Volume 1 –
Chapters 1 To 100
Good Food and Beautiful Women
The afternoon was already half-gone when they left Forest Man. Xia Lei did not see Shentu Tian-Yin’s Rolls-Royce Phantom, so he assumed she had left while he was signing the agreement with Shentu Shi-Shan.
He eased his car into traffic and drove towards the city. Liang Si-Yao broke the silence and said with a smile, “We have such good luck today.”
“Yeah, good luck,” said Xia Lei casually.
Liang Si-Yao stared straight at Xia Lei, “I think something’s strange though. Don’t you think it’s weird?”
Xia Lei knew what she was trying to say but he did not want to talk about the story between him and Shentu Tian-Yin. He changed the topic, “Didn’t you want to go to my place to have a meal? Sweet-sour pork ribs, seafood or whatever. Let’s go to the supermarket and get groceries.”
“Oh, I’d have forgotten if you didn’t remind me about it. Quick, quick, go to the supermarket. I’m starving.” Liang Si-Yao’s thoughts were occupied by good food. With her intelligence, she had actually known that there must have been something between the two of them when Shentu Tian-Yin took the initiative to speak to Xia Lei. Curiosity was curiosity but she wasn’t the type of woman who would dig and investigate every detail of such a matter.
Xia Lei stepped on the accelerator and the Great Wall H6 zoomed on the road.
Xia Lei mulled over some things while he drove. He’d paid 5,080,000 to Forest Man and 1,000,000 to the Land Bureau before that and only had about 500,000 in cash and a 1,000,000 yet-to-be-paid order from China Industrial Group. He would have to keep a close watch on how he spent his money from now on. Funding was not so much of a problem for him though; Mayor Hu had said that he could ask him for help if he met any difficulties. If he had problems with funding, he could go to Mayor Hu and ask him to be a guarantor for a loan from the bank. If that wouldn’t work, he could also ask China Industrial Group for an advance payment on their order. Solving the two big problems of procuring land and building his company meant that his dream was 60% fulfilled, more or less. This made him very happy.
Back in the city, Xia Lei bought many ingredients from a nearby supermarket in the neighbourhood and also specially bought a crate of Changyu dry red wine. He then took these ingredients and the greedy-pig Liang Si-Yao back to his neighbourhood.
He parked and Liang Si-Yao and himself carried large bags of groceries to the stairwell. A beautiful figure suddenly walked out from the stairwell.
In her crisp uniform and with her dazzling smile, Jiang Ru-Yi was like a tulip blooming in the greens of the neighbourhood, fresh, elegant and eye-catching.
“Oh, isn’t this our neighbourhood’s Lei?” Jiang Ru-Yi greeted, all smiles, “You’ve bought so many yummy edibles. Is it someone’s birthday today?”
“It isn’t anyone’s birthday. I’ve invited my senior disciple to my home for a meal.” He followed up with an introduction, “Si-Yao, this is Jiang Ru-Yi. Ru-Yi, this is my senior disciple, Liang Si-Yao.”
Liang Si-Yao and Jiang Ru-Yi had already met and Liang Si-Yao had even seen Jiang Ru-Yi’s documentation and knew she was a police chief. She did not have a good impression of Jiang Ru-Yi, however, because she had taken the drunk Xia Lei from her hands that night and told her to take a taxi back in a rude and unreasonable way. She was not about to simply forgive Jiang Ru-Yi for that.
Xia Lei made the introductions but Jiang Ru-Yi and Liang Si-Yao did not greet each other or shake hands. They just looked at each other.
“Do you know each other?” asked Xia Lei awkwardly.
“No,” said Jiang Ru-Yi.
“No,” said Liang Si-Yao.
Xia Lei could not be bothered further with it and carried the groceries into the stairwell. “I’m going to start preparing the food. You girls can chat with each other.”
“I want to go to your place to eat too,” said Jiang Ru-Yi suddenly.
Xia Lei felt a headache coming on and said, “Fine. Go help take the red wine from the boot and bring it up.”
Jiang Ru-Yi went to the car boot and got the crate of Chanyu wine from it, then stuck her chin out at Liang Si-Yao in a challenging manner.
Liang Si-Yao suddenly mimicked Jiang Ru-Yi’s tone, “Oh, isn’t this our Lei? Gross.”
Jiang Ru-Yi did not seem the slightest bit embarrassed, “We are one big family in this neighbourhood and we live in the same building. Is there something wrong with me saying ‘our Lei’? Besides, what does it matter to you what I say?”
“I’m his senior disciple. I’m worried that he’s making bad friends!” said Liang Si-Yao.
“I grew up with him so if you’re talking about making bad friends, I’d worry about him making bad friends now!” said Jiang Ru-Yi.
The two women were very opposed to each other, with neither side prepared to give an inch.
At that moment, Xia Lei stuck his head over the second floor balcony, “Can you girls come up and finish your chat? I want to start cooking soon. I can’t cook without my ingredients, can I?”
Liang Si-Yao and Jiang Ru-Yi headed up.
The two women went upstairs, through Xia Lei’s door and were soon at loggerheads again.
“Lei, let me help you. Many women don’t even know how to wash and clean vegetables these days. These women are the worms of society,” said Jiang Ru-Yi.
Liang Si-Yao looked around the messy living room and said, “Lei, your flat is a mess. I’ll help you clean up. Some woman said she could cook very well but still came over to eat and drink from others. This sort of woman is the real worm of society, isn’t she?”
