“This book ca… It’s called a book cafe, right? A combination of a bookstore and a cafe; just like the advert mentioned. The cafe's business seems to be booming,” mused Theodore enviously to himself as he eyed the building across the road.
He could see that the entire cafe was packed. There were some people reading books quietly, while others engaged in lively conversations. On top of that, a noticeably unique beverage could be seen on almost every table in the book cafe.
All of the patrons had peaceful smiles on their faces, and the atmosphere appeared serene and jubilant.
It was said that the book cafe had invented a one-of-a-kind beverage, aptly named 'pearl milk tea.' Its initial launch attracted such a large batch of customers that it ran out of stock. Many customers who came far and wide were unable to get their hands on one.
However, higher demand only increases the product’s worth. Its popularity became further widespread from those who didn't get to try this novel beverage. Those few that actually managed to taste the drink were largely vocal in their affirmation of the sumptuousness of this 'pearl milk tea.’
This only added to the curiosity for the drink.
“It’s so good that it’s a little strange,” Theodore uttered while staring at the bobbing heads in the cafe.
Throwing a cigarette butt to the ground, Manan stomped it out with the sole tip of his leather shoes. “What’s so strange about it?” he asked as he tightened his jacket.
He raised his thumb and pointed at the rows of constructed infrastructure behind him.
“This area’s gonna be way livelier in future because of the influence of our Rolle Resource's development.”
Manan spoke with pride; he was the person in charge of this operation and had been personally delegated this task by Young Miss Ji herself.
He was a Northerner with the typical physical traits of one: raven-black hair and hazel eyes that seemed to lack dimension. Hence, he decided to grow out beard to look less conspicuous to a certain extent.
He had been with Ji Bonong for quite some time already, though he still couldn’t be considered as a true confidant. Nevertheless, he was still a capable man, and operations of great importance were specifically placed under his supervision.
Thus, from his point of view, even though this place seemed rather deserted, it was actually brimming with potential.
And that book cafe was solid evidence that proved this point.
And Theodore beside him was just yet another insignificant merchant who’d come today to inquire about the shophouse rental prices.
He’d only took note of his competitor because he was a relatively reputable second-hand book merchant.
Theodore shook his head. “Perhaps I am being overly presumptuous, but it feels as if the patrons don't seem to be reading. Rather, it appears like…”
He hesitated, as if trying to think of the specific verb. “Like they are praying… Haha, my imagination is running far too wild.”
Theodore couldn’t help chuckling as he said it. Even he found his own words ridiculous.
This was a book cafe and not some church, how could there be a prayer session ongoing in there? If it was really prayer, then would they be worshiping some God of Milk Tea?
Manan laughed as well before chiming in, “This book cafe has an engaging way of operation; perhaps you can learn a thing or two from it. Bona fide bookstores aren't that popular nowadays, after all. I heard that business isn't going so well for you recently. You’d better not end up like that bookstore, for we won't entertain any refunds.”
He pointed in half-jest at the dilapidated bookstore beside the cafe.
Search Hosted Novel for the original.
Theodore's gaze also shifted in that direction. He had noticed the bookstore without a signboard from the beginning, and the only visitor to the bookstore left empty-handed and with a heavy heart. That very same person had then entered the adjacent book cafe to purchase a drink before leaving in satisfaction.
It could be deduced from this that the bookstore's business was really bad.
“Of course not. Despite my failing business in the book industry, I still have some loyal customers. Moreover… I’ve prepared a few antique books from my personal collection to be sold. I believe aristocrats and scholars would be highly interested in them.”
He smiled, appearing composed on the outside, but he did feel a sharp pang of sadness deep down.
Just as Manan had said, bookstores were already becoming a thing of the past. Ever since the computer saw widespread usage, reading from the screen had gradually gained popularity. Perhaps in time to come, people would abandon books altogether.
But till then, he was still willing to be a bookseller.
“That's good to hear then,” Manan said with a pat on Theodore's shoulder. "Once the contract has been signed, Unit 16 on the first floor will be your shop. Rolle Resource Development will begin promoting this commercial district when it opens. Good luck.”
The overall allocation as well as terms and benefits had actually already been discussed, so this was only small talk.
Theodore gave a sincere smile, feeling secretly relieved inside.
He had recently acquired some rather special books that caught the eye of others and made him a target. Thus, he was forced to give up on his original store and switch to being under Rolle Resource Development.
Hopefully this would intimidate those people...
Since the collaboration was a pleasant success, the overall mood naturally lightened up.
Manan lit another cigarette and took a long drag. With a cryptic smile, he said, “Actually, I’ve heard some rumors of the young miss visiting this particular bookstore. Rumors have it that the bookstore owner knows magic and is capable of many miraculous feats… although I reckon it's all mumbo jumbo.”
Theodore was slightly surprised. I never expected the person in charge would be so gossipy...
Shaking his head, he replied, “Perhaps it was to create an opinion to attract more customers… This strategy is pretty common. Though resorting to such lengths probably means this bookstore is on its last legs."
Moreover, this is way too far-fetched. Not mentioning magic powers, why would the young heiress of Rolle Resource Development visit a place like this in the first place?
Manan chortled. “That's true, how could that be possible? Hahaha… hic ugh cough!”
Halfway through his laughing, he suddenly appeared as if he was choking; mouth wide open, red-faced, and having a pained expression.
Theodore was startled and immediately reached out to support Manan. However, he couldn't help glancing in the same direction when he noticed Manan’s unmoving stare.
Parked in front of the shabby door of the bookstore was a high-end jet-black vehicle.
An eerie and foreboding sense of premonition came over Theodore.
Manan finally composed himself by taking a breath. He could only stare wide-eyed at the person who alighted from the vehicle. His brain seemed to be short-circuiting as he exclaimed in disbelief, “Y-Young M-M-Miss?!”
Lin Jie was currently wondering the best way to wrap the philosopher's stone as a gift for his very capable assistant.
However, he was interrupted by a luxuriant black limousine that stopped outside his bookstore.
The middle-aged chauffeur in a neat black suit was the first to alight. He made his way to the back and opened the car door. Bending slightly, he kept a stable posture, placing one hand on the top of the door frame to protect the passenger’s head while his other hand gestured 'please.'
Ji Zhixiu’s slender and fair legs were the first to touch the ground. Black high heels adorned her delicate ankles, and donned on her elegant figure was a dress of the same coloration. Complementing her graceful facial features were two red prism earrings on either side of her cheeks.
She took a deep breath as she saw the worn-down bookstore.
In the meantime, the chauffeur had already made his way to the trunk and had lugged out a cumbersome suitcase.