Luo Ding’s popularity on the internet was unsurprising.
He was everywhere in the entertainment newspapers, entertainment media and on fan forums. Because of his participation in the filming of “Tang Zhuan” and “Wolong”, for the first time, the two words Luo Ding were well known.
Gu Yaxing browsed the electronic inbox of Yaxing Studio, which was filled with all kinds of messy invitations from small TV stations, news broadcasters, magazine agencies and even brand commercials. This inbox had not been so lively since the studio’s establishment. Even when Su Shengbai and Hu Xiao were at their hottest, the response was only half of the current situation at most.
Gu Yaxing carefully clicked on a business invitation for the launch of a fitness center. The offering price had reached 30,000 yuan in one afternoon. In view of Luo Ding’s current status this offer was definitely not low.
However, he only glanced at it once and rejected the invitation by typing on the keyboard.
Luo Ding had previously informed him that he would not accept any commercial activities or interview invitations in the near future.
Gu Yaxing, as the owner of the entertainment company and Luo Ding’s agent he could have completely ignored his request. But when facing Luo Ding, he had no courage to refuse. It was really strange. In fact, he also felt he was acting strangely. He was usually not such a soft person. However, why did he always subconsciously weaken whenever he stood before Luo Ding?
With regards to Luo Ding’s decision however, Gu Yaxing was generally in favor of it. Luo Ding did not have any outstanding work as yet, so it was too early to rush to make money.
Although, it would be easy to capitalize on his popularity, his fans were not yet hardcore supporters. For appearances that have nothing to do with acting you must be circumspect. With these kinds of low-grade ribbon-cutting activities, if they are not necessary you should just ignore them.
The office door was lightly tapped twice and the hand with which Gu Yaxing held the mouse paused for a moment. The smug smile on his face disappeared and his expression morphed into a serious frown: “Come in.”
Yang Kangding entered the room. He held onto a stack of documents and carefully scanned Gu Yaxing’s expression. He felt uneasy.
In fact, previously, he and Gu Yaxing got along very casually. Although they were not close friends he would not be as nervous as he currently was. However, since Luo Ding was transferred out of his hands and into Gu Yaxing’s care, Gu Yaxing always seemed to be dissatisfied with him.
Yang Kangding also felt wronged! He knew that Gu Yaxing was displeased with him because of his unjust treatment of Luo Ding in the past. But how could he have known then that this quiet and transparent person would be so popular today?
With so many entertainers in hand, it was not just Luo Ding he treated unfairly. Was Gu Yaxing also not sticking his head out just for Luo Ding’s sake? It is natural for a person to pursue success. So not only must he fawn on Hu Xiao, but he must also take care of those small unknown celebrities? Who has that much spare time?
However, just after leaving his care, Luo Ding soared. The speed of his popularity was reportedly overwhelming. Yang Kangding watched these numerous entertainment news reports about Luo Ding, and sometimes he couldn’t help but wonder whether this was the same person he had disregarded before. Was it really because of his actions that Luo Ding did not shine in the past?
When Gu Yaxing had first taken Luo Ding from him he still had the idea of watching him fail in the future, but now he was full of regrets.
“What’s the matter?” Gu Yaxing glanced up at him and then lowered his head, his expression business-like.
Yang Kangding didn’t dare hesitate. He put the file in his hand on the table, stood upright and answered, “This is the recent work schedule of the artists under my care. In addition to Hu Xiao, I would like to promote the others through the talent show organized by Star Stage next month. Please review and let me know if this plan is feasible?”
Yang Kangding, who had been trembling at the company recently could only use this method to show Gu Yaxing that he had recognized the error of his ways. If it had been in the past, other than Hu Xiao, he wouldn’t bother to care if the other artists in his group had no work or appearances. But now, even as a senior agent, he was actually busy everyday finding resources for this group of people just like those other junior agents.
Gu Yaxing took a brief look at the file and unexpectedly found that the schedule was quite detailed. He immediately understood Yang Kangding’s intentions.
Sigh, after all, this was an old employee in the company and he couldn’t be beaten to death for making a mistake. Gu Yaxing was no longer nitpicky, so he nodded and answered: “I will look at this carefully, you may go back to work.”
Yang Kangding didn’t move. He hesitated and said: “Um … Director Gu. Hu Xiao’s new single will be released next weekend. We have planned a fan signing event to help bolster sales. Recently Luo Ding has become more and more popular. If it is convenient can he be arranged to attend the fan sign with Hu Xiao?”
Gu Yaxing flipped over the book in his hand, raised his head and stared at Yang Kangding without saying a word.
Yang Kangding felt very ashamed. After all, he was the one who had caused offense in the first place. Before he had parted ways with Luo Ding there had been multiple conflicts between them and no matter how thick a person’s skin is he should not want seek benefits after someone he bullied in the past is successful.
However, recently Hu Xiao had focused on his development in the television industry and his popularity in the music industry had declined dramatically. The news about Luo Ding’s previous collaboration with Pan Yiming was very hot and in addition, Luo Ding himself was so popular recently. If Luo Ding could appear at Hu Xiao’s fan signing event, the attendance will definitely be considerable.
Yang Kangding was shamed by Gu Yaxing’s gaze, but before he could speak again, he saw Gu Yaxing bow his head and respond succinctly: “Luo Ding is busy recently.”
“… I see.” When Yang Kangding left the office and closed the door, he felt only a pain in his heart.
He had been an agent for so many years and had hoped that one day he will develop a big star. Now he was still struggling in the TV circle with Hu Xiao who he had been hanging on to with all his heart, meanwhile Luo Ding, who had previously been ridiculed by him had already gone on to film a movie with Duan Xiubo. Fate was so fickle. If he had known that this would happen, he wouldn’t have made the difference in treatment between Hu Xiao and Luo Ding so obvious. If there was no clear line, couldn’t he have said something if one or the other became popular?
Hu Xiao had been napping in the lounge, but when he saw Yang Kangding, he hurriedly asked, “How did it go?”
“Luo Ding has no time.” After thinking it over he decided not to tell Hu Xiao about Gu Yaxing’s attitude. “You know, he is recently filming and would be participating in some activities to support Pan Yiming’s album. There is not enough time.”
Hu Xiao’s expression turned a little bad after Yang Kangding had finished the first half of his sentence. After he had fully explained the issue his expression became even worse.
“Oh.” He sneered and fell back into his chair. “He’s so busy he can’t even find time for agency activities. Who even wants him there. Who does he think he is? Just a few online articles. The news reporters have probably even forgotten his last name.”
Thinking that the little unknown star who still had to look up at him before had become a master in such a short period of time, Hu Xiao irritably kicked the table leg.
Yang Kangding was also uncomfortable but at this time he still had to comfort Hu Xiao: “Why do you care about him? You are a mainstream artist and he is just someone with a few news reports on the Internet, the grades are not the same. Besides, the relationship between the two of you was not good in the past. Don’t you think its awkward to appear together? He may be popular now, but there are still negative comments, so let’s wait and see. It’s not clear whether the fans who are liking his photos will stay.”
Hu Xiao leaned back on the reclining chair and covered his face with a book. He felt stifled.
Luo Ding sneezed, covered his nose and murmured like a cat. He then recovered his mild smile: “The difference in temperature has been a little big recently, it seems I’m developing a cold.”
Staring at Luo Ding’s watery eyes, Su Shengbai, who was sitting across the table, was tongue-tied for a moment. After a pause, he bowed his head and continued cut the meat in an uncharacteristic manner: “You still can’t take care of yourself. Where’s Wu Fangyuan? Didn’t he tell you to dress warmly? “
Luo Ding’s smile was a little reluctant: “It’s okay. By the way, you suddenly asked me out for a meal today, surely its not just to reminisce, right?”
Su Shengbai said: “How can that be! Weren’t you being attacked on Weibo before? I was worried you will be affected. The issue on weibo has just turned for the better and you now have two shows to shoot with the filming schedule so close together. You have no experience, I’m afraid you’re pushing yourself too hard.”
Each of his words showed his concern for Luo Ding. Luo Ding’s facial expression appeared moved, but in actual fact his heart was not touched. Su Shengbai’s ability to see which way the wind blows was really good. When he scolded on Weibo, he called to comfort him, but didn’t mention meeting at all. Now that the situation was reversed, he suddenly had time to meet. Only ghosts will believe that this meeting was only for a meal.”
Sure enough, after a while, Su Shengbai seemed to naturally strike up a conversation again: “How did it feel when you filmed for the first time?”
“It’s Okay, it’s just that the director is very strict.”
“This time are you acting opposite Duan Xiubo? I saw him post a message on Weibo to encourage you. Do you two have a good relationship?”
Luo Ding looked up at him suspiciously.
