After all, Lu Mingming was still a young girl.
Since Lu Ye had to go back to work at the office, it wouldn’t be appropriate for her to be alone with Qi Yanbai.
So, Lu Ye made a last-minute call to Lu Wenyu to explain the situation.
He then sent Lu Mingming on the bus back home before heading back to the city police station.
When Lu Ye arrived at the office, his colleagues had already prepared a police car at the entrance for him.
He casually put on his duty coat, took a few steps to climb up the steps, opened the car door, and sat inside.
He slid the lock upwards as he closed the door.
“What’s the situation?” Lu Ye asked.
“This time it’s at Binhe Park,” his colleague said.
“The victim is 21 years old, a college student from the city.
She went there to shoot a film assignment.”
“Is she alright?” Lu Ye inquired.
“She’s fine,” his colleague replied.
“It was the victim who reported the incident.
Xiao Yao has already gone over — by the way, the incident happened in a restroom.”
Lu Ye clicked his tongue softly, furrowing his brows.
He took out his phone and messaged Yao Xing, asking for updates.
Recently, there was a roaming offender in the New City district who often hid in park restrooms or outdoor fitness areas, targeting young women and taking advantage of them.
His actions were spread over a wide area, almost covering the entire jurisdiction, and his crime frequency was extremely high.
In just a week, the station had received three identical reports.
Lu Ye’s team attached great importance to this case.
They had been investigating for about a week, but since the offender often chose secluded areas without surveillance cameras and cutting off the electricity supply before attacking from behind, most victims hadn’t been able to see his face clearly.
It was difficult to gather useful leads.
“Let me tell you, this guy is something else,” his colleague said, maneuvering the steering wheel while driving onto the main road leading to Binhe Park.
“These cases keep happening in both the north and the south, and all on workdays.
What the hell is he up to? He might just be an unemployed wanderer as well.”
Jobless drifters and urban roamers were the hardest to track down, as it usually meant they didn’t have a fixed home or social connections, making them hard to understand.
“It’s not necessarily.” Lu Ye said, “we’ll have to look into it more.”
Binhe Park wasn’t far from the station, a drive of just over ten minutes.
When they arrived, a small area near the restroom had already been cleared.
Yao Xing’s police car was parked by the roadside.
Inside sat a disheveled young girl, wearing Yao Xing’s police coat, trembling as she kept her head down.
She was still shaken.
Lu Ye observed her for a while but didn’t approach her.
Instead, he walked around from the opposite flowerbed, went to the entrance of the restroom, and signaled Yao Xing with a wave.
“Any leads?” Lu Ye asked.
“It’s the same as the previous times,” Yao Xing replied.
“No surveillance here either.
The suspect had been hiding in the restroom beforehand.
I’m not sure for how long.
Also no trace of bodily fluids left.”
“However,” Yao Xing paused, then looked far away towards the direction of the police car, and whispered, “The victim struggled and managed to catch a glimpse of the suspect’s appearance.”
This was clearly good news, and Lu Ye’s eyes lit up.
His spirits were lifted.
“That’s a good thing.
When you go back, ask the forensic artist if they can create a sketch.” Lu Ye instructed, nodding slightly, “Also, take her to the hospital first to check for injuries.
If she’s hurt, get her injuries documented.
When she’s in a more stable emotional state, bring her back to the station to give a statement.”
Yao Xing was the only female officer in the team, so this task naturally fell to her.
She nodded in agreement, sighed, and said she understood.
Restroom scenes were complex with people coming and going, making it difficult to extract any useful information.
Lu Ye and his colleagues conducted a preliminary investigation and evidence collection at the scene.
They also interviewed some people in the vicinity but unfortunately didn’t find any significant leads.
They could only copy the surveillance videos from the major entrances and exits of the park to study them later.
Scene investigation was intricate and time-consuming work.
When this was completed, the night had alredy fallen.
Lu Ye sat in the passenger seat, flipping through his notebook’s records of interviews while half-listening to his colleague’s chattering.
“Why is it so difficult for people to follow the rules these days?” his colleague grumbled, “My mom even arranged a blind date for me today.
Now with this, forget about girls, I might not even be able to find a lady of age.”
“You’re about the same age as me, what’s the rush?” Lu Ye brushed his finger over the patrol security guard’s timings while half-heartedly responding, “Out with the old and in with the new.
