Love's Affliction - Chapter 6-2
The warm sunset spread across the sky, burning with vibrant colors.
With a cigarette in his mouth, Jiang Wang’s gaze fell on her raised chin and smooth neckline, then quickly shifted away. He lowered his eyes, and his lips curved slightly, a rare occurrence.
Suddenly, his scalp tingled.
When he jumped off the wall, he stepped on a dry leaf, making a rustling sound.
Shi Nian Nian’s resistance undoubtedly fueled the fire. The five or six girls on the opposite side immediately stopped spectating and stood up aggressively, as if they were about to teach her a lesson.
Cheng Qi sat directly on the ground and lit a cigarette for herself.
Shi Nian Nian’s arms were pinned down by the group, forcing her to bend towards Cheng Qi.
Cheng Qi extended the cigarette towards her. “Should I burn a pattern on your face with this? Do you think I won’t do it?”
The people around burst into laughter, giving face.
Cheng Qi continued, “Maybe this pain will cure your stutter. Shouldn’t you be grateful to me?”
“Or maybe I should thank you on her behalf.”
A distinct hand reached from behind and plucked the cigarette from Cheng Qi’s fingers.
As the hand pulled back, whether it was due to trembling or something else, the cigarette slipped from his grasp, and a spark fell onto Cheng Qi’s hand, causing her to jerk her hand back in pain.
When she turned her head, she met Jiang Wang’s fierce gaze.
“Jiang Wang!” she exclaimed angrily.
Jiang Wang’s voice carried a hint of laughter, lazy and casual. “Sorry, my hand slipped.”
Cheng Qi and her group were just a bunch of lackeys among the students, but when confronted with someone like Jiang Wang, they didn’t dare to confront him head-on. They all froze in place.
Jiang Wang turned his head, yawned, and extinguished the cigarette butt on the ground.
He lifted his chin slightly at the two people holding onto Shi Nian Nian. “Let go.”
Shi Nian Nian was forcefully pushed away, and Jiang Wang reached out and grabbed her arm.
Then he flicked the cigarette in his hand, and the ashes were blown away by the wind, causing Cheng Qi to immediately cough.
He turned his head, casting a sidelong glance at her. “Thanks.”
They walked, one after the other.
Yesterday, Shi Nian Nian walked in front, but today it was Jiang Wang who led the way.
She only realized now that he was very tall, blocking out the warm orange glow of the setting sun. His short hair exposed a slender ankle beneath his jeans.
Jiang Wang brought her to a restaurant near the school.
With a cigarette in his mouth, his voice sounded a bit unclear. He supported his head with one hand, lazily asking, “What do you want to eat?”
He had returned to his usual self, no longer suppressing others with anger and hostility like last night.
His words always carried a hint of laughter, but it didn’t feel like he was actually laughing. He was carefree, yet arrogant and unruly.
Shi Nian Nian lowered her eyes and looked at the menu.
They were all stir-fried dishes meant to be shared by two people. She flipped to the last few pages and ordered a plate of tomato scrambled eggs with rice.
Jiang Wang ordered a single serving of hot pot.
The food arrived shortly after.
Shi Nian Nian ate with her head down, focused and serious. Her thick eyelashes cast a fan-shaped shadow beneath her eyes.
Jiang Wang stared at her for a while.
Then he asked, “Aren’t you going to the evening self-study session?”
Her voice was very soft, devoid of any emotions, as if the events just now didn’t exist.
She had originally planned to study at school in the evening, but she was dragged out of the school gate by Cheng Qi and her gang. After finishing the meal, she had to climb over the wall to get back in.
The girl ate in small bites, her focus and dedication evident.
“Why did they attack you again?”
She shook her head. “No… they didn’t… hit me.”
Jiang Wang scoffed and knocked off some ash from his cigarette. “So, it’s only considered a hit when their slap lands, right?”
Shi Nian Nian remained silent.
“You’re not going to tell Xu Ningqing?”
“I… I told him… b-but it’s… useless. If th-they… catch me.” She struggled to speak, not lifting her head. Jiang Wan patiently listened to her.
“…Th-they will still… bullied me.”
After all, Xu Ningqing had already graduated, and the group led by Cheng Qi were also privileged second-generation individuals. Even if they could be warned or threatened a couple of times, Cheng Qi and Shi Nian Nian were in the same class, providing plenty of opportunities for them to torment her.
If it didn’t happen openly, there was the fear that it would happen in secret.
“And… I-I… run fast.”
Jiang Wang didn’t know what to say.
After finishing their meal in silence, Jiang Wan stood up, paid the bill, and walked out. Shi Nian Nian followed him, taking out a 10-yuan bill and a few coins from her small change purse.
She had remembered the amount while flipping through the menu earlier.
There weren’t many people on the road. She caught up to him and handed over the money.
Jiang Wang lowered his eyes, looking at the neatly trimmed and rounded nails of the girl’s fingers, raising an eyebrow.
He suddenly felt playful and held her entire hand along with the money.
Jiang Wang’s hand was several times larger than hers, completely enveloping her fist.
She was stunned for a moment, and seeing that he didn’t intend to let go, she raised her head incredulously. Her clear and clean eyes resembled a sprinkling of moonlight.
She struggled twice but couldn’t free herself.
His hand was cool, but being held by it made her feel scorching hot.
Shi Nian Nian’s face turned red. She had never had such physical contact with a boy before, and even if her reaction was slow, she found it strange.
“Let… let go.”
“I saved you just now. How are you going to thank me?”
He effortlessly held her hand firmly, and the narrowed corners of his eyes revealed mischievousness.
“Thank you.” She said the words fluently.
“Just like that? Is a simple ‘thank you’ enough?”
Shi Nian Nian didn’t understand. She didn’t know what more he wanted, so she looked up at him innocently.
Jiang Wang leaned in, his body emanating a compelling heat.
Shi Nian Nian could sense the chilly scent of tobacco mixed with his body warmth, gentle and alluring.
Jiang Wang leaned close to her ear, the corner of his lips curved, and he whispered something.
The girl stiffened, visibly tensing up, her face growing even redder, and a hint of displeasure appeared between her smooth eyebrows and eyes.
After finishing his words, Jiang Wang straightened up.
Her hand was so thin, yet it felt so soft when he touched it.
He couldn’t help himself and lightly brushed his thumb against the back of her hand.
Shi Nian Nian, like a startled cat, swiftly pulled her hand back, finally freeing herself.
“You… have issues.”
She angrily scolded him.
Rubbing the back of the hand that had been held, she glanced at him, then turned around and ran towards the direction of the school.
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