Chapter 223: Li Wan’er’s choice
As Zhu Ping walked towards Xu Tingsheng, Li Wan’er who had constantly been feeling worried for him came over as well, firmly and resolutely placing her slender, frail body in between them.
“Don’t worry, I’m not so stupid that I’d make a move on him now. If I did that, my wife and father-in-law would see it, overthink things and unnecessarily complicate matters,” Zhu Ping smiled darkly, “Still, if others were to act rashly, that wouldn’t have anything to do with me.”
Perhaps riled up and instigated by Zhu Ping, several other young men in the crowd also had animosity in their gazes that were on Xu Tingsheng as they rubbed their fists in anticipation.
Even though the mountains were too high and the waters too deep in Shenghai, with their statuses being woefully insufficient as they often had to lower their heads in facing others, against some upstart who had gotten rich from opening a supermarket in a county, there obviously wouldn’t be much of a problem at all if they acted against him.
Xu Tingsheng pressed on Li Wan’er’s shoulders and moved her away, still seeming all gangster-like as he told Zhu Ping, “You think you can beat me in a fight?”
“I don’t,” Zhu Ping scoffed disdainfully before directly saying, “You may not know this, but those who are good at fighting aren’t actually the most capable. Instead, it’s those who clearly can’t fight yet can make his superior opponent stand there and take a beating, not daring to retaliate.”
Xu Tingsheng considered this for a bit before saying earnestly, “That sounds really badass.”
Zhu Ping chortled, thinking that Xu Tingsheng might really be just a mere brainless hoodlum.
Xu Tingsheng said, “So you’d better not retaliate later then.”
Zhu Ping asked, “Well, why don’t you give it a go?”
Xu Tingsheng replied, “I’ll wait for a while.”’
The few people around them who could hear their conversation all felt speechless, thinking that Xu Tingsheng was very useless…what did he mean by waiting for a while? If he was scared of Zhu Ping, he should just admit it, rather than shamelessly insisting on putting on a front like this.
Xu Tingsheng saw the young man who had left earlier return, walking over to a corner where a group of older people were seated.
“Hucheng Tongcheng, formerly Hucheng Education, established for less than a year, servicing almost 50 cities in the economically developed southeastern coastal region, our Shenghai City included. They have their own training institute, their estimated worth being…over 100 million.”
The first sentence of the young man who was still panting a little from running over disrupted the composure of their group.
A few people glanced cautiously towards Xu Tingsheng and Li Wan’er across the room, while others had already begun secretly pondering on their private conversation with him from earlier.
“Are you sure it’s him? He’s called Xu Tingsheng? He’s so young, he shouldn’t be a fake, right?” the man surnamed Xiao who worked in the distribution line questioned repeatedly.
“Yes, it is him. There are a few photos of him online from when he was involved in a group fight. They weren’t exactly clear, but I compared them with him. It should be him all right, definitely.”
“First year of university, about to start his second year. 20 years old. He also seems to know where Cao Cao’s mausoleum is or something, just that it still hasn’t been confirmed yet. Anyway, he’s very famous on the internet, just that we usually don’t take notice because our professions are too far apart.”
Letting loose an unconscious exclamation, the various patriarchs leaned back in their seats. They had came to a conclusion about Xu Tingsheng beforehand and decided that they were simply going to sit and watch. One could only imagine how great a mental blow they suffered.
Zhu Ping’s father who wore a huge golden watch on his wrist recalled his conversation with Xu Tingsheng as he murmured softly, “Didn’t that kid say his family runs supermarkets in a county?”
In this world, there are some smart alecks who like to feign intelligence wherever they go. There are also others who just like to ‘package’ themselves as coarse, or high profile and thoughtless, just acting spontaneously with whatever comes to mind. Such people easily cause one to ease their guard. If they say or do something wrong, it will also generally be accepted and forgiven.
This Boss Zhu had clearly been playing such a role all this.
“His father does run a supermarket. There’s a scoop on it online, given by some local. I think that the supermarket is called Happy Shoppers…” The young man replied.
