“You’re what?” Tang Feng didn’t know how to react. What did Lu Tian Chen just say? He was jealous?
“Do you need me to repeat it?” Lu Tian Chen drove calmly down the street, and said in the same calm manner, “I’m jealous.”
“Oh.” Tang Feng finally understood. He leaned back in his seat and mulled over the deeper meaning of Lu Tian Chen’s words. “If it’s too , then you can stop at the next intersection and I’ll go buy you some sweet bread.”
“I don’t need any.” It was another direct reply.
“Then what do you need?” Tang Feng laughed. He knew what Lu Tian Chen meant, but the president was hard to understand. He wasn’t sure what Lu Tian Chen was trying to get at between the words.
Lu Tian Chen slowed down and parked near the sidewalk. He rested his hands on the steering wheel, but turned his head sideways to stare at Tang Feng. His dark eyes were like a pair of black holes, pulling Tang Feng’s eyes toward him.
Tang Feng suddenly understood what was going on. He immediately shook his head and waved his hand in protest. “No, no, no. You’re definitely joking. My god, please tell me you’re just joking around.”
“I don’t like jokes,” Lu Tian Chen said.
“That what are you doing right now?” Tang Feng could feel a headache coming on.
“I’m confessing.” Despite all his wishes, Lu Tian Chen still uttered the two words he didn’t want to hear.
Tang Feng covered his ears and sighed. What was going on these past few days? Was it national confessing week? He’d thought that Lu Tian Chen was merely curious and treated him well simply out of business appeal. Even if Lu Tian Chen did like him, it was the physical kind of like. Despite that, Lu Tian Chen hadn’t made a move on him at all over these six months.
All right, Tang Feng had to admit he was wrong.
“You mean, you like me. Do you want to sleep with me or something?” Tang Feng asked directly out of curiosity.
“I won’t sleep with people I’m not interested in,” Lu Tian Chen said while his scrutinizing gaze drifted downwards.
Tang Feng felt as if Lu Tian Chen was undressing him with his eyes. After scanning over the actor’s body, Lu Tian Chen nodded to himself, as if saying he was satisfied with what he saw.
“That just now…I felt that was sexual harassment.”
“You can think of it that way.” Lu Tian Chen’s unperturbed acceptance made Tang Feng swallow any reply he might have made.
He opened the window for a breath of fresh air. Otherwise, he was going to burn up under Lu Tian Chen’s intense gaze. Tang Feng rested his forehead on his hand and gazed at all the cars passing around them.
He wasn’t a narcissist, but he had wondered about what he would do if Lu Tian Chen suddenly fell in love with him. Of course, when that thought had appeared in his mind, he laughed at himself for how ridiculous and unrealistic it sounded. But here he was, faced with a confession from Lu Tian Chen.
“Then, what do you want to tell me?” Tang Feng asked.
“I want to be together with you.” It was a straightforward answer, fitting with Lu Tian Chen’s personality. Tang Feng rather liked that part about the man.
Lu Tian Chen was different from Charles. The latter might appear like a dumb bear on the surface, but was a sly, old fox underneath. Charles could smile and pat you on the shoulder like an old friend while stabbing you in the back with a sharp knife. Afterwards, he could even put on a worried act and swear to take revenge for you.
Lu Tian Chen was the exact opposite of Charles. If he didn’t like you, then he simply didn’t like you. He didn’t bother hiding his displeasure and openly voiced his thoughts. It wasn’t necessary to question the sincerity of his actions. He wasn’t the kind of person who would stab you in the back if he truly liked you.
A blunt personality made it easy to offend people, but Lu Tian Chen had the assets to back up his straightforward disposition.
It was the reason why Tang Feng was willing to collaborate with him, and also why he trusted the man.
But faced with Lu Tian Chen’s confession, Tang Feng smiled and shook his head. “No, that’s not possible.”
“Why not?” Lu Tian Chen then added with conviction, “You don’t like Charles.”
“No, I do like him. He’s a happy-go-lucky kind of guy, and also a ticking bomb at that. But don’t drag him into this conversation.” Rather than listening to Charles’ confession, Tang Feng would much rather hear Lu Tian Chen’s. While crafty, Lu Tian Chen at least lived according to a set of principles.
“Look, you disliked me a lot before, right? You even sent me over to Charles because of how much I annoyed you. Of course, I admit I was also at fault. But between the two of us, you will always be the one holding the reins. You have power and you have influence. I don’t have any of that, because I am in an inferior position.” Tang Feng was truly showing his age with his reply. Normally, no one would be able to remain so calm after hearing a confession and start analyzing the situation instead. Tang Feng concluded, “At the moment, I am incapable of forgiving you or accepting your feelings.”
Lu Tian Chen narrowed his eyes. He understood the hidden meaning in Tang Feng’s words.
The actor was incapable of accepting his feelings at the moment, but that meant there was still hope in the future.
“I have plenty of time. I don’t mind gambling on you,” Lu Tian Chen replied.
“All right. To be honest, I’ve never had the pleasure of enjoying someone chasing after me.” Tang Feng smiled at Lu Tian Chen. “I’m guessing that it’s rare for you to deliberately pursue someone. Am I the first one?” Tang Feng’s smile was a bit too gleeful.
“That’s right, you’re the first.” Lu Tian Chen made a mental note to himself about the all too obvious dig. He was going to take everything back plus interest in the future.
