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.
“I saw that you came together with Charles. Are you friends with him?”
“I guess you could put it that way, but he’s also my boss. He’s an investor of the movie that I’m currently acting in. He brought me here today to meet people,” Tang Feng replied with a smile, and wondered if they could move the conversation outside the restroom.
“Oh, I’ve heard of Charles before, but I’ve never met him personally. It seems like the rumors about him are false, as he appears like a rather good boss. Meeting with people is a good thing. You can learn many useful things just from talking with others. All right, Tang Feng, I might not be good at Chinese, but I will remember your name.” Robert laughed. “It seems like we’ve been chatting here in the restroom for quite a while now.”
Tang Feng nodded. “If you don’t mind, we can go grab some cocktails outside.”
“That sounds like a great idea. Hahaha.” Robert and Tang Feng laughed out loud. They both found it quite hilarious that they were having such a serious conversation in the restroom.
While their physical appearances were radically different, both men were about the same age on the inside. They left the bathroom and grabbed a few pastries and two glasses of cocktails. Just as they were about to find a quiet place and have a long chat together, a scuffle broke out in a corner of the party; a man and a woman seemed to be arguing about something.
Robert wasn’t the least bit surprised. “It’s normal for fights to break out at parties. You get used to it.”
“Wait, I’m sorry Robert. I seem to know that woman.” Just as he was about to turn away, Tang Feng recognized the woman wearing the black suede dress. After apologizing to Robert, he quickly walked over to the two people still arguing with each other.
It was a huge opportunity to be able to talk with the chief advisor of D Media Corporation, but Tang Feng had something more important to do at the moment.
“What a strange man.” Robert chuckled to himself. He leaned against a nearby tree and gazed at Tang Feng’s back with admiration. It was normal for smalltime celebrities and people who wanted to enter the entertainment industry to come and talk to him during gatherings, but he had been the one to strike up a conversation with a stranger this time. He’d thought that Tang Feng was a distinguished figure in the industry and was surprised to know that the actor had just entered Hollywood after talking with him.
“There aren’t enough warmhearted young people around these days.”
Many people had gathered to see the fight, but none had stepped forward to put a stop to it.
The man and woman arguing with each other were both young. Judging from their appearances, they were either celebrities or models. The woman in question was someone Tang Feng had met just a few days ago: Lilith, Gino’s girlfriend.
“You fucking psychopath! Slut!” The man yelled at Lilith and grabbed her wrist, his other hand aiming for a slap. If the argument had simply remained an argument, none of the bystanders would have stepped in to help. Upon seeing that it was escalating into a physical fight, a few people stepped forward. But someone else had beaten them to the punch.
Tang Feng ran over and grabbed the man’s wrist, pushing Lilith aside. “That’s enough. Don’t hit her!”
Faced with an intruder, the man raised his chin and glared. “Who are you? You want a fight? Do you think you’re saving a damsel in distress or something? Why don’t you look at yourself first, you yellow monkey!”
Tang Feng could smell the alcohol on the other’s breath.
Seeing that the intruder was Asian, the man didn’t appear discouraged at all. He lifted his arm and tried to throw Tang Feng’s hand off, but the actor had a tight grip on his arm. In the end, Tang Feng was the one who let go first.
“You’re a disgusting man.” Tang Feng walked over to help Lilith, who similarly smelled of alcohol. Lilith leaned against him, appearing completely drained and powerless. He asked concernedly, “Lilith, are you all right?”
“How can she not be? Shameless slut! Hey, yellow monkey, you should worry about yourself first. Let go of her, she’s my friend. What are you going to do? You want a fight? Then come on, I’ll punch you so hard that nobody will be able to recognize that pretty little face of yours.”
The young man seemed possessed as he glared at Tang Feng viciously. He rolled up his sleeves and headed for Tang Feng.
None of the bystanders could withstand seeing a man hit a woman, but it was the opposite for a fight between men. Some of them clapped their hands and whistled, clearly waiting for a good fight.
