Ling Shu thought that He You'an had invited him out to dinner simply to express her gratitude.
But because they were both single, she had also invited Yue Dingtang to avoid any misunderstandings.
Little did they know that the assassination at the cinema was not a coincidence, but rather a part of a larger threat of death.
"The fan who tried to assassinate you escaped during the chaos yesterday. The crowd didn't react in time, and the police have been searching for him ever since, but they haven't found him yet," said Yue Dingtang.
This meant that, given the current efficiency of the police, the chances of finding the culprit were slim to none.
He You'an's face showed no surprise.
"I had expected it, but still thank you all, especially Mr. Ling. If it weren't for you, I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to sit here and talk to you now. I can never repay your kindness, but I'm afraid Mr. Shen might misunderstand if I meet you alone to express my gratitude. Please forgive me."
Naturally, Ling Shu wouldn't care about whether or not he was thanked. Anyone who faced such a threat of death would surely be uneasy.
"It's nothing. I just couldn't stand by and watch. If someone else was in danger, I would do the same. But have you encountered any danger again after that? Has Shen Shiqi done anything to help?"
He You'an smiled bitterly. "Mr. Shen sent two people to protect me. He thinks it's all just a coincidence and that I'm overreacting."
A beauty like her deserved someone who understood her charms, not someone like Shen Shiqi who was clueless. Ling Shu and Yue Dingtang were not the first to feel this way, nor would they be the last.
As an orphan with a delicate heart, He You'an needed someone who loved and protected her, someone who could ease her worries, not a man like Shen Shiqi who was rough and treated her like a canary.
But He You'an was grateful to Shen Shiqi and refused to leave him. Others could only watch and hope that one day she would realize her mistake and escape from her misery.
More and more women are pursuing freedom and liberation these days. Rich girls run away from home for thousands of miles in search of true love, and stories of rebellion against parental orders are not uncommon.
Some end in happy reunions, while others end tragically with the girl being forced to marry after running away from home to study.
Compared to them, women like He You'an, who live in big cities but are still confined by old-fashioned ideas, are truly regrettable.
Yue Dingtang is not like Ling Shu. He doesn't have too much pity for beautiful women. In his opinion, everyone chooses their own path in life.
He You'an has a desire to change her own destiny, so she followed Shen Shiqi.
It was her choice, so she should be prepared to accept the difficulties that come with it. If being forced because of beauty, then being ruthless and cutting off one's appearance would eliminate future troubles and ensure a peaceful life. However, since she couldn't bear to do so, she had to bear the corresponding consequences.
Yue Dingtang coldly believed that the current situation of He You'an was not only due to external factors, but also internal ones. Without Shen Shiqi, there would be Li Shiba and Zhang Shijiu popping up one after another, and it would be useless to resist. In times of chaos, if a beauty lacked the ability to protect herself, she would only become a plaything of the powerful.
He was only interested in the death threat letter that threatened He You'an.
And since Ling Shu was involved, it might not be easy for him to get away.
Therefore, Yue Dingtang focused only on the case itself and discussed it objectively. "Three warnings, the first one seemed more like a prank, just to scare you and make you uneasy. But combined with the other two, the dead cat seems more like a warning."
That dead cat was like a dark cloud looming overhead before a storm, filling people with unease.
And the stabbing at the movie theater was like pressing the button for the storm, with waves crashing and bringing destructive power, also foreshadowing the unrest to come. Because even though He You'an was lucky to be unharmed, it didn't mean that she would be safe in the future.
"Have you offended anyone before? Or to put it another way, among the people you have offended, are there any with strong revengeful hearts, capable of putting you to death, but unwilling to kill you outright and instead torture you in this way?"
Upon hearing Yue Dingtang's words, He You'an furrowed her brows slightly.
"Yes." She didn't ponder for long, obviously having considered this question before.
"Have you heard of Su Tao?"
Ling Shu had a movie-loving older sister, and didn't hesitate to respond, "The female lead in 'Noble Family'?"
He You'an nodded, "In the movie I'm currently filming, she was originally cast as the female lead. But later, Mr. Teng, the boss of my film company, successfully fought for the investment rights, and the female lead was changed to me. Su Tao has said more than once that she wants to get back at me, and someone overheard her."
Ling Shu asked, "Did you have a conflict with her before?"
He You'an sighed and said, "Actually, we knew each other a long time ago and had a good relationship. When we were casting for the movie company, my family wasn't well off, and she often shared her lunch with me. But later on, our paths in the industry became similar, and competition was inevitable."
Yue Dingtang asked, "Is it really enough to make her want to kill someone just for that?"
Ling Shu replied, "I remember last year there was a pretty famous scandal. Su Tao publicly released a statement in the newspaper, accusing you of trying to seduce her husband, Wei Hongxuan. She said that Wei Hongxuan had no interest in you and asked you to have some self-respect."
