Chang Shi Gui had always been a solemn man. Ning Xi knew it all along, but she felt that there was something strange about him now. The silence wasn’t the usual steadfastness that he usually showed; it seemed as though he was keeping something to himself, and he wasn’t saying it out of consideration for her.
She pulled her blanket away and got off the bed. She then walked to Chang Shi Gui and held his hand. His hand was cold; the chill permeated into Ning Xi’s heart, making her shudder involuntarily.
Chang Shi Gui walked into the room and closed the door, looking at Ning Xi with a burning gaze, “I went to meet someone.”
“Who?” Ning Xi looked up at him, a trace of a smile still on her face.
“So it’s him…” Ning Xi chuckled, her chuckle reverberating across the room. “Why was he looking for you? Was it for the divorce settlement?”
Chang Shi Gui didn’t reply. He released Ning Xi’s hand, then walked to the windows. Outside, the streetlamps were gloriously bright, but there were still many dark corners that the lights couldn’t reach. Ning Xi’s reflection was etched onto the windows. He looked at the reflection, but he didn’t turn back.
From the moment Chang Shi Gui released Ning Xi’s hand, she didn’t follow him. She simply stood where she was quietly, looking at his back view, and didn’t say a single word.
“He wasn’t looking for me because of the divorce. It was for you.”
Ning Xi’s eyelids trembled slightly, as she walked to the bedside and sat down. Linking her fingers and placing her hands on her knees, her voice was eerily quiet. “What’s there to ask about me, that he had to specially ask you out?”
After a moment of silence, Chang Shi Gui walked to the bedside and knelt before Ning Xi on one knee. He looked up at Ning Xi, but Ning Xi turned her head away slightly, avoiding his gaze.
“Xixi.” Chang Shi Gui held her hand tightly, “In your heart, what am I? A considerably good man, a boyfriend, or someone whom you can spend your life with?”
Ning Xi’s heart trembled. She had never seen Chang Shi Gui looking so unconfident. Ever since they met, Chang Shi Gui had always tolerated her, and was gentle with her. He had never been angry with her, or even showed any signs of unhappiness. It was as though once she agreed, he would be willing to do anything for her.
This was the first time she was seeing his vulnerability, his weakness, and his sorrows. It was then that she suddenly realised, even if this man was admired by countless people, he wasn’t invincible. There were also times that he would be upset.
Ning Xi felt as though her heart had been stabbed, and the pain was unbearable. However, how could she make him believe that she didn’t get together with him just because she wanted revenge on the Jiang family? If she couldn’t even believe such words herself, how could she convince others?
“Shi Gui,” Ning Xi looked down, biting her lips as she said, “I’m sorry, I…”
Chang Shi Gui suddenly stood up and cut her off, saying hastily, “I just remembered that there are some things I have to settle. You should rest first.”
There are certain words that couldn’t be spoken; once they were said, it would be irreparable.
Ning Xi was dumbfounded when she saw the door close. She then stood up and walked to the window, and after a while, she saw the car that Chang Shi Gui usually took drive out to the main gate.
Perhaps she had slept for too long previously; Ning Xi tossed and turned in bed, and couldn’t fall asleep even at dawn. The moonlight from outside filtered through the curtains into the room; she gazed at the moonlight outside, lost in thought.
Ding-dong. A message notification rang from her phone. She took her phone and looked; it was from Chang Shi Gui.
Shi Gui: Goodnight.
Ning Xi rubbed the edges of her phone lightly, and even till the screen was off, she couldn’t think of a suitable reply.
Chang Shi Gui placed his phone beside him, and even after waiting for a long time, he didn’t receive a reply. He sat up on his bed, pulled the blazer from his bedside, then opened his door and prepared to leave the villa.
The light in the corridor was suddenly turned on. Chang Shi Gui squinted his eyes, and noticed his mother standing on the walkway. He frowned, “Mom, why aren't you sleeping at this hour?”
