Zhang Yumei joined them in the living room.
Tang Yuyan presented a box of cosmetics to her. “Mother, Xia Lei has brought you some imported cosmetics. They’re all really good products. I hope you’ll like them.”
“Oh my, Xia Lei. There’s no need to be so courteous.” Zhang Yumei, contrastingly, had responded to his goodwill warmly. The smile across her face made her look like a flower.
Xia Lei smiled. “Auntie, it’s nothing. It’s just a small gift.”
“You’re so likeable.” Zhang Yumei smiled. “No wonder you’re able to marry four wives with special permission. Since the establishment of our country, you’re the first to be granted such a permit.”
Xia Lei chuckled sheepishly.
“Let’s have dinner. If we don’t dig in soon, the dishes are going to go cold. I’ve been cooking all day in anticipation of your arrival,” said Zhang Yumei.
The lot of them moved to the dining hall. Tang Yunhai retrieved a blue-white porcelain jar and opened a mud seal. Suddenly, the whole dining hall was wafting with the thick fragrant scent of wine.
Tang Yunhai smiled. “Xia Lei, this is really good booze. My grandfather himself had brewed this in the Qing dynasty using the best millets and sorghum paired with our family’s secret brewing technique. There are only two left in existence. One of them is saved for when Tang Bochuan gets married and the other…” He glanced towards Tang Yuyan, who was seated beside Xia Lei tensely. He continued, “And the other is left for when Tang Yuyan gets married. Xia Lei, may we drink this tonight?”
The older man had already torn the mud seal off. The fact that he was asking for Xia Lei’s consent was a clear push for the latter to express his statement on the whole thing.
Xia Lei smiled. “Of course. I’d love to find out what such an expensive wine would taste like.”
Xia Lei had made his statement, but Zhang Yumei and Tang Tianlong both had their brows knitted. They were not pleased with it. After all, Tang Yuyan was their precious little daughter. The fact that she was about to be his fifth woman was uncomfortable for them.
“Alright then. Tonight, we shall celebrate with hearty shots. Yumei, what are you waiting for? Serve us the booze,” instructed Tang Yunhai.
Zhang Yumei responded lightly and began pouring the liquid into the wine bowls she set out. This was a unique occasion for a martial arts bloodline, of course, a bowl was customary.
Xia Lei brought the bowl to his nose and took a whiff. He gave them a thumbs-up. “This smells so good! Old Man Tang, what is its name?”
Tang Yunhai answered, “There’s no name for this. If you insist this to bear a name, then it would be appropriate to name it the Banquet Booze.”
Xia Lei was stunned. Its name certainly wasn’t the Banquet Booze. Tang Yunhai was actually using the alcohol to further initiate the nature of this meal.
Tang Yuyan had always been a sharp woman. How could she not have caught the underlying meaning to her grandfather’s words? Tang Yunhai had hinted not once but twice, causing Tang Yuyan to be both a bundle of nerves but also squirming with excitement. This bit of time spent in her own home was overwhelming in all senses. She felt like she was feeling a hundred different emotions in one go.
“Xia Lei, do you fancy its name?” Tang Yunhai stared at Xia Lei straight.
The man chuckled. “Yes. It’s more than suitable.”
Tang Yunhai went on, “Seeing that we’re already on the topic, we might as well approach it straightforwardly.”
Xia Lei replied, “Sure, I too wish to talk about it. I’m open to any topic.”
Under the dining table, Tang Yuyan placed a sweaty palm on the top of Xia Lei’s thigh. Her palms were trembling ever so slightly.
“You both were initially a match made in heaven. But halfway through, Fan Fan’s emergence had ruined your union. It is such a pity that this has happened.” Tang Yunhai sighed heavily.
Xia Lei listened but said nothing.
The older man went on, “But nothing can change the past. To be honest, I was extremely angry about it in the beginning. But I have come to terms with it. Didn’t you marry another three more women after Fan Fan? What are their names?”
Tang Tianlong and Zhang Yumei glued their attention to Xia Lei’s face. The older couple was expecting to see the shameless brat answer the question with awkwardness. Yet, all that was present on Xia Lei’s face was a relaxed smile. The man was unfazed.
“Yeah. One of them is Liang Siyao. She’s the daughter of my master, Liang Zhengchun. Another is Long Bing, one of Yuyan’s colleagues. The next one is Jiang Ruyi. She grew up with me and you can say that we’re childhood friends. All four of them are getting along well. I’m sure Yuyan will be welcomed warmly,” answered Xia Lei. The man no longer wished to play a game of relentless hints. He dove in headfirst.
“My, my! You’re such a love god!” Zhang Yumei could no longer stay silent. Xia Lei’s words had evidently triggered her.
Tang Tianlong too harrumphed lightly. While nothing offensive was uttered, it was sufficient to express his feelings. Tang Tianlong was not pleased!
Tang Yunhai sent them a look through the corner of his eye.
Tang Tianlong immediately lowered his head.
Zhang Yumei quickly corrected, “Well, to judge this… uh… from a modern view is a little… But if we lived in ancient times, this is nothing. For a man like you, forget about having four, having seventeen or eighteen women is still considered acceptable. The Tang family is a martial arts bloodline and we’re not all that conservative. Since Yuyan has vehemently expressed her interests, we shall not stop her. But let me make this clear. She’s my only daughter. Please be kind to her and do not abuse her. That’s my only request. Can you promise me that?”
