SWFM 254

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Chapter 254: Growing up

 

Able to let Xu Tingsheng rush over in such a haste, bearing such a respectful attitude…everyone felt that it was definitely some major figure.

“He wouldn’t have roped Vice-Principal Niu in to ask for his dog back, right? That would really be a forceful use of authority.”

“To get a Vice-Principal as reinforcements over a dog, over a joke, that just can’t be, right?”

Speculations were rife as everyone watched on.

Then, beneath countless curious gazes, surpassing everyone’s speculations without exception, a pretty, delicate figure got off from the car.

A light green blouse, a pleated skirt that reached the knees, canvas shoes, silk hairband, red backpack, and that pretty, intricate face, along with that nervous, uneasy expression that was somewhat shy…

The rays of the morning sun shone down on her face, a sheen of light gently illuminating it.

So, it was a little lady?

“The little lady’s rather pretty…”

“Huh, lucky that she’s still a little lady.”

“It looks like she’s just fifteen or sixteen, right?”

“Hey, do you girls think that she’s…”

“From the looks of it, she should be Xu Tingsheng’s little sister or something?”

Feeling rather shy from all the eyes that were on her, Little Xiang Ning turned to look at Xu Tingsheng, asking him in a low tone, “Where do I shout to? Where’s Dongdong?”

Xu Tingsheng looked upstairs. Dongdong had not appeared.

“Senior, where’s the dog?” Xu Tingsheng asked.

“It’s on the balcony at the back, eating,” The female senior smiled slyly.

“Return it to me.”

“We didn’t say we wouldn’t! Come up and collect him yourself, junior, or yell it down. How about…be prepared to buy breakfast us again tomorrow. When tomorrow comes, we big sisters will see how our mood is before deciding. Right, the dog’s still happily having fun here.”

The senior had a triumphant expression on her face as she spoke.

Xu Tingsheng was a nice guy, Xu Tingsheng dared not enter the female dormitory, and most importantly, that Golden Retriever did not listen to Xu Tingsheng at all. These seniors were all well aware of this. With all these factors coupled together, they felt that they had Xu Tingsheng thoroughly in their grasp.

Little Xiang Ning gripped the straps of her backpack as she watched Xu Tingsheng conversing merrily with a bunch of university girls. Also, it seemed he had even bought them breakfast…

Little Xiang Ning felt a little unhappy.

She was unhappy with Xu Tingsheng, and unhappy with those big sisters as well.

“I’m shouting!” Little Xiang Ning broke off the conversation between Xu Tingsheng and the female seniors, saying in a huff.

“Go on,” Xu Tingsheng said.

Little Xiang Ning raised her head and took in a deep breath before delicately calling out, “Dongdong!”

Perhaps due to her nervousness, her voice was not loud as many female seniors from the higher floors were even unable to hear it clearly.

“So, Xu Tingsheng’s idea is to find a little lady to come and call out like this?”

The female seniors who had just been feeling slightly uneasy instantly relaxed now.

“It looks like it didn’t work! You should probably…”

Just as a female senior was still in mid-speech.

Two barks resounded from inside Room 408 before a white silhouette frenziedly dashed out. Dongdong glanced over the railing, then immediately turned and sped down the staircase…

In the blink of an eye, the Golden Retriever Dongdong who had refused to heed Xu Tingsheng’s yells no matter what earlier had already arrived downstairs.

It fist ran two rounds around the little lady who had just called it down with various ingratiating actions before sitting obediently by her feet.

“Hmph, I’ll scold you later,” Little Xiang Ning patted Dongdong’s head before opening the car door and saying, “Get on.”

Dongdong obediently leapt onto the back seat of the car.

“Didn’t this Golden Retriever ignore Xu Tingsheng no matter how he yelled? How is it this obedient now?”

Beneath the incredulous sighs of the female seniors, Xiang Ning hurriedly got on as well.

Xu Tingsheng waved to them, “Thanks for your help in looking after Dongdong, seniors!”

