Zhao Hong originally thought that the interview would be over the moment Zhang Qingyun had asked them to stop filming. Instances where relatives made accusations against celebrities once they gained fame were commonplace. In the eyes of these relatives, a celebrity’s rise to fame meant a life of wealth too. And if they were rich, why couldn’t they help their relatives?
And in order to make themselves look good, many celebrities would choose to buy off such relatives. It was rare to see someone like Ning Xi who would rather be criticized by others than be willing to spare a single dollar to settle the matter.
Zhao Hong’s first reaction to Ning Xi’s offer to a big scoop was anxiety. She had a nagging feeling that Ning Xi’s news was going to be a lot of trouble. However, in the current newsworld, what was feared the most wasn’t that the news was going to be problematic, but the lack of news. She turned and shared a look with the cameraman, then nodded at Ning Xi. “Thanks Miss Ning, for offering such a big gift.”
The smile on Ning Xi’s face disappeared, and she said after a pause, “I suspect that my mother’s death wasn’t a suicide.”
Zhao Hong almost dropped the cup in her hands. She felt that wasn’t only a big scoop, it was a tricky one. She was almost afraid of taking it on.
“Back then, I was still underage. After my father’s … untimely demise, my mother was upset for a long time, but she never showed any signs of depression.” Ning Xi stirred her coffee lightly, and the light clinks on the cup sounded somewhat eerie. “If Miss Zhao is free later, you can accompany me to the police station.”
Zhao Hong stammered, “To … to the police station? What for?”
“Since there are suspicious points to the case, then we’ve to make a police report.” Ning Xi took out the teaspoon, then scraped the edge of the cup lightly and mixing the coffee bits at the side back into the cup. “If I don’t make a report now, it’ll be past the statute of limitations. If you can be onsite to record the scene where I make the report, wouldn’t this be a massive piece of news?”
Zhao Hong turned towards Zhang Qingyun, and realised that he was as shocked as her. He obviously didn’t know about this beforehand.
Having been a reporter for so long, Zhao Hong naturally knew how major this piece of news was. She clenched her teeth, then nodded her head in agreement.
“Initially, I was waiting for the Chinese New Year season to end before raising this matter. But since these relatives of mine can’t wait any longer, I should just blow this matter up.” Ning Xi stood up, then turned to Zhang Qingyun. “Brother Zhang, I’m sorry.”
She knew that this matter would definitely affect Jiuji. However, if she didn’t try to boost her popularity as much as she could, no matter how much evidence she brought before the police, her case wouldn’t be taken seriously.
She was only seventeen that year. In order to leave that group of relatives, she had given the majority of her father’s payouts and the house that her parents left for her. She had sacrificed all of that, just for this day.
Having lost her parents at seventeen, her aunt became her legal guardian. In order to get her aunt's agreement to go abroad, she had given up everything. Fortunately, her aunt’s conscience hadn’t hit rock bottom, and Ning Xi wasn’t entirely broke when she left for the States.
The perpetrator of her dad’s accident was a chauffeur. Later, due to good behaviour, he spent less than ten years in prison. What was even more baffling was that the perpetrator was still willing to fork out a large sum of money as compensation. An ordinary chauffeur with the ability to take out so much money, why wouldn’t anyone be suspicious?
When the ruling was passed, her mother wasn’t convinced of the ruling. She raised an appeal, and even contacted a reporter, raising her suspicion that this driver wasn’t the real perpetrator.
Yet, only a few days later, her mother committed suicide by jumping off a building. That reporter never appeared again. At that time, her grandparents, who were still alive then, had accepted the settlement money on Ning Xi’s behalf, and withdrew the appeal.
After going overseas, she would often think, if she had been of age back then, or if the matter had been given sufficient attention, the outcome might have been different.
Zhao Hong sat in the car and looked at Ning Xi, who held the document bag with an impassive look. She asked hesitantly, “Ning Xi, do you really want to do this?”
