"Jiaojiao, this is K, he’s the videographer that will be following you on-site." The director pointed towards the videographer.
Sheng Jiaoyang turned and nodded to K. "Please take good care of me!"
"Alright, go on in to get familiar with the others."
As soon as Sheng Jiaoyang entered the room, she saw a few couch potatoes. The three sofas were already occupied by three people. There was a man straddling the chair while hugging the seat rest, and a man sitting on the carpet slumped against a sofa. They didn't uphold any image at all.
"Oh, a newcomer." The man who was laying wasted on the floor stood up, not hiding the excitement on his face.
"Who is it?" Those who were lying on the sofa sat up as well.
"Hello, everyone. I am Xu Jiaojiao." Sheng Jiaoyang dragged a large suitcase into the living room.
"Ahem, Big Hui, tell the newcomer about our rules here," the woman occupying the largest sofa cleared her throat.
The rest were staring at Sheng Jiaoyang, their eyes shining brightly like a desperate wolf that had been starved for a long while.
There are rules here? Sheng Jiaoyang raised her eyebrows slightly.
The man sitting on the carpet licked his lips. In order to look more imposing, he purposely stood up before he said, "Every newcomer has to buy us a meal."
"A meal? No problem." Sheng Jiaoyang agreed readily.
Everyone's faces lit up.
"Where do I sleep tonight?"
"I'll show you to your room." One of the guys offered to help her carry her luggage.
"Hey, lass. Are you a replacement or a host?"
Sheng Jiaoyang had reached the corner of the stairs when she heard the voice of the older woman who had spoken at the start. She turned and replied, "Replacement."
The few people in the living room were startled.
"Oh my God, she's actually a replacement."
"Now I don’t have the heart for her to buy us a meal. Zhou Quan has less survival gold than any of us. Even if she wants to buy us a meal, I doubt she can afford it."
"How strange. Why did she choose to be a replacement? There is no benefit at all. The survival gold she gets is still what the previous person had left."
"We’ll probably be holding both the welcome party and the farewell party tomorrow." The few people spoke one after another, their faces full of sympathy.
Meanwhile, another conversation happened upstairs.
"How should I address you?" Sheng Jiaoyang asked the man who helped her with her luggage.
"I'm Rong Hui, I am older than you."
The emphasis Rong Hui placed on the word “older” caused Sheng Jiaoyang to smile. "Then Brother Hui, please take care of me."
Rong Hui suddenly felt a sense of responsibility. Previously, he was the youngest in the group and was always teased by the others. Finally, someone younger than him had arrived and she was likeable too. He immediately patted his chest and said, "Don't worry, this big brother will be your shield for what comes next!"
"You guys look extremely tired. Did you do something physically demanding today?"
"You have no idea how sadistic the missions are. The director is savage. We tour almost half of Sydney today. We set out at dawn and didn't return until an hour ago. You said you are a replacement. Did the director trick you? Replacements are pitiful, especially for your case since you are covering Senior Quan. Tch Tch… He doesn't have enough survival gold left to even get a bite of food."
The pair reached Sheng Jiaoyang's room; it was a small room just big enough for one bed. Rong Hui placed the luggage against the wall and looked at Sheng Jiaoyang sympathetically, "It's okay. Just following this big brother tomorrow. Worst comes to worst, when I eat meat, you can drink the soup."
Sheng Jiaoyang smiled, "Sure."
Looking at her clean face, with a trusting smile (This has to be examined), Rong Hui's internal protective desires were bursting through the rooftops. That night, his monologue in the little dark room went like this:
"First was her height. I was shocked when those long legs came into my sight. Next, her good looks caught my attention. She has the type of disposition that when you see her, you will go, 'ah, here comes my princess.' Her personality is also quite outgoing as well." This was his answer when the director asked about his first impression of Xu Jiaojiao.
"And how far do you think she can go?" the director asked.
Rong Hui didn't even think before he replied, "If she doesn't ask for our help, she won't be able to pull through tomorrow."
"But seeing how rare it is for someone to call me brother, I will help her a little, at least so that she can last till the next stop."
Yet, reality dealt him a harsh blow.
During the interview in the little dark room the following night, he replied with a blank face when the director asked him about his thoughts on Xu Jiaojiao.
"My face hurts!" "He said sadly.
He looked at the camera with a wailing face and asked the director, "Director, are you sure you invited her here to play games, and not to toy with us?"
"Do we have to watch her eat meat while we stand by and drink the northwest wind ourselves? Director, doesn’t your conscience hurt?" He then started complaining as he spoke.
The director replied with an indifferent look, "I don't mind if you ride on her coattails."
"… My face hurts!" Yesterday he even swore to be the shield for her but only to find out today that he was the one being shielded. What a slap to his own face.
What happened was in order to reach the next stop, one must have the travelling expenses. However, the production team would not give them travelling expenses without any returns. They either had to get the reward by completing missions or find their own way to earn the money reasonably through labour. The missions set out by the production team were no easy feats; like yesterday, they went to do the missions. Despite being extremely exhausted in the end, there was no guarantee that the mission would be a success."
