Chapter 84: Naivete and Stupidity
After A-Jiao and Jiang Zhengkai left, Cui Jing waited impatiently by herself in front of the preschool’s front entrance, but she dared not call Li Hongbin on the phone. Unfortunately, this is often what happens when an ordinary city girl falls in love with a rich playboy. These girls consider the mere opportunity to date the scion of a rich family as a gift from heaven, so what more could they ask for?
About a half hour later, Li Hongbin’s car finally appeared in front of the preschool. As soon as she saw the car, Cui Jing ran towards it like a gleeful little fawn. “Bin, how come you’ve just arrived? I’ve been worried sick,” complained Cui Jing as she got into the car.
“Worried?” asked Li Hongbin as he cocked his head and glanced at Cui Jing, “Sorry, baby! It’s been a really busy day. I’ve got to take some clients out for drinks later tonight, so I’m afraid I won’t be able to go out with you.”
“Really?” Hearing what Li Hongbin just said caused Cui Jing to look at his face with a bit of heartache, “Bin, you need to take care of yourself. Don’t work so hard, ok?” Even though the tone of her voice was artificially cute to the point of being nauseating, Cui Jing’s feelings towards Li Hongbin were genuine. When an innocent woman gave her body over to a man, she often times only asked for the man’s affections in return.
“Yeah, sure!” Li Hongbin laughed at Cui Jing, “I wish I could sleep more, too!” Even though Li Hongbin was a playboy, but he still had some feelings for Cui Jing. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have kept around a woman whose body he had already possessed.
“Then tonight…” Cui Jing wanted to say, Could you not meet your clients and spend time with me instead? However, when the words finally reached her mouth, she decided to say something else, “Could I go with you to your client meeting tonight?”
“You?” Li Hongbin asked incredulously as he glanced at Cui Jing. Even though he found Cui Jing less and less attractive by the day, he nevertheless had to admit that she was still a beautiful young woman. Perhaps this kind of woman is just the type that these southern businessmen were looking for… At the thought of that, Li Hongbin gave Cui Jing a most hospitable smile. “Ok, Jing! I want to spend more time with you, too, but these clients tonight are not the easygoing type. I just wanted to let you know so you can mentally prepare yourself.”
“Oh!” Cui Jing listened to Li Hongbin’s warning as her face become beet red in color. She knew exactly what Li Hongbin meant when he said these clients weren’t “easygoing.” After all, she ended up with Li Hongbin in the first place precisely as a result of a less-than-easygoing date that she had with her ex-boyfriend. It was because Li Hongbin had stopped her ex from further taking advantage of Cui Jing that she decided to give herself to him. What she didn’t know was that Li Hongbin had set the whole thing up and bought off her ex-boyfriend. One man got the money while the other got the girl. It was a win-win for the two men. The only loser in that transaction was Cui Jing.
“Ah, forget about it, Jing. Let’s go eat dinner. After dinner, I’ll drop you off at your house, alright?” Li Hongbin looked at Cui Jing’s expression and reassured her, “Don’t worry! I’ve got this! I deal with clients like these all the time.” Honestly, Li Hongbin wasn’t firmly set on putting Cui Jing out there to deal with these southern businessmen. After all, he wasn’t quite done playing with this woman. Men were willing to share most things with other men, but not their women. They either wanted to have their women all to themselves or not at all. That was a commonality shared by men across the world.
“I…” These last few sentences by Li Hongbin caused Cui Jing to inexplicably feel all warm and fuzzy inside, “Are they… very important?”
“Yes!” said Li Hongbin as he started the car engine. He heard Cui Jing’s question and turned his head to look at her, “This deal is very important to me.” If only Cui Jing had equivocated with a casual nod, then this story would’ve ended here. However, Cui Jing made a crucial error and said, “Then… then I’ll go. Would you… be able to protect me?”
“You want to go?” Li Hongbin couldn’t believe the words that came out of Cui Jing’s mouth! He knew that a woman in love was foolish and blind, but he had no idea of the extent of Cui Jing’s foolishness. In Li Hongbin’s eyes, money was always more important than women. A woman, no matter how good, could never be better than money. If you lost your woman, you could simply buy another one with your money, but it didn’t work so well the other way around.
“Yes!” affirmed Cui Jing as she looked naively at Li Hongbin, “I want to help you shoulder some of the burden. I don’t want to see you working so hard everyday!” Cui Jing’s words were sincere and earnest.
“Oh, haha!” Li Hongbin roared in laughter at Cui Jing’s words, “Alright, let’s go! I’ll take you with me then.” Meanwhile, Li Hongbin viciously thought to himself, Damn bitch! You’ve been wanting to screw around with other men for a while now, haven’t you? You asked for this, so don’t blame me when the whole thing goes south for you!
