Killing Mr. Cheng was not an easy task.
I had to set up a complete plan.
Firstly, I needed to clear myself of suspicion. Mr. Cheng and Shen Shiqi had never fully trusted me because of my brother's identity. If they suspected me, the whole plan would fall apart.
Secondly, I had to ensure that no one around me would be implicated. Even if the worst happened and I failed and died, it was best if it only affected me and didn't spread any further.
That's why I received a series of death threats aimed at myself.
Directly or indirectly assassinating Mr. Cheng was clearly not feasible.
Mr. Cheng was an extremely suspicious person.
Despite his wealth and abilities, he could have easily frequented high-end places in Shanghai and chatted with many important people without having to act so low-key.
However, he knew that if his identity was exposed, it could easily lead to various unforeseen circumstances.
Even when it came to eating, he had to have someone taste his food first, just like an ancient emperor.
This was something his previous lover did, and later, it was something I did.
For those around Mr. Cheng, this was not a difficult task, but rather a sign of his trust in them.
To this day, I still cannot understand why I was "fortunate" enough to be the one to try his food, medicine, and even poison.
Perhaps, this is the allure of power and money, something I may never fully comprehend.
The threat of death loomed over me, escalating from a warning left on the second-floor window sill of my residence to an assassination attempt at the premiere.
But I never showed mercy to myself. I knew I had to fully immerse myself in the role to gain the trust of intelligent people like Mr. Ling and Mr. Cheng.
Of course, I couldn't pull off the entire scheme alone.
Luckily, my late brother had a friend named Chen who also wanted to kill Mr. Cheng. From start to finish, I relied on his help.
The man who tried to kill me at the premiere was another friend of Chen's named Xiao, and I had no idea where they came from or if there were others behind them.
All I knew was that we shared the same goal: to see Mr. Cheng dead.
Since we were on the same path, we were kindred spirits.
I told Mr. Chen not to hold back, just avoid the vital areas and inflict serious injuries on me, so as to gain their trust. I never expected Mr. Ling to appear.
Your intervention saved me from harm, but it also gave me the idea to involve you in this. I'm sorry to drag you into this, but your special status as outsiders, coupled with your fame for solving the case at Yuan Manor and the background of the Yue family, made me invite you to investigate the death threat. This way, Shen and Cheng would not suspect anything.
Later, I invited you to dine at the restaurant, and the adjacent room was where Shen Shiqi and Cheng Gong met in secret.
This was not a coincidence.
My intention was not to eavesdrop, but to make Cheng Gong notice me.
A few years ago, I was just a lonely girl.
Despite having decent looks, my lack of experience and knowledge failed to catch Mr. Cheng's attention.
But now, things are different.
The aura of being a movie star adds a certain charm to my persona.
Mr. Cheng had only seen me on the silver screen, but not in person. Comparing the two, the feeling of being amazed only grows stronger.
I am confident that I can make him fall for me at first sight, or at least leave a lasting impression.
Ling Shu couldn't help but exclaim, "He You'an has a deep understanding of human nature!"
Upon reading this, Yue Dingtang corrected him, "It should be said that she has a good grasp of men's thoughts."
Ling Shu nodded, "Not bad. Do you remember when I had a conflict with Shen Shiqi at the restaurant? I knew she wanted to avoid suspicion and had no intention of drawing attention to herself. If she had just stayed in the private room, nothing would have happened."
Yue Dingtang replied, "But she appeared unnecessarily and let Mr. Cheng see her face."
Ling Shu explained, "She came dressed up that day. I thought it was just a woman's love for beauty, and she didn't want to relax even during a private gathering."
Yue Dingtang said, "Now you know she was there for Mr. Cheng."
Ling Shu rubbed his nose, "I didn't expect that I, who thought I was clever, would be used once."
Yue Dingtang asked, "She didn't come for you at all. Are you disappointed?"
