Chapter 574: This isn’t Real
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
“Why?” Su Qingsang’s heart was pounding. Was Huo Jinyao going to tell her exactly what happened in the past?
“B-Because…” Huo Jinyao stuttered, having no idea how to start.
Sensing his hesitation, Su Qingsang raised her head and looked at him gently.
“If you don’t want to tell me now, you don’t have to,” she whispered to him.
She had promised him that she would give him the time that he needed.
She had seen patients in the hospital who had been traumatized. Some of them refused to share their pain with other people. She understood that kind of feeling.
Huo Jinyao shook his head. He did want to tell her; he just didn’t know how to start.
It had been over a decade. He thought he had forgotten some of the details, but it turned out that he was wrong.
He remembered every single detail, everything he had seen, every word he had heard.
Everything remained like haunting nightmares that he could never escape from. Even though the nightmares no longer frightened him at night, they were still affecting him somehow.
Su Qingsang moved slightly away from him, holding his hand tightly.
“Huo Jinyao,” Su Qingsang called his name. She hated to see him in with such a pained expression. Not letting go of his hand, she led him to the chaise longue and sat down beside him.
She held his hand with both of hers. Her hands were so small that they could barely cover his large hand entirely. But still, she held onto his hand very tight.
“Don’t push yourself too hard. You don’t have to tell me now,” she said.
Huo Jinyao looked at her hands and didn’t say anything. The conflict which had just happened between Liu Tongjia and himself was still replaying in his head at that moment.
Liu Tongjia really hated him.
He hated himself, too, actually.
“Have I ever told you that I am not my parents’ only child?” he said.
Su Qingsang knew about this already, so she wasn’t surprised to hear it. She stayed silent, looking at Huo Jinyao. She was aware that at that moment, she was only a listener.
Huo Jinyao still membered his brother’s face, which was fifty percent similar to his but so much more mature.
His brother, Huo Jinkai, was merely two years older than him. Huo Jinkai was fourteen when the accident happened. Back then, he already looked like a big boy.
Huo Jinyao and his brother were very close to each other. They often went to school and played basketball together. Occasionally, his brother would tell him that he had received another love letter.
He would return those letters to the ones who sent them without hurting their feelings. He was extra nice to everyone around him.
He had been raised by Old Master Huo specifically to take over the family. No matter where he was, he never hurt anyone’s feelings.
Huo Jinkai and Huo Jinyao had different personalities and would have different futures. Both of them were aware of that.
As the big brother, Huo Jinkai was responsible for the future of the Huo Family. Unlike him, Huo Jinyao was the younger one and didn’t have such a heavy burden placed on his shoulders. He used to feel so lucky to have a brother like Huo Jinkai, who could take all the responsibilities and shield him from all the pressure of being the oldest.
Apart from his reliable and caring big brother, Huo Jinyao also had a little sister named Huo Wushuang.
Huo Wushuang’s name meant ‘unique’. It was such a lovely name. It clearly showed just how precious the little girl was to her parents.
Huo Jinyao still remembered his adorable little sister clearly. He remembered her following him around, calling him ‘brother’ with a baby’s voice.
He also remembered every happy moment that he had with his family in their family house.
He and his brother loved playing basketball. Every time they returned from a basketball game, Huo Wushuang would cover her nose and complain about their awful body odor. But even then, the little girl would jump at them and demand to be hugged.
Every time he returned home from school, Huo Wushuang would run-up to his side, saying, “Brother, you’re back! I missed you very much!”
“Brother, I ate a very delicious snack today. Would you like some?”
“Brother, Mama won’t let me have any candy. I just want to have one. Please don’t tell Mama.”
The little girl would often blink her large eyes and cheekily try to convince him to cover for her. When she did that, he would always put candy into her mouth and then put a finger before his lips to signal for her to keep it secret. And after that, Huo Wushuang would laugh like a squirrel. She would lean toward him and kiss him on his cheek.
Once, she accidentally broke an antique vase which by Liu Tongjia liked very much. She burst into tears as soon as the vase shattered. However, when Huo Jinyao showed up, she stopped crying immediately and raised her hands. She said, “There was a kitten and it broke the vase. I didn’t break it.”
When he finally realized she had lied, she burrowed into his arms and begged, “Please don’t tell Mama. I’ll be very careful next time. I won’t break another vase.”
So Huo Jinyao confessed to Liu Tongjia that it was he who broke the vase. But then, his little sister stepped up and admitted to Mama that she was the one who broke the vase, that it had nothing to do with her brother.
Sometimes, she would do ‘bad things’ because of her kindness.
