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161 Be Smarter

 Deputy Minister Feng had been thoroughly humiliated by Gu Yanran, and now hated her with a passion. He did not need the reminder; he did not want anything to do with her, ever again.

Even if Gu Yanran tried to get in touch with him, he would ignore her-whatever she had in mind, he was certain it would only end in further humiliation on his part.

Besides, she was incredibly stupid if she thought she would be able to twist the arms of the Huaxia government and military just by waving a fat stack of money in their faces.

He scoffed. These Western businessmen who believed money and capital trumped everything else would never be able to understand.


Gu Nianzhi and Zhao Liangze packed their things and got ready to move to Washington, the capital of the United States of America.

The US Congress would be back in session soon.

Gu Nianzhi had gotten into a lot of trouble over the past two months, and had even gone to court twice. Although she had been cleared of all charges, the US Congress would-under normal circumstances-reject her internship after running a background check on her.

However, He Zhichu was a powerful, well-connected man; thanks to his efforts, she was able to keep her internship with the US Congress.

Gu Nianzhi had not expected this at all; she had been ready to return to the Empire at the beginning of Harvard University's fall semester, and was surprised when He Zhichu gave her a plane ticket to Washington instead, for early September. She would be going to the US capital with Brother Huang, after all.

Gu Nianzhi was a little sad to leave her Boston apartment, where she had lived for the last two months.

Although it had only been two months, she had accumulated a number of things.

Zhao Liangze watched her pack. He folded his arms and leaned against the door with a smile on his face. "Nianzhi, did you know that the charity fund for army dependents has been established?"

"Oh, it's up and running? That's good to hear." Gu Nianzhi stooped to stuff her panda pillow into an open box, not particularly interested in what Zhao Liangze had said.

To her, the money had been an unexpected windfall. She was happy to donate it all to charity, to help others in need.

Huo Shaoheng had shielded her from the outside world a little too well. She was intelligent, but relatively simple-minded when it came to money and getting ahead in the world.

Zhao Liangze noted her indifference, and casually said, "By the way, the foundation is called the Jin Zhi Xin Army Dependents' Charity Fund. Mr. Huo personally came up with the name."

Gu Nianzhi stopped packing her things. She turned to look at Zhao Liangze, her large, dark eyes staring at him like two shiny grapes. "Jin Zhi Xin? 'Today's Heart'? Is that really the name Uncle Huo came up with?"

"It's true, I swear it." Zhao Liangze winked at her. He knew exactly what she was thinking.

Jin Zhi Xin, or "Today's Heart"-the characters formed "Nianzhi" when rearranged.

She hoped that this meant Uncle Huo would still remember her, even if she moved out of the military base once she was of age.

Gu Nianzhi had not thought of leaving her mark on Huo Shaoheng, lasting mementos that would remind him of her in the future. This unexpected gesture from him surprised her: she colored, her heart beating wildly at the implication.

Zhao Liangze tilted his head as he watched a faint blush spread across Gu Nianzhi's face. Her large, misty eyes shimmered as her eyelashes fluttered prettily. Her lashes made him think of butterflies, gently flapping their wings over the Atlantic Ocean in a valiant attempt to send a tsunami over to the Huaxia Empire, on the other side of the planet.

Although she was smiling in his direction, Zhao Liangze knew she wasn't actually looking at him.

"Hello! Earth to Nianzhi! What are you daydreaming about?" Zhao Liangze walked over and nonchalantly tousled her hair. "So Mr. Huo picked a name-what are you so happy about?"

Gu Nianzhi returned to her senses and ducked away to escape Zhao Liangze's hand. She patted her cheeks; her face muscles were sore from all the smiling.

"'Course I'm happy. It means all of you will never forget me." Gu Nianzhi was back to her usual smug self. "Even if we part ways, you guys will always remember me, right?"

"Duh! Who can forget money?" Zhao Liangze was deliberately trying to rain on her parade. "You look like a walking dollar bill now, in fact."

"Get outta here!" Gu Nianzhi kicked Zhao Liangze with all her strength. "Who are you calling a dollar bill?! You're a dollar bill! Your whole family looks like dollar bills!"

"What's wrong with looking like dollar bills? Not everyone gets the honor of looking like one, you know." Zhao Liangze smiled cheekily at Gu Nianzhi as he walked around her. "Everyone loves money-so what are you complaining about?"

"Thank you for the compliment, but you over-exaggerate my appeal, truly." Gu Nianzhi turned away and continued packing her box. "Are you finished packing?"

Zhao Liangze stretched lazily. "I packed all my things yesterday, I don't have as many things as you do."

Once they were done packing, they returned the key to the apartment, and drove to the airport in a rental car.

Zhao Liangze had sold off the secondhand car Yin Shixiong had bought. He would get a new car once they were in Washington.

They met Brother Huang at the airport and boarded the plane to Washington.


