“Your dad actually wants you to go home?” Yue Wen Wen asked while biting the straw, “Will you go back? If he’s celebrating his birthday, won’t the whole family…” Upon reaching this part, Yue Wen Wen hurriedly changed his words. “Won’t there be a whole bunch of relatives?”
Ji Ran leaned against the wall, his gaze hidden by a hat that concealed his emotions.”I haven’t thought about it.”
Yue Wen Wen had said that he missed the milk tea near his alma mater, so he had dragged them to the milk tea shop today.
“How about not going? Don’t blame me for being straightforward but all your relatives are the kind to look down on others.” Yue Wen Wen was worried.
Ji Ran didn’t reply. Most of his attention was focused on the wall at the side, and he let out a sigh after confirming there wasn’t any familiar handwriting.
He took a sip of his milk tea and asked, “Why aren’t you talking?”
Cheng Peng raised an eyebrow, as if he’d just noticed them. “Nothing, what were you guys saying?”
Ji Ran turned to Yue Wen Wen. “What’s up with him?”
“What else? Didn’t you see that Chen An isn’t around today?” Yue Wen Wen immediately hit the nail on the head.
Cheng Peng evidently didn’t want to talk about this matter. “Qin Man isn’t here either.”
“Why did you drag him into this?”
Last night, Qin Man had applied for some time off, saying that he was meeting an old friend.
Coincidentally, a few groups of students playing truant passed the shop, tickling Yue Wen Wen’s heart. “Should we go back and take a look?”
“No.” Ji Ran refused without hesitation. “Go on your own.”
The lady boss brought over some snacks, effectively interrupting them.
“I fried some chicken today, you guys try it.” As she laid the plate in front of Ji Ran, she said, “I wanted to let you try it the last time you came, but I didn’t expect that you’d left just after I’d finished frying some.”
Ji Ran wanted to stop her, but it was too late.
“Very well, you actually came here behind my back! When was this?”
“I was just passing by…”
“It was just recently.” Speaking of this, the lady boss looked at Yue Wen Wen worriedly and spoke reservedly. “Xiao Wen, I’ve already let Ji Ran take away that piece of paper.”
Yue Wen Wen was stunned. “Paper? What paper?”
“Nothing.” Ji Ran cut in. “Auntie, can you get me another cup, same as before.”
Yue Wen Wen murmured, “But you still have so much left.”
Ji Ran rolled his eyes. “Why do you care?”
After the lady boss left, Cheng Peng went back to his usual self and sat up straight. “Recently, I’ve discovered something.”
“There’ll be a piece of land at Wang Xing for auction at the end of this month. Wang Xing seems to be the new area for development and I reckon there’ll be a new business district there in less than a decade.”
“Why are you telling us about this?” Yue Wen Wen asked.
Fiddling with the lighter in his hand, Ji Ran remained silent.
Cheng Peng only glanced at him lightly before continuing, “Many companies are eyeing it and our company also has some interest in it, so we got someone to look into it. The owner of that land… is surnamed Qin.”
Qin Man threw the file containing the list of IP addresses onto the table.
“Just tell me, no need to give me all these figures.”
“Understood.” Liu Chen took back the file. “After careful examination, from the list of friends and family of Mr Ji who took part in spreading the rumours, there were indeed repeated usernames. However, they were extremely cautious and this sort of incident only appeared twice. This group of people are extremely professional and have thousands of active accounts; their usual job is to give celebrities positive exposure and control the conversation.”
“Have you given these to the team of lawyers?”
“Yes. The team has already voiced their request for a peaceful resolution and have agreed to pay a sum to compensate Mr Ji. They are also willing to put up an apology on their page for three months.” Liu Chen couldn’t help but sigh as he recalled how the representative had stammered in front of their team of lawyers.
Even though the representative was a person who had seen many things, he didn’t expect there would be a day he’d sit down face-to-face to have coffee with a team of five top lawyers.
“There won’t be a peaceful resolution.” Qin Man said unhurriedly. “The compensation and apology will have to wait until the verdict is out.”
Liu Chen nodded. “Also, the account holder… has been found.”
“It’s Hu Rui, the assistant of a board manager. Their boss is called Gu Cheng and he only has one son, Gu Zhe, who was high school classmates with Mr Ji.”
Qin Man wasn’t surprised to hear this; it was within his expectations. Gu Cheng’s projects mainly revolved around the entertainment circle, so it wasn’t strange for him to come up with such a ploy.
Moreover, judging by how openly the other party did it without even attempting to conceal themselves, they were obviously unafraid of being found out. He had directly used his own assistant to do it; this was in line with Gu Cheng’s fearless attitude.
This also meant that he already knew the Ji Family wouldn’t get involved or help Ji Ran solve this predicament.
Qin Man nodded. “Got it.”
Liu Chen tried to probe him. “Gu Cheng is going after a few projects recently. Do you need me?”
“No need.” Qin Man sneered and leaned back. “Go investigate Gu Zhe.”
“Gu Zhe did many things in the past. After graduating, he went out of control…” With narrowed eyes, Qin Man briefly emphasized, “Dig up all the things that he’d used money to bury.”
“Are we not going after Gu Cheng?”
“Leave him alone for now.” Qin Man smiled.
The best way to mess with a person was to target their loved ones. This was something both he and Gu Cheng understood.
“What should I do after finding them? Make a police report?”
