Chapter 53: Covergirl
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
The two core players of Yingcai High’s soccer team were regarded by the rest of the team as very odd individuals. Sima Hongxin, the ke,eper was huge and did not say much. He was unlike the keepers from other teams, who tended to shout a lot on the pitch. He would just stop all of his opponent’s balls from entering the goal in silence without ever bragging about it; a silent but effective goalkeeper.
Ma Ni on the other hand, was the opposite. He could not keep his mouth shut for more than half an hour! And, it would have been fine if that was only the case, but Ma Ni was toxic. He was always belittling others, and being boastful. In spite of that, no one dared to confront him for his rudeness, mainly because out of fear for his family. It was one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in the region. The silence of those around him only served to inflate Ma Ni’s ego, deluding him into thinking that he really was “charismatic”.
With that kind of attitude, it was no wonder that Ma Ni had no friends. But, the one person he had that was closest to a friend, was Sima Hongxin. Even so, their relationship was not exactly that close. They were only friends when they were on the field. Off the field, Sima Hongxin wanted nothing to do with him, especially when it involved things like blackmailing and match-fixing. While he was somewhat aware and worried about Ma Ni’s shady dealings, he was not the kind to pry into other people’s personal lives. Hence, he chose not to get involved in Ma Ni’s matters, even if he knew that the problem could possibly grow into a bigger one in the future.
Yingcai High’s team started strong in the tournament with two 4: 0 victories, sending them into the top 16 bracket. And, in their final eight matchup, Ma Ni scored two goals against Zhong Xin, giving them a 2: 0 victory and securing them a place among the top eight teams. The whole team was now in a celebratory mood as though the players had all forgotten about the discord among themselves. Winning had always been enough to make people forget just how dissatisfied, unhappy, and insecure they were.
Ma Ni’s impressive record over the last three matches had also silenced those who always said that he became a core player due to family connections, not skill. Three matches, three wins, ten goals and no misses—a really impressive record! Even the reigning champs, Zhongyuan High only managed to get eight goals at this stage!
With the highest cumulative goals in the game, the Yingcai High team continued to set their target higher and higher, like the Nasdaq Composite index! They started the season wanting to get into the final 16, then they aimed for the final 4 in their second match. Now, after their third, they wanted to beat Zhongyuan in the finals like they did in their warm-up match, and go on the road to nationals!
However, while they were high on their undefeated streak and dreaming of making it to the nationals, the Yingcai High players seemed to have completely forgotten about an upcoming hurdle in their quest for glory. Their next opponent was none other than the Shu Guang High soccer team. It was at its peak with Zhang Jun at his best.
Zhang Jun could not believe his luck. He had already been to a few newsstands, but he still could not get the latest issue of High School Soccer. “Sorry, we’re sold out!” That was the reply he kept on getting from all the vendors.
“This is ridiculous. They’ve never sold out this fast before! Not even that time when Zhongyuan High became champs!” Zhang Jun complained as he ran towards the next closest newsstand he knew. But by the time he finished searching all the newsstands within a mile from his home, he returned empty-handed and disappointed. Every newsstand he went to repeated the very same thing to him: High School Socce r was completely sold out!
But his disappointment quickly disappeared, because as soon as he got home, he found Su Fei sitting next to his bed with her eyes glued to the latest issue ofHigh School Soccer . She was absolutely absorbed in the magazine, and even giggling occasionally from reading it.
Zhang Jun quickly walked up to her to check out the cover, only to find that it did not feature him with his recent hat-trick; or Li Yongle, who was quoted as the best player in his recent match; or the despicable Ma Ni. Instead, the cover of the magazine featured… a picture of Su Fei smiling radiantly! Zhang Jun instantly understood why the issue sold out so fast.
Sh*t! Since when did High School Soccer become Playboy? h e thought to himself. Looking at the cover again, he could not deny that Su Fei looked really photogenic. Wearing only a simple round-neck tee with no makeup, and nothing else except for that beautiful smile on her face, she was as good a covergirl as any other female celebrity.
But the longer Zhang Jun stared at her picture, the more his face contorted. He realised that by now, Su Fei’s photo was also in the hands of many unknown men. He was not claiming her for himself, or claiming that she was exclusive with him. But, the idea that there were many strange guys out there like An Ke, who would touch and grope parts of a celebrity’s photo on a magazine could be doing the same thing to her’s right now, sent shivers down his spine. Imagining the lewd acts these a**holes could be doing to Su Fei’s picture right now was driving him crazy!
Just as he was about to completely lose it, Su Fei suddenly looked up from the magazine and saw him standing next to her, grabbing his hair with his hands. “What’s wrong with you?” she asked in an anxious voice. She was shocked and unaware of the things going on in Zhang Jun’s head.
Zhang Jun came back to reality and looked at her. When he did, his eyes met the eyes of a concerned-looking Su Fei. He felt his soul being drawn into those clear, innocent, puppy eyes of hers. Zhang Jun found himself getting lost simply by staring into her eyes. His heartbeat hastened and he quickly shook his head to snap himself out of it.
“What’s the matter?” Su Fei asked again. Her voice was soothing to his ears, with a gentleness he could not describe.
“Not-Nothing.” Zhang Jun tried to keep himself together. This was the first time his heart beat unusually fast while he was alone with her. What’s wrong with me? he wondered. Is it because of that cover? ”
“If it’s nothing, why are you pulling your hair and shaking your head like that?”
“mm, that’s because… I have an itch! I think I may have some dandruff!” Zhang Jun quickly came up with a “brilliant” excuse and tried to change the subject. He wanted to prevent her from diving too deep into her question.
“How did you manage to get one? I’ve been running around every newsstand but I couldn’t even find one,” he said as he pointed at the magazine in her hand.
“Oh, this? Uncle Chen sent it by mail. He says it’s thanks for letting him interview me twice,” Su Fei said. The Uncle Chen she mentioned was none other than Chen Huafeng. But, unlike Zhang Jun who would get too friendly with seniors or elders, and call them by their names, she preferred to show respect and good manners by addressing them with their titles.
“So, that’s how it is! Then, the cover’s definitely his idea!” Zhang Jun retorted.
“Hehe! Isn’t it nice?” Su Fei held the magazine in front of her chest, copying her pose on the cover and smiling at Zhang Jun.
“Hmph!” Zhang Jun snorted before smiling and said, “Yes, yes, it looks great! Miss, can I have your autograph?” From somewhere in his room, he pulled out a marker and a notepad.
“You don’t like it?” Su Fei asked him.
“You don’t like me doing this?”
“What are you talking about?! It’s up to you if you want to get interviewed or become a covergirl. What does it have to do with me?” Zhang Jun said as he flipped through the magazine, not looking up to see her.
Hearing his answer, Su Fei picked up her bag and said, “I’m going home.”
Zhang Jun finally looked up at her. “So soon? Don’t you want to hang out a little longer?”
“Nah, I came here straight after school. Mom should be worried sick by now. You can have it,” she said while pointing at the magazine.
“You… came here just to give me this?”
“Yup! I figured that you wouldn’t be able to get one yourself,” Su Fei teased as she left.
“Fei Fei is that you? Did you just get home?” Su Fei’s mother popped her head out of the kitchen when she heard the front door open. She was busy in the kitchen when Su Fei returned home.
“Yeah. I was at Zhang Jun’s place. Just wanted to give him a magazine,” she replied as she headed into her room.
Setting her bag down on top of her desk, she proceeded to throw herself onto her bed. As she lay there and stared at the ceiling, she took a small trinket out from her pocket and admired it. It was a bracelet that she had handcrafted out of string. It was all red, except for the words where she used white string to make them stand out: “Zhang Jun”.
Su Fei continued admiring her craftsmanship for a while. It had taken her two days to make and she did it secretly over her 18 classes in school. She did not really know how to go about it when she first started and ended up ruining it a few times. But luckily, she was clever enough with her hands and quickly became adept at making the bracelet.
Su Fei was really satisfied with her work. She put it on her wrist to see how it looked like when being worn. However, her wrist was simply too thin to make the bracelet look decent, so she thought about tying it to her ankle instead. But, she suddenly lost interest in trying it out and ended up staring at it blankly in her hand.
“Let me see your arm.”
“Come on! Let’s see who’s arm is bigger!”
“Hehe! Your arm is a lot bigger than mine!”
“Nonsense! If it’s thinner than yours, won’t that be a problem?”
“You don’t like it?”
“You don’t like me doing this?”
“What are you talking about?! It’s up to you if you want to get interviewed or become a covergirl, what does it have to do with me?”
Tears rolled down her face and onto the bed.
Zhang Jun was still in his room; his eyes glued to the latest issue of High School Soccer . This issue’s featured piece was without a doubt, an interview with Su Fei, with the title aptly coined by the editor-in-chief, Liu Yang: “Su Fei’s World.”