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With her head down, Xiao Yu calmly picked up a har gow with her chopsticks and tossed it over to Jia He, her eyes sparkling.
“Don’t judge based on how he clarified so quickly. According to my many years of experience in this entertainment circle, there is absolutely something between those two.” He fished out a box of matches, pinched a matchstick between his fingers, and took it out.
“Bastard!” Xiao Yu cursed in a low voice.
“Quiet.” Shooting her a glare, Jia He carried on eavesdropping with ears pricked.
Those two female performing arts students were obviously very interested as well. One of them even elatedly said that she had always liked Wu Zhilun and had already watched three or four times his film that was released during the Valentine’s Day period. The young man cupped the flame of the match behind his palm and took a deep drag of a cigarette before resuming what he had been saying. “You know about Yi Wenze’s new drama? The trailer was finished today. A buddy of mine who works on that drama shared it with me. That woman is in it, and from the looks of things, her part isn’t all that small. Now, you say, if there really were no connections, how could a newcomer who has never shown her face before manage to play a role opposite Yi Wenze?”
He purposely wanted to keep them in suspense.
One of the girls immediately jumped in and continued for him, “That’s true! Wu Zhilun and Yi Wenze have been friends for more than a decade. It must be that Wu Zhilun asked Yi Wenze to say a few words to the production team so that his girlfriend could get her shot at fame, right?”
A tremor shook Jia He’s hand and she ended up missing her target, pouring vinegar outside of the little sauce dish.
Too amazing…With such deductive abilities, this girl shouldn’t act. She was absolutely suited for being a screenwriter.
Quickly yanking out a napkin, Xiao Yu helped her clean up her mess while chortling quietly. “When you listen to it, it does sound quite real.”
“You’re listening to him spout nonsense.” Jia He did not even have words to respond. “Qiao Qiao and all of them ganged up together and forced me. My role has all of a few minutes and three lines… And what’s more, because I’m the screenwriter, they said I had to ‘invisibly support’ the production, so they didn’t even pay me for it.”
Xiao Yu snickered. “That does have Qiao Qiao’s style in it: ‘kick ’em while they’re down’ plus penny-pinching.”
Jia He shoved an entire har gow into her mouth. When she got back home, she definitely had to take a look at that trailer. How did her face manage to get in there? …
Over at the other table, those people were still blathering on noisily. She and Xiao Yu scarfed down their food. While Xiao Yu was paying, one of the young girls was still talking about this matter. “From reading the gossip on the forum posts, that woman is already twenty-six, twenty-seven years old. How is it that Wu Zhilun likes someone so old?”
Jia He gave an indignant sniff. Was that really old? Wu Zhilun was thirty-five already…
“Ah, just forget it. It’s all about a person’s lot in life.” The other girl sighed, saying, “I’m going for a screen test in a couple of days. Who knows if such good fate will fall on me and I can run into some big celebrity.”
Xiao Yu did not show much of a reaction. After taking her card and the receipt that the server handed back to her and stuffing them into her bag, she turned around and, flashing a smile that was only skin deep, addressed that girl, who was currently using her mobile phone as a mirror to examine her own face. “Oh, a screen test, eh? I suggest you first go get a jaw or chin reduction or something like that. Being old is actually nothing to worry about. You can just put on some makeup and that covers it up. But if your face is even just a little too big, in the camera lens, it becomes a pancake.”
Her voice was neither loud nor soft, just enough for everyone at the two tables to hear.
The people at the other table were evidently confounded by this interruption. By the time they were able to react and ready to open their mouths to start bellowing back retorts, though, they spotted Jia He. There was an obvious pause in their actions, and not a sound came from them.
With those tens of thousands of horses stampeding once more in her heart, Jia He grabbed Xiao Yu and strode out from there.
Not until they were in the car did she begin whacking Xiao Yu with her purse. The subject of her beating cackled while blocking her assailment. “I was wrong for getting even for you?”
“Drive.” Having vented enough, Jia He hugged her bag to herself and stared sullenly ahead, deciding that she would ignore her.
The car drove onto the Third Ring Road and soon reached Xiao Yu’s home. After a quick shower, Jia He stretched out on her belly on the bed and, clutching her mobile phone, began to stare with glazed eyes at it, pondering seriously over whether she should make a phone call to say that she was going to bed.
In the end, after vacillating for a long while, she went online instead and contacted Qiao Qiao, asking her for the trailer. On the other end, Qiao Qiao, seeing this request, instantly sought credit for her wonderful contribution, boasting that she had spent a long time specially keeping an eye on things from the side and had expended a lot of effort to get a scene with Jia He in it added into the trailer. Jia He did not know whether she should cry or laugh at this and could not be bothered to explain to Qiao Qiao the embarrassing predicament she had been in tonight. Once she received the trailer, she immediately went offline.
