After not resting in a quiet and comfortable environment for a long time, Yi Hui slept deeply this night. Adding on the nap on the road, he actually slept as much as thirteen hours in the day.
He woke up with a headache and didn’t feel like he had slept enough. But he couldn’t sleep anymore, he had to go out before Zhou Jinheng woke up.
The agreement stated that he had to stay at home for twelve hours a day. Yi Hui planned to spend all his other time elsewhere and try not to meet Zhou Jinheng.
He slept in the guest room upstairs. After getting up, he didn’t use the bathroom upstairs. He took out the prepared toiletries from his bag and went downstairs.
Hearing the movement in the kitchen, Yi Hui thought he had heard it wrong. He walked downstairs and saw a tall figure moving in the door of the semi-open kitchen, and he couldn’t help but feel surprised.
The stove and the vent were both working, and Zhou Jinheng, surrounded by noise, did not notice anyone going downstairs. He held a spatula in his hand and there was something churning in the pot. Yi Hui didn’t plan to say hello to him, walked into the bathroom, closed the door and locked it.
In just five minutes of washing, Yi Hui summed up the reason why Zhou Jinheng got up early to cook.
There was a lot of uproar about the recent breach of contract, even passers-by talked about it. Many media figures followed the trend, harping on Zhou Jinheng’s so-called “unprofessionality” and focusing on the actors whose income was much greater than the contribution.
It would be okay with someone else, but Zhou Jinheng’s bad temper was well-known both inside and outside the entertainment circle. For a while, the spearheads of public opinion pointed at him. Various anonymous sources spread the news on the Internet regardless of it being true or false. Being a diva, insulting the director, neglecting work, going lazy after winning an award, demanding special treatment in the crew… All kinds of things swarmed around him. Yi Hui met news of this kind several times just by accidentally swiping down but the people who liked the buzz would look at it and scold. No one cared if it was true or not and whether there was conclusive evidence.
Yi Hui couldn’t help but think of the plagiarism incident that happened to him. The false thing was instigated by someone with malicious intent to arouse the indignant insults of many uninformed people.
At that time, he felt that the sky was collapsing and he couldn’t eat or sleep. Zhou Jinheng’s situation was more serious and the range of distribution was wider. If it were him, he would likely seclude himself and retire from the circle.
That was why Zhou Jinheng was so abnormal these days. In addition, he withdrew from that series and had no work, so he was free to cook at home. It seemed strange, but when you thought about it carefully, it was natural to distract yourself with other things.
When he went out, Zhou Jinheng was answering the phone, and Yi Hui had no intention of eavesdropping. However, Zhou Jinheng had no spare hand to hold the phone and turned on the speaker, so he was forced to listen.
“Go back? Why? Did you bring the man surnamed Tan to the house again?”
“Dream on! Your notoriety is all over the place. Is being an actor not enough? You’ve made so much mess, disgracing my old face! The Tan family is not deaf or blind, do you think they will still accept a scandal-ridden person like you?”
“That’s good.” Zhou Jinheng’s voice rose, “The young master of the Tan family has a good eye, so help me convey him a message. I wish him the best in his life as soon as possible.”
“I haven’t eaten breakfast yet, so I’ll hang up first.”
Before Zhou Huarong on the opposite side finished speaking, Zhou Jinheng hung up the phone quickly, washed his hands and brought out the omelette from the pan. When he turned around and saw Yi Hui, he still had a smile on his face: “Just got up?”
Yi Hui nodded and didn’t say “good morning.”
“Why didn’t you wash upstairs?” Putting the two plates in his hand on the dining table, Zhou Jinheng said, “I have prepared a new toothbrush and a towel for you.”
Yi Hui glanced at the fried eggs of different shapes on the two plates and said, “I brought my own.”
The bathroom upstairs belonged to the master of the house and the one downstairs was for guests to use. Yi Hui put himself in the position of the tenant, but Zhou Jinheng didn’t seem to be able to accept it. After a while, he didn’t insist on him changing according to his requests. He just let him sit and went back to the kitchen to get things.
Another glass of juice was poured and placed in front of Yi Hui. This time it was watermelon juice, and the refreshing sweet scent rushed to his face. Yi Hui, whose stomach was empty, was immediately hooked; the tip of his nose moved, greedily sniffing the smell he liked.
Zhou Jinheng saw it, made no sound, and sat across the table with a slightly deeper smile at the corners of his mouth.
The breakfast was eaten very quietly.
Or maybe it was because Yi Hui was unilaterally silent, so it seemed quiet.
Zhou Jinheng was not a talkative person, especially during meal times. However, compared with the past, he said a lot more at the table today.
After a while, he asked how the eggs were fried and if next time, he would like him to fry them a little bit more. After a while, he asked if the juice was too sweet or if he wanted him to refill the cup. Halfway through the meal, he asked if he had any plans for today. He didn’t seem like Emperor Zhou who had been floating in the focus of public opinion recently at all.
The first few questions could be answered by nodding and shaking his head, but the last one did not work like this. Yi Hui couldn’t help it and said, “Go out and come back in twelve hours.”
If it weren’t for the fact that the agreement clearly stated that they must have a morning and an evening meal together, he would not be sitting here at all. Instead, he would buy two buns casually on the street and find a cafe where he could sit all day while eating.
He didn’t want to stay here for a moment.
Within the past night alone, Zhou Jinheng seemed used to being rejected. This time he didn’t even look obviously stunned. He put down the half-eaten omelette and said, “Call me if you need something.”
Yi Hui was forced to save a new number in his mobile phone, and the number Zhou Jinheng had used before was blacklisted by him.
When entering the name, he habitually entered his full name. The character “heng” was not easy to find. When flipping through, he accidentally pressed “hum”.
Zhou Jinheng, HengHeng, Hum-Hum, Dora-Hum-Hum.
Yi Hui laughed at himself. It turned out that he had been given tips and he could only blame himself for being stupid. He didn’t notice so many clues and only kept his kindness in mind.
There was nothing to say by phone.
Yi Hui went out with his notebook in his backpack and found a KFC two blocks away. He sat there for most of the day.
He ate his lunch there, chatting with his mother and sister while eating a burger.
It was lunch break and both of them were free. Yi Hui set up a WeChat group for them, telling them the story he made up before going to bed yesterday – the first gathering of the team in S City, a clean business hotel was arranged for them and he was eating with other students in the fast food restaurant next to the hotel now.
Jiang Xuemei wanted to see what he was eating. Yi Hui took a photo of the half-eaten burger and sent it. The reactions of the two people on the opposite side were very different. Jiang Xuemei asked him how he could eat this with his bad stomach. Jiang Yimang yelled that she wanted to eat it, saying that there was no KFC in town and she envied him to death.
Receiving attention from his family, Yi Hui’s taciturn mood was finally injected with a ray of fresh air.
At 7:30 in the evening, he sent the finished draft to the editor-in-charge’s mailbox, packed up his belongings and walked back, admiring the bustling night view of S City. Half an hour passed quietly, and it was just eight o’clock when he stepped in.
An auntie wearing an apron greeted him and said respectfully, “Mr. Yi is back.”
Only then did Yi Hui know that there was a housekeeper in the house again.
If you thought about it, Zhou Jinheng was not good at taking care of life’s chores. It used to be too strenuous for him to boil water, how could he clean up his house in such an orderly manner? The omelette in the morning was probably the result of his accidental whim.
The chef was different and the dinner was much richer than breakfast. Sweet and sour fish, Kung Pao chicken, pine nut corn, pineapple gruel and a winter melon pork ribs soup were all home-cooked dishes, but they were made at a professional level comparable to a hotel chef. Sweet and sour, it was delicious, better than the craftsmanship of the previous housekeeper.
“Is Mr. Yi satisfied?” The housekeeper asked with a sincere smile, “These dishes are all prepared according to Mr. Zhou’s request. Mr. Zhou said that you like sweet things, so I put more sugar and less salt in each dish.”
Yi Hui was not sure if Zhou Jinheng had ordered her to say that, or if the housekeeper herself was willing to talk more to take credit.
He didn’t look up at the man on the opposite side of the table. After complimenting the housekeeper’s skills, he corrected his name in front of Zhou Jinheng: “My surname is not Yi, my surname is Jiang.”
In the next few days, Yi Hui continued to leave early and return late, absent from the house for exactly twelve hours a day. He was even more timely than students stepping into the classroom in early reading class. Most of the remaining twelve hours were spent sleeping.
