The dog outside would not bark if it were Park Jinyong returning so its barking made Xia Lei and Liang Si-Yao tense up. They were not average people and any disturbance was sure to put them on the alert. Their lines of sight went to the door at almost the same time.
“You stay here. I’ll go take a look.” Liang Si-Yao walked to the door, gun in hand.
Xia Lei had already looked through the wall of the shack and seen the situation outside. He saw Park Jinyong, and the woman behind him with a gun pointed at him. It was Long Bing.
Long Bing had her gun to Park Jinyong’s head and the sight of it startled Xia Lei. He got to his feet hurriedly and pulled Liang Si-Yao by the hand. “Leave now!”
“And you?” Liang Si-Yao looked at Xia Lei in surprise, while also feeling nervous at Xia Lei’s reaction.
“I have no time to explain. Leave, quickly, or you won’t be able to leave!” Xia Lei was almost in a panic.
If Long Bing came in then one of two things would happen - she would either kill Liang Si-Yao or be killed by Liang Si-Yao. He was unwilling to accept the death of either woman. What made it more difficult for him was if the two women started a gunfight with him in the middle, who was he supposed to help?
Liang Si-Yao was an intelligent woman and she quickly guessed that something was up. She asked investigatively, “Is it Bureau 101? Long Bing?”
Xia Lei nodded, his gaze fixed on the wall of the shack.
Outside the shack, Long Bing had Park Jinyong in a hold and they’d entered the yard.
The dog dashed forward. Long Bing moved with the recoil as her gun with the silencer on jerked. Blood bloomed on the big dog’s head and it fell to the ground.
Park Jinyong made to escape but Long Bing’s gun was pressed to the back of his head again before he could move.
The sound made by the silenced gun was very small but Liang Si-Yao still knew what had happened outside. She was not willing to believe that Long Bing had chased them all the way here, however, and she stared straight at Xia Lei. “How’s she here?”
“I don’t know. Stop asking, go!” Xia Lei urged her to leave by pushing her towards the back door of the shack.
Liang Si-Yao smiled. “You care about me.”
Xia Lei was angry and lost himself a little. He swung his arm and spanked her on her perky butt. “Go!”
This spank was more effective than a hundred words. Liang Si-Yao suddenly drew close and kissed Xia Lei, then opened the back door and disappeared into the night.
Xia Lei stared blankly for a bit before he came back to his senses. He didn’t know why he had spanked her. Perhaps it was habit. He used to spank that luscious butt often but she was still his girlfriend then, unlike now. However, he had no time to delay. He closed the back door and walked towards the front door.
“Don’t be hasty. We’re not enemies.” Park Jinyong was still trying to explain things to Long Bing behind the door.
Long Bing spoke in a low voice. “Open the door.”
Xia Lei opened the door as soon as she was done speaking.
Long Bing had her gun aimed at Xia Lei the moment he opened the door. She moved the muzzle back to Park Jinyong’s head when she saw that it was Xia Lei, and observed the insides of the shack out of the corners of her eyes.
“Put the gun away. He saved me. He’s not an enemy,” said Xia Lei.
“He saved you?” Long Bing was suspicious but she released Park Jinyong.
“Yeah, I paid him.” Xia Lei couldn’t think of any other explanation.
Long Bing entered the shack and scanned the insides alertly. Women liked clean, comfortable spaces; she had this in common with Liang Si-Yao. Park Jinyong’s dwellings were dirty and smelly and she did not want to stay here a minute more than necessary. She backed out of the shack after confirming that there was no hidden commander in there. “Let’s go.”
Park Jinyong glanced at Xia Lei but didn’t say anything. He had probably guessed at something - not where Liang Si-Yao had gone, but at the relationship between Xia Lei, Liang Si-Yao and Long Bing. He had no real answers, however.
Xia Lei followed Long Bing deeper into the slums. The route she had chosen was without lights and it was all dark. They ran into drunkards sleeping on the ground once in a while, or sex-crazed couples being intimate by the side of the road; it was awkward to witness.
“How did you find me?” asked Xia Lei after getting a distance from Park Jinyong’s shack.
“Remember the meal we had together before we set out?” said Long Bing.
Xia Lei found it strange that she was talking about eating but he replied with, “Nn, yes. You said it was a feast for graduation.”
“And do you remember me giving you a bowl of porridge?”
“Why are you talking about porridge now? If you’re not telling me then forget it.”
“I’m telling you right now, aren’t I? That bowl of porridge had a tracker in it. It’s not GPS. It’s our Beidou tracker. I can find you but the CIA can’t,” said Long Bing.
Xia Lei stared blankly. “You… In my stomach…”
“Your status is rather special - one of our country’s special talents. We’re also relying on you to go to Afghanistan to rescue Tang Yu-Yan and those experts so you cannot be lost. I put a tracker in your stomach so we can rescue you even if you get captured. This is a measure which can’t be helped. You weren’t told of this before because we didn’t want you to get distracted.”
Xia Lei laughed self-mockingly. “So you’re giving me preferential treatment?”
“Don’t get huffy. This is all for the benefit of the country.” Long Bing rolled her eyes at Xia Lei. “It’s not just you. I have it too, and Tang Bo-Chuan as well. Your friend doesn’t have it. I’d have thrown him in prison for ten years if it weren’t for consideration for you.”
