“In the next 7 days, the city will encounter rarely seen cold air, a large-scale blizzard, severely low temperatures, and other extreme weather signs. Temperatures can fall to 5 degrees Fahrenheit in mountainous areas. Please take the necessary safety precautions and follow the regular weather and safety reports released by the weather station.”
The weather station released a warning beforehand. Most of those shooting outdoor scenes in the mountainous areas were forced to make adjustments. It was decided that the shooting for Treading on a Courtyard of Orchids would be sped up throughout the night before the snowstorm arrived. When the extreme weather arrived, there would be an immediate five-day break to avoid the hidden dangers of the frozen blizzard.
Li Shaoyao was naturally the first to get the notice about how the production crew was going to have a break. In fact, they needed his approval to have the break.
At this time, two months had already passed since Ji Zhinong entered the cast for the shooting. Ji Rugui’s two fractured arms also recovered well in the past sixty days.
He recovered, so Zhinong was in danger.
Li Shaoyao thought of this earlier than anyone. Thus, on the day the production crew had the break, he changed his route. Originally he should’ve gone home to eat a meal with his parents, but he had the chauffeur drive directly to Movie City.
Li Shaoyao only waited half an hour and heard a familiar laugh outside. He turned to look. Zhinong was wrapped in a down jacket, talking and laughing with the colleague he was walking with, and even bouncing as he stepped on the crushed snow. The scarf with a little bear wrapped around his neck moved up and down along with him. This was even a gift from a fan that day.
When they got close, Yang Yi pointed at the Ferrari across from them, smiling, signaling his car was there.
Li Shaoyao gave the computer in his hands to Chen Qing, who was in the front passenger seat, and unconsciously tidied his tie. The car door opened from the outside at this time. Ji Zhinong got into the warm backseat, bringing the cold air from outside and nearly plunging into Li Shaoyao’s embrace. He was in a good mood, so he smiled as he asked, “What plans do you have for me for the five days of break?”
This sentence could be very easily twisted the wrong way. Chen Qing in the front passenger seat thought that Mr. Ji seemed to be taking pleasure in the matter of him being kept.
To his knowledge, Ji Zhinong was at the very least the third young master of the Ji Corporation. Shouldn’t he resist, feel it was shameful, or directly act as if he wouldn’t submit even to death being held in the palm of CEO Li’s hand as a canary?
Chen Qing had followed Li Shaoyao as his assistant since his graduation. This was the first time Li Shaoyao kept a little celebrity. It was naturally the first time for him as an assistant to encounter this type of thing, and so he didn’t have any sample to compare it to.
Could it be that being kept was really something to be so happy about?
Li Shaoyao didn’t answer Zhinong’s question, instead unwrapping his wet scarf for him first. That scarf was sown with a bit of snow on it. When the snow came into the car, it was melted into water by the warm air.
“Be careful not to get a cold.”
He gathered that scarf into his hands, folded it patiently, put it into the storage box at one side, and took off the one he was wearing on his neck, turning to wrap it around Zhinong.
The personal scarf he wore carried a gentle and refreshing slight aroma of spice. Zhinong couldn’t resist smelling it closely. Because he really liked it, he rubbed against Li Shaoyao’s body and unintentionally touched the other’s warm and hot palm, so he just shoved his slightly chilly hands under his hands. “How about helping me warm it up, boss?”
Li Shaoyao would grant him every request and covered his hands tightly, willingly being his manual handwarmer.
“Stay with me tonight. You don’t need to hurry to go back to the Ji family.”
“I’ll listen to you.”
The car then drove towards the city district.
Slight snow began falling from the sky. When they got on the highway, Zhinong’s phone rang.
Ji Qingshan hoped that he could go to the old mansion to eat dinner tonight.
Li Shaoyao naturally respected the old man’s desires. He had the chauffeur change routes and go to the old Ji family mansion.
Ji Zhinong bounced off his shoulder. “You’re not thinking of coming home with me, right?”
“The old man once gave me guidance, so he counts as my teacher. What’s wrong with me going to meet my master?”
“But you’re going with me. What if he asks about our relationship?”
Li Shaoyao raised their two hands, all ten fingers intertwined, saying naturally, “In love.”
