The entire Ming family was enshrouded by a layer of mist, hazy and elusive, and though Xia Wennan could see something looming on the other side, it was too vague to make out.

At breakfast, Xia Wennan purposefully sat next to Ming Siyan.
He pretended to casually chat with Ming Qin, sitting back on his chair with his arm resting on top in a languid posture.
While no one was looking, he leaned against Ming Siyan’s neck to see if it smelled like Lu Huaiye’s pheromones.

Ultimately, before he could get close, Ming Luchuan pulled him back by the wrist.
Stilling with shock, he asked, “What on earth?”

Ming Luchuan impassively grabbed a jar of jam and scooped out a spoonful into Xia Wennan’s bowl, saying, “Have some jam.”

Xia Wennan didn’t want to eat jam.
He lifted his bowl and scraped every dollop of jam into Ming Luchuan’s bowl with his chopsticks.
“No thank you.”

Presently, the two of them were so close that their quiet murmurs would go unheard by the people around them.
Ming Luchuan nonchalantly watched on as Xia Wennan scraped the jam, effectively staining both bowls.
“What are you up to?” he said. 

Without looking at him, Xia Wennan murmured, “I’m trying to smell if Lu Huaiye’s pheromones are on Ming Siyan.”

“Lu Huaiye slept in the guest room,” said Ming Luchuan.

When Xia Wennan raised his head—his forehead grazing Ming Luchuan’s jaw as he did so—and looked Ming Luchuan in the eye.

“This isn’t the first time he’s stayed the night either,” said Ming Luchuan. 

Xia Wennan let out an ‘oh’ that was tinged with disappointment.
When he moved to sit back down, he suddenly registered Ming Sichen, who was sitting across from Ming Luchuan, and said, “Do you think Lu Huaiye’s pheromones got on Ming Sichen’s body?”

Alphas were also able to leave the scent of their pheromones on betas through temporary marks, but the duration it lasted was very brief. 

Xia Wennan’s question was vague enough that he’d even mentally prepared himself for Ming Luchuan to think that there was something wrong with his brain.
And yet in the next moment, to his surprise, Ming Luchuan said, “No.
Lu Huaiye would exercise caution.”

Xia Wennan’s head shot up, unable to hide the surprise on his face any longer.
Ming Luchuan reached out to touch Xia Wennan’s face, intentionally concealing his expression from view.
He then dipped his head, as if to kiss him, and whispered in his ear. “Prior to his car accident, Ming Sichen liked Lu Huaiye.
Everyone in the family knew.” 

After that, Ming Luchuan let go of his hand.

Xia Wennan sat up straight.
He couldn’t stop himself from looking at Ming Sichen.

Aunt Zhang was still feeding Ming Sichen breakfast, but Ming Sichen seemed full and was refusing to open his mouth.
Auntie Zhang was holding a spoon with a steamed egg in her hand, coaxing him to eat as if he were a child.

Xia Wennan’s heart was brimming with suspicions, but this wasn’t the place to voice his questions. “Why can’t I go to Ming Yan?”

On the other side of the table, Yin Zejing’s abruptly raised voice diverted Xia Wennan’s attention.  

Xia Wennan looked over to their end and heard Ming Qin say, “I never said that you can’t, I’m only asking whether you think that Ming Yan is the most suitable for you.”

Unlike Yin Zejing’s worked up tone, Ming Qin’s bearing remained gentle.

“Then which company do you think suits me better?” Yin Zejing asked.

Ming Qin set his chopsticks down atop the table, looking at him as he said, “You’re the one interning, but you don’t even know which company would suit you?” 

Yin Zejing abruptly leapt to his feet—his chair legs scraping loudly against the floor—and stormed out.Ming Qin watched him go wordlessly and merely continued eating.
When he finished, he wiped his mouth with a napkin as he addressed Ming Luchuan, “Lao-da[1], come to the study.”

Ming Luchuan nodded.
“All right.”

Nobody knew where Yin Zejing had run off to.
Lu Huaiye wanted to leave after eating, so Ming Siyan saw him out.
Ming Sichen’s wheelchair was pushed to the doorway, and he gazed out into the garden, which also happened to be the direction Lu Huaiye and Ming Siyan set out to.

Xia Wennan walked to the door, squatted by Ming Sichen’s side, and gently called, “Ming Sichen.”

