No matter what the future held, she was acting as Mu Er now. A small timid girl who had never experienced the world, who would do anything for money as long as it didn’t betray her conscience.
“…I can’t.” Ning Ning rubbed her hair irritably. “I’m scared…”
“What are you scared of?” Pei Xuan said with a smile, “No risk, no reward. If you were to work normally, you would need to wash dishes for ten years before you could afford the leather boots you are wearing right now. If you were to work starting from the republic years until now, then you would be able to afford the house you are looking at now…”
“…That doesn’t seem to be the case?” Ning Ning scanned her surroundings, looking at every inch and corner. The Lian family members who were scattered around looked back at her with caution. She lowered her voice and said, “Do you see them? With this many people, I would at most get the toilet out of the (whole) inheritance.”
Pei Xuan sneered with disdain. “There are not more than five of them who could go up against you…why did you think Old Master Lian invited them over?”
Ning Ning looked at him doubtfully. She had a very bad feeling about this.
“Old Master Lian pretended to die,” Pei Xuan said, “even the will was fake. The reason he did that was to test his wife and children, to see if they loved him or his money. You saw the results, most of the people did not pass the test.”
Ning Ning could not help but widen her eyes as she pointed at him. “You…you…”
“That’s right, it was me.” Pei Xuan’s smile had a trace of pride. “The person who gave Old Master Lian the idea was me.”
…You actually thought up such a lousy idea, don’t tell me you are essentially a jerk?
Pei Xuan was of course a jerk.
He first got himself acquainted with the second son of the Lian family. The two of them once had quite a good relationship, else this playboy would not have agreed to acknowledge the illegitimate daughter he had outside—one had to know that she was not only an illegitimate daughter, she was the first one to be acknowledged into the family. In this period, Pei Xuan also got to know Old Master Lian through him. He then spent a period of time forging a friendship between generations. One day, Old Master Lian lamented that everyone beside him would say nice things while he was alive, he would not know what they would say after he had died.
“If you are interested in finding out,” Pei Xuan took advantage of the opportunity to mention it, “I have a solution.”
That was finally the end of the blockbuster show for the day.
But the show was not over, Old Master Lian was planning for season two of <>, all the leading actors and the actors that had failed the audition were given a little bit of a break as they were allowed to return to their homes.
On the way back, a man stood in front of Pei Xuan’s car to block him. After stepping on the brakes in time, the pale white headlights shone on the man, illuminating his face that was flushed from alcohol. His facial features were very similar to that of Lian Lian’s. He was a typical handsome man, and now his handsome face was twisted with rage. He hammered both his fists on the car and said in fury, “Pei Xuan, bitch, get out of the car this instant!”
“What’s the matter, second young master?” Pei Xuan winded down the window.
“You’re asking me what’s the matter?” The other party walked quickly to the window. He reached in and grabbed Pei Xuan’s collar. “What exactly happened today? Did the old man pretend to die? Was that deliberate? Was he…was he using it to test us?”
“Why are you asking me if you’ve seen through it?” Pei Xuan looked at him innocently.
The second son shuddered, fear slowly appearing on his face. “Then, then, what do I do?”
He was done for.
Ning Ning looked at him with pity. The rest of the people didn’t have it as bad, at least they had spoken behind closed doors. This guy was the only person who had shouted with the door open…
“About that, you did…sigh.” Pei Xuan had nothing to say to him. “Even if you wanted to shout, you should have at least closed the door before you did it, ah…What’s done cannot be undone. Unless you could prove that you were possessed, the old man would hate you for the rest of his life.”
“Now is not the time for sarcastic remarks!” The second son was enraged. He reached his hand into the car, seeming like he wanted to open the door and drag Pei Xuan out so that he could beat him up. Both his eyes were red, he said breathlessly, “Don’t think you will be fine if it doesn’t go well for me…and you!”
Those red eyes looked towards Ning Ning, laughing coldly. “If me as your father is finished, you as the cheap daughter would also be finished.”
Pei Xuan suddenly opened the door with force. The door had bashed onto the second son, he shouted and stumbled onto the snowy ground.
“You’re finished, she’s not.” Pei Xuan closed the door, smiling at the second son who was like an outcast. “Let’s make a bet, in the second will the old man would write up, there would probably not be your name, but it definitely would have hers.”
“That’s bullshit!” The second son quickly got up from the ground, but was greeted with a faceful of exhaust fumes. He gave chase for a few steps in anger, but in the end his legs could not outrun the wheels, he could only grab a handful of snow from the ground and helplessly threw it at the car that was getting further and further away.
There was a pair of eyes which stared at him from the car until his figure slowly disappeared into the night. She turned her head back and asked Pei Xuan with a complicated expression, “Was he your friend?’
“A bad friend.”
Ning Ning fell silent for a moment before asking, “Is he Lian Lian’s father?”
“…You could have told him.” Ning Ning looked at the side profile of Pei Xuan. “If you had told him that this was a test, at least he would not have shouted with the door open.”
“He is an idiot, I have never and will never work with idiots,” Pei Xuan said, “because idiots cannot be controlled—they cannot be controlled by others, they also cannot control myself. I will never know what his next step will be, maybe it would be shouting with the door open, or maybe doing CPR with the door closed.”
Ning Ning blinked her eyes, “You did not tell me beforehand as well, is it because I am an idiot in your eyes too?”
“…Not now.” Pei Xuan looked into her eyes deeply. “You can trick the old man, you might even be able to trick me in the future. You are a clever person, I am willing to work with you.”
Ning Ning fell silent.
Before Old Master Lian chased them off, he summoned them once again. This time, he did not summon all of them, he only summoned a portion of the people. Pei Xuan was right again. Including Ning Ning, there were exactly five of them. It didn’t take much to figure out that these five were the victors of the current audition and the leading actors for <> season two.
Ning Ning asked, “What do you want?”
In Lian Lian’s biography, the most important missing piece was Pei Xuan. He clearly had a huge influence on this incident. One could even say that he was the main instigator of the whole incident, but for some reason his existence was faint, or even wiped out—intentionally or not. Why?
Ning Ning did not believe that Pei Xuan would help anyone without expecting anything in return at all. He had a motive for everything he did—making use of his friend to get to know the Old Master, making use of Old Master Lian to conduct this test, what was next? What was he trying to use her for?
“…There’s no need to rush.” Pei Xuan slowly said as he drove, “First, I will give you a new name, a new identity, then we will talk about the future.”
Half an hour later in the rented apartment.
The door opened quietly, Ning Ning who had switched back into her regular outfit tiptoed into the apartment. Just as she was bending down to take off her shoes, the lights above her head were turned on.
Mu Gua stood by the wall, his finger was still on the light switch, looking down at her. “Why are you home so late?”