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    Chapter 71 [VIP] Best Friend's Shield (9)

    Observing his genuine, puzzled expression, Nanyan was initially startled, then gazed at him intently until he became visibly uncomfortable. She couldn’t help but burst into laughter, teasingly saying,

    "Fu Qingzhou, you don’t think I like you, do you?"

    Her tone carried a hint of understanding, clearly discerning his thoughts.

    Fu Qingzhou felt awkward, thinking he had overthought it. Initially, he considered this possibility, but given her tone and relentless criticism, it seemed unlikely. That was a relief! Better if she didn't like him, he thought, feeling a sense of relief.

    Nanyan pursed her lips and smiled at him, "Well, you don't have to worry about that. I've already got someone I like. I'm helping you just because someone wants me to."

    She didn’t specify who, but Fu Qingzhou easily guessed she meant Wanrou, so he didn't doubt her.

    Nanyan, supporting her chin, gave him another glance, continuing, "Besides, I haven't done much, just talked to you a bit. Even without me, you would have realized this sooner or later. I just helped you understand it earlier. It’s not a big deal, so don’t make much of it."

    Although she said this, Fu Qingzhou couldn’t help but think differently. He wasn't sure if he would have come to this realization on his own, but at his lowest and most embarrassing moment, having someone willing to help was something he would always remember.

    Especially seeing her straightforward demeanor, Fu Qingzhou felt awkward about his own thoughts, his gaze shifting uneasily, and his expression growing uncomfortable.

    Turning his face away, he coughed lightly and said, "Ahem... I understand, thank you for your help."

    Hearing this, Nanyan's smile grew wider. She patted Fu Qingzhou's shoulder and finally said with a sigh of relief,

    "Alright, since there's no problem, let's have breakfast. Don’t forget you have a lot to do today."

    As she spoke, she stood up and turned to rummage through the kitchen for dishes and utensils. Seeing this, Fu Qingzhou hesitated before following her inside. But when he heard her unceremoniously ordering him to work, an uncontrollable warmth surged in his heart.

    Perhaps it was because he had faced so much cold treatment lately. After enduring the most embarrassing situations, having someone by your side in your lowest moments could not help but touch him.

    From that moment, Fu Qingzhou buried the matter of Wanrou deep in his heart. His priority now was to start anew, find a job, and change his situation. Otherwise, how could he, unable to support even himself, think of seeing Wanrou again?

    In the following days, Fu Qingzhou started sending resumes to the HR departments of various companies. Abandoning his former pride, he tried to start from the lowest positions. Yet, finding a job proved to be not so easy.

    He attended interviews at over a dozen companies in those days, but without exception, the responses were negative. Either rejected on the spot or told to wait for a call that never came, not a single company was willing to hire him officially.

    Fu Qingzhou wondered if people who had been wronged by the Fu Corporation were sabotaging him behind the scenes. Even if they were, he was powerless to do anything about it now. His resumes seemed to have vanished without a trace, causing no ripples.

    Fu Qingzhou felt a sense of despair. He wanted to start over, but no one seemed willing to give him a chance, and he was running out of time.

    After the Fu Corporation's assets were seized, his credit cards were all frozen. The little cash he had came from selling some of his watches and shoes. After paying rent and daily expenses, there was not much left.

    No, he couldn’t keep going like this.

    Money was really important. If he couldn't find a job soon, even affording meals would become a big problem.

    Another day wasted. After being rejected by a company that had once done business with the Fu Corporation, Fu Qingzhou left helplessly.

    The pressure of being jobless almost suffocated him. He walked out of the building and sat down on a bench in a nearby garden to catch his breath.

    It was then that a voice called out from behind, “Hey, young man over there, can you lend a hand? Help me push this box up?”

    “Me?”

    Fu Qingzhou looked up to see a worker with a cart, probably from a nearby construction site. He instinctively pointed to himself.

    The worker, in his forties, called him "young man" as he seemed dressed in simple and cheap clothes, obviously not wealthy. He shouted, “Yes, you, come over and give me a hand quickly.”

    Fu Qingzhou hesitated for a moment, then without overthinking, he went over and lent a hand.

    What he didn't expect was that this help would turn into a whole day’s work. He assisted the workers at the construction site with unloading goods until 6 p.m.

    When he finally left, the site foreman paid him three hundred yuan, a sum that used to be less than what he spent on a single meal, but now it was enough to save his life.

    Holding the money, Fu Qingzhou felt both heartache and gratitude. On his way home, his arms felt almost alien to him, sore and tired, aching fiercely.

