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490 A Sweet Burden

 "We are going to do official business, not personal things." Huo Shaoheng instinctively objected to Chen Lie.

Chen Lie gasped with laughter, supporting himself on the table and saying loudly, "No one said you're doing personal things. What are you so riled up for?!"

Huo Shaoheng said nothing. His other hand reflexively made a fist, wanting nothing more than to punch the strange smile off Chen Lie's face.

Gu Nianzhi looked at Chen Lie suspiciously, then at Huo Shaoheng to ask with curiosity, "Brother Chen, we are going for official business. What are you laughing about?"

"I won't explain it to you. You'd better hurry on with your business with Mr. Huo..." Chen Lie winked at Gu Nianzhi before pouting at the door.

"Let's go," said Huo Shaoheng. "Ignore him." Huo Shaoheng was stone-faced as he tightly pulled Gu Nianzhi's hand to take her out of the small conference room without looking back.

"Hey! Don't go so fast. You still have time to take care of business... You can do it several times, too..." Chen Lie laughed, but his cheerful laughter was cut short when he gleaned Ye Zitan's disapproving look. "Little... Little Ye, I was only joking with them." Chen Lie rubbed his head sheepishly, unsure where to look.

Ye Zitan shook her and whispered, "Dr. Chen, Nianzhi is still young. How can you make that kind of joke in front of her?"

"I... I was only joking..." Sweat started beading on Chen Lie's back. He was naturally anxious in front of Ye Zitan and had taken things too far earlier. "I was just adding some excitement to the mood. I didn't mean anything else..."

Ye Zitan saw that Chen Lie's face was flushed, so she stopped scolding him and considerately changed the topic. "Dr. Chen, are you hungry? Mr. Huo had dumplings earlier..."

"Oh, right. Dumplings, he had those. Oh my goodness, I am actually a bit hungry." Chen Lie wiped the sweat on his forehead with a handkerchief and quickly walked out the door where Yin Shixiong was standing. "Big Xiong, are there dumplings here? Mr. Huo and Nianzhi aren't going to have some before they head out?"

"They still have business, but the dumplings were ready a long time ago. Please follow me."

Yin Shixiong was familiar with the place, and he took Ye Zitan and Chen Lie to the dining room in the consulate and asked the chefs to duty to cook dumplings for them.

...

Huo Shaoheng held Gu Nianzhi's hand as they walked out the consulate doors. The night was at its darkest. The stars were shining brilliantly, and the sounds of distant waves could almost be heard. The humidity from the sea was in the air, as well as intermittent beautiful calls of nightingales to punctuate the night's peacefulness. They walked hand in hand to arrive at the street of the consulate where the lights of the Barbados night shined bright. A gentle breeze swept across their faces warmly. It also felt slightly damp, just like the ultimate moment of intimacy between two lovers. No wonder people from the tropics were so passionate and outgoing. This kind of weather was perfect for love 365 days a year...

Gu Nianzhi glanced at Huo Shaoheng with a smile as she watched his flawless side profile. She only hoped to continue walking like this forever-to never have it end. Unfortunately, this was only her wishful thinking, because soon after they left the consulate area to arrive at the Barbados government offices. It was truly a very small county, and all the government offices were concentrated together. It was not even as big as the regional offices of major cities in the Huaxia Empire.

Huo Shaoheng led her to a white building and whispered, "This is the Department of Domestic Affairs for Barbados. We need their help to reinstate your identity."

Gu Nianzhi looked at the plain-looking building with curiosity. "It's that small?"

"Yeah, it is small. The Barbados national defense has only 600-some soldiers, so a few gunmen were enough to cause a huge incident here." Huo Shaoheng smiled. "There are still no leads on the gunmen, and you might become their target if you reinstate your identity. Are you scared?"

"Of course not." Gu Nianzhi shook her head. "What do I have to be afraid of when I'm with you?"

Huo Shaoheng squeezed her hand with a smile on his lips as they looked up at the building together. "I brought you here tonight because I still want to keep your identity secret for some time to wait and see so we can strike first when the time is right. Also, don't mention that you lost your memories when you go in now, ok?"

Gu Nianzhi nodded. "Ok, are we going in now?"

Huo Shaoheng took out his phone and called his contact within the Barbados government. He spoke in a perfect English accent, and Gu Nianzhi was completely intoxicated... She smiled at Huo Shaoheng, gently curling to his side. Fluidly holding her waist, Huo Shaoheng spoke into the phone a little more before telling Gu Nianzhi, "Ok, we can go in now."

Soon after, the doors to the Department of Domestic Affairs building of the Barbados government opened, and a middle-aged black man greeted them. When they sat down inside, Huo Shaoheng submitted Gu Nianzhi's identity confirmation information. The middle-aged black man quickly glanced through all the material and kept exclaiming, "My God," as he read.

After finishing, he looked at Gu Nianzhi with shock and asked carefully, "Dear Cereus, do you still remember me? I held you when you were little!" He then said to Huo Shaoheng, "Mr. Gu is a very kind man. He helped me and my entire family. I wouldn't be here as a high-level government official if he hadn't sponsored me to attend university in the United States, He changed my life, and I'm very happy that I have a chance to repay his kindness."

