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Chapter 38

At noon, when school was over, Wen Qianxia immediately grabbed Ji Ran and walked outside the school. She smiled and said, “Today, I’ll treat you to pasta at Sky Realm.”

Ji Ran looked at her and smiled. “Did you find some money?”

Wen Qianxia came from a comfortable family. The monthly allowance her parents gave her was similar to that of an ordinary high school student. Eating at roadside stalls was sufficient, but going to Sky Realm for a meal was a bit insufficient.

Wen Qianxia whispered, “No, it’s just that today is my birthday.”

Ji Ran blinked and immediately said, “Why didn’t you tell me earlier? I didn’t even prepare a gift for you.”

“It’s just a little birthday; having a meal together is enough,” Wen Qianxia said with a smile.

So, the two of them walked towards Sky Realm together. It wasn’t too far from 4th Middle School, and they could get there in a few minutes. Because it was noon, there weren’t too many people here for entertainment.

Occasionally, people wearing 4th Middle School uniforms sneaked into the nearby internet cafe.

Wen Qianxia glanced over and whispered, “Really wealthy, daring to play in even this kind of internet cafe.”

The cost of the internet cafe at Sky Realm was several times higher than that of ordinary ones. Even office workers had to consider this before coming here, let alone ordinary students.

They reached the restaurant on the second floor, and Wen Qianxia looked at the freezer by the entrance. She asked in a low voice, “Do you want to have Häagen-Dazs?”

The last time, during Xu Yihang’s birthday, she ate four Häagen-Dazs scoops in one go, but it was all treated by Xia Jiangming. If it weren’t for her birthday today, she really wouldn’t have been able to afford such a luxury.

“I’ll treat you. How about that?” Ji Ran said softly.

Wen Qianxia immediately raised her eyebrows. “How can that be? How can I let you treat me on my birthday?”

Ji Ran smiled and said, “Consider it my birthday gift to you.”

In fact, she had decided in her heart to go shopping with Wen Qianxia on the weekend and pick a proper birthday gift for her. Now, she was just trying to please Wen Qianxia and get her to agree to have ice cream.

Wen Qianxia hesitated.

“Come on, eat.” Ji Ran couldn’t help but push her gently, speaking in a soft and gentle voice.

Wen Qianxia suddenly covered her chest and said, “Really, Ranran, don’t act cute so casually in the future, or I, as a girl, won’t be able to take it.”

Ji Ran’s voice was particularly sweet and soft—the kind that melted into the depths of one’s heart when she spoke.

Ji Ran was amused by her exaggerated reaction, but the two girls still unabashedly ordered four scoops of ice cream each.

Both of them ordered pasta, and after a while, they saw Shen Zhi and the others approaching.

“How come you two came here to eat today?” Xia Jiangming saw them and was pleasantly surprised, walking over directly.

Ji Ran’s peripheral vision caught sight of the boy coming from behind; she immediately pursed her lips, lowered her eyes, and looked at the menu on the table.

In the morning, he said that others were afraid of him, so she should sit with him all the time. Ji Ran felt that she must have been cursed to say that.

Why did she feel that Shen Zhi was so pitiful and in need of protection?

Ji Ran still couldn’t figure out this crazy idea.

Wen Qianxia whispered, “It’s my birthday today. Ranran, come over and have a meal.”

Xia Jiangming took the opportunity to sit next to Wen Qianxia and said, “Oh my, Miss Wen, you really don’t consider us friends. It’s your birthday, and you only invited Ji Ran to eat with you.”

Next to them, Xu Yihang laughed. “Yeah, we want to eat too.”

Chen Song has always been a man of few words. However, at this moment, he smiled and nodded towards the empty seat next to Ji Ran, saying, “Zhi-ge, we won’t compete for this seat with you.”

This statement made several boys around them laugh.

Even Wen Qianxia couldn’t help but glance at Ji Ran and Shen Zhi. Clearly, there were undercurrents between the two; it was impossible to hide.

