Xue Meng complained to him on the way back.” There are too many false calls and we are not allowed to ignore them. What a waste of time!”
Jiang Lan smiled.” It’s not a waste of time. We serve the people, remember?”
His hands warmed the bracelets still remained in his grip. The soft, warm touch brought back a familiar feeling, though he couldn’t recall anything associated with this feeling.
He scrutinized it in the sun. The material didn’t look like gems or ordinary stones. Jiang Lan said to himself.” What is this material?”
Xue Meng said.” Materials this cheap must be stone or glass. But they are well-made. The shop owner claimed they are lucky gems? Maybe they can bring luck.”
Jiang Lan shook his head.” Lucky gems are just a marketing gimmick. The shop owner admitted it. Fate is in our hands. It might be more beneficial to recite the Socialist core value every dayPlease visit this Wiki page to understand this phrase. instead of pinning our hope on some lucky gems. “
Xue Meng looked as if he thought Jiang Lan was making fun of him. Seeing this looks, Jiang Lan continued his lecture.” If you receive something, you have to pay it back with something equal in value. There is no such thing as free lunch.”
Xue Meng now had a blank look on his face. When Jiang Lan finished, Xue Meng’s face melted into a smile.” Jiang Lan, you are so like our Uncle Zhou. He loves to give us lectures like this.”
Sensing Jiang Lan had more to say, he immediately wrapped his arms around Jiang Lan and started to walk towards the car park.” I get your point. I am just talking nonsense. No one expects money to drop from the sky….”
He abruptly stopped in mid-sentence, staring at a pile of banknotes lying on the ground.
After glancing at the bracelet on his wrist without thinking, Xue Meng stared at Chairman Mao on the banknotes Chairman Mao’s image is on Chinese hundred yuan banknote. Finally, he turned to Jiang Lan, marvelled.” Did money just drop from the sky?”
With his brow furrowed, Jiang Lan picked up the banknotes, eight banknotes in total, not a large sum. But the timing of their appearance was inexplicable and strange.
He took another look at his bracelet, but he didn’t see anything wrong with it. He was also baffled.
But Xue Meng wasn’t hung up on this mystery. He immediately turned his attention to finding the owner of this cash.” There is a security booth on the way here. Let’s drop the lost money there. Perhaps the owner will return to claim it.”
So they turned back for the security booth. On the way there, they ran into someone they know.
Jiang Lan looked at Ying Qiao with a baffled look, who just got off from a luxurious silver-grey car.
Ying Qiao was here with Cheng Hua on an investigation. He didn’t expect to meet Jiang Lan here. He walked towards Jiang Lan with feigned nonchalance.” How come you are here?”
With that luxurious car in his mind, Jiang Lan said.” My office received a call, and we are here to investigate it.”
Looking at his Work ID card hanging from his neck, Ying Qiao had a faint smile on his face.
“What a coincidence. I am here to accompany my boss.”
Suddenly it dawned on Jiang Lan.” Oh, that’s your boss’s car……”
Ying Qiao said without blinking.” Of course it is. How can I afford it?”
Cheng Hua was looking back and forth between Jiang Lan and Ying Qiao. Suddenly he seemed to discover a secret and said with barely concealed glee.” Xiao Ying Xiao小, means little, was added before surname to indicate familiarity or intimacy with the person addressed. It is common to add before the name of young people or someone junior, this is ……your friend?”
He deliberately stressed the word “ friend”.
” Yes, Boss Cheng,” Ying Qiao turned to him, smiling, but his eyes were full of warning.
He seemed to squeeze these words out of his teeth.
Now confident that he could get away with it, Cheng Hua looked at Jiang Lan with great interest. With a Street Administration Office ID card hanging from his neck, Jiang Lan appeared to be just an ordinary office worker. Lofty Ying Qiao was never seen to have a friend of this sort.
He guessed that this likable young man must be the lion monster Ying Qiao mentioned before.
Despite Ying Qiao’s warning, he looked at Jiang Lan with a smiling face.” Xiao Ying is fine in every respect except for his foul temper. I hope it doesn’t trouble you too much to be his friend.”
Jiang Lan looked at Cheng Hua with a blank expression. How come his boss suddenly decide to bad mouth Ying Qiao in front of him? A boss was supposed to bring their best employee to accompany him on business?
But he came to the defence of Ying Qiao without thinking.” Oh, no, Ying Qiao is very gentle and treat his friends well.”
But he had an excessive spending habit.
