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372 Too Tempting

 "You're exaggerating." Gu Nianzhi's eyes turned into crescents when she smiled. She muffled her mouth with a hand as pale as jade. Her normally innocent eyes grew narrow with the smile to appear charming and alluring.

Although Ma Qiqi was a girl and completely straight, her heart skipped a beat. Shaking her head, she covered Gu Nianzhi's eyes with her own hand and laughed, "Tempting! Too tempting! Nianzhi, don't look at me with such seductive eyes again. I'm afraid I might fall for you!" Gu Nianzhi couldn't hold back her laughter and her belly ached from the giggles. The two girls chattered happily in the living room, the laughter carrying out to the hallway.

A classmate from next door poked her head in to look and laughed, "Hey? It's totally different now that you guys are living here, this place used to be so dead. Everyone had to be on her tiptoes when they passed this room because it might disturb the neurotic princess!"

Gu Nianzhi, "..." Who was she talking about?

Ma Qiqi went over to mudge that girl's head, "You're awfully chatty, it wasn't even as bad as you're saying. Right, I think you have to speak during the meeting tonight, did you prepare yet?"

"Oh! I totally forgot! Thank you for reminding me!" The girl whizzed back inside her own dorm room. Gu Nianzhi looked at Ma Qiqi again and thought she was not only straight forward, but didn't speak badly behind people's backs. She had good character indeed.

Ma Qiqi turned around and Gu Nianzhi already looked away, "The cafeteria is about to close, aren't you going to have dinner?"

"Oh! I forgot! I was enjoying the sweet pea cake too much!" Ma Qiqi almost jumped up fro her seat and ran into her room to grab her wallet before rushing out the door.

Gu Nianzhi laughed so hard she she couldn't sit straight. She slumped on the sofa and her face finally felt numb after a long time because she had been smiling all along. The sky grew dark and Gu Nianzhi looked at her watch to see it was already 7pm. He Zhichu's meeting was said to be accomodating the time of his doctoral students, so it didn't start until 8:30pm. Class 1's meeting started at 7:30pm, soMa Qiqi had dinner then directly went over to the classroom for the meeting and that meant Gu Nianzhi had an hour alone. She stood up from the sofa and went to her room to continue organizing the books and clothes. Not long after, Huo Shaoheng's special ringtone sounded. She frantically got up from behind the desk and ran towards the bed to get her phone but tripped over the stool in the middle of the floor. She rolled on the ground and almost hit the bed. Grabbing the phone from the bedside, she quickly answered the phone while panting, "Is this Huo Shao?"

Huo Shaoheng held a cigarette and sat in a daze on the balcony of the suite on the second floor of his official residence. A pot of black tea and an oval shaped azure plate with two small cakes sat on the small coffee table. The cakes were Gu Nianzhi's favorite flavors. Huo Shaoheng didn't like sweet and rich food, but eating the things Gu Nianzhi liked when she wasn't there made him feel a bit better. Taking a bite of the cake was like she was there with him, sweet and intoxicating. "Nianzhi..." Huo Shaoheng's voice sounded from the phone, low and magnetic like a cello being played at a creekside in the night. The sound carried through the water vapour and made enveloped her.

Gu Nianzhi answered with a gasp, "Huo Shao? Did you have dinner yet?"

"Yes, did you.?" Huo Shaoheng rubbed his fingers on the small azure colored plate and heard the gasping in her voice with careful listening, "What's wrong? Did you just exercise?"

"No, I was in a rush and tripped on the ground. I'm sitting on the floor and talking on the phone with you right now."

"In a rush? What's so urgent?" Huo Shaoheng flicked the cigarette at the ashtray, "If you have something urgent going on, I'll let you go now."

"No!" Gu Nianzhi panicked, "I was in a rush to take your call and tripped. If you hang up now, that means I tripped for nothing?"

"So you're blaming me now?" Huo Shaoheng's rich laughter carried from the phone like a hand tickling with her earlobe.

Gu Nianzhi put her hand over her thumping heart and thought to herself how cruelly Huo Shao was teasing her? Tease her again and again, be careful that she'll eat him up..."Of course I blame you!" Gu Nianzhi huffed, "If you called me more often I wouldn't panic when I hear your ringtone."

Huo Shaoheng's lips curved into a subtle smile as he deliberately teased her, "The rare things in life are most appreciated, I'd better call you even less often from now on."

"...No way!" Gu Nianzhi grew anxious and stood up suddenly. She knocked her bruised leg against the corner of the bed and couldn't help yelping.

Huo Shaoheng's smile quickly faded and he quickly stood up as well, "Nianzhi? What is it?"

Gu Nianzhi was in so much pain she couldn't speak for a long moment. Gripping the phone hard, she rubbed her leg as she slumped on the bed. After a while, she finally muttered sullenly, "...I just knocked my bruised leg against the bed."

