Chapter 1: The Girl’s Commission

In Jiangcheng, on Tingtang Road, there stood an adult toy store called “Peak of Happiness”.
And inside this store, a pale and nervous high school girl stood awkwardly.

“Full service costs 9,900 yuan, and as a preliminary investigation, you must pay a deposit of 1,000 yuan first.” I held a cigarette in my mouth and scrutinized the girl in front of me.
Her small face looked immature against the school uniform, and she was thin and flat-chested.

Under my gaze, the girl became uncomfortable and said, “One thousand…I only have 70 yuan on me.
Can I pay you the rest when I have more money?”

“70 is fine.
Leave the money on the table, and you can go.
I’ll get back to you in three days.”

“You… You’re not a scammer, are you?” The girl was hesitant, and the seventy dollars in her palm was already drenched in her sweat.

“Under the trust of others, we do honest work with efficiency, integrity, and confidentiality as our guiding principles.
Your previous statement is questioning my professional ethics.” I snatched the money from the girl’s hand and waved her off.

At this point, I believe many people would misunderstand me and think that I’m a scoundrel who bullies minors and lures young girls.
But that’s not the case.
Everything I’m doing is to help this young girl.

My name is Gao Jian, and I’m the owner of this adult toy store.
Of course, the term “owner” was just a disguise.
My real identity is a private detective.

We handle missing persons and corpse searches, corporate espionage, anti-counterfeiting and litigation support, extramarital affairs investigations, and various non-litigation cases.
Our firm accepts all types of cases.

Returning to the main topic, the girl who came seeking help earlier was called Xia Qingzhi, a high school student boarding the best high school in this city.

The reason she appeared here was also because of an incredible matter.

“My brother Xia Chi disappeared a week ago, and I suspect he has been murdered.” As soon as she entered, the girl looked anxious and frightened.

“You should report this as a criminal case to the police.” I glanced at her, thinking that a high school student wouldn’t have much money, and I immediately lost interest.

“I tried everything, but calling the police was useless.
No one remembers my brother’s existence, not even in the household registration investigation.
He disappeared like he never existed.
All traces of him have been wiped out.”

“So, you mean to say that the memories of your brother only exist in your mind?” The girl didn’t seem to be lying, and that was the scariest part.

“Yes, everyone has forgotten about my brother, except for me…”

After lighting a cigarette, I took a deep drag of the smoke.

If what the girl said is true, then there are only two possibilities: either there were supernatural paranormal events at work, or the girl had a severe case of schizophrenia and had a twisted personality of her own “brother” hidden within her.

“Did your brother show any unusual or strange behavior before he went missing?” At this point, only following the other person’s words could lead to additional clues, and I was in no hurry.

“One week ago, my brother was invited to an interview for a live streaming platform and never came back.” The girl took out a very ordinary card from her pocket, which was crumpled and looked similar to the small advertisements for drain repairs and fake medicine on the roadside railing.

“Do you aspire to become a highly acclaimed celebrity? Do you want to have millions of fans idolizing you?”

“Become a contracted anchor for the Underworld show and open your own live streaming room.”

“As long as you have the courage, talent, and time.”

“You can turn all your dreams into reality from the comfort of your own home!”

“The Underworld Show, what a unique name,” I studied the card repeatedly and became even more skeptical that this was some mischievous prank by a troublemaker.
I won’t even comment on the company name; after all, just take a look at the back of the card.
The interview time for this live streaming platform was from midnight to 3 a.m., and the interview location was in Room 444 on the 4th underground floor of No.
44 No-Light Road.
This series of numbers for time and location didn’t seem like it was meant for normal people.

“Do you think I’m making this up too?” The girl’s reaction at the time was on the brink of despair, and I could see both disappointment and terror in her eyes.

“No, nobody has the right to come to a conclusion without first conducting a thorough investigation.” Even if it was just for the few tens of Yuan on her, I had to say this because my firm hasn’t had any clients for two months straight, and with the rise of self-service sex toy machines, the income of adult toy stores has been declining.
If things continue like this, I’ll soon be unable to afford rent.

“Underworld Show…” In recent years, live streaming platforms have become increasingly popular.
Some streamers broadcast food, some stream games, and some show off their seductive skills, tempting pure-hearted losers.
All of this could be comprehended, but from the name “Underworld Show”, it was impossible to tell what their main content was.

