Chapter 5 - Scoring a Meal

Sheng Jiaoyang took the exemption, and as she left the room, the staff member guarding the outside of the door stared at her in shock.

“Wow…she got an exemption pass!” exclaimed the girl standing near the door.

An uproar broke out amongst the contestants as one after another, they craned their necks to see what kind of contestant was able to get an exemption pass.

The people standing at the back of the line were unable to see anything, so they started shouting, “Who is it? Who is it?!”

“Quiet!” the staff member guarding the door shouted with a stern expression.

“Hey, how did you get an exemption pass? Teach me your secret!” the girl leaning beside the door curiously asked as she suddenly reached out and tugged Sheng Jiaoyang.

Sheng Jiaoyang glanced at the girl, and then gently pried her hand loose. Next, without saying a word, she turned around and walked towards the exit.

“If you don’t want to say anything, then don’t! Why do you have to look down on people?! Humph!” the girl called after Sheng Jiaoyang, her voice filled with contempt.

In regards to such an opinion, Sheng Jiaoyang wasn’t reassured at all. She was unsure of how she’d managed to get an exemption pass in the first place, so she had no obligations to tell anyone else what to do.

Moreover, she was currently starving!

She hadn’t had a chance to eat breakfast before she left the house in the morning, and now it was already past 10 a.m.

Sheng Jiaoyang walked past multiple street vendors, but she couldn’t bring herself to eat at one.

Entering the subway, she subconsciously chose a train heading towards An Yuan Plaza. This was a place that she would frequently visit after she’d returned from abroad.

Once she’d left the subway and saw An Yuan Plaza’s iconic fountain, she finally realised something dire.

Her purse was empty of any money!

Located in a recently developed area that was lined with shrubbery, An Yuan Plaza was a newly built multi-store plaza that included a shopping mall, a leisureplex, office buildings, a high-end residential block, and an international hotel. Many international first and second rate luxury brands were available, as well as many local high-end brands. Security was also continually monitoring the area.

The food here wasn’t cheap either. Just a little snack would be priced quite high; in the double digits.

Sheng Jiaoyang stopped walking and lifted her head up to a 45-degree angle. She glared at the sky in distress.

A man without money is no man at all!

Although there was enough money in her purse to temporarily fill her stomach, she was well aware that what she had on her was all that had remained in Xu Qing’s purse. She couldn’t afford to be so heartless and spend all the money in one go.

Her stomach had now been grumbling for a while, but after thinking it over, she finally decided to go home. She was so poor that she had no other choice but to boil a bowl of instant noodles to eat.

“Xu Jiaojiao?” The moment she turned around to go back to the subway station, she heard a bewildered yell coming from about a metre to her right.

At first, Sheng Jiaoyang didn’t respond as she’d forgotten that was now her name, and had just instinctively cast a glance towards the person who’d yelled. Yet, when she saw the young person that had just called out her name staring fixedly at her, she finally reacted.

The person who’d called out to her was a young man dressed like a dog, cough, an educated youth. Standing next to him was a girl with long, straight black hair. The young man had a complicated expression on his face, while the girl had a guarded expression.

Oh no, don’t tell her that she’d encountered Xu Jiaojiao’s ex and the ex’s current girlfriend?

Seeing this spectacle, the first thing that came to Sheng Jiaoyang’s mind was that she’d run into the person that Xu Jiaojiao had had romantic feelings for.

“It is you! You’ve changed so much that I almost didn’t recognise you,” the young man said as he approached her with the girl in tow.

“Isn’t it normal that a girl’s appearance would change between childhood and womanhood?” Sheng Jiaoyang calmly said. She was used to dealing with people who’d approached her to further their notoriety by reminiscing about old memories that she didn’t remember. So, when it came to such an unexpected situation like now, she wouldn’t make any rash moves.

“Xu Qi, won’t you introduce her to me?” The girl beside the young man hugged his arm close as she interrupted them.

“Right, I forgot to tell you; she’s the cousin that I’ve previously mentioned. You saw her picture on my phone.”

“Oh!” The girl looked at Sheng Jiaoyang, covering her mouth with a hand in surprise. In regards to her boyfriend’s family, she had a firm impression of this cousin as she’d scrolled through the photo album on Xu Qi’s phone and saw an old family picture. In the picture, Xu Qi had been standing beside a rustic-looking girl that was somewhat taller than he was. At that time, she’d curiously asked Xu Qi who the girl was. After finding out that it was his cousin, she was stunned to learn that someone as handsome as Xu Qi would actually have such a plain-looking cousin!

So, it was her cousin… Sheng Jiaoyang’s eyes narrowed as an idea appeared in her mind.

“So, Brother, this is my future sister-in-law? You’re mean! Why didn’t you introduce her to me earlier? You’ve now made me seem like a rude person who lacks manners in front of a future sister-in-law!” After Sheng Jiaoyang finished scolding Xu Qi, she faced the girl and said, “Hello! How are you, Sister-in-law? I’m Xu Jiaojiao.”

Xu Qi’s mouth opened wide. His dull and untalkative cousin had suddenly become so friendly that he found it extremely hard to adapt.

The girl also stared blankly for a moment. Xu Qi had previously told her that this cousin was a bookworm, but because she hadn’t met her before, her shock didn’t last too long. So, smiling, she said, “My name is Zhang Aiyan; you can just call me big sister.”

