I’ve No Interest In Watching You Bathe
With materials and equipment all readied, Xia Lei progressed quickly in his processing. By his calculations, he would be able to complete the order in under half a month.
Chi Jing-Qiu did not disturb him again. She was a dignified lady after all, and even if she did try to disturb him again she would not do it to the point of harassment. Xia Lei was not concerned about anything to do with her any longer. Outside of precision processing, he closed himself in the villa’s study to read. He read everything; precision machining, precision welding welding technology, electrical engineering, mechanical design, foreign languages, business management, capital operation and so on. He was like a sponge, greedily absorbing knowledge like nutrients. Every minute he spent at East Wind Heavy Industries was enriching.
His greatest gain, however, was not progress in completing the order or knowledge obtained. His greatest gain was greater familiarity with the use of his eye after using it more frequently. He had reached the level of sending and receiving signals directly from his mind. His control of the power was also getting more steady and he could mostly minimise the consequence of overuse of the eye such as fatigue and hallucinations.
A simple example was when he was doing precision processing. He used the left eye’s zooming-in power for that and was easily hit with the consequence of overuse. After gaining more control with practice, his left eye would switch off the ability when he did not need to stare at the precision processing and let him rest. He used to need to deliberately control it but it had become a sort of habit now which was tied in with a lot of practice. It had become as natural as breathing and there was no need for deliberate control.
Ten days passed in a flash.
“Not bad, Little Lei. You have completed two thirds of the order in these past ten days. What’s more commendable is that you did not have to scrap any of them and saved us a large amount of materials. This is the first time I’ve seen someone of your workmanship level - genius! With talent like yours, our country’s hopes of greater power could be realised! Haha!” Ning Yuan-Shan was overjoyed and his laughter rang throughout the workshop.
Xia Lei wiped his perspiration with a towel, smiled and said, “Uncle Ning, I am not such a talent. I only know how to do a little bit of metalworking.”
“Modest. Such modesty from an amazing guy! Oh, how rare, how rare. How about staying and not going back to your workshop? Come to my place. I’ll give you a workshop to manage and your remuneration will be two million yuan a year. How about that?” Ning Yuan-Shan looked at Xia Lei with eyes full of expectation.
One month prior, Xia Lei’s salary was just 3,000 yuan and it was not fixed at that amount either. Now someone was offering him an annual salary of two million; changes in life really were unpredictable. If it was a month ago, don’t even speak of two million - if someone had offered him a 100,000 annual salary, Xia Lei would have agreed ten thousand times over. However, two million yuan only held a certain degree of attraction for him now and was not able to move him into making a decision.
“Thank you, Uncle Ning but as you can see, I am used to freelance work and I’m not suited for corporate life. It is better for me to work in my own workshop. I would earn less but I like my freedom there.” Xia Lei declined Ning Yuan-Shan’s kindness politely.
Ning Yuan-Shan looked a little disappointed, “I know you would like to make a name for yourself so it wasn’t right of me to ask a talent like yourself to come join my company. That’s good too. Do what you like. But if Uncle here has any difficulties like the one you’re helping me with now, you must come lend a hand.”
Xia Lei grinned, “Definitely. Don’t worry about it, Uncle Ning.”
“Come to my home and have a meal, Little Lei. I’ll call that little scamp Ning Jing over too. The two of you haven’t met for ten days so she must miss you a lot,” said Ning Yuan-Shan.
Xia Lei sensed a headache coming on and said, “I’d better not go. I’ll get easily distracted if I see her. I will be done in a few days and it doesn’t matter if I’m late a few days in seeing her.”
Ning Yuan-Shan laughed again, “Career-minded! You can resist even the temptation of love. Promising, promising.”
Xia Lei was getting uncomfortable from his praise. He was quietly glad that Ning Yuan-Shan was not Ning Jing’s father or it would have been even more exaggerated.
However, if you looked at it from Ning Yuan-Shan’s perspective, the young man was handsome, charming, skilled, career-minded, realistic, steadfast and had no parents - how could he not like him as a future spouse of a member of the Ning clan? It was not just Ning Yuan-Shan, Ning Jing’s own father would like him too. Unfortunately, they did not know that Xia Lei and Ning Jing were not in an actual relationship.
One young and one old left the workshop, engaged in cheerful banter. Xia Lei accompanied Ning Yuan-Shan part of the way till he got to a path heading towards the accommodations and Ning Yuan-Shan moved towards the garage.
Back in the villa, Xia Lei took off his clothes and jumped into the indoor hot spring pool to wash off the grease and enjoy the massage of flowing water. He would always soak himself every day after work at this time and it was the most relaxing time of day for him.
Click-clack. The sound of high-heels clicking on floors suddenly came from behind him.
This sound made Xia Lei wrinkle his brows, “Chi Jing-Qiu, are you not done? Will you believe me if I say I will call Chairman Ning right now and let him have a talk with you?”
Click, clack. The sound of footsteps did not stop - instead, it was approaching.
“Really, you…” Xia Lei twisted his neck around to look and stared blankly.
The one walking towards him was not Chi Jing-Qiu but Long Bing.
Black skirt, black heels and a face of ice. Her appearance seemed to carry a natural chill and the temperature of the room dropped by several degrees.
Xia Lei quickly snapped out of it and turned around in a panic, dunking himself deeper into the pool. A worry then came to him that the water was transparent and he covered his important part. Long Bing’s appearance made him flounder and he felt embarrassed, too.