Xia Lei answered, “Auntie, don’t worry. I’ll treat Yuyan well.”
Tang Yuyan followed, “Yes, mother. Please rest assured. Back on Dawang snow mountain, Xia Lei had given me all his clothes to keep me warm despite the minus thirty-degree celsius harsh weather. He alone had faced off more than a hundred enemies. Without him, I would be long dead.”
Tang Tianlong shot her a glare. “Do you have no humility? Are you so desperate to be married away? Keep quiet!”
Tang Yuyan did not dare to meet her father’s eyes. She quickly lowered her head. The tremors of the palm over Xia Lei’s thigh grew intense.
Every detail did not escape Xia Lei’s eyes. The man was now secretly grateful that he had made the choice to accompany her. If he wasn’t around and Tang Yuyan was made to face her family alone, she wouldn’t have the guts to say anything!
The reason was simple. While Tang Yuyan had made her decision and had the courage required, there was a great difference between her performance with and without the presence of her family members. It was a natural instinct for prey to tremble before a strong predator.
Xia Lei placed a palm to grip Tang Yuyan’s trembling palm. He coaxed a finger over her knuckles gently in a silent attempt to soothe her nerves.
Xia Lei’s loving caress was evidently effective. She had quickly calmed down and was not as tense.
“Father, I know you’re reluctant to part from her. But Xia Lei is the most excellent man in this whole wide world. Though he is surrounded by a crowd of women, Yuyan is willing to accept it wholeheartedly. You’re not the one directly affected so why are you so stuck up for? You shouldn’t keep frowning like that. This is a joyous occasion worth celebrating.” Tang Bochuan finally spoke up.
Tang Tianlong only sighed. “Sorry, I’m just not very good with words. Please don’t take it to heart, Xia Lei.”
Xia Lei replied, “Uncle, it’s alright. Now that I’m together with Yuyan, we’re family. You’re an elder to me now, it’s fine for you to scold me if I’m out of line.”
“You’re still calling him uncle?” Tang Yunhai remarked with nonchalance.
Xia Lei quickly corrected himself. “Father, mother.”
That earned a wide smile from Zhang Yumei. “You’re such a nice boy.” She commented despite the hint of displeasure told through her eyes.
Tang Tianlong responded to the calling but bore no emotion.
“Hahaha!” Tang Yunhai guffawed. “Smooth correction, Xia Lei. But I believe you’ve left one more person out.”
Xia Lei smiled. “Grandfather.”
“Hahaha!” Tang Yunhai’s laugh grew in volume. “With centuries of history tied to our bloodline, to marry out a daughter in this manner is a first. But you’re Xia Lei so we’ll allow the exemption. If you were some other man, not only would I reject you flat out, but I’ll also break your legs in halves!”
It was then that Tang Yuyan finally allowed herself to relax. The situation she was most worried about had not occurred. It almost felt like an illusion to her that her grandfather and parents had suddenly reached an understanding of the matter and was completely accepting of it.
Sadly, her ease was short lived.
Just as the tense atmosphere had dissolved into bliss, Tang Bochuan said, “Xia Lei, the woman you’re about to marry is a daughter to the Tang family. This is table talk. We’d need more than this to make it work.”
Xia Lei regarded that with a light a smile. “What will you need to make it work then?”
“My sister certainly would have some status, right?”
Xia Lei replied, “Of course. I’ll make a call to the chief later and apply for another special permit. I’m sure the man will approve it.”
“Perhaps you’re the only one who dares to engage him so casually. In that case, I have no issue,” said Tang Bochuan.
Just as Tang Bochuan had gone silent, Zhang Yumei continued the topic. “Xia Lei, after you marry Yuyan, I urge you to treat her equally.”
Xia Lei simply responded, “Our family system has always been very democratic.”
The woman went on, “I’m not talking about that. What I’m saying is that you’ve given Fan Fan, Liang Siyao, Long Bing and Jiang Ruyi some portion of the original shares of the Thunder Horse Organization, no? Surely, you can’t exclude Yuyan.”
Xia Lei fell silent. “Mother, how did you learn of that?”
“Aiyoh.” Zhang Yumei smiled. “You’ve filed in a will and it was notarized by the notary office, no?”
A small smile reappeared on his lips. “I see.”
“So will there be one for her too?” Zhang Yumei was impatient.
There was a beat of silence. “Yes, of course. I’ll file one will for Yuyan too.”
“Same content,” confirmed Xia Lei. The draft for Tang Yuyan would bear protective clauses to make sure that the Tang family would not be involved in the Thunder Horse Organization’s businesses. But there was no need to let the Tang family find out about that now.
“Hehe, then that eases my worries.” The smile on Zhang Yumei’s lips grew wider. “Then I urge you to file it in before marrying our Yuyan. I’ll take your will as dowry. It only makes sense for our Yuyan to receive the same treatment. But please do not misunderstand us. The Tang family is not trying to take your advantage. We’re merely asking for you to appreciate our Yuyan well and to treat her equally.”
To be frank, anger was already bubbling deep in Xia Lei’s heart. They were not trying to marry their daughter off, they were literally selling her away! And at a hefty price too!
The three Tang family men stared at Xia Lei hungrily, gazes filled with anticipation and excitement. As soon as Xia Lei gives his nod and files in the will, it would be a piece of cake for the Tang family to be involved with Thunder Horse’s affairs.
And it was at this moment that Tang Yuyan stood up in anger. “I don’t need a will!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
have a nice day!