Shentu Tian-Yin saw Gu Ding-Shan too and her brows wrinkled for just one second before she smiled and greeted him. “Uncle Gu, when did you arrive? You should’ve given me a call so that I can receive you properly.”
Gu Ding-Shan chuckled. “I came without invitation - you are not displeased, I hope, Tian-Yin?”
“You’re joking, Uncle Gu. You’re a distinguished guest. I’m glad you can come,” said Shentu Tian-Yin.
Gu Ding-Shan shook hands with Li Ming-Ji and greeted him. “When are you coming to my place for a round of golf, Old Li? I’m not pleased with my loss to you last time; I’ll win next time.”
Li Ming-Ji laughed. “No problem, but I will still win next time.”
Gu Ding-Shan shook hands and greeted He Jia-Ying next. “I’ll go with you to Macau after the banquet, Old He. I’d like to play a round or two at your casino.”
He Jia-Ying laughed as he said, “I’ll accompany you when you come.”
Gu Ding-Shan shook his head. “I’m not playing with you. You’re a gambling king and playing with you means losing for me.”
He Jia-Ying just laughed.
Gu Ding-Shan then greeted the other mainlander bigwigs. He was a tycoon too, and one connected to the underworld at that. His prestige was much greater than Shentu Tian-Yin’s. These business tycoons from Hong Kong, Macau and the mainland being on close terms with him was normal. Their circles were the top of the top and Xia Lei did not have the qualifications to join them.
Gu Ding-Shan greeted everyone and Xia Lei was shafted to one side, spared not even a glance.
Xia Lei didn’t mind. They were arch enemies after all and he did not hope for Gu Ding-Shan to shake hands and chat with him either. There was also the thing about smiling while nursing a grudge. He did find it curious though, and thought ‘Gu Ding-Shan came uninvited - it’s not because he wanted to show his face to me, is it? If it is for this reason then he just has too much time on his hands.’
Gu Ding-Shan did glance over occasionally at Xia Lei with a faint sneer on his lips and gaze as cold as ice. His actions seemed to say: You think you can mingle with the big boys?
“Let’s go have a seat, Lei.” Shentu Tian-Yin held Xia Lei’s hand. He had obviously been given the cold shoulder and ignored and she did not want him to feel uncomfortable.
Xia Lei smiled. “Sure.”
Gu Ding-Shan suddenly turned around and looked straight at Xia Lei and Shentu Tian-Yin. “Tian-Yin, is this person your friend? Why don’t you introduce him?”
“This is my boyfriend, Xia Lei,” said Shentu Tian-Yin.
She said it naturally and there was no wavering in her words. Xia Lei, on the other hand, was the one who felt embarrassed. He had encountered a lot of troublesome things the last time he had pretended to be Shentu Tian-Yin’s boyfriend and she was now publicly announcing that he was her boyfriend. Other troubles aside, he was sure to appear on the covers of entertainment and business magazines the next day. Shentu Tian-Yin’s fans and suitors would also scrutinise him from head to toe.
However, he was not upset at all at Shentu Tian-Yin saying that. He was already familiar with how it was like to be her fake boyfriend.
“Your boyfriend? Haha, I’d always thought our Ke-Wu is your boyfriend,” said Gu Ding-Shan with a laugh.
Shentu Tian-Yin’s brows wrinkled. “I don’t like jokes like this, Uncle Gu.”
He Jia-Ying laughed and said, “Tian-Yin, Old Gu is just joking with you, don’t mind it. You’re someone worth billions; who knows how many men are after you. You have to be careful and look at each suitor to make sure you’re not being fooled by some poor beggar. You need to look for a man who is suitable if you want to fall in love.”
This He Jia-Ying was evidently on close terms with Gu Ding-Shan and seemed to know some of the situation, otherwise he would not show support for Gu Ding-Shan at this time. And the ‘poor beggar’ he spoke of was obviously Xia Lei. In the eyes of a big tycoon like him, a person worth two to three hundred million like Xia Lei was indeed lacking and a poor beggar.
Shentu Tian-Yin’s displeasure became more pronounced. “Uncle He, what do you mean by that? My boyfriend has his own company. He is not chasing after women for money, including me.”
“So he has money. Want to go one round with me?” There was a smile on He Jia-Ying’s face but he looked at Xia Lei with challenge in his eyes.
Gu Ke-Wu had seemingly found an opportunity to take Xia Lei down a peg and said, “Uncle He, don’t make things difficult for Mr Xia. He just has one little factory and processes parts for others. He had his factory sealed by the Trade and Commerce Bureau for a period of time too because of quality issues. He’d only just recently re-opened. Would he have money to gamble with you? I can play with you if you feel your hand’s itching to play.”
“No money? How can Tian-Yin’s boyfriend have no money?” Gu Ding-Shan laughed as he said, “One or two hundred million is just chump change in Tian-Yin’s eyes. Won’t she be the one taking out the cash if her boyfriend is the one gambling? Right, Tian-Yin? You won’t be a wet blanket, will you?”
Shentu Tian-Yin’s face turned red with anger. She knew that this He Jia-Ying was skilled in the gambling field and it would just be gifting him money if Xia Lei played against him. Additionally, Gu Ding-Shan had already had some agreements with him. If Xia Lei really gambled with them, it would be like sending a lamb into the tiger’s cave or swimming into the net. However, their perception of him would worsen further if he refused - this made Shentu Tian-Yin troubled.
Xia Lei could see the problem too. Dirty deeds and poison went hand in hand since ancient times. Since the Gu clan came from the underworld, they cannot be without their poison of gambling, and Hai-Zhu and Macau were so close to each other so how could the both of them not know each other? These two people were now colluding with each other to get him in trouble, and in a most sinister way!
