MADNESS OF THE HEART

Chapter 4: Hunting Evil (Part Four)

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A blindingly bright flood of light rained down from above. Buried beneath the rubble atop which Zhang Sihao's body had been discovered, a second male victim had been unearthed. The second corpse was sealed in a sturdy, transparent bag. As of late, the summer days had been hot and humid, and the corpse had already started to decay.

Even before the bag was unsealed, the scent of rotting flesh began to permeate the air. The criminal investigators on the scene were all used to that odor, but they still instinctively scrunched up their faces at the putrid stench. The scent of decay was made even worse by the summer heat, and soon the malodor was absolutely everywhere.

To make things worse, the scent of decay had a tendency to cling. After conducting an autopsy, forensic pathologists commonly scrubbed their hands over and over again with herbs like cilantro and fish wort to eliminate the smell. But even after covering up the stench, the memory of it often lingered on the mind.

All things considered, the body wasn't in the worst condition imaginable. Had it been discovered just two weeks later, the heat and humidity could have rendered the corpse bloated beyond recognition. Those bloated corpses also ran the gruesome risk of 'exploding', which would have been the true worst case scenario.

Outside the amusement park where both bodies were discovered, there was a road currently undergoing construction. Most of the lanes were closed, leaving it a heavily congested one-way street. The forensics team and several other squad cars were stuck in traffic on their way to the scene.

Ming Shu was the first to arrive. He pulled on latex gloves and a face mask—double-layered gloves, and a triple-layered mask—before stooping down next to the body.

Although he was no forensic pathologist, Ming Shu had seen all sorts of corpses throughout the years. He had the basics of identifying cause and time of death down pat.

Fang Yuanhang stood next to him, holding a black leather notebook. The stench was so overpowering to him that, every so often, he had to squeeze his eyes shut just to concentrate on breathing.

"Time of death was three days ago," Ming Shu started. "Which is to say, July 2nd. Get me the surveillance footage from the area from that time. Not only from the public surveillance cameras—check the nearby shops and get their security footage, too."

Ming Shu pressed down on the corpse with his fingers as he surveyed the state of the grave around the body.

The grave was extremely shallow. The body had only been wrapped up in a sealed bag and buried under less than ten centimeters of gravel. Some of the nearby rubble had been haphazardly piled up on top of the gravel grave. The shallowness of the pit ensured the body would be easily discovered.

Combined with the precautions the killer seemed to have taken to hide the body, a contradiction was born.

There were no surveillance cameras inside the amusement park, and there was no development planned for the area for at least three years. It was undoubtedly the perfect place to dump a body.

But the grave was so shallow, and it hadn't even been dug in a particularly well-hidden place in the park. Even if Zhang Sihao hadn't died at this very spot, a heavy rain or the increasingly powerful odor of decay could easily have exposed the corpse.

On the body, there were no forms of identification or communication devices to be found. The killer must have gotten rid of them.

Hiding the body. Getting rid of identifying information. All signs indicated the killer had every intention of covering up their crime.

But this shallow grave that would inevitably be discovered seemed to indicate the killer wanted the body to be found.

It simply didn't make sense. The killer's logic seemed self-contradictory.

Ming Shu finished examining the shallow grave and returned his gaze to the corpse.

After death, a person's appearance could undergo drastic changes. Oftentimes even the victim's close friends and family wouldn't be able to identify the body with certainty. But regardless of these changes, there were some things Ming Shu could tell at a glance.

The victim was approximately sixty years old. Slightly obese, with an estimated height of 1.7 to 1.73 meters. His clothes were plain: cheap-looking dark gray suit pants and the sort of striped t-shirt that looked like it could have been bought in bulk anywhere on the street.

There were no obvious open wounds on the man's body, but his arms and back showed signs of relatively fresh bruising. His nose, mouth, and the front of his chest were bloodstained, and his throat seemed to bear the worst of his injuries. His neck was twisted to an extremely unnatural degree.

Ming Shu took hold of the victim's head and carefully lifted it up.

"The wound to the throat was the cause of death?" Fang Yuanhang asked.

"The cervical vertebrae are broken." Ming Shu stood up just as Xing Mu, a forensics scientist from the Serious Crimes Division, finally arrived.

One grisly case leading to the discovery of another was the sort of travesty expected of a highly dangerous city. When the Criminal Investigation Bureau received the news, Xiao Yu'an hadn't hesitated to dispatch the Serious Crimes Division to take over the new case.