For example, she once put her favorite chocolate into Huo Jinyao’s pocket without telling him. The weather was hot, so the chocolate soon melted, made a mess of Huo Jinyao’s coat.
She loved ice cream, but they always gave her diarrhea. So, she often begged her brothers for just one bite of ice cream.
When Liu Tongjia demanded to know if she had eaten any ice cream, she would swear very seriously that she never had any.
Liu Tongjia clearly knew all about the little girl’s tricks. She loved to see her children develop a loving relationship with one another.
That soft and sweet little girl who once made the world a better place for all of them was gone by the age of four.
Huo Jinyao did not have a chance to watch her grow up, see her get boyfriends. He used to picture himself teaching the boys who were fond of his little sister a lesson, exactly like what a big brother should do.
There were so many regrets and pains. She was never going to come back to life, and he would never be able to see her sunny smile again.
Huo Jinyao hated the kidnappers with all his heart. Those men had gotten the punishment that they rightly deserved, but even then, his little sister was gone forever.
Both his big brother and his little sister were gone.
Their death indeed had something to do with him.
He remembered his first reaction had been to try to run when he realized that he was kidnapped.
It was clearly impossible though.
Those men had guns. He and his brother and sister were tied up. He tried to free himself, but he failed miserably.
He forced himself to calm down. He was only a kid, but not an ordinary one.
He knew that there was no way to escape.
The man called Da had phoned the Huo Family. The three kids didn’t know what their family negotiated with the kidnappers, but clearly, they agreed to pay the ransom. In three days, they would deliver a hundred and fifty million to the kidnappers.
Huo Jinyao knew that his parents didn’t care about the money. After all, the lives of their kids were more precious to Huo Mingguang and his wife.
He had panicked at the thought of the kidnappers getting away, but soon he calmed down.
He knew that anxiety wouldn’t solve the problem.
Both he and Huo Jinkai were aware of that.
As brothers, they didn’t need many words to communicate with each other about what they were thinking. They could do that with a single glance.
After making the phone call, Da was in a very good mood. He sent the man named Liang to buy food.
They were in a remote area, so Liang needed to drive to the town to buy food.
It was getting dark. Huo Jinkai and Huo Jinyao were shrinking into a corner, leaning on each other quietly.
They had tried to talk to each other, but Da warned them by hitting them with the butt of the gun.
And so, the two of them gave up trying that.
Huo Wushuang was lying behind them. She was tied up as well.
Huo Wushaung was only four years old. She was hit and thrown to the floor very violently earlier, and at the moment, she was asleep.
The three kids were kept in an old warehouse which was large cold and dark. It was summertime, but it became very chilly at night. The warehouse had been close to the sea. The wind brought moist and salty air from the sea.
The wind made the kids quiver often.
Even the two boys were feeling cold, let alone Huo Wushuang.
Both Huo Jinyao and Huo Jinkai worried that their little sister might catch a cold. They shielded her with their own bodies and tried their best to protect her from the cold wind.
Liang returned with food, and then the group of kidnappers started eating.
No one offered the kids any food. Wang Ming asked Da about it, but Da gave him a cold glare.
“What? Are you feeling sorry for them? Skipping a few meals won’t kill them.”
Huo Jinyao and Huo Jinyao didn’t want their food. However, they might not be able to survive for three days without any food.
The kidnappers were aware of that as well.
Chen Si glanced at the kids, then looked at Da.
“Da, I think maybe we should give them some food. It would be troublesome if they starved to death before we got the money,” said Chen Si.
Da glanced at the kids and nodded, agreed with Chen Si.
Huo Jinyao thought that Chen Si was probably the more compassionate one. However, he was wrong. Chen Si brought the food to the kids without chopsticks. He didn’t even untie the two boys.
“I’m sorry, young masters,” he said to the boys. “I guess you will have to eat like dogs”
Huo Jinyao and Huo Jinkai were both tied up, half-lying on the ground. If they wanted to eat the food, they would have to get down on their stomachs and eat directly with their mouth.
As the eldest young master of the Huo Family, Huo Jinkai was taught to never suffer that kind of humiliation. He was so angry that he couldn’t help but attempt to kick Chen Si.
Huo Jinyao stopped him from doing that, but not without a lot of effort.
He was angry too, but he was aware that the kidnappers had the upper hand with their gun and knives.
Fighting them would not end well at all, that he was sure.
Knowing that, Huo Jinyao forbade Huo Jinkai from putting up a fight. He had heard a lot of things like kidnapping when he was in the army, spending time with Zhang Yichen.
As the eldest one, Huo Jinkai understood that logic and calmed himself down as well.
He glanced at Huo Jinyao to let his brother know that he was fine. But no matter what, he would never let himself eat like a dog.
