Chapter 254: Octopus Balls (2)
“Miss Shen,” Once everyone had boarded the cars, Shen Jingbin turned around and was about to make her way to Zhao Chengning’s car when she heard Zhao Chengan call out to her.
“Mm?” She looked back at him with a grunt to express her misgivings.
“I hope Miss Shen didn’t take offence at what I said back in A City. As the older brother, I was just trying to ensure my brother’s happiness.”
Zhao Chengan looked straight into her eyes when he said that. From that, Shen Jingbin could tell that he spoke both sincerely and truthfully.
“I seem to have forgotten what you said back then at the airport.”
Zhao Chengan smiled, his serious and threatening demeanour suddenly becoming a lot more amiable. “I’m relieved then. Chengning looks rather unsettled as of late; probably due to some emotional hardships. If Miss Shen is free, maybe you could having a chat with him. My identity as his older brother makes it difficult for him to open up to me on matters of the heart.”
“Ah,” Shen Jingbin blanked out for a moment. “Alright.”
“Then, I’ll be taking my leave first.”
Zhao Chengan waved at her before he opened the driver door and got into his car. Once inside, the car’s tinted windows obscured her view of him.
Shen Jingbin remained standing there as her mind thought back to what Zhao Chengan had just said.
A chuckled slipped out from her lips and she began making her way towards Zhao Chengning’s car.
At her request, Zhao Chengning had gone ahead to rest in the car. He looked as if he’d already fallen asleep when Shen Jingbin sat in the driver’s seat. His chest heaved slightly and faint sounds of breathing could be heard.
It looked like he really was dead tired; he’d fallen asleep in such a short period of time.
Shen Jingbin helplessly shook her head and turned on the ignition. The car slowly inched out of its parking lot and they were off.
Mama Zhao wasn’t present for dinner. She’d excused herself by saying she had a prior arrangement. However, it had to be said that dinner without Mama Zhao was a very harmonious affair. During their meal, Old Master Zhao extended a passionate invitation to Shen Jingbin’s family to visit their home during the New Year. Having no way to reject his offer, Old Master Shen could only accept.
After dinner, the Grandfathers from both families began reminiscing over old times, while the Fathers talked about business and working together, leaving Shen Jingbin and company to their own devices. Although Zhao Chengan had a good relationship with Zhao Chengning, the two of them had vastly different circles of friends, making it difficult for them to mix together. As such, Zhao Chengan bid farewell to his brother and left first.
Zhao Chengning thought that the nightscape of B City’s University City was pretty good, so he suggested taking a walk over there to aid in their digestion. Since the siblings didn’t have anything else in mind, the three of them got into the car and made their way over to University City.
Coincidentally, Shen Jingchen ran into one of B City University’s computer science professors after alighting from the car. The professor admired Shen Jingchen greatly and thought that he was a very gifted individual, so he’d been trying to persuade Shen Jingchen to come over and attend graduate school under his tutelage.
And with that, the lightbulb named Shen Jingchen was successfully drawn away by the professor. The couple exchanged a look of helplessness for a moment before they broke out laughing.
After calming himself down, Zhao Chengning said, “Let’s go.”
University City was bustling with activity at night. Even the cold weather wasn’t enough to ward off the passion of foodies who’d come out in search of good eats, and the peddlers who’d set up shop along the streets.
While leading the way, Zhao Chengning said, “The high school that I used to be in was beside University City. When I was a senior, the school made it compulsory for us to live on campus so that it’d be easy for us to do self-study at night. I would be able to smell the food being sold over here after my self-study sessions at night, and it was practically a form of torture.”
Shen Jingbin ‘Mmed’ and said, “You had self-study sessions at night during your senior year?”
“Yeah, what did you think I’d be doing instead?”
“I had thought that you were the type of godlike student who got all sorts of scholarships and privileges after skipping grades.”
Zhao Chengning smiled. “That didn’t happen; my heart wasn’t in my studies during my senior year. At that time, I’d already started my own company, and although it didn’t interfere with my studies, it ruled out the possibility of skipping grades. To top it off, my school was the old-fashioned kind that didn’t stand for any sort of special treatment. When I first started boarding, my Mother tried to sponsor the school so that I wouldn’t have to board there, but unexpectedly, the Principal staunchly rejected her offer. Because of this, my Mother had a very bad impression of my high school.”
Shen Jingbin thought of what Mama Zhao’s expression would be like if she was rejected, and she was more or less able to imagine how horrifying the scene of the crime would be.
“At times, after our self-study sessions, the guys in the dormitory would go out to the surrounding walls. Some of them would act as lookouts, while others were responsible for scaling the wall and buying things to bring back for us to eat. Once they’d returned to the dormitory, they even had to find places on their person to hide the food for fear of the Dorm Mother finding out and dragging them over to the Discipline Master. If that happened, the Discipline Master would then present them before the entire school the next day to receive their punishment. During that period of time, the snacks sold here were like a delicacy.”
“Then, have you ever been punished in front of the entire school before?” Shen Jingbin curiously asked.
Zhao Chengning shook his head. “Never, because I was the one paying for all the food. And even when they’d been caught, my roommates would never rat me out. I’d also promised to help them write their self-reflection essays as long as they didn’t tell on me.”
Shen Jingbin looked at him and sighed, “It’s hard to imagine you doing something like that.”
Her family had sponsored the high school she’d attended, so when she’d brought up special privileges, she’d actually been referring to herself. At school, she’d been exempted from both running and self-study sessions, and didn’t even have to attend makeup lessons in her senior year. Thankfully, her grades were always outstanding, so the school didn’t have much to say about her. As such, the high school life that Zhao Chengning was talking about was something that she’d never experienced for herself.
Zhao Chengning heaved a sigh and said, “It’s hard to imagine, right? To be honest, I myself find it inconceivable now.”
Zhao Chengning suddenly spotted someone selling octopus balls. He pointed to them and said, “Those octopus balls were our favorite in the past.”
He then told her to wait where she was for a bit and jogged over to where the stall was. He bought some octopus balls before coming back and handing them over to her. Shen Jingbin was still stuffed from dinner, but she suddenly felt like she wasn’t all that full after gazing into his brilliant eyes. She stretched out her hand, jabbed an octopus ball, and placed it into her mouth.
The taste was out of this world, and her lips curved into a smile as she looked at him and said, “It’s delicious!”
Zhao Chengning gazed back at her. Her smile was a little blurry behind the steam of the freshly cooked octopus balls, but that just made her look even more attractive.
His heart stirred, and he couldn’t help but lean towards her.
Like a dragonfly gently skimming over water, his lips touched a corner of her mouth.
With a ‘bang!’, it abruptly felt like dozens of fireworks were lit within her heart.