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Chapter 32

The night was hazy, with thick clouds revealing a sliver of silver moonlight, accompanied by a few unnamed stars flickering intermittently. Everything was quiet.

Occasionally, the tree downstairs would emit a few intermittent cicada chirps, breaking the silence of the night.


The bathroom door opened, releasing a rush of swirling white mist. Zhang Jiuling walked out, wiping his still dripping hair. Water droplets slid down his hair, along his temples, face, and chin, and slowly down his neck, passing over his Adam’s apple and the slightly bulging veins, flowing towards the somewhat loose collar, revealing glimpses of his pronounced collarbones and well-defined abs…


The phone on the table rang. He nonchalantly walked over, glancing at the caller’s ID.


“Boss, guess who I am?”

A man’s cheerful voice came through the phone, full of joy. Zhang Jiuling could almost imagine the bright, sunflower-like smile on the other end.

He smirked, his tone slightly roguish.

“My son.”

“Hey, grandson!” the man on the other end quickly replied, followed by a hearty laugh.



Zhang Jiuling glanced at the phone screen again, frowning impatiently.

“Wang Haonan, are you looking for a beating?”

His Beijing accent was strong, sounding a bit lazy and uniquely roguish.

“Hey, boss, why are you so irritable? I just borrowed a phrase from you.”

“So petty; this won’t do for a man.”

Zhang Jiuling tossed the towel aside, his voice icy.

“Get to the point, or…”

The voice on the other end was tentative.

“Nothing really; I just thought I’d tell you a bedtime story?”

Zhang Jiuling snorted coldly. “Nothing?”

“Get lost!”


“Boss, really, I don’t even know why I have such high hopes for you.”

Wang Haonan, holding his phone, rubbed his hair. Seriously, with a boss like this, he was sure to die alone.

“Are you going to talk or not? If not, I’m hanging up.”

“Wait, wait,” Wang Haonan quickly said.

“Boss, guess where I am now?”


“I’m hanging up.”

“Wait, boss, can’t you have a little patience with your brother?”

“Let me tell you, my mission is over. I’m at the airport now. In a little over ten hours, you can see your dearest comrade!”

“So, are you excited? Happy?”


At this moment, Zhang Jiuling’s face looked like he was ready to kill someone. It was like, after finally calming down to listen to someone, they say, “Hey, I just wanted to tell you the weather’s nice today.”

For a moment, Zhang Jiuling wanted to grab a sniper rifle and end the idiot on the other end, who was not knowing how to live or die.

He took a deep breath, his voice like a thousand-year-old ice.

“Do you want to die quickly?”

“Boss, why are you unhappy?”

Wang Haonan seemed oblivious to Zhang Jiuling’s irritation, recklessly treading on the edge of his patience.

“Heh, I’m thrilled.”


“Yeah, thrilled.”


“Boss, at this rate, we really can’t have fun.”

“Aren’t you happy I’m coming back? I’ve completed such a difficult mission to see you. Aren’t you happy? I’m back, so I can take over the students. Aren’t you delighted?”

In the first two sentences, Zhang Jiuling listened with a blank expression. Only in the last sentence did he frown.

“Why are you coming back?”

“To take over from you, you don’t like training kids, right? I’m back, so you can rest.”

Zhang Jiuling wasn’t supposed to be the drill instructor for this training; Wang Haonan was. He had planned to return to Beijing, but due to Wang Haonan’s sudden mission, Zhang Jiuling had to step in.

Now, with Wang Haonan back to take over, a fleeting image of a young girl’s clean, fair face, with shallow dimples and moist eyes, flashed through Zhang Jiuling’s mind.

“Instructor, will I see you again after the training?”

He pursed his lips, uncharacteristically silent for a moment.

“Boss, boss, why aren’t you talking, boss?”



“Yes, boss?”

“Jiangnan is cool; why don’t you go there?”


“All units, march.”

“Left, right, left, right.”

“One, two, three, four.”

“One, two, three, four!”

“One, two, three, four!”

“Li Jiao.”


“Watch your step.”


Hearing Zhang Jiuling’s command, Li Jiao obediently turned her head back, focusing on the back of the student in front of her and jogging steadily.

After “Farewell to the Big Green Tree,” she never understood the instructor’s silent answer.

So, she didn’t know if she would ever see him again.

Determined not to regret later and not to realize her feelings only after losing them, Li Jiao made a resolute fist, deciding…

She would make the most of the remaining training time and memorize the instructor’s face thoroughly!

Absolutely, no regrets!

With this daring spirit, Li Jiao made sure to admire the instructor’s looks every day.

During training, she stared at him with admiration. During breaks, wherever the instructor stood, her gaze followed.

Once, Zhang Jiuling went to the chief instructor’s tent to report on the training, and Li Jiao foolishly followed him.

“Jiuling, I heard Haonan is back?”

The chief instructor looked up, his stern face showing a rare smile, a mix of authority and kindness.

Upon hearing this, Zhang Jiuling responded casually.

“No, he’s gone to Jiangnan.”

The chief instructor was quite surprised.

“Jiangnan? What’s he doing there, learning to row boats or embroidery?”

This Wang Haonan was supposed to take over Class 1, rescuing the students from misery.

And now, he’s gone to Jiangnan?

Zhang Jiuling’s sharp, jet-black eyes, deep and penetrating, revealed a hint of coldness, as if pondering.

He replied, “Go take a stroll.”


The chief instructor turned and went to talk to others. Suddenly, another instructor beside Zhang Jiuling spoke up.

“Hey, Jiuling, is that one of your students?”

“She’s been staring at you the whole time.”

Zhang Jiuling followed his gaze. Not far away, a girl stood beside another class’s resting tent, tiptoeing, eagerly looking in their direction.

With that expectant gaze, she looked just like a young wife standing at the village entrance, waiting for her husband to return.

Zhang Jiuling glanced over. The girl curved her lips, revealing her trademark dimples, and her smile was sweet and charming, like honeyed lemon, fresh and clean.

Involuntarily, Zhang Jiuling’s lips curved slightly.

Like a little tail.

These past few days, he had also noticed that the girl, for some unknown reason, had been staring at him every day.

Wherever he went, her gaze seemed to stick to him.

“Jiuling, is that girl from your class?”

Zhang Jiuling glanced at the person, his voice clear and warm.

“Yeah, she’s mine.”

Busy and hectic, another day of military training ended. The freshmen seemed to have gotten used to the routine of starting at eight in the morning and finishing at six in the evening.

Occasionally, they even found some enjoyment in it.

For example, during breaks, students from the dance department started doing splits and dancing. Students from the music department showed off their skills while singing and performing various styles of ethnic and pop music…

The leisure time during military training had turned into a large-scale performance.

A few days ago, some clubs came to perform at the training ground, and the freshmen cheered and laughed along. The instructors also happily joined in the exuberant atmosphere of youth, chatting and bonding with the students, deepening their relationship.

“Jiaojiao, want to take a walk around the  training ground with us?”

While tying her hair, Su Linlin turned to look at Li Jiao.

Li Jiao was slumped over the table, looking spiritless. At Su Linlin’s words, she lifted her head, her eyes dull and listless.

“Huh? The training ground?”

Her once-bright eyes were now bloodshot from the strain of watching the instructor excessively (or spying). From a distance, they looked like a pair of bunny eyes.

Su Linlin was taken aback. “Jiaojiao, what happened to your eyes?”

Li Jiao sat up, waving her hand indifferently.

“It’s nothing. Why are you going to the training ground?”

They had a night off from training tonight; there were no night drills. Many people chose to rest in their dorms. Why were Su Linlin and Zhang Yue going to the training ground?

With an incomprehensible look from Li Jiao, Zhang Yue and Su Linlin exchanged a knowing smile that was somewhat mysterious.

“We’re going to the training ground to, hehe, see handsome guys.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Su Linlin said, “today the sports department is having a match at the training ground. There are a lot of handsome guys. We’re going to check it out.”

“To see if anyone has ‘Want to be a beautiful girl’s boyfriend’ written on their face.”

After speaking, the two of them grinned lewdly.

Clearly, both of them were good-looking. Zhang Yue was a slightly chubby, mature woman, looking quite glamorous. Su Linlin was a bit more gentle and innocent, more of the fresh type.

But when they opened their mouths…

One was a Northeastern tomboy, the other a starry-eyed drama queen.

It’s… inexplicable.

“Okay, I won’t go watch the game.” Li Jiao said, “Let’s go downstairs together. I’ll buy ice cream.”

“Perfect; I want some too. Let’s go together.”

“Let’s go.”

Li Jiao got up, tidied up the table, and turned to look at the other bed.

“Yuran, are you coming?”

Tang Yuran sat at the table, working on her computer on some documents. After hearing Li Jiao’s words, she politely replied.

“I’m not going. You guys go ahead.”

Her tone was cold and distant.

Although Li Jiao and a few others had helped her last time, Tang Yuran hadn’t changed much in her attitude toward everyone—neither warm nor cold, just a stranger who could exchange a few words.

“Let’s go.”

After Su Linlin and Zhang Yue finished tidying up, Li Jiao picked up her phone, and the three of them left the room together.

The supermarket wasn’t far from the dormitory building, which was convenient for the students.

Li Jiao bought an ice cream and some snacks. After leaving the supermarket, she bid farewell to Su Linlin and Zhang Yue, then walked back to the dormitory building alone, carrying her bag.

The supermarket was surrounded by willow trees with green tendrils. When the wind blew, a few long strands of willow swayed gently, drifting.

The sun was setting, leaving only half its body on the indistinct horizon. The crimson sunset shone on the asphalt road, sparkling and glittering.

Taking a bite of her ice cream, the cold and sweetness spread on her tongue at the same time. Li Jiao squinted contentedly.


There weren’t many people on this road. It was somewhat quiet. From afar, she could faintly hear the sounds from the training ground, like cheers erupting after a ball went into the net, very lively.

Li Jiao couldn’t help but think of Zhang Jiuling playing basketball last time, wearing that white jersey with the number 16, skillfully dribbling, shooting, and scoring on the court. He looked so handsome.

She licked her ice cream, smiling foolishly.

Suddenly, a pair of black shoes appeared in front of her.

She raised her head, and the person she had just been thinking about stood in front of her.


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