The brother

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Hooney's lethal pose reminded everyone how dangerous and deadly he is. He made sure everyone was aware he's the Governor-general and he's in command of the entire province.

"Leave!" Snarled Hooney in one clear command that sent all the men before him trembling in fear.

Hooney is the most powerful man in this provincial district. The Minister of Defense demand does not supersede his authority. Hooney answer to one man and that is the emperor himself.

Hooney keenly made it clear he would not be forgiving next time, and he will unleash his punishment to whoever challenge his authority.

The police came for me without evidence, only by mere demand of an angry and grieving man who happened to be one of the most powerful in the nation. Hooney did not care whether he's his late wife's father. No one is going to get near his concubine.

A meeting was held and threats were made, at the end of the confrontation, Hooney's father in law left the manor enraged and seething in anger. He made it clear to Hooney, the eighth prince will be made aware and so is the emperor.

The Prime Minister of Defense made the lucrative claim that he's influential enough that could have Hooney thrown out of his position as the Governor-general which only made Hooney snort.

"Try it."

"I'm with an alliance with the emperor! I'll see to it that you will no longer hold power in this dynasty after I get back to the palace! You made a mistake, Hooney!" His father in law snarled. "We could have been great allies."

"I have many great allies," Hooney replied. "Losing you will not cost me anything."

Li He stayed with me, he occasionally peeked through the crack of the door watching the progress of the uproar.

He said nothing, his mind was consumed with the hysteria outside, jumpy as though he's hiding something from the rest of us.

"Calm down Li He, stop freaking out. Hooney had everything under control." I told him after I watched him bounced around restless.

He turned to me, my voice startled him as if he'd forgotten I was in the room with him. "I'm calm. Don't worry about me."

Hooney stayed in his office consumed with anger. His talk with his father in law didn't go well, screams and bellows were heard from inside his office that sent everyone in the manor skittering inside their quarters, and behind closed doors – terrified of what's going on.

I was afraid to come to see Hooney, so I stayed in my quarter, nervous and scared. Li He began to leave as soon as he knew the police and the investigators had all left.

He slid the door open and stepped out but I grabbed onto his arm and begged for him to stay, at least until Hooney get back. I didn't want to be alone, there are people after me, wanting to jail me for a crime I didn't commit. "I'm scared, don't leave."

"Hui?" He whispered and started getting back in when I noticed deep scratches in his arm. Li he quickly snatched his arm away and told me to get back.

I stumbled a few steps backward, my chest tightened rattled with shock, it felt like my chest about exploded. I was stunned at how my brother can commit such a heinous crime. I knew Li He, we grew up together. He's gentle as a lamb. "What did you do?"

His face twisted, menacing as the devil's scowl and made me withdrew the rest of the way back, afraid of my own brother.

"It's okay Hui." He pressed a disturbing smile. "No one is going to hurt you anymore. No one is going to take advantage of me anymore. I took care of it."

I felt suffocated, this couldn't be happening. Not Li He, not my brother. He'd been good to me, to his wife, he did nothing wrong. His mind had been corrupted by evil. Li He had been seduced and taken advantage by Niang. Li He did things against his will – all to protect what matters to him.

His anger consumed him, ate him – until he acted on it.

"Li He…" I stammered.

"I have to go, Hui. I need to come home to Jiaying. I haven't seen my wife for a long time."

I swallowed hard and forced myself to act normal as if I haven't figured anything out. As though I didn't know anything. I pretended.

"Ah, yes. Jiaying has gotta be missing you by now." My voice trembled, and I felt the prick of terror rippled through my skin. I forced myself walking up to him.

He looked at me, his eyes glimmered with the same fondness even though they weren't the same innocent stare anymore. I reached out to him for a hug. "Tell Jiaying I said hi."

"I will." He murmured over my head and released me.

Li He stepped out of my quarter and I didn't stop him this time, hoping I won't see him for a while.

*****
Writer's note: noticed I stopped calling Hooney duke and renamed his title governor-general. It is a more accurate title in Chinese rank.

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