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Charming Atelier

“I’m taking on this script.” Chen Shuang He put the script in his hand down.

Director Chen sat across him with a magazine in hand. “Do you want the role of the elder brother or the younger brother?”

Among the brothers in <<Elder Brother’s Woman>>, the elder brother was a famous artist, he spent money as if it were water, he was also romantic and sentimental; the younger brother was a student instead, he was studying in the Chinese department in a university, he loved to read and write, he was silent and moody.

“This pair of brothers pose no difficulty to me at all if I were to act as them separately.” Chen Shuang He laughed. ”How about letting me act as both of them at the same time?”

Director Chen looked at the person beside him. “What do you think?”

A reticent man was sitting beside him—Li Shan Zhu, a tier one scriptwriter in the country. <<Elder Brother’s Lover>> was his work.

He was well known as a man of few words. If he could express himself in three words, he would never use a fourth. He pushed his black-framed glasses up and said to Chen Shuang He, “Show me?”

“Which part?” Chen Shuang He smiled confidently, he extended the script to the other so the other could pick.

“Wait.” Director Chen suddenly picked up his mobile phone. “Since we are holding an audition, why not bring the female lead here.”

The phone rang for a few times before a woman’s voice answered.

“Is this Ning Ning?” Director Chen said with a laugh, “Have you had your dinner? It’s good that you have. Are you free at the moment? Can you come over to my house? Yes, it’s regarding the script.”

Ning Ning arrived at Director Chen’s house in no time.

The maid opened the door for her. Just as she entered the hall, before she could greet anyone, Director Chen pointed at her from where he was. “Hold it. Don’t move. Walk over here in Little Ai’s manner.”

Little Ai was the female lead character for <<Elder Brother’s Lover>>—her full name was Zhang Xin Ai.

In her character specifications, she was a woman who was universally adored. What kind of woman could achieve such a feat? Ning Ning thought she must be very beautiful, she would also smile a lot.

She cracked a smile and walked leisurely towards them. She did not make any seductive gestures, because a woman who was too dissolute in public would be met with disgust. Little Ai dissolutions should only be expressed privately, in front of certain people.

Li Shan Zhu stared at her as she walked over. It was only when Director Chen had gently bumped him with his arm that he closed his eyes, then he slowly opened them and said, “Location: Atelier. Time: After the elder brother had gone missing. Plot: The younger brother was tidying up the old paintings in his brother’s atelier. Little Ai came over, seduced him and managed to draw his interest.”

Director Chen clapped his hands as if he was on set, “A!”

Both actors were startled at the same time.

Chen Shuang He was the first to come back to his senses. He got up and took a few steps before stopping. There was nothing in front of him but he raised his hand, flipping through sheets—as if there was an easel in front of him, as if there were a few pieces of drawing on it.

He suddenly stopped flipping and stared at the painting in front of him intently.

“The painting and me, which is more beautiful?” A woman’s voice suddenly rang out from behind him.

Chen Shuang He was startled. He looked back at her then swiftly looked down bashfully. His was stammering as though he was not used to interacting with women, “Why, why are you here?”

Ning Ning stood behind him and stared at the empty space in front of them as if there was really an easel, a painting. She looked at the painting, her expression looking more and more like she was ruminating. She placed a hand on Chen Shuang He’s shoulder and spoke softly and sweetly, “Looks like the me in the painting is more beautiful? Because I’m not wearing anything?”

“That’s not it!” Chen Shuang He answered anxiously.

Ning Ning looked at him in astonishment.

There were a lot of people who could portray anxiety, but not many people could do it like he did, his face had even turned red from it.

From this reaction…it seemed like someone had hit the nail on the head.

To cover up his reddened face, he hung his head low. A pair of hands reached out from in front of him, lifting up his scalding hot face.

He was facing her, but his eyes started to wander around.

“Do you want to paint one?”

His eyes stopped moving and fixed themselves on her face.

The hands that were originally on his face slowly retracted. Like a swan folding up its wings, beautiful and graceful as if she was dancing, her fingertips landed on either side of her shoulders, little by little pulling open the coat on her, revealing her soft and round shoulders…

At this time, at this moment, he was already unable to look away from her…

“Cut.” Director Chen’s voice suddenly rang out. He turned his head to look at Li Shan Zhu. “What do you think?”

Not only was Li Shan Zhu a man of few words, he also did not have opinions of his own either, he did not like to say anything that would offend anyone. He pushed his black-framed glasses, giving the initiative back to Director Chen. “What do you think?”

“Me?” Director Chen smiled vaguely, his eyes shifted onto the two people in front of him and he said blandly, “Neither of them pass.”

Both of them were flabbergasted.

“Let’s talk about you first.” Director Chen said to Chen Shuang He, “Once you had walked into the atelier, what did you see?”

“…Little Ai’s portrait.” Chen Shuan He composed himself and answered.

“How many pieces are there?” Director Chen asked.

“A lot.” Chen Shuang He answered according to his previous actions, “They were on the walls, on the easel; incomplete ones, complete ones; all of them are of her…”

As he said that, he suddenly winced.

“Now answer me,” Director Chen coldly asked, “what does that mean?”

“They are all portraits of her…” Chen Shuang He said with difficulty, “Elder Brother must have really loved her.”

