A variety of invitation styles were spread out on the table, and Zhou Yun Sheng and Xue Yan were carefully sorting through them. The sofa had a laptop, which was playing a piano song, it’s unknown who was performing it, but the shambling sound was simply unbearable to the ears. Xue Lao Si listened for two minutes before losing his patience, shouting, “Xiao Yi, please turn off this crappy song, it’s hideous! You’re such an elegant person, able to play first class music, how can you love listening to such unsightly music in private? Who’s playing like that ah! They dare post this online, how haven’t they drowned in spit yet?!”
As he spoke, he handed the data on flower shops to the boss. Yesterday, he was just joking when he’d said he’d bring them invitation styles, but who would’ve thought, when he hadn’t arrived by eight o’clock this morning, the boss called him and asked him where the invitations were, helpless, he had to hunt down invitations. These two deserved to be a couple, their ‘whatever I say I’ll do’ characters were exactly the same.
“You’ve only listened for a minute, how can you have so much to say?” Zhou Yun Sheng glanced at him and grinned, then passed the antique style invitation to Xue Yan, “How’s this?”
“Not bad.” Xue Yan spread the flower shops’ promotional materials on the table and smiled, “The wedding site only has multi-colored China rose, no Beach roses.”
“Good, I like China roses.” Zhou Yun Sheng firmly declared. They were not going to do anything big, just invite Xue Yan’s close friends and important clan members to come eat a meal, then mark the family tree. China didn’t recognize same-sex marriage, but the Xue Clan had acknowledged that in ancient times, there were records of former patriarchs marrying a male wife, so although it took some twists and turns, they ultimately got their wish. From this, anyone could see how inclusive the Xue Clan was.
“Oh, fuck me! The great immortal prankster turns out to be your sister Xue Jing Yi ah. Are you two really from the same mother? Why is she torturing that poor piano? Listening to her after hearing your music, I just want to shoot my brains out!” Xue Lao Si really couldn’t stand the noise pollution, he’d stomped to the sofa to turn off the computer, his eyeballs almost popping out when he glanced at the screen.
“Some time ago Xue Rui hosted a birthday banquet at Fairview Garden, and he had his children perform a song. I remember feeling that the little girl was pretty talented. Her music was pleasant to listen to then, so why does it sound like she’s playing with broken hands now?” Xue Lao Si forced himself to listen for a while, then asked, “This is ‘My Empire’?”
“Oh, you noticed that?” Zhou Yun Sheng had switched on the surveillance cameras he’d planted in the Xue house earlier in order to check up on Xue Jing Yi’s situation.
“To tell the truth, I didn’t hear it, I just noticed the score’s name.” Xue Lao Si glanced at Xue Jing Yi’s awfully distorted expression, he couldn’t help but shake his head, “Don’t play if you can’t play it, this is just self-torture.” Because of Zhou Yun Sheng’s influence, he’d gained a certain appreciation for classical music, so even he now knew what a significant and amazing composition ‘My Empire’ was, and he could also tell what level Xue Jing Yi was playing at. To put it bluntly, she was just barely above a beginner.
“She can’t afford to not play. Since I’ve left the Xue house, she has to replace me at the 10th National Summit.”
“Pfft, they want to perform for the summit leaders at this level? Has Xue Rui lost his mind? He must be tired of living.” Xue Lao Si burst into laughter.
“I’d like her to go, but Xue Li Dani and Xue Zi Xuan aren’t idiots, they’ll definitely stop her.” Zhou Yun Sheng shook his head regretfully. He’d never intended to use the performance to destroy her, Xue Jing Yi might be crazy, but the rest of the Xue family weren’t, they’d never let her become such an international joke.
Xue Yan smiled, “Just wait for Xue Rui to come beg for you, when he comes, I’ll tell him the good news that we’re getting married.”
“Remember, I’m a pure white lotus, I can grow in the mud unsullied, I don’t know anything.” Zhou Yun Sheng hooked his arms around the other man’s neck, nibbling on his lover’s lips between words, his eyes flashing a sly light.
“Yes yes, you don’t know anything, you’re a tiny daisy blooming in the best greenhouse, a baby chick hiding under my wings. You only obediently accepted my protection, you don’t need to know about the world’s cruelty.” Xue Yan pried open his teeth with his tongue, indistinctly murmuring.
He didn’t expect his grumpy boss could naturally say such greasy sweet-talk, Xue Lao Si really couldn’t stand to watch. Also, what tiny daisy and baby chicks, could that really describe Huang Yi? He was clearly a wolf dressed in sheepskin, right? Just look at how he’s playing around with Xue Rui’s family and turning their lives upside down.
