“Director Cen, hello!”
“Xu Jiaojiao?” Cen Jin sized up the girl in front of him. His first impression of her was that she was tall, young, and neat.
Sheng Jiaoyang nodded. “Is Director Cen hungry? I know a good restaurant with private rooms if you’d like? It’s just a bit far.”
“It’s fine, I already ate on the plane.”
“Did you already call someone to pick you up?”
“Nope, my car’s parked in the parking lot. Where do you want to go? I’ll drive you.”
“Director Cen must be quite tired after flying, so why don’t you let me drive? I’ll drive you back and have your assistant pick up your car.”
Cen Jin nodded slightly at her thoughtfulness and didn’t reject her.
After boarding the car, Sheng Jiaoyang told the driver to go to the Jiao Family’s private restaurant.
“Director Cen, I really am sorry about last time. Something unexpected happened, so I couldn’t make our appointment,” Sheng Jiaoyang apologised again.
“Gu Zhou already told me, and I’m not an unreasonable person. Since it was unexpected, let’s forget about it.” Cen Jin waved.
“Of course, I know you aren’t that type of person, but I still wasted your time. A mistake is still a mistake, so let me apologise with lunch. Please don’t be polite.”
“Are you really a minor?” Cen Jin suddenly asked.
Sheng Jiaoyang wittily replied, “I don’t think I’m a minor.”
“You seem even more experienced than an adult going through all these motions. To be honest, I rejected you at the beginning because of your age. Although the character is young, I didn’t believe that it was a role a youth could master. However, seeing you today has changed my mind. Now I understand why Gu Zhou strongly recommended you to me,” Cen Jin said.
“I hope I won’t let down Gu Zhou’s expectations,” Sheng Jiaoyang replied smilingly.
Once they arrived at the restaurant, Sheng Jiaoyang asked Cen Jin about his likes and dislikes and ordered some good dishes that she’d tried before.
After Cen Jin started moving his chopsticks, he barely talked to Sheng Jiaoyang again. He had no time to speak. The entire time, he stared at the fragrant, colourful dishes on the table, his chopsticks flying as he chewed furiously. How could he possibly talk?
Finally, Cen Jin leaned back and cradled his belly, staring at the dishes as he slowly declared, “This place is great!”
“Director Cen can come eat here often in the future.”
Cen Jin looked at this young girl, who seemed very mature for her age, and said, “I’ll send you the script later. Study the role thoroughly, and we’ll begin filming next year.”
Sheng Jiaoyang frowned slightly and asked, “You won’t test my acting skills first?”
“I believe in Gu Zhou. He wouldn’t recommend someone bad to me.”
It was settled even easier than Sheng Jiaoyang had imagined, which she was definitely happy about. She also bought some of the restaurant's daily specialty cakes for Cen Jin to bring home.
“Alright, study the script first and give me your manager’s phone number when you get back. If something happens, I’ll tell my assistant to contact her.”
The two walked outside. Sheng Jiaoyang was just about to send Cen Jin off when she saw a headache inducing person standing by the doorway.
“Done eating?” Shen Zhining looked at her and Cen Jin.
Shen Zhining nodded. “Wait for me to finish.”
“I still need to send Director Cen back.”
“Have your driver send him.”
Cen Jin, who’d been ignored the entire time, took the initiative to say, “Little Jiao, just having your driver take me is good enough.”
Sheng Jiaoyang, who’d originally wanted to use sending Cen Jin off as an excuse to escape, was helpless and could only bid farewell to Cen Jin. “Then, I won’t see you out. I’ll call my driver to take you back home.”
After saying goodbye to Cen Jin, Sheng Jiaoyang went back inside the restaurant with Shen Zhining. Shen Zhining actually didn’t choose a heated private room, but rather, the top floor.
“Why’d you choose the top floor to eat?” Sheng Jiaoyang asked once they were seated, hunching her shoulders to protect her as she felt the cold air circulating around her.
“I want to hear you play the piano.”
Sheng Jiaoyang glanced at him strangely and immediately rejected, “I’m not a performer. It’s so cold, I don’t want to.”
“Don’t want to, huh…” Shen Zhining smiled slightly. “That’s fine, we can do something else.”
“Oh, it’s almost New Years, so I still need to practice. What kind of music do you want to hear?”
Sheng Jiaoyang looked as if something was chasing her as she hurriedly walked to the piano.
“Just play that piece you’re planning to perform.” Shen Zhining also walked over and stood beside her.
Under Shen Zhining’s stare, she tuned the piano and began to play her piece. She seemed completely focused the entire time, never turning around to glance at him.
After she was done, Shen Zhining only said two words, “No heart.”
“Can…you play?” Sheng Jiaoyang looked at Shen Zhining in astonishment.
“I can appreciate it as a connoisseur.” Shen Zhining declined to comment.
He looked at her, his voice calm as he said, “If you want to use this level of playing to fool others, it’s better to just not play.”
His words aroused Sheng Jiaoyang’s competitive spirit as she sighed and closed her eyes to adjust her psyche. She played the piece again with her full focus. When she finished, she looked at Shen Zhining expectantly, wanting to see him surprised. However, all she saw was the same flat expression.
