Thunder Horse Manufacturing’s workshops were all clean and tidy and the workers at their stations were in perfect order. The real businessmen looked at the production process, the quality of the parts and so on but the two German agents were concerned with the machines and machine tools in Thunder Horse Manufacturing. Their aim was clear - find evidence of Xia Lei’s technology theft. However, they were disappointed to find that there were no special tools or equipment for processing high-precision parts; the equipment in the factory were enough for only everyday products.
After touring the three existing workshops, Xia Lei brought the businessmen to the fourth, which was still being built. It was the workshop that China Industrial Group was sponsoring. This workshop was going to be the biggest in Thunder Horse Manufacturing - it was bigger than the three existing workshops combined and had equipment more advanced than in the smaller workshops.
Bringing the businessmen to the workshop which was still in construction was also a show of strength. Xia Lei was more than happy to show these businessmen who had already placed purchase orders or those who had signed cooperative contracts the next step that Thunder Horse Manufacturing was taking to greater heights.
The two German agents walked one time around the new workshop and looked closely at all the machines. Xia Lei had long discovered that they had pinhole cameras hidden on them and they had been filming everything about Thunder Horse Manufacturing the moment they’d walked in. He did not mind this at all; let them film all they wanted. Thunder Horse Manufacturing had nothing they were looking for.
After the tour of the new workshop, Xia Lei suggested rest in the meeting room and the businessmen were in favour. Having toured the workshops, seen the automatic skateboard and the high-quality parts being processed, some of the businessmen were prepared to place more orders.
Just as Xia Lei was about to take them to the meeting room, Annina walked over and said hesitatingly, “Lukas… I…”
Xia Lei knew what she wanted to say but pretended not to. “What is it, Annina?”
Annina looked at the two German agents to the side of her out of the corner of her eye and forced herself to say, “It’s like this, um, you’re an excellent machinist and I’m a machinist too. I know you have a personal workshop - can you show it to me? You must have designed the automatic skateboard in your workshop, right? This made me very curious.”
“No problem. I’ll take you there to have a look.” Xia Lei agreed immediately.
Xia Lei opened the workshop doors and invited not just Annina in but the businessmen as well, including the two German agents, of course.
The lathe, welding machine and tools in the workshop were all very normal things and no secret - other than the big metal box and the parts of two guns it contained. However, it was locked and there was no way for others to see what was inside.
Looks of disappointment appeared on the faces of the two German agents. They had seen the metal box and that it was locked, but they did not think that the metal box would contain a huge intelligent lathe.
“Lukas, you’re brilliant. You could make such a good product like the automatic skateboard in this environment. You really are a genius machinist.” Annina did not hold back her words of praise, in part to cover her guilty conscience.
Xia Lei laughed. “Thank you. Let’s go to the meeting room.”
Xia Lei brought the businessmen to the meeting room and what followed was business talk.
The two German agents had rounded up these businessmen to organise a tour of Thunder Horse Manufacturing for their own goal but they had brought Thunder Horse Manufacturing a lot of purchase orders while their own goal remained unrealized. This was unexpected.
In the afternoon, Xia Lei invited the visiting businessmen to a hotel near the company for the inevitable banquet when socialising for business. Foreign businessmen might not have this practice but it was a must in China. Deals were made over alcohol in business in China.
Liang Si-Yao showed her communications skills at the banquet. She had studied and worked in America so her English proficiency was no problem and she took care of the foreign businessmen who spoke English. She had wit, humour, and with her pretty face and great figure, the businessmen were easily charmed.
Xia Lei was even more astounding. He could speak German and converse easily with the foreign businessmen, plus speak fluently in English - he even spoke French for a bit with a foreign businessman from France. Some of the businessmen had brought their own secretaries and the secretaries’ eyes were shining when they looked at Xia Lei. He was dashing, handsome, built his own business from scratch, modest and could speak several foreign languages. He seemed to glow with an aura in their eyes - it was perfectly natural for these secretaries to have thoughts about him.
Xia Lei and Liang Si-Yao had great rapport and seemed deeply connected to each other. It was obvious that they were a pair, and an enviable pair too.
Annina, on the other hand, had become the forgotten. She peeked at Xia Lei, her heart full of shame. She glanced occasionally at Liang Si-Yao too and the look in her eyes became more complicated when she looked at her.
Annina had seen Xia Lei’s ‘wife’, Laura, but she knew that she was a fake and that had let a glimmer of hope spring in her heart. After seeing Liang Si-Yao, however, Annina discovered that her hope of being together with Xia Lei was laughable, because Liang Si-Yao and Xia Lei were such a matching pair. Liang Si-Yao was young, pretty and had a sexy body, especially her long legs which even women liked and envied, not to mention men. With a girlfriend like that, how could another woman tear Xia Lei away from her?
