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322 Glad You Like I

 Custom made! Gu Nianzhi was giddy. Looking at Huo Shaoheng's strapping figure, she felt even more touched and quickly walked over to hug his back. She circled her arms around his waist and leaned her face against his broad back to close her eyes and take a deep breath. All she could smell was his scent and it was intoxicating. "Huo Shao, how did you know...?" How had he known that she wanted a watch that matched with his?

Huo Shaoheng stopped and took Gu Nianzhi's hands from around his waist. He stroked the watch on her wrist gently and said, "You called Bvlgari's customer service."

"How did you know?" Gu Nianzhi felt even more embarrassed, but luckily she was behind Huo Shaoheng and didn't have to face the dark eyes that seemed to be able to read into her mind. She stuttered and made things worse, "I-I-I actually really liked your watch, that's all."

Huo Shaoheng patted her hand and interrupted her flimsy explanation. "You like this watch?"

"Of course! I like it a lot!" Taking her arms back, Gu Nianzhi surveyed the watch on her wrist-it was the style of her dreams, and even the details on the strap were exactly what she had wanted!

"I'm glad you like it." Huo Shaoheng turned around to look at her. "Just tell me what you want; you don't need to explain anything."

Gu Nianzhi felt as if something had struck her heart, but it wasn't painful at all. She was so excited that she felt she could run around in circles, that's how much the happiness overflowed inside her. However, she couldn't find a way to express it with words. She looked away from him awkwardly.

Huo Shaoheng patted her head. "Let's go, it's time for New Year's dinner."

Gu Nianzhi nodded eagerly and followed him downstairs. As soon as they left the bedroom, Huo Shaoheng distanced himself from her and walked at a leisurely placed in front of her. Gu Nianzhi didn't mind and kept glancing at her watch as they walked. Although she tried to hide her smile, the happiness in her eyes revealed her actual mood. The pair arrived at the dining room, Gu Nianzhi happily following after him.

As soon as they came in, Yin Shixiong and Zhao Liangze in the dining room froze. Huo Shaoheng and Gu Nianzhi were actually wearing matching outfits! Huo Shaoheng was in a dark red cashmere sweater with black slim fit pants, while Gu Nianzhi wore a bright red checkered boat-neck cashmere sweater and black ankle-length pants. Her pale wrist was adorned with a rose gold watch, and that was the one accessory she had on.

Yin Shixiong looked at Huo Shaoheng, then Gu Nianzhi. He forcibly swallowed the words, "couple's outfit" down his throat and wished to be blind as he hastily pulled out the chairs for them. "We got here a little early, so come sit down."

The dining table was rectangular and Huo Shaoheng normally sat at the head, but tonight he chose to sit at the first seat, left of the head of the table. Gu Nianzhi sat besides him at the second seat left of the head of the table. Yin Shixiong and Zhao Liangze happened to be on the right side of the head of the table, which was right across from Huo Shaoheng and Gu Nianzhi.

"Hey, where will Mrs. Song be sitting?" Yin Shixiong grumbled. He had thought Huo Shaoheng would sit at the head.

"Auntie Song will sit at the head of the table of course." Gu Nianzhi smiled. She was very happy with the night's arrangements.

Yin Shixiong wanted to chime in again, but Zhao Liangze kicked him from under the table. The orderlies began serving the appetizers, starting with potatoes baked with cheese, vegetable and tofu wraps, calamari, beef with broccoli, pork elbow slices, golden fried rice cakes, chopped cucumber salad, and two bowls of purple yam and snow fungus stew. The last two bowls were for Gu Nianzhi and Song Jinning. However, Song Jinning had not yet arrived.

Huo Shaoheng saw this and got up from his seat. "I'll go take a look." With Huo Shaoheng going to check on Song Jinning, the three people left in the dining room began to chat and enjoy the appetizers. The official residence had zoned air conditioning, so all the bedrooms were set to be warmer and the living rooms outside were cooler because they were typically empty. This was to save energy. With it being New Year's Eve, everyone was downstairs, so the temperature was set to 23 degrees Celsius and it felt like spring.

Gu Nianzhi felt hot after she had a glass of wine. She tugged at her collar and fanned herself with her hand. As soon as she lifted her wrist, her watch glowed with a warm golden sheen under the chandelier lights in the dining room and caught the attention of the two men.

