Chapter 91: The Missing Evidence
The young man took Cui Jing into a rented apartment, where he casually laid her down on his bed. He then sat in his chair and looked out the window. From this spot, he had an excellent view of the preschool where Cui Jing and A-Jiao worked.
Needless to say, the man was A-Meng, A-Tao’s brother-in-arms and A-Jiao’s shadow bodyguard. Perhaps A-Meng was bored now that A-Jiao didn’t really need his protection anymore, seeing as how she and Jiang Zhengkai were now joined at the hip.
When Jiang Zhengkai had dropped off A-Jiao, A-Meng had gotten up and did some exercises in his room to stave off boredom. It didn’t matter how physically fit he was, though; there was no way he could catch up to a cop car on foot. Plus, Jiang Zhengkai was A-Jiao’s boyfriend, and he was the one man she trusted most in this world. A-Meng didn’t believe she would be in any danger as long as she was in the presence of her cop boyfriend. Life wasn’t a TV drama where criminal elements had nothing better to do than attack a police officer and his family. In China, such acts would certainly result in the death penalty, so police officers were very much safe. Of course, there was a person who had killed members of Jiang Zhengkai’s family, and he was very much alive and well. But A-Tao was a special case, so one couldn’t very well take him to be the norm.
It was just then that A-Meng noticed Cui Jing. He saw her walking out of the preschool alone in a trance-like state. He could tell, even at this distance and without even being able to see her face clearly, that this woman was going to be in trouble tonight. Since A-Jiao didn’t need his protection at the moment, A-Meng decided to follow Cui Jing to see if anything might happen to her. Driven by curiosity, he left his apartment building and started following her. That was why, just as she was about to be run over by that cargo truck, he ran over and rescued her from almost certain death.
At the very least, A-Meng didn’t have anything against Cui Jing; he hardly would have saved her life if he had. He knew she was A-Jiao’s colleague and friend. Of course, he also knew Cui Jing was the girlfriend of that disgusting playboy, Li Hongbin. But even so, it didn’t change the fact that Cui Jing was a beautiful young woman. And Cui Jing had a particular kind of charm that men found very attractive. Deep down inside, A-Meng was drawn to her.
“Ugh…” A-Meng’s attention shifted from the window back to Cui Jing, who was groaning softly as she lay on the bed. She hadn’t actually awoken from her dreamy slumber. After that groan, she immediately fell back asleep. Perhaps last night’s physical exertions and today’s exhaustion had finally caused her body to shut down.
Satisfied that Cui Jing was still sleeping, A-Meng turned his gaze back towards the window. That was where he ought to be focusing his attention anyway, since that preschool across the street was where his target worked.
After A-Jiao’s class adjourned, the parents, as always, had to sign their children out on the attendance log. Then they picked up their respective children. After A-Jiao had safely sent off the last of the children and cleaned up the art studio, she and Jiang Zhengkai walked hand-in-hand out of the preschool and into his police cruiser. The car then drove off in the direction of A-Jiao’s luxury condo.
After he saw A-Jiao leaving the preschool, A-Meng let out a yawn. According to A-Tao’s latest instructions, he no longer needed to concern himself with A-Jiao’s safety after she went home. After all, she had Jiang Zhengkai to look after her, and he was the most reliable bodyguard of all. As long as A-Meng didn’t find evidence of any cracks in their relationship, he no longer needed to follow her every movement day and night.
However, A-Tao still tasked A-Meng with ensuring A-Jiao’s safety while she was at work and at other places. In other words, as long as she wasn’t with Jiang Zhengkai, then her safety was A-Meng’s responsibility. Therefore, A-Meng had no complaints about his current assignment, but he did have some misgivings. He found it strange that A-Tao no longer gave him the opportunity to be involved in their gang’s main “business”, and only tasked him with protecting A-Jiao. Perhaps this was how a detail-oriented older brother took care of his younger sister? A-Meng didn’t think about it too much. He believed that A-Tao still trusted him.
In fact, A-Tao did indeed trust A-Meng. The reason he wanted to keep A-Meng away from the gang’s drug business was so that he could gradually let time wipe away A-Meng’s criminal record. Deep down inside, A-Tao had a nagging feeling that his own end was near, and he didn’t want to drag his most trusted protege down with him.
