Chapter 222: I’m willing to go with you
Seeing that person leave the room, Xu Tingsheng hurriedly ate some more before lifting his glass of red wine and standing up.
In the midst of chomping on half a lobster in a totally unglamorous manner, Li Wan’er looked up at him, “Hey, where’re you going?”
“Don’t worry about it, just focus on eating. If it isn’t enough, just ask for more. We don’t have to pay anyway,” Xu Tingsheng said, “I’ll find your debtors and have a chat with them. Remember, if anyone provokes you, just yell loudly for me. I’ll beat them up real good.”
Li Wan’er hurriedly wiped her hand with a napkin before pulling tightly at Xu Tingsheng’s sleeve, gazing up at him with big, teary eyes as she shook her head in a weak, pitiful manner, “Don’t go. You’ll lose out, you’d be bullied.”
“That’s you. Me? They wouldn’t dare.”
Xu Tingsheng caught Li Wan’er’s wrist and moved her hand away, setting it down. Then, he raised his wineglass and went wherever it was more crowded.
Li Wan’er watched him from far away, watching him shamelessly going over everywhere despite the cold faces and disdainful looks, taking the initiative to talk to everyone. He smiled cheerfully and spoke eloquently and endlessly, not caring at all whether everyone else was ignoring him.
When his wineglass was empty, he would look for a waiter and get it refilled before continuing with the same process.
Li Wan’er felt worried and guilty. Yet, at the same time, she also suddenly felt like warmth had arisen within her heart. Following her father’s death, there was now finally another person who was helping her to bear the tough weight of the world, shielding her from the winds and the rain.
True, he was still just a boy, a hoodlum who was just a driver, undependable and incompetent.
He might be unable to do anything at all, take care of any problem at all.
“But, so what? It’s just a pity that…”
Thinking of her age and her predicament, Li Wan’er smiled bitterly, her brows tightly knit.
His back to the crowd, Xu Tingsheng raised his wineglass in Li Wan’er’s direction from a distance away, shaking it a little as he shrugged and grinned mischievously. Li Wan’er hurriedly raised her wineglass as well, exchanging a toast with him from far away in the distance.
At this moment, Li Wan’er suddenly felt that this hoodlum who insisted on loosening his tie and adjusting it askew after sitting down just because he felt it to be uncomfortable was just so cool.
Right, he was just so cool. This was something that girls commonly expressed in their younger days, when they would be enraptured by those cool-looking bad boys. Now, the 31-year-old Li Wan’er felt like she was going to fall under his spell as well.
“That shouldn’t be the case, right? Right, it shouldn’t. But with how things are right now, I might already have to go hungry here on out, and then we’ll no longer be meeting. Just being smitten by him for a bit-that should be fine, right?”
As Li Wan’er was trying to embolden herself enough to throw him a kiss, Xu Tingsheng had already turned around. He was currently in the midst of dragging along the boss of a fabric company over to an empty table regardless of his own wishes in this regard.
“Wan’er,” Zhu Ping sat down beside Li Wan’er, “How’re you doing, Wan’er?”
Zhu Ping had been schoolmates with Li Wan’er for over ten years, having studied in the same school as her in primary school, junior high and senior high. He was also the son of a business partner of her father’s.
Li Wan’er knew that Zhu Ping had gotten drunk on the day of her wedding, nearly getting into an accident as a result. He had even gone to Italy to look for her before. Many in the industry knew that while Zhu Ping’s reputation as a playboy was well known by all, he had been besotted with Li Wan’er all these years.
If not for the Li Family having insisted on finding a son-in-law who would take on their surname back then, perhaps it might really have worked out between the two.
Li Wan’er smiled, “I’m alright. Things are already like this now, anyway. Don’t worry about me; look at how happy I’m eating.”
Her opinion of Zhu Ping was actually not bad. Someone who was besotted with her…that wasn’t an erroneous thing. There were even times when Li Wan’er felt that if there were truly people who treated her well in this world, perhaps Zhu Ping could be considered one of them.
Zhu Ping seemed to be considering something as he appeared very hesitant.
“What is it?” Li Wan’er asked him.
“I’ll be getting married in two months. I’m going to marry Xiao Fei,” Zhu Ping said in a low tone.
