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196 With You 1

 Huo Shaoheng was going to actually cook?! Gu Nianzhi grew excited when she remembered eating the food he made when she was just 12 years old. That had been when she was first placed under his care. Afterward, they had always eaten at the base canteen. Although the food there was especially prepared for the generals, it had still been mass produced and throughout the base it was the popular opinion that it could never live up to what Huo Shaoheng could make.

"Mrs. Huo, let's go out now. It's too cramped in here and Uncle Huo can't move around." Gu Nianzhi happily coaxed Song Jinning outside. The two of them went out to the living room and Gu Nianzhi began a light-hearted conversation with her. As the conversation progressed, Gu Nianzhi realized that Song Jinning's memories were really stuck at the age of 18, which meant that the woman was 30 years behind the times. The places and news that she spoke of with familiarity no longer existed, and she had no idea about any of the current events.

What kind of illness is this? How can she clearly remember her memories before turning 18, and completely forget everything after that? What on earth happened to this woman? Gu Nianzhi was growing increasingly concerned for Song Jinning; it was apparent that her situation was not normal, but it was strange how the cause behind her condition had not been looked into. Gu Nianzhi planned on asking Chen Lie about Song Jinning's condition when she had time to see him again. After chatting for less than half an hour, a delicious smell wafted in from the kitchen. Gu Nianzhi's mouth began to water. How could it smell so good? Gu Nianzhi sniffed the air and drifted towards the kitchen entrance.

Huo Shaoheng was dishing fried rice with a spatula. He turned to see Gu Nianzhi's head poking in and raised his eyebrows. "You're still hungry?"

Gu Nianzhi nodded excitedly. "Yep!"

Huo Shaoheng turned around to get another small bowl and filled it with a bit of fried rice for her. Song Jinning had followed Gu Nianzhi and looked timidly from behind, too nervous to walk closer. Huo Shaoheng glanced at her but didn't say anything as he set down a porcelain plate piled high with fried rice. The rice grains were full and golden, completely soaked with the yolk of the soft-boiled egg. There were also sweet and crisp fresh green beans and shrimp that had been marinated with yellow rice wine, pan fried and spread abundantly throughout the rice dish.

Gu Nianzhi practically inhaled her rice and finished within a few minutes.

Song Jinning sat quietly across from Gu Nianzhi and picked up a spoon to eat her fried rice. Her frown grew deeper as she chewed and she looked questioningly between Huo Shaoheng andGu Nianzhi.

"What's wrong? Is it not good? I can finish it off for you." Gu Nianzhi had already stuck her hands out for her bowl, eager for a second helping.

Huo Shaoheng took her hand and placed it back, his eyes stern as he spoke to her, "You can't eat anymore than this; you're still recovering."

Gu Nianzhi pouted and got up to pour tea.

Song Jinning whispered to Huo Shaoheng, "May I ask, how did you create this flavor?"

"I learned it from someone." Huo Shaoheng said dryly, though his gaze was distracted as he turned to call Gu Nianzhi and ask, "Do you want to take a walk outside?"

"Yeah!" Gu Nianzhi hurried over to set the tea tray down in front of Song Jinning. "Mrs. Huo, please enjoy your fried rice and have some Pu'er tea after to help with any bloating." She tilted her head at Huo Shaoheng, her eyes sparkling."Are you really taking me out?"

"Today's Boxing Day, so the capital's brand name stores will have many good exclusive items." Huo Shaoheng stepped to the side. "Didn't you want to go shopping?"

"Oh, yes!" Gu Nianzhi exclaimed and then turned and winked at Song Jinning. "Please enjoy your meal Mrs.Huo. I'm going out to do some shopping."

Song Jinning nodded dubiously as she kept her eyes on Huo Shaoheng. She mumbled, "This tastes familiar. I'm sure that I can make it as well..."

"Is that right?" Huo Shaoheng smiled at Song Jinning. He gazed at her for a few more seconds, watching her eat, and then took Gu Nianzhi's hand and walked out.


Gu Nianzhi followed Huo Shaoheng down from the third floor and asked in a low voice, Why did your mother think the taste was familiar?"

"Because it's her recipe. I liked eating fried rice when I was young, so she always made it for me." Huo Shaoheng replied dryly.

Gu Nianzhi looked down. Poor Huo Shao. Huo Shoaheng suddenly reached out to take her cheeks and pinched them. "Don't overthink it, I'm not that soft." Gu Nianzhi yelped and pulled her face out of his strong grip. Her reddened cheeks made Huo Shaoheng burst into laughter and he patted her face gently before heading downstairs.

As soon as they turned the corner, they bumped into Huo Jialan, who was rushing upstairs. "Huh? Why are you coming down this way?" Huo Jialan looked up at them curiously. "Did you see Mrs. Song?" Huo Shaoheng nodded. "Thanks for taking care of her, " Huo Jialan said.

Gu Nianzhi was still rubbing her face and snuck a glance at Huo Shaoheng, poking her head out from behind him. "Aunt Lan, why do you call her Mrs. Song instead of Mrs. Huo?" Even though Song Jinning's last name was Song, she was married into the Huo family; her title then should have been "Mrs. Huo" Women of the Huaxia Empire didn't officially change their last names after marriage, but were typically referred to by their husband's last name to denote the difference between 'single' and 'married'. Gu Nianzhi had already noticed the day before that she was the only one to call Song Jinning "Mrs. Huo." Everyone else, including the Huo family servants, called her "Mrs. Song."

Huo Jialan's bright almond eyes flashed with interest as she looked at Huo Shaoheng with a smile. "Elder Cousin, you haven't told Miss Gu yet?"

