Pedestrians hurried by on the streets as Xia Lei stood by the road like a statue. Women’s faces appeared in his mind - Annina, Liang Si-Yao, Shentu Tian-Yin, Jiang Ru-Yi and Long Bing. They formed a secret garden but he was not a happy gardener; he was an unfortunate soul with hay fever.
A black Buick van stopped by the side of the road and the car window rolled down, revealing Long Bing’s face. “Get in.”
Xia Lei opened the car door and got in.
Long Bing moved forward, but slowly. “You said that German machinist came chasing after you. How is this possible?”
Xia Lei smiled wryly, “I thought it was impossible too but she’s here.”
“We killed you off in front of her and your body’s missing. The evidence we left behind all pointed to the local gang. She has no way of knowing that you’re alive. Even if she knew you were alive, the world is a big place. How did she find you here?” Long Bing’s voice was full of surprise and puzzlement.
That’s right, the Earth was so big - why did she have to come here of all places?
Xia Lei smiled wryly and shook his head. “She came with a group of representatives from Germany. This may just be a coincidence. I can’t think of any other reason than that. Never mind, she’s already here and she’s seen me. What do I do now?”
“Hold on,” Long Bing frowned, “You said she was here with representatives from Germany?”
“Yeah,” said Xia Lei, “Those German merchants really like my company’s automatic skateboard. Some of them even placed orders.”
“There’s something wrong,” said Long Bing.
Xia Lei paused, then seemed to realise something.
Long Bing continued, “Annina is a high-level machinist at Krupp MaK Maschinenbau. She is not a businesswoman, but she appeared in a business representative group and met you so coincidentally. You have to think of a way to get answers - why would Krupp MaK send a machinist like her to China? And find out what she wants.”
Xia Lei suddenly had two headaches at once. “I don’t even dare to meet with her and you want me to find answers to these questions? I suspect that she’s already guessed that my identity in Germany was a fake and even guessed that our target was Josef’s intelligent lathe. She said that I’d regret it if I didn’t contact her. This is already a hint - can it be any more obvious?”
Long Bing glared at Xia Lei. “You have to go.”
“I called you to help me solve this problem but you’re telling me to help you solve your problem… Are you kidding me?” Xia Lei was looked depressed.
“Don’t forget that you’re a consultant for Bureau 101. Your identity is to help us solve our problems,” said Long Bing sternly.
Xia Lei was speechless.
“I want you to find out her aim. This is important. You have to find out if she had help from the German government in getting here, to China. If she’s been sent by the German government to investigate that incident, we have to make our preparations to counter them. If she did not have the assistance of the government, and was just sent by Krupp MaK as a simple representative, then you set her straight. Keep her happy and fulfil all her requests.”
“Fulfil all her requests?” Xia Lei suddenly thought of Annina persistently wanting him to cheat on ‘Laura’ with her. Fulfil all her requests… did that also mean giving ‘that’ to her if she wanted it?
“Yes, all requests. You can give her money. The Bureau will reimburse you. It’ll be easy if she’s willing to take money.”
“If she wants…” Xia Lei could not say it.
“If she wants your body, then you… Hey, I don’t need to teach you this, do I?” said Long Bing.
Sweat had popped up all over Xia Lei’s head. Liang Si-Yao’s face appeared in his head and she was glaring fiercely at him.
Long Bing seemed to read Xia Lei’s thoughts. “You don’t have to consider Liang Si-Yao’s feelings. This concerns the interests of the country, and your relationship is nothing compared to the interests of the country. Besides, Liang Si-Yao is just your girlfriend and not your legal wife. Even if you and Annina do it… it’s no big deal. Don’t worry, I’ll keep your secret.”
Xia Lei looked at her wordlessly. Why did he detect some schadenfreude in her tone?
“Remember what I told you about a spy?” said Long Bing, “If Annina’s arrival in China has to do with this mysterious spy then it’s very serious. We will have to find a way to oust that spy.”
“Then you don’t need to worry about it,” said Long Bing, “Give Annina a call. The most important thing for you to do now is to stabilise her.”
Xia Lei sighed. He took out his phone and checked the time. “It’s still early. I’ll go to Phoenix City. I promised Shentu Tian-Yin that I would visit her father - I’ll go meet Annina after I’ve visited Shentu Ren.”
“You…” Long Bing smiled wryly, “You sure are busy. Tired?”
Xia Lei rolled his eyes at her. “Send me to the car park. I’m going to get my car.”
Half an hour later, Xia Lei stood in front of the door of a villa with a bouquet of carnations. He reached out to knock on the door.
The door opened and Fu Ming-Mei appeared in the doorway. She saw Xia Lei and smiled. “Mr Xia, Please, come in.”
“Where’s Tian-Yin?” asked Xia Lei when he walked in.
“In Master’s room. I’ll take you there,” said Fu Ming-Mei.
Xia Lei followed her to Shentu Ren’s room. Shentu Ren lay on the bed in his room with Shentu Tian-Yin sitting at his bedside on a chair, talking to him in a low voice.
“Mr Xia is here, Big Sister Tian-Yin,” said Fu Ming-Mei.
Shentu Tian-Yin looked over with a smile, “All right, go about your duties, Ming-Mei.”
