Ning Wan didn't stay distracted by the child for too long.
She took another lap around the room, looking more and more satisfied.
The disinterest she had pretended while Bai Sheng had been around was all of a sudden swept away.

”What a deal, Fu Zheng! ” she said, excitement spilling from her face.
”You wouldn't be Chinese if you didn't buy this place! ”

She couldn't help but praise him a little further.
”I've got to say, you're the kind of guy who doesn't feel like he's very grounded, but then turn out to be unexpectedly smart right at the critical moment! ”


She rolled her eyes at him.  ”What are you pretending to be dumb for? You desperately criticized the furniture just now to the point of lying about a whole bunch of mahogany varieties and naming all sorts of styles.
Didn't you do that just to push the price down? ”

”I was going to wink at you to make sure you knew not to show your cards too early, even if you were satisfied, ” she sighed.
”I didn't expect you to be even tougher than me! That poor owner's face turned green! Go a little easier next time; if he hadn't turned out to have such a good temper, he might have refused to sell, and then you would have tried to steal a chicken only to end up losing the rice to lure it! ”



Fu Zheng really wanted to say that he had been completely sincere…
he really didn't want to buy the house…

He just hadn't expected that not only did the owner not kick him out, but the man had actually reduced the price even further…

”All right, all right, no more need for pretense.
You acted so well just now, as if you really didn't want to buy it.
It must have been hard! You probably couldn't wait to sign the contract on the spot. ” Ning Wan smiled happily at him.
”What do you think, should we hurry and finalize the agreement? If the owner brings someone else to look at it, it'll definitely be snapped up. ”

”Yes, Xiao Fu, ” Old Ji chimed in, ”This apartment really shouldn't be missed. ”

”As for that mahogany stuff, ” Ning Wan added, ”Just let him move it out.
Even if it was 800,000 yuan, there's no need for such expensive furniture.
I know a good second-hand furniture store with lots of mostly new stuff.
The price is right, it doesn't have that nasty new-furniture smell, and you'll save 500,000 yuan! Won't that be great?! ”


The two took turns to plan out the future, becoming progressively more excited, and they were so sincerely and unreservedly well-meaning that Fu Zheng simply couldn't bring himself to say no…

At that moment, a few rare little proverbs crossed his mind–

'To hide a lie, a thousand lies are needed'.

And 'You must walk the road you chose, even if on your knees'…


Under the dual attack of Ning Wan and Old Ji, that night Fu Zheng lowered his wealthy head, nodded in tears, and decided to buy this 'mansion'.

Money wasn't the problem.
The problem was that it was incredibly detrimental to his sense of style to own this house.
Thankfully, no one knew but Ning Wan and Director Ji…


Thanks to Director Ji's help, once the terms and conditions of the sale were agreed upon with the owner, the loan was approved very quickly.
Within a few days, the house transfer and payment were complete.

Before Fu Zheng knew it, he was holding a real estate license with his name on it.

He suddenly felt like there was a saying that would never steer him wrong.
'As long as a man lives long enough, anything can happen'.
He, an all-powerful senior partner, had just unexpectedly bought an old, rickety, broken-down apartment at the venerable age of 30…

However, Ning Wan somehow seemed even happier than the party involved in the purchase of a house.
”Let me take you out to dinner tonight to celebrate your official transformation from labourer to middle-class! ”

This somewhat surprised Fu Zheng.
Because he had claimed that he didn't have enough for a down payment, Ning Wan had ended up lending him 30,000 yuan1.
He was well aware that the hundreds of thousands that she claimed to have were her emergency reserves, which she was very cautious about dipping into.
She only ever took out 30,000 yuan to cover medical emergencies for her or her family, or for sudden large-scale purchasing needs.
It was a big deal.
He should in theory have been the one inviting her to dinner, but instead, she had been the one to propose it first.

”Don't refuse! And don't feel bad! I've already booked the place.
I'm your mentor, and I earn more than you do.
Besides, I recently got a payout from one of the cases at HQ that I participated in, and I've got a little extra in my pocket right now, ” Ning Wan said generously.
”You're the one who's going to have to deal with a mortgage in the future, so you'll have to be a little more frugal! ”

Fu Zheng refused over and over again, but finally had to be respectful rather than obedient.
He took the subway with Ning Wan for a while, only to find that the place she had brought him to was actually that same small Michelin-starred Western restaurant from before2…


Ning Wan found that Fu Zheng was acting a little strange today.
After getting the real estate license, he had seemed a little too happy, so much so that he was in a trance.
If Ning Wan hadn't known what was going on, she would have thought that he was feeling upset by something.
Now the side effects of his excitement were becoming more obvious.
When they arrived at the door of the niche Western restaurant he had chosen before, he refused to go in.
Last time they were here, he had refused to leave…

Ning Wan had especially looked this Western restaurant up on the Internet the last time they had been here.
It had great reviews.
It was said that the food tasted amazing, but the prices were on the expensive side.
She would never have come to such a luxurious restaurant to eat by herself, and she had just made some extra money, so she had made this decision with much difficulty and gritting of teeth.

Ever since she had pulled Fu Zheng out of this restaurant while disciplining him, Ning Wan had blamed herself for having been too hard on him.
Fu Zheng obviously hadn't wanted to leave, and obviously hadn't wanted to just order a salad…

Although she would be encouraging Fu Zheng to slip into the abyss of consumerism, what was the difference between someone living without a dream and a salted fish? Yes, it was extravagant, luxurious, and wasteful, but who didn't have such little fantasies? Furthermore, at least one could enjoy the taste of a good meal.
It wasn't as if he was playing around, wasting time.
Life was bitter, and it wasn't incomprehensible to want to treat oneself every once in awhile…

Ever since that last incident, this had been nagging at Ning Wan's mind.
Since she currently had money, she wanted to make it up to Fu Zheng and fulfill his desire of having a good meal in this restaurant.
Since he was also celebrating his purchase of a house, then they would be killing two birds with one stone.

