Chapter 35: The Bedwarmer
With all the witnesses and evidence gathered against him, Jiang Feng’s chances of escape slipped further and further away.
Pleading guilty was out of the question. Jiang Feng considered asking his fans for help, but those who had left the fandom were long gone by now. Those who stayed were only there out of the friendship they’d formed with other fans long ago. They loved Jiang Feng for many reasons, but the biggest reason was, and always had been, his talent for songwriting. Now that the spark that made Jiang Feng Jiang Feng was a complete hoax, there was no longer a reason to like him. Some fans liked Jiang Feng for his looks and acting skills, but wasn’t the marshal way hotter and Film King way better?
Jiang Feng begged his family for help, but he’d destroyed that possibility with his own two hands. His father asked the police to reopen Jiang Tong’s suicide case and found in his autopsy report power fluctuations identical to Jiang Feng’s. The head of the Jiang household was heartbroken. On top of that, his temper flared as Jiang Feng’s mother begged him to save her son, leading to a divorce between the couple.
Feihao Entertainment was a small company, their biggest achievement being the creation of the idol trainee competition resulting in Jiang Feng’s debut. Now, the entire company was at a standstill. With Jiang Feng tracking mud onto them, they had no choice but to cut a limb off — they issued a statement denying Jiang Feng’s actions being affiliated with them, and that the incident shocked them just as deeply as it did the public. They promised to pay compensatory fees to Chu Yunqi and Lin Ning, even implying that they’d call off Lin Ning’s debt to the company and welcome Lin Ning’s return to Feihao.
Naturally, it helped that Feihao knew Lin Ning’s songwriting talent and his acquaintance with the Film King. But it was when they were about to hand in an official invite that they were mocked by the rest of the Internet.
To give the body’s original owner closure, and to let himself live the rest of his life in peace, Lin Ning logged into the original owner’s Interstellar account to post a statement about everything he had gone through – including how Jiang Feng deliberately destroyed his voice – then tagged the director who’d spread the rumor that caused his downfall in the first place.
Perhaps it was the example the people had set with Jiang Feng that scared him. All it took was Lin Ning to mention in passing that he had evidence for the director to immediately release a thread where he “reflected deeply” on his actions, detailing how he helped Jiang Feng sabotage Lin Ning’s work and stating that nothing happened between him and Lin Ning, that the rumored images of “Lin Ning” were actually just images of an actor they hired to pose as him. He even implied that his actions were a result of Jiang Feng’s manipulative powers.
His ability to throw Jiang Feng under the bus was phenomenal.
And so Lin Ning regained every bit of glory he’d lost and didn’t let a single person who had hurt his body’s original off the hook. So much happened in such a short span of time that he could hardly catch his breath. If it weren’t for Li Chengyan, Liu Yue, and Zhang Zhining, there was no way he could’ve broken out of his past this quickly.
The original Lin Ning’s Interstellar account only had two posts: the message for the marshal and the statement against Jiang Feng.
The netizens’ opinions about him made a full 180. His post to the marshal was a smoking mess of hate comments; in this new post, there was nothing but gentle well-wishes.
If someone opened both posts at the same time, they would’ve been extremely puzzled. The comment sections were as different as fire and ice. The hate comments were vicious enough to tear a person apart, but the well-wishes were as gentle as a hearth. They praised his talents and declared that if he decided to debut again, he had all their support. There were even some people asking him to release new songs.
Not long after Lin Ning posted his statement, his account’s follower count shot from 8 million to 30 million. The two most interesting followers on his account were still Zhang Yiming and Li Chengyan.
Not only did Zhang Yiming follow Lin Ning, but he also liked his post. No one had ever seen the Film King back someone up this much their entire life. The marshal’s reaction was even more shocking: Lin Ning was the first and only person he followed online.
What the heck? This was huge drama! He had the Film King’s protection and the marshal’s affection — what kind of angel was Lin Ning?! Did that mean that the poor little Lin Ning they used to look down on was actually well-connected with the Interstellar big shots?
How did Lin Ning get to know the marshal to the point where he was the one and only person the marshal followed?
And why did the Film King treat Lin Ning so well from the start? Could he have had his eye on Lin Ning’s talents?
Their curiosity was at its peak.
The tabloid journalists were eyeing a gold mine. This was the spring of their career waiting to happen! There’d been way too much drama unfolding lately — anyone working in entertainment journaling would’ve felt this amazing warmth. Some people were born to be on the trending pages. As long as they reported things as they saw it, everything was easy money.
Lin Ning couldn’t care less about the drama. If he wanted to enjoy life for as long as he could, Lin Ning wasn’t going to reveal himself on Lemon Kitchen.
He wanted to catch his breath. That made food and his cat the best remedies in the world.
He placed a fish plushie beside Xizai. Lin Ning couldn’t help but giggle as he snapped pictures under the kitty’s cold stare.
“Alright, alright. I’ll stop messing with you. Watch me earn tons of money for you with my livestream!” Lin Ning’s final attack was a ruffle on Xizai’s soft head.
“Meow!” Xizai yelped sternly, using a paw to re-flatten its fur. It flicked its tail and swatted the fish away, parking itself down on the spot that gave it the best view of Lin Ning’s stream. The fish toy flopped sadly on the ground.
That’s fine. Xizai’s smarter than a normal kitty. Besides, it’s a crazy fighter. This is a cat from a fighting tribe we’re talking about, after all. That war god look shouldn’t surprise you.
He kept his face hidden, as usual. Lin Ning typed in the title of his stream:
“Delicious Spicy Chicken”. It’d been a while since he last did a giveaway — Lin Ning felt as if it was time he created another stir.
His audience poured into the chat box the moment they received notifications. Lin Ning had over fifty million fans on Shine at this point, making him Shine’s number one streamer.
What did it mean to have over fifty million fans? Well, if the world’s most luxurious brand wanted to hire a spokesperson with more than fifty million fans in the entertainment or sports industry, they’d only have a little over ten candidates to choose from.
Even Zhang Yiming had about ninety million fans. Lemon Kitchen didn’t have his own platform, but that didn’t affect the recognition the public gave him.
Lemon Kitchen’s “Delicious Spicy Chicken”’s stream soon became the number one most viewed current live stream on Shine’s site as the audience grew.
Everyone present had an appetite, after all! The chat began to heat up.
[Wow! Is Lemon Kitchen making spicy chicken??? I’m so excited!]
[Hey Lemon Kitchen, my family totally agrees that we should get married. What do you think? I come with a set of house property, beauty, and extreme love for washing dishes…]
[Hahahaha you’re going too far, dishwasher! Lemon Kitchen is everybody’s!!! No swiping!]
[I’m a fully-grown man but, to be honest, even I’ve started saving up some money to throw at Lemon Kitchen. Just watching his streams makes me drool. Can’t wait for him to start selling his food.]
[Same here! I don’t think virtual tasting can satisfy me anymore. This super rich kid at our office once brought one of Lemon Kitchen’s second-hand dishes to the office for us to take a sniff at. I was so jealous!]
[Exactly! Please hurry up, Lemon Kitchen! We’ll even start a crowdfunding program! Just tell us what you need!]
Lin Ning read through the bullet screen, a little shocked by the viewers’ enthusiasm. The power of food sure was incredible, huh?
Lin Ning laughed lightly. “Guess I can’t keep you guys waiting any longer. We’ll take things a step at a time. Today, we’ll focus on some spicy chicken. I’ll prepare thirty sets and pick thirty lucky winners.
“If you’re interested, you can start leaving your comments, and I’ll pick out winners from the comment section. It doesn’t matter what your comment style’s like — as long as your description of the spicy chicken’s appetizing enough, you might be a winner!”
The audience rubbed their hands together in anticipation.
[Are you finally doing another giveaway?]
[This peasant cries pathetic tears. I’ll trade my entire life for a meal like this!]
[Aaaaa I’m getting my entire family to post something! My grandad’s a high school teacher, my grandma’s a journalist, my mom’s an editor, my old man’s a commentator, and my younger brother’s a natural at kissing ass! I bet at least one of my family members will win something!]
[I’m glad I have a second account. Second account = one extra chance to win. Let’s go! I’m going to make a comment!]
[Hahahahaha don’t leave in a rush. Wake up, girl! We don’t even know what spicy chicken is! Why make a comment so soon?]
Lin Ning washed his hands, then cut a chicken thigh into cubes before placing them in a pot of boiling water. Then, he scooped up the cubes and patted them dry.
Next, he added ginger slices, cooking wine, dark soy sauce, pepper, and salt, then mixed the seasoning with his hands until the meat was dyed a dark, juicy brown.
“We’ll leave it here to marinate for half an hour.” Lin Ning pulled out some onions, ginger, garlic, and chili. He leaned back a little as his knife chopped rhythmically on the cutting board.
The onions were very fresh, so they had a kick to them. Experienced viewers turned away from their screens like Lin Ning, but newcomers fell for the trap.
[What’s going on? I feel like I’m going blind!]
[Help! The long red thing is making my eyes hurt.]
[What’s going on? I think this thing would be godly for actors! If an actor who can’t cry uses this, it’d at least make their eyes red.]
This time, Xizai was sitting a little closer to Lin Ning. When Li Ning noticed Xizai was rubbing its eyes with a paw, he set down the knife.
“What’s wrong, Xizai? Don’t rub your eyes. Let me take a look.” Lin Ning steadied Xizai’s paws. Its eyes were teary from the onions.
“Meow—” The cat swung its tail fiercely.
“Stand back, okay? I’ll warn you the next time I cut these.” Lin Ning smiled, blowing softly at Xizai’s eyes.
The audience thought they were going to melt as they watched Lin Ning leave the camera frame to talk to his cat.
[You’re so gentle, Lemon Kitchen!]
[Interested in another pet? The kind that can eat, earn its own money, and warm beds???]
The bullet screen swooshed by. Lin Ning’s eyes swept through the bullet screen.
The cat looked at Lin Ning. The young man chuckled softly, his full lips parting:
“Nah, I don’t need another one. Xizai’s really well-behaved, and he can eat and take baths, too. If I take in another one, he’d get jealous.”
The cat’s ears twitched as it listened and straightened its back, struggling to suppress its good mood. But its tail still flicked occasionally.
It looked at Lin Ning, the corner of his eyes and lips still upturned as he returned to the dishes. It couldn’t believe that all it took were a few thoughtless sentences to make its steady heart beat this fast.
The cat narrowed its eyes, scratching the table furiously. Ever since that night, when it watched Lin Ning say goodbye to the photo of himself singing onstage with red-rimmed eyes, its heart had been scrunching up and palpitating weirdly.
It wanted to put him in its mouth and take him back to the marshal’s residence.
But that was no good: One step at a time.