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53 How Rude

 Gu Nianzhi stared at her phone; she wondered what Zhao Liangze was doing at her apartment. At this very moment, she heard a chime from Mei Xiawen's phone, which he had left on the table. It was a text message.

Gu Nianzhi automatically glanced at the phone, and saw the contents of the message without meaning to.

It was from Ai Weinan.

[Weinan]: "It's that time of the month for me again. I feel so uncomfortable... I miss the ginger tea you used to make for me, all those years ago..."

Gu Nianzhi's mind reeled upon seeing this. Her mouth twitched as she nudged Mei Xiawen's phone away from her.

Before long, Mei Xiawen appeared with a big dinner tray. He set it down before Gu Nianzhi, and moved the two plates of food that had been on the tray onto the table.

Gu Nianzhi silently picked up her pair of disposable chopsticks, and began to eat.

Mei Xiawen sat beside her. He watched Gu Nianzhi's profile as he ate, a smile on his face.

Gu Nianzhi was embarrassed by this. She tapped Mei Xiawen's bowl with her chopsticks as she said, "Your lunch is over here. What are you looking at?"

Mei Xiawen's eyes sparkled behind his gold-rimmed glasses. He laughed, and said, "I'm looking at you, of course..."

"What nonsense. I'm not food, so why are you looking at me during lunch?" said Gu Nianzhi, before taking a sip of iced milk.

"You're a real feast for the eyes." Mei Xiawen reached out and held Gu Nianzhi's hand with his free hand.

Gu Nianzhi hastily pulled away. "Don't be so cheesy, I'm still eating here."

As they spoke, Mei Xiawen's phone rang again.

He reached for his phone, but the first thing he saw was the text message from Ai Weinan that he had missed.

The phone continued to ring relentlessly, but Mei Xiawen did not take the call. He was staring at Ai Weinan's message, his thoughts far away. He couldn't help it; he was awash in old memories. His eyes lingered on the words "ginger tea".

Gu Nianzhi found it strange that Mei Xiawen wasn't answering his phone. She asked, "What's wrong? Who's calling? If you don't want to pick up, just cancel the call. It's kind of noisy."

"Oh. It's the student council." Mei Xiawen had returned to his senses. He unlocked his phone and took the call.

He gave a few non-committal replies to whoever was on the other end, before hanging up to check Weibo on his phone.

Gu Nianzhi was done eating; she saw that Mei Xiawen had left most of his food untouched. She asked, "What's wrong? Not hungry? Did something come up with the student council?"

"Yeah, I have some student council stuff to deal with, but I'll give you a ride back, first." Mei Xiawen stood up, too lazy to eat now. He dumped the rest of his food.

When the two got up to leave, a woman wearing one of the newest dresses from Chanel's latest summer line-up entered the cafeteria.

It was Feng Yixi's older sister, Feng Yichen.

She looked at Gu Nianzhi as she walked past her. Gu Nianzhi was radiant and full of smiles; the tall, slim, elegant, and dignified man beside her had his arm around her shoulder.

She recognized the man: it was Mei Xiawen, her sister's class representative, and also the only son of the Mei family, one of the wealthiest families in C City. The Feng family had once tried to curry favor with them.

The two of them walked past her, absorbed in their own little world. They did not recognize her.

Feng Yichen turned, and watched Mei Xiawen hold open the door to a Buick for Gu Nianzhi.

"Yichen, what are you looking at?" Feng Yichen's roommate followed her gaze, and saw Gu Nianzhi and Mei Xiawen. "Oh, that's the golden couple from Class One, the undergrad seniors from our department. They're like the Golden Boy and Jade Maiden; it's a match made in heaven."

"They're dating?" Feng Yichen finally looked away, and ascended to the second floor of the cafeteria with her roommate.

"They've been dating for some time now. More than a month, I think? You know how it is. The senior year is when couples break up, but it's also when new couples pop up like mushrooms after a rain."

Feng Yichen and her roommate were both third-year post-grad students in the C University law department. They were also graduating this year.

Feng Yichen did not like to hear her roommate gush over Mei Xiawen and Gu Nianzhi.

"Golden Boy and Jade Maiden?" She gave an odd smile, and continued, "...Jaded Slut, you mean?"

"Sorry?" Feng Yichen's roommate had been concentrating on the menu, and had not heard Feng Yichen properly.

"Nothing. Just saying how wonderful they look together," said Feng Yichen with a smile. "Let's go sit over there."

Her roommate wasn't done talking about them, however. After securing a seat, she said, with great interest, "...By the way, I heard that Professor He Zhichu, the famous professor from B University, accepted Gu Nianzhi as his graduate student. It's such a pity about your sister. If she hadn't gotten into trouble, that spot would have been hers!"

"What?!" Feng Yichen's head jerked up; her almond eyes were narrowed, her face clouded. "Didn't Gu Nianzhi miss the interview?"

He Zhichu was famous for his zero-tolerance policy towards people who weren't punctual. So how was this possible?

"She missed it, yes, but I heard that was only because she was seriously ill. She had a medical certificate proving she was sick and all, so Professor He gave her a second interview."

"Are you sure about this?" Feng Yichen's voice had gotten very low, and sounded almost sinister.

Her roommate looked at her, astonished. "Of course I'm sure! You haven't been to the administrative building lately, have you? The grad school admissions list is posted there, that's as accurate as it comes."

Feng Yichen's appetite had vanished.

She prodded at the rice in her bowl a few times, before standing up to say, "I have to go, I have something to do." Having said that, she walked out of the cafeteria without a second glance.

Feng Yichen's roommate grumbled behind her back, annoyed by her behavior. "Tch! What a nutjob! Who does she think she is? Her wealthy heiress days are over..."


It was the weekend again.

Gu Nianzhi hadn't planned on returning to the Fengya Precinct apartment - not originally.

Chen Lie had told her that she was fully recovered, and therefore her weekly check-ups were no longer necessary. As for Huo Shaoheng, he had apparently left C City.

She did not see the point in returning to that empty apartment.

But since receiving the call from Zhao Liangze on Thursday asking about her pajamas, she had become somewhat restless. She kept wondering how he had found her pajamas...

And anyway, Mei Xiawen had been busy with the student council since their lunch together on Thursday. He was too busy to spend time with her, so it was actually a good time for her to go back to the apartment.


Gu Nianzhi hurried back to her apartment - and immediately noticed all the changes.

She rushed into Huo Shaoheng's room, to discover that all of his personal belongings were gone. It was as though his room had been burgled.

The bathroom was sparkling clean. It could have passed for a display unit in a showroom, even; it looked brand new, devoid of all personal items.

It was the same for the study room, gym and gun room upstairs: everything that belonged to Huo Shaoheng was gone.

Her own belongings were intact, except for the pajamas under her pillow. But then again, that was also Huo Shaoheng's...

If the apartment had indeed been burgled, the thief must have been extremely particular.

Deep inside, she knew she was only kidding herself: this couldn't have been the work of a burglar. She thought of Zhao Liangze's phone call, and everything was now clear as day to her.

Gu Nianzhi leaned against the door to the gun room, and slowly slid to the floor. She buried her head between her knees.

The door had been soundproofed; it was covered with a thick layer of black leather on the outside, secured by dozens of black brass tacks. It was a very imposing door.

As she leaned against this dark, massive door, all alone, Gu Nianzhi looked smaller and more fragile than usual.

She sat there, hugging her knees, the entire night. Her mind was a complete blank, and her heart felt like it had been hollowed out.

This time, she was convinced that Huo Shaoheng no longer wanted anything to do with her.

Whatever. She would be turning 18 in the second half of the year, anyway. Huo Shaoheng's responsibility as her guardian would be over then.

She knew this day would come, sooner or later.

But surely he could have spoken to her about this?

Instead, he had stealthily removed all his belongings when she wasn't around. How rude.

Uncle Huo wasn't like that, was he?

What happened?

When dawn came, Gu Nianzhi slowly raised her head, her lips compressed into a straight line. She watched the apartment slowly grow brighter and clearer before her eyes.

It was a new day.

Her legs were stiff and numb. She rubbed them with her hands, and was about to stand up when she heard her phone ring.