For Shen Changan's birthday party, the Shen family delivered separate invitations for Lin Xi and Duan Shen. No one knew that they were already under the same invitation. Shen Sui somewhat mischievously added a line to Duan Shen's invite–please feel welcome to bring the wife along.
When Su Heng drove over to deliver their suits, Lin Xi was still buried in the covers and fast asleep. Although he left with disappointment, he took special care to size up the two suits.
The black one was in Duan Shen's size, while the white one was slightly smaller. Even if you thought with your toes you'd know who it was for.
Recalling all the rumors spreading through the company, Su Heng thought back to Fang Ruolian's body type. It didn't seem so far off from the white suit. Was Duan Shen really a couple with that movie star?
Lin Xi knew nothing about what everyone was guessing at. He was still obsessed with the thought that he and Duan Shen had to arrive separately to avoid rumors and guesswork. When he clambered out of bed and ate his breakfast, he put on the white suit and picked up his own invitation from the cupboard, leaving before Duan Shen.
The party was in the Shen family's main mansion. Lin Xi took a taxi to the Lu household, where he was going to take Lu Lingxing's car to the Shen household. Since he was young he had gone to the Lu family enough times that he knew the route super well, and didn't bother calling Lu Lingxing out to pick him up.
He didn't expect Lu Lingxing to be ready for him already at the entrance of his compound. The corner of his mouth hooked, he pulled open the door and paid the fare for him. Arms crossed, expression cold, Lin Xi watched the whole thing. He waited for the taxi to leave before saying mockingly, "If someone's eager without a cause, it must be something shady."
"I wouldn't dare," Lu Lingxing drawled, "My mom taught me when I was a kid that I need to be kind to my elders."
Lin Xi had no clue what was going on, "Do you have brain damage?"
"Tsk, of course no," Lu Lingxing patted his shoulder with faux politeness, "We're no longer in the same generation, Mrs. Duan."
Hearing this, Lin Xi raised his chin proudly, "Little Lu, please take your hand off my shoulder, or I'm going to tell Mr. Duan."
Snorting, Lu Lingxing reached out and tugged on his red hot ear lobes. "Mrs. Duan, why aren't you taking Mr. Duan's car to the Shen mansion? Why bother with the cars of us younglings?"
His words poked right at Lin Xi's heart, earning him an angry glare and, later in the afternoon, a hefty loss in a later gambling match.
Later when it was almost time for the banquet, Lin Xi took Lu Lingxing's car to the Shen household. Luxury cars littered the parking lot, while powerful, rich guests arrived one by one. Glancing around, Lin Xi didn't see Duan Shen's car.
Young Shen and his made-up young sister stood at the door, greeting guests. Lin Xi and Lu Lingxing entered near the security guards. Throwing his invitation into the hands of the security guard, Lin Xi was just about to walk in when the guard stopped him, "I'm sorry, sir, but you can't enter with an invitation that isn't yours."
"What, is it your invitation–" Grabbing the invitation from him, Lin Xi glanced over it, his voice fading in his throat into a low curse.
He had brought Duan Shen's invitation as his own.
The blockage at the entrance made everyone look back. Shen Sui came over to let them in, chatting them up along the way, "Lin Xi, I went to the Lin family to drop off your invitation and they said you moved out!"
Lin Xi didn't have much contact with Shen Sui. It was only because his brother was on good terms with him that he had to smooth the whole thing over, making up a random excuse before he and Lu Lingxing could walk into the mansion together
Shen Sui wasn't much for socializing with the younger rich kids, so he turned his head back with a smile just as Duan Shen's car pulled in. He went up to greet him, eyes purposefully sweeping across the car, "Hey there, Shen. Where's the wife? Not coming?"
Duan Shen's expression was indifferent as always, "He's here. He came by himself."
Shen Sui was surprised. "He has an invitation?"
Duan Shen glanced at him. "You wrote it yourself."
"I wrote it myself?" Rubbing his chin, Shen Sui lost himself in thought. For all the guests they were inviting, most of the invitations were written by the butlers. Only a few were handwritten by him.
He eliminated candidate after candidate in his head. It was right after he had eliminated Lin Xi that he heard a crowd gathering behind him. The famous star from the Fang family had arrived as well. Shen Changan and a few other girls were standing around him, asking for autographs.
Shen Sui's eyes glanced across Fang Ruolian's black suit, finally landing on Duan Shen's black suit. He recalled the hot rumors about the two spreading in his social circle, and that the Fang family's invitation was one of the ones he had written himself.
Thinking this, he squinted, "Shen, aren't you wearing a couples' outfit with Fang Ruolian?"
"It's not him," Duan Shen didn't even glance at Fang Ruolian. He and Su Heng walked inside. The latter only needed a single look at Fang Ruolian's suit to confirm that it wasn't him.
Shen Sui seemed like he didn't believe it. Seeing Duan Shen leave, Fang Ruolian immediately made the girls leave and walked right after Duan Shen, his expression sharp.
The wide, bright hall had a stage and banquet set up already. The Shen family had invited Shen Changan's favorite star over to perform. Lu Xijia and Tang sat in the middle and waved. Lu Lingxing joined them, while Lin Xi turned around to look for a bathroom.
When he came back, Lu Lingxing pointed at one of the seats ahead, "Mrs. Duan, your man's here."
The seat where Lin Xi was sitting in was being blocked by others. Raising his head, he could only glimpse Duan Shen's shoulder. Turning his eye, he glanced at Fang Ruolian, who was sitting across from him, "Is he here to perform as well?"