It was already so many years after the incident. Even if the statute of limitations hadn’t passed, the evidence had long been insufficient. In the end, the issue might simply just die down.
“Back then, I couldn’t do many things. Now, I’m able to.” Ning Xi turned and looked out of the window. “If that’s the case, how could I simply give up because it’s difficult?”
Zhao Hong remained silent after listening to Ning Xi’s words. Ning Xi was probably the most popular female celebrity in the country now. Her life story was something that most reporters would already remember.
When she was young, she was an excellent student. However, an accident occurred as a result of her being bullied at school, and both her parents passed away eventually. She had left the country before she was of legal age. In the end, she became extremely popular with her goddess-like looks, and even got together with a boyfriend that all women desired. A seemingly colourful life, but the amount of pain that she suffered through the course of it, only Ning Xi would know.
“Ning Xi, why did you enter the entertainment circle?” Zhang Qingyun came to a sudden realisation - he had never really understood Ning Xi.
Ning Xi didn’t directly answer his question. “Six years ago, I came back to the country. I tried to make a report then, but the case fell through because of the lack of evidence.”
Zhang Qingyun, like Zhao Hong, remained silent when he heard this.
Six years ago, Ning Xi would have only been nineteen. Based on what he knew, that was the hardest part of Ning Xi’s life.
A young lady at the age of nineteen. Her father passed away in an accident, and her mother committed suicide from depression. Without any evidence, she made a police report, alleging that her mother might have been murdered. Who would believe her words?
Zhang Qingyun felt somewhat stifled. He didn’t know if it was because he learned that Ning Xi didn’t join the entertainment industry for her acting career, or if he was heartbroken by Ning Xi’s experience.
It might even be a combination of the two, but he wasn’t sure anymore.
And there was also the thick envelope in Ning Xi’s hands. How much energy did she expend over the years in trying to gather all these?
Zhang Qingyun’s car stopped at the police station. Ning Xi pulled out her phone and dialed Chang Shi Gui’s number. The call connected almost immediately.
“Shi Gui …” Ning Xi turned and looked at the police flag waving above the police building. “I brought forward a decision. Originally, I wanted to leave the unhappy matters for after the new year.”
It would be the Lunar New Year in about two months’ time. She had initially planned to celebrate a warm new year with Chang Shi Gui, because she hadn't celebrated the festival in a long time.
However, it appeared that the plan was not going to materialize. She was aware of the outburst that would ensue once she stepped into the police station. Given the Chang family’s social standing, how would they accept a woman like her into the family?
No matter what, there were some matters … that would bound to hurt eventually.
“Xixi, where are you?” Chang Shi Gui noticed the strange tone in Ning Xi’s voice. He immediately stood up and left the meeting room, leaving the executives in the meeting, and walked to the corridor. “Xixi?”
“I’m outside the police station.” Ning Xi forced a smile. However, to Zhao Hong, this smile felt forced.
“You …” Chang Shi Gui came to a realisation, as he clutched his phone tightly. “No matter what you’re going to do, I’ll be by your side.”
“Thank you.” Ning Xi raised her head. “Shi Gui, thank you.”
She put down the phone and closed her eyes. When she opened her eyes again, her gaze was a sea of calm. “Sister Zhao, please start the recording.”
Zhao Hong observed her worriedly. “Are you alright?”
“I’m fine, thank you.” Ning Xi retrieved her sunglasses from her bag and put them on, then alighted from the car.
She didn’t walk quickly, but her every step was stable. Looking at her back view, Zhang Qingyun was suddenly reminded of the first time he brought Ning Xi to meet with Jiuji’s boss. Ning Xi’s steps were the same, every single step etched into his heart.
The Chief of Dongnan’s police department was in a good mood. They had just cracked a major case and apprehended all the perpetrators, consoling the spirits of the victims.
However, his mood was very quickly dampened, as he received news that a victim’s family had brought evidence to make a report. This case was an eight-year-old case, and the victim’s death had been ruled as suicide.
