Chapter 17: Friend Making
Translated by Shiya of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Lu Shang woke up the next morning to an empty bed. As usual, he lay on the bed awake for a while before slowly getting up. Getting his clothes, he pushed the bedroom door open.
The weather was nice, strokes of sunlight shone in through the window, making the room warm and cozy. He stood still and focused on listening; he was a little shocked as he turned the corner. A small kitchen was at the corner, inside Li Sui was cooking breakfast with a frying pan. He must have just added the oil, as the crisp sound was loud and clear.
“You’re awake?” Li Sui turned back to look at Lu Shang, his eyes obviously brightened up a few notches, an odd shyness was also in his eyes.
Lu Shang couldn’t quite describe the weirdness of this scene, but he just felt like he was in a soap opera as a pair of newly-weds. He didn’t like the smoke and oil, so he didn’t go in, instead he leaned on the doorframe, “What are you making?”
There were some basic ingredients in the fridge, so the guests could cook if they wanted to, but very few guests actually did that. Li Sui flipped the omelet and took it out smoothly, he placed the egg on a plate and began spreading sauce on it.
Lu Shang waited for the oil and smoke in the air to dissipate before he walked in. In a glass bowl were a pile of uniformly cut strips of cucumber, in another was baked bacon, the end of the strips curled up enticingly. Beside the ingredients sat a ceramic pot, pumpkin porridge was boiling inside, white steam rose continuously, an appetizing aroma of sweetness permeated the room. The proportion of meat and vegetables was just right; saltiness mixed well with the sweetness, the meal was carefully balanced. Naturally, there couldn’t have been that many ingredients in the fridge, so Li Sui probably got up extra early to buy the ingredients from the market.
“What’s the occasion?”
“Nothing, I just suddenly want to cook.” Li Sui lowered his head to roll up the omelet, cutting it into two halves and placing one half on another plate. Then he went to scoop up two bowls of porridge.
Lu Shang stared at him for a while in silence, he then went to the bathroom with a lot on his mind. When he finished washing up and got a change of clothes, breakfast was already served, waiting for him on the dining table. Li Sui was sitting at the dining table, removing shrimp shells. He had just finished processing a bowl of shrimp when Lu Shang came out. The shrimp shells were peeled clean, he had even deveined the shrimp, leaving only a bowl of puffy, tender shrimp meat.
The weird feeling in his heart deepened, thinking that this kid must have taken the wrong medicine.
“Want to try some?” Li Sui was looking at him with anticipation in his eyes, a bit of anxiousness could be seen as well.
Pushing his thoughts away, Lu Shang sat down at the dining table. He picked up the chopsticks and paused a bit, “You made all of this yourself?”
The outer layer of the omelet roll looked like golden crust and was moderate in thickness with a fluffy allure. When his teeth sank into the egg, he was greeted with crisp skin. Tearing the skin, creamy eggs overflowed into his mouth. The amount of sauce was just right, sipping out from between the layers, bringing out the refreshing fragrance of cucumbers and the scent of smoked bacon in just one bite. The taste was not only sublime but also familiar.
“How is it?” Li Sui asked excitedly.
“Not bad.” Lu Shang nodded.
T/N: I am starving, thank you very much. Now I know why the CME translators translate after eating.
What Lu Shang said was the truth, this omelet roll was extremely well made, it was just like Aunt Lu’s. After leaving home for half-a-month, Lu Shang really did feel a little homesick. This child had never cooked for him before, Lu Shang had no idea he could cook, he also had no idea that Li Sui was so observative. Lu Shang loved omelet rolls, but he seldom had them. As a tasty omelet roll could only be made with oil and oil was bad for his health, Aunt Lu seldom made them.
During Li Sui’s stay in the Lu family house, Aunt Lu only ever made omelet rolls three or four times. Lu Shang did raise his chopsticks a few more times whenever there were omelet rolls, but he never expected Li Sui to notice, much less expected Li Sui would learn how to make it.
Li Sui looked overjoyed, he pushed the bowl of shrimp to Lu Shang, “Try the shrimp, I already peeled them.”
He was stating his affections for Lu Shang so obviously, Lu Shang tried ignoring it, but failed. He raised his head with a complicated expression, “You…”
Li Sui’s expression changed a little, “What’s wrong? Are you full already?”
“You… help me get my medicine.”
Truly a rarity, for a day to come when even Lu Shang didn’t know how to ask a question. It was not that Lu Shang failed to understand Li Sui’s feelings, it was just that since he understood, he was having a hard time telling Li Sui straight to his face. This child had a pure and direct heart, he was doing all this for one thing only, he wanted to take care of Lu Shang. In the face of such pure intentions, all the words Lu Shang could come up with sounded way too cold.
