Liang Si-Yao walked into the kitchen while Xia Lei was still washing the vegetables, wearing the dress he’d bought her. The top half was purple and bottom black, stitched together and matched with a belt. She looked good in it. However, she covered her neckline with her hands as if afraid that something important would be exposed and her face was red with embarrassment.
“Have you come to help out in the kitchen, my dear Senior Disciple? You have to change though, or you’ll get your clothes dirty,” quipped Xia Lei.
“Who said I’ll be helping you? I came to…” Liang Si-Yao suddenly turned around and said, “Help me zip up.”
“Uh…” said Xia Lei awkwardly.
“There’s just you and my dad at home. I’m not going to ask my dad to help me, am I? Hurry up. It’ll be super awkward if my dad sees me like this in front of you,” said Liang Si-Yao.
Xia Lei reached his hands out and pulled the zipper up, then looked immensely relieved. “Zipped.”
Liang Si-Yao huffed and went off as if she were fleeing from him.
After dinner, Liang Si-Yao and Xia Lei went to Liang Zheng-Chun’s study to practice. The two of them did not mention the embarrassing situation from earlier but Liang Si-Yao’s face reddened and she looked like she wanted to kick him every time she looked at him.
They got into the standing-horse stance after their practice.
“Did anything happen in the company during the time I was away, Senior Disciple?” asked Xia Lei.
“Oh, so you haven’t forgotten about your company?” Liang Si-Yao rolled her eyes at Xia Lei, but in a playful way.
Xia Lei laughed. “I know it’s been hard on you and I’ll remember your good deeds. Tell me what happened.”
“That’s more like it,” said Liang Si-Yao, “Our main work is from completing the normal purchase orders from China Industrial Group. There’s not much profit but it’s better than no work at all for the employees. The supermarket is doing very well and the profit from that is higher.”
“No orders from other companies?”
“None,” said Liang Si-Yao. “I talked about this with Qin Xiang and he thinks that someone paid a visit to the companies so those who want to place orders with us don’t dare to.”
Xia Lei frowned. “Does Qin Xiang know who it is?”
“He said he didn’t know but East Wind Heavy Industries had an increase in orders in the same period of time. They had so many orders that they outsourced smaller projects to smaller companies but none of those were given to us,” said Liang Si-Yao.
“Ning Yuan-Shan has great influence in Hai-Zhu. If he did pay a visit to the companies, then they wouldn’t give us any purchase orders. I’m not quite willing to believe that he’s that sort of person.” Xia Lei also thought of the Gu clan, especially Gu Ke-Wen. Gu Ke-Wen had influence too.
Liang Si-Yao sighed. “This was also why I called you every day. The company can’t continue like this. Our employees will have no work once China Industrial Group stops giving us purchase orders. How will we pay them if there’s no work? We still have to pay deposits and insurances. People will leave if we stop paying.”
“What’s the progress on a product for the company?”
“Han Bo and Yin Hao are leading the R&D department. They’ve been working overtime on their own initiatives and sometimes even stay overnight at the office. They’ve come up with some plans this past month. I put them aside and they’re awaiting your review. You’re the only one with the final say in these matters.”
“What plans? Give me an overview.”
“One is for bicycles and the other is for cars.”
Xia Lei shook his head before Liang Si-Yao could finish. “The bicycle market is already oversaturated. Small workshops are assembling bicycles too. We’ll bleed losses if we go into that market. Manufacturing cars is an even less reliable plan. We don’t have the resources for that now. The general masses also like to show off so they’d still prefer lower-quality brand-name cars over locally made cars, no matter how high-quality they are. We’ll lose out in this market too.”
“I think it’s unreliable too but they’ve tried their best. Don’t be too hard on them when you go to the company… Oh, right, there’s also a plan for a shopping trolley. I think that one’s interesting,” said Liang Si-Yao.
“Shopping trolley?” asked Xia Lei curiously, “What shopping trolley?”