For someone to realize their feelings, there often needed to be an external stimulus. For Gino, he’d only realized his love for Fiennes after the latter’s death, and the realization sent him down a spiral of hopelessness.
Lu Tian Chen was much luckier in that respect. He’d been slapped in the face with evidence of Charles and Tang Feng spending the night together. Then, he’d watched Gino and Tang Feng act out an intimate scene with his own eyes. After been hit with so many stimuli, Lu Tian Chen finally came to a realization. He’d been doubting the subtle feelings he had for Tang Feng, trying to decipher whether it was love or admiration. Now there was no doubt about it; he understood his feelings all too well.
He was in love with Tang Feng.
It was the first time in his life that he felt a stirring in his heart for another person. For a newbie at love, Lu Tian Chen had an amazingly difficult time understanding his own feelings. Thankfully, his natural intelligence applied to topics in romance as well. Otherwise, who knew how long it would take for him to understand his own heart.
“Can I ask you a question, Tang?” Having just come clean with his feelings, Lu Tian Chen tried calling the actor with a nickname.
Tang Feng nodded. “Yeah, you can.”
“What do you think of me?”
Tang Feng thought for a moment and glanced at Lu Tian Chen. The president was young and handsome, and excelled in every field imaginable. However, Lu Tian Chen’s excellence was also his weakness.
“Your looks are fine. Your face is handsome, and your body is well-built. The air about you is also quite refined. You work hard, yet you also understand when you need to take a break and enjoy life. You aren’t a single-minded workaholic, but you’re too pragmatic. I know you like to be efficient, but…success in the workplace can’t fill or replace what actual emotions can bring you. Do you understand?” Tang Feng explained.
Lu Tian Chen suddenly chuckled. “I understand. You’re like my college professor, always going on and on about the principles of life and how we should live.”
Lu Tian Chen had struck the bull’s eye. Tang Feng glared at the other man. So what if he liked talking in principles? He had the right to do so at his age!
You bunch of brats!
Lu Tian Chen understood what Tang Feng was trying to say, but what about Charles?
The sly, old fox would never easily voice his thoughts to Tang Feng, much less Lu Tian Chen. He had his own plans.
Like normal, Charles welcomed the other two into the house when they returned. He tried to take advantage of Tang Feng in his usual way, and then had a drink with Lu Tian Chen and chatted about work.
Everything seemed peaceful. But as the saying went, it was the calm before the storm.
That weekend, three different people invited Tang Feng to go out, but he rejected all of them.
One of them was Charles. He wanted to go out on his yacht with Tang Feng. They could fish, sunbathe, and go diving.
The second was Lu Tian Chen. He wanted to attend an art exhibition with Tang Feng, and then have a romantic dinner afterwards.
The last invitation was from the little girl Tang Feng came to know recently, Annie. Whenever she had time, Little Annie would call and chat with Tang Feng. Today was the first time she invited Tang Feng to visit her house. Unfortunately, Tang Feng had already made plans with Gino.
They were going to visit Fiennes’ grave today. Tang Feng had given a simple reason for the trip: Fiennes was his idol.
He was going to visit his own grave. It sounded strange no matter how he thought about it. He’d heard that his grave was at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles. It was one of the most beautiful cemeteries in America. Situated near a mountain range, the cemetery had green grass and towering trees. It was a beautiful environment. Many celebrities had been buried there, including the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.
It sounded great to Tang Feng. After sweeping his own grave, he could go visit Michael Jackson while he was there.
It was a two-day trip if they were heading down to Los Angeles. It meant that Tang Feng and Gino would be spending a night together. Upon hearing that, Charles immediately called off his plans to have a party aboard his yacht. Likewise, Lu Tian Chen also canceled his plans to buy a few paintings at the art exhibition.
Fortunately, Annie wasn’t coming along.
Despite that, the two-person trip had somehow become an outing for four.
Ever since Gino first laid eyes on Tang Feng, he was struck with a sense of familiarity. And strangely enough, he found that he also trusted the other to an inexplicable level. Yet despite that trust, he’d kept several things from Tang Feng. One of them was that he’d been secretly excited for the kiss scene for an entire week before they were scheduled to film it.
Another thing he’d never told Tang Feng was that he’d brushed his teeth at least four times and chewed through an entire pack of gum before the scene. He was afraid that Tang Feng would dislike him.
When he kissed Tang Feng back at the church, he was only half-immersed in his role. When he felt the other’s lips on his own, he felt as if he’d been transported back in time. At that moment, he felt as if he were a seventeen-year-old who’d just been struck with the first signs of love. His heart was racing, and he could feel the blood rushing to his head. In his panic, he couldn’t control himself and ended up biting Tang Feng.
It was the first time that he found that a kiss could be more nerve-wracking and more memorable than the actual act of love itself.
“Is this your answer? Michael Gino, you’re disgusting! You bastard! I hate you!” Lilith screamed as she launched a pillow at Gino’s head.
Gino leaned sideways and dodged the soft projectile. He’d thought about everything and came to the conclusion that Tang Feng was right. He didn’t love Lilith. He’d simply been in a rush to find someone to fill the hole Fiennes had left behind.
“Let’s break up,” he said calmly.
It was better for them to end it now than later. He didn’t want to continue living this foolishly.
“Why are you so selfish, Gino? I love you…” Lilith stared at him for several long seconds. After she processed Gino’s words, she fell onto the couch as if injured and started crying.
