Ling Shu caught a whiff of floral fragrance.
The first to hit him was the scent of narcissus, rich and strong, instantly infiltrating every corner of his nasal cavity, attempting to occupy all his senses, before giving way to the subtle and elegant aroma unique to winter. The colder it got, the more vibrant it bloomed.
Whose plum blossoms were in full bloom?
As Ling Shu's muddled mind was met with a sea of white, memories slowly came flooding back.
He found himself back at the hospital, going round and round in circles.
Letting out a soft sigh, someone immediately took notice.
"What happened to you?"
A gentle, cautious voice, filled with surprise.
It wasn't his sister, but it sounded familiar.
Ling Shu blinked, staring blankly at the heavily made-up and beautiful woman before finally remembering who she was. This is Ya Qi, a dancer he met in Feilengcu.
"Can you give me some water?" he licked his dry lips.
Ya Qi quickly got up to pour water and sat back down, holding his head up to help him drink.
The soft jade fragrance and gentle gestures were enjoyable for anyone, including Ling Shu.
To avoid any misunderstandings, he chose to take the cup from her hands, even though it took him a few extra seconds.
"How did you find this place?" he asked.
"I asked Cheng Si to bring me here. He had to go back on duty and left first." Ya Qi picked up an apple and peeled it, occasionally glancing at him with affectionate eyes.
"I heard about what happened to you, being falsely accused by the killer. I'm glad you've cleared your name. When you were taken away, I was afraid I would never see you again..."
Ling Shu's attention was focused on one sentence. "The culprit? Have they caught the culprit?"
Ya Qi was puzzled. "Didn't they all die in the explosion? That's what the newspaper said."
Ling Shu asked, "Do you have the newspaper? Let me see."
Ya Qi looked around. "I don't have it here, but maybe another ward does. Wait here, I'll go get a copy for you!"
Before Ling Shu could respond, she ran out in her high heels. In no time, she came back with a copy of the morning paper.
The dust has settled on the Yuan Manor case, and the real culprit is him?!
The sensational headline was enough to attract any reader. The news story took up an entire page, starting with the tragic death of Shanghai socialite Du Yunning in her home, and detailing the explosion at the Yuan Manor before finally mentioning the owner of the Xinyue Cafe.
It turns out that Du Yunning was a regular at the cafe, and when the owner learned of her wealthy background, he hatched a sinister plan to use her to steal from the Yuan family. But his scheme was foiled, and he and his accomplice met a fiery end.
In several hundred words, the author also described the kind and generous nature of the cafe owner, Mr. Li.
When news of his involvement in the plot broke, his neighbors and acquaintances were in disbelief. They couldn't believe that someone like Mr. Li could be capable of such a heinous act, and some even suspected that he was being falsely accused.
The report mentioned that Yuan Bing died from smoking too much opium in the police station. The couple had no children, and although there were some assets left in the safe deposit box, no one could inherit them. They had to be temporarily confiscated until Yuan Bing's two aunts returned to claim them.
Ling Shu's gaze was fixed on the black and white photos of the two small buildings belonging to the Yuan family that had been ravaged by the fire.
The report was undoubtedly detailed, and the journalist must have done a lot of research. Given the credibility of this newspaper, even if the content was somewhat exaggerated, it would not be too far-fetched.
In other words, the journalist believed that he had written everything he had heard and seen truthfully.
But Ling Shu knew that there were many discrepancies between the report and the facts.
Although Boss Li was ruthless, he only acted on orders. The person who could command Sancai was perhaps the real mastermind behind the scenes. Before Yuan Bing's death, his aunt had appeared, but this was not reported. It seemed like a colorful display, but it held no value for Ling Shu, who knew the truth.
"What's wrong?" Ya Qi asked, worried as Ling Shu remained silent for a long time.
Ling Shu shook his head, closed the newspaper, and considered whether to politely send the guest away or just lie down and rest. Then, someone pushed the door open.
Ya Qi was surprised to see the visitor, but when she heard Ling Shu call her "sister," her mood changed instantly. She greeted the visitor with a sincere and natural smile, as if she had jumped from a sandy spring to a brilliant summer.
Ling Yao was delighted to see that Ling Shu was awake, and was somewhat surprised to see Ya Qi.
"Who is this?"
Ya Qi stepped forward, "Hello, my name is Ya Qi and I am a friend of Ling Shu."
She didn't mention her surname or whether she was studying, working, or married, but Ling Yao could guess from her appearance and demeanor.
"Hello, I am Ling Shu's sister. Thank you for coming to visit him. Ling Shu often causes trouble, and with a friend like you, I'm sure you've had your fair share of it."
Ya Qi quickly replied, "No, not at all. I heard that Ling Shu was injured and I was very worried. I just couldn't find out which hospital he was in before!"
Ling Yao smiled, "Now that you've seen that he's okay, you can rest assured. You're so young, you must still be in school. It's time for classes now, so go back and don't miss your studies!"
Ya Qi hesitated to speak, wanting to stay a little longer but finding it difficult to reveal her profession. She forced a smile and bid farewell.
As soon as she left, Ling Yao glared at the person on the sickbed. "Look at you, always attracting the wrong kind of people!"
Ling Shu was indifferent.
"Ya Qi is a good girl, she just fell into the wrong line of work. When did you become so vulgar, sister?"
