Quietly Leaving

  LiMei sits up when the wagon comes to a stop at a cluster of ancient style houses, each one is unique in its design. The houses are are painted pink and have black tiled roofs. What LiMei notices first are the lush gardens and the seven huge camphor trees surrounding the group of houses. Really beautiful… mountain flowers of every color, the tree branches are full of large green leaves hanging over the stone road. 

     She lets out a sigh, mountain villages are truly the best, this place reminds her of her home.

     The atmosphere is peaceful and she can smell the sweet fragrance of a blooming osmanthus tree nearby. LiMei hugs her knees picturing her grandmother running out of their front door, her braided gray hair her serious face as she rushed to her clinic. Her mother chasing after her telling her she couldn’t follow, LiMei would ignore her continuing to run grabbing her grandmother’s strong hand. 

     She shakes her head as a tear rolls down her cheek, brushing it away she hops off the wagon to see what is going on, is this where she will stay for the night? LiMei stands silently waiting admiring the garden while Hong Yi knocks on the door.

    A pretty young woman who looks about twenty five years old wearing jeans and a plaid flannel shirt comes out to greet them, “Father, what took you so long? Mother came by looking for you.” Hong Yi motions to the other men to continue to the store with the supplies they can begin unloading.

     Hong Yi tells her he is going to drop the supplies off at the store then he will go home. He asks her if Feng LiMei and Leng Shuai can spend the night at her residence she will be going down the mountain in the morning he will be staying until Monday. 

     His daughter makes money by renting out rooms to hikers and people who come to harvest the wild herbs in the mountains nearby.“I have two rooms available, there are three hikers that came yesterday.” 

     She  glances over at LiMei, that pampered looking girl is going to hike the mountain? She smirks but catches herself before she makes a rude comment as a handsome tall man approaches them. Her eyes brighten as she asks, “Who is this again?” her father sees her interest, he thinks if Leng Shuai is a friend of Ba Hu’s he is probably a good man. “His name is Leng Shuai, a friend of Ba Hu’s. Mr. Leng this is my daughter Hong Cui”

    LiMei is being ignored over by the garden as Hong Cui flirts with Leng Shuai, after a few minutes she walks over rolling her eyes, if this woman knew his rotten personality she wouldn’t be drooling over him. “Hong Yi can I go with you to the store to purchase what I need so I can leave early in the morning? I can walk back here from the store, you don’t need to bring me back.”

    “If you don’t mind walking back my wife has been looking for me. I need to get home then.”

     Leng Shuai saw her roll her eyes, is she jealous Hong Cui is flirting with him? His lips curl up, “I will go also I need a few more things, I’m going up the mountain early.”

     “Let’s go.” Hong Yi is impatient to get home, he didn’t know it would take so long and his wife will nag at him.

     Hong Cui walks over to Leng Shuai, in a sweet voice she tells him“I will prepare a meal for when you get back you must be hungry.” She doesn’t bother to include LiMei in the invitation which doesn’t go unnoticed by Leng Shaui or LiMei.

     LiMei decides to mess with her she is in a bad mood, “Oh great I’m starving! What is on the menu for tonight? My Shuai is a very picky eater!” She grabs Leng Shuai’s arm looking up at him her green eyes sparkling, “Honey, we should hurry then!” 

     She pulls him away before he can say anything he is stunned by her mesmerizing green eyes as she lovingly gazes up at him. Hong Cui’s mouth drops open, they are together? After they walk a few steps away LiMei lets go of his arm and laughs as she gets on the back of the wagon. Hong Yi watches this scene, they are a couple? What a strange pair.

     Hong Cui momentarily is annoyed not very many handsome men come to the village. She considers the situation , well his girlfriend is leaving in the morning that gives me until Monday to seduce him. She is tired of living on this mountain catering to hikers.

Hong Yi asks his daughter who the hikers are, they didn’t check in with him. 

     She informs him they came late after he had left to meet the plane they will come by his office in the morning they told her. Hong Yi nods his head hurrying over to the wagon.

     Leng Shuai isn’t going to let her little play pass without him retaliating, obviously she used him because she was annoyed Hong Cui ignored her. He leans over his face close to hers, she tries to lean back, what is he doing? He puts his hand behind her head pushing her face closer, with a devilish look in his eyes he whispers “Baby, you are right I am hungry..very hungry.. “LiMei’s eyes widen, is he going to kiss me? She tries to push him back with a frightened look on her delicate face, “Are you crazy Leng Shuai? I will kill you if you.. if you..” 

     Before she can say anything else he suddenly lets her go laughing, “ Little bunny,you shouldn’t play around if you don’t want to suffer the consequences.”

     LiMei’s face is bright red, she will make him pay for that! She turns her back to him looking out at the scenery, the sooner she gets away from him the better. Shaking with the anger rising in her she really wants to beat him up! He looks at her back that is trembling, maybe that was too much he scared her with his little joke. Well she asked for it. 

     The two of them remain silent it isn’t far to the main area of town where the store is located.

