Chapter 18: Sudden Inspiration
Translated by Shiya of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
As they were sleeping at night, Lu Shang’s phone rang. He had set his phone on do-not-disturb mode, so only the people in a special list could get through.
Lu Shang saw Uncle Yuen’s name on the incoming caller ID, he frowned a bit and got up while putting his clothes on.
“Just got news that Li JingYao was captured by the police. Do we need to do anything?”
“What about their company, Chan Zhuang?”
“According to Miss Meng, the police will temporarily shut the company down and check the books. It will probably be shut down permanently afterwards.”
“And where’s Li Yan?”
“He ran. This incident is still on the down low, but he got news and fled. We didn’t find records of him leaving the country so he should be hiding somewhere.”
Lu Shang contemplated for a few moments, his fingers tapped the armrest subconsciously, “Just get us as far away from the incident as possible for now, don’t do anything else. Also ask Zuo Chao to increase watch over Liu XinTian’s movements.”
Uncle Yuen seemed a little shocked, he said, “Understood.”
Hanging the phone up, the house returned to its usual silence. Lu Shang stood up from the sofa and walked slowly towards the French window.
It was in the middle of the night, so outside the window was a vast view of darkness, only a lonely light tower was glowing. It was as if the city was asleep. On the horizon, shades of blue sparkled across the sea.
Li JingYao was a poisonous snake; Lu Shang’s father’s death had a lot to do with that snake. However, in business, the situation changed in an instant. When Lu Shang began working, he had no choice but to cooperate with him. On the surface, they were business partners, but in truth, Lu Shang had been trying to break Li JingYao for years. For that goal, he had a lot of dirty tricks done, he was also involved in making Chan Zhuang’s ship sink.
Now, Li JingYao was in jail, so technically Lu Shang got his wish. This was a one in a lifetime chance to get Li JingYao out of the picture for good. Uncle Yuen knew Lu Shang had been waiting for this, so he called to inform Lu Shang even in the middle of the night. Lu Shang closed his eyes and sighed, sadly his hands were tied, he couldn’t risk making a wrong step. Li Yan was still out there somewhere, and he might still have something up his sleeves.
“Is something wrong?” Li Sui took out a blanket and put it over Lu Shang.
Lu Shang pursed his lips together slightly, “No.”
Seeing Li Sui’s worried face, he said, “Get my laptop.”
“You are going to work? Now?”
Lu Shang nodded his head.
One phone call affected both of their moods, each had a lot to think about and sleep was nowhere in those thoughts. Li Sui decided to grab a seat and look at Lu Shang signing and going through the paperwork. Uncle Yuen was a careful and efficient assistant, he did all his work in an orderly fashion, all the mail he sent were marked with their individual urgency for Lu Shang’s convenience. The mail also had clear, simple titles, allowing Lu Shang to grasp the general content with just one glance.
Lu Shang picked a few pieces of mail amongst the urgent ones to download. For some of the mail, he just skimmed through, but for some, he read very carefully and even made detailed annotations.
A serious man was always the best looking. Lu Shang’s personality was placid to begin with, when he began working, even the last shreds of weakness and sickliness were swept away. He gave off a sharp and intelligent aura, even a simple action like typing was enough to attract people’s full attention.
The person in question didn’t realize, but as the audience, Li Sui’s eyes were heavily attracted to Lu Shang. The two of them were in such a close proximity that Li Sui could hear Lu Shang’s breaths loud and clear. After sitting beside Lu Shang for a while, he felt a wave of heat swarming his body. Feeling a bit guilty, he stood up and got a cup of warm milk from the kitchen.
It was too quiet, they were also alone together in the house, so it was extremely hard for Li Sui to think of something else. Li Sui stood at the sink; it took him gods know how long to finally get his jumping heart in place. He walked back out with the glass of milk, Lu Shang was still staring at the screen, he said, “You should rest.”
Li Sui’s feet stopped, then he continued walking over with the same expression. Putting the cup down, he replied, “I’m not sleepy.”
Lu Shang glanced at the cup of milk; he didn’t say anything more.
At the beginning, Li Sui’s gaze was solely on Lu Shang, but as time passed, he began to look at the contents on the screen as well. Li Sui stared at the screen for a while, then he couldn’t help but ask while pointing at a few unread mails, “Why won’t you read these ones? They are marked as urgent as well.”
