Persuading Annina was not difficult for Xia Lei. He easily convinced her beneath the covers on the night he returned to Thunder Horse Military Factory from the Tang household.
Annina wanted very much to go to Russia with Xia Lei and see the gun she had designed wow the crowds with her own eyes; this was also something her father and grandfather would wish to see. This thought was fairly attractive but she knew well that there were sure to be German and American agents in that place. Her life would be over if she were to get caught, so she gave up on the idea of going to Moscow with Xia Lei.
The relevant preparations were all put smoothly in motion.
Xia Lei’s attention went from the ancient alloy to his company. He flew to Sichuan a few days later to his branch company in Deyang.
The branch company in Sichuan had been successfully established and production and business were running normally. The country was developing the areas in the west and had a great need for machining and processing; there was no need to worry about orders coming in. The branch company was also always hiring and their employee count had more than doubled.
Zhou Xiaohong accompanied him throughout his few days’ stay in Sichuan. She did not sneak naked into Xia Lei’s bed this time. Xia Lei also blazed through the company’s development plans and agreed upon certain things with the local authorities regarding land, manpower and development.
Xia Lei went straight from Sichuan to Haizhu, and back to Thunder Horse Manufacturing.
One could not deny that Guan Lingshan had grown into a fine young woman, a person who could handle everything. She managed the company well in Xia Lei’s absence and the profits were nothing to sneeze at.
Thunder Horse Manufacturing had far outstripped its early days where it depended on processing parts to get by. Their main product, the automatic surfboard, sold like hot cakes in domestic and foreign markets. Even the added production capacities from the outsourced companies were not exactly enough to meet demand. The situation now for Xia Lei was such that he had a steady stream of money going into his pockets whether he was sitting or lying down. The memory of worrying over having to pay wages and insurances was like a distant dream.
His riches could not be compared to Shentu Tianyin but he would surely speed along the route to catching up with her if the XL2500 sniper rifle made a splash in the weapons market. His progress then could be compared to adding wings to his back. The most profitable business since ancient times was warfare, after all.
Would Thunder Horse Manufacturing be a military business of the level of Lockheed Martin one day? No one could say for sure. Xia Lei had another important attribute other than his myriad of abilities - and that was his youth!
The first thing Xia Lei did after returning to Haizhu City was to put his three companies under one umbrella, and officially register them under the name of Thunder Horse Group. He was the only shareholder, and the only chairman.
When Hu Hou, the mayor of Haizhu City, heard that Xia Lei had come back, he came personally to try to persuade Xia Lei to get himself listed. Xia Lei rejected him as he had done before. He did not need investors and there was no need to get listed on the market to get capital. More importantly, he did not want the company he had painstakingly built to be taken from him, and a Board which would influence his decisions.
Thunder Horse Group was his kingdom and he was the kingdom’s only king.
After he was done with the matter of uniting his three companies under one umbrella, Xia Lei worked overtime on expansion plans for the Haizhu City headquarters. The branch company in Sichuan was also preparing for development so the main headquarters cannot do without either - it had to be even bigger.
This bit of business took several days and Xia Lei didn’t even have time to go home. He only finished putting the things he needed in order on the sixth day he was back in Haizhu, and had the thought of returning home then.
“There isn’t any more work that needs your attention today, Director Xia. Do you have any plans?” said Guan Lingshan with a smile. They were in the office.
The title Guan Lingshan used for Xia Lei changed after he put his three companies in one group; he went from chairman to director. This was needed because Xia Lei had promoted her from assistant to Haizhu’s CEO. The CEO in Sichuan was Zhou Xiaohong, of course, and Qin Xiang was the CEO in Jingdu. Annina was still just Chief Engineer due to her special circumstances.
Xia Lei smiled. “I don’t have any plans. I’d like to stay at home; I haven’t been back in forever.”
Disappointment flashed in Guan Lingshan’s eyes. “Some colleagues and I were talking and we’d like to invite you for karaoke…”
“No thanks. Maybe next time. I do want to go home and see how everything is. It’s been a busy past few days and you’re tired too. Go home early and rest,” said Xia Lei.
“Nn, okay.” Guan Lingshan did not push further.
Xia Lei looked at Guan Lingshan. “Right, you’ve done great work. I’d like to reward you - what would you like?”
Guan Lingshan shook her head. “Director Xia, I was just a fresh graduate a year ago, earning just a few thousand. You promoted me to the CEO of Haizhu operations with a salary of over a million. I am deeply grateful to you - how can I still ask for a reward? I cannot, I cannot.”
A girl who’d come out of university a year ago becoming a CEO now was something quite legendary in the industry. Guan Lingshan was a person who knew how to be content and grateful and she did not want any further reward, of course. Xia Lei found this part of her highly invaluable, otherwise he would not have promoted her.
