Vol. 1: Chapter four – dinner (part 1)

Sun Xiao and Li Xinwen reached the latter’s room found at the second floor of the house. His room was located immediately to the right of the staircase. ‘This is a rather generous space!’ Li Xinwen thought. He was comparing it to how they lived in the Soaring Heaven sect where the hallways to the living quarters were narrow and bare. Of course, after he had become a peak master for Soaring Heaven Sect, he had a courtyard of his own. But the size of the hut he had within that courtyard was still not comparable to this!

‘Just how big is this house?’ Li Xinwen wondered.

In the middle of his suit were a smaller version of the living room found downstairs and two other rooms that could be seen on the far side of the floor. Referring to the original’s memories, he saw that the room to the right belonged to Sun Xiao and that the one on the left belonged to Jinghua. Their mother, owing to her age, slept in the master’s bedroom downstairs.

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Sun Xiao opened the door to Li Xinwen’s room and led him to his bed to rest.

“Thank you Ah‘Xiao,” Li Xinwen said smiling.

Sun Xiao merely nodded before excusing himself and closed the door to Li Xinwen’s room.

“This is quite a cosy room,” Li Xinwen mumbled to himself as he surveyed his new surroundings. The room had wooden floors and a simplistic layout, giving off a zen atmosphere. Clean lines and the combination of the rich brown and black tones added to the subdued and tranquil atmosphere of the room. The bed was soft and large enough to fit two people. At the foot of the bed was a small Recamier divan and on either side were bedside tables illuminated by light fixtures secured against the wall.

A carpet accentuated the middle of the room. Immediately to the right was a walk-in closet of considerable size with glass walls acting as a partition. Shirts and trousers were hung neatly and were organized according to colours. With rows and rows of shoes and plenty of drawers.

At the corner of the room, an accent chair and small coffee table could be seen near the shelf lined with books, scripts and decorative items all arranged in a stylish manner. It seemed that the original Li Xinwen used this part of his room as his workplace where he studied his script or read his books. In a way, it looked like a small library.

The curtains were drawn but it was easy to make out the sliding glass doors behind them which lead to a small terrace.

“So this is how an actor’s room looks like?” Lin Xinwen expressed. “The room even has its own toilet and bath. This would have been unheard of in the Soaring Heaven sect! Even the highest-ranking masters’ quarters cannot compare to this extravagance!” shaking his head.

With some effort, he made his way over to draw the curtains open to let some of the afternoon light into the room. Li Xinwen decided to continue cultivating. He sat on the carpet cross-legged as if in meditation and closed his eyes to sense the spiritual energy in the surroundings.

Somewhere in his consciousness, Li Xinwen heard a knocking against a wooden surface. It was soft yet persistent and was enough to bring his awareness back. When he opened his eyes, Sun Xiao was peeking in and had opened the door to his room.

“Xin-gege, it’s almost dinner time…” Sun Xiao informed him timidly as if to apologize for the interruption. Somehow it made Li Xinwen feel that Sun Xiao’s timidity was also a defence mechanism on his part, to put some distance between himself and those around him.

Ah‘xiao, you know you don’t have to be afraid of me right?” Li Xinwen asked as if to reassure the boy that it was okay.

“Not afraid…” Sun Xiao’s short response was to be expected.

“Alright, alright,” Li Xinwen said smiling “You’re not afraid…are you here to help Ge?”

Sun Xiao did not give an answer but made his way over and helped Li Xinwen stand up from where he was seated. Gently, he took Li Xinwen’s arm and placed it on his shoulder for support.

“You’ve become quite strong and have grown so much Ah‘Xiao. Gege appreciates you supporting me like this,” he said fondly to Sun Xiao as they made their way downstairs to the dining room. Li Xinwen did not notice the slight blush that adorned Sun Xiao’s cheek. 

When they arrived downstairs, Li Xinwen immediately noticed a difference in the air around the ground floor. It felt different from when he first arrived home from the press conference. Something was abuzz. It wasn’t dark or menacing. It felt more electric and energized, but he couldn’t seem to locate the source. ‘I wonder where this energy is coming from,’ he thought distractedly, and so he didn’t notice the man sitting in the living room, looking at him expectantly.

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It wasn’t until Xue Rui cleared his throat and made a coughing sound that Li Xinwen’s averted his gaze towards where Xue Rui was seated. For a split second, Li Xinwen saw a faint green light flickering around Xue Rui which quickly dissipated. ‘It must have been my imagination,’ Li Xinwen thought before greeting Xue Rui.

“Good evening Rui-ge. Welcome to our home. To what do we owe the pleasure of your company?”

