Surprise Resignation of Female Substitute Secretary

Chapter 34

The filming for the new season had begun. Without Su Tao there, Xie Jin's venomous commentary was updated again. It could be described as vicious.

"How did you advance with this level of skills? You should have been eliminated this round."

"Your dance looks like rehabilitation training. Stop insulting dancing."

"You have no talent. Even if you practice for ten more years you still can't make it."

"I've never seen anyone as stupid as you."

"If you want me to give you face, you need to grow a brain first."

Xie Jin did not show favoritism. He criticized almost everyone he saw. The contestants walked up confidently but walked down in tears.

Some contestants started doubting themselves after his comments. They went straight to the director team and wanted to quit after getting off stage.

After this round of filming ended, all contestants and their agencies sincerely asked the director team to invite Su Tao back as well if Xie Jin must be invited again as a judge.

They couldn't take the blow anymore. The contestants would have a mental breakdown if this continued.

The program team realized that the contestants had been feeling down these days after being hurt by Xie Jin's caustic words. Some of the more sensitive ones cried in the corner after practicing half-heartedly and lost motivation.

The director team held an emergency meeting and immediately called Su Tao, who had fair but gentle commentary. They scheduled for her to visit the training camp and film an episode.

Su Tao had just returned to the country for two days. She readily agreed but did not ask for pay. Instead she used this visit to trade for two promo spots for Xue Xinzi and Jiang Qi.

Yesterday the program team released behind-the-scene clips of contestants asking to quit tearfully after Xie Jin's caustic commentary. It generated high viewership and buzz for the show.

Strangely, there were very few people scolding Xie Jin online. Most of the comments were viewers joking that their values changed along with their facial expressions.

But most viewers sympathized with the contestants. The shippers of Xie Jin and Su Tao's CP seized the opportunity and yelled loudly for Su Tao to be invited back next episode.

The viewers had only been yelling for two days when they were pleasantly surprised to see the show promo that Su Tao would visit and observe the trainees live today.

The CP fans were elated. They felt like their ship was officially recognized. Some even jokingly called it daddy scolding the kids and mommy comforting them afterwards.

Su Tao, who had arrived at the makeup room, helplessly squeezed her brows when she saw the increasingly ridiculous comments online. She let the makeup artist do her makeup.

In the training camp, Su Yangxing kept glancing at the door and was distracted during practice after hearing Su Tao would visit. This caused him to mess up the moves repeatedly.

Jiang Qi and Su Yangxing were both assigned to Class A. After two rounds of eliminations, 1/3 of the contestants were cut. There were four classes from A to D. Class A had the fewest people, only 7. They could form a group and give a public performance.

The number of contestants increased for the other classes. Each class only had one chance to perform on stage. The classes with more contestants were at a disadvantage on stage and naturally had less exposure than the classes with fewer contestants.

Besides observing, Su Tao's visit this time also included scoring their progress. The score would be added to the individual scores during the next public performance and affect their ranking.

During the break, Jiang Qi took off his headband, gulped down a lot of water, and sat on the floor with one leg straight and one bent. He leaned his elbows on his knees and waved Su Yangxing over.

The two had built some friendship over the past few days. Jiang Qi was very capable - handsome, not very talkative, strong in singing and dancing. He was popular with both the girls and guys.

Although he looked like a player, he never actively approached anyone. Su Yangxing was an exception.

The two of them always liked to stick together.

Jiang Qi threw a bottle of water to Su Yangxing and patted the spot next to him for him to sit down.

"Waiting for your sister?" Jiang Qi's voice was not loud, only the two of them could hear.


Su Yangxing took a sip of water, his gaze still glancing at the door from time to time. He suddenly thought of something. He intentionally avoided the cameras and stuffed a letter folded into a heart shape directly into Jiang Qi's shirt pocket.

Su Yangxing said in a low voice, "A girl stopped me this morning. I thought she had a crush on me, but it turned out to be a love letter for you that she asked me to pass along."

After speaking, he pouted, not knowing if it was jealousy or envy, and sarcastically laughed, "Who still writes love letters these days?"

