Translator: SJade, Editor: Dj22031
Advanced chapters available on Patreon. Also, a bonus chapter will be released, if you buy me a kofi.
Yan Qing waited until early morning. At 7:30AM, the security guard carefully roused her up from her half-asleep state: “The living dorm’s doors are open now.”
In the past two hours, the security guard underwent a roller coaster of emotions. Just a little while after Yan Qing had sat down near his post, she had been spotted by a “Rise Up! Girls” crew member that had been working overtime. The crew member excitedly grabbed a video camera and placed it in a corner. Before he could say anything, the crew member signalled for him to stay silent. The security guard had been feeling nervous ever since.
Besides that, and more importantly, he kept feeling like there was someone watching him. The creepy sensation made it hard for him to sit still.
Yan Qing thanked the security guard. Pushing her luggage, she entered through the main doors of the dormitory building. The lobby had been thoroughly decorated to welcome the new trainees. Uniformed staff members waited at the front door. They handed her a badge with the number 1.
“I don’t have one. I came by myself.”
The staff member was excited. Yesterday, she had heard that they had signed a promising candidate as a last minute replacement. But now she saw that this candidate was very daring, she came to sign-ins without any makeup!
But she had a clear milky complexion and lips that were cherry red even without colouring, so she had the face to back up the confidence.
“The building opens its doors at 7:30, but we told the trainees to show up at nine. Why did you arrive so early?”
Yan Qing rubbed her drowsy eyes and gave an honest answer. “Because I’m homeless.”
The worker laughed and awkwardly tried to cover it up with a cough. She then asked again, “Then what is “Rise Up! Girls” to you?”
Yan Qing thought about her journey tonight. She made a fist with her hand and seriously responded, “Family! Home! Safe Haven!”
A place to hide from Huo Yunshen!
The staff member smiled, thinking that it was cool that such a beautiful girl wasn’t aloof in the slightest. She was even a bit cute. Due to the good first impression, she advised her to try to look out for cameras so that audiences could remember her. Even though they weren’t filming for the premiere episode, there was still a chance that footage from today might be clipped into the episode.
Yan Qing had only just realized that there were cameras in every corner. Her drowsiness disappeared immediately. She didn’t expect them to have started already. She pulled up her collar to cover her face. She hastily asked, “Where is the restroom?”
The staff member looked up, “What’s wrong?”
Yan Qing’s eyes widened with regret. “I didn’t put on make-up!” She ducked away from the cameras. She darted off to the bathroom, like a kitten running from a sudden scare.
The staff member doubled over at her reaction. She could tell that this sequence was going to be kept in the episode.
A normal beautiful girl would gain attention. But the staff member had thought she was a pretty face, but underneath the outer layer was a cute personality. A pretty face plus an amusing personality would definitely make her popular!
Yan Qing didn’t think that far. She was more worried right now. She had been in a hurry when she left from her old home, so she only brought some clean clothes in her luggage. She had completely forgotten to bring makeup.
Previously, she still had reservations against filming a reality show. But today, this program was her refuge. She needed to behave well to stay. She didn’t want to be eliminated. Moreover, there was Sister An Lan that wanted her to help with the show.
But after searching her luggage thoroughly, she concluded that there wasn’t a single piece of makeup in there.
After a while, the majority of trainees had arrived. When they exited out of their vehicles, they had already been dressed to the nines. She was the only one standing there without any makeup. Even worse, her face was reddened by the chilly morning.
Yan Qing was anxious, wondering if she should go ask a staff member for help. She heard the sounds of footsteps and laughter coming from the hallways. In the next second, four girls carrying luggage appeared in the bathroom. Their eyes met with Yan Qing’s.
“Wow! Chengfeng is pretty amazing. There are fairies even in their bathrooms.”
The so-called fairy looked up at them pitifully, then she asked. “Please, could I borrow some makeup?”
The documentary female VJ that had followed them into the sitting area of the restroom quickly zoomed in on her face.
Yan Qing sat in the middle of a group of girls. She was being given a princess’ treatment.
They chose foundation, eye shadow, and debated over lipstick color. A short hair girl lifted her chin up as she applied eye shadow, and sighed. “I feel like I’m playing with a Barbie doll.”
Yan Qing looked at the girls. “You are all contestants too?”
“Yup.” A long haired girl said softly. “We are all trainees from the same company. We’ve been training since middle school, but we’ve never had the opportunity to debut. Our company said that if this time doesn’t work out for us, then we can just pack up and disband.”
Yan Qing turned to the other three girls, surprised. Everyone was smiling brightly and appeared relaxed, but no one refuted her words.
This show was their last chance.
The short haired girl adored Yan Qing. She pinched her cheeks. With a carefree tone, she said, “This is our only chance. No matter whether we get it or not, at least we were able to meet such a beautiful girl. Our choice to come was worth it.”
As they continued speaking, Yan Qing’s makeup session finished. As Yan Qing put on the lipstick they had chosen for her, she noticed the red mark near her collar bone.