“A suicide from eight years ago?!” The chief’s expression soured. An old case like this would be extremely difficult to investigate. “Does the person have any evidence that it wasn’t a suicide?”
The police officer nodded. “The evidence that was presented points to some areas of suspicion on the suicide.”
When the chief heard this, he thought for a minute, before clenching his teeth and saying, “Since there are doubts, we should investigate.” No matter how hard the case was, they had to at least try, so that they could be worthy of the uniforms they donned.
“Is the person who filed the case still in the station? I’ll go and speak with her on the details of the case.” The chief rose from his desk, then put on his police hat.
Since the police chief had given his orders, they couldn’t say anything more. Hence, they also didn’t tell the chief that the person filing the report was a popular actress.
When the police chief walked towards the main office, he saw the strange expressions on his officers’ faces. He frowned, then asked the police officer beside him, “Where’s this person at?”
The police officer whispered, “In Sister Wang’s office.”
When the police chief pushed the door into Sister Wang’s office, he saw a stylish young woman in sunglasses sitting across Sister Wang. He was astonished; this person didn’t seem like the family of a victim, but a fashionista.
Sister Wang heaved a sigh of relief at the sight of the police chief. She rose and said, “Chief, this is the person who filed the report, Ning Xi.”
Ning Xi removed her glasses. The chief noticed the redness at the corner of her eyes. He walked over and shook her hand, “Hi, Miss Ning.”
When the police officers witnessed the calmness of the chief, they half suspected that he didn't know who she was.
“Hi.” Ning Xi noticed that this chief was a strict person, so she repeated her doubts over the case one more time.
“The evidence that Miss Ning provided is indeed important. However, why is it that you’ve come to report this only after so many years? You should know that …” It was difficult for the chief to break the news that the longer such cases dragged, the harder it was to investigate. Now, even if they could establish that the victim was murdered, it wasn’t as easy to uncover the murderer.
“Six years ago, I attempted to lodge a report, but the case couldn’t be filed because of a lack of evidence.” Ning Xi understood what the chief meant. She covered her mouth and said, “I know that it’s difficult, but …”
At this point, she stifled a sob, and could only bow deeply to the chief.
The police officer who was recording Ning Xi’s case record was immediately upset at this sight. He considered himself a fan of the goddess. Now that he’s seeing the goddess in this state, how could he not feel sad?
“Miss Ning, rest assured that we’ll investigate this matter thoroughly, and try our best not to disappoint you.” The chief immediately avoided her bow, and heaved a heavy sigh in his heart.
A young lady who was willing to spend so many years searching for evidence for her mother’s mysterious death. Her piety was commendable.
It was only after Ning Xi left and the police officer turned off their recording that the latter asked the chief, “Chief, do you know who that Ning Xi is?”
“Who is she?”
“Ning Xi is currently the most popular local actress. She’s not only famous domestically, she’s even got many fans overseas. Once this case is filed, there’ll be a lot of attention on it. The pressure on our station will be …” The police officer didn’t manage to finish his words.
The chief was stunned. He paused for a moment before replying, “No matter who she is, here, she’s just the family of a victim, not a celebrity.”
After walking out of the police station, Zhang Qingyun and Zhao Hong immediately surrounded her. As unrelated personnel couldn’t enter the premises, they could only wait outside.
Zhang Qingyun noticed that the document bag was not with Ning Xi anymore, so he asked, “How did it go?”
“The case has gone through the screening process, the case would most likely be filed.” Ning Xi rubbed her temples. “Let’s go.”
“Isn’t there a magazine photoshoot this afternoon?”
Zhang Qingyun frowned. “But …”
How are you going to do a photoshoot in this condition?
“I’m fine, don’t worry.” Ning Xi gave a small smile, “Since we’ve already agreed to it, how could we renege on our words?”
Ning Xi then turned to Zhao Hong and said, “Sister Zhao, I recall that there’s an entertainment programme at your station at 5.30PM?”
Zhao Hong nodded.
Ning Xi smiled. “Then, please release this major scoop at 5.30PM today.”