This is a chapter where there is no Qiao Feng but where everything is about him. We learn more about his student days, his quirky ways, and a small secret -woohoo! Someone is a cheater in more than one sense of the word.
Chapter 52: The Past
Lan Shan receives a call from Xie Feng Sheng, the financial consultant who has declined to take her on as a client previously. He is a prolific consultant with a shiny degree from a distinguished university and has worked in Walls Street before returning to China to start a successful consultancy. He is not the kind to entertain small investors like Lan Shan, which is why she is curious about his sudden request to meet up.
When they meet at a café, Xie Feng Sheng can sense her question and outs his reason instead of beating around the bush. “Do not think that this is my idea. Qiao Feng insists that I take you on as a client and says that I can think of managing your money as if it is last digit in his account.”
Last digit…. Lan Shan does not know whether to or laugh or to cry. Although she is not rich, she has saved three hundred over thousand after slogging for years, but to another person, it is only the last digit of his balance sheet? How is she expected to feel? Seeing her reaction, Xie Feng Sheng quickly adds. “I heard that you are friends with him so I am being frank. Please do not take any offence.”
She shakes her head. “No worries. Yes, we are friends so I guess I have to trouble you with my money matters.” She must remember to thank Qiao Feng too when she sees him next time. That rascal, he has certainly kept a tight lid and not breathe a word to her before this.
Xie Feng Sheng takes out a contract and after explaining it to her, she signs on it on the spot. He gives her a curious look. “Are you sure you have understood all that I have told you just now?”
“I understood none of it.” Lan Shan put the last stroke of her signature on paper and caps the pen. “But you are a professional so I trust you.” Xie Feng Sheng does not believe that she can be so trusting towards a man whom she has only met twice until she adds. “And the most important thing is, I trust Qiao Feng.”
Xie Feng Sheng smiles as he keeps the contract. “Now I can believe that the 2 of you are friends. To speak the truth, I am a little skeptical when I heard about the “friends” bit as Qiao Feng is not the kind of person who has lots of friends, as I am sure you already know.”
“Why not? He is fairly easy to get along with.”
“It is because he does not see the need to. So long as he has enough friends to satisfy basic social niceties, it will be enough for him. Too many friends will actually stress him as he will then have to spend time and effort to maintain the relationships.” That sounds logical to Lan Shan but the realization that she can follow Qiao Feng’s thought process makes her feel a little unsettled.
Xie Feng Sheng continues. “Moreover, he is someone who expects a lot from himself and his friends so to him, most people will not be deemed worthy of any notice much less make it to the friendship mark. Please excuse my curiosity but do you mind if I ask how did the 2 of you come to be friends? Pardon my bluntness, but from what I can see, you do not strike me as extraordinary besides the way you looks.”
Hello mister, can you be less blunt? Tapping her nose, she finally answers. “Actually, I do not know the reason myself. Perhaps we have affinity?”
“Affinity? Qiao Feng does not believe in affinity; only statistics, science and logic. However I believe in affinity and feel that we may end up meeting another person in live even if it is just one second earlier or later. But since he thinks of you as a friend, it only goes to show that there is something about you that he agrees with.”
Lan Shan shakes her head. “Actually, he thinks that I am stupid and would remind me of that at least once a day.”
“That is his problem. To him, 8.5 out of 10 people are dumb; you should just ignore him on this one.”
Lan Shan decides to turn the question back to him. “So, does he think that you are dumb too?” When Xie Feng Sheng snorts, Lan Shan starts to feel better. If Qiao Feng thinks that a University of Pennsylvania graduate is dumb, surely it is not much of an insult if he thinks the same of her too? But she has not forgotten about his “brain surgery” remark she asks further. “Do you mind it, when he says that you are dumb?”
“Why should I mind? To me, I am only looking at his money, not the person.”
Still, now that they have started talking, Lan Shan suddenly finds that she has a lot of questions for him. “Did you get to know Qiao Feng when the both of you are overseas?”
“Can you tell me a bit more on how were things then?”
“He was barely 19 when he came to study in the States by himself. Being rich and sheltered, he is like a plump, juicy lamb that many would like to sink their teeth in.”
“Huh, surely you exaggerate? Did he get cheated?”
