Xia Lei put the pyjamas Liu Ying gave him on the bedside cabinet. He did not want to wear something her husband had left behind. He wrapped himself up, still fully-clothed, and lay on the bed for a while but could not fall asleep.
‘I got the big order from Nice Moves Sports Equipment Company but… Thunder Horse Workshop would not be able to meet the supply demand based on our current capabilities if the automatic surfboard becomes a hot-seller after it’s launched. If I outsource some of it, there cannot be any guarantee for the quality. Looks like I’ll have to get more equipment and manpower. A machine shop is definitely not on the same level when working with a company. I’ll have to register ourselves as a company, look for a bigger space…’ Thoughts like these swirled in Xia Lei’s head, making him worried and excited at the same time.
Click. A soft sound suddenly reached Xia Lei’s ears. He automatically lifted his head and looked up at the window; his room window was half-open. The night sky was dotted with stars, shining brightly in a deep, dark blue background. There was no wind, the curtains were still and it seemed peaceful. However, the sound he had heard had definitely come from outside his window, as if something had moved it. There was no wind so what could have moved the window?
Xia Lei got up from bed and his eye twitched. The wall before him disappeared in an instant. There was nothing beyond the wall - no naughty cat, no mouse, nothing. He moved his X-ray view to the next wall and it disappeared as well, revealing the scene beyond it.
In the neighbouring room was Liu Ying, sleeping on her bed. She didn’t seem to have the habit of sleeping in pyjamas; she had just a set of purple lace underwear on. Her bosom was pushed high and was on the cusp of spilling out of the fabric, making for a hot, desire-inducing visual. Down below, the lace persisted in keeping important parts concealed. The contours of her body were faintly visible, alluring and fantasy-inspiring. Her sleeping posture was elegant yet quietly so.
Xia Lei gaze turned away from Liu Ying’s body and swept over the rest of the room, then suddenly went back and stopped on her bedside.
A person was lying belly-down on the floor!
Tight-fitting black clothes blended in with the darkness of the room. If it were not for Xia Lei’s eye, which could catch the tiny changes in light, he would not have spotted that person!
The black-clad person lay quietly on the carpet by the bed and the person’s bottom, high in the air was coincidentally facing Xia Lei’s direction. The bum was full and round, making the waist look even slimmer and softer. This body shape was telling of the black-clad person’s gender - it was a female thief.
THe sound he had heard earlier must have been made by this tight-fitting-black-clothes-wearing female thief, no question about it. She had pried open Liu Ying’s bedroom window and sneaked into her room. She had probably laid herself flat on the floor because Liu Ying had moved or mumbled something in her sleep and startled her.
Liu Ying made no sign of waking up and the female thief got to her feet cautiously. A black scarf covered her face but this was no obstacle to Xia Lei and he saw her face right away. She was young - oval-shaped face, big eyes, small mouth. Quite pretty. However, her chest was flat. This seemed to be the only flaw on her body.
The female thief tiptoed quietly and carefully to the large wardrobe in the corner of the room.
When he saw that, Xia Lei knew what she was after right away. He got up from his own bed and rushed out barefoot without bothering to put on his shoes.
Xia Lei charged to Liu Ying’s room in the blink of an eye. He grasped the door handle and turned but found that it had been locked. He tried to slam into it with his shoulder but the door held solidly, blocking his way.
In the room, Liu Ying was startled awake by the loud noises. She shot out of bed and looked nervously at the door. “Who is it?”
“It’s me! Xia Lei!”
“Wha… What are you doing?” Liu Ying automatically reached for the clothing she had left on her bedside cabinet and held them in front of her chest, as though Xia Lei would burst through the door any moment and do something to her.
“There’s a thief in your room!” Xia Lei shouted anxiously.
“Are you playing some sort of prank-” before Liu Ying could finished her sentence, a sharp knife flashed past her shoulder and pressed itself to her neck. Her voice was suddenly cut off and she tensed, not daring to move.
“Tell him the thief ran away,” said the female thief quietly in Liu Ying’s ear.
Cold sweat beaded on Liu Ying’s forehead. She spoke in a quivering voice, “What… What do you want?”
“Say it or I’ll slit your throat!” The female thief’s voice was a little hoarse and a little in-between; it was a strange voice.
Xia Lei’s voice came from beyond the door, “Don’t be afraid, I’ll save you right away!”
“Say it!” The female thief put more pressure on the knife and the blade cut Liu Ying’s skin. A small trickle of blood came from the cut.
Liu Ying’s could not think any more. Her voice trembled, “The, the… the thief is gone!”
If it were anyone else, he or she would have run downstairs right away to give chase but the one the female thief was trying to fool was Xia Lei. She did not know that whatever she did had not escaped Xia Lei’s eyes!
Xia Lei took two steps back, then charged and went for the door with his leg extended in a kick.
Bang! The door still stood but Xia Lei was thrown backwards and onto the floor by the backlash.
