On May 27th, Chen Shi felt that his body had already broken his smoking addiction. Of course, there was still his heart’s addiction towards it. He was happy without smoking. His nose felt like it wasn’t as blocked and food smelled more fragrant to him. His lungs didn’t feel like they were stuffed with cotton like they used to.
Chen Shi had been smoking since high school, meaning he had been smoking for almost two decades. He still needed more motivation to quit completely.
Lin Dongxue would give Chen Shi a box of mints or extra chewing gum whenever she saw him, which helped him relieve his anxiety when there was nothing in his mouth. When the two were hiding out in the car intimately, Lin Dongxue sniffed the scent on him and said, “You smell so much better now. I don't understand why the smell of tobacco is attractive to some people.”
Chen Shi poked her forehead and joked, “You care about my health so much. Do you want to marry me?”
“Uh...” Lin Dongxue's cheeks flushed red. “You're progressing too fast! Didn't you say last time that you still owe me a formal confession?”
“You’re right. I’ll have to prepare for that.”
“Be sure to make it engraved in my heart. Otherwise I won't agree to it.” Lin Dongxue held Chen Shi's ears with both hands and smiled charmingly. Nourished by love, she was as beautiful as an angel in Chen Shi’s eyes, but sometimes she was like a child.
The case was still under investigation. Zheng Guohao had very poor interpersonal relationships. He had a lot of friends around him, but they were mostly just trying to win his favor. When they heard that he was dead, these people said, “I was only acquainted with Zheng Guohao!”
The people around him basically all knew about this detestable hobby of his. His shameless hobby for young girls was almost wild. In order to satisfy his desires, he would go to the parents who owe him huge loans or addicted to drugs and use money to trade for their daughter’s relationship with him.
Women who knew of his background were unwilling to talk to him about marriage, so he had been single this whole time. He even had the idea of using an orphanage and wanted to adopt a daughter. However, the orphanage didn’t approve his adoption application.
Today, Chen Shi and Lin Dongxue met with a school counselor. According to investigations, Zheng Guohao also touched an underage female student from this school. The school kept silent about this incident. They made rounds of phone calls before they found someone who was willing to disclose some information.
During the meeting, the female counselor said, “I haven't directly seen the Zheng Guohao you talked about. About ten years ago, a girl named Yi Qing in our school was sexually assaulted by an adult. I think it might be related to this person.”
Lin Dongxue asked. “What is Yi Qing's family situation like?”
“She was from a single-parent family living with her father. Her father was an athlete that participated in provincial competitions. He almost entered the national team. Later, after being injured in training, he retired and started a small business. I don’t know if talking about this is appropriate... According to Yi Qing, when her father and mother were married, her father was not at home because of training every day and her mother was born very beautiful. The father suspected that Yi Qing's mother was having an affair. Yi Qing was a premature child. Her father even suspected that she was not his own child. Coupled with the failure of his sports career, he changed from an admired athlete to a grocery store owner that vented his anger out on his wife.”
“It's not the direct kind of physical domestic violence. It was emotional. In addition to verbal insults, he also hung a basketball with his wife's name on the balcony. He punched and kicked the basketball every day, and cursed Yi Qing's mother to death. After living under this kind of mental stress for six years, Yi Qing's mother died in a car accident. Although the police concluded that it was a traffic accident, I think it was related to the long-term mental pressure she felt. After that, the father and the daughter depended on each other, and the father’s anger was passed onto Yi Qing.”
“Why not do a paternity test then?” Chen Shi asked.
“I asked this question as well. Yi Qing said that when she was in kindergarten, her father took her to do a paternity test five or six times. The results proved that Yi Qing was his flesh and blood. However, this forced conception he concocted was difficult to change, just like an illness that sparks from a person’s paranoia. A person that thinks they’re sick will just feel that the hospital's technology isn’t up to par when the medical tests say otherwise rather than believe that they’re not actually ill. Yi Qing's father is the same in this way. He has always believed that Yi Qing is not biologically his own, so he would act very detached with her, causing mental, emotional, and spiritual damage. I think that type of family atmosphere is very depressing!”
“One time, Yi Qing saw her father talking to a fat man and mentioned words such as 'daughter', 'overnight', and '100,000 yuan'. Yi Qing was terrified and asked a schoolteacher for help. Yi Qing hid at her teacher's house for a few days. However, the teacher was an outsider after all and couldn’t protect her. Her father ran over angrily and said that the child lied, stole money from the family, and ran out to go on the Internet and the like. He forcefully dragged her home... The sexual assault should have happened that day. Her father sold her and Yi Qing came to me afterwards. Psychology couldn't help her situation. I suggested for her to go to a lawyer and expressed my willingness to help her.”
“With my constant encouragement, we found a lawyer and wrote the indictment. Her father learned the news and went to the school to reverse the blacks and whites of the story and forcibly took her away. For a teenage girl, it was difficult to gather the courage. Her father easily extinguished the small flames in her heart. Since then, she seemed to have become a different person. Although her appearance was the same as before, I always felt that she was wearing a mask because she no longer trusted adults.”
Talking about the past, the counselor showed a lot of sadness. She continued, “I know you’re investigating the case. Now that this assailant is dead, all the girls who have been sexually assaulted by him have become the object of suspicion...”
“We feel helpless as well, but this is our job.” Lin Dongxue said.
“If Yi Qing really did it, I hope you can look past it a bit. After all, she has an unbearable past.”
After saying goodbye to the teacher, Chen Shi said, “Let’s make a trip to see this girl's father!”
“I think so too.” Lin Dongxue made a phone call and asked the bureau to check for Yi Qing's father's information. After listening for a while, her expression changed. She held the microphone part of her phone down with her other hand and said to Chen Shi, “The man is dead!”
“How did he die?”
“It was a car accident. The police suspected that it was murder because the car was tampered with. In the end, the suspect was not arrested because of insufficient evidence.”
“Where's the girl?”
“I'll ask again.”
Lin Dongxue continued the conversation and informed Chen Shi after she hung up the phone, “She’s worked in a welfare institution since graduating from college.”
“Counting it out, she's twenty-five or six this year, right?”
“Do you think it’s necessary to visit her?”
“There’s no harm in meeting her for a bit!”
The two then drove to the welfare institution and the children playing in the yard fled. Some hid in the corner to observe the two full of expectations. To these children, a man and a woman walking in may mean that their own fates would change.
“What poor children.” Lin Dongxue noticed how most orphans were girls or boys with defects. “Where did you adopt Tao Yueyue?”
“Uh, that orphanage isn’t in Long'an.” Chen Shi replied. Lin Dongxue didn't know about the true origin of Tao Yueyue.
“Who are you looking for?”
A tall woman in a long purple dress came out. She was young and beautiful with calm eyes. Chen Shi smelled a faint violet fragrance from her.
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