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208 A Past Like Smoke

 Divorced over a decade ago? Gu Nianzhi was stunned by Huo Shaoheng's words. She stared blankly at Huo Shaoheng, slowly reaching out to hold his wrist. Swallowing hard, she had no idea how to console him. If they had divorced over a decade ago, that meant that Huo Shaoheng had only been a teenager then.

Huo Shaoheng glanced at Gu Nianzhi. "You don't need to comfort me, I already told you that this was something that happened a long time ago. It doesn't affect me anymore. I'm telling you now because I don't want you to hear it from anyone else and overthink it."

Gu Nianzhi kept quiet but actually wanted to hit him; he was so annoying with his display of indifference and machismo. She let go of his hand.

Huo Shaoheng walked in front of her, carrying the Chanel shopping bags as he replied dryly, "Of course there's a reason why I'm saying this."

Gu Nianzhi hastily caught up with him and tugged at his shirt. She looked up at him and wanted him to make things clear before leaving.

Huo Shaoheng stopped walking and turned to look at her. "I told you before, my mother suddenly fainted 16 years go and woke up like this."

"I remember." Gu Nianzhi promptly replied, "Aunt Song passed out because of the divorce?"

The corners of Huo Shaoheng's mouth tugged upward as he ruffled her head with his free hand. "What do you mean? Your little brain is overthinking it. The truth is not far from that, but it involves confidentiality agreements and I can't disclose that to outsiders."

"Huh?" Gu Nianzhi was even more surprised. "What incident involves confidentiality agreements? Aunt Song passing out? Or getting divorced?"

"Of course it was the passing out." Huo Shaoheng felt helpless in front of Gu Nianzhi's extensive questioning, but this was about his mother and was also very important to Gu Nianzhi. He had to tell her, but of course wouldn't say anything he shouldn't say.

Gu Nianzhi asked again, "Then can you tell me? I really want to know."

"Of course I'll tell you what I can." Huo Shaoheng stated simply, "My grandfather was a renowned high energy physicist named Song Haichuan, but he passed away 16 years ago."

Gu Nianzhi immediately noticed the year. "Again,16 years ago? That was the same year Aunt Song...fell ill?"

Perhaps her father's death had triggered her illness?

However, Huo Shaoheng's reason was completely unexpected, "It was the same year. My mother is a scientist. She was a very intelligent woman-she started university when she was 15 and earned a doctorate in theoretical physics when she was just 20. After she graduated, she joined by my grandfather's lab, where they conducted a top secret experiment for the military. One day, 16 years ago, there was an accident during my grandfather's experiment and the whole lab was destroyed. My grandfather passed away, and my mother was pushed outside at the very last moment. Her brain received a huge shock and concussion, and then she passed out. When she woke up, she became like this."

Gu Nianzhi was silent and then said, "So it was because of the accident?"

"Yes. In the beginning, I thought she was just confused and would get better with time. However, four, five, and then many years passed and she was still the same. My father was an ordinary man, and she was a patient, so they couldn't..." Huo Shaoheng gave a rare sigh. "Afterwards they divorced."

Gu Nianzhi felt conflicted and speechless after digesting all the information. It wasn't anyone's fault that Song Jinning had been in an accident during an experiment and had become the way she was. At that time, both she and Huo Guanchen had been young, so it was unreasonable to ask a man at his prime to abstain for a mentally ill wife. However, Gu Nianzhi was also a woman and couldn't get over a certain fact. After pondering for a long while, she spoke in a low voice, "If the situation was reversed and this happened to Uncle Huo, I think Aunt Song would've stayed by his side forever. She wouldn't-"

"Nianzhi, this is the elders' business, we have no right to say anything." Huo Shaoheng interrupted, and walked out of the suite. "Moreover, they only divorced in the legal aspect. My father and grandfather forbade the Song's from taking my mother away and kept her at home. All these years, my mother's condition hasn't worsened because she's familiar with the environment here."

"But she also didn't get any better." Gu Nianzhi mumbled, but she instinctively knew it wasn't the appropriate time to discuss that. This was between Huo Shaoheng's mother and father: it was impossible for him to speak badly of either one of them-especially in this case where neither did anything wrong. He was in no position to blame anyone.

Gu Nianzhi followed him out the door and suddenly remembered something else, so she yanked at his shirt while attempting not to appear like she was gossiping. She asked in all seriousness, "Umm, Huo Shao, your father... Uncle Huo, he didn't remarry right?"


"Then... then... umm. How does he deal with his personal needs now?" Gu Nianzhi lowered her head shamefully under Huo Shaoheng's sharp gaze, her hands clenched together. She was asking too much... But she wanted to know!

Huo Guanchen had divorced Huo Jinning because of intimacy issues with her. From Gu Nianzhi's perception, it was certain that he did that also because he had another women help him deal with his needs. Otherwise, he would be committing adultery, which was a serious ethical misconduct.

Huo Shaoheng stared at Gu Nianzhi for some time. Although he appeared indifferent, he was actually feeling a little surprised. Gu Nianzhi was unexpectedly sensitive enough to know right away that his father had another woman. "Yes, later on he had a... girlfriend." Huo Shaoheng no longer wanted to continue the discussion, "Let's go, my mother should be making breakfast. Do you still want to have some congee?"

"Oh, yes." Gu Nianzhi's attention was quickly diverted, her taste buds could still remember the deliciousness of Song Jinning's congee from the other day. They carried several Chanel shopping bags to Song Jinning's quarters on the third floor.

Song Jinning was indeed making breakfast in the kitchen-she had made congee and even seafood fried rice. When she saw Gu Nianzhi and Huo Shaoheng enter, she appeared confused, "May I ask who you're looking for?"

Gu Nianzhi was extra friendly and linked elbows with her with a smile. "Mrs. Song, I'm here to have breakfast! Your congee is the best." Although Gu Nianzhi had already had a full meal earlier, she didn't want to give up the more delicious food Song Jinning made. Song Jinning appeared bashful. Anyone was happy to get a compliment, and this was especially the case for a mental patient like her.

Huo Shaoheng sat in the small living room and didn't bother going into the kitchen when he saw how unexpectedly natural Gu Nianzhi was with his mother.

"Great, you like my congee? Did you have it before?" Song Jinning smiled as she served Gu Nianzhi a small bowl, then dished out golden fried rice into a ceramic bowl. Gu Nianzhi noticed that this was the same bowl Huo Shaoheng had put the fried rice in for Song Jinning last time. She glanced at Song Jinning and secretly thought that perhaps Song Jinning hadn't forgotten everything from the previous day? She clearly had some recollection, but it was too blurry that she seemed to act out of a maternal instinct.

"Huo Shao, breakfast is ready. Do you want to come have come?" Gu Nianzhi called.

Huo Shaoheng rose and walked over, nodding to Song Jinning in thanks. Song Jinning grew nervous when she saw him and couldn't even meet his eyes. She fidgeted with her apron and said quietly, "You two eat, I'm going to take a look outside." She scurried away.

Huo Shaoheng sat down and looked at the fried rice before steadily picking up the spoon to have a bite.

Gu Nianzhi gulped down two spoonfuls of plain congee and asked quietly, "Huo Shao, where are the servants who take care of Aunt Song? How come we didn't see them today?"