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210 Once Deep Love

 "You want to fire them?" Huo Shaoheng impassively picked up a napkin from the dining table to wipe her tears."You don't need to cry this hard."

"Not only fire them." Gu Nianzhi wrote the words "Huo Jialan" on his palm. "We also have to take back the right to take care of Mrs. Song."

Although Song Jinning was Huo Shaoheng's mother and he should have more say in her affairs, it was Huo Jialan who had taken care of her in the manor all these years. There was merit in her work, and she also had a special status in the Huo household. Gu Nianzhi wasn't aware of this. Huo Shaoheng mulled over it and finally said in a quiet voice, "Let's talk about this when we get back. You go out with me now and take my mother out to the garden. I'll have Jialan fire those two servants."

Gu Nianzhi blinked her doe-like eyes, keenly aware that there was more that Huo Shaoheng had yet to tell her. "Fine, then that'll be all for today. We'll talk about it tonight." Gu Nianzhi nodded and gave Huo Shaoheng a small smile before suddenly reaching out and adjusting his collar. She was embarrassed. "I got your shirt dirty, I'll go wash it for you when we get back, alright?" Her fingertips were soft and slightly cool as they lightly glided over Huo Shaoheng's neck, causing a soft and pleasing sensation like a feather that caressed the heart. After adjusting his collar, Gu Nianzhi turned to leave. Huo Shaoheng squinted as he put both hands in his trouser pockets and watched her back. He gave into a faint smile.

...

"Mrs. Song, let's get changed. The weather is beautiful today and all the plum blossoms in the garden are blooming; let's go enjoy them!" Gu Nianzhi chattered as though she hadn't been sobbing earlier.

Song Jinning watched Gu Nianzhi take out a rose colored tweed dress suit with white rabbit fur trim on the collar and cuffs out of a Chanel shopping bag. She sighed and said, "So beautiful."

"It'll look even better with you wearing it." Gu Nianzhi enthusiastically closed the bedroom door. "Here, hurry and try it on!"

"Huh? Right now? These are for me?" Song Jinning was slightly confused, but it was apparent that she was reluctant to let go as she stroked the dress suit. "It's really pretty."

"Then put it on." Gu Nianzhi's eyes turned into bright crescent shapes as she smiled.

Song Jinning considered it for a while a blush tinging her cheeks as she mumbled quietly, "Guanchen likes rose colored."

Gu Nianzhi's smile dimmed a bit. What a coincidence.

She had only thought that Song Jinning's skin was so creamy that rose would be especially alluring on her and chose this color. "Great! Maybe we'll have an encounter in the garden when we go down there! Maybe we can meet Huo... Guanchen." Gu Nianzhi stopped herself from saying the word, "Uncle" because she didn't want to give Song Jinning anymore psychological stress. She studied Song Jinning's situation as though she were role playing. In Song Jinning's conscience right now, she was an 18 year old girl, so Gu Nianzhi spoke to her true identity and consciousness as an 18 year old girl when she spoke to her.

Song Jinning was moved by Gu Nianzhi's words and wanted to change. However, she became shy when Gu Nianzhi stood by the mirror watching her with her arms crossed. She mumbled, "Aren't ...Aren't you going to wait outside?"

"Mrs. Song, don't be like this! We're both women here! Don't be shy." Gu Nianzhi winked. "Here, let me check if I picked out the right size for you."

Song Jinning finally acquiesced, removing her old-fashioned jacket with knotted buttons to reveal a pull-on bra.

Gu Nianzhi looked it over. Although it was a modest bra and Song Jinning was very thin, she still had an ample bosom. Of course, it was a bit smaller than when she had been in normal health. She was too thin and her shoulder blades were so sharp they could almost double as weapons. Her jutting clavicles looked especially pitiful. Gu Nianzhi sighed and walked over to help Song Jinning put on the suit, asking in a low voice, "Why are you so thin?" She had already bought the smallest size and hadn't expected it to be still too big on Song Jinning. The color however, suited her perfectly. Her milky skin glowed against the rose fabric.

....

Gu Nianzhi led Song Jinning out from her small bedroom to find that Auntie Xing and Auntie You were already gone. "Huo Shao?" she called.

Huo Shaoheng came out of the small kitchen and froze when he saw Song Jinning in the new clothes. He hadn't seen his mother like this in many years. In all his memories of her, she was pale and sluggish, watching people fearfully and cautiously. She was terrified of offending others and could only sneak glances even at his father. She so scared she hid far away when she had to talk to him. But when she thought no one was watching, she would intently and bashfully peer at Huo Guanchen. Huo Guanchen couldn't approach Song Jinning, not even one step closer. He could only look at her from a safe distance. Of course, it would be impossible for him to ask her to be intimate with him. Huo Guanchen had once loved Song Jinning deeply, but even Huo Shaoheng couldn't guarantee how much of it had survived the weathering of time.

Gu Nianzhi smuglyy raised her brows at Huo Shaoheng, "Huo Shao, what do you think? We can go downstairs now?"

Huo Shaoheng looked at the youthful Gu Nianzhi dressed in a yellow cashmere hoodie and tailored white straight cut wool trousers, then at his mother Song Jinning who was wearing a rose colored Chanel dress suit and appearing as elegant and beautiful as she had been in her youth. He gave a small smile and appeared to be in a better mood. "Good, let's go together." He led the way downstairs as Gu Nianzhi linked arms with Song Jinning.

...

In the living room of Huo Jialan's suite on the second floor, Auntie Xing and Auntie You were embarrassed as they recounted what happened upstairs. When they finished, they proceeded to add in a few woes. "Miss, you've always been the head of the household and have done so much for this family. Now you're being slapped in the face by a little demon that came out of nowhere, so please make it right for us. You can't let her get away with this!"

Huo Jialan frowned. She thought the two servants were being too vulgar and would've immediately fired them if it weren't for the fact that they had been employed with the Huo household for so many years. "Mhmm, I understand. I'll assign other tasks to you. Just forget about taking care of Mrs. Song for now." Huo Jialan nodded to herself and continued, "You two should take a vacation first. Come back to us when they leave."

Huo Jialan was fully aware that Huo Shaoheng and Gu Nianzhi wouldn't be staying for long, so she didn't want to have any direct conflict with Gu Nianzhi. She still couldn't determine what kind of position Gu Nianzhi had in Huo Shaoheng's life and to what extent he would protect her.

Auntie Xing and Auntie You went outside and left Huo Jialan standing alone in her living room. She looked out the window at the garden in the Huo manor backyard. The plum trees were in the peak of the blooming season. A girl in a yellow hoodie and a woman in a dress suit were walking towards the plum trees. The dignified figure of Huo Shaoheng followed them, both hands in his trouser pockets and expression hidden as usual. Just then, a luxury vehicle stopped at the manor entrance. Huo Guanchen emerged from the car to pass by the grove of plum trees, and glimpsed Song Jinning in the garden. Her head was tilted as she smiled at a branch of plum blossoms on the tree. Huo Guanchen hadn't seen her like that for 16 years; he couldn't help stopping and desperately taking in the sight of her.

Huo Jialan witnessed this from the second floor window and smiled as she picked up the phone to make a call. "Aunt Bai, are you back from your excursion? Great, we're to hold a New Year's reception here. Can you make it?"