     They arrive at the store, LiMei walks around, they have a decent selection of equipment. She chooses what she needs, adding a backpack, she needs shoes though and doesn’t see any. “Hong Yi I need hiking boots and clothes, is there another store to purchase them?”

     “It is closed and won’t be open until morning. Hong Cui can give you a set of clothes and a pair of hiking boots, they might be a little large on you. Unless you want to wait until the clothing store opens at nine tomorrow, that would be a late start down the mountain.”

     She bows towards him,“Thank you Hong Yi, I will need to impose on Hong Cui then, I need to leave shortly before daybreak.” Shit now she needs to ask that girl for her clothes. Dammit!

     Leng Shuai is watching her pick out hiking equipment, is she really a hiker? All her choices are light and easy to carry but are essential. He picks up a small shovel he forgot to bring one, as he reaches for a hunting knife his hand lands on LiMei’s soft hand she is about to pick it up. What the fuck! This little princess is interested in a hunting knife? What in the world would she use that for.. . “I can see you want to look at the knife but before you hurt yourself give it to me. I want to buy it.” He starts to take it from her it is the only one there.

    “Sorry Mr. Leng but first come first serve, I had it first.”

    “You will only hurt yourself.”

    “…” LiMei really wants to hit him with a palm strike, her eyes are showing killing intent. “How about this, one try each whoever gets closest to between the eyes of the man on that advertisement hanging there on the far wall, can buy the knife. “Mr. Hong would that be alright with you?’

    Hong Yi looks at these two they are crazy. “Fine with me.”

     “Do you want to go first?” LiMei’s eyes are shining she will show this idiot she isn’t a flower vase.

     Leng Shuai grins, this girl is very interesting, as if she can even hit the wall. Her arms are slender and she doesn’t look capable “Ladies first, Mr. Hong you should come stand behind us.”

     LiMei glares at him, “No please I insist you go first I need to compose myself.”

     He picks up the knife and aims at the advertisement, the knife swishes through the air hitting the picture directly in the middle of the man’s eyes. Leng Shuai smugly  nods towards LiMei, then walks over pulling the knife out. “You don’t need to embarrass yourself, if you want to concede.”

     LiMei laughs, “You were slightly off center but not much, how about if I can throw it directly where your knife entered you buy all of my supplies and I get the knife. If I miss..hmm..” She looks at his supplies they don’t compare, “But, your supplies aren’t much.” Leng Shuai interrupts, “If you lose I get the knife and you kowtow to me apologizing for your misbehavior earlier.” He can’t wait to see her apology, he is still pissed she had him go into the office at the airport.

     “Deal! I hope you have enough money for all my supplies!” She reaches out to shake his hand with a big grin on her face. He feels her small hand in his for a moment the warmth from holding it catches him off guard. 

     He looks at her in her designer dress and heels holding a hunting knife aiming with her one eye closed. He suddenly has the urge to take a picture. He pulls out his cell, “Wait I need to take your picture you look utterly ridiculous.”

     “…”

    LiMei takes one look at the wall and the knife leaves her hand in a blur. Both Leng Shuai and Hong Yi could barely see the flash as it flew past. LiMei smiles as she turns to look at them,  “Hong Yi ring me up.”

     Leng Shuai is incredulous as he walks to the wall, the knife is perfectly in the mark his knife left. He has no words as she winks at him. What the fuck! He pulls out his wallet heading towards the counter. LiMei pushes it away, “I was teasing I can’t let a small time pilot pay.” She hands her card to Hong Yi. Leng Shuai takes the card from Hong Yi giving it back to her, “I lost I will pay.” Damn girl trying to embarrass him as though he couldn’t pay he is the fucking CEO of Leng Enterprises. Small time pilot!

     Hong Yi needs to ask he couldn’t believe his eyes, how did this little girl throw the knife so accurately, “Miss Feng, where did you learn to throw a knife like that.” She looks like the pampered daughter of a rich family.

     “I was just lucky.” LiMei isn’t going to give out any personal details.

     “…” Leng Shuai has dark lines forming on his forehead, she was just lucky my ass! He needs to find out who this girl is, he looks at the picture on his cell.

    LiMei can tell he is very angry, his handsome face has darkened and his dark phoenix like eyes are narrowed. His body is surrounded by an oppressive aura that almost makes it hard to breathe. He is staring at her picture on his phone, shit she needs to erase that from his cell. How is she going to do that. With his terrible temper and personality after embarrassing him he might try to get some kind of revenge. But who could he know that would even matter, he is just a pilot, yeah not a big worry.

     She packs all her supplies into her backpack. “Thank you Hong Yi, did you say your son in law might be available as a guide?”

     “He lives at Cui’s residence you can ask him. She can supply you with a map also.”

     “Good. I will say goodbye then, thank you for your help!”

     LiMei doesn’t wait for Leng Shuai he is still talking to Hong Yi, she leaves throwing her backpack over her shoulder. So what if her supplies probably cost him too much he shouldn’t have underestimated her. He was overly confident because he didn’t think a girl could beat him. 

