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(Mystery man's request)

"Yes," Autumn mumbled with a slight nod. "Yes, I gave Nancy the money. She initially refused it, but eventually accepted at my insistence. I suppose she is really in trouble."  

  Charles frowned, feeling annoyed and anxious at the same time. "Why didn't you tell me when you first learned about it?" he demanded. His mind was racing. 

If Nancy did something to hurt Autumn for money, he wasn't letting her off lightly.   

  Autumn tried to defend herself. "But it wasn't a lot of money, so I didn't feel the need to tell you." She was becoming upset, too. "Besides, if Nancy didn't tell you what was happening to her, it must be because she felt it was none of your business."    

"You don't…" Charles paused after looking at his wife, then sighed with resignation. "You don't know that, Autumn. If only you had told me this, your condition might not have gotten so serious," he pointed out, trying to be careful not to make his wife more worried.   

"What are you saying, Charles?" Autumn asked, puzzled. "I'm saying this now hoping you'll pay more attention to Nancy and see for yourself if she needs any help," she added.    

 Charles exhaled. "I know…" Then rubbing Autumn's shoulder, he told his wife, "Go on to bed. I still have some work to finish."   

 She nodded, somewhat relieved, and said, "I see. Good night, Charles." Autumn fell asleep after browsing through a parenting book.    

 Charles lost track of time while immersed in work. It was the middle of the night when he decided to get a glass of water downstairs. Unexpectedly, as soon as he came downstairs, he saw Nancy slip out of the house quietly. He debated with himself for a moment, but decided not to follow her.   

It was February and the night wind was near freezing that it cut through the marrow. Nancy clutched her coat tighter to ward off the cold as she walked to the gate. There she saw a black car and got in. She was blindfolded and driven to a warehouse where Leila had previously been taken.     

It was warm inside the warehouse, yet Nancy could still feel the chill seeping through her bones.     

Once the blindfold was removed and she had adjusted her vision, Nancy saw a mystery man sitting in front of her. Reacting in panic, she tried to push him away, but another man in a suit, standing beside her, stopped Nancy.    

 "Where's my son?" she shrieked. "Where did you lock him up?" She held back from hitting the man, but continued to shout, "I want to see him now! You said I could see him."  

The man snorted then ordered, "Bring him here!" Nancy stumbled back as two burly men brought in someone beaten almost beyond recognition. They threw him in front of the mystery man like he was a rag bag.    

 Nancy rushed forward. "Brent! Brent, can you hear me? Brent!" she kept calling out, while shaking him. Although he was black and blue, and most of his face swollen, Nancy recognized her son and cried while cursing his captor. "You awful man! I gave you the money as you asked. Why did you still do this to my son? Does retribution not frighten you?" she hissed.     
The mystery man merely scoffed at Nancy. "Retribution? Humph! If justice or retribution exists in this world, Autumn Zhao should have long been dead," he spat.    

 As furious as she was over her son's condition, Nancy stared at the man and wondered why he hated Autumn so much.   

She had only known Autumn for a short time, but she could sense she was kind and had a good heart. 'How could Autumn be involved with a man like this?' she thought.   

  "See this scar on my face?" The man pointed to his face. "This is Autumn's doing! She killed my girlfriend and disfigured me. So I will make sure she pays double!" he growled. He was breathing heavily in anger, and this added to Nancy's fear.     

"I don't know what your problem is with Mrs. Lu, nor do I want to know," she declared, her voice steady. "I've given you the money you wanted and did what you asked me to do, against my conscience. 

You should now keep your word and let my son go," she said. "And from now on, I refuse to do anything that will harm others. You can't expect me to do that again."   

 "Is that so?" the man said with a sneer. He flicked his hand, and as quickly, one of his henchmen kicked Brent in the stomach. The pain brought Brent to consciousness.   

"NO! What are you doing," Nancy screamed as she tried to hug her son. "Stop! Stop it!" she cried out. In tears now, she begged, "All right. Please stop hurting him. Let him go, please."    

"So you want to save him from me?" the man jeered. He grabbed Brent by the hair to give Nancy a better look at her son's bruises and pained expression.     

She bowed her head with resignation, tears streaming down her face and begged again, "Please, please let him go. He can't bear it anymore. If you keep torturing him, he will die."    

Nancy knelt in front of the man and kowtowed. She was left with no choice now. "I beg you. If you let him go, I will do anything you ask."  

  "I'll take your word for it," the man said sharply before releasing Brent's hair. He stood up and looked down at Nancy. "I need you to do one more thing for me."  

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