“Him? Get cheated?” Xie Feng Sheng heh-heh-heh a bit before pointing to his brain. “If it is a lie, it will contain a bug, and Qiao Feng is probably born with a brain that comes installed with a bug detector. Unless it is someone who is better than him at logical thinking, how can he get cheated? At the very most, he will just out the lie and make the liar feel embarrassed.” Lan Shan can imagine the scene and thinks that things can get pretty funny.
“Still, he catches on pretty quickly. He knows that he must hide his wealthy background so he is very low-key in school. Besides me, I doubt that anyone else knows that he is wealthy.”
That is good, Lan Shan thinks to herself. “Does he have any girlfriends?” At his strange look, she quickly clarifies. “I am just asking out of curiosity.”
“I know. In fact, Qiao Feng has a lot of woman chasing after him. Asians, Hispanics, Caucasians, you name it.”
“Really?” Lan Shan finds this hard to believe. “But doesn’t overseas girls prefer guys who are bigger, more muscular?”
“I cannot understand that part as well, but I did remember a girl from our school telling me that ‘every girl wants to have sex with Joe’.”
Xie Feng Sheng says the last phrase in rapid English which is too fast for her. “I beg your pardon, can you repeat the last bit?”
Xie Feng Sheng explains in mandarin. “Every girl wants to sleep with him.”
Wow, these American sisters are really direct! Recollecting her reaction to his cat ears yesterday, Lan Shan feels a bit more at ease now to know that she is not alone in that department. Shaking off her thoughts, “So what happened in the end? With so many ladies after him, surely he has to choose one?”
“Yup, he has to choose. If not, the number of suitors will only keep growing which will not be to his advantage.”
“Whom did he choose in the end?” The moment the words left her mouth, Lan Shan realizes that she is actually a little nervous to hear the answer.
Xie Feng Sheng looks like someone who is remembering a fun tidbit. “I am not sure if you are interested to know about his selection process? To be frank, I have never come across any quite like it.”
“Yes, do tell me.”
“He set up an examination.”
“Examination?” Lan Shan is dumb folded.
“Yes. He put everyone in a hall and gave them a test paper each. Of course, it sounded easier than what really happened because he had to first eliminate away those whose IQ is way too low, or the man who is pretending to be woman, etc. There is a mock paper, a final paper, followed by an interview. With each round, he managed to eliminate more and more candidates until there is only one.”
Lan Shan has never heard of such a thing. “Wow, this is so complicated. Are you sure there are enough people to take the test?”
“Sure there are. In fact, the examination hall can get pretty heated with all the action. Ah, I still have the examination paper with me. If there are people who ask me now if Qiao Feng has a girlfriend, I will let them take the paper. If they score below 60, I will tell them to forget about him.”
Lan Shan licks her lips that have suddenly gone dry. “May…. May I try?”
“Sure you can. The questions are in my iPad. Let me retrieve it for you.”
He has even turn the paper into an application? Lan Shan opens the test and chooses the simplified Chinese option. Suddenly feeling shy, she asks Xie Feng Sheng if she can make a copy of the questions so that she can try it out in her iPad. Xie Feng Sheng understands that she is worried of holding up his time and shakes his head. “Don’t worry, you can take your time to play around. I can use the time to read some documents.”
“If that is the case, thanks.” Lan Shan holds the iPad and looks at the first question. Funny, she does not understand. After a difficult moment….
“Excuse me, can you explain this question to me?”
He is a little curious. “Didn’t you choose the simplified Chinese option? Although you get extra points if you choose a language option that is not your mother tongue, I can tell you that it is not that easy.”
“I did choose simplified Chinese, then after that, I do not understand.”
“If I help to explain the question, do you think you will be able to figure out the answer?”
“If that is the case, just try your luck and use your powers of imagination.”
Seems like she does not have much choice. Her fingers fly over the iPad and she manages to finish a 2-hour paper in 10 minutes. When it comes to the last question which is an open-ended question, she types “Qiao Feng is a psychopath!”
When Lan Shan passes the iPad back to Xie Feng Sheng, he keys in something to the iPad which will compute her scores automatically. Looking at the screen, he smiles. “I really have to salute you.”
“Really?” Lan Shan feels a little flutter in her chest. “How many points did I get?”
“You manage to avoid all the correct answers and achieve a perfect 0. This is quite a distance from the passing mark.”
Lan Shan slumps dejectedly. “I think I can finally understand why he is always making fun of my intelligence.”
He comforts her. “There is no need to feel sad. We are only normal people. He is the one who is weird.”
