Others may not know who Young Master Ling is, but as soon as someone mentions his handsome appearance, all eyes immediately turn towards him.
Ling Shu and the person he was talking to became the center of attention.
Naturally, everyone first looked at the speaker's appearance, which was plain and unremarkable, leading to some disappointment.
But when they looked back at Ling Shu, their eyes lit up.
In fact, when Ling Shu and Yue Dingtang had just entered the room, many young ladies had already secretly noticed him. However, Ling Shu quickly hid in a corner, not wanting to appear too eager in such a crowded and lively event. But to his surprise, when he turned around, the other person was standing in the dim light.
Compared to Yue Dingtang's calm and capable demeanor, many girls preferred Ling Shu's handsome and suave appearance. As soon as they laid eyes on Ling Shu, they couldn't help but realize that "beautiful" was not just an adjective reserved for women.
There is a kind of beauty that is like a refreshing breeze in spring, unforgettable once seen.
Ling Shu has always been popular with women, even at the dance hall where the dancers would tip him. Even Ling Yao and Yue Chunxiao, who didn't get along, could temporarily set aside their differences for him. Although the circumstances were different, some things never changed.
This moment was no exception.
Lin Dingkang was a bit surprised by the unintentional effect Ling Shu had on people.
He knew Ling Shu was handsome, and during their school days, he was the focus of female students' attention. Now, he hadn't aged poorly and had grown even taller than Lin remembered.
"It's been a long time, Ling Shu. How have you been?" He reached out his hand.
"Great." Ling Shu put down the cake and shook his hand.
"A few years ago, I heard that you went to study in France and then I never heard from you again. I thought you settled down there." Lin Dingkang took two glasses of wine from the waiter and handed one to him. "When did you come back? Why didn't you make plans to meet up with old classmates for a drink?"
Ling Shu raised his glass in a toast. "Why wait for a specific day when we can drink now?"
The other person was taken aback and laughed, "You're still so humorous! A talented person like you must be doing well now. Are you a high-ranking official in the consulate or in the government?"
Ling Shu shrugged. "I'm just a small police officer in Jiangwan District."
Lin Dingkang didn't believe him. "How is that possible? Someone like you should at least be a deputy director, right?"
Ling Shu smiled. "My father passed away."
Lin Dingkang suddenly remembered that since Ling Shu's father passed away, the Ling family had fallen from grace and disappeared from high society. However, when he saw Ling Shu just now, who had always been elegant, he couldn't help but have a momentary illusion that the Ling family was still the same and Ling Shu was still the same.
But anyone who could be invited to such an occasion must have some connections. Today there may be a downfall, but tomorrow may not be.
After working for years, Lin Dingkang had seen many political figures rise and fall, and he understood this well. He would not look down on Ling Shu because of this.
Moreover, with Ling Shu's talent, if he caught the eye of some wealthy young lady tonight, he would immediately soar to new heights.
After all, back in the day, a certain chairman was able to climb higher by marrying into the Song family. He was about to say a few comforting words to ease the awkwardness, when suddenly a voice chimed in from beside him.
"Dingkang, what are you doing here? And who is this young master? Introduce us, won't you?"
The newcomer's tone was flippant, but as Lin Dingkang turned to see who it was, he knew that this person had a natural talent for being disrespectful.
Shen Shiqi, of course, was not his real name. He was called that because he was the seventeenth in line in the Shen family.
This family was large and full of talented individuals, with some pursuing academia and others in business. Shen Shiqi's uncle was even serving in the Nanjing government, holding a high position. It was said that he was part of the pro-Chiang Kai-shek faction, and had recently become very popular.
Shen Shiqi was also in the business of import and export trade. The Shen family was a big business, and once their capital had reached a certain level, regardless of whether Shen Shiqi had exceptional business acumen or not, as long as he didn't do anything outrageously stupid, his qualifications were at the level of an average person and he wouldn't suffer any losses.
The people around him naturally praised him like a rising star, causing Shen Shiqi to become increasingly inflated and arrogant. Tonight's banquet was attended by many celebrities, but only a few caught his eye.
