In a single night, the attitude of the prison towards Ling Shu had changed drastically.
At first, when he was brought in, the people here were still quite courteous to him.
Shen Renjie was an old slickster. Although he was on official business, he still had some room for maneuvering in his words and deeds. In the evening, he even arranged for extra entertainment for him. Although money can make the ghosts grind, it also depends on the other party's flexibility.
But everything changed after Ling Shu woke up from his sleep.
Not only was the interrogator changed, but even Shen Renjie's attitude towards him was no longer so accommodating.
Shen Renjie was the one escorting him out.
"Old Shen, we can be considered as having some relations. Give me a signal. Where are we going?"
Shen Renjie looked cold and didn't say anything, completely different from the night before when he had been close to Ling Shu.
Ling Shu didn't mind. Human relations are cold and warm, and he had experienced it these years.
What's more, Shen Renjie was a stranger, so of course he couldn't expect the other party to have much friendship.
Do you think I could ever kill anyone? When I clear my name, we will still be brothers in arms. You know my brother-in-law works at the municipal government, but you don't know he's in charge of housing, right? You said your parents still live in the old house, don't you want to get them a new one?
Shen Renjie didn't intend to bother him, but when he heard this, he couldn't help but sneer: "Your brother-in-law has been arrested. How can he still help? What kind of help can he give in prison? Just give up struggling, you can't protect yourself now."
Ling Shu said seriously: "Old Shen, you know what the world is like now. Bribery and corruption, big or small. My brother-in-law is an honest person. Not to mention that it is absolutely impossible for him to do this, even if he was framed and implicated, he was still able to become the head of the municipal government at a young age. Don't the superiors have someone? Think about it, when he comes out, he will certainly do his best to exonerate me."
Shen Renjie didn't say anything, but he didn't interrupt Ling Shu either.
Ling Shu knew he was listening intently.
"Our Ling family also has some financial means, although not as much as before. We still have some money to pay for my release if we need to. We can make a big thing into a small thing, and a small thing into nothing. Then we'll both be good people again. We're all in Shanghai, so we can look each other in the eye. It's convenient for both of us, right?"
"This is an order from above. It's not up to me."
Shen Renjie finally softened a bit.
Ling Shu: "I know, it's not your fault. But where are they taking me? What kind of charge are they pressing against me?"
Shen Renjie thought for a moment, then sighed: "I hear they're transferring you to the Central Prison. I don't know the specifics. Don't think too hard about how to get out of this. It's impossible! If your family comes to visit, tell them to find connections quickly and save your life. Don't come back to the prison and not know how you're going to die!"
He was not threatening. Ling Shu was currently carrying the suspicion of murder, and he didn't kill just anyone--he killed a famous lady from Shanghai with an even more famous husband. In this situation, public opinion would quickly turn against him, and Ling Shu wouldn't have any chance to escape.
Although Shen Renjie didn't seem like a murderer, in today's world where the tide of the times was ever-changing, were there not still criminals who were hypocritical and self-righteous?
"Hey, Old Shen, I have an idea."
Just then they reached the doorway, and the car was already waiting for them.
Shen Renjie was shocked at what he heard whispered in his ear.
"Are you crazy?!"
Half an hour later, Shen Renjie felt it was not Ling Shu who had gone mad, but himself.
The two of them stood at the entrance of Ling Shu's home.
"You only have an hour," Shen Renjie said nervously, "I can't help you for too long, if I don't return beyond an hour, they'll start suspecting!"
Ling Shu comforted him, "Don't worry, you'll come in with me and when the time comes, you'll take me away immediately. I won't implicate you, my sister loves me so much, she'll definitely help me out, and you'll be involved too."
If it wasn't for this benefit, Shen Renjie wouldn't have taken the risk to run away in the middle, and the other two people accompanying them wouldn't have turned a blind eye.
Everyone tacitly agreed, pretending that Ling Shu was just in a hurry to use the restroom.
Ling Shu knew this was risky.
Ever since he was identified as the murderer, things had been heading out of control.
It felt like someone was throwing a net over his head, tightly binding him and not letting him leave.
The matter of his brother-in-law was even more abrupt and strange.
On this trip home, he had no choice but to go back.
Aunt Hong opened the door.
After getting married, Ling Yao brought her younger brother and the family servant, Aunt Hong, to live with them.