    But at least he had found some work.

    When he got home, dinner was already prepared, cooked by Nanyan.

    She didn’t come very often, about two or three times a week, but each time she helped tidy up the housework. Fu Qingzhou had gone from feeling uncomfortable at first to gradually getting used to her presence. Her being there brought a sense of life to his small apartment of less than sixty square meters.

    After all, being alone really can be lonely.

    Sometimes, he even felt a sense of dread, fearing to return to a cold, empty house with no one to greet him or talk to him, as if the whole world had abandoned him, that profound sense of solitude.

    Fu Qingzhou’s gaze fell again on the bustling figure in the kitchen. He had wanted to help, but she had shooed him away, disdainfully saying the space was too small for both of them, and he was just in the way.

    For some reason, he didn’t feel angry hearing this; instead, he felt a warm sensation inside, as if something had soothed him, making him feel cozily warm.

    It was then that Nanyan came out with the dishes.

    She glanced at Fu Qingzhou, who had been staring blankly at her from the couch, and couldn’t help but smack his forehead, “Fu Qingzhou, what are you daydreaming about? I’ve been calling you for a while. Do you still want to eat or not? Hurry up and get the bowls and chopsticks from the kitchen! And don’t think about slacking off after eating. I won’t let you skip cleaning the kitchen alone next time, otherwise, I will…”

    Before she could finish, Fu Qingzhou instinctively grabbed her hand. Realizing what he had done, he immediately let go uncomfortably, trying to cover it up, “Just speak, no need to be physical. I’ll go, just be careful not to burn yourself…”

    He glanced at the steaming soup unconsciously for a moment longer.

    Saying this, he turned and went to the kitchen to serve the rice, but his figure seemed somewhat awkward.

    It wasn't until dinner that Fu Qingzhou finally told Nanyan he had found work today.

    Although it was just odd jobs at a construction site, like moving and carrying goods, it was better than wasting time being rejected at various company interviews every day. After all, while the work at the construction site was tough, it was enough to sustain him for the time being.

    Hearing this, Nanyan couldn't help but ask, “What kind of job is it?”

    Fu Qingzhou, with his head down, shoveled a big mouthful of rice and briefly replied, “Just miscellaneous work at the construction site. It’s hard, but it pays.” He didn’t elaborate further.

    After all, due to the Fu Corporation's bankruptcy, finding a job wasn’t easy for him. Perhaps once the storm passed, it would be much easier for him to start over. Moreover, he had found this job unloading goods at the construction site by chance, or else he might not even have had enough for the fare home tonight.

    After dinner, when Fu Qingzhou was about to clear the dishes to the kitchen, Nanyan unexpectedly grabbed him, taking his wrist and pressing him down to sit on the sofa, “Stop that, sit down. Let me see how badly your hands are hurt?”

    Surprised by her words, Fu Qingzhou asked, “How did you know my hands were injured?” He thought he had concealed it well.

    Since it was his first day at the construction site and he lacked experience, it was normal for him to have carried bricks and wooden boxes directly with his hands. After dozens of trips back and forth, getting blisters on his palms was expected. Eventually, the blisters burst and started bleeding. He had grown numb to the pain after a while.

    But these were minor injuries, not worth mentioning.

    Fu Qingzhou wasn’t one to make a fuss. From the moment the Fu Corporation collapsed, he had no right to be concerned about these things. Besides, these minor injuries were nothing compared to being forced to drink a few days ago.

    He had always thought he had concealed it well, but it turned out she had noticed. Should he take this as a sign of her concern for him?

    For some reason, this realization made him feel somewhat pleased.

    After hearing his response, Nanyan couldn’t help but roll her eyes at him, “Do you think I’m stupid? Your hands were shaking so much while eating, you could barely hold your chopsticks steady. If I hadn't noticed something was wrong, then I must be blind.”

    While saying this, Nanyan released his hand and hurried into the bathroom to fetch a basin of cool water. She then rummaged through a cabinet for some ointment and began to tend to his wounds.

    She even fetched a small stool to sit opposite him, gently holding his hand in hers and meticulously wiping each finger one by one.

    She was meticulous in her actions, her gaze filled with earnestness.

    Fucheng couldn't articulate the emotions stirring within him.

    Was it because they were too close, so close that when he lowered his head, he could inhale her scent, and feel the gentle touch of her fingers pressing against his wrist, slightly cool, evoking an indescribable sensation in his heart?

