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Those fingers, so small, were clutching his palm.
That look of solemnness did not seem at all as if she was making a suggestive proposal to engage in certain pleasures together; it was wholly an expression of wanting to provide recompense after causing a mishap.
Jia He did not clue in to what exactly she had just said, until she saw his gaze shift downwards. Abruptly, she yanked her arm back. The comforter still wrapped around her, she began with all her might to regret her words. That, that, that… was just too impulsive! What in the world was that? Yesterday, it was only because there had been the three great elements of romance—alcohol, moonlight, and the late hours—that she had had the courage. But now—she fastened her gaze on Yi Wenze’s shadow—this was in broad daylight, you know, under the brazen sun, aaaah…
Yi Wenze unexpectedly set down his shirt. Immediately, a jolt shot through her.
Oh no, oh no.
Gritting her teeth, she forced herself to hang in there. Her mind was filled only with thoughts of whether he might have gotten an erroneous impression of her, that he might mistakenly think she was the type who casually indulged in carnal pleasures and did not take any of that to heart. The room was too bright and they were also facing one another in such a state, so even more so she could feel every ounce of blood in her body surging upwards with all its might. She wanted only to explain that she actually truly… did not have any experience yet. The words had not even left her lips, however, before he, catching her by surprise, encircled her in his arms. She nearly jumped off the bed, but wrapped up like in a cocoon, there was absolutely no possible way she could make any movement.
Ah, forget it. She was doomed either way; she might as well just go for it.
She steeled her heart. “Could you take things a little slower in just a bit? I actually… might not be like how you think I am.”
Here, at such a close distance, with the sun shining on them like this, why did it feel like they were doing the verbal run-through before shooting an adult movie?
He smoothed her hair with his hand. “What do you think I think?”
Jia He wanted to cry. She was already being so blunt—he still needed to ask?
“I mean, maybe, perhaps…” Just what’s up with you? It’s just, “I’ve only had one boyfriend.” Is it that hard to explain?! Who said that if you’ve had a boyfriend, you must have done the deed? She shrank down into the comforter a little bit. “Actually, um, well, yesterday I had a bit too much to drink. Otherwise, I wouldn’t… take the initiative like that.”
This should have been something said in a happy tone while feeling sweet inside about it. Why, then, did she actually feel as if she had committed a heinous crime?
“I know,” Yi Wenze said by her ear.
With those words, one person’s face blazed brighter and brighter red while the other person’s smile deepened and deepened some more.
Do you really know? There’s a subtext to what I said…
She wanted to keep explaining, but he had already set her down so that she lay on the bed. At once, she clutched the comforter, convincing herself with all her might, You’re not anxious, you’re not anxious. Even when Yi Wenze had taken her into his arms and lowered his lips onto hers, she, as if in a trance, was still reciting, You’re not anxious, you’re not anxious… In reality, she did not know that because she was squeezing her eyes shut from anxiety, her entire face had puckered together into a little bundle and she looked like a fish on a chopping block waiting for its fate.
The air conditioning had not been turned on. Her body temperature was climbing rapidly. Gradually, their breaths commingled. It was not certain who caused whose breathing to become ragged and uneven. A thin layer of sweat glazed her whole body, clammy and sticky. At some point in time, she had grabbed onto his wrist, and beneath the touch of her fingertips, his faint pulse became so very clear to her.
“I need to go out at twelve.” He finally pushed himself up onto his elbows and away from her body, saying with a smile, “An hour is too tight.”
It was an unsuitable time and an unsuitable occasion. He did not want it to be so rushed. Neither did it need to be so rushed.
At last, Jia He seemed to startle out of her slumber-like state. She ran his words back and forth through her mind. Then—whoosh!—her face turned into a red-hot tomato.
She did not make a peep, nor did she open her eyes.
She felt the bed sink in slightly before finally cluing in that the weight covering her body had lifted, and her mind felt as if awakening from a dream. When she at last dared to open her eyes for a look, he had already stepped into the bathroom.
Glad, or disappointed? Seriously, so conflicted…
There was merely a door separating them. When the sounds of water echoed out, she instantly crawled out from the comforter and pulled on her clothes at lightning speed. After sitting tall and solemnly for one minute, she felt that something was not right. Hurriedly, she made up the bed so that it looked proper, then also tidied his clothes. After everything had been dealt with so that there were no hints of any sort of hanky-panky, her heart was finally set at ease.
And then she carried on sitting tall and solemnly.
He suddenly called to her.
Fawningly jogging over, she asked, “Yes?”
“Help me grab a clean button-up shirt and pants.” He made this very ordinary request.
“Button-up shirt and pants…” she repeated. The question of “Do you need me to grab some underwear?” very logically popped up into her mind, but fortunately she was able to catch it before it spilled out and she only gave him the garments he had requested.
