"Remember, you have a photo shoot to go to. Yili is a pretty important account. Don't worry about your new album. Just take your time. Ivan wants some cheerful songs on there," Ruby said. Since her first album, every song Debbie wrote was a sad one. While the ballads showcased her voice, Ivan figured they could market some more upbeat songs and increase her fan base. They wanted a younger skew.
Debbie nodded, "Got it. I'll give it a try."
Ruby shrugged. She had heard the same answer many times, but every time Debbie did the same sad, slow songs.
"Going to tae kwon do today?" Ruby asked. Since Piggy was three months old, Debbie had been diligently practicing tae kwon do and dance—almost every day. She wouldn't miss a session unless she was super busy.
Debbie shot a glance at Piggy and shook her head. "Not today. If Piggy's feeling better tomorrow, I'll go then." She didn't want to leave Piggy's side when she was sick.
"Okay. Gotta run. Oh by the way, don't forget Mr. Yu's anniversary party tonight."
Debbie was scrolling through comments from her fans on Weibo. Without looking up, she replied absentmindedly, "Can we not? Or maybe you can go for me?" She really hated these parties.
Ruby knew Debbie well. She patted her shoulder and said, "Of course not. You have to be there. Mr. Yu spared no expense to make sure you'd attend." Ruby smiled sadly. "It's the price of fame. You're the hottest singer right now."
'Mr. Yu...' Debbie suddenly thought of something and asked, "Is Mr. Yu a powerful man here?"
"Yeah. You've spent a lot of time and energy to make acquaintances with the rich and powerful in the past two years. You don't want to miss out on rubbing shoulders with Mr. Yu, do you?" Ruby didn't know why Debbie was keen on getting to know those rich and powerful, even including people in the underworld.
"All right. Tell Mr. Yu I'll be there."
Debbie took Piggy back home in the afternoon. After leaving her with a nanny, Debbie went to the hotel where the celebration was being held.
She arrived early and started talking with the guests.
At one point she overheard some girls talking. "I heard Mr. Yu invited a mysterious guest. Know who?"
"Of course! The guest's family name is Huo. But I don't know his first name."
Debbie took a sip of her wine and thought, 'Wow, there are a lot of people with the family name "Huo."'
When the celebration officially began, Debbie was invited up on stage to sing. Rather than one of her sad songs, she pulled a song from Irene's catalog and performed that instead. It had people nodding their heads to the beat, and if some of them paused long enough to listen to her pitch-perfect vocals, it didn't disrupt anything.
Debbie and Irene were the backbone of their record company. Debbie's songs were sad and slow, and Irene's were more pop-themed and much more upbeat.
When the song was done, the audience gave her a standing ovation that echoed throughout the whole venue.
As Debbie descended the stairs to leave the stage, many guests came up to her. She was used to the adulation, and she smiled and greeted them warmly.
Meanwhile, the gates of the hall were opened from the outside. People turned to look who it was. Hearing the murmurs of people around her, Debbie realized that Milo Yu's mystery guest had arrived.
But at this moment, her curiosity was overtaken by a sudden urge to get to the bathroom with all speed.
Something she ate didn't agree with her, and she had an upset stomach. She stayed there longer than ten minutes, hoping that she could banish the affliction quickly.
When she returned to the hall, the guest was the talk of the party. "He's so handsome! I didn't think it would be him!"
"Who's the girl on his arm?"
"His would-be fiancee, maybe. Who knows? Mr. Huo keeps his private life very private."
Mr. Huo? My Mr. Huo is Mr. Handsome, '
Debbie thought. A myriad of emotions flooded her heart and her mind.
In her high heels, she made her way through the crowd. There were more than a thousand people in the hall. As she wound her way around the people, she soon noticed several others being surrounded by the throng. 'That must be where the special guest is, ' she thought.
Somehow, her gut feeling kept telling her to get closer to them. She had to know. She continued to press through the horde of guests.
"Carlos Huo is married, isn't he?" someone asked.
Debbie was too shocked to move. Her world had been turned upside down. She was doing just fine without him. He was dead, and she was in exile.
I haven't heard his name in so long.
Why is someone talking about him?' she thought.
She became more and more uneasy and looked at the people who were talking about Carlos. They didn't notice Debbie and continued to gossip. "He was. But his wife cheated on him. They had a car accident, and he almost died protecting her. But she ran off with another guy. He was in a coma for a time, and then rehab to learn how to walk again."
"Oh my God! How sad! What about his wife?"
"I don't know. I've been out of the country for a while and just got back. But you bet everyone in Y City knows."
He had been in a coma for a time—these words were like a magical bell ringing in Debbie's head. She stood still, lost in her thoughts. 'But he was dead. I went to the funeral. I left, because there was no reason to stay. I was doing just fine, and now he's...not dead?'
When she broke out of her reverie, her host Milo Yu walked Carlos out.
Ignoring everyone's curious eyes, she lifted her dress to stop it from tripping her and rushed towards the entrance in a panic.
Debbie got there just in time to see Milo Yu closing the door of a luxurious car. The car window rolled down, revealing a woman's pretty face. "Thank you for your hospitality, Mr. Yu. We're going now."
A man was sitting next to the woman, but Debbie couldn't see his face.
The car left. Debbie snapped back to reality and grabbed Milo Yu's sleeve. In an anxious voice, she asked, "Mr. Yu, is that man... Carlos Huo?"
No one save Debbie herself knew how much courage it took for her to utter that name.
Milo Yu nodded. "Yes, it is. What's wrong?"
'Carlos...he's... he's still alive...' Her eyes misted with tears as she asked cautiously, "But I heard... he was dead..." She could barely talk at this point.
"Who told you that? He was injured in a car accident, and he's been recovering for the past couple years. Miss Nian, are you alright?"
'He didn't die... He's alive...' "I'm fine!" Debbie cried and laughed, which confused Milo Yu. He wondered if she was drunk, and he contemplated ordering some attendants to get her home to sleep it off. She was just too happy that Carlos was still alive.
Despite his confusion, Milo Yu shook his head and was about to walk back to the hall. After all, there were still many guests to attend to.
He had only walked a few steps before Debbie called his name. He stopped impatiently. She took a deep breath to calm down and asked in a polite manner, "Sorry for my rude behavior, Mr. Yu. Can you please tell me where Mr. Huo went?"
"Why do you ask?" he replied.
She came over to him and pleaded with a hopeful expression, "Mr. Yu, please. I have something very important to tell him."
Milo Yu was stunned for a while. Maybe he was touched by her pleading eyes, or maybe he was in a good mood this evening thanks to the party. Debbie was a hot singer, one of the rich and famous. It wouldn't do any harm, he told himself. He revealed to Debbie where Carlos was holed up.
Wiping her tears, Debbie bowed to him and said seriously, "Thank you, Mr. Yu. If you need anything at all, just ask."
Milo Yu stood there in shocked silence.
Debbie, on the other hand, pulled her phone from her purse and called her driver to pick her up. She was on her way to see Carlos for the first time in three years. On her way to see the man she had believed to be dead.