vol. 1: chapter twenty-two – buying gifts for mother

“Ah, found it!” After searching for a while, Li Xinwen finally found the small shards of jadeite carelessly thrown into the black plastic bag. He got up from his crouching position then put the shards in his pocket. Li Xinwen could tell how excited Lan Yu became the moment he placed the shards into his pocket. As if triggered by something, the amount of spiritual energy Lan Yu sent throughout Li Xinwen’s meridians started fluctuating and gradually increased, prompting Li Xinwen to reprimand Lan Yu affectionately, as if talking to a child. ‘Relax, Lan Yu. Xue Rui is still here. I’ll let you see them later.’

“Did you find what you were looking for??” Xue Rui, who was keeping him company, asked.

“En. Found it. Now I can leave,” Li Xinwen replied, already feeling happy with the current outcome.

“Leave?” Xue Rui sounded confused.

Li Xinwen noticed the tone in Xue Rui’s voice, so he quickly corrected himself. “I’ll leave this place and go to the shop to buy something for mom. I’ve been unfilial for making her worry. I should really get her something special to show my sincerity.”

‘And… as a token of apology for taking over her son’s body,’ he added in his mind.

The two made their way to the Hundred Treasure Antique Shop and went inside. Occasionally, Li Xinwen’s gaze would rest on Xue Rui’s figure. Specifically, the chest area of his dress shirt where a shoe-print occupied the center.

Xue Rui noticed Li Xinwen’s gaze and suddenly remembered the altercation he had with his twin. He looked down at his dress shirt and noticed the shoeprint. He seemed to have underestimated his brother’s strength.

‘Ah… this was an Oscar de la Renta, what a waste.’ Xue Rui thought as he recklessly reached up to his chest to try and wipe off the dirt. When he touched the injured area, he couldn’t help but wince in pain.

Li Xinwen noticed Xue Rui’s actions and almost immediately reached out to grab Xue Rui’s hand to stop him from aggravating his injury. But Li Xinwen was a little late and could only roll his eyes upon seeing Xue Rui wince in pain. He closed his eyes and sighed heavily then scolded Xue Rui like a mother reprimanding her child.

“Could you be any more careless? What are you, a six-year old? Don’t aggravate your injury by touching it carelessly,” Li Xinwen said, holding Xue Rui’s left wrist at the same time he looked around the shop for a place where he could inspect Xue Rui’s injury.

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‘Is he worried about me? Li Xinwen is worried about me?’ Xue Rui thought as he lowered his gaze, a gentle smile forming on his lips and a warmth starting to bubble inside him.

Li Xinwen noticed a person approaching their direction, and based on the person’s attire, he assumed that this was the highest standing manager of the shop. He was about to speak when the manager welcomed them, addressing Xue Rui in particular.

“Welcome, Young Master Xue. I did not expect to see you again so soon, was there any problem with the items you purchased previously?” the manager asked, slightly anxious.

“No. Everything is fine. We are here for something else. Last time, my wif-…” when Xue Rui was about to slip up, Li Xinwen gave him a warning glare. “I mean, a friend of mine liked the items I bought here so he wanted to see if there’s anything he can buy for his mother,” Xue Rui quickly corrected himself.

“Ah, is that so? Then please follow me,” the manager said happily, relieved that it was not due to a problem with any of their products. He led the two esteemed guests to the VIP room before he had them sit on the sofa. “This young master, I still have yet to know your name,” the manager politely queried Li Xinwen.

Li Xinwen just stared at the manager and noticed how the manager treated him like a young master from one of the first class families back in Long Xing. “It doesn’t matter who I am. Just show me your goods. I don’t want to waste any more time.”

“Ah, of course, of course! This young master wants a gift for his mother, correct? Fortunately, we have shipments that arrived just recently. Let me get them for you to see.” The manager quickly left the room.

The moment the manager left, Li Xinwen’s attention moved to Xue Rui. “Take off your shirt.”