Which was exactly what Ming Shu would have wanted.

"My apologies! I'm terribly sorry for running late," Xing Mu blathered as he rushed to the scene. He was two years older than Ming Shu, standing at 1.8 meters tall. He had a gentle, refined look about him, and he was the backbone of the Bureau's forensics department. He was good at his job and well-liked, but nobody was perfect.

The sharp and competent Xing-ge's problem was simply that he was terrified of his superiors, to such an extreme degree that others weren't sure whether they should laugh or cry about it.

Before Ming Shu had been promoted to Captain of the Serious Crimes Division, Xing Mu practically treated him like family. He often joked around with him, and whenever the cafeteria was serving food they didn't like, he would sling an arm around Ming Shu's shoulders and invite him out to lunch.

Everyone in the Serious Crimes Division could see that Xing Mu doted on Ming Shu like Ming Shu was his beloved little brother.

But then Liang Zhao, the previous captain of the Serious Crimes Division, was promoted and Ming Shu became the new captain—the youngest captain the Serious Crimes Division had ever seen.

When that happened, Xing Mu had instantly, completely changed his way of treating Ming Shu. He didn't dare joke around with him anymore, and he never invited him out to eat again. He started to address Ming Shu as 'Captain' and 'Sir' and constantly thanked him for his hard work.

Ming Shu had always known Xing Mu was just that sort of person, never good at standing tall in front of his superiors. Xing Mu had always acted like a lower life form in front of Liang Zhao as well, back when Liang Zhao captained their division. It wasn't something that Ming Shu thought he needed to correct, since it didn't stop Xing Mu from doing his job. The man was smart and studious, and some would even say a little childish and pure.

But even Ming Shu found it annoying to hear 'apologies' this and 'sorry' that all the time.

"Come have a look," Ming Shu said. He tossed Xing Mu a pair of gloves and a face mask. "Cause of death is probably this wound to the throat. It looks like it could have been inflicted by a weapon or by the assailant's bare hands. But whether the killer used a weapon or not would point us towards two entirely different pools of suspects."

Xing Mu nodded as he examined the body. As soon as he was done, he straightened and delivered a clear and concise report:

"The victim suffered blunt force trauma to the cervical vertebrae. He was struck more than once, but I'll need to conduct an autopsy to determine the details."

"Do a tox screen, too." Ming Shu paced a few steps from the body before turning around. "I want to know if he was drugged."

 

Criminal Investigation Bureau. Postmidnight.

The initial autopsy report had been completed, and the toxicology and DNA tests were underway. Xing Mu rushed into the room with the autopsy report in hand. He was clearly exhausted, but there was a glimmer of light in his eyes.

Ming Shu had summoned him, Yi Fei, Xiao Man, Zhou Yuan, and other key members of the division for a meeting in a small conference room on the fifth floor.

"The deceased suffered from fatty liver and cardiovascular ailments, but the cause of death was indeed the fractured cervical vertebrae," Xing Mu reported, displaying the autopsy results on a projector pointed at one wall. "The victim was struck a total of twelve times in the throat. The injuries are scattered and uneven, indicating the blows were also uneven in force."

Xing Mu pointed out the relevant details with a laser pointer as he continued, "Based on our findings, we can also conclude the killer struck the victim at least once after death had occurred."

Ming Shu spoke up from the seat farthest from the projection screen. "Are you able to identify the murder weapon?"

"Yes." Xing Mu quickly bent over the projector and sketched out a rough image. "The murder weapon was a hard, edged object. Triangular in shape. One side measures 1.3 centimeters, and I believe it most likely would have been made of steel."

Yi Fei lifted a hand and pinched together his thumb and forefinger, leaving only a small gap between them. "If one side was 1.3 centimeters wide, then the whole thing would only be about this thick."

"That's thinner than I would have imagined," Xiao Man mused.

Xiao Man was the head of the trace evidence analysis team, and although he was still rather young, he had already helped Ming Shu and Yi Fei solve a great deal of murky cases.

 "Normally, if you were going to kill someone with a blunt weapon, you wouldn't choose a weapon that thin," he continued. "It would be hard to handle, and if you couldn't subdue your victim right away, they would likely be able to fight back against such a flimsy weapon. Why didn't the killer use something sturdier?"

"Couldn't find anything else?" Fang Yuanhang guessed.

"This doesn't feel like a crime of passion," Ming Shu said. "And if it was premeditated, the murderer would have had time to prepare a weapon."