Trying to reason with a drunkard was more ridiculous than . Tang Feng handed Lilith over to a girl nearby. He wasn’t afraid of a fight. Men who willingly harassed women needed a punch to the face in any case.
“Did your mom not teach you basic social etiquette? Don’t worry, I will teach you instead.” Charles appeared from the crowd just as Tang Feng was about to show off the moves he’d recently learned.
Seeing that someone else had come to interrupt him, the young man made to retort about Charles’ skills in bed, but a punch to the nose made him swallow the words instead. He howled in pain as blood spurted from his nose.
“Fuck!” The young man turned and punched at Charles. Although the punch appeared strong and clean, it was weak compared to Charles’ own. Charles easily grabbed the young man’s wrist and threw him over his shoulder.
Slammed against the ground, the young man howled in pain again. He didn’t have the energy to stand up and make another move. He wrapped an arm around his belly and covered his bleeding nose with the other hand, rolling back and forth on the ground like a wild boar. Charles walked over and kicked him in the butt.
“The showy moves and fancy footwork that you learned from your personal trainer doesn’t work in an actual fight. If you ever want to learn how to beat someone like me, I can teach you.” Satisfied at the fact that he was able to show off in front of Tang Feng, Charles turned to look at the actor with a pleased smile. Unluckily, Tang Feng had already walked away, taking Lilith to the lounge nearby.
“Shit! I will remember this!” Still laying on the ground, the young man yelled stubbornly.
Charles clicked his tongue in annoyance and aimed another kick at him. He was taking out his irritation at being ignored on the young man, but the latter only had himself to blame for his bad luck.
Tang Feng helped Lilith into the lounge. She immediately scrambled to the bathroom and threw up in the toilet; she had clearly drunk too much.
When Charles walked inside, he saw Tang Feng taking care of Lilith. He immediately called for a waiter and pulled the actor aside.
“Enough, you can leave that kind of dirty work to someone else. I have to say darling, I never knew that you were the kind of hero who would rush in to save a damsel in distress.” Charles shut the bathroom door but didn’t close it completely. He slipped an arm around Tang Feng’s waist and laughed in a low voice. “Don’t rush in by yourself next time. If your face is injured, I would be very sad and angry.”
“My face?” Tang Feng chuckled coldly and pushed Charles aside. It didn’t matter if Charles treated him well, the bear only had one thing in mind. Charles liked sleeping with him; he liked his youth, his face, and his body.
“Ah, of course! I’m simply afraid that it would interfere with filming! Did you think I was only after your looks? Oh, darling, do you see how many beautiful models and celebrities are at this party? I’m not saying that you aren’t handsome and beautiful, but if I were simply after looks, I would’ve turned around and chased after someone else a long time ago!”
Charles followed after Tang Feng like a needy large dog. Tang Feng felt his anger deflate at the other’s comical appearance.
“Do you like that woman? I don’t see what’s so good about her.” Charles glanced at the bathroom, a look of despise on his face. “Her perfume makes me sick. She also looks too skinny, like a lean rib. Darling, don’t ever date a female celebrity. Most of them are too dirty. Who knows how many men they’ve slept with.”
“I’ve slept with you.” Tang Feng glared at Charles. There were female celebrities who traded sex with influential men in order to advance their career, but that didn’t mean everyone was like that. Tang Feng didn’t like Charles’ arrogant tone, as if he were looking down on those women. Moreover, Lilith was Gino’s girlfriend.
No matter what happened, Tang Feng thought he should call Gino first.
Listening to Tang Feng’s conversation with Gino, Charles sat down on a leather chair inside the lounge. He remarked sharply, “Looking at that woman, her boyfriend can’t be any better.”
Tang Feng turned and glared at him again. Charles shrugged and smirked, but remained silent.
The waiter supported Lilith from the bathroom and Tang Feng quickly walked over to help set her down on the bed. He paid the waiter a tip and asked him to bring in a glass of water.
