Chapter 185 - New Year's Evening Party

The party started.

The seats in the Grand Hall were fully occupied, while the school board members and teachers were seated in the front rows.

As the curtains opened, the four hosts made their appearance and gave a brief statement. It was then time for the school leaders to make their speeches. Starting from the vice-principal, several school board members went on stage and said a few words of encouragement, either extensively or briefly, to the students.

However, the students didn’t pay any attention.

"Did you see the first row?"

"Yes, I saw. You’re referring to the new guy, right?"

"Yeah, the guy sitting beside the principal. He gives off a young vibe, but I can't see his face."

Everyone was engaged in soft whispers. For the older students who’d attended the previous New Year's evening parties, they had an impression of every person sitting in the front row. But, it was different this year as a young man was seated amongst a bunch of middle-aged people. How would this not attract everyone’s attention?

"…Here, I hope every student can study hard and strive for even greater achievements." The principal made a halfhearted conclusion to his speech.

The students heaved a sigh of relief and clapped. The speech segment was finally over.

Yet, the principal didn't step off the stage immediately. Rather, he raised his hands before lowering them, gesturing for everyone to stop clapping.

"Oh my god! There's more."

"My goodness, why do they have so much crap to say?!"

Some of the students started grumbling.

"For this year's New Year's evening party, our school has invited a very special guest: Director Shen of Hua County’s Shen Corporation. The Shen Corporation have their main businesses abroad. Everyone can go on the net to learn more about them. Director Shen values the talents of our school and has promised to provide a hundred employment opportunities, based either locally and abroad, to our graduates in the coming year. He’s also willing to donate five million dollars to our school's education fund to help provide financial aid to those with financial issues."

The principal paused for a moment. "Now, let us invite President Shen up on stage for a few words."

There was thunderous applause.

"Wow, so he’s the president of Shen Corporation. I just saw the recruitment posting for his new company yesterday. Their compensation package is really good!" An excited graduating student grabbed her friend's hand.

"Don't get so excited! Calm down!" her friend said hurriedly.

"President Shen is so young!" the girl exclaimed.

"Sooooo handsome!!!" Her friend was getting excited.

By the time Shen Zhining stood up, leisurely walked on stage and showed his face, the female audience were hot and bothered.

In reality, most presidents were middle-aged men that had beer bellies and were balding. In short, a dash to one's fantasy.

But now!

Now, everyone saw a living version of the legendary tall, rich and handsome man!

President Shen was like a clear spring in a river full of debris, the visual of the world of presidents. His temperament, his figure, the aura he exuded with each movement, was the embodiment of every girl's Prince Charming fantasy!

"Hi everyone, I’m Shen Zhining."

His magnetic voice spread to every corner through the auditorium speakers.

Ahhhhhh! Even his voice! Is! So! Alluring!

"My goodness, I’ve lost all hope in this world." The female students were extremely excited, while the single male students could only wear helpless expressions.

Say, you’re already rich and don't need to depend on your looks for a living. Why do you have to be so tall and handsome too?! They’d originally planned to use their youth and looks to rid themselves from being forever alone, yet now, they’d even lost in terms of appearance!

Any girl would choose to date a man who is young, rich, good looking, and tall!

"I’m really honoured to be invited to participate in the school's New Year's evening party,” Shen Zhining said on stage. "This school is ranked among the top in China in terms of teaching resources and talent. Of course, my girlfriend studies here as well, hence I feel an affinity with the school."

"Woah~" There was an uproar in the audience.

On one hand, the female students were heartbroken, but on the other hand, they were charmed by his domineering persona.

Because his girlfriend was studying here, he’d donated five million dollars and was providing one hundred job opportunities. His extravagant ‘gift’ left no doubt that he doted on his girlfriend.

"President Shen, is your girlfriend present?" a student cried out boldly.

The young man on the stage smiled. "She's currently backstage."

Backstage! That means President Shen's girlfriend is one of the performers. Who could it be?

On the second floor, near the railing, Liu Lu grabbed Zheng Yuan's arm and exclaimed excitedly, "He really is Sis Jiao's boyfriend! I told you he looked familiar! Hey, Yuanyuan, I’m getting goosebumps all over. He actually did something for our Sis Jiao, ha-ha, I love it!"

"Enough enough, the show is starting." Zheng Yuan was calmer than Liu Lu.

Sure enough, Shen Zhining on stage, who’d just been intentionally or unintentionally showing a public display of affection, disappeared. In his stead was the host of the night.

Apparently, the principal and the others hadn’t expected that President Shen would mention his girlfriend while he was on stage. They hadn't even known that President Shen had a girlfriend who was studying in their school.

"President Shen, who is your girlfriend? Would it be convenient to reveal her identity?" the principal asked with a smile as Shen Zhining returned to his seat. This question was also his means of trying to build a stronger bond with the latter.

"All of you should know her."

We should all know her? The principal nodded with a smile to show that he knew who Shen Zhining was referring to.

"Is it Xu Jiaojiao?" asked the dean of the Foreign Language faculty from his seat directly behind them.

Shen Zhining nodded and said in a parent-like voice, "Jiaojiao has been taking a leave of absence from school for the past six months due to her work. I want to thank the school board and the teachers for their understanding and care towards her."

"It's nothing. Although Jiaojiao took leave of absence from school, she always kept up with her studies. She also got excellent results in her recent exams," said the dean of the Foreign Language faculty.

The performance on stage had already begun, with each performance followed by another.

The hosts maintained the pace of the night well, and the show entered the second half.

After changing into her second set of clothes, the female host made a remark to connect the previous performances before she announced the next act.

"Now, please keep your ears open and welcome Xu Jiaojiao, who’ll be gracing us with a piano solo. Xu Jiaojiao, please!"

Her remark was met with warm applause. After all, Xu Jiaojiao was a well-known figure in school, and many people had come just to see her performance. The male students were very excited. In the hearts of many, Xu Jiaojiao could be considered a dream goddess. With her height, beauty, elegance, and culture, she was simply perfect!

The curtains were drawn as the spotlight shone down. A figure sat in front of the piano placed in the middle of the stage, her side facing the audience, elegant and demure.

Her fingers slid across the keys as a string of notes jumped forth, and the melodious piano sound swirled around the hall.

Recently, a video of Xu Jiaojiao playing the piano had emerged on the internet. Everyone who followed her on social media knew that she could play the piano. Those who’d seen the video were still amazed as they watched her play live, but they were no longer taken by surprise.

But soon, Xu Jiaojiao gave everyone an unexpected surprise.

After a short excerpt, her voice, accompanied by the piano, sounded forth from the speakers. Upon listening to it attentively, it became apparent that she was reciting an English poem.

I believe I am

Born as the bright summer flowers

Unwithered, undefeated, coquettish as fire

I believe I

Died as the quiet autumn leaves

Still in singularity, a gesture like smoke

Let life be beautiful like summer flowers and death like autumn leaves

Unconcerned about what has been

The last note fell and silence reigned.

Supposedly, the host should now appear on stage to have control over the scene and liven up the atmosphere. Yet, for whatever reason, the female host, Xiaoqi, didn’t appear.

Almost everyone in the audience was consumed by their surprise, which explained the calm silence in the hall.

Pa, pa, pa, pa! A slow but firm applause broke out.

Then, others came to their senses and joined the applause.

As the first claps were heard, Sheng Jiaoyang traced the sound and saw Shen Zhining. On one hand, she was surprised by his appearance, but on the other hand, she felt assured. There wasn't any response when she ended her performance, which made her nervous. Then, she saw the critical Shen Zhining applauding, indicating that her performance was a success. She’d only briefly practised playing the piano and reciting poetry in private. It was the first time she’d performed it in front of everyone, so she didn't have any idea how well it would work out.

"Jiaojiao, please stay on stage." The two hosts, who were supposed to be taking a break after presenting the previous round of curtain calls, reappeared on stage.

"Jiaojiao, you had a hidden card up your sleeve! You only played the piano at the rehearsal yesterday, there wasn’t any poetry."

"Yeah, Jiaojiao, this card of yours was really hidden too deep."

"Jiaojiao, can you tell us how you came up with the idea of combining poetry reading with piano playing? Others can only play the piano or sing as they play. But, we’ve never seen anyone who could play such a difficult piece of music while reciting a long poem from memory,” said the male host.

Without waiting for Shen Jiaoyang's reply, the female host smiled. "I'm afraid that it's not that others didn't think of it, but rather, they’re unable to do it!"

"What you said is quite reasonable. Jiaojiao played a world-renowned music composition. The English poem she recited should be ‘Born Like Summer Flowers’ from Tagore's Stray Birds, right? If it were me, I'd have to concentrate all my energy on just reciting this poem. I wouldn't be able to multitask."

"Jiaojiao, did you arrange for such a surprising performance because you knew that others wouldn't be able to accomplish it?" The female host pulled the topic back to Jiaojiao just in time.

Sheng Jiaoyang looked at the audience before she said, "Actually, I didn't think too much about it. At the start, I was planning to only play a piano solo. But someone commented that my performance was lacking something and that it wasn’t good enough. Hence, it resulted in that performance just now."

Under the stage, that ‘someone’ had the corners of his lips raised into a smile.

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Yuna's Thoughts

TL: Cosy | Editor: Purpledragon | TLC: Grace