Chapter 81: The Origin of A-Di
There’s something about the sea that gives it strange magical powers over the human soul. It can make us forget about our troubles and worries and calm our hearts as we hear its quiet beckoning. Jiang Zhengkai and A-Jiao stood next to the beach’s safety fence, locked in an embrace and taking in all of the serenity that the sea was offering. Perhaps, at that moment, the two of them really did belong to each other, their thoughts unadulterated by anything other than that of the other.
The two of them stood silently on the beach for more than an hour. Finally, A-Jiao turned around and touched Jiang Zhengkai’s face. “Honey, are you cold? Should we go back?”
“Oh, alright,” Jiang Zhengkai responded absent-mindedly. He had been focusing the entire time on A-Jiao’s hair. He liked it when she nestled up to his body, and he liked the way her hair smelled.
“Why are you so spaced out?” asked A-Jiao. She saw that even though he had responded to her earlier question, he hadn’t shown the slightest intention to move from his current spot. She pinched his nose and asked, “Which other woman are you thinking about?”
“Hmph!” Jiang Zhengkai reached out and grabbed A-Jiao’s hand. “Heh, we’re not officially married yet, so maybe you’re the other woman, haha!”
“I hate you!” exclaimed A-Jiao as she pursed her lips. “Well, it has to at least be first-come, first-served, right?”
“Really? Are you sure you came first?” asked Jiang Zhengkai. He knew that by taunting A-Jiao like this he might rile her up, but he also knew that if he didn’t say something like this, she would become even more petulant.
“Of course!” A-Jiao confidently nodded her head. “Wait, who else is there besides me, you old pervert!” She casually waved her hand as she spoke. Jiang Zhengkai watched her form as she moved and felt a sudden and inexplicable urge to kiss her, an urge that was practically irresistible.
“Have you got nothing to say for yourself?” Naturally, A-Jiao couldn’t read Jiang Zhengkai’s mind, so there was no way of her knowing what her man was thinking just then. She kept on laughing and stood on her toes as she pushed her face closer to his. Then she batted her eyelashes as she gazed at him, a mischievous expression still lingering on her face.
“Unh… gross!” Jiang Zhengkai teased her. And yet, he couldn’t help himself as he leaned in to kiss her. After her initial shock, she did not struggle any further. Her body leaned against the beach’s safety fence as they continued to lock lips.
As tourists and bystanders passed by, they looked upon the two of them the way they would look at some kind of beautiful scenery. After all, this was the kind of place that just screamed “romantic”. Wasn’t it only natural to stumble upon a romantic couple in a place that seemed handmade for it?
“You’re so annoying, Honey!” A-Jiao said when Jiang Zhengkai finally broke off the kiss. She gently closed her eyes. “You are getting more and more sexual!”
“Honey, I forgot my wallet!” He replied as he pulled A-Jiao into his embrace, before kissing her on her forehead. “Why don’t you put the money I owe you for that kiss on my tab?”
“You!” Jiang Zhengkai’s taunts sent A-Jiao into an enraged frenzy, eyes bulging out of her sockets. She didn’t wait for an explanation before directly biting into Jiang Zhengkai’s neck…
* * *
Lu Xiaoqiang spent more than half the day working out of Zhang Nan’s station. He was very disappointed at Zhang Nan’s inability to produce any useful information on A-Di. Meanwhile, A-Shun only knew that A-Di was a recent arrival to the city. He didn’t have any more information on her background and history either. The same could be said of A-Sha, who told Lu Xiaoqiang the same things he had already heard from A-Shun, which was that A-Di hadn’t shown her face in the alley before and that she died a violent death shortly after arriving in the city.
Still, Lu Xiaoqiang did notice that A-Shun and A-Sha’s complexion had improved. It looked like Zhang Nan had taken Jiang Zhengkai’s order to take good care of them to heart. Furthermore, A-Shun’s emotional well-being had also greatly improved from a few days ago. He was a slippery fellow, so he now understood that Jiang Zhengkai locking him up in here was actually done to protect him. With things in the alley as chaotic as it was, he didn’t mind at all staying here in the station. As for A-Sha, she was really quite enjoying life in the station. She was getting three square meals a day without having to do any work. Definitely beat having to risk your life just so you could support yourself.
