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    Chapter 128 - The Case

    In the restroom.

    Ji Min stood inside a stall, gazing at the toilet for a long while.

    Not far behind him, Manager Chen waited silently.

    Slowly, Ji Min crouched down, his hand wearing a disposable glove reaching out for a moment.

    But he didn't dare to proceed.

    He stood up again and silently built up his courage for a while.

    Manager Chen glanced down at his watch.

    Looking at Ji Min's hesitant attitude, he kindly suggested, "Sir, if you really can't do it, shall I take over?"

    Ji Min sighed, pressing his forehead.

    He waved at Butler Chen dismissively. "No way. He specifically asked me to do it myself. How can I let you do it?"

    Ji Min was particularly principled when it came to matters like these.

    Butler Chen didn't bother him further and continued to wait silently.

    A few more minutes passed.

    Ji Min remained crouched in front of the toilet, mentally preparing himself.

    Butler Chen was speechless and prompted again, "If you don't go out soon, Shen Cheng will leave. Otherwise... would you like to get a cup from the kitchen's dirty water bucket?"

    Butler Chen tried his best to solve his boss's dilemma.

    To his surprise, Ji Min replied resolutely, "That won't do. If I hide it from him and he finds out, what if he gets angry?"

    Lu Ran could be terrifying when he was upset.

    Time seemed to stretch endlessly.

    Ji Min had no intention of going through that again.

    However, he was also aware that he had been dragging his feet for too long.

    He let out a deep sigh and looked at Butler Chen, "…Please leave for now."

    Butler Chen fell silent.

    Although he regretted not being able to witness his boss's "fall from grace" firsthand, he eventually left with great decorum.

    After a short while had passed.

    Ji Min appeared with his sleeves rolled up and wearing a stack of seven or eight disposable gloves on his hands. He carried two cups in his careful grip.

    His expression was stern, and his movements were meticulous, as if the contents of the cups weren't toilet water but rather hazardous lava.

    He placed them carefully onto a discarded tray.

    Ji Min promptly removed his gloves and went back to thoroughly wash his hands.

    Only then did he carry the tray out.

    In the courtyard, Shen Cheng was already seated in front of Lu Ran again.

    Upon seeing the esteemed President Ji personally carrying a tray, both of them turned their heads to give Ji Min a long look.

    Shen Cheng felt honored and surprised.

    Lu Ran, on the other hand, raised an eyebrow in surprise, suppressing a smile as he shot Ji Min a glance. "You're really serving it?"

    Ji Min: "…"

    He knew this guy was teasing him.

    Ji Min personally brought the wine over.

    How dare Shen Cheng remain seated? He immediately stood up and reached out to take it.

    His genuine surprise showed in this moment.

    With the Shen family in turmoil, his long-standing source of income had vanished.

    Rumor had it that the Shen enterprise had fallen into the hands of Lu Ran, the wayward child, who was now backed by Ji Min.

    Thus, he had come to seek some financial gain from the situation.

    Unlike with Shen Hongyuan, Shen Cheng had no intention of leeching off Ji Min indefinitely, for Ji Min was not someone to be trifled with.

    He merely hoped for a one-time windfall to alleviate his immediate financial crisis and pay off his recent gambling debts.

    Initially, it had been astonishing to see the esteemed head of the Ji family dote so much on Lu Ran.

    Now, witnessing Ji Min personally pour wine for him, Shen Cheng felt he had certainly made the right move!

    Of course, he was not worthy of such a gesture from Ji Min.

    So, for whom did Ji Min extend this courtesy? The answer was clear – it was for Lu Ran!

    It was unexpected that Ji Min would go to such lengths for Lu Ran.

    Truly terrifying!

    Shen Cheng's mind started racing with possibilities.

    From the looks of it, as long as he had Lu Ran in his grasp, what benefits couldn't he obtain?

    Shen Cheng's attitude became overly eager.

