In Order To Pursue You
That night, Zhou Kao lay on his dormitory bed for a long time. A friend request appeared on his WeChat, and he saw the nickname “Zhang Ze” attached to it. Zhou Kao couldn’t help sitting up.
Before going to the competition, Zhou Kao had wanted to clarify the truth about the incident that had caused his misunderstanding years ago.
He messaged a few classmates he had been relatively close to in his first year of high school on QQ, telling them that he had something to discuss and asking them to add him on WeChat if they saw the message.
He hadn’t spent much time at the same high school as Wen Le during his first year, and after he left, he only stayed in touch with a few people, and that was just through QQ.
Nowadays, QQ wasn’t commonly used anymore, and unfortunately, Zhou Kao didn’t have any other contact information for them.
He had sent the message while he was competing in H city, but it took half a month to receive a friend request.
Zhou Kao accepted the request and went to the washroom with a cigarette.
They chatted on voice call for a while. When Zhang Ze heard that Zhou Kao had been admitted to University A, he didn’t seem very surprised.
He simply said, “So you did go to University A.”
The word “so” made Zhou Kao’s heart skip a beat. “How did you know?”
“Have you forgotten? Back then, the school made a chart of our target universities to encourage us, and it was posted on the wall outside. I remember your name was in the first column, the first one right after your name was University A. No one else in the class wrote down such a prestigious university. Only you. I remember it very clearly.”
For some reason, Zhou Kao felt a strange sensation in his heart, but he didn’t dwell on it.
Zhang Ze continued, “Hey, do you know that Wen Le also got into University A? You should remember her, right? In our first year, the two of you were always competing for the top position in the science department.”
Zhou Kao nodded, “Yeah, did she initially aim for University A as well?”
Zhang Ze replied, “No, she’s a science student. She wrote down Peking University. So, you see, when she ended up going to your University A, we were quite surprised.”
“Back then, she ranked fourth in our entire province’s exam. Our small city had never produced such a high score before. It was almost the most sensational news in the city. The school gained a lot of reputation through Wen Le as well.”
“We initially thought she would go to the nearby Peking University. After all, Peking University’s science program is more prestigious. They even came to our school to recruit Wen Le. It was said that they offered very attractive conditions. We all thought she would go there. But no one expected that she would choose University A. Everyone found it very surprising.”
The inexplicable feeling in Zhou Kao’s heart grew stronger, even carrying a trace of bitterness. He lit a cigarette and took a puff, his handsome face hidden in the smoke, exuding a mysterious and gloomy aura.
He rarely smoked. Initially, he had started smoking during the summer vacation of his senior year of high school when he was leading a team for a project. At that time, everyone around him had doubts, and he was just a high school student with insufficient credibility. The project was also burning through a lot of money, putting him under tremendous pressure. He had learned to smoke as a way to cope. He hadn’t smoked in a long while, but he found himself smoking more recently for some unknown reason.
Zhang Ze didn’t notice that something was off with Zhou Kao and enthusiastically asked, “How well did you rank in the exam?”
Zhou Kao took another drag of the cigarette, his voice somewhat low, “I was given a direct admission.”
Zhang Ze was surprised, “Damn, that’s awesome. But that means you two can’t compare rankings anymore.”
“In fact, I saw Wen Le at school,” Zhou Kao brushed off some ash from the cigarette, saying, “She has changed a lot.”
Zhang Ze asked, “Did she become even more beautiful?”
“No,” Zhou Kao held the cigarette between his fingers, his gaze lowered, so his expression wasn’t clear, “She became… much gentler, not quite like her from before.”
Zhang Ze chuckled at this, “That’s indeed a bit strange. Back then, Wen Le was like the boss of our elementary, middle, and high schools.”
Zhou Kao seemed to be leading Zhang Ze toward a certain topic.
Zhou Kao continued, “Do you remember passing by the alley behind the school back then? We saw her with a few guys, and they had kicked another guy to the ground. Later, it seemed like someone called for a teacher, and we left.”
Zhang Ze thought for a moment, “Really? I don’t remember.”
Zhou Kao’s voice was slow and dragging, leading Zhang Ze to recall, “I remember that at the time, Wang Xu said she always bullied guys.”
“Always bullying people?,” Zhang Ze laughed heartily, “Wen Le is indeed a bit aggressive and can fight well, but she doesn’t bully people unless provoked. She’s very studious and doesn’t have much free time for troublemaking. If she takes the initiative, the other person must not be a good person. Oh! Now that you mention it, I remember a bit more. Back then, she was with a few guys and beat up that guy, Zhou Li, at the school gate.”
“You didn’t know, that guy was a jerk. He used to bully a girl and even sexually harassed her, threatening her not to tell anyone. The girl was timid and scared, and she became mentally unstable. Then, that day, he cornered the girl in an alley to bully her, and Wen Le caught him in the act and beat him up.”
“So, she wasn’t engaging in campus bullying, right?” Zhou Kao’s voice was somewhat hoarse.
Zhang Ze laughed, “Of course not. She’s really nice, known for being a big sister who’s equally approachable by guys and girls. Hahaha.”
A bitter taste filled Zhou Kao’s heart, lingering in his mouth.
Zhou Kao thought he had been foolish back then.
After hanging up the phone, Zhou Kao found a reason to chat briefly with Zhang Ze and then ended the call.
Zhang Ze, who had just hung up the phone, felt puzzled about what Zhou Kao wanted to talk to him about.
Zhou Kao leaned against the window and stared blankly, his mind filled with thoughts of Wen Le and snippets from their sophomore year.
He remembered that rainy evening back then, when they shared an umbrella and walked back to the dormitories.
Wen Le slightly lowered her head, revealing a slender and delicate neck with a faint pink hue, and the unmistakably clear sound of her heartbeat, even masked by the sound of the rain.
Then came the time when he had distanced himself from Wen Le. She had looked at him, her eyes that were once filled with stars now had gradually dimmed, replaced by confusion and loss.
The Wen Le from back then, young and tender, was already radiant. Now, the more mature Wen Le was attracting the attention of everyone around her. More and more outstanding individuals would appear by her side. Zhou Kao thought of Wen Le’s decisive departure from his side tonight, and his heart ached with numbness.
Waves of pain surged through Zhou Kao’s heart. He truly regretted his choices.
Suppressing the bitterness in his mouth, Zhou Kao made a phone call to his housekeeper and gave some instructions. He couldn’t afford to waste any more time.
On that Friday, Wen Le was scheduled to attend an award ceremony.
In reality, this ceremony was a scholarship program sponsored by a corporation for outstanding students at A University.
The scholarship applications had been submitted in the previous semester, but the distribution of the scholarships and the awarding of the scholarship certificates had been postponed to this semester.
The corporation established this scholarship program to enhance its image of social responsibility, and naturally, they needed to draft some press releases and news to improve their image.
So, this award ceremony was organized.
Naturally, the attendees of this ceremony were the top academic performers from various departments.
As it was a formal occasion, Wen Le tied her hair into a ponytail and wore a black suit with a black pencil skirt, along with stockings and high heels.
The venue for the award ceremony was a small conference room in the administrative office building.
There weren’t too many people in attendance, probably a few dozen.
As soon as Wen Le entered the room, she saw that tall and upright figure.
Zhou Kao was also dressed in formal attire, looking tall and handsome. Wherever he went, he was always the center of attention. Wen Le spotted him at a glance, but she didn’t want to approach him to say hello. Instead, she walked past Zhou Kao as if they were strangers.
Wen Le could feel the burning gaze behind her, yet she acted as if she didn’t notice and took her seat.
Throughout the event, Wen Le didn’t exchange any eye contact with Zhou Kao. It was as if she was completely ignoring his presence.
After the awards ceremony, the representatives from the corporation and the school teachers praised and encouraged the award-winning students. Following that was a group photo session, which didn’t last very long and quickly ended.
A group of people left the hallway, and the narrow staircase felt crowded with dozens of individuals.
The high heels Wen Le was wearing were a bit large and uncomfortable. The staircase being congested and someone being in a hurry to attend a class pushing past, caused Wen Le to bump into someone. Her foot slipped, and she nearly fell down the stairs.
She tried to grab the railing, but someone was passing by on the inside, so she couldn’t hold on.
As she was about to tumble down the stairs, a pair of arms firmly caught Wen Le, and in the next moment, she was enveloped in a broad embrace.
Wen Le was still startled, tightly clutching the fabric on the person’s chest, her eyes showing a trace of panic. She breathed heavily, while the strong arms held her protectively.
The owner of those arms held her tightly, gently patting her back to comfort her. Leaning against the warmth of the embrace, smelling the familiar scent, she gradually relaxed, feeling an inexplicable sense of safety.
By this time, most of the people on the stairs had moved on, leaving them behind in the crowd, with few noticing the two of them.
In this moment, a strand of Wen Le’s hair fell, draping across her flushed and slightly damp eyes due to fear, giving her a touch of delicate beauty.
Wen Le rarely showed such vulnerability, and Zhou Kao’s heart couldn’t help but soften. He held her gently and comfortingly in his arms.
Wen Le’s heart rate gradually calmed down. She pulled herself out of Zhou Kao’s embrace and softly thanked him.
By now, the others who had attended the award ceremony had completely left, leaving only the two of them on the staircase.
Wen Le thanked him and was about to leave.
Zhou Kao, however, grabbed Wen Le’s hand and led her to a secluded corner.
Wen Le furrowed her brows, shaking off Zhou Kao’s hand. “What are you doing? I need to go for my duty at the Student Union soon.”
Zhou Kao pressed Wen Le against the wall and raised an eyebrow. “Someone’s being really heartless, is this how you thank me?”
Wen Le felt somewhat indignant and muttered, “Didn’t I already thank you just now?”
