Chapter 178: Have You Liked Anyone Before?
Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
That coffee shop was located near the city center. When Xia Ling got there, she realized that Pei Ziheng had already arrived.
One look was enough for her to recognize him. In the dim light, he was sitting quietly beside a scenery window with a pot of untouched red tea near his hand. He slightly tilted his face towards the window and looked like he was deep in thought. Outside the window, there were lush broad-leaved trees and decorative waterfalls which caused him to seem warmer than usual. However, she knew that it was just the illusion of a resting tiger.
Xia Ling secretly took a deep breath and walked over.
“Ye Xingling,” He looked at her and the corner of his mouth curved into a smile that was completely different from the mad expression he had last night. “I’m glad you came.”
However, Xia Ling was not very happy. As she sat down on the seat opposite him, he fixated his gaze on her, making her feel pins and needles down back. Despite being nervous, she made up her mind and wanted to settle the situation quickly. Once she took the watch back, she would leave immediately.
He called for the waiter and asked her, “Do you want to drink anything?”
Not in a good mood, she glanced at the menu the waiter handed her absent-mindedly. As such, she casually said, “Lem…” After saying half of the word, she suddenly realized that in her past life, she used to love to drink lemonade. She was afraid of him noticing something, and in a panic, hurriedly changed her order. “One cup of Mandailing coffee, thank you.”
The waiter acknowledged her order and soon brought the coffee over.
Pei Ziheng looked at her and said, “You’re a singer. You have to take care of your voice. It is better if you drink less coffee on a daily basis.” His spoke calmly like he was having a casual conversation with a normal friend.
Usually, Xia Ling did not drink coffee because of this very reason. She also did not drink much of any other stimulating drinks. This was a habit that she developed by being around him for a long time in the past. In the blink of an eye, that long time had passed, and now she was no longer the same. She got out of her trance, lowered her head, and took a sip of the coffee. A bitter taste filled her mouth instantly, and she lowered her cup in reflexive response. She took a breath and her entire face frowned.
“Are you not used to the taste?” He inquired her.
How could Xia Ling dare to tell him that she usually did not drink Mandailing coffee? The only reason why she ordered that type of coffee was because it came to her mind that Wei Shaoyin loved it. After working with Wei Shaoyin for so long, whenever coffee was mentioned, she would think about Mandailing coffee first. Usually, when Wei Shaoyin drank it, his expression did not change. How would she know that it would be that bitter?!
She quickly dealt with Pei Ziheng’s question. “I’m used to the taste. I just forgot to add sugar.”
Pei Ziheng smiled.
Xia Ling did not dare to make eye contact with him and lowered her head as she tried to look for the sugar packet. However, just as she was about to take the sugar packet, Pei Ziheng snatched it away before she could.
She lifted her head and looked at him weirdly.
He lowered his eyes to concentrate on tearing open the sugar packet and helped her pour the sugar into the coffee. One packet was not enough, so he opened another packet. He did not stop until he opened about eight packets. “Try it,” he said. “Do you like the taste now?”
Xia Ling picked up the card and carefully took a sip. There was a very strong sweet taste, just the way she liked.
He glanced at her slightly and chuckled. “The coffee is so sweet, I really don’t know how you two can drink it.”
You two? Xia Ling was startled for a while. Suddenly, she realized who he was talking about. He was referring to her in this life and her in her past life. In her past life, she was afraid of bitter things and liked drinking sweet things. During the few times when she drank coffee, she would relentlessly add sugar into her coffee. She recalled that when she saw him last night, the drink stain on the sweater he was wearing was caused by him snatching away her sugar packet and knocking over a cup because he did not allow her to eat or drink anything as she pleased.
Now, they were sitting together like strangers. He also did not control her actions anymore and even personally opened the sugar packets one after another to satisfy her sweet tooth.
Xia Ling’s heart was very sorrowful and upset.
He asked the waiter for another glass of Mandailing coffee, added about eight packets of sugar to it like he did for her, and drank it mouthful by mouthful. The hot air rose, and his eyes were hidden in the mist. There was deep silence, and she could not clearly see him.
She remembered that he was very picky and really did not like sweet food. Furthermore, the coffee in her cup was not even of a normal sweetness level. Measured according to the standards of a typical person, it was sickeningly sweet. What was wrong with him today?
She could not help but ask him. “Do you like it?”
He looked at the drink in the glass for a long time before replying in a low voice, “It is very bitter.”
Xia Ling did not say anything. It was as if his expression was hiding indescribable grief, which caused her heart to feel sad as well. She silently lowered her head and refused to feel the sorrow. To divert his attention, she drank her coffee. It was supposed to have a sweet taste, but suddenly, it felt really bitter.
Just like the bitter past.
“Ye Xingling.” He called. “How about you join Imperial Entertainment?”
She was jerked back to reality. He was still the Boss of Imperial Entertainment who had his head high up in the air and had many intentions, while she was just a small artiste who was trivial and had no backing.
Xia Ling became more alert. “I’m part of Skyart Entertainment Mr. Pei. I’m very sorry.”
“I like it more when you called me ‘Pei Ziheng.'” He looked at her and softened his gaze.
“I don’t think that we are that close.” Xia Ling gently pushed the coffee glass away and leaned back.
“Do you know how many people desire the privilege to call me by my name?” He was neither resentful nor angry.
“Well, that does not include me.” Her tone became colder. He was right. Many outsiders only dared to call him “Mr. Pei” or “Director Pei.” Even those in the Pei family respectfully called him “Elder Pei,” “Uncle,” or “Senior Pei.” There were very few people who dared to call him by his actual name. Besides his rival, only she called him by his name.
However, the person she was today really wanted to keep the furthest distance she could away from him.
Didn’t he also not call her “Xiao Ling” anymore?
Ye Xingling was such an unfamiliar and polite way to address her. Suddenly, she felt that whether it was him or Feng Kun, Chu Chen or any other old acquaintances, they would never call her “Xiao Ling” like Li Lei or Ah Wei. Perhaps, in their hearts, she would never be able to match up to Xia Ling.
However, she and Xia Ling were literally the same person.
Were Pei Ziheng and Imperial Entertainment reluctant to give up because of her or an insubstantial illusion?
“Ye Xingling,” He addressed her with the same distant tone. “as long as you’re willing to join Imperial Entertainment, Skyart Entertainment is not a problem. I will handle all the penalties regarding the breach of your contract. All you need to do is agree.”
She looked at him and asked, “Why?”
He replied, “I really admire you.”
Xia Ling softly sneered. Liar. If Pei Ziheng really admired her, why would he hire people to kidnap her and heartlessly damage her vocal cords? “Pei Ziheng,” She started to get angry again. “you do not admire me. The only thing you admire is the illusion in your heart.”
After she said that, she really wished that he would refute her argument.
However, he did not.
He sat on a dark green leather sofa and looked at her quietly with a thoughtful expression.
Xia Ling’s heart started to sink.
“Pei Ziheng,” she said. “the person you like…” Was not her. However, she could not bear to say those last three words. She felt very uncomfortable and almost wanted to cry. What was this supposed to mean? Was she jealous of herself? No, that was not right… Did Pei Ziheng possibly even treat Xia Ling as an illusion? Otherwise, why was he not able to recognize her once she changed her appearance?
“The person you like…” It was difficult for Xia Ling the words. “Pei Ziheng, have you ever liked… anyone before?”