S City's airport was teeming with people that afternoon. Ah Che stood outside the arrival hall, glancing around in search for someone.
From afar, a young woman in her teens, one dressed in a bohemian style dress, was heading over. Her appearance had instantly captivated everyone in her vicinity. Although she was just a young girl, allure flowed out from those huge eyes of hers like silk.
Upon a closer look, however, her eyes seemed pure and innocent. She was like small edelweiss, lovable and utterly winsome. That face was an amalgamation of things that are outright polar opposites of each other: sexual allure and chastity, angelic features and a devilish figure. It was like all those things were gathered and assembled into a single human form.
Ah Che merely glanced at the girl briefly before his eyes moved past her to keep searching for the person he was intending to pick up. Until that teenage girl stopped right in front of him.
Ah Che's eyes went wide. "Little... Little Miss?"
"Mmhm!" The teenage girl nodded. "Let's get into the car first. This isn't a good place to talk."
As he drove, Ah Che kept glancing at the girl in the backseat through the rear-view mirror. For the life of him, Ah Che could not comprehend how the little miss' appearance could have changed so much in just the two years he had not seen her. Did she get a plastic surgery? But her original appearance was no worse than her current look, that was for sure!
"Oh, stop staring already." Ah Sha clawed at her face; a facial mask fell away, revealing another face which was a size smaller than the previous one. Unlike the previous face, this one had small, delicate and cute features. She now looked just like a doll!
Ah Che pressed a hand to his chest. "You nearly scared me to death. What on earth are you up to?"
"You know why I've decided to come back ahead of schedule, right? I don't want people to find out my true identity," Ah Sha said, putting the facial mask back on. "This is from my mother-in-law's most precious collection!"
"Xunxun doesn't know you're back, does he?" Ah Che shuddered at his own mention of that name. Why did she come back so early? The plan was for her to take classes overseas for six years, was it not? Now she had graduated from school in just three years. What on earth was going on here?
Ah Sha's lips curved into a smile when she heard Ah Che mentioning Xunxun's name. "Of course he doesn't. Drive me straight to the event!" The teen girl turned her head to look out of the car window. A sly expression formed on her face. "I wonder if Brother Xunxun would be able to recognize me..."
Stars Entertainment was a company that was established just last year. Nevertheless, it was far from being some nameless, run-of-the-mill company; Stars Entertainment was currently the most influential entertainment firm in the United States. Nobody had expected it to suddenly establish a subsidiary company within China.
Today, Stars Entertainment was auditioning actresses to star in one of its movies as the female lead; Stars Entertainment would release a blockbuster film every year. No prior acting experience or any other qualifications were required for the audition. One could register for the audition even if one was not part of any talent agency. As long as you could go through its selection process, Stars Entertainment would pave the way to your celebrity life!
"Are all of you ready? Please queue up in the order as indicated by your assigned numbers." A bespectacled man led the girls into a meeting room. Ah Sha was the last person in line since she had arrived late.
Three men sat at a table in front. One of them was the director of this movie, Lin Dong.
"Alright, let's begin," said an obese man who sat on the left side on the table. "All of you must perform a scene ad-lib, without any scripts or preparations." The man's eyes swept across an entire row of female bodies just as his face revealed a malicious smile.
It was not until the sixth's girl had begun her performance that Ah Sha recognized her as someone Ah Sha knew very well. Soon, it was Ah Sha's turn to perform. She acted out a scene featuring a girl trying to catch a butterfly. Her eyes, alert and active, darted around the room as if following the butterfly's flight path in the air.
Once all participants had performed, they were asked to wait outside the room. Half an hour later, Ah Sha and two other girls were summoned back into the meeting room. Ah Sha stared at the girl in front of her. Then she lowered her head and smiled. "I was right. You've made it through the selections as well!"
"Tang Yue, Tian Yiyi and Mei Jing. The three of you are the final winners. Please be at the company tomorrow morning at eight o'clock. We'll assign you to your roles then." After the obese man made the announcement, he pointed at Tian Yiyi. "You stay back. The other two can leave."
After she exited Stars Entertainment's building, Ah Sha waited in front of the building's main entrance for Ah Che to bring the car around. That was when Ah Sha saw Tang Yue standing beside a Lincoln MKZ sedan. She seemed to be waiting for someone.
Ah Sha stared at the girl who was standing not too far away from where she stood. Tang Yue was still the same as she was back when they were both students at Caesar Academy. The girl was always wearing a smile no matter where she was. Her presence always brought joy and pleasure to everyone around her.
