The Heart of a Smith
匠心 by 毛厚
Jiàng Xīn by Máo hòu
Genre: Modern, BL, Fluff, Drama, HE, Younger seme, Business setting
Novel status in original country: Finished, 57 chapters + 3 Extra Chapters
Lu Shang picked up a dirty teenager while discussing work at a bar. It was merely happenstance, but memories from ten years ago resurfaced when he saw the gunshot scars on the teenager’s back.
Lu Shang asked him, “What is your name?”
“Xiao Li… My surname is Li, so they all called me Xiao Li.”
“You don’t have a name?”
“I don’t remember.”
Lu Shang said, “Then I will call you Li Sui. From now on, you will be with me.”
From that day onwards, a young “lover” was always by Lu Shang’s side.
Years later, Dr. Leung teased Lu Shang, “You didn’t get his heart, instead your heart caved in; boss Lu, that doesn’t seem like a bargain.”
Chapter 1: First Encounter
Translated by Shiya of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
A SUV drove through the city streets at a steady speed. Lu Shang was distracted by the gasps from the person sitting next to him, he turned his head away from the night view of the city.
Beside his seat was a person, curling his blood-stained body, hyperventilating with his fists clenched, his expression showed he was in immense pain.
Lu Shang noticed something and extended his arm to touch the boy’s forehead, but his hand was pushed away by the boy roughly.
“Don’t touch.” It was a very young voice. The one beside him was a teenager.
Uncle Yuen in the driver seat turned his head slightly, “Lu Lao Ban (i)?”
T/N: (i) Lu Lao Ban is referring to Lu Shang, Lao Ban means boss. I don’t want to call him Boss Lu, because it sounds a bit weird and “boss” doesn’t really suit his personality much in English.
“It’s fine.” Lu Shang retracted his hand with the same expression as before.
As if he was holding something back in, the teenager sat far away from Lu Shang, clinging to the vehicle door, and curling up even tighter than before. The streetlights outside went passed them quickly. Lights shone on a few strands of the boy’s hair while his face was hidden. Lu Shang wasn’t sure where the boy was hurt, but a fair amount of blood soaked into the seats and a thick smell of blood filled the air inside the vehicle.
“Where are you hurt?” Lu Shang stared at him and asked.
The only reply he received was the teenager’s increasingly erratic breaths, as if a beast was hidden in his body, ready to burst out at any given moment.
“Are we going to bring him home? Like this?” Uncle Yuen asked from the front.
Lu Shang turned his head to Uncle Yuen, he was in deep thought, balancing the scales in his mind.
At that moment, the vehicle went onto a bridge, turning abruptly, all of them tilted to the right, the boy didn’t fasten his seat belt and fell over. Provoked by the sudden smell of Lu Shang, the boy opened his mouth and bit Lu Shang’s arm.
“What’s wrong?” Uncle Yuen turned his head back.
“Nothing.” Lu Shang didn’t even lift his head up and continued, “Keep your eyes on the road.”
Maybe it was because he was tired, but he didn’t feel much strength in the bite, nor did it hurt much. Except perhaps for the first bite, Lu Shang had a feeling that this boy here didn’t really want to hurt anyone. Frowning slightly, he raised his idle hand to the boy’s forehead. Lu Shang’s hand was cold, the boy seemed to have been woken up by it. He suddenly released his teeth and returned to the side in a hurry, curling up his body once again and muttering.
It seemed like he was poisoned. Lu Shang’s expression turned grave, holding his injured arm, he arched forward and instructed Uncle Yuen, “Go to the hospital.”
Two hours ago, at the bar, Nan Cheng.
The temperature dropped another two degrees. Sun Mao took a peek at his wristwatch, shifting uncomfortably on the sofa.
“A twenty million yuan loan?”
“Yes.” Sun Mao quickly nodded his head.
“Well, I guess that’s not impossible, but an incident suddenly came to mind.” The person talking was a youngster called Li Yan, barely over twenty years old. He had slicked back hair and was sitting on the armrest of the sofa, laughing with a cigarette in his mouth.
Sun Mao’s complexion changed; he had a feeling what Li Yan was about to say might be a little ugly. As expected, Li Yan breathed out a puff of smoke, beginning to recount their old confrontations, “Back in the day, my dad didn’t have enough money to start his business. At the time, you were the bank’s head, right? What did you say to my dad again? Ah, yes, ‘Even if God himself came to beg me, I still won’t loan you any money.’ Tch, Mr. Sun, why would you come ask me for a loan? You also know my dad is not a fair-tempered person, you are making this very hard for me.”