“Lilith, nothing will come out of our relationship even if we stay together. Since I’m the one who brought it up, I’ll take full responsibility. If the media picks up on this, I will deal with it.”
At first, they’d started dating because it was their agency’s idea. They needed to create anticipation for the movie they’d starred in, so their agency leaked to the media that they were dating. The plan was a success; they’d won the media’s undivided attention. Somewhere along the way, they truly started dating each other. Even now, Gino still had a tough time deciphering whether they had been simply acting or if they had actually loved each other.
“Aren’t you afraid that I’ll tell people? I’ll tell everyone that you’re in love with Fiennes Tang! A dead man who’s a decade older than you!”
Gino chuckled and replied, “Lilith, you know I’m not afraid of those sorts of tactics. I don’t mind letting the world know that I love Fiennes. Also, Fiennes is not dead. He still lives in my heart, and will continue to do so for the rest of my life.”
“You’re out of your mind,” Lilith mumbled. Leaning into the couch, she rubbed at her eyes. When she removed her hand, the back of it was completely black. All her makeup had smudged into a mess.
Gino walked over and handed her a tissue. Almost ripping it out of his hand, Lilith accepted it and wiped at her face. She then reached for her bag and pulled out a mirror and a bunch of makeup. As a devotee to beauty, Lilith wanted to look beautiful no matter the situation she was in.
Fortunately, Lilith was still young. Gino knew she would never break herself over a half-serious relationship. She was a Hollywood girl.
“Fine, whatever. In any case, I’m going to marry someone who’s handsomer than you. And you’ll only have your memory of me to comfort yourself when you’re all old and lonely,” Lilith said angrily. She pulled out a tube of lipstick and retouched her lips. “We’ll break up. I hope you don’t regret it afterwards.”
“Of course I’ll regret it.” Gino smiled and shrugged. “Thank you for your good wishes.”
Lilith snapped her mirror shut and glared at Gino. She looked as if she wanted to say something else, but then pursed her lips in displeasure. She lowered her head and started storing her makeup away. She then said quietly, “I hope you can thank him for me. That man with black hair and black eyes.”
Even though Lilith had been completely drunk that night, she still remembered who’d saved her and then looked after her.
“I will, he’s a good person.” Gino understood who Lilith was referring to.
“That’s right. He’s a good person, and I am a good girl. Yet how did we both come across someone like you?” Lilith slung her bag across her shoulder and stood up. She collected herself and said, “Listen up, there better be a good reason for why we broke up. I don’t want the world to know that I lost to a man who’s already passed away. My manager will contact you about this. Also, don’t talk to me in the future!”
Lilith turned around and walked away with big strides, leaving behind a confident figure. Yet she couldn’t stop the rims of her eyes from turning red again. She quickly pulled out a pair of sunglasses and put them on.
Who hadn’t had a passionate and short-lived love back in the days of youth?
Like Lilith, those adolescents would laugh and cry, and would live on to see tomorrow.
After coming back to the United States, what Tang Feng wanted to do the most wasn’t meeting up with the people he once knew, but to take a trip around the places he’d once stayed at and look around, this included his final resting place.
His death had come in a sudden manner, so he had no idea who’d taken care of all the matters related to his death afterwards.
Had it been his manager John?
Or had it been his good friend Randa, or perhaps Leroy?
No matter who it was, they did a very good job. There hadn’t been any public broadcasts on the news or exclusive interviews with reporters. It had been a private funeral with a group of his close friends. It had been a simple and quiet affair, something that suited him perfectly. Although he didn’t know who had planned everything, fortunately, they had made sure that his grave would be open to the public afterwards.
Tang Feng thought he had a right to visit his own grave once, so he planned to visit it together with Gino over the weekend. Coincidentally, they were going on the same day as Fiennes’ birthday.
After having a talk with Gino, they’d spent two days finishing the filming of their first bed scene. Although it was described as a bed scene, the actual time they had to expose themselves in front of the camera was minimal. Tang Feng did have his pants taken off, but he was still wearing something underneath. Not to mention, he was also wearing the long and bulky monk robe on top.
For the entire scene, Gino merely held himself above Tang Feng and simulated a few movements. However, the director was a perfectionist and asked the two of them to repeat the scene several times, with a different set of movements each time. The director was also particular about which direction they should face and whether they needed to look at the camera and who should look at the camera.
Whenever the director came up with a new idea, they had to repeat the scene. After several repeats, Gino was embarrassed to find that he was physically reacting. He could feel himself getting hard, but fortunately, the monk robe was loose enough to hide his reaction. Even though no one else had noticed, Tang Feng was the exception. Gino had been rubbing himself on him back and forth for the better part of the day. If it weren’t for the obvious look of apology on Gino’s face, Tang Feng would have assumed that the other was taking advantage of the situation and doing it on purpose.
For the entire scene, the two of them mainly exposed their legs, and only up to their thighs at that.
The director didn’t have any plans to turn the film into an erotic film. Regarding the relationship and actual nudity in the film, the director had chosen to turn up the intensity in a gradual manner. The first kiss and the first bed scene had to be controlled and subdued. Later on, it would turn more passionate as the two main characters collided more and more with each other.
“Are you all right?” After the day’s filming wrapped up, Tang Feng ran over to Gino and asked. Gino had been in the same position for quite a while now. It wouldn’t be good if he developed a problem because he was holding it in for so long.