“I feel like I’ve already put my heart into it,” Sheng Jiaoyang said confidently.
“Then, I can only say that you’re not suited for this.”
Sheng Jiaoyang was at the end of her patience as she retorted, “It’s your expectations that are too high! It’s just a New Year’s evening party at school, so my current level should be enough for that!”
Shen Zhining raised his brow slightly as he spoke levelly, “If you want to be more outstanding, you have to constantly improve. Don’t ever be satisfied with reaching the bare minimum.”
Sheng Jiaoyang also knew this very well, but her natural talent for this restricted her. Even if she tried harder, she couldn’t improve much more. “You think I’ll be humiliated if I play this on stage?”
“Not humiliated, but your specialty isn’t playing the piano. If you’re doing it solo, it won’t be enough to leave everybody stunned.”
Sheng Jiaoyang was a bit startled. In fact, she was also somebody who liked to pursue the peak. If she could reach perfection, she’d do it. Even though Shen Zhining was pointing out her faults without leaving her any respect, she wasn’t angry.
She pondered for a moment and developed a new plan in her mind.
Thud, thud, thud…
The noise of a person walking up the stairs was heard.
The food had arrived.
“Come and eat some more with me,” Shen Zhining said.
“I’m already full.” Sheng Jiaoyang shook her head.
Shen Zhining glanced at her and didn’t force her as he ate alone.
As Sheng Jiaoyang looked around, bored with nothing to do, her gaze unknowingly wandered to Shen Zhining and didn’t move away. The way he ate was elegant and strictly followed etiquette, something that hasn't changed from when he was a child. It was different from Lin Yan’s casual grace. Shen Zhining ate almost as if he was conducting an important scientific experiment, serious and solemn. Mealtime was likely when Shen Zhining was the most serious.
After leisurely finishing his meal and patting his lips, Shen Zhining looked over and met her gaze. He seemed happy as a smile appeared on his face. “Done studying me?”
“I-I wasn’t studying you!” Sheng Jiaoyang hurriedly moved her gaze away.
Shen Zhining laughed softly.
“If you’re done eating, let’s go. I’m going to freeze to death here.” Sheng Jiaoyang looked like a cat whose tail had been stepped on as she hurriedly stood up and walked downstairs.
Shen Zhining grabbed her hand as she walked by him, taking advantage of the moment to pull her into his embrace. “Warmer now?”
Sheng Jiaoyang’s face turned red again.
She angrily pushed Shen Zhining away and walked down the stairs.
Shen Zhining smiled as he slowly followed her.
When they got to his car, Sheng Jiaoyang deliberately sat far away from him. Of course, the car was only so big. Even if she sat farther away, it would still be within arm's length.
A small smile flashed through Shen Zhining’s eyes as he told the driver to depart.
“Where are we going?” Sheng Jiaoyang took the initiative to ask.
“Do you still remember the child from the car accident?”
“Oh yeah, how’s Xiao An now? Is his dad better?”
“His father died last week from an illness.”
Sheng Jiaoyang’s eyes widened as she thought about the child curled up at his father’s hospital bed and felt pained. She slowly breathed out before asking Shen Zhining, “Then, what’s Xiao An’s current situation?”
“He’s been sent to the welfare agency.”
“Why? Last time, didn’t his uncle say that he’d take care of him?”
Shen Zhining’s expression was cold. “He just wanted the money.”
Sheng Jiaoyang reacted to his words with a frown. “He wants to fight for Xiao An’s mother's indemnity? Don’t tell me he didn’t want to take care of Xiao An after he got the money?”
“Yeah.” Shen Zhining confirmed her guesses.
“Bastard!” Sheng Jiaoyang gnashed her teeth.
Shen Zhining reached out to grab her hand. “I already forced him to return the money he’d taken.”
Sheng Jiaoyang calmed down a little. “Are we going to see Xiao An now?”
Sheng Jiaoyang nodded, feeling guilty about letting Xiao An get tossed around from person to person. She looked at Shen Zhining, surprised that he’d followed up with Xiao An. In her mind, Shen Zhining wasn’t somebody who liked to meddle in other people’s business. If she didn’t run out of the car last time, Shen Zhining probably wouldn’t have even helped at the accident.
“What are you staring at me for?” Shen Zhining raised an eyebrow.
Sheng Jiaoyang blinked and immediately flattered him. “Zhining, you’re so handsome!”
A smile appeared in Shen Zhining’s eyes, but he pretended to act cold. “You sound like you’re lying.”
“What do you mean? I almost never lie!” Sheng Jiaoyang immediately retorted.
“Oh? Then, was everything you said before the truth?” Shen Zhining narrowed his eyes.
Sheng Jiaoyang gaped, feeling a bit disgraced as her eyes wandered. “What I said before was reflexive, I didn’t think. What I’m saying now is true from the heart, absolutely sincere.”
Shen Zhining nodded aloofly, showing that he accepted her explanation.
In the front, the driver felt like he was about to die from all the PDA.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
TL: Kiki | Editor: Purpledragon | TLC: Grace