The banquet was held in Jingdu’s Xiri Hotel. There were more than ten tables, where the invited VIPs and Thunder Horse employees sat.
The Sweeper’s success and glory were not only his, but it was also Annina and Sylvia’s along with everyone that helped along the way. Everyone had played a part in it. It only made sense that a portion of his employees could attend the banquet. He had over a thousand workers in the Jingdu base and there was no way the hall could accommodate every single one of them. Other than that, it had seemed unreasonable to get the employees from the Haizhu base and Shu Di base to attend the occasion. They were just too far away. Despite that, Xia Lei had already phoned Guan Lingshan and Zhou Xiaohong to have them arrange a celebratory feast for the workers along with some prize money.
Today was a celebration for all Thunder Horse staff!
Xia Lei had arrived at Hotel Xiri alongside Shi Boren and a few military representatives. Xia Xue, who was already waiting at the entrance quickly approached them. “Hello, Uncle Shi. Hello, uncles,” she greeted sweetly.
Shi Boren smiled. “Ah, that’s so sweet of you. Xia Lei, it’d be nice if you were as kind as Xia Xue.”
The representatives laughed at his words.
When pigs fly.
“Is there something you want to tell me?” Xia Lei noticed something was amiss.
Xia Xue nodded, but she seemed uncomfortable at the lack of privacy.
“Elder Shi, let’s head in first,” one of the representatives said.
“Sure, we’ll go ahead. Xia Lei, do remember to drop by our table for a few drinks later,” said Shi Boren.
“Of course,” answered Xia Lei.
With that, Shi Boren and the military representatives entered the hotel. Xia Xue took this as her cue to say, “Brother, I… I’m so sorry.”
Xia Lei was a little taken aback at the sudden apology. “Why are you apologising?”
His sister was worried about something. “I was too busy planning the press release with Zhengnan, so I had Qing Caiyue handle the banquet venue booking.”
“What’s wrong with it” Xia Lei lifted his chin to take in the luxurious glamour of the building, he continued, “This hotel looks amazing. It’s very fancy.”
“You don’t know?”
Xia Xue placed a palm on his shoulder. “Brother, your wife, no, your ex-wife owns this hotel.”
“Brother, I wouldn’t do this to you. Your secretary was the one who booked this hotel.”
Of course, Xia Lei wasn’t mad at Xia Xue. He wasn’t mad at Qing Caiyue either. No one would’ve paid attention to who owned the hotel. Vientiane Group owned businesses of various fields, it was only mere coincidence that his banquet was held in Shentu Tianyin’s hotel. He could only blame his shitty luck for this.
“Also, one more thing.” Xia Xue continued, “Father has returned from Shu Di, he’ll be arriving here soon.”
Xia Lei nodded. “Alright, got it.”
“Please don’t worry too much about it. Tianyin probably isn’t aware that we’re holding a banquet here tonight. There’s no way she would’ve gone into detail with a single hotel under Vientiane Group’s vast network.” Xia Xue tried to reassure her brother.
But as soon as she had spoken those words, a silver Rolls-Royce Phantom came to a halt in front of the hotel’s entrance.
Xia Xue slapped her palm on her forehead.
The doors of the Rolls-Royce Phantom opened to reveal Fu Mingmei, who was getting out of the driver’s seat. She stopped to glare at Xia Lei before going to the back seat to open its door.
A pair of black heels emerged from the door frame followed by a pair of slender legs. Shentu Tianyin carefully pressed on her skirt while exiting the car. Long white maxi skirt, a black elegant hat and a black LV handbag soon came to sight. Her outfit elements were glamourous but subtle. Shentu Tianyin was still very much her old self, pretty yet sexy at the same time. She still gave off the same cold aura, but it was the aura of a queen.
Their eyes met. Memories of her felt like snowflakes falling amongst a frozen horizon, scattering across Xia Lei’s mind. It was sweet, yet bitter.
