Chapter 278: Chain reaction
After sending Lu Zhixin back to the riverside residence, Xu Tingsheng boiled some water and brewed some tea. After plugging in the water heater, Xu Tingsheng returned to the living room and got his bag before telling Lu Zhixin who was sitting stiffly on the sofa, “Rest well.”
As he was about to head out, Lu Zhixin suddenly got up, came over and blocked the door.
Then, she just stood there, woodenly blocking his way as she grabbed onto his clothes with one hand. She just looked at him, not letting go and also not saying anything at all. The current Lu Zhixin was like a child who had been caught doing a misdeed as she looked guilty, wronged, lost, with varying emotions of all kinds being present.
Meeting her clearly hesitant gaze, Xu Tingsheng had to prompt her ‘What is it?’ thrice before she finally showed a reaction.
Only then did Lu Zhixin say in a small voice, “It’s too late. You can’t go back into your dorm. You, you stay here for tonight.”
Xu Tingsheng was taken aback, “I’d still better go stay the night in a motel. Mainly because…it might be awkward for us both.”
Xu Tingsheng was actually speaking in a very awkward manner. The things he had actually muddledly done before, how he as an Uncle had behaved toward a young lady like her…thinking back on it, he really could not but feel distressed.
Lu Zhixin understood what Xu Tingsheng was referring to, believing it to be intentional on his part.
While her face was flushed rather red, she still shook her head and blocked the door, “You stay here. Like…”
Xu Tingsheng could not hear the latter part of her words clearly as her voice was very soft, as indistinct as the buzzing of a mosquito. She seemed to have said something like ‘like…,…, is also fine.”
Perhaps feeling guilty over having caused Xu Tingsheng to suffer an injustice that night, Lu Zhixin wanted to recompense him for it, such as by allowing him to have his way with her one more time. This was despite the fact that she felt flustered and panicked just thinking about it. Lu Zhixin was completely different from her usual self now, having been like this the entire night.
An uncomprehending Xu Tingsheng went back over to sit on the sofa.
Lu Zhixin walked over rather hesitantly, asking, “Xu Tingsheng, are you angry with me? Huang Yaming was very angry.”
Xu Tingsheng said, “I’m not. Alright, maybe I was a little angry at first, but it quickly went away. I should understand your rationale. As for Huang Yaming, it’s just that his fundamental standpoint for looking at matters is different from yours. Relax, his moods usually come as fast as they go.”
“Your fundamental viewpoint is directed by rationality, but ours, mine and Huang Yaming’s, aren’t like that most of the time. He may deviate a bit more in the opposite direction than me.”
Xu Tingsheng explained, “This is actually very normal. After all, even though rationality was the philosophical basis of the Age of Enlightenment, there also existed an anti-rationality movement over the same period of time that emphasised emotion above all, hoping that people will be able to live life to the fullest with liberating passion and thoughtlessness.”
“Rationality is a very tiresome thing. To me, a life that consists only of rationality lacks flavour. It’d be stifling, boring and unbearable. People who’re a hundred percent rational are terrifying.”
After speaking for a while, the senior high history teacher who had not surfaced for a long time had reappeared in Xu Tingsheng as he was about to go on a rant, mentioning Kant, Rousseau, Descartes, all those impressive names.
However, Lu Zhixin crushed his enthusiasm with a single sentence.
“I’m a Science student,” She said.
“…And why did you apply for English then?” The dispelled Mister Xu held his head and sighed. Despite having known previously that Lu Zhixin had done rather well in her university entrance examinations, he had really not taken note of this.
“I just filled it in randomly. I was intending to go overseas to study then. Also, there are actually quite a few Science students who apply for English,” Lu Zhixin earnestly explained before continuing, “Alright, you don’t have to show off. I know that you did great for Combined Humanities in the university entrance examinations. First in the entire province!”
The two of them finally started smiling a little again.
They continued chatting for a while. Xu Tingsheng was ultimately unable to keep from asking about the Lu Family’s situation in the end. He dared not ask directly about her father’s matter, instead probing, “Your family business hasn’t been doing too well in terms of liquidity recently?”
Lu Zhixin hesitated for a moment before saying, “It’s actually still pretty good. It’s just that my Dad has continually been transferring away too much funds from our Hong Kong business.”
As she halted here, Xu Tingsheng naturally couldn’t very well continue to ask about this as he switched to asking, “Then, is that contract very important?”
Lu Zhixin nodded, “Right. Because of that, I’m sorry, because what I did just now really put you in a spot. I actually really wanted to go with you then, just that I thought that I could quickly get him drunk. I was going to go and look for you after getting the contract signed. But in the end…”
“The wine he drank was fake,” Xu Tingsheng blurted out.