The weather in Hai Nan Island was relatively warm, perhaps due to that, Lu Shang’s health condition was quite well ever since they arrived. Even after going out and about for two days, he didn’t feel especially unwell. Li Sui was like a tail, he followed Uncle Yuen’s directions completely, following Lu Shang everywhere he went. At the beginning, Lu Shang thought that was because Li Sui wasn’t used to the new environment, so he thought he had to take extra care of Li Sui. But at the end, Lu Shang felt like he was the one being taken care of.
Lu Shang had no idea where Li Sui learned to do this, but Li Sui just stuck to him everywhere he went, almost like how paint sticks to the wall permanently. Li Sui would remember every little detail of Lu Shang by heart, his gaze was on Lu Shang 24/7. Li Sui would even straighten his ears during his shower to listen to Lu Shang’s movements outside. Even the usually calm and collected Lu Shang felt a little overwhelmed, thinking that they might need to have a chat about that.
That night, Yan Ke called to invite Lu Shang to dinner. Yan Ke didn’t talk about any of the specifics, he just sounded vague and awkward through the phone. Lu Shang presumed that he must have had some kind of hidden agenda, so he brought Li Sui with him to the restaurant. As expected, the moment they stepped foot into the restaurant, they saw the elder son of the SiMa family, sitting in the private room with red eyes.
SiMa JingRong wore casual attire tonight, on his left earlobe was an eye-catching stud earring. His choice of clothes was a lot more normal than that day on the ship. Seeing the two enter, SiMa JingRong immediately stood up, awkwardly extending his hand and inviting them into the room.
Lu Shang and Li Sui looked at each other for a second, then followed SiMa JingRong in.
“Uncle Lu, I would like to propose a toast to you. For your help on the ship the other day.” Even if you round it down, SiMa JingRong was at least 180 centimeters tall, he also had a large build. Hearing him call Lu Shang uncle just didn’t sit right with Li Sui.
Lu Shang’s expression didn’t change, but he didn’t take the glass of wine that was handed to him either. He picked up a cup of tea at the side, clicking the cup with SiMa JingRong’s glass and drank all of it down.
SiMa JingRong froze for a bit, with a slightly dejected expression, he gulped the wine down.
“Is everything fine at home?” Lu Shang refilled his cup with tea.
“Nothing special. My father just said he is never going to care about me again.” Annoyance rose on his face as SiMa JingRong began talking about the things at home, “Uncle Yan said that I should go home and talk to my father face to face. But with his temper, knowing that incident on the ship, he’d bite me to death if I go home. There’s no way I’m going back home.”
Lu Shang avoided commenting on his speech, but said lightly, “He is still your father.”
“Father?” SiMa JingRong said with a disgusted face, “If he still had a shred of love for me, then he wouldn’t ask for the company’s shares my mother left me when she died.”
Lu Shang sharply caught something odd in his words. The SiMa family was a female-oriented family, they started their business as a clothing wholesaler, then they began doing electronics. SiMa JingRong’s father, Yue PengFei, was married into the SiMa household, he married the family’s eldest daughter. After the eldest daughter died during labor, Yue PengFei married the second daughter of the SiMa household.
Addis Note: Sooo….his little half brother is also his little cousin? Gross.
Yue PengFei was a prodigy, with his own talents and SiMa family’s funds, he opened his own subsidiary company. The company was the first in the country, providing a single-platform service that included both logistics and online retail services (i). The company had grown and developed, by now, it had already monopolized the industry mid, North, and South-China. The company was even got listed on the Growth Enterprise Market (GEM) of the stock exchange (ii) last year.
T/N: (i) I think you can imagine it as something like Amazon or TaoBao.
(ii) This statement basically means the company became a listed company and will appear in the stock exchange. However, in China the stock exchange has two different “boards”, one is called the Main Board, the other is called GEM. The difference is that there are less requirements for getting listed on the GEM than in the main board.
“Really?” Lu Shang rubbed the edge of his cup, trying to get more information out of him, he continued, “From what I know of director Yue, he wouldn’t do that.”
“You guys are just deceived.” SiMa JingRong said in a hurry, “He even tried to trick me, saying that he was just borrowing it, and that he will return them. I’m not stupid, if I gave him the money, he will definitely give them to SiMa Yan!”
SiMa JingRong’s mother was the sole shareholder of the electronics company, she left with eighty percent of the shares to SiMa JingRong and only twenty percent to her husband Yue PengFei. The shares at the time weren’t worth that much. But after so many years of development at Yue PengFei’s hands, plus the growing of the electronics industries in recent years, the company reached a completely different scale than before. SiMa JingRong didn’t care about the business, he probably didn’t even realize how rich he actually was.
As for Yue PengFei’s request for the shares, SiMa JingRong didn’t understand the reasons. Lu Shang however, immediately knew what he wanted, Yue PengFei wanted to get listed via a shell (iii).
