Xia Lei looked back at the van parked by the side of the road as he drove through the gates of the small neighbourhood. He saw two people from Bureau 101 sitting in that van. ‘Would that killer have simply come here to hurt us if the people from Bureau 101 were not here? How do I defend against him if he does come here?’ Xia Lei was struck by a thought.
A sense of danger loomed over Xia Lei. He knew too little about that killer and this subdued him.
His home was quiet; no lights were on. Annina seemed to have gone to bed.
“Get some rest, Brother,” said Xia Xue.
“You go to sleep. I’d like to sit by myself for a bit and think about stuff,” said Xia Lei.
“I’ll be going to bed then. Don’t stay up too late.” Xia Xue went into her room.
Xia Lei sat on the sofa for a few minutes, then looked for a piece of paper and a pen. He drew as he recalled the killer’s face. However, he had not taken any professional profile-drawing classes and had only the basics from his school days when he had art lessons. His drawing did not look like the image in his head. The killer looked like Chang Chen*, a cold and grim looking man, but what he had on paper looked like Huang Bo*.
‘Shit. If the police based an arrest off my standard of drawing then Huang Bo would probably end up lying on the floor with a gun aimed at him.’ Xia Lei could not help shaking his head and smiling wryly at his own drawing before giving up. He decided to take up drawing when he next had the time for it.
Xia Lei threw the drawing into the bin and walked to his room. He pushed open the door and a faint fragrance plumed into his nose. It was a woman’s smell. He then saw the woman under the blankets - Annina.
He then realised that he had let Annina have his room and he should have gone to his father’s room to sleep. He hesitated. Should he get in bed and sleep with Annina or go to his father’s room to sleep? The former was a most tempting choice and just as he thought of it, Annina suddenly opened her eyes and threw the blankets open. A large pair of blue eyes stared at him as he stood in the doorway.
Annina wasn’t in childish pyjamas this time. She was wearing a man’s shirt.
Xia Lei felt his throat go dry.
The next morning.
“Take care of yourself, Brother.” Xia Xue stuck her head out the car window, her eyes full of worry.
Xia Lei nodded.
“Lei, I’ll miss you.” Annina poked her head out too and blew a kiss at Xia Lei.
Xia Lei gave her a smile.
What sort of relationship did he have with Annina?
He’d thought of it several times but did not have a clear answer. His feelings for Annina did not go as deeply as his feelings for Liang Siyao had, and even if he had feelings, it was just good vibes and desire, and not very strong either. Annina knew it too but it didn’t seem to affect her. He also felt relaxed and comfortable around her. What relationship they had was not important but if he took her as a lover, she would definitely be the most perfect lover.
‘Lover? Why did I think of that word? Doesn’t lover usually mean a third party? Does this mean I still think of Liang Siyao as my girlfriend or fiancée in my subconscious? Where is she now and what is she doing?’ Xia Lei's heart ached with loss at the sudden thought of Liang Siyao.
Xia Lei drove to Thunder Horse Manufacturing in half an hour.
It was the third day of the Spring Festival and most of the employees were on holiday. The factory had just a few workers working overtime. Xia Lei went round the workshops and talked to the workers working overtime, then returned to his office. He took out a pencil and a piece of paper and tried drawing the killer again.
He did consider calling Jiang Ruyi over to help him do the drawing since she was good at it but he thought of their current awkward relationship and gave up on that idea.
Qin Xiang appeared in the doorway of his office after a while and said as soon as he walked in, “I heard Lu Sheng got stabbed. Who did it?”
Xia Lei put his pencil down and handed an A4 paper to Qin Xiang.
Qin Xiang took one look at it and paused, then said in surprise, “Zhao Benshan*?”
Xia Lei looked surprised too. “What I drew looks like Zhao Benshan?”
Qin Xiang smirked and handed the drawing back to Xia Lei. “I was wrong. You drew Huang Bo.”
Xia Lei was at a loss for words. He’d actually thought that he’d drawn rather well this time and had improved but from Qin Xiang’s reaction, he was obviously mocking his drawing skills.
“Why didn’t you tell me something so serious?” Qin Xiang looked displeased.
