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255 You Must Believe Me 3

 Yin Shixiong kept the smile on his face as he looked in the direction of the black limousine. Inwardly, however, he was reeling from shock.

Why was He Zhichu at the party?!

If this was happening in the United States, Yin Shixiong would not have batted an eyelash; He Zhichu was an extremely influential man in the US political and military circles, after all. But here, in the Huaxia Empire?!

Had He Zhichu always been such close friends with the Prime Minister's family?

Yin Shixiong felt he had failed in his duty as a Special Ops soldier. Why hadn't he discovered anything about this during the background checks on He Zhichu?

Yin Shixiong pretended to rub his ear with a hand as he tapped his earpiece, sending a sequence of loud and soft clicks over to Zhao Liangze and Huo Shaoheng. It was a message in Morse code.

Zhao Liangze and Huo Shaoheng received the news at the same time.

Zhao Liangze did not know who Dou Qingyan was. Like Yin Shixiong, he was surprised to hear that He Zhichu had been invited to such an exclusive party.

Huo Shaoheng's feelings, however, were slightly more complicated.

Why was Dou Qingyan going around with He Zhichu?

His face clouded, but in a moment he had turned to fix his gaze upon Gu Nianzhi's lovely face. He reached out and squeezed her hand.

Gu Nianzhi turned to look at him, her pouty, cherry red lips curved into a faint smile. Her large, doe-like eyes shimmered like an autumn lake; even the iciest hearts had to melt at the stirring sight of her.

Zhao Liangze got out of the bulletproof car and opened the door for Huo Shaoheng.

Huo Shaoheng emerged from the car. He turned and helped Gu Nianzhi out of the car.

Gu Nianzhi was wearing a cherry pink A-line one-shoulder evening gown made of tulle, with a small mink cashmere shawl draped across her shoulders. Her long hair hung over her back, unadorned save for the headband braid above the smooth expanse of her pretty forehead. It was a look reserved only for the young and confident; it was beautiful, and full of youthful daring.

Her exquisite eyebrows were entirely natural-she had not had to trim or artificially shape them. She did not need mascara, either: her eyelashes were long, curly, and naturally thick. Unlike the heavily made-up women about her, she did not have to worry about her mascara streaking and spoiling her good looks.

It was the same for her face; there was only a thin layer of matte foundation on her face. She had only put it on to dampen the effect of her snowy white complexion, which would have attracted too many stares otherwise.

She had chosen a pale cherry pink for her lipstick, which made her pouty lips seem even more enticing.

She had tried not to attract too much attention, but her natural beauty and youthful radiance set her apart from the rest of the crowd. She was truly one of a kind.

Huo Shaoheng admired her beauty, but he did not show it. Instead, he took her hand and escorted her towards the steps leading to the Prime Minister's official residence.

...

Outside the main entrance of the Prime Minister's official residence, He Zhichu presented himself to the Prime Minister and his wife. He bowed slightly, and said, his expression cool and impassive, "My name is He Zhichu. Pleased to meet you."

The Prime Minister quickly shook hands with him. He said, with heartfelt emotion, "Thank you, Lawyer He. Qingyan would never have been able to return to us, if it hadn't been for you!"

"Big Sis! Big Sis! You're finally back!" The young, delicate girl beside Dou Haoyan came forward and took Dou Qingyan's hand. "Big Sis, do you remember me? It's me, Aiyan!"

"Little Aiyan, you're all grown up now!" Dou Qingyan smiled as she tousled the younger girl's hair. She turned and said to He Zhichu, who was standing beside her: "This is my younger sister, Aiyan. She's a lot younger than my older brother and me, she just turned 18 last year."

Dou Aiyan looked at He Zhichu curiously; she blushed as she said, smiling, "Nice to meet you, Lawyer He."

He Zhichu nodded to her in greeting. His gaze lingered on her face for a little longer than necessary-the fact that she had just turned 18 seemed to have piqued his interest.

The First Lady grabbed Dou Qingyan's hand, her eyes bright with unshed tears. "Qingyan, come, let's go in. What a cruel child you are! You were gone for six years, and you never once contacted either your father or me. You were gone for so long your big brother and your little sister have forgotten how you look like."

"What are you saying, Mother? I'd recognize Qingyan anywhere." Dou Haoyan chuckled. "I can't say the same for Little Aiyan here, however."

"Nonsense!" Dou Aiyan pouted. "I was already 12 when Big Sis left! Why wouldn't I remember her?! What do you think I am, a little baby?"

"Oh, you're not a little baby anymore? I honestly couldn't tell!" Dou Haoyan laughed heartily. He extended a hand towards He Zhichu and said, with heartfelt gratitude, "Lawyer He, thank you so much for your help."

He Zhichu said impassively, "It was no trouble at all. Say nothing of it."

