A-Jiao had left them now. As such, Dr. Wang handed the newly-born baby to Cui Jing. He was healthy and full of energy, as if his mother was still secretly protecting him from somewhere nearby.
On the third day after A-Jiao’s death, Jiang Zhengkai was finally released from the prosecutor’s office, with the investigation against him being dismissed. Yao Tianyu’s political intervention and the severe backlash from the general public had both played a significant role in this. After all, the law ensured that a single department or even a single person could not manipulate it like that without repercussion.
As soon as he was released, Jiang Zhengkai went to the hospital morgue and saw A-Jiao. Her body almost seemed as if it were merely asleep. Nevertheless, Jiang Zhengkai could see the residual regret etched into her body. If she were sleeping, it was a troubled sleep from all the words left unsaid to him. However, God, or more specifically a man, had not given her a chance to say them.
Jiang Zhengkai didn’t cry after seeing her. He just held her body in his arms and sat in the morgue for a whole day, until dawn the next day in silent vigil. He knew that A-Jiao was gone, but he couldn’t follow her into the afterlife because A-Jiao had left a child behind. He had to raise and take good care of their son.
In the end, Jiang Zhengkai buried A-Jiao next to A-Tao. While they had been alive, they had always wished to be brother and sister. Now that they were dead, they could finally accompany each other forever.
After going through this incident, Jiang Zhengkai declined Yao Tianyu’s promotion offer. He told him that all he wanted to do was raise the child in peace. He hoped that the child would grow up safely and for him to not become a policeman; instead, he hoped for him to take up painting like his mother and perhaps become a painter himself one day.
As a means to that end, Jiang Zhengkai submitted his resignation from his post. He didn’t want his son to ever find out what a useless policeman his father had been — one who couldn’t even protect the woman he loved. Yao Tianyu, as reluctant as he was to do so, had no choice but to accept Jiang Zhengkai’s resignation. He knew that Jiang Zhengkai would never emotionally recover from the blow of A-Jiao’s death, and that there was nothing he could do for him.
Life in the city didn’t change just because there was one less policeman around or just because a woman had died; it callously continued on its normal course as methodically as ever.
Three days before Cui Jing and A-Meng left for Paris, they went to visit Jiang Zhengkai and his child. Accompanied by Jiang Zhengkai, A-Meng went to the cemetery to pay his respects while Cui Jing stayed at Jiang’s place to look after his child.
“I wasn’t there to protect her!” A-Meng mumbled regretfully as he stood in front of A-Jiao’s grave. The day the incident had taken place, he had been in Beijing taking care of a few bureaucratic procedures for his impending departure.
“It was my own fault. I don’t blame you,” Jiang Zhengkai calmly replied.
“Here, take this,” A-Meng said as he produced an envelope from his pocket. “In it, you will find two cards and a key left behind by Brother Tao. One of the cards is for A-Jiao, and the other is for running the business. Besides that, the key is for the safe in the Internet café, and you’ll find the permit for the premises, some bonds, and other things inside.”
“All this…” Jiang Zhengkai received the envelope from A-Meng’s hand, and wanted to say something, but was unable to say it in the end.
“Just take it!” A-Meng glanced at Jiang Zhengkai and then said, “Brother Tao entrusted me with all this back when he was still alive! Everything he owned was transferred to A-Jiao. Don’t worry! The money, properties, and bonds are all already registered under A-Jiao’s name. The money has been thoroughly laundered by our brothers too, so the police won’t give you any trouble.”
“I believe that they should need it more than I do, don’t they?” Jiang Zhengkai sighed as he looked at A-Meng.
“I thought so too!” A-Meng turned around, talking as he walked to the foot of the hill, away from the cemetery. “But now, I think that it might be you who needs it more. However, I also think that they need you, and that maybe you will need them too.”
Jiang Zhengkai stood there, dazed, as he clutched the envelope in his hand. After a while, he fished out another key from his trouser pocket. It had originally belonged to Sui Zhongyi or, one could say, to Sui Dequan. However, it now belonged to him too. Maybe they did need him…
The night before A-Meng and Cui Jing left, the peace of the city was shattered once again.
