The private ward was very quiet and because it was located on a sufficiently high floor there was no need to worry about reporters secretly taking photos. The curtains in the room remained open and from the window, the empty sky was covered in a watery blue color.
Xu Zhen’s foot was hoisted high, his hands were covered with bandages and his neck was supported by a neck brace. The bruises on his face were still visible and he had lost one of his back molars. Cao Dingkun had a lot of strength and because he was really angry at that time, he did not hold back. Each strike was deadly, thrashing Xu Zhen half to death.
In order to avoid news leaking out, Su Shengbai was especially careful these days. The explanation given to the public was that Xu Zhen was hit hard by Cao Dingkun’s accidental death and had taken ill, so for Xu Zhen’s sake and for himself, this obviously traumatized image of Xu Zhen must not be revealed.
Su Shengbai walked in quietly and his eyes fell on the man who was leaning against the headboard.
Xu Zhen did not look up at Su Shengbai instead he stared intently at the thick photo album he had propped up on his hoisted leg. The flowers Su Shengbai had sent with the nurse lay messily on the ground.
Su Shengbai glanced at the bunch of flowers, hummed inaudibly, and sat down gently at the edge of the bed: ” Xu gē …”
Xu Zhen didn’t raise his head, his voice cold: “If you have nothing to say, leave.”
Su Shengbai’s eyes reddened instantly: “You still blame me?”
“Is there any significance in asking this?” The hand Xu Zhen could still move slowly touched Cao Dingkun’s smiling face in the photo album and his fingers trembled. If it were not for the important role Su Shengbai played in this film and if it were not that the spread of a scandal concerning jealous gay men fighting and killing each other was enough to ruin his reputation, how could he have let go of this murderer who knocked Cao Dingkun down the cliff …?
His heart trembling, Xu Zhen hurriedly expelled all the images from his mind and closed his eyes: “Tell me quickly, what’s wrong with the movie?”
Hmph, how sad. Was Xu Zhen’s guilt not still inferior to his career? Su Shengbai cleverly hid his disdain and answered with an aggrieved tone: “We need to line up more funds. With what remains of the investment, we cannot maintain the original quality of filming.”
“How could it not be enough!?” Xu Zhen was suddenly agitated. “That’s more than a billion yuan!”
“We spent a lot to shoot the big scenes. The post production and special effects teams also need to use a lot of money. The filming and other equipment that must be rented need to be high-end and all the scenic areas must be also be leased. The requirements for filming deep in the mountains are also very high… “Su Shengbai broke down the calculations,” There is also the issue of paying the actors, previously … you had selected Cao ge to be the male lead and he would not have accepted payment, but now he … he’s not here and we must hire someone else to play his role … “
Su Shengbai paused, and finally said: “For artists of the same quality as Cao ge, their pay will be at least seven or eight digits higher. These days we have spent a lot of funds because of the delayed start to filming. Roughly calculating, I’m afraid we have to increase the budget by at least 15 million to ensure that we can film smoothly.”
Xu Zhen clenched his fists suddenly and yelled at Su Shengbai with red eyes: “It’s all your fault!” … If it wasn’t for Su Shengbai killing Cao Dingkun how could they face such a dilemma? Cao Dingkun’s acting skill was among the best in the film circle and only with his presence could the essence Xu Zhen wanted be interpreted. With his death, Cao Dingkun took with him the living protagonist in Xu Zhen’s mind.
He had spent so much time preparing for this and even if the quality of the film was assured, the level of starring actor could never be attained. Because what was such an actor worth? This billion-yuan budget already contained all the funds that Xu Zhen and Cao Dingkun could muster, making it impossible for him to come up with more. Though Cao Dingkun still had some valuable real estate in his name, after his death, it no longer had anything at all to do with Xu Zhen.
Although they were married, their relationship was not recognized by domestic laws and there is not a single Chinese character on that marriage certificate. The reason why Cao Dingkun cared deeply about marriage certificate was that it represented a different kind of legitimacy.
Su Shengbai’s eyes reddened and he looked at Xu Zhen in tears: “Is it all my fault? If it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t even be able to keep this billion!”
Xu Zhen was poked in his sore spot. He suddenly grabbed the photo album and threw it at Su Shengbai, shaking with anger: “Get out !!!”
Su Shengbai got up and avoided the photo album. He clenched his fists and stared at Xu Zhen, saying, “Did you forget, Xu ge, that I am working on this film for you! I borrowed a lot of money too!” How much have I risked getting you that money, does it not count? Now you are placing all the blame on me, Is this fair to me? I ’m already hurting. Cao ge has helped me so much and in my heart, I also treated him as a brother. Do you know how guilty I felt when I slept with you behind his back? If I didn’t love you so much why would I lower myself to do such a thing? Do you know that when he fell, my heart was also bleeding? I have given up my only family for you. Can you really not see what I have done for you? “
Xu Zhen shook fiercely,but facing Su Shengbai’s tearful eyes, subconsciously, he slowly calmed down.
