“You look like you’re in a good mood today.” When Zhang Qingyun picked Ning Xi up the next morning, he noticed her rosy cheeks and happy expression. “Did something good happen?”
Ning Xi arched her brows. “Brother Zhang, you are getting incredibly nosy.”
Zhang Qingyun immediately understood the meaning behind Ning Xi's comment. He turned to face the front, and drove towards the national television station.
“The show that I’ve accepted for you today might not have high ratings, but it’s a prominent show. The host is the national station’s top celebrity." Zhang Qingyun paused. “In this industry, there are many people who are friendly and amicable, but you should never forget your manners just because they are nice to you.”
Ning Xi nodded.
Walking into the building, Ning Xi greeted the staff from the station and walked into the elevator.
Before the doors closed, another group of people entered. The one leading the pack was a man wearing a pair of shades. Several assistants followed after him; he was probably someone important.
“Miss Ning, Mr. Zhang, what a coincidence.” A lanky man who stood beside the man in shades noticed them, and immediately appeared friendly and approachable. Even the man in shades specially took off his sunglasses.
Once the man’s face was revealed, a flicker of recognition dawned upon Ning Xi. She greeted the man first. “Brother Guo, nice to meet you.”
Ning Xi had seldom crossed paths with this male actor named Guo Ji. The only time was prior to the filming of Rolling Good Fortunes. Back then, Guo Ji felt that her popularity wasn’t high enough, hence he dragged his feet on signing the contract with Lin Shujie. Even though Guo Ji didn't specify the reason behind his actions, the crew found out about it eventually through Lin Shujie’s contacts in the industry.
“Miss Ning.” When Guo Ji saw Ning Xi, he felt a small sense of guilt. Back then, he had looked down on Ning Xi because of her lack of popularity, hence he repeatedly delayed the invitation from the crew of Rolling Good Fortunes. He didn’t know if this piece of news had reached her ears. If he had known that Ning Xi was Chang Shi Gui’s girlfriend, and even played such an important role in The Unrivalled 2, he would surely not have rejected Rolling Good Fortunes’ invite, resulting in the presently awkward situation.
Fortunately, they didn’t have to spend too much time in the lift. Guo Ji exited the lift, and once the lift's doors had closed, he shouted furiously at his manager, “Why didn’t you tell me that Ning Xi could be filming at the national station today?”
The manager smiled bitterly, “The national station is so big, how would I know which celebrities were going to participate in what shows?”
Guo Ji grunted unhappily, but didn’t pursue the matter further.
“Guo Ji, this man …” Zhang Qingyun raised his head and looked at the CCTV in the lift, before bending down so that the CCTV couldn’t record the movement of his lips. “Is a despicable man. His acting skills aren’t bad, but his moral character is. His private life is a mess.”
“Isn’t he married?” Ning Xi frowned, seeing him in a new light.
“His promiscuous nature is going to drag him down eventually. You should keep your distance from him, and stay out of the same frame as much as possible. If his private matters blow up, you might be implicated even if you’re just an innocent bystander.”
Reporters always had this miraculous ability to fabricate the most ridiculous story out of a single picture. Sadly, many people would believe these stories.
“I’m not blind.” Ning Xi rubbed her chin. “I have such a wonderful boyfriend, why would I spare a glance for a married man?”
Zhang Qingyun thought internally, I don’t want to deal with this sort of display of affection!
Filming the show for the national station took about two hours. As Zhang Qingyun described, the host was extremely personable, and before Ning Xi left, they even followed each other on Weibo.
However, it was only after Ning Xi left that she realised that the host’s Weibo account hadn’t been refreshed for close to half a year.
“It’s all antics.” Ning Xi shoved her phone back into her bag, her expression unfathomable.
Zhang Qingyun didn’t refute her.
The two of them had just stepped out of the building when Ning Xi eyed a familiar-looking man walking towards them. Before she entered the car, he called out to her.
Ning Xi turned and looked at the man, then said slowly, “Mr. Chen?”
