Ning Xi had previously taken up part-time modelling gigs for magazines when she was overseas. Hence, she had good rapport with the photographer; by the end of the shoot, the photographer was full of praise for Ning Xi, and even went to trade name cards with her.

After the shoot, Ning Xi attended a recording for a web-casted talk show.

The talk show was filmed two days prior to broadcast, and the host was a retired professor from a renowned university. He was popular among youths because of his eloquence. Not only would his show include fun facts about science, even boring historical events could be articulated in a fun and exciting manner.

There were two reasons why Ning Xi had to participate in this talk show. First was out of respect for the host. Secondly, the talk show was hosted on one of the three largest platforms, Baihui Entertainment. Internet broadcasting licences for two of Ning Xi’s shows, Beautiful Red Clouds and Yunyue of the Han Dynasty, had been purchased by this company.

At the headquarters of Baihui Entertainment, Ning Xi had just completed her make-up when a jolly-looking young man entered, He immediately addressed her as “Goddess Xixi”, then invited Ning Xi to record her well-wishes to the audience for the Mid Autumn Festival, which would be broadcast on another Baihui's variety show.

The Chinese favoured reunions. As a result, the Mid Autumn Festival, which represented family reunions, was an important event.

Ning Xi had also previously heard of this show. They were known to uncover secrets of celebrities. There was only gossip that they hadn’t uncovered, but never anything that they were afraid of revealing. This made the show immensely popular; its viewership ranged from millions at its peak, to two to three hundred thousand views at its lowest.

The young man before her, who was also the show’s host, appeared cheerful and amicable. In reality, he was so good at uncovering celebrity secrets that the most popular celebrities had to pay him due respect.

Ning Xi smiled and chatted with the host, then recorded a short clip with her well wishes. Shortly after, she was informed by the crew that “Professor Zhang’s Stories” was about to begin recording.

“Xixi must be busy; I won’t impose any further.” The jolly host opened the door of the changing room and saw Ning Xi out. After she had walked away, he turned to the cameraman behind him and said, “The industry had another celebrity with high EQ”.

The cameraman simply smiled, but did not say anything else.

The host also did not continue the conversation further. After all, everyone had their own means of surviving in the industry. If they were unlucky or had bad people skills, they would be eliminated.

======

“Alright, we’re done with our history lesson for today”. Lecturer Zhang tapped the table with his wooden block [1], his expression mysterious as he said, “Now, let us welcome our secret guest!"

He acted out a silent applause, so that the post-production team could include a comical applause sound into this segment.

“Hello, Professor Zhang.” Ning Xi had deliberately changed into a sleek outfit. After politely greeting Professor Zhang, she sat down beside him.

The studio design was inspired by an ancient Chinese teahouse. Porcelain bowls replaced regular drinking cups for both Ning Xi and the host.

“Welcome, Ning Xi.” Professor Zhang shook Ning Xi’s hands, then did his regular opening for guests before moving onto the main topic.

“I heard that you were an outstanding student previously?” Professor Zhang took a slip of paper from his desk. “You even competed with Zhou Zhengchuan, who lost and was made to cross-dress?”

“I was just lucky. I had done similar questions before.” Ning Xi looked at the A4-sized paper that she received from Professor Zhang. It contained an extremely difficult mathematical question. She laughed heartily, “Professor Zhang, is it your aim today to test me?”

“I can’t help it. As an educator, I get the urge to test good students when I come across them.” Professor Zhang waved at the crew. “Come, let’s zoom into this”.

The cameramen obligingly ran over, and their cameras zoomed in on Ning Xi.

“Ah?” Ning Xi smiled awkwardly at the camera. “I’d never thought that I’d still be unable to escape from being tested, even after graduating for some many years!” As she was speaking, her hands were reaching out to uncap a pen, and she looked at the questions and started calculating.

A few minutes later, Professor Zhang examined Ning Xi’s script, then lamented, “Our dear audiences, this is a striking example of how someone could survive with her talents, but chose to rely on her beauty instead. Take a look! The thought process for solving the question is so clear and her words are so pretty!”

He appeared to be in dismay, as if he was mourning the loss of a talent to the entertainment industry. A short while later, he said, “You have good acting skills, and directors will feel that it’s a waste if you enter other industries. However, it's also the loss of other industries that you’re not there with them.”

Ning Xi grinned. “I must keep a copy of this segment in my computer, so that I can boast to others in future that I have been praised by Professor Zhang!’

Professor Zhang was satisfied by Ning Xi’s flattery. The rest of the recording progressed smoothly, and the mood remained friendly as the conversation moved to other topics like Ning Xi’s fans and her life.

“Many fans are concerned about your love life. Previously there were rumours about Zhou Zhengchuan and you. Did that bother you too much?” No matter what show she was on, such questions would always be asked. Even if Professor Zhang’s talk show was more serious, the same issues would still be touched on, albeit in a more serious tone.

