Chapter 1 - Unlucky Cannon Fodder
At the end of May, the capital was sweltering hot.
Gu Jin wore a white dress and high heels while toting a number of shopping bags. As she stepped out of the taxi and walked toward her apartment, the taxi driver’s lustful eyes followed her swaying figure. After she swiped her card key in the door’s slot, the entrance slid open, causing some cool air to escape.
This building was a high-end double apartment that was located near the Imperial Normal University. It had tight security and well-made facilities at an affordable price. Since two girls occupied one of the two apartments, the decorations throughout the rooms were very feminine.
As soon as Gu Jin returned to her room and put down her shopping bags, she heard a crisp, feminine voice outside her door. “Little Jin!”
Gu Jin frowned and pushed her bags into her closet. Suddenly, Cheng Xin pushed the door open and entered, wearing a pair of pink slippers. Gu Jin felt that Cheng Xin had invaded her privacy. She didn’t like people going into her room without her permission. However, in the female protagonist’s eyes, she and Gu Jin were close enough to even share the same pair of pants, so entering and leaving each other’s rooms on a whim was only natural to her.
“Little Jin, where did you go today? Why didn’t you call me?” Cheng Xin pouted in disappointment. As if it were her room, she sat comfortably on Gu Jin’s bed, before she asked with suspicion, “Is it…is it because you’re trying to avoid me so that you could visit Shao Chong alone?”
“Shao Chong is busy with his work. How could he find the time to hang out with me? It’s getting hot, so my old clothes are no longer suitable. I went shopping today to buy some new outfits.”
“What? You went shopping alone?” Cheng Xin exclaimed.
Since Gu Jin and Cheng Xin were cousins who grew up together, they became best friends. Cheng Xin naturally had a deep understanding of her cousin’s temperament. Gu Jin had always been a quiet, dull, and old-fashioned sort of girl. Shopping was definitely not something she would initiate on her own.
Suddenly aware of her own overreaction, Cheng Xin coughed to hide her embarrassment before angrily scolding, “How could Shao Chong let you shop alone? That’s not very kind of him. Is working more important than spending time with his girlfriend?” She paused to sigh then continued to offer advice. “You’re too lenient. If you just let a man do whatever he wants, he’ll get used to it. I’ll have a meal with Shao Chong to talk to him about it.”
Upon hearing Cheng Xin’s words, Gu Jin raised a brow and smiled silently.
Cheng Xin quickly tried to veer the conversation to another topic with her lively personality and sharp mind. “Oh right, what did you buy? Let me take a look. My boyfriend, Jing Hao, is too overbearing. He often orders his people to send me custom-sewn clothing. I haven’t shopped outdoors in such a long time. Yet, you’re so mean. You didn’t even call me when you went out shopping!” Cheng Xin complained in a falsely upset voice as she kicked her legs in annoyance, wrinkling the bedsheets even further.
If Gu Jin didn’t know Cheng Xin well, she would have assumed that her cousin was showing off. Fortunately, she already prepared herself. Gu Jin forced herself to look away from the messy sheets. She opened the closet, picked one of the shopping bags, then handed it over to her cousin.
“Hey, I bought these for you. I hope you can somewhat forgive me.”
“Really? You got something for me again?!” Cheng Xin suddenly forgot her dissatisfaction and took the bag excitedly. She eagerly pulled out the clothes inside and held them up to her body. “Wow, Little Jin, the dress you bought is really cute!”
It was a fitted, light-yellow dress, trimmed along the skirt with delicate embroidery that added elegance and daintiness. This dress complemented Cheng Xin’s fair skin and tall height remarkably.
After receiving her gift, Cheng Xin forgot to check out Gu Jin’s other new clothes. Unable to contain her excitement, Cheng Xin eagerly returned to her room to try the new item on.
When she reached the door, she remembered how people talked about the importance of reciprocating other’s kindness. She and Gu Jin had similarly shaped bodies, so she turned around to say, “Little Jin, the other day, Jing Hao sent me a dress. I haven’t worn it yet, and it’s very pretty. I’ll give it to you later.”
The corner of Gu Jin’s lips raised a little. She unhesitatingly refused, “No thanks. Since Jing Hao gave those clothes to you, they represent his feelings for you. I’m afraid of disrespecting his wishes.” She added meaningfully, “Besides, is giving someone’s gift away like this appropriate?”
Cheng Xin agreed with her on this. Jing Hao was very possessive. If he knew that she had given his gift to someone else, he would punish her without batting an eye. When she thought of his punishments, her knees weakened and her cheeks flushed red.
She and Gu Jin were best friends and cousins. Both had no lack of money, so they didn’t need to worry about borrowing money from each other.
Cheng Xin happily replied, “Thank you, cousin! I’ll invite you to dinner tomorrow. I love you so much.”
After spending time and effort to send Cheng Xin away, Gu Jin removed her high heels and massaged her sore feet. She looked down at the messy bed with a deep sigh.
In her twenty-plus years of living, the most annoying task that Gu Jin received was the bystander role, “female protagonist’s best friend.” This character should comfort the female lead when she felt down. After transmigrating into this novel world, Gu Jin’s principles were all broken. That was because her cousin was Cheng Xin, the female protagonist of this world. Countless rich and handsome men pursued her.
Gu Jin did not end up transmigrating as a female rival, nor did she end up as an unlucky cannon fodder who would be cast aside by a lover and die a tragic death. On the contrary, she became Cheng Xin’s best friend, the female protagonist’s most trusted cousin.
In the original novel, Gu Jin was born into a scholarly family. She was a child of university professors. Although the family wasn’t as rich as the Cheng Family, they never worried about money. Gu Jin herself was good in all aspects, but because she was too dignified and gentle, her beauty was unreachable, like a flower. What more? When standing next to the lovely protagonist Cheng Xin, her image paled in comparison. Her dull disposition, from her family background to her appearance, cut her chances for a crowd of pursuers.
Fortunately, because she was the female lead’s best friend, she eventually had the privilege of meeting a high-quality man, even though he had once admired Cheng Xin. After the cousins married their husbands, friction occasionally occurred within each couple, but the two women still shared a close friendship.
The novel’s ending was so lovely, that Gu Jin’s luck for transmigrating into this body could be considered as good. She could die peacefully, as long as she followed the original plot by holding onto Cheng Xin’s golden thighs1The meaning of the golden thighs phrase is to signify someone trying to curry favor with someone else. – [Chinese Learning] What is 抱大腿? | KIRIN Mandarin. (2018). KIRIN Mandarin. tightly. However, that only happened in the original work. That ending was simply a fairy tale.
On the night that she transmigrated into this world, a memory suddenly surfaced. This memory came from twenty-six-year-old Gu Jin. In that memory, the first twenty years were the same as those of the original Gu Jin. The descriptions also matched those in the original novel. The only difference was that Gu Jin’s life after marriage was not as beautiful.
Cheng Xin, who was the only daughter of the affluent Cheng Family, had an arrogant and willful temperament since childhood. She was accustomed to being spoiled by others. Before marriage, her small quirks were considered cute and unique. After her marriage to Jing Hao, they were magnified infinitely, causing the husband and wife to clash often.
Whenever she quarreled with Jing Hao, she often called Shao Chong, who was already married to Gu Jin. Whenever Shao Chong received her phone call, no matter where he was or what he was doing, he immediately rushed over to her side. He drank wine with her, opened up about their feelings, then sent the drunk Cheng Xin back over to Jing Hao.
Once. Twice. Thrice.
This happened many times.
The husband Cheng Xin loved the most was on one side of her, while her best friend was on her other side. Therefore, since Shao Chong was a married man his spending time with another woman was suspicious.
Whenever Gu Jin tried to tactfully discuss the issue with Shao Chong, asking him to pay more attention to propriety, Shao Chong impatiently replied, “Don’t worry so much about it. We’re just friends. Since she’s your cousin and you’re her dear friend, shouldn’t you help her relieve her pain?”
Gu Jin was left with no choice but to let things be.
On the day that Gu Jin was kidnapped, the sky was clear and cloudless. The kidnappers forced her to call her husband for money. At that time, she looked so good, that they assumed that she must have been a beloved wife.
However, when she called his phone, he said, “Cheng Xin is supposed to give birth to her child, but it’s taken a whole day and a night. After I check up on her, I’ll call you back!”
Without waiting for Gu Jin to reply, he quickly hung up. Ironically, he didn’t know that Gu Jin had been pregnant with his child for three months. That day, she’d headed out to the hospital for a prenatal check-up, intending to surprise him. However, she never imagined that she would be kidnapped on her way there.
When the twenty-six-year-old Gu Jin passed and returned back in time to her twenties, she refused to involve herself with Cheng Xin’s romantic life and friendships ever again. She also refused to involve herself with Shao Chong. She simply wished to leave their group so that she could find a real love just for herself—a love that she could give her whole heart to and spend a lifetime with.
However, this Gu Jin, who had returned to her early twenties, was suddenly taken over by another “Gu Jin.” Although Gu Jin didn’t take the body over for herself intentionally, she still felt deep remorse. She could only do her best to fulfill the original host’s wishes and make up for it. Just as the original host had desired, Gu Jin planned to stay far away from the female protagonist by avoiding the plot altogether. That way, she would find her love independently and live a life that was more comfortable than she knew before.
In order to prevent the heroine from blacklisting her as someone from the “villainous women” camp, Gu Jin had restrained her urge to tear up the heroine whenever they met. She could only distance her relationship from Cheng Xin with time.
If she remembered correctly, Cheng Xin and Jing Hao signed up for a marriage certificate after graduating from their university. Once that couple had been married for half a year, Gu Jin received a marriage proposal from Shao Chong, and they became husband and wife.
Gu Jin was only three months younger than Cheng Xin. Currently, Gu Jin was in her junior year of college. Under Cheng Xin’s intentional—or unintentional—guidance, the original host was already established as dating Shao Chong for about a month.
Gu Jin picked up her phone and saw that it was Shao Chong calling. If the former Gu Jin were here, she would most likely have picked up the call. The original Gu Jin was always submissive when it came to their relationship. Just now, however…Gu Jin’s lips raised slightly. She threw the phone on the bed, turned away, picked up her clothes, then headed to the bathroom.
Half an hour later, Gu Jin came out of the shower in a bathrobe. Her bare feet left water stains on the floor. Fine droplets of water slid from her hair to her white neck, then caressed her collarbone before disappearing into her alluring white skin. No one was around to witness how fascinating and charming she was with her cold demeanor! Gu Jin blew on her freshly painted red nails to dry, then calmly picked up her phone and unlocked the screen. There were three missed calls and a message. All were from Shao Chong.
[Gu Jin, are you angry and refusing to pick up your phone just because I wasn’t able to spend time with you? Cheng Xin just called me. I’m sorry. I know I’m at fault. I’ve been too busy these days because I couldn’t get away from work. I booked a table at Yuqing Pavilion. The two of you are invited to dinner tomorrow. I’ll be there to treat you both!]
Gu Jin’s sight lingered on the words “the two of you” before casually responding, “OK.”