Xia Lei did not press her when he saw how she’d reacted. He smiled. “All right, I’ll give you a big red packet at the end of the year.”
Guan Lingshan chuckled. “Then thank you, Director Xia.”
“Have you found your other half?”
“Huh?” Guan Lingshan reddened right away and said a little hesitantly, “Why ask this, Director Xia? I’m still young, and it’s too early for me to be in a relationship.”
“Is it wrong to show concern for you? If you fall in love and have a boyfriend I will give you a big red packet too,” said Xia Lei.
“I… I’ll go check on the workshops.” Guan Lingshan avoided Xia Lei’s line of talk and left his office like she was running away from something.
The sun hang low in the horizon, sinking lower, lower, and the space between the land and the sky was filled with a scattering of clouds. It looked like a gigantic dragon prancing about in the sky with its fangs bared, about to burst out of the skies at any moment and up into the stratosphere.
A black BMW M6 galloped into the setting sun, through streets and entered an old neighbourhood.
Familiar sights, familiar faces. A feeling of familiarity and comfort enveloped Xia Lei once he alighted; it was a comfortable feeling. Only people who had drifted for some time would know this feeling.
A group of middle-aged women walked past with sound equipment and one of them recognised Xia Lei. “Hey, isn’t this Lei?”
“Hello, Auntie Zhao.” Xia Lei gave a polite greeting. He recognised all these aunties.
“Oh my, still so polite after making it big. How rare,” giggled Auntie Zhao. “Do you have a girlfriend? Should Auntie introduce someone to you?”
Xia Lei hightailed it out of there.
The group of aunties chattered on behind him.
“Look at Lei. Started a company, drives a BMW… That little punk of mine sits at home every day playing that Cutie Cutie Hero game. He’s driving me crazy!”
“Yeah, my little wench got herself a boyfriend but he doesn’t even have a house. She won’t listen to me, no matter what I say. My liver’s going to explode with anger.”
“Lei sure is capable. He’s a self-made man, and also has a good temperament. Any girl who marries him sure is fortunate.”
“Come on, you honking geese, or our spot will be taken.”
The group of aunties walked off, laughing and talking.
Xia Lei smiled wryly as he shook his head and continued walking towards the stairwell. However, he stopped in his tracks a few steps later - standing in this most familiar place was a most familiar person. Jiang Ruyi.
Jiang Ruyi was on the balcony in her policewoman uniform. She had a great figure, with all the right curves in all the right places, and was as mesmerising as ever, especially her bright, dark eyes. Her eyes were like two sprites which could speak and their speech was graceful, pleasant.
The sight of Jiang Ruyi stirred up childhood memories in Xia Lei’s head - him and her slinging mud at each other and him ending up being the one running away despite being a boy; him and her taking a bath in the creek buck-naked, then eagerly discussing why his body had something hers didn’t. When their discussion turned into a fight, she had grabbed the extra part of his that she lacked and tried to rip it off him…
These were all precious memories. A smile appeared in the corners of Xia Lei’s mouth. “How have you been, Ruyi?”
Jiang Ruyi pouted. “Same old, same old, going to work and coming home. I think of this one bad fellow once in a while.”
Xia Lei knew who this ‘bad fellow’ was. He laughed and said, “Long time no see; you’re still the same, trying to bully me as soon as you see me.”
“Me? Bully you? Like hell I... “ Jiang Ruyi stopped suddenly. “Forget it. I won’t scold you. I’m in the middle of changing my temperament now.”
Xia Lei walked over. “That’s the right thing to do, isn’t it? Women should be gentle.”
“Not as if someone will want me if I’m gentle…” Jiang Ruyi muttered under her breath.
A woman walked out from inside at that moment and a smile appeared on her face when she saw Xia Lei. “Oh, isn’t this Lei? I haven’t seen you in two years. You’ve become so handsome! Heh heh.”
This woman was Jiang Ruyi’s mother, Yang Lan. Xia Lei had known her since he was a child and often asked her for sweets. Yang Lan also sometimes made tasty food and let Jiang Ruyi invite Xia Lei and Xia Xue over to eat; they were always on good terms.
“When did you get back, Auntie?” Xia Lei greeted her warmly.
“You know how it is. Ruyi’s father has always had a weak body so we moved to the countryside for him to recuperate. Her father’s health took a turn for the worse last month and he’s been warded now. I moved back now for her father’s health,” said Yang Lan.
“Ma.” Jiang Ruyi rolled her eyes at Yang Lan. She did not want Xia Lei to know about her father’s illness.
Yang Lan smacked Jiang Ruyi upside the head. “You terrible girl. Lei’s been standing outside for a long time; why don’t you invite him in?”
Jiang Ruyi’s temper had apparently come from Yang Lan.
“I’ll open the door for you.” Jiang Ruyi had never ever used the word ‘please’ with Xia Lei.Previous Chapter Next Chapter