Jiao Yao lived alone in the old house at the police compound during the holidays. This was where Jian Yao’s family lived before her father’s death. When Jian Yao’s mother remarried, they moved out and this house was left vacant.
It was already late evening, the lights in the compound were mostly lit up and the smell of food could be detected. Similarly, the lights in the police office was also lit up while the police busied themselves.
Jian Yao unlocked her house door only to see her sister, Jian Xuan, lying on the couch and munching an apple while watching the television.
When Jing Xuan saw that her sister was back, she turned around and complained a little, “Why are you home so late? I waited almost half a day for you.”
Jian Yao tossed her bag at her sister and sat down beside her. “My interview ended late. Besides, I thought that you will be home late? Weren’t you going to catch some sleep over at that place.”
By ‘that place, Jian Yao was referring to her stepfather’s house. Both of them had spent quite a number of years there, resulting in a close relationship with their stepfather. However, her stepfather’s house was rather cramped.
This was why Jian Yao chose to move out once she was of age. Jian Xuan spent her time alternating between the two places. But during festivals like Chinese New Year and such, the whole family would usually gather together.
Jian Xuan was currently studying aboard at a university. It took her ten hours to get home which explained why she looked rather haggard. However, once she heard the word ‘interview’, she had sat up immediately, her eyes br.i.m.m.i.n.g with curiosity as she looked at her sister.
“So, I heard from mother that you went there for an interview?”
Jian Yao gave her a smiled before replying, “I did go over there for an interview.” She briefly recounted what happened during the interview without mentioning the content of her translation work due to confidentiality requirements of the job.
Jian Xuan expression turned enigmatic, “So, you haven’t seen that … Mr Bao yet?”
“No.” Jian Yao looked at her and asked, “Why?”
“Well,” Jian Xuan suddenly patted her sister’s shoulder and with a very dignified bitter tone said, “Sister, you must be prepared. I think I might have seen him before. He is simply too frightening.”
Suddenly, an image of the man emerged in Jian Yao’s mind. It was the image of the man which she had glimpsed on the second floor of her house. He looks scary?
Jian Xuan immediately described to Jian Yao what happened.
Last year, during the tomb sweeping festival, Jian Xuan had went back home. One time, when she and her friends went up the mountain to fish, she pa.s.sed by the house and saw the man standing at the second floor.
During that time, Jian Yao was still working in the city and hence did not know what happened.
Although this happened a year ago, Jian Xuan could still clearly remembered what she saw.
She shivered a little, “He was all skin and bones, with sunken eyes and wrinkled skin – he resembled a skeleton. Actually, he looked more like a monster! Later on another occasion, my cla.s.smates saw him in the street wearing a mask covering his face – he most probably did not want to scare anyone with his horrifying look.”
After hearing that, Jian Yao remained silence.
“Just a piece of advice, if that person is really Mr Bao, do not ever look at his face.” Jian Xuan added after a while.
Jian Yao smiled and say, “It’s okay. Come what may, he will not be able to scare me.”
After chatting a while more, Jian Yao looked at the time before turning to look at the police office that was opposite her house. There were still lights emitting from the office.
“Let’s call Li Xun Ran to eat dinner with us,” Jian Yao said to her sister.
“I have to meet my friends,” Jian Xuan suddenly told her sister before leaving in a hurry.
Once her sister left, Jian Yao headed to the window and called Xun Ran. “Xun Ran, it is me, Jian Yao. I am back.”
Xun Ran didn’t reply her immediately and that was when Jian Yao spotted a shadow appearing at the police office’s window.
“First stick your head out of the window, so I can verify your ident.i.ty with my binoculars.” Xun Ran instructed her and Jian could hear a hint of laughter in his voice, making her smile slightly.
The Li’s family and the Jian’s family were very close friend, Xun Ran and Jian Yao had known each other since young. Because of their family’s close relationship, the both of them had often hang out together even though there was a four years gap between the both of them.
After Xun Ran enrolled into the police academy, they hang out lesser. When Xun Ran finally graduated, it was Jian Yao’s turn to head to the university and they had even lesser time to hang out with each other. Time pa.s.sed and before she knows, 3 years had pa.s.sed since Jian Yao last seen Xun Ran.
The sky was already dark, the street lamps slowly lighted up one by one until the end of the street. Under the dark and hazy sky, Xun Ran was in his police uniform, causcally leaning against one of the lamppost and a lazy smile on his face.
Jian Yao walked over to him, a smile was on her face. Once she was in front of him, Xun Ran had hugged her before she could open her mouth to greet him.
“It has been a long time, Jian Yao.” Xun Ran said to her.
Jian Yao was rather surprised by his sudden action but she returned the hug after a while as her smile grew wider.
They headed to one of the restaurants nearby, Xun Ran had chosen a table that was near the window. There was a screen that separated their table from the rest, secluded and quiet. While he was ordering food for them, Jian Yao simply looked at him quietly.
