After the few people reached a consensus, the contestants were summoned to hear the decision.
“For special reasons, we’ve decided to cut Romeo’s total shots. In short, you will still enjoy your thirty chances, but he only has five shots. If in those five chances he doesn’t take a wonderful photo, he’ll fall to the bottom rank and the program group will unconditionally eliminate him.”
As Bonnie’s voice faded, the contestants cheered. Emily raised her hand and asked, “The judges made this decision, is it because Romeo was cheating in the competition? If so, he should be directly eliminated, not given five chances. This decision itself is unfair.”
Gustav’s icy glare cut into her, and Bonnie looked at her harshly before opening. “I can use my own reputation and life to guarantee that Romeo has never cheated in this game, and the program group and the judges have never opened a back door for him. He made it this far by relying on his own strength. Some people think that it’s fair of us to make such a decision, but in my opinion, it’s simply a crime to use despicable means to stifle a talented and brilliant future star. I feel very sad that our society has fallen to the point where we can’t even tolerate the talented!”
She moved her gaze from Emily’s frozen body and slowly looked at the other contestants, then she continued “If you win the game, you shouldn’t be proud, you should be ashamed. Because you’re not relying on your own strength to win, you’re taking advantage of others. Like if a healthy man forces a lame man to compete in a sprint, even if the healthy man rushes to the finish line, he doesn’t deserve cheers, he deserves ridicule! This is a serious violation of the principle of fair play.”
She said this then pulled Romeo into her bosom and assured, “Romeo, making this so unfair was not my intention, but I believe you can persist to the end. You’re awesome, I love you!”
“Thank you.” Zhou Yun Sheng hugged her back, his eyes curved in a real smile.
Gustav couldn’t intimately communicate with the teenager, even a hug was off-limits. He could only try to stay away from him, to no longer give others an excuse to attack him. He inserted his hands into his trouser pockets, seemingly indifferent, but his fists were trembling.
Ivana also stepped up to embrace the boy, followed by a male player who had recently developed a closer relationship with Romeo. The other players stood in place, embarrassed.
They were shamed by Bonnie’s words. Outsiders didn’t know, but the people involved understood that Romeo didn’t use any cheats, he’d relied on his own strength to make it so far. When he entered the photo shoot state, his overbearing and prevalent charm was irresistible.
Even if he only had five shots, he would still have the same extremely beautiful photos. So, if they once again lost to him, they would be ridiculed by the audience, and it would be even more embarrassing.
The people who were just gloating had stopped, completely out of laughter.
After Bonnie left, she posted the video on the official website, many people agreed with her sympathetic words for Romeo. Romeo’s excellence was obvious, if given the opportunity, he would be able to climb to the glorious top. Because of some people’s despicable jealousy, a talented young man was being strangled, is this the so-called fairness? How ridiculous!
Public opinion tilted towards Romeo, and he didn’t have the slightest dip in fans, in fact, the number doubled again. The public was often more willing to sympathize with the weak. Although Romeo was not weak, anyone could see that he was being treated unfairly.
Calls for the higher-ups in ABC, the ones who’d made the decision, to eat shit abounded, and someone really did wrap up a mass of stool and mailed it to the ABC headquarters.
Gustav finally responded to the matter on his personal homepage. He didn’t give a lengthy explanation to appease the fans, he only simply wrote – The darkness in some people’s hearts has made me very disappointed.
Everyone could see that he was condemning the fans who’d suppressed Romeo. In life, who doesn’t have a particularly good friend or a special appreciation for someone else, what was the big deal? Why use such despicable means to hurt each other?
Romeo’s fans felt a little less resentful of him, and his fans began to panic, realizing that their behavior might have been too much. An idol’s words were powerful, the uproar suddenly subsided, and the program group received many letters of apology.
But the decision was already made, they couldn’t turn it back. Romeo still only had five opportunities, and the whole shooting process was live, the results could no longer be doubted. As the episode time was only 50 minutes, Bonnie removed the side challenges and increased the difficulty of the final shootings.
This was a live broadcast ah, meaning, the audience will immediately see your every move. If you do something ugly, the program group had no way to cover for you. This made the players cold sweat in nervousness.
Gustav no longer served as the photographer, he even stopped appearing in the studio. Bonnie stood alone in the open space, watching the stiff players.