Rich people had sturdy doors indeed. Xia Lei felt so depressed he could bash his head against the wall.
In the room, the female thief pulled Liu Ying out of bed and dragged her by the hair to the large wardrobe. She spoke fiercely, “Open the safe! Quick, or I’ll kill you!”
“What… What do you want?” Liu Ying was terrified but she did not do as ordered. She knew better than anyone how important the thing in the safe was. It was her husband’s life’s work!
“Think of your son. You want him to become an orphan?” The female thief pressed the knife to Liu Ying’s neck again.
“You… Who are you exactly?”
The female thief suddenly made a cut on Liu Ying’s neck and growled viciously, “Hurry up! I’ll give you one chance!”
Blood and pain, coupled with worry for her son crumbled Liu Ying’s mental strength. She trembled as she twisted the wardrobe handle and it moved aside, revealing the door of the safe.
Beyond the door, Xia Lei charged at the door again, leading with his shoulder. This time, the door panels and frame shook; they were almost broken.
“Hurry!” The female thief was getting nervous.
Liu Ying reached out and entered the password. The door of the safe was open.
The female thief pushed Liu Ying to the ground and grabbed the briefcase in the safe.
Crash! The door flew open suddenly. Xia Lei burst through the doorframe and sprawled on the floor.
The female thief turned to flee. She ran to the window, bounded through it and jumped down.
Xia Lei didn’t give it a second thought. He got up and gave chase. He, too, went through the window and jumped into the flowerbed below. The fauna and soil in the flowerbed acted as a shock absorber but the inertia and gravity still made his fall a bad one.
The female thief got up from the ground and started running towards a tall fence.
Xia Lei pulled himself to his feet and gave chase as if possessed.
Liu Ying poked her head out from the second storey and caught sight of the fleeing female thief and barefoot Xia Lei giving chase. Her tears poured as she screamed, “Catch her! Catch her!”
The female thief got to the tall fence enclosing the neighbourhood in the blink of an eye. She did not slow but used the momentum of inertia to jump and catch the top of the fence. She grabbed hold with two hands and vaulted over nimbly.
Xia Lei did not have her nimbleness but the fence was not over two metres tall. He caught the top of the fence and used his hands and feet to quickly scale it and go over.
“Shit!” The female thief cursed, then ran again.
“Stop!” Xia Lei roared as he chased her. His feet had been pierced by the branches when he’d landed in the flowerbed and fresh blood oozed from the soles of his feet as he ran, leaving a trail of bloody footprints. Every step brought core-piercing pain but he gritted his teeth and held on.
This persistence was partly due to justice, partly sympathy for Liu Ying, who had inherited her husband’s hard work and legacy, and his own concerns - if this thief sold the design plans for the automatic surfboard to Nice Moves Sports Equipment Company’s rival, won’t the contract he worked so hard to obtain go up in smoke? He had to get it back!
The streets were empty in the wee hours. The two of them ran - one being pursued and the other pursuing.
The female thief was flexible but not fast. She was unable to shake Xia Lei off her tail. Six to seven minutes later, she seemed to lose stamina and her speed slowed significantly. She did not know it but Xia Lei was running on willpower alone at that point and could collapse at any moment.
“Damn!” The female thief cursed and turned into an alley. She wanted to use the darkness of the alleyway to get rid of Xia Lei.
Xia Lei pursued the thief and also entered the alley. It had no streetlamps, there were high walls on either side and it was very dark. However, he could still see everything in the alley, clear as day, including the female thief running away at full speed.
200 metres in, a three-storey high building blocked the way. It had appeared in a rude and unreasonable way at the end of the alley; it was obviously an illegal construction.
“Fuck! Who made their house like this? Argh!” The female thief stopped in her tracks and screamed as if she had gone mad.
Xia Lei stopped too and he put his hands on his knees as he gasped for air.
The female thief spun around and glared coldly at Xia Lei. She was out of breath too and when she caught her breath, she pointed at Xia Lei and scolded him, “You retard! Are you sick in the head? What does me stealing someone’s stuff got to do with you? What do you want to accomplish by chasing me so madly?”
Xia Lei had caught his breath too. He stood straight, and advanced slowly on the female thief, “Return the thing you stole to me and I’ll let you go. I’ll do what I promised.”
“Let me go? Such big words!” The female thief reached for her knife and felt around for a bit before she discovered that she had lost it somewhere along the way.
Xia Lei raised his voice, “Give it back!”
“Looks like you’re not giving up. You’ll regret this.” As the female thief spoke, she rotated her neck, shrugged her shoulders and raised each leg, as if she were doing warm-up exercises.
Xia Lei glared at her warily, on guard against her suddenly slipping away or trying to attack him. His gaze landed on her throat and he saw that she actually had an Adam’s apple!
An Adam’s apple is a prominent feature of males and females cannot have it.
Xia Lei’s line of vision went to the female thief’s chest. He used his X-ray sight and was immediately disgusted - after so much fuss, this person was a man!
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