Ling Shu honestly replied, "A little. Don't tell me you're not?"
Yue Dingtang answered, "No, I'm not."
Ling Shu looked at him suspiciously, as if trying to find some clues from the other's expression.
But Old Yue remained calm and composed, like an old god.
Ling Shu was convinced: "You must have liked He You'an before!"
Even if it wasn't love, there must have been at least some fondness. Who wouldn't feel something for such a peerless beauty?
Yue Dingtang replied, "No matter how beautiful someone is on the outside, it's not what I'm looking for. The person I like must have a deep understanding of me. They should know what I want to do before I even say it. That's what a true soulmate is."
Ling Shu clicked his tongue in admiration, "I didn't expect you, Old Yue, to have such romantic ideas. No wonder you studied in France. I thought you were like your older brother, having one at home and one outside!"
At the beginning of the Republic of China, the government advocated for civilized marriages, but the remnants of the previous dynasty still prevailed. Those powerful and influential families not only took in concubines, but also remarried while still married to their original wives.
"He is him, and I am me. Women like He You'an are not to my liking. Only you are easily swayed by their beauty and can be softened by their tears and words."
Yue Dingtang couldn't resist his addiction to smoking and reached for his cigarette case, but didn't want to miss the contents of the letter.
"However, I do admire her determination and perseverance. If it were anyone else, they would have been caught before killing Naritagu, and the plan would have failed."
Ling Shu took a few sips of water to moisten his throat and felt that he had rested enough, so he picked up the letter and continued reading.
The journey of He You'an was actually a tragic one, a runaway train that couldn't be stopped.
Just as Yue Dingtang said, Ling Shu admired her determination, but couldn't bear to witness her fate.
It's as if by reading slower, we could prevent the tragedy from happening.
Sure enough, as I expected, Mr. Cheng couldn't forget about me and contacted me through Shen Shiqi.
Although Shen Shiqi didn't want to let go, he also didn't dare to offend Mr. Cheng, so I smoothly arrived by Mr. Cheng's side.
The story was far from over, it had only just begun.
Mr. Cheng was even more suspicious and cautious than Shen Shiqi.
Even after several years of proving my innocence, he still wouldn't trust me too much.
It wasn't until we were on a trip and he was shot in an assassination attempt that I didn't hesitate to throw myself on top of him to protect him.
Although I was unharmed, I won his trust because of it.
Don't get me wrong, the assassination attempt had nothing to do with me. People like Mr. Cheng may have a low profile, but they definitely have enemies.
Later on, I took the initiative to try dishes for him, which gradually made him see me as one of his own and even developed deep feelings for me.
Of course, I used many methods and put in a lot of effort, some of which were things I learned from my years of interacting with men, but I won't go into detail here.
In short, Mr. Cheng abandoned all other women around him and saw me as his only one, planning to spend the rest of his life with me.
He proposed that we leave Shanghai, and from the tone of his voice, it seemed like he wanted to go far away and not come back for several years, or even longer.
Shanghai was his foundation, where he achieved most of his power and status. Leaving Shanghai would mean that he would still have food and clothing, but that was not what he wanted.
Unless he had a more important mission.
I had no way of knowing more, nor did I want to dig deeper and expose myself to danger. Because I knew that the moment to act had come. And the best time was on the plane to Hong Kong.
I had to strike with one blow, with no room for regret or failure. If you are reading this letter, it means that I have succeeded.
As for the death of my maid Qian Shi , it was actually my doing, because she was a spy planted by Shen Shiqi by my side.
I only used this person to remove an obstacle on my path to killing Naritagu.
I never thought that as a weak woman with no strength, I could become so adept at killing, without any fear or guilt. They say that prostitutes have no mercy and actors have no loyalty, perhaps I embody both.
I didn't plan on leaving this letter.
But last time at the hospital, even when Mr. Ling suspected me, he still warned me to be careful. So I decided to tell you everything, so you wouldn't be kept in the dark.