Yi Fei turned around to look at him, with a hint of confusion in his eyes. "Then why…"

"Maybe this sort of weapon suited the killer best, for whatever reason." Ming Shu turned his gaze to Xing Mu and nodded for him to continue his report. "Go on, Xing-ge."

Xing Mu jumped and blushed fiercely with the shock of being addressed so casually by his superior. Luckily for him, the small conference room was only dimly lit and he happened to be standing mostly in the shadows. With only the light of the projector near him, no one could tell how rapidly his cheeks had turned red.

"The victim's time of death has been confirmed to be between 10 and 12 at night," Xing Mu said, continuing where he'd left off. "The full results of the toxicology test haven't come back yet, but I've already found alcohol and sedatives in the victim's stomach."

Fang Yuanhang suddenly stood up and leaned over the table. "Then that means…"

"The killer drugged the victim and made their move when the victim was either unconscious or too weak to fight back," Ming Shu concluded. He massaged the divot between his eyebrows for a moment before he added, "The killer could be a woman."

As soon as Ming Shu ventured that possibility, the detectives gathered around the table burst into conversation and debate. It often wasn't considered appropriate to assign a gender to a suspect so early on in a case, for fear of injecting bias into the investigation to come.

Yi Fei gave Ming Shu a disapproving look. "Captain Ming, it's too soon to draw a conclusion like that. The ones who drug their victims aren't always female."

"It's simply the first conclusion that came to me when presented with the evidence we have," Ming Shu stated flatly, as though dismissing an unimportant objection.

In the dimly lit room, the only light source other than the light of the projector was a small lamp near Ming Shu. Very little light spilled in from the windows, which cast darkness all throughout the room, save for the space around Ming Shu, which almost seemed to glow.

"The victim wasn't very tall or broad, only 1.71 meters. Looking at his medical records and the shape he was in, I think we can surmise he wasn't the athletic and nimble sort either. The killer had a weapon, but still felt the need to resort to drugging their target as well." Ming Shu paused briefly after laying out his logic. "All that would fall in line with the theory of the killer being a woman."

"I agree it's possible, even probable, that the killer was a woman," Xing Mu said. "Statistically, most crimes involving brute force and purely physical violence are perpetrated by men. Women, whether for physical or psychological reasons, often resort to drugs and poison."

"I'm also taking the weapon and the nature of the victim's injuries into consideration." Ming Shu stood up then. His eyebrows were slightly furrowed, giving him a calm and collected look. "The murder weapon seems 'thin' to us, but it may only seem that way to us. If the killer is a woman, she may have felt the weapon was just the right size."

He lifted one hand and balled it into a loose fist, swinging it a few times, as though brandishing an invisible weapon. "A thicker weapon might be easy enough to wield for us, but for a woman, it might be too heavy and cumbersome to use."

Yi Fei gave it some thought. "The killer struck the victim twelve times. Maybe out of anger, or maybe to make sure the victim was dead. Your analysis isn't wrong. There really is a decent possibility of the killer being a woman."

"But we can't rule out the possibility of the killer being a physically weaker male, either," Ming Shu reminded, keeping that door open in everyone's minds. He tapped his fingers against the table twice, dictating the flow of the conversation like a conductor in front of an orchestra. "Was any other pertinent evidence discovered on the scene?"

Xiao Man sighed. "The crime scene was damaged pretty badly."

"That's fine," Ming Shu said. He turned to Zhou Yuan. "You and the other tech investigators are going to be busy tonight. I need you to comb through the surveillance footage from the cameras in the area surrounding the amusement park. Focus on the evening of July 2nd, from 8pm onwards."

Zhou Yuan was in charge of everything technical, from videos to photographs to anything related to the internet. He was often burdened with these sorts of big tasks and great responsibilities. Usually, he didn't talk much. He was quiet like a shy schoolgirl, and his looks were somewhat delicate as well.

"Understood," he mumbled, acknowledging the order Ming Shu had given. He said nothing else before quickly gathering up the papers he had strewn out in front of him, and heading to the door.

Ming Shu had a good understanding of Zhou Yuan's quiet nature and didn't stop him from making a hasty retreat. He simply continued the meeting with the others, going over all the details they had once more.

Soon afterwards, Xing Mu presented a new piece of information that had almost been missed. The wounds on the victim's arms and back had been sustained before the fatal blows to his throat. It was very likely he had been in a physical altercation before his death, either with his killer or a third party.

