Chapter 271: Recognising and bestowing
A post-rebirth life with a greater mental age and a stronger foundation did not entail that a person would definitely be able to assimilate into the form of interaction at a different social strata within a short period of time.
At the core of his being, Xu Tingsheng actually still did not belong to such a social strata yet.
Of course, Fang Yuqing was an exception. This ‘outlier’ aside, Xu Tingsheng still preferred to casually hang out with that bunch of ordinary classmates and friends who hailed from simple, ordinary backgrounds and lived ordinary lives. He felt much more relaxed and happy this way.
Hence, at Tianyi’s cocktail party, he had maintained his silence as much as humanely possible.
If you are in a comparatively foreign setting and know full well that all your available cards are known to everyone else, yet are still just sorely insufficient, the best way of circumventing this would be to maintain a sense of mystery, letting others speculate about you.
They will speculate about you to the point that even you don’t recognise yourself anymore.
Cats will be magnified into tigers.
Xu Tingsheng’s greatest advantage was the sense of mystery surrounding him. Even though Hucheng was already laid out on the table, him hailing from a farming family in a small county and his sudden and rapid rise to prominence was still thought of as inconceivable by everyone.
Just this point alone was sufficient to cause people to fear underestimating him, thus constantly speculating about him….and the more they speculated, the more highly they came to view him.
Though Xu Tingsheng had ate, drank and made merry together with these people a few times before, the topic of business and money had never been broached between them. He actually could not be considered as having truly integrated into this social circle.
Thus, Xu Tingsheng’s greatest principle in interacting with them thus far had always been to keep as friendly and polite as possible whilst also abstaining from interacting too closely with them as much as possible such that that sense of mystery was maintained.
If Xu Tingsheng was currently waving the flag of Hucheng and telling everyone that a university student who had risen up with his own power and attained some results intended to go into the real estate market, there probably wouldn’t be many who would consider this in earnest. There definitely wouldn’t be this many people present here tonight, especially all these foreign faces.
Now, however, the feeling that Xu Tingsheng gave these people was that this inscrutable young fellow from abroad whom they had always been unable to see through despite their best efforts had revealed his intentions to venture into real estate in Yanzhou City.
They definitely had to go take a look then!
Xu Tingsheng briefly scanned all the forty plus people present even as he feasted on food and drink. While some of them might have come just to watch the commotion, there were definitely no unrelated, insignificant people here, those women whom he had not seen before included. Xu Tingsheng could tell with a single glance that they were not here as the women of some second gen. They had entered this place based on their own statuses.
It might even really be beneath some of them to come here.
This was the first half of the night’s event, mainly being for everyone to get better acquainted with one another and confirm the veracity of that matter, understanding the general situation.
Xu Tingsheng warmly and politely greeted and conversed with everyone who came up to him, also taking the initiative to greet all those people standing nearby. Some asked him about his real estate plans. He said that he indeed had the intention to get involved in this, saying that everyone would hopefully have a chance to cooperate in the future and not to be stingy with their help then.
The topic would generally end here. Those who truly intended to get involved in this main topic of discussion would naturally stay behind and attend the afterparty.
Feeling pained over the cost of the meal, whenever there wasn’t anyone whom he needed to greet, Xu Tingsheng would be eating very earnestly, eating back as much money as he could. He was the only person in this entire venue from start to end who seemed to have come here just for the meal.
Returning from a round around the area, Huang Yaming asked, “The abalone and birds’ nest both haven’t been served yet?”
Xu Tingsheng licked his lips, “They’re gone.”
Huang Yaming forced a smile, “Bro, you’ve already made it this far. Can’t you rein in your poor bastard act a little? Don’t you find it embarrassing?”
Xu Tingsheng shot back, “Didn’t you also ask about abalone and birds’ nest as soon as you got here?”
Grabbing some of the dishes on the table, Huang Yaming said, “I was poor in the first place. So, I’ve no idea at all what else is valuable besides abalone and birds’ nest. I could just have eaten one of those expensive things and I wouldn’t even have noticed.”
“Me too,” Xu Tingsheng said.
Xu Tingsheng exchanged some simple pleasantries with a beauty in a long black dress who looked around twenty-seven or twenty-eight, her hair curled slightly at the back. Fang Yuqing then walked over with his wineglass that was already empty.
As this wasn’t any formal occasion, everyone present was dressed rather casually with the sole exception of Fang Yuqing. The collared shirt he wore was buttoned up right to the very top. As for the reason, it was that his neck and chest was filled completely with scratch marks…these were from Yuqing’s initial resistance and later heated passion the previous night.
