Bai Mo sat in the office of the branch manager of Huaxia Bank’s City A branch with a smile on his face. The first two button of his shirt were unfastened, and the necktie that hung loosely on his neck gave him an air of elegance mixed with the temperament of a ruffian.
The branch manager, Shi Changshu, who was in the middle of a meeting, was stunned when he heard of Bai Mo’s arrival. He then instructed his secretary to lead Bai Mo to his office, and hastily ended his meeting.
Before he walked into the office, Shi Changshu called out to his secretary, Hu Xiao. The beautiful lady with an amazing body figure had worked under Shi Changshu for many years, and her efficiency at work was as good as her looks.
Hu Xiao walked out of Shi Changshu’s office slowly after serving a cup of top grade Tieguanyin tea to Bai Mo and closed the elegant wooden door lightly behind her. She nodded at Shi Changshu who was waving at her and walked up to her boss calmly.
This was one of the reasons Shi Changshu appointed Hu Xiao as his secretary. She was able to remain calm in any situation, which prevented her from making mistakes.
A subordinate who does no mistake might sound like an impossibility for some, but Hu Xiao was indeed such a person.
“Manager, do you need something from me?” Hu Xiao greeted her superior.
Shi Changshu nodded, “Why is he here?” and he furrowed his eyebrows. It was obvious that the man was nervous.
“I’m not sure about that, sir. Mr.Bai said nothing about it.” replied Hu Xiao apologetically. With her position as Shi Changshu’s secretary, many of the visitors that came looking for Hu Xiao’s boss would usually make their intentions known to her. They would seek Hu Xiao’s advice about their business, who would then analyze the matter at hand for them and report to Shi Changshu to give him a clear picture of the situation.
With the important role Hu Xiao played in influencing any decision that might be made by Shi Changshu, many of his visitors would try their best to creep up her sleeves. This meant that Shi Changshu would be able to prepare for his meeting with his visitors with the information he gained through Hu Xiao.
However, things were different this time. Bai Mo said nothing when he came looking for Shi Changshu. This was why it came as a cause for concern to the man.
The Bai family… Is not to be trifled with…
Even when Bai Zixuan had no other siblings, and Bai Mo was his only child… Shi Changshu could not afford to cross the Bai family.
The Huaxia Bank was a privately owned bank that started its business not more than eighty years ago, but its wealth could rival even that of the National Bank. The Huaxia Bank was the number one private bank in China, but it once faced an unprecedented financial crisis during its fifth year of operating as a bank.
Just when all hopes were lost, and the bank was ready to sell off its assets, a man signed a contract with the director of Huaxia Bank. It was a permanent contract that would be legally valid as long as Huaxia Bank remained operational. Even if the bank was sold out to another bank in the future, the contract would still be valid.
One could tell from the validity period of this contract alone that it was not signed on equal grounds. The terms that were agreed upon was indeed considered unfair, but no matter how absurd they may be, it still ended up as a legally binding contract. Of course, this was due to the fact that the director had signed another contract with the man to renounce all rights by the bank to ever pursue the legality of such a contract.
Nobody was willing to be treated like an idiot, and the director of the Huaxia Bank back then was no exception. However, the immeasurable wealth possessed by that man came as a strong persuasion. The man promised to deposit all his wealth into the Huaxia Bank, and would not withdraw even a single cent from the bank in the next ten years. It was a huge risk for the man, and his wealth was able to save the Huaxia Bank from the brink of bankruptcy. Then again, if the bank went out of business despite his aid, wouldn’t it mean that the man lost everything?
One could say that the man was very insightful with his investment.
The man asked for 49% of Huaxia Bank’s shares, and promised to not interfere with the management of the bank. From the point of view of an outsider, the shares owned by the man meant nothing, but the higher ups of the Huaxia Bank knew better. They knew that Huaxia Bank would be finished if the man decided to pull all of his shares out of the bank.
However, the man did not appear again after signing the contract. The wealth that he left with the Huaxia Bank became the ever-growing gold reserve that was stored in the underground vault at the bank’s HQ. There was something else stored in the very same vault: the contract with the man that saved the life of the Huaxia Bank.
The man, with the surname Bai, was none other than the grandfather of Bai Zixuan, and the great-grandfather of Bai Mo.
Nobody knew where did the money came from, as the current Bai family led very ordinary people leading ordinary lives. Of course, it might have something to do with the nature of the members of the Bai family. Instead of the thrilling lives experienced by the upper echelon of the society, they preferred a normal lifestyle.
