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    Chapter 73 [VIP] Best Friend as a Shield (11)

    Nanyan watched Fu Qingzhou finish eating with a lip-pressed smile, her chin propped up, giving him a feeling of endless warmth. Those bright eyes seemed to hide some affection, clear, moist, and slightly smiling, almost making him believe she had something to say.

    But Nanyan remained silent, simply packing up the finished dishes. They rested for a while in the cafeteria, engaging in some light-hearted conversation.

    When their trivial talk ended, and lunch break was nearly over, Nanyan picked up her things and stood up, ready to leave.

    But just as she stepped out of the cafeteria, her wrist was suddenly grasped. She turned back in confusion, "What's wrong? Is there something else..."

    Before she could finish, Fu Qingzhou impulsively pulled her into his embrace, his palm warm against her back. As he realized what he had done, his limbs stiffened, barely responding to his command, while the unique fragrance and soft skin of the girl made his mind go blank.

    He didn't even understand why he had done it.

    It was as if, in that moment, his brain had lost all sense.

    Watching her about to leave, Fu Qingzhou's body reacted almost subconsciously, wanting her to stay a little longer, to see her for a few more minutes.

    Stepping out of the cafeteria, the outdoor heat hit them immediately. Fu Qingzhou could almost be sure his face involuntarily reddened. Not knowing how to explain his inexplicable actions, he impulsively embraced her for a while.

    Only when his emotions gradually stabilized did Fu Qingzhou let go. He coughed lightly, his face flushed and uncomfortable as he turned away, "I didn’t mean to... don't mind it! Also... it’s very hot, and getting late... be careful on your way back."

    Nanyan seemed startled by his actions, unable to react for a moment.

    She pursed her lips, her grip on the lunchbox remaining tight, unable to relax. When she finally came to, she responded tentatively, "Hmm? Okay..."

    Fu Qingzhou, sensing something off in her tone, couldn’t help but glance at her. He noticed her cheeks were also faintly flushed, her gaze fixed on the ground, flitting and unsettled, with an air of annoyance and discomfort. She seemed to have a lot to say, yet ultimately remained silent.

    A sudden realization dawned on Fu Qingzhou – perhaps he wasn’t the only one with these strange feelings. It wasn’t just him feeling awkward; Nanyan had feelings for him too.

    This acknowledgment, for some reason, relieved him, filling him with an indescribable excitement and a sense of anticipation, a satisfying sense of fulfillment.

    ……

    Not long after leaving the cafeteria, Nanyan received a call from Jiang Shaoyan. Seeing his name on her phone, her expression was somewhat playful. He hadn't contacted her in a long time. Was he regretting it so soon?

    In fact, Jiang Shaoyan himself didn’t know what was wrong with him.

    Since returning to the office, he had been restless, especially during the meeting – frowning, lost in thought, unable to concentrate on the documents on the screen. His assistant had to remind him several times.

    Yet, Jiang Shaoyan couldn’t settle down, feeling an oppressive heaviness in his chest. The endless panic, instead of subsiding since seeing the pair, seemed to intensify.

    He couldn’t resist the urge to know the status of their relationship and suddenly felt an impulsive need to see Nanyan.

    So, before the meeting ended, Jiang Shaoyan left the conference room to call Nanyan, leaving his employees puzzled. The meeting was temporarily paused under the assistant's direction.

    On the other end, Nanyan waited until the phone rang several times before finally answering. Soon, Jiang Shaoyan’s somewhat somber voice came through the line.

    "Hello, it's me..."

    Nan Yan naturally knew who he was, but unsure of the purpose behind his call, she replied impatiently, "What do you need from me?"

    There was a slight pause in Jiang Shaoyan's tone before he responded indirectly,

    "Are you free tonight?"

    Without a second thought, Nan Yan instinctively declined, "I have other commitments tonight..."

    Her words were cut short as Jiang Shaoyan on the other end of the line suddenly spoke, likely having detected the hint of refusal in her tone. In a moment of urgency, he blurted out an excuse, "Don't rush to decline just yet. I didn't call you for any other reason. The lawyer mentioned that there are still some follow-up procedures regarding the property transfer that need attending to. You'll have to come back again. I'll spare some time tonight to discuss it with you. You can come back earlier, and we can grab a meal together. I'll be waiting for you at home then."

    Without giving Nan Yan a chance to refuse, he promptly ended the call.

    Nan Yan stared at her phone, utterly perplexed. Huh, when did a lawyer's handling of property transfer matters require the busy CEO's accompaniment for discussion? And dining together? Had she ever agreed to that?

    But then she decided not to dwell on it. If he was willing to wait, let him. Anyway, she had no intention of returning on time!

    Jiang Shaoyan, on the other hand, was deep in thought. He truly couldn't comprehend his current state. Especially upon hearing Nan Yan's voice, he realized his heartbeat had accelerated, and a sour feeling emerged in his chest, heavy and uncomfortable, compelling him to involuntarily recall their past shared moments.

    Recalling her gentle voice soothing him, her bashful pecks when she thought he wasn't looking, and her joy in planning his birthday celebrations... There were so many memories that he had overlooked. It dawned on him that their shared experiences were even more profound than those with Wanru, leaving an indelible mark on his heart.

    He acknowledged his affection for Nanyan, though it was a faint spark compared to his enduring feelings for Wanru. He couldn't understand why the sight of Nanyan with Fu Qingzhou irked him so much that he was almost irresistibly driven to intervene.

    Was it possessiveness? Perhaps a tinge of guilt was at play. After all, Nanyan had been with him for a while, and because of him, she was forced to approach Fu Qingzhou. Yes, that was it. His guilt was the culprit.

