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    Chapter 135: Reality: Ava

    Ming Yiyang's brow furrowed slightly as he pondered whether he might have forgotten to turn off the lights.

    However, Yan Qiling's following words dispelled his concern:

    "Should I perhaps retreat if there's someone else here?"

    His fingers resting by his side twitched subtly.

    Ming Yiyang opened the door wider, remaining more composed than expected:

    "No need, come in."

    Ever since losing his Yin-Yang Eyes, his senses had deteriorated, so his initial reaction was that he had simply forgotten to switch off the light.

    But since Yan Qiling said that, it meant he had already sensed someone inside.

    At this moment, apart from Chi Zihe, only that person should be bold enough to enter his house so openly...

    An individual who could handle anything.

    Yan Qiling didn't act immediately but let out a soft sigh instead.

    He displayed a slight helplessness when it came to Ming Yiyang, then removed his shoes before entering.

    Ming Yiyang found him a pair of white slippers. At that moment, a tall and lanky man with a complexion resembling hazelnut chocolate emerged from the guest room.

    He had thick, curly black hair and vibrant green eyes that appeared exceptionally lively. Though his facial features weren't particularly sharp, the short and dense beard under his chin added a touch of maturity to his originally delicate and feminine appearance.

    Upon seeing Ming Yiyang, the man's face lit up with delight. However, when his gaze fell upon Yan Qiling standing beside him, he seemed genuinely surprised, as if he hadn't expected the other party to bring a stranger home.

    Following that, he put on a bright and polite smile, hastily approaching them in a welcoming manner:

    "Bro, I didn't expect you to bring a guest home... Who might this be?"

    Ming Yiyang introduced him briefly:

    "Call him Brother Yan. He's my current employer."

    Yan Qiling, suddenly promoted to the role of "employer," wore a polite smile that came naturally to him.

    Although his smile didn't convey any particular emotion, the allure of a beautiful person's sudden grin was undeniably captivating. The brief display left the brown-skinned man with green eyes momentarily stunned for the second time.

    Ming Yiyang then introduced the stranger who had been in his house to Yan Qiling:

    "This is my younger brother, thirteenth in the family. You can call him Ava."

    After both nodded as a gesture of greeting, Ming Yiyang casually pointed at the sofa, looking towards Yan Qiling.

    "Take a seat on the couch, it's all clean – Auntie cleaned it three days ago."

    Naturally, Yan Qiling followed the host's lead. As he settled into the sofa, Ming Yiyang went to the kitchen to fetch him a glass of warm water and asked if he wanted something to eat, promptly opening the snack cabinet for him to choose whatever he desired.

    "I used to grab a snack or two while watching variety shows or movies."

    As he mentioned this, he turned to see Ava standing there with an astonished expression.

    This reaction was not unforeseen by him.

    Ava was genuinely surprised.

    He had never seen Ming Yiyang be so attentive and meticulous in serving anyone, even his closest younger brother could only watch from the sidelines like this now.

    Instead of inviting Ava to sit on the sofa, Ming Yiyang hooked his neck with one hand and led him to the foyer by the door, asking,

    "Why did you suddenly come to Guang City? Is there something you need to take care of?"

    On Ava's mature-looking face, a sheepish smile emerged,

    "I've been busy with matters at Jinhua recently. I happened to be coming over to discuss collaboration possibilities with a few designers. But brother, I'm just temporarily staying here for a while. I'll book a hotel later, and move out tomorrow. I won't disturb you."

    "Staying here is fine, I won't be at home these few days anyway."

    Ming Yiyang seemed quite open and accepting about the situation. He usually didn't intervene much in matters that didn't affect him,

    "As long as you don't do anything illegal, feel free to use anything here. If I catch you up to no good, I'll be the first to turn you in to the authorities."

    "How dare I, Brother? You know that Jinhua is just involved in the clothing business. I'm the most innocent and honest person in the family, you have to believe me."

    "You can't be trusted."

    Despite the words, Ming Yiyang's expression was one of amusement.