Ling Yao reached out to poke his forehead but saw the thick bandage wrapped around his head and couldn't bring herself to do it.
"If you have the ability to attract bees and butterflies, then find me a decent sister-in-law instead of hanging out with dancers all day. What kind of future can you have?"
Ling Shu was getting a headache from her scolding and weakly said, "If you keep nagging me, I'll complain to Sister Chunxiao."
What a little rascal! Ling Yao's teeth itched, and she wished she could just stuff her water bottle into his mouth.
"Where is Yue Dingtang? Is he not injured?" Ling Shu couldn't move, but his mouth was never idle, and he asked again.
"He's not any better off than you. He was stabbed in the shoulder and shot in the leg, but fortunately, his life is not in danger. The Yue family arranged for you to have a single room for more convenient rest, and he's next door to you."
Ling Yao still remembers the way Ling Shu was pushed out of the operating room. If it weren't for her husband holding her up, she might have collapsed on the spot.
"How did you end up like this? Is it so dangerous to investigate a case? You shouldn't be a police officer. I'll have your brother-in-law find you a new job. Nothing is more important than safety..."
"Big sister," Ling Shu said helplessly, "this matter has nothing to do with me being a police officer. The fact that I can sit here and talk to you means that continuing my investigation is the right thing to do. You know that too. I may be covered in injuries, but I am not wrongfully accused of murder."
Ling Yao's gaze fell on his left arm, which was wrapped in layers of bandages, and her eyes immediately turned red.
"Can you help me see who sent the gifts on the table?" Ling Shu whined.
Ling Yao had no choice but to walk over to the table and sift through the pile of things.
There were flowers, useful items, and even food.
She didn't realize how many people cared for her little brother, especially women.
Not just Ya Qi from earlier, but also two dancers he had dealings with in the past had sent their condolences.
Ling Yao skipped over a few of the items and went to look at others.
"I know this one, it's from Cheng Si. And a few of your colleagues from the bureau came to see you when you were still unconscious. They left quickly."
"This is a flower from He You'an, and two tickets...oh, is it that movie star He You'an?"
Ling Shu lazily replied, "Now you know your little brother's abilities, don't you?"
Ling Yao scoffed at him, "You must have used your face to deceive people again!"
Ling Shu: ...
Ling Yao naturally confiscated the two tickets. "I'll give them back to you when you behave."
Ling Shu knew she liked He You'an, so he said, "You can go with your brother-in-law, I don't really like watching movies."
After he spoke, he suddenly remembered something. "When I came out earlier, where did my coat go?"
"Why are you looking for it? You made that coat so dirty and damaged, I was planning to find a chance to have it repaired. If it can't be fixed, I'll have to give it to your brother-in-law's relatives in the countryside to wear," said Ling Yao with a regretful tone.
Ling Shu urged, "Quickly bring it here. I put something inside, let me take it out first!"
"You should rest and recover now that you've cleared your name. What else do you need?" Ling Yao replied.
"I don't care, just bring it here. You're the best, sis. I won't be able to sleep if you don't show it to me!" Ling Shu insisted.
Unable to resist Ling Shu's persistence, Ling Yao got up and went to the washroom to take down the coat hanging on the wall. She had to be careful when taking it down because it was covered in dust. Luckily, it was originally gray, or else if it was a light-colored garment, it would be completely ruined now.
"Here it is," she handed it over to Ling Shu. Ling Yao handed over the coat, and Ling Shu snatched it eagerly, sticking his hand inside and rummaging around. His expressions changed rapidly, from suspicion to delight, like a master of Sichuan opera changing faces.
"What's inside? Look at your precious treasure!" Ling Shu hugged the coat tightly, refusing to let go.
"Sis, you can go back now. It has accompanied me through life and death, and now it's my loyal brother in times of trouble. I need to hold it to fall asleep," Ling Shu said, still hugging the dirty coat like a beloved pet, almost kissing it.
Ling Yao suspected that her brother's brain might have been damaged, and not in a normal way.
Not only was he hugging the coat, but he was also shooing her away.
"Sis, you should go back first. You still have to cook for your husband, right? Come back tomorrow, I'll be fine."
After a moment of silence, Ling Yao realized he had no choice but to leave. "Just be careful, and if you need anything, call the nurse. I'll bring you your favorite scallion oil noodles for dinner," he said before departing.
"Thank you, sis!" the patient replied gratefully.
As soon as Ling Yao left, the patient eagerly retrieved something hidden in a secret pocket of his clothes. He pulled out four taels of gold, which he had risked his life to obtain. He was overjoyed.
Before he could even warm his treasure, someone rudely pushed open the door without knocking. Who could be so impolite?
Panicking, the patient quickly stuffed the fish under his body and covered himself with a blanket. It was Yue Dingtang, who had wheeled himself in.
"Are you awake?" he asked, surprised. "Why are you sweating so much? Do you need me to call the nurse?"
Ling Shu said, "No need, that was just me being excited to see you alive after the robbery."
Yue Dingtang: ……
Author's note: It's late tonight. I had to take a break from Weibo earlier because my chubby little cat suddenly had some issues and I had to consider taking it to the hospital tomorrow for a check-up. I've been busy with that, so my word count is lower and I apologize for that. I'll try to make up for it tomorrow.