STT – Chapter 7

Huaixi, don’t be too good to me

Lu Zizheng hurriedly arrived at the hotel entrance. Just as she stepped outside, her gaze fell upon Jiang Huaixi.

Jiang Huaixi wore a white knit cap and had a long black wool coat draped over her shoulders. Leaning against the car, she gently rubbed her hands together in front of her chest. The cold had brought a touch of color to her usually pale face.

Seeing Lu Zizheng approaching, Jiang Huaixi lowered her hands, wearing a faint smile. She watched as Lu Zizheng gradually walked closer, until finally, she stood in front of her.

Jiang Huaixi smiled at Lu Zizheng, a hint of pride in her expression. “Surprised, aren’t you?” she asked.

Lu Zizheng looked up at her, tilting her head slightly, and responded with her own question, “How did you end up here?”

Jiang Huaixi opened the car door for her, helping her get in, and then closed the door. As she drove, she said, “Get in the car, I’ll take you somewhere. Oh, don’t get too touched. I came here for business, and coincidentally, I can celebrate your birthday along the way…”

Lu Zizheng let out a soft hum, indicating her understanding, and asked, “Have you eaten?”

Jiang Huaixi raised an eyebrow and replied, “If I didn’t eat, would you be so moved to personally cook for me? I don’t think you’re that nice.”

Lu Zizheng cast a cold glance at Jiang Huaixi. If she hadn’t said that, she might have considered taking her out for a meal. But now, she coldly remarked, “I am indeed touched. I didn’t expect you to understand me so well.”

Jiang Huaixi glanced at her, a hint of a smile on her face. “However, I rushed over here, so I actually haven’t eaten.”

Lu Zizheng furrowed her brow, half believing and half doubting as she scrutinized Jiang Huaixi, trying to discern the truth from her expression. Seeing that Jiang Huaixi didn’t seem to be lying, she bit her lip and said, “In that case, turn around. Let’s go have a meal first. I know there’s a buffet kitchen right next to the hotel where I’m staying.”

The corners of Jiang Huaixi’s mouth curled up as she smiled and said, “It seems I still don’t understand you well enough. You’re not as bad as I thought.” She paused for a moment, glanced at Lu Zizheng, noticed a hint of amusement on her lips, winked playfully, and added, “Just worse than I imagined. I traveled all this way to see you, and you actually want to cook for me yourself, leaving me with no chance to escape.”

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As soon as the words left her mouth, Lu Zizheng reached into her bag and tore off a sticky note. With a precise “smack,” she stuck it right on Jiang Huaixi’s previously closed lips, silencing her.

Jiang Huaixi fell silent, initially stunned by the unexpected turn of events. There was a brief moment of bewilderment as her beautiful eyes widened. Then, she furrowed her brow, squinting her eyes and turned her head to glare angrily at Lu Zizheng.

Lu Zizheng looked at Jiang Huaixi’s furious expression with a sense of inexplicable humor and delight, finding it both silly and adorable. She couldn’t help but curve her eyebrows and eyes into a smile. With a gentle touch, she peeled off the sticky note from Jiang Huaixi’s lips and stuck it on the car window. She gazed at it, pursing her lips, unable to suppress her laughter.

Jiang Huaixi wiped her lips and noticed the joyful expression on Lu Zizheng’s face. In that instant, all her displeasure crumbled away. With a cold tone, she said, “Considering it’s the birthday of the person of honor today, I, as an adult, will overlook the behavior of a petty person. But don’t make it a precedent.”

Lu Zizheng took out a pen and drew an adorable angry face on the sticky note. She peeled it off the car window and placed it in the middle of Jiang Huaixi’s steering wheel as a response.

Jiang Huaixi sighed.

After driving for about half an hour, Jiang Huaixi finally parked the car and let Lu Zizheng follow her out.

Using the street lamp as a guide, Lu Zizheng looked around. Surprisingly, Jiang Huaixi had parked the car on Huanhai Road, the same road they had been to before.

Jiang Huaixi stood beside her and pointed to a distant shimmering spot on the beach far below the sea, saying, “Do you see that little glowing point in the front? Well, your birthday gift is right there. Go down, walk from here to the beach, pick up all the glowing seashells, and then walk to the spot where it’s shining. There, you will piece together your complete birthday gift.”

Before Lu Zizheng could react, Jiang Huaixi got back into the car, lowered the window, and said, “I’ll be waiting there. Hurry up, it’s cold, don’t keep me waiting too long…” With that, she drove away.

Lu Zizheng could only complain about the mysterious situation while braving the chilly wind, “What’s going on, being all secretive.” And with anticipation in her heart, she walked toward the beach.

Sure enough, she didn’t walk far before she saw the first glowing seashell on the beach. She bent down, picked it up, and gently opened it, revealing a piece of paper that fell out.

