The truth was many others were confused by how a homeless woman could dance ballet too, but since the competition had not ended, they decided to keep their questions for later.
Finally, it was Benjamin’s model’s turn.
With a jacket over an open–neck sweater wrapped around his strapping body, the model strode down the aisle with his long legs, giving off an assertive vibe.
On a closer look, one could not help but realize that the man had exceptional features which made him look mixed–race..
In fact, no one would have guessed the man was homeless if no one had told them about it.
This went to show how well a job the designer did in revamping everyone’s impression.
Now that every participant had showcased their work, the audience began casting their votes.
However, their votes accounted only for half of the overall score since Selena’s vote contributed to another fifty percent of the final result.
As the voting session took place, all the designers assembled backstage while they waited for the results.
At first, everyone seemed relieved that the presentation was over and was chatting about how staggered they were initially by their models.
However, everyone became edgy as time passed. The competition had yet to end, and the results were about to be revealed.
Having worked with each other over the past month, the designers had mixed feelings about parting. They had come a long way from not liking one another at first sight.
But regardless, all of them wanted to leave the program as the winner.
They began guessing who would emerge as the champion. Given how Margaret’s model had completely changed people’s first impressions, the designers believed that Margaret could be the winner.
As for Nancy, everyone thought things could have been better if not for the earlier fallout between her and the model. Repulsed by her model, Nancy had earlier refused to go too close to the beggar when she was altering her clothes, so she ended up pricking the model a few times with her scissors.
Feeling offended, the model did not cooperate with Nancy and simply walked half–heartedly down the runway, which upset Nancy beyond measure.
Faced with that thorny situation, Nancy had made up her mind that she would appeal the results if she did not end up being top three.
“There’s no point guessing, guys. Christina will turn out to be the winner for sure. Didn’t you guys see how nice Ms. Selena was toward her?”
“We did. We all got some homeless people as models, but she got a ballerina!”
“I know, right? What’s the point of this competition? Ms. Selena should have just given her the prize.”
Those snarky comments were uttered loudly so Christina could hear them clearly from another side.
She felt hurt when she heard their remarks, but her phone kept ringing as new messages flooded in, distracting her from the sour comments.
Who is it? Don’t tell me it’s just some spam messages.
She realized Nathaniel had been bombarding her with messages.
Nathaniel: Is it cold there? Don’t catch a cold.
Nathaniel: Should I go and get you now? I can host a competition here in Jadeborough if you want to attend one. Why do you have to go all the way there? What if you get into trouble?
Nathaniel: Are you eating well?
Nathaniel: I saw you on the live stream. Remember to take a water break even if you’re busy.
Nathaniel: I’m picking you up after the competition.
Nathaniel: Wait for me.
Christina felt a weight on her heart when she read his messages. Toward the end, a tear dropped on her phone screen without her even realizing it.
It finally dawned upon her why she felt her phone had been unusually quiet the past few days. She had been so preoccupied with coming up with a design that a cold could not even stop her from working. In fact, she had forgotten entirely about Nathaniel.
She felt guilty and touched when she finally had time to read the messages and realized how concerned and upset Nathaniel was at first and how he eventually softened his tone.
Deep down, she blamed herself for not letting him know she was doing fine.
At the same time, she felt fortunate that Nathaniel did not just appear at the competition venue to bring her back, or else the situation would have been awkward.
Checking the time she received the last message from him, Christina figured it was about time Nathaniel arrived.
Just then, the production assistant entered and called for everyone.
At the announcement, everyone stood up, knowing it was time they revealed the results.
On the stage, they could not help but feel nervous as they looked at Selena’s calm and stern face.
“I believe each and every one of you has gone through a lot from the beginning of this competition, but I hope no matter what happens, you guys will never forget why you became a designer in the first place.”
Selena’s words put everyone into deep thought, for no one could read between her lines. No one responded.
“All right. We’ll move on to the result now. The second runner–up goes to… Margaret Lester.”
All eyes were instantly on Margaret. Some felt happy for her, while others thought she deserved better.
Margaret forced a rigid smile as she processed what she had just heard.
Despite having told herself getting third place was the bare minimum, she still felt the result was unfair, but she put on a poise front since all the cameras were pointed at her.
Then, they moved to announce the runner–up, which turned out to be Benjamin.
The designers around him showed faces of disbelief when they learned that Benjamin had won second place.
What? That sissy got second place?
They were obviously disgruntled with the result.
There’s nothing unique about his art. Ms. Selena should know well enough to realize that.
Of all the designers, Christina was the only one who smiled at Benjamin. “Congratulations. It was a job well done!”
Benjamin was moved by the kind gesture. While others were second–guessing the legitimacy of his achievement, Christina was the only one who congratulated him earnestly. “Thank you, Christina.”
However, disapproving voices grew more severe as the designers uttered increasingly scathing remarks.
In fact, Nancy even rolled her eyes at him. For now, her only hope was getting first place.
Well, my work is better than Margaret’s, so I won’t be surprised if I’m the champion.
Everyone held their breath in wait for the final revelation of the result.
“And the first place goes to the best design tonight by Christina Steele! She earned it!”
Selena went on stage to give her the award personally.
The announcement came as a bombshell for Christina, who felt her heart skip a beat and the blood in her body rage.
She turned emotional as she recalled how hard she had worked over the past month to pass the evaluation. No one could understand how helpless and alone she had felt when the others chased her out of the mansion, but she managed to pull through the toughest time.
Sometimes, she felt tempted to call Nathaniel to bring her back to Jadeborough, but in hindsight, she was glad she persevered, for the result was all worth it.
Applause resounded around Christina, and she snapped back and smiled at the crowd, but before she could even savor the moment of success, people started throwing words of mockery.
“I bet the winners were selected internally beforehand. There’s no way someone like her could get a príze for that kind of work.”