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881 Tricking Each Other

 The winter's setting sun in Di Capital looked like a salted egg yolk hanging in the sky. The white, fluffy clouds looked down on the barren yet beautiful tree along the side of the road. The rays of the sun were like a thin layer of carpet, covering the black, elegant, bulletproof luxury sedan parked along the side of the road. The red flag on the car exuded pure power. Even the most expensive cars on the streets of Di Capital paled in comparison.

Gu Nianzhi tightened her jaw and stood up straight, never taking her eyes off the sedan. Her legs were still wobbly enough to feel like jelly. However, seeing that car and thinking of the cold, heartless man inside, Gu Nianzhi knew she didn't want him looking down on her. So she fought her exhaustion, put on a strong front immediately, and toughened herself up.

He Zhichu looked on coldly at the change in Gu Nianzhi and sighed secretly.

"What's wrong, Nianzhi?" Zhao Liangze walked towards them. "Is the hearing over?"

Gu Nianzhi stood beside the metal gates of the courthouse and nodded. Her face was as pale as a sheet.

Zhao Liangze was more meticulous than Yin Shixiong. The moment he came closer, he noticed something was wrong with Gu Nianzhi. He extended his hand and held on to her right elbow, bringing most of her weight onto himself.

"Thank you, Professor He. We have some things we need to talk about with Nianzhi. Could you leave her with us for now?" Zhao Liangze asked politely. He looked at He Zhichu's hand, which was on Gu Nianzhi's left elbow for a split second.

He Zhichu looked at Gu Nianzhi out of the corner of his eye and calmly asked, "Nianzhi, do you want to go with him?" If Gu Nianzhi was not willing to, He Zhichu would never allow Zhao Liangze to pull her from his side.

Gu Nianzhi hesitated. She was indeed extremely worn out and did not feel like entertaining anyone. She only wanted to go back to her dormitory for a hot soak and then sleep for a day or more.

However, Gu Yanran's case had brought about more implications than expected. Huo Shaoheng should have already been interrogating her.

"...I'll go with them," Gu Nianzhi finally replied while giving He Zhichu a sincere look. "I'll call you when I return to the dorm tonight."

He Zhichu slowly let go of her elbow placed his hands behind his back. "Okay, go ahead. If you don't call me by eleven tonight, I'll keep calling you until you get back to your room." He looked at his watch-it was already five o'clock in the evening.

Gu Nianzhi nodded in appreciation. "Okay Professor He. Then I'll make sure not to keep you waiting."

Zhao Liangze felt a sudden weight being placed on his hand. It seemed like Gu Nianzhi did not have any energy left. She felt soft and wobbly, like she would fall at any moment... He didn't know what was going on. The confusion was similar to what he felt after three days and three nights of vigorous, non-stop Special Forces training.

Zhao Liangze thought of Gu Nianzhi as if she were his own sister. He couldn't care less about any gossip that would arise. So he knelt down in front of her. "Get on, Nianzhi."

He was going to put her on his back. Gu Nianzhi could not ask for more. Her legs were close to giving way. She leaned onto Zhao Liangze's back and allowed him to carry her.

He Zhichu looked on quietly as Zhao Liangze carried Gu Nianzhi towards the bulletproof car with the red flag. His eyes were filled with nothing but concern for her.

Zhao Liangze opened the door and helped Gu Nianzhi into the car. Once she was securely inside, he closed the door and sat down in the front passenger seat. Upon closing the door, the driver inside started the engine and began to drive off into the evening sun.

He Zhichu squinted so his gaze could follow, before finally going to the underground car park to retrieve his own car. He got inside, started the car, then stepped on the accelerator and sped out like a gust of wind.

...

Upon entering the car, Gu Nianzhi saw that Huo Shaoheng was sitting beside her. His big build instantly made Gu Nianzhi feel that that space in the back seat had shrunk. It was actually just her imagination-the car was extremely spacious, comparable to a limousine. She sat as close to the door as she could, leaving enough space between them for another person.

It seemed like Huo Shaoheng had just got out of a meeting. He was still in his full, navy-blue uniform, with a brown leather belt on his waist. With his wide, attractive shoulders, he looked as strong as ever. Covering his feet were a pair of tall, winter boots. His long legs had taken up all his leg space in the car.

