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Shi Jin sighed again, amazed.
He gathered his thoughts and opened the second file.
Another two pictures jumped out, the same as before.
The man’s appearance was both familiar and not: his eyes were like Shi Xingrui’s, but his features resembled the woman in the second photo.
He looked cold and hard to approach.
Surprised, Shi Jin had to think for a moment before he realized this was the second eldest brother, Fei Yujing, the only one he hadn’t met yet.
Fei Yujing was a lawyer, traveling around the world handling cases.
Shi Jin examined the man in the photo, who wore a smile but had indifferent eyes.
He frowned—in the original ‘Shi Jin’s’ memory, his second brother appeared kind and tolerant.
This Fei Yujing seemed to present different faces to different people.
Or rather, he presented a different face to the original ‘Shi Jin.’ His kindness was, unfortunately, nothing but a mask concealing Fei Yujing’s true feelings.
Shi Jin looked at the picture a moment longer, then shifted his gaze to the other one.
This was the photo of Fei Yujing’s mother, a woman of yet another type.
While Shi Weichong’s mother was a glamorous beauty and Li Jiuzheng’s mother gentle, Fei Yujing’s mother was a “goddess”—a perfect ice queen, whether in appearance or temperament.
It looked like Shi Xingrui had no particular type.
Shi Jin doubted his previous speculation more and more.
As he read further, his frown deepened.
Fei Yujing’s mother, Fei Lin, was born in a scholarly family from N City, which had fallen on hard times.
Her parents were an unknown painter and a calligraphy teacher.
Fei Lin, however, had no interest in either—she chose to become a dancer.
She first met Shi Xingrui during a free public performance.
At the time, she was a promising, highly regarded newcomer, and he, a successful entrepreneur in the prime of his life.
They fell in love at first sight, started to live together a month later, and Fei Lin became pregnant two months after that.
Then, Shi Xingrui left N City for an extended business trip, expanding the company, while Fei Lin abandoned her dancing career and returned to her parents’ home to bear and raise her child.
The two separated just like that.
After Fei Yujing was born, Shi Xingrui went to N City to meet with Fei Lin once.
Afterward, they apparently didn’t keep in touch.
Around the same time Fei Lin discovered she was pregnant, the impoverished Fei family unexpectedly found a valuable painting passed down from their ancestors.
After selling it, the family’s economic situation improved considerably.
Fei Lin’s father used the money to set up an art gallery, and her mother opened a calligraphy school.
Then, as if their life turned into a movie: the gallery kept growing bigger and bigger, and was now one of the top galleries in the industry.
Fei Lin’s father’s paintings also sold at high prices.
The calligraphy school gained prestige and earned a lot of money.
Compared with her parents, Fei Lin was much more low-key.
She stopped dancing and moved abroad, devoting herself to raising Fei Yujing.
She never returned to China.
Now, she resided in a picturesque little town in a foreign country, living in seclusion.
There was no recent photo of Fei Lin in the file; most probably, she rarely allowed to have her pictures be taken.
Except for her son, she seemed to have little interest in the outside world.
When Shi Jin finished reading Fei Lin’s information, he silently questioned Fei Lin and Shi Xingrui’s “love at first sight.”
Looking at the timeline, it was likely she and Shi Xingrui had a deal: she gave him a son, and he lent her family a hand, helping her parents achieve the success they dreamed of.
Of course, this was only Shi Jin’s guess—only the parties involved knew what really happened that year.
He sorted out the information in his head then moved on to the third part.
Not surprisingly, it began with pictures of Rong Zhouzhong and a woman.
Shi Jin ignored his brother’s glamorous photo and looked at his mother.
The woman in the picture had a pair of seductive eyes, a smooth, oval face, and a somewhat coquettish expression—she was a born temptress.
Rong Zhouzhong was very similar to his mother, but as a man, he tended to suppress this natural charm.
