Chapter 525 Members Only
The sight of the eight prestigious families squabbling over Jennifer like children outside the gates of Est Montaigne would undoubtedly be a ludicrous one to any bystanders.
The crowd fought unceasingly, none willing to relent. They then looked to Tyrone, who was seated at the side. “You were the one to offer this reward of ten billion. So tell us, who should enter first?”
Tyrone was too concerned for Jennifer’s safety to be bothered with anything else. “Who amongst you dares to go head to head against Gibbons?” Tyrone said derisively at the group of fools being frustrated over their order of entry.
Tyrone’s words shocked them to a realization. Though they were members of the eight prestigious families, none of them could contend against Gibbons in terms of power or brutality.
Gibbons was smoking a cigarette and enjoying the show when the other seven prestigious families fell silent at the mention of his name. What’s there to argue about? Like Tyrone said, who dares to walk in front of Gibbons?
The entrance to Est Montaigne opened slowly. “It’s open! The gates are open!” Gibbons threw the cigarette butt onto the ground, extinguished it with his heel, and stretched before strolling toward the facility.
The other prestigious families followed closely behind. Though they could no longer contend for the privilege to enter first, the position of second place was still up for grabs.
All of their expressions changed upon entering the facility. Tevin was lying in bed with a mouthful of blood and wide, unblinking eyes which seemed to contain no more life.
Other parts of Est Montaigne were also in a wretched state. It looked as if it had been trampled by a frightening force. “Did somebody attack Est Montaigne?”
“Go in and locate Jennifer. Quickly!” Tyrone ordered. The subordinates he brought immediately ran further into Est Montaigne. The explosive news caused a buzz of emotions throughout the Youngblood family.
The attack on Est Montaigne left none alive! Sixty-odd managers in charge of the Youngbloods’ safe houses around the world sat around a long table in the hall of the Youngblood residence in Gerton. Every one of them looked grim.
Before them lay the information and personnel list of the security surveillance system in Est Montaigne. Two Quattuor Stella Warriors and Sivert.
The security setup installed in all the safe houses was deemed of above-average quality. It could ensure the complete safety of the house’s occupants, even in a country ravaged by war.
A safe house of that description had been razed in Pollerton. “Since everybody is here, let’s hear it.” The patriarch of the Youngblood family in Gerton, Yuvich Youngblood, sat at the head position in the hall and swept a cold gaze at everybody within.
“Ever since news regarding Est Montaigne was released, Mr. Youngblood, the valuation of Youngblood Group has shrunk by five percent. Our old clients in banks worldwide are also requesting to transfer their capital because they feel Youngblood Group’s safe houses are not as safe as they had imagined.”
The Youngblood family had managed a rapid ascent due to the reputation of their safe houses. As a result, the impact on Youngblood Group could only be imagined with such a blow to their reputation.
“I don’t want to hear what I already know. Tell me something else,” Yuvich barked as he surveyed the crowd. “Like how Est Montaigne was razed, and who is behind it all.”
“All of the surveillance cameras in the facility had been destroyed, Mr. Youngblood. There are no survivors in there, so we could not find out who did it. Whoever it was left no trace behind.”
“Is that so?” Yuvich said as he rapped on the table lightly with his fingers. “Then why did I hear Tyrone announcing that he would give ten billion to whoever it was that could rescue a woman named Jennifer from Est Montaigne before it was destroyed?”
The Youngblood family members present were not stupid. Their eyes lit up at Yuvich’s words.
They derived two pieces of information from Tyrone’s declaration. The first was a woman named Jennifer being at Est Montaigne before the incident occurred. The second was Tyrone being the person most likely to attack the occupants of Est Montaigne since he had offered a ten billion reward to whoever it was who could rescue Jennifer.
“Send somebody to investigate. The person who attacked Est Montaigne must have connections to Jennifer or Tyrone. Report whatever you find back to me. I’ll have that person wish they were never born.”
“Yes, Mr. Youngblood.”
