Chapter 397 - Zipper Butterfly Effect

Thunder Horse Military Factory became the busiest booth at the exhibition after the sniper rifle challenge. The merchants and gun enthusiasts came in a steady stream. Almost all of the merchants were intent on buying the XL2500 and the orders flying at Xia Lei could drown him in their volume. However, Xia Lei already had a prior agreement and he could not approve of orders on his own - this decision lay in the hands of Ling Han. 

Xia Lei was worried that Ling Han would not accept purchase orders from international clients in the beginning, and that even if he did, that it would be some small orders for show. His worry was unfounded, however. Ling Han had signed dozens of big contracts; Pakistan, Iran, Argentina, Venezuela, Brazil, Mexico. All countries with good relations with China. He signed with them as long as it was them placing orders. 

Xia Lei was troubled by this again - he was going to have to spend five years to complete the orders at the current rate of Thunder Horse Military Factory’s production capacity! 

It seemed like expansion was now something which had to be done urgently. 

Additionally, Xia Lei was getting more and more intrigued by this Ling Han. He didn’t seem to have any need to seek further instruction from China to approve and sign purchase orders. He simply negotiated directly with the merchants and signed the contracts. This proved that he had very high clearance. So who the hell was he?

Xia Lei had tried digging, sneakily observing and also used the power of his left eye but he had no result. This Ling Han was very cautious and just had too much that was hidden. 

The light weapons exhibition in Moscow ended seven days later. Xia Lei kept his promise and went out sightseeing with Tang Yuyan. They first went to the Church of Our Lady, then to the Klimt Palace and finally went shopping at Arbat Street. 

Accompanying women on shopping trips was an undeniable headache and Xia Lei was experiencing it right now. Tang Yuyan went from one shop to another and the shopping bags in Xia Lei’s hands multiplied to the point where he couldn’t even hold them all. 

“These things are sold in China too, and might even be manufactured in China. Why are you buying them here? Don’t even talk about the price - bringing them home will be troublesome.” Xia Lei refused to take one step further when Tang Yuyan made to go through the doorway of yet another clothing shop. 

Tang Yuyan pursed her lips. “You promised. I haven’t had my fill yet and you’re fed up already?” 

Xia Lei laughed dryly. “No…” 

“Then come inside with me.” Tang Yuyan pulled Xia Lei into the clothing shop. 

Xia Lei put all the bags at the counter for safe-keeping and went to accompany Tang Yuyan in the choosing of clothing. He also acted as a Russian interpreter for Tang Yuyan and the shop assistant. 

Tang Yuyan quickly selected a dress and a working-suit and went into the fitting room to try them on. 

“Your girlfriend is so lucky.” The shop assistant flirted with Xia Lei. 

Xia Lei gave her a smile but didn’t say anything. Tang Yuyan was not his girlfriend but there was no need to explain anything to a Russian girl. 

The door to the fitting room opened again and Tang Yuyan poked her head out. “Lei, come here.” 

Xia Lei paused. “What for?” 

“Come help me pull up the zipper,” said Tang Yuyan. 

Xia Lei was speechless. 

The young shop assistant covered her mouth as she laughed and said, “Go on, it’s fine. She’s your girlfriend.” 

Xia Lei smiled wryly and braced himself as he entered the fitting room.

It was a narrow fitting room with a mirror and a clothes-rack. Tang Yuyan stood before the mirror in a dress, and the zipper on the back of her dress was not pulled up. 

Xia Lei stared at Tang Yuyan’s back and she stared at him in the mirror. Their gazes did not meet but there were still sparks flying. The small fitting room quickly filled with an ambiguous atmosphere and the sweet scent of Tang Yuyan’s body. 

“Ahem. I asked you to come here to help zip me up, not to peek.” Tang Yuyan couldn’t bear the atmosphere any longer and broke the silence with a reminder to Xia Lei, her face red. 

Xia Lei came back to his senses and hurriedly grabbed the zipper, pulling upwards. Perhaps he’d used too much strength, or perhaps the new zipper was stiff but the zipper only moved two centimetres up before it was stuck in the fabric, refusing to move any higher. 

“You…” Tang Yuyan glanced over her shoulder and said grumpily, “Why are you so stupid?” 

Xia Lei was so embarrassed he could die and he put more strength into his fingers to pull up. Pop! The zipper head was broken. 

Tang Yuyan glared at him with her big eyes. She opened her mouth as if to say something but couldn’t say it. 

Xia Lei was taken aback too. He held the zipper head he had ripped off and didn’t know what to say. 

“It wasn’t on purpose,” said Xia Lei. 

It would’ve been better if he hadn’t spoken. Tang Yuyan reacted like she was a cat which had its tail stepped on, and let out a yowl. 

Xia Lei hurriedly moved forward and put his hand over her mouth, saying anxiously, “Sh! Don’t shout. If you shout, people will think that we…” 

The Russian girl’s voice came from beyond the door. “Sir, what happened?” 

“N, Nothing happened,” replied Xia Lei evasively. 

“But…” The Russian girl tried asking again. “Did anything happen, Miss?” 

Xia Lei abruptly removed his hand from Tang Yuyan’s mouth and she made an ‘Ah!’ the moment he relaxed his hand. 

Knock, knock, knock! The Russian girl was knocking now. “Sir, please open the door!” 

“Yes, right away.” Xia Lei was flustered. “M, My girlfriend’s changing. She’ll be done soon.” 

Tang Yuyan paused when those words came out of Xia Lei’s mouth. She had been about to fly into a fury but she calmed down in the blink of an eye. 

“Miss, what happened?” The Russian girl still suspected that something had happened in the fitting room. 

Xia Lei was hard-pressed for an answer and he didn’t know how to hide it anymore. 

At that moment, Tang Yuyan spoke up. “It’s nothing. I saw a cockroach.” 

She’d spoken in English but the Russian girl seemed to have understood and she didn’t ask more; she walked away from the door of the fitting room. 

Xia Lei let out a breath of relief, but the awkwardness was still there. 

Out of the fitting room, Xia Lei paid for the dress with the broken zipper, then exited the shop with Tang Yuyan like he was escaping from it. Xia Lei’s thoughts were still lingering on the small fitting room in the hustle and bustle of Arbat Street, and his head was full of Tang Yuyan’s full and luscious body; it was impossible to forget it. 

The two of them did not speak. They walked in silence, glancing at each other once in a while in awkwardness. 

Xia Lei stood by the road to hail a taxi after getting out of Arbat street. Tang Yuyan suddenly reached out and held onto Xia Lei’s arm. “Just now, was what you said true?” 

Xia Lei paused. “What’s true?” 

Tang Yuyan leaned on Xia Lei’s waist with her elbow. “You said you’re my boyfriend.” 

“I…” Xia Lei was at a loss for words. 

Tang Yuyan put her chin on Xia Lei’s arm, not daring to look him in the eyes. Her voice was barely above a whisper. “Then I… will take it to mean that it’s true.” 

Her saying it like that was like a proposal, an outright confession. How many men in this world could say no to a woman like Tang Yuyan? She had the beauty, the body and status - the status of the young lady of a long-standing clan of hundreds of years. If she were to be a couple with Xia Lei then they would be a match made in heaven; an ideal pair.

But Xia Lei hesitated. The faces of several women appeared in his head in an instant. Liang Siyao, Jiang Ruyi, Annina, Szlamy and Shentu Tianyin. He felt a headache coming on and was stumped. 

“Give me some time,” said Xia Lei, his voice small and pitiful. 

An answer like that was better than a rejection, and better than agreeing outright. 

A smile appeared on Tang Yuyan’s face and she nodded lightly. 

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