The Zhu Family ran a factory just like the Li Family. As for the Xiao Family, it was involved in the batch distribution of the related goods on a large scale.
Being used to weddings of this kind, Li Wan’er felt it to be perfectly natural as she smiled, “I know about that! You told me before, don’t you remember? It’s just that sadly, I might not be able to attend when the time comes. Come, a premature toast. Congratulations in advance!”
Li Wan’er raised her wineglass. Yet, Zhu Ping did not reciprocate.
He said, “The one I want to marry is actually you.”
Li Wan’er did not reply him.
Zhu Ping continued, “Even after you had gotten married, I still continued dreaming about you. I’ve been unable to give it up all this time. I didn’t think that your family would end up this way. Sorry that I couldn’t help much.”
At this moment, Li Wan’er felt rather touched.
Yet, such feelings were eradicated immediately afterwards.
Zhu Ping seemed to steel himself and go all out as he spoke in a hushed tone, “Leave with me tonight, Wan’er. Let me have it once. While I can’t really help you much, a couple million would still be fine. Or, I also have this housing deed that’s currently with my family, the one for the flat that you and your mother are currently living in. Accompany me once tonight and you can keep that flat. You won’t have to suffer the fate of being homeless.”
Li Wan’er couldn’t easily accept what she was hearing. Those memories and feelings that could still have been considered good originally had just been personally ripped apart by Zhu Ping during her most destitute, downtrodden times. So the truth was actually just like this.
“How about it? You aren’t satisfied?” Seeing that Li Wan’er wasn’t speaking, thinking her to be hesitating, Zhu Ping hurriedly went on, “Actually, if you’re willing to, we can also continue after tonight. You take a sum of money and find somewhere to settle down. After I’m married, I can still go out on frequent work trips. I’ll go see you whenever I’ve got the time.”
“I can support you from now on. Even if you give birth to a child for me, I’d still have ways for the two of you live happily.”
Li Wan’er finally understood what Zhu Ping meant. He wanted to take her in as his mistress.
If Zhu Ping had instead told her that he wanted to marry her in spite of everything, regardless of what this might entail, Li Wan’er would have rejected him, not wanting to affect him and wanting even less to drag him into this mess. Even though the Zhu Family was currently also her debtor and possessed the ability to solve all her problems, she would still not ask Zhu Ping to do so for her. This was just not the kind of person she was.
If it had been so, at the very least, their past relationship would still have remained in a positive light in her mind as she would also have felt grateful. Actually, even if Zhu Ping had just come over with a few meaningless words of concern, not doing anything at all, Li Wan’er would still have felt grateful towards him.
Now, however, Li Wan’er realised how Zhu Ping thought of her, how he had been weighing the benefits and detriments in his mind. Even as he wished to obtain her, he also viewed her as a burden.
He felt that the destitute Li Wan’er was already no longer worth so much, being unwilling to give too much of a price for her. He still wanted the Li Family’s factory and properties, wanted his marriage with the Xiao Family. At the same time, if it was worth it, he wanted her as well.
That being the case, their past relationship…would actually also have other things mixed within? Li Wan’er was the sole offspring of the Li Family.
Li Wan’er suddenly felt despondent, not because of Zhu Ping, but because everything that had once appeared good in her eyes was currently in the midst of shattering one by one.
“Wanna stage a robbery amidst the fire, bro? That’s really too shameless. Come, move aside,” Xu Tingsheng’s voice resounded behind them.
Hearing this voice and that insouciant tone, Li Wan’er suddenly no longer felt sorrowful as she happily turned to look at Xu Tingsheng, reaching out and gripping his collar, leading him over.
Xu Tingsheng had managed to obtain a stool from somewhere which he promptly forced between Li Wan’er and Zhu Ping before leaping in to sit on.
With one hand on Li Wan’er’s shoulder, he introduced to Zhu Ping, “My woman.”
Zhu Ping chortled, saying, “The ignorant know no fear-this line is for you. I urge you to properly go back to your village and run your county supermarket. Be your frog in the well there. For the Li Family’s matter, you’re really not qualified.”
Then, he looked at Li Wan’er, “Wan’er, you seem to have changed a lot, but it wouldn’t really be to the extent of being together with such a frog, right? Be careful, or you might just get cheated.”
