An Xiaoning felt a chill down her spine. She wondered if he had alighted from his car to chase her because he had recognized her from behind.
She stood rooted and stared at the bouquet of flowers in her hand, which seemed to have lost their vibrancy and beauty.
She watched as the white Bentley drove past her slowly before coming to a halt, not too far ahead.
An Xiaoning began walking towards the spot where Jin Qingyan had parked his car, only to see that he had entered a cafe.
He was seated near the window, facing a couple of familiar faces.
An Xiaoning squinted to have a clearer look and soon realized that it was the very same woman whom she had seen Long Tianze with at the restaurant previously. Yet, she was at a cafe with Jin Qingyan today. Needless to say, it must have been yet another matchmaking session.
She remembered reassuring Mei Yangyang previously, during Long Tianze’s matchmaking session, that it was merely an arranged meeting and that he may not necessarily continue to contact Lin Mingxi. However, now that the same thing was happening to her, An Xiaoning could not help but empathize with how Mei Yangyang had felt the other time. After all, no one could force him to turn up if he truly did not wish to.
After placating her emotions, she straightened her back and hung her head high as she began walking ahead.
She soon arrived at a renowned exercise boot camp academy in A City.
She then proceeded to enter after taking a look at the signboard at the entrance to confirm that she was at the correct place.
As soon as she entered, a sales associate quickly greeted her, “Welcome, would you like to sign up for the boot camp, Miss?”
“Yes, may I know what activities are included?”
“Please come with me. There are three intensities at which the boot camps will be conducted, namely, high, moderate, and low. The paces will be different, and thus, the results and prices will also vary,” said the gorgeous sales associate, Xiao Ke.
“What exercises do the high-intensity boot camps include?” An Xiaoning continued to ask.
“They include taekwondo, wrestling, judo, and several other high-intensity martial arts. On top of that, there’ll also be exercises such as rock climbing, snow mountain climbing, deep sea diving, and many others. Please have a look at this brochure,” Xiao Ke explained as she handed her an information leaflet. “Our coaches here are all world champions in wrestling and taekwondo, respectively. As for the pricing, it’ll be 300 thousand dollars per pax, excluding food and accommodation, for a duration of four months,” she continued.
“What kind of results can I achieve within four months?”
“Those akin to three years of training elsewhere.”
An Xiaoning was well aware that the boot camp academy was a prestigious one, which was the very reason she had chosen it. “When can I begin training once I pay the fees?” she asked.
“You may begin in a week’s time. You’ll belong to the first batch this year. Our trainers will usually take on a maximum of two batches a year, one in the first half and another in the second. Though each boot camp spans across four months, we’d still have to consider the possibility of unexpected circumstances and thus allow some leeway of perhaps an additional month or so.”
“Alright, let me give my friend a call to ask if she’d like to sign up,” said An Xiaoning as she proceeded to call Mei Yangyang on the phone.
Due to the fact that she was busy, Mei Yangyang only answered when An Xiaoning called her for the second time.
“Yangyang, I’m at the exercise boot camp academy to sign up for the boot camp. Would you like to join me? If you’re interested, then I’ll sign up for you as well. But to make things clear beforehand, it’s going to be a high-intensity boot camp comprising of tough and vigorous activities and exercises. I was the one who decided on it. Would you be able to pull through it?”
“If you can manage, I can too! But, how much is it going to cost?” Mei Yangyang exclaimed in delight.
“300 thousand dollars.”
“What! That’s insanely expensive,” Mei Yangyang said with a gasp of astonishment.
“That’s because the trainers are credible and extraordinary world champions. I just need you to tell me if you’re interested. Don’t worry about the cost, I’ll pay for it.”
“Sis, I can’t waste your money like that. 300 thousand dollars is a huge sum to me, I guess I’d better take a rain check. Besides, someone has to tend to the store anyway,” said a touched Mei Yangyang.
An Xiaoning could tell that Mei Yangyang actually wanted to sign up, but the hefty price tag and her responsibilities at the clothing store were holding her back from saying “yes.” However, An Xiaoning did not want the latter to give up the opportunity.
Besides, Mei Yangyang was practically the only close friend she had, and she did not want her to miss the chance to pick up some useful self-defense skills just because of the costly price. Although An Xiaoning indeed loved money, she would still be willing to spend on things she deemed worthy. In this case, that would be paying for her close friend, Mei Yangyang.
“Yangyang, I’ve come to realize after surviving such an ordeal that your very own life is far more important than money. I hope you’ll understand that too. I believe you see me as your own sister, just like I do you. Don’t worry about the store, it’ll be alright since we have surveillance cameras. We’ll replenish stocks by ordering directly from the supplier online and hand the store over to the two of them to keep the business running. It’ll be boring for me to sign up alone, just take it as an invite from me to you. We’ll look out for each other, alright?” An Xiaoning said in a tone of persuasion.
Mei Yangyang was incredibly touched upon hearing her words, for even her biological sister did not treat her as well as An Xiaoning did. In fact, no one else, apart from her parents, could match up to how good An Xiaoning was to her.
“Okay, I’ll listen to you, Sis.”
“It’ll commence a week from now. I’ll proceed to sign us up now, gotta go.”
An Xiaoning proceeded to sign up right away after ending the call and paid the entire sum of 600 thousand dollars in one go, without any delay or hesitation at all.
Xiao Ke was surprised to see that An Xiaoning was both pretty and wealthy. “We’ll give you a call in a week’s time. Remember to bring along a small suitcase containing your personal belongings, such as some clothes and daily necessities. We’ll tabulate the food and accommodation costs altogether later on,” said Xiao Ke while writing An Xiaoning an invoice.
An Xiaoning turned around to leave afterwards.
She then arrived back at the Gu family home. All the members of the Gu family were terribly shocked to hear that she would be joining an exercise boot camp that would be commencing in a week’s time.
“Xiaoning, I doubt even Beicheng can survive such a strenuous and high-intensity boot camp. Are you sure you want to go?” Mrs. Gu asked in disbelief.
“I’ll be joining together with a friend of mine and I’ve already paid for it. I’ll listen to you and rest at home for the remaining week, Mother. Since I’ve already decided to join, I’ll definitely make it home safe. Mother, did you know? I managed to save my own life previously, all thanks to just a few swimming lessons. I’m determined to overcome every life threat I face. The more skills I pick up, the better I’ll be equipped and the greater the chance that I’d be able to defend myself.”
Mrs. Gu gave her an applaud for her courage and bravery before continuing to speak, “Xiaoning, you’ve really impressed me. But, isn’t four months a little too long?”
“Not at all. Within four months, I’d be able to achieve what others would only after three years of normal training. Money is not an issue, what matters is that I’ll get to pick up something useful.”
“Alright, you have all of my support.”
An Xiaoning pulled Mrs. Gu into an embrace and thanked her. “Thank you, Mother.”
“You’re already a big girl, yet you’re still so chummy with me. My greatest regret in this life is not having a daughter, but it’s splendid that I have you now. You’ve really made up for my utmost regret. Xiaoning, it’s truly a great blessing to have you as my daughter.”
An Xiaoning nodded and said, “I don’t know who my biological parents are. You guys are my parents.”
“Why am I feeling bitter about the fact that my mother has a newly-found daughter? I’m going to lose my place in Mother’s heart from now on, aren’t I?” Gu Beicheng interjected, pretending to be jealous.
“You’re all grown up, why are you still so jealous?” said Mrs. Gu, giving him a smack.
“I’m still your son no matter how old I may be.”