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Under the streetlight, she clearly read the words written on the paper: “Lu Zizheng is clearly dirt poor, yet she’s so arrogantly proud. I wonder where she gets the audacity to act so superior.”

In that moment, Lu Zizheng’s heart trembled. She placed the paper back into the seashell and hesitated for a moment before continuing forward.

Then, she picked up the second seashell and read the message written on it: “Lu Zizheng is definitely not a good person; otherwise, why does she always go about alone, ignored by everyone?”

She bit her lip, closed the seashell, and kept moving forward.

Inside the third seashell, she found another note: “I saw Lu Zizheng getting out of a luxurious car last time, driven by some old man. Seeing her now, I can’t help but feel she is hypocritical and filthy.”

Lu Zizheng stopped in her tracks, tilted her head back, and took a deep breath of the cold wind before mustering the courage to continue walking forward.

Inside the fourth seashell, the note read: “Would Zheng Han’s grades be worse than hers? How can she deserve the national award spot? Haha, who doesn’t know that before the list was announced, she went alone into the counselor’s office and intentionally closed the door for over half an hour.”

Lu Zizheng felt the wind here was strong, causing her face to ache, and her eyes too…

Finally, she mustered the courage to pick up the fifth seashell. The message on it said: “Lu Zizheng, hahaha, isn’t her greatest asset just her face? I wonder if all the guys are blind.”

Lu Zizheng’s face had turned pale as paper. It was almost as if she would lose all her courage to continue walking when she saw the sixth note.

The sixth note read: “Come with me, the price is up to you. Whatever you want, I can afford it. Your reputation precedes you, and now, why pretend to be reserved with me?”

In that moment, tears blurred Lu Zizheng’s eyes. She bit her lip and looked at Jiang Huaixi, who was waiting at the finish line, wishing she could turn and leave. She was so unwilling to believe that after six years of circling around with Jiang Huaixi, she was still stuck in the same place. Could it be that Jiang Huaixi traveled far and wide to give her this birthday gift of humiliation?

However, in the next instant, she saw Jiang Huaixi turn around and, with a fluorescent marker, write on the massive panel behind her: “Believe in me, keep going.”

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Lu Zizheng stared at those words for a long time, looking at Jiang Huaixi’s resolute figure. Finally, she wiped away her tears and lifted her heavy feet.

She bent down to pick up the seventh seashell and carefully opened it. Inside was a childish crayon drawing showing many children playing together around a long-haired woman, signed by Class 3-2. On the back of the drawing, it said: “Teacher Lu, we love you, and we miss you very much. You are the best and most beautiful teacher we’ve ever seen.”

In that moment, Lu Zizheng could hardly believe it. Class 3-2, the class she had volunteered to teach during her freshman summer vacation.

Then, the eighth seashell contained a photograph. In the photo, Lu Zizheng was gently bending over, carefully combing an elderly person’s hair, and the elderly person was smiling joyfully. Lu Zizheng flipped the photo over, and on the back, it was written: “You are the best child Grandma has ever met. Always remember to be happy.”

It was from the year she had accompanied the youth volunteers to a nursing home and cared for an elderly person there. After visiting once, she insisted on going to see the elderly person every week until, sadly, the elderly person passed away six months later. But when was this photo taken, and when was this message left? She had no clue.

Lu Zizheng began to shake off her previous dejection and walked forward with a mixture of anticipation and unease. She opened the ninth seashell, inside of which was a piece of gauze. On the gauze, written in black ink, were the words: “Always remember the overwhelming guilt I felt in my heart when you carried me on your back to the hospital. You are the purest, kindest, and most selfless person I’ve ever known.” Signed, Zhang Suyin.

During her junior year, when their class organized a themed activity to clean the school’s vicinity, Zhang Suyin accidentally fell into a roadside sewer, covered in mud. With the help of their classmates, she managed to climb out, but the pain made it difficult for her to stand upright. The hospital was nearby, but their small team consisted of only girls, and no one spoke up about carrying Zhang Suyin to the hospital. That day, Lu Zizheng was wearing a white jacket and without hesitation, she crouched down and lifted Zhang Suyin on her back, making their way to the hospital. Yet, one of the people who often spoke ill of her in private was Zhang Suyin.

In the tenth seashell, there was a certificate commonly seen in Lu Zizheng’s university, but this one had no specific award. Instead, it had a paragraph written on it: “Zizheng, I have been teaching for over ten years, and you, as a good child like yourself, are the only one I have ever seen. Walk your own path and let others say what they will. All the rumors and gossip will eventually crumble with time. I believe that your journey will become more stable and smoother as you go. Take the time to visit your teachers; we all miss you.” It was written in the handwriting of her familiar counselor.