“…” Ji Zhinong sat up straight. “Don’t forget we just have a contractual relationship.”
“You don’t need to remind me.” Li Shaoyao still tightly held his hand, saying quietly, “I’m not in love with you.”
Ji Zhinong suddenly realized that he was probably in love with that shadow in himself.
So he had been overthinking it.
He thought that Li Shaoyao’s mind was muddled, but in reality, he was clear from start to end. He clearly saw the shadow of his beloved through Ji Zhinong’s skin and clearly treated that shadow well, in love with that shadow.
It had nothing to do with the pure Ji Zhinong.
Wen Che didn’t realize at the time that the Ji Zhinong whose body held his soul wasn’t pure any longer.
The two didn’t talk more on the way.
The old mansion Ji Qingshan lived in was a Chinese-style courtyard. When they arrived, it was already evening, half of the sky darkened. On the stone path outside of the courtyard, a light shone every 5 meters. Li Shaoyao held Ji Zhinong’s hand along this path.
Li Wei waited by the door and was initially just surprised upon seeing that the third young master brought a friend, but when he saw the person was Li Shaoyao, the surprise on his face became the joy of welcoming an important guest.
Li Wei led the two into the yard. This was Wen Che’s first time coming to the old Ji family mansion as Ji Zhinong after his rebirth.
Sparse plum trees covered the fake mountain inside the yard. During the snowstorm, flowers bloomed only on this side of the courtyard. He lingered in the moment, asking subconsciously, “Grandpa likes plum blossoms?”
Li Wei and Li Shaoyao were both dumbfounded.
In the entire Ji family, everyone knew that Ji Qingshan planted these plum blossoms for his beloved wife. Even an outsider like Li Shaoyao was clear on the reasons behind it.
Ji Zhinong also had been notified by his family members two years ago and had also come here more than once.
Li Wei remembered what Ji Ruzhang said and just thought the third young master had forgotten, saying, “Your grandpa planted these for your passed away grandmother. The Old Master was unwilling to move for these very plum blossoms.”
“So that’s the reason.”
It was as if Ji Zhinong heard a new and romantic story. This made Li Shaoyao feel it was strange——it was as if it were his first time learning about his grandparents’ relationship.
Until they entered the house, Ji Zhinong sized up everything in the courtyard with a curious expression, completely like it was his first time here.
In the living room, Ji Qingshan, who had a headful of white hair, was already sitting in front of the table. Even though his face was covered in wrinkles, fortunately, he wasn’t skinny and looked like a plump, preserved plum from afar.
It was only when he saw Zhinong come in that he gestured for the dishes to be served.
Ji Zhinong took the initiative to walk to his grandfather’s side and bow slightly, holding the old man’s calloused hands. “Grandpa, I came.”
This was the only person willing to favor Ji Zhinong in the Ji family.
Ji Qingshan rubbed the hair whorl1a patch of hair growing in a circular direction around a visible center point on his biological grandson’s head, chuckling, “You gained some weight. Gaining weight is good. You’ll be strong and not get bullied by others so easily.”
“Grandpa, I brought a friend today.”
Li Shaoyao walked forward and greeted him. Ji Qingshan looked at him and then looked at Ji Zhinong, saying meaningfully, “Friend?”
With Ji Zhinong’s current level of connections and career, if it weren’t for the referral of an elder like Ji Qingshan, he could never become friends with someone at the top of the pyramid like Li Shaoyao.
The dishes were all served. The three sat at the table. It was rare for Zhinong to come, so Ji Qingshan had the cook butcher the old chicken that had been raised for three years to stew in order to nourish his well-behaved grandson who suffered from his childhood.
Thanks to Ji Zhinong, Li Shaoyao also tasted this pot of fresh stew.
While eating, Ji Qingshan asked about Zhinong’s current condition. Ji Qingshan was clear on the movements of all the Ji family members. Whether they were doing well or not, they all had informers pass on the message. Others were shrewd and clever, knowing to plan for themselves. Only Ji Zhinong was foolishly at the mercy of others. So Ji Qingshan had to personally see if he was doing well to be at ease.
The old man’s mind was only at ease seeing that he’d gained some weight and made an extraordinary friend today.
