This was the third death letter she had received.
He You’an looked at the unfolded paper in front of jer, feeling restless.
It was a piece of high-quality Xuan paper, known as the Golden Flower Letter.
During the Tang Dynasty, the imperial palace used this paper to write poems and paint pictures of golden flowers, and it was given to the concubines and courtiers as a trend.
Nowadays, people have been imitating the ancient style and creating a replica of the Golden Flower Letter with hidden patterns, commonly known as the Imitation Golden Flower, which is popular among wealthy young ladies and those who pursue romance.
On this "Imitation Golden Flower" paper, there was a painting.
A beautiful woman in a qipao was pushing open a door, surrounded by withered plants and flowers, broken petals, and a messy tangle of branches and shrubs, left unattended. On the side were two lines of poetry, but it was strange because they weren't handwritten, but rather cut out from a newspaper and pasted on.
"Poor servant girl, living only to die for you."
The qipao-clad woman in the painting couldn't be seen clearly, but her grace and figure were all like He You'an.
Inside the room.
Besides He You'an, there were two other people.
One was Shen Shiqi, pacing back and forth with his hands on his hips.
The other was Teng Siping, the boss of a movie company, sitting across from He You'an.
"I'm telling you, can you stop being so jumpy? This is just a painting and a poem, what can they explain?" Shen Shiqi's tone was very impatient.
He had just been scolded by his uncle on the phone this morning. His uncle was the biggest support of the Shen family and held a superior position. He rarely intervened in small matters directly, but this time he personally called to reprimand Shen Shiqi.
He told him to keep a low profile and not cause trouble for the Shen family all the time. Shen Shiqi was frightened by the scolding and naturally didn't feel good.
He knew why he was scolded, but he didn't expect that the Yue family would go to such lengths for a mere Ling Shu. They even went to the Yue family's head and used his uncle to teach him a lesson.
Shen Shiqi became even more angry.
He didn't dare to argue with his uncle or seek revenge from the Yue family, so he could only vent all his anger on the weak.
"Sorry, maybe I was too nervous," said He You'an with a forced smile, still frowning.
When a beauty is worried, she has a certain charm, even more so than usual, and it makes people feel sorry for her.
Shen Shiqi pursed his lips and regretted it a little.
If he didn't like He You'an, he wouldn't have kept her by his side all the time.
However, their status was disparate, and Shen Shiqi believed that he had saved He You'an from the slums and brought her to the pinnacle of stardom that everyone pursued.
With fame and fortune, coupled with He You'an's gentle words and never being arrogant, Shen Shiqi naturally became more domineering.
But that doesn't mean he doesn't like He You'an.
Teng Siping had a soft spot for women and couldn't bear to see her being scolded after being frightened.
He intervened, "Mr. Shen, if you're busy, you can go first. I'll have someone look into this. It's probably just a prank, no big deal. Miss He was frightened yesterday and her emotions may be unstable. I'll send two people to protect her."
Shen Shiqi's expression softened slightly, although his tone was still not very good, but at least not as harsh as before.
"That's settled then. I'll have the driver take you to Yong'an Department Store. Buy whatever you want and put it on my account. I'll come back tomorrow, okay?"
He pinched He You'an's chin and lifted it slightly, as if observing her expression and reaction.
He You'an responded with a soft and gentle "okay", like a docile sheep snuggling in its owner's arms, obediently accepting whatever punishment was given without resistance.
But such a gentle beauty can sometimes arouse a desire for domination.
Shen Shiqi's heart stirred, but with Teng Siping present, he said nothing. He only lightly hooked his finger under He You'an's delicate chin and slid it down.
He You'an trembled slightly, a small movement that Shen Shiqi noticed. He smiled smugly.
As Shen Shiqi left, Teng Siping looked at her worried expression and couldn't bear it.
"Don't be afraid. I'll have someone follow you. The first two times were just coincidences, don't think too much about it."
Teng Siping's words were meant to comfort her, but as the owner of a film company, there was only so much he could do.
Everyone knew that He You'an was Shen Shiqi's forbidden fruit. Even if Teng Siping had the intention, he had to avoid suspicion. Otherwise, if Shen Shiqi went crazy, not even ten stone lions could hold him back.
He You'an nodded absentmindedly.
To prevent her from thinking about the painting, Teng Siping reached out and snatched the "Imitation Golden Flower" away.
Before He You'an could stop him, he tore the painting into several pieces and lit it on fire with a match. His movements were fierce, as if he could drive away the lingering gloom and bad luck in this way.
He You'an let out a soft sigh.
She had received three strange letters in total.
The envelopes were the same, but the contents were different.
After receiving the letters, strange things began to happen one after another.
The first incident occurred three weeks ago.
He You'an remembered clearly that it was snowing heavily that day. She had just finished filming and the driver had dropped her off at the entrance of her apartment building. The maid was waiting for her at the door.
She was tired and dusty, ready to take a shower and go to bed. As soon as she entered the bathroom, she saw a white cloth bag on the windowsill.