“You aren’t kidding, right?” Someone exclaimed exaggeratedly, seemingly finding it very hard to believe that a son with a company that might be worth over a hundred million yuan could have a father who ran a supermarket in a county.
“Happy Shoppers has just existed for a year, but the number of stores it runs directly as well as the franchise stores whose shares they hold already number more than sixty, all of these being medium or large scale modern self-service supermarkets. They even sell clothing.”
More than sixty medium and large scale supermarkets?
They even sold clothing?
These two sentences combined really held too great ‘killing power’ for all these bosses present.
As they were in the clothing industry, this news entailed an incomparably huge business partner.
There were already some who already could not wait to approach Xu Tingsheng.
“I was the first to accept. I was the first to agree to a concession!” While not one of them had agreed to Xu Tingsheng’s proposal originally, all of them were fighting over this ‘first’ now.
The young man continued, “Happy Shoppers does not have a detailed estimated worth as of yet, but I feel that it definitely wouldn’t be anywhere low. Especially their total wealth-because the Xu Family really did rise to prominence rather quickly, many are guessing about that, just that it isn’t something that can be easily seen through.”
“Dang,” Someone said, “We’ve worked our entire lives and it can’t even add up to what this father and son have accomplished in a single year.”
“This Xu Family should have some substantial background, right? Otherwise, it’s impossible that they could’ve risen so quickly. Where’s his family from?” Another person asked.
This still wasn’t that era where the production of just a single app could result in someone suddenly gaining a couple hundred million overnight. The speed of the Xu Family’s rise to prominence was indeed a little too inconceivable.
“Jianhai Province, Jiannan City, Libei County.”
As the young man finished, the old Mr Wang who had been the first to speak to Li Wan’er raised a hand to call for silence before saying, “I’ll make a call, check with my friend from Jiannan City.”
Less than two minutes later, he hung up, saying, “This old friend of mine is still of some status in the city. He didn’t say much, just one thing. Something happened to the Xu Family in their own county a while back. In the end…at least three calls came in from the provincial office for them.”
The formerly bustling corner instantly descended into silence just like that.
Xu Tingsheng’s identity, background and capabilities all needn’t be doubted now. As for his relationship with Li Wan’er, that too seemed to be evident beyond compare. It should be as everyone had seen, could think of…that kind of relationship.
It did not sit well with some of them who were already starting to think ‘scornfully’, “Everyone was saying how Li Wan’er is pure and foolish, totally unlike someone from a business family. But in the end, she’d already gone and sold herself at a good price without anyone knowing.”
Of course, none of them was foolish enough to voice such thoughts openly.
It was just like how they should be treating Li Wan’er now, as well as what sort of attitude they should adopt and how they should handle the Li Family’s debts. There was already no need to voice these out as well-the answer to this was tacitly known by everyone.
And this answer was something they were happy to arrive at. Again, there was no one who was willing to be enemies with money.
It was virtually confirmed that they would be able to get their money back. The Li Family…would be able to afford it. Also, their future cooperation could very likely reap greater benefits for them. It was these that were the most important, being of much more significance than how mighty Xu Tingsheng’s background was.
At the end of the day, Xu Tingsheng’s background just made them more willing to trust the Li family, to trust that if they made a concession now, their money would naturally return to them.
This was why Xu Tingsheng had previously told Li Wan’er that her biggest advantage was actually that she owed sufficient money, so much so that auctioning off all the Li Family’s belongings would still be far from sufficient to recompense everyone.
That was more important than Xu Tingsheng’s support and powerful background here.
If they did not trust Li Wan’er and pushed the Li Family off the cliff, lodging a complaint and auctioning off their assets, they would have lost upward of a million or even several million afterwards, even earning the reputation of harming others without even benefiting oneself.
If they chose to trust Li Wan’er, they were practically guaranteed their money back and even stood to profit more in the long term.
Businessmen view profits very highly, and the Li Family also didn’t have any deep-rooted enmity with anyone. So, was there still a need to choose?
