The first thing Zhao Zhanhuai did when he got home was to call his mother to the study room and briefly explain the situation to her.
His mother was skeptical. "Auntie Zhang has been working for us for so many years. She has always been an obedient one. Mingxi has only been in our home for two years, what could she possibly have against her? Was your secretary mistaken?"
When Zhao Zhanhuai recalled how firm Mingxi was when she threw away the photograph, a gush of courage emerged and he said to his mother, "Then let's get everyone to testify their version of events."
Aside from the nanny Auntie Zhang, there was another hourly maid, a chef, a driver and a gardener working in the Zhao family villa.
Zhang Yufen had no idea that the first thing Zhao Zhanhuai did when he got home was to call Madam Zhao to the study room. Then, he ordered everyone aside from herself to go to the study room as well.
She only knew that after these people came out, they all could not help but to look at her.
"What happened?" For some reason, Zhang Yufen felt a sense of foreboding.
Everyone avoided her.
The hourly maid whom she never really had a great relationship with looked at her with an odd gleam in her eyes. She said, "I hope you sought enough blessings for yourself."
As Zhao Mingxi only got here two years ago, the Zhao family's explanation to them was that due to Zhao Mingxi's poor health, she was always living in the countryside. Now that she is 15 years old, they feel like it was about time she came home.
No one thought much of it. After all, they only started to work here a few years ago, so they had no say in the Zhao family's internal affairs.
However, Zhang Yufen was different from them. Zhang Yufen has been in the Zhao family for years. She was a long-time worker. She often flaunted her seniority and advantage of having taken care of Zhao Yuan for many years.
When she saw how the Zhao family had to share half the attention they used to spend on Zhao Yuan on Zhao Mingxi, Zhang Yufen often felt unjust on behalf of Zhao Yuan.
Nonetheless, she never did anything extreme save for the few times she gave her the cold eye and said a few passive aggressive words.
There was one time when Zhao Mingxi wanted to talk about this, but as she could not produce any evidence of Zhang Yufen treating her badly, she could only let it slide.
As for the other workers, they all felt that Zhang Yufen was a senior, hence there was no need for them to go against her. Therefore it was impossible for them to report this to the Zhao family.
Furthermore, none of the members of the Zhao family noticed anything amiss.
Who would've thought that this was what Zhao Zhanhuai purposely came home to ask about?
Zhang Yufen immediately understood what was going on, but she didn't take it to heart. She even said to that hourly maid, "What's the big deal? Even if they know that I don't treat Miss Mingxi well, what will they do? There's no way they would fire me just because of such a small matter, right? At most they would only give me a short lecture."
The hourly maid gave her a dissatisfied look before knocking on the door to the study room and entering.
Although she disliked her, she felt like she made a fair point.
It was just her attitude problem. Zhang Yufen has been working in the Zhao family home for so many years, everyone in the Zhao family respected her, so there was no way that just because of this small matter...
In the end, before she could finish her thought, Zhao Zhanhuai's raised voice could be heard from the study room, "Small matter? How is the matter of you, a nanny, exceeding your limits a small matter?! Did you know that just because of your 'small matters', Mingxi—"
In the study room, Madam Zhao exclaimed, "What happened to Mingxi?!"
"Nothing." Zhao Zhanhuai was frustrated. He did not dare to tell her about the fact that Zhao Mingxi wanted to sever all ties with them. Instead he said, "Because of these things, Mingxi left home."
His mother found this suspicious. "Mingxi has left home many times. Didn't you see her recently and said that she was going to return on my birthday? Why are you suddenly so angry today?"
Zhao Zhanhuai did not know how to explain himself. He could only glare at Zhang Yufen who was trembling in fear. "Fine. Take your salary and leave."
With regards to how he was to convince Mingxi to come home, Zhao Zhanhuai had no idea. If he were to send things over, he would appear insincere. But if he were to fire Zhang Yufen, Mingxi just might come home before the birthday banquet. Then his family's stability can still be saved.
Zhang Yufen's head went into a buzz. She was in disbelief. Her face went pale as her jaw dropped.
Madam Zhao stood up in confusion as well. "Why can't she just apologize to Mingxi? Why must you kick her out? She's already almost fifty years old. Where else can she find work?"
When the people outside heard what was going on in the study room, they all looked at each other in shock.
What happened to Zhao Zhanhuai today? He was usually such a gentle person. Why was he firing people so suddenly?
While things were getting more intense on Zhao Zhanhuai’s side...
Mingxi was called out by the International Class' homeroom teacher.
Mingxi initially thought that their teacher was going to scold her for chatting even though it was minutes before class was about to start, but what the teacher was actually concerned about was whether she was struggling with her studies ever since she transferred here from the Normal Class.
Their teacher Mr. Lu said with a smile, "Mingxi, the October monthly exam will be held tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. If you feel like it will be too hard for you, you can excuse yourself from it with the reason being your failure to catch up with our syllabus."
Mingxi was a little confused. Why did their teacher sound as if he didn't want her to take part in this month's exams?
The teacher avoided her gaze. He took a sip of his tea and said in a muffled and sad tone, "Truth is, the average mark of the International Class has always been much lower than the other two classes', and the greater the gap, the more embarrassed I am— So do you want to take part from November onwards? When it comes to transfers, the school will allow a one-time exemption."
Mingxi instantly understood his words.
In A High, these three classes were independent from the Normal Classes. Their learning speed was a few times faster.
Aside from the Gold Medal Class who takes part in the National Competition every year and the Evergreen Class which was ever growing in terms of their results, even the syllabus of the International Class was greatly ahead of Normal Classes'.
It could be said that the 20 over Normal Classes could not be compared to these three classes.
Their exam papers were different as well.
And Mingxi’s results were always slightly below average among the Normal Classes.
The only time she got good results was when she accidentally came in 3rd place.
However, even if she had the best results among the Normal Classes, she would still be considered below average in these three classes.
In other words, Mingxi was not qualified for this exam.
Their class already had someone like Fu Yangxi who would obtain great results when he was in a good mood and would simply fill in the blanks when he was in a bad mood. He would constantly make their class’ average go up and down like a roller coaster.
If someone from the Normal Class came over, would it not just pull down their average even further?
Although their homeroom teacher was feeling anxious about it, he did not show it.
Mingxi did not know how to tell her teacher that she had been ‘debuffed’ during her previous exams, and now that she had absorbed Fu Yangxi’s luck and obtained 66 tiny buds, these ‘debuff’ would no longer influence her when it came to the exams.
With her standards, it was impossible for her to be ranked last in the International Class!
She could only pretend not to understand his words. “But teacher, I really want to take this exam. I’ve already caught up to the syllabus, and I want to see what level I am at right now.”
The teacher was a little impatient. “The main point is that our International Class is always in the last place...”
Mingxi cut him off, “What is the total number of students in these three classes? 150, right? What if I can get into the Top 20 for this month’s exam? Then there won’t be the possibility of me pulling down our average marks, right?”
The teacher looked at her with his jaw dropped. He must be feeling like she was a little too overconfident with her abilities.
Young girls sure like to dream.
What kind of people made up the Top 20? Shen Liyao and his competition team already took 6 spots. As for the rest, they were all from the Gold Medal Class and Evergreen Class. None of them from the International Class has ever made it into the Top 20.
Seeing as how his attempts to persuade Mingxi was futile, their teacher could only let her go.
Nonetheless, he was now even more depressed when he thought about the upcoming monthly exams.
Due to this matter, Mingxi had a heavier load on her shoulders. She had to obtain great results for this monthly exam, or at least to a point where she would not pull down the average scores for their class.
When she returned to class, she spent her whole afternoon break on doing test papers.
Fu Yangxi knew that she took her exams seriously, hence he did not bother her. When afternoon rolled around, he lied and said that his hands slipped so he accidentally got another meal, but it was only for her.
Mingxi finished a paper with lightning speed. After she was done eating, she placed the empty container aside. She didn’t even notice that in order to avoid walking out from behind her, Fu Yangxi had jumped out the window to throw away the container.
The whole class watched this scene unfold in shock.
Mingxi continued to do test papers until the next afternoon when Mr. Yang from the Literary Center came to find her during the second period. He asked if she was willing to be the host for the upcoming Annual School Celebration.
“You probably don’t know this, but you’re really popular right now.” Mr. Yang smiled and blinked as he spoke, “But we have yet to decide on the host, so why not sign yourself up? I strongly recommend you to do it.”
