(Short Story) Excuse Me, This is My Father

There are a few perks to being a Jing Yun Private School student. One of which is that making friends is optional. Or rather, making friends is difficult. Majority of the students come from affluent families, chatting them up just makes you look like someone with a motive.

Another perk is that it is not cool to hang in cliques. You will be seen as needing them to survive, which inherently means you aren’t the best heir for your family’s company — if you are the appointed successor, that is. That said, there are groups that exist because of each family’s social standing, financial power, and mutual investments. They are bound by family obligations, to serve the more powerful.

I consider that a perk because my classmates don’t usually want to hang out with me. While it is not cool to group together all the time, it is also very uncool to not be associated with a known family name. It makes you look like a regular civilian whose parents made lots of effort to enrol you into Jing Yun, just so you can rub shoulders with the rich and famous. As if the school didn’t have an excellent faculty, which it does but is often forgotten.

However, that is not how it is for me. There has been some problems with my family during the time of enrolment and my father is extremely concerned with my safety. Hence, I was enrolled somewhat anonymously. I mean, I don’t know what he did but nobody knows where I come from.

I still have friends. Or friend, to be honest. His name is Yan Kuan. He is one of the few students that uses the student hostel, only because he is an orphan.

Kuan’s parents were the owners of the YAN departmental stores. But due to a bad marriage arrangement for his elder sister, the entire chain is now owned by his brother-in-law and renamed to JIN. Unable to take the major setback, Kuan’s father had a fatal heart attack. His mother committed suicide soon after, but not before she sent Kuan away. Apparently, she and her husband had a small private stash from investments set aside just for Kuan, but it could only be claimed by him in full and in person when he turns eighteen.

Meanwhile, Kuan’s daily necessities are taken care of dutifully by a small-time lawyer. Kuan isn’t fussy but he also has a plan carved out. He intends to find his mother’s family, as he has managed to figure out that his lawyer is protected by them. From there, he will then start on different plans, depending on the scenario, to remove his elder sister from her husband.

I haven’t really asked him much about his plans. His eyes always seem to open into the abyss on the rare occasions when he speaks about that trashy family. Plus, he knows he can ask me for help, whenever he needs. Our friendship is built around the policy of ‘I won’t pry if you don’t probe’.

Due to Kuan’s family history and my obscured background, we are the two bizarre and rich kids that nobody hangs with, not even for five minutes, because there are no benefits attached to us. Though the down side is that it doesn’t mean nobody bothers us.

Kuan usually gets the bulk of the snide remarks, more so than the civilian kids when he chats with them. He is like a chameleon in school, fitting in nowhere but also fitting in everywhere. He is considered potentially rich, but being as he is now, he didn’t have power but he is also unwilling to bend over backwards to be someone else’s lapdog. That makes him a target for the brats exercising their new-found control over others.

Kuan sits with me during breaks and after-school classes when he needs a time-out from all the trash talk. It doesn’t usually just die down but it does get a little quiet because they don’t know what kind of family I come from. The mystery warrants some of their wariness.

Today is just one of those days.

Kuan slides into the seat opposite me at lunch break, dropping his tray of lunch harder than usual onto the table. I cock an eyebrow but continue cutting my steak up into smaller cubes.

I hear a humph and I look up to find a snooty face. I don’t remember his name, just like I don’t remember many others, but he seems like he has something to say. Another guy, bespectacled, nudges him in the rib.

“Shut it, bossman says not to touch him when he goes to her.”

Snooty frowns, “She’s just nobody, what’s bossman talking about?”

I’ve just put a beef cube into my mouth at this point, but I look up at Snooty then and give him a small smile. Glasses sees it and blanches, dragging Snooty by force away from our table.

“Wish I can smile and they would go away too.” Kuan chuckled quietly, before heaving a huge sigh.

I swallow before replying, “Just a year left, bear with it.”

There isn’t really much else we could do. They never get physical, so reporting them is useless. They also make sure to be out of any teachers’ earshot and the lack of substantial evidence is a bummer. Our tolerance for these shenanigans doesn’t mean we don’t love payback.