“One more thing. I heard Donald Campbell of Pollerton has launched the Dragon Fide Project. Callahan will handle this. Dragon Fide Villa must not be allowed to rebuild.”
“Yes, Mr. Youngblood.”
The inner circle of the Youngblood family began executing their orders. Meanwhile, the ten prestigious families in Pollerton had also descended into silence.
Sebastian stood at the cemetery, wearing a white flower in his breast pocket and an impassive expression on his face.
Rodolphus, the white-haired elder of the Freedman clan, arrived before Sebastian. “You’ve been in Pollerton for a long time, Sebastian,” he said in a low voice. “Have you not found out who killed Oscar in Est Montaigne?”
Oscar was the most highly regarded member of his generation within the Freedman clan. If everything went according to plan, he would take over from the elders in another three years to become the new patriarch of the Freedman family.
Oscar’s purpose in Pollerton was originally to relax and gain experience. Unexpectedly, that was precisely where something had happened. Worse still, he had met his end in Est Montaigne.
Sebastian knew whose hand Oscar had died under very well, though he kept it to himself. “I’m sorry, Mr. Rodolphus,” he said while shaking his head. “Oscar has many enemies in Pollerton, but none of them have the ability to raze Est Montaigne to the ground.”
Rodolphus looked Sebastian beadily in the eye, though the latter did not flinch nor display the slightest hint of guilt.
Satisfied that Sebastian was telling the truth, Rodolphus clapped the former on the shoulder. “I heard Donald is reinstating the Dragon Fide Project and that you have invested three hundred million in him. I hope you can give me a reason, or your family will strip you of your personal assets, depending on the severity of the situation.”
Prominent families did not wish to see their offspring devote all their energy to internal friction.
The Freedman family’s objection to the Dragon Fide Project was well-known among its inner circle, and Sebastian’s affiliation with Donald was undoubtedly seen as a move against the Freedman clan.
If Sebastian could not give Rodolphus a satisfactory answer, he would lose the Freedman clan’s support.
“I trust Donald and believe that the Dragon Fide Project would be a success. It’s been on hold for the past few years due to Tyrone’s objection. In addition, it provided no benefits to the prestigious families. What if, however, the Dragon Fide Project benefited us?”
“Preposterous,” Rodolphus boomed. “The world’s top billionaires will fall under Donald’s control if Dragon Fide Villa is built. How is that beneficial to the other prestigious families such as ours?”
“The recently announced La Tercera Order revealed the government’s plan to set up the area around Dragon Fide Villa to be a pilot free-trade zone within a month,” Sebastian said with a glance at Rodolphus. “I think the potential value behind this zone speaks for itself.”
The Ten Prestigious Families did not materialize out of thin air. Instead, they were essentially businessmen driven toward profit.
Even if Sebastian stood against his entire family, he did so for profit, leading to their betterment. Rodolphus could not object to that.
“Even if what you said makes sense, the Freedman clan will never go against Tyrone. Over the years, the prosperity of the Ten Prestigious Families has been inextricably linked. I can’t control what you do, but you cannot represent the Freedman clan.”
Rodolphus’ words were carefully measured. Though he did not expel Sebastian from the Freedman clan, he did not declare his intention to stop Sebastian from siding with Donald and investing in the latter.
Sebastian understood. He gave Rodolphus’ hand a squeeze before turning and departing the cemetery.
Sebastian did not blame the Freedman clan for their ignorance regarding the true extent of Donald’s strength. He was adamant about being in the same boat as Donald until the end, as it was the only way to preserve the spark of the Freedman clan until the very end.
Donald held Jennifer and sat on the couch in the couples’ marital bedroom in Pollerton. He felt touched looking at the decor of their matrimonial room.
Even though he did not live there anymore, Jennifer still kept the house clean and tidy. It looked as if he had never left.
“No! Let go of me! Donald! Save me!”
Jennifer suddenly began struggling in her sleep. Donald hastened to hold her. “I’m here,” he whispered in her ear. “I’m right here.”
She quietened down at the sound of Donald’s voice.
