Chapter 154: Stealing a Half Day of Freedom
Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
“You have no idea what kind of life the survivors of the Wang family have been living.” Old Man Bao laughed bitterly. “Even the beggar’s gang would not let us join them. Everyone in the Wang family has had to sleep in the streets, under the overhead bridges, feed off leftover scraps and rotten food from the dumps, and be chased away by everyone like we are wild dogs. Second Young Master Li, you ask if I want revenge? I want to find out the truth about what happened to Xia Ling, and then personally drive the real murderer out into the open! And I want Pei Ziheng… ” He suddenly stopped mid-sentence.
“You want Pei Ziheng to do what?” asked Li Lei lightly. “To get on his knees and admit his mistake to you? To pay with his life?” Li Lei laughed. “You know that’s impossible, Old Man Bao. When you were the high and mighty Wang Jingzhou, you couldn’t even touch Pei Ziheng. What makes you think you can do better in your current state?”
Old Man Bao’s gaze darkened. “I have a way to make him wish he were dead.”
“Oh? Tell me about it.”
“Why should I tell you?” Old Man Bao looked at Li Lei suspiciously.
Li Lei answered, “Well, perhaps we can form an alliance. I don’t care if Pei Ziheng wishes he were dead, but I do want to know what happened between him and Xia Ling and to find out more about the women around him… I want to know every detail, big and small, about all of his relationships. Wang Jingzhou, I need you to help me to do the investigation, and as compensation, I can help you achieve whatever you set out to do.”
This offer was very tempting, and Old Man Bao could not help but be attracted by it.
He was currently in hiding, without money or power. The resources that he was able to harness were meager, which was making it extremely difficult for him to dig deeper into the matters of the past. If he were to cooperate with Li Lei and tap on the resources that the underground king of S City was able to make available to him, his investigations would become a lot smoother.
“Why are you doing this?” Even though Old Man Bao was very tempted by Li Lei’s offer, his years of experience told him that there had to be a catch. He cautiously asked, “Why are you so interested in Pei Ziheng’s matters?”
“I have someone that I want to protect,” replied Li Lei. “She is Ye Xingling. You think she resembles Xia Ling? I guess Pei Ziheng thinks so as well. I need to ensure that she doesn’t get harassed by Pei Ziheng. Oh right, and… I don’t want you to go near Xiao Ling ever again, or else… ” Li Lei’s voice became sinister. “… any promise or alliance that we make will be rubbish to me. I will make you, and the rest of the Wang family, disappear from the face of this Earth.”
A chill entered Old Man Bao’s heart. He did not doubt that Li Lei had the power and the guts to follow through with his threat.
Old Man Bao was deep in thought for a moment, before he said, “Okay, Ye Xingling was never my target. I will provide you with all the information that I uncover from my investigations. However, Second Young Master Li, I hope that you will help me take care of the rest of the Wang family as well. They’re being bullied and trampled on by everyone at the moment. As the underground king of S City, one simple word from you will make their lives a whole lot easier.”
“I will give them the necessary help within reason,” Li Lei agreed. “but I will not give them too much help. We need to make sure that Pei Ziheng doesn’t smell anything fishy. If I’m not wrong, he has probably sent people to spy on all the remaining survivors of the Wang family. Given his vengeful nature, there is no way he would let them relax and be out of his sight.”
Old Man Bao nodded. “You’re right, I would be very grateful if you just extend your assistance where necessary.” He had feigned death to be rid of the eyes that Pei Ziheng had placed on him, but the rest of the family was still under Pei Ziheng’s scrutiny. Pei Ziheng had always been a man of his words, and since he had vowed to make their lives difficult, he was going to follow through until the end.
Li Lei laughed. “Don’t worry. If I give you my promise, the lives of your family members will not be in danger. When our collaboration is over, I can send all of you overseas to a place where Pei Ziheng is unable to reach for you to start anew.”
Old Man Bao looked at Li Lei seriously. “Second Young Master Li, it is said that you’re a man of your word. I, Wang Jingzhou, will believe you this once. Happy partnership.”