“Isn’t it hot? Just unbutton your shirt then. It’s just a small thing, who here wouldn’t understand?” Xu Tingsheng teased him, “Just that who would have thought, huh? Yuqing looks so gentle, but she’s actually a female leopard.”
Fang Yuqing had already gotten used to being teased by Xu Tingsheng and the other two these past two days. He simply ignored the provocation, pointing towards the departing silhouette and saying, “The woman you just talked to-her name’s Ye Qing.”
Xu Tingsheng said, “I know, she just told me.”
“She’s already thirty, but she doesn’t look it, right? She’s still single.”
“You’re right, she doesn’t look it. But so what?”
“How about you consider utilising your forte and sealing the deal with her?”
“Forte your sister! Still, what’s with this again?”
Because of Xu Tingsheng, Fang Yuqing and the others had already prematurely gotten used to the phrase ‘your sister’ and were widely promoting the fad. Whatever the case, this phrase was much easier for people to accept than the likes of ‘your mother’.
“Publicly acknowledged as the wealthiest in Yanzhou, the Ye family,” Fang Yuqing spoke in a hushed tone, “While Ye Qing has an elder brother above her, he’s not more competent as her. Because of that, her family should still be hesitating over the succession. She and her brother are still competing over it as well. I’m betting that she’ll win. I really hadn’t expected to see her here today.”
“I’m wondering if she’ll go to the afterparty. If she’s ultimately willing to participate, our chances of success will be much higher.”
“Let’s wait and see then.”
“You won’t consider trying to net her?”
“Net your sister!”
“I only have one elder sister. Might you be interested?”
After the first half of the event had ended, Wu Kun called for them to continue the afterparty in his nightclub. He had already arranged a large VIP room for them.
While the afterparty would be held in the nightclub, they wouldn’t be heading there to have fun. Virtually everyone present understood that those who wanted to have fun could go have fun on their own. Those remaining who were truly interested in the proposition would naturally go over.
Xu Tingsheng and his three bros headed there via car. Tan Yao who had intentionally restricted his alcohol intake was in charge of driving.
This time that was spent travelling was the best chance for the four of them to communicate amongst themselves. After having gone inside that VIP room, there were many things which would become inconvenient for them to say.
“Tingsheng, how do you see it?” Huang Yaming asked.
“Some of them appeared much more enthusiastic and receptive than what you told me,” Xu Tingsheng said.
“That’s a good thing,” Tan Yao replied while driving.
“Can’t really say that for sure,” Xu Tingsheng said.
“There were a few just now who patted their chests and said that we’ll strike it rich together. They seemed really interested,” Tan Yao said.
“I had a few of those too,” Huang Yaming said.
“I had a few who didn’t guarantee anything at all, but asked about it very earnestly and in great detail,” Fang Yuqing said.
“Which few?” Xu Tingsheng asked before stopping Tan Yao and Huang Yaming who were about to answer, “I’ll listen to Yuqing’s first.”
“Chen Yan, Gao Yupo, Jiang Jin…” Fang Yuqing recited five names in succession.
Xu Tingsheng nodded, carefully thinking back on his earlier conversations and interactions with these five people.
“It it that those who looked all buddy-buddy with us all actually won’t participate?” Huang Yaming asked Xu Tingsheng.
“That’s not it. It’s just that these people tend to just go along with what the majority are doing. They aren’t the people whom we have to concentrate on grasping and succeeding with later. We just take down those we have to take down, and then they’ll naturally follow…it’s instead Yuqing’s lot who have ideas and doubts of their own whom we have to pay attention to,” Xu Tingsheng answered.
“So that’s how it was…” Huang Yaming scratched his head before suddenly questioning, “Hey, Tingsheng, I’ve never understood when you learnt all this stuff. I was hanging out with you way back since tenth grade. Back then, you didn’t know about these complicated, messy things too!”
This question was something that Xu Tingsheng would definitely not be able to answer, because these things had actually mostly been learnt from his previous life, during those couple of years in which he had ran around all over the place in a bid to secure business success.
“Reading,” Xu Tingsheng found the most useable answer that he could think of and replied.
“Yeah, like real,” Fang Yuqing switched back to the main topic, saying, “Bro Kun will be participating. Also, the likelihood of him participating is very high.”
He said this with great certainty.
“Why?” Xu Tingsheng asked.
“Bro Kun likes to gamble,” Fang Yuqing said.
“Right! Dice, mahjong, cards, Bro Kun’s just awesome at all of them. With those hands of his, he’ll never starve to death wherever he goes,” Tan Yao interjected, having once worked at Wu Kun’s nightclub for a period of time before.
