Pearl Throat
Pearl Throat: Chapter 19

19: Subject

The other girl got excited for no apparent reason, “You don’t understand? It’s called showing weakness. It’s pretending not to know something to satisfy the other person’s arrogant desire, making the other person feel weak and in need of protection. That’s how relationships can progress further.”

“Oh? Relationships! So, it’s not, like, that kind of same-sex… But why are there three people? It’s a bit too exciting, isn’t it?”

“It’s not like that. I even heard the young one calling the other ‘Ge.'”

“Brothers! Oh my goodness…”

They became more and more enthusiastic in their discussion until Shen Cizhu pushed open the door to the lounge. After communicating with the head of a foreign subsidiary, he came out.

He looked at the two embarrassed girls who seemed not to know where to hide.

“So, it’s like that?” he almost murmured, a touch of a pitiful feeling of being deceived.

“No, we… we’ll just go,” the girls nodded repeatedly and then pushed the food cart away.

Shen Cizhu suddenly turned his head to look at them. He had a faint smile on his face, but it eventually turned into a subtle, almost oppressive expression.

How could he not know that Xie Hou was just acting?

He came from an elite aristocratic background, and he naturally knew people’s eating habits and etiquette at a glance. Besides, he knew that habits couldn’t be changed, and even a slight slip-up would expose the deception beneath the disguise.

Xie Hou was not as clueless about Western dining etiquette as he pretended to be. It was all an act.

Shen Cizhu knew all of this, but he acted like he didn’t. They were both playing games tonight.

Shen Cizhu patiently taught Xie Hou these mundane etiquette, with the aim of going with the flow. He wanted to see what Xie Hou was up to.

Shen Cizhu was using Xie Hou tonight. He wanted to bring Xie Hou under his control for his use. But why did Xie Hou agree to attend this banquet? Was it just for the information that Shen Cizhu held? But given Xie Hou’s abilities and intelligence, he could easily hack into the information he wanted. So why agree to the banquet tonight? What was his motive?

Shen Cizhu wanted to know this reason, so he brought Xie Yan as a warning to Xie Hou not to act recklessly, or he would do something to his brother.

Secondly, Shen Cizhu wanted to verify his own thoughts.

But was it too cruel to use Xie Yan like this? Having not seen him for so long and seeing Xie Yan being good to Xie Hou, Shen Cizhu felt a bit hesitant.

Hesitation sometimes felt too much like being soft-hearted.

They had such a good relationship as brothers; did he really want to be the villain who made them turn against each other?

… Of course, he did.

Shen Cizhu covered his face and almost laughed in a sickly way. His shoulders trembled slightly, and tears fell from the gaps between his fingers.

Since Xie Yan followed his father and became a lackey for him, Shen Cizhu naturally remembered this betrayal.

He wanted to get back at Xie Yan; he wanted to make the two brothers become enemies.

He wanted Xie Hou for himself and challenge Xie Yan for control over the Shen family’s fortune.

The smoke in the hallway was making Shen Cizhu uncomfortable, but the pleasure he felt was genuine. He coughed softly and felt like his heart, liver, and lungs were about to break.

Soon, the sound of footsteps in leather shoes echoed, and Xie Yan approached him.

Shen Cizhu gently removed the cigarette from his lips and extinguished it in the trash can.

“Don’t smoke anymore, okay?” Xie Yan frowned with concern. Throughout the ten years of their relationship, he always needed to watch over Shen Cizhu’s self-destructive behavior.

In the years they spent together, Xie Yan had been more like a father than Shen Cizhu’s own father.

“Xie Yan,” Shen Cizhu tugged at his suit collar, forcing him to bow, bringing their noses close, almost snuggling.

Smoke rings, fragrant and thick as fog, escaped from Shen Cizhu’s vermilion lips, like a seduction at the start of an intense dream.

“Feeling jealous?” Shen Cizhu whispered, his fingers clutching the back of Xie Yan’s neck. “Earlier, I seduced your brother, and you grabbed my ankle. You held it tightly, didn’t you?”

“Xie Yan, does it make you so angry that I seduced your brother? Your anger is too obvious, but why weren’t you angry at the club that night? You even let him bring me home. I almost died that night.”

“…I’m sorry,” Xie Yan said, staring at Shen Cizhu. He couldn’t help but be drawn to Shen Cizhu’s face, which was too beautiful, with an aggressively proud beauty marked by the excitement-induced tears, slowly getting closer to Xie Yan.

Xie Yan was too honest to look away.

Xie Hou was still in the restaurant, sitting alone with an indifferent expression. He took a sip of tea and then looked out of the floor-to-ceiling window at the luxurious city at night. Afterward, he withdrew his gaze.

