Chapter 14: A Sense of Undeserved Sweetness
“A-Jiao!?” Jiang Zhengkai shouted, horrified to realize that she had suddenly stopped resisting. Crap, I didn’t smother her to death, did I?
“A-Jiao!” he cried as he gently lifted her body into his arms. He placed his hand underneath her nose, but she appeared to have stopped breathing. He then placed his fingers on her wrist, where, thankfully, he detected a faint pulse. “Wake up, A-Jiao! Don’t scare me like this!” Panic gripped his heart. Would he really have been so much of a nervous wreck like this if he didn’t have the slightest feelings for her?
“Come on, wake up! I’m sorry, okay?” He begged her as he softly stroked her cheek with his hand. Oh, right! he realized. I could try to resuscitate her by performing CPR. After a moment’s pause, he laid A-Jiao flat on the bed, and gently tilted her head back as he leaned in to breathe into her mouth.
“Ahem, ahem!” she suddenly coughed, with her eyes still closed. “Not bad, but I am going to have to charge you for the kiss.”
“Goddamn it, girl!” Jiang Zhengkai barked, scooping her up into an embrace. He looked closely at her, still uncertain. “I really thought you were gone.”
“Ahem! Ahem!” A-Jiao coughed again, welcoming his embrace. She slowly replied, “I’m okay now. I was almost a goner, but not quite. Anyway, that last apology didn’t count! You’re going to have to say it again.” With that, she opened her eyes and flashed Jiang Zhengkai a mischievous glance.
“Haha! What did you say?” Now that he was sure that A-Jiao was fine, Jiang Zhengkai naturally refused to admit he had done anything wrong at all. His only response was to softly pinch A-Jiao’s nose.
“I want to make love,” A-Jiao crisply stated.
“Sounds good to me!” Jiang Zhengkai replied, immediately reaching underneath A-Jiao’s armpits.
“Oh, stop!” she giggled. “I’m… I’m going to scream!” A-Jiao tried very hard to hold back her laughter. If the nurse heard her laughing and reported her to the hospital director, then that would be the end of her good times.
“Go ahead and scream! I’m not afraid of you,” Jiang Zhengkai answered, still busy trying to undo A-Jiao’s hospital gown.
“Help–” A-Jiao began, but she was barely able to get the word out before Jiang Zhengkai covered her mouth once again. However, this time he’d underestimated her skill. He was only able to see A-Jiao’s head moving in a blur before she caught his hand in her mouth, where she promptly bit down on it without the slightest hesitation.
“Ahh!” Jiang Zhengkai yelped in pain, trying to bite his tongue. Like A-Jiao, he was afraid of being too loud. However, as a veteran police officer, he was well trained to deal with being bitten by people like her. He quickly maneuvered his other arm underneath her armpit and deftly caught her in a headlock.
“Ugh…” A-Jiao immediately gasped for more air as she felt it being squeezed out of her body. This time, however, Jiang Zhengkai had sense enough to not keep A-Jiao in the chokehold for too long, and he quickly released her from his grip. Even so, she still writhed in pain on the bed for a short while. “Cough… I’m not playing with you anymore! You play too rough,” A-Jiao said resentfully, turning her body away from him.
“Oh? Then I’m not apologizing again,” he replied. He got up and went to lie down on the hospital room’s sofa bed. “Now go to sleep!” he ordered. It wasn’t long before the sound of his snoring filled the room.
“All men are scoundrels!” A-Jiao muttered under her breath as she glared at Jiang Zhengkai. Still, a few moments later, she got out of bed with great difficulty so she could wrap a blanket across his body. As she turned to walk back to her bed, his mouth broke into a proud smile.
By the time Jiang Zhengkai arose the next morning, A-Jiao was still sleeping soundly. It makes sense if you think about it. Given her chosen professional, A-Jiao was a nocturnal animal, so she didn’t have much energy during daytime. “Hehe, that damn girl,” Jiang Zhengkai said to himself while looking at her sleeping figure. If she weren’t a prostitute, would I have fallen in love with her? He thought to himself as he peered over her face to get a good look at her. Her breathing during deep sleep was very calm. It was clear she felt secure and at peace.
She really was a beautiful woman. Even the lack of makeup could not conceal the beauty of her face. Jiang Zhengkai bent down beside her and looked at her for quite a while. He found that what he liked most about A-Jiao’s facial features were her cute little mouth and her naturally long eyelashes. Before he got up, he did something rather unbecoming of a police officer: he leaned in and gave A-Jiao a soft kiss on the cheek. Alas, a soundly sleeping woman would not have been able to pick up on this small sign of affection.