Kuan gets an hour of peace as I take my own time to finish my lunch and before my chauffeur arrives to pick me up. My phone buzzes just as I inhale the last of my parfait.

Uncle Liu: Miss, I am here to pick you up.
Me: walking over, 5 mins 🙂

“You going?” Kuan looks at me. He has long finish his lunch and is pushing leftover carrots around his plate.

I nod and grin. He shakes his head but grabs his bag as I take mine. He walks with me to the foyer most of the time, not just for the company but because the walkway to the hostel is right by the entrance.

“You are probably one of the few wealthy asses who is always happy to go home.”

I roll my eyes at him, “That makes me one of the nicer asses.”

“Your bar for ‘nice’ is really low.” He snorts.

I’m about to mock-punch him when someone crashes into me. I stumble forward and manage to keep myself steady by grabbing onto Kuan.

I turn back to see a girl on the floor, utterly disheveled. Her blazer is missing, her white uniform top is torn. Her ponytail is in disarray and she has scratch marks running down her arms.

I hear the second humph of my day, but it is from a girl this time, who then throws the disheveled girl’s blazer down at her feet. “Of all the people you could run to, you run into these two. Truly, nobody is going to help you.”

“I don’t need help standing up to a bully.” The girl stood up, clearly in pain, but she definitely has one hell of a backbone.

Kuan whispers, “That’s Rong Muyi. The bitch is Cheng Nian-nian.”

I vaguely recall reading a recent news of the Chengs clinching a huge villa construction project. There are some rumours flying around the method of which they use to get the project. Otherwise, the sure-winner of the project is the Mus. I don’t really know what the connection is between Rong Muyi and Cheng Nian-nian.

I make a face that tells Kuan of my confusion and also indecision as to whether to offer help. His eyes widen but he gives me a nonchalant shrug in return.

Since Uncle Liu is waiting for me by the car just several steps away, I make a gesture at him, indicating he should wait in the car. He gives me a subtle nod and goes into the driver’s seat.

I’m standing right behind Rong Muyi when she looks around just to check who Cheng Nian-nian is referring to. Her eyes are lit with fire in them, though tears are also threatening to fall. She sweeps her flyaway hair back and a shine catches my eye.

The ring on her finger has a peculiar crest. I can’t make out the details but it definitely has a panda on it. Most families prefer majestic or predatory creatures. Only the Mus are eccentric enough to incorporate a panda into their crest. That reminds me — Rong Muyi is engaged to Mu Zhu. Still, it makes no sense for Nian-nian to have any beef with Muyi, at last to my knowledge.

“Rong Muyi, you call me a bully when I was the one who was supposed to be Mu Zhu’s fiancée. You stole him from under my nose, you are to blame for Mu’s losing the project.” Nian-nian’s voice is just a notch below shouting, but enough to gather a crowd. Drama is the rich’s favourite pastime.

“You were the one who copied Mu Zhu’s file and caused them to lose the bid. You stole their information for your own family because you cannot bear being the weakest link. That is the sole reason your engagement is cancelled.” Muyi’s chest heaved with rage. “How will your family even manage to win then, with your only record being casinos and not villas or even resorts?”

“Lies!” Nian-nian shrieks, then bit her lip. “You were the one who slept with Mu Zhu after our engagement. You made him waver. You cost me my engagement!”

Muyi open and shut her mouth. I sigh internally, I suppose there is truth in Nian-nian’s words as Muyi deflates visibly.

“I wonder who slept with the board director that awarded the project.” Kuan’s voice is coated with mock curiosity.

Muyi and the small crowd that has gathered look towards him. He shrugs, “I’m just saying.”

Kuan’s seemingly casual remark seem to have touch a nerve with Nian-nian because she turns beet red. “What did you say?”

“I said, I wonder who slept with the director that awarded the project.” He repeats, drawling this time. Kuan can really tick someone off when he wants to.

Nian-nian strides over and grabs him by the collar. “Don’t just say things you don’t know, moron.”

The corner of his mouth twitches like he is about to smile. He whispers so that only Nian-nian and I can hear, “Oh, but I do know, Miss Cheng. Did you know my grandfather used to be classmates with the board director?”

