Huo Ren glanced several times towards the guest area and backstage during the birthday party but couldn’t spot the presence of Teacher Pei and Uncle Jiang.
He kept this matter in his mind but was unsure if Teacher Pei or Uncle Jiang and the others had any other surprises planned. It wouldn’t be good to ask and ruin the surprise.
So, he patiently waited until the end of the party like a sensible person.
Uncle Jiang had been working tirelessly for several weeks, and now that the birthday party was over, his mind was almost overwhelmed by the screams.
These young girls and boys were truly astonishing in their enthusiasm. If they held such fan meetings more frequently, he feared he would develop a nervous breakdown.
They could practically sing operas in theaters with their ability to scream like that.
On the way back, Huo Ren sat in the passenger seat while Uncle Jiang handed him a gift box.
“Uncle picked out a box of gemstone cufflinks for you. You’ll need them when you wear suits in the future.”
Huo Ren tried to analyze Uncle Jiang’s expression to see if there were any other surprises planned.
He knew his teacher’s personality the best. Whenever he went on business trips to other countries, he would always bring back little gifts. He even remembered the first year he came to SPF.
What would Teacher Pei give me for my coming-of-age ceremony?
“Are we going somewhere else later?”
“Where?” Uncle Jiang yawned and said, “If you want to watch a movie or sing at KTV, we can change routes now. Otherwise, I’ll just go back and sleep.”
Huo Ren tried to find traces of smoke bombs.
“Then should we just go back to the dormitory?”
“Alright, but don’t stay up too late,” Uncle Jiang waved his hand, “You still have to control your salt and sugar intake tomorrow. After all, you have to walk the red carpet.”
So they really headed back to the dormitory on the 17th floor. When the door opened, it was pitch black inside, and none of their dance team friends rushed out shouting “surprise.”
Huo Ren glanced at the dark living room and only turned around to look for Uncle Jiang after the other teammates had entered.
Uncle Jiang was still waiting outside the elevator, holding a cigarette. “You came out to thank me for your birthday present? Why be so formal?”
“I should do this,” Huo Ren quickly seized this opportunity, casually saying, “Did Boss Pei return to the 16th floor?”
“The 16th floor?” Uncle Jiang dispersed the smoke in front of him. “How is that possible? He took a flight to the US at 5:30 this afternoon.”
Huo Ren froze in place and repeated, “The US?”
“I heard a big star commissioned him to design a concert. He’ll be gone for two or three months.”
The elevator door dinged open, and Uncle Jiang Shu walked in. “If you need anything, look for Wei Jie. Stick to the previous performance order for the award ceremony, no need to panic.”
“Happy twentieth birthday,” the middle-aged man with a cigarette smiled and squinted. “I’m leaving now, bye-bye.”
Huo Ren stood motionless at the elevator door for a long time.
Emotions suddenly surged and churned inside him, making his nose tingle with a sour feeling.
When he was still unfamiliar with his teacher, at the age of sixteen, he was a trainee at SPF all by himself. Only Teacher Pei remembered this and even gave him a cake.
Now that they were so close, why did he just leave without a word?
Huo Ren tightened his grip on the key and walked back, closing the door and burying himself in the blanket for a long time.
He wasn’t a child. He had no interest in pendant cakes or candies.
He wouldn’t be childish enough to get angry because he didn’t receive a gift.
He just felt that his teacher’s departure was sudden and complete.
Billboards at bus stops, airport advertisements, even the posters in duty-free shops—-all of them featured him. How could Teacher Pei not see them?!
What kind of big-name star could make him leave in such a hurry? Couldn’t he at least send a birthday greeting before boarding the plane?
Teacher did it on purpose!!
Huo Ren hugged his pillow tightly and opened his phone again, going through Teacher’s WeChat and Moments.
The captain was a dedicated person. The team and work were always prioritized above his personal matters, and he never revealed his inner emotions in front of others.
So, a week passed without him caring about this issue again.
There’s no way a plane would stay in the sky for a whole week without coming down. The US has Wi-Fi and broadband internet too.
The WeChat chat box remained empty, with nothing at all.
