Chapter 221: Debtors are the boss
The banquet hall was brightly lit, accompanied by the elegant playing of the violin as well as neat long tables along with an intricately designed stage and dance floor. There were over a hundred people present, currently exchanging pleasantries over wine in their own little groups.
As Li Wan’er appeared at the doorway with her arm linked to Xu Tingsheng’s, everyone’s gazes fell on her.
Feeling Li Wan’er’s body trembling slightly, Xu Tingsheng leaned over and whispered jokingly into her ear, “What’s there to be panicked about? Whoever bullies you, I’ll help beat him up.”
In the eyes of the onlookers now, the relationship between the two seemed extremely intimate.
Still feeling a little angered from earlier, knowing that he was just talking trash again, Li Wan’er just ignored him outright as she slowly led him over to a group of seven or eight people to the left of the room.
“Uncle Wang, Uncle Zhu, Auntie Xue…hello,” Li Wan’er bowed as she greeted them.
“Oh, Niece Wan’er is here! They were still saying that they couldn’t find you just now. And I told them, Old Li being such a responsible person, it couldn’t be that his daughter might run off and hide just like that, right?” The bald Uncle Wang was the first to respond.
Li Wan’er smiled back in response.
“That’s right. Otherwise, Wan’er also wouldn’t have returned from Italy, right? It’s been so many years, and you’re only getting more and more beautiful,” The sole lady amongst the group, the one Li Wan’er addressed as Auntie Xue, continued, “Niece Wan’er said earlier that you found someone who’s willing to invest. It should be this handsome guy over here, I suppose?”
The gazes that were on Xu Tingsheng increased. Actually, many people had already seen him as well as his car at the carpark. Still, the lighting there had been dim…
Looking again now and clearly seeing his features, everyone could not help but feel doubtful, “He’s just too young, isn’t he? Li Wan’er actually claims that he’s her investor? It’s nearly a 20 million pit that the Li Family’s got there.”
Considering how this young fella’s appearance was rather good, some even thought that it would be a bit more believable if someone were to say that he was some youthful guy whom Li Wan’er had been raising outside for her own leisure had her family not fallen on hard times.
Uncle Zhu who sported a golden watch asked rather dissatisfiedly, “What’s your surname?”
“Xu,” Xu Tingsheng said.
The few of them exchanged glances before beginning to discuss in hushed voices, yet no one at all could remember a Xu Family with a son of this corrresponding age within the industry or amongst the other wealthy families of Shenghai.
“What does your family do?” Uncle Zhu continued asking in a rather strange tone and manner.
Xu Tingsheng thought for a moment before replying, “My family? My family runs a supermarket.”
“Which supermarket? Where?”
“We have stores in some in some counties and also a few cities. There’s isn’t one in Shenghai, so you may not have heard of it before.”
Xu Tingsheng wasn’t following the script like he should. Li Wan’er felt that she might really have made the wrong decision. All her preparations for dealing with this matter had been swept into chaos by Xu Tingsheng from the very start, now being scattered messily all over the place.
Xu Tingsheng heard some low laughter before discussions ran rampant around the entire hall.
“Li Wan’er actually found someone who runs a supermarket in some counties to invest.”
“She stayed so long overseas that she’s turned silly? Selling herself for a price such as that?”
The low laughter finally turned into mocking laughter and jeers.
Li Wan’er hurriedly went to his rescue, saying, “Uncles and Aunties, actually, he’s mainly an entrepreneur. He’s…”
“Hucheng, Xu Tingsheng.”
As Li Wan’er who was not proficient at telling untruths was about to say out Xu Tingsheng’s ‘fabricated’ identity, she spoke rather hesitantly and unconfidently. Xu Tingsheng could only complete the sentence for her in a confident, self-assured manner.
In the year 2004, the housing prices of Shenghai had still yet to surpass five digits, with the assets of the richest tycoons in the country yet to surpass ten digits. Those whose assets had already surpassed 400 million already had a chance of getting onto the Forbes ranking list.
The reason for Dexin being worth 12 million was its location. A few years later, it would be worth hundreds of millions.
As for the total wealth of these so-called clothing-related magnates, as Li Wan’er’s family had formerly been, they actually only amounted to a few million or some tens of millions at most.
Hucheng’s estimated value had already surpassed the 100 million mark.
Its estimated value having surpassed 100 million did not mean that Xu Tingsheng’s assets were indeed over that number, because Hucheng had still yet to become a listed company. Even if it was listed, its market value surpassing 100 million, it still wouldn’t mean that he really had so much money. His identity made it such that as soon he exchanged his shares for money, Hucheng would correspondingly no longer be as valuable.
Yet, this could still be a piece of sufficiently shocking news, sufficient to win over everyone currently present.
Sadly, this was the year 2004, where the IT industry had still yet to receive as much attention as it would just a few years down the road.
Xu Tingsheng’s voice had also not been loud enough. Those few in front of him who were able to hear him were all at least in their fifties, having always been part of only traditional industries.
Therefore, they had never heard of Hucheng before, much less being aware of what it entailed.
Most of them were shaking their heads.