"Who would dare?" Lu Lingxing looked down, "He's the Fang family's son. Why are you wearing white while Shen is wearing black? You should try to be like Fang Ruolian. Everyone in this hall thinks your man is wearing a couples' outfit with him."
Taking a look at him, Lin Xi frowned in displeasure, "Fuck, he must've done it on purpose."
Lu Lingxing kept adding to the situation, "But really, that little beauty from the Fang family looks so much better than your plain face with his hair and his makeup done."
"Is this a fucking pageant? Why would a man need makeup?" Snorting, Lin Xi seemed not to care, even as he stood up and walked towards the balcony out back.
Lu Lingxing smacked his lips together, muttering to himself, "Who'd he learn the attitude from?"
In the corner, Lin Xi grabbed one of the servants to give a message to Fang Ruolian. But he didn't need to wait long, as Fang stood up shortly and started walking towards the balcony. Seeing the unfamiliar figure in front of the pool, Fang Ruolian walked up with a cold face.
Lin Xi turned around lazily and mocked the other mercilessly, "Fang Ruolian, Duan Shen's already married. What are you doing, trying to cozy up to him?"
Fang Ruolian glared at him, "Who are you?"
Lin Xi snorted. "Who do you think I am?"
In the dim light, Fang Ruolian looked over him, his expression changing to reflect even more disregard, "Well, well. If it isn't little Dog Balls."
Lin Xi's face dropped as childhood memories came flooding back, "You're fucking Dog Balls, you little sissy."
Fang Ruolian's expression darkened as well, seeming infuriated by a title he had long forgotten, "Call me that again, Dog Balls?"
Lin Xi shrugged, "That's exactly what I'll call you. No matter how much you spread rumors, the one marrying Duan Shen isn't you, little sissy. Just give up."
Fang Ruolian gnashed his teeth together, "What, as if you've got a shot? Like it could be you?"
Raising his chin, Lin Xi gloated over him, "And why couldn't it be me?"
Taking a deep breath, Fang Ruolian's cold, elegant expressions all disappeared from his face. As if he were a kid again, he rolled up his sleeves and charged at Lin Xi. Lin Xi dodged to the side and extended a foot to trip him.
When it came to fights, Fang Ruolian had never won against him. Even after years he didn't seem to have improved much. Before he could even smile, Fang Ruolian grabbed his sleeve as he was falling into the pool–
Two seconds later, a huge splash attracted the attention of all the guests.
A servant hurriedly rushed over from the balcony and whispered something into Shen Sui's ears. He called for the butler to bring two clean towels over. Just as he was about to go over himself, he remembered to walk back to Duan Shen and say with a teasing tone, "Don't look for him anymore. Fang Ruolian and Lin Xi fell into the pool on the balcony."
Looking back, Duan Shen turned to walk towards the balcony. Although he looked calm as ever, his stride was broader than usual.
Shen Sui hadn't tried to speak quietly, and his pronunciation was so clear that it rang out in the quiet hall. Everyone else heard him and turned to look at Duan Shen, their expressions full of excitement to see if the rumors were true.
Soaking wet, Lin Xi stood up in the pool, wiping the water from his face. He was about to curse out loud when he glanced out of the corner of his eye the elegant guests rushing from the door. Ahead of all of them, walking towards the pool, was his man.
Lin Xi immediately shut his mouth and glared at Fang Ruolian. The latter hadn't expected that falling into the pool would attract so much attention, and was busy wiping his face off, no longer caring what Lin Xi was doing.
Duan Shen stopped next to the pool and stared at both of them. Everyone else seemed to think that this was probably a domestic dispute, and that none of them should say anything.
With so many people watching, Lin Xi didn't expect the man to come down and pull him up. He propelled himself to the edge of the pool and flipped over it on his arms. Turning his head, he was just in time to see Fang Ruolian take the mini staircase instead, and he rolled his eyes.
The butler came up and passed two towels to Shen Sui. He took one and raised his chin to gesture at Duan Shen. The butler passed the other one to Duan Shen, who didn't even look over.
People in the crowd were already whispering. Seeing how cold Duan Shen was to Fang Ruolian, it must be a business marriage.
Still soaking wet, Lin Xi stood on the shore. He hadn't heard any of the gossiping, but he was watching Duan Shen's movements closely and understood that the man was probably angry. He reached out quite naturally for the towel in the butler's hand.
Unexpectedly, Shen Sui walked up and stopped him, raising his hand, and was about to push the towel in his hands onto him, "Xi Xi, if your brother knew that you were here falling into pools, he'd probably yell at me."
Before he could even finish his sentence, the towel in his hand was gone. Looking around confused, Shen Sui saw that Duan Shen, as silent as always, had pulled Lin Xi closer to him by his wrist and taken the towel from the butler. With a few quick movements, he wrapped Lin Xi up from head to toe and took him into his arms.
Everyone watching was stunned. The Fang family beauty stood there, dripping wet and lonesome, in the cold autumn wind. He looked over, shock still obvious in his eyes.
Looking up, Duan Shen fixed his eyes on Shen Sui, "Shen Sui, what did you just call Xi Xi?"
"Missus," Shen Sui immediately jumped back, his eyes unblinking, "I called him Missus."
Hidden in the towel, Lin Xi's face was completely red. He pursed his lips and glared, but in the end, wasn't able to hide his own emotions as his lips curved up in a smile.
A few days later, everyone received a wedding invitation from the Duan family.