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    Faced with loan sharks demanding repayment, Lin's parents had no means to pay. The gangsters threatened to maim them, so the couple mentioned they had a son selling egg tarts in Temple Street.

    Tricked back home by his two sisters, Lin Jiahua was beaten up to force him to comply. All the savings he'd painstakingly accumulated were seized.

    Looking at Lin Jiahua forcing a smile, Chu Yuening intuitively understood the purpose behind his secret stash – he only wanted to maintain a harmonious family and support his two sisters until they grew up. Yet, his parents kept hindering his efforts, not only by borrowing from loan sharks but also implicating their own son?

    She couldn't help but feel angered.

    Towards the unseen Lin family parents, her impression of them was already marred with a big X.

    "They'll take all future earnings until the debt is cleared," Lin Jiahua said, gazing at the bandage on his bony finger, which had been burned by the high temperature of the oven. Such injuries were a common occurrence for him.

    With that, he shifted his gaze and sighed softly, "There's no need for you to worry about me. At least I'm unharmed."

    The 'me' here referred to himself.

    After all that had transpired, Lin Jiahua had come to a clear realization – no one could look out for him better than himself. No matter how much he desired to improve his family situation, the constant burden of his parents and sisters would always hold him back.

    "As for the earnings, I've thought it through. I can't hand over everything. I'll secretly keep a portion," Lin Jiahua looked at Chu Yuening and smiled, "I'll have to trouble Ning Ning to help me save it."

    "No problem," Chu Yuening agreed, though still perplexed. "Isn't loan sharking an illegal activity? Doesn't the higher authority intervene?"

    After posing her question, Chu Yuening fell silent once more.

    It was no surprise that in today's world, triads could dine with the police without consequence. Even if they reported it, there would likely be no resolution.

    "How much did your parents borrow?" Zhang Jiande inquired, holding his cigarette, getting to the heart of the matter.

    "Two hundred thousand," Lin Jiahua replied with a bitter smile.

    "Two hundred thousand!" Shanpo gasped in shock. "Your parents really dared to borrow that much. That's enough for a down payment on a flat in Hong Kong."

    "Bahutong, or loan sharks, operate with a 'nine out, thirteen back' system. Without seeing the cash, they won't let up easily," Chu Yuening explained.

    'Bahutong' was another term for loan sharks. The 'nine out, thirteen back' referred to a lending method where nine thousand could turn into thirteen thousand, with exorbitant daily interest rates. It seemed that all of Lin Jiahua's daily revenue might only cover the interest, leaving the principal repayment a distant dream.

    Zhang Jiande took a puff of his cigarette and turned to Lin Jiahua. "Do you know which lender they borrowed from? I can call someone to talk to them and see if we can find a way to avoid the compounding interest."

    "The Fourteen Gang."

    Upon hearing the name, Chu Yuening was taken aback. Her gaze immediately shifted to the Japanese massage parlor, where just ten minutes ago, members of the Fourteen Gang had been disciplining the underwear man.

    The bald, tattooed man seemed to be the second-in-command of the gang?

    When Zhang Jiede heard the name, his expression turned grim, but he still took a drag from his cigarette. "The Fourteen Gang is known for their ruthless ways, but I know a few people inside. Although they don't hold much sway within the gang, it's better than having no connections at all. In any case, let's arrange a meeting with them tomorrow to discuss this."

    "Ning Ning, how powerful is the second-in-command of the Fourteen Gang?" Chu Yuening raised her hand to ask.

    "Second-in-command? Whoever holds that position in the Fourteen Gang must be formidable!" Zhang Jiede promptly gave a brief history of the gang's rise to power in Hong Kong.

    "It'll be a piece of cake to settle this matter," Zhang Jiede sensed something amiss and released the cigarette from his mouth, looking at her. "Do you know him, Ning Ning?"

    "Not personally," Chu Yuening replied, tilting her chin up. Everyone's attention followed her gesture, and they could see the pink lights of the Japanese massage parlor in the center of Temple Street, even in broad daylight.

    "However, I just saw him go up to the second floor of the massage parlor. The person he was protecting, Cong Ling, is my client. She had just finished her fortune-telling session."

    Lin Jiahua was her good friend, and she couldn't stand idly by while her friend suffered. Since Cong Ling had a connection with the second-in-command, Chu Yuening was willing to establish a bridge for Lin Jiahua, hoping to explore the possibility of negotiation.

    "Perhaps I should ask Ling for her opinion and see if we can invite the second-in-command out for dim sum?"

    In Hong Kong, there was nothing that couldn't be resolved over a good morning tea session.

    The situation was taking a promising turn.

    For the moment, everyone felt a weight lifted off their shoulders. Zhang Jiande patted Lam Ka-Wa on the back playfully, "It's your birthday today, yet you're still selling egg tarts?"

    Lam Ka-Wa, having put his worries aside temporarily, was about to retrieve the oven when he heard the tease and chuckled, "What difference does my birthday make? Earning a living is tough; of course, daily survival is more important than a birthday celebration."

    "On birthdays, we take a break! We play!" Zhang Jiande, with a cigarette clenched between his teeth, rolled up his sleeves and carried the oven to the tea restaurant. "How much do you plan to make today? Let Conical Cone Hui assist you. If you can't sell it all, Brother De will personally settle the accounts and take care of the rest."

    Shanpo, too, lent a helping hand, carrying bundles left and right. In no time, the diminutive old woman was nearly obscured by the load she bore.

    As she moved about, Shanpo remarked, "One only has a birthday once a year; it should be celebrated properly."

    Chu Yuening glanced around, noticing that all the goods had been moved. She pushed the cart's handle and turned to look at Lin Jiahua, who was still standing in place, dazed.

    "Come on, hurry up."

    "Oh! Here they are."

    Lin Jiahu looked at this group of friends who bridged the generation gap, and the coldness in his heart, caused by his parents' situation, was warmed by the fiery sun of their friendship.

    After unloading the food cart, they discussed where to unwind. Unfortunately, Shanpo, being of advanced age, couldn't keep up with their activities and declined to join them. Nevertheless, she still kindly bought an eight-inch cake for Lin Jiahu alone.

    Initially, they had planned to go to a karaoke bar.

    However, blushing, Lin Jiahu expressed that he had been under considerable stress lately and asked if they could play tennis instead as a way to relieve it.


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