Chapter 23: As If It Never Existed
Xi Mo was surrounded by a group of people and felt their various gazes studying her from top to bottom. She felt the disgusting feeling of being watched by onlookers.
However, it seems like Yan Mu genuinely wanted to introduce her to the crowd. He probably heard her saying that she wasn’t familiar with the crew, so he wished to help her get adjusted with them. Even if they don’t actually accept her from the bottom of their hearts, they will not openly exclude her out of their respect from him. There are certainly crews that interact harmoniously, but there were even more crews that are secretly hierarchical in nature. There were many people who flatter the people above them but bully and suppress the people below them. They are passionate when they see people who were more popular than them, but they would disregard people who were less well known. Yan Mu had seen too much.
The people present here were all actors and were best at acting. They all started interacting with Xi Mo with a smile out of respect for Yan Mu. Xi Mo looked at their eyes and only felt that the thoughts in their hearts were about to burst out—Turns out she got here by hugging Yan Mu’s thigh!
Xi Mo: “…”
Lin Qitang and producer Ye also came over. Lin Qitang looked quite happy. “It seems like everyone was chatting here.”
The people greeted one after another: “Hello director Lin, hello teacher Ye.”
Lin Qitang nodded his head, then looked at Xi Mo.
He didn’t know much about Ruan Yesheng before, and her resume was simple with nothing distinguishable. After Xi Mo came over for the audition, he was amazed. He felt that this person’s acting was excellent and wasn’t at a level achievable by a newcomer at all. He did a check on Ruan Yesheng’s details and was even more amazed after looking at it. After watching the show “Treading With Your Voice” which got Ruan Yesheng popular back in the days, he immediately felt that he made the right bet and felt more admiration towards her.
If he can promote her well, it shouldn’t be difficult for her to become popular again. At that time, he can sign her into his studio. It’s a great deal.
“Where’s Xi Mo?” Lin Qitang seemed to have recalled something. He looked around and said casually, “Xi Mo has more scenes with Ruan Yesheng. There’s even a scene tomorrow, does she want to come over to interact?”
Xi Mo had a sullen look.
What are you looking for!
I’m standing right before you!
Yan Mu smiled and said, “Sister is probably busy. She hasn’t come yet. Brother Qingming called and told me that they would come later. The banquet hasn’t started anyway.”
Xi Mo’s face remained sullen.
Silly boy, how many times do I have to say that I’m not your sister!
It was terrible when the people understood the meaning in Lin Qitang’s words. He’s actually taking the initiative to get Xi Mo to guide this Ruan Yesheng who has popped up from god knows where. What was Xi Mo’s status? Director Lin actually wanted Xi Mo to guide this woman. Hence, their inner thoughts became turbulent once again and was close to flooding Xi Mo—Turns out she got here by hugging director Lin’s thigh!
Xi Mo: “…”
Xi Mo adjusted her facial expression and displayed Ruan Yesheng’s signature smile. “Thank you, director Lin. Xi Mo is not here yet. I will ask her for guidance when I have the chance.”
Lin Qitang was quite satisfied with her. He said to the others, “Things will get tough for everyone starting tomorrow, let us all relax and enjoy more tonight!”
The people dispersed one after another. Not long after, Ruan Yesheng finally strolled in. She looked like a picture as she stood in the crowd. When the crowd saw the film empress “Xi Mo” appeared, they approached her like moths fluttering to the light. Ruan Yesheng politely replied to them and occasionally revealed a smile just like how Xi Mo always does so.
Xi Mo’s usual image was of someone who wouldn’t take the initiative to interact with others. When someone speaks or expresses goodwill to her, she will respond politely. However, she rarely took the initiative to do such things. Ruan Yesheng knew this trait very well. Hence, she only gave Xi Mo, who was by the dining table, a glance, but did not do anything else. Yan Mu came forward, affectionately calling her sister and inviting her to sit beside him. Ruan Yesheng nodded her head and sat with a dignified posture.
Xi Mo glanced at her a few times. After seeing that Ruan Yesheng was indeed not out of character and that her own image was still there, her line of sight finally fell back to the table.
With dinner in progress, it is inevitable that there would be drinking and socializing. Many people interacted and gave each other a toast. Having a drink means showing respect for the other person. Just who was it who set these rules? Xi Mo felt that this person should be beaten to death.
The actors sharing the same table could see that Yan Mu and Lin Qitang were either openly or casually taking care of Xi Mo. Hence, they also came to drink with Xi Mo to show politeness on the surface level. However, they hadn’t even raised their glasses when Yan Tinghuan acted one step ahead. She said with a smile, “I’m Ruan Ruan’s manager, surname Yan. During the shooting period, please take care of us.”
Seeing that Yan Tinghuan has spoken first and has even done so so enthusiastically, how could they not drink? Hence, they gave Yan Tinghuan a toast.
Xi Mo was unable to drink as she was suffering from heat exhaustion and managed to avoid it this time.
Sitting beside Xi Mo was a young man called Ding Pei. He started off from a music talent show and has his own group of fans. The role he was playing in the show was an eunuch serving the male lead Liu Zhao. Because of Liu Zhao, this eunuch makes a lot of appearances in the show.
Ding Pei looked delicate with a feminine appearance. He raised his glass somewhat shyly and said to Xi Mo, “Miss Ruan, I looked at the script and saw that we have quite a number of scenes together towards the later part of the show. Let me—”
His “Let me give you a toast” has yet to be spoken when Yan Tinghuan moved over, “Oh my god, you must be Ding Pei!”
Ding Pei was caught off guard and quickly nodded, “Yes… Yes.”
Yan Tinghuan showed a bright smile, “I’ve seen the show you have participated in. I’m your fan! Here, let me give you a toast!”
Ding Pei became even more shy and laughed in response. He couldn’t exactly give Xi Mo a toast now, so he hurriedly went over to give Yan Tinghuan a toast. “Thank you Miss Yan.”
Xi Mo managed to avoid drinking once again.
Yan Tinghuan’s face is as thick as ten city walls stacked together. She never seems to know what embarrassment is as she said to Ding Pei, “It is inconvenient now and neither do I have pen and paper. If there’s a chance in the future, you must give this loyal fan a signature!”
God knows that she had never listened to a single song from Ding Pei before.
Ding Pei was obviously a simple person. He was a big man but he smiled like a shy little flower, “Sure!”
Yan Tinghuan suddenly thought that she would have to avoid this kid next time.
People continued their exchanges and Xi Mo barely drank as most were drunk by Yan Tinghuan. Xi Mo doesn’t show much on the surface, but she felt a little touched in her heart. She knows that Yan Tinghuan thinks that she is Ruan Yesheng. The two of them are good friends and Yan Tinghuan is doing this for Ruan Yesheng, sacrificing herself for Ruan Yesheng. It had nothing to do with her who was currently occupying Ruan Yesheng’s body. After all, the other person didn’t know.
But she herself has indeed benefited from Yan Tinghuan’s help and couldn’t help looking at Yan Tinghuan more favourably. She used her eyes to signal Yan Tinghuan, asking her to stop drinking.
How can there be no interaction when they are sitting together? They don’t know each other initially, but if they were to sit and eat together, they would have to find a topic to talk about. Or else, the whole table would be like zombies who sat up from their coffins. The situation would be so awkward. Xi Mo is usually too lazy to talk. This time however, for the sake of establishing good relationships with others as well as to help shift the focus away from Yan Tinghuan, she easily utilised her acting skills and actually managed to talk out a beautiful world with the people sharing the same table.
They were bewitched by Xi Mo’s acting and seemed to have become blinded. They started to feel that Xi Mo had a good temper and was fun to talk to. Who cares if she got here through hugging someone’s thigh, everyone sitting here had hugged at least one or two thighs. It’s fine if she is easy to get along with, and their interaction became increasingly harmonious.
Afterwards, it was unknown whether it was Lin Qitang who had a slip of tongue at some other table or whether other people actually recognised Ruan Yesheng’s face. They started recalling that Ruan Yesheng had indeed starred in a show many years ago, just that she has lost her popularity now. She was also Xi Mo’s classmate. As people chatted, this information got passed around and everyone knew this trivial matter.
