"That's fine," I assured William Wang. "We'll figure it out. For now, concentrate on your relationship. And congrats. Make sure to invite me to your wedding."
"Will do, boss." William grinned. "And thanks."
The both of us knew what sharing a home and living together for a man and woman meant. Especially if they were already in a relationship. That was pretty much a direct route into marriage. Given today's society, a man and woman usually had to pool their financial resources together in order to buy a new home, otherwise they wouldn't be able to afford it.
Unless they were rich, like all those CEOs and billionaires you saw in romance stories. Speaking of which, I was a CEO, but I wasn't rich enough to buy my own apartment. Not yet.
"Actually, this is the best time possible too," I said, suddenly remembering something. The both of us had been kicked out of the apartment we shared prior to this, especially in the wake of that assassination from exosuit-wearing soldiers. The landlord wasn't pleased about the destruction to her property and promptly evicted us, even though we paid in full for the repairs.
To solve our current problem of homelessness, the both of us had taken up residence in the military base for now. Since it was a military base, it had barracks for soldiers to reside in – during training, most of these soldiers stayed in camp and only booked out during the weekends, much like I did during my mandatory military service over ten years ago.
Wow, had it already been that long? I never thought I would be staying in a military camp again, after I had passed my operationally ready date. Well, I did end up going back a couple of times, for about two weeks at a time, for a few years before I moved to G City, but it felt like forever since those reservist sessions. More than five years, considering that I did my PhD in Country A before arriving here to attempt to start up my own business.
However, William hadn't been Country S like me, and he had never served in the military. I could tell that he was uncomfortable living in an army camp, so I didn't blame him for wanting to get out of here as soon as possible.
"So…have you guys found a place yet?"
"We're looking at it," William admitted. "Maya has already decided, though. We'll be looking at it today, and if all things go according to plan, we'll purchase the house and…move in by next month."
"Great!" I was being sincere. Even though it meant losing a roommate, I knew this would come sooner or later. I grinned as an idea came to me. "Any chance you guys will have a spare room or a basement for me to rent?"
"Uh, well…I'll have to discuss with Maya first…"
"I'm kidding," I told William hastily. And I meant it. I wasn't going to be a third wheel and hang around newlyweds immediately after their wedding. It would be so awkward. Not to mention they would want their own privacy and space together. "Your wife will definitely disagree, and I don't want to make things difficult for you. Besides, I'm using this chance to be independent."
"Ha ha, okay. Have you actually found a place yet?"
"I've been looking," I admitted. Honestly, I had checked several places where I could get a garage so that I had some space to tinker with my machines. It was annoying to not be able to do some work and experiment back in the apartment. There were times when I wanted to hang out in my garage and build things.
By things, I meant robots, but whatever.
"You should take a look too," William suggested. He fiddled with his smartphone before sending me some links. "These are the showrooms that Maya and I have been visiting. That's how Maya made her decision, and I like what she picked after seeing it. It's really different seeing pictures of the house online and actually seeing the replicated rooms in a showroom."
"You've been there?"
"Yeah. Give it a try."
"I'll consider it." I felt reluctant, but I knew William had a point. I could browse houses and rooms online, but I wouldn't know if they were perfect for me until I had actually moved in. However, I wasn't a picky person, so honestly I doubted it would make that much difference for me.
No, wait…I needed to get a feel of how large and spacious the garages were. Damn. I was actually choosing a house based on what kind of garage it had. That was just weird…but I couldn't care less. The garage was the most important thing to me.
"All right, I'll give it a try."
"And don't be stingy," William reprimanded me, his hands on his hips. "I know you wanted to save money, but we're not tight on cash anymore. After receiving all those lucrative military contracts, we can now afford a normal house. I'm not saying you need to splash our cash and purchase a massive mansion or luxurious estate, but at least buy a proper house. Don't buy an apartment just to save money."
I understood why William was telling me all this. We had this discussion before, shortly after our first contract. With higher pay and more money in the bank, William had proposed that we moved out of the dingy apartment we had rented, but I was reluctant to do so. I had wanted to save money.
