Translator: SJade, Editor: Dj22031
Advanced chapters available on Patreon. Also, a bonus chapter will be released, if you buy me a kofi.
The temperature had dropped sharply in Hai City during November. Winter winds swept up fallen leaves, making people shiver from the cold.
Yan Qing wrapped herself in a thick scarf. Abiding with the agreed meeting time, she arrived promptly to Chengfeng Videos headquarters. However, An Lan, who had planned to meet with her, was currently too busy to see her. Yan Qing didn’t mind, she patiently sat, taking a seat in the hallway in front of her office.
Chengfeng Videos was currently undergoing internal crisis. From their variety shows to new TV shows, all their programming was being crushed by a competing streaming service. Their days were spent under immense stress. To save money, they refused to run the heater even in this weather.
Yan Qing disliked the cold. She hid half of her face behind her scarf, only leaving out her eyes that have turned red and watery from the cold air.
There were staff members in the hallway. They had already taken notice of her. Everyone in this line of business was relatively knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the entertainment business. They all had sharp eyes. Even though they couldn’t see all of her features, her figure and her aura were enough for them to conclude that she was not somebody average.
Finally a man stepped forward and politely asked, “Are you a contestant? I can take you to the person in charge.”
Yan Qing looked up at him.
The man froze at a distance, he could see that her eyes were full of spirit. She didn’t have make-up on, nor was there any signs of being under the knife on her face. She had a naturally pleasant face that seemed to shine.
Yan Qing politely responded, “I’m not a contestant. I’m here to help Sister An Lan with the recording.”
Upon hearing this, the man sucked in a deep breath. She had a good face but her voice was even more special. Unlike the typical sweet female voices, her voice had a little textured layer of raspiness too.
Ohh… He suddenly remembered An Lan had scheduled to meet with a popular online singer, with the plan of recording a promo song for a new show. At that time, someone had suggested that they might as well bring the singer in as a contestant. Even if she only had average looks, her voice could still be a good way to bring attention to their show. But An Lan had told them regrettably that although her singing voice was special, her looks were not camera friendly. She wasn’t suited to become a pop artist.
So this was the singer.
The man’s interest immediately disappeared. So, she only had a good figure and a pretty pair of eyes. Perhaps there was a large scar on her face and that was why she was covering it behind the scarf.
He briskly walked off, quietly reporting back the gossip to other watching staff members. The gaze on Yan Qing subtly changed, from original surprise to new curiosity for her true face.
Yan Qing did not notice any of this. She focused on huddling underneath her scarf to stay warm. A few minutes later, she heard rushed footsteps heading her way, stretching her neck, she smiled as she saw An Lan coming.
Nine months ago, she was still residing in Canada. She had been saved coincidentally by An Lan, who was in the country for a program. Yan Qing had always felt grateful for her help and wanted to repay her. Now, there was finally something that An Lan needed help with. Without even hesitating, she bought a ticket and flew back to China.
When An Lan had saved her life, it was still deep winter in Canada. She was wearing layers and layers of puffy jackets. Moreover, because she had accidentally eaten mangoes, a serious rash covered her skin. Under those circumstances, she doubted that An Lan even knew what she looked like. Therefore, she needed to take the initiative now.
Yan Qing stood up, beaming. She walked towards An Lan, unwrapping her scarf along the way.
The group of bystanders immediately perked up. They leaned in, curious for a look behind the scarf.
An Lan was still on the phone, not even paying attention to her surroundings. She was frustrated to death with her work situation, “The whole team agreed when I chose Chu Yao as the main contestant for promo marketing. Don’t blame this on me now! How was I supposed to tell that she was going to jump ship to our competitor’s program? The show starts filming this weekend, where do you expect me to find someone to replace her?”
The person on the other end of the phone had no sympathy, “There’s nothing worth discussing. You’ll take the responsibility in finding one. If this delays the filming schedule, any losses this time will be on you!”
An Lan cursed.