Xia Lei’s head drooped weakly…
Xia Lei cooked the rice and fried the dishes. The woman who’d said she’d help him worked for only five minutes before she lay on the sofa and started watching television. The woman helping him clean up also sat on the sofa at around the same time and started watching the same programme, laughing once in a while. He suddenly felt like women were all unreliable and it was still better to rely on men.
Xia Lei laid out a feast on the table after slaving for an hour. Sweet-sour pork ribs, fish and eggplants, spicy prawns, steamed scallops and so on. Every dish looked good and was fragrant, and one could tell that they were delicious just looking at them.
Xia Lei’s proficiency at cooking was actually forced upon him. His mother had passed away early and his father had disappeared mysteriously, leaving him to take care of his sister’s dietary needs. He had to learn even if he didn’t want to. However, his culinary skills had improved after his left eye had transformed. His left eye could detect the smallest changes in the food so he could cook them while maintaining the highest degree of freshness. When adding flavouring, his left eye could also let him judge the best ratio to add so his amounts were always just nice while other chefs had to rely on experience. They had no way of doing it like he did.
Xia Lei smiled, pleased with himself at the sight of the spread and thought ‘I should read some books on cuisine when I have time. With my current set of abilities I’d be able to reach the highest level of cookery even if I changed my profession to chef now, wouldn’t I?’
Jiang Ru-Yi and Liang Si-Yao were drawn to the table by the aroma of good food without Xia Lei having to call them over.
“Wow, what a spread!” Jiang Ru-Yi gulped back her drool.
Liang Si-Yao’s eyes were also shining with joy, “I really didn’t expect that you’d be so good at cooking. Looks like I’ll be a regular guest in the future.”
“What thick skin,” muttered Jiang Ru-Yi.
Xia Lei opened a bottle of red wine. He hadn’t thought of buying long-stemmed glasses so he poured wine into three bowls; one for Jiang Ru-Yi, one for Liang Si-Yao and one for himself. Embarrassed, he said, “I forgot to buy glasses. Let’s use bowls.”
Liang Si-Yao laughed, “It’s fine, drinking from bowls is more enjoyable.”
Jiang Ru-Yi had already helped herself and put a spicy prawn into her mouth. After stuffing her face, she gave Xia Lei a thumbs up, “Delicious, delicious. More tasty than what I had at the seafood restaurant. Cook me another portion when I’m going back. I’ll bring it home to eat.”
Xia Lei was speechless.
The food shut the two women up for a bit and looking at them happily eat the food he had prepared made Xia Lei feel like he really should learn some cooking techniques. The dishes he could cook were still the same dishes he knew and he had not read up on any sort of techniques at all. With his current abilities, it was probable that he would attain a high level of cookery and accreditation if he went seriously at it – who knew and who could say how high he would go? Furthermore, no chef in this world could see the changes within the ingredients as he cooked them and nobody else could see the fusion of seasoning and food but he could do both of these.
After they were done eating, Jiang Ru-Yi and Liang Si-Yao went to watch television, full and satisfied. They didn’t even put away the dishes.
Xia Lei smiled wryly and shook his head, then took the dishes to the kitchen.
Just when he was done washing the dishes, Xia Lei’s mobile phone suddenly rang. He took it out and glanced at the screen – it was Qin Xiang.
‘Why is he calling me at this time?’ Xia Lei found it strange but he still unlocked his phone and answered the call.
“Lei, something’s happened.” Qin Xiang’s voice was very anxious and carried a tinge of panic.
Xia Lei’s heart sank, “Don’t panic. What happened? Tell me.”
“My shop… is on fire.” Qin Xiang’s voice was pained, “I think Huang Yi-Hu must know that I’m in contact with you and he’s taking revenge on me. He… If he gives what he has on me to the police… I’m finished!”
“Where are you now?”
“Where else can I be?” Qin Xiang laughed bitterly, “I’m outside my salon right now watching it burn with my own two eyes.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll be right there. Let’s talk when we meet,” said Xia Lei.
“Okay, I’ll wait for you.” Qin Xiang hung up.
Xia Lei walked out of the kitchen, “My friend ran into some trouble. I’m going to see if I can help.”
“What trouble? Do you want me to go with you?” said Liang Si-Yao.
“Need my help?” Jiang Ru-Yi also asked.
“No need, it’s just a small matter. Make yourselves comfortable. I’ll be leaving first.” Xia Lei did not say much more and hurried out the door.
The burning of Qin Xiang’s salon was 80-90% the handiwork of Huang Yi-Hu. If he had not gone to look for Qin Xiang back then and asked him to go against Huang Yi-Hu, Qin Xiang’s salon would not have been set afire. It was because of this that Xia Lei felt guilty. Even if there weren’t such a thing, Xia Lei would still not hesitate to go to Qin Xiang’s aid if he were in trouble since he was not the sort of person who would abandon his benefactor after achieving his goal.
Jiang Ru-Yi and Liang Si-Yao stood on the second floor balcony and watched Xia Lei drive the Great Wall H6 out of the neighbourhood, then looked at each other eye to eye.
“What’s got him so worked up?” said Jiang Ru-Yi.
“I don’t know but you don’t have to worry. My dad’s Last Disciple is very strong,” said Liang Si-Yao.
“Pfft. You really think you’re a martial arts heroine, or what?”
“Was I talking to you?”
Jiang Ru-Yi was speechless.
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