Then, he too got on the car, revving up the engine and zooming away into the distance.
……

Little Xiang Ning berated Dongdong throughout the journey. ‘Silly’, ‘stupid’, ‘disobedient’, ‘shameless’…all followed by the same sentence, “Someone definitely led you astray. You weren’t like this before.”

Xu Tingsheng faked a cough, but Xiang Ning simply ignored him. He dared not rebut her.

Despite her rebukes, Xiang Ning still took off her backpack, pulling out a big bag of snacks which she promptly fed to Dongdong.

“Where’re we going now?” Xu Tingsheng asked.

“I want to play with Dongdong for a while,” Xiang Ning said, “Can we play in your university? The field, somewhere spacious, anywhere’s fine.”

This was what Xu Tingsheng was most afraid of. If they stayed in the campus and they later encountered Fu Cheng, Fang Yuqing or Tan Yao who asked, “What’s your name, little lady?”

As soon as Xiang Ning replied, the earth would have exploded.

If they ran into Li Linlin, how would they be able to explain it?

Thinking about this, Xu Tingsheng said, “If you play in here, aren’t you afraid that there’ll be a bunch of people constantly watching you like just now?”

Little Xiang Ning considered this, indeed finding it quite a terrifying prospect as she said, “Find me a place where there isn’t anyone then. You choose the place.”

They ended up going to the sandy beach further down from the riverside residence.

Little Xiang Ning ran and leapt about with Dongdong, playing for over an hour as the entire beach was filled with her joyful laughter. She might not have been this relaxed for a long time.

Xu Tingsheng found a grassy slope and lay down, quietly watching the scenes before him and listening to her laughter that could constantly be heard.

This had once been all that he had yearned for.

Finally, Little Xiang Ning grew fatigued, letting Dongdong run around on the sandy beach by itself as she came over and sat down beside Xu Tingsheng.

Xu Tingsheng looked at his watch, “It’s 10am now. Shouldn’t you be going home? Otherwise, your parents will be angry. Also, you definitely cannot tell them that you came to look for me.”

“I came to look for Dongdong.”

After emphasising this, Xiang Ning thought for a moment before saying, “I know, I won’t say it. Really, I don’t know what it is with Mum and Dad. They used to like you a lot.”

Xu Tingsheng wanted to say, “Isn’t that all because of you?”

In the end, he just smiled and said nothing.

After a while, Little Xiang Ning sighed, “It’s fine. I got Su Nannan to come to my house in the morning before going out. Because of that, they think that I’m with Su Nannan right now! I told Mum that I’d eat lunch before going back, then wait for Sis Teacher to tutor me in the afternoon.”

“One more thing,” Little Xiang Ning said.

“What?” Xu Tingsheng asked.

“It’s been so long since I last ate the food you cooked.”

Now, Little Xiang Ning clasped Xu Tingsheng’s arm with both hands, shaking it ever so lightly.

Xu Tingsheng instantly lost all will to resist as he stood up and smiled, “Well, let’s go then.”
……

The second floor of the riverside residence.

Sitting on the sofa in the living room, Little Xiang Ning again questioned Xu Tingsheng who was hard at work in the kitchen, “Xu Tingsheng, do you really not stay here usually?”

She had already asked this several times. Ever since she had sneakily come upstairs and entered, seeing so many female-related articles in the living room, she had begun feeling somewhat unhappy and ill at ease.

It was only after Xu Tingsheng had repeatedly told her that he really did not stay there usually that she felt better.

Xu Tingsheng answered her again before saying, “Entertain yourself. I’ll be off cooking hard.”

From Xu Tingsheng’s current point of view, this was Little Xiang Ning’s first time at his home. While he had not been in time to make other preparations, his cooking definitely could not be sub-par here.

Little Xiang Ning made an affirmative noise before ceasing to speak.

Perhaps because she woke up early that day, also having worn herself out playing earlier, she was already asleep on the sofa when Xu Tingsheng completed the first dish and brought it out.

Xu Tingsheng stood there and watched her for a while. The little girl who was as restless in her sleep as in his previous life suddenly rolled over even as she slept, nearly tumbling off the sofa. He hurriedly took a pillow and placed it there to keep her from falling.

