Three days had passed and the weekend had arrived.
It was a peaceful afternoon over at Hope Orphanage.
The children were enjoying their weekend around in the backyard. The girls were busy playing with their cooking sets while the boys were playing a game of tag. Even if the circumstances might be tough for the children, the simple life brought about the connection between them that city kids tended to lack nowadays.
There were several orphans who’d grown up and left the orphanage at a shot of a new life. Once in a while, they would return to assist President Cha with the chores around the orphanage, whether if it was lifting the donations around, or for spring cleaning.
From Lin Ruoxi’s perspective, everything looked too good to be true. A scene filled to the brim with love and heart, as she was subconsciously relieved from her burden, she cracked a rare smile.
At a comparatively secluded corner, under a Chinese banyan tree was Lin Ruoxi surrounded by a modest crowd of seven to eight children with a book in her hand.
It was a classic publication by nineteenth-century German linguists, the Grimm brothers. Even after centuries, the stories it brought was still going strong.
Lin Ruoxi, was not an exciting storyteller, but her tone was mellow and sweet, and in addition to her natural appeal with the children, she effortlessly captivated the attention of the children by her side.
Her main story today was the one story that she had narrated a dozen times now, the Brave Little Tailor.
It was a story about a witty, street-smart protagonist who, with some luck and bravery, became king. It was a story that inspired children with fantasy and imagination to what their lives could be.
The stories that she intentionally chose to skip were the ones like the Tom Thumb and Hansel and Gretel, which focused upon the appreciation of parents. She realized that it might bring about a sense of depression in the orphans, so she chose to evade them whenever possible.
After the first story was done, the children nagged for more and wanted to continue with Sleeping Beauty. Lin Ruoxi wiped off the beads of sweat from her forehead before she affectionately patted the head of a five-year-old girl closest to her. “Alright guys, you guys will have to wait for a bit, okay? I’m going to get some water, and I’ll come back as fast as I can.”
It was summer after all. If it wasn’t for her love for the children, she wouldn't be sitting out there in the sun with a book in her hand. This was also an event very much supported by Guo Xuehua. As the spokesperson of multiple orphanages, her usual job required her to run the funding and distribution, which would keep her circling the orphanages throughout the weekend.
Storytelling was no easy work which was why President Cha had prepared a cup of tea for Lin Ruoxi prior to her arrival.
The children hesitantly watched as Lin Ruoxi left before quickly gathering around to discuss the fairytale and who resembled the tailor most.
Just when Lin Ruoxi was about to make her way back to President Cha’s office to take a good sip of tea, at the edge of her sight was a little silhouette by the entrance of the orphanage.
She was a petite girl about four years of age, dressed in a blue floral dress. Her face was chubby and she had a straight fringe haircut, matching her round face perfectly. Her distinct features resembled the pixies in fairy tales.
That reminded Lin Ruoxi of herself when she was at her age, not as adorable, but it did spawn many thoughts in her head like she had seen her somewhere before.
The girl had some baby fat which made her irresistibly chubby.
Right at that moment, while Lin Ruoxi was fixated upon the child. She stood by the gate while staring at Lin Ruoxi with slight apprehension.
The two of them, adult and child, just stood and stared blankly at one another.
Right then, a yellow-haired woman in a black lace dress paired with heavy makeup went up to the little girl, squatted down, and approached her with a passionate smile.
“Hi little girl, what are you looking at?”
The child turned her head towards the unfamiliar face. She blinked and stared but kept her silence.
The yellow-haired lady had a sparkle in her eyes, before retrieving a lollipop from her back pocket. “Tell me little one, what’s your name? If you tell me auntie here will give you this candy I have, It’s strawberry-flavored.”
The girl started licking her lips, before she announced, “My name’s Lanlan.”
“What an adorable name! Lanlan, who are you looking for?” The yellow-haired lady giggled.
Lanlan took over the lollipop from her grasp, simultaneously pouting as she answered, “That big sister over there looks like Mommy.”
The yellow-haired woman contemplated for a moment before she scanned the garden and pinpointed Lin Ruoxi standing by a corner. She then turned back at the little girl and grinned. “Lanlan, I know where Mommy is. Do you want to come with me?”
Lanlan instantly lifted her head and stared at her with anticipation in her eyes. “Really? You know where Mommy is?”
“Of course, Lanlan’s Mommy is my best friend! I know you’ve never met me, but I’ve always known you Lanlan. Auntie here even knows that your Mommy loved blue dresses. Isn’t that right?”
Lanlan vigorously nodded. “Mhm, Mommy likes blue dresses.”
“Then let’s go, follow me,” The woman declared.
Lanlan hesitated as she mumbled, “But, but… Lanlan sneaked out from home. If Auntie Babysitter can’t find Lanlan, she’ll tell Grandpa and Grandpa will spank my butt again.”
The yellow-haired woman quickly reassured her. “It’s going to be okay, Lanlan. Lanlan is going to see Mommy. So Grandpa and Auntie Babysitter wouldn’t punish you.”
The girl hastily agreed, pulling her focus away from the lollipop and held onto the woman’s hand. “Let’s go, we gotta find Mommy!”
The yellow-haired woman wholesomely agreed. With one hand holding hers, she led her towards a white bakery van.
From the garden, as she watched, Lin Ruoxi had an ominous feeling about it. President Cha came out from the office, which prompted an immediate question from Lin Ruoxi. “President, do you have a little girl dressed in a blue dress within the orphanage? About four to five years old?”
President Cha heard her description and chuckled. “Oh, that child, she’s not from our orphanage. I’ve talked to her a few times now. She said that her mother has left, but she was still quite desperate to see her mother again.
“I once invited her to come in and play with the children, but she rejected. She does like to come over though, from time to time to look inside the backyard from afar. I’m not sure what exactly happened to her. Oh yeah, what brought you to talk about it?”
Lin Ruoxi felt like something was clearly off with the incident. If the girl had no parents, then who was that yellow-haired woman?
Then she recalled the unfamiliarity from the little girl towards the woman who had handed a lollipop to her.
Lin Ruoxi’s heart skipped a beat. Wait, wasn't there news about an international human trafficking organization operating in Zhonghai recently?! she thought.
Oh no, it’s a kidnapping plot!
Lin Ruoxi’s mind was running amok before she instantly ran in pursuit!
Just when she darted out of the gates, she witnessed the child in the blue dress enter the van, and the car doors were just held shut, ready to depart.
Lin Ruoxi was left tackless as to what to do. Her mind was in a frenzy as she ran towards her Bentley.
She quickly caught up to the white bakery van.
On one hand, she was strenuously meddling the steering wheel, on the other was her phone dialing a number. It was Cai Yan’s.
“Hello, oh it’s Ruoxi, why are you calling me all of a sudden?” Cai Yan was slightly dumbfounded after all their relationship was in murky grounds.
“Yanyan, terrible news. I met a human trafficker!”
“What? Say it again.”
Cai Yan had recently been following the case closely, which left her particularly sensitive at the mention of the word.
Lin Ruoxi tried her best to tail the bakery van close, while simultaneously debriefing the incident.
“You’re saying that the woman had dyed yellow hair right?”
“Yeah, is she a human trafficker?”
Cai Yan quickly instructed her. “Ruoxi, for now just stay calm. Tell me the number plate of the van, the color, and all of its details. Then send me the route you have taken to get there.
“I’ll immediately send my people to stop that yellow-haired woman. She might be a core member of the organization. If I'm not mistaken, she’s responsible for the kidnapping and trafficking of children. As of now, we believe her to be responsible for several missing children!”