“What?” Zhou Wei couldn’t help an exclamation of surprise.
Xia Lei was going to open his mouth as wide as a lion’s and take his share.
He smiled. “You guys can give me more if you think it’s too little.”
“No, no, no.” Zhou Wei said hastily, “No jokes, Chairman Xia. The price you quoted is enough for a fighter aircraft. A lathe cannot be so expensive. Would you consider a lower price? 10,000,000?”
The smile disappeared from Xia Lei’s face. “A fighter aircraft for 88,000,000? You’re kidding me. I will not accept a cent less than the price I quoted. I won’t finish building it if you think it’s too expensive. You say I have to sell it but what can you buy if I don’t have it?”
Zhou Wei smiled wryly. “Chairman Xia, you can build an intelligent lathe with just your two hands and I see that your progress is quick. It looks like you’ll just need over a month to finish it. Is 10,000,000 not enough for over a month?”
“Who doesn’t want to earn more money in this world? I’ll tell you frankly that I want to make my company grow and I need money for that. Besides, this will be the last time we’ll do business together. Of course I’ll try to take as much as I can,” said Xia Lei.
“Chairman Xia…” Zhou Wei wanted to convince Xia Lei but he had no words.
“The price I quoted is not actually that expensive. You know very well that you guys won’t be able to purchase a machine like this from Germany, not even for a billion yuan.” After a pause, he added, “Furthermore, this lathe was the result of me risking my life. I just want this bit of money for it - is that too much to ask?”
Zhou Wei was silent for a bit. “All right. I cannot make a decision on this price. I will call Elder Mu.”
Xia Lei smiled. “Go ahead.”
Zhou Wei walked out of Xia Lei’s office, phone in hand, and made the call in the corridor.
Xia Lei’s eye twitched and the wall disappeared from his sight. He used lip-reading to ‘listen in’ on the conversation between Zhou Wei and Mu Jian-Feng.
“Hello, Elder Mu? I saw his intelligent lathe. It looks about 50% complete; he’s fast… I took the pictures and I’ll send then to you afterwards… I talked a little with him and he’s being greedy - wants 88,000,000, not one cent less… Mm, yes, I’ll tell him.”
Xia Lei stopped using his eye.
Zhou Wei re-entered the office and sat back on the sofa before he spoke. “Chairman Xia, I’ve talked to Elder Mu. He says it’s fine but on one condition.”
“Elder Mu wishes that you not reveal that the intelligent lathe was built by you. It was built by us, China Industrial Group.” Zhou Wei stared steadily at Xia Lei, as if trying to look into his thoughts.
Mu Jian-Feng wanting condition like this was not outside Xia Lei’s field of expectations. The reason was simple - China Industrial Group was a government-owned corporation and even a member like Zhou Wei had the rank of an officer. If the intelligent lathe was built by China Industrial Group, then multiple levels of personnel would be rewarded and gain political clout. This was most important to China Industrial Group. If Xia Lei claimed to have built the intelligent lathe, they would not receive honour but shame.
“Do you get what I mean, Chairman Xia?” asked Zhou Wei probingly.
Xia Lei gave him a toothy smile. “I get it. You guys need a beautiful answer sheet and something to be proud of. What will I get if I say I built this lathe? Free public transport?”
“Hahaha…” Zhou Wei was tickled by his answer. “So does that mean we have a deal?”
“Deal.” Xia Lei answered promptly. Since he’d chased the money and got what he wanted, he should just make it quick.
“I shall draw up a purchasing contract on behalf of China Industrial Group. We are buying parts, not lathes. Ten percent will be given as deposit first and the rest paid into your account when you deliver the goods and the goods pass tests.”
Xia Lei stood to shake hands with Zhou Wei. “No problem. To a happy collaboration.”
“Can I use your computer? I shall draw up the contract now and we can sign,” said Zhou Wei.
Xia Lei laughed, “You’re in that much of a rush?”
Zhou Wei did not wait for Xia Lei’s permission before seating himself at Liang Si-Yao’s desk and using her computer to draft up the contract. He was truly in a rush as he feared that Xia Lei would change his mind and leave him with no options. He would fail to follow through on Mu Jian-Feng’s instructions if it fell through.
Xia Lei and Zhou Lei signed the contract half an hour later. The contract was for parts and the total value was 88,000,000. There was nothing in the contract about intelligent lathes.
Two copies were made and Zhou Wei put aside his copy when they were done signing. He stood and said, “I shall stay in Hai-Zhu City for this period of time, Chairman Xia, and drop in from time to time to check in on your progress. Is that fine for you?”
“Of course. Come any time,” said Xia Lei.
“That’s that, then. Goodbye. I have to report to Elder Mu.” Zhou Wei shook Xia Lei’s hand again and said, “I’ll have the 10% deposit transferred to your account within the next half an hour.”
“Sure. Bye, Big Brother Zhou, have a good day.” Xia Lei sent Zhou Wei to the door and watched him leave.
His phone rang - it was Qin Xiang.
“Lei, what did the guy from China Industrial Group want?” asked Qin Xiang.
“Didn’t I tell you when Ning Yuan-Shan tried to besiege us? If he blocks my path, I’ll fly. I’ve started my flight now,” said Xia Lei with a laugh.
