With the sound of firecrackers, the old year had passed like this.
At the beginning of the new year, the broadcast of ‘The Right Time to Fall in Love’ caused a huge response across the country. The romance between Zhuo Yue and Sun Xinxin, the lead singer of a girl group, was like a fairy tale of a prince and a princess, captivating the hearts of many young girls. Besides the regular weekly filming of this program, he also took on a television drama, juggling between shoots, advertisements, fan meetings, and other activities with a schedule that was frighteningly packed.
In the entertainment industry, the turnover of talent was extremely rapid, with a constant stream of newcomers eagerly eyeing the positions of their predecessors, plotting to replace them. Therefore, everyone in the industry understood the importance of striking while the iron was hot. Artists like Zhuo Yue, who had experienced setbacks in the past, understood the value of seizing opportunities. During the busiest times, he slept for only about two hours a day. In front of others, he always smiled brightly, maintaining his best condition while working. He was no longer the cold and unsociable person he used to be when interacting with others; instead, he was cheerful and friendly with everyone. He would only allow himself to rest once all the work was finished, either closing his eyes for a nap in the car or on the plane, all exhausted.
Lin Hui was a little worried because Zhuo Yue was becoming more and more silent in private. After spending these days together, he understood that Zhu Yue was not a person who was good at getting close to others and that those warm and gregarious moments were actually just acting. This made him even more tired, like a string that had been stretched for a long time, operating under a constant overload. The company assigned him a special nanny car, a stylist, and an agent. When he was not working, he hardly spoke at all and even communicated with them very little. Lin Hui reported the situation to Shen Luo, and she called Zhuo Yue to ask if it was necessary to reduce the schedule appropriately. Zhuo Yue immediately rejected it, saying that he just lacked sleep and was not energetic, so he would be fine after a nap. Lin Hui stood aside and looked at him worriedly, not knowing what to do.
An accident happened during the filming of ‘The Right Time to Fall in Love’.
The two were filming the scene of exchanging ceramic cups in a ceramics museum. Zhuo Yue stood up and went to pick up the cup in Sun Xinxin’s hand, only to feel an overwhelming dizziness. His eyesight went dark, and he fell to the ground, and the cup was shattered.
The news that he fainted during filming quickly spread like wildfire, and many reporters and fans gathered at the entrance of the hospital to wait for the news. An hour later, Huasheng issued an official statement saying that Zhuo Yue fainted due to hypoglycemia and was currently hospitalised for observation. Fans refused to give up and scolded Huasheng for being inconsiderate to the artist and making Zhuo Yue faint from overworking.
When Fang Mingyan opened the door to the ward, Zhuo Yue had already woken up, leaning on the bedside to hook up an IV drip, talking to Shen Luo, and was slightly startled when he saw him come in.
“Lin Hui, come with me to the doctor to ask about the situation. I didn’t quite catch it just now.”Shen Luo made a lame excuse, winked at Lin Hui, and the two of them fled out together.
They were the only two left in the ward.
Zhuo Yue, who was wearing a hospital gown, had a look of discomfort on his face. He lowered his head and said, “I’ve caused you trouble.”
“Indeed.” The man took off his cashmere coat and threw it on the small sofa, laughing at himself, “I’ve gone to great lengths to make you famous, but I’m still being criticised by your fans, who say that I’ve been squeezing and abusing you in order to make money and that I don’t feed you or let you sleep. I didn’t even know I was such a vicious, bad boss.”
“I’m sorry.” Zhuo Yue felt a little guilty, “I didn’t expect this… I was in a hurry today, and I didn’t have time to have breakfast…”
“That’s fine.” Fang Mingyan sat down on the stool beside the bed, took an orange, peeled it and handed it to him, “I’ll give you a week off.”
Zhuo Yue was surprised, “I have a TV drama and an announcement to make.”
“Since I gave you a week’s holiday, I will be responsible for coordinating these issues, so you don’t need to worry about it.” The man glanced at him and said, “I gave you a holiday to rest. If I find out you’re not behaving yourself during your vacation…” The words ended here; the deep gaze came with a sense of oppression. Zhuo Yue pursed his lips and lowered his head to avoid his gaze, “I will take a good rest, thank you, Chairman Fang.”
Zhuo Yue slept for two whole days.
The previous period of time was like a war every day, which made him exhausted. Now, he finally had a chance to take a break, and his whole body relaxed like a bear that only wanted to hibernate, curled up in bed and not wanting to get up, with the assistant delivering meals to the door three times a day.
