December in Shanghai was frigidly cold, but Qin Sheng had gotten used to it since he had lived in Shanghai for a number of years. However, winter had always given people the feeling of loneliness. The pedestrians walking along the streets were wrapped up in thick feather coats. Compared to summer, winter was a season this man hated most.
One week had passed since Qin Sheng returned from Nanjing. Everyone was busy with work these days. Chang Baji would leave the house early and return from work late in the night. Sometime, Qin Sheng would come home alone. He was almost fully recovered so he started going to the gym to work out. He would also visit the bookshop every two to three days to pick up some interesting books to read. Coincidentally, he spotted other second books from the same owner of “The Gain and Loss in History of Chinese Politics”, which he read earlier on. Another book that belonged to the same owner would be one which talked about the Red Top Merchants. He was curious about the previous owner of these books because of his unique understanding and thoughts which he jolted down in the books. Qin Sheng secretly admired him for his wisdom.
One afternoon, Qin Sheng was serving some fruits in the second-floor room when Brother Lyu told him that Ms. Cheongsam had arrived and waiting was waiting for Qin Sheng in one of the rooms. Brother Lyu had Song Siyu to swap duties with Qin Sheng so Qin Sheng could go to meet Ms. Cheongsam.
Yu Fengzhi was outside the door of the room and was not surprised when she saw Qin Sheng. Ms. Xue had requested for Qin Sheng’s service recently. Today, however, there was another important guest apart from Ms. Xue, which was why Ms. An had also arranged for Yu Fengzhi to be there.
In a jealous tone, Yu Fengzhi said to Qin Sheng, “What is the relationship between you and Ms. Xue? Was Ms. Xue the one who recommended you work in Shangshan Ruoshui?”
“Why are you so interest in this?” Qin Sheng asked.
Yu Fengzhi snorted and said, “You don’t need to answer me if you don’t wish to.”
Qin Sheng could not be bothered with her. He always had the impression that Ms. An was a sophisticated woman. He had the feeling that she was being nice to him recently for a motive.
When he entered the room, he realized that apart from Ms. Cheongsam, there was an old man with gray hair in there. The old man was wearing a friendly smile
“How may I help you, Ms. Xue and Mr. He?” Qin Sheng asked politely. Qin Sheng would definitely not be so courteous if Xue Qingyan was the only one present in the room.
Xue Qingyan had not seen such a polite Qin Sheng in a good while and she found it so funny that she burst out laughing. Qin Sheng, who had rarely seen Xue Qingyan laughing heartily, looked totally confused. He had informed Xue Qingyan of his return from Nanjing, but she was away in Hangzhou the past few days. She had just come back to Shanghai today and here she was in Shangshan Ruoshui.
“You are so adorable today, Qin Sheng,” Xue Qingyan said. There must be a special relationship between a woman and a man if the woman commented that the man was adorable.
“What’s the matter, Ms. Xue?” Qin Sheng said, confused.
“Uncle Liu, don’t you think this little brother of mine is slow-witted?” Xue Qingyan said to the old man while ignoring Qin Sheng.
The gray-haired old man kept looking at Qin Sheng with a smile. Before Qin Sheng entered the room, Xue Qingyan had told the old man that she had a younger brother who was working there.
“Qin Sheng, Qingyan and I are old friends, and since there are no other people here, you can be at ease,” the old man chuckled.
Xue Qingyan added, “Just do as Uncle Liu said. There’re no other people here, you can just call me big sister.”
Qin Sheng finally understood why Xue Qingyan had laughed when he treated them formalities. “Do excuse me for my stupidity, Uncle Liu,” said Qin Sheng.
“Take a seat first, Qin Sheng. Don’t just stand there to talk,” the old man gestured for Qin Sheng to sit facing Xue Qingyan.
Xue Qingyan casually asked, “How are you recuperating?”
“It’s been a while, I’m alright now,” Qin Sheng replied with a smile.
“Really?” Xue Qingyan teased, and continued, “How about you show us the eighteen Luohan Fists.”
Looking lost, Qin Sheng asked, “Are you sure, big sister?”
“I’m just teasing you. What happened to you today? You’re usually so quick-witted!” Xue Qingy covered her mouth to smother a laugh. She was starting to feel that Qin Sheng was such an interesting character.
The old man continued, “Qin Sheng, Qingyan told me you even know some martial arts.”
“Just a little. It’s really for self-defense and nothing to be proud of,” Qin Sheng said modestly.
The old man initiated an offer to Qin Sheng saying, “If you’re interested in martial arts, I can introduce a 70-year-old master living in Tianmu Mountains in Hangzhou. He was an excellent martial artist in his time and had nurtured many talents. If you have a chance to go to Hangzhou, I can set up a meeting for you to meet. If he thinks you have the potential, you can learn some skills from him.”
“Thank you, Uncle Liu. If the opportunity arises, I will visit you in Hangzhou,” Qin Sheng replied. The reason Ms. Cheongsam introduced Qin Sheng as her little brother was apparently to promote him to Uncle Liu. Qin Sheng could sense that Ms. Cheongsam had started to look highly on him after the incident in Nanjing.
Xue Qingyan deliberately asked, “You’ve been in Shangshan Ruoshui for two months now, Qin Sheng, how do you feel about this place?”
“It’s not bad. I’ve picked up many new things here,” Qin Sheng replied with a smile.
“I had a chat with Old Xu about you just now. He commented that you were attentive and hardworking on your job. In addition, An. Qing almost praised you for your good attitude. I know for a fact that the reception department is currently looking to appoint another deputy manager. What do you think?” Xue Qingyan said, smiling. She had actually said a half-truth. This was definitely not Xu Langcheng’s idea, but hers. She was the one to raise this idea to Xu Lancheng, who said he needed to consult Jiang Xianbang for his opinion. However, to Xue Qingyan, there was no way Jiang Xianbang would say ‘no’ to this.
