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“Is that so?” he asked.

“Of course, I’m very brave.” As soon as she finished speaking, a clown puppet sprung up before her, causing her to scream in shock. “What is that!” she yelled in horror as she hurriedly crawled beneath the sheets.

An evil laughter belonging to Jin Qingyan could be heard coming from the bedroom.

An Xiaoning turned on the side lamp and glared at him angrily. “Jin Qingyan, you’re so foolish. Are you done playing?”

“No, I’m not. Didn’t you say that you are very brave? What were you doing at a graveyard in the evening?”

An Xiaoning revealed the details of the matter to him while sitting on the bed. She then placed a bed table atop the duvet and began scribbling on pieces of yellow-colored paper with a red felt marker.

Jin Qingyan leaned in and watched her write an amulet for the first time in his life.

“Shi Shaochuan tore the one I gave his grandmother. The other members of the investigation unit have requested for one each,” An Xiaoning explained.

“Write me one too, then. Oh, actually, write one for everyone else in our family, including Qingyue,” he said, seizing the opportunity.

An Xiaoning put down the marker and cocked her head towards him. “I can gladly give you one, since you’re my husband. I’m perfectly fine with giving Father and Mother one each too, they’re my parents-in-law. Grandma too. But your sister…”

Before she could finish her sentence, he butted in, “She’s your sister-in-law.”

“I’m not giving her one. Sorry not sorry,” she answered with a sarcastic smile.

“Why do you bother stooping to her level?” he said.

“I’ve said this before. Her matters are none of my business, I’m staying out of them. So, don’t bring this up with me again. We’re still Sisters-in-law by name, but how I treat her in the future will depend on her behavior.”

“Alright. Does it work after just a few random scribbles?” he asked curiously.

She lowered her head and said in a serious tone, “Why don’t you try scribbling on it randomly? Or print a million copies of it? I won’t stop you.”

“Xiaoning, do all victims of murder end up like Wang Fangfang?”

“Of course not. Fate varies from person to person. Otherwise, the world would be in chaos. Everyone is destined to have a different outcome,” she explained.

“Why does Shi Shaochuan detest you so much? I thought you were an intelligent and pretty woman at first glance. Not to mention you have a perfect figure. Just why does he hate you so much?” Jin Qingyan asked in puzzlement.

“Must there really be a reason to hate someone? To be honest, I detest him just as much too. Likewise, I can’t stand the sight of him at all,” An Xiaoning answered as she carefully wrote the last amulet and allowed it to dry with the rest on the dressing table. She then put away the bed table and returned to bed.

“Why did you come to find me, back then?” he asked, embracing her in his arms.

“Why do you have so many questions tonight?”

“I just wanted to know. Quick, tell me,” he urged her for a reply, taking her hand in his.

“I was attracted to your appearance when I was looking through your Wikipedia page. That’s how superficial I am. Besides, I’ve also heard that you’re the nearest within my reach, out of all the greatest young entrepreneurs in S Nation, or in the world, in fact. Well, I just prefer making connections with intelligent people. Do you need another reason?”

He let out a confident chuckle.

“What are you laughing at?”

“Oh, it’s nothing, I just think you have great taste in men. Have you thought about our future?”

An Xiaoning answered with her eyes closed, “I did when we first got married, but I haven’t been thinking about it ever since.”

“Why?”

“I can’t read your fortune, Jin Qingyan. It only crossed my mind recently that this may not be something good. How could it be that I can’t read an ordinary person’s fortune? Unless you’re not someone ordinary,” she said truthfully.

She opened her eyes and looked up at him. “Is there something you’re hiding from me?”

With shifty eyes, Jin Qingyan replied with a chuckle, “I grew up together with Tianze, Ciye, and Mo Li. What could I possibly be hiding from you?”

“That’s true, only ordinary people would be head-over-heels in love with Chi Rui’er anyway.”

“She has nothing to do with me, from now on.”

“You must’ve been bitter when she got together with Gu Beicheng. But then again, like what they always say, love is blind. I do believe that. Otherwise, why would there be so many great catches falling into the hands of a woman?” An Xiaoning sneered.

“I wasn’t bitter about it. Marrying you was the best decision I’ve ever made,” he said, resting his chin on her head.

An Xiaoning placed her head against his chest, hearing every beat of his heart, which was palpitating loudly.

He looked out of the window with bright-lit eyes.

——

Shi Shaochuan hired a professional to perform a ritual for Wang Fangfang, which cost him a hefty sum. The ritual was performed in the day, thus arousing the attention of the villagers. Wang Fangfang’s parents did not object to it, however.

The ritual was finally completed after taking up an entire morning. Shi Shaochuan heaved a huge sigh of relief as he felt like a boulder had been lifted off his chest, upon confirming that Wang Fangfang’s spirit had been destroyed.

Neither An Xiaoning nor the police were aware of the matter.

In a blink of an eye, it was the Eve of the Lunar New Year.

Many shops on the streets were temporarily closed for business to celebrate the festive season, though there were still a few that remained open.

The streets were brimming with crowds, adding to the joyous mood of ushering in the Lunar New Year.

Dressed in a long feathered coat with thick stockings and a pair of boots, An Xiaoning exited the store together with Mei Yangyang.

Having decided to close the store for the holiday, she gave out red packets to Xu Jingwen and Zhang Li and instructed them to return to work only after the Lunar New Year holiday was over.

She decided not to drive that day, since the roads were wet and slippery. Thus, she linked arms with Mei Yangyang and they walked on the streets together.

“It’s the first day of the Lunar New Year tomorrow, Happy New Year. Here’s a red packet for you,” said An Xiaoning as she handed Mei Yangyang a red packet.

“Thank you, Sis,” Mei Yangyang said as she accepted the red packet, grinning from ear to ear.

“I haven’t been tending to the store lately. It’s been hard on you.”

“Nothing of that sort, it’s only my duty. I got to spend a great Lunar New Year this year, all thanks to you, Sis Xiaoning. I’m really grateful to you.”

An Xiaoning gripped her hand and said, “Don’t say that, you’ve had a hard time too. How are things between you and Long Tianze?”

“Things are fine, nothing special. Sis, he mentioned that he’d like to invite you and Brother-in-law to ski tomorrow afternoon. Would you like to come?” Mei Yangyang asked.

“Sure.”

“Alright, let’s go together. I feel safer with you around. I heard we’re going to spend a night there and will only return on the next afternoon.”

“You’re afraid he’ll eat you up?” An Xiaoning teased.

“Of course, I’m a fresh piece of meat, after all,” Mei Yangyang answered, her face blushing as red as a tomato.

An Xiaoning could not help but burst into laughter. “Okay, we shall go ahead with the plan, since he asked.”

On her way home, she suddenly received a call from Mrs. Jin, asking her to return to the family mansion.

The reason being that Shi Shaochuan and Jin Qingyue were going to have lunch at the family mansion before heading to Shi Shaochuan’s house in the evening to accompany old Mrs. Shi.

As soon as she entered through the gate, An Xiaoning was greeted with the sight of Shi Shaochuan seated at the dining table. She put on a smile and exclaimed as she quickly strode in, “Mother, what a sumptuous spread we’ve got for lunch!”

“Xiaoning, come sit down here.”

“Xiaoning, Qingyan has handed your father and me the amulets. How long will they be effective for?” Mrs. Jin asked softly as An Xiaoning took a seat.