I am not following the exact flow of the novel for the next few chapters but I will come back for the characters I have missed subsequently. I love, love the ending at Chap 7 and I think you will like it too. : )
A few days later, Lan Shan is called into her manager’s office. Old Wang informs her that her R8 customer has called to cancel one of the cars AND file a sexual harassment complaint against her. This has Old Wang and Lan Shan baffled and worried. Sexual harassment? Not only does Lan Shan have a stellar record in her years of working with the company, she is drop-dead gorgeous and is more likely a victim than the transgressor in event of sexual harassment.
Lan Shan assures Old Wang that she has absolutely, positively, NOT harassed her customer and that she will call Mr Wu to find out if there is any misunderstanding. Wu Wen is surprised when he gets a call from Lan Shan but he figures his brother must have something to do with it. He promises Lan Shan that he will call his brother to find out what is going on before reverting to her again.
When the call was through, Qiao Feng is the first to speak: “You have call at the right time. There is a question that I can’t figure out.”
This catches Wu Wen’s interest. “Really, there is actually a question you can’t figure out? Do tell me more.”
“According to my dating programme, all the girls I met have called me after the first meeting to arrange for another date. In other words, my programme thinks that my personality is the “Super Appealing” type.”
Wu Wen bursts out laughing. “Can you be any less shameless? You? Super Appealing? with that weird temper of yours?”
At the other end, Qiao Feng is silent. “Which is why I say there is a problem.” He has designed the programme logic based on numerous psychological models and the programme has successfully passed the initial tests. Even if there is a deviation in its analysis, it should not be so far off the mark….
Wu Wen: “I suggest you add 2 zeros to the weightage of “Looks” in your programme and then re-run the results. I guarantee you that your programme will work just fine.”
“It is not scientific if looks is the primary determining factor.”
“Believe me. It is the only science and logic in your case.”
Not wanting to waste time, Wu Wen changes the topic. “Qiao Feng, do you know Lan Shan?”
“I do not know.”
“I say, are you crazy? You do not know a person and yet you claim that she harassed you? I know you are very good looking and there is a never-ending queue of people making passes at you. But how can you make such a complaint to a stranger without rhyme or reason?”
“I did not file a complaint.” He only received a phone call, recounted his story, and informed the Customer Service Officer that he wishes to cancel his car.
“Which means you did say that she harassed you?”
Qiao Feng remains silent.
Wu Wen tries again. “Ok, let us try this from another angle. What is your agenda?”
Qiao Feng has lost interest in the topic. “You only need to know that I will never buy a car from her.”
Wu Wen is quick to hear between the lines. “You do know Lan Shan right? Please do not tell me you are doing this to attract her attention? That will be childish to the extreme!”
Qiao Feng: “I suggest you stop guessing. Base on your deduction powers and imagination, you will not be able to find out the reason within a short time.”
“Ha! So what if you have high IQ! You… you are an idiot!”
“……” Wu Wen hates to argue with Qiao Feng. He is very quick but so mild-mannered that he doesn’t rile up if when scolded so there is no satisfaction in arguing with someone like him. “I say, what do you want me to do?”
“I appreciate your kind intentions and that is enough.”
“Cut the bullshit!”
“Oh, let me rephrase. I do not need a car. There is no need for you to buy a car for me.”
“Then why did you get a car number?”
“I want to test if my luck is good.”
Holding the phone with one hand, Wu Wen can only bang the table with his free hand. Testing his luck? There are so many people queuing every month for a license number – the chance of success is probably lower than getting yourself into a good college – and this guy is just trying to see if he is lucky? And the worse thing is, his luck is too damn good.
He shakes his head. “I don’t care. You have to buy the car.”
“The car license is registered under my name.”
So Wu Wen hangs up and calls Lan Shan to explain. Actually, he has no idea what to explain, so he tells her apologetically that his brother has changed his mind and is now dead set against buying a car. But since the car license is valid for 6-month, why not he leave the deposit with her and wait to see if his brother changes his mind subsequently?
Although the chance of that happening is very remote.
So long as the customer did not withdraw the deposit, Lan Shan need not start the cancellation process per her company’s policy so she is ok with his suggestion. Inwardly, she thinks, I hope your brother has an early recovery (from his supposed mental illness).
* * * * * * * *
Xiao You Cai is in trouble. Their company has decided to interview Mr Maverick and Xiao You Cai is part of the team assigned to meet him. When they do meet however, she discovers to her horror that Mr Maverick is the same ”doll” which she has tried to remove his pants. Scared that he will out the incident, she keep staring at him as if he is going to molest her any second. She cannot recall what was discussed but she knows that he did not accept their consultancy offer. And her supervisor has accused her of causing the deal to fall through because she keeps “leering” at Mr Maverick. As punishment, she is now tasked with the honor to invite Associate Prof (AP) Qiao on board.
Xiao You Cai is near tears. “Lan Shan, what shall I do?”
“Quit your ass! You think it is so easy to find another job? How can you be so cruel to suggest such a thing?”
“Maybe you can sweet talk him around?”
