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An idea struck her mind as she counted the wad of cash he had given her, which amounted to a few thousand dollars.

What happened to me tonight though? she wondered. How did I get so drunk from just a can of beer?

Xu Jingwen could not seem to find an answer as she began to wonder if it was because her tolerance for alcohol had decreased drastically.

——

Jin Qingyue woke up from her dreams at almost midnight. She placed a hand onto the spot beside her on the bed, only to find that Shi Shaochuan was still not home yet.

She switched on the lights and gave him a call, which he did not answer. Thus, she tried to call him again, but to no avail.

She then proceeded to call a classmate of his whom he was rather close to, only to hear that Shi Shaochuan had gotten drunk from chugging three large jugs of beer as a forfeit for the drinking game they were playing.

Jin Qingyue got out of bed to get dressed and decided to go pick him up.

She grabbed her car keys and headed out of the door with two bodyguards.

The streets were almost empty at that hour, and thus, she sped along the roads and arrived at the entrance of a karaoke centre in no time.

She proceeded to the entrance of a karaoke room, which was rather noisy and boisterous.

That explained why he could not hear the sound of his phone ringing and thus did not answer her calls.

Upon sight of her arrival, one of Shi Shaochuan’s former classmates gave him a nudge and said, “Shaochuan, your wife is here.”

At this point, Shi Shaochuan was already drunk beyond his senses as he laid sluggishly on the couch, murmuring incoherently, “My wife is at home right now, why would she be here?”

“Have a look for yourself, it really is your wife,” said the classmate.

He squinted at Jin Qingyue, who was standing before him, and said, “Oh? It is indeed my wife who’s come to pick me up.”

“It’s almost midnight, yet you’re still not home. Of course I’d have to come and look for you.” Jin Qingyue then turned around and instructed the bodyguards behind her, “Carry him to the car.”

“Yes, Young Madam.”

Shi Shaochuan was then carried away while Jin Qingyue said smilingly to Shi Shaochuan’s classmates, “Hey, everyone, hurry and drink to your hearts’ content. Tonight’s on me.”

“Ah, seems like you’re the one holding the purse strings, Sis-in-law. Thank you so much,” said a classmate.

“Yeah, thank you,” another added.

“No problem, you guys go ahead, we’ll be making a move first.”

“Alright.”

Jin Qingyue decided to get the tab so as to allow Shi Shaochuan’s classmates to hold him in high esteem.

Besides, the bill was only peanuts to her.

On the journey home, the bodyguard took over the wheel while Shi Shaochuan continued to blabber continuously before throwing up his intestines as soon as he alighted from the car.

Jin Qingyue pinched her nose in disgust and instructed the bodyguards to bring him to the living room.

Drunk out of his senses, Shi Shaochuan fell asleep immediately after sprawling himself across the couch. Jin Qingyue covered him with a blanket.

“Young Madam, Young Sir left his phone in his car,” said the bodyguard, handing her Shi Shaochuan’s mobile phone.

Jin Qingyue took the mobile phone from his hands. Just as she was about to place it on the table, an incoming text message popped up on the screen of his mobile phone.

Jin Qingyue opened the text message, which read: “Thank you for sending me home.”

Jin Qingyue’s womanly intuitions told her that it was a text message from another woman.

Staring intensely at the screen to decipher the message, she could not help but find it unusual as she began to wonder if she was reading too much into things.

Jin Qingyue recorded the unknown number in her phone before deleting the text message.

She woke up exceptionally early the next morning after a sleepless night.

“Yueyue, why are you up so early?” asked Shi Shaochuan, surprised to see her sitting by the dressing table just as he was about to take a shower.

“Do you know what time you arrived home last night?”

“I don’t remember. I had to do a forfeit for being late due to a heavy jam, so I had a bit too much to drink. I’m sorry, Honey,” Shi Shaochuan apologized.

Just as he was about to hug her, Jin Qingyue pushed him away and said, “Go take a shower, you reek of alcohol and vomit.”

“I’ll hug you after a shower then.”

“Hmph! You’re not allowed to come home so late again,” Jin Qingyue lamented.

“Yes, Honey!” Shi Shaochuan exclaimed, giving a salute.

——

An Xiaoning drove out to look for a contractor first thing in the morning of the next day.

She instructed the contractor to construct a few simple rooms, to be completed within a day. She then proceeded to the furniture store together with Mei Yangyang to purchase some necessities such as beds, pillows, as well as their personal crockery and utensils.

As the saying goes, money does make the world go round. An Xiaoning managed to purchase everything she needed in a single trip.

From now on, she would have to provide for eight other people.

It made her feel just like the head of a family.

Since it was rather easy to build simple rooms, the fast workers managed to complete construction by afternoon.

Due to the fact that An Xiaoning’s backyard was not exactly enormous, there was not much space left after the five rooms were constructed.

There were two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a kitchen.

In the afternoon, she ordered for the tiles to be laid and for the toilet amenities to be installed in the bathrooms — all of which were completed in one day.

Usually, it would be impossible to reach completion within just a day. However, An Xiaoning managed to make the impossible happen by offering double of the quoted price.

At the end of the day, all she wanted was for them to have a room to stay in as soon as possible so as to make living together easier.

The six men and two girls stood in a single file before An Xiaoning. Putting her hands together, An Xiaoning said smilingly, “It’s been a day since you guys arrived, but we’ve yet to introduce ourselves. I shall take the lead then. My name is An Xiaoning, and this is my sworn sister, Mei Yangyang. We’re both still pretty young, I’m 23 and she’s 21 this year.

“No matter what you’ve been through in the past and what your names used to be, you guys will start life anew from now onwards. You shall become our family in whom we can trust,” she continued.

“Just like what my sister said, you guys will have numbers for names, so as to make it easier for us to remember and identify you. Starting from the left, you shall be named 001, 002, 003, 004, 005, 006, 007, and 008, respectively,” said Mei Yangyang.

“007 and 008, you two ladies shall be in charge of housekeeping and laundry, as well as cooking our meals. As for the other six of you, you are to form two groups of three and be on shift duty 24/7. You may decide the grouping and shift amongst yourselves,” she continued.

“The three areas at which you are to be on standby and keep watch are the backyard, the living room, and the second storey. I hope you’re aware that there are surveillance cameras all around this residence. All of you will receive a monthly salary. Rest assured, your attire and daily necessities will all be provided for,” An Xiaoning instructed.

They then gave a round of applause and cheered in celebration, seemingly in high spirits to be able to become a part of such a big family.

An Xiaoning felt a sudden sense of comfort and security, though she was not aware if it was just a placebo effect.

All of a sudden, a white Bentley showed up at An Xiaoning’s doorstep.

An Xiaoning caught sight of it right away since the door was left ajar.

She watched as Jin Qingyan alighted from his car, clad in a bespoke suit perfectly tailored to his measurements along with a white buttoned shirt. He was the only person she knew who could look so dashing in such a boring outfit.

He gazed at the people in the backyard with a smile on his handsome, chiseled face.

A bunch of uniformed men followed closely behind him.

The first thing that came to An Xiaoning’s mind was that Jin Qingyan was there to arrest someone.