“Do I look like all right to you? If you give me a tree, I’m pretty sure I would start humping it right now,” Gino joked crudely. After talking with Tang Feng a bit more, Gino made an excuse that he had to go change and ran off to his trailer.
As for what Gino was actually doing inside his trailer, who knew?
Tang Feng snickered to himself. What was Gino going to do when the more intense scenes came around?
To avoid coming across Gino and getting himself in an awkward situation, Tang Feng left first. Today, the one picking him up was still Lu Tian Chen.
The president seemed to be in a bad mood today. When he saw Tang Feng, none of his usual “cordialness” was present, cordialness as in holding the door open for Tang Feng and asking where he wanted to go before heading home.
“Get in.” Lu Tian Chen didn’t bother holding the door for Tang Feng. He also didn’t ask Tang Feng where he wanted to go. Right after Tang Feng got in, Lu Tian Chen put the car in drive and sped away.
Only an idiot would fail to see that Lu Tian Chen was angry, but Tang Feng couldn’t recall what he’d done to make the man angry. Was Lu Tian Chen angry at the fact that his “loving breakfast” the other day had given him an upset stomach?
“Are you feeling okay? It was my first time making breakfast. Sorry.” Out of politeness, Tang Feng felt that he should apologize for making the brave man beside him eat everything he’d made.
Lu Tian Chen didn’t reply; he outright ignored Tang Feng.
“Are you angry at me?” Tang Feng tried asking.
Lu Tian Chen ignored him again. This time, Tang Feng was a bit angry himself. Since when had he ever had to lower himself this much? One couldn’t act too weak around Lu Tian Chen or Charles, otherwise they’d eat you for breakfast.
Tang Feng smiled and said, “Keeping your anger all bottled up is going to lead to health problems. I hope you’d take care of your health, President Lu.”
“I’m not angry. I’m only jealous.” Lu Tian Chen’s answer was direct and simple. A calm and logical conclusion that nevertheless shocked Tang Feng.
For the sake of convenience, Gino had rented an apartment near the set as well. When Tang Feng went to visit, Gino had just finished taking a shower. His hair was still dripping wet when he went to open the door.
“Did you go for a swim in the ocean?” Tang Feng chuckled when he noticed. “Am I intruding?”
“No, of course not.” Gino pulled the other through the door and shut it firmly. To an onlooker who didn’t know any better, the speed at which he welcomed Tang Feng in made it seem as if he had some ulterior motives in mind.
“Find a seat. There’s juice and milk in the fridge. The coffee is over there. And that’s the bar. Help yourself,” Gino rattled off while walking off to another room.
Tang Feng grabbed a glass of juice and sat on the couch. He found the remote and turned on the TV. He didn’t know what Gino watched while he was at home, but maybe a bunch of horror movies?
Understandably, he was a bit surprised to see his own name come up on the screen. The movie playing was Life of Luxury, which he’d starred in as the lead actor. He’d never expected Gino to be watching his films, just like he hadn’t expected Gino to have liked him in the past.
After getting changed, Gino walked out of his room. Tang Feng was already several minutes into the movie. Staring at the TV screen, he asked, “Do you like Fiennes’ movies?”
The image of him on the screen was still young, barely into his thirties. It was an age when men were at their most charming. Tang Feng had to admit that he wasn’t as eye-catching in the past as he was now. Fiennes’ appearance could be described as cultured. Luckily, it was something he’d retained throughout his life.
“He’s an amazing actor.” It was rare for Gino to let go of the chance to make a joke. He sat down quietly beside Tang Feng, eyes drawn to the image of Fiennes on the screen.
Tang Feng took in everything.
Gino truly liked Fiennes. Gino truly liked the past him!
“When I first met him, to be honest, I didn’t like him all that much. You could even say that he irritated me.” Gino chuckled, and described the circumstances in which he’d met Fiennes. Tang Feng already knew what he was going to say, but it was different hearing Gino’s perspective on the events.
Gino first saw Fiennes at a film festival. At the time, both Gino and Fiennes had been nominated for Best Actor. Gino’s debut performance was very good, if not spectacular. He had chosen a challenging role in a horror movie for his first appearance. Film critics and the audience alike lauded his acting in the movie. He had practically become famous overnight.
Nevertheless, it was obvious that the festival committee liked Fiennes more. Fiennes had already won several awards abroad at international film festivals; it was inevitable that he would win Best Actor this time around as well. Gino could only watch as the trophy that he most certainly deserved sprouted wings and flew away.
“I firmly believed that the Best Actor should’ve gone to me and not to Fiennes. I hated him because of that. At the after party, I couldn’t help myself and said some nasty words to him.” Gino shook his head while recounting the night. He couldn’t stop a rueful smile from spreading on his face. “Just thinking about it makes me want to hit myself for how immature and laughable I was acting. I was young, so I believed that everything rightfully belonged to me. But looking at it now, I think my performance was child’s play compared to his.”
“No, I think you acted very well,” Tang Feng blurted out. He quickly added, “I’ve seen your debut movie. I think you did quite well for a newcomer. I could feel the tension in your acting. Most horror movies just go with the established method and rely on exaggerated expressions, but you expressed the inner fear perfectly. I think it was great.”
A film festival committee was made up of a group of different people, and unfortunately, different people had different tastes.
Gino was too young back then. It was difficult for young actors to win awards if their acting wasn’t downright stunning to the entire public. There were many reasons for that.
