Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
Inside a karaoke box (KTV) 1
Zhang Shu was singing contentedly at the top of his voice. His voice didn’t sound bad, but Lin Jie could not understand a single word of what he was singing about. Zhang Shu was singing an English song, and he closed his eyes from time to time, body swaying around slightly as if touched by the songs.
Lin Jie crossed his arms before his chest. He was thinking about how to advance further in The New Age. Occasionally, his eyes would shift to the song list, and a resigned feeling would wash over him. The song list comprised fully of English songs and was, of course, all chosen by Zhang Shu.
“We should return after you finished these songs.” Lin Jie rolled his eyes and prepared to sleep for a while.
At that moment, the door was pushed open. Wei Lu came in, holding a tray of tea and melon seeds, wearing a white spaghetti straps top and a super short pink skirt.
Zhang Shu was singing the theme song “GOON” from the movie “The Myth.” At the song’s most touching parts, he closed his eyes and swayed his body to the music, looking as if he was deeply immersed in the music. In comparison, Lin Jie looked super inconspicuous and uncouth—he was seated at a corner of the room, about to doze off.
‘The dog’s meat can’t be served at a feast. Just look at the difference between this pair of cousins!’ Wei Lu shot Lin Jie a look of despise but put on a coy smile as she turned to Zhang Shu, and clapped her hands lightly. “Wow, Elder Cousin sings very well.”
Lin Jie knew too well about Zhang Shu’s personality. He was not a person with good morals. However, Wei Lu was unaware of this. With the expensive clothes he was dressed in, the slightly outstanding vibes he gave off, and his ‘overseas returnee’ status, she thought this person seemed like a sophisticated guy with bourgeoisie sentiments.
Zhang Shu opened his eyes only at the last syllabus of the song. He appeared to be pleasantly surprised when he saw Wei Lu in the room. “Oh, I am so sorry… I was too engrossed just now and didn’t see Gorgeous coming in. Please forgive me.”
Wei Lu giggled, and her fair breasts bounced in her clothes. Zhang Shu almost couldn’t wait to bury his face into them. She chirped coyly, “Oh, think nothing about that. Oh yeah, here are some small complimentary gifts for you. Elder Cousin can call for me anytime if you need a beer or other drinks, I will be waiting.”
“Oh, thank you very much. I don’t really like to eat when I am singing. But my cousin here is a glutton, hahaha! Cousin, why don’t you order some tidbits? How about some prawn crackers or grilled dried squids?” Zhang Shu shot Lin Jie a look from the corners of his eyes, gesturing him to order some food.
Lin Jie pursed his lips. “One set of prawn crackers costs $28 while a set of grilled dried squids costs $50 here. Why should I buy here when I can buy it elsewhere at packets of $3-5?”
Wei Lu couldn’t keep up with the pretense anymore. She was always very observant. One should not judge her by her seemingly coy-but-brainless appearance, as not many men could actually make it to her bed. She just considered having sex with them as a small price to pay for their loyalties to her and treated the process as being bitten and licked by some inferior beings. She would then manipulate those brainless thugs to help her man her territories for free, and even pocket most of the protection fees those thugs got from her boss.
Hearing Lin Jie’s comments, Wei Lu couldn’t help but crease her forehead slightly. Then, she commented, “You were always stingy like that. It’s no wonder you will forever remain poor and ungracious.”
Zhang Shu was staring greedily at Wei Lu and could not care less for the fact that she was insulting his relative. In fact, he even agreed with her, “Your words are blunt, but they are true, indeed.”
Lin Jie’s face immediately turned gloomy. He didn’t like Zhang Shu in the first place, and now Zhang Shu was not only flirting around with Wei Lu, but also insulting him instead of siding with him?
“Oh, forget it, I will buy some tidbits. May I know your name, gorgeous? How about this, let me treat you, and you shall sing a song with me?” Zhang Shu took the menu and ordered a few packets of dried fruits and candied plums. He also ordered two bottles of cocktails which cost $350 per bottle. Wei Lu saw the magnanimity with which he ordered the food and felt that she couldn’t refuse him. Hence, she agreed to his request.
All the tidbits and beer arrived in a short while.
“Cousin, why don’t you go out and take a walk?” Zhang Shu picked up the two bottles of cocktails and was in a hurry to shoo Lin Jie out of the room. This small room was a suitable place for couples to have intimate acts.
