Chapter 41 – Backroom deals
Renly looked at the girl in front of him, his pupils slightly contracting. He then took out his phone and aimed it at the girl’s figure, directly pressing the shutter button.
The girl clearly did not expect Renly’s sudden action, which disrupted all of her plans. She couldn’t help but widen her eyes and said, “Hey, are you crazy?” She strode towards Renly in a fierce manner, with a terrifying posture like she was wolf or a tiger. However, Renly was not worried at all. He raised his right hand high, and his height advantage immediately made him invincible.
The girl’s height only reached Renly’s chest, and looking at the unreachable distance, she wisely chose to give up. Her footsteps stopped in front of Renly, and she rolled her eyes, speechless. “So, this is how you welcome me? How long has it been since we last saw each other… the Christmas two years ago?”
“That should be my question,” Renly was unmoved. “Judging from your tone just now, you obviously knew I would appear today, but you didn’t call me in advance?”
This counter-question made the girl stunned for a moment. She helplessly waved her hand, “You don’t need to show off your intelligence in front of me.”
Renly shrugged his shoulders. He was not convinced at all. This girl was definitely not someone who could be easily bullied. “I’m just gathering evidence for future use.”
“Hey!” The girl raised her voice complainingly but after glancing at Renly she ultimately didn’t refute his words. “How about you delete that photo, and I’ll arrange better lighting and angle, and we can take a new one. I don’t trust your photography skills. They are just entry-level.”
Looking at the girl’s disapproving face, Renly did not argue. In fact, she was indeed his photography master. “No need. Anyway, no one who is likely to see this photo later will know how to appreciate your photography skills.”
The girl pursed her lips, not denying. She knew that what Renly said was true.
“Tell me, why did you appear here? And you came out of the media room, which means that you are part of the interview team today.” Just from a single look and the clues being put together, Renly had guessed the truth. “But actually, shouldn’t you be working for the United Nations in Sudan? At least that’s what George and Elizabeth told me.”
Standing in front of Renly was his sister, Edith Hall. She was his biological second sister and had a talent for fine arts. However, she gave up fine arts after growing up and became interested in photography, becoming a professional photographer.
Photography is, in a way, a product of fine art relying on modern technology. Plus, as a woman, in the traditional view of the aristocratic family, she can choose her own interests and hobbies, and in the future, she would choose a husband who matches her status, and that was enough. It’s like Elizabeth having her own gallery. Although the traditional British aristocracy still has many restrictions on women, they have made great progress.
Edith’s smartest move was to choose the United Nations as her business partner which gave her an excuse to travel around the world as an officially employed photographer to complete the shots for charity. Such an act is highly praised even among the British aristocracy. Therefore, the family did not object too much about Edith’s choice.
Last month, a seven-year civil war ended in Sudan, and therefore Republic of Sudan was officially established. The UN peacekeeping force is still dealing with follow-up matters in Sudan, so Edith should be in Sudan now, not Los Angeles.
Edith rolled her eyes, “God, I knew I shouldn’t have taken this job.” In fact, she only found out after accepting the job that the male lead of “The Pacific” was Renly. It was too late to pull out then.
But it’s not Edith’s style to simply capitulate, “If our family finds out that you have become a TV actor, not a movie actor or a drama actor, but a cheap soap opera actor, do you think they will come to personally arrest you?” She was trying to gain her own bargaining chips.
Renly, this cunning guy, took a photo as his first reaction when they met, obviously foreseeing the current situation, putting the whole situation under his control. Edith couldn’t help but grind her teeth secretly. Everyone thought that Renly was a well-behaved and elegant gentleman, but only she saw through the true face of this cute little brother of hers. It really made her shed tears of bitterness.
“Crocodile tears won’t work.” Not to mention that Renly was reborn and was not easy to fool, just the fact that they have known each other for twenty years, would make him familiar with Edith’s tricks and so she can’t deceive him? “George and Elizabeth have cut off all my financial resources. They are refusing to call me for the last six months. So…” Renly shrugged, meaning that Edith’s threats were useless.
Edith opened her mouth to say something, but Renly was quicker, “Arthur knows about ‘The Pacific’ and he wrote an email to mock me.” In the eyes of many nobles, TV actors cannot even be called “actors.”
“Damn Arthur.” That guy is all bark and no bite. Edith cursed.
Edith took out a cigarette from her pocket, lit it quickly, held it in her mouth, and scratched her head in annoyance. Renly, on the other hand, was not in a hurry and stood quietly beside her. Then he took a step aside, making way for her. Edith noticed this small gesture and her eyes widened. “Don’t tell me you’re trying to get the hotel camera to film me hoping they will kick me out?”