It was during dance rehearsal when Huo Ren finally spoke up.
“Where is Teacher Pei?”
“Manhattan. He won’t be back for at least two months.” Wei Jie wiped his sweat with a towel and signaled the assistant to lower the music volume. He playfully teased Huo Ren with a tilted head, “Isn’t the Captain supposed to have a photographic memory? Can’t keep up the overachieving persona anymore?”
Huo Ren nodded lightly and continued practicing dance with the others.
He calmly retrieved that sense of attachment.
It couldn’t be love, it was confusion.
Across the vast ocean.
Pei Ruye also stood by the floor-to-ceiling window, gazing sideways at Madison Square Garden.
“Did everything get settled with the Shidu branch?”
“Smooth as ever. We wrapped up the business negotiations with General Qi in no time.”
“What’s the current situation with the market line?”
“XV has cooperative connections in over thirty cities now, and we’re still expanding our training centers.”
“…What about the 16th floor?”
“They’re practicing. They just finished additional training for the concert and now they’re in the midst of rehearsing, as per your instructions.” Wei Jie rubbed his chin, feeling somewhat regretful. “Although they didn’t receive an OSC crown nomination this time, they did get three nominations. President Pei, you’re really not coming back for the awards ceremony?”
The man glanced at the four-leaf clover pendant hanging by the bookshelf.
He paused for a long time, long enough for Wei Jie to think there was a problem with the connection.
“Is the captain doing okay?”
“Huo Ren asked about you too,” Wei Jie replied casually, “I told him you’d be back in two months.”
“Oh, by the way, I think you didn’t give him anything for his birthday last time—-how about I help you make up for it?”
Pei Ruye lightly touched the silver edge of the pendant with the back of his finger and whispered, “No need.”
Let it fade away slowly like this, and give the child a little more time to adapt.
He will get used to it.
The invitation to the OSC awards ceremony this time was stunning, surpassing all expectations.
Not only was a Graycliff cigar included with the invitation, but the letter itself was printed on delicate sandalwood, with a layout and design that could win an award in the field of art.
Corona was nominated for three major awards, and SPF had released the news in advance, stirring up excitement among career fans.
Which idol could win intercontinental awards every year?!
Which idol could explode in popularity for two consecutive years?!
My Corona is so powerful and unbeatable!!!
Huo Ren directly gave the two cigars to Uncle Jiang and kept one for Long Jia.
The latter leaned against the half-open window and savored the cigar slowly, truly enjoying the experience.
Long Jia was smoking and pondering things, while Huo Ren leaned against the side, focusing on writing songs.
The tobacco fragrance had notes of honey and nuts, with a rich and lingering aroma, akin to the deep and resonant voice of a mature man.
Bo Jue had practiced the piano for ten minutes and silently walked over to the two of them.
Long Jia immediately sat up straight, behaving properly. “Am I bothering you with the smoke? Should I go outside?”
Huo Ren paused in his composition and prepared to open the window for ventilation.
Bo Jue pursed his lips and remained silent.
Long Jia, feeling guilty, said, “I don’t usually smoke these, really.”
His eldest brother and second sister had taken him to cigar lounges a few times, mainly for business discussions, so that didn’t count.
Bo Jue took a step forward and suddenly grabbed Long Jia’s collar, burying his face in the crook of his neck.
The lingering scent of tobacco and the hint of pheromones mingled together, creating a sensual and invigorating mix.
Bo Jue took a deep breath and then turned around, clutching the music scores, and headed back to his bedroom, locking the door behind him in one swift motion.
Huo Ren: …?
Long Jia: !!!
Huo Ren wondered if these two brothers were trying to teach him how to date, while Long Jia remained dazed for a few seconds before reaching out to touch the lingering warmth on his neck. “Did he just hug me??”
His long hair brushed against his neck, tickling him slightly.
“He didn’t hug you,” Huo Ren said seriously, “He just sniffed you.”
Ignoring the half-smoked cigar, Long Jia jumped off the windowsill and hurriedly ran over to knock on the door. “Bo Jue—”
“Do you want another hug! I smell really good!”
“Shut up! You idiot!”
In the blink of an eye, it was time for the OSC awards ceremony.
Just before stepping onto the red carpet, Huo Ren took another glance at Uncle Jiang’s surroundings.
Then, leading his teammates, he walked into the crowd amidst flashing lights and screams.
“Cain is the epitome of a walking alpha iceberg! So cool!”
“The captain is such a domineering top!! His gaze can be fierce, but I love it so much!! He was so soft when it was his birthday!”
“Bo Jue’s hairstyle, oh my god! Even when he ties it up, it looks so ethereal and classical! I’m dead, I’m alive, I’m in heaven!”
“Xie Lianyun, don’t touch your glasses! Your girlfriend is here, no flirting allowed!”
Once they entered the venue, a multitude of celebrities and stars gathered together. Mei Heng sat in the front row, smiling and waving at them.
After a lively performance of an upbeat song, the awards ceremony began with one award after another.
After Corona won the Best Newcomer Award last year, male groups sprouted up like mushrooms all over Asia, and this year, the venue was packed to the brim.
The Best Newcomer Award was presented to a twelve-member girl group, and when the girls held the trophy, they were filled with joy and almost choked up. Their legs were long and slim, truly a sight to behold.
Huo Ren paid close attention to the nominations for each award and realized that the situation was indeed as Uncle Jiang had estimated.
Just in their category alone, there were two male groups that had gained popularity in the second and third tiers. “Light Boys” had even been nominated for the Best Newcomer Award, showcasing a fresh and adorable style that was easily recognizable.
“The Best Choreography Award goes to… Corona!”
The camera suddenly shifted to Huo Ren’s group, and they smiled knowingly, waving as they went up to the stage to deliver the company-prepared speech.
Uncle Jiang had even made annotations in some lines, indicating (“At this point, the Captain should hug a teammate”) and (“Xie Lianyun, remember to smile more towards the camera”).
Mei Shengyao held up the crystal trophy, and Mei Heng in the guest seat gave a thumbs-up.
Father and son shared a smile, fully immersed in the moment.
“Now, we are about to enter the most anticipated segment,” the host waved the cue card in his hand. “The Crown Award is about to be announced!”
Huo Ren raised his gaze slightly and looked at the nominees displayed on the electronic screen.
In the solo category, there were two males and two females.
Feng Yi and Feng Jin both had major breakthroughs this year, and their concerts were stunning. Their music videos even became internal reference materials in the SPF company.
In the group category, all four nominees were senior artists, with no recent debutants.
In the end, Feng Jin won the award, and the reformed three-member girl group took the Crown Award, smiling proudly at the camera and embracing each other tightly.
This result was indeed expected.
As they continued to give their all, their seniors had also been tirelessly transforming and growing stronger. They had been passionate and dedicated to music and the stage for ten or twenty years.
The young boys looked up at the dazzling seniors on stage, their expressions filled with respect and longing.
After the performance ended, the two hosts returned to the center of the stage.
Behind them stood a ceremonial lady holding a red box.
“What we need to announce is that this will be the last time the OSC Crown Award will be presented separately for individuals and groups.”
“Starting next year, there will be only one Crown.”
This news came unexpectedly, and the hundreds of celebrities in the audience had not heard any rumors, causing them to engage in whispered discussions.
The OSC Awards itself was highly prestigious and known for its fair judging process within the industry.
Now, suddenly merging the individual and group awards meant significantly increasing the difficulty of winning, as competitors would have to face twice or thrice the number of opponents.
“This is also our way of showing respect to the Crown itself.”
The veteran artist opened the red box, and all screens zoomed in on the redesigned Crown.
“It should possess such a unique and lofty status.”
Once again, the audience erupted into a commotion.
The Crown was made of pure gold, with a pigeon’s blood ruby embedded in the center, and diamonds adorning its sides, shimmering brilliantly even when still.
Precious enough to be unique and worth millions, there was no one who wouldn’t be tempted by it.
The more they looked at it, the more their hearts were moved, like Huskies scratching at a door, almost wanting to rush over and touch those beautiful gemstones.
