As Bingxin and I untied the girls one by one, we learned that they were transported here from other provinces. I originally assumed we had inadvertently run into a human trafficking syndicate, though I later realized they were directly related to this case.
After I described Luo Youyou's features to them, the girls denied ever seeing her. Suddenly, a loud crash sounded from a distance, followed by a thunderous bang.
Bingxin and I exchanged a meaningful look. “We should investigate that!"
I placed the girls in charge of monitoring the two traffickers and explained that the police would soon arrive. Aware of their hatred for these men, I specifically reminded them not to do anything untoward.
Bingxin and I bound down the stairs and ran towards the direction of the crash. From a distance, we could hear Dali cry, "Youyou, are you alright?"
At a glance, there crouched a crying Dali with Luo Youyou in his arms while Song Xingchen stood aside, left hand hanging down feebly. There were several long tire marks on the ground and a fallen wall.
Song Xingchen explained that Luo Youyou heard their shouts and ran out from her hiding place. Dali pulled her into his arms with tears of joy, only for a car to appear out of nowhere, accelerating at full speed towards the couple.
At the time, the two were frightened deer in the headlights, motionless and awaiting the impact. Song Xingchen slammed into them so they avoided the accident but was left with an injury instead. Then, the car sped off after crashing into the wall.
It turned out that Luo Youyou was fine despite her soiled clothes. She was probably too nervous and fainted from shock.
Thank goodness they were alright!
I glanced at Song Xingchen's arm but the man still downplayed the situation. "I’m alright, it’s a minor injury."
From the unnatural way his arm drooped, I knew it was broken. "Stop trying to be brave!” I said. “Let me have a look!"
A light touch of the hand made Song Xingchen furrow his brows and break into cold sweat. The bone was indeed broken. "You should get that sorted at once. It’ll be troublesome if there’s a misalignment."
For lack of equipment, I removed my coat, grabbed the scissors Bingxin handed to me and cut off both sleeves. Then, Bingxin gathered some bamboo sticks which I used to stabilize his arm. Song Xingchen seemed inept at expressing his feelings. "Thank you!" he muttered under his breath.
"You're welcome!” I chuckled. “Take a few days off and rest!"
"No, I must protect you!" Song Xingchen shook his head.
I pointed to my eyes and whispered, "These are enough. I just killed a man with them. Even I can't believe it!"
A trace of surprise flashed across Song Xingchen’s countenance but he didn’t ask for the details. He only cared about my personal safety, not the progress of the case.
We walked over to check on Luo Youyou. Dali tried pinching her and actually managed to rouse her from unconsciousness. "Dali, I'm thirsty,” mumbled Luo Youyou.
"I'll get you some water!" Dali replied.
"There’s half a bottle left, if you don’t mind drinking after me.” I grabbed the energy drink.
After sipping a mouthful, Luo Youyou looked much better. I asked her to narrate the kidnapping.
Luo Youyou explained that she purchased a train ticket home immediately after her quarrel with Dali. Then, she found a cafe to have lunch and was chatting with her classmate when she received a call from Zhou Yang inviting her out.
Luo Youyou had grown frustrated with Zhou Yang who continuously harassed her since last night. She was about to hang up the call but Zhou Yang insisted it was a matter of importance and asked her where she was. He said he would come look for her and promised to stand by the side of the road for the entirety of their conversation.
A while after Luo Youyou reported her address, Zhou Yang came in a car. He was sitting in the passenger seat beside an unknown driver. Zhou Yang appeared flustered and repeatedly winked at her.
Realizing something was wrong, Luo Youyou was prepared to run when the man threatened, "Get in the car or I'll kill him!"
It turned out that he was holding a syringe containing some unknown drug inserted into Zhou Yang's flesh. The phone call was made under duress.
"What did the man look like?" I interrupted.
"He was wearing a hat and a mask so I could only see his eyes. His eyes were dazed and made him seem quite old. What impressed me most was his hands. His fingernails were all corroded," recalled Luo Youyou.
I nodded and motioned for her to continue.
At the time, Luo Youyou knew she couldn’t get into the car but the man coldly threatened her with Dali’s life, claiming he had kidnapped Dali.
In a state of panic and confusion, Luo Youyou got into the car under the man’s intimidation and Zhou Yang's entreaties. She was robbed of her cell phone as soon as she entered the car. Frightened and alert, she desperately gestured for help whenever they passed another car on the street. However, anyone who noticed her actions turned a blind eye.
When they arrived here, the man opened the door and ordered Zhou Yang to get off.
At that moment, the man pulled out a mace and hit Zhou Yang’s head from behind. The former fell to the ground, convulsing.
Luo Youyou originally thought it was just a kidnapping and believed she would be found with my wit. She never imagined the man to be a murderer!
She burst open the car door and fled with the man chasing behind her. Dithery and on edge, she ran into an unfinished residential building with building materials lying in one corner against the wall. She hid herself under the pile of building materials, too afraid to move or breathe heavily.
The man searched the area for some time but came up empty. Soon, his footsteps faded away, but Luo Youyou was too frightened to come out of hiding.
After crouching there for an unknown period of time, she heard Dali’s voice. Overjoyed, she dashed out, never expecting the man was still lurking the entire time. Seeing an opportunity, he accelerated his car and attempted to slam into them.
If it weren't for Song Xingchen, their lives would have been taken...
Upon hearing this, I was extremely glad I asked Song Xingchen to come along. Otherwise, it would be an entirely different scenario.
"Are you sure the driver who hit you is the murderer?" I asked.
Luo Youyou nodded vehemently, "I recognize the car. It's white with a picture of a leopard!"
"What’s the license plate number?"
Luo Youyou shook her head, indicating she wasn’t sure.
I phoned Xiaotao and asked where she was. The police were about half an hour away so I told her to pay close attention to a SUV matching these descriptions, though I wasn’t optimistic about finding our guy.
Dali stroked Luo Youyou's hair affectionately, "Youyou, I swear if I ever make you upset again, I’ll drown in a heap of used sanitary napkins!"
Luo Youyou smiled, burying her head in his arms. The two remained in each other’s arms for a long time when Bingxin interrupted, "What’s the point of words? Seal the deal already!"
Shyness colored Luo Youyou’s face and ears crimson as she played with her hair. Bingxin pulled me away to give them some privacy. Song Xingchen was wise enough to look elsewhere as well.
Girls had a wider peripheral vision than boys. When Bingxin mischievously sneaked a peek out of the corner of her eye, I asked in a low voice, "Are they kissing?"
"Geez, are they going to continue kissing until they suffocate?!" Bingxin exclaimed.Previous Chapter Next Chapter