Chang Shi Gui looked at Ning Xi, who was soundly asleep beside him. He carefully pulled out his arm which was tucked under her neck, before putting on a jacket and walking to the balcony.
There were a number of missed calls on his phone, and a few unread messages. He placed his hands on the rails of the balcony, staring out at the night sky in a daze.
When Ning Xi came home, and when he opened the door, he was really afraid that Ning Xi would say the one thing that he couldn’t accept. When she said that she was sorry, he even thought that she was bent on leaving him.
She asked him why he didn’t probe further, but what she didn’t know was that once he started asking, the outcome wouldn’t be as it was now. Truth or not, that wasn’t as important as keeping her by his side.
Perhaps even Xixi herself didn’t know this, but she was someone who preferred the soft approach over the hard one. If he had pursued the matter, his anxiety would have caused the situation to escalate, and they would probably have ended up breaking up.
In the afternoon, he had rushed towards the police station, Ning Xi hadn’t left when he arrived. He sat in the car for a long time, and it was only when she came out of the station that he turned his car around and left.
In this world, nobody understood Xixi as well as he did. She could be very soft-hearted, but there were times where she could be cold-hearted too. So long as he chose the right method, he would find the softer parts of her, and walk into her heart eventually.
His phone vibrated again. Chang Shi Gui turned back and looked at the sleeping Ning Xi. After picking up the call, he said in a hushed whisper, “Mom, it’s so late already, why aren’t you asleep yet?”
“I had a couple of coffees this afternoon when I was out, so I’m having trouble sleeping.” Tao Huixue’s tone was calm, and there was a feeling of gentleness and love in her voice. “I already know what happened to Ning Xi.”
Chang Shi Gui was silent for a moment, before acknowledging with a grunt.
Seeing that he wasn’t willing to say anything more on the matter, Tao Huixue said, “Since the matter has been exposed, don’t think too much about it. You should take more breaks in the meantime, and spend more time with her.”
“I know, Mom.” Chang Shi Gui turned around and looked at Ning Xi again, then said, “Don’t drink so much coffee in future.”
“Alright. I’m already so old, I don’t need my son to supervise me.” Tao Huixue chuckled, then sighed again. “Shi Gui, it’s not that Mum wants to meddle in your private matters, but I’m a woman too. I know that it’s not easy. I might not have met Ning Xi in person, but I can tell that she’s a wonderful woman. Now is the most trying time for her. No matter what types of rumours or negative gossip that's spreading outside, you should be clear of your own stand. Only then can you take good care of her.”
“My son shouldn't mistreat the people around him just because of what others say. Do you understand what I’m saying?” Tao Huixue didn’t talk about whether she was satisfied with this future daughter-in-law, but she made clear her demands for her son, from her standpoint as a mother.
He was the one who went all out to pursue his girlfriend. Now that she was in trouble, if he couldn’t stand the words of outsiders and broke up with her instead, that was something that Tao Huixue wouldn’t condone.
“Mum, your future daughter-in-law hasn’t even married into the family, and you are already taking her side so quickly?” Chang Shi Gui let out a throaty laugh, as he felt a sense of relief wash over him. It was fortunate that his mother wasn’t prejudiced against Ning Xi because of this incident, and was worried that he would dump Ning Xi instead.
In other families, the mother-in-law might make things difficult for the daughter-in-law, but perhaps in future, he would be positioned at the bottom of the family hierarchy instead.
After hanging up, Tao Huixue sighed lightly. She turned and looked at the photo by her bedside. It was a picture of their family of three. In the picture, Chang Shi Gui was only a teenager, and he was grinning happily.
However, after that car crash, Chang Shi Gui had never smiled like this again. That accident not only took away her husband, but also her son’s innocence and happiness.
How could she not be aware about her son’s intentions to that lady? Not to mention how the rich ladies would gossip about her behind their backs; even if someone said anything negative about Ning Xi in his face, he would still not leave her side.
Admittedly, she did feel upset when the news broke. However, as she thought about it further, she understood the helplessness and courage that this young lady felt. How many could actually go as far as Ning Xi had gone?
From a mother’s standpoint, she would of course hope that her son would find a homely wife, but from a woman’s perspective, she admired Ning Xi.
However, any consideration was not as important as her son’s preference. She wasn’t willing to be the evil mother-in-law who forced couples apart. She was fine with the current situation. As long as her son got what he wanted, and the woman that she admired would become her daughter-in-law, nothing else mattered.
Ning Xi felt as though she was in a dream again. In the dream, she was walking down a street in the dark. It was drizzling, and she was standing at a cross junction filled with pedestrians, but she didn’t know where she should head to.
Countless people walked past her, but nobody looked at her, nor stopped beside her.
She didn’t know when it happened, but the people around her suddenly disappeared. Instead, she was now surrounded by cars. She could neither move forward nor backward, and she was at a loss.
Every single driver urged her to leave. They honked at her endlessly, and the cars moved even closer to her. In the end, she was surrounded by cars into a small circle that was less than a metre wide.
