Ch.65 – One-way Passage

 

Xia Wennan opened his eyes to the sight of Ming Luchuan holding the shower nozzle, hot water streaming out and pouring over Xia Wennan’s head.

His pyjamas were drenched in no time, the fabric plastered to his body, but as the tub gradually filled up with water that subsequently spread across his entire body, his clothes floated to the surface as if they weighed nothing.

Xia Wennan was submerged not long after.
He stared off into space, his eyes fixated on the endless spray of raindrops in midair, unwilling to budge one inch.

At this time, Ming Luchuan offered his hand.

Xia Wennan stared at that hand for a moment before reaching out and grabbing it, allowing Ming Luchuan to pull him up.

“Plan on staying in there?” Ming Luchuan asked.

Xia Wennan nodded.

Ming Luchuan thus stripped down and got into the bathtub, sitting behind Xia Wennan and hugging him to his chest.

Ming Luchuan’s motions rocked the water in the bathtub, which gently lapped Xia Wennan’s skin.

Xia Wennan listlessly leaned into Ming Luchuan’s embrace, content and a tiny bit sleepy.
All of a sudden, a quiet laugh escaped his lips.

“What are you laughing about?” asked Ming Luchuan.

“The instant you got in, it was like someone scattered flower petals in the bath,” Xia Wennan said.
“Now the water smells like you.”

After a brief silence, Ming Luchuan tightened his arms around Xia Wennan and said, “Really?”

“Yeah,” said Xia Wennan.
He shook his leg so that the bathwater rippled and continued to lap against his skin.

“Will you be going to the company today?” he asked Ming Luchuan.

“Mm,” Ming Luchuan said.

“Then won’t we be late?”

“It’s okay.
You don’t have to worry about being even half a day late when you bring good news.”

After rattling off this sentence, Ming Luchuan didn’t speak up again for a long time.
When Xia Wennan looked over his shoulder, he saw that the man was leaning back against the tub, his head tilted upwards and eyes closed.

“Will we be preparing for Xishui Hall’s market launch?”

Ming Luchuan’s eyes remained shut as he slowly explained, “Ming Yan has waited a long time for you.
Our fall products didn’t do that well in the market, and performance has continuously dropped over several quarters.
It would be ideal if we could release a brand-new pheromone perfume over Christmas and New Years.”

“Oh,” said Xia Wennan.

Ming Luchuan lowered his head and nosed at Xia Wennan’s nape.
“I’ll have Xu Feng notify the managers to prepare for a morning meeting.” After that, he really couldn’t help himself, sticking out his tongue and licking the skin of Xia Wennan’s nape.
Only afterwards did he move away, gaze dark.

Ticklish, Xia Wennan reached out to scratch his nape until his fair skin reddened, sighing deeply.

After showering, he returned to his room and changed into a suit.
He stood in front of the mirror, meticulously tying his tie, then brushing his hair back with a comb to reveal a smooth, full forehead.

He straightened his back, standing tall and formidable.
Today, he was an especially handsome beta, his aura and self-confidence palpable.

Ming Luchuan was in the middle of buttoning his cuffs as Xia Wennan walked into the living room, but he immediately paused at the sight of Xia Wennan.

“Do I look good today?” Xia Wennan asked.

Ming Luchuan didn’t answer him and lowered his head to continue buttoning his cuffs.
After a while, he let out a deep and low hum, “Mm.”

Xia Wennan walked up to Ming Luchuan and patted the man’s chest.
Ming Luchuan glanced down at his hand, and a moment later, Xia Wennan pulled Ming Luchuan’s tie.

“What are you doing?” asked Ming Luchuan.

Xia Wennan took a deep breath.
“Let’s talk… Can we push back Xishui Hall’s launch date?”

Ming Luchuan took hold of Xia Wennan’s hand, which was yanking on his tie.
“Why?”

Xia Wennan looked up at him.
“In addition to Xishui Hall, I originally had a beta perfume in mind for this line.
They should hit the market together.”

