The fact that a food hog like Su Chan was sitting there quietly with the rest of her food untouched was telltale sign that the mood for lunch was ruined. Li Yundong and Su Chan's appetites had, apparently, departed together with the two obnoxious women who had just left.

"Come on, guys. Just ignore them. Why bother with women like them? They're clearly a bunch of money-worshipping snobs," Feng Na said, trying to lighten the mood.

When she got no response, Feng Na shared a glance with Cheng Cheng, then continued, "I mean, take the woman just now for example. She had luxury brands all over her. Dior clothes, LV bags, Uniqlo shoes, CK cologne... Need I go on?"

Li Yundong suddenly raised his head, thus ending his staring contest with his tray. He eyed Feng Na suspiciously for a moment, then said, "You just recited the names of those brands... I mean, you barely glanced at her just now..."

Mild awkwardness crept into Feng Na's smile. She didn't comment, but averted her gaze instead. Please don't put me in the same category as those bitches... please...

Cheng Cheng caught on to the insinuation behind Li Yundong's question.

"Come on, Li Yundong. Every woman likes to doll herself up, even those who aren't snobs or who aren't vain. There isn't a single woman out there who doesn't like luxury clothes or fancy jewelry, I assure you."

Cheng Cheng's words struck a chord with Li Yundong. He sneaked a glanced at Su Chan, and instantly felt a stab of guilt in his heart.

Moments later, he shook his head.

"Never mind," he said, standing up. "I'm heading back to class."

He pulled Su Chan to her feet, then led her away from the table.

A few steps away from the table, Li Yundong halted and turned back around.

"Where will Zhou Qin's party be held?" he asked.

"Shengyuan Hotel, seven-thirty," Feng Na said.

Li Yundong nodded, then left the cafeteria with Su Chan.

 

***

 

Li Yundong and Su Chan arrived at the lecture hall and realized that they were the first ones there, which made sense since they came early. They walked past the lectern and moved to the back of the lecture hall, then took their seats in the last row.

Li Yundong had picked the last row because it was the perfect spot to doze off during the lecture without getting caught by the professor. It was definitely the right choice considering he would be having an English lecture next. He supposed the only plus of having an English lecture next was that Kris and their other American friends wouldn't be joining them.

Good. He'd had enough sheep poos or cheap poos for one day.

Su Chan and Li Yundong sat there, staring off into space. Neither of them spoke.

Cheng Cheng's words echoed inside Li Yundong's mind. All women loved pretty clothes and fancy jewelry.

After a while, Li Yundong realized that it made sense. Those things do make women happy whether they are snobs or not. Snobbishness, in this case, is merely a question of whether they judge others using these material things as a standard.

Su Chan's loud yawn pulled Li Yundong out of his musings.

Then, he felt the weight of Su Chan's head on this shoulder.

"Su Chan..." Li Yundong said all of a sudden.

"Hmm?" Su Chan slurred.

"Let me take you to the mall after class, okay? I want to get you some new clothes."

Su Chan ducked her head under Li Yundong's arm, then snuggled against his chest.

"No... I don't wanna," Su Chan mumbled, rubbing her face against his chest. "I just wanna sleep... Let me sleep..."

Li Yundong glanced down at Su Chan, unsure of whether she really meant it. Beyond the basics such as not being an asshole and always being a respectful gentleman, he had no idea what "treating a girl right" entailed. If his 21 rejected love confessions in the past were any indication, he definitely needed a little Dating 101. Preferably right about now.

Surely, buying clothes for one's significant other was a key ingredient in a healthy relationship?

Li Yundong cleared his throat, then nudged Su Chan a few times. "Come on, just let me buy a nice dress for you," he said. "Just one piece. What do you say?"

"Mmmmmm," Su Chan whined, curling up like a kitten. "Don't wanna. The clothes I'm currently wearing are good enough. They're comfortable." Su Chan rubbed herself against him a few times, then fell silent.

Hey... Wait a minute, Li Yundong thought. What happened to the red traditional dress she wore when we first met?

Had she stashed it away?

He didn't recall seeing it among their suitcases when they unpacked the other day.

Weird.

Is that dress suitable for the party though? Li Yundong mused. I bet she'll drop a lot of jaws if she shows up in that dress. Let those f*cking snobs have a taste of what true beauty means...  

Memories of the morning they first met flooded Li Yundong's mind. His lips curved into a subtle smile when he remembered the way Su Chan had cast a spell on the students by showing up on campus in that beautiful dress.

