Back in the Shentu family hall, Shentu Tian-Yin faced Shentu Wei-Ye and a whole group of the Shentu clan. She’d seen these faces from childhood and was very familiar with them but they felt very much like strangers to her in that moment.
“What did you want to talk with me about, Grandfather?” Shentu Tian-Yin did not want to spend a minute longer than necessary here.
“Do you truly intend to marry that punk?” Shentu Wei-Ye looked displeased.
“We love each other and he’s also very capable. Why can’t I marry him?” said Shentu Tian-Yin.
“Capable?” Wang Fang interrupted, “That punk is just a high-school graduate. What’s so good about him?”
“He worked his way up from the bottom and is now the chairman of Thunder Horse Manufacturing. Even China Industrial Group wants to work with him and ask him to solve the problems they cannot. What is this if it’s not ‘capable’? He may be a high-school graduate but he knows several foreign languages. Aunt, you’re a university graduate - how many foreign languages do you speak?”
“I…” A look of shame came over Wang Fang’s face and she was silent. She had learnt English but lacked the courage to even greet an Englishman or a North American.
Shentu Tian-Yin continued, “Xia Lei is also the Last Disciple of a Wing Chun Master. He is truly skilled and I feel safe with him. If you’re not satisfied with such a highly-capable man, then find me someone who is more capable than him.”
The assembly was silent.
Shentu Tian-Yin spoke again, “Xia Lei is the best mechanic in China and an excellent electrical engineer on top of that. He took a look at our drawings yesterday and uncovered the lies of a German engineer, saving our Vientaine Group 200,000,000. Can you still say that someone like him is not a capable man?”
The assembly was still unable to find a response.
“In fact, I am just more wealthy than Xia Lei. What else about me is better? I cannot be compared to him, let alone some people.” Shentu Tian-Yin glanced at Wang Fang. She did not speak her name but it was clear that she was talking about her.
Wang Fang’s face turned red. “All right, s, so he’s capable and a match for you but his attitude is bad. With his temper, you’ll have tough times if you marry him. Plus, he has a strong personality so you’ll end up doing as he says. What about our Shentu clan’s dignity then?”
Shentu Yi backed up his wife. “Yeah, you’re a woman of the Shentu clan and the chairman of our Vientaine Group. Where shall we hide our faces in shame if a man rides roughshod over you?”
Shentu Wei-Ye glared at Shentu Tian-Yin. This seemed to be what he’d wanted to say and he was waiting for her answer.
Shentu Tian-Yin was quiet, then swept her gaze over the assembly. “It’s not ‘where you’ll hide your faces’ but ‘where you’ll put your money’, isn’t it?”
“You…” Shentu Wei-Ye shook in rage. He raised his cane as if to strike at Shentu Tian-Yin but she didn’t even blink. He did not dare hit her for some reason.
He was capitalising on being advanced in years, selling the image of his status, so what was there to sell when he’d ruined the image?
Shentu Tian-Feng went to Shentu Wei-Ye again and patted his back as he said in false courtesy, “Tian-Yin has her own way of thinking too, Grandpa. Don’t be angry. Quick, Tian-Yin, apologise to Grandpa. He’s advanced in years and anger is harmful to his body.”
“I’m sorry, Grandfather.” Shentu Tian-Yin apologised.
Shentu Tian-Feng spoke to Shentu Wei-Ye again, “Grandpa, Tian-Yin has apologised to you so don’t be angry anymore. We’re family, so why argue so strongly?”
Shentu Wei-Ye put aside his walking cane at that.
“Grandfather, I am marrying Xia Lei in spring. I shall decide on my own relationships. Who I like and I spend the rest of my life with are my own matters. You all stay out of it,” said Shentu Tian-Yin.
“Fine! Fine…” said Shentu Wei-Ye angrily, “Have you no more regard for your grandfather now?”
“My marriage and you being my grandfather are two separate matters. Can these two matters be put together to form a reason for which I should not marry?” said Shentu Tian-Yin evenly.
“You-” Shentu Wei-Ye was so mad he could not speak.
It was apparent that Shentu Tian-Yin had thrown down the gauntlet with those words. She did not use to behave this way in front of Shentu Wei-Ye - she usually went with what he wanted. She used to bear it and not say anything when he chided or scolded her but today, after bringing Xia Lei home, it was like she’d turned into another person.
Shentu Yi, who was to one side, nudged Wang Fang with the back of his hand.
Wang Fang intuitively knew what he wanted and said, “Huh! Did you see that? Our Tian-Yin used to be so obedient and never talked back to Grandfather but she’s changed after bringing that punk home. She dares to go against Grandfather now. Tian-Yin, I’m not talking bad about you - I mean that that punk must have taught you this. You two are not married yet and you’re already like this. When you’re married and have children, will he still leave us Shentu alone? When the time comes, Vientaine Group may just be changed to Xia Group, wouldn’t it? What will we be able to do about it then? We’ll all be chased out from Vientaine Group.”
Discussion flew amongst the Shentu clan. Xia Lei’s appearance was like a wolf plunging into a herd of sheep, threatening their personal interests.