Xia Lei mustered the courage to smile and approached her. “Hello, Tianyin. How have you been?”
A simple greeting that could bring warmth and hinted concern.
Shentu Tianyin took in the sight of Xia Lei with wide eyes. She stared at his face for a good ten whole seconds before replying, “I’m fine. How about you?”
“Well, I’d say life has been pretty okay for me but I’ve been really busy lately,” answered Xia Lei sheepishly.
Xia Xue came over. “Sister… Hello, Big Sister Tianyin.”
“Xiao Xue.” Tianyu extended an arm to hold Xia Xue’s hand, she continued, “You’ve gotten so beautiful. When will your wedding be?”
Xia Xue’s cheek turned red. She responded bashfully, “It… It’s a little too early to talk about that. I still have a lot to do, I’m not planning to settle down just yet.”
“Zhengnan’s a nice guy. Treasure him well. Don’t be like me. I was foolish enough to not appreciate a great lover,” said Shentu Tianyin.
Xia Lei heard it all. It was as if she had intended to direct it to him instead of Xia Xue.
He felt awkward. He switched the topic, “Tianyin, you arrived just in time for my banquet. How about you join us for a feast tonight?”
Shentu Tianyin smiled, “Ah that’s such a coincidence. I’m here to check on the hotel business but I wasn’t expecting to see you here. If that’s so, I accept your offer.”
Suddenly, another car stopped in front of the entrance.
The door opened and out came Xia Changhe and Tang Yuyan.
Tang Yuyan wore an emerald Qipao decorated with golden embroidery. The garment was form-fitting, hugging her curves to show off her assets. Her hair had complimented the classic dress well. Her hair was made into a crown of thick vintage curls that highlighted the classical aesthetic of ancient China. Normally, Tang Yuyan preferred to dress casually, giving off a playful and youthful vibe. Tonight, it felt as if she was a different person. This aura was what lasted the prestigious ladies for so long but Tang Yuyan was the epitome of prestigious herself. She fitted her role as the prized daughter of the Tang family.
As Tang Yuyan exited the car, she spared Xia Lei a glance before averting her gaze onto Shentu Tianyin.
Shentu Tianyin had returned the gaze to Tang Yuyan before settling her eyes on Xia Changhe. Her lips twitched, itching to call out ‘Father’ but ultimately decided against it. Xia Changhe had only returned after she and Xia Lei were divorced. She had no chance to greet her father-in-law before the eventual split. Though the two had met each other in the Peace Mansion, there was not a single exchange between them. Xia Changhe was a stranger to her. Now that he had appeared alongside Tang Yuyan, Shentu Tianyin couldn’t help but frown subtly at the odd feeling bubbling in her heart.
“Miss Tianyin, what a coincidence! It’s been so long since we met, it’s really nice to see you here,” greeted Tang Yuyan generously.
“Yeah, it’s such a coincidence.” Shentu Tianyu diverted her gaze to Xia Changhe. “Hello, Uncle Xia.”
“Hello.” Xia Changhe had nothing else to say.
There was a pregnant pause and the air was getting increasingly awkward.
Xia Lei was lost.
“Lei Zi,” called Shentu Tianyin. “I’m going to head in first to handle some matters, I’ll see you later.”
“Alright, see you soon,” he replied.
Fu Mingmei brushed her shoulder against his but stopped for a bit to whisper, “She isn’t here for work. She heard you were throwing a banquet and rushed over. She even ignored an important meeting to come here. You guys should have a good talk. She’s been rather unhappy lately.”
What was there left to talk about?
Xia Lei’s heart spiralled into sadness. Did she want to talk about their past or a possible future? The past had already formed a scar but the future? Could a future with Shentu Tianyin even be possible?
Fu Mingmei trailed behind Shentu Tianyin to enter the hotel.