After shifting her body and finding a slightly stabler position, Little Xiang Ning did not even open her eyes as she continued to sleep.

After a moment’s hesitation, Xu Tingsheng carefully scooped up her slender body, carrying her into his room and gently placing her down on his bed.

Yet, Little Xiang Ning just happened to wake up with this. She blearily looked around and saw the room, the bed, as well as that arm which had still yet to be completely retracted from her and the Uncle who was in close proximity to her as he gazed at her…

“The way Uncle’s looking at me is so strange…”

The next moment, Little Xiang Ning’s entire face flushed red as she tensed up completely.

“Xu Tingsheng, you dirty ruffian, you…” Little Xiang Ning glared at Xu Tingsheng, exclaiming nervously.

Xu Tingsheng retracted his hand, smiling wryly, “I what?”

Little Xiang Ning paused for a moment, perhaps having understood it or perhaps feeling shy as she tilted her head and buried it in a pillow, saying softly, “You know what I’m talking about, you dirty ruffian.”

“Is she trying to malign me here?”

A wronged Xu Tingsheng suddenly felt mischievous as he crouched slightly downwards, closing in on the side of Little Xiang Ning’s face and feigning awkwardness as he untruthfully confessed, “Actually, just now…I…really…”

Little Xiang Ning’s head abruptly spun around to look at Xu Tingsheng, her mouth opened wide in astonishment as she stared straight at him.

Xu Tingsheng nodded, indicating: What you’re thinking is right.

While she still felt that Uncle wouldn’t harm her, Little Xiang Ning was still frightened by this as she hesitated for a long time, still unable to string together any appropriate sentence as she could only shrink back her entire body, saying softly and pitifully, “But I’m still very young.”

Xu Tingsheng resisted the urge to smile as he asked, “Didn’t you say that you’ve grown?”

Little Xiang Ning hesitated for a moment before explaining earnestly, “Yes, but in truth, I’m still small right now.”

Xu Tingsheng asked, “Still small?”

Little Xiang Ning nodded earnestly, saying solemnly, “Right.”

“Why’re you still so small? Haven’t you already been drinking papaya soup?”

As the words left Xu Tingsheng’s mouth, he saw Xiang Ning’s entire body visibly tremble.

He had not thought that it was this sentence which possessed the highest killing power. This was because as opposed to those still doubtful things from earlier, what he had just said…had indeed definitely happened, being something that the girl had thoroughly kept to herself without even daring to mention to her best friend.

As for what lay behind this secret, wasn’t it because she had been offended by a certain someone?

After that incident in the Taekwondo practice room that day, once in a while, when Little Xiang Ning was alone in her room or bathing, she would remember those words, the line from that poem that he had mentioned that day…she would think of the other girls in her dorm room, especially Su Nannan…

It was with the utmost helplessness that Little Xiang Ning had been forced to resort to this!

“Youyouyou,” Little Xiang Ning said nervously, “How did you know?”

Xu Tingsheng was not worried about this in the slightest. Was there even a chance that Little Xiang Ning might dare to go ask Li Linlin about this?

“Don’t you be concerned about how I know it,” Xu Tingsheng smiled, “I’m just being concerned about you. That…has it been effective?”

“Wah!”

Little Xiang Ning flung out a pillow before angrily stomping at Xu Tingsheng. Then, she tugged at the blanket beside her and buried herself beneath it, feeling nervous, angry, pitiful, shy…not speaking a word.

Still, she pricked up her ears and listened intently for anything that might be going on outside.

Quite some time passed, but nothing was audible outside of the blanket as all as Little Xiang Ning puzzledly, cautiously peeked out from beneath it…where was he?

Little Xiang Ning unconsciously uttered an inquisitive noise.

Xu Tingsheng’s voice immediately resounded from outside the door, “You get some sleep first. I’ll call you when lunch is ready.”

“Okay!” Xiang Ning responded loudly before burying her head back into the pillow, only half her face being visible. After thinking about things for a while, she actually, truly, just as peacefully as that, fell fast asleep on this strange, foreign bed.


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