    He initially thought that only one glass of wine was meant for him, but after taking one, he realized that Ji Min had placed the entire tray before him.

    He felt even more honored than before.

    "Many thanks, President Ji!" Shen Cheng hurriedly said.

    Ji Min: "..."

    He didn't respond, instead silently sitting down beside Lu Ran in silence.

    With a stifled laugh, Lu Ran approached and asked, "Why did you pour two cups?"

    After a moment of silence, Ji Min replied,

    "I don't have much experience, so I'm afraid of making mistakes. Having an extra cup increases the margin for error."

    Looking at his utterly serious expression, Lu Ran couldn't help but chuckle.

    Ji Min raised an eyebrow in response.

    Reaching out, I gently grasped his fingers.

    Lu Ran promptly withdrew his hand and whispered, "Eh? Did you wash your hands before grabbing me?"

    "Not yet," Ji Min replied.

    He held onto Lu Ran's fingers, refusing to let go.

    Taking advantage of the relatively high round table before them, he audaciously threaded his fingers through the youth's digits, pushing the boundaries of intimacy even further.

    Striving to maximize contact, they rubbed against each other more evenly, sharing their discomfort.

    Lu Ran said, "Are you being childish or what?"

    Ji Min shot back, "Who's the one being childish here?"

    Lu Ran tried to pull his hand back with great effort.

    But he was also wary of making too much movement, for fear that Shen Cheng across from him would notice.

    The two of them, one gripping firmly and the other tugging back, were on the verge of starting a scuffle under the table.

    Shen Cheng was still absorbed in the shock of Ji Min pouring him a drink.

    He gazed at the two transparent glasses of alcohol before him.

    For Ji Min to personally serve it, it had to be a fine liquor indeed!

    With this thought in mind, Shen Cheng promptly took a sip from the cup.

    The moment it touched his tongue, an odd yet familiar taste rushed up his throat.

    Shen Cheng nearly spat it out.

    Lu Ran and Ji Min were engaged in a fierce wrist-wrestling match under the table.

    Seeing Shen Cheng lift the cup, Lu Ran paused and, suddenly recalling something, whispered to Ji Min, "Did you dilute it?"

    Ji Min: "…?"

    "Needs to be... diluted?" Ji Min asked softly, perplexed.

    Was it that delicate a matter?

    Lu Ran: "…"

    Didn't that just ruin everything?

    He merely intended to provoke Shen Cheng for the moment, as he still had questions to ask him later.

    If Ji Min served this undiluted, he'd surely intoxicate Shen Cheng beyond recognition.

    Lu Ran was pounding his chest in frustration.

    If only he had known, he should have done it himself!

    As Shen Cheng swallowed the drink, his expression began to contort.

    It seemed that Ji Min was about to ruin everything.

    Just as Lu Ran anticipated Shen Cheng to vomit on the spot,

    Shen Cheng shut his eyes tightly,

    and swallowed it down.

    Ji Min: "..."

    Lu Ran: "..."

    After Shen Cheng swallowed it, he even savored the taste.

    With a twisted face, he praised, "Great wine, quite potent!"

    Ji Min: "..."

    Lu Ran: "..."

    Worried that Ji Min might be upset by his contorted expression just now, and to further prove his words, Shen Cheng simply tilted his head back and downed the entire glass of wine in one go.

    After finishing that glass, he moved on to the next.

    His actions were swift and graceful, as if he was truly savoring an exquisite wine rather than something as unpleasant as toilet water.

    Lu Ran was left staring in amazement.

    Lu Ran stood there in a daze for a while before looking at Ji Min again.

    He asked mistrustfully, "Did you really do what I asked, or did you just pour two random glasses of wine?"

    Ji Min felt deeply wronged.

    "You can smell the cups if you don't believe me," the man gritted his teeth.

    Lu Ran stroked his chin. "That doesn't make sense, does it?"

    He began to doubt himself. "It was all toilet water. Could the glass you poured taste better than mine?"

