Xia Yu walked in from outside the screen, wearing a tailored one-piece black dress. The simple cut of the dress perfectly shaped her well-proportioned body. Her face was pale, shoulders narrow and skinny, and looked ever so pitiful.
She walked to Chu Chen’s side and took over the microphone as she continued, “My older sister was a great person. She was a perfectionist and gave herself much pressure to do well.” She lifted her eyes, which were blurry with tears and filled with pain. “My sister once said that she loved Imperial Entertainment, and she loved all her fans. She needed to show everyone the best she could achieve. Hence, she worked very hard. Even in this year or so that she was receiving treatment for depression, she would still secretly practice her singing and dancing, and continue composing music…”
The sounds of sobbing rose from all around the square.
If it were not for the fact that Xia Ling had seen Xia Yu’s real colors, and had been insulted so badly by the most degrading words that came out from her mouth, watching this performance today would make Xia Ling believe that her “good sister” loved her deeply.
She should have known. Xia Yu could match up to any Oscar-winning actress.
Xia Yu’s heartwrenching performance moved the entire audience. Whether it was on screen or off screen, countless were crying alongside her. Her identity made her performance even more compelling. Some discussed softly in between their crying—
“She is Xia Ling’s blood-related sister, whatever she says must be true. It looks like Xia Ling was really depressed and…”
“Yeah, Xia Ling always mentioned Xia Yu in interviews and said that they had a really tight relationship. Whatever Xia Yu said must be true.”
“It looks like we were all wrong. There was no murder. Xia Ling was simply sick and could not take the pressure, so she committed suicide.”
Xia Ling listened to the discussions and could only give a bitter smile. Was this called digging her own grave? She used to trust Xia Yu with all her heart and poured out all her love and protection onto her skinny and sickly sister. Whether it was in interviews or during fan meetings, she would always mention her sister, her words reflecting pride and closeness for her sister. All of Xia Ling’s fans knew that Xia Yu was a precious gem in Xia Ling’s eyes.
As a result, they all thought that Xia Yu felt the same way about her older sister.
Xia Yu was crying her heart out on screen.
Some staff came on stage to help her come down the stage.
The video feed switched over to show snippets of Xia Ling’s journey since debuting in chronological order. Many classic tunes coupled with classic moments of her time in the limelight were shown. Grand and sophisticated, telling of the glorious time that Xia Ling enjoyed at the top of the industry.
Xia Ling had never taken a moment to admire all that she had filmed before. In her past life, she was always busy. Busy singing a new song, busy filming a new commercial, busy accepting another award, busy attending another party. She also had to take care of Xia Yu and to deal with all the grievances she had with Pei Ziheng.
Until today, when it all became things of the past, Xia Ling stood in the middle of the crowd, looking up at the diva that she once was. That diva in the screen had an exquisitely beautiful face and beautiful eyes that were full of spirit. Between her brows, there was an air of seduction and arrogance, and her every movement had charm.
A staff working in the industry had once said in an interview that it was hard to say if editing Xia Ling’s video clips were easy or difficult. The easy part was that any footage was good enough for the final cut, and the difficult part was that there were so many great moments that it was hard to pick and choose.
Many were jealous of Xia Ling, and many had said hurtful things about her. But nobody denied the fact that she was blessed.
And that attitude of not caring in the least about anything, like she had never felt or been hurt before.
She remembered that year when Pei Ziheng brought her home and lifted her face in his hands. He had said, “This perfect face should not have an ounce of worry or darkness.”
Pei Ziheng gave her the best of everything and fulfilled all of her requests. He spent a fortune hiring the best teachers to teach her etiquette, music, performance, and dance. For her, he had sent Xia Yu to the best hospitals in the world for treatment. He had hired a personal assistant and nutritionist to tend to her daily needs… His office was out of bounds to anyone without an appointment, only she could enter as she pleased…
Everyone had seen how much Pei Ziheng had doted on her.
Many people started to suck up to Xia Ling and made sure that she got all that she wanted. As she became pickier, her temper and willfulness worsened. Yet, Pei Ziheng still smiled and spoiled her rotten. Eventually, the day after she turned 17, he called for Feng Kun and Chu Chen and said, “You’re the best producer and manager in the industry. I’m handing my baby over to you.”
The next year, when the flowers were in full bloom, Xia Ling made her debut and shot to stardom.
Critics in the media said that there had never been another who was the perfect combination of seduction and holiness, arrogance and innocence.
Pei Ziheng had hugged her in his arms while watching the news, bending his head over as he kissed her. He said, “I told you I would make you the most popular artiste in the world.”
Xia Ling then had only gratitude and admiration for him. Now that she thought back, it could have been all a game to him from the very start. He had spent immense amounts of time and money, only to create the Xia Ling what he wanted — the ideal artiste and the ideal lover.
As a result, when she tried to escape from his clutches and from the path that he had laid out for her, he had lost it completely.
Did he ever really love her?
The melody of the songs whirled past her ears as she could no longer make out which song it was and when she had sung it. She stood in the crowd immersed in memories of the past. Until, all of a sudden, the camera feed switched abruptly on the big screen. She saw the face that she would never forget for the rest of her life.
His high nose and thin lips. His handsome yet charismatic face. His whole package was God-like.
He was wearing a low-key but formal suit, just like he always did when attending an important event. His metal grey tie was perfectly tied, and the intricate buttons on his shirt and cuffs were perfectly tailored. The expensive, hand-sewn tailored suit made his stature look even taller and perfect. Even through the camera lenses, his presence was immeasurable.
The atmosphere in the square seemed to have come to a momentary standstill.
Xia Ling looked up at him stunned. In the next instance, a deep-rooted fear from her bones flooded through her body as she felt her knees buckle slightly. She took a step backward and accidentally stepped on someone’s foot. That person cursed at her loudly, but she was in no mood to care.
Lu Tao stretched out his arm to catch hold of her. He asked, “Ye Xingling, are you alright? You…”
Xia Ling shut her eyes quickly, using all of her willpower to not think about that face she was so terrified of. It seemed that even after experiencing death and reincarnation, even in the body of another, the hurt from deep in her soul could not be destroyed or diminished.
She thought that seeing him again would make her feel pain and sadness. Yet, it made her feel more fearful and terrified.
Lu Tao’s hands gripped onto Xia Ling’s arm tightly. The warmth and strength passed through his palm helped her slowly calm down. She told herself repeatedly in her head. Xia Ling, you have already been reborn. You are now Ye Xingling, you will not be locked up in a bungalow having to respond to that person’s beck and call anymore. You are now thousands of miles away from him, a completely different person. You are safe, safer than you have ever been before.
The noise in her surroundings returned to her ears.
Then, she heard Pei Ziheng’s speech. His voice was lower and more hoarse than usual, his words formal and politically-correct, completely in a monotone. “What Imperial Entertainment has lost was not just Xia Ling, but a complete generation.”
The cameras all around him flashed without stopping. There were people screaming, and others crying out loud in anguish. Some even passed out completely. Pandemonium broke out momentarily from his one sentence and the camera focus quickly switched out again. Live broadcasts from all over the world flashed across the big screen, every scene depicting chaos. That one sentence from Pei Ziheng had made the volcano of emotions everywhere erupt.
He stood in the middle of the storm, calm and quiet.