Chapter 7 - Rich and Willful

“Lulu, just because you had nothing else to spend one hundred dollars on, you decided to buy an expensive sketch? Such a rich and willful girl!”

“And that artistic signature too!”

“You’re just too kind! It’s not difficult to find someone online to create a designer signature for five dollars.”

“Those online designs look like cheap rubbish. I like this one; it perfectly expresses my name and good looks. Closely examine the picture I took; do you know what kind of expression she was wearing when she drew me? You might not know, but for me, the girl who gave me the portrait used a gentle and adorable expression as she said ‘what I drew is how you look to me’. Aww…my skin at that moment was covered in goosebumps! She’s too fantastic! Don’t you agree?”

“…I’m too lazy to talk to you anymore. Besides, if you run out of money, you can just return to your family. Alright, my supervisor is here, so I have to go back to work. I wasn’t blessed with good fortune like you.”

Liu Lu’s lips twitched, and she removed the phone from her ear to mumble, “She’s acting like I think my parents’ money is but a drop in the ocean. I haven’t squandered it; I think this is worth it.” She looked at the sketch in her hand. The more she looked at it, the more satisfied she was with it.

“Can I have a look at the sketch in your hand?” Suddenly, a deep magnetic voice was heard from the side.

Liu Lu was startled and looked up to find two men standing on her left. One was a sturdy looking man with robust features, appearing to be about thirty-something years old. He was wearing a black T-shirt and dark blue jeans, with his strong arm muscles exposed. He seemed like an unusual man, while the other looked…

As her eyes were sizing up the two men, she abruptly realised that she’d been caught staring. There were no angry expressions on the other party, but she was more afraid than when her father was mad. She didn’t dare look at them again, and moved the paper in her left hand to the right one, furthest away from the men.

The elevator door suddenly opened with a ding!

“Um…I have to enter the elevator.” Take this opportunity to speak, Liu Lu glanced at the man standing next to her. The expression on his face was eerily calm as his eyes lowered to look at the picture, his long eyelashes covering the emotions revealed within the depths of his eyes.

Wow! So handsome!

As for what parts of him were handsome, Liu Lu couldn’t say. His face wasn’t as eye-catching as the perfect face of a celebrity, yet it still gave off a feeling of handsomeness. And, while he was quite tall, his stature couldn’t compare to the body of the robust man beside him. Still, it was clear that he wasn’t lanky.

“Where is the person who drew this?” The man abruptly looked up, his expression became a little more serious as his eyes swept across Liu Lu.

“Next to the flowerbed at Hundred Flowers Square,” Liu Lu immediately answered honestly as she stared blankly at his cold expression.

When the man turned around to walk outside, Liu Lu looked at the paper held in his hand and remembered that he’d snatched her portrait away when he’d spoken to her. She quickly chased after him and shouted, “My sketch!”

The man stopped and turned to look at Liu Lu. His eyes were as sharp as a blade, instantly dissolving the courage she’d mustered to ask for her portrait back.

“How much money do you want as compensation?”

“I-I don’t want money…”

Before Liu Lu could finish speaking, the robust-looking man, at a nod from the other man, withdrew a stack of banknotes from his wallet and handed them to her. It looked to be approximately a thousand dollars.

“No, I…”

Another stack of banknotes was removed from the wallet.

“Not enough?” the handsome man indifferently spat out.

Liu Lu shut her mouth with a click.

After the two men had disappeared from her sight, Liu Lu looked down at the money gripped in her hands to discreetly start counting how much was there. With the banknotes she’d just been given, minus the one hundred dollars she’d spent on the artwork, she’d suddenly gained two thousand six hundred dollars!

“Such a wealthy and wayward young master!”

Sheng Jiaoyang, who was currently unaware that her sketch had been sold for more than two thousand dollars was, at this moment, working hard to help people design their signatures. Five dollars for a custom signature wasn’t expensive; it would at most buy her a cup of milk tea. Some of the people watching were interested, yet no one had asked her for another portrait.

Sheng Jiaoyang had managed to complete several drafts of custom artistic signatures and decided to take a break before moving to a cooler location to avoid the hot sun beating down on her. But, just as she closed her eyes, someone stopped in front of her.

“Are you the one who drew this?” A familiar voice suddenly filled her ears.

Sheng Jiaoyang squinted at the thing being held in front of her face. It was her first sketch of the day; Liu Lu’s portrait. Then, when she saw the blood jade ring on the thumb pinching the piece of paper, her heart abruptly skipped a beat.

Her gaze slowly travelled up the arm to the face of the person before her, and sure enough, she encountered the graceful countenance of Shen Zhining.

Sheng Jiaoyang’s lips trembled, but after remembering her current identity, she managed to calm down. “Yes. May I ask what’s wrong?”

If it wasn’t something that she’d personally experienced, who would believe that someone could become another person with an utterly different appearance and bloodline?

“Jiaoyang?” the man condescendingly asked as he looked at her.

Were there two people in the world who lived in different areas but still had the same painting style and signature?

He’d never before believed in coincidences. All coincidences were things deliberately orchestrated by humans.

Sheng Jiaoyang heard the name that the man had spat out, and for no explicable reason, she felt a chill travel up from her back to her scalp, rendering the places it touched numb. This feeling was all too familiar to her. Every time he would call out to her with such a gloomy tone, it always meant that unfortunate circumstances would befall her.

Previously, Shen Zhining, this bastard, had bullied her whenever he was unhappy. Unfortunately, at that time, he’d been unhappy every day. Back then, she’d been unable to understand why she had to be bullied to tears, day after day. Since he’d intimidated her so much when she was a child, it had psychologically scarred her. Once she was older, she’d always make every effort to avoid the places that Shen Zhining would frequent. If she happened to run into him, she would flee.

Even though the little devil prince had now grown up, it was unlikely that he’d become an angel. The current Shen Zhining was simply too scary; the coldness around him like a living organism that permeated all within reach. While Sheng Jiaoyang knew that the summer sun was beating down on her back, she felt so cold that it was like she’d fallen into a frozen lake, her heart chilled to its core.

“Th-that is my stage name,” Sheng Jiaoyang said, her answer lacking any confidence.

“Change it.”

Hearing the other party’s command, Sheng Jiaoyang laughed angrily. “Oh, since you said that I should change my signature, then I’ll change it. Who are you? Why should I change it?”

“You won’t change it?” The man’s tone became extremely dangerous.

When Sheng Jiaoyang heard this, a scene that she’d once witnessed suddenly appeared in her mind. It was something that had happened with Shen Zhining several years ago. The younger Shen Zhining had been wearing a tailored suit with his left hand inside a pocket on his trousers, while in his right hand, he’d held a wine glass. The blood jade ring on his thumb had contrasted vividly against the wine in the glass, making it utterly eye-catching. However, the most prominent aspect about Shen Zhining at that time had been the middle-aged man who was being crushed under his foot until he was howling pitifully. The man had been lying on the ground with a swollen face, his right wrist pinned by Shen Zhining’s shoe. Yet, even with such a cruel act, a ruthless smile was visible in the corners of Shen Zhining’s mouth.

It was only later that she’d found out that this person whose hand had been crushed by Shen Zhining had been his subordinate who’d betrayed him.

Unfortunately, it was too late; that scene had been burnt into her memories. The little devil prince had become a demon king. The change wasn’t just in size and appearance, but also in temperament as he’d become crueller and colder. The only constant was his utterly unpredictable mood.

I absolutely won’t bend to Demon King Shen! With these words engraved in Sheng Jiaoyang’s mind, she decided to use them as a guideline for her next move.

“Of course, that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible for me to change my signature, but why should I change it?” Sheng Jiaoyang’s voice softened near the end. Before, she’d always had people around her who’d protected her from Demon King Shen. Yet now, she was just an ordinary person who didn’t have anyone to rely on. It wouldn’t be difficult to dispose of her without anyone noticing.

“There’s a genius before you, yet you still insist on copying others and making a fool of yourself?” Shen Zhining said as he looked her straight in the eyes. Although he didn’t reveal any emotions on his face, Sheng Jiaoyang had managed to hear the contempt in his flat voice.

Genius? Copying?

“Oh? There’s an artist whose name is Jiaoyang that’s better than me in this world?” Sheng Jiaoyang quietly asked herself. If there was such an artist, how could I not know?!

Shen Zhining snorted in contempt. His gaze, as he looked at Sheng Jiaoyang, revealed a glimpse of pity. It was like he was looking at a person with no worldly experience.

“F*ck!”

Sheng Jiaoyang gritted her teeth, but she knew that she had no alternative other than to give in.

“I can change my signature, but since you’re the one who want me to change it, I want compensation.” Using money to solve an issue wasn’t a problem; the problem was the principle of the matter. This was something that had been told to her by the young Shen Zhining.

“How much do you want?”

Sheng Jiaoyang stuck out a finger.

“A hundred thousand dollars?”

So much?! Sheng Jiaoyang lowered her eyes and didn’t immediately respond due to surprise.

“You still want more? Your life isn’t even worth a million dollars.” Shen Zhining slightly narrowed his eyes.

A corner of Sheng Jiaoyang’s mouth twitched. When she’d been Sheng Jiaoyang, she’d regarded a mere million as pocket money; not enough for her to even buy a piece of jewellery. Initially, she’d only wanted to get ten thousand dollars, but when Shen Zhining had taken take the initiative to offer a hundred thousand dollars, she’d been pleasantly surprised. Yet, due to his words, she was now unsatisfied. Since he’d decided to look down on her, she decided to up her asking price to a million dollars.

“That outstanding artist drew a picture and got more than that, right? My life may not be worth a million dollars, but in the future, my drawings will be worth way more than that!” Sheng Jiaoyang stood up, and with her current height, she could now stand face to face with Demon King Shen as long as she raised her eyes. There was no need to lift her head to look at him like she’d had to do in the past.

Shen Zhining stared fixedly at the girl before him who’d dared to negotiate with him. As if he’d abruptly remembered something, his expression seemed to soften, “Okay.”

The next second, Demon King Shen’s expression darkened.

“But, if next time I find out that you’re still using her name, I will make you suffer a life worse than death!”

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