Mr. Stenis and his wife stood at the door to welcome guests. They were apparently the hosts of this banquet. Anyone who was able to live in Don Manca Hills was obviously not an ordinary person. Seeing the respectful and humble attitude of Tommy Lee, who was always proud, Luo Ding did not rush out to introduce himself but rather simply nodded his head in greeting in order to avoid making mistakes.
At first, Mr. and Mrs. Stenis did not notice him at all until Duan Xiubo drew their attention by walking slowly towards Luo ding and stopping beside him while greeting them.
The tall man released his wife’s hand and leaned in to give Duan Xiubo a big hug: “Good child, have you gotten used to living alone in China?”
“That’s my homeland.” Duan Xiubo hugged him in turn and patted his back as soon as he touched him. He then immediately put his arm around Luo Ding’s shoulder and said, “I have friends around and I’ve been busy filming. It’s not bad. “
Mrs. Stenis, who had somewhat of a mean-looking expression on her face, was moved: “Oh … good child. This is?” She turned to look at Luo Ding.
Tommy Lee didn’t seem to understand why Duan Xiubo and the Stenises were so familiar with one another, but he quickly responded when he heard the question: “His name is Luo Ding. He is also my friend, and like me, he is an actor.”
“… Oh …” Mrs. Stenis smiled, with an inquiring look in her eyes.
Duan Xiubo went on to say: “He’s also a good brother of mine.”
“You are welcome.” Her smile immediately became enthusiastic, and the look in her eyes disappeared. “Please come in, I wish you a pleasant evening.”
Luo Ding also smiled and released a little bit of his charm. Combined with his handsome appearance, it caused Mrs. Stenis to feel faintly giddy: “I will. Thank you.”
Mrs. Stenis turned and watched Luo Ding leave. She stared at his back for a long time.
When the host saw his wife distracted, he nudged her shoulder slightly: “What’s wrong?”
“Just now, that young man was very handsome.” Her mean-looking features were softened by her smile of appreciation. “I thought he was Tommy’s boyfriend.”
“He doesn’t dare.” Stenis’s expression was a bit careless when he mentioned Tommy Lee. “He’s just an unruly kid. On the contrary, Ike, he has the courage to confront his father. He said he would leave and indeed rumor has it that he has not been back to Switzerland in five years and completely independent from his relationship with his father he now has a successful career.”
“Tommy is not that bad, either.”
“Of course, Tommy is much more mature than the kids in our family.” After finishing his remarks, Stenis saw that his wife’s expression was a little upset and he hurriedly changed the subject.
There were many people in the villa, and maids dressed in black and white skirts came to guide Luo Ding and his party. Duan Xiubo always kept his head high and walked at the foremost position, his pace steady and calm. Every now and then someone would recognize him. Most only knew his identity as a movie star and were naturally puzzled about why he appeared at the venue. However, after seeing that the most important big-name figures at the event had all gone to say hello to Duan Xiubo, no matter how many doubts they had they did not display it.
“Oh, Ike, you have grown so tall?” This was Lao Xia Rui, a famous venture capitalist who was holding on to an old-fashioned pipe. While hugging Duan Xiubo he was still reprimanding his entourage.
“Ike, you are here!” This was Susan, the wife of Jack, a notorious attorney.
Together with Luo Ding, Tommy Lee had slowly gone from walking side by side with Duan Xiubo to being one step behind. He was indignant: “They are ignoring me!”
Although Tommy Lee’s father was in business and had a wealth of capital, from the perspective of these upper-class people, it was not enough for them to treat him with care. In addition, there were several brothers in the Lee family. Tommy Lee’s temperament was fair to middling and because he had no sense of existence in his family he had later gone into the film industry. Thus, most successful adults completely treated him like a child with whom they did not have to communicate attentively.
Luo Ding did not know how to comfort him, because even he was surprised by Duan Xiubo’s popularity. Before understanding matters clearly, Luo Ding could only keep his mouth shut. However, the purpose of Duan Xiubo’s attendance at the banquet today was to keep him from also being ignored.
“This is a good brother of mine.” In response to everyone who asked about Luo Ding’s origin, Duan Xiubo embraced Luo Ding’s shoulders very magnanimously and answered in this manner.
