Chapter 196 - Gone Midway

"Let's go eat hotpot!" Lina excitedly tugged Sheng Jiaoyang away.

Today was the last day of the year to dine outside. As many people were gathered with their friends for a meal, business at the hotpot restaurant was booming.

It was especially so for hotpot restaurants known for their delicious menu and great service. The restaurant guests were lined up and waiting to be seated.

"Hello, do you have a reservation?" the attendant at the door asked with a smile.

"No." Lina decided spontaneously, so why would they have made a reservation?

"I'm sorry. If you don't have a reservation, you’ll have to take a number and wait to be seated."

"Doesn't the restaurant have reserved rooms?" Lina asked the attendant after looking at the crowd.

The attendant was surprised as she looked at Lina, who was wearing a face mask, and answered, "The reserved rooms can only be used with the approval of our manager."

"Then, call your manager over."

"Erm?" The attendant glanced at the pair again, but still went to call the manager over. Since they know about the reserved rooms, they must be regulars.

"Mei Niu, why are you so familiar with how things go here?"

"Lin Yu brought us here for a meal previously."

The two were talking when the attendant came over with a woman in a suit.

"Hi ladies, how can I help you?" the woman asked with a polite smile.

"It's my friend's birthday and we want to eat hotpot. Doesn't the restaurant have reserved rooms? We want a room."

The smile on the manager's face remained as she explained, "Since you know that there are reserved rooms in our restaurant, then you must also be aware that only our gold members enjoy the privilege of using the rooms."

"The last time I came with Lin Yu, I didn't see you asking him for his member card. What are the requirements for being a member? I’ll apply for one now." Lina raised her chin slightly.

The manager smiled more warmly. "So, you ladies are friends of Young Master Lin! Please, follow me."

Those in line noticed they didn't seem to have made prior reservations, yet were brought in as soon as they spoke a few words to the manager. Someone grumbled, "This restaurant allows others to just jump the queue like that? Then, why are we still waiting here?"

The attendant at the front desk replied with a smile, "Those two guests placed a reservation with our manager directly, hence our manager came over and personally brought them in."

"What's your manager's number? We’ll make a reservation with her directly in the future too,” the customer said with a sneer.

"You can become a gold member by spending 1000 dollars in our restaurant in a single visit. Manager Liu will then receive you personally for your future visits."

The disgruntled guest went silent immediately. It's not possible to spend 1000 dollars in a single visit if there aren't many people, unless the group ordered many seafood items. But, how can those with a monthly salary in the thousands afford to dine in such a manner?

Upon reaching the private room and turning on the heater, the two bundled up ladies swiftly took off their heavy winter clothes.

"Eh?" Manager Liu was startled as she watched Sheng Jiaoyang, who was tidying her hair. "Are you Xu Jiaojiao?"

Sheng Jiaoyang pushed the frames of her glasses up slightly and flashed a smile at Manager Liu. "You can even recognise me with this disguise?"

"My daughter especially likes the character you played, Zhen Xin. Would you please sign an autograph for her?" Manager Liu asked with slight elation in her voice.

"Your daughter?" Sheng Jiaoyang was overjoyed. "You look so young, is your daughter even five yet?"

Imagine a little girl, less than five years old, sitting in front of the television and watching her drama series. That imagery made one feel like laughing.

"My daughter is twelve this year," Manager Liu replied.

"Woah, I didn't see that coming at all!" Sheng Jiaoyang and Lina were both surprised. Manager Liu looked like she wasn't even in her thirties yet. They didn't expect that her child was already so old.

"I got married early, sorry for making myself a laughingstock."

"How are you a laughingstock? That’s great. You’ll still be very young even after your child has grown up."

Manager Liu chuckled and promptly handed them the menu. "Have a look at what you want to eat. We have fresh prawns and crabs today, and our vegetables also just arrived from the farms this morning."

"Alright, we’ll take a look by ourselves first." Lina flipped through the menu.

Sheng Jiaoyang looked at Manager Liu. "Didn't you want my autograph? Where do you want me to sign it?"

"Please give me a second, I want to find a nicer notebook."

"Of course, as long as you return before I leave."

Manager Liu immediately expressed signs of gratitude on her face. Suddenly, she thought of another thing and asked cautiously, "It's your birthday today?"

Sheng Jiaoyang smiled and replied, "My birthday is tomorrow, but it's Lunar New Year's Eve tomorrow and I have to stay home to accompany my family. So, I came out earlier today to celebrate."

"I see."

After taking their orders, Manager Liu then left the room.

"You sure are famous now!" Lina lifted a hand and cupped Sheng Jiaoyang's chin.

"Not compared to you."

"That's not true. You're much more famous here than I am now. On the streets, everyone would definitely recognise you first. It's hard to say if they could recognise me," Lina said.

That was the difference between acting in a TV series and acting in a movie. There was still a difference for the audience. The popularity of a TV series would naturally drive the popularity of actors. From the leading actor to the supporting role, as long as it attracted the audience, the popularity of the playing actor or actress would increase too. However, the popularity of a movie wouldn’t drive its actors' and actresses' popularity as much, unless one was able to win a trophy or so and have the added prestige. Nowadays, the popularity of most commercial films was basically driven by the popularity of the cast. The main cast themselves had considerable popularity.