Of course, Jiang Lan didn’t mention this point.
Cheng Hua’s eyes brightened, and he was about to say more when he sensed the silent approach of Ying Qiao and the cold air it brought. A whisper was delivered to his ear to the exclusion of other people around.” Another word, I will skin you alive.”
Cheng Hua was a painted skin monsterAn ancient monster in Chinese mythology who could paint human skins and use them to disguise as different peopleIf Ying Qiao threatened to skin him, he must be ready to carry it out.
With Ying Qiao’s overwhelming power in mind, Cheng Hua lost all interest in teasing him.” We have a business commitment to keep today. Please come to our place when you are free.”
After giving Jiang Lan a business card, he left.
“Let’s pick a day to have lunch together.” Ying Qiao said before leaving.
Jiang Lan nodded.
When they were gone, Xue Meng immediately said in an excited voice.” That car must worth more than nine million. You have a wealthy friend?”
“That car belongs to his boss. My friend was just his employee.”
Xue Meng said.” Even if that car isn’t his, your friend looks like a rich man.”
Jiang Lan thought to himself. Perhaps you won’t believe it. It is possible to appear rich while working a three thousand monthly salary job.
While they chatted, they reached the security booth. After explaining their discovery and leave the eight hundred Yuan banknotes with the security man, they drove back.
Leaning against the car door, Cheng Hua said in a singing tone.” Xiao Ying….”
Ying Qiao stared at him without expression.
Cheng Hua mocked him.” The little monster is gone now. Do we need to pretend now?”
Then he said in a joking manner.” I don’t know that Ying was gentle and treat friends well. Perhaps I don’t deserve to be Boss Ying’s friend.”
“Enough?” Ying Qiao watched his performance with a cold stare.
Cheng Hua stiffened his body in an instant.” Enough.”
He valued his skin and didn’t want to be skinned by this beast who place lovers before friends.
“Then we start searching.” Pointing to the street behind, Ying Qiao said.” Recent intelligence indicated that its trace was found here.
“Understood, Boss Ying.” Cheng Hua said in a mocking voice.
Jiang Lan and Xue Meng returned to the office. Their return trip was uneventful.
It was now nearly the end of office hour; they didn’t see Xiao Xiaoyu at the reception. So they went straight into the office.
At the door, they heard Xiao Xiaoyu’s voice speaking in a soft and loving tone.“Darling, take it slow, don’t hurry, this whole bag is yours…….”
Before he walked in, Xue Meng couldn’t help shouting.” Xiao Xiaoyu, are you bewitched?”
Turned to face Xue Meng, Xiao Xiaoyu sneered.” Looks like your skin is itching for a beating.”
Before he had a chance to retort, Xue Meng was stunned by the creature on the desk.” Hell! Where did you get that endangered animal Referring to species under conservation, possession of these species is a criminal offence in China?”
……there on the Xiao Xiaoyu’s desk, an adult fist-sized lion cub sat with his back to the door, munching on a corn sausage.
After hearing the sound, Suan Ni turned to look at Jiang Lan’s stunned face and let out a soft.“Meow.”
What kind of lion was that?
Xiao Xiaoyu giggled and pointed to Suanni’s fur head.” This is Jiang Lan’s cat.”
As if to confirm Xiao Xiaoyu, Suan Ni meowed again.
He sounded very much like a cat.
Facing his little brother’s innocent look, Jiang Lan had no choice but to lie.” It’s my cat. It’s too small to be left alone. So I brought him here.”
Xue Meng leaned to have a close look. Poking Suan Ni’s ear. He marvelled.” It looks so much like a lion cub. What is this cat’s breed?”
“…… A friend of mine gave it to me as a gift, saying it’s a new breed from overseas. I am not very clear what breed it is.”
Scratching Suan Ni’s chin, Xue Meng couldn’t contain his surprise.“What a cute animal.”
Suan Ni squinted his eyes in contentment, then nudged Xue Meng’s fingers aside with his head and leapt nimbly from the desk to Jiang Lan’s shoulder. Then he nuzzled Jiang Lan’s neck while meowing.
Xiao Xiaoyu was jealous.” I want a cat like this!”
Recalling how she found the cat, she began to reprimand Jiang Lan.” It’s so dangerous to lock a cat in a bag like that. And you didn’t feed the cat at noon? He was starving when I found him.”
During noon break Suan Ni was asleep, so Jiang Lan didn’t feed him, planning to feed him after his nap. But their job of checking the jewellery shop disrupted his plan, and he didn’t expect Xiao Xiaoyu to find him after his nap.