Chengfeng Videos collaborated with other streaming platforms and planned a girl group competition. This was their top program of the year. If anything could reverse their tides, it would be this. However, they didn’t think that their business competitors were so shameless. With big pockets, they were able to ostentatiously create their own girl group competition in a short amount of time. Even worse, their contestants were prettier, their mentors were more famous, their competition rules were more exciting!
Chu Yao, the campus belle at an esteemed music conservatory was chosen by her team under strict standards and criteria. But in the end, she abandoned the program and ran to the enemy camp at the most crucial time! There was no way An Lan could cover the damages of this!
An Lan was just about ready to jump off a building when she saw an unfamiliar girl approaching her. At first, An Lan thought this was another contestant who had entered through family connections. Annoyed, her hand raised to wave her away.
But before she could speak, An Lan paused in shock.
Yan Qing stopped in front of her. Her scarf was now completely removed. Her eyes crinkled into a crescent moon shape as she smiled. “Sister An Lan, I’m Yan Qing. I’m here to record.”
The onlookers who were looking to gossip were all silenced. An Lan was even more shocked. “You’re Yan Qing? You got plastic surgery?”
“No,” Yan Qing wasn’t angry. “Last time when we met, I was wearing a different outfit and suffering from a severe allergic reaction, but I’m better now.”
An Lan didn’t bother to keep her calm persona. She stuck out her hand towards Yan Qing’s face to inspect for herself. Yan Qing’s skin was soft and delicate, her bone structure was defined, her lips were plump and full, her eyes were watery as she peered down at her in confusion. Most importantly, An Lan thought as she gave Yan Qing’s cheeks a squeeze, this was a naturally sculpted face. This was no doubt a beauty.
In comparison to that immoral and disloyal Chu Yao, she was not worthy of holding this beauty’s shoes. Besides, Yan Qing had great talent in the singing front. She was a popular online singer-songwriter, known for being able to bring listeners to tears in two to three verses.
With new inspiration, An Lan’s energy fired back up. Excitedly, she grabbed Yan Qing’s hand, “Are you over twenty years old?”
“That’s perfect! Can you clear out your schedule for the next three months?”
Yan Qing didn’t know what was going on but answered honestly, “I can.”
With a trill in her voice, An Lan rasped, “You want to repay me right?”
“Are you willing to listen to me?”
An Lan was ready to cry, “You’re not here to record, you’re here to save my life! Let’s go, let’s go! Follow me upstairs to meet the big boss. You’re going to be a contestant! You’ll be the main actor for marketing! You’re going to debut! From the first episode, we’ll be able to take over the internet. We’ll win!”
Yan Qing underwent two hours of interviews. But ‘interviews’ made the process sound serious. In actuality, she sat through waves of directors, producers, instructors, and executives from Chengfeng Videos repeating the same things over and over in cycles.
“My god, this face! Are you natural?”
“Look at the side profile, even from the back! There’s no bad angle. Do you have a bad angle?”
“Sing a few lines. Wait stop, this can’t do, bring in better equipment. This low quality speaker doesn’t do her voice justice!”
“Can you dance? Pick a song,” The executive pushed up her glasses. “Oh, you don’t know how to dance?”
Yan Qing thought, no dance experience was definitely not okay right? This means that she was disqualified for sure. Now, she would need to find another way to help An Lan!
She didn’t expect to hear, “That’s great! Finally there’s something that can be improved on. That way this will feel more realistic and will be more interesting to watch! You’ve passed! Definitely! It’s settled. Sign the contract. You can report here tomorrow afternoon, and we’ll officially start filming this weekend.”
Yan Qing blinked her eyes.
To be honest, she was only here to record a promo song, only as a behind the scenes worker. She hadn’t thought about appearing on camera. Something like a girl’s group competition seemed so far-fetched for her.
An Lan saw her hesitation. She tugged on her arm, “Qingqing, at least help for the first few episodes. When the program is stable in the ratings and popularity, if you still don’t want to be involved, I’ll find a way for you to withdraw then. I’m begging you, please help me, or else, I’m dead!”
Yan Qing’s heart relaxed. Her mission was to repay An Lan’s kindness anyways. She couldn’t bare to see An Lan lower herself. In a second, she made her decision, “I’ll try my best. But if the results aren’t great, I can’t take responsibility.”