    Seeing his softened demeanor, Ava couldn't help but reveal a hint of what was weighing on their mind:

    "Brother, are you thinking of going back home this year to visit Papa?"

    "No," Ming Yiyang replied instantly, removing his hand from around Ava's neck.

    Ava spoke cautiously,

    "Papa misses you quite a bit..."

    "That's none of my concern."

    The young man's silver eyelashes cast a deep shadow as he spoke dismissively.

    "Even if he's my father, it doesn't matter. Scram."

    The man's attitude was firm, and Ava originally didn't dare to probe further. But recalling the phone call he received before coming, his resolve wavered:

    "What if Papa comes to China? Would you be willing to meet him...?"

    "Might he come to China to get arrested?" Ming Yiyang scoffed, clearly taking the remark as a joke.

    "Sure, if he comes for a religious exchange conference, as a Celestial Master, I welcome fellow practitioners for friendly exchanges. But if he wants me to go back and participate in his nonsense, not only is that out of the question, but there's no way at all. I'll find a way to make him leave directly."

    Ava was helpless in the face of Ming Yiyang's attitude, could only watch him pack his belongings in and out of the room.

    Then, he watched as Ming Yiyang filled two large suitcases with his things.

    This almost ruthless emptying of the wardrobe made Ava anxious:

    "Brother, are you moving out? Have you bought another house in Guang City?"

    "No, it's just that my client requires my close protection, so I might need to stay with them for a few more days. Don't worry."

    Ming Yiyang zipped up his suitcase, seemingly oblivious to Ava's unease.

    "You stay here comfortably, just don't get into any trouble. I have to attend to some matters with the client later, so I won't be able to invite you for dinner. When I'm free, I'll treat you to a proper meal."

    "…Alright."

    Ava held back the words he wanted to say.

    He had actually wished to delve deeper into the topic of their father, but he was well aware of Ming Yiyang's sensitivity regarding 'PaPa'.

    However, since PaPa had made a promise to him personally this time, he didn't want to give up on it easily.

    It seemed like he would have to proceed with caution.

    Recalling 'Brother Yan' who was still sitting on the sofa outside, Ava couldn't help but glance back at him.

    The man had an exceptionally handsome face, undoubtedly someone their father would find appealing.

    It was unexpected that Ming Yiyang had a preference for this type, which was quite surprising.

    Of course, Ava didn't take the so-called "employer" excuse seriously.

    He had seen Ming Yiyang's previous employers before. His proud older brother would always stand aside, smoking and chatting, never bothering about whether the seat was clean or if the client was thirsty.

    But now, after Ming Yiyang entered, he didn't light a cigarette and went straight to the room to pack his things. This clearly indicated… that they were going to live together, didn't it?

    Upon realizing that his older brother might be attracted to men, Ava felt a mix of relief and concern.

    The relief came from the fact that their father would never entrust the family's lifeline to a son who liked men. Ming Yiyang, as a result, had essentially lost all eligibility to compete for the position of family head.

    Yet, the worry stemmed from the close relationship between Ava and Ming Yiyang. Their bond had grown so strong that their father viewed them as a united force, as evident by the request for Ava to persuade Ming Yiyang to return to Indonesia.

    If Ming Yiyang's attraction to men were exposed by other siblings, not only would Ming Yiyang be affected, but Ava's standing in their father's eyes might also be jeopardized…

    Now, Ava was unsure whether he should convince Ming Yiyang to come back home and work.

    His brother seemed to like women, so how could he suddenly become infatuated with a man?

    Ava couldn't help but admire the oriental man who seemed to embody a landscape painting as he sat on the sofa. She then reluctantly lowered her gaze, abandoning the idea of persuading Ming Yiyang to prefer women.

    In front of such an enchanting person, even someone like her, innately drawn to women, would find it appealing to develop a romantic connection with him.

    All the more so for the free-spirited Ming Yiyang.

