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She forced a dry laugh. “Yes. What a coincidence.”
Then, in a few words, she explained that day’s incident to him. When she was finished, downstairs, Wu Zhilun still had not spoken, as if he was considering something. After what felt like an endless wait, he gave a specious reply. “If we do have the opportunity to work together, you will see her again.”
With that, he exchanged a few words in a low tone with the person beside him and then, moving on to the next candidate, continued with the screen tests.
“Will Wu Zhilun take her?”
That young girl was quite good. This film of theirs was considered a relatively large production and, coupled with the fame of the two bosses, promoting it would not be a difficult task. If someone wanted to catch some eyes, this was a good opportunity.
He shook his head. “Based on his personality, he likely won’t.”
Jia He was surprised. “Just because she mentioned the thing about the rumoured girlfriend?”
Yi Wenze smiled. “Yes, but not for the reason that you’re thinking. With so many people auditioning today, saying those words allows people to very easily remember her. That is a very clever topic to choose. I have quite a few friends who are more easygoing and like this type of actor or actress who can jump out and draw attention onto himself or herself. But unfortunately, A-Lun is not that type of person.”
“Oh, right.” Jia He agreed, “He went through a lot of hardships to reach this point. He should prefer people who are grounded and take the steady route.”
Yi Wenze did not express anything in reply.
Suddenly recalling the remarks a bunch of Joe Blows had made in jest at a dinner the other day, Jia He turned on him a grinning look with much implied meaning. “You say, Wu Zhilun is both a celebrity and the boss of a production company. Does he have beautiful women knocking on his door in the middle of every night?” As soon as the words came out, she regretted them. Why was it that in her ears they sounded like she was just using Wu Zhilun to allude to him? …
Yi Wenze was smiling, a very veiled type of smile, but because they were so close, it was infinitely enlarged before her.
“I can’t really say for sure with him,” he answered in a very solemn manner, his voice purposely lowered, “but I have a good habit: I lock my door before I go to bed.”
She forced a laugh. “… Indeed, a good habit.”
Downstairs, things were still continuing. The two of them watched for a while and then went back into his office. Jia He could see that he was very busy, and she could not simply sit here idly the whole time either, so tentatively she asked him, “Do you have any extra computers here?”
She had nothing to do anyway; she might as well write up the character descriptions that had been discussed in the previous two days’ meetings.
When Yi Wenze looked at her, she immediately pulled out her flash drive. “My work habit. I carry the things around with me, and when I find the time, I‘ll write.”
He made a phone call, and soon A-Qing delivered a laptop computer over.
Right as she plugged in her flash drive, Wu Zhilun strode into the room, and there were even several people following him. From the looks of things, they were likely going to be talking business. Jia He was vacillating over whether or not she should step outside, lest she end up not participating and just becoming a live piece of backdrop, when Yi Wenze suddenly pointed at another room. “It’s a little noisy here. You can go inside to write.”
Jia He said an “mm-hmm” and picked up the laptop. As she walked past Wu Zhilun, the latter gave an obvious lift of his brow, and there was much to be construed in his smile. She returned a bewildered gaze at him, but as there were many people and many pairs of observing eyes, she felt too awkward to ask him what in the world was up with him. But the next moment, when she pushed open the door to that room, embarrassment struck her.
This room… was a bedroom.
The people behind her had slipped into working mode already, and it was not fitting for her to say anything either; hence, she could only brazen it out and step inside. Her eyes went from that large bed, to the sofa, then back to the bed, then… With deliberate decorum, she took a seat on the sofa, bowed her head, and looked at the computer. However, once she powered it on and went to switch the keyboard input method, she uncovered an even more awkward problem: this computer only had one Chinese-character input method—Jyutping input for Cantonese.
In other words, there was nothing for her to do.
In the end, she could only walk over to the window and stare out vacantly.
Through the one door, she could indistinctly hear those voices outside. The discussion seemed to be in full swing. While amusedly trying to recognize which was Yi Wenze’s voice, she also carefully recollected their itinerary and what they had done today, until she ultimately realized that she had not done a single thing of value.