“Could it be a daily live stream of dead people?”

Shaking my head with a smile, I urged Xia Qingzhi to leave.
The high school girl had been staying at my adult store for too long, and it might cause unnecessary misunderstandings, especially since she was not yet eighteen years old.

As I lifted the thick military coat used as a door curtain, Xia Qingzhi was about to leave but collided with a woman exuding a strong female charm all over her body.

“I-I’m sorry.” Xia Qing covered her face with her backpack, realizing that the adult store was not where she should be, and fled like a bird in flight.

“Do even high school students buy your products?” The woman’s voice was pleasant, and it sounded vaguely familiar to me.

“Whether to buy or not is someone else’s freedom, and I have no right to interfere.” The woman in front of me was indeed a beauty, with delicate and fair ankles on high-heeled sandals, tightly toned calves, and the lace hem of her long, loose skirt floating in mid-air.
Although it was a loose skirt, it couldn’t hide her proud curves, and her figure and temperament were excellent.
She wore a mask and sunglasses, making it difficult to see her face clearly.

However, I was already used to it.
People who came here might have their own secrets.
If the other party does not want to reveal their identity, I will not force them.
Being kind and friendly would bring prosperity, and as long as they paid, they could do almost anything.

The woman was stylishly dressed and elegant, wearing a full set of branded clothing.
The handbag she carried was probably a Louis Vuitton from Paris; just that bag alone was worth my entire year’s rent.

“I wonder what this beautiful lady needs? The store is about to be sold due to poor management, and all products are on a steep discount of 20% off,” I said.

“I’m sorry, I don’t need anything.
I’m just here to find someone,” the woman said as she removed her mask and sunglasses.
“Gao Jian, it’s been five years, and you haven’t changed one bit.”

As soon as I saw that face, the cigarette in my hand fell to the ground.
“Ye Bing?”

She was my first love, and back when we were in the police academy, our overall scores always ranked first and second respectively.

But later, I was expelled from the academy due to my involvement in a serial murder case, while she completed her studies smoothly and was sent abroad for further education with the help of her new boyfriend.

“It’s been five years since we’ve seen each other, and you’ve turned from a sparrow into a phoenix, a complete goddess.” I lit up another cigarette and observed the swirling smoke as I spoke: “You changed your phone number and cut off all contact with me.
I thought you were in a plane crash and had sunk in the Pacific Ocean.”

“It seems like five years wasn’t enough to break your habit of being snarky.
I admit that what I did was wrong, but I don’t regret it.” The beautiful woman smiled, exuding maturity and confidence with every gesture, making men feel impulsive.

“Is that so? Then why did you come back? Don’t tell me you want to reignite our old flame and relive the passionate years.” I stared unabashedly at Ye Bing’s curvaceous figure.

“I came here today with the intention of having a proper conversation with you, but given your current circumstances, it seems unnecessary.”

She didn’t respond and instead took out a bank card from her purse, placing it on the table.
“There’s 100,000 yuan in this card as an apology for leaving without saying goodbye all those years ago.
Gao Jian, we’re not young anymore.
It’s time to move on from our memories and face reality.”

“In three days, Jiang Shao and I will be having our wedding at the Century New Garden.
If you have the time, you’re welcome to come.
After all, I’ve just returned to the country and don’t have many friends in this city.”

Ye Bing’s tone was casual, as if she was describing something mundane.
However, I could sense a profound disdain and disappointment hidden in her eyes.
In that moment, I found myself speechless.

There was no anger, no pain, and no hysterics shown from my side.
I simply took a drag of my cigarette and said, “You can take the card.
I’ll be there on time in three days.”

I didn’t know when Ye Bing had left the store.
All I knew was that after finishing a box of cigarettes, my lungs felt hot and raw.

There’s nothing to complain about.
Someone can easily surpass my entire net worth with just one card.
Instead of feeling angry and helpless in the face of people’s disdainful looks, I might as well focus on what I could do at the moment.

I placed the small advertisement that Xia Qingzhi left next to my computer.
It was the only business I’ve had in the past two months.
Although the client was a minor and might have some mental issues, I could not afford to mess this up.
Simply because I needed the money.

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