Sitting together, neither of the two boys touched the food.
“You two boys do have some balls after all. Let’s see how long you can last without food,” Chen Si said.
Chen Si turned and left. Returning to the others, he clicked his tongue and said, “We are wearing face masks. So, how are we supposed to eat?”
On hearing his words, the other kidnappers turned to Huo Jinyao and his brother.
Unlike Da, the three of them were wearing face masks. Da was a wanted man. His wanted photo had already been spread nationwide, so he didn’t bother to cover his face. The other three weren’t like him. They didn’t want to become like him.
They didn’t want the three kids to see their faces, so they all wore face masks to protect their identity.
Now they had to take off their face masks to eat comfortably. Thankfully, the warehouse was large enough. The three of them moved to the other side of the warehouse and started eating.
When they were having dinner, Huo Wushuang woke up.
She woke up to find herself not in her sweet home, nor a happy amusement park.
She found herself in a cold dark and stinky place.
She couldn’t bear being in a place like that. She was only four, and she could not understand what was happening.
She immediately burst into tears.
Hearing their sister cry, the two boys became anxious.
“Wushuang, stop crying.”
“Wushuang, don’t cry! Stop!”
The three kidnappers were still eating on the other side of the warehouse. The boys were worried that the girl’s cries might annoy them and make them do something even more awful.
As they thought, Da spat out the toothpick which was held in his mouth and then came at the kids before the boys could even finish talking.
Hearing Da’s footsteps, Huo Jinkai moved closer to Huo Wushuang, saying anxiously, “Wushuang, be quiet! Stop crying! Come on, stop crying!”
“Brother, I’m not feeling well.” As the little princess of the Huo Family, Huo Wushuang had never experienced such discomfort before.
“My hands and feet all hurt. Why am I tied up? Is it because I asked to come to the amusement park?” the little girl asked.
“No, no!” Huo Jinkai leaned toward his sister and said to her, “Wushuang, good girl, please don’t cry! You have not done anything wrong. We are playing a soldier and bandit game now. Don’t cry. We will get home when the game is over.”
“Soldiers and bandits?” Wushuang blinked her eyes and said. She was young, but she had seen soldiers and bandits on TV.
“Are we playing a game here?” she asked.
“Yes,” Huo Jinyao joined the conversation. “Wushuang, we are playing a game. We are playing hostages now. Do you remember the movie that we have watched together?”
“Yes,” Huo Wushuang stopped crying. She said, “The bad guys got caught, and the hostages were rescued.”
“Yes! Exactly! Good girl!”
As he was speaking, Huo Jinyao saw Da approaching him. He got up and shielded Huo Wushuang with his body.
“Wushuang, the bad guy is here. Stop talking. Be quiet. We don’t want to make the bad guy angry, do we?” he said to the little girl.
“Okay, I get it.” Huo Wushuang was just a little kid, and she fully trusted her brothers. If they said it was a game, then it was a game.
But she couldn’t understand why the game had to be so uncomfortable.
“Brother, my hands and feet hurt. Can’t they loosen the rope a little bit? Why did they tie me up so tightly?”
Huo Jinyao and Huo Jinkai didn’t know how to respond to her. They didn’t have the time to answer her question.
Da had already come up to them.
He looked at the kids, snorting with laughter.
“Hey, the little girl is awake.” While speaking, Da reached a hand toward Huo Wushuang’s face.
Huo Jinkai was tied up, but he managed to spring up to shield Huo Wushuang from Da.
Huo Wushuang was young but not stupid. She had a feeling that Da was not a good person.
She shrank toward Huo Jinyao.
“Little girl, I’m not a bad guy. Haven’t you been listening to what your brothers are saying? We’re playing a game. This is just a game,” said Da.
Huo Wushuang pressed herself tightly against Huo Jinyao, refusing to believe Da.
Da wasn’t angry. He glanced at the two boys and then fixed his eyes on Huo Wushuang, clicking his tongue.
What a pretty girl. He wondered how beautiful this lovely little girl would be when she was all grown up.
The way Da looked at Huo Wushuang disgusted Huo Jinkai.
Together, Huo Jinkai and Huo Jinyao got up to block Da’s sight of the girl. Huo Jinkai was fourteen and was nearly six-foot-tall. As he got up, Da couldn’t see the girl anymore.
Da spat on the ground, then looked at the food boxes which were still on the floor, already cold. Abruptly, he kicked over one of them.
The food box turned over, and the food spilled to the ground.
“Oh no.” Da looked at the kids and said, “Sorry, I didn’t see that. But I’m sure you guys can still eat it. I think the part at the top is still clean.”
