You Have the Right to Keep a Secret Love

Chapters List

Chapter 2: Destined to Meet

Qi Xi couldn't remember how she managed to endure the graduation ceremony; even after officially leaving school that night, she still felt somewhat dazed about the past few hours.

Zhao Yiran sat across from Qi Xi, her roommate and close friend for four years. She always believed in the doctrine of the mean, maintained above-average grades, barely passed the judicial exam, and had none of Qi Xi's competitive spirit. Zhao Yiran opted for a safe and conventional path by taking the civil service exam, and now she had successfully secured a position in the court, awaiting graduation to start working.

Yet, thanks to Qi Xi's passionate speech, this farewell dinner between the two friends didn't carry any sadness; instead, Zhao Yiran seemed quite excited.

"Qi Xi, I saw a link circulating with your graduation speech video!"

Qi Xi sighed and took a sip of juice. "Where's the link? Send it to me."

"Are you going to complain and get it taken down again?"

"What else can I do? Should I just wait for Gu Yan to sue me for damaging his reputation?" The thought of the incident gave Qi Xi a headache. "It was a stupid mistake, a reckless impulse. I'm willing to pay any price to undo the consequences and take full responsibility to make amends."

In reality, Qi Xi had wanted to apologize to Gu Yan immediately after the incident. However, she couldn't find him after the graduation ceremony. All she could do was apologize to him through WeChat. She wrote a long message but received no reply even after waiting for a long time.

Unable to apologize to Gu Yan, Qi Xi vented her anger on the instigator, Zhang Jialiang. However, faced with her questioning, Zhang Jialiang had a strange explanation.

"Why did I slip the love letter in the practice book and ask Gu Yan to give it to you? Well, I'm a shy and introverted person, and I've liked you for so long that even confessing to you in person was terrifying. I was afraid my heart would race if I looked at you too long. Then, I saw your book forgotten in the library and came up with this romantic, classic way of writing a love letter. Since Gu Yan happened to pass by, I asked him to deliver it for me. Don't they portray such scenes in movies? To convey the emotions of young boys and girls, it's not romantic if they directly confess. There should always be an intermediary to pass the message..."

"As for the signature, I have a good sense of humor. It was just a joke to tease you and make you feel as if Gu Yan was confessing. You felt disappointed, but when you flipped it over, you discovered that it was me, whom you also liked. It's a kind of ecstatic joy of losing and regaining something..."

Ecstatic joy my foot! Who likes you? I may like Gu Yan! I'd rather like a weirdo like Gu Yan than you!

Qi Xi now felt enraged just thinking about it.

Zhao Yiran sympathetically patted Qi Xi on the back. "To be honest, Gu Yan not responding to you is already quite composed. If it were anyone else, they might have hit you."

"He probably wouldn't hit me." Qi Xi shuddered at the thought. "Isn't he into Muay Thai? If he accidentally hit me too hard with a punch and caused second-degree injuries, that would be enough for an intentional harm charge. It would turn into a criminal case, and even if he becomes a lawyer later, his license might get revoked..."


Even so, Qi Xi knew that Gu Yan's composure was surprisingly admirable.

Although she posted formal letters of declaration and apologies with her real name on the school forum and Weibo, rumor mills were faster than denial. The posts quickly faded away without generating any significant attention. Just thinking about how many people were present at the graduation ceremony...

She knew she had committed an unforgivable sin against Gu Yan. Whatever he wanted to do, even if he decided to sue her, it would be justifiable. Qi Xi was willing to bear all legal consequences.

But Gu Yan did nothing. He didn't accept her apology, scold her, or sue her. He didn't even clarify the rumors.

Could she ever face Gu Yan again?

Apart from never wanting to see him again, Qi Xi couldn't come up with a better solution.

Perhaps when things hit rock bottom, the only way is up. Qi Xi had hit rock bottom and finally started to bounce back.

She took another anxious sip of juice when her phone chimed with an email notification.

Qi Xi glanced wearily at the subject line, and the prominent "congratulations" along with the sender's information made her adrenaline surge, her heart pounding.

It was an acceptance letter from Columbia Law School!

Trembling, Qi Xi finally clicked on the email to confirm its contents. Unable to contain herself any longer, she practically leaped from her chair.

"Zhao Yiran, I got accepted into Columbia Law School's JD program!"