Sun Mao, who was almost fifty years old, was like a primary school kid, listening to his teacher preach in fear. His eyes were on the ground, making a forced smile, “That was just a misunderstanding…”
Li Yan smiled and cut into Sun Mao’s sentence, “But I guess what’s in the past, stays in the past. You know, my dad might be harsh with his words, but he actually has a soft heart. See, he knew of your plights and immediately sent me here to help you.”
The expression on Sun Mao’s face was complicated, he barely managed to reply after a few moments of thinking, “No, it’s because boss Li is such an understanding person.”
“Well, of course.” Li Yan accepted his compliments with zero qualms, “However, we are still merchants. We have to consider the profits, unlike you who inherited everything from your parents. I can very well loan you the money, but what is it that you can do for us? If, unfortunately, you gave your lender our money and he still doesn’t extend your loan period, then it would be a huge waste.”
“I have two flats, also a plot of land, if boss Li is uncertain, I can pawn those lands to you.”
Li Yan waved his hand, “I’m not even going to talk about how much that stuff would be worth, but according to my sources, you have already applied for the Other’s Rights Certificate (ii) for those two flats you speak of, right? I don’t need those intangible things, I will only take things that I can immediately exchange to money.”
T/N: (ii) Other’s Rights Certificate: One can apply for them in China for the flats they own, once applied it will limit other’s rights to the flats, that includes pawning. Basically, when it’s there, pawning can’t legally happen.
Sun Mao opened his mouth, but no words came out. He had been working his ass off for decades now, getting to the position he was in now was anything but easy. If he didn’t just happen to lose his way and gambled all the money away, he would never have to bow his head to this kid.
“Lu Lao Ban, what do you think?” Breaking the silence, Li Yan turned his attention to the man sitting in the corner.
Following Li Yan’s gaze, Sun Mao turned his head to a young man sitting at the bar, who was wearing a huge black coat. He was slim and tall, propping his head up with his hand, and staring at the cup of alcohol in front of him.
Coincidentally, someone carried in a pot of tea, and Li Yan said, “Lu Lao Ban doesn’t drink alcohol, give him a cup of tea.”
A waiter swiftly took the glass of alcohol away and filled a cup with Pu Er tea (iii), “Sorry for the inconveniences.”
T/N: (iii) Pu Er is a kind of Chinese tea, it’s extremely dark in color, as in almost pitch black, it tastes less “flowery”, and in my opinion old people tend to like it more.
Lu Shang nodded his head slightly. This person was just too quiet. He had never spoken a word from beginning to end. If Li Yan didn’t mention him, Sun Mao wouldn’t even remember someone like that was in the private room with them.
“You have heard of the news of Lu Lao Ban investing in a few universities’ building projects, right? In the aspect of financial strength, they are definitely comparable to us, the Li family.” Li Yan smiled as he hinted.
Sun Mao immediately understood what Li Yan meant, he turned his gaze to Lu Shang, “Are you saying that…”
“I have a lot of dealings with Lu boss, if he were to be your underwriter, then I’m okay with loaning you money.” Li Yan said.
Sun Mao was familiar with the name Lu Shang, he became the director of Tong Yan at such a young age. One could see how much potential he had from that alone. It was also common knowledge that he was a modest person, living in quiet neighborhoods and never showing off when he had to go out. He also seldom got involved with such dirty things, but for some reason he was here today. Sun Mao felt that everything had completely gone out of his control. He was playing right into Li Yan’s hands, but at the same time, he couldn’t come up with a better solution.
“The plot of land I have in the countryside might not be worth much now, but once the bridge is finished, the price will surely inflate. If Lu Lao Ban wants it, I can pawn it to you.” Sun Mao said.
Lu Shang rotated his head slightly to look at Sun Mao, without asking anything about the land, he said blandly, “I can consider that.”
Sun Mao already prepared a lengthy speech to persuade him, but he never would have thought that Lu Shang didn’t even want to hear it. Sun Mao spaced out from the shock.
Li Yan, however, was glad, “I have no more uncertainties with Lu Lao Ban’s words.” After that he called for a person to prepare the contract, that person delivered the paperwork shortly.
The heavy burden on Sun Mao’s head for almost a month, finally had some progress, he should naturally be happy, but he did not feel relieved. Instead, he felt anxious, extremely anxious, so much so that he found it difficult to breathe.