Bai Mo himself learnt about the contract from his father. He was given a copy of the contract and a seal when he was 20 years old, and was told that he could access the funds in the Huaxia Bank as long as they have the seal and was proven to be a member of the Bai family. The members of the Bai family appeared to have forgotten about the contract, and one could also say that they have grown used to their ordinary lifestyle. Because of that, none of them had gotten into contact with the Huaxia Bank for that wealth. This, however, did not mean that the wealth belonged to the Huaxia Bank. As the years past and that wealth continued to grow, the anxiety of the management of the Huaxia Bank grew with it as well. They were waiting for a member of the Bai family to appear and claim that wealth, but were living in fear because of that as well.
They wanted a member of the Bai family to claim the shares as they did not wish to prolong their agony. The moment that wealth was claimed was the moment the Huaxia Bank would finally be rid of the Bai family.
Then again, they were afraid because the chairman of the Huaxia Bank held 63% of the bank’s shares, but the 49% of the shares owned by the Bai family was actually included in the shares help by the chairman. If the Bai family staked their claim, it would bring a huge impact to the Huaxia Bank’s ownership.
This was why the fear and anxiety among the higher ups of the Huaxia Bank grew as their wealth grew. But when they received no news from the Bai family after over a decade, the higher ups of the Huaxia Bank was relieved. Perhaps the Bai family had died off.
Their relief was proven to be short-lived when Bai Mo appeared.
The Huaxia Bank was a private bank that started off as a family business. The first director of the bank was from the Shi family. He was the grandfather of Shi Changshu. Unlike the Bai family, the Shi family blossomed with many offsprings. They maintained a strict policy even when Huaxia Bank was a family business. Only members of the family who were capable were appointed to positions of power within the bank. Out of the six of Shi Changshu’s uncles, only three of them had the capabilities to hold important positions in the business. Those who were less capable were cut off from the family and could only lead very ordinary lives.
Shi Changshu could not believe his own eyes when Bai Mo appeared in his office five years ago with a seal and the results of a DNA test proving that he was indeed a member of the Bai family. He knew about the deal between the Bai family and Huaxia Bank since he was young, but had never seen a member of the Bai family before. Some members of the Shi family assumed that the Bai family have died off, while many others dismissed the incident as a mere myth.
That was why Shi Changshu was stunned into silence for three full minutes when Bai Mo first appeared before him.
At that very moment, Shi Changshu’s mind went blank. There was even a split second when he thought that the Huaxia Bank was finished. The 20 years old young man then smiled at him, “I’m not here because of the money, nor am I here to find out about the assets the Bai family currently owns. I’m here to let you know that the Bai family is still around.”
His simple words were not good news to the Shi family.
Bai Mo left after Shi Changshu and the management of the Huaxia Bank confirmed his identity. The members of the Shi family experienced one of their most agonizing evening on that day. Try as they might, none of them was able to enjoy a good night’s sleep on that day.
And the Bai family disappeared just like that once again.
Bai Mo stayed true to his word. He did not withdraw a single cent out of the Bai family’s account. He did not even attempt to access the only Diamond-tier account in the entire Huaxia Bank. He disappeared without a trace.
And five years have passed since then.
During the five years, Huaxia Bank made multiple attempts to transfer their assets but their efforts were thwarted by the Economic Court that begun monitoring the Huaxia Bank a day after Bai Mo’s appearance. The Shi family was forced to comply and continue to run the Huaxia Bank.
Shi Changshu had always imagine the moment Bai Mo would once again appear in his office. Would he be acting all high and mighty? Or would he be courteous and humble? He did not expect Bai Mo to appear out of the blue, and his appearance caught Shi Changshu off guard.
What is he here for this time?
Shi Changshu took in a deep breath and tried his best to calm himself down.
Nobody could remain completely calm with a knife held against their throat, and even an experienced businessman like Shi Changshu was no exception. It took him a long moment to muster the energy to enter his office.
Five years have passed, and the handsome young man has matured even further. He was standing in front of the glass window, staring down at the bustling city as he sipped on his tea.
“Mr.Bai.” said Shi Changshu with a smile as he stared at Bai Mo.
Bai Mo turned around and faced Shi Changshu with a smile of his own, “Ah, Mr.Shi. It’s been awhile.”
“Yeah, it’s been five years. Like they say, time flies.” Shi Changshu was a businessman, but he was also a person who was born out of a literary family.
“I finally know why banks like to have their office at high places.” Bai Mo turned around to face the window once again. He took a whiff of the fragrant aroma of his tea, and raised his cup to his lips.
“And why is that?” Shi Changshu walked up to Bai Mo and looked down at the city as well.
Bai Mo responded with a smile, “Mr.Shi, don’t you want to know why I’m here?”
