It was difficult for He You'an to express her inner fears and worries in her current environment. With her fame, any slight deviation in her behavior would immediately be reported in the newspapers and criticized by the public.
She had only met Ling Shu a few times and they were not close, but at this moment and in this place, she could confide in him and relieve some of her burdens. Even with her beauty, she still longed for a confidant.
Perhaps it was because she had finally spoken about the suppressed issues that He You'an's expression became much lighter.
"Thank you both for your help. I know you don't care for these common copper items, and I wouldn't want to offend your refined tastes. Over the years, I've also acquired some jade and stone paintings with my savings. Although they may not be worth much, some of them are works by famous Song and Ming artists, which you can also appreciate."
Yue Dingtang replied, "We didn't help you for the sake of these things."
He You'an earnestly said, "I understand that these items have a clear origin and were purchased with clean money. Please don't refuse them. I know that no matter how much I give, it cannot express my gratitude. But this is the best way I can think of. If you don't accept them, I won't have the face to ask for your help again."
Since she had already said this much, Yue Dingtang naturally couldn't say anything more.
Ling Shu suddenly coughed lightly, "Miss He, what you said is extraordinary, that's Mr. Yue. He's a university professor with an extraordinary family background and indeed likes these things. I'm different, I'm very ordinary, I don't like antiques or calligraphy, I only like President Yuan's bald head."
Yue Dingtang: ...
He You'an couldn't help but chuckle.
Although it's been years since President Yuan was in power, the silver coin with his portrait, "Yuan's Big Head," has been passed down and become one of the hard currencies still in circulation today.
Ling Shu's words naturally implied that he likes money and that He You'an can directly use money as payment.
It's no longer a hint, it's a clear statement.
Yue Dingtang was speechless, he didn't know what to say to stop Ling Shu from embarrassing himself.
He You'an nodded with a suppressed smile, "I understand, don't worry."
As they chatted, the door to the private room opened and dishes were brought in one after another.
The crab meat lion's head, made with a secret recipe exclusive to Baofeng Building, was cooked in chicken broth. The meatballs absorbed the flavor of the vegetables and emitted a rich aroma, blending perfectly with the broth. The diners were so enamored with the dish that they couldn't tell where they ended and the food began.
The Wensi tofu looked like ordinary tofu soup to outsiders, but upon closer inspection, the tofu had been sliced into thin, silky strands that were so delicate they could pass through the eye of a needle. Yet, they melted in the mouth, leaving a smooth and delicate texture that was both gentle and strong.
Last but not least, the squirrel-shaped mandarin fish and crystal pork were arranged on the Eight Immortals table. Although these dishes could be found elsewhere, the chef hired by Baofeng Building was truly exceptional.
Even with the same ingredients, he could create a unique and exciting dining experience that left the diners eagerly anticipating the next course. There were also dishes like candied lotus root with rock sugar and braised winter bamboo shoots, catering to both meat-eaters and vegetarians, showing great attention to everyone's taste buds. The presentation, aroma, and taste alone made it a masterpiece.
"Neither of you are from the north, so I ordered Huaiyang cuisine," said He You’an.
"Thank you, Miss He, for your thoughtfulness. I won't hold back then."
"You two gentlemen can take your time. I also had osmanthus wine and green plum wine prepared, which will be served warm later," she added.
With Ling Shu present, even a small gathering wouldn't feel dull.
With food and drink, He You'an gradually relaxed and joined in the conversation with the two of them. Although she had never received any formal education, since entering the film industry, she was aware of her own shortcomings.
She had to accompany Shen Shiqi to various occasions and had put in a lot of effort to improve herself. She had learned many words and even read books, and could even speak a few words of English.
So when faced with Ling Shu and Yue Dingtang, she didn't feel at a loss for words and could even exchange a few sentences with them.
Ling Shu suddenly felt the urge to use the restroom. He had drunk a lot of water before leaving and had also had a few drinks at the banquet, so he couldn't hold it in any longer. He excused himself and got up to go relieve himself.
On his way back, he passed by the adjacent private room where a waiter was coming out with a tray. The door was half-open and he looked up to see Ling Shu. The waiter quickly stepped aside and apologized, but Ling Shu couldn't help but glance inside the room.
This glance was enough to catch the attention of someone inside the room, who also looked up.
Their eyes met.
Ling Shu saw an old acquaintance. The other party was first stunned, then anger surfaced, and suddenly stood up and walked towards him.
Well, well, well, old enemies do meet again.
Ling Shu laughed.
One smile, one anger.
The reactions of the two were completely different.
"You dare to come and show off in front of me?"
Shen Shiqi sneered, and couldn't even wait for his own bodyguards to come. He reached out and grabbed Ling Shu's collar.
Ling Shu dodged easily with a slight side step.
His movements were smooth and graceful, seemingly elegant, but in reality, he accidentally touched his old injury from being beaten with a stick last night, and his back began to ache. Ling Shu felt like crying but kept a straight face.
However, Shen Shiqi didn't care if he had any grace or not. When his first attempt failed, he directly threw his whole body at Ling Shu, grabbing his shoulders tightly and pushing him towards the corridor!
With a lift and a push of his hands, Ling Shu caused him to involuntarily release their grip. He stumbled forward due to the momentum, almost falling off the balcony. But just in time, a hand reached out from behind and grabbed onto his clothes, pulling him back to safety.
Shen Shiqi sat on the ground, his face turning red with anger. Just as he was about to explode, he saw Yue Dingtang walk out from the adjacent room.
The curse words that were on the tip of his tongue suddenly became stuck, unable to be spoken or swallowed.
One Yue Dingtang alone was not enough to worry about, but the Yue family behind him was not to be underestimated.
At this point, Shen Shiqi did not want to start a conflict with Yue Dingtang, nor did he want to lose his composure tonight.
Ling Shu found it amusing to watch the other person's twisted and convulsing expression, and finally, he spoke, "Thank you!"
Ling Shu almost burst out laughing, "Master Shen, what are you thanking me for?"
Shen Shiqi forced a smile, "Thank you for pulling me just now. Otherwise, I might have fallen down."
Ling Shu teased, "So, I saved your life. Don't you think you should show some gratitude?"
Shen Shiqi's lips twitched, "I'll have someone send some gifts to your house later to express my thanks."
"What's going on?" Someone helped Shen Shiqi up and asked casually.
Only then did Ling Shu notice that there was another person in the private room where Shen Shiqi was. The man was in his thirties or forties, with an ordinary appearance and average features.
However, there was a shrewdness in his eyes that revealed he was a businessman who was doing well. He probably had dealings with people from all walks of life and had deep laugh lines around his mouth and eyes.
"Mr. Cheng!" Shen Shiqi quickly got up, with his usual style of dealing with American consuls without any fear, but he was somewhat nervous facing Mr. Cheng.
"There's nothing wrong, I met a friend, there was a misunderstanding, but it's been cleared up now."
Shen Shiqi not only didn't continue to hold on, but took the initiative to calm things down.
Mr. Cheng nodded and helped him up.
"That's good, businessmen value harmony, we come out to travel the world, relying on friends, the more friends we have, the wider the road."
Shen Shiqi smiled, "That's right, that's a very reasonable thing to say!"
Mr. Cheng was about to say something, but his voice suddenly stopped, and his gaze fell on the woman behind Yue Dingtang.
"This lady seems a bit familiar."
Shen Shiqi saw He You'an and his face changed slightly. As she heard Shen Shiqi's voice from the other room, He You'an had originally planned to avoid him and prevent any unnecessary trouble.
But then she heard his attitude suddenly change, and couldn't help but peek her head out with curiosity. Unfortunately, she was caught by Mr. Cheng.
Shen Shiqi's face darkened as he suppressed his anger and introduced He You'an to Mr. Cheng, "This is the famous movie star, Miss He You'an. I'm sure you've heard of her."
Mr. Cheng suddenly realized, "So you're Miss He. I've heard of you and seen your movies. They were fantastic!"
Although most of his attention was on He You'an, his gaze was not lecherous. He simply looked like a pure fan who loved movies and characters.
Shen Shiqi added, "This is Mr. Cheng, my business partner."
He You'an smiled and nodded, "Thank you for your appreciation. I feel honored."
Mr. Cheng said, "Miss He, there's no need to be modest. When I was in Nanjing, I heard many people mention your name and praise your acting. While others may act like something, you truly become that something. If there were titles like in opera for movies, Miss He would undoubtedly deserve it."
His words were eloquent, polite, and not too intimate. He You'an had heard many compliments before, but couldn't help but be moved by his words and bowed in return.
"Mr. Cheng, you flatter me. I am not worthy of such praise."
Ling Shu, who was still hungry, saw that their conversation was dragging on and quickly interrupted.
"Alright, we've all been introduced. Master Shen, the debt of life-saving can never be repaid, but there’s no need for repayment either. Just help us cover tonight's dinner bill, how about that?"
He was sure that the other party wouldn't make a scene in front of Mr. Cheng, and indeed he smiled and said, 'Of course, it's just a small matter. You can eat as much as you want, and put it on my tab.'"
Shen Shiqi's smile was even uglier than crying, as expected.
"Also, Miss He You'an is inviting us to a banquet tonight to ask for our help. You won't blame her, will you?" Ling Shu asked.
Shen Shiqi replied, "No, You'an also has the freedom to make friends, especially with someone like Mr. Yue, who is a good mentor and friend."
Ignoring his deliberate omission of himself, Ling Shu was satisfied and said, "Then we'll thank Mr. Shen first. You two can continue chatting and don't mind us."
Shen Shiqi was no longer in the mood to eat. He returned to the private room and rubbed his arm, which had been twisted by Ling Shu. He forced himself to be polite to Mr. Cheng.
"I apologize for the inconvenience." Mr. Cheng asked, "Are you very familiar with Miss He?"
Shen Shiqi replied, "She and I are close friends."
The so-called close friends were ambiguous, neither husband and wife nor just friends.
Mr. Cheng understood without saying anything.
Meanwhile, Ling Shu returned to the private room and called for the waiter.
"I want to order some takeout food and drinks."
Yue Dingtang thought it was just as he expected.
But it's always better to cheat others than to cheat oneself. Besides, it was Shen Shiqi who was being cheated. With their relationship already at this point, a meal wouldn't make a difference, so he didn't say anything.
The waiter took out a small notebook and said, "Sir, please tell me what you would like to order. I will have it prepared right away!"
"Marinated delicacies, salted duck, osmanthus cake, candied lotus root, eight-treasure duck with glutinous rice, duck blood vermicelli soup, wine barrel glutinous rice balls, crab roe tofu soup, and dry noodles in a big pot."
Ling Shu listed off the dishes without taking a breath, as if he had already glanced at the menu hanging on the first floor when he entered.
"That's all for now. Three servings of each dish, all packed up. I'll take them with me later. Oh, and three more jars of aged Fenjiu. Don't try to fool me with new wine!"
Waiter: ... Aren't you afraid of overeating?