T/N: (iii) The correct term is reverse takeover, but in Chinese the term means to “get listed via a shell”.
It is when a private company takes control of a listed but weaker company (also called a shell company) through buying the majority of the shell company’s shares. Afterwards the private company will merge with the shell company, allowing the private company to bypass checking and get into the stock exchange.
So here it means that the SiMa family’s electronics company is already listed on the main board of the stock exchange, but as Yue PengFei’s company is not and he wants it to, so he wants to do so through the electronics company. Henceforth Yue PengFei needs SiMa JingRong’s 80% shares of the electronics company.
After getting the company listed, he could place the shares out to the public, getting investors and money. With the funds, he could change the structure of the company, giving the company more possibilities and better prospects. In short, the pros outweighed the cons. After the analysis, his dad maybe overly ambitious, but he might have also considered SiMa JingRong’s situation as well.
“Uncle Lu, what do you think I should do?” SiMa JingRong begged for help.
Lu Shang found something odd and asked, “Your father didn’t send you to business school?”
“He did, but I didn’t understand them. I have money, why do I need to learn that stuff? Moreover, if I leave home for that long, who knows what kind of change will happen in the family.”
No wonder Yue PengFei favored the younger son, if Lu Shang was his father, he’d be furious too.
Even Li Sui couldn’t take it anymore, he said, “So you’re okay with the status quo? There will be a day when your fortune ends.”
Lu Shang tugged Li Sui’s sleeve under the table slightly, as it would be best not to be so direct. Lu Shang said vaguely, “You should put your studies first at your age.”
Li Sui turned his head to take a glance of Lu Shang, he remembered something Uncle Yuen said before. After Lu Shang’s father died, he promptly returned and stabilized Tong Yan Corporation all on his own, Lu Shang was just around SiMa JingRong’s current age when he did that. Li Sui couldn’t help but gasp at how different people could be.
Yan Ke arrived late, he walked in and Li Sui nodded his head, greeting him, “Big brother Yan.”
“Hehe, sorry I’m late. There was a traffic jam.” Yan Ke laughed, “Don’t just have wine, order some food. This place is famous for their seafood.” After finishing the sentence, he waved his hand to call for the waiters, asking for the menu.
With their last interaction, Li Sui had gotten more used to Yan Ke, he was less tense around him than before. Li Sui poured him a cup of tea and smiled, “The stuff I said last time were too rash, thank you for brother Yan’s help.” Then he turned his head to SiMa JingRong, nodding his head, he said, “Please don’t take it to heart.”
When Li Sui spoke, he intentionally emphasized on the word brother, almost like he was trying to correct a certain someone. SiMa JingRong caught on to what Li Sui said, all kinds of emotions flashing across his face. The corner of Lu Shang’s mouth lifted slightly, he didn’t say anything.
Yan Ke was the first to react, he hit the back of his own head, laughing, “My bad. JingRong, you should call him brother Lu from now on, he isn’t that much older than you anyways. My bad, my bad, I got it wrong. I kept thinking you are still the small fat boy, haha. Seeing Li Sui now, I realized you guys aren’t that different in age. Hahaha…”
SiMa JingRong’s face was flushed, Lu Shang smiled at him and said, “He’s joking, call me whatever you like.”
“I…I will go get some sauce…” SiMa JingRong stood up in embarrassment.
“I will go too.” Li Sui followed him out.
Looking at the two’s back, Yan Ke asked, “You aren’t the least bit worried that they’d get into a fight?”
Lu Shang lowered his head to sip in tea, “They are close in age, they should have more to talk about together. As an uncle, it would be unseemly of me to interfere.”
“What? Are you still sour about that?”
Lu Shang took a glance of Yan Ke and changed the subject, “Do you have any business ties with Yue PengFei? Help me arrange a meeting.”
“Well, I have some, but what do you have in mind?”
“He wants to get a shell company, right? I just happen to have a great gift for him, I think he will like it.”
When it came to matters in business, Yan Ke valued integrity and manners more than anything, so hearing what Lu Shang said reassured him. He nodded promptly, “Wait for me to get in contact then.”
The sauces were placed in a long row, there were a huge variety of them, customers were allowed to get whatever blend they want themselves. Li Sui avoided the spicy sauces and mustards; he made a sugary vinegar blend and one more that was mainly savory.
SiMa JingRong couldn’t accept the bland blends Li Sui was making, so he scooped a spoon full of spicy sauce and was about to dump them into Li Sui’s sauce dish, “You must add some spice.”
Li Sui immediately covered his dishes and evaded, “No.”
“What’s there to eat if you don’t add spicy stuff?”
“If you like them, then you can eat it yourself. Why do you care about what I eat?”
