City D*, Fújiàn Province, China
The sun was warm and bright high in the sky. My skin absorbed its rays. The ocean water glistered like a million diamonds. I watched absent-minded the foam formed near the shore. My body was sluggish. A few more minutes, and I would fall into a deep slumber. Anticipating this, I closed my eyes, ready for a dreamless rest. This was the only way I could sleep.
A week ago, when I came to China, I realised I could not sleep at night. I had constant nightmares where I screamed and begged while my bones were breaking. There was a demon with Xavier's face with hellish eyes and scalpel in hand. I woke up in cold sweat and with a shaking body. After this happened for three days in a row, I was afraid of falling asleep. Intentionally, I stayed awake for two whole days before I felt my eyes were unable to stay open anymore. Exhausted, I slept for fourteen hours. My mom was worried about me. She constantly asked how I felt and even offered a psychologist's help. She thought if there was something which I couldn't tell her, maybe I should speak with a specialist.
But how could I share my past? How could I tell somebody that I travelled back in time? This was a direct ticket for the asylum. Besides, I didn't want to talk about it. I tried to forget it. However, everywhere I was, it showed it's ugly head, ready to recall itself. It was bearable during the day, and I could ignore it, but at night it was a living hell. It was so dark and silent. There was nothing that could distract me. Sleep stopped being an option. I read books until my vision was blurry. I knew it wasn't good for my body to deprive it of sleep. I wondered how to solve this problem.
And yesterday the solution was found. I was getting my tan when the sun's warmth and waves' melody drifted me to sleep. Unlike the other three times, I didn't dream of anything. I had a peaceful rest until dusk. So, until the weather became cool, I would sleep on the beach every afternoon.
''You know, it's not a good idea to bask for so long under the sun.'' My eyes snapped open from irritation when I heard the teasing voice of my cousin.
''What do you want?'' I asked, masking my true feelings.
''Father and aunt worry for you.'' He answered with a straight face. ''You don't visit our family dinners and avoid talking with people. Only a week passed, and you look as haggard as we bully you here.'' He pouted, shooting blaming daggers at me. ''What will people say when they see you? Accusations are bound to circulate saying Yan Si disrespect his dear cousin.''
''Stop spouting nonsense!'' I couldn't restrain my indignation. Seriously, I had never seen such a self-centred person. ''No one cares about you. Most likely, they will blame grandfather. After all, he is the notorious tyrant of the Yan family, not you.''
''Well, that's true. No one can say otherwise. But, you drift from the topic. My point is that you look depressed. I stayed away from you for all this time, afraid that you will bite me if I ask what makes you that sad.'' He sat next to me on the sand, looking like some kind of motivational guru. ''Tell me, tang mei*, which idiot had the misfortune of being the centre of your unrequited love?'' My eyes twitched unpleasingly. This brat was seriously getting on my nerves.
''First of all, unless you have a problem with your brain which looks highly possible, I am a year older than you, so you should call me tang jie*.'' He scoffed, making me pinch his cheek hard. This reminded me of our times when we were kids, and he used to annoy me to tears. It was a miracle that our relationship was still the same after thirteen years of separation. ''Secondly, I don't have any problems with my love life.''
''Well, you don't have one, to begin with.''
''True.'' I agreed and changed the topic, not wanting to discuss anymore. ''If you dare stick your nose into my business, let me return the favour. Now, tell me what your fiancée is like?'' Immediately, a gloom cloud almost appeared over his head. He lay on the beach unceremoniously, not giving a damn about his clothes.
''I hate her.'' He spat, and I lifted my eyebrows quizzically.
''But, you didn't see her even once. How do you know what type of person she is?''
''If grandfather chose her, she can't be any good. She surely is some socialite thinking only of her appearance. I doubt she has a working brain in her surgery-made face.''
''Well, I don't know how natural her assets are, but at least her brain capacity is on the same level as yours.'' I smiled at my biting remark, but the next second he threw sand on my face. I choked and coughed violently, to which he burst in a maniacal laugh. After I calmed down, I looked at him murderously.
''Are you courting death?'' I asked in a low, threatening voice. He trembled visually and tried to appease me.
''Xiao Luo, calm down. Nerves are not good for the skin.'' He stepped backwards, afraid as if I will jump on him. Undeniably, he deserved a beating. But he was lucky today. I was too sleepy to mind his antics.
''If you have nothing else to say, leave me alone. I want to enjoy the sun.'' I just closed my eyes when his tall and lean figure loomed over me. I opened one eye angered.
''Actually, there is something else.'' His voice wasn't playful like a moment ago. He was serious now. Not that I cared.