Yi Wenze appeared not to have any plans. But this was their first official date. Should it be a little more special? Go watch a movie? But that was equivalent to throwing themselves into the gunfire of the media. Go out to eat? It seemed, their lunch today had actually been pretty good.
Ah, forget it. If they were going to watch a movie, they might as well just watch DVDs; if they were going to go out to eat, they might as well just order takeout.
She was in the middle of talking herself around when, behind her, there was the sound of the opening door.
She turned her head. Yi Wenze, holding a cup of coffee, was closing the door behind him.
“What are you looking at?”
Quickly spinning around, she leaned her back against the windowsill. “Not looking at anything. Why’d you come in?”
He smiled. “We’re done talking.”
Saying this, he placed the coffee onto the coffee table and walked over to Jia He.
As she watched him drawing closer and closer, Jia He all of a sudden became a little flustered. This was an honest-to-goodness bedroom. To her left was that huge bed and to her right was a loveseat sofa. This honestly was not her overthinking things… This space just put too much pressure on a person.
Eventually, he stopped in a spot three steps away from her and pulled out a few DVDs from a metal rack.
“I need to go to Yi Hua. Would you like A-Qing to go out and stroll around with you?”
Jia He secretly gave a sigh of relief. “No, it’s okay. I’ll wait for you here.”
With a mild “mm,” he took out a disc from its case. “If you’re hungry, there are sandwiches in the fridge.”
She answered, “Mm-hmm.”
“If you don’t like the ones I picked, go ahead and choose some yourself to pass the time.” As he spoke, he played the DVD for her. Seeing that she was only nodding her head, he finally instructed, “If you’re tired, have a sleep on the bed for a bit.”
Jia He nodded self-consciously.
He was already gone before Jia He remembered that she had not asked him a very important question: when would he be coming back? But if she were to run out after him now to ask, without a doubt, Wu Zhilun would laugh at her. Waffling indecisively for a long while, she eventually decided that she would just let it be and wait blindly for him. After all, it wouldn’t be tomorrow that he came back, right? While she was comforting herself, it was as if an invisible hand was drawing her back over to the window, and secretly she peered out at that car down below.
This particular angle happened to have a view of the main entrance. Only a moment later, Yi Wenze walked out. Waiting until he reached the car before pulling out a cigarette, he quietly smoked there, seemingly waiting for someone. And so, beside the window, Jia He watched him, watched as those young girls waiting and standing watch outside pointed with glee and carried out whispered discussions amongst themselves. He, though, appeared not to notice any of this and merely stood alone, in silence.
No matter how she looked at it, Jia He felt that the sunshine today was so beautiful and radiant…
Wu Zhilun did not come out until two or three minutes later. The two exchanged a few words, but just as they were about to get into the vehicle, Yi Wenze suddenly lifted his head and cast a very natural glance at the third floor. Oh no. She had been caught in her peeking. Jia He immediately gave a sheepish wave. And then she hightailed from there.
It was a long while before she poked her head back over and snuck another glimpse. Confirming that the car had driven away, she at last loosened with relief.
Opening the bedroom door, with the DVD playing in the background, she ran out to tidy things up, washing all the drinking glasses that everyone had used. The chilly stream of water rinsed over those translucent glasses. From inside the bedroom came strains of a very melodious movie soundtrack. Everything felt so ridiculously harmonious.
After things were thoroughly cleaned and tidied away, she looked around, very satisfied, and then returned to the bedroom and watched the movie, a throw pillow in her arms.
The scenes flashed past on the screen, frame by frame. Despite fixing her eyes on it for a full ten minutes, she did not actually know what she was watching. With a restless heart, she merely stared at the various furnishings inside this room… This was her first time staying in Yi Wenze’s bedroom. A light, distinctive scent of a man pervaded every part of this room. Burying her face into the throw pillow, she took a deep inhale. Then, squinting her eyes, she very contentedly released a long breath.
Mm-hmm. There were no traces at all of any woman’s scent.