Nian-nian freezes but regains her composure fast, “And I should believe you just because you said so? Who knows how many lies you’ve told?”

Just then, someone calls out from the crowd, “Hey Cheng Nian-nian, is he right?”

“Yeah, Nian-nian, tell us the truth!”

“Dude, he must be right. She’s totally overreacting because she got caught.”

“Hahaha, pot calling the kettle black.”

Nian-nian can’t bear the people laughing at her when she’s standing right there. She shoves Kuan and raises her hand, “I’ll sue you for slander.”

I catch her hand before it lands on Kuan’s face. She seems to have forgotten that I’m standing right there, “Please don’t hit my friend.”

“Oh, now he’s your friend? Wasn’t he just using you as a shield?” Nian-nian smirks, “Who are you anyway? You’re just nobody.”

“I have a name, it’s Ling Qi. Kuan is my friend so I protect him. That is what friends do.” I explain to her with an air of someone speaking to a toddler, knowing it will infuriate her further.

“Is that so?” She sneers, “Then you can take this slap on his behalf.”

I block her hand once again, “Not sure you really want to do that, but it’s better if you don’t.”

“Your threats don’t work against me, Ling Qi.” Nian-nian spits words at me. “I don’t know where you come from, but I’m sure you are no different from Yan Kuan. Garbage of the same smell are trashed together.”

Just then, one brave soul of a boy walks over to her, I reckon he must be an acquaintance. “Nian-nian, don’t do this. Everyone is watching.”

She shrugs him off, “That is precisely why I am doing this. Everyone is so scared of her, why are you so scared of her? Look, she is the same as him.”

She takes a step forward to stab me in the shoulder with one well-polished finger, “Nobody likes you, not even your family which is why they don’t even want to acknowledge you as a part of them.

Your mother’s probably dead, just like his, so you don’t know how to do your nails. Nobody helps you iron your clothes, probably why you always have a hoodie to hide the creases. You love assemblies because you get to wear the blazer, the best piece of clothing you own. Am I wrong? Why are you all quiet now?”

She walks around me in a circle as I listen to her conjure up nonsense about my background.

“Kuan has a tragic backstory at least. What about you? Oh, maybe you are the bastard child of the family. Was it your father? Or your mother? I bet it’s your father because I think a mother would take better care of her daughter. Did your father not like you? Maybe you look too much like the woman he had outside so he can’t bear to look at you?”

I take a deep breath as Nian-nian grows braver, now that she has the crowd at attention because of me, forgetting that it is her morals being questioned by Kuan. As she goes on and on, Kuan looks at me and shakes his head surreptitiously to the left. There are teachers in the crowd.

He remembers my limit. Like Kuan, most remarks just bounce off us and we feel nothing. However, the one thing that shortens my fuse to almost nothing will be people talking shit about my father.

“Your father’s probably some loser that messed up with a whor–” Nian-nian’s sentence is cut short as I swing a punch into her little face. My martial arts teacher will be really proud of me if he sees this.

There is a collective gasp. I dust my hands, as though I have touched something dirty. She cups her face as she looks at me in both pain and disbelief. The bruising has started, considering the amount of force I used. I’m surprised she still has all her teeth.

“Miss Ling,” The Physical Education teacher has jogged down to us and looks at me sternly.

“Hello sir, are we all going to the office of the principal or the disciplinary master?” I ask calmly.

His nostrils flare as he responds, “Principal. You, Miss Cheng Nian-nian, Mister Yan Kuan, and Miss Rong Muyi.”

“Miss?” I hear the gentle and familiar voice of Uncle Liu first before seeing his worried face.

I give him a reassuring smile, “Sorry Uncle Liu, you will have to wait a little more.”

“He might have to wait a while, maybe get one of your parents too.” The PE teacher informs us helpfully.

“You need me to get her father?” Uncle Liu asks, his voice suddenly sharp. “Are you a new teacher?”

The PE teacher looks a little miffed at being questioned, “Yes and no, I have been here for a year. Each one of them, except Mr Yan, will have to get one of their parent here.”

