Secrets

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In months, the manor slowly recovered from Niang's murder. The morale remained low, but people returned to their normal routine. The investigation to Niang's murder remained open even though the authorities still has yet to name a suspect. Nobody knew who killed her and Hooney's name had been cleared along with mine. We were together in bed at the night of Niang's murder and the servants attested to that. Everyone knew Hooney slept in my bed every night.

Li He's name never came up on the investigation, it is as if he was a ghost and no one ever knew he existed or even spent years working as Hooney's adviser. It was the strangest thing, people never talked about him, and he never came up in any conversation.

I have a feeling Hooney had a lot to do with it and he had more control with how the investigation progressed. Each day I spent as his wife, I learned more things about him, his influence, the extent of his power and authority that extended way beyond I could comprehend.

My quiet worry for Li He rattled my mind, there's not a day I don't think about him. Where he is, and how he's doing. Li He was not himself when he left the manor and I'm afraid he remained out of it without anyone looking after him. I think Hooney knew Li He occupied my thoughts, and my obvious restlessness is apparent that he can see it overwhelmed me.

"Stop stressing, Hui. I drive me nuts watching you pace around back and forth."

I paused and turned to him, unaware of my own pacing. "I'm sorry."

He breathed and put his paperwork down. "What is it that's bothering you?"

"Li He," I told him. "Do you know where Li He is?"

Hooney leaned back to his seat and dragged his face with his hand. He looked at me, Hooney seemed more stressed and exhausted than anything else. I could tell Li He isn't the subject he'd like to talk about, but my brother is bound to surface in our conversation whether we liked it or not and there's no point avoiding it.

"Li He left the manor on his own accord. I have been lenient to your brother. In most cases, an adviser who failed to perform and neglected his duties would have been jailed by now."

Hooney teetered careful with his words.

I bit my lips and gritted my teeth behind closed lips, my breathing deepened, and I felt rage ignited in my chest. I've never been angry at Hooney. I don't want to harbor all this negative feeling for him, but this time I knew there are things he's not telling me and it frustrated me when he held things from me.

"He's my brother! I deserve to know how's he's doing and where he is. I know you know where he is."

Hooney glared at me, and narrowed his eyes, I refused to sink under his dominance or be afraid of my own husband. I held his stare firmly.

He softened his glare and sucked a deep breath. He got up and walked around his desk, making his way to me. His gentle grasp wrapped around my arm and sat me down on a chair.

Hooney poured me a cold cup of tea that's been sitting on his table for a while now.

"Please calm down. I'm trying my best to guide things to his best interest, but I'm not a magician." He fell quiet for a moment. "I do things for you, and that means taking care of your family too."

"What do you mean you're not a magician?"

"Li He made choices he's paying right now. There's only so much I could do."

I don't understand why Hooney needed to talk so vague. "What're you talking about?"

"Oh, I think you do. You understand a lot more than you do. The lives of powerful men and politicians are a lot more complicated than you know. You'll find out that there are things that needed to be done even though it's against your set of mind. When I told you, I could be harsh to the people who deserved it, I didn't lie."

"B-but, Li He, he's a victim." I murmured.

"Everyone is a victim at one point, Hui." Hooney touched my cheek and kissed it. "I don't think it's best for you to see him at his current state."

"Don't tell me what's good and not good for me."

"Hui..."

I ignored him and walked out of his office. He didn't chase after me, letting me cool off on my own. I headed for the stable to pick up a horse. I wanted to see Li He, I wanted to check on him, and I didn't tell Hooney where I was going when I left the manor by myself.

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