Tao Shenyan’s appearance and his addressing of Ning Xi as “Sister Ning” had caused the looks of the people surrounding them to change. Initially they were simply secretly watching them, and thought that this small-time celebrity had probably used some means to attract Chang Shi Gui, the man who usually wasn’t interested in relationships. Who would have expected that she was more capable than that; even the Tao family had acknowledged her.
Tao Shenyan wasn’t simply anybody; he was the heir to the Tao family. If his relationship with Ning Xi was so good, it was also a reflection of the Tao family’s views on her. And ultimately, the Tao family’s attitude towards her was determined by Chang Shi Gui’s mother, Tao Huixue.
No matter how others might view Ning Xi, so long as Chang Shi Gui was in love, and the mother-in-law Tao Huixue didn’t object, then Ning Xi was the rightful Mrs. Chang. If so, Chang Qin’s actions tonight would appear somewhat overbearing. If the mother-in-law Tao Huixue didn’t have any opinions towards Ning Xi as her future daughter-in-law but Chang Qin as an aunt eagerly stood out and threw the seniority card, wasn’t she just bullying the young lady for being an orphan without a strong family background?
People from the upper class would always put on airs, but this will normally be subtle, unlike how Chang Qin had blatantly used her identity and flaunted her status. This was really an ugly and somewhat senseless ploy.
If others could think of this, Chang Qin naturally could too. This was what she hated the most about her sister-in-law. The latter always appeared noble and warm. Back then, in school, she had stolen the limelight from her, and later even seduced her brother, married into the family and was treated like a precious gem. This caused Chang Qin, who was the true-blue descendant of the Chang family, to be relegated to the status of a bystander, while Tao Huixue was the master.
The feud from their youth, with the passing of time, had evolved into what Chang Qin termed as “youthful immaturity”. In reality, she had never put down her past baggage; she kept it to herself and maintained a harmonious relationship with everyone instead of making things ugly.
When everyone’s eyes were on Chang Qin, she was reminded of her youth. Back then, she was rash and pampered, and could never be compared to Tao Huixue. Later on, she got married, and even her marriage wasn’t as happy as her brother and Tao Huixue’s marriage.
When her brother and nephew were involved in the car accident, she subconsciously blamed Tao Huixue for it. This was a senseless hatred, since her brother’s accident had nothing to do with her sister-in-law at all.
Eventually, her brother passed away, while her nephew fortunately survived. When the entire family fell into shambles, it was her sister-in-law’s family who stepped in to help, and her nephew eventually took control of the Chang family.
Chang Qin was very pleased with this nephew of hers. She would always speak proudly about him. However, the nephew that she was proud of actually wanted to marry an actress. This was something she couldn’t accept.
Tao Shenyan didn’t care about what others thought. He clinked glasses with Ning Xi and said, “Two days ago, we were still talking about you, discussing when we could all make a trip together to the resort in the suburbs. I didn’t expect that I would see you here today.”
He wasn't lying. The few brothers had a relatively good impression of Ning Xi, which was why they would sometimes talk about her.
“Sure,” Ning Xi smiled. “But it’d better be soon. I’d just accepted a role and will start filming soon. When that happens, all of you will be out having fun when I have to work overnight.”
“Alright. I’ll discuss it with the others tomorrow,” Tao Shenyan chuckled, and when he saw Chang Shi Gui approaching them, he added teasingly, “The both of you were separated for a short while, but Brother Chang is already impatiently looking for you. Tsk, this is truly…”
When Chang Qin saw her nephew approach, her expression became even more uneasy. She rubbed the pearl necklace on her neck, then forced a smile, “You young people have fun, I’ll go over there to take a look.”
“Goodbye, Aunty Chang”, Tao Shenyan said cheerfully. After Chang Qin left, he whispered to Ning Xi, “Don’t take her words to heart. She’s not the one who calls the shots in the Chang family.”
Hearing this, Ning Xi smiled at Tao Shenyan. With her current identity, it wasn’t right for her to comment, hence it was best if she just smiled without saying anything.
“Xixi,” Chang Shi Gui walked to Ning Xi and said to her, “I apologise for making you wait for so long.”