Sun Xiao helped Li Xinwen sit down on the sofa opposite Xue Rui before sitting down beside Li Xinwen quietly.

“Jinghua invited me for dinner to celebrate your discharge from the hospital,” Xue Rui responded, smiling broadly.

‘Didn’t Hua-jie and Rui-ge have a fight? Perhaps they’ve already made up with each other? Well, that was fast. I guess a woman in love can easily find it in her heart to forgive,’ Li Xinwen thought while looking for Li Jinghua. ‘If it were me, I would’ve let the cold war last for a very long time…’

The sounds and smell coming from the kitchen indicated that Li mother and Li Jinghua were busy preparing dinner. Li Xinwen was looking forward to dinner, having tasted the sumptuous spread they prepared when he arrived during lunch. In the world where he was from, eating was considered more as a form of indulgence instead of a need.

As an immortal, he didn’t need to eat for sustenance. But the food he had for lunch made a lasting impression, and just thinking about it made his mouth water. Smiling at the thought Li Xinwen’s attention was again caught by a faint flicker in Xue Rui’s direction.

A vibrating energy seems to be drawing his consciousness but he couldn’t put a finger on it. It was as if a pulsating force was surrounding the very space they were occupying. Li Xinwen’s attention was brought back to the present when he felt someone tugging at his sleeve.

It was Sun Xiao who wore a worried expression on his face as if he was about to cry. “-in-gege… Xin-gege…” Sun Xiao said in an almost tearful voice. It seemed that he had been calling out to Li Xinwen for a while.

Xue Rui watched this with a look of concern.

“What is it Ah‘Xiao? Are you okay?” Li Xinwen asked while looking over the boy to make sure there was nothing wrong.

“Rui-dage…” Sun Xiao replied, “Xin-ge wasn’t paying attention?”

“Huh? Uhm… No? I’m sorry,” as he directed his attention towards Xue Rui. “Apologies Rui-ge. Did you say something?”

Sun Xiao fidgeted before glancing over at Xue Rui nervously. Xue Rui did not let Li Xinwen’s behaviour affect him. He was going to exercise patience to win Li Xinwen’s affection this time around.

“Think nothing of it Xinwen,” He took out a small box from the elegant paper bag beside him and placed it on the table in front of Li Xinwen. “I prepared a small gift to celebrate your discharge from the hospital,” gesturing for Li Xinwen to open his gift. 

Li Xinwen’s eyes narrowed and his gaze moved to the box before him. Now that he paid attention to it, he could sense how the spiritual energies around the room seem to gather around the box as if whatever was inside was absorbing them. “Rui-ge, what is inside this box?” Li Xinwen asked in a curious tone.

“Why don’t you open it and see for yourself,” Xue Rui said with a smile and waited for Li Xinwen to open the box. But Li Xinwen hesitated.

Even back in his own world, only high-grade heavenly treasures had the ability to absorb spiritual energy. Such treasures were very rare and are sought after by many. Whenever such treasures are found, a bloodbath was sure to follow. Recalling the heavenly treasure he had before – it was of low-grade quality and yet it had been enough to make his fellow sect members betray him. If this very item that Xue Rui was giving him were to appear in his previous world, Li Xinwen did not want to even dare imagine what will happen.

“This… Xinwen thinks that he does not deserve such a treasure.” Because he had unexpectedly come into contact with such a treasure, Li Xinwen felt overwhelmed and he didn’t realize he had reverted to his original way of speaking.

“So humble,” Xue Rui let out a small chuckle. He didn’t find Li Xinwen’s way of speaking strange. “Xinwen, don’t be polite. Here, take it,” Xue Rui pushed the box towards Li Xinwen.

Li Xinwen once again stared at the box before he reluctantly accepted it. “Then Xinwen offers his thanks to Rui-ge,” he said as he took the box into his hands. When he did, he felt the cool, gentle strands of spiritual energy spread over his hands and into his meridians. Immediately, Li Xinwen’s heart raced. ‘This treasure will be very beneficial for cultivators! To actually come across something like this. Is this heaven’s way of repaying their debt to me?’

Li Xinwen’s excitement did not escape Xue Rui and the latter couldn’t help but feel happy. “I am glad that Xinwen likes his gift. Are you not going to open it?”

“No. I will open it later,” Li Xinwen went back to how the original would speak. “Thank you, Rui-ge,” he sincerely thanked Xue Rui with a warm smile on his face.