“Huh?” Lu Zhixin asked, “Really? How do you know?”
“Really…I know, because…” Xu Tingsheng hesitated.
“Because what?” Lu Zhixin pressed.
“Because ever since you entered that room, I felt a bit worried…so I asked someone to turn on the surveillance system and help keep an eye on you. Afterwards, I did go over to take a look myself as well. It was just that I still hadn’t discovered that the wine was fake back then, so I wasn’t able to remind you about it,” Xu Tingsheng concluded awkwardly.
The questioning that he had expected from Lu Zhixin never came.
Lu Zhixin did not ask about why there had been a surveillance system in that room or how he had been able to do this. Right now, all she could feel was happiness. Right, this minor matter brought her happiness, because she had been cared about.
Lu Zhixin wanted to convey these feelings to Xu Tingsheng. However, before she could do so, Xu Tingsheng took out the contract from his bag, placing it before her.
“You, you picked it up?” Lu Zhixin said a bit painedly, “It’s actually useless. Ding Sen won’t sign it. I’ll think of a way to explain this to my Dad later on. I don’t want to meet with Ding Sen again.”
“Really?” Xu Tingsheng looked into Lu Zhixin’s eyes.
“Really,” Lu Zhixin did not evade his gaze as he said, “I’ll be wilful for once. Hey, Xu Tingsheng. You know, you’re the first person ever since I was eight to tell me that I’m still just a young girl, that I can be wilful. All I heard the rest of the time was that I’m very sensible, that I need to be very sensible too.”
Xu Tingsheng was silent for a while before he pushed the contract over to her, smiling, “Well, see for yourself.”
A puzzled Lu Zhixin carefully flipped through it before asking astonishedly, “How is it…signed?”
Xu Tingsheng said, “Right.”
Now, he recounted the gist of what had happened to Lu Zhixin before unconsciously frowning, “Now that I think about it, I’m actually still a little worried about having offended that Ding Sen.”
Lu Zhixin responded rather guiltily, “Yeah, the Ding Family…”
“What I’m afraid of has nothing to do with the Ding Family’s power,” Xu Tingsheng explained, “I’m worried because I’ve found that Ding Sen is a fool. If he weren’t a fool, he wouldn’t have acted like this tonight, wouldn’t have been so easy to deal with. Still, I’d rather he wasn’t like this, really. I’d rather everyone slowly compete relying on our own methods.”
“Huh? Why do you say that?”
“Besides being a fool, Ding Sen’s character is lousy too, right? Otherwise, while you didn’t accept him as he’s pursued you these past five years, you still wouldn’t hate him so much. Based on the relationship between your two families, you could even have become friends.”
Lu Zhixin did not reply in a silent admission of his words.
Xu Tingsheng continued, “It’s precisely because of this and his method of handling things today that I fear there’s really no underhanded methods that he may not stoop too. So, you’d best be especially careful over this period. It’s best if you pay attention when going out and returning. Don’t leave the vicinity of the university and our company.”
“Got it,” Lu Zhixin said, “I think that your analysis should be right. You should be careful too.”
To be precise, this was really the first time Xu Tingsheng had a powerful fool as an opponent. Thinking about it, this sort of person was actually much more terrifying than the likes of Zhang Xingke who had brains as well as methods. This was because Xu Tingsheng could afford to play along, could afford to lose. He could afford his finances getting hurt. Still, he could not afford actual people being hurt. This applied to both he himself and those people around him.
The atmosphere grew much more solemn. Lu Zhixin lowered her head and was silent for a time.
Xu Tingsheng comforted her for a while, reciting a few anecdotes to coax her. Seeing that it was ineffective, he could only turn his attention to Dongdong, even though that slutty dog was simply sleeping as it ignored him.
A long time passed.
“Xu Tingsheng,” Lu Zhixin whispered loudly.
“Hmm?” Xu Tingsheng looked up at her.
Xu Tingsheng touched his face, looking disbelievingly at Lu Zhixin.
A flustered Lu Zhixin defended, “This, this is the first time I’m kissing a boy. I don’t know if I did it right.”
Xu Tingsheng smiled, “But, Lu Zhixin, you don’t seem like this kind of person.”
“I…just occasionally,” Lu Zhixin explained, “Sorry, and thank you. Yaming said that you’ve never been as repressed as today before. I put you in a spot. Also, knowing that you’re worried about me, I’m very happy.”
“He didn’t even see me when I was repressed,” Xu Tingsheng smiled wryly.