“Yin Hao was inspired when he was in the supermarket. We have shopping trolleys in the supermarket which the old folk use but after they go through the cashier, they have several bags of different sizes that they’d have to carry out and it’s inconvenient. He designed a shopping trolley which can be folded flat and put in the car or at home. It doesn’t take up much space but when you open it up, it can hold tens of kilograms of things.”
Xia Lei perked up. “This is a good plan. It may seem like a small thing but the market for this is big. How about this - I get the employees to make ten of these shopping trolleys tomorrow and put them for sale in our supermarket. We’ll see how it turns out and manufacture them on a larger scale if it sells well.”
“Great. We can add different elements to it to suit the preferences of the young and old too and expand our reach.”
“Mm-hm, this small plan is inspiring to me too. We’re a small company so we’re in no rush to manufacture big items. We should start from everyday conveniences and make more little products which satisfy the needs of people. We can work on larger and higher-end items when we have enough accumulated,” said Xia Lei happily.
“We’ll succeed.” Liang Si-Yao smiled too.
Liang Zheng-Chun suddenly appeared in the doorway like a spirit, his face stern. “Did I tell you two to practice or to hold a meeting? The hour spent holding the stance doesn’t count. Hold it for one more hour.”
“What?” exclaimed Xia Lei and Liang Si-Yao together. They shared an expression of bitterness.
Liang Zheng-Chun brought his clay teacup to his lips and took a sip of Icy Peak oolong tea before disappearing from the doorway.
“It’s all your fault. You have to give me a massage after we’re done with the horse stance,” said Liang Si-Yao.
Xia Lei was speechless.
After an hour more of the horse stance, Xia Lei obediently gave Liang Si-Yao a massage. He sincerely wanted to do something for her since she had worried and fretted over his company while managing it in his absence. If giving her a massage would help her feel better and more comfortable, he would be happy too.
Xia Lei took a shower back in his room to cool himself after the heat the massage had kindled. He lay on the bed and called Jiang Ru-Yi. She’d called him so many times; he’d have hell to pay if he didn’t take the initiative to contact her.
The call connected and Jiang Ru-Yi’s sleepy voice came from over the line. “Who is it? It’s late…”
“It’s me.” Her voice made Xia Lei feel fondness and he smiled. “Lei.”
Jiang Ru-Yi paused on the other end of the line and seemed to suddenly be revived. She voice grew louder. “Where did you go? You rascal! You disappeared for a month! I called you so many times but you didn’t answer. I put you in the missing persons registry!”
Xia Lei thought for a bit and said, “I went overseas with Long Bing to do something. You know I can’t talk about these things. I couldn’t call home when I was overseas either. I would have called if I could.”
“I knew it!” Jiang Ru-Yi snorted. “Where are you now?”
“I’m at my Master’s house.”
“At your Master’s house? Eh, have you no shame? You go to your Master’s house instead of your own after coming back - does your Master’s daughter have that much charm? Her legs are so long they’re like chopsticks! Are you going to pick food up with them?”
Xia Lei was dumbfounded.
Half an hour later…
“... had a cold yesterday and went to the hospital. The doctor actually wanted to take an X-ray! Oh my gawd, an X-ray for a cold? It’s ridiculous…”
Xia Lei yawned. “Punch him.”
“I’m a police officer. How can I just hit anyone? Let me tell you, I personally caught an underwear-stealing pervert two days ago. That bastard was as fast as a rabbit…”
This was Jiang Ru-Yi and this was her style. She spewed all the nonsense she’d accumulated over a month in one go in the phone conversation, her little mouth tooting like a trumpet. Xia Lei, however, did not regret being on the receiving end. He actually liked to listen to her flap her lips.
It was unknown who fell asleep first, him or Jiang Ru-Yi, but no sound came from the mobile phone though the call was still connected.
Afterwards, the phone eventually ran out of power…Previous Chapter Next Chapter