    This caused Fucheng's heartbeat to become somewhat disordered, and his mind felt slightly oxygen-deprived, growing sluggish. Unconsciously, he tried to withdraw his hand, but Nanyan firmly held it in place. "Don't move around, did I hurt you? If not treated properly, it might leave a scar. Such a handsome hand, it wouldn't look as good with a scar on it..."

    Upon hearing this, Fu Qingzhuo tried his best to dismiss the comment, yet he couldn't help but ask, "You think my hands are attractive?"

    Nan Yan found the question amusing.

    "Is that the main point? The issue is that you have such beautiful hands yet you don't cherish them. Look at the state they're in, all battered and bruised. Aren't they painful?"

    She wasn't particularly obsessed with hands, but these were undeniably exquisite – well-defined bones, slender fingers. They were hands that should have been suited for playing the piano or holding a paintbrush. Yet, they were now marred with scars, making them appear unattractive.

    As she spoke, she carefully applied ointment on the wounds on the palms of his hands, even blowing gently on them. The medicine spread across the injuries, instantly soothing the stinging sensation from the raw skin.

    It was at this moment that Fu Qingzhuo couldn't resist glancing down at Nanyan's face. He wondered now if she would still be so caring and devoted to him if it weren't for Wanru's sake. Would she still stand by his side unyieldingly?

    He couldn't conjure an answer, yet the curiosity was unbearable.

    This involuntarily caused him to furrow his brow.

    Especially when gazing upon Nan Yan's face, it evokes within him a subtle, warm sensation, compelling him to linger in that feeling unwilling to let go.

    As Nan Yan was about to rise after tending to her wounds, Fu Qingzhuo instinctively held onto her hand. "Would you still be this kind to me if it weren't for Wan Rou?"

    In fact, the moment he spoke those words, Fu Qingzhou began to regret them.

    He wasn't sure why he had asked such a question.

    He just felt that at this point, there was nothing more he could lose. When a person has nothing, they tend to cherish what remains around them all the more.

    When even an old friend refused to lend a hand, and his former lover couldn't be by his side, it was Nanyan who stayed with him. It was only natural for him to want to know her true feelings.

    If Wen Rou weren't in the picture, would she still treat him so kindly? Would she even bother to give him a second glance?

    Nan Yan understood his words, but she maintained a slight look of surprise on her face. She then gazed at him in silence, lost in thought.

    Seeing her reaction, Fu Qingzhuo instinctively released his grip, and his expression became uneasy. "I was just casually asking, you don't have to take it to heart..."

    He seemed about to turn and leave, but Nan Yan gave him a peculiar glance, her eyes holding countless indescribable emotions that were hard to decipher.

    Finally, she let out a long sigh, sat down on the sofa, and asked with a subdued tone, "So, you truly have no memory of me at all?"

    "What?"

    Fu Qingzhou was unsure where she was going with this.

    Yet, from her tone, it seemed as though they had already met before. Nevertheless, despite searching through his memories, he could not recall anything about her.

    He couldn't help but ask, "Have we met before?"

    Nan Yan looked down at him. "Of course we have. It's just that you've forgotten me."

    She stretched out her hand and waved it in front of him, gently hinting, "Five years ago, during the summer vacation after my college entrance exam, that was our first encounter."

    Upon hearing this, Fu Qingzhou still wore a furrowed brow. He studied Nanyan closely but still couldn't recall.

    Nanyan couldn't help but smile. She continued, "That summer five years ago, you saved my life."

    Seeing the incredulous expression on his face, obviously not believing her words, Nanyan chuckled and explained, "After the college entrance exam, I got bored being home alone, so I went to a driving school to learn how to drive. But that summer was scorching hot. The coach didn't stay with me; I was left alone in the car. Eventually, for some reason, the car suddenly stalled and I was locked inside. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't restart it."

    "At that precise moment, my phone died too. I was trapped in the car under the blazing sun for almost half an hour..."

    Hearing his words, Nanyan looked at him, "There was a moment when I even thought I was going to die. It was then that a boy broke the car window and saved me..."

    Later, she found out that the person who had saved her that day was Fu Qingzhou.

    The youth was elegantly handsome, like a cool breeze on a hot summer day, leaving a deep impression on her heart.

    Initially, she had felt a flicker of attraction, but it dissipated completely upon learning that he already had a girlfriend he really liked.

    Her willingness to tell Jiang Shaoyan the truth about his engagement with Fang Wanrou and help them was solely to repay the life-saving favor from the past.

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