The media was shocked by the casting choices in Director Lin’s movie. The male lead was a B-lister, and even though the female lead was at the peak of her popularity, wasn't it too much to expect her to hold up the box office ratings?
Fortunately, the supporting cast were all award-winning veterans known for their acting skills, elevating the hype towards the cast.
“Director Lin, was your choice of Ning Xi as the female lead driven by her popularity, which will help the movie at the box office?”
“Ning Xi’s appearance and acting skills were very suitable for the lead female character in the movie. Even if she was a rookie actress without any popularity, I would still give her the role.”
The media: “...”
Since they couldn’t pry any news out of the director, the reporters started hounding Ning Xi instead. Since Ning Xi was so popular at the moment, they would not have to worry about readership as long as their articles had her name in it.
What made the reports most satisfied was the attitude that Ning Xi took when she spoke to them. She was cordial, respectful and mostly cooperative, apart from the time when she took on a strong stance on the issue of school violence.
“Ning Xi, this is your first time taking on the female lead. Are you nervous?”
“I’m definitely feeling jittery, but the opportunity to act in Director Lin’s movie is already something that’s exhilarating.” Ning Xi smiled happily at the camera. “I’ll try my best to reach Director Lin’s standards, and not disappoint everyone.”
Since it was the commencement of filming, the reporters were smart enough to avoid controversial topics. The atmosphere was harmonious.
After the interviews had concluded, the makeup artist touched up Ning Xi’s makeup, then the first shoot began.
Having been in so many productions, Ning Xi was already familiar with the movements before the camera. Further, with Gao Li’s immaculate acting skills, the first day of filming progressed well.
When Chang Shi Gui reached the set, Ning Xi was already filming the last scene for the day. It was the scene where she would brutally hit her two-timing ex-boyfriend.
“Cameras, standby. Action.”
“Cut. Ning Xi, your emotions are still lacking.” Lin Shujie’s head popped out from behind the camera. “Min Xue might be free-spirited, but she really loved her ex-boyfriend. Your gaze needs to be more complex. Let’s take a two minute break, then try again.”
Ning Xi nodded, then bent down to speak to the actor playing her ex and said, “I’m sorry.”
The male actor waved it off, and said casually, “After this scene, I’ll probably never dare to make my wife angry in future.”
The crew at the sidelines laughed. It was an open secret that he was a henpecked man, but he had the look of a jerk, hence he was always cast as the antagonist, ex-husband, or ex-boyfriend.
“Mr Chang.” Zhang Qingyun turned and saw Chang Shi Gui walking over. He approached the latter and said, “Ning Xi’s on her final scene already, please take a seat.”
“I’m fine, thanks.” Chang Shi Gui stood silently by the side. As he watched Ning Xi’s happy look, his expression softened.
“Ok, let’s try this again. Everyone get ready.”
This time, the filming was much smoother. Zhang Qingyun used Camera 1 to zoom in on Ning Xi’s gaze, then nodded satisfactorily.
“Great. We’re done!” Lin Shujie clapped. “Everyone, please be on time tomorrow.”
Ning Xi walked out of the scene and saw Chang Shi Gui standing next to Zhang Qingyun. She smiled and passed the handbag in her hands to the crew. “Why are you so early? Will we be too late if we set off now?”
“I ended work half an hour earlier.” Chang Shi Gui looked at the time on his wristwatch. “There’s still time. Remove your makeup first, I’ll be here waiting for you.”
“Alright.” Ning Xi nodded, then turned to the makeup room. In order to accentuate her makeup onscreen, the makeup artist had piled on the makeup, and it wasn’t appropriate for her to meet his friends with that look.
Once she was done, Ning Xi changed out into her own clothes, and applied a thin layer of makeup.
Half an hour had since passed. Zhang Qingyun saw that Ning Xi was still getting ready, so he stole a glance at Chang Shi Gui. Fortunately, he didn’t look impatient.
When Chen Zhenzhen and Jiang Hongkai were together, she was extremely considerate of him, and would not even have made him wait outside the dressing room for so long. Perhaps the relationship between Chen Zhenzhen and Jiang Hongkai had been unequal from the beginning, hence their relationship ended that way.
As he recalled the scene of Chen Zhenzhen’s suicide, Zhang Qingyun shuddered.
“Brother Zhang, are you alright?” Ning Xi appeared in front of him, looking concerned. “You’re looking pale. Not feeling well?”
“I’m fine”. Zhang Qingyun managed a small smile, then placed the cigarette that he had taken out back into its box. “You’ve a date with Mr Chang, so I’ll leave first.”
He wanted to add that his phone was always on, and she could call him anytime she wanted. However, he did not manage the words as they were in front of Chang Shi Gui.
Ning Xi looked suspiciously at Zhang Qingyun, but since he appeared fine, she then bade farewell to them.
Ning Xi only relaxed after they entered the car. “I’m so tired.”
Chang Shi Gui leaned over to help her fasten her seatbelt. “The scene was well-filmed.”
“Did you feel scared?” Ning Xi raised her brows. “Hmm?”
“What’s there to be scared of?” Chang Shi Gui suppressed a laugh, and said after a pause. “Xixi, I’m not like him.”