After you said goodbye to me that day, I put this letter and the payment I gave you in the 7708 safe deposit box.
Mr. Ling, thank you. You are a good person.
Unfortunately, I have let down your trust and care. But if I hadn't involved you, we would still be strangers and I wouldn't have met the two of you.
In that sense, it's not a bad thing. At least I now know that there are people like you in this world who are righteous and kind-hearted.
I killed Mr. Cheng not for justice or for the people, but for personal revenge.
However, if in avenging myself, I can also save more people from suffering the same fate as him, then I would be very happy.
In my lifetime, I hope to do more than just be a performer. I want to contribute in any small way I can to my country and its people.
I have limited knowledge and abilities. Since entering the film industry, I have read more scripts than books. Killing one Naritagu may not be enough, as there are countless others like my brother who have suffered and died.
However, I can only think of one solution to ensure the happiness and peace of more people in the future. I must rely on knowledgeable and capable gentlemen like you two.
My brother's illegitimate child is placed in a location that you have received a hidden poem about, which I believe you now know. For his safety, I have rarely visited him in person.
But if both Mr. Cheng and I were to die, the child should no longer have to hide and live in secrecy. I ask that you help me bring him out and find a reliable family to adopt him.
The adoptive parents don't need to come from a wealthy family, as long as they are kind and courteous, and raise the child to be independent and self-reliant. If it's too much trouble, the child can be placed in an orphanage.
I know we've only just met, and this is asking a lot of you both. I am grateful for your help and will repay you in the next life.
As I finish writing, I realize that words can never truly express my gratitude. Thank you for patiently listening to my ramblings. My writing may be poor, but I hope you can forgive me.
I dream of a future where our country is no longer poor and weak, where everyone has enough to eat and wear, and ordinary people are strong and intelligent. No one will have to wander or abandon their children, and those with malicious intentions will no longer threaten us.
Mr. Ling and Mr. Yue, I hope you both can see that day come.
The scent of smoke fills the air. Yue Dingtang couldn't resist and lit a cigarette, which was already halfway smoked.
The sound of tobacco burning in the reception room became clear. Ling Shu held the letter and stared at the last two words of He You'an's letter, lost in thought.
Until Yue Dingtang spoke up.
"There's a compartment in this box."
Ling Shu followed his gaze and saw that he was pulling out a velvet board from the box. Sure enough, there was a thin booklet underneath.
Yue Dingtang opened it, and it only had a few pages with no text, only a series of numbers, sparsely distributed in rows, making it incomprehensible.
Ling Shu said, "This seems to be-"
"A codebook," Yue Dingtang interrupted.
In an instant, memories were triggered, connecting the dots!
"The newspaper! 'Lin'an Daily'!" Ling Shu suddenly exclaimed!
Yue Dingtang asked, "Do you remember the date?"
"I do, but I gave that newspaper to He You'an and I doubt she still has it," Ling Shu replied.
"The content corresponding to this codebook wouldn't be printed in a separate newspaper. It must be within the pages of the newspaper. Let's go to the library. They must have a copy of the Lin'an Daily from that day," Yue Dingtang suggested.
Without delay, the two of them grabbed the box and left the meeting room, heading straight to the periodicals room of the local library.
There, they found a collection of newspapers from the past decade, both big and small.
"December 17th newspaper... no, that's from last year. I found an old newspaper on Chen Youhua, so I need to find one from last year," Ling Shu muttered as he searched through the papers.
"Here it is."
On the other side, good news came from Yue Dingtang and he immediately went over.
"The December 17th issue of the Lin'an Daily, yes, match it with the codebook quickly. It's marked in red here, it should be this page! There's so much content in this newspaper, which article is the real intelligence?"
"Try looking from right to left, use the numbers on this page to match the word in the report."
"Four, eight, thirteen, seven, three, eighty-eight, seventy-six..."