“How could it be so simple?” Qin Man murmured, “Doesn’t Gu Cheng like to go onto the internet? This time, I’ll let him go wild.”
Liu Chen nodded. “I understand.”
Muttering softly under his breath, Qin Man continued, “There’s another thing for you to look into. For this… you need to do it more secretively.”
After briefing him, they left the restaurant.
Liu Chen personally witnessed Qin Man walk over to a silver Ferrari and naturally get on. Ten or so seconds later, it whizzed past him.
… Sure enough, young people changed their minds easily.
The one who disdained flashy sports cars in the past now had the latest model.
While driving, Ji Ran called.
Qin Man put on his earphones and answered, “Yes?”
“Where are you?”
“In the car, I just met with a friend. Do you want me to go over to you?”
“Go directly to the office.” Then, he hung up.
Both of them had skipped a whole afternoon of work. By the time Qin Man arrived, Ji Ran already had his legs crossed while playing a game.
Ji Ran didn’t even look up when he heard Qin Man arrive. “Is that piece of land at Wang Xing yours?”
Qin Man had already heard the abnormality in his tone over the phone and made ample preparations. Hearing this question, his face did not reveal a single trace of surprise. “That’s right.”
“Aren’t you bankrupt?” Ji Ran threw his phone onto the table as his game avatar died. “How do you still have such a huge piece of land?”
Recalling the ‘rumour’ Cheng Peng had shared with him earlier, he narrowed his eyes with a dark face. “You… What’s going on with your family?”
Ji Ran didn’t dare to think further despite knowing this.
The title deed of that land alone could be sold for a few hundred million. If what Cheng Peng said was true, Qin Man didn’t even need him and those debts could hardly be worth mentioning.
In that case, why did Qin Man allow himself to accept such a compromising deal with him?
What was his goal?
“We’re bankrupt. Do you need me to bring out the court-issued bankruptcy statement?” Qin Man feigned helplessness and gave a bitter laugh. “This piece of land was left by my grandfather and it’s also my last hidden card.”
Ji Ran gave a cold laugh. “Hidden card?”
Why did he feel like if this was a game of Fight The Landlord, this was akin to dropping two jokers right after playing a straight hand?
“Have you been to Wang Xing?” Qin Man suddenly asked him.
Arms crossed, Ji Ran answered with a bad temper. “I have.”
“In that case, you should know that apart from some housing in that area, practically no one else has gone there. There isn’t even a single supermarket in the area, let alone a commercial district.” Qin Man paused before he continued, “Of course, it’s because of this that the higher ups decided to develop that piece of land. However, no instructions have come even now; only some talk and rumours about it. My family went bankrupt half a year ago, but if I’d sold the deed back then, I’d only be able to receive a fifth…or less of what it’s worth now.”
“It’s too great of a loss, I won’t sell it. That’s why… I really had no choice.”
Ji Ran was still doubtful. “You already said it’s all rumours… you’d rather shoulder all that debt than use it to resolve your problems instantly?”
“I was indeed considering it at the start.” Qin Man grinned, his tone gentle. “But didn’t you appear?”
Saying so, he pressed both hands against the office desk and closed in on Ji Ran with a smile. “Speaking of which, if that piece of land is really sold for a good price… I have to thank you.”
His tone was extremely light. “Tell me, how do you want me to repay you?”
Ji Ran’s heart sped up. For a second, he even thought Qin Man would kiss him.
Apart from the bedroom, there was no need for excessive physical contact between them. He had originally planned to clear this matter up, but too many things happened recently that caused him to push these thoughts all the way to the back of his mind.
Coming back to his senses, Ji Ran took a step back. “… Who needs your repayment?”
“But I want to repay you.”
What’s going on with this person? Who would be so eager to repay others?
“I said no need.”
Qin Man smiled. “In that case, hold onto it for now. If you think of something in the future, you can let me know.”
He emphasised, “Anything is fine, I will do it.”
Ji Ran choked and only felt his throat tighten. “What can a poor man like you do for me… get lost!”
This was what Xu Lin saw when he opened the door.
The words he’d intended to say got caught in his throat; he could neither swallow them back nor spit them out.
Ji Ran was abruptly pulled back to reality. With a burning face, he didn’t think twice before pushing Qin Man away and feigned calm. “What is it?”
“Oh, uh.” Xu Lin pulled himself together. Stepping forward, he put a card and several files onto the table. “Ji Wei told me to pass these to you. The rest are documents from the last two days, you can have a read through them. If there are no issues, you can sign it.”
“… Got it. Come get them before getting off from work.”
Xu Lin was quite capable. In the two days he’d spent away from work, this person had meticulously arranged everything. Apart from signing of the documents that could not be helped, everything was completed.
Ji Ran threw the file aside and stared at the red card.
The wealthy were really exaggerated. A birthday invitation like this only required a call, yet they had to personally deliver it.
The front part was filled with nonsense, but the back was written with the words
[Sincerely inviting Qin Man and Ji Ran to attend the banquet.]
Qin Man’s name was written at the front with large fonts while his name was squeezed into the back, evidently having been added in at the last minute.
“Are you going?” Qin Man stood in front of the table and flipped through the file as he asked.
“Why wouldn’t I go?” Ji Ran threw the card aside.
The heat on his face had already subsided. “Since they aren’t afraid of trouble, I’ll have to honour them.”