It was not until that evening during dinnertime that he mentioned that he needed to be at filming site the following day to begin shooting his newest movie, and therefore he would be leaving Beijing tonight. Jia He stared stupidly at him, not quite able to process this.
Her eyes blinked and blinked. The words caught in her throat for a long time before she finally asked, “Why didn’t you tell me earlier?”
Once he was on filming site, it would be a long time before they would get to see each other, but she had not even known about this.
“The work schedule that I sent you, you didn’t really look through it?”
An “Ah?” slipped from Jia He. Immediately she realized her negligence: she had only felt sweetness inside her heart for a moment when he first sent it over but indeed had not carefully looked through and checked the actual dates and timing. With her head bowed, she cut up some vegetables, the beat of the thunk, thunk sounds practically catching up to the rhythm of her heartbeat.
“I’m sorry.” The vegetables were almost done cooking when she of her own accord admitted her mistake. “I didn’t look it over closely.” Then picking up a jar of seasoning, she scooped out a spoonful and was about to dump it into the skillet.
“You grabbed the wrong one. That’s sugar,” Yi Wenze thoughtfully pointed out. He watched as she scrambled to look for the salt, finding her amusing.
In fact, he purposely had not mentioned his departure, lest she would have been thinking about it from last night onwards.
“How long will it be this time?” Finally finding the jar of salt, Jia He scooped out a large spoonful and was about to sprinkle it in. Once more, though, he covered her hand with his.
He poured more than half of the spoon’s salt back into the jar before scattering the rest into the skillet for her. “About two months.”
Two months. Oh.
Jia He gave a somewhat absent-minded “okay,” stirred the vegetables a couple of times, turned off the stove, and then removed the food from the skillet.
She carefully recalled that work schedule. Indeed, he was going to be very busy. He had always been very conscientious, taking his work seriously, which meant she definitely would not be able to frequently visit him on the set and bring about criticism from other people. Her mind was hard at work figuring out the dates. By the time two months had passed, it should be autumn.
People had always complimented her on her slender legs, which made her look especially nice when she wore skirts, and these last few months, whenever she went shopping, she would always automatically buy a lot of dresses and skirts, long ones, short ones, various styles and colours. Xiao Yu had been so shocked at this she had even teased that Jia He was going to open an online shop on Taobao. In truth, Jia He had merely been planning that, for the entire upcoming summer, she would have dresses to wear when she was with him and she could wear them for him to see.
Two dishes and a soup. Her cooking was actually very good, but the last dish had obviously been stir-fried for too long and tasted a little overcooked.
This was the meal before he was to leave and it had turned out like this. She was somewhat dejected. This afternoon when he was not around, she had specially gone out and bought three day’s worth of groceries. From the looks of things, it was all going to go to waste. They finished dinner before she asked him whether he wanted her to see him off. In the sitting area, where he was grabbing his luggage, Yi Wenze answered, “Sure. Since you don’t have a car in Beijing, you can drive mine.” As Jia He watched him carrying over his luggage, only now did she perceive that the suitcase should have already been set there last night and not even been opened. She, though, had not even noticed it this entire time.
After seeing him off and then returning home, she at last carefully studied that work schedule. To her surprise, she discovered that he had even thoughtfully made an annotation in red letters beside these next two months, informing her that he had “relatively more night scenes.” Usually, at least one-third of a film consists of night scenes. Since he had specially notated this, then there likely would be even more than that.
However, as she spent half the day repeatedly mulling over these four words, she inexplicably came up with lots of thoughts. For instance, he had just recovered from his injury; with such a filming schedule, would he physically be able to hold up? Or for instance, would this mean that it would be more problematic if she wanted to go to the filming site to visit him? …
Tune of Yong’an began broadcasting on satellite television, and the response it was receiving seemed quite good.
It happened that that drama being adapted from a novel was very pressed for time, so she completely fell into crazy, round-the-clock workaholic mode. One day, Xiao Yu truly reached her wits’ end and was totally fed up. Carrying in the clothes that had been hanging out on the balcony, she asked Jia He, “I’ll say, have you sold off all those skirt and dresses that you bought? How come this whole month you’ve just been going back and forth wearing the same two outfits? Even I’ve gotten aesthetic fatigue.”
Since prying open her eyes today, Jia He had been typing away, and only when she heard these words did she spare a glance at Xiao Yu. “See how a good line from a drama or movie can have a huge influence? The words ‘aesthetic fatigue’ are soon going to be added into the Cihai Dictionary.”
Then she turned her head back and continued typing.