He remembered that when Ming Sichen yelled his name last night, all he wanted to do was get out of there as quickly as possible, but now that he thought about it, he wondered if Ming Sichen had something to say to him.

Yet there was no response from Ming Sichen, his blank gaze fixed on a distant point.

Xia Wennan tilted his head to study Ming Sichen and realized how similar his appearance was to Ming Siyan’s—to the point where he couldn’t find the tiniest difference between the two’s facial features.

The sole difference lay in the fact that Ming Siyan was an omega with a perceptible scent of pheromones on his body if you got close enough to smell it, whereas Ming Sichen smelled clean, nary a scent on him. 

Xia Wennan stealthily shifted closer to smell him, but he couldn’t detect even the faintest hint of Lu Huaiye’s pheromones.

A while later, Ming Luchuan stepped out of Ming Qin’s study.Xia Wennan rose to his feet and looked at him somewhat expectantly.
“Can we go back?”

Ming Luchuan nodded.
“Let’s go.”

When he reached the entrance, Ming Luchuan saw Ming Sichen in his wheelchair and shouted towards the house, “Aunt Zhang!”

Aunt Zhang appeared.

“Don’t let Sichen sit outside for too long,” Ming Luchuan told Aunt Zhang.
“Make sure he doesn’t catch a cold.”

“All right,” Aunt Zhang approached Ming Sichen and gripped the wheelchair handles, wheeling Ming Sichen away as she said, “Let’s go back, you’ve been outside for long enough today.”

Xia Wennan and Ming Luchuan watched as Aunt Zhang pushed the wheelchair inside before making their way towards the parking lot.

The instant they got into the car, without waiting until Ming Luchuan started the engine, Xia Wennan, who could no longer restrain his wandering thoughts, grabbed Ming Luchuan’s arm.
“So, Ming Sichen had feelings for Lu Huaiye?”

His hand trapped in Xia Wennan’s grasp, Ming Luchuan had no way to start the car, and could only say, “It’s all in the past.”

“It’s quite shocking, no? Wasn’t Lu Huaiye Ming Siyan’s boyfriend before?”

“He wasn’t, in the beginning.” With that, Ming Luchuan’s patience had run out.
“Could you let go of me first?”

Xia Wennan released his hold on Ming Luchuan’s hand.
“President Ming, please.”

Ming Luchuan started the car, and they slowly set off towards the entrance.

Xia Wennan processed the information he’d just received.
“So that means that Ming Sichen and Ming Siyan fought over Lu Huaiye, but Ming Siyan was the one who succeeded, right?”

Ming Luchuan hummed in assent.

Xia Wennan suddenly felt a little baffled.
He looked ahead soundlessly. “What’s wrong?” Ming Luchuan asked. 

Xia Wennan scratched at his unkempt hair, saying, “Actually, this should be a non-issue, right? Lu Huaiye is an alpha.
A beta competing against an omega over an alpha? How could he possibly win?” Xia Wennan felt terrible for Ming Sichen all of a sudden.
He liked the same person as his twin brother, but his twin brother was an omega, whereas he was a beta who had no gender advantage when facing an alpha.
The person he liked had, predictably, picked his own brother, and he’d also been in a car accident that had led to an intellectual disability.

Was Ming Sichen truly afflicted with a mental defect? Xia Wennan suddenly began to have doubts.
The night before, Aunt Zhang had escorted Ming Sichen back to his bedroom to sleep, but why would he venture out alone and collapse in the corridor, and just happened to be seen by Lu Huaiye, who then picked him up.

Was it pre-planned? Knowing that Lu Huaiye had gone to the bathroom, did he deliberately come out to manufacture a chance encounter, only to be foiled by running into the tactless Xia Wennan?

Why would Ming Sichen put on an act if he was no dummy? What was his goal? Could he be trying to seize the opportunity to seduce Lu Huaiye?

Moreover, who in the Ming family wanted to harm him?

Xia Wennan couldn’t figure it out.

At this time, Ming Luchuan had already driven out of the gate, and it was then that Xia Wennan saw Yin Zejing, who had earlier left in a rage, running along the curb.

“What was Yin Zejing and your dad fighting about?” Xia Wennan asked. 

“Yin Zejing wants to intern at Ming Yan,” said Ming Luchuan. 

☆ ☆ ☆

[1] Ming Qin called Ming Luchuan “Lao-da” a couple of times before, which I translated to ‘boss’, but it’s also an address for the eldest child in a family.

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