Chapter 148 – The Immediate Priority
Chen Shihuai and Chen Qing were invited onto the car by Housekeeper Zhang. Although Housekeeper Zhang’s attitude was polite and the smile in his eyes carried a sense of respect, which was very pleasant , Chen Shihuai and Chen Qing still felt humiliated by the Wei family today.
Chen Shihuai had been navigating the business world for many years. After the initial anger subsided, he had calmed down. At this moment, sitting in the car, he appeared composed, but the atmosphere around them made Chen Qing shrink his neck and dare not speak.
Chen Qing was most afraid of Chen Shihuai.
“Aqing,” Chen Shihuai, currently resting with closed eyes in the back seat, suddenly spoke and addressed Chen Qing by name. Chen Qing was startled, but quickly regained his composure and respectfully said, “Grandfather.”
“Do you know why I wanted Chen Li to return to the Chen family?” Chen Shihuai asked, his eyes still closed.
“I don’t know,” Chen Qing genuinely didn’t know why his usually indifferent grandfather insisted on having Chen Li return home. To Chen Qing, this was an inexplicable matter.
“In a few days, Secretary Wu’s birthday celebration, do you know about it?” Chen Shihuai continued his inquiry.
Chen Qing was aware of this. He also knew that through the connections of the old grandfather in the capital, their family had received an invitation to the event. In an effort to establish a good relationship with the new Municipal Committee Secretary Wu, the Chen family had invested considerable effort, yet with no tangible results so far.
“Before taking office, Secretary Wu attended an art auction in the capital. He was interested in one of the paintings but regretfully didn’t manage to secure it,” Chen Shihuai explained.
The new Municipal Committee Secretary of the city was an art enthusiast. Various forces in the city had investigated this matter before the new secretary took office. On his assumption of office, countless individuals brought world-famous paintings to Secretary Wu’s attention, but none caught his eye.
This time, Chen Shihuai managed to find out that the new secretary’s favored painting was by the winner of the Dream Cup auction, and he diligently inquired about the identity of this winner. To his astonishment, it turned out that the winner was none other than Chen Li, whom their Chen family had long abandoned!
Upon learning this news, Chen Shihuai’s emotions were complex. Unbeknownst to him, the descendants of his Chen family had already begun to shine in another field.
The reason he wanted Chen Li to return to the family was because: first, he wanted Chen Li to create a painting to present to Secretary Wu during his birthday celebration. Second, he intended to bring Chen Li to Secretary Wu’s celebration to let Secretary Wu know that the artist he favored was from their Chen family.
Chen Qing was unaware of Chen Shihuai’s plan and suggested, “Uncle also is a renowned artist. We could present Uncle’s paintings.” Chen Qing’s uncle referred to Chen Shihuai’s son, Chen Yunlan.
Moreover, in Chen Qing’s view, all paintings were just paintings. His younger uncle, Chen Yunlan, had already achieved fame for many years. Every time he unveiled a new artwork, collectors would scramble to acquire it, with each painting fetching tens of millions.
As for Chen Li, he was nothing more than a fool. What depth could his paintings possibly possess? Gifting Chen Li’s paintings would only tarnish the reputation of the Chen family, wouldn’t it?
Although Chen Qing knew that Chen Li’s work had won the gold prize in the Dream Cup, he wasn’t a part of this circle. He didn’t understand the significance of the Dream Cup, and coupled with his disdain for Chen Li, he had no concept of Chen Li’s current achievements.
In Chen Qing’s eyes, Chen Li was still a mute fool. This perception had been deeply ingrained in him for nearly twenty years. Even if someone were to tell Chen Qing that if Chen Li went public and produced a few more works, he would become a globally acclaimed artist, Chen Qing would simply block his ears and refuse to listen.
Chen Shihuai shook his head and changed the topic, “What’s going on between you and that young fellow from the Wei family? You seemed to get along well before, but today, I saw him being distant with you.” It was more than just distant; he practically treated Chen Qing like a stranger.
Speaking about this matter made Chen Qing irritated, but he didn’t dare show it in front of Chen Shihuai. He simply replied, “I don’t really know.” That was the truth; he didn’t understand why Wei Chen, who had always shown concern for him, was distancing himself lately.
“Get closer to Wei Chen. There’s a lot you can learn from him,” Chen Shihuai, although critical of Wei Chen due to the issue with Chen Li, admitted that Wei Chen was indeed one of the most outstanding individuals among the young generation in the city.
“Understood,” Chen Qing replied respectfully, though a momentary pang of confusion twisted in his heart. He didn’t even understand his own emotions.
“Grandfather, what if Wei Chen continues to prevent Chen Li from returning?” Chen Qing swiftly changed the topic to avoid Chen Shihuai harping on about Wei Chen’s excellence.
If his grandfather really intended to use Chen Li’s paintings to curry favor with Secretary Wu, then the question he had just raised would be the most pressing concern. They had seen Wei Chen’s attitude today; he wouldn’t back down an inch.
