“Wu… Wu Xuechun?” The smile on the front desk’s face suddenly stiffened.

Luo Wenzhou looked at her, and his sharp gaze revealed a tiny crack in the previously feigned ambiguity. He asked in a deep voice, “What’s wrong?”

As if stung by his gaze, the front desk involuntarily averted her eyes. She then forced herself to regain composure and sweetly said, as if adding sugar, “No, it’s like this. Our service staff usually use English names. When you suddenly mentioned the real name, I was caught off guard… Wu Xuechun, isn’t she ‘Linda’?”

Even though Luo Wenzhou was currently in the tiger’s den, he couldn’t help but remark, “Your company culture here is quite Western.”

The front desk’s eyes flickered for a moment. She pushed the album toward Luo Wenzhou once again and said, “Sir, Linda isn’t feeling well today. Would you like to take a look at someone else? Or perhaps you already know her?”

Luo Wenzhou leaned back without responding. From a superior position, he glanced at the front desk girl for a while, then coldly retorted, “What? Do I need to provide personal information even when requesting a service staff?”

The front desk quickly apologized in a hushed tone and efficiently arranged a private room for him. She had someone lead him inside. Whether it was Luo Wenzhou’s imagination or not, it seemed like more eyes were on him.

After he walked away, the front desk breathed a sigh of relief. She took out a commercial walkie-talkie from the side and spoke softly, “The person you mentioned has arrived. They’re in the ‘Lotus City’ room.”

There was a commotion on the other end of the walkie-talkie, then a male voice asked, “How many people?”

“Just… just one,” the front desk replied, pursing her lips. Her palms were sweaty, and she could barely hold onto the large walkie-talkie. “Next… next time, can you not make me do this? I…”

Before she could finish her sentence, a string of curses came from the other end. “Damn it! Just one person? They really have a death wish! If I knew they were alone, I would have been waiting outside to knock them out and put them in a sack. Why bother with them?”

The radio abruptly went silent after the profanity-laced tirade from the other end.

At this moment, a girl in a white dress was being shoved and pushed by two individuals, forced into the room. A work ID badge reading “Linda” hung from her chest. It was indeed Wu Xuechun.

As Wu Xuechun passed by the front desk, she glanced at her helplessly. The two exchanged a brief glance and quickly averted their eyes from each other.

A few minutes after Luo Wenzhou left, Fei Du lost his appetite. He stepped out of the cafeteria at the Municipal Bureau and saw that He Mu had already woken up. A police officer on duty was trying to persuade her to stay in a hotel. He Mu had puffed-up eyes and a pale face, clutching onto her own clothes without making a sound or nodding.

She didn’t understand what was happening outside, so she always suspected that others were trying to deceive her. She always felt helpless.

People who lived in relatively closed environments, cut off from the outside world, often had this timid and ignorant nature. For this woman who had been ill for many years, her son was her only reliance. He was her sole protective shield and connection to this bustling world.

Fei Du observed her through the glass window for a while without alerting her. He felt that she resembled a snail without its shell.

Without disturbing He Mu, he briskly left the Municipal Bureau and headed to the West Flower Market District.

The “Lotus City” was a private room tucked away in a corner. As soon as Luo Wenzhou entered, he felt that something was amiss—because this room wasn’t as dim as the others. His gaze swept across the room, and in one corner, he noticed a hint of mystery.

While circling the Hongfu Entertainment Center earlier, Luo Wenzhou had already noticed that due to the building’s design, there were several windows that hadn’t been sealed at the corners. It seemed that this private room had one of those windows.

Since KTV private rooms didn’t have windows, they were covered with blackout curtains attached to the wallpaper to block out the light from outside. Over the years, some of the attachments had loosened, allowing a small amount of streetlamp light to seep in through the cracks.

Luo Wenzhou glanced at it as if he didn’t care, then quickly averted his gaze. He casually turned on the music and looked up at the ceiling as if searching for a smoke alarm.

Seemingly finding nothing unusual, Luo Wenzhou took out a cigarette and lit it for himself.

With one hand holding the lighter, he instinctively cupped his hand, and in one fluid motion, he unfolded a piece of paper hidden in his palm.

When the front desk girl had pushed the album toward him for the second time, she discreetly slipped a note into his hand while using the album as a cover.

The hastily written note contained a line of ballpoint pen handwriting: “Someone is waiting to confront you.”

Luo Wenzhou was somewhat surprised.

Of course, he knew that someone was waiting to confront him. Chen Zhen had called him for help, and the other party surely anticipated his arrival. That’s why Luo Wenzhou intentionally mentioned “Wu Xuechun” at the entrance, brazenly barging in and appearing both experienced and clueless at the same time. He wanted to give the impression that he was vigilant yet puzzled.

This way, the person hiding in the shadows would believe they had the upper hand, and they wouldn’t panic. They might even try to outsmart him in their own way.