He You'an continued where Ling Shu left off, sounding increasingly helpless.
"Just before the statement was released, Wei Hongxuan and I collaborated on a movie where we played a married couple. But I swear, I never crossed any boundaries with him."
Yue Dingtang asked, "Have you had any previous contact with Wei Hongxuan?"
He You'an said, "That was a long time ago. I was hit by a yellow cart on the road, and the person sitting in the cartwas him. He apologized to me and took me to the hospital. We gradually got in touch, and he wanted to pursue me. I rejected him because I only saw him as a brother. Later, to avoid suspicion, I moved and cut off contact with him. It wasn't until I acted in a movie and worked with him on screen that we met again."
Yue Dingtang said calmly, "A woman's intuition is the most sensitive. Even if you try to keep your distance, it doesn't stop Wei Hongxuan from being unable to forget his old feelings for you. Su Tao must have noticed this, which is why she is targeting you like this."
He You'an looked embarrassed and said, "Actually, this kind of thing has not been uncommon in the past few years. There are always some ladies who think that there is something going on between me and their husband or boyfriend. But you both know that with Master Shen around, how could I be involved with other men?"
Ling Shu believed this point, after all, at the banquet, everyone could see Shen Shiqi's possessiveness towards He You'an.
Yue Dingtang asked, "Have you had any contact with Wei Hongxuan since Su Tao's public statement last year until now?"
"What happened next made me even more cautious. Whenever there was a chance of encountering Wei Hongxuan, I would try my best to avoid it. Even collaborations in movies were turned down by Boss Teng. But I heard that the relationship between the Wei couple wasn't good. They had public fights on set several times, witnessed by many. Su Tao even attempted suicide by cutting her wrists."
Yue Dingtang asked, "Besides Su Tao, were there any others?"
"There was one more person, named Lu Tongcang."
Lu was a unique surname. In Shanghai, there were hardly any people with the same name, and the only one was quite famous.
Lu Tongcang was originally from Sichuan and was a big shot in his gang, even at the level of a boss.
Later, for reasons unknown, he left Sichuan and came to Shanghai to start a business. His business was involved in both legal and illegal activities, especially in the inland transportation industry.
He had good relations with members of the Qing gang and was considered a half-celebrity in the gang. He was ruthless and extremely loyal to the gang, and he valued his reputation above all else.
One day, Lu Tongcang met He You'an and was immediately captivated by her. With his status and position, he could have anyone he wanted, and Shen Shiqi could hardly resist him. Even when he learned of Lu Tongcang's intentions, he dared not speak out and simply accepted the situation.
However, to his surprise, He You'an refused. She attended Lu Tongcang's banquet, and he pointed to a large jar of wine, saying that if she could drink it all, he would no longer force her. Otherwise, He You'an would have to stay by his side forever.
Despite her delicate appearance, He You'an was surprisingly fierce. She immediately poured herself bowl after bowl of the strong liquor, drinking until she was vomiting and crying, but still refusing to beg for mercy.
In front of everyone, although Lu Tongcang's face was grim, he couldn't go back on his word and had to let He You'an go. However, since then, Lu Tongcang has been at odds with He You'an, even going out of his way to support the rival company and suppress He You'an's reputation.
Yue Dingtang pondered for a moment.
"From your description, it seems that Lu Tongcang wants you to submit to him and not necessarily take your life. If he wanted to kill you, he wouldn't have gone through all this trouble. He could have just sent someone to do it directly. Why bother with all this mystery?"
He You'an forced a bitter smile, "Lu Tongcang may not do it himself, but his subordinates might. Lu Tongcang has a capable right-hand man named Jiang He, who is devoted to him and thinks that Lu Tongcang pays too much attention to me. He believes it could become a weakness for Lu Tongcang and even sent someone to warn me and try to ruin my appearance. Fortunately, Mr. Teng discovered it and sent people to help me. Although Jiang He hasn't acted again, every time I meet Lu Tongcang, he always stands behind him with a cold, sinister look in his eyes, making me feel like I'm being targeted by a poisonous spider, trapped with no escape."
"There's also the fact that Master Shen has some enemies. They can't harm him directly, so sometimes they come after me. Before, there was an attempted kidnapping of Master Shen, and once when we were out together, the car suddenly had a flat tire and there was a bomb hidden in the back."
It seemed that there were quite a few people who wanted He You'an dead.
Indirectly or directly, she was pushed to the forefront of danger. Countless pairs of eyes watched her every move, filled with ill intentions, jealousy, and hatred born from love. She was surrounded by hidden threats, unable to move forward or backward.
In the end, it all came down to one thing.
When beauty doesn't come with the corresponding power to protect oneself, it becomes a disaster rather than a blessing.
Although He You'an seemed to be showered with endless love, she was actually helpless and could only rely on Ling Shu and Yue Dingtang.
After all, they had just become famous in Shanghai for solving the Yuan family’s murder case.