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“You may leave now if you don’t wish to film the advertisement. You’re not indispensable,” Long Tianze said sternly, the smile on his face having disappeared.

Taken aback by his words, Song Yan’s face stiffened as she was momentarily at a loss for words. “Well, I have a really tight schedule lined up with jobs, anyway. Since you’ve said that, I guess I’ll be taking a rain check then.”

“Goodbye, I won’t be seeing you out.”

All eyes were on Long Tianze as they stared on in astonishment.

“Give me half an hour,” he said to the crowd nonchalantly.

His secretary quickly chased after him and asked softly, “Mr. Long, the client had specifically requested for Song Yan to be the lead in the advertisement. What are we supposed to do, now that she won’t be filming it anymore?”

“I’ll discuss this with the client,” he said, reaching out to press the elevator button.

“Have you got anyone in mind to replace Song Yan with, Mr. Long?”

“A replacement? How about a fresh face?” Long Tianze suggested as he turned to look at his secretary.

“Are you kidding, Mr. Long? This is an advertisement for a prestigious brand. The spokespersons for their previous advertisements had all been A-listers and top celebrities. I highly doubt that they will agree to using a fresh face for this upcoming one. In fact, they might even terminate the contract with us. We’ve worked with them several times before, we’re definitely going to incur a huge monetary loss if they decide to call the deal off. ”

“I’m more aware of that than you are.” Long Tianze gave it some thought and continued, “But, I do have someone in mind, and I really think we could give her a shot.”

“Who is it?”

“A girl I know.” Whipping his phone out, he said, “Let me call the client to discuss about this.”

Filled with fear and trepidation, the secretary stood beside him quietly, too afraid to even face him. Without a doubt, the client would definitely hit the roof.

As expected, there was stiff tension on Long Tianze’s face throughout the entire duration of the phone call. Meanwhile, the elevator had ascended then descended back and forth repeatedly.

The secretary’s legs had turned jelly from standing for so long.

Finally, Long Tianze ended the call.

“Mr. Long…” the secretary began to ask.

“It’s settled, though they obviously weren’t too convinced that using a fresh face would bring about much attention. However, they’ve decided to give it a shot, on account of our relations with them. Okay, head to the set now while I go look for the female lead for the advertisement,” Long Tianze instructed.

“Got it.”

Mei Yangyang was surprised to see that Long Tianze had shown up again, despite having just left not long ago. “I’ve got something to tell you,” he said before she could even speak.

“Alright,” she agreed and followed him out.

She hopped onto his car and waited for him to break the news to her. Mei Yangyang was taken aback upon hearing that he had intended to cast her as the female lead in the advertisement, feeling both excited yet nervous. “But, I don’t have any experience or knowledge on modelling for advertisements.”

“My question is, are you willing to take on the role?”

With a nod, she answered, “Yes, I am.”

“That’s great, let’s go.”

“Wait a minute,” Mei Yangyang hesitated, though she was definitely not going to turn down the once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity of starring in an advertisement. Besides, her Mother had stopped receiving treatments at the hospital, since she could not afford to pay the hefty bills. Although her Mother had still been taking her medicine, it was undoubtedly less effective than treatment, for it had only helped to stabilize her condition. Perhaps, if the advertisement job pays well, I can bring Mother to the hospital to get her illness treated , she thought to herself.

“What’s wrong?”

“I have to wrap up at the clothing store and give Sis Xiaoning a call to inform her about this.”

“Alright, go ahead, I’ll wait for you here.”

Mei Yangyang then alighted from the car and walked towards the store. Along the short journey, she was overwhelmed with emotions as she began to think about it. After all, it was her first time starring in an advertisement. Besides, it was for a prestigious shampoo brand — what a rare opportunity indeed.

“Sis Yangyang, isn’t that the man who came here to confess to you the previous time?”

She nodded and answered, “Yes, it’s him. I have something to attend to, now. You two tend the store today. I’ll call Sis Xiaoning to tell her about it.”

“Alright,” Zhang Li agreed.