They were university classmates! They already knew each other!
The people sharing the same table immediately widened their eyes as if they had found an amazing gossip. They all looked at Xi Mo one after another and their inner thoughts that erupted seemed to have reached an unstoppable state—Turns out she got here by hugging Xi Mo’s thigh!
Xi Mo: “…”
Xi Mo couldn’t refute this time round.
She really did get here by hugging her own thigh.
Xi Mo almost lost her soul through this meal. After the dinner was over, she quickly returned to her room to rest. She had to start work early in the morning tomorrow, and she is still suffering from her heat exhaustion. If she doesn’t sleep now, her brain is going to burst.
After socializing with the producer and the various big shots, Ruan Yesheng looked back and Xi Mo was already long gone. Lu Qingming came over and urged her to sleep early, to which she nodded her head. The first thing she did when she returned to her room was to call Yan Tinghuan. She said, “You’ve worked hard. Are you okay?”
Fortunately, Yan Tinghuan was able to hold her drink and did not vomit. She was in her room holding a glass of water as she humphed, “I won’t die.”
She said lazily, “I shouldn’t have told you that she has heat exhaustion. Now it has implicated me and I have to help her block those drinks. Next time, if you’re worried, you should take it on yourself. Don’t ask me to.”
“Isn’t it because it was inconvenient? If I really went over, how would the people look at her?” Ruan Yesheng said with a laugh, “Besides, I understood the expression in her eyes. She clearly didn’t want me to go over.”
The crew has just been established. As a new face who has lost her popularity, it is not a good thing to come out too strongly and attract too much attention. Ruan Yesheng understood this, and it was even more so for Xi Mo. Therefore, Xi Mo was quite worried when she saw Yan Mu specially coming over earlier.
Yan Mu did come with good intentions and really did help Xi Mo to a certain extent. However, this was a double-edged sword for it has also given Xi Mo an enemy right at the get go—Those few female actresses headed by Liu Yusi found Xi Mo unpleasing to the eye. Their envy and jealousy were almost overflowing.
“Just by looking at the expression in her eyes and you already know that she doesn’t want you to go over.” Yan Tinghuan said with a grin, “You’re worried that she has to drink, so you got me to cover her. Why is there such a big difference between different people?”
Ruan Yesheng replied shamelessly, “I’m worried that my body will be messed up by her if she drinks alcohol after suffering from heat exhaustion. Tinghuan, you must get this right. You’re helping me, not her.”
“Yes yes yes. You’re worried that you will be messed up by her.” Yan Tinghuan went along with her.
Ruan Yesheng: “…”
Why are you talking like this?
Xi Mo felt that the two of them were birds of the same feather, and so these two birds communicated some matters through the phone. It was getting a little late. Ruan Yesheng hung up the phone and went to the bathroom for a shower. When she came out, she was wrapped in a bath towel. She walked towards the window which was partly covered by the curtains. The darkness outside was well matched by the street lamps, mixing into a hazy radiance which shone into the room.
The entrance of the hotel was more spacious. At this time, there were still many people walking about below. Ruan Yesheng was about to lower the curtain and go to sleep, but when she turned her head, she caught a glimpse of a figure standing under a large tree.
That figure was blurry and light couldn’t reach that area.
The people continued moving about. Only this shadow remained unmoving as if rooted. The figure was a ball of black blend in with the shadows of the trees, the body shape and gender indiscernible.
Ruan Yesheng stood by the window and squinted her eyes.
Very quickly, the figure left.
As if it never existed.
 Hugging someone’s thigh – To ride on someone’s coattail.
 Teacher – Not literally a teacher but more to express that he is a ‘teacher’-like person who will guide the actors along as he is the producer.
 Sister – In the entertainment industry, they will call more reputable artists or artists that have been in their line of work for a long time sister or brother out of respect.
 Sorry if the pun failed to get across. Ruan Yesheng was saying that she was worried that Xi Mo would ruin her body physically if Xi Mo drank alcohol while suffering from a heat exhaustion. Yan Tinghuan then used Ruan Yesheng words to make a sexual joke implying that Ruan Yesheng was worried that Xi Mo would mess up her body in a sexual way.