“Don’t… Let’s talk about something else.” Xia Lei regretted letting Qin Xiang steal those extra artifacts now. He wasn’t allowed to sell them so having them in his possession was like holding onto a ticking time bomb.
“Sure, let’s talk about something else. We’ve got a long road ahead anyway,” said Long Bing. “How about we chat about Liang Si-Yao.”
Xia Lei paused. His felt a headache coming on. Had Long Bing discovered Liang Si-Yao’s traces?
“What, not willing to talk?”
“You… Why bring her up all of a sudden?” Xia Lei bit the bullet and said, “You know that I don’t want to talk about her again.”
Long Bing suddenly stopped in her tracks and looked straight at Xia Lei.
Her stare made Xia Lei feel guilty. “What’re you doing?”
Long Bing dipped her chin. “You’re smart. Smarter than all the people I’ve met. But you made a huge mistake and that was to date Liang Si-Yao. Did you think that I won’t find out her true identity? She left China all of a sudden and her father, Liang Zheng-Chun also left China for America. This is not a coincidence. My intuition has always been spot-on and I felt that something must be wrong. I investigated Liang Si-Yao thoroughly, and looked into everything about her. Guess what I found?”
Xia Lei had no way to explain it. His head buzzed so loudly it could not function normally anymore.
“Will you tell me or should I say it?” Long Bing’s gaze was investigative.
Say it himself? Xia Lei could not accept the fact that Liang Si-Yao had wanted something from him. If Long Bing said it herself, then he could come under suspicion and lose her trust. What should he choose? This was a dilemma.
The atmosphere between the two turned heavy and awkward.
But this short silence lent Xia Lei’s mind some time to organise itself. Once his mind calmed, his thought processes ran at full speed. His brain sent his left eye a command in no time and it twitched. The clothing covering Long Bing’s chest disappeared and a pair of high, snowy mounds were revealed. These snowy mounds ‘melted away’ rapidly like snow under sunlight, revealing the heart underneath.
Long Bing’s heart rate was low, less than ten beats in ten seconds. A woman’s heart rate was 60 to 70 beats per minute under normal circumstances, and faster when she exercised, was excited or angry. Her heart rate now was a match for sleep.
A sleeping heart rate when she was awake - what did this mean? This meant that she was deliberately controlling her heart rate to make herself appear calm.
She would definitely be angry if she knew Liang Si-Yao’s identity. She would have looked calm on the surface but not be able to extinguish her feelings, and this would surely affect her heart rate.
She had no signs of anger; she was just suspicious and trying to feel him out!
Xia Lei finished his observation of Long Bing in 30 seconds and let out a quiet sigh of relief. A small smile appeared on his face. “I’d like to understand this woman too. We were together for a few months; not long, not short. But I don’t really know her, especially her past. She never spoke of it to me and I only know that she studied in America. If you know something and are willing to tell me, then tell me. I’m not that interested anyway; we’ve already broken up.”
He could distance himself from the relationship in the future if Long Bing did find something later.
“You’re really not going to talk?”
Xia Lei shrugged. “I’ve told you all I could. How am I going to tell you things I don’t know? Hey, when did you become such a nosey old grandma?”
The corners of Long Bing’s lips turned downwards slightly and she turned around to walk down the alley. “Forget it. Let’s not talk about that woman. Come on.”
Xia Lei saw a container truck with the Korean words ‘Sunshine Seafood’ on its side when they came out of the alley. Then he saw Tang Bo-Chuan in the driver’s seat. That guy was already in standard blue-collar attire and a thick, black moustache perched above his lips.
Tang Bo-Chuan alighted before Long Bing and Xia Lei got close. He opened the door to the container section of the truck and gestured for Long Bing and Xia Lei to get in.
Xia Lei climbed into the container. There actually were many boxes of sea-produce in the container, like halibut and squid frozen in ice. There was a strong fishy smell.
Long Bing climbed in too and she reached out to open an underfloor compartment two metres long by one metre deep. There were old clothes and the like in the space and it looked like a coffin.
Xia Lei understood that this was his hiding place. However, Long Bing climbed in before he did and took the most comfortable position.
“No way. You’re going to hide too?” Xia Lei felt a small headache coming. A small space like this was suitable for one person to hide in but too cramped for two.
“There’s also a vehicle transporting slop. Want to ride in that one?” said Tang Bo-Chuan with a smile.
Xia Lei looked wordlessly at Tang Bo-Chuan, then braced himself and entered the compartment.
Tang Bo-Chuan climbed into the container too and closed the compartment, then put boxes of sea-produce on top.
Two minutes later, the container truck started its engines and moved forward. Barely five metres in, the tyres went over a stone and the two people in the hidden compartment were thrown together, face to face, chest to chest, leg to leg, stuck together like glue.
“Don’t have any dirty thoughts or my gun will go off,” said Long Bing in Xia Lei’s ear.
Just then, the container truck went violently over a bump and Xia Lei’s lips were suddenly and uncontrollably stuck to Long Bing’s cherry lips…Previous Chapter Next Chapter