Luo Wenzhou planned to lure the enemy into deep waters and play a hidden card.

But he didn’t expect that an unfamiliar front desk receptionist would secretly help him.

In retrospect, being assigned to the “Lotus City” private room with a hidden window was clearly the girl’s doing. In case something happened, the window in the room provided an escape route.

Luo Wenzhou lightly pinched his chin, feeling infinitely emotional.

He thought to himself, “Being handsome does have its benefits.”

At that moment, the door to the private room was pushed open from outside. Luo Wenzhou calmly put down his lighter, clenching the note in his palm as he looked up.

Standing at the door was a girl in a white dress, her dyed long hair appearing somewhat dull. She had heavily applied makeup, and she pursed her lips as she smiled at him, speaking in a sweet and cloying voice, “Hello, sir. I’m Linda.”

Luo Wenzhou: “…”

This person’s nose and eyes seemed to have been smoothed out and restructured with cosmetics. He couldn’t quite see if she was truly Wu Xuechun.

Several waiters followed her in and neatly arranged the drinks he had ordered on the table.

Luo Wenzhou nodded at the girl, “Take a seat.”

Linda was full of enthusiasm and wasted no time after entering the room. She actively engaged in conversation with Luo Wenzhou while quickly setting up the drinks on the table. Just as Luo Wenzhou was about to flick off some ash, she had already brought the ashtray to him with great agility, waiting for him to dispose of it. She asked in a sweet and clingy tone, “Handsome, with so many drinks, you must have a lot of guests, right? Do you want me to call a few more girls to join?”

Her voice was coquettish and sticky, inadvertently revealing a nasal twang. Only up close could one see the bloodshot eyes—apparently she had been crying recently. The heavy makeup on her face was likely an attempt to conceal her red nose and eye circles.

Luo Wenzhou paused for a moment, lightly lifting her chin and assessing her from side to side. His movement resembled that of a palm reader, but his expression was extremely serious, as if he intended to find some resemblance between her face and the girl’s photo on her ID card. After a while, he seemed to have gleaned something and was about to retract his hand when Linda suddenly grabbed his wrist.

Luo Wenzhou narrowed his eyes slightly.

Taking advantage of his hand that had yet to be withdrawn, Linda made a pushing motion that was so convincing it could deceive even the astute. She pouted and protested, “Handsome, no, I’m only here as an accompaniment today.”

As she spoke, she leaned back gently, coincidentally knocking over a bottle of wine on the coffee table. The bottle teetered on the edge, about to fall. A fleeting moment of tension passed over Linda’s heavily made-up face.

However, in that instant, Luo Wenzhou suddenly reached out and firmly steadied the bottle, catching it before a single drop spilled.

Linda froze.

Luo Wenzhou sighed silently. Of course, he had guessed that there were listening devices in the private room, either under the coffee table or in the sofa base. Now it seemed more likely to be under the coffee table since Linda’s attempt to feign an accident by spilling the wine was too obvious.

Luo Wenzhou glanced at Linda and said with a double entendre, “Girls should be more careful and avoid meddling.”

Linda thought he didn’t understand her meaning and immediately displayed an anxious expression on her face. But Luo Wenzhou calmly returned the wine bottle to its original position, and in a seemingly casual manner, he asked, “How long have you been working here? Do you have a boyfriend?”

Linda looked at him in bewilderment, subconsciously answering, “Over a year, and no, I don’t.”

Luo Wenzhou stared into her eyes. “Never considered it?”

Linda nodded.

“It’s something you should consider,” Luo Wenzhou smiled. With his fingers lightly tapping the edge of the coffee table, he lowered his voice and asked, “Do you have any good male friends you hang out with?”

He had long, slender hands that attracted attention as they rhythmically tapped nearby. Linda instinctively glanced at them and noticed that his fingers were not staying in one place but moving up, down, left, and right… as if forming the character “Chen”!

He knew there were surveillance and listening devices in the room!

In Wu Xuechun’s eyes—Linda’s eyes—a layer of mist suddenly appeared. She suppressed her emotions and carefully chose her words, saying, “There… there is one. He used to be my neighbor. He has helped me when I was harassed after work and has always taken care of me… but what’s the use? I’m a person from here, so he must hate me.”

Luo Wenzhou: “Hate you?”

Wu Xuechun didn’t say “dislike”; she used the word “hate.”

In this sentence, she revealed her relationship with Chen Zhen and the fact that she was “someone from here.” She indeed knew some insider information about “here,” and it might be related to Chen Yuan’s death.

Luo Wenzhou paused for a moment, asking softly, “Is that guy still in the ’local area’?”

Wu Xuechun nodded at him, “I can’t face him. As long as he’s doing well, I’m satisfied.”

Luo Wenzhou let out a sigh of relief. It seemed that Chen Zhen had only been temporarily detained. The girl was even more clever than he had imagined.

He leaned back gently on the sofa and asked, “What does he do?”

