Ji Anning had called the parents of the students she was tutoring to communicate effectively. Because she was a reliable and dedicated girl, when she recommended Meng Xinyu, the mothers of the children readily accepted with phrases like, “Alright, we trust the person you recommended. Let her come over directly on the weekend,” happily agreeing.
As for the cafeteria job, Wen Yu told her not to worry about it and that he would directly inform the logistics director.
“Don’t feel burdened,” Wen Yu said. “The slots were already limited, and by not taking it, you’re giving others a chance.”
Ji Anning realized that was indeed the case. Getting that position was also due to Wen Yu’s connections.
“Ma-ge told me that after this season is over, once I have regular customers, he’ll help me raise the prices. The workload at Firewing is quite stable,” Ji Anning calculated in her mind and then happily said, “If I can maintain this, I might not need to apply for a scholarship next semester!”
Her joyful mood was almost overflowing.
Wen Yu chuckled and said, “Scholarship or not, can you get a merit-based scholarship?”
Ji Anning took a deep breath, held it, and then clenched her fist, saying, “I’ll give it a try!”
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A doctor’s diagnosis wouldn’t deceive. Ji Anning personally handled everything related to her grandmother, and she was well aware of every detail of her grandmother’s medical visits. The condition her grandmother was diagnosed with today was even more severe than it would have been at a later time.
She remained in a daze until she returned home, her heart in disarray.
After school hours, Wen Yu called to inquire about her grandmother’s condition.
“Let’s start with traction and see how it goes. No need for surgery yet,” Ji Anning said.
Wen Yu offered her a few words of comfort.
She didn’t say much, just a few simple sentences before ending the call.
The fiery feeling that burned in her heart was something she couldn’t share with anyone, not even Wen Yu!
In this life, everything was getting better. Why was it only her grandmother’s condition deteriorating?
Ever since her grandmother’s kidney stones had progressed faster than in her previous life, Ji Anning had harbored a subtle fear. This time, she couldn’t deceive herself anymore—her grandmother’s body was genuinely aging and deteriorating at a faster rate than in her previous life.
Why was this happening? Could it be due to her reincarnation?
Wen Yu quickly noticed the heavy weight on Ji Anning’s mind, and he asked her, “How’s the traction going?”
Ji Anning replied, “It’s alright.”
“I’ll accompany you,” Wen Yu requested again.
“No need,” Ji Anning said, “It’s a community hospital, and everyone there is like uncles and aunties. They all know each other, and if you go, they’ll surround you and ask about everything, gossip and all.”
Wen Yu sighed, “Fine.”
He gazed intently, focusing on Ji Anning.
Ji Anning looked up, slightly taken aback. “What’s wrong?”
Wen Yu asked, “Is something not going well?”
Wen Yu had long noticed the faint sorrow that lingered between Ji Anning’s eyebrows. It had been there since Thursday, after she took her grandmother to the hospital.
“Don’t worry,” he smoothed her furrowed brow with his thumb, “If it comes to surgery, it’s no big deal. Nowadays, surgeries are minimally invasive, unlike in the past when they were more taxing on the body. Medical techniques have improved, and this isn’t a particularly difficult ailment to treat. Don’t keep worrying so much.”
He was sincerely trying to console her. Ji Anning breathed out a sigh of relief and murmured an “Okay.”
She stayed silent for a moment and then suddenly asked, “About that temple you mentioned earlier, is the incense really effective?”
Wen Yu chuckled, “Do you believe in Gods and Buddhas now??”
Ji Anning fell silent, not saying a word.
Rebirth was already a phenomenon beyond scientific explanation.
What was causing her even more apprehension now was the subtle feeling that she, in her reborn state, seemed to be continuously drawing on her grandmother’s life force.
It seemed like that was the only way to explain it.
The principle of balance in nature – for every loss, there’s a gain. A life that was supposed to have faded away was given another chance, so where was this extra lifeforce coming from? Naturally, it needed to be drawn from somewhere else to maintain equilibrium.
The total energy of the universe remains constant.
Wen Yu was very tempted to take Ji Anning to Nanzhao Temple. Since Nanzhao Temple was a bit far away, they usually couldn’t make it back in a day and would have to stay overnight.
His intentions were quite transparent.
However, it was precisely because of this that Ji Anning couldn’t go. Going to Nanzhao Temple was something she was destined not to do.
Furthermore, as long as her grandmother was with her, she was bound by these ties, unable to be as carefree and free-spirited as other people, traveling and going on impromptu trips.
This was a matter that greatly vexed Young Master Wen.
This was something he would have to resolve sooner or later – Wen Yu silently made up his mind.
December brought the first snowfall, marking the beginning of winter.
Ji Anning had already switched to a thick down jacket to keep warm. After class, everyone huddled their necks into their scarves and headed towards the cafeteria.
Outside the cafeteria, a few stalls were set up on the open space, distributing flyers for some kind of event.
“Hey, wait a second, let me go take a look!” Bai Lu left the group and hurried over.
“It’s freezing! Hurry up!” Meng Xinyu shouted, “Or else we’re going in first!”
After shouting, she took a few steps forward and suddenly exclaimed, “Yu Xia!”
Ji Anning had been walking with her neck hunched against the cold, but when she heard the name “Yu Xia,” it exploded in her ears, causing her to suddenly lift her head!
At the promotional booth, a petite girl turned her head at the sound of her name and smiled, “Xinyu!”
Casually rolling up a flyer into a tube, she held it in her hand and walked briskly towards Meng Xinyu, who also took a step forward to meet her.
This left Ji Anning several steps behind as they continued their exchange.
After exchanging a few words with Yuxia, Meng Xinyu turned and noticed that Ji Anning was still lagging behind.
“Anning—” She greeted Ji Anning and introduced, “This is my fellow villager, Yu Xia. Yu Xia, this is Ji Anning.”
“Hello, I’ve heard Xinyu mention you quite a few times,” Yuxia greeted with a friendly smile, looking completely harmless.
She was petite and couldn’t be considered stunningly beautiful, but she was very skilled at dressing up. Colored contacts, dyed hair, makeup, and fashionable clothes lifted her ordinary appearance a couple of notches.
However, she wasn’t as outstanding in appearance as Ji Anning or Sun Yaxian. When it came to dressing up, she followed a cute route. She looked like an approachable girl next door.
No matter how you looked at it, she didn’t seem like someone who would drug a fellow female student and push her into a pit of fire.
“Hello,” Ji Anning walked over, maintaining her distance and nodded indifferently.
Her attitude towards Yu Xia seemed somewhat chilly compared to how she treated others. Meng Xinyu thought it might be due to the cold weather and didn’t pay much attention, simply saying, “It’s freezing, let’s go eat. Bai Lu! Bai Lu! Hurry up!”
Bai Lu came running over with a handful of flyers, and they all went into the cafeteria together to have their meals. Bai Lu and Ji Anning went to find Chen Hao and Wen Yu together, while Meng Xinyu caught up with her old friend.
During lunch, Yu Xia remarked, “Your classmate seems a bit arrogant.”
“Not really,” Meng Xinyu was slightly surprised. After a moment’s thought, she said, “When I first started school, I also thought she seemed a bit arrogant. But after getting to know her, I found her to be quite gentle. And she’s especially independent.”
Yu Xia had heard of Ji Anning from Xinyu several times. Whenever Ji Anning was mentioned, Xinyu always praised her.
Ji Anning liked Meng Xinyu for her straightforwardness, honesty, and kind nature, along with her good grades. Similarly, Meng Xinyu admired Ji Anning for her independence, determination, her own ideas, resilience, and not being swayed by external factors. When chatting with Yu Xia, they naturally only had compliments to give.
In Yu Xia’s mind, she thought they were all overly positive remarks.
She asked, “How much does she earn from her modeling job now?”
“Quite a lot,” Meng Xinyu answered with a touch of envy, “She’s making quite a bit. She quit all her other jobs, doesn’t do tutoring anymore, and focuses solely on being a fashion model. I heard she even signed a contract with a photography studio. The studio arranges jobs for her, so her income is guaranteed.”
Yu Xia couldn’t conceal her admiration in her eyes.
“Hey, can you ask her if I can do it?” Yu Xia actively pursued the opportunity.
“Well… can ordinary people even do it?” Meng Xinyu hesitated for a moment and said.
“But they say the height requirements aren’t that strict, right?” Yu Xia was very eager when it came to making money. She pleaded, “Could you just ask her for me?”
Meng Xinyu couldn’t really refuse and agreed, “Okay then…”
Helping out with this question wasn’t a big deal. Meng Xinyu had actually exchanged experiences with Ji Anning about finding tutoring jobs, and Ji Anning even referred some of her clients to her.
Meng Xinyu mainly felt that being a model… Yu Xia probably wouldn’t be able to handle it.
But she also didn’t want to directly discourage her.
Meanwhile, Bai Lu and Ji Anning were also having their meal.
“What are you looking at?” Chen Hao asked.
“Ugh, I thought it was about getting a credit card.” Bai Lu threw the pamphlet on the table and said disappointedly.
“Isn’t it about credit cards? I think I saw something about loans?” Chen Hao picked up the flyer casually.
“It’s about loans, but not credit cards. It’s specialized student loans. Sigh, I wanted to get a credit card with a higher credit limit. What’s the use of a student credit card?” Bai Lu complained.
Wen Yu also glanced at the flyer and saw phrases like “LoanX Treasure,” “StudentX Loan,” and “Top SchoolX.”
“Hey? This seems pretty good,” Chen Hao examined it closely and said, “The loan threshold is quite low. They’re all small amounts, perfect for students.”
Wen Yu took a second look and commented, “The credit limit is small, but the interest rate isn’t low.”
He wasn’t interested in this topic and casually finished his comment. Then he turned and noticed that Ji Anning was looking in a certain direction. He asked, “Who are you looking at?”
He also looked over but didn’t see anyone particularly noteworthy.
“Xinyu is over there,” Ji Anning said, “with her fellow villager.”
Wen Yu casually replied, “Oh,” and asked how she had her weekend work planned. He wanted to take her somewhere for dinner, a little date.
Bai Lu heard this and playfully raised her eyelids, giving a glance at her boyfriend. Chen Hao remained indifferent, not paying any attention to what Wen Yu was saying at all.
Bai Lu felt a bit envious but also knew that wherever Wen Yu would specially take Ji Anning to would be great and probably expensive. It wouldn’t be a place Chen Hao could afford, which left her feeling a bit disappointed.
At this moment, they didn’t yet know that the casually placed flyers on the table were a sign that campus loans had quietly entered the school. In the following years of 2014 and 2015, they would experience explosive growth, presenting a situation where various options were available. However, in 2016, due to several incidents involving social media lending, they became the subject of heated discussion, exposing the chaotic situation of scams. They were swiftly regulated by the government, leading to their decline.
Ji Anning wasn’t concerned about the pamphlets on the table. Her dark eyes occasionally lifted to scan the distance.
She saw Yu Xia and Meng Xinyu talking and laughing.
Yu Xia appeared gentle, quiet, and cute, making people feel at ease approaching her.
Sansukini: Yea, don’t take out loans unless it’s a last resort. We’ll learn a hard lesson later.
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