Zhou Kao leaned closer to her and said, “I didn’t hear that, say it again.”
Wen Le raised her head, glared at him, and through gritted teeth, she said, “Thank… you!”
Zhou Kao suddenly chuckled softly, lowered his head, and gradually moved closer to Wen Le.
Zhou Kao’s face got closer and closer, his warm breath and the scent of his cologne surrounding Wen Le. She turned her head away, a bit irritated, and pushed Zhou Kao’s chest with one hand. “What are you doing? Keep your distance.”
However, Zhou Kao continued to approach slowly, and his lips brushed just a centimetre away from Wen Le’s cheek. He got close to her ear, brushed a strand of fallen hair with his hand, lightly tucking it behind her ear, and whispered, “I’m leaving.”
Wen Le’s ears turned red from his deep and magnetic voice, both attracted and irritated by it.
She pushed Zhou Kao away and walked ahead on her own.
Zhou Kao followed behind Wen Le at an unhurried pace.
While going down the stairs, Zhou Kao reached out and took Wen Le’s hand.
Wen Le swatted his hand away. “This gentleman, what are you doing?”
Zhou Kao said, “Either I hold your hand or I carry you. Your choice.”
“Because high heels don’t suit you,” Zhou Kao stated.
Wen Le was about to be driven mad by this guy; it seemed dogs really couldn’t change their habits.
Zhou Kao added, “You’re too beautifully dressed, too many people might have designs on you.”
“You’re insane.” Wen Le turned around, ignoring him.
But, undeniably, her mood had improved considerably.
Zhou Kao slightly bent over and extended his hand, mimicking the gesture from the day he invited Wen Le to dance.
“Miss, you surely don’t want to walk barefoot in front of everyone.”
Wen Le snorted, slowly and gracefully placing her hand on the stair railing. “I can hold onto the railing. What do I need you for?”
As she spoke, Wen Le started walking forward while holding onto the railing.
Hmm, not easily fooled. Zhou Kao sighed inwardly but his eyes carried a hint of amusement.
Since she wasn’t easily fooled, then…
Zhou Kao chuckled lightly and strode forward, lifting Wen Le in a princess carry.
Wen Le exclaimed and quickly clung to Zhou Kao’s shoulders. Zhou Kao carried Wen Le down swiftly and steadily.
Zhou Kao’s breath remained surprisingly calm. “It’s faster this way.”
Feeling frustrated, Wen Le gave Zhou Kao a light punch. “What are you up to?”
Zhou Kao’s tone was serious yet patient. “Your foot was just sprained, and you’re wearing uncomfortable high heels. Don’t you care about your ankle?”
Wen Le sceptically assessed Zhou Kao with an expression of disbelief.
Zhou Kao chuckled again, his voice low and gentle. “Of course, primarily it’s also because I’m pursuing you.”
TN: *gasp* finally some real plot movement!!!!
Wen Le’s heart skipped a beat at his words, then suddenly started accelerating.
In the next moment, Wen Le smiled seductively, her eyes playful. “Well then, you can give up hope. It’s futile. Why would I give up an entire forest for a crooked tree?”
At Wen Le’s response, Zhou Kao’s expression grew dark and grim, his face turning an almost purplish hue as he glared at her.
For some unknown reason, seeing him like this brought a sense of satisfaction and triumph to Wen Le’s heart.
Zhou Kao’s face remained grim as he tightened his hold around Wen Le.
She winced from the pressure; he was holding her too tightly.
After descending the stairs, Zhou Kao put Wen Le down.
At this moment, the black hair tie Wen Le had used to secure her hair suddenly snapped, causing her once smooth and elegant hair to fall in a slightly disheveled manner.
Caught off guard, Wen Le instinctively reached out to grab the fallen strands of hair.
Suddenly, Zhou Kao’s hand lifted, and his distinct knuckles clasped the knot of his tie. In a couple of swift motions, he loosened his tie.
Almost uncontrollably, Wen Le’s gaze was fixed on Zhou Kao’s prominent knuckles and his graceful neck. There was an indescribable, blush-inducing sensuality to the way Zhou Kao loosened his tie.
With his tie removed from around his neck, Zhou Kao unbuttoned two buttons of his shirt, revealing an attractive Adam’s apple and collarbone.
Zhou Kao took hold of Wen Le’s hand and helped her gather her hair, which had fallen once more.
He clumsily used his own tie to secure Wen Le’s hair, fashioning it into a makeshift hair tie.
Surprisingly, the tie’s end, hanging alongside her hair, created an unexpectedly appealing sight.
Wen Le held her breath, allowing Zhou Kao to work behind her. She could almost feel his warmth surrounding her in a soothing embrace.
After finishing with her hair, Zhou Kao leaned closer to Wen Le’s ear, his tone gentle and almost imploring as he whispered, “Give me a chance, hmm?”
TN: KYAAAA I’m loving the pace of this chapter! Hope you guys enjoyed reading this as much as I did! 😆