Ning Jing's Tummy
Yong-Le the Great was Zhu Di, a very famous historical figure. The period he ruled in the Ming dynasty was also the most powerful, so it was also known as the ‘Golden Age of Yong-Le’.
However, this was all he knew from the history textbooks. Xia Lei could not even begin to guess at the relation between Emperor Yong-Le and this compass, let alone the application of the compass.
“Master Xia, can you repair this compass?” Huang Wei-Guo’s voice interrupted Xia Lei’s thoughts.
“It will be complicated,” said Xia Lei, “But I can try.”
“This compass is very important and its value is difficult to estimate. I do not want a half-hearted response - I need an exact answer. Master Xia, are you confident?”
Xia Lei wasn’t pressured before but Huang Wei-Guo’s words put a weight on his shoulders. He thought ‘There is no need to emphasise how important this compass is; it must be the only one in the world! It’ll be a disaster if I make a mistake. Should I reject this? Accept it?’
Ning Jing spoke up, “Master Xia, you have to think this through carefully. Miss Long recommended you, so don’t bring her any trouble. If you can, you can. If you can’t, you can’t. We require a 100% guarantee on this matter. 99% is not accepted.”
Xia Lei understood then that he was able to come here all due to Long Bing. Long Bing had recommended him to the people in-charge, Huang Wei-Guo and Ning Jing. They might even have had some guarantee arrangement between the two sides. If he messed things up, Long Bing would most probably have to take responsibility for it.
XIa Lei could not help looking at Long Bing and wondering why she would recommend him.
Long Bing’s face was a mask of cool as always.
“How about this - Master Xia, we will give you half a day to consider it carefully and analyse if it can be done. Give us a reply if you can,” said Ning Jing. It seemed she refused to believe that a person as young as Xia Lei could be so skilled right from the start and was even more doubtful of his ability to repair the compass.
This female Doctor was so unfriendly!
Xia Lei’s gaze turned to Ning Jing. Perhaps it was because he thought her unfriendly that his eye suddenly twitched and Ning Jing’s clothing dissolved like mist. She looked quiet and slim but her body had substance, especially her breasts and buttocks, which gave the impression of firm flesh that was just right and they were fairly seductive. Her buttocks had a patch that looked like a maple leaf in vivid colour and shape but it was not a tattoo – it was a natural birthmark. The special birthmark made an impression on him.
‘So she has a hidden side; you really can’t tell. Who else can see such an interesting birthmark other than me?’ A small smile appeared at the corners of Xia Lei’s mouth. He had used his X-ray vision on her with the intent of punishing her and when that was done, he felt much better.
“What are you smiling at?” Ning Jing asked suspiciously.
Xia Lei stopped using his eye. “Nothing. I feel you do not believe me and I understand your worry. How about this – you can look for some similar parts to let me try my hand and I will accept the job only if you feel I can do it. If you don’t, you can look for someone else to do the job.”
Huang Wei-Guo and Ning Jing exchanged glances, as if communicating with their eyes.
Xia Lei took it in his stride and kept quiet. He had gained an understanding of the situation by now. He surmised that before Long Bing had recommended him, Huang Wei-Guo and Ning Jing had already asked for the most elite Master welders and they had refused. Long Bing had recommended him because he had repaired the key before and that made her more confident of his abilities. However, Huang Wei-Guo and Ning Jing doubted his skill due to his age and were trying to give him the opportunity to back away from the difficulty of the task.
Xia Lei had his own plans. This job would be a troublesome one but it was a great opportunity. Fixing the compass was equal to making a name for himself and he would naturally have customers come to him. If he refused the job, he would lose the opportunity and spoil things for Long Bing and that was why he had already decided to accept the job.
Huang Wei-Guo and Ning Jing seemed to have exchanged opinions via eye contact. Huang Wei-Guo spoke, “Master Xia, we will follow your suggestion. I shall look for a welding machine and some parts for you to give it a try and we shall decide whether we will hand the compass to you for repairs afterwards.”
Xia Lei nodded. “No problem.”
Huang Wei-Guo left the display room and Long Bing walked to Xia Lei’s side. “All good?”
“No problem. Don’t worry,” said Xia Lei.
Long Bing nodded, “Then good. Wait here. I’m going out to make a call.”
“Sure.” Xia Lei escorted Long Bing out with his eyes. Her back was beautiful but he regarded her with great reverence and never had a desire to look at her with his left eye.
Ning Jing walked up to Xia Lei and smiled slightly as she asked, “How old are you, Master Xia?”
Xia Lei looked at her. “Almost 24. You?” He was actually just a little over 23 but for some reason, he told Ning Jing he was older.
“So you’re just 24. I’m two years older than you,” smiled Ning Jing.
A Doctor in the archaeological field at 26 – she was indeed an amazing woman. Unfortunately, it seemed she had spent her youth on studies and work. It was easy to see how naive she was when she revealed her own age since women would usually try to make themselves seem younger than they were.