“Oh, a year.” Uncle Liu repeats, a knowing look on his face. “I will contact Miss Ling’s father, if you are really sure?”

“Yes, I am very sure, thank you.” The PE teacher gestures for us to follow him, leaving Uncle Liu at the foyer. The crowd parts as we walk through it to the principal’s office.

“Huh, so you actually have a father.” I’m amazed that Nian-nian can still speak with a swollen and bruised mouth.

I smile at her, “Yes, and my mother’s dead. That’s another helpful hint for you to figure out which families I can potentially belong to.”

“You might want to think fast,” Kuan adds with a smirk. He lowers his voice to a whisper before asking me, “Is your father really coming?”

“I guess…?” I whisper back, shrugging.

“Quiet, all of you.” The teacher snaps as we arrive at the principal’s door. He heads in first when the principal answers the first knock.

Before we are called into the room, I hear Muyi whisper, “Sorry for dragging you into this mess, Ling Qi and Yan Kuan.”

We turn to her and wave our hands dismissively in unison. I wink at her as Kuan says, “She got out of control, not your fault.”

All of us stand in front of the principal’s desk. He push his glasses up the bridge of his nose and look at us in turn, “Sit, ladies and gentleman.”

He pulls a new folder and some blank documents from his drawer. “You too, Mr Xuan. You will have to recount what you saw to me again, just to make sure you are also not adding extra details, with these four as witnesses to your account.”

Mr Xuan, the PE teacher, frowns a little but takes a seat too. The principal picks up the phone on his desk, pressing one button. “Get me the p files of Cheng Nian-nian, Ling Qi, Rong Muyi, and Yan Kuan.”

It is quiet in the room after he hangs up. The sunlight falling through the window hit the golden name plaque on his desk, giving his name ‘Murong Zhe’ a blinding glow.

Principal Murong uncaps his fountain pen and pushes up his glasses once more, “We have a while before their parents arrive. Let us begin, Mr Xuan.”

*****

Two hours later, the atmosphere behind me and Kuan feels as like frozen hell. Cheng Nian-nian is sitting with her parents, as is Rong Muyi with hers. The two families are looking daggers at each other and I’m counting down the time to when Mr Cheng will break the tea cup in his hand.

Mr Xuan fidgets in the tension. Kuan and I bask in the quietness of the principal’s room. Principal Murong clears his throat and I look up from my notebook.

“Is your father arriving soon, Miss Ling?” He asks.

Me: Uncle Liu called you?
King Water: Yes, I’ll go once I end this conference
Me: sorry 😦
King Water: silly goose ♥
Me: are you reaching soon? the rest are here
King Water: 5 to 10 mins, let my subjects wait
Me: lol

I check my phone. His reply is about five minutes ago, “Yeah, he should be here any minute.”

“He’s got some nerve, letting us wait.” Mr Cheng interjects, his tone condescending.

I twitch, annoyed, “He needed time to finish his business conference and rearrange his schedule before travelling here.”

“What kind of business could your father have to let us wait? I’m sure our time is worth more than his.” Nian-nian sneers, then grimaces in pain.

The school nurse has looked over her bruise, but it is just a superficial wound. Ice and ointment will only help it a little, she will need a buttload of make-up to cover it up. Nothing will help her hide the swelling though.

“Miss Cheng, please.” Mr Xuan says sternly, but Principal Murong’s glare is way more effective in keeping Nian-nian quiet. “Miss Ling, are you su-“

The door swings open before he can finish. Principal Murong stands up immediately, much more receptive to this man in the doorway than the two sets of parents he received earlier. Kuan and I stand up after him.

Mrs Cheng put down her tea cup with a clang on the glass table, “Finally! What-“

Whatever she wants to say is cut off with a sharp nudge from her husband, once he sees who just arrived.

A man in a dark velvet purple suit stands in the doorway. It isn’t just anyone who can carry off a suit of that colour, but he looks like a model if only he stops exuding the aura of someone ready to kill. He also has a slight crease between his brows, it almost feels like a permanent frown but I know better.