Gu Nianzhi had to shift to avoid his legs before finding a suitable position to make herself comfortable. She tried her best not to get too close to him.

Huo Shaoheng did not talk. He merely looked as Gu Nianzhi tried to sit as far from him as possible. His eyes drifted down. She wore a long coat that ended just above her knees, and his eyes fell on the short section of her legs that were exposed.

Gu Nianzhi felt uncomfortable under his intense stare, and greeted him awkwardly. "Is something the matter, Huo Shao?"

Huo Shaoheng looked away and said coldly, "Drive."

The driver was none other than Fan Jian, the captain of his regular soldiers.

Soon, the black, elegant, bulletproof car with a red flag had left the Supreme Court in the distance. It was moving in the direction of Gu Nianzhi's house in Hepingli Precinct. The same direction as her school.

Seeing that the car was moving towards the right area, Gu Nianzhi felt relieved and a wave of drowsiness came over her.

...

When Gu Nianzhi woke up, she couldn't see anything. Darkness surrounded her. In a moment of panic, she felt lost and nervous. A big hand patted her back, seemingly knowing about her insecurity and trying to calm her down.

It was only then that Gu Nianzhi snapped out of her fear. She realized that she was leaning against a wide chest. Both her hands were holding onto someone's collar, and she was all snuggled up like a baby in their embrace.

Instinctively, she wanted to push them away.

Somewhere above her head, she heard a chuckle. It sounded like a gentle wind blowing above the surface of a pond, and it sent ripples through her heart and butterflies in her stomach.

It sounded so pleasant.

She remembered that she had gone into Huo Shaoheng's car before falling into a deep sleep.

Therefore, this chest that she leaned against, so familiar and warm-was it Huo Shaoheng?

Gu Nianzhi struggled to get off his lap.

However, Huo Shaoheng hugged her with his big hands. The moment he did, Gu Nianzhi couldn't move at all. She dared not. Both Fan Jian and Zhao Liangze were still in front, weren't they?

Seeing that she stopped moving, Huo Shaoheng took one of her hands and placed it on his face. It felt just like she was caressing his cheeks...

Of course, his skin was not as smooth or soft as a lady's, but the warmth and elasticity that was unique to a man made Gu Nianzhi's palm feel so warm.

She put in every effort to calm herself. "Why did I fall asleep? Did I delay your schedule?"

Huo Shaoheng's hand stopped and he didn't answer her question. Instead, he asked, "Too worn out?"

Indeed. In fact, after sleeping, Gu Nianzhi realized that her symptoms hadn't improved. Instead, she felt worse.

"How long was I asleep?"

"Three hours."

Which meant that it was already some time past eight. Gu Nianzhi was even more embarrassed. "That was long? Why didn't you guys wake me up?"

"...I asked Little Ze and Fan Jian to go back already/" Huo Shaoheng replied emotionlessly. "Go up. Are you hungry? What do you want to eat?"

Gu Nianzhi was speechless.

"I thought you had wanted to understand the situation?"

It was only then that Gu Nianzhi understood that she had been tricked again...

Huo Shaoheng did not reply to her. Instead, he opened his side of the door and got out. Then, he bent down and carried Gu Nianzhi, princess-style.

He was so tall and strong, and Gu Nianzhi felt so safe and secure in his arms.

The both of them went upstairs by elevator from the basement car park. Soon, they arrived at the resale apartment that Gu Nianzhi had recently purchased.

It was dark. All the neighbors' doors had already been closed. The only light came through the edges of the doors. Huo Shaoheng entered Gu Nianzhi's place carrying her and closed the door behind them. He turned on the lights in the living room along the way. Gu Nianzhi had not been here in a while. She actually felt unfamiliar with the place.

"I'll start the water. You take a bath first. After that, come out for dinner and we can discuss official matters."

Huo Shaoheng had planned everything. Gu Nianzhi could not even find an opportunity to reject his suggestions since he had arranged for a discussion of 'official matters' after her bath and meal.

Gu Nianzhi agreed, and Huo Shaoheng carried her into the bathroom. She sat down on the stool and waited for him to finish the preparations. He had also added some essential rose oil and bath salts as well. It smelled so calming and relaxing by the time he finished that Gu Nianzhi could not wait to get in there.

