Chapter 680: Sudden betrayal
As Xiang Ning, Wu Yuewei and most others were feeling anxious while still harbouring hope and anticipation, Li Wan’er struggled on the brink of life and death once more, enveloped by despair.
Xu Tingsheng was dead.
The two had inexplicably been entangled by fate several times. Yet, it had actually come to a hasty end just like this. The ‘we’re even’ which had been said many times might truly have dissipated with the wind with Xu Tingsheng just like that. For Li Wan’er, though...it was already destined that it would not be eradicated for the rest of her life.
She did not want to forget it too, wasn’t even willing to believe it.
If not for the fact that You Qinglan’s life was also under threat as their fates were intertwined, Li Wan’er would definitely try to do something, even though she did not understand and was not used to such covert, sinister things.
Still, the current situation was such that if she made any rash moves, even if she herself did not fear death, she would almost certainly drag the innocent You Qinglan down with her.
Therefore, she could not do anything at all. Li Wan’er could only live numbly, recalling the bits and pieces that had happened between them which were actually not many…
Afraid that her thoughts would run astray or her health would take a turn for the worse, You Qinglan virtually dared not leave her side.
In the domain of design and by extension the entire fashion world, Li Wan’er’s sudden stillness took countless people by surprise.
Like a legend, a mysterious genius designer who was believed to be able to possibly change the entire course of fashion had shot into fame and suddenly vanished just like that...like a shooting star streaking across the sky.
At the end of 2007, the various award ceremonies for fashion, big and small, all handed out an ownerless, unclaimed trophy.
And so 2008 came.
There was not much time remaining. As Zhou Yuandai moved about non-stop in the market, Xu Tingsheng was still unable to determine how great her determination was, how much she had invested. At this point in time, there was already very little he could do. The sole thing which could push Zhou Yuandai to death was her already crazed mind.
At the end of January, Xiang Ning finished her first semester of twelfth grade. She had improved a lot in her final examinations.
Soon, just a few days after the first snow of winter descended...the Lunar New Year arrived.
Four years ago, she had gone from finding it awkward and unfamiliar to gradually getting used to it and calling on New Year’s Eve. This time, Xiang Ning clutched her phone, not knowing how to dial that number. In the end, she could only send a text to that familiar old number, saying, “Xu Tingsheng, your Xiang Ning’s eighteen now. Happy New Year, prosperity and fortune.”
Then, adjusting her emotions, Xiang Ning called Mr and Mrs Xu and wished them a Happy New Year…
The Xu family’s New Year’s Eve was tranquil and silent. It was their first Lunar New Year without Xu Tingsheng.
In just these mere few months, Mr Xu who was not yet fifty and had originally been full of spirit had already gone to having white brows and silver hair. He was too tired. Not only did he have to bear his own portion, he also had to be like a mountain, supporting everybody else.
Even now, as he received Xiang Ning’s call, he had to be cordial and calm, smilingly comforting and encouraging her…
Afterwards, Mrs Xu and Xu Qiuyi both took over the phone and chatted with Xiang Ning for a while…
In the days without Xu Tingsheng, Xiang Ning seemed to have finally become a part of this family...not because of anything else, only because they were all Xu Tingsheng’s closest, dearest people.
“Auntie, I’ll be attending university next year. Next year, whether he’s returned or not, I’d like to usher in the New Year at our home. Can I?” Xiang Ning asked Mrs Xiang over the phone.
Mrs Xu was taken aback as she vaguely seemed to understand why her son was so set on this young girl.
Sobbing, she said, “Alright. Come, and Auntie will make you some nice food. Little Ning, you’ve got to remember to eat more. Don’t get thin. Otherwise, he’ll be unhappy when he returns.”
“Yes, I will eat more. Auntie, you all must eat more too and take care of your health. He’ll be unhappy too, otherwise.”
“Alright. We’re agreed then. We must all take good care of ourselves so that he’ll be happy.”
At the same time, America, New York.
Through the glass window of the tall building, Xu Tingsheng could frequently spot some excited Chinese who were celebrating the Lunar New Year in the crowd down below…
They were in a foreign land.
Those in a foreign land generally treasured those festivals for reunion in their hometown more.
Xu Tingsheng was waiting for Zhou Yuandai. He had previously made an application, hoping that he could give his family a call tonight. Zhou Yuandai had said that she would come over on New Year’s Eve, giving him an answer in person.
Some time after 11pm, Zhou Yuandai appeared at the doorway.
Xu Tingsheng tried to maintain his calm as much as possible as he returned to the table that was full of Chinese dishes to sit.
Zhou Yuandai sat down opposite him.
“Happy New Year.”
“Happy New Year.”
A simple exchange.
“What a pity. It’s the New Year, and someone has to die on the eve…” Zhou Yuandai cackled sinisterly, taking out that namelist, opening it and placing it before Xu Tingsheng, “I said I’d let you personally choose...so, pick one.”
Xu Tingsheng’s face was full of panic, “Why? I didn’t…”
“Did you really not?” Zhou Yuandai clapped her hands.
A person appeared at the doorway...a bitterly smiling Zhang Xingke.
