Translator: SJade, Editor: Dj22031
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Yan Qing was numb after hearing a single sentence by Huo Yunshen’s.
Her phone was still buzzing periodically. She patted her cheeks. She sure was naive to compete with President Huo on using tricks.
Outside, someone knocked on the door. “Yanyan are you done? Let’s head over together to the photoshoot. Then, we can go to the dance studio together afterwards.”
Yan Qing snapped out of her own thoughts. She remembered that tomorrow afternoon was the filming of first round of judges’ rankings. She only had half a day left to prepare. The song she was singing wasn’t a problem, but dance was a field that she never experienced before. She had chosen a choreography that seemed simple but needed practice before filming.
Luckily, one of the four girls she met earlier near the bathroom was a dancer and was willing to help her practice. She didn’t have time to waste.
“Hold on, I’m coming out!”
But, President Huo clearly wasn’t going to let her go. Since, she didn’t respond to his messages, he called.
Yan Qing worried that with his temper, President Huo might just show up in the middle of all these cameras. Reluctantly, she answered his call. “I’m busy, please speak quickly.”
The man on the other side of the phone was silent for a second.
Yan Qing didn’t know how to respond to his silence. Then, she thought, if it were Yun Qing on the phone, she probably would have sweetly said hello. He probably wasn’t used to her indifferent attitude.
Huo Yunshen started speaking. It was still the same question. “What are you doing right now?”
Yan Qing was worried that others might hear her. She lowered her voice, “I’m going to the photoshoot. Then I’m going to the dance studio with a friend. I really don’t have time to respond to your messages. Even, if you prepared fifty phones, you’ll still have to wait until I’m done with work. I’m hanging up now.”
Just as she was about to press down on the red button, he asked, “You’re going to dance? What dance?”
Yan Qing spoke freely, “It was a last minute selection that I found online. It’s Renai Circulation.”
Her new dance teacher, Ou Yang, was rushing her again. Yan Qing quickly hung up and walked out.
The girls from Ou Yang’s group all crowded around her, teasingly the spoke. “Aiyo~~ Who were you speaking with? You were taking so long, we heard everything~~”
Yan Qing bit her lower lip. “It was…a family member. They keep asking what I’m doing, so frustrating.”
Ou Yang patted her head, “Don’t you know what that question actually means?”
“It means ‘I’m missing you’.”
Huo Yunshen’s words fluttered back into Yan Qing’s ears. “What are you doing?”
So what he actually wanted to say was… ‘I miss you.’
Huo Yunshen returned back to his office at Huo Corporation’s headquarters. Behind him followed a group of directors waiting to deliver documents that needed President Huo’s approval, barely daring to breathe to heavily for fear of inciting Huo Yunshen’s rage. They all turned to Secretary Min, hoping for his help.
On the surface, Min Jing smiled calmly. But on the inside he scoffed.
Help? He didn’t even know how to deal with Huo Yunshen.
In the past, Shen Ge would have wanted to do everything in his power to hide Yun Qing away from the world. His goal would have been that no one else in the world dared lay eyes on her. But now, his dear wife didn’t even recognize him. Even worse, she went to a program to dance and sing.
Just the thought of that kind of stage gave him shivers. Yun Qing would wear a short skirt with her hair up, and smile at the male judges and all the viewers…
Min Jing felt sweat forming on his forehead. He heard the voice of death again, “Min Jing, if you dare keep thinking about her, I’ll throw you out this window.”
Huo Yunshen’s expression was ice cold. His stomach was still giving him shots of pain. His temples were also throbbing. For the past three years, stomach pain and migraines had been a reccurring part of his life. His medicines had plateaued in effectiveness.
The more pain he was in, the more he thought of her.
He wanted to hold her every minute. He didn’t want to let her go.
Huo Yunshen was too lazy to speak further. He ripped out a piece of paper, wrote a few orders down, and handed it to Min Jing.
The line of directors stood silently. They placed down the documents that needed to be approved. No matter how powerful these men looked outside, they all willingly lowered their heads in front of President Huo.
Everyone had witnessed President’s abilities first hand. They had watched him go from the family outcast who hadn’t even finished schooling, to a victorious black sheep and obsessive conqueror. His shrewdness, abilities, and ruthlessness were all enough for them to look up to him.
When the directors finally dispersed, Huo Yunshen lifted his head and asked Min Jing. “All done?”