However, the boy standing at the end took a few steps forward and, surprisingly, sat down next to Ji Ran in a straightforward manner. After sitting down, he turned his head to look at the girl beside him and said, “You don’t mind, do you?”

Laughter erupted again around them.

Ji Ran couldn’t help turning her head to look at him and said through gritted teeth, “If I say I mind, will you not sit here?”

“Are you going back on your word so soon after agreeing this morning?” Shen Zhi suddenly looked at her calmly and said,.

This statement was like scratching an itch, making everyone eager to find out what exactly had happened.

Ji Ran’s cheeks alternated between red and white. She… she only agreed to sit at the same table with him, but she didn’t agree to sit with him everywhere.

But in the end, everyone switched to another table.

Xia Jiangming said to the waiter again, “Do you have cakes here, right?”

The surprised waiter whispered, “If you need one, there’s a cake shop next door.”

“Okay, bring one for us,” Xia Jiangming said directly.

After confirming Wen Qianxia’s name, the waiter left.

Wen Qianxia didn’t expect Xia Jiangming to be so enthusiastic and said somewhat embarrassedly, “You’re spending money for me.”

“It’s fine. Later, you can help me with homework a few more times,” Xia Jiangming said with a smile.

Before, Xia Jiangming hadn’t finished his homework, and he arrived late, so he didn’t even have time to copy. Therefore, Wen Qianxia helped him copy several English papers. After all, all the letters were abcd, and the English teacher couldn’t possibly figure out whose handwriting it was.

Originally, Wen Qianxia’s girlish heart was throbbing.


When everyone was having dinner, the cake brought by the waiter also arrived. It was the kind of six-inch cake from the cake shop, freshly made and sold.

But even with such a cake, it was enough to make Wen Qianxia blush and look visibly moved.

Shen Zhi turned his head again and looked at the girl beside him.

His memories of birthdays weren’t many, and they weren’t particularly pleasant.

If there was one, the most memorable was the one spent with her.

Born as a child with an unknown father, such a child would face disdain from others from an early age. Moreover, his mother, Yuan Sheng, went from being an envied college student at a prestigious university to a madwoman, all in one night.

Yuan Sheng was beautiful and intelligent from a young age, the phoenix of the ordinary courtyard. Everyone knew that the daughter of the Yuan family wouldn’t stay in such a dilapidated place for a lifetime.

However, on the day Yuan Sheng entered university, many young men on that street had broken hearts.

Unexpectedly, when Yuan Sheng was in her fourth year of college, she suddenly returned, pregnant. After that, the phoenix of the Yuan family was worse than a fallen chicken. All the neighbors gossiped behind her back, accusing her of being immoral and shameless and mocking her for getting pregnant and being abandoned.

This was the environment in which Yuan Jing grew up. His grandparents were already old when he was born.

The couple, who had toiled their entire lives, aged ten years in one night after the shock of their unmarried daughter giving birth. Especially later, Yuan Sheng’s mental state deteriorated, and she even appeared to be somewhat deranged.

Even though Yuan Jing was more beautiful and intelligent than the average child, none of the kids on that street wanted to play with him.

Whenever he was mentioned, even kids his age looked down on him, calling him the bastard of the Yuan family.

For the sake of those three words, Yuan Jing didn’t know how many fights he had been in. He was tough, unafraid of pain. If several people ganged up on him, he fought back like a little wolf cub, trampling on anyone who mocked or insulted him.

Such a child wouldn’t have anyone deliberately celebrate his birthday.

Because from the moment he was born, he became the pillar of shame carved into his mother’s body. Although Yuan Sheng never thought of him that way, everyone regarded him as Yuan Sheng’s sin.

So even when he turned nine, he had never truly celebrated a birthday.

It was winter, and his grandmother’s old legs were getting worse. On weekends, he would help his grandmother sweep the floor. He was already accustomed to doing these things.