And some time after that, the DNA test results came back with the unfortunate news that the victim's DNA didn't match any records in the archive. The victim, thus, remained unidentified.

"Then we'll have to check everyone on the missing persons list," Ming Shu said. "The victim died on the night of the 2nd, and it's now the 6th. His friends or family have probably reported him missing by now."

Ming Shu gave Yi Fei a pointed look. "Identify the victim. That's our first order of business."

 

The Serious Crimes Division had an excellent track record for closing difficult cases. They worked swiftly and efficiently. As soon as Ming Shu dismissed them, his team scattered from the meeting and all instantly went to their own posts to work on their assigned task.

Ming Shu stayed behind in the conference room, reviewing the autopsy report on his own. His brow furrowed deeper and deeper as he went over the information again and again.

That was simply a habit of his, not an indication of immense frustration or distress. Nor did it indicate the case was too difficult.

Whether he was issuing orders to his subordinates or delivering a report to his superiors, Ming Shu's handsome brows often remained slightly furrowed. Combined with the natural, upward curve of his lips, it was an expression that made him look strong and reliable.

But when Ming Shu was alone, the dip between his brows often deepend as it did now. The harder he concentrated on something, the deeper that furrow became.

His focus didn't stop him from being aware of his surroundings, though. Even when he was completely lost in his work, he became instantly alert whenever someone approached.

When the quiet sound of footsteps sounded outside the door to the conference room, Ming Shu looked up from his copy of the autopsy report and met the gaze of the person who appeared in the doorway.

Xiao Yu'an wasn't in uniform. He wore a smoky gray shirt, slacks, and leather shoes. The top two buttons of his dress shirt were popped open, allowing the collar to part enough to expose his sharp collarbone and his slender yet powerful neck.

Most members of the Bureau already thought Xiao Yu'an didn't look much like a police officer, even in uniform. If they were to see him dressed like this, they would most likely think he looked even less like a detective.

But Ming Shu had a different perspective. Appearance wasn't what mattered. It was what laid on the inside that made a man. Although outwardly Xiao Yu'an may not have dressed the part of a serious police detective, the look in his eyes and the way he held himself made it clear he was a formidable, impressive man who could make anyone shiver when he got serious.

"Director Xiao." Ming Shu stood up and glanced at the paper bag Xiao Yu'an was carrying.

Xiao Yu'an wore a warm expression and entered unhurriedly. He placed the bag on the table and said, "Good work today."

"That's for me?" Ming Shu asked, though he clearly already knew the answer, as he reached for the bag to peer inside.

Xiao Yu'an smiled a little brighter. "Is eating in front of an autopsy report no good for you?"

Inside the bag was a steamed milk cake the size of Ming Shu's hand. It was still warm, just the perfect temperature, and there was a cold drink as well—a latte, with the ice cubes not yet melted.

Ming Shu took out both items as the corners of his eyes crinkled with a smile. "Thanks, boss."

"Boss?" Xiao Yu'an echoed. His voice was deep and soothing, hitting almost the same register as the deep bass of a pipe organ.

"Well," Ming Shu said, still holding the steamed cake. The furrow between his eyebrows smoothed out, and for once completely disappeared. His lips curved with a smile, and his whole face shifted to take on an expression that was rarely seen on him—something playful, even boyish. "You are my boss now, aren't you?"

This expression, the one he wore now, was exactly the reason why he usually kept his brow furrowed with a faint frown.

Ming Shu had been born with delicate, pretty features. The corners of his eyes and lips both possessed a softness that could warm people's hearts. His skin was pale, and even when he wore a neutral expression, his face looked as though he were faintly smiling. It made him look too young, and too approachable.

It was only when he frowned slightly, forcing his face to take on a few creases and wrinkles here and there, that he looked the part of a serious police detective. And it was undeniably important for him, as the captain of the Serious Crimes Division, to look serious and mature.

For a long time now, ever since he graduated and joined the police force, he had purposefully hidden his natural smile with a frown, affecting a deep and thoughtful look at all times and rarely ever allowing his brow to unfurrow entirely.

But when he faced Xiao Yu'an, he played by a different set of rules.

No one knew it, and Ming Shu had no intention of telling everyone the truth, but he and their new deputy director had known each other since they were kids.

Xiao Yu'an and Ming Shu both came from families with rather prestigious backgrounds, and for as long as Ming Shu could remember, he had known the neighboring Xiao family had a son who was six years older than him.