Currently, celebrities with a huge fan base were equivalent to economic effectiveness. This was why big production houses loved casting these celebrities as the leading characters, while those with the real skills, but without a huge fan base, were often reduced to supporting roles.

Lina was currently a movie star, on top of being a supermodel. She was certainly popular overseas, but was probably not well-known in the country. Those who knew of her were the ones who usually pay attention to the fashion industry. It was different for Sheng Jiaoyang. She’d starred in a TV series that became popular as soon as it was launched, and her performance in the drama was commendable and attracted people's attention. Besides, she was a conversation starter, so it would be hard for her to not become well-known.

Sheng Jiaoyang laid her head on Lina's shoulder and said, "Mei Niu, so many things have happened in the last half a year that it feels like a few years have passed."

Lina lifted a hand and patted her head. "As long as you’re fine, everything is okay."

"I'm so touched~ Mei Niu, why don't I offer myself to you?" Sheng Jiaoyang lifted her head and looked at Lina with lovey-dovey eyes.

"What do you mean by offering yourself to me?"

"…" Ah, I forgot that Mei Niu's Mandarin is way worse than mine.

Lina grew up in Italy and spent almost all of her teenage years at a boarding school. Lina has to thank me for my guidance for her being able to speak fluent Mandarin now. But, forget about her knowing anything deeper than that. This lass is someone who can actually mix up ‘love at first sight’ and ‘old friends at first sight.’

Sheng Jiaoyang leaned back in her chair and sighed, "We’ll definitely get even busier in the future. Casual parties like this will become few and far between."

"What can we do? This is the problem of growing up. As we get older, troublesome things increase."

"Yeah, so we have to cherish the present."

Knock, knock.

They were interrupted by a knock on the door.

"Please come in."

The waitress came in with the tea, looking nervous and excited. As she placed the tea down, she kept stealing glances at Sheng Jiaoyang.

Sheng Jiaoyang winked at her and the waitress froze momentarily. She was so excited that she was about to jump with joy.

"Let me wash the bowls and utensils for you." The waitress was very enthusiastic to help them wash the cutlery.

The waitress first washed the utensils in front of Sheng Jiaoyang before walking over to Lina's side. When the waitress was pouring the lukewarm water into the basin to wash the utensils, she exerted too much force, resulting in the water splashing onto the table and forming a puddle which dripped onto Lina.

"Ah, sorry…" The waitress kept apologizing in a panic.

Lina had already stood up and was holding a paper towel to her trousers to absorb the water. But, the paper towel was absorbing the water much slower than her trousers.

Sheng Jiaoyang looked at the large wet stain on Lina’s pants and frowned. "Why don't we call a rain check? Let’s go home and get a change of clothes first."

"There's a hairdryer in the staff lounge!" the waitress said hurriedly.

"Alright, bring me there."

The waitress then led Lina out.

Sheng Jiaoyang waited and waited, but Lina didn’t return. All the hotpot ingredients had been served, and she felt uneasy. She stood up and headed for the door. Just as she was pulling it open, the door was pushed open from the outside.

Sheng Jiaoyang was stunned to see the person who had pushed the door open.

"Lin Yan, what are you doing here?"

Lin Yan flashed a faint smile. His countenance was like picturesque scenery. "Previously, I came here for a meal with my cousin. The food is pretty good, so I brought a friend here for a taste."

Sheng Jiaoyang's eyes turned in thought. "You knew that I was here?"

"We bumped into Nana on our way in. She told me that you were here."

"Where’s Mei Niu now?"

"She’s gone to catch up on old times with my friend."

"Who’s your friend?" Suspicions flashed within the recesses of Sheng Jiaoyang's eyes. Even if they were to catch up on old times, Lina would at least come over and let me know. But, Lin Yan is Lina's older brother. Since he said that Lina went to reminisce with a friend, it should be the truth.

"His name’s Sven."

Sven? Sheng Jiaoyang raised an eyebrow, a trace of confusion appearing in her eyes. The name was strange to her, and it sounded like the name of a foreign man. Mei Niu has actually abandoned me for a man that wasn't George? Unbelievable!

"Are all the side dishes served?" Lin Yan's gaze scanned the table in the room.

"Lin Yan, did Mei Niu mention if she’d be coming back?"

"She's probably not coming back."

Sheng Jiaoyang widened her eyes in surprise. Who is this Sven? Mei Niu can actually reminisce with him the whole night without scruples?

"What's the relationship between Sven and Mei Niu?" Sheng Jiaoyang couldn't help but ask.

Lin Yan smiled as he watched her. "Are you planning on making me stand in the doorway to talk to you?"

"Oh, please come in!" Sheng Jiaoyang quickly replied.

The corners of Lin Yan's lips lifted and he walked slowly into the room.

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Yuna's Thoughts

TL: Cosy | Editor: Purpledragon | TLC: Grace