Huo Shaoheng was speechless for a long time, then lectured her quietly, "Looks like you have to resume training again. How long have you stopped training that you're falling all over your own room? How long ago did you last run?"

Gu Nianzhi was crying to herself and wanted to hang up, but couldn't bear to do it. She appeared very conflicted and decided to clutch her bruised leg and whine, "It's hurts so much... My leg hurts so much... Oww.... It's bruised and swollen..."

Huo Shaoheng immediately understood Gu Nianzhi's little trick--she was intentionally changing the topic so he would feel sorry for her. "Does it really hurt?"

"It really hurts! It's hurts so bad! Look, it's all swollen!" Gu Nianzhi rolled up her pant leg to reveal her pale calf where a large dark bruise had formed. Gu Nianzhi used the camera on her phone and sent a photo to Huo Shaoheng.

Huo Shaoheng looked at the photo but his face was as calm as always, "That's just a small bruise, there's no need to make a big fuss out of it. Stop pretending now, if you keep this up I'll bring you back to the base and make you do 10 kilometer cross-country runs and physical training just like the special forces."

It went without saying that Huo Shaoheng understood Gu Nianzhi all too well--as soon as she heard his words, she pulled her pant leg back down and walked around the room while kicking her leg, "Huo Shao, I'm fine. I'm really fine. I just walked around the room a few things and didn't feel a thing, so you can stop worrying about me and focus on work, go protect the country. There's nothing you have to worry about with me."

Huo Shaoheng's smile grew, "Yeah, it doesn't hurt anymore?"

"Not at all, it's just a small bruise, I'll put some ointment on and it'll be better by tomorrow." Gu Nianzhi slapped her leg proudly.

"Very well then." Huo Shaoheng laid back on the wicker chain and looked ahead quietly. The night was dark and chilly, with stars glittering in the sky and the treeline ahead was barely visible. He looked up at the night sky and finally spoke again, "Nianzhi, do you have memory of the name Gu Xiangwen? 'Gu' as in take care, 'Ji' as in luck and 'Wen' as in article."

"Gu Xiangwen? Who's that?" Gu Nianzhi had no idea what Huo Shaoheng was talking about, "Does this have something to do with me?" Because this person also had the last name "Gu" and Huo Shaoheng was specifically asking, Gu Nianzhi inadvertently thought in in that trajectory. "...Is that my relative?" Gu Nianzhi asked again, thinking hard but unable to recall the name "Gu Xiangwen" in her memories.

Huo Shaoheng knew that Gu Nianzhi blurted out this name while she was in a coma after the bone marrow transplant surgery for Song Jinning. She forgot everything she had said after she woke up, and Huo Shaoheng had been the only one present to hear her say this name. Because of the gravity of the situation, he had only told Zhao Liangze and Yin Shixiong. This was not something to be discussed with others, so he had no one to weigh options with. Huo Shaoheng leaned against the wicker chair with one arm draped across his forehead and covering his eyes. His other hand still held a cigarette that he hadn't smoked from for a long time. It glowed in the darkness and sparked with light. "Nianzhi, do you really not remember knowing someone called Gu Xiangwen?" Huo Shaoheng thought about it for a while and asked with excitement, "This is very important."

Gu Nianzhi closed her eyes in deep concentration, but her mind drew a blank when she tried to search within her lost memories. After a long time, she finally opened her eyes again and looked at the phone to see she was still in the call. She answered the phone, "Huo Shao, are you still there?"

"Yeah." Huo Shaoheng's voice was slightly tired, "Did you remember something?"

Gu Nianzhi was now sure that this must have to do with her lost memories, but she really didn't remember such a name. She asked carefully, "Huo Shao, can you give me more clues so I can try to recall it?" How was she supposed to remember anything with just a name?

"More clues?" Huo Shaoheng repeated calmly.

"Yes, more clues. For example, his age, where he's from, appearance, job, etc." Gu Nianzhi rubbed her leg as she got up. Looking at the watch, she saw it was already past 8pm--she had to get ready for the meeting at He Zhichu's office.

Huo Shaoheng remained silent. If he knew Gu Xiangwen's age, where he's from, appearance and job, why would he need to ask Gu Nianzhi?

She looked in the mirror and realized her pants were wrinkly from the earlier fall, it would be sloppy to go out like that. One hand holding the phone, she took off her cashmere sweater and pants with the other and changed into a thick cashmere sweater dress with warm stockings and tall boots. She also put her wallet, keys and laptop into a backpack. Huo Shaoheng was still quiet by the time she finished packing and she asked, "Huo Shao?"

Huo Shaoheng snapped out of his daze, "What is it?"

"I have to go to a meeting." Gu Nianzhi looked at her watch, "It's in 10 minutes so I have to run."