Yes, Su Shengbai was also not paid for his role and for recording the ending song. How did he forget this?
This is also a big expense. Now that Cao Dingkun is gone, there is a huge funding shortfall. If Su Shengbai also leaves, this ill-fated drama may really die.
Xu Zhen stared at Su Shengbai closely and the hatred and disgust in his eyes was gradually replaced by calm.
He turned his gaze overhead, as if the emotional man just now had not been him at all: “What about the investors? If there’s no other way, go to the investors.”
Su Shengbai was not surprised by Xu Zhen’s compromise. He smiled slightly in his heart and his tears were immediately withdrawn: “We considered seeking investment, but investors are not charities. Several companies are willing to provide funding but they have requirements for placing their actors in the movie as well as ad placement requests. “
“No.” Xu Zhen categorically rejected Su Shengbai’s probe. “The reason why this movie has been so long in the making is that I wanted to make every detail suit my heart. What will this film become if people and advertisements are crammed in? “
Su Shengbai also disagreed with this solution and Xu Zhen was immediately relieved: “Then there is only one other way.”
“You have a solution?”
“Public casting call.” Su Shengbai stared at Xu Zhen’s eyes. “Let’s hold an audition in the name of completing Cao ge’s last wish. Cao ge did a lot of publicity for this film before his death. Everyone knows how much he cares about this film. With his popularity so high as long as we employ his name as a gimmick, it will definitely cause a sensation. “
He paused, worried that Xu Zhen would not be able to accept his use of Cao Dingkun’s name and lose his temper. He did not expect Xu Zhen to merely scrunch his face for a moment when he mentioned using Cao Dingkun and then calmly begin to listen again.
He looked down on this man more and more: “In short, our purpose is not to find a suitable actor, but if our plan is successful, there will definitely be companies who will agree to invest in the audition in exchange for a positive image. This way we will gain the funds to invite a big-name actor. With publicity already in place, the box office will be guaranteed at the time of release. One stone, two birds. “
In fact, it is hitting three birds with one stone, Cao Dingkun’s network in the circle was not small. In Cao Dingkun’s name, Su Shengbai could invite many big celebrities, who worked with him before his death, to participate in the audition process. This was also a very valuable opportunity for him to expand his network.
Xu Zhen also thought of this angle. His eyes instantly became cold and fell on Su Shengbai with a look. Su Shengbai’s image in his heart had always been clean and clever, like a rabbit, timid and pure and in comparison, to Cao Dingkun’s scheming resourcefulness, it had seemed like two extremes. If this was not the case, he would not have the guts to cheat with Su Shengbai knowing that Cao Dingkun could not tolerate a speck of sand in his eyes. However, now, it appears he had underestimated this young man.
Su Shengbai still looked at him with timid eyes, the expression on his face was innocent as if the idea of making full use of the “brother” he had killed by his own hand had nothing to do with him. Xu Zhen’s heart froze over.
“What do you think?” Su Shengbai noted Xu Zhen’s silence and took the initiative to break the ice. He then gave Xu Zhen a way to step down, “Don’t overthink this, Cao ge’s death has nothing to do with you directly. He hated me and you can also hate me too, but Cao ge still loved you in his heart and I believe, even in death, he will be willing to see you achieve your dreams. As for retribution, that is on me. It is what I deserve.”
Su Shengbai was very certain that, though Xu Zhen will agree to his proposal, his pure and innocent image in Xu Zhen’s heart will definitely become flawed. But what of it? From the moment he decided to kill Cao Dingkun, he knew that he and Xu Zhen would have no future.
However, he did not regret it.
Though being caught in bed in with Xu Zhen was beyond his expectations, compared with letting Cao Dingkun survive and suppress him from this position to which he had climbed with difficulty, it was better this way. He had too much dirt on Xu Zhen, such that the latter would never dare to harm him in the future. After this movie, he and Xu Zhen only needed to be polite on the surface.
Xu Zhen stared at Su Shengbai in the eyes and then slowly looked away, squeezing his fists tightly, as if making a difficult decision.
“Make a detailed proposal for the event and show it to me later.” Xu Zhen said softly, telling himself over and over again in his heart, that he was not the only one betting on this movie, Cao Dingkun also had high hopes for it. If they were able to shoot this film successfully, wouldn’t Cao Dingkun, in the underworld also be happy?
That must be it. They had loved each other so much. How could it be possible that all their feelings would disappear because of one indiscretion?
As for myself …
Xu Zhen hunched his back and his eyes fell on the photo album he had just thrown out, which was lying in the corner. On the topmost page was Cao Dingkun smiling brightly and looking directly at the camera. The charming smile gave off an ominous sense of oppression that suffocated him.
He will use his whole life to repent his sin of betraying Cao Dingkun.
T/N Note: …. And here we have it. Two scummy men displaying the filth in their souls. How Cao Dingkun could have married such a person for so long beats me.
I hope everyone is staying safe with this virus.
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