Sun Mao had seen a lot of proud rich kids like Li Yan. He needed the money, but he wasn’t scared by Li Yan. This person here, however, was different. He had yet to show his hand… He had zero ties with Lu Shang, so he just couldn’t grasp why he would agree to this. Sun Mao peeked at Lu Shang only to see him standing up and picking up the contract. He felt guilty, no matter if he could pay the money back or not, he was indebted to Lu Shang.
“I know you are in a bind, so I won’t charge you the interests, but there is a little thing that I want your help with.” Li Yan stared straight at Sun Mao and said with a low voice, “I have some merchandise to ship out, but it was confiscated by the customs department for over three months now. I heard that your cousin is overseeing that, could you just convenience us a bit?”
Sun Mao’s face turned grim, hearing that, he finally understood. All the things they discussed before were just pretexts. This was Li Yan’s goal from the beginning. When there was a first, the second time would soon follow, then the third. Li Yan obviously knew Sun Mao wouldn’t borrow money from loan sharks, so he took advantage of it.
This was indeed a huge profit.
“Mr. Li.” A waiter knocked and entered, he bowed and whispered into Li Yan’s ear, “The delivery is here.”
A smile surfaced on Li Yan’s face as he listened to the waiter, he tidied up his clothes and said, “I still have some business to attend to, so please pardon me. This is the Li family’s turf. Feel free to order anything or lady you fancy, I apologize for not being able to serve you all. Let’s meet again in the near future.”
After finishing the sentence, Li Yan hurried out of the room in a seemingly good mood, not even waiting to hear Sun Mao’s goodbyes. His followers also left the room, leaving only Lu Shang and Sun Mao behind.
“Lu Lao Ban, have a cigarette.” Sun Mao held out a cigarette. Lu Shang didn’t refuse but just received it and put it aside.
Seeing that Lu Shang didn’t plan on smoking, he returned the lighter into his pocket and played with his own cigarette. “Sorry for the trouble I caused you today, I will remember your kindness. Later on, I will go find the bank and hurry them for the money.”
Lu Shang responded, “I’ve seen a few of the constructions you did at the shore. They were done quite well.”
“No, no, they are nothing compared to your work in Tong Yan.”
Lu Shang slowly poured tea for the both of them and said, “There is really no need to worry about the bank not giving you the funds. The Li family is very careful. They won’t let the bank ruin their profit.”
The indications of the sentence were quite obvious. Sun Mao understood what Lu Shang was trying to say. Li Yan must have contacted the bank already, making sure that this would work or else he wouldn’t have agreed to this so easily. As for whether this “contact” would become a convenience or trouble, that Sun Mao really couldn’t tell.
“It’s fine as long as the results are good.” Lu Shang said.
“Ah, yes, yes…” Sun Mao’s had a complicated expression as he nodded his head.
The two sat in the room for a while, Li Yan didn’t return once after leaving. A while later, noises outside reached their ears, it sounded like a fight. Sun Mao wanted to see what the commotion was about, but the guards stopped him.
“We are receiving some merchandises at the back, please leave through the front door.”
Lu Shang too decided to leave, the guards immediately bowed and escorted him out, “Have a safe trip home.”
Lu Shang picked up his coat and slightly nodded his head at Sun Mao, then followed the guard out of the bar.
This bar was the Li family’s turf. The Li’s began their fortune with the restaurant industry, then they turned to jewelries and housing estates. Li Yan’s father was a cunning person. After he earned enough money, he opened an underwriting company. On the surface, the company cooperated with banks and acted as underwriters for clients, but behind the scenes, Li Yan’s father withdrew clients’ funds and loaned them out with higher interests. Back in the days when the finance industry was booming, the Li family made a lot of money. But in recent years, the government started to strengthen regulations on the finance industry. Li JinYao caught wind of that, prior to when the new regulations were established, and he withdrew all the funds from the company, shutting it down, and opening a movie company instead. He handed the company to his son and retired from business to avoid prosecution. Now Li JinYao only ran this little bar here. Some might think that old Li JinYao wanted peace in his last days, but people who were more familiar with him knew that this place wasn’t your everyday simple bar.
An old car repair factory was right behind the bar. It was at an oddly secluded location. Lu Shang was very familiar with this place, he often visited whenever he had business meetings. Uncle Yuen, his personal driver, would wait in the car for him around here.
