Xia Lei had manpower, equipment and had no lack of materials and capital - it was much faster to upgrade his lathes now than in the beginning. Other than modifying the lathes, he also had to modify three sniper rifles. Two were China-made sniper rifles - one for Tang Yu-Yan and one for Tang Bo-Chuan. The third sniper rifle was the one Annina had made herself. He was going to make adjustments and modify it so that they could bring it to Moscow for the exhibition, as well as for his own use.
A fortnight passed in the blink of an eye.
In the workshop, Xia Lei and Annina worked on a large intelligent lathe, modifying it. They were both excellent machinists, and Xia Lei was a high-level albeit uncertified electrical engineer too. They complemented each other well.
“We did it in two weeks.” Annina lifted an arm to wipe at the sweat on her forehead, then used the towel to wipe the sweat away for Xia Lei.
Plump hips, ample bosom, tall and long-legged; Annina was dressed in blue work clothes but she was still as sexy as ever. The attraction of a blue-collar woman was clearly seen in Annina.
Her movements were gentle and Xia Lei smiled at her.
His smile was like bait, and Annina was hooked. She couldn’t help herself as she drew close and captured his lips.
The workers in the workshop sneaked looks at them, some hiding their smiles behind their hands while some watched with hot, envious eyes. Some others also whispered about them but whatever it was, no one dared to say anything disrespectful to either Xia Lei or Annina. The period of time Xia Lei had spent in the workshop had drawn awe from even the top-level mechanics and electrical engineers hired by the factory, and more so for the normal workers.
“People are watching. We…” Xia Lei was embarrassed.
Annina laughed. “You Chinese are so shy. You obviously want it but don’t dare to go for it.”
Xia Lei just laughed and didn’t discuss the attitudes of Chinese people with her. People with different cultural backgrounds would always have their differences. Westerners were more open and the Chinese more reserved and there were pros for each of these types so there was no need to say which was better.
Just then, Qin Xiang walked into the workshop. He put his hand on his hip and said, “Whatcha all lookin’ at? Get to work!”
The workers then averted their gazes and went back to work. They were afraid of Qin Xiang and they’d even given him a nickname in private - Tigress.
Annina and Xia Lei separated too.
Qin Xiang walked over. “You two, really? There’s a rest area in the workshop. If you don’t like the rest area you can go to my office, y’know? I can cover for you too, so you don’t have to get stared at by this bunch of naughty little rascals.”
Xia Lei smiled wryly. “Just cut to the chase. I’m not going to respond to that barb.”
Qin Xiang shrugged. “Sure, I’ll just say it. Tang Yu-Yan’s looking for you. She wanted to come with me but I told her to wait for you in your office.”
“I’ll go meet her now.” Xia Lei put down the wrench in his hand and left the workshop.
Qin Xiang watched him walk off and smiled as he said, “Aren’t you going to see what’s going on, Annina?”
“See what?” asked Annina casually as she turned a screw with a wrench.
“Nothing. I’ll help you.” Qin Xiang rolled up his sleeves and picked up the wrench which Xia Lei had put down.
“Sure. Turn every screw 10.5 times. No more and no less. Not even half a turn’s error,” said Annina.
“You Germans are so rigid.”
“What did you say?”
“Nothing. I bought a new pack of facial masks. Want one?”
Annina said nothing.
Xia Lei came to the office area and went into his office.
Tang Yu-Yan stood from the sofa and looked at him, all smiles. She was in a teal cheongsum which accentuated her bodyline. Her elegant, almond-shaped eyes, shapely eyebrows, delicate, ruby-lipped mouth, the faint blush on her cheeks and dimples made her look like a lady of China who had just come from the mists of Jiangnan; she had an indescribable beauty reminiscent of the past.
“You’re so pretty,” said Xia Lei in admiration.
Tang Yu-Yan laughed. “I’m not buying that.”
“Then you’re so ugly,” said Xia Lei.
“Up yours.” Tang Yu-Yan rolled her eyes at Xia Lei.
“Okay no more joking. I know why you’re here and I have them ready.” Xia Lei walked to the bookcase behind his desk and pulled open the bottommost drawer to take out two identical sniper rifles.
Tang Yu-Yan narrowed her eyes. She had seen a cooler-looking sniper rifle in that drawer. She went forward and took it out herself without asking Xia Lei for permission.
“You can’t have that one,” said Xia Lei.
“Why not?” Tang Yu-Yan raised the sniper rifle and took aim, then removed the magazine. She did not hide her delight.
“This is a prototype for the factory. I haven’t finished with modifications yet,” said Xia Lei.
“Then give it to me when you’re done,” said Tang Yu-Yan.
“No can do. I’m going to take it to a light weapons exhibition in Moscow when I’m done. It’ll surprise our international friends. If all goes well, this might even bring us a large volume of orders,” said Xia Lei.
“You punk, you’re not giving me the good stuff.” Tang Yu-Yan pulled a face. “And I treated your wound in Afghanistan too. A wound in THAT place!”
