Time at the music annex was dull and long.
By the time the entrance exams were over, the ground was already covered in yellow leaves. But as she left the exam room, Cheng Chu felt calm.
Her skills were already top-notch, even among the talented students at the music annex.
Ji Mingyue did well on the exam too, and she smiled as she linked arms with Cheng Chu and they got into a car.
"Where to?" the driver asked.
"Take her home first," Cheng Chu said, "I need to go back and pack up my things. I have to move out of the house next to the music annex."
Ji Mingyue nodded, but reluctantly said, "Do you want me to come with you?"
"No need," Cheng Chu replied, "Uncle Wang will come help me."
The taxi sped onto the highway, and soon they arrived at Ji Mingyue's house.
"Chuchu," she turned around, her almond eyes shining, "Happy New Year."
The harsh winter had arrived, and the trees by the roadside had long shed their leaves, leaving a desolate and cold scene.
Today was December 31st, and Cheng Chu had almost forgotten. She sat in the car and leaned out to wave to Ji Mingyue beside her, "Mingyue, Happy New Year!"
"Where to next, young lady?" the driver asked.
Cheng Chu looked at Ji Mingyue's back and whispered, "To the music annex."
As the sky gradually darkened, pedestrians on the roadside hurriedly made their way home.
Cheng Chu didn't have much in the house she rented near the high school, but by the time she finished tidying up, it was already pitch black outside.
Uncle Wang carried large and small bags in front of them and said, "Miss, what would you like to eat tonight? I'll have them prepare it at home."
Cheng Chu lowered her eyes, feeling a bit melancholy. As she looked at the greetings from her family on her phone, her heart felt sour. They were all so busy, and even during the holidays, it was difficult for them to gather together for a meal.
"I don't feel like eating," she said in a muffled voice, speaking out of frustration.
Uncle Wang sighed. "How can you not eat?"
Cheng Chu said, "Can you take me to Yuqing Lane? I want to visit a friend."
Uncle Wang furrowed his brow. "That place is not safe, it's very chaotic."
"It's okay, I'm just going to see someone, I won't stay long," Cheng Chu persuaded. "How about you wait for us at the entrance, and then take us to the mall?"
Only then did he reluctantly agree.
The winter in the city was desolate and bleak. Several birds stood on the withered branches by the roadside, emitting long and mournful cries.
At the entrance of Yucqing Lane, there was a pile of sewage and many tube-shaped buildings on both sides. The gray-white walls were covered with small advertisements, and the cries of children occasionally echoed from inside the buildings, creating a depressing atmosphere.
After crossing the sewage, Cheng Chu finally found Gu Miao's home by following the dim light.
The winter wind was cold and biting, and the cramped room was dimly lit.
Gu Miao was concentrating on his homework when suddenly his phone vibrated, and a message from Cheng Chu popped up: "Are you free? I'm downstairs at your building."
His fingers stiffened, and his pupils contracted in the darkness.
The howling wind outside the window made a dull sound.
Gu Miao stood up abruptly, knocking over his chair with a violent movement.
He opened the window and looked out in disbelief.
The winter wind was bone-chilling in the small alley, and the dim streetlights cast a yellow glow. A girl wearing a snow-white down jacket looked up with a smile on her face.
In the distance, countless fireworks bloomed, illuminating the dark and gloomy sky. The girl's eyes, filled with joy, fell into the dazzling fireworks.
She stood gracefully in the old and dark alley, but her smile was radiant.
Suddenly, warmth filled Gu Miao's eyes. He rushed out of the door and ran downstairs without hesitation.
"Gu Miao." The girl ran a few steps forward, her voice light and bright like a beacon illuminating the surrounding darkness.
She lowered her gaze, her butterfly-like eyelashes trembling slightly, exuding a charming and alluring beauty.
"I'm back." Her gentle voice drifted into Gu Miao's cold heart.
He felt a dryness in his throat and a burning passion in his almost exploding heart.
The surroundings were quiet, with water slowly dripping from the eaves.
Gu Miao lowered his gaze and looked at the beautiful girl in front of him. She was clean and bright, radiating light from head to toe. She was the kind of girl who would never appear in such a dirty place, but she came without a word.
With the light and warmth that this winter night lacked, she forcefully broke into his heart. The warmth in his eyes had not yet dissipated, despite how his hands were freezing cold.
His voice trembled, "Did you finish the exam?"
"Yes, I did well. Haiyin should be no problem," the girl said with a smile.
Gu Miao looked at her smiling eyes and felt at peace in his heart. "When will you go back to No. 1?"
"After this New Year's holiday, I won't leave again." On a cold and silent winter night, his heart felt as if it had been lifted to the clouds. After a while, his frozen lips finally curved into a smile.
"Why are you dressed so lightly? Have you eaten yet?" asked Cheng Chu.
The boy shook his head. Today, his aunt and uncle took his cousin back to their hometown for the New Year, but they didn't take him along.
"Would you like to come eat with me then?" Gu Miao suddenly asked.
Without hesitation, Gu Miao nodded eagerly. "I'll go change my clothes first, wait for me," he said.
The hallway was narrow, barely enough for one person to pass through at a time. Gu Miao walked ahead, his steps awkward.
Half of the walls were peeling, and the motion-sensor lights in the hallway flickered on and off, as if they had been broken for a long time.
He couldn't help but feel that a girl like her shouldn't be here. Even just looking around felt like a desecration.
With her bright and shining eyes, the girl looked at him and asked if she could come over to his place. He surrendered almost immediately, as he had no boundaries when it came to her requests.
The cement floor in the hallway made a slight noise as they walked. Soon, they arrived at Gu Miao's third-floor apartment.
He poured hot water for Cheng Chu and brought her a chair, saying, "I'll be quick, just wait for me."
The warmth in his hands spread to her heart, and Cheng Chu obediently nodded, looking around the small living room.
There was hardly any space to stand, and the TV was old and small, with deep scratches on the screen. The floor was the same cement as the hallway, dusty and making a loud noise when walked upon. The only warm place in the whole house was perhaps the family photo on the coffee table, where three people snuggled together, smiling brightly.
But this warmth did not belong to Gu Miao.
Cheng Chu lowered her eyes, sniffled, and covered the bitterness in her eyes.
She thought of the young man in the family photo she met at the hospital a long time ago, who looked so arrogant and proud. Tears welled up in her eyes.
The door beside them opened, and Gu Miao walked out.
He was wearing a black down jacket, but it didn't look bulky. Instead, it highlighted his tall and straight figure.
"Let's go," he said.
Finally, he had a thick coat. Cheng Chu wiped her eyes and quickly stood up to follow him.
"What do you want to eat?" Her voice still choked with emotion.
Gu Miao's hand holding the shoes stiffened, and he turned to ask, "What's wrong with you?"
"It's nothing," she smiled to cover up, "just a little cold, my nose is running."
The young man frowned, "Wait for me for a moment."
He turned and went back to the room, and after a moment, he came out with a black scarf in his hand.
The light in the house was dim, but the young man's cool expression revealed a hint of warmth.
He walked over and carefully wrapped the scarf around the girl's cold, white neck.
"Is it still cold like this?" he lowered his dark eyes and asked.
The young man's magnetic and deep voice drifted into Cheng Chu's ears, like a small hook with fluff, hooking her heart with a tingling sensation.
She lowered her head and buried half of her cheek in the scarf, whispering, "Not cold anymore."
The clean soap scent on the young man's body penetrated her nostrils, as if she was tightly pressed against him. A blush crept up on Cheng Chu's face and she lowered her head to hide the emotions welling up inside her.
"Let's go, let's go," she said, trying to conceal her feelings.
The full moon hung high in the sky, casting a bright light into the hallway and bringing a glimmer of hope to the gloomy world.
"How about we go eat hotpot later?" Cheng Chu asked.
Gu Miao naturally had no objections.
As they got into the car, Uncle Wang glanced at them through the rearview mirror.
The young man had a very handsome appearance, looking cold and aloof, but his eyes softened when he looked at his young miss.
Dressed in black and white, anyone could tell they were a couple.
Wang Shu understood and knew that young people in love were nothing to be concerned about. He wouldn't tell the master and madam.
The black Bentley drove through the quiet streets and finally stopped at the mall.
Cheng Chu and Gu Miao took the escalator up to the second floor.
The hot pot restaurant was already packed with people. The waiter noticed the new customers and reminded them, "Do you have a reservation? If not, we're already at 100 tables."
"How long do we have to wait?" Cheng Chu asked.
"At least three hours," the waiter replied, busy with his work.
Cheng Chu looked at Gu Miao with a dilemma. "Should we go eat somewhere else?"
Gu Miao looked at the disappointed girl and whispered, "If you really want to eat here, let's come back during a regular time."
The two walked side by side to the nearby elevator. Cheng Chu looked at the mall directory and searched for other delicious options on different floors.
This was a diversified mall, with both high-end restaurants that cost four figures per person and affordable restaurants that only cost two figures for a meal.
"Let's go up to the fourth floor and take a look," Cheng Chu pressed the elevator button. "I think there's a hotpot restaurant there, let's go check it out."
Gu Miao always followed her lead.
The lights in the mall were bright and clean, and even the elevator entrance had a pleasant fragrance.
The elevator "dinged" and opened, and there were already people inside.
"Hey, isn't this my little sister Chu?" The man in the elevator was wearing casual clothes and had his hands in his pockets.
Cheng Chu finally recognized the person. She waved her hand, "Brother Qingyuan, are you here to eat too?"
Yu Qingyuan was her brother's college classmate, and the two rich second-generation men had similar interests and a very good relationship.
"Yeah, I brought my girlfriend to eat," Yu Qingyuan raised his eyebrows and looked at Gu Miao next to Cheng Chu, teasingly asking, "And you, are you here to eat with your friend too?"
The use of "too" was quite clever.
Cheng Chu didn't respond, only saying, "We're going to the fourth floor to eat hotpot."