Lin Dingkang's job was obtained through his uncle's connections, so Shen Shiqi didn't even bother to pay attention to him. He spoke casually, as if ordering his household servants.
Lin Dingkang smiled and said, "Master Shen, what brings you here? I just happened to run into an old classmate and we were catching up!" Shen Shiqi lifted his chin and nodded at Ling Shu.
"Could it be that you're also working as a translator at some consulate?" Wasn't he just insulting him? Although Lin Dingkang was unhappy in his heart, he didn't show it on his face and continued to warmly introduce the two.
"This is my high school classmate, surnamed Ling, with the single name Shu. And this is Shen Shiqi, the famous young master of the Shen family!"
He deliberately emphasized the words "famous young master" to prevent Ling Shu from accidentally offending this important person.
"Hello, Mr. Shen," Ling Shu was indeed well-mannered and immediately reached out his hand.
But Shen Shiqi slowly looked him up and down and didn't move.
Lin Dingkang was taken aback and thought that this Shen guy was here to cause trouble.
Sure enough, Shen Shiqi ignored Ling Shu and looked at Lin Dingkang.
"Is this classmate of yours living off his looks?"
Lin Dingkang chuckled, "Master Shen, you're quite humorous. Ling Shu is currently working at the police station!"
"Oh?" Shen Shiqi raised an eyebrow and drawled, "He looks like a pretty boy. Why would he become a police officer instead of a movie star? Let me introduce you to someone."
He pulled over the beauty next to him, "You all definitely know her, movie star He You'an. She's been making waves recently and I'm sure everyone in Shanghai has heard of her. She admires you and can introduce you to a job that will guarantee your success. You won't have to be a police officer anymore. Just think of how much you can earn in a month!"
Lin Dingkang had already recognized Shen Shiqi's companion as He You'an.
Not only him, but all the guests present knew her. There were socialites and young gentlemen who liked her and came to ask for her autograph. He You'an welcomed them all, signing many without putting on any airs of a big star. She spoke very little and followed Shen Shiqi around like a shadow.
Although beautiful, she was still just a plaything. Acting was still an industry that was not highly regarded these days. Despite He You'an's fame, in this kind of occasion, she could only attract attention because of her beauty and reputation. Shen Shiqi paraded her around like a precious vase.
When He You'an heard Shen Shiqi's words, she smiled and said softly, "Don't be ridiculous."
Shen Shiqi hugged her slender waist and said proudly, "Didn't you say he's good-looking? With such a beautiful appearance, it would be a waste not to benefit the public, wouldn't it?"
Lin Dingkang could sense the hostility in his words and quickly tried to smooth things over: "Ling Shu is a police officer, patrolling the streets to maintain order and catch those thieves and criminals. Only then can we feel safe when we go out. This is also for the benefit of the public!"
He then turned to Shen Shiqi and said, "Ling Shu is also a well-educated person who has studied abroad. When he was in school, his grades were top-notch!"
These days, those who can afford to study abroad are either sponsored students or come from wealthy families. Lin Dingkang was reminding Shen Shiqi to leave some room for compromise in everything.
Unexpectedly, Shen Shiqi was not buying it at all. "Studying abroad? Hmph, nowadays even borrowing money from relatives can get you to go abroad for work-study programs. Those who don't know think they've learned something, but like father like son, even a mouse's child still knows how to dig holes. Mr. Ling is a talented person, I think becoming a police officer is really a waste of talent. If you're not willing to become a movie star, I have a friend who can recommend you. He loves young and beautiful people like you who have the drive to succeed. If you work under him for a few years, I guarantee you'll earn more than you would as a police officer for ten years. What do you think?"
He stared at Ling Shu with piercing eyes, wanting to see the other's embarrassed expression before he was satisfied.
But Ling Shu remained calm and even leisurely finished his champagne before speaking.
"Thank you for your kind offer, Mr. Shen. The job sounds good, but unfortunately, it's not for me."
Shen Shiqi was not pleased. "What a pity."
Ling Shu replied, "It's a shame that I am currently carrying a murder case on my back. The case involves three lives, and those three restless souls haunt me day and night. How could I..."
He gave Shen Shiqi a sly smile, which was eerie and chilling, and even took a step towards him.