Wu Xuechun, skilled at observing words and expressions, immediately understood when she saw him relax slightly. Luo Wenzhou had understood her previous implication, and his next sentence seemed to inquire about Chen Zhen’s purpose in coming to Hongfu Daguan.

Wu Xuechun restrained the urge to look towards the surveillance cameras. She organized her thoughts and spoke softly, “I don’t know. He’s busy, I heard his ‘child’ ran away from home a few days ago, and he’s searching all over the place. It seems that the ‘child’ came here after school before. It seems like they had some questionable boyfriends. He even asked me about it.”

“Young children going missing,” Luo Wenzhou asked, “Why didn’t you report it to the police?”

“It’s useless, no one cares,” Wu Xuechun stiffened at the mention of the police, stammering a sentence. Then, as if remembering something, she added, “The child wrote down a place name in their homework, somewhere nearby. It’s far away from him, and he asked me about it.”

Chen Zhen came to inquire about the “Golden Triangle Field”!

The surveillance devices and listening devices faithfully transmitted their somewhat disconnected conversation to some people’s ears.

In a luxurious private room on the second floor, the air was filled with alcohol and a strange scent. Several clearly intoxicated men and women indulged in drugs and began a frenzied dance in order to leave as soon as possible.

Several men sat in a circle on the sofa, their eyes fixed on Luo Wenzhou through the lens and headphones. The leader was the captain of the formal urban district criminal investigation squad. They remained quite composed and did not touch the drugs, only drinking a little. They paid no attention to the Pan Si Cave behind them.

One of them pointed at the screen and said, “This guy named Luo has been babbling with that girl for over ten minutes. When will they stop beating around the bush?”

The captain calmly said, “Can’t you see? He’s subtly probing for information about that boy’s whereabouts. Now he knows the person isn’t dead, but he doesn’t dare to act rashly.”

“How do you know?”

“That boy definitely hasn’t told him anything,” Huang, the team leader, took on the air of a strategist. “If anyone named Luo knew what was going on here, he wouldn’t dare to recklessly come in alone… Speaking of which, that girl is quite nosy. We’ll have to find a way to deal with her later.”

“Huang, how should we handle this guy named Luo? Should we report to Director Wang tomorrow?”

“Director Wang? He’s getting old and soft. If you tell him today, he might go to that boy’s house tomorrow with cash, begging him for leniency. Even if this guy named Luo is sensible and decides to side with us, he’ll expect to receive constant ‘gifts’ from us in the future. It’ll never end. It’s better to take care of it once and for all,” the captain smiled slyly, “But we can’t deal with him here. Something just happened in the West District, and it’s too sensitive right now. We need to remain even more discreet.”

“Are you saying…”

“Keep that boy named Chen, wait for the storm to pass, and use that brat as bait to lure him out,” Huang licked his lips, “It would be interesting if he happened to encounter a criminal he had previously caught on the way… After all, our profession carries some dangers, right? The prerequisite is that the brat obeys. Has the needle been given to him?”

One person immediately stood up, saying, “It’s done. I’ll go check.”

Huang looked up, avoiding a girl who was drugged and had a confused expression as she approached him. He took a slow sip of his drink, thinking to himself: The so-called “elites” in the Municipal Bureau are really this mediocre. They haven’t even exchanged a few probing words before exposing their intentions. The whole conversation was monitored by them from start to finish. It seems that every industry is the same; whether you can climb up depends on who you know.

He took a sip of his drink with a sinister expression on his face, looking at Luo Wenzhou, who was still exchanging coded signals with the chicken, and a vague sense of cynicism arose in his heart.

Just then, the person who had gone out suddenly rushed in, flustered and anxious, “Huang, he… he… he…”

The captain raised his head impatiently, seeing his subordinate’s pale face, and the person looked like they had been struck by lightning, incoherently saying, “Dead… dead!”

Huang furrowed his brows, “You fucking idiot, can’t you speak clearly? What’s dead?”

“That… that…” the subordinate pointed in the direction where Chen Zhen was being held, their tongue tied.

Huang suddenly realized, his scalp tingling. He stood up from the sofa and smashed his glass against the subordinate’s face, roaring, “Dead! Who told you to touch him?”

The subordinate had a mournful face and a face full of alcohol. “No… no one touched him. We just gave him an injection, just a small dose, just a tiny bit, Huang. Who could have thought he would die? Is he fucking staging it?”

An overdose of drugs can be fatal, but the amount that constitutes an overdose varies from person to person—some people can have a fatal allergic reaction from eating a peanut or drinking milk, and of course, there are cases where even a small amount of drugs can cause death. However, those are extreme minority cases. No one expected Chen Zhen, a lively young man, to be so fragile.

Huang’s mind buzzed. Suddenly, he turned his head and stared fiercely at Luo Wenzhou in the surveillance footage, as if speaking to himself, “This is a big deal. We have to keep him.”