174. Even Your Name is a Lie
Frankly, the first time YouRan met JingYuan, he could feel the other man wasn’t an ordinary man. He didn’t think too much about it afterwards as he got to know the other man more. There was also the occasional homeliness JingYuan showed. For example, YiHan loved to eat fruits so JingYuan would peel anything that needed to be peeled and if it didn’t need peeling, JingYuan would clean and cut them up first. All of the work was done by JingYuan’s two hands. Sometimes, he’d be sent spinning around by YiHan’s orders. They acted just like all loving couples in the world did. But since JingYuan was the future husband of the youngest son of the Bai family, the man must be the head of the Mu family.
When their engagement was announced, the whole city felt like it’d gone through an earthquake. Everyone on the internet was talking about it. YouRan wasn’t interested in such matters though so he’d only taken a brief glance at it. All he knew was that it was a marriage tying the Bai and Mu families together. He thought it was just the average contract marriage done for business. He never would’ve thought the couple would appear right by his side and that they felt so passionately for each other.
YiHan and JingYuan acted so warmly and naturally around each other. Their love burned bright. The two formed their own little world, connected by an invisible thread that cannot be broken nor did they want it to be broken.
Filled with orange slices, YiHan was unable to speak. All he could do was nod.
YouRan then turned to Yan. “Your surname is Yan and you’ve known YiHan for a while now. Are you part of the five great families too?”
“Ah, yes,” Yan nervously replied. “I’m the second son of the Yan family.”
YouRan nodded. “The second son. How did you come to live in such an area then?”
A bead of cold sweat rolled down the back of Yan’s head. “I like this place,” Yan calmly said. “It’s like the eye of the storm. I won’t be disturbed at all and it’s a very favourable place for me.”
YouRan didn’t find anything suspicious with that answer. “Does it counts as going into hiding? Great minds hide in the city?”
Yan nodded in apparent awkwardness.
After a pause for thought, YouRan then said to YiHan, “No wonder a young master like you would come all the way here. Were you scoping the area out for him?”
YiHan froze. Reminded of his first meeting with YouRan, he hurriedly swallowed down and began nodding repeatedly as he said, “Yes, yes. Yan was looking for a quiet place to live by himself. Zhang-ge’s store re-opened on that day. When I left, it was still quite early so I wandered through the city, and scope out available places for Yan. Then, I saw this place. I found it nice and told him so when I went home. That’s why he paid attention to information about the properties here.” YiHan then cleared his throat with a little cough.
JingYuan gently patted YiHan on the back. “Slow down. Don’t choke.”
“It really is a small world,” YouRan said with a nod.
“It’s fate too,” YiHan said, smiling.
“Yan moved out of the family home. No matter where he went, he’d have neighbours,” JingYuan calmly said. “However, he just so happened to move here and became the neighbour of his favourite author. That is something to celebrate and be thankful for.”
JingYuan’s low voice rang with the strength to make others believe in him. Unwittingly, YouRan nodded to what the other man said.
At the same moment, Yan and YiHan both turned to look away and heaved a sigh of relief.
The engagement party was held at the Bai family home. The sky grew dark and bright lights shone from within the manor. In the ground floor banquet hall, shimmering fabrics wafted through the air scented with the aroma of booze and champagne as people chattered. Everyone who’s anyone in the city was here. Of course, many thick-skinned attendees came without an invitation.
On that night, the great men and women of the city were all gathered in the same room. They were each accompanied by a beautiful lady or a handsome man. Many of whom were household names, celebrities. Winter was coming and the air was freezing but the gorgeous partners still wore fashionable thin clothes. The field of bare shoulders and slender legs made one’s heart pound. Thankfully, the hall was well-heated so the beauties didn’t fall sick from the cold.
YouRan arrived with Yan. YiHan knew the man didn’t like crowded situations like the current party, so he especially arranged a quiet corner for YouRan to hide in. He also ordered Pan Wen and Wei Wu to stand guard nearby and prevent anyone from disturbing YouRan.
In the hall, the people gathered in duos and trios. As they sipped from their drinks, they talked. Sometimes, they laughed. When the star couple, YiHan and JingYuan, arrived at the top of the staircase, a roar rose as the crowd applauded. Everyone exclaimed how perfect they were together. The moment the two men reached the bottom of the stairs, they were surrounded. Not even Ma and Pa could escape from the crowd. There would also be someone toasting them and congratulating them.
FuRen led YiHan and JingYuan to the stage in the hall for a speech announcing their engagement along with a few thanks directed at the crowd.
YouRan’s spot might be tucked away but it had a great view of the stage. “They’re very well matched,” he said with a smile as he watched the star couple.
Beside him sat Pei. She took a sip of her juice and smiled. “Indeed. They’re so in love. Haha! Nan Shan, did you know? Whenever I see Mr Mu display his proficiency at face-changing, I want to laugh. He looks so different when it comes to YiHan compared to when he talks to other people. Haha, they’re really good for each other. They’re so deeply in love. If they ever break up, I think I’ll never believe in love again.”
“It’s their engagement party,” said Yan. “It’s a grand day. Don’t mention that nonsense.”
