Night fell slowly. Lin Xi checked his phone for the time and prepared to start heading back. Lu Lingxing, who was mixing a cocktail behind the bar, leaned closer, “Mr. Lin, you don’t want a drink before you go?”
“No, not at all,” Frowning, Lin Xi pushed him away, “Don’t get so close to me. I’ll smell like alcohol.”
Lu Lingxing’s eyebrows shot up. “Has your brother changed recently? He seems to be a lot stricter on you than usual.”
Lin Xi eyed him and was just about to speak when a burst of noise came from the door. Young Sir Zhang walked into the bar with three men in tow, looking displeased. When his eyes fell on Lin Xi and his friends, he clicked his tongue, “Well, well. I was wondering who would book the venue during the daytime. So it was you.”
Even rich young men had their own social circles. Lin Xi’s friends had never gotten along with Zhang Ye’s. With a cold chuckle, Lin Xi raised his voice. “I didn’t know that my venue was open to dogs.”
His face hardening, Zhang Ye walked into the bar. When he passed Lin Xi, he intentionally bumped into him, as if challenging him. Lin Xi was knocked to the side, and something fell out of his pocket. When he looked down, he saw that it was Duan Shen’s tie that he had stuffed into his pocket.
Leaning over to pick it up, he saw that Zhang Ye had stepped on top of it. He crushed it beneath his shoes, dragging it from side to side, before lifting his foot again and speaking in a lighthearted voice. “Ooh, my bad, Mr. Lin. My eyes aren’t good, I didn’t even see that there.”
Without even knowing why, Lin Xi felt anger rise inside of him. Picking up the tie, he brushed the dust off and put it back into his pocket, before looking up, his face taut and his words slow. “Eyes aren’t good?”
Arms crossed, Zhang Ye laughed. “Mr. Lin! I didn’t expect that your ears were as bad as my eyes.”
Lin Xi’s fist caught him right in the eye. With a cold face he pressed him to the ground, “I’ll f*cking beat you until your eyes get better!”
When Duan Shen landed and turned on his phone, countless texts and missed calls showed up. He called Lin He back. After hanging up, he immediately told his driver to turn around and drive to the bar.
Lu Lingxing was waiting at the door. When he saw that it was Duan Shen and not Lin He there, he looked obviously surprised. Duan Shen spared him a glance before offering a short explanation, “Lin He isn’t in the country. He called me.”
Only then did Lu Lingxing come back to himself and led Duan Shen upstairs to his room. When the waiter opened the door, Lin Xi was hunched in the sofa, his whole aura seeming to scream “go away!”
“What happened?” Duan Shen asked.
Lu Lingxing seemed just as puzzled when he spoke. “Zhang Ye stepped on his tie. I don’t know why, but he got so mad. I’ve never seen him wear a tie before though.”
Looking at the man beside him in the dim light of the hallway, he found that the impassive demeanor he had grown used to was gone, replaced by surprise. Lu Lingxing blinked; when he looked back, the other man’s face was blank again.
With a few steady steps, Duan Shen was in front of Lin Xi again, his voice cold. “Lin Xi, what did I say last night?”
Head lowered, Lin Xi didn’t answer. Whatever face he was making was sunk in shadows, hidden from view.
“Speak.” Duan Shen’s voice was a tad harsher.
Lin Xi’s fingers dug into the couch. He swallowed the grievance and frustration in his throat before responding in a low voice, “He was the one who started it.”
“Is that so?” Duan Shen’s voice didn’t change. “What did he do to you?”
The image of Duan Shen’s tie appeared in his mind, and emotions floated to the surface that he found himself unable to say. Lin Xi’s chin tightened and he didn’t respond. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Duan Shen’s right arm rise. A bit of shadow fell on him. Thinking that he couldn’t wait any longer for an answer, Lin Xi turned his cheek and ground his teeth together, remaining still.
The next moment, the man’s long fingers landed on his chin. The warmth of his fingertips seeped into his skin, bit by bit. Duan Shen’s grasp on his chin forced him to lift his face in the dim lighting, and Lin Xi raised his gaze as well. But all he saw was those bottomless black eyes flash across his face for a moment, before the slow question, “Are you hurt?”
Lin Xi was stunned. The intense sound of his heart throbbing rose to his ears, almost washing over his tiny voice. “…No.”
Duan Shen released his fingers and stepped back. “Then get up. Let’s go to the hospital together.”