    With this realization, Jiang Shaoyan's heart eased slightly. Nevertheless, out of caution, he felt compelled to offer her some advice.

    Fu Qingzhou's heart belonged solely to Fang Wanru. Nanyan shouldn't blindly charge forward without self-awareness, for it would only lead to further embarrassment!

    This time, Jiang Shaoyan declined Fang Wanru's invitation and, after work, returned to the house they had shared before their breakup. Gazing at the dark windows on the floor, he took out a spare key and entered directly. Nan Yan was still not back, and an eerie silence permeated the empty living room.

    The arrangement of the furniture inside was much as he had left it, but all the household items had been switched to single servings.

    Jiang Shaoyan instinctively pushed open the door to his former bedroom. It looked mostly unchanged, except for many unused items being put away. Perhaps due to long vacancy, a thin layer of dust covered the floor.

    Checking the time, it was only 5:30 PM, still early. He decided to sit on the sofa and wait for Nanyan. He waited from 5:30 PM until past 10:00 PM, his patience wearing thin, until he finally heard the sound of a key in the door.

    Nanyan hadn't expected Jiang Shaoyan to wait this long. As she turned on the light, she saw him sitting expressionlessly on the sofa, staring at her, which made her instinctively step back, mistaking him for a burglar.

    Once she recognized him, her brow furrowed involuntarily, surprised that he hadn't left.

    Just as Nanyan was about to pass him and enter the room, Jiang Shaoyan's deep voice sounded from behind.

    "Where have you been so late?"

    The figure that was sitting on the sofa stood up, his gaze fixed intently on Nanyan, expressionless.

    Nanyan frowned slightly with impatience but quickly relaxed and responded naturally,

    "I don’t need to report my whereabouts to you. And you, staying in your ex-girlfriend's house this late, aren’t you worried about misunderstandings with the person you like?"

    His pride pricked by her words, Jiang Shaoyan felt his simmering anger flare up, compounded by the frustration he felt from seeing her intimacy with Fu Qingzhou earlier in the day.

    He approached Nanyan, gripping her wrist, “You think I don’t know if you don’t tell me? You’re with Fu Qingzhou, aren’t you? What, have you fallen for him? Or do you think he likes you?”

    Nanyan pursed her lips, a look of annoyance crossing her face as if her secrets were being exposed. She deliberately turned her face away, ignoring him.

    Her silence, in Jiang Shaoyan's eyes, was an admission, and he tightened his grip on her wrist, his anger intensifying.

    He didn’t even understand why he was so infuriated, speaking without restraint.

    “Why don’t you say anything? Is it because I’m right? Are you really with him? So, how far have you two gone? Hugging, kissing, or have you already slept together?”

    “Huh, probably not slept together yet, right? Otherwise, he wouldn’t let you come back alone this late. But then again, is his place too small to accommodate both of you living together?”

    As soon as he finished speaking, Jiang Shaoyan realized his tone was too harsh, hurtful, and even tinged with jealousy and resentment. He was supposed to like Wanrou, so why was he feeling crazily jealous about Nanyan being with Fu Qingzhou?

    His emotions were now beyond his control, erupting uncontrollably.

    A look of astonishment flashed across Nanyan's face.

    She never expected him to say such things and pushed him away impulsively, almost reflexively shouting at him, "What nonsense are you spouting? He's nothing like you!"

    "Not like me?" Jiang Shaoyan scoffed coldly, his voice dripping with sarcasm, "Yes, you're right, I'm indeed not like him!"

    "You think he genuinely likes you? He's just desperately clinging to someone who's kind to him because he's fallen on hard times and has nothing left."

    "Do you realize how foolish you look right now? Do you enjoy throwing yourself at him, sharing his hardships? Don't you know that women who throw themselves at men only appear cheap?"

    "Slap—"

    Nanyan, her eyes brimming with tears, slapped Jiang Shaoyan across the face, causing his head to turn slightly.

    All the anger in Jiang Shaoyan's heart ceased at the moment her tears fell, even feeling some regret.

    "So, this is what you think of me?"

    As soon as she finished speaking, tears uncontrollably streamed down her face, her body trembling slightly.

    Nanyan looked up at him, tears unstoppable, "When I liked you, did you also think this way? Did you find me cheap, a girlfriend who threw herself at you? No matter how hard I tried, I could never compare to the one you truly liked, right? So you could abandon me without hesitation and then push me towards Fu Qingzhou. All because my feelings were too cheap to be cherished, right?"

    "Jiang Shaoyan, you're such a scoundrel!"

    Nanyan sobbed, shaking her head, her face drenched in tears. Finally, she forcefully wiped her tears and glanced at him in despair,

    "I truly regret ever loving you."

    After saying that, she didn’t want to deal with him anymore, turning and rushing into the bedroom.

    Jiang Shaoyan was left standing, pale-faced in the living room, feeling cold all over, his chest aching sharply as if pierced by countless needles with every breath.

    Why did it turn out like this?

    He didn't mean to think that way; he never considered her feelings cheap.

    He was just... jealous, jealous that Fu Qingzhou could win her favor, even though he was supposed to like Wanrou.

    If he didn't like her, why did he break up with Nanyan for her? And why did he push Nanyan towards Fu Qingzhou? If these actions don't constitute liking, then what was the meaning behind everything he had done before?

    Jiang Shaoyan clutched his chest, suddenly feeling a wave of panic, a kind of chaos he had never experienced before, as if he was about to lose something precious...

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