She remained unmoving in his arms. Seeing that she had calmed down, Ruan Zhan gently released her. Although he couldn’t see her, he could feel her aura. It was the existence he held fondly in his heart that he longed for night and day. There was no mistake!
Although he released her, they still stood very close to each other. They were so close smell each other’s scent and sense each other’s presence.
Ruan Zhan felt their current state was dangerously ambiguous and took a step back. Unexpectedly, Xiao Xia suddenly pounced over and hugged him desperately, sticking close to him, feeling his warm, sturdy body and strong heartbeat.
“Is it really you?” She choked.
It was only two words, but they caused Xiao Xia’s face to be covered in tears. All the fear and despair in her heart turned into a warming force that filled her heart, mind, soul, all of her!
Ruan Zhan raised his hand, accurately cupping her face. Her face was completely wet. The ice cold yet exquisite sensation gave rise to an extremely tender emotion within him. Like flood water breaking through a dam, his feelings burst through his calm and reason as if they weren’t even there.
Perhaps his heart had heated up as he fervently called her name along the way. Now, she was his whole world. Any danger, any ghosts and ghouls, seemed to be nonexistent.
He loved her so much! Although he didn’t know when it started, but he remembered his heart skipping a beat for the first time she cupped his face with concern and distress beneath the dormitory building of T University during the Bloody Mary case. He remembered she was the first person to pick him up with an umbrella in the rain. He remembered her yelling at the Yuki-Onna “I had my eyes on this man first”. He remembered her grief and timidity when she tried to confess her feelings and he acted oblivious. He remembered their “cohabitation” at City A. He remembered her considerate tenderness beneath her normally rowdy demeanor.
Bit by bit, he had engraved her into his heart during their many life and death experiences together. She had become the only warmth in that seemingly frozen heart of his!
He had struggled against it before, but it was completely useless. The more he forced himself to keep away, the more he wanted to get close. That sort of longing and torment left him restless. His heart was like a volcano. Although normally calm, there was boiling magma within!
His hand lingered on her soft cheek. He couldn’t help but lower his head, sensing her breathing getting closer and closer. He drew so close that the slightest movement would make their lips touch.
“Xiao Xia…Xiao Xia…” He repeatedly murmured. Although she was right in his arms, he still pined for her as lovers might even when they were next to each other.
“Ruan Zhan…” Xiao Xia said his name quietly. Her lips almost touched his as she spoke, and he had to use all his strength to prevent himself from immediately closing the almost imperceptible distance.
“It’s me…” He seemed to be trembling!
“I need to prove it.”
Xiao Xia responded. She visibly hesitated for a moment before moving forward by just a centimeter, pressing her lips to Ruan Zhan’s.
“I love you!”
She spoke the words against his lips she had always wanted to say to him, making Ruan Zhan feel the suffering and sweetness of having his heart stolen away!
She loves him! This was the first time in his life that someone he longed for also seriously loved him back. An insuppressible warm current welled up from his heart.
Her lips were soft, wet and exceptionally dainty, making him fervently reciprocate. Although he sensed she wanted to draw back, he refused to let go, intertwining her warmth with the cold in his heart. He had lost all his reasoning in the blink of an eye as every fiber of his being focused on her lips!
They kissed passionately, completely forgetting where they were. They only had each other in their hearts. This lasted until Ruan Zhan released her, panting, embracing her tightly instead.
Touching her had been a mistake!
Ruan Zhan buried his face in Xiao Xia’s beautiful hair, greedily breathing in her unique fragrance! He also loved her. He loved her extremely. But he didn’t have the right to do so. He hadn’t expected to lose himself the moment he pulled her into his arms when he sensed she was nearby.
What was he to do moving forward?
A sharp giggle rang out from the fog, making the two immediately split apart. Their tender feelings were also swiftly withdrawn. Xiao Xia shivered, instinctively trying to pull Ruan Zhan with her and run. However, she was pulled protectively behind him.
Ruan Zhan stood calmly in place. He pictured his surroundings as the face of a clock. The sound had come from the 2 o’clock direction. Once he realized this, he send a lightning palm shooting over!
As the blue sparks exploded, an inhumanly sharp scream rang out. At the same time, a large clearing opened up in the fog. Although the fog immediately closed again, Xiao Xia had still seen a female ghost with bedraggled hair floating away like a rag.
When the lightning palm cleared the fog, Xiao Xia had also seen something strange. They were in the middle of a street that seemed to be the intended commercial area. Since the city was still uninhabited, there shouldn’t have been any signs of civilization. However, Xiao Xia had seen that the street was bustling with activity. Various people were going about, buying and selling. Children were chasing each other, elderly people were chatting, and as she watched, a married couple had walked passed her!
However, these people’s features were blurred and indistinct, and their clothes were also very old-fashioned. Furthermore, none of their actions made any noise!
