Chapter 48: The Woman Beside Him
Jiang Zhengkai had no clue what was happening on TV. All his senses were concentrated on the woman in front of him. This young, beautiful, mirror image of A-Jiao lay beside his chest and quickly fell asleep. He listened to her rhythmic breathing and knew she was sleeping soundly. What he didn’t know was that she had waited a long, long time for this moment. But hadn’t he also yearned for this day to come? The only problem was, he still wasn’t completely certain the woman sleeping in his arms was his beloved A-Jiao.
That night, Jiang Zhengkai couldn’t sleep. The exhilarating scent of the woman beside him kept him up all night. He quietly turned on the nightstand lamp and spent the entire night gazing attentively at her, like he was appreciating a piece of fine art. It was a familiar face, and he had already kissed her once. Right now, he wanted to kiss that face again, but he was afraid of where it might lead… ai! Forget it. As these thoughts coursed through his mind, Jiang Zhengkai relaxed his embrace around her. At thirty-five years old, he’d rather leave those fantasies unrealized than to court drama by making them come true. But then again, he was in A-Jiao’s bed, or more accurately, Ren Ziyuan’s bed. Wasn’t that drama enough?
Meanwhile, A-Jiao had no such doubts. She loved Jiang Zhengkai, so of course she yearned to sleep in his arms. She knew he would protect her and provide her a safe haven. She was tired, truly tired, and she needed to rest on a set of broad shoulders. On this night, she didn’t care whether she was A-Jiao or Ren Ziyuan. She only knew that she wanted to be in this man’s embrace. So she slept very soundly and very peacefully.
As the sky gradually grew brighter, Jiang Zhengkai dozed off for a bit while still propped up against the headboard. Before long, A-Jiao woke from her slumber. She stretched out her body while still lying on his arm before climbing on top of Jiang Zhengkai to stare at him.
“You’re awake?” Jiang Zhengkai said as he came out of his catnap.
“Yup!” A-Jiao mischievously said to Jiang Zhengkai, propping up her face with both hands. “Looks like Brother Jiang behaved himself quite well!”
“What are you talking about?” asked Jiang Zhengkai, quite confused.
“I told you I was on my period, and you believed me?” A-Jiao said amidst giggles, “I was lying to you!”
“Hehe, damn girl! You’ll never find a husband at this rate!” Jiang Zhengkai indignantly replied.
“Can’t find a husband?” repeated A-Jiao. She got up and knelt beside him. “Oh! So you’ve slept with me, but now you don’t want to marry me?” She bent her neck and looked at him with pursed lips.
“I…” Jiang Zhengkai could come up with nothing in response. It’s true, he had slept with her, but besides sleeping, he hadn’t done anything else! However, that was not something a man could easily say, especially a man with a strong sense of personal responsibility like Jiang Zhengkai.
“Alright, alright! I was just messing with you!” A-Jiao relented while she reached over and squeezed Jiang Zhengkai’s nose. “Keep thinking about that A-Jiao of yours then!” She pushed her body up against his again. “Brother Jiang, do you really like A-Jiao that much? If… if one day you found out she had lied to you, would… would you be angry with her?”
“Never!” Jiang Zhengkai shook his head. That expression in his eyes was one of emptiness and helplessness. When a man’s eyes looked that way, it meant he wasn’t lying. Having been a prostitute for two years, A-Jiao was quite adept at reading men’s eyes. Perhaps in Jiang Zhengkai’s heart, A-Jiao truly was the most important thing in the world?
“Alright then! What do you want for breakfast? I’ll make whatever you like.” A-Jiao got up off his body and onto the floor. She acted like what Jiang Zhengkai had just said had no bearing on her life whatsoever.
“I’m fine with anything,” Jiang Zhengkai casually responded. Even though he hadn’t slept the entire night, he nevertheless felt quite energetic. On the one hand, it was because of his professional training to operate even while sleep deprived; on the other hand, it was also because he simply could not take his eyes off this young woman beside him.
“Anything? Let me see if I can find a dish called ‘anything’ in the fridge,” said A-Jiao as she ran her fingers through her hair.
Jiang Zhengkai looked at A-Jiao’s backside. He couldn’t help but wonder if she used to have long hair. Otherwise, why would she have a habit of running her fingers through her hair? As short as it was, she had no need to do so. “Ziyuan, have you always had short hair?” he asked with feigned casualness as he went about making the bed.
