James was looking for Nina around the canteen, but he couldn"t find her. He lost his appetite and prepared to go back to the dormitory with chagrin, obviously annoyed. He had planned to see for himself what was so special about Nina. He still couldn"t comprehend how his uncle suffered a loss because of her.
Besides, he heard from Henry that John had been beaten more than once. The last time, John was even slapped across the face. "It must have hurt a lot!" James couldn"t help but rub his face as he thought of the pain inflicted by a slap.
It seemed that those two despondent matters were doomed to exist in John"s otherwise glorious life, both of which were cause by one and the same person, Nina!
The more James thought about it, the more he got curious and wanted to get to know Nina. It was a pity that he missed the chance to get to know her today.
While walking, James was imagining what would happen the next time he saw Nina. Out of the blue, his musing was interrupted by a girl"s cry. He looked around and from a distance, he saw a tall figure with her back to him. Had it not been for the sound of someone weeping, it would have been a beautiful sight.
At first, James didn"t want to meddle in other people"s affairs, but when he looked carefully, he realized that the beautiful girl was none other than Nina herself. Had she slapped someone again? James became curious in what was happening and decided to have a look.
He quickly strode over and saw the crying Isabella. A red palm print was clearly visible on her fair face, and she was biting her lips in a distressed manner with tears in her eyes. She looked so pitiful, which made James feel a bit sorry for her.
"What are you doing?" James asked in an accusing tone as he passed by Nina and pulled Isabella behind him to defend her. "Why did you hit her?"
"Mr. Shi, please don"t blame her. I was at fault," Isabella explained timidly while deliberately covering the mark on her face with her right hand. At the same time, she tugged at the corner of James" shirt with her left hand.
"Is she that intimidating? Why don"t you dare to tell me the truth?" The more Isabella protested in defense of Nina, the more suspicious James became. Like guardian protecting a damsel in distress, James glared at Nina with contempt.
With a calm look on her face, Nina realized that James looked and behaved a lot like his annoying uncle, John. Looking at him, she couldn"t help but purse her lips in dismay.
"What a stupid man!" she thought.
The sound of Nina"s voice fell into James" ears, and he felt an inexplicable emotion. She had a noble and domineering aura, just like John.
Nina was the same and only girl who ever dared to beat John.
When Isabella saw that James hadn"t spoken anything for a long time, she mistook it for him being mesmerized by Nina"s face again. She sobbed pitifully and urged him, "Mr. Shi, thank you for your help. But Nina..."
Isabella blinked her big teary eyes and looked at James pitifully. Then, she glanced at Nina timidly as if she was afraid of her. She lowered her head in defeat and began to sob uncontrollably again. She didn"t forget to drag the corner of James" shirt gently with her left hand.
"What is it? Tell me the truth!" James couldn"t lose face in front of a beautiful girl. He wouldn"t be afraid of a mere girl either.
In the city, no one had ever dared to challenge James except John.
Even this person who had beaten his uncle had no right to challenge him. For his uncle to be beaten, that only meant his uncle was weak.
"Nina called your full name because she has no idea who you are. She didn"t mean to disrespect you. Don"t be mad at her, please?" Isabella pleaded with sincerity for Nina.
In fact, what Isabella was doing was far from pleading, but rather, it was instigation.
The Shi family owned half of the city and was the top among the three most powerful families. Because of the great power of the Shi family, everyone would treat James with utmost courtesy.
Only Nina, a stupid, ignorant girl from the countryside, would know nothing and dared to call him in such an impolite way.
He was, first and foremost, the favored man of the Shi family.
When James saw Isabella"s tear and snot, he pushed her hand away in disgust and scolded her angrily, "You are from the Zhang family. Why are you afraid of someone like her? How did she hit you? Why don"t you hit her back?"
For James, he wouldn"t concede about something like this. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth was his motto How come the apple of the eye of the Zhang family and the Fang family was so spineless and useless?
Isabella"s eyes twinkled. She hid behind James and explained hesitantly, "I...I don"t dare to hurt her. She is the one that Albert likes and she is under his protection."
"What?" Nina, who had been watching the show by the side, was suddenly confused. How did Albert get involved in this conversation?
Isabella used to be good friends with Nina. She knew very well that
Albert and Nina were just ordinary friends. She was indeed really good in stirring up unnecessary trouble for Nina.
"You mean Albert, who is from the Song family?" James asked in disbelief.
Isabella nodded in agreement.
"What are you afraid of? Do you think the Song family would dare to hurt me? I hate people who bully the weak. Does she think that she can do anything in the city just because she has Albert as her boyfriend?" Only he, James, was the one who was more powerful than Albert in the city.
Nina thought the conversation between Isabella and James was getting more and more ridiculous. Nina watched them coldly for a long time, and finally realized what Isabella was scheming about. She guessed that the play would soon come to an end, and she had no patience to watch it anymore. It was time for her to show up and prove her innocence.
"Are you saying that I slapped you?" Taking a step forward, Nina gently pushed James" shoulder with just two fingers and aloofly looked with annoyance at Isabella"s red and swollen face.
"No, no..." Isabella lowered her head in obvious fear and began to sob again. She looked so pitiful that everyone who saw her would want to protect her.
"You did it! I saw it with my own eyes!" James insisted with certainty that it was Nina.
"James Shi, get out of the way," Nina said calmly. She didn"t want to start any conflict with him.
Ever since she had offended John, she slightly investigated the Shi family. She found out that the family held a high status in society, so she had to try her best to avoid them as much as possible. In case something happened, she didn"t want to be exposed.
"I won"t allow you to bully a girl in front of me." James stretched his hands in order to stop her.
Nina"s patience had run out by then, so she pulled Isabella from behind his back and stared at her with menacing eyes.
"Didn"t you say that it was me who slapped you? Look carefully at what I am going to do to you!"
"Nina, what are you doing?" Isabella stepped back, her horror noticeably visible.
Unfortunately, it was too late for her to dodge.
Nina"s hand landed on Isabella"s left cheek. The clear sound of the slap stunned James that he was left speechless as he was rooted to the spot.
His first thought was not out of concern about Isabella being beaten, but he was left wondering whether his uncle had also been beaten up like this. Considering that Nina had not yet paid for what she had done until now, there must be something fishy going on.
Isabella staggered back and almost lost her balance after having been forcefully slapped. Her face was burning with pain and humiliation. Compared with this slap, the slap she gave herself was nothing.
"Nina, how dare you hit me!" Her scarlet eyes were wide open in surprise, and she was about to tear Nina apart like a madwoman.
However, she hadn"t expect Nina to be so agile that she would be able to dodge her meager attacks nimbly, thus making Isabella miss her target.
Nina stretched out her hand again to hold Isabella"s right hand. She made Isabella slap herself in her own right face, which left another slap mark on it.
When Isabella slapped herself just now, her right hand slapped her right face. With Nina standing opposite to Isabella, Nina"s used her right hand to slap Isabella"s left face. With this evidence, it was clear that Isabella"s right face was slapped by her own hand, which was still held forcefully by Nina.
There were now three different palm prints on her face, and it looked quite spectacular.
"Look, this is the slap that I gave her." Nina pointed at Isabella"s face as she casually explained it to James.
Then he squinted his eyes at Isabella"s red and swollen face. There were obviously different palm prints.
The light palm print was upward showing the fingertip, and the deeper one was in the direction of the ear.
Being stared at by James in close proximity made Isabella feel guilty.
She quickly covered her face and lowered her head to sob again.
When she hadn"t covered her face with her hands, James hadn"t figured it out yet. But the moment when she covered her face with her hands, the light palm print on her face was completely covered by her right palm.
All of a sudden, he was enlightened and it finally dawned on him.
After slapping Isabella, Nina was in a much better mood. She patiently explained to a fascinated James, "When I stretched out my hand and slapped her, my fingers were extended to the back of her head. When she slapped herself, her fingertips were in the direction of her temple."
In an instant, Isabella"s plot had been exposed and she couldn"t hide her pretense anymore.
Isabella shook her head in fear and vehemently denied, "No, it"s not like that. I didn"t slap myself. Nina was really the one who had slapped me, Mr. Shi."
"How dare you use me!" James roared in anger. When he came to his senses after having been made a fool of, he was so enraged that he wanted to give her another slap in the face.
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