He You'an sat in front of the mirror, applying her makeup. In half an hour, she would be performing in a major scene and needed to give it her all.
With her eyes closed, she silently recited her lines and prepared her emotions when suddenly, the voice of Teng Siping came from behind her.
"You’an, Mr. Cheng is here."
Before she could respond, someone shushed the person who spoke.
"She must be preparing for the script. Let's not disturb her."
He You'an heard Mr. Cheng softly say these words. She opened her eyes and saw Boss Teng's face smiling like a blooming chrysanthemum. She wondered what Mr. Cheng had given him to make him switch from Shen Shiqi's camp to Mr. Cheng's.
Compared to Shen Shiqi, Mr. Cheng was undoubtedly more considerate. The two of them were like heaven and earth, with no comparison to be made.
Shen Shiqi treated He You'an like a plaything, a fact that many people around them knew but didn't say out loud. Even though Shen Shiqi never hesitated to spend money on her and helped her rise to power, he would take out his anger on her without regard for time or place.
But Mr. Cheng was different.
Even though his methods of obtaining He You'an were not entirely honorable, ultimately amounting to seizing her by force, his attitude towards her after obtaining her was consistent.
Every day, he would send someone to pick her up for meals, and sometimes he would come in person.
He would take the time to carefully study the script and discuss it with He You'an. He would search for the flowers that He You'an liked, even in the dead of winter, bringing them from far away just to see her smile.
If there were events that He You'an didn't enjoy, he would never force her to attend.
He was thoughtful and considerate, and it showed.
Many husbands nowadays can't even compare to him.
She didn't know if Mr. Cheng had a wife or not.
Mr. Cheng never mentioned it, and she never asked because it wouldn't change anything.
At the very least, the affection Mr. Cheng showed her was something that most men couldn't give.
In this world, even though He You'an was known as a movie star and surrounded by many fans who were proud to catch a glimpse of her, in the eyes of many, actors were still considered a lowly profession, unworthy of the grand stage. He You'an had traveled through the mortal world and encountered many powerful and wealthy individuals, as well as experienced the warmth and coldness of human relationships.
Apart from Shen Shiqi, countless men had tried to court her, but only Mr. Cheng could give her the respect that others could not.
He You'an let out a soft sigh.
"Aren't you supposed to be thinking about the script? Why are you sighing?" She heard the man say and turned to look at the mirror.
Mr. Cheng had quietly entered the room and was standing behind her, observing her reflection with his hands behind his back.
"Do I look good?" He You'an smiled faintly.
"Absolutely stunning," Mr. Cheng placed his hands on her shoulders and leaned in for a closer look. "You're as beautiful as a flower in the clouds."
"I'm not in the clouds, I'm right here in your hands," replied He You'an.
"You may be by my side, but I always feel like you're so far away. Your heart is floating in the sky, and I don't know when it will fall into my hands," said Mr. Cheng.
He You'an couldn't help but chuckle.
"Mr. Cheng, are you planning to act in a movie? Is that a line from a new script?"
Mr. Cheng pretended to ponder for a moment. "Actually, I do want to make a movie with you as the main character. There won't be a male lead, just you from beginning to end."
He You'an was curious. "What's the story about?" Mr. Cheng said, "It’s your story. You have a noble character, but had to venture into the mortal world. After many twists and turns, you finally met me and lived the rest of your life in peace. We, two lovers, finally became a couple."
He You'an said, "You always know how to flatter me. I'm just an actress, forced to do things against my will. It's true that I didn't intend to harm anyone, but I can't say that I have a noble character."
Mr. Cheng smiled and produced a bouquet of roses from behind his back.
"I heard from Teng Siping that you secretly supported your younger brother-in-law's education. You didn't have to help him, but you still remembered your old relationships and didn't ask for anything in return. Isn't that a noble character?"
He You'an's smile disappeared.
"You already know about that?"
"It's not a secret."
Mr. Cheng placed the bouquet of roses in He You'an's arms.
The delicate and vibrant red color of the roses made her beauty even more radiant. With her head hung low, He You'an spoke softly, "If you don't like it, I won't send him money anymore."
