Gu Yu stared blankly for a while before he moved his eyes up and down, sizing the guy up.
The young man was about the same age as Gu Yu. He had quite a light skin tone and there was a harsh feeling about the way he looked at people. He had a matching light-grey sportswear with the top zipped open and wore a pair of fawn climbing boots.
Gu Yu recognized those boots immediately. They were the latest style of Jack Wolfskin and were sold for at least 5000 yuan a pair.
He was not a frequent internet shopper and preferred to browse through all sorts of online shops, quite similar to women’s neverending window-shopping trips. The guy in front of him was obviously a rich "second generation", but that was not the point. The most important thing was, he could recognize Gu Yu’s incense.
He was happy to sell incense to those who could appreciate his work, but had to sell it to those who couldn’t appreciate it all the same. For someone like Gu Yu, who wanted to make money but was unwilling to yield to reality, this rich kid was a godsend!
"These three are all Fresh Petal Incense. One would be enough for you." He reminded his customer.
"That’s alright. Bag them all for me, please. By the way, do you have any other scent?" Asked the young man.
"Sorry, no. These are the only ones," Gu Yu put the sachets together and closed the lid. He handed them to the guy. "That’s 180 yuan in total."
The guy paid up at once and took the case in his hand. He then pondered for a few seconds and asked, "Hey, mate, did you make these?"
"What did you put in there? It smelt really comfortable."
"I’m really into it. Why don’t you name a price and sell me the recipe?"
He tried his best to act innocent and ignorant, but Gu Yu only smiled at him without saying a word.
What the hell!
The guy felt incredibly embarrassed and a bit ashamed at the same time. He managed to calm himself down before losing his temper, then turned around and called out, "Xiao Meng, stop playing! It’s time, we should leave!"
"Just a moment, it’s almost finished eating."
"If we don’t leave now, we’ll miss lunch!"
Those words were very convincing. The girl immediately patted the crumbs off her hands and waved goodbye to the squirrel before walking slowly towards him.
Seeing that her boyfriend was holding a case, she asked curiously, "What do you have there?"
"What incense?" She asked with a blank face.
"Well, um, you know about the perfumed sachets ancient people took with them? It’s just like those."
"Ah, you’ve definitely been tricked! How can you find anything decent in a place like this? It must be full of chemical stuff," the girl complained in a whisper.
"I’m not so sure about that…"
The young man looked back. The owner was cleaning the peanuts shells on the ground with a broom. The squirrel made a few mocking sounds and jumped back up the tree again.
He turned back and lowered his voice, as if murmuring to himself, "Maybe I’ll have to count on these tonight."
It was evening time in Bai Town.
A silver Land Rover was parked on the side of a street. In it sat a man and a woman, who were none other but the couple on Phoenix Mountain from earlier.
The young man took out a sachet and unsealed it carefully. The sachet opened revealing the powder inside, which was light-brown in color and extremely finely milled. The granules were plump and even, having a light fragrance.
He picked up one with his fingertips and studied it closely. He frowned only to relax his eyebrows after a moment, and even licked it with his tongue all of a sudden. His girlfriend watched him with a baffled look and finally could not stand him any longer.
"Zeng Shufei, what on earth are you doing?"
He came to himself and replied, "I want to see what’s in it."
"Have you figured it out, then?"
"No, I didn’t. Some of the ingredient are so strange, unlike…"
Before he finished the sentence, his girlfriend pushed the door open and left the car.
"Gosh! Xiao Meng!"
He went after her in a hurry and grabbed her by the arm. "You know this is a crucial time for me now. My elder sister and I are competing against each other with everything we have right now and my father can not make a decision. If I can make my grandmother happy this time, I’ll probably nail it!"
"With this?" The girl pointed at the humble-looking powder.
"Well, you won’t understand…" The young man also stared at the powder with an indescribable look.
The guy’s name was Zeng Shufei; his girl was called Li Meng. The two had been together for two years now. His grandmother was from Bai Town. She had a son and was widowed at a young age. She was then motivated by the period of reform and opening-up and left the town to make a living.
His grandmother was quite a capable woman. She made her own career in the provincial city and established a company dealing in building materials. Zeng Shufei's father was called Zeng Guoxiang; aside from Zeng Shufei, he also had a daughter, Zeng Yuewei. Shufei’s father inherited their grandmother’s company, and Shufei and Yuewei also worked in this company after graduating from a university.
The two were both talented young people and it was hard tell who was better. Their father wanted to promote one of them to a project manager. One position, two equally loved children—it was a difficult choice. Hence, the decision had still not been made.
As for their grandmother herself, after her retirement, she bought a big house and moved back to Bai Town to live an easy life. She was into incense-making in recent years. Today happened to be her birthday and a bunch of people gathered to celebrate with her. The Zeng siblings both had a similar idea—they wanted to use this occasion to try to impress their grandmother.