88,000,000 - once this sum of money was in his hands, Thunder Horse Manufacturing would gain another pair of wings and soar along its path to success!
“Heeheehee…” Qin Xiang let out a feminine tranny laugh. “That’s great but I saw a punk looking about in the doorway of your workshop just now. Watch out or you’ll be shot down before you gain altitude.”
Xia Lei was struck by surprise. “What punk?”
“A worker in our factory,” said Qin Xiang.
“He should be just passing by. I’ll still keep a lookout. Okay, that’s it - I’ll chat later.” Xia Lei hung up.
Just then, he received a message from the bank. His account had received the deposit of 8,800,000. Zhou Wei was anxious indeed - he’d said that the transfer would happen in half an hour but the money had arrived in mere minutes.
Liang Si-Yao walked into the office and saw Xia Lei reading the message. She smiled as she asked, “Is it that Jiang Ru-Yi asking you to buy groceries for her again?”
Xia Lei looked at Liang Si-Yao and just smiled. He wanted to surprise her.
“Looks like it really is that Jiang Ru-Yi. Really. What is she to you that she tells you to buy groceries for her? Can’t she find her own way to a supermarket? Whoever marries that lazy woman is an unlucky bastard.”
“Uh…” Xia Lei was a little embarrassed now. He handed his phone to Liang Si-Yao. “Take a look.”
Liang Si-Yao drew close and read the message, then said in surprise, “Why’s there so much money?”
“China Industrial Group wants my lathe. I sold it to them,” said Xia Lei.
Liang Si-Yao hopped in excitement. “You sold it for 8,800,000? So much for a lathe? Amazing!”
Xia Lei chuckled. “I sold it for 88,000,000. This is just the 10% deposit.”
“What?” Liang Si-Yao’s jaw dropped to the floor.
“It’s not without conditions. I can’t claim that I built it after it’s completed; it’s very important to them. I agreed to it, so no telling anyone that I’m building a lathe from now on,” said Xia Lei.
Liang Si-Yao was still stunned.
Xia Lei smiled as he patted her on her shoulder. “Let’s go to the 4S store after work. I said I’d get you a car. I didn’t have money before but I do now. I want to buy you a car.”
Liang Si-Yao suddenly snapped back to reality, her cheeks red. “You, you want to buy me a car?”
Xia Lei was earnest. “Yes, I’ve always wanted to buy you one. I couldn’t before but now I can and I’d like to keep my word.”
“You, you’re buying a car for me? Wh, What is the meaning of this?” Liang Si-Yao’s face grew redder and she didn’t dare look Xia Lei in the eye.
A man buying a car for a woman, and an unmarried couple at that - half the time this meant that the man was wooing the woman and the other half of the time the woman was a mistress. So what did it mean now when Xia Lei wanted to buy a car for her?
Xia Lei, on the other hand, had no complicated thoughts like that and he smiled as he said, “You’ve already treated me well. Do I need another reason? Okay, I’m going to my workshop now. Let’s go to the 4S store after work - you can’t say no.”
Liang Si-Yao’s lips moved and it looked like she wanted to say something but Xia Lei had already walked off. She stood quietly in the office, her mind awhirl with images of Xia Lei; Xia Lei’s profile, Xia Lei’s front, Xia Lei from the back, and Xia Lei from three days ago, sleeping on the bed with her in just his briefs…
Xia Lei went back to his workshop in high spirits. He knew all the drawings of Josef’s intelligent lathe and could build another after he sold this one. What effect could China Industrial Group claiming to have built the intelligent lathe after much research have on him under these circumstances?
The reward he had was a free ticket for a plane ride once in a while but 88,000,000 could buy him a whole plane.
While he was thinking of what car to buy for Liang Si-Yao, his gaze suddenly stopped on the floor by the doorway.
The floor by the door was very clean and had nothing but his left eye could clearly see the footprints there. The footprints were neither his nor Zhou Wei’s because they were prints of work shoes and Zhou Wei and himself were wearing leather shoes.
Xia Lei suddenly remembered what Qin Xiang had said. He’d told him that a worker had been looking around the doorway of his workshop. He hadn’t thought much of it then because it was normal for workers to walk past this area and he trusted his workers. However, his personal workshop was off limits to regular employees. It was not normal for a worker to enter his workshop.
Xia Lei thought for a bit, then left his workshop and went to Qin Xiang’s office.
Qin Xiang was drawing his eyebrows in the office and the lines he drew were thin and uneven. When Xia Lei walked into his office, he glanced at him and continued drawing his eyebrows as he said, “What’s up?”
“We have a thief in the company,” said Xia Lei.
Qin Xiang rolled his eyes at him. “Talking about me?”
“I’m not kidding, there really is a thief. Someone’s trying to steal the secrets of the lathe I’m building,” said Xia Lei.
Qin Xiang finally put down the eyebrow pencil in his hand. “Was it that punk I saw earlier? I remember his face. I’ll go catch him.”
“No, don’t catch him,” said Xia Lei.
“What do you mean?”
“Doesn’t he want to steal something? I’ll let him. I’d like to see who he’s working for. Help me keep an eye on him while I prepare the things for him to steal.”
Qin Xiang laughed. “You bad boy.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter