There were many types of mistress.
For the sake of not letting Mu Gua find her out, she best acted as one who was completely the opposite of Mu Er.
Elegant, demure, someone who was well-educated, someone who had good posture at all times, someone who would look straight at the other party—just like Yan Qing.
With these considerations, Ning Ning quickly adjusted her sitting posture and expression. She turned around and looked at Pei Xuan, with a restrained attitude of a lady she asked, “And this is?”
“A new servant.” Pei Xuan looked at her with an interested expression. “What do you think of him?”
Ning Ning turned and looked at Mu Gua, she smiled at him. “You look really young, how old are you?”
“…Sixteen.” Mu Gua answered, his eyes looked towards her hands on her knees.
However, Ning Ning had turned her hands over when she adjusted her sitting posture, her palms were facing up, the back of her hands were against her skirt so the injuries on the back of her hands were up against her skirt as well. He could not see the features that would easily expose her identity, unless he grabbed her hands and took a good look.
“Why are you not in school at this age?” Ning Ning asked gently, her voice had the tone of pity from an older more privileged person talking to a younger less privileged one. “Working at such a young age, did your family go through some difficulties?”
“…Yes.” Mu Gua peeked at her occasionally, his expression had traces of doubts, he seemed to be looking for similarities and differences between her and his sister.
Ning Ning was confident that she would not be noticed by him, but when she looked at Pei Xuan from the corner of her eye, she could not help but feel chills.
He was still looking at her with the same expression, now with a trace of coldness.
…What was she doing wrong?
No, it was not what she was doing wrong, it was that she was doing too much.
What kind of person was Mu Er? A pushover who grew up in a family which heavily valued sons over daughters. She was like any other teenager of the time, she too liked to idolise celebrities, she too wished to become an actress, but having a dream didn’t mean that she had the skills.
In reality, no matter how talented a person was, when they acted in front of a person for the first time, they would normally be too nervous to perform as they usually would. Unlike what Ning Ning did, getting into character in a short amount of time, being so proficient that it seemed like she had been on stage multiple times, as if she had acted in countless shows in the past.
“…I got it wrong!” Ning Ning’s back was covered in cold sweat after she figured it out. She thought to herself, “The one I am acting for is not Mu Gua at all, it’s Pei Xuan. As someone who has never acted before, I should not portray a perfect mistress in front of him. I want to portray a mistress that seems perfect but is actually full of flaws!”
Thus, as she spoke to Mu Gua, she started to slouch bit by bit.
Just like someone who had never had any practice, after forcing herself to sit up straight for some time, her back would start to ache and she would go back to her original sitting posture.
Pei Xuan cleared his throat softly from the side and asked gently, “Miss, are you tired?”
Ning Ning reflexively straightened her back and frowned, leaning back in frustration, even her manner of speech started to become lazy, “That’s right, I’m tired, I feel like drinking some water.”
She did not move as she said that, only looking at Pei Xuan in anticipation. Spoiled and arrogant, used to the attentive care of men.
“…Mu Gua.” Pei Xuan shifted his vision from her to Mu Gua. “Pour a glass of warm water for the Miss.”
“Yes.” Mu Gua immediately walked to the kitchen. He held a glass of water when he returned. “Miss, here is your water.”
Ning Ning watched as he handed the glass over. If she reached out to take it, her hands would be exposed to him, thus she looked at Pei Xuan. “I’m so tired that I cannot move a single finger.”
Pei Xuan glanced at her then took the glass of water out of Mu Gua’s hands, then fed her the water. Once they were halfway through the water, he turned and told Mu Gua, “You can leave for now.”
After Mu Gua left, he spun around the glass in his hand and looked at the lipstick left on the glass and smiled, “That will not do.”
Ning Ning tilted her head and looked at him. She had a look of someone who did not know how many flaws she had displayed just now,asking with anticipation and uneasiness, “How did I do just now?”
“Not bad.” Pei Xuan smiled, he conveniently picked up a napkin and wiped the glass, the lipstick stained the napkin.
Ning Ning had an awkward look on her face as she watched him. She turned her face away and asked, “…Right, why is my brother here?”
“I saw him looking for a job all over the place, he even looked for a job at the docks, it was pathetic.” Pei Xuan answered. “It just so happened that I had an opening here, so I hired him to work for me.”
“What can he help you with?” Ning Ning asked.
Pei Xuan pretended to think about it for a moment then smiled. “How about you act for him?”
Ning Ning pursed her lips. “I don’t know what you mean.”
“If even the people closest to you can’t recognise you,” Pei Xuan lifted her chin and stared at her like a snake, “that would mean your acting skill is passable… Right, let me drive you back. The way your little brother ran away that quickly, there is a very good chance that he is going to check if you’re at the hotel.”
Ning Ning, “…”
The car sped back to the hotel.
By the time Mu Gua rushed over, Ning Ning had already changed back into her original get up, looking at him with surprise as she washed the dishes. “What wind blew you over? Are you here to see me home?”
“…Who’s here for you?! I just happened to pass by!” That was what Mu Gua said, but he rolled up his sleeves and helped her wash the dishes.
The water flowed calmly, but her thoughts were not calm at all.
“What does Pei Xuan want me to do?” Ning Ning thought, “No, I should look at it from a different angle–what does he see in me?”
Good looks? There were so many people with good looks, she had not been grooming herself frequently in recent times. If a girl were to put all her efforts into working and not groom herself, she would be less charming in the eyes of a man.
Ticket bait? This was the biggest possibility. Was he falling back to his old plan? To build rapport through lies, make her despair, then intercept the tickets Life Theater sent her way?
…Then why was he dragging Mu Gua into this? Ning Ning looked at Mu Gua who was beside her.
“…Did you use the hand lotion I gave you?” Mu Gua asked as he washed the dishes.
“Yes.” Ning Ning said.
“Then go rest at the side.” Mu Gua immediately bumped her with his shoulder, knocking her away from the basin. He looked at her as if she was the black sheep of the family. “The hand lotion was very expensive, don’t waste it.”
“Then I won’t use it anymore.”
“…I’ve already bought it for you, just use it!”
The dishes were done amidst their bickering, Ning Ning and Mu Gua returned to their cramped rented house after bidding the boss goodbye. One of them took care of the still unconscious Chen Ju, the other went to the kitchen to warm up their dinner–this was a privilege from her job, they could bring home the leftovers from work.
“Little bro.” Ning Ning decided to probe about his situation over dinner. “You previously said you have a job, what are you doing specifically?”
His chopsticks froze in midair, Mu Gua answered without a change in expression, “I make props.”
Ning Ning, “…Huh?”
“Aren’t you entering showbiz in the future?” Mu Gua grabbed a portion of the side dish with his chopsticks as he laughed. “I will enter as a prop master first, I can guide you as a senior when you come in later.”
He said that so seriously that Ning Ning almost believed him. She wanted to laugh along with him, but she could not while knowing the truth. Thus, Mu Gua’s smile slowly faded from his face after he laughed for a long time. He asked her cautiously, “Is something the matter?”
“What does a prop master do?” Ning Ning asked.
“They prepare props for tv shows and movies.” Mu Gua answered.
Ning Ning, “Is it a period show or a modern show?”
Mu Gua, “Modern.”
“Oh, how do they make blood spurt out from a body when someone gets shot in the cops and robbers shows I usually watch?” Ning Ning asked.
Mu Gua, “…”
“Also, in the gangster show that you used to often watch, they had opposing gangsters fight with knives, they even mashed beer bottles over people’s heads.” Ning Ning asked, “Were those beer bottles real or fake?”
Mu Gua looked at her quietly and smiled, “They are fake of course.”
Ning Ning smiled as well, “I know that they are fake, but how are they made?”
They were made of sugar.
White sugar would be heated and melted, then poured into a wooden mold, they would be ready the next day.
“…They are made out of bubbles.” Mu Gua answered, then he put a big portion of a side dish in her bowl impatiently. “Alright alright. I just got started, I’m still doing odd jobs, I’ve yet to learn about most things. I’ll give you the answer after I have learned more from the prop master in a few days.”
“…Okay.” Ning Ning looked down and picked up some vegetables with her chopsticks, but she had no appetite, it tasted like wax in her mouth as she forced it down her throat. She said abruptly, “Let sis provide for you alright?”
The sounds of cutlery in front of her suddenly stopped.
“I will provide for you until you graduate from university,” Ning Ning said, “then you can look for a better job and provide for me after.”
The house fell silent, the sounds of cutlery rang out again after a short while, it sounded frantic and annoyed.
“I’m done.” Mu Gua gathered up his bowl and chopsticks, then walked towards the kitchen. His footsteps suddenly stopped as he got to the kitchen door, he said in a muffled voice, “…Give me some time.”
“Let me work for at least 2 months.” Mu Gua had his back to her, she could not see what expression he had on his face. “I will stop being a prop master after I get two months’ salary.”
What prop master, he was basically just a prop…
The next day, the two of them sneaked out of the house one after another then met each other again at Pei Xuan’s house.
Ning Ning changed into the clothings Pei Xuan had prepared for her again, she put on a showy lipstick, then sat on the sofa in the living room.
Two people were standing in front of her. One was Pei Xuan, polite and elegant, wearing a black suit. He reintroduced the person beside him just like the butler of the house would.
“This is Mu Gua, the new servant, he will serve you when I’m not around.” He smiled. “But I want to punish him because of the nonsense he said yesterday.”
Ning Ning fixed her gaze on the teenager in front of her.
He had also changed into another outfit—Pei Xuan probably had prepared it for him—it looked like the outfit of a servant from a western manor, it suited the little villa they were in.
On his face, was a mask.
A mask that had eyes but no mouth.
“As punishment,” Pei Xuan smiled by his side, “from now on, he can only listen and watch, he cannot speak.”