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197 With You 2

 Huo Shaoheng looked up and was surprised to see that it was his childhood friend, Xue Jingjiang. He had not seen him since joining the military.

Xue Jingjiang had thick eyebrows and large eyes. He was also very tall, his height as high has Huo Shaoheng's. Next to him was a tall, shapely lady.

Xue Jingjiang rushed over and thumped Huo Shaoheng enthusiastically on the shoulder, overcome with nostalgia. "All these years, and you never once came home! I knew you had joined the military, but man! You were gone for so long that I was beginning to think you'd been exiled!"

Huo Shaoheng smiled as he looked Xue Jingjiang over. "Boots, it's been years since I've last seen you, but you're just as handsome and stylish as I remember."

Xue Jingjiang's surname was Xue, which sounded like the Chinese word for "shoes". Therefore, his childhood playmates had always called him "Boots."

"I haven't had anyone call me 'Boots' in years." Xue Jingjiang was so touched he felt like he was about to cry. "Huo Shao, how long will you be back for? I hear that you're a major general now-you must be the youngest major general in history!"

"Thank you, but it's not a big deal, really." Huo Shaoheng shook hands with him. "What a coincidence, bumping into you like this. I literally just got back."

Xue Jingjiang quickly said, "Well, as the saying goes, 'a chance encounter is better than a planned invitation.' I'll treat you and our other brothers to dinner today at my place. Huo Shao, you must come. I won't take no for answer."

Huo Shaoheng looked at Gu Nianzhi, who was standing silently beside him.

Gu Nianzhi gave him a pleading look. She hoped he had not forgotten her request.

Xue Jingjiang finally noticed Gu Nianzhi. As soon as he laid eyes on her, he was strongly reminded of the first snowfall in early winter-the young lady was so delicate she seemed she would either melt in the palm of his hand or drift away upon a sudden gust of wind. Her lively eyes, as dark and bright as black lacquer, shone in her exquisite face. She seemed too beautiful to be real.

He was momentarily dumbstruck. After a minute, he recovered himself and asked Huo Shaoheng with a chuckle, "Huo Shao, who is this? Aren't you going to introduce her to me?"

Huo Shaoheng turned to look at Gu Nianzhi. He said nonchalantly, "The young lady here is with me. Gu is her surname, so you can call her Little Gu." As he said that, he reached over, took the Chanel shopping bags from her, and wrapped his free hand around Gu Nianzhi's small, delicate hand.

He had not introduced himself as her uncle, but his stance was still protective and stiff. Still, Gu Nianzhi was happy that he had honored her request. She smiled gently and waved at Xue Jingjiang. "Brother Boots, it's so nice to meet you."

Xue Jingjiang's face brightened upon hearing her soft, melodic voice. "Nice to meet you too, Little Gu. Come with me; Brother Xue will treat you right. Tell me what you want to eat, what you want to do-your wish is my command!" He turned and said to Huo Shaoheng, "'The View From The Ninth Floor' is, obviously, on the ninth floor and just one floor up. I'll call Cui Baifei, Hong Ziqi, and Bai Tianqun, and get them to come over and dine with us."

Huo Shaoheng was not in a hurry to go home. He nodded and said, "We're practically family. It's high time we had a get-together."

Xue Jingjiang immediately understood what Huo Shaoheng was hinting at. He quickly turned to the pretty woman beside him and said, "I'm busy now. You should go for today. I'll take you out to tea some other time."

The woman had been looking Huo Shaoheng over with eager, hungry eyes. When she heard Xue Jingjiang practically shoo her away, her face immediately darkened. She said, in a loud, angry voice: "Hold it, Mister Xue! Who do you think you're talking to? Are you pulling a wham, bam, thank you, ma'am?!"

Xue Jingjiang was reluctant to get into an argument with her in front of Huo Shaoheng. He shot her an icy look and she immediately shut up, afraid to cause a scene. She pouted as she slung her Louis Vuitton bucket bag over her shoulder, and marched off in anger.

Once she was gone, Xue Jingjiang immediately called up the rest of his old childhood playmates. "Guys, come over quick! Huo Shao's back in town! We're going to have a get-together at my place, The View From The Ninth Floor. Get over here, and remember to bring your significant others-the proper ones!" He turned around to surreptitiously hiss the last three words into his phone.

Gu Nianzhi was quick to pick up on the underlying implication. The corners of her mouth quirked upwards.

Huo Shaoheng did not react. He stood nonchalantly before the elevator, chest forward and head held high as he pretended not to have heard Xue Jingjiang. His eyes flickered to Gu Nianzhi's pouty cherry lips and lingered upon them as she smiled.

In a Louis Vuitton store, a short distance away Mei Xiawen and Jiang Hongcha had just exited the store with a shopping bag in hand when they heard the earlier commotion. They looked up to see what was going on.

Mei Xiawen immediately saw Gu Nianzhi.

He saw her standing next to an impressive looking man. The effect was striking: she looked unbearably lovely, her delicate frame leaning towards the man's strong figure. He could tell that she did not have any make-up on her snowy white face, but she evidently did not need them: her facial features stood out beautifully all the same.

Jiang Hongcha, on the other hand, noticed Huo Shaoheng first. It was difficult not to: his tall, imposing figure and achingly beautiful face made him stand out from the crowd.

Jiang Hongcha was calmly looking Huo Shaoheng over when she caught a glimpse of Gu Nianzhi out of the corner of her eye.

Her eyes were immediately drawn to Gu Nianzhi.

Jiang Hongcha blinked in surprise. She said to Mei Xiawen, "Didn't you say once that Gu Nianzhi is an orphan, and that she doesn't have a lot of money?"

"Yeah, she's an orphan, " Mei Xiawen said absentmindedly , his eyes glued to Gu Nianzhi.

"But, look at what she's wearing-that's a Burberry duffle coat, a Hermès scarf, a Mulberry backpack, and Salvatore Ferragamo knee-high boots. Her entire get up costs at least a hundred thousand yuan," Jiang Hongcha remarked out in a low voice. Her lip curled disdainfully. "Are you sure she's a poor, "penniless" orphan?"

Mei Xiawen frowned. "She never wore any of that when she was at C University..."

He would have noticed if she had dressed in such expensive clothes back then. He suddenly remembered Gu Nianzhi's luxurious apartment in C City's Fengya precinct-something seemed off.

Jiang Hongcha believed Mei Xiawen. She glanced at Gu Nianzhi contemptuously and said, "Well, if you're sure you're not mistaken, that means she's found a sugar daddy. That young lady just now, the one who threw a tantrum and walked off-she's a model, an internet celebrity, and you can 'buy' her, if you get what I mean. A dinner with her costs at least 10,000 yuan..."

Mei Xiawen was stunned. "Are you saying that's what Nianzhi's doing?"

"You have to admit she has good taste. Look at that man beside her-he's rich and handsome. He must be a high-class sugar daddy. I wonder if she caught him in America?" Jiang Hongcha gently nudged Mei Xiawen's shoulder. "Hey, do you think Professor He knows what his precious student is up to?"

Jiang Hongcha got out her phone and was about to take a photo of Huo Shaoheng and Gu Nianzhi when a man came over and said sternly, "You can't take photos here. Please delete the photos you've taken."

Jiang Hongcha was taken aback. When the man had left, she looked again and saw that Gu Nianzhi and her companions had already disappeared into the elevator.

"Let's go." Mei Xiawen took one last look at the elevator before pulling Jiang Hongcha away.


Gu Nianzhi followed Huo Shaoheng and Xue Jingjiang to the ninth floor of Scion Square. They soon arrived at the entrance to a classic, antique-style hall.

Hanging over the entrance was a traditional door plaque. The gold characters on it said, in an elegant calligraphic flourish against the black background, "Jiu Lou Feng Yue," or "The View From The 9th Floor."

So this is actually the name of the place, Gu Nianzhi realized.

Gu Nianzhi glanced at the name curiously, before following Huo Shaoheng inside.

Xue Jingjiang walked before them, leading the way.

He owned the place, and it showed: as soon as he walked in, his employees scrambled to accommodate him. In a few moments, he had led Gu Nianzhi and Huo Shaoheng to the most luxurious private room in the place.

A massive glass window took up an entire wall; it overlooked the bustling streets below.

The private room was tastefully furnished: there was a wooden Arhat bed, a traditional Chinese square table for a party of eight, a round red sandalwood table inlaid with mother-of-pearl, and high-back mahogany dining chairs upholstered in red velvet. There was also a small karaoke corner, separated from the rest of the room by a folding screen.

"Take a seat. I'll get the waiters to bring over a few starters." Xue Jingjiang hurried about as he personally saw to the menu and food preparations.

Huo Shaoheng pulled out one of the dining chairs for Gu Nianzhi.

He sat on the chair next to her, his legs crossed. He poured her a cup of tea, and leisurely rested an arm on the back of Gu Nianzhi's chair.

Gu Nianzhi immediately sat up straight. She did not dare lean backward.

He was so close to her it almost felt as though she were sitting in his arms. She could practically feel his warm breath on her skin. His arm was right behind her, and she wanted desperately to lean into it.