Shi Jin was now confident he had guessed wrong—Shi Xingrui didn’t have a preference.
He was more like a collector, picking women of different types and having a child with each.
He was like a protagonist of wish-fulfillment type of novels—a harem novel, in this case.
Heaving yet another sigh, Shi Jin slid his finger over the screen, scrolling down to reveal the information underneath.
Rong Zhouzhong’s mother’s name was Rong Xili.
She was born in a small county town, and even in her childhood, her beauty was striking.
As a teenager, she became an actress by chance, but her popularity wasn’t that great.
Her repertoire was limited—eight out of ten characters she played were villainesses.
At a business event, Shi Xingrui, who at the time was already a big boss, took a fancy to her.
He kept her for a while and even spent some money to help her gain popularity.
A few months later, pregnant Rong Xili temporarily retired from the entertainment industry, and the newly gathered popularity dissipated as quickly as it appeared.
Nine months later, soon after Rong Zhouzhong was born, Shi Xingrui patted his ass and left, ending his relationship with Rong Xili.
He still had some conscience left, however, and heavily invested in a movie where Rong Xili played the main role.
This movie made Rong Xili famous and earned her several large awards.
Yet, instead of taking advantage of the favorable winds to push her career further, she chose to retire backstage and started her own entertainment company.
Now, decades later, it had become one of the giants in the industry.
Rong Xili’s acting life ended at the peak of her career and was long forgotten.
So not only is Rong Zhouzhong a movie emperor, but his mother was a movie queen too? He’s actually a second-generation superstar?
Shi Jin passed his hand over his face, frustrated because of all the information the novel’s plot lacked.
For a person in the entertainment circle, it was almost impossible to hide anything about his or her lives.
However, there was no information about Rong Zhouzhong’s mother in the original ‘Shi Jin’s’ memory.
Was it because Shi Xingrui coddled ‘him’ too much, or because ‘he’ hadn’t paid any attention to this matter?
Shi Jin wasn’t any better.
He infiltrated Rong Zhouzong’s fan network to get information about him and even contacted the stalker fans, yet he didn’t know the man’s mother used to be an actress.
He took a moment to reflect on his mistakes then opened the file with the information on Xiang Aoting’s mother.
She was a dignified, intelligent-looking woman with beauty that easily caught eyes.
It was a pity Xiang Aoting inherited his father’s looks, not his mother’s demure elegance.
This time, Shi Jin only gave the pictures a cursory glance and focused on what followed.
Xiang Aoting’s mother, Xiang Qing, was born in G City.
Her parents were a policeman and a nurse, the occupations which gave people a sense of security.
Xiang Qing studied in a teacher’s college.
If she’d been able to graduate, she would’ve become an excellent teacher.
Unfortunately, she failed to complete her studies.
In her junior year, her father lost his life while on duty.
Her mother fell ill, and her underage sister became emotionally unstable.
To take care of them, she dropped out of college.
Later the same year, she met Shi Xingrui.
The same old routine followed: they fell in love at first sight, began to live together, and at the beginning of the following year, she became pregnant.
However, probably because taking care of her mother and sister had exhausted her too much, she miscarried in the third month of pregnancy.
Shi Xingrui’s wave of hand sent Xiang Qing’s mother and sister to the best hospitals and sanatoriums, then he settled her in a splendid residence, like a pampered mistress.
Half a year later, she was pregnant again.
Her sister recovered from her mental issues, returned to school, and devoted herself to studying, and their mother’s illness also improved.
Slowly, the family’s situation took a turn for the better.
Once it was certain Xiang Qing’s pregnancy wasn’t in danger, Shi Xingrui had no qualms to leave.
He returned only to take a look at the newly born Xiang Aoting, then broke off all contact with Xiang Qing.
The year Xiang Aoting was born, Xiang Qing’s sister got a priceless admission spot for a top university.
After that, her life went smoothly.
She worked hard to complete the advanced studies and was now in charge of an important official research project with a large number of talents working under her.
