vol. 1: chapter twenty-one – xue rui?

‘Xue Rui? No… then who?’ The voice sounded very familiar to Li Xinwen but at the same time, he knew something was off. The spiritual signature that came from the new person was different from Xue Rui’s. Li Xinwen turned around and saw the man. The similarity between the man and Xue Rui was truly uncanny. If Li Xinwen did not have the ability to detect spiritual signatures, he himself would’ve thought that this was Xue Rui.

“And you are?” the officer from before asked the newcomer, not hiding the disdain from his voice.

“Me? I am a man who can simply end your career with a snap of my finger. Would you like to make a bet?” the man answered with a bored expression. “I will count to three, Officer Duan. If you don’t let him go and scram, then you can start thinking of a new way to put rice on your family’s table.”

“Is that supposed to be a threat? Should I cower and hide? And how do you actually know my name?” the officer roared, his chest heaved up and his eyes were glaring daggers at the man.

“No. I am only ‘advising’ you,” the man calmly replied, emphasizing the word ‘advise’ heavily.

Just as the officer was about to say more, the phone in his pocket vibrated. He took it out to see that it was a call from his superior. His superior rarely called him, and this call somehow made him feel a bit suspicious.

“Aren’t you going to answer that?” the man asked. “I believe that is from Chief Tao. If you don’t answer, you might… get in trouble.”

Officer Duan glared in response before answering the phone call. “Hello, chief?”

“Duan Ming… where are you right now?!” the voice of a middle-aged man sounded from the other side. With his level of cultivation, Li Xinwen could hear the conversation clearly even though he didn’t mean to. From the tone alone, Li Xinwen could tell that the person on the other side seemed to be worn out.

“Sir, I am at…”

“Hundred Treasure Antique Shop, am I right?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Officer Duan Ming… how many times have I told you that you are not to stick your nose where it doesn’t belong! Are you trying to get me in trouble?! Pull out now!”

The call was cut off even before Officer Duan could say anything else. He looked at his phone before letting out a series of colourful curses under his breath. Taking out a key from his pocket, he uncuffed Li Xinwen’s wrists. “Well, well, aren’t you one lucky son of a bitch!”

At first, Li Xinwen was just going to let the officer go on account of the misunderstanding, but upon hearing the comment his mood suddenly turned sour. He grabbed Officer Duan’s arm and prevented him from leaving. “Apologize.”

It was just a single word, but Officer Duan felt the pressure bearing down on him. He started to sweat, feeling threatened by Li Xinwen’s demeanor. He didn’t expect the man he had cuffed earlier could appear this scary.

“W-Why should I apologize to someone like you?! I am an officer of the law! I serve the people and the country, protecting them from the likes of you!” Officer Duan said, trying to sound as if he wasn’t intimidated.

“Officer, I don’t care if you misunderstand me or even insult me. But I will not stand for it if you insult my mother. Apologize now and I will let you off. If not, then do not blame me if I become ruthless…” Li Xinwen’s hold around Officer Duan’s arm tightened and Officer Duan felt that if it continued, his bones would be crushed.

“Bah! Fine, I apologize. And I also feel sorry for your mother for having a useless son like you! Did you ever think how she would feel if she found out that her son has dealings with the underworld?!”

Hearing the apology, Li Xinwen released Officer Duan’s arm even though it was not as sincere as he was expecting. “You do not have to worry, officer. My mother is very happy to have such a capable son. She has a loving family who takes good care of her. Maybe you should worry more about your own family… that man’s expression didn’t look good. You might end up losing your job.” As Li Xinwen spoke, he glanced over to the man who looked like Xue Rui. The officer clicked his tongue and then left in a hurry, leaving Li Xinwen and the other person alone.

After the officer left, Li Xinwen turned his focus to the man who had come to save him earlier. He took in the man’s appearance and couldn’t help but feel that he was an exact copy of Xue Rui.

“If you keep staring at me like that, I might pounce on you right now.”