Jennifer hugged him and wept when she opened her eyes and saw his familiar face looming over hers.
“I’m so sorry, Donald.”
Donald brushed Jennifer’s nose as he chuckled. “What are you talking about, silly? It’s fine now. Oscar did not do anything to you.”
Jennifer lowered her gaze to her clothes and found they were indeed tidy. They did not look like they had been forcefully undone.
“How is that possible? How did you find me?”
Donald gazed at Jennifer. “I asked a friend for help in rescuing you. He is formidable but does not wish for anybody to learn of his existence. Can you promise to keep his secret, Jennifer?”
Jennifer nodded obediently.
“Are you still upset?” Donald suddenly asked.
Jennifer blushed before rolling her eyes at Donald. “Yes, I am,” she huffed. “Let go of me.”
Donald knew very well that Jennifer did not mean what she said and refused to let go.
He bent down and kissed Jennifer, causing her embarrassment to turn into anger.
“What are you doing, Donald? Let go of me!”
Donald bent down and kissed her again. Jennifer’s resistance weakened, and her breathing became labored.
The couple kissed for a long time on the couch. “Would you like to go out for a bite?” Donald asked Jennifer at last.
Jennifer nodded while blushing furiously. Donald was the only thing in her thoughts at that moment, so she was naturally agreeable to any suggestion he made.
They emerged from their residential area. Donald took Jennifer to board a bus and arrived at Ophelia’s, a restaurant specializing in Epean cuisine.
“Isn’t this restaurant a little expensive, Donald? What say we go to a different restaurant?”
Though Donald and Jennifer each owned a company, their monthly salary was only slightly higher than that of an ordinary white-collar worker. On top of that, they had to worry about their companies.
The patrons of Ophelia’s were mostly big fish from prestigious families. Their spending power was something the two of them could not contend against.
“We’ll treat it as a celebration of you surviving a disaster. I can still afford a decent meal.”
Donald led her by the hand and entered after he spoke before being stopped in their tracks by a server, Frank Lansing, standing at the door.
“Excuse me. This restaurant is for members only. Are you two members?”
“No. It’s our first time here.” Donald produced a bank card and handed it to Frank. “Since it’s members only, make us a membership card.”
Frank did not take the bank card Donald offered. Instead, he said coolly, “I’m sorry, sir. This establishment operates on a recommended membership basis. We cannot allow you to dine here if you have not been recommended by one of our existing members.”
“Forget it, Donald. Let’s eat someplace else.”
Jennifer was not insistent on dining in that restaurant. She tugged at Donald to hint that they should seek another.
Just then, a piercing voice came from the entrance.
“Well, well, if it isn’t Jennifer. Why are you standing here by the door instead of going in?”
Jennifer turned around and saw a woman in a tight, low-cut red dress toting a Chanel purse gazing at her with an inscrutable smile.
“Who else would it be?” Keira Summers said with a charming smile. “You were our campus belle, Jennifer. Where are you working now?”
Jennifer was indeed the campus belle during high school. The boys who pursued her could almost make up an entire class.
Keira was also pretty then, but she and Jennifer were on two different extremes.
Jennifer was pure and sweet, while Keira was kitsch, seductive, and had affairs with many boys in school.
She was also the type of person who made others jealous if she failed to obtain something.
She did have a boy she liked in high school. He was the heir of a good and wealthy family.
Because that boy never considered her over Jennifer, Keira had always held a grudge.
Jennifer was aware that Keira never liked her, so she did not prepare to entangle herself with the latter. “I’ve started my own company,” she replied half-heartedly.
“Wow. You’re a boss now, huh?” Keira then glanced at Donald. “Is this your boyfriend?”
Jennifer blushed and did not answer. Donald took the initiative to speak instead. “Hello. I’m Donald Campbell.”
Keira glanced at Donald up and down, her eyes filled with disdain.
Having associated herself with celebrities for many years, Keira had long since developed a sharp eye.
