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In all fairness, life in this parallel quest was a relatively easy one for Zhang Heng, perhaps second only to that time he spent in Legoland.
During the day, Little Boy would work at the pizza shop, while he would be at home cuddling the cat and learning theoretical knowledge independently. Whenever he came across something he did not understand, he would jot them down and ask Little Boy when she returned from work.
Then, when evening came, it was his turn to work. The chemistry teacher and the Albanians had dealings about once every two weeks. On top of that, Zhang Heng would also ask Fox for other jobs.
Despite Zhang Heng’s efforts to keep a low profile, his fame grew in the underworld thanks to his perfect record of guiding successful transactions time and time again. It was also during this period that he participated in an underground drag race, winning himself a sports car.
His opponent happened to be the rich kid who flirted with Little Boy the other time.
His attempts at wooing girls had probably gone so well that he had never been rejected before. So, instead of giving up, he kept thinking about Little Boy despite being scolded by her. Then about a month and a half after that, he ran into Little Boy and Zhang Heng again. He challenged Zhang Heng to a race. Should he win, Zhang Heng would have to leave Little Boy, but if Zhang Heng won, he would obtain his car for the keeping.
It was a very romantic and masculine thing to do, except for the part where he lost his sports car when the race was over. This act of love was one close to perfection.
The rich kid did not understand how he could have possibly lost—he had one of the best-performing cars, and he was also a celebrity in the underground racing circle. Even if he wasn’t the best of the best street racer, he was definitely above an ordinary driver. Moreover, Zhang Heng was driving a Talbot, a bread and butter everyday-runner that could be seen everywhere on the street. He should have never have lost.
If the race had been on the open road, the chances of Zhang Heng beating the rich kid were slim, considering how different the specs of the cars were. Thanks to CTOS, street-racing teams were forced to compete in the parking lot to avoid being caught on surveillance cameras. The location was practically tailor-made for drifting.
The rich boy’s inferior driving skills weren’t something that could be made up for with horsepower, which was why he did not only lose but was completely obliberated.
As Zhang Heng grew familiar with the positions of the surveillance cameras and communication tracking devices in the city, Little Boy wasn’t going to waste time chaperoning Zhang Heng at work. After being with him on several occasions, she finally understood that even if Zhang Heng were to be locked up in a cage with a group of the worst criminals, the only person to survive in the end would be him. So, instead of worrying about his safety, it was simply better to be praying for his opponent.
Because he lacked any identification whatsoever, Little Boy had no idea how old Zhang Heng really was, but from his appearance, he was probably a few years younger than her. Yet, when he stood face to face with those gangsters, it was difficult to distinguish who was older based on their looks alone.
And as his reputation grew, Zhang Heng was even invited to act as an arbitrator to mediate conflicts that had broken out between several gangs.
After about three months, however, the chemistry teacher suddenly stopped calling Little Boy’s number.
Worried that something might have happened to him, Little Boy searched the address of his daughter’s hospital and found that the treatments had been paid two months in advance, and the teacher had just visited his daughter in the ward yesterday.
“What do you think?” Little Boy asked Zhang Heng who messing with Lego bricks on the couch,
“What do you mean by what do I think?”
“Why did he stop hiring you as his bodyguard?”
“Oh, that… after so many transactions, he probably feels that he has already established a stable partnership with the Albanians. On top of that, my fees happen to be very expensive, so…” “So, he kicked you out?”
“Most probably. But it doesn’t matter. I have other jobs,” Zhang Heng answered, inserting the last brick onto the Empire State Building before removing his blindfold. He checked the time to see how much his Lego assembly skills had improved.
“What’s going to happen next?”
“There is a high probability that the Albanians will detain him-probably for a month. It won’t be life-threatening, though. They will just make him churn wealth out for them day and night. But to let him work in ease, they wouldn’t touch his daughter. In fact, they’ll continue footing her medical bills. If he is smart enough, he best keep the manufacturing process close to the chest.”
“What if he’s not?”
“Only hens that lay eggs are valuable,” Zhang Heng answered, “I’ve warned him before, that the Albanians didn’t touch him only because I was there. Unfortunately, it seems he didn’t listen. He might have even believed that I said that so that I could continue sucking out easy money from him. Especially since he’s become even more familiar with the Albanians, he probably thinks they regard him as a friend. But people like that don’t have the word ‘friend’ in their dictionaries.”
“Can’t you reduce your fee a little and continue to work with him?” Little Boy’s brows furrowed.
“You probably don’t know the rate I’m charging him now,” Zhang Heng said, “I’m already giving him the friends-and-family rate.”
Little Boy took out two oranges from the fridge and threw one to Zhang Heng. “I don’t know why, but I keep feeling like you need a good beating,” she lamented.
Zhang Heng caught the fruit. “Everyone has to be responsible for their own choices, especially those who live in the underworld. I’m not his babysitter. I can’t protect him for the rest of my life. Initially, my job was only to chauffeur him to the business deal. Giving suggestions should be considered an additional service.”
“Even so, ordinary people can’t possibly learn so quickly.”
“I beg to differ. I knew… a girl. She learned the ropes so quickly she even surpassed my expectations.”
Zhang Heng paused for a moment and thought about that black-market merchant who came to the island empty-handed but eventually became the biggest trade leader in Nassau.
He did play a role in providing guidance, but at the end of the day, Carina’s achievements were due to her own efforts. That woman possessed a force that did not match her looks, and to others and herself, she was born for this kind of cruel and dark territory.
For a brief moment, Zhang Heng was lost in thought. Everything that happened in the Black Sail quest was now but a distant memory. Although occasionally dreaming of the redhead, she seemed to always disappear along with the beach and seashells at the break of dawn.
“I’ve decided,” Little Boy said as she peeled the orange in her hand. Her voice snapped Zhang Heng back into reality.
“To bring you to meet the other members of 01. Didn’t you always say that you wanted to learn other internet skills and not just communication?”
Zhang Heng raised an eyebrow at her.
“Aren’t you worried that I’m a spy for Black Nest?”
“We need to remain vigilant, but at the same time, we must not lose the courage to trust.”
“Who said that?”
“I did. Why?” Little Boy asked. “After three months of observation, I feel that despite your numerous shortcomings, you can be trusted… a little. So tonight, you and I will be joining oi’s routine meeting. What do you think?” she continued.
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