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610 Political Exchange

 "It's ok, come on in!"

The housekeeper, Mrs. Fen, was very friendly and held an umbrella for Tan Guiren as she ushered Huo Shaoheng into the main house. Huo Shaoheng nodded and strode quickly up the steps. As soon as the main doors opened, everyone rushed in. Finally, Mrs. Fen closed the door behind her to block the powerful storm outside. The floors were slightly damp inside, but the air was fresh and warm-a world apart from the violent rainstorm outside.

Tan Guiren bit her lip and was a bit abashed. "Please, sir, I'll get changed." She then spoke to Mrs. Fen, specifically instructing, "Please get this gentleman a cup of tea-use the Dahongpao tea over there."

Mrs. Fen agreed and quickly said, "Miss, hurry and change into something. You'll catch a cold from the wet clothes. I'll make some ginger soup for you."

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Tan Guiren nodded before running to her room to get changed.

Hup Shaoheng was also completely soaked, so he didn't sit down but looked around and asked, "Where's the bathroom?'

Mrs. Fen smiled. "This way." She passed a large towel to him. "Sir, you'd better change, too. We don't have anything that fits you here, just Mr. Tan's clothes. Do you want to change into them for now?"

She was referring to the clothes of Tan Dongbang, Tan Guiren's father. Since the villa belonged to the Tans, Tan Dongbang was sure to have his things here.

Huo Shaoheng smiled. "No thanks. I have a change of clothes in my bag. I was planning on going to a party after tennis today, so I happened to bring an outfit."

"Very well, then." Mrs. Fen didn't try convincing him otherwise. "Please help yourself. I'll go make some tea."

Huo Shaoheng used his instrument to check the bathroom first to ensure that there were no bugs or pinhole cameras before quickly changing into dry clothes from his backpack. He had entered wearing a polo and khakis for tennis, and he now wore a navy, cotton, ironless shirt and slim dress pants. He took off his sunglasses when he came out of the bathroom.

Tan Guiren also came out after getting changed and was looking for him. She looked up to see a man walk out of the bathroom. He didn't make excessive movements and merely turned back to close the bathroom door, a tennis bag slung over his arm. He appeared so casually handsome, yet an arrow seemed to pierce her straight through the heart. If that tall, strapping figure had previously only been a blurry shadow in her mind, Huo Shaoheng's current appearance was now carved into her heart.

Huo Shaoheng turned around to look over, his deep-set eyes as mysterious as the mountains and rivers. They glimmered so darkly that she couldn't even see what he was looking at. She felt dizzy. Trying her best to steady her body, her voice shook slightly as she said, "Mr.... Mr. Gu."

Huo Shaoheng nodded casually. "Sorry for the trouble. I'll leave when the rain stops."

The storm outside the windows had grown even more fierce, the rain splattering down on the roof and windows to leave long streaks. The streetlamps under the large trees outside were swaying from the powerful gusts. The flashing lights were intermittent lightning appearing amid the heavy rain. It was a downpour, and a seaside storm was something even a navy vessel couldn't stand against.

Tan Guiren wanted to ask Huo Shaoheng to stay, but her instincts told her that he was someone who never went back on his word. He wouldn't listen to her anyway, so she agreed obediently and went to the living room.

Huo Shaoheng also sat down and saw a steaming cup of Dahongpao tea on the coffee table. He held it up to give the hot steam a quick blow, then lowered his lips to taste it. Tan Guiren sat on the sofa across from him and was fiddling with her clothes anxiously. She had just changed from the light-blue silk dress that had been completely soaked, and she now wore a burgundy boat-neck top with elbow-length sleeves and a gathered waist, paired with skinny ankle-length pants. Chanel camellia sandals clad her feet as she crossed her legs and leaned forward in a classically elegant Western posture.

The living room was awkward with silence. Since Tan Guiren was the host, she ought to have taken the initiative to find a topic to chat about with the guest. However, she had been sheltered from a young age and only interacted with others in the same social circle, so she just smiled and only spoke when she had to. As a result, she wasn't very good with words. When she was with her friends, they were normally the ones who took the initiative to talk about things, so she only had to follow along. Now that she was forced to start topics on her own, it felt worse than torture.

Huo Shaoheng appeared calm and didn't seem to notice her unease. However, he did notice her carefully chosen outfit, and his eyes sparkled for an instant as he asked casually, "Miss Tan, your father's election is coming up soon? Why aren't you going back home yet?"

Tan Guiren secretly sighed in relief and answered cheerfully, "The election is in two months, but the Huaxia Senate has agreed to give me some time to recuperate since the incident. I can go home after the elections."

According to normal election regulations, the candidate's direct family members must return to Huaxia Empire 60 days before the election. But since Tan Guiren's kidnapping-and the subsequent domestic ban on the Tans using the incident for publicity, agreed to by the Bais-the organization of the Senate responsible for the election had agreed to the Tans' request to allow Tan Guiren to temporarily remain abroad.

The Bais only made one condition: Since there was already a violation of the regulation of not returning to the Empire on time, she also was not to return for the time being and could come back once the election results are determined. That was because the Bais were worried that the Tans would play tricks right before the election and use the opportunity of their daughter's return as a way to boost publicity, so they simply suggested that Tan Guiren come back after the elections. Of course, the Tans disagreed, but because Tan Guiren also refused to leave New York, they could only accept it.

Now that Huo Shaoheng was asking, Tan Guiren would certainly not tell him she refused to go home because he was still here... In the beginning, Tan Guiren had only been worried that he was being misunderstood as a kidnapper and would run into danger. She would never leave her savior to fend for himself. Later on, she'd felt something peculiar in her heart.

Huo Shaoheng heard that the Senate had granted approval, and when he thought about it, it all quickly made sense. This was certainly a political exchange. He didn't ask anymore but gradually changed the topic to the Tans' social relationships.

"Miss Tan came to study in America and ran into such trouble. Your friends and family must have been so worried. Did they visit you?"

Tan Gurien considered it carefully. "No. Most of our family is in the Empire, and very few are abroad. Some study abroad in Europe and America, then go back home after completing their studies. Otherwise, they immigrate to Europe."

For long-established and esteemed academic families like the Bais and the Tans, America was where the plebian immigrants went if they couldn't settle in Europe, while Australia was were the United Kingdom had exiled its criminals-neither were good places.