Tomorrow might bring something better.”
“It’s easy to say when you have someone delivering you hot food.
Unlike us, we’re bombarded by uncles and aunts to find a partner the moment we get home.”
As they were talking, the police car turned onto the road leading back to the city police station.
Whether it was because his chatty colleague was onto something or by coincidence, Lu Ye suddenly turned to see a familiar figure standing near the station entrance.
Qi Yanbai was dressed in a slightly thicker coat, standing by the security room, conversing with someone.
Lu Ye saw him handing over a small package through the window, then politely nodding to the person before turning to leave.
“Wait a moment, stop the car,” Lu Ye said.
His colleague instinctively pressed the brake, stopping the police car not far from the entrance.
Lu Ye got out, called out to Qi Yanbai, “Teacher Qi.”
Qi Yanbai turned back in surprise, his gaze quickly scanning Lu Ye from head to toe.
He looked puzzled and asked, “Lu Ye, did you go out?”
“Just finished an assignment,” Lu Ye said.
“Is it dangerous?” Qi Yanbai asked, concerned.
“Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” Lu Ye smiled and said, “we still haven’t caught the suspect though.
But what about you? Why did you suddenly come over?”
“Brought you some dinner,” Qi Yanbai said, “I had already prepared food for three people, and I can’t finish it alone.”
He reached out to naturally take a thermal bag from the windowsill, took a few steps forward, and handed it to Lu Ye, his lips curving into a gentle smile.
Lu Ye hadn’t expected him to come all the way just to deliver dinner.
His eyes flickered, and he focused on Qi Yanbai’s hand.
In the deep autumn, the temperature changed from day to day.
Yesterday was sunny, today it dropped by six or seven degrees.
Qi Yanbai’s originally fair knuckles were slightly reddened by the cold wind.
Lu Ye furrowed his brows slightly, his heart feeling a bit uneasy and itchy, as if tiny ants were crawling within.
No one in the world was exempt from having preferences and making compromises.
Besides, Qi Yanbai’s appearance and personality both matched Lu Ye’s preferences.
When they weren’t familiar, it was fine, but once they became acquainted, it was hard for Lu Ye not to develop a positive impression of him.
But Qi Yanbai was generally friendly to everyone, so it was difficult for Lu Ye to distinguish whether his goodwill was due to his personality or some vague form of fondness.
Either way, aside from his preferences, Qi Yanbai did meet Lu Ye’s criteria for a partner.
After all, Lu Ye wasn’t particularly strict in that regard.
As long as the person was normal, law-abiding, and didn’t deceive or harm him, it was acceptable.
Qi Yanbai was gentle and friendly, and there seemed to be no hidden dangers.
Thus, Lu Ye thought for a moment and decided to accept his goodwill.
He would let things unfold naturally, maybe develop a good relationship.
If Qi Yanbai also developed feelings for him, that would be great.
If not, it wouldn’t hinder them from being friends.
“Next time, don’t come over when it’s this cold,” Lu Ye chuckled, took the thermal bag from Qi Yanbai, and said, “Anyway, since I live nearby now, I’ll just keep it for a late-night snack if I can’t finish it.”
While speaking, Lu Ye wanted to touch Qi Yanbai’s fingertips to gauge the temperature.
But whether it was intentional or coincidental, Qi Yanbai quickly retracted his hand, avoiding Lu Ye’s touch.
Only his fingertips brushed past Lu Ye’s knuckles, leaving behind a faint touch.
The slightly cool breeze slipped gently between his fingers, causing Lu Ye to freeze momentarily.
Before he could react, he heard footsteps approaching from behind.
He turned to find his colleague returning, walking towards him with a furrowed brow.
“What’s wrong?” Lu Ye asked.
“Liu Ge got called to the city station for help temporarily.
He won’t be back tonight,” his colleague said, looking embarrassed.
“There might not be anyone available to make the sketch.”
Among the officers who could crack cases, there was only Liu Ge with the skills to draw sketches.
Other officers might be able to describe but not draw, and even with a photograph to refer to, they’d likely have trouble producing a useful result.
Lu Ye was about to consider where he could go to ask someone else when Qi Yanbai suddenly interjected, “You need a sketch?”
Lu Ye and his colleague both turned to him.
Qi Yanbai, however, seemed unfazed, smiling at Lu Ye and saying, “If you need a sketch, maybe I can help?”
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