Gu Nianzhi's heart trembled. Could Cereus have been her English name? Cereus literally meant cactus flower, queen of the night. It was an unusual name. Gu Yanran's English name was Jasmine, which was a common name for women.

Huo Shaoheng smiled subtly and looked at Gu Nianzhi as he replied to the official, "Mr. Mike, you still remember her?"

"I remember how Cereus looked like when she was little." He examined Gu Nianzhi carefully. "I have to say that she looks completely different now. If it wasn't for the test results here, I wouldn't dare to believe..." He couldn't dare to believe she was Mr. Gu's youngest daughter from all those years ago.

"Yes, that's understandable. If it wasn't for me seeing her grow up before my eyes, I wouldn't have believed it either." Huo Shaoheng nodded politely. "May I ask what other evidence you need? Nianzhi was considered a missing person in Barbados all those years ago?"

"Right." Mike had already prepared all of Gu Nianzhi's information. "She went missing seven years ago and, strictly speaking, in two weeks, it'll be a full seven years that she's been missing. You know that many things become difficult to do once the seven years pass."

"Yes, so it's Mr. Gu's good fortune that Nianzi could return to the Gu family before the seven years passed." Huo Shaoheng took Gu Nianzhi's hand. "See what other evidence you need in order to reinstate her identity and close the case."

"I need some time to examine this information," Mike continued in his businesslike manner. "But be assured, I will keep this confidential. I can swear as a Christian that Jasmine will not find out."

"I believe you." Huo Shaoheng shook Mr. Mike's hand. "I came to you because you are the most devout Christian. Mr. Gu will be sure to thank you once he wakes up."

Mike solemnly pressed his right hand against his chest and bowed at Huo Shaoheng. "Don't worry, Mr. Huo. I will take care of this."

Gu Nianzhi was silent for a long time after they walked out of the small building that housed the Department of Domestic Affairs.

"What is it?" Huo Shaoheng looked down at her. "You don't trust that Mike will keep the secret?"

"No." Gu Nianzhi paused to look up at him. "I was thinking that since Huo Shao gave such important documents to him and also trusted him, then his identity... isn't all that simple?"

Huo Shaoheng froze slightly, his eyes so sharp that they could almost read minds like an X-ray. He glanced at Gu Nianzhi. "Why do you say that?"

"It was my intuition." Gu Nianzhi smiled shyly. "Or maybe I was wrong."

"No, you're right." Huo Shaoheng gave a small smile, picking up Gu Nianzhi's hand to kiss the back of it. "My Nianzhi is the smartest."

Cheeks flushing, Gu Nianzhi's smile was even more dazzling and alluring than a cactus flower under the moonlight. Huo Shaoheng was almost spellbound and couldn't help lowering his lips to kiss her perfect cheek, then moving naturally to her lips. He kissed her again and again, and even though logic told him he should stop, the sensation took control of his consciousness.

Cradling Gu Nianzhi's face, he tasted her repeatedly. Gu Nianzhu stood on her tiptoes, dazed from Huo Shaoheng's kisses. In her mind, she thought she heard the cries of nightingales, as well as see large cactus flowers blooming in the moonlight. The silvery glow pierced through the dark backdrop of her mind, where scant memories appeared. Someone cradled her like a child to her chest and pointed to the cactus flowers in front of them. They taught her the pronunciation tone by tone.

"Cereus, Cereus, that's your English name..."

She couldn't see the person's face, but the voice was a bit familiar. Who was it? Gu Nianzhi shut her eyes as a spasming pain suddenly took hold of her brain in order to prevent her from continuing the memory. She hugged Huo Shaoheng tightly and nuzzled his neck like a kitten.

"Sleepy?" Huo Shaoheng stroked her head and finally stopped the long kiss. Gu Nianzhi's full and luscious lips were already red and a little bruised.

Seeing her like this made Chen Lie's teasing voice echo in Huo Shaoheng's mind. "...Go do business... Do it well..."

Taking a deep breath, he suppressed the excitement in his body and casually moved away from her. "Go to bed. Just stay at the consulate for the next few days and don't go anywhere."

"Ok." Gu Nianzhi leaned her head against Huo Shaoheng's shoulder to play coy. "I can't even lift my legs."

Huo Shaoheng was silent.

"I really can't move, see...?" Gu Nianzhi attempted to lift her leg. "I can't even lift my legs up."

Huo Shaoheng broke into laughter and bent down. "Here. I'll carry you."

His tall and strapping back bent over before her. Gu Nianzhi was both excited and touched. A hint of faint bitterness was also brewing in her heart, but everything combined to become a sweet feeling. She rested against Huo Shaoheng's back to allow him to carry her the rest of the way. The streetlamps stretched their combined shadows into long shapes that had no end.

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...

When they got back to the consulate, it was already 11:00 p.m. Chen Lie walked out of his room to see Huo Shaoheng carrying a sleeping Gu Nianzhi on his back. He chuckled loudly, "Boss, I told you to take it easy. It's just the first day, and you already made our Nianzhi pass out. How will she keep going in the future?"