Right after Lu Shang walked out of the front door, he heard the noises of a fight again. A few feet away, some blond haired gangsters with wine bottles in their hands were kicking and hitting a person who was on the ground. The crowd around them cheered the act on. The guard who was escorting Lu Shang out didn’t stop them either, indicating that this was a common occurrence. The guard simply stood a meter away from Lu Shang, blocking him from the fight.
Lu Shang wasn’t a person who liked to get involved in other people’s matters, nor was he especially empathetic to those who were suffering. So even as he saw that, he was only picking up his phone to call for his ride home, not really planning to inquire about the fight. But perhaps there was some sort of signal blocking device installed, the phone signal was quite poor ever since he arrived, so he had to re-dial a few times to get through.
“What the fuck is this useless drug? It’s even weaker than the last one. Would anyone buy this at the fighting ring?” The crowd began to jeer again, amongst the voices was the sound of shattering glass. It was quite noisy.
Lu Shang was taken aback by the noise and raised his head to get a better look at them. All of them looked like gangsters. They were surrounding a waiter-like person on the floor, kicking and punching him. They seemed to be quite young, but quite hard on their punches and kicks, hitting the wine bottles straight on the person’s head.
The one being beaten was covered in blood. Lu Shang couldn’t differentiate the person’s gender, but could see the person’s fingers trembling while clenching the ground in pain. It seemed like the person could no longer move, and at this rate he would most likely die.
“Someone working for me was corrupted, I’m just giving him a bit of a warning.”
Lu Shang’s thoughts were cut into, he followed the voice to a person seating on top of a stack of car tires. Li Yan was smoking in the dark, looking quite pleased. Lu Shang had yet to reply, Li Yan however suddenly hesitated and realized that he had misunderstood. Lu Shang wasn’t trying to call the police.
But of course, you can’t really blame Li Yan for overreacting. Lu Shang started doing business very early and he had a subtle personality. When Li Yan was skipping school and going out to play in bars, Lu Shang already had business deals with Li Yan’s father. Li Yan had the mindset that Lu Shang was his elder much like his father. So naturally, Li Yan had admirations and also fear towards Lu Shang, even though they weren’t far apart in their ages.
Uncle Yuen drove the car to the bar, Lu Shang hadn’t commented on what Li Yan said, he just took one last peek at the person on the ground, then got in the car.
“Lu Lao Ban, my new company, are you interested in investing?” Li Yan said from behind, “We did cooperate quite well today after all.”
Lu Shang stopped his movements for a second, then considered the proposal for a while, raising his head again. His gaze naturally went back towards the person on the ground. He gave an answer completely unrelated to the question, “This kid looks quite nice.” After saying that, he looked at Li Yan and said, “Give me a price.”
Everyone there froze up at that.
Li Yan was also quite shocked, though he didn’t have much contact with Lu Shang, he knew Lu Shang led a very modest life, not smoking nor drinking alcohol. He also never cared much for sex, but for some reason, today he was suddenly interested in this kid. Being curious, Li Yan held the person up by his hair, forcing his head up to get a better look at his face.
A manager beside Li Yan told him that this kid was left here by a client in debt, saying that he would come buy him back once he had money. But the client never came back. As such, this kid was left here in the bar, not knowing his name, age, nor hometown. He didn’t seem like he had received an education before, looked weak and frail, had no intelligence nor strength, so he could only do jobs that no one wanted to do. No one really cared about him. Until today, Li Yan, who had worked in the bar for half-a-year now, had no idea of his existence.
Looking at the kid now, Li Yan couldn’t help but admit that Lu Shang had sharp eyes. The person’s overly long bangs hid half of his face, but under the lights, he did have really shiny black eyes.
Li Yan dropped his hand, looking at Lu Shang and contemplated for a while. “If Lu Lao Ban likes him, how about I give him to you?”
The crowd around them started to mumble amongst themselves, there were even some unfriendly laughter.
Lu Shang remained his usual self, calm and bland, not showing any special expression on his face. He didn’t refuse the offer either, just slightly nodded his head and raised his hand at the driver. “Then you have my thanks.”
As he said that, the driver went directly into the crowd and picked up the kid, putting him onto the backseat of the car. The manager wanted to block the driver from leaving but was stopped by Li Yan instead.
“I will return the favor later.” Lu Shang said blandly as he closed the car door, directing the driver to go.
“Well, he certainly has no qualms whatsoever.” The manager said angrily as he looked at the car leaving from afar.
Li Yan, however, seemed very happy.
“Boss Yan, how can we let him leave like that?”
Li Yan laughed, “Ha, what do you know?”