It was just three words, why were they so hard to say?
“It’s just three words.” Shi Zhong Tang smiled coquettishly. “Are they that hard to say? Here, say them with me—Shi Zhong Tang, Shi Zhong Tang, Shi Zhong Tang, Shi Zhong Tang…”
“You are my friend.” Ning Ning finally spoke, trying hard to look for a reason for her actions. “Pei Xuan had turned you into this, how could I let him off easily?”
“It’s not that bad here.” Shi Zhong Tang shrugged in a relaxed manner. “There are a lot of movies I can watch everyday, sometimes I would occasionally see very interesting customers. Moreover, I’ve told you long ago, even if I had never met you, even if I had never met Pei Xuan, I would have eventually ended up here.”
Ning Ning looked at him with some grievances, “What I’ve done for you…are you not happy about it at all?”
She had finally admitted it.
My revenge…was for you.
“You want me to praise you? Of course I would praise you.” Shi Zhong Tang reached out and brought her into his arms and whispered sweet nothings into her ear.
“…I didn’t do these things for you to praise me.” Ning Ning struggled to get out of his arms. She got up too violently and knocked down the chair behind her.
Like dominos, the carved chairs fell down one by one and fanned out behind her.
She was standing, he was sitting, the two of them looked at each other for a while. Shi Zhong Tang slowly placed his hand on his chest, he told her in a twittering manner, “Sorry. I have suddenly realised that I don’t seem to be as open-minded as I thought I was.”
Ning Ning looked at his disappointed looks, the fire that had been lit in her heart had suddenly been extinguished again. She walked over, held his hand and asked, “What’s wrong?”
“I can watch our <<The Person Within the Painting>> repeatedly for dozens or hundreds of times.” He looked up at her. “But when I saw you wipe Mu Gua’s body, I wish I could send you an oven immediately so you can put him in and bake him dry!”
Ning Ning was stunned.
“But that’s also a good thing.” He smiled, the peach colour at the corner of his eyes brightened. “Possessiveness, a proof that I really love you.”
“…You are teasing me again.” Ning Ning looked away, unable to look into his eyes. “Didn’t you say, even if you didn’t meet me, you would have eventually ended up here anyway?”
“Just like you said, I am your friend, so you took revenge for me.” Shi Zhong Tang smiled. “Things like revenge take time and energy, there are no rewards. It’s just getting back at the person, who would get back at someone for just a friend? In the end, both you and me, we are both just lying to ourselves.”
“…I’m not.” Ning Ning pursed her lips, as if to prove that she was speaking the truth, she stared at him in his eyes. “I’m not!”
“You’re not lying if you say so, but I am.” Shi Zhong Tang said. He pulled her hand to his lips. Long and slender fingers, a jade mask, he seemed to want to gently take a bite, but was blocked off by the mask. He could only gently, regretfully, distressfully tried his absolute best to endure while he mumbled, “So hungry…”
You are always in the light, I am always drowning in the darkness, waiting for you, waiting for your answer.
…You have finally answered me, it’s just that you gave too little., I have been waiting too long in the darkness, my stomach has already been gurgling. This little bit of love, it’s like a nibble of a cookie, it wasn’t filling, I feel more hungry…
“So hungry?” Ning Ning said doubtfully. Did masked people need to eat? Or was it because he entered the theater because of an accident, so his digestive system was different from the others? “What do you want to eat? I’ll buy it for you.”
“…You cannot come back in after you leave.” Shi Zhong Tang smiled. “What did you bring with you?”
As an actress, Ning Ning had to constantly watch her diet, how could she be bringing snacks with her? Ning Ning rummaged through her bag and took out a piece of chewing gum. “Do you want this?”
Shi Zhong Tang accepted it with a smile, but did not eat it.
The moment the mask replaced his face, his mouth was unable to eat, his lips unable to kiss the girl he loved.
“The night is long, I’ll slowly savour it.” Shi Zhong Tang waved the chewing gum in his hand.
The night is long, I don’t know when you’ll be here the next time. Before you come back, I will use it as your substitute—but it will never be able to replace you, so you have to come back quickly. Come back soon, don’t let me go crazy with hunger…
<<Dreams of the Future>> ended.
After she came out of the theater, Ning Ning returned home in a rush.
She first gave Lian Lian a call. “Hello? Is this Lian Lian?”
A man’s voice rang out, “You have the wrong number.”
Ning Ning breathed a sigh of relief once the person hung up. She turned on her computer and began searching for information on the Lian family. As a famous family rife with infighting, there were quite a number of novels and shows which had used them as reference material, information about their fights remained everywhere.
It was just that information on Lian Lian was few and far between.
Although she still had her good looks, she had long been married to a boss of a media company. She had escaped from the whirlpool of infighting, starting a business together with said boss. She would occasionally appear in the economic section—not the gossip section—which was why she didn’t attract that most netizens’ attention much.
“The future has changed.” Ning Ning took a deep breath. To further confirm that this was true, she sent a message to her manager, Li Bo Yue, on WeChat.
[Has the male lead for <<Trial of the Witch>> been confirmed?]
