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 Gu Nianzhi waited for a long time for Mei Xiawen to say something and was about to hang up, "That's it then. Class Rep, I'll mail your necklace back to you. Thank you for the care the past two years. I wish you the very best."

Mei Xiawen finally came to his senses and said quietly, "Nianzhi, on account of our relationship the past two years and my sincere feelings for you, do you really have to say goodbye over the phone like this?"

Gu Nianzhi was silent.

"Nianzhi, I've been classmates with you for the past two years. Don't you know the kind of person I am?" Mei Xiawen.

Gu Nianzhi secretly thought that she didn't actually know him at all; otherwise how could he have claimed to be waiting for her all along while in reality he had been going behind her back-and going back on his word- with Jiang Hongcha?

She mostly believed Jiang Hongcha's words, but still had several doubts because she didn't see any substantial evidence. Mei Xiawen interrupted her thoughts with a loud sigh from the other end.

"Fine, since you don't want to be with me, I won't force you. Still, I've never wronged you and won't bother you anymore." Mei Xiawen lay on the sofa, his feet propped on the coffee table as he lit a cigarette and blew out a puff of smoke. "But, since you're returning by Christmas Eve, I took the liberality of contacting our university classmates and holding a big welcome back party for you."

"No thanks." Gu Nianzhi was quick to refuse. "You guys should still have fun though. I still have other business."

"Nianzhi, we couldn't be lovers, but we can still be friends right?" Mei Xiawen fixedly looked up at the small angel relief on the ceiling. He tried to quell his mounting agitation. "I've already sent out all the invitations and it's specifically for your welcome back party. Won't you come?"

Gu Nianzhi frowned and kept quiet, unsure of how to reject him. But Mei Xiawen wouldn't give her the opportunity to refuse. "Nianzhi, to tell you the truth, I came to the Imperial capital to complete my graduate studies because of you. I already convinced my family to start a new company here, just to be with you. Now you're saying you don't want to be with me, and I get it. But don't be so cold hearted, ok? Just pretend that it's a class reunion; your old roommates will be there too! You can ask them if you don't believe me-Green Tea Fang, Little Temptress, and Lady Cao all bought their tickets to fly in from C City to the capital."

"Oh? They're coming too?" Gu Nianzhi was a bit tempted now, but she still remained very cautious; she didn't want Mei Xiawen to set her up. However, she decided to give in. She wouldn't let him control her.

"I can come, but you can't pull any tricks at the party."

"What tricks would I possibly pull?" Mei Xiawen shook his head with a smile. "Do you think I'm so shameless? Why would I go and embarrass myself when I know that you've already rejected me?" He knew her personality; she wasn't someone that would suffer just to save face. It was probably because she was still young, or maybe Mei Xiawen thought ruefully, it's because she had never suffered while growing up. Mei Xiawen was slightly uncomfortable by that suddenly dark though that had creeped into his mind, but decided to ignore it. At that moment, he only wanted Gu Nianzhi to attend the party. The invitations were already sent and he had contacted the party planning agency and had paid the security deposit; he didn't want to cancel. He couldn't afford to lose face in front of the classmates. All the guests were elites from wealthy families, not commoners- like Gu Nianzhi.

"Fine, Class Rep. I'll believe you this once. Just text me the address, and I'll be there." Her plane ticket was for a direct flight from Washington to C City, therefore Gu Nianzhi realized that she would need to transfer from C City International Airport to the capital.

Mei Xiawen snapped his fingers and finally smiled in satisfaction. "What a nice classmate you are! I'll send the address to you and we'll see you on Christmas night! You don't need to bring any gifts; just return the necklace to me."

Gu Nianzhi agreed immediately and said her goodbyes before hanging up. She stretched leisurely and continued working. After a day in the office, she returned to her apartment and called her old roommates, Green Tea Fang, Little Temptress and Lady Cao.

"My three sisters!" Gu Nianzhi waved to them through the webcam and beamed as she blew them all kisses. "Have you missed me?!"

"Of course!" The three women were thrilled to see their dear Gu Nianzhi. "You're almost back, right? We'll see you in the capital? Class Rep is hosting a grand party to welcome you back!" Gu Nianzhi was relieved that their words matched Mei Xiawen's request. As long as her three roommates were there, she wouldn't be in trouble.

During dinner, Gu Nianzhi told Zhao Liangze about the reunion party at the capital. Hearing that Mei Xiawen was organizing it, Zhao Liangze mused aloud, saying, "He's still not giving up?"

"No, but I've already made it clear to him. Even though he's not happy about it, he's not an unreasonable person." Gu Nianzhi delicately asked for Zhao Liangze's opinion. "But, Brother Ze, speaking of which, do you think I was wrong too? Maybe I shouldn't have made a rash decision and that promise. Now it's all over, but-"

He cut her off. "Nianzhi, don't blame yourself. You didn't do anything wrong." Zhao Liangze took her hand. "People can get divorced after getting married, and couples breakup all the time. You hadn't even started a relationship with him, yet what's this nonsense about wronging him? Who does he think he is? Just because he has a beautiful face, does that mean you should lose your common sense?"

Gu Nianzhi burst into laughter, "Brother Ze, I didn't know that you had such a sharp tongue."

"You think I have a sharp tongue? My words are nothing compared to Mr. Huo's words." Zhao Liangze chuckled. "Anyway, you can go the reunion if you want. You've done nothing wrong, so there's nothing for you to be ashamed of."

Although Zhao Liangze had told her not to be anxious, he still made sure that Gu Nianzhi was fully prepared. On the night before they flew back, Zhao Liangze called her to his room and said, "Nianzhi, I'm going to show you some photos, but you have to swear not to let Mr. Huo know that I showed them to you."

"What photos?" Gu Nianzhi's interest was piqued. "I'll have you know though, if Huo Shao asks, I'm not going to lie to him."

Zhao Liangze rolled his eyes. "Do you really have to be so obedient? I'm risking my life for you here; can't you appreciate that?"

"Brother Ze!" Gu Nianzhi latched tightly on Zhao Liangze's arm and clung to it as she whined, "You know I listen to Huo Shao the most, but I promise that as long as he doesn't ask, I won't say a thing!"

Zhao Liangze squinted at her. "Swear it."

"I swear that if I tell him, I'll-" Before Gu Nianzhi could finish her oath, Zhao Liangze cut her off. "Fine, fine, I believe you. This has nothing to do with Mr. Huo at all, that's why I warned you." He opened the folder with Mei Xiawen and Jiang Hongcha's nudes. These weren't the ones Zhao Liangze had requested that the military personnel take, but photos that Jiang Hongcha herself had taken and saved on her drive. Every single one had been digitally processed to make her look beautiful. However, the photo editing was no match for a computer genius like Zhao Liangze, who had completely recovered the originals. In order to not freak out Gu Nianzhi, Zhao Liangze had censored all the necessary places.

Gu Nianzhi gaped at the photos and covered her eyes, stamping her feet. "Brother Ze! Why would you show me something like that?!"

"I've already censored everything, so why are you covering your eyes?" Zhao Liangze quickly closed the folder. "But yeah, they were really gross looking. The photos were photoshopped and edited. It made me queasy looking at them."

"You actually looked at them closely?!" Gu Nianzhi continued to shield her eyes with one hand and reached out blindly for Zhao Liangze's arm with the other in order to give him a hard pinch. Although he looked thin, his body was lean and muscular. Gu Nianzhi's hand hurt from trying to pinch him and so she stopped. She settled for shoving him. "You're so awful, Brother Ze."

Zhao Liangze chuckled and passed an envelope to her. "Just take this. If Mei Xiawen tries anything, you can go in front of all your classmates and throw these photos at those cheaters' faces!"

Gu Nianzhi peeked through her fingers and saw that Zhao Liangze had closed the photos from his screen. She finally opened her eyes and took the envelope in her hands, her voice full of gratitude. "Brother Ze, you really thought of everything!" With these in hand, she really didn't have to worry about anything happening at the party.

That night, she packed everything and called He Zhichu before going to bed. For the past two months, He Zhichu had rarely contacted her-they had mainly communicated by email and had seldom called. When Gu Nianzhi picked up the phone, He Zhichu's voice sounded distant. However, after speaking to him a bit longer, she felt soon felt better.

"Nianzhi, are you all packed?" He Zhichu was sitting in the professor's quarters of B University. He was working while speaking to Gu Nianzhi on speaker.

"I'm all packed. Thank you for taking care of me, Professor He. I'm coming home tomorrow." Gu Nianzhi spoke politely. The more cordial the words spoken, the farther the distance between two people, she figured.

He Zhichu was pained at her efforts to remain distant from him, but he didn't ask about it. He only said gently, "Safe travels."

"Yes, thank you Professor He." Gu Nianzhi said her goodbyes and hung up. She still couldn't sleep though, and remembered that Huo Shao's mission would almost be over. Zhao Liangze has told her it was December 17th or 18th, and it was already the 22nd. She hesitated for a while, playing idly with her phone before she finally gathered her courage and called Huo Shaoheng. The phone rang for a long time, but no one picked up. Gu Nianzhi sighed in relief and quickly hung up.

It was better that no one picked up, because she would have immediately hung up even if the call had connected. She now understood her feelings, but was growing timid because of them. She no longer could use all her tricks just to get a little closer to him. Her heart astir, she lay tossing and turning the whole night.

Early the next morning, she got up and left for the airport with Zhao Liangze. The pair carried a pile of bags and checked four huge suitcases containing all of their things.

Zhao Liangze saw that her eyes had dark circles again and laughed. "Were you so happy that you couldn't sleep?"

Gu Nianzhi nodded. "Yep, I'm really excited. It's ok though; I can sleep on the plane."

It was a 12 to 14 hour flight from the United States to the Huaxia Empire. It would be a boring flight, so she could just sleep the whole way. He Zhichu had purchased a first class seat for Gu Nianzhi, while Zhao Liangze paid for his own travel costs. Originally, he had been seated in business class, but he charmed the flight attendant with his handsome face and was offered a free upgrade after a few words.

Gu Nianzhi watched Zhao Liangze saunter to the seat across from her and asked with surprise, "You covered the difference yourself?"

"I paid with my face." Zhao Liangze touched his cheek and winked at her.

Gu Nianzhi made a puking gesture and after talking with him a bit, fell asleep. With Zhao Liangze at her side, she slept deeply. She only woke up after sleeping for more than ten hours. Zhao Liangze was asleep too and she noticed that his face was especially handsome in the low light. Gu Nianzhi witnessed several flight attendants come over to cover him with a blanket. Gu Nianzhi smiled and took a facemask out from her backpack. They would land in two hours, so she wanted to freshen up before seeing her friends back home. When Zhao Liangze awoke, he opened his eyes to see a ghostly pale face staring at him in the seat across. He was momentarily bewildered, but soon realized that it was Gu Nianzhi using a facemask. "You're using a facemask on the plane too?" Zhao Liangze teases. "You've become more high maintenance after spending just six months in the States."

"I was still a young minor then. Now I'm older-so of course I have to take better of myself!" Gu Nianzhi said with such conviction that Zhao Liangze reflected on his own "old" age of 26.

"Be careful. Don't mention age in front of men; especially "old" men like me." Zhao Liangze glared at her.

Gu Nianzhi's face twitched as she tried to hold back her laughter. "Oh my! My facemask! Stop talking Brother Ze, or else it's going to fall off!"

Zhao Liangze couldn't help messing with her, seeing how happy excited she was. He stuck out his lean leg out to give her a gentle kick. "Are you ok going to the capital alone? I just got a message from Big Xiong that I have a mission." He had suffered in the States after being inactive for the past few months and couldn't wait to stretch his muscles.

Gu Nianzhi nodded. "No problem. I'm going to stay at the capital for one night and fly back to C City the next day."

At last, they finally landed in the Huaxia capital. Zhao Liangze contacted his people in the capital to have them take care of her, just so that he could set his mind at ease before returning to the base. After they passed through customs and immigration, Gu Nianzhi made her way to the terminal for the flight that transferred directly to the capital. Zhao Liangze took their remaining luggage back to the base. She thought back to when the pair had separated at the airport: Gu Nianzhi had given him another look, and asked, "Brother Ze, do you have any news about Huo Shao?"

"Not yet." Zhao Liangze had patted her head. "He should be back soon. We'll come pick you up when you come back tomorrow."

Gu Nianzhi had nodded and rolled her cherry blossom pink suitcase to the connecting flight. The flight from the States had landed at 11 in the morning and it had taken an hour to pick up her luggage and then transfer flights. Three hours later, Gu Nianzhi walked out of the Imperial capital airport. She hailed a cab to head to the address Mei Xiawen gave her. It was for an establishment location within the capital's 3rd Ring Road.