Mr and Mrs Rong’s eyes widen in surprise, but they bow their heads a little in respect, “Good afternoon, Mr Lü, what a surprise to see you in our children’s school.”

The newly arrived Mr Lü gives them a curt nod as he strides over to my seat and settles himself down comfortably. There is a light click and we turn to see Uncle Liu closing the door.

Mr Cheng takes a deep breath before speaking, “Er well, should we leave the room to you, sir? Mr Lü?”

Mr Lü turns around and gestures for them to sit down, “No, sit down, you are all part of it.”

“Sorry, but part of… what exactly, Mr Lü?” Mr Rong asks quietly.

Mr Lü looks at me as I have been standing quietly next to him after he took my chair. I make a ‘what?’ face at him and he nods his head towards the room.

“Excuse me, this is my father.”

There is about five seconds of stunned silence.

“C’mon, do you take us for idiots? You don’t even have the same surnames.” Nian-nian snorts.

My father has already taken the documents from Principal Murong and started reading. Principal Murong replies on his behalf, “Her actual name is Lü Lingqi, but she is enrolled as Ling Qi, by Mr Lü’s instructions.”

The room gape in unison, sans Kuan since he has sought refuge at our house before.

Ignoring the room’s reaction, my father drops the documents back on the desk, “You punched her?”

“…yeah.”

His eyebrows raise. “Because…?”

I purse my lips, “I was only triggered because she was throwing a lot of insults about you, without knowing who you are.”

“I didn’t know you are her father!” Nian-nian interrupts but shrinks back as my father shoots her a death glare for the interjection.

Muyi takes the chance to speak, “Excuse me, sir, it is because of me. I crashed into Lingqi by accident when Nian-nian shoved me. We were having a… heated argument.”

“I heard about that,” My father answers and addresses Muyi’s father, “Sorry about the loss, Yiguo. It would have been a magnificent place for a vacation.”

“Thank you.” His reply is a fervent whisper. His wife squeezes his arm, encouraging and comforting him.

My father turns to Principal Murong, “What’s your final decision?”

“I settled for suspension for Miss Cheng, verbal warnings for Miss Rong and Mr Yan,” Principal Murong pauses, as though he still has some reservations but ploughs on, “Then detention for Miss Lü since she did do physical damage.”

“Suspension? You can’t suspend my Nian-nian!” Mrs Cheng rebukes, “Examinations is just around the corner, she will have to stay an extra six months for the next round of grading.”

My father speaks as though she has never opened her mouth, “Detention? Reduce it.”

“Mr Lü, that is an unfair treatment especially when Lingqi punched someone! We cannot do that.” Mr Xuan answers, indignant.

Principal Murong opens my personal file and writes in it, “Verbal warning for Miss Lü too.”

“Principal!” Mr Xuan is clearly outraged.

Mrs Cheng takes her chance at this, striding forward and banging on the principal’s desk, “Well, reduce Nian-nian’s punishment too!”

Mr Cheng tries to drag her back, “Dear, don’t push it.”

“What do you mean? Why can her punishment be reduced but not Nian-nian’s? Our daughter is the one who got hit!”

My father stands up, gesturing at me and Kuan to take our bags. He never has much patience in these scenarios.

“Excuse me, Mr Lü, you can’t just leave!” Mr Xuan exclaims.

“These 3 children’s punishments have been meted out, did you need something else?” My father looks down at him, the PE teacher who is a head shorter.

“There is something clearly wrong with the way you are handling your child!”

“Mr Xuan, know where you stand.” Principal Murong warns.

My father sits back down again, sighing audibly. “So according to Mr Xuan here, Lingqi is wrong to punish Miss Cheng for insulting me. All of the insults being falsehoods too, which makes Lingqi wrong… how?”

“Using physical violence is not a solution, sir.” Mr Xuan replies patiently.

“Well, was Miss Cheng listening to verbal advice?”

There is a moment of awkward silence, before Muyi holds out her scratched arms, “Clearly, no.”

Mrs Cheng pipes up then, “If that is the case, don’t suspend Nian-nian, just give her a verbal warning too.”

