Memory Lost (美人为馅): Chapter 14 7


Chapter 14: Black Gloves

Bai Jin Xi is still in a daze when she feels someone holding her wrist tightly.

Her eyes meet with Han Chen’s when she turns around.

“Leave,” he states.

“Mm.”

He releases his hold.  It’s not until now that Bai Jin Xi realizes that her hands have been in fists all this time.

So he grabbed her wrist just now to prevent her from acting rashly?

That’s impossible.  No matter how angry or frustrated she is, she wouldn’t act recklessly.

They turn around and leave with the crowd.  The factory area behind them is still filled with noise, and the night scenery around them is still empty and quiet as before.

Bai Jin Xi murmurs, “This really sucks.”

“It’s not worth it,” a deep and slow voice says each word clearly, “The more times he commits an offense, the more evidence he will leave behind.  He is bringing about his own destruction.”

_____

The third victim is named Zhao Man Man.

Unlike the previous two victims, she did not actually get assaulted.

This means that before the suspect could commit the crime, she notified the police.

Arriving at the scene, Bai Jin Xi looks around as she stands in Zhao Man Man’s bedroom.  Everything has been kept as is; the lights are on, the bed covers are in a mess, but nothing else is out of place.  The window is shut.  Zhao Man Man is sitting on the side of the bed; an outer jacket is covering her small figure; her shirt underneath is ruffled and tear marks can be seen on her face.

Bai Jin Xi picks up the wooden stick on the bed with her gloved hand, “You used this to hit him?”

Man Man nods.

How suspenseful must that have been?

He stalks her without her knowing, and then suddenly entering her place.  He’s tall with muscular arms.  His eyes are full of madness behind the black mask.

He pushes her onto the bed.

When he uses nylon ropes to tie her hands, she tries once to escape; kicking him on the chest.  It catches him off guard and he falls to the ground, but quickly climbs back up.  Man Man wants to run away, but he immediately presses her to the bed.  She can’t fend him off this time and both of her hands are tied.

He lowers his head and kisses her everywhere.  Due to her struggling to escape, it takes him a bit of time to hold her legs down.  And when he bends down to tie them, the chance comes.  Although Man Man’s hands are tied, it doesn’t stop her from rolling to the inner side of the bed and fetching the wooden stick.  She swings it towards him.

Ever since she heard about sexual assaults happening in the area, she, who lives by herself, has kept a wooden stick in her bedroom.

But his reflex is too quick as he dodges; the swing misses him.  It’s just that Man Man’s emotions are close to crumbling.  She raises the stick and starts to swing it non-stop; using all her might.  That man tries to take the stick away from her hands, but doesn’t succeed.  In the end, he flees from the apartment as she swings the stick frantically at him.

……

Bai Jin Xi pats Man Man’s shoulders, “You did very well.”

Man Man wipes her tears and says in a raspy voice, “Officer, will you be able to catch him?”

“Of course.”

_____

The moment Bai Jin Xi pushes open the bedroom door, she sees Zhou Xiao Zhuan running over.

“Leader, I’ve asked the factory director,” he says, “In the beginning, everybody said that they will keep a secret about monitoring Chen Li Jiang.  But one or two of them behaved a little weirdly.  When I pressed them, it turns out that an assistant factory director had told one of his close subordinates about it, and one of the union leaders told his wife about it too.  Although they promised that they did not disclose it to anybody else, I don’t think we can trust them a hundred percent.”

Bai Jin Xi is in deep thought, “So, we can’t rule out the possibility that Chen Li Jiang knew that we had been monitoring him beforehand?”  After all, there is no wall that the wind cannot pass through in the world (there are no absolute secrets in the world).  Especially when it comes to a state-run old factory with complicated connections; secrets are hard to keep.  Who knows who is whose cousin, and who is whose best friend?  The secret is told just like that.

Therefore, in the third incident, Chen Li Jiang has a perfect alibi.

“What should we do now?” Zhou Xiao Zhuan asks.

“Let’s wait and see.”

“Xiao Bai!” Investigator Xiao Qi comes running over, “the offender must have left in a hurry and stepped onto the puddle right before the stairs, leaving two clear footprints.”

Bai Jin Xi feels a surge of energy, and follows him outside right away.  Just when she walks outside, she sees Han Chen squatting by the staircase.  He’s wearing black leather gloves and is examining the footprints with another forensic investigator.

Bai Jin Xi takes a pair of gloves and squats by them as well.  With her face touching the ground, she examines the depth and shape of the print.  Han Chen feels her pushing him.  He glances at her, stands up, and doesn’t say anything.

