Ex-Girlfriend – Chapter 80

Amusing Ourselves to Death Arc

Agent 17

When Xin Lan received the script, Shen Yun was doing a commercial shoot at the local TV station. When the time was about right, Xin Lan drove to the TV station and waited in her car.

When Shen Yun came out, she was wearing sunglasses, and Miao Miao and Zhou Qinqin followed her.

“Yun Jie, Lan Jie’s car is in the parking lot. She’s letting you use her car.”

Zhou Qinqin said as she wiped the sweat from her forehead while walking.

“She’s here to pick me up?”

Shen Yun raised an eyebrow, somewhat surprised.

Xin Lan used to pick her up whenever it was convenient, whenever she had time. But ever since that incident happened, she hadn’t come to pick her up again.

“She shouldn’t be putting all her attention on her new baby now. She actually has the time to care about me.”

Shen Yun chuckled, while Miao Miao and Zhou Qinqin remained silent. She pursed her lips, finding it quite uninteresting.

As they reached the parking lot, Shen Yun immediately spotted the familiar car.

Opening the passenger side door, Shen Yun sat down while chewing gum.

“Busy bee, long time no see.”

Shen Yun hadn’t seen Xin Lan for half a month, and all the instructions had been relayed through Zhou Qinqin on Xin Lan’s behalf. She felt like a spinning top, no fun at all. The only interesting thing had been during the commercial shoot when she hit it off with a young female model.

The model had a slim waist and long legs, but the only thing she wasn’t satisfied with was that she was a runway model, straightforward and plain. After their encounter, she had blocked her number.

“Well, here I am.”

Xin Lan fastened her seatbelt and started the car.

She had already arranged for Zhou Qinqin and Miao Miao to take Ah Kun’s car back, so now it was just the two of them in the car.

“Do you know why I came to find you?”

“It can’t possibly be to rekindle the past.”

Shen Yun scoffed, taking off her sunglasses.

Shen Yun’s attitude became somewhat sharp. When facing Xin Lan, it didn’t seem like she was talking to her manager or her ex-girlfriend. Her prickly demeanor might give the impression that Xin Lan had wronged her.

In reality, it was her own failed attempt at reconciliation that made her uneasy, no matter how she treated Xin Lan.

Saying she didn’t like Xin Lan at all was impossible, and saying she didn’t care about Xin Lan wasn’t accurate either.

Xin Lan, unperturbed by her tone, turned the steering wheel.

“Four days ago, at 11:30 PM, at the Yihan Grand Hotel…”

“You’ve been following me?”

Shen Yun’s expression changed as soon as Xin Lan mentioned the time, and she interrupted Xin Lan when she mentioned the name of the hotel.

“I’m not that bored. You’ve been caught cheating once before; you’d think you’d be smarter about it,” Xin Lan retorted.

Xin Lan pulled out a photo and tossed it in front of Shen Yun.

In the photo, Shen Yun had her eyes closed, with a lingering blush on her face.

There wasn’t anything explicit in the photo, but it was quite clear.

Shen Yun clenched the photo and muttered a curse under her breath.

That day, she had a nagging feeling that something wasn’t right. She opened her eyes and saw that the person had their arm stretched out, probably hiding a cellphone.

“Are there any other photos?”

Shen Yun’s heart sank. She wondered how that person managed to take so many pictures.

“No more photos. They just want some money, not a lot, and I’ll deduct it from what I owe you.”

Xin Lan replied, looking like she was enjoying the drama. Shen Yun couldn’t hide her unease.

“Did you come here just to tell me this?”

“I also have something else. There’s an IP drama in the works, and I handed you a script. I think it looks promising.”

“I heard Qiu Nan is also going.”

Shen Yun widened her eyes and sat up straight.

Qiu Nan was an actress who had been in the industry for many years, won awards, and starred in several hit dramas. If Qiu Nan was auditioning for the role, it meant the drama had potential.