But since he met her, he began to look forward to weekends even more.

Because every weekend, he could see her at the Youth Palace.

From summer to winter, they always met at the Youth Palace. Every time Ji Ran finished class, she would come out to play with him and bring her own snacks for him.

Sometimes it was cold drinks; sometimes it was candy brought back from abroad.

On this day, Yuan Jing finished sweeping the floor as usual and stood quietly at the entrance of the Youth Palace, waiting. But when everyone else came out, she still didn’t appear.

A boy, unable to resist taunting him, said, “Are you still waiting for Ranran? Let me tell you, today is Ranran’s birthday, and we’re all going to her birthday party. You, the trash collector, don’t deserve to be there.”

It turned out today was her birthday, so she didn’t attend class.

The young boy lowered his head in silence.

At that time, he was just a nine-year-old child. How could he hide his true feelings? But his dejection only fueled the pride of the boys in the Sudoku class.

“I don’t know why Ranran always plays with him.”

“It looks like he’s pitiful.”

“But Ranran didn’t invite him to the birthday party. She doesn’t really care about him as a friend.”

The mocking voices echoed in Yuan Jing’s heart.

The next day, when he followed his grandmother to clean again, he was unwilling to go to the Youth Palace. Even his grandmother could see his resistance and asked softly, “Did you have a fight with little Ranran?”

The young boy pursed his lips and remained silent.

After finishing cleaning, he sat on the side of the road and started reading. His grades had always been at the top of the class, and due to his excellent performance, the school consistently waived his tuition.

However, his grandparents still needed to earn money to support him and take his mother to see a doctor.

Yuan Sheng’s condition fluctuated over the years.

When things were good, she would hold Yuan Jing, sing to him, and put him to sleep. But when things turned bad, she would resort to violence, the kind that showed no familial recognition.

While he was reading, suddenly a pair of small hands covered his eyes, followed by an intentionally deepened voice asking, “Guess who I am.”

The young boy’s heart instantly came alive, and even the book he held tightly in his hands fell to the ground.

But he remained silent, still tightly pursing his lips.

He had always been stubborn, unwilling to easily reveal his emotions, no matter how happy he felt inside. Because he knew the more he wanted something, the more others would want to destroy it.

When he was a child, he had a beloved ball toy, a gift from Yuan Sheng during her good times. But the kids on that street, seeing him always play with that ball, intentionally punctured it with something.

From then on, he understood that the more he liked something, the more he had to hide it in his heart. This way, no one would find out, and no one would secretly try to destroy it.

And he could keep on liking it.

Seeing that he didn’t speak, the girl behind him got annoyed. She pouted, then asked again, “If you can’t guess, I’ll leave.”

The girl also had a bit of a princessy temperament.

Her voice was sweet and soft, but it still carried a touch of stubbornness.

Finally, Yuan Jing spoke. He said, “It’s Ranran.”

“Yes, it’s me.” The girl let go of his eyes, crouched down beside him, and looked at him with bright, smiling eyes.

Suddenly, Yuan Jing remembered the words those kids said yesterday—that she had a birthday party but didn’t invite him.

Was she also avoiding him like everyone else…

“Wait a moment.” The girl said softly, then carefully took down the bag in her hand and brought out a small box. She opened the box, revealing a beautifully decorated cake inside.

The girl whispered, “Xiao Jing, it was my birthday yesterday. Look, I brought you a cake.”

Then she said, a bit discontentedly, “I told my mom before that I wanted to invite you to my birthday party. But my mom said we already invited people in advance this year and couldn’t add more. Xiao Jing, don’t be mad at me. I’ll definitely invite you to my birthday next year, okay?”

So she wanted to invite him to her birthday.

The young boy’s heart suddenly blossomed with joy. Even he didn’t know that this flower had been in full bloom in his heart and had never withered.