Actually, he too had drunk quite a bit that night, being a little drunk now.
After bathing, Lu Zhixin returned to her room and did not come out.
After bathing, Xu Tingsheng went to bed. Right when he was about to drift off into slumber, the sound of the doorknob being twisted could be heard. A half-asleep Xu Tingsheng clambered over in the dark to open the door.
“Xu Tingsheng, you, you actually locked the door?” Came the flustered, incredulous voice.
He had guarded against this cold, aloof powerful career woman just as he would a common hooligan? Lu Zhixin felt very angry and distressed, wanting very much to hit him. Biting him would also be fine.
“I…is there something?”
“I made some honey water for my headache. I made a cup for you too.”
Entering the room, Lu Zhixin placed a cup on the table.
Xu Tingsheng finished its contents. Then, turning back, he found that Lu Zhixin had already left.
“She’s probably going to ignore me for a couple of days again,” Xu Tingsheng thought.
He had been a ruffian last time, and he had not been a dirty ruffian this time. How was it that whatever he chose to do was always wrong?
Xu Tingsheng could not but regret it a little. With Lu Zhixin’s mentality of recompensing him that night, that most serious thing aside, everything else was virtually ‘obtainable as desired’. All this had actually already been demonstrated. How would Uncle with the accumulated experience of his previous life not understand this?
Having missed out on this chance, next time…there probably wouldn’t be a next time.
It was around 9am in the morning when Huang Yaming left the hotel with the girl he had gone out with the previous night.
At the entrance of the hotel, a car suddenly screeched to a halt in front of Huang Yaming. Then, two burly masked men got off, repeatedly bringing down the baseball bats in their hands on him.
The girl fled.
Huang Yaming blocked a few blows with his arms before hastily escaping into the hotel lobby.
The car drove off.
From start to end, less than thirty seconds had passed.
Xu Tingsheng had only thought of this when he had been conversing with Lu Zhixin the previous night. He had originally intended to remind Huang Yaming of it after waking up. However, it was already too late.
Upon receiving the call, Xu Tingsheng went to the university and picked Fu Cheng up before rushing over to the hospital. Huang Yaming lay on a sickbed with an arm propped up and his teeth bared in a grimace.
There were three fractures on his arm and several other flesh wounds elsewhere.
There was a light scrape on his leg as well.
“Man, it hurts to death. Lucky that I used my arm to block it, and 5 star hotel security guards are somewhat competent, not allowing them to barge in. Otherwise, I might have been lost there for good today,” Huang Yaming said, clenching his teeth.
Soon, Fang Yuqing arrived as well.
“Do we ask Bro Kun to send people or do we do it ourselves?” Fang Yuqing immediately asked.
“At a time like this, it wouldn’t be very convenient for both us and Bro Kun to it. I’d best make a call and try to get Du Jiang and Wang Xiao to come over for a while,” Xu Tingsheng said.
Du Jiang and Wang Xiao were those two people that Zhong Wusheng had brought over during that park incident back then. They were proficient in Thai Boxing and good at taking as well as dealing hits, having demonstrated this towards the end of that incident.
Xu Tingsheng and Fang Yuqing began discussing how to get their revenge.
There was no way the legal route would work here. Ding Sen had not acted personally, and no incriminating evidence would be left behind for sure. It was probable that the two masked attackers had already left Yanzhou. As for the car, this was still not the era of CCTVs. They could randomly drive it a couple of streets away and hide it in a garage and it would already be very hard to find it then.
Therefore, it could only be an eye for an eye.
In the end, it was the injured Huang Yaming himself who spoke, “No rush. Take it slow.”
The other three all gazed bemusedly at Huang Yaming who was usually the most reckless.
Logically speaking, he should be the one who was the most desirous of swift, sweet revenge.
“Eating a loss, wisdom evolves. If we retaliate now, firstly, they will definitely be prepared for it, and secondly, they will definitely know that it’s us. For things like this, all they’re afraid of is accidentally getting someone killed. Otherwise, there’d probably be no end to all this.”
“He can hide, but we can’t. We’ve still got to go to school and attend lessons. If we fight with him now, we’ll definitely suffer a loss. I will wait, and I’ll remember! I’ll wait for a chance where I can render him directly dead not knowing what hit him,” Huang Yaming even smiled a little now.
This was a rather strange smile. Xu Tingsheng remembered how it had only first appeared in his previous life a year after Huang Yaming had started working. He had been suppressed due to being too reckless. It was after having twice fallen to scheming that this smile had surfaced.
In this life, it had appeared prematurely.