    Initially, Ava was confident in convincing Ming Yiyang to return home and aid her in seizing power. However, she was now unsure if she should welcome his presence.

    Perhaps the best approach was to set the matter aside temporarily and later gauge her father's intentions.

    If Father insisted that Ming Yiyang must return...

    It was unlikely.

    If her father truly cared about Ming Yiyang, he wouldn't have allowed his mother to take his son back to Guang City and make him renounce his Indonesian citizenship.

    The urgency to have him return now likely stemmed from the fact that Ming Yiyang was the only uninvolved adult male in the family power struggle. Although Ming Yiyang was close to her, her father might also see him as an individual not easily swayed by either side, thus making him more trustworthy – nothing more than that.

    In truth, this choice would have been the most advantageous for Father and aligned with Ava's current interests as well.

    But now, things were different.

    Ava had already entertained many unspoken thoughts in their mind. Eventually, they offered Yan Qiling a polite smile and deliberately sat on the other side of the sofa, slightly distant, engaging him in conversation with their fluent yet heavily accented Chinese:

    "Mr. Yan, you've known my brother for quite some time, haven't you? You seem to have a good relationship."

    Yan Qiling spoke gently, his words flowing like a mountain stream's melody:

    "He is indeed a fine person."

    Ava gleaned no information from this response.

    Realizing that their inquiry might have been too direct, they changed the subject:

    "I wonder what Mr. Yan does for a living. Ah, may I ask, or would that be too abrupt?"

    "No, it's fine."

    Yan Qiling spoke gently,

    "I'm a model. Are you also a celestial master?"

    Ava chuckled twice,

    "No, I'm a fashion designer, currently working at Jingmei... Being a celestial master requires a natural gift, which my brother has but I don't. Speaking of which, my brother actually holds shares in Jingmei. Mr. Yan, were you unaware of this?"

    The man didn't seem annoyed by the revelation, but rather intrigued, his eyebrows lifting slightly in interest.

    "He doesn't often share his personal matters with me, but judging from his current state, he doesn't seem fit to attend a shareholders' meeting."

    Ava laughed, a much more jovial sound.

    "Brother dislikes being bound by constraints, yet the shares do still provide him with dividends each year... Oh, Mr. Yan, if you are indeed a model, there's a possibility we could collaborate in the future. Jingmei is currently seeking a new regional spokesperson for the upcoming year, and I believe you would be an excellent candidate to audition."

    Yan Qiling nodded politely.

    "Definitely, if there's an opportunity."

    Despite this fleeting promise, Ava decided to make it tangible and promptly took out her phone:

    "Shall we exchange contact information in advance? That way, if there's an audition, I can inform Mr. Yan... which messaging app does Mr. Yan prefer? I have most of the popular ones available."

    Yan Qiling replied gently:

    "I don't have a mobile phone."

    Ava: ?

    Ava chuckled, "Mr. Yan, what a joke you're pulling. How could anyone in modern times not have a phone?"

    Just as he was attempting to peel off the other's "mask" with his humor, an authoritative voice rang out from behind him:

    "He truly doesn't have a phone."

    Ava turned around to see Ming Yiyang, who had finished packing the suitcase, leaning against the back of the sofa with one hand, his gaze deeply fixated on him:

    "He communicates with the outside world through his assistant, or, me."

    The young man deliberately emphasized the last word, then took out his phone with a mischievous smile:

    "Ava, if you have any plans, feel free to tell me. I can convey them to Mr. Yan on your behalf."

    Ava was deeply impressed by Ming Yiyang's attitude.

    He wasn't naive; on the contrary, due to his complicated family background, his understanding of the depths of human nature was beyond what most people could fathom.

    He was especially sensitive to negative emotions in relationships.

    What Ming Yiyang was displaying now was his strong possessiveness over Yan Qiling.

    The tactic of taking away someone's phone and only allowing communication with a select few – he never would have imagined that Ming Yiyang would use this on another person!

    After all, his brother used to hate both controlling and being controlled, living a carefree life. But now, for the sake of keeping someone, he was resorting to such tactics.