Chen Qiran smiled when he heard Ning Xi address her. “Miss Ning’s eyes are really sharp. I wonder if I have the honour of buying you a cup of coffee?”
Ning Xi looked at the sky. “It’s getting late, I’m afraid I’ll have to reject your invitation.”
“I know that Miss Ning is a busy person. I won’t take up too much of your time, just thirty minutes will do. Please give me some face and just grant me this request.” Chen Qiran acted humbly, but Ning Xi could tell that he had some hidden motives.
Ning Xi laughed at his words unwittingly. “Mr. Chen’s words are so strange. Is your face only worth a cup of coffee?”
Chen Qiran’s expression faltered. “Miss Ning is truly different. Your words are so pointed.”
“You aren’t the first to compliment me this way, and you probably aren’t the last too.” Ning Xi knew what he was planning. He probably saw that she wasn’t on good terms with Chen Yijun, so he wanted Ning Xi to take his side against Chen Yijun.
But why would she do something like this? It wasn’t as though she was stupid.
“Ning Xi …” Chen Yijun walked towards her from another corner. When he saw Ning Xi with his father’s illegitimate son, his expression changed.
“How did you know him?” Chen Yijun’s life was currently in a mess, but he had never expected Ning Xi to be in contact with Chen Qiran.
Ning Xi glared coldly at Chen Yijun, who looked as though he had been gravely wronged. Internally, she felt that this pair of brothers were simply abnormal; one was full of himself, while another was adept at imagining all sorts of strange things.
Unwilling to put up with them any further, Ning Xi entered her car and told Zhang Qingyun, “Let’s go.”
“You can’t go!” Chen Yijun grabbed the door, his gaze full of anger and disappointment with Ning Xi. “Ning Xi, I didn’t expect you to be this sort of person. I confess, I made a mistake back then, misleading Siqi into thinking that you had a crush on me. But I’ve been looking for you these years, wanting to make up for the mistake back then. No matter how much you hate me, you shouldn’t associate yourself with the illegitimate son of a mistress.”
Instead of feeling angry, Ning Xi laughed. “You’ve finally come clean with the truth. However, don’t you think it’s ridiculous for you to say these words now? Who do you think you are? Why would I want to have any relations with anyone from your family?”
“You were so full of yourself back then. After so many years, you haven’t changed this bad habit of yours.” Ning Xi pushed Chen Yijun’s hand off the window. “Let go!”
Zhang Qingyun stepped on the accelerator, and they drove off. After confirming that the two brothers weren’t chasing them any long, Zhang Qingyun remarked, “What day is it? Why would these two brothers come to the national station for no reason?”
Ning Xi smiled coldly. “Why should I care?”
Noticing Ning Xi’s unhappy expression, Zhang Qingyun knew she didn’t want to talk about them anymore. He changed the subject. “You have a photoshoot for a magazine this afternoon. Do you want to return home for lunch first?”
“No. Shi Gui’s going back to the villa today.” Ning Xi retrieved a mirror from her purse, then glanced at her reflection. After confirming that her makeup was intact, she continued, “Two days ago, didn’t you say that a reporter whom you were acquainted with wanted to interview me? Why don’t you ask her out, we can do the interview at noon.”
“Alright. I’ll call her now.” Zhang Qingyun parked the car and made a call. He then turned to Ning Xi and asked, “I’ve arranged for you to meet her at a cafe. Is that alright with you?”
“Yup, that’s fine. We can have coffee, then lunch after.” Ning Xi nodded. “The timing’s just right.”
“Can you stop thinking about food?” Zhang Qingyun started the car again. “I don’t know how Mr. Chang has been feeding you, but you’ve gained almost three pounds over the past few months.”
Ning Xi closed the lid of her mirror and frowned. “Haven’t you heard that people would gain weight once they are free of worries?”