Both inside and outside the room were very quiet, with only the sounds of the several male leads in the movie fighting over this and contesting for that. Jia He watched with absorbed attention until the end but then discovered that her head was beginning to buzz and relentlessly cry to her, “I’m so sleepy I could die, so sleepy I could die!” After her whole body had slid down onto the sofa cushions for the third time, she, though conflicted, finally went over and shut the door. Gingerly carrying over the pillow and comforter from the bed, she flopped onto the sofa and dropped into sleep.
In that long, deep slumber, the faint scent of cigarettes filled her dreams.
She did not know how much time had passed by the time she blearily roused, her throat feeling rather dry.
Lifting a hand, she wanted to pull open the comforter to go pour herself some water to drink, but when she shifted slightly, she perceived that she was clasped in an embrace. Her entire body instantly stiffened and she dared not make any other movement. Even, steady breaths grazed warmly against her face. The reason she had woken in the first place was that she had felt hot, and now, in such a situation, her body seemed to burn up even more. In no time, she was covered in a layer of perspiration.
She allowed a lengthy while to pass before finally furtively cracking open her eyes and gazing upon his face, which was so very near.
He seemed to be deep in sleep, lying still fully clothed outside of the covers. With the pure-white comforter between them, he encircled her in his arms. At such a distance, she could clearly see his chin, the tip of his nose, and, if she lifted her gaze a little higher, his closed eyes. In such a quiet, still place, he was simply sleeping by her side… Luckily only she had woken. His eyelashes had not so much as quivered this entire time; he appeared truly exhausted.
Their surroundings were actually very dark, though she was not certain whether it was because it was late in the day or he had drawn the curtains shut.
Since Jia He did not dare to move, she naturally was unable to get an answer to this question.
She only riveted her eyes unblinkingly on Yi Wenze while a flame continuously leaped in her heart.
Just look, they had been together for two weeks and three days already, but she still had not initiated a kiss. As she stared at the gorgeous shape of his lips, she tried to cheer herself on. Back in high school, because she had idolized him too much, she had used him as a blueprint for selecting a boyfriend and hence had decisively chosen to miss any opportunities for having a pure, innocent underage romance. During university, she had finally lowered her standards, but because her room was filled with posters of him, she had even gotten into a huge quarrel with Gu Yu. Now… she should at least collect back on all of that, principle and interest included!
Over and over, she brainwashed herself, You’re his real-deal girlfriend! What’s there to be scared about?!
Finally, she started to move. As she was curled up against his chest, she could only slowly slide herself upwards a little bit. Seeing that Yi Wenze showed no reaction, she, with great satisfaction, slithered up a little more. The contours of that face were just too gorgeous, indistinct in this dim room, such that they seemed as if from a picture in an old black and white film. It was this feeling. Back when he first shot to fame, on the television, he had looked clean and untarnished like this, his smile so very polite-looking. He clearly had been purposely curbing himself and maintaining a reserved and taciturn manner, but he had still caused her to instantly fall—hard—for him.
Jia He stared at him for a while, rapt. At last, steeling her heart, she ever so swiftly touched her lips to the corner of his mouth.
And then, holding her breath, she contentedly slid herself back to her original position.
The hand at her waist seemed to tighten its hold slightly. She, though, was still immersed in her exhilaration and did not really pay attention as she shifted herself a couple of times.
“Don’t move.” A light voice was heard from above her head, very supple and still heavy with sleep.
A boom! went off in her mind. Jia He was stunned silly.
After a long time, she finally put on a pretense of just awakening, groggily looking at him. “You’re awake?”
“I’ve been awake for a while.” He gazed at her in amusement. “Would you still like to continue?”
Jia He’s mind lost all awareness of everything…
Computers have various input methods to type Chinese characters (e.g. by stroke order, by standardized pinyin, etc.). The most common method, especially in Mainland China, is to input based on standardized Mandarin-based pinyin. However, as Yi Wenze speaks Cantonese and is from Hong Kong, he uses a Cantonese-based keyboard instead, the LSHK Jyutping keyboard. LSHK Jyutping is a method of romanisation of Cantonese and is recommended by the Linguistic Society of Hong Kong. Alas, Jia He does not speak Cantonese and hence does not know how to use it to type Chinese characters.
早恋“zao lian.” In China, dating under the age of 18, especially when still in school, is generally highly frowned upon and usually prohibited within the school.
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