This set-up looked like a friendly jest of a bet but it was not that simple. The gambling king was going to play and with Ding-Shan acting as support, it was set in stone that Xia Lei would lose money. These people could lose or win hundreds of millions like it was nothing but Xia Lei had only that little bit on him. Once he lost, his newly-expanding business would go bust and he would disappoint Shentu Tian-Yin on top of that. Would Gu Ding-Shan still have trouble dealing with a man who had lost everything later?
“Lei, let’s go.” Shentu Tian-Yin wanted to take Xia Lei away.
Gu Ding-Shan mocked, “Better you go home to wash clothing and cook meals. It must be so nice to be a house-husband. Why come out a play at being a successful man?”
Xia Lei did not move. He said to Shentu Tian-Yin, “Tian-Yin, I’ll play with them.”
“You…” Shentu Tian-Yin paused. She’d never thought that Xia Lei would make a decision like this.
“It’s just playing around; it’s nothing. How can I be a wet blanket when Boss Gu and Boss He are so eager to play?” said Xia Lei.
Shentu Tian-Yin leaned in to Xia Lei’s ear and said a little angrily, “Can’t you see? These two are in cahoots. It’s what they do. You’ll lose horribly if you bet against them. There are many people who want to jump off buildings in Macau every day. Quite a few were like this, having their own small companies, successful careers or comfortable families but lost everything in one night. Do you want to be like them?”
Xia Lei just grinned. “Don’t worry, I have my limits.”
“Why are you so stubborn?” Shentu Tian-Yin was truly angry now. “Can you wake up from your delusion?”
Xia Lei spoke calmly, “I’m awake. You don’t have to bother about this.”
“You…” Shentu Tian-Yin was so angry she let go of Xia Lei’s arm.
Gu Ding-Shan chuckled. “Now you’re being a man. Tian-Yin, find a place for us. We’ll play with Mr Xia.”
Shentu Tian-Yin wanted to reject the request but then thought that it would be even worse if Xia Lei went somewhere else with them. She made a decision after weighing the pros and cons. “All right, come with me.” She rolled her eyes at Xia Lei when she was done talking.
Xia Lei pretended not to see.
Gu Ding-Shan and He Jia-Ying could turn into neanderthals at any time in Xia Lei’s eyes. What card could he not see? Should he be afraid of gambling with these two? It’s wasn’t as if he did not know about Shentu Tian-Yin’s worry but explaining too much to her would make the two wiley old foxes smell a rat, and that wouldn’t be fun!
Shentu Tian-Yin led the way and a few business tycoons came to a cardroom in the hotel. The cardroom was well-equipped - mahjong machine, dice, pai gow, you name it, they have it.
Xia Lei looked about the cardroom and said, “I didn’t bring any cash. It’s all in my bank account, so how to I bet?”
He Jia-Ying laughed and said, “Mr Xia, did you forget what I do? I am the banker. How much do you have in your account? I can help you withdraw all of it in half an hour.”
“I still have about a hundred and fifty million in my account. How much are we playing for?” said Xia Lei.
“A hundred and fifty million? That’s maybe about two rounds.” He Jia-Ying talked big. He waved his hand and one of his subordinates walked to Xia Lei.
“Mr Xia, I will help you withdraw the money from your bank account. One hundred and fifty million. I suggest you convert the amount into denominations of 500 Euros. It will be easier to work with the converted amount,” said the subordinate.
Xia Lei nodded. “Okay, How will you convert it?”
The subordinate took out a calculator and went tippity-tap on it as he said, “One hundred and fifty million Chinese yuan can be exchanged for 21,180,000 Euros. If we change it all to 500 Euro bills, that will be 42,360 bills. Every bill weighs 1.1 grams, so the total is 46,596 grams. Do you find this too troublesome, Mr Xia?”
“No, not at all. But is the money being withdrawn from you? I have to see where the money is, right?” said Xia Lei casually.
“We have our rules, of course.” The subordinate took out his phone and made a call. He said just one line into the phone. “Bring the money up.”
Gu Ding-Shan also made a call and he said ‘bring it here’.
Shentu Tian-Yin pulled Xia Lei to one side and said in a low voice, “What’s wrong with you today? Don’t you see? They’ve even had the money prepared - this is obviously a set-up.”
Xia Lei smiled and said, “It’s fine. It’s just playing around. I don’t play cards often; I’d like to play.”
“You…” Shentu Tian-Yin was beyond annoyed. “You’re possessed! Your money is for expanding your business, and your employees are waiting for you to give them their wages. Have you thought about what you’d do if you lost all your money? What about your company?”
“How do you know I’ll lose when I haven’t started playing? Don’t keep saying I’ll lose - it’ll affect my hand,” said Xia Lei.
Gu Ding-Shan and He Jia-Ying heard what Xia Lei said and they smiled as they exchanged glances.
Shentu Tian-Yin gave a sigh full of disappointment. “Go gamble, then. I won’t lend you any money if you lose.”
Xia Lei just smiled wryly.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
We have 48 chapters more to go to chapter 300 so here I am casting the net for some ideas on what to do for this happy event.
Ideas I have so far:
1) Doing a live-reading of chapter 300 on Discord. (There is a voice-channel called 'storytelling'.)
2) Another Q&A with me :D
3) I'll sing 3 songs of your choosing (top 3 highest-voted in comments) on Discord. Any language, as long as it's not something impossible like dubstep or inhumane screeching.
Get voting, get commenting, keep the suggestions coming till the last day of September 2018!