''Could you say whatever you want without hiding the sun, please?''
''I can, but you will fall asleep before I finish. I know you didn't sleep the whole night and want to do it now.''
''Wow, such an observational person you are.'' I murmured ironically. He paid me no heed.
''I have a meeting tonight with a potential business partner. We have to discuss a real-estate project, but there is something fishy about him.''
''Why do you need me? There is nothing I can help with.'' He gave me a knowing half-smile.
''My people tried to dig information about his past. However, they couldn't find anything. Like he didn't exist until eight years ago.'' Hmm, that was quite interesting. A person whose past was erased indeed kept bad secrets. The question which worried Yan Si was would these secrets hurt Yan Corporation.
''I repeat. What exactly do you need me for?'' He looked at me thoughtfully.
''Apart for a few drinks, I want to observe him and to you use your hacker skills to check on him.''
''Yan Si, I told you before I don't want to be a hacker. I don't want incidentally to find myself in trouble because I know things I shouldn't.'' There was a time when I was fifteen years old. It was five years since I moved from China to Scotland. Yan Si and I were still close and had taken an interest in surfing on the dark web. That was the place I learned my hacker skills.
One day he told me to hack a person named Qi Jou. I didn't know why I had to do it, but I accepted. Yan Si wanted information from Qi Jou's personal laptop. What I found there were his illegal activities as a human trafficker. He sold underage girl from little children to seventeen years old. I was disgusted, shocked and scared. I sent the information to Yan Si, and later, he told me Qi Jou was put in jail. But, very soon, I received a threat. Someone followed a trace I left before sending the files on his laptop. I was afraid I would be assassinated. Thankfully, I only spent two months living in fear. Nothing really happened. Which didn't mean I wanted to live in constant stress.
''Oh, you a talking about Qi Jou case.'' As always, Yan Si guessed what I was thinking about.
''He was really angered back then. Even in prison, he found a way to hire an assassin to find the hacker who dared to help my father expose him. Good thing, our Yan family is resourceful, and we can take care of each other.'' I stared at him, processing what I just heard. The fact that my life was on the wanted list slowly sank into my consciousness.
''I received a threat years ago.'' I said with an empty voice. Si Yan grinned widely.
''See, you received a threat, but nothing happened. Which means there will be no problem to help me?'' He was so enthusiastic while I nodded calmly.
''Sure, I'll come with you tonight and see what kind of person he is. After that, I'll check him. Drinks are on you, and if I receive another threat, I'll point at you.'' I said firmly.
''Deal, tang mei!
Evening came fast. I yawned leisurely, watching the city lights from the car's window. They were so blinding it hurt. I closed my eyes, but the drowsiness immediately attacked my body. God, I didn't sleep since yesterday afternoon. Even though I knew, I could stay awake a while longer, but my brain wouldn't be in its best condition.''Xiao Luo, you won't fall asleep in the club, will you?'' Yan Si asked worriedly. I looked at him disdainfully.''Now, you are afraid. You should have let me sleep on the beach instead of pestering me the whole time.''''But the human body is meant to sleep during the night and work during the day. It's unhealthy to switch your sleeping regime.'' He said righteously.''Did you know about people called night owls? Or you live under a rock?''''These are exceptions. Plus, these people don't stay up the whole night. They go to sleep after midnight. Not like you, who wander like a ghost in the mansion until sunrise and dur
The next evening, the whole family sat together to have a meal. I was a bit under the weather due to my lack of sleep, and grumpy observed the family members from my maternal side. Grandfather was the Yan family's head and my uncle, followed by Yan Si, his successors. My mother was his only daughter, and she didn't get along with her father. If it wasn't for my cousin's engagement, I doubt I would ever have the opportunity to see them face to face again. The reason for their animosity was my father. Not only he wasn't the chosen spouse from grandfather, but he was even a foreigner. This displeased the old tyrant so much he found a way to estrange their relationship. With lies, manipulation and threats, he forced my mother to come back to China from Scotland, where she studied as an exchange student. Once in his hands, he never let her leave. My father was deceived that mom married someone else and never knew he had a daughter until I was ten. Then they got together thanks to my uncle.
