When A Snail Falls in Love - Chapter 21

[Updated at: 2021-01-11 09:54:56]
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Chapter 21

Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation

The Ye Group Headquarters was situated in the middle of the CBD. Amongst a sea of dazzling, magnificent office buildings, the dark gray skyscrapers of the Ye Group stood high and mighty.

In order not to startle or to alert anyone, Ji Bai only brought a small group of people with him. Along with Xu Xu and Old Wu, he waited at the exquisite, comfortable lobby for a while before the door was pushed open, whereby Yao Meng and the receptionist greeted them with smiling faces.

“Captain, everything has been arranged. We may start.” Yao Meng’s said loudly and clearly.

When it came to work, Yao Meng had always been highly efficient. Ji Bai smiled and nodded. “Thank you for the hard work.”

Yao Meng smiled and stood beside Old Wu as Ji Bai brought Xu Xu with him, then the four of them split up to begin their assigned task.

The marble floor looked glossy despite the muted color and the spacious open office area was quiet except for the constant drone of keyboards typing, books flipping, and pacing footsteps… With the administrative staff leading the way, Ji Bai and Xu Xu passed through a long narrow corridor that was well lit with natural light. Along the way, employees here and there looked up to observe them. On their faces were looks of doubt, vigilance, and of amusement.

The office of the eldest child, Ye Ziqiang, was located at the end of the corridor.

The main industries of Ye Family included real estate, automobile production and trade, IT, and F&B. As the eldest child, Ye Ziqiang was in charge of production and purchase management.

Ji Bai and Xu Xu were stunned the moment they walked in – the entire room was so roomy that it could easily fit fifty people. That being said, the decor was consistent with the office cubicles of the normal staff outside, it was not personalized nor extravagant at all.

Once Ji Bai sat down, he smiled. “Excuse us for bothering you, Chief Executive Ye, thank you for cooperating with the police.”

Ye Ziqiang put on a smile on his initially expressionless face and bowed slightly. “Don’t mention it, I too hope that the culprit will be captured soon.” He was forty that year, was tall but also fat, and was fierce looking, so his smile really did make him look much more approachable.

While they conversed, Xu Xu quickly checked out their surroundings. The shelf at the side of the room was filled to the brim with books. Most of them were related to economic management, but there were also a few military books, as well as several Swiss Army knives on display. The eldest son of the Ye Family clearly had hobbies that matched his appearance, as he had a heavy, masculine style. The remaining books were more diverse, ranging from fashion, fancy cars, movies, popular novels… all of which were placed in an orderly fashion on the shelf.

There was nothing notable about his desk either. Other than his office materials, there was also his cigarette case, lighter, and keys on it.

After Ji Bai seriously asked a few superficial questions, he cut to the chase. “According to our procedure, I need to ask you about your itinerary on the day that the incident happened.”

Ye Ziqiang stared at him sharply. He looked quite fierce as he did not smile at all. “I had already been asked before.”

Ji Bai put on an indistinct smirk as he replied, “I’ll be asking more detailed questions this time.”

Ye Ziqiang looked at him for a while before replying, “… Alright. I have a meeting at ten, try your best to not take too long.”

“Very well.”

Ye Ziqiang’s statement was identical to what Old Wu had provided before – Around six o’clock that night, he had finished dinner with third son-in-law Zhang Shiyong, then he drove around the city and bought pastries from a certain old shop before heading home. On the way back, he received a call from his second sister regarding a batch of the company’s materials, so he decided to drive back to the warehouse. Unexpectedly, however, he received another call from an overseas marketer while he was on his way there, so he went back to the office where he worked from ten o’clock till two in the morning.

Xu Xu looked at him from time to time. Although he had a cold look on his face and behaved seriously, it was still obvious that he was quite nervous. His face was slightly flushed and he frequently sipped on his tea.

After they interrogated Ye Ziqiang, Ji Bai did not immediately go to meet the second child Ye Jin. Instead, he led Xu Xu downstairs towards the empty green area in front of the building so that they could immediately exchange opinions.

He asked softly, “What do you think?”

Xu Xu pondered for some time then answered, “Based on our description of the culprit, one of them is an impulsive, hesitant criminal. Ye Ziqiang didn’t have strong mental fortitude earlier, which is clearly in line with our suspect. Nonetheless, we can’t make any meaningful deductions based on this one point as most people would become nervous during an interrogation.”

“Besides, according to what Old Wu had previously told us, Ye Ziqiang was publicly known to be an extensive, straightforward character. He has been doing business with his father since young as has been arrested a few times illegal dealings and fights as a young man. This is probably the reason why he can’t relax in front of the police and has conflicting emotions. On top of that, he has an alibi.”