The old gentlemen were very surprised. Although their attitude did not change as drastically as the Stenis couple, they paid more attention to Luo Ding than before. After gaining their attention and with their stand-offish attitude broken, Luo Ding, who was good at communication, naturally had his own way to impress these people.
Lao Xia Rui held a glass of wine and walked towards the corner while holding on to Duan Xiubo. It seemed that he wanted to say something to Duan Xiubo in private, so Luo Ding took the initiative to give way before the other party could open his mouth. “Duan ge, Tommy Lee and I will head out to the yard to get some air.”
Duan Xiubo grabbed his arm, gazed deeply at him for a while, looked at Xia Rui, then said: “Pay attention to your safety, I’ll come to meet you in a while. Don’t just go upstairs with anyone.”
“Upstairs?” After Duan Xiubo left, Luo Ding looked up and around. Probably due to the preferences of Europeans and Americans, the lobby area had very high ceilings. Beginning from the second floor, the rooms wrapped around the entire house according to its shape and there was a corridor in front of the room doors, giving you a clear view.
“What does he mean?”
Tommy Lee finally looked relaxed after Duan Xiubo left, the smile on his face became a bit more real. He pulled Luo Ding towards the backyard: “Did you forget the name of this party?”
“What?” Luo Ding recalled the name and in sudden surprise said, “Supermodel?”
The maid opened the door for the guests who had approached it.
The swimming pool in the backyard was shimmering. The lights were dim and reflected against the ripples of the pool and from the terrace the scent of perfume was strong.
All of them were tall and enchanting beauties. Their hair was carefully groomed and each was thin and fit. Most had white glistening skin. A few had wheat colored skin and others pure black. Their exquisite three-dimensional features and appropriate makeup made them look like a painting in the night.
Luo Ding’s identification of foreigners was not so precise but after looking at them for a while, he found that the few he recognized were supermodels who had walked in the top international shows.
“…” Luo Ding turned to stare at Tommy Lee, “are they …?”
“If you want to be their lover let me know, either way they are cannibals so don’t stray too far away from me.” Tommy Lee whispered these vague words to him, and then the smile on his face became a bit more forced after seeing several people coming towards them.
A man taller than Tommy Lee approached slowly.
This person’s facial features were a little more westernized than Tommy Lee, he had probably inherited more than a quarter of the western heritage and thus was more authentic. He was very handsome: “Little Tommy, everyone has missed you. Who is this …?”
“My name is Luo Ding.” Luo Ding saw that Tommy Lee did not want to talk to the other person, so he took the initiative to introduce himself.
No occupation, no background, no detailed personal data, his self-introduction was like one from an equal class.
The other raised his brow slightly, and his eyes, full of scrutiny lingered on Luo Ding’s body, and then fixed itself on Luo Ding’s face.
“Oh …” He laughed and moved the wine glass closer to his mouth. His gaze was ambiguous as he said at the same time. “Hello.”
On the contrary, or a moment, the man’s strange attitude made Luo Ding unsure about how to deal with him. At this time, Tommy Lee who had just found his own target pushed Luo Ding to say goodbye and quickly took him away.
As he walked hurriedly, he pulled on Luo Ding’s wrist and introduced angrily: “He is Dante Lee, the most annoying guy.”
Hearing the name, Luo Ding understood that he and Tommy Lee were brothers, but the atmosphere between the two was worse than that of strangers in the hall.
At the other side.
Lao Xia Rui praised Luo Ding from the bottom of his heart: “Your brother is really funny and is one of the most charming young men I’ve met.” The older he became the fewer the topics he had in common with young people. The generation gap was not a phenomenon unique to china alone, Most young people were not interested in the topics that old people found amusing, yet in the short conversation with Luo Ding just now, Lao Xia Rui had showed all the delight that only appeared a few times throughout the year without any hesitation.
Duan Xiubo took the occasion to respond: “He very talented, but the bad thing is there are not not enough opportunities.”
“I know, I know, there are several big brands under my name. Watches and fashion brands, If possible, I will invite him if I can.” Lao Xia Rui then turned around, “How long have you been out of contact with your father? “
“Not long” Duan Xiubo responded though it had almost been half a year, “What’s wrong?”