Pei stuck her tongue out at her brother. Looking at the happy crowd, the smile on her lips grew wider. “People nowadays is that realistic. Rules and ethics are nothing before money and power. It has been years since gay marriage has been legalized but it’s not part of the mainstream. Many people still can’t accept it, particularly the older generation. In this hall, at least half of the people here think of gay people as aliens. But look at them, Nan Shan. All of them are smiling as brightly as flowers in bloom. They keep praising JingYuan and YiHan as a perfect couple. It’s as if they’re speaking what they truly think. There’s no pressure at all. In the end, it’s all a matter of power. JingYuan is the head of the Mu family. YiHan is the youngest son of the Bai family. In this city, they are part of the tiny crowd standing at the top of the pyramid. With their statuses, who’d dare say anything? Even if someone finds it upsetting, they have to smile.”
“That’s natural,” said Yan. “Who would want to make an enemy of the Bai and Mu families over a little unease? Unless they’re a fool. Honestly, JingYuan and YiHan have been close since they were children. A lot of us already knew about them but the star of the show didn’t say anything. Hence, no one dared gossip about them. The instant they announced their engagement, everyone came rushing to congratulate them. It doesn’t matter if they truly mean it or not. At least, on the surface, they’re all happy. That’s reality.”
“People will die for riches and birds will die for food,” YouRan calmly stated. “In real life, profit matters most. It’s flawed but understandable.”
YouRan’s eyes slowly scanned the crowd. Suddenly, he froze. His pupils shrank.
Yan had been keeping an eye on him the entire time. When he noticed something off about YouRan’s posture, his gaze followed the other man’s. His eyes went cold and a dark gloom immediately overtook his face.
Noticing something off in the air, Pei looked over as well. It was He Yuan and Yan Miao. He Yuan had a grey custom suit on. Hanging off of his arm was his wife’s petit hand. The man had a loving smile on as he talked to the lady beside him. Yan Miao might be over thirty but she had taken such great care of her skin that she looked like a young woman around the age of twenty. She was dressed in a sapphire blue strapless gown, half-exposing her pale white shoulders and accentuating the curves of her body. Chin slightly tilted up, there was a tinge of arrogance in that stunning face.
Sapphire blue is a colour that was hard to wear. One tiny flaw and it’d easily look gaudy. Yan Miao looked gorgeous in the dress. It made her appear as pale as snow, elegant and rich.
Pei glanced at them then back at the pale face of YouRan. She secretly nudged Yan. What was her brother doing? What’s with that sour face? Did he want Nan Shan to realise they already know of this matter? Fortunately, Nan Shan’s attention was all focused on He Yuan, that slimeball, and none on them.
Snapped back from his thoughts by Pei’s nudge, Yan’s hands clenched and unclenched a few times before saying with a smile, “Nan Shan, you know them?”
Startled, YouRan looked away from the man and plastered a smile on. “How could I ever know someone so powerful? I was only looking.”
“That man is the head of the He family,” Yan said, smile still present. “He is quite powerful. He’s connected to the Yan family by marriage.”
YouRan’s eyes slid shut. “The head of the He family? What’s his name?”
“He Yuan,” said Yan.
YouRan let out a dry chuckle. “He…Yuan? His wife’s beautiful.”
Yan clenched his hands into fists as he glanced at the couple in question before steadily replying, “Mn. His wife is my aunt. That man is a slave of his wife. He obeys everything my aunt says. In the past few years, the Yan family has helped him a lot due to his marriage to my aunt. In the city, the He family is considered one of the top families, right below the Great Five.”
YouRan’s face was as white as fresh snow. He Yuan? Bitterness rose within him at the lie. Even his name was faked. He Yao likely never existed in this world. That’s good too. The man he loved was He Yao. That man had nothing to do with this sparkling, handsome head of the He family, none at all. As for He Yao, he’s dead from this moment on.
Watching the emotions flicker across YouRan’s eyes, Pei’s heart ached. She couldn’t resist throwing a hateful glare at He Yuan. However, JingYuan was right. The public cannot know of this. Still, it will be known sooner or later to the people linked to it. Rather than letting YouRan face this bloody reality unprepared, it’d be better to let the man realise it earlier on his own. He can then have more time to compose himself and think through the matter. It also meant he would never have any other delusions about He Yuan.
True, there’s a lot of pain when one cuts away the flesh festering around the wound. However, leaving the rotten flesh be would only make the injury worse.
YouRan let out a low, self-mocking chuckle as his eyes dropped down.
Yan, who’d been watching the other man, felt a spike of pain and upset for some unknown reason.
The two siblings exchanged glances before trying their best to switch the topic to something lighter. It was only mildly effective. YouRan’s entire energy seemed to have been sapped away. Every smile was noticeably forced. The siblings wrecked their brains and did everything they could but nothing could cheer YouRan up. Instead, it made YouRan down a few more drinks.
Usually, YouRan didn’t enjoy alcohol. A few glasses in and his face began to flush red. His eyes drifted as he spaced out.
Great minds hide in the city: it’s a Chinese proverb/saying – Good minds depend on their environment to forget about their worries so they hide in the rural regions. Great minds will hide in the city for that is where the powerful are. Only the best of the best will hide in the Imperial court for they can attain peace and intelligence despite their rowdy environment.
He Yao: This was a name that popped up before. I had assumed it to be a typo since it appears in non-YouRan thoughts sometimes. If there ever is a second edit in the distant future, I’d change it. For now, we’ll leave the previous few chapters as is.