“Hey, how am I like a frog? I’m much cooler and handsomer than you, okay? Right, Wan’er?” Xu Tingsheng retorted.
Beside him, Li Wan’er nodded with an earnest expression on her face.
Zhu Ping’s face sunk, his voice heavy as he looked at Li Wan’er, “What I said earlier still counts. I’m waiting for your reply.”
Li Wan’er pointed at Xu Tingsheng, “He’s really much cooler and handsomer than you.”
Zhu Ping shot to his feet. Due to the intensity with which he did so, the stool that he had been sitting on slammed into the ground with a loud ‘bang’. Everyone’s gazes fell on him, including that of his future wife as well as father-in-law.
“It’s fine. I just came over to see what divinity the Li Family managed to invite,” Zhu Ping feigned, not even daring to say Li Wan’er’s name now.
Only when the gazes on him had dispersed did Zhu Ping lower his tone, saying to Li Wan’er, “Get ready to sleep on the streets.”
“I have a room at Royal Dynasty Hotel,” Xu Tingsheng turned to look at Li Wan’er.
“I fear that you won’t have the chance to return to your room. Prepare to be hospitalised,” Zhu Ping replied.
“I guarantee that I’ll beat you up later till you need to go to the hospital,” Xu Tingsheng told him.
Zhu Ping left.
Li Wan’er hesitated for a moment before maneuvering away from beneath Xu Tingsheng’s shoulder, taking the initiative to ask him, “What were you looking for them to chat about?”
Xu Tingsheng said, “I asked those who sell fabric for all of them to let you have another set of fabric. I told those who placed the orders to give up on the reparations, slowly waiting for your family to finish the clothes before buying them. I also chatted with a few distributors and asked them to strongly promote the existing stocks your family has.”
“Then, I also privately told all of them that whoever agreed first, we’d pay them back first next time. At the same time, we’ll also give them a discount and priority in our future transactions.”
“I told them that if they all aren’t willing, they can forget about it and go on with lodging a complaint and doing the auction. As for if they don’t have enough money to split following the auction, that’s not our problem at all. You haven’t got any money anyway, and as for me, I’d also have to wait for your company to start business again before being willing to invest. The first sum would be ten million yuan, and I’d slowly add more afterwards.”
Hearing Xu Tingsheng excitedly telling a far-fetched tale that seemed purely of the imagination, shameless and arrogant to the point that it seemed pigs could teleport, Li Wan’er could not hold back a chuckle from escaping her mouth.
She thought for a moment before playing along, asking him jokingly, “Did they all agree then?”
Xu Tingsheng grew even more mischievous as he was increasingly feeling that it was quite an interesting thing to act like a foolish, arrogant youngster once in a while.
He sighed distantly before telling her, “Not a single one.”
His expression seemed to convey: Such a great idea of mine, but not a single one accepted it. How depressing!
Li Wan’er reached out and squeezed Xu Tingsheng’s hand under the table as she gazed at him, “Thank you. You should leave first after a bit. I’m scared that Zhu Ping might get some people to find trouble with you before this gathering ends. Also…”
“Also what?” Xu Tingsheng pulled back his hand and asked.
“I’ll never forget you,” Li Wan’er mustered up her courage.
Perhaps having one’s hopes utterly dashed would instead make one braver as Li Wan’er looked straight at Xu Tingsheng just like that, asking, “You are Xu Tingsheng, twenty years old, a driver, very good at fighting and a very street smart hoodlum, right?”
Xu Tingsheng nodded triumphantly. It had already been too long since he last played a role such as this. He had watched many HK films when he was young, being very worshipful of this kind of person. Andy Lau, Chow Yun-fat, which of them had not played such a role before?
“You joked earlier that you’d take me away, support me and feed me,” Li Wan’er smiled, “If that wasn’t a joke and you don’t feel disturbed that I’m eleven years older than you and was married before, if my predicament wasn’t like this and I wouldn’t be a burden to you, I’d tell you that…I’m willing to go with you.”
“I got the chick just like this?” Xu Tingsheng felt bemused as he asked disbelievingly, “What?”