“Our media friends have truly misunderstood this situation. Senior Zhou and I have always clarified that we are only friends. I’m more familiar with Senior Zhou because we’re both under the same label, and I was cast in the same show that he acted in when I debuted. He also roped me into the filming of an ad. In actual fact, I’m also close to Senior Shi Pang, who’s also under the same agency as I am!” Ning Xi smiled, as she said, “Senior Shi Pang’s culinary skills are fantastic! The folks in our company all enjoy going to his house for a meal!”

Shi Pang’s popularity in recent times had dipped. Ning Xi deliberately brought him up to help him.

There was no harm in putting in a good word for him. After all, they were from the same agency, and they were not rivals in any way.

"The society is still quite superficial, hence they'd rather believe that you're a couple with Zhou Zhengchuan." Professor Zhang gave her an understanding look, and pointed to himself. "If I was ever seen getting closer to any female celebrity, the media will probably say that I was preying on her."

Ning Xi laughed  "Professor Zhang, you are too modest. Appearances are superficial; your talent and knowledge are what attract people to you. Otherwise, why would you have so many fans?"

"These words are right up my alley." Professor Zhang intentionally showed his pleased look. "I definitely appreciate eloquent young people like you!"

Ning Xi nodded in agreement. "The people around me also praised me for this!"

Looking at the shameless banter between the host and the guest, the director and post-production crew were relieved. After all, such interactions were well-received by audiences.

Modern youths would normally search for light-hearted programmes online to escape from the stresses that they faced in real life. If they wanted something serious, they did not have to rely on the Internet; they could easily find educational shows from national television.

From the perspective of the show producers, the best guests were the ones who were candid and carried a conversation well. The problematic ones were those who were reserved, stuttered as they spoke, or could not even answer questions without a script at hand.

“Wait … There’s something wrong here … Why am I getting distracted by you? Aren’t we supposed to be speaking about your love life?” Professor Zhang pretended to be solemn as he cleared his throat. “Don’t blame me for being too curious, but your fans are truly quite enthusiastic about this, aren’t they?”

Ning Xi nodded as she smiled.

“So, let me ask you again. Are you …?” Professor Zhang coughed sheepishly, “Are you attached?”

“I have previously said this to the media and my fans. If I do get attached one day, I’ll tell everyone.” Ning Xi smiled at the camera. “I’m here today to fulfill that promise.”

The producer who was observing the recording was instantly overjoyed. Could it be that Ning Xi had a boyfriend, and she was going to announce the news on their show?!

“Close up, quick! Zoom in!” The producer quickly instructed the cameraman.

“Thanks for all the concern. I’m in a relationship now.” Ning Xi rose from her seat and bowed towards the camera. “However, he’s not from the entertainment industry, so I’m not able to reveal his identity for now. I hope that everyone can understand.”

Most rookies would choose to date in secret; few would actually fulfill their promises to reveal their relationship status.

Hence, it was understandable when she said that she did not wish to reveal his identity as he was a non-celebrity. The paparazzi were almost omnipresent. If they revealed his identity as Ning Xi’s boyfriend, he would never get a day of peace!

“I’m truly surprised at this piece of news.” Professor Zhang said after a pause. “Why did you choose to reveal this? Aren’t you afraid that your popularity might be affected?”

“Because I’ve said this before. If I was in a relationship, I would tell my fans. Besides …” Ning Xi giggled, “There are so many untrue rumours in the industry. If I opened up about my relationship status, he would also feel more assured.”

Professor Zhang was silent for a while, then he smiled. “I think that the person you are with must be really blessed.”

Ning Xi smiled and touched her chin. She then winked and said, “I’ll pass on your words to him.”

Before the programme ended, Baihui Entertainment had already released Ning Xi’s relationship news.

Baihui Entertainment: Goddess Ning confirms relationship with non-celebrity!

Many media outlets reposted Baihui’s news. However, fans were skeptical; they announced that without photographic evidence, they would never believe the media’s nonsense again.

Chang Shi Gui had just launched Weibo when the first piece of news that caught his attention was the news of Ning Xi’s relationship. He was stunned for a moment, then dialed Ning Xi’s number.

“Goodbye, Professor Zhang.” Ning Xi bade goodbye to the production crew and was about to leave, when her phone rang. She glanced at the caller then picked up the call immediately.

From Ning Xi’s expression, the crew guessed that the call was from her boyfriend. After all, only someone in a relationship could exude such a blossomy aura.

People who were more sensitive towards gossip intentionally observed Zhang Qingyun. However, they realised that there he did not show any unhappiness towards Ning Xi. Their thoughts started going astray …

Ning Xi had revealed her relationship when she had debuted not too long ago. This was not beneficial to Jiuji at all, why would Zhang Qingyun be so forgiving towards this?

Could it be that Ning Xi’s boyfriend was from a wealthy family, and could help advance Ning Xi’s career?


[1] 惊堂木 (jing tang mu) - wooden block used in ancient Chinese courts by the magistrates; similar to a gavel.