* * *
Inside Uncle Cai’s noodle shop, A-Jiao and Jiang Zhengkai had already finished eating dinner. There weren’t too many customers tonight, so Uncle Gao had the chance to get some much-deserved rest.
“How was it, Jiang? Did you enjoy the noodles tonight?” After Uncle Gao had finished serving the other customers, he casually sat down at A-Jiao and Jiang Zhengkai’s table, “How about I get you another bowl?”
“No, thank you, Uncle Gao!” Jiang Zhengkai laughingly responded to Uncle Gao’s offer. “Actually, it did taste a bit different tonight.”
“Of course it did! That’s because I made some improvements to the recipe,” Uncle Gao said proudly, “The people here aren’t used to that much spice and salt in their foods, so I had Cai dial back the amount of chili peppers and salt he puts into the broth. I also had him add some honey. What do you think? It’s a lot better, right?”
“Oh, so that’s why!” exclaimed A-Jiao as she pretended to act all dissatisfied, “I was just saying how the noodles tonight tasted all weird. I personally thought they were pretty gross.” Upon hearing A-Jiao’s opinion, Uncle Gao’s face became very awkward-looking. However, A-Jiao immediately shoved her empty bowl in front of Uncle Gao and said, “Here! If you give me a bowl of free noodles, I’ll promise not to tell your secret to the other customers!”
“Haha! You silly girl!” Seeing A-Jiao’s actions and mannerisms, Uncle Gao realized that she was toying with him. His smile returned as he said, “Alright! I’ll get you another bowl, and it’s on the house! Just don’t complain when I don’t bring a gift to you two’s wedding!” Afterwards, Uncle Gao got up, took the bowl, and started to head towards the kitchen.
A-Jiao immediately grabbed Uncle Gao’s arm and pleaded, “I’m sorry, Uncle! I don’t need that second bowl after all! I’m full, really!”
“Really? You’re really full?” Uncle Gao asked in surprise.
“Yes, I’m full! In fact, I can’t be anything but full right now!” A-Jiao patted her tummy and sat back down. “Ai! The cost of that free bowl of noodles was way too high! I’d say I was full even if I were starving!”
“You… haha!” Hearing A-Jiao’s quip, Uncle Gao knew she was joking with him again. Anyway, he knew A-Jiao’s appetite was only so big, and his comment about the wedding gift was a joke as well. He placed the empty bowl back on the table before he sat down next to the two and asked, “Jiang, have you been able to find that person you were looking for?”
“No,” he shook his head, “We’re still looking, but don’t worry! We will find her eventually.”
“You know, I kept on thinking about that case after you left.” Uncle Gao glanced left and right and saw that the other customers were all busy eating and paid no attention to their conversation. He lowered his voice and said to Jiang Zhengkai, “According to my recollection, A-Xiu had a child. I remember she sent money home every month.”
“A-Xiu has a child?” Jiang Zhengkai asked in astonishment at what Uncle Gao had just told him, “Then do you know where her home…”
“I seem to remember it was somewhere in Guangxi,” Uncle Gao continued, “As for specifically where, that I don’t remember. Ai, I must be getting old!” Uncle Gao shook his head before continuing, “But you can try asking Zheng Yueshan. He has all of the reports of A-Xiu’s interrogation.”
“What about Zhang Nan?” Jiang Zhengkai was clearly asking whether Zhang Nan knew about the interrogation reports.
“Zhang Nan doesn’t know,” Uncle Gao waved his hand, “I was alone when I interrogated A-Xiu. Zheng was supposed to join me in the interrogation, but an emergent case popped up that night, so he wasn’t able to come to the station.”
“Did A-Xiu give up anything important that night?” Jiang Zhengkai continued asking.
“No. She gave up absolutely nothing at all,” Uncle Gao chuckled, “Because Zheng wasn’t there, I wasn’t able to ask questions related to the case. We mostly just talked about our respective families. If I remember correctly, she experienced some serious financial hardships after her husband died. She became a prostitute as a way to support her child. The impression that woman gave off was that she was clever and not all that bad of a person, but she just didn’t want to stay on the straight and narrow. Well, with that level of education, perhaps making money from anything other than stealing or robbing was straight and narrow enough,” said Uncle Gao as he couldn’t help but shake his head.
“Uncle Gao, thank you so much!” exclaimed Jiang Zhengkai as he extended his hand towards the old man. He was truly grateful for the information Uncle Gao provided him tonight. Why didn’t he consider the possibility that A-Xiu herself came from Guangxi earlier in the afternoon? He should have realized that A-Xiu was from Guangxi as well!