“Umm… yeah!” A-Jiao went momentarily blank before she replied back from the kitchen. Of course, she had no idea that her unconscious actions had already revealed the fact that she used to have long hair.
“Oh,” Jiang Zhengkai acknowledged from the bedroom, “I think you’d look really pretty with long hair!” He already knew A-Jiao was lying, but he still wanted to go a step further.
“Really?” asked A-Jiao as she bustled around in the kitchen. “Having long hair is such a hassle, but if you like it, I can grow it out for you!” She peeked her head out from the kitchen. “Tell me the truth, A-Jiao used to have long hair, didn’t she?”
“Hehe! Why does everything have to relate back to her?” asked Jiang Zhengkai with a big grin on his face. In his heart, however, he thought, That damned girl; keep acting, why don’t you? One of these days, I will expose your secret! Right now, he was increasingly certain that the woman before him was indeed A-Jiao, but he still needed to find the smoking gun that would prove his suspicions once and for all.
After breakfast, Jiang Zhengkai first sent A-Jiao to her preschool before walking alone to the sub-bureau. On the way there, his mind was filled with thoughts of Ren Ziyuan, the A-Jiao doppelganger. He was finding that Ren Ziyuan and A-Jiao had more and more in common. Based on his intuition, he was almost certain the two were one and the same.
However, there was one thing that confused him, for which he had no explanation, and that was the difference in eye color between A-Jiao and Ren Ziyuan. The colors of their irises were completely different. Perhaps he was mistaken about A-Jiao’s eye color? On this question, Jiang Zhengkai simply could not dispel the doubts he had in his heart.
As soon as Jiang Zhengkai walked into his office, Lu Xiaoqiang knocked on the door and came in. “Inspector Jiang, here’s the photo you wanted. Is the resolution high enough for you?”
“Not bad!” commended Jiang Zhengkai as he studied the photograph. He looked up at Lu Xiaoqiang. “Xiaoqiang, go take the rest of the day off.” Clearly, he was concerned that losing his sister might adversely affect Lu Xiaoqiang’s physical and emotional health.
“I’m alright,” Lu Xiaoqiang firmly shook his head. “Inspector Jiang, I hope I can help you work this case. I want to personally apprehend the scumbag who killed my sister!”
“Ai… alright,” sighed Jiang Zhengkai as he sat down at this desk. “Is the file on your computer hi-res? I want to know this A-Jiao’s eye color.”
“Oh, it is. Her eyes are black. I clearly saw them!” Lu Xiaoqiang straightforwardly replied. He quietly added, “Inspector Jiang, I hope you’re not mad at what I’m about to say, but I think your girlfriend looks a lot like that A-Jiao…”
“Is that right?” Jiang Zhengkai looked at him with approval. This young man was quite remarkable; he had a very keen sense of observation.
“Hehe! Sorry if I’m being nosy,” Lu Xiaoqiang said as he scratched his head. “But just based on the photograph, I’d say that they are practically the same person…”
“I’ve thought the same exact thing!” Jiang Zhengkai exclaimed as he leaned back in his chair. He let out a deep breath through his nose and said, “Go get me me the digital file! The color of their eyes seems to be somewhat different.”
“You got it, Inspector!” Lu Xiaoqiang made an abrupt about-face and left the office. He quickly returned with a USB drive in his hand with the picture of A-Mei and A-Jiao on it. Jiang Zhengkai plugged the USB drive into his computer, blew up the image, and carefully looked at A-Jiao’s eyes. Her irises were indeed black!
“Other than having different color eyes, they look practically identical,” Jiang Zhengkai quietly muttered as he leaned back in his chair again. He sat pensively in his chair for a while before raising his head and looking at Lu Xiaoqiang again. “You said there’s been someone wiring your family money every month for the last several months?”
“Yes, Inspector. The person used my sister’s bank account to wire the money,” Lu Xiaoqiang answered with certainty.
“Good! Follow this lead for the next couple of days!” Jiang Zhengkai said as he stared at the picture on his monitor. “Find out when and where this account was used to wire money to your family. The bank should be able to give you all of that information. If you are able to find CCTV footage, I want that as well.”
“Yes, Inspector Jiang! I’ll take care of it right away!” acknowledged Lu Xiaoqiang, before he turned around and left Jiang Zhengkai’s office.