The front of the staircase is muddy.  The footprint is rather deep; about half a centimeter deep, so the mark is clear.  Bai Jin Xi is in joy: This means that not only they can predict the offender’s approximate height and weight based on the length and depth of the footprint; they might also be able to obtain suspicious materials to infer where he had been or what kind of environment he lives in.  They may even be able to find out his real identity.

She stands up, and looks towards Han Chen.

The sky is about to be lit, revealing a dark blue colour, like a thin lace covering on top of it.  And a couple of seconds later, a ray of light bursts through.

Han Chen leans against the wall in the corridor, lowers his head with a cigarette in his mouth, and lights it up with a match.  The fire dances as he takes a breath from it.  He then holds the cigarette between his fingers wearing black gloves.  He lifts his gaze at her.

Bai Jin Xi says, “The situation is clear.”

Light smoke exits from his nostrils as he breathes, “Mm.”

“But these two footprints, can probably only pin down one person.”

“We need new evidence,” he says.

Bai Jin Xi thinks for a moment and nods, “We’ll review all the details of the case right away.  That evidence must exist.  It’s just that we haven’t discovered it.”

He looks at her and doesn’t say anything.

Bai Jin Xi feels a bit awkward being stared at by him, “What’s the matter?”

He raises his arm to take a breath of smoke, and then uses his pinky to tap the right side of his cheeks, “Face.”

“What about my face?” she uses the back of her hands to rub against her face.  It doesn’t seem like there’s anything.

But what she can’t see is that when she was examining the footprints, her face touched the ground, darkening it.  It’s now an even bigger spot after she smeared it.  It stands out very much on her fair white and smooth skin.

Han Chen smiles, reaches out his hand with the cigarette between his fingers, and uses his pinky to lightly tap her cheek once.

“Here.”

The black leather glove that touched her face is cold, soft, and a sense of toughness.  It also carries a faint scent of cigarettes.

“Oh,” Bai Jin Xi pulls out a tissue from her pocket, and rubs the spot that he touched aggressively; she can feel heat from the skin beneath and a slight pain.  She throws the tissue into the garbage can, “It’s fine.  I’ll go wash my face later.”

She raises her head, and realizes that Han Chen is still staring at her.

“It’s still not gone?” she’s a bit surprised.

Han Chen doesn’t answer.  He walks away with the cigarette in his mouth.

Bai Jin Xi turns around and looks up to the sky.  The sun has already come out; shimmering with golden yellow colour onto the contours of the old city district.  She rubs her stomach, “Hey, let’s go eat breakfast.”

The other investigators arrived late night, while the two of them were at the archives library before chasing after the suspect, running around the whole night.  She’s already feeling very hungry now.  She needs to eat before she can continue investigating the case.

“Mm,” he answers.

Under the shining sun, Bai Jin Xi can’t resist looking at his fair white side profile, and then down to his hand that is holding a cigarette.

There’s no doubt, a man smoking wearing black gloves with hands that are slender and well-balanced looks simply……handsome and mesmerizing.

Just as they take a few steps, Zhou Xiao Zhuan, who is on duty, comes running over from the corner with face showing embarrassment and hesitation.

“What’s the matter?” Bai Jin Xi asks.

He smiles greeting Han Chen, and then tugs her to the side.  Han Chen flicks the cigarette into the garbage can, leans on the wall with his hands behind him, and waits for her.

Bai Jin Xi looks at Zhou Xiao Zhuan suspiciously, “What exactly is the matter?”

Zhou Xiao Zhuan sighs and says in a low voice, “Leader, Forensic Investigator Xu just came.  When he walked out of the corner, he saw Han Chen touch your face, so then he turned around and left.  He looked……tsk, tsk.  Hurry and go chase after him!”

Bai Jin Xi is struck dumb.  She looks at him with a hard to explain expression, “What do you mean touch my face?!  There was a mark on my face!”

“Oh,” Zhou Xiao Zhuan lets out a breath of relief, and then starts to worry, “But Forensic Investigator Xu misunderstood!  Hurry and go chase after him!  He hasn’t gone far, you’ll still catch him!”

“Wait——” Bai Jin Xi wants to say something, but Zhou Xiao Zhuan has already pushed her forward.  She takes a peek, and sees a lean figure that looks awfully like Xu Si Bai walking on the alleyway not far from where she is.

Therefore, she turns around and says to Han Chen, “I need to take care of something first.  It’ll be quick.  Wait for me.”

Han Chen nods.

_____

As for why she has to chase after Xu Si Bai, Bai Jin Xi also feels weird about it.

Xu Si Bai isn’t even her boyfriend; and Han Chen isn’t the person that she has fallen in love with.

Furthermore, shouldn’t it be the guy chasing after a girl when it comes to this?