"Professor He," Wen Shouyi stood in front of He Zhichu's desk and placed an envelope and a present before him, "the letter is from your father, Mr. He. The gift is from Aunt Qin."

He Zhichu picked up the envelope and opened it. He slowly pulled out the letter inside and read it.

Under the harsh, white light, his expression was as cold as ice. His thin, colorless lips were pressed together in a straight line.

"Your father misses you very much, Professor He. You should visit him if you have the time."

Wen Shouyi had only returned to her hometown because He Zhichu had instructed her to, as punishment for her previous behavior. The two of them were from the same hometown, and had been back for several years.

Wen Shouyi had made the most out of her trip by visiting her relatives and friends; in that sense, the punishment had been entirely worthwhile.

He Zhichu finished reading the letter. He rubbed his brow with his fingers, his eyebrows knitted together in a deep frown.

"Professor He? Is it another headache?" After a moment's deliberation, Wen Shouyi slowly walked over to He Zhichu and stood behind him. "Here, let me give you a massage."

He Zhichu leant against his desk, his hand still upon his forehead. He did not move.

The window of the study was open. Beyond the window, a small distance away, was the Potomac River.

The cool evening breeze blew into the room, carrying with it the scent of the Potomac River.

Wen Shouyi was just about to place her fingers on He Zhichu's temples when he abruptly rose from his chair. He avoided Wen Shouyi's hands as he made his way to the window.

They were inside He Zhichu's Washington mansion.

His estate was well over ten acres. It had been built near the Potomac River, on a piece of land that was known to be staggeringly expensive.

He Zhichu stood silently before the window, his hands clasped behind his back. After a moment, he asked: "...Is my family doing well?"

Wen Shouyi lowered her hands dejectedly and walked over to He Zhichu. She stood behind him and said softly, "Everyone seems to be doing okay. But Mr. He really wants you to go back and see him."

He Zhichu lowered his head. He placed a hand on the wall next to the window, and shook his head. "It isn't time for me to go back, not yet."

Wen Shouyi opened her mouth to persuade him, but remembered his temper. She stopped herself.

Instead, she put on a smile and said gently, "It's getting dark. Don't stay up too late, Professor He. I'll be going, now."

He nodded, then turned to look at her. "Take a few days off. I know how exhausting long flights can be."

"I will. Thank you, Professor He." Wen Shouyi smile was now genuinely affectionate and warm. "I'll take a few days off before returning to my duties here."

Wen Shouyi was He Zhichu's teaching assistant, and also his personal secretary.

She handled all his affairs.

She had been away in the last two months, sent back to her hometown. He Zhichu had not found another secretary to replace her, which meant that many of his affairs had come to a stand-still.

He had thought he could manage without Wen Shouyi, but he had been mistaken. It had turned out to be a relationship of mutual dependence, after all.

He Zhichu returned to his desk and sat down. There was a little more warmth to his voice now. "Your living arrangements have not changed. My two students will be starting their internship at Congress very soon, don't forget to help them with the paperwork."

"Understood. Don't worry, I'll handle it." Wen Shouyi nodded politely. "Is it still Miss Gu and Mr. Huang?"

"Yes, it's still those two." He turned on his computer and began typing on his keyboard as he said: "I know you and Gu Nianzhi aren't exactly friendly with each other, but she's a student, and still a little girl. You're so much older than her, and a teaching assistant to boot-you should know better than to drag yourself down to her level. Just keep your distance from her. I had to send you back home, and I hope you learned your lesson: don't ever get into a fight with the students, ever again."

Wen Shouyi felt as though a bucket of cold water had been upended over her.

He Zhichu had been so warm and friendly towards her a moment ago-had she imagined it? Or was it all just an act from him, to persuade her to be nicer to Gu Nianzhi?

"Professor He, you don't have to worry. I take my professional ethics very seriously, and will never deliberately get into a hostile relationship with my students." Wen Shouyi had turned to leave, but now she changed her mind. She walked over to stand before He Zhichu's desk. "But since you mentioned it, I feel obliged to remind you not to be too nice to her. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."

He Zhichu: "..."

"You won't like what I'm about to say, but I have to say it anyway. Good medicine tastes bitter-the most helpful advice are always the hardest to take, and I know very well that many well-meaning ministers have been punished for their honesty in the past. Still, I cannot stand idly by and watch you go astray. I am deeply indebted to the He family. Everything I've accomplished in my life so far, I owe it all to the He family, and that is precisely why I have to speak up now and set you back on the right path." Wen Shouyi seated herself on the round stool before He Zhichu's desk. It was going to be a long talk.

He Zhichu's expression had turned icy cold. He looked up at Wen Shouyi, and she could see that his bright almond eyes were no longer gentle or affectionate. The sharp edge in his eyes, the haughty lines of his nose, and the curve of displeasure on his thin lips came together to form a single word in Wen Shouyi's mind: cold-blooded.

A chill ran down Wen Shouyi's spine.

Her back was already drenched in cold sweat. Her silk blouse clung to her skin, sweaty and uncomfortable.

But she did not dare back out now. She knew that once she had opened her mouth, she would have to see it through-stopping halfway would be even worse.

She understood how He Zhichu ticked.

"...You're too nice to Gu Nianzhi." Wen Shouyi gritted her teeth and barreled on. "She's a student, you're her professor. It's easy for the girl to get the wrong idea when dealing with a man as attractive as you..."

The razor-sharp edge in He Zhichu's expression disappeared, supplanted by a look of complete surprise. He looked up from his computer, his voice light and uncertain as he asked: "What are you saying...? What do you mean by the 'wrong idea'?"

"You've never thought about it?" Wen Shouyi was taken aback. "You said it yourself-Gu Nianzhi is a little girl, barely 18. A man like yourself is a huge catch, one in a million, and you're treating her like a princess. Sure, you're 10 years older than her, but did you honestly think that would stop her from falling for you?"

He Zhichu realized what Wen Shouyi was getting at, and had to laugh.

When he laughed, there was a starry twinkle in his bright almond eyes.

"...You're overthinking it." He Zhichu waved his hand. "Okay, I get it. Go rest up."

Wen Shouyi stood doubtfully; she looked at He Zhichu for a long moment, trying to guess what he was thinking.

He Zhichu had stopped talking and was now busy typing on his computer.

"I'll be going, then." Wen Shouyi nodded, and turned to leave.

As soon as she was gone, He Zhichu's fingers stilled over the keyboard.

He mentally went over what Wen Shouyi had said, and tried to reconcile her concerns with what he knew of Gu Nianzhi. He laughed out loud.

Oh, if only Gu Nianzhi actually got "the wrong idea"...

The girl still had not gotten the hint; she seemed to be entirely oblivious, and wary of him to boot. What was a man to do?


Gu Nianzhi and Brother Huang got off the plane. Zhao Liangze followed at a small distance behind them.

He Zhichu had sent someone to pick them up from the airport; the man stood before the arrivals exit with a big sign saying "William Huang" and "GU, Nianzhi".

Brother Huang saw the sign and waved to the man. He asked Gu Nianzhi, "Wait a minute, you didn't give yourself an English name?"

"'Course I did." Gu Nianzhi was chewing gum. "See that on the sign? 'Nianzhi' is my English name."

"It's clearly just the pinyin of your Chinese name." Brother Huang scoffed. "Who are you kidding?"

"You, of course." Gu Nianzhi smiled at him, her eyes curved into crescents. Brother Huang was a married man, but her soft, sultry voice sent a jolt through his heart, all the same. He quickly looked away. Someone, please, tame this little fox and keep her away from me! I can't stand it anymore...

The three of them had a lot of luggage between them. Gu Nianzhi and Brother Huang discussed it with the man who had come to pick them up, and got him to send over two more cars for the luggage.

The three of them arrived at the luxury hotel He Zhichu had booked for them.

This time, they were staying in the famous Capitol Hill Hotel in Washington.

The best thing about the apartment hotel was that it was near the Congress building.

Zhao Liangze and Gu Nianzhi had been provided with a two-bedroom apartment, while Brother Huang stayed in a single room.

Brother Huang watched Zhao Liangze run about attending to Gu Nianzhi's every need, and could hardly believe that such a handsome, dignified man was willing to be a glorified errand boy. He tugged Gu Nianzhi's arm and whispered, "Who's that? Is he really your guardian?"

"Yup. Why, what's wrong?" Gu Nianzhi was happily eating a Haagen-Dazs cone. "He's one of my guardians."

"...How many guardians do you have?!" Brother Huang's eyeballs almost popped out of their sockets. "Are you even allowed to have so many?!"

"What's it to you, anyway? Brother Huang, you're such a gossip," Gu Nianzhi said severely as she glared at Brother Huang. "Why are you so interested in my guardian?"

"...I care about you." Brother Huang lowered his head enigmatically and whispered, "A man and a woman living in the same rooms-you have to be smarter than that!"

"Geez, get your mind out of the gutter, Brother Huang." Gu Nianzhi sighed at her Haagen-Dazs cone: it had turned into an unappetizing, gooey mess. "And anyway, my guardian is, like, old. He may be a looker, but don't be fooled-he's super old."

"Super old? How old can he be?" Brother Huang looked at Zhao Liangze, who was now walking towards them-the man could not possibly be older than 25!

"Uh, 28, I think? Nearly 30, isn't that old?" Gu Nianzhi threw her ice-cream cone into the trash can.

Brother Huang, who had just turned 29, felt as though his heart had been pierced by 10,000 arrows. He pointedly ignored Gu Nianzhi, went into his room, and slammed the door.

Zhao Liangze pulled Gu Nianzhi into their suite and warned her: "Keep your distance from that schoolmate of yours-did you see that perverted look on his face? He was ogling you. You have to be smarter!"