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432 No Concealing

 "Why aren't you asleep yet?" Huo Shaoheng remembered it was already past 11:30 pm when he'd come in. "You still need to recover," he said. "Even if Chen Lie says you're fine, who knows?" Huo Shaoheng approached Gu Nianzhi, took her hand, and walked her back to the bed.

Gu Nianzhi looked up at Hup Shaoheng, her eyes intent yet calm. They shimmered in the dark like the finest obsidian and, unlike the innocence they showed during the daytime, were dark and bottomless. Huo Shaoheng couldn't help holding her waist and bending to kiss her eyelids. Gu Nianzhi's supple body yielded to his powerful arms and bowed backward slightly. His kisses traveled down from her eyes past her delicate nose and finally to her full red lips. He savored her lips like they were his favorite candy. Gu Nianzhi gently nestled into Huo Shaoheng's embrace. She only ever felt safe against his warm chest. The future seemed vague yet reachable, it was finally revealing its full expanse to her. Still, she didn't know everything it held nor what she faced ahead. She was certain about one thing- whether the future was good or bad, her life would never be the same again. She could no longer hide under Huo Shaoheng's wings and ignore the storm outside. Perhaps Huo Shaoheng had given her too much security, and she'd never had to wonder what it would be like to have parents. But now she knew she had to force herself to recover everything she'd lost: her memories, her family, and her complete personal history. If she couldn't recover them, she would never be able to stay with Huo Shaoheng. She couldn't and didn't want to lose him.

Huo Shaoheng continued to kiss her as he placed her onto the bed and drew the blankets over her. Leaning against the bed, he adjusted the nightlight, and Gu Nianzhi's tiny face appeared like creamy ivory under its warm yellow glow. Huo Shaoheng caressed her face and asked, "Nianzhi, how does He Zhichu treat you normally? Big Xiong and Little Ze said he treats you differently than the others. What do you think?"

Gu Nianzhi's heart trembled. It knew what was coming. She was lucky Brother Xiong had given her a heads up otherwise she wouldn't have known how to answer. In the few hours since Yin Shixiong had left, Gu Nianzhi had already mentally prepared herself. Her instincts told her some things were too difficult to explain and shouldn't be said. Plus, she was worried Huo Shaoheng would get upset.

"Professor He is quite nice to me. Brother Xiong and Brother Ze should've already told you what happened back in the States," Gu Nianzhi said. She blinked, and her eyes glittered like stars in the dim light. Huo Shaoheng looked at her and was about to touch her when he stopped halfway and drew his hand back. He straightened her covers.

"Yeah, Professor He does treat me differently," Gu Nianzhi said. "Sometimes it's like he really cares about me and other times he's weird to me. One time in the States, I accidentally angered him, and he kicked me out without saying another word. I had a foot injury back then, but he didn't care." Gu Nianzhi's heart trembled again. Yes, she had also injured her foot the last time she'd been in the States and, even though it wasn't as serious as this time, He Zhichu hadn't seemed to care. He kicked her out right away and didn't even call a car to drive her back. She was angry and in pain and she cursed He Zhichu countless times in her head. On the way back, she ran into Mei Xiawen who had flown all the way to see her. That was the time she'd been slightly moved by his attempt to woo her. Another time, she'd told He Zhichu there was a possibility she'd become paralyzed. His response was condescending like she was making a joke. Why was he so sure she would be fine? Even Chen Lie couldn't guarantee that. Huo Shaoheng had been so anxious he'd nearly tied her down to the seat so she couldn't move at all.

But it would be a lie to say that He Zhichu didn't care about her at all. He was furious whenever someone tried to hurt her. She remembered that disgusting American campus policeman who had almost placed his hand on her face and how He Zhichu had come in with a gun. Gu Nianzhi had no doubt from his expression that he was capable of murder. If that policeman dared to touch her, He Zhichu would certainly have killed him. At the time, she didn't think about it too much. She was just grateful he'd saved her. If it wasn't for the dramatic mood swings that followed and the way she discovered his peculiar feelings towards her, she wouldn't have distanced herself from him. But when she thought about all these interactions together, she had to wonder if He Zhichu was merely romantically interested in her. Would normal love, or even love at first sight, cause him to go to such extremes for her? Could he care for her this much? Sometimes she thought his concern even rivaled Huo Shaoheng's.