Jiang Zhengkai left the hospital. The sunlight felt particularly warm as he happily walked down the road. When a person is in high spirits, everything feels right.
Before long, Jiang Zhengkai reached the sub-bureau and sat down at his desk. A short while later, Wei Xin walked in with a case file in hand. “Inspector Jiang, these are the documents I was able to find from our old case files pertaining to A-Xiu.”
“Oh! Great!” Jiang Zhengkai nodded approvingly, “Very good. These are very important.”
“Inspector Jiang, did that A-Jiao woman provide any useful leads?” Wei Xin asked with an expression of concern, knowing Jiang Zhengkai had spent the night at the hospital.
“Her?” Jiang Zhengkai shook her head. “No.” At this point, the only thing he could do was lie. He couldn’t very well tell her, “Sorry, I was busy flirting with a known prostitute last night, so I totally forgot about the case at hand.”
“Inspector Jiang, a lot of things in this case file are incomplete,” Wei Xin continued, not at all doubting what Jiang Zhengkai had just said. “It’s as if all of these women are part of something. But since our initial questionings of them didn’t reveal anything useful, we decided not to pursue it any further.”
“Really?” Jiang Zhengkai raised his head and looked up at her. “How come I didn’t know about these things?”
“The case originally belonged to Vice, so it wasn’t within our purview,” Wei Xin quickly answered.
“Could it be that…” An unpleasant thought flashed through Jiang Zhengkai’s mind, but he almost as quickly dismissed it. “Where did you find this case file?”
“The archive room,” Wei Xin replied.
“Excellent!” Jiang Zhengkai nodded. “Go and find as many other files pertaining to female suspects as you can. The more the better!”
“But…” Wei Xin didn’t quite understand what Jiang Zhengkai had in mind.
“Just go! You’ll understand eventually.” Jiang Zhengkai waved his hand to dismiss her.
“Yes, Inspector Jiang,” Wei Xin nodded in acknowledgement. She believed Jiang Zhengkai had assigned her this exercise because he wanted to find a lead that would crack the case. Actually, Jiang Zhengkai wasn’t interested in looking for any new leads, but just wanted to protect the old lead he already had.
At around 10 o’clock, A-Jiao awoke from her dreamy slumber. She looked over at the already empty sofa bed and felt her cheeks blushing. Could it be that she was really falling for that cop? If that really were the case, then I’ve obviously been given a nice donkey-kick upside the head. As she thought about it, a faint smile appeared on her face. She then turned over and went back to sleep.
Jiang Zhengkai stayed in his office the entire morning, intently studying A-Xiu’s case file. However, the case file was just as Wei Xin had said, full of holes and gaps. But what caused these gaps in the file? Could it be that there really was a problem over at Vice? At this point, he started to ponder. If Vice really had been compromised, then why did they cooperate in pulling back patrols of the alley? Did they want to tie up loose ends? As he was thinking out the case, another thought startled him. That woman he saw the other night: what exactly was she? Why did she suddenly appear and just as suddenly disappear? It looked as if this case had too many mysteries. The only question was, when would these mysteries be solved?
The telephone on Jiang Zhengkai’s desk rang. He picked it up. “Inspector Jiang!” he heard Zhang Nan’s voice on the other end.
“Oh, it’s you, Sergeant Zhang. What can I do for you? Did that killer switch to daylight killings or something?” Jiang Zhengkai asked half-jokingly.
“Heh, nah,” Zhang Nan replied with an awkward chuckle. “Sorry that this case has given you such a headache.”
“Hey, don’t worry about it. So what’s up?” Jiang Zhengkai could tell from Zhang Nan’s voice that he was in an extremely depressed emotional state, so he immediately stopped with the jokes. After all, the life of a police officer wasn’t an easy one, and police work required a great amount of attention to detail.
“We’ve already identified the woman who died yesterday. Her name was A-Xiu. She was a retired prostitute. Hadn’t been seen in the alley for over two years.”
“Did you know this woman?” asked Jiang Zhengkai. Hearing what Zhang Nan had just said, Jiang Zhengkai had a hunch he might just be getting some useful leads from the good sergeant.
“Ah, you could say that,” Zhang Nan hesitantly answered.
“Really? Good. I’m coming over to your office so we can discuss the case in person,” said Jiang Zhengkai before hanging up the phone. He noticed that Zhang Nan sounded as if he didn’t really want to talk about A-Xiu over the phone.
As Jiang Zhengkai walked towards the stairwell, he saw Wei Xin walking towards him holding a huge stack of case files. “Leave those on my desk,” he told her. “We need to go to the local station.”