There already wasn’t anyone who doubted the future of the Li Family now. The Li Family would definitely make a comeback, surging into prominence once more as they surpassed their former selves. Just Xu Tingsheng’s promised investment of 10 million yuan and the 60 over medium and large scale supermarkets of the Xu Family alone were already sufficient for the Li Family and Li Wan’er to be completely assured of victory.
In contrast to the silence at this corner of the room, a din suddenly arose in the opposite corner.
Soon afterwards, someone ran over, “Uncles, Zhu Ping’s gotten into a fight with that village kid!”
He looked at Zhu Ping’s father, not daring to directly tell him that it was in fact Zhu Ping who had received a beating.
Everyone hurriedly rose from their seats.
“I said wait for a while. Look, you indeed managed to wait it out, huh?” Xu Tingsheng said.
Having suddenly been kicked solidly in the stomach by Xu Tingsheng, Zhu Ping was currently in the midst of crawling up from the ground. Behind him, a few guys whom he usually was on rather good terms with were getting ready to surge forward in retaliation.
A hapless Li Wan’er stood firmly before Xu Tingsheng, “Let him go! This doesn’t have anything to do with him in the first place.”
Then, Xu Tingsheng’s composed voice resounded from behind her, “Wan’er, step aside.”
Li Wan’er looked back, originally having intended to try persuading Xu Tingsheng again, telling him that this wasn’t something that could be solved by those gangster-like methods and urging him to quickly leave.
But as she looked back, she suddenly discovered that Xu Tingsheng seemed very different from how he had been earlier. Even though his tie was crooked and he still appeared slightly tipsy, the feeling which he emanated was already completely different from earlier, also being different from how it had been in all their previous interactions.
Li Wan’er suddenly felt unable to say to him, “You hoodlums…”
The word ‘hoodlum’ already couldn’t be used to describe the current Xu Tingsheng.
She thought back on those simple words from earlier, ‘Wan’er, step aside’. Even Xu Tingsheng’s tone and verbal mannerisms were already, all of a sudden, completely different from before.
While the suddenness of this felt miraculous, it was actually just the ‘20-year-old Xu Tingsheng’ having returned to being the ‘32-year-old experienced Xu Tingsheng’ as he had become mature and dependable all of a sudden.
As the ‘arrogant, ignorant hoodlum’ turned into the ‘successful man whose fortune nearly amounts to a hundred million at the age of twenty’, the atmosphere changed completely.
Moreover, it was currently precisely the moment when he needed to ‘act reliable’. Xu Tingsheng had basically had enough fun playing around already; he wouldn’t mind acting another way now.
Li Wan’er felt a little lost. She looked at Xu Tingsheng and the group of uncles and aunties currently in the midst of hurrying over, ultimately unable to stop worrying about him as she stubbornly refused to leave.
“It’s okay, Wan’er. They won’t dare to touch me. Come over here,” Xu Tingsheng smiled gently.
While Li Wan’er felt doubtful about this, like Xu Tingsheng had said, it was true that no one was rushing over. The furious young men, Zhu Ping who had just suffered a kick included, were all hastily pulled to the side by their parents after which they began conversing in hushed whispers.
It was exactly like how Zhu Ping himself had put it. Those who were the most capable weren’t those who were good at fighting but those who could make their opponent just stand there and take a beating, not daring to retaliate.
Zhu Ping dared not retaliate now.
Soon, the woman surnamed Xue walked out from the crowd, smiling enthusiastically as she called, “Niece Wan’er, come here! Auntie has something to tell you.”
Li Wan’er felt rather puzzled at this as she turned to look at Xu Tingsheng.
“Go on,” Xu Tingsheng smiled.
Li Wan’er made an affirmative noise before obediently stepping forward as asked.
The other party came over and grabbed her hands, “Look at my poor niece! How Auntie’s heart aches. You can rest assured, Wan’er. You can delay that loan from my family for however long you like. Also, when the factory’s about to resume operations, give Auntie a call. You can just take the fabric that you need to use first.”
Li Wan’er was rendered dazed by this sudden 180 degree change in attitude as she knew not how she should respond.