When she spoke, the scientific community didn’t ignore her.
Xiang Qing herself took up her studies again after giving birth and was a university teacher.
Both sisters remained unmarried.
They devoted all their energy to their careers, and all their love and care to Xiang Aoting.
Shi Jin examined the recent photos of Xiang Aoting’s mother and her sister, the frown never leaving his face.
The scent of a deal was intensifying more and more.
He promptly looked at the next part, wanting to confirm this feeling.
It was about Li Jiuzheng’s mother, Li Yuewei.
Her appearance was of the meek and lovable type, and it was easy to notice her character was also weak.
She was a native of Chengdu; her family ran a small hotel and was fairly well off.
She met Shi Xingrui during a public lecture at her university.
As a successful businessman, he was invited to be a guest speaker.
She’d volunteered to help out and was welcoming visitors.
According to the data, they fell in love soon after they met.
A few months later, Li Yuewei became pregnant and, despite her parents’ opposition, kept the child and dropped out of university.
Right after that, she moved into the house Shi Xingrui bought for her.
For a time, he was very fond of her and spoiled her almost to the point of giving her everything she wished for, but this pampering came to an abrupt end after Li Jiuzheng was born.
Li Yuewei still had anything she wanted, but she couldn’t see Shi Xingrui anymore—that’s right, the man yet again patted his butt and left.
She kept waiting for him to come back to Chengdu and see her—he didn’t bother.
She attempted to find him on her own, but he refused to meet her.
Every time she tried, he snubbed Li Jiuzheng.
Gradually, Li Yuewei stopped looking for Shi Xingrui and stayed in Chengdu, waiting for him.
Shi Jin felt something was strange and read this part over and over again.
Yes, there was no indication of a deal.
Unlike the others, Li Yuewei’s family didn’t get any benefit from Shi Xingrui, either when they were together or after Li Jiuzheng was born.
Her parents sold their hotel years ago to gain money to support themselves in their old age.
Shi Xingrui provided financial aid to the families of his earlier women, but the Li family was an exception.
Shi Jin frowned.
He went through the information again and discovered the common point: the mothers of his first four brothers decisively broke all contact and didn’t come looking for Shi Xingrui after he left them, but Li Yuewei didn’t.
She loved Shi Xingrui too much and couldn’t stand being abandoned; she wanted to get him back.
Was this why the Li family didn’t get anything? Because Li Yuewei was too clingy?
Shi Jin’s expression distorted.
Unlike the other women, Li Yuewei didn’t seem to have made a deal with Shi Xingrui.
It looked more as if she had been deceived and taken advantage of.
Shi Xingrui was not only a womanizer, but he was also a true and utter scum…
A pair of chopsticks suddenly appeared in front of Shi Jin’s eyes, interrupting his thoughts.
After a pause, he looked up at the person who held them.
Lian Jun waved the chopsticks, motioning to the breakfast that had appeared on the rattan table at some point.
He said, “Eat something before you continue.”
“Oh… Thank you.” Shi Jin took the chopsticks and glanced at the steaming hot dishes.
His mind slowly emerged from the conundrum of the past, and he apologized, embarrassed: “I’m sorry, I was so absorbed in reading that I forgot you hadn’t eaten breakfast yet.”
“It’s all right.” Lian Jun poured him a glass of juice and pushed the plate closer to him.
“Eat quickly, cold food isn’t good for your stomach.”
Shi Jin hummed in reply and obediently took a sip of the juice.
Then, he realized Lian Jun’s words sounded familiar—wasn’t this what he always said to the man during meals? And what the heck, had Lian Jun ordered breakfast for him? He even handed him the chopsticks and poured the juice?
Right now, was Lian Jun waiting on him? He actually let his own boss wait on himself during breakfast!
“Cough cough cough—” Frightened by what his brain had made up, Shi Jin choked on the juice.
