Chapter 84 – Shameless
When he returned to the apartment, the sun had already started to set in the west. Today, the New York sunlight was particularly brilliant, with a bright red halo spreading across the sky and even the Hudson River was dyed a pale golden colour, looking grand and magnificent. Many people on the street stopped in their tracks, taking out their phones to capture this wonderful moment.
Pushing open the apartment door, the dazzling light spilled into every corner of the living room, making it so bright that it was almost blinding.
The floor was covered with balloons of various colors, and there were two large bags of uninflated balloons and an air pump on the table. The sofa was piled high with ribbons and colored lights, making it look like all the Christmas decorations had been brought out. On the right side of the entrance, there was a large box filled with disposable cups, plates, and similar items.
The atmosphere of a party permeated every corner.
“Renly?” Chris’s cheerful voice came out from the room. “Renly! I’m currently looking for the right outfit! I’m hosting a costume party tonight, how about joining it? Even though Chris was in his room, it didn’t affect his good mood at all. His loud voice conveyed his joyful excitement clearly, and the room seemed to come alive with his words. “Tell me you’re definitely attending! Get your costume ready now!”
In the midst of their conversation, Chris rushed out of the room, holding a hollow leather vest in his left hand and a set of police uniforms in his right. He asked, “What do you think? A little devil or the allure of a uniform?”
At this moment, Chris is wearing loose shorts, bare-chested, with his long golden hair casually tied into a ponytail. He held the garments high in his hands. Though he didn’t have a purposeful smile, his eyes sparkled with excitement, shining in the evening sun.
“Little devil,” Renly raised his right hand and replied with a smile.
Chris’s eyes lit up, “I thought the same. So, what are you planning to dress up as tonight? You always had endless creative ideas. Last Halloween, you weren’t in New York, and the parties here were quite lackluster.”
“Why the sudden interest in throwing a party?” Renly asked and didn’t answer the Chris’s question, as he was walking over to the sofa in the center of the living room and taking a seat on the single chair next to it.
Chris hesitated for a moment, and his gaze seemed to evade Renly for a moment, “Oh, nothing… I just suddenly felt like having a good time. You know, I’ve been quite busy and tense lately, and it’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a party.”
“Indeed, we do need to relax,” Renly chuckled. This made Chris relax a bit, and he nodded in agreement. But then Renly continued, “Actually, I have some good news today. Let’s have a party to celebrate it. I’ve received a new project, and if everything goes as planned, we’ll start shooting next week.”
Without any pause, Renly shared the good news. Chris’s facial expression contorted uncontrollably, and he felt a sense of unease deep inside. Renly received a new project? What project is it? Is it a major production? Does it have anything to do with Paramount? What’s going on?
Without waiting for Chris to clear his thoughts, Renly continued, “I heard in the Union that you also received a new project?”
Caught off guard, Chris actually took a small step back, unsteady, and said, “Uh, yes, I did.” Chris nodded instinctively, giving an affirmative response. He lifted his head and glanced at Renly, and saw those bright, unfathomable eyes, as if they could peer into his true thoughts. This made him nervously lower his gaze, wanting to turn and run, but his feet were firmly planted in place.
“Congratulations!” Renly flashed a big smile, expressing sincere congratulations.
Renly didn’t know, he shouldn’t know, and he couldn’t possibly know.
Chris tried to convince himself to calm down and avoid giving anything away. But that was clearly not an easy task. “Thank you. Congratulations to you too, by the way. You’ve finally confirmed your next project, haven’t you? So, what exactly is it?”
“An independent film,” Renly replied simply. “But I think it’s a good opportunity for me. If it were you, you probably wouldn’t be interested, right? Or maybe your agent doesn’t want you to take on this kind of project?” Renly teased with a half-smile, the light words weaving through the sunlight.
Renly’s words seemed perfectly ordinary, but Chris couldn’t shake the feeling that there was more to what he was saying, a cat-and-mouse chase feeling that made him uncomfortable. He didn’t like this sensation.
Should he stay and gather information about Renly’s new project, or should he go back to his room to avoid any risk of revealing his own secrets? Chris forced a smile, one even uglier than when he is crying, and looked back at the door to his room, then at the main door in the hallway. His chaotic gaze couldn’t focus, and his mind couldn’t settle on a course of action – there was only restlessness, intense restlessness.
“…Chris?” Renly’s voice came closer, suddenly exploding in his ear like thunder in spring. Chris reflexively looked up at Renly. “Ah?”
“I mean, what kind of project is it this time?” Renly calmly sat on the couch, relaxed and comfortable, looking entirely at ease. “Last time, you worked with Sean Bean, right? Are you teaming up with another top actor this time also?”
It’s as ordinary a question as they come, one that, in the past, Chris would have surely answered about at length. But today, he couldn’t help feeling as though Renly’s eyes could see through all of his pretenses and uncover the deepest secrets within him. This sensation was truly awful. He felt as if he was being cornered step by step, with no way out.
“…’Thor,'” Chris attempted to stand tall and answer confidently, but his voice faltered. The word ‘Thor’ seemed to nearly vanish in his throat, leaving him feeling stifled.
Chris clenched his fist and told himself quietly, ‘You earned this role with your talent, no shortcuts, pure skill!’ Back then, Renly hadn’t given ‘Thor’ much consideration, and now he would surely envy Chris for landing the role. This is the intersection of their careers. Chris would keep climbing to new heights in his career, while Renly would struggle in the niche world of independent films. So, Renly is the one who is regretful and envious now, but it is too late.
In any case, Renly would find out sooner or later. Chris decided it was better to tell him himself. He imagined Renly’s surprised and envious expression, which brought some calm to Chris. “‘Thor,’ I’ll be playing Thor, and this time, I’ll be working with Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins.” Both of them are Oscar winners, which definitely carries enough weight.
“Oh? What a rare opportunity,” Renly’s voice exclaimed with a light smile. “Not long ago, I also received an audition invitation for ‘Thor.’ It’s quite a coincidence. Hollywood is indeed a small circle, isn’t it?”
Chris could see the condescending gaze and scrutiny in Renly’s eyes, as if he was choosing merchandise on the street. The disdain and contempt in Renly’s eyes seemed to mock his arrogance. Chris is sure that Renly had already learned the truth: he had obtained the audition opportunity by taking Renly’s script. Now, Renly seemed to sit high above like a judge, passing judgment on his actions from a moral high ground.
In an instant, a sense of humiliation reached its peak, and an uncontrollable rage spread.
Why? Why did Renly put on such an air of superiority? Why does he have to be submissive in front of Renly? Why did Renly exhibit an attitude of aloofness as if he was above worldly concerns? Why did he have to grovel? He is the one who should be confident and arrogant, right? This is Hollywood, a place where success justifies any means. Renly made a choice, and he made a choice too. So why is Renly now acting like a victim?
That is ridiculous, how utterly absurd.
“Heh.” Chris puffed up his chest, raised his chin slightly, and a mocking smile couldn’t help but escape from his lips. Standing on the high ground due to his height advantage, he looked down at Renly, who is sitting on the sofa. “Yeah, I got the role, and you didn’t. So, do you regret it now?”
Chris’s response surprised Renly somewhat. His eyes narrowed slightly, never having seen this side of Chris before.
“Do you know what’s more ironic? You tossed the ‘Thor’ script aside, but it became the huge opportunity for me to audition for the role, and I secured the role in one fell swoop.” A crazy gleam flickered in Chris’s eyes, and his handsome face began to distort. “The opportunity you didn’t cherish led to my success. Do you regret it now? Are you envious? Jealous? It’s truly laughable.”