She watched that three-minute trailer from beginning to end four or five times.
And the darn thing about it was, she was devastated by the angst and actually ended up crying for a long time after.
Just as she was nonstop tugging tissues out of the box, a text message came in on her phone. Her heart gave a leap. Roughly able to guess whom it was from, she picked up her phone, her heart in a flurry. Sure enough, it was Yi Wenze. Asleep yet?
She straightaway tapped the button to call him back but then at once hung up again. Oh no. She had just cried. Her voice must sound awful…
Very soon, there was an incoming call. She gave a couple of coughs with all her might, trying to make her voice sound normal again before picking up. Assuming a relaxed tone, she spoke first. “How did you know I’m not asleep yet?”
On his end, he seemed to take a drink of water before leisurely answering, “I’m very familiar with your daily schedule already.”
The sounds of Xiao Yu’s shower echoed in from outside. Rather guiltily, as if she was nervous she would be found out doing something forbidden, Jia He stepped to the side of the window and gazed down at the road on which cars were still coming and going. Her finger unthinkingly drew random scribbles on the glass. “How come you’re not sleeping yet?”
He chuckled. “I was waiting for your call.”
She gave an “oh,” suddenly not knowing what to say.
Normally when she was on the phone, she would simply talk casually about whatever she saw or anything that came to mind. But when talking to him, what should she say? … While she wrestled with this question, Yi Wenze all of a sudden asked, “Did you cry just now?”
She could only be honest. “I just watched the trailer. Cried from all the agony and angst.”
His side was momentarily quiet. Then, with mirth in his voice, he said, “Next time, write something that’s a little happier.”
Hearing his laughter, her heart dropped and she tentatively probed, “You find it too sad, too?”
“It’s all right.”
“What did you feel when you watched the trailer?”
His tone nonchalant, he analyzed, “There are no domestic dramas of late that are sad and tragic. If the marketing and publicity are done well, the reception should be quite good.”
Jia He was silent. Why was his answer so… official-sounding? “What I mean is, weren’t you touched?”
He seemed to mull this over with seriousness. “Not bad. As long as the ending is good, that’s good enough.”
She was not certain why but she somehow felt as if she had taken a blow.
“I cried for a long time when I saw you and Liao Jing, you know, that.”
What she wanted to say was “that kiss scene between you and Liao Jing,” but when the words came to her lips, she felt awkward and also a teensy bit of discomfort in her heart, so she did not let them come out. Yi Wenze’s kiss scenes used to be what she most loved to watch… For any film of his that had a kiss scene, she was able to immediately find the exact time at which it occurred. Sure enough, now that her status had changed, she was starting to mind.
He suddenly told her, “Kiss scenes are simply necessary for the portrayal of the roles and story. You don’t really need to mind.”
Jia He’s face grew hot. He had actually caught the undertone of her words. She was a screenwriter. She had seen so much of this, but here she actually needed someone to straighten out her thinking. She must seem so petty.
Before she could come up with some words to respond, over on his end of the call, someone was already sniggering. “Hey, Harmonious Family Prospers, I’ll teach you a method. From now on, every time he does a kiss scene, you have him make up for it at home. If another person gets one kiss, you go and get yourself a hundred kisses. You’ll definitely become desensitized in the end.”
It was Wu Zhilun.
Jia He was instantly stupefied. Someone was actually listening in… At once not daring to say anything else on that subject, she hurriedly asked, “You still have someone with you there?”
“Mm.” He informed her in a mild tone, “I’m at the office having a meeting.”
He was in the middle of a meeting, too?!
“Then I’ll go to bed first.” After swiftly throwing out these words, she hung up the call.
Back and forth she wandered through the room. The more she thought about it, the more embarrassed she felt and hence sent another text over to him: I actually don’t mind…
Ding. A text message had been sent back: It’s all right. It’s normal to mind. Rest earlier.
If he was in a meeting, then there surely was more than one person with him.
But that meant, the instant people heard those words of Wu Zhilun’s, they would have known that Yi Wenze was on the phone with his girlfriend.
Girlfriend… Jia He gave a shake of her head. She still felt it was unreal.
In the days that followed, Jia He was swamped with work. Normally meetings would take place for half a day and the remaining half a day would be used to organize the information, but because she had arrived a few days late, this entire week was filled with full-day meetings followed by sorting and organizing all the information until three or four in the morning. Consequently, she could only phone Yi Wenze during brief breaks or merely send him a few text messages.
However, this steady, gradual progress in the interaction between them was a good thing. Jia He was finally beginning to slowly accept this reality: she and he truly were together.
