Chapter 43: A-Meng the Bodyguard
“You really okay?” Jiang Zhengkai turned around and asked Li Hongbin once the other two police officers had left. “Do you want me to take you to the hospital?” Even though he had helped cover for A-Jiao and A-Meng when they were being questioned by the police, he himself was still a police officer as well. What he did today went against his duties as a police officer.
“No, thank you!” Li Hongbin quickly answered while clutching his cheek. “I can drive myself!” He limped his way over to his BMW and drove off. This version of Li Hongbin displayed none of the playboy spirit that the pre-beatdown Li Hongbin had shown when he was harassing A-Jiao. Unfortunately for him, he hadn’t even been able to cop a feel from her before the beating began.
After Li Hongbin left, Jiang Zhengkai looked at A-Jiao and A-Meng. Before he could even open his mouth, A-Jiao stood in between him and A-Meng, batted her charming eyelashes, and said, “Thank you, Brother Jiang! Thank you for helping us out back there!”
“Don’t worry about it.” Jiang Zhengkai shook his head but also carefully looked over A-Meng. This was an unusually aggressive young man, and his close combat skills were nearly equal to that of the Bald Wolf. Jiang Zhengkai felt his heart skip a beat at the thought. Why did he suddenly think of the Bald Wolf? Then he realized it was because he noticed the combat boots on A-Meng’s feet. That type of combat boots was issued exclusively to member of the Chinese special forces. It appeared that this man, just like the Bald Wolf, was a veteran of the People’s Liberation Army.
“Thank you, Brother Jiang.” Although A-Meng was aggressive, he wasn’t rude. Otherwise, A-Tao wouldn’t have sent him to secretly protect A-Jiao.
“I believe we’ve met before.” Jiang Zhengkai focused on A-Meng’s face and then asked with a grin, “The other day at the police cemetery, it was you who accompanied Miss Ren, right?”
“Yeah, that’s right!” A-Jiao stepped in and vigorously nodded her head, clearly not wanting A-Meng to say too much. She didn’t want him to slip up and reveal to Jiang Zhengkai her true identity. “Brother Jiang here is a task force captain! What do you think, pretty cool, huh?” As A-Jiao spoke, she looked at A-Meng with a seemingly proud expression, but she also signalled with her eyes that he shouldn’t do anything brash.
“Yeah, very cool!” A-Meng caught A-Jiao’s signal and immediately continued the conversation along her line of thought. “So… are you going back home now… little sister?” A-Meng was used to calling A-Jiao “A-Jiao” or “Sister Jiao,” but he was an extremely sharp individual. Since Jiang Zhengkai had called A-Jiao “Miss Ren,” he had a hunch that calling her “A-Jiao” might not be a smart move. The familiar words were literally on the tip of his tongue, and yet he still caught himself and said something else. If one were speaking strictly of age, it was true that A-Meng really was probably a few years older than her. However, since it was A-Tao who always addressed A-Jiao as his “little sister,” everyone else normally called her “Sister Jiao” or “big sister” out of deference to A-Tao.
“Not yet, Brother Meng. I want to hang out for a bit while longer, so why don’t you go back first? Brother Jiang can send me back home later.” A-Jiao cocked her head and put her hands behind her back.
“Alright then! You guys go on ahead, I’ll head back now,” said A-Meng. Before Jiang Zhengkai and A-Jiao even had a chance to respond, A-Meng already took off running.
“Shall we, Brother Jiang?” After A-Meng had left, A-Jiao immediately returned to her refined persona. Her face was slightly red as she carefully looked at Jiang Zhengkai.
“Oh, okay,” Jiang Zhengkai replied. His head was spinning right now. This A-Meng fellow’s martial arts technique was on par with that of the Bald Wolf. What was his relationship with the Bald Wolf? He’d also gone with Ren Ziyuan to the cemetery, so did he also have a connection with that burnt corpse? As a career police officer, Jiang Zhengkai couldn’t help but think of these questions.
“What are you thinking about? Let’s go already!” A-Jiao said as she gently placed her hand on Jiang Zhengkai’s shoulder. Even before A-Jiao became a prostitute, she hadn’t been a shy girl. She was willing to do whatever was necessary on her part in pursuing her happiness.
“Oh, Miss Ren…” Jiang Zhengkai wasn’t as emotionally liberal as A-Jiao. Inside his heart was only A-Jiao, not Ren Ziyuan, and right now he could only perceive the A-Jiao standing before him as that young woman named Ren Ziyuan.