Xia Lei had no interest in discussing age with her and changed the topic, asking, “Doctor Ning, what is this compass used for?”
“I’ll tell you honestly that we don’t know either. We’d only just discovered it yesterday. Unearthing this surpasses everything we know about the crafting abilities of the Ming dynasty. As for what it does – we’ll still have to wait for you, little Master, to repair it before we can find the answer.” At that point, she stared Xia Lei in the eye, “Master Xia, tell me honestly – can you fix it?”
Xia Lei smiled. “Would you believe I could fix the compass if I were an old man in his fifties or sixties and I came to you with my certifications, then?”
“Master Xia, I had no intention of… I was… Forget it. If you can fix this compass, I will give you an embroidered banner.”
She really was a bookworm with no real-world experience. People would normally offer to treat one to a meal or give a valuable gift but she thought of an embroidered banner. Her way of thinking was really different from other women. Xia Lei suddenly thought of the maple leaf-shaped birthmark on her buttocks and could not help but wonder if that was the most special thing about her.
“I’m serious,” added Ning Jing after seeing no response from Xia Lei.
“Thank you. I will definitely hang the embroidered banner on the wall of my machine shop if you give it to me. Anyone who goes in will see it right away.”
Ning Jing seemed to be imagining her embroidered banner on the wall and a nice smile appeared in the corners of her mouth.
“Oh, right, Doctor Ning,” Xia Lei probed, “do you know what Miss Long does?”
“I don’t know. I was about to ask you,” said Ning Jing.
Xia Lei sighed internally and felt full of disappointment. Long Bing’s identity and profession was becoming a sort of preoccupation which wouldn’t go away unless he found an answer.
Just then, Ning Jing frowned and collapsed in a squat, holding her stomach.
Xia Lei quickly reached out and grabbed her arm to keep her from falling to the ground, asking nervously, “Doctor Ning, what’s wrong?”
“My… My… Stomach hurts… Argh… Ow…” Ning Jing groaned in pain. Her face had drained of colour and turned ashen in a second.
“Doctor Ning, are you sick? I’ll call the ambulance right away. Hold on, don’t be afraid.” Xia Lei was getting scared by Ning Jing’s condition and hurriedly pulled out his mobile phone, prepared to call the ambulance.
Ning Jing, however, grabbed his wrist. “No… It’s just acting up again. I’ll be fine in a bit.”
“You can’t be fine in a state like that! It’s best you go to the hospital. Let me make the call,” said Xia lei, concerned.
“No, it’s really fine… Professor Huang will be back soon. I’d also like to take a look at your workmanship.” Though she insisted she was fine, she frowned as she spoke and ground her teeth in an obvious display of attempting and failing to bear her pain.
“Is your health more important or your work?” Xia Lei tried to persuade her to go to the hospital again.
“Bo-Both are important.” Ning Jing clutched at Xia Lei’s arm as she tried to pull herself to her feet slowly. She crouched in a squat again halfway up, her forehead beaded with sweat. Ning Jing smiled weakly, “Give me a hand. Get me to the sofa so I can lie down.”
Xia Lei put one arm around her little waist and the other behind her knees, lifting her in one move, then headed towards a sofa in the corner of the room. Ning Jing looked thin but he felt the weight when he carried her - it felt like he was carrying between 45 and 50 kilograms. The weight proved again that there was an ‘amazing woman’ hidden in those clothes.
Ning Jing did not expect Xia Lei to do that and she lay on Xia Lei’s chest; that strong, muscled chest pressing on her soft skin and that manly smell coming from his body made her nervous. She half-forgot her pain and a blush bloomed on her ashen face.
Xia Lei placed Ning Jing on the sofa and asked, concerned, “Do you feel better now?”
Ning Jing avoided Xia Lei’s eyes. “I.... feel better. It’s just my illness. It’s okay. I just have to rest a bit and I’ll get better.”
“What illness? Have you had it checked at the hospital?”
“It’s a womanly problem. You won’t understand.” Ning Jing looked embarrassed.
Xia Lei did not probe further after hearing her say it was a womanly problem but he said, “I still think you should get yourself examined at the hospital; the condition you were in was terrible to see. If it’s not an old illness like you say, it will be dangerous to delay treatment.”
There was a trace of a smile on Ning Jing’s lips as she said, “You’re quite a caring one, aren’t you? Are you so nice to all the girls?”
Xia Lei laughed awkwardly, “I have a sister and I take care of her a lot, so maybe that’s why.”
“I’m not your sister… Argh…” Ning Jing’s stomach suddenly hurt again while she was speaking. She curled up on the sofa, her hands weakly and clumsily rubbing her stomach. She looked to be in greater pain than before. “If… If only my mother were here. My pain always went away when she rubbed my tummy…”
Xia Lei hesitated, then bit the bullet and reached over...
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