“Not this kind of gambling,” Fang Yuqing explained, “What I mean is that he loves to gamble in his life choices. Don’t forget that Wu Kun is the one out of all of us who truly had completely no background at all initially. From having not a cent to his name to achieving what he has now at the age of thirty, he’s bet all-in with every single step he’s taken. There are at least three times that I know of. He bet his life in the first, and all his assets in the following two…he’s won every time, thus having attained all that he has today. All of us guys have to call him (Big) Bro Kun.”
“Even having reached this point, he’s still gambling?” Having actually rather admired and worshipped Wu Kun all along, Tan Yao was rather emotional now as he asked about this.
“When one arrives at a new level, they see new things, and desire new things. Therefore, those who truly possess ambition will actually never be able to stop,” Xu Tingsheng smiled, “Though it doesn’t seem to be like that for me.”
“That still remains to be seen. You may not even know it yourself now,” Fang Yuqing said, “Still, what you say is definitely the case. If Wu Kun thought the way Tan Yao just did, after gambling for the first time, he was actually already in a position to start a peaceful life. And yet he didn’t, still continuing to gamble..that’s why I say that he loves to gamble, and may never stop at that.”
“Why do you think he will choose this time to gamble?” Xu Tingsheng asked.
“Wu Kun’s thirty-two years old this year. What he owns now is intrinsically no different from what he owned at the age of twenty-nine. This is to say that he has already searched for three whole years, yet has ultimately been unable to find a suitable space for that breakthrough. This is the first thing.”
Fang Yuqing said, “Secondly, he’s already been interested in real estate for quite a while. Still, he’s got no actual background at the end of the day. There’s no one who’s really led him into it.”
“I’ve got no actual background too,” Xu Tingsheng said.
“I know, but he doesn’t. None of them do. All the things that you and your family have achieved over this one plus year has left everyone feeling unable to see through your background. They instead believe that it’s surely very substantial. Our relationship, including the way we usually interact, has also caused such an impression of you to deepen for them,” Fang Yuqing said.
“Go on,” Xu Tingsheng said.
“Actually, even I myself can’t stop from wondering sometimes. It’s surely the same for those two. Even we feel that we can’t see through you sometimes. You made a band, started a company, set up some training institutes and became a shareholder of Tianyi…always coming up with some weird stuff every once in a while, yet somehow always being successful every time. Could it be that there really is some great expert standing behind you?” Fang Yuqing mused.
Tan Yao and Huang Yaming both nodded repeatedly in agreement at this.
“That isn’t what I was asking about. Hurry and tell me the third reason.”
Xu Tingsheng used a simple, rough method to get around this topic.
“Thirdly, Bro Kun was paying quite a bit of attention to you before this. Then, he came to admire you greatly. Don’t think that it was very easy to clean up that incident from before. Cleaning up is actually the most troublesome part of things like that. That he was willing to take things over for you itself already shows for something. Therefore, I’m guessing he will bet on you this time.”
After discussing Wu Kun who could basically be confirmed as a very desirable ally, Fang Yuqing then came to mention somebody else.
“One of them, Ding Sen. You should take note of him later,” He said.
“Is it a good thing?” Xu Tingsheng asked.
“He’s trouble,” Fang Yuqing replied.
“Why? But I’ve never heard of this person before! Did I accidentally provoke him?”
“Ding Sen’s twenty-five this year. He’s been pursuing Lu Zhixin ever since he was twenty.”
Hearing Fang Yuqing’s words, Huang Yaming exclaimed, “That’s just too freaking shameless! Five years ago, Lu Zhixin should only have been in junior high, right?”
Shameless? Uh…Xu Tingsheng lowered his head and rubbed the area between his brows, smiling awkwardly at the floor as he hesitantly ventured, “This…isn’t that shameless, right? They…it’s only a five year difference.”
“It isn’t about that. Hey, when he started pursuing Lu Zhixin, she was still in junior high! Seventh grade? Eighth grade? He’s really a beast! How isn’t he embarrassed? Huang Yaming continued ranting on and on about it.
The other two people in the car nodded in agreement.
Here, they were unaware that it wasn’t just Ding Sen they were berating. They were berating Xu Tingsheng as well.
Xu Tingsheng felt completely lost. Hey, what if Little Xiang Ning were to be exposed in the future then? How would he still be able to continue living?
“He didn’t succeed, right?” Huang Yaming asked.
