Li Mei did not call her mother immediately. She knew a lot of yelling would be involved, despite the fact she hadn't done anything wrong. So instead, she went straight to the windows. Zhou Jiao had been right about the view.
Because the room was on the highest floor, all most of the room's walls were made of glass. You could see far into the bay and the mountains behind it, and the setting sun cast an pinkish purple light over the city as lights came on in the buildings close to the hotel.
She sighed, and then decided to call her mom.
"Hello?" she said, when the ringing stopped. Her mom picked up but didn't say anything.
"What. Happened," said her mother. She didn't sound mad, which was even worse.
"Umm... what did you see?" said Li Mei. If her mother knew the whole thing, it meant that everyone knew what had happened with Mr. Wang.
"There's pictures of you all over the news sites! With that man, TJ or ZJ or whatever he's called. And the man you were supposed to meet was arrested! There's pictures of him being escorted out of the hotel by the police," said her mother, without pausing.
Li Mei didn't want to lie, but she knew what her mother thought of her acting career.
As the youngest sister, Li Mei was expected to follow in her sisters' footsteps. They had all studied and gotten married very young. Li Qiu, the eldest, had studied to become a forensic analyst, one of the first women back home to work in the police department as the lead analyst. Li Ning was an architect, and travelled the world with her famous architect husband. Li Mei, on the other hand, studied literature and drama, and chose the latter as her career path.
"Well? Are you going to speak?" said her mother, after Li Mei's voice seemed to be stuck in her throat.
"Mr. Wang made a pass on a lady before we met, and he was caught. I just ran into Zhou Jiao, or ZJ. There's nothing going on mother," she said. Just a half lie, or half truth.
"Your sister called me, too! She's in Brazil, in the inauguration of a museum, and someone sent her the link to a news site in portuguese! This is all over the world, Li Mei. How are you supposed to meet someone decent after everyone thinks you're dating that man? From what the news sites say, he's a well known womanizer, and even has two or three girlfriends right now!" said her mother. "I told you this was a bad idea. I think it's about time you reconsider what you're doing with your life. You were lucky that man didn't make a move on you. Get out of there and come back home immediately."
"My flight leaves tomorrow," said Li Mei. "Don't worry, mother. By tomorrow all of this will be old news. I promise I won't get into any more trouble."
That seemed to satisfy her mother, for now. She yelled at one of the seamstresses who worked in her shop, and hung up without saying goodbye.
After hanging up, Li Mei opened her suitcase and rummaged through it, looking for something to wear. Her yellow dress had been ruined, and now that she thought about it, she had no explanation for returning home without it. Giving her the dress had been her mother's way of meeting her half way, saying "if you're going to do this, even though I don't approve, you might as well do it in style."
She hadn't brought many clothes, since the trip was only for one day, and then she'd be going home and leaving again soon. The movie she was supposed to be filming was called Wings of Glory, and since it was a period piece, its location was in a remote town in the mountains. But that was now out of the question.
The only thing in her suitcase that could be salvaged was her trustworthy black dress. She changed into it and put on some makeup. The cut on her forehead was barely visible, but she'd also have to think of something to tell her mother about it. That, or she could hide in her apartment and refuse to see her for a few days until it faded away.
She sat on the giant bed and looked up ZJ, cringing when she saw the photos the paparazzi had taken. Her face looked surprised, contorted and ugly in all of them. Zhou Jiao, on the other hand, looked like the star he was, despite the fact he hadn't even been posing.
Saying he was a star was an understatement. As the former lead singer of the popular pop group X boys, he had gained international recognition and sold millions of records worldwide. After the group disbanded, he was the only one who was able to maintain a solo career. He was now going into acting, working in his family's production company. That was probably why Zhou Yu, his cousin, was here with him.
Then she read the gossip sites, that linked him to dozens of models, singers and actresses. One was even a Victoria's Secret model! How could anyone think she, of all people, would be dating someone like ZJ when he could pick and choose from those gorgeous women?
The sun went down and the lights in the room automatically turned on. She ignored all the other notifications on her phone, not wanting to deal with them. First she had to come to terms with the fact that her acting career was probably over before it began in earnest, and then she'd deal with the aftermath of the incident.
Actually, she first had to get over the dinner.
As if on cue, someone knocked on the door. This time, she opened it without asking who it was, knowing Mr. Wang was safely in the custody of the police.
"Ms. Li, I was wondering if we could have a word before we went down to the private restaurant," said Zhou Yu with his characteristic coldness.
"Oh, hello! Yes, please come in," said Li Mei, making way for him to pass. She caught a whiff of his perfume, which smelled expensive, just like everything he wore. Now that she was calmer, she noticed his polished shoes and the luxury watch on his wrist. Even his cufflinks were of a designer brand.
Her mother always said that the really rich don't dress to call attention to themselves, and this was just the case for Zhou Yu. His attire was probably worth thousands, but he still looked just like a normal, albeit elegant, business man.
Zhou Yu stepped inside the room and went straight towards the dining table. In his hands, he carried a folder.
Without waiting for Li Mei to join him, he opened it and took out some papers.
"I want to offer you the part that you were supposed to get in Mr. Wang's movie. He has been removed from his position, and until someone else can take over, I will be in charge," he said, passing Li Mei a fountain pen and the contract.
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