“And two glasses of champagne!” Charles added before the waiter left. Seeing that Tang Feng was still busying about Lilith, he said, “Just leave her there. She only had too much to drink.”
Tang Feng sat down beside Charles and waited. Ten minutes later, Gino rushed into the lounge. He noticed Charles, but didn’t bother to greet him.
“She had too much to drink,” Tang Feng said.
“Thank you, Tang Feng. Truly.” Gino sighed. He walked over to the bed and looked down at Lilith, a frown on his face.
Tang Feng added, “No matter what has happened between you two, I think it’d be a good idea for you guys to sit down and talk through it.”
At the sound of conversation, Lilith woke up. She opened her eyes slowly, seemingly still disoriented. Upon noticing Gino however, her expression immediately turned. She sat up and pushed at Gino, yelling, “Leave! Get lost!”
“Lilith! Stop it!” Gino tried to approach Lilith again, but she quickly started crying.
“I hate you. I hate you! I’m not Fiennes! Do you understand? That man is dead! How can you have such disgusting thoughts!”
Tang Feng paused in shock at Lilith’s angry words. Did he just hear his past name?
Only three words were needed to describe the state of Hollywood: A vanity fair.
Calculating a celebrity’s success was also easy: Were they famous? Were they profitable? The two always came hand in hand with each other.
Every year, all major film festivals would produce a Best Actor and a Best Actress. It was easy to guess how many people would be awarded those titles every year. There were plenty of good actors and actresses in the world, but it was rare to find someone who was both charming onscreen and off-screen.
If a Best Actor or a Best Actress were to leave the type of film and role they were comfortable with, most would find that the quality of their acting would drop compared to before. Another scenario would be if they were hindered by faulty judgement and chose to act in a series of mediocre films, only to turn around and find that their career was slowly going downhill. Many actors who’d won prestigious awards would often find themselves making do with roles in low-budget films, or playing a supporting role to a newcomer.
Tang Feng had good acting skills and he was charming as well, but he lacked the qualifications to pick his own roles and the social connections to strike it out in Hollywood.
One couldn’t act aloof in Hollywood. Fortunately, Tang Feng didn’t think it was a bad thing to have a wide circle of friends. True, there were lowlifes in the industry, but there were even more talented people. In Hollywood, one could meet world-renowned directors, editors of large magazines, outstanding photographers, and brilliant investors.
Hollywood was a gathering of successful and talented people. An unexpected reward could come out of a simple chat with just one of them.
For someone to be successful, they definitely had a personal strength to support them.
At the moment, beside acting in Satan’s Alley and practicing martial arts, Tang Feng also took the time to participate in social events in order to make connections. There wasn’t any need to deliberately curry favor with someone, just simply enjoying the food, the wine, and the delightful conversations between friends was enough. There weren’t any fools here; it was easy to tell when someone was being insincere.
From the experience of his past life, Tang Feng knew that it was enough to stay true to oneself.
Charles’ business partner was holding a private party tonight. Besides the usual businessmen, many celebrities and models had been invited as well.
In other words, one could find all sorts of people at the party, from talented individuals to people who were seeking their own personal gain.
As the party organizer was someone he knew, Charles had asked for another invitation card. Under Charles’ persuasion, Tang Feng was going to attend as well.
As Fiennes, he had plenty of friends in Hollywood. He’d welcomed anyone who sought friendship with him, but there were few he was especially close to. Most of his truly good friends were from outside the entertainment circle, with most being doctors.
Tang Feng had no plans of contacting the people he once knew. The majority of his old friends would probably think of him as a smalltime celebrity who was desperate for fame. No one would take him seriously. Moreover, he didn’t want to be sent to the psychiatric ward.
Despite that, he couldn’t live just going to and fro from the filming location and his apartment. One had to interact with others in order to meet new people.