SiMa JingRong rolled his eyes in disgust, “You lack taste.”
Li Sui didn’t like losing, so he threw a jab back, “People who have a different taste than you are all lacking? I see that you are still as self-centered as ever.”
SiMa JingRong choked a bit and stomped in front of Li Sui, “Don’t think that you will have my gratitude just because you said something that day!”
“Your gratitude doesn’t elevate my life.” Li Sui stared back at him.
The two glared into each other’s eyes, they were similar in height, sparks of flames surrounded them. Li Sui said with a deep voice, “Get out of my way.”
SiMa JingRong stared at Li Sui angrily, after a while he backed down, slowly walking aside.
During dinner, only Yan Ke and Lu Shang talked over the table. SiMa JingRong was like a deflated balloon, he ate with low spirits. Li Sui was busy getting the crab meat from the shell for Lu Shang, so he didn’t look at SiMa JingRong.
Mid-way through dinner, Yan Ke felt a need to butt in. Even as a father, Yan Ke felt embarrassed from how lovey-dovey Li Sui and Lu Shang were acting. He poured Li Sui a cup of coconut juice, “Stop peeling the crab, eat something yourself.”
Lu Shang put his chopsticks down, taking up a piece of crab, “Here, I’ll help you.”
Li Sui was definitely not going to let Lu Shang dirty his hands, so he quickly pulled the crab away from Lu Shang, “No, I’ll do it myself.”
SiMa JingRong’s gaze swam around the two, his expression was weird and awkward. He wasn’t clear what relationship Lu Shang and Li Sui had, but seeing their overly close interactions now, he couldn’t help but wonder. He turned his head to Yan Ke, the latter understood his inquiry and smiled. Yan Ke scoped a spoon of clams in steamed eggs and emptied it into SiMa JingRong’s bowl. Slapping his back, he said, “Forgot to tell you, but they are together.”
With the confirmation, it was as if lightning slashed down on him, his expression stiff.
Li Sui unintentionally glanced at him, then as if he was doing it intentionally, he moved closer to Lu Shang. Whispering into Lu Shang’s ear, hearing what he said, the corner of Lu Shang’s mouth lifted into a slight curve and he nodded.
SiMa JingRong’s face turned red again, imagining that the two must have said something indecent. In an instant, his imagination ran wild, flooding his entire brain, paralyzing his thoughts. He remained in the stupefied state until they finished dinner. When they were about to leave, Li Sui went to say his farewell with Yan Ke, that was when SiMa JingRong finally woke up from his dreams. SiMa hurriedly pulled out a business card and handed it to Li Sui, he didn’t quite understand and hence did not take it.
SiMa JingRong got annoyed and said, “Take it already.”
Li Sui turned back to look at Lu Shang, the latter did not give him any directions, Lu Shang had an expression that read ‘this is your own decision to make.’ Li Sui turned back and took the card, “This is?”
“My number.” SiMa JingRong felt extremely awkward and weird, “You can call me if you need something.”
Li Sui was a little shocked, but soon he felt a hint of joy in his heart. Before Li Sui replied, SiMa waved his hand and left, following behind Yan Ke.
“What are you smiling for?” Lu Shang saw the weird grin on Li Sui’s face.
“He’s a really interesting person.” Li Sui said while waving the card a little. He smiled towards Lu Shang, “Say, does this count as me making my first friend?”
Lu Shang analyzed, “The SiMa family is a huge force, if you could befriend him, he will definitely be helpful to you in the future.”
SiMa JingRong’s actions shocked even Lu Shang, he began to find that he didn’t understand the world young people lived in. These two kids’ personalities were so different that Lu Shang couldn’t even imagine how they could communicate if they became friends. Li Sui was a low-key person with mature thoughts, while SiMa JingRong was outgoing and childish. However, Lu Shang could come up with at least one similar point of the two, both of them were pure-hearted people.
“I thought he hated me, the things I said were really harsh after all.”
“He just didn’t want to admit it, but he actually agrees with what you said.”
In truth, SiMa JingRong had correct views of the world, life and others. He could differentiate between right and wrong, but he was just a little too childish. From how he referred to almost everyone as uncle showed his lack of self-awareness. He truly was a little too lazy for his own good, but if a day came when he had an epiphany of sorts, he might be a decent, talented person.
“I’m not trying to be mean to him.” Li Sui said honestly, “I just didn’t like people calling you like you’re old.”
Lu Shang jokingly rubbed his chin and slouched his back, “Am I old?”
“You are barely thirty years old. Of course you’re not old.” Li Sui paused a bit, then continued with a weaker voice, “Even if you get old, I’ll stay with you.”
The horn of a car whizzed by them, Lu Shang turned his head back, “What did you just say?”
Li Sui averted his eyes, “Nothing.”