He covered his mouth and started to cough intensively.
Lian Jun looked at him and reached for the napkin.
He pulled the teenager’s hand away, then wiped his mouth and hands stained with the juice, his actions fluid.
“Eat slowly, no one is rushing you,” he admonished, kindly pushing a few dishes closer to him.
Shi Jin was stiff.
He recalled the feeling of Lian Jun’s hand carefully wiping his face and poked Xiao Si in his mind like mad, asking nervously: “What’s wrong with Lian Jun? How come he’s acting so gentle and caring to his subordinates? Did he eat something weird?”
Xiao Si replied happily,
Shi Jin fell silent and decided to banish his system to the “black house” to let it calm down.
He took a look at Lian Jun’s face, but the man’s expression was the same as usual.
Suspecting he’d overreacted, he shook his head and concentrated on eating.
After breakfast, Shi Jin proposed they take a walk and look around the island.
Lian Jun said he had something urgent to deal with, but they could go in the afternoon.
Shi Jin immediately realized Lian Jun’s refusal was in consideration of his desire to finish reading.
Though he didn’t say anything, Lian Jun’s thoughtfulness touched him.
He accompanied Lian Jun to the large study and helped him settle down, flattering him now and then, then returned to his small study and picked up the tablet.
After turning it on and going over the information again, he remembered he didn’t finish reading about Li Jiuzheng’s mother.
He skimmed through what was left—it was mostly about Li Jiuzheng’s youth.
According to it, Li Jiuzheng enjoyed the best resources and received the best care since birth.
After deciding to study medicine, he quickly became the disciple of a famous doctor, Elder Sun from Chengdu.
None of these had been within Li Yuewei or the Li family’s power or means.
There was more—because Li Yuewei wasn’t able to take care of him, and her mental condition was a bit unstable, Li Jiuzheng was taken care of by the nannies.
These nannies were all sent by Shi Xingrui.
The information also said that after Li Jiuzheng was accepted by Elder Sun as his apprentice, his family’s situation gradually became better.
Li Jiuzheng’s opening of a private clinic was possible thanks to his master’s funding and support.
Shi Jin thought he understood why the information about Li Jiuzheng had been added—it was to tell him that while the Li family didn’t get anything from Shi Xingrui, he cultivated Li Jiuzheng.
Then he, as the Elder Sun’s disciple, helped them out.
With this, Shi Jin finished reading the information about his brothers’ mothers.
He looked at the last file, pretty sure he knew what it was about.
He hesitated a little before opening it.
Two pictures appeared.
One was a photo of the original ‘Shi Jin’ as a child, the other belonged to a delicate young woman.
She looked gentle and had a kind expression on her face.
Shi Jin sighed—sure enough, it was ‘Shi Jin’s’ mother.
He didn’t ask Lian Jun to check this for him, but Lian Jun still did thoughtfully.
She was beautiful; her features, either alone or combined, were almost perfect.
It was the kind of timeless beauty that transcended both standards and personal preferences.
Shi Jin’s mood was complicated.
He looked exactly the same as this world’s ‘Shi Jin,’ but he didn’t know what his own mother looked like: he was adopted.
Though his adoptive parents loved him very much, he didn’t resemble them at all, so from an early age, he knew he wasn’t their natural child.
Since he and the original ‘Shi Jin’ were identical, wouldn’t his biological mother look the same as this ‘Shi Jin’s’ mother too…
“Xiao Si, why do we look so similar? Even the small beauty mark on our noses is the same.
Do you know the reason?” He couldn’t help asking.
The system was quiet as if it didn’t hear his question.
Guessing he wouldn’t get an answer, Shi Jin fell silent too.
He gazed at the photo for a while, spellbound, then shook himself and began to read.
The original ‘Shi Jin’s’ mother’s name was Yun Jin.
She had been abandoned as a baby and grew up in an orphanage in a small town.
Shi Xingrui met her when she was about to leave and live independently.
