As darkness fell, the lights outside the residential area shone brightly, illuminating the wide road as if it were daytime.
In the cold December wind, the girl lifted her eyes, her peach blossom eyes sparkling and charming.
Her voice was soft and gentle: "We've reached. Thank you for taking me back."
Gu Miao lowered his head, trying to hide his wound, but revealing his reddened earlobes.
With the bright lights here, he must look extremely ugly now.
Unconsciously, he murmured, "Um, thank you for your medicine."
The tall and upright young man lowered his head slightly, looking like a little milk dog that had done something wrong, with a cute fluffy top.
Cheng Chu tried hard to suppress the corners of her mouth from turning up, and whispered, "It's okay. Don't fight again next time. Not only will you hurt yourself, but you'll also be punished by the school."
"Mhmm," the young man said with a hint of reluctance in his voice, his dark eyes lowered. "Then, I'll go now'?"
Cheng Chu nodded.
The cold wind outside the residential complex made Gu Miao's figure seem longer as it disappeared into the silent night of the city.
That night, Cheng Chu couldn't sleep well. Her dreams were filled with images of the young man being punished.
His usually straight back was slightly bent, and his lips were bruised and purple as he stood on the high podium, reading his apology letter word by word.
The December air in the city was cold and dry, with the howling wind passing by.
The people below looked at him with disdain and contempt.
Life seemed to have returned to its original state.
Gu Miao no longer spoke and always sat in the corner of the classroom, never saying a word.
This included to her as well. The moonlight shone through the window, and the girl lying in bed suddenly opened her eyes.
Despite it being a cold December, Cheng Chu was sweating profusely, with strands of wet hair sticking to her fair face. She gasped for air with her mouth wide open.
Her heart was pounding like crazy, and she felt her blood gradually turning cold.
She couldn't let this happen, she couldn't let Gu Miao face punishment.
The cold wind blew into the room, and the wind chimes on the windowsill swayed slightly.
In the darkness, Cheng Chu leaned against her pillow, feeling her drowsiness fade away.
She had to find a way to make Wang Yan admit to what he had done and make Song Xinyu pay the price.
Early Saturday morning, the phone rang and woke Cheng Chu up.
She groggily reached for her phone and answered it.
"Chuchu, are you awake? If you are, I'll send the driver to pick you up?" Cheng Yue asked. The sunlight shone through the window, casting a golden hue on the off-white blanket.
Cheng Chu turned over and mumbled, "I'm still in bed. Can you tell Uncle Wang to come in an hour?"
"Sure, I'll let him know," the voice on the other end replied.
After hanging up, Cheng Chu set a 45-minute alarm and dozed off.
An hour later, Cheng Chu casually put on a coat, grabbed her backpack, and headed out the door.
At the entrance of the community, she heard a low-key Bentley. Driver Wang was standing by the car door, eagerly waiting for her arrival.
Cheng Chu bent down slightly and only then noticed her mother was also in the car.
"Why didn't you dress up nicely?" Fu Rong frowned. "Didn't you promise to go shopping with me today?"
Cheng Chu paused for a moment, only then realizing that she had promised to accompany her mother shopping on Saturday.
She climbed into the car and smiled sweetly, "Of course I'll come with you. I need some new clothes anyway, so it's the perfect opportunity to go shopping."
Fu Rong put her arm around her daughter's shoulder and gently touched her face, saying lovingly, "Look at you, you've lost weight from studying so hard lately. Today we'll make sure to treat you well."
Cheng Chu had a restless night and didn't sleep well. In the car, she rested her head on her mother's shoulder and dozed off again.
Half an hour later, Fu Rong led Cheng Chu into the mall.
The high-end mall was filled with a pleasant fragrance and warm air, which finally cleared Cheng Chu's groggy mind.
The Cheng family had many businesses, and this mall was one of them.
Although brands would send their new products to the Cheng family every quarter, Fu Rong still enjoyed the feeling of shopping in the mall. As soon as the two entered the store, the salesperson warmly greeted them, pouring tea and water with great enthusiasm.
"Mrs. Cheng, our new products for this season just arrived yesterday. Would you be interested in taking a look?"
Turning around, Fu Rong said, "Chuchu, if you see anything you like, have them wrap it up. I'll go take a look at the bags first."
Cheng Chu nodded and took a sip of the tea poured by the salesperson. She flipped through a few pages of magazines but found herself lacking interest.
With few people in the store, she looked around and saw the glasses on a nearby display rack.
Under the bright and clear light, the golden wire frames reflected a sparkling radiance, making the glasses even more exquisite.
The salesperson obediently approached and said, "Miss Cheng, would you like to take a look at the frames? They're all new products in the store and have been selling like hotcakes lately."
"Mm." Cheng Chu stood up and took the glasses frame handed to her by the salesperson, lowering her gaze slightly. The girl had casually draped a coat over herself, her black hair slightly scattered on her shoulders, giving off a serene and gentle vibe.
The salesperson recognized it as the new Max Mara coat, worth tens of thousands, but the girl looked even better in it than the model.
Cheng Chu leaned against the mirror, examining the glasses in her hand.
She couldn't help but imagine what Gu Miao would look like wearing these glasses.
The young man had a straight nose with a refined gold-rimmed glasses perched on it, wearing a clean white shirt with all the buttons done up tightly.
His eyes were cold and stern, his thin lips slightly pursed, and his Adam's apple rolled slightly when he spoke.
It was both restrained and alluring.
In her past life, Gu Miao never wore glasses, and Cheng Chu didn't even know he was nearsighted.
But the young Gu Miao always wore a pair of dull black-framed glasses on his nose, which suppressed some of his handsome features.
The sound of high heels tapping on the tiled floor slowly approached. Fu Rong walked over and looked at the glasses frame in Cheng Chu's hand.
She turned to the salesperson and waved her hand, "Wrap up her glasses frame too, we'll pay together later."
"No need, I'm just looking," Cheng Chu smiled and handed the glasses frame to the salesperson. "Thank you."
"If you like it, just buy it. I know you young girls like to wear non-prescription glasses as a fashion statement," Fu Rong smiled kindly. "Is there anything else you like? Let's buy it together."
"Really, I don't need anything," Cheng Chu said seriously.
The logo was engraved on the glasses' legs, not very obvious, but it could be seen if you looked closely.
This brand's products were not cheap, and as a proud young person, Cheng Chu would never accept such an expensive gift. For Cheng Chu, she always treaded carefully around Gu Miao.
She understood the boy's pain and knew his insecurities and sensitivity.
He fought and struggled for himself, secretly dealing with those who bullied and harassed him.
He concealed his anguish and pain, never willing to utter a word.
Even though the Gu Miao of her youth was shy and introverted, far from the Chief Ge who dominated the business world in Cheng Chu's memory.
But Cheng Chu knew, he was always that person.
The one who kept all his turbulent emotions hidden in his heart, the one who had secretly loved her for so many years.
The winter afternoon sun was particularly warm.
By the time she got home, it was already afternoon, and Fu Rong had gone to her room to take a nap.
The spacious villa was empty, perhaps because she had slept in the car for so long, Cheng Chu was not sleepy at all.
She wandered to her own small garden. In the garden, the plum blossoms were in full bloom, with red petals dotted among the branches, creating a picturesque scene.
Cheng Chu lay on the rocking chair, gazing at the sky with a heavy heart.
"Hey, Cheng Chu, you're back?"
The sudden voice interrupted her thoughts. She looked up and saw Lin Qifeng leaning against the railing on the second floor next door, grinning at her lazily.
She waved her hand casually and replied listlessly, "Yeah, I'm back."
"I'm so bored. Why don't you come over and chat with me for a while?"
Lin Qifeng was a popular figure in school, and there were always a few students in each class who considered him a close friend. Maybe he could help her with her problems.
As expected, after hearing Cheng Chu's question, Lin Qifeng pondered for a moment before saying, "You're talking about Wang Yan. We played basketball together. He was a sports special student in school and he's a decent person. I heard he got into some trouble in junior high, but he really played basketball well. Why do you suddenly ask about him?"
Cheng Chu didn't tell him about what happened at school, she just asked if he knew Wang Yan.
"A decent person? Are you sure?" This was the person who splashed ink on her and wanted to confront her after class.
Cheng Chu couldn't believe that he could be a good person.
Lin Qifeng scratched his head. "From my experience with him, that's how I see it."
Cheng Chu furrowed her brows. She didn't think Lin Qifeng had a reason to lie to her.
But if Wang Yan was a decent person, why would he do something like this?
And why would he listen to Song Xinyu?
The sun was setting, painting the sky a brilliant crimson red.
As Cheng Chu walked past her own garage after leaving Lin Qifeng's house, she saw Uncle Wang coming out of it.
"Miss Cheng," he politely nodded at her.
Cheng Chu smiled slightly, "Hello, Uncle Wang. Are you heading home?"
"Yes, my wife and children are waiting for dinner," Uncle Wang smiled kindly.
After exchanging a few pleasantries, they were about to say goodbye when Cheng Chu suddenly asked, "Uncle Wang, can you do me a favor?"
"Just tell me what you need, Miss. I'll help if I can," Uncle Wang replied with a smile.
Cheng Chu lowered her head and pondered for a moment before saying, "Can you help me investigate someone? But please don't tell my parents or brother. I promise it's not for anything bad."
Under the setting sun, the girl's peach blossom eyes shone with sincerity, and a few strands of shallow prayers were hidden within.
Uncle Wang hesitated for a moment, but ultimately nodded. He used to be a soldier and knew quite a bit about this kind of thing.
Cheng Chu didn't expect Uncle Wang to be so efficient.
On Sunday afternoon, after finishing her piano lesson, Cheng Chu went downstairs and found Uncle Wang waiting at the door.
Once in the car, he handed Cheng Chu a file. The car was scented with car perfume, with a refreshing aquatic fragrance that was pleasing to the senses.
Cheng Chu lowered her gaze and looked at Wang Yan's information.
His parents had passed away when he was three years old, and he had since relied on his only grandmother for survival. In middle school, he had once gone astray and became a small-time hoodlum for a few years. But in his third year of middle school, his grandmother fell seriously ill, and he finally straightened up and was admitted to Haishi No.1 High School as a sports special admission student.
For the past few years, Wang Yan's grandmother had been suffering from a lingering illness. To raise money for her medical expenses, he worked tirelessly during his spare time.
However, last week, his grandmother's condition suddenly worsened and she was admitted to the ICU. Although she was transferred to a regular ward a few days later, the cost was still frighteningly high.
Wang Yan was at his wit's end and had to resort to borrowing from loan sharks, but the exorbitant interest rates were beyond his means.
As she pondered his predicament, a tangled mess of thoughts suddenly unraveled in her mind, and the elusive clues she had been searching for became clear.
Monday's weather was exceptionally bright and clear.
After the flag-raising ceremony, the students formed a long line and walked from the playground to the teaching building.
The morning light was dazzling, and the playground was filled with people from three different grades, so many that one could not see the end of the crowd.
Cheng Chu and Luo Qianqian slowly followed behind their classmates at the back of the line.
Amidst the hustle and bustle, Cheng Chu overheard the class monitor talking to someone else.
She vaguely heard the words "Gu Miao" and "disciplinary action."
Cheng Chu was taken aback and quickly stepped forward to grab the class monitor, asking, "What disciplinary action did you just mention?"
The class monitor stumbled as he was pulled back and turned to see Cheng Chu, his expression of shock and anger diminishing slightly.
"It's about Gu Miao's fight last week. Wang Yan's class teacher was away on a business trip and is back this week. They're probably going to discuss disciplinary action," he explained.
Alongside the playground were several holly trees, still lush and green despite the harsh winter.
Gu Miao stood at the back of the line, his cold eyes blending into the winter landscape. He looked expressionless as he watched the crowded group ahead, as if the people around him were not discussing him.
The one who strikes first in a fight will be punished severely. If there is no valid reason for the attack, Wang Yan's actions can only be considered self-defense and he won't have to pay any price.
As for the instigator of all this, Song Xinyu, she has long distanced herself from the situation.
In the morning light, Song Xinyu stood at the front of the line with a smile on her face.
This made Cheng Chu grit her teeth, wishing she could tear off Song Xinyu's fake appearance right then and there. But Cheng Chu had found a way to deal with her.
Back in the classroom, while Gu Miao was away, Cheng Chu turned to Zhou Ran and asked, "Were Gu Miao and Wang Yan both called in by their parents last week?"
Zhou Ran nodded and said, "Yes, Wang Yan's relative came quickly. From her age, it should have been his mother."
The cold wind blew into the classroom, causing the pages of the books to flutter slightly. Cheng Chu thought back to last Friday, when she didn't see Gu Miao's family at the school gate.
The classroom was noisy and chaotic, and suddenly Cheng Chu thought of the young man in the hospital bed, with his proud and arrogant look towards Gu Miao.
Her heart felt sour and swollen, and an inexplicable emotion quietly spread.
After school that day, Cheng Chu went to Wang Yan's class and found him.
The seventeen or eighteen-year-old young man was in the prime of his life, but Wang Yan had a maturity that didn't match his age.
