Chapter 31 – Astray Actor (3)

Chen Luosong didn’t stay long in the mall. In March, it was already dark by evening. He told Pagoda-Bearing Heavenly King Li to go back and rest early, then left.

As the city lights came on, the warm yellow streetlights cast long, then short shadows. The air seemed filled with a mix of spring and the city. Clouds were swirling in the sky.

Watching the figure recede into the distance, Zhou Ji felt a sudden tightness in his chest. Before his brain could react, he already heard his own voice.

Across the street, he asked, “Can I invite Brother Chen to dinner next time?”

The person who was gradually walking away turned his head. His tousled hair was lifted by the wind, and his brows and eyes were faintly illuminated. He slightly raised the hand holding his phone and tapped the black screen twice with his fingers.

——For any matter, you can contact me by phone.

Understanding his meaning in a strange way, Zhou Ji stood still, watching the figure get into a car.

The place where Chen Luosong lived was quite a distance from the school. By the time he actually got home, it was already late.

After returning to his room and taking a shower, he glanced at his phone and saw the message sent earlier by Assistant Bai.

There was nothing that needed urgent attention. The assistant had just sent the schedule for the next day, reminding him not to forget about the banquet in the evening.

With his hair still damp, he bowed his head slightly to respond to the message, then put the phone aside and picked up a book from the cabinet.

As he turned the pages, a light rain began to fall outside the window. It rained intermittently through the night, and by the next morning, the air in the yard was filled with a damp scent.

Assistant Bai arrived in the afternoon.

Chen Luosong roughly guessed that the assistant came out of concern, so he didn’t say much and let him in.

There were still several hours before the banquet started, so there was plenty of time.

Bai Mingwei was indeed worried. Based on past experience, Chen Luosong might forget about this event or be late due to spending too much time choosing a male or female companion.

This banquet was relatively important, so he came early to ensure everything went smoothly.

Things turned out much better than he expected, or rather, completely different. When he arrived, Chen Luosong was already in the process of changing clothes, wearing a thin shirt with some buttons still undone.

His task then became making tea. This time, he brewed Longjing tea, which was refreshing and invigorating, instead of the usual health teas.

The process of making tea was elaborate, and by the time he returned to the room with the brewed tea, he heard a voice speaking inside.

The door to the room was ajar, and he could see Chen Luosong standing inside, talking on the phone while tying his tie.

The call ended just as he arrived. Chen Luosong glanced at him briefly, put the phone aside, and without mentioning the call or anything else, thanked him.

After placing the tea down, Bai Mingwei left the room. A moment later, he remembered something and returned to ask if Chen Luosong had decided on a male or female companion for the evening.

Typically, such decisions should have been made in advance, but the usual rules didn’t apply to Chen Luosong, and last-minute changes were not uncommon.

Chen Luosong, leaning against the desk, took a sip of tea and said, “No need.”

The desk was by the window. The air conditioning was off, and the window was wide open, letting in the sunlight and the breeze, which ruffled his shirt.

Despite the sunshine, the March wind carried a distinct chill. Bai Mingwei handed the coat hanging nearby to Chen Luosong, who put it on before picking up his teacup again.

Before Chen Luosong could drink more tea, Bai Mingwei said, “Mr. Chen, your health isn’t suited for drinking too much strong tea.”

Chen Luosong acknowledged this, but still drank a couple more sips.

If he didn’t drink tea, he would feel sleepy at the banquet. Comparing work and attending the banquet, he would much rather work.

After finishing the tea, the two of them left the house and got into the car heading to the banquet. As usual, Bai Mingwei sat in the front passenger seat.

The venue was quite a distance away. When they left, it was still light outside, but by the time they arrived, the streetlights were already on.

There was no back entrance at this venue, so all the invited guests had to enter through the main entrance.

The streets on both sides were cordoned off, and the vehicles moved slowly. Through the car window, they could see people holding various light boards, their voices noisy and clearly audible despite the closed windows.

This banquet had also invited actors and celebrities. The guest list had been released earlier, and most of the people by the roadside were fans of these actors and celebrities.