She didn't expect Fu Zheng to dig in his heels and refuse, saying, ”There's no need… ”.
Surprised with the fact that Ning Wan was going to spend a lot of money on him, he didn't seem happy at all, but instead looked uncomfortable and ill at ease.
”I thought about what you said.
I can't afford such a lifestyle yet, and my life won't improve just  because I ate a meal in a fancy restaurant.
There's no need to waste money… ”

Fu Zheng's words didn't make it better.
They only made Ning Wan feel even more guilty.
Although some young masters were spoiled and bad-tempered, Fu Zheng was actually rather sincere, and furthermore he was able to correct his mistakes.
He had originally had an unrealistic dream, but at least it was a dream.
After she had disciplined him, now he dared not even dream!

”If you fight hard, you'll win, and if you dare to imagine, you'll succeed! ” Ning Wan was determined to help Fu Zheng regain his confidence tonight.
”Let me treat you! ”



Fu Zheng was naturally reluctant to enter this restaurant again.
His last experience here had left him with quite a trauma.
He would never forget the waiter's confused eyes when he had only ordered a salad, and nor would he forget the embarrassment of paying the bill of only 200 yuan.
He only hoped to never set foot in this restaurant again in his life…

But this wish backfired on him.
Since he was a regular here, a number of the waiters at the restaurant knew him.
As soon as Ning Wan pulled open the door, several of them came over to greet him…

At that moment, Fu Zheng could only silently pray for death.

Alas, death didn't come.
Ning Wan very competently fulfilled her duty toward a guest, asking for a table, sitting him down, and finally handing the menu to Fu Zheng.
”Please order! Whatever you want to eat is on me! ”

When she finished, she also opened the menu, and Fu Zheng watched as her expression went from calm to awkward to fidgety.
The last time she had looked at the menu, she had only hastily skimmed through it.
She very likely had not remembered the exact amounts, and only had the general impression that the food was pricey.
Now she was comfortably examining the price of every dish, and her heart was full of regrets.

Fu Zheng was very clear about what Ning Wan's income was like.
Although she was self-sufficient, she didn't make nearly enough to be comfortable.
It was a huge expense to pay for two multi-course Western-style meals in a restaurant like this.
Just now, she had been ambitious and asked him to order whatever he wanted, and now that she was actually looking at the prices, she was probably scared.
But just when Fu Zheng thought that she was going to back out, she gritted her teeth and said–

”It's alright, I can afford it.
You're still new, while I'm already a senior lawyer.
Please go ahead.
You can order whatever you want. ”

”In fact, I've actually never been able to afford such an expensive restaurant before today.
Being an intern may be hard work for not much money, but our line of work is about being qualified.
As long as you work hard and are experienced enough, it can only get better from here.
So you just need to work hard.
In the future, you'll be able to come to a restaurant like this on your own income! ”

Obviously money was tight, and she had just lent him tens of thousands of yuan.
She must actually be very worried and living very frugally.
Yet she was still trying to be brave, saying nothing, encouraging him to have whatever he wanted.
Knowing that she wasn't going anywhere as a lawyer, yet still solemnly trying to encourage him…

In fact, if one analyzed it carefully, Ning Wan could only be thought of as someone at the very bottom of the legal profession.
Because she hadn't gone to a good school and had no background, even though she had been lucky enough to enter a first-class firm there was no way she would ever make it into a first-class team.
She was in every way a marginalized employee.

Perhaps right now, she might still be able to comfort herself by telling herself that she was still young; that if she honed her skills for a few more years, her future was infinite.
However, Fu Zheng knew better than anyone that the law industry was very realistic.
She had failed to make a good start, and now the possibility of reversing her future was very low.
Although she was gaining experience through community cases, if she kept wasting her time here she would never be able to touch high-end cases.
If a few more years passed like this, her future career path would be very limited.

Fu Zheng had more experience than Ning Wan, and was more far-sighted.
In the past, he hadn't cared much about such employees.
Competition in any line of work was fierce.
Perhaps only 20% in the industry would ever make something of themselves, while the other 80% would always be cannon fodder.
However, at this moment he looked at Ning Wan, obviously hard up for money, yet still gritting her teeth, doing her best to do something nice for him, and felt some complicated emotions well up in his heart.

A little pity.

A little distress.

If this was a story, Ning Wan would be like a character in a supporting role, while Fu Zheng would be one of the leads, looking down from the perspective of God.
He already knew that her role was bound to be cannon fodder.
But Ning Wan, this unsuspecting supporting role, was still trying her best to live, full of passion for the future…

At first Fu Zheng hadn't cared.
But over time, who knew when he had somehow been contaminated by a supporting role's feelings and emotions.

Again he regretted coming to the community, because once he got too close to someone, once he knew her life, her hobbies and all her details, he could no longer stay aloof and unaffected.
He was too close to her, no longer a safe distance away.

He didn't want Ning Wan to end up like cannon fodder.

He wouldn't be able to bear it.

Fu Zheng bit his lower lip and looked back up, in doing so running straight into Ning Wan's gaze.
Her eyes were clean and clear.
When she saw him looking up, she smiled guilelessly at him and asked, ”Have you decided? ”

”Mmhmm, ” Fu Zheng nodded.
He called the waiter over.
”Just a salad. ”

Although it was exactly the same as the last time and the waiter once again looked stunned, this time Fu Zheng felt no awkward embarrassment or misery in his heart.
Not once did he feel that the waiter's puzzled gaze was hard to bear.

”Just a salad? ”

A salad is enough. ”

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