“Darling, let’s drink too.” Liang Si-Yao poured for the visiting businessmen and looked at Xia Lei, all smiles.
“Okay, let’s drink a little.” Xia Lei smiled as he lifted his glass.
“I want to cross toast with you,” said Liang Si-Yao charmingly.
“Cross toast… sure, let’s cross toast.” Xia Lei was not shy either and drank a glass of red wine with his arm interlaced with Liang Si-Yao’s slender arm. Liang Si-Yao was his woman and they were going to get married and start a family sooner or later; having a cross toast was nothing much.
Liang Si-Yao drank the red wine in the glass and her smile was especially sweet. She gave Annina a look and her look sent a warning - My man! Don’t even think of it!
This was probably why she wanted to do a cross toast with Xia Lei in a setting like this. This was her declaration of ownership.
Annina looked away from Liang Si-Yao’s gaze. She knew what Liang Si-Yao meant and she couldn’t take it; she hid from it.
Hu Hou laughed and said, “Oh, Xia Lei, you’ve done well at such a young age. You’ve even landed an excellent catch like Miss Liang. You’re a winner in life.”
Xia Lei said a little abashedly, “Mayor Hu, don’t make fun of me. Where would I be today without your help?”
Hu Hou did not actually help much in setting up Thunder Horse Manufacturing but these were nice words to hear. He smiled and said, “Let’s not talk about these. Helping you is my job. You have what you have today because of your own hard work. You must let me know when you and Miss Liang get married. I will definitely come to drink some wedding wine.”
Xia Lei looked at Liang Si-Yao and said with a laugh, “I’m not the sole decision-maker in this matter. She has to agree for it to happen.”
Liang Si-Yao rolled her eyes at Xia Lei but a smile hovered around her lips. Of course she was willing to marry Xia Lei and become a real family. Just that, as a woman, she was not going to agree so easily - that would be making it too easy for him, won’t it?
Hu Hou laughed too. “Oh, I’m an interloper, I see. I’m definitely coming to your wedding. Xia Lei, I have to tell you - proposals are not done like that. Didn’t you watch those love dramas? Go watch them and learn.”
Liang Si-Yao added, “That’s right. You have to move me if you want me to marry you. I want the world’s most romantic proposal. I won’t marry you if it’s not the most romantic.”
Xia Lei was speechless.
The banquet went bustling on. Xia Lei got to know several regional and foreign businessmen this time without the connections of others. This was very important as he needed to build his own connections for business.
Annina got up and went to the washroom not long after the banquet started.
Xia Lei hesitated, then drew close to Liang Si-Yao’s ear and said, “Si-Yao, help me out. Go to the washroom and hand this note to her. Remember - don’t talk. She has a listening device on her.”
Liang Si-Yao’s petite mouth went up in a tiny pout.
Xia Lei bit the bullet and said, “She helped me out a lot when I was in Germany. She’s in trouble now and may even lose her freedom for the rest of her life. I’ll never be able to ease my conscience if I don’t help her in this situation.”
“Okay, I’ll hand it to her,” agreed Liang Si-Yao.
Xia Lei reached out, as if to touch her hand, and put a rolled-up paper into her palm.
Liang Si-Yao rolled her eyes in fake-shyness at Xia Lei, then got up and walked towards the washroom.
Xia Lei let out an internal sigh. He could go to the washroom too but that would draw the attention of the two German agents. Liang Si-Yao was suited for the task because she and Annina were ‘girlfriend’ and ‘third-party’ to the agents. With a relationship like that, and them both being women, it was an exercise of self-restraint just to not get into a catfight, much less talk. Furthermore, they had a language barrier.
Liang Si-Yao entered the washroom just as Annina exited a cubicle. Their eyes met and Annina froze.
Liang Si-Yao held a finger to her lips - the international sign for keeping quiet.
Annina was a smart woman too. She had been about to greet her but she immediately closed her mouth when she saw the gesture. She was curious about why Liang Si-Yao had come, though.
Liang Si-Yao handed the note that Xia Lei had given her to Annina.
Annina hesitated, but still opened the note in front of Liang Si-Yao.
The note was written in German: I know your situation. You need help. If you trust me, contact me when you’re not being monitored. I will do my best to help you.
Annina was touched; it was as if she was seeing the Lukas from Germany again. However, she held it in in front of Liang Si-Yao and did not show her feelings.
Liang Si-Yao bent to look at the contents of the note but could not understand it. She did not stay for much longer and left after looking at it, grumbling to herself, ‘I’m going to use whatever method I have to get him to tell me what he wrote in that note tonight…’
A faint smile appeared in the corners of her lips as she thought of some very interesting methods.
Cross toast / drinking from your own glass with arms crossed: http://i.epochtimes.com/assets/uploads/2009/01/901132130431485.jpgPrevious Chapter Next Chapter