Clearly, this was also a concern in Chen Shihuai’s mind. He closed his eyes and pondered for a moment before saying, “First, gather your people and find the person who bought Chen Li’s painting at the Dream Cup auction that day. No matter how much it takes, make sure to buy that painting from him.”
Wei Chen’s stance was firm, and it seemed like there wasn’t enough time to keep pushing him. It would be better to find the painting Secretary Wu liked first.
“Alright,” Chen Qing immediately agreed.
Afterwards, the two generations of grandfather and grandson didn’t exchange any more words on the way. The car smoothly drove towards the main residence of the Chen family.
When Wei Chen returned to his room after rejecting the Chen family, Chen Li had already woken up. He had slept very restlessly; Wei Chen had only been downstairs for a short while when he woke up.
Not seeing Wei Chen upon waking up, Chen Li didn’t make a fuss. He just sat on the bed, looking vacant, with a numb expression in his eyes. He seemed to have returned to the state he was in when Wei Chen first saw him. Wei Chen walked in, saw Chen Li sitting on the bed, and rushed over in a few steps, pulling Chen Li into his embrace.
“Li Li, I’m back,” Wei Chen tried to keep his tone steady and gentle, but he couldn’t help feeling an overwhelming pain in his heart.
Chen Li stayed in Wei Chen’s embrace for a while, feeling Wei Chen’s warmth and tenderness. The loneliness of waking up alone gradually faded away. He clutched the hem of Wei Chen’s clothes and said, “Achen, don’t leave me.”
Wei Chen held Chen Li, softly kissing the top of his head again and again. He said, “I won’t leave, I’ll never leave you.”
This was Wei Chen’s promise and his deepest desire. Chen Li couldn’t be separated from him, and in truth, he couldn’t be separated from Chen Li either.
Chen Li wrapped his arms around Wei Chen’s waist, burying his face in Wei Chen’s chest, listening to the strong and steady heartbeat. He gradually calmed down.
“Achen, I’m hungry,” Chen Li said.
Since returning from Free Spirit, it was actually mealtime. However, due to the circumstances with the Chen family, neither of them had had dinner. At this moment, Chen Li was indeed hungry.
“What do you want to eat?” Wei Chen asked, relieved to see Chen Li coming out.
Chen Li replied, “Scallion oil noodles.” It was what he was craving at the moment, really wanting to have them.
“Alright,” Wei Chen agreed, but he didn’t let go of Chen Li’s hand.
“Achen, I’m hungry,” Chen Li urged when he noticed Wei Chen’s lack of action.
“Let me hold you a bit longer,” Wei Chen seemed almost addicted, not wanting to let go of Chen Li.
“Okay,” Chen Li obediently snuggled further into Wei Chen’s chest, not urging anymore, until their stomachs simultaneously made growling sounds.
“Achen, you’re hungry too,” Chen Li muffled into Wei Chen’s chest, he heard that sound quite clearly.
“Yes, I’m hungry too,” Wei Chen admitted openly.
Even so, they didn’t release each other. They held onto each other tightly, as if they possessed the whole world.
Finally, their stomachs couldn’t bear the hunger any longer; it growled repeatedly, prompting them to eat. They finally parted.
Wei Chen got up, looking at Chen Li sitting on the bed. “Do you want to come with me?”
Chen Li nodded, “Yes.”
Wei Chen lifted Chen Li up, holding his hand, and they went downstairs together, heading for the kitchen.
By now, the servants had left, and the kitchen was quiet.
Chen Li followed Wei Chen into the kitchen, sticking closely to his side. Wei Chen went to the refrigerator to get eggs, and Chen Li followed. Wei Chen stood by the stove to boil water, and Chen Li followed. He didn’t want to be away from Wei Chen.
Wei Chen allowed Chen Li to stay close. Only when he was frying the eggs did he ask Chen Li to stand a bit farther away to avoid getting splattered with oil.
About twenty minutes later, Wei Chen made two bowls of scallion oil noodles for himself and Chen Li. He added two sunny-side-up eggs, and with the ingredients they had in the fridge, he made a bowl of clear soup.
This was their dinner—simple, but for Chen Li, it was incredibly delicious. He picked up the chopsticks, slurping the noodles with relish, his blank face slowly showing signs of satisfaction.
Though Wei Chen was hungry too, he didn’t rush to eat. He just watched Chen Li. When he saw the satisfaction on Chen Li’s face, Wei Chen began eating his own noodles.
Two bowls of noodles, two sunny-side-up eggs, and a bowl of clear soup—all were emptied, and even with sauce smudges around his mouth, Chen Li wasn’t entirely content. Wei Chen took a wet tissue and gently wiped off the sauce smudges from Chen Li’s mouth. Unable to resist any longer, he leaned down and captured Chen Li’s lips, tasting the remnants of the scallion oil noodles. He had to admit, those noodles were indeed delicious.
Chen Li naturally accepted Wei Chen’s kiss, their lips and tongues entwining. A faint sound of wetness echoed in the kitchen—gentle and affectionate, sweet and lingering—a kiss that intoxicated.