Min Jing pushed his glasses up. “Yes, everything’s done. There are no objections from Chengfeng’s side. Unanimous agreement from their board. They’re very happy with these results, they’re practically ready to set off fireworks. They’ve reached their funding target. The new program stages will be designed overnight. It should be ready for tomorrow’s filming.”
Min Jing understood now what Shen Ge meant by ‘postpone the acquisition. We’ll use another method.’ By becoming the program’s sole sponsor.
From today, Rise Up! Girls would officially change its name to Huo Corporation presents Rise Up! Girls.
So, Rise Up! Girls’ contestant Yan Qing was also Huo Corporation’s Yan Qing.
Shen Ge’s reasoning was always beyond the expectations of mere mortals.
Min Jing continued, “But Xingshang’s President Su and Wanjing’s President Lin both want to speak with you before they agree to appearing on the program. They’re on hold via video conference.”
“Connect the call.”
Huo Yunshen put the call on speaker phone. The screen split into three. President Su was twenty six years old, with a babyface. As soon as he was connected, he screeched, “Shen Ge, what are you up to? You, you want me and Xiao Lin, the three of us! You want us to forsake our comfortable offices, our 500 square feet king-sized beds, and go to a girls’ group competition to be judges?”
Huo Yunshen didn’t even blink. “Judge? Do you know how to judge?”
President Lin let out a gentle laugh, “Mr. Su, who are you calling Xiao Lin? Don’t embarrass yourself in front of Shen Ge. Shen Ge, I know what you mean. You don’t want us to be judges, you want us to be financial backbones. Using the role as sponsors, you want us to provide brand spokesperson opportunities and possible roles in movies. I’m sure that’s incentivizing enough for Chengfeng Videos and that set of girls. But, what is this all for?”
Huo Yunshen replied simply: “For my wife.”
And then hung up.
The phone rang again relentlessly. Huo Yunshen frowned and turned to Min Jing, “Explain the situation to them, if needed. Tell them to be on time tomorrow.”
Min Jing hadn’t thought about how to explain this. President Huo’s wife was in a girls’ group competition show. President Huo was worried that she’ll be bullied or suffer troubles, but he didn’t trust others to look after her, so he wanted to deploy his own troops to stand guard? But if Huo Corporation threw their resources into this, it might create rumours. So, he was afraid that his wife would be angry, which meant he was going to drag the two of them along as shields?
Min Jing busily prepared his narration in his head, as he saw Huo Yunshen grab his jacket and stand up. The hand he had on his desk swayed lightly as he stood.
Min Jing quickly asked, “Shen Ge, where are you headed? It’s getting dark, you haven’t truly rested in two days.”
Huo Yunshen’s back was perfectly upright. He looked completely fine, “Don’t bother with me. Don’t follow me.”
November nights were cold and with heavy winds. The winds blew straight into pedestrians’ bones.
Huo Yunshen drove to a well-known restaurant specializing in medicinal cuisine and selected some midnight meals. As he waited for everything to be packed up to go, he forced himself to eat some porridge. But just a few bites led to a retching feeling, leading him to push the meal away.
It’s been another six hours apart.
Qingqing didn’t respond to his message or phone calls. It was like she didn’t exist in his world.
He had only been reunited with her for just over a day. It still felt surreal. Every once in a while, he would think that this was all a dream. Every hug and every kiss, every warmth she’d given him, was all just a hallucination before his death.
Huo Yunshen wanted to see her. He didn’t want to wait until tomorrow, even if all he could do is catch a glimpse of her from the distance.
Yan Qing danced to Renai Circulation for about a hundred times. Sweat dripped down like rain. Her legs felt like spaghetti noodles.
Ou Yang energetically demonstrated a move to her, “Baby, for this part, you need to make sure your butt sticks out. Don’t be shy. Dancing is all about letting loose.”
Yan Qing lowered her head. Oh, dancing requires sticking out the butt…
She hated this.
Ou Yang clapped her hands to the beat, “Ready — stick it out! Sexy, adorable, both!”
Yan Qing’s body was moving on muscle memory now. She flipped her hair, stamped her feet, with her cheek rosy pink as sweat trickled down her forehead.
The other girls from Ou Yang’s group applauded for her, “Great! Great! I’m going back to sleep, you’re too beautiful! I can’t take it anymore!”
As everyone left, Ou Yang glanced at her watch, “Should we also go back and rest? It’s pretty late. We still need to get up early tomorrow. I heard that the filming site is being redesigned overnight. It seems that the program structure is being changed. They are bringing in another panel of judges, besides the original mentors, so scary.”
Yan Qing wiped her sweat with a towel, “Panel?”