After Mr. Yang left, Mingxi opened up the forum to take a look. Only then did she realize that after that incident with E Xiaoxia, she had become this year’s School Beauty.
Previously, be it the Annual School Celebration or New Year’s Day, such festivities were usually hosted by Zhao Yuan or another guy who was well-versed in hosting and performing.
But for this year, it might be because she was fresh meat that she obtained many cheers of confidence by the crowd.
Nonetheless, there were people questioning this in the forum: “Hasn’t she already stolen Zhao Yuan’s title of School Beauty? And now she wants to take away Zhao Yuan’s right to become the host?”
“Besides, our school’s annual celebration will be broadcasted on TV! Aside from looks, should we not get someone who has good results too? The results of a simpleton from the Normal Class surely can’t compete with our previous School Beauty’s, right?”
But it wasn’t long before someone from the Normal Class rebutted: “The exams for the Normal Classes and those three classes were never the same, so that means that these two School Beauties have never competed on an equal platform. Who gave you the courage to claim that Zhao Mingxi’s results are not as good as Zhao Yuan’s? At least she had gotten into the Top 3 among the Normal Classes.”
The students from those three classes always felt like they were above the rest. So immediately someone commented: “With your Normal Class exams that are so easy that I can use my toes to score full marks? What is so hard about getting in Top 3? I can do it even with my eyes closed.”
Then an argument broke out.
Finally, someone made a firm note: “What’s the point in arguing? Isn’t the October monthly exam coming up? We’ll just wait and see their results.”
Mingxi was shocked. What the heck is going on?
Whoever wants to be the host, go ahead and do it! She never said that she wanted to steal that spot from Zhao Yuan!
But she had no choice but to participate in the October monthly exam.
Someone even called her a simpleton. She wanted to see who was the true simpleton.
Mingxi pulled up her sleeves and returned to class to continue doing the test papers.
While Zhao Mingxi had no intention whatsoever to become the host, the people from the Evergreen Class were becoming unsettled.
Previously it was always someone who was from their class who became the host. So why was it that this year a lot of people in the forum were leaning towards the International Class’ Zhao Mingxi?
“Is Zhao Mingxi even qualified for the job? Can you all not just look at her visuals?” When Pu Shuang saw Zhao Yuan resting her head on the table, she could not help but to stand up for her. In just a few days’ time, Zhao Mingxi had taken everything away from her. She was about to lose her title as host that she had for the past two years as well.
A guy said, “She is really beautiful.”
Pu Shuang spoke in disdain, “You boys only know how to look at someone’s face. What else does she have aside from her appearance?! Those who came from the Normal Class will only be ranked last in our class! Moreover, Zhao Mingxi had only obtained good results once. Other than that, her results were always below average! As for Yuanyuan, she has constantly been representing us in the Top 20 among the three classes. Wouldn’t these glorious results be more of a positive impact on society if she is the host?”
As the guys could not think of a better argument, they all agreed. “It is true that mere beauty without wits is a little lacking.”
Zhao Yuan lost to Zhao Mingxi in the School Beauty Contest.
Zhao Yuan initially thought that she could ignore it. After all, she had the love of her family, good results, intelligence, and she knew how to play piano and dance ballet.
But this was a really odd feeling— When she saw those IDs who used to talk about her frequently now change to talk about the International Class’ Zhao Mingxi, she felt a slight sense of envy.
On the one hand, she told herself that this was just temporary. These people wanted something fresh. They will surely re-focus their attention on her later.
On the other hand, she could not help but to open up the posts about Zhao Mingxi. She searched for the keywords ‘Zhao Mingxi’ and ‘zmx’, and like an addict, she tried to focus on the flaws in her photos. Then she would tell herself that she had nothing to worry about.
Zhao Yun also felt that she could not maintain such a mindset. Just because she lost once doesn’t mean that she will continue losing.
It won’t be long before she will be able to win over her in other areas.
She regained her composure and began to prepare for the October monthly exam.
Just like what those people said, this was the first time that she and Zhao Mingxi were taking the same exam.
The exam days were here.
On the day of the exam, during their morning self-study period, their homeroom teacher Mr. Lu was observing them from outside the class. He noticed that although Zhao Mingxi was from the Normal Class, she was focused and hard-working. With just these qualities, it was enough to leave a good impression on Mr. Lu. He even felt bad about how he persuaded her not to take the exams yesterday afternoon.
But a good impression was one thing. When Mr. Lu thought about how the average results were going to drop, he felt an itch on his scalp and a pain in his chest.
Mingxi’s ultimate goal was to escape her fate as the unlucky side character and get into the best university she could possibly get into. Without the Zhao family, she was still the Zhao Mingxi who came out of a small Northern town, so she could only rely on a good university to change her fate.
Although an ordinary October monthly exam was a small thing, she still had to try her best.
She kept on doing test papers, and by the time she noticed her surroundings, it was already the moment before the exam papers were to be distributed. The invigilators were asking the students to shift the position of the tables.
This was Mingxi’s first exam after being reborn.
She would be lying if she said she wasn’t nervous.
She looked at the 66 frail buds in her flower pot and turned to Fu Yangxi who had his head full of red hair leaned against his hand as he flipped carelessly through a book, his eyes unfocused as he looked at her. She said, “I’m a little nervous.”
When she looked over, Fu Yangxi immediately retracted his gaze.
Only after he heard her speak did he pretend to have just seen her.
“So?” Fu Yangxi’s heart was beating faster because of her. He took off his noise-cancelling headphones. “Isn’t this just an October monthly exam? Since you’re my follower, no one will say anything if you don’t do well.”
Mingxi put out her hand with her palms up and looked at him.
Fu Yangxi: ?
Mingxi said, “Then I’ll be frank. Can you let me hold your hand for a couple of minutes?”
Fu Yangxi almost fell out of his chair.
Mingxi immediately placed her hands in front of him. Her hands were thin and as pale as jade.
Fu Yangxi looked at her hand, then raised his gaze to look at her before his face flushed red.
If she wanted to hold hands she could have just said so. Why pull the whole ‘I’m nervous’ or ‘I need you to give me courage’ as an excuse?
He wondered if Zhao Mingxi had read one too many romance novels.
“Right here?” Fu Yangxi pulled a long face as he slowly sat straight, acting as if he didn’t want to hold hands at all.
There are so many people in class. There is no snow, nor is there any rain.
What an unromantic setting for their first time holding hands.
“Quick.” Mingxi was getting impatient. There was only around 15 minutes before the exam was about to start.
“What are you in a rush for?” Her anxiousness made Fu Yangxi’s heart skip a beat. He offered her his hand with an unwilling façade. Fu Yangxi turned his head to face Ke Chengwen, and pulled on an expression that said ‘what the f*ck am I supposed to do when she’s so clingy?’.
Ke Chengwen: …
To his surprise, the moment he reached one hand out, both his hands were held tightly in Zhao Mingxi’s haste.
Fu Yangxi: …!
Fu Yangxi spent the whole 15 minutes in a daze. Aside from that one time when Zhao Mingxi was applying medicine on him, this was the first time he ever held hands with a girl.
And it was the kind where their hands were tightly held together.
His thoughts were everywhere, yet he refused to think about his hands.
Although he felt like his relationship with Zhao Mingxi ought to have progressed to this stage, isn’t she a little too thoughtless about this?!
Suddenly they were holding hands before the exam!
At that moment, a familiar figure appeared outside their class. Fu Yangxi instinctively took a glance. He recognized him. He had seen him before at the library, someone called Shen something Yao.
Just as he noticed this guy, the bell signaling the start of the exams rang. That guy rushed to the Gold Medal Class while Zhao Mingxi pulled her hand away and said, “The exams are starting. Good luck.”
The product of holding hands for 15 minutes was the instant growth of 10 tiny buds! Mingxi felt slightly more confident in her exams!
Fu Yangxi looked at Zhao Mingxi in shock. Shouldn’t she be writing about their first time holding hands in her diary? Why is she so nonchalant about this? She was as casual as how she confessed that day at the library. She couldn’t even confess with proper words! How was he to accept her confession then?
Fu Yangxi stared at Zhao Mingxi. He kept on staring until the invigilator at the podium had no choice but to cough and walk over to him in order to block his line of sight. “Focus on your exams.”
Only then did Fu Yangxi retract his gaze.
After a while, when the invigilator left, Fu Yangxi couldn’t help but to look at her again.
But this time, he was focused on the speed at which Zhao Mingxi was answering the exam paper.
What the hell? Is she writing blindly? Why is she writing so fast? Didn’t she transfer here from the Normal Class?