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141 Can You Forgive Me?

 Now that He Zhichu had specifically called out to them, Gu Nianzhi and Mei Xiawen could no longer pretend not to have seen him.

The two of them turned to face He Zhichu.

He Zhichu was wearing a light-colored casual suit. His hands were in his pockets, and his posture was relaxed. His eyes lingered briefly on Gu Nianzhi and Mei Xiawen's intertwined fingers.

As the saying went, ignorance was bliss-it was better not to know how badly you compared to someone else.

Mei Xiawen had always been a dreamy Adonis in the eyes of women. Now, however, in the face of He Zhichu-mature, sophisticated, and dignified-he looked like an awkward overgrown child in comparison.

Standing before He Zhichu, Mei Xiawen felt, for the first time in his life, uncomfortable in his own skin.

But He Zhichu wasn't looking at him; he was looking at Gu Nianzhi, scrutinizing the cheek that had been injured. "Why don't you join me? My table is big enough for all of us."

He was inviting them to dine with him in the VIP room.

Yin Shixiong, who had been engrossed in a mobile game while sitting on a nearby bench, finally noticed He Zhichu. He gave a start, and hurriedly put his phone away before walking over to join Gu Nianzhi.

He was just in time to hear Gu Nianzhi decline He Zhichu's offer. "I don't think that's a good idea. It's your private time, Professor He, we wouldn't want to be a bother." She gave the female celebrity a meaningful look, before turning to smile and wink at He Zhichu. "You should get going, it isn't polite to keep a lady waiting."

He Zhichu stared at Gu Nianzhi. He suddenly reached out and tousled her hair. He said, in a doting, indulgent tone, "My dear child, are you still angry with me? I'm sorry for what I did. Can you forgive me?" "

His sudden change in demeanor was a bolt out of the blue for Gu Nianzhi; she felt as though her world had been turned upside down. Mei Xiawen and Yin Shixiong gaped openly, stupefied.

Mei Xiawen's eyes darted doubtfully between Gu Nianzhi and He Zhichu. When had Nianzhi become so close to Professor He?

And what had Professor He done anyway? Why was he apologizing to Gu Nianzhi?

Yin Shixiong immediately walked over to stand beside Gu Nianzhi, laughing heartily to ease the awkwardness in the air. "That really isn't necessary, Professor He. Nianzhi is a gentle, artless soul, she's not the type to keep a grudge. Please, you're embarrassing her."

"Is that right?" He Zhichu looked at Gu Nianzhi, his bright almond eyes brimming with indescribable emotion. He seemed unable to express what he was feeling, and finally settled on a simple: "Can you forgive me?"

Gu Nianzhi guessed that He Zhichu was apologizing for driving her out of his house the day before.

She had been extremely angry then, it was true. She had walked until she could hardly feel her legs, and had mentally thrown every insult she could think of at him the entire time.

But she was no longer angry when she woke up this morning.

She knew it was silly to be angry at him when he had done so much for her.

She could still recall, vividly, how He Zhichu had rushed to the campus police office to save her. His being rude to her afterwards was such a trivial thing in comparison-how could she stay mad at him?

He had been unfairly rude to her the day before, but she had given him a good tongue-lashing in her mind over that. They were even now.

Yin Shixiong was right: Gu Nianzhi was not the type to keep a grudge. She usually avenged herself right away, without waiting.

"What's there to forgive? I haven't properly thanked you yet, Professor He. If it weren't for you, I'd probably still be in my cell right now." Gu Nianzhi smiled sincerely. Her soft, pouty lips were red, glossy, and dangerously seductive.

He Zhichu averted his eyes from her red pouty lips. "Well, so long as you're not angry with me." He no longer insisted that Gu Nianzhi join him in the VIP room. Instead, he called for the senior manager of the restaurant, and spoke a few words in French into his ear.

The senior manager nodded. He turned to Gu Nianzhi and said in English: "This way, please. We have just added a table for three."

It was obvious he had only done so because He Zhichu had requested it.

Gu Nianzhi smiled and nodded to He Zhichu. "Thank you, Professor He." She followed the senior manager to the table.

Mei Xiawen also nodded to He Zhichu. "We'll be going then, Professor He."

He Zhichu replied with a brief "Okay." He watched Mei Xiawen and Yin Shixiong follow after Gu Nianzhi, before walking to the VIP room.

The female celebrity was curious. "Mr. He, are they your students?"

The female celebrity had noticed the young female student's startling beauty. The celebrity, too, was famous for her beauty, but found herself at a disadvantage before the young girl who was not yet fully grown.

Gu Nianzhi was not exactly more beautiful than the celebrity, per se. A fruit that was still green around the edges could never be as delectable as fruit that was fully ripe.

But the unripe fruit had somehow looked irresistibly delicious-and that meant her beauty held untold potential.

He Zhichu gave a vague, non-committal reply as he picked up his menu and began placing his order. He did not seem to want to talk about it.

But his companion was unable to drop the subject: she was dying to know what He Zhichu thought of the young girl. She glanced at her menu as she asked, tentatively, "The girl has the potential to be a star. Let me know if she wants to join the entertainment industry, I can help her." She opened her handbag, fished out a business card, and slid it across the table to He Zhichu. She was trying to give him her phone number without being too obvious about it.

He Zhichu looked at her business card. He snorted, and looked up at her. He did not speak, but his eyes were full of disdain. He looked as though he had just heard the most ridiculous joke in the world.

The female celebrity's pretty face turned red under his gaze, then white, before finally settling on a shade of green.

She wasn't a nobody: she was famous, and part of high society. She was also exceedingly arrogant, and ruthlessly picky when it came to who she was seen with. Most people never got to see her in person, much less have dinner with her.

She awkwardly withdrew her business card and put it back into her handbag. She straightened up and said, "I just remembered-I can't have dinner with you today, I have to attend a shoot tomorrow morning. Mr. He, please ask your assistant, Miss Wen, to get in touch with my agent so we can discuss the contract."

The female celebrity put on her oversized sunglasses. She ducked her head and hurried out of the restaurant.

The waiter for the VIP room came in and politely asked, "Mr. He, will you still be dining here?"

He Zhichu leaned back and put an arm over the back of his chair. His gaze passed through the open door and fell upon Gu Nianzhi and her companions, seated at the small makeshift table the restaurant had specially arranged for them.

They seemed to be enjoying their dinner and each other's company.

Gu Nianzhi's guardian had said something-it was impossible to tell what, from where He Zhichu sat-and Gu Nianzhi had collapsed onto the table in a fit of uncontrollable laughter.

When she looked up, Gu Nianzhi noticed He Zhichu sitting in the VIP room opposite them, all alone.

The door was wide open; she could see the lavish decorations in the room sparkle under the lights.

He Zhichu sat in the middle of all the splendor, as out of place as a subdued watercolor painting. The loneliness emanating from him was palpable.

He Zhichu raised his wine glass and toasted Gu Nianzhi from where he sat.

Gu Nianzhi bit her lip. After a split second's hesitation, she raised her glass and returned the toast.

Yin Shixiong saw her gesture, and turned to look at He Zhichu. He said, surprised, "Hey, where'd his dinner partner go?"

Gu Nianzhi shook her head. "Dunno. I have no idea what's going on over there."

The waiter who had been assigned to their table whispered to them: "Mr. He's companion just left, she said she had something to do."

The waiter had barely gotten the words out when He Zhichu rose from his chair and walked out of the luxurious VIP room. He stopped at Gu Nianzhi's table.

He patted Mei Xiawen on the shoulder. "I'll show you around town tomorrow. I'd do it today, but it's late, and I still have other things to deal with." He gave Mei Xiawen a name card, nodded at Yin Shixiong, and sailed out the door. He had not looked at Gu Nianzhi, not even once.

Mei Xiawen could hardly contain his excitement. He held He Zhichu's name card reverently, and said to Gu Nianzhi: "Look, this is Professor He's private name card! Most people never get to see this!"

Gu Nianzhi was happy for him. She laughed and said, "You better go to bed early today, who knows where he's going to take you tomorrow." She pretended to pout. "I'm jealous, Professor He never showed Brother Huang and me around town. He must think highly of you, Xiawen."

Mei Xiwen laughed heartily. "Don't be silly. But I'm honestly surprised he actually remembered me."