“No, that will not work. You know how good looking he is right? And with his background… in short, he is not the same league as me. Lan Shan, why don’t you help me sweet talk him?”
“Suggestion overruled. He is also not in my league, thank you very much.”
“Then… can you accompany me to apologize to him? He doesn’t look the petty sort.”
“If he is not the petty sort, it only means that he did not reject the offer because of you. If he is the petty sort…”
“I don’t care. You have to come with me to apologize! Besides, you touched his face!”
“And you are the one who wanted to take off his pants.”
“And the same thought has never crossed your mind?”
“I only wondered if you would really take off his pants.”
Xiao You Cai is hopping mad. In the end, she has to threaten Lan Shan that she is not going to help her move to her new house if she does not agree to help her, before the latter agrees to accompany her to see AP Qiao.
Lan Shan is moving house. Her current apartment is very old without facilities, and quite inaccessible from her work place. She has thought of moving out long ago but she has only saved enough recently and find a good location. The new apartment is in the northern part of the city and although it is still quite far from the city center, there is a train station nearby so transport is not an issue. There is also a security system for the new place, with schools and a park nearby. Luckily for Lan Shan, her new landlord is in a hurry to travel overseas and close the deal, she even manages to negotiate a 15% discount by paying him 1 year’s rent in advance.
The two went on to discuss the date and time for Xiao You Cai to help out in the move. As for Mr Maverick, Lan Shan is still not totally convinced. “Is it not better if we wait to see him outside his office instead of attending his lecture?”
“You may not know that many college teachers seldom work from their office now. Intellectuals like him have even less reasons to go to campus since he can simply meditate from home when he has a question he can’t solve.”
“Xiao You Cai, you are not dumb after all.”
* * * * * * * *
Lan Shan’s new apartment is slightly bigger than 50 square meters and consists only of 1 living room and 1 bedroom. Although not spacious, it is sufficient space for 1 person. On Moving House Day, Xiao You Cai appears as promised. Although Lan Shan has hired a mover, the two of them are still pretty beat after all the packing, sorting, unpacking and tidying.
Xiao You Cai envies Lan Shan for her freedom and independence, unlike her who has to put up with her parents constant nagging. Conversely, Lan Shan admires Xiao You Cai. She has a hot meal waiting for her when she knocks off; someone who will remind her to wear warm clothing when the weather turns cold; someone who cares if she sleeps late. Even if they do no nothing, their mere presence means there is someone to sass to, someone to encourage you when you encounter problems… Feeling a bit sad at her own loneliness, Lan Shan concludes that unless you spread your wings, one can never understand how good it is to be staying with one’s parents. Xiao You Cai is really blissful without knowing it!
After Xiao You Cai has completed her end of the promise, it is time for Lan Shan to keep hers.
As Lan Shan and Xiao You Cai make their way to AP Qiao’s lecture, Xiao You Cai’s incessant “AP Qiao” this, “AP Qiao” that, triggers something in Lan Shan’s mind. “I say, his surname is also Qiao? Remember that lunatic I mentioned to you? That guy is also called Qiao.”
“Gosh, both are ‘Qiao’, but how could there be such a heaven and earth difference?”
Lan Shan nods her head in agreement, and bashes her lunatic verbally in her head for the umpteenth time.
Since they are not really here to listen, they have originally thought to just seat at the back row. But when they reached the place, they nearly couldn’t get in. The place is unbelievably crowded!
Xiao You Cai: “Wow! B Uni is really impressive. Their students are so enthusiastic in attending optional modules! During my time, I will skip all optional modules.” <Note from MB: Qiao Feng’s subject is an optional module.>
Lan Shan is also surprise at the turnout. Is quantum physics so popular nowadays? On closer look, she notices that more than half the students are female. Hmmm, the girls of B Uni are really a formidable breed!
After finding seats, they begin to pick up the murmurings around them.
“Why is AP Qiao not here yet?”
“Chill gal! he will be here soon.”
“I can’t help being excited. I actually rejected a date from my boyfriend to attend this class.”
“I understand. I am also skipping my lesson on a compulsory module to be here to support AP Qiao.”
Xiao You Cai and Lan Shan look unbelieving at each other. So the reason for the crowd is due to his appeal? That’s so lame! Lan Shan shakes her head. “I think I am loosing hope in our superficial youths.”
Speaking of superficial, Lan Shan’s beauty has also caught the attention of several male students at the back. One hormone-charged youth takes the seat next to her and tries to strike up a conversation while sending her puppy-eye looks. When she does not seem interested, he tries to scoot closer to her, causing her to seat closer to Xiao You Cai.
Then the atmosphere changes to one of high anticipation when Qiao Feng enters and takes to the podium. To give a more approachable look, Qiao Feng has chosen to wear a white shirt today, with his first button loosened.
When Qiao Feng loads his powerpoint on screen (the first page of which shows displays his full name), the boy next to Lan Shan distracted her with a question so she missed seeing his name. Then the bell rings, Qiao Feng clears his throat and gets ready to start class. Out of habit, he scans the room to gauge his audience attention level and spots Lan Shan and her friend sitting at the back.