He scratched his chin.” It’s my fault. Next time I will do better to leave him home.”
Xiao Xiaoyu jumped to her feet at this.” No, bring him along with you. He will be miserable being alone at home. We can feed him at the office.”
Jiang Lan was a little hesitant at her suggestion. He had never heard any office would tolerate bringing a pet to work, so he brought Suan Ni here secretly.
After taking in the whole scene, Uncle Zhou said slowly.” Xiao Xiaoyu is right. It’s not right to leave a young one home alone without an adult’s company.”
Giving Jiang Lan a knowing look, Uncle Zhou reassured him.” Don’t worry. Chief Cheng is very understanding. I will talk to him about your special situation.”
His knowing look brought to mind the conversation Jiang Lan had with Chief Cheng in the morning. Chief Zhou had mentioned Uncle Zhou was not ordinary. He speculated that Uncle Zhou had already known Suan Ni was his family, not a pet.
He gave Uncle Zhou a grateful smile.” I can’t thank you enough.”
Waving his hand, Uncle Zhou returned to his computer chess game.
Xue Meng and Jiang Lan filed a brief report on the afternoon’s investigation. When they were done, it was time to get off work.
Uncle Zhou didn’t care to join young people’s merrymakings. Only three of them would dine together.
Suan Ni remained in Jiang Lan’s bag. But this time, Xiao Xiaoyu stuffed the bag with various snacks, like beef jerky and sausages. Suan Ni was content to be left alone with these delicacies.
They chose a crawfish restaurant. May is the peak season for crawfish. With a sale running, the whole restaurant was packed.
A waiter led them to a table by the window, and they start ordering food after taking their seats.
They ordered three servings of crawfishes of three different flavours, Garlic, Aromatic Spicy and Numbing Spicy, two appetizers with a dozen of beers. Everything was perfect.
Jiang Lan thought the beers were for Xue Meng and him. But Xiao Xiaoyu turned out to be an drinker. She alone downed six bottles and still managed to appear sober while boastful Xue Meng was red-faced after only three bottles. Xiao Xiaoyu mocked him without mercy.
They ate and drank, coupled with banter. This night Jiang Lan had a feeling of happiness and relaxation, which had eluded him for a long time.
When in the Dragon Palace, his every need was well catered for by Uncle Gui. But despite the luxurious living standard, he was not happy.
His oldest brother and fourth brother were so busy running the business in human society that they could only come back once a week. Little ninth brother barely left his nest and spent most of his time sleeping in his shell. Suan Ni couldn’t take human form. The vast Dragon Palace was a quiet and lonely place for him.
He didn’t have friends and was not allowed to go out then. Countless years were spent in the Dragon Palace at the bottom of the ocean with only Suan Ni at his side.
Watching his colleagues’ drunken bickering, Jiang Lan couldn’t help laughing. He suddenly felt he was fortunate to have the courage to leave the sheltering Dragon Palace to step into this prosperous and noisy human world.
Their merrymaking finally came to an end after nine.
Xue Meng was totally drunk. So Jiang Lan lifted him up while Xiao Xiaoyu went to take care of the bill. They had already agreed to divide the bill.
After walking back, she looked pleased .” We are so lucky today. Because we are the number 199 customer, the restaurant said our dinner tonight is on the house.”
Waving her phone, she added.” The meal is free!”
But Jiang Lan’s brow furrowed. Recalling the nine hundred banknotes in the afternoon, he thought two windfalls in a row were too good to be normal. His instincts told him the lucky gem bracelet was at the source of these. But this time, it was Xiao Xiaoyu who paid the bill, so the luck was not exactly his.
But soon, he had more pressing concerns. Drunken Xue Meng started to sing loudly.
He had no choice but to restrain Xue Meng while seeing off Xiao Xiaoyu. After hailing a taxi, they went to Jiang Lan’s flat because Xue Meng was too drunk to be left alone in his home.
|↑1||Please visit this Wiki page to understand this phrase.|
|↑2||Chairman Mao’s image is on Chinese hundred yuan banknote|
|↑3||Xiao小, means little, was added before surname to indicate familiarity or intimacy with the person addressed. It is common to add before the name of young people or someone junior|
|↑4||An ancient monster in Chinese mythology who could paint human skins and use them to disguise as different people|
|↑5||Referring to species under conservation, possession of these species is a criminal offence in China|