Under Fang Mingyan’s ‘personal’ guidance, Zhuo Yue’s audition went very smoothly. The A-list actor Lu Chenyang, who played the male lead, happened to be there that afternoon and even offered to perform with him. The relationship between the two was very good. After the performance, director Xie Anqing, who had been sullen because there was no suitable candidate for the third male lead, finally showed a smile, patted him on the shoulder and said ‘not bad’ twice.
Zhuo Yue was also very happy. When he saw that Lu Chenyang was leaving, he hurriedly went over to thank him.
“You’re welcome. We are in the same company now, so we should help each other.” The other party said with a smile, “Looking at Director Xie’s attitude shows that he is very satisfied with you. The film will start shooting soon, so I hope we can have a pleasant cooperation by then.”
Only then did Zhuo Yue realise that he was also an artist from Huasheng, and he smiled sheepishly, “If there’s a chance, I’ll definitely treat you to a meal.”
“It’s a deal.” When Lu Chenyang smiled, his eyebrows curved into a beautiful arc, handsome and gentle.
The reply came quickly. Zhuo Yue was packing his things in the rental house that afternoon when he received a call from Shen Luo—it was confirmed that he would play the third male lead. After calling his adoptive parents, who were far away in the countryside, he sat by the window and stared blankly for a while, then went downstairs carrying some necessities he had packed.
“Just this one bag?” Lin Hui, the assistant waiting downstairs, asked in surprise.
“Yeah.” Zhuo Yue took a few steps and turned to look at the old house on the sixth floor where he had rented. He left many things there, including the trophies he won.
As dusk approached, the sky turned bright red as if the clouds were about to burst into flames.
There was a voice in his heart, speaking softly.
──Let’s start over, Zhuo Yue.
When he returned to Hanguan No.15, Fang Mingyan had not returned yet. After greeting the butler and the cook, Zhuo Yue took a newspaper and went upstairs to read it. He originally lived in the guest room at the left end of the corridor on the third floor. Now, he was focusing on reading Lu Chenyang’s scandal in the newspaper. When he raised his eyes, he realised that he had unknowingly reached the fourth floor. When he was about to turn around to go down, his eyes swept across the half-open dark door, and there seemed to be something reflecting the dazzling golden light. He stopped and hesitated for a moment, then walked over curiously.
When he gently opened the door and saw the furnishings in the room, Zhuo Yue felt a chill down his body.
The light of the setting sun shone through the floor-to-ceiling windows and the transparent roof, casting a golden glow on the execution frame in the room, which was somewhat dazzling. Huge hooks and metal shackles hung from the ceiling’s sturdy steel beams. Three different types of massage tables were placed together. On the right side, there was a huge display cabinet covering the entire wall, neatly hanging various whips and paddles made of different materials in three rows. On the opposite wall, bundles of various ropes, some of them knotted, hung. On the left side, against the wall, there was a row of cabinets with glass doors reflecting a shimmering yellow under the sunlight, making it difficult to see clearly. In the centre of the room was a single black leather sofa, giving off a somewhat chilly vibe.
Zhuo Yue felt his heart beating uncontrollably as if he had accidentally stepped into some terrible secret. There was a suffocating fear, but he wanted to go deeper because of curiosity, which was dangerous and enchanting.
He walked slowly to the left. The thick light brown carpet made no sound when he stepped on it. A wide variety of sex toys were placed in the row of huge cabinets similar to disinfection cabinets, some of which were soaked in transparent liquid. This dazzling array of things made Zhuo Yue blush just by looking at them. There were many that he had never seen before and could not guess their uses.
Why was there a room like this?
What was Fang Mingyan going to do with these things?
He fled from the room in a hurry. His whole body was cold. He hid in the guest room, and the more he thought about it, the more frightened he became. In Zhuo Yue’s heart, Fang Mingyan was the benefactor who saved him from despair, his boss, and a friend he could trust. But now, what he saw disrupted all these original impressions.
Zhuo Yue didn’t know what kind of person he was hiding under that elegant and majestic appearance.
Shackles, chains, whips, those horrible and obscene instruments…each of them made him feel panicked. He began to doubt the man’s original intention of letting him live here and even imagined himself being hung in that room with his hands and feet tied, being beaten and tortured.
He wanted to escape. But he had nowhere to go, and even the rental house was vacated in the afternoon. Just as he was pacing the room anxiously, there was a knock on the door. It was the butler, Zhou Chi, who came to tell him to eat.
Zhuo Yue went downstairs and saw Fang Mingyan sitting at the dining table. With a smile on his face, he took the initiative to greet, “You are back.”
He had only one idea. To pretend everything was normal until he found a house and moved out. He was an actor, and acting was his talent.
“I heard you got the role.” The man picked up the chopsticks at hand and put a piece of ribs in his bowl. “I had Shen Luo arrange a fitness plan for you. You’re too thin, and if there are shots that require a bare upper body, it won’t look good.”
