Kept in Captivity
Two days to go, everything was normal.
At the very least, they looked normal on the surface.
“Big Sister Little Ai.” Li Shan Zhu’s smiling face greeted her the moment the door opened, he was holding a plastic bag. “I brought breakfast for you.”
Breakfast was soy milk, fried dough fritters, fried sesame balls and red bean buns .
“You don’t like these?” He surveyed the look on Ning Ning’s face. “Are they too greasy? Do you want me to go downstairs to buy milk and bread?”
“No need, I don’t have much of an appetite this morning.” Ning Ning had only wanted to say that as a formality, but she actually lost her appetite very quickly.
Her phone which did not ring once the entire night suddenly rang now, it was also a call that brought her extremely bad news.
“You don’t have to come to the office today.” It was Zhang Xin Ai’s manager, Big Sister Wu, who said this with a heavy tone. There was a din around her. Ning Ning could somewhat hear someone shout, “What is the identity of the man who died in Zhang Xin Ai’s house?”
“Tell Zhang Xin Ai to come out and give us an explanation!”
“It was such a waste for I to treat her as a goddess, what had she been doing behind our backs?”
“Did the matter get out of hand?” Ning Ning asked, “Wasn’t everything fine yesterday?”
“It was fine, but last night, a lot of posts that slandered you suddenly appeared online, someone even called the press.” Big Sister Wu said bluntly, “Whom did you offend? This is someone trying to gravely screw you over.”
Li Shan Zhu sat at the corner of her eyes, gently nibbling on a bun like a girl.
“I’ll think of a way to suppress this, you should quickly give Big Brother Hai a call.” Her manager said in a low voice, “Big Brother Hai knows the heads of a few of the press.”
“Got it.” Ning Ning answered.
After the call ended, before she could give Big Brother Hai a call, Li Shan Zhu had already asked curiously, “Something the matter?”
“Something came up at the office.” Ning Ning took a glance at him.
“Hmm…” Li Shan Zhu looked like he wanted to say something.
“What’s wrong?” He was being very obvious, Ning Ning had to ask him as a matter of course, “Do you know something?”
“I couldn’t sleep last night, so I got on the internet. I saw that there were suddenly a lot of posts criticising you.” Li Shan Zhu muttered, “They said that you were a woman with loose morals, that you were having inappropriate relationships with men in and out of the business… I could not restrain my anger and fought with them.”
Ning Ning sniggered, she went over and rubbed his hair.
“Poor little thing. Look at you, veins are appearing on your eyeballs.” She said gently, patting him like she was patting her beloved pet, “Actually, you don’t have to fight with them, this incident will be over soon enough.”
“Really?” Li Shan Zhu looked at her in a naive and ignorant manner, as if he really did not know anything, as if the person who had spread the information online and called the press last night was really not him.
“Of course.” Ning Ning told him assuredly, “These types of gossip based on baseless accusations appear everyday, how many of them are real? They can’t even provide evidence, they can only discuss the matter blindly on the internet.”
Li Shan Zhu’s eyes sparkled for a moment, he asked her curiously, “Big Sister Little Ai, you’re really not sad at all?”
“My days might become difficult to get through, but it would only be for these few days.” Ning Ning sat back across the table, grabbing a red bean bun. “Do you think that those people who are criticising me don’t have to work, don’t have to earn money, don’t have to eat? I don’t believe that they would be able to stand guard in front of my office everyday, holding banners around to cause me unhappiness… Hmm! This bun is pretty tasty, I will eat it along the way.”
She chewed on the bun, looking like she couldn’t wait to leave the house.
Li Shan Zhu suddenly called out to her from behind, “Big Sister Little Ai.”
Ning Ning who was about to walk downstairs stopped in her tracks and looked back.
“You still have me.” Li Shan Zhu stood at the doorway, both hands were balled up into fists. Like a boy who was about to profess his love to a girl, he finally worked up the courage and shouted at her, “If you find that the days are hard, then come back here, I will protect you.”
Ning Ning gazed at him for a while before suddenly flashing a smile. She took out the bun from her mouth and asked, “Protecting me in your brother’s steed?”
Li Shan Zhu was taken aback. He then smiled, a smile so small that it was unclear whether he was happy or sad, nodding. “Yes, I will protect you in my brother’s steed.”
“…Alright.” Ning Ning’s smile was also small, it looked like she was giving her promise, it also looked like she was just casually saying, “If I find that the days are hard, I will come to rely on you and ask for your support. ”
She did not think that her days would actually become really hard.
After leaving Li Shan Zhu’s house, she once again adorned her shades, face mask and hat as she took a taxi back home. When she was about ten meters away, she saw that there was a crowd below her building.
…This was terrible, her home address had been leaked.
Among those people were reporters and hardcore fans. One of them was burning all sorts of things at the side—things like Zhan Xin Ai’s poster and movie discs—black smoke was billowing. The reporters at the side took photos enthusiastically, Ning Ning only took one look before she told the driver, “Turn back.”
Going over now would only get herself into trouble, what would she do if the fans get rowdy and burn her along with her merchandise?
“Where to now?” The driver asked her.
Where should she go next? Ning Ning grabbed her phone. “Drive straight for now, I’ll make a call.”
She gave Big Brother Hai a call first.
He answered after the phone rang ten times, his voice sounded lazy and impatient. “I’m in a meeting right now, call me back later… Clack, doo, doo, doo—”
Ning Ning rolled her eyes before giving Little Ke a call.
Little Ke, on the other hand, answered very quickly, but his tone was ice cold, “What is it?”
Hearing his unfriendly tone, Ning Ning softened her voice and asked, “What is it? You believe those rumours on the internet as well?”
“Heh heh. A man died at your house, you should give me an explanation. What happened there?” Little Ke laughed coldly.