Before Fang Yuqing could answer, Tan Yao directly retorted, “Duh! If not for that, how could Lu Zhixin have come to follow Bro Xu like this, working so hard for him and even living together in the same house as him?”
Xu Tingsheng would originally still have been able to righteously explain the matter of the two of them living in the same house. Still, because of the matter two days back, considering what had happened those two nights…his basis for doing so fell pitifully short.
“Cough, cough,” Xu Tingsheng coughed twice before asking Fang Yuqing, “What’s Ding Sen’s background?”
“Both business and officialdom. His family has ties of cooperation with the Lu Family. He can’t compare to Chen Yan in terms of background in the bureaucracy, and can’t compare to Gao Yupo in terms of wealth, but adding those up together, he’s a little stronger than them both.”
Fang Yuqing told Xu Tingsheng of Ding Sen’s power by means of comparison.
As they were discussing Ding Sen, a red Ferrari raced by outside the window.
“That’s Ye Qing’s car,” Fang Yuqing said, “You can tell from the direction that she’s going to the afterparty.”
“Oh,” Xu Tingsheng said.
“You ain’t curious?”
“Just a little.”
“I just can’t think of anything that you could possibly offer her. Even if you really succeed and profit, the money wouldn’t be much to her family anyway. Don’t look down on our Yanzhou’s richest family. If the Ye family really flashed it all out, they’d even be able to get on Forbes.”
“It’s not a matter of money. It’s that I can give her a chance to prove outside of her family that she’s more capable than her elder brother.”
“But why you? If she wanted to prove herself by investing in real estate, aren’t Yanzhou’s local real estate companies more reliable than you? And they themselves are already connected to the Ye family. You’re not established at all.”
“It’s precisely because I’m not established at all, only just having appeared. Because of that, I am the most suitable choice.”
“Vision. Also, for those local real estate companies you’re talking about, since you say that they all have ties with the Ye family already, they’ve surely already chosen a side between her and her brother. The situation’s basically been set. Also, I believe that she should have come out worse off in that decision…therefore, me coming out now is just right. Bar any unexpected occurrences, we’ve got ourselves another powerful ally.”
“That makes sense,” Huang Yaming said.
“But she’s dangerous too. Take care not to be suddenly swallowed up by her later on,” Xu Tingsheng said.
“Won’t it be fine if you just net her?” Fang Yuqing commented.
“Your sister!” Xu Tingsheng said.
Huang Yaming and Tan Yao both volunteered their services.
“Fine, you two can give it a go. Still, don’t be impolite…” Xu Tingsheng said.
“Hey, stop messing around,” Fang Yuqing said.
“I’m not messing around. Don’t feel that rich women are all that special. However rich she is, she’s still thirty and single. I don’t believe that the phrase ‘thirty and ravenous’ is completely unfounded. Good luck, the two of you! Do your best to conquer her,” Xu Tingsheng smiled.
Tan Yao’s and Huang Yaming’s morale instantly surged through the roof at this prospect.
The car stopped outside the entrance of the nightclub as Tan Yao dropped the other three off.
Unexpectedly, Lu Zhixin also just happened to be getting off another car there.
“Xu Tingsheng? How, how is it that you’re here?”
Lu Zhixin was clearly rather taken aback, with a rare look of panic and nervousness also visible on her face.
“I’m here to discuss something,” Xu Tingsheng smiled, “And what about you? A girl coming to a nightclub by herself to have fun? That’s hmm, you know.”
Still appearing rather flustered, Lu Zhixin replied, “Some, one of my friends, cousin…no, the son of my Dad’s friend…”
“Ding Sen?” Xu Tingsheng inquired.
“Yeah…huh? How did you know that?” Lu Zhixin asked.
“I saw him just now. Well, see you. I’ll be going in first,” Xu Tingsheng said mildly before turning to head in.
How to put it? Yeah, he was actually feeling just that tiny bit unhappy…perhaps it was because the place that Lu Zhixin and Ding Sen had arranged to meet at was a nightclub, probably. Also, she had come here alone.
Of course, Xu Tingsheng knew that this unhappiness was baseless. It was just his possessive tendencies as a man at work. Men usually only gave themselves free rein to act wantonly, not allowing women to exhibit anything remotely questionable to anyone else…not even the tiniest semblance of this could be easily condoned.
Seeing Xu Tingsheng already a distance away now, a dazed Lu Zhixin finally regained her wits as she ran over with a perturbed expression on her face.