Lao Xia Rui immediately realized he was lying and sighed: “He had a wedding in Greece last week and everyone was present. I advised him to not be so ridiculous, but he didn’t listen.” After thinking about it, Xia Rui felt that Duan Xiubo probably did not understand, and added a brief summary, “Your new stepmother used to be a stripper.”
Duan Xiubo’s face twitched slightly and he no longer knew how he should react.
In fact, after so many years, he had become accustomed to this. In the first short-term marriage with his mother that lasted only a few years, Duan Xiubo’s father had never been an affectionate person. Because he had probably put all his sense of responsibility on his career he failed to pay the most basic attention to his wife and children. How many was this? Sixteen or fifteen? Duan Xiubo really couldn’t count. Businesswomen, prostitutes, white-collar workers, widows, tour guides, and even maids from their own home. His father’s peach blossoms were truly too prosperous.
With the exception of those who had some higher education and who could understand the situation, most of these messy women considered Duan Xiubo as an imaginary enemy when they fell in love with his father. They seemed very certain that his father loved them more than his life, and that given time, he will give everything to them or to their progeny. At the start, he had been terrified of the prospect of having to change his opponent every other period, eventually he started to completely ignore these unknown women. Duan Xiubo spent his childhood thinking about how to escape his family. He applied to live in boarding school till he turned sixteen and then worked to find another way to become independent. During this period, his father did not have time to cast his gaze from looking at women’s chests to look at his son.
It wasn’t until he really left home that the old man became visibly panicked. In the past few months, while there may not have been true conversations, there was always a phone call every few weeks. Unfortunately, Duan Xiubo no longer wanted to have too many entanglements with him.
He also faintly understood that his father’s changes were not due to a new emotional awareness, but simply because none of his wives had given him more blood after so many years. Duan Xiubo’s mother had hated this irresponsible man so Yu Shaotian didn’t grow up with his father and had even changed his surname from childhood. He certainly would not associate with this father in the future. Furthermore, his father was already old and would need a child to take care of him in the future.
Duan Xiubo found this kind of clear-cut interest mixed with family ties disgusting.
Lao Xia Rui understood where Duan Xiubo’s indifference to his father came from. In fact, even among their old friends, some also thought Duan Xiubo’s father had done too many ridiculous things. How many women willing to ignore Duan Xiubo’s father’s many failed marriages are fuel-efficient lamps? Yet Duan Xiubo’s father was always biased towards these women for no reason at all. His attitude and neglect towards Duan Xiubo really left Xia Rui, who valued children, very confused.
Lao Xia Rui said, “But this time, I heard a piece of bad news.”
Duan Xiubo felt that nothing could be worse than what had already been said, so his attitude was very calm: “What?”
“Your new stepmother.” Xia Rui frowned, looking disgusted, “It seems she’s pregnant. Believe me, we all laughed at her past behind her back, but at the wedding, she told your father that she is pregnant with his child.”
“…” Duan Xiubo was silent for a long time, before he responded, “Oh.”
“That’s it?” Lao Xia rui glared. “Ike, she has your father’s child. I don’t need to remind you again what this means?”
Duan Xiubo understood what he meant. His ideas had never been accepted by these old people, but he always insisted on it all the same: “I know, I understand what you mean but those are his children, and they have nothing to do with me.”
“You are his biological son!”
“He will have more kids.”
Xia Rui stared at him, and suddenly turned his gaze away tiredly: “I see.” He patted Duan Xiu Bo’s arm and said, “Poor child, you deserve a better life.”
Duan Xiubo often could not understand the way these people thought. He was now wealthy, successful, and handsome, and physically fit. It was reasonable to say he had outperformed most people in this world, yet as long as there was a little regret, it seemed that to these people he was no better than a miserable worm.
He was not that great, but at least he was no longer pathetic. A maid from the Stenis family found him and told him that Mr. Duan had heard of his presence at the party and that he had called but Duan Xiubo did not pick up.
His mood had become extremely bad after this conversation. He needed to find comfort.
Tommy Lee was really not very popular. People in acting circles were afraid of his family background and had no choice but to be modest towards him, but in this circle of people with equal statuses, their preferences were manifested more clearly.
His two elder brothers and his younger brother had all attended this party and were having fun together but had ignored him.