As a scholarly youth, the younger brother was slender, sensitive and melancholic, he should have been able to figure out something so obvious with one look.

Once he figured it out, would he still be seduced by Little Ai?

“You were too easily seduced.” Director Chen shook his head. “Even if the elder brother was not around, his paintings were still around. With those paintings staring at you—as a younger brother who loves and respects your elder brother—how could you be so easily seduced?”

Chen Shuang He could not help but grit his teeth. He looked at Li Shan Zhu who was drinking tea at the corner of his eyes.

Time: After the elder brother had gone missing. Location: Atelier.

So you either don’t speak or you set traps with every word you say!

“And you.” Director Chen turned his attention to Ning Ning. “Tell me, what is Little Ai best at?”

Ning Ning thought about it carefully, “Putting on a front.”

Of the pair of brothers, one of them was smart, the other was sensitive—yet, both of them would be deceived, dancing on the palms of Little Ai. Let alone anyone else, everyone held the opinion that Little Ai was a good woman through and through. There were a few doubts on occasions that she had easily swatted away, she was two-faced to the letter.

“A woman who specialises in putting on a front, a woman who has a watertight facade, would she start to strip for the younger brother so he could paint inside an atelier which allow anyone to walk in at any moment?” Director Chen asked her.

“…She wouldn’t,” Ning Ning said with difficulty, “she would not take such a risk and would have used a safer method to seduce the younger brother.”

“That’s right. Go back and think about the details carefully. You have the script, right? Return and look at it more once you get home today, get a grasp of this character.” Director Chen turned and looked at Li Shan Zhu. “Will that do?”

Li Shan Zhu nodded silently.

Ning Ning had wanted to discuss the script and her character with Li Shan Zhu, but she could barely squeeze anything out of him. He would just acknowledge her or tell her to speak most of the time, he himself was unwilling to speak.

There was no point in such discussion, it would be better for her to go over the script by herself at home. After speaking for a while longer, Ning Ning said her farewell and left.

Unexpectedly, Chen Shuang He stood up at the same time. “Let me send you.”

Did the sun rise from the west? Ning Ning gave him a strange look. “Wouldn’t that trouble you?”

“Let’s go.” Chen Shuang He picked up his car keys.

He was a big star, but Ning Ning wasn’t. Thus, when they went out, Ning Ning would only wear a pair of sunglasses—he, on the other hand, would wear the full set of sunglasses, face mask and hat, only taking his sunglasses off in the car. As the Cayenne1 sped along the road—within the completely sealed car—he suddenly spoke, his voice rang out from behind the face mask, “<<Elder Brother’s Lover>> is adapted from a true story, the female lead was Li Shan Zhu’s ex-girlfriend.”

Ning Ning turned around and looked at him.

“If I’m not wrong, the younger brother character should be Li Shan Zhu himself.” Chen Shuang He touched on the subject lightly while he drove. “Let’s book a room tonight.”

Ning Ning stumbled in her seat, the pair of sunglasses on her face became slanted, “Book, book a what?”

“Book a hotel room, then go over the script together.” Chen Shuang He did not turn and look at her as he was driving. He continued to look towards the front, but his tone was very serious, it didn’t sound like he was joking. “He did not say much tonight because he thought that both of us had acted poorly, thus he had nothing to say.”

“…Based on your popularity and acting skills, if you don’t land the role of the male lead, who else could do it?” Ning Ning asked. Sometimes, a person’s acting skills and popularity would not be at the same level—an actor and a star are two different professions. Chen Shuang He, who had both acting skills and popularity, was a top-tier celebrity, he was seemingly irreplaceable.

“The male lead role is definitely mine, but I’m not satisfied.” Chen Shuang He stopped the car in front of the red light, turning his head to stare at her, “What about you? Are you satisfied with this?”

Ning Ning hesitated for a while.

Of course she wasn’t satisfied, but…getting a hotel room with the movie emperor in the middle of the night?

After considering it carefully, she shook her head. “It’s getting late today, next time.”

Chen Shuang He’s eyes twinkled, he said blandly, “Alright.”

The Cayenne stopped at the foot of Ning Ning’s apartment building. Once she politely bid him farewell and watched the car leave, she did not go upstairs back home. For some inexplicable reason, she raised her hand. A taxi had stopped in front of her, she got in the car and closed the door. “35 Rouge Street.”

She was filled with doubt once she said that.

She did not have tickets on hand anymore, why was she still going to Life Theater?

“Stop…” She opened her mouth, but when the driver turned around, for some reason, she swallowed her words. “Nothing, continue driving.”

The car started and sped towards the neon lights in front of them.

At this time, a Cayenne slowly turned out from the corner of the street. Like a spirit of the night, it followed the taxi silently.

Within the Cayenne, Chen Shuang He looked at the taxi in front of him silently, watching the woman in the car.

Acting skills that improved in leaps and bounds.

Acting skills that were reborn overnight.

It happened to Ning Yu Ren, it happened to her too.

“Tonight.” Chen Shuang He’s eyes narrowed. “I will find your secret out.”

1The Porsche Cayenne is a mid-size luxury crossover sport utility vehicle produced by the German manufacturer Porsche since 2002, with North American sales beginning in 2003. Wiki link

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