After that sudden utterance, Li Xinwen simply frowned. He had already gone through all of the original’s memories but did not find any memories of this man. ‘Unless… the original Li Xinwen also thought he was Xue Rui?’

“Why are you quiet?” the man asked when he did not receive any response. He walked closer to Li Xinwen who was at the ready to defend himself if need be.

The man stood before Li Xinwen and reached out to touch his face. Li Xinwen was just about to slap the hand away when he felt a familiar spiritual signature. Suddenly, he was being pulled backwards into a warm embrace.

“Keep your hands off of Xinwen.”

“Rui-ge…?” Li Xinwen looked up and saw Xue Rui glaring at his doppelganger. He had already seen a lot of Xue Rui’s shameless side, but this was the first time he had actually seen him looking this nervous.

Xue Rui looked down at him, before giving him a warm smile. He gently stroked Li Xinwen’s hair before his gaze returned to the other man. “When did you come back? Does eldest brother know you’re back?”

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“I came back not too long ago. Big bro doesn’t know yet. Do you think I could stroll around like this if he knew?” the man replied. “Also, Xiao Rui, don’t you think it’s rude to glare at me? I am still your older brother. Not to mention, I even saved your little sweetheart. Though since we’re like this, he must be confused now. Shouldn’t you explain it to him?”

Xue Rui was quiet for a while before he let out a low grunt. He then relaxed his embrace around Li Xinwen before finally introducing the man to him. “Xinwen… this is my older brother, Xue Liang. He was the second one born among us triplets…” he mumbled in a soft voice, as if unwilling to introduce the two. “Brother, this is–“

“Li Xinwen, one of the youngest rising stars of the Oracle Entertainment Company. Age, 19. Currently on break from any work in order to recuperate,” Xue Liang cut Xue Rui off. “Ah, speaking of which… his temper seems to have changed.”

“And how do you know this?”

Xue Liang just smirked at Xue Rui before answering: “Of course I know… who do you think kept him company whenever you went overseas on business?”

***

Li Xinwen’s expression turned ugly the moment he heard the sentence come out of Xue Liang’s lips. He was now able to put two and two together. ‘So that means, the original Li Xinwen actually entangled himself with two Xue Young Masters without knowing it himself?’ the thought alone made him sigh out heavily. ‘Why are things becoming so complicated.’

Xue Rui on the other hand, was shaking in anger. He glared at Xue Liang. If looks could kill, Xue Liang would have already dropped on the ground, dead. “You impersonated me while I wasn’t around?”

Xue Liang let out a small laugh before taking out a stick from a pack of cigarettes. Placing it on his lips, he took out his lighter and lit it. He breathed in the nicotine before letting out a puff of smoke. “You know, I guess those who were from the same egg will end up having the same tastes. You fell for him at first sight, and I also fell for him at first sight.”

“You–!” Xue Rui was so angered that he could no longer control his actions. He rushed forward and raised his fist to give his older brother a beating, only to be kicked in the stomach. The force was strong enough to make Xue Rui double down in pain.

Xiao Rui, ah! Did you turn stupid? What can a good businessman like you do to someone like me?” Xue Liang let out an amused chuckle. “Do you remember the advice I gave you when you consulted me a few years ago? I told you that since you ended up getting engaged to the wrong person, you might as well take advantage of it. Those blackmails worked really well, didn’t it? Turns out he’s really obedient. It was unfortunate that you did not have the guts to do the deed…” Xue Liang shook his head and let out a sigh. But from his tone alone, it was clear that he was mocking Xue Rui.

“You had so many chances, yet you were content with just cuddles, kisses and sleeping on the same bed? Dear god it was so annoying. So, whenever you went on a business trip, I would always call him out to a hotel. The first time we did it… it was the most satisfy–“

Xue Liang didn’t get to finish because Li Xinwen finally had enough. To him, it was simply too much information to handle. In addition, he disliked the leer that Xue Liang gave him as he spoke so he decided to take action.

