Winter makes way for spring.
The trees that lost their leaves over winter are starting to grow new leaves again. These Ginkgo trees line either side of the road leading to the university dormitory block for the girls. Underneath the trees, students are standing in groups, catching up with one another about what happened during the holidays. There are also couples in the more secluded spots, cuddling and displaying their affection for each other. After, the romantic spring season has arrived.
Jian Yao’s roommates have not returned to the campus, so she has the room all to herself. She spends her day reading, surfing the net and recording the details of working with Bo Jinyan on a journal. It was a one in a lifetime experience. She wants to keep a note of everything that has happened.
Jian Yao is lying in bed when Fu Ziyu calls.
“Your voice sounds funny. Are you ok? Do you have a toothache? Or is your face swollen because someone hit you?” asks Fu Ziyu.
Jian Yao tries not to laugh. She has a whitening mask on her face. It’s hard to talk when you don’t want to open your mouth.
“Mask! What’s up?” She answers.
Fu Ziyu is amused. He turns to Bo Jinyan and says: “Hey Bo Jinyan, she sounds like a sheep. It’s kinda whiny but it’s cute. Do you want to listen to it?”
Bo Jinyan answers :”Why would I want to hear her distorted voice?”
By this time, Jian Yao has removed the thin piece of sheet from her face: “Hey, I didn’t answer the phone to get mocked.”
Fu Ziyu laughs and tells her the reason for the call:”Let’s have lunch together. I’ve found a flat for you.”
“I’ll treat you. Come over to the campus. There’s a restaurant nearby that does a nice fish dish.”
There’s a lot of small eateries around the campus. Yao picked a restaurant that does a good lamb and fish casserole. It’s a popular choice amongst the students.
- Does he own suits of any other colour? Jian Yao wonders. At least he looks good in a black suit. Hang on, why should she care what Bo Jinyan wears.
They stand at the entrance, waiting for a waiter to show them to their table. Bo Jinyan takes a look around. The place is filled with the smell of chilli, fish and lamb.
“They source their fish from the fish market every morning. It’s guaranteed fresh. And the lamb is from Mongolia.” Jian Yao looks at Bo Jinyan, “Have you tried this before?”
Bo Jinyan take a glance at her. He doesn’t answer her question.
Jian Yao passes the menu to Fu Ziyu: “Is there anything else you want to order?”
Fu Ziyu asks the waiter: “Can we order a steamed fish as well?”
“Sorry, we specialises in lamb and fish casserole. The kitchen prepares the food in the morning. We don’t have any whole fish fillets left. The portions are quite large, it should be more than enough for the three of you.”
It’s a pleasant meal. Jian Yao and Fu Ziyu did most of the talking. Bo Jinyan will add a sentence or two occasionally, but it’s always in his arrogant and inconsiderate manner. They are used to his style by now, so they just laugh it off. When Bo Jinyan leaves the table to take a phone call outside, Fu Ziyu says jokingly to Jian Yao: “What’s wrong with us? Why are we friends with Bo Jinyan? Do we like to bring torture upon ourselves?”
- A Friend?! Bo Jinyan? Jian Yao thinks to herself. They are friends now.
Jian Yao notices that Bo Jinyan did not touch the fish and lamb casserole. He didn’t eat from the beef dish either.
Jian Yao: “Why…?”
“He doesn’t eat red meat.” Fu Ziyu knows what she is about to ask: “He was on a six months cannibal hunt in California a couple of years ago. He stopped eating red meat after that case.”
Jian Yao“I’m sorry….”
“Never mind. He also likes vegetables. See, he finished this whole plate by himself!” smiles Fu Ziyu. “ In his line of work, he comes across a lot of very disturbing sights at the crime scenes, especially during the time when he assisted the FBI investigation. He is used to them now, but it’s because of accumulated experience. The first time he was at a crime scene, he threw up too.”
After lunch, Fu Ziyu brings them to a beautiful apartment building on a quiet cul de sac.
The three bedrooms apartment Fu Ziyu found for Bo Jinyan is on the first place. It has a very minimalist feel. A palette of neutral and grey colours makes the place cold and uninviting. There is a big 2metres x 2 metres bed in the master bedroom, covered in black bed linen. Bo Jinyan takes a look around and nods: “Yes, I like this place. Thank you.”