Shentu Wei-Ye gave a cough and the Shentu clan quieted.
“Tian-Yin, you cannot marry that punk,” said Shentu Wei-Ye.
“Grandfather, we are already living together. I’ve become his. I’ll marry no one but him. I will go along with your wishes on other matters but not on this, Grandfather. This concerns the rest of my life and I shall make my own decision on that,” said Shentu Tian-Yin.
“Fine, then hand Vientaine Group over to Tian-Feng to manage,” said Shentu Wei-Ye, “Give over management of Vientaine Group to Tian-Feng and I will not hinder your marriage to whomever you want.”
Shentu Wei-Ye said it out loud at last. He’d been hinting at it and pushing quietly for it but finally let it out after Xia Lei turned up. Love or career - these were the choices he presented to Shentu Tian-Yin.
The family hall was quiet. This was a fairly crucial moment and the Shentu clan was nervous, especially Shentu Yi’s family; they were more excited than anyone else.
Shentu Tian-Yin was about to speak when a head popped into the doorway - Xia Lei’s head.
Everyone’s eyes turned to him. Shentu Yi’s family felt like rushing up to him and stomping him flat - why did he have to turn up like a dark cloud at such a crucial moment!
Xia Lei grinned. “Having a meeting? Sorry, I want to say something to Tian-Yin. I just need one minute.”
“It’s all because of you! Get out! You’re not welcome here!” roared Shentu Wei-Ye suddenly.
Xia Lei was not bothered at all and he maintained the roguish smile on his face. “Calm down, Gramps. It’s not good for your health to get angry at your age. I’ll be frank. Tian-Yin and I are living together, and… She’s pregnant with my child. How could you bear to tear our family apart?”
Then entire group turned to stone, including Shentu Tian-Yin. She’d only said that they were living together but Xia Lei had exaggerated it further and said that she was pregnant!
Strangely enough, Shentu Tian-Yin’s cheeks turned red even though the statement about her being pregnant wasn’t true.
Whispered conversations burst out after a stretch of silence.
“How can this be? Tian-Yin is a woman of the Shentu clan and chairman of Vientaine Group - how can she be pregnant with that punk’s child?”
“I couldn’t tell that Tian-Yin was a woman like that.”
“Don’t you get it? This punk is here with designs on Vientaine Group! The child in Tian-Yin’s womb is his trump card. He doesn’t even respect or have any regard for Grandfather!”
“Yeah, this punk’s impressive. He’s already so arrogant when they’re not even married yet. Tian-Yin can’t keep him in line. If they really get married and have the child, won’t we all be kicked out from Vientaine Group?”
Shentu Wei-Ye raised the cane in his hand and the family hall grew quiet again.
“Fine, you come in then,” he said.
Xia Lei walked in. He’d actually come with the intention of telling Shentu Tian-Yin that he’d like to try to treat Shentu Ren with needles but there was no way he was going to say it in front of all those people.
Xia Lei went to Shentu Tian-Yin’s side and whispered in her ear, “I have some good news to tell you. I’ll tell you outside.”
“Nn.” Shentu Tian-Yin made a small sound of agreement and her cheeks grew redder.
Their show of intimacy made the Shentu clan even more uncomfortable.
Shentu Wei-Ye coughed and said slowly, “Tian-Yin, since you are already with child, I will not object to your marriage. Let Tian-Feng manage Vientaine Group so that you can stay home and be a good wife and mother. What do you think?”
Shentu Tian-Yin was about to speak when Xia Lei pulled her by the hand and said quietly in her ear, “Let me be the bad guy. They’re your flesh and blood after all and you still have to interact with them. It doesn’t matter for me. I don’t know them that well anyway.”
Shentu Tian-Yin paused but she understood Xia Lei’s good intention. She hesitated, then gave a slight nod.
“Say what you have to say, Xia Lei. Don’t whisper.” Shentu Tian-Feng could not hold it in any longer and he said rudely, “We didn’t let you in to speak. You should just listen.”
Xia Lei laughed. “I’m not mute so I’ll speak when I want. I have even more to say when you guys want Tian-Yin to make a decision like this. We’re getting married after all and our child will be born next year. Her matters are my matters, so why can’t I speak?”
“You punk!” Shentu Tian-Feng would’ve liked nothing more than to kick Xia Lei out.
“Let him speak!” Shentu Wei-Ye sneered, “I’d like to hear what he has to say.”
Xia Lei cleared his throat and said, “Since Gramps has made it clear I’ll give my opinion too. I think you guys are crossing the line.”
“What nonsense are you spouting!” Shentu Yi lost his temper too and pointed at Xia Lei, “This is the Shentu clan’s home! Don’t you have the decency to be ashamed of yourself?!”
Wang Fang spoke up too. “Tian-Yin, did you hear him? Do you want to marry someone like that?”
Shentu Tian-Yin did not reply and pretended not to hear. She knew very well what Xia Lei was doing and she was awash with gratitude.
Shentu Wei-Ye hit the floor tiles with his cane and thundered, “Let him speak!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter