Translated by Vivian of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
The sky gradually brightened.
Cesar was hugging the person in his arms, and he looked at his long, curved eyelashes and his closed eyes. Cesar’s heart ached, and he felt regretful, regretful that he hadn’t understood what Finch was thinking earlier. Finch must’ve been hurt by his estrangement and cold actions, right? Otherwise, how could Finch have gotten so drunk and said those things because of Xie Yan’s prompting?
This was the first time Cesar realized that perhaps he had crossed the line with his coldness towards Finch and that he should’ve treated him better.
Moreover, Cesar should’ve recognized his own feelings so Finch wouldn’t have to be so perturbed and uneasy, this was all Cesar’s fault… When you wake up, no matter what you want to know, I won’t hide anything anymore.
I’m willing to face everything with you.
Finch felt that he was being embraced in someone’s warm arms, and this was the first time he had slept so comfortably and soundly in a long time. He slowly opened his eyes and saw Cesar.
Finch was speechless and dumbfounded.
Who am I, where am I, what happened?
Why was he sleeping in the same bed as Cesar?!
Even scarier, Cesar was looking at him a little affectionately, and his voice was deep and gentle as he said, “You’re awake.”
Finch suddenly shivered.
This was abnormal, way too abnormal… How could Cesar be so gentle towards him?! And Cesar wasn’t even looking at him in disdain…
Right, Finch had gotten drunk yesterday, but what had he done to Cesar?!
Cesar gazed into Finch’s confused eyes and recalled how desperately Finch had urged him to stay with him last night. Cesar believed that his estrangement and indifference before had hurt Finch’s feelings.
Thus, the two of them both had such wonderful misunderstandings, both of them feeling a little guilty…
Finch knew that his alcohol tolerance wasn’t high, but he had drank too much last night, and now, he had a headache and couldn’t recall what had happened yesterday. He felt even more uneasy when he saw Cesar’s gentle gaze.
Cowardly Finch subconsciously decided to escape the scene of the crime, so he got up and made to leave. However, Cesar grabbed his wrist and asked, “Where are you going?”
Finch cleared his throat awkwardly. “I…”
Cesar stepped closer to him and said slowly with the ghost of a smile, “Don’t you have anything you want to ask me?”
Finch thought carefully. Could it be that Cesar felt that he shouldn’t have concealed who he was two years ago? But Finch didn’t mind! Cesar was such a low-profile person, and it wasn’t like Finch expected a billionaire like Cesar to announce how rich he was the first time they met…
As for later, they had become boyfriends and then broke up soon afterward, so there didn’t seem to have been any need for Cesar to say anything…
And Finch didn’t mind him hiding it.
Ah, if Finch asked Cesar about his identity at this time, then wouldn’t that make him seem even more shallow and that he only cared about his money? Finch coughed and said casually, “Um, not really. Right, how come you didn’t say anything about coming back early?”
Cesar gave Finch a deep look, making Finch feel guilty. What had he said wrong this time?
However, Cesar didn’t get frustrated, and he only sighed lightly and seemingly a little helplessly.
Finch was speechless.
He could tell that there was no way to continue this conversation, and he was even in Cesar’s bed right now! Finch flushed in embarrassment. Suddenly, his phone rang; it was a phone call from Chai Xin!
If Chai Xin was calling him, then it was definitely about work. Finch sighed in relief and quickly picked up.
Sure enough, Finch had guessed right; Chai Xin asked him where the hell he was right now and reminded him that there was a variety show today, and the lead actors in the movie were all participating. This episode was especially for promoting the movie, and this variety show had been very popular for several years, and it was a very good opportunity for increasing his fame. Chai Xin told Finch to quickly get over there and to not be late.
Finch knew about this already, but he had been so nervous just then he nearly forgot about it. He hastily got off of the bed and said, “I have to go.”
Cesar had vaguely heard some of the phone conversations, and although he didn’t want Finch to leave just like this, he still knew he should respect Finch’s enthusiasm for his career. Thus, Cesar merely nodded. “Okay, I’ll take you there.”
As Finch got into Cesar’s car, he was still immersed in the shock of seeing Cesar suddenly being so gentle, warm, and considerate… Finch fell into a daze.
What had happened yesterday?!
Soon afterward, Cesar and Finch arrived at the variety show’s building. Cesar said, “Text me when you’re done and I’ll come pick you up.”
Finch could only nod dumbfoundedly and walk out in a daze.
Before he could walk too far, however, he suddenly heard Cesar call his name. Cesar frowned and said in a low voice, “Xie Yan… Don’t trust him too much.”
Finch was blank, but he nodded and didn’t have much time to think more carefully about what Cesar said as he quickly left.
As Cesar saw Finch go into the building, his gaze dimmed a little, and he drummed his fingers on the steering wheel.
At the time, after they left the cruise ship, Cesar had immediately looked into how Finch got there. In the end, he found out that someone else had asked Xie Yan to pass along the invitation card to Finch, and then he learned of the connection between Xie Yan and that person.
The Foundation was a very large organization, and it was inevitable for there to be many departments. Cesar didn’t know everyone who was connected to the Foundation, as not only did the Foundation have its own research team and armed forces, it also cooperated with a lot of organizations and people. So Xie Yan being connected to the Foundation wasn’t too surprising. Xie Yan had indirectly given Finch the invitation card, thus sending him to Cesar, which showed that that person didn’t intend for Finch to continue staying out of the matter.
Thus, what Xie Yan did wasn’t important, but the meaning of his actions was significant. Moreover, Cesar believed that he didn’t dare to outrightly do anything to Finch and that he was only that other person’s spy and cooperator… Strictly speaking, Xie Yan couldn’t even be considered a member of the Foundation.
Another surprising thing was that, through his investigation of Xie Yan, Cesar found out about his other secret.
As an entity like him, why would Xie Yan be willing to work with the Foundation? He should be… their enemy.
Cesar frowned as he contemplated these things, and his gaze hardened. It seemed that he would have to have a conversation with that person.
Finch was worried he would be late, so he frantically rushed up the stairs. He was also a little distracted by what had happened just then, so he accidentally bumped into someone.
Xie Yan chuckled and held Finch’s shoulder to steady him. “Don’t worry, there’s still some time before we start.”
Finch froze and suddenly had an idea. He really couldn’t remember what had happened last night, but he did remember that he had gone drinking with Xie Yan and the others, so perhaps Xie Yan would know something. Finch hesitated and asked, “How did I go home last night?”
Xie Yan looked at him thoughtfully and smiled. “Cesar came to pick you up.”
Finch’s face heated up. Ah, so Cesar really had picked him up. But what had he done to make Cesar’s attitude change so drastically?! Finch asked falteringly, “Ah, um… did I say anything weird last night?”
Xie Yan looked at Finch in amusement. “No, you were very quiet.”
Finch asked suspiciously, “Really?”
Xie Yan grinned and nodded. Just when Finch was about to sigh in relief, Xie Yan added calmly, “I didn’t hear you say anything weird, but I don’t know if you said anything after you left.”
Finch was speechless.
Ah, so asking Xie Yan was in vain. Sure enough, only Cesar knew! Damn it!
The elevator door opened, and Xie Yan said, “Come on, I reckon we’ll be the last ones to arrive.”
Finch came back to his senses and nodded. Ah, no matter what happened last night, Cesar’s change in attitude wasn’t a bad thing, right? He should focus on his work first!
This variety show had been popular for several years now, and for Finch, it was a very rare opportunity, and being able to go on it was partly because of Xie Yan.
The company had gotten ready for it already, and this time, the point was to support Finch, which was why the program group spent quite a bit of effort in making sure there were only four people attending. Besides the male lead, Xie Yan, the female lead, Ji XueFang, and the second male lead, Finch, the other one was the actor who played the role of Xie Yan’s character’s master, Gao TianRui.
Needless to say, Xie Yan and Ji XueFang were top-class actors, and although Gao TianRui’s appearance was ordinary and he was nearly forty years old, he was a veteran actor that was a household name. His acting skills were quite proficient, and he often acted as important supporting roles.
Among the four of them, Finch was the least famous, and just getting on this show was very widely discussed. Thus, the show’s production crew liked to interview him often.
After all, Finch had quite a lot of fans and anti-fans now. A lot of people scolded him for taking advantage of Xie Yan and his popularity, but when they found out that he had only acted in some trashy dramas before and that no one knew much about them, they began discussing Finch with fervor.
Fortunately, Finch was prepared for all of this, and because the company had prepared for this already too, the show’s host and crew were all very friendly with him, and no one slandered or embarrassed him.
Xie Yan had also looked after Finch the entire time, and he expressed that Finch was quite good at acting and announced that he hoped everyone could watch the movie when it was released.
After some interviews, the crew said that they were going to be transitioning into the game segment. The game was an escape room, which was currently very popular. The games on these types of shows were mostly just an opportunity to showcase each actors’ personality, and the games usually weren’t very hard, so naturally, everyone participated gladly.
Then, some people led Finch and the others to a room they had prepared a while ago.
Gao TianRui was their senior and was always very humble. He never stole the limelight, and he was quite low-profile. Although Ji XueFang disliked Finch, she didn’t express any of that in this type of situation. On the contrary, she was very charming, sweet, and innocent, worthy of her persona as a goddess-like person.
Finch stood next to Xie Yan.
A staff member smiled as he opened the door and said, “Please work together and do your best to get out of the room. Of course, if you guys don’t come out in half an hour, then we’ll arrange for people to come let you out.”
Xie Yan smiled and nodded politely, saying, “Okay, thanks.”
Then, they walked into the first room. When the door closed behind them, the light immediately dimmed a little. Everyone was very calm, but there were cameras in here, so they still had to search carefully for the way out.
Although it was just an insignificant game, if the audience felt that they were being dumb, then that wouldn’t be very good.
Everyone looked around the room. It was very girlish, and most things were pink. There were even a lot of pink balloons gathered on the ceiling, adding to the dreamlike and sweet aura of the room.
Gao TianRui smiled. “It seems that this room belongs to a girl.”
Finch also thought so. Besides the door they had come in from, there was another white metal door on the other side, and there was a password-protected lock on it. Finch had played escape rooms before, and this clearly meant that they had to find clues in this room to find the password to escape.
Xie Yan said, “Let’s split up and look around. I’ll look over there, you look over there. Right, Ji XueFang, you can examine the wardrobe. XueFang?”
Ji XueFang seemed like she hadn’t heard Xie Yan. Her expression was unnatural, and her right hand was clenched tightly into a fist, her nails digging into her palm. If it weren’t for the cameras placed around the room, she probably wouldn’t have been able to maintain her calm state. She looked down at the floor furiously.
Xie Yan noticed these things, and he frowned slightly. This was only an escape room game, so what was up with her?
Finch was already looking for clues, so he didn’t notice these things.
Gao TianRui began to examine the vanity table at the right of the room. There were several different makeup products placed on it, and they were all from luxury brands. He opened one and saw that it was real, and he couldn’t help but grin. “This show really isn’t selfish about their budget at all. Hey, isn’t this you in this photo, Ji XueFang?”
There was a framed photo on the vanity table, and it was of Ji XueFang and a middle-aged man standing together. At the time, Ji XueFang had been very young, and she looked to be in her college years.
Ji XueFang smiled stiffly and said, “Yes, that’s me and my father.”
Gao TianRui was very keen, and he noticed that Ji XueFant didn’t seem to want to bring this up. Thus, he hastily avoided the topic and continued searching. He picked up the photo to see if there were any clues on it.
However, when Gao TianRui picked up the photo, there was a sudden click, and a puppet walked out of the cabinet under the vanity table. The puppet was wearing a funny little suit, and its crude face seemed to be smiling. It inexplicably looked a little creepy, and Gao TianRui was quite startled.
Immediately after, the puppet giggled and said in a very processed, animatronic voice, “Some female actors nowadays will do anything just to gain popularity. They have sugar daddies while they’re still in school, how shameless, and they can sleep with someone just for a tube of lipstick. They’re willing to hide their dark history and become an innocent, pure girl for the most trivial of things. How interesting… Some people have lived too smoothly their entire life, and they think that if they offer themselves, they’ll be able to obtain anything. Now, the test is coming…”
Jie XueFang immediately rushed over and abruptly hurled the puppet onto the floor, her expression ferocious. “Shut up, you’re lying!”
The puppet’s head was bent from being smashed, but it was still smiling its eerie smile, and it continued, “…Walk out of this room alive and go welcome your new life. Face yourself bravely. It’s actually not as hard as you think. Find the password, and you’ll all be able to leave. Good luck!”
When it finished speaking, a screen on the door lit up and began counting down. The countless balloons on the ceiling all popped, and countless photos drifted down like snowflakes. They were all of Ji XueFang! They were all of Ji XueFang and a different man!
Finch was dumbfounded. When he had first seen the puppet, he had thought that the show’s staff were very creative and wondered if it was a reference to the movie Saw…
But now, as he looked at the photos scattered across the floor and recalled what the puppet had said, beads of cold sweat dotted his forehead. Shit… this show’s staff really had nerves of steel. They even dared to play this sort of game? Although Finch didn’t like Ji XueFang too much, this was still quite invasive…
Xie Yan and Gao TianRui were also looking at Ji XueFang, their expressions unreadable.
Ji XueFang looked at the picture on the floor and finally couldn’t maintain her composure anymore. She screamed, “This is all fake, these photos are photoshopped! That’s not me! They’re defaming me! Right, I’m going to sue this show, how can they defame me like this?! I quit this game!”
Ji XueFang abruptly turned around to leave, but she couldn’t open the door they had come in from. No matter how she pushed or pulled, it didn’t budge an inch. Moreover, when she pounded on the door, it was quiet outside, and no one came to let her out!
Jie XueFang got angrier and angrier, and she was already gradually losing her reason, let alone maintain her persona. She shrieked, “Open the door, quick, open the door!”
Finch looked at the door that remained tightly shut and then at the timer that was still counting down on the other door. Suddenly, he felt very apprehensive and had a hunch. But he didn’t think that it could be possible; after all, he had never seen a supernatural event of this form, and he’d rather have it really be some prank by the staff in poor taste… At least there wouldn’t be any danger in that case!
The timer on the door decreased every second, ominously reminding them of the time trickling away… Finch suddenly felt a little dizzy, and he shook his head to clear his mind. Suddenly, Xie Yan grabbed Finch’s shoulder to steady him, his expression solemn as he said slowly, “It’s carbon monoxide.”
The balloons had all been filled with poisonous gas!
It turned out that the countdown timer meant that if they didn’t escape, then they would die here.