Three days later, the Xue family home.
Xue Rui called his son into the piano room, “Your sister has been practicing hard these few days. She didn’t sound so good at first, but it’s much better now. Go help her find any flaws and correct her as soon as possible. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wants me to take her to the rehearsal tomorrow.”
Xue Zi Xuan had shut himself up in his room, in just a few days he lost a lot of weight, his face very haggard. He asked hoarsely, “Dad, when are you going to pick up Xiao Yi?”
“Where can he run? That man Xue Yan’s temper turns violent at the drop of a hat, the boy might’ve bought some good will with him, but he’ll grow tired of him in a few days and throw him out. I’ll go pick him up and let him know the difference between good and evil. I give him food and clothing, and he still has the nerve to try and give me conditions, what a rude bastard.”
Xue Zi Xuan was very resentful of his father’s vicious words, he sneered, “For what purpose did you feed and clothe him? It’s just to dig out his heart! Why should he learn good and evil? So he can lie on the operating table and let you gut him?”
“Why, are you opposed?” Xue Rui stared at his son with suspicious eyes.
“Yes, I’m opposed.” Xue Zi Xuan frankly looked back.
“We’re trying to save your sister!”
“Then find another heart. If you dare touch him, I’ll go straight to the police and turn you all in.”
Xue Rui was filled with rage, on the verge of exploding, but Xue Zi Xuan just calmly pushed opened the door and walked towards Xue Jing Yi seated at the piano. Xue Jing Yi was a very determined person, bravely advancing to her goals, otherwise in the last life, she wouldn’t have insisted on finishing the stage performance during a heart attack. These three days, she practiced day and night, and was finally able to smoothly finish ‘My Empire’, something she originally thought she absolutely couldn’t do. But as it turns out, just forcing herself a little could make her ascend to a new level, which made her feel matchless pleasure after being overwhelmingly suppressed for so long.
“Brother, please listen to my song.” She looked up and smiled brightly.
Xue Zi Xuan glanced at her indifferently and walked over to pull open all the curtains.
Xue Rui promptly put away his furious expression and reluctantly smiled, “Jing Yi, play for your brother. Take the time today to practice as much as you can, tomorrow, Dad will accompany you to the Congress Hall for a rehearsal.”
“Okay.” Xue Jing Yi nodded. For the past couple months, she had been living in Zhou Yun Sheng’s shadow, watching his performances in the day, dreaming of becoming him at night, performing on stage in a tailcoat. She had almost turned into Zhou Yun Sheng’s shadow, fantasizing about possessing his talented body and glory, obsessing over reports of people experiencing personality changes after transplants, gradually losing her mind, becoming deeply paranoid. When Zhou Yun Sheng was here, she was vulnerable and faded like a shadow, but when Zhou Yun Sheng was gone, she would think that she could replace him.
She had already stepped into Zhou Yun Sheng’s well laid trap, to become more and more insane and paranoid, making her unable to correctly judge herself and others. She lived in an illusion, and thought that the illusion was reality. In the past, she would never have arrogantly believed she could play ‘My Empire’ perfectly, and even perform it in front of so many other countries as China’s representative.
Xue Zi Xuan shoved his hands into his pockets, staring at the confident father and daughter with mocking eyes. They were crazy.
Xue Li Dani pushed back work and rushed home. Her colleagues had told her that Xue Rui had accepted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ invitation, and would take Xue Jing Yi to the rehearsal tomorrow. Their orchestra was responsible for accompanying Xue Jing Yi, so they were going together. Xue Jing Yi wanted to play ‘My Empire’ in front of the leaders of various countries? What a joke! She’d almost fainted on the spot.
When she came home, Xue Jing Yi was already playing the third bar, she stared at the music score, her expression was very earnest, and no note was wrong, the melody was even very coherent. Xue Rui bobbed his head as he listened, quite pleased, in his view, as long as the song was coherent it was good enough to board the international stage.
But Xue Zi Xuan and Xue Li Dani’s opinions were in short- ‘how ridiculous’.
With no patience to endure till the end of a song, Xue Zi Xuan walked over and forcefully shut the piano cover. Her hands almost crushed, Xue Jing Yi let out a miserable howl, her eyes instantly filling with tears, looking at him with disbelief and fear. Xue Rui and Xue Li Dani recovered from their horror and quickly ran over to pull him back, shouting, “Why do you want to hurt your sister like this? Are you crazy?”
“I’m crazy? You’re crazy! You want her to play for Congress Hall with this kind of level, did you think everybody else is deaf?” He slowly took off his gloves, and coldly said, “Move, I’ll play it once.”
