Expressway service area.
Qi Cong put the food and water he bought on the passenger seat and then got in the driver’s seat self-consciously.
Shen Jia, who was hiding in the back seat, lowered his phone, and said hurriedly, “Brother Cong, just leave it. I’ll drive, you—”
A thunderous roar came from the mobile phone in Shen Jia’s hand, which made him shut up immediately.
“Will you please pay more attention to me? What did I tell you before you went to Haicheng? Leave can be given to you, and work can all be postponed for you, but you must, absolutely, never, make bad news. What did you promise me at that time?”
Shen Jia explained, “I didn’t make any trouble. It was the paparazzi who scribbled fake news. I really didn’t fall in love. The person in the picture is Brother Cong. Those paparazzi are really blind. How does Brother Cong look like a girl—”
“Was it reasonable for you to drive down the street in your iconic sports car? Didn’t I tell you to drive that car less often?”
Shen Jia’s voice weakened. “I was in a hurry to return to Haicheng and forgot to change cars . . .”
“. . .” After a period of suffocating silence, the voice was lower than before, but the anger in it could be felt clearly, “When you come back, come directly to the company to see me no matter how late it is! It would be easier if you didn’t date. I will ask the public relations department to prepare for it. You’ll be with . . .”—there was the sound of a deep exhalation. “Take a photo with that Brother Cong of yours and try to restore the situation of the photo taken by the paparazzi as much as possible. When I ask you to clarify, you will post this photo on your Weibo.”
Shen Jia breathed a sigh of relief and hurriedly replied, “Let me ask Brother Cong first if he is willing to show his face in public.”
An obvious sound of exhalation could be heard, then the other side said through gritted teeth, “Brother Cong, Brother Cong! I think you will be killed by your good brother sooner or later!”
Beep. The line was dead.
Shen Jia sat up and secretly looked at Qi Cong, who was driving. Qi Cong raised his head and caught Shen Jia’s eyes in the rearview mirror. Shen Jia was surprised.
Before Shen Jia could feel embarrassed, Qi Cong took the initiative to ask, “Do you want to take a picture together to clarify the scandal?”
“. . . You heard me, Brother Cong.”
Shen Jia leaned in the back of the seat and held his face sheepishly. “That’s why it’s not good to be an artist. It is easy to have your private life discussed by others. If you’re not careful, you can—” He suddenly thought of something and abruptly changed his tune, “But it pays well, it pays particularly well! So Brother Cong, are you sure you don’t want to think about your debut?”
Qi Cong shook his head. “It’s not that I’m not thinking about making a debut. It’s just that this thing will not go too well.”
Shen Jia didn’t understand. “How can it not go well? You can sign with my sister’s company. With my help and the company’s support even if you don’t become popular immediately, there will always be some small popularity.”
“That’s what is not going well.” Qi Cong looked at the wide highway straight ahead. He seemed to see that his life was a mess, but he didn’t know where it all started. “I’ve been so absurd in the past three years, and I was not good to you. Your sister won’t allow me to suck your blood like this.”
Shen Jia was stunned. After he thought about it, he said in low spirits, “Not necessarily. My sister . . . You didn’t mean to be bad to me before. You had just forgotten. As long as we tell my sister that you have remembered the past, she should sign you.”
Qi Cong didn’t answer. He knew Shen Man. Although Shen Man seemed to be indifferent to Shen Jia, the younger half-brother from her stepmother, she really loved Shen Jia and protected him well. Shen Jia was just naive.
. . .
The two of them smoothly returned to Beishi before 4:00 p.m. Throughout the drive, Shen Jia’s agent didn’t call him again, so Shen Jia’s clarification Weibo post had not been sent yet.
When the car drove in Beishi, Qi Cong noticed that Shen Jia’s mobile phone vibrated twice. After that, Shen Jia held his mobile phone and chatted with someone typing very fast. In the middle, he also secretly put on headphones to listen to a few voice messages, and then his expression slowly collapsed.
Qi Cong could guess who Shen Jia was talking to. He moved his gaze away and, following the navigation guide, headed steadily towards Manju Entertainment, the agency ran by Shen Man. At 4:15 in the afternoon, the car was parked in the underground parking lot of Manju Entertainment’s building.
All the way, from getting out of the car to getting on the elevator, Shen Jia always looked like he wanted to say something but didn’t know how to say it. Qi Cong turned his eyes away from the elevator floor guide and looked at Shen Jia in the reflection on the elevator door.
“Sister Man is up there?”
Shen Jia froze and looked at Qi Cong, then suddenly took his hat off and grabbed his hair. “I talked to my sister in the car, and she . . . she said she wanted to see you.”
Shen Man’s original words were definitely not like this.
Qi Cong nodded. “I see.”
Shen Jia grabbed his hair again. “You know my sister’s temper. If my sister doesn’t speak well for a while, Brother Cong . . . I, I . . .”
“It’s alright.” Qi Cong smiled calmly at Shen Jia. “Which jobseeker can see the boss directly on their first day of joining the company? This is my chance, and I believe that Sister Man will not really embarrass me. Don’t speak up for me for a while and just listen to your sister.”
“What jobseeker . . .” Shen Jia lowered his head and put his hat on again. “You are my brother.”
The elevator stopped on the twenty-first floor. The two of them walked out of the elevator and went down the corridor before arriving at the door of Manju Entertainment. The door was made of glass, so Qi Cong saw Shen Man waiting in the front desk at first glance.
