Tea Leaves and Gold Pins

Dinner, Partnership, and Doubts

Match Twenty-Five: Dinner, Partnership, and Doubts:

*Ju*

So, here it is today. My exams are over and now I can focus on the more important things with the clan. First thing on the list? Picking out a new business partner to merge with. I have to choice between Wang-qianbei and Ba-qianbei tonight.

To be honest, we already had who we wanted for a week now. It was just a matter of finishing my exams. Tonight is going to be really important for us all.

I looked at my pink and mint green cheongsam one more time before turning to my hair. Bik lent her golden hair clips for tonight.

"But, I can't," I said. "They were a gift from your aunt!"

"It's fine," she insisted. "Just return them back to me afterwards." I nodded uneasily afterwards. I adjusted my pigtails and smiled.

Perfect, I thought. There came a knock on my bedroom door. I glanced over from the mirror.

"Yes?" I asked.

"You ready to go?" I heard Hen-to ask.

"Yes sir!" I called back. I turned and walked to the door. I sat in the back seat, looking out the window. This summer is going to be a busy one this year. School and my clan are going to keep me rather occupied in the coming weeks. Damn, I haven't decided which college I want yet. I want to get out of Beijing for a couple of years, that's for sure. Can't study aboard; my position won't allow it. Looks like I'll have to stay in China.

A tap on the glass catches my attention. I looked quickly looked out the window. Hen-to looked in, smiling at me.

"We're here, my lady," he said. I blinked for a short moment.

"Oh…" I mumbled. I got out of the car and walked with my two advisors. Wang-qianbei and Ba-qianbei sat near the window in the restaurant. It might have been my imagination, but the diming light behind them made both men look like gods for only a second in time. Their clothes even added onto the feeling of superiority they may have accidentally tried to portray to me. They stood up when Fei, Hen-to, and I approached them. I put up my hands.

"Gentlemen," I said, calmly. "You don't have to do all of that. I'm just happy you came early."

"If you say so," my potential business partners agreed. We all bowed and took our seats at the table. I stuck up my hand in the air.

"Waiter," I called. "Could I have a menu please?" The man nodded at me and headed to work. I turned back to the two men awaiting my word. I pressed my hands together.

"First of all," I addressed them. "Thank you for being patient with me on my exams. I really do appreciate you being so accommodating to me during that time." The men nodded at me.

"Yes," Wang-qianbei replied. Ba-qianbei bowed his head, likewise.

"My father would have approved too," I said. I turned to Fei and Hen-to.

"The plans, if you will," I said. Fei handed both folders to me.

"Thank you," I said. I opened both folders and laid them out before me. Wang-qianbei and Ba-qianbei looked on with me.

"I would like to say that both plans are really good and sound after closer inspection," I said. "However, my clan can only afford one plan to partner up with." My eyes narrowed at the two "bachelors" in front of me.

"So today, I will announcement the lucky candidate for the job," I said. "But first, I need a drink." Our waiter came by as if he had read my thoughts just a few seconds ago. I turned to him with a smile on my face.

"Just water for me," I said. I turned to my advisors. (It's still too weird to call them that.) "Anything you guys want?" I asked.

"Water's fine," Fei said.

"I'll have some herbal tea," Hen-to said. The waiter wrote down our orders and went back to the kitchen. I turned back to the two gentlemen staring at me in wait. I smirked in my head at the looks on the desperate looks on their faces. I know I have been teasing them up to this point. I guess I'll, as Tina and her family see it, throw them a bone here. I placed my hand on Wang-qianbei's plan.

"Ba-qianbei," I said. "Your plan is good; I admit that. Yet, it lacks stability in the long run of things."

"But my lady," the investor said. "It's a really good plan. I think you should reconsider."

"I agree with you," I cut in. "But, I just need something that's going to stand up long enough years later down the road. Which is why I choose to partner up with Wang-qianbei's plan here." Wang-qianbei bowed his head at me.

"I thank you, my lady," he said. I could see that he was secretly smirking when he said that. All smug that he won this battle. I turned back to Ba-qianbei.

"We will still do business with your company in the near future," I closed up. The thirty-something man bowed his head at me.

"I understand," he said. I sat back and took a breath out.

"Now that I have said that," I announced. "Why don't we all toast and eat to our success?" The waiter came back with our drinks and a spring rolls. I raised my glass in the dimly-lit restaurant.

"To new business and successful years ahead!" I said.

"To new business and successful years ahead!" the men all replied at my table. I turned to the waiter.

"I think I'm ready to order now," I said. We all ordered dinner from the menus. The rest of the night disappeared into eating, drinking, and conversations about work and life in general.

"Do you think you did well on your exams?" Ba-qianbei asked over his wine. I finished chewing and swallowing my pork dumpling in my mouth.

"I am confident that I have," I replied.

"I really do hope that you do," he said. I smiled and nodded at him. However, my attention always kept coming back to Wang-qianbei as he kept eating from the different dishes that the waiter presented us. A shady filled my head for the first time in weeks since those dreams about the tower.

To tell you the truth, despite confidence in decision, somehow I don't have good feelings about partnering up with Wang Yao. The problem is not business-related, but it's more of a personal level. I plan to try and keep the personal angles out of this arrangement. After all, I don't really hate the guy. (Don't get me wrong, Wang is a decent man and he's really attractive, aside from really looking like a woman.) It's just… I don't know how exactly to form the words that I want to describe it as. But somehow, I feel that if I get too close to him, something inside of me will forever be damaged if I am not careful.

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