Renly’s face was full of innocence. “Edith, have you been in Africa for too long and developed paranoia?” Okay, his plan was exposed, and that is kind of disappointing.
Edith narrowed her eyes and looked at Renly for a moment, then turned around and quickly walked towards the balcony at the end of the corridor. Without looking back, she knew that Renly would follow her. Sure enough, when she turned around on the balcony, she saw Renly standing under the pale-yellow light. Edith placed her hands on the railing, “Speak, what do you want?”
If Renly had told their family about her situation, she would have had to suffer for quite some time to come; and considering that their family had ignored Renly for over six months, who knows if they would have taken their grievances out on her. Edith knew that she had no room for rebuttal.
“You owe me a favor.” Renly calmly said, not jumping into her trap. “You’ll be responsible for taking the pictures later, right? You better not treat me as a guinea pig.” There were no extra words, but his threatening tone was crystal clear.
Edith exhaled a puff of smoke speechlessly, “You must know that everyone else is lining up for me to take their pictures. This time, Vanity Fair has been communicating with me for two months just to invite me to take pictures.”
Renly suddenly realized something and nodded, “So, this is not your first-time shooting character photos for a magazine. Does that mean you’ve never been to Sudan before? Hmm… I should check the famous magazine photoshoots in the past few months.” Renly looked at Edith seriously, “Is it a fashion magazine?”
Edith fiercely bit the cigarette, realizing that she had made a mistake and missed the opportunity, but she still stumbled in front of Renly. “Didn’t I just use you as a test subject in junior high school to learn a little bit? It’s just a small matter. Why hold a grudge for so long?” Edith muttered, but Renly couldn’t help raising his eyebrows – lying on a bench with only his waist supporting him, demonstrating a flexible posture for a high-altitude landing, and shooting for two hours for a one take, was that just a small matter? Or standing in a fountain in the middle of winter and posing as Popeye, tossing and turning all afternoon, was that also a small matter?
Seeing the gleam in Renly’s eyes, Edith immediately accepted the offer, “Deal!” Originally, she was thinking of challenging Renly to a high difficulty move during the photoshoot today. She had imagined several different actions at home yesterday and was so happy that she almost laughed out loud, but now it was all gone!
Renly nodded in agreement, and Edith took a hard puff of her cigarette, to express her dissatisfaction. But she didn’t argue anymore. Although Renly had a belly full of bad water, he was definitely a person who kept his promises, so Edith didn’t have to worry. “Do you really plan to continue on the path of an actor? You are a smart person; you should know how unreliable this path is.”
“Then what do you suggest?” Renly half-jokingly asked.
Edith thought seriously for a moment. She and Renly were the same kind of people, rebellious at heart, and had always been trying to break free from the shackles and oppression of British traditional aristocracy.
In fact, she admired Renly very much. From choosing a major at Cambridge University, to dropping out and going to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in the UK, to raising enough funds and rushing to New York in one go, he carefully planned every step of the way, resisting the huge pressure from home, and truly starting his acting career. Deep down, she hoped that Renly would succeed, and then perhaps she could truly get rid of the shackles brought by the label “woman.”
“Become a better actor,” Edith replied, which made Renly smile. “This time, according to the editor of ‘Vanity Fair,’ you should be the absolute core protagonist, and the focus should be on you. Spielberg seems to have a different view of you too. Tell me, what did you do?” Edith stubbed out the cigarette and walked back to the room with Renly side by side. “Spielberg has no interest in men, so how did you manage to win him over? You are a new actor with no connections, it doesn’t make sense for this to happen without someone enforcing any hidden rules!”
Renly deliberately ignored Edith’s serious question that to him was nonsense – if he took it seriously, he would have been reincarnated long ago, “Can’t you think of any other reason?”
“I can’t think of any,” Edith replied firmly.
Renly glanced at Edith speechlessly, “Then you can ask the editor or Steven.”
“They would definitely tell me it’s because of your ability. Haha, only fools would believe that,” Edith replied, clapping her hands and laughing loudly, obviously retaliating for the forced transaction just now.
Renly shrugged casually, “As far as I know, someone is a fool.” After speaking, Renly pushed open the room door, picked up his suitcase, and walked in. Edith was left behind, biting her lip in frustration, “Renly Hall!” But what greeted her was the slowly closing wooden door, which truly made her furious!
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