Lin Jie sat nonchalantly on the sofa. He grabbed a few candied plums and threw them into his mouth, propping his left leg up to his right thigh. He opened his eyes only ever so slightly as if he did not hear what Zhang Shu said.
Zhang Shu creased his forehead and was about to open his mouth when Wei Lu stopped him. “Forget it, he’s such a nuisance and mood-spoiler. I still need to serve other customers so I will take my leave now.”
With that, she picked up the cocktails which cost $350 per bottle and strutted to the door. Before she left, she turned and looked at Lin Jie, shaking her head.
“Lin Jie, considering the fact that we have once dated before, let me give you a piece of advice. As the common saying goes, ‘like water which flows downwards naturally, all men will strive upwards to achieve their best.’ If you continue having this attitude, you will never make any achievements in your life.”
Lin Jie raised his eyelids. “I will return this piece of advice to you. Wei Lu, don’t think I cannot see through your tricks, you are just trying to earn more money by selling these cheap wines to this idiot here. Such low-class wine costs $350 per bottle? Its actual price should be around $20+, correct? Isn’t your job just to get the customers to buy these items on the menu? Only idiots would believe that you would really sing with them.”
Wei Lu was stunned for a moment. After which, she sneered loudly. “Hmph, do you think I am one of those gold-diggers? I wouldn’t leave if not for the fact that you messed up the whole ambiance. Forget it, best to say nothing to you. After all, with such a narrow-minded mindset, you could never be put to any good use or achieve anything great. Why should I even argue with you? Such a waste of my time. Goodbye!”
“Oh, please don’t leave! Gorgeous Wei Lu, I really do like you. My main purpose of coming here is just to request for you to sing a song with me. If you agree to it, I can even buy the whole KTV for you!” Zhang Shu held onto Wei Lu’s arms and said in a loving tone, at the same time attempting hard to show off his wealth.
Lin Jie rolled his eyes.
‘Buy the KTV? Just by you alone?’
Zhang Shu’s family was at most just within the middle-high socio-economic status range. How would he have the ability to buy a KTV? He was just trying to cheat Wei Lu to have sex with him!
At that moment, Zhang Shu’s body flew out, and he was thrown onto the sofa, lying face down, with a big bump on his forehead. A huge man marched in, his arms covered with tattoos and his hair all dyed white. He had a sinister look on his face, and he sneered loudly. “Ohhh, am I actually meeting a rich guy for real now? Little Lu, I just heard him say he would buy the whole KTV for you.”
Wei Lu looked disgustedly at Zhang Shu and commented, “This guy is full of lies. Buy the KTV? If he had such money, he wouldn’t just be drinking the wines which cost a few hundred dollars here!”
“Hahaha, great, since you dislike this guy’s mouth, I shall settle it for you.” This lad was named Brother Ben and was one of Wei Lu’s backers. Unlike the other thugs which Wei Lu considered low-class, Brother Ben was different, and Wei Lu gave in to his requests obediently; all for the fact that Brother Ben had about 30 plus followers and great power within the district. He was famous for being employed by people to man their territories and could be considered a great tyrant.
Another punch landed on Zhang Shu!
‘Hmm, not bad, his strength’s pretty good. In any case, thugs have fought their way to the top, and their muscles are trained by all these fights. Though they are comparable to commoners who like to work out, I don’t think they can be as strong as me,’ Lin Jie contemplated the differences between the thugs and himself secretly when he saw Zhang Shu get beaten up by the thugs. He couldn’t be bothered to help him. After consuming the nutrient serums Zheng Ziliang had given him, his body had improved tremendously and was much stronger than the thug, Brother Ben.
In any case, Lin Jie had been very rich in his previous life, and thus he had gotten a lot of battling techniques books and had gone through a lot of training methods. In fact, he could even be considered professionally trained. In terms of battling techniques, even if five thugs like Brother Ben attacked him at once, they wouldn’t be able to beat him.
Zhang Shu felt he was really done for this time! As his head was being punched continuously, he stretched out his hand and called dizzily, “Cousin, help me!”
Brother Ben stopped then and finally noticed Lin Jie, who was munching on dried fruits at a corner of the room. He laughed coldly. “Ha, such a wimp! You actually hid there for all this while? You, come over now!”