“A beta perfume?” Ming Luchuan didn’t release his grip on Xia Wennan’s hand.
“Have you come up with something?”

Xia Wennan hesitated for a beat before saying, “Not yet.”

Ming Luchuan asked anew, “How much time do you think you’ll need?”

Xia Wennan laughed dryly.
“I’m not sure.”

Ming Luchuan let go of his hand and walked to the door.
“Let’s head over to the company first.”

*

The morning meeting was cancelled.

Sensing that every single one of his lab colleagues were in high spirits all day long, Xia Wennan didn’t have the heart to rain on their parade by saying that they shouldn’t celebrate so soon and get back to work, and that they’d celebrate together when the time comes.
As a result, all he could say was, “After work, I’ll treat you all to dinner.
Thank you for your hard work, everyone, let’s all have a good meal.”

Everyone cheered.

That afternoon however, Xia Wennan received an unexpected phone call from Ming Qin.

“Wennan, come home for dinner tonight with the eldest,” Ming Qin said, in his customary relaxed and cheery tone.

Xia Wennan raised his head and cast a glance at his colleagues.
His mind automatically leapt to decline the invitation, but in the end, the words that left his mouth deviated, “I’ll go find Ming Luchuan in a bit.”

Ming Qin laughed and said, “Come back a little early, okay? I’ll have Aunt Zhang make your favourite dishes.”

After hanging up, Xia Wennan stared at his phone screen until it dimmed.
He sat in his office chair, swivelling from side to side, immersed in his thoughts—as far as he remembered, this was the first time Ming Qin had personally called him to tell him to come home for dinner.
Prior to this, he had only communicated with Ming Luchuan.

Xia Wennan couldn’t quite figure it out, but his gut told him that it had something to do with work.

He slipped his phone back into his pocket, stood up, and clapped his hands to draw everyone’s attention, saying, “We’ll have to take a rain check on that meal.”

After work that afternoon, Ming Luchuan drove Xia Wennan to the Ming house for dinner.

Xia Wennan was sitting in the front passenger seat, body tilted to the side as he gazed out the window.
Then, he turned to look at Ming Luchuan for a few moments before letting out a lengthy exhale.

“What is it?” Ming Luchuan enquired.

Xia Wennan, who had actually been waiting for Ming Luchuan to speak first, said, “Why do you think your dad suddenly called us back for dinner?” After the words left his mouth, Xia Wennan realised that he’d made a mistake—Ming Qin wasn’t Ming Luchuan’s dad.
He couldn’t help but peer at Ming Luchuan’s expression with caution.

Ming Luchuan, however, was stone-faced.
“It should be about the new perfume,” he said as he drove, gaze fixed at the road ahead.

“You told him?” asked Xia Wennan.

Ming Luchuan shook his head.

“Then how did he find out so quickly?”

“It’s his company, what doesn’t he know?” When Ming Luchuan uttered this set of words, his tone couldn’t be calmer.

Xia Wennan briefly gazed at Ming Luchuan, then asked in a small voice, “How did you… find out about your relationship with him?”

Ming Luchuan spoke nothing, merely shooting him the briefest of glances as he drove.

Fearful of upsetting Ming Luchuan, he hastily said, “It’s fine if you don’t tell me.”

“I accidentally came across a picture of him and my dad,” said Ming Luchuan.

“So you saw that photo and got suspicious?”

“He never mentioned having a twin brother to me.
Plus,” Ming Luchuan paused briefly before continuing, “I can feel it.
He doesn’t love me.”

Xia Wennan felt a twang in his heart as he thought back to what Ming Luchuan had told him about his childhood.
“Then what about Ming Sichen and Ming Siyan?” he asked.

Ming Luchuan smiled, but it was a perfunctory upturn of his lips and lacked a modicum of warmth.
“They’re his biological sons,” he said.
“I can tell.”

“I… I’ve never noticed.” In all the memories he could recall, he had never sensed any difference between Ming Qin’s treatment of Ming Luchuan and his two other sons.

Ming Luchuan said, “Things are different now.”

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