Zhuo Yue’s previous reluctance to speak worried Lin Hui. He had been in this industry for some time, and he also understood that these celebrities who were glamorous in front of others were under a lot of pressure. Some of them suffered from severe depression and had to take a lot of medication. Now Zhuo Yue was much more energetic and talked a little more. Every day during meals, Lin Hui would sit down and chat with him for a while.
The two of them were talking about the new drama when the cell phone rang. Zhuo Yue showed a surprised expression when he saw the call. He got up and walked to the window to answer the call. After saying a few words, he hung up. He pondered for a moment and said to Lin Hui, “Come pick me up at 11 o’clock tomorrow.”
“Is there a social engagement?”
“I’m having a meal with my brother. Don’t call Lao Yang and the others; just send me there.”
Lin Hui nodded. He was always on time and was waiting downstairs in the apartment at eleven o’clock sharp the next day. Zhuo Yue showed up wearing a mask and a long down jacket and asked Lin Hui to take him to the Golden Bay Hotel.
This hotel was, at best, a four-star hotel, and its location was a bit off. The police caught a lot of gamblers here a while ago, and the business had plummeted recently. Lin Hui advised, “This place is a bit…Yue ge, why don’t you ask your brother to eat somewhere else?”
“He never listens to me.” Zhuo Yue smiled bitterly, “I haven’t contacted him for a long time. It’s rare that he took the initiative to ask me to have a meal. If he proposed to change places, he would probably never call me again.”
“I rarely hear you mention him.”
“We don’t have much contact. He has hated me since he was a child.” Seeing Lin Hui’s surprised expression, he smiled, “A strange guy suddenly moved into the house and took away things that originally belonged to him. It was probably difficult to accept.”
Lin Hui didn’t know what to say. He sighed, parked the car in front of the hotel, and said, “I’ll wait below. Ge, you should be careful. If those paparazzi take pictures, they will write nonsense.”
Zhuo Yue responded and got out of the car.
The last time he and Zhuo Hai met was on Christmas Day a year ago when the other party asked him for 50,000 yuan. Since Zhuo Yue became a celebrity, Zhuo Hai has always asked him for money. Zhuo Yue found it difficult to deal with his younger brother. He was grateful to his adoptive parents, so he was always very generous to Zhuo Hai in terms of money, almost always responding to his requests. However, Zhuo Hai did not have a fixed job and hung out every day. He wanted to persuade, but every time he opened his mouth, he was rebuffed with a nonchalant tone. Later, he was hidden away, and his adoptive father was in debt. Zhuo Hai never contacted him again. His original number was abandoned, and he couldn’t even contact his parents. This time, he contacted him uncharacteristically and made no mention of money at all.
The elevator reached the third floor, and Zhuo Hai was outside the door. He was tall and thin, wearing a black leather jacket and a pair of oversized sunglasses on the bridge of his nose, covering half of his face. There was also a muscular man standing next to him.
“Ge.” Zhuo Hai grinned and walked over, put a hand on his shoulder and said, “Long time no see.”
This rare enthusiasm made Zhu Yue feel a strange and uneasy feeling in his heart. His eyes fell on the other person who was not moving, and he asked, “Ah Hai, who is this?”
“Friends who are here to have a meal.” Zhuo Hai hooked his shoulder and walked towards the private room area, “It was too lonely only for us to have a meal, so I invited a few friends to join in the fun. They didn’t believe you were my brother; I wanted to let you meet them, so they opened their eyes.”
Zhuo Yue stopped and said with some embarrassment, “Ah Hai, I’m not suitable for appearing in crowded places. Can we find a place to eat alone?”
Zhuo Hai let go of him and sneered, “I think you meant it’s not suitable for having meals with me, right?”
“That was not what I meant…”
“Come on, I understand. You are a big star, and I am a gangster, and you look down on me. That’s right. What kind of friends can Zhuo Hai have? How unworthy is it to eat with you?” After saying that, he turned around and left.
“Ah Hai!” Zhuo Yue became anxious, took his arm, and said, “You know that’s not what I meant. There is no such thing between us brothers.”
Zhuo Hai’s face and expression were hidden by his sunglasses. He was silent for a while and asked, “Do you want to eat this meal?”
“Let’s go.” Zhuo Yue agreed reluctantly.
Pushing open the private room’s door, Zhuo Yue frowned due to the heavy smell of smoke.