Ling Shu wrote down each word as he found it. These individual, unrelated words looked completely chaotic at first glance. Yue Dingtang rearranged and sorted them into a coherent sentence.
"The Japanese army intends to take Chengde and aim for Beijing."
The two of them were slightly stunned. This was undoubtedly outdated intelligence. In just the past month, the Japanese army fired their first shot from Yuguang and quickly took over Rehe before attacking Gubeikou.
There were those who surrendered without a fight, those who would rather die than surrender, those who fled in the face of battle, and those who fought fiercely with bloodshed. The news was everywhere, even in Shanghai.
But this sentence in the intelligence report was already a done deal.
Even though it was outdated, there were people like Chen Youhua and Xiao Jun who gave up their lives for these few words.
"Did this intelligence ultimately get sent out?"
"It should have been sent out, but in reality, it wouldn't make much of a difference," Yue Dingtang said in a low voice. "The Japanese have had their sights set on swallowing up all of China since they started. And now, the situation has indeed turned out that way. Compared to that, the death of Naritagu is even more significant. His subordinates with hidden agendas will undoubtedly be targeted because there is no leader, and they may even be uprooted. Even if his successor takes over quickly, it will take several years to rebuild an intelligence network and a network of personal connections."
Ling Su fell silent for a moment. "So, the sacrifice of He You'an was valuable."
Yue Dingtang affirmed, "Yes! Naritagu is deeply rooted, and with him there, it will be difficult to eradicate this point in Shanghai. But now, for some people, it is at least an opportunity. Moreover, He You'an also mentioned in her letter that the Naritagu may have received even more important tasks, which is one of the reasons why He You'an made up her mind to take action."
Ling Shu said, "I just didn't expect her to set up such a big plan."
Yue Dingtang replied, "I also didn't expect that she, as a mere woman, could achieve such a feat. It is rare in the world."
It's hard to imagine that on the plane, life and death are just a thought away.
On one side, there is the sweet and tender love of a lover.
On the other side, there is the belief of avenging a brother.
If only He You'an had given up that dangerous idea, she could have lived carefree with Naritagu, traveling to the ends of the earth. But she still chose the most difficult decision, the path of self-destruction.
Even though she claimed to be just a vengeful actress with no sense of patriotism, in Ling Shu's eyes, she was braver than most men.
People slandered and criticized her, calling her a clinging vine to men, but they didn't know what amazing feat she would eventually accomplish.
Perhaps in a few years, someone will discover this secret and uncover the story of this remarkable woman. Or maybe it will forever be lost to time and never see the light of day again.
But Ling Shu will never forget the three words "He You'an," representing a stunning legend.
The sky outside had already turned completely dark. It was almost time for the newspaper office to close. The two of them put the newspapers back and Ling Shu walked to the library door, where he borrowed a match from Yue Dingtang and lit it.
In the darkness, a cluster of flames ignited and consumed He You'an's farewell letter and the codebook, bit by bit, until they were reduced to ashes and carried away by the night wind.
"I feel like having a bowl of scallion oil noodles," Ling Shu suddenly said.
Yue Dingtang responded with an 'Mm-hmm', saying,"Let's have Zhou Uncle make it when we get back."
This time, he was surprisingly easy to talk to.
Because Yue Dingtang knew that Ling Shu wasn't really craving the taste of scallion oil noodles, but rather wanted to borrow the bowl of noodles to return to the warmth of the world of mortals.
The memories belonging to He You'an did not disappear with the burning of the letter, but instead settled even deeper in their minds.
The two of them walked down the steps side by side, blending into the chill of early spring.
The author has something to say:
With this chapter, the story of the late-night snack comes to a temporary end. The details of what happens next will be revealed in the next chapter. Sweet dreams, dear readers. Thank you for living in a peaceful era where we can write and read without forcing ourselves.
Although the historical background is a bit unique, the main characters are not burdened and are a happy couple. So, don't worry.