Mr. Cheng smiled and gently pinched her chin, lifting it up. "You have a kind heart, and that's a good thing. I don't want my woman to be cold and heartless. But from now on, don't keep anything from me."
"I don't want to hide anything from you, but I'm afraid you won't like it or approve. I want to live a pure and innocent life without any blemishes, but..."
He You'an trailed off with a bitter smile.
Mr. Cheng kissed her cheek lightly and pulled out an invitation from his pocket. "Lu Tongcang is marrying his third concubine and has invited us to the banquet."
He You'an glanced at the invitation. It was exquisitely made with golden embossing, depicting a dragon and phoenix, symbolizing a hundred years of happiness.
"Madam Yi, to put it plainly, is still a concubine and cannot even be called a wife. However, nowadays there is a trend where wealthy families take a concubine and are willing to spend extravagantly can make it even more lively than a wedding, providing an opportunity for those who cannot find a way to give gifts or establish connections on a regular basis to get close to them.
After a wedding banquet, the host family is often left with plenty of money and goods, never at a loss.
Although Lu Tongcang has no official position, he has more ability than those so-called senior officials with empty titles. There are many people in Shanghai who want to curry favor with him. This wedding will undoubtedly be a lively scene with drums, gongs, and firecrackers.
"Do you want me to go?" He You'an was puzzled.
"Have you seen the third concubine of Lu Tongcang?" Mr. Cheng asked before she could answer. "She looks a lot like you."
He You'an was shocked and looked up. Mr. Cheng's expression was inscrutable, and his emotions were indecipherable.
Unable to resist, Miss He reached out and grabbed his clothes.
"I am innocent with Lu Tongcang," she said.
"I know," Mr. Cheng lightly touched her cheek and said softly, "Why are you so cold? I don't blame you. Whether Lu Tongcang has feelings for you or not is not something you can control."
"At that time, I would rather drink all the alcohol on that table than compromise," He You’an said.
He You’an reached out and wrapped her arms around his waist, her face pressed against his clothes.
"If you don't like it, from now on, whenever you hear his name, I will stay far away," she said.
"Okay," Mr. Cheng also reached out and embraced her.
The two enjoyed this silent moment.
Outside, the filming was about to begin, and the director was anxious, but dared not come in to urge them.
"Have you ever thought about taking a break from acting for a while?" Mr. Cheng suddenly asked. He You'an looked up at him in surprise.
"If you want me to retire from the film industry, I will do so after finishing this movie," he said.
Mr. Cheng chuckled. "I said temporarily, not asking you to give up completely. I know you love making movies and have aspirations to create a great film that will be remembered for a hundred years. How could I force you to do something you don't want to do?"
He You'an asked, "Then..."
Mr. Cheng interrupted, "Have you been to Hong Kong? It's similar to Shanghai, slightly less prosperous, but still a big city. Lately, those threatening letters have been making you uneasy. After finishing this film, why don't you go to Hong Kong for a while?"
He You'an asked, "What about you?"
Mr. Cheng replied, "Naturally, I will go with you."
"What happened, Mr. Cheng? Is there any danger in Shanghai, or..." He You'an furrowed her brows, but Mr. Cheng gently pressed his finger to her lips, stopping her from continuing.
"Do you trust me?" he asked.
He You'an nodded.
"Then do as I say," Mr. Cheng replied.
He You'an blinked and looked up at him with a gaze full of dependence and admiration, shimmering with radiance. Any person, especially a man, would be captivated by such a starry-eyed vortex.
Mr. Cheng was undoubtedly successful and accomplished, but he was also a man. Only those who were extremely close to He You'an knew that her charm was not just in her appearance and figure, but also in her demeanor and speech.
Mr. Cheng had met countless people, but had never encountered a flower like He You'an. This was the first time he had ever thought of leaving the flower garden and spending the rest of his life with a woman.
"Listen to me, don't ask so many questions," Mr. Cheng touched her cheek.
He You'an whispered, "Okay, wherever you go, I'll go."
Mr. Cheng was very satisfied. Seeing her trying to remain calm, with a hint of unease and reluctance to ask, he couldn't bear it and said, "I'm sending you to Hong Kong for your own good. I won't harm you. Don't you have a distant aunt in Hangzhou? If you can't bear to leave your family, bring her along."
At the mention of her only relative, He You'an He perked up a bit.
"Then I'll take a few days to go to Hangzhou and ask her to come with me."
An hour later.
Mr. Cheng came out of He You'an He's resting room, looking satisfied. No one dared to rush him, nor did anyone dare to inquire about what he was doing inside.
Mr. Cheng walked towards his own car when he came out.
Chen Wendong was already waiting there.
As he approached, Chen Wendong quickly bowed.
"Mr. Shen said to follow you from now on, please take me in, Mr. Cheng."
Mr. Cheng paused.
"Did you send someone to kill Ling Shu?"
"Yes, that kid was getting too close to Miss He, and Mr. Shen didn't like it, so he asked me to..."
"Without my orders, do not act recklessly."
"But that kid has been investigating Miss He's surroundings, what if..."
"Did Shen Shiqi ask you to follow me to give me advice?"
Chen Wendong quickly bowed even deeper. "Mr. Cheng, you misunderstood. Everything is up to you. I spoke out of turn!"
"It's also true that I know Shen Shiqi asked you to stay by He You'an's side to monitor her. From today on, you only need to protect her. You don't have to worry about anything else," Mr. Cheng said.
Chen Wendong was taken aback.
But Mr. Cheng didn't pay attention to his reaction and opened the car door, ready to get in.
Suddenly, someone rushed out of the set.
"Mr. Cheng, something's wrong! Miss He is injured!"
Mr. Cheng turned around abruptly.
Ling Shu sneezed.
It was his fifth sneeze in ten minutes.
"Who's thinking of me so much?" he sighed. "Being handsome is a burden. My admirers could fill up the Huangpu River, and I really don't know whose love is causing such a big reaction in me."
"It's a sickness." A blanket was thrown over Ling Shu's head, covering him completely.
At the same time, Yue Dingtang's voice could be heard.
"Uncle Zhou wants you to put this on."
"Uncle Zhou is so kind," Ling Shu replied.
He grabbed the blanket and wrapped himself up like a rice dumpling, sneezing as he spoke.
He was wearing Yue Dingtang's pajamas.
Early that morning, Ling Shu had taken a train to Hangzhou, and had spent ten hours on the Shanghai-Hangzhou railway. He had managed to finish his business in one day, but in the afternoon, a sudden downpour had soaked him to the bone. He hadn't brought any spare clothes, and by the time he returned, it was already 11pm.
If it weren't for Yue Dingtang sending someone to pick him up, he would probably still be sneezing at the train station.
Yue Dingtang thought to himself that if he could carve eight words onto Ling Shu's forehead, they would be: "Never stop living, even if it means risking your life."
His arm wasn't fully healed yet, but he ran out anyway. The rain pouring down on him was the least of his worries; his old injury was likely to flare up again.
To put it plainly, it wasn't his own discomfort, so what did it have to do with him?
Even if Ling Shu turned himself into a short-lived ghost, it was his own doing.
Just as he was about to make a sarcastic remark, the old housekeeper came over with chicken soup.
"Drink some, it'll warm you up."
"Thank you, Uncle Zhou!" Ling Shu held the bowl and sipped the steaming chicken soup, not forgetting to give a thumbs up and boast.
"Every time I drink this chicken soup, I taste different levels and depths, just like reading the works of a famous writer. There's a saying in Zen, 'When you see a mountain, it's a mountain; when you see water, it's water.' The chef at Yue's household has reached this level!"
Naturally, the old housekeeper laughed so hard that his eyes disappeared.
"If you like it, drink more. There's plenty in the kitchen, don't rush, be careful not to burn yourself," said the old housekeeper.
Yue Dingtang sighed and held back the sarcasm that was about to come out of his mouth.
Just as Yue Chunxiao left, another old housekeeper came. These people had all fallen victim to Ling Shu's curse.
"There's news about He You'an," said Ling Shu, without even looking up from his soup.