“Then, in the future, I'll call you Sister Aiyan.” Sheng Jiaoyang walked over and hugged Zhang Aiyan’s free arm. “Sister Aiyan, when did you meet my cousin?”

Because Sheng Jiaoyang’s expression and manner were natural, on top of the fact that she looked completely relaxed, Zhang Aiyan’s guard couldn’t help but be slightly lowered. She had quite a good impression of Sheng Jiaoyang, so she automatically felt close to her.

Xu Qi, who’d been forgotten, was left to helplessly watch his girlfriend chat with his cousin. The more they talked, the more enthusiastic their gestures became. The explanation that he’d been preparing to say was silently swallowed, but he quickly interrupted them and said, “Let’s find a place to sit first. Standing here is tiring; especially when the sun is so hot today.”

“You’re right! After speaking so much, Sister Aiyan must be thirsty!” Sheng Jiaoyang, who’d been talking non-stop with Zhang Aiyan, agreed.

Zhang Aiyan looked at Sheng Jiaoyang as she laughed. She now had an extremely favourable impression of this considerate cousin.

After they were seated in a shaded area of a dessert shop, Sheng Jiaoyang took the initiative to ask what Zhang Aiyan’s preferences were. Then, she decided that they would eat what Zhang Aiyan liked. Xu Qi, on the other hand, was left without a chance to be considerate as her boyfriend and was reduced to being in charge of paying the bill.

“Sister Aiyan, you said that my brother brought roses with him to confess to you, but in the end, when he was on the footpath, he was splashed with muddy water from passing cars. Then, after that happened, he still came to see you?” Once they’d finished ordering, Sheng Jiaoyang gently urged Zhang Aiyan to resume talking. From the beginning, her intimate manner prevented anyone from even slightly suspecting that she was actually gaining a free meal.

Sheng Jiaoyang was talented at approaching people, and as long as she wanted, they wouldn’t feel anything strange about it. This was a skill she’d managed to learn after living abroad for so many years, because in her birth country, her reputation was ruined and the people around her had isolated her. Unfortunately, when she’d first started living abroad, she’d still been isolated. But, this time it was as a foreigner. Unresigned to living a life of near-seclusion, she’d had no other choice but to slowly develop the skills to become close with a person without seeming awkward.

Of course, as hard as one tries, it’s near impossible to change who you are at your core. So, while Sheng Jiaoyang hadn’t mastered the skill entirely, she had managed to make herself seem pleasing to the eye, and a person devoid of schemes.

“Yeah, he came to my dormitory entrance to confess to me, and at that time, that was the first time I’d seen him looking so embarrassed. When that happened, I was touched, so I agreed.” Zhang Aiyan laughed as she remembered the confession.

Sheng Jiaoyang glanced at Xu Qi. This guy’s way of confessing was actually pretty decent. Usually, in front of the girl they liked, a guy would try to look his best. But, after going through so much effort to confess, to then end up cutting such a sorry figure, it would, without fail, tug at the heartstrings of the girl. If the girl were to turn the guy down in that situation, her conscience would definitely feel guilty.

Catching his cousin’s sidelong glance, Xu Qi felt his expression freeze. He currently didn’t know what kind of emotions he should be displaying. In just a short time, his girlfriend and his cousin were as close as old friends. On top of the circumstances of his confession, his girlfriend had even revealed the details of their first date!

Zhang Aiyan was totally unaware of her boyfriend’s tangled emotions. She only felt that it was utterly enjoyable chatting with her boyfriend’s cousin, and had even subconsciously told her all about her childhood.

After filling her stomach, Sheng Jiaoyang smiled contentedly until her eyes narrowed. When Zhang Aiyan stopped drinking water, Sheng Jiaoyang suggested, “Sister Aiyan, why don’t we go shopping? You’re so beautiful, and your figure is also good. I’m sure that anything you wear will look good on you!”

“Speaking about figures; where can I be compared with you? Your body is no different from a model’s, while your brother, he…” Zhang Aiyan smirked as she glanced at Xu Qi. “Isn’t even as tall as you!” She then covered her mouth as she laughed.

“Height isn’t a problem. As long as I have a good countenance then it’s okay!” Xu Qi couldn’t help but defend himself.

“But, I think that your cousin looks better than you do,” the honest girl abruptly retorted to her boyfriend’s boast.

Xu Qi helplessly looked up at the sky, his posture stiff. His life was already filled with hardships, so why should his weak points have to be jabbed at too?!

Sheng Jiaoyang laughed. Her cousin’s girlfriend was quite cute.

Seeing his pretty girlfriend and his tall, short-haired cousin walking hand in hand from behind, they seemed more like a male and a female. Xu Qi absolutely regretted calling out to his cousin when he’d recognised her as his girlfriend was stolen by her.

At this moment, the two girls in front had already switched to talking about skincare. Zhang Aiyan continuously giggled as she was filled with so much admiration and amusement due to Sheng Jiaoyang’s words.

She really was worthy of being the prettiest girl in the school; even her laughter was pleasant to hear. But, Xu Qi was unhappy because the one amusing his girlfriend was someone else, not himself!

Xu Qi angrily glared at the back of his cousin whose grades were better than his, whose height was taller than his, and was now even more attractive than him. He decided that the next time he was about to go on a date that he would first find out his cousin’s whereabouts.

You say that you’re a female, but you flirt with girls?!

How could Sheng Jiaoyang know what Xu Qi was currently thinking? She’d already kidnapped Zhang Aiyan into a cosmetics store.

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