Chapter 15 — Dinner
“It’s alright. I wasn’t careful.” Ning Xi looked up and saw a man wearing a pair of black shoes and a black suit. Behind him were several people dressed identically and professionally. All eyes fell on her as if she were the only light in the darkness. Her eyes were bright enough to dazzle their eyes.
“Miss Ning?” Chang Shi Gui bent down to pick up her sunglasses from the ground. He saw that one side of it was broken and only the other side remained, looking rather pathetic.
He didn’t think that the sunglasses would break so easily, so as he held them in his hand, the atmosphere stagnated.
Ning Xi took the broken pieces from him and coughed dryly, “Mr Chang, you must be busy. I won’t bother you anymore.”
“Wait!” He said, his eyes moving from her to his assistant. “I heard that there’s a good western restaurant nearby. If you don’t mind, Miss Ning, please share a meal with me. It can be considered an apology from my side.”
Ning Xi looked at the broken pieces and the roast duck in her hands and said, smiling, “I fell because I was careless. It was my own fault. Mr Chang doesn’t have to be so polite.”
“Meeting each other again can be considered destiny,” Chang Shi Gui said with a smile. “I wouldn’t like to eat at alone at the restaurant. Miss Ning must do me this favour, so I won’t be embarrassed when I eat.”
Ning Xi laughed, listening to this. “A man like you, feeling embarrassed?”
“As a single man, I will always feel awkward in such situations,” Chang Shi Gui laughed, self-mockingly. “There’s no way. The world is always cruel to us single dogs.”
It turned out that Mr Chang was this kind of person, one who wouldn’t hesitate to ridicule himself. Last time at the hotel, seeing of Jiang Cheng’s attitude, although Chang Shi Gui didn’t provoke her, she didn’t see him very favourably.
Now, it seemed that Mr Chang was more likeable than his friends.
Since she refused once, Ning Xi didn’t think it was good of her to refuse a second time. She looked at the people standing behind him silently. One of them walked over and said, “Boss, we have finished the inspection. We will take your leave.”
“Yes, you’ve worked hard.” Chang Shi Gui nodded at them.
Ning Xi saw smiles blooming on their face as if the small compliment they had received was like a miracle cure in their eyes.
Very quickly, they all scattered, not a shadow being seen. Chang Shi Gui gestured towards something and soon, a car pulled up beside them and stopped.
Ning Xi knew that she wouldn’t be giving him face if she refused now. So she gave the roast duck to the driver who drove her here and asked him to return.
At that time, she quickly texted Zhang Qingyun, saying that she was having dinner with Chang Shi Gui.
Seeing her return, Chang Shi Gui, who was standing beside the car, opened the door for her like a gentleman. Ning Xi sat inside as he got in from the other side.
They rode for nearly half an hour and finally stopped outside a western restaurant. Ning Xi thought that it was not possible to call this distance ‘nearby’.
When they got out of the car, a young man in a suit ran over and handed him a box.
He opened it and gave it to her. “Take it.”
Ning Xi saw a pair of sunglasses inside. The style was simple and elegant, similar to the ones she had worn earlier.
She was surprised for a second, before remembering that her eyes had swollen up. Chang Shi Gui had probably bought it for her to hide them.
“Thank you,” Ning Xi smiled and put on the glasses, covering the emotions in her eyes.
When the two entered the restaurant, they picked an inconspicuous place and waited for her to order from the menu. When she ordered, he closed the menu and told the waiter, “Same as the lady.”
“Okay, please wait for a while.” The waiter bowed to the two of them and took the menu back, going inside.
He came back with a bowl of hot lemon water to wash their hands. After washing hers, Ning Xi thanked the waiter. The waiter smiled and said they were being polite, leaving with the bowls.
“Miss Ning is so young and capable. What made you enter the entertainment business?” Chang Shi Gui poured a glass of red wine for her and placed the glass in front of her.
She lifted the glass and twirled it slowly. Smiling, she said, “There’s nothing I can see that is wrong with being an actor. One can get rich and famous.” She paused for a second. “Of course, money must be nothing in Mr Chang’s eyes.”
Chang Shi Gui looked into her eyes deeply. Her smile was enchanting and beautiful as if she were no different from the other women who got into the show business.
Seeing the smile, he was uncomfortable. “With Miss Ning’s ability, even if you didn’t enter this business, you could earn a lot of money.”
“Mr Chang really has a high opinion of me,” Ning Xi chuckled, sipping the red wine. She knew that this bottle of red wine was extremely expensive. It was a reward for her after all these days of tirelessly working for the television dramas. Unfortunately, she wasn’t used to drinking such expensive, delicious things, so she gulped it all down at once. “I’m just a normal person in pursuit of fame and money.”