Suddenly, someone grabbed her hand. She felt as though she was flying, leaving the traffic behind, and finally stopped on the swing on a grass patch.
A light breeze brushed past them, and she seemed to smell a faint grassy fragrance.
She turned around. A man in a shirt embraced her from her back. He was like a ball of warm fire, preventing the cold from assaulting her, but didn’t burn her as well.
Ning Xi opened her eyes, then saw the cobalt blue blanket that covered her. It was then that she recalled that this wasn’t her room, but the master bedroom.
She sat up, then suddenly stifled a laugh, as she lay back down in bed again.
“Team Leader Lee, are you sure it’s here?” Officer Sun looked at the luxurious carved gate before him. Through the seams of the gate, he could see a grass patch and a garden, then there was a European-styled house.
The walk from the entrance of the estate to the gate was only a few minutes long, but the officers had met with a few patrol cars from the estate’s security guards. Even though the officers were in uniform, they were still questioned a few times.
“Miss Ning’s registered address is here. Go and press the doorbell.” The police team leader was a muscular man over the age of thirty. He wore a stern expression, and there was an air of austerity surrounding him.
This group of four officers had established a task force overnight just to investigate this case. Not only did they have to bear with the scrutiny and pressure from society, they had to search for the eyewitnesses from the scene of the suicide back then to get their statements. The only fortunate thing was that these eyewitnesses were mostly cooperative. However, there was little useful evidence, and most of the statements could not be used as testimonies but reference materials.
In less than a minute, the gate with flower carvings opened slowly. When Team Leader Lee and his officers walked in, he saw a man clad in an unbuttoned grey suit without a tie walking out from the big house.
The accompanying female officer immediately recognised that the man walking towards them was Ning Xi’s boyfriend, the head of Chang Enterprises, Chang Shi Gui.
“Nice to meet you, Mr Chang. I’m Dongnan Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Team leader Lee Hao. I’m in-charge of Miss Ning’s case.” Captain Lee shook hands with Chang Shi Gui, then took out his documentation. “I’m here today to find out more about the case from Miss Ning. I wonder if she’s at home?”
“I’ll have to trouble all of you then. Please come in.” Chang Shi Gui gestured to them and invited them to enter the house.
Officer Sun carefully stepped into the house. He secretly took in a sharp breath when he saw the intricate and luxurious interior of the house. The living room of the rich was larger than his entire house.
“There’s no need to take off your shoes. Please just take a seat anywhere.” Chang Shi Gui brought out two platters of fresh fruits and placed it before them, then made some tea for them, before saying, “Please take a seat first, I’ll go and get her.”
When Chang Shi Gui was upstairs, Officer Sun whispered, “Mr Chang seems like a nice person, he doesn’t put on any airs.” As police officers, they met many different types of people throughout their investigations. There were reasonable ones, but there were also bullies who didn’t respect them. In the past, when their cases involved the wealthy, the latter would appear cordial, but in actual fact, they didn’t really care about them. There was never one who would personally brew tea for them.
“Would Ning Xi have liked him otherwise?” The female police officer whipped out her notebook and placed it on her knee. “Don’t you know that it was rumoured that Mr. Chang had put in quite a lot of effort in order to pursue Ning Xi?”
“To think that a man as rich as Mr. Chang would have to spend so much effort to woo a woman.” Officer Sun lamented, “It’s not easy being a man.”
The female officer sneered expressionlessly at him, not bothered to argue with him.
“That’s enough.” Officer Lee cut the useless conversation between the two. “Watch your image.” Seated beside him was a skinny and fair officer who didn’t say a word. He chuckled at Officer Lee’s words, then pushed his spectacles up his nose ridge. “They are just feeling jittery as they are going to meet their idol soon.”
Both Officer Sun and the female officer didn’t dare to say a word. Officer Sun then eyed the man and commented, “Brother Liu is spot on.”
Officer Liu smiled, but quickly stopped as he heard footsteps coming from upstairs.
Officer Sun looked up and saw Ning Xi in a casual outfit, walking down with her bare face. Officer Sun didn’t have the chance to say a word, as Ning Xi spoke up first. “I’m sorry to keep you waiting.”
“No worries, Miss Ning. We also came here without notice.” Team Leader Lee stood up and introduced all his colleagues to Ning Xi, then said, “Miss Ning, the evidence that you provided were all very useful. However, there are some specifics that I would like to ask you again. I wonder if you are agreeable to it?”
Asking the families of victims to recall the pain that they felt back then was also a form of cruelty. However, there were some questions that needed to be asked in order for investigations to continue. In times like these, they were also helpless.
“It’s fine, please feel free to ask.” Ning Xi forced a smile, and sat down by the couch at the side. Chang Shi Gui sat beside her and she held his hand lightly.
Officer Liu saw the couple’s intertwined hands, then withdrew his gaze.
Team Leader Lee flipped a document in his hands. “Miss Ning, according to your neighbour, you were at the scene when the incident happened?”