“Babe, I made your favourite pasta and pizza. Will you be home for lunch?” Alice’s voice rang through the device sweetly.
“Babe, I already told you. I will only be back in the evening. I have a lot to do at work,” came Thompson’s reply.
“Why are you always so darn busy? I spent half a day making your favourite meal but you never once told me where your office is! I’m certain you find your job much more important than me,” Alice grumbled over the phone.
“Darling, please. You know who I am. I can’t simply reveal what my job entitles. Please do not question your priority in my heart. You’re the most important thing to me. I swear to God.”
“You always say that. At this point, I don’t know if you’re lying or not.”
Thompson sighed heavily. “Alice, I pulled some strings with a friend’s help and got in contact with a Hollywood director. He has agreed to cast you as a hooker.”
“Yes, a hooker role. Your screen time will be around five minutes long. You’ll appear, seduce the main character, drop a pill in the glass and then get killed off by the main character.”
Alice didn’t know what to say.
If this had happened before meeting Xia Lei, this would have been the best news. However, Xia Lei was offering her a role as a new Bond girl. Why on earth would she be overjoyed by a lowly hooker role with brief screen appearance?
“What’s the matter? Do you not like it?” Thompson was confused by the silence.
“Oh, no. I’m just too surprised, I don’t know what to say… Thank you, my dear. I’ll treasure this opportunity,” answered Alice with feigned earnest.
“I’m glad you like it. However, I have a request. If the director tries to coerce you into some kind of ‘unsaid rule’, do not consent to it. I’m not doing this for my sake but for the sake of your future career.”
“Thank you, love. You’re really the best.” Alice perked up, “Darling, I too have good news for you.”
“What is it?”
“Do you remember that person who won all your money that night?”
“Of course I do. What’s with him?”
“I went back to that casino last night and ran into him. I managed to win over a hundred thousand dollars off him.”
“What? ...How much again?” Thompson was having a hard time believing his ears.
“A hundred thousand dollars. No need to question it, you heard that right.”
“Oh my god. How is that possible?” Thompson couldn’t believe it.
Alice giggled. “Darling, he’s not some unbeatable gambler. He’s the bastard son of a chief from the United Arab Emirates. He’s nothing but a spoilt prince who flies around in his private jet to seek pleasure. He has too much cash to spare and all he lacked was some fun. I just played a little trick and won a hundred thousand dollars.”
“Hahaha!” Thompson broke out in laughter.
“Babe, he’s inviting me to the casino again tonight. Would you like to come?” Alice’s melodious tone rang through the device.
“Of course. Now I’m really pumped to see him lose his cash.” Thompson was positively vibrating.
“He doesn’t really care about that bit of money. He lost a hundred thousand dollars to me and yet was still generous enough to tip the dealer five thousand dollars.”
“Babe, wait for me. I’ll be right back!”
The call ended.
Alice and Thompson’s exchange was relayed over Xia Lei’s laptop speaker in full detail. Xia Lei was not the only eavesdropping on their conversation, Anjum Khan and Tsukino Kyoko too had stretched their necks over to listen in. Other than those two, there was also Qian Jun and Sa’im who had just arrived.
Sa’im flashed Xia Lei a thumbs-up. “Boss, when it comes to wooing women, you are unbeatable.”
Xia Lei merely regarded that with a smile. He wasn’t doing this out of his free will.
Anjum Khan teased, “Sa’im, it’s only when you manage to become as rich and handsome as the boss that you have the rights to be compared with our boss’s honeypot skills.”
Sa’im raised his middle finger at Anjum Khan.
While it was a rude gesture, the Indian did nothing more than cackle at it. There was no malice to the display.
“That Alice sure is an obedient one. Boss, would you be winning over Thompson’s money till he’s left with nothing but his briefs?” Qian Jun spoke out of the blue.
Xia Lei smiled and shook his head. “I’ll play two games tonight. I’ll lose two hundred thousand dollars during the first one. Then, I’ll win whatever amount they have over in the second one.”
The Chinese Zodiac Battle Team members stared at Xia Lei weirdly, though it only lasted for a few seconds.
“You’re trying to fish for a bigger fish?” Qian Jun was the first to respond.
Xia Lei nodded. “I gave Alice a hundred thousand dollars last night and I’ll be letting her win another twp hundred thousand dollars tonight. Keep in mind that the amount goes to Alice and not Thompson. Thompson is one hell of a gambling addict. He’d definitely not want to lose a chance to get rich. However, if he wishes to challenge me to a game, I’d raise my bet to three million dollars. Thompson should only have around three hundred thousand dollars to spare. He would be forced to get a loan to gamble with me.”
“But will he have access to a loan that huge in a casino?” Tsukino Kyoko asked.
Xia Lei answered, “With his status, the loan sharks would be more than willing to borrow him money. After he does that, we’ll buy his IOU over from the loan sharks.”
“Is one mere IOU enough to blackmail him into submission?” Sa’im couldn’t help but feel iffy about the plan. “Thompson is a brigadier general. I don’t think he’d give in easily.”
Despite that, Xia Lei’s smile was confident. “You will find out when it happens. Just go and find a few extras with decent acting skills. I’m sure you know what props are needed for loan shark characters, right?”