Su Shengbai seemed to have just asked casually and was focusing on the dishes in front of him.
Luo Ding sneered in his heart, while showing a bland expression: “It’s fine, Duan ge takes care of everyone. He acts like a big brother in the crew. If I don’t understand anything he will occasionally guide me.”
This sentence seemed very clear, but in fact, no useful news was revealed. Su Shengbai pondered over each and every word but hesitated to inquire further. Meeting Luo ding naturally was not purely for eating. He was also busy. It was really too unbearable for the film in his hands to be delayed further. Xu Zhen was now able to take two steps and thus preparations for the audition should also be put on the agenda. At this time, Su Shengbai had spent the time between banquets to invite many guests, but until now, they still lacked a real heavyweight guest at the audition.
He was very interested in Duan Xiubo, but such a big man was not easily invited. Su Shengbai had created several “encounters” with him for this purpose. Each time Duan Xiubo was very gentle and polite to him, but the next time they met he still could not remember who Su Shengbai was.
So, after seeing Duan Xiubo post words of encouragement to Luo Ding on weibo, Su Shengbai suddenly was full of hope. He felt like he had seen the first light of dawn.
Unexpectedly, in the end, he had found a personal connection with Duan Xiubo. But now, it appeared the relationship between Duan Xiubo and Luo Ding may not be as close as he had imagined.
Though Luo Ding didn’t know what Su Shengbai was going to say, he had a hunch that whatever it was will have a lot to do with him. Seeing that Su Shengbai wanted to keep talking, he did not want to be led step by step by the other so Luo Ding put down his tableware, wiped his mouth and said: “I’ll go wash my hands.”
It was easy to meet acquaintances in the restaurants near the film and television city.
So Luo Ding was not surprised when someone called him by his name. The voice calling him sounded familiar too. He turned his head and his gaze fell on a shadowy area behind him.
The low screen door was slowly opened, and Duan Xiubo appeared.
Duan Xiubo had a smile on his face: “What a coincidence. When I asked you out to lunch at noon, you said that you didn’t have time. Now we’ve met in the same restaurant.”
Behind the screen door, the female lead of Wolong, Yuan Bing smiled at Luo Ding.
“Duan ge, Yuan jie.” They were having lunch together? Luo Ding’s gossip radar became active for a few seconds, and then quickly calmed down. He pointed in the direction of his seat, “I am here with a friend too.”
One sentence explained why Duan Xiubo’s lunch invitation was not accepted. In fact, to be honest, he didn’t want to agree to anyone’s invitation. Both Su Shengbai and Duan Xiubo wanted to eat western food while he liked Chinese food, their tastes did not match.
“Friend?” Duan Xiubo looked contemplative.
Luo Ding could suddenly see Duan Xuibo’s brain supplementing his two words, and smiled helplessly: “Don’t think about it, it is really an ordinary friend. He’s a member of my former group at the agency. Oh, he is solo now.”
The words “group, dissolution, and solo” all carry meaning in the entertainment circle. Duan Xiubo captured the impatience in Luo Ding’s words while he was explaining. He didn’t ask any more questions, but secretly took this matter to heart.
He didn’t know much about Luo Ding’s past, but only knew vaguely that Luo Ding’s position was not as good as it is now. He had also heard some of Luo Ding’s previous work. Perhaps because the company was too small and its resources were not so good the entire song from the lyrics to the composition was generic and unremarkable.
He did not care about another member of Luo Ding’s former group. Duan Xiubo had always been impatient with unrelated people.
As they had run into one another halfway through their meal the two separated after a few words and Luo Ding continued on to the bathroom. Duan Xiubo returned to his seat and cast his eyes to the position that Luo Ding had pointed out just now.
Yuan Bing cut the small piece of foie gras on the plate gracefully and said softly: “This young man Luo Ding looks very good. He will report to the crew on the 18th, right? I will have to act opposite him then. What is his personality like? At his age I didn’t have such good opportunities.”
Duan Xiubo glanced at her and recognized that she was attempting to fish for information with her words. He laughed and asked rhetorically: “where are you going with this?”
Naturally, Yuan Bing couldn’t make her probing too obvious, but she was really curious, so she could only halfheartedly ask: “Don’t pretend. Currently eight of the ten homepages I follow on weibo are discussing him. If it’s purely marketing, it will cost a lot of money, right? “
“He’s the real deal.”
