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Everyone quieted down when Shentu Wei-Ye hit the floor tiles.
Xia Lei continued where he left off. "Gramps, I know what you're thinking. You're not concerned about money. You just want to leave a fortune for the future generations of the Shentu clan and have the clan develop into a prominent clan, am I right?"
Shentu Wei-Ye made no sound but Xia Lei's words seemed to have struck a chord with him.
"Male inheritance is an old-fashioned, traditional way of thinking for us Chinese and it is commonplace for women to be less valued in society. I am not surprised an old man like you thinks like this but have you thought about this? Even the emperor's family gets forgotten after generations and generations. To put it bluntly - who would still remember you, Grandfather Shentu, after a hundred years or so?"
"What impudence!" Shentu Tian-Feng did not want to hear words like these; he was afraid that Xia Lei would persuade Shentu Wei-Ye with these ideas. He pointed at Xia Lei and shouted, "Shut up!"
Xia Lei suddenly roared back at Shentu Tian-Feng, "YOU shut up!"
"You… dare tell me to shut up?" Shentu Tian-Feng was so angry he laughed, disbelieving.
"What right have you? Don't think that you can bully Tian-Yin because you have your grandfather's support. Let me tell you - don't even think of it with me around!" said Xia Lei disdainfully.
Xia Lei pointed a warning finger at Shentu Tian-Feng. "I, what? You can't beat me in a fight, you can't win with curses - what can you do? You're eating someone else's food and eyeing his bowl. You have no gratitude and instead spend the whole day scheming to get your hands on someone else's fortune. You even used an old man to support your schemes! If I were you and lived your life I'd rather drown in my own piss. You're a disgrace of a lifeform on this Earth!"
If he was going to be the bad guy, he'd go all the way. Xia Lei pulled no punches when provoking Shentu Tian-Feng to make him absolutely mad with anger.
"Motherfucker!" Shentu Tian-Feng cursed and shook Tan Jing-Jing off. He came charging at Xia Lei with a slap aimed at his face.
Xia Lei raised a hand and his fist was already in front of Shentu Tian-Feng's face before the slap reached him. He did not hit Shentu Tian-Feng, however. His fist stopped before Shentu Tian-Feng's nose and no further - he wanted him to understand that he could hit him any time.
He was not hit but Shentu Tian-Feng could feel the wind from Xia Lei's fist. He was paralysed; he didn't dare move an inch.
Xia Lei retracted his fist. "Don't overestimate yourself. I didn't hit you because you're Tian-Yin's 'Big Brother'."
Shentu Tian-Feng looked as if he would like nothing more than to feast upon Xia Lei's flesh and blood but he didn't dare.
Everyone stared at Xia Lei, gobsmacked. Not one of them could believe that an unofficial son-in-law of the Shentu clan would dare speak to one of the clan like that, and Shentu Wei-Ye's favourite at that!
"Did you hear that, Grandfather?" cried Wang Fang all of a sudden, "He's too much! Don't you all have something to say? When have we Shentu stood to be bullied like this? You, you… If this punk marries our Tian-Yin in the future and enters our clan, I, I… I will not stay in this clan if he is in it!"
Xia Lei laughed. "Me or you? Sure. Do you know the way to the Civil Affairs Bureau? Divorce procedures are very simple these days; they can be done within the day."
"He makes my blood boil!" Wang Fang started to make a scene, crying and fussing. "Have you Shentu men all dropped dead? Nobody made a sound when he's bullying me like this! Boohoo…"
Xia Lei had long seen through the thoughts of the unmoving Shentu clan. These people were just waiting for the result before they decided which side to stand on. There was no clear victor yet so they were unwilling to take a side.
Shentu Wei-Ye pointed at Xia Lei with his cane and gave an angry laugh. "Very good, very good, an outsider who hasn't even entered the clan yet is throwing the clan in turmoil. What'll happen if I actually let you in? Tian-Yin, send him away!"
Shentu Tian-Yin pretended not to hear; she stood silently, watching Xia Lei. In the past few minutes, she suddenly discovered that she didn't really know Xia Lei that well. This was also her first time seeing Xia Lei be so intense and overbearing. However, it was this unreasonable and uncouth Xia Lei which stirred her heart and gave her a strong sense of security!
Some women liked overbearing men and some liked gentle, thoughtful men - Xia Lei seemed to possess both of these characteristics.
Xia Lei did not notice the small changes in how Shentu Tian-Yin looked at him. He continued, "I'll leave, but I'll say my piece first. You want Tian-Yin to hand over Vientaine Group - based on what? Based on the fact that you're surnamed 'Shentu'? Tian-Yin's father built Vientaine Group from scratch. He did not forget you all after his success and that is why you are wealthy. But now that Tian-Yin's father is bedridden, you're already trying to force Tian-Yin to hand over Vientaine Group when he's not dead yet. Search your conscience. What is this if it isn't biting the hand that feeds you?"
The assembly was silent.
