One day later, China.
Equipment Department, Agency Building.
“Heh heh.” Tang Tianlong patted Xia Lei’s shoulder and said with a smile, “Xia Lei, this trip to Russia has brought us great honour. We are proud. You have gained much too.” They were in an office.
Xia Lei replied politely, “Enough praise, Uncle Tang. It was just luck.”
“Don’t be humble. It was your good product and your clever brains. I wouldn’t have thought of challenging the three industry giants if it were me. Anyway - Well done!”
Xia Lei just smiled and didn’t say anything. Acting humble again would be hypocrisy.
“Come, tell me what reward you’d like.” Tang Tianlong looked at Xia Lei.
Xia Lei paused, then laughed and said, “I can request a reward?”
“You did an excellent job in Russia and attained glory for the nation. The higher-ups mean to reward you so they’ve asked me to ask you what you’d like. Don’t hold back now - just say what you’d like.” Tang Tianlong smiled. “Besides, we’re not strangers. Speak, speak.”
These words were a little embarrassing and Tang Yuyan, who was standing behind Xia Lei, rolled her eyes at her father. She seemed annoyed but she was happy inside.
Tang Tianlong took note of this reaction and was also secretly glad.
He had been worried about Xia Lei’s unknown background in the past when Tang Yuyan was in contact with Xia Lei, worried that she would be implicated in something. But this recent performance in Russia assuaged his concerns.
Xia Lei did not see the looks exchanged between father and daughter. He thought for a bit, and said, “If that’s the case then give me a piece of land, and a cash reward of 5,000,000,000. Ling Han signed so many purchase contracts in Russia that it would be impossible to complete all those orders with my current output. I need to expand Thunder Horse Military Factory and for that, land and capital are needed.”
“The land is no problem. You can take up as much land next to Thunder Horse Military Factory as you want. About the cash… It is a large sum. I’ll have to talk to the higher-ups about it. I think it should be no problem though. The higher-ups know your current situation too.”
“Then thank you, Uncle Tang,” said Xia Lei with a smile.
Tang Tianlong feigned discontent. “Look here, you did it again, didn’t you?”
Xia Lei put his hands up. “Okay, okay, I was wrong. I shall not be so distant.”
Tang Yuyan laughed. “Lei, don’t go back to Thunder Horse Military Factory today. Come to my place for dinner. I’ve got a spare room; you can just stay over at my place.”
“A meal is no problem, but staying at your place…”
Tang Yuyan cut him short. “Oh, what’s the big deal about staying one night? No need to be such a stranger. It’s decided then. I’ll call my mother and get her to buy more groceries.”
“Yes, yes, ask your mother to get more groceries,” said Tang Tianlong in support. “Let Lei and your grandfather have a drink or two together, then learn from each other.” He then laughed. “I think that old man won’t give up till he passes on that specialty skill he has stashed at the bottom of his chest.”
There was no rejecting the invitation when so much had been said. Xia Lei could only nod and say, “Then I’ll have to intrude on you.”
Just as Tang Yuyan was about to call her mother, Tang Tianlong’s mobile phone rang. Tang Tianlong glanced at the incoming call and walked out to the balcony to take the call.
Tang Yuyan looked at Xia Lei, all smiles. “Tell me what you’d like to eat. I’ll get my mother to cook it for you.”
Xia Lei spoke a little uncomfortably, “Any dish would do, no need for such hassle. How about I make the meal? I’m very good at cooking.”
Tang Yuyan laughed. “I know you’re good at it. Long Bing praised your cooking skills in front of me before. But you’re the guest - how can I make you do the cooking? My mother’s skill in cooking is not bad too. You can just eat what she’s cooked.”
What a thoughtful woman. She’d suddenly become so warm and thoughtful but this was giving Xia Lei a headache. He’d said to give him some time when Tang Yuyan had confessed to him in Moscow but he’d not expected that she would not only give him no time, but to take it as an acceptance of her feelings.
That clothing shop’s fitting room was to blame. If it hadn’t been for that lousy zipper, then he and Tang Yuyan wouldn’t have this tangle of a relationship now.
That’s right - the woman was already leaning in that direction when the man saw her in a compromising state. It was no wonder that she had stuck to him.
Just then, Tang Tianlong walked back into the office, his brows furrowed. “I won’t be going home tonight. Lei, come to a dinner party with me.”
There was an odd look in Tang Tianlong’s eyes, and Xia Lei’s head filled with guesses. “Whose dinner party?”
Tang Tianlong hesitated. “Mu Jianfeng’s dinner party.”
Xia Lei guessed what sort of dinner party it was right away when he heard that it was being hosted by Mu Jianfeng. “Forget it, I’m not going.”
Tang Tianlong laughed dryly. “Lei, Mu Jianfeng actually wants to invite you but he knows that you definitely won’t go if he called you directly. Go for a bit, on my account, eh? If you’re not happy there then you can just sit around for a bit and go off. Is that okay, hm?”
Xia Lei didn’t want to go but he did not want to hurt Tang Tianlong’s pride either so he was undecided.
He knew that Tang Tianlong had to show Mu Jianfeng respect since China Industrial Group was a huge government-backed company in the military industry and the Equipment Department had relations with them which could not be broken. He was also requesting that Tang Tianlong help with acquiring land and capital, so he could not disrespect him by refusing.