Lin Jie raised his eyelids.
“Get over here, now!” barked Brother Ben. His followers moved around excitedly as they made snide remarks at Lin Jie. “You lousy chap, did your mum forget to give you ears when she gave birth to you?”
“Small b*stard, get over now!”
Lin Jie’s face darkened. He did not care if he was insulted, but those who dared to insult his family were courting for their deaths!
“What a useless bump who didn’t grow ears. I will teach you a lesson on behalf of your papa and mama!” Brother Ben sneered, clenched his fists, and the veins showed on the back of his fists. In just a few steps, he closed the distance between him and Lin Jie and punched towards Lin Jie’s head!
A figure flew out, but it was not Lin Jie. It was Brother Ben! Who could mess around with Lin Jie, with his enhanced physical capabilities now? He was no weak scholar, and his reaction speed was fast. When Brother Ben brought his fist down on Lin Jie’s head, Lin Jie had already kicked him accurately in his stomach, and his fist also reached Brother Ben’s chest at the same time. Thus, Brother Ben just flew out helplessly when he was about to punch down on Lin Jie.
“Looking for death!” Lin Jie cursed loudly, bent his body and followed after in the direction Brother Ben flew out. He pinched on Brother Ben’s chin and smashed his face against the wall! Brother Ben groaned loudly and actually fainted.
“Damn, this fellow’s ferocious!”
“Brother Ben has gone through training, and his strength is comparable to that of an amateur gym coach!”
The thug’s followers panicked. Just when they were about to leave a few fierce remarks the likes of ‘how dare you to mess with us on our territories,’ Lin Jie had already rushed in front of them like a leopard. He grabbed two thugs’ throats, mustered up his strength, and actually held both of them up in the air! However, his arms were trembling like crazy. That was the sign of him depleting all his strength!
The two thugs were thrown out by Lin Jie, and they fell heavily to the ground. They still felt suffocated even though Lin Jie had long let go of their throats and were gasping loudly. Lin Jie turned around and asked coldly, “Who’s the one who called me a b*stard just now?”
“I… I am wrong, I am so wrong!” A yellow-haired thug, who had a lot of ear studs on his left ear, trembled and apologized profusely. He was afraid of being beaten up. After all, they were the ones who tried bully Lin Jie first. As long as Lin Jie did not beat them until they became paralyzed, he wouldn’t need to hold any responsibility for what happened today.
At that moment, the fainted Brother Ben vomited dryly. The stench of his vomit—all the food and drinks he consumed before—filled the air in the room.
Zhang Shu was stunned. Wei Lu was stunned. All the people who witnessed this scene gaped in horror, and time seemed to stop for the moment.
Until Brother Ben fainted again and started vomiting white foam from his mouth, did someone start to shriek loudly at the top of their voices.
“Hurry, call for an ambulance!”
“Send him to the hospital! Attendant, are you an idiot!? Call the ambulance!”
Everyone hurriedly lifted Brother Ben out of the room. Those who knew Brother Ben looked at Lin Jie with scared looks on their faces.
“Cousin, you…” As Zhang Shu saw Brother Ben being lifted out by people, he swallowed a mouthful of saliva nervously.
Wei Lu covered her mouth, and her chest rose and fell rapidly from what she witnessed a while ago. She simply couldn’t believe what she had seen, and her heart beat fast despite the numerous deep breaths she had taken in to calm herself down.
Was that really the Lin Jie she knew? The one who was such a wimp?
After venting all of his frustration, Lin Jie felt bolder and more reckless. He stared at Zhang Shu coldly. “Let’s go, we should return home now.”
“Yes… yes.” Zhang Shu followed Lin Jie out of the room hurriedly.
Wei Lu inhaled deeply, took out a membership card and curved up her lips in a smile which she thought was the most seductive. She said in a sweet voice, “Brother Jie, just take these tidbits as a small gesture from me. Will you be interested in having dinner together with me at the Rose Heavens tonight?”
Zhang Shu’s eyes almost popped out in envy. Who didn’t know what services Rose Heavens offered? It was a place where couples could have dinner and then spend the night over for free. In essence, it was a famous place for couples to make out! That fellow had not only shown off in front of everyone, but now he had even gotten the chance to make out with a pretty girl. Comparing their fates this night, Zhang Shu’s small pride bubble was burst, and he felt like a loser.