This morning, the group divided and went on two separate routes. Three of them felt that it was more assuring to do the mission and went ahead to do it. The other three, including Sheng Jiaoyang, decided to go on the streets and think of ways to make money.
Rong Hui brought along his guitar and wanted to busk at the lively square. He even boasted and told Sheng Jiaoyang and another female celebrity, Zhuzhu, to cheer on him by the side. He will then divide the received tips into three portions, each of them getting one-third of the tips. In the end, they were chased away as soon as they started busking. The street performer on the scene harped on the saying "first come, first serve." Since he was here first, there couldn't be another busker or it would be a snatch of business. Rong Hui and the two ladies were celebrities and wouldn't get into an argument with someone else to earn money, so they could only leave.
There were not many people in the other areas and even fewer who stopped to listen to him busking. The tips were so little that they couldn't even afford a bottle of water.
"If I knew this was going to happen, I would have gone to do the mission with Sister Yufen and the rest," Zhuzhu grumbled.
Rong Hui was embarrassed and spoke, "You girls try and see if there are any ways to earn money. I will find another area and try again. We’ll use the phone to keep in touch."
Zhuzhu looked at Rong Hui with bitterness in her eyes and sighed, "What other choice do we have? See you later."
Sheng Jiaoyang left with K, the videographer assigned to follow her.
Approaching noon, Rong Hui looked at his hard-earned money. He didn’t even have enough to afford a hamburger. He sighed deeply and spoke affectionately to the camera, "Money sure doesn't come easy. I must work even harder in the future so that I will not end up in the state I am in today. Yesterday, I told Xu Jiaojiao that I'll be her shield. She is new here and doesn't have much money on her. I think I have to use my survival gold now. Gosh, why am I offering to take care of others when I can't even take care of myself?"
When he called and asked for their location, he found out that Xu Jiaojiao was painting the wall of a shop that was undergoing renovations. Oh, no, she was drawing on the wall.
The way she moved her hands and feet was more like random strokes of paint than deliberate creativity. Two of the three walls have been painted, and only one-third of the third wall was uncompleted. At her speed, she should be done soon.
The environment of the whole store changed because of the drawings on the walls. Looking into the shop from the glass windows from the outside, one would be immediately drawn to the walls.
The lady boss who stood beside marvelled repeatedly and was taking shots from different angles with her mobile phone. When the walls were all painted, she excitedly went up and hugged Sheng Jiaoyang, even complimenting her with many praises.
"What are we doing here?" Zhuzhu had also hurried over.
Rong Hui pointed towards the shop's interior. Just then, the lady boss took out her wallet and took out a wad of cash.
"Woah, so much money…" Zhuzhu's eyes were fastened on the cash. The wad of money in small and large denominations was at least a thousand.
Rong Hui's feelings were complex. He sang for half a day but couldn't even earn enough to afford a fast food meal. Yet, this girl received so much money just by drawing a few drawings. Of course, he could not deny that the pictures on the wall were really nice.
"That's too much." Taking the money, Sheng Jiaoyang knew the lady boss had given her too much.
"Your art is worth even more, but I have limited cash on me," the lady boss replied sincerely.
"Thanks!" Sheng Jiaoyang didn't refuse her any further and accepted the money.
"I have another request. Can I invite you to my house to paint on the walls of my future baby's room? I really like your drawing style," the lady boss said.
Sheng Jiaoyang hesitated and explained to the lady boss her current predicament. She told the lady boss that she was participating in a reality show. Her schedule wasn't very flexible and she would most probably only be here for a day.
The lady boss then promptly invited Sheng Jiaoyang to her house instantly. Knowing that Rong Hui and Zhuzhu were with her, the lady boss invited them as well and prepared a sumptuous lunch.
Rong Hui and Zhuzhu almost cried when they saw the sumptuous lunch.
"This wasn’t easy. I haven’t had a full meal for half a month. I can finally eat my fill today." Rong Hui sighed as he ate.
Zhuzhu concurred and nodded her head. She touched her pointy chin and spoke, "I have lost so much weight recently that my fans even thought that I went for plastic surgery."
After completing her painting in the afternoon, the lady boss stuffed another wad of cash to Sheng Jiaoyang and even packed some snacks for them to bring back.
Recalling the events of today, Rong Hui had to admit that the director's suggestion was right. At least, there was no need to worry about going hungry if he were to ride on Xu Jiaojiao's golden coattails. He looked at the director and declared, "You are right, I must cherish the golden coattails being placed in front of me, lest I regret in the future."
The director went speechless.
Rong Hui flipped his hair and said to the camera, "My halos, I am not sponging off a woman. A great man knows how to ride the tide of his times, please call me a great man in the future." Halo was the name for his fans.
"…Alright, you may leave." The director couldn't listen to him any further and sent him straight out of the little dark room.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
TL: Cosy | Editor: Purpledragon | TLC: Grace
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