“It’s marked as urgent because they are in a hurry.” Lu Shang continued typing, “It has nothing to do with me.”
Li Sui didn’t quite understand what he meant, Lu Shang stopped his hands and turned his head to Li Sui with a light smile, “Have you heard of the saying, ‘the emperor doesn’t worry but his eunuch does’?”
Li Sui laughed, “You are saying they are eunuchs?”
Lu Shang tilted his head a little in thought. “The wording might not be right, but the rationale is the same. A leader cannot afford to be rash, or to be affected by employees’ emotions. Instead of judging from other’s words and moods, we need to think with only the job in mind. Act according to the urgency of the case, not the person in question. We need to know how to arrange matters by their respective priorities.”
Seeing Li Sui’s confused expression, Lu Shang softened, he remembered how all these might be too much for him. Lu Shang smiled and said, “You should go to bed.”
“What about you?” Li Sui didn’t want to sleep yet. Lu Shang looked at him again as he came up with something, “Do you want to try?”
“Me?” Li Sui’s eyes glowed.
Lu Shang opened a document; he turned the screen to Li Sui. Explaining, he said, “This is a company’s financial statement, the company’s usage of funds last year are listed here. Have a look at it and tell me what conclusions you have.”
Li Sui had never learned accounting subjects before, so he just felt dizzy looking at the words and numbers. Lu Shang was staring at him, so it would be embarrassing for Li Sui to say he understood nothing. With no other options, he tried reading every single word and line in detail, trying to analyze whatever they meant. He read the statement all the way till the sun came up, finally he raised his head from the screen and he actually understood a bit.
To be honest, the table wasn’t difficult to comprehend. It was made by humans after all, plus it was invented to make it more convenient for humans in calculating. Though there were some terms that he couldn’t grasp, he did understand the simpler accounting terms.
Seeing Li Sui’s relaxed shoulders, Lu Shang asked, “What conclusions did you come to?”
“They used a lot of money.”
Lu Shang nodded, “Where were the funds used in?”
“There’re conferences, cars… There’s also an operational expense here.”
“Do you think they had a net gain or loss?”
“I think they had a net gain?”
“Here. In the profit section, it states that they had six million yuan of profits.” Li Sui pointed.
Lu Shang laughed lightly.
“Was I wrong?” Li Sui was anxious.
Lu Shang didn’t reply, he closed the laptop. Pulling Li Sui’s arm, he said, “Go, let’s go back to bed.”
“Was I right or not?” Li Sui asked again. But seeing Lu Shang take his coat off, Li Sui swallowed his words.
Rays of light shot through the clouds near the horizon of the sea, forming a golden sheen atop the ocean. The golden sparks crawled into their room through the window, Li Sui wasn’t sleepy, but he didn’t want to affect Lu Shang rest either. Li Sui laid on the bed with his clothes on, looking intently at Lu Shang sleeping. He waited till he was certain Lu Shang was deep asleep, then he quietly got out of bed to make breakfast.
Li Sui was dexterous, his movements were light and swift, but at the same time serious. As he had been through a lot of turmoil, he found this kind of peaceful little things especially priceless, he treasured his time here. Perhaps Lu Shang couldn’t grasp why, but Li Sui understood himself clearly. Lu Shang’s unfinished sentence that day continued to linger at the surface of Li Sui’s mind.
“Li Sui, it’s fine. Eventually, I will…”
Li Sui, it’s fine. Eventually, I will die.
Li Sui never put that out into words, but from the day Lu Shang got discharged from the hospital, a sense of restlessness was in his heart. The days he was living now were too perfect, so perfect that Li Sui felt as if they were stolen. Li Sui always thought that, if he slacked even a little, God will take this treasure away.
The stew was done but Lu Shang showed no signs of waking up anytime soon. Li Sui pulled his tablet out, opening his reading list and placing it on his lap. He read each page carefully.
It was almost afternoon when Lu Shang woke up, the two caretakers came to measure Lu Shang’s pulse and blood pressure, they recorded a bunch of numbers. Before they left, Li Sui stopped one of the caretakers in secret.
“Are the numbers normal?”