     He is another arrogant man, she kicks a stone with her shoe thinking it should be fun hiking down the mountain the only problem is Chen Jianyu. I guess if he fires me I can find another job it wasn’t my fault I won’t be able to get there on time.

     Well maybe I could if I left tonight.. Limei doesn’t realize Leng Shuai is walking behind her listening to her mutter to herself. He can’t hear what she is saying but she looks cute kicking the stones as she walks along. Who does she work for anyway, she disguises herself, she obviously is not the delicate beauty she appears to be on the outside. Is she a corporate spy? He needs to find out what old CEO she works for he didn’t see the name on the black card but it shouldn’t be too hard to find out which old pervert hired her. 

     They arrive back at Cui’s residence, LiMei knocks at the door. Hong Cui answers looking around her for Leng Shuai. She can see he is a few steps behind, did they have a fight Feng LiMei has a gloomy look on her face. “Come in the cook and I  have prepared dinner.” She shows them to the dining room, LiMei decides she will ask for the map if it doesn’t look too difficult she will leave after dinner. “Miss Hong I wonder if I could trouble you for a minute.” Leng Shuai sits at a table wondering what she wants to discuss right now with Hong Cui.

     “Certainly, let me give Mr. Leng a menu first,“Mr. Leng”, she hands him a menu smiling she has changed into a simple blue dress that accentuates her curves she leans over pointing to the specialty items. “The server will be right over.” LiMei smirks these big chested women love putting their assets in men’s faces, she notices Leng Shuai’s face is very close to her cleavage. Men..so predictable.

     “Yes, what did you need?”

     LiMei walks with her to an empty table, “I would like to see if your brother is available to guide me down the mountain. Also your father said you could give me some hiking boots and appropriate clothes. I will pay you of course. Lastly, I need a map of the mountain and route to the river. He said a boatman can take me from there to the nearest town.”

     “My brother is in the north taking some hikers to a remote area he won’t be back until Sunday. Of course I can give you some of my clothes, and I have maps for sale. I can only take cash in payment right now.”

     “Could you possibly get them for me now I want to eat and go to sleep early to leave. I will pay now.”

    LiMei looks in her wallet it can’t cost more than a few thousand yuan can it? If it will she will sell the knife to Leng Shuai if he has cash.

     “Come with me.” Hong Cui leads her down a hallway, this is your room I will be back in a moment with the items you need.”

     LiMei sits on the bed, the room is decorated with some ancient style paintings on the wall. It has a dresser and she bounces on the bed, it is comfortable. But she can’t afford a room, the clothes and map. She will definitely leave after dinner and tell Hong Cui she is staying in Leng Shuai’s room.

     Hong Cui returns carrying a jacket, blouse, pants and boots. She sets them down on the dresser, walking over towards LiMei she hands her the map and an invoice, LiMei looks it over. “Miss Hong I will pay you for the clothes and map but I don’t need this room I am sharing a room with my fiance Leng Suai. Or is this our room?, 

     Yes make this our room since I sat on the bed.” Hong Cui’s face pales, she is his fiancee? LiMei continues “I’m going to rest for a minute before I go to the dining room, no need to inform Leng Shuai. I mentioned to him I am going to lie down for awhile and to eat without me.”

     After Hong Cui leaves LiMei looks over the map, it shouldn’t be too difficult there is a path that leads down the mountain, the only problem is hiking in the dark also there will be nocturnal animals looking for food. It looks like there is a dangerous section midway where there is a waterfall and some steep cliffs. She carefully studies the map, this can’t be worse than some of the jungle training I had to endure.

     LiMei sees this room has a bathroom included, she takes off her clothes and gets into the shower,  she wants to remove any scent she might have from her lotion or shampoo. She bought a special soap at the town store.

     When she is finished she takes the clothes Hong Cui brought her, they are a little big but she ties the shirt and takes the belt from her dress to use it to tighten the pants. No socks that is going to be uncomfortable, but the boots fit rather well.

      Once she is dressed she brushes her long hair tying it up with a ribbon she tore off her dress sleeve. Putting her purse and dress into her backpack, she then fills the water bottle up from the sink in the bathroom. She sees the white jade necklace on the counter, shit I almost forgot that! Ready!

     LiMei goes down the hallway towards the kitchen, maybe she can grab some food from the cook, she still has some cash, her stomach is growling. Entering the kitchen she sees an elderly woman by the stove, dumplings! They smell very delicious, “Grandma I need to leave in a hurry I was a guest, could I pay you for some dumplings, a bottle of wine? She sees a bottle of wine over by a rack, wine sounds good she could make a fire then relax halfway down the mountain maybe by the waterfall. The old lady is hard of hearing and her eyesight is bad, what did the little girl say? “Eh?”

    LiMei gets closer to her, “Dumplings and wine?”

     “Take it.” Grandma Hong thinks it is her grand daughter Ning. “Give grandma a hug.”

     LiMei hugs the old lady,“Thank you Grandma!”

     LiMei sets some money on the counter then wraps some dumplings. Grabbing the wine she places them into her backpack. She leaves quietly  through the back door of the kitchen waving to the old woman.

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