Although she can also choose to see it that way, Lan Shan finds it hard to shrug off her score just like that. Seeking justification, she asks Xie Feng Sheng. “This is such a sicko paper, is there anyone who passed?”
“There are. In fact, someone even scored full marks.”
Man should really never compare himself with others so Lan Shan shuts up. At her silence, Xie Feng Sheng is curious. “Why are you not asking me about the person whom Qiao Feng choose in the end?”
Lan Shan grimaces. “I already know who she is.”
Chapter 53: Depress
Su Luo is surprised to see a missed call from Song Zi Cheng when she finished her yoga class.
Flushed from exercise, her healthy hue brings out her beautiful features and she attracted many admiring glances when she stands beside a shaded tree to return the call. However, her excited air has changed into a frown by the time she ends the call.
When you receive a call from your ex-boyfriend at 3.30pm on a work day, asking you in a business-like tone if you are free for a chat….. there could be many possibilities but none would include rehashing about their lost love.
Mocking herself for her disappointment, she tells herself that all man are the same – in with the new; out with the old. How can she expect Song Zi Cheng to remember her when he has a new target now? They agreed to meet at a café close to Su Luo and she purposely drags her feet to appear after Song Zi Cheng has reached the venue.
Looking at her, Song Zi Cheng shakes his head at her beautiful aura and doe-like eyes, which at the very moment, are a little red due to some strong emotion. “I really admire this side of you. It is obvious that you do not really like me all that much but yet you must put up a front like you cannot forget me. If I am like Tan Zi, I will probably fall for your act but I am really curious. How many men has fallen for this trick of yours and how many spare tyres do you have?”
Su Luo is so angry that her face turns white. “What do you mean by that remark?!”
“Please don’t be angry. Actually, we are both the same at heart except I can probably restrain myself better.” He did not explain how he thinks he is better since he is after her cooperation today and not here to pick a quarrel with her. He pours a cup of tea for her then for himself. “I invited you today to ask you this – are you going after Qiao Feng?”
She gives him a cold smile. “Don’t you forget Song Zi Cheng, that we are no longer together. Whoever I am going after or whoever is chasing after me is none of your concern.”
He nods. “It is indeed none of my business. I do not wish to interfere either but if you are really chasing after him, you must know that Qiao Feng is very close with Lan Shan recently.”
Su Suo burst out in shrilly laughter. Her deliberate screech is like the caterwauling from a female ghost and Song Zi Cheng has to clamp down the urge to slap her. After she has stopped laughing, she speaks. “So you have arranged this meeting because of Lan Shan. Song Zi Cheng, you are really no better than me.”
Song Zi Cheng: “My business is none of your concern but do you understand where I am coming from?”
“Lan Shan, Lan Shan,” Su Luo tests the sound of the name around her tongue. “This woman is really something.”
“Please don’t say so. She is different from you so there is really no basis for comparison.”
“If she is not, why would you and Qiao Feng be so enamored of her?”
“That is simple.” He leans forward slightly and looks at her sincerely. “Because she is not pretentious.”
That sparks Su Luo ire again. “What do you mean!”
“My meaning is – we can cooperate on this. You take care of Qiao Feng while I take care of Lan Shan. What do you think?”
“Why are you so sure that I want to be back together with Qiao Feng?”
“I saw a video clip of you at your friend’s wedding.” Looking at her twisted features, he wisely refrained from elaborating further. This is one woman would rather be humiliated by a man than show an imperfect front to others.
“It is none of your business what happened between me and Qiao Feng. Similarly, it is not my concern what happens between you and Lan Shan. From henceforth, my well water and your river water shall never mix. Good bye!”
Song Zi Cheng did not attempt to stop her but his next words are deadpan. “It is possible for Qiao Feng to accept an ex-girlfriend who has cheated on him, but he will never accept an ex- girlfriend who cheated in examinations.”
Su Luo stops and stares at him. “What rubbish are you talking about?!”
Song Zi Cheng looks at her steadily. “Especially, a girlfriend who cheated in his examination.” Seeing that she is listening, Song Zi Cheng knows that this is her cue of caving and continues. “My aim is very simple. If you can help me, that will be great. If you cannot, please do not come and disturb my relation (with Lan Shan) when you are successful. Or make things difficult for Lan Shan. Knowing you, I am sure you are capable of doing both.”
Su Luo smirks coldly at him before leaving.