“Is she punishing Miss Rong for telling untruths?” My father asks.

Mrs Cheng nods vehemently. “Of course! Why else will Nian-nian be so agitated?”

“You mean Miss Rong is lying when she said Miss Cheng stole Mr Mu Zhu’s proposal for the bid?”

“Well, yes, my daughter and I don’t participate much in the business.” Mrs Cheng answers, but Mr Cheng suddenly looks extremely uncomfortable with his eyes darting everywhere but on my father.

My father smiles at her, not unkindly. “Maybe you should participate a little bit more, Mrs Cheng. Your daughter is a great example.”

“What did you do, Nian-nian?” Mrs Cheng shakes her daughter by the shoulders.

Mrs Rong answers when Nian-nian keeps mum, “She ruined her own engagement. Ah Zhu found out she stole his proposal and called her out, but she wouldn’t own up to it so we cancelled the engagement.”

Nian-nian’s tears fall as she breaks into uncontrollable sobbing. Mrs Cheng gapes at her own daughter, not believing what she is hearing.

“But the proposal is too good, isn’t it, Mr Cheng?” My father says as he taps away on his phone, “You changed a few items on it but your ideas just pale in comparison with Mu Zhu’s talent. Since the engagement failed by Miss Cheng’s hands, you decided she was going to make up for it — by making her part of the offer.”

The disgust on both my father’s and Mr Rong’s face is evidence enough for Mrs Cheng. She collapses onto the chair vacated by Kuan, defeated.

“You don’t know that,” Mr Cheng manages to squeeze those words out of himself.

My father holds up his phone then and gives it a light tap.

Male Voice A: That’s fucking disgusting, how old are you to even sleep with Cheng Bin’s daughter?
Male Voice B: I ain’t turning down meat that’s sent to my doorstep. Anyway, his proposal is almost similar to Mu’s.
Male Voice A: That’s preposterous, Mu’s is much better and well thought out. Mu also has better resources.
Male Voice B: C’mon, I fucked the girl, I gotta award it to them first. If problems arise, we can just use Mu’s plans as the contingency.
Male Voice A: You’re disgusting, if CEO Lü hears about this, you’re fucking dead meat.
Male Voice B: How’s he gonna know? You gonna tell him?
Male Voice A: I’m not gonna waste my money on a substandard proposal.
Male Voice B: Hey man, we’ve been friends since high school. Gimme a break.
Male Voice A: You got your fair share by sleeping the girl. I am not risking it by messing with CEO Lü’s money.
Male Voice B: If you do this, we are over!
Male Voice A: Are you kidding? You were the one that nee-

The voice recording is cut short as we have all heard enough.

“Y-you’re an investor for this project?” Mr Cheng stutters.

“Yes, Mr Rong knew that. I’m surprised you didn’t.” My father slids the phone back into his jacket. “The other man in this recording is this boy’s grandfather, if you still think you can wheedle out of this.”

“Am I still teaching my kid wrong, Mr Xuan?” The teacher jumps a little as my father addresses him after exposing Cheng’s dirty laundry. “Can we leave now?”

Principal Murong bends over in a 90-degree bow, “My apologies for the trouble, Mr Lü. Thank you for making the trip here.”

“You were doing good, except your reins seem to have loosen somewhere.” My father looks pointedly at Mr Xuan, “I’ll see you around for a lunch soon then, Zhe.”

The principal straightens and adjusts his tie, “Sure, I’ll put it in with Uncle Liu.”

My father shoos Kuan and I ahead of him. Just before he exits the room, he gives Mr Rong a message to pass on. “Tell Mu Zhu to prepare for a second presentation, he’ll be doing it in a day or two.”

“Yes, Mr Lü. Thank you so much!” The Rong family thanks him profusely.

My father waves them off, “Not my credit. Let’s go, Old Liu.”

“Yes, sir.” Uncle Liu shuts the door with a cheery click and walks briskly ahead of us to get the car running.

My father, Kuan, and I walk in silence to the foyer. Kuan turns to him, bowing deep as he says, “Thank you, Uncle. Sorry for the trouble.”