Huo Yunshen said that was something that Yun Qing had marked for him.
If he had pointed out another feature, then she might have hesitated. But this mark was something that she had a deep impression of. While practicing singing in school, she had been frustrated in her inability to ‘open’ her throat, and accidentally pinched out this mark. She still remembered the pain of that time.
She really liked singing. Now that she was at this program, this was the first time that she dared to envision a future with a stage.
And the girls with her now all knew how precious this opportunity was. The competition was fierce, yet they were willing to help her and treat her warmly.
In this moment, she hoped that “Rise Up! Girls” would be popular, and that the trainees would be popular.
As the time approached 9:00 AM, 99 trainees assembled. In the Chengfeng Videos’ courtyards, they filmed the first sequence of all the trainees together. Then, the trainees separated into three buses, heading towards the recording studio site.
The bus drove for thirty minutes. On the road, the girls couldn’t sit still. Excitement filled the air. The girls sitting near her were all curious and friendly. Yan Qing casually chatted with them, her gaze occasionally glancing out the window. She was observing every vehicle passing by.
President Huo, bye-bye.
Don’t show up again. Don’t be stubborn.
Luckily, nothing unusual happened on the way to the recording site. When they exited the buses, An Lan found her and pulled her aside. She spoke seriously, “Remember to perform well during filming. I trust that you can make this show popular. If this show fails, I probably won’t be able to stay in this industry anymore.”
Yan Qing suppressed her worries about Huo Yunshen and answered confidently, “I’ll do my best.”
She hoped that President Huo could really move on…
An Lan was satisfied with her answer. She pulled out a delicate box from her backpack. “I feel reassured now. A man gave this to me before we left Chengfeng Videos. He said I must give this to you. Yanyan, tell me the truth. Is that your boyfriend? A relationship would be negative news for the program.”
Yan Qing tensed up. “What man?!”
“He was tall and slim. He had glasses and looked very intellectual. Seemed like his background wasn’t simple.”
Yan Qing’s hands felt sweaty. She slowly opened the box. Inside sat her phone.
She was still in a state of denial. Maybe President Huo just wanted to return her phone.
Suddenly, An Lan’s phone rang. Just two seconds after picking up the phone, her expression changed to shock. “What did you say? The program is stopping? The executives said they got an order to shut it down?!”
Yan Qing froze. No…Don’t be Huo Yunshen!
“From who?!” An Lan gripped her phone in disbelief. “…..Huo, Huo Corporation?!”
At the same time, the phone in the box vibrated. A new message displayed on the screen. The contact name was “Yun Shen.”
[QingQing, it’s been six hours since we’ve separated. Are you feeling better? The show has been terminated. If you don’t like that, or if you want to speak with me, come to the garage. I’ll wait for you.]
Yan Qing looked at the building wall nearby, tempted to just ram her head in and end this torture.
Before the preliminary rankings round, all trainees were to be crammed into average sized rooms. After receiving their rankings, they would then be reassigned to rooms based on their ranking score.
Around lunchtime, none of the trainees were hungry. Ninety girls shuffled into rooms, brimming with anxiety.
The program holding the fates of their dreams was just called to a stop. They didn’t know where to go or what to do. Some held back tears and sniffles, causing others’ eyes to redden.
Yan Qing sat in a corner with her knees pulled to her chest. She looked at the phone in her hands.
An Lan didn’t know about the message. Before she left, An Lan told her not to worry. She told her to wait with the rest of the trainees, and that she didn’t believe Huo Corporation would be so ruthless and suddenly hurt Chengfeng Videos, considering they didn’t have prior history together. There must be a way to fix this!
Yan Qing held random hope, and impatiently waited for updates on the situation.
She didn’t want to, nor did she dare meet with Huo Yunshen.
But soon, a crestfallen staff member came out and announced, “I’m so sorry. We’ve encountered an unexpected issue. Please prepare to leave this program.”
The large auditorium fell into a long silence.
The girls that had helped Yan Qing with makeup were next to her. Some of them began to cry.
Yan Qing’s fingernails dug into the palms of her hands. Her nose reddened.
Huo Yunshen, that unscrupulous maniac, was forcing her to submit. He was willing to put Huo Corporation’s reputation on the line, and use these trainees’ dreams as bargaining chips to push her into contacting him!
He had said he would let her go. That was all lies!
At that moment, her phone buzzed.
Just two words, but it was as if he was whispering right next to her ears.
Yan Qing took a deep breath and leapt to her feet.
She’ll meet him, so what? She wanted to see what exactly Huo Yunshen wanted to do, after she had threatened him with her death. No matter whether she could help the program, she wanted to try. She didn’t want herself to be a burden on the program.
Yan Qing sneaked away from the crowd, exiting the building from a side door. She followed the route that Huo Yunshen messaged her and entered the garage. A long car sat in the shadows.
She knew she couldn’t escape this trap, so she might as well leap in head first.
Yan Qing clenched her fists and walked over steadily. At seven meters away, she noticed that the car door was left open. From the gap, she could see some smoke and a man’s side profile.