Mei Shengyao quickly took a photo with his phone and whispered, “It looks better than the one in my dad’s exhibition cabinet.”
Xie Lianyun glanced at him askew. “When did your dad get one?”
“Probably when he was 32?” Mei Shengyao tilted his head and said, “Imagine if the six of us were in our thirties… We might be married with children by then.”
“… How long do we have to wait for that?”
Huo Ren stared at the Crown and involuntarily clenched his fists.
“Once we get it,” he smiled and turned his head, “we should take turns wearing it for a day.”
“One day is not enough; it should be three days,” Chi Ji sighed softly. “If we had seven Crowns, we could all wear them together for a group photo.”
Long Jia rubbed his chin and started contemplating its feasibility. “If we can get the original version, I can hire craftsmen to make replicas.”
“Why make it so complicated?” Bo Jue propped his chin. “We just need to win the award seven times.”
It seemed that humans had an innate longing for shiny things.
Originally, they only had a vague concept in their minds, but when they saw that pure gold Crown, it was as if every cell in their bodies suddenly awakened.
That pigeon’s blood ruby looked really beautiful…
“The Best Song of the Year is… ‘Nameless Moment’!”
“Let’s welcome Corona to the stage once again to receive the award!”
Huo Ren suddenly realized and led them to stand up.
“We won again?! Two awards?!” Chi Ji suppressed his voice. “Oh no, did we prepare an acceptance speech?”
“I’ll improvise,” Huo Ren led them towards the stage and whispered, “Just smile at the camera.”
And that’s exactly what they did.
The Captain calmly recited a prepared speech while facing hundreds of senior artists, and the five handsome boys beside him forced smiles for more than half a minute.
It was only after they received the trophy and sat down that they discreetly rubbed their faces, which had stiffened from smiling.
Back at the hotel that night, they gathered around in towels and bathrobes, examining the two trophies inside and out.
“It’s genuine crystal.” Bo Jue was the first to conclude, “The base is gold-plated.”
“We need to fill our trophy cabinet!” Mei Shengyao raised his hands high. “We’ll have four study rooms in the future! And each of us gets a Crown!”
The six of them rolled around in Long Jia and Mei Shengyao’s room, squeezing onto two beds, chatting without intending to sleep.
At first, they were discussing the direction of their next album in a serious manner, but as the conversation went on, it deviated further and further.
Long Jia showed them the newborn puppies of his family’s big dog, and Xie Lianyun pulled Huo Ren to sing a German song while Chi Ji followed along softly.
Bo Jue had been exhausted all day and was too tired to move. He pretended to be dead while wearing a restorative face mask.
“By the way,” Huo Ren curiously asked, “Why did you guys think of joining Corona in the first place?”
They paused for a moment, and the memories of the past started to resurface.
“I’ll go first,” Xie Lianyun raised his hand. “I was thrown to Uncle Jiang by my parents.”
Xie Lianyun’s talent for composing and songwriting burst forth at a young age. Despite his parents’ constant surveillance, he secretly took on private gigs to write OSTs for TV dramas and earned a decent amount of money when he was around eleven or twelve years old.
And naturally, he became addicted to online games and spending money recklessly.
“When my mom found out I spent over 40,000 on a game, her face turned black… Isn’t it natural to spend money for the tribe?!” He coughed forcefully. “You just don’t understand, Bo Jue. You’re too old-fashioned.”
Bo Jue looked complicated and said, “You spent over 40,000 on data?”
“You’re too much of an old cadre; you wouldn’t understand,” Xie Lianyun insisted firmly. “It’s a matter of faith.”
Uncle Jiang happened to be working on a boy band project, and the elders understood that if Xie Lianyun debuted as a solo artist, he would become even more unruly. So they sent him over to be properly transformed.
They couldn’t bury his talent, but they also couldn’t let him live a chaotic life like a weed.
Huo Ren understood it all.
Knowing Xie Lianyun’s personality, if he had debuted as a solo artist, he would probably be playing games all night long, and no amount of foundation could cover up his dark circles.
“My reason may sound a bit strange…” Mei Shengyao scratched his head. “My dad and Uncle Jiang established this project with the initial intention of helping me find more friends, those who share the same aspirations.”
As the son of a heavenly king, Mei Shengyao was born with a worry-free life in terms of food and clothing, and he wouldn’t lack fame and fortune in his lifetime. He could do anything he wanted.
Mei Shengyao inherited his father’s personality and talents. He loved dancing from a young age, and his voice was well-trained. He naturally had a stage charisma.
“That’s true,” Xie Lianyun leaned against Long Jia’s back and lay on the pillow. “Our profession can be quite lonely, and your dad understands that very well.”
Whether it was the entertainment industry or any other industry, the higher you stand, the lonelier it gets.
If you can meet friends with whom you can truly connect, work together wholeheartedly without internal strife or suspicion, that in itself is a miraculous gift.
Huo Ren reached out and turned off the light, continuing to chat with everyone while lying down.
“Chi Ji used to be a musical theater actor, right? Why did you come back to China?”
“Uncle Jiang specifically came to find me,” Chi Ji thought for a moment. “I think it was because at the time, the group lacked a good vocal.”
He exceeded the selection criteria in terms of appearance and abilities, and after only a few conversations with the person in charge, he received further recommendations.
“If Uncle Jiang calls, you just come,” Xie Lianyun muttered softly. “Aren’t you afraid of being sold?”
“He said if I came back to China, there would be tens of thousands, or even over a hundred thousand people, listening to me sing and dance,” Chi Ji emphasized with an elongated tone. “I really love the stage.”
The feeling of being heard by more people is incredibly wonderful. Chi Ji would even be willing to live on the stage for the rest of his life. As long as he sings and dances, it feels like his breath is blooming like a flower.
Suddenly, Huo Ren heard Mei Shengyao sigh softly. “Jue-ge fell asleep,” he whispered, lowering his voice. “Let’s go to sleep too.”
Bo Jue held his pillow tightly and let out an almost inaudible sigh of relief. Fortunately, it wasn’t his turn to speak.
Corona not only won two individual awards at the OSC Asia Awards, but they also received the Tianxiao Awards in China, which included the awards for Best Album and Best Male Group of the Year. The Silver Falcon trophies were adorned with stars.
As the four awards were presented one after another, fans were overjoyed, feeling as if they were looking at their own child prodigy’s report card.
“Debuting and winning the OSC, and then receiving four consecutive awards the following year… What a concept! Is there anything more satisfying than shipping relationships and having a successful career? Corona is truly the strongest male group. I’m going to explode with praise today!”
“Corona’s visuals are off the charts, and their talent is extraordinary. How are their peers supposed to compete… I may have biases for other groups, but the ones next door either have good looks but can’t sing, or they can sing but can’t dance. My ultimate bias is indeed my ultimate bias. (Sob)”
“I’m torn between being a devoted mom fan, a girlfriend fan, and a career fan. Let me go repost and participate in the lottery to celebrate properly. Let’s go for the crown!”
“In response to 42I, it’s a concept similar to six child prodigies who rank in the top two of a special admission exam in their first year of high school and then win four national competition awards in their second year. I was dancing in front of the TV the whole time during the award ceremony. (Laughs)”
The 17th floor entered another intense period of hard work.
The release of their new album was approaching, and after finishing the songs, they still had to record music videos, shoot promotional posters, and reserve a week for the rehearsal of the New Year’s Eve concert.
Their third album was named “Wei Liu” (Only Remains), with the center position rotating among the six members, creating a unique and harmonious dynamic.
One of the benefits of having a deep bond between the members was that they could willingly support and complement each other without any jealousy or calculations.
Mei Shengyao wrote a song called “Sui Jin” (Broken Gold), with a combination of tap dancing and military drums, driving the main melody forward like a galloping horse.
The main visual of the music video was him performing a solo dance under a spotlight, but the other five members would take turns in the acapella parts, emphasizing a complementary and alternating dynamic.
Due to Chi Ji’s limited arrangement skills, he collaborated with Mei Shengyao to co-write a song called “Zhang Zhong Huo” (Fire in the Palm). The lyrics and choreography boldly embraced a glamorous and sexy style, creating a visually stunning impact.
