After getting Xie Xuanming’s consent to be involved in the scandal, Qingchu could barely wait for the media to release the news and the photos of the two.
A new movie star and a waste musician, what an awkward, twisted couple. The outside world was in an uproar; meanwhile, Ji Sheng stayed at home safely and never contacted Xie Xuanming again, until…
“Do you want to come out for a walk?” Xie Xuanming asked.
“Now?” Ji Sheng asked uncertainly, holding the phone.
“In the evening.” Xie Xuanming said calmly, “Scandals need to be fueled. We are not meeting our business targets.”
Ji Sheng understood; he didn’t interact enough with Xie Xuanming and the party that broke the news was not satisfied.
“Okay.” He whispered, “What time?”
“At 10 o’clock tonight, the bar promenade.” Xie Xuanming hung up.
Ten minutes to ten, Ji Sheng saw Xie Xuanming, all in black, under the footbridge at the entrance of the bar promenade.
He stood at the junction of light and shadow, his black fisherman’s hat covering his face and his sportswear making him look like a college student waiting for his girlfriend.
Ji Sheng hesitated, then consciously claimed the identity of a “girlfriend”, lowered his cap and walked over.
“You’re early.” He whispered.
“You’re late.” Xie Xuanming returned in a flat voice, “Let’s go.”
Ji Sheng originally thought that Xie Xuanming’s appointment at 10 o’clock in the evening was due to identity considerations. After all, with Xie Xuanming’s current status, swaggering on the streets in broad daylight might have caused a lot of riots, while Ji Sheng himself might’ve been severely beaten by the fans as “the subject of the shameful scandal”.
But Xie Xuanming made an appointment at the bar promenade, the venue full of people even in the middle of the night.
Ji Sheng glanced sideways at the bars they passed by, hearing bands playing, bottles clinking and laughter coming through the glass windows.
He and Xie Xuanming walked coldly through the long street, like busy outsiders, indifferently passing by drunk young men who staggered forward with the help of their companions.
“You used to come to these places to work, didn’t you?” Xie Xuanming asked suddenly.
Ji Sheng was taken aback for a moment and realised that he was probably talking about the time when the band was underground. In order to save money for the album, Qingchu and he himself would often go to the bars to work.
Unfortunately, after all that hard work, the album was never recorded and the band broke up.
In a daze, Ji Sheng remembered that Loptr released an album a few days ago. It originally contained his own music, but it was removed because of the scandal.
“Regularly.” Ji Sheng said, “But the conditions were not so good at the time.”
The bars in the downtown area were not as regulated as the bars in the promenade today, and there were often quarrels and fights. Ji Sheng was often caught in the middle but he was quick enough to run away without getting hurt. After Xie Xuanming joined Qingchu and followed him to the shows, the number of fleeing figures changed from one to two.
Recalling the scenes of him escorting Xie Xuanming to the bars, Ji Sheng was in a trance for a second, unable to connect that good-natured, slim teenager with the cold, tall man beside him.
Xie Xuanming stopped talking and walked forward quietly, as if he had asked Ji Sheng to come out just to walk side by side like this.
Ji Sheng’s thoughts drifted away in the silent atmosphere.
The reason why Xie Xuanming agreed to Qingchu’s unreasonable request was not only because Qingchu offered him a good price, but also because he himself was caught in a previous scandal.
At the award ceremony, a popular actress “accidentally” fell on Xie Xuanming. After she was helped up, a marketing account post followed, “revealing” that she and Xie Xuanming had recently been seen together numerous times and had stayed in the same hotel.
The public always likes to read gossip news, and the actress had a pitiful appearance and a capability to spin a story. The peachy rumours of a “movie star” and a “little white flower” flew all over the social networks for a while, plus the bloggers said that the “little white flower” would soon participate in a big production movie while the identity of the male lead was a mystery. Many people guessed that it was Xie Xuanming who was going to star with her.
Ji Sheng checked: it was a large-scale commercial movie. If Xie Xuanming really agreed to star in it, he would make a lot of money.
But Xie Xuanming kicked the pot, preferring to promise Qingchu to sell corruption with him to earn some comparatively little money rather than take on this commercial movie when it was clear that his fledgling company was still short of funds.
“The script sucks. And I don’t like being calculated.” This was the reason Xie Xuanming gave.
Ji Sheng shrank his neck slightly feeling that with the second sentence Xie Xuanming was implying him.
Anyway, except for the drama he invited Ji Sheng to before, Xie Xuanming had never “downgraded” his choice of scripts. It was estimated that he intended to move up to the upper echelons of the movie industry.
That was pretty good.
Xie Xuanming was a good actor in front of the camera and a good businessman off the screen.
Xie Xuanming was a movie star, so he could play the role required at the moment with ease, but Ji Sheng was not from the industry and he was a bit afraid that he would mess up.
He was so preoccupied that he was startled when he suddenly saw Xie Xuanming stop in his tracks. He hurriedly stopped along with him, only to look up and realise that they had already walked out of the bar promenade and were standing at the edge of an empty road, with the bus stop lights switching beside them.
“En?” Ji Sheng asked, puzzled.
“There are reporters on the opposite side.” Xie Xuanming said with a slight twitch of his lips.
“…you arranged it?”
“Qingchu arranged it.” Xie Xuanming raised the corners of his lips, a little ironic, “They didn’t tell you?”
“…” Ji Sheng asked, “What are you going to do?”
Xie Xuanming did not answer, only stood quietly, as if waiting for something.
Ji Sheng looked up at him, titling his head, his neck a little sore.
Half a minute later, Ji Sheng finally knew what Xie Xuanming was waiting for.
A bus marked “Night 7” dinged, its brakes loud as it slowed down to a halt by the platform.
Before it stopped, Xie Xuanming suddenly stepped forward and clasped his hand on the back of Ji Sheng’s neck.
Ji Sheng’s nape was squeezed forcefully; he hurriedly raised his head, and the next moment his lips were crushed against something cold.
The bus started moving loudly, rattling away from the platform.
Ji Sheng was awakened by the sound and gave Xie Xuanming a sharp push.
Xie Xuanming took a half step back, wiping his lips, his expression calm.
It wasn’t the first time he had been forcibly kissed by Xie Xuanming. Ji Sheng took a step back, helplessly realising that he was so used to it that he couldn’t even feel exasperated.
“This is also what Qingchu asked you to do?” He said coldly.
Xie Xuanming didn’t answer, only wiped his lower lip again, turned around and said, “Let’s go.”
He walked for a few steps and found that Ji Sheng was standing still, so he turned back, took his left hand and pulled him forward without a second thought.
Considering the camera in the opposite building, Ji Sheng didn’t shake it off but secretly squeezed his palm.
Ji Sheng used so much force that his fingers were a little numb, but Xie Xuanming still had a breezy face. His expression didn’t change and he didn’t let go.
Ji Sheng was quickly discouraged; his hand relaxed and he quietly let Xie Xuanming lead him along.
Xie Xuanming walked a little in front of Ji Sheng, and as he walked, Ji Sheng suddenly heard him speak.
“Do you still owe me a gift?”
“You said before you would give me a gift if I got the best actor award, when I decide what I want.”
“…I didn’t expect you to really get it.”
“…” Xie Xuanming paused and continued, “But I got it, and you congratulated me.”
“What do you want?” Ji Sheng thought that Xie Xuanming should be even less in need of anything now.
And he had nothing to give.
Ji Sheng asked him to request, but Xie Xuanming went silent again.
Ji Sheng waited patiently, the evening breeze blowing on his face, dispelling some of his drowsiness. Just when he thought Xie Xuanming would not speak again, Xie Xuanming said:
“I think… how about we just go with the gossip?”
“Huh?” Ji Sheng woke up, “What did you say?”
“Brother Ji, how about you really dating me?” Xie Xuanming repeated.
Ji Sheng opened his eyes wide; the evening breeze was a little cold, making his eyes dry.
He pondered for a while and asked, “Have you been drinking?”
“No.” Xie Xuanming quickly denied.
Ji Sheng went quiet again, and then said after a long time: “Then don’t talk nonsense.”
There was silence again, and finally a soft laugh reached him.
Dissipated with the wind at once.
Ji Sheng was lying on his bed, the scandal between “Ji Hui” and Xie Xuanming still floating on the hot search. If it weren’t for the change of name, he would even have thought that he was back in his previous life.
He rubbed his temples, and the laughter Xie Xuanming let out in his dream still echoed in his ears.
He didn’t understand in his previous life, thinking that Xie Xuanming was laughing at him for taking the joke seriously.
Looking back now, Xie Xuanming was probably laughing at himself.
Ji Sheng pressed his temples and suddenly found that the phone screen was lit up.
The public relations department sent him another message.
[It’s best to decide on the PR strategy quickly. We contacted Mr. Su Jing and he agreed to move the live broadcast to the morning. If you decide which method to use, you can respond directly in the live broadcast. Su Jing also said that he will fully cooperate with the PR]
After reading it, Ji Sheng glanced at the time. Xie Xuanming’s plane should not have landed yet. He replied:
[Can we hide the domestic public opinion from Xie Xuanming first? I don’t want these matters to interfere with his activities abroad.]
The contact person of the public relations department gave a positive reply.
Ji Sheng breathed a sigh of relief and sent another message.
[As for the PR method, I’ve already decided, I’ll trouble you to cooperate with it]