The theme of the party tonight was “Forest.” Most of the invitees were wearing clothes made from natural, coarse materials. For accessories, most chose to decorate with fruit, leaves, and flowers.
Charles and Tang Feng were both wearing suits made from hemp. In order to fit the theme of the party, they had chosen colors that represent the forest. Their black suit jackets and pants represented the ground, while their dark green ties represented leaves. For cufflinks, they’d used a cute pair of crystal, brown fruits. The entrance to the party had also been especially decorated. Tang Feng and Charles had entered under an arch made of leaves, flowers, and branches. The waiters standing beside the arch were also dressed like dwarfs from a fairytale. They were responsible for checking invitations and welcoming the guests.
The lighting inside was dark. A series of dishes meticulously arranged to look like fruits and flowers were displayed on a row of hardwood tables decorated with red fruits and dark, brown branches. A few crystal trees stood in pots nearby, their branches laden down with crystals. It was clear that the organizer had spent quite a lot of money on the party.
“What do you think?” Charles walked around the party with Tang Feng, chatting and exchanging business cards with the people they came across.
It was an interesting party. People milled about the venue, making conversations and connections. A few partygoers were hitting up the female models lounging around. They soon disappeared in pairs, only to reemerge half an hour later.
Good music, good wine, and beautiful women.
“The party is great.” Tang Feng smiled. He didn’t go out to party often, but that didn’t mean he didn’t know to socialize with others. At the moment, everything was going well.
“Hey, Charles!” A middle-aged man who had his arm around a model walked over.
“I’m going to walk around by myself for a bit.” The purpose of socializing was to make friends, but not every person was worth his friendship. Tang Feng was familiar with the man who’d called out to Charles just now. He’d seen the man’s face on magazines before; he’d been involved in several scandals with female celebrities. The man definitely didn’t lead a healthy lifestyle. Tang Feng didn’t see him in a good light.
Charles didn’t force the actor to stay. He merely reminded, “Be careful. Don’t walk too far away. I’ll come look for you soon.”
Tang Feng walked over to the buffet tables and ate a few morsels of food. He then picked up a glass of cocktail from a passing waiter and took a walk around the party guests. As he was a no-name celebrity in Hollywood at the moment, his expensive suit had been provided by Charles. His striking appearance soon drew the eyes of several people and a few came over to flirt. The female celebrities and models who had gathered around him thought of him as an Asian millionaire, and quickly conveyed their interest in him.
Tang Feng was somewhat peeved when a few of the girls mistook him for Japanese. When one of them greeted him in Japanese, he replied in Chinese instead. Shock decorated the girl’s face when she exclaimed, “Chinese!”
Rather than discouraging the girls from hanging around him, Tang Feng readily started chatting about the current state of Hollywood with them. He spoke about the changing times and how actors didn’t rule the industry anymore. The rise of brilliant directors and powerful businessmen had gradually pushed actors down from the top of the pyramid. They then switched to talking about fashion. Tang Feng mentioned how a model’s success depended on the favor of designers and other famous people as well as one’s own personal appearance. The girls couldn’t help but admit, trends were often made popular by boasting rather than the power of the actual design.
“Then according to you, all we have to do is latch onto a designer or a wealthy fellow?” The models surrounding Tang Feng were amused by his words and laughed often at his jokes.
“It would be great if you could bring inspiration to the designers you come across. If you can inspire a designer, then it would mean something special when he offers you the chance to walk in his show or to be on the front cover of a magazine. Inspiring people is a trick that works anywhere,” Tang Feng replied with a smile.
After learning that Tang Feng was Chinese, the extroverted girls kept on asking him about things having to do with China, like martial arts and Chinese cuisine. Tang Feng immediately pulled up everything on martial arts he’d heard from Lu Tian Chen and showed off a few moves. The girls stared at him with wide-eyed surprise.
Afterwards, a few of them hinted that they were interested in getting a drink or a cup of coffee with him, but Tang Feng politely declined all their offers. For the ones who were especially persistent, he directly tossed out his trump card and said, “I have a boyfriend.”