When they hit a red light, Xin Lan’s phone chimed with a message notification.

With one hand on the steering wheel, Xin Lan used the other to check her messages.

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【Ran An】: Lan, did the “Xiao Man” drama team give a script to your friend Shen Yun? I just heard someone mention it.

【Xin Lan】: Yes, they did. What’s going on?

【Ran An】: Tell your friend Shen Yun not to bother; it’s just a formality.

【Xin Lan】: She’s already been selected?

【Xin Lan】: By whom?

【Ran An】: I’m not sure either.

【Xin Lan】: Is the source of this information reliable?

【Ran An】: Absolutely reliable.

【Xin Lan】: Alright, thanks. Let’s have dinner sometime when you’re free.

As the red light turned green, Xin Lan placed her phone on her lap and continued driving in the direction of Shen Yun’s house.

“Qiu Nan is going too… I haven’t been keeping up with her. What has she been filming lately?”

Shen Yun’s fingers rubbed against each other, a sign of her restlessness.

“I haven’t been paying much attention either. You can look it up yourself.”

Shen Yun picked up her phone and started searching on Baidu.

“It seems like she hasn’t had any projects in the past six months. Huh.”

She closed the webpage, feeling a lot less anxious.

Qiu Nan was already in her thirties, and age-wise, Shen Yun had the advantage. Plus, she was currently popular in the industry, so Qiu Nan shouldn’t be much of a threat.

“This role isn’t pre-determined, right?”

“No,” Xin Lan smirked. “I believe you can definitely secure the lead role.”

“Of course.”

Shen Yun lifted her chin, like a proud peacock.

“The director of this drama is the one who directed ‘One Step to Heart,’ and the writer is a well-known figure in the industry. It’s likely scheduled for the winter holiday season.”

As Shen Yun listened to Xin Lan’s words, her smile deepened.

She needed a continuous stream of projects to maintain her popularity, and this drama’s lead role was undoubtedly meant for her.

Xin Lan watched Shen Yun’s happiness, concealing her underlying coldness beneath her smile.

Enjoy it now, because when you find out the results, you’ll realize how tough it can be.

Shen Yun was currently in high spirits, feeling that she deserved the female lead role. She didn’t even consider how she had reached her current position and how much the original host had sacrificed for her.

When Shen Yun had just started out, she had a sharp edge, and many employers approached the original host to have Shen Yun accompany them for drinks.

The original host refused to let Shen Yun face those situations and was willing to endure stomachaches and harassment from employers rather than allow Shen Yun to go through it.

Shen Yun was aware of all this, and she wondered why she appeared so innocent on the surface. She simply watched as others sacrificed for her, eventually pushing them to their limits.

People with a shred of conscience would never behave this way.

Xin Lan dropped Shen Yun off at her home and handed her the script.

“Don’t you want to come up for a while?”

Shen Yun extended an invitation, in a good mood.

Xin Lan shook her head, watching as Shen Yun closed the car door.

Indeed, in this situation, it was more satisfying to watch someone fall into a pit rather than dealing with it directly.

Xin Lan opened WeChat and instructed Zhou Qinqin and Miao Miao to flatter Shen Yun over the next few days, but not too excessively. They needed to be clever about it, making sure Shen Yun floated on cloud nine, feeling extremely self-confident.

After returning home, Xin Lan used her connections to find out more about the situation regarding “Xiao Man.”

It turned out that some wealthy investor had pushed for Shen Yun, even getting Qiu Nan to accept a supporting role.

When Xin Lan saw the name of the pre-determined female lead, she nearly burst into laughter.

Perhaps this was fate.

That female star’s name was Lan Rui, Shen Yun’s former rival. In Shen Yun’s own words, she considered Lan Rui an annoying little pest and an underling.

In reality, Lan Rui had been in the industry longer than Shen Yun, but Shen Yun had risen quickly with the help of the original host. Naturally, Lan Rui couldn’t stand Shen Yun.

