Chapter 69: His Throat Bobbed (3)
Gu Yachen was trying to degrade Ye Fan while simultaneously praising Tang Jin.
Ding Ruoyi looked upon the scene with a smile that did not reach her eyes. Although she did not agree with Gu Yachen’s words, she remained silent. A bystander to the subtle bullying. Ding Ruoyi believed she was quite a simple person- non-confrontational and diplomatic, she detested arguments. After all, as a relatively new actress, she couldn’t afford to be caught in any scandals or be criticized by netizens. She always preferred taking a neutral stance in any conflict instead of further complicating the situation by interfering. It wasn’t any of her business, so she followed Switzerland’s consistent example and stayed out of the matter altogether.
However, Gu Yachen had intentionally seized the opportunity to provoke a dispute. A small, smug grin remained hidden on her face as she turned to Ding Ruoyi. “Ding Ruoyi, are you watching any particular drama these days?” Gu Yachen was intent on dragging her into the conversation. Her tone brokered no room for refusal although her question seemed purely innocent- after all, it was the type of question that you’d ask someone to get to know them better and spark a conversation.
Ding Ruoyi’s calm facade momentarily faltered at her sudden inclusion into the conversation, betraying her shock at the unexpected turn of events. An encompassing blankness came over her face, as if she had suddenly worn an expressionless Noh mask. Inwardly, her thoughts were rushing through her head as fast as a hurricane, before she finally found an answer and arrived in the eye of the storm. “Unfortunately, I haven’t been watching any dramas lately. I was too busy with shooting before. When I heard that we were going to visit Austria to film, I was overcome with excitement- I’ve been pouring over travel guides ever since!” Ding Ruoyi cheerfully chirped, giving no indication of the storm that had been swirling through her mind mere moments before.
Veteran Star Li Qiong’s long and illustrious career had very humble roots. She began her acting journey as a martial arts stuntwoman, substituting for more popular actresses before her talent was seriously noticed and she bloomed in her own right. She empathized with Ye Fan and actually admired the younger woman quite a bit, she had been in the same situation many years ago. Ye Fan’s elegant bearing and unflappable composure were impressive. Such qualities would bring her far in life, Li Qiong mused.
Seeing that Ye Fan was purposefully being excluded from the conversation, the elder actress decided to take the initiative. The entertainment industry was like a jungle, not only was it easy to lose your path, one also had to watch out for brightly colored creatures that seemed harmless but were brimming with poison. She would look out for Ye Fan a bit.
“Not only Austria is so beautiful and culturally rich but it also has such wonderful weather, don’t you think Ye Fan?”
Her experience navigating the treacherous waters of the entertainment worlds was displayed masterfully. With just one simple remark, she was able to redirect the conversation and harmonize the discordance caused by Gu Yachen.
Upon being addressed, Ye Fan smiled warmly and spoke in a light tone. “I believe this trip will end up being a good one, Miss Li Qiong.” Although her demeanor was slightly relaxed, Ye Fan’s manners were impeccable as she conveyed not only her friendliness but also her respect for such a distinguished personality.
Ye Fan gently leaned her head against the window beside her seat. The bus shook with gentle vibrations as it continued along to its destination. She gazed at the scenery rushing by, bushes and other vegetation transforming into one blurry, verdant streak before closing her eyes. Regulating her breathing she momentarily escaped being drawn into another conversation, the soft chatter becoming soothing background noise as she reflected on the day’s events so far. Her predictions proved correct- Ye Fan had known where everyone stood. One thing was for sure, despite what she had said earlier, this trip definitely would not be a peaceful one.
Half a world away, He Han was busy living up to his title of ‘Film Emperor’. This time, He Han featured as part of an ensemble cast. On the sets of yet another movie, He Han was clothed in an obsidian black uniform decorated with shining silver shoulder insignias. From under the regular-issue hat, He Han’s gaze seemed especially piercing, his eyes emitted a deep sense of coldness. Glinting in the spotlight, they conveyed a sense of severity as he acted in a scene featuring other veterans prominent in the industry.
Despite their clear experience, he didn’t fall behind in the slightest and let himself be overshadowed. His expression was cold and indifferent while his aura was powerful. The cold gun on He Han’s hand was placed firmly on the man’s head, pointing directly at his temple. He showed his caliber as he matched them beat for beat, creating a scene taut with drama which left the studio spellbound.
“Cut.” Another scene over.
He Han quickly turned to the crew members and bowed respectfully. “Thank you all for your hard work.” His assistant rushed over as if an iron filing flying towards a magnet, accompanying He Han to his trailer. After He Han had changed out of his police uniform, he stalked over to a black car that was already waiting for him outside the studio. He Han got into the car and relaxed, leaning his head back as it began driving towards the hotel, slowly making its way through the sea of traffic.
There were many scenes that were required to be filmed at night, so by the time filming ended, it was already quite late. Slowly swiping his room card, He Han entered the room before falling into a comfortable chair. He eased up slightly, he had been on his feet all day Taking a brief break, He Han looked at his phone which was glaring with several messages he had received while engrossed in acting earlier. Ye Fan’s agent was among those who had contacted him. “Ye Fan has safely arrived in Austria.”
He Han raised a brow incredulously. Then, he tapped on the phone screen with his slender fingers. “You don’t have to tell me everything that concerns her.”
He decisively pressed send.
Thoughts of Ye Fan swirled around in He Han’s mind.
She wasn’t so different from others, perhaps she didn’t mean anything particularly significant in his life.
He Han shook the stubborn thoughts from his mind and set his phone down. Taking a minute to clear his head completely, watching the screen fade to black. He entered the bathroom, intent on taking a hot, relaxing shower. The warm water pattered down refreshingly as he got rid of the grime that had slowly accumulated over the course of the day. If he closed his eyes, he could imagine he was out in the summer rain, as it washed over him, revitalizing him and washing away any worries.
After a moment, He Han stepped out.
His phone vibrated with urgency, as if restless waiting for him to pick it up.
Curious, He Han felt drawn to it in spite of himself.The screen was brightly illuminated, in bright red banners across the bottom of the screen it read in a bold font.. “Tang Jin and Ye Fan are recording a TV show in Austria, seeming to have reconciled?” The anchor talked speculatively about this piece of breaking news. Pictures of both Ye Fan and Tang Jin flashed across the screen in regular intervals. He Han narrowed his eyes. As usual, the media were like hungry sharks who would start hunting their prey at the slightest scent of blood in the water. They seemed especially fond of using the pictures of Tang Jin that had been taken after the scandal had broken out, when she was looking ruffled and ragged.
The spacious room appeared even more empty as he sat still in the dark, drenched. It was a desolate sight. In the quiet night, the sounds of heavy rain could be heard from the outside world, although the roar of the storm was drastically muffled. The raindrops slammed the windowpane extremely aggressive, the dull noise akin to a boxer landing a hit on a punching bag.
Scenes flashed relentlessly behind He Han’s eyelids. No matter how much he tried, he couldn’t run away from them. It was as if he was lost in a forest, and kept turning in circles. The images were branded into his brain.
The Shanghai Bund. Bright lights and alcohol, luxury and pleasure.
Ye Fan wore a qipao with charming makeup accentuating her already gorgeous features. A gauzy scarlet veil covered half of her face and swayed as she seductively strutted towards him. The only thing visible was her eyes.
Those cold, beautiful eyes, always watching him…
For some reason, He Han felt a little frustrated.
His throat bobbed.