As Jiang Huaixi drew closer, there were still two shimmering seashells along the way.

Lu Zizheng opened the eleventh seashell, revealing an internship evaluation form. On the form, under the organization’s assessment, there were simple words written: “I greatly admire you, and I have made my daughter look up to you as a role model.” Signed, Ji Lan, her supervisor during the internship.

Finally, only one seashell remained. Lu Zizheng glanced at Jiang Huaixi, but instead of sharing the anticipation, Jiang Huaixi complained loudly with a smile, “Hurry up and keep moving! Why are you so slow? I’m getting cold…”

Lu Zizheng glared at her, realizing that just one remark had shattered the atmosphere completely.

She picked up the twelfth seashell, opened it, and found another simple note. She slowly unfolded it, recognizing the familiar handwriting—graceful and elegant. The words on it said: “From now on, I won’t believe anything that isn’t said by you or told to me by you. Jiang Huaixi.”

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In that moment, Lu Zizheng looked at Jiang Huaixi, her tears once again blurring her vision.

Jiang Huaixi took a few steps forward and stood in front of Lu Zizheng. With a slight furrow of the eyebrows, she earnestly said, “Zizheng, I know that throughout your journey, you have endured many baseless misunderstandings and criticisms from others. But you need to know that there are many more people who see the good in you, who hold it in their eyes and their hearts. Just like the footprints you left on the beach and the tears that fell, after the wind passes, they all disappear without a trace. Let’s bury the past hurts tonight, just like that, in the sand, and forget about them…”

With tears welling up, Lu Zizheng gazed at Jiang Huaixi for a long time. Her tall and slender figure appeared so fragile and delicate against the vast backdrop of the night, yet Lu Zizheng knew that her slender shoulders were slowly lifting and supporting the collapsed world of her early years.

For the first time in front of Jiang Huaixi, she didn’t conceal any of her emotions. She reached out and embraced Jiang Huaixi, smiling as she teased in her ear, “Only you would do something so melodramatic.”

But Jiang Huaixi responded with a gentle and soft laugh, whispering, “Who says you, Lu Zizheng, aren’t someone who appreciates melodrama? I’m just catering to your taste. Did you enjoy these melodramatic words?” As she spoke, Lu Zizheng suddenly felt Jiang Huaixi sway a bit, standing unsteadily.

With a quick thought, Lu Zizheng released Jiang Huaixi and reached out to hold her hand, only to find it icy cold, chilling her to the bone. She extended her hand to touch Jiang Huaixi’s forehead and discovered it burning with intense heat. Worry filled her voice as she anxiously asked, “Are you running a fever?”

Jiang Huaixi smiled faintly, seemingly unconcerned as she replied, “Oh, I didn’t realize. Perhaps I am. It’s quite windy here, and a bit chilly.”

Lu Zizheng couldn’t care about anything else at that moment. She hurriedly attempted to remove her own clothes to cover Jiang Huaixi, but Jiang Huaixi firmly grasped her hand, stopping her actions. Lu Zizheng stared at her, but Jiang Huaixi simply smiled and remained silent.

Lu Zizheng looked at her pale smile, feeling helpless. Without uttering a word, she turned her back and led Jiang Huaixi by the hand towards the car.

However, Jiang Huaixi, seemingly oblivious to her own condition, voiced her discontent, “Let’s take a photo as a memento. Actually, I arranged for a fireworks display later on. It hasn’t been set off yet.”

Lu Zizheng whispered, almost yelling at her, “Enough! Shut up and come back to the hotel with me.”

Unbeknownst to her, Jiang Huaixi followed behind her, watching her hurried and frantic steps, her eyes filled with tenderness.

Upon returning to the hotel, Jiang Huaixi insisted on going to the bathroom before getting into bed. After freshening up, she took some fever-reducing medicine and drifted off to sleep in a daze. Her slender body occupied only a small portion of the large bed. Lu Zizheng, for the first time, noticed how thin Jiang Huaixi was, so thin that it made one’s heart ache…

Trembling, Lu Zizheng gently touched Jiang Huaixi’s pale yet flushed cheek and softly scolded her, “Silly, Jiang Huaixi, you big fool…”

She gazed at Jiang Huaixi’s serene sleeping face, hesitating repeatedly. Unable to resist any longer, she leaned down and lightly kissed Jiang Huaixi’s burning forehead, murmuring, “Huaixi, don’t be too good to me…”



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Ry

That was a good chapter. Make teary eyes at tht birthday event 🥹🥹🥹 Thank you for picking this gem m❣️

cly

Ooh, that was good, but I’m kinda afraid to continue, will this be good for my heart? I just noticed it’s from Min Ran.

Little Panda
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