Shen Shiqi instinctively took two steps back.
"How could I go on harming others and adding more lives to my burden?"
"Are you the police officer surnamed Ling...the childhood sweetheart of Du Yunning?!"
Some young lady from an unknown family exclaimed, revealing Ling Shu's identity.
Everyone's expression changed, and they all stepped back, afraid that Ling Shu would stab them with a knife if they were too slow.
In an instant, a large area around him cleared out like a tide.
"What happened here?" With a foreign accent, the host of the banquet arrived and everyone made way for him. Most people were focused on Pence, but Ling Shu's attention was on Yue Dingtang, who stood beside him. Their eyes met in a silent battle.
Ling Shu: Have you been enjoying the show after watching it for so long?
Yue Dingtang: It's been alright. I was hoping to see you flustered, but it's been a bit underwhelming.
Finally, Ling Shu understood why he had always disliked Yue Dingtang since their school days. It wasn't because he competed with him in academics and social status, or even because he stole his women. It was because of that smirk on his face, neither a smile nor a sneer, that made Ling Shu want to smash a bottle over his head and shatter that face to pieces. As he grew older, his provocative appearance became more and more noticeable.
Shen Shiqi snapped out of his daze and immediately frowned at Ling Shu's audacity, feeling a bit annoyed.
With his family background and confidence in dealing with British and American consuls, he immediately questioned, "Mr. Pence, your banquet is elegant and frequented by high society. When did you start allowing murderers in? I heard he's even a police officer? I remember Chief Huang from the city bureau is here tonight, right? Chief Huang, don't hide behind the crowd, come over and explain to us!"
Chief Huang looked embarrassed, never expecting to be forced to show his face in this situation.
"Well, Master Shen, you've got me there. Du Yunning's case happened in the concession, which is not under my jurisdiction. Besides, I have so many people under my command, how could I possibly know a small police officer in a district?"
The cold wind outside the window was biting, but inside the room the heating was warm and cozy. It was so warm that even Chief Huang was on the verge of pulling out a handkerchief to wipe away the sweat on his forehead.
Shen Shiqi chuckled, "So, Chief Huang, are you trying to shirk responsibility?"
Chief Huang didn't want to offend Shen Shiqi over a small matter, so he quickly denied it and looked towards Ling Shu.
"You, come here!" Ling Shu had eaten and drank his fill, put down his cup, and walked over to Chief Huang, bowing respectfully.
"Hello, Chief. Ling Shu of the Jiangwan District Police Station reports to you!" Chief Huang's face was dark, and he naturally vented all his displeasure on Ling Shu, who had embarrassed him in front of everyone.
"How did you manage to sneak in here?" Ling Shu reported, "Director, someone brought me here. Before coming, he told me that you would also be present. I said that I am currently under suspicion and must stay in the patrol house, and I cannot cause you any trouble. But that person said that no one can challenge his authority tonight, and even you must show him some respect. I believed him. Who knew that he was just talking nonsense? Master Shen completely disregarded him."
Yue Dingtang remained silent, having only watched the play for a minute, Ling Shu had already dug a one-meter deep hole for him.
Chief Huang exclaimed, "Who? Who said that? Bring him out!"
"It was me who brought him here," Yue Dingtang finally spoke up.
He smiled slightly at Chief Huang, "My surname is Yue, and my elder brother is Yue Dingqin. He used to work in Shanghai, and I believe you know him." The name Yue Dingqin, more than just Chief Huang knew it, most people present should know it too.
Chief Huang's face changed instantly, from anger to shock, embarrassment to fear, all in just a few seconds.
"So it's the second young master of the Yue family!"
Yue Dingtang smiled, "My second brother went north."
Chief Huang laughed, "It's the third young master Yue, your brother and I had a good relationship back then. Unfortunately, after he went to Nanjing, we rarely kept in touch. Today is a rare encounter!"
Yue Dingtang nodded, not caring whether what he said was true or false.
"Let me introduce, this is Mr. Pence, the Consul General of the United States in Shanghai, and this is Chief Huang of the Municipal Police Bureau, who was recently promoted to his current position for his outstanding performance."
