Whenever two armies clashed, the general could always be found sitting at the rear commanding his troops; the ones charging into the battlefield and sacrificing themselves were always the expendable soldiers.
Of course, one couldn’t forget about the emperor reclining in his throne at the palace and enjoying the luxuries of life, while leaving everything else to his general to toil through.
Tang Feng didn’t know what their situation amounted to, but he was certain that he was merely a chess piece in Lu Tian Chen’s hands, while Ge Chen was Su Qi Cheng’s pawn. Their two emperors were deliberating moves and initiating plans behind the scenes, while they could only rush forward and fight hand-to-hand in a brutal brawl.
After the kidnapping, Su Qi Cheng had managed to grab hold of Tang Feng’s “weakness.” Fake rumors about Tang Feng began spreading online like a disease: Tang Feng has his feet in two ships at the same time. He only managed to crawl up the ladder by relying on the unspoken rules…
Unwilling to be left out, other news hubs began publishing scandals about the “angelic” Ge Chen: His popularity is a result of his sleeping around. He is the “lady boss” of Su Entertainment…
Tang Feng felt irritated no matter which side of the news he looked at. Neither side was winning. What kind of battle were they fighting here?
The actor pulled open a drawer and took out a pack of cigarettes. He moved to the balcony and sat down in a chair. A flick of the lighter and a flame lit up the deep colors of the night. With the cigarette hanging from his mouth, Tang Feng leaned into the flame to light it up. Smoke from the quietly burning tobacco quickly rose up in spirals and filled the air.
Tang Feng took a light drag. The smoke proved too pungent for him after having not touched a cigarette in years. He coughed a few times and only got used to the slightly bitter taste after it pervaded the entirety of his mouth. He languidly blew out a circle of white smoke. The smoke curled sluggishly like mist in the dark before dissipating into the cold night.
The night was heavy. The city was lit by the splendor of endless lights, but it was a weak illusion of prosperity. A short-lived deception. Fragile enough that it could be blown away with a single breath, revealing the dirty steel and harsh concrete underneath, cold and foul.
The only things that were eternal in this city were the moon and the stars, studded in the dark drape of the night and dazzling the eyes with their brilliant gleams.
The burnt end of the cigarette fell onto the ground and had its light extinguished. Tang Feng drew his legs in and buried his head into his knees. What had he been doing for these past few months? Had he been focusing too much attention on the baseless scandals that enveloped him like a tide?
Tang Feng, Tang Feng, you are only human in the end. You can’t see through everything.
The news kept on questioning the validity of his character. How had an outdated celebrity like him gained the favor of a show like Dream Lover? What had drawn him the favor of Charles? And how had he won the favor of Lu Tian Chen?
What do you have? Besides a young body, you don’t have any works under your name that you can proudly display to the public.
It was a sharp and incisive remark. Despite having weathered countless battlefields and having become impenetrable to the blunt weapons of society, Tang Feng couldn’t help but be angry at the abusive comments that questioned his character. It was similar to a genius being pointed at and deemed an idiot by idiots themselves. He could treat the comments as a mere harmless wind, but even harmless, he could still feel the gust against his skin and its lingering aftereffects.
However, that wasn’t why he was sitting on the balcony and indulging in a cigarette. He was disappointed in himself. For the past few months, he had spent too much energy on Lu Tian Chen, on Charles, on Albert, on the melodramatic love polygon, and on the unruly corporate battles. They were too complicated for an actor to understand and simply a waste of time.
Tang Feng was tired of it all after experiencing a kidnapping and fighting for his life. He suddenly had the urge to find someone to chat with and have a drink together.
Suddenly, his phone started vibrating on the table. Tang Feng lifted his head from his knees and glanced at the screen. It was an unknown number.
“Hello?” He answered.
“Ni hao! Tai Feng!” What an utterly lousy mish-mash of Chinese.
“Gino, your Chinese is seriously horrid.” Tang Feng knew who it was just from the speaker’s voice. But how did Gino have his number?
“I am not!” Gino’s Chinese was as inflexible as a rock.
“Then I’m hanging up.”
“Hey! Do you not understand the definition of fun? I was joking around with you!” Gino said, switching to English.
Tang Feng’s lifted his lips in a smile. “I’ve always been like this.”
“You haven’t called me at all, even though I especially left you my phone number,” Gino nagged on the other end.
“What does that have to do with anything? I’m not obligated to call you just because you’d left me your phone number.” Tang Feng chuckled. It’d have turned out the same even if Gino hadn’t given him his phone number. Moreover, with the mess he was in these days, he didn’t have the patience to make an international call.