He dropped his gaze and looked at Su Chan, who was already fast asleep against him. Gently, he shifted into a comfortable posture, then sat there, waiting for class to start. He didn't move an inch lest he disturb Su Chan and wake her from her beauty sleep.

As the start of the lecture drew near, students began filing into the lecture hall. Eventually, the chatter became loud enough to rouse Su Chan from her peaceful slumber. She shifted against him, then sat up, rubbing her eyes groggily. The sound of the door opening drew Li Yundong's attention to the entrance at the front of lecture hall.

He was granted the rare sight of Zhou Qin sauntering into the room, alone.

No Ding Nan? Li Yundong thought. Huh. Interesting.

Zhou Qin froze the moment she saw him. Even though he was sitting at the back of the lecture hall, Li Yundong could detect the hesitance in her eyes. What was that about? Before he could delve deeper into that thought, Zhou Qin was making her way towards his seat.

Zhou Qin gave Su Chan a courteous nod when she stopped at his row. After that, she looked at Li Yundong.

"Don't forget it's seven-thirty tonight, okay?" Zhou Qin said, adding a wink and a smile at the end.

Okay... what? Li Yundong thought, stunned by Zhou Qin's out-of-character behavior.

Zhou Qin wasn't known as the ice queen for nothing. Cold and aloof was her schtick, not winking and smiling and... God, he didn't even know what that was.

Was she flirting?

Nah, that couldn't be right. She'd rejected him before.

But if it wasn't flirting, then what was it?

Why was the ice queen of Tiannan University acting like a playful teenage girl all of a sudden?

One undeniable fact was that Zhou Qin was gorgeous. She was practically perfect: bright and sparkly eyes; face shaped like melon seed; thick and dark brows; lashes so long and thick that he really wondered if she could even see through them.

Her long navy blue shirt accentuated her pale complexion, not to mention the plaid miniskirt she wore which revealed a pair of long, toned legs. She was beauty, elegance, and sexiness in one package.

Li Yundong had to physically shake himself out of his stupor. As expected from an upper-class beauty queen.

Her looks could literally kill.

Li Yundong nodded in greeting.

"Seven-thirty? Won't your guests starve to death by then?" Li Yundong said jokingly. "You'll be serving food, right?"

A brief moment passed with Zhou Qin looking at him as though she hadn't understood what he said. Then, she smiled.

"Come earlier," Zhou Qin said. "Food will be served."

"Sure," Li Yundong said, chuckling. "Who am I to turn away free food, right?"

Zhou Qin smiled elegantly. "Alright then. See you there."

Li Yundong gave Zhou Qin a nod, then watched her walk away. Only when Zhou Qin took a seat in the front row, did he finally tear his gaze away.

Then, he was hit by a wave of crushing guilt. How could he be staring at Zhou Qin when Su Chan was sitting right next to him!

Li Yundong shook his head and gathered his thoughts.

Yes, Zhou Qin was beautiful. But his past experience of being constantly rejected by women had taught him one thing — love and beauty are two different things altogether.

One wanes with the passage of time while the other has the potential to last throughout eternity.

 

***

 

After the lecture, Li Yundong led Su Chan off-campus, then hailed a cab outside the gates. He told the driver to take them to Shengyuan Hotel.

When their cab dropped them off at Shengyuan Hotel's grand entrance, they didn't enter right away. No, grand was by no means an understatement. The place was a freaking 58-story monolith and a six-star hotel.

The fact that this building hadn't been listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World was a... well, wonder, in and of itself, since the architects clearly knew what they were doing when they came up with its design. With it's pointed top, and tapering body, the building looked like a massive crystal prism. Amidst the evening sun, the prism-shaped monolith glowed beautifully with a dark, golden hue.

The main entrance consisted of four revolving doors. In front of each revolving door was a flower basket, which, Li Yundong noticed, was filled with freshly picked flowers.

"Holy mother of God on a Pogo stick..." Li Yundong whispered. Then, a wave of doubt crept into his psyche. All of a sudden, he had this irrational idea that his feet might dirty the floor of such a magnificent building. He felt like a bumpkin about to step into a palace.

Well, at least the bellboy wasn't snobbish; he invited them both into the building courteously. Li Yundong would've given the bellboy a tip if the guy hadn't allowed his gaze to linger on Su Chan when she walked through the revolving door. Besides, he highly doubted that a few measly 100 yuan bills would even count as a tip for a bellboy employed in such a high-class hotel.

Once again, the architects of the Shengyuan Hotel didn't disappoint. The moment they stepped into the main lobby, Li Yundong realized that the floor was constructed from transparent glass, with colorful pebbles filling the space under the glass. Under the lobby's dim lighting, the pebbles glinted mildly. It was like they were walking on clouds.

What an awesome building this is... Li Yundong thought, then smiled wryly. If Zhou Qin hadn't invited him to her party, he probably wouldn't have had the chance to set foot in a place like this.

 

***

 

Indeed, a place like this was filled with people from the upper-class. Not a single person there wasn't dressed opulently. Men strode around in tailored suits and perfectly combed hair, while women pranced about in dresses that probably cost more than a second-hand car.

Most of them were, of course, snobs. However, even snobs recognized beauty when they saw it; when Li Yundong and Su Chan walked across the lobby, not a single one of them didn't stop and stare. Their looks of admiration didn't last long, though. Soon, they were replaced with contempt and disdain, no doubt because they noticed Su Chan and Li Yundong's clothing.

At the end of the day, snobs were still snobs.

 

***

 

Li Yundong was starting to regret showing up at the venue this early. For one, he didn't have a frigging clue where in this effing monolith of a building the party was supposed to be held. They were here so early that the hotel's event directory hadn't even been updated yet, and there was a super long queue at the reception counter.

After fumbling around for a while, Li Yundong plucked up his courage and stopped a passing bellboy.

"Um... Excuse me, can you tell us where Miss Zhou Qin's birthday party will be held?"

"Miss Zhou Qin..." The bellboy paused in thought. "That name doesn't ring a—"

"Did you ask about Miss Zhou Qin?" another voice cut in.

Li Yundong turned and saw a man in a different uniform walking up to them. Lobby manager, Li Yundong thought after he caught a glimpse of the man's name tag.

"Yes, Miss Zhou Qin. She's hosting a birthday party here," Li Yundong said.

"Good evening, sir," said the lobby manager. "And may I ask who you are?"

"I'm her classmate," Li Yundong answered frankly.

"Ah, I see," said the lobby manager. "Miss Zhou Qin's birthday party will be held on the third floor. Take a right turn after you get off the elevator, and you'll see it."

"Thank you," Li Yundong said, nodding politely to the lobby manager.

After they got off the elevator on the third floor, they took a right turn as per the lobby manager's instructions. Indeed, they saw a black signboard with Zhou Qin's name on it.

Li Yundong smiled at Su Chan.

"We're at the right place," he said. "But it seems like we're too early. We're the only ones here."

"Isn't that man here for the party as well?" Su Chan said, pointing somewhere behind him.

He turned around and saw a man smoking a cigarette.

Li Yundong smiled at Su Chan. "Well, what say we go greet the guy?"

 

***

 

Li Yundong and Su Chan had no idea that this "greeting" would soon turn into a disaster.

The smoker was a man dressed in an expensive Armani suit. On the whole, he looked pretty handsome, though in a dark and gloomy sort of way. If this were a funeral, the guy would fit in perfectly. The man's back was to Li Yundong and Su Chan when they approached.

Once Li Yundong was about a foot away, he said, "Hello, are you here to attend Zhou Qin's birthday party as well?"

Mr. Armani turned around at the sound of Li Yundong's voice and was instantly stunned by Li Yundong's appearance. Damn... this guy looks so handsome and charismatic! he thought.

One would think that a handsome man would be more than happy to make another handsome man's acquaintance. Alas, Mr. Armani was the bigoted and narrow-minded type; he couldn't stand it when he saw someone who was better looking than him. Li Yundong was the first in a long time.

"Who are you supposed to be?" Mr. Armani said in a tone of malice.

Li Yundong took Mr. Armani's hostility in stride. He didn't want to cause trouble for Zhou Qin. Besides, he had run into enough trouble already over the past week.

"I'm Zhou Qin's classmate," Li Yundong said courteously. "We’re here at her invitation."

Surprise and anger coursed through Mr. Armani.

Zhou Qin had rarely taken the initiative to invite others to her birthday party. It had always been the same all these years — Zhou Qin let her parents decide whom to invite.

Surprise soon turned into jealousy.

Mr. Armani's eyes scanned Li Yundong's body from head to toe. Plain. Nothing special about his clothes, he thought. Maybe he's just modest? Some powerful people like to dress modestly. He must have a pretty strong social background if Zhou Qin personally invited him to her party...

Just then, Li Yundong shifted slightly to the side, revealing Su Chan who had been obscured from Mr. Armani's view during the conversation.

Mr. Armani's jaw dropped to the floor when he saw Su Chan. Never in his life had he thought that he would one day meet a woman whose beauty surpassed that of Zhou Qin.

It seemed like he had just been proven wrong today.

 

***

 

Li Yundong did not like the way this douchebag was looking at Su Chan. Not one bit. Why was it that every damn time he brought Su Chan out men would leer at her like she was nothing but a piece of meat?

Right. Stupid question. Because she was f*cking gorgeous, that was why. Relax, Li Yundong... No more trouble, remember? Instead of ripping out the douchebag's balls, Li Yundong cleared his throat harshly to get his attention.

Douchebag stopped his ogling and turned back to Li Yundong. Hah. At least the guy knew what was good for his gonads and general well-being.

For a moment, Li Yundong and Douchebag were locked in a staring contest, until Douchebag began ogling Su Chan again.

Eyes over here, pal...

However, upon closer look, Li Yundong realized that Douchebag's expression wasn't filled with lust like before; it was filled with disdain and disgust.

 "You're Zhou Qin's classmate, you said?" Douchebag said, breaking the silence.

Douchebag gave Li Yundong a sidelong glance, those mocking eyes scanning Li Yundong's body from head to toe.

F*cking snobs...

Li Yundong reined in his anger, though his voice was cold when he spoke next.

"Yes, I am," Li Yundong said. "Call her yourself if you don't believe me."

Douchebag released a loud sneer.

"Nope, that's not necessary," he said. "I won't allow you to enter the party even if you really are Zhou Qin's classmate!"

Douchebag, it seemed, had just been upgraded to Douchebag 2.0.

"And why's that?" Li Yundong growled.

Douchebag gestured at Li Yundong's body.

"Look at what you're wearing?" he said, rolling his eyes. "Where do you think this is? A fish market? This is a formal event, for heaven's sake. At least show the host some courtesy by not showing up dressed like a bumpkin."

Then, Douchebag pointed a finger at Su Chan without taking his eyes off Li Yundong.

"And look at your date. Tsk, tsk! You dressed her in such tattered clothes, and then brought her to an upscale event like this? Honestly, I pity the poor girl." Douchebag snorted. "Here's some free advice pal, don't date beautiful women if you're flat broke. A beautiful girl like that doesn't deserve to be dragged into your bumpkin lifestyle. Got it? Now, get out of here. I don't have time to waste my breath on you."

Li Yundong would've punched a hole in Douchebag's face if Su Chan hadn't pulled him back in time. Before he could say anything else, Su Chan dragged him away with an astonishing amount of strength.

The last thing Li Yundong saw before he was pulled around the corner towards the elevator, was the look of contempt on the guy's face.

 

***

 

He Shao snorted as he watched Li Yundong's figure vanish around the corner of the corridor.

The door of the banquet hall opened, and a tall, curvaceous, and fashionably dressed woman stepped out. Ding Nan had been here handling the preparations for Zhou Qin's birthday party since this morning. She had even skipped her classes.

"He Shao, who were you talking to just now?" Ding Nan asked, staring along the stretch of the corridor.

He Shao brought his cigarette to his lips, then took a deep pull from it. After that, he blew a smoke ring at Ding Nan and laughed flippantly.

"Oh, nobody important. Just a couple of beggars," He Shao said. "Don't worry, I sent them away."

Frowning, Ding Nan waved the smoke away from her face.

"Tsk, what are you talking about? There's no way a beggar can get in here. Argh, whatever. Just quit slacking off and give me a hand."

 

***

 

"Why did you stop me!" Li Yundong roared. "F*cking son of a bitch! I'm gonna rearrange his face with my fist. Let him spend all his snobbish money on plastic surgery!"

Li Yundong felt a squeeze in his hand.

"Beloved..." Su Chan said in a low and guilty voice. "Did my ugliness cause you trouble?"

Just like that, every ounce of anger left Li Yundong.

"Nonsense," Li Yundong said, lifting Su Chan's chin. "You're the most beautiful woman in the world. That son of a bitch has shit for eyes, that's all."

Su Chan smiled weakly. Even a blind fool could see that the smile was forced.

"Um... Then why don't you go back in there for the party," she said. "I'll wait for you here."

Li Yundong's heart was reduced into a pile of goo.

"Stop that kind of talk," Li Yundong said, flicking Su Chan's forehead. "Why won't you come in with me?"

Su Chan smiled.

Again, her smile seemed forced.

"The man said I'm poorly dressed right? So maybe everything will be alright as long as I don't go..."

Emotions churned inside Li Yundong, tearing his insides apart.

Li Yundong pulled Su Chan tightly against his side and said, "I have a better idea. I'm gonna turn you into a beautiful princess and let those snobs eat their words!"