Shen Cizhu hadn’t returned yet, and his brother was also out.

What was he doing?

Xie Hou held the sharp, cold porcelain knife between his fingers. The blade was directed at his own forearm, and he slowly moved it up and down at a cold distance.

He really had never been to a Western restaurant, and he had never eaten Western food. He had just passed by a Western restaurant once when he first arrived in the capital. He had unintentionally looked through the window at the diners, observing their conversations and manners. In just a few seconds, he learned how things should be done, how to eat.

He didn’t need the aristocratic skills and etiquette training that rich people spent decades learning. He had learned everything in just a few seconds with a single glance.

But now, after Shen Cizhu patiently taught him, he still pretended not to know. He should have used the knife to cut the food on the table, but instead, the blade decisively and ruthlessly slashed the inner flesh of his forearm.


The flesh was cut through, appearing deep, but not harming any vital blood vessels.

Suddenly, blood was flowing, and droplets fell to the ground.

These drops of blood, dripping, were nearly the same time as the tear that fell from Shen Cizhu’s cheek in the corridor.

Shen Cizhu pulled Xie Yan’s tie. He smelled Xie Yan’s scent with his nose and closed his eyes.

When he couldn’t sleep as a child or was scared during the day, he would curl up and let Xie Yan hold him.

Now that he had grown up, everything had changed.

Shen Cizhu came in, and several waitstaff were tending to Xie Hou’s wound. Xie Hou was playing the part perfectly, as Shen Cizhu had instructed earlier: “No matter how uncontrollable your emotions are, don’t throw the knife and fork carelessly on the table. The blade must still face you.”

The knife that had cut him was placed rationally on the table, with the sharp and bloodied part directly facing his heart.

Shen Cizhu was very satisfied with Xie Hou’s obedience.

What he needed was obedience.

So he began to care about Xie Hou. He took a medical bandage from one of the waitstaff and bent down to personally bandage Xie Hou’s wound.

At this moment, Xie Hou, out of Shen Cizhu’s sight, exchanged a brief glance with Xie Yan.

Xie Hou’s neck slightly tilted, his gaze was cold and ruthless, his pupils slightly raised, filled with a mockery that even Xie Yan could easily detect. His lips twitched, and the red mole on his Adam’s apple was dripping with blood.

Xie Yan suddenly widened his eyes. In this silent exchange, he finally understood what was happening.

Xie Hou was saying, “Mine.”


This incident made the restaurant manager rush over. Although the injured person wasn’t Shen Cizhu, there was still some connection, and even though Shen Cizhu was known as the gentle and pampered young master, he was still part of the Shen family, so they couldn’t afford to be negligent.

So they took Xie Hou to the exclusive medical room for treatment.

The table was filled with the scent of blood, but Shen Cizhu didn’t mind. He sat in his place and took off his black leather gloves, using a clean handkerchief to wipe away the bloodstains from his wrist bones.

His obsession with cleanliness was always peculiar. He liked blood yet found it dirty.

“I’ll go check on him,” Xie Yan said.

Shen Cizhu nodded and allowed Xie Yan to leave.

The restaurant had prepared a VIP-exclusive medical room just in case, for situations like food poisoning or disputes. Several doctors checked on Xie Hou and confirmed that he wasn’t in danger before they left and allowed Xie Yan to visit him.

Xie Hou sat in a chair, his arm connected to a monitor. The screen displayed fluctuating lines, and electronic tones played slowly and hoarsely.

Xie Yan gazed at his brother.

His brother was so much more dazzling, young, intelligent, eternally charming, always standing out. He was growing into a man in the company of another man, which meant he would have a more superior future, making it harder for Xie Yan to keep up.

Xie Hou was eighteen years old, while Xie Yan was already thirty.

They were half-siblings; Xie Hou’s mother had died early, on the same day as their father. So Xie Yan had taken on the role of the head of the household, raising his younger brother himself and providing for their family. He had worked on construction sites to put his brother through school when he was twenty. However, he collapsed from heat stroke and was on the verge of death when Shen Cizhu’s father happened to visit the worksite, saving his life. Afterward, he had the opportunity to join the Shen family, becoming Shen Cizhu’s bodyguard and improving their living conditions a bit.

This year, before Xie Hou’s mother passed away, a hefty debt was exposed, and it was forcefully placed on Xie Hou’s shoulders.

As an older brother, Xie Yan felt guilty and was working hard to help Xie Hou repay the debt. But now, he found it somewhat absurd. For his kindness, for his brother’s concealment.

Was his brother truly his brother?