A-Meng looked at the sleeping Cui Jing and took out a pillow and a blanket from his cabinet. He walked over to the sofa and threw the pillow onto it. Then he laid down, fully clothed, on the sofa and pulled the blanket over his body. Not every man wanted to take advantage of women. The resolve to respect women came from a man’s inner self-discipline and had no direct relation to a man’s profession or lifestyle.
* * *
When A-Jiao and Jiang Zhengkai returned home, as usual, she occupied the bathroom first to shower. Actually, her luxury condo had more than one bathroom. Jiang Zhengkai could have easily taken a shower in one of the other bathrooms. However, he liked staying in the bedroom listening to the shower water splashing about and hearing the woman he loved walking out of the bathroom to shout, “Hurry up, Honey, it’s your turn!”
This time, however, Jiang Zhengkai didn’t stay in the bedroom like he normally did. He ran over to the storage room, in the hopes of finding something else that would result in a credible lead, even though he knew most of what remained in the storage room was furniture and clothing. He was curious about the absence of any drugs or drug paraphernalia in the items that A-Jiao had collected from A-Xiu’s former residence. Was it possible that someone had visited A-Xiu’s apartment prior to A-Jiao and removed all traces of drug-related items?
“It’s your turn, Honey!” shouted A-Jiao as she normally did while exiting the bathroom. She was drying her hair with a towel when she realized she didn’t hear the normal acknowledgement. “Hmm, where did he go?” A-Jiao asked curiously when she looked into the bedroom and saw no trace of Jiang Zhengkai. Just when she was about to become utterly confused, he called from the storage room. “I’m in here! I wanted to have a look at some of A-Xiu’s other belongings.”
“Oh! Do you need help?” asked A-Jiao as she walked towards the storage room. She didn’t think the room had any undivulgeable secrets. And as for A-Xiu, she didn’t think Jiang Zhengkai would purposely hide anything from her. She stood at the entrance to the storage room and looked curiously at Jiang Zhengkai as he rummaged around. “Honey, what are you trying to find?”
“I just have a strange feeling,” Jiang Zhengkai said to himself, before he looked up at A-Jiao. “Like there’s something missing from A-Xiu’s possessions.” However, he hid the truth from her about his concerns about the lack of drugs and drug paraphernalia in A-Xiu’s belongings. That didn’t meant he didn’t trust A-Jiao, only that the trust came from his emotions, not from his rational judgment. He always felt that A-Jiao’s past contained too many mysteries, and as men tended to be more rational than women, he couldn’t completely reconcile the various questions he had about A-Jiao with what he knew about her. As a result, he had no way of completely trusting this woman.
“Oh, really?” said A-Jiao as she continued drying her hair. She didn’t think there was anything improper in what Jiang Zhengkai had just said. A-Jiao wasn’t a fussy woman, or else she wouldn’t have been able to have such a good time with Jiang Zhengkai.
“Honey, could you think back to when you moved all of A-Xiu’s belongings? Was there anything that you threw away?” asked Jiang Zhengkai as he stood in the center of the room and glanced in all four directions, before looking at A-Jiao.
“Things that I threw away?” asked A-Jiao as she stopped drying her hair. She stood there and concentrated on remembering what she did two years ago. “Yeah, there were some things I threw away, like condoms, uneaten food, newspapers, and some syringes. Of course I didn’t bring any of those things back with me.”
“Did you say syringes?” Jiang Zhengkai asked to confirm, as he stared blankly at A-Jiao.
“That’s right, syringes. There was rubber tubing, too,” A-Jiao repeated, “Like what you would see in the hospital. There were about two or three of them. I had no use for them, so I threw them away.”
“I see! Honey, do you remember if the alley… I mean, the place where you used to work had a lot of those things?” Jiang Zhengkai continued to ask from a different angle.
“Yeah, it was pretty common to see them lying around,” A-Jiao casually answered. “Some of the customers had certain needs, so every room had a few syringes and sets of tubing, but none of the sisters in the alley used any of that stuff.”
“Then, where A-Xiu lived…?” Jiang Zhengkai continued.
“You silly!” A-Jiao chuckled in response to Jiang Zhengkai’s question. “Those customers who book you for the whole night have to go home with you!” After saying that out loud, A-Jiao’s face immediately grew red, and she quietly returned to her bedroom.
Jiang Zhengkai saw A-Jiao leaving and thought it kind of strange. Still, he knew that what he had just asked had caused some level of embarrassment for her. He turned around and looked at the stuff in the storage room, before leaving it to join A-Jiao in the bedroom.