The girls looked at him in understanding and replied, “Wow, that’s so cool. We understand.” However, that didn’t prevent them from asking Tang Feng details about his boyfriend. Faced with the numerous questions, Tang Feng couldn’t help but use “having to use the restroom” as an excuse to escape.
Staring at his reflection in the mirror, Tang Feng fixed a few stray strands of hair. He’d stayed long enough inside the restroom; it was about time for him to leave.
“I saw you earlier. You seem popular with women.” A forty-year-old man with a protruding belly walked to the sink next to Tang Feng and washed his hands.
The man chuckled. “True, it isn’t. Can I ask you a question?”
“You’re Chinese, right?”
“Thank god. I’ve finally found someone who didn’t mistake me for Japanese,” Tang Feng said jokingly.
The man laughed again. “It’s pretty rare coming across a Chinese man with a good sense of humor like you. I mean, most of your countrymen seem like the serious kind. Luckily, I’ve met a few Japanese people before. You’re different from them.”
Of course there is a difference. Tang Feng smiled in response.
“Can I ask you another question?” The man seemed greatly curious in Tang Feng.
“I can’t reject anything you ask while we are in the restroom. So please, ask away.”
“Haha, you’re an amusing fellow. What I want to ask is, how does a Chinese man interpret ‘beliefs’ and ‘hero?’” The man leaned against the sink.
Fortunately, Tang Feng was familiar with Chinese culture. He pondered for a moment, and said, “For most people who only seek after food, clothes, and a roof over their heads, belief would mean leading a good life. It’s more realistic and important than any luxury in the world. Personally however, I think belief should be love.”
“And not believing in a hero or some other type of leader?”
“Believing in others means you’re willing to show them your weak side. On the other hand, believing in God can lead to fanaticism, while believing in oneself is sometimes ill-advised. I know that most people in America would choose to believe in oneself and emphasize the ego. However, that often leads to arrogance. I think that the majority of humans have this shortcoming. We inflate our own egos all too easily.”
“A good interpretation. My name is Robert,” the man replied with a smile.
Tang Feng reached out his hand. “Tang Feng.”
Did this count as a coincidence? He was surprised to come across the chief advisor to one of America’s top entertainment companies in the restroom of a party.
Robert wasn’t familiar with the current Tang Feng, but Fiennes had collaborated many times with him in the past.
Having been banished to the cold palace, Charles went to take a shower. Afterwards, he slathered some shaving cream onto his cheeks and chin and slowly shaved himself clean. The carefulness in which he conducted the act made it seem as if he had an important date coming up.
Due to the unfair contract Tang Feng had signed with Charles today, Tang Feng had to give Charles a massage, even though Charles had been the one causing him trouble.
Charles quickly came out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist. His face was smooth and his hair had been swept backwards. The clean hairstyle only highlighted his distinctive features. Charles had always been manly.
Tang Feng frowned when he noticed the towel that seemed on the verge of slipping off wrapped around the other man’s waist. “Can’t you put your clothes on properly?” Tang Feng narrowed his eyes, standing beside a table prepared with a series of massage and body oils.
“Aren’t you supposed to take off your clothes for a massage?” Charles blinked flirtatiously at Tang Feng.
Charles reached down to pull his towel off, but then he noticed someone very familiar sitting in the corner of the room.
“Lu Tian Chen, are you going to watch the whole time? Enough, my dear friend, why don’t you leave? I don’t want you to see me naked. You’ll be wrapped in an inferiority complex after seeing me. I’m miserable just thinking about how you’ll have to live in my shadow for the rest of your life,” Charles boasted, clearly leading people to misunderstand.
Lu Tian Chen was sitting in an armchair and reading a book. He glanced up at Charles, who was showing off his naked chest and abdomen. He shut his book with a clean snap; Tang Feng glanced back at the sound.