After Lu Xiaoqiang left the station, he didn’t go straight back to the sub-bureau to provide Jiang Zhengkai his report. Instead, he took a detour to the alley. A-Shun had told him that many of the women were now working in the afternoons instead of the evenings, so he decided to use the afternoon to walk around the alley and see if one of the women there was willing to talk to him about A-Di’s background.
“Hey handsome, you want some services?” Seeing Lu Xiaoqiang walking this way, a woman standing near a passageway casually walked over and quietly asked, “Come on, I’ll give you a discount.”
Lu Xiaoqiang heard the woman’s call. He raised his head to look at her and realized that she must not have been any older than his younger sister Xiaomei. Ai, these poor women! Lu Xiaoqiang silently thought to himself. Ever since he’d found out that his own sister became a prostitute in order to feed their family and that A-Jiao sent their family the money she had money selling her own body, Lu Xiaoqiang had fundamentally changed his perception of prostitutes. Nowadays, he didn’t find these women to be repugnant at all. Quite the opposite, he felt a degree of closeness to them, probably because of his sister. People are like that. When someone you love and cherish enters a certain profession, even if that profession is in principle a dirty and lowly one, you will nevertheless feel a kind of connection ot it. Of course, this didn’t actually mean that Lu Xiaoqiang approved of these women entering their line of work.
“Alright, let’s go,” Lu Xiaoqiang nodded. “You lead the way.”
“Ok, okay!” the woman joyfully nodded her head a few times. To be able to snag a brand-new customer during these slow times would make any woman in the alley excited. “Hey big boy, you want the whole package? I can give you a discount,” the woman advertised her skills as she walked arm-in-arm with Lu Xiaoqiang.
“Oh!” remarked Lu Xiaoqiang. He tried to untangle his arm from the woman’s, but she clasped it very tightly, so he wasn’t able to pull his arm out. “Go take a look first and then decide,” said the woman. Lu Xiaoqiang gave up on removing his arm from the woman’s grasp and followed the woman into the room where she worked.
“Alright, time to take off your clothes!” said the woman as she shut the door and locked it. She then turned around and looked Lu Xiaoqiang sitting on the bed before calmly saying, “So, big boy, the discount price for the whole package is 100 yuan, alright?” As she spoke, the woman walked over to Lu Xiaoqiang and looked expectedly at him.
“I…” Lu Xiaoqiang looked into the woman’s eyes and found a certain degree of honesty written in them. Well, it was just a mutually agreed-upon commercial transaction. It’s not like the prostitute wanted to incapacitate Lu Xiaoqiang and rob him of all of his money.
“What? You think that’s too expensive?” asked the woman as her face scrunched up. “You know this is a pretty dangerous line of work these days, so… can’t you just say yes?”
“How… how about this?” Lu Xiaoqiang looked into the woman’s eyes again and reached a hand out to touch her face. “If you can help me find someone, I’ll give you double, and you don’t even need to service me.”
“Oh?” Hearing a claim like that instinctively put the woman on her guard. She stood up straight, backed up against the wall near the doorway, and looked warily at Lu Xiaoqiang, “What do you want? Who do you want to find?” she asked, in a noticeably less friendly tone of voice.
Lu Xiaoqiang saw the change in the woman’s expression, so he took two hundred yuan from his pocket, waved it in front of the woman, and then casually placed the money on the bed. “Do you know a woman here named A-Di?”
“A-Di?” The woman shook her head as she looked at Lu Xiaoqiang with surprise. However, she quickly changed her tune and began nodding, her eyes never leaving the money Lu Xiaoqiang had placed on the bed. “Yes, I know her. She’s dead.”
Since she’d had answered her first question, Lu Xiaoqiang continued. “Do you know anything about her? As in, who she was close to, and where she came from?”
“Who… who are you?” The woman began to tremble in obvious fear. She moved slowly to the door, the money no longer seeming to hold her interest. After all, money was nothing compared to her fear of death.
“Me?” asked Lu Xiaoqiang. He saw the woman was terrified, so he stood up and said to her, “Don’t worry, I’m not a bad–” But before he could finish, the woman fled the room in terror. Unfortunately for the woman, she moved too hastily and ran into the doorframe on her way out, causing her to fall straight onto the floor.