The air was scorching, seeping in through every pore as if it would melt him alive.
He had a shred of willpower left, but he couldn’t move, not even his fingers.
Thick smoke filled his vision, choking him so that he couldn’t breathe.
His body hurt so much it felt like it would rip apart. He shouted that name loudly, but no one answered.
He had been abandoned…
By the woman he had once deeply loved.
He and she had shared five years of beautiful moments. He had held her close and they had vowed to give their lives for each other.
He had kept his promise, but she had not.
Why? Why had no one come to punish those people?
They were wrong, they were all wrong. Only he was right!
He had a momentary feeling that his breathing and heart had stopped. Finally, he struggled to sit up, gasping for air.
There was no fire, no thick smoke. It was just an ordinary night, dark and without a trace of light in the room. He looked at his phone – it was 2:30 in the morning.
Someone embraced him from the side, “It’s okay, it’s okay… it was just a nightmare,” a gentle female voice comforted him. She was as gentle as a puddle of water, tightly wrapping him up, extinguishing the flames all over his body.
Qin Yongchen’s breathing gradually calmed down. He looked at Mi Shu lying beside him, and her gaze towards him was calm, full of love and admiration.
He didn’t say anything, but held her hand. Mi Shu’s hand was slightly warm to the touch, and that warmth comforted him and calmed his emotions.
Mi Shu silently watched him. She had refused to be touched by men for a long time and didn’t want to talk to them, but Qin Yongchen was an exception.
She touched Qin Yongchen’s burned skin with her hand, and didn’t feel disgusted. In her eyes, those were his medals of honor.
Qin Yongchen gradually calmed down and remembered that he was in Huadu, the last stop of their plan.
A stinging sensation came from his burned skin, which was a sequelae of his injuries, making him feel like he was in purgatory all the time.
The only consolation for him was that it was almost over, it was almost over.
Soon, he would find his answers.
In a blink of an eye, three days had passed. During this time, the city appeared calm on the surface, but the Major Crimes Unit knew that it was just superficial.
The whole team was focused on investigating the case, and dared not relax in the slightest.
It was now 10 pm at night, and the lights were still on in the bureau, creating a tense atmosphere. All members of the Major Crimes Unit were working overtime, even Su Hui, who spent the entire day with Xia Mingxi screening forum information, was now lying on the couch with a pillow.
Qiao Ze finished his last communication call and was finally able to confirm the data. He breathed a sigh of relief and said, “Captain Lu, we’ve found out all the device models the robbers used. Three phones were used – one Apple and two Androids. I’ve already started tracking the phones!”
The other members had been waiting for this news for a long time. At that moment, everyone in the serious crime squad crowded around Qiao Ze. With this location information, they now knew the exact location of the three robbers.
Finally making progress, Su Hui sat up from the couch and rubbed his eyes.
Lu Junchi walked over to Qiao Ze’s computer and watched as he entered the data and pulled up the latest location information. Three light spots flickered on the map and gradually converged into one location.
“Mingyue Fangting Community!” Lu Junchi said directly.
The community was located in the south of the city and was a medium-grade community that wasn’t too old or too new. It was conveniently located with small units, making it a popular choice for many young couples.
He quickly made a judgment, “This community… doesn’t seem like the robbers’ hideout. Considering the current time, this may be a new attack!”
Lu Junchi turned around and ordered, “Qu Ming, quickly contact the criminal investigation team and prepare for action!”
Two hours ago, in an ordinary two-bedroom apartment in the Mingyue Fangting community, the curtains were closed and the room was very quiet. The wife, Dong Jiaying, sat on the couch and looked at her phone for a while before stretching lazily.
The husband Zhou Ye brought a cup of hot grapefruit tea to her, Dong Jiaying took a tissue and raised her head: “Thank you, dear.”
Zhou Ye glanced at his wife’s phone desktop: “Are you looking at the forum again?”