“Well, since you’re here Mr.Bai, I’m sure you’ll let me know eventually. There’s no need to press you for an answer.” Bai Mo had a calming effect on the people around him. A sudden calmness washed over Shi Changshu who was anxious moments ago as he stood beside Bai Mo.
“Allow me to start off by giving you an assurance.” Bai Mo chuckled, “I will not take my money away from your bank. I never will. As long as we’re able to maintain a healthy working relationship, my money shall remain in the Huaxia Bank forever.”
Shi Changshu was momentarily stunned when he heard Bai Mo’s words. The gentle young man was not as simple as he appeared to be. He could tell that Bai Mo was plotting something behind his unfathomable smile.
Of course, Shi Changshu remained silent. He was not a rookie who had just entered the business world. He would not allow himself to be affected by the words of Bai Mo, even if he held secrets that might be unfavorable for Huaxia Bank. He was confident in his abilities to handle a greenhorn like Bai Mo.
Despite his dissatisfaction at Bai Mo’s words, Shi Changshu did not allow his annoyance to show. “Then allow me to thank you in advance, Mr.Bai.” he said with a smile. He then took a seat at his desk, and motioned at a chair in front of him, “Please, have a seat.”
Bai Mo remained standing on his spot as he stared silently at Shi CHangshu. He cast a glance at the chair in front of the man’s desk, and took a seat on the sofa in the reception area instead. The smile remained on Bai Mo’s face as he folded his legs and rest his arms on his knees.
Shi Changshu was momentarily stunned by the gesture. He did not expect Bai Mo to return to his seat at the couch instead of taking a seat in front of his desk. This gesture that seemed so simple was not at all simple to Shi Changshu.
The vast majority of Shi Changsu’s visitors would adapt a master-follower mentality during their meetings. Shi Changshu was the master, while his visitors were the follower. Even if they started the meeting on equal footing, there were still some that might be nudged into that direction as they sat in front of Shi Changshu.
It was a very natural phenomenon. When two individuals sat face to face, the one who was at the lower ground would subconsciously feel inferior to his opposite number, and this would affect his or her judgement.
When Shi Changshu invited Bai Mo to take a seat on the chair in front of him, he was surprised when Bai Mo sat on the couch that was 10m away from him instead. The youth’s smile had never left his face during the exchange of words.
It was impossible for Shi Changshu to hold a conversation with Bai Mo from his desk as it meant that he would not be able to see Bai Mo’s nonverbal reaction clearly. Dragging his chair all the way to Bai Mo’s side was not an option as well as there was another couch near Bai Mo.
Shi Changshu walked up to the couch that was adjacent to Bai Mo’s seat after a moment of hesitation. He was able to close the distance, but it also meant that Bai Mo would be on an equal position with him. This was a very unfamiliar feeling for Shi Changshu.
“The tea here is very nice, Mr.Shi.” said Bai Mo with a smile on his face as he took a sip of tea and set his cup down onto the table. He had no intention of beating around the bush with Shi Changshu. He knew that he was not as cunning as the man who was almost as old as Bai Zixuan. Someone with that age and was holding such an important position was definitely not an ordinary person. The best course of action for Bai Mo was to go straight to the point.
“You can take some home with you if you want, Mr.Bai.” Shi Changshu kept his calm and continued his idle chatter with Bai Mo.
“I heard that the Huaxia Bank has made some investments in Fate. Or should I say… Mr.Shi has invested the funds from the A City branch into Fate…” the smile never left Bai Mo face as he spoke to Shi Changshu.
Shi Changshu’s hand trembled. How did he know about this? But as an experienced businessman, there was no way Shi Changshu would allow himself to be intimidated that easily by Bai Mo. He was quick to regain his composure and faced Bai Mo with a smile, “Fate is a popular game, and has the potential to lead the market of virtual economy. I’m sure I’m not the only one who did that. Any businessman with the slightest bit of foresight would’ve invested in Fate.”
“Of course,” Bai Mo nodded, “That’s why I want to withdraw some money for some investments in Fate as well.”
Relief washed over Shi Changshu when he heard Bai Mo’s words. Ahh… So he needs some money to invest in Fate. A sincere smile appeared on Shi Changshu’s face, “No problem. I’ll tell my people to get it done. How much do you need?”
The smile remained on Bai Mo’s face as he answered the question of Shi Changshu, “Everything owned by the Bai family. 49% of Huaxia’s shares.” and the man’s face immediately paled upon hearing Bai Mo’s words.
“Mr.Bai, how much was it again?” he creased his eyebrows.
“Everything.” said Bai Mo with a jolly expression, as if the amount of money discussed was nothing but a small change.