Lin Jie looked interestedly at the face which he was smitten with once, smiled politely, and pinched Wei Lu’s smooth face with two fingers. Wei Lu tried to keep the ‘captivating’ smile on her face and thought she was dazzling Lin Jie with the lovingly looks she showed him. But as time passed, she felt as if his hands were metal claws clamping down on her face…
“Ouch, it’s painful, let go!” Wei Lu screamed loudly.
When Lin Jie finally let go, her face was swollen, and her lips were bruised. Lin Jie took up the membership card and left without turning back.
Lin Jie had his hands kept in the pockets of his trousers, while he remained silent on his way home. Zhang Shu followed behind.
“Cousin… my classmate is looking for me,” Zhang Shu finally could not stand the heavy air between the two of them and made an attempt to run away from this scary cousin.
Lin Jie couldn’t help but laugh. “What? So you finally had enough of bragging in front of my sister?”
“Hehe, heh, heh.” Zhang Shu laughed dryly, waved the mobile phone in his hands and proceeded to leave.
“What’s the hurry?” Lin Jie pulled on Zhang Shu’s clothes, took out the mobile phone in his pocket and deleted his mum’s and Xiaoxue’s contacts from the phone.
“Don’t ever appear in front of me again from today onwards. Don’t try to find out news about Xiaoxue, or else, you will end up like that thug.”
When he released his hold, Zhang Shu fell down to the ground with a loud thud. He picked himself up and quickly got away.
Elder Cousin Zhang Shu was a thorough pedophile! He used to loiter outside the high schools and made use of his status as an overseas returnee, and a second-hand Benz -which was bought from only God knew where- to cheat young, pretty girls to get into his car, on the excuse that he would drive them home. On the journey, he would sweet-talk them into having sex with him.
His main motive for this trip was Lin Xiaoxue.
However, Lin Jie guessed most probably he would be scared of doing such misdeeds for the time being, especially after his threats today.
The summer nights after the college entrance examinations were filled with laughter and utmost happiness at being freed from studying for many people. Lin Jie couldn’t help but smile a little as he felt the hot breeze brushed past his cheeks. Thinking back, what had once been the place where he had sworn never to return to, was now the only sanctuary in his memories.
Zheng Ziliang was holding a big watermelon by the roadside and grinning widely without a care about his own image. There was a watermelon stall in front of him. Several greedy kids were eyeing the watermelons, and so he took out one, sliced it open and distributed the pieces to with the kids.
His Rolls-Royce was parked in one of the small alleyways just beside the stall.
“Giving a helping hand again?” Lin Jie squatted down, took up a piece of watermelon and started munching on it. He looked around and laughed. “I guess the other stall owners are blaming you for interrupting their businesses.”
Zheng Ziliang gave a wave of his hands. “Well, they can concentrate on doing their business, while I concentrate on being my Lei Feng 2 .”
Zheng Ziliang came from a wealthy family—his family’s level of wealth had reached the point where it could comfortably last him for his whole life even if he indulged in an extravagant lifestyle. He also had two extreme sides of personality; extremely kind and extremely overbearing. One moment, he could be so kind as to give away all the money he had to poor people or some patients with leukemia, who were desperately trying to raise funds to cure their illness. The next, if people tried to behave rudely to him, he would have no qualms in employing tens of hatchet men and then ordering them to lift up those insolent fellows and bump their groins against a roughly-barked tree.
In Lin Jie’s previous life, Zheng Ziliang had not achieved a lot in the game. That had a lot to do with him being distracted and doing all sorts of good deeds.
At that moment, a little girl with two pigtails and wearing a piece of old and tattered short-sleeved floral shirt came up to him. “Uncle, can you give me something to eat? I am so hungry.”
Zheng Ziliang agreed and even chose one of the biggest watermelons he had for her. However, it was too heavy for the little girl, so he asked Lin Jie to look after the stall while he carried the watermelon to the girl’s house.
It took him near to three hours before he was finally back. He only returned when Lin Jie was about to finish off a whole watermelon. He had given parts of it away to passersby too.
“Hop in!” Zheng Ziliang drove his Rolls-Royce over to fetch Lin Jie and left amidst the astonished stares of the nearby stall owners.
“Selling watermelons when he actually drives in such an expensive car? Is he crazy!?”