Sitting in the chair opposite his brother, Xie Yan saw his brother cast a brief glance at him, then removed the lines from his arm, causing the screen to go black for a moment.

“How long has it been?” Xie Yan asked.

“I don’t remember,” Xie Hou replied.

“You can’t possibly not remember. You never forget anything,” Xie Yan exposed his brother’s pretense.

“Gege.” Only then did Xie Hou raise his eyes. His eye shape was completely different from Xie Yan’s.

Xie Yan’s hormones were full of intense ferocity, but Xie Yan was, in essence, a kind-hearted person. His eyes drooped slightly, and apart from the deliberate intimidation, he generally appeared very amiable.

But Xie Hou was different. His eyes were as cold and ruthless as knives, his beauty and ruthlessness were visibly striking. This ruthlessness was usually hidden beneath his fairy-like purity and grace, but tonight he had no intention of hiding it.

He stared at Xie Yan, seemingly as calm as usual, but that made Xie Yan feel danger.

“Gege, it’s because you didn’t protect him,” Xie Hou tilted his head slightly, puzzled, as if blaming him. “Why didn’t you protect him? If your abilities are limited to this, I don’t mind taking him from you.”

“You can’t do that,” Xie Yan suddenly stood up. “He is a person, not an object! If… if he loves you, I will step aside completely, but he doesn’t.”

“Remember this,” Xie Yan took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and then slowly opened them again. This time he conveyed his elder brother’s command, conviction, and authority. “He loves me, and in this matter, you stand no chance.”

“I’ve known him for ten years, I’ve watched him grow up. He can’t live without me. Even if I break up with him now, it doesn’t mean it’s forever.” Xie Yan’s height of 6’3″ was intimidating to the current 18-year-old Xie Hou.

Xie Hou remained seated, his eyelashes were a pale color in the lamplight, like elusive moonlight. After a slight twitch, he looked away and gazed at the scenery outside the window.

“Then let’s compare, gege,” he said slowly, his tone devoid of any inflection.

“Tonight, I saw you holding his ankle, and also in the corridor, he grabbed your tie and made you bow down. Did you kiss? Whether you did or not, it makes me jealous.”

“Gege, I will replace you and attract his attention.”

He was devoid of any emotions, extremely cold.

He seemed numb and mechanical, like a dangerous human with antisocial personality traits.

This made Xie Yan feel extremely unfamiliar. This was not the brother he knew, or perhaps he had never truly seen his brother.

If this frightening and cold-blooded person was truly his brother, then what had he been striving for his brother for all these years?

“Gege, you’re the so-called moral standard-bearer. But I am not. Even if you snatch him back, I can still do whatever I want,” Xie Hou’s additional hair and eyelashes blended into an abyss of darkness. His profile was elegantly handsome, and his nose bridge was like white jade. The only warmth was hidden beneath the flesh and bone. His eyeballs slowly moved back, like an inanimate component of a beautiful doll.

“Perhaps I prefer secret affairs,” he said lightly. “If you end up marrying him, that would be even better, right? By then, he would be my real sister-in-law, and I wouldn’t mind. On the contrary, I would—”

Xie Yan couldn’t take it anymore. He raised his hand, clenched it into a fist, and punched Xie Hou in the face.

“You lunatic!” He still couldn’t strike full force, using only sixty percent of his strength.

Xie Hou’s teeth bled, his gaze was icy, and he exuded an air of being detached from the world. “No, I am extremely rational. It’s you who’s losing control.”

The punch didn’t cause much damage to Xie Hou. He touched the slightly reddened wound on his cheek.

“Xie Hou, we’re brothers…” Xie Yan leaned down and gripped his brother’s shoulder.

Xie Yan was overwhelmed with sorrow, but he didn’t want to lose his composure in front of his brother. He was a man of integrity, a good person, and he was loyal to Shen Cizhu, a top-tier noble family’s black hound. He had to endure, to be gentle, and he was also an older brother.

“I don’t want us to become enemies, Xie Hou,” Xie Yan said his brother’s name for the first time tonight.

Xie Hou didn’t care. He got up and was about to leave.

Xie Yan knew who he was going to find.

Xie Yan took a deep breath, his eyes were already red, and his heart was racing. “Huang Chuan Die, he killed my father. And now, you, as his son, want to steal my lover?”

Huang Chuan Die.

This made Xie Hou stop in his tracks.

But he hesitated for only a moment.

Xie Hou closed the door, leaving Xie Yan alone in the medical room.

In the corridor, he walked on alone.

They all said Huang Chuan Die was a name that sounded so sparkling and beautiful, but it had become the source of sin.

The poor, fragile beauty was tormented by the desire of men until he broke down, and in the end, he left him alone to live in this world.