Grabbing Xu Tingsheng’s arm, she hurriedly explained, “No, Xu Tingsheng, listen to me. He told me that he was here, but I said that I wasn’t coming originally. But then my Dad called and said that it’s for switching to a new contract…our families are business partners. Look, my contract…”
This was probably the reason why Ding Sen had been able to pursue Lu Zhixin for five years. If one of the two could have truly made it such that there was no chance for any contact occurring between them at all, the other party would definitely have been made to give up no matter what.
“Perhaps their parents have been secretly hoping for them to get together as well.”
Looking into Lu Zhixin’s eyes, Xu Tingsheng said earnestly, “It’s fine, I know how it is. He’s been pursuing you for many years, but you’ve always rejected him. Still…Zhixin, I want to tell you that you’re actually free to choose whoever you want.”
Xu Tingsheng’s words actually came straight from the heart upon some self-reflection. It was true that Lu Zhixin was free to choose. With Xu Tingsheng’s chaotic love life that was all over the place, what right had he to ask anything of anyone?
Especially Lu Zhixin.
Yet, this wasn’t the underlying meaning Lu Zhixin heard behind those words. She instead heard mockery, pain, restraint, resignation, and perhaps even more. Usually tough and composed, Lu Zhixin was rendered extremely flustered and completely at a loss.
“Zhixin, you’re here?”
Just as Lu Zhixin was feeling conflicted over how to reply to Xu Tingsheng, Ding Sen came out from inside to receive her. Seeing how she was holding onto Xu Tingsheng’s arm, a vicious light flickered within his eyes and was gone in a flash…
Immediately afterwards, pretending that he had not noticed a thing, Ding Sen nonchalantly walked in between Xu Tingsheng and Lu Zhixin, separating the two.
“It’s been more than a year. You’re more beautiful than ever, Zhixin,” Ding Sen said.
Lu Zhixin tilted her head to the side, wanting to look at Xu Tingsheng who was being obscured from her field of vision by Ding Sen.
“I’ve booked a private room. Why don’t we go inside?” Ding Sen reached out to take Lu Zhixin’s hand.
Lu Zhixin subtly evaded it.
Ding Sen showed no signs of awkwardness as he subtly switched to putting his arm around Lu Zhixin’s waist, next walking off. While such a gesture was generally viewed as gentlemanly and polite in high society, it was, in reality, a very ‘domineering’ one…as soon as the man started to walk, if the woman did not follow, the initially benign move would end up an accosting embrace.
Lu Zhixin still wanted to avoid him. Yet, it would be impossible for her to subtly extricate herself from this accostment. And if she were to just spring away from him…that would be too impolite, not giving him any face at all.
“Right, Uncle Lu seems to have had a bit of problem with his cashflow lately? It seems that in this new contract, Uncle Lu wants to extend the repayment deadline. It’s really rather troubling for my Dad. Let’s not even mention my brother. He continually opposed it, saying that business is business, and rules are rules.”
“As for me, I feel that with our two families having been partners for so long, the relationship that exists between us definitely should not be thought about from wholly the standpoint of business alone. Don’t you agree, Zhixin?”
Lu Zhixin immediately froze up as she heard Ding Sen say this.
After hesitating for a while, she followed Ding Sen and walked in.
Xu Tingsheng and the other two were left standing by the doorway.
As Tan Yao hurried over from parking the car, catching a glimpse of Lu Zhixin’s departing figure, he pointed, “Hey, wasn’t that Lu Zhixin? What’s the situation here?”
“Not sure,” Huang Yaming said.
When Ding Sen had walked over, Xu Tingsheng had retreated back slightly due to his conflicted thoughts. Therefore, he had not heard those words which had been exchanged afterwards, only having seen Lu Zhixin’s avoidance of Ding Sen as well as her hesitation.
Still, she had still left with him in the end.
“I’m not angry, I’m not angry, I’m not qualified to be angry,” Xu Tingseng recited over and over to himself like a mantra.
“Should we play him?” Tan Yao asked.
Xu Tingsheng forced a smile, “They’re childhood friends. Let’s go.”
Still, Xu Tingsheng intentionally fell behind, walking a distance behind the other three. And upon seeing Wu Kun who had come to receive them at the door, he asked softly, “Bro Kun…that Ding Sen’s room, can you help me get someone to keep an eye on it?”
Looking at Xu Tingsheng, Wu Kun smiled, not asking anything at all as he simply said, “Alright. Leave it to me.”
“Thank you, Bro Kun. Sorry for troubling you.”
After expressing his gratitude, Xu Tingsheng was consoling himself even as he headed up the stairs, “I’m not jealous, I’m just worried; I’m not jealous, I’m just worried; I’m not jealous…”