Shen Man was five years older than Shen Jia. She was Shen Jia’s half-sister and was tall and thin. She looked different from Shen Jia, who was clean and handsome. She looked more like her mother and had a cold temperament without any expression on her face.
Next to Shen Man stood a man around forty years old. He was of medium height and had a gentle appearance, but the lines between his eyebrows were deep and fierce. The aura the two people radiated while standing together could almost scare off children. At least, in Qi Cong’s view, Shen Jia beside him was very frightened; his hands were stiff when he pushed the door open.
Hearing the door open, Shen Man and the man looked up at the same time. Then their eyes fell on Qi Cong after quickly sweeping past Shen Jia.
Qi Cong looked back politely and didn’t take the initiative to say hello to Shen Man.
Shen Man looked at Qi Cong up and down, ignoring Shen Jia’s greeting. She turned her head to the man beside her and said, “Zhenxun, take JiaJia to his lounge for a while.”
Shen Jia hesitantly looked at Qi Cong and Shen Man. Unexpectedly, Shen Man didn’t say anything, so he accepted this arrangement and left with the agent, Zhao Zhenxun.
It was not until Shen Jia’s figure was completely out of sight that Shen Man looked at Qi Cong again and said, “Follow me.”
Qi Cong obeyed.
The two of them entered the chairman’s office. Shen Man motioned for Qi Cong to sit on the sofa while she went to the tea table and poured a glass of water.
“Do you really remember?”
Qi Cong looked at Shen Man, who wasn’t looking at him, and he sat on the sofa and said, “I remember.”
“Forgotten Jiang Zhaoyan?”
Shen Man finally looked at Qi Cong and put the glass of water in front of him.
“If you were the Qi Cong who still didn’t remember the previous twenty-one years from when we met last time and only had Jiang Zhaoyan in your eyes, I would directly ask you to leave. If you just remembered the past twenty-one years but didn’t forget Jiang Zhaoyan, I would give you a sum of money and ask you not to contact JiaJia again.”
“But I happen to be none of them.”
“When I saw you,” Shen Man sat on the sofa beside Qi Cong and her attitude became quite mild, “I was very grateful to you for pulling JiaJia at that time. With this alone, I would sign you immediately and help you make money, even if your age is far beyond the age range suitable for becoming an artist to make his debut.”
Qi Cong knew that there was something more.
“But I’m afraid.” Shen Man was very frank. “I’m afraid that one day you will remember your feelings for Jiang Zhaoyan that were totally unreasonable in other people’s eyes. I’m a business person, and I need to assess the risks rationally before I invest.”
“I’m afraid too.”
Shen Man’s expression changed.
Qi Cong looked directly into Shen Man’s eyes. “If I can, I don’t want to cling to JiaJia like a leech, but I’m afraid that I will lose my memory again. So I didn’t refuse JiaJia’s goodwill towards me because I need to make money to stabilize my parents’ life as soon as possible. Boss Shen, I’m very ashamed and sorry, but I really need a job that can start as soon as possible to earn money.”
Starting as soon as possible and making money, Shen Man heard Qi Cong’s implication—he didn’t ask to sign up to become an artist; he just wanted to ask for a job.
After a few seconds of silence, she said, “I’ll arrange a comprehensive physical examination for you.” Shen Man stood up and turned to her desk, took out a brochure from it and handed it to Qi Cong. “This is the hottest variety show in the past two years. After the draft enters the semi-finals, all major entertainment companies will put in a total of fifty trainees to conduct the final selection with these fifty contestants from the draft. Manju has five slots, and I can give you one, as long as you show me that you have the potential to be an artist. Whether it is singing, dancing, or even cross talk, you have to show me that you have something worth promoting and cultivating.”
Qi Cong was stunned.
“This year’s semi-finals are in October. This means one and a half months later. Before that, you will follow JiaJia as an assistant and get familiar with the working routine of the entertainment circle as soon as possible.” Shen Man bent down, took Qi Cong’s hand and put the brochure in his palm. “And you can call me Sister Man just like before.”
. . .
At five o’clock in the afternoon, Shen Jia finally responded to the buzzing “love” rumor spread online that made many fans on Weibo anxious and heartbroken.
Shen Jia V: Girlfriend? Here, I’d like to introduce my new assistant and my good brother, Qi Cong. In the past, my brother took care of me, so in the future, I will take care of my brother. [struggle] [struggle] [clenched fist]
There were two photos under this Weibo.
In the first photo, Qi Cong and Shen Jia, dressed in the same clothes as when they were photographed, stood at the front desk of Manju Entertainment together. One was smiling, leaning against the counter of the front desk, and the other had his arm on the shoulder of the former. Their chins were proudly raised, and the corners of their eyebrows and eyes were full of happiness.
The second photo was a bit old, taken inside a car shed. In the car shed, two teenagers in school uniforms stood side by side. One was slightly uncomfortable, tugging at the strap of his schoolbag and bowing his head to avoid the camera, and the other one was smiling, holding the shy one’s shoulder while his other hand was making a scissors motion to the camera. The sunlight illuminated their expressions, giving the photo a taste of youthfulness.
Fans and melon-eaters who came to see Shen Jia’s Weibo content and photos were all sluggish and then exploded in many different reactions.
Edited by : Faro