One, the judges probably felt that it wasn’t right for someone to win an award right after debuting. After all, there were plenty of actors and actresses who were waiting in line in front of them.
Two, if a newcomer were to win Best Actor or Best Actress, the road ahead of them would become too easy. Would they still struggle and pursue their dreams with as much passion as before?
Lastly, personal interests played a big part in the awards. As people, the judges couldn’t help but be biased. If they were to award someone such a big trophy, would they still be able to put forth acting of the same caliber next time? Suspicions like that ran through their minds all the time.
A good performance wasn’t enough to win Best Actor. Tang Feng experienced plenty of that in his past life.
“Exactly, I thought my acting was quite good as well. In any case, that was how I came across Fiennes. As an immature kid, I butted heads with him at every turn. At that time, Fiennes was pretty influential in Hollywood. He had his own resources and a place to exert his power. If he’d wanted to teach me a lesson, it would have been easy as cake for him. But he never did. He only argued with me occasionally.”
Gino started laughing, but abruptly ended it with a sigh. He rested his chin on his hand and said, “I know he didn’t like me, because I was an impolite and stupid idiot.”
“The reason you argued with him… Was it because you wanted to catch his attention?” Tang Feng asked tentatively.
Gino nodded, but he’d come to that realization too late. When he’d finally understood his feelings for Fiennes, the man had passed away.
It had happened in the blink of an eye. A star that had burned the brightest in the sky fell down to earth in mere seconds. He was still reeling from the aftereffects even now. He’d been in love with Fiennes for seven years. How stupid was he to have just discovered it now?
“It’s already too late now. I didn’t even have time to apologize to him. I didn’t even have time to…to tell him that I’ve collected all his movies and every poster imaginable of him. I’ve gone to many of his movie premieres. I’ve even secretly asked after him from other people.” Gino’s eyes glazed over with a layer of tears as he stared at the man on the TV, a man who had left the world forever. Despite the smile on his face, he was choking up over his words.
“I didn’t even have time to tell him that I love him. Do you know? The more I learn about him, the more I fall in love with him. But I’m an idiot. I didn’t even have the chance to confess.” Giving in to the tears, Gino covered his face with his hands.
Tang Feng wrapped an arm around his shoulders. He comforted, “He’ll know. He’s listening to every word you’re saying.” He ended it there and sighed.
He wouldn’t tell Gino about his secret. Even if he did, he wasn’t sure Gino would believe him.
It wasn’t the first time that someone had confessed to him, but Gino’s confession made him feel both warm and remorseful. In the heat of passion, one person might confess to another on the spur of the moment, or maybe it was simply love at first sight. Often, these kinds of impulsive love left as quickly as they came. A strong and passionate start often led to a gloomy and tired end that eventually petered out.
For seven years, Gino’s one-sided love for him continued to trickle like a sluggish stream. The people who had once loved him had become distant due to his continuous hospitalization. Others had left him due to societal pressure. And others still, had buried their feelings for him at the news of his death.
In the half-year since his death, how many people truly missed him?
He didn’t know that Gino had loved, and still loves, him. He also didn’t know why Gino had fallen in love with him, but that was the reality he was faced with right now.
Fiennes Tang had already died. Someone who had departed the world shouldn’t bring harm to the living.
“Gino, do you love Lilith?” Tang Feng asked.
“I can’t face her. After Fiennes passed away, I tried dating a girl instead. Lilith is a great girl. It’s just…I can’t forget about Fiennes,” Gino replied, his emotions gradually calming down. Tang Feng exited out of the movie and switched to a random channel on the TV.
“I know I’m not in a position to say anything, but Fiennes isn’t coming back anymore. If he knows that you’re suffering because of his death, I’m sure he would be racked with guilt. Gino, let him live on in your memories. You need to look ahead of you. Pull yourself together. I don’t want to spend another morning just filming a bed scene with you.” Tang Feng tried to cheer Gino up in his own way.
“Sometimes, you act a lot like him. You’re kind to everyone you meet, but that also means you’re distancing yourself from everyone. Because of that, I really liked picking on Fiennes and angering him. He would glare at me and tell me off, but those were the only moments when I felt that he was truly living and breathing.”
Gino glanced at Tang Feng. With a rare serious expression, he said, “You’re still young. Don’t suppress yourself so much.”
“Now it’s your turn to lecture me, is it?” Tang Feng chuckled. “Then don’t fall in love with me like you did with Fiennes. I don’t want to be a substitute.”
Would he be a substitute? Or would he be the true Fiennes?”
It wasn’t important in any case. Tang Feng wanted Gino to step out of Fiennes’ shadow. He wanted Gino to cry because he was reminiscing the past, and not because he was suffering. How long would it take for Gino to be himself again?
“I forgot to ask, did something happen recently?” Tang Feng asked. Gino wouldn’t start acting strange for no reason. Lilith’s words couldn’t have affected him to this point.
“It’s almost his birthday.”
Tang Feng blinked. He’d completely forgotten about his own birthday.
“Then why don’t we go visit him?” Tang Feng suggested. He rather wanted to see his own grave.
EXT. OUTSIDE THE CHURCH NEAR THE SEA―DAWN
With a wooden tub beside him, Tang was washing clothes by the sea. His long fingers appeared all the paler when submerged in the dirty water. His gaze was unfocused, staring blankly at the grey suds on the dirty robes. It was difficult to tell what he was thinking.
