“Where should I send you?” Chen Shuang He asked blandly, “Your house, or that movie theater?”
Ning Ning took a look at him and felt her head hurting a little, he was still hung up over Life Theater.
But upon further consideration, after experiencing such a strange night—witnessing a fight comparable to a fantasy film at the entrance first hand—if one were to be able to ignore that…then that person definitely either had amnesia or dementia.
“Wait.” Ning Ning looked out of the window as she shouted abruptly, “Stop here.”
The Cayenne stopped. Ning Ning opened the door and walked into a little bookstore by the road. The internet flourished in the modern day, paper media had been on a decline. Therefore, although it was the weekend, besides the cashier who was dozing off, the only other things in the shop were the books that were silently sleeping on the shelves.
Ning Ning stopped in front of a bookshelf. Seeing that the book she wanted was a little bit high up, she stood on her tiptoes, but it was not enough.
A hand reached out from behind her and brought the book down.
Ning Ning looked back. Chen Shuang He was standing behind her, flipping through the book then shrivelled his mouth. He closed the book up with both hands and looked up at the tall shelf in front of him as he asked, “What else?”
Evening, entrance of Life Theater.
The movie theater had even less customers compared to the bookstore. Boss Qu was sitting on the steps of the entrance, he slowly looked up, “…Why are you here again?”
Ning Ning shoved a big bag at him, “I’m here to give you guys something.”
“…What are you giving us?” Boss Qu opened the bag to have a look.
“Novels.” Ning Ning placed her hands behind her as she smiled. “While you and Shi Tou Ge are in prison—no, you can read them while you are bored. I recommend <<Three Kings One Queen>>, <<Colorful Bone>> and <<I have a Unique Sleeping Technique>>. Simple and pure romance works by Her Highness, Nightmare are very good, they’re especially sweet.”
Boss Qu, “…”
Holding up the colourful romance novels, Boss Qu’s eyes showed a trace of dislike, but he did not want to reject her, so he could only warmly say, “Alright, I’ll keep the books, you should go.”
“Okay…” Ning Ning turned around and took two steps before she suddenly turned back and asked, “That’s right, who opened this movie theater?”
“What are you asking this for?” Boss Qu seemed to not want to answer her question, he would rather read the romance novel in his hand.
“Land is so valuable, every piece of land in this city belongs to someone.” Ning Ning looked at Life Theater under the setting sun. “It would not be an exception.”
Everything about Life Theater was mysterious and strange, Ning Ning often felt small and powerless being near it, as if she was inside the stomach of a whale, the peristaltic stomach walls felt like it would excrete stomach acid anytime, melting her and the other masked people like food.
She decided to not think from within this stomach but from the outside, to look for the owner of this land, the owner of this movie theater.
She had this idea, Chen Shuang He seemed to have this idea as well.
A fortuitous chance. Ning Ning found out that he seemed to have found something after getting someone to check up on the landowners for the movie theater, but he was unwilling to share it with her.
Shooting for <<Big Brother’s Lover>> had started. They had tender affection for each other in the show, but they wouldn’t talk to each other outside of the show unless it was necessary. Ning Ning did not know where his hatred for her came from, but she was not about to court an unwilling audience.
In reality, she had something else that was bothering her at the moment.
“You’re here, have a seat.” Director Chen said to Ning Ning while grinning from ear to ear.
Ning Ning sat across from him, the man beside him smiled at her in a friendly manner. His face was quite familiar, but she could not remember who he was exactly at the moment. That was until Director Chen said, “Let me introduce you, this is Rising Dragon Technologies’ President Li.”
“Hello, Miss Ning.” President Li shook hands with her. “I saw you in <<The Great Empire>>, you acted really well, my family and I love the show.”
It turned out that he was a famous young millionaire on the wealthy list. Ning Ning shook his hands frantically, she heard Director Chen laugh as he said, “President Li is young and promising. Because he has been focusing on his work, he still has no girlfriend at the moment. His mother and I know each other, even I am getting anxious for him.”
…Wait a minute, why was there a strong sense of matchmaking?
Ning Ning started to feel awkward. She took glances at Director Chen as she dealt with President Li’s passion, shouting in her heart, “Director Chen! What has happened to you Director Chen? Why did you suddenly become a busybody, trying to be a matchmaker for me? …This, this is completely out of character!”
“Oh, look at me.” Seeing that Ning Ning was giving him looks repeatedly, Director Chen slapped his thigh. “What is an old man like me sitting here for? Alright, I’m leaving. You two young people should relax a little, have a nice chat.”
…No!! Don’t go, Director Chen!!
Ning Ning took great pains to send President Li away, but Director Chen introduced another man to her soon after, a pretty good actor. Although he was not popular, he had a good reputation in the business, he wasn’t a celebrity that looked good on the outside but was rotten on the inside.
The matchmaking ended, Director Chen called Ning Ning over. He asked with a pleased expression, “What do you think?”
I think I’m going to feel drunk soon.
“Director Chen.” Ning Ning took a deep breath, looking at him with an extremely rigid expression. “What exactly are you trying to do?”