Xia Lei laughed dryly. “Why say it like that?”
The corners of Tang Yu-Yan’s mouth turned up. “Do I still need to explain? That Long Bing showed off the present you gave her to me. She didn’t even go to Afghanistan and she got a present from the White Hun Tribe. I was on the brink on death in Afghanistan with you and I got nuh-thing.”
“I actually have something prepared for you.” Xia Lei opened a drawer and took out a paper bag. He put it in Tang Yu-Yan’s hands.
“You… really got me a present?” Tang Yu-Yan was reserved again with the gift in hand.
Xia Lei gave a laugh. “Didn’t you say that we were in and out of danger in Afghanistan and that you even sewed up my backside for me? You need a souvenir, right?”
“Up yours. Don’t talk about your ugly ass again.” She spoke roughly but there was a smile on her face. She opened the paper bag eagerly.
The paper bag held a classy, exquisite gem. It was linked with red sapphires and made one feel that it was most noble-looking from first glance. This was a burial item placed in the coffin of Princess Yong-Mei, so of course it was no normal item.
“This…” Tang Yu-Yan was delighted, and so touched she could not speak.
“Take it. It’s yours,” said Xia Lei.
Tang Yu-Yan did not put it away obediently but put it around her neck to try it on. She only put it away after a few minutes of fiddling with it. She looked at Xia Lei. “I’ve been to the White Hun Tribe and spent some time there. I didn’t even see a copper basin there so why would those women give you such precious jewellery?”
Xia Lei smiled. “Then where do you think these came from?”
Tang Yu-Yan gave him a wicked smile. “I have no idea. I suppose they came from wherever you said they came from.”
Their gazes met and they smiled. It was enough to know where the jewellery had come from. Tang Yu-Yan knew how much Xia Lei had done and it was only right for him to have some repayment.
“I’ve modified the guns for you and your brother. I’ve also tested them. These are about the same as the one I modified for you before.” Xia Lei changed the topic.
“Didn’t expect you to be so quick.” Tang Yu-Yan picked up the unfinished prototype again. She seemed to really like it.
“This is a military factory after all. Of course it’s quick,” said Xia Lei.
Tang Yu-Yan was finally willing to put the prototype down. “I did not come to get the guns this time. I came to get you to come with me to see Grandfather.”
Xia Lei wrinkled his brows. “I’m busy upgrading the lathes in the factory to prepare for the production of sniper rifles. Can you come again in ten days?”
“I know you’re busy, that’s why I came to see you now,” said Tang Yu-Yan. “I specially invited Grandfather from Sichuan to Jingdu. See how big of a deal you are? Grandfather arrived in Jingdu last night. You can spare half a day though you’re so busy, right?”
Xia Lei could not postpone it. “All right. I’ll go take a shower and get changed and I’ll go with you.”
The Tang sect of Sichuan, an ancient clan even more powerful than the Gu clan. Grandfather Tang had already come to Jingdu to meet him, so it would be too imperious of him to delay their meeting with the excuse of being busy.
Half an hour later, Xia Lei got into the Land Rover which Tang Yu-Yan had driven to the military factory and came to a compound with her. On their way there, she had explained that a lot of the Tang sect held positions in the military. Grandfather Tang was an old veteran who had only participated in the Liberation War but still held a high rank before his retirement; he was an important man.
The vehicle came to a stop and Xia Lei alighted. He followed Tang Yu-Yan to a small tree-lined path. The path had small one-storey buildings on both sides and the buildings were old but elaborate and done in good taste. The overall environment was quiet and soothing and though it was in the city there was no feel of a city.
People who could live in places like these were not ordinary people.
“Does your grandfather really want me as his Last Disciple?” Xia Lei had heard that this was happening but he found it surreal when he was actually here.
“Grandfather has expressed this thought but whether it comes true or not depends on you. Aren’t you good at pleasing people? Get into his good graces and who knows, it’ll all be confirmed if he’s happy,” said Tang Yu-Yan.
“I’ll try my best. I want to learn the martial arts of your family. I will accept it too if I fail.” Xia Lei was relaxed about it.
Tang Yu-Yan pointed at a building to one side. “That’s my home. My parents and my brother usually live here and I live somewhere else.”
Xia Lei looked where she pointed and saw the building. He also saw a woman walk over from the other end of the path. He wrinkled his brows when he saw who it was.
The woman was Gu Ke-Wen.
Gu Ke-Wen was in a black dress and she carried a black bag. Her figure was seductively mature and her attitude haughty and frosty. She seemed not to have changed at all, but Xia Lei felt like she had a deeper layer to her exterior which he could not put his finger on.
Gu Ke-Wen saw Xia Lei too. Her gaze held no hate, no enmity, just calm. There was even a smile on her lips for a familiar face; she seemed happy.
Why was she here?
Xia Lei was perplexed.Previous Chapter Next Chapter