“Yup, apparently they are all super big names. The staff is being very tight lipped about it. I’m guessing the ranking standards are going to be more strict now too.” Ou Yang said, “So let’s hurry up and sleep. We got to have enough mental energy for tomorrow. Your dancing has progressed well. Your abilities are enough for this dance.”
Yan Qing shook her head, “You go back first, I’m going to keep practicing for a while.”
Ou Yang couldn’t persuade her, so, she left first. Before closing the door she hollered, “Babe, then I’m gonna head out. If you need anything call me.”
Yan Qing waved. “Alright, see ya!”
Ou Yang shut the door behind her. She suddenly felt a chill, and shivered. She looked to her left and right but didn’t spot anything unusual. But why…did she feel like she could feel someone’s murderous glare?
Huo Yunshen stood in a distance, the veins in the hand holding his to-go meal bulged out.
After a few minutes, the sounds of the crowd disappeared from the hallways. The only sound left was the faint music seeping through from the practice room.
Huo Yunshen looked down, covering up his dark emotions. He slowly walked out of the shadows and towards the practice room. He pushed open the door slightly.
Yan Qing was working hard in front of the mirror. Her shirt was drenched from her sweat. As she danced to the music, her shirt moved too, revealing the snow white waist beneath.
Huo Yunshen clutched the metal door handle. Ruthless thoughts and grievances swirled in his chest.
She was his baby.
But, she was letting others call her that. In the future, thousands of men and women will be after her.
Huo Yunshen felt pain pricking from his temples. As he steadied himself, he hit the door and created a sound.
Yan Qing thought Ou Yang had returned. She copied her intimate greeting. “Babe, did you forget something?”
As she spoke, she looked up, and met the man’s eyes.
Yan Qing stumbled back in fright. Losing her balance, she was about to fall to the floor. Huo Yunshen quickly stepped forward and steadied her by the waist.
Her soft body met with his. She was the remedy to his suffering. With her in his arms, all torments were soothed. Unconsciously, he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her into a hug.
“!!!!!! Let go! There are cameras! They are filming!”
Huo Yunshen’s lips were near her ears, “Before coming here, I had them turn it off.”
Flustered, Yan Qing struggled away, “It’s still not okay. Just this afternoon, we had said intimate contact was excluded from negotiations! Could you have a bit of integrity, don’t always go back on your word! How hateful.”
Huo Yunshen slowly let go of her.
He didn’t want to be hateful.
Yan Qing took the chance to create distance between the two of them. Glancing at him, she awkwardly asked, “What are you doing here so late?”
Huo Yunshen sat down and pulled out the food container. The rich broth’s aroma filled the air, making Yan Qing gulp.
“Qingqing, come here, I brought food.”
Yan Qing’s stomach growled in agreement. She tried to cover her face from embarrassment, stubbornly saying, “I’m not hungry. Also, why does it sound like you’re calling a dog over.”
Huo Yunshen glanced up at her. He had a soft smile, “Not a dog, but a kitten.”
With his alluring voice, he earnestly called out, “Kitten Qingqing, come over here.”
Kitten Qingqing’s ears reddened and she shamelessly licked her lips.
What did this demon buy? It smelled so good!
Anyway, there isn’t anyone here. She’ll just…take one small bite. That’s not too humiliating right?
Yan Qing sluggishly walked over. She took the captivating food container out of President Huo’s hands. Chicken, vegetables, and stew. She cleanly finished it all.
Still not satisfied, she looked up to fill up a second bowl of chicken, meeting Huo Yunshen’s eyes. In his gaze, she saw constrained, burning desire.
Yan Qing hurriedly lowered her head. She haphazardly refilled her bowl and then pushed everything else away. “Don’t say I’m heartless. The rest is for you.”
Holding her bowl in her arms, she scooted away. With her back to Huo Yunshen, she hunched down and ate.
Huo Yunshen didn’t force her to turn around. With his back against the wall, he relaxed his posture with his eyes fixated on her.
Only half of the lights in the practice rooms were on. She and him both were seated in corners where there was no overhead lighting.
Two shadows were lengthened on the wall.
They were sitting so far apart. But, the shadows were close to each other.
Huo Yunshen lifted his hand. The him on the wall also lifted his arm. That shadow reached forward, gently but cautiously touching Yan Qing’s shadow.
They blended together, like they were hugging.
Huo Yunshen smiled.
Lightly he whispered, “Qingqing, when I came in, you called me ‘baby’.”
“I want to hear it again.”
“Just once more.”
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