Chapter 169 – Mr. Moray
The emergency meeting regarding Max’s visit to the Chinese market concluded. The task of hosting Max during this weekend’s rest days fell to Zhou Tongpeng who had already arranged a dinner with Max’s marketing director.
On this matter, nobody had any objections. After all, Zhou Tongpeng had used his connections to secure this opportunity for himself, so others couldn’t say anything.
When the meeting dispersed, Zhou Tongpeng walked over to Wei Chen and politely smiled, “I heard that Director Wei has also been preparing information about Max recently. How about joining me and Max’s marketing director for dinner this weekend?”
“Thank you for the offer, Vice Chairman Zhou,” Wei Chen closed the materials and said indifferently, “I appreciate your kind gesture, but I already have plans for the weekend.”
“Is that so? What a pity,” Zhou Tongpeng expressed a look of regret, “Max’s marketing director mentioned you to me. He said you are talented and he’d like to get to know you when he has the chance.”
Wei Chen remained unchanged, as if he hadn’t heard about Max’s marketing director at all. He responded, “Please convey my gratitude to Max’s marketing director for his praise. Next time he comes to China, I’ll definitely show my hospitality.”
Vice Chairman Zhou initially wanted to put some pressure on Wei Chen, but he hadn’t anticipated Wei Chen’s response to be so cold. Whether this reaction was genuine or just a facade, it left Zhou Tongpeng feeling quite powerless, like punching cotton.
“Vice Chairman Zhou, do you need anything else?” Wei Chen stood up, ready to leave the meeting room. However, Zhou Tongpeng was still standing in his way.
Zhou Tongpeng shook his head and stepped aside for Wei Chen to pass. He confirmed once again, “Director Wei, are you really not going to join me in meeting Max’s marketing director?”
“I wish Vice Chairman Zhou the best of luck.” Wei Chen walked past Zhou Tongpeng and clearly indicated that he had no intention of meeting Max’s marketing director.
Zhou Tongpeng watched Wei Chen’s retreating figure and squinted his eyes.
“Isn’t Wei Chen underestimating the situation a bit too much? You invited him along, giving him an opportunity, and he actually refused. It truly wastes your efforts, Vice Chairman Zhou,” a department manager who had witnessed everything commented from the side with a flattering tone, full of flattery in his words.
Zhou Tongpeng didn’t respond, which made the department manager feel somewhat awkward. After a few forced laughs, he left.
Wei Chen left the meeting room and didn’t return to his own office. Instead, he took the elevator and went to the floor above, to the Chairman’s office. Not long after Wei Chen left the meeting room, Sheng Jiaqi had also arrived at his office. Upon hearing a knocking sound, he knew it was Wei Chen.
“Come in,” Sheng Jiaqi said.
Wei Chen entered, asking, “Is there something you wanted to discuss, Chairman?”
Sheng Jiaqi got straight to the point, “Regarding securing the exclusive agency for Max, how confident are you?”
“Eighty percent,” Wei Chen replied. Perhaps when this probability was spoken by others, it might sound like wishful thinking, but coming from Wei Chen, it carried more weight. His estimates were generally very conservative.
Sheng Jiaqi smiled, “I appreciate your confidence. From what I know, this visit by Max to explore the market in China involves not only the director of Max’s marketing department, but also Max’s current Chairman, Mr. Moray.”
Fingal Moray, the current Chairman of Max, held a fifty percent stake in the Max Group, making Max effectively under Fingal Moray’s sole authority. If they could win over Fingal Moray, then Changfeng Group securing exclusive agency rights for Max was a definite prospect.
Upon hearing this, Wei Chen didn’t show the slightest surprise; he evidently knew about this news. His network in this area might not be as extensive as Sheng Jiaqi’s, who had been in business for many years, but he had still woven a web that allowed him to gather certain information he was interested in.
“Mr. Moray has a strong liking for Chinese culture and is often referred to as a connoisseur of China. He especially admires Mr. Sun’s ink wash paintings,” Sheng Jiaqi continued, relaying the information he had inquired about Fingal Moray to Wei Chen, “This time, Mr. Moray won’t be traveling with Max’s marketing director. Despite being known as an admirer of Chinese culture, this is actually his first visit to China. As such, he’s headed to W Ancient Town in Jiangnan Province, a place that exudes the charm of ancient southern China.”