There were only two people sitting at the large round table. The man sitting at the main seat was about forty years old, with a thick yellow-gold chain hanging around his neck. The man next to him had yellow hair and a deep scar on his chin. Four burly men who looked like thugs stood behind them, with blue-grey tattoos on their exposed necks and arms, staring at Zhu Yue with cold eyes. The muscular man who had been following them did not come in and seemed to have stayed outside the door.
Holding the cigarette between his two fingers, he took out a puff of smoke, raised the corners of his lips and said, “Sit down. I didn’t expect that you kid actually has a celebrity brother.”
“Ge, sit down.” Zhuo Hai’s voice was a little lower. He pushed Zhu Yue to sit next to the man and sat next to him. At this moment, he took off his sunglasses, revealing his whole face. Zhu Yue looked at the bruises and bruises on his eye circles and said in shock, “What’s wrong with your face…”
“It was an accident.” Zhuo Hai glanced at the gold chain with an embarrassed look and said, “This is Chairman Huang. I work under him. He has always taken good care of me. This one next to me is Zhou ge.”
Zhuo Yue saw the situation in front of him and had a rough guess in his mind. The injuries on Zhuo Hai’s face were definitely not caused by himself. It was most likely caused by the people in front of him. He called him here because he probably owed money to others. However, the matter had come to this, and he couldn’t ignore it, so he could only greet the other party politely, “Hello, I am Zhuo Yue, Ah Hai’s big brother.”
The man with the golden chain flicked the cigarette ashes casually, looked at him with a smile on his lips, and said, “I’ve seen you on TV. You two brothers don’t look alike, but you are much prettier than Zhuo Hai.” The gaze was like a snake staring at the frog, so nakedly full of desire that it made Zhuo Yue’s whole body stiff. He forced himself to smile and said, “Thank you, Chairman Huang, for taking care of Ah Hai all the time. He is young and energetic and doesn’t know what’s important. If he makes any mistakes, please be kind and considerate of him.”
“You didn’t even raise your glass. Aren’t you being a little less sincere in your thanks?” The yellow-haired man spoke.
Zhuo Yue looked ashamed and said very sincerely, “I should have toasted Chairman Huang, but I have a shoot in the afternoon, and I can’t drink. You also know that in our industry, if we don’t film well, we will have nothing to eat. Next time I’ll be the host and I’ll toast you properly when the time comes.”
The man with the golden chain laughed and said, “It’s hard to be in your line of work, but it’s not easy to be in our line of work either. Your brother offended someone in the business and came to me for protection. I kindly took him in and asked him to help me. In the end, he plucked his feathers and put the money in his pocket and spent it happily.” He stared at Zhu Yue with his triangular eyes and asked, “What is this called? Eating other’s portion?”
Zhuo Yue’s suspicion was confirmed. It was really about money. He glanced at Zhuo Hai, who had his head lowered and did not dare to speak out, and said with a smile, “Chairman Huang, how much money has he taken from the company? I will find a way to pay him back…”
“Money is an external possession, not important.” The man with the golden chain interrupted him, put the cigarette butt in his hand into the ashtray, and said, “There are rules for you in your line of work, and there are rules for us in our line of work. The only reason your brother’s hand is still on his arm is because he promised to exchange it for something else.” The man looked at him with a smirk, “Now You should know why he asked you to come here.”
Zhuo Yue’s heart suddenly sank, and he said stiffly, “Chairman Huang, I can pay you back all the money he took, or you can charge interest…”
“Ah Hai.” The yellow-haired man said to Zhuo Hai, “He came here especially to save you. Why don’t you give him a toast?”
Zhuo Hai stood up like a thunderbolt, took the cup filled with wine and put it into Zhuo Yue’s hand. Then he picked up his own cup and touched it with him. He said, “Ge, I toast you.” He then tilted his head back and drank all the alcohol in his cup. Glancing in the direction of the host’s seat, he whispered with a lowered voice, “Ge, you should drink this wine; it might make you feel better later…”
Zhuo Yue was so angry that he threw the cup at him, got up and walked out. However, the thugs were already prepared, grabbed him, and pinned him down on the chair again. One of them reached into his pocket, snatched the phone away, and turned it off.
“Let go! You are breaking the law!” Zhuo Yue struggled and shouted.
The man with the golden chain walked up to him, pinched his chin with cigarette-smelling hands, and said with a sinister smile, “Since the Star Zhuo doesn’t want to drink, let’s do something more interesting somewhere else.”
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