Li Jianguo, who was in charge of political and legal affairs of the city as its vice-mayor, was found dead in his home. His throat had been slit and his belly slashed open, its grisly contents hanging from the stair railing.
On the same night, Li Jianguo’s second son Li Kunpeng also died. He was killed in a hotel room and he, too, had his throat and belly slashed open. Moreover, every inch of his flesh had been flayed off and thrown into the toilet.
The next day, a restless Cui Jing waited for A-Meng in the airport lounge. Today was the day for them to go abroad. But the time to their plane takeoff was ticking away and A-Meng had yet to show up. Cui Jing watched the security checkpoint anxiously while also keeping a close eye on the lounge doors. Finally, a minute before the checkpoint closed, A-Meng rushed over in a scramble.
“You are late!” Cui Jing reproached.
“Sorry, something delayed me,” A-Meng apologized as he stole a glance at Cui Jing. Then, he placed an arm around her shoulder and guided her toward the checkpoint. “Have you finally settled everything?” Cui Jing asked as she lowered her voice after they passed through security.
“Yeah,” A-Meng replied with a happy grin and a triumphant gesture.
Cui Jing and A-Meng’s plane took off and circled around the city once before speeding off. Meanwhile, a mushroom cloud had materialized from the ground. Soon, the entire city seemed to be seething with dust. Cui Jing and A-Meng, high up in the sky, could not clearly see what was going on down there, but both knew well what had just transpired.
Time swiftly flew by and a year soon passed. Jiang Zhengkai and A-Jiao’s child was now one year old, and he had grown into a quiet and well-behaved toddler. During this time, the father and son lived in the condo A-Jiao had left behind. Jiang Zhengkai did not spend any time working at all, because he wanted to spend as much time as he could with his child, and also because he wanted to pay off the debt to his family that he had accrued over the past years.
Today was the one-year anniversary of A-Jiao’s death. Jiang Zhengkai left the condo with his son early in the day and drove to the cemetery. Even in death, A-Jiao’s spirit would have missed her son with annual visits.
At dusk, Jiang Zhengkai went back home with his child asleep in his arms. He gently closed the door when he suddenly realized that he could hear the sound of splashing water coming from the shower in the bedroom bathroom. Jiang Zhengkai did not make a sound. He softly put his child down in the nursery, then quietly waited outside the bathroom. He could hear that someone was taking a shower.
“Who is it?” a familiar voice called out from the bathroom before the door opened. “Who’s here?” A young woman with long black hair came out, groping her way along in nothing but a towel.
“Zi… Ziyuan…” Jiang Zhengkai looked at the woman in front of him and suddenly felt dizzy. This woman looks exactly like A-Jiao! It’s her. It has to be her.
“Who are you?” The woman did not register what Jiang Zhengkai had said and kept groping her way along, tentatively. At this moment, her towel slipped off of her body and her naked body was entirely exposed in front of Jiang Zhengkai.
Yes! It’s actually A-Jiao! She has that same exact identical butterfly birthmark right beside her navel. Upon seeing this, Jiang Zhengkai took a step forward and pulled the woman into his arms. “Ziyuan! Honey! I missed you. I missed you so much!”
“No! I…” The woman cried out nervously, her tone changing at the unexpected change. However, she did not get to finish her sentence. Something covered her mouth, preventing her from uttering a sound. She could do nothing but let this stranger lock her tightly in his embrace and kiss her all over.
For much of the night, Jiang Zhengkai called out A-Jiao’s name, but the woman beside him seemed to be under a spell and could not answer his eager calls. However, she looked so much like A-Jiao that it had to be her. Otherwise, why would she show up in his house? In the end, Jiang Zhengkai had intimate sex with her...
At midnight, Jiang Zhengkai woke up to the sound of the baby crying. He was still hugging the young woman tightly. Under the moonlight, he could see that there were tears on her face. Jiang Zhengkai sat up. He wanted to go check on his son in the nursery, but was afraid that the woman beside him would disappear. Just as he was stuck in his hesitation, his hand brushed by the bedsheet by accident and he unexpectedly felt that it was a little wet and sticky. He turned on the light and discovered that it was blood, the woman’s blood. It was not much, but it had clearly come from her lower abdomen…Previous Chapter Next Chapter
If you found this chapter to be unbelievable, you're in for more shock...