It was early in the morning. The sun had yet to rise fully into the sky; there was only a smidgeon of white decorating the border that divided the sky and the sea. It was a peaceful morning, with a hint of mysterious anticipation of the day’s start.
The sky gradually lit up, like a fish leaping out of the sea and exposing its white belly. The waves slapped against the seaside rocks, while a freezing wind blew over the shore. Submerged in the icy water, Tang’s fingers gradually turned a bright red.
What was he thinking about?
Perhaps he was thinking of all the candles that had fallen on the ground that night. Perhaps he was thinking of Chris’ bold and passionate kiss.
He had once again committed an unforgivable crime in front of God. In his shame, he had pushed Chris away and ran back to the small room that he’d been allotted. He wasn’t permitted to speak, so he ran his trembling fingers over the words of the bible and repeated them silently to himself. But he couldn’t help but also brush a finger over his lips; he could still feel the warmth of Chris’ lips against his.
He couldn’t believe that he had been defeated in the face of temptation. He couldn’t stand that his heart had been sent racing just because of a single kiss.
Had he been born like this?
He didn’t know, but he could feel the pain from his conflicting heart. From that day froth, he avoided Chris whenever possible. Similarly, Chris stopped sneaking glances at him. but that only made it more difficult for Tang to resist the urge to turn around and check whether the golden-haired monk was near.
The answer was unfortunate; Chris had stopped paying attention to him altogether. The memories of that night seemed like an alluring dream that a devil would use to tempt someone into wrongdoing. It was as if nothing had happened.
Was Chris playing with him? Tang’s thoughts ran wild as he scrubbed the dirty clothes in a numb manner. He had already lost all feeling in his fingers due to the icy water. The cold was climbing up his hand, his arm, and all the way to his heart.
“When I’m not there behind you, are you disappointed or are you hurt?”
The voice that had appeared in his dreams countless times sounded behind him. Tang kept his head lowered and gazed at the surface of the sea. It was a hallucination. He would not reply.
“Just because you can’t speak doesn’t mean you can escape from everything.” Chris walked toward Tang and stood behind the latter. He called out lightly, “Tang.”
The pronunciation was perfect, as if coming from the other side of the world. In an instant, Tang could feel the sadness and loneliness well up in his heart.
Tang shut his eyes. He prayed that the other monk would stop coming near him. He prayed for Chris to stop tempting him.
But reality was cruelly different from what he desired. When Tang’d least expected it, Chris came up and enveloped him in a hug. For a moment, Tang was still, but he then struggled to get out of the hold. But compared to the young and strong Chris, Tang couldn’t do anything.
The two of them fell and rolled onto the patch of grass beside the seaside rocks. Tang couldn’t breathe and wasn’t able to speak. He didn’t even know whether he should call out for help or not.
Chris’ breath was rough, but he kept his arms around Tang. They encircled the other like a pair of iron claws; Tang felt as if he would snap in two.
The warmth Tang felt on his hands and body was in sharp contrast to the cold sea breeze. He felt as if his senses had been amplified; every touch was made more vivid. Tang bit hard into his lip as they rolled into a field of overgrown weeds. Chris started pulling at his pants.
Heavens. He could feel the fiery heat from Chris’ palms on his skin.
“Cut! Very good! Let’s take a break and prepare for the next scene,” the director called at the most important moment. His clear voice snapped the staff out of their engrossment.
It was an exciting scene to watch even without the postproduction effects and music added in. Once they were added in though, this scene would definitely become one of the most memorable in the audience’s minds. After all, it was an exhilarating yet poetically beautiful scene.
Tang Feng and Gino’s assistants walked over to help them up, but Gino waved them off, indicating that they were fine. Gino stood up and pulled Tang Feng along with him, the latter had already firmly buttoned up his pants.
“Did I scare you earlier?” Gino said with a teasing smile in his eyes. As a professional actor, he would never take advantage of a scene and place his hands where he shouldn’t, but being absorbed in his role, it was natural to have a few slip-ups. He had pulled Tang Feng’s pants off earlier, but the actor had been wearing underwear inside. What a shame.
At Gino’s question, Tang Feng pretended to be angry and glared at the other. “Obviously, you almost scared me to death.” He brushed aside the awkward atmosphere with a joking answer.
The two of them walked off the set and sat down to rest and get a drink of water. The makeup-up artist immediately came over to touch up their faces.
The other staff walked around them, busy preparing the set for the next scene. Although they were filming intimate scenes in the wide open, the area they had chosen was rather isolated. There wasn’t anyone unrelated disturbing them, or standing around and watching them film.
Despite that, the director had told the crew to put up barriers around the set, preventing potential curious onlookers from walking in.
“The two of you, remember to relax in the next scene. Tang Feng, this might be your first time filming these type of scenes, but don’t be tense. We aren’t filming porn after all. However, for the sake of artistry and in order to create tension between the characters, we have to have a bed scene.” Director Li Wei came over to chat.
To everybody else, Tang Feng was someone who had grown up in China. As a result, as a fellow Chinese man, the director automatically assumed that Tang Feng would be reserved and shy about filming intimate scenes. Adding on his quiet and gentle demeanor, Tang Feng often gave others the impression that he was a reserved individual.
Li Wei was also worried that as a new actor, Tang Feng would burden himself with too many thoughts and considerations when it came to the bed scene.