He drilled the loopholes in the agreement with peace of mind and whenever he was at home, he closed the door tightly. When he had to use the bathroom, he would listen by the door first to make sure that there was no movement downstairs.
As the time went by, it was inevitable that there would be mistakes in judgement.
For example, tonight Yi Hui changed his clothes and planned to wash them, walking downstairs on tiptoes. He didn’t notice the light leaking from the crack in the bathroom door. Only when he half opened the door did he realize that there was someone inside.
“Don’t want to see me that much?”
Zhou Jinheng’s questioning voice prevented him from slamming the door back. Yi Hui froze in place but later realized that he didn’t need to hide, so he walked in with the basin in his arms.
The bathroom was very large, more than enough for two people to stand. Yi Hui scrubbed his clothes in front of the tub. Zhou Jinheng leaned against the edge of the sink, holding a half-drunk can of beer in his hand, facing the mirror, looking at something.
After receiving no response to the words “Leave it for Auntie to wash”, “What did you do outside today”, and “Did you drink juice”, Zhou Jinheng chuckled and lightly touched Yi Hui’s shoulder with the can: ”Don’t ignore me…”
He didn’t remember how long it had been since he’d heard such a miserable intonation from him. Yi Hui’s hand movements paused, then speeded up. He casually rubbed his clothes a few times, then wrung them dry and walked to the door when Zhou Jinheng suddenly propped his arm on the door frame to block the way.
“You hate me so much?”
Yi Hui didn’t look up, so he couldn’t see his expression, only smelled a faint smell of alcohol.
Zhou Jinheng kept smiling even though no one could see it, but his voice trembled slightly: “Can’t you just… smile at me like before?”
Yi Hui couldn’t smile. As long as he stepped into this house, he wouldn’t smile anymore.
He used to smile because he was stupid, because he was Yi Hui. Now that he was Jiang Yihui, now that he made up his mind to live, he decided to give up everything in the past and start over with a new identity.
He had to leave behind the past that entangled him, no matter whether it was good or bad. Even if he couldn’t forget it for the time being, he couldn’t give up halfway and look back. When he was still a fool, he knew how to keep his word. But when he became smart, could he forget his self-esteem and go back on his word?
Besides, the agreement was prepared by Zhou Jinheng and he just acted in accordance with the terms. As long as there was no mistake, Zhou Jinheng couldn’t do anything about him.
For a long time after that night, Yi Hui didn’t meet anyone in the bathroom downstairs. Sometimes he didn’t see him at breakfast time either. The housekeeper said he went out before dawn.
Being blackened was only temporary. Even if he lost some fans because of that incident, he was still a popular star. Since there was no filming, the company stuffed his schedule with some temporary jobs.
When he was not at home, Yi Hui felt relaxed and occasionally came back half an hour early to help the housekeeper prepare dinner.
“Mr. Zhou said to cook four dishes and one soup when he is not at home.” Auntie said while washing the dishes, “He said your mouth is tricky, when asked, you say you eat everything, but when the food is served, you only focus on what you like.”
Yi Hui didn’t know when Zhou Jinheng had said this, he just felt uncomfortable, his heart heavy.
It was like listening to the story of a caged canary. If the breeder treats it with the slightest kindness, it should be grateful and reciprocate, regardless of whether the bird’s leg was broken or its wings injured when it was caught.
Unable to swallow, he put down his chopsticks and went upstairs after eating just a small bowl of rice. When he woke up in the middle of the night and heard the sound of the door closing downstairs, followed by a series of steady footsteps, Yi Hui turned over and changed his position to lie on his side, keeping his eyes closed for a long time before falling asleep again.
When he got up in the morning and went downstairs, there was something new in the house, a small blue watering can. He mentioned it to the housekeeper last night, saying that the nozzle of the watering can was broken.
It was like this before. Once he needed something, those things would unexpectedly appear near him, a shoe brush, hydrosol, a charger… Sometimes he didn’t use them but they were already in place in advance.
Maybe he learned it from some jerk, Yi Hui thought. But use this method to tie him up and treat him well, what was this?
What was the difference between this and creating a fake identity to approach him and take care of him with ulterior motives?
He might be grateful, but he would never appreciate it.
If these things did not appear on someone else’s territory but were given to him personally like before, he would put them away one by one and then throw them all out.