The bustling gala hall was filled with celebrities and public figures all decked out in their best suits and dresses.
An Mu was dressed in a moonlight white western suit, holding on to a champagne glass while chatting with a recently-rising actress. The small smile on his face was akin to a fresh spring breeze against the skin. The actress returned An Mu’s smile with her own sweet smile, enjoying his presence immensely.
The actress was just about to use the fork in her hand to pick up another cube of steak from her plate for An Mu to try when she noticed the latter suddenly stiffening up. The smile on his face froze; his expression was one of helplessness.
Curious, the actress turned towards the direction of An Mu’s gaze and found yet another impressive-looking male specimen making his way towards them.
The smart, casual outfit he had on stood out drastically in this place where everyone was decked out in high-end brand name outfits – like three-piece Armani suits and Swarovski crystal-embedded floor-length gowns. It seemed none of these bothered the man at all; with a look of determination and an attitude of not caring for other people’s opinions, Lan Kuang ignored everyone else but An Mu.
Lan Kuang was significantly taller than An Mu; his build stronger and bigger, his presence alone was enough to make others feel small.
The actress knew better and quickly placed her plate of food onto the nearest table, lifted the hem of her dress, and made her escape as quickly as she could.
An Mu retracted his gaze and pushed all the anxiety he felt as deep into his thoughts as he could. Turning around, he began to walk away.
Lan Kuang had finally managed to find him; how could he allow this man to slip away from him so easily? Like an arrow released from a bow, he rushed forward to block off the escape route of An Mu, stopping only after seeing the ice-cold expression on his features.
An Mu wanted to ignore him, as he was afraid that Lan Kuang would see the flaws and differences, therefore his best bet was to turn away and seek an alternative escape route.
Lan Kuang had never known the feeling of defeat before An Mu. He knew he could not go after An Mu head-on and yet, An Mu would never allow him a chance if he was allowed to leave again. With frustrations building inside him, accompanied by the sight of An Mu leaving him again, Lan Kuang reached out quickly to grasp onto his arm, desperately whispering: “An Mu…”
An Mu froze in his tracks, but still refused to turn around to look at him, his voice cold as he asked: “Young Master Lan, what can I do for you?”
“Let us talk a little.” Lan Kuang refused to release his arm, walking about until he was in front of An Mu once again, staring directly into his eyes.
“If you want to discuss business, please contact my secretary,” An Mu said flippantly, trying to distance himself from the other as quickly as he could.
“You know that’s not what I want to talk about!” Lan Kuang said, his brows furrowed with exasperation, “It has been so long since then… Can you please just forget it?”
“I apologize… But what are you talking about? I don’t remember it anymore…” An Mu muttered. “Actually, you are correct. It has happened so long ago, I have long since forgotten all about it. So, if you would please, don’t come near me again!”
With that said, An Mu raised his other hand to push off the offending hand that was tightly holding on to his bicep.
Lan Kuang was not someone who could be brushed off so easily; his other hand came up to grip An Mu’s other wrist: “An Mu! I can repay you for all of it! I do not care how you treat me because of it. I will take it all. I just need you to stop pushing me away!”
“You… Let go!” With both his arms restrained, An Mu was getting a little annoyed.
“An Mu!” Lan Kuang had no intention of letting this man go, he was even thinking about taking him away to somewhere quiet to discuss the problem between them further.
The scuffle between them was starting to attract the attention of the people in the gala hall. Navigating between the throngs of people and getting stopped multiple times by actress A or movie star B, An Chen finally managed to locate An Mu – only to see him getting harassed by the infamous Lan Kuang.
His features darkened as his emotions got the better of him. An Chen felt the anger rising in his voice: “You! Lan family’s boy, remove your filthy hands now!” As he rushed over towards the pair, his knuckles were taut as he raised his fist.
Lan Kuang moved backwards quickly — the fist only just missing his nose, making him release his hold on An Mu. Taking two steps back, Lan Kuang looked at the newcomer with disdain.
An Chen placed himself directly before An Mu, using himself as a shield to block An Mu from Lan Kuang’s sight. His left hand was encircled An Mu, pushing him behind him and holding him there. With a pair of gleaming fiery orbs staring directly at Lan Kuang, he said: “I am warning you—”.
He had barely finished his sentence when An Mu interrupted him: “An Chen, let it go.”
An Chen naturally did not know nor understand the meaning behind An Mu’s words but he was not going to disobey him. Glaring furiously at Lan Kuang, An Chen took hold of An Mu’s hand and pulled him towards the nearest exit, stopping midway to turn around and give another warning glare at Lan Kuang.
Lan Kuang did not want to create a big scene in front of so many people, so he forced himself to calm down as he watched the An brothers leave before letting out a deep breath. He grabbed a bottle of brandy from the nearest waiter and headed towards the observatory.
As An Chen dragged An Mu down to the underground parking garage, he could not stop himself from grumbling: “Elder brother, the contract you had with Ran Feng Ge has long been completed hasn’t it? So why are you still protecting him? Now look what has happened! Lan Kuang, that annoying leech – it’s going to be hard to get rid of him now!”
“What are you trying to imply here? That this is all my fault?” An Mu asked, looking at the array of emotions that were currently morphing across his younger brother’s face. Had it not been for An Chen’s plotting and manipulation that time, along with the ministration of the other brothers, An Mu would never have had to employ Ran Feng Ge as a body double for his own protection.
“Eld-elder brother…” An Chen said as he looked at the unsmiling An Mu, a wave of cold chill running through his body as he finally muttered: “Has elder brother not already forgiven me for that? Why are you bringing this up again?”
“You are thinking too much,” An Mu replied gently, his lips pulling up into a smile.
Thinking back, An Mu recalled the look on An Chen’s face when the bloodied Ran Feng Ge, who had been pretending to be An Mu at the time, stumbled back home after escaping from Chasing Hawk; the shock and fear as he helped to carry his injured “brother”, the tremble in his voice as he cried out “elder brother” by the bed – his voice full of pain and remorse.
Only after An Chen found out that the badly injured person on the bed was not his precious elder brother An Mu, could he release the breath he held stifled in his chest.
However, to prevent Ran Feng Ge from being dragged any further into the mess between Chasing Hawk and the An Family, An Mu had sent him away and after which decided to inflict the same scar Ran Feng Ge had on his own body to prevent Lan Kuang from finding out about the body double. Ran Feng Ge did not need to have Lan Kuang coming after him after everything he had done for An Mu.
After passing out from the pain, he could recall hearing the pained voice of An Chen crying out for him: “Elder brother! What did you do?!”
At that time, An Mu thought that if all it took to get his brother back on his side was a little pain, then it was all worth it.
In actuality, both brothers were brutal in their ways. The only difference was that one was willing to go all out to the point of injuring himself while the other was willing to go all out with no remorse regardless of who was hurt in the process.
Proofreaders: Charlotte Grey, Lyrick