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Chapter 14

At noon, the fiery sun hung high in the sky, its scorching heat almost roasting people alive.

The once-cool Maple Leaf Lake had also become oppressively hot due to the rising temperature. The water in the lake seemed to turn into a pot of steam, emitting wisps of swirling white smoke.

The new student queue of thousands from Nanjing University dragged their weary bodies, resembling a long, creeping vine, slowly moving across the ground.

Finally, at lunchtime, they arrived at the temporary rest area.

It was a tourist resort in the center of the lake, with white walls and green tiles standing amidst the shimmering waves, creating a picturesque scene reminiscent of an idyllic paradise.

However, the exhausted new students had lost interest in admiring the beauty of the scenery.

Everyone hurriedly ran along the path leading to the lakeside rest area, seeking refuge under the shade of the trees and escaping the scorching sunlight.

“Everyone, follow your class instructor to the designated area and rest!”

A camouflage-clad instructor shouted through a megaphone.

“Oh god, finally, we can rest~”

“Mom, I’m about to collapse.”

“It’s so hot, I feel like I’m being roasted alive.”

“This lakeside circuit training is like hell!”

“I really want to jump into the lake now; maybe it’ll cool me down.”

“My goodness, we still have to go back like this in the afternoon??”

“I can’t take it anymore; just let me die here…”


After the new students reached their resting positions, they collapsed one by one, sprawling on the ground. From a distance, they looked like a pile of green sponges basking in the sun.

After Zhang Jiuling led more than forty people from Class 1 to the designated rest area, he temporarily walked away and joined the group of instructors to discuss matters.

Finally, Class 1 could relax a bit. Everyone lost their composure, sitting on the ground, wiping sweat with tissues, drinking from water bottles, and some just laid down on the ground and played dead…

Li Jiao, carrying her small backpack, found a large, clean rock to sit on. Behind her, there was a big tree providing shade, which was a good spot.

After a morning of marching, her originally fair face was now flushed with heat, her cheeks tinted with a rosy hue, and sweat dripped from her forehead, forming beads that kept falling down.

Her long eyelashes fluttered listlessly, like fragile butterflies flapping their wings. The light in her eyes seemed somewhat dim, staring blankly in one direction, exhausted.

Her moist, deer-like eyes were clear and clean, but with a touch of redness in the whites, making them look a bit eerie.

The sunlight today was particularly scorching; even though she wore a hat, her eyes had turned red after the morning. Now they felt dry and stinging, as if she had accidentally gotten pepper spray in her eyes.

“I feel so dizzy…”

Li Jiao felt her head spinning heavily now; everything seemed blurry and confused. Even blinking and opening her eyes felt extremely difficult, as if there were big stones pressing down on her.

“Jiao Jiao.”


Su Linlin and Zhang Yue, both carrying their bags, came over, worried about her.

“Linlin, boss.”

Li Jiao turned her head slowly, looking in the direction of the two with a dazed expression, emitting a sense of foolishness.

“Jiao Jiao, are you okay?”

Su Linlin walked up to her, bent down, and touched her forehead, which was burning hot.

Frowning, she said anxiously, “Jiao Jiao, are you okay? Your forehead is so hot.”

Zhang Yue also said, “Yeah, Jiao Jiao, do you need us to inform the instructor and send you back to school to rest?”

Li Jiao shook her head and said, “No need; I’m fine.”

Having come this far, she didn’t want to give up halfway.

“Then do you have water? Drink some water first,” Su Linlin suggested.


Li Jiao took off her pink backpack, unzipped it, took out a water bottle, and tilted her head back, taking a few sips.

The cool water flowed down her throat, refreshing and icy, which made Li Jiao feel a bit more awake, and her head didn’t feel as heavy.

Su Linlin and Zhang Yue sat down beside her by the big tree, took out their backpacks, and brought out bread, biscuits, beef jerky, and water, preparing to eat something to replenish their energy.

This tourist resort in the center of the lake was not open because it wasn’t tourist season, so there was no one cooking. The students could only bring their own food for lunch.

Fortunately, Li Jiao remembered to buy some yesterday.