Xue Jing Yi’s frightened heart was pumping in the pain, she quickly clutched her inflamed fingers and leaned into Xue Li Dani’s embrace, her eyes blinking uncontrollably, plop plop, distressed tears falling to the ground. Xue Li Dani was going to scold her for being willful, but seeing her mortified and pitiful appearance, her heart instantly softened.
Xue Rui had been slighted by his son twice, he was already impatient, but this performance was a major event, sloppiness was unacceptable. Since his son said it wouldn’t do, he lost nothing by listening to him, even if he felt that his daughter’s performance was already perfect.
Xue Zi Xuan took a deep breath, and firmly pressed the keys. He tried to move his mood back to the age of war, tried to understand the feelings of people in distress rising up to defend their homeland, but he still failed. This was the only song he couldn’t interpret, even after studying it for five years, he still didn’t dare play it out in public.
But even though his level was insufficient, it was countless times higher than Xue Jing Yi’s level. His music was very firm, and it also contained an unyielding force, even people insensitive to music could easily discern the difference between him and Xue Jing Yi. His sound was like a boulder, it could be used to strike the listeners’ souls, while Xue Jing Yi’s sound was like gummi candy, full of sweetness, soft as a feather. But ‘My Empire’ was not a sweet, romantic waltz, it was a rousing roar and rallying cry.
In this way, Xue Jing Yi’s previous performance was a joke.
Xue Li Dani felt her husband’s ignorance, she searched for ‘My Empire’s history on her phone and handed it to him, silently shaking her head apologetically. She was tactfully telling her husband that their daughter would not work.
Xue Rui’s disapproving expression slowly became grave, and when his son finished the song, his temple was twitching in pain. As it turns out, playing the piano was not as simple as pressing the right notes.
Xue Zi Xuan was silent for a moment, then he placed his phone on the music stand and dully said, “You heard the difference between me and Xue Jing Yi right? Now listen to Xiao Yi’s version and the original composer’s song. It’s okay if you don’t understand music, as long as you’re not deaf, you should be able to hear the good and bad.”
He smiled mockingly and clicked the play button. This was the short video edited by the Levin Empire netizens. They edited Ivanov’s historical performance in the trenches with Zhou Yun Sheng’s performance, both playing two alternating bars, 1-3,2-4, but when put together, there wasn’t any feeling of wrongness. Heroic music shook the crystal lights overhead, if Xue Zi Xuan’s performance was like a boulder, the two men’s performance was blood and fire, iron and lava, a life and death symphony. That kind of destructive force could pierce eardrums, shake the soul, and ignite the blood.
Prior to this, Xue Rui had never seen Zhou Yun Sheng perform, he didn’t know he adopted this state when he sat in front of the piano, as if he was indestructible, as if he was omnipotent. He walked to the sofa and sat down, his expression slowly distorting into something hideous.
He finally knew the reason why the head of the Levine Empire designated Zhou Yun Sheng to perform. Fortunately, his son had stopped him, otherwise, if he’d rashly taken his daughter to the Congress Hall rehearsal, would he still have any face left to continue living in the capital? Even someone like him who knew nothing about music could hear the difference between the three, no, strictly speaking, the four player’s sound, not to mention others.
Xue Jing Yi shrunk into Xue Li Dani’s bosom, burying her face in her swollen red hands, afraid to see her father’s expression. When the video started, it was like a slap in the face, popping her self-inflated ego and waking her up to reality. Now, she couldn’t wait to dig a hole and bury herself. Why did she agree to replace Huang Yi? She must’ve been under a malicious spell!
“Jing Yi, didn’t you say you could definitely do it? If I’d taken you to the Congress Hall tomorrow, I would’ve become the biggest fool in the capital! Have you lost your mind, ah? Do think this is the kind of thing you can nonchalantly agree to?” Xue Rui exasperatedly questioned.
“She’s been bed ridden, where would she find the time to practice. And why are you raising your voice like that? Wasn’t it your stupid idea to have her replace Huang Yi? Why are you now pushing all the blame on her head? Quickly call the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this is your mess, solve it yourself!” Xue Li Dani protectively pushed her trembling daughter behind her back.
Xue Rui’s eyeballs almost popped out, he pointed at the colluding mother and daughter for half a day, but couldn’t find the words to speak.
Xue Zi Xuan closed the piano lid and said coldly, “Xue Jing Yi, the next time you touch the piano, I’ll break your hands.”
“What are you saying? You dare threaten your sister! Just because she can’t play well now doesn’t mean she’ll never be able to play! Do you think everyone is like you and Huang Yi, natural born piano geniuses?” Xue Li Dani finished with her husband and started chiding her son.