“We are going to your apartment next.” says Fu Ziyu to Jian Yao.
“Mine? In the same building?”
“Of course, then you can look out for one another.” Fu Ziyu whispers in her eyes: “I think it’s safer for you to have a male friend living close by.”
Bo Jinyan overheads this statement. He has a smile on his face. Jian Yao is not sure what the significance of this smile. Proud? Pride? What is he proud of anyway? That he’s a man, and not a weak and vulnerable woman?
“This neighbourhood is probably outside my budget…”
“Take a look inside first before you decide.” Fu Ziyu pushes her into a small studio apartment on the second floor. It’s neatly furnished. A little chandelier hanging from the ceiling adds a nice feminine touch. There’s two small orange sofas in the middle of the room. There’s a tatami bed next to the window. In the other side of the room is a clawed foot bathtub, with soft pink drapes around it. Jian Yao can already imagine how relaxing it will be soaking the tiredness away after a hard day’s work. This place is perfect for her.
“How much is this studio?” She knows it’s not going to be cheap but it’s worth the extra rent. Fu Ziyu tells her how much the rent is. She makes a quick calculation in her head. “OK! I’ll take it.”
Bo Jinyan looks around her apartment. He takes a look at the views outside the window: “Wow, you’ll never see a sunrise through these windows.” It looks into the wall of a tall neighbouring building.
Come on, at the price she is paying, she can’t expect a sea view too!
He walks to the clawed foot bathtub. He looks at it for ages, and then uses his fingers to examine the surface. Jian Yao thinks it’s weird that a man would stare at her bathtub for such a long time. She walks over and tries to draw him away: “There’s nothing special to see here.”
“Why are you blushing?” Asks Bo Jinyan.
It’s not something Jian Yao expects him to say. She subconsciously touches her face. It’s … a little hot.
“Don’t be shy." His eyes flashes her a haughty glance: “Woman feels the need to be naked sometimes. To be freed from the restraints of clothing. You express that when you are alone. It’s normal human behaviour.”
Jian Yao face is bright red now. But perhaps they have spent enough time together by now. She comes back with her counterattack: “Is this what you read from your psychology books? That’s just theories ‘on paper’, you have no idea how woman actually thinks or behaves.”
Jian Yao spend the next few days decorating her apartment. She looks forward to her first day of work.
Bo Jinyan has been busy too. He bought a car - a Grand Cherokee. They met each other at the lobby a few times. Apparently, Bo Jinyan works mostly from home. He does not need to go to the office every day.
Jian Yao works for a company calls ClearWorld - a well-known international trading company. It’s not easy to get an internship there, but her good grades helped her to secure the job.
On Monday morning, Jian Yao takes the subway to work. The company is in a building located near the embassy district, next to all the high-end shopping malls, entertainment and bars.
It is a magnificent building. Everyone is very well-dressed. They all look like they are very busy. The atmosphere here is quite intense. Jian Yao has heard rumours about an employee who died suddenly of fatigue due to over working. There’s also a story that a girl committed suicide recently because she can’t take the pressure of working here anymore. Jian Yao doesn’t know if they are true. But everyone does look like they are in combat mode and ready to ‘fight’.
Jian Yao reports to the sector that is responsible for automotive parts. This is one of the smaller divisions within the sales department. To her relieve, her reporting manager is quite nice, and her colleagues are friendly and helpful. They are all around the same age as her, so it’s easy to get along with them.
It’s been a week since Jian Yao started work. It’s been a busy week. She is happy to relax in her little apartment.
There’s a knock on the door. It’s a courier package for someone calls Simon.
The courier guy says to Jian Yao: “ I called Mr.Bo. He is not home at the moment. He said to leave this package with you.”
- Simon? She didn’t know he has an English name.
- Simon. It’s a nice name. It suits him.
Just before dinner time, there’s another knock on the door. It’s Bo Jinyan.
They just look at each other. She passes him the parcel. She expects him to leave straight away. But instead, he walks in without an invitation. He starts inspecting the house. Then he takes a seat on the sofa and opens the parcel. It’s a document file. He starts going through the file.
Jian Yao leaves him to do his own thing. She goes back to the kitchenette to prepare her dinner.