The thing about success is that it blinds you to most everything else. So, when the problems finally crop up, you are caught totally flat-footed.
It had all been going very well for the three of us. I had propositioned my idea of lingerie to them and after Kara had me make a few pairs for them to try, she was sold on the idea.
Loin cloths and chest bindings were apparently pretty inconvenient and uncomfortable – not to mention unattractive.
Compared to form-fitting, sexy underwear from the future, they were subjects before their Emperor – kneeling and singing conquer.
Beyond providing creative input on the prototypes and on marketing ideas, the whole thing was out of my hands. Kara turned out to be an extremely capable businesswoman.
Well, she had to be for her to have managed her moon lily trade single-handedly for so many years despite the pressure of the opposing faction and discrimination towards her due to her status as an outsider.
Using the same corporate chops that had made her the largest supplier of yin nectar and yang pollen in the entire inner sect, she turned the lingerie business into the embryonic form of a trade empire in the short span of two weeks.
As for Lin and I, we wallowed in decadence. With her confined to barracks to hide her inflated cultivation base from the elders and me being persona-non-grata, we had little to do but fuck to while away our time.
The constant stream of resources delivered to our room by Kara only fuelled the flames.
Any money she earned, she used to buy cultivation resources and the two of us consumed them to convert it into practical power.
It was a heady rush. Feeling my strength, speed and reflexes grow more and more inhuman with each passing day.
The fact that this power came by means of copious amounts of sex was just the icing on the cake.
We were living a deity’s life – Lin and I.
Our cultivation bases had hit the sixth layer of Qi condensation and was verging on the seventh.
Kara for the sake of secrecy and due to her working herself to the bone was still at the peak of the fifth layer.
Now that I think about it, I shouldn’t have taken her for granted so much.
If I hadn’t, I would have noticed the signs.
The cracks in the mirror.
Then again, to her, what she was doing was the correct action to take.
It happened one day when Kara returned elated with success – a triumphant flush on her dark cheeks.
When she barged into our room, Lin and I were lying on the bed, naked.
The lower parts of our body were covered with the blankets and we had propped ourselves up against the headboard with several pillows.
We’d just recovered from a bout of sex and the room was saturated with the musk of our intercourse and the cultivation resources.
Right then, we were recovering from our mind-numbing orgasms. There was a book placed between the two of us. Lin was teaching me to read.
Thankfully, I had the spoken language down pat due to Liu Yang’s memories and it wasn’t that difficult making an association with the written word.
Specially not when all the cultivation had enhanced my brain somewhat.
Well, if not my thought processes, at least my memory was quite a bit better than I remembered either my old self or Liu Yang having.
So, there we were – naked under the sheets in a room heavy with the aroma of intercourse, poring over a book together, our heads nearly touching. That’s the scene Kara walked into.
So engrossed were we in Lin’s explanation that it wasn’t until we heard the door slamming shut on us that we even noticed her presence – the jangling dissonance of her distress breaking me out of my absorbed state.
By the time we scrambled out of the bed, became half-way decent, and gave chase, Kara was long gone.
Lin and I stood there, staring at each other, reading the rich emotions mirrored in the other’s eye.
Guilt. That was prominent.
While Kara worked, all we did was reap the profits of her toil. Even if the idea was mine, she was the one who had brought it to life and turned it into a viable business.
Let alone now, when I was a universal target – even if I wasn’t the only free man in a lair of she-devils, I don’t think I have the business sense to implement my concepts as well as Kara pulled off.
The success was all her and we had been neglecting her a bit too much.
I tried to put myself in her place.
How would I feel if I was a triangular relationship with a woman and my son? I worked hard – neglecting to eat and sleep to grow a business empire and sent all my profits to them.
But when I returned home, I found them lying amidst empty containers of my earnings having recently enjoyed each other’s bodies to the fullest and now bonding spiritually as well.
I think I would resent them both.
In Lin’s eyes, I noticed the same conclusion. The guilt there was even more intense than mine. Kara was like a mother to her and everything Lin had, she had because of Kara’s care and protection.
Even if Lin didn’t know the truth of her biological mother’s death, or her injunction to Kara to look after her, I could tell that Kara was the most important person in her mind.
And she had hurt her.