Her long tresses fell past her shoulders and ended at hip level. Her complexion was fair and lustrous. Despite being in possession of gorgeous and eye-catching facial features, she did not seem flamboyant at all, though that was solely due to that look in her eyes. There was this calm look in her eyes; a look of indifference, like she was above and beyond any worldly concerns. That tiny aspect of her appearance softened up her comportment, giving her an air of sophistication and regality which was unique to her.
A group of people emerged from the main building of Stars Entertainment. At the center of the group, surrounded by everyone else, stood a man with a tall build. The smile on Tang Yue's face widened as she stared at the man without once taking her eyes off of him. The man's assistant opened the door for him. However, the man climbed straight into the car without saying a single word of greeting to Tang Yue. Tang Yue did not seem to mind at all and quickly got into the car as well.
As the car drove away, the smile on Ah Sha's lips widened into a grin. Then, Ah Che appeared seemingly out of thin air.
"Little Miss, you saw that, right? That brat is sharing a car with another woman!"
Ah Sha burst into laughter. "Mmhm, I saw it. Come on, then. Let's go home!"
Three years ago, Ying Qingcang brought Xin Qing and Chengcheng away from Ying's residence. They had been staying on an island overseas and had only returned last month. One of the reasons for their return was because Chengcheng had reached the age where he could attend kindergarten. The other reason was that Zhang Mi had gotten pregnant and Young Master Shen outright refused to allow his woman to keep busting her chops at Xin Enterprises.
In the living room of Ying's residence, Xin Qing was sitting on top of Ying Qingcang's lap, staring anxiously at the door.
"Why isn't she here yet? She's already arrived in the city at noon, right?"
Ying Qingcang caressed Xin Qing's back. "Don't worry; Ah Che has already left to pick her up. She'll be fine," Ying Qingcang comforted. "Besides, Ah Sha is no longer a child. She's a 16-year-old big girl now!"
"You didn't tell Xunxun about Ah Sha's return, did you?"
"Of course I didn't," Ying Qingcang said with a straight face. "My daughter forbade me from telling him."
Xin Qing chuckled. "And you're just secretly encouraging her, right?"
There was too much truth in that saying about daughters being closer to their fathers. The older Ah Sha became, the closer she was to Ying Qingcang. At this rate, those two boys, Wangwang and Chengcheng, could forget about ever hearing a single word of praise from Ying Qingcang about them. Not only that, but they had even frequently been blamed by Ying Qingcang for "taking up too much of your mother's time".
A clear voice sounded from outside before the door even opened. "Mommy! Daddy!" The door burst opened. Ah Sha charged in and threw herself into Xin Qing's arm. "Mommy, I'm home!"
Overjoyed, Xin Qin stroked Ah Sha's hair. Then, Xin Qing frowned at her daughter. "Please remove that mask when you're home. It pains me to see it."
When Ah Sha had shown up on the island to visit them during Chinese New Year, she had worn that mask as well. Xin Qing had nearly jumped out of her own skin when she saw Ah Sha back then; Xin Qing thought Ah Sha had undergone a plastic surgery.
"I didn't see that brat with you," Ying Qingcang remarked as he watched Ah Sha remove her mask. "From the looks of it, I'm guessing he still doesn't know you're back."
Ah Sha pouted and threw herself into his arms. "How did you figure, daddy!"
"Do you think you even have the chance to come home on your own if he knows that you're back? I assure you he would've kidnapped you ages ago," Ying Qingcang grumbled. "You really auditioned at his company?"
"Yep!" Ah Sha took a sip of water. "I've already passed the preliminary selections. The tryout is tomorrow."
Xin Qing gave her a worried look. "It's totally fine to star in a couple of commercials. But why do you have to star in a movie? The showbiz is such a messy place to be in."
"You have to trust me!" Ah Sha nuzzled against Xin Qing. "Plus, I'm the daughter of Xin Enterprises. Nobody would dare mess with me, right?"
"You'll be another person the moment you put on this mask," Ying Qingcang reminded. There was a brief pause before he continued, "Don't forget what we've discussed before. That brat has to figure out your identity on his own. You can't clue him in deliberately."
"Yes, sir!" Ah Sha nodded vigorously. "I promise I won't say anything."
Rendered speechless, Xin Qing stared at the man behind her. "Then Xunxun will start annoying you again once he finds out."
"Since when had that d*mn*d brat stopped trying to annoy me?" Ying Qingcang grumbled angrily. "What a poisonous mouth he has. Other than Ah Sha, it's like everyone else in this world owes him money or something."