“The original challenge was for two players to pick each other’s clothing, style and shooting venue, then pair up. But since Romeo only has five chances, this would be very unfavorable for his partner, so I changed the theme to……”
“No, just shoot it the same way. I’ll be Romeo’s partner.” Ivana suddenly raised her hand and said.
The cameraman targeted her, and the audience before the TV instantly stirred.
Bonnie knew that she was going to face a lot of sudden challenges, but she didn’t expect the first person to challenge her would be Ivana. But, she had a hunch that she would be very happy with the next few events.
Ivana hugged her girlfriend’s shoulder and said bluntly, “Five shots is enough. How far Romeo goes is how far I’ll go. I don’t want to remain on a show where he is eliminated for bullshit reasons.”
You go girl, shout it out! Bonnie had felt her face stinging in pain when she had to deliver such a shit verdict to Romeo, even though it was either that or eliminate him.
The audience praised Ivana’s straightforwardness and loyalty, then they greatly ridiculed the ABC executives and Gustav’s fans. The two groups were now particularly hated on the Internet, even Gustav’s popularity falling.
But no one knew, Gustav not only didn’t feel depressed, he was happy to see things progress this way. He wanted everyone to support Romeo, as for his fans, sorry, he no longer cared what they thought. He wanted to live for himself.
Bonnie coughed and confirmed again. “Have you considered this fully? Five shots, no more.”
“I have nothing to think about, I’m only willing to partner with Romeo.” Ivana curled her lip.
Zhou Yun Sheng chuckled and gave Ivana a solid hug.
“Okay then, we’ll work as planned. See those murals? There are three styles, you’ll come to me and draw straws, then choose your clothing and style according to the mural you get. Afterwards, you’ll stand in front of the mural for your photo shoot. The group who can integrate their style and the mural into one will be this episode’s TOP1.”
The contestants looked back and found that the studio had really put up a huge murals. The wall was divided into three pieces, one was a fairy tale style, painted with colorful mushrooms, like Alice in Wonderland, there were all kinds of lovely animals, it looked very dreamlike.
One side had an abstract style, a variety of gorgeous colors converged together, giving of a messy, passionate, aggressive feeling.
The last one was the simplest, there was almost no style, just two colors, the left was black and the right side was white, the middle of the black and white blended to write out ‘FREEDOM’.
The players stared at the wall, making up their own plans.
Bonnie took out a little bag and asked the partners to send a representative to draw a straw. Emily’s group got the fairy tale mural. She laughed amusingly, it seemed that she was satisfied with the wall.
Zhou Yun Sheng sent Ivana to draw, the choice of wall didn’t matter for him. Maybe people thought that five shots were pitiful, but it was more than enough for him. His brain’s computing power was no less than 007, just glancing at the venue gave him the best shooting plan, and the details could be infinitely adjusted. He knew how to plan out the five pictures for the best effect better than the photographer.
Ivana drew the black and white wall. She felt it was too monotonous and not very imaginative, so she turned back to her girlfriend and shrugged.
“It doesn’t matter, we’ll do great.” Zhou Yun Sheng hugged her shoulder, playfully rubbing her red hair.
The two went to the clothing room. Zhou Yun Sheng didn’t deliberate, he directly picked two sets of simple suits, a pure black set and a pure white set. The white suit had a black shirt inside, the black suit had a white shirt, the tie color was also the opposite.
Ivana’s mind was more open than the Pacific, she let her girlfriend pick the clothes while she took out a PSP to waste time, from time to time she’d ask “We good yet?”. On the other hand, the two other groups were arguing over different views. Emily had a very strong personality, so her partner must unconditionally obey her, this led to an escalating quarrel between the two.
Bonnie hurriedly took the staff between the rooms so these wonderful scenes could be seen by the audience. When the other two groups finally got it together, Ivana and Zhou Yun Sheng were done styling and were standing in front of the mural, ready to shoot.
Zhou Yun Sheng let the stylist dye Ivana’s fire-red hair black, and dyed his own hair white, they didn’t need any more make-up.
Ivana’s facial features were hardened again, her eyebrows were thick, dark and slightly upturned, looking very sinister. Her character was very free and easy, uninhibited, she wore the pure black suit and stood in front of the white wall, simply handsome enough to blind people.
And Romeo was also handsome enough to blind, he wore a pure white suit, clean, clear and eye-catching. He leaned back against the black wall, his hands inserted into his trouser pockets, his legs crossed and his stance lazy, his slightly raised jaw and half closed eyelids brought out a casual cool feeling.