Yuan Bing was clearly incredulous but still flashed a seemingly sincere smile: “Don’t I know you well? I don’t mean to offend but the real deal? How old is he, twenty-three? Twenty-five? How many directors have praised me for my talent, yet I was still a rookie at his age.”
Duan Xiubo simply did not explain, anyway, after the collaboration whether Luo Ding is a mule or a horse everyone would know. He looked at the dishes in front of him but he really had no appetite, so he could only pick up a glass of plain water and drink leisurely.
Yuan Bing found his action very dull: “Why do you have to do this every time you come out to eat?”
“It’s not appetizing.”
“Can you not even pretend to like it?” Yuan Bing rolled her eyes at him. His image and his actual personality were completely at odds.
Duan Xiubo responded: “Then I’ll take you to Sichuan Restaurant, how about you also pretend to like it? Jie, please let me off or in the future I dare not act with you in the same drama if I have to act both on and off the set. My life is too dull for you.”
Yuan Bing puckered her eyebrows slightly and tapped her fork gently against her glass. “I beg of you, how about showing your friends one tenth of the gentleness you show to strangers?”
“You are so petty.” Yuan Bing commented haughtily. She thought about his previous statement and added a sentence, “Sichuan cuisine is out of the question. I’ll get acne if I eat spicy food.”
When Luo Ding returned to his seat, Su Shengbai had already fortified himself psychologically.
“You know I’m working on a movie right now? It’s the same one I was working on with Cao ge and Xu ge.”
His mention of Cao ge prodded Luo Ding’s nerves. Luo Ding bowed his head and kept silent for a moment. He then slowly picked up the table-knife: “I remember.”
“Cao ge’s accident was unforeseeable. Now the filming has been halted, there is no male lead and funding is lacking.” Su Shengbai said the words he had been holding back and slowly told Luo Ding of the plans he and Xu Zhen had come up with.
Luo Ding felt as if a huge wave had been stirred up in his heart. He really did not expect that these two people could be so shameless!
How could Su Shengbai utter Cao Dingkun’s name so peacefully? Luo Ding didn’t even detect the slightest bit of guilt or signs of a guilty conscience on his face. He had driven him off a cliff with his own hands, and then mournfully published a grief-filled blog post on Weibo after Cao Dingkun’s death was confirmed. Luo Ding felt that he had still underestimated Su Shengbai. Previously, he thought the blog post was the limit of his shamelessness. But now it seems that the limit was constantly being broken.
Listening to his speech expressionlessly, it seemed that the intent was really to fulfill Cao Dingkun’s last wish. However, all entertainment industry insiders understood that this was just a plan to use the name of the deceased.
Luo Ding emptied his thoughts causing him to feel like all the noise around him had gone quiet and leaving only Su Shengbai’s clear voice.
Su Shengbai finished speaking. When he realized there was nothing left to say he raised his head and met Luo Ding’s dark eyes.
He paused slightly: “What’s the matter?”
Luo Ding stared at Su Shengbai, as if to impale him with his eyes. After a few seconds Luo Ding smiled again the haze in his eyes dissipating: “Nothing. It’s just that this audition will take a lot of energy and expense to organize.”
“It is another way to increase popularity.” Su Shengbai responded indifferently, his heart filled with expectation. “We lack a heavyweight guest. Only Cao ge’s name is not enough. Regrettably I’ve been so busy with this issue recently that I’m so tired and I don’t even have time to eat.”
“A heavyweight guest?” When Luo Ding said this sentence, he lowered his voice. Each word seemed to have been spat out directly from his throat, slowly and attentively, “like Duan Xiubo and Yuan Bing?”
Su Shengbai nodded expectantly: “Yeah. Well unfortunately, it’s a pity that I don’t have much contact with them. I envy you. You can meet them on set every day.”
Luo Ding took a sip of water and suppressed the writhing anger in his chest. On the surface, one could not see any abnormality. He knew that Su Shengbai was using a bitter ruse to ask him to take the initiative to bridge the connection between both sides, so he didn’t follow up with a response.
Seeing that Luo Ding was not answering. Su Shengbai pondered over his words and realized that he was probably too anxious. He quickly made up for it and said, “you can also come to the audition if you have time. Because of Cao ge‘s accident, there are many roles vacant in the film now. It’s also a rare opportunity for you.”
Luo Ding clenched his fist under the table, his fingertips trembling uncontrollably: “I will.”
Suddenly Duan Xiubo’s voice came from the side: “Luo Ding, you are here.”