There were still some who harboured some remaining bit of hope. After all, his car was in the carpark; his clothes were right on him. Also, they were affected by the calm manner of this youth, by how a smile remained on his face despite the jeering that resounded all around him…
“Maybe he really is a bit wealthy.”
“Then, I wonder how much Mister Xu plans to invest for Wan’er?” Someone asked.
“Approximately…” Li Wan’er hastened a reply.
“It’s still not definite yet. Actually, I might not be investing,” Xu Tingsheng was even swifter in replying as he said, “I think that I can’t just invest the money for Wan’er to give it to you guys immediately afterwards, right? Therefore, I’m here to take a look at everyone’s attitudes today, seeing if you intend to let Wan’er continue with her company. I’ll only consider investing if there is such a possibility.”
Li Wan’er felt very much like crying. She knew that she couldn’t very well blame Xu Tingsheng for this-he was, after all, just trying to help her. Yet, at this moment, she felt that everything was over with what he had just said.
“Perhaps it’s for the best if everything ends just like this. It was me who found him. Therefore, it might have been destined, destined that it would turn out this way.”
Li Wan’er accepted her fate. She bravely turned and flashed a smile at Xu Tingsheng. This smile conveyed gratitude: Even though you’ve messed things up, I’m still thankful to you for your willingness to help me.
The others reacted differently at hearing Xu Tingsheng’s words.
Someone who was somewhat more tactful said, “Hmm…Niece Wan’er, we know that things are very hard for you right now. Rightly speaking, we Uncles and Aunties should be understanding towards you. Still, we should look at this matter on its own. After all, this is not a small sum for us as well…”
Someone who had a worse temper interjected, “Just say it outright! Stop playing with us, getting out this whatever investor…as I see it, you shouldn’t blame us for not giving you a chance. We were all still waiting for you to come today, and that’s the chance we gave you. Lodging a complaint, auctioning everything off, that’s just how it is.”
Li Wan’er tightened her grip on Xu Tingsheng’s arm.
“That’s fine too!” Xu Tingsheng patted the back of Li Wan’er’s hand, saying, “Uncles and Aunties, you can go and discuss it for a bit. The two of us will be eating first. I’m hungry.”
Uncaring of Li Wan’er’s wishes, Xu Tingsheng simply tightened his linked arm and pulled her away alongside him.
They found a table and sat down.
Xu Tingsheng began eating the food on the table in a totally graceless manner.
Li Wan’er sat limply in the chair beside him.
“Feeling panicked?” Xu Tingsheng asked her in a low tone.
Li Wan’er shook her head. She did not wish to blame Xu Tingsheng, much less push the responsibility onto him, making him bear the consequences of it all. She had not had much hopes of him in the first place. Her dreams had merely been shattered prematurely, this not being the least bit unexpected.
Xu Tingsheng smiled, drawing closer to her, “What’re you feeling panicked about? It should be them who’re panicking now. It’s them who really especially hope that I’m a rich dude, hoping that I’ll be investing in your company. Get it? Because of that, they’re panicking right now.”
Li Wan’er felt puzzled.
Xu Tingsheng continued, “The thing you should be rejoicing most about right now is that you owe them too much money, so much that even auctioning off everything of your family’s would still be far from enough. If not for this, they’d long since have lodged a complaint and started the auction, splitting up everything you have. Therefore, the reason they waited for you today isn’t to give you a chance, but to give themselves a chance. They hope even more than you yourself do that you can make a comeback, gaining the ability to recompense them. You get it?”
“I…still don’t get it,” Li Wan’er knit her brows.
“You don’t have to. Anyway, just remember this sentence of mine: The debtor’s the boss,” Xu Tingsheng cut a large slice of beef and stuffed it into his mouth, asking, “You aren’t hungry?”
Li Wan’er rubbed her stomach.
“Eat then! Learn from me and eat up happily. If we’ve got to starve in the future, at least we get to eat a full, good meal for free today. So, just eat.”
Xu Tingsheng took a slice of cheesecake and brought it over to Li Wan’er’s mouth.
Li Wan’er smiled. The way she saw it, Xu Tingsheng probably meant that she should just ignore whatever was already unsalvageable anyway.
Still, it actually felt great acting like this. Li Wan’er had not felt so heartened in a really long time. Therefore, she decided to listen to Xu Tingsheng now.
Who cares about whether we’ll have to starve in the future? Let’s eat!
Li Wan’er opened her mouth, but then frowned, “Hey, you’re using your hands.”
“To hell with etiquette! Aren’t you tired of being obedient?” Xu Tingsheng exclaimed.
“Yeah,” Li Wan’er smiled brightly, flashing her white teeth as she nodded hard in agreement before then eating the entire cake in a single mouthful.
She was done being obedient and submissive.
Beneath the disdainful gazes of the crowd…the wind swept away the remnant clouds, to be replaced by only happiness as they chatted and laughed happily.
Meanwhile, the old, bald man surnamed Zhu walked over to a group of youngsters, asking, “Hucheng, Xu Tingsheng. Anyone heard of him before?”
With blank expressions on their faces, the lot of them tried hard to remember, one of them finally speaking after a while, “I seem to have heard my friend talk about this before, though I’m not too clear on it myself. How about I go out and check him out on a computer?”
Old Man Zhu nodded.