Chapter 15 – Chance Encounter
Ying Mei walked to a sofa on display nearby and sat down, closely scrutinizing Li Yiming and Fu Bo every step of the way. She felt that something was off with Li Yiming since he gave her a strange feeling, but she could not quite tell what it was exactly. As for Fu Bo, she had already “forgotten” about him.
Ji Xiaoqin followed Ying Mei around with an embarrassed expression. Her dream from the night before came to her mind again and she felt the strength in her limbs fading away.
“Are you tired? We can take a break if you want.” Ying Mei no longer had her attention on Ji Xiaoqin and attributed the latter’s unease to nothing more than a lack of sleep. She thought that Ji Xiaoqin was a nocturnal person, since otherwise there was no way she could have met Guo Xiang.
“Hey, didn’t you say that she was your classmate? Show me what you can do.” Fu Bo poked at Li Yiming with his elbow and exhorted him with a smirk.
“Stop it.” Li Yiming rolled his eyes and turned around. Ji Xiaoqin was the last person he wanted to have a face-to-face with right now.
“Well, if you’re not going, then I will.” Fu Bo grimaced and walked toward Ying Mei before Li Yiming could stop him. His misfortune had already instilled in him a rather shameless character, since he was going to be forgotten right after.
“Can I sit here?” Fu Bo addressed Ying Mei politely, but instead of waiting for an answer, he sat down straight next to Ying Mei.
“This place is filled with sofas, can’t you find somewhere else to sit?” Ying Mei frowned and replied coldly. She had chosen her spot to observe Li Yiming and Fu Bo from a distance, but she did not expect Fu Bo to approach her on his own.
“It’s because you’re here.” Fu Bo said with a firm voice and a rather aggressive stare that surprised Ying Mei, given his frail physical appearance.
“Oh?” Owing to her cold air, it had been a while since Ying Mei had last met someone who dared to try to start a conversation out of the blue with her.
“You’re also buying furniture?” Ying Mei looked at Li Yiming, who was still busy at the register.
“My friend’s moving into a new apartment. He’s setting himself up in his new home.” Fu Bo smiled; he knew he was getting close to success. ‘The women who possess a cold air, especially those who always seem to be pushing others away, are actually the most fragile and are sensitive inside. Just the right amount of initiative and the protective bubble will be easily shattered. I’m already halfway there if she’s willing to talk to me.’
“Here’s your receipt, sir. Please conserve it. Just to verify, the delivery address is room 906 of building 139, Second District, correct?” The cashier wiped away the sweat on her forehead and gave the receipt to Li Yiming with trembling fingers. For some reason, she wrote down her phone number on the receipt.
“Yes, that’s right.” Li Yiming completely disregarded the cashier and walked toward Fu Bo unwillingly. ‘And here I thought he led a sad life. Can’t tell if it’s the experiences that make someone’s character or the other way around…’
“Your friend lives in building 139?” Ying Mei, who had been paying close attention to Li Yiming the whole time, grew nervous. ‘That’s right in front of Ji Xiaoqin!’
“Are you done?” Fu Bo was also alarmed at hearing Ying Mei’s remark; unlike himself, Li Yiming was not going to be forgotten, so it would be appropriate if everyone knew about his address. He acted as if he did not hear the question, offered no confirmation, and turned toward Li Yiming.
“You’re here? What a coincidence.” Li Yiming tried his best to overcome his embarrassment and greeted Ji Xiaoqin. He could not simply ignore her, but he could at least pretend that he was barely an acquaintance.
“What… a coincidence.” Ji Xiaoqin looked away. Although she had recovered from the weakness in her limbs, a tingling sensation remained between her legs. ‘Guo Xiang’s cousin is right here…’
“You know each other?”
“So you actually do know each other?”
Ying Mei and Fu Bo asked the same question. Only Fu Bo seemed to be amused whereas Ying Mei was baffled.
“College classmates.” Li Yiming explained, a little frustrated. Seeing that Fu Bo had no intentions to leave, he sat down right next to him.
“Hi, I’m Guo Ying. I’m Ji Xiaoqin’s cousin.” 1
“Hi, I’m Li Yiming. This is my friend, Fu Bo.” Li Yiming was confused when he heard Ying Mei’s self-introduction. ‘A cousin? I’ve never heard about Ji Xiaoqin’s having a cousin. The shopping bags, these are all from designer stores… Guo Ying… Unless?’
Fu Bo smiled politely and looked away. He had given up by now, since Li Yiming’s “bragging” turned out to be true. It would a mess when there was the possibility of him seeing Ji Xiaoqin again. ‘Not only that, by the looks of it… I’d bet that these two weren’t just “friends”.’
“You live right next to each other?” Ying Mei finally noticed Ji Xiaoqin’s unease. She then thought about what happened in the morning. ‘Wait… I didn’t find anyone in her apartment… unless it happened somewhere else?’
“It’s a pretty big coincidence. I’ve only moved here recently,” Li Yiming admitted the fact without hesitation, since it was not something that could be covered up. ‘Regardless of whether this Guo Ying is actually Ji Xiaoqin’s cousin or not, it’ll be hard to avoid seeing her again. I might as well be honest. I’ll just move away after three months.’
Fu Bo seemed a little suspicious by Li Yiming’s answer. ‘Don’t tell me he bought the apartment because of this girl…?’
