The sidewalk was also empty. Every now and then, cars zipped across the wide road.
After Ji Yi scanned her surroundings and confirmed that He Jichen was nowhere to be seen, she turned around and headed back into the Golden Lounge.
When she stepped through the front doors of the lounge, Ji Yi bumped right into a doorman who she had seen a number of times. With a moment's hesitation, she stopped walking and asked the doorman, "Did you just see Mr. He, previously from YC, come out?"
The Golden Lounge had a membership system, which meant that the staff remembered the names and faces of some of the premium members.
The doorman knew who Ji Yi was referring to and quickly shook his head while replying: "No. After Mr. He came in at seven or so, he hasn't come out since."
Knowing that He Jichen was still in the lounge, Ji Yi felt a little relieved. She thanked the doorman and took two steps towards the lobby. All of a sudden, she turned around again and opened her handbag to pull out a few notes. She handed them to the doorman and said, "If you happen to see Mr. He come out, could you please ask the front desk to send me a message?"
"Sure, Miss Ji," replied the doorman as he happily took the money.
Ji Yi didn't head upstairs back to the room, but she sent a message to Tang Huahua to ask if He Jichen had returned while she searched all over the Golden Lounge.
Ji Yi searched the guest rooms from the first floor to the top floor but couldn't manage to find He Jichen. It wasn't until she headed back to the second floor that she finally saw He Jichen through the window at the very end of the hallway, in the back garden.
He stood under a blooming red plum tree, smoking.
He ran out of the room in a hurry so he wasn't wearing a jacket. He only had a thin shirt on during this frosty winter's night. It seemed like he just taking big tokes of his cigarette, alone and in a somber mood.
Ji Yi looked down at He Jichen, who was standing on the floor below, through the window for a while before she withdrew her gaze and hurriedly ran down the stairs.
She pushed the back garden door open and rushed over to where He Jichen was standing.
There were a few people scattered around the back garden.
There were one or two couples hugging and flirting in discreet spots, and there were others on their phones.
Ji Yi walked down the cobbled path, turning left and right a few times, before finally catching sight of He Jichen past a couple of red plum trees.
She didn't hesitate for too long before walking right over to He Jichen. However, she barely took two steps before she heard a few people talking nearby.
"That man smoking under the red plum tree is so hot!"
"Eww... If you didn't say anything, I wouldn't have even noticed him, but I know who he is. That's the previous CEO of YC, He Jichen."
"That name rings a bell. Like I've heard it somewhere before... Oh! I remember now. It's that murderer!"
Those women's voices weren't considerably quiet.
The red plum garden was quite some distance from the Golden Lounge, so the noise couldn't travel over. Since it was rather quiet, both Ji Yi and He Jichen clearly heard everything those women said.
When Ji Yi heard the word "murderer," she suddenly stopped in her tracks.
Even though she was some distance away, Ji Yi still noticed how He Jichen's fingers gently trembled as he pinched the cigarette.