Initially, she thought that she would only get a reply the day after, but when the message was sent, he immediately replied. It looked like Li Bo Yue had been cultivating1 again tonight…ah no, worked overnight again tonight.
[Whose film? Where did you get that information?]
Looking at that message, Ning Ning could confirm that Mu Er’s future had really been changed. She did not become part of the Lian family, she did not become Pei Xuan’s accomplice and thus the movie <<Trial for the Witch>> would not exist at all.
After breathing a sigh of relief, Ning Ning sent another message: [Is there any information on Teacher Yan Qing’s film? Who has been chosen as the female lead?]
Li Bo Yue’s reply gave her a shock.
[Who is Teacher Yan Qing?]
Ning Ning frantically gave him a call. “Yan Qing the singer.”
“Her?” Li Bo Yue pinched the mobile phone with his ear and shoulders, his fingers were still tapping on the keyboard. “What’s wrong with her?”
“Didn’t she want to film a biography?” Ning Ning asked meekly, “Did you not hear about it?”
“I didn’t hear anything about that.” Li Bo Yue said, “What about you? Where did you hear it?”
Ning Ning fell silent.
<<Trial for the Witch>> was no more, <<Person by the Pillow>> was also no more, how could this have happened? Suddenly it all clicked. Because Pei Xuan had been arrested, Yan Qing would have returned from abroad to resolve this matter after receiving the notice from Wen Yu. Once she had gotten closure, she would not be mulling over it for over ten years, she would not necessarily have wanted to make a movie on the story of <<Person by the Pillow>>.
“…Nothing.” Ning Ning laughed. “Maybe I was dreaming. I’ll go back to sleep, you should go to sleep soon as well. Good…”
“Hold up. Don’t say good night that quickly.” Li Bo Yue switched his mobile to his other ear. “Director Chen recommended a script and asked for you to be in it.”
Ning Ning was surprised. “What movie?”
Li Bo Yue skimmed the name of the document and answered with laughter. “<<Elder Brother’s Lover>>.”
“…This title, don’t tell me…” Ning Ning said slowly.
“Yes, it’s what you’re thinking of.” Li Bo Yue laughed. “A family drama.”
The movie was about a man and a woman who had met through matchmaking. They were a perfect match, their families were fairly well off, they were a golden couple in the eyes of outsiders. They matched abnormally well, they were also very satisfied with each other, thus they got immediately engaged after they met each other’s parents. Just as they were about to get married, the woman received the news of the man dying in a plane crash.
The female lead character was in pain for a very long period of time. During this period, the person who had consoled her was the younger brother of the man.
The two of them started to develop feelings (for each other) because of that. Just as the two were about to get together, the elder brother actually came back to life…
“That’s the gist of the story.” Li Bo Yue said, “It’s a very simple story, but it’s a huge test of your acting skills, because the female lead’s character specification is a little different from the pure and good woman in other scripts…”
Ning Ning probed, “A flirtatious minx?”
“That’s right, she is a flirtatious minx.” Li Bo Yue laughed. “In other love triangles, the female leads would feel a deep sense of guilt, but this one did not have that at all, she was actually enjoying it.”
“How much was she enjoying it?” Ning Ning asked.
“I’ve emailed it to you, take a look for yourself.” Li Bo Yue clicked the send button.
Ning Ning downloaded the script to look at it. After she skimmed over it once, she came to a conclusion: Director Chen was really good at picking movies. No matter what the other characters were like, the female lead was never normal!
Both the elder and younger brothers were normal people, they were also good people. No matter whom the female lead chose, the other would have backed out of this love triangle like a gentleman. Yet, the female lead did not do that, she was not willing to let either of them go.
She picked a wedding dress with the elder brother and sent photos of herself taking off that wedding dress in the changing room to the younger brother. She kissed the younger brother under a wisteria tree as she plucked a wisteria petal so she could make a bookmark for the elder brother.
She had the siblings dancing on the palm of her hand, unscrupulously enjoying the forbidden love they were having.
Her mantra was a sentence—Ning Ning quietly read it out, “As long as I don’t get caught, I’m not in the wrong.”
“She was truly a selfish and greedy woman.” Ning Ning thought. Her vision suddenly fixed itself on one of the subplots. She thought she was seeing things, thus she reread it several times, then she quickly gave Li Bo Yue a call.
“You finished reading that quickly?” Li Bo Yue asked.
“No.” Ning Ning said with difficulty, “I’m halfway through, I have a question to ask you.”
“What is it?” Li Bo Yue said.
“…Regarding the love scenes…” Ning Ning stammered, “Aren’t there too many of those?”
It was not that she had not acted in love scenes. In <<The Great Empire>> that was just aired recently, she had a love scene with Chen Shuang He, but it was a short scene with Chen Shuang He showing his upper body while she only showed her shoulder—the most intense part was a kiss.
In comparison, <<Elder Brother’s Lover>> had too many love scenes…way too many…
1This means to stay up late, originating from a meme that roughly translates into: You’re still up? Are you trying to cultivate yourself into an immortal?