Fu Ming-Mei smiled and closed the door behind her when she left. Her attitude towards Xia Lei was much better than before, simply because he had healed Shentu Ren.
Xia Lei walked over to put the carnations at the head of the bed and then looked at Shentu Ren and said gently, “Are you feeling better, Uncle?”
Shentu Ren stared straight at Xia Lei. His lips moved but he was unable to say anything. However, a trace of a smile appeared in the corners of his lips and his gaze was kindly.
“My father can say a word now and then. His condition is improving day by day,” said Shentu Tian-Yin.
Xia Lei smiled. “That’s good. Keep building strength and pay attention to exercise. It’s the best way to strengthen the heart and lungs. Help Uncle move his arms and legs when you have time to help promote blood circulation. This can help shorten the time needed for him to get out of bed.”
Shentu Tian-Yin smiled at Xia Lei. “I did help my father move his arms and legs. Uncle Fu and Ming-Mei also help when I’m not around.”
“Sit…” Shentu Ren suddenly made a sound; it was weak and raspy.
“See! I told you my father can say one word at a time! He wants you to sit. Come, sit,” said Shentu Tian-Yin excitedly.
Xia Lei sat by the bed and said with a smile, “No need to be so formal, Uncle.”
Shentu Ren wanted to say more but he did not succeed this time.
“My father knows you healed him and he’s been wanting to see you. He would definitely want to express his gratitude if he could speak normally,” said Shentu Tian-Yin.
Xia Lei had awoken Shentu Ren, who had been paralysed for three years. It was only reasonable for him to feel gratitude towards Xia Lei.
“Why the formalities? Uncle, I’ll give you a massage.” Xia Lei started massaging Shentu Ren’s legs. He could see the acupuncture points and meridians, plus his flow of internal energy; his massage was very beneficial to Shentu Ren.
The colour in Shentu Ren’s face improved a few minutes after Xia Lei massaged him. He looked much better than before.
After the massage, Xia Lei used silver needles to perform acupuncture on Shentu Ren. The massage and acupuncture took half an hour.
“Stay here…” Shentu Ren’s condition had improved a lot. “Eat dinner…”
“Oh!” exclaimed Shentu Tian-Yin excitedly, “My father spoke four words! Lei, you’re a genius doctor!”
Xia Lei laughed. “What genius doctor am I? I can only do a bit of acupuncture.”
“The world’s best hospitals and doctors were not able to cure my father but you have. Don’t be so modest. It’s not as if I don’t know how capable you are. All right, my father has personally asked you to stay for dinner, so you stay for dinner. I’ll go to the kitchen to cook.”
“Huh?” Xia Lei looked at Shentu Tian-Yin in surprise. “You’re going to the kitchen to cook?”
A corner of Shentu Tian-Yin’s mouth went up. “What, am I the sort of woman who can’t even cook in your eyes?”
“No… It’s just…” Xia Lei could not say what he wanted to say. He had not even thought of having dinner here but Shentu Ren had personally invited him and Shentu Tian-Yin was going to cook herself. He would be committing a faux pas if he said no. But what about Annina if he stayed for dinner?
He could imagine it - Annina in some hotel room looking at her phone and waiting for Lukas to call.
Xia Lei’s hesitation did not escape Shentu Tian-Yin’s observation and she naturally thought of another woman. She spoke in displeasure, “How about you give Miss Liang a call. I’ll talk to her if she doesn’t agree to it.”
Xia Lei’s face turned red immediately. “I’m a grown man. I don’t need to report where I’m having dinner, okay? I’ll help you - let’s go to the kitchen.”
“Sure. I’d like you to see my cooking skills.” A smile appeared on Shentu Tian-Yin’s face.
In the kitchen, Xia Lei washed the rice while Shentu Tian-Yin cooked the dishes.
Xia Lei had not even imagined what it’d be like if Shentu Tian-Yin cooked before and he was getting to see it first-hand now. She was the type who was extremely beautiful, aloof and cold, like a celestial fairy not of the mortal world, but once she had the apron on, she gave off the impression of a woman of the house, warm and sweet.
The sight of the queen in an apron made Xia Lei stare in fascination quite a few times.
Sizzle! A bowl of shredded pork was thrown into the wok and hot vegetable oil splashed. Several drops landed on Shentu Tian-Yin’s hands and she cried out in pain, holding her hands as she turned away.
Xia Lei quickly turned off the gas and grabbed her hands. “Let me see. Are you hurt?”
Shentu Tian-Yin looked quietly at Xia Lei and let him hold her.
Xia Lei pulled her over to the sink and rinsed her hands with cold water, then smeared some vegetable oil on the parts where she’d been scalded. “Okay, it’s just some scalding, there won’t be any scars,” he said comfortingly.
Shentu Tian-Yin said nothing and just looked quietly at Xia Lei. Her gaze was warm.
Xia Lei looked away and said a little nervously, “Best if I do it.”
“No, I’ll do it. Don’t stay in here, you’ll disturb me. Go watch television in the living room.” Shentu Tian-Yin pushed Xia Lei out of the kitchen. She wanted to personally cook a meal for Xia Lei but she didn’t tell him that that was the reason why she wanted him out.
It was dark when Xia Lei left Phoenix City. He sat in his car and dialled Annina’s number...Previous Chapter Next Chapter