The female caretaker shook her head, unsure if she meant she didn’t know, or the numbers were bad. She said, “I’ve never seen a case like this before, it would be best if you ask Dr. Leung when you get back.”
Li Sui felt depressed.
After breakfast, Lu Shang got a phone call, then he went out, bringing Li Sui along.
They were going to the Golden Sands Shore construction site. According to their original plan, the moment Lu Shang arrived on HaiNan Island, he would be inspecting the site first-hand. However, Lu Shang’s health condition didn’t agree with the plan. Moreover, there were too many arguments among the board members, there were no final proposals yet and every time they had a meeting, they’d bicker. Lu Shang waited quietly for all of them to have their fair share of fighting, now when they were all tired of fighting, Lu Shang finally invited a few of the members to the construction site today.
Tong Yan Corporation was the sole investor and the developer of the project, even though Lu Shang was the director of the company, he couldn’t just do whatever he wanted. As this was an investment that valued profit, if he just decided everything by himself and the results were not satisfactory, it would be a real pain to explain to the other shareholders.
The construction site wasn’t far from the city, they arrived by bus after around thirty minutes. On the way to the construction site, Lu Shang kept thinking how amazing it was that Liu XingMing could keep the plot of land for this long, especially with how scarce land was on the island. If Liu XingMing didn’t value being near home so much, Lu Shang really did want to transfer him to the city and make Liu XingMing work for him instead.
The attendant on their journey was a pretty lady, so the whole bus full of “flame heads” got along extraordinary well, they even chatted and joked on the way there. However, the second they got off the bus, everyone was quiet like a vegetable.
They had heard of the condition of the site already but seeing it first-hand was still shocking. Oxidized steel pipes and dumped bricks were everywhere, the plot of land was covered with pits filled with seawater. There were also scores of rubbish and some marine animals’ corpses, the air was laced with a rotten, oceanic smell. The weather within the last few days had been good, but no one was at the beach nearby. Green moss grew on the rocks on the beach, indicating that the beach had a very scarce amount of visitors.
The soil at the construction site was below satisfactory as well, ignoring the pieces of rocks and stones, the soil consisted mainly of laterite. The ground was loose and dry, as if the soil would sink if anyone stepped on, the whole place felt quite unsafe.
Lu Shang glanced at Liu XingMing beside him, the latter was a lot calmer. Liu XingMing even stomped a piece of steel pipe flat, as he saw it was protruding upwards, it seemed like he was used to this place.
Most of the board members had visited the construction site before, but the fear of that rumor persisted, so having to step foot on the land again gave them a little scared. Plus, the weather was sunny and great when they began the trip, but somehow, ever since they stepped foot in the construction site, the sky turned grim and cloudy. The wind began to pick up, and a layer of fog rose from the ocean, making this place seem even more ominous.
The female attendant took out helmets and boots for the visitors, handing them to everyone. Li Sui took a set and wore them, then he opened Lu Shang’s set and helped him put them on.
“I remember there were a lot of people at the beach last time I came here.” Lu Shang looked at the beach afar.
The female attendant turned her head around and replied, “Yes, there were still a lot of visitors last spring.”
Li Sui followed their gazes to see a beach, the ocean was beautiful, and the sand were fine and clean, there weren’t any rubbish on the beach either. Li Sui also found it weird, “Then why aren’t there any visitors now?”
“Last summer, a ship sank somewhere near here. That incident affected this beach, for half-a-year the ocean was covered with a layer of oily substances, so naturally no one swam here. This spring there was an algal bloom (i) in the sea, they were just cleaned away recently.” The female attendant picked up a clam on the construction site and said, “These marine animals here on the site died from suffocation because of the algae growth.”
T/N: (i) Algal bloom often occur when there are rich amounts of nutrients in the sea, here it was most likely due to the sank ship. As the large amount of algae will consume all the dissolved oxygen in the water, the marine animals will die from suffocation.
“The ship did that much damage?” Li Sui asked.
No one replied, the female attendant thought for a while, then she said, “There may be another reason.”
“Last time, I heard an elderly say that this part of the ocean was haunted. The sea will sweep a person away every four years, and it was very exact.” She paused for a bit and said, “This year just happens to be the fourth year (ii).”
