Half an hour later, Jiang Ru-Yi’s car pulled up to a Western restaurant by the sea. There were not many diners in the afternoon and the restaurant had only around ten people.
Jiang Ru-Yi and Xia Lei sat at a table close to the French windows, where they had a nice view of a stretch of clean beach and blue sea.
Xia Lei was a little clumsy since it was his first time eating a Western meal but he quickly adjusted.
“Lei, I really must thank you,” Jiang Ru-Yi raised her glass of red wine, “A toast, to you.”
Xia Lei smiled, “Order a lobster if you really want to thank me.”
Jiang Ru-Yi suddenly took off her high heels, raised a leg and kicked at the space between Xia Lei’s thighs.
Xia Lei had no time to dodge so he hurriedly pressed his legs together as he spoke anxiously, “What are you doing? This is a restaurant.”
Jiang Ru-Yi retracted her kicking leg but Xia Lei kept his legs closed in fear of another attack. The two of them pushed and pulled and neither side could tell what the other was going to do. It was so embarrassing they could die but it was also nerve-wracking. After a few bouts, Xia Lei suddenly loosened his thighs. Jiang Ru-Yi’s leg swung down due to inertia and smacked Xia Lei’s ‘that thing’ hard.
There were no meteorites or explosions at contact between the sole of the foot and the not-foot, but it was like a violent chemical reaction and the movements of the two of them stilled in that moment.
“You…” Xia Lei’s mouth opened but no other words came out. The foot on his manly region did not give him an uncomfortable feeling. It was too comfortable, too stimulating, such that he could not speak.
There was no spot left on Jiang Ru-Yi’s face that wasn’t red. She froze, then hurriedly retracted her foot and avoided Xia Lei’s eyes. She looked down but found herself thinking of the strange feeling that had gone through her at that contact. It was like an electric shock - numb and tingling. Images of certain vegetables and fruits popped up in her pretty little head, like bananas, cucumber, and the like.
In the midst of their extreme embarrassment, a suit-clad young man walked over to their table.
The handsome and elegant youth looked to have a good temperament and a charming smile. Even his voice had a magnetic, charming quality, “Ru-Yi, it really is you! You’ve become so beautiful I hardly recognised you.”
“You’re…” Jiang Ru-Yi looked at the handsome young man’s face, then remembered and spoke delightedly, “Xu Lang! It’s you! Where did you get assigned to?”
“I was assigned to an office in Jing-Du after graduation. I’ve transferred back this time.” Xu Lang maintained the charming smile. “I hear you cracked a big case and also became the Chief of North Police Station. That’s amazing! Why didn’t we see you display your greatness during our time at the Police Academy?”
From their conversation, Xia Lei gathered that this Xu Lang guy was Jiang Ru-Yi’s university classmate. He was a little out of place with the two old classmates. He shot a look at Jiang Ru-Yi and was preparing to find an excuse to leave when Xu Lang held out his hand to him.
“Are you Ru-Yi’s boyfriend?” Xu Lang spoke elegantly, “Hello, I am Xu Lang. May I ask your name, sir?”
Xu Lang was standing so Xia Lei did not feel right sitting down and stood out of courtesy. He stretched out his hand and shook Xu Lang’s hand as he said, “Spare the formalities. I’m Xia, Xia Lei.” He smiled and added, “But I’m not Ru-Yi’s boyfriend. We are childhood friends who played together since we were kids.”
“I see. Nice to meet you.” Xu Lang released his hand. His mouth spoke politely but his eyes were scrutinising Xia Lei’s palms.
Xia Lei was not a rich man’s son nor was his line of work of the relaxing office variety since his palms were thickly callused. Observant people could easily tell the nature of his work, guess his rank in society and his net worth.
Xu Lang seemed to have guessed all of the above and his brow wrinkled slightly.
This change in expression was slight but Xia Lei’s current eye power was not normal. He caught the expression change when Xu Lang looked at his hands and understood what it meant.
What supercilious behaviour had he not seen in the years spent working in the real world? This Xu Lang was courteous in the beginning but frowned when he discovered his calluses - was this not looking down on blue-collar workers like himself? However, he did not mind it. He had tolerance.
“Sit and chat.” Jiang Ru-Yi invited Xu Lang to take a seat at their table, “You haven’t eaten yet, have you? Let’s eat together, then. My treat.”
Xu Lang smiled, “It should be on me, then. How can girls do the paying? I’m not alone, though; I’m waiting for my uncle.”
“Your uncle?” Jiang Ru-Yi thought for a bit. “I remember! Isn’t your uncle Director Xu Zheng-Yi? Is he coming too? Where is he?”
At that moment, Xu Zheng-Yi walked through the doors of the restaurant. Xu Lang waved and he spotted him, and he made his way toward them.
“Hello, Director Xu.” Jiang Ru-Yi stood and greeted Xu Zheng-Yi.
Xu Zheng-Yi waved it away and spoke softly, “Don’t address me so formally outside the workplace. It doesn’t look good.”
Jiang Ru-Yi smiled awkwardly and moved a chair for Xu Zheng-Yi.
Xu Lang spoke up, “Uncle, I did not expect to bump into Ru-Yi here. We were classmates in the Police Academy. Why don’t we sit together?”
Xu Zheng-Yi nodded and seated himself. He looked at Xia Lei but did not greet him.
Xia Lei was about to greet him but thought twice, since they had only met once before and he did not even greet him the first time. He had his pride too. He would not specially try to curry favor even if Xu Zheng-Yi was a Governor.
Xu Lang waved and a waiter brought the menu.
“What would you like to have, sir?” The waiter was very respectful.