Straight away, it occurs to Qiao Feng that she may be here for revenge over the car incident. Actually, he really did not intend to lodge a complaint that day – he has already put the incident behind him by then – but even if she is here for revenge, he doubts he can explain himself. In any case, the most important thing now is to start the class.
Starting with a brief summary, he moves quickly into the lecture proper. He has a melodious voice and even though Lan Shan has no idea what he is talking about, his voice is like a nice pool of water to drown into.
Such a shame! she thinks. This guy is really good-quality stuff!
Lan Shan props her chin on her hand and tries harder to pay attention. Her intent look is no different from any other girl in the room, but because Qiao Feng is wary of her, he starts to feel the pressure at the back of his neck. Thankfully, he is made of fairly stern stuff and he manages to complete his class without misstep.
Lan Shan swears that she has tried her best to comprehend the lecture. Honestly, the past hour to her is no different from listening to Buddhist scriptures in Sanskrit, but thanks to his melodious voice, he has left a good impression on her.
After the class, she approaches him together with Xiao You Cai. Bracing himself to face the inevitable, Qiao Feng invites them to talk outside – if there is to be a brawl, he rather it not happen in the classroom.
As the trio walks through campus, their shadows alternate between long and short, long and short as they pass the street lamps. Unlike the students around them, the three are very quiet – Qiao Feng is never one with a lot of words, Xiao You Cai does not dare to speak… so Lan Shan takes it upon herself to break the awkwardness! so she asks “AP Qiao, what is a quantum?”
Qiao Feng tries to give the simplest explanation he can. “Maz Planck is the pioneer who came up with this term. In the microscopic world, energy is not continuous but sporadic and a quantum is the minimum amount of any physical entity involved in an interaction.”
Lan Shan seems to understand a little. “Ah, so it is like money. The smallest denomination is 1 cent and if you want to spend only half a cent, the shopkeeper will chase you out of the shop?”
Qiao Feng nods.
Lan Shan fingers her chin. “And I thought it is a seed.”
Xiao You Cai finally finds her voice. “You are better than me. I thought she is a Japanese woman.”
“Are you guys joking?” Qiao Feng has never been able to comprehend when people are cracking a joke. If they are, he figures he should smile for good manners.
Xiao You Cai thinks that Mr Maverick probably finds them dumb to the extreme.
Seeing that the atmosphere is no longer so awkward, Lan Shan begins. “AP Qiao, we are actually here to apologize for our earlier misunderstanding.” Although she has no intention of telling him that they had mistook him for an inflatable doll – as if the situation is not bad enough already!
Qiao Feng is someone who responds to sweets, not threats. He accepts their apology and offers them tea at his office as a show of goodwill.
Xiao You Cai thinks that there is hope for the consultancy …
When they reach his office, Lan Shan looks at the name plate on the door and gives him an ominous glare… “You are Qiao Feng?”
“You have a brother called Wu Wen?”
Xiao You Cai cannot believe her eyes. Lan Shan has hit AP Qiao and is now walking away!
Xiao You Cai wavers for a moment between work and friendship, before turning to chase after Lan Shan. When she catches up, she asks: “Lan Shan! What happened?”
Lan Shan is a bit apologetic. “Xiao You Cai, I am so sorry that I cannot control my anger. That’s him! That is the lunatic who filed a complaint against me.”
“Really? That is the louse who stabbed you at the back? You did a great job with that swing.”
“Even if he wants to slap me for our misunderstanding, I am resigned to it. But how can he mix up business with personal stuff! Still, I am really sorry. I am supposed to help you today but I think I have make things worse.”
Xiao You Cai waves her off. “It does not matter, I have not harbored much hope from the start. Besides, it is not likely that I will really get fired for this although Sister Supervisor threatens to.”
Lan Shan strokes her friend’s head. “Ok. I will remember that I am at fault this time. The next time there is a dire situation, it will be my turn first to jump into the fire.”
“It is a deal!”
* * * * * * * *
When Lan Shan reaches her new home, she is still feeling a bit agitated. And when one is agitated, even small things like opening the door is like climbing Mount Everest. Try as she might, the key simply doesn’t fit into the keyhole. Just when she is wondering what happened, she hears a warm voice from behind. “I am going to call the Police.”
Spinning around in fright, she sees Qiao Feng standing behind her. Under the corridor light, he looks very calm and behaves as if the bruise at his eye is only a birthmark.
“Hey mister, are you crazy? You stalk me all the way here only to tell me you are calling the Police? If you want to, should you not say it long ago? Are you slow in comprehension?”
“I am not slow in comprehension.”
Lan Shan is ready to pull her hair. “Where did such a lunatic like you come from? You deny stalking me? Then what are you doing here in the middle of the night?” As the words sink in, Lan Shan starts to feel the first pang of alarm. Perhaps his aim is to find out where she lives so that he can start his real revenge in earnest? Physically, she is no match against a man. If he chooses to…. she does not bear to think further.
“Listen mister, if you think I stay here, you are wrong. This is not my home.”
“I know. This is mine.”
And he takes out a key, unlocks the gate and goes into the house.