“She will never play well, her love of music is gone, the only thing left is dirty, selfish lust. You heard her sound just now, you know very well what her current state is like. She had some spiritual connection before, but now there’s only malice.” Xue Zi Xuan slowly said.
All the blood drained from Xue Jing Yi’s face, she gripped Xue Li Dani’s waist, stopping herself from fainting. Xue Li Dani opened her mouth, but ultimately couldn’t find a way to truthfully refute. She was also a musician, she knew how to judge music. Inept skill was negligible, but dedication and love of music was not. Without those two things, the melody would lack soul, and could never touch the listeners. If her daughter couldn’t adjust back to her original mentality, she would never attain any musical accomplishments.
But can she adjust back? Comparing her to Huang Yi, it would be harder for her than climbing to heaven. She seemed to have grown accustomed to indulging in the benefits and honors Huang Yi brought her, she’d already lost her heart, and could never find it again. Xue Li Dani hugged her daughter behind her, her heart extremely remorseful. If she’d brought Huang Yi back after the preliminaries, the Xue family wouldn’t be facing such a crisis.
Xue Rui irritably paced two laps, then pointed to his son and said, “Zi Xuan, can’t you replace Jing Yi at the performance?”
“You think arbitrarily replacing the performer is your call? Who are you? The President?” Xue Zi Xuan was fed up with dealing with such a family, he picked up his phone and left.
Xue Rui froze for a moment, then helplessly pulled out his phone and called the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ contact to re-negotiate.
“Replace? No, no that’s not possible, it can only be Miss Xue, we’re not accepting anyone else. No, Mr. Xue is no good either, we need the best.”
“Sick? Is it very grave? Good, if it’s not serious you can adjust the rehearsal for however long it takes for her to recuperate. The summit is two months away, there’s still time. We intend to use 3D technology to recreate Mr. Ivanov’s historic patriotic performance, Miss Xue will be performing on the same stage as the great music master. The leaders really like this idea of going back in time, and have already designated this program as the finale for the evening party. If Miss Xue can’t perform on stage, we’ll be in a very difficult spot, so please be sure to attend. If necessary, we can take responsibility for helping Miss Xue’s recuperation, please rest assured, we have the best medical technology. “
“No, no, it’s not a problem at all, Jing Yi’s chronic weakness is acting up, but it’s not serious, she just has to rest for a few days. But I’m worried that her physical condition will be too unstable, and an accident will happen on stage.” Xue Rui said.
“Whenever she’s in the venue, we will naturally be responsible for her health care. The rehearsal floor will have 24 hr. medical staff on duty, you absolutely don’t have to worry. Miss Xue’s performance in Vienna was very exciting, anyone who can perfectly interpret ‘My Empire’ must have a steel will as strong as Mr. Ivanov’s himself, we have total confidence in her.”
The more the staff applauded Zhou Yun Sheng, the more Xue Rui cold sweated, he realized that there was no room for rejection, so he hollowly laughed along and hung up.
“No wonder you had Huang Yi substitute in the contest for you, it’s because you have no talent. Go back to your room if you’re not talented, and don’t come out to stir up any more trouble. If I’d let myself be fooled by you, I would’ve had to flee the country in shame.” Turning to face his wife and daughter, he furiously scolded.
Xue Jing Yi buried her face into Xue Li Dani’s back, sobbing silently. Her father had never used such a disgusted tone to talk to her.
Xue Li Dani glared at her husband, but also recognized that her daughter was in the wrong, so she quickly hugged her and left.
“Mama, when can I have surgery?” After walking some distance, Xue Jing Yi quietly whispered to Xue Li Dani. If she had Huang Yi’s heart, how could there be a difficult piano piece she couldn’t play? This morbid obsession had taken over her whole mind.
“Not now.” Xue Li Dani’s eyes darkened gloomily, she muttered irresolutely, “At least a two month wait.” Now, her husband would certainly rush out to get Huang Yi, they couldn’t touch him until the end of the 10th National Summit, otherwise, who would perform on stage?
Seeing her daughter’s disappointed expression, she quickly comforted, “I’ll take you to do the physical tomorrow, it’ll be fine. You can even use these two months to nurse yourself to the best health, don’t worry about anything else.”
Xue Jing Yi nodded, reluctantly pushing down her restless mood.
Xue Rui changed his suit, then found his son standing in the doorway, “Going to pick up Xiao Yi?” Xue Zi Xuan raised his eyebrows, his eyes full of ridicule and certainty.