"He didn't really care last time, so why is his reaction so different now?" Huo Shaoheng pondered. "Can you think of any possible reasons?"

Gu Nianzhi hesitated for a long moment, but decided not to tell him about the warning He Zhichu's had given her regarding "her previous ligament injury." She wanted to confirm with He Zhichu first before she said anything to Huo Shaoheng. Even the smallest things became catastrophic once they reached Huo Shaoheng. Gu Nianzhi turned over and laid on her side so she could lean against Huo Shaoheng's leg. She rested her head on his strong calf and muttered, "How would I know? He's always been moody. Once we were in his office, and I said one little thing wrong. His eyes turned lethal..."

Huo Shaoheng was silent for a long time then he patted Gu Nianzhi's head, "If that's the case, how about you stop being his postgrad student and find a different professor?"

"No!" Gu Nianzhi instinctively objected. She looked up to see Huo Shaoheng's silent gaze, and her heart dropped. She had fallen into Huo Shaoheng's trap.

Huo Shaoheng gracefully took back his hand, and his expression grew stern. He replied calmly, "Is there something you haven't told me?"

Gu Nianzhi closed her eyes. She knew she could no longer hide the truth. After struggling for a moment, she stuttered, "One time, he got so angry, he nearly choked me. He said it wasn't his fault, that he couldn't find me. He said he'd been searching for me for so many years."

Huo Shaoheng nearly straightened his back and dragged Gu Nianzhi out from the blankets. He went pale. "What did you say? He really said that to you? When was this!"

Huo Shaoheng's gaze scared Gu Nianzhi, and she quickly answered, "It wasn't too long ago. It was just when the semester started."

"Why didn't you tell me?" Huo Shaoheng's voice grew lower, and his eyes darkened. His expression was so severe it looked like the sky before a great storm, suffocating and unrelenting.

Gu Nianzhi licked her lips and glanced at Huo Shaoheng before looking down to twiddle her fingers. "I didn't think too much of it. I thought he must've been on something and was going crazy."

Huo Shaoheng was speechless. He Zhichu had revealed so many clues, but this sweet princess in front of him had ignored them all. She hadn't even thought to tell him. If it hadn't been for Yin Shixiong suggesting he go through Gu Nianzhi, Huo Shaoheng would've had no idea how much important information Gu Nianzhi was hiding.

"From now on, you have to record absolutely everything He Zhichu says or does to you. You have to report to me every day, understand?" Huo Shaoheng commanded her without room for objections, just like with his soldiers.

Gu Nianzhi blinked reluctantly. "But I'm his student. Do I have to record all his lectures too?"

"Don't try to change the topic. You know what I mean." Huo Shaoheng stood up from the bed, his eyes stern. "Don't ever let me find out you're hiding things from me again." He looked at Gu Nianzhi, "Try to get some sleep. I'll go now." Huo Shaoheng strode out of the room. He didn't go to his own suite but headed directly to his office building.

Zhao Linagze was on duty and was shocked to see him. "Mr. Huo, why are you back? Did something happen?"

Huo Shaoheng walked to his desk without looking back. "Come to my office."

Zhao Liangze hurried after him. He closed the door and walked in front of Huo Shaoheng to ask, "Mr. Huo, what do you need?"

"Put He Zhichu on surveillance. Starting right now. Not a second can be missed." Huo Shaoheng returned to his desk and composed himself.

Zhao Liangze didn't notice anything amiss and accepted the command. "Roger, Chief!" Returning to his workspace, Zhao Liangze opened a surveillance program and began searching for information on He Zhichu's phone, landline, and IP address. He planted a Trojan virus to completely track He Zhichu's communication. He knew his program was extremely discreet. It could have easily bugged the American CIA without leaving a trace.

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Late in the night, He Zhichu sat awake and alone on a single seater sofa in his room. He was about to take a sip from the glass of wine in his hand. No lights were on, and his face was completely enshrouded in the darkness, his expression unreadable. In the quiet night, his phone suddenly chimed. He Zhichu checked his it lazily and found a Trojan virus notification. He snickered softly, "So they're bugging me. What a joke."