This old servant had watched Ling Yao and her brother grow up and to them, she was like family.
However, upon meeting each other, Ling Shu felt something was off.
Aunt Hong's expression was no different from usual.
It was precisely because of this that something was wrong.
If Ling Yao's husband had been taken away for suspected corruption, and Ling Yao herself was implicated in a murder, the family should have been in chaos by now. The old servant shouldn't have been able to open the door so slowly, with a relaxed face, not showing even a bit of tension.
Seeing him, the old servant's face lit up with surprise.
"You're back! No one's seen you for a day and a night, where did you go? You didn't even ask someone to carry a message. The young mistress was so worried. Oh, you must be careful now, there are guests in the house, don't make the young mistress angry in front of outsiders!"
Aunt Hong kept chattering as Ling Shu felt a headache, especially when he heard the last sentence. He unconsciously asked, "Who came?"
"It's your old classmate, a Mr. Yue."
Other than Yue Dingtang, who else could be this old classmate with the surname Yue?
Ling Shu’s heart rang with alarm.
He suddenly realised that he had probably stepped into a trap, but it was too late to back out.
Ling Yao walked out from inside, her expression transforming from surprise to worry in a few seconds.
"Where have you been all day and night, you didn't even come back last night!"
Ling Shu laughed dryly, "I met an old friend, catching up. I forgot to tell someone I was coming back and made you worry, sis!"
He shifted his gaze towards Ling Yao and hastily changed the topic.
"Is there a guest?"
"It's Dingtang. Do you remember him? You two were close during school and he even came to the house for dinner. He recently returned from studying abroad, it's been so long since you guys last saw each other, you must have lots to talk about."
Ling Yao laughed and gestured for him to come in. Suddenly, she sniffed and furrowed her brows.
"What's that smell on you?"
Ling Shu replied calmly, "I probably drank some wine last night, just stayed over at a friend's place."
Ling Yao: "I heard from Cheng Si that you went to the club and stayed overnight, hm?"
She shifted her gaze to Shen Renjie beside Ling Shu.
"And who's this?"
Ling Shu didn't bat an eye, "This is a brother I met on a business trip. He's a patrol officer from the public concessionary side. He's the old friend I just mentioned and we went out to drink last night."
Shen Renjie didn't know whether to laugh or put on a serious face, his expression becoming a bit awkward.
"Welcome, you are a guest, let's go inside," Ling Yao said with puzzlement, but thankfully didn't ask too many questions.
As they talked, Ling Shu and Shen Renjie saw Yue Dingtang sitting on the sofa in the living room reading the newspaper.
He was wearing a neat three-piece suit, his hair not combed all the way back, a bit of hair oil added but not too much, still looking fresh. A pair of thin-rimmed glasses was perched on the bridge of his nose. In Ling Shu's eyes, he was a real 'animal in human clothing, with a heart as savage as a beast.'.
Yue Dingtang heard the noise and looked up, smiling at them.
"Ling Shu is back?"
The smile was like seeing an old friend after a long time apart, especially friendly and joyful, with a hint of excitement that was hard to detect beneath the surface.
But to Ling Shu, the other person was more like a hunter waiting for a rabbit, and he had just stumbled into a foolish one – himself.
Shen Renjie was stunned and realized his brain wasn't working. So instead of going up and greeting Yue Dingtang, he just stood there.
Yue Dingtang's expression did not look like that of a person who had come to punish them, much unlike in the interrogation room.
Shen Renjie had no idea what kind of attitude to take.
"You're here too," Yue Dingtang nodded at him, a hint of amusement on his face as if he had expected it.
Shen Renjie suddenly said: "I suddenly remembered I have something urgent to do and need to rush back, so I won't disturb you guys catching up!"
Ling Yao saw that he was about to leave and hurriedly tried to stop him: "Can't you stay for a bit longer?"
"No, no!" Shen Renjie forced a smile and turned to Ling Shu, making a gesture with his mouth: "I'll be waiting outside."
He left in a hurry, without lingering, and Ling Yao couldn't stop him. All she could do was say: "Go, hurry and send your friend off!"
Ling Shu said: "No need, he knows the way."
Ling Yao felt that the two of them were acting strange, and she didn't want to ask too many questions in front of Yue Dingtang.