“I live here,” Lu Tian Chen said simply.
“What?” They were in Tang Feng’s room for god’s sake. Charles looked as if he’d swallowed a smelly egg. He then reacted and smiled. “What a coincidence, I live here as well.”
“Oh, babe, harder! Yup, yup, right there. It’s so comfortable…” Laying with his face down on the mattress and a towel covering the lower half of his body, Charles kept on giving out misleading moans.
Tang Feng was sitting at Charles’s side, his fingers on the man’s spine. Charles had a good body; his skin also felt great to the touch after rubbing it with oils. But that wasn’t good enough of a reason for Tang Feng to like giving Charles massages. He didn’t like serving others at all.
“Right here?” Tang Feng moved his fingers to Charles’ butt. An evil smile on his face, he pinched it forcefully. Then copying Charles’ exaggerated tone, he said, “Wow, babe, your little butt is so firm.”
Tang Feng heard a chuckle come from Lu Tian Chen’s corner.
In all the years Lu Tian Chen had known Charles, it was the first time he came across someone who dared to tease the wild bear, and for it to be Tang Feng out of all people.
Who could have imagined it? Half a year ago, Tang Feng had been an arrogant second-generation rich idiot. He appeared fierce on the outside, but was a coward at heart. The first time he’d met Charles, he appeared like a rabbit standing stock-still in front of a predator, unable to utter a word.
Half a year later, Charles had turned from a ferocious wild bear into a tame brown bear that knows how to smile at people.
Then what about himself? Lu Tian Chen placed his book down and walked toward the other two. He made sure that he slept with them in the same room every night. Otherwise, a certain bear was going to swallow up the rabbit overnight.
The three of them usually never cooked while at home. Oftentimes, they went out to eat at restaurants or would hire someone to come and cook for them. When Tang Feng opened the fridge the next morning, he found it largely dominated by cans of beer, jugs of milk, and a few cartons of juice. Luckily, there was a small selection of simple ingredients he could use to make breakfast.
Tang Feng stooped down and picked out a few that seemed easy to cook: Eggs, sausages, and a few potatoes.
“My dear god, darling, are you going to make breakfast for me? I am moved beyond belief. I never knew you were good with housework. I feel like I got a bargain.” Charles had woken up at the same time as Tang Feng, but the actor had been fast and got to the bathroom first. Charles didn’t want to shower in another bathroom, so he had to wait until Tang Feng was finished. After showering, Charles strolled out late to see Tang Feng pulling out stuff from the fridge.
Lu Tian Chen on the other hand, had chosen to shower in his own room and was already sitting on the couch reading the newspaper.
“No, it’s not for you.” Tang Feng pulled out the eggs, sausages, and potatoes and walked over to the open kitchen situated beside the living room. What should he make first? Right, cut the sausages apart, chop up the potatoes, and he also needed some cooking oil.
“If not for me, then who is it for?” Charles walked down the stairs. He felt something was off the second the question left his mouth. He abruptly turned to glare at Lu Tian Chen.
Lu Tian Chen turned over a page, and said calmly, “It’s for me.”
“Why?” Charles wasn’t happy.
“Because Tang Feng feels like it,” Lu Tian Chen responded in the same calm voice.
Tang Feng looked through the cupboards and finally found a bottle of oil. He’d completely ignored the battle of jealousy occurring in the living room.
Standing before the cutting board, Tang Feng picked up a knife and cut one of the sausages in half. He gave his work an appreciative glance. See, he was quite good at cutting sausages.
He arranged the two halves of the sausage on the plate next to the cutting board and quickly turned to tackle the potatoes. He said to himself, “I only need to chop them into big pieces. That should be fairly easy.”
Reality however, turned out differently. Just because someone liked to eat potatoes, it didn’t mean they were good at chopping them. Tang Feng picked up the cutting knife and swung it down hard on the potatoes. At the loud sound, both Lu Tian Chen and Charles paused in their bickering and looked in the direction of the kitchen.