She really was special.
Shi Xingrui had been obsessed with her since the moment he saw her; he even stopped all business to stay in that small town for half a year.
Only after he won her over did he return to B City, taking her with him.
When they got together, Shi Xingrui radiated happiness.
He announced Yun Jin as his fiancee and even ordered a wedding ring and dress, ready to marry her.
Unfortunately, before wedding preparations were complete, Yun Jin unexpectedly became pregnant.
Shi Xingrui, afraid she’d tire herself out, suspended the wedding, and put away his scummy nature.
Like a genuinely loving, doting husband, he accompanied and personally took care of Yun Jin during her entire pregnancy.
After Shi Jin was born, Shi Xingrui didn’t abandon him like his older sons—on the contrary, he added a “doting dad” title to the one of “doting husband.”
However, this idyllic time didn’t last long—Yun Jin died shortly after giving birth to Shi Jin.
Shi Xingrui was depressed for some time and cheered up only after it was time to give Shi Jin his name.
From then on, he always kept him by his side, carefully raised him, and never looked for a lover again.
Shi Jin whispered these two names, “Yun Jin” and “Shi Jin.” He hid his face in his hands for a moment, then rubbed it hard.
It was undeniable that for Shi Xingrui, the original ‘Shi Jin’ and ‘his’ mother were indeed special.
It was just that he couldn’t understand why.
Simply because Yun Jin was heart-stoppingly beautiful? Was the scum man’s nature so easy to change? Though Yun Jin was easy on the eyes, she wasn’t that much better-looking than the other five women.
So why on earth?
Unconsciously, he enlarged her picture again and scrutinized the gentle and beautiful woman in the photo.
He examined her eyes, which were similar to those of Li Jiuzheng’s mother, then his gaze slowly wandered around her face.
Suddenly, he sat up straight and stared at the photo, a startled look in his eyes.
Wait a second, this… Li Yuewei wasn’t the only one Yun Jin looked similar to.
Her mouth was almost like Rong Zhouzhong’s mother’s, pouty and inviting kisses, except Rong Xili’s lips were fuller.
Yun Jin’s lips were a little thinner and their color a bit lighter.
Perhaps, Shi Jin grasped a clue at last.
Shi Jin opened the pictures of his brothers’ mothers and carefully compared them with ‘his’ mother one by one.
Finally, he imported the photos from the tablet to his laptop and ran a facial recognition software.
An hour later, Shi Jin looked at the pictures of six woman on the screen, each completely analyzed, feeling numb.
Except for Shi Weichong’s mother, the other four resembled Yun Jin to some degree, though it wasn’t always obvious at first glance.
For example, Fei Lin.
She and Yun Jin weren’t similar at all, but if they turned their heads a little and tilted them at a particular angle, the shape of their faces looked almost identical.
In Rong Xili’s case, it was more noticeable—her lips were almost the same.
Xiang Qing—her nose and profile were very similar.
There was no need to mention Li Yuewei’s eyes.
“In the end, what was Shi Xingrui doing…” Shi Jin collapsed on the sofa, his eyes still on the laptop screen.
His vague hunch turned out to be the truth.
“Was he looking for someone’s replacement? And wanted his child to look like that person?” Was that why his brothers were abandoned—because there was no resemblance?
He came to a sudden, terrible realization—all six of Shi Xingrui’s children were male.
Statistically speaking, something like this bordered on impossible.
He then remembered Xiang Qing’s first child, which she’d lost due to miscarriage, and felt his blood run cold.
If this miscarriage wasn’t natural but man-made… Had Shi Xingrui been looking for a woman resembling a certain man? And wanted to have a son with her, to recreate the other party’s appearance?
Yun Jin, who was special for Shi Xingrui, and her son… Shi Jin’s heart trembled.
He felt as if there was a huge conspiracy hanging over his head, waiting to swallow him up.
It made him sick to his stomach.
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