Also, I was too lazy to move out. Moving out was a lot of trouble, and I had a lot of belongings. Most of them were still packed into the boxes that I left stacked in the barracks that the military had loaned me while I looked for a new place. Mostly because I couldn't be bothered to take them out. Some of it was furniture, but a lot of them were books, toys (I played too much tabletop war gaming and thus had a lot of miniatures) and clothing. Even before we were evicted, I had dreaded the trouble of packing all my stuff…but I had no choice but to force myself to put them into boxes when the landlord kicked us out. This time, she had a justifiable reason – our presence was causing danger to the other occupants. Given how the assassins destroyed a good portion of the building, I couldn't refute her. And so I had to force myself to perform the onerous task of packing all my belongings and sealing them up in cardboard.
It would be a pain to take them out, then pack them back into the boxes again when I had to move. So I didn't bother to unpack them for now. Also, I knew that staying at the military barracks wasn't a permanent solution. The higher-ups would eventually pressure me to move…or force me to buy a new house. I couldn't put this issue off forever.
"I guess I will go check them out once I'm done with today's work," I said at last, much to William's satisfaction.
Keeping my promise, I jumped into my Toyota electric car and drove to the first showroom on the list. They were displaying a new estate of houses in a new neighborhood. Apparently, the advertisements were targeted at young people – especially newly married couples or couples who were engaged and about to marry.
Now I understood why William had these links. He and Maya would of course be looking at showrooms like this.
When stepping into the place, I caught sight of the usual couples in gaudy attires and sporting tons of expensive accessories flirting about. A lady in an expensive gown, with golden bracelets, a diamond necklace and sparkling earrings was curled around the arm of a guy in a branded suit and sunglasses. They were speaking loudly and arrogantly to an eagerly nodding staff, a lady in uniform who tried to ingratiate herself as much as possible.
"Choose whatever house you like, honey," the guy was saying. "Ten million, twenty million…it doesn't matter to me! As long as you're happy!"
"Oh, you're so rich and generous, darling!" his squeeze squealed. Wow…that was so fake. It was almost as if they were caricatures acting out a perfunctory role in a trashy son-in-law or urban cultivation novel.
Well, they could act whatever roles they liked. It was none of my freaking business. I was only here to look at a new house.
However, I hadn't taken more than a few steps before I caught the disdain in the eyes of the staff there. They were looking at me scornfully and whispering to themselves, but loud enough so that I could overhear.
"What is the security doing? How can they just let any Tom, Dick and Harry walk in like this?"
"Look at how poor that nerdy guy is. Can't even afford lasik surgery and has to wear glasses. Look at how shabby his suit is, how cheap…"
"Did you see the car he arrived in? A Toyota! A bloody Toyota! Aiya, if you can't even afford to buy a proper car, why are you here to buy a house? Does he have no idea how much any of these houses cost?"
"It's not a sin to be poor, but it's a sin to be ignorant! If you can't afford it, then don't come here and pretend!"
"I bet he'll just walk around and leave after a while. How pretentious."
"Don't you feel sorry for him? For poor people, this is the only way they can pretend to feel rich, even for just a while."
I rolled my eyes when I overheard the female staff speaking amongst themselves. From the looks they shot me, they clearly wanted me to leave. None of them approached me to offer assistance or ask me if I wanted to look around.
Fuck them. I immediately turned around and left the place. When I did so, the women chittered behind my back.
"I knew it. He couldn't keep up his pretensions."
"Yeah. Of course he's only here to play around. When he realized that we know the truth, he is too embarrassed to stay here any longer."
Yeah…fuck them. I refused to give them my money when they insulted and humiliated me like this.
I hadn't gotten very far, only reaching the automatic doors, when a man in a suit showed up.
"Ah, Mr. Shen! I didn't think you would come!" The man smiled and held out a hand. I blinked, puzzled.
"Oh, forgive my rudeness. This is the first time we've met in person, after all. I'm Neil Ng, a realtor owner." He gestured to the showroom. "I was the one who built this entire estate!"
He rubbed his hands gleefully. "Mr. Shen, I assume you're here because you want to purchase a house?"
"Uh, yeah…but…how do you know me, Mr. Ng?" I couldn't help but be suspicious, though I concealed the doubt in my voice.
"How could I not recognize you? You're the CEO of Shen Industries! A rising star! Your face is plastered all over the news recently!" Neil was grabbing my hand enthusiastically. "I saw your war walker! You've revolutionized military technology!"
At his words, the sales staff immediately fell silent, their jaws dropping in horror.
More Privileged Chapters
Download the app and become a privileged reader today! Come take a sneak peek at our author's stockpiled chapters!Download
This's an experimental test for reading assistance in case.
We highly recommend you to enjoy the beauty of the original words.