This act of humiliation made Huo Jinkai and his brother clench their teeth. Again, none of them made any aggressive move.
Da was getting bored. He spat again, standing upright, glaring coldly at the kids.
“Boy, you think you’re so tough, huh? We offered you food so you should eat it. You don’t want it? Okay, we won’t be giving you any food again in the next few days.” He kicked over the other box of food as he spoke.
The rice and vegetables tumbled together on the ground, covered in dirt and dust. Clearly, none of it was still edible.
Huo Wushuang twisted her lips and almost cried again. Huo Jinyao turned and looked at her.
Da left with satisfaction.
The other kidnappers had finished their dinner as well. The four of them gathered together and started playing cards in the dim light.
Huo Wushuang had been trying to keep quiet, but during the second half of the night, she couldn’t help but start babbling,
“Brother, I’m so scared.
“They aren’t playing a game with us, are they?
“Are we going to die?”
She was so scared that she said those words in a very low voice.
“You won’t die, Wushuang. Believe your brothers. Your brothers won’t let you die.” Huo Jinkai’s heart almost broke when he saw his little sister hold back unshed tears.
If he weren’t tied up, he would have held his sister in his arms and comforted her immediately.
Huo Jinyao was watching the kidnappers’ every move. The men were all focused on the card game. None of them was looking at him.
Da was complaining about something. He had probably lost money in the card game.
Huo Jinyao glanced at Huo Jinkai. Huo Jinkai was had the same thought he did. Through that one glance, they exchanged ideas and made a plan.
They were both thinking about running.
If the kidnappers kept them hungry and thirsty, they might die before the ransom money arrived.
Instead of starving to death, they might as well take the risk and try to escape.
It was highly risky, though, because they had to face four strong male adults armed with guns. Their chance of success was very minimal.
Da and the others were playing cards the whole time. Huo Jinyao started comforting Huo Wushaung, telling her to rest and not to worry.
“Don’t worry. Just sleep. You’ll wake up at home in the morning.”
But Huo Wushuang couldn’t sleep. She was too scared to sleep. However, she believed Huo Jinyao.
Maybe what he said was true. Perhaps if she slept a little bit more, she would wake up at home tomorrow.
As the girl quietened down, Huo Jinyao turned to Huo Jinkai. They talked with very soft voices. They didn’t want the kidnappers to hear them.
When he was in the army, Huo Jinyao had learned from Zhang Yichen about how to untie ropes.
The method that Zhang Yichen had taught him could undo most kinds of knots. However, the knots that Da used were very hard to untie.
Huo Jinyao tried so hard that he even hurt his hands in the process and still failed to untie the ropes that bound his hands.
He glanced at Huo Jinkai. Huo Jinkai tried it too but he couldn’t untie the ropes either.
Because they failed to untie their own bonds, they leaned against each other back to back and tried to untie each other.
They kept their movements small. Every time they made a move, they would pause to observe Da and the other men.
The four men were still all focused on the card game. None of them paid any attention to the kids.
Huo Jinkai and Huo Jinyao picked at the knots for a long time but no matter what, they couldn’t untie themselves. Their hands were tied very tightly to the backs of their bodies.
The card game lasted nearly the whole night.
“Damn! Why am I losing money the whole time?” Da stared at the table, his eyes glowing with anger and then flared with determination to win the next one.
“Da, what’s the matter? We’ll be getting rich soon anyway,” said one of the other men.
“That’s right, Da. We’re going to get a hundred and fifty million dollars. Each of us will have thirty-seven million and five-hundred thousand. Think about that. The money you’ve lost is nothing,” said Liang. As the big winner, he comforted Da with those words.
Upon hearing that, Da glanced at Huo Jinkai and Huo Jinyao. He found the two boys exactly where they were before, remaining quiet.
Then he turned back, pulled out a card, and threw it on the table.
“Who doesn’t want as much money as possible?” he grumbled.
As the kidnappers were enjoying the game, Huo Jinyao and Huo Jinkai continued struggling extremely hard to untie themselves.
They had been waiting for those kidnappers to rest so that they could speed up.
However, those men spent the whole night playing cards without showing any signs of resting.
Huo Wushuang was tired as well. She had been pretending to sleep at first, but as time passed, she fell asleep for real.
With great effort, Huo Jinyao finally managed to loosen the rope on Huo Jinkai’s hands slightly.
He didn’t dare to untie him entirely and they waited for the kidnappers to sleep.
The two boys were both exhausted. Earlier, Da had kicked them violently. They were both still feeling severe pain. Even so, they kept themselves awake and waited for the kidnappers to rest.
They believed that they would have a chance to escape as long as they kept themselves awake.