    Ji Min: "…"

    "Thanks, but there's nothing to praise about that," he said with a gloomy expression.

    After much pondering, Lu Ran finally found the reason.

    Few outsiders ever visited Ji Min's home.

    The restroom downstairs was seldom used, probably because its scent wasn't authentic enough.

    At this thought, Lu Ran couldn't help but feel a tinge of regret.

    Shen Cheng had no idea what the affectionate pair across from him were discussing.

    After downing two glasses of alcohol, he felt dizzy and lightheaded.

    This liquor had quite a strong kick, didn't it?

    Finishing the drink, he couldn't even distinguish whether it was white liquor or imported spirits.

    As expected of a wine brought out by Ji Min.

    Truly rare!

    After a moment's pause, Shen Cheng finally revealed the purpose of his visit.

    He looked at Lu Ran and said, "After being away for so long, only to return and find that the elderly gentleman who doted on you the most has passed away, you must miss him dearly."

    "Well, your uncle here used to spend a lot of time with Grandfather back then. I recorded quite a few videos, including some from when you were little."

    "Videos?" Lu Ran's interest was piqued.

    Seeing that he was hooked, Shen Cheng began to lament, "But lately, I've run into some trouble. My phone and computer were stolen, and I need money to get them back."

    At this point, Shen Cheng's intention was crystal clear.

    However, Lu Ran seemed oblivious, expressing sympathy with a sigh, "That's truly unfortunate."

    Shen Cheng: "…"

    Pausing, he couldn't resist adding, "If we search thoroughly, there's still a chance to retrieve them, but it would be quite troublesome."

    "Oh, so troublesome?" Lu Ran shook his head sadly. "I can barely remember what Grandfather looked like. If it's going to be that difficult, let's just forget about it."

    Shen Cheng: "…"

    He then turned his gaze towards Ji Min.

    To his surprise, Ji Min replied, "Well, the old man is no longer with us. You'll only feel sad and upset if you see it. It's better if you don't look."

    Shen Cheng: "..."

    He was somewhat numb.

    It was fine if Lu Ran was naive, but Ji Min clearly wasn't.

    With this attitude, it was obvious that he wouldn't act unless he saw tangible benefits.

    Shen Cheng began to hesitate.

    The incident involving Shen Hongyuan had shaken him as well.

    Thus, when he came to find Lu Ran this time, he only intended to make a quick deal and not get too involved.

    But then he remembered that Ji Min had just poured him two glasses of wine!

    This was Ji Min, the chairman of the prestigious Ji Corporation.

    Shen Cheng found Ji Min's probing forgivable.

    After all, the other party had shown sincerity; he should reveal something in return.

    Perhaps Lu Ran, with his innocent nature, would be enticed by this bit of information?

    With that thought, Shen Cheng gritted his teeth and said, "In any case, you must miss Grandpa. Uncle still has some photos of him from before he passed away. I'll send them all to you later!"

    Soon after, Shen Cheng returned, his mind preoccupied.

    Lu Ran leaned back in his chair, flipping through the photos Shen Cheng had sent.

    "Are you suspecting foul play in Elder Shen's death?" Ji Min asked.

    "I wouldn't say suspicion, but I find Shen Hongyuan very peculiar," Lu Ran mused.

    "How about we buy whatever Shen Cheng has?" Ji Min suggested.

    "I won't," Lu Ran immediately refused. "No one is getting their hands on my money."

    As he spoke, he shot Ji Min a glance. "You're not allowed to splurge either."

    Ji Min: "..."

    He couldn't help but chuckle.

    Lu Ran spent two days at home studying the photos Shen Cheng had sent him.

    The pictures weren't very clear, likely taken from screenshots of a video.

    There weren't many screenshots, fewer than ten.

    Most of them were taken at Elder Shen's residence.

    It was unclear if Shen Cheng had deliberately done this to entice Lu Ran into paying up or if it was a limitation of the video itself.