The garage was cold. The man wasn’t wearing a coat. His button up shirt was already wrinkled, with the first three buttons unbuttoned. He sat with his eyes closed, appearing solitary and gloomy.
He didn’t have the luxurious air of an aristocrat, or a second generation chaebol. Rather, he carried the aura of an unbridled demon. His air had the natural reaction of inciting both attention and fear in others.
Yan Qing composed herself and continued to walk towards him, making sure her footsteps could be heard clearly.
Huo Yunshen abruptly opened his eyes, his dark eyes suddenly brimming with splendour.
He prepared to step out of the car: “You’re here.”
Yan Qing stopped him: “Don’t you dare get out. Are you trying to be seen by others? I- I’ll get in!”
Closing the door behind her, Yan Qing avoided any physical contact with him. She nimbly took a seat on the opposite side of his. “Huo Yunshen, you’re using Huo Corporation recklessly to do this kind of thing. Are you crazy?”
He smiled. “Compared to you, Huo Corporation is nothing.”
Yan Qing was ready to smack him. “What do you want exactly?”
Huo Yunshen’s eyes peered into hers. Six hours since he saw her last… It was like a lifetime had passed by.
He squeezed the armrest to calm himself own. He handed her a manila envelope. “After the plane accident, we kept your DNA sample on record. We analysed it with your current sample. The results are in here. I didn’t lie to you. You really are Yun Qing. There’s something wrong with your current memories.”
Yan Qing was filled with rage. “…No wonder Min Jing pulled my hair yesterday. It was for this?! How much more psychotic can you get?”
Huo Yunshen lowered his voice and implored her. “Qingqing, take a look first.”
Yan Qing didn’t open it. She couldn’t tolerate his ridiculousness.
Huo Yunshen pulled the papers out of the envelope, and placed it in her lap. Yan Qing didn’t need to look to know that the results definitely supported Huo Yunshen’s case.
President Huo was impressive as expected. Just because she looked like Yun Qing, a show that had its own producers, investors and sponsors came to a halt. A DNA report was completely too easy for President Huo to manipulate. As long as he wanted, he could also create evidence to prove that she was Wang Qing, Li Qing, Zhang Qing, or any other Qing.
If she believed him, that meant she was refuting her previous twenty some years of experience. Did he think she was that dumb?
Yan Qing threw the report back to him and sat up with her back straight. “President Huo, please stop with these useless actions. I won’t believe your words. So let’s not carry this out. What exactly do you want me to do for you to not mess with the program?”
Huo Yunshen picked up the papers. His shaking hands wrinkled the papers, as he lingered on the positive result conclusion. His throat felt dry.
He had already guessed that this would be her reaction.
But when he was forced to see it himself, he still felt like she had just cut off a layer of his heart.
In the three years without Qingqing, he had been pushing his body to the limit. Today, his stomach problems were untimely appearing. He was barely able to even sit up straight.
His conscious, his blood was all roaring her name, craving her warmth.
Huo Yunshen’s bloodshot eyes peered up at Yan Qing.
Yan Qing’s expression remained stone cold.
“Tell me. Tell me what it’ll take for you to not interfere with the program!”
Huo Yunshen shakily reached out a hand. “Hug me.”
Yan Qing thought she misheard. “You…What did you say?”
His blanched lips parted. “I said, Qingqing, hug me.”
Yan Qing didn’t know if she was angry or frightened. Her ears reddened. “Can you speak like a normal person!”
Huo Yunshen’s gaze fixated on her. There was not a glimpse of his usual severe, brazen air that people associated with him. He didn’t hide his weak side from her. Speaking slowly, word by word, his hoarse voice whispered. “Please, hug me.”
This demand was too unexpected. The wall Yan Qing had constructed between the two of them was useless.
She was at a loss of what to do. After a while, she awkwardly asked. “….Are you sure? That if I hug you, you’ll stop interfering with the program?”
Yan Qing closed her eyes. This man never followed a predictable pattern. She didn’t know how to react. But she thought this was a profitable trade. At least, it was better than kidnapping her. It was just a hug, it’s not like it’ll cost her an arm or a leg.
For the sake of the program!
With determination, she leapt forward to his side. Leaning down, she stretched out her arms and gently pulled Huo Yunshen in.
Huo Yunshen gritted his teeth. He gripped her waist, pulling her closer.
Yan Qing felt something was off, and moved to separate away. Huo Yunshen’s ice cold palm swiftly appeared at the nape of her neck. His fingers tightened, with the fingertips adding pressure on a certain nerve.
“Qingqing, don’t worry.”
Yan Qing was only able to hear those words before a numbness shot through her body from the pressure point.
Her vision faded to darkness as her body softly landed into the crook of his arm.
Huo Yunshen lovingly kissed the spot behind her ears, and whispered. “Let’s go find your memories.”
Editor: Supportive and not catty girls on a reality show: just made my day!!!
Tch tch tch, YQ you are still too naive…
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