Not looking at her, Xun Ran continued pointing at the dishes he wanted to the waiter when he asked, “Why? There aren’t handsome guys at your campus?”
“Indeed,” Jian Yao answered him in all seriousness. A smile emerged when Xun Ran heard her answer.
Xun Ran’s looks belonged to those upright kind of handsome, neat and clean. Black brows, red lips and white teeth, everyone who looked at him would agree that he was extremely good looking. However, Xun Ran was rather arrogant since young making it hard for people to approach him.
Jian Yao felt that aura was more evident now after he was in the force for these past few years. He was more solemn, more serious and more unapproachable.
After he had finished placing orders, he placed one of his arms on the back of the chair beside him. He was quiet for a few seconds, staring at Jian Yao when he smiled. “Let’s go fishing a few days later?”
When they were younger, the both of them would often run around in the mountains. Their activities included fishing and digging vegetables from the field.
“Sure,” Jian Yao placed her chin on her hands. “I joined the fishing a.s.sociation when I was in school. My skills now is much better than before, you better prepared yourself mentally.”
Xun Ran laughed loudly when he heard her answer. After a while, he asked. “Managed to find a boyfriend yet?”
“Haven’t, too busy.”
They were halfway through their meal when Xun Ran’s phone rang. Picking up his phone, his expression turned solemn when he heard what the person on the line was saying. After he hang up his phone, he took his wallet out from his coat’s pocket, “Something came up in the station, I have to go. You can take your time and eat slowly. Waiter, bill!”
“It is fine,” Jian Yao took out her wallet as well.
When the waiter arrived at their table with the bill, Jian Yao was about to take out her money when Xun Ran had grabbed her hands. His grip was surprisingly strong, making Jian Yao unable to move her hands.
After the waiter had given him his change, Xun Ran suddenly recalled about one of the cases he was handling. Waving a hand at her, Jian Yao moved closer to him. “Recently, there is a human trafficking organization that is in the move over here, their targets are mainly teenagers. Even though you and your sister are too old to be called teenagers, both of you should also keep a lookout. This case is currently being investigated so it isn’t made known to the public yet.”
Jian Yao went blank for a moment when she heard Xun Ran’s voice again. “I was the one who found out what happened when I was sorting through the different cases. I found out that city as well as the area around here, there is a total of nine people who went missing. This number is twice higher compared to the previous year.”
“Then?” Jian Yao frowned.
“I went to do a more in-depth understanding. Out of the nine missing people, eight of them of them are teenagers and they went missing in the city. “He paused for a while before continuing. “According to the records as well as asking some of the other police from other department, I found out that there is indeed a human trafficking organization in the area. Those missing people are mostly likely sold.”
Jian Yao’s frown got even deeper after listening to what he said. Xun Ran had patted her on her shoulders, “I will crack this case.”
Jian Yao sent him to the entrance of the restaurant. Xun Ran had walked off when he stopped and turned back. He saw that Jian Yao was rooted to the same spot, looking at him. At this timing, the sky had already turned dark. The light from the moon as well as the street lamps’ light had woven together, illuminating the streets.
Jian Yao was dressed in a pale yellow sweater coupled with a pair of dark jeans, her long black hair draped off her shoulders, making her looked even more fairer than usual.
“Go in!” Xun Ran shouted and saw Jian Yao nodded. Turning his back on her, Xun Ran rubbed his hands together, blowing some air on them to warm his hands up as he walked towards the station.
At night, Jian Yao relayed what she heard from Xun Ran to her sister. Jian Xuan had appeared to be nervous and had even made plans to buy some self-defense tools to protect herself.
They had chatted a while more before heading to sleep when Jian Yao recalled whenever there is a case, the station would usually be extremely busy with no notion of the time outside. This meant that the fishing plan with Xun Ran had to be pushed back infinitely. She then suddenly thought of the interview, her priority now was that job.
The second day, Jian Yao was still in the kitchen, preparing breakfast when the doorbell rang. Opening the door, Jian Xuan saw a courier who handed her what appeared to be doc.u.ments. Taking it from the courier, Jian Xuan pa.s.sed it to Jian Yao. “Same city from us.”
Opening it, true enough, it was the contract that Zi Yu had told her about. Looking through the contract once more to make sure that she didn’t miss anything out, Jian Yao flipped to the last page of the contract when she stilled.
The other party had already signed his name, ‘Bao Jin Yan’.
Curious, Jian Xuan looked over her sister’s shoulders. “The monster send this? His handwriting is – “
“His handwriting style is just like him,” Jian Yao told her sister. “Even if he is a monster, he is a monster with character.”
“Oh,” Jian Xuan didn’t say anything more.
Jian Yao took out a pen from her bag and was about to sign her name when she stopped. Taking a piece of paper, she practiced signing her name on the paper for over ten times. It was only then when she finally picked up the pen again, signing her name beside his.