Xu Tingsheng’s expression changed ceaselessly in that instant. Still, he said nothing at all.
“To be honest, I’m really rather surprised that you chose him...if not coincidentally, I really wouldn’t be able to guess or notice it,” Zhou Yuandai said.
Xu Tingsheng raised his head to look at Zhang Xingke.
“I had no choice...to be honest, I’m still not completely clear on things even now. It’s just that you asked me to do it, so I’d been quietly doing it. Even when someone of Boss Zhou’s came to look for me, I was still befuddled, not knowing the reason. I also didn’t know that things were on so big a scale.”
Zhang Xingke looked candidly at Xu Tingsheng, not feeling burdened by this betrayal as he continued, “I contacted the Wall Street investment banks that you spoke of, agreed on the price. I was about to contact your father like you said, waiting for the funds to arrive...then...they found me. The dark barrel of a gun. Sorry, with my life at stake, I really had no choice. I could only tell them everything. The channels and whatnot, I handed them all over.”
After hesitating for a bit, Zhang Xingke finally showed a hint of guilt for the first time, “Sorry for disappointing you. Still...I’m not the sort to sacrifice myself for anyone.”
“Alright, you can leave first,” Zhou Yuandai waved a hand and cut Zhang Xingke off, “My people will arrange for you to return tomorrow. You will still conduct the trade, just that the funds will be supplied by me. Help me do this and the terms you agreed on with him remain valid. When the matter ends, you will be on Forbes.”
At Zhou Yuandai’s gesture, two black men walked towards Zhang Xingke.
With one final apologetic glance at Xu Tingsheng, Zhang Xingke was led away from the room.
Only Xu Tingsheng and Zhou Yuandai remained, sitting across from each other...
A man and a woman walked behind Xu Tingsheng, standing there.
“You chose him because you knew very well that whichever person by your side that you can possibly still entrust with this matter, they wouldn’t be able to escape my surveillance, right? He’s the most special. Between the two of you, it’s truly the case the interests preside over feelings...it’s easy for me to overlook it and you’ll feel assured. Also, you didn’t tell him the actual situation and reason,” Zhou Yuandai asked.
Xu Tingsheng hesitated for a bit and nodded.
“So, people are still greedy at the end of the day. It’s really no different for you. You cannot suppress it too. While it looks on the surface that you have already depleted all resources in exerting everything you have to manipulate me, in truth, you secretly arranged for someone to purchase a large amount of CDS from Wall Street investment banks...even as you schemed against me, you also sought to privately make up for some of the losses, even earning a big sum.”
Xu Tingsheng did not hesitate this time as he directly nodded.
“Because your period of foreknowledge is truly nearly over. You have no confidence of earning back the funds you misled me to think well of America’s outlook with...so, you were reluctant to give up the opportunity.”
Xu Tingsheng still nodded.
“Very coincidentally, I happened to receive a very covert message regarding someone secretly in talks with a few major investment banks on Wall Street, involving a vast sum. I thought that someone was competing with me...feeling curious, I spent a lot of effort to get to the bottom of this, only discovering that it was him with great difficulty.”
“He was very rational. He said all that should be said. Actually, you should have used someone who is willing to keep the secret for you even in death to do this. Before he spoke up, I still only know that it involved a massive sum. I didn’t know that you were actually seeking to short-sell Wall Street...sadly, your mentality is such that the more those people may be willing to die for you, the more you are reluctant for them to run such a risk.”
She was completely right.
The light in Xu Tingsheng’s eyes grew dim.
As Xu Tingsheng’s mentality collapsed, Zhou Yuandai looked into his eyes, “So, the real economic crisis is in America, in Wall Street.”
Xu Tingsheng verbally replied for the first time, “Yes.”
“Isn’t it a pity? Do you regret it?” Zhou Yuandai could not conceal the triumph in her eyes.
“A little…” Xu Tingsheng answered, “If I hadn’t left a path out of it for myself, I think my plan should have been more successful. Because...you’d already believed it. Sadly, just as you say, human nature contains weaknesses. I wasn’t able to overcome them.”
“Really?” Zhou Yuandai laughed triumphantly, “How about I tell you now then...I actually never completely believed you in the first place.”
“Impossible. You clearly invested a lot.”
“It’s not even one fifth. It can’t kill me,” Zhou Yuandai smiled, “Also, the scale of my funds actually far exceeds your imagination. How about I tell you the extent that I can reach?”
Xu Tingsheng nodded bemusedly.
“Now, having grasped the actual situation, I won’t sell the one fifth worth of CDO and shares. I will even invest another portion...I can pull back the downward trend of Wall Street in the short term, invigorating the confidence of more people to lower the price of CDS, do you believe me?”
“Then, through the channels you established, I will buy CDS multifold...the leverage it brings is great to an insane extent, right? This was your plan from the start.”
Xu Tingsheng did not react this time.
Still, to Zhou Yuandai, this was the best reaction. Through various interactions of real and false, she had finally penetrated through everything, grasping Xu Tingsheng’s true intent and how the future would truly be.Previous Chapter Next Chapter