Xiao Yu felt that trying to talk to Jia He was like a chicken trying to talk to a duck. She could do nothing but dump the clean clothes onto the couch. “That drama of yours is doing pretty good. At work every day, I hear people discussing the plot, to the extent that I’m going to be schizophrenic soon. I honestly want to stick a note on my head that says,”—she ripped open a bag of potato chips—“ ‘I don’t watch corny, melodramatic TV dramas. Don’t talk to me about some Yi Wenze guy.’ ”
The two large words “Yi Wenze” seemed to flash in front of Jia He’s eyes.
With this brief break in her thought process, she completely forgot what she had been writing.
“I haven’t seen you talk on the phone more than a handful of times. Don’t tell me that because of all these restrictions from your professions, you’ve forgotten how to date and be in a relationship?” Xiao Yu took out a whole watermelon from the refrigerator, cut it in half, and plopped one of the halves by Jia He’s hand.
Gloomily, Jia He picked up a spoon, traced a circle with it into the watermelon, and then neatly scooped out that entire circular piece. “Most of what he’s filming are night scenes. He sleeps during the day and then has to film at night.”
With an “oh,” Xiao Yu pointed out, “Then just phone in the afternoon.”
“But I can’t figure out for sure which day he’s filming during daytime.” Jia He took a bite of watermelon, its iciness permeating through her mouth, but instantly the chill sent pain shooting through her teeth. Oh no, she needed to see the dentist again. “There was one time I called him in the afternoon, but he was on the set. Let’s not even mention how embarrassing that was.”
Giving her a pat on the shoulder, Xiao Yu commented with grave sincerity, “It’s not easy being the wife of a celeb, so not easy.”
Actually, she had been counting the days and was now deliberating that it was time to go visit him on the set. However, to be on location with the cast and crew for work reasons and to visit the set were two completely different things. Once she thought about the fact that, if she showed up on the film set, there were no guarantees on whether she might run into people with whom she was acquainted, or she might see him shooting all sorts of dangerous stunts or scenes of passion, she started to get cold feet. In the end, though, after destroying half a watermelon, she still sent him a text: Are you still in Sichuan?
Sending it off, she waited rather nervously, but even after a long, long time, she received no reply.
Disappointment flashed through her before she helped herself find a reasonable explanation: He’s filming, he’s filming. He must be filming.
Thanks to that half a watermelon, she “successfully” ended up sending herself to the Peking Union Medical College Hospital.
Actually, the dental department here was just average, but this was the closest one to her. After registering for an appointment, she sat down in the waiting room. The hospital was bustling and very noisy. She felt restless, unable to settle her heart, which made her tooth ache even more. All this time she had been holding her mobile phone, worried that when he had time to return her message, she would not see it and end up missing his break time.
Even when the dentist was examining her, the phone was still in her hand. The dentist looked at her, annoyed, but also finding her comical. “Lass, are you waiting for a telephone interview?”
Hastily answering no, Jia He finally put her mobile phone into her bag and lay down on the examination bed. After a series of checks, it was determined that the tooth that had steadfastly held its ground for three years at last needed to be completely extracted. When the dentist said that he was fully booked for today and asked whether she wanted to schedule something for tomorrow, a text message alert happened to ring out.
She hurriedly told the dentist, “Sorry, this is really urgent,” and then pulled out her phone from her bag.
Three very simple words: Yes, still here.
Jia He vacillated briefly. I want to go see you.
She waited for a long time, but there still was no reply. The dentist, taking a look out the door, reminded her that there were still other patients and instructed her to make an appointment with the nurse to extract the tooth tomorrow. Not having received a reply from Yi Wenze, Jia He dared not make any promises and hence could only ask whether it would be all right if she waited a few days. This dentist likely had never seen this type of patient who kept changing what she wanted, and he was not really able to keep a smile anymore. His face stony, he told her to go to the nurse to book an appointment, in passing also warning her that if she did not extract the tooth, these next several days most certainly would be painful.
Of course they would be painful. Right now it was already so painful she could die.
As it was the afternoon, the number of people in the clinic had dwindled until, apart from herself and a few elderly ladies, there were no others. Seeing that the dentist would be getting off work soon, the nurse walked over and inquired about the situation for each of them. Jia He considered for a moment but in the end did not book an appointment.
It was the time when people were getting off work, and the roads were absurdly congested. With great difficulty, she shifted her way a little at a time into a gas station. Just as she was poking her head out to speak to an attendant, her mobile phone began ringing, but when, out of reflex, she was about to answer the call, the boy attendant quickly said, “Mobile phones can’t be used here.”
With this reminder, she finally remembered this safety point. Hesitantly, she rejected the call.
A short while later, a text message came in: I’ll be in Chengdu tomorrow. Press conference.
Tomorrow, hmm… Hissing noises came from Jia He as she sucked air through her teeth. Honestly, this was hurting to death. She sent her reply: Okay. I’ll go to Chengdu tomorrow.
 辞海 Cihai, which literally means “sea of words,” is an authoritative Chinese dictionary and encyclopedia.
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