    The majority of the screenshots featured scenes with both Lu Ran and Elder Shen.

    The elderly man and the young one were not cuddled together, but each was occupied with their own tasks in the courtyard.

    Lu Ran perused the pages for quite some time but found no pertinent information.

    In the evening, seeing that he was still flipping through those photos, Ji Min pulled him into his embrace.

    He gently grazed his chin against the crown of the youth's head, querying, "Do you truly care that much?"

    "Let me focus," Lu Ran gently pushed him away.

    As their arms brushed, the screenshot on the tablet flipped to the next image.

    Lu Ran gazed at the picture, momentarily taken aback.

    "What's wrong?" Ji Min inquired.

    In the screenshot, the elderly man was supported by his cane, surrounded and led forward by others. The child, on the other hand, was being held by a servant, trailing behind.

    Lu Ran's attention wasn't on the person in the screenshot. Instead, he pointed at a flower bed in the corner.

    He asked Ji Min, "Does this flower bed look familiar to you?"

    "Hmm?"

    Ji Min leaned over to examine it but didn't find anything significant.

    After some thought, Lu Ran said, "I think I might have stepped on a similar flower bed when I climbed out of the window in the hospital."

    Upon hearing that, Ji Min took the tablet to study it closely.

    What caught his attention was the building on the other side of the flower bed.

    Although the buildings were in different states of disrepair, Ji Min could still tell that it was the building behind his ward when he was hospitalized.

    Understanding Lu Ran's implication, Ji Min promptly made a call and asked someone to investigate the hospital where Old Master Shen had stayed before his passing.

    Indeed, the same hospital performed the surgery on Ji Min.

    It was an independent campus of the New City Private Hospital.

    Lu Ran also recalled seeing a photo of Elder Shen in that hospital zone.

    "Did something come to mind?" Ji Min asked.

    Lu Ran pondered for a moment.

    He held Ji Min's hand and said, "Let's investigate if any of Shen Cheng's mistresses used to work at the New City Private Hospital."

    At the hospital.

    Shen Xingyu sat outside Shen Hongyuan's ward, speaking on the phone with a lawyer.

    He was looking for a reliable lawyer for Shen Hongyuan.

    Though it was certain that Shen Hongyuan had committed embezzlement, any reduction in his sentence would still be beneficial.

    Given the current state of the Shen family, finding a suitable lawyer is no easy task.

    Shen Xingyu hung up the phone.

    He suddenly felt a bit weary and leaned his head against the wall.

    Shen Xingran's trial for corporate crime was about to begin.

    After leaving the hospital room that day, Shen Xingzhuo hadn't returned.

    Shen Xingyu had checked the bank records and discovered that Shen Xingzhuo's card hadn't been used recently.

    He also sought out some of Shen Xingzhuo's acquaintances, asking for any news through intermediaries.

    But he gained nothing.

    Shen Xingyu gazed up at the hospital ceiling.

    In the past, he had never hesitated in his actions.

    With a clear objective in mind, he had always proceeded with unwavering determination.

    But now, seeing the family he had fought so hard to protect reduced to this state, Shen Xingyu was overwhelmed with mixed emotions.

    Yet, after only a few minutes of despair, he straightened his back, ready to resume his efforts.

    He couldn't afford to rest.

    Once he did, a deeper sense of confusion would resurface.

    Just as Shen Xingyu was about to continue reaching out to the lawyers he knew, footsteps sounded nearby.

    A few detectives approached him, showing their IDs and confirming, "This is Mr. Shen Hongyuan's room, right?"

    Shen Xingyu assumed it was related to the case of Shen Hongyuan embezzling family assets.

    He nodded, about to speak.

    Only to hear the police officer in front of him say,

    "We've received reports linking Mr. Shen Hanshan's death fourteen years ago and a car accident that occurred in April this year to Shen Hongyuan."

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