Her sweeping glance informed her that Donald’s entire outfit totaled almost three hundred, less than what she would spend on a single manicure session.
If Jennifer’s boyfriend is somebody like that, that means she isn’t doing well at all!
Keira became gleeful at that thought.
Weren’t you high and mighty during high school, Jennifer? Weren’t you like a white swan waiting for her Prince Charming? You still ended up with a loser boyfriend.
“We have matters to attend to, Keira. We’ll make a move.”
“Hey, don’t leave yet.” Keira tugged on Jennifer’s arm. “It’s rare enough to have run into an old classmate, and you’re just going to leave?”
Before Jennifer answered, Frank, the server, chimed in from his position at the door, “They are not members of the restaurant, Ms. Summers. We cannot allow them to dine here.”
“Not members of our restaurant, you say?” Keira repeated thoughtfully before continuing with a frown, “What say we let them dine for my sake?”
“Ms. Summers, that—”
“What? Don’t you know who my husband is?”
Frank did not dare say much else against Keira’s words. He stood aside and waved the three of them in.
Jennifer did not wish to dine there via her association with Keira as it was awkward for her, but Donald was adamant that Jennifer accepted the offer.
The trio was seated at a table beside the window, but Keira had the server prepare four cutlery sets.
“Coincidentally, my husband is about to get off work. Would you mind if he joined us?”
As Keira was the one who brought them in, they could not say they minded.
“Are we ready to order, sir and madams?”
Frank handed the three of them a menu each. Jennifer opened hers and found that it was entirely in Ferropenian.
“Their steak is excellent, Jennifer. You should try it. It’s called the Murphy Steak. Can you find it?”
Keira could tell from how flustered Jennifer looked that the latter did not understand Ferropenian.
Her reason for asking was to embarrass her old nemesis.
Unexpectedly, Donald said to Jennifer, “I know what you like, Jennifer. Let me order for you.”
Jennifer heaved a secret sigh of relief, though she could not help feeling nervous. Does Donald understand Ferropenian?
He then turned to Frank and rattled off in a foreign tongue, ending in a rising intonation.
Keira was stunned when Donald spoke.
He not only knew Ferropenian but was also highly fluent, with an impeccable accent to boot.
Ophelia’s originally had menus in seven languages, but Frank had purposefully handed them three with the scarcely used Ferropenian menu under Keira’s direction.
Who knew that Donald spoke Ferropenian?
“W-What did you say, sir?”
It was Frank’s turn to be embarrassed.
Their servers who spoke Ferropenian were becoming increasingly scarce. Coincidentally, he himself did not speak it. Isn’t this picking a fight I’m guaranteed to lose?
“You don’t speak Ferropenian?” Donald asked coldly.
Sweat beads were beginning to form on Frank’s forehead. “I don’t. My colleague does, however. Would you like me to fetch him?”
Donald chuckled. “Since you don’t speak Ferropenian, why did you hand us Ferropenian menus? What is the meaning of this?”
Frank gulped, unable to find the right words. How should I explain something like this? I can’t say I wanted to see you embarrass yourselves, can I?
Fortunately, Keira spoke up for Frank. “This is a custom of the restaurant. They will first give new guests the Ferropenian menu, though not many of them speak Ferropenian. Why don’t you bring three Chanaean menus over, and we’ll start over.”
“Yes, Ms. Summers. I will make the change right away.”
As if being spared a terrible fate, Frank dashed off to change the menus. Jennifer could tell that it was all arranged by Keira.
At that moment, a man with a big belly entered through the door. Keira stood up excitedly as soon as she saw him and waved him over. “Come quickly, Darling. We’re over here.”
Keira and Jennifer were of the same age: in their mid-twenties. But Keira’s husband looked to be at least fifty.
However, she did not think it was a problem. On the contrary, she hugged his arm affectionately. “This is my husband, Fane Grayson,” she said haughtily to Jennifer and Donald as she made the introductions, “the Director of Fane Group. Darling, this is my high school classmate, Jennifer Wilson, and her boyfriend, Donald Campbell.”