Ruan Zhan keenly sensed Xiao Xia’s abnormality. “What is it?” he asked.
“Didn’t you see it?” Xiao Xia was a little surprised. She peeked around his shoulders to look at his face.
He was someone with an innate Yinyang Eye and strong spirit power. There was no way she saw something he didn’t, unless she was under an illusion. Yet she was right next to him. No one would dare cast an illusion at her!
As she looked doubtfully at Ruan Zhan, she realized something was wrong. When they ran into each other, she hadn’t seen whom it was thought he was Shuan Zhu. Then came that passionate kiss which left her intoxicated and bashful, so she hadn’t looked closely at his face. Now that she did, she realized he was sickly pale and his eyes didn’t have their usual gleam. They merely stared straight in one direction.
“What’s wrong with you?” She moved around to his front and cupped his face habitually.
Ruan Zhan liked the feeling of her palm against him, but he still moved his head away. “Nothing, I’ll recover.”
Yet the more he downplayed things, the more anxious she became. “You encountered trouble when entering the town, right?” She pulled at his neck, forcing him to lower his head. However, they were too close, making him want to kiss her again.
“What’s wrong with your eyes?” She was completely focused on his injuries. “You must have suffered an attack for the sake of coming in to find me, right? Gosh, this is all my fault!”
She hugged him once again. “I’m a born misfortune magnet and screwup. It’d be so much better if you let me be. That way you wouldn’t get hurt. It’s all my fault, I keep getting you involved. You should have just ignored me from the beginning. That way, you’d definitely still be peacefully and happily tending your bar. You wouldn’t have to do things you hate against your wishes! It’s all my fault!”
“It isn’t like that.” Ruan Zhan pulled Xiao Xia away and spoke very seriously. “The reason you keep encountering supernatural cases is because you have a sensitive constitution that makes it easy to communicate with spirits. You’re also softhearted, and inadvertently end up calling them over. They want your help, and you truly end up helping them. If doing good is a mistake, then would there still be anything that’s not a mistake?”
“But…I keep getting you involved.”
“No, this time it was me who got you involved. Si Ma Nan is responsible for all this.” Ruan Zhan couldn’t help but stroke her hair. “My injuries are no concern. I was merely ambushed by Si Ma Nan as I was breaking the barrier. Some of my abilities and my sight have been sealed. They’ll recover once we get out.”
“You’re just trying to make me feel better!”
“No, I’m telling the truth. I swear I will recover. You don’t have to worry.” Ruan Zhan pulled Xiao Xia into his arms again, but this time it wasn’t just out of passion. He also wanted to discuss things with her without being overheard. However, since the majority of his powers have been sealed, the barriers he could set up were rather limited. Therefore, he could only do this.
His eyes could no longer see the ordinary world and his Yinyang Eye couldn’t see the supernatural. However, he gradually felt that they were on a “busy” street. Therefore, he used his remaining abilities to conceal his and Xiao Xia’s aura, making those things temporarily lose track of them.
“Now we’re good.” Ruan Zhan composed himself and did his best to turn his thoughts to the matter at hand. “First, tell me why Ah Bai isn’t with you.”
Hearing her name made Xiao Xia’s heart constrict. “I don’t know. She had been with me the entire time. But when we slid down from the hill into the city, I fell unconscious for a while. When I woke up, she was gone!”
“Unconscious? You were injured? Where?”
“It’s nothing, just a scraped shoulder.” She instinctively shrunk her left shoulder back, making Ruan Zhan immediately realize where she was hurt.
“I should have followed you more closely.” He felt both distress and guilt as he stroked her shoulder.
“It’s all the same since you’re here now.” Xiao Xia rubbed her face comfortably against his chest. “But where would Ah Bai have gone? She wouldn’t just leave without telling me. I’m afraid something might have happened to her!”
“She’s a spirit, so theoretically she should be fine. But the resentful aura is very heavy here, which might cause her harm. However, she was someone impressive while she was alive, and should be able to protect herself. You don’t need to worry to much. Once the matter is finished, everything will return to normal.”
“But, what is going on here?”
“There must have been a huge injustice that involved many people.” Ruan Zhan sighed. “From what I see, this matter was successfully covered up and the resentful spirits had also been suppressed secretly in this town. Based on Hongqing Town’s “situation”, things would have probably been resolved a month later. Unfortunately, Si Ma Nan used the situation and released the resentful spirits. He also sealed the town. He’s trying to deal with me!”
“Then those people are all innocent?” Xiao Xia recalled the cruel killings and shivered in Ruan Zhan’s arms. “Six have already died.”
She then told him in detail what had happened after entering the city.
Ruan Zhan listened carefully. He considered for a moment before sneering. “Innocent? That might not be the case! I have a feeling that apart from you who got dragged into this because of me, everyone here is related to this hidden matter to some extent.”