Chapter 8.16 & 8.17
Romeo has won the best photo prize twice, his rapid rise has attracted the hostility of all the players. They deliberately snubbed him, but found that he didn’t seem to care about this. He ate, slept, and trained with more energy than anyone else, and he only talked to Ivana, everyone else wasn’t even on his radar. They didn’t know that he wasn’t deliberately ignoring everyone, he was just too lazy to pay attention to them.
The feeling of futility was really terrible. The players quickly stopped their pointless efforts and focused on the game.
One morning, a player found a note on the TV which read – it takes great courage to set foot on the runway, do you have it?
What does that mean? Certainly, it must be a challenge project to test everyone’s courage and scare them out of the game? The players felt an ominous premonition. Zhou Yun Sheng made two sandwiches, took two bottles of milk, and walked to the luxury bus with Ivana to wait for departure.
When everyone boarded the bus, the driver saw that the departure time was approaching and turned around and asked, “All in?”
Everyone looked at each other and found that Emily and Hayden weren’t among them, presumably, they’d partied too hard last night and overslept. But no one wanted to say it, they nodded, “We’re here, you can go.”
Only the driver knew where the challenge location was today, if Emily and Hayden didn’t catch up, since they couldn’t use the phone or a computer to get the address, they would definitely miss the game and lose points.
In this increasingly competitive state of affairs, no one was willing to help their opponents.
Zhou Yun Sheng also didn’t want to remind the driver, but he now had a ‘crush on’ Hayden, he couldn’t be heartless to Hayden. He was about to speak when Ivana covered his mouth. The two struggled for a moment, then Zhou Yun Sheng finally broke free of Ivana’s shackles and shouted, “Please wait driver! Hayden and Emily aren’t here, I’ll go up and call them.”
The driver glanced at his watch and warned, “Hurry up, you have 10 minutes, 10 minutes. If you don’t come back by then, I have to leave, and you won’t be able to participate in today’s challenge.” The program group had anticipated a latecomer eventually, so they’d told him in advance to ignore them. This was to highlight the competition’s strictness and fairness.
“Yes, thank you sir.” Romeo immediately got off and raced towards the villa.
The contestants complained about Romeo’s foolishness.
Although Ivana was very upset, she still defended him, “Yes, Romeo is an idiot. But I want such a fool for a friend. At least when I’m in trouble, he won’t add insult to injury. Even when he’s dealing with the enemy, he’s straightforward and upright. If there were more fools like Romeo, the world would be better and fresher for it.”
The players quieted down, ‘friends’, backstabbing and infighting was commonplace among them. They suddenly really envied Ivana.
Romeo guides her, helps her, taking care of her in every possible way, and she spared no effort to defend Romeo. The friendship between them was worthy of jealousy.
Perhaps in the eleven people left, only Romeo was a pure person. Although his tongue was sharp, he’d never done anything to cause real harm to the interests of others. He had become more and more silent recently, and seemed unwilling to trust anyone but Ivana.
There was silence in the bus.
Zhou Yun Sheng sprinted at top speed into the villa, his cameraman, John, was left in the dust. He panted and sighed in his heart, “Romeo looks fragile but has the body and stamina of an athlete. To have talent, a good character and a good physique, he really is perfect! My idol is the best!”
“Emily, Hayden, get up! You only have ten minutes, ten minutes to catch the bus, or else today’s challenge is forfeit. If you miss it, you’ll have less points than all the other players, you’ll be eliminated this episode.” He knocked on the door and quickly laid out the seriousness of the situation.
Emily and Hayden almost jumped out of bed, they opened their door and hurriedly rushed to the bathroom to brush their teeth. While Emily dressed, she caught a glimpse of Hayden’s stuff on the table and a crazy idea suddenly popped up in her mind. The cameraman was following Romeo and Hayden, no one was paying attention to her, and the wardrobe and desk was to the right corner of the surveillance camera, she was in a blind spot.