The seaside manor was prepared for tonight celebration. There was still an hour before the first guests arrived. I was watching the servants making arrangements on the beach from my room on the second floor. Today the weather was so pleasant. It wasn't warm nor cool—just my favourite type. I suppressed a yawn hoping I wouldn't fall asleep during dinner. I hadn't slept since yesterday afternoon. Maybe I needed to drink another cup of coffee. I made my move to the first floor, where the kitchen was. I didn't want to interrupt the servants, so I was going to make it myself. The manor wasn't as spacious as other people's manors living in this private residential area; however, it was the most beautiful. The combination of traditional and modern Eastern exterior made it look grand, royal, elegant and sophisticated. The interior was inspired by the West, which brought a unique, relaxing charm. Two cultures were combined harmonically. I remember when I was a child, how much I loved playing
Even if I were struck by lightning, I wouldn't be as shell-shocked as I was. His dark eyes had the intensity of a beast going to swallow its prey whole. His predatory look made me tremble. And his statement that he wouldn't let me escape…I could swear I had never in my two timelines met that person. His fierce countenance, combined with his absurd statement, scared me in no joking manner. ''There must be a misunderstanding. I never had the opportunity to be acquainted with you.'' I tried to be polite and pleasant as possible. Despite that, there was a scornful grimace on his face. ''Hell, if I knew what talented actress you are.'' He chuckled suddenly. ''Do you honestly think I will believe your pretence? You might have plastic surgeries and changed the colour of your eyes; however, I can never mistake the person who you truly are.'' Well, obviously, you could. Without a doubt, he knew a woman closely resembling me and was adamant about treating me like her. In this vast world with s
The serenity of the night was in stark contrast with my emotions. My blood boiled in my veins, and I couldn't conceal the wrath in my eyes. I must have scared Yan Si because the look on his face was wary.''Tang jie, what happened? Why do you look like you are planning someone's murder?'' He asked in a shrill voice, throwing me a suspicious look. I narrowed my eyes at him and repeated coldly.''Come and see what I am talking about.'' Slowly with uncertainty, he closed the door, and soon his body leaned over my shoulder.'' I don't think it is a good idea to check father's laptop.''''Read first and comment later.'' I cut him off, and he looked at me with a hurtful expression. I didn't pay attention to him too immersed in my thoughts. What to do with this knowledge?''What the bloody hell is this?'' His loud exclamation took me out from my reverie, and as a result, I jumped in scared in my chair.''Are you trying to get me diabetes, stupid? M
A few hours later, there was a loud commotion in the hallway outside my room. Slowly, I opened my eyes, listening to the loud voice of Yan Si's mother. The words were a little bit unclear due to the thick walls, but I could grasp the conversation's meaning. Or the monologue, to be exact. Han Wei was urging Yan Si to wake up, and knowing how he slept like a bear in hibernation period; I could guess she found the task excruciating. I got up from my bed and came closer to the door. Normally, I wasn't a nosy, gossiping person. However, I couldn't stop wondering why Han Wei was so nervous. Her voice was laced with panic, and she sounded almost hysterical.I switched the lights off, which I used to doze off until morning, and looked outside. Only my eye was visible. Han Wei was standing at the doorstep, stomping with her foot. From her profile, I could see she was red with anger and worry.''Yan Si, I order you, get up right now, or I will beat you until your ass is red! I d
Early in the morning, the private plane set off from China to Italy. The flight was long, and I had nothing to do. Last night I tried to sleep in set on lights, but Han Wei disturbed me. Since then, I counted many sheep. Alas, it was futile. So I thought I would have the chance to rest during the flight. ''Luo Luo, we didn't have much time to talk yesterday.'' It was Xi An's voice. At the engagement party last night, we only had time to nod at each other. There were so many guests and friends of both families, and Yan Si and Xi An, together with their parents and family heads, had to pay attention to them. My mother and I were left to the side, but mom had old acquaintances in China, so she wasn't left alone, and I…well, I preferred being bored than speaking nonsense. Besides, I hated hypocrites, and most of the people there were like this. ''Well, we can make up for that until we land in Venice.'' I smiled gently, not too sad for my wasted opportunity to sleep, and not long after, w
The lights of the casino were bright and blinding. I blinked a few times, waiting until my eyes adjusted. It was so noisy here. The sounds from the betting machines, the people exclaiming happily when they won and their disappointed wailing when losing pierced through my eardrums.Oh my God, why did I agree with Yan Si's plan? It was such idiocy. I was supposed to find Bei He and charm him. He was forty years old unmarried man and had a liking for younger women. Thank you, Facebook, Instagram and Weibo, for giving me this information. Next, when he was head over heels for me, which I thought was totally impossible, I had to take him out of the casino where a rented yacht will take us away to a more secluded place. Then, Yan Si and I will let Xi An and her military training took care of Bei He.It looked like a piece of cake. However, many variables could screw us. I walked around the many slot machines which the people played, stopping for a second or two because I was