Li Xinwen’s warm smile took Xue Rui by surprise. It was disarming to say the least. In spite of his condition, he smiled radiantly. ‘What was with that smile?’ Xue Rui thought. Caught by surprise, he failed to maintain his composure and ended up looking nervous, and he felt himself blushing.

“Don’t mention it Xinwen.” he responded and managed to change the subject saying “And I also have something for Xiao Xiao.” He took another box from the bag he set beside the foot of the table.

This box was a bit larger than the one Li Xinwen received. More than the size, what caught his attention was the small trace of spiritual energy emanating from the box and he once again became curious. He started to wonder where Xue Rui got the gifts. ‘I’ll ask him later so I can make a visit in the future…’  he thought to himself.

Sun Xiao looked at the box and quietly thanked Xue Rui. But unlike Li Xinwen, he opened the box to take a look out of curiosity. Li Xinwen stared at the item set inside the box. It was an egg-shaped stone with an ember colour. Though he sensed some spiritual energy from the stone, he couldn’t help but be disappointed at the level of impurity disrupting the spiritual energy.

“Rui-dage… This looks expensive…” Sun Xiao timidly tried to reject the gift.

“No, you should accept it. After all, we will become family in the future,” Xue Rui smiled.

Sun Xiao felt a warmth in his heart at the mention of family. Shyly, he nodded his head and accepted the gift. “Thank you, Rui-dage…” expressing his thanks before turning to Li Xinwen. “Xin-gege, I’m going to put away my gift… Do you want me to put away yours as well? That way, it won’t bother you while we eat later…” Sun Xiao said as he looked at the box in Li Xinwen’s hand.

“En. Then Ge will trouble Ah‘Xiao. Thank you,” Li Xinwen smiled as he handed the box to Sun Xiao.

Li Xinwen’s gaze followed Sun Xiao as he held both boxes carefully. While Sun Xiao placed the two boxes on top of the cabinet nearby, Li Jinghua and Li mother finally came out of the kitchen carrying various dishes and laying them on the dining table. “Ah‘Xiao, there is a big serving bowl in the kitchen, can you help mom bring it over to the table?” Li mother asked Sun Xiao who went to the kitchen obediently.

Li Xinwen’s attention was captured by the competing aroma of the various dishes as they wafted to the living room. Turning his head towards the source of the tempting aroma, Li Xinwen failed to notice the anomalous behaviour exhibited by Xue Rui’s gifts. To the naked eye, they looked like mere boxes but to an immortal’s keen sense the boxes glowed. Emitting various shades of green and ember as both stones absorbed spiritual energy from its surroundings.

Xue Rui couldn’t help but notice this child-like behaviour from Li Xinwen. ‘Getting excited because of food…how precious. I want to hold him and just keep him in my arms,’ Xue Rui thought before reprimanding himself: ‘Now now Xue Rui…’

He made his way to the opposite sofa where Li Xinwen sat and placed his hand on Li Xinwen’s shoulder. “Allow me to help you to the dining table Xinwen.”

He took Xinwen’s arm and placed it on his shoulder while Xue Rui’s left arm snaked around Xinwen’s waist to support his weight. Xinwen was about to protest but it was too late. When it came down to it, Xue Rui was considerably strong. He could feel Xue Rui’s well-defined arm muscles with his arm wrapped around his waist.

“Am I impressing you yet Xinwen?” Xue Rui teased with a mischievous smile on his face. This did not escape Jinghua’s scrutiny.

All the while watching Xue Rui’s flirtatious behaviour towards Li Xinwen. ‘I guess he’s no longer hiding his intentions. I wonder why I even fell in love with this man,’ she thought with exasperation.

They reached the dining table and Xue Rui helped Li Xinwen sit comfortably. He made his way around and sat beside Jinghua and addressed Mother Li with a charming smile. “These all look delicious Madam Li. I can’t wait to dig in!”

Ah‘Rui there is no need to be polite. Since we will be a family in the future, just call me mother!” Because she did not know that Li Jinghua and Xue Rui had already dissolved their engagement, she still thought that the two would soon get married.

“Alright, thank you for the food, mother!” Xue Rui replied, and his smile became wider as he felt that he had just gotten Mother Li’s approval. “In the future, I will make sure to take good care of your child.”

Xue Rui was cunning, making sure he used general terms instead of daughter or son. This way, other than Li Jinghua who is in the know, the rest would assume he was referring to Li Jinghua and not Li Xinwen.

On the other hand, Li Xinwen was cursing Xue Rui in his heart. ‘If you want to take good care of my sister, please do it properly! Why try to eat tofu1 with me when you two are engaged?!’

1 Eat Tofu – Take advantage of a person by stealing a touch, kiss, etc etc

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