“Wow, you’re in a mood today. Who bullied you?”
Gino’s boisterous laugh rang out on the other end. Hearing such an infectious laugh, Tang Feng couldn’t help but laugh along. He was only a little distraught, which made him a bit cranky as well.
“No one, I’m doing fine.”
“No, you’re not fine at all. I can hear it in your voice. Hey, listen to me bro, don’t waste your time worrying about those groundless scandals. They are like flies; you can never get rid of them. You might find them irritating because you’re standing on the ground and they’re flying all around you, but don’t pay them any mind.” Unexpectedly, Gino started acting like a psychologist.
“You do make a lot of sense.” Rather than the contents of Gino’s response, Tang Feng was more curious as to why Gino had decided to offer such advice. Exactly who had been the one to frequently appear on magazine covers with the large headline “Resorting to Violence, Gino Kicks at the Paparazzi” decorating the space beside his face?
“Then… Ah, look. Rather than wasting your time swatting at the flies that will never disappear, why don’t you aim to climb higher? Once you’ve climbed high enough, you’ll find that there aren’t any flies around you anymore. Because they will never be able to fly up to where you are!”
“I remember Fiennes saying the exact same thing a few years ago during a magazine interview.” Tang Feng mercilessly aimed a jab at Gino’s back. He resisted the urge to laugh out loud. For God’s sake, no wonder why he felt Gino’s words were familiar. Hadn’t he been the one who first made the comparison between flies and height?
Now Gino was using those same words to talk him around.
“Bro, you aren’t cute at all! And here I was trying to comfort you out of the good of my heart!”
“Since when have I become one of your bros?” How did Gino even come to learn about the scandals in the first place? Even if they were trying to learn more about each other as they were going to star in the same film, it didn’t mean going to the point of keeping track of each other’s scandals.
Not to mention, all the news concerning him were written in Chinese. Foreign media didn’t know about his name yet. Tang Feng recalled Gino’s awkward Chinese from earlier. Had Gino started learning Chinese?
“Ah, you’re right. We aren’t bros. Very soon, we’ll become a couple, lovers even. We’ll kiss each other and roll around in bed making love.”
“That sounds fun.” Tang Feng looked at his watch. “No matter what, thanks for calling. I’m doing very well, so you don’t need to worry. I need to go to sleep soon as I still have work tomorrow.”
“All right, have a good night’s rest. I’m waiting for you in Hollywood!”
At that moment, the doorbell sounded. Tang Feng rose from the chair and walked barefoot to the door. Just as he was about to end the call, he heard one last shout from Gino.
“It’s already eleven at night over there for you. Eleven! Who’s that looking for you?”
“My manager. All right, I’m hanging up. Bye.” Tang Feng hung up. He didn’t think Xiao Yu was the one looking for him at all. He walked up to the door but didn’t move to open it. Instead, he glanced through the peephole, directly meeting the eyes of the man standing outside.
It was a pair of brown eyes, framed with thick lashes and carrying a crafty sparkle.
“Charles, I’m about to go to bed.” Tang Feng recognized the man just from his eyes. Despite having initially kept his distance from Charles during their one-month deal, Tang Feng discovered that he had unknowingly come to learn a great deal about the man.
It was quite a strange feeling sometimes.
“Darling, let me in. Please. I promise I won’t bite you. If you need to sleep, I’ll just stand beside your bed.” Charles knocked again, his voice carrying a trace of meticulously staged pitifulness with a hint of begging.
Tang Feng opened the door and glanced at the mixed-blood man who was carrying a bottle of champagne and stroking his own hair. “You say you’ll stand beside my bed and watch me while I sleep? That sounds like something out of a horror film.”
On the basis of Charles’ good record of keeping his word, Tang Feng let the man inside his room.
“Is there a reason why you’re here?” Tang Feng closed the door after Charles. The latter had run straight for the wineglasses and was even humming a tuneless song.
“Babe, are you saying that I can only come looking for you if I have a reason? We are dating, aren’t we? I’ll have to make my final choice in the next episode of Dream Lover and it’s also the end of the show. Honestly, I feel rather sorry that it’s ending.” With a pop, Charles opened the bottle of champagne and poured two glasses. He turned around and handed a glass to Tang Feng. “Of course, rather than a show, I prefer dating in the real world much more.”
Tang Feng sipped at the champagne. It was delicious.
Charles perked up his nose and sniffed around the room like a puppy. He glanced suspiciously at the actor. “Did you smoke?”
“It’s exactly as you suspect.” Tang Feng sat cross-legged on the couch and turned on the TV.
“You don’t normally smoke. Is it because you’re bothered by what’s happened the last few days? I have to say, even though I like your fierce and strong attitude, the sight of you succumbing to an occasional weakness is enough to take my life. My heart is melting!” Charles walked over to Tang Feng and squeezed beside him onto the couch. “I can help you teach a lesson to Ge Chen.”
“Stop, stop, stop!” Tang Feng quickly raised a hand. He sighed helplessly. “Don’t mention Ge Chen anymore. Or Su Qi Cheng for that matter. Don’t drag me into another mess.”
“All right.” Charles shrugged and leaned back into his seat. Holding the wineglass in his left hand, his right made its way across the back of the couch and onto Tang Feng’s shoulders. Watching the midnight news broadcast, he mumbled, “Darling, after experiencing a few things over the past few days, I’ve made a decision.”
“What decision? Are you renouncing your ways and turning over a new leaf?” Tang Feng didn’t bother calling Charles out for his blatant groping.
A crafty light flashed across Charles’ eyes, but instead of explaining further, he kept up the mystery and yawned. “You’ll know soon enough.”
Charles’ vague answer was a bit alarming. Tang Feng narrowed his eyes and glanced at the lazy lump beside him. “That doesn’t sound like anything good.”
“Hahaha. Darling, believe in me. I won’t hurt you. Everything I do is for your sake! Are you moved?”
“That sounds very scary,” Tang Feng replied honestly. He furrowed his brows. “Exactly what are you planning?”
“I’m joking with you. I’m just shifting the focus of my work a bit.” Charles sat up straight on the couch, his arm still around Tang Feng. “Why don’t you go shower? I’ll give you a massage afterwards.”
“What?” Were his ears working? Did Charles just offer to give him a massage?
“Come on, go. You know I feel a little guilty about the whole kidnapping. Think of it as my insignificant compensation toward you.” Charles pulled Tang Feng up from the couch and pushed him toward the bathroom.
“Wait, you don’t need to do this. I’m all right. Really.” Tang Feng turned around just before he stepped through the bathroom door.
Smiling, Charles took Tang Feng’s half-finished glass of champagne. “You can shower on your own, or I can come in there with you. I rather miss our movie marathons in the bathtub.” Charles waggled his eyebrows suggestively at the actor.
Half an hour later, Tang Feng walked out of the bathroom wearing his pajamas. He paused in surprise when he noticed the state of his room and immediately started laughing. “What did you do?”
The lights inside the room were all turned off. To the left and right of the bed were two glass tanks filled with water. Warm yellow candles floated inside the tanks and sent out heady scents that filled the room. The hazy light and the fragrance the candles emitted suddenly turned the small apartment romantic. A warm, satisfying, and thoroughly lazy kind of romantic.
“Either I don’t do it, or I pull out all the stops. How about it? Are you satisfied with how I’ve transformed the room?” Charles had taken off his jacket and his sleeves had been rolled up to his elbow. He appeared both capable and lively.
Satisfied, of course he was satisfied. Tang Feng was especially filled with satisfaction when he lay across the bed and Charles’ hands moved to massage his head, shoulders, and waist. Charles coated his hands with rose oil and warmed it up between his palms before rubbing it across Tang Feng’s neck and shoulders. His strong hands massaged the actor’s muscles with the right amount of force, loosening the tension and leaving warmth behind.
With his whole body completely relaxed, Tang Feng was so comfortable that he wanted to call out in pleasure.
He suddenly recalled a report a journalist had written about him in the past. There was a paragraph that resonated with him:
“Fiennes always appears happy in the eyes of the public, but he has experienced much greater pain than the average person would in their entire life. Perhaps we should be happy that he had grown up in a loveless and uncaring orphanage; as he never had to compare himself to a normal child who grew up in a blessed family, the extent of his loss and pain is lessened. If we look at it that way, it becomes acceptable.”
Correct, if there was no comparison to be made, then anything could become acceptable.
For example, right now, Tang Feng could sleep just as contently if he were spending the night alone. However, if someone were to give him a caring call, if someone were to give him a romantic massage, of course that would present as the better choice to most people.
He disliked making comparisons; it only became too easy to indulge afterwards.
He didn’t want to admit that he was alone most of the time. Although he didn’t see anything wrong with being alone, too many people worried over whether he was unhappy or uncomfortable. It was as if they expected that he should feel unhappy and uncomfortable with them.
To make another example, whenever a child falls down while playing, most of the time, he would learn to stand up by himself and continue playing with the other kids. However, if every adult around ran up to him and indulged him with concern, he would most certainly start crying.
