The next day, Long Bing went to deal with the information she’d been given and Xia Lei went touring around Jing-Du with Xia Xue like he’d wanted. The siblings first went to the Great Wall and then to the Forbidden City in the afternoon.
“Big Brother, that’s the emperor’s throne. Imposing, isn’t it?” Xia Xue pointed to the throne in the Palace of Heavenly Purity.
Xia Lei looked at the throne and laughed, “It’s just a wooden chair. Not as comfortable as a sofa.”
“That’s the symbol of the emperor’s power! Over 600 years of Ming and Qing dynasties, countless people have lost their heads and bled rivers, all to sit in this chair!” Xia Xue looked like she was about to give Xia Lei a history lecture.
Strangely, Xia Lei suddenly thought of the compass he had repaired.
That compass was an artefact from the time of Yongle, a product of the same time period as the Forbidden City.
‘The Forbidden City was built by Zhu Di, emperor of the Ming dynasty. The compass was also engraved with Yongle’s words. Based on the technology and production capabilities of that time, it had to take someone with the power of the emperor’s rank to complete such a miraculous piece of work. If that compass was designed personally by Zhu Di, then what did he use it for?’ Thoughts about the compass flooded Xia Lei’s mind and he let his imagination roam.
“I’m going to the loo for a bit. Wait for me here, okay, Big Brother?” said Xia Xue.
“Yeah, go.” Xia Lei nodded and watched Xia Xue walk off. He was still thinking about the compass, his thoughts fuelled by simple curiosity. He’d never seen it again after Long Bing had taken it away when he was done repairing it, and nobody talked to him about the compass either.
It seemed like Zhu Di would be the one who would know the most about the compass. Xia Lei could not solve the puzzle no matter how much he thought about it and he concluded his thoughts with a self-depreciating smile.
Ring ring ring, ring ring ring…
His phone suddenly rang - it was Chi Jing Qiu.
Xia Lei walked out of the Palace of Heavenly Purity and took the call, “What’s up, Jing-Qiu?”
“Are you done thinking about the job?” Chi Jing-Qiu went straight to the point, “My client is losing patience. What’s wrong? Is the money too little, or what?”
Xia Lei had already guessed what she’d say when he saw her number and he had an answer prepared, “Is your client in a rush? Sorry, I’ve been busy of late. You know how it is - my company’s just starting, the supermarket was just opened… How about you ask him to get someone else?”
“Xia Lei!” Chi Jing-Qiu got angry, “Would I have come to you if someone else could do it?”
Xia Lei laughed, “Then why is he losing patience? Let him wait some more. We’ll talk after I’m done with my stuff.”
“You…” Chi Jing-Qiu went for the soft approach and her voice became cloyingly sweet, “Big Brother Lei, my sweetie Big Brother Lei, pretty please help me? We’re old classmates, aren’t we? Help me this once?”
“Of course I’ll help - did I say that I wouldn’t? I’d have rejected the offer long ago if I wasn’t going to help,” said Xia Lei.
“Then tell me what I have to do for you to help me.”
Before Xia Lei could say his excuse, Chi Jing-Qiu cut him short, “You want me to sleep with you? No problem. I’ll come to your home tonight and scrub myself squeaky clean for you to fuck me. I’ll treat you like a god. Would you like that?”
Only a woman like Chi Jing-Qiu could say something like this.
Furthermore, what she said was not in jest. She would do it if Xia Lei gave her the nod - wash herself clean, jump through all the hoops for him and treat him like a god. Xia Lei did not dare to agree to something like that.
“Okay, Big Brother Lei? Just say the word. I’ll do anything. You can play with my body however you want. Yes?” Chi Jing-Qiu spoke in a cutesy voice which could turn bones to jelly.
“Let’s not joke around like this. I’m in Jing-Du now. We’ll talk when I get back.” Xia Lei couldn’t take much more of her teasing.
“You’re in Jing-Du? What are you doing in Jing-Du?” Chi Jing-Qiu’s voice returned to normal immediately.
“Well, I went to China Industrial Group to do something. They have a new purchase order for me,” said Xia Lei.
“I see… Okay, we’ll talk when you get back. I’ll tell you that I made my order before China Industrial Group so you have to finish mine first,” said Chi Jing-Qiu.
Xia Lei laughed, “Yeah, yeah, I’ll finish your job first. Okay, that’s that. I’ll contact you later. Bye.”
Xia Lei hung up before Chi Jing-Qiu could say more.
Chi JIng-Qiu’s voice kept ringing in Xia Lei’s head even after he’d hung up. He quietly thought over the earlier conversation and doubts surfaced, ‘Chi Jing-Qiu’s reaction was quite normal. Does it mean that she’s not afraid that I’d discover what those parts are being used for? Or was this just a normal transaction and I’m being too paranoid? What is Gu Ke-Wen’s role in all of this?’
He had a string of questions but the answers were deeply hidden and difficult to uncover.
“Big Brother.” Xia Xue’s voice brought him out of his thoughts.
Xia Lei lifted his head to look at Xia Xue and froze.
Xia Xue had a red slap-mark on her cheek and tears in her eyes.
“Let’s go back, Big Brother. There’s nothing nice to see in this place.” Xia Xue did not look Xia Lei in the eye and urged him to leave.
Xia Lei thundered, “Why do you have a slap-mark on your face? Who hit you? Tell me. What’s going on?”
“N, no… nothing,” said Xia Xue nervously, “Don’t ask, Big Brother. Let’s leave.”
Xia Lei clamped down on his anger, “Tell me. It’s okay, I just want to know what happened.”
