Chapter 39: Young Master He
“Why aren’t you joining the party?” asked Master He indifferently.
“Everyone there is so very young, handsome, and pretty. It just makes me feel old.” I made up a random excuse.
Master He raised an eyebrow.Without furtherr comments, he walked ahead along the narrow path, moving away from the bustle. I rushed to follow him.
As he silently walked deeper and deeper into the darkness, the atmosphere around him seemed to turn even colder.
Suddenly, he asked, “How did Chu Yuan Jiang and you become a thing?”
“What?” I was confused.
Master He stopped, and looked back at me with his usual straight face. His eyes didn’t betray even a bit of emotion.
So I smiled, and said, “We have been the best friends since childhood.”
“You two are entirely different at heart…” He glanced at the garden as he spoke. “Why do you insist on being so disingenuous when he’s being so very straightforward?”
I smiled, a bit ashamed. “Master He, I am not trying to be evasive. I am just being honest with you. I really know nothing. I don’t know English, I don’t know the local law, I don’t even know how to behave around people. I am simply afraid of ruining your business.”
Master He raised an eyebrow. “All this is easily solved. Translators, lawyers, all of them can be hired if you need them.”
“I know that Master He can solve those kind of trivial problems in the blink of an eye. But that is not the point — the point is I am good for nothing. I can’t even tell those foreign faces apart. Those three, or four-segmented names all sound the same. I know nothing about their customs or etiquette either…”
“Most of the employees are Chinese.”
“But the business is international and so are its rules, right? And all I have run in the past was tantamount to cottage industry. You know, sir – gambling, liquor, women, bribes… the usual. Working the same way here will make me a joke.”
Master He’s eyes narrowed and his voice got a bit colder. “Let me repeat, you don’t need to take care of the company. It is a monopoly, it runs itself. A half-wit would make a fortune at its helm. You will only be there to keep an eye on the operation.”
At this point, I was starting to run low on excuses. “Master He, you must have seen so many other talented people. I am really grateful for this offer, it’s really a honor. A great chance too.. But I have never run such a big business in my life, and I simply don’t trust myself…”
He sneered. “Cut your bullshit. I don’t buy this.”
Obscured by the darkness, I assumed a hurt expression with a timid, awkward smile.
I knew perfectly well how they got into possession of the mine. But they knew enough of my dirty little secrets to be able to make me jump into the murky water if they wanted to.
If anything went wrong in the future, nobody but me would be the one to take the full responsibility while they hid behind a curtain. To be fair, there indeed was gold to be found at the bottom of that fetid pool if one had the guts to dive for it. The arrangement could be made mutually beneficial if one dares to pick it up.
Chu Yuan Jiang had the guts, and didn’t give a fuck if he got dirt on his hands. But I did. The shadiness of this operation exceeded my tolerance threshold.
“Master He…” I squeezed out a nervous smile, “to be honest with you, I… I really am scared… I know that’s a lot of money, and you are offering it to me only because you think highly of me. But I… I don’t dare to take it.”
Master He humphed disdainfully. “Are you still worrying about Lin Ye?”
“…Master He, how can you say that.”
“Such an… excellent job you’ve done back there.”
“It’s not like that… And there’s no point thinking about him now that I and Yuan Jiang are abroad….”
He just studied me with his cold eyes.
“Heh heh….” I was creeped out by his stare, but I could do nothing except to simper.
Eventually, he retracted his probing gaze and said in a plain voice, “Given your personality, I really don’t understand how you and Chu Yuan Jiang can get along.”
I was touched, and sighed. “It’s not easy to find someone that you can be true to. We have been together for over a decade now.”
Master He paused, looking at me thoughtfully. “Were you always on such good terms?”
“We had fallen out before, but we reconciled,” I answered cautiously.
“Why did you bother?”
As I tried hard to recall all these years with Chu Yuan Jiang, my expression became much more sincere. I said quietly, ” If you want to stay together with someone, you need to learn to tolerate each other…”