Couple of Mirrors – Chapter 12: My Only Good Fortune

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As Xu Youyi and Yan Wei leave the church, a voice calls after them: ‘Xu Youyi!’

Xu Youyi turns. ‘President Wang?’

Standing behind them is the president of Huaxia Press, Xu Youyi’s publisher. ‘I’ve finally tracked you down!’ he says.

‘You haven’t been to our publishing office lately, and we couldn’t reach you by telephone,’ President Wang explains. ‘I thought I might see you at Zhang Wan’s funeral service, but I had no idea you were planning to drop such a bombshell…’

‘My apologies, President Wang,’ says Xu Youyi. ‘I haven’t been well these past few days, and I’m staying temporarily with a friend. I’ll leave my friend’s telephone number with you.’ She adds, ‘Why were you so anxious to find me? Is there a problem with the new book?’

‘Well,’ says President Wang, ‘because of the newspapers’ irresponsible reporting, many bookshops no longer want to stock your book, and are even asking for refunds. So I wanted to talk to you about having a ball or something, just to try and smooth things over…’

Xu Youyi considers this. ‘Mm,’ she says, ‘I just offered a reward for the arrest of the murderer today. If we held a ball, that would give me another opportunity to clarify and explain the matter, which should have a positive effect on public sentiment.’

‘Why don’t you make the arrangements for the ball,’ she tells President Wang. ‘Once everything is ready, you can telephone me at Baihua Studio.’

Yan Wei hands President Wang a business card with the studio’s telephone number and address on it.

Later that evening, Xu Youyi looks subdued as she and Yan Wei finish dinner. ‘Are you worrying about the ball?’ asks Yan Wei.

‘Yes,’ says Xu Youyi. ‘I want a divorce from Zhou Heng, but we haven’t even got to that point yet, and so many things have already happened. I’m worried that…’

Yan Wei interrupts her. ‘With that over-cautious attitude, you don’t seem like the modern woman in your book at all.’

‘You read my new book?’ asks Xu Youyi.

‘I read a bit of it last night,’ says Yan Wei, a little awkwardly.

‘You’re right,’ says Xu Youyi. ‘Faced with these unknown storms ahead, I’m nowhere as brave as the female lead in my novel…’

Yan Wei leans forward and puts a hand on Xu Youyi’s shoulder. ‘I think you can be,’ she says.

‘Believe in yourself,’ she adds.

‘Do you really think I can?’ asks Xu Youyi.

‘Really,’ says Yan Wei, as they look into each other’s eyes.

Xu Youyi puts her hand over Yan Wei’s, and grips it tightly. ‘Thank you, Yan Wei…’

At this point, the telephone rings, and Xu Youyi goes to answer it. ‘It must be the publisher,’ she says.

Yan Wei puts a hand over her chest. Strange, she thinks. Why is my heart beating so quickly?

And then, a moment later: Am I having a heart attack?

‘Yes, President Wang, I know,’ says Xu Youyi into the telephone. ‘Thank you for all your hard work.’ As she hangs up, she sneezes, and sneezes again as she reaches for a tissue.

‘Are you all right?’ asks Yan Wei.

‘I’m fine,’ says Xu Youyi, blowing her nose. ‘I probably just caught a chill last night…’

Yan Wei looks thoughtfully at the sofa, where Xu Youyi slept the night before.

***

‘Yan Wei, are you coming to the ball with me?’ asks Xu Youyi, who’s wearing a rather fetching polka-dotted dress and matching hat.

Yan Wei demurs. ‘Er, I still have some photographs to develop…’

‘Mm?’ asks Xu Youyi. ‘Have there been customers these last few days?’

‘Mm…’ says Yan Wei. ‘Yesterday… two customers came while you were out.’

‘All right then,’ says Xu Youyi, looking disappointed. ‘Then I’ll leave you to it. I’ll go and get ready.’

‘Xu Youyi!’ Yan Wei calls after her.

Xu Youyi turns. ‘Hm?’

‘Whatever happens, ‘ says Yan Wei. ‘I’m here.’

Xu Youyi spins on her heel, runs back, and throws her arms around Yan Wei.

Yan Wei, she thinks, you’re my only good fortune in the midst of all this misfortune.

***

Sounds of clanging and scraping echo through the basement of the studio, where Yan Wei is industriously removing bricks from the wall. Her many weapons lie beside her.

Several bricks later, she has managed to create a hollow space between the inner and outer walls. She places the weapons inside. You’re going to have to make some room so that she has a place to sleep, she tells them.

Just then, Detective Jiang Bin and his subordinate Chen Yong walk into the studio. ‘Is anyone here?’ asks Chen Yong.

‘There doesn’t seem to be anyone here, boss…’ he adds, looking around.

Jiang Bin’s eye is caught by the photograph of Yan Wei in military uniform with her cat on her lap.

‘Do you want your photograph taken?’ asks Yan Wei, suddenly appearing behind Jiang Bin.

Jiang Bin looks at her, then looks at the photograph again.

‘How are you,’ he says. ‘I’m Detective Jiang Bin from the police station. I would just like to clear up a few things with you.’

He continues, ‘Do you know Hongmei?’

***

Please view the original manhua here.

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