‘Did I hear Li Xinwen correctly? Take off my shirt?! What kind of development is this? I must have misheard him… I should clarify things…’ Xue Rui thought as he continued to stare at Li Xinwen with a blank expression. After mulling things over, he finally opened his mouth and asked, “Excuse me? Xinwen are you asking me to take off my shirt? In this place?! Right now?!”

Li Xinwen furrowed his brows and looked at Xue Rui confused, as if Xue Rui was talking gibberish, then rolled his eyes upon realizing Xue Rui’s nonsense.

“What the heck are you actually thinking Rui-ge? I don’t recall seeing you hit your head during the encounter in the alley with your twin brother so what misunderstanding are you thinking in that head of yours? Take off your dress shirt so I can examine your injury!” Li Xinwen said in an exasperated tone.

“Oh, so that’s what you meant…” Xue Rui replied, with an embarrassed expression on his face, his cheeks blushing a little and feeling silly. On top of that, he felt a little relieved and disappointed at the same time. Wanting to save the little dignity he had left, he remarked, “It’s alright Xinwen. I’ll be fine. At most it’ll just bruise for a few days.”

“Rui-ge…” Li Xinwen repeated, not a trace of gentleness in his eyes.

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Seeing that Li Xinwen was serious, Xue Rui suddenly became nervous. His eyes darted around the room, glancing at the door with a worried expression, avoiding Li Xinwen’s icy gaze at all costs.

“Did they suddenly lower the air conditioning in the room?” Xue Rui asked to no one in particular as he felt a shiver down his spine.

“Rui-ge, do not make me repeat myself. Hurry up and take off your shirt! What if the injury is actually worse than you initially thought?” Li Xinwen asked, at the same time thinking ‘It’ll be a missed opportunity if you end up missing the martial arts training this weekend. I still need to teach you a lesson and give you a good whipping…’

Xue Rui looked at Li Xinwen and saw a mix of worry, impatience and annoyance in Li Xinwen’s eyes, making Xue Rui flinch. In spite of his hesitations, Xue Rui took off his coat and unbuttoned his dress shirt, exposing his chest. He felt a little embarrassed doing this in such a place, but at the same time felt a little happy, thinking, ‘Li Xinwen is worrying about me and I can’t help but feel like I have a good chance at being together… ugh! Xue Rui get your mind out of the clouds!’

It is unfortunate that Xue Rui’s assumptions of Li Xinwen worrying about him were quite far from what was running through Li Xinwen’s mind.

Upon seeing Xue Rui’s injury, Li Xinwen narrowed his eyes and stepped a little closer. He reached out his right hand and extended his index finger, lightly touching the bruise that was slowly making itself visible. A tinge of bluish-blackish-purplish mass could be seen clearly. It was concentrated in the area where the heel of the shoe had supposedly hit Xue Rui.

Li Xinwen and Xue Rui stood face to face with merely a step away between them. Xue Rui’s breath hitched the moment Li Xinwen’s slender finger touched his skin. Xue Rui’s heartbeat raced, each thump coming faster than the one before it, making him feel lightheaded, and although he was standing in place, he felt as if he was running out of breath.

‘This is too much! Too much torture for my heart!’ Xue Rui thought. And while his heart was beating to its own rhythm, his brain suddenly went haywire, sending signals where it was not supposed to, as heat slowly made its way across his body, flowing through every vein towards his lower abdomen. Xue Rui, closed his eyes and bit his lower lip hard, hoping that the pain would refocus his brain away from the accumulating heat below. However, his attempt failed miserably as the sensation of Li Xinwen’s touch overpowered his senses. Then suddenly, the pressure from the slender finger increased, making Xue Rui wince in pain, waking him up and all the improper thoughts in his mind disappeared in an instant.

