It didn’t take long before Shen Zhining video called Sheng Jiaoyang back.
"What's going on over there?" Sheng Jiaoyang asked with a straight face.
"What's wrong?" Shen Zhining's face was still glistening from the earlier shower.
"You’re leading a good life over there it seems. There’s even a beauty by your side. You must have played some stress-relieving games in the afternoon and conveniently took a shower when you were tired… Speaking of which, it turns out that your office is equipped with a bathroom for this kind of purpose, huh?"
When Sheng Jiaoyang finished speaking, Shen Zhining didn’t say anything in response and instead made an internal call. She was initially angry, but when she heard his following words, her anger dissipated.
"Christina, you can ask Angela to pack up. She's not qualified. Besides pouring coffee on me, what else can she do? Also, check her background thoroughly. She even dared to touch my cell phone without permission. I’m suspecting that she’s a corporate spy."
Sheng Jiaoyang’s expression eased. She knew that he wasn't that kind of person.
"You’re free today?" Shen Zhining stared at her and asked.
"I've been staying at the hotel and watching the post-produced episodes of the drama I’ve invested in these past two days. It's the first TV series I’ve invested in, so I have to follow it closely."
"What are you doing tomorrow?"
Sheng Jiaoyang felt a little tired with the phone lifted in her hand, so she turned over and lay down on the bed to continue chatting with Shen Zhining.
"I'm going to the TV station for the Mid-Autumn evening party’s dress rehearsal," she responded.
"A dress rehearsal? Are you going to sing?"
Sheng Jiaoyang smiled. "Stop teasing me. I'm afraid that I’ll scare their audience away if they let me sing."
The program team wanted her to sing at first. The TV station even told her that lip-synching was an option when she told them that her singing was bad, but she still rejected it. In her opinion, it would be quite irresponsible of her if she were to rely on lip-synching to deceive the audience when she couldn't even sing. The evening party’s program team was determined to invite her, so they had no choice but to change it to another performance.
The sketch and dance performances required more effort and time to practice and coordinate with the fellow partner. However, Sheng Jiaoyang was short of time and energy, thus the program team accommodated her and arranged another item on the program for her, which only required her to read aloud when the time came.
"That woman from earlier was the new assistant? Isn’t Jing Weinan supposed to be handling stuff like this? Where is he?" Sheng Jiaoyang asked.
Shen Zhining casually replied, "He got hurt."
"He got hurt? Is it serious?" Although Jing Weinan’s attitude towards her was only so-so, he was still Shen Zhining's right-hand man. She didn’t want anything to happen to him.
"He won’t die from it."
Sheng Jiaoyang silently sympathized with Jing Weinan.
After chatting for a while, she hung up and went to sleep.
The next day, she leisurely walked to the rehearsal site. The dress rehearsal had already started when she arrived. Her performance was slated in the middle, so she watched others rehearse and waited for her turn.
As she observed the people on stage, she saw quite a few acquaintances.
Other people's performances were either singing or dancing, and there were also a few cross-border collaborative comedy sketches. 
Sheng Jiaoyang was the only one to read aloud a poem for her performance.
When she read aloud, she had to match the tempo of the images and subtitles displayed on the big screen. The speed could neither be too fast nor too slow. As soon as she read the last sentence ‘May we all be blessed with longevity. Though far apart, we are still able to share the beauty of the moon together’, her voice trailed off and the background music changed while some dancers appeared on stage, some spinning, some dancing in the air.
She could then retreat from the stage. When the dance was over, she would follow the host on the stage again and they would witness the reunion of fifteen families together. Afterwards, she just had to wait until the finale of the evening party and go on stage with everyone to take the curtain call.
Many distinguished guests were invited to the Mid-Autumn evening party. Gu Zhou and Qu Wen sang the theme song of ‘Empress’ together to promote the drama. Ye Fan was also invited to attend the evening party. He led his team of backup dancers on stage and sang while dancing, completing the performance on his own.
In addition, there were also some other acquaintances. Sheng Jiaoyang had been in the industry for a year and participated in a few variety shows. She also met some people while filming those shows. She naturally was better acquainted with the co-stars she met while filming dramas and movies. After all, the filming progress was much longer so the time spent together was far greater compared to a variety show, where she only met the guests once or twice.
The guests were arranged to stay in the same hotel. Since everyone had to perform the next day, no one asked anyone out for dinner or drinks. After all, they had to protect their voice and appearance. It would be embarrassing if they got a hoarse voice or if they got a pimple or two from eating too much junk food. Although they couldn’t go out, those who were familiar with each other gathered together to play cards and other games, having fun all the same.
Gu Zhou was the most popular one. Almost everyone who was friends with him squeezed into his room.
Everyone spontaneously appeared in Gu Zhou's room without prior notice. However, Sheng Jiaoyang was an exception. She originally wanted to stay in her room and rest, but Ye Fan passed by her door and invited her to join in the fun.
Then, Sheng Jiaoyang sat down and seemingly never moved from her spot again the entire night. She counted the cards tenaciously, leaving others no chance of winning at all. This made the others realize how smart she was and how good she was at the card game. The loser had to answer a question from the winner and Ye Fan was badly beaten by her. Ye Fan lost so badly that if he were asked a question the next round, he’d have no choice but to reveal the color of his underpants.
Everyone only went back to their rooms around 11 PM. When Sheng Jiaoyang returned to her room, she realized that she forgot her cell phone in Gu Zhou's room. She walked back and knocked on Gu Zhou's door.