Long Bing walked around the pool to stand opposite Xia Lei, then slowly seated herself on a chair and looked right at Xia Lei. “I am going back to Jing-Du. I’ve come to see you before leaving.”
Xia Lei was at a loss; he asked awkwardly, “Um, I’m taking a bath now. Couldn’t you have picked another time?”
“I know. This doesn’t bother me,” said Long Bing.
Xia Lei had no idea of how to handle her. He was in trouble as soon as she appeared.
“I’d always thought you weren’t so simple but you’ve surprised me again this time. The precision parts you are processing for East Wind Heavy Industries needed to be imported and could not be processed unless the newest technological equipment could be imported. You actually processed these manually. I am getting more and more curious about you. Can you tell me how you did it?”
“It’s better if you don’t ask about things you shouldn’t know,” said Xia Lei.
Long Bing paused. She suddenly recalled that this line was what she had said to Xia Lei in the Archaeological Bureau after knocking Ning Jing unconscious. Xia Lei had unexpectedly used the same line to answer her now. That’s right - she told him nothing so why would he tell her anything?
“Did you come here to ask me this?” asked Xia Lei.
Long Bing opened her handbag and took out a cheque. She placed it on the tiles by the pool.
Xia Lei’s left eye twitched and the cheque about three metres away looked to be right in front of him, details all clearly legible. It was a cheque for 50,000. Though he’d seen it clearly, he pretended not to know, “What’s that?”
“This is 50,000 yuan - your reward. I know the Archaeological Bureau did not pay you,” said Long Bing.
“You took the compass away and angered them. They couldn’t take it out on you so I naturally became the target. They definitely wouldn’t pay me but I can’t take your money either. Please take it away,” said Xia Lei.
“This money isn’t from me, it’s from the government. I’ll take it away if you don’t want it,” said Long Bing.
“I’ll accept it then. Thanks,” Xia Lei smiled. Government payment? Of course he’d take it. The money should have been his anyway.
“Based on my observations in this period of time, I think you’re not too bad. You also have some ability. Are you interested in working for me?”
“What will I work as for you?”
“I cannot tell you now,” said Long Bing, “If you agree, you will be sent to an undisclosed location for training. You will know what your work is once you pass the test.”
Xia Lei looked at Long Bing. “You’re an agent, and a very specialised one at that, aren’t you?”
Long Bing neither confirmed nor denied it. She just looked quietly as Xia Lei, watching him and waiting for his response.
Xia Lei thought for a bit, then shook his head. “I’m a normal guy and I still have my little sister to take care of. I cannot live my life under a hail of gunfire so I’d have to say no to your offer. I’m doing quite nicely now and I don’t wish to make any changes.”
“Good men should work for their country. You have a very strong ability and with training you can become a powerful person. Why don’t you want to serve your country?”
Xia Lei laughed. “I can’t agree with you on that. There are many ways to serve the country like farmers who grow crops, produce grain and cotton - this serves the country too. Workers work in production and construction - this also serves the country. I am contributing to the building of this nation too. Aren’t these all ways of serving the country?”
Long Bing wrinkled her brows. “I cannot convince you but I’ll wait. I believe a day will come when you understand what I mean.”
Xia Lei did not say anything but he felt sure a day like that would never come.
Long Bing stood from her seat. “I’ve stayed long enough. I should be going now. I know your sister will go to Jing-Du to study so you can tell her to give me a call when she is there, I’ll take care of her.”
“Thank you. I’ll let her know.” Xia Lei was perhaps overwhelmed with gratitude but he forgot that he was naked in the bath. As Long Bing got up to leave, he hurriedly stood as well out of politeness to send her to the door. When he stood in a sploosh of water, he realised his mistake and quickly crouched again, making sure to cover his ‘part’ up.
In that short window of time, Long Bing’s face suddenly took on a blush. This was a rare sight indeed - at least for Xia Lei since he had never seen her embarrassed before.
It passed quickly though and Long Bing was back to normal. She spoke offhandedly, “There’s no need to cover it up. I’ve seen it already. It’s ugly.”
Xia Lei was speechless.
“Goodbye.” Long Bing turned to leave and she did not look back.
Xia Lei loosened his hands and looked at a certain thing in the water, then mumbled to himself, “Did she really see you? Are you really ugly?” He stood again. He’d lost interest in bathing.
At that moment, Long Bing suddenly turned back.
“Ah!” Xia Lei shrieked, then covered his important part and crouched down. Flustered, he asked, “What the heck are you doing?”
“I’ve no interest in watching you bathe.”
Being stared at like that and shot with such words made Xia Lei so depressed he could vomit blood.
“I forgot something.” Long Bing walked to the side of the pool, opened her handbag and placed a black leather wallet on the tiles, saying, “This is my gift to you - your driving license.”
Xia Lei was shocked. “Aren’t driving licenses from the driving school?”
“I am the driving school,” said Long Bing.
Xia Lei suddenly laughed. Long Bing could make Jiang Ru-Yi into Chief. Compared to that, getting him a driving license was no big deal and him asking her questions about it really was superfluous.
“Go buy a car. It’ll be more convenient for us to meet in the future.”
Xia Lei laughed dryly. “I knew you wouldn’t give me something for free.”
Long Bing did not waste further words and turned to leave.
This time, Xia Lei waited till she was out of sight before he climbed cautiously out of the pool, then used a towel to wrap his whole body up tightly.
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