"Hey? Did you just get this watch?" Yin Shixiong had never seen Gu Nianzhi wear such a watch before. It appeared exquisite, with the rose gold color softening the bold design. It somehow matched Gu Nianzhi's aura very well.

Gu Nianzhi nodded with a smile then continued to stir her bowl of stew and sipped at it occasionally. The purple yam and snow fungus were delicately combined; it tasted fresh and sweet without being too heavy. She felt warm from just the first spoonful. "This is so delicious," Gu Nianzhi said as she kept sighing with delight.

"There's more in the kitchen, so you can get a second serving after." Yin Shixiong saw that Gu Nianzhi was brushing it off so he didn't bother asking again. He began joking around with Zhao Liangze, and Gu Nianzhi chimed in from time to time. The dining room was lively with laughter and chatter.

...

At the Huo manor in the central region of the Imperial Capital, the atmosphere was eerily quiet and did not feel like Lunar New Year at all. Zhang Wenna and Zhang Wenjie were hiding in their rooms; they could only text each other to communicate. Uncle and Aunt Zhang were waiting in Grandfather Huo's study, with one person serving him tea and the other standing behind a charming older woman.

She was past the age of sixty and wore a traditional Huaxia style slim cut jacket with peacock knotted buttons and tailored slim wool pants. Even when she was inside the house, she wore black pointed mid-heel shoes. She had a creamy complexion. Although she appeared a little older, with many crow's feet that couldn't be covered with any amount of foundation or concealer, her eyebrows had been plucked and delicately drawn on and her eyes were tattooed with eyeliner so as to accentuate them. She had full inked brows, bright eyes, a straight nose, and softly drawn lips. Even though she was old now, it was apparent that she had been a beautiful 'girl next door' when she was younger. The woman sat next to Grandfather Huo and gently urged him, "Elder Huo, Shaoheng is spending his first Lunar New Year at his new official residence. It's understandable that you are angry, however, New Year's dinner is ready, so let's go eat now."

"Little Zhang, stop standing up for him." Grandfather Huo angrily pounded the table with his fist. "He hasn't been home for Lunar New Year six years now! I didn't blame him when he was out on missions in the past. But this year! This year he's at the Imperial Capital and won't even show up! Does he want this family or not?!"

Huo Guanchen stood in front of Grandfater Huo and frowned. "Don't be angry, Father. How about I call him again?"

The woman trying to assuage Grandfather Huo was his head nurse, Zhang Feng. She was eight years younger than Grandfather Huo and was in her sixties. However, she maintained her health and her appearance meticulously, so she appeared like she was just a little older than 50 years old. Uncle Zhang was her son, Zhang Baochen. He poured Grandfather Huo a cup of tea and looked up at Huo Guanchen. "Second Brother, Shaoheng has his difficulties too. Second Sister-I mean, Mrs. Song is staying there now as well. He can't very well leave her there alone and come home."

Upon the mention of Song Jinning, Grandfather Huo's mood darkened. He stood up and bellowed at Huo Guanchen, "Look what you've done! I told you not to get a divorce, and you just had to do it anyway! Do you regret it now?!" Not only had Huo Guanchen lost Song Jinning, but his son had also gotten engaged to the murderer, Bai Jinyi. What nonsense! Grandfather Huo had been upset ever since Bai Jinyi was convicted. If it weren't for Huo Shaoheng's quick rescue of the situation, the Huo family would have become the running joke within the upper class of the Imperial Capital. Now that Huo Shaoheng had appeared, no one dared to speak ill of the Huo's.

"Elder Huo, you promised me to speak nicely. Getting so angry will raise your blood pressure again. Did you take your anti-hypertensive drugs today?" Zhang Feng pulled Grandfather Huo back into his seat and rubbed his chest in comfort.

Huo Guanchen kept his eyes downcast and replied frostily, "I'll go call Shaoheng." As soon as he opened the door to leave, he saw Huo Jialan standing there with a suitcase. She wore a coat and a mink fur hat.

"Second Uncle." Huo Jialan nodded to him, her voice trembling. "Elder Cousin isn't coming home because of me, so I'll leave now. Please call Elder Cousin and tell him that since I already left, he can come home for Lunar New Year now."