“Yes,” Dong Jiaying said as she wiped the tears from the corners of her eyes, which were still a little red. “Recently, something happened on the forum. They are all talking about some very touching love stories.”
The stories were too touching, and she couldn’t help but feel her eyes getting hot and tears falling.
“You mean the ones you shared with me during the day?” Zhou Ye frowned. “You’ve been crying so much, be careful not to get swollen eyes tomorrow.”
Dong Jiaying wiped her tears and smiled apologetically, “There are many more stories that are more touching than the ones I showed you earlier. For example, there’s this story called ‘Heavenly Stairs,’ which tells of an elderly couple who lived on a mountain. When the wife became ill and found it difficult to descend the mountain, her husband spent several years carving out 6,208 steps on the mountainside. Although the couple have both passed away, there are still many people who come to witness their love. There are several other posts that make people realize that true love still exists in the world.”
Zhou Ye looked at his wife and helped her tidy her hair. “With what you’re saying, of course, there is love. Although life is just mundane chores, there are still some genuine emotions in life.” He then thought of something. “By the way, I recently received a bonus, and our wedding anniversary is coming up. This is also our third anniversary. Shall we celebrate it in a grand way? You’ve been using your phone for three years. Do you want to get a new one?”
They got married three years ago, and a year after their marriage, they successfully conceived and soon had a baby. The child is not even a year old yet, and Dong Jiaying has not resumed work because no one is taking care of the baby.
Their daily lives rely solely on Zhou Ye’s salary and savings. The baby’s milk powder and diapers are expensive, and more than half of the mortgage is still unpaid. Life is a bit tight, but hardworking Zhou Ye always finds ways to make his wife happy and occasionally earns extra money to improve their lives.
After hearing what her husband said, Dong Jiaying hugged Zhou Ye tightly. Her previous phone was the one Zhou Ye gave her on their wedding day, and she had always treasured it. Now, she was so excited to hear her husband speak that she kissed him on the face and said, “Honey, I love you!”
Suddenly, the sound of a baby’s cry came from the room. Dong Jiaying got up and said, “The baby is awake. I’ll go check on him.”
Zhou Ye said, “Maybe he’s hungry. I’ll make him some milk.”
Recently, Dong Jiaying wanted to go to work and began to wean the baby from breastfeeding and switch to formula.
Dong Jiaying walked into the bedroom, turned on the light, and picked up the baby in her arms, soothing him softly.
The baby is not even a year old and doesn’t speak many words. He immediately stopped crying when he saw his mother pick him up and even said “Ma” while reaching out his small hand to hold Dong Jiaying’s finger.
Holding the baby and patting him gently, Dong Jiaying felt warm and happy watching her busy husband in the living room.
This was an ordinary and happy small family, and in the vast city, there may be millions of such families.
At this time, the couple had no idea that danger had quietly arrived.
Three shadows entered the community while the security was off guard and quietly came to their doorstep.
With a few moves from the young man at the front, the seemingly unbreakable door suddenly opened, and then three people broke in.
Zhou Ye was still holding the bottle in his hand when his head was suddenly struck by a stick, and the bottle fell to the ground with a loud crash. Before he could react, he was pinned down by a man, and then a sharp knife was placed on his neck.
Zhou Ye’s hand was scratched by the broken glass on the ground, blood flowed out and stained the floor red. He didn’t care about the pain in his hand and asked anxiously, “Who are you?”
Dong Jiaying also heard the noise and put the child back in the crib. Just as she turned around, she found several strangers in the living room.
The man in black clothes who was leading them firmly controlled Zhou Ye. He turned his head and coldly said to Dong Jiaying with a hoarse voice, “Don’t move! Otherwise, you will die now.”
Dong Jiaying remembered some online news she had read recently about criminals breaking into homes to rob. She had already set up a one-click alarm and reached for her phone, but the teenage robber was quicker.
