“Your skin is exquisite, so using this toner will be extremely effective for you. Although it’s only from a second-tier brand, this girl’s set of skincare products are really good.”
“Jiaojiao, how come you know so much?”
“Uhh…I have a friend who likes this type of stuff.”
“Jiaojiao, quickly help me and have a look; does this dress suit me?”
“It would suit your mum, but it doesn’t suit you. Sister Aiyan, come, try this dress instead.”
“A little black dress? But, I’ve never worn something like this before.”
“You won’t know you don’t like it until you give it a try.”
Xu Qi, who was initially a boyfriend and a cousin, was now reduced to a porter as he was left to carry all the shopping bags as he bitterly followed behind the two girls. His heart had an ominous premonition. He felt that his years of savings would quickly dwindle in the hands of these two girls.
During this time, Xu Qi developed a new understanding of Xu Jiaojiao. His previously dull cousin had now become more cunning as all it took was a simple ‘I’m so envious; I’ve never received a gift from cousin before!’ and Zhang Aiyan would ask him to buy a gift for her. Being the boyfriend that he was, how could he bear to let his girlfriend pay. Consequently, after buying the first ‘gift’, it then moved onto a second item, and then the third item. From skincare products to clothes, as well as shoes; Xu Jiaojiao received something new from head to toe.
“Jiaojiao, let’s have fun together again next time.”
Zhang Aiyan shouted to Sheng Jiaoyang as they dropped Xu Jiaojiao off at the subway station.
“That little girl didn’t even say goodbye after buying her so many things!” Xu Qi said as he ground his teeth together.
Zhang Aiyan hugged Xu Qi’s arm and laughed. “Your cousin is quite interesting! Her taste and knowledge regarding international brands is so extensive. It’s as if she’d experienced them all before. I could tell that she’s exerted a lot of effort in this area, and the most amazing part is that she was also admitted to one of the most prestigious universities. She’s truly awesome!”
Which part of her was awesome?! She was clearly a child prodigy!
Xu Qi, who’d been pushed to the edge and had so extravagantly spent his savings till nearly half of it was gone, felt an extreme amount of heartache. He’d initially been intending to buy a car worth one hundred thousand dollars, but now that his pockets had shrunk so severely, he could only push back his plans.
If his cousin hadn’t been filled with so many ideas, then that would’ve been fine. But, when she did, she executed it with deadly precision.
By the time Sheng Jiaoyang returned home, the sun had already set.
As soon as she entered the house, she was so terrified that her heart almost burst from her chest. The inside of the house was dim due to the lack of sunlight, and all she could make out was a figure sitting at the dining table, facing the door. With her myopia, she had a limited range of sight which made her think that she could see a ghostly shadow.
Sheng Jiaoyang stretched out her hand and turned on the light to see that it was just Xu Qing, causing her heart to feel relieved. As soon as she had enough money, the first thing that she’d do was to have her eyesight corrected! Even if this body was currently healthy, if it was often shocked like this, sooner or later it would suffer from heart failure.
Xu Qing was also startled. She saw her daughter entering the room while carrying multiple shopping bags, and nervously asked, “Jiaojiao, how did you buy so many things?”
“These are the gifts that cousin gave me as a graduation gift.”
“Qiqi?” Xu Qing was surprised as even though Xu Jiaojiao and Xu Qi were cousins, they weren’t particularly close.
“Did you borrow the money?” Sheng Jiaoyang didn’t want Xu Qing to know too many details and purposely changed the topic.
Xu Qing’s expression once again collapsed into despair.
With one look, Sheng Jiaoyang knew the answer and patiently consoled Xu Qing by murmuring a few comforting words. Then, she gave Xu Qing the skincare product that she’d just bought and gave her a facial. During the facial, she used a massage technique that she’d learnt from her grandfather’s expert masseuse to help Xu Qing relax.
That night, Xu Qing slept deeply.
This was naturally what Sheng Jiaoyang had wanted. Firstly, she didn’t want to be frightened awake again in the middle of the night. And secondly, since she’d become Xu Jiaojiao, she was going to assume all of Xu Jiaojiao’s responsibilities and execute them to the best of her abilities.
After enjoying her daughter’s rare display of care, the next morning, when Xu Qing woke up, she was brimming with a mood as bright as sunshine. So, the first thing she did once she’d made breakfast was go out to find a job.
Regarding the matter of Xu Qing finding a job, Sheng Jiaoyang didn’t have a problem with it. In fact, she even encouraged her. She didn’t have much time to accompany Xu Qing, and rather than let this soft-natured woman wallow in self-pity alone, it was better that she cheered herself up by looking for a new job.
Once she’d finished eating the poached eggs made by Xu Qing, Sheng Jiaoyang prepared to leave.
She couldn’t just be idle all day while hoping for the best; she had to take necessary steps to ensure that the results of the modelling competition would be in her favour.
In fact, last night after she’d encouraged Xu Qing to find a job, she’d thought a lot about what her next moves should be. Previously, she’d been wealthy, so she’d easily accomplished whatever it was that she wanted to do. As Sheng Jiaoyang, she and Mei Niu had formed a partnership and established a brand name. She’d also put together an exhibition of her art, and then used the proceeds from selling her paintings to start a dream granting foundation. She’d done many things that other people couldn’t achieve, even if they tried their whole life, but all of those things had relied on the help that she’d received from her grandpa. If it wasn’t for her grandfather helping her, she might’ve had no money to invest in a partnership. She wouldn’t have had any connections to use when she’d had her art exhibition, and her paintings might’ve been seen as worthless. If that had happened, she then wouldn’t have been able to help others through the funding of her foundation. This was because, at that time, she was just a pitiful person whose mother had passed away early, whose father didn’t care about her, whose paternal grandparents weren’t fond of her, and whose stepmother bullied her.
Now that Sheng Jiaoyang had nothing, she could only rely on her abilities to obtain the materials that she required. She could no longer just open her mouth to ask for it and merely hold out her hand.
After coming to terms with the helplessness that she’d felt at the beginning, she was now starting to think: So, this is what it means to depend on one’s abilities to crawl to the top from nothing! Just thinking about it made her blood race with anticipation.
Sheng Jiaoyang first headed to the stationery store near the school and bought a small paint board, a stack of white paper, and a simple paintbrush with a few pots of paint. With her remaining few dollars, she then made her way to the old part of the town’s bustling business centre. This place was near one of the leading universities, and several of the older university campuses weren’t far from here; about twenty minutes by bus.
[Starting price from five dollars (no maximum)]
Sheng Jiaoyang sat beside one of the flower beds and placed a piece of paper at her feet with those words written on it. Then, holding the drawing board, she began to idly draw.
Little by little, a person’s facial features revealed themselves within the graceful brushstrokes. An elegant countenance, a straight nose, the sharp curves on a pair of lips…
Sheng Jiaoyang didn’t realise what she’d created until after she’d finished the drawing.
Her fingers gently stroked the outlines of the features while she whispered, “Lin Yan…”
“Is this handsome guy real?” Suddenly, a voice nearby abruptly pulled her from her memories.
Sheng Jiaoyang blinked and turned her head to see a girl standing beside her with her tied up in a high ponytail. She was biting on a straw from her soy milk and staring intently at the drawing in Sheng Jiaoyang’s hand.
“Miss, is this handsome guy your boyfriend?” the girl tilted her head as she asked curiously.
“Unfortunately, he’s not.” Sheng Jiaoyang quickly managed to regain the calm expression on her face.
“Then, he must be your crush!”
Sheng Jiaoyang’s calm expression cracked.
The girl who’d so bluntly exposed the truth in one brief remark sucked on the straw, and beamed as she said, “If there was such a handsome person around me, I would also secretly be in love with him.”
Look at your age first! Sheng Jiaoyang laughed. The girl’s straightforward nature couldn’t help but remind her of her younger self. Why had she liked Lin Yan anyway? In the beginning, it had seemed like love at first sight. Once she’d seen that handsome face…
Cough Sheng Jiaoyang plastered a neutral look on her face. “Do you want to get a sketch done?”
“What do you mean by ‘no maximum’?”
“As long as it isn’t less than five dollars, I don’t mind how much you pay.”
The girl cocked her head, and casually decided, “Then, draw a picture for me; draw me in this pose.” Following that, the girl leaned closer to a branch extending out of the flowerbed and posed as if she was about to smell the flowers.
“Please hold that position for ten seconds.” The paintbrush in Sheng Jiaoyang’s hand rapidly glided across the paper.
“Ten seconds?” The girl thought that she’d misheard, so she turned her head towards Sheng Jiaoyang to confirm.
“Don’t move; ten seconds is enough.”
Ten, nine, eight…three, two…
“One!” The girl finished counting and excitedly walked back to Sheng Jiaoyang. Watching her silhouette appear on the paper, she was so surprised that her eyes widened in astonishment. She was confident that there no one as capable as Sheng Jiaoyang, who was able to sweep a brush across the paper as smoothly as flowing water. The girl greatly admired her.
Nowadays, with the amount of information easily accessible, the capacity most people were able to retain was equal to approximately the size of a bean. A large number of people would be capable of saying something, yet forget it within the next second. In fact, just having the competency to memorise several amounts at once was a problem many struggled with. It was hard to imagine that there was a person who only needed ten seconds to remember another person, and was then able to draw them entirely from memory. This was already beyond the realm of a simple skill; this was an innate skill. It was a gift that many would envy!
“Amazing!” Several people stopped to watch, which then slowly built into a crowd as more people began to notice the commotion surrounding the pair.
Once Sheng Jiaoyang had finished her drawing, she signed it in the lower right corner out of habit. Then, the girl was instantly examining the portrait even though Sheng Jiaoyang had barely placed her brush down.
“The design of your signature is really artistic! Is this read as Jiaoyang or Jiao Yang? Did you design this yourself? Could you help me design one?”
“You’re asking so many questions at once; which one do you want me to answer first?” Sheng Jiaoyang speechlessly looked at the girl. After completing such a big sketch, the part that was unexpectedly praised was the signature in the corner! Should she now be laughing or crying?
“Oh…uhh, help me design a signature first! I’m willing to pay more money as long as it’s cool!” The girl blinked her eyes, trying to act cute.
In order to earn money, the Sheng’s Eldest Miss had no other choice but to sell her drawings in the street. So, of course, she wouldn’t miss an opportunity to make extra.
First, she got the girl to write her name on a piece of paper and asked if she had any idea of what she wanted. Then, Sheng Jiaoyang artistically painted the girl’s name in a few brush strokes besides the name the girl wrote.
“Are you satisfied with this, Liu Lu?” Sheng Jiaoyang’s finger pointed at the signature.
The Chinese character for ‘Lu’ in Liu Lu’s name used many brush strokes. However, under Sheng Jiaoyang’s hand, it became a name that was simple and full of artistic flair, with a refreshing sense of beauty.
“I’m satisfied! Super satisfied!” shouted Liu Lu as she laughed, unable to conceal her happiness. Delighted with her commissioned artwork and signature, she quickly withdrew several banknotes from her wallet and handed them to Sheng Jiaoyang.
Although this amount of money was utterly incomparable to the amount she used to sell her paintings for, this money was still something that she’d earned by managing to sell her work for the first time without the identity of ‘Sheng Jiaoyang’. The thin banknotes gripped in her palm instantly became something precious in Sheng Jiaoyang’s eyes. At this moment, she genuinely felt that she understood the real worth of money and had entered the world of an ordinary citizen.
“Ahh! I almost forgot to tell you! The picture that you drew of me is much better looking than what I look like in person,” Liu Lu said as she brought out her cell phone and took a few photos of the portrait and signature. Then, with one hand, she posted the images onto her social media account.
Hearing that, a corner of Sheng Jiaoyang’s mouth raised slightly. “What I drew is how you look to me.”
Liu Lu stared blankly. The short-haired girl before her looked younger than herself, but those smiling eyes seemed as if they were filled with starlight, making her look particularly attractive.Previous Chapter Next Chapter