“Let me handle that. My informants can get this done,” offered Sa’im.
“That’s great. Give me a call when your informant is done.” Xia Lei nodded.
“Alright. Just wait for my call.” Sa’im took his leave.
Hesitation dawned over Qian Jun’s body language. Even so, the man eventually decided to confess, “Boss, about Hattori Mei’s assassination. I’m sorry I fucked it up. I heard about what happened in the Jingdu Army Hospital. If I hadn’t messed it up, that wouldn’t have happened.”
Xia Lei came over to his side and patted his shoulder. “This wasn’t your fault. It was not your marksmanship. It’s highly possible that she noticed something and quickly instructed her substitute to stand in for her death. Hattori Mei is no doubt an exceptionally cunning woman. I think she might’ve borrowed your hands to take out her own father, Hattori Masao. There’s really no need to beat yourself up over this.”
Qian Jun nodded quietly. Xia Lei’s reassurance had lifted off some emotional burden off his plate.
Xia Lei asked, “You and Sa’im have stayed in America the longest. Have you received any word from my father?”
Qian Jun replied, “Not at all. Sa’im and I have been constantly trying to locate your father’s whereabouts but you know how he is. If he doesn’t wish to be found, he’ll disappear off the face of this planet. No one will be able to find him.”
Xia Lei's heart sank. He was now the father of four children, which meant that Xia Changhe had just gotten himself four grandchildren. Even so, the older man had not shown up during such an important milestone. Xia Lei couldn’t help but ponder just what had his father regarded the most priority in his life?
MGM Mirage Casino, eight in the evening.
A handsome mixed youth had graced the casino’s ground once again. Today, he was seated alone in front of the slot machines. His luck was failing him tonight. He had walked through the doors at seven but had already lost more than a hundred thousand USD in less than an hour.
Casinos absolutely adored patrons like him. Behind this young man was two bunny girls. One of them had held a wine tray while the other held a tray of desserts, ready to serve him at any given moment.
This mixed youth was none other than Xia Lei.
A crowd of curious onlookers were gathered around him. Some of them were placing bets among themselves to see how much more money would this prodigal sore loser lose before giving up.
Thompson and his woman, Alice, too were part of the crowd.
“See that?” Alice whispered into Thompson’s ear. She lowered her voice further, “I wasn’t lying. He’s genuinely a thrill-seeker with too much money to spare. This is a chance to get rich. This is a rare chance for people like us to come by.”
“Would he be willing to play a game with me though?” Thompson couldn’t help but express his doubt.
“It won’t be an issue. He had invited me personally yesterday night. Give me a moment, darling. I’ll go strike him up in a conversation.” With that, Alice left Thompson’s side and strutted towards Xia Lei.
Thompson watched them from a distance. He saw them greet each other and began to talk casually. It didn’t take long before Xia Lei was led away from the slot machines. Thompson smirked coldly at the sight. “He’s stupid and perverted it seems.”
Xia Lei followed Alice into one of the VIP lounges.
“He’s here,” said Alice.
“We do not talk about irrelevant things,” reminded Xia Lei.
“Sorry. I’ll be more cautious.” Alice quickly waved at Thompson and brought him over.
Xia Lei went in to open up a table while Alice waited for Thompson.
“Mister James, do you remember me?” Thompson came to Xia Lei’s front and extended an arm in anticipation of a handshake.
Xia Lei ignored the friendly gesture and took a seat on the other end of the table. “I’m not here to make friends. Miss Alice, your friend may stay as long as he does not interrupt us.”
Thompson’s expression darkened but the man suppressed his anger. He was a respectable man in the army but in this damned casino, his opponent tonight was a bastard prince. ‘James’ was not one of his underlings. Thompson could do nothing about the lack of face shown.
Alice inched closer to Thompson’s ear and whispered, “Just ignore him, darling. Remember, our goal is his money.”
Thompson returned her a slight nod. “Entertain him. I’ll give you my input from the side.”
Alice took a seat in front of Xia Lei and placed her newly exchanged chips worth a hundred thousand USD on the table.
Xia Lei furrowed his brows. “That’s all you got? If that’s the case, I’m better off playing the slot machines.”
Alice raised her chin ever so slightly. “This sum is what you lost to me last night. I’m confident I can take you down tonight as well. That’s why I’m here with this measly amount. Are you afraid of losing again?”
“Heh. Bold words. Very well then, I shall entertain you with two games.” Xia Lei waved at the dealer. “Bring me my chips.”
“Right away, sir.” The bunny girl dealer’s tone was polite. Following that, she spoke into her walkie-talkie, “Please bring in Mister James chips.”
Before long, several waiters walked in with a large plate of chips. They deftly stacked Xia Lei’s chips on the gaming table. From what Thomspon could see, it amounted to at least five million USD.
The sight knocked the air out of Thompson’s lungs. He marvelled at the impressive pile of chips on display. He couldn’t help but fantasize about what he could do with all that money. Perhaps he’d purchase a beachfront villa with more young and gorgeous bikini girls and that one yacht he’d been dreaming about.
Humans sure do love to dream and spiral deep into their own fantasy.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
have a nice day!