I forestalled Lin just as she was about to open her mouth and say something emotional and stupid in equal measure.
“We need to do something really nice for Kara.” I said. “To show her how grateful we are.”
Lin closed her half-open mouth with an audible click and nodded her head vigorously. “Un.”
Her eyes shone with anticipation, all her negative mood forgotten in her enthusiasm.
I smiled wryly.
Sometimes I envied her simplistic outlook.
Her world was a checkerboard of good and bad, black and white. No greys contaminated it.
This paradigm was what had allowed her to trust me so wholeheartedly based solely on my single action of sparing Kara’s life.
It made her gullible but, oddly enough, it also made her extremely endearing.
One couldn’t help but want to live up to her trust once she looked at them with those pure eyes of hers.
I could understand Kara’s desire to avoid contaminating those limpid pools with the jet-black ink of resentment and revenge.
Unlike Lin, I wasn’t so optimistic about swaying Kara with a mere gift but – it was a start.
As we busied ourselves with preparing Kara the best dinner ever, I couldn’t help but look to the way she had left with some worry in my gaze.
She had left in an impetuous mood… I hoped that she didn’t do anything drastic.
Shaking my head, I turned back to chopping the vegetables.
We’d see in a few more hours.
Thomas is a strange name. I don’t like it.
Liu Yang sounds so much better. It rolls of my tongue without the guttural ‘th’ making my tongue slap against my palate.
I shoot a sidelong glance at where he is chopping up the vegetables for dinner.
I can’t help but admire his wonderful knifework. The blade is a blur in his right hand as he slowly feeds the halved cabbage in with his left hand on the chopping board.
Well, it’s a polished piece of cork that he calls a chopping board.
It’s quite useful, letting him use the knife freely without having to worry about blunting the edge on the hard stone of the kitchen counter.
Another one of his innovations.
Liu Yang is full of surprises. Sometimes, I can’t quite bring myself to believe that he is really just a farm boy.
Well, if there is something he isn’t telling us, he can keep his secrets until he is ready to share.
As senior sister says, prying makes more enemies than a knife to the heart.
… Well, of course it does, a knife to the heart will kill the person.
She says the oddest things.
But I get her meaning – don’t pry, it’s bad and people will dislike you for it.
And if there is something I have learned about myself in the few days since I met him – I don’t want Liu Yang to dislike me.
Studying his chiselled jawline, his intense look of concentration and the way he bites his oh-so-kissable lips as he works, I confirm yet again – I want him to like me. A lot.
Thinking about senior sister makes me sad and I look away guiltily, busying myself with tidying up the room and opening up the windows to properly air out the smell of sex.
I feel a twinge run up my spine as I remember the feel of him inside me at the smell.
I can’t help but yearn for his touch yet again.
Ruthlessly, I clamp down on that feeling.
I need to focus on senior sister.
Peeking back at Liu Yang, our eyes meet and he gives me a knowing smirk that makes my heart race and my cheeks blush a fiery red. Only when he looks away can I breathe easy again.
I don’t know why but he can read me like an open book.
Well, seeing that he can’t read more than a few words yet, he can read me better than that. But that’s beside the point.
In short, whenever I’m with him, it feels like he knows what is on my mind and each and every one of his actions are tailored to fit.
Is it some cultivation technique?
Well, I won’t pry. As long as he makes me that happy every moment I’m with him, what do I care how he does it.
That’s probably the same for senior sister too.
She must like him just as much and she must want him to like her back. She looked the most peaceful in forever as she was resting in Liu Yang’s arms when I woke the morning after our wild massage.
These days she had been running herself rugged for our sakes. She told me that to preserve Liu Yang we needed to leave the sect and for that we needed to cultivate to the foundation building stage. She said that the future is boundless with him assisting our cultivation and that it’s better than the backing of the entire sect.
Well, I have no objections since I don’t have much attachment to the sect even though I have lived here for nearly all my life.
Senior sister Su, Elder Niang … the bully us too much. I have no idea why. Before Liu Yang came, I didn’t have any friends my age. Well… I don’t think he counts as a friend though.
If there is one regret, then it will be never really finding out what happened to mother.
I clench my fist and return to tidying up with greater zeal.
This will be the best night of sister’s life.