Before, Lan Rui had some powerful connections, and Shen Yun used to play supporting roles under her. Shen Yun couldn’t stand Lan Rui’s influential backers and deliberately caused trouble for her during a project. Lan Rui was cast as the lead actress, and Shen Yun was supposed to play the second female lead. Shen Yun intentionally delayed and disrupted the filming, causing conflicts.

Lan Rui held a grudge, and during the latter half of the project, she made things difficult for Shen Yun. Shen Yun was undoubtedly dissatisfied and spoke with sarcasm. When they wrapped up filming, she even made some ambiguous remarks, like wishing Lan Rui better sleep.

As time passed, Shen Yun’s career soared while Lan Rui’s declined. The two had several heated conflicts on social media, but Shen Yun’s fans overwhelmingly outnumbered Lan Rui’s. Shen Yun emerged victorious and naturally stopped paying attention to Lan Rui. However, Lan Rui still held a grudge.

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If Shen Yun found out that the female lead role she had meticulously prepared for was snatched by Lan Rui, who knows how angry she’d become. Xin Lan chuckled at the thought.

She couldn’t wait to witness that scene.

After settling things with Shen Yun, Cheng Zhi had long joined the web drama crew, so Xin Lan shifted her focus back to Qin Yuyan.

Thinking about Qin Yuyan, a smile appeared on Xin Lan’s face.

It wasn’t that she was unhappy, but she didn’t know how to respond to the way Qin Yuyan looked at her. She chose to act as if she couldn’t see it, putting that matter on hold amidst her busy schedule.

As Xin Lan was preparing to leave the company, she was stopped by Xu Fang.

It wasn’t anything major; he simply invited her to have dinner.

Given that the boss had spoken, and Xin Lan had some free time, she agreed without hesitation.

It wasn’t until she saw Caitlin in the car that Xin Lan remembered she hadn’t been in contact with Caitlin for nearly half a month.

She had been too busy making money to attend Caitlin’s birthday party that day. She had asked Xu Fang to bring a gift on her behalf.

Xu Fang had chosen a Japanese restaurant with a nice ambiance.

Xin Lan greeted Caitlin, who nodded in response, as quiet as ever.

Xin Lan exchanged a few words with Caitlin occasionally but didn’t make a concerted effort to show concern.

For Caitlin, the close sisterly bond she had was with the original host, not Xin Lan. Xin Lan saw no need to maintain this relationship any further. Caitlin’s desire was for the original host, not her.

Xu Fang didn’t stay long; he took a call and left the room. Now, it was just Xin Lan and Caitlin sitting across from each other.

“Lan Jie.”


“You once told me, ‘Do what makes you happy, accept the consequences.’ I’ve been thinking about it for a long time,” Caitlin looked at Xin Lan with clear, watery eyes. “I originally planned to use my birthday as an opportunity to finally say something I’ve never been able to say, but the person I was waiting for didn’t show up that day.”

Xin Lan locked eyes with her, feeling a sense of unease.

It couldn’t be what she was thinking, could it?

What’s going on in this world? Is it some kind of trend for everyone to engage in same-sex relationships just because the scumbag is female?

In her previous worlds, did no one ever step forward to confess or have feelings for her?

But as Xin Lan pondered, it didn’t make sense for such a situation to occur during school hunts or haunted houses. In her previous life, she was a discarded princess, and her status wouldn’t have allowed for such circumstances.

“We’ve known each other for a long time, and I was really grateful when you appeared in my life back then. No one had ever been there for me like you, encouraging me. I remember many of the things you said to me…”

Caitlin took a deep breath, and her eyes were filled with anticipation as she looked into Xin Lan’s eyes.

“I like you, I’ve liked you for a long time, but I never dared to say it. You’re so capable, and I’m not good at anything. I know you’re busy, and I didn’t want to confuse you. I’ve noticed your distance from me, but I just felt that if I didn’t say it, I would regret it for the rest of my life.”

After Caitlin finished speaking, it seemed like she had unloaded a heavy burden, and her whole demeanor relaxed.

Xin Lan didn’t respond quickly, taking a moment to think.

Even though she had been prepared for this, she didn’t show any shock. Xin Lan didn’t immediately deny Caitlin’s words either.

Caitlin used to have a somewhat withdrawn personality and had gradually improved with the help of the original host. Xin Lan wouldn’t completely crush those traits.

Xin Lan remained calm, while someone just a wall away was practically tearing their heart out, itching to eavesdrop.

Qin Yuyan hadn’t initially planned to go out today, but her cousin, Qin Susu, insisted on meeting her. She claimed to have discovered an excellent Japanese restaurant and wanted to share it with Qin Yuyan.

Qin Yuyan had a good relationship with her cousin, and since Qin Susu had insisted, she didn’t want to decline. Besides, she had been struggling studying her script lately, and a change of scenery sounded like a good idea. So she accompanied Qin Susu.

The Japanese restaurant didn’t have great privacy, and even though there was a partition, it couldn’t block sound very effectively.

Qin Yuyan and Qin Susu had been leisurely enjoying their meal, paying no attention to the people next to them. It wasn’t until there was a change in the adjacent seats that Qin Yuyan recognized a familiar voice and started paying attention to the activity next door.

So it happened quite naturally that Qin Yuyan overheard a confession from a certain girl to her crush.

Qin Susu didn’t notice her cousin’s unusual behavior and continued to enjoy her sashimi while playfully winking at Qin Yuyan.

“I didn’t expect to stumble upon this while having a meal. I doubt the girl confessing has much hope.”

Qin Susu lowered her voice and mumbled somewhat indistinctly. Qin Yuyan let out a soft snort upon hearing it.

It would be best if there wasn’t much hope. If Xin Lan accepted someone else’s confession, she’d have nowhere to cry.

“Why do you look so fierce, sis? You might just scare that piece of meat into pieces.”

Qin Yuyan picked up the piece of meat and sent it into her mouth, thinking that her cousin didn’t understand a thing. The person her sister liked was being confessed to right next door, and if her sister could still laugh about it, there must be something wrong.

As for the outcome of this confession, without Xin Lan explicitly stating it, Caitlin already knew what it was.

The light in her eyes gradually dimmed. In fact, the result was quite obvious, regardless of her willingness to give it a try.

“Caitlin, look into my eyes. Are you sure you like me and not just the feeling of my companionship?”

Caitlin followed Xin Lan’s words and looked into her eyes, realizing that she hadn’t truly gazed into those eyes or at that face for a long time.

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As their eyes met, Caitlin felt like she had stumbled into a silent mountain range, an abyss of depth that made her heart flutter. It was different from the usual feeling of excitement.

Caitlin was perplexed. She should like Xin Lan, right? This person was so gentle; how could she not like her?

But when she looked into those eyes, she felt an unprecedented sense of unfamiliarity with this face.

“Sister Lan… I…”

Xin Lan smiled at her, rendering any further words unnecessary.

“Are you full?”

Caitlin nodded.

“Be careful on your way back.”


Xin Lan pushed open the door and stepped out first. When she was about to settle the bill, she was informed that it had already been paid for.

Xin Lan thought it must have been Xu Fang who had taken care of it. When she exited the restaurant, she saw Xu Fang leaning against the car, smoking. He waved to Xin Lan as she approached.

“She didn’t succeed, did she?”

“Are you hoping she succeeded, or hoping she didn’t?”

Xin Lan teased.

“Let’s say I’m half and half. It’s okay if it didn’t work out. You two aren’t suitable for each other.”

Xu Fang crushed the cigarette in his hand and tossed it into the trash.

Xin Lan chuckled and got into the car. When she glanced back, she thought she saw someone who looked like Qin Yuyan, but it was just a fleeting glimpse, and she wasn’t sure if it was her. Nevertheless, whether it was her or not, it didn’t matter.

When Qin Susu came out, she saw that Qin Yuyan had already settled the bill and was waiting for her at the door.

“Sis, how about we go shopping?”

“Something came up, no time.”

“Where are you going?”

“To read a script.”

“Oh? You got a role? Alright then, get back to work quickly. Good luck!”

“Yeah, see you.”

After bidding farewell to Qin Susu, Qin Yuyan wasted no time and hurried back to read the script.

She was in a good mood now, as the confession attempt from that unknown girl had failed. As a rival in love, she couldn’t be happier.

Qin Yuyan had contemplated confessing her feelings as well, but her rationality prevailed. The current situation between her and Xin Lan wasn’t suitable for such a confession. If she rushed into it and confessed now, Xin Lan, who barely knew her, would likely decline. That would make things incredibly awkward.

It wasn’t the right time to break the ice yet. Qin Yuyan needed to secure this script first. If she failed at this, she would let Xin Lan down, considering her expectations.

Everything was on track. Xin Lan was busy maintaining her connections and exchanging messages with various contacts.

A few days before Qin Yuyan’s upcoming audition, Xin Lan knocked on her door to inquire about her progress.

When Qin Yuyan opened the door, her room was quite dim. The curtains in the living room were drawn, shrouding everything in darkness, despite it being daytime.

“Ah Lan?”

Qin Yuyan’s voice carried a hint of uncertainty. She turned on the lights, looking somewhat bewildered.

Qin Yuyan’s complexion didn’t look great, and she appeared somewhat disheveled.

“Why did you make yourself look like this?”

Xin Lan furrowed her brow. Qin Yuyan looked far from her usual dazzling self.

“I’m trying to get into the character’s mindset.”

When Qin Yuyan couldn’t find the right emotions, she would do this. She’d block out all sources of light, immerse herself in darkness, and then slowly dive into her emotions to find the right feeling. She’d try to envision what the character’s inner world was like and how she should express herself appropriately.

For the parts she felt confident about, she would practice in front of the mirror. However, there was one aspect she just couldn’t grasp.

“Not going well?”

“There’s one part where I can’t find the right feeling.”

Thirteen days might be a bit rushed for this. Some actors need one to two months to prepare and immerse themselves in a role. Qin Yuyan wasn’t entirely satisfied with that specific part from the beginning, but she didn’t linger on it stubbornly. Instead, she tackled other aspects first before attempting to overcome the most challenging part.

“Let me take a look at the script, and tell me where you’re struggling.”

When Qin Yuyan handed her the script, Xin Lan only skimmed through it briefly. She felt there weren’t any major issues and handed it back to Qin Yuyan. If they wanted to delve into the character’s inner world, she’d need to go through it more thoroughly.

Qin Yuyan passed her the script and then went to open the curtains.

Sunlight flooded the room, brightening it up. Qin Yuyan turned off the lights, and while Xin Lan was engrossed in reading the script, she went to the kitchen.

“Ah Lan, what would you like to drink? Coffee, tea, or orange juice?”

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Qin Yuyan acknowledged and started grinding coffee beans.

Xin Lan lay on the couch, beginning to read the script. The script had some annotations, and she glanced at those as well.

The script’s title was “Restart.”

The first page of the script contained two lines:

“Restart always happens countless times.”

“Everything you think has ended is actually just the beginning.”

X was an undercover agent working under a powerful drug lord. He was determined to serve his country, spending a decade undercover, diligently searching for evidence. However, in the end, he failed.

This was just the beginning of the script. Before his death, X thought that if he could start over, he would ensure that his plan didn’t fail. When he lost consciousness, he found himself back in time before the plan went awry.