He was very tall, about 1.9 meters, as strong as a mountain, standing in the corridor bathed in the afternoon sun, casting a large shadow behind him.
His oversized school uniform was dirty, with a patch of stubble on his chin, and his cheeks were purple and blue, looking very disheveled.
After hearing Cheng Chu's words, he immediately refused without hesitation: "It's impossible. Song Xinyu has nothing to do with this. I don't know anything about the red ink incident."
The money given by Song Xinyu was his lifeline. With this money, he could finally pay off the hospital bills he owed.
Yesterday, Song Xinyu approached him and offered to give him more money if he didn't reveal her involvement.
His grandmother had already survived the brink of death, but the expenses for her care and nutrition kept piling up.
As a high school student, he couldn't earn much from his part-time job.
Wang Yan lifted his gaze and saw the pure peach blossom eyes of the girl in front of him. They were calm, like a still lake. He was so taken aback by her gaze that he quickly looked away.
He felt guilty towards Cheng Chu. She was just an innocent girl who hadn't done anything wrong. As for the person who had beaten him up, maybe they weren't entirely at fault either. These were all things he deserved to endure.
The afternoon sun was a bit dazzling, and Cheng Chu raised her hand to shield her eyes.
"You know what you did, and I know who told you to do it," she said.
She turned around and positioned herself in the backlight.
After a pause, she continued, "The person who came to the school that day wasn't your parent, was it? Your grandmother probably doesn't know what you did at school or that you borrowed money at a high interest rate."
Wang Yan's grandmother was still in the hospital, and according to Zhou Ran, the person who came to the school that day was a middle-aged woman.
"What do you want?" Wang Yan suddenly looked up and shouted.
Cheng Chu looked at his almost hysterical anger and calmly said, "If you can tell me who asked you to do these things, then she won't know about them."
Wang Yan clenched his fists tightly, his knuckles turning white, his face twisted in anger and pain.
"You think about it carefully, and come find me when you've made up your mind," Cheng Chu turned and walked away.
The midday sun shone down, leaving only a patch of shade at the foot of the stairs.
"Cheng Chu," the boy suddenly called out to her.
Cheng Chu paused, hearing his tired and hoarse voice say, "I'll tell you."
He couldn't let his grandmother know about all this. She was a strong-willed woman, and when he got into trouble in middle school and got involved in all sorts of shady dealings, she had a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital when she found out.
If she knew that he had borrowed money from loan sharks and done such things for the sake of money...
His grandmother was his only family, and Wang Yan closed his eyes in pain, unable to think about it any further.
The last class of the day was the class meeting, and Cheng Chu knew that the teacher would announce something during this class.
Before class started, the classroom was in chaos. She turned to look at Gu Miao.
The young man was bowing his head, memorizing English words. His handsome profile was as indifferent as the mist on a cold winter morning.
He was always like this, not saying anything, not defending himself.
"Gu Miao," Cheng Chu called out to him.
The boy's hand holding the pen stiffened, and he looked up at her, his eyelashes trembling.
"Why did you fight?" Cheng Chu asked.
Gu Miao lowered his eyes and said, "It's nothing."
See, he still didn't want to say!
Cheng Chu didn't understand why he wouldn't tell her. She was a little annoyed with the boy's stubbornness, but on the other hand, she understood his good intentions.
He didn't want her to know that she had been targeted and isolated, nor did he want to see her upset, it was all for the sake of protecting her.
In the depths of her heart, something seemed to quietly emerge, a kind of emotion she had never experienced before, quietly spreading to the tip of her heart.
Slightly sour, yet it brought a strange sense of satisfaction to her heart.
Cheng Chu sniffed and her eyes became slightly moist.
In her past life, she had also been protected by her family and surrounded by people, living in the applause of flowers and the envy of others.
But since losing her brother, her once perfect family had fallen apart, her parents immersed in grief and unable to care about her feelings.
She had to support the company and the family alone.
Never had anyone like he wholeheartedly protected her, cherished her, and unwilling to let her suffer even a little harm. The classroom was still cold in winter, and the noise gradually subsided as the homeroom teacher, Lin Yue, walked in.
"Classmates," Lin Yue gestured and knocked on the podium, "I have an announcement to make."
Cheng Chu couldn't help but turn his head.
Outside the window, the setting sun was sinking, and the young man's face was cold and heavy, as if everything was shut out.
Song Xinyu turned his head and smiled provocatively at them.
"Our classmate Gu Miao was punished by the school for hitting someone without reason," Lin Yue continued.
"Wait, teacher," a clear voice rang out in the silent classroom.
Lin Yue frowned slightly and asked, "If you have something to say, you should raise your hand. You shouldn't interrupt when the teacher is speaking."
"I'm sorry, teacher," Cheng Chu lowered his eyes and looked humble.
Lin Yue didn't scold her favorite student, "Alright, sit down for now. If there's anything, we can talk after class."
Cheng Chu didn't sit down, standing up straight with her back straightened, "Teacher, I'm sorry. I want to prove that Gu Miao didn't hit someone for no reason. He hit someone because Song Xinyu provoked me several times and even threatened to find someone to teach me a lesson."
There was a commotion around them.
Many people only knew that Gu Miao hit someone, but they didn't know about this underlying situation.
"What the hell is going on? It's related to Song Xinyu?"
"It seems like she was standing next to them at the time, but she doesn't seem like that kind of person."
"Don't judge a book by its cover. I remember last week, the rumors about Cheng Chu were spread by Lin Luo. They're so close, you can think for yourself."
"Yeah, I also think there should be some connection."
Song Xinyu couldn't believe what she was hearing and her usually gentle voice became sharp: "What are you talking about? It's just because I happened to be standing next to Gu Miao at the time that you and Zhou Ran started slandering people."
Her peach blossom eyes filled with tears as she looked at Gu Miao and Cheng Chu in disbelief, her voice trembling: "Why are you bullying me like this?"
Cheng Chu didn't even look at her, but she could feel the coldness in her eyes, like a sharp knife, cutting into her with anger.
The classroom was cold on this winter day, and Cheng Chu looked up, meeting Lin Yue's stern gaze as she spoke firmly: "Song Xinyu has held a grudge against me since the English competition, and later she had Wang Yan from the next class pour red ink on my chair during psychology class."
She paused for a moment before continuing, "Luckily, Gu Miao handled it in time. Song Xinyu failed to find someone to target me again and went to Wang Yan instead. Gu Miao and Zhou Ran happened to overhear everything, so they ended up fighting."
Zhou Ran stood up and spoke loudly, "Yes, I can testify to that."
Cheng Chu lowered his gaze and met Gu Miao's dark eyes.
"Yes, that's right," Gu Miao said in a deep voice, enunciating each word.
"You guys are just spouting nonsense because you have more people," Song Xinyu said, almost on the verge of tears.
She sobbed and tears welled up in her eyes.
Cheng Chu gave her a cold glance and took out a USB drive from the drawer. "This is the evidence. It contains the chat records between Song Xinyu and Wang Yan, as well as transfer records."
She turned to look at Song Xinyu and said, "If you insist that it's a false accusation, I hope you don't mind presenting this evidence in front of the whole class."
Song Xinyu's tearful face instantly lost its color.
She looked at the USB drive in Cheng Chu's hand and shook her head repeatedly, struggling to maintain her last bit of sanity as she said, "I didn't do it. You're falsely accusing me."
The small USB drive quickly made its way into the teacher's hands.
After skillfully inserting it into the computer, she stared at the screen with an increasingly grim expression.
The silent classroom was filled with murmurs. The students below looked at Lin Yue's expression and had already made up their minds.
"Wow, is it really her?"
"Looking at her usual delicate appearance, how could she be so bad?"
"Cheng Chu and Gu Miao are so pitiful."
Someone suddenly knocked on the classroom door, and Lin Qifeng stood at the door, looking inside and asked nervously, "Our class ran out of chalk, can I borrow some?"
Lin Yue nodded, "Come in and get it."
Under the watchful eyes of everyone, Lin Qifeng walked to the podium, curious about the strange atmosphere in the class.
He lowered his gaze and saw the contents on the computer screen. He was so shocked that his hand holding the chalk trembled.
A cold wind blew through the classroom, and Song Xinyu looked up and met Lin Qifeng's eyes.
Fearful, icy, and disgusted.
In an instant, she felt all the blood in her body drained away, and the cold winter wind swept into her body, making her limbs and bones cold and powerless.
She knew that this time, she was completely finished.
The author has something to say:
Gu Miao: I don't want her to know, I don't want her to be unhappy, because I know how painful it is to be bullied.
Translations during sleepless nights. I can sleep when I'm dead! ...Please let me sleep. Happy readers keep me awake, and lots of love and a huge thank you for supporting my hobby!
Give me feedback at moc.ebircssutol@ypeels.