Zeng Shufei himself was genuinely fond of incense, regardless of things like family influence or trying to please his grandmother. This Fresh Petal Incense’s smell was peculiar and unconventional, hence he decided to bet on it.
The two stayed in the car for a long time and he still couldn’t figure out the ingredients. Seeing that it was getting late, he had no choice but give up trying.
The Land Rover traveled along the main road for some distance, then turned into an alley and parked outside a restaurant with an impressive front gate. A black plaque with golden characters hung above the gate, big red lanterns accompanying it on both sides.
Recognizing the brand of the vehicle, the waiter put on an obsequious smile and opened the door for them at once. "Welcome. Do you have a reservation? I’ll show you the way."
Zeng Shufei replied coldly, took Li Meng by her hand and went straight upstairs. The rejected waiter retreated to the door, looking embarrassed.
They arrived at a compartment on the second floor. After pushing open the door, they found a dozen guests already sitting inside.
"Good evening, grandmother! Hello dad, mum! Hello uncle and auntie!"
He greeted everyone in turn. When he came to a girl with short hair, he paused and smiled, "Hey, sister!"
"You’re so late, Xiao Fei! We’ve been waiting for you!"
That was none other than Zeng Yuewei. She had delicate features, but similar to her younger brother, there was a harsh feeling about her. After her indifferent comment, their aunt suddenly came up to them and took Li Meng by her hands. She said to grandmother, "Auntie, this is Xiao Fei’s girlfriend. I’ve only met her once but have come to like her so much. Here, don’t you think she’s a perfect match for our Xiao Fei?"
"Oh, you’re Xiao Meng, right? Come here and sit next to me. Xiao Fei, you come here, too."
Granny Zeng was not very tall and had a kind face. She waved to the couple to let them sit down and added, "Xiao Meng, I’ve heard so much about you from Xiao Fei. He said you were gentle and pretty. Now that I’ve finally met you, oh my, my grandson indeed has very good taste!"
"Thank you, grandma. Xiao Fei is a very nice boy as well," Li Meng was a bit reserved.
"I heard that you are still a student?"
"Yes, I’m in a graduate school now."
"Any future plans?"
"Well, my major is Chinese, so I might get a teaching qualification and become a teacher."
"Good. It’s excellent to be a teacher and educate others. I didn’t put enough effort in my studies when I was young, and had a rough time because of that. Good, you have granny’s support."
While they were chatting happily, Zeng Yuewei snorted silently to herself. Her brother had deliberately brought his girlfriend here to please the old lady. Despicable! She had just broken up with her boyfriend and could not just bring a man out of the blue. Luckily, she had a different card up her sleeve.
As a matter of fact, the siblings used to be very close to each other and their incompatibility started appearing much later. It couldn’t be helped. For a company worth billions, no one could stay indifferent.
Everyone in this room were family members and not a lot of pleasantries were needed. The atmosphere was quite lively. Granny Zeng was retired, but the judgement and experience she gained through decades of fierce competition in the business world did not fade away. She could obviously tell that the junior family members were planning something.
She could not be bothered to meddle with them. As long as things looked fine on the surface, she would rather play the role of a kind old lady, especially with her grandson and granddaughter. To her, competition was necessary, but it could not cross the light of breaking family bonds.
After much feasting and toasting, Zeng Guoxiang stood up as the head of the family and said, "I’ll have a few words. Today is mother’s birthday, as well as a family gathering. We’ve all been busy with our lives and it’s a rare occasion that we can get together like this. Here, let’s have a toast. We wish her long life and happiness!"
The crowd stood up one after another, addressing the birthday lady accordingly.
"Happy birthday, mum!"
"Happy birthday, auntie!"
"Happy birthday, granny!"
Glasses clinked and wine was swallowed clean. Grandmother was the only one nipping at her warm wine.
Zeng Yuewei felt it was the right time and brought out a gift box. She said with a smile, "Granny, I got this specially for you. It’s nothing expensive, but it took me a lot of effort to find it. I hope you’ll like it."
"Oh, you didn’t have to do that. I know you’re a thoughtful girl… Wei Wei, I’ll open it then."
Grandmother took over the gift box and opened it. In it were a brocade box and a long incense tube. After opening the two containers, a dark-brown string of wooden beads was in the box; the tube contained some incense sticks.
The old lady knew her stuff. Seeing that the beads were full of luster with natural patterns and the scent was elegant yet long-lasting, she immediately knew it was of high quality. She complimented, "That was very thoughtful of you, Wei Wei. That’s the underwater agarwood from Qiongzhou, isn’t it?"
"Granny is so good at this. That’s correct!"
Zeng Yuewei leaned in and pursed her lips into a smile. "I went to Qiongzhou myself to pick the raw material and almost got tricked. The incense sticks are also top-notch Soothing Incense, very suitable for you."
"Oh, very nice."
The old lady nodded. She was pleased, but did not express it explicitly. After putting the gift away, she looked expectantly at Zeng Shufei.