“I wanted to get a profile drawing before I went to look for you. You know some things about the Gu clan so maybe you’d recognise the killer. Looks like I failed, though,” said Xia Lei.
“Really, you…” Qin Xiang looked a little troubled. “When did you become an artist? You should get a professional to help for something like this. Don’t you know a policewoman? Jiang Ru-Yi? Get her to help.”
Xia Lei shook his head. “Forget it, I’ll settle this myself. She will end up in trouble if I drag her into it and it could be dangerous too.”
Qin Xiang laughed. “You mean it’s not easy to deal with your relationship, right? You stinking men… Think I don’t know what’s going on in your minds?”
Xia Lei looked at Qin Xiang oddly. Wasn’t he a man too? What man scolded another ‘a stinking man’?
“Say it. What do you want me to do?”
“I’ll tell you my decision first. I’ve decided that your salary will be increased to 200,000 a month from this month on,” said Xia Lei.
“Huh.” Qin Xiang was tongue-tied.
Xia Lei laughed and said, “I can lower the amount if you think it’s too much.”
Qin Xiang rolled his eyes at him. “I’m not stupid. Who on Earth would complain about his salary being too high?” He smiled again. “Thank you. My mother’s medical bills require a lot of money. I can get her better care with the high salary.”
“What’s with the formalities? What I have is yours too. If I get rich in the future I can even give you a monthly salary of two million, no problem,” said Xia Lei.
“Holy shit. I’ll remember that.” Qin Xiang’s eyes shone as he looked at Xia Lei.
Xia Lei grinned. “Let’s talk about that killer. I suspect he’s the Gu clan’s man. Who else do you know other than Dong Wu and Qin Qi? The very skilled ones.”
Qin Xiang thought for a bit, but shook his head. “You know, I’m not the Gu clan’s man. I only heard bits and pieces here and there when I worked for Huang Yihu. The person who appeared this time can stab Lu Sheng and escape unscathed - I’ve not heard of anyone so strong.”
Xia Lei frowned. “What identity does that person have within the Gu clan? What a headache.”
“We’re out in the open while he operates in the shadows - this is a pickle. We have to think of a way to lure him out, or else we’ll have to be passive,” said Qin Xiang.
“Lure him out?” Xia Lei was struck by a thought. “Your suggestion gave me an idea.”
Qin Xiang looked at Xia Lei. “What do you plan to do?”
“His target is me. I’ll give him a chance to take action. We’ll hold a banquet and invite the movers and shakers of Haizhu City. Gu Kewu and Gu Kewen too. The killer will have plenty of chances in that setting; he’ll turn up for sure,” said Xia Lei.
“And if he doesn’t?”
“Then I’ll dig out his identity from Gu Kewu or Gu Kewen. Don’t forget that I haven’t tested the skills you taught me on anyone yet. This will be a good opportunity to test them.”
“The idea’s good,” said Qin Xiang, “But I think Gu Kewen and Gu Kewu won’t come to your banquet. That killer will be able to guess that it’s a trap and won’t turn up.”
Xia Lei smiled. “Of course they won’t attend mine - but there is one person’s banquet that they’ll attend, no matter what.”
Qin Xiang seemed to have thought of someone. “You mean…”
Xia Lei had already taken out his phone and dialled a number. “Hello? Tianyin?”
Shentu Tianyin’s voice came from the phone. “Yes, it’s me. What is it?”
“I’d like to invite you out for a coffee. Do you have time?” said Xia Lei.
Shentu Tianyin laughed. “Of course. Where shall we meet?”
“How about Tuberose Coffee Shop? It’s quite nice. Wait for me, I’ll pick you up and also come visit Uncle at the same time,” said Xia Lei.
“Nn, I’ll wait for you at home.” Shentu Tianyin was happy - this was the first time Xia Lei had asked her out for a coffee.
After ending the call with Xia Lei, Shentu Tianyin went hurriedly to her room.
Fu Mingmei was pushing Shentu Ren in his wheelchair and she asked her curiously, “Where are you going, Big Sister Tian-Yin?”
“To change.” Shentu Tianyin did not even look back.
Fu Mingmei smirked. “That punk must be coming.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter