By the time Huo Xiang reached the hotel, there was only fifteen minutes before his appointment with Bai Meng Ru.
Bai Zhen Zhen thought about it in depth, and ultimately decided to play safe in order to solve this vicious supporting female once and for all. Thus, she rejected Huo Xiang’s request to meet and “talk”, asking him to head directly to the restaurant.
She also changed into a set of outfit that she had prepared a long time ago. She wore a wig and carefully arranged her hair and outfit, ensuring that nothing looked out of place before heading for the restaurant as well.
Huo Xiang had booked two booths in a corner, one of which was specially booked for Bai Zhen Zhen. Bai Zhen Zhen had barely taken a seat when she saw an exquisitely dressed young lady walk in the front door.
Bai Meng Ru was wearing a white lace dress today, with her hair gathered cutely in a bun. Her makeup was also very light, making her look pure and innocent.
“Brother Huo Xiang!” Bai Meng Ru went straight to the booth where Huo Xiang was, completely not recognising Bai Zhen Zhen in her disguise.
Huo Xiang stood up and invited her to take a seat. After the two of them took their seats, Bai Zhen Zhen pricked up her ears next door and listened carefully, wanting to witness for herself if Film Emperor Huo would be able to create the next award-winning performance.
“Brother Huo Xiang, I’m so sorry… You’re so busy, but I still asked you out and took up your time…” Bai Meng Ru started off taking a step back.
According to this routine, a normal person would generously say “It’s okay” upon hearing a young lady’s self-blame, even if they were really unhappy about it.
However, Huo Xiang had never been a normal person. In addition, he also had Bai Zhen Zhen’s script, thus he responded unceremoniously: “Since you’re aware of it, then keep it short.”
Bai Meng Ru was taken aback for a moment, but she took it in stride and smiled slightly, saying to Huo Xiang: “Brother Huo Xiang, I know you truly love my sister. Unfortunately, she doesn’t know how to cherish your feelings, and ended up hurting you instead… I will apologise to you on my sister’s behalf…”
“My relationship with her has nothing to do with you.” Huo Xiang smiled politely.
Bai Zhen Zhen heard his words from next door, felt extremely satisfied in her heart, as if an itch had finally been scratched.
Bai Meng Ru’s words were more or less within her estimates. The script she gave Huo Xiang today had one, and only one purpose — To destroy her! To completely tear up her facade! To make Bai Meng Ru utterly give up!
“Brother Huo Xiang, why do I feel that… You’re inexplicably hostile and trying to keep a distance from me? In fact, I really want to be good friends with you. I know you’re a good person. I can tell from the way you took care of my dad in the hospital…” Bai Meng Ru continued to act warmly.
On the other hand, Huo Xiang said: “Then why didn’t I see you being so eager to be friends with me in the hospital that time?”
“I- I was busy with my final exams at that time, so… So I didn’t have too much interactions with you…”
“Yet you asked me out the moment I became the heir to the world’s richest man?” Huo Xiang asked a trap question.
Fully living up to her hypocritical nature, even after being exposed, Bai Meng Ru still held on shamelessly. She innocently replied: “Actually, it doesn’t matter whether Brother Huo Xiang is the heir to the world’s richest man or not. I still like you regardless. Unfortunately, you were already my sister’s boyfriend at that time, so I could only control my feelings…”
“Did I hear that right, you like me?!”
Bai Meng Ru pretended to be shy as she nodded her head: “Although it’s a little embarrassing to say it personally, but I couldn’t care less any more. Even if you reject me, I want to confess my feelings to you so that I won’t have any regrets in the future. Brother Huo Xiang, you don’t need to feel burdened. It’s my personal choice to like you. I can just continue to silently like you…”
The waiter had just served Bai Zhen Zhen a dish, but Bai Zhen Zhen had completely lost her appetite at this moment.
Instead, a nauseous feeling reared its head.
“You asked me out today to talk about this?” Huo Xiang glanced at Bai Meng Ru.
“No…” Bai Meng Ru paused, before sighing, “Actually… I would like to ask you for a favour. My dad’s illness has relapsed, and though my sister has returned, she has chosen to wash her hands off of it… Actually, I understand her concerns. She doesn’t have a job now, and can’t afford the expensive hospital fees at all, but her attitude really causes a chill to run down my spine…”
“Wait a second,” Huo Xiang cut Bai Meng Ru off, “Why did you suddenly involve your sister in this? What about you and your mother? Have you ever paid for your father’s medical fees before?”
Bai Meng Ru’s eyes turned red as she hurriedly nodded: “Brother Huo Xiang, my dad has been hospitalised for almost a week. During this time, I paid for all the fees. However, I’ve only recently signed a contract with an entertainment company. During this period of time, I’ve only participated in a few shows and earned a few thousand dollars. Even if I want to treat my dad’s illness, it’s truly too difficult…”
“Based on what you said, you’re equally as helpless as your sister. Then what gives you the qualifications to talk bad about her?”
Bai Meng Ru was defeated by Huo Xiang’s clear and irrefutable logic, and her composure finally cracked slightly.
She avoided the topic, and finally expressed her intentions for finding him today: “Brother Huo Xiang, our family is really desperate now. Can you lend me some money? You took such good care of my dad when you were in the hospital; I’m sure you’re a good person who takes interpersonal relationships seriously…”
“You’re asking me to lend you money?” Huo Xiang frowned, “Then you should give me a reason. Why should I lend you money? I have absolutely no relationship with you. Should I lend you money just because you like me?”
Bai Meng Ru bit her lips, and answered pitifully: “Yes, I know that my request is abrupt, but… But other than you, I don’t know who else I can turn to for help… In my most helpless moment, the first person I thought of was you, Brother Huo Xiang. I know that this is very presumptuous, but I really like you… If you help me, I’m willing to do anything…”
Bai Zhen Zhen sighed in her heart when she heard those words: Indeed, she hasn’t changed her ways!
In the novel, the person Bai Meng Ru went to hook up with was her “soon-to-be brother-in-law” Ling Hao Chen. At that time, she also approached him multiple times under the guise of borrowing money, often stewing chicken soup and bringing nutritious meals to his office. During this period of time, she didn’t forget to spread a few of her sister’s “rumours”.
“But I don’t need you to do anything for me.” Huo Xiang waved his hands, “Uncle Bai said it a long time ago. He doesn’t like my money, and he will never use my money. As his daughter, you’re not listening to your father, and even came to beg the person he hates the most. If your father knew about this, wouldn’t he be angry?”
“Dad is just confused at the moment. Brother Huo Xiang, please don’t take it seriously…” Bai Meng Ru gritted her teeth, as if she had made an important decision. She said sincerely, “Besides, what my sister can do, I can do too. Brother Huo Xiang, as long as you help me, I’m willing to give you everything…”
Bai Zhen Zhen’s jaw dropped — Bai Meng Ru was so daring! The implication was so obvious! Sadly for her, not all rich men in the world was as despicable as that person named Zhen Wei.
“Are you insulting your sister, or are you insulting me?” Huo Xiang’s eyes flashed sharply.
He stood up and said to Bai Meng Ru: “I don’t want to continue this unpleasant chat. Also, your sister is different from you. The way you cover up your licentious behaviour under the guise of filial piety really makes me sick.”
Bai Meng Ru’s tears fell as Huo Xiang ruthlessly exposed her true intentions.
“Brother Huo Xiang, no, that’s not the case… You’ve misunderstood me…” Bai Meng Ru stood up while crying, wanting to keep Huo Xiang from leaving.
Seeing that Huo Xiang had already gotten up and was about to leave, Bai Meng Ru rushed in front of Huo Xiang.
She even tugged on a corner of Huo Xiang’s sleeve, acting aggrievedly: “Brother Huo Xiang, listen to my explanation…”
“No need!” Huo Xiang coldly shook her hand off.
Bai Meng Ru took advantage of this movement, and with a sharp scream and a slip of her foot, she threw her body towards Huo Xiang.
She thought it would be the classic scene of the hero saving the damsel in distress. However, Huo Xiang’s response was faster than hers. With his sharp side-step, Bai Meng Ru fell to the ground with a “thump”. Her small delicate chin hit the ground hard, causing her face to distort in pain.