Therefore, she instinctively looked to Xu Tingsheng for guidance.
Seeing him nod, Li Wan’er felt at ease as she smiled, “Thank you, Auntie Xue. I’ll definitely pay you back the money when I’ve got the ability to.”
“No worries! It’s not like we’re outsiders. Take it slow, no need to feel pressured,” Madam Xue replied.
The first person having turned, there soon emerged a second, and then a third. Eventually, the situation had become one where everyone was heatedly competing to express their stance on the matter.
With things being so, however disdainful or unhappy some of those present might feel, however much they were unwilling to let the Li Family go, they still did not dare to voice their dissent now. Even if they did not care at all if they offended Xu Tingsheng, there was no way at all they would risk offending all these people from the same industry who had already aligned themselves with the Li Family, especially those with whom they shared a cooperative relationship.
These people therefore kept one another simultaneously in check.
This was the so-called ‘kidnapping’ that was the basis of Xu Tingsheng’s plan.
While Zhu Ping was still furious, with his father having repeatedly emphasized that he was not to offend Xu Tingsheng, he could only swallow his anger and accept his loss. In fact, their Zhu Family had even been one of the first families to declare their stance in this just earlier.
Meanwhile, Xu Tingsheng already no longer deigned to even look at Zhu Ping. Even when the latter’s father had personally brought him over to greet Xu Tingsheng earlier, all that had come in response was a casual smile.
Who was ‘the ignorant person who knew no fear’? Who lacked the qualifications? It already couldn’t be any more obvious. Had Li Wan’er made the right choice? This too already couldn’t be any more obvious. Due to his earlier arrogance and ignorance, Zhu Ping really wished that a black hole could just materialise at his feet and swallow him up.
This was especially so as he saw how Li Wan’er was so reliant on the young Xu Tingsheng as she seemed to trust him and listen to his every word. Zhu Ping had never seen her like this before. Now that he had, he was overwhelmed by an incomparable abject feeling of defeat.
Li Wan’er discovered that Xu Tingsheng’s seemingly impossible plans from earlier were actually being actualised right before her very eyes. Pigs really could teleport!
The fabric producers promised that they would let the Li Family have another shipment of fabric. Those who had made orders previously willingly gave up on compensation, continuing with their partnership. They could wait. Finally, the clothing retailers expressed that they would be strongly promoting the Li Family’s current stock of goods that still remained.
The people sent to watch over the factory would be immediately called back, the confiscated equipment returned.
Feeling overwhelmed, Li Wan’er coincidentally glanced at Xu Tingsheng and found him in the midst of telling those around him with a calm, composed expression on his face, “The first sum will be ten million yuan. After the Li Family has regained their usual operations, I look forward to working with all you guys.”
He spoke casually and in an incomparably natural tone as if it was no big deal at all, being just some minor matter like the price of a handful of vegetables in a supermarket.
Li Wan’er secretly puffed up her cheeks as she felt the urge to laugh, only barely managing to resist it, “This guy’s actually so good at acting! How can he seem so calm when telling such a big lie? He’s absolutely composed! If I were to take him at face value, even I would believe it!”
What she did not know was that she was actually the only one present who still did not believe what was going on.
The disbelieving Li Wan’er thought, “It looks like everyone’s been swindled by him, thinking that he really is the boss of that whatever Hucheng. Still, that twenty-year-old boss, the person he’s acting as-he must really be something!”
Li Wan’er could not deny that she was feeling very curious about the person that Xu Tingsheng was currently masquerading as, because he was really too legendary a character. The shared sensibilities of all girls then caused her to wonder about something else.
“They’re both twenty years old. One of them is a true legend, a young magnate, while the other is a hoodlum who’s impersonating somebody else. If I had to choose? I’d choose…the imposter, my hoodlum.
Despite the two vastly different identities, Li Wan’er had no difficulty choosing at all. She chose the one who had roared at and been fierce to her, he who loved to bully her and was just a mere driver. He always said that he was very good at fighting, that he would beat up whoever bullied her…that hoodlum.
She chose him without the slightest hesitation.