“In the next scene, I want you guys to act with the image of a cat and tiger in mind. Tang Feng, you’re going to act as the cat that has been forced into a corner. Gino, I want you to be a bit overbearing, and a bit forceful. Not only do you need to get through to Tang through his body, but also his heart. You need to show passion, but also conflict.” The director left after leaving a few words of advice, giving Tang Feng and Gino the time to prepare and get into the proper mindset.
Gino swatted at Tang Feng like a tiger. “This is great. Since I’m the tiger, I’m going to eat you all up.”
Although Gino joked around like usual, Tang Feng had a suspicion that the other was forcing himself.
Did it have something to do with what happened at the party?
Tang Feng wanted to ask Gino about it, but they had to film in a few minutes. It was better to wait until their work was over.
EXT. NEAR THE SEA―DAWN
Lying on top of Tang, Chris tore brutishly at the other’s clothes. The fabric bunched in his hands and soon ripped apart.
“Don’t refuse. Don’t refuse me…” Chris pulled the collar of Tang’s robe down, laying a hesitant yet fervent kiss on the back of the other’s neck.
His movements were rough, yet his words were gentle and almost begging in tone.
Tang couldn’t speak, but broken gasps escaped his throat. He widened his eyes, he didn’t feel any pain or humiliation, but he felt a bewilderment and oppressiveness that he couldn’t understand.
At that moment, Tang Feng felt something wet drip onto his neck. Before he could understand what was happening, Gino pulled him into a hug and he heard the sounds of crying beside his ear.
“Cut!” the director immediately yelled.
“Are you all right?” Tang Feng asked worriedly. He was the one being assaulted in the scene, yet Gino was the one who had started crying.
“I’m fine.” Gino shook his head and managed a smile. Despite his words, Gino didn’t seem fine. He appeared gloomy and miserable, which was a bit different from the sorrowful yet hopeful and determined feeling that the director was trying to express.
They took another ten-minute break and tried the scene again, but the results were even worse than the first time around. Gino didn’t cry again, but he had trouble getting into character. Tang Feng didn’t even need to look at the replay footage to know that Gino’s words were coming out too soft for his character.
The director took Gino aside and explained the scene again to him, but nothing seemed to work. They’d spent an entire morning on a simple bed scene, yet what they had to show wasn’t good enough to get a pass from the director.
Even if Gino wasn’t tired, Tang Feng was starting to feel a bit exhausted.
The pale morning sky had already turned a clear blue. The sun was also hanging high in the clouds. The director told Gino to go home and rest. Instead of struggling with the bed scene again, they were going to film some of Tang Feng’s individual scenes this afternoon.
Like usual, Tang Feng finished his scenes in a smooth manner.
It was time for him to have a talk with Gino.
Gino ended up dragging Lilith home with him. Despite that, the image of Lilith crying her heart out was ingrained in Tang Feng’s mind. He couldn’t forget the shocking words the girl had said.
Gino liked Fiennes? Gino liked him? So much that Gino had called out his name during the night?
That was impossible!
Even after returning home, Tang Feng was preoccupied with Lilith’s words. It was simply too shocking and unexplainable, so much that he drove Charles and Lu Tian Chen out of his room.
He needed time alone. He needed to think and calm down.
In his past life, he’d had a strange relationship with Gino. The media and the public had the impression that the two of them were close, but that was far from the truth. From the start, Gino had treated him like an eyesore. Gino had picked on him every time they came across each other. Not one to back down, Tang Feng had thrown back his fair share of snark.
Could their relationship even be described as that of a senior and a junior?
Just remembering those times made Tang Feng sigh at his immaturity. At that time, just seeing Gino’s annoying face and hearing his annoying voice made him want to beat the youngster down a notch or two.
He’d always thought that Gino had picked on him because of dislike. There was no way that he could be wrong about that.
After being reborn, Tang Feng discovered that Gino actually wasn’t a bad person. He was occasionally childish, and also willful and a show-off. Even then, Tang Feng never thought that Gino had come troubling him at every turn because the youngster liked him.
Tang Feng wasn’t narcissistic enough to think that.
But Lilith’s attitude while she was drunk, her pain and her curses, they were all telling Tang Feng that Gino had loved Fiennes, that all their petty fights were a means for Gino to attract Fiennes’, meaning his attention.
Tang Feng had never expected for such a childish love to occur in an adult, but it appeared that he was wrong. Gino had never spoken a kind word to him in the past, much less a confession of love. It appeared that Gino truly believed that arguing with him was the best way to get his attention.
“My god…” Tang Feng fell on the bed and covered his eyes. He couldn’t believe that this was happening.
This was definitely a joke. He must have misunderstood something.
Tang Feng decided that he needed to have a talk with Gino tomorrow. There was no way he could ignore this!
“He’s acting a bit strange today,” Lu Tian Chen said while sitting on the couch in his pajamas. They only had a square, modern floor lamp turned on. The artistic lines of the lamp were accentuated by the gentle light it emitted, appearing like a work of art. However gentle the light was, it couldn’t soften the sharpness of the two men’s eyes.
Charles had a cup of coffee in his hands; he clearly had no plans of sleeping tonight. At Lu Tian Chen’s words, he chuckled. “Why don’t you just ask me whether I’ve done anything to him on the way back? You probably think I forced him, right? All right, I’ll admit that was what I had planned in mind, but unfortunately, I had to push back my bedtime date with Tang Feng.”