Do it! You can get rid of two opponents! No, maybe even three! Hurry up, there’s no time! As the devil on her shoulder urged, Emily gritted her teeth, quickly picked up the diamond cross necklace from the table and hid them in Hayden’s jeans pocket, as deep as it could go. Then she anxiously shouted, “Romeo, Hayden’s backpack is unpacked, can you help him?”
Zhou Yun Sheng ran into the room and looked around to find Hayden’s items, but, the necklace his grandmother had left him, a diamond cross necklace worth about 500,000, was missing. Every time before a game, Hayden would kiss this necklace for good luck, otherwise it didn’t feel right. He instantly understood Emily’s plan and immediately opened the AI’s scan function to see if the diamond necklace was still in the room.
007 issued a beep only its master could hear, then projected a four-dimensional hologram, marking the position of the diamond necklace with a red dot.
Emily is indeed the heroine, her scheming mind is worthy. Zhou Yun Sheng inwardly sighed, but he put on a very anxious expression. He immediately opened Hayden’s backpack and swept all the scattered items on the table into it.
Hayden walked in after washing his face to see this scene, he gave him a ferocious stare, grabbed his backpack and pulled Emily downstairs.
John, who had faithfully recorded this scene, mouthed out a ‘ you’re really stupid ‘ to the awkward teenager, then motioned him to get going.
The latecomers finally caught up to the bus in the last second, and Ivana finally pulled in her neck that was stretched out of the window and gave the boy a good whack.
Half an hour later, the luxury bus pulled up to A Country’s tallest high-rise building. Miss Jeffrey led the players into the building with an odd smile. The elevator climbed straight up to the top floor and stopped. With a little ding-dong, it opened up to Bonnie and Acheson standing side by side alongside a glass-covered transparent dome.
“Hello my darlings, today’s challenge might have some difficulties.” Bonnie smiled and adjusted the camera in her hand. Acheson also had one hung around his neck, it seemed that they were responsible for the photography today.
Everyone followed Jeffrey’s guidance to an empty hall, after a few steps, a female contestant screamed in terror. Not only was the dome transparent, even the floor was tempered glass, they could clearly see the ground a few hundred meters below, the people and the crowed traffic looked like ants. This kind of view made the scalp tingle in vertigo.
Hayden felt so weak-kneed that he couldn’t stand up. Emily felt shamed, she whispered through her clenched teeth, “Bonnie’s looking at you tough guy, do you want to be ridiculed by Bonnie? Do you want her to put a picture of you next to the definition of coward in the dictionary? If you don’t want that, stand up quickly, don’t look down.”
Hayden struggled to his feet and lifted his chin in weak defiance. He had a hunch, today’s challenge was probably impossible for him to complete. Dammit, why does it always have to be a high altitude challenge? Are they deliberately targeting me?
Yes, this was a challenge Gustav deliberately arranged for Hayden. He felt satisfied seeing Kitten frown at the uncomfortable Hayden. Look at him baby, is this kind of coward worth your love? To borrow Ivana’s phrase – please polish your eyes a little!
Zhou Yun Sheng was way ahead of him. He was laughing in his heart, but he exposed a worried and disappointed expression on the surface, once again using the program group to refine his superb acting skills.
When the contestants finally adapted to the transparent floor, Bonnie began to talk “Today’s challenge is a photo shoot. I, Mr. Acheson, Mr. Cérall, and Mr. Becket will be your photographers, occupying the four cardinal directions. What you’re wearing, what you’ll do, and where you’re going to shoot will remain a mystery. You have to go outside and find three small pieces of paper taped to the beams to get the exact instructions. Please be sure to keep up a model’s perfect runway walk as you go. Okay, who’s first?”
The contestants looked out at the circular promenade, showing their horror. There was no guardrail, the floor was tempered glass, and the wind was very rough, easily able to push people around. If you accidentally fell, you would become meat sauce.