“Just now… Wuuuh…” Xia Xue seemed to recall the humiliation she had suffered and tears rolled down her face, her words swallowed by blubbering.
At that moment, three 18, 19-year-old girls and four young men in their twenties walked over. One of the girls suddenly pointed at Xia Xue and said, “She’s there! That little slut!”
Xia Lei looked at where the voice had come from. The three girls were scantily dressed and heavily made up; they were obviously female hooligans. The four young men were also garishly dressed and every one of them had tattoos and piercings. Xia Lei seemed to have guessed something when he saw this group of youths and his face darkened immediately.
Xia Xue pulled at Xia Lei’s hand, frightened. “Big Brother, we, we should go,” she said anxiously.
Xia Lei did not move. “Go? Go where? They’re the ones who hit you, aren’t they?”
“Big Brother, let’s go. I’m begging you…” Xia Xue looked like she was going to cry again.
Xia Lei still didn’t budge. The flames of his anger burned brighter the more frightened Xia Xue was.
The seven youths came over and surrounded Xia Lei and Xia Xue in the blink of an eye.
A girl with smokey eye makeup pointed at Xia Xue and scolded, “Fuck, you little slut, what did you say? No courtesy? I’ll make sure you tell me what this ‘courtesy’ is today!”
Xia Xue hid behind Xia Lei, trembling in fear.
Xia Lei spoke up, “What’s going on? Who are you scolding ‘little slut’? Wash your dirty mouth.”
The smokey-eyed girl did not seem to have expected Xia Lei to talk back. She laughed in anger, “Hah! So you went and found yourself a helper. Oh no, what do I do? I’m so scared!”
“Hahaha…” laughed the four young men.
“Hee hee hee” laughed the other two female hooligans.
Their laughter was full of ridicule and contempt and Xia Lei’s gaze turned icy.
The smokey-eyed girl pointed at the hiding Xia Xue and said viciously, “Fuck. What does it have to do with you if I throw the sanitary pad on the ground? You dare say I have no courtesy? I’ll peel your clothes off and take a video of you, then post it all over the internet so--”
Her words were cut short by Xia Lei’s slap to her face. His angry slap turned her head around at a 90 degree angle and a tooth flew out of her mouth then stuck itself in the face of a young man.
The slap made the group stare dumbly. They had not expected this bookish-looking man to suddenly attack, and with such ferocity too!
The girl who’d been slapped was stunned, then suddenly started screaming, “What are you standing around for? Hit him! Whoever beats him into the ground will get to sleep with me tonight!”
The four young men exchanged looks and attacked all together.
Xia Lei made the youth coming from the front crouch over from pain with one kick, then struck the youth coming from behind in the face with his elbow. The youth fell to the ground, clutching at his head. Before the other two young men could react, Xia Lei twisted around and kicked one more to the ground. The remaining young man ran away.
Three out of four attackers were defeated in the blink of an eye and one ran away. The three girls were scared now. They wanted to run away but Xia Lei moved forward and blocked their way. He swung his hand and the girls squatted, screaming in fear.
At that moment, a large group of tourists gathered around, pointing at Xia Lei and the three girls and whispering.
Xia Lei was still fuming mad. “Who hit my sister?” he asked fiercely.
The other two girls looked at the smokey-eyed girl. They did not say anything but their gazes gave the answer - it was her.
“It was you?” Xia Lei looked at the smokey-eyed girl.
She replied arrogantly, “So what if it was me? If you dare beat me up I’ll tell my Big Bro. My Big Bro will bring his Brothers and take revenge for me! Just you wait!”
Xia Lei could not hold back his anger any more and kicked her in the chest. The smokey-eyed girl screamed and rolled a few times on the ground before passing out.
“She’s just a little girl. Why so heavy-handed?” said someone in the crowd.
“Yeah, even if she was wrong he should have just scolded her. This is too much, isn’t it?” said someone.
“That kick could put her in hospital for quite some time,” said someone.
“Well done. Female hooligans like her are too arrogant. Joining the underworld at such a young age… What did her parents teach her?” Some people approved of the kick.
“Yeah. Girls her age should be in school, not entering the underworld and becoming prostitutes or lovers of criminals. How can they repay their parents like that?”
The comments of the crowd entered Xia Lei’s ears and he slowly calmed down. He wouldn’t have been so brutal if it wasn’t his own sister who had been hit. Xia Xue was his treasure, the family’s little baby since she was born. His own parents couldn’t bear to scold her and he himself had never said a harsh word to her. Xia Xue had always been a good girl, so when had she ever faced this sort of humiliation? Someone hitting Xia Xue was even more unbearable than being cut with a knife!
“The police are here,” said someone suddenly.
“Go back to school, quick,” said Xia Lei to Xia Xue.
“But, Big Brother…” Xia Xue was not willing to escape on her own at this time.
Xia Lei glared at her, “You’re still a student. Don’t worry and carry on studying. Your Big Brother won’t get in trouble. Go, quick!”
Xia Xue wanted to say more but Xia Lei pushed her into the crowd.
Xia Xue left in tears.
Two policemen moved the crowd aside and walked up to Xia Lei.
The two girls squatting on the ground suddenly pointed at Xia Lei and said, “It was him! He hurt our Sister.”
“Take the injured to the hospital. You guys, come with me to the police station,” said a police officer.
The other police officer took out handcuffs, looked at Xia Lei and said rudely, “Hands out.”
Xia Lei hesitated, then held his hands out.
Click! A pair of bright silver handcuffs went around Xia Lei’s wrists.
In the crowd, a middle-aged man smiled strangely. He watched Xia Lei being taken away by the two police officers and when they were a distance away, he took out a phone from his trouser pocket...
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