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    Chapter 133: Reality: Attraction

    "You don't have to force yourself to say something you don't mean."

    The man's originally moist throat now sounded like it had been scraped dry, clear and untainted by any impurities:

    "I'll let you stay by my side."

    "No need to force yourself."

    But the young man holding the hair dryer replied differently:

    "It's not difficult for me to say something like that."

    Their conversation didn't continue. Instead, their unspoken thoughts swirled quietly beneath the rumble of thunder and the rain.

    When they lay on the same bed, they still said nothing.

    The old wooden bed carried the unique style of a bygone era, with its sharp, ornate pillars reminiscent of Western design. However, above their heads, the canopy was adorned with sachets and a simple astrolabe decoration.

    With the slightest nudge, the Earth and Sun in the celestial globe would revolve at differing speeds, creating an enigmatic charm.

    This was not the first time Ming Yiyang had encountered such strikingly eclectic decorations within this residence.

    It seemed Yan Qiling had an extraordinary interest in aerospace-related subjects.

    A blend of technology and mysticism, retro style with contemporary trends – all these collisions produced unexpected sparks in this peculiar house.

    Yan Qiling didn't need sleep, but at this moment, there seemed to be nothing else to do even if he didn't "sleep."

    So he closed his eyes, entering a state of "pseudo-sleep" in a meditative posture.

    Ming Yiyang, on the other hand, kept his eyes open, gazing at the ceiling decoration. After a long while, he turned sideways, facing Yan Qiling's direction. Savoring the fragrance of dried osmanthus-infused Buddha's hand from the sachet, he slowly closed his eyes.

    As his silver eyelashes drooped, they resembled a crystal ball covering a dream.

    One of the virtues of Eastern people was their adeptness at maintaining harmony.

    This tranquil current is like the tepid water that slowly boils a frog, turning from cold to warm. By the time one senses the scorching heat, it's already too late to escape.

    Most people acknowledge the issue, yet they still prefer to maintain the status quo.

    For the sake of "tranquility," they are willing to sacrifice everything.

    As for why, there are many reasons.

    A dazzling white light filtered through the curtains, illuminating Ming Yiyang's eyes. Amidst the vast, snow-covered landscape, he saw Yan Qiling still lying before him.

    The man lay with his hands clasped over his abdomen, sleeping as still as a statue. His body was cold, giving the appearance of serene death.

    Ming Yiyang reached out in silence, gently grasping the other's chilly wrist.

    He held on without seeking a response.

    Calmly reflecting, this was one of the reasons.

    Even if there was no love between them, it was enough for him as long as this person remained by his side.

    The surrounding snowfield gradually faded away, and the reality before him returned to normal under the glare of sunlight.

    His phone, resting beside him, buzzed loudly.

    Ming Yiyang leaned over to glance at the screen.

    A notification popped up: "Scheming Roommates 2: Lin Yongjian Comes Out with Heartthrob Model on the Spot?!" Click to watch the most explosive segment!

    Ming Yiyang: "…"

    Despite the thumbnail being compressed to an almost unrecognizable size, Ming Yiyang could still tell that the pixelated "heartthrob model" was Yan Qiling.

    Inexplicably, he turned his head to look at the man lying beside him.

    The other person was still "asleep," showing no signs of waking up.

    Ming Yiyang discreetly silenced his phone and tapped on the notification, which led him directly to the variety show's page within the app. The content indeed featured various interactions between Lin Yongjian and Yan Qiling.

    Assuming a poker face, he watched, seemingly unmoved on the surface.

    Unbeknownst to him, his eyebrows had knitted together, forming a deep "V" shape on his forehead.

    It wasn't until the slender arm of the man behind him reached out, with his well-defined fingers gently touching the creases on his brow, that he realized how terrible his expression must have looked.

    Fortunately, since he had been facing away from Yan Qiling the entire time, his phone screen was completely obscured. Thus, the other party had no idea what he was looking at or what his true expression was.

    The man's voice carried a hint of drowsiness, sounding somewhat muffled and husky, as if he had just woken up from a real sleep:

    "Why are you frowning?"

    "I saw an unpleasant piece of social news."

    Ming Yiyang's tone was somewhat dismissive. He quickly turned off his phone and twisted around to ask:

    "You're not going back to sleep?"

    Yan Qiling lay flat on his back, gazing at the spinning celestial globe above his head, and replied:

    "No need, I didn't really need to sleep anyway."

    They fell into another brief silence.

    Yan Qiling, however, slightly turned his head to look at the young man beside him. With half his face buried in the pillow, his countenance radiated a naive purity, tinged with a rare touch of childishness.

    "Help me call Pan Hu," he requested.

    Ming Yiyang pretended not to hear.

    Yet, Yan Qiling gazed at him steadily with those pure eyes, like an endearing stray puppy on the street.

    Some indescribable emotion stirred within him, and almost reluctantly, he picked up his phone, asking with little enthusiasm, "What do you want him to do? If it's cooking, I can take care of it."

    But Yan Qiling replied, "No need. Just ask him to call Ding Tai and tell Ding Tai to spare some time to come over to the house today. I need to reschedule my working hours."

    Ming Yiyang didn't inquire about the reason and dialed the number as instructed.

    However, when he realized that Yan Qiling's "rearrangement of work hours" meant not working for an extended period, Ding Tai sat across from them with an expression of utter disbelief.

    Ming Yiyang had expected Ding Tai to explode in anger and reject Yan Qiling's request. To his surprise, Ding Tai did indeed erupt, but instead of flying off the handle, the first thing he did after jumping off the sofa was to point at his nose and shout:

    "Damn it, Yan Qiling! Are you quitting for this guy?!"

    Ming Yiyang: ?

    Pan Hu: !!!!

    What was even more astonishing was that Yan Qiling didn't deny it. Instead, he calmly sipped his tea and replied:

    "In a way."

    Ming Yiyang felt like question marks were popping above his head, while Pan Hu tried to suppress his eager expression, as if he couldn't wait for some juicy gossip.

    "My dear ancestor, why would you quit now? Don't you know that Lin Yongjian has already boosted your popularity? Being paired up with a rising star as your CP brings so much exposure, Mr. Yan! If you quit now... do you have any idea how much money you'll be missing out on?!"

    Ding Tai slapped his thigh, agitated and frustrated, unable to hold back his expletives.

    "Damn it, what the hell is going on? With a face like that, you're nothing but trouble! Why did I ever take you on?"

    "Yan Qiling, do you have any idea how many places I've crawled to as someone's lackey? Do you think those job opportunities just fell from the sky?! All these years, I've put in my share of work, haven't I? And now, when things are finally looking up, you treat me like this?!"

    Seeing Ding Tai's emotions escalate beyond control, Ming Yiyang abruptly stood up, placing a hand on the other man's shoulder with a stern demeanor.

    "Speak politely and stick to the matter at hand. No irrelevant talk."

    The young man's tall and sturdy frame was indeed intimidating, and though Ding Tai wanted to push him away, he didn't quite dare. Resigned, he grumbled and slumped back onto the sofa, trying to quell his anger.

    Yan Qiling's words quickly calmed him down:

    "I'm just not taking on new work, not abandoning everything. For the jobs we've already committed to before today, finish arranging them quickly. I'll make time to complete them so as not to cause you any inconvenience."

    Ding Tai's agitation subsided, albeit reluctantly:

    "The jobs we took on before today are all small gigs. We still need to earn more, don't we?"

    Yan Qiling didn't refuse:

    "This week, take on as many projects as you can handle, but stick to the old rule: no scripts, films, or variety shows. Coordinate the rest efficiently. I don't have much time, so don't be greedy."

    Ding Tai's expression remained somber, though it had softened significantly.

    He glanced at his phone before letting out a resigned sigh. "Fine, I'll start arranging things... Ancestor, please don't pull any more unexpected stunts on me."

    Yan Qiling responded with a nonchalant murmur, "Pan Hu, escort Mr. Ding out."

    Pan Hu followed Ding Tai out, while Ming Yiyang stood by the window, observing the scene in the front yard. Finally, he asked the question that had been on his mind earlier, "Why is he so afraid of you?"

    Yan Qiling held his teacup and turned his gaze towards Ming Yiyang.

    The young man happened to look back at that moment. The sunlight from outside illuminated his silver hair and eyelashes, casting a radiant glow upon him. Amidst the floating specks of light, he resembled an otherworldly deity.

    This expression caused Yan Qiling to lose himself in thought for a rare moment.

    Ming Yiyang, however, misunderstood the situation and assumed that Ding Tai was making excuses:

    "Don't tell me it's because of Chi Zihe. Although he's my senior and boss, I'm well aware of his capabilities. When we had dinner before, I could tell that Ding Tai's relationship with him was merely based on superficial camaraderie over food and drinks. If there were any real conflicts of interest, he wouldn't have been so polite."

    "But Ding Tai treats you differently. He'd almost kneel to beg you to work for him. Even when you make demands like this, he'd only dare to curse under his breath and still end up taking your orders based on your mood."

    "Why would he act like a servant as an agent? What's the point?"

    Yan Qiling snapped out of his brief trance and hid his unease behind sipping his tea. Only after his lips touched the moist surface of the tea did he speak:

    "He's not afraid of me, but of Lin Yongjian."

    Ming Yiyang didn't understand at first, until Yan Qiling added a clarification:

    "Or perhaps someone similar to Lin Yongjian."

    Realization dawned on Ming Yiyang abruptly.

    Chi Zihe's previous remark – "Among those who like Yan Qiling, you're not the youngest, the kindest, or the most influential. Your looks are noteworthy, but you're not number one" – might not have been a mere joke.

    Back then, he didn't think much of it, but now, upon reflection, a bitter and sour sensation seemed to rise in his chest, making him clench his fists involuntarily.

    In the end, his curiosity about "those people" got the better of him, and he gritted his teeth to ask:

    "How do you think I look?"

    Yan Qiling was unsure why the conversation had suddenly taken this turn, so he answered honestly:

    "You look great, very photogenic and charismatic, perfect for magazine spreads."

    Ming Yiyang paused before asking again:

    "Am I the most attractive person you've ever met?"

    Yan Qiling put down his teacup, confused:

    "In which aspect?"

    The young man stepped before him, casting a fog-like shadow that fell directly upon him:

    "The allure you hold over me."


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