“Painful?” Li Xinwen asked. His tone carried with it a hint of ridicule, as if he had seen right through all of Xue Rui’s thoughts. Li Xinwen shook his head before continuing, “At the very least you don’t seem to have any broken bones. Later when you get home, put some soothing balm and ice on the bruised area. The bruise should subside in a few days. Be sure to take care of yourself Rui-ge…”

Li Xinwen buttoned Xue Rui’s dress shirt then stepped away indifferently. He resumed his place in one of the high-backed chairs and started reading a magazine. Xue Rui was left dumbfounded as if he could not wrap his head around what had just transpired. He was at a loss as he put on his coat and sat down opposite Li Xinwen. The two continued to wait in the room until the manager returned. Several employees followed behind him, each carrying an item protected by a display case. Li Xinwen stood up and began to look at every single one of them.

“Young Master, these are the products that have just arrived, they are all suited for older women. For example, this bracelet here,” the manager pointed at a bracelet. “This bracelet came from G country and was made from the best materials. It is very sturdy, and the big stone you see here is cut from a diamond!”

“And this one here is a jewelry from A country. Have you heard of Angelico? It’s a new jewelry designer from A country that has recently won an award, and this is precisely her work! There is only one in the whole world, so if you buy this, no one else will have what your mother has!”

“And also, this…”

As the manager continued to explain each product, Li Xinwen decidedly ignored him and used his own spiritual energy to evaluate each product. It was hard for him to ignore this habit as a cultivator. Of course, his luck couldn’t always be good so using his spiritual energy to feel out the items was essential. Even so, none of the items he examined resonated with his spiritual energy.

“I’ll just choose this,” Li Xinwen said, as he picked up the display case containing a jade bracelet. “How much is it?” Li Xinwen asked the manager.

“Err… Young Master, are you sure that’s all you want?” the manager asked as he glanced at Xue Rui.

“If not this, then which one? Those other tacky accessories?” Li Xinwen asked not exactly expecting an answer and the manager became speechless. The poor manager couldn’t believe that there would be a day in his entire career when someone would describe an award-winning design as tacky.

“I understand. The jade bracelet you chose is also not bad. It was said that–“

“Price. That is all I am asking from you. Nothing more,” Li Xinwen said and the manager ended up sighing.

“180,000 yuan,” the manager advised.

‘Why is it so expensive?!’ Li Xinwen wondered in surprise as he tried to inspect the bracelet once again with his spiritual energy, only to come up with nothing. It seems that the manager also noticed Li Xinwen’s expression and decided to explain the nature of the jade properly.

“This Young Master, this kind of price for this jade is normal. After all, the renowned Monk Bingwen blessed this jade, so even though the jade’s quality is not pure, considering Monk Bingwen’s reputation, this price is normal,” the manager explained.

“Who is this Monk Bingwen?” Li Xinwen couldn’t help asking. He saw the flabbergasted expression on the manager’s face and felt that he had just asked something stupid. “Actually, never mind. I’ll pay for it,” Li Xinwen finally said and the manager finally felt relieved. Li Xinwen handed his card over to the manager for him to process the transaction before he went back to his seat. The rest of the employees left with the manager and Li Xinwen turned to Xue Rui.

“So, who is this monk?” Li Xinwen asked the other man.

Xue Rui, who knew that Li Xinwen had partial amnesia patiently explained who Monk Bingwen was. Apparently, Monk Bingwen was a well-known monk in Huaxia. Almost all of the elite families would come looking for him to match-make their son or daughter. His predictions had never been wrong, and everyone thought that he had divine knowledge. Unfortunately, Monk Bingwen was hard to meet because he was always in closed-door cultivation. Which was why anything related to him tended to be expensive.

When Li Xinwen heard this, he couldn’t help but frown. According to Xue Rui, this monk should be a cultivator and yet, Li Xinwen didn’t feel any energy fluctuation from the jade presumed to have been blessed by this monk. ‘Either the monk is fake, or the jade is fake. But since this shop is a place that Xue Rui frequents and he has an eye to discern authentic goods, the latter seems to be impossible. So that only leaves the fact that the monk is fake. Oh well, it doesn’t matter. Our paths are different, so we won’t meet.’

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