Fortunately, Tommy Lee had his own circle. Seven or eight young people in their twenties, with the same unconstrained gaze and similar temperaments, were sitting together, distinguishing themselves from those orthodox youth cliques.
They fought for alcohol and then secretly shared their possessions with their peers. It was either heroin or the less conspicuous cannabis.
To them marijuana was not cool at all, and the young man who had brought it out was booed for a while.
Luo Ding frowned and found himself out of place with their way of thinking.
However, with his social methods he never let people sense any estrangement. Young people often liked him because had extensive experience and could always offer something they did not know and after noting this obscure knowledge, they could also use it to decorate their façade. Thus, shortly after being seated, Luo Ding was invited to the center.
The friendship between him and these young men came very quickly, yet no one held any hesitation about his presence. They proudly took out their contraband goods to show him and offered him some: “Try it, you don’t know how good this is.”
Luo Ding stared at the pool of white powder, and frowned deeply, and shook his head resolutely.
Because of his refusal, the atmosphere became much colder.
Everyone exchanged looks and squeezed out strange expressions “An elite. A good boy, unlike us …”
“Don’t do this.” Luo Ding saw that they were sensitive and didn’t want to offend people, but still tried to persuade them to the best of his ability, “These things can’t be quit easily after they are touched, and they affect the body, except for the short-term happiness it brings what else is good about it? “
Tommy Lee took the tin foil bag that was handed to him by the people next to him, and did not agree with Luo Ding’s words at all: “What we want is that short-lived happiness we don’t need it to strengthen our bodies.”
“Tommy.” Luo Ding took Tommy Lee’s hand and tried to dissuade him with his eyes.
Tommy Lee frowned impatiently: “I have quit three times! Everyone has been saying the same thing as you. I would have quit long ago if I could! Do you want it or not?”
“No, I’ll just smoke.” In the past, he was had a passing acquaintance with Tommy Lee. Now that he knew more, Luo Ding suddenly realized that he and the Tommy were not the same kind of people.
Different ways of life do not work together. He will reduce communication with him in future.
“There’s no smoking here.” The young man who shared his heroin with him obviously despised him for having such a “timid” manner and fell onto the sofa with a smirk.
Luo Ding did not give in. He had seen too many entertainers who were destroyed by drugs. Even if he was threatened with a knife to his neck, he will not allow himself to touch this harmful thing.
Everyone looked at each other and including Tommy Lee, their expressions had become a bit unsightly.
The young man sitting at the outer edge probably couldn’t stand the stilted atmosphere, and stood up for a moment: “Ok, don’t do this, everyone calm down. Luo, don’t mind it, we are not always so neurotic, it’s just because ……”
“I understand, I understand.” These young people were probably in the same situation as Tommy Lee. From an early age, they had been neglected and made to feel they were not good enough. They had become increasingly decadent in the face of questioning voices and eyes. They were particularly sensitive to objections and felt frustrated at every turn.
There was no doubt that Luo Ding’s rejection of the heroin had made them feel looked down upon. Because they thought it was cool, it meant that Luo Ding was too old-fashioned.
“I’ll get you a cigarette.” The young man saw that there was nothing wrong with the expression on Luo Ding’s face. Feeling relieved he strode towards the house.
This corner was quiet enough, very few people passed by, there would be no police here to inspect, and the elders will never show up. Fearless young men had gathered together clumsily, head-to-head, looking for the fluttering feeling of ecstasy under the jump of the tiny flame of a lighter.
Luo Ding was a bit out of sorts. After receiving the cigarette that the young man handed him, he felt that he couldn’t sit down anymore so he took it out to get some air.
Some of the enchanting models saw him alone, smiled and asked his name. Luo Ding wandered around with them with ease and in the process received a few perfumed name cards with telephone numbers written on them. Before he could draw closer to the main house, he came across Duan Xiubo who had come out to find him.
Although Duan Xiubo was smiling, Luo Ding discovered immediately that he did not appear as happy as he was when they had first entered the venue.
“What happened to you?”
Duan Xiubo grabbed his arm, led him to a secluded corner and said with a low voice: “Come with me.”