“Pfft–” A snort of laughter came from the booth next to them. Bai Zhen Zhen clutched her belly as she tried to hold back her laughter.
Bai Meng Ru picked herself up and sat on the ground while sobbing pitifully, trying to evoke Huo Xiang’s compassion.
However, Huo Xiang watched her farce coldly from above, and even threw out a line to ridicule her: “Don’t even try to scam me, there are many security cameras in this restaurant!”
He secretly gave Bai Zhen Zhen a look, before leaving without a second glance.
Bai Zhen Zhen rested her face on her hands as she pretended to drink her tea in order to prevent Bai Meng Ru from seeing her face.
She initially wanted to wait till Bai Meng Ru left, before leaving as well. After that, she would ridicule Bai Meng Ru over text and completely incite Bai Meng Ru, forcing her to take action. However, she didn’t expect that the moment Huo Xiang stepped out of sight, Bai Meng Ru calmly stood up.
Bai Meng Ru patted the dust off her body and gently rubbed her chin, a cruel smile spreading across her face.
“He’s truly a tough bone to crack. Since you dare to humiliate me like this, then don’t blame me for what’s to come.” Bai Meng Ru spit out with flames in her eyes.
Hearing her words, Bai Zhen Zhen felt that something was up. At this moment, a man wearing a cap and carrying a miniature camera walked over.
Bai Meng Ru asked him: “How is it?”
The man replied: “I’ve got it.”
The two of them exchanged looks, and left together without another word. When they left, Bai Meng Ru subconsciously glanced at Bai Zhen Zhen, but still didn’t manage to recognise her.
After Bai Zhen Zhen left the restaurant, she headed straight for the lift and went back to the hotel room.
Huo Xiang had been waiting in front of the door for a long while. Seeing her walk over, he asked amusedly: “Did you leave me waiting as revenge for changing the agreement? You’re too childish!”
“It’s not the time to play games now! I don’t have the time to take revenge right now!” Bai Zhen Zhen responded to Huo Xiang’s words, swiping open the room door and walking in while speaking hurriedly, “After you left just now, Bai Meng Ru met up with another man. That man was holding a camera. I guess he must have taken pictures when you were talking to her.”
“So what?” Huo Xiang questioned, casually closing the door behind him.
“So what? You still have the courage to say that!” Bai Zhen Zhen frowned, “But then again, you’ve never experienced it before, and don’t know the power of rumours. Thousands of rumours and speculations can be derived from just a single picture. If you want to influence the direction of the rumours, just hire a group of internet water army and even the most ridiculous rumours can ‘become’ real!”
“The way you described it with so much details, it’s almost as if you’ve experienced it before.” Huo Xiang snorted.
“Even if you’ve never experienced it before, you should have at least heard of it!” Bai Zhen Zhen said seriously, “I suspect that it won’t take more than two hours before gossip about you and Bai Meng Ru will fill the internet. To a new idol lacking popularity, this is definitely news that will propel them to fame.”
Huo Xiang merely smiled at her, retorting: “Do you really think that I would give her that opportunity?”
Bai Zhen Zhen turned to Huo Xiang. The more she looked at him, the more he resembled a wily old fox.
That’s right, he could even swap out their marriage agreement from beneath her nose. How could a person like that easily get schemed against?!
Under Bai Zhen Zhen’s examining eyes, Huo Xiang leisurely pulled out a handphone from his pocket.
“Dun dun dun~ The evidence is right here!” Huo Xiang raised his eyebrows proudly, “If she dares to make up stories, then I will release this recording and let everyone understand for themselves how this ‘filial’ daughter tried to shamelessly approach me.”
Bai Zhen Zhen had to acknowledge his craftiness, and gave him a thumbs up: “You’re indeed a wily old fox.”
The two of them took a seat at the sofa. Bai Zhen Zhen finally began to settle her accounts with him: “Since we’re done talking about that hypocritical person, then let’s talk about the pre-nuptial agreement.”
Huo Xiang blinked: “Actually, there was a line that your step-sister said that I find makes a lot of sense. It’s my personal choice to like you; you can’t force me to not like you! Who asked you to be so beautiful, cute, touching…”
“Listening to these adjectives, I’m a little suspicious of your affections for me.” Bai Zhen Zhen soothed the goosebumps that rose on her hand, before putting on a serious face, “Xiang Xiang, it’s not that I don’t like you…”
“What, what?!” Huo Xiang seemed like he had heard some earth-shattering news, springing up from the sofa.
“It’s not that you don’t like me? That means you like me?” Huo Xiang trembled in excitement, not knowing where to put his hands and feet, “Bai Zhen Zhen, you’re finally willing to admit that you like me?!”
Bai Zhen Zhen frowned: “I haven’t finished speaking yet. I admit that I have positive emotions towards you, but…”
“There’s no buts! Then it’s settled! We will announce to the whole world our love on 15th June!”
Bai Zhen Zhen stood up with a look of contempt: “If you continue to be like this, then I won’t speak any more.”
“Alright, alright. I’ll listen to you seriously.” Huo Xiang pulled Bai Zhen Zhen back down to the sofa, before putting on a well-behaved look.
Bai Zhen Zhen continued: “Actually, I’m a particularly insecure person. I’m afraid of losing those I cherish. If we’re not fated to have a good ending, then to me, it’s better never to have loved at all than to have loved and lost. I don’t want a moment of joy to turn into a lifetime of regret.”
“Zhen Zhen, why do you say that? Do you know something?” Huo Xiang was startled. Looking at Bai Zhen Zhen’s serious appearance, he even suspected that she had seen through his “true identity”.
But it was highly unlikely, after all, he had never revealed anything strange.
Huo Xiang thought about it from another angle, asking: “Did Su Meng say something to you?”
He had told Su Meng previously that he had a terminal illness and didn’t have long to live, that’s why he didn’t dare to pursue Bai Zhen Zhen. Did Su Meng tell Bai Zhen Zhen about it, causing Bai Zhen Zhen to be afraid of losing him and thus become unwilling to be together with him?
“It’s not anyone else, it’s me. I just can’t get over that thought.” Bai Zhen Zhen gave a shallow smile, “I just feel that with frequent interactions and similar interests, it’s very easy for two people to develop feelings for each other. However, such encounters are not once-in-a-lifetime. Even if we aren’t together, you will one day meet someone else who would spark such feelings in you too.”
“I won’t.” Huo Xiang was anxious, and almost spoke the truth, “Zhen Zhen, I only want to be with you. I don’t have the time or patience to develop such feelings with anyone else.”
“Then what if one day, either one of us suddenly disappears from the other party’s life?” Bai Zhen Zhen asked.
Huo Xiang was stunned. He obviously knew that it was impossible for Bai Zhen Zhen to know his true identity, but hearing the words coming out from Bai Zhen Zhen’s mouth, he couldn’t help but have his doubts.
“Look, you hesitated. This shows that you can’t bear such pain as well.” Bai Zhen Zhen sighed.
Huo Xiang immediately shook his head: “Zhen Zhen, I didn’t hesitate! Coincidentally, I’ve talked about this with Su Meng previously, and asked her the same question before. Can you guess what she said?”
“What did she say?”
“She said that since it’s destined to be lost in the future, then we should learn to cherish it even more in the present. Because once you miss the opportunity, there is no way to turn back time. In the end, regret will fill your heart for the rest of your life, which is much more painful.”
Huo Xiang paused. “It was only some time after that I learned her story. A year ago, she had a suitor who chased her fervently. He even even cosplayed as a female boss in order to make her happy… This was why she became so excited when she saw me that day.”
“… At that time, Su Meng was busy with her work and had no intentions of falling in love. Although she also liked that person, but she always had that persistent thought that there was still time. She would agree to be his girlfriend after she clinched an upcoming major project for the company. No one expected that at the start of the year, that man would be involved in a car accident and passed away… Until the end, Su Meng never had the opportunity to tell him — I like you.”
“Su Meng said that this was the biggest regret in her life. If she had another chance, even if the car accident was inevitable, she would still choose to accompany him to the end.”
It was rare for Huo Xiang to tell a story in such a serious manner. Bai Zhen Zhen was moved after hearing it.
After narrating Su Meng’s story, Huo Xiang concluded: “Thus, we must cherish every moment and live our lives to the fullest while we’re still alive. Let’s just enjoy every second and every day, whether it be sunny or rainy tomorrow, whether we meet the apocalypse tomorrow or not.”
“Ok.” Bai Zhen Zhen responded unexpectedly.
Huo Xiang didn’t register her words for a moment.
He frowned, before clarifying: “Ok to what?”
“Cherishing every moment and living our lives to the fullest.” Bai Zhen Zhen replied calmly, “So I will admit that I like you, and I actually want to be together with you too.”
“Wh- What?” Huo Xiang couldn’t believe what he heard.
He stood up and walked around the coffee table, as if looking for something. Before Bai Zhen Zhen could question him, he asked: “Zhen Zhen, is there a cotton swab in this room?”
“Why are you looking for a cotton swab?” Bai Zhen Zhen was puzzled.
“I want to clean out my ears before hearing your words again…”
Bai Zhen Zhen laughed bemusedly.
Huo Xiang couldn’t find a cotton swab, and could only rely on his pinky finger to clean his ear. After that, he turned to Bai Zhen Zhen seriously: “Alright, say it again. I’m listening carefully.”
Bai Zhen Zhen held back a smile and looked at him: “I like you too. Let’s be together.”
“What kind of together? The real kind?”
“Yes, the kind that can hold hands and kiss.” Bai Zhen Zhen was not reserved with her words at all. She added on belatedly, “But we still can’t do that yet.”
“No problem! Absolutely no problem!”
Huo Xiang was so happy that he almost broke out in a small dance.
He quickly stepped in front of Bai Zhen Zhen, holding her hand and asking: “Zhen Zhen, are you serious? You’re not tricking me on purpose as revenge for the marriage agreement, are you?”
“I’m not as bad as you!” Bai Zhen Zhen glared at him.
“Ok, that’s good then, hehe! Haha!”
Huo Xiang couldn’t stop grinning from ear to ear.
However, after smiling for a while, Huo Xiang’s forehead gradually furrowed. He questioned again: “So, we’re together just like that? Because of the words I just said?”
“Yeah, the story you told was really enlightening, and I suddenly figured it out.”
“That’s not right, isn’t it too casual?! Shouldn’t there be some kind of special touching story, such as a hero saving a damsel in distress or a terminal illness?”
“Do you think you’re writing a novel? That the male and female leads would only fall in love with each other after experiencing some thrilling adventures together?!” Bai Zhen Zhen scoffed.
Those were just cliches found in novels. As long as both parties understood their own feelings, they could just get together! There was no need for such cliche plots!
Huo Xiang was moved to tears.
This was definitely the most unpretentious female lead he had ever seen in the limited number of books that he had ever read.
— System: “Ding~ Female lead happiness points +20.”
The system notification only served to excite Huo Xiang more. This was the first time he heard of a “+20”. He could only imagine how happy Bai Zhen Zhen truly was after opening her heart to the person she liked.
However, the following sentence made Huo Xiang’s heart drop.
— System: “Congratulations, you have accumulated a total of 81.5 points thus far. Success is just around the corner!”
Huo Xiang’s smile instantly froze.
“What’s the matter?” Bai Zhen Zhen saw Huo Xiang’s face suddenly change, and she couldn’t help but wonder.
Huo Xiang quickly strode to the door, pulled it open, before turning around to quickly explain to Bai Zhen Zhen: “I have something to attend to, so I’ll go first.”
“What?!” Bai Zhen Zhen’s jaw dropped.
However, Huo Xiang completely ignored her reaction, and left in a hurry without looking back.
Bai Zhen Zhen’s shock lasted for a long while.
This- Didn’t things deviate too much from the norm?! After confessing, aren’t they supposed to flirt and whisper sweet nothings and just generally… have such interactions? How could he just turn on his heels and leave?!
— Was it part of Huo ‘Childish’ Xiang Xiang’s revenge?!
Huo Xiang: I used to work hard to earn happiness points, but now I’m afraid of gaining happiness points. Sigh! It’s a difficult life in this novel!