At first, Hong Xiaoguang had no idea that this person was actually Mr. Li, the owner of the Xinyue Cafe. He just thought the guy was crazy. But when the man generously bought him new clothes, took him to get a haircut and makeover, and even rented a place for him to live at 36 Hengtong Road, Hong Xiaoguang began to believe him a little.
Although the apartment at 36 Hengtong Road wasn't luxurious, it was the best place Hong Xiaoguang had ever lived in. The walls were freshly painted, the rooms were bright and clean, and there was even a bunk bed and a wardrobe. Once upon a time, when it rained, his old house would leak and no amount of patching could fix it. He had to use a basin to catch the water on his bed. He would fall asleep to the sound of raindrops and wake up with a new wound from being bitten by mice in the night.
These nightmare-inducing memories made Boss Li's generosity all the more heavenly compared to his past. Hong Xiaoguang didn't need to say it, but he didn't want to go back to his old life.
However, Boss Li didn't rush to introduce him to Du Yunning. Instead, he began teaching Hong Xiaoguang etiquette and literacy. Hong Xiaoguang knew a few characters from his days as a newspaper boy. He was clever and quick-witted, able to learn many things easily and apply them in different situations. Boss Li was very pleased with his choice. Mr. Li hired two teachers, one to teach literacy and the other to teach etiquette. The former focused mainly on poetry and literature, while the latter taught him Western etiquette, such as how to eat Western food correctly and how to treat women elegantly. Mr. Li told him that many upper-class women, especially those who had attended the new school, were particularly fond of this.
Finally, after some time had passed, Mr. Li told Hong Xiaoguang that he had basically completed his training, but he could not immediately go to find Du Yunning. Mr. Li arranged an experimental subject for him, and only if he successfully conquered her could he truly graduate.
"Is it Ah Lan?" Ling Shu had already guessed it.
Hong Xiaoguang nodded weakly and asked, "Can you give me some water?"
Ling Shu replied, "Where would I get water from here?"
Hong Xiaoguang said, "There's some food and a few bottles of whiskey and brandy in the next room."
Ling Shu replied, "You can't get drunk and forget about our mission."
But without another word, he got up and walked to the next room.
Sure enough, there were some packages piled up in the corner. Ling Shu used his pocket knife to open them and found some dry food and a few bottles of alcohol.
He picked up two bottles and returned to Hong Xiaoguang, who was already on the brink of death. Yue Dingtang wasn't doing much better, with his eyes closed and the knife still in his shoulder.
Ling Shu opened one of the bottles and poured some onto Yue Dingtang's wound. He suddenly opened his eyes and glared at Ling Shu.
"Disinfectant," Ling Shu handed him the bottle. "Do it yourself?"
Yue Dingtang's mouth twitched twice, but he didn't say anything, perhaps to conserve his energy. Ling Shu chuckled to himself before tossing another bottle of alcohol to Hong Xiaoguang.
Struggling to open the bottle, Hong Xiaoguang took a sip before the bottle was snatched away from him.
"Speak up!" Ling Shu pointed his gun at him, looking like a thug who wouldn't take no for an answer.
Hong Xiaoguang remained silent, licking his lips before finally speaking up.
He believed that Boss Li had been observing Du Yunning for a long time.
He even knew that Du Yunning had a mute maid by her side, and he knew when she would leave the house.
Ah Lan didn't leave the house every day. At most, she would leave once a month, sometimes even two months. She couldn't speak and was sensitive and insecure, so she always went to the same store to buy things.
But one day, she met Hong Xiaoguang at the fabric store she frequented. She accidentally knocked over what Hong Xiaoguang was holding in his hand, but instead of getting impatient, he spoke kindly to her. When he realized she couldn't speak, he even took the initiative to help her ask the boss for some suitable scraps for embroidery, and even got a discount for her.
It was raining outside, and Hong Xiaoguang gave her his umbrella and called a taxi for her, sending her to the door of the Yuan family. The Yuan family was surprised that Ah Lan, who was always frugal, was willing to hire a taxi this time.