How come when it’s her turn, it’s she chasing after Xu Si Bai?

But nevertheless, Xu Si Bai is her best buddy.  If he really gets mad about something, she’ll still have to chase after him.

As for Zhou Xiao Zhuan believing that Xu Si Bai has feelings for her?

That’s impossible.

There was one time when Zhou Xiao Zhuan asked her, “Do you think Xu Si Bai likes you?”

Bai Jin Xi counters that thought immediately, “If he really likes me, why isn’t he pursuing me?”

In these few years, there have been a few pursuers in the Jiangcheng police force.  As for Xu Si Bai?  He has kept a good friend relationship with her, and has never hinted about becoming boyfriend and girlfriend.

He has never crossed the line, and never gets too close.

_____

Bai Jin Xi runs on the alleyway for a while, and really does see the familiar figure in the front.

Xu Si Bai is wearing a white shirt and brown casual pants today; tall and refreshing.  His head is slightly bent down, revealing his pale neck.

Bai Jin Xi watches him, and feels warmth inside.  She quietly sneaks behind him, tiptoes, raises her hand, and slaps the back of his head lightly.

He turns around a little startled.

Bai Jin Xi giggles, “What were you thinking?  Why did you leave when you came?”

He pauses for a moment, and then answers, “I suddenly realized that there’s a problem with the corpse in the lab, so I left.”

Bai Jin Xi smiles with both of her hands in her pockets, and asks, “It’s not because you were jealous?  It’s not because I have a new buddy, so my old buddy feels uncomfortable?”

She reaches out her hand and pats him on the shoulder, like she’s an elder brother comforting his younger brother.

Bai Jin Xi smiles.

It’s an exceptionally handsome face, like the sun shining on white snow; dazzling the eye.

“Mm, I am jealous,” he says softly, “He has a bad reputation.  I don’t want to see you together with him.”

So this is the reason.

“Old Xu!  You’re thinking too much,” Bai Jin Xi smiles, “He’s not like that.  He’s quite dependable.”

Xu Si Bai looks at her and doesn’t say anything.

Bai Jin Xi knows that she has captured his tiny hint of childishness behind his quietness, so she puts her arm over his shoulders, places her head against his, and says lightly, “Relax, he can’t compare to you.  You are my No. 1 male friend in my heart.  Even Zhou Xiao Zhuan is behind you!  Oh, but don’t tell Xiao Zhuan.”

Xu Si Bai shifts his pupils to look at her.

Because they’re so close to each other, those pair of long and narrow single eyelid eyes looks even more dark, clean, and clear.  And the light scent of soap from his body also surrounds her.

“This is more like it,” he says slowly with a hint of smile brushing across his eyes.

Bai Jin Xi chuckles as she releases his shoulders.

She can finally stop coaxing him……

It seems like the sunlight in the morning causes one to become lazy; Bai Jin Xi feels exhaustion all over her body, so she decides to sit on the curb to rest.  Xu Si Bai sits beside her.

The sun shines over their heads, lighting up the entire alleyway, as well as their bodies.

No one says a word.

After a while, Xu Si Bai turns to look at her.  His gaze is focused and clear, “Have you eaten yet?”

Bai Jin Xi answers casually, “No.”

He stands up, “Let’s go.  I’ll take you to eat.”

Just when she’s about to accept his offer, she suddenly remembers her plan to go eat with Han Chen.

Xu Si Bai notices her hesitation; thinking that she’s too busy with the case and doesn’t want to eat, his eyebrows furrows slightly.  Just when he wants to talk her out of it, he suddenly raises his head and looks towards the other end of the alleyway.

Bai Jin Xi follows his gaze and looks over as well.

Han Chen has actually come over with Zhou Xiao Zhuan.  Xiao Zhuan is showing a face full of innocence towards her.

It turns out that after Han Chen waited for a while at their original location, he must have felt hungry and asked Zhou Xiao Zhuan, “Where is she?”

Zhou Xiao Zhuan has always been a little scared of Han Chen, so he mumbles, “She probably still has some matters to tend to.  Why don’t you go eat by yourself?”

Han Chen doesn’t say anything more.

He then starts walking over by himself!

Even if you give Zhou Xiao Zhuan a hundred lives, he wouldn’t dare to say to Han Chen: there’s a love affair going on up ahead, so you should take another route to the breakfast stalls!  Therefore, he braces himself and follows him over.

Bai Jin Xi watches Han Chen come closer and closer.  Their eyes meet, and she falls into a daze.

Xu Si Bai turns to look at her.  His voice is gentle, “Let’s go.  What do you want to eat?”

Bai Jin Xi: “I……”

Before she finishes, Han Chen has already walked pass them, disappearing at the end of the alleyway.


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