Ah Sha burst into endless chuckles. "Oh, come on. Brother Xunxun was just trying to make you happy!"
"Fine, fine. That's enough for now. Time to eat!" Xin Qing shifted in Ying Qingcang's lap. Ying Qingcang quickly picked her up and carried her into the dining hall.
"I told you it'd be a good idea to get a wheelchair, and yet you insisted against it," Xin Qing said.
Ying Qingcang kissed her on the lips. "I told you I would carry you for the rest of my life. And trust me, I'm so much more helpful than a wheelchair!"
Ah Sha filled up bowls of rice for her parents. After that, she turned to Ying Qingcang. "Daddy, you still have to be at the company. Without a wheelchair, it will indeed be difficult for mommy if she's home alone."
"Don't worry. I have a plan," Ying Qingcang said, placing food on Xin Qing's plate. "You'll find out tomorrow!"
Watching her parents smile at each other, Ah Sha felt a swell of emotion in her heart. It had already been three years. Since Xin Qing woke up, Chen Huan had created and administered several drugs to her. Chieftain Mo Lin had performed numerous acupuncture treatments on her as well. Still, Xin Qing was unable to stand up.
One time, Ah Sha had overheard Jiang Qianren mentioning about the military's dealings with a special drug that could make a paralyzed patient stand back up again. Too bad the military could no longer track down the exact chemical formula for the drug. Nor did they know where to buy or find the drug.
Ah Sha sniffed and made a vow inwardly. "I will find a way to help mommy stand up again!"
The next day, she arrived at Stars Entertainment on time for the tryouts. When she arrived, only Tian Yiyi was waiting at the front door. Tian Yiyi looked very pale, as if she had not had a good rest the previous night. Tian Yiyi even glared at Ah Sha when she saw her.
Ah Sha just ignored her. She was just another stranger anyway.
Tang Yue was the last one to arrive. Once the three of them were present, a staff member brought them into an office with exquisite interior design. Other than the director Lin Dong and that obese man from yesterday, there was another man inside the office. He was a very handsome man with an exceptional comportment.
Ah Sha recognized the man as hotshot actor, Su Qinghe, who was also the movie's male lead.
After that, the girls were each given a piece of paper with their respective tasks written on it.
Ah Sha had no idea what kind of task Tian Yiyi had been assigned to, but her performance was awful. Su Qinghe was practically frowning throughout the entire scene. Tang Yue's performance, on the other hand, was interesting. She had played the role of a man's first wife who was about to be abandoned by the man.
Tang Yue cried with just the right amount of emotion to tug at everyone's heartstrings. Su Qinghe was obviously very satisfied with Tang Yue's performance. Near the end of the scene, his character was so deeply moved by the emotional display that he changed his mind about abandoning his wife.
Then, it was Ah Sha's turn. Her task was to play the wife of a man who was dying due to a terminal illness. The scene featured a deathbed conversation between the man and his wife. The man told his wife that he had another child outside of their marriage and begged her to bring the child back considering that he was about to die.
"Hah! So you're finally willing to admit it!" Ah Sha stared at Su Qinghe. "You should stop deluding yourself. I had already sent the child away yesterday. You think I'll let you off the hook just because you're dead?"
The sheer coldness in Ah Sha's eyes made it seemed as if she had become a completely different person. Lin Dong's eyes brightened instantly as he scrutinized Ah Sha's facial expression.
"So, you still don't know, huh? Well, let me make it clear, then. That dead lover of yours? I was the one who ran her over. Hahahaha! You really expect me to allow a bastard child into my home? Give me a break! Hahahaha!"
"You..." Dumbstruck, the man could only hold his chest.
The director stopped the scene suddenly.
"That's enough. Not bad at all!" The director looked at Ah Sha with an obvious smile in his eyes.
Su Qinghe stood up and extended his hand to Ah Sha. "I couldn't believe you chose to handle the scene that way. I really thought you would go with the good mother direction."
"Just a personal preference." Ah Sha shook his hand. "I hate betrayals."
In that moment, the teenage girl's temperament was just like a queen's, which was a fact that Lin Dong was very happy with. Right before his eyes was a superstar in the making, a born actress!
In the break-room, Tian Yiyi approached Ah Sha with a glum and downcast look in her eyes.
"You think you'll make it just because you have performed well?" Tian Yiyi said. "Let me tell you something. We've both been played. They've already given Tang Yue the lead role."