“Hmph! You don’t want me to touch you, huh?” Seeing Jiang Zhengkai’s facial expression, A-Jiao said in feigned anger, “You’d let me touch you if I were A-Jiao, right?” Actually, she couldn’t describe in words how happy she was to see him like this.
“Hehe, yeah.” When it came to love, Jiang Zhengkai was direct and had a one-track mind. One couldn’t believe that he would actually respond affirmatively to A-Jiao’s question. If Ren Ziyuan weren’t A-Jiao, she would be very jealous or angry right now. Despite all of his years as a detective, however, he still didn’t have a clue about women.
“Fine! Fine! I’m just a rebound,” complained A-Jiao as she removed her hand from his arm. “Brother Jiang, could you tell me more about that special person in your heart, A-Jiao?” Her face was full of expectation as she asked that question. Women are curious creatures, especially when it comes to their love rivals, even if that rival was herself.
“Well…” Jiang Zhengkai’s face displayed a slight hint of embarrassment. Even though he loved A-Jiao, to admit to another woman that A-Jiao was a prostitute was simply something that he could not bring himself to do.
“Oh, are you uncomfortable talking about her?” Seeing Jiang Zhengkai’s expression, she was somewhat disappointed. She knew he must have thought her profession was too unseemly to be discussed in polite conversation, but what could she do about that?
“Why don’t we talk about you instead?” Jiang Zhengkai saw the disappointment in A-Jiao’s eyes, but he didn’t correctly guess why. He thought Ren Ziyuan was mad at him because he didn’t want to share A-Jiao’s story.
“What is there to talk about?” A-Jiao lowered her head and answered with pursed lips. “I studied art in college, but dropped out after two years. When it came time to graduate, I spent some money and bought a degree online. Then I became a preschool teacher.” Even though she spoke quite softly, Jiang Zhengkai was still able to hear her clearly. But that sharp brain of his didn’t think to ask her what she was doing during those two years after she dropped out of college and before she became a preschool teacher. He’d only asked her to tell him about herself because he didn’t want to talk about A-Jiao. In his eyes, the woman in front of him was Ren Ziyuan, not A-Jiao. What did it matter to him that Ren Ziyuan dropped out of college after two years?
“Oh, I’ve heard you are really good at drawing!” Jiang Zhengkai continued on with this subject. Ren Ziyuan teaches art and studied art, so she must know how to draw, right?
“Eh, I’m not too bad.” Apparently, Jiang Zhengkai’s comment on her drawing skills worked in cheering her up. Art was in fact something she could show off for him. She ran right in front of him, grabbed his arm, and asked, “You want to come see my art studio someday?”
“Sure!” Jiang Zhengkai eagerly replied. “I’ve always admired artists, and I love the art of painting.” What he said was true. He very much respected his colleagues in the material evidence section who were able to sketch out a suspect’s portrait based only on the descriptions of eyewitnesses. However, this wasn’t the only reason why Jiang Zhengkai carried on this conversation. He saw that A-Jiao was in a much better mood, and he knew that when people were in a good mood, they tended to lower their guard. So it was now that he popped the real question that he wanted to ask. “You and A-Meng seem to know one another very well. He used to be a soldier, right?”
“Eh, kind of. We met at the internet cafe,” A-Jiao blurted out. “He did used to be a soldier. I heard he was in the special forces. When he was in the army, he even had a codename. I think it was Raptor.”
“Really?” Jiang Zhengkai purposely feigned surprise. “I saw his moves when he was beating that man just now. He learned all of that in the army, huh?”
“How would I know? I’ve never been a soldier,” A-Jiao said as she playfully walked on the curb. A woman will almost always show a man she loves her childish side, but it was precisely during these moments that a woman’s defenses against a man were at their weakest.
“Then have you heard of a man called the Bald Wolf before? They say he was also ex-special forces. A real tough guy,” Jiang Zhengkai purposely said in a very casual manner. He wanted to observe A-Jiao’s reaction, and she did not disappoint!
After A-Jiao heard what he said, she was momentarily stunned. However, she very quickly regained her composure and said, “Never heard of him. Do you know him?”
Even though A-Jiao verbally denied knowledge of the Bald Wolf, her knees belied her true thoughts. She immediately lost balance walking on the curb, and she fell silent as well. It was obvious she’d realized something, which is why she was readjusting her mentality to conceal what she knew.
A-Jiao’s sudden change in behavior did not go unnoticed by Jiang Zhengkai. He now had a reason to continue seeing Ren Ziyuan: she must have a lead on the Bald Wolf. Therefore, the path to apprehending the Bald Wolf began with this woman.