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249 Angered

 Huo Shaoheng heard a loud bang from the other end of the line, and automatically moved the phone away from his ear. His lips curved into a slight smile; when he checked the phone again, the call from "Professor He" had already been disconnected.

He put away Gu Nianzhi's phone and spoke into the mouthpiece of his Bluetooth headset, addressing the officer on duty on the other end: "Have you finished vetting all of Nianzhi's phone messages? If you are, you can let them through now."

Gu Nianzhi's mobile phone was closely monitored by the Special Operations Forces. The only time no one listened in was when she called Huo Shaoheng on his private line.

All her other calls, both incoming and outgoing, were recorded and archived.

The messages He Zhichu had left her were still "under review." Huo Shaoheng had made sure they were "under review" for a few extra days.

Gu Nianzhi did not know that her mobile phone, all her social media accounts, bank cards, and all other digital information were under constant surveillance by the Special Operations Forces. These precautions had been put in place when she was a minor, to protect her.

Now that she was an adult, Huo Shaoheng wasn't sure whether she would rebel against the bubble of close surveillance she was living in.

But Huo Shaoheng did not deal in hypothetical problems: so long as Gu Nianzhi did not actually protest or rebel against it, it remained a non-issue for him.

...

"Professor He? Professor He? Are you alright?" Wen Shouyi had been outside the study when she heard the loud bang from inside. She frantically knocked on the door, too afraid of He Zhichu to enter without permission.

To her surprise, the door to He Zhichu's study was actually slightly ajar; it had not been shut tight.

Wen Shouyi cautiously peeked through the crack. The floor of the study was a mess.

She spotted his phone, cracked into several pieces, and a porcelain tea cup, smashed into smithereens. There were also the mangled remains of a dark jade paperweight, a green jade brush holder, and a broken iMac.

The desk before him was now entirely empty.

Aside from the mobile phone and the computer, everything else was antique.

He had swept the Yuan Dynasty blue-and-white porcelain Kylin tea cup, the Tang Dynasty dark jade paperweight, and the Song Dynasty green jade brush holder from his desk and onto the oak floor.

Each of the three antiques had been worth hundreds of millions of yuan, enough to buy several luxury mansions in the most expensive parts of the imperial capital-and He Zhichu had destroyed them without a second thought.

The corner of Wen Shouyi's mouth twitched in disapproval. The house was practically overflowing with these priceless antiques, true, but it was still an extravagant waste to trash them like they were worthless junk...

He Zhichu took a few deep breaths, and finally brought his emotions under control.

He leaned back into the high-back massage chair behind his desk, eyes closed. His face was deathly pale.

"...Nianzhi's asleep... Nianzhi's asleep..."

In the middle of the night, a man had taken the call on Gu Nianzhi's phone and told him, "...Nianzhi's asleep..."

Although he knew that it was probably not what he was imagining, He Zhichu could not stop his temper from flaring at the thought.

He felt as though he had lost something he thought had belonged to him. Not only did it belong to someone else now, he wasn't even allowed to take another look at it.

How did this happen?!

He Zhichu felt his headache worsen. He raised a hand and rubbed his temples, but the pain did not subside-on the contrary, he now felt as though a sharp needle were jabbing him in the brain, repeatedly.

"Professor He? Professor He?" Wen Shouyi paled when she saw the look on He Zhichu's face. "Professor He? Is it another migraine? I can give you a massage..."

He Zhichu responded weakly, "Come in."

Wen Shouyi's heart almost sang out in joy. She opened the door and walked in.

It had been months since He Zhichu last allowed her to approach him.

She washed her hands, warmed them under the dryer, and then dabbed her fingers with a special massage oil. She stood behind He Zhichu and gently pressed the pressure points on his scalp.

Wen Shouyi had learned how to do a head massage from the He family's primary doctor, and she had learned it specifically for He Zhichu.

All was quiet in the study. He Zhichu did not speak, but his breathing gradually became easier. His face, too, regained its usual color.

Wen Shouyi smiled slightly. She knew that her massage was working.

He Zhichu's headache quickly went away. Wen Shouyi had not picked up her massage skills in vain.

His expression was a lot more relaxed now. He tapped his fingers on the armrests of his chair as he asked: "You've tied up all the loose ends in America?"

Wen Shouyi was not only He Zhichu's teaching assistant at Harvard Law School, she was also his personal assistant in the Huaxia Empire.

"All done. I've suspended your classes, and your doctoral students will be doing their thesis defense during the summer vacation. Once the summer vacation begins over here, all you have to do is fly back to America and grill them." Wen Shouyi was an excellent secretary; she was diligent, intelligent, and had gotten her position as an associate professor at Harvard University on her own, without any help from anyone else.

He Zhichu nodded. "Not bad..."

There was a brief pause. He asked, "How's your wound?"

"A lot better..." Wen Shouyi smiled as she added: "I've been using the ointment for gunshots wounds you got for me from your family. It's very effective. It'll take a few more days, but I believe there won't even be a scar left."

Wen Shouyi had gotten her gunshot wound on Gu Nianzhi's birthday; she had taken a bullet for Gu Nianzhi when she had shielded her from the Caribbean pirates.

The bullet had almost killed her.

He Zhichu had previously threatened to dismiss her and send her packing, but the threats had stopped after she had taken the bullet.

However, he had kept his distance from her, and had similarly forbidden her from approaching Gu Nianzhi.

When Gu Nianzhi was interning with the US Congress, He Zhichu had sent Wen Shouyi back to Boston, to get her away from Washington.

After that, He Zhichu had made the decision to focus on his career at B University in the Huaxia Empire. He had transferred Wen Shouyi back into her role as his personal assistant to help him deal with all the paperwork.

Wen Shouyi was immensely grateful to He Zhichu for this opportunity. She knew he was giving her one last chance to redeem herself, and she wasn't going to blow it.

He Zhichu could not get the phone call out of his head. His fingers slowly curled into clenched fists.

He heard himself ask: "...That man, Huo Shaoheng-what have you learned about him?"

"Huo Shaoheng? Nianzhi's guardian?" Wen Shouyi cocked her head as she thought for a moment. "He's the rising star of the Huaxia Imperial Military. He's young, but he's already a major general, and the commander of the Special Operations Forces. He's always worked behind the scenes prior to this, but recently, he seems to be gradually moving into the spotlight."

"...That's it?" He Zhichu was annoyed. "You had several days to dig up information on him, and that's all you have for me?"

Wen Shouyi: "..."

She was mildly hurt: she had had a difficult time gathering all that information!

"Professor He, we're newcomers to the Huaxia Empire. We don't have a solid footing here yet. We can't just start asking about the leader of the Empire's Special Operations Forces, especially since it's the most secretive department in the military. They'll start to suspect us," Wen Shouyi deflected effortlessly.

He Zhichu was no fool. He did not need Wen Shouyi to tell him that.

But he was no longer in the mood to wait.

It was painful to think about the phone call. It felt as though his heart had been cut into pieces with a kitchen knife, scattered to the ground, and then ruthlessly trampled underfoot.

"Hurry up and find out everything there is to know about Huo Shaoheng." He Zhichu narrowed his seductive, almond-shaped eyes, his expression frosty.

He refused to think about the possible relationship between Gu Nianzhi and Huo Shaoheng. He knew that Huo Shaoheng was Gu Nianzhi's guardian; if the man dared to "steal" what he was supposed to be "guarding," He Zhichu would make sure his reputation would be ruined for life!

...

Huo Shaoheng smiled as he put Gu Nianzhi's phone into his pocket. He walked down the stairs unhurriedly.

Chairman Long and General Ji were still engrossed in their game of Go.

"Happy New Year to the both of you." Huo Shaoheng seated himself on the sofa opposite them, in the correct, dignified sitting posture for military men: back straight, shoulders thrown back.

"What? It's already the New Year?" Chairman Long looked at his watch. "How time flies! We haven't even finished a game yet."

"Take your time, make yourself at home. I'm going upstairs to sleep," Huo Shaoheng said nonchalantly. If his guests had no intention of asking him how Song Jinning had been cured, he wasn't about to bring it up himself.

But General Ji knew exactly how Huo Shaoheng ticked, and was not so easily fooled. He looked at him over his reading glasses, and asked, while collecting his Go pieces: "Your mother has recovered from her condition, but who cured her? You owe both the military and the Ministry of Science and Technology an explanation, you know."

"I can tell you who cured her: it was Chen Lie, our very own Asclepius working with the military. My mother only got better because of him. She's not entirely recovered, however, and Chen Lie did say that he can't guarantee there won't be a relapse." Huo Shaoheng calmly Song Jinning a foreshadowing.

Chairman Long and General Ji were relieved to hear that it was Chen Lie. "So it was him. Well, we should have expected that... That's all, then. Tomorrow's a holiday. Report to the military the day after tomorrow, and discuss what you want to do about the laboratory accident 16 years ago."