He was filled with anxiety and confusion, but he remained calm and strived to perfect the aspects that had gone wrong previously.

However, when it was time to submit the evidence, he realized that the previously agreed-upon contact had betrayed him, and he once again found himself in danger.

This time, he was contemplating what he would do differently if he could restart, particularly in choosing a new contact.

He miraculously woke up again, returning to the moment when he was searching for the contact. He still couldn’t understand why he could experience this restart. He turned the car around and took a different path, passing on the intelligence through another contact.

He initially thought he could succeed this time, but before the drug lord died, he wanted to kill him as well. This time, he remained astonishingly calm. Restarting to the point just before his death, he evaded the drug lord and successfully stayed alive. He ended his undercover career and returned to normal society.

As a result, his life had restarted three times.

However, ending his undercover mission didn’t mean the end of everything.

After returning, he discovered that the lover he hadn’t had a chance to say goodbye to had fallen into a life of hardship long ago, forced into prostitution.

When they met, the woman’s makeup couldn’t hide her aging; she seemed like a walking corpse. She recognized him in an instant, her eyes briefly lighting up before quickly extinguishing.

X felt deep regret; if he hadn’t gone undercover, their lives wouldn’t have taken this dark turn.

One struggled with sleepless nights due to ten years of undercover experiences, while the other was forcibly broken.

So, he wanted to restart once more. He chose to end his life, and as he wished, he returned to a point before going undercover.

This time, he rejected the undercover mission and enjoyed a peaceful life as a small-time policeman with his girlfriend.

If it were to end just here, this would be a happy story, but reality isn’t that simple.

On their wedding day, the wedding procession encountered an accident on the way to the ceremony venue, and the bride’s wedding gown was stained red with blood.

At a moment he had eagerly anticipated, he received such tragic news.

Unable to bear it, he broke down and took his own life.

So life rewound once more, and this time, he successfully married his wife.

Because he had to investigate a case, his wife was home alone, and someone broke into their house. When he rushed back, his wife couldn’t be saved and died.

He had become numb to it all, numb enough to kill himself and let life restart again.

Whenever he thought it was the last time he’d rewind, new misfortunes would always emerge, so he restarted once more.

“Everything you think is the end is actually just the beginning.”

At the end of the story, he faced an approaching car, descending into eternal darkness.

At the end of the script, there were X’s lines.

“At that moment, I suddenly felt that maybe I could never rewind again. In reality, life can’t be rewound.”

The character that Qin Yuyan was going to portray was X’s lover.

The first time, she was a fallen woman, a lively body containing a withered and decaying soul.

The second time, she was a simple woman, radiating happiness, who died at the most beautiful moment of her life.

The third and fourth times, she was a different character each time.

“The coffee is ready.”

Qin Yuyan placed the coffee in front of Xin Lan, along with milk and sugar cubes.

Xin Lan prepared her coffee according to her taste, adding milk and sugar cubes, then stirring with a small spoon.

“Was it the first part that was troublesome?”

“Yes, that expression. I always feel like I’m not doing it right, unable to convey that feeling.”

The feeling of being alive yet dead.

The first part is actually the most challenging in terms of performance. When the first love sees X, at first, she doesn’t recognize him. Her face is heavily made up, and she’s wearing an artificial seductive smile to attract customers. When their eyes meet, X’s face reveals complexity, and she finally realizes who the person in front of her is. Her initial reaction upon recognizing him is to hide.

It’s like something dirty suddenly exposed to the light, causing fear and panic.

In that section, she doesn’t have major action scenes, just a smile and a moment of stiffness. All the emotions are conveyed through her facial expressions and subtle hand movements.

Standing in the shadows, bathed in sunlight, surrounded by noise, she wears a smile on her face, but her eyes are hollow. Like a ghost living in broad daylight, lonely and without refuge.

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Empathic Wan

Who is Lin Yan? Is that supposed to be Xin Lan? I’m so confused.

Little Panda
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