Upon registering Lu Huaiye’s words, Xia Wennan blurted out: “Then you weren’t clear on the specifics of Ming Sichen’s car accident in Southeast Asia?”

Lu Huaiye shook his head.

Xia Wennan suddenly felt a little deflated.

Lu Huaiye stuffed his hands into his trouser pockets, his tall figure silent and unmoving for a period of time.
He levelled a gaze at Xia Wennan.
“There are a few things I haven’t mentioned.”

Xia Wennan looked at him inquisitively.

“The brothers and I had known each other long before Sichen’s accident,” said Lu Huaiye.
“Sichen confessed his feelings to me, but I turned him down.”

This was something Xia Wennan hadn’t anticipated, and the surprise showed on his face.
“Because he’s a beta?” Xia Wennan reflexively asked.

Yet Lu Huaiye shook his head.
“It has nothing to do with gender.
At the time, I liked Siyan more.”

“So you’ve known Ming Siyan and Ming Sichen from the start, and Ming Sichen liked you, but you liked Ming Siyan more?”

Lu Huaiye gave a single nod.
“It’s just, back then, I hadn’t confessed to Siyan yet.”

“So, after Sichen and Siyan came home from their trip after Sichen got into that accident, you made it official with Siyan?”

Lu Huaiye walked up to the window, an outstretched hand pressing on the window frame.
As he gazed outside, he said, “Siyan said that Sichen was in a bad mood, so he took him on a trip to Southeast Asia to cheer him up.
Before they left, I told Siyan that I had something to tell him when he returned, but before they could, I learned that Sichen had been in an accident.
They had to stay in Southeast Asia for a long time and only returned when Sichen was well enough to fly.”

Xia Wennan listened to him mutely.
He had a few questions, but he was in no rush to ask them, not quite willing to interrupt Lu Huaiye’s recollection.

“When they’d just gotten back, seeing how severely injured Sichen was made me feel awful, so I kept my mouth shut and didn’t tell Siyan everything I wanted to say to him,” Lu Huaiye continued.
“But about a month later, Siyan took the initiative to tell me that he liked me, and that’s when we started dating.”

Xia Wennan cut in, “Since you liked Ming Siyan so much, how did you guys end up like this?”

Lu Huaiye fell silent for a moment before saying, “We’ve been together for such a long time… and I’ve only just realised that we aren’t a good match.
Maybe I was never really sure if I truly liked him from the beginning.”

“Then who do you like? Sichen?” Xia Wennan probed.

Lu Huaiye didn’t give an immediate answer.
His grip on the window frame tightened involuntarily, and not long after, he slightly ducked his head, saying, “I’m not—Sichen and I aren’t in that kind of relationship.”

The second he finished speaking, Xia Wennan’s phone rang.
It was Ming Luchuan, asking him where he was.

“I’ll be back in a sec,” Xia Wennan told Ming Luchuan.

After hanging up, he looked up and asked Lu Huaiye, “You’re seriously not going to go see Sichen?”

“Maybe another time,” said Lu Huaiye.
“I’ll have my chance.”

When Xia Wennan returned to Ming Sichen’s room after Lu Huaiye’s departure, Aunt Zhang had arrived, so Ming Luchuan got up and left with Xia Wennan in tow.

On the drive back to the Ming house, Xia Wennan told Ming Luchuan about his encounter with Lu Huaiye.

“Ming Sichen liked Lu Huaiye, and Lu Huaiye liked Ming Siyan, but now Lu Huaiye doesn’t like Ming Siyan and is really concerned about Ming Sichen instead.”

Ming Luchuan drove soundlessly.

Xia Wennan leaned over.
“How come you’re not saying anything?”

“I’m paying attention,” said Ming Luchuan.

“Do you not have any thoughts about this?”

“No.” Ming Luchuan frowned in thought after uttering this single word, then reiterated, “None.”

Xia Wennan assumed that he, like Xia Wennan, had his own guesses.
They’d always had vague notions in their heads, but there was a layer of fog that made seeing the big picture impossible.

“I want to eat fried dumplings,” Xia Wennan let slip as he looked out the car window at the flashy, flickering signboards.

“Hungry?” Ming Luchuan glanced at him.

Xia Wennan shook his head, then turned to face the front and sat upright.
“I just suddenly thought of my grandpa,” he said.

“You sure have a lot on your mind,” Ming Luchuan retorted coldly.
Even so, at the next intersection, he turned his steering wheel to the right.

Xia Wennan sat in the passenger seat, paying no attention to the road ahead of him; he only knew that Ming Luchuan had taken several turns in a row, and they had wandered around the streets of the bustling city centre before pulling over on the side of the road.
Looking up, Xia Wennan noticed the signboard of the fried dumpling shop from earlier.

“Hm?” Xia Wennan turned to Ming Luchuan with a puzzled expression, but Ming Luchuan had already opened the door and exited the car.

The air outside was chilly.
Though the skies were clearly sunny today, the day became gloomier as the sun set, as if rain and snow were amassing, pressing down on the thick clouds and ready to fall at any moment.

A cold draught poured in as soon as the door was opened; Ming Luchuan quickly shut the door to prevent any heat from escaping.
He’d gotten out of the car without even putting on a coat, wearing only a sweater over his shirt.

Xia Wennan pressed his face against the window like a little kid, following Ming Luchuan’s figure and watching him as he entered the fried dumpling shop, spoke with the cashier, and took out his phone to pay for his order.

The dumplings were still frying on the flat pan, so Ming Luchuan stood and waited inside the shop.
Xia Wennan discovered that, when his face was expressionless, the corners of his lips were actually slightly downturned, giving him an unhappy appearance.

A tall, sullen-faced alpha stood in a small shop, exuding an intensely oppressive aura that made other customers visibly wary.

Ming Luchuan, however, was unaware of this.
He was only interested in purchasing Xia Wennan fried dumplings.
Ming Luchuan emerged from the shop two to three minutes later with a takeout box in a plastic bag, opened the car door, and handed Xia Wennan the piping hot fried dumplings wrapped in heat-resistant packaging

Acting like he wasn’t as touched as he was, Xia Wennan glanced at Ming Luchuan and said, “Want one?”

Ming Luchuan didn’t answer.
“Put your seatbelt on,” he said after adjusting the rear-view mirror.

“Don’t you wanna eat a few of these first?” Xia Wennan offered.
“They’ll go cold in a while.” If Ming Luchuan started the car right now, they wouldn’t have time to eat before they got home.

Without hesitation, Ming Luchuan started the car and eased it onto the road.
After rejoining the flow of traffic, he said, “A car is following us.”

“Huh?” Xia Wennan paused in the midst of opening the takeout box.
When he looked at Ming Luchuan, he registered his solemn, deadly serious expression and immediately twisted around to look behind them, trying to find whichever vehicle was following them.

Because the streets were clogged with cars at the moment, Xia Wennan couldn’t tell which car was on their tail.

Ming Luchuan hadn’t noticed it either, at first, but when he turned the car around to buy fried dumplings for Xia Wennan, he coincidentally discovered that a black car had been following them the entire time.

The car had pulled over on the side of the road when Ming Luchuan entered the fried dumplings shop, and by the time Ming Luchuan came out, the car’s headlights had remained lit, indicating that the driver had not left the car.

And when he’d started the engine, the car had also followed them—none of this was a coincidence.

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