The door was opened and what came into sight was Gu Zhou in a hotel bathrobe, and his hair was also still wet. It seemed that he just got out of the shower.
"I forgot my phone here so I came to retrieve it." Sheng Jiaoyang got straight to the point. Gu Zhou smiled and let her in.
Sheng Jiaoyang looked around, but she couldn't find her cell phone. Thus, she asked Gu Zhou to call her with his phone, and a familiar ringtone sounded from under the sofa.
Just as she kneeled down to search for her cell phone, another few knocks were heard and Gu Zhou walked back to open the door.
When Sheng Jiaoyang stood up with her cell phone in hand, she saw Gu Zhou come in with an unfamiliar woman. When the woman came in, she cast Sheng Jiaoyang a surprised look before sizing her up. The woman’s gaze became all the more hostile when she saw that Sheng Jiaoyang’s clothes were a little messy, which was caused by kneeling earlier but she naturally didn’t see this.
"You must be Xu Jiaojiao," the woman stated.
"And, you are?"
A touch of embarrassment flashed across the woman's face and a trace of displeasure was congealed in the fundus of her eyes.
"Jiaojiao, this is Mo Lan," Gu Zhou introduced.
Mo Lan? This name sounds familiar. Sheng Jiaoyang suddenly remembered the said person and blurted out her thoughts out loud, "You guys are back together?"
Mo Lan's expression froze.
Gu Zhou laughed, "Jiaojiao, when did you become so nosy? Can't we stay friends after breaking up?"
"Alright, you guys can continue being friends, I won't bother you anymore." Sheng Jiaoyang shrugged and left Gu Zhou's room.
Mo Lan couldn't help but ask, "Is she the same Xu Jiaojiao who called you during the Lunar New Year?"
Gu Zhou nodded.
"You two…are very close," Mo Lan said, her tone a bit jealous.
"We are friends. If we’re not close then we aren’t considered friends," Gu Zhou answered in a watertight manner.
Sheng Jiaoyang went back to her room and washed up before going to sleep. She didn't bother thinking about what Gu Zhou and his ex-girlfriend were doing in his room. It was none of her business anyway.
The next morning, everyone rehearsed one more time before busying themselves with makeup and changing their outfits in the afternoon.
The Mid-Autumn evening party was a live broadcast, so the time was strictly managed.
This was the first time Sheng Jiaoyang stood on such a big stage, but she didn’t have any stage fright as she had already experienced all kinds of grand occasions in the past. When it was time for her to go on stage, she stood on the slowly rising elevated platform and faced the audience and looked into the camera. Accompanied by gentle background music, she merely held the poetry book in her arms and didn’t open it.
The most worrying situation of one forgetting their lines did not happen to her. She had rehearsed twice, so she had kept the rhythm in mind and completed her task smoothly.
The party ended flawlessly thanks to everyone's great efforts.
After a night's rest, Sheng Jiaoyang flew to Paris right away.
She still had another job at hand. A few months ago, she promised the director of the National Supermodel show that she would join the judging panel for the new season, but she was so busy filming that she didn’t have time to spare to show up as a mentor at the beginning of the new season. Thus, she chose to appear as a guest judge in the finals.
National Supermodel’s third season finals were held in Paris. The Spring/Summer Fashion Week was also held during the same period.
This year's ‘National Supermodel’ had moved the finals’ recording time to a later date. The second season’s competition was already over last August, but this year they had postponed the finals for an entire month specifically to make it in time for the fashion week. The final stage of the competition would be a runway show held at the Spring/Summer Fashion Week.
Four people stood side by side at the edge of the runway, while on the runway stood a man in a trench coat.
"Today we have invited someone you will definitely not want to miss."
The four finalists looked at each other with a quizzical expression. They had no idea who that person was.
"Teacher Zhuo, can’t you give us a hint?"
"That’s right, is it a male or female? Teacher Zhuo, you must tell us!"
Instead of answering, Zhuo Yiyan told them to look at the big screen.
The big screen behind the runway suddenly lit up accompanied by background music, and then a runway appeared on the big screen. Afterwards, someone appeared from one side of the runway and strikingly walked towards the camera. Then, the scene changed and the same person in a different outfit and style appeared on-screen once again.
"It's Xu Jiaojiao!" Everyone recognized the person on-screen.
While everyone was still looking at the big screen, Sheng Jiaoyang came out from one side of the runway.
Everyone looked at her intently. It’s Xu Jiaojiao in person!
"Wow~ I liked her best out of all the contestants in the last season."
"She is so classy! OMG, I can't believe I’m seeing her in person."
The four contestants whispered.
Meanwhile, Zhuo Yiyan spread his arms to welcome Sheng Jiaoyang with a smile. "Jiaojiao, welcome back!"
Sheng Jiaoyang also smiled and hugged Zhuo Yiyan in a friendly manner. "Long time no see, Teacher Zhuo."
"You look prettier every time I see you," Zhuo Yiyan praised.
"Girls go through many changes as they blossom into womanhood."
Zhuo Yiyan then said to the contestants, "I believe that you all recognize her, so there is no need for an introduction. Jiaojiao is the final judge of the finals, so show us your best performance!"
1. The cross-border collaborative comedy sketches is a performance where several stars from different professions in the showbiz (e.g. a singer, an actor, a comedian) collaborate together to perform a sketch.
2. The last sentence is from the poem ‘Thinking of You’ by a famous writer in the Song Dynasty. The poem was written during the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival of 1076 by Su Tung Po. The complete poem translated in English: https://bit.ly/3ay54ER
TL: Yuna | Editor: Grace | TLC: Grace