Tang Yuyan nudged Xia Lei’s heel with her toe, saying, “How about I come too? In case Lei feels uncomfortable there.”
Xia Lei finally nodded. “I’ll go.”
Two hours later, Wangfu Hotel.
A Hongqi car stopped at the entrance of the hotel. Tang Tianlong, Xia Lei and Tang Yuyan alighted, and the driver moved the car to the carpark.
Tang Yuyan held onto Xia Lei’s arm as soon as they got out of the car. She was in a blue-and-white porcelain-patterned cheongsam, matched with cyan fabric-tie heels add her wonderful curves which went high and low, full and bountiful, and she looked like a prime example of classical Chinese beauty; she was refreshing yet noble. This version of her was pleasing to the eye and made one feel comfort too.
Xia Lei was not too shabby himself. He was in a sharp suit and was poised and handsome; he and Tang Yuyan were well-matched.
A middle-aged man approached in welcome just as they entered the front hall of the hotel to greet Tang Tianlong, Tang Yuyan and Xia Lei. Xia Lei remembered him - China Industrial Group’s human resources director, Jiang Xin. This was not his first time dealing with this man and he was a little familiar with him. However, his status at this dinner party was clear - the human resources director, delegated to greeting guests at the door?
Jiang Xin led them into the hotel and they entered a luxurious private room. Xia Lei spotted where Mu Jianfeng and Ye Kun were sitting as soon as he stepped into the doorway, with a few people he did not recognise. They were all male, and the youngest of their group was between 40 and 50 years old; every one of them had the air of an official.
All eyes went to Xia Lei as soon as he stepped into the private room. No one greeted him and the atmosphere was heavy.
Tang Tianlong spoke first and greeted, “Elder Mu, Ye Kun, and our old friends, why have you all come so early? My apologies, there was a bit of a traffic jam on our way here. We’ve made you wait.”
Mu Jianfeng spoke only then. “It’s all right. Tianlong, Yuyan, Xia Lei, you three have a seat.” He added, “Jiang Xin, tell them to start serving the dishes.”
Jiang Xin made a sound of agreement and went off. The table had plenty more space but he was evidently not highly-ranked enough to have a seat at the meal.
Xia Lei did not greet anyone and seated himself in a random chair, then took out his phone to play games. Tang Yuyan seemed to be worried that he would offend others so she quietly nudged him with her foot. He pretended not to notice and continued playing games on his phone, checking messages and his WeChat app.
He saw a WeChat message from Shentu Tianyin: Not coming to visit me after you’re back?
The message had been sent that morning but he hadn’t seen it.
Xia Lei replied: I received a lot of purchase orders in Russia. I’m sorting out the expansion of the military factory and a loan too so I’m crazy busy. I’m accompanying some bigwigs at their meal right now.
Tang Yuyan drew close and pursed her lips when she saw Shentu Tianyin’s profile picture on the WeChat message.
A few seconds after Xia Lei replied, and very coincidentally too, Shentu Tianyin sent her reply: Where are you having the meal?
Xia Lei replied: Wangfu Hotel.
Shentu Tianyin replied: What a coincidence! I’m at Wangfu Hotel having dinner too!
Xia Lei: …
Shentu Tianyin: Where are you? I’ll come over.
Xia Lei looked up but didn’t see if the room had a name. He leaned in to Tang Yuyan’s ear and asked softly, “What’s the name of this private room?”
Tang Yuyan gave him a sweet smile. “I’ll help you reply.” So saying, and before Xia Lei could react, she took the phone from Xia Lei’s hands and quickly typed ‘Mortuary’. Her fingers flashed and the message was sent with a swipe of her finger.
Xia Lei looked wordlessly at Tang Yuyan. He didn’t know what to say.
Tang Yuyan returned the phone to Xia Lei, the sweet smile still on her face. “Done.”
“Ahem!” Mu Jianfeng couldn’t take it anymore and he cleared his throat loudly at the other side of the round table.
Ye Kun also looked angrily at Xia Lei. “Xia Lei, Elder Mu is still your senior. You did not even greet him when you came and you’ve been playing games on your phone all this while. Are you looking down on others because you have wings to soar with now?”
The fuse had been lit and Xia Lei didn’t have the finesse to send any more messages to Shentu Tianyin so he put the phone away and smiled. “I’m the sort who likes to make a clear distinction between what I like and what I hate. If someone respects me, then I’ll respect him. You guys tried to hinder my military factory and ruin the chances of me bringing the XL2500 to Russia. You’ve gone to that extent already so do I still need to put on a smile and talk nicely to you people?”
“You-” Ye Kun pointed a finger at Xia Lei. He wanted to curse at him but did not curse aloud in the end.
Xia Lei sneered. “Me? Me, what? I didn’t hire gunmen to assassinate you in Moscow, did I? Ye Kun, this matter is not over just like that, I tell you. I’ve already investigated it very clearly.”
“Enough, enough.” Mu Jianfeng acted as mediator. “Really, you two, fighting as soon as you meet? Both of you aren’t children anymore so don’t act like children. Now, don’t talk about that bit of bad blood between the two of you on my account, all right?”
A waiter pushed the dining trolley in and named the dishes as he set them down. This temporarily shut Xia Lei and Ye Kun up, and the two of them put their fight on hold.Previous Chapter Next Chapter