Chief Huang quickly adjusted his tie, stepped forward and extended his hands, slightly bowing. "Mr. Pence, I'm Huang Qi, nice to meet you!"
Pence shook hands with him, his gaze falling on Ling Shu and Shen Shiqi.
"I heard there was a misunderstanding here earlier, has it all been resolved?"
Although Shen Shiqi wasn't afraid of Americans, he wasn't foolish enough to cause trouble on their turf.
He had originally taken issue with Ling Shu and wanted to teach him a lesson. Usually in these small matters, the other party would end up apologizing and begging for forgiveness. Whether or not Shen Shiqi was willing to spare their life depended on his mood.
But this time, the situation had unexpectedly spiraled out of his control.
"It's been resolved, it was just a small misunderstanding," Shen Shiqi said reluctantly.
Pence nodded, but regardless of whether he seemed natural or not, willing or unwilling, he immediately turned to chat with the person next to him.
"Mr. Pence, this is my old friend and classmate, Ling Shu. Like you and me, he was a student in France. Although he has been implicated in a case, there is evidence that proves his innocence."
Since he had already stepped forward, Yue Dingtang decided to formally introduce Ling Shu.
Pence nodded and smiled, extending his hand to greet Ling Shu.
Ling Shu hesitated for a moment before responding.
Chief Huang listened in confusion and turned to Lin Dingkang, asking, "What are they saying? Is it English?"
Lin Dingkang replied, "It's French. The consul said, 'I believe the truth will clear the gentleman's name.' Ling Shu responded with a thank you."
Chief Huang scratched his head and asked, "He really studied abroad, so why did he become a police officer?" Lin Dingkang didn't mind helping out an old classmate, and said, "You may not know this, but the Ling family was also a prestigious family in the past. It's just that their fortunes declined later on. People, you know, all have their ups and downs in life!"
Chief Huang suddenly realized something. "It's rare to see someone who can overcome adversity and strive for success. He's truly a good young man and deserves to be rewarded!"
Lin Dingkang smiled but didn't say anything.
How did being a small police officer have anything to do with overcoming adversity? He was afraid that in the end, the relationship would still fall on Yue Dingtang. But since Chief Huang said so, he would listen to him. Lin Dingkang also thought about going to strengthen his relationship with Yue Dingtang later.
The storm was loud but the rain was small. The host of the banquet didn't even care, and everyone else pretended to forget that Ling Shu was a suspect. Besides, his appearance and demeanor were enough to make people let down their guard and get close to him. Some of the more daring socialites took the initiative to chat with him.
The only one who felt embarrassed and angry was Shen Shiqi.
Although He You'an beside him was quiet the whole time, he felt like everyone around him was sneering and mocking him.
"Why are you laughing?" he suddenly looked at He You'an and asked coldly.
The other was listening to Yue Dingtang and the rest chatting, with a slight smile on her lips.
He You'an was called out and looked surprised, quickly retracting her smile: "Mr. Shen, I wasn't laughing."
Shen Shiqi snorted: "Don't think that just because I brought you here, you can climb up the social ladder. In their eyes, no matter how famous you are, you're still a third-rate actor!"
His voice was loud, and everyone around him heard it.
He You'an's face turned white in an instant, biting her lip tightly, seemingly trying to control her emotions. Ling Shu was about to speak, but he was stopped by Yue Dingtang, who placed a hand on his shoulder.
He met Yue Dingtang's eyes, which remained calm and steady, but his hand never moved.
The message was clear: he should not interfere.
Ling Shu and they had no personal or familial relationship with He You'an, and they did not understand the relationship between her and Shen Shiqi. To act rashly might not be heroic, but rather a joke.
However, Ling Shu still made a move.
A paper and pen appeared in front of He You'an, along with a beautiful hand.
"Miss He, my sister is your fan. Can you sign your name for me?"
He You'an hurriedly took the paper and pen, gave him a forced smile, and quickly signed her name.
"Do you need me to write a blessing for your sister?"
"If it's convenient, that would be even better. My sister's nickname is Ling Yao, which means 'far away.' I wish her good health."
He You'an finished writing quickly, with elegant handwriting that showed she had practiced.
"Write one for me too!"
"I want one too!"