The dark room was devoid of light.

“Baby, they’re coming after us… Mommy can’t hold on any longer.” Huang Chuan Die’s dress was torn to a horrifying extent, his snow-white skin covered in scars. He held a knife in his hand, the tip stained with blood.

The window had been shattered from the outside, countless glass shards reflecting a terrifying cold sharpness on the floor.

The eyes of the corpses on the ground no longer moved.

That was Xie Yan’s biological father, not Xie Hou’s.

“Baby, my husband… I didn’t kill him… don’t doubt mommy, okay?” Huang Chuan Die threw the knife on the ground, trembling with fear, as several men outside the door were banging on it.

Xie Hou watched coldly as Huang Chuan Die broke down.

“It’s not mommy’s fault.” Huang Chuan Die covered his face, kneeling on the ground. His long hair was billowing, blown by the wild wind, like a butterfly’s wings flapping in a desperate attempt to survive.

“When will those men leave mommy alone?”

Mommy, this is your fault.

Why do I have to take responsibility for everything now?

Xie Hou continued to walk forward. He was already eighteen years old, and he could play the game he had planned for a long time.

So when he saw Shen Cizhu at the end of the corridor, he stopped in his tracks.

“Last night, I told you that Huang Chuan Die was framed. He’s not the one who killed your father. So who did it? You really want to know, don’t you?” Shen Cizhu spoke softly, “But before that, you have to exchange everything you know with me.”

“Xie Hou, can you tell me everything now?”

Shen Cizhu’s green eyes contained a smile. “Tonight, I treated you to dinner, and as a return, I think we can start our conversation tonight, right?”

“I can’t guarantee that your information is accurate, can I?” Xie Hou looked at him. “This is a risky trade.”

“It’s just the two of us here now. I won’t lie.” Shen Cizhu tilted his chin slightly, his words filled with coldness. “Tell me, what’s the connection between Huang Chuan Die and my father?”

“There’s none.”

In the silence, it was a game, an exploration, and also a hidden sense of murderous intent.

“Is that so?” Shen Cizhu gradually concealed his peculiar expression. He opened his lips slightly, his tongue gently emitting an ambiguous breath, “Then we won’t be enemies. Xie Hou, we can still cooperate.”

His eyebrows and eyes were warm and gentle again, and as he walked toward Xie Hou, he produced a playing card out of thin air. The card’s face shimmered with mechanical light, and in the blink of an eye, the joker at the top was replaced by the stern king.

This was a new gambling technique that hadn’t yet emerged in the upper circles. Under the guise of high technology, the card’s face could be automatically controlled by the handler, and no one could detect it.

The winner is determined by pre-set rules. Whoever they wanted to win could win.

“Gambling is the dirtiest thing in the world. It tears families apart, causes people to kill each other, and leaves them with the stigma of murder. It’s an industry chain, and at the end of it is what Huang Chuan Die caused.” Shen Cizhu handed the playing card to Xie Hou.

Xie Hou pressed down on the playing card in his hand. His amber eyes gazed at Shen Cizhu. “You know everything.”

“Perhaps,” Shen Cizhu said with a slight bow, displaying the manners of an ancient noble. In the darkness, he appeared like a bewitching vampire, “Xie Hou, would you like to seek revenge against the criminals who have ruined your promising life?”

Xie Hou’s hand gently stroked the playing card, and Shen Cizhu’s fingers moved over his wrist as they gazed into each other’s eyes.

“What is your goal?” Xie Hou remained utterly cold. “Shen Cizhu, there are others who can help you in this world.”

“My goal is to lead the Shen family cleanly. It’s in my hands, but before that, I need a loyal servant. Your brother betrayed me, and I need to find another way.” Shen Cizhu gripped Xie Hou’s wrist.

Xie Hou, you are my way out.

So, I want you to help me.

“I can give you anything as long as you are willing to follow me.” Shen Cizhu’s fingertips, invisible like a snake, slid from Xie Hou’s wrist upwards.

“Who is your father, exactly?” Shen Cizhu muttered. “Is it him?”

“Too many, I don’t remember,” Xie Hou was neither sad nor happy. He said, “But they are dead now. Shen Cizhu, I promise I won’t have any family left in this world.”

So I won’t have any weaknesses.

I will be the perfect subject.

This was the message Xie Hou conveyed to Shen Cizhu.

Use me as you need.


Certified member of the IIO(International Introverts Organization), PhD holder in Overthinking and Ghosting, Spokesperson for BOBAH(Benefits of Being a Homebody), Founder of SFA(Salted Fish Association), Brand Ambassador for Couch Potato fall line Pajama set.

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