41. When Problem Arise, Trouble Follows
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The weather was overcast the whole day but Maya’s mood was bright.

She opened a bottle of wine to celebrate her successful interview and toasted with her family. Manager Gina was also in their house to join the fun. 

“Maya can be a little worrisome but I trust that with your care, she will have a smooth career in this kind of business.” Mrs Luz smiled from ear to ear. 

It was thanks to this interview that the audience was able to see another side of her and forget the earlier scandal of being pulled out from Amore Jewelry.   

“This is what I should do as her manager,” Gina replied. 

“Then, in the next show, I will leave Maya to you.” 

“Please be assured. The director of Challenge Me Season Four began sending invites to the new casts. The location had been chosen as well. By next week the shooting for the casts’ background introduction interview will start. We have to ready Maya for it.”

Manager Gina left shortly after dinner leaving the mother and daughter pair having tea on the patio. 

“You did great my dear.” Mrs Luz said softly patting Maya’s hair. “Mommy is proud of you.”

“Mom, if one day Sena rebuts it, what should we do?”

Mrs Luz’s lips smeared with bright red lipstick pulled into a smirk. “The brat has no evidence to refute it. As long as I and your father stick to one statement, she will come out to be the one lying. Her mother is dead and naturally, there was no one to support her words nor does she have any evidence. Not even those friends of her mother.”

“You endured enough…” Maya sighed thinking of those days daddy could not give them any proper title. 

It was the stain she wanted to get rid of at any cost. If there is one person she hated more than Sena, that is her mother. 

“You are sick. How dare you bring your bastard near my daughter?!” 

It was Paula Erde arguing with her daddy in the study. She did not want to peek but she was curious why the beautiful lady came with her daddy inside. The result was a lifelong scar. 

Those words were still vivid in her memories until now. How can someone like her be born a bastard? Daddy surely loves her more than that girl. He buys her more toys and takes her out a lot. 

Mrs Luz is aware of her daughter’s naive thoughts so even as an illusion, she wanted to fulfil her if this is the only way to make her satisfied. Mrs Luz can only blame her lack of excellent upbringing.  

“Yes we have endured quite long enough but in the end, it was still us who won.” The woman said proudly. “Maya, always remember that one day you will surpass Sena and the only way to do that is to take away the most valuable possession she has.” 

Without the protection of her bitch of a mother, she merely a helpless pup. She will make sure to play with her nice and thorough. Watch her struggle under your eyes until she is exhausted. 

It sounded so easy but Maya knew no good thing can be instantly gained. She had to work for it step by step. She retired to bed early in a complicated mood and dialled Gina’s number.  

“Are you sure about this?” the manager asked again. 

“Yes. Do what you can.” 

After hanging up the phone, she took a bath. Before going to sleep she scanned her SNS and was greeted by the perfume ad. Maya however did not know why despite cleansing her image there was still some uncertainty lingering in her heart. She felt that things were not that simple anymore.

She tossed and turned in bed for a long time when she finally fell asleep she was shaken by a nightmare.

She was surrounded by all kinds of celebrities and businessmen as the youngest most promising figure in the country and abroad. Suddenly she found herself floating far away. Standing in her place was Sena who warmly waved and smiled at everyone. 

In her anger, she took the trophy and smashed Sena’s face in the podium until she was bloody. She kept hitting her, breaking her bones with all her strength as she poured all her resentment and jealousy. 

Finally, Sena was no longer there. There was only a small puddle of blood left. Maya laughed in satisfaction.

And she was still laughing when she woke up. 

It seemed so real she was lost in it. When she sobered from the dream, she felt empty. 

Mr and Mrs Luz were already in the dining room having breakfast when she came down. They saw her mood was a little off and she still looked sleepy.  

“Maya darling, did you not sleep well?” her mother asked concernedly. “Are you not used to your old own room?” 

She smiled weakly, “Mom, how could I not?”

“Oh, I thought you prefer your new house in the city now that you have your own space.” 

“It must be because I had an exhausting day yesterday.” Maya lied. 

Her mother nodded, “Why don’t you return to bed after breakfast? You said you still have pictorials and interviews. You have to take care of yourself before that.”

“I know,” she replied, picking up her spoon and ate slowly.  

 

Tang House

Chang'an watched the news fresh from Country A with a look of despair. 

It turns out the J was such a person who abused his crews, slept with other people's wives and stole credits and scripts. Although these things are prevalent in this industry, still, it was chilling when you hear it from a person who was known for helping charitable organizations. 

This man’s lifestyle is very messy.

“You are still planning to enter this path?” his mother asked with dissatisfaction on the side. 

Chang’an did not want to argue with her so he ignored her provocation as usual. But today, his mother seemed to have eaten firecrackers. 

“If you want to become a director why don’t you ask your father for it instead of running around every day with those bunch of loafers? With them what kind of movie can you make? Some low-grade film, not even a broken theatre would want to host.” Mrs Tang put the fragile teacup down with a thump continued. “Huh, look at you. Look at your brother. You are thousands of miles apart, no wonder your father and grandfather have completely lost interest in nurturing you to run the company.”

“Mom! You are going out of line.”

“I’m going out of line?!” the woman stood from her seat screeching and pointing at him. “What I am telling is the truth. What else do you know except cameras and those brats in your university? If you have taken another course it might have pleased the damn men of this--”

“Enough!”  

Finally, he could not listen when she began to criticize his friends. It was already enough that she kept on harping about his chosen profession but she does not quit taunting him every day. Why can’t she understand that this is what he wanted to do? He has long decided on this since he felt the first spark of passion in filmmaking. He did not want to ask for anyone’s approval but even if she could at least not support him, she should refrain from insulting his profession.

Sometimes he wondered how his mother did not understand him. He was clearly born to her but she treats him as if he was her number one enemy. He wasn’t stupid to not realise that she kept creating rifts between him and Leonard. She kept plucking his faults and comparing them together. Regrettably, her plan of separating the brothers failed because, in this house, men are in charge. 

It was his blessing to have supportive elders. If he had not opened his eyes earlier then he might have been Leo’s biggest headache now.  

“Chang’an I am your mother you must listen to me. Why am I doing this? Isn’t it for your own good? Your brother will eventually inherit all the Tangs industries while you can only be a little pawn. Do you think it doesn’t pain me to see this?”

“Naturally brother will succeed because he is the rightful heir. Of all people, you know that yourself but you keep on insisting your crooked ideas. Mom, this house had done good enough to welcome both of us when father and brother did not have to. Leave some dignity for yourself.”

Mrs Tang stood full of anger when her son strode out of the sitting room and fled upstairs. 

The stupid kid could not understand her fear! 

Leonard will inherit everything this family has only leaving a small portion to Chang’an. It was the privilege of the eldest son after all. If that happens all the wealth she enjoys in the name of Mrs Tang will disappear like bubbles. How could she allow that day to come without doing anything? 

Chang’an opened his computer to continue watching the news. Perhaps to help dispel his bad mood. It was halfway finished when he was interrupted yet again. This time, it was a call from Sydney informing him of the same hot topic. They talked for a long while then they discussed Sena's injection of funds into their movie. 

“Her Highness said she has little to no other requirements. She also doesn't want to interfere when choosing a casting for fear of affecting the movie's quality, haha imagine that. Her only condition is that we retain the original plot and hire a certain person to help polish the visual effects.”

Sydney was delighted, “Oh? Does she have someone good to recommend for the effects?”

Chang'an was doubtful as well. “I don't know yet. She said she will contact us when the person is available.”   

“That's great! I did not expect this huge pie to suddenly fall on us. What a timely help, we have been having a headache about the budget.”

“I don't know why she shifted interest in movies, with her sudden rise in the limelight perhaps she's thinking of entering the entertainment industry.”

Sydney laughed, “No way, I don't think Sena will exchange her freedom in business for this kind of unpredictable venture.”

“You’re right, maybe she's just being more open-minded.”

Well, the open-minded Sena is now being chewed online as her advertisement continues to sweep through the screens. It unexpectedly became the most played video on the internet. It wasn’t until they saw Sena becoming a well-known figure without being an actress that they realized how naive their thoughts today were. 

On the other hand, the subject of their discussion was on alert looking for clues of the letter sender. She felt that after receiving the warning, some inexplicable series of events began to happen. She received a bouquet of Halfeti black roses without a card. When having lunch, she just left her table to go to the powder room but when she returned, a second message appeared on her table napkin. 

Are you aware of me now? Keep looking. 

She kneaded her forehead trying to distract herself from unease. 

“Ms Erde?” a woman approached her table smilingly. 

Sena looked up, seeing the all too familiar face of Mrs Carol and gave a nod.

“Hi, my name is Amanda Carol. Do you mind if I sit here?”

“Please,” 

The lady in front has lost a lot of weight since the last time she saw her. Free from her parasitic husband, she now looks vigorous and cheerful. The pictures she sent to warn her of her husband’s misappropriation of funds and his derailment became a turning point in her life. Instead of getting dragged to the drug case and becoming a scapegoat, she now enjoys going out with her friends and managing her company. Sena has no intention of asking for credits, nor does she plan to let her know it was her doing. 

But the sudden appearance of Mrs Carol slightly puzzled her. 

“How may I help you?”

“Oh, no Ms Erde need not be polite.” she said waving her hand, “I have contacted Ms Linda Banks… sorry, it should be Tang now. It was about the property I want to sell…”

They negotiated about it for half an hour until finally agreeing to let her agent Rui handle everything. Another good piece of deal was done in passing. Sena decided to end work early to rest, but then when she was driving back, an old untouched number rang her mobile. 

“Yes?”

She stopped the car and went out. Six meters from her is a black pickup driving an average speed of 60 km/h, the person inside knitted their eyebrows when she suddenly stopped. 

Why stop?

In the next second, they saw Sena get off and enter the small establishment nearby. It doesn’t matter, the person thought leisurely. She will eventually return in her car once she is done with her business, they can wait. The plan today is to know where she lives. They have been lurking around the office trying to know Sena Erde's address but it was harder than finding a needle in a haystack. 

Bitter hatred poured into their chest like sulfuric acid. Eroding their thinking. This cannot end so easily after she destroyed everything they have worked for? Resentment? Fury? It was more than that. They wanted her to suffer the same days they had. To be driven into a corner like a rat.

Yes! 

The image fit her. To howl in despair in the deep dirty corner. 

Even when they lost everything, as long as they drag Sena down in hell. It will be worth it.    

These days they spend their time collecting her pictures pinning them on the wall while they enjoy shooting darts at her face. 

As the person was lost in their mad fantasy, they heard a honk from behind. 

“Bastards, what do you want?!” 

The shriek was ear-splitting. But no one answered. The person impatiently slapped the wheel, the eyes on the cafe were bloodshot and crazy. Just you wait… the moment you come out…

As a result, it has been almost an hour now but there was no Sena in sight. Her car was quietly parked on the side as if abandoned by its owner. The mad person rushed out looking from left to right, then they entered the cafe only to find not a shadow of the target. 

W-Where the fuck did the little bitch go?!    

 

An hour ago… 

When Sena answered the phone, a familiar voice came. “Miss, this is Jess.” 

She was blank for a second before remembering. Jess is one of the bodyguards who had been following her since young. Ack~ how could she ruthlessly forget about him? 

She habitually touched her earring in embarrassment and struggled to maintain a normal voice, “Is something wrong?”

The man on the other side was taken aback by the calm tone.

“We found a lurker.” he heard her inhale sharply. “Please don’t panic, we’re just around. Can Miss slow down a little and stop in the next block? After that enter the first cafe and walk straight to the backdoor in the kitchen, there is a car waiting for you there that will send you back to Paragon Residences.”    

“I get it. Thanks.” 

Jess on the other side was surprised she did not utter an objection. It’s been a while since they get in touch for fear of provoking her temper. But it seems that the Miss has calmed down a lot these days, she obediently followed as instructed making their work a lot smoother. Finally, they don’t have to worry about being discovered by her.   

That night, they were called up to her bachelor apartment to report. 

“You guys are as stubborn as weeds,” she said shaking a hanging leg crossed on the other. 

“Hehe…” Jess rubbed his nose. “We dare not show up as instructed.”

How could she not remember that it was her who told them not to follow her around like tails?  

Four men in casual clothes stood in front of her looking stalwart and as unmoving as mountains. She knew them half of her life. Jess was a former SF who retired at twenty-five and was eventually absorbed by grandpa Ye’s agency. He is now thirty-seven this year. Unfortunately, they were appointed to look after a sapling like her. 

But behind the scenes, Sena is now aware of how many times these four have thwarted countless kidnapping attempts on her. A price to pay for refusing to live unobtrusively. She once heard her mother say that, that all this fame are nothing because for people like them living under the radar is not the same as just quitting and becoming unknown. To be anonymous has a cost. 

“I’m sorry I gave you a hard time.” 

The four of them just laughed it off. After all, her little tantrum is a lot cuter than a hail of bullets during their military service. 

“What did you find out?”

“Start from the motorcycle rider who cut in your way.”

“That is connected?”

Jess nodded then stepped forward handing over a manila folder. The person in the photo is not a stranger to Sena, everything from the disturbance these past few days were clearly stated here. Unexpectedly, that reckless rider was no accident but deliberate.

“I see,” she said looking at the haggard woman in a sweatshirt. She continues to read the file until she came into the most important detail. “So the one following me from behind was Miss Pam after all.”

“Yes, Miss.” 

And she was also the one responsible for those weird messages she received. “Good Lord... I thought it was…” There was an odd breath of relief that came out of her lips. 

Jess didn't understand why she looked happy when she's supposed to be scared! 

“Miss, that woman is ill. We found out that she was also preparing to send you a beheaded cat. The police who broke into her house found your photos slashed and burned.” 

She looked at him with a chuckle. “Uncle Jess, you're trying to frighten me.”

“Just so you are aware of the situation,” he said matter-of-factly. 

“I am, I know how much grievance she has. Blaming me for the loss of her business but after today she can’t do anything much now.” Sena shrugged. “To disturb my life, she put too much effort.”

"It's better to be more cautious." 

She agreed, “Oh, by the way. Did her arrest make noise?”

Suddenly the men looked at her as if looking at a toddler. 

Err, guess she shouldn't have asked. They have thoroughly cleaned up any traces, including the police who were involved in the arrest. Those people were 'reminded' not to discuss the case casually. 

Miss Pam, huh… 

It’s a pity she did not use her excess brain cells to revitalize her company. 

The former owner of Hollyhock Brokerage was unkempt and mentally unstable. She completely broke down when the business failed and could only be sold at a low price. Sena sent them all the bad deals through Niko but it wasn’t as if there wasn’t room to manoeuvre anymore. If she’s truly confident in her talent as she shows, she should have reviewed the listings and strive to look for new ones. That way the business will not completely become stagnant.    

Unfortunately, she wallowed in her misery and chose the easier way of pointing fingers at other people. The messages were sent purely to threaten and unsettle her. Perhaps Miss Pam finds joy seeing her panic. 

This solved her problem with the message. Damn, it was so misleading she thought another person reincarnated like her! 

A thorn stuck in her heart was removed, but the worry is not entirely lifted. Among the reported things Miss Pam did, none says about the black rose. Don’t look at its grim colour. Those were freshly airlifted thousands of miles away from another country. You can imagine the worth just by looking at its rare cultivation. 

Miss Pam who now lived in a small house would dare not splurge that amount just to aggravate her. Sophie cannot afford it either. 

So, at the end who sent her flowers?  

Just when Sena thought the problem was over, she did not know that today’s event reached a lot of people. Her three grandfathers for example, (that is to be expected), the Tang couple nesting cosily in their house, and another one. 

Nicholas was rubbing his dry eyes. After sending Yang to the safehouse, he and Mike flew to Country C to personally talk to Seth Collier for possible cooperation. Qilin Gang is in deep water right now due to the destruction of their drug labs and the DEA staring intently at their every move. Seth has hinted that he would like to coordinate with their team so they can bring down his father and brother in one fell swoop to reform the family. 

He hadn’t slept a wink for more than two days and he’s becoming irritable. Plus this itching in his eyes, he rubbed so hard until they hurt. A chat prompt lit his phone screen. It was a wee bit lengthy but he couldn’t see shit from the blur so he scrolls lazily until the annoying blur eased. He stopped suddenly. It was Leonard Tang who sent him the text. 

The rest of the words were ignored by him as he focused on the last sentence. 

[... so Nicholas, are you free? I need your help. Sena is in trouble.] 

His sleepiness and irritability flew away. 

Damn it, honey, what did you get yourself into? 

 

 

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