Oh, my God, the program group wants to murder us! Even the players that didn’t have a fear of heights were moaning in terror.
“Oh come on now, I wouldn’t be so cruel.” Bonnie said after appreciating their distorted expressions. “There are staff out there looking after you and they’ll tie a safety rope on you. Even if you fall down, they’ll pull you back in time. Think of this challenge as bungee jumping.”
Who the fuck wants to bungee jump! You can do it! The players threw a tantrum in their hearts then collectively stepped back (except for Ivana and Romeo the two freaks).
“Okay, the brave ones appeared. Ivana, Romeo, who’s the first victim?”
“Me (Me)” Zhou Yun Sheng and Ivana raised their hands simultaneously.
“Okay, we’ll ignore ladies first this once and put Romeo first.” Bonnie smiled and patted the boy’s shoulder. The boss had already walked out to the circular promenade outside and was discussing with the staff.
Gustav repeatedly confirmed that there was no problem with the safety measures before allowing his Kitten to be tied up, he softly asked, “Are you afraid of heights?”
“I’m not afraid.” Zhou Yun Sheng shook his head.
“Then what are you afraid of?”
“I’m afraid of loneliness.” A wisp of wind almost swept away this sentence, but Gustav still heard it. His heart stung bitterly.
“Go on.” You’ll never be alone, I’ll always be waiting behind you. Under the camera’s eye, he couldn’t say his innermost thoughts out loud, he could only give the boy an encouraging hug.
Zhou Yun Sheng smiled at him and strode out. He didn’t pay attention to the drop under his foot, he just concentrated on the beams on the roof. Sure enough, he saw a note stuck to the steel bar as he approached. He reached out to it, but he wasn’t tall enough to touch it, he could only jump up to untie the string on the note.
A gust of wind blew over him and his body, suspended in the air, slightly tilted, making his landing very shaky.
The contestants were terrified by this thrilling scene, they clutched their mouths and screamed. Hayden had pulled away from the crowd and was hugging the wall by the elevator. Only the ground around the elevator had a solid marble floor, blocking the view of the high altitude and giving him a little sense of security.
Gustav was horrified by that scene, he almost ran over to pull Kitten into his arms. He deeply blamed himself for coming up with such a dangerous idea. His face maintained a tensed elegant expression, hiding a layer of cold sweat behind it, his palm was almost dripping sweat.
Bonnie walked up to him and teased in schadenfreude, “Are you okay? Boss? I thought I just saw you tremble a bit?”
Gustav whispered, “Whose idea was it to tie the paper so high? Don’t you know it’s dangerous? He was almost blown away.” God knew how his heart almost exploded.
“Jeffrey.” Bonnie heartlessly betrayed her teammate, “He said that tying it up high will make us see the contestants’ twisted terrified faces, maybe someone will curl up and cry. The scene would be very interesting and pull in high ratings.”
Gustav coldly glared at the cheerfully snickering Jeffrey.
Zhou Yun Sheng was even an immortal with martial arts flying skills once, walking at this high-altitude was a cake walk. He soon finished a lap and found the three sheets of paper.
The first note listed a white shirt and jeans, the second note was a guitar, and the third note said South.
He immediately ran into the dressing room, picked out a white shirt and jeans and asked for a guitar from the prop master, then he ran into the styling room to have the stylists tidy his makeup. He walked to the south shooting location, looking shy and fresh like a high school student.
If his Aunt hadn’t embezzled the inheritance his parents had left him, Romeo would now be in high school, rather than running around and participating in a TV show.
“Hello Mr. Acheson, I’m ready to take my photos.” He smiled at the tall man who was adjusting his camera.
Gustav pretended to just notice him and stood up to shake his hands and instruct, “Sit on this high chair, I’ll take care of your photos. The judges will judge the pros and cons of your best photo in this challenge. Rest assured, I’m not only a model, I’m also a professional photographer. My works have won gold medals in the International Photography Competition.”