“What do you want to do…” Dong Jiaying asked tremblingly. Her eyes were full of fear. These people smelled of blood and were capable of killing.
“Shh, don’t be afraid.” The woman among the three walked up to her and then leaned over to look at the baby in the crib, teasing the child.
“Don’t touch my child!” Dong Jiaying’s voice trembled with tears. She didn’t dare to call for help loudly, afraid that they would harm the baby.
The baby on the crib was completely unaware of the danger that was about to come, not afraid of strangers and even giggled.
Watching the woman’s hand reaching for the child, Dong Jiaying’s body was covered in goosebumps.
“As long as you behave, we won’t harm him.” The woman touched the baby’s tender skin with her finger, smiling lightly and said, “We just came to play a game with you…”
Looking at the three unexpected intruders, the woman’s smile made Dong Jiaying shudder.
Her hand kept trembling uncontrollably, and she didn’t know what fate was waiting for them.
In the bureau, the Serious Crime Unit and the Criminal Investigation Team *raced against time and quickly assembled at the fastest speed.
*争分夺秒: Lit- fight minutes snatch seconds(idiom) – a race against time; make every second count
Tonight, there was a moon in the sky, and its light shone brightly on the bustling city of Huadu, where the streets were *filled with cars and people.
*车水马龙: Lit- endless stream of horses and carriages – heavy traffic
For ordinary people, this was just an ordinary night, but on this very night, a family’s life hung in the balance in this city.
Su Hui walked a bit slower and followed them out. Lu Junchi turned around and looked at him under the streetlight. Su Hui’s face looked pale under the light, and he looked frail, as if he would be blown away by the night wind.
Lu Junchi advised him, “Professor Su, there may be danger during the arrest tonight. You better not come. I’ll have someone from the bureau accompany you.”
Su Hui hesitated for a moment, then tightened his grip on his cane. “I’ll come along. Maybe I can be of help, and I’ll be careful.”
Lu Junchi thought for a moment. Su Hui had played a significant role in the previous scene. The situation was unknown now, and the suspect might have a hostage. Su Hui’s psychological profile could serve as a prediction of the killer’s actions. He nodded and said, “All right.”
Everyone got into the car, and except for Xia Mingxi, everyone from the Major Crimes Unit followed. Qu Ming and Zheng Bai got into another car.
Lu Junchi quickly started the car, turned on the GPS, and headed towards the direction of the residential area. It would take a twenty-minute drive from the police station to get there.
Qiao Ze was sitting in the backseat of the car, still using his computer to search for information. “Currently, mobile phone tracking cannot be too precise. After comparing it with the forum data we previously obtained, we have preliminarily narrowed it down to Room 202 in Building 4, where the victim should reside. The homeowners are a young couple, the husband’s name is Zhou Ye, and the wife’s name is Dong Jiaying. They also have a baby less than a year old at home, which fits the killer’s selection criteria.”
He then checked the time and estimated, “Based on the previous crime times, it’s been over two hours since the perpetrator entered their home.”
Upon hearing this, Su Hui pursed his lips and tightened his grip on his cane. Even though he was calm, his palms were already sweating.
In over two hours, a lot can be said and done, even enough to kill the young couple and their baby…
Liu Junchi said, “Contact the personnel from the property management and the neighborhood committee to prepare for the evacuation of unrelated individuals.”
Qiao Ze’s hands were trembling as he typed on the keyboard, “I have contacted the property management to investigate from a distance. Currently, the room’s curtains are drawn and the lights are on. The situation inside the house is unknown.”
This was the second violent attack by the culprit in Huadu.
Faster, if only they could be faster.
It was once a warm family, three living human lives.
All they could hope for now was that everything was not too late…
Honestly if only these three weren’t so blinded by their grief and anger, they would have made a wonderful family. Because they’ve gone through similar situations their bond would have been strong and they could have been happy. They already accept each other with their flaws and insecurities.