“There will always be a day,” Zhang Chunjiu said softly. “Brother, this isn’t a trade that can be passed down through generations, and there’s no successor. You’re getting older, and I’m about to retire. It’s not like before, and it will only get harder in the future. Let’s not wait until we end up like Zhou Junmao. If it weren’t for the surname Fan, it wouldn’t be so easy for us to extricate ourselves. Speaking of which, everything is arranged at home?”

Zhang Chunling responded with a grunt. “Once the situation calms down, we’ll send them abroad.”

Zhang Chunjiu said, “The two of us brothers have had some luck over the years.”

“Luck?” Zhang Chunling chuckled silently, revealing a cold, shark-like grin. “I’ve had nothing since birth. I never knew what luck was. But so what? I’ve reached this point today not because of luck.”

After a pause, Zhang Chunling continued, “That troublemaker from the Zhou family has entered the country. Do you know where he’s hiding?”

“I have an idea,” Zhang Chunjiu said. “He revealed himself briefly before.”

“Just to be safe, get rid of him.”

Zhang Chunjiu acknowledged and drove away through the biting northern wind.

As the year-end approached, Luo Cheng found himself busy. Mu Xiaoqing was away on a business trip, leaving him alone. Eating meals by himself felt boring, so he spent his days hanging around the company canteen.

It was almost 9 o’clock when the driver dropped him off at home.

That’s when he found a surprise waiting at his doorstep—a son.

Luo Wenzhou had been waiting at the door for who knows how long. He didn’t mind the cold. Silly as he was, he could sleep on a cold kang bed and still feel warm. He wore a down coat that made him look disheveled, as if he had a large pillow stuffed in his arms. He was sitting on the stairs, hunched over and playing with his phone. His hair hadn’t been trimmed in a while and looked messy. He also had a big backpack poking at his feet.

Luo Cheng took a moment to observe him and felt that his appearance was unbearable. He approached and lightly kicked him. “Hey, if you’re going somewhere else, go ahead. I don’t have food today.”

Luo Wenzhou looked up and responded with a meow, sending shivers down Luo Cheng’s spine. Upon closer inspection, Luo Cheng realized that the “pillow” in Luo Wenzhou’s arms was a living creature.

Luo Cheng asked, “How long have you been waiting here? Why didn’t you call someone?”

“It’s alright,” Luo Wenzhou replied nonchalantly. “Freezing for a while helps with the understanding of life.”

Luo Cheng inadvertently glanced at the phone Luo Wenzhou had just been playing with and discovered that he had been “reflecting on life” using various photos of himself from different angles. It left a bad taste in Luo Cheng’s mouth, and he felt that Luo Wenzhou was becoming more shameless.

Five minutes later, Luo Cheng brought the found son and his own cat into the house. He rolled up his sleeves, put on reading glasses, and started assembling a cat climbing frame while reading the instructions.

“I didn’t bring any canned food or snacks, just feed it cat food. Don’t buy all those miscellaneous things for it. This chubby one needs to lose weight. It even broke the zipper on my down coat,” Luo Cheng instructed.

Luo Wenzhou seemed a bit reserved in a new environment. He curled up on one of Luo Cheng’s worn-out slippers, forming a large fluffy ball weighing around fifteen pounds. He looked around vigilantly.

Luo Cheng shot a glance through the lenses of his reading glasses. “You’re leaving a cat with me. Aren’t you afraid I won’t give it back?”

“Don’t brag. If my mom agreed, you would have turned your home into a zoo long ago. Why would you mooch off my cat?” Luo Wenzhou retorted.

Luo Cheng fell silent.

Luo Wenzhou casually grabbed a bowl of leftover fried rice from the refrigerator, gave it a few stirs, and swallowed it. “Boarding fees at the pet shop go up at the year-end, and I have to fight other cats for territory. The problem is, this coward can’t win a fight. I think my wallet and the cat are both prone to injuries.”

“In that case, I’ll take care of it until spring comes. Your mom won’t do it anymore,” Luo Cheng suggested.

Luo Wenzhou paused for a moment, feeling like the food he just swallowed was stuck in his chest. No matter how hard he tried, it wouldn’t go down. He picked up a teacup and took a gulp of cold water, causing himself to shudder. He said, “No need. We’ll come over for Chinese New Year to pay you a visit and take it back.”

Luo Cheng didn’t ask why he wanted to board the cat. He also didn’t ask why Fei Du didn’t come along. It was only natural, as if he knew everything. He simply said, “Besides taking care of the cat, is there anything else you want from me?”

Luo Wenzhou sat beside him in silence for a moment, clenching his teeth. He didn’t say a word. Then he stood up and washed the bowl.

Luo Cheng didn’t rush him. The cat climbing frame, which was just a pile of parts, quickly took shape and looked presentable. Unable to contain his curiosity, Luo Yiguo, the cat, finally abandoned the slipper and walked over, sniffing around under the frame.

“Dad,” Luo Wenzhou suddenly spoke up. “Sometimes, do I bring you a lot of rumors and gossip?”

Luo Cheng looked at him curiously. “Have you lost your mind? Did you come here to confess to me?”

Luo Wenzhou sat down next to him with a heavy tone. “You’ve never said anything to me.”

Luo Cheng asked, “Do you listen when I speak?”

Luo Wenzhou pondered for a moment. “Oh, I don’t listen. After all, Fei Du is mine.”

Luo Cheng choked for a while. Just when Luo Wenzhou thought the old man was about to lose his temper, Luo Cheng burst into laughter. “You didn’t grow up on milk. At your age, if you still need my approval for such trivial matters, what’s the point of living? Others can say whatever they want, but they don’t dare say it to my face. Perhaps they have high expectations—though I think you…”

Luo Cheng paused, and for no reason, Luo Wenzhou became tense.

The reading glasses made the old man’s eyes look unusually large, breaking his usual serious demeanor. Luo Cheng looked at him with a less serious gaze and smirked. “Even if you’re just passable, you barely look like a person.”

Since his adolescence, Luo Wenzhou had constantly walked the path disapproved by his elders and the public. He took risks and placed all his bets on it. As a result, despite his stubbornness, he still doubted himself. He doubted whether he had the talent and ability he had imagined, and whether leaving the shelter of his elders would lead to him accomplishing nothing.

Can he successfully handle the place where countless predecessors have fallen after so many years?

When Luo Wenzhou came home to pack up the cat and bring it over, he felt as if his feet were stuck in mud, and the icy mud clung to his feet, making every step difficult. But this seemingly unflattering comment now fell on his ears like a rapid drying machine, instantly dispelling his embarrassed tremors.

Luo Wenzhou stood still for a while, then suddenly rubbed his nose and stood up. “Then I’ll leave.”

Luo Cheng said, “Wait, don’t you really…”

“No,” Luo Wenzhou put on his shoes and bent down to tie them. “When I applied to the police academy, didn’t you say that I have to climb my chosen path by myself? You won’t interfere with anything in the future. So what now? Are you getting old and soft-hearted?”

Luo Cheng scolded him, “You little brat, get lost!”

Luo Wenzhou stood up, jumped a few times, and raised the phone that made his father uncomfortable. He brought it to his lips and lightly kissed it. “I didn’t grow up on milk.”

After saying that, he put on his coat’s hood, faced the wind, and walked out.

Back then, Old Yang didn’t confide a single bit of information to him, even leaving behind a letter after death, forcing Shi Nv to remain silent.

If he had been “mature” a few years earlier and taken over the burden from the previous generation, would Shi Nv have reached this point?

But things had come to this, and there was no point in tracing these matters.

At least he still had Fei Du, his brothers, and the deep-seated injustices left unresolved by the previous generation. Since even the old man said he “looks somewhat human,” he should do something somewhat human.

“It’s me.” Luo Wenzhou dialed a number and called Lu Jia. “Fei Zong handed you over to me. Where are you guys now?”

Lu Jia arrived at a garden community with Zhou Huaijin.

“This is it,” Zhou Huaijin looked at the address in his hand. “This is where Yang Bo and his mother lived.”

Lu Jia parked the car, looked around, and immediately attracted the vigilant gaze of the security guards in the community. But when they saw the car Lu Jia arrived in, their expressions eased.

Lu Jia smiled, entered a convenience store at the entrance, and casually bought some odds and ends. He struck up a conversation with the cashier, “What kind of community is this? It looks nice, and the privacy seems good.”

The cashier glanced in the direction he pointed. “Oh, it’s ‘Galaxy City.’ Privacy is naturally good in Galaxy City. If you’re buying a house, I advise you not to buy there.”

Lu Jia asked, “Why not?”

“It’s not residential property. You see, they have 24-hour security, with three levels of entrance gates, building gates, and corridor access control. Only luxury cars come in and out. If you drive an ordinary car, the security guards will stop and question you for ages. Understand?” The cashier winked at Lu Jia with a very ambiguous look. “This place is also called ‘Mistress Building.’ The atmosphere is not good. But if you don’t want to live here yourself, you can still rent it out.”

Lu Jia asked, “So, the rent must be high?”

“The property fees are also high. It was already 5 yuan per square meter ten years ago. Rent would naturally be even higher,” the cashier gave change and snorted. “People who don’t have money won’t bother with these tricks.”

Lu Jia and Zhou Huaijin exchanged glances. After Yang Bo’s mother moved to Yancheng, she didn’t have a stable job and lived a life that was practically “hidden in plain sight.” How did she afford to rent a house here?

“I heard she opened a private kitchen here,” Zhou Huaijin said. “She cooks at home and only sets up one table each time, the kind that requires a reservation in advance. She doesn’t even open twice a month. When my younger brother and Yang Bo were at odds, he once tried to investigate, but couldn’t even get an appointment. She refused to meet him. It seems that Zheng Kaifeng is a regular customer there, but… tsk…”

Zhou Huaijin lowered his head and looked at the photos of women on his phone. The woman’s appearance couldn’t be considered ugly, but it had nothing to do with “beauty” either. In her youth, she was an average-looking person, and later, she appeared as an ordinary middle-aged woman who easily made people overlook her gender. Even Zhou Huaijin felt that she was really not Zheng Kaifeng’s type.

“She died of illness, and the timing of her death was quite delicate,” Lu Jia signaled for Zhou Huaijin to get in the car. “It coincided with the time when Dong Qian began to have contact with the fake deliveryman, plotting to kill Zhou Junmao… If Yang Bo is not Zheng Kaifeng’s illegitimate child, then I think there is a possibility.”

Zhou Huaijin asked, “What possibility?”

“Liaison,” Lu Jia started the car. “Zheng Kaifeng is different from Wei Zhanhong. His foundation is not in China. If, as Fei Zong speculated, he first established contact with Su Hui and this group of full-time money-minded murderers in China, then maintaining the relationship and entrusting business matters would require a reliable liaison—Su Hui ruined herself at an early age, and her health deteriorated more than ten years ago. So, is it possible that Yang Bo’s mother was the liaison?”