Li Luo is left speechless for a whole five seconds.
“Fuck,” he can’t help but curse. “Duan Mingyang, are you a fucking psychopath?”
This tactic is absolutely merciless. Even if Duan Mingyang ties him to a chair and cuts off his hair, he’d only be able to sit there and suffer. After all, he can’t call the cops and say, “Somebody cut off my hair without my consent. Go arrest him.”
Perhaps Li Luo himself would be arrested as the psychopath.
“If you do your work properly, Mr. Li, of course I wouldn’t do anything to your beloved hair.” There seems to be mockery in Duan Mingyang’s voice. “After all, Jiang Liushen was the one who wanted you to grow it out. If I cut it off and end up angering Jiang Liushen, I might be in trouble too.”
Question marks surround Li Luo’s head.
The fuck has this got to do with Jiang Liushen?
It’s true that he first started growing out his hair because of a bet with Jiang Liushen, and he did mention it in passing while he was pursuing Duan Mingyang. But afterwards… there was another reason why he maintained it at this length.
“Cut it off if you want, Mr. Duan,” Li Luo mocks. “That guy fulfilled his end of our bet a long time ago. Furthermore, with his new lover, he doesn’t have the spare time to mind my business.”
It was when his hair first reached his shoulders that his dad’s incident happened. He spent months struggling and asking others for help, only to be met with disappointment. To lift his spirits and not let him pass his days doing nothing but stressing out, Jiang Liushen had persuaded him to join the entertainment industry. The original plan was that he was going to sign a contract with Jiang Liushen’s studio, but because what happened with his dad, which was on too large of a scale, he was worried that he’d involve his friend by accident. In the end, he could only give up and sign a contract instead with Luo Peng, with whom he met just once.
On the surface, Jiang Liushen is always arguing with him, but the day Li Luo’s first drama began advertising, Jiang Liushen fulfilled the bet that Li Luo almost forgot had happened. Jiang Liushen posted a photo of him in costume and tagged his account, exclaiming, “Luo-ge is fucking awesome!!!”
Pitifully, Li Luo’s eyes reddened when he saw the Weibo post.
His emotions, pent-up for months, suddenly dissipated. Only then was he able to walk out of his depression.
Because of Jiang Liushen’s rare, unplanned advertisement, the drama’s popularity grew exponentially, propelling him into fame, shooting him from zero all the way to becoming a top-tier actor. He became an unprecedented legend in the industry.
Back then, the number of their shippers was unparalleled, but the shippers have quieted over the past few years. It might be due to Jiang Liushen going overseas last year to study, and the shippers’ motivation fell with the lack of interaction between the two. After he returned, Jiang Liushen has been baiting the fans by interacting with the popular singer Xia Xi’ai. Right now, “Shen’Ai Girls1” are found everywhere on the web, while most of Li Luo and Jiang Liushen’s “childhood-friends fans” have probably already turned to other ships.
“Jiang Liushen has a new lover now. Aren’t you concerned?”
Li Luo recovers. “Hm? Oh… Of course I am. I haven’t found any new ones, and he’s not even introducing any to me.”
Lin Cheng could be heard shouting from the other side of the phone again. “Mingyang-ge! I saved you a piece of cake — come eat it later!”
Li Luo hears Duan Mingyang reply, sounding almost doting, “Okay, I’ll be there in a bit. Remember to have some of the ginger soup in the kitchen.”
In a split second, he’s back to the same cold tone. “Mr. Li, I gave you the endorsement as proof of my sincerity in working with you. Please don’t disappoint me. I look forward to today’s program.”
When he’s done speaking, he hangs up the call.
What an arrogant habit.
Li Luo pulls at his hair in annoyance and returns to the dressing room.
Deng Liang is in the middle of confirming Li Luo’s upcoming schedule with the new manager. Seeing Li Luo come in, he beams. “Luo-ge! You really get to be the spokesperson? That’s awesome!”
Jin Ren’s words are stiff. “From now on, your schedule will be quite tightly packed with brand events. You have to film ads in four European countries, and we can’t forget about the local advertisements either. Along with advertising for your new drama, you might be rather busy. Mr. Li, please take care in allocating time for rest…”
“Call me Li Luo or Luo-ge.” Li Luo feels irritated whenever he’s addressed like this, almost as if there’s a second Duan Mingyang babbling on before him. “Just inform Deng Liang. He’s my personal assistant, he’ll arrange everything for me.”
Deng Liang nods. “Yeah! Leave it to me, Jin-ge!”
It’s only been so long, and Deng Liang’s already calling the guy “Ge.” Li Luo is rendered speechless.
Jin Ren pushes up his glasses. “Okay, Luo-ge. Then do you need anything right now? If not, I’ll go and check on the set-up of the stage set-up.”