“I won’t ever treat you like this.” His voice was magnetic and seductive. “I can’t bear for you to be upset."
Ning Xi smiled, then placed her head on his shoulder without a word.
After a while, Chang Shi Gui turned to look at Ning Xi, who was leaning on his shoulder without moving. She had actually fallen asleep. As he recalled the physical intensity she underwent from filming, he said to the driver softly, “Drive slowly and steadily.”
“Yes, boss.” The driver looked through his rearview mirror, and saw that his boss was leaning towards the right, and Miss Ning’s head was on his shoulder, in a deep sleep.
When the driver saw the traffic in front, he slowed down.
“Shenyan, now that you are back, are you intending to expand locally?” Bai Lu poured a glass of wine for herself, and sipped it slowly.
“Yes.” Tao Shenyan noticed that Bai Lu didn't look well, but he was considerate enough not to expose her. He just looked down at his watch and said, “My cousin is actually late today. That’s new.”
Among the few here, Chang Shi Gui was the one who was most punctual. Hence, he didn’t expect that two years later, his cousin would also be late.
Hearing Tao Shenyan’s mention of Chang Shi Gui, Bai Lu’s face looked uncomfortable. She put down her glass, then said nonchalantly, “He might have been delayed.”
The gathering was a welcome party for Tao Shenyan. Hence, the people in the private room were all familiar with one another. One of them said cheerfully, “Maybe Brother Chang is bringing his girlfriend over, so he is late.”
The friend closest to him slapped his back saying, “What rubbish. When did Brother Chang have a girlfriend?!”
This person was really making a senseless comment. After all, it was an open secret that Bai Lu was interested in Brother Chang!
The lively atmosphere suddenly was laced with an unfounded sense of awkwardness. Tao Shenyan feigned ignorance, then looked down at his phone.
Among the people here, he was cousins with Chang Shi Gui, and they were the closest. These people were speaking so carelessly, who knew if they were truly careless, or trying to trick him into saying something?
In their circle, everyone appeared to be friends, but no one in the business world were friends for life. If they accidentally revealed any business secrets of their family, then their losses would not just be a small sum of money.
He might have just returned from overseas after two years. They might still appear friendly, but people’s hearts would change, and he could not afford to be careless.
“Mr Chang, please come in.” The door was opened, and the server led two people in.
Tao Shenyan saw Chang Shi Gui entering, and a smile appeared on his face. He immediately stood up from the sofa, saying, “Brother Chang. You have finally arrived. He then noticed that Chang Shi Gui was holding the hand of a beautiful woman. “This is … cousin-in-law?”
“Cough!” Chang Shi Gui let out a dry cough. “What are you saying?” Even though he said those words, he was grinning widely. “Let me introduce you, this is my girlfriend, Ning Xi.”
A look of surprise flashed across Tao Shenyan’s face when he heard Chang Shi Gui’s admittance of his relationship. “Hi Sister Xixi, my name is Tao Shenyan. You can call me Xiaotao, I’m biological cousins with Brother Chang.”
Ning Xi looked at the man who was smiling radiantly in front of her, and recalled a memory from seven years ago. That afternoon after school, a young man had ran to her and passed her a love letter with both hands.
“Hello, I’m from the next class. This is a letter from my cousin.” After placing the letter in her hands, he ran away blushing. She didn’t even have the chance to ask his name.
Afterwards … The other students ridiculed her for having a love letter. Some of the female students even snatched the letter and her bag, and locked her into the storeroom beside the toilets.
Ning Xi’s expression became complicated as she thought to that point. “I recognise you.”
“Hmm?” Tao Shenyan looked at Ning Xi in shock. He didn’t expect his cousin’s girlfriend to suddenly say something like this.
“You were in the next class when I was in high school.” Ning Xi suddenly turned to look at Chang Shi Gui. “I’m sorry. I never had the chance to see the contents of the letter that you gave me.”
The letter was originally from Chang Shi Gui to her. So, he had already prepared to confess to her seven years ago, but no one would have expected that things would progress in that direction.
Chang Shi Gui intentionally refused to bring up the past because he did not want Ning Xi to be upset. He didn’t think that Ning Xi would recognise Tao Shenyan after so many years.
He shook his head. “If I had been slightly braver and came personally to confess, and not ask Shenyan to pass the letter, then perhaps …”
Perhaps … things would have been different.
He often regretted why he didn’t appear personally in front of Ning Xi that year. If he had, then Ning Xi might not have lost her parents, and wouldn’t have had to endure so much hardships.
“You … you were the female student from that time?!” Tao Shenyan looked at Ning Xi in astonishment, then looked at Chang Shi Gui again. “Why did you suddenly withdraw from school that year?”
He distinctly remembered that his cousin had asked him for a favour because he needed to go on a trip. His cousin entrusted him to hand a letter to a female student from the next class. After so many years, he had long forgotten this girl’s name. All he remembered was that this girl had suddenly withdrawn from school, and his cousin had been upset for a very long time.
As he thought about this, he couldn’t help but laugh, “Fate is a miraculous thing.”
After so many years, for these two to end up together, if this wasn’t fate, what else could it be?