Sheng Jiaqi had interacted with Fingal Moray a few times and had some understanding of the man. He put it mildly; Fingal Moray’s appreciation for Mr. Sun’s ink wash paintings went beyond mere liking; it had reached the realm of fanaticism.
It was a pity, though. It’s a shame that it had been a while since any new works by Mr. Sun had appeared on the market. If there were any available, Sheng Jiaqi wouldn’t have minded presenting Mr. Moray with a piece of Mr. Sun’s artwork, even though he was aware that Mr. Sun’s paintings were now being traded for astronomical prices.
Of course, it was true that Sheng Jiaqi had this kind of thought, but he also knew that if he really did possess one of Mr. Sun’s paintings, whether he would be willing to bring it out was a different matter altogether.
Due to Chen Li’s influence, Wei Chen had a somewhat superficial understanding of the art world. He might not be familiar with other aspects of the art world, but he had definitely heard of Mr. Sun.
Mr. Sun could be considered a national treasure; his ink wash paintings hung not only in the Great Hall of the People, but also in every important meeting room symbolizing the nation.
Wei Chen wasn’t an expert in art, and he hadn’t seen Mr. Sun’s paintings, but he knew the name. Mr. Sun was renowned in the art world and had elevated traditional Chinese painting to global recognition, making remarkable contributions.
Of course, what intrigued Wei Chen wasn’t Mr. Sun himself, but rather Mr. Moray’s chosen destination during his visit to China. It was quite coincidental, in fact. This weekend, the destination of Chen Li’s class for their collective trip aligned with Mr. Moray’s plans.
“So, Director Wei, having learned all this, what would you say is your success rate in securing the role of Max’s exclusive agent in China?” Sheng Jiaqi didn’t know what was going on in Wei Chen’s mind, so he asked seriously, his expression rather stern.
Wei Chen snapped back to attention, “Ninety percent.”
However, Sheng Jiaqi shook his head, “I want a hundred percent. I believe you can do it.”
“I won’t let you down,” Wei Chen didn’t offer any excuses for himself, and he readily accepted Sheng Jiaqi’s task with no room for retreat.
Sheng Jiaqi then smiled, “I’ll be waiting for the good news from Director Wei.”
The matters discussed behind the closed doors of the Chairman’s office were naturally unknown to others. However, the exact timing of Wei Chen’s entry and exit from the Chairman’s office quickly reached Zhou Tongpeng’s ears.
“Vice Chairman Zhou, the Chairman isn’t discussing Max with Director Wei, is he?”
Present in Vice Chairman Zhou’s office at this moment was Li Mingchang, who had taken up the position of Deputy General Manager just last year. He wondered what Wei Chen and the Chairman had talked about for half an hour.
“Let them talk,” Zhou Tongpeng didn’t care much. He had already taken the initiative, and even the necessary connections had been established. Even if Wei Chen and Sheng Jiaqi chatted for hours, they wouldn’t come up with any strategies against him. The credit for Max was now firmly in his hands!
Seeing Zhou Tongpeng’s seemingly confident demeanor, Li Mingchang’s worries diminished somewhat. However, he still couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off. For Wei Chen and Sheng Jiaqi to convene like this, without any incidents, was abnormal.
After all, being the first mover doesn’t always guarantee strength, and being the last to act doesn’t always lead to harm.
But looking at Zhou Tongpeng’s appearance, Li Mingchang wasn’t going to be foolish enough to dampen Zhou Tongpeng’s mood by raising any concerns.
“I understand your worries, but rest assured, I’ve already cleared up this matter,” Zhou Tongpeng sensed Li Mingchang’s unease from his hesitations and smiled, sounding rather smug.
Given Zhou Tongpeng’s assurance, Li Mingchang naturally wouldn’t question further. After discussing some other work-related matters with Zhou Tongpeng, he left.