*J.D. (Juris Doctor) is a professional law degree offered by law schools, typically in the United States. It prepares students for legal practice and provides a comprehensive understanding of American law and the U.S. legal system. The term "Juris Doctor" comes from Latin and can be translated to "Doctor of Law" in English.

Only law school students understood the prestige of a Columbia Law School's JD. Zhao Yiran's eyes widened in amazement. "Oh my God, Qi Xi! You're incredible! I knew it; your LSAT score was so high, your GPA was high, and you even passed the domestic judicial exam. I knew you would make it! Columbia Law School! You're going to New York!"

In the ranking of American law schools, after Harvard, Yale, and Stanford Law Schools, there was Columbia Law School. Unless one had relevant legal work experience or a recommendation from a big shot in the industry, it was nearly impossible for a fresh law graduate to get into these top three JD programs.

So, for Qi Xi, receiving an offer from Columbia Law School was the best outcome.


And going to the United States meant she wouldn't have to face Gu Yan. After all, according to the employment survey, Qi Xi remembered Gu Yan had chosen to directly join a law firm after graduation.

But when Qi Xi returned home with excitement about her future and shared this earth-shattering news with her father, she received no congratulations or praise.

Instead, Qi Ruiming was not just unhappy; the term "exploded with rage" would be more appropriate: "Didn't we agree that you would take the civil service exam and find a stable 9-to-5 job after graduation? You secretly took the LSAT? Secretly applied to schools?"

"But Dad..."

"Didn't you promise me that you would take the civil service exam and find a stable 9-to-5 job? I know the civil service exam is highly competitive, but I'm not insisting that you join the public security, procuratorate, or judicial system. If you can't pass the exam, I have connections at Rongshi Daily, and I can help you become an editor for their legal publication. It's an easy job most of the time, so you can study for the exam and try again next year."

The same old arguments again.

Qi Xi tried to endure her inner discomfort and argued her case: "But I want to be a lawyer. Graduating from Columbia Law School will give me a competitive edge whether I work in the US or back in China. I'll have better job opportunities and a higher income, and the platform to choose from will be much better..."

Qi Ruiming didn't give Qi Xi a chance to finish; he interrupted her again, this time with more gravity: "Xixi, you're just a girl; you don't need to live such a difficult life. Take it easy, find a stable and respectable 9-to-5 job, and then find a good partner to marry. Your future responsibility will be raising the next generation to be good wives. Look at your mother; she graduated from Rongda University's Law School like us. Isn't her life relaxed and happy now? What's wrong with that?"

Qi Ruiming furrowed his brows. "As for being a lawyer, that's something for men to do. Do you know how much pressure there is in law firm work? Dad is speaking from experience; I really don't want you to live such a stressful life. Look at how busy I am. As a girl, do you want that kind of life?"

He tried to persuade her further, "Right now, you're all talk and no action. But when you become a real lawyer, you'll hate the profession. Moreover, women inherently have weaker legal and logical thinking abilities than men. Look at your four years in law school; how many times did you beat that guy, Gu Yan, in your class? Weren't you always trailing behind him? It's the same in school, and once you enter the real world and the workplace, it will be even more apparent."

"There are plenty of excellent male lawyers out there, even more than you encountered in school. Your personality is too competitive and not gentle enough. Once you enter a law firm with this mindset, it will only strengthen your forceful nature, and your married life won't be happy. I'm doing this for your own good..."

Qi Ruiming used both gentle and forceful methods to finally express what he wanted to say: "Anyway, if you want to go to the US, I won't provide any money."

Initially, he had promised that if she got into Columbia Law School's JD program, he would fund her education!

"But Dad, you promised..."

"First, girls don't need to study so much. Your undergraduate degree is enough; second, I don't have that much money. JD in the US costs a lot in tuition alone, not to mention living expenses in New York where Columbia is. Dad doesn't have that much money, and lawyers don't make as much money as you think. Dad has it tough too. I still need to prepare materials for a case."

Qi Ruiming's attitude was firm. After finishing, he glanced at Qi Xi's mother, Xi Wen, with some irritation. "You should manage your daughter better! How can she be so stubborn!"


Qi Xi finally understood. From the beginning, Qi Ruiming never intended to provide money for her to study in the US. He only made that promise because he thought she wouldn't be accepted into Columbia Law School's JD program.


Although Dad wasn't an exceptionally successful lawyer, he was a small partner in a small firm, and he had enough income to support her education. Plus, she was the only child; there were no other underage siblings needing financial support.

Qi Xi felt filled with grievances and discomfort. When Qi Ruiming left, she poured out her grievances to her mother, Xi Wen. "He just looks down on girls. If I were a son and got into Columbia JD, he would do whatever it takes to fund my education."

Xi Wen's voice was gentle but helpless. "Xixi, don't argue with your dad. He has a lot of work pressure too. Don't blame your mom. If I had a job too, dad wouldn't be this stressed, and we would have money to support your education. But what your dad said also makes sense; a stable life is a blessing for girls."

Qi Xi slammed the door shut and threw herself onto her bed, not wanting to hear any more of her parents' clichéd remarks.

Most top law schools in the US are private, with exorbitant tuition fees. For international students like Qi Xi, just being accepted was already a cause for celebration. Scholarships were out of the question, unlike American students who could apply for financial aid.

Her father's attitude left Qi Xi completely disheartened—her JD dream was likely shattered.



"So, you received such a good offer, but you still can't go?"

After staying home for two weeks, Qi Xi finally accepted this painful reality and made plans to meet Zhao Yiran for dinner.

Facing Zhao Yiran's question, Qi Xi nodded listlessly. "No money, no right to speak."

"What will you do then? Go to the editorial department of the legal publication your dad arranged?"

"I'm not going." Qi Xi's face was unwavering. She was not one to back down. "I urgently sent out my applications, and now I've received an offer from a prestigious firm. Anyway, if my dad doesn't support me becoming a lawyer and doubts my abilities, then I'll become a lawyer against his wishes. I already received an offer from Columbia Law School during my undergraduate, and now that I'll work for another two years and enhance my resume, I might apply to even better schools. If he won't provide money, I'll save up myself."

Zhao Yiran looked impressed. "Qi Xi, you truly make others envious, you know that? Whether it's an offer from Columbia Law School or a prestigious firm, for you, it's like casually picking up a green onion on the way out. A true academic overlord, indeed!"

The prestigious firm, Jinghe Law Firm, was highly regarded in Rongshi, and competition to get in was fierce. Being accepted by JHS was good news. However, Qi Xi suddenly became anxious. "What if Gu Yan is also at JHS?"

"No, no, don't worry." Zhao Yiran whispered, "I heard the latest news; Gu Yan suddenly decided to study in the US before graduation. He doesn't plan to work in China. Since you also planned to go to the US, I didn't tell you to avoid putting pressure on you."

Qi Xi felt a bit guilty. "Was it because he was hurt by my defamation at the graduation ceremony that he decided to leave the country?"

"No, it was before the graduation ceremony. I heard he changed his mind about going abroad."

What a fortunate turn of events!

Qi Xi's gloomy mood suddenly brightened. "This is great! Now that he's going to the US, and I'm staying in China, we won't have to see each other again in this lifetime!"

Although she envied Gu Yan for being able to study abroad, Qi Xi quickly lifted her spirits.

After all, she had committed an enormous sin against Gu Yan. If this creditor went overseas, it wouldn't be a bad thing for her.

With a sense of relief, Qi Xi quickly reported to the Jinghe Law Firm.


"Because you applied relatively late, although your resume is excellent in all aspects, the teams led by other senior partners have already filled their positions. So, we've assigned you to work under a newly promoted female partner, Gu Xuehan."

As they toured the law firm, the HR personnel explained, "But Partner Gu is young and ambitious. She's the youngest partner in the firm and is just forming her team. If you work diligently, you'll become a core member of the team in the future. Partner Gu will meet you later."

Qi Xi had already researched Gu Xuehan's profile online. She was also a top graduate of Rongda University's Law School, and her rapid promotion to partner was unprecedented. Not only was she stunningly beautiful, but she also exuded a strong aura of a capable woman. Though she was newly promoted, her revenue in the first year as a partner was already the highest in the firm. Numerous legal forums held high expectations for her, believing she could become the most outstanding new star in the law firm.

"I've seen in many forums that they call her the new goddess of the legal world." Qi Xi admired, "Working with her, I'll definitely learn a lot of new things."

Perhaps because of the overly formal atmosphere in the law firm, Qi Xi's compliment came across as flattery, and the HR colleague seemed taken aback for a moment. With a complex expression, they glanced at Qi Xi. "Those who call her a goddess aren't from JHS, but following her will indeed help you learn a lot."

"Go inside."

As the HR colleague called her in, Qi Xi adjusted her appearance and without much thought, entered Gu Xuehan's office.

What followed was a strong visual impact—Gu Xuehan looked even more attractive than her official photo on the law firm's website. She was dressed in a high-end suit, exuding an air of composure and elegance. Maybe it was because she was a direct senior schoolmate, but Qi Xi felt a sense of familiarity, making her naturally feel closer to her.

No wonder they don't call Gu Xuehan a goddess at Jinghe Law Firm, because, in Qi Xi's opinion, her beauty and temperament were beyond the description and reach of the term "goddess."

When Gu Xuehan saw Qi Xi's face, she also seemed surprised and smiled, "It seems like my team has the best looks in the firm. Welcome to JHS, Qi Xi."

Unconsciously, Qi Xi sat up straight; entering the workplace after school made her a bit nervous.

"Although I have a substantial workload, my goal for the team is to be small but excellent. Previously, most projects were handled by lawyers without designated mentors. This time, in forming the team, I want to personally guide two newcomers, insiders so to speak. Besides you, there's another male student, who happens to be my brother. But you can rest assured that I won't show favoritism in business or income distribution..."

So, my future team member would be the boss' brother?

I'd better build a good relationship with him!

As Qi Xi's mind was racing, thinking about how to get closer to him, Gu Xuehan continued, "My brother and you should be classmates; both of you are this year's graduates from Rongda University Law School."

Classmates, that's good. She had an okay relationship with all the male classmates, except for Zhang Jialiang and Gu Yan. Zhang Jialiang went back to his hometown to work, while Gu Yan... went abroad.

Gu Xuehan's brother—is he her cousin or a more distant relative? If his last name is also Gu, is it Gu Cheng or Gu Yimin?

Both of them had decent relationships with her; at least, they were regular classmates, and there was no bad relationship.

Qi Xi felt reassured; working in a team with an old classmate should make her professional life quite enjoyable.

"For the first few days, just take your time to adjust, complete the onboarding procedures, and handle a small case to warm up. My brother is off filing a case at the court, and when he returns, it'll be around the right time for us to have a simple welcome lunch."

After taking a sip of water, Gu Xuehan looked at Qi Xi with her elegance intact, "Regarding your warm-up case, there's something I'd like to ask for your help."

Qi Xi immediately prepared herself, "I don't dare to call it help, please go ahead."

"Don't be nervous; it's just a personal matter," Gu Xuehan smiled, "Since you and my brother attended the same school, do you happen to know who defamed and slandered him at the graduation ceremony?"


Qi Xi was stunned.

Is that what I think it is...

Staring at Gu Xuehan, she began to feel that she might need rescuing.

Gu Xuehan took a sip of water, oblivious to Qi Xi's stiffness. Her voice was chilly, "As a sister and a lawyer, I must defend my own brother's rights."

Glancing at Qi Xi, Gu Xuehan's lips parted slightly, "I forgot to mention, my brother is Gu Yan, who happens to be your future team member. Are you familiar with him?"


Qi Xi was sure that she could declare the rescue mission a failure and opt for immediate cremation.

Gu Yan?! Wasn't Gu Yan supposed to go abroad?!

Before Qi Xi could process her emotions, she heard Gu Xuehan's elegant and cool voice, "Now, you will investigate the name, ID number, and contact information of that girl."

"This is your first task - due diligence. I heard that many people recorded videos back then, but every time I tried to watch, they had been reported and deleted. You're in charge of finding the video evidence for the case."

Gu Xuehan was straightforward and decisive, quickly briefing Qi Xi on her first assignment, "This is your first case. Warm-up time."


Qi Xi could only force a smile and had no idea what expression to make anymore.

At that moment, the office door was pushed open, revealing a face that Qi Xi thought she would never see again in her life -

"The case has been filed, and the other party in the small loan contract dispute said the afternoon meeting needs to be rescheduled..."

"Gu Yan, you're just in time. Let me introduce another member of the team, your classmate, Qi Xi."


Qi Xi's inner turmoil could best be described as "tears in the eyes but no tears to shed."

At this moment, she truly felt like... "destiny will make enemies meet, and they must pass each other on the narrow road to the Yellow Springs*."

*黄泉 (Huáng quán) — the Yellow Springs / the underworld of Chinese mythology / the Yellow River


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