Chapter 37 – Astray Actor (9)

Chen Luosong tilted his head and took a sniff, but he couldn’t smell anything. He could only say, “Really?”

He summarized briefly, “I met someone yesterday, and something unexpected happened in the middle of it.”

— Indeed, his summary was very concise.

Zhou Ji held him tightly, without easing his grip.

Chen Luosong let him hug as much as he wanted. It wasn’t until the hourly chime from the nearby square sounded that he said, “If we don’t eat now, there won’t be any time.”

If he remembered correctly, Zhou Ji had work in the afternoon and only a short lunch break.

Only then did Zhou Ji let go.

With little time and no intention of finding a restaurant for lunch, Chen Luosong brought lunch from the hotel. In the car, there was a small table usually used for placing a laptop, which was just right for a few thermal boxes. While the person next to him was having lunch, Chen Luosong’s phone vibrated. He glanced at the message.

It was from Assistant Bai, saying that the draft agreement was ready.

Highly efficient. After replying with a few words, Chen Luosong put down his phone.

The short lunch break was indeed very brief. After eating and exchanging a few words, the time had already passed.

They arranged their next meeting time, and Zhou Ji returned to the film crew. Halfway there, he looked back at the vehicle parked by the roadside in the distance.

The vehicle’s turn signal lit up, slowly drove back onto the road, then accelerated and disappeared from sight.

When he returned to the film crew, others laughed and said they were surprised he was willing to come back. He also smiled, showing no signs of anything unusual, though he felt a strange sense of unease.

He later found out the source of this strange feeling.

During this period, everything had been calm with no major events, but then someone suddenly revealed that a top domestic star had abruptly parted ways with their agency, quickly signed with a new company, and paid an astronomical breach-of-contract fee without hesitation.

They remembered that the contract between the artist and the company was signed a long time ago. The contract was essentially designed to prevent the artist from leaving the company. Although they weren’t fully aware of the artist’s income, they knew that the artist should not have been able to afford the breach-of-contract fee.

However, the artist somehow had the money and did not intend to settle the matter just by paying the fee. He hired a team of lawyers, indicating that a lawsuit was inevitable.

This attitude was decidedly assertive, with no hesitation or retreat. There was no room for private negotiations; everything was brought out into the open.

Behind this assertiveness was absolute strength. Xu Wen had notable capabilities in terms of business skills, but in other areas, it was uncertain. Rumor had it that the breach-of-contract fee, the lawyers, and the PR team were all provided by someone else for Xu Wen.

Being able to come up with such a large sum of money in such a short time and to push things forward so quickly, some had already guessed who was behind it.

…No wonder Zhou Ji had that strange smile earlier.

Most of the information circulated only within the circle. Outsiders were unaware of the details, only knowing that Xu Wen’s career path changed after switching companies. He no longer accepted every advertisement offer and significantly reduced the number of scripts he took on. For a period, he disappeared from the public eye, and compared to his previous activity, his time at the new company was relatively quiet.

The former agency took the opportunity to sarcastically criticize Xu Wen’s decision to leave at various occasions.

Following this period of quiet came a sudden surge. Though Xu Wen accepted fewer scripts, they were of higher quality. His all-out effort in starring in a film became a blockbuster hit, garnering both critical acclaim and box office success. He returned to the top of the popularity charts and became the ambassador for a luxury brand, catapulting him to a fundamentally higher level.

He made a remarkable comeback and received an international award nomination for Best Actor. His career was no longer confined to the domestic market, directly overshadowing those who had started acting around the same time as him.

A journalist managed to secure an interview and asked him the reason for his hard work.

He said, “The reasons are complicated, but simply put, there are two.”

One was passion, and the other was gratitude. Because of his passion, he wanted to create better works, earn more money, and express his gratitude in a better way.


In the quiet resting room, a phone on the table was playing the interview video. Before the video ended, Zhou Ji paused it.

The manager sitting beside him had been watching the video too. After the video paused, he rubbed his chin and said, “His rise has been really fast.”

Objectively speaking, although there are cases of overnight success, he had never seen anyone in this echelon continue to rise so vertically.

Zhou Ji didn’t speak. His hand, resting on the script, slowly rubbed the paper.

The manager patted his shoulder.

Previously, this person had asked him who had a better chance of success compared to Xu Wen. At the time, he thought this person had a better chance. Young, good-looking, talented – if the timing was right, he would eventually surpass Xu Wen.

Reality had matched his expectations. Since his first drama aired on a major network, this person had rocketed up, moving from supporting roles to leading roles, from a lesser-known actor to a first-tier star, from a newcomer to the company’s mainstay. Until recently, the only thing he lacked compared to Xu Wen was experience.

He hadn’t expected the other person to suddenly surge forward as if experiencing a second spring and even receive a major award nomination.

And this second spring was given by that person.

Apart from patting his shoulder, the manager had nothing else to say.

Turning off the phone on the table, Zhou Ji picked up the script again and looked at the person sitting beside him. He said, “About that script we talked about before, I want to give it a try.”