Zhinong originally thought his grandfather would more or less ask about that matter about Zhang Yunan a while ago, but the old man simply didn’t mention a word about the rest of the Ji family members. Naturally, Ji Yunan, the outsider, deserved even less to be mentioned.
Ji Qingshan was instead interested in how Zhinong and Li Shaoyao became friends. Li Shaoyao told the entire story about the previous audition.
Ji Qingshan: “It’s a film that successfully started shooting only after three years of preparation?”
Li Shaoyao: “Yes. Waited three years and got Zhinong. He’s the most fitting/suitable.”
Ji Qingshan: “…”
The old man fell silent. When dinner ended, Ji Qingshan called Li Shaoyao into the study alone.
“What intentions do you have towards Zhinong?” He asked straightforwardly, taking the stance of his teacher.
Li Shaoyao didn’t dare to hide anything from his master from the old days, saying straightforwardly as well, “I have the intention to marry him.”
“Marriage?!” This was completely out of Ji Qingshan’s expectations. “You know Zhinong’s situation in the Ji family. Would your father allow him to be with you? Besides, Zhinong’s marriage with the Qin family from before made a huge uproar. Aren’t you afraid of being criticized behind your back for getting together with him?”
Li Shaoyao: “What I should pay attention to was never how outsiders see it. I like Zhinong. I’ll wait until our relationship stabilizes a bit and officially marry him.”
Ji Qingshan felt that this was all too strange and couldn’t help asking, “What do you like around him?”
If Zhinong grew up in the Ji family from childhood, then the two could be considered a match.
But Zhinong was raised in the terrible environment of the Zhang family from childhood. Even if he’d been brought back to the Ji family now, his knowledge and characteristics weren’t comparable to those young masters and ladies who were truly raised and grew up in a rich family.
Li Shaoyao’s standards were famously high. Otherwise, how would he not even be engaged when he was almost thirty?
It wasn’t that he looked down on his biological grandson, but that someone like Li Shaoyao originally shouldn’t have taken a fancy to Zhinong.
And the two had only known each other for less than two months. That he actually already had the intentions of marriage was simply abnormal.
Li Shaoyao couldn’t answer, as expected. He couldn’t very well say that he liked Zhinong only because there was Wen Che’s shadow in him.
He could only answer without answering the question. “He’s the only one for me.”
“Only one for you?” Ji Qingshan asked, hitting the nail on its head, “Then what about Wen Che, who you went crazy over?”
The year Wen Che got into an accident and passed away, the outside world was all paying attention to his family members, his fiancé, his managing team for their reactions. No one knew that the young master of the Li family who was unrelated to Wen Che had previously gone crazy for three months upon seeing the obituary.
The Li family hid this matter well. Very few people knew about it.
Ji Qingshan was one of those people.
“The deceased has already passed.” Li Shaoyao said falsely, “Six years have passed. I got over it long ago.”
Ji Qingshan stared at his eyes, his old voice carrying a piercing force. “Is it because Zhinong is somewhat similar to Wen Che?”
Li Shaoyao raised his head immediately. “Teacher?!”
“It looks like that is the case.”
Just looking at his alarm from being exposed, Ji Qingshan understood everything.
“You treated Zhinong like someone else’s shadow. That’s why you would fall in love with him in such a short time. You want to marry him. You want to keep him by your side for a lifetime, and have him be a shadow!”
The old man got angrier as he talked. “You don’t love him, but you want to get comfort from him. What selfishness!”
Li Shaoyao was a little panicked. “I’ll treat him well. Teacher, I won’t be able to find someone like Zhinong again. Besides, Zhinong, he’s willing too. The situation of me supporting his career and him staying by my side can be maintained forever.”
This sentence infuriated the old man greatly. Li Shaoyao poured a glass of hot water and gave it to him, but the old man didn’t appreciate it.
“This child has a bitter fate. He was switched at birth when he was little and was delayed for twenty years. His life was almost destroyed by that family. He’s been living slightly better days after such difficulty, but he met you. I’m telling you, I don’t care how you each take what you need from the other. But there’s one thing, if you want to marry him in the future, I’ll never agree!”
- 1a patch of hair growing in a circular direction around a visible center point