Ji Bai fell silent for a while then nodded. “Let’s go up.”

As they returned to the building, Ji Bai’s phone rang. It was a call from the station chief who wanted to ask about the case progress.

Ji Bai waved at Xu Xu to signal her to go up first.

When the call ended, Ji Bai smoked for a while before going back in. After taking a few steps, he spotted Xu Xu’s tiny figure beside the music fountain. She stood straight with her back facing him. Then, he spotted Ye Zixiao in front of her, who was dressed in a suit as he spoke to her, his tall figure almost covering her completely.

Ji Bai ashed his cigarette and walked over.

Over the last couple of days, Ye Zixiao’s work life had returned normal, but he couldn’t keep his mind off the crime scene. That morning, when he heard that the Criminal Police Unit were at the conglomerate’s buildings to investigate again, an unbelievable thought suddenly crossed his mind. ‘It can’t be, do the police think that Ye Zixi’s secret lover, the murderer who killed her, is someone from the Ye Family?’

He felt uneasy for the whole morning as he thought about this. When he heard that Ji Bai and Xu Xu had gone downstairs after interviewing Ye Ziqiang, he ran downstairs as well, only to bump right into Xu Xu.

However, Xu Xu was very careful with her words. Even though he asked her about a lot of things, she only gave him a faint, vague answer, “I can’t disclose this.” Still, Ye Zixiao felt that while he was frustrated, Xu Xu was being reasonable, so he no longer pressed her about it.

Even though they only talked for a short while, when he looked at her neat and calm face, his restless feelings simmered down inexplicably once more. It was replaced by a familiar complicated feeling in his heart – it was a little bitter, a little sweet, a mixture of uneasiness and desire.

“Have you been busy lately?” He almost subconsciously softened his tone. “You’ve worked hard. Thank you for everything you’re doing for Zixi.”

Xu Xu replied, “You’re welcome.”

Her disaffection made Ye Zixiao uncomfortable and he blurted out, “Xu Xu, I’ll change.”

Xu Xu was stunned but before she could answer, a voice from behind her interrupted then. “Change what?”

Ye Zixiao still thought of Ji Bai as the man who had been “rejected by Xu Xu just like me”, and was “unrelated to Xu Xu outside of work”. In spite of that, his impression of Ji Bai was quite a good one because of the current case.

Thus, he smiled and nodded at him. “Nothing much,” then he looked at Xu Xu. “I won’t bother you anymore, go ahead with your duties.”

Xu Xu nodded dully. When Ye Zixiao was about to leave, he saw Ji Bai reaching out his hand to tap Xu Xu’s head softly. He looked very natural as he said to her with a vague smile, “Go upstairs.”

Xu Xu nodded. “Oh.”

Then, Ye Zixiao looked at Ji Bai and Ji Bai looked back at him too.

Ji Bai and Xu Xu stood there quietly as the lift traveled upward. After some time, Ji Bai said abruptly, “The recent case has been quite hectic, you’ve worked hard.”

Xu Xu replied immediately, “Don’t worry about it.”

“You don’t have time for blind dates anymore.” Ji Bai smiled.

His rare, pleasant manner startled Xu Xu a bit as she explained, “I’m not in a hurry, my family is. It’s alright, there won’t be any delays since they said that they would arrange for me to meet someone else after this case is closed.”

Ji Bai looked ahead as he said, “… Hmm, let’s go.”

The second person they interrogated was the second child, Ye Jin.

Ye Jin was responsible for the operation of the headquarters, dealing with things such as financial, administrative, human resources affairs and so on. Her office encapsulated an evident personal style – it was very clean, bright and spacious, and all her files and books were placed in a neat and orderly fashion. Despite not having any luxurious decorations, it felt tidy and comfortable.

Ye Jin was thirty-five years old and graduated with a background in computer science before starting a business over ten years ago with her father, uncle, and brother. Due to her introverted nature, she was in charge of the administrative matters of the company from the start. She had short hair, a thin figure, and wore glasses. Among the four children, she was definitely the least outstanding as she also maintained a modest demeanor.

According to her statement, she had left the office at half past seven to have dinner alone at a normal shop along the street. After a while, she received a work-related call about their finances for a recent real estate project. Therefore, she called Ye Ziqiang. After a thorough discussion, she returned to the Ye Family’s old mansion and did not leave until the next morning. This was around 9.00 to 10.00 pm.

Ji Bai was very focused as he continuously nodded and said, “Following protocol, I have to ask this question to everyone related to the case. Is there anyone who can prove that you stayed at home and never left after 10.00 pm?”

Ye Jin was stunned. She remained quiet for a while then answered, “Does my husband count?”

Ji Bai asked, “Is there anyone else?”