As the car moved forward, they saw photographers with cameras and video recorders. Flashlights kept going off, and both entertainment and financial journalists were present.

When the car stopped, Bai Mingwei got out first. He then opened the rear door and helped the person in the back seat out.

From the moment the car door opened, the flashlights kept flashing, and the sound of shutters was continuous.

After getting out of the car, Chen Luosong turned his head and thanked Bai Mingwei, who then released his hold at the right moment.

The lights on both sides were blinding, but thankfully the path ahead was cleared. They only needed to walk straight forward.

From the front courtyard to the entrance, people were already waiting for them when they arrived.

As they entered the venue, someone immediately came forward to greet them.

At first, Bai Mingwei stayed close to Chen Luosong, helping him with his wine glass or engaging in small talk.

He soon realized his concerns were unnecessary.

Some people are naturally the center of attention, effortlessly holding the power of speech and control.

——This was very different from before.

Bai Mingwei couldn’t pinpoint whether the change was due to the car accident or because Chen Luosong was no longer focused on supporting minor celebrities. Either way, the feeling he gave off was very different.

As people gathered around, others greeted him, and when Bai Mingwei looked back, he realized he had become separated from the person who should have been by his side.

Nodding politely to the person he was talking to, he glanced at the time.

From the moment they entered the venue, nearly two hours had passed.

He remembered that when he picked Mr. Chen up from the hospital, the doctor had advised that he shouldn’t stand for long periods or drink too much alcohol.

While chatting with someone in front of him, Bai Mingwei scanned the venue with his eyes and spotted the person he was looking for on the other side.

Ending the conversation and taking a habitual sip of his drink, he put down his glass and walked straight towards the other side.

From a distance, it was hard to see clearly, but as he got closer, he finally saw who was standing in front of Chen Luosong.

He was tall with a passable face, someone Bai Mingwei didn’t recognize—likely a minor celebrity brought by someone else. As he got closer, he noticed the person’s slightly flushed face and unsteady gaze.

Just as Bai Mingwei reached Chen Luosong’s side, he heard the person ask, “Can I get your contact information?”

Bai Mingwei stood quietly nearby, observing Chen Luosong without interrupting. Based on Chen Luosong’s past preferences for minor celebrities, this person seemed to fit his type.

Chen Luosong smiled and declined the request.

Bai Mingwei was momentarily surprised but quickly stepped forward, taking the wine glass from Chen Luosong’s hand. He said, “Mr. Chen, it’s time for you to rest.”

The rejected person, who initially seemed eager to continue the conversation, saw Bai Mingwei and awkwardly left after nodding.

After the person left, Chen Luosong didn’t pay much attention and instead slightly stretched his hand, scanning the room for a quieter place to sit.

Bai Mingwei bent down slightly and asked, “Mr. Chen, are you alright?”

With Chen Luosong’s pale complexion, it was difficult to gauge his physical condition just by looking at his face.

Chen Luosong replied, “I’m fine.”

He glanced at the seat next to him and said, “Sit.”

Bai Mingwei sat down.

Their spot was closer to the edge of the venue, next to a floor-to-ceiling window. Turning his head, Bai Mingwei could see the constant flow of traffic and distant city lights. Behind them, the warm yellow lights of the venue contrasted with the cool white light from outside. Chen Luosong rested his face on his hand, gazing at the flickering lights of the distant buildings.

Bai Mingwei followed his gaze and unconsciously took a sip of his drink.

The rich taste of grape spread in his mouth.


He froze mid-motion, realizing that he wasn’t drinking wine and that this wasn’t his drink.

The previously quiet Chen Luosong, who had been looking out the window, turned to him and noticed the wine glass at his lips.

In the silence, Chen Luosong spoke, “Were you that thirsty?”

He said, “This is grape juice, not very thirst-quenching.”


Assistant Bai realized it was indeed grape juice. He couldn’t think of anything to say immediately, so he finally commented, “This grape juice is pretty good.”

It was clear that he was trying hard to come up with something to say, and Chen Luosong laughed.

A conspicuous gaze came their way. Chen Luosong glanced slightly to the side and saw someone standing behind a statue in the center of the venue.