The Xiao family was a big one. Xiao Yu'an had an older sister and two cousins from his father's side of the family. In addition to his relatives, he had countless other friends.

Ming Shu, on the other hand, was an only child. He didn't have any cousins, either. Day in and day out, he watched the Xiao family's kids play together, but he had always been too shy to ask if he could join them. Instead, he only ever mustered up the courage to climb high up into a tree, where he watched the other kids play and imagined himself as a member of the Xiao family.

Xiao Yu'an was the one who had eventually extended a hand to him.

It was on a day when Ming Shu had climbed his favorite tree again. On his way up, he had snapped one of the branches he used as a foothold, and suddenly he was stuck. He could only continue to go up, not back down, and he was so scared he almost fell straight out of the tree.

Xiao Yu'an had appeared beneath the tree at just that moment. He held out both arms to Ming Shu and said, "Come down slowly. Don't worry. I'll protect you."

Now, as adults, the six-year age gap between them wasn't so noticeable. But when they were children, Ming Shu had felt like there was a whole world of differences between them.

Ming Shu had looked at Xiao Yu'an, then at himself. Then, suddenly, all his fears and nerves disappeared. He was no longer afraid.

He could only think of the older boy standing under the tree, as tall and strong as a giant. Of course, Xiao Yu'an would later teasingly correct him, You can't say anyone taller than you is a giant, that's impolite.

Emboldened by Xiao Yu'an's presence under the tree, Ming Shu had started to slowly and carefully inch down the tree. When he was close enough to the ground, he flung himself into Xiao Yu'an's arms. Though Xiao Yu'an was taller than him, he was also still a child, and after catching Ming Shu in his arms as best as he could, he stumbled back several steps before regaining his footing.

That moment became one of the brightest memories of Ming Shu's childhood. From then on, he no longer looked on from afar when he saw the Xiao family's kids playing outside. He practically became a part of the family. Wherever Xiao Yu'an went, Ming Shu was sure to follow. He would have even moved his own bed into the Xiao family's yard if his grandparents had let him.

Xiao Yu'an taught him how to ride a bicycle, and even how to read and write. The Xiao family placed a strong emphasis on their children's education, so Xiao Yu'an had been afforded a well-balanced education ever since he was little.

Of course, kids will be kids. Xiao Yu'an acted the part of the perfect son in front of his elders, appearing like a flawless piece of polished jade. But when he came to play with Ming Shu, he was far more lively and spirited.

Ming Shu stuck to Xiao Yu'an like glue. He relied on Xiao Yu'an far more than he relied on his parents, who he rarely saw more than a few times a year.

Then, when Xiao Yu'an was old enough, his family inevitably sent him off to school somewhere far away. Ming Shu was devastated for a long while. He sulked all day and had no appetite, and he spent plenty of time sitting outside of the Xiao family's home, as though Xiao Yu'an would suddenly reappear if he simply wished for it hard enough.

But Xiao Yu'an didn't return until the following summer. In the year that passed, he had grown even taller and stronger than the boy Ming Shu remembered.

Ming Shu doggedly continued to pursue Xiao Yu'an, following in his footsteps at every stage of his life. Middle school, high school, even college. He chased after Xiao Yu'an just like he used to run after Xiao Yu'an's bicycle when they were kids.

But because of the insurmountable six-year difference between them, Ming Shu was never able to stand on the same campus at the same time as Xiao Yu'an.

When he was an elementary school student, Xiao Yu'an was already in middle school. And when Ming Shu finally entered middle school, Xiao Yu'an was already attending the University of Public Security.

Ming Shu's parents had been against the idea of him pursuing a career as a detective. Ever since he was in middle school, they'd had a life plan laid out for him. But Ming Shu was determined to follow in Xiao Yu'an's footsteps no matter the cost, and he set out to become a police officer even after having a huge fight with his family and nearly getting himself disowned.

In truth, at that time, Ming Shu hadn't wanted to become a police officer. But it was a time when Xiao Yu'an had suddenly disappeared from his life entirely. The secrecy and lack of contact could only mean one thing: Xiao Yu'an had been sent on a confidential mission.

Although Ming Shu was apprehensive and even scared, he felt like he only had one choice. He had to become a police officer as well, so he could work alongside Xiao Yu'an. So they could weather any storm together.

Ming Shu was on better terms with his family these days, but for those years he spent at the University of Public Security, he didn't have any contact with them at all. All the people who met him during that time had no idea he came from a powerful family, and he was content to let them believe he had a plain, ordinary background.

It was a good thing, Ming Shu had decided, that he wouldn't constantly draw curious looks from his future colleagues.

Their relationship began when Ming Shu was twenty-three years old, and it was naturally Ming Shu who pursued Xiao Yu'an. After all, he had pursued Xiao Yu'an from childhood to the day he properly became a police detective.

Ever since he entered the police force, Ming Shu had been stationed in Dongye City, where he proved his extraordinary talent for detective work. Meanwhile, Xiao Yu'an was constantly dispatched to different locations on high-grade missions with the special operations team. The two of them had always spent more time apart than together. Even in the past year, when Ming Shu was sent to special ops for training, he didn't get a chance to see Xiao Yu'an.

Ming Shu had never imagined that Xiao Yu'an would be transferred to Dongye City before he even completed that year of training.

It felt like fate was telling them it was finally time to settle down.

"What are your thoughts on the case?" Xiao Yu'an asked. His voice was still warm, even when they talked about work.

Ming Shu returned to the present, breaking out of his leisurely walk down memory lane. He scarfed down the steamed cake in just a few bites as he answered, "We have a lot of clues, but some of them seem to contradict others. And we haven't even identified the body yet."

"Tell me which part feels most contradictory to you."

Ming Shu swallowed, his Adam's apple bobbing slightly. "The killer's actions don't make sense. It seems they made an attempt to hide the body, but the grave was so shallow. The body would easily be found. Did the killer want the body to be found? What was their goal in disposing of the body like this?

"And I was just thinking, did Zhang Sihao really just happen to die at that spot by coincidence? If these were two completely separate cases, fine. But put them together like this, and it seems almost like too much of a coincidence."

"We know the nature of the relationship between Zhang Sihao and Xu Linshan, but it seems Xu Linshan didn't know this second victim," Xiao Yu'an said. He took the wrapper of the steamed cake and the empty coffee cup and tossed them back into the paper bag, then produced a couple tissues for Ming Shu. "But we don't know if the killer in this second case had any relation to Zhang Sihao or Xu Linshan, and we can't rule out the possibility that the killer used them.

"Let me pose a question—that patch of rubble at the amusement park. Would you consider a 'deserted' area?"

Ming Shu hugged his own arms and thought about it for a moment. "That spot, right underneath the tracks of that old thrill ride… the ground is uneven there. It would be hard to walk across, and in the summer, there's no shade. It's got to be one of the hottest places in the amusement park. Besides some kids looking for adventure, I can't imagine anyone would choose to go there."

"In that case, any evidence the suspect left behind should have been well-preserved," Xiao Yu'an said. "But due to the accident with Zhang Sihao and Xu Linshan, and due to our officers and curious spectators trampling all over the place, that evidence has likely been destroyed by now."

Ming Shu's brow furrowed again. He steepled his fingers under his chin. "Xiao Man did say they didn't find anything we could use."

The conference room was silent for a while. As Ming Shu fell deeper into thought, the furrow between his brows grew deeper as well, until he suddenly felt the press of a familiar finger between his brows.

Ming Shu looked up abruptly. His voice, which had grown sharp and analytical, turned soft again.

"…ge," he murmured.

Xiao Yu'an massaged the spot between Ming Shu's brows, finally drawing his two thumbs outwards, kneading a soothing path over the shape of Ming Shu's eyebrows as well.

Ming Shu breathed out slowly, feeling some of his exhaustion fade away.

"Don't stress too much about it," Xiao Yu'an said as he withdrew his hands. "I'll be keeping an eye on the case too. If you have any thoughts, any concerns, you can always come to me."

Though Ming Shu was typically quick to react to anything and everything, he was still dazed by the comfort of the moment that had just passed between them.

Smiling, Xiao Yu'an said, "I'll head out first."

Ming Shu's hand shot out, hurriedly reaching for Xiao Yu'an. But he only managed to grab onto the edge of the paper bag in Xiao Yu'an's hand.

With the two of them each holding onto a side of the paper bag, it was almost like holding hands.

Ming Shu moved closer and brushed a kiss against Xiao Yu'an's chin. "Thanks for the midnight snack, boss."

The next day, the second amusement park victim was identified. And a shocking piece of news suddenly came out of the Bei District precinct as well:Lu Kun, the suspect in the Shu Han book cafe murders, now claimed he had been compelled to kill.

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