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Xue Rui and Xue Liang did not see it coming. One moment, Li Xinwen was standing a small distance away. Then, he suddenly appeared in front of Xue Liang and before Xue Liang could register it, he felt an intense pain on his chest, and he flew backwards. When he landed on the ground, he coughed out a mouthful of blood before he wiped his lips with his sleeves.

Moments later, several men in suits came out. They stood in front of Xue Liang protectively and aimed their guns at Li Xinwen.

“Stop! I’m fine,” Xue Liang said as he stood up and dusted off his clothes. “Lower your guns. No one is allowed to harm him,” he added, before looking straight at Li Xinwen. Instead of fear, his eyes were filled with excitement and desire.

‘This man… something is wrong with his head. Wouldn’t normal people be afraid if they suddenly throw up blood after being pushed away?’ Li Xinwen was frowning as he stared back at Xue Liang. By now, Xue Rui had also stood up and went to Li Xinwen’s side, ready to protect him if needed.

Xiao Rui… you better protect your man well. If before, I was only interested in him because of his looks, now, I want to completely dominate and possess him. I felt that it was only right to tell you as the older brother,” Xue Liang said before smiling at Li Xinwen. “Xinwen, I don’t know what happened earlier but since you’ve lit this fire in me, you better be prepared… We’ll meet again someday.”

“I don’t want to see you again,” Li Xinwen replied.

“Ah, but I do. And there is nothing you can do about it.”

“If I see you again, I might end up killing you,” Li Xinwen warned.

Upon hearing Li Xinwen’s declaration Xue Liang just laughed and then waved his hand. “Xiao Rui, why don’t you tell him what’ll happen if I die, hmm? Be sure to tell him clearly so he won’t do anything he’ll regret,” he said before he finally left with his men.

Li Xinwen stared at Xue Liang’s figure until it disappeared around the corner. He then turned around to face Xue Rui. “Explain.”

Xue Rui didn’t reply immediately. Instead, he just gave Li Xinwen a pained look. The emotion in his eyes was extremely complicated and it somehow made Li Xinwen worry.

“Rui-ge?”

“Did… he really force you in the hotel?” Xue Rui’s voice was nothing more than a whisper.

A sigh escaped Li Xinwen’s lips before he looked straight at Xue Rui. He himself was still confused by what was happening. ‘But based on Xue Liang’s words earlier, this Xue Rui never actually had sex with the original Li Xinwen. So those memories must have been Xue Liang who impersonated Xue Rui?’

“Xinwen…” Xue Rui called out to him.

“He did,” Li Xinwen decided to just tell him the truth. Xue Rui’s next action shocked Li Xinwen. He went to a nearby trash can and kicked it hard to let out his anger.

“F***! I shouldn’t have trusted him!” Xue Rui continued kicking the poor trash can until his anger subsided. Li Xinwen simply let him continue and walked back to the black plastic bag that he had been searching through before the exchange involving the police officer and Xue Liang. He continued to rummage through it, which made Xue Rui stop assaulting the trash can. “Xinwen… what are you doing?”

“Looking for something. Don’t worry, continue beating that trash can until you’ve calmed down. Then you can explain what is between you and your brother and why I can’t just go ahead and kill him.”

“There is nothing to explain…”

“So what will happen if I kill him?” Li Xinwen asked.

“… He’s the head of the underworld… if he’s dead, then everything will be in chaos. Those gangs that he is suppressing will go to war,” Xue Rui answered after a slight hesitation.

“Hmm, I see. It looks like your family really isn’t simple. One is a great businessman who dominated the business world, one is a gang leader that conquered the underworld, then what does your eldest brother do? Controls the government?” Li Xinwen asked in a joking manner.

“Technically, he is a man within the government… He’s serving in the army. I believe his current rank is a Major General?” Xue Rui answered and Li Xinwen stopped his search to look at Xue Rui.

“Just what kind of karma did your father accumulate in his last life to have this kind of blessing?!” Li Xinwen felt that for someone to have sons like Xue Rui and his brothers in three different territories is indeed something to be jealous of. That would be like having a child who’s a genius in alchemy, one child a genius in crafting, and another genius in arrays creation. Even the heavens would be envious!

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