Wangfu Hotel. In a multi-purpose hall.
“Tianyin, why didn’t you tell me you had this planned earlier?” Ahn Suhyeong smiled as he walked towards Shentu Tianyin, who was standing in the doorway.
Shentu Tianyin was not alone. Gu Kewen and Fu Mingmei stood with her. It looked like a display of the flower which was Shentu Tianyin, the focus of the group of three women; one could not help fantasising. Next to Shentu Tianyin, the young lady of the Gu clan who used to be a socialite had lost her former glory and could only act as a supporting character to her.
A faint smile appeared on Shentu Tianyin’s lips as she said lightly, “I was not the one who arranged it - it was the Jingdu Chamber of Commerce which organised this charity event. There’s an entrance fee. I’ve already paid for you.”
“How could I let you do that? I should be the one paying,” said Ahn Suhyeong.
“It’s just a small sum, so don’t mind it. If you really care, then you should bid on an item or two in the charity auction later,” said Shentu Tianyin.
“No problem. Let’s go in then.” Ahn Suhyeong wanted to take Shentu Tianyin’s hand but she had already turned and walked in.
Gu Kewen took one step into the way of Ahn Suhyeong.
Ahn Suhyeong wrinkled his brows but he did not express his anger further.
“Haven you seen Xia Lei, Mr Ahn?” said Gu Kewen softly.
Ahn Suhyeong paused and looked sharply at Gu Kewen. “You must be asking the wrong person about him. I did not see him and I don’t want to hear his name either.”
Gu Kewen gave him a smile. “Don’t mind me, Mr Ahn. I was just asking.” She left him with those words and went into the hall.
Ahn Suhyeong wrinkled his brows. “Why did this woman suddenly ask if I’d seen Xia Lei? Does she know something? Impossible…”
The guests in the multi-purpose room were lofty as clouds; there were important figures in the Jingdu industry circles as well as several well-known and respected national faces. The added net worth of all these people was at least hundreds of billions. Only the Chamber of Commerce could gather people such as these - even Shentu Tianyin could not do such a thing.
The charity banquet had not officially begun yet, and the guests were all chatting in small groups.
Shentu Tianyin brought Ahn Suhyeong with her to introduce him to a few important people in the business world and made sure to praise Ahn Suhyeong for his talent and eye in business and so on. The important people who spoke to Ahn Suhyeong also liked very much that he was the young master of Shinyeok Group, and they conversed readily.
Ahn Suhyeong was rather chuffed. It was also his first time of having this feeling of being Shentu Tianyin’s ‘boyfriend’.
A group of reporters soon gathered to interview Shentu Tianyin and Ahn Suhyeong about the mobile phone collaboration project between Vientaine Group and Shinyeok Group. This had been pre-arranged by Shentu Tianyin; she was good at using the voice of media to build momentum for business.
Fu Mingmei frowned as she watched Shentu Tianyin and Ahn Suhyeong face the reporters breezily with smiles on their faces. She grumbled to herself, “What the hell is that punk Xia Lei doing? He’s such a disappointment. I thought he was going to be with Tianyin the last time since they almost kissed but here he is again, playing ‘Where’s Wally’. Ah, you really can’t carve a bird of prey out of rotten wood…”
Gu Kewen walked slowly to Fu Mingmei and said softly, “Tianyin and Ahn Suhyeong sure are a perfect pair. A wealthy man and a beautiful woman, and their statuses match too - this must be a match made in Heaven.”
Fu Mingmei rolled her eyes at her. “And you used to say that about Tianyin and your brother too.”
Gu Kewen had indeed thought so and said such things in the past but Gu Kewu was still imprisoned.
This was undoubtedly a taunt, but there was no trace of unhappiness on Gu Kewen’s face. She gave a laugh. “My brother failed, and the victor is King. There’s nothing worth mentioning about that. Men will always want to get the best woman in the world and the greatest power. Didn’t my brother fight tooth and nail with Xia Lei back then only to have this Ahn Suhyeong sneak in now?”
Fu Mingmei gave her an odd look. “You’ve changed a lot.”
Gu Kewen let out a soft sigh. “People always change.”
The charity banquet begun and the head of Jingdu Chamber of Commerce gave a speech. This charity banquet’s theme was ‘Love, Care, Dedication’ and the items on auction were not expensive wines but some donated artwork by artists. The money raised would be used to help poor university students and the left-behind children of the mountainous regions.*
After the speech, music begun to play in the background and a huge plasma display on the main wall started to play a documentary about the living circumstances of university students in poverty and the living situation of left-behind children.
It was a good purpose and a good thing to have a charity banquet but few of the billionaires there cared about the unfortunate. They did not take notice of the documentary playing, and were not affected by the sadness of the background music - they talked business, golf and some were even hunting for pretty women.
Ahn Suhyeong was one of them. He had no interest in students or children - he only cared about Shentu Tianyin.
Ahn Suhyeong was in the best mood he had been recently. Xia Lei was in his hands and he just hand to hand him over to the CIA. They had promised to help his father’s election in the next presidential election of the President of South Korea. His father, Ahn Geungan, would then be likely to be the next Korean president. He would not just be the young master of the Shinyeok Group then!