Xia Lei kept talking. "I know you all feel like you've contributed to Vientaine Group and you're also Shentu but go to any other company and you'll see that you'll have to actually work. Is there any law that supports your wanting Tian-Yin to hand over Vientaine Group to you? Is it your conscience? From what I see, you're trying to take the opportunity to seize the fortune Tian-Yin's father left her because he's bedridden and she's just one woman!"
Xia Lei said his piece but the hall was still so silent one could hear a pin drop.
Xia Lei's words were ugly but they were all true.
"I'm done talking. I'm going." Xia Lei turned and walked towards the exit.
"Wait." Shentu Tian-Yin called him to a stop. "Wait for me. I'll say something and we'll leave."
Xia Lei halted in his tracks.
Shentu Tian-Yin looked at Shentu Wei-Ye, her face calm. "Grandfather, you asked me to make a decision earlier. I've reached a decision. What Xia Lei said was right - why do I have to hand over Vientaine Group? It is the product of my father's life's work and I will guard it. I've also been doing very well and I don't think anyone in the Shentu clan can succeed my position. About the future, I'd like to wait till my child is born before I think about it. That's it. I'm leaving. You all continue your discussions. If anyone feels like it is impossible to stay on at Vientaine Group anymore I'll welcome your resignation anytime."
The assembly was stunned. This was Shentu Tian-Yin's decision - no compassion at all!
"Go! Don't come back again if you walk out of here with that punk!" thundered Shentu Wei-Ye.
"You are old, Grandfather, and cannot distinguish between right and wrong. Don't meddle in this anymore; you're being used, don't you know that?" said Shentu Tian-Yin indifferently.
"Get out!" Shentu Wei-Ye was so angry he was panting.
Shentu Tian-Feng did not go up to pat him on the back this time.
The old man couldn't be used anymore so he held no more value to Shentu Yi's family. They wouldn't treat him like they used to anymore.
Shentu Tian-Yin held Xia Lei's hand and said intimately, "Let's go see my father."
"Nn." Xia Lei made a sound of agreement and looked back at the Shentu clan in the ancestral hall. They avoided his gaze, as if afraid that he'd remember their faces and come settle scores with them later.
From their point of view, Xia Lei had muscled his way into the Shentu clan and was sure to be in control of Shentu Tian-Yin. Who would dare offend him?
Shentu Tian-Feng, Shentu Yi and Wang Fang watched Xia Lei and Shentu Tian-Yin walk off intimately, their eyes spitting flames. Their calculated move had ended in humiliation and a result like this was an unbearable, venomous mocking of them.
"This way won't work anymore," said Shentu Yi in a low voice.
"She chose her own path so don't blame me for being ruthless." Shentu Tian-Feng's voice was cold.
"It's all that Xia Lei's fault! He's like mouse shit that ruins the pot of soup! I don't know what that bitch likes about him. They're not married and yet she's pregnant with that punk's bastard - oh the shame!" said Wang Fang hatefully.
"Didn't you see? Shentu Tian-Yin likes that punk's intensity. She deliberately looked for a man like this to support her. Things will get difficult now. This punk is a hard one to take care of," said Shentu Yi.
"Hard? Dad, you overestimate him. I know someone who'll gladly take care of him. I'll contact that person right now." A sneer appeared in the corners of Shentu Tian-Feng's mouth.
Shentu Yi paused. "You mean… Gu Ke-Wu?"
Shentu Tian-Feng nodded. "It's no secret that Gu Ke-Wen likes that bitch. He's also doing similar calculations but he shall be a statistical number in our calculations this time. Just wait - the show's just begun!"
On the way to see her father, Shentu Tian-Yin kept looking at Xia Lei with a strange gaze.
Xia Lei grew uncomfortable and smiled as he asked, "Why are you looking at me like this?"
"Just curious. You were so fierce earlier. I've never seen you so intensely overbearing. Are you so fierce to Liang Si-Yao when you're with her?" said Shentu Tian-Yin.
Xia Lei smiled wryly. "We'll sometimes joke around or cause a racket but that earlier situation will definitely not occur. Besides, aren't I helping you? I've thought about it - infuriate those people enough and they won't be able to stop themselves from putting plans in motion. Your problem will be solved then too."
"You want to solve this problem quickly?"
"Of course. A problem like this is best solved as quickly as possible. You'll have less protection the longer this drags on and that'll be dangerous for you," said Xia Lei.
Shentu Tian-Yin lips moved as if she wanted to say something but no words came out.
"Let's not talk about these things here. Remember I said that I wanted to tell you a bit of good news when I came looking for you?"
"What good news?"
"I've taken a look at your father's condition and I don't think it's as serious as you think it is. I've learnt martial arts and know some acupuncture so if you're willing to let me try I may be able to wake him."
"What?" Shentu Tian-Yin gaped at Xia Lei.
"I'm saying the truth." Xia Lei looked serious. "But you have to move your father to a place that'll be easier for me to treat him at. I don't want to come here again."
Shentu Tian-Yin suddenly hugged Xia Lei.
Xia Lei froze on the spot.