Zhou Yun Sheng gave an impressed expression, his blue eyes full of worship.
Gustav tried to maintain a serious expression, to stop himself from laughing like a fool. He took out his cell phone and asked, “Do you want to see my works?” He liked having the teenager look at him as if they were the only two people in the world.
Zhou Yun Sheng actually wanted to finish his pictures quickly, but in order to placate the producer’s vanity, he had to say that he was happy to oblige.
Gustav showed off his most proud works, animals, scenery, but no people. He never photographed people, he felt that there was no one in the world who deserved to be remembered and leave a never-fading image in his mind. They would disappear sooner or later, and he would exist long after them.
This idea was arrogant and absurd, but it was firmly rooted in his soul. But now, things were different. He frantically collected all the teenager’s images, like a voyeur, hiding in the dark study, obsessively re-playing his game footage over and over. He was fascinated by his every move. And, as he stood beside him, his fuzzy little head within arm’s reach, his warm breath was tickling his wrist, causing every one of his muscles to tremble with excitement. He needed to devote all his self-control to suppress his desire to embrace the boy.
Zhou Yun Sheng was surprised, he didn’t expect Gustav Acheson’s photography skills would be so great. He would always use the most unique perspective to shoot the most unique photos, like a bystander in the world’s parade, sober and indifferent. The man’s heart was completely different from his appearance.
A classic case of don’t judge a book.
He looked at the man’s face with probing eyes.
Gustav felt his body burning up, but he caught a glimpse of a male player completing his task and running toward his position, so he had to end his close contact with Kitten.
“If I have the opportunity, I’ll take you to my photo studio to have a look at my best works over the years. Okay, let’s get to work.” He picked up the camera and made a little adjustment.
Zhou Yun Sheng was flattered and smiled, then he seated himself in the high chair under his instructions, and bowed his head to the guitar strings.
“I’m ready to shoot whenever you’re all set,” Gustav lifted his camera and said, “Can you play the guitar? Sing a song for me.”
Singing was also one of Zhou Yun Sheng’s professions. He almost missed playing music whenever he wanted. He spit out a string of French poetry, about how a rural boy fell in love with a noble beautiful lady, day and night, his yearning thoughts made him grow exhausted, and he poured out his pain in a sad song. The sound was bleak, like a natural echo in an empty hall.
Gustav was completely immersed in Kitten’s song, but he didn’t forget to capture his sad or happy or quiet expressions with the camera. He felt that he loved him a little more every day, and there was no limit to his love in sight.
After a triumphant finish, everyone in the hall warmly applauded, even Hayden’s face was slightly ruddy.
“Romeo, my beloved Romeo, how many wonderful surprises can you bring me? Your song was fantastic, if you sign up for A Country Idol, you would definitely win!” Bonnie walked over and warmly embraced the boy, Ivana whistled and shouted praise again.
Zhou Yun Sheng waved, saying not to disturb everyone’s shooting, then carried the guitar back to the props. The players had a new understanding of Romeo’s talents, even their jealousy felt fruitless. But, they wouldn’t easily throw in the towel, so they immediately put aside the distraction to complete their task.
Romeo’s more and more outstanding performance left Emily with a serious sense of crisis. He could play the guitar and sing, and his skill level wouldn’t lose to professional singers. If this episode broadcasted, she could imagine how much the audience would go crazy for the boy. There were a lot of beautiful people, but beautiful and talented people were rare, the occasional talent led to fanatical pursuit from everyone.
Isn’t Gustav Acheson the perfect example of this? So you better quickly knock out Romeo!
With this thought, she hurriedly walked to Hayden’s side and dragged him to the middle of the hall.
“Dear, you can’t escape any longer, everyone is almost done with their task, you’re the only one left. Do you know how many viewers are watching you on TV? Do you want to be eliminated? Do you want to be a laughingstock? Don’t give them the chance!”
Her words finally played a role. Hayden slowly walked up to the transparent glass.
“Holy fuck, that’s terrible!” He wailed, trying to grab the cross necklace on his chest for a kiss, but he remembered that he was in too much of a rush this morning and forgot to put it on. He quickly went to his backpack, but was terrified to find that his necklace had disappeared. It was his grandmother’s heirloom, both its market and sentimental value was priceless.
“My necklace is gone, have you seen it? I took it off and put it on the table before my bath last night.” He forgot his fear and grabbed Emily’s thin arm to question her.
“I don’t know. This morning, Romeo helped pack your things, you should ask him.” Emily cleverly fanned the flames.
It was Romeo, he must have stolen the necklace. Hayden had long harbored a grudge against the youth, so he immediately put the blame on his head, he clenched a fist and rushed in. He was trembling in fear for a long time, his nerves was on the brink of collapse, he now only needed a small reason to set him off, he forgot all about the rules.
Zhou Yun Sheng felt a strong wind rushing toward his ear and quickly shifted his head to avoid the heavy punch by the skin of his teeth. Standing beside him, Ivana was enraged, she lifted her foot to kick, but he tightly hugged her.
“Don’t fight back, the program group strictly prohibits any physical conflict. As long as we fight, we will be unconditionally eliminated.” He whispered in Ivana’s ear.
Ivana abruptly held herself back, and the two ran into the corner for shelter, Hayden following them with his fists clenched. The contestants saw the scene but no one came forward to stop it. They couldn’t wait for the three people to fight, then be eliminated together.
Gustav heard the commotion and looked up from his shooting, his face extremely gloomy. He quickly ran over and pulled Hayden away, then gathered the scared Kitten into his arms.
“Baby, are you all right?” In the confusion, no one noticed his ambiguous call. He held Kitten’s chin, repeatedly twisting his face around, even caressing his scalp to see if there was a lump. Gustav was more frightened than his Kitten, his heart thumped wildly and he actually felt a sharp pain.
Bonnie and Jeffrey rushed over with the staff to hold Hayden down.
Hayden struggled as he roared, “He’s a thief! He stole my grandmother’s heirloom! A diamond cross necklace, worth at least 500,000! I want to call the police, I want to ban him, I want him to quit the fashion circle forever!”
Nobody paid attention to his screaming, Gustav was lifting his Kitten’s jacket, checking for any bruises on his back. At the moment, he couldn’t wait to kill Hayden.
Yes, he’ll let Hayden understand what it meant to be banned and never set foot in the fashion circle.
“Take him to the lounge.” He waved, motioning the staff to take Hayden away. He pulled the pale Kitten to follow him, this matter had to be dealt with strictly.
After the crowd left, Emily pouted, showing a disappointment expression. She thought that Romeo would resist Hayden’s attack, if she was lucky, Ivana would join in, and the three people would be eliminated for violating the rules. But Romeo unexpectedly held the restless Ivana and hid in the corner, not even returning any of Hayden’s punches.
Is he too cowardly or too calm? If it was the latter, then he would be a terrible enemy! As for the necklace hidden in Hayden’s pocket, Emily knew that the staff would go back to search, in order to uphold this program’s reputation, they would certainly thoroughly check things out. At that time, she’d thought of simply throwing the necklace into the toilet, to completely eliminate evidence, but she was worried that Romeo and his inseparable cameraman would capture her on film. The results showed that her concern was necessary, otherwise after Hayden and the police eliminated Romeo as a suspect, the police would doubt her next.
After so much trouble she could only get rid of Hayden, Emily felt very depressed, but she bucked up after reminding herself that there would be future opportunities.
In the lounge, Gustav was hugging Kitten, and Hayden was pressed by the staff into the opposite chair, shouting out ‘Thief, bastard, street urchin’ and so on.