“Oh right, Linlin, boss, I also packed some snacks my dad bought for me yesterday. You guys can have some too.”

Li Jiao’s dad doted on her, so he bought two big bags of snacks yesterday; all of them were expensive. From chocolates, chips, and beef jerky to cakes, nuts, and cookies, everything was there.

Li Jiao took out the snack bags and placed them in the middle. The colorful packaging and various kinds of snacks spread out on the green tablecloth, like a picnic.

Zhang Yue said happily, “Jiao, that’s very thoughtful of you.”

Saying this, she picked up a piece of beef jerky, tore open the packaging, and started chewing.

Their things were all bought from the school supermarket. How could they compare to the variety and deliciousness of the things Li Jiao’s dad bought from imported department stores outside?

Su Linlin took a biscuit, opened the packaging, and handed one to Li Jiao.

“Jiao Jiao, have some food. We still have to walk back in the afternoon.”

“I’m not very hungry,” Li Jiao said, lacking appetite. “I’ll go to the restroom first. You guys, go ahead and eat.”

With that, she leaned on the grass and stood up.

Su Linlin worried, “Jiao Jiao, do you want me to accompany you?”

Li Jiao shook her head, smiling.

“It’s okay; I can go by myself. You guys eat first and rest well.”

“Then be careful on your own.”


Li Jiao looked around, found the restroom sign, and then walked towards it.

Along the way, on the grass and in the pavilions, there were students resting everywhere, grouped together, eating their own bread and biscuits.

Occasionally chatting and laughing, it did have a bit of a spring outing vibe.

However, the thought of having to walk back such a long way in the afternoon made Li Jiao unable to muster any enthusiasm.

Following the signs, she found the restroom and stood in front of the sink.

There was a large rectangular mirror on the wall, wiped clean and shining.

She turned on the tap, cupped her hands, caught a handful of cool water, and splashed it directly onto her face.

The icy cold water instantly refreshed her, making Li Jiao feel much more awake. She stood up straight and took a deep breath.

Looking at herself in the mirror, her eye sockets were sunburnt red, but her complexion was pale—extremely pale. Trying to widen her eyes, she looked listless, like a vampire from television, pale and lacking any rosy hue, as if she hadn’t seen sunlight for years.

“Wake up.”

Li Jiao slapped her own cheeks, trying to dispel the confusion in her mind.

She took out a tissue and wiped her face as she walked back.

Not far away, she suddenly felt a cool breeze accompanied by a faint, unknown fragrance, like sandalwood, delicate, fresh, and natural.

Somehow, smelling this fragrance, Li Jiao’s previously somewhat throbbing head suddenly calmed down a lot, strangely soothing her nervousness and anxiety.

With a “bang,” Li Jiao, not paying attention, lowered her head and ran straight into someone.

Quickly apologizing in a low voice, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, are you okay? I’m sorry.”


“Not looking where you’re going; are you looking for money on the ground?”

A familiar, cold voice sounded, and Li Jiao suddenly raised her head. Zhang Jiuling was looking down at her, his cold black pupils slightly lowered, his expression calm and indifferent.

He took off his hat, holding it in his hand, revealing a thick head of jet-black hair. His sharp eyebrows framed his short and clean temples, exuding a soldier’s coldness and sharpness—an aura of aloofness.

Coupled with his naturally handsome face, with thin lips and a straight nose, his features were well-defined, enhancing his aura to the extreme.

Li Jiao started to have her second infatuation of the day, blinking her eyes and staring blankly at the person.

Wow, he’s so handsome.

In the midst of her infatuation, fortunately, she still knew how to address people.

“Instructor, hello.”

At the sound of her voice, Zhang Jiuling looked at the person who was a head shorter than himself, furrowing his brows slightly, seeming somewhat dissatisfied with her reaction.

“Distracted while walking. What were you thinking?”

Since the first day of military training, Zhang Jiuling has noticed that this girl seems particularly absent-minded. When talking to him, she often seemed lost in thought, her mind wandering elsewhere.

Her thoughts were all over the place, and he had no idea what she was thinking about every day.

