The BMW M6 stopped along a desolate riverside. Reeds grew along the river but their leaves were withered, dead. Their existence reassured Xia Lei that he did not have to worry about being discovered.
Xia Lei got out of his car and walked through the reeds to the river. He splashed river water on his face to remove the blood from it. The river water was bone-cuttingly cold and his thoughts sharpened.
Yevgenia had asked him to meet in Dayangshan Cemetery and whoever who knew was suspect.
However, only one person could have seen the note that Yevgenia had left for him, and that was Liang Si-Yao.
Xia Lei held his head and shook it hard, muttering to himself, “It can’t be Si-Yao. It can’t be. Why would she do something like this? Long Bing suspected that she may be the spy lurking around me but she ruled her out in the end, right? It’s not her, it cannot be her…”
Was Liang Si-Yao the one who had killed Yevgenia? He wasn’t even willing to think further on this, much less believe it. He loved Liang Si-Yao deeply and was even making plans to marry her, have children with her and spend the rest of their lives together in bliss. He was willing to share everything with her - his money, his company, everything. How could Liang Si-Yao betray him in this situation?
But if it wasn’t Liang Si-Yao, then who? Who killed Yevgenia?
Xia Lei opened Yevgenia’s wallet. There were some Chinese coins in it, plus some Russian and American currency. Other than cash, there was also a hotel card and an English chip-card.
The English chip-card had ‘Temporary Pass’ printed on it. Xia Lei turned it over and two black letters, ‘AE’, were printed on the back. He did not know what this meant.
Xia Lei’s left eye locked onto the ‘AE’ letters and his left eye drew everything which had ‘AE’ on it that he had seen, sending the information flowing to his brain. He was surprised to discover that the ‘AE’ he saw was a popular piece of software on the internet, used for processing videos and graphics.
“Why would processing software for videos and graphics require a temporary pass?” Xia Lei shook his head. He’d matched the letters to some meaning but he did not think it was what he’d found. He then tried another method and used his left eye to recall the English dictionary. Words beginning with ‘A’ and ‘E’ appeared one by one in his head.
Half an hour later, Xia Lei gave up. There were just too many words beginning with these letters in the dictionary and each combination had different meanings. He had no way of solving it using just words.
Xia Lei put the hotel card and English chip-card away, then removed his jacket and trousers. He bundled them with the wallet and set them all on fire. When the clothes and wallet were incinerated, he pushed their ashes into the river and let the river water carry them away. He walked away, wearing just his briefs and socks, back to his car. He drove back to the city.
It was almost midnight when he got home. Xie Xue was long asleep. Xia Lei went straight to the television cabinet and removed the photo frame with his family picture. The glass bottle was still there and the pill sat quietly in the bottom of the bottle.
Back in his room, Xia Lei sat silent at the head of his bed, staring intently at the pill in the glass bottle. A question surfaced in his head - Do I eat this, or not?
His mobile phone suddenly rang at that moment.
Xia Lei looked at the phone screen. The caller was ‘Housekeeper’ - it was Liang Si-Yao.
Xia Lei would always be very happy when Liang Si-Yao called in the past but this time, he had an indescribable feeling. It was very strange.
He picked up the phone at the fifth ring and unlocked the phone to accept the call. “Hello? Si-Yao? You’re not asleep at this late hour?”
Liang Si-Yao’s voice came from the phone, lazy and marshmallow-soft, “I can’t sleep without you by my side. I miss you. Did you miss me?”
Xia Lei laughed, “You called just as I was about to miss you.”
“You sure know how to say the best things to please me,” Liang Si-Yao said playfully, then added, “Oh, right, did you go meet that person?”
“I did.” The strange feeling in Xia Lei’s heart grew stronger.
“I thought it was some woman, so I’m calling to investigate.”
“It was indeed a woman,” said Xia Lei.
“Huh?” Liang Si-Yao sounded surprised, “It really was a woman?”
“Don’t get it wrong, she’s…”
“A friend of my father’s.”
Liang Si-Yao was quiet for a bit before she spoke. “I’ve heard you talk about it before. Didn’t your father disappear?”
“He did. There was no news till now,” said Xia Lei.
“So what did you two talk about?”
Xia Lei thought for a bit before replying. “Something from the past. I’ll tell you but you can’t tell anyone else. Promise me. Promise me before I tell you.”
“Silly goose, who am I? I’m your woman. Your secrets are my secrets - why would I tell anyone else? Tell me and we can brainstorm together. We may even find your father’s whereabouts.”
“All right, I’ll tell you,” said Xia Lei. “She told me that there was still one pill left from the medicine my father had given me in the past. The last time they met, he told her to tell me that that pill was in a book my father used to love to read, nn, it’s ‘Journey to the West’.”
