Xia Lei thought the meeting would take place at the Vientaine Group’s Angel Wings Building but Fu Mingmei drove out of the city and to the Jingdu International Golf Course on the northern banks of the Ming Tombs Reservoir.
This was the best golf course in Jingdu and it spanned 3,600 miao, had 18 holes and 72 pars. The most important feature of this course was the beautiful scenery. It was a place that the rich, famous and celebrities of Jingdu liked to come to, and having a VIP member card to Jingdu International Golf Course was a sort of status. Xia Lei had heard of this place but had never come here before.
“You know what?” said Fu Mingmei from a golf cart, “Tianyin booked this place out for you to have that meeting with that person.”
“She booked this entire place?” Xia Lei was stunned. “How much did that cost?”
Fu Mingmei gave him a wicked smile. “You think money means anything to her?”
Xia Lei smiled wryly. He felt like he had asked a stupid question. Shentu Tianyin had gained the assistance of Gu Kewen’s help after the collapse of the Gu clan and amassed capital rapidly. Her net worth now was probably close to quite some billions - would she care about the money needed to book the entire golf course?
From another perspective, the person who wanted to meet him to talk business had already displayed his power even before they met. Add this to what had happened before and it wasn’t very difficult to guess the identity of this person.
‘Could it be that Ye Kun from Hanwu Weapons?’ thought Xia Lei.
Fu Mingmei glanced at Xia Lei and hesitated, but still opened her mouth to say, “Xia Lei, there’s something I’m not sure if I should say.”
Xia Lei stopped his musings and gave her a faint smile. “You and I are sort of old friends so just say what you want to say. Would I get angry at you for saying just one thing?”
“Okay, then I’ll say it,” said Fu Mingmei. “You should be together with Tianyin. She needs someone like you to help her. If you two get together you’ll be the most perfect, most amazong couple. You can gain even more in Vientaine Group - why slave away at your small comapny? Vientaine Group is the stage upon which you can spread your wings. Tianyin is strong but she is a woman still. If you two get married and build a family, and she gives birth to your son, then won’t Vientaine Group go to your son?”
Xia Lei just listened to her and maintained the fait smile on his face.
“I don’t get it. Gu Kewu could see this, and Ahn Suhyeong too but why can’t you? Are you actually not attracted to the great dowry which is Vientaine Group? Say something - what are you smiling at?” said Fu Mingmei.
Xia Lei chuckled. “First, I’d like to thank you for your kind intentions. I know you’re saying it for my own good but I am not Gu Kewu or Ahn Suhyeong. I grew up in a normal neighbourhood, went to a public primary school, high school; I also worked on construction sites. I know it’s tough to do business so I really appreciate all that I have now. My company is like my child - I will never abandon it. One more thing - and the most important - I, Xia Lei, will never live my life in the shadow of a woman.”
His assets now was just a tiny fraction of what Shentu Tianyin had but he had earned it all himself with his own efforts; it was his. Sure, Vientaine Group was worth close to a hundred billion but it belonged to Shentu Tianyin, to the Shentu clan. What did it matter if he went to them? He was never the type of man who would live off a woman!
Fu Mingmei sighed and stopped talking.
The golf cart stopped on a patch of green.
Xia Lei saw the few people standing on the green. Shentu Tianyin, Ahn Suhyeong, Mu Jianfeng and a middle-aged man he didn’t recognise. A caddy stood next to these four people; a hulking man from the West.
Xia Lei’s gaze went to the man smiling and chatting with Mu Jianfeng, thinking, ‘This guy looks to be on close terms with Mu Jianfeng. Is he Ye Kun from Hanwu Weapons?”
Shentu Tianyin waved at Xia Lei. “Lei, over here.”
Xia Lei walked over.
Ahn Suhyeong looked at Xia Lei and his face darkened. There was no way he was going to forget the humiliation he had suffered because of him, and the price his father had paid to extract him from the sticky situation he was in. He wanted nothing more than to use a gun and shoot Xia Lei in the face when he saw the confident, smiling Xia Lei walking over.
The Western caddie standing to one side looked at Xia Lei too; his gaze was scrutinising.
Mu Jianfeng and the middle-aged man with him also looked at Xia Lei. Mu Jianfeng lowered his voice and said something to the middle-aged man next to him.
Xia Lei took note of all their reactions. He had some guesses but he kept a smile on his face. “Tianyin, so it’s Elder Mu who wants to talk business with me. Really, you could have just called me in advance. Elder Mu and I go way back. There’s no need for this mysteriousness, is there?”
Shentu Tianyin gave a laugh. “I did want to tell you but Elder Mu didn’t let me.”
Mu Jianfeng chuckled. “I have my reasons.”
“Hello, Elder Mu.” Xia Lei held out both hands to shake with Mu Jianfeng as he said politely, “Long time no see. You get younger with age, Elder Mu.”
Mu Jianfeng laughed. “Still as glib with the tongue, eh Boy? I could already tell back then when you were still running a small machine shop in Haizhu that you’re not one to be content in a small pond and that you would rise up in the world sooner or later. And look - it has just been a little over a year, and your growth has made even an old man like me see you with different eyes.”
“Thank you for the high praise, Elder Mu,” said Xia Lei politely.
“Lei, come, I’ll introduce you. This is Ye Kun, my pupil,” said Mu Jianfeng.
“Oh, hello, Mr Ye.” Xia Lei held out both hands and shook with Ye Kun.