“Mr.Bai, you gave me your assurance that you will not be touching any of the money.” Shi Changshu realised that he had lost his calm, but in such a situation, not many could remain unperturbed. I, an elder, is being made a fool by a brat! Shi Changshu could feel anger boiling within him.
“I did, but it all depends on your sincerity Mr.Shi.” Shi Changshu’s apparent anger was completely ignored by Bai Mo.
“You’re accusing me of not being sincere? I haven’t even said anything much since I’ve entered this room, Mr.Bai. How can you tell that I’m being insincere?”
“But are you?”
Shi Changshu sneered coldly at Bai Mo’s question, “Mr.Bai, you don’t have to threaten me like that. Do you have any idea just how much money are we talking about?”
Bai Mo shook his head and replied honestly, “No, I don’t.”
“You don’t? And you’re telling me that you intend to invest everything the Bai family owns into Fate? Do you think that I’m a three years old? Only an idiot would act without taking the consequences into consideration.”
“Well, didn’t the Bai family did the same thing when we invested in your bank?” replied Bai Mo calmly.
The words were enough to stun Shi Changshu into silence, who stared at Bai Mo dumbfoundedly. He sat in silence, trying his best to make sense of Bai Mo’s words. He was unsure if Bai Mo was telling the truth, or was he merely trying to intimidate him with his words.
“A straightforward person does not resort to insinuations, Mr.Bai. What do you want me to do?” sighed Shi Changshu.
Bai Mo’s smile widened when he heard Shi Changshu’s words. He pulled two pieces of paper from his pocket, and placed them on the table, “What I want is simple. I want you to stop your loans to them, and pursue them for their debts.”
Shi Changshu saw the names on the pieces of paper: Lei Man and Yi Zhong. As the branch manager, he was not in charge of loans. After excusing himself from Bai Mo, Shi Changshu called the credit department. He received detailed information about the two individuals from the employees moments later that was relayed through Hu Xiao.
Bai Mo could not gain any information from the conversation between Shi Changshu and Hu Xiao as he could only hear grunts of affirmation from Shi Changshu’s end. He could, however, tell from the man’s solemn expression that Hu Xiao did not bring good news.
Bai Mo traced his finger along the brim of the cup as he studied Shi Changshu’s expression. Nobody can tell what was going on in his mind.
Shi Changshu ended his conversation with Hu Xiao after quite some moments, looked at the pieces of paper, and walked over to Bai Mo with a smile on his face, “Aiya, my subordinates work slow. Sorry about that, Mr.Bai.”
Despite the smile on his face, Shi Changshu was silently studying Bai Mo’s expression for every tiny details. He was desperate to figure out Bai Mo’s thoughts. He was disappointed when Bai Mo remained calm, as if his conversation with Hu Xiao did not matter.
This came as a big hindrance for Shi Changshu to make a good judgement of the situation. He sat on the couch and placed the two pieces of paper onto the table, “Mr.Bai, my subordinates in the credit department had run a check on these names. They were indeed loaned a rather large sum of money. I’m curious. Have the wronged you in any way?” said Shi Changshu with a smile on his face.
“Why? Does it have anything to do with the thing that I want you to do for me?” Bai Mo blinked.
“Or are you telling me that you are not a banker, but a superhero? If they have indeed wronged me, you’ll immediately take revenge on them in my stead? Or perhaps you’re going to beg for forgiveness for them?” said Bai Mo with a smile, “Am I right, Mr.Shi?”
“You jest, Mr.Bai.” Shi Changshu let out an awkward laugh.
“Oh, don’t mind me Mr.Shi. I like to tell jokes all the time.” Bai Mo narrowed his eyes.
Shi Changshu let out a sigh of relief. This Bai Mo is hard to deal with. His attempt to probe information from Bai Mo was a complete failure. The youth’s mouth was locked tighter than the vault in Huaxia Bank’s HQ.
After a moment of thought, Shi Changshu decided against beating around the bush with the young man. He hated the feeling of having a knife held against his throat, and it was something that he would never openly admit, “To be honest with you, it’ll be quite problematic to cancel their loans.”
“The He Corporation is acting as their guarantor, and their loan was obtained through a legal process. We’ll offend the He Corporation if we pull their lown backs…” Shi Changshu cast a glance at Bai Mo, who did not appear to be paying attention to him. Despite his anger, Shi Changshu could not risk a fall out with Bai Mo. His only real option was to coax the young man into changing his mind, “You might not know about it Mr.Bai, but the He Corporation is one of our closest partners. In fact, we’re currently working together in several projects. If we have a fall out with them now…”
Bai Mo was not even looking at Shi Changshu. His gaze was rested on the buildings beyond the glass window.