The girl held the cake in front of him with both hands and said softly, “Xiao Jing, try the cake. Is it good?”

This piece of cake was specially left behind by the family’s maid; she wanted Xiao Jing to taste her cake.

So, the young boy gently took the cake, used a small spoon to take a bite, and put it in his mouth. It was his first time eating cake, and he had never known that there could be something so soft and sweet in this world.

“Is it delicious?” Ji Ran looked at him with anticipation, as if afraid of hearing a negative word from his mouth.

It wasn’t until Yuan Jing nodded that she finally smiled. The next moment, Yuan Jing scooped up a spoonful of cake and gently handed it to her mouth.

“Ranran, you should try it too.”

At this point, the young boy and the little girl had not yet clearly differentiated, so Ji Ran took a small bite of the cake.

After the two of them shared the cake, Ji Ran suddenly asked, “Xiao Jing, when is your birthday?”

This seemed to touch a painful place for Yuan Jing.

He had a birthday, but no one celebrated it. It seemed like everyone had forgotten about his birthday.

In fact, his birthday was close to Ji Ran’s, only a month apart.

Seeing him not speaking, Ji Ran tilted her head and looked at him closely. “Xiao Jing, why aren’t you talking?”

So, Yuan Jing quietly mentioned his birthday. It was the first time he told someone about his birthday, because it was the first time someone had asked.

After thinking for a moment, Ji Ran softly said, “Isn’t it coming soon? I’ll prepare a birthday gift for you.”

Birthday gift…

Suddenly, Yuan Jing remembered an important thing he had forgotten. He hadn’t prepared a birthday gift for Ji Ran.

So, when he returned home that day, Yuan Jing took out his savings jar. It was a jar he had been saving for a long time. Originally, he intended to wait until his mother got better to go to the amusement park with her.

But now he wanted to buy a gift for Ranran.

By the second weekend, Yuan Jing arrived early at the entrance of the Youth Palace, occasionally glancing inside. In his hands, he carried several delicate little bags.

Finally, when classes were over, a girl wearing a red horn-buttoned coat bounced out from inside. However, when she reached the outside, she suddenly stopped, and her palms were behind her back, seemingly hiding something.

“Xiao Jing.” She walked up to Yuan Jing, smiling, “Close your eyes first.”

The young boy obediently closed his eyes until he heard the girl opposite him say, “Okay, you can open them now.”

When he opened his eyes, he saw Ji Ran holding a transparent jar, especially large, filled with White Rabbit candies.

Ji Ran looked at his somewhat stunned expression, feeling particularly proud of her creation. She whispered, “When I was a child, my mom would only reward me with this candy when I did well.”

“Xiao Jing, you’re so good, I’ll give you a big jar of candy.”

The expression on the little girl’s face was pure and sincere. She knew Xiao Jing was very good. Even though everyone said Xiao Jing picked up trash, she knew he did it for his grandmother.

She knew that the Xiao Jing she knew was the best little boy in the whole world.

Finally, Yuan Jing pretended to be brave and handed over the bag. “This is my birthday gift for Ranran.”

Ji Ran didn’t expect to have a gift for herself. When she took out the box from the bag and saw the crystal ball inside, she happily exclaimed.

Inside the glass crystal ball was a pink and white unicorn with a light silver horn on its head.

She carefully examined it for a long time and finally said with joy, “This is my favorite birthday gift this year.”

Because it was a gift from Xiao Jing.

Even Shen Zhi himself found it strange why he kept thinking about the past. Perhaps it was because she appeared in his life again. He thought his dull life suddenly had some color.

Even if Ji Ran no longer remembered the little boy, Yuan Jing,.

But what did it matter? As long as he remembered it, it was good. He still liked her.

Ji Ran noticed that Shen Zhi had been staring at her, so she turned her head and glanced at him. Unexpectedly, he motioned to the cake on her plate, raised his chin, and asked in a low voice, “Why aren’t you eating?”

Prompted by his words, Ji Ran obediently picked up a spoon and took a bite of the cake.

While they were still chatting, suddenly a few people entered the restaurant, especially the leading young man, who didn’t look very old but had an imposing and aggressive demeanor.

Finally, after surveying the restaurant, he spotted Shen Zhi.

He walked directly towards them, accompanied by several people. As he approached, their attention was drawn to this side.

“Shen Zhi, what the hell are you up to?” The young man stopped in front of Shen Zhi and pointed at his nose.

Feeling irritated, Xia Jiangming spoke up, “Who the hell are you? Shouting here like this?”

“Shen Zhi, if you can’t retaliate against my aunt, you resort to targeting our family. If anything happens to Ah Peng, I won’t let you off.” The young man looked quite angry, and his words were sharp and crisp.

Ah Peng?

Suddenly, Shen Zhi understood the meaning behind Cheng Hui’s continuous calls. It turned out that Tang Zhenpeng had some family relationships with the Cheng family, though he wasn’t sure how close.

However, given Cheng Shen’s involvement, it was probably a close relationship.

Shen Zhi found it amusing. Despite being a pervert, there were quite a few people willing to stand up for him.

Finally, Shen Zhi glanced at him, speaking indifferently, “Cheng Shen, do you know what kind of trash Tang Zhenpeng is?”

He was still sitting in the chair, his arm casually draped over the back, maintaining that lazy and indifferent appearance. It was evident that he didn’t regard the person in front of him highly.

Naturally, he didn’t hold Cheng Shen in high regard either.

When he first returned to the Shen family, Cheng Shen took advantage of being Cheng Hui’s nephew to bully him. However, Shen Zhi was always stubborn, and whenever Cheng Shen bullied him, he fought back until Cheng Shen was too afraid to appear in front of him.

However, it had been quite a while since the last time he had beaten Cheng Shen.

Cheng Shen didn’t expect Shen Zhi to be criticizing Tang Zhenpeng now. Apparently, Tang Zhenpeng was closely related to Cheng Shen, as he was Cheng Shen’s cousin from Cheng Hui’s side of the family.

Originally, according to common sense, Shen Zhi and Cheng Shen were also cousins, although there was no blood relationship between them.

Moreover, not just Cheng Hui, but even the entire Cheng family, regarded Shen Zhi as a thorn in their side, considering him a child born to an outsider.

Cheng Shen, feeling annoyed, said, “Don’t think you can escape. You bullied Ah Peng at school, and now you’ve put him in the hospital…”

Before he could finish speaking, Shen Zhi suddenly stood up. He was already tall, but standing up made him half a head taller than Cheng Shen.

Shen Zhi spoke in a cold and indifferent tone, suppressing his voice. “Cheng Shen, do you remember the last time you got beaten up?”

Mentioning this matter made Cheng Shen even more furious. This was also why he brought a considerable number of people with him today. He didn’t believe that even in a group fight, they would lose.

So, Cheng Shen spoke without restraint, “What are you being arrogant about? Aren’t you just a bastard…”

Before the last word ‘child’ left his mouth, the little girl sitting nearby suddenly stood up.

Ji Ran almost instantly picked up the plate in front of her and directly covered Cheng Shen’s face with it.

The cake on the plate covered his face perfectly. When Cheng Shen opened his mouth, the cream went straight into his mouth.

The sweet taste instantly spread in his mouth.

But anger and embarrassment erupted at this moment.

However, he didn’t expect that the other side wasn’t planning to let it go.

Ji Ran stood next to Shen Zhi, and, finding it not enough, she even took a small step forward, shielding him. She knew what the other side wanted to say, but suddenly she didn’t want to hear it.

She just suddenly wanted to protect him.

Even if he was a bastard, so what? Birth wasn’t something he could choose; it wasn’t his fault.

So, without hesitation, she spoke:

“No matter who he is, it won’t stop your mouth from being foul.”










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