The quiet atmosphere was broken by this sentence. Luo Ding and Su Shengbai turned their heads and met Duan Xiubo’s smile.
Su Shengbai immediately felt like he had seen the radiance of God burst forth. At the same time, he stood up, stammered and said hello: “Duan … Duan ge! Are you here too?”
Duan Xiubo’s reaction immediately disappointed him because the other side just looked at him with a smile. His eyes and expression were full of tenderness but after meeting him so many times Su Shengbai knew Duan Xiubo still could not remember who he was: “Hello, are you Luo Ding’s good friend? Sure enough, you are a young talent like him.”
Su Shengbai also didn’t point out that they had met many times. At this point, it would have no other effect except to bring contempt upon himself.
Hearing the familiar tone Duan Xiubo used in speaking to Luo Ding, Su Shengbai immediately added another weight to the balance in his heart that measured Luo Ding’s value.
Duan Xiubo stared at Su Shengbai for a while and felt that this person was familiar, but he couldn’t immediately remember where he had met him, so he simply didn’t bother to recall it.
After Luo Ding exchanged two more words, Duan Xiubo took Yuan Bing and left the restaurant.
Along the way, he thought to himself. This person doesn’t look very good. His appearance was not the best, his temperament was slick, he stuttered and had no aura. Luo Ding’s vision was really poor, he was friends with such a person and specially scheduled time to have lunch with him.
Pan Yiming quickly noticed that Luo Ding was not on form and was in a daze
This was really strange. This was her first time realizing that Luo Ding could also be out of condition. His calm appearance which he controlled all day was too deeply rooted in people’s hearts thus when he made mistakes occasionally it appeared shocking.
“Ah ding, what are you thinking of?” Pan Yiming was dying of curiosity.
Luo Ding was suddenly startled by her words, but his expression was the same as before, his smile appearing frozen on his face.
After re-arranging Pan Yiming’s bangs, he replied gently: “Nothing. How are your preparations?”
Pan Yiming froze for a moment, her face flushed red, and she jumped in horror: “Foul!”
Seeing Luo Ding’s blank expression, Pan Yiming stomped her foot angrily. That intimate gesture, like an older big brother next door, how could Luo Ding execute it so smoothly? God, this was a young man in his twenties! Was it really okay for such a young person to have such charming body language?!!
Pan Yiming took a deep breath, pulled down her short skirt and quickly restored her goddess-like bearing: “Nothing. I’m ready. How about you?”
The press conference for the release of the new album was held at the Grand Theater. Because of the great expectations for this work, the company had prepared a very grand release event. Not only had they invited nearly a hundred media persons from TV networks, but they had also began promoting the press conference a long time ago. Tickets sold like crazy, which also implied that the number of fans present will be considerable.
Originally, Luo Ding was not invited to the album release conference but Luo Ding’s recent momentum on Weibo was so hot that the company invited him as a special guest.
This event was different from those commercial performances that were currently contacting Yaxing Studio. In addition to the fact that there was a song on the album on which Luo Ding cooperated, the only protagonists of this press conference were Pan Yiming and Wu Yuan and now also Luo Ding who had just embarked on the path to showbiz popularity.
Being able to appear in an event with them was also good for laying a foundation for Luo Ding. So, despite his busy schedule Luo Ding still took the time out to participate.
From backstage, one could hear the screams and chants of the fans.
Luo Ding’s gaze was reminiscent. This scene felt like he had traveled back in time to a long time ago when he was also known as one of the kings of the singing world. At that time, Su Shengbai had not yet appeared, and he and Xu Zhen supported each other. Relying on a weekly phone call they gritted their teeth to fight for recognition in their respective circles. After so many years, he stood once again in this position as an anxious newcomer.
“What time is it?” Pan Yiming was also a little nervous. Now the frequency of her song releases had slowed down, and she was not sure what kind of response she will receive for the new album since she had been away for so long.
Luo Ding glanced at his watch. It was 6.45pm.
“Fifteen minutes left.” He put aside all the strange thoughts in his head, showed a smile to Pan Yiming, and held out his hand. “Don’t be afraid, come on.”
Pan Yiming bounced her fist on his palm a few times and gave him a hard punch.
“Your mother is afraid!”
 Whether he is the talented or not.
 Foul. Like they say in sports games. Red card.
T/N: Duan Xiubo being peeved that Luo Ding had made time for Su Shengbai and not him will never not be funny. Also Pan jie is so cute.