The place where she lived was just a street away from the school, very close. After hanging up Wen Yu’s call, Ji Anning rushed to the school’s computer room to go online. She carefully searched and looked into the photography studio called “Fire Wing.” It seemed quite good, with some regular business partnerships.
Their reputation was decent as well. She logged into the computer and asked in the group on WeChat. There were actually some girls who had worked with the studio before in the group. They said, “It’s pretty good, quite strict, but also nice; there are no unprofessional people.”
Overall, it seemed to be stronger than Du Qing’s studio. Ji Anning was looking forward to it.
On Wednesday, their class teacher came to the classroom to announce a slight adjustment to the schedule for the second half of the semester. The Thursday afternoon class had been moved to the first two periods on Friday morning. This meant no classes on Thursday afternoons, but they had a full morning of classes on Friday.
Ji Anning sketched it in her notebook, realizing she also needed to adjust her schedule with the cafeteria.
Just as she was contemplating this, on Wednesday night, the “Fire Wing” photography studio suddenly called her, asking if she could come over for a shoot on Thursday afternoon.
It was almost as if they had eyes in the school and knew that she had no class on Thursday afternoons.
Of course, Ji Anning readily agreed. During lunch on Thursday, she even told Wen Yu, “Seems like you really boosted my luck, huh?”
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The school area, in terms of size, wasn’t huge, but it wasn’t small either.
If one wanted to confront someone, they could easily do it every day. But if one was indifferent, they might not see each other for a week or two. And more often, they might just pass by each other in the crowd without noticing.
In her previous life, Ji Anning never paid attention to Zhao Chen until Wen Yu suddenly disappeared from the school. In this life, she paid close attention and realized that she still occasionally saw Zhao Chen around the school, though not too frequently.
In her previous life, Ji Anning knew that Zhao Chen often skipped classes. It seemed like he didn’t actually live on campus, and it was common for him to be absent for a day or two. Ji Anning wondered how someone like him managed to avoid failing any subjects during finals.
Perhaps money can make the devil turn the mill?
Wen Yu remained composed, continuing to eat his meal. After a while, he pretended to look in another direction and suddenly said, “Hmm? Isn’t that Zhao Chen over there?”
Most people would instinctively turn to look. Ji Anning, however, turned her face in the opposite direction and just replied with an “Oh.”
This reaction… She was indeed avoiding Zhao Chen.
“Who’s that?” Bai Lu happened to hear and asked casually.
“That guy.” Chen Hao pointed in his direction and then warned her, “Stay away from him.”
Bai Lu was curious, “What’s wrong with him?”
Wen Yu was a bit surprised, “You know him too?”
Chen Hao nodded, “Last year’s incident… that girl is from my hometown.”
Bai Lu was puzzled, asking repeatedly, “What happened exactly?”
Chen Hao teased her, “A strong woman!”
Bai Lu was shocked, “On campus?”
“Attempted assault,” Chen Hao finally revealed the rest, “My hometown friend is tough; she didn’t let him succeed. She reported it to the police, but they eventually settled it privately. The school also got involved in mediation, changed the girl’s major, and that guy dropped out. He’s starting his second year this semester.”
Bai Lu was quite taken aback.
At just eighteen years old, having just entered university, it was really hard to imagine a fellow student being a “bad person.” At this age, for the majority of students, campus was seen as a safe and clean place, and bad people were outside the school.
“Why didn’t the school expel him? How can they let someone like that continue studying here?” She asked with some intensity.
Wen Yu had been observing Ji Anning’s face all this time. He noticed that while Chen Hao and Bai Lu were talking, she never once looked up, and her expression remained as calm as water.
Chen Hao continued, “His family is wealthy. Otherwise, what do you think? He didn’t even enter through the regular college entrance exam; his grades are terrible. I heard he got in through some special quota, probably just aiming to get a degree.”
Bai Lu was still frustrated, but Ji Anning had finished her meal. She told everyone, “Take your time to eat; I’ll leave first.”
Wen Yu said, “I’ll walk with you.”
Ji Anning held him back, “You have classes in the afternoon. I’ll go by myself; there’s a car going there, and it won’t be congested around noon.”
Wen Yu said, “Take care on the way.”
Ji Anning agreed.
With Ji Anning gone, Wen Yu no longer paid attention to Chen Hao and Bai Lu, who were showing affection towards each other. These two quickly entered the honeymoon phase and were even feeding each other in the cafeteria now. They often made Ji Anning and Wen Yu cringe.
After saying goodbye to Chen Hao and his group, Wen Yu also stood up and left.
Walking through the corridor, he couldn’t help but glance at Zhao Chen.
“I won’t tell you,” she said, “I’ve forgiven him.”
Could that person she referred to be Zhao Chen?
Would it be worth forgiving this idiot…?
No, Wen Yu felt a bit confused. He had some impression of Zhao Chen’s family. How could he remember that Zhao Chen, like him, came from the provincial capital?
Wen Yu stood at the cafeteria entrance, watching Ji Anning’s retreating figure.
That person she wouldn’t tell him about remained in his heart, causing an indescribable discomfort.2She’s talking about you, the person she forgave.
Things went smoothly at Fire Wing.
The photographers were nice people, and there was someone who was presumably the owner watching them seriously. They all seemed to take their work very seriously.
Ji Anning had improved a lot compared to before.
Not only did she heed the advice of the group members and buy secure undergarments that wouldn’t expose her, but she also learned many tips for changing clothes quickly. Her movements were faster now, and her efficiency had greatly improved.
The staff at the photography studio were all friendly, but she couldn’t fathom why the photographer and the owner were particularly serious and vigilant, as if they were facing a formidable enemy. It was just a minor job with a small workload, and she was just a model that another model had replaced.
Seeing them like this, Ji Anning, who was already serious about her work, became even more cautious and focused, striving for perfection.
However, Ji Anning was still taken aback.
After a shoot, the “owner” let out a big sigh of relief and approached her with a smile on his face. The photographer also praised her enthusiastically, waving his camera in the air. Both of them showered her with excessive flattery, and then enthusiastically, even urgently… asked Ji Anning to sign a contract!
Ji Anning: “…”
Unfortunately, due to her various experiences, Ji Anning had developed a strong sense of caution towards others.
Of course, she really wanted to sign a contract with a reliable photography studio and secure stable work. Fire Wing seemed quite decent in various aspects, but… their overenthusiasm was just too unreliable.
Always making people feel like there’s some conspiracy behind it.
Ji Anning was feeling uneasy.
She adopted the same strategy as with Du Qing – she requested a contract and said she would consider it carefully.
Whether it was an illusion or not, she felt like the photographer and the owner seemed disappointed and were muttering, looking like they had let a “cooked duck fly away.”
Unaware of this, Ji Anning left, and the photographer and the owner immediately began blaming each other.
“Damn, you were smiling so weirdly just now, you scared the poor girl!”
“Bullshit, you’re the one who said those things. What the hell, you sounded like a human trafficker! If I were a girl, I wouldn’t sign with you either!”
“Stop arguing, stop arguing. Let’s do better next time.”
“Yeah, yeah. The big boss said that if we sign her within a month, we’ll get that special bonus!”
Both of them were getting ready for the next round.
After leaving Fire Wing, Ji Anning went straight to the coffee shop and told Shu Chen, “It was a bit intimidating.”
Shu Chen was a bit concerned, “Could they be scammers?”
“Probably not,” Ji Anning hesitated, “It just felt pretty legitimate, but… those two people…”
Their eyes were practically glowing green! It was scary!
Shu Chen said, “Let me take a look at the contract.”
The contract was actually quite simple – just two sheets of A4 paper. After all, it was just a photography studio, not a big corporation.
“Oh, it seems alright?” Shu Chen quickly scanned it and pointed at the contract as he read, “No nude or explicit shots, including but not limited to suggestive poses, covering up… hmm, models can file a lawsuit or apply for arbitration if the studio breaches the contract. And this compensation… oh, it’s quite high?”
“Yeah, I thought it looked good too,” Ji Anning was also conflicted.
Even the contracts at Du Qing’s photography studio weren’t written out so clearly.
“So, which studio are you thinking of signing with?” Shu Chen asked.
“I haven’t decided yet,” Ji Anning said, “But I’m leaning towards rejecting the previous one.”
Shu Chen chuckled knowingly and supported the conversation by saying, “Exactly, take your time to look around. The first one you encounter isn’t always the best; the good ones are often behind.”
In the evening, Ji Anning still called Du Qing to express her refusal.
Du Qing was easygoing and didn’t dwell on it.
Ji Anning called Wen Yu about the matter, and of course, he praised her choice. Ji Anning found it amusing and a bit exasperating, “What do you mean the right choice? You just don’t want me to get too close to Du Qing.”
“Of course,” Wen Yu said, “Look at the way he is. He’s clearly a playboy. Let me tell you, these artistic types are experts at deceiving young girls.”
After exchanging a few teasing remarks, Wen Yu hung up the call and switched back to the previous one he had kept on hold. He sounded particularly annoyed, “Damn it, do you know what my girlfriend just said about you? She said your eyes were glowing green! It was really scary. ‘Dude, can you at least control yourself? With that reaction, you’re not cut out to be a good actor!'”
The person on the other end of the line was internally cursing and laughing at the same time. He wasn’t even an actor to begin with!
He was, in fact, the “owner” of Fire Wing that Ji Anning had met earlier in the afternoon. He had been the owner once, but a few days ago, Fire Wing changed hands, and he had taken a cash payout. Now he continued to work at the photography studio under Wen Yu.
Although he had been reprimanded by a young guy in his twenties that afternoon, the owner remained unfazed.
After all, they were all hustling in society. For the sake of putting food on the table, money was king, especially when this “king” was actually wealthy!
The owner made a firm declaration, “Next time, we must sign her! We won’t let her slip away again!”
He slapped the table, making a loud sound. Wen Yu could hear it on his end of the call.