"Write a few more, I'll give them as gifts!"
The young miss and young master next to them saw how much fun they were having and quickly pulled out their own notebooks that they had only just gotten He You'an to sign.
The crowd swarmed around, pushing Shen Shiqi to the outskirts.
He stared at Ling Shu for three seconds before turning and leaving, remembering him as a new enemy.
"Looks like we have a new enemy out of nowhere."
Ling Shu was about to turn around and get some wine when Yue Dingtang's voice sounded from behind him.
"Shen Shiqi is arrogant and domineering, he does things his own way and doesn't follow the rules. You stood up for the beauty, will she be grateful and offer herself to you?"
Ling Shu didn't answer, instead bending down to examine the taste of each type of liquor.
"Apple or orange?"
Yue Dingtang said, "Oranges..."
Ling Shu handed him a glass of orange liquor and took a glass of apple for himself.
"Helping out in times of trouble, isn't that what a gentleman does? Whether or not the beauty is grateful, it doesn't matter. Mr. Pence saw it and that's good enough. Didn't you see the admiration he showed me just now?" Ling Shu said.
Yue Dingtang raised an eyebrow, "Pence has no say in the police station. What's the use of impressing him?"
Ling Shu replied, "The suspect has to do a few good deeds, otherwise how can I justify you bringing me here? Alright, I'm going to flatter Chief Huang now."
With that, he picked up his glass and walked confidently towards Chief Huang.
"If I hadn't taught you that phrase of thanks in French just now, could you have handled Pence?" Yue Dingtang asked leisurely. Ling Shutou didn't even turn around, he just waved his hand and made a farewell gesture towards him.
Yue Dingtang narrowed his eyes.
With the previous groundwork laid, Chief Huang did indeed look at Ling Shutou with new eyes.
Chief Huang was a coarse man who relied on flattery and luck to climb to his position. He didn't fit in with the literati, celebrities, and wealthy families here. He just wanted to flatter people, but no one was interested in listening to him.
However, he met Ling Shutou and they chatted happily about the delicious food in the south and the recent cases. They hit it off surprisingly well.
It wasn't until Chief Huang went to the restroom that another charming guest arrived on the balcony.
"I'm really sorry, Master Shen wasn't intentionally targeting you just now. It's just that I praised you in front of him, and he became jealous. It's all my fault," said He You'an sincerely, even bowing slightly towards Ling Shutou. Ling Shu raised his glass: "It's okay, it's every gentleman's duty to help a beautiful lady out of a predicament."
Sure enough, He You'an laughed.
Ling Shu pointed to his own lips and reminded her, "Your lipstick is a little smudged."
He You'an quickly took out a mirror and lipstick, and began to touch up her makeup under the balcony's chandelier.
By some strange coincidence, Ling Shu happened to see the lipstick in her hand.
In a flash, memories intertwined and something suddenly flashed before his eyes.
The truth was hidden behind the thick fog of the night, waiting for him to capture it.
"Is that your lipstick?"
He You'an looked up and saw Ling Shu staring at her lipstick, and couldn't help but smile. "What, you want to buy it for your girlfriend? This is Danqi's newly released lipstick, rose red. This color is limited edition and the packaging is different from other colors. It's probably sold out now. If you want other colors, I have a few unopened ones that I bought before. I can send them to you later," said He You'an.
Ling Shu asked, "Is it very expensive because it's a limited edition?"
"It's priced the same as other colors, but it's just hard to get. It was sold out on the day of release and I had to ask someone to get it for me," replied He You'an.
"When was it released?" asked Ling Shu.
"I heard it was released in Europe and America three months ago, but it takes time to ship to China. It was released here on January 25th," said He You'an.
January 25th, the eve of Chinese New Year.
It was after Du Yunning's accident. The lipstick in He You'an's hand was exactly the same as the one that dropped at the Yuan family with the maid, Ah Lan. But Ah Lan claimed that it was given to her by Du Yunning.
However, Du Yunning was already dead. Did she come back as a ghost just to give lipstick to the maid? Therefore, Ah Lan must be lying!
As he was pondering, Yue Dingtang suddenly walked in. "Come with me to the police station now!"