Ke Yun had a smile on his face. “I’d heard that a genius had arrived in Jingdu. You are indeed an extraordinary person now that I’ve seen you today. Well met, well met.”
Xia Lei had a smile on his face too but he was scolding him inside. “Well met, my ass!”
Ahn Suhyeong walked over with a nice smile on his face. “Do you play golf, Mr Xia? If you do, why don’t we play one round?”
How would someone who toiled on construction sites know how to play an aristocratic sport such as golf? He was clearly trying to make Xia Lei look bad.
Xia Lei looked at Ahn Suhyeong and pretended to be surprised. “Oh my, isn’t this Mr Ahn? You’ve been released? When did you get out? Why didn’t you let me know? I could have gone to fetch you.”
Ahn Suhyeong’s smile froze on his face.
“Pfft…” Fu Mingmei couldn’t hold her laughter back.
Shentu Tianyin shot Fu Mingmei a glare and she put her hand over her mouth.
“How about we have a spot to drink? It’ll be more pleasant to talk business too,” said Shentu Tianyin.
She knew that Xia Lei had never played golf before and she didn’t want him to look bad.
“No, it makes no difference where we talk.” The one who had spoken was Ye Kun. “Isn’t it even better to talk business while we play golf?”
“Then… All right.” Shentu Tianyin agreed. She could not offend either Mu Jianfeng or Ye Kun.
Vientaine Group had startling monetary power but Mu Jianfeng and Ye Kun were leaders of two national brands and represented a power. She was richer than them both and had a higher standing in that regard but other than money she had nothing to compare to them with. The poor couldn’t be compared to the rich and the rich couldn’t be compared to officials; she knew the meaning of this expression deeply.
Ahn Suhyeong smiled. He waved at the caddy and said, “Bring a club. Mr Xia doesn’t have one.”
The caddy came running over to hand Xia Lei a golf club.
Xia Lei took the club and waved it about casually, as if testing the feel of it in his hand.
Mu Jianfeng pulled Ye Kun to one side and said in a low voice, “What are you doing? You want to talk business with him, not annoy him.”
Ye Kun lowered his voice too. “Teacher, this Xia Lei is young and hot-blooded. If we talk business directly with him he will most probably try to take the lion’s share. I’ll first set him up, then talk to him and we’ll be doing half the work for twice the effect.”
Mu Jiangfeng gave a laugh. “Ah, you. You always come up with unexpected things.”
“Didn’t you teach me this, Teacher?” Ye Kun said with a smirk. “You could buy the intelligent lathe from Xia Lei, Teacher, so why can’t I buy the military factory from him? He is a gold mine for us to mine.”
The conversation between the teacher and pupil was as quiet as church mice but they could not hide it from the lip-reading Xia Lei.
Xia Lei couldn’t help the faint smile which appeared in the corners of his mouth. ‘So they do have designs on my military factory. And they want to frustrate me before talking to me to stop me from asking for a lot. Their arrogance should not go beyond this extent.’
Just then, Ahn Suhyeong hit the golf ball and it flew from the its tee to arc in the air, then fall to the grass and bounce towards a hole. It was just two steps away from the hole when it stopped.
Ahn Suhyeong walked over, took aim, then swung his club gently. The golf ball rolled over the grass and went into the hole.
Ye Kun clapped for Ahn Suhyeong and said in praise, “Mr Ahn is skilled indeed. Your style is similar to mine, and we are about the same level too.”
The caddy ran over to get the ball.
Shentu Tianyin drew close to Xia Lei’s ear and said softly, “I’ll give you a brief summary of the rules of this sport. There’s 18 holes in golf, and the person who gets the ball in the hole in the least number of moves wins.”
Xia Lei gave a laugh. “That simple?”
Shentu Tianyin leaned on him, just a bit. “You’ve never played before, so knowing the rules is enough. It’s not shameful if you lose either.”
Losing was nothing big but he would be made fun of if he didn’t know the rules.
Ahn Suhyeong walked towards Xia Lei and Shentu Tianyin with a mocking smile in the corners of his mouth. “Are you trying to learn golf techniques at the last minute, Mr Xia? It’s fine - I’ll give you a handicap of ten.”
Shentu Tianyin was about to say something but Xia Lei leaned on her and said, “So confident? A handicap of ten?”
Ahn Suhyeong was dismissive. “I think the handicap I’m giving you is already an overestimation of your skill but I need to give you a larger handicap or there wouldn’t be any point in the game.”
Ye Kun interrupted to say, “I’ll join in one game too, but I don’t need Mr Ahn to give me a handicap.”
Ahn Suhyeong was polite. “I’m just glad that Mr Ye is not giving me a handicap. How can I give you one?”
Ye Kun looked at Xia Lei. “Do you dare take up the challenge, Mr Xia?”
“Why would I need to ‘dare’ to do it? It’s no big deal. But since it’s a competition there should be a reward, right? How about we put up 10,000,000 each to put into a pot. Winner takes all. How about that?”
Ahn Suhyeong and Ye Kun exchanged glances and smiled.
Shentu Tianyin wrinkled her brows. She wanted to caution Xia Lei to take his words back but he looked fairly confident and self-assured. She sighed to herself. ‘Forget it. It’s good to let him eat humble pie too. He’s always so willful and that’s not good.’
Just then, Mu Jianfeng spoke up. “All right, I’ll be your referee.”