“I’m trying to get you a boyfriend.” Director Chen said with a smile. “Little Wu is not a bad person. He’s a very honest man, he doesn’t fool around. Moreover, you two are in the same line of work, you would have a common topic if you were to be together, you should really consider him.”
“There’s nothing to consider.” Ning Ning flatly rejected him.
“Why?” Director Chen said in a guiding manner, “A modern female star does not have to be what they were in the past where they had to stay single or hide their marriage, otherwise, they would lose fans. Nowadays, if you were to find someone, you can show off your love for each other and go on the news for it. After you have a child, you can even go on <<Where Are We Going, Dad?>>1 together and gain even more fans.”
…Oh my God! He had even considered up to the child stage!!
“Child? It doesn’t exist…oh that’s not right.” Ning Ning felt so awkward that she could not even speak properly. “What I mean is, I don’t intend to get a boyfriend for now, not to mention giving birth to a child. My career is my priority, career comes first, hahaha…”
“Career comes first, then all the more you should fall in love.” Director Chen said sternly, “Don’t you think that your current Zhang Xin Ai is lacking a little something?”
“What is it lacking?” Ning Ning asked in surprise.
A crew member walked past them right at this moment, they were holding a rose prop. Director Chen took it out of their hand and handed it to Ning Ning.
“A little fervour.“ Director Chen smiled. “I cannot help you with that, no one can help you with that, only you can experience it yourself when you are in love.”
Ning Ning stared at the rose in her hand for a while. She said with some discomfort, “I had fallen in love before…”
“When, who?” Director Chen let out a cold laugh, “A crush in highschool doesn’t count—no, as long as you are not willing to die for him, none of them would count.”
…Based on your standards, she should stay single to keep herself safe. What was so bad about being single? At least she would not have to die!
“What about you?” Ning Ning with angst, “Have you ever loved anyone like that?”
Director Chen hmph-ed, “You’re asking the obvious.”
He left a rose holding Ning Ning behind. Director Chen walked into the rest area with his hands clasped behind his back. He saw that there was a person waiting for him after he walked in.
“Father.” Chen Shuang He had a very bad expression on his face. He sat on the sofa with a tea cup in hand, the tea was filled to the brim, he had not taken a single sip. “If you want to find a boyfriend for her, can you put it off until we finish shooting the movie? With you messing around, she will get distracted.”
“There’s only a week of filming left, why else would I try to introduce a boyfriend to her?” Director Chen sat across from him, looking at Chen Shuang He with a smile. “I know what other people are saying behind our backs. They said that she’s like my biological daughter, while you are like a stepchild. What’s the matter? These gossip are getting to you?”
Chen Shuang He kept his mouth shut.
“You don’t even need me to find a girlfriend for you, don’t you have quite a number of suitors?” Director Chen smiled as he shook his head.
“I…” Chen Shuang He did not finish speaking before a phone rang. Director Chen answered the phone then got up and said, “I’ll take this outside.”
“Another matchmaking prospect?” Chen Shuang He said sarcastically after staying silent for a while.
“That’s right, another matchmaking prospect.” Director Chen sighed. “I hope I will succeed this time, the little lady has quite the high expectations…”
He rambled on as he left. Behind him, Chen Shuang He was looking down, his hands that were placed on his knees slowly curled into fists. He said in a repressed volume, “When will you be able to care that much about me…”
A powerless despair was exuding out of Chen Shuang He’s heart. Why did he work so hard for? What had he gotten for his hard work? His side view was reflected in the window, looking so much like his mother. His mother was always like this. Sitting hunched by the window, the table would be laid with his father’s favourite dishes. They went from warm to cold, cold to warm, the sky darkened then it brightened again, he had stayed out all night again. When she asked where he had been, he would answer impatiently, “Don’t bother me, I am filming.”
Director Chen abandoned his mother, then abandoned him. No matter how much the mother and son pair did for him, he would be blind to it, he would only ever have eyes for his movies, and his Phantom.
A flash of lightning flashed across outside the window, the surroundings turned white, Chen Shuang He’s side profile also turned white.
The sky and the land was getting connected by drops of rain, umbrellas opened one after another like blooming flowers.
One of those black flowers belonged to Director Chen, beside him was a white flower. Ning Ning stood under the flower with a face of awkwardness, shaking the hand of a man Director Chen introduced. After exchanging a few words, Ning Ning shifted her umbrella above the head of the other party and walked to the door with him.
Chen Shuang He stood in front of the window as he coldly watched the events unfold.
As if she felt it, Ning Ning stopped in her tracks and took a look in his direction.
“Let me woo you.” Divided by the window, divided by the rain, Chen Shuang He pressed a hand on the ice cold window sill, muttering at Ning Ning who was faraway, “Make you fall in love with me, marry me, then leave the entertainment industry to cook, wash and give birth for me at home… He will never get the phantom he wants.”
1Where Are We Going, Dad? is a Chinese reality TV show broadcast on Hunan Television. Based on the original South Korean reality show Dad! Where Are We Going? It’s basically a reality show where a male celebrity gets left alone with their child or children for a period of time as the production crew film the process. Wiki article
Additional Note: Every single novel Ning Ning recommends to Boss Qu in this chapter are actual works of the author of this novel.