Huo Xiao Lu's story began when she was eleven years old.
It was love at first sight. She liked Su Bei the first moment she laid her eyes on him.
His parents are also ex-workers from the textile factories. But unlike her, he has lots of friends. He seems to be living a happy and contented life.
She has nothing. She does not like going home. Some nights, she can hear squeaky beds, heavy breathing and moaning sounds. Each time, a different man walks out of her mother’s bedroom in the morning.
In 2003, her father abandoned the family. He went off to Dong Guan with another woman. But rather than feeling sad, Huo Xiao Lu felt relieved. She was fed up with the constant fighting between her parents.
However, the peaceful times didn’t last long.
Two years after her father left, her mother was made redundant.
A middle aged woman with no formal education or specialised skill. She turned to prost.i.tution to support herself and her daughter.
Her mother did her best to solicit in areas away from Huo Xiao Lu’s school and where her friends live. Her cla.s.smate a.s.sumed her mother was working as a labourer out of town. But every time Huo Xiao Lu takes the money to pay for school fees, she feels dirty and disgusted.
She didn’t always hate Ruan Ming Huai. But she decided to ‘befriend’ her after Ruan started the rumours about Su Bei being an h.o.m.os.e.xual.
No one can defame her prince. She decided to become Ruan’s friend first, then she will find an opportunity to avenge her.
The murder was an impulsive decision.
That evening, Ruan Ming Huai received a call from Su Bei. Ruan asked Huo Xiao Lu to leave first. The arrogant and joyous smile on Ruan’s face infuriated her.
• Su Bei was falling for this shallow and bossy girl?
She tried to persuade Ruan Ming Huai not to meet up with him: “Didn’t you say you are over him? Why do you still want to go?”
But Ruan knew her secret. She said scornfully: “Do you think I don’t know how you feel towards Su Bei? Shame on you for trying to steal your good friend’s boyfriend.”
Huo Xiao Lu secretly followed Ruan Ming Huai up the hill.
Su Bei hadn’t arrived yet. So she appeared and apologised to Ruan Ming Huai. She a.s.sured Ruan she will stay away from Su Bei…
When she saw the blood gus.h.i.+ng out of Ruan Ming Huai’s wound, and her body convulsing, a great joy swept over her.
It was a thrilling experience.
A few hours later, she found Su Bei on top of an empty watch tower.
This is the place he usually hangs out when he is not happy. Sitting by himself, looking far into the horizon. She found out about this place years ago. She used to stand quietly at the corner, just looking at him…
That night, she approached Su Bei: “What’s the matter? Is something bothering you?”
Su Bei’s face was very pale. He looked like he was still in shock. “Ah… nothing… Xiao Huo, I have to leave town tonight. I might not see you again. You take care.”
This was a bolt from the blue for Huo Xiao Lu. She thought for a moment, then said to him: “Do you have enough money? I have some saving at home I can lend to you. Come with me.”
Su Bei had no idea this innocent and quiet looking girl had other motives.
His original plan was to rob Ruan Ming Huai. He knew she had the money from the cla.s.s.
Anyway, his grades weren’t good and he won’t stand a chance in getting into the university. He would take the money and travel to Dong Guanto find his parents. But then, he thought more about it. Ruan Ming Huai’s parents are rich. And she has a crush on him. Perhaps she would help him pay off his gambling debts.
So he was late to their meeting. But when he got there, he found her dead. He saw that the backpack was still there, and the money too. Without thinking, he grabbed the pack and ran off. It wasn’t until he was half way down the hill he realised that taking the money would make him a murder suspect.
He panicked. He found an old air raid shelter. So he buried the backpack under a pile of old leaves. Then he left.
He was contemplating his next step when Huo Xiao Lu appeared.
Huo Xiao Lu put a sleeping pill into the gla.s.s of water she gave Su Bei. When he was unconscious, she tied him up. Her mother is often away for weeks at a time. She knew her mom was not due back for at least a week.
But even if mom did come home, she would be able to handle it.
There are more police cars arriving at the scene.
An officer is looking after the two teenage criminals in the lounge. Bo Jinyan and another officer are searching the house for other evidence.
Jian Yao stands at the entrance. She takes a look at Huo Xiao Lu. Huo has no expression on her face.
Footsteps coming from the stairs.
A middle aged woman with heavy make up, a black dress and black stockings appears.
“What’s the matter? Who are you?” She raises her voice: “Where’s Xiao Lu? Xiao Lu?”
She tries to enter the house but is blocked by Jian Yao: “Sorry, I am with the police. We cannot let you in at the moment.”
The woman sees Huo Xiao Lu handcuffed, standing inside the lounge. There is disbelief on her face.
“Xiao Lu…you… Why are you arresting my daughter…?”
“I killed someone, Ma.” Huo Xiao Lu tells her mom in a calm voice, as if she is talking about someone else.
The woman is shocked.
“We need to go to the Police Station together….” Jian Yao puts her hand on the woman’s shoulder.
To everyone’s surprise. Instead of running toward her daughter, the woman is heading towards the stairs. She is trying to run away?!
But perhaps she is too nervous, she misjudged her footing and was about to trip down the stairs. Jian Yao quickly grabs her by her shoulder to help her regain her balance.
Jian Yao quickly stands in front of her on the top of the staircase.
“Get out of my way.” The woman tries to push Jian Yao aside.
Jian Yao is standing on the edge of the step. Because of the push, she loses her balance and falls down the stairs.
“Jian Yao!” Bo Jinyan rushes out of the unit.
Jian Yao is falling with her face facing the top of the stairs. She can see Bo Jinyan in mid-air.