Qin Sheng was surprised to hear this and he responded by saying, “Big Sister, I haven’t been in Shangshan Ruoshui for long. I’m afraid I won’t do a good job being a deputy manager. Moreover, there are may more others within the reception department, who are more capable.”
“It’s only right for a man to keep on improving himself and upgrading himself unless you are thinking of staying put for the rest of your life. You should take up different roles gradually so you can pick up new things and move on to another place,” Xue Qingyan offered her kind advice to Qin Sheng, wishing to point him towards a brighter future.
Qin Sheng pondered for a while.
The old man played along and said, “What Qingyan said was right. Shangshan Ruoshui is indeed a good training ground, but you can’t stay here forever. Don’t think too much, lest you worry. I personally feel that you’re capable of that role. I’ll speak to Xu Lancheng later.”
Qin Sheng thought maybe he should really give it a try after both Xue Qingyan and the old man tried to persuade him. As he reflected, he remembered that Jiang Xianbang had wanted him to join Shangshan Ruoshui for the purpose of training him too. He was just worried that the others in the department would not be happy, especially Brother Lyu, who had been here the longest. Not that, Qin Sheng had been his understudy and the two had already built a good relationship.
“Alright, Big Sister, I’ll listen to you，“ Qin Sheng said, nodding.
“That’s more like it,” Xue Qingyan replied, smiling. She had plans to nurture Qin Sheng to be someone great. Xue Qingyan felt that with Qin Sheng’s capability, it was a waste for him to remain in Shangshan Ruoshui. She would have arranged for Qin Sheng to hold an even higher position if Qin Sheng was not feeling so uncomfortable about the arrangements.
After chatting with Xue Qingyan and Uncle Liu for over an hour, it was time for them to leave to go to attend a banquet. Qin Sheng walked them out and before they left, Xue Qingyan reminded Qin Sheng of their agreement to tutor Xue Hao, given that it was weekend the next day. The relationship between the two was growing more intimate. In fact, Xue Hao just messaged the night before to inquire about some pornographic sites and was berated by Qin Sheng.
Chang Baji was on morning shift this whole week, and he was nowhere to be found. On the other hand, Qin Sheng did not go home directly after work but had gone to Jiang Xianbang’s villa at Zhunhai Middle Road. It was Jiang Xianbang’s birthday today.
Jiang Xianbang had no plans to go out with his friends. He had planned to spend a simple night at home. He did not invite other friends other than Qing’er and Qin Sheng. Qing’er had personally prepared the food and Qin Sheng was just lucky to be invited.
Qin Sheng had no idea what to get for Jiang Xianbang as a birthday present because he seemed to be lacking in nothing. Fortunately, Jiang Xianbang had told him not to get him a present but just bring a companion. “I was wracking my brain as to what I should get for you. Since you said not to get you a present, great for me!” Qin Sheng said, laughing, and Jiang Xianbang chided him for being so tactless.
When Qin Sheng arrived at the villa, Jiang Xianbang was drinking tea and watching television in his living room. Although Qin Sheng had expressed that he would not be getting any birthday present for Jiang Xianbang, he could not possibly come empty-handed, so he bought some fruits along the way to give to Jiang Xianbang.
“Looks like you’re living a really relaxed life,” Qin Sheng joked, as he handed the fruits to the steward of the house.
“It’s a rare opportunity to have my children serve me, so I can relax and enjoy myself,” Jiang Xianbang played along.
“You’re taking advantage of me by making that statement! Be careful, lest my grandfather comes to you tonight in your dreams to have a word with you,” Qin Sheng said. He knew Jiang Xianbang was referring to Qing’er as his daughter. As for him, he was not going to let Jiang Xianbang call him his son.
Jiang Xianbang burst out laughing and said, “Don’t, I’m truly afraid of your grandfather.”
“Xu Lancheng called me to tell me that Xue Qingyan wished that you can become the deputy manager directly. He wanted to hear my opinion on this,” Jiang Xianbang said, when Qin Sheng was about to sneak into the kitchen to check on beautiful Qing’er, to see if she could cope with the meal preparation. He even thought of a contingency to order food delivery if she could not churn out a meal.
Qin Sheng stopped in his track and asked, “What do you think?”
“Of course I agree. I’m agreeable even to you becoming the general manager. What big deal is it to be the deputy manager of the reception department? Xu Lancheng didn’t have to consult me for such a small matter, sigh!” Jiang Xianbang said, cursing under his breath.
Qin Sheng figured it was a good idea after all, so he stopped refusing Xue Qingyan’s recommendation and said, “So be it, who wouldn’t want to become a manager?”
“I’m just worried that you have too many considerations. It’s good that you’ve agreed to take up the position. In fact, I would eventually make you Shangshan Ruoshui’s manager one day. As for Xu Lancheng, I will transfer him to my other company,” Jiang Xianbang said, half-jokingly. However, it was a fact that Xu Lancheng did not need the position of the general manager anymore. On the other hand, the position of the general manager would be very helpful to Qin Sheng. For example, Qin Sheng had quickly gained Xue Qingyan’s trust after working in Shangshang Ruoshui for barely two months, so much so that she recommended to Xu Lancheng to promote him.
“How did you get acquainted with Xue Qingyan? She’s not a simple lady!” Jiang Xianbang asked.
Qin Sheng had long wanted to inquire about her background so he glad that Jiang Xianbang was the first to raise this topic. “I was just about you! What exactly is her background like?” Qin Sheng questioned.