    Ava's perception of their situation flipped rapidly at this moment.

    In his view, it was possible that Yan Qiling had no feelings for Ming Yiyang at all. It was Ming Yiyang who was using the pretense of "employment" as an excuse to cling to the other man.

    However, this could also be an opportunity.

    This person must have a significant influence over Ming Yiyang.

    If he could exploit this canary properly... it might become Ming Yiyang's weakness.

    Ava looked at Yan Qiling, but the man returned a pure and oblivious smile.

    An idea stirred in his mind: Raising such a canary didn't seem like a bad thing.

    Hiding his sudden unconventional thoughts, Ava pretended to be confused and offered an awkward smile.

    "Alright, then, bro, I'll communicate with you exclusively from now on."

    Ming Yiyang gave him a glance that said "I dare you to misbehave," then turned to Yan Qiling and said,

    "Let's go. We've packed everything. Better head back early to avoid traffic."

    Yan Qiling maintained his elegance, nodding politely at Ava.

    "Well, we'll be on our way then."

    That smile was as poisonous as it was captivating, making one feel as if half their body was melting into the alluring sentiment.

    Ming Yiyang pushed the two large suitcases out, with Yan Qiling casually assisting with one.

    Ming Yiyang subtly dragged the suitcase back, while Yan Qiling's gaze remained fixed on the one that had been taken away, his face devoid of the polite smile he'd used with Ava earlier.

    "There's no need for that, I'm not made of glass."

    In the elevator lobby, Ming Yiyang watched him, their reflections mingling in the bright elevator doors.

    This time, when Yan Qiling came to push the suitcases, he didn't offer any help.

    They disappeared behind the closing elevator doors, leaving Ava with a fading smile as he watched them leave.

    He pondered the nature of their relationship and strategized how he might exploit it for his own gain.

    Suddenly, his phone rang with a distinctive ringtone reserved specifically for PaPa.

    He answered the call almost instantaneously and hurried back inside the house – after all, many of the things his father had shared with him were not suitable for anyone's ears, even overseas.

    The spacious living room echoed solely with the sound of their conversation.

    PaPa's voice was aged, a testament to his sixty-something years, a man now in the twilight of his life.

    Yet, the few simple words he spoke were enough to send a chill down Ava's spine:

    "…Has Shusmarda agreed to come back?"

    Shusmarda was Ming Yiyang's Indonesian name. Ava hadn't expected PaPa to bring this up right away. He focused all his attention and replied cautiously:

    "Brother... might still be considering it."

    "I want him back before next month. You arrange the specifics of the trip."

    Upon hearing this demand, Ava's heart swelled with an uncontrollable, indescribable feeling. It was a complex cocktail of emotions, but one clear aspect was the fear of failing the task and the palpitations that accompanied it.

    Before he could even agree, he had already started subconsciously planning his escape route:

    "…Brother is currently employed by someone else and might not return so soon."

    "Wa Qima, this concerns you."

    The elderly voice on the other end of the line was thick with phlegm, yet the hostility in his words was more devastating than any weapon:

    "It pales in comparison to what lies ahead for you."

    "But if you can't even accomplish something as insignificant as this, I seriously doubt if entrusting you with greater tasks would be the right decision."

    "I understand, Father."

    Ava's throat constricted, and under immense tension, he reluctantly made a vow:

    "…I will definitely persuade Brother to agree."

    "Very well."

    The call ended, leaving Ava drenched in cold sweat.

    Despite his agreement, the entire situation was too peculiar. Father's eagerness to bring Ming Yiyang back was almost abnormally intense.

    Could it be that there's something Father particularly desires from Ming Yiyang...?

    Ava fell into deep thought, and a dangerous notion suddenly surfaced in her mind.

    Or perhaps... Father has someone specific in mind for succession.

    Could it actually be... Ming Yiyang?!

    The speculation was preposterous, yet Ava's green eyes couldn't help but darken, turning as deep as obsidian.

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