Pausing for a second, Yan Qing couldn’t help but add, “Also…Qingqing sounds a bit weird. You can call me by my full name or Yanyan is also fine.”
After signing the program contract, An Lan escorted her to the elevators, reminding her repeatedly to report for duty tomorrow afternoon. While An Lan nagged, Yan Qing’s mind was still on “Qingqing”.
It was an understandable nickname to be called. She had heard people call her that before. But every time she heard it, she would feel a deep sharp pain in her heart. Hearing the nickname coming out of others mouths, she felt that it was wrong. Inside the elevator, Yan Qing shook her head.
Suddenly, she heard a deep voice, “I’ll search.”
A simple statement but it precisely grabbed her attention. She was a singer so she was particularly picky with voices. It was rare for a voice to grab her attention.
Yan Qing instinctively turned her head, trying to track down the voice. She discovered that the voice was coming from the tablet in the hands of a woman in front of her. On the screen was an interview. The man being interviewed was looking straight into the camera, his skin was sickly pale almost to the point of translucency. His features were sharp and severe. His lips, lacking any sign of redness, opened again, “Of course, I’ll keep searching. That goes without saying.”
The journalist could not respond. The man’s tone had scared him. After a second, he quickly tried to smooth over the tense atmosphere.
The woman watching the interview was also shocked. Turning to her companion she discussed the interview, “What company is this journalist from? Does he want to get fired? He’s so openly taking a stab at President Huo’s Achilles’ heel.”
“I’m guessing, it’s a new guy. But, he clearly did not do his homework. Who doesn’t know President Huo’s story? No one dares bring it up. But, it’s admirable for the journalist to put his life on the line for an interview.”
“Speaking of it, President Huo really is dedicated. After his wife died without a trace of a corpse, he hasn’t been able to accept reality. Instead, he’s been going insane looking everywhere for her. Who knows when he’ll give up.”
“You’re a few weeks behind on the news. Did you think this interview is recent? This was at least three months ago. I’m guessing he’s given up his search by now.”
“I heard this from a friend’s friend. But, it’s now officially been three years since his wife’s accident. Because she was missing at the time, the court of law did not issue a notice of death. If after a year, there still isn’t any change, then it officially becomes a declaration of death. Since, it’s now been three years, President Huo should know that there is officially no hope. It’s about time for him to restart his life and take a good look at the droolworthy group of rich ladies and celebrities around him!”
“You’re right. Three years, gosh. No matter, how much love they were in, his feelings should have dampened by now. Moreover, it’s Huo Yunshen. That kind of man…”
That kind of ruthless, cold-hearted demon, who was willing to do anything and use any method to control Huo family, even exterminating any threats within his own family.
There were even more rumours saying that he was born insane, with a twisted personality. He treated everything with a rebellious attitude. That was why he was ostracized by the Huo family. He was kicked out for years, with no one from the family spending any attention or care on him. But, who would have guessed that Huo Corporation’s robust conglomeration would end up in the hands of this abandoned son.
Everyone knew that Huo family’s family head was not to be messed with. But, some couldn’t resist the temptations of his status and appearance. Rich daughters and popular celebrities had all dreamed of being connected to Huo Yunshen.
The ladies’ voices lowered as they discussed the rumours surrounding Huo Yunshen. Yan Qing could only make out bits and pieces of their conversation, but her eyes remained fixated on the tablet screen.
As the man talked, it was like he was looking straight at her.
Yan Qing suddenly trembled. She could feel her heartbeat going thump-thump. She briskly turned away, trying to catch her breath. She didn’t know how to describe this sudden reaction. Was it because Huo Yunshen was just too good-looking? Or was his imposing manner too powerful to the point that just one look was able to scare her?
That’s probably it.
Yan Qing found the most likely reason and stuck with it. Taking a deep breath, she let her thoughts drift away from the video. The elevator finally arrived to the lobby level. Bracing for the wind, she ran towards her rented second-hand car.