Yue Dingtang smiled: "What's wrong? When he saw me, your old classmate didn't seem too happy?"
Ling Shu, who was good at putting on an act, feigned a smile.
"How could I not be happy? I was just too excited. Old Yue, look at you, you've aged so much. I almost didn't recognize you. How many years has it been since we last saw each other?"
The words "many years" were stressed especially heavily, and he turned his greeting and friendly words towards Yue Dingtang into a passionate smile and opened his arms to welcome him.
In front of Ling Yao, Yue Dingtang awkwardly moved closer, but then he was suddenly pulled into a bear hug by Ling Shu, and the smell of the jail that he had been in for a day and a night was pressed on to him.
Yue Dingtang: ....
Ling Yao was very pleased: "I didn't expect that after so many years, your feelings for each other are still so strong!"
Yue Dingtang curled his lips, finally understanding what it meant to lift a stone to smash one's own feet.
He stiffened his body, allowing Ling Shu to hold him for one second, two seconds, three seconds.
"Don't be too excessive!" Yue Dingtang couldn't take it anymore, his voice squeezing out from between his teeth.
"To each their own," Ling Shu coldly laughed without a sound.
"Big sis, I'm hungry, can you help me prepare something to eat? I haven't seen Old Yue for a long time, so let's catch up."
After a few seconds, he finally took pity on Yue Dingtang and released him, then turning back to give orders to Ling Yao.
Ling Yao furrowed her brows, disdainfully looking at his disheveled attire: "Don't you even want to take a shower first!"
Yue Dingtang: "It's fine, big sis, Ling Shu and I are old classmates, it's rare to run into each other, let us chat first."
Ling Yao shot a glare at Ling Shu, implying for him to be better behaved.
"I'll go prepare lunch for you two, Dingtang should stay here for lunch today, I'll have Aunt Hong make some extra dishes!"
"Thanks, big sis."
Yue Dingtang was courteous and straightforward at the same time, making Ling Yao unable to help but smile as she left.
Ling Shu clearly saw that his big sis had a really good impression of Yue Dingtang, wishing that he would stay for dinner as well.
Watching Ling Yao's figure disappear into the kitchen, the corner of Ling Shu's mouth that had been carelessly curved became cold.
He looked towards Yue Dingtang, who was seated on the other sofa, and smiled insincerely.
"My brother-in-law was arrested for alleged bribery and embezzlement - I suppose this must be the false news you sent to scare me?"
With Ling Yao and Aunt Hong gone, Yue Dingtang no longer had the energy to pretend. He adjusted himself into a slightly more relaxed posture.
"Did I sleep with your wife or burn your family alive - is that why you won't let me go?"
Ling Shu was getting a bit angry. The carefree, elegant look he had in prison was no longer present. The scarf was hung messily around his neck, and its owner was like an impatient and angry wolf, ready to destroy the place.
Yue Dingtang thought his metaphor was quite accurate, but sadly he couldn't say it out loud or else the other person would really come and bite him.
"If I hadn't forced you, you would still be spinning circles around me."
Ling Shu sneered: "I don't understand what you mean."
Yue Dingtang: "Your confession is not complete and there are still things you haven't said."
Ling Shu: "Solving the case is your responsibility."
Yue Dingtang: "But your life is in your own hands. Even though your brother-in-law is unharmed, you bribed the officer to escape without permission. What kind of crime do you think you’re guilty of?"
Seeing that Ling Shu did not respond, he continued: "You also know that all the evidence in this case points to something disadvantageous to you. If you want to clear up your suspicions, you will have to cooperate with me and tell me everything. This will benefit not only Du Yunning, but also you."
The two men stared at each other in silence.
Could he trust him?
A huge doubt arose in Ling Shu's heart.
Many years ago, his relationship with Yue Dingtang started with a fight and ended in a cold war, so it was not pleasant.
Therefore, when he saw his former classmate participating in his arrest and interrogation, Ling Shu found it difficult to not connect the surname Yue to revenge.
It was hard to change the established impression.
But now, it seemed he had no choice.
"I suspect," Ling Shu finally spoke up slowly, "that Du Yunning is not dead."
Author's note: Ling Yao: Old classmates should be like this. When they meet, they can forget about past grievances and laugh together. Come on, let's laugh.
Yue Dingtang: Hehe.
Ling Shu: Hehe.