“Happy partnership.” Li Lei held out his hand and gave Old Man Bao a light high five.
His instincts told him that he was extremely close to learning the truth about what was bothering Xiao Ling all this while. Was it really related to Xia Ling’s death? Whatever it was, he would give his all to protect her so that she would not be hurt again.
Li Lei composed himself and returned to S City. In front of Xia Ling, he would only show his happy side, as if all these anxieties and worries did not exist.
Xia Ling was very busy, running all over for her schedules and recording new songs.
Yet, Li Lei was determined that she should work hard and play hard as well. Regardless of how busy she was, there were breaks scheduled into her daily routine that was non-negotiable. He would not let her go to her next schedule if she did not get enough rest.
Xia Ling worked till midnight for a full week, and in the weekend, Li Lei dragged her out to relax.
He drove her to the seaside.
They watched the sunrise in each other’s arms and took a stroll along the beach before returning home. “Home” was an exquisite, white beach bungalow. Many properties along the coast were owned by Li Lei. Xia Ling examined the beach bungalow with curiosity — it had a Mediterranean-style architecture with huge, full-length windows. Pushing open the side door from the bedroom led out into a white-striped balcony, and there was the smell of the sea in the air.
She finally had some peace and quiet and was able to relax. For most of the day, Xia Ling would be sleeping or lazing around, as if she was repaying all the sleep debt from her rigorous schedule and nightmares that kept her awake. She hugged onto the blankets, and Li Lei would embrace her from behind, ignoring her half-asleep protests. He would sneak a kiss from time to time and hum a random tune as he rocked her to sleep.
They did not talk about Pei Ziheng.
As if all the danger and pain did not exist.
Li Lei said, “Xiao Ling, I really want to hide you away and live like this forever.”
In her half-asleep reverie, she mumbled something in protest.
He gave a light laugh and pinched her nose slightly. “Sleep. It would be best if you turn into a pig from all the sleep, then Ah Wei and the rest won’t recognize you. Only I will recognize you.”
Xia Ling gave a “hmph” in protest again as her brain processed what Li Lei was saying in slow motion. Pig… Ah Wei… Wait, Ah Wei?! She opened her eyes with a start and stared at Li Lei. “Did Ah Wei look for me these few days?”
Li Lei continued to pinch her nose lightly. “No.” And with another pinch, he said, “Who cares about him anyway?”
Xia Ling stared at him, her eyes full of suspicion.
That couldn’t be right… She remembered that a few days ago, Ah Wei had called her while she was in her apartment to go to the recording studio as he had something to tell her. Why was it that now that she had been pulled out here by Li Lei, that call seemed to have never happened? This was not scientific of Ah Wei, who was a workaholic, obsessive, petty, and a stickler about punctuality all rolled into one.
Li Lei blinked at her innocently.
Her nose felt itchy from his pinches, and she sneezed while sitting up. “Let me go give Ah Wei a call.”
He pushed her back into bed. “If there were anything urgent, he would call you himself.”
“No, I need to ask him what he needed to tell me before I can relax.” She pulled Li Lei’s hand away from her shoulder and put on a random pair of slippers before heading out to the living room to look for her mobile.
Li Lei reluctantly followed behind her.
Her mobile was switched off, and she stared at it mildly confused. “I never switch off my phone. Is the battery dead?”
She pressed the power button and the screen lit up. Her battery was full.
Li Lei coughed sheepishly and turned away.
From the other end of the line, Ah Wei’s shouting could be heard. “Ye Xingling, why are you only switching on your phone now?! Do you know how many days I have been looking for you?! What kind of artiste are you? Do you even care about your work?! Why do you keep coming with problems every two or three days and mess up my schedule? Do you think you are some big shot?! So what if you have some talent, who says you can develop all these bad habits?! Huh?! You had better…”
Ah Wei continued on his rampage, and Xia Ling could only listen as he lectured her, nodding her head at his words and reflecting on her actions.