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530 Family at Home

 "Oh, I didn't have my phone on me, so I didn't hear it. I just saw now when I was using the phone."

Gu Nianzhi's tone relaxed. She was feeling conflicted toward Gu Yanran because she had a negative initial impression of her based on how she'd treated Huo Shaoheng. But now, although her impression still wasn't great it wasn't as bad as before, this was Gu Nianzhi's older sister, after all. Regardless of whether she remembered her or not, they were legally a family. And this time, when they'd gone to Barbados to escort Gu Xiangwen to the Huaxia Empire, Gu Yanran hadn't put up as much resistance as they had anticipated. So Gu Nianzhi couldn't feel disgusted toward her.

Gu Yanran smiled when she noticed the change in Gu Nianzhi's tone. Her long and narrow eyes squinted, and she smiled with allure. "Oh, is that so? I thought you didn't want to pick up my call..."

"Really?" Gu Nianzhi smiled. "What did Miss Gu do to me that I wouldn't pick up her call?"

Gu Yanran was stunned by Gu Nianzhi's words, but her mind whirled as she smiled faintly. "Nianzhi, I'm more convinced than ever that you're my sister. You've always been so good with your words, even from a young age."

Gu Nianzhi was obviously giving Gu Yanran a hard time, but somehow, the older woman turned it into a compliment about her being good with words. Gu Yanran's tone was still friendly and gracious enough to ignore her little jab-she seemed just like a perfect big sister.

Gripping the phone, Gu Nianzhi leaned against the wall by the dorm room window to look outside. It was already past 9:00 p.m., and the sky was completely dark. The street lamps lit up one by one, emitting a warm yellow glow into the night sky. People passed on the street below with relaxed and cheerful smiles. The serene scene was infectious for Gu Nianzh, who couldn't help breaking into a smile.

"Really? What was I like when I was younger?" Gu Nianzhi asked into the phone quietly, her tone softer than before.

"You don't remember? You were especially bright and knew how to talk when you were little, so Mom, Dad, and I really spoiled you." Gu Yanran picked up the photo with one hand and giggled at the image of the chubby little girl. She could only be in awe of the Creator's magic that had produced such a difference in her appearance...

Gu Nianzhi couldn't recall how she had interacted with the Gus and Gu Yanran when she'd been young. Although Gu Yanran's words echoed in her ears, she couldn't form a mental picture.

"Nianzhi, why are you so quiet?" Gu Yanran couldn't help asking after waiting for a while. Gu Nianzhi had yet to speak.

Gu Nianzhi composed herself, and her belly growled. She laughed. "Oh, I'm just a bit hungry and was about to order delivery."

"Oh? You still haven't eaten at this hour?" Gu Yanran looked at her watch. "It's already past 9:00 p.m. Silly child, why aren't you taking care of yourself?"

Gu Nianzhi sheepishly smiled at her laptop and used one hand to navigate the cursor to order food online as she replied, "I had quite a bit of homework today and had to make the deadline, so there was nothing I could do about it."

"Oh? Too much homework? Your instructor is Professor He, right? Why is he assigning so much homework for you?" Gu Yanran began using a reproachful tone. "I'll ask him myself."

Gu Nianzhi quickly shook her head. "Miss Gu, I had requested a vacation recently, so the homework accumulated. It's not because Professor He assigned too much."

Hearing that it was because Gu Nianzhi had requested a vacation, Gu Yanran nodded with understanding. Her tone grew even more amicable. "That's a valid reason, too. He should be more understanding of you. Sister will ask for you." She sighed before Gu Nianzhi could even reply. "Poor Nianzhi. You've been under a stranger's roof all these years and couldn't voice your grievances, right? Don't worry. You can always tell Sister if there's anything bothering you, now that I'm here for you. Sister will take care of anything for you. If anyone messes with you or treats you badly, you can tell me, and I'll help."

Gu Nianzhi only wanted to rub her temples at the words-she had been under the care of Huo Shaoheng for the past six or seven years, yet she had never felt like she was "under a stranger's roof."

"Miss Gu, I-"

Before Gu Nianzhi could finish her sentence, Gu Yanran cut her off again. "Nianzhi, you should be calling me Sister."

"...Umm, my delivery is here. I'll let you go now, and we can chat when we have more time." Gu Nianzhi still couldn't call her "Sister," and didn't want to continue the conversation, so she found an excuse to end the call.

Gu Yanran looked at the phone's screen with a shake of her head before texting her, "I'll pick you up for dinner tomorrow."

Soon after Gu Nianzhi set down the phone, her delivery actually did arrive. She quickly went downstairs to pick it up and had just set everything up on the dining table when the dorm room's door lock clicked open. Ma Qiqi walked inside.

"Nianzhi? You're having a late-night snack?" Ma Qiq was also carrying a box of food. "I got seafood paella. Do you want to have some?"

Seafood paella had a stronger flavor, and Gu Nianzhi didn't want to have such salty food at night. She shook her head with a smile. "That's fine, you have it. I have some almond tofu, sauteed bok choy, and also mushroom and vegetables. Do you want to try it?"

"Umm, that's bland food." Ma Qiqi pouted. "I'll stick with my seafood paella..."

They set out the cutlery and sat across from each other to dine and chat. Ma Qiqi was actually very curious about where Gu Nianzhi had been and what she had been doing for the past few days, but she couldn't exactly ask if Gu Nianzhi didn't say anything. Ma Qiqi could only ask subtly, "Are you finished with your business? You left in such a hurry that day that the instructors among the faculty were asking about you."

Gu Nianzhi nodded. "It was fine. I just went to visit a relative, and it's all ok now."

"Oh." Ma Qiqi stopped asking when she saw that Gu Nianzhi still didn't want to talk about it. They began chatting about the faculty and happily finished their late-night snacks. Because everything had returned to the state they had been in before Gu Nianzhi requested for vacation, Gu Nianzhi's mood brightened.

Gu Nianzhi did some more homework after returning to her room and saw that it was already two in the morning. She finally shut off her computer and washed up in the bathroom. When she came out, she couldn't sleep, so she played with her phone on the bed.

Contemplating whether or not she was going to call Huo Shaoheng, she stroked his name on the screen but was feeling offended. He hadn't called her a single time the whole day. It would be fine if he was on a mission or had an emergency meeting, but he was clearly only attending some general meetings. There were always gaps in the meetings when he could give her a call or text, but he had chosen not to. She wasn't going to take the initiative to contact him. Shutting off her phone unhappily, Gu Nianzhi curled up in her bed to sleep.

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At the same time, Huo Shaoheng was also still awake. He had just returned from a Supreme Military Council meeting, and a bunch of tasks had accumulated. He was also thinking about the submitted marriage request, so he took out his phone to call General Ji again.

"General Ji, did you see my request?"

"I did, and the military is discussing it. But Shaoheng, why did you submit the request before sorting it out with your own family?" General Ji quietly said to him, "Your father has opposed it..."