“Yes ah.” Xue Rui’s complexion was livid. Now, except for coaxing Huang Yi back, he had no other options.
“I’ll go with you.” Xue Zi Xuan put on his white gloves and took the lead downstairs.
The father and son drove to the Xue Clan villa that night, and sat down to wait after being brought into the living room by a servant.
Xue Yan heard the servant’s knock and sat up, the naked boy tightly wrapped around him muttered dazedly, “Mmm…where to?”
“Xue Rui’s here. I’ll go talk to him, you can continue sleeping, I’ll be right back.”
“I’ll give you 10 minutes.” Zhou Yun Sheng opened one eye and glanced at the bedside table alarm clock.
“Hmm, I’ll be sure to come back within 10 minutes.” Xue Yan chuckled and adjusted the alarm clock, then kissed the boy’s cute round shoulder. The boy didn’t like being too far away from him, especially at night. A few nights ago, Xue Yan woke up in the middle of the night to get a drink water, he was only in the kitchen for a few minutes before the boy ran out without anything on to look for him, his expression panic-stricken, his eyes full of worry, and two lines of tears staining his cheeks. Now whenever he recalled it, Xue Yan felt endless heartache. He’d questioned him for a long time and finally learned that it was just because of a nightmare, then he really didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
“How did you become so clingy?” Xue Yan’s mouth complained, but in fact, he wished he could glue himself to the boy and stay together 24/7.
Zhou Yun Sheng gave a discontented humph, then seemed to remember something and struggle to sit up, rubbing his eyes as he said, “I’ll carry you out of bed.”
“I can do it myself, you can go back to sleep. Don’t forget, before I met you, I bathed, changed my clothes, and got out of bed on my own, you really don’t have to spoil me.” Xue Yan smiled helplessly and propped his body up, slowly moved to the bedside wheelchair, then pulled on his robe and fastened the belt.
“Yan Ye (Uncle).” Xue Rui and Xue Zi Xuan both stood up.
“Sit down, it’s so late, why are you looking for me?” Xue Yan motioned to the servant to bring him a cigar.
“We’re here to pick up Xiao Yi.” Xue Zi Xuan got straight to the point.
“Why do you want to take him back? To dig his heart out for Xue Jing Yi?” Xue Yan severely puffed his cigar, the dark red fire flaring fiercely, his expression terribly menacing.
Xue Rui immediately broke out in cold sweat, Xue Zi Xuan clenched his fist and calmly asked, “Did you tell this to Xiao Yi?”
“I won’t contaminate his ears with this kind of thing. You’d better give up this idea as soon as possible, or I’ll have your whole family’s hearts dug out as repayment. I assume you’re clear on what kind of person I am.”
Xue Rui nodded, all too clear on Xue Yan’s ruthlessness. He should’ve guessed, nothing that went on in the Xue Clan could remain a secret from Xue Yan, whatever he cared to know, a detailed report would be handed to him within an hour.
Even though Xue Zi Xuan hated Xue Yan, he now couldn’t help but want to thank him for protecting Xiao Yi. He looked up at him, then froze.
Xue Yan’s silk robe had slightly parted, revealing his strong chest, ambiguous red marks spread from his chest up to his neck. A few bite marks could clearly be distinguished, the other party was obviously a very passionate person.
However, Xue Yan had no woman by his side, nor a man, only Xiao Yi.
Xue Zi Xuan felt like he’d fallen into a frozen lake, his body and mind incomparably cold, feeling a deep sense of despair and disorientation. He dragged his eyes away and noticed the pile of invitations scattered on the table, signed with flashy calligraphy:
Deliver to Mr. Xue Zhao Han.
On Gregorian Calendar October 1, 201X.
We have the honor to set on (Monday) Chinese Lunar Calendar August 16, 201X, a wedding ceremony held for Mr. Xue Yan and Mr. Huang Yi.
Please accept our humble wedding banquet.
We would be honored with your presence.
Sincerely, Xue Yan.
Location: Longquan Mountain. Xue Residence.
A wedding for Mr. Xue Yan and Mr. Huang Yi? They’re actually getting married? Two men!?
Noticing his son’s horrified gaze, Xue Rui also found the invitation, then almost fell off the sofa.
Whatever I say I’ll do – 說風就是雨 – Say the wind is the rain- vigorous and resolute.
Malice- 戾氣- liqi- evil tendencies / vicious currents / antisocial behavior
公曆2013年10月1日，謹訂於（星期一）農曆2013年8月16日，為薛閻先生和黃怡先生舉行結婚典禮. This is the invitation. I swear the dates are revered. Someone help.