“What medicine? So mysterious?” Liang Si-Yao’s voice was full of concern, “Were you suffering from some disease?”
“I had a very weak body and I got well after my father gave me that medicine. I didn’t know that there was still one left. I don’t know what medicine it is, till today,” said Xia Lei.
“Have you found that pill?” Liang Si-Yao’s voice seemed excited.
“I have. I’m now considering whether to eat it. She told me to take it but I’m not sick. Why do I have to take it?” said Xia Lei.
“Yeah, you’re not sick. Don’t take medicine for no reason,” said Liang Si-Yao, “Wait for me, I’ll come over right now.”
“You’re coming over so late at night?”
“I know you’re a mess right now, especially since this concerns your father. I’ll come over and accompany you. Let’s talk about it and maybe we can find out your father’s whereabouts,” said Liang Si-Yao.
“Nn, come over then. Drive safe on your way here,” said Xia Lei.
“You really do love me most, Hubby.” Liang Si-Yao’s voice was joyful. She hung up.
Xia Lei sat in bed and two tears rolled silently from the corners of his eyes.
Even when he was taking care of the clothing which had been splattered by Yevgenia’s blood by the riverside, he had refused to believe that Liang Si-Yao was the one who had killed Yevgenia. He was even more reluctant to believe that she was the mysterious American spy whom Long Bing had told him about. After this phone call however, his trust in her was destroyed and his heart shattered.
Only Liang Si-Yao had known about him going to meet Yevgenia. She had seen the contents of the note and knew the time and place. She had killed Yevgenia when she had revealed her identity in the cemetery, then called him to probe and test him afterwards. Liang Si-Yao had made a mistake during their call by asking about what he and Yevgenia had talked about. She had sounded obviously excited when she heard about the remaining pill his father had hidden, and more importantly, she had not asked about Yevgenia from start to finish. She clearly knew that Yevgenia was already dead.
Xia Lei wiped his tears away. Life at the bottom for five years had moulded his strong character. He knew well what he should do and that he needed to end it.
Xia Lei got up and left his room. He took the ‘Journey to the West’ book from his father’s room, then took an anti-inflammatory amoxicillin capsule from his medicine box. He then opened up the pill his father had left behind and exchanged its contents for the amoxicillin capsule contents. Afterwards, he used a knife to cut a little pit in ‘Journey to the West’ and put the content-swapped capsule into the hole.
After doing all these, Xia Lei especially changed into his favourite black shirt and carefully straightened himself up in the mirror. He sat himself back at the head of his bed and stared blankly at the night sky outside his window. The night sky was the colour of his mood - not one ray of sunshine.
Liang Si-Yao arrived not long after, wearing dark grey Nike sportswear, the soft material highlighting her sexy curves. She was as sexy and beautiful as ever, easily evoking a man’s desire.
Liang Si-Yao’s gaze went to the open ‘Journey to the West’ on the bed as soon as she walked into Xia Lei’s room. She saw the capsule in the little pit right away and her gaze stayed on it for a full five seconds before she turned it to Xia Lei.
Xia Lei was calm. “You’re here, Si-Yao.”
Liang Si-Yao sat next to Xia Lei and reached out a hand to hold him by the waist. She spoke gently and consolingly, “Don’t worry. We’ll definitely find out where Uncle is.”
“It’s been more than five years, almost six. He hasn’t been back to see me or Xue for such a long time. How could it be so easy?” Xia Lei smiled bitterly. “You don’t have to comfort me. I’m fine. I’ve already accepted the reality of him going missing. It’s good that he can come back, of course, but I can also accept it if he doesn’t come back.”
“It’s good that you think that way. Is this the pill your father left behind?” Liang Si-Yao reached out to pick up the ‘Journey to the West’ and said, “Can I have a look?”
Xia Lei nodded. “Of course.”
Liang Si-Yao carefully tipped the capsule out of the little pit and onto her hand. Her hand shook, just a very tiny bit.
“Should I eat it?” asked Xia Lei.
Liang Si-Yao rolled her eyes at Xia Lei. “Are you stupid? Why take medicine if you’re not sick? Don’t. It helped cure you when you were sick but that was when you were sick. What do you need to eat it for when you’re all healthy now? I’ll help you throw it away. This will help you clear your thoughts about it.”
She actually did get up to throw the pill away.
Xia Lei grabbed her by the hand. “No, better not throw it away. I want to have it as a keepsake. It’s something my father left for me after all.”
“Geeze, keeping a pill as a keepsake? Fine, keep it if you want.” Liang Si-Yao closed ‘Journey to the West’ and put it at the head of the bed, then burrowed into Xia Lei’s embrace. “Darling, I’ve missed you. What should I do?” she giggled.Previous Chapter Next Chapter