Occasionally, when she was feeling rather bad, she would ask, “Do you mind that I’m so busy?”
He was not bothered. “It’s actually quite seldom that I am so free. When I truly do start working, my schedule will be very full. You need to be prepared for that.”
Jia He mused on this. No wonder it was so hard for actors to date someone. Dating required actually having dates and interaction in order for the relationship to be maintained, right?
Leaning against the wall of the hallway, she assured him quietly, “No worries. When the time comes, I’ll just accept more script projects and day and night, I’ll just write. That way, I won’t miss you too much.” It was only after the words had rolled from her lips that she felt a little bashful. “Once you really do get busy, just let me know. I won’t bother you.”
Someone walked by Jia He in the hallway and gave her a smiling nod and greeting. Jia He hurriedly returned the smile, a little nervous that her words a moment ago had been heard.
“When you go back, check your inbox.” Yi Wenze’s words voice for a moment, and then he said, “I have guests here. We’ll talk again tonight.”
When Jia He ended the call and went back into the conference room, laughter and jokes were flowing amongst the group.
Wordlessly, she poured herself a glass of water, walked over to her seat, and sat down. Just as she clicked open her inbox, an email showed up in it.
There was only a simple row of words: This is the latest.
She was a little bewildered. After she opened up the attachment, though, she instantly paused in surprise. It was as if something had caressed the softest depths of her heart. Touched—that was the only feeling she had right now.
He had sent over his work schedule, all of his plans and arrangements for the latter half of this year.
The noise in the background was still lively, but it was as if she was removed from all of it and not even a part of this world. She did not even notice that everyone had started to shift the subject over to the new drama serial and discuss the details of the next stage.
“Jia He.” Director Liu all of a sudden addressed her.
Dazedly, she lifted her head. It took a while for her mind to clear a little and recover some awareness. “What’s the matter, Director Liu?”
Director Liu smiled. “I saw the trailer of your last drama project. It’s definitely going to be a hit.”
Jia He smiled self-consciously. “I hope so.”
“That role of Yi Wenze’s is definitely going to bring him another huge wave of popularity.” Director Liu continued, “Yesterday, I was even thinking if I should hurry and find a script, send it over, and then ride on the momentum of Tune of Yong’an to make another period drama.”
Giving a dry laugh, Jia He prayed ceaselessly in her mind, Director Liu, please don’t say any more.
Fortunately, he only laughed and nodded, bringing an end to this topic.
After a week of intense, tightly-packed meetings, she finally had time to go home that evening. With great difficulty, amidst her mom’s accusations that she was heartless, she managed to unpack her bag, and then once she had successfully convinced her mom to carry on playing Happy Lord, she slipped into her own room.
Taped up behind her computer was a poster of Yi Wenze, one she had bought from the Beijing Books Building back when he had just risen into popularity. At the time, she had only been fifteen, sixteen years old. Never had she expected that more than a decade later, their lives would intersect in such a way. Without even really being aware of it, two weeks had glided by already and the two of them had communicated by phone like this. Sometimes when she thought about it, she found this really did seem similar to having a cyber romance…
Her phone in her hand, an idea suddenly came to her. “Does your computer… have a webcam?”
There was a brief silence on his end before he replied, “Wait a minute. I’ll have A-Qing set it up.”
While she was answering, “Mm-hmm,” A-Qing had already taken the phone. “Screenwriter, do you use MSN?”
Jia He stated her MSN ID. Before long, someone had added her as an MSN contact. He had actually… outright used “Yi Wenze” as his ID. The two women fiddled for some time until they at last got a picture. From his side, the picture showed his study, and on the screen A-Qing’s head was wagging to and fro, scrutinizing something for an extensive time before finally remarking into the computer, “Screenwriter, your room is so cute and girly…”
Jia He laughed. “I haven’t been back for a long time. It’s still decorated the way it was when I was in high school.”
A-Qing very wisely moved out of the way and the view in the video opened up. Then, that familiar face appeared before her. Jia He suddenly felt a little bashful. Why hadn’t she change into a different outfit first? …
Right as she was about to speak, however, her door was thrown open without any warning.
Her mom, carrying a platter of fruit in her hands, was nagging on about eating more strawberries to combat aging, while also sweeping her eyes over the computer screen. At once, she commented, “Yi Wenze again? How come you still haven’t changed idols yet?” Jia He was stunned, motionless. Before she had a chance to shut down the window, her mom was already leaning in close and studying it. “Is this a video? It’s not a concert? It looks quite like normal, daily life.”
Jia He wanted to cry. In a moment of anxiousness, she blurted, “It’s a video that was taken in secret…”
 The Beijing Books Building in the Xidan commercial area of Beijing is one of the largest bookstores in Beijing, its selection spread over five floors.
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