“He’s not selling, just giving them away!”
“Aish, I have no more business anyway. These watermelons I have will most probably be spoiled by tomorrow. Forget it, I will just give them away to people.”
The Rolls-Royce stopped in front of a 4-star hotel. Zheng Ziliang dragged Lin Jie down the car, booked a private dining room and started ordering tons of dishes. He took several bottles of red wine and downed them all at a go.
Lin Jie raised his brows. He sipped a mouthful of the red wine—the rich sweetness of the wine hinted that this wine would most probably cost around a few thousand dollars per bottle. He shook his head and commented, “Hey, you should get beer if you want to get drunk. It’s cheaper, and you can drink more of it.”
“I am just pretending to get drunk to enjoy the ambiance. Who would really enjoy getting drunk, vomiting and then losing all consciousness!” Zheng Ziliang glared at Lin Jie. He drank another mouthful of the red wine and sighed heavily. “That little girl lives with her old granny, who is paralyzed. Her father has run away, while her mother is sick and stays in the hospital. All this while, she had been making a living from picking up any litter she could find from the streets, then selling them off to buy a few buns so that she and her granny will not starve to their deaths…”
Lin Jie kept silent. These types of tragedies were happening all around the world.
No one could be spared from noticing such events happening. It was either they had trained themselves to become hard-hearted, or else they had intentionally avoided the pitiful in the first place.
“I wanted to help them, but…” Zheng Ziliang gulped down another mouthful of the red wine. Even if that was high-class red wine, one could get drunk by drinking non-stop like what Zheng Ziliang was doing now. He had already begun to feel dizzy. “But I also feel so guilty, for I had only been able to help people using the money my parents gave me! I can’t believe I have actually even resorted to this kind of tactics…”
“F*ck it, I also want to earn money, but…”
Zheng Ziliang was drunk, which was obvious by all the vulgarities he was spewing at Lin Jie now. Lin Jie poured white vinegar silently into his wine glass, stared at the table full of food in front of them, and shook his head in resignation.
Lin Jie and Zheng Ziliang had known each other due to a misunderstanding. Once, the philanthropic Zheng Ziliang was carrying loads of money to save the poor but was robbed of all his money by robbers who had been eyeing him and following him around secretly. They had even stripped him of the expensive clothes he was wearing. At that time, Lin Jie had met the beggar-like Zheng Ziliang, given him his own shirt and even treated him to a meal. He had given the pocket money he had saved up, just tens of dollars, to Zheng Ziliang so he could have the money to go home.
To Lin Jie, he had just thought he had met some gullible fellow who had been cheated of his money at some internet cafe while playing truant.
Who would have predicted that he and Zheng Ziliang would become table mates the first day they had reported to their high school?
Come to think of it, that whole encounter did seem a lot like the ‘friends’ version of ‘Cinderella.’
“Damn it!” Zheng Ziliang downed the white vinegar in his wine glass and spat it out. He was definitely sober now.
“I have an idea if you want to earn money,” Lin Jie leaned against the back of his chair, “how’s your progress in The New Age?”
Zheng Ziliang replied him nonchalantly, “Oh, that game? I am at Level 3 now.”
“This game can help you earn money.”
“True or not?”
Lin Jie took out his mobile phone, logged in to the bank account which was linked to his game account and showed a figure to Zheng Ziliang: $4,800.
“This…” Zheng Ziliang wiped his face, “is this what you earned from the past half month?”
“Yes. I earned it with my bare hands, and I am not messing with you now,” said Lin Jie seriously. “You concentrate on leveling up first, there will be opportunities to earn money half a month later.”
Zheng Ziliang pondered for a while and took out his own mobile phone.
“What are you doing?” asked Lin Jie quizzically.
“Oh, I am asking for some money from my parents. Since you said there will be opportunities for me to earn money by playing the game, then it will definitely work! But I should have some initial capital, shouldn’t I?” Zheng Ziliang was talking to himself now. “How about $50,000? Is that too little though?”
Lin Jie spurted out the wine he was drinking.
Who would have predicted that a rich hunk like Zheng Zilang would become best friends with him?
“Rich guy, let’s be friends.” Lin Jie laughed sarcastically.
“We are friends already,” answered Zheng Ziliang seriously.
“Then… Rich guy, will you be my son then?”
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