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207 Lucky Enough

 Gu Nianzhi quickly opened her eyes. She stared at Huo Shaoheng.

Her large, misty eyes shimmered with unshed tears. There was a hint of uncertainty and embarrassment in them. She was a green fruit that was now on the verge of ripening, so to say.

Huo Shaoheng felt a thrill run through his body. He could not help himself-he cupped her cheeks and kissed her.

The last time he had kissed her, he had been like a wild, unstoppable hurricane. This time, however, he was exceedingly gentle; he gingerly pressed his lips to the extraordinary softness of her mouth.

He carefully pressed his lips against hers a few times, before parting his lips to suck on hers.

Gu Nianzhi's lips were a little swollen. Her heart fluttered. She extended her arms and wrapped them around Huo Shaoheng's waist, nestling herself in his arms as she leaned into his tender kisses.

Her lips were still lightly pressed together, however. She was nervous.

Huo Shaoheng's gentle, insistent kisses eventually persuaded her to relax and open up her mouth.

His tongue slipped inside, invading her private domain for the second time.

His tongue explored the inside of her mouth confidently and meticulously. Finally, it caressed the delicate tip of her tongue playfully. Gu Nianzhi shivered violently all over.

Was the tip of her tongue her weakness? He had barely touched it, but she was already ready to collapse to the floor.

Huo Shaoheng noticed that she was getting increasingly weak-kneed. He moved one of his hands from her cheek to her slender waist, and held her up as he continued kissing her.

Gu Nianzhi had always been an intelligent student, eager and quick to learn. In a few moments, she had mastered the basic elements of kissing and was now shyly returning his kisses.

She pressed her lips together and gently sucked on Huo Shaoheng's lips, just as he had done to her.

Huo Shaoheng stilled. He hugged her tightly in her arms as he parted his lips for her.

Gu Nianzhi could not ignore his invitation. She tentatively slipped the tip of her tongue into Huo Shaoheng's hot mouth.

She had barely tasted the inside of Huo Shaoheng's mouth when his tongue impatiently surged out to greet hers. It wrapped around her tongue, caressing it, rubbing it, provoking it.

Every time Gu Nianzhi thought she had mastered the art of kissing, Huo Shaoheng surprised her with something new.

There was so much to learn. There was a vast sea of knowledge waiting for her.

Gu Nianzhi swooned, her brain heady from Huo Shaoheng's kisses. She had not known that Huo Shaoheng-the staunch, stoic, no-nonsense major general-could be so gentle.

She lost all sense of time. Finally, the doorbell to their suite rang, and an orderly spoke over the intercom. "General Huo, your breakfast is ready."

Huo Shaoheng released Gu Nianzhi's lips, and helped her smooth her messy hair.

Gu Nianzhi let out a satisfied sigh. She lowered her eyes and leaned against Huo Shaoheng's chest, her lips curved into a secret smile-she looked lustful and satisfied.

Huo Shaoheng found it irresistible.

He lowered his eyes to look at her. "Nianzhi, are you trying to seduce me?"

Gu Nianzhi had been caught red-handed.

She smiled and took a step backwards. She smoothed her hair, and adjusted her top, which had gotten a little wrinkled. She tilted her head as she asked coyly: "Yes, I was. Were you seduced, Huo Shao?"

"It was okay. Try harder next time," Huo Shaoheng said indifferently as he tousled her hair. He promptly turned and left the room.

Gu Nianzhi pouted behind his back as she followed him to the dining room for breakfast.

They entered the dining room, and saw that Huo Jialan, Zhang Wenna, and Zhang Wenjie were already there.

The three of them rose from their chairs to greet Huo Shaoheng. "Good morning, Cousin Brother."

Huo Shaoheng nodded to them and greeted them in return, one by one. He gestured for them to sit down.

Zhang Wenna's eyes had lit up at Gu Nianzhi's youthful, attractive get-up this morning. She walked over to her with a smile on her face, and tugged at her hand as she asked: "Nianzhi, I love your clothes! Where did you buy them? Which brand?"

Gu Nianzhi sat beside her. "My top is from Alice + Olivia, the trousers are tailor-made. I like them too!"

"Alice + Olivia is a brand for young girls. Their clothes are cute, and a little sexy. Nianzhi, this yellow cashmere pullover looks great on you-only someone with skin as fair and clear as yours would be able to pull off such a bright color." Zhang Wenna spoke eloquently; she was clearly familiar with these global clothing brands.

Gu Nianzhi smiled inwardly. An orphan girl like herself would never have had the chance to wear all these world-class clothing brands, were it not for Huo Shaoheng's seemingly endless generosity.

She had a small frame and a thin waist, but her hips were full and her legs were long. There were few trousers she could buy off the rack, and those that she did buy had to be altered by a tailor.

Huo Shaoheng had eventually stopped buying her ready-to-wear brands, and switched entirely to tailor-made items. He ordered them from famous tailors within the Empire, as well as foreign big-names. He chose the fabrics, decided on the designs, and accompanied her abroad three times a year for the tailors to take her measurements-all for the sake of clothes that would fit her.

She had taken it all for granted at the time, and had not felt that there had been anything out of the ordinary about it.

It was only later, when she had gone to college and been exposed to the school's diverse student population, that she had realized how well Huo Shaoheng had been treating her. None of her classmates' biological parents were quite as caring or as generous.

She did not have parents, but she had been lucky enough to meet Huo Shaoheng when she had been at her most helpless.

Gu Nianzhi smiled at Huo Shaoheng, before turning to nod at Zhang Wenna. "I know right? I love this brand, too, but I'm a little old for it now, don't you think?"

"What?!" Zhang Wenna's eyes were wide with surprise. "You're only 18! What do you mean, you're old? What does that make the rest of us, who are already over 20? Fossils?"

Gu Nianzhi could not resist laughing. "I didn't mean that. How old are you?"

"22," Zhang Wenna continued wistfully, "I want to be 18, too!"

Huo Jialan, who was sitting opposite Huo Shaoheng, shifted in her seat uncomfortably. She rapped her knuckles on the table lightly. "Eat your breakfast."

The Huo family was extremely particular about the "don't talk while eating" rule. Although none of the older, stricter members of the family ate breakfast at the table, Huo Jialan tried to enforce this rule whenever possible.

Zhang Wenna pressed her lips together and sucked her cheeks in sullenly. She ducked her head and quickly finished her oatmeal and milk. She set her bowl down and said to Huo Jialan, "Sister Lan, I have a few friends I'd like to invite to our New Year party."

Huo Jialan hummed half-heartedly in reply, before adding, "I'll give you a form. Fill it out with their particulars and their family background, and give it back to me before tonight. I'll get someone to vet them."

"Vet them?!" Zhang Wenna raised her voice. "Why are you vetting my friends?!"

"Because I don't know them." Huo Jialan did not even look up at her. "You know very well what the Huo residence stands for-it's not some trashy joint for nobodies."

"You-!" Zhang Wenna rose from her chair, furious. She jabbed a finger at Huo Jialan as she cried: "Whatever, forget it! So they don't get to come-big deal!"

"Is it a big deal?" Huo Jialan dabbed at her mouth with a napkin. "You're a better judge of that than I am. You and your family have given up so much just to be able to live under this roof, haven't you?"

Zhang Wenna immediately shrank back, feeling guilty. Her eyes darted towards Huo Shaoheng and Gu Nianzhi; she was afraid they would laugh and jeer at her.

But her fears were unfounded: Huo Shaoheng and Gu Nianzhi did not even look up. They concentrated on eating their breakfast, entirely oblivious to what was happening at the dining table.

Zhang Wenna breathed a sigh of relief. She glowered at Huo Jialan, before turning to Huo Shaoheng and Gu Nianzhi to say: "Cousin Brother, Nianzhi, please excuse me. Enjoy your breakfast."

Gu Nianzhi lifted her head to reply, but Zhang Wenna had already left in a huff.

Zhang Wenjie wriggled uncomfortably in his seat, but he was reluctant to leave Gu Nianzhi just yet. He saw that she was still in the middle of her breakfast, and deliberately took his time stirring milk into his oatmeal as he racked his brains for something to talk about. "M-Miss Gu, have you been to the capital before this?"

Gu Nianzhi swallowed her last mouthful of food, and washed it down with her tea. She said cheerfully, "This is my first time in the capital city. I'll be studying here-my classes start next spring."

Huo Shaoheng shot a look at Zhang Wenjie. He put down his knife and leaned over to Gu Nianzhi. "Where are the things you bought? I want to take them upstairs."

Gu Nianzhi said, "I'll go with you. The things are still in my room, anyway."

They were referring to the gifts they had bought for Song Jinning, Huo Shaoheng's mother, from the Chanel flagship store in Scion Plaza the day before.

Huo Shaoheng nodded. When he got up, he said to Huo Jialan and Zhang Wenjie, "We have to leave now; please excuse us."

Zhang Wenjie blushed. He rose from his chair and said to Gu Nianzhi: "Miss Gu, if you want to tour the city, let me know. I can show you around in my free time."

Gu Nianzhi turned to him, smiling. "Thank you. I'll be sure to take you up on your offer when I have the time."

She followed Huo Shaoheng back to their suite, and found the Chanel gift bags. She said to Huo Shaoheng, "Should we go up now? What if Mrs. Huo is still asleep?"

Huo Shaoheng relieved her of the gift bags. He paused, before saying impassively, "Don't call her Mrs. Huo. My parents divorced more than a decade ago."