“I wasn’t alone. There were many people who came up to chat with me.” Ning Xi had deliberately tied her hair up today, with a few strands hanging down. It complemented the graceful air around her. “Just now, Shenyan invited me to hang out at a resort. Do you want to go?”
“Sure.” Due to work constraints, the couple seldom had time to go out together. Now that Ning Xi had initiated this, Chang Shi Gui agreed without any hesitation.
When Tao Shenyan, who was now treated as invisible, heard Chang Shi Gui’s words, he pouted disdainfully. In the past, no matter how they tried to invite Chang Shi Gui, he would never go; yet, Ning Xi had just asked, and he couldn’t wait to agree. There was such a great difference in his response.
At the banquet, aside from the privileged, there were also some big names in the entertainment industry. However, apart from the truly charitable and renowned artists, the rest were popular celebrities who didn’t dare to speak in front of the elites.
Take for instance Guo Ji. He had countless fans, and when he casually posted selfies on Weibo, he would receive thousands of likes every minute. However, the glorious man had to be cautious when he was here, so that he wouldn’t offend someone he couldn’t afford to.
In reality, when Ning Xi entered with Chang Shi Gui, Guo Ji had already seen her. However, because he felt guilty, he didn’t dare to approach them at all. Later on, when he saw the rich ladies who usually had their chins up in the air fawning over Ning Xi and looking as though they had many things to talk about, Guo Ji felt even more regretful.
If he had known that Ning Xi would become this prominent, back then, he would have agreed to act in “Rolling Good Fortunes”. Even if the director wasn’t going to pay him, he would still have accepted the role. Having the chance to establish a connection with Ning Xi was something that even the remuneration of ten films couldn’t bring him.
The more he thought about it, the more unhappy he felt. After patronizing and buttering up a few investors, he was nauseous from drinking. In the end, in order to sober up, he took a walk in the small garden outside. Unexpectedly, he heard a woman talking on the phone.
“Yes, that Ning Xi looks like a vixen, but sister-in-law isn’t willing to interfere, so I’m not going to find trouble for myself.”
“Don’t listen to what others are saying. No matter how much benefits the Jiang family is providing, don’t entertain them…”
After hearing about the complex relations between these rich families, Guo Ji’s heart quivered, and he rushed back to the banquet. However, he could only lament internally that Ning Xi might look impressive, but it wouldn't be easy to survive in an affluent family. Years ago, when he had just debuted, Chen Zhenzhen was already extremely popular. After that, she married into the Jiang family in a grand wedding.
Back then, the media reported on Chen Zhenzhen’s wedding almost daily. There was news about the famous designer who designed her gown and how much it cost; about her shoes being the same as someone from the Royal Family and was priceless; about her accessories, of which the price of each single item would evoke people's jealousy and envy. However, after the grand wedding, what happened to her in the end?
He still remembered the moment when his manager had excitedly told him that the movie that he was participating in would include Chen Zhenzhen, who was returning to the industry, and how popular this movie would surely become. Yet, Chen Zhenzhen committed suicide the next day. Till now, he remembered the look on his manager’s face when he received the news. It was as though he had heard about something ridiculous and unbelievable, and he was speechless for a long time.
Soon after, that manager quit his job and left the entertainment industry. Now, he had opened a sizeable supermarket, and led a comfortable life. The two of them continued to keep in contact, but the manager never spoke about Chen Zhenzhen ever again. It was only recently when the manager found out that he might have offended Ning Xi that he called him and advised him not to offend people in the industry or bully the weak.
“All megastars are nothing in front of the rich and powerful.” His manager had sighed then; Guo Ji felt that his manager seemed to want to tell him something, but eventually, after reminding him to watch his health, he ended the call.
Although it wasn’t clear if Chang Shi Gui had learned about Chang Qin’s provocative behaviour earlier, but for the rest of the party, Chang Shi Gui never left Ning Xi’s side, presenting a fully protective stance. With this display, Ning Xi’s reputation had evolved from “Chang Shi Gui’s girlfriend” to “Chang Shi Gui’s future wife.” All that the couple lacked was a marriage certificate.