The next thing she knows, her mouth ‘kisses’ the ground. She is rolling down the stairs. Fortunately the flight is not long.
Her whole body is aching. Her head hurts from hitting the wall. As she struggles to get up, she sees Bo Jinyan swatting beside her. He wraps one arm around her shoulder and one around her waist. She rests in his warm and familiar embrace.
“Are you ok?” He looks displeased.
“I’m fine.” Jian Yao tries to stand up by pus.h.i.+ng off with her hand on his shoulder. A sharp pain is coming from her left ankle. She falls back into his arms. Bo Jinyan tightens his arm. Her face is pressing onto his chest. They are so close that she can hear the pounding of his heart.
Bo Jinyan looks even more annoyed now. He looks down at Jian Yao.
Two officers heard the noise and came out to check if Jian Yao is fine.
Bo Jinyan takes a cold look at Huo Xiao Lu’s mother. He turns to the officers: “It’s fine. You can continue with searching the house.”
Jian Yao pulls Bo Jinyan’s sleeve: “I want to say something to her.”
Bo Jinyan stands up, with her in his arms, he turns so that Jian Yao can see Huo’s mom.
“She is your daughter. You can’t just run away like that. Even though she has killed someone, you cannot give up on her.”
The woman’s face changed. She drops to the ground, looking sad and in despair.
“Are you done?” Jian Yao hears Bo Jinyan’s voice.
“Uhh… yes.” She says softly.
He carries her down the stairs and walks toward the car.
More police cars arrive at the scene. Behind them, two officers are escorting Su Bei and Huo Xiao Lu downstairs. Huo’s mother follows behind. She is weeping as she walks
Jian Yao secretly hopes that time will be still, and she could remain in his arms forever.
Jian Yao looks at Bo Jinyan. His face looks annoyed. Very annoyed. She wonders what made him so angry.
“Maybe you should let me down.” says Jian Yao. “Other people are walking this way.”
Bo Jinyan looks at her: “So, what does me carrying you have to do with other people? ”
Jian Yao: “….”
The officer in charge has arrived. He sees Bo Jinyan carrying Jian Yao: “Is Xiao -Jian alright?”
She is just about to reply when Bo Jinyan speaks on her behalf: “She is ok. It’s not serious.”
Bo Jinyan looks at the people around him. He adjusts the position of his arms slightly so that Jian Yao is more comfortable. Then he starts:
“Huo Xiao Lu is the murderer. We found evidence…”
He explained what’s happened to the officer. They listen intently to what Professor Bo has to say.
And at that time, Jian Yao was lying in his arms. She blushes.
• He is doing his briefing in front of everyone while holding someone in his arms.
After he finishes, he says to the officer in charge: “We will leave it. You can take over from here.”
The officer in charge is surprised. Bo Jinyan is like a new gem the department has discovered. Now that he has seen how good Bo Jinyan is, he wants all the help he can get.
“Can you stay behind to guide the rest of the search? I can send a couple of officers to accompany Xiao Jian to the hospital…. Xiao Chen, Xiao Zhou. Please go with Xiao Jian.”
When Jian Yao heard Xiao Chen’s name, something tells her it’s not a good idea.
As expected. Bo Jinyan gives Xiao Chen an icy glance. Xiao Chen looks a little embarra.s.sed too. He stays quiet.
“Gee.. you really know how to choose…”Bo Jinyan says sarcastically to the officer in charge.
The officer in charge is perplexed at his comment. Jian Yao elbows Bo Jinyan lightly in his chest.
Bo Jinyan looks down at her. Then he tells the officer in charge: “My work here is done. Later, I will follow up with the criminal a.n.a.lysis. Goodbye.”
He gently put Jian Yao down in the pa.s.senger seat. Jian Yao thought he’s going to close the door and walk to the driver’s seat. But he did not.
He switches on the light inside the car: “Turn around and let me take a look.”
Jian Yao leans over slightly: “I’m alright. Only a few scratches.”
He didn’t answer.
His s.h.i.+rt is stained with the dirt that was on her face. He holds up her face with his hand and examines it under the light.
He is still grumpy….
His cool fingertips gently touching a swell on her forehead. She puts her fingers over the part he just touched. Oh, there is a reasonably sized b.u.mp.
“Oh great!” He said “You almost split your head.”
Jian Yao: “… it was an accident.”
He looks into her eyes: “Is it painful?”
It’s actually not that bad, but Jian Yao answers softly: “Mmm… quite painful.” She lifts her eyes to look at him.
His answer is brisk: “Just endure it.”
But then, he adds: “I will put some ice on it when we get home.”
He looks at her feet: “Take off your shoe.”
He holds her left foot with his hand. As his fingertips touch her sole, it feels cold and ticklish. Her face is blus.h.i.+ng again.
But he doesn’t seem to notice her shyness. He examines the foot and says: “A little swollen, but nothing major. A lot less spectacular compared to the horn on your head.”
Jian Yao gives him a glance of disapproval.
What a day. She sighs: “Would the knock make me more stupid…”
Bo Jinyan has gone back to the driver’s seat and started the car. He starts to get out of the complex: “Don’t worry, my IQ is 180, doesn’t matter if you lose a bit of your IQ. You have me.”
That’s sweet…in a strange sort of way.
She complains: “Is that meant to be words of comfort?”
Bo Jinyan gives her a smile. They are back on the main road. Home is not far away now.
Bo Jinyan stops at a red traffic light.
He turns to look at Jian Yao. She looks so lovely in her sleep.
After a long stare, he takes his eyes off her and continues driving.