With the borrowed umbrella, there naturally had to be something returned. It was all arranged, and the plot was not afraid of being old, as long as she took the bait.
In Ah Lan's life of more than ten or twenty years, she had never met a man like Hong Xiaoguang. He didn't look down on her or mock her, but was gentle and even a scholar. She quickly fell for him, but kept her feelings hidden deep inside.
However, how could Hong Xiaoguang not notice? He was pleased with himself and began to plan his attack on Du Yunning.
Through Ah Lan, Hong Xiaoguang learned about Du Yunning's daily routine. When Du Yunning went to the bookstore, Hong Xiaoguang used a rare poetry collection that Boss Li had searched for him to catch her attention and strike up a conversation.
Hong Xiaoguang, who had already memorized the poetry collection, talked with Du Yunning confidently and impressively, leaving her dazzled.
Du Yunning never imagined that the well-dressed, polite gentleman in front of her was the same yellow cab driver she had ignored not long ago.
Back then, Hong Xiaoguang could never have imagined that his goddess, who he thought was out of reach, would often lie in his arms wearing a silk camisole and cry about her husband's neglect. His immense vanity of conquering a beautiful woman captured him, and he couldn't help but fall into the trap he had woven for himself.
He really started dating Du Yunning, and the two of them had a secret rendezvous behind Yuan Bing and the entire Yuan family's backs, experiencing both anxiety and excitement.
Moreover, Hong Xiaoguang didn't have to worry about money, as Boss Li continuously provided him with funds, allowing him to generously buy various items for Du Yunning, making her believe even more firmly that she had found a true gentleman.
However, the good times didn't last long, as Boss Li approached Hong Xiaoguang and told him that he had to fulfill his promise. In Boss Li's plan, the Yuan Manor was a must-have. Yuan Bing and Du Yunning had no children, so once they were gone, the government would naturally take back the Yuan Manor and put it up for auction again, making it easy to operate.
Yuan Bing was a heavy smoker and enjoyed pleasure-seeking. It wouldn't be difficult to make him disappear, but the difficult part was Du Yunning. Although she was lonely as a spinster, she had no bad habits.
On the other hand, Du Yunning's relationship with Hong Xiaoguang was growing deeper and deeper. Under Hong Xiaoguang's influence, she began to develop a smoking addiction.
She became more and more obedient and dependent on Hong Xiaoguang, telling him all the grievances she had suffered under Yuan Bing and craving his comfort. She began to confide in Hong Xiaoguang about her past, recounting her upbringing in the Du family, how she met Ling Shu, how she broke off the engagement with the Ling family, and married Yuan Bing, telling the story in great detail.
As the goddess descended from her pedestal and removed her veil, Hong Xiaoguang discovered that Du Yunning was not as aloof as he had imagined.
She was weak-willed, loved Ling Shu but dared not rebel against her family, despised Yuan Bing's philandering ways, yet could not bear to give up wealth and status. She professed to hate smokers, but could not resist the lure of addiction.
Her lack of willpower was the tragedy of her life.
As Du Yunning spoke, the name Ling Shu caught the attention of Mr. Li.
"Du Yunning has invited you out several times, but it was actually Boss Li's idea. He asked me to encourage Du Yunning to elope and then seize the opportunity to kill her. Others will naturally think of you, and he can push the blame onto you without anyone knowing."
At the same time, Du Yunning, who had already deeply rooted feelings for Hong Xiaoguang, also told him a secret: that Yuan Bingdao had hidden the gold underground in the Yuan family's property, and the key to the secret vault was on her.
To make Hong Xiaoguang believe that she wasn't just making things up, Du Yunning personally took him to the underground vault.
In the lower level of the cellar, Hong Xiaoguang saw with his own eyes that boxes of gold were displayed there, filling his entire field of vision at once.
Has Hong Xiaoguang ever seen so much gold in his lifetime?
Don't even mention Hong Xiaoguang, he believes that even Boss Li has never seen this before.