“I’ve only heard about it, but I'd never seen it before. Now, I’ve finally witnessed it.” Zhang Qingyun looked at her from the rearview mirror. “However, you were too skinny last year. You actually look better now.”
Ning Xi smiled quietly.
Zhao Hong and Zhang Qingyun were high school classmates. Back in school, they barely knew each other, but due to the nature of their jobs, they quickly became close friends.
When Zhang Qingyun told her that Ning Xi was willing to accept her interview, she dropped everything that she was doing and headed out with her videographer.
“Which popular celebrity did Sister Hong manage to invite that would cause you to smile so gloriously?” A colleague asked curiously as he saw her shuffling out in haste.
Another colleague shook his head, then whispered, “I heard that she hasn’t been doing much recently, so the bosses are quite upset with her.”
When the others heard the rumour, they shrunk back to their seats, pretending that they didn’t hear anything. To gossip about a colleague at work was a foolish move.
The walls had ears. If they didn’t want trouble, they’d better watch their mouths.
Zhao Hong arrived at the cafe close to thirty minutes later. As there was a jam on the way, she arrived ten minutes later than expected. Therefore, when she saw Ning Xi, she apologised repeatedly.
“No worries.” Ning Xi ordered coffee for Zhao Hong and the cameraman, then smiled and said to Zhao Hong, “I know how bad traffic is around here.”
Zhao Hong heaved a sigh of relief. Ning Xi’s present status was different. She didn’t want to get Zhang Qingyun into trouble due to her own lateness.
Very quickly, the coffee was served. The cameraman directed the lens at Ning Xi, while Zhang Qingyun sat at the next table.
“Don’t worry. I’ll edit the interview later, and will send it to Qingyun. I’ll only hand it over to the station if you are agreeable to the editing.” Zhao Hong knew that it was important to establish good relations with celebrities. With the rise of the web entertainment business, entertainment news by television stations were declining in popularity. In the last few years, she continued to produce valuable reporting. However, due to the fixed broadcast slot, which was not as flexible as news online, the ratings were sliding, and the show was no longer well-regarded by the station.
Zhao Hong’s questions were very fresh, but they weren’t tricky. Thus, the interview advanced smoothly.
“The Unrivalled 2 was very successful, and fans across the world have taken notice of you. Would you still try out massive productions like this in future?”
“If there’s a chance, I’ll definitely consider it.” Ning Xi smiled. “Perhaps when producers see how much support I’ve received locally from my past works, they will consider collaborating with me. After all, there’s always the power of the masses.”
This was a humble and pleasing response to domestic fans. Zhao Hong returned her smile. “Since we’ve discussed your career, it’s imperative that we talk about your personal life too. There have been rumours that you’re getting married soon. Is that true?”
Just as Ning Xi was about to reply, Zhang Qingyun’s phone rang.
Zhang Qingyun’s expression was ugly after the call. He turned and said to Zhao Hong, “Zhao Hong, pause the filming.”
Zhao Hong signalled to the cameraman to halt the recording.
When the cameraman turned off the camera, Zhang Qingyun said, “Just now, someone who claimed to be your senior accepted an interview and alleged that you had never cared for your relatives when you were overseas, and was disappointed in you.”
“Then let their disappointment continue.” Ning Xi couldn’t be bothered with trashy news such as this. “My grandparents on both sides have passed on, and if other relatives dare to use their seniority to question my piety, they should even consider if they are fit to talk about piety with me.”
“I’m worried that it might affect your popularity.” Zhang Qingyun sighed.
“Let them say all they want. Didn’t they just want some benefits now that I’ve gained some popularity and found a rich boyfriend?” Ning Xi sniggered. “And they think that just because I’m a celebrity, I’ll be scared that the matter blows up? As if!”
Zhang Qingyun knew from Ning Xi’s tone that she was determined not to let these people gain any benefits. He asked again, “Then what are you going to do about this?”
“I don’t need to do anything.” Ning Xi turned to Zhao Hong. “Since Sister Zhao is here, how about I offer you a big scoop?”