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Zhang Heng wasn’t startled by Leah and the drummer’s passionate kiss.
Based on the data Waldo collected, Zhang Heng got to know that Leah was bisexual, meaning she was attracted to both men and women. In junior high, she had a boyfriend who was the captain of the football team. He was her first love. Two months later, however, she found out that her boyfriend was cheating on her with a girl from the cheerleading team. Amid the tumultuous heartbreak, she gradually realized that she was also attracted to girls.
Following that, she had three girlfriends, the blonde drummer being the third. They got together six months ago, and from her correspondence with Gaspard, Zhang Heng could tell that she was also interested in him.
In general, most people looked better in pictures than in person.
Leah was an exception, though, even more beautiful in person. With her iconic short blue hair and piercing eyes as clear as Lake Tignes, she dazzled on the stage, like an ice cube falling into a whisky glass.
But Zhang Heng only looked at her twice before withdrawing his gaze. His focus tonight wouldn’t be on her.
Through observation, Zhang Heng was able to determine that Black Nest had sent two of their people to La Grenouille Verte and also controlled the CCTV in the bar. On top of that, there were three other suspicious individuals Zhang Heng was unable to identify.
This was just the set up inside the bar—there would be even more of Black Nest’s people stationed outside. Black Nest had obviously invested a lot of resources on Leah. All that was left for them to do was wait for their prey to take the bait.
It had been less than forty minutes since Zhang Heng entered the bar, and he had already rejected three people who attempted to strike a conversation with him. He clearly stuck out like a sore thumb, and if this went on, it would undoubtedly raise Black Nest’s suspicions. Knowing that he had been noticed, Zhang Heng paid for his drinks and prepared to make a move.
As he proceeded to the entrance, something stopped him in his tracks. A man with piercings on his right ear caught his eye.
The man was sitting in a three-person booth. His companion opposite him was chatting away, but the man appeared distracted. His eyes would periodically dart to Leah who was on the stage—his surreptitious glances toward the stunning woman told of his attractions.
Zhang Heng only noticed it after watching him for a while.
The man’s appeared to be growing more and more annoyed by the minute—not only because the translator he hired for two hundred euros wouldn’t stop talking, but more importantly, he had no idea how to take Leah away from Black Nest’s watchful eyes.
Just about then, a person abruptly sat down on the empty seat in his booth, not even bothered to say hi.
Before the man with the ear-piercing could say anything, his companion hissed at the newcomer, “What the hell are you doing? Can’t you see we’re on a date?!”
“I just need a few minutes of your time. I’d like to speak to him,” Zhang Heng pointed at the man with the ear-piercing.
“Tell him that he’d better get out of my sight before my fist ends up on his face,” the man told his companion in English. He was obviously in a foul mood.
“Your fists better be better than your driving skills,” Zhang Heng replied directly to him in English as well.
The man with ear-piercing seemed taken aback. He reached down for something at his waist, but Zhang Heng noticed it and instantly stopped him.
“Do you really want to fight?” the translator growled as he rolled up his sleeves. Unfortunately, his beer belly could have been a little smaller, and his movements a little more subtle.
But the man with ear-piercing said, “That’s enough. You can leave now.”
“Did you hear that, kid?” Beer Belly hissed at Zhang Heng, trying to look threatening but failing miserably.
“I meant you.”
The man with ear-piercing took out 100 euros from his wallet and handed it to the translator. “You did very well. This is the remaining payment. That’s all for today.”
“Really?” Beer Belly was confounded, glancing back at forth at his client and Zhang Heng. Then, as if something clicked, he smiled meaningfully at the pair, took the cash without protest, and said, “I’ll get going then. You guys have fun. You have my number. Call me if you need a translator again.”
The man with the ear-piercing waited until the translator left before he continued. “How did you recognize me?”
He spoke in Mandarin, but with the mini rock concert blaring in the background, there was no need to worry about anyone overhearing their conversation.
Zhang Heng pointed at the mole at the man’s neck. “I was following you when you were racing with the Black Nest people. It was then that I managed to capture a quarter of your face on the camera. I didn’t think I would be able to find you with the photo.”
The man with ear-piercing cursed under his breath. Instead of warming up, he glared at Zhang Heng renewed hostility. “Which side are you on?” he asked.
“If I’m standing on Black Nest’s side, do you think you’d still be able to walk out of this bar?” Zhang Heng retorted, “Oh, by the way, the whole jumping into the water thing was done beautifully.”
“Damn, I didn’t expect those guys to be that ruthless! I was only going to kidnap someone to get a picture of the situation, but their backup arrived in ten minutes and killed my friend!”
“A police officer who had been investigating online fraud… he got dismissed. He discovered Black Nest through a hacker and found something fishy about CTOS. A guy claiming himself to be Edward contacted him and told him that if he wanted to know the truth, he would have to save L from Black Nest.”
“It looks like we have the same target then,” Zhang Heng nodded. “So, what’s your plan?”
A look of wariness reappeared on the man’s face. “Why don’t you tell me about your plan first?”
“At the moment, it’s going to really difficult for any of us to take Leah under Black Nest’s nose, so the only way around it is for us to work together.”
The situation had now changed. Since the man with the ear-piercing had raised the alarm, Black Nest had increased surveillance and the number of goons around Leah. Zhang Heng really didn’t know what to do in a situation like this, but since he had found a new helper, he might as well seize the chance.
The man thought about it for a while before saying, “Alright, but I’m used to working on my own; I don’t like having someone to slow me down.”
“We can split the work. Each of us will be in charge of one part. That shouldn’t be a problem, right?” Zhang Heng replied.
The man was very cautious, wanting to leave no stone unturned. “So, who’s going to decide how the tasks are divided?” he questioned rhetorically.
“We’ll decide the tasks first, and then you choose.”
The man felt a bit embarrassed when he heard the answer. “Actually… We can throw a dice to make sure it’s fair,” he went on to suggest.
“There’s no need for that. You can go ahead and decide,” Zhang Heng shook his head, “Also, we can use this opportunity to exchange intel. You ask one question, and I’ll ask one.”
Perhaps it was Zhang Heng’s generosity that won the man over. He answered readily, “Fine. Then you ask first.”
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