Du Yunning gradually accepted the proposal of eloping and began to plan for their future with all her heart. In her opinion, it was impossible to move all the gold out, but as long as they could smuggle out one box and hide it properly, they would have enough to live comfortably for the rest of their lives.
As Du Yunning's personal maid, Ah Lan definitely knew about all of this. Du Yunning didn't avoid her and even arranged their future together after they left.
But Du Yunning didn't know that Ah Lan also had feelings for Hong Xiaoguang. It was a love that slowly fermented in her heart, one that she couldn't express to anyone and couldn't bear to see the light of day.
Hong Xiaoguang regretted it.
He never wanted to kill anyone. After hearing the secret from Du Yunning, he only wanted to escape with wealth and a beautiful woman, not to be found by the Yuan family or Mr. Li, and live carefreely.
Although at first, he only approached Du Yunning with revenge in mind and to get closer to the bright future Mr. Li had constructed for him, as they spent more time together, he gradually developed some feelings. Although he didn't know if these feelings were due to his admiration for the beauty or his pursuit of gold.
But how could a young and inexperienced beast escape the cunning hunter?
"Mr. Li somehow discovered my plan to take Du Yunning away. He threatened me that if I dared to escape his control, he would hand me over to the Yuan family. I only then realized that Sancai, a servant of the Yuan family, was also his spy. My every move was under his surveillance."
"So you killed Du Yunning?"
"I had no choice! I had no choice... He forced me to do it. If I didn't act, he would have killed me, you know!"
Hong Xiaoguang looked pained as he stared at the bottle of alcohol in Yue Dingtang's hand. He wished he could snatch it away and drown his sorrows, forgetting all his troubles.
"That day, Du Yunning gave me the key to the secret vault. That night, Boss Li told me to do it. It was my first time killing someone. Watching her struggle in my hands, slowly losing her breath, I really didn't want to kill her. But Boss Li and Sancai were right beside me..."
Ling Shu: “Did Ah Lan witness all of this?"
Hong Xiaoguang nodded randomly, "Sancai originally wanted to get rid of Ah Lan too, but was stopped by Boss Li. He said that too many people had died and it would be hard to explain. He told me to first stabilize Ah Lan and use money and goods to tempt her. Ah Lan promised not to leak anything."
Ling Shu asked, "Then why did Ah Lan die later? Did Boss Li regret it?"
Hong Xiaoguang replied, "After Ah Lan's death, she always felt that her madam couldn't rest in peace and became paranoid. You were also investigating the case at the time, and Boss Li was afraid she would leak information, so he took action and had Sancai kill her."
Ling Shu asked again, "Did you kill the noodle shop owner Old Xiao? And was it you who tried to kill us when we were talking at the ruins of the noodle shop that night?"
Hong Xiaoguang said, "When the boss made up his mind to blame Du Yunning's death on you, he had already figured out your whereabouts... I, cough cough, I was just following orders. That night, he led you to that place, intending for me and Sancai to kill your companions and frame you. He said that Yue's family had connections, and if Yue Dingtang died, you wouldn't be able to escape. With you in front, no matter what we did, it wouldn't attract attention from others... But I messed up. My aim was off, and I couldn't bring myself to kill. Please spare me, I really had no choice!"
Ling Shu ignored his plea and asked, "Who is Boss Li?"
This was the question he most wanted an answer to. Ordinary people, even if they have malicious intentions and aim to seize the wealth of the Yuan family, would never have raised a well-trained professional killer like Sancai. Sancai had been hiding within the Yuan family all along, and no one had even noticed him.
Ling Shu had already told Yue Dingtang that if it had been Sancai instead of Hong Xiaoguang who had acted that night, Yue Dingtang would have been dead long ago.
"I don't know... I don't even know his real name. All I know is that he is ruthless and will never spare anyone who disobeys or betrays him. If only I had known, I wouldn't have gotten on this thief ship!" Hong Xiaoguang cried.
His handsome face was now wrinkled up, weak and hypocritical, like a peacock with perfect packaging that had been plucked of its colorful feathers, revealing that it was just a bald bird.