Ye Jin lowered her head and thought, then she shook her head. “I did go downstairs to sit in the garden for a while at around eleven o’clock that night, but the maids were already asleep by then, so I didn’t see anyone.”

After Ji Bai’s inquiry ended, Xu Xu piped up. “I need to take a look at the logbook and databanks of the departments that you’re in charge of. If there is any confidential data, feel free to exclude them first.”

Ye Jin could not help but look at her for a while as she spoke due to the fact that Xu Xu had done nothing but record quietly for the duration of the interrogation.

Right then, Ji Bai smiled and added on, “Not just your departments, if it’s not too much of a hassle, it’ll be best if you let us take a look at all the basic information of all the departments. This is just a part of the procedure and it won’t take up too much of your time.”

After leaving Ye Jin’s office, they walked for a short while before arriving at an aisle where nobody else was around. Ji Bai glanced at Xu Xu and asked in a low voice showing hints of his amusement, “You want to look through her work to analyze her?”

Xu Xu nodded.

Ji Bai put on a plain smile and laughed quietly. “You should do it more subtly, don’t be so direct.”

Xu Xu replied, “… Oh.”

As Ji Bai looked at her lowered side profile, he added slowly, “Of course, don’t beat around the bush when you talk to me.”

Xu Xu looked up at him then smiled. “I understand. You’ve said before that you don’t like it.”

Ji Bai was already used to this by now. As he looked into her kind eyes, he just smiled at her without saying any more.

Ye Jin’s secretary let Ji Bai use the computer and gave him a quick walkthrough of the system. “The company has five major systems: administration, business approvals, financial affairs etc. Administration constitutes the main program whilst the other four systems can be accessed through this system.”

Ji Bai roughly browsed for a while then commented, “Not bad, it’s very quick.”

The secretary smiled. “Yes, it is. Only the administration system is old, it has been there since the early years when the company was just starting out. As for the other four big systems, the company had spent tens of millions to hire renowned overseas IT companies to design them a few years ago. Since Zixiao has finally returned to the country, he’ll be responsible for managing the systems.”

As Ji Bai checked the basic information of the company on one computer, Xu Xu used the other computer to browse through the working system, processes, and logbook of each department in the company.

At noon, the four of them from the Criminal Police Unit had their lunch together. They ate quickly and, seeing that they still had plenty of time before the staff returned from their breaks, walked over to Ruiying Park nearby and exchanged the information gathered from the questioning they had done earlier in the morning.

Old Wu had already talked to the Ye Family in the past, so this time he had brought Yao Meng along to interview some employees in the company. So far they had not found valuable.

Ji Bai glanced at Xu Xu and said, “Tell us what you think.”

Xu Xu nodded. “So far, there’s nothing suspicious about Ye Ziqiang. Ye Jin…”

She paused for a while. “After examining the management, systems, and processes of each department, there’s no doubt that her’s are the neatest and strictest among all the departments and subsidiaries. Other than that, I’ve compiled some basic statistical data from the administration system: On average, it takes up to 12 days to circulate files in other departments, but it only takes 4 hours in the departments under her management. Hence, I think that her ability to either lead or work must probably be very outstanding. Then again, there are no other findings so we can’t jump to any conclusions.”

Both Old Wu and Yao Meng were somewhat surprised because when they had previously met Ye Jin, their only impression of her was that she was prudent and gentle. She had a mediocre reputation and underwhelming achievements in the company, making her the least noticeable person in the upper hierarchy of the Ye Group.

To their surprise, Ji Bai nodded and said, “I agree. Not only that, but she fits the profile of the second culprit with high IQ, and she doesn’t have an alibi. She should be treated as one of the suspects and needs to be observed closely.”

Old Qu and Yao Meng were instantly taken aback. Even Xu Xu stared at him.

Ji Bai stated the condition of the Ye Group’s IT system as he stared at the Ye Group’s skyscraper that towered quietly not far from them. Then he said with a distant tone, “Their company spent tens of millions to design the IT system, but preserved the original aging system, going so far as to make it their main system. This only means that the old system was built exceptionally well and was designed with the future in mind, which allowed it to cope with thing such as the foreign investment system a few years later.”

“Ten over years ago, Ye Group only had a handful of employees and only Ye Jin had a background in computer science among them. In addition to this, the company was small-scale back then, and there were no records of outsourcing to other IT companies.”

“For a freshly graduated lady to be able to design such a system… Her IQ and cognitive abilities are certainly quite impressive.”

Old Wu and the others fell silent. A moment later, Yao Meng asked, “So you suspect that Ye Jin is the criminal with the high IQ?”

Ji Bai answered indistinctly, “We can’t say for sure. Ye Jin might not be the only one with a high IQ among the children of the Ye Family.”