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“No matter how affluent I may be, it’s still my money in the end. It’s considered stealing if you took it without my permission.” With no intentions to give in at all, An Xiaoning continued, “I’ll give you three options. One, return to me everything you’ve taken. Two, if you don’t wish to pay me back, then continue to work for me without a salary, your meals and accommodation will be provided for. Last, follow me to the police station. It’s up to you to choose one of the three.”

“I don’t wish to go to jail, nor do I have any money to pay you. Can I work for you then? Will that do?” Xu Jingwen pleaded.

“Alright, you’ve pocketed 30 thousand dollars. You have a salary of 2500 dollars a month, which would total up to 30 thousand dollars in a year. You are to work for me for three years.” An Xiaoning turned to look at Zhang Li and instructed her, “From now on, keep a close eye on her whenever she’s in the store. I’ll raise your current pay to 3000 dollars a month.”

“Sis Xiaoning, I’m sorry for not stopping her,” Zhang Li apologized, feeling a little guilty.

“Just perform your duties well.” An Xiaoning then turned towards Mei Yangyang and said, “Get off work.”

Extremely pleased with the outcome, Mei Yangyang left the store together with An Xiaoning.

“Sis, you weren’t the one who sent that text message, were you?”

“It was me, but I didn’t mean to. I wouldn’t leave without telling you face-to-face beforehand. It was Xi Bolai who took me away and held me at gunpoint. Yangyang, I’ve recently come to a realization.”

“What is it?” Mei Yangyang listened attentively.

“We have to take every safety precaution possible in order to stay alive. Otherwise, we would never be able to sleep in peace at night. Let’s go have dinner. I’ll take you somewhere afterwards,” said An Xiaoning, holding her hand.

“Alright, sure.”

——

Xu Jingwen made her way to Chi Rui’er’s place.

At this point, Chi Rui’er was already heavily pregnant with a huge baby bump. Being eight months pregnant, she appeared rather clumsy and awkward trying to move about.

Upon seeing that Xu Jingwen was bawling with tears, she quickly pretended to show her concern and asked worriedly, “What happened? Why are you crying?”

Xu Jingwen told her about the matter truthfully, after which Chi Rui’er let out a laugh and said nonchalantly, “Ah, I see. Then just continue working there for a year. Your meals and accommodation will be taken care of anyway. Pocketing the money was your fault to begin with.”

“Sis Rui’er, I find you to be a really kind person, but Sis Xiaoning accused you of trying to kill her and she even mentioned that you two are on bad terms with each other. In my opinion, she’s not as nice as you are.”

Pleased to hear what Xu Jingwen said, Chi Rui’er answered smilingly, “Well, she’s still my husband’s godsister no matter what. Why would I even attempt to kill her? She’s really great at imagining things and smearing me.”

“Exactly, you don’t seem like such a malicious person at all no matter how I see it.”

“I reckon you haven’t had dinner. I haven’t either so eat with me. Come, sit down,” said Chi Rui’er, pulling her towards the dining table.

Xu Jingwen sat down together with Chi Rui’er, who was smiling at her warmly, as if she were her blood sister.

Chi Rui’er opened a can of beer for Xu Jingwen while she poured herself a glass of beverage.

Seeming to have thought of something, Chi Rui’er stood up and said, “You may tuck in first, I’ll go get something from my room.”

“Sure.”

Chi Rui’er returned to her room to retrieve a straw from her purse inside the closet. She had prepared the straw long ago.

But she just could not find the right time to execute her plan.

Now was the perfect opportunity.

Her efforts did not go in vain.

With the right tools, it would be more than easy to control the person working for you.

Chi Rui’er let out a malicious smirk and placed the straw inside her pocket before leaving the bedroom.

Chi Rui’er took advantage of the time when Xu Jingwen was not paying attention and slipped the straw into the half-finished can of beer.

She then swirled the can in her hand and continued to pour Xu Jingwen some beer.

The smile on Chi Rui’er’s face widened upon seeing Xu Jingwen finish all of the beer.

Perhaps she had overdosed on the drug, but Xu Jingwen appeared to be extremely excited and overstimulated.

She began to curse and swear at An Xiaoning before even finishing her meal.

“Sis Rui’er, tell me, would it hurt to give me 30 thousand dollars when she’s already so rich!?! Just like what they say, the richer one is, the greater of a miser he would be. Very true indeed!”

“You’re right. Jingwen, you have to understand, she’s the boss and you’re just an employee. You can’t be that haughty and bratty, got it?” said Chi Rui’er.

“I know you have a point, Sis, but I really don’t wish to work there anymore. But then again, I don’t have any money to return to her.” Xu Jingwen stood up and said, “I’m going home.”

“Can you even manage?”

“It was merely a can of beer, not enough to make me drunk. I’m fine, I’ll get going,” Xu Jingwen said smilingly.

“Alright, be careful.”

“Okay, got it.”

Chi Rui’er hurriedly disposed of the beer can and glass Xu Jingwen drank from into the large trash can outside the house before returning inside.

——

After dinner, An Xiaoning brought Mei Yangyang to a secret black market in A City.

It was Mei Yangyang’s first experience with a black market, which she had not known had existed in the city prior to this.

The dark and relentless sides of humanity were all exposed within the black market.

However, everyone in the black market had sold themselves voluntarily in exchange for money.

They would agree willingly to leave with anyone who paid their family.

“Sis, I never knew of the existence of such a twisted scene in our city.”

“I guess I wouldn’t have known about it either if Jin Qingyan hadn’t told me about it. I asked him about it on the plane back. He initially suggested that he assign some of his bodyguards to me, but of course I wouldn’t want that. His bodyguards are all loyal to him, they would definitely sell me out and be in cahoots with him, should I allow them to follow me around.”

“You have a point, Sis. But, the people here must be expensive.”

“We’ll pick one who’s superior in skill and agility, no matter how expensive it may cost.” The two of them then continued to wander around the black market.

After looking through repeatedly back and forth, An Xiaoning finally picked out a few people.

The eloquent seller then eagerly promoted, “All of them here have received awards for their excellent performance in wrestling competitions. It’s just, they were abandoned by their employer. They’re all orphans with no kin or family. Miss, you won’t have to worry about any dispute in the future if you pick them.”

An Xiaoning seemed to be pleased with the row of men in front of her.

“How much would the six of them cost?” she asked.

“This much. Strictly no bargaining,” the seller answered, sticking a hand out.

“But I don’t know if they’re plagued with health problems or not. Who’s going to be responsible if they drop dead right after I pay to bring them home?”

With a hollow laugh, the seller said, “Look how energetic they are. Which bit of them looks like they’re going to die as soon as you buy them?”

“Well, who knows? I’ll pay you that amount but you are to give me those two over there as well,” said An Xiaoning, pointing at two girls who were standing not too far away.

“You’ve got a knack for making business deals, eh? There are eight people in total. They’re not just objects which I can give away easily just because you bought some of them.”

“But aren’t you putting them up for sale like they’re objects? Cut the crap and just tell me if you’re selling them or not. I’ll buy them if you are. Otherwise, I’ll leave right away,” An Xiaoning retorted, striking the nail on its head.

Mei Yangyang hurriedly interjected, “Sis, why don’t we have a look over there? It seems they’re selling at a cheaper price.”

Upon seeing that they were really going to leave, the seller quickly gave in. “Fine, fine, I’ll sell them to you. Will that do?”