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“Then?”.

“We then sped to her place immediately and brought her and her husband back to the police station to record their statements. After taking their statements, we held a discussion and decided to detain her husband for a few days in order to make him reflect on his actions. She was rather supportive of our decision too. Yet, she insisted all of a sudden yesterday that her husband be released. We helped to placate their feelings and acted as a mediator between them. We thought the matter was settled there and then. Little did we expect that she’d call again last night to say that her husband physically abused her yet again,” Xiao Li explained, finding the entire situation extremely absurd and ridiculous.

The woman eagerly explained, “We were just playing around, he didn’t hit me. Please release him, quick.”

An Xiaoning noticed that the woman’s face was covered in bruises and her eyes were swollen to the point that she could not open them fully. “If he didn’t hit you, where then did you get the bruises on your face?” she asked.

“I… I fell down accidentally.”

Staring at her, An Xiaoning admonished, “Oh… you had a fall. Every woman wishes for a blissful life after marriage. I believe he’s laid a hand on you more than just a few times and you’d forgive him time and time again after crying, right? Was it because of your children? Or because of your broken family? Is this the kind of life you wish to lead? You called the police, saying that your husband abused you, and we sent our men to help mediate the conflict. Yet, you bit the hand that fed you and blamed us for arresting your husband. Just what are you getting at? In my opinion, a woman is nothing but foolish if she can’t be independent and insist on keeping the family together for the sake of her children. Since you can’t bear to see him being put behind bars, you should’ve sucked it all up when he beat you into a pulp. What did you even call the police for?”

“I was just trying to scare him by calling the police.”

“Do we, the police, seem like a tool you can use to scare him whenever you’d like? If you wish to continue living a life of being abused willingly, then please don’t call us to say that your husband is hitting you again,” An Xiaoning berated her relentlessly. “Xiao Li, ignore all her calls in the future,” she instructed.

The woman flew into a rage all of a sudden upon hearing An Xiaoning’s words. “What kind of police are you guys? You have to render police assistance to citizens in need, no matter how many times they call for help. You actually instructed your men to ignore my calls. Do watch out, I’m going to lodge a complaint against you!” she snapped angrily.

“Sure, go ahead and complain about me. Why aren’t you this feisty when it comes to your husband? Oh, before I forget, why did your husband hit you?” An Xiaoning retorted sarcastically.

“Her husband mentioned in his statement that he could no longer tolerate the way she criticizes him scathingly and leaves him covered in bruises every time they spoke. That’s why he snapped and ended up beating her,” Xiao Li explained.

“Did she admit to what her husband claimed she had done to him?”

“Yes, she admitted it,” Xiao Li said with a nod.

“Stay out of their matters in the future. We’ll have one less trouble when one of them gets beaten to death,” An Xiaoning instructed.

Once she was done saying her piece, she began walking towards the police station. After taking a few steps, she turned around and said to Xiao Li, “Release her husband. I actually really sympathize with him. People who don’t reflect on themselves are truly hopeless.”

Staring at An Xiaoning’s receding figure, the woman said to Xiao Li, “Who does she think she is to criticize me that way?”

“Do you know who Jin Qingyan is?”

“Yes, I do, what about him?”

“She’s the love of Jin Qingyan’s life.”

The woman was shocked speechless.

Just as the five of them entered the police station, they bumped into Team Leader Zhang from the Serious Crimes Investigation Unit. Upon sight of them, Team Leader Zhang said smilingly, “I knew your colleagues couldn’t have accomplished anything without you. See, you still have to come back to help out, don’t you? Has the case about the school murder been solved?”

Peeved by his sarcastic gloating, An Xiaoning said calmly, “The case is closed. Team Leader Zhang, don’t be the pot calling the kettle black. I doubt you can do a better job than my team members if you were to be tasked with solving a murder case without the help of your subordinates.”

The smile on Team Leader Zhang’s face vanished. “You’re not Team Leader An for nothing. You’re still as straightforward and sharp-tongued as ever.”

“Sorry you didn’t get to watch a good show. I still have something to attend to, bye.”

She turned around to leave immediately while the four of them followed closely behind her. Team Leader Zhang took a deep breath, greatly infuriated by her remark.

Once they returned to their office, Ma Jianguo said while clucking his tongue, “Did you see the look on Team Leader Zhang’s face? He was so furious because of your words.”

“We don’t have to bother about those who keep trying to sow discord. It’d be too tiring to constantly be worrying about what others think of you. We’re a team and everything we’ve accomplished is the result of everyone’s joint efforts and hard work.”

“Well said. I’m sorry, Sis Xiaoning,” Gong Le said apologetically.

“What are you apologizing for? We’ve been so busy that we haven’t had the time to eat lunch. Let’s order some takeout, my treat. Ask everyone what they’d like to eat and call for delivery,” said An Xiaoning, handing a few hundred-dollar bills to Ding Liang.

“Alright.”

Since Gu Beicheng agreed to meet her again the day after, Lin Mingxi decided to heed her mother’s advice and headed to the beauty salon for a facial before getting a new haircut at the hair salon. She swapped her curly, blonde locks for a jet-black blowout.

She exuded a whole different vibe.

On the second day of April, she skipped her gym session and instead took a shower. She then put on some makeup and waited patiently until past five in the evening.

Lin Mingxi decided not to drive and instead boarded a taxi to the restaurant they agreed to meet at.

Gu Beicheng had yet to arrive by the time she reached the restaurant.

She took a look at the time and realized that there was still half an hour to go before it was the time they agreed to meet.

She was there early.

Lin Mingxi took a seat and was overwhelmed with an unprecedented feeling. It had never occurred to her that waiting for someone would fill her with a sense of mystery and uncertainty.

He showed up five minutes before the agreed meeting time.

Gu Beicheng was dressed in a casual attire composed of a grayish-white wool sweater coupled with a pair of rolled-hem jeans and a pair of shades.

Lin Mingxi was smitten at the instant that he removed his shades. Looks indeed came first for her, and that was the very reason why she used to fancy Jin Qingyan so much.

She simply could not resist the charm of men who were dashing and yet capable.

Gu Beicheng was slightly surprised to see that she had gotten a new haircut. She looked very different with thinly-trimmed bangs, exuding a different aura from the last time they met.

“Have you been waiting for very long?”

“No, only twenty minutes.”

“Why were you here so early?” Gu Beicheng asked in puzzlement.

“Because… I was afraid that there would be a traffic jam and I didn’t want to be late.”

As usual, Gu Beicheng handed her the menu and said, “You order the dishes.”

Lin Mingxi took a look at the menu and ordered a few dishes before handing it back to him. “Your turn,” she said.

Gu Beicheng ordered two more dishes, after which he asked, “Would you like some alcohol?”

“A little will do,” said Lin Mingxi, thinking that alcohol was sometimes a savior as it would give her courage.

“Alright.”

After ordering the dishes, they continued to remain silent while facing each other. Lin Mingxi then initiated the conversation. “Could you tell me what your ideal type of girl is?”

Gu Beicheng pondered for a moment before answering, “I don’t exactly have a type, neither have I ever thought about it. I guess I just need to have feelings for her.”

“I have feelings for you now,” Lin Mingxi blurted, holding her hands together nervously as she looked up to gaze at him.

“…”

“Gu Beicheng, I want to woo you.”

“…”

“I don’t have much experience in relationships. I tried to woo someone once, to no avail. Although it’s a matter of the past, I feel like that very same urge has returned again,” Lin Mingxi continued.