The people in the city led flourishing and prosperous lives, and tall buildings were not a rare sight in the city. Despite that, skyscrapers like the Huaxia Building was still uncommon. As Bai Mo gazed out of the window, he felt as if he was stepping the entire city under his feet. He finally knew why people were always crazy for money. Money was not alluring by itself, but the feeling of gazing down at the masses from a high position could be very addicting.
A nobody like him would never understanding the addiction to power of those who were in the higher echelon, but he knew the agonizing pain of losing everything all at once.
Bai Mo could still remember the saddest moment he had when he was 12 years old. He was excited to see a television show about building models of buildings with matches, and immediately took on one of the toughest project: building the Eiffel Tower. He could not remember how many matches was spent on the tower, but he remembered spending every moment in his waking hours that was not used on studying and eating to build the tower. It took Bai Mo an entire semester to almost complete the Eiffel Tower, but the tiniest mistake that he made caused the collapse of the tower within mere seconds.
He could still remember his feeling when the Eiffel Tower crumbled. His mind was blank as he stared at the ruins of his tower. It felt like time has stopped at that moment, and even his breath has stopped. The pain that Bai Mo felt could not be described by words. He fell down from his chair, and his body was trembling, but he was not able to cry out his sorrows.
Some would say that Bai Mo was in living hell at that moment.
Bai Mo thought to himself as he sipped on his tea, will Shi Changshu and the higher ups of the Huaxia Bank feel what I felt when my Eiffel Tower crumbled back them? Or will it be worse for them?
Then again, it had nothing to do with Bai Mo.
“Mr.Shi, what building is that?” Bai Mo pointed at a skyscraper that was slightly taller than the Huaxia Building, cutting Shi Changshu off mid sentence.
Shi Changshu was baffled by Bai Mo’s sudden action. He cast a glance at the direction that Bai Mo was pointing, “It was the Empire State building. The Hua’er Bank has an office there.”
Despite the similarities in their names, both banks were rivals. They were founded at the same time, and grew at the same rate into one of the largest banks in China. The two banks were equals in terms of wealth and size, and both sides were always trying to eliminate their competition. Shi Changshu himself was well acquainted with the manager of Hua’er Bank’s City A branch manager. Their friendship, however, was long gone after many years of competition in the business world.
This was why Shi Changshu was baffled by Bai Mo’s question.
“Oh, so that’s how the Empire State Building looks like from up here.” Bai Mo chuckled, and took another sip of tea, “This is the first time I’ve seen the Empire State Building from an altitude like this. It’s beautiful.”
“You might’ve been able to see the rooftop of the Empire State Building if we built ours higher.” replied Shi Changshu with a slight hint of hostility in his voice.
Bai Mo chuckled as a response.
He had a smile on his face the moment he entered Shi Changshu’s office, which was why Shi Changshu was surprised by his sudden laughter, “Did I say something wrong? What is so funny, Mr.Bai?”
Bai Mo shook his head and stared square at Shi Changshu, “I’m curious. Will the Hua’er’s Bank’s branch manager say the same thing to me if I deposited all the money I have into his bank? That is all.”
He spoke in a very carefree manner, as if he meant it as a joke.
Shi Changshu’s expression darkened when he heard Bai Mo’s words, “Mr.Bai…”
“Don’t you think that it’s funny, Mr.Shi?” Bai Mo paid no heed to Shi Changshu, and continued staring at the man with a smile on his face. Shi Changshu could barely even breath. He did not know if Bai Mo’s words were merely threats, or if Bai Mo would actually act upon his words, but he knew that the Huaxia Bank was finished if Bai Mo decided to withdraw all of the Bai family’s asset.
Shi Changshu’s father would never allow something like this to happen, and this is something that he himself was willing to go the great lengths to prevent.
This was why he must fulfill Bai Mo’s demand no matter what it took, even if it meant that his action would cause a rift between the Huaxia Bank and the He Corporation.
Shi Changshu smiled at Bai Mo after a long moment of silence, “There is indeed something wrong with their loans. Allow me to take the opportunity to thank you for pointing this out to us. Of course, I know that you’re just taking care of your interest. I look forward to work with you again in the future.”
Bai Mo sat silently on the sofa, and his smile seemed to have never left his face ever since he entered the office.
He then turned around and looked out of the window. The light of the glaring sun was reflected into Shi Changshu’s office from the glass windows of the Empire State Building. Ahh… Could this be the radiance of money and authority? thought Bai Mo to himself. 5 Best Chinese Romance Books of 2018 So Far