“Oh really? That’s quite the coincidence then.” The answer also caught Ying Mei’s attention. ‘I need to have this investigated thoroughly. It might just be the single most valuable piece of information I’ve obtained today.’
“Well, we need to go. The delivery is going to arrive soon.” Li Yiming glanced at Ji Xiaoqin, who still seemed paralyzed by nervousness, sighed, and pulled Fu Bo away from the sofa.
“Bye.” Ying Mei stood up with a smile. Ji Xiaoqin managed to stammer out a farewell and followed suit.
“What is it, are you tired? You should get some sleep.” After Li Yiming and Fu Bo left, Ying Mei continued her shopping trip with Ji Xiaoqin as if nothing had happened, but her attention was soon caught by someone who passed through the shop’s entrance in a wheelchair as Li Yiming left the shop.
It was a young woman dressed in a white one-piece with a pair of sunglasses. The long hair that framed her face fell down onto her chest, and, with her delicate features, conferred to her the air of a princess on an afternoon break. However, her skin was pale to the point of hinting at some kind of long-term illness. A bodyguard in a black suit pushed her wheelchair from behind. When she grazed past Li Yiming, although she stayed expressionless, she noticed something that unsettled her.
The bodyguard noticed her reaction and slowed down, a little confused. However, the woman frowned and waved with her hand, prompting the bodyguard to resume his pace.
“A shame…” Fu Bo, with his hands in his pockets, leaning against the escalator, seemed to be deploring the woman’s condition.
“Maybe she’s just injured, you know?” Li Yiming knew from Fu Bo’s tone that he was referring to the young woman, who was given beautiful features and a gentle air, only to lose the ability to move around like a normal person. However, Li Yiming was still too preoccupied with finding a way to handle his “neighbor”, so he did not have much attention to spare for the young woman.
“I’m not talking about her legs. I don’t think the problem lies with her legs.”
“What do you mean then?”
“She’s in a wheelchair, but her legs look healthy enough. I didn’t notice any kind of muscle problem. I’d bet that she’s on a wheelchair is because she’s blind.”
“What?” Li Yiming looked back, a little surprised, but the girl had already vanished from sight.
“She just walked past two handsome young men, and I didn’t see any response at all. I’d understand if she was the kind of person to be naturally cold or shy, but I don’t see her belonging in either category. Also, she’s wearing sunglasses inside a building. I find it hard to explain otherwise.” Fu Bo also looked back; he was the professional who was explaining his expertise to Li Yiming.
“That’s why you’re saying that she’s blind?” Li Yiming was speechless. ‘Is this some kind of hidden talent for stay-at-home shut-ins?’
“Did you see the knot on her braces? She didn’t tie those herself, and the way they were done was also unfit for the dress. She should have used invisible braces… forget that, with the size of her chest, she doesn’t even need them. The most important thing is the pair of sunglasses. The color of the lenses has is a very poor pick given her skin tone and is also a mismatch for her facial features. Someone else must have picked them for her. I don’t think a girl with her appearance would make such a rudimentary mistake. Unless… she can’t see what she’s wearing.”
“What the hell?” Li Yiming was impressed. ‘We just walked past her, and he caught that many details? Are you serious?’ Somehow this gave Fu Bo’s one-night-stand tales some credibility.
“What else can I do aside from observing the world itself unfold before me?” Fu Bo shook his head and pushed open the mall’s door, somewhat proud of the display of his skills.
* * *
“Ying Mei was mistaken.” Inside a coffee shop, Tian Yan removed her sunglasses and massaged her sore nose bridge; she usually had no need for the apparel, since she barely went out at all. She had borrowed the pair of glasses from Ying Mei, and the size was not a great fit for her nose.
“Mistaken?” Bing Shuai waved his hand. The two bodyguards standing behind him caught the signal and backed away.
“It’s not fifty percent. It’s sixty.” Tian Yan took a deep breath and looked at the door of the coffee shop. On the other side of the floor, Ying Mei and Ji Xiaoqin were buying shoes. Ying Mei, who was trying on a pair of stiletto heels, glanced at the glass pane of the coffee shop inconspicuously from time to time.
“Sixty…” Bing Shuai stirred the coffee with his spoon and his countenance sank. The more unexpected the change, the bigger the problem. He had worked with Ying Mei ever since she was a child, and he knew about her prudence enough to be confident that she would not make such a grave mistake. In other words, between the time Ying Mei reported to him and just now, Ji Xiaoqin’s karma had grown by another ten percent.
“Also, these two people at the elevator earlier.” Tian Yan paid no attention to Bing Shuai’s change of countenance and continued her monologue.
“I noticed them. They were talking to Ying Mei earlier.” Bing Shuai put his spoon down and pushed his cup to the side. It was just a habit for him to order some coffee. He did not actually like drinking it.
“One of them was very ordinary, but the other one…” Tian Yan paused. She seemed to be somewhat confused.
Bing Shuai stared at Tian Yan and waited patiently for Tian Yan to organize her thoughts.
“I couldn’t see him.” Tian Yan spewed out the rest of her observation slowly, without a hint of panic or shock.
Some plot straight out of a Sherlock Holmes novel…
1. Note, it’s common for people in China to call the in-laws (or even before they actually become in-laws) the same way as their family.