After walking around the fountain, there was a small woodland area in the villa. The two pushed aside the dense thicket only to hear the mixed sound of men and women moaning in the bushes. They looked at each other helplessly and went deeper into the woods.
Duan Xiubo said as he walked, “My father got married again.”
“Your father?” They spoke Chinese. And the formal and affection-less manner in which Duan Xiubo said his father’s official name made Luo Ding vaguely sense that something was wrong. “Are you unhappy?”
“He has remarried too many times, so I thought I wouldn’t care.” Duan Xiubo stopped and leaned against a large tree. He stood tall and looked up at the stars in the sky through the dense brush. The familiar breath and smell beside him suddenly gave him the impulse to talk.
“Do you know how many times this is? I can’t count it, but it’s at least fifteen times. He has been married at least fifteen times!.”
“…” Luo Ding didn’t know how to respond so he inferred from the statement, “Your father is not Chinese?”
“He’s Chinese, but he didn’t grow up in China.” Duan Xiubo took hold of Luo Ding’s shoulders and pulled him closer. The two sat down next to each other. “I was born in Switzerland and came with a nanny to the United States at age seven to study. We only met at Christmas. He doesn’t care much about me. “
Luo Ding patted his back: “You’re still much better off than I was.”
Duan Xiubo sighed: “That’s why I admire you so much. At such a young age you have been fighting in the entertainment industry by yourself. The first movie I debuted in was produced by that old fierce looking uncle Xia Rui to help me. Until today I am very grateful to them. Compared to my own father those old uncles care for me.”
“I thought I was accustomed to him marrying. Every year when I returned to Switzerland at Christmas, the women around him were always different. He broke up with some while they were still dating. He married others but divorced quickly. Some of these women tried to get me to call them mother but I never agreed. A few would secretly retaliate against me for my disrespect by beating me or some other act. I told my father, but he never took it seriously. Once he questioned them in person, they would flirt with him and he will throw me to the back of his mind.” Duan Xiubo put his head against Luo Ding’s shoulder, and complained in a whiny voice, obviously still aggrieved, “I knew from then on that he was unreliable.”
Luo Ding patted him, this poor child. In his childhood, he had seen so many faces both in front of him and behind his back and his fragile heart must have been hit hard.
There was only the rustle of insects in the woods, It was quiet and peaceful
At long last Duan Xiubo had complained enough. He finally recovered his spirit, pulled Luo Ding up and smiled a bit in embarrassment: “Sorry to have forced you to listen to this rubbish.”
After getting familiar with him, Luo Ding found that Duan Xiubo was different than he had imagined. His calm was like a natural mask and just like Luo Ding he could take it out whenever he needed it. However, privately, he still had small similarities to people his age. He could be vulnerable, proud, and angry. When he was unhappy, the closer people were to him, the more easily he would show his anger.
They were so similar. Luo Ding felt that he was looking at another self.
Luo Ding, who had never felt the love and care of his parents in his long memory, suddenly felt like he was happier than Duan Xiubo. He patted Duan Xiubo’s arm and comforted him softly: “This is not rubbish. I like to listen to this.”
Under the starlight, the young man’s eyes were large and filled with energy. He stared back at Duan Xiubo seriously and with pity, but also softly and incredibly.
This was pure. Duan Xiubo’s heart was hit. After a moment, his heartbeat changed from gentle to rapid, and it rang like a drum.
The long stare made the atmosphere gradually change. Duan Xiubo’s throat was dry, and he slowly reached out and touched Luo Ding’s face. His long fingers slid across the corner of the other’s eye: “You …”
Inexplicably Luo Ding started to feel nervous, after the other party’s fingertips slid over his skin, the traces it left felt crisp and rough and itchy. It was so enjoyable that he almost closed his eyes, but the next second he suddenly reacted and quickly resisted as Duan Xiu Bo lowered his shoulders.
Duan Xiubo’s forehead was against his, their noses touched, their gazes entangled.
“Do you have a cigarette?” He said. He desperately needed a channel to vent his mood.
Luo Ding pushed him away, stood still, took out the cigarette case from his pocket a few seconds later and handed it over: “I don’t have a lighter.”
“I do.” Taking advantage of the darkness, Duan Xiubo opened the brand new box, took out a cigarette and held it in his mouth. With a snap of the lighter, Luo Ding’s, profound facial features were reflected in the leaping the flames.