Jiang Qi's eyes flashed disdain as he looked at his bulging shirt pocket, but he didn't say anything. Instead, he looked at Su Yangxing probingly and asked meaningfully, "Your sister hasn't contacted your family for a year after leaving home?"

Su Yangxing did not want to talk more about the messy affairs at home. He just nodded without saying anything else.

Jiang Qi did not pursue it further either. His bright eyes turned as he asked with upturned lips, "What do you think about me becoming your brother-in-law?"

"What?" Su Yangxing almost jumped up as if his tail was stepped on. "I see you as a brother. You see me as a little nephew?"

Jiang Qi stood up and pulled him to the stretching bar in front of the mirror. He stood in front of Su Yangxing, covering his mouth, "Keep your voice down."

After two muffled "umms", Jiang Qi saw that he understood, and removed his hand.

Su Yangxing wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and lowered his voice, "What makes you qualified to be my sister's husband? Which part of you is better than my former brother-in-law?"

Jiang Qi let out a cold snort, "If your former brother-in-law was that good, your sister wouldn't have broken up with him."

"But my former brother-in-law is still better than you. He is upright and you are a flirt!"

Just as Su Yangxing's words fell, they heard a commotion outside, and vaguely heard Su Tao's voice.

The two looked at each other and quickly ran out.

In the public lounge outside the training room, two cameramen, one holding a camera and one holding a phone for livestreaming.

The female contestants had surrounded Su Tao.

Standing opposite Su Tao was a fair-skinned, petite girl with a straightforward and fiery temper. She questioned Su Tao aggressively, "I just want to ask, your scoring affects everyone's ranking. Can you be fair and transparent?"

Su Tao's makeup was exquisite. Her originally slightly red eyelids were shaded with dark red eye shadow, making her doe eyes appear pitiful and touching.

Thanks to the eye makeup, although she had no expression, she looked very helpless.

Su Tao did not answer her question directly. She knew no matter what verbal assurance she gave, it would not convince the girl and she would be forced to make promises and become passive.

So she asked back calmly. Her steady aura contrasted sharply with her image, "Where do you think I'm being unfair?"

"You gave high scores to your own company's artists." The fair girl stared straight at her.

Su Tao: "I haven't announced my scores yet. Who told you I gave high scores to my own artists?"

Su Tao's calm tone and composure made the fair girl waver a little. But she insisted Su Tao show her scores.

Su Tao looked to the director team for confirmation and got an affirmative answer. Su Tao turned her iPad screen to show the names and scores she had just given.

Liang Ke, one of the four artists from Darang Entertainment represented by Su Tao, had varying scores between 5-8 points. Xue Xinzi's dancing was poor but her vocals were strong, so her overall score was 6 points.

However, there were many artists who got 8-10 points. Even the questioning fair girl got 7 points.

The fair girl was dumbfounded. Her eyes searched the crowd and immediately spotted Tian Yingying trying to sneak away. Disregarding everything, she yelled, "Stand right there! Didn't you say Su Tao gave us all low scores and only gave high scores to her own artists?"

Tian Yingying's face flushed red. She avoided everyone's gazes and shielded her face, muttering, "How would I know you're so brainless?"

When the fair girl heard this, she suddenly realized something. Her eyes almost spat fire, "Oh~ Now I remember! You asked me to go to the program team to get Su Tao replaced as a judge initially. You intentionally used my connections to harm Su Tao, right?"

Everyone's expressions were colorful. This fair girl was indeed reckless and brainless to mention her father was a TV station leader in front of the livestream.

The viewership of the livestream skyrocketed due to this multi-layered conflict. The screen was filled with scolding Tian Yingying for being scheming and the fair girl for being stupid.

Su Tao stopped the livestream cameras that were filming the two arguing girls. She stood in front of the cameras herself and led the cameramen towards the Class A training room of the male contestants.

Everyone was moved by Su Tao's considerate action.

She was protecting the artists. Although they were stupid and malicious artists who did not deserve protection.

