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111 Don’t Reveal Your Entire Hand

 Wen Shouyi had left in an indignant huff. There were now only two people at the table meant for four: Gu Nianzhi and He Zhichu, seated opposite each other.

He Zhichu did not speak. He leaned against the sofa, his arms folded across his chest. He looked at Nianzhi critically. "Why are you always so eager to provoke Miss Wen?"

"She's trying to provoke me, Professor He! How can you turn this on me?" Gu Nianzhi could no longer control herself. "Unless you think there's nothing wrong with installing spy cameras in your student's apartment?"

He Zhichu's eyes flickered to the gift box that Wen Shouyi had forgotten to take with her. He said, in a low voice, "Make no mistake, I will get to the bottom of this. But before that..." He Zhichu looked at Gu Nianzhi expressionlessly; if his tone had been cold before, it was now below freezing point. "You shouldn't be so emotional. A good lawyer must have self-control-that's one of the basic requirements. You must be able to keep your emotions in check, no matter the circumstances. I am very disappointed in your behavior today. It seems that I have overestimated you."

Gu Nianzhi pursed her lips as she inwardly rolled her eyes. She said, her expression deadpan, "Thank you, Professor He, for the invaluable lesson. I am still a student, however. I can't be expected to act as convincingly as Miss Wen, or be as aloof and detached as you are, Professor He. Still, I will do my best to learn, and strive to surpass my teachers in the future."

He Zhichu could not help smiling at the indignant expression on Gu Nianzhi's face. He shook his head and said, "Okay. Just remember your lesson."

"In any case, it is wrong to install cameras in a private apartment. My feelings have nothing to do with it." Gu Nianzhi refused to let Wen Shouyi off the hook. She was now certain that Wen Shouyi was out to get her, and no longer saw the point in keeping things civil.

She would rather have it all out in the open, than continue to act like everything was fine and dandy between the two of them. She wasn't going to suffer in silence while Wen Shouyi walked all over her.

Gu Nianzhi knew this was the only way to put Wen Shouyi in her place.

Any sane person would have learned by now not to mess with Gu Nianzhi. It simply wasn't worth the risk and effort.

Wen Shouyi would think twice before trying to mess with her again.

Brother Huang, who had been hovering at a safe distance, finally shuffled back to the table when he saw that Wen Shouyi had left.

He Zhichu and Gu Nianzhi did not bring up the matter again.

Shortly after, the waiters brought them the food they had ordered. Gu Nianzhi and Brother Huang chatted amiably as they tucked into their food. The awkwardness at the table quickly dissipated, thanks to their merry conversation.

He Zhichu barely touched his food: he seemed more interested in the wine. A faint blush crept across his fair cheeks, complementing his bright almond eyes.

It was hard not to lose yourself in his eyes when he looked at you.

Gu Nianzhi was full now. She smiled at He Zhichu. "Professor He, I didn't expect you to not like onions either."

The original recipe for Philly cheesesteak included chopped onions, for maximum flavor.

He Zhichu raised an eyebrow. "Why? You don't like them either?"

"Yeah, I hate the taste of onions. They stink so bad." Gu Nianzhi pinched her dainty nose and made a disgusted face as she took a sip of her lemonade.

He Zhichu had ordered the lemonade for her. He kept the wine away from her, as she was not yet 18, and therefore still under the legal drinking age.

"I don't like them either." He Zhichu smiled lightly. He turned to his food, and quickly finished everything on his plate.

Brother Huang could drink like a fish. He had been a big sake drinker back in the Empire; the red wine he was having now was nothing more than a soft drink to him.

He was eager to talk about his own projects back in the Empire, and would not stop asking He Zhichu for advice.

Gu Nianzhi saw He Zhichu frowning at this, the wrinkles on his brow deepening with every passing minute. She inwardly chuckled.

He Zhichu probably subscribed to the American belief that anything work-related should not be taken out of the workplace.

Brother Huang had most likely violated one of He Zhichu's taboos by taking up his valuable private time to talk about work.

He Zhichu interrupted Brother Huang's long-winded exposition. "Little Huang, I was just telling Nianzhi-you'll have the next two days to rest and recover from your jet-lag. Classes will begin on Monday. I'll send the class schedule to the both of you when I get home, check your inbox." He put down his knife and fork and wiped his mouth with the white table napkin.

Brother Huang saw that He Zhichu had finished eating; he hurriedly shoved the rest of his food into his mouth.

Gu Nianzhi had made the least progress with her food, but she did not hurry to finish it. She called for the waiter and asked for a container for her leftovers, so she could have them for supper later that night.

He Zhichu drove them back to their apartment in his Mercedes-Benz.

Along the way, he listened to Gu Nianzhi and Brother Huang laugh and trade jokes. The atmosphere inside the car was casual and relaxed.

He Zhichu did not say much; nevertheless, he helped stave off any potential awkwardness by chipping in whenever there was a lull in the conversation. Brother Huang was encouraged by this: he launched into a lengthy, breathless speech delineating his views on the Chinese and American judicial systems.

When they arrived at the apartment, He Zhichu did not get out of the car. He merely waved at them before driving off.

Gu Nianzhi rubbed her cheek, and rolled her eyes at Brother Huang. "Brother Huang, did you have to go on and on like that? That was so exhausting, having to keep up with you."

Brother Huang gave a wry smile. "Nianzhi, aren't you the least bit afraid of Professor He? My legs turn to jelly whenever he frowns."

"Why? Is he that scary?" Gu Nianzhi was dumbfounded. She wondered how sheltered Brother Huang must be, to be afraid of someone like Professor He...

So what if Professor He was scary? No one could ever be as scary as her Uncle Huo.

And she wasn't even afraid of her Uncle Huo, so why would she be afraid of Professor He?

Gu Nianzhi was proud of being so fearless. She mentally gave herself a pat on the back.

The two of them took the elevator and returned to their respective apartments.

Brother Huang was shrewd enough to not ask Gu Nianzhi about the cameras.

His gut feeling told him that the matter with the cameras was nothing short of a minefield, waiting to explode. He was just a passer-by, and it was none of his business-it was best to pretend not to have seen anything.

He was reminded of the saying: when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. He could not afford to provoke the elephants, so he had better lie low...

Yin Shixiong breathed a sigh of relief when he saw Gu Nianzhi had returned, safe and sound. He said, "Back so early?"

Gu Nianzhi swapped her shoes for her indoor slippers at the door. She said, dejectedly, "...You win. Brother Xiong, you're psychic."

"Yup. One hundred dollars, please." Yin Shixiong extended a hand towards her. "I told you: showing them the cameras will give Miss Wen a good scare, but you won't get Professor He to punish her in front of an audience."

He had foreseen the outcome, and had therefore told Gu Nianzhi to take only two of the cameras with her. They would keep the other three.

The reason was simple enough. The Special Operations Forces had been trained to hang on to their cards; they never revealed their entire hand.

It was much more terrifying for Wen Shouyi to see that Gu Nianzhi had brought only two of the cameras, instead of all five.

"Forget about punishing her, he didn't even want to talk about it," said Gu Nianzhi indignantly. "I totally wasn't expecting that... I thought he was supposed to be honest and fair..."

Yin Shixiong tousled her hair. "...Save your breath, kiddo. You still have a lot to learn. Did you really think you could win in a bet against me? Care to try again? You can put up your pocket money for the next six months."

"Okay, okay, I get it already." Gu Nianzhi quickly ducked out of the way. "I'm going to take a shower. Night, Brother Xiong!"

There were two bedrooms in the apartment, each equipped with an ensuite bathroom. The bedrooms were on opposite ends of the apartment, separated by the living room. It was convenient and comfortable for Gu Nianzhi and Yin Shixiong to share the apartment.


Wen Shouyi was already waiting at the door when He Zhichu returned to his house.

The mansion He Zhichu lived in was so big it was practically a castle. Two white pillars made of marble flanked the front entrance, majestic and imposing.

"There better be a very good reason for what you did. If there isn't one, pack up-I'm sending you back to your folks." He Zhichu walked up the steps without looking at her. His expression was cold and ruthless.