Obviously Duan Xiubo was extremely depressed, he took a deep breath like he was venting through the smoke that had not dispersed.
The cigarette made a slight hissing sound.
The next second, Duan Xiubo’s eyes widened slightly, and he coughed violently, holding the lighted cigarette between his fingers he breathed in and out while arching his waist.
Luo Ding was startled, and his recent embarrassment was wiped out. He hurried up to help him: “What happened to you!?”
Duan Xiubo breathed hard from his chest. After a long time, he suddenly trembled. His expression was strangely surprised: “What is this?”
“A cigarette!” Luo Ding took the lighted cigarette from his hand, and asked anxiously: “Are you all right?”
“I smoked too fast.” Duan Xiubo leaned on his shoulder, slowly recovered his appearance as he stood against the big tree. He closed his eyes calmly, “This cigarette is so unusual.”
Luo Ding blinked, completely baffled, looking at the cigarette case, was this not just an ordinary high-end cigarette?
With a thought to unravel the problem, he drew close to Duan Xiubo and smoked the remaining half of the cigarette slowly.
The taste of nicotine was mixed with an indescribable smell that moved towards the brain at an unprecedented speed. As a result, his heart seemed to draw itself into a ball and his nerves unraveled.
Luo Ding felt the same feeling as Duan Xiubo. It was as if he couldn’t breathe even after pressing on his chest. The strength had left his limbs and legs were soft. He leaned against the tree next to Duan Xiubo and tried to resist the aggression that arose in his spirit.
His tight nerves relaxed without warning.
It seemed like in an instant, all the constrictions had receded.
Like the ebbing tide on the coast, it felt like sudden emptiness was approaching and halfway someone held his hand and stepped into the clouds.
The view was resplendent with various colors. His eyes were closed but in his mind there were windmills, Ferris wheels, bursting fireworks, bright galaxies, mountains and rivers, pouring rain, and the rainbow after rain …
It was wonderful, weird, impossible to resist.
Luo Ding shook his fingertips and threw the cigarette on the ground, stamping it out.
“Fuck.” He yelled in a hateful voice, “I’ve been played by those kids.”
Suddenly there was a darkness before him, Duan Xiubo lowered his head, opened his arms and locked him between his chest and the tree trunk in an almost domineering manner.
Luo Ding still held onto his reason, but his mind was erratic. Illusion and reality were intermingled, making it almost impossible for him to even tell what year it was.
“Duan ge …” It was clearly his own voice, but it seemed to be separated by a curtain of water, as if it came from the sky. He didn’t know what to say next. He had forgotten …
He stared at Duan Xiubo, and Duan Xiubo also stared at him.
His head was getting closer and closer.
“Duan ge …” he whispered, and his free arm climbed up to Duan Xiubo’s shoulder, it was unclear whether he meant to push him away or draw him closer.
His strong reaction to the cannabis invaded his organs: shame, morality, social integrity, like the foam of the sea in the early sunrise burst and disappeared.
Duan Xiubo drew closer, the distance between their arms shortened. His head finally moved towards Luo Ding’s ear.
“Duan ge …” This gentle cry hit deep into his soul. He touched the tip of Luo Ding’s nose, felt his breath, and then went further.
“I am here……”
Afterwards, their lips stuck together in the most appropriate gesture.
Their breaths became hot, and both sides closed their eyes in harmony.
Including Luo Ding, the rapid disappearance of self-control, made them abandon the struggle between reason and instinct.
Almost as soon as their lips touched, two flexible tongues were inextricably entangled, like a snake coming out of its hole.
Whew this chapter! Sips water. The heavy backstory of both Duan Xiubo and Tommy and then the last bit … clears throat.
 The term used here is hǎo háizi, you often hear it said between and older person and a younger person, I translated it as good child or good boy but I can’t help thinking the endearment looks awkward in English. We don’t often see Hello auntie –> Good child, normally (if at all) it will be Hello Aunty —-> Baby (if they are on those terms), Hello Baby, Hello son, or simply the name of the child larry, ike whatever lol. Yes I’m obsessing over a minor point 😀
 Lao – is an appellation meaning Old Xia Rui