She was curious and thought the maid had dropped something. But when she opened it, she was shocked to find a dead cat inside.
She was frightened and even Shen Shiqi knew about it.
However, he didn't take it seriously and thought the maid was just being malicious. He wanted to fire her, but He You'an stopped him.
The bathroom window faced a small alley outside, secluded and uninhabited. During the day, the maid often opened the window to ventilate the room.
But who could climb up to the second floor? It was no challenge, which meant that the culprit was nowhere to be found.
Besides, it was just a dead cat, at most a scare. Even if He You'an reported the case to the police station, they wouldn't have the manpower to investigate and solve it.
Not long after, He You'an received a letter.
It was also on the same imitation gold flower paper, with only a short poem written on it.
"I couldn't help but worry about your beauty, one day you will join the waste heap of time. Since beauty and fragrance will leave you, watching others grow while you wither away."
As He You'an softly recited these lines of poetry, she was already in the Sun and Moon Pavilion of Baofeng Building.
Sitting across from her were Ling Shu and Yue Dingtang. As the west wind blew stronger in Shanghai, more and more Western restaurants sprouted up like bamboo shoots after a spring rain. Within the concessions, there were also many Japanese restaurants, making this place suddenly feel like an exhibition of international cuisine, with a dazzling array of options that were hard to choose from.
However, the local old-timers still had a strong market presence. After all, China's regional cuisines were already diverse enough, and only the Chinese knew how to cater to the tastes of their own people. Baofeng Building has been open since the late Qing Dynasty, during the Guangxu reign, for only a few decades, but it has already gone through three generations of owners, passing down their culinary skills and earning a reputation.
The private rooms are arranged according to the "Thousand Character Classic," with names like "Heaven and Earth," "Universe and Chaos," "Sun and Moon," and "Stars and Constellations."
This "Sun and Moon Pavilion" is one of the four best private rooms in Baofeng Building, located right next to the "Stars and Constellations Pavilion."
The Eight Immortals table was made of yellow rosewood and looked a bit old, but it must have been polished daily without fail.
The table corners and handles were shining brightly, while the walls and pillars nearby were recently painted and hung with landscape paintings by contemporary masters.
With a slender and fair wrist, He You'an wore a jade-colored and smooth jade bracelet. As she gently turned her hand, the jade and marble tabletop made a crisp sound, as if adding a footnote to her narrative.
The melodious sound of the zither and the beauty in front of him made it a pleasant moment, if not for the threat of death involved. She read intermittently, occasionally recalling some details, and then smiled shyly.
"This seems to be a foreign poem. I don't know any foreign languages myself, so I had someone translate it. I only remember the general meaning, but there shouldn't be much deviation."
Yue Dingtang took the paper she handed him. It was a piece of imitation gold flower paper with beautiful English writing on it. The font was elegant and flowing, truly magnificent. There were only a few lines of English poetry, and the Chinese meaning was similar to what He You'an had just read.
Yue Dingtang slowly spoke, "The poem you just read should be a Chinese translation of Shakespeare's Sonnet. Different translators have different habits and sentence structures, but the meaning is similar."
He You'an asked, "The person who helped translate it said the same thing, but what does the poem actually mean?"
Yue Dingtang replied, "There is no special meaning. Shakespeare wrote many poems like this throughout his life, either praising love or singing the beauty of things. But if you connect it to the assassination incident later, it becomes a bit meaningful."
"Shortly after I received this letter, the premiere assassination incident occurred," nodded He You'an.
At this point, Ling Shu also asked, "What about before you received the dead cat?"
He You'an replied, "After the assassination, the maid was inspired to remember that she had also received a bouquet of flowers with a few words written inside before we found the dead cat package on the bathroom windowsill. At the time, she thought it was from a fan and couldn't read, so she didn't think much of it. Because I often receive bouquets from fans, most of which have three or four lines of greeting cards, I can't open and read every single one."
Ling Shu asked, "Since there were so many bouquets, why did she only remember this one?"
He You'an said, "Because other movie fans usually send roses or lilies, but this bouquet is different. It's a dried bouquet of camellias, which is why the maid thought someone had made a mistake or was playing a prank on me."
It seemed like the camellia flowers had become a symbol of estrangement, especially when they were dried.
If a fan wanted to express their love for a movie star, they wouldn't send dried flowers.
"The first time, it was a dried bouquet of camellias and a card. The second time, it was a sonnet, and then the incident at the premiere happened."
"And now, it's a painting. In the painting, you push open the door and all the flowers around you are withering. You're worried about what's going to happen next."
"’Poor servant girl, living only to die for you.’ Although I'm not very knowledgeable, I can still understand these two lines."
He You'an gave a bitter smile.
It seemed like the dried camellias had become a sign of something ominous, and the gifts from the mysterious admirer were becoming increasingly disturbing.
"I'm worried that someone close to me will suffer this time."
"Who could it be that wants to play such tricks on me? No, he not only wants to play tricks on me, but also wants my life and the lives of those related to me!"
"Mr. Yue, Mr. Ling, to be honest with you, I'm very scared."