“Charles.” While the man’s hands were gently massaging his neck, Tang Feng reached around and grabbed his hand.
“Don’t call me like that. I’ve already promised you that I won’t try anything today. Are you trying to make me run out onto the streets like a madman during the middle of the night? I’ll definitely become tomorrow’s front page headline.” Despite giving out excuses, Charles bent down and lightly kissed the back of Tang Feng’s neck.
“I think… I think I’ll need someone to warm the bed tonight.” Tang Feng flipped around, pulling Charles down to him, their lips quickly meeting together in a kiss.
Having already slept together previously, it wasn’t too hard for them to fall back into the old routine. Tang Feng only wanted to experience some tenderness and work up a sweat without any restraints binding him back tonight. He would be sleeping until noon tomorrow.
Keeping his distance from Charles? Treating the man with indifference?
At that moment, Tang Feng couldn’t remember to do any of those things. A playboy like Charles couldn’t possibly chase after him for his entire life. However, if Charles was willing to do that, then it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Ah, that was right. Charles was rather good at giving massages.
If asked, Charles would swear that this was the first time he had spent so much effort trying to please a man. It was his first time decorating a room, especially buying an expensive bottle of champagne, and even voluntarily offering to give someone a massage. Not to mention, the cautious, gentle, and testing measures he took in bed almost never occurred in the past.
Of course, that also included pleasing a man by using his mouth.
But in the end, he did all those things, and he did them by following his instincts.
For a millionaire like him who didn’t lack anything, being served upon by others had always been the standard protocol. However, after attending to someone else, Charles found that the reverse wasn’t too bad after all. Whenever he saw Tang Feng’s face light up with shock, surprise, or even satisfaction, his heart would thump wildly as if someone had directly injected him with a stimulant. He would say that it was much more satisfying than actual ejaculation.
Getting together with Tang Feng again after several months was such a satiating feeling. Or rather, it would be more accurate to describe it as exhilarating; it was even better than their first time together.
Bored? Like hell he was bored of Tang Feng!
After a hot, steamy workout, Tang Feng was already deep asleep. The actor breathed evenly, half-nestled inside Charles’ arms.
As for Charles himself, he had been staring unblinkingly at the sleeping actor for the past half hour. He had finally reached a verdict after half an hour of thinking and close observation.
Very good. He finally obtained an answer to the question that had been bothering him for months. If that was his answer, then he would follow down that path in his own way.
The fragrant candles had burned out during the night, their lights swallowed by the water and only leaving behind trails of smoke as evidences of their existence. The bright sunlight fought against the heavy drapes to pierce into the room, ultimately losing the fight and rendering into a weak trace of itself when it finally landed on the bedsheets.
The bed was a mess. When Charles woke up, Tang Feng was nowhere to be found. He rubbed his forehead, and quickly heard the sounds of running water coming from the bathroom.
Charles picked up the phone and ordered some takeout. After the intensive workout from last night, both of them needed to eat something to replenish their energy. Fortunately, he remembered what Tang Feng liked to eat for breakfast.
Not ten minutes after making the call, knocking came on the door. Charles was amazed at the delivery boy’s superhuman speed. He put on a random pair of pants and walked bare-chested toward the door, his skin still decorated with Tang Feng’s teeth marks.
“Hey! Lu Tian Chen! And here I thought it was my takeout.” Charles brightened after he opened the door and spread his arms in a greeting toward the somewhat startled man standing outside. “Are you looking for Tang Feng? He’s in the bathroom right now. Should I go call him?”
“No.” Lu Tian Chen glanced around the room. It was a chaos inside. Clothes covered every available surface on the floor, while unfinished glasses of champagne and candle stubs littered the tables.
Also, the thick smell of sexual desire still lingered in the air.
“Is there something important? I can take a message for him.”
“Tell him to rest for these two days and to prepare for the training class’ final exam.”
“No problem. I will take good care of him,” Charles answered, and then closed the door with a solid click.
Gazing at the closed door, Lu Tian Chen took a deep breath. For some reason, he suddenly felt a weight on his chest.
“Who was that earlier?” Tang Feng walked out of the bathroom while rubbing his hair with a towel. He had already changed into clean clothes and appeared fresh and relaxed. Overall, he seemed to be in a pretty good mood.
Charles smirked in response. “Just a delivery boy.”
Next: Chapter 126: The End of True Star Training Class (1)
Previous: Chapter 124: The Truth (2)
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Proofreaders: Evie, Rose