He noticed it, and so did Bai Mingwei.

It was the person who had asked for Chen Luosong’s contact information earlier. The person’s eyes were wide with disbelief, and upon realizing he was spotted, he hurriedly averted his gaze.

—If he wasn’t mistaken, the person probably misunderstood the situation.

Bai Mingwei wanted to say something, but the person next to him had already looked away, seeming unconcerned or unaware of what had shocked the other person.

Chen Luosong just glanced at the time and said, “It’s about time to go.”

Then they left. The people at the venue escorted them all the way to the parking lot, saying goodbye as the car started.

The vehicle slowly pulled away. After leaving the parking lot, Chen Luosong lowered the window and loosened his tie a bit.

They inevitably encountered the evening rush hour on the way back.

The night breeze blew in through the car window, dispersing the scent of alcohol and making him feel more alert.

Chen Luosong turned his head to look outside and saw the still-lit billboards on the roadside mall.

One corner of the billboard had a signature of the endorser, though it was too scrawled to read clearly, but the accompanying note was recognizable.

According to the story setting, this was the male lead of the book, a minor celebrity he had previously supported. Based on the timeline, the person had now become a major star, and the next step would be seeking revenge for being coerced into signing an agreement under unsavory circumstances.

The wind from the back was noticeable. Bai Mingwei, still sitting in the front passenger seat, turned his head and saw Chen Luosong looking out the window.

Following his gaze, Bai Mingwei also saw the prominent billboard outside the mall and recognized the person on it.

It was Xu Wen, a celebrity whom Chen Luosong had supported in the past. After becoming famous, Xu Wen had promptly broken the contract. Despite genuinely liking Xu Wen, Chen Luosong hadn’t retaliated for the contract breach.

Chen Luosong turned his head back. Bai Mingwei looked at the tousled hair fluttering in the wind from the back seat and finally just said, “Be careful not to catch a cold.”

Chen Luosong waved his hand. “I won’t.”


The person who didn’t catch a cold while riding with the car window open was fine, but Zhou Ji, who had been perfectly healthy, caught a cold two weeks later.

After signing with a new company, a male actor in a production crew injured his leg, and they needed a replacement. Zhou Ji was taken for an audition, where he was cast on the spot and signed the contract immediately. The scenes involving the previous actor had to be reshot, so the crew was working around the clock. On top of that, he filmed a segment in the rain, and after that, he came down with a cold.

Colds are contagious, so Zhou Ji was resting in a hotel. The crew was too busy to look after him, and his manager was out of town dealing with other people’s affairs. Left alone, he took cold medicine, read scripts when his head was clear, and slept or chatted with people when it wasn’t. Often, he fell asleep in the middle of a conversation.

Having been like this since he was a child, he was used to it. No matter how severe the cold, he could always rely on cold medicine and time to recover.

When he woke up again, it was still daylight outside, with slanting sunlight casting shadows on the floor, indicating it was already afternoon. His phone, left on the side, was still on, displaying a chat interface. He wiped the sweat from his forehead and picked up the phone to check it.

Before falling asleep, he had been chatting with Brother Chen, mentioning his cold as usual. At the end of the conversation, Brother Chen had asked for his hotel details, which Zhou Ji had provided, with the reply time being over an hour ago.

Feeling even groggier than before, Zhou Ji was about to put down the phone and sit up when the phone started vibrating.

The caller ID displayed “Mr. Chen.”

Zhou Ji then remembered that he had only changed the chat nickname and not the contact name.

Clearing his slightly hoarse throat, he answered the call. Before he could speak, the voice on the other end asked:

“What is your room number?”

The soft voice through the phone was slightly distorted, but the unique tone and cadence were still easily recognizable.

Before his brain could fully process the meaning of the question, Zhou Ji reflexively sat up and blurted out his room number. He then got out of bed to find his missing slippers, opened the window for ventilation, and just as he reached the door, there was a knock.

He opened the door.

Standing there with his phone still in hand, the person’s figure was illuminated by the faint glow of the phone screen, which highlighted his light-colored eyes.