Not expecting the sudden shift in topic, the manager took a moment to react before saying, “Sure, that’s possible.”

He said, “But that role is really challenging, and the audition time clashes with your return to A City. If you don’t go back this time, it will be a long time before you can return again. Are you sure?”

From a professional standpoint, he was happy that Zhou Ji was dedicated to his work. However, on a personal level, he felt it was somewhat risky for Zhou Ji to stay away for so long.

Calculating the time, Zhou Ji had already been away from Mr. Chen for a while. Delaying their meeting further would turn an already significant gap into a wide-open door, allowing others to potentially step in, or more accurately, to walk in openly.

The director and screenwriter at the audition were known for being demanding, valuing talent over fame. Whether Zhou Ji could join the cast was still uncertain. There was a fear that if the audition didn’t go well, Zhou Ji would lose both the role and his connection.

Zhou Ji said, “I’m sure.”

The manager, fully supportive, left the resting room to make a call. When he returned, he confirmed the scheduled time, which remained the same as previously discussed.

He had tried to negotiate, but the timing on the other side was difficult to adjust. The film crew required the presence of the director, assistant director, screenwriter, and producer at the audition. With everyone being busy, coordinating even half a day was already quite challenging.

The manager tapped a few times on his phone and said, “I’ve sent you the script.”

Zhou Ji nodded, reached for his phone, and glanced at the screen.

When he wasn’t speaking or smiling, he looked quite different from usual, giving off a completely different impression.

Only at times like these did the manager remember that Zhou Ji was a graduate from a top-tier academy in the industry. After taking a good look at him, the manager asked, “Do you want this role that badly?”

Zhou Ji simply replied, “I must get it.”

The manager said no more and didn’t stay to disturb him. He took his phone and pushed open the door of the resting room. Before stepping out completely, he turned back and said, “I’ll see if I can arrange a day off for you after the audition.”

The person inside responded with an ‘hmm’.


Knowing that Zhou Xiaoji’s originally scheduled return had been delayed, Chen Luosong didn’t say much and simply responded with, “Okay.”

These days had been busy, and the extra day he gained could be used for work.

Even with the extra day, time was still tight. He spent more time at the company, often leaving late at night.

In the evening, after organizing his files, he shut down his computer, grabbed his coat, and slightly loosened his tie before opening his office door.

As the door closed behind him, the lights inside automatically turned off, and the phone in his coat pocket buzzed softly.

It was a call from Zhou Xiaoji. He answered it.

The other person greeted him with a routine “Good evening,” then asked if he was still working at the office.

Pressing the elevator button, Chen Luosong said he was.

Zhou Xiaoji, who chatted intensively every day, was well aware that Chen Luosong had been staying late at the office recently.

The elevator descended and stopped at basement level two. Listening to Zhou Xiaoji, Chen Luosong took his car keys out of his pocket.

He had informed the driver earlier that he would be driving himself tonight.

The car lights turned on, and he got into the driver’s seat, fastened his seatbelt, and slightly increased the volume on his phone before setting it aside.

As the car exited the parking lot, he heard a slightly distorted voice from the phone:

“Brother Chen, I want to see you.”

The night breeze blew into the car through the window. Chen Luosong paused his hand on the steering wheel and then asked, “Where are you?”

“Brother Chen, turn around.”

The voice on the phone overlapped with the real one. Chen Luosong turned his head and saw a figure partially hidden in the light not far away. The person lifted his gaze, revealing a familiar smile.

Zhou Ji had returned, flying back immediately after finishing work. His manager had managed to squeeze out half a day of rest for him, allowing him to stay the night and return to the film crew the next morning.

Emerging from the shadows, the prominent actor Zhou Ji opened the car door and insisted on taking over as the driver. Chen Luosong gave up his seat and moved to the passenger side.

From the company to their residence, Zhou Ji drove surprisingly steadily. Without any modesty, he said, “I’m pretty good, aren’t I?”

He then asked, “Brother Chen, have you ever thought about letting me be your driver?”

Chen Luosong chuckled, “You want to compete with the driver for the job?”

Zhou Ji laughed too and started talking about his upcoming plans. He did have a role he wanted to compete for, but it wasn’t that of a driver. For now, continuing his acting career was the priority.

In short, his schedule was tight, especially after taking on a new script. Chen Luosong asked, “Why are you suddenly so motivated?”

Zhou Ji replied, “I want to win an award and I want Brother Chen’s reward.”

He wanted to win an award, to surpass Xu Wen.

But it wasn’t just about surpassing Xu Wen.

“Winning an award definitely deserves a reward,” Chen Luosong said, resting his hand on the side of his face and brushing aside a lock of hair. Cooperatively, he asked, “What do you want? As long as I can make it happen.”

Zhou Ji’s hands were on the steering wheel, his dark pupils reflecting the passing traffic. He said, “What if I say I want to be Brother Chen’s boyfriend?”

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