Being in a foreign country, having someone who trusted her was very important to Xin Qing at this point in time. She had no idea what situation awaited her, though she knew very well that Randa would not spare her easily. If he could steal her design, then he most definitely would not allow her to remain in CK.
Meyer's trust had given her a boost in courage. Xin Qing pushed the door open and stepped into the classroom. As expected, the teacher summoned her to the office and then handed her a piece of paper. "This came from the HQ, saying that you're no longer allowed to stay in the academy due to misconduct."
Xin Qing picked up the paper and glanced at it. It was a notice of dismissal. When she looked back up from the paper, she realized that the uncle who had been teaching her class all this while was not looking at her in disdain. Instead, he was grinning at her widely. "Now you know that hard work alone isn't enough to win you the approval of others. Sometimes, you need courage and intelligence to achieve your dreams." The teacher stood up and held out his hand. "I will announce that you'll be taking a sick leave. Hopefully, we'll be seeing you again before the exams!"
Xin Qing walked out of the academy in a hazy state. Then, all of a sudden, her heart was lightened. She turned her head towards the classroom. Now she could be sure that her teacher, whose name was Elson, was not a simple character at all. He was telling her that she had to find a way to save herself. He even believed that she could do it!
The agitation and apprehension vanished from her heart. Only her fighting spirit remained. Xin Qing was walking in huge, purposeful strides when she headed home. A few days later, she received a phone call from Randa. This time, his voice was surprisingly courteous.
"Xin Qing! You're so much cleverer that I thought."
She chuckled. "Hehe. You flatter me. If I were really that clever, I wouldn't be kicked out of the academy."
Randa went straight to the point. "I won't beat around the bush. Tell me how to create the effect, and I'll let you return to the academy."
"Mr. Randa, do you really think I would hand my hard work over to you just like that?" Xin Qing sneered. "I want the design credited to my name and mine alone."
Furious at having himself humiliated, Randa said, "Who do you think you are, you naive child? You dare threaten me?"
"I'm not threatening you. I'm just taking back what's mine. You think about it and come to me again!" Xin Qing hung up, lowering her head. Her shoulders began to tremble. She fell onto the couch, breaking out in laughter.
"Hehe! Do you really think I'm an idiot?" Xin Qing thought.
Xin Qing had got the inspiration for her design from her childhood. In her design, the entire necklace took the form of the branches and leaves of a tree. The back portion consisted of numerous half-opened water lilies, on top of which sat a butterfly and a small dragonfly. Both the butterfly and the dragonfly had their wings spread out. She had lacquered the water lilies in a well-crafted manner, which gave the design the moist and glistened effect typical of an aquatic plant floating in the water. The shoots of the lilies were made using diamonds, whereas for the pistils and stamens, she had used purple quartz and rubies. A blue Mediterranean gemstone was used as the collet. The leaves were inlaid using dual-pellet techniques. If this piece of jewelry was manufactured, it would amply showcase CK's prowess in terms of craft and skill.
However, what stumped Randa was that once colors were added on top of the water lily's lacquer, the ruby's effect would be ruined. The ruby's color would darken slightly. Randa had tried everything, but yet he was unable to solve the problem. He had even replaced the ruby with rose quartz, which had a better luster than ruby, but he still could not achieve the same effect. He was at his wits' end, which was why he went to Xin Qing. He did not expect the Chinese woman to have a hidden trump card up her sleeves. He bet she knew all along that something like this would happen.
Xin Qing spent the next few days exploring the streets on her bicycle. She visited the legendary "Luxury Street" and bought some souvenirs for Zhang Mi and Shi Qianqian. The examinations were still three days away. Xin Qing knew that CK would get in touch with her soon, since Randa had already shown the client how the final design would look like. He had also offered the price to the client based on that final design. The end product was set to be presented to the client today, but yet he still could not reproduce the same effect as the original design. CK would not allow such a thing to happen. The designer would have to pay the price for his or her mistakes. Paying a compensation fee equivalent to all the gemstones used for the jewelry would be one example. Based on Xin Qing's estimation, that necklace would take at least 8 million to produce.
Unless Randa was prepared to cover the entire cost, he would have no choice but to come to her.
Randa was not the one who called Xin Qing though. It was CK.
"Miss Xin, could you take a trip down here right now?" The voice on the phone sounded courteous.
"Oh," Xin Qing said. "Why should I? Didn't you people fire me?"
"I think there's some kind of misunderstanding here. There has to be a mistake. Look, come down here and let's discuss things. As for the academy, you can return to class tomorrow!"
Smiling, Xin Qing hung up the phone. On the way there, she had deliberately dawdled in order to drag out the time. When she reached CK's front entrance, she saw Kay and another middle-aged man waiting for her. They came up to her the moment they saw her.
"Xin Qing! Here you are. Come on. Let's go inside, and then we'll talk."
It turned out that Randa had decided not to come to Xin Qing after all. He had handed the one he had produced on his own to the client. He had even told the client that the gemstone's effect was inevitable after production, though the client did not believe a single word he said. Randa, on the other hand, had claimed that the effect depicted in the design sheets was impossible to attain. But surprisingly, the client had taken out another sheet of paper, one that contained the exact same jewelry as the one on Randa's, just that the one that the client had was the original. On the original, there were annotations made regarding the special handling of the gemstone to retain its original luster.
Hearing all of this, Xin Qing, too, felt strange. She had indeed lost a version of her design sheets. But she had always assumed that they were lying around at home somewhere. How could someone else have it? That someone else had coincidentally turned out to be the client, no less. Regardless, Randa was screwed this time.
"Who did he say come up with that design?" Xin Qing asked Kay.
Kay smiled at her awkwardly. "He only said that you were in charge of that part." Kay turned away after that, not daring to look at Xin Qing. Kay knew the whole truth all along. Deep down, she really admired this Chinese woman who did something to the jewelry so that Randa had no choice but to go back to her.
The middle-aged man who had received Xin Qing at the entrance looked like he did not get along with Randa at all. As he led the way, he spoke affably to Xin Qing, "Don't be afraid. Just say whatever that's on your mind. The boss would take your side."
Xin Qing was led into a luxurious conference hall. When she walked in and saw the man sitting in the center seat, she went still in shock. After that, everything clicked. She now understood how her original draft had come to be present here. It was him. He had taken it.
"Miss! We meet again," the man greeted her warmly. It was the same man she had run into on the street, the same handsome man who had witnessed her in tears outside of CK.
A woman, who looked to be in her advanced years, sat on the man's right. She wore a top-quality suit and had an astute look on her face. At first, the woman had been eying Xin Qing critically, placing her under scrutiny. However, after hearing the exchange between the man and Xin Qing, the woman was slightly taken aback. "Mr. William, are you acquainted with our student?" she asked.
"Well, I wouldn't say acquainted. We just ran into each other before. Twice, in fact," he said, picking up the design drawing from the table. "The second time, she dropped this."
Smiling, the old woman said, "Mr. William, no wonder you're so dead set on the fact that something had gone wrong with the current design. It seems like you and this jewelry are bound by fate, after all!"
The man named William chuckled. "Hehe. I'd rather you say that this capable young designer of yours and I are bound by fate," he said, still smiling affably. He turned to look at Xin Qing. "Now, then, brilliant designer, tell me how to render the gemstone so that it can produce the same effect as the one drawn on your designs!"
Xin Qing glanced at Randa, who was sitting at one side with a dark look on his face. Her face broke into a grin. "It's very simple. Just coat it with a layer of molten yellowstone."
"Molten yellowstone?" asked the middle-aged man, the one who had led her here. He sounded doubtful. "You mean the yellowstone from China?"
Xin Qing nodded. "Yes. Yellowstone. It's a rare ornamental stone found in China. In the past, only the royal family could use it. Under high temperatures, the yellow-stone will melt into a clear and yellowish liquid. That's its molten form. To prevent the ruby from losing its color and luster, you need to soak it in molten yellow-stone before inlaying it."
"China really has the most amazing things!" said the middle-aged man who had brought her in. He was especially supportive. After hearing Xin Qing's explanation, his face was filled with marvel and wonder.
Xin Qing smiled. "There are no special requirements for the process. Any worker will be able to get the job done."
"Any worker? How can we be so casual about this?" Randa said all of a sudden. "Mr. William, rest assured that Xin Qing and I will personally carry out the process. After all, she was responsible for this part of the design process in the first place. There will be no mistakes this time."
William gave Randa a glance. Even though the mirth in William's eyes had remained, Xin Qing could feel that his smile had gone much colder.
"So, does that mean that Miss Xin Qing had played a role in the design? Why didn't you people tell me before?"
Surprised at the question, Randa glanced at the older woman. Obviously, that woman was the so-called higher-up. The woman glared at Randa. Then she smiled at William and said, "Xin Qing is a new student at the academy. She's joining us as part of her learning experience. Based on our usual protocols, her name would not be credited to any design." The older woman smiled at Xin Qing. "However, you've done very well this time. I will break the usual practice and put your name in the list of contributors to the design. Also, you won't have to take the examinations this semester. This design will be taken as the result of your exams. We'll be giving you high distinction!"
Xin Qing stared at the old woman, whose eyes held an obvious warning look. Xin Qing lowered her head in thought. After a while, she raised her head and smiled at everyone. "Thank you, I'll keep working hard!"
Other than William, everyone else in the room heaved a sigh of relief. The old woman nodded at Xin Qing in satisfaction. "Alright. You may leave. Soon, the academy will notify you about the site for your summer trip!"
With her head held high, Xin Qing gave the door of the conference room a push, opening it. Behind her, Randa's face wore the look of pure defeat, which filled her with pleasure. At that moment, she felt like a nestling who was just beginning to grow feathers. She was ready to soar into the unknown sky.
She was so excited that she sprinted out of CK and began jumping around on the street. After that, she sat quietly on a bench beside the street. She did not move for a long time.
"Why did you hide the truth for them? You came up with that design on your own, didn't you?" A gentle voice rang out. Xin Qing raised her head without bothering with wiping her tears from her face.
"Ah! Mr. Wi-William?" she said, wiping her tears hurriedly.
The corners of William's lips raised as he teased her. "Why is it that every time I see you, you're always crying on the streets?"
"Uh..." Xin Qing had no idea what to say, so she changed the subject. "Are you happy with this design?" she asked.
William nodded. "I like it very much, and I bet its future owner will like it too," he said, smiling. "You still haven't answered my question. Why did you hide the truth?"
"Nobody will benefit if I were to butt heads with them. Besides, it's true that my inspiration came after I looked at Randa's design. So..." Xin Qing shrugged. "The way things are right now is best!"