"Don't go there, come to my new restaurant on the fifth floor, I'll treat you for free," Yu Qingyuan said generously, waving his hand.
Cheng Chu naturally agreed happily. Yu Qingyuan's restaurant was on the fifth floor, where the most high-end stores in the entire mall were located.
He must have reserved the entire place, as there wasn't a single customer when they walked into the antique-looking restaurant. The servers stood in two rows, respectfully bowing with a slight bend at the waist.
"Good evening, Mr. Yu," they said.
He waved his hand slightly, and the manager approached him with utmost respect. "Mr. Yu, may I ask what your orders are?"
"This is my sister. Find the best private room for her, and whatever she eats will be charged to my account," he said.
"Very well, Mr. Yu," the manager replied. He turned his head and showed a respectful attitude towards Cheng Chu, "Hello, please follow me."
The decoration of this hot pot restaurant was very elegant, with a small bridge and flowing water in the lobby. The two walked over the exquisite bridge before entering the room.
The private room was very spacious, and as soon as they sat down, someone placed the menu in front of them.
Gu Miao's fingers stiffened, and the soft chair beneath him made him feel uneasy.
He had never been to such a high-end restaurant before, with its ornate decorations and even the chopsticks on the table seemed to be carefully crafted.
Even a simple soup base on the menu could cost him a week's salary.
"What do you want to eat?" The girl asked while flipping through the menu and looking up.
The boy's throat was dry, and his voice was hoarse, "Anything, you can order."
"Hmm, I don't think you can handle spicy food, so let's order the split pot with clear soup base and this collagen, caterpillar fungus, and old duck soup..."
The light in the private room was soft and gentle, like moonlight falling lightly.
Gu Miao looked up and saw the girl in front of him smiling lightly, effortlessly ordering dishes he had never even heard of. A sour feeling rose in his heart, and his throat felt dry and uncomfortable.
"Okay, that's all. Thank you," Cheng Chu finished ordering and handed the menu to the waiter.
She was beautiful, and her small dimples on her cheeks when she smiled softened her otherwise striking features, making her even more approachable.
The waiter's face turned red in an unprofessional manner, and he quickly bowed and hurried out of the private room.
It was only after Cheng Chu finished ordering that she noticed something was off with the young man. As she thought about it, she understood the reason.
It turned out that even the future Chief Gu would feel uneasy about such things.
Cheng Chu felt a little uncomfortable, but didn't know how to comfort him.
She had to change the subject: "Gu Miao, do you think it will snow this year?"
The topic change was very abrupt.
The young man suppressed the bitterness in his heart and replied, "I don't know."
"I haven't seen snow yet. I heard that it snows in Pingcheng in November. After graduation, let's go see the snow together, okay?"
Gu Miao's heart trembled.
He didn't expect that his unintentional words would be remembered by the girl, and that she even knew where his hometown was.
She was like a distant fire on a winter night, even if he looked at her from afar, it made him feel warm inside.
There were a few delicate candlesticks on the windowsill in the private room, and the candlelight flickered, casting a few clear shadows on the wall.
Gu Miao looked up and met those mesmerizing peach blossom eyes.
In the distance, the candlelight somehow made his cheeks feel warm.
"Mmm," he murmured softly.
The hotpot was truly delicious, and Yu Qingyuan couldn't stop praising the restaurant.
As they left after finishing their meal, the staff even gave them a small gift - two delicate water and bridge ornaments.
Outside the private room, there were scattered little lanterns hanging on the wall. Cheng Chu couldn't help but approach and take a closer look.
"This was a little activity we did before in the restaurant. Everyone can write their wishes for the new year and put them in the lanterns, praying for their dreams to come true in the coming year," the staff explained.
Curious, Cheng Chu asked, "Can we still write now?"
The staff smiled and said, "Of course you can."
Even if they couldn't, they had to be able to - after all, she was the boss's so-called little sister.
Soon, someone handed over paper and a pen. Cheng Chu turned around and whispered, "Write your own, no peeking."
The nearby shop assistant chuckled, "Yeah, if someone sees it, it won't come true."
Gu Miao watched her huddled figure and couldn't help but laugh.
His fingers absentmindedly rubbed the blank paper, hesitating for a moment before finally writing down his true feelings.
"I hope to always be with her."
The young man's handwriting was as clear and elegant as he was, yet each stroke was full of strength.
Two small lanterns hung tightly together in the center.
As they walked out of the mall, the scattered lights along the road illuminated the beautiful night scene.
The gentle night breeze blew as Cheng Chu walked ahead, hands in her pockets, bouncing and skipping.
After only a few steps, she couldn't resist and turned back curiously, asking, "What wish did you just write?"
The boy never refused any of her requests, and Cheng Chu was convinced that he would tell her.
In the distance, the lights of tall buildings flickered.
The boy's dark eyes fell on the dazzling lights, reflecting her bright figure.
He tightly pursed his lips and stubbornly shook his head in response to her pleading eyes.
He couldn't say it, because if he did, it wouldn't come true.
The author has something to say:
Gu Miao: I had to refuse her, because if the wish didn't come true, it would be too scary.
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.