Huo Shaoheng closed the door and returned to the kitchen. Gu Nianzhi walked slowly to the bathtub while supporting herself against the walls. She slowly removed her clothes and climbed inside the tub to soak herself.

It was so comfortable that she found her eyelids getting heavy.

...

After the bath, Gu Nianzhi realized that her energy had finally returned. Her legs still felt slightly wobbly, but she could walk well enough. She had changed into her fluffy, coral-colored robe and came out of the bathroom with her hair wrapped up in a towel.

The smell of food wafted from the dining area. Gu Nianzhi followed the scent. At the table, Huo Shaoheng read a newspaper. His handsome features were almost glowing under the lights. Gu Nianzhi gulped and willed herself to look away and focus on the spread.

There were four dishes-stir-fried snow peas with an attractive green color, potato slices with vinegar drizzled over them, prawns seasoned with salt and pepper, and finally, braised pork slices. There was also plate of pita on the side to wrap the meat, spring onions, and cucumber. A ceramic pot sat in the middle of the table. It was covered, so Gu Nianzhi had no clue what soup was inside.

Seeing that she had entered the living room, Huo Shaoheng took the lid off the pot. Inside was nourishing, ginseng black chicken with goji berries and mushroom soup. The soup was clear and bright. It smelled delicious.

Gu Nianzhi sat down without hesitation and filled a bowl of soup for herself.

Huo Shaoheng looked on and said calmly, "Slowly. This is all yours. No one's going to snatch them away. Why the speed?"

Gu Nianzhi was famished. She ignored him and downed a bowl of soup, then filled another before slowing down. She stirred the remaining soup in the ceramic pot and raised her eyebrows. "... This is the official matter that you wanted to speak to me about?"

"Finish eating before we talk about official matters." He handed her a small bowl of rice.

Gu Nianzhi refused to finish. Huo Shaoheng drizzled a scoop of soup onto her rice before she took it over. Having a hot bowl of rice infused with soup on a cold winter night could make anyone feel warm and contented.

"...Why are you not eating?" she asked Huo Shaoheng after she had eaten a couple of mouthfuls.

Huo Shaoheng took his bowl and chopsticks and began eating as well. His posture during meals was extremely graceful and pleasing to the eye. One could tell that it was a habit established when he young. It was a stark contrast compared to the way he normally did things in the Special Forces.

Gu Nianzhi's table manners were influenced by Huo Shaoheng. They both finished their meals peacefully. It felt as though the unfamiliarity and distance between them had slowly faded.

Gu Nianzhi began whining within herself again. It was the frog-boiling trick-put a frog in a pot of boiling water and it will jump out. But if you put it in a pot of room-temperature water and then gradually raise the temperature, the frog would die without realizing what's happening. Gu Nianzhi felt like the frog. When she was finally cooked, Huo Shaoheng would have his way with her...

Tricks! They were all tricks!

Especially all the good food on the table.

Gu Nianzhi gulped. She got up to make Huo Shaoheng a cup of pu'er tea, and get herself a cup of milk. She brought both over to the dining table. She placed the pu'er tea in front of Huo Shaoheng, then looked at him and smiled. That smile was so sweet and beautiful. It made people want to hug her and give her a bite...

Huo Shaoheng saw Gu Nianzhi's beautiful smile and what she had done. He was surprised as well. His own suspicions began.

Tricks... Nianzhi had learnt them as well...

Gu Nianzhi smiled as she raised her head. "Can we talk now, Huo Shao?"

However, before Huo Shaoheng spoke, Gu Nianzhi had more to say.

"By the way, thank you for asking Chen Lie to include the DNA sequencing in the report. If not for that, I wouldn't have been able to turn the tables on Gu Yanran."

Huo Shaoheng acknowledged calmly. "I didn't think much about it at the time. But if you hadn't mentioned the DNA bar chart in court, we would have missed many important leads."

Thinking about what a close shave this was, one would naturally be reminded by what Gu Yanran had mentioned about the bone marrow match and transplant.

She furrowed her brows and began losing herself in thoughts while sipping her milk. "Gu Yanran said that the daughters of the Gu family have a hereditary disease. Do you think it's true?"