“Three lobsters and a five-year-old red wine - Edinburgh will do,” said Xu Lang.
“Of course, sir. Noted.”
Xu Lang then looked at Xia Lei and said, “Mr. Xia, it’s our first time meeting so I don’t know your preferences. What do you like? I’ll order it for you.”
Xia Lei spoke calmly, “Thank you but I’ve already eaten so there’s no need.”
“That’s all, then,” said Xu Lang to the waiter.
“Very good, sir. I shall tell the kitchen to prepare it right away.”
Jiang Ru-Yi stopped the waiter as he was about to leave. “Hold on. Remove one lobster from the order, please. I am also quite full and don’t wish to eat anymore.” She smiled and added, “I may put on weight if I eat any more.”
Actually, if Xu Lang had simply ordered four lobsters and Xia Lei not refused, she would have accepted the meal. The look Xu Lang gave Xia Lei was interesting. He was polite on the surface but she was not a dumb woman and could tell that Xu Lang was looking down on Xia Lei and that made her dissatisfied.
“Ru-Yi, we have not seen each other for two years. We will be colleagues since I’ve transferred back from Jing-Du, too. Come, humour me - eat some more and let’s drink a little wine,” said Xu Lang awkwardly.
“I…” Jiang Ru-Yi looked at Xia Lei.
Xia Lei, however, was thinking of an excuse to leave and didn’t notice her.
Xu Zheng-Yi spoke then, “That’s right, Ru-Yi. Xu Lang will be working in the Technology department after his transfer and you will be colleagues. Outside of work, we rarely gather together like this so don’t be a wet blanket.”
Since Xu Zheng-Yi had spoken, Jiang Ru-Yi had to show him respect and she nodded.
Xia Lei had also come up with an excuse, “I have some matter to attend to at my shop, so please take your time, the three of you. I’ll excuse myself.”
“Lei…” Jiang Ru-Yi wanted to say more but hesitated. She did not want Xia Lei to leave.
Xu Lang smiled, “We won’t see you out, then. Till next time, perhaps.”
Xu Zheng-Yi just looked at Xia Lei. He had not spoken a word to him the whole time.
Just then, a woman came leisurely down the aisle. Black dress, black low-heeled shoes, black sunglasses and handbag; her height and long legs made her look like a female assassin from the movies. She exuded iciness and danger. Her gaze seemed to be locked on Xia Lei and everyone else in the restaurant did not matter and were not worthy of a second glance.
Though the sunglasses covered her eyes and part of her face, Xia Lei recognised her at once - Long Bing.
“Why did she turn up here?” Xia Lei found it so strange he forgot about leaving.
Xu Lang, however, had not spotted Long Bing. He stared at Xia Lei and spoke in an annoyed tone, “Mr. Xia, weren’t you leaving?”
Xia Lei snapped out of his distraction and was about to reply but Long Bing had already walked to their table. Long Bing kept staring at him and the words he wanted to say ran back down his throat.
Xu Lang, Xu Zheng-Yi and Jiang Ru-Yi saw Long Bing then.
Jiang Ru-Yi had a complicated expression on her face right away because she had seen Long Bing before and knew what a mysterious and powerful woman she was. She was about to greet Long Bing when she found that she was only looking at Xia Lei and had not spared her a glance.
“May I ask who you are, miss?” Xu Lang was astounded and his eyes held a bit of a stunned look.
Xu Zheng-Yi suddenly stood up, looking nervous. “M, Miss Long. To what do we owe this pleasure?”
Only then did Long Bing look at Xu Zheng-Yi. Her voice was icy, “Ah. Director Xu. I’m here to talk about something with Xia Lei.”
“Uncle, you know each other?” Xu Lang smiled. “Why don’t you introduce us?” He, too, stood up and reached his hand out to Long Bing elegantly. “I am Xu Lang. It’s a pleasure to meet you. May I ask your name, miss?”
Long Bing did not extend her hand but pulled a chair out from beside Xia Lei.
Xia Lei was uncomprehending. “What are you doing?”
“I haven’t treated anyone to a meal in three years. I’d like to give you a treat today. Take a seat,” said Long Bing.
Xia Lei hesitated as he contemplated sitting.
Xu Lang flushed red and a trace of anger crept over his face; he seemed ready to act on his anger. Xu Zheng-Yi suddenly kicked him under the table, then anxiously sent him a glare.
Xu Lang was no fool and understood right away. A woman who could make his uncle quietly warn him so nervously must be someone he could not afford to offend! What puzzled him was seeing a woman so mysterious and powerful be so polite and respectful towards a young punk with callused hands. It was unfathomable!
“Sorry, can you move? I want to talk to Xia Lei alone,” said Long Bing.
“Erhm…”Xu Zheng-Yi’s old facial muscles couldn’t hang on anymore but he was still all smiles as he said, “Of course. Take your time. We won’t disturb you and we’ll move to another table.”
Long Bing looked at Xia Lei. “Please, sit.”
Xia Lei smiled wryly, then sat. He tried to guess Long Bing’s purpose in coming to look for him but could not think of anything.
In the aisle, Xu Lang asked quietly, “Uncle, where is this Long woman from?”
Xu Zheng-Yi lowered his voice, “I don’t really know but one phone call from her and the previous Chief, Li Qing-Hua, was axed in twenty minutes. She also pointed a gun at the Chief of Police in the police station. Where do you think she’s from?” He paused, then moved closer to Xu Lang’s ear and spoke even more softly, “And, Ru-Yi becoming Chief was her idea according to the rumours I’ve heard. You be careful. Don’t ever get on her bad side.”
Xu Lang felt a chill on the skin of his back.