The Divorcee is a Wicked Black Belly Chapter 7: He is Han
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After leaving Valerie, Richard went to the west wing of the house he was now occupying. The courtyard here was bigger and more suited to his purpose than anywhere else in the house. It hadn't been difficult to convince his parents to agree to the arrangement.
In fact, his father insisted that he take over the courtyard and move An Ning there immediately. His mother, for her part, set her decorators a task to completely make over one of the larger rooms into a comfortable makeshift hospital bed. Two days later, An Ning was transferred from the hospital to this room along with two nurses and a round-the-clock doctor.
Richard was not taking any chances this time. He had already lost a brother, he couldn't take the chance of losing An Ning, too. He watched as his aged parents descended from gloomy to morose with each passing day. Losing a son hit them very much, so they were extra careful not to lose another member, especially one who was carrying the hope of the future.
He entered a room and walked towards the huge bed in the middle. The nurse stood up when she saw him. She nodded a greeting, gathered a few things then left, closing the door behind her with a tiny click.
Richard sat on the chair by the bed and as had been his practice these last few days since she arrived, he tucked a wisp of hair behind her ear, touched her cheek and bent his head to kiss her on the lips. She had lost a lot of weight, she was thinner so the bulge of her stomach was more prominent. She remained in a coma since the attack but she was alive and the baby was doing well and that's all that matters really. She will wake up and she will get better; he will see to it.
When he woke up that day, he could not remember the details of the attack as feel them. He felt panicked, fear, an overwhelming dread that swept over him like a tide. His brother Richard was dead and he, Han, was alive in his brother's body. He retained the memories of the dying soul before its last gasp into nothingness.
Richard was reluctant to leave, almost desperate to make amends to the woman he loved yet wronged. Han watched his brother's struggle, unable to do anything but stay mute and silent.
How could this have happened? Did he die or did Richard die? How can a soul flew out of a body then slip into another not his own? He remembered what Richard felt, like his skin had been stripped and another one stitched to fit the now empty vessel. It felt bizarre. It was bizarre.
He was Richard physically yet his soul was his own, Han, the youngest son of M City's illustrious Liu family. What did that mean actually? He didn't know. All he knew was that he had now taken over his brother Richard's life in addition to his own.
And his physical body had died in that attack. And the perpetrators remain at large and An Ning was comatose as a result. He wanted answers and he will get them even if he had to rip apart the city in his search for the truth.
He called Du Lu immediately after he arrived at this resolve.
"My god, man. What happened?" was Dulu's first response after taking the call. "The news said something about a fire and you were there when it happened? Are you okay?"
"Never been better. Listen, dude, I need a favor. I need some time off to take care of something. Can you take over for me while I'm gone? Christie will help you with the office stuff. You're not busy are you?"
"I'm shooting a TV commercial a week from now and I have some appearances before that. But there's nothing else as far as I know. What's this something you're talking about anyway? You're not in any trouble are you? Valerie pregnant or something awful like that?"
Han laughed. "What are you talking about? The straight and narrow has always been my code, bro. You know that better than anyone. Speaking of Valerie, she and I broke up. I didn't ask if she wants to stay with us or not. She might not want to after this. You better call her and clarify."
There was silence at the other end. "Say that again? You and Valerie are kaput?"
"Dead as a doornail, dude."
"Who broke it off first?"
"What does it matter?" Han asked impatiently. "I told her to go and she went."
Du Lu laughed delightedly. "You fucking bastard. I bet it cost you a pretty penny, huh?"
Han chuckled. "I'm breaking off. Call me if you need anything. Bye, bro. And thanks."
The second thing he did was go and talk to his father. The elder Liu was out in the garden, sitting on a chair and sipping his tea. He looked up when Han approached and put down the cup. Han frowned. His father looked older and more bent than usual. His hair was whiter and there were deeper grooves on his cheeks that hadn't been there before this thing happened.
He dreaded to see what his mother looked like. If his father looked as bad as he's looking now, his mother could be worse. More than anything, he hated to see his parents worry, especially if he couldn't do anything about it.
Han sat down and poured himself a cup. There was silence. The old man just looked at him, waiting.
"Han was into something bad chasing after bad people," Han finally put his cup down and met his father's eyes. "The captain told me he was undercover. He died in a terrorist attack, dad. Someone betrayed him and he died."
Unbidden tears welled up in the old man's eyes. The two of them looked at each other in silence. Han was the first to look away, picking his cup and taking a sip at the cold tea, the pain in his chest ballooning into a swelling tide.
"Don't do anything to further distress your mother, Richard," his father said after a while. "This family can't take anymore hits after this. Think of An Ning."
Han didn't answer.
"I didn't want him to join the army, you know," his father continued. "But he insisted. Han was not the same as you and Alex. He had always been more adventurous, more curious about things. And so fucking brave it made me afraid just to look at him sometimes. I wouldn't have minded if he had just loitered around the house and did nothing all day. I think that would have been preferrable to this...this..." the old man stopped, swallowing hard.
"But he wanted to serve his country and I'm just a parent who should have been proud of the fact that his son wanted to live his own life and earn honors for himself and his parents. But...he was my son and he was taken just like that...ripped apart by somebody who didn't even leave us a body to bury."
The pain around Han's chest tightened. He wanted to tell his father he was alive but that would mean admitting that though he was alive, Richard was dead and that wouldn't change things very much, will it?
One son remain dead; while the other son survived. In the end, it didn't matter who died and who lived. Someone somewhere pulled the trigger and Richard died. Someone somewhere started this ball rolling and he couldn't just stand idly by and let it roll over the rest of his family without doing something.
The old man stopped and looked at his son. "What are you planning? I know you are so don't give me bullshit, boy."
"I haven't thought it all out yet," Han acknowledged with a reluctant sigh. "But I arranged for that flight thru my secretary. She's been with me for five years and there's nothing in her background that suggests she's link to anything nefarious other than her bad choices of boyfriends. But I'm not ruling her out either.
And then there's the pilot. He was with you before I hired him, dad, so I don't know. Anyway, it was Han they were after so if they wanted to kill him, why work for me? I'm thinking of bribery. As you know, most people would do anything for money."
"Don't tell you mother. She's been through so much already. What's keeping her sane right now is that baby in An Ning's body. She might go off rails if you so much as suggest going after these criminals yourself. You can't do that to your mother, Richard. It would kill me if something happens to her."
After promising his father he wouldn't do anything stupid as die himself, Han left to meet his old CO in a restaurant located some distance away from the city. The meeting had been pre-arranged and the captain, though puzzled, readily agreed.
Han was unaware that when his car drove from the estate, An Ning suddenly opened her eyes and screamed, her cry alerting the two nurses and Han's mother who was sleeping on a sofa bed by the window.
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