Lu Tian Chen and Charles were college classmates. Because of their similar values and the fact that they liked each other, they’d decided to work together.
They’d created their own businesses and worked hand in hand while experimenting with new fields. They had created their wealth together.
They were very good friends, but one of them was arrogant and proud, while the other was realistic and selfish. As a result, the terms of their friendship changed depending on the benefits they could gain in each situation.
At the moment, working together brought them more benefits than working against each other.
Unless it was absolutely necessary, the two intelligent men would never make the other his enemy. As that was the case, was the current situation something that required them to rethink their partnership?
Perhaps, and perhaps not.
Lu Tian Chen and Charles were both standing in front of a crossroad. They paced back and forth, hesitating over whether they should continue down the same path together or split up and find their own way. Slowly but surely, they became aware of the root of the problem.
All of this for a man?
It was something that would make them laugh for three days in the past. A beautiful woman wasn’t even enough to make them work against each other, much less a man.
But that was also because they’d never come cross anyone who had made them care that much. Then what about now? They didn’t have the answer to that. As they interacted more and more with Tang Feng, they’d discovered that there was someone who was capable of capturing all of their attention.
They had a tacit understanding between them, yet they couldn’t resist testing each other. The seemingly peaceful three-way tie was a secret battleground, and the two contenders were both trying to ascertain the other’s limits.
“Then what’s wrong with him?” Lu Tian Chen asked. Unknowingly, he had started paying more attention to Tang Feng. It was to the point that even he had noticed his own anomaly. But despite knowing the problem, he couldn’t prevent himself from caring. Moreover, Lu Tian Chen didn’t want to stop caring.
Charles sighed deeply. “I don’t know. He’d played hero today and saved a woman from the hands of an idiot. The woman’s the girlfriend of the co-actor from his movie. We’d looked after her while Tang Feng called Gino, who then came and took her home.”
It was a simple and matter-of-fact explanation.
“That’s it. Though there was something strange.” Charles frowned and recalled what Lilith had said. “That woman had said something strange while she was crying.”
Lu Tian Chen lifted his head. “What did she say?”
“I hate you. I hate you. I’m not Fiennes, do you understand? That man is dead, how can you have such disgusting thoughts…” Charles repeated Lilith’s outburst word for word. He tapped his knee and said, “The strange part is that Gino loves a man who’s already dead. Moreover, that man was almost forty when he’d died. No wonder that woman was about to go crazy. Haha.”
“Fiennes…” Lu Tian Chen rubbed his chin. He remembered Tang Feng saying that Fiennes Tang was his idol. Was he simply unhappy because he’d learned something new about his idol?
That couldn’t be right. After getting to know Tang Feng over the past few months, Lu Tian Chen knew that the actor wasn’t foolish enough to become sad and conflicted over an idol.
Tang Feng was simply too calm and mature. It only made the rare moments when he’d lose his composure all that more apparent, to the point that everyone around him would be curious of the reason.
“How did Tang Feng react when he heard her?” Lu Tian Chen continued.
“He seemed a bit shocked.” Charles glanced at the other. “Do you think that Tang Feng and Fiennes Tang are somehow related? That I know. They both have the family name ‘Tang.’”
It was an unfunny joke.
“Tang Feng has never met Fiennes.” That was the case in Lu Tian Chen’s memories, but after being discharged from the hospital, Tang Feng was completely different from the person he once knew.
Perhaps Fiennes had something to do with Tang Feng’s change? Lu Tian Chen carefully stored the name “Fiennes Tang” away inside his mind.
“Did you think of something?” Charles had caught on to Lu Tian Chen’s silence. He hadn’t known Tang Feng before the three-month deal. As that was the case, he’d never noticed that Tang Feng had changed. But he wasn’t stupid.
Lu Tian Chen had treated Tang Feng like utter garbage before and wasn’t willing to spare the man a minute’s attention. Lu Tian Chen had even been willing to send Tang Feng to his bed. Charles wasn’t stupid enough to believe that his friend had started paying attention to Tang Feng because the actor had great potential. He didn’t believe that Lu Tian Chen would follow Tang Feng all the way to America because of that. That wouldn’t be the Lu Tian Chen he knew.
There was only one plausible explanation: Lu Tian Chen had set his heart on Tang Feng, and it’d occurred out of the blue.
Charles had his suspicions about the kind of relationship Tang Feng and Lu Tian Chen had before. He was also curious as to how the two had managed to repair their relationship.
“Tang Feng is very different from before. I don’t know if a person would turn into someone else after losing all their memories, but it’s obvious that an amnesic man shouldn’t be so familiar with American culture. On top of that, Tang Feng knows how he should communicate with the film crew. He can speak fluent English. And he’s somehow developed astounding acting skills.” Lu Tian Chen paused and frowned. He then concluded, “He’s like a completely different person.”
Charles placed his cup on the table. He spread his arms on the back of the couch and laughed. “I know, Tang Feng’s an angel who’s come down to earth.”
“And not a devil?”
“Oh, a devil isn’t bad either. I’m willing to go to hell with him if he’s a devil.”
There was no point in discussing it any further. They couldn’t reach a conclusion with the minimal information they had. Any of the reasons they could have offered sounded strange to their own ears.
The only thing they were sure of was the amount of attention they both exhibited toward Tang Feng during their talk. What did that mean?
Perhaps they would know the answer soon.