Li Jiao bit her soft flesh inside her mouth. She had developed a fear of the instructor since the first day, and although the instructor was very handsome, she valued her life more. Lowering her head, she answered obediently.

“Sorry, Instructor, I had a fever earlier, and my head is a bit dizzy now.”

Originally, Li Jiao thought she had taken medicine this morning and should have been fine by now, but it turned out she was mistaken.

The medicine from the medical room seemed to have no effect at all. She had been taking it for two days now, and it still hadn’t worked.

After being in the sun all morning and then carrying her backpack around the lake for training, the feverish little demon returned with dizziness.


Not better yet?

Zhang Jiuling raised an eyebrow slightly. Didn’t she do a hundred squats yesterday and sweat it out, and wasn’t she better?

“Drink more water.”


Li Jiao had just lowered her head, feeling dizzy, and didn’t hear clearly.

She raised her head, looking at Zhang Jiuling with a puzzled expression.

The wind was too strong just now. What did you say, Instructor?

She tilted her head back, her eyes damp, and stared at Zhang Jiuling, watery and shimmering. As the wind blew, she blinked her eyes, tears welling up in her eyes as if she had been crying, looking pitiful.

Noticing that her eyes were somewhat red, watery, and glazed over, Zhang Jiuling was familiar with these symptoms. It should be from being exposed to sunlight. Over the past few days of military training, many people have developed this problem.

The students’ military training caps were different from the instructors’, with shorter brims that couldn’t shield them from the sun. So, after several days, many people had become like little white rabbits with red eyes.

However, the girl’s eyes were excessively red, as if they were about to bleed.

“Give it back to me.”


Li Jiao hadn’t figured out what the person was saying. The next moment, everything went black in front of her, and then something was placed on her head.

When she came to her senses, Zhang Jiuling’s hat was gone, and Li Jiao tried to roll her eyes upward, her eyes frantically rolling back, trying to see what was on her head.

Like a dying little goldfish, twitching, its eyes rolling white.

The scene was simply… too beautiful.

Zhang Jiuling squinted his eyes slightly, not sure what this girl was up to again.

After a moment, he lifted his foot, and his black military boots veered sixty degrees as he walked past her, leaving a faint and cold fragrance.

After everyone had walked far away, Li Jiao finally realized that Zhang Jiuling had given her his hat. She turned around and shouted at him.

“Instructor, you gave me yours; what are you wearing now?”


Zhang Jiuling didn’t respond; perhaps he didn’t hear her. Li Jiao watched as he disappeared around the corner.

Not getting a response, Li Jiao felt a bit confused as she touched the top of her head. She had already been wearing a military training cap, and now the instructor had given her another one.

Now, she was wearing two caps.

What did that mean?

Putting on the little cap, the instructor… no, no, no.

Li Jiao quickly shook her head. No, no. It should be; putting on the little cap means the instructor cares???

Li Jiao took off the two caps from her head and held them in her hands. Both caps were camouflaged, but the colors were slightly different; the instructor’s was darker and hers was lighter.

The brims were also different; hers was noticeably shorter, so it didn’t shield the sun at all. The instructor’s hat had a longer brim, although it didn’t provide much shade.

But at least, it covered the eyes.

The instructor… did he notice her eyes were too red?

So, he lent her his hat to wear?

Li Jiao was startled by her own thoughts. When did the stern-faced instructor become so caring?

Since the military training began, Zhang Jiuling has always been strict with them. While others trained for half an hour, he could train them for half a day. Moreover, any mistake would result in extra training, violations of discipline, or failure to meet training standards, all of which would incur penalties.

The entire Class 1 suffered from the torment, calling Zhang Jiuling a devil and saying he was a super straight guy who didn’t understand tenderness.

Despite having so many girls in their class, Zhang Jiuling hadn’t shown any leniency. He even trained them harder than others.

But now…

Li Jiao put on Zhang Jiuling’s hat and smiled faintly.

The instructor wasn’t so devoid of compassion after all.

She folded up her own military training hat and tucked it away, then turned around and headed back to the rest area.









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