“I said, if you would accept me, if I were free and weren’t a burden, I’d be willing to go with you. I don’t eat much anyway; it wouldn’t be that tough on you,” The 31-year-old Li Wan’er said as she looked straight into the eyes of the 20-year-old Xu Tingsheng.
“Is this chick really silly or pretending?” Xu Tingsheng was taken aback for a bit, “You won’t be grabbing onto me now, right?”
Li Wan’er said, “I won’t. You hurry and and leave!”
Xu Tingsheng shook his head as well, “I’ll wait for a while longer. For us street dudes, loyalty is the most important, and I said that I would help you. Also, I still haven’t beaten up that guy who threatened me earlier into the hospital yet! When have I ever been threatened like this outside?”
Seeing Xu Tingsheng with his gangster routine again, Li Wan’er felt extremely helpless as she frantically exclaimed, “Xu Tingsheng, take it like I’m begging you. Hurry up and leave! I was wrong, I shouldn’t have asked you for help. Now, I’m scared that Zhu Ping might really come and find trouble with you. Also, you won’t be able to help me here. This really isn’t something that can be taken care of using those gangster methods of yours. Don’t be so childish, okay?”
Xu Tingsheng persisted adamantly, “Why do I have to leave? I’m here to take care of matters for you. Come, tell me which families are the ones who sent people to watch over your factory and moved away your family’s equipment. I’ll go chat with them and ask them to send the stuff back and the people away.”
Li Wan’er asked, “You’re still going?”
Xu Tingsheng said, “Yeah! If you don’t tell me, I’ll just have to go and ask them one by one.”
Li Wan’er could only point out those people to Xu Tingsheng.
Then, Xu Tingsheng raised his wineglass and set off once more.
He wasn’t there to flaunt, even though he looked like he was.
Yet, Xu Tingsheng’s true motive was to spread a message. Firstly, he needed these people to understand and start considering this: If the Li Family survives, it will be beneficial to everyone.
And how might the Li Family tide through this? All of them had to make some concessions first.
No one was enemies with money. No one here would be willing to watch their 3 million dwindle badly, stubbornly forcing the Li Family into extinction at the cost of suffering losses themselves.
As Xu Tingsheng had said earlier, Li Wan’er’s greatest advantage right now was really that she owed sufficient money. Even if all the Li Family’s belongings were auctioned off, it would still be far from sufficient for them to recoup their losses. Thus, the debtors would be even happier than Li Wan’er herself to see the Li Family making a comeback, gaining the ability to repay their debt.
The problem now was that they already no longer dared to trust the Li Family. They feared that if they gave way, it would lead to them suffering even greater losses down the road.
Therefore, there was currently no one who was willing to accept Xu Tingsheng’s proposal.
That being so, what if something happened later on which proved that the Li Family had really found an investor, gaining an opportunity as well as a backer to succeed in a comeback with?
For example, if there was someone who possessed two enterprises whose net worth were close to a hundred million yuan and he shared a close, intimate relationship with Li Wan’er, and he agreed to invest a large sum as soon as the Li Family’s factory had resumed operations…
They would begin to believe it, begin to willingly consider and accept Xu Tingsheng’s proposal.
In such a manner, they would be able to recoup their losses. At the same time, they would also have a chance to establish a good relationship with the Li Family that might be even stronger in the future, perhaps even establishing a good relationship with the two huge, major enterprises.
Xu Tingsheng even privately told all of them, “Whoever agrees first, we’ll pay them back their money first. Moreover, we’ll also give them a discount and priority in our future transactions.”
“Whoever gives way first, we’ll pay them back their money first,” While taken at face value, this concept might seem simple, even infantile, it actually possessed the greatest ‘killing power’. This was targeted against the innate weakness and selfishness of the human mind.
Of course, this had to be done in private…conveyed by Xu Tingsheng to all the families present.
No one would be enemies with money and opportunities.
Moreover, most people in reality flocked to the rich and the powerful like moths to a flame, unconsciously wishing to get in the good graces of and benefit from those who were more powerful than them.
Therefore, Xu Tingsheng spread the message as he waited for the person who had left to look up on him to return. Then, he would wait for the first family to change their stance, voicing their willingness to make a concession.
Then, there would be a second, a third…finally, through their closely knit network of relations, he would tie all of them down, effectively ‘kidnapping’ them.