Bo Jue chose a slow song, Xie Lianyun created an electronic echo, Long Jia continued the group’s previous album’s knife dance fast-paced song, which was named “Qiu Lao” (Prison).
After eating fried noodles, Huo Ren suddenly had an inspiration and created two contrasting main tracks. One of them was a gangster-style song called “Han Mang” (Cold Light). The entire group dressed up as gangsters and danced in a street setting for the music video. During the filming, all their hairstyles were intentionally messy and rebellious.
The props team prepared a large variety of colorful temporary tattoo stickers and said, “Stick on whatever you like! Just don’t wet them or rub them randomly after sticking!”
Long Jia and Xie Lianyun decisively applied a large single-side flower arm tattoo, resembling the big brothers of a mafia family.
Bo Jue looked disgusted. “…I’ll just stick some decorative stickers on the side of my eye.”
Huo Ren discovered a new world vaguely. “There are props like that too!”
“Tattoos hurt,” Mei Shengyao patted his shoulder and turned his head with bright eyes. “Gege, I want to stick that Reaper’s scythe!”
After cosplaying as delinquent boys in the previous song, they now transitioned to a pure campus style for the next one.
The song was co-written by Chi Ji and Qi Lin, titled “Clouds at the School Gate.”
So the gangster-like rascals peeled off their tattoos and washed off the hair gel. They put on long shirts and instantly transformed back into high school boys. They rode bicycles with backpacks and went on their way, exuding a particularly youthful vibe.
On the other side of the ocean.
Pei Ruye contemplated for a long time and decided not to return to China for the New Year’s Eve concert.
He invested in SPF and, together with Uncle Jiang, worked to strengthen and expand Corona. For the past few years, his focus had been on this project, and he had no regrets about turning down many collaboration opportunities.
Corona would become a legend, something both he and Uncle Jiang were well aware of.
However, Pei Ruye never expected to have feelings for that child beyond the teacher-student relationship.
It was secretive, subtle, and carried a warmth.
Pei Ruye was always cautious and meticulous, never ignoring his own feelings. In the end, he chose to distance himself to diminish the issue.
But no matter what, it was the child’s first New Year’s Eve concert, with a large scale and complex process. It couldn’t rely solely on vigilance to ensure everything went smoothly.
The man sat in silence at his desk for a long time, then made several phone calls to his close collaborators.
“Old Dong, please take care of their procedures again, especially the Hong Kong concert. I didn’t go back because I had some unfinished business to deal with.”
“Yes, I expect to be busy until next year.”
“Ah Zhou, please oversee the lighting and stage for the New Year’s Eve concert. The branch office can handle…”
After making four or five calls, he breathed a sigh of relief, but his concerns only grew.
He wondered if that child had experienced any more stomachaches recently.
After ten minutes, Pei Ruye dialed Uncle Jiang’s number.
It was just for coordination purposes, he convinced himself. He wouldn’t ask about anything else.
Uncle Jiang was playing mahjong with Qi Ding and Jiang Yanzhi.
Huo Ren sat next to them, holding the schedule and writing notes. When he heard the phone ring, he casually mentioned, “Uncle, call for you. Should I hand it to you?”
Uncle Jiang didn’t expect to lose four rounds in a row. Getting anxious, he didn’t even turn his head and asked, “Who’s calling?”
Huo Ren leaned over to take a look and paused for half a second before saying, “It’s Teacher Pei.”
“You answer it… It must be about confirming the concert,” Uncle Jiang threw the east wind tile and said, “You’re familiar with that.”
“I won!” Jiang Yanzhi smiled and said, “Transfer or cash?”
“What the hell?! Give it another shot!!”
Huo Ren turned his head to look at the four elders who were engaged in intense competition and went to a slightly quieter corner with the phone.
When he saw the name “Pei” on the screen, his heart warmed slightly.
“Teacher Pei, it’s me.”
Pei Ruye’s breath paused, maintaining a calm tone.
“Mhm, I’m calling to confirm the concert.”
Huo Ren lowered his gaze and responded with an “Mhm,” reporting each item to him.
From the final adjustments to the program, to the props and lighting preparations for the solo performances, and even the practice progress of all the members recently.
The young voice was calm and deep, devoid of any emotions.
Pei Ruye gazed at the night sky below, and after a while, he replied with a “Good.”
They hadn’t seen each other for a long time, and their emotions were hard to fathom.
Rarely, they exchanged a few words, all of which were routine work reports.
“Wishing you a successful performance,” Pei Ru Ye took a deep breath for two seconds, ready to tell him about the top-notch lineup he had just arranged.
He wanted Huo Ren to perform with peace of mind, without any worries.
But before he could speak, there was suddenly no sound from Huo Ren’s end.
There was a blank space of five or six seconds on the phone.
Subconsciously, Pei Ruye listened for his breath through the electric current noise, but all he heard was indistinct background noise.
“Teacher,” the young man spoke in a muffled voice, “When are you coming back?”
As the familiar words rang out, it felt as if something was gently attached to his heart.
Pei Ruye furrowed his brow, smiled as if admitting defeat, and sighed.
“You’re coming back tomorrow.”
Huo Ren blinked and continued with his questions.
“Now that the overall schedule is set, will you be there with us on the stage?”
“…The special effects plan is ready,” Pei Ruye raised his hand to rub his temples. “When we meet, I’ll take you to see the props.”
After hanging up the phone, Assistant Zhang arrived with a cup of coffee.
“President Pei, the flight to Vancouver tomorrow—”
“Change the itinerary.”
“Ah? Not going to Canada anymore?”
“Returning when I arrive. Give me the special effects plan before getting on the plane, make arrangements for the props in advance, and coordinate with the team there.”
Assistant Zhang stood there in a daze, stuttering, “What about the financing meeting with Fermics Company—”
“Hand it over to President Peng.”
“But what about the cocktail party tomorrow night—”
“It’s not important, cancel it.”
Pei Ruye undid his tie, swayed his neck bones left and right, and glanced at her with a fleeting gaze.
“Remember to arrange for Xiao Guan to buy gifts from the boutique, but make sure they don’t overlap with previous ones.”
Assistant Zhang: ?!?! Boss, you were never like this before!!!
Time was running out, and Huo Ren had already taken the group to the venue in Baichuan City for a site visit.
Last year, they were only guest performers at the New Year’s Eve concert held in Baichuan.
This year, from December 30th to the early hours of December 31st, the Red People Hall would belong solely to Corona and the Gems.
They were circling around the audience exit, estimating distances, when they heard low laughter from behind.
“The magic exit should be set at Gate C.”
Huo Ren immediately turned to look at him, feeling as if the sky had cleared suddenly.
He wanted to run over and hug him, his steps accelerating, but after a couple of seconds, he quickly stopped and stood there, looking into the man’s eyes.
The emotions that had been hanging in the air finally settled down.
“You’ve grown taller,” Pei Ruye put his hands in his pockets, also remaining in place, no longer moving forward.
They locked eyes for a few seconds, their smiles light and polite.
The concert proceeded as scheduled, and the first show was a packed and explosive success. The second show saw scalpers selling tickets at exorbitant prices, eager to make a quick profit.
Two and a half hours before the start of the concert, all the roads near the Red People Hall were congested. Young boys and girls wore crowns on their heads, as if kings had come to pay their respects.
The floral walls were even more magnificent than before, and passersby couldn’t help but stop and admire, taking photos with the six handsome standees.
The gigantic advertisement on the skyscraper changed its lights and shadows, and the exterior walls of the Red People Hall were all dyed in a dazzling golden color.
At the moment when the performance finally began, this winter night suddenly turned into a midsummer-like carnival. Everyone waved their hands and sang out loud. The air and temperature were infused with the passion of dreams, brewing a strong liquor. The bass, electric guitar, and drums danced like golden serpents, illuminating the entire stadium.
Two hours flew by in an instant, and the New Year countdown drew closer.
In the final six minutes before 2014 arrived, they once again sang the first song before the story began.
Golden-red flames traced the path of a hexagram, and laser lights from eighteen positions crisscrossed like suspended lines in a forest.
“At this moment, my eyes only have you,”
The resounding drumbeats quickly approached from afar as the six members of the group stepped in rhythm, their hands fluttering like eagles or falcons with outspread wings.
“Your stubbornness and pure love for me.”
Huo Ren raised his head, gazing at the golden sea of people, with a silver teardrop shining in the dark.
He turned around and disappeared behind the others. Mei Shengyao glided forward gracefully, resembling a crow dancing in a hexagonal labyrinth.
“Even the mountains, dark nights, and snowstorms cannot—-cannot shake my desire to see you.”
The Platinum Nest, enveloped in sapphire and topaz, descended from the sky and landed on the hexagonal frame, rotating slowly.
The five of them simultaneously knelt down on one knee, while Huo Ren alone stepped into the kaleidoscope of colors, his figure falling.
The Platinum Nest slowly reversed its rotation, floating back up to the highest point of the dark night.
“My soul is a gem.”
All the lights began to fade.
The sounds of the piano, drums, and breath were completely muted, leaving only Chi Ji’s clear and ethereal voice drifting away.
“It is fragile yet resilient, shining eternally only in this moment.”
They lifted their heads again, their eyes looking towards the northern direction of the golden ocean, as if summoning a deity, and spoke once more, “Only waiting for you—”
The Platinum Nest burst apart and scattered in an instant, a beam of intense light piercing through the air, illuminating the unparalleled youth hidden deep within the audience seats!
“With a single command!!!”
He held a scepter and wore a crown on his head, his ink-black eyes piercing through the cold night.
It was Huo Ren!!
How could the Captain suddenly appear here with us??
Fans who were close enough to see the captain in person were already going wild, calling out his name at the top of their lungs over the barricades.
“Ah, ah, ah, he’s so handsome! I’m going to suffocate!!!”
“Brother, I love you!! Forever love you, ah, ah, ah!!!”
The entire northern audience section suddenly turned into a corridor for the crowned king.
That young man was tall and extraordinary, his cloak adorned with fiery red dragon tooth flowers, walking steadily towards the center of the stage.
Wherever he went, countless people stood up on their tiptoes, reaching out their hands, eager to touch even a glimpse of him. Their voices, expressions, and tears were filled with fanaticism and devotion.
“I am your—”
Tens of thousands of voices intertwined like soaring birds.
“One and only Crown!!!”
Suddenly, snowflakes fell from the sky, as if they too were inspired by the arrival of the divine.
The ice-white snow followed the strong wind, swirling and dancing like stars in a sea of tulips, adorning his long lashes and side-swept hair like butterfly wings.
“Your ambition will burn everything like nocturnal fire.”
Huo Ren stood between the golden sea and the flying snow, taking step by step towards the finish line.
At this moment, everyone was roaring and boiling for him, but his voice was cold and his high notes were terrifyingly steady.
“All restraints and obstacles will be burned to ashes—”
Bo Jue leaned down, tightly gripping his hand, lifting him up to the highest point in the winter wind.
“And the midnight is nothing more than a fleeting moment.”
“The countdown begins! Let’s do it together!” Mei Shengyao and Xie Lianyun simultaneously raised their microphones towards the audience seats. “Five—”
Pei Ruye, deep in the crowd, gazed at the young man adorned with falling snow. Like a devotee, he lifted his hand and lightly kissed the cold four-leaf clover between his fingers.
The six of them laughed and embraced each other, vigorously waving their arms along with the changing numbers on the big screen.
Bo Jue’s other hand, hanging down, accidentally brushed against Huo Ren’s back, and he recoiled like an electric shock.
Then it was held in a reverse grip, their palms and fingers interlocking tightly in the darkness behind the others.
His eyes widened in astonishment, while the man beside him continued to smile, his gaze calm.
Huo Ren bowed his head and lightly kissed the four-leaf clover pendant hanging around his neck, as if bestowing a final blessing like a deity before disappearing at midnight.
The cheers of the crowd soared with the bursting fireworks in the sky. “Happy New Year!!!”
At that moment, their pulses and breaths synchronized.
Just like the first chime of the New Year.