Chang Shi Gui didn’t reply. As they sat silently, the waiter brought their meal. Chang Shi Gui lifted the wine glass and raised it towards her. “Miss Ning, are you willing to have dinner with me tonight?”
“It would be my honour.” Ning Xi replied, and took another sip.
There was a make-shift stage in the restaurant where a pianist was playing a melody. Listening to the music, Ning Xi was reminded of all her years abroad.
“Does Miss Ning like the piano?” Chang Shi Gui, who was paying attention to her expression, asked her. “Can you tell me which song you like best?”
Ning Xi retrieved her gaze and smiled. “I like the piano in general, I have no particular taste,” She said naturally. Her tone then became lighter. “I’m the kind of person who doesn’t have a single romantic or musical bone in my body.”
“What a coincidence,” Chang Shi Gui laughed lightly. “I’m also the same.”
Hearing this, Ning Xi smiled. After sipping on the creamy mushroom soup, she wiped her mouth. “Is Mr Chang being modest?”
“No, I’m being honest.” He replied with a mild smile. There was no aggression or oppression in any of his gestures. He seemed like an ordinary man with good humour.
The pair chatted and ate happily. Towards the end, a man and woman appeared inside the restaurant. The man seemed to be Mr Jiang, the man to whom Mr Wang was currying favour with before. As for the woman, her identity was even more surprising. She was Fei Yu Entertainment’s senior artist – Sun Yuhan.
“Brother Chang?” Jiang Cheng looked at Chang Shi Gui and spotted Ning Xi sitting opposite to him. He could barely hide the surprise on his face.
Compared to Jiang Cheng’s exclamation, Chang Shi Gui’s attitude towards him was slightly cold. He didn’t look at Sun Yuhan who stood beside Jiang Cheng and addressed the latter directly. “You came to have dinner too, I see.”
“Ah? Yes.” Jiang Cheng tore away from his reverie and squeezed out a smile. Then, being very tactful, he left with his girlfriend.
Waiting until they sat down, Sun Yuhan asked carefully, “Wasn’t that man… president of Chang?”
Jiang Cheng smiled at Sun Yuhan, holding the menu. “What are you trying to ask?”
“I… I was just curious.” Sun Yuhan was embarrassed, seeing the way Jiang Cheng was looking at her. She lowered her head.
“He’s not someone you can provoke,” Jiang Cheng handed the menu back to the waiter. With a tone that was neither pleased nor displeased, he said, “You shouldn’t have any ideas.”
Sun Yuhan felt like she had been stabbed by his words, but she knew that she couldn’t afford to displease people like Jiang Cheng. She smiled silently and ate her meal.
Maybe because their appetite wasn’t good, their dinner was over very soon. When they exited the restaurant, Sun Yuhan saw the ‘unprovokeable’ man that Jiang Cheng mentioned bending over to open the door for a young woman with a gentle smile on his face.
She glanced at Jiang Cheng who had an ugly expression on his face. She couldn’t help but sneer in her heart. Even he was able to keep up appearances only in front of little artists like her, how much nobler did he think he was?
“Thank you for sending me back, Mr Chang.” Ning Xi got off the car and turned back to thank him.
Chang Shi Gui returned the courtesy, bowing his head. “Good night.” The window of the car rose, closing, separating Ning Xi from him. It seemed like they lived in two separate worlds.
The car started slowly and rode away from her sight. Ning Xi was relieved. It seemed like Mr Chang really only wanted someone to have dinner with rather than having other crooked thoughts.
She reached home and was applying her face mask when Zhang Qingyun’s call came.
Hearing the agitated voice of her agent, Ning Xi put the call on speaker-phone and tossed the phone aside. “Brother Zhang, don’t be so excited. I’m just putting on my mask.”
The line went silent for a second. Zhang Qingyun’s voice then returned to normal. “You’re home?”
“Why wouldn’t I be home?” Ning Xi carefully patted her cheek. “Did you think that Mr Chang would invite me to be his house guest?”
Zhang Qingyun replied, “I know this isn’t an idol drama and Mr Chang won’t be in love at first sight with you, promising he’ll never leave and have only you as his woman.” There was a slight pitying tone in his voice.
Ning Xi’s hands shook and she almost peeled off the mask from her face. “Is it good to look down on your own actor?”
“I’m just speaking the truth,” Zhang Qingyun said. His tone had already stabilised. He began seriously, “Mr Chang’s status is extraordinary. In the entertainment business, you should have a sturdy mentality. Otherwise, you’ll lose more than you’ll gain.”
Ning Xi knew that Zhang Qingyun was worried about her. She said mildly, “Rest assured, Brother Zhang, I am not a little girl who thinks she is Cinderella who needs to find her Prince Charming.”
Fairy tales were beautiful because they gave children an opportunity to dream.
When the child grows up, it’s time that the dream comes to an end and she wakes up.