What made him happier was that Shentu Tianyin’s attitude towards him had changed, and this made him see an opportunity to get closer to her.
Power, a beautiful woman - both were in his grasp!
What else could be worth getting happy about?
The art auction begun. The host put a painting of mountainous scenery on display. A picture of the painting was also put on huge display on the wall, big enough for everyone present to see the details of the painting clearly.
The artist was not famous and no one pushed the price up. It was finally sold for the minimum price.
The host then put up a thangka for auction - it was exquisite.
Shentu Tianyin looked at the thangka on display and said with feeling, “It’s beautiful. My father is a Buddhist and he’d surely love this. I’d like to give this to him.”
“Uncle likes this?” said Ahn Suhyeong, “Then I’ll win the auction and give it as a present to Uncle.”
Shentu Tianyin did not clarify if she wanted it; she just gave him a faint smile.
Her smile was like an arrow of excitement, and it shot straight into Ahn Suhyeong’s heart. He raised his bidding paddle when the host said ‘50,000’ and called out, “One million!”
The host was delighted and raised his voice. “This gentleman here bid one million. Are there any other bids? This thangka is the work of the late artist, Balimu. It is fifty years old and the appreciation price for this piece is great…”
“1,100,000!” Someone else raised his paddle.
“Good, that gentleman bid 1,100,000! Anyone else cares to bid? 1,100,000 going once!” The host was experienced and knew what to so.
Ahn Suhyeong wrinkled his brows and glanced at the man who had raised his paddle. He raised his own paddle for the second time. “2,000,000!”
This aggressive bidding style set the bidding rival back on his haunches and he did not raise his paddle. The thangka was valuable and a work of cultural value but it was not like other works which had hundreds of years of history. This fifty-year-old thangka was not worth it when the price went above a million, much less two.
The host understood this and did not dilly-dally. He said, “This gentleman bid two million. Two million going once. Two million going twice…”
"I, I… I bid 5,000,000!” A voice rang out in the hall, drawing the eyes of many.
Those present were all billionaires and spending a few million on artwork was like buying a piece of clothing for normal people - it wasn’t much. However, it was fairly curious when someone was bidding 5,000,000 for something that was worth 50,000.
Who was the person who had bid?
Even Shentu Tianyin couldn’t help looking and she was stunned when she saw who it was.
A young man wearing the uniform of the service staff of Wangfu Hotel stood under the gazes of everyone. He was holding up a bidding paddle nervously, standing straight as a rod. Sweat beaded his forehead.
Ahn Suhyeong was surprised too but he quickly recovered. “What’s going on here? Did he come to cause trouble?”
The host didn’t know what was going on either and he said tentatively, “Listen, you need to know that if you don’t buy it after bidding for it, you…”
Before the host could finish, the service staff cut him off and said, “N, No, it’s not me buying. I’m bidding on the behalf of someone. The man said that, that…”
“What did he say?” asked the host patiently.
The service staff boy forced himself to say, “He said ‘Koreans have money to buy such expensive works of art?’ And he also said if the price went up to two million, that mister sh, should…”
“Should what?” said Ahn Suhyeong angrily.
“Should go study how to make kimchi,” said the boy.
“Hahaha…” Some unknown person laughed rudely.
Conversation buzzed in the multi-purpose hall.
It was obvious that someone had put down a deposit to have a member of the service staff do the bidding, not to participate in the auction but to humiliate Ahn Suhyeong.
Ahn Suhyeong was a smart man. He swept his gaze over the multi-purpose hall, trying to see which fellow it was who did this but he did not see anyone suspicious.
“5,000,000 going once!” The host did not care about personal grudges. The higher the price the greater his commission.
Ahn Suhyeong snorted and raised his paddle for the third time. “6,000,000!”
“10,000,000!” The boy raised his paddle and called out a price swiftly.
The venue was abuzz. Was that hidden bidder insane?
“15,000,000!” The boy called out; no pressure on him.
“20,000,000!” Ahn Suhyeong was afire; he had lost all sense of reason.
“Two hundr…” The boy stopped and suddenly said, “You win. That artwork is yours.”
Ahn Suhyeong was rooted to the spot.
“20,000,000 going once, twice, 20,000,000 going thrice!” The host spoke faster and faster, hurrying to close the deal. The boy was not raising his paddle so the host was a fool if he believed that another fool would bid higher than 20,000,000 for a thangka worth 50,000.
Applause rang out in the multi-purpose hall.
The applause was in praise of Ahn Suhyeong’s generosity but it rang like jeering in his ears. He stared darkly at the service staff boy but could not remember where he had seen him before.
Shentu Tianyin smiled and said, “Suhyeong, I did not expect that you would support the charitable cause so wholeheartedly. You’ve shown me a different side of you.”
Ahn Suhyeong barely managed to squeeze out a smile on his face. “Nothing is too expensive as long as Uncle likes it. Besides, it’s for the sake of those children in poverty too.”
“Thank you.” Shentu Tianyin’s smile was very sweet.
Just then, a picture suddenly appeared on the huge liquid crystal display on the wall.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
*Left-behind children - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left-behind_children_in_China