“I’ll do my best.” Zhuo Yue mouthed the reply, and his gaze lingered on his bony hands. The thought of the whips crossed his mind, and he immediately lowered his head to focus on his meal, making the entire dinner quiet. After eating, he went back to his room to hide on the pretext that he wanted to review the new script sent by his assistant. After a while, feeling thirsty, he went to get water, coincidentally finding Fang Mingyan also pouring water in the kitchen. Unable to retreat, Zhuo Yue had to go over with a forced expression. After pouring a glass of water, he was about to return to his room when his arm was suddenly grabbed. Fear surged within him, and he jerked his hand away, causing the glass to harshly collide with the countertop, producing a crisp sound as shattered fragments scattered.
This outcome startled him as well. He froze in place and looked at the other party with a pale face.
Fang Mingyan’s slender eyes narrowed slightly, and his gaze became deeper, staring at the panicked man in front of him.
“…My hand accidentally slipped.” Zhuo Yue tried his best to round everything up and smiled awkwardly, “I will clean it up and buy a similar cup back. Sorry.”
“What are you afraid of?” A dark light flowed in the man’s abyssal eyes.
This sentence made Zhu Yue’s heart tremble, but his face remained calm as he said, “I was just careless…I didn’t do anything bad, so what’s there to be afraid of?”
Fang Mingyan’s eyes swept across the broken pieces of the glass and then landed on him. “A good director should always pay attention to the actor’s condition and grasp every subtle expression of his.” The man stretched out his hand to lift his chin and smiled lightly, “Even though you didn’t hide away, the tension in your body and the momentary unnatural flicker in your eyes still reflect your true feelings. You dislike my touch.”
Zhuo Yue’s lips moved, but he didn’t say what he wanted to say.
“This was not the case. During the rehearsal of the kissing scene last night, there was no such reaction. Within almost a day of our limited interactions, you’ve developed a sense of aversion, even fear, towards me. There are few paths that could lead to such an effect. Perhaps you’ve heard some dreadful rumours about me, but merely hearing wouldn’t be enough to provoke such a strong resistance from you.” The man analysed the details in a calm voice, “Then it would have to be that you’ve seen something that scares you, and that belongs to me.” He paused, “Let’s say a room on the fourth floor.”
Zhuo Yue felt a gloomy chill all over his body. He tried his best to hide the panic in his eyes and said, “I don’t understand what you mean. What’s there in the room on the fourth floor?”
Fang Mingyan slowly raised the corners of his lips, “Want to go up and have a look?”
Zhuo Yue’s hands and feet were cold, and he quickly glanced around. There was no one else in this huge room except the two of them. He was so panicked that he took half a step back, approached the knives placed in the kitchen, and said in a dry voice, “Fang Mingyan… I admit I went to the fourth floor, but it was unintentional… I can act like I don’t know anything; just let me go…”
“What if I’m not letting go?” The man approached him, held his hand that was going to get the knife, narrowed his eyes slightly, and said slowly and gloomily, “You saw what’s in that room, so let’s try it all the same, shall we?”
“No…” Zhuo Yue could no longer maintain his composure; his eyes turned red, and he begged in panic, “You can’t…”
Watching him tremble in fear, Fang Mingyan’s facial expression gradually changed, and the curve of his lips grew wider until he burst into laughter. Releasing him, he leaned against the bar and asked, “In your imagination, am I the kind of pervert who ties people at home and subjects them to various forms of torture?”
Zhuo Yue huddled in a corner of the kitchen, looking at him warily with dark pupils, obviously acquiescing.
“You entered areas you shouldn’t have entered without my permission, snooped into my privacy, and distorted my character based on imagination without understanding the situation. Mr. Zhuo Yue, don’t you think your actions are highly inappropriate?”
“It’s my fault for entering without permission.” He stood awkwardly by the refrigerator, “But those things…”
“Those are training tools.” The man openly confessed, “I am a dom, or in simple terms, training teacher. BDSM is my hobby.” Looking at the other person’s confused expression, he smiled and said, “You know SM?”
Zhuo Yue nodded.
“Some individuals find it challenging to achieve the desired pleasure through conventional sexual activities, so they turn to more intense means, and SM is one of them. The dominant party derives satisfaction through exerting control, while the submissive party gains pleasure from being subjected to various forms of stimulation. BDSM is a collective term for these behaviours, encompassing bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism. It’s a rather unconventional form of sexual expression. In this dynamic, the Dom, as the dominant partner, issues commands and maintains control, while the Sub, as the submissive partner, complies with the commands. This kind of relationship is built on voluntary participation, rather than the forced and abusive scenario you might imagine.”
“Are you saying they willingly get beaten, willingly get tied up and suspended, willingly take on the submissive role?” Zhuo Yue asked with a frown.
“…” He felt it was unbelievable, and his eyebrows tightened, “Can you get the so-called ‘more intense’ pleasure in this way?”
Fang Mingyan raised his lips and looked at him with a half-smile, “Want to give it a try?”
The voice was full of temptation, like a blooming poppy exuding an alluring fragrance or like a feather falling on the lake, gently creating waves in his heart.
Zhuo Yue was startled and turned away, “I don’t want to.”
The man smiled, poured another glass of water and handed it over again, “Drink.”
He finally relaxed, took the cup, and took a sip.
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