Hai City was split into two by a river running through it. South of the river was the newer parts of the city, whereas north of the river was the old city. However, both sides had developed in great leaps. Lofty high-rises were packed together along the skyline. Against the night sky, their lights added resplendent color to the night view.
Yan Qing’s old house was to the north of the river. Following the GPS, she left from Chengfeng Videos. As she passed by supermarket, she stepped in to purchase a few home goods and some items that An Lan suggested were needed during filming. In the blink of eye, she accidentally shopped late till into the night.
By the time she was driving on the river bridge, it was already deep into the night. The wind on the bridge was fierce. Yan Qing accelerated in hopes of quickly getting off the bridge. In the middle of the bridge, she saw a silhouette from her peripheral vision. There was a person standing on the pedestrian walkway, facing the river. The sides of his dark suit were being pulled back by the strong winds, making it appear as if he had wings.
Who was that? Standing on a bridge in the middle of the night just to look at the view? Wasn’t he cold?
Yan Qing’s curiosity passed quickly. Her attention shifted back to the car. She stepped on the accelerator. However, rather than speed up, her car suddenly shivered, slowly reducing speed uncontrollably. After gliding forward a few meters, it came to a complete stop.
Yan Qing tried again to restart her car but it seemed like the car had gone on strike. She then called the customer service of the rental car service but no one picked up. She had just arrived back from abroad, she wasn’t familiar with other potential emergency numbers to call. In a bit of a panic, she got out of the car, hoping to see a passing car that could assist her.
Unfortunately, it was too late in the night. There weren’t any cars on the bridge. Yan Qing shivered uncontrollably from the cold. Looking left and right, she saw the silhouette again.
He was still standing there. He hadn’t moved at all.
But behind him was a large white SUV. He seemed like someone who would know something about cars. If not, perhaps she could at least ask him for help pushing the car.
Yan Qing pulled in her jacket tighter and ran towards him.
Amidst the howls of the wind, the man stood straight and unbending. From the side, he showed a slim side profile. His short hair swept messily over his eyes, his skin white as frost.
Yan Qing called out, “Sir?”
The man didn’t pay attention to her. He bent down and examined his watch. After checking the time, he stepped forward immediately. Grabbing onto the railings, his long legs lifted up.
Yan Qing’s heart skipped a beat. Quickly, she called out, “Be careful!”
What was he doing? !
His movements were agile and quick. Soon, his feet were on top of the railings. Without hesitation, he lifted his arms, his body leaned forward. In the next second, his body would pummel into the waters below.
Yan Qing had never seen such a situation. Her own heart was about to stop. Before she could even think, her feet rushed forward. In the last possible second, she grabbed onto his wrist and pulled.
The man wasn’t prepared for this. He steadied himself. As if he was prepared to jump down with her still tied to his wrist, he turned around with determination and glared, ready to tear apart the person obstructing him.
A gush of wind blasted right into Yan Qing. Her long hair and scarf simultaneously flew up, allowing her face to appear in front of him.
With both fear and anger, she shrilled, “Are you trying to get yourself killed?!”
Yan Qing realized something was off. She squinted her eyes to get a better look at the person in front of her. In her head, she suddenly made a connection.
Wait… Wasn’t this the person in that video?…The one that was compared to Satan, Huo family’s controller?…Huo Yunshen?
Before she could be shocked, Yan Qing realized that Huo Yunshen’s condition was abnormal. He was staring straight at her, fixated. His dark eyes were bursting with indescribable madness, a fire was burning in his gaze.
Yan Qing stood frozen. Reflexively, she took a step back.
In response, Huo Yunshen jumped off the railing. Raising his arm, his iron like grip hooked onto the nape of her neck, and pulled her right into his embrace.
Without giving her a chance to pull back, his scalding kisses pressed down onto her, fervently biting her.
Yan Qing was completely struck dumb. She tried to push away. Just when she thought he was about to crush her, he finally pulled back his lips. With his whole body trembling, he rested his head on her shoulders. His strained voice sounded near her ears, “Qingqing. It’s been three years. What took you so long to come back?”
Editor: Since the chapter is too long, only one chapter would be released this weekend.
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