If Du Yunning saw him now, she might give herself a slap and regret her foolishness. But it was too late, she had become a sacrifice the moment she stepped into Boss Li's trap.
Compared to Du Yunning, Hong Xiaoguang wasn't any better. Both of them were pawns in Boss Li's hands.
But who was Boss Li? Was he a chess player? Or was he someone else's pawn?
"No," Yue Dingtang suddenly spoke up. "Mr. Li shouldn't have known about the existence of the cellar of gold, so why did he plot against the Yuan family?"
"He did it for..." Hong Xiaoguang's breathing became rapid. "What's beneath the cellar!"
His words were shocking. Ling Shu couldn't help but glance at Yue Dingtang, who showed the same surprise on his face. Does Yuan Bingdao know if there's something else beneath the secret gold vault, and is it something he's hiding?
Just as Ling Shu was about to ask again, Hong Xiaoguang passed out from excessive blood loss.
His breathing was weak, but he wasn't dead yet.
Ling Shu withdrew his hand and walked towards Yue Dingtang.
"Let's first find Shen Renjie and regroup outside before..."
A gunshot interrupted Ling Shu's words!
Both of them were startled.
Shen Renjie felt that tonight's unexpected events were more than he had experienced in the past few years.
He was just an ordinary patrol officer, why did he have to suffer like this?
If he hadn't been so impulsive and followed Yue Dingtang here, he wouldn't have encountered all these things.
Shen Renjie felt bitter as he looked back on his short and ordinary life. He used to feel ashamed of his mediocrity and always wanted a chance to make a difference, but when the opportunity finally came, he realized that being mediocre was actually better.
Peace is a blessing!
"Boss, the car is ready and waiting outside," a voice interrupted Shen Renjie's thoughts.
He saw Sancai walk up to the man in the long robe.
The man nodded, and his gaze under the round hat fell on Shen Renjie, making him feel like he was being stared at by a venomous snake.
"Uh, sir, I was just grabbed to do this job temporarily and I don't know anything. I don't want to know anything either. How about you go ahead and leave me here? I won't say anything. I will definitely repay your kindness!" Shen Renjie's tongue was tied, and he stumbled over his words, not knowing what he was saying towards the end.
"Bring him onto the car and wait for me, I'll meet them," said Sancai, nodding his head.
He roughly pulled Shen Renjie and headed outside.
Shen Renjie heard a gunshot.
His legs went weak.
But then he realized he didn't feel any pain, the bullet didn't hit him.
Meanwhile, Boss Li and Sancai had already started a gunfight inside the room.
Two former allies suddenly turned against each other.
What kind of drama was this?
Shen Renjie was stunned, instinctively rolling to the side and crawling behind a shelf.
"I raised this dog with my own hands, and now he wants to kill me," Shen Renjie heard Boss Li say with a sinister tone.
"Teacher, don't blame me. This is an order from above. They clearly said they wanted gold, but you had other ideas and wanted to keep it all for yourself. Naturally, they are not happy about it," Sancai replied.
Shen Renjie had met Sancai a few times before. At that time, Sancai was timid and answered his questions with hesitation, looking like a naive country bumpkin. He was honest and cowardly, completely different from the calm and ruthless Sancai who now held a gun and killed without hesitation. They were like two different people.
Shen Renjie couldn't help but shrink into the corner, hoping that these two troublemakers would fight each other and both end up injured. That way, he might still be able to save his own life. "I worked hard for them, found what they wanted, and all I asked for was a little bit of gold. But they wanted to kill me, afraid I knew too much," sneered Boss Li.
"I won't end up like that," calmly replied Sancai. "Those who are not of our kind will always have different intentions."
Shen Renjie didn't react much to Sancai's words, but Boss Li's reaction was intense.
"So, you think you're better than us?" he exclaimed.
He said three "good" words in a row, then suddenly fell silent.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
Several gunshots rang out, and the overhead lights went out!
Shen Renjie was suddenly plunged into pitch-black darkness.
The author has something to say: Today, I am different from yesterday. Today, I am a chubby me.
The applause rang out o(￣▽￣)