“Sis Yangyang, what do you have to attend to?”

“Something important,” she answered. She grabbed her purse and hurried out of the door.

“Look how anxious Sis Yangyang is, I’ve never seen her in such a hurry before. I wonder what it is that she has to attend to so urgently.” Xu Jingwen stood by the entrance and stared out of the glass. “Wow, it’s a luxury car. I knew it, he must be rich. Sigh, why don’t I ever get to meet such handsome and rich men?” she lamented.

“Hurry and sort the goods out. Why do you keep daydreaming about such stuff?” urged Zhang Li, not bothered by Long Tianze at all.

“Do you think Sis Xiaoning will set me up with someone, if I asked?”

“You’re still so young…”

“I’m already 19, way past the suitable age for dating. Sis Li, tell me what you think, would Sis Xiaoning agree if I asked her to introduce me to some heirs of wealthy families?”

“Jingwen, please remember your status, you’re only an insignificant sales assistant in Sis Xiaoning’s clothing store. Enough with it. I’m going to use the washroom,” Zhang Li chided, unable to tolerate what she was hearing any further.

Staring at her with pouted lips, Xu Jingwen muttered under her breath, “How unambitious.”

——

An Xiaoning had just woken up and not gotten out of bed when she received a call from Mei Yangyang.

An Xiaoning tried to sit up straight as soon as she hung up the phone, only to feel a pair of hands wrapped tightly around her waist.

“Who called you?”

“Yangyang. She said she was going to film an advertisement at Long Tianze’s company. Just what does he do for a living?”

“He’s in the advertising and entertainment productions industry. But, the sponsors and clients are usually the ones deciding the spokespersons for the advertisement. Mei Yangyang is a nobody who has no knowledge about modelling for advertisements. Did she get recruited via underhanded means?” said Jin Qingyan with his eyes still shut.

“Long Tianze is wooing Yangyang.”

Jin Qingyan opened his eyes in astonishment. “What?” he gasped.

“Aren’t you two buddies? Didn’t he tell you about it?”

“No, he never did. Ah, that explains why he had been acting rather strange lately. But it’s not a bad thing, I suppose. Does he even have to court her though?” said Jin Qingyan, sitting up slowly.

“Of course he has, Yangyang hasn’t agreed to be his girlfriend yet.”

“Why? I’m not looking down on anyone, but girls like her from poor families would usually jump at the chance to be Tianze’s girlfriend,” he asked in puzzlement.

“Yangyang is different from those girls, she has a mind of her own. Besides, she has only met Long Tianze a while ago, they barely know each other. A girl has to first respect and love herself before she can command the respect of others. I think it’s great that she’s taking her time to decide, unlike me — both times, I jumped straight into a marriage without even knowing the other party well.”

“You barely knew me before we got married, but don’t you know me well enough now? Hmm? Answer me,” Jin Qingyan pressed her for an answer while pinching her cheeks.

“Now… I still don’t know you that well, yet.”

“Liar. What else is there left about me for you to find out? You already know me inside out,” he retorted, staring at her.

“Rascal, we’re not even on the same page,” she said in annoyance, moving her face out his hands. “I’m getting out of bed.”

“Me, too,” he loosened his grip and lifted the blanket before getting down from the bed.

An Xiaoning zoomed towards the cloakroom to pick out a set of clothes. She then laid the clothes onto the bed and began putting them on orderly.

“What are you going to do about Chi Rui’er?”

“Didn’t you want to punish her?” Jin Qingyan asked, raising a brow.

“It’s better that you do it yourself, since she’s someone that matters so dearly to you,” said An Xiaoning. She knew that she could not underestimate the influence Chi Rui’er had over Jin Qingyan, although she had greatly disappointed him with what she had done.

“Alright, I’ll handle it myself, then.” He put on his clothes and proceeded to wash up.

An Xiaoning followed closely behind him into the bathroom, where they stood side-by-side at the basin. Staring at her reflection in the mirror, she lamented, “My eyebags have gotten so heavy, after such a long night.”