Li Luo sits back down at the vanity and crosses his legs, twirling the ends of his long hair.
“I want mousse cake.”
At two in the afternoon, the program begins filming on time.
It’s a popular variety show called The Golden Show. Every episode involves celebrities who are enjoying a bout of surging popularity. Li Luo has been here twice before, and this is the third time.
One of the female hosts is an old friend from his childhood — Jiang Xiaofu, Jiang Liushen’s cousin. Hiding her identity, the girl has been working as a TV host under her family’s company. She has really managed to make her own name; right now, she has almost ten million fans on Weibo, and she’s quite a rising star in the field of television hosting. To Deng Liang, she’s also a goddess of both talent and good looks, and he’s excited by any conversation they share, no matter how few words actually pass between them.
“X-Xiaofu-jie, Luo-ge b-bought some extra cake and told me to give one to you…” Respectfully, Deng Liang holds the beautifully wrapped cake box in his hands and presents it to Jiang Xiaofu, who is resting nearby.
“Huh, how rare of him to be so nice.” Jiang Xiaofu accepts it gladly. She then watches the onstage interaction for a while before leaning towards Deng Liang mysteriously, “Hey, Li Luo and Zhao Shanshan — are they for real?”
Deng Liang coughs shyly because of her approach. He steadies himself and looks towards the stage as well.
Li Luo and Zhao Shanshan are acting out one of the scenes from the drama. The maid, played by Zhao Shanshan, accidentally twists her ankle. Sitting on a rock at the side of the road, she’s frowning anxiously and biting her lip.
Right then, Li Luo appears, playing the young master.
He’s wearing long robes that are a pure white, simple yet bright, while his dark hair is fastened by a fine jade hairpiece. With slow, elegant strides, his posture is as straight as bamboo. As he smiles, stars seem to twinkle in his eyes. His impeccable charm almost puts him amongst the gods and deities.
People say costumes for period dramas are the highest standard for a test of appearance. Deng Liang feels that his Luo-ge is levels higher than even the highest standard.
The bad-boy young master teases the naive maid. Some banter passes between them before he suddenly bends down and picks her up bridal-style.
Screams come from the fans in the audience. They clasp their chests, trying to calm their exploding hearts, and their blushes spread all the way to their ears.
Deng Liang sees that Zhao Shanshan is blushing in Li Luo’s arms as well, and how she gives him a shy, flirtatious glance. With poise, Li Luo spins around with her, the hems of their robes fluttering in the air, before he lays her down gently.
The two do look quite suited to each other.
“I-I’m not sure either…” Deng Liang scratches his head. “I think Luo-ge is like this to all female celebrities, and all female celebrities are like this to him. I really can’t tell…”
Jiang Xiaofu gives his head a playful knock. “You’re a dense one, aren’t you?”
Deng Liang flushes red. The color doesn’t recede until intermission.
“How was it? Did Operation Cake go well? Did your goddess talk to you?” Li Luo teases as he sips at his glass of water.
“Yeah, yeah!” Deng Liang nods, his head bouncing continuously. Suddenly, he recalls that he hasn’t answered Jiang Xiaofu’s question yet. He guesses that Li Luo wouldn’t mind, thus asking directly, “Luo-ge, are you dating Miss Zhao?”
Li Luo almost chokes on his water. He coughs a few times and glares at him. “Of course not.”
“But I think she’s kinda into you.”
“Do I have to date her just because she’s into me? Tons of people in this world are into me.”
Deng Liang mumbles, “Then why did you eat with her privately…”
“It was in her mind when she invited me for a meal, and I used the chance to clarify my feelings for her. You gotta be gentle with turning girls down, right?” After Li Luo finishes, almost as if he remembers something, he continues, a little absent-mindedly, “And… I didn’t want to spend that day alone. She happened to invite me to a meal, so I accepted it.”
“But even though you turned her down, it seems like she hasn’t given up yet.”
“That’s none of my business, then. I told her everything already, and she’s agreed to being friends. As for these hugs and whatnot, it’s just to draw attention to the drama. She’s sparked rumors with so many male celebrities already, how could she not tell the difference?”
Deng Liang thought, Not necessarily. You’re so kind and gentlemanly both on and off screen. She’s not mad even after you turned her down, and she’s still willing to interact with you to bait shippers. Maybe she’s secretly hoping that this particular player would settle down.
But if players settle down so easily, they wouldn’t be called players anymore.
Li Luo looks around distractedly. “Where’s the new manager?”
“Him? I think he went out to make a call.”
“Tsk, make a call? More like rat on me.”
Deng Liang doesn’t understand. “Huh? Rat on you to who?”
“Who else? The new boss, of course.” Li Luo swings his leg and leans back. He closes his eyes, speaking quietly, “Never mind. He seems to be sincere enough, so I guess it’s time for me to do some work for him.”