“The problem now is that I’m worried that he won’t stop with just this. For example, he may act against the rest of us too. So, while we can’t actually make a move on him, we still need to find a way to give him a warning. That way, he would think that since he had come out the victor in this exchange anyway, he might as well just stop for the time being,” Huang Yaming continued.
Huang Yaming’s words made a lot of sense. Xu Tingsheng and Fang Yuqing exchanged looks.
Fang Yuqing said, “Let me handle this.”
“What do you intend to do?” Xu Tingsheng asked.
“I’ll ask my cousin to think of a way to have a chat with him,” Fang Yuqing said.
Xu Tingsheng considered this. Fang Yuqing’s cousin was a vice-captain of the Vice Squad. It would indeed be effective if he gave Ding Sen a warning in person.
Soon after Fang Yuqing had left, Tan Yao arrived.
After narrating the story again, tolerating the pain, Huang Yaming continued asking Tan Yao excitedly, “I couldn’t get through to you all morning. Quick, what happened yesterday night?”
Tan Yao hesitated for a bit before sighing slowly and dumping a wad of cash on Huang Yaming’s bed, next complaining mournfully and resentfully, “I was played.”
“Female monarch,” Tan Yao elaborated.
They all broke out into laughter at his miserable state.
“When I woke up in the morning, I was still thinking about whether I should treat her warmly. In the end, she directly dumped a wad of cash on the bed and recorded my handphone number,” Tan Yap said with a pained expression on his face.
Even as he continued wincing in pain, Huang Yaming laughed, “Weren’t you intending to take her down in the first place? She is indeed quite beautiful. Her face, her figure, none of it’s bad. And there’s that mature appeal too. And you even get money that way. What’s there to feel all pained about?”
“You’re right, but…Actually, I do rather like her. She is indeed a very charming woman. The problem is that I want to take her down, not be taken down by her. Playing someone and being played by someone really feel very different. I really can’t bring myself to accept this. I’m a playboy, experienced in love…not a gigolo! I’m a beast, a wolf, not a little white rabbit!”
Tan Yao was howling piteously at the injustice of it all.
“Well, how about you ask her not to pay you next time? Will you feel a bit better that way?” Xu Tingsheng proposed.
Tan Yao shook his head, “It’s useless. I already asked her that when she gave me the money this morning. In the end, she said that she quite likes how I look, that my background is rather more simple as well. She’s only doing this because she’s bored and lonely and wants to pass the time. If she didn’t give me money, more feelings may be prone to entering the relationship. Therefore, she definitely has to give me money.”
“She also asked me to take it as if I’m being upkept by her,” Tan Yao said in a small, awkward voice.
“Heh…” Xu Tingsheng and Huang Yaming laughed at that, ignoring Tan Yao’s resentful face.
“She was joking with you, right?” Fu Cheng who had not said anything earlier asked Tan Yao.
“She wasn’t,” Tan Yao said, “You guys didn’t she how she looked when she was speaking…she was completely expressionless. And her tone, it was completely flat, just cold and neutral. She said to me: Take it as if you’re being upkept by me. Take the money and don’t overthink things. I’m leaving first. I’ll call you next time if it’s convenient. Right, you cannot call me on your own.”
Tan Yao repeated Ye Qing’s words with that expressionless look and flat, neutral tone that he had described.
Xu Tingsheng and Fu Cheng laughed so much they were nearly rolling on the ground. Huang Yaming laughed so much he was crying out in pain from his injuries even as he did so.
“The heck you’re laughing. I tell you, this old man won’t go to see her next time,” Tan Yao said.
While out buying lunch for Huang Yaming in the afternoon, Xu Tingsheng drove over to the hotel where he had been attacked and took a look around. A wedding was unexpectedly currently being held at the hotel where an act of violence had occurred just earlier that morning.
There, Xu Tingsheng saw someone whom he had not expected to see. It was Chen Jianxing, and he was the groom that day.
The bridal sedan and the wedding itself were both very luxurious. As Chen Jianxing who held the bride’s arm spotted Xu Tingsheng’s car from a distance away, he halted momentarily and waved in greeting.
Xu Tingsheng did not respond as he drove off and left.
Chen Jianxing was ultimately not turning back. What about that solitary mother and daughter then? Was he really not going to care about them?
A short distance away, Xu Tingsheng spied a mother and her daughter in a rather remote alley. The mother in her thirties wore plain clothes as she was gentle and beautiful. Her daughter had two braids as she was fair and lovable.
They were watching that wedding from far away.
The little girl was saying, “Mum, look, Dad. It’s Dad.”
The woman clasped the girl’s hand as she was silent.