They walked over to see what Tang Feng was doing. The actor had already finished cutting the potatoes apart. Seeing the other two, he pointed proudly at the irregular pieces on the cutting board, each still carrying the skin. “Look, didn’t I chop them well?”
Tang Feng’s smile showed that he was waiting for praises. Charles immediately swallowed the snarky remarks he was about to make.
“You did well.” There was a reason why Lu Tian Chen was a good businessman. He lied without thinking too much about it, as smooth as singing a song.
“It’s great!” Charles wasn’t willing to lose. In any case, he wasn’t going to be eating those potatoes.
After cutting apart the sausages and potatoes, Tang Feng turned on the stove. Lu Tian Chen reminded him, “You have to warm up the oil before putting in the potatoes.”
“I know that. I’ve seen it on those cooking shows.” Tang Feng picked up the bottle of oil and poured it into the pan. When he set it down, half the bottle was empty.
“It’s fried potatoes anyways. It doesn’t matter how much oil he puts in.” Charles chuckled off to the side, a mischievous glee in his eyes.
Tang Feng didn’t disappoint Charles. He tossed everything he’d chopped up into the pan of oil. Beside the potatoes and sausages, he also added two eggs.
Luckily, Tang Feng knew that he had to break the eggshell before adding in the eggs.
Charles and Lu Tian Chen watched as Tang Feng added a large spoonful of salt. Probably thinking that it wasn’t enough, the actor then dumped some ketchup and black pepper into the pan.
In the end, Tang Feng had turned up the stove too much. The eggs were a misshapen burnt lump, the potatoes were more black than gold, and the sausages were charred in places.
“Oh, the ketchup and black pepper should have gone in dip bowls on the plate, right?” After turning off the heat, Tang Feng finally remembered that the potatoes he’d eaten before were usually paired with a series of condiment bowls.
The other two didn’t know how to reply to his question.
Charles patted Lu Tian Chen on the shoulder. “Tang Feng had especially prepared this breakfast for you. You should eat all of it up.”
“I know it looks a bit ugly, but I think it should taste fine. You can try a bit if you want. If you don’t, then just toss it into the trashcan. I’ve already called for takeout.” The doorbell ringed right at that moment. Tang Feng washed his hands and handed the plate piled to the top with his loving breakfast to Lu Tian Chen. “The takeout is here. I’ll go get the door.”
Lu Tian Chen silently accepted the plate. Charles couldn’t resist a laugh as he walked past to chase after Tang Feng. The actor had already accepted the box of takeout. Lu Tian Chen’s condition was “to make him breakfast.” He didn’t say how the breakfast should taste. Tang Feng had fulfilled his task perfectly, but he knew that the plate of food he’d made looked rather terrible. The taste probably wouldn’t be great either.
“I bought congee, a lot of it.” Tang Feng added with a hint of embarrassment, “It’s the first time I’ve made breakfast. You don’t have to eat it.”
He was afraid Lu Tian Chen was going to have an upset stomach afterwards.
Lu Tian Chen picked up a piece of fried potato and put it in his mouth. “The taste is okay. It’s your first time, isn’t it?” It was a reply that led one’s mind into the gutters. From one perspective, Tang Feng’s first time definitely belonged to Lu Tian Chen. From another, Tang Feng’s first time in this life occurred on the night when Charles had drugged him.
But Tang Feng didn’t want to waste time explaining that.
Charles’ face darkened at his friend’s words. “I am an openminded man.”
They passed the morning in the strange atmosphere. Keeping up a straight face, Lu Tian Chen managed to eat all of the unknown matter that Tang Feng had made. The actor didn’t feel a single ounce of guilt; he didn’t force Lu Tian Chen to eat after all.
In the afternoon, Charles drove Tang Feng to the filming location. As for why it wasn’t Lu Tian Chen, that was because the president was suffering from a case of upset stomach.