T/N: (ii) It was not mentioned, but if you are wondering why of all numbers four was used here, the reason is because in both Cantonese and Mandarin, the pronunciation of “four” were very close to the pronunciation of “death”.
Just as the female attendant spoke, the wind picked up even more, making the place even more chilly. The two were further apart at the beginning, but hearing what she said, Li Sui couldn’t help but etched closer to Lu Shang.
“Are you scared?” Lu Shang noticed and turned his head around to Li Sui, laughing a little.
Li Sui wasn’t scared, but in this kind of atmosphere, he would always subconsciously be aware of Lu Shang. Li Sui would only feel at ease if Lu Shang was in an area where he could reach and protect.
Liu XingMing looked a lot like a farmer once he was on the construction site, his bronze skin matched the spatula in his hand perfectly. Others didn’t dare make unnecessary movements on the site, he however, dug up an incense burner from the ground.
“I placed it here last time, so it’s still here.” Liu XingMing laughed. He directed the female attendant to get the incense from the back of the bus, then he turned his head to the pale-looking board members, “Come, come, why don’t we pay our respects and burn some incense?”
These people fought and bickered so loudly in the office before, but here, none of them dare speak, as if it would anger the Gods. Initially, none of the board members accepted Liu XingMing’s invitation. But then two of them went to burn an incense, so the rest followed suit, worried that the Gods would punish them if they didn’t.
Li Sui turned his head to Lu Shang, the latter didn’t budge, it seemed like Lu Shang wasn’t going to put up any incenses. So naturally, Li Sui wouldn’t do so either. Looking at the backs of these people putting up incenses, Li Sui suddenly felt a sense of pity, thinking how these people had it hard. They needed money, but also needed to care about their faces, yet they were also afraid that what they did would bring wrath from the Gods. Perhaps this was human nature, when people reached a high place, they’d always fear losing, even fearing gain. When you possess too much, you’d began to get anxious of everything. It was always people like Lu Shang, who’d die any day and cared for nothing, or people like Li Sui, who’d have nothing to begin with, that could truly enjoy life.
On the way back, Lu Shang didn’t speak, he kept staring out the window, as if he was in deep thought. Li Sui didn’t interrupt him; he took out his tablet and began reading his precious books in secret.
After dinner, Lu Shang began working on his computer. Not long afterwards, he began to daydream again. Li Sui prepared a bathtub of warm water for Lu Shang, Li Sui called him a few times, but Lu Shang didn’t notice.
“Are you busy? Do you want to go have a bath first?”
Lu Shang turned back to glance at Li Sui, then he shook his head, “I’m thinking about the plot of land.”
Li Sui nudged up to Lu Shang and asked, “Do you have any ideas yet?”
Li Sui wasn’t sure when it began, but Lu Shang would discuss work with him recently. Lu Shang turned the computer screen to Li Sui, “A hotel is out of the question, as the location is too secluded, so the profit would be too low. A villa is also unsatisfactory, as rich people are picky, so it would be hard to sell. The soil is too loose, so we can’t build a tall apartment building. The only remaining possibilities are a holiday resort or a theme park.”
Li Sui stared at the screen, on it was a proposal for the Golden Sand Shore project, they had a construction proposal and a market report written out. Li Sui read it for a bit, then asked, “This is what they wrote? Does it not give you any ideas?”
Lu Shang summarized the proposal with one word, “Extravagant.”
Li Sui didn’t know what to say to that, after the past few days, Li Sui realised something about Lu Shang. Lu Shang seemed easy-going, but in fact, he was quite stubborn. His stubbornness showed the most in his work, if he had decided on something, no one could change his mind.
The mysterious ghost stories in the day crossed Li Sui’s mind, he said without much thought, “If this place is so ominous, then maybe we should just use that and build a haunted house or something.”
Li Sui’s sentence wasn’t processed through his brain, the sentence just slipped out, he meant for it as a joke. Unexpectedly, Lu Shang suddenly stared at him, then he began thinking seriously, a glimmer of light returned to his eyes. Quickly, Lu Shang began typing on the computer.
Li Sui knew that once Lu Shang gets into his working mode, he won’t stop for quite a while, so Li Sui just turned to the kitchen to prepare some midnight snacks.