Chapter 21: Finally Awake
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Gu Nianzhi’s eyes moved rapidly under her eyelids. It was as though she was trying very hard to wake up, but could not open her eyes.
She had never felt so tired. Her mind was trapped in an endless dream. In her dream, she had gone back to the very beginning of her known memories: the car accident she had been in when she was 12.
She remembered the raging fire in the car. She also remembered that Huo Shaoheng was the one who had rescued her from a car that was only moments away from exploding.
Of course, she hadn’t known the name of her savior, not during that first meeting. But, she remembered him—she remembered that he had saved her from the burning car.
She had no memory of who she was, where she had come from, or where she was headed. She did not remember where she had lived, or where her parents were.
The car she had been riding in would have served as the most important clue, had it not been reduced to ash in that massive explosion, leaving only a huge crater in the ground. It was such a perfect coincidence—so much so that it seemed almost deliberate. However, the Imperial Army had not been able to detect any trace of explosives from the crater.
But surely a simple gasoline explosion could not have caused such a massive ball of fire to form?
She could not even remember who the driver of the car had been.
In her dream, she relived the tragedy from six years ago. Her 12-year old self was crying hysterically, desperately trying to get out of the car. It was Huo Shaoheng who had retrieved her from the twisted and burning pile of metal, and shielded her from the blast.
When she was rescued she had been like a small animal. She made to bite anyone who tried to approach her. She trusted no one, and ignored everyone— except her savior, Huo Shaoheng.
He was the only one whom she trusted.
Huo Shaoheng had been only 22 years old when he first met her. He had just been transferred back to his country after a stint abroad; the military had tasked him with the honor of setting up the Special Operations Forces.
At the time, he had been the only person who could communicate with her. The Imperial Army prudently made the decision to have Huo Shaoheng be her guardian.
Gu Nianzhi mumbled and tossed uneasily in her sleep.
Her long-forgotten memories seemed within her grasp now. Her heart raced, faster and faster, and her head began to hurt.
She grit her teeth and tried hard to remember because, this time, something was different. There was now an airplane in her memory.
The plane was up in the blue sky, soaring among white clouds. It had “MH210” painted on the fuselage in blood-red letters, large and striking.
She had seen this plane once, before the car she was riding in exploded.
She was so close to breaking through the mist shrouding her memory, so close to remembering what had happened before the accident six years ago. The effort was almost too much for her brain.
It did not make any sense.
She remembered seeing the plane descend from the sky while she sat inside the car. At the same time, she recalled that the car crash had taken place on a bustling city street, far from any airport, and there had been no trace of the plane anywhere.
Gu Nianzhi’s hands were clenched tight in her sleep. Her brow was deeply wrinkled.
The equipment monitoring Gu Nianzhi’s brain activity immediately sounded a keening alarm.
Chen Lie quickly prepared a large needle and injected Gu Nianzhi with a sedative, forcefully interrupting her dreams so she could go back to a deep sleep. This was to protect Gu Nianzhi’s brain from being damaged by an overload of brain activity. She had been out for a week now; Chen Lie did not think her frail body could withstand the abnormally strong brain activity.
What she needed right now was a good sleep. She would be up and about the next morning.
Chen Lie watched the numbers on the monitors for a while, then confidently said to Huo Shaoheng, who was still listening on the other end of the phone, “She’ll wake up tomorrow morning, I’m sure of it.”
Huo Shaoheng let out a long sigh of relief. He switched his phone to his other hand and said, in a low voice, “In that case, take her back to her apartment. I’ll send over double the number of men. Have them stand guard and watch over her—in secret.” He paused, then reminded him, “do not breathe a word about me. Tell her I wasn’t able to get back in time, and haven’t seen her this whole week.”
Chen Lie laughed and said, “What’s wrong? The Bossman wants to be modest, doesn’t want anyone to know of his noble deeds? Tsk tsk! Well, to be honest, I wouldn’t know how to bring it up anyway, so it never even crossed my mind.”
Besides, Chen Lie thought, Huo Shaoheng still has my signed military order. Why risk it?
“You’d better not. Don’t forget, you signed a military order.” Just as Chen Lie had expected, Huo Shaoheng was threatening him with the military order again.
Chen Lie rolled his eyes as he groaned. “You don’t have to remind me every single day! My memory’s just as good as yours!” With that, he got up and summoned two orderlies to come in and pack up all the equipment. At the same time, he asked Ye Zitan to help change Gu Nianzhi’s clothes before taking her to the car.
That very night, Gu Nianzhi was whisked back to her Fengya precinct penthouse in her sleep.
Her apartment building had two units to each floor, but on the top floor there was only the one penthouse, with the elevator leading directly to it. It was not only extremely safe but also hidden from prying eyes.
The next day was a Sunday. Gu Nianzhi opened her eyes to a pale, lavender-tinted morning. Her large eyes, not yet accustomed to the morning light, shut again as soon as they were open.
She promptly draped an arm over her eyes. All she wanted was to lie quietly for a little longer.
A pleasant baritone voice spoke up just then. It was the familiar voice of her class representative, Mei Xiawen. “You’re awake?”
Gu Nianzhi finally opened her eyes. She took a good look around. She was in her apartment, lying on her bed…
“Class Rep? What are you doing here?” Gu Nianzhi stared at Mei Xiawen, who was standing beside the bed.
Mei Xiawen was wearing a soft blue shirt and black trousers. His clothes were neat and straight, with not a wrinkle in sight.
Over his shirt was a dark gray V-neck cardigan made of thin cashmere. On his intelligent face were a pair of gold-rimmed glasses. His lips were curved into a joyful smile. He was the very picture of sophistication as he stood before her bed, his hands in his pockets.
Mei Xiawen returned her observant gaze and took note of her unique appearance, a stark contrast to how she normally looked when in public. In particular, Gu Nianzhi’s naturally large and dark pupils caught his attention. Her small and exquisite face was smooth and unblemished, and the faint rosy hue in her cheeks made her wide, doe-like eyes sparkle. She looked very much like she had just walked out of a Japanese manga. He scoffed inwardly at the jealous girls at their university, who frequently spread spiteful rumors about Gu Nianzhi’s beauty, accusing her of applying makeup with a heavy hand, or of wearing circle lenses.
Mei Xiawen was forced to look away. He then laughed. “You’ve been sick for a week. I’m here to check on you, on behalf of the entire class.”
“Oh!” said Gu Nianzhi. She said, in a tone of utter disbelief, “I was sick for a whole week? Really? How could I have been out for so long?”
Having said that, she immediately remembered the birthday banquet at the Fengs, and the embarrassing, highly awkward situation that had followed after someone had tried to sabotage her during the party. She recalled that the last person she had seen before passing out was Chen Lie. She glanced about and asked, “Class Rep, who let you in?”
This was her private bedroom, after all.
Mei Xiawen seated himself next to the bed. He looked at her rosy cheeks, and smiled as he said, “An uncle of yours, I think.”
“Was it Huo Shao?” asked Gu Nianzhi anxiously. She gestured as she described him. “Tall, very handsome, has a really solemn look on his face?”
“Um…” Mei Xiawen hesitated as he looked at Gu Nianzhi, trying to guess at the look in her eyes.
The man who had let him in had had a round face, a round nose, and a round mouth. He wasn’t exactly short, but no one would ever describe him as “tall.” As for “handsome,” well, that was entirely out of the question. And anyway, the man had given his surname and it wasn’t “Huo.”
“He gave his surname, it was ‘Chen.’ Do you know him?” replied Mei Xiawen cautiously as he tucked the blanket over Gu Nianzhi.