Zhou Tongpeng instructed his secretary to put on a CD, and vintage music began to emanate from the player. Zhou Tongpeng’s fingers rhythmically tapped the armrest of his chair, and he hummed along with the music.
As night fell, Wei Chen stepped out of the shower and came out of the bathroom, not seeing Chen Li. He knew that Chen Li must have gone back to the studio.
Wei Chen went to the kitchen and poured a glass of milk, intending to take it to Chen Li in the studio. The studio door was slightly ajar. To avoid startling Chen Li, Wei Chen intentionally made some noise as he walked. Approaching Chen Li, he realized that Chen Li wasn’t painting; instead, he was using a calligraphy brush to write, and the script was a style of cursive writing that Wei Chen couldn’t comprehend at first glance.
Wei Chen’s grandfather was a calligraphy master, and Wei Chen had grown up learning from him. Exposed to calligraphy from an early age, Wei Chen had developed a certain understanding of it. Now, looking at Chen Li’s calligraphy, he could tell it was beautifully executed.
When Chen Li finished the final stroke, he noticed Wei Chen standing beside him.
“Hmm,” Wei Chen responded, handing the glass of milk to Chen Li and asking, “Why the sudden interest in calligraphy?”
“My teacher wanted me to learn it. He said that if I’m studying traditional Chinese painting, I must have a foundation in calligraphy,” Chen Li took the glass of milk that Wei Chen handed him, speaking openly with no hint of concealment.
Wei Chen became even more curious, “A teacher? Does Mr. Zhuge Yu also paint traditional Chinese paintings?”
Chen Li shook his head and took a sip of milk, then answered softly, “Not that teacher.” At this point, Chen Li remembered that Zhuge Yu had introduced him to a painting teacher, something he hadn’t mentioned to Wei Chen before. He then explained, “On the day you returned to Shanghai, teacher took me to meet someone. He’s very skilled in traditional Chinese painting.” Chen Li’s eyes lit up as he spoke, clearly filled with admiration for his new teacher.
“He asked me to paint a traditional Chinese painting, and when I did, he said he wanted to take me as his student.”
With this simple explanation, Wei Chen pieced together the situation. No wonder Li Li wanted to learn traditional Chinese painting; that’s why he had started practicing calligraphy now.
However, Wei Chen didn’t inquire about the name of Chen Li’s new painting teacher; if Zhuge Yu had recommended them, they must be trustworthy.
Now, Chen Li took another sip of milk, leaving a milk mustache on his lips. He stuck out his tongue to wipe it away unconsciously, a gesture that was unintentionally alluring. Wei Chen had been watching Chen Li, but now he averted his gaze.
He didn’t know if it was due to his youthful blood or something else, but lately, he found himself losing control more often. His temper had become somewhat irritable, and he even had some pimples on his forehead.
Unaware of what Wei Chen was thinking, Chen Li took another sip of milk, finishing it off, before asking, “Achen, do you know calligraphy? Can you teach me?”
Wei Chen had indeed learned calligraphy from his grandfather, and calligraphy was a form of cultivating a tranquil mind, something he needed at the moment. So, he readily agreed without much thought.
Unfolding a piece of rice paper, holding the brush, and moving it, Wei Chen’s actions were seamless. He was writing in a style called “xing shu,” which flowed like running water.
It’s often said that a person’s handwriting reflects their character, and this definitely applied to Wei Chen.
Wei Chen’s characters were angular and sharp, his brushstrokes clean and decisive, giving off an air of cold aloofness. The sharp intensity seemed to press against the observer, almost piercing the paper.
Chen Li stared at Wei Chen’s writing for a while, and when he looked at Wei Chen, his eyes brightened, filled with admiration.
“Achen, could you teach me how to write?” Chen Li said.
“Sure,” Wei Chen couldn’t resist reaching out and ruffling Chen Li’s hair, agreeing with a smile.
With the diversion of calligraphy, Wei Chen’s restless energy calmed down somewhat. However, he knew that this kind of restlessness would still visit him from time to time, as long as Chen Li was around.
“Li Li, you should recover quickly,” Wei Chen looked at Chen Li, who was diligently writing, and once again whispered softly, “Li Li, you should get healthier soon.”