"It may have been no trouble at all for you, but it's a big deal for my family," said Dou Haoyan sincerely. He stepped aside. "Please, follow me."

He Zhichu gave a slight nod, and followed Dou Haoyan to the Prime Minister's official residence.

Dou Qingyan followed behind her mother, but suddenly stopped to ask: "Where's Miss Wen?"

As if in reply, He Zhichu stopped, and Wen Shouyi caught up to them from behind.

She had stepped out of the black limousine after the rest of them, and had kept a respectful distance with a pleasant smile on her face. She had practically disappeared into the background.

She heard Dou Qingyan ask for her, and quickly walked over. "Miss Dou..."

"Shouyi, you can call me Qingyan. Don't be a stranger, now," Dou Qingyan said with sincere warmth. She took Wen Shouyi's hand and introduced her to her mother, the First Lady. "Mommy, this is Miss Wen, Lawyer He's assistant. She's also an associate professor at Harvard Law School. Don't be fooled by her gentle, demure appearance-she cuts her opponents to pieces with her sharp tongue in court. She gives most men a run for their money!"

"I'm impressed. It's very nice to meet you, you must be a rare breed indeed." The First Lady politely complimented Wen Shouyi, before leading the two younger ladies to the official residence's main entrance.

The Prime Minister had already gone in, with He Zhichu and his eldest son, Dou Haoyan, beside him.

Dou Aiyan was the last one to enter, but she did not mind. She glanced curiously at the guests waiting to go through security screening at the side entrances, and took the time to wave to the m before running to catch up to her brother, Dou Haoyan. She took his hand, but her eyes were glued to He Zhichu.

The guests who were still waiting outside of the Prime Minister's official residence for the security check noticed He Zhichu, and wondered who he was.

They discreetly began asking one another for information about him, but his identity was a complete mystery to them.

But they all agreed that he knew how to make an entrance; instead of diligently scaling the social ladder from below like everyone else, He Zhichu had practically parachuted into the upper echelons of the Huaxia Empire on New Year's Day, catching everyone by surprise. Within minutes, he had become the hottest topic at the party.

Yin Shixiong was the only one among all the guests who actually knew who He Zhichu was.

Jin Wanyi stared at He Zhichu curiously. She said, with genuine surprise, "That man over there isn't Huo Shaoheng? But look at the way he carries himself-he has to be someone important!"

"Is that so?" Yin Shixiong smiled. "Surely he pales in comparison to General Huo?"

"Why do you say that? You've met Huo Shaoheng?" Jin Wanyi was even more curious now. "Where do you work at, if you don't mind me asking?"

Yin Shixiong rubbed his chin and said, smiling, "I'm just making a logical deduction. Think about it: General Huo is a high-ranking military officer, but Lawyer He is just a lawyer. Which would have the more intimidating aura? A general, or a lawyer?"

"You have a point." Jin Wanyi nodded. "But that man doesn't look like a lawyer to me."

"Oh? How so?"

"...I can't explain it. It's just a feeling." Jin Wanyi shook her head. "Oh, don't listen to my nonsense. I honestly don't know what I'm talking about, don't mind me."

Yin Shixiong looked thoughtfully in He Zhichu's direction, but he had already disappeared. He sent several messages to Huo Shaoheng and Zhao Liangze.

...

Gu Nianzhi took Huo Shaoheng's arm as they entered the large hall on the first floor of the Prime Minister's official residence, where the buffet-style dinner party was taking place.

The Prime Minister had hired chefs and kitchen crew from a five-star hotel to feed the guests at the party.

Long, rectangular tables with white, pristine tablecloths had been set up in the hall. The chefs and waiters, dressed in neat uniforms and white chef's hats, weaved through the hall like busy bees as they laid out tables with sumptuous food and delicacies from all over the country.

There was even a barbecue pit in the small garden behind the hall; someone was tending to it, grilling the choicest, most expensive cuts of beef and mutton from the western provinces.

Huo Shaoheng and Gu Nianzhi sauntered into the hall from the back entrance, just as the Prime Minister and his group entered from the main entrance.

Lively music began to play, and the atmosphere in the hall was at once cheerful and buoyant. The guests clustered around the Prime Minister's little group, like stars paying their respects to the moon.

Huo Shaoheng and Gu Nianzhi stood at the other end of the hall, with Zhao Liangze, dressed in a smart suit, acting as their bodyguard and attendant. The aura of dignified importance from the three of them rivaled the Prime Minister's.

Gu Nianzhi looked up at Huo Shaoheng and said something to him, her face radiant. Huo Shaoheng lowered his face and smiled at her in reply.

He Zhichu stood in the middle of the crowd, watching the scene from afar. His bright, almond eyes were cold as ice.