounds. If any children from the Lin clan entered the entertainment industry, it would definitely be harmful to the country’s stoic image.

Because of this, even the media and the paparazzi were hesitant to dig up Hui Lin’s real backstory lest they be targeted by the government and hunted down. However, there were still some ignorant fools who attempted to uncover details about her past but were quickly stopped in their tracks.

This was also one of the main reasons why Abbess Yun Miao was against her granddaughter choosing the life of an entertainer. But even though she might seem cold and downright cruel, the truth was that she was a huge softie when it came to Hui Lin. When Hui Lin started showing off her dulcet tones, Abbess Yun Miao could do little but silently help her overcome the obstacles in her career.

Now Yang Chen had lost the mood to go through the plans, he lazily made his way to the sofa instead and draped himself over it. “Just do as you see fit. If it’s good enough for you, it’s good enough for me. I don’t know the first thing when it comes to these kinds of operations anyway.”

An Xin picked out an unusual strain in Yang Chen’s voice then cautiously asked him, “Hubby… is there something weighing on your mind?”

He smiled sheepishly. “You could tell just from that?”

“Yang Chen, you absolutely lifeless. It’s my first time seeing you in such a pitiful state,” she said, worried about him.

Yang Chen didn’t have anything to hide from her. And it wouldn’t hurt for a second opinion on the matter. So, he recounted the entire fiasco about Mo Qianni and Lin Ruoxi. When he was done, he turned to An Xin and said dejectedly, “Sweetheart, as a woman, please tell me what should be done to let my mother-in-law approve of me being together with Qianni. And what do I do to go about getting forgiveness from Ruoxi.”

An Xin stared dumbly at Yang Chen. She had no idea that such a simple question would have opened the floodgates to Yang Chen’s problems.

“After listening to your troubles… my own problems pale in comparison,” An Xin said solemnly. “I may be a woman, but I’m not a mother—so I can’t fully comprehend that aunt’s actions. I believe that only a mother would understand another mother’s emotions.”

Yang Chen stayed silent. This was one of the major obstacles in his way of solving this problem. He was in no position to sway Ma Guifang.

“However,” An Xin pursed her lips and said, “Boss Lin’s anger towards you can easily be abated. I don’t peg her as the petty type.”

An Xin had had many interactions with Lin Ruoxi before, so when she said that, Yang Chen’s spirits were instantly lifted.

An Xin mulled it over, then said, “I think that the best way to get Sister Ruoxi to forgive you, would be by showing her your sincerity.”

Yang Chen’s brain suddenly cleared. That’s it! How could I possibly have forgotten since the beginning, Tang Wan had asked to me to get to know Ruoxi’s past better? All of his personal problems had piled up so the thought never occurred to him. Once An Xin had mentioned it, Yang Chen finally found the piece of the puzzle that he had been looking for.

He sat up without warning to fish out his smartphone and called the house phone.

The person on the other end of the receiver happened to be Wang Ma. IT was just the person he was looking to talk to. He hurriedly asked, “Wang Ma, do you still recall the names of the kindergarten, elementary school, middle school and high school that Ruoxi attended?”

“Of course! I used to accompany her to school all the time. But, Young Master, why are you asking this out of the blue?” Wang Ma’s voice was laced with curiosity.

Yang Chen giggled. “It’s nothing, I’m just trying to understand something. Do go on.”

Seated beside an ecstatic Yang Chen, mirth danced across An Xin’s face. But deep down, she was envious of Ruoxi. Would the day finally come when her man would show interest in her past?

Inside Li Moshen’s study room within his house in Beijing, Li Moshen was clad in a Western-styled coat, and was cheerfully facing the middle-aged man in a soldier’s uniform seated in front of him.

“The day has just started, what brings you here, General Cai? Surely you’ve not come all this way for some morning tea?” Li Moshen wore a doting expression on his face, as if he was looking at a beloved nephew and not the highest ranked official in the all-powerful security bureau.

This was also Cai Yuncheng’s first time stepping foot on the Li clan’s residence even though their descendant Yong Ye had been pursuing his daughter Cai Ning. However, Cai Yuncheng had never intended to rise in ranks by taking full advantage of his own daughter. That was not the case in the past when he was not the general of the Yellow Flame Iron Brigade, and it still wouldn’t be now. Even though he was on equal footing with the Li clan, he still kept his distance from them.

Cai Yuncheng laughed and shook his head before lifting a clay teacup and sipped on the boiling tea. That cup of tea had been personally served by the eldest son in the Li clan, Li Yunpeng.

Wearing a modest Chinese tunic suit, Li Yunpeng was a handsome, dapper, middle-aged man, although in truth, he was not much older than Cai Yuncheng. At this moment, he was smiling warmly and standing next to Li Moshen, but didn’t utter a single word.

In fact, the oldest son in the Li clan, Li Yunpeng, had always come across as Li Moshen’s personal assistant. It was rare for him to show off his capabilities. In contrast, his son Li Dun was much more well-known in Beijing. Yan Buwen from the Yan clan and Li Dun were known as the Beijing King Duo.

It was as if the Li clan started from Li Moshen then proceeded to Li Dun directly. Li Yunpeng who was in the middle, was nothing more than a bridge spanning both generations.

However, anyone with brains would know better than to underestimate Li Yunpeng, because a middle-aged man who could survive in such a household and do odds and ends for his own father, was competent in ways that the public could not fathom just yet.

“Chief, I wouldn’t dare disturb you if this wasn’t an urgent matter,” said Cai Yun bluntly.