Huo Shaoheng put his hands in his trouser pockets and looked at Gu Nianzhi. "I'm going out for a smoke." He didn't meet Gu Nianzhi's eyes and quickly walked down.

Gu Nianzhi's eyes watched Huo Shaoheng's retreating back. She turned to see Huo Jialan's smiling fac. "Did something happen that I didn't know about?" Gu Nianzhi asked.

"I'll let Elder Cousin tell you about it." Huo Jialan patted her shoulder and looked at Huo Shaoheng's retreating figure with a smile before she walked upstairs, nodding at Gu Nianzhi as she left. Gu Nianzhi looked back at her beautifully curvy figure and heaved an envious sigh. Huo Jialan was always dressed neatly at the home. Today she wore a lavender qipao with white fox fur trim-it displayed her curves perfectly. When she climbed the steps, Gu Nianzhi noticed how her hips moved swayed. Of course, Huo Jianlan wasn't intentionally doing it, but she couldn't help looking alluring, with her full figure clad in the tight qipao. Gu Nianzhi didn't even blink, she wanted to observe this tasteful charm. She herself was still too young to be considered womanly or seductive... Gu Nianzhi quietly sighed and kept sneaking looks at Huo Jialan as she walked downstairs. She finally turned her head when she couldn't see Huo Jialan any more, then looked up to see Huo Shaoheng with one hand in his pocket and a cigarette in the other hand. He was leaning on the railing of the staircase, waiting for her.

"What are you looking at back there? Aren't you worried about falling down the stairs?" Huo Shaoheng reached out his hand to her.

Gu Nianzhi took his hand and glared at his cigarette. "Uncle Huo, you're smoking in the house?"

Huo Shaoheng ignored her remark and said, "Go change first. I'll come after finishing this cigarette." Huo Shaoheng released her hand and walked out of the room. Gu Nianzhi went to her room and came out wearing a Burberry coat with horn buttons and a Mulberry backpack. As soon as she came out of the door, Huo Shaoheng emerged from the spare bedroom in a navy shirt and a dark brown leather coat. Huo Shaoheng's figure appeared even more strapping in the smooth material, and he looked like a model off a top international fashion magazine-Gu Nianzhi was starstruck.

"Let's go. What are you spacing out for?" Huo Shaoheng walked past her and took out his car keys. Gu Nianzhi jogged up to keep up. They both wore casual clothes and Huo Shaoheng only arranged for a few security guards in casual clothes to protect them, unlike the fanfare when he picked her up the last time.

"Where are we going?" Gu Nianzhi followed him to the car. "Uncle Huo, do you really know how to drive?" Fan Jian always drove them, but he would be on holiday for the next few days and Huo Shaoheng hadn't arranged for any other drivers.

He didn't look at her as he started the car and said sarcastically, "No I don't; what should we do now?"

"What should we do?!" Gu Nianzhi glared at him before letting out a soft giggle. She said, "Fine, I guess we'll have to rely on your good looks to get us from one place to another, since that's your only asset."

"What are you talking about?" Huo Shaoheng flicked her forehead at her sassy comment. "Sit tight and put on your seatbelt." Gu Nianzhi strapped herself in and as they drove, complimented the Bentley from front to back, amazed at how luxurious the car was. She spoke in animatedly, so Huo Shaoheng was lost in his own thoughts while Gu Nianzhi's voice ran on pleasantly in the background. She didn't need him to respond anyway, so the time felt relaxing and passed quickly when he was with her.

It didn't take long for them to arrive at the luxury shopping area in the capital, Scion Plaza. After parking in the underground parkade, Gu Nianzhi got out of the car and turned around in a circle with her hands out, exclaiming, "This parkade is bigger than the American malls!"

Huo Shaoheng locked the car and chuckled. "Let's go to the eighth-floor. You'll be able to do the shopping you want to there." All the brand name stores were on the eighth- floor of Scion Plaza.

Gu Nianzhi walked quickly behind him as she looked at the growing number of people entering the plaza. She pursed her lips and walked next to Huo Shaoheng. She said, in a low voice, "H-Huo Shao, there's something I want to ask you."

"Go ahead."

"Well, while we're out here today, could you not have me call you Uncle Huo?" Gu Nianzhi blushed. She wanted to shop normally with Huo Shaoheng today and leave a good memory. If she had to call him "Uncle Huo" the entire time, the memory would be tarnished; she didn't want to keep playing this game of guardian and child with Huo Shaoheng.

Huo Shaoheng was silent. He looked down at her and finally said, "You jump around so much that people will automatically think that I'm your guardian, even if you don't call me Uncle."

Gu Nianzhi stopped short. "I wasn't jumping around just now! I just wanted to talk to you; you're the one who's walking so fast!" So, he did think she was too young and not mature enough... Sadness filled Gu Nianzhi's heart, but she held it back.

Huo Shaoheng slowed his pace to match with hers and walked her to the elevator headed directly to the eighth floor. The eighth-floor elevator directly faced the Chanel flagship store in the Huaxia Empire. "Go in and pick out some clothes." Huo Shaoheng lit a cigarette and leaned against the wall. "I'll wait here for you." He stood in the hallway outside the Chanel store and smoked as he waved at Gu Nianzhi.

Gu Nianzhi's head spun as she saw the colorful clothes and hurried inside to look at the latest season's fashion, already lost in her excitement.

Huo Shaoheng watched her as she bounced and ran about, a smile ghosting his lips as he leaned on the railing and smoked in silence. Half an hour later, Gu Nianzhi came out carrying several paper bags, a big grin on her face. Just as she was about to show off her new goods, she heard someone say, "Huo Shao?! Is that you?! You're finally back! How many years has it been?"