The call ended, and the person put away his phone. He lifted his other hand and touched Zhou Ji’s forehead.

The cool hand on his forehead made Zhou Ji involuntarily speak, “Brother Chen…”

The person at the door moved his hand from Zhou Ji’s forehead to his hair, ruffling it slightly as he looked up at him and said, “We’re going to the hospital.”

Quickly, Zhou Ji put on his yellow chick hoodie, and the person standing at the door helped him put on a mask, and with his ID and room card in hand, they were ready to go.

Zhou Ji, being quite tall, bent down slightly to make it easier for the other person to put on his mask.

Then he was led out of the room, leaving the stuffy room for the fresh, breezy outside world.

The nearest hospital was a bit of a distance away. Chen Luosong glanced at the navigation and motioned for Zhou Ji to get into the car.

Zhou Ji got in and fastened his seatbelt. Still wearing the mask, he turned to look at the person in the driver’s seat and finally said, “…Is Brother Chen driving today?”

Chen Luosong gripped the steering wheel, glanced at the rearview mirror, turned the car around, and drove out of the parking lot, responding, “This way is faster.”

The driver was not always waiting in the car, so it was necessary to inform him in advance. It was slightly faster to get the car keys from Assistant Bai and drive than to wait for the driver.

Zhou Ji saw him driving for the first time.

The other person had a driver, so Zhou Ji always thought he couldn’t drive or wasn’t very skilled. The reality was quite different from what he had imagined; the other person drove steadily and quickly. The roadside guardrails turned into fleeting shadows, rapidly receding from view.

Zhou Ji honestly asked, “Brother Chen, are you driving at the speed limit?”

Chen Luosong casually responded with a yes.

— He really admitted it.

The boy in the yellow chick hoodie didn’t say anything further, just quietly touched his slightly burning ears.

It took less than ten minutes to get from the hotel to the hospital.

In just a few moments, the person who had been groggy and lying in bed was now in the consulting room.

The smell of disinfectant wasn’t pleasant, but it was more reassuring than the hotel’s incense. There was a doctor in front of him, someone quietly accompanying him beside him, and his mind wasn’t as foggy as it had been in the hotel.

The diagnosis came out quickly: a cold and fever, with some dehydration. If it had been delayed any longer, it could have been dangerous. Fortunately, seeking medical attention was timely. The doctor prescribed some medicine and informed him that he needed to stay for an IV drip.

He was transferred from the clinic to a hospital room, where a nurse stood by the bed administering the intravenous injection.

Chen Luo sat beside him, watching the needle enter the vein on the back of his hand, then slightly turned his gaze towards the person on the hospital bed.

The person lying in bed didn’t even frown.

Chen Luosong slightly raised his eyes and asked, “Doesn’t it hurt?”

Zhou Ji said, “No, it doesn’t.”

He looked like he really wasn’t afraid.


Chen Luosong smiled and said, “There was someone before who would make a fuss over a mosquito bite.”

Objectively speaking, his smile was very attractive, making it hard to look away. However, subjectively, Zhou Ji felt that this smile inexplicably made his heart skip a beat.

He immediately said, “That person must have been making a fuss over nothing.”

Chen Luosong stood up, vigorously ruffled the hair of the person on the bed, and said with a laugh, “Indeed.”

With his hair in disarray, Zhou Ji slightly lowered his head, making it easier for him to ruffle.

The hand on his head was cold but very comfortable.

He didn’t like others touching him, including his hair, but Brother Chen was an exception.

He liked being in contact with Brother Chen, liked the coolness of Brother Chen’s hand.

After ruffling his hair twice, Chen Luo withdrew his hand.

The nurse finished her work, explained the precautions, and left. The door of the hospital room closed, blocking out the noise from the hallway.

Zhou Ji looked at the white sheets beneath him, watched the slowly dripping IV, then turned his head to look at the person sitting by the bed. Finally, he asked the question he should have asked at the beginning, “Brother Chen, you were working today, right? How did you manage to come over?”

Chen Luosong, resting his face on his hand and looking down at the digital files on his phone, replied indifferently, “I just happened to have time.”

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