“It’s fine. It’s good to retaliate when people start to stop fearing you.”

“Uh…”

“Don’t listen to his mobster advice.” I laugh and wave, “See you tomorrow, Kuan.”

My father chuckles, “Bye kid.”

“Bye Uncle, see ya Qi.”

Two black sedans sit waiting for us. My father walks to the window of the second one, which is rolled down promptly. “Old Liu, you can head back first, we’ll just use one car.”

“Yes, sir.”

We pop into the back of the first sedan, driven by the son of Uncle Liu. I give him a cheery greeting, “Heya, Captain Liu.”

“Good evening, Miss. Where are we headed, sir?”

My father checks his watch, sighs at the time, then looks at me. “You hungry, Qi?”

“You didn’t eat?” I narrow my eyes at him.

He answers with a sheepish grin, “The school doesn’t usually want me to come down.”

“Urgh, let’s go to the soup restaurant and stuff you with food. Way to make me feel bad, pa!”

“Nooo, look on the bright side, Qi. Now I can come pick you up if I want to.” He smiles happily.

“Right, and the whole school will be clamouring for attention.” I groan.

His phone rings and his composure changes immediately when he answers. I look at him and wonder, like I always do, if he’s the same when it came to my mother. The only time he is soft and gentle, is when he is with the people he loves. I make a mental note to ask my grandfather when I can finally meet him at my eighteenth birthday.

*****

Murong Zhe still has a defeated Cheng family and a bewildered Mr Xuan in his office. He clears his throat but the Chengs are unreceptive, so he has no choice except to say out loud, “Miss Cheng, please leave with your family.”

There is a great deal of shuffling as they make their way out. Mr Xuan hovers by the door after they leave, obviously unsure whether he should leave too.

“Mr Xuan, please do not make the decision to call any student’s parents to the school as lightly as you did today.” Zhe pushes his glasses up. “While I understand your good intentions, but a year isn’t a long time at this school and you need a much deeper understanding of the students before making such decisions. You should always consult me if unsure.”

“Yes, principal. My apologies for the inconvenience.” Mr Xuan bows.

“I will talk to you about this more tomorrow. We’ve been through enough today and I have loose ends to tie up.” With that, Zhe dismisses the PE teacher.

He is about to leave the room when he turns to ask, “Who exactly is Miss Ling’s father?”

“You will have to call her Miss Lü from now on,” Zhe smiles bitterly as he makes a mental note to change Lingqi’s name on all school records. “He is Lü Hai, though you may be more familiar with the Glory Corporation. He’s the current CEO.”

Mr Xuan’s jaw drops. Zhe chuckles at his reaction, “See you tomorrow.”

The Glory Corporation is a multinational conglomerate. They started with fashion, but have now expanded to having several branches, including confectionery, video games, engineering, construction, and education. While it is one of the top three corporations in the nation, the current Glory is also not to be messed with due to Lü Hai’s personal relationships. His late wife, Zhang Ling, is the daughter of infamous mob boss, Zhang Qiling, who is now an indispensable informer to the head commissioner of police.

Murong Zhe often wonders if his friendship with Lü Hai is a blessing or a time-bomb in disguise. But that is a question for another day. For now, his main concern is having Lü Lingqi graduate smoothly.


Footnotes:

Kindly DO NOT REPOST the entire piece. Quotes and excerpt allowed with a link back to this site, page, or my twitter @thebaozy. Thank you!

Chinese counterpart for the names used —

  • Jing Yun Private School 璟云私塾
  • Ling Qi 凌祁
  • Lü Lingqi 吕灵祁
  • Lü Hai 吕海
  • Yan Kuan 严宽
  • Rong Muyi 荣慕一
  • Cheng Nian-nian 程年年
  • Mu Zhu 穆竹
  • Uncle Liu 刘伯 / 老刘
  • Captain Liu 刘队
  • Rong Yiguo 荣义国
  • Cheng Bin
  • Murong Zhe 慕容哲
  • Mr Xuan 宣老师
  • Glory Corporation 荣耀集团
  • Zhang Ling 张凌
  • Zhang Qiling 张齐灵

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