“Father, Miss Tang,” greeted Xia Xue. Without waiting for their responses, she blurted, “Brother, I’ll leave this to you. I’m going to go talk to big sister Tianyin. This is her hotel so I’m guessing that she’d be willing to spare me a fifty per cent discount?”
As Xia Lei was about to stop her but she had already run off into the depths of the hotel’s luxurious interior.
“This child,” sighed Xia Changhe. “There’s still a large gap between us it seems. I don’t blame her. I did this to myself.”
When Xia Xue had needed him the most, he left without a sound and was gone for years. Xia Xue and Xia Lei had not heard a single word from him back then. To her, Xia Lei, who had torn up his university acceptance letter and went straight into the workforce to support her education was her true ‘father’.
“Uncle Xia, just give her some time. I’m sure she’ll understand someday,” comforted Tang Yuyan.
“Yeah, baby steps. There’s no rush.” Xia Changhe’s tone was laced with sorrow.
“Father, don’t dwell too much on it. Let’s go in, the banquet is about to start,” said Xia Lei.
The old man nodded.
Tang Yuyan sent Xia Lei a dramatic eye roll. “Why the rush? There’s no harm talking to me. I’m no stranger. Isn’t that right, Uncle Xia?”
“Haha, yeah, yeah.” A sudden smile appeared on Xia Changhe’s face.
Xia Lei was surprised and confused. What the hell was going on?
Tang Yuyan winked at Xia Changhe.
“Lei Zi, I need to talk about something when we’re home,” mentioned Xia Changhe.
“We’ll leave it for when we get back. Don’t worry, it’s great news,” replied Xia Changhe without revealing too much.
“Uncle Xia, what will you be talking about with Lei Zi? Please do tell,” whined Tang Yuyan.
“Well, what else other than…” Xia Changhe fell silent.
Tang Yuyan said nothing in return.
A wry smile soon found its way onto Xia Lei’s lips. The whole situation was odd. He felt as if Xia Changhe and Tang Yuyan were treating him like an outsider rather than the latter instead.
The three then entered the hotel. It didn’t take long for Xia Lei to notice that Fu Mingmei was waving to him at the beginning of a corridor.
Xia Lei didn’t head straight towards her but had made sure that Xia Changhe and Tang Yuyan made it to their seats before doing so.
“Tianyin says she’s not joining the banquet,” said Fu Mingmei.
“Huh? Why? I thought she seemed pretty enthusiastic.” Xia Lei was confused.
“She said that it’ll be awkward for her to dine with Tang Yuyan around.”
The revelation wasn’t a surprise to Xia Lei. “I see, that’s completely understandable. I’ll just meet her some other day.”
“No, she’ll be waiting for you here. Please do visit her after you’re done with your event.” Fu Mingmei passed a room card into Xia Lei’s palm.
“I…” Xia Lei didn’t know what to say.
Fu Mingmei frowned. “Men are such ruthless animals. You all forget about what you had as soon as you found someone new. Seeing that you were husband and wife, can’t you spare some time for a mere talk?”
“Alright, I’ll visit her as soon as I’m done.” Xia Lei pocketed the card. “Also, I was never a ruthless man. But I think women can be more cold-hearted than most of us.”
The corner of Fu Mingmei’s lips twitched. She was fully aware of why Shentu Tianyin and Xia Lei divorced. Xia Lei had wanted Shentu Tianyin to give up on Vientiane Group to come to build Thunder Horse Organization with him. Sadly, she had chosen her career over love and family. She even went ahead to accuse Xia Lei of something she did. From that, it was obvious that Shentu Tianyin was more merciless than Xia Lei was. She had no right to call Xia Lei ruthless. If he really was heartless, a glance would even be out of the question let alone small talk.
“Alright, I’m going to head back to the banquet.” Xia Lei turned to leave.
“Please do remember to come,” reminded Fu Mingmei.
He nodded, back still facing her.
What was there left to talk about now?
He really had no clue.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
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