After the conclusion of the event, the Qu family was all smiles. This time, even though they didn’t manage to firm up any contract with the Chang family, both parties seemed keen on working together. This was a good sign.
When Chang Shi Gui brought his girlfriend to bid them farewell, Father Qu walked the couple to the gate, then teased Chang Shi Gui, “Mr. Chang, Miss Ning is so beautiful. When the both of you get married, can I invite myself too?” Father Qu could already see how devoted Chang Shi Gui was to his girlfriend, hence, he intentionally brought up the topic to get into Chang Shi Gui’s good books.
As expected, when he said this, Chang Shi Gui’s smile became warmer and more sincere.
“Father Qu must be joking. When that happens, we'll be honoured if you can grace the banquet.” Chang Shi Gui held Ning Xi’s hand, grinned wider as he looked at her, “The date hasn’t been fixed. Once it is, we’ll certainly invite you.”
“Good, good.” Father Qu happily sent the couple to their car. When the car left, he turned back to his son in a somewhat good mood, “Let’s go. We should go back and think about drafting that proposal to cooperate with Chang Enterprises.”
“Dad, are you that certain that Chang Shi Gui will work with us?” Qu Yuanbo’s expression was that of disbelief.
Father Qu patted his shoulder, “You should take the chance to learn. You’re about the same age as Chang Shi Gui, but your abilities are far from his."
Qu Yuanbo thought to himself, He probably wouldn’t want to be compared to his peers too!
At this moment, in the Chang family home, Tao Huixue poured a cup of calming tea for her sister, and listened quietly as her sister narrated her woes and hatred. When she heard that Jiang Yuanpeng might have had illicit relations with the late Chen Zhenzhen, she frowned.
“Sister, I must be blind back then to have stayed with such a man.” Tao Minya regretted being deceived by Jiang Yuanpeng’s sweet tongue that she even fought over her parents who opposed the marriage and insisted on marrying Jiang Yuanpeng.
Everything was still alright in the initial years, but later on, Jiang Yuanpeng started straying. Since she was the one who insisted on the marriage, she felt too embarrassed to tell her family about her woes, and could only force herself to swallow her own pain.
Later, Chen Zhenzhen married into the family. She felt that there was something strange going on between her husband and Chen Zhenzhen, but she didn’t have any evidence. Eventually, Chen Zhenzhen committed suicide, hence she could only push her suspicions to the bottom of her heart. However, all of this was shattered by a letter that she received recently.
That day, she called Shi Gui about Jiang Yun’s viral video. Later on, because she felt aggrieved, she quarreled with Jiang Yuanpeng, then grabbed her purse and went out to take her mind off things. Whoever knew that this trip out would present her with a thick envelope.
In the envelope were pictures of Jiang Yuanpeng with other women. What astounded her was a picture of Jiang Yuanpeng hugging and kissing a woman by the seaside. Although only half of the woman’s face could be seen, she immediately recognised that the woman was the late Chen Zhenzhen.
When Tao Minya thought about her own man getting cozy with his sister-in-law, she felt so repulsed and nauseated. In the end, after she confirmed the authenticity of the picture, she requested for a divorce from Jiang Yuanpeng.
In this life, she had already sacrificed years of bliss just because of a wilfully-made mistake. Now, she’ll be wilful one more time, and end this mistake of a marriage.
“Who sent you the pictures?” After Tao Huixue heard her sister’s story, a strange feeling crept in her heart. Anyone who obtained these photos would have sold them to the media or used it to threaten Jiang Yuanpeng for a large sum of money. Even if it was Jiang Yuanpeng’s enemy, they would probably use these to stir up some controversy to smear his reputation. Why would they simply hand the photos to her sister?
“I don’t know.” Tao Minya wiped the tears off her face, “The person who passed me the photos had a very regular build. He was wearing a cap and shades, and before I could get a good look at his face, he shoved the package to me and left.”
“It’s good that you thought it through.” Tao Huixue put the photos back into the envelope, “No matter what, you’re my sister. I won’t stand aside seeing you being bullied by the men in the Jiang family.”
“Sister.” When Tao Minya thought about her ridiculous life over the past years, she couldn’t help but start sobbing loudly.