Next, Su Tao brought the snacks she prepared for her visit and the milk and coffee sponsored by the program. She distributed them to the four classes of male contestants and scored them.

After finishing all the procedures, Su Tao saw Su Yangxing rush out and gave him a gentle smile, "You did very well."

With just this praise, Su Yangxing jumped up on the spot. Su Tao did not talk to him further. She went straight to the dressing room to change out of the program team's clothes.

When Su Tao came out after completing the filming task, she saw Jiang Qi waiting at the door.

He was wearing athletic clothes and a white tank top with a thin shirt over it. His bangs hung naturally outside his headband. The youthful hormonal scent hit her in the face.

"What are you doing here? Has training ended?" Su Tao looked at him in surprise.

Jiang Qi put both hands in his sweatpants pockets, pursed his lips, and looked at her with clear eyes filled with dissatisfaction. His voice wasn't loud but was full of discontent. "Before signing the contract you sent me eighty WeChat messages a day, but after signing you didn't send me a single one."

Su Tao's gaze fell on the bulging heart shape in his thin jacket's chest pocket, distracting her from his complaints. She absentmindedly reassured him, "Don't worry, I've signed you already. How could I not take care of you?"

Jiang Qi: "...I'm not saying you don't care about me... What are you doing?"

Su Tao's snow-white little hand had already reached for his chest. Jiang Qi's body instantly tensed up, and his Adam's apple rolled as his wildly beating heart calmed down.

He realized her fingers had simply pinched the heart-shaped note out of his shirt pocket.

Jiang Qi's mind seemed to short circuit for a moment before he suddenly realized she was holding a love letter that another girl had given him. He immediately reached out to grab it back.

Su Tao nimbly dodged him.

She narrowed her eyes at his slightly flushed face and held up the letter, her face cold as she asked, "A love letter?"

"Uh, I don't know who gave it to me. I never read them, just throw them away directly. Don't get the wrong idea, I'm not involved with any woman."

Jiang Qi's sudden stream of explanations oozed guilt, forcing Su Tao to seriously re-examine him.

"Jiang Qi, although there's no clause in our contract banning you from dating, if you want a future, you can't date. Dating leaves open the possibility of discovery and exposure. Do you know how many people are watching you every day, how many rivals are jealous of you?" She continued, "Let me put it this way. The dirt I have on those rivals is enough to shield you if anything comes out about you. If I can uncover things about others, so can they about you. Do you understand?"

But Jiang Qi's expression calmed down as she spoke, and his clear eyes darkened with inscrutable emotion. "You're only worried I'll hinder my career?"

Su Tao looked at him, blinking. "What else?"

Jiang Qi gazed at her as she stepped forward, seeming about to say something when an incoming call interrupted them.

Su Tao's face lit up joyfully when she saw the call was from the DG brand executive she had been trying to reach. She placed a finger to her lips, signaling Jiang Qi to be quiet.

She finally connected with the DG brand executive and answered the phone with a beaming smile, returning the love letter to Jiang Qi and pointing at him warningly.

Jiang Qi watched her retreating figure, his expression darkening as he tore the heart shape in half and threw it in the nearby trash can.


The goodwill Su Tao had accumulated during the livestream not only earned her countless positive reviews.

Because of their fondness for Su Tao, netizens even specially edited compilation videos of her commentary, which were both objective and gentle. Compared especially with Xie Jin's caustic, biting critiques, her manner came off as even more warming.

Incidentally, they also compiled Su Tao's loving care for her artists and objective fairness at critical moments.

This replayed the stage performances of her four artists—Jiang Qi, Xue Xinzi, Liang Ke—unintentionally driving up several people's popularity.

With one wave of operations, without spending a cent on promotion, everyone remembered several artists and Jing Yang Entertainment. It could be called a complete success.

Late at night, by the bright floor-to-ceiling windows, Su Tao closed the entertainment news page on her phone at the dining table and put it down. She smiled helplessly at the man across from her and took a bite of steak.

"Not bad. You've accumulated goodwill very cost-effectively this time," Shang Haoxing said, clinking his glass against Su Tao's.

"Don't make it sound like I planned this whole thing and put on an act. This was an unexpected pleasant surprise," Su Tao said, taking a sip of red wine with him.

Ever since Shang Haoxing had returned from Chicago, he had become more cheerful and smiled more often. His year-long decadence had vanished—he was clean-shaven, had tidied his hair, and resumed the look of a professional elite.

Shang Haoxing seemed a little emotional. "We've known each other for so many years, yet I think this is the first time we've gone out to eat alone together."

He and Su Tao and Xiao Ru were university schoolmates. He was two grades above Su Tao and Xiao Ru. When Xiao Ru was a freshman, he had fallen hard for her and successfully pursued her.

At that time, Su Tao often hung out with Xiao Ru and Zhang Qi Guang, so naturally she was also very familiar with Shang Haoxing.

Back then, with Xie Jin keeping close tabs on Su Tao, there was no way for the two of them to go out alone together when Xiao Ru wasn't around.

After knowing each other close to six years, both were now single again. It felt like the passage of time had changed everything.

Shang Haoxing set down his wine glass, his gaze distant, his eyes shining with the light of rebirth. "Su Tao, I don't know why, but ever since crying in front of Xiao Ru, I suddenly let it all go. This past two years, I tried so hard to find her—it was just an excuse for the persistence in my heart. Maybe the moment she ran away, I had already stopped loving her."

Su Tao's eyes trembled faintly. She didn't know what to say.

She had witnessed his pain this past year and couldn't pretend to be a saint telling him to forgive Xiao Ru.

She could only reach out and pat Shang Haoxing's shoulder, offering silent comfort and indicating her support for any decision he made.

"What about you and Xie Jin? Is there still a possibility between you two?" Shang Haoxing was in great spirits and didn't need Su Tao's comfort.

Su Tao decisively shook her head, avoiding the topic altogether. Her reaction made Shang Haoxing laugh.

He also lifted his hand and patted her shoulder, copying her earlier gesture. They looked like two patients healing each other, and both laughed out loud.

This scene was captured by a camera.

In the black sedan across the street, red fingernails stopped recording after capturing the scene on her phone. She backed it up, replayed it, screenshotted it, posted it—after a series of operations, she drove away.

After dinner, Su Tao and Shang Haoxing each returned home. Su Tao had overeaten at dinner and deliberately walked a stretch to get home, realizing it had been a full hour by the time she reached her building.

Just as she was about to enter the complex, a low, gloomy voice suddenly sounded behind her—a voice too familiar.

"Is the trending news real?"

Su Tao turned back. Under the streetlamp, Xie Jin's chiseled features were taut, and despair was stifled in his pitch-black eyes. His whole being seemed on the verge of collapse.

Trending news? Wasn't that about her accumulating goodwill?

Su Tao was confused. What did he mean asking her if the trending news was real with an expression like that?

"What's going on with the trending news?"

Xie Jin took out his phone, gripping the edge until his fingertips turned white, clearly trying to restrain something.

On the screen was a photo—a dining table by floor-to-ceiling windows. Shang Haoxing's hand seemed to be touching her face while she looked at Shang Haoxing with a smile. The whole photo exuded an ambiguous, sweet atmosphere.

If the people in the photo weren't her, Su Tao would have concluded they were a couple.

For some reason, Su Tao found the photo's resolution, shooting angle, even blurriness, familiar.

Certain fragments from the past suddenly burst into her mind.

When she had questioned him, his cold, impatient, blunt words were like mines buried in her heart, and each one now detonated as she triggered them.

Even when they were together, he had never explained anything to her. Now on what grounds did he expect her to explain anything to him?

He had always thought she had questioned him over some baseless rumors, that she was making a fuss over nothing.

Even until now, he still hadn't properly explained that photo to her.

If he had been willing to explain back then, perhaps she and Xiao Tao Zi wouldn't have reached this point.

Under the dim streetlamp, the tall shadow lowered his head slightly, and his slender, long-fingered hand suddenly lashed out against his left cheek, leaving the fair skin slightly flushed.