“You forgot that there was a key in my door?” Ning Ning reminded him, “A hardcore fan had secretly duplicated my key and snuck into my house.”
“Ah.” Little Ke remembered that incident after she reminded him, his tone became more gentle, “So that’s what happened, then…are you alright?”
“He forced me to be his girlfriend. I didn’t agree, I ran away while he wasn’t paying attention.” Ning Ning sighed. “Who knew that when I got someone to come back and take a look with me, we would discover that he had already killed himself in my bathroom.”
“This person truly deserved to die. It’s one thing to die, his death has to bring you so much trouble.” Little Ke said angrily, “Those people who spread rumours on the internet as well, they also deserve to die.”
“It’s a pity that most people would believe in the rumours and not me.” Ning Ning said melancholically, “Weren’t you the same way just now?”
Little Ke cursed and swore frantically, wishing that he could immediately fly over to her and dig out his heart and lungs for her to see.
“Alright,” Ning Ning sniggered a little, “I forgive you. Right, is your house at Hubin District still empty?”
As the son of the richest man in the area, Little Ke barely stayed at school. Most of the time, he would live in the big house his rich father bought for him. He used to always invite Zhang Xin Ai to stay over for a couple of days in the past, but Zhang Xin Ai had always looked for a reason to reject him. Now that Ning Ning who was wearing the skin of Zhang Xin Ai had brought it up proactively, he instead hesitated for a bit. “…I had already lent it out, rented it out.”
Such a clumsy excuse, but Ning Ning did not intend to expose him, she said regretfully, “If that’s the case then forget it. I’ll look for another place to stay.”
“Why are you not going home?”
“There are a lot of reporters and hardcore fans outside of my house.”
“Then…I’ll rent out a place for you?”
“No need, I’ll think of a way.” Ning Ning hung up. She told the driver who had been waiting for her, “Continue to drive back to the place where I boarded the car.”
They circled around and returned to their starting point.
Li Shan Zhu seemed to have long predicted that she would come back. Before Ning Ning could knock on the door, he had already opened it and greeted her with a smile, “Big Sister Ai, you’re back.”
…Don’t tell me you had been standing behind the door all this while, looking through the peephole? Ning Ning kept this sentence to herself. She took off her shoes and entered. The ceiling fan spun above their heads leisurely, Li Shan Zhu placed a glass of cold water in front of her.
“Some people were so hard to shake off whenever I wanted to shake them off in the past. Now that I’m in trouble, they will break contact with me before I can say anything.” Ning Ning picked up the glass of water and drank a mouthful of water. She turned and smiled at Li Shan Zhu. “Don’t you think a woman like me is sad and ridiculous?”
She saw no trace of surprise on his face.
That was also to be expected.
Big Brother Hai and Little Ke could not have had such a big change in their attitudes because of a few rumours online, there had to be a certain person who called them and divulged some evidence—conclusive evidence that would be able to prove her bad nature.
How did this person get Big Brother Hai and Little Ke’s phone numbers?
It was very simple, he had taken a look at her phone while she was taking a shower.
“Big Sister Little Ai.” He squatted in front of her like a golden retriever, placing both his hands on her legs and looking up at her, his eyes were full of attachment and consolation. “You still have me. I’m different from those people, I will stand by your side no matter when.”
Ning Ning looked at him with a complicated expression.
“I might not have much money, but I can cook.”
“I can also do things like wash the dishes and fix computers.”
“I will scold whoever scolds you, no matter if it’s in real life or on the internet.”
Li Shan Zhu carefully placed his face on her leg, then blissfully squinted his eyes.
“Once I graduate from school, I will work and earn money.” He rested his head on Ning Ning’s leg, his blissful expression looked like he was having a sweet dream, he mumbled dreamily, “One day I will become very reliable, like Big Brother… No, more reliable than Big Brother…Big Sister Little Ai, I beg you, rely on me.”
Ning Ning looked down and thought, Zhang Xin Ai, exactly what kind of person did you mess with?
Everything that had happened before, were they a string of coincidences, or were they a string of calculated events? Were they a string of natural disasters or were they a string of man-made disasters?
“Zhang Xin Ai, you’ve met your match.” Ning Ning looked at Li Shan Zhu who was nestled on her leg like a pet, thinking to herself, “If everything was according to his plan, then he was planning on pushing you to the edge, then raise you in captivity like a pet.”
Adore you, protect you, feed you; but he would not allow you to leave this house, he would not allow you to show yourself outside, he would not allow you to have any intimate interactions with the opposite or even the same gender; it would be best that you were spat on by society, best that you had no home to return to and could only come back here.
“…Make lunch for me.” Ning Ning said. When Li Shan Zhu looked up at her, she smiled mischievously. “I will consider it if lunch is good.”
Li Shan Zhu’s eyes brightened, he frantically jumped up and ran towards the kitchen, “It’s a promise…”
He rummaged through his cupboards and fridge before rushing out with an awkward expression. “What do you want to eat? I will go buy the groceries now.”
“Make what you are best at.” Ning Ning supported her chin with her hand. “Make less of it. I might have to eat it everyday eventually, I don’t want to get sick of it too quickly.”
Li Shan Zhu was stunned, his face turning red with excitement. He nodded with all his might, then grabbed his wallet and went out.
After watching him leave, the smile on Ning Ning’s face slowly faded away. She took her phone out.
Zhang Xin Ai was willing to spend her days like this? No, she would not give up this easily before contacting every single man on her phone. From her point of view, every single man was a toy for her entertainment, they were also a chip for her to get out of a pinch.
The phone rang for a while. The moment Wen Yu’s voice rang out from the other side, Ning Ning started crying with chagrin, sobbing. “Will you feel guilty if I jump off a building right now?”