“Aren’t you awake too?” Tao Huixue walked to her son. She looked at her son. He was wearing a shirt, but one side of his sleeves folded and another side was wrinkled, and he wasn’t even wearing a tie. She asked, “You just came back not too long ago, and you’re leaving again?”
“Mom…” Chang Shi Gui didn’t say that he was in a hurry to leave because he was worried about Ning Xi. This might cause his mother to be unhappy with Ning Xi. He put on his blazer, “I need to go out to handle some things. You should go and rest.”
Tao Huixue smiled at his words, “Go ahead then, and be careful when driving.”
Chang Shi Gui nodded. Just as he took a step down the stairs, his phone rang. He whipped out his phone impatiently and unlocked the screen.
It was just a simple word, but Chang Shi Gui stared at it for a long time. Finally, a low laughter rumbled.
It turned out that he wasn’t the only one who couldn’t sleep. She was the same too.
Tao Huixue saw her son take a step, then smile foolishly at his phone. She coughed lightly, “Shi Gui, aren’t you going out?” She looked up at the large clock on the wall, “It’s almost daybreak, if you don’t leave, it’ll be morning soon.”
Chang Shi Gui shook his head. After replying to the message, he put his phone back into his pocket, “I’m not going anymore. I’ll leave in the morning.”
Tao Huixue looked at her son, not exposing him. She could tell that the couple had a tiff. However, looking at the way her silly son acted, she knew that he couldn’t let go of her. Who knew if all this trouble was the couple’s way of flirting?
Shi Gui: I can’t sleep. Missing you.
Ning Xi couldn’t help but smile at this message. She held her phone in her hand, and slowly drifted to sleep.
The next morning, she was awoken by the endless calls from Zhang Qingyun. She had just picked up the phone when Zhang Qingyun’s somewhat anxious voice sounded.
“Ning Xi, someone is defaming you online. The matter’s somewhat troublesome, is Mr. Chang beside you?”
Ning Xi got off the bed, then turned on her laptop. “He’s not here right now. What happened? Tell me about it slowly.”
After booting up her laptop, she launched a popular entertainment site. At the most conspicuous area at the top was a picture of her. However, in the picture, she seemed to be kissing another man. This man was her close friend Zhou Zhengchuan.
The headline that accompanied the picture was “Rumour that Goddess Ning Xi had many ambiguous relationships before dating Mr Chang!” In the article, there were numerous photos of her with a few local male celebrities in somewhat intimate positions, and even pictures of her with Hart.
The comments under the article were unbearable; there were all sorts of insults and vicious comments everywhere.
“Are you and the international superstar Hart…” Zhang Qingyun stammered on the other end of the line. He was certain that Ning Xi didn’t have any sort of unspeakable relationships with the local celebrities, and intimate actions were even impossible. The only one he was uncertain about was Hart, hence he had to bring it up specially.
“We are just normal friends.” Ning Xi’s tone was cold, “These photos are just taken at angles that make these pictures look ambiguous.”
However, such pictures incited all sorts of demeaning comments. There were even some who mocked Chang Shi Gui, commenting that even though he was rich, he fell in love with a wild horse, and his entire head was going to be covered with a massive grassland .
And that was not the worst.
When she launched her Weibo, it was also filled with derogatory comments. There were even some who intentionally tagged Chang Shi Gui, asking him to take a good look at the type of woman that she was, and he shouldn’t allow a woman like her to marry into the Chang family and disgrace them.
These people seemed to be more concerned about the Chang family’s reputation than Chang Shi Gui himself. It was as though if Chang Shi Gui continued to be with her, he would be labelled as a cuckold, disgracing all the men in the world.
Ning Xi didn’t want to look at them anymore, so she turned off her computer.
“Boss, something bad has happened.”
Chang Shi Gui had just finished breakfast with Tao Huixue when his assistant called. At the same time, the assistant sent him a link, all of which were filled with entertainment news of Ning Xi.