Ivana was also leaning on the wall with both hands in her pockets, her expression was lazy and loose, the same posture, but it brought out a more robust feeling.
They stood in a clear black and white world, strangely blending together, the picture looked very refined, pure, and elegant.
“You hit the mark!” The photographer quickly pressed the shutter and shouted excitedly. Less is more, this was the eternal theme of fashion.
The audience in front of the TV were fascinated by the two people. This was the first time they saw Romeo’s shooting process. He hardly paused to think, when the photographer pressed the shutter, he immediately put on his next pose, completely natural.
The two slowly approached each other, one 183 cm, the other 180 cm, standing together you could hardly see the height gap, they whispered something, then Ivana put her arm on Romeo’s shoulders and exposed a bright smile, Romeo just slightly bent his sea blue eyes, but the natural beauty in his pupil was equally exciting.
The two people were warm and quiet, like the sun and the moon, black and white, Yin and Yang, indispensable to each other.
“Perfect! You’re the most perfect partners I’ve ever seen! I love it!” The photographer shouted wildly as he pressed the shutter.
They naturally changed their pose, and the photographer clicked the shutter, the five photos finished in less than a minute.
“I finally know why Gustav admires Romeo, he knows that he is the darling of the camera. No matter from which angle, the camera always loves him, it’s shocking. When I was shooting him, my blood was boiling and I didn’t want to stop. I’m going to invite him to be my exclusive model, I absolutely can’t let Gustav take him away!”
The photographer turned to announce his admiration to the cameraman. He clicked on a remote, and the five photos were projected to the audience, white and black, rough and soft, ice and fire blended in a thrilling scene, immediately grabbing everyone’s attentions.
And the photographer’s reputation in the photography circle was even greater than Gustav’s. He understood that Gustav’s obsession with Romeo was like an artist’s obsession with their Muse. He wonderfully guided the direction of public opinion, causing Gustav’s fans who had requested Romeo’s elimination to feel even more embarrassed.
God, we made a huge mistake! We made our idol lose his source of inspiration! Maybe he’ll never take photos again! I’m so scared! A fan gripped their hair and wailed in front of the TV.
There were more worried people like her. Romeo used his skill to slap all the people who thought he was cheating. Thirty shots, forget it, he only needed five, no, in fact, as long he had one he could throw the other players out on the curb.
The audience thought about it, it seemed that each of Romeo’s photos that won TOP1 was his first pose. Every time he struck, he’d win in one fell swoop, his strength was too advanced!
The two’s wonderful performance made the other two groups feel the pressure. They began to doubt their choices, wandering if there was time to change their clothes or change their style. They were stiff-faced and astringent, so the photographer frequently felt angry and had to come forward to correct their posture and remind them where the lights were focused.
“God, shooting them and shooting Romeo is like heaven and earth. Gustav, poor Gustav, no wonder he was always looking at his watch when he was shooting them.” The photographer rattled on and complained, and the audience before the TV once again understood Gustav’s feelings. They also had a clearer understanding of how big a gap there was between the other players and Romeo.
Romeo relied on cheating to get to today? How ridiculous!
The shooting finally ended, and the program group immediately released the photos online so they could be scored. In the past, they would pick the best one, but in order to show fairness and transparency, all the photos were posted.
Romeo and Ivana only had a pitiful five while the other two groups had thirty. But this time, it was not the quantity, but the quality. The audience could kneel and worship Romeo and Ivana’s photos, but the other two groups’ photos only brought disdain.
There was no doubt that TOP1 still belonged to Romeo and Ivana. The other two groups were outdone and lost in embarrassment. Before, they thought that the group’s decision to cut Romeo’s shots couldn’t be better, but now, they were considering pleading for Romeo. At least, if Romeo returned to normal, their loss wouldn’t be so embarrassing.
“I don’t care if it’s not fair. I only know that with only 5 chances, one mistake is worth more, and nobody’s perfect. If he has a bad day, wouldn’t he be out of luck? I think things are good this way.” Emily’s words dispelled everyone’s ideas, but they also made the audience hate her to the bone.
Cheap woman, how come you’re not being eliminated? Everyone band together to quickly get rid of her!
This post received a lot of praise, they’d had enough of Emily’s black heart. Of course, there were some egoists who thought she was very practical and supported her.
This time a male player was eliminated, Emily’s partner. Emily had pushed him out as group representative to bear the judges’ poisonous tongues. When he stepped down, he embraced everyone, but rejected Emily, this made her redden in embarrassment.
Since the recording and broadcasting was live, the players’ lives in the villa wouldn’t appear in the current episodes, but they would be edited into a highlights episode that would air a week before the final broadcast. So, the original three weeks till the end of the game turned into four weeks, and the players had more than a week of rest time.
“Children, look who I brought.” Bonnie clapped and some people came through the doorway. Ivana screamed and ran towards a middle-aged woman, her mother. The two other players also saw their loved ones, except for Romeo and Emily.
Emily breathed a sigh of relief, she didn’t want to see her mother, she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to control her anger and pick up a vase to smash it over her head. Zhou Yun Sheng had long known that Romeo’s Aunt couldn’t come. He’d found evidence of their embezzlement of Romeo’s heritage and had anonymously submitted it to the police, that woman was now in jail.
He walked alone to a corner and looked at the AI on his wrist. He had found out who had incited the netizens to demand his expulsion and had prepared a grand ‘gift’ for him- evidence of financial fraud, enough to bankrupt the man and make him sink into the mud. However, he was surprised to find that the other man was currently living in the ICU ward because of a drug overdose, and according to news reports, the doctor had detected HIV in his blood.
How can things be so coincidental? His mind immediately flew to Gustav’s gentle and humble face, the man looked warmhearted, but apparently, he had a ruthless spirit. Laughing softly, he clicked the send button, he didn’t mind pushing the man deeper into the abyss of despair. It was the icing on the cake.
“Romeo, are you all right?” Bonnie was talking to the parents when she saw the young man hiding in the corner and fiddling with his watch, his back looked very lonely.
“I’m fine.” Zhou Yun Sheng looked up and smiled.
“My Dear, your Aunt was too busy working to see you. She wants you to take care, she also misses you.” Bonnie didn’t tell the teenager the truth, worried that it would affect his game mood.
“Yes, I know.” Zhou Yun Sheng nodded, grateful for Bonnie’s care.
The contestants were leaving with their families, looking to get a good meal at an atmospheric restaurant. The charges were reimbursed by the program group, provided that they allowed the team to shoot their scenes and broadcast it. The deal was a bargain.
Ivana had wanted to invite Romeo, but Bonnie had already made an appointment with him, so she left, assured.
As the host, Bonnie had the obligation to take care of the two players. She picked a French restaurant, and chatted with them about their experience while eating a luxurious dinner.
Zhou Yun Sheng and Emily had already crossed the point of no return, they wouldn’t hypocritically pretend to be friendly, the cameraman took a battle picture of the two (Emily sneering, Romeo coldly silent) and left.
“Romeo, those things that wronged you before. Are you still angry?” Bonnie asked tentatively.
This little thing was not on Zhou Yun Sheng’s heart. He knew the strong emotions Gustav had for him, he couldn’t accept him, but he wouldn’t hate him. Love is the most precious thing in the world, even if the love is not the one you want, you can just neatly refuse it, you don’t have to use disgusting means to break it.
“No, I’m not angry. On the contrary, I’m grateful to Mr. Acheson for such appreciation.” He slowly shook his head.
Emily’s eyes flashed, she deduced that the punishment really was related to Mr. Acheson, but for what specifically? She wanted to buy an Entertainment Weekly, but she was stuck to Bonnie’s side, she didn’t have the opportunity. Perhaps she should ask the other contestants when she went back, maybe their families knew.
She absent-mindedly cut her steak, giving hostile glances to the boy sitting opposite her from time to time.
Zhou Yun Sheng asked the waitress for a bottle of red wine and blinked his big eyes to sell meng to Bonnie, “Bonnie, can I have a little red wine? Just a wee bit. The cameraman is gone, no one would know.”
Bonnie was a little embarrassed. The boy was three months from adulthood, he shouldn’t be drinking, but when she was fifteen years old, she was already sneaking away to drink, so it should be okay, right?
She slowly reached toward the bottle of wine, but a big hand stretched out from above Romeo’s head and took the wine away. The hand’s owner scolded. “No, you can only drink milk.”
Emily instantly boiled. She finally saw Mr. Acheson again, the man who could decide her fate.