Li Moshen squinted. “Although the Yellow Flame Iron Brigade falls under the supervision of the security bureau, they’ve always been very independent. Now that General Cai is in charge, and there wouldn’t be any changes anytime soon, feel free to request this lazy chief to show up if you need help.”

Cai Yun mulled over his words, his fingertip unconsciously tapping on the armrests of the chair. He then spoke up. “There’s been trouble in Zhonghai.”

Li Moshen’s expression remained unchanged. Instead, he asked, “Is it that kid from the Yang clan?”

“That’s right,” said Cai Yuncheng, smiling gently. “Sky Dragon and Ye Zi who are in charge of monitoring him reported to me last night, saying that there have been conflicts between Yang Chen and the White Wolf Society from Su Province along with some conflict with the Zhu family. I’ve sent the comprehensive details to the archives. You may go over them if you’d like.”

Li Moshen raised his head slightly and turned to his son, signalling the latter.

Li Yunpeng nodded. He proceeded to retrieve a sleek but rarely used laptop from a cabinet. He helped his father to turn on the laptop and accessed the archives of the security bureau.

Li Moshen opened the the file containing a comprehensive report on the incident and some background information. He skimmed through the file solemnly. “The White Wolf Society in Su Province is not as straightforward as they seem to be. Not only that, their dealings with the Zhu family have been going on for a long period of time. If we were to strike now, it would cause a disturbance in the nature of things.”

Cai Yuncheng laughed bitterly. “My thoughts exactly. The Zhu family from Su Province are extremely influential and the White Wolf Society are quite well off themselves. With them in Su Province, the underworld there has always been fairly stable. We intended to leave them as they were because the situation was mutually beneficial. But now, Yang Chen was dead serious on wiping them out. And once he sets his mind to something, I have never not known him to succeed.”

Li Moshen furrowed his eyebrows and asked, “What’s the matter? Doesn’t he care about Hongmeng?”

Cai Yuncheng replied, “Sky Dragon informed me that Yang Chen doesn’t care whether Hongmeng shows up or not this time. He ensured us that the White Wolf Society would be eradicated. If we do not intervene, he will use his influence overseas and act by himself.”

Li Moshen burst into laughter. “He really is Yang Gongming’s grandson after all! I thought that he would bear it in silence. But it would appear as though he is capable of doing anything he wants. This is great! Let us leave the White Wolf Society to their own demise.”

At the sight of Li Moshen’s abrupt decision, Cai Yuncheng frowned and said, “Sir, the minute the White Wolf Society falls, the order in the underworld of Su Province will definitely be disrupted. Furthermore, the Zhu family would fall into their own state of disarray. That would mean the officials from Su Province will have to be reassigned. Also, the National People’s Congress has just concluded not long ago. An event like this will not go unnoticed.”

“Then what do you suggest?” Li Moshen pointed his index finger southwards. “The kid from the Yang clan doesn’t care about any of this. Without Hongmeng, even if the Yellow Flame Iron Brigade were to team up with the security bureau, we probably wouldn’t even stand a chance against his two mercenary groups. Heck, we might not even stand a chance against a handful of members from Zero.”

“This is something far beyond our capabilities. Rather than letting that brat of the Yang clan cause a huge ruckus, we should instead slay the brutes we raised ourselves to feel more at ease.”

Cai Yuncheng felt as if he had just woken up from a deep dream. His eyes were filled with admiration. All along, it was but much ado about nothing.

The Yellow Flame Iron Brigade’s constant monitoring did not serve any purpose of limiting Yang Chen. Since Yang Chen was already so insistent on toppling the White Wolf Society and the Zhu family, if the only party who stood a chance against him—Hongmeng—failed to show up, it would have disastrous consequences for them.

"Old Li, your insight into this matter have been most enlightening," Cai Yuncheng said, dropping the honorific​ form of address 'chief'. He stood up and bowed. "Please let the Yellow Flame Iron Brigade carry out this task. After all, we excel at reconnaissance."

Li Moshen did not raise any concerns on that matter, and grinned. "General Cai, you should visit the Li clan more often! My nephew's son, Yong Ye, is marrying your daughter Flower Rain. Soon we would be considered relatives. Let us bond together for the sake of our future."

Cai Yuncheng lamented, seeing as matters had progressed till this stage. He actually felt that he had let down his eldest daughter Cai Ning. But he also knew that only the Li clan could save Cai Ning, so he smiled and nodded politely at Li Moshen's suggestion before he excused himself.

Once Cai Yuncheng left, Li Yunpeng voiced out his concerns. "Father, are you sure about leaving the White Wolf Society and the Zhu family to their fate? If both parties are annihilated, the Su Province will descend into chaos."

Li Moshen narrowed his eyes, then said, "This has all been Yang Chen's doing. We’re only helpless bystanders after all. If anything catastrophic were to happen, no one can truly pin the blame on us for our inaction."

"But…" Li Yunpeng's face contorted into an undecipherable look. "I really don't understand what Yang Chen is thinking. He can't guarantee that Hongmeng won't show up and take action against him."

"Yang Gongming is hardly worried about this. Why should we worry on his behalf?" Li Moshen giggled.

Li Yunpeng just smiled softly and said, "I’m just curious. Why would someone with such privileges in life not sit still and enjoy them? Why doesn't he just stay abroad and enjoy his life there?"

"Yunpeng," Li Moshen said as he turned his gaze toward the brilliant sunrise from the window. "The fact that the kid was able to survive this long is already considered as a miracle. You shouldn’t use normal logic to rationalise his behavior. After all, no one is truly confident when faced with such an unknown variable.”

Li Yunpeng mulled over his father's insight in silence.

"Yang Gongming," Li Moshen muttered quietly to himself, "You have earned my utmost respect."