It was as though the media was working in unison; all of them described Ning Xi as a flirtatious woman, and she didn’t get together with Chang Shi Gui because she was touched or in love, but because Chang Shi Gui was the richest among the men.
These photos were mostly blurry. Some were clear, but the surroundings weren’t. Below these articles were endless comments berating Ning Xi. It was as though these people were standing up for Chang Shi Gui, and every one of them feeling indignant about his misfortune.
Chang Shi Gui only took a look at a few pictures, and with a dark expression, he called his chief secretary, “I’ve just received news that the Jiang Enterprises is facing massive financial issues internally. We should stop all joint projects with Jiang Enterprises immediately. For those that we can’t stop, we should settle it quickly. Before the issue is thoroughly investigated, Chang Enterprises will no longer work with Jiang Enterprises.
“Yes, boss.” After the chief secretary received the instructions, he quickly disseminated it to the heads of the departments. All the heads didn’t feel surprised at this piece of news; conversely, they felt relieved that this day had finally arrived.
When news of Tao Minya and Jiang Yuanpeng’s divorce was reported, the top management had wondered when Chang Enterprises would completely cease all joint projects with Jiang Enterprises. After waiting for close to a month, the final nail was drilled into place.
By the time Zhang Qingyun rushed to Ning Xi’s place, Ning Xi was dressed in casual attire. However, she didn’t put on any makeup, and looked a little haggard.
“The company is already thinking of a PR strategy. You don’t have to worry for now.” Zhang Qingyun placed the breakfast he bought in front of Ning Xi. “What do you think about the situation? Can you tell me?”
Ning Xi took a sip of her soybean drink and replied calmly, “Is the company thinking of a PR strategy or waiting for Chang Shi Gui’s response?”
Zhang Qingyun’s expression froze. In reality, he had the same suspicion, but as Ning Xi’s manager, he couldn’t tell her that. He smiled bitterly, “When the matter just blew up, I tried contacting some marketing contacts, however, they refused to reveal anything. Only the ones who were on very good terms with me told me that you probably had offended someone powerful. Someone was out to ruin you.”
“Someone powerful?” Ning Xi smiled coldly, “In this city, there are so many powerful people. I wonder who is this powerful person who wants to deal with me.”
Zhang Qingyun wrinkled his nose. The entertainment industry was extremely harsh on female celebrities. The ones who were too beautiful would be labelled as “vases”, the ugly ones were mocked and ridiculed. If it was linked to relationships, netizens would become moralists, demanding female celebrities to follow the three ethics and four virtues, and stay true to one man, in order to fulfil their high moral standards.
Now, the mastermind who wanted to deal with Ning Xi had made use of the public’s harshness towards female celebrities, intentionally releasing these ambiguous pictures and misleading the public’s impression of Ning Xi.
In fact, it wasn’t Ning Xi’s image in public that mattered, but… if Mr. Chang saw these photos, what would he think of Ning Xi?
How many men in this world could stand being mocked as a cuckold? He didn’t even dare to think about the impact on Ning Xi if Mr. Chang started doubting her because of these photos.
The media dared to release these pictures because they expected that someone with Mr. Chang’s status would certainly not be able to tolerate his girlfriend having dubious relations with other men. Now that the matter was exposed, would he still intentionally protect Ning Xi?
“I’ll help you write a statement first.” Zhang Qingyun gritted his teeth, “Even if others don’t believe you, you’ll have to calm your fans first.”
Unexpectedly, they were in the midst of drafting the statement when he heard someone knocking.
When he opened the door, there was no one there. Instead, there were countless roses.
 A common Chinese term for men who have been cuckolded is 戴绿帽 (dài lǜ mào). This is another take on this particular term - a “wild horse” being free alluding to a loose woman, and the green grasslands above his head alluding to CSG being cuckolded.