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    "Chapter 80 [VIP] Best Friend's Shield (18)"

    "As she spoke, she became increasingly agitated, her emotions spiraling into chaos. Suddenly, she seemed to realize something, and hastily wiped the tears from her cheeks. Shaking her head with a clearer mind, she said,"

    "No, I can't let Qingzhou be deceived any longer. I need to find him, tell him the truth, that all this was just a conspiratorial plot you both orchestrated from the start. I can't let him get hurt anymore..."

    "With a sudden spark in her eyes, Fang Wanzhu clenched her phone tightly, suppressing the surge of emotions, and repeated firmly, 'Yes, I need to tell Qingzhou. He can't be deceived any longer.'"

    "She stood up, gripping the evidence in her hand, eager to tell Fu Qingzhou everything. Jiang Shaoyan didn't stop her, just watched expressionlessly as she left."


    "Meanwhile, the other two remained oblivious to the impending storm. Since they had laid everything out in the open that day, their relationship had grown stronger."

    "Especially since they were left undisturbed lately, it seemed everything had returned to calm, stabilizing their lives and fostering a sense of peaceful belonging."

    "After the construction site accident, Nan Yan found it too risky for Fu Qingzhou to continue there and urged him to find a safer job. He agreed and eventually found a position in a small-scale company with decent treatment. Though a regular employee, it was far less demanding than construction work, so today was his last day on the site."

    "With work issues resolved and life progressing as hoped, both felt a surge of happiness, deeming it necessary to celebrate properly."

    "Having saved some money from his long stint on the site, Fu Qingzhou insisted on treating Nan Yan to dinner. The restaurant they chose wasn’t expensive but was a bit of a stretch for his current budget. Nevertheless, they both enjoyed the meal thoroughly."

    "'Try this, isn’t it sweet?' Nan Yan offered Fu Qingzhou a beautifully presented dessert, and he didn’t hesitate to bite into her spoon."

    "After eating, they shared a smile, feeling an unspoken connection. This was a new sensation for Fu Qingzhou, filled with novelty and fulfillment, unlike anything he’d experienced before."

    "In the past, he never worried about money on dates, nor did he concern himself with ensuring the atmosphere was romantic or the restaurant prestigious. His assistant would handle all arrangements."

    "But now, things were different. He had to consider everything, personally check and plan, and though lacking the extravagance and lavishness of before, it brought a newfound sense of responsibility."

    "Though he regretted not being able to offer her a better life, he also felt fortunate to have met her during his most difficult times. Not everyone is lucky enough to have someone who stands by them through their lowest moments, unwavering and loyal."

    Now, they appeared as an ordinary couple, strolling leisurely through nearby streets after their meal, hand in hand.

    Fucheng, lost in thought, glanced sideways at his girlfriend who was gently sipping her milk tea through a straw. A wave of tenderness washed over him, and a smile involuntarily graced his face. He felt truly fortunate to have met her during the most challenging times.

    Since the troubles began in the Fu family, Fucheng hadn't experienced such relaxation in a long while. The past pressure had weighed on him like a mountain, leaving him gasping for breath. But now, life seemed lighter; as long as she was by his side, he felt that any hardships ahead would be bearable with hope.

    As they crossed the road, Nanyan suddenly stopped. Fucheng, still holding her hand, halted as well and looked at her. With sparkling eyes, she pointed to a transparent display case on their left and asked,

    "Look at that dress, isn't it beautiful?"

    She leaned close to the shop window, gently exhaling warm breath onto the glass. With great concentration, she traced the silhouette of the dress with her fair fingers, tapping lightly against the glass.

    When those captivating eyes reflect your image alone, with nothing else in their depths, it has the power to stir the heart of anyone who beholds it.

    Fu Qingzhou cast a glance at the shop; it seemed the owner had just closed up for the day. A warm yellow cylindrical lamp was still lit inside, casting a glow upon a dress that shimmered gloriously. However, it was evident that this was no ordinary gown, but a wedding dress adorned with countless rhinestones.

    Beneath the gentle glow of the lamplight, the gardenia in the potted plant quietly unfurls its blossoms.

    A tender and romantic sweetness lingers in the air, gradually blossoming.

    A gentle stir touched Fu Qingzhou's heart, and his fingers instinctively caressed his girlfriend's cheek. Smiling, he said in a soothing tone, "Do you like it very much? Someday, I'll make sure you wear that dress too."

    Upon hearing this, Nan Yan turned to look at him intently. After making him feel uneasy under her gaze, she couldn't help but giggle. "Fu Qingzhou, is this your way of proposing?"

    The slender white finger that was tracing the skirt now tapped his chest instead, each tap resonating deep within Fu Qingzhou's heart.

    He held her finger a little tighter, a hint of unease flickering across his face. He coughed dryly, seemingly testing the waters.

    "If I were to propose, would you say yes?"

    Nan Yan was momentarily stunned by his question.

    She then playfully stepped on his foot, causing Fu Qingzhou to flinch. With a light laugh, she withdrew her hand and started running towards their rented cottage. "Ha, wishful thinking, Fu Qingzhou! Trying to whisk me away without even a ring? How about you catch me first? If you can, maybe I'll consider giving you a chance..."

    As she spoke, she ran off, occasionally turning back to beckon him with a teasing gesture, her eyes curving into a smile.

    Fu Qingzhou was amused and slightly exasperated. Was she treating him like a pet dog?

    But he didn't forget her challenge.

    "Remember, you said it yourself: if I catch you, you have to agree to my proposal." He burst into a sprint, chasing after her while cautiously reminding her, "Alright, alright, I won't chase anymore. Slow down, there are cars on the road…"

    Nan Yan turned back, still teasing,

    "Oh no, if I get caught... Ah!"

    Before she could finish her sentence, Fu Qingzhou suddenly dashed forward, scooping her up in his arms and effortlessly twirling her around in circles.

    He looked at her triumphantly. "Caught you. Now what?"

    Nan Yan, amused by his response, burst into laughter. She wrapped her arms tightly around his neck and planted a kiss on his forehead.

    "There, are you satisfied now?"

    Fu Qingzhou chuckled, deeply content with his girlfriend's affection. Holding her, he felt a warm softness in his heart, increasingly enchanted and unable to resist.

    After she stopped laughing, he gently set her down and took her hand, walking forward slowly. "By the way, I have a gift for you tomorrow."

    Fu Qingzhou glanced at his girlfriend beside him with a soft smile. Who said he didn't have a ring? It was just that he hadn't found the right moment yet. A proposal, after all, required thorough preparation, considering it only happened once in a lifetime.

    "Gift?" Nan Yan blinked curiously and sized him up from head to toe. "What kind of gift is so mysterious?"

    Fu Qingzhuo cleared his throat softly and averted his face slightly, not elaborating much. "You'll know tomorrow. Why are you in such a hurry?"

    "But you've already hinted at it. If you don't tell me, you're just trying to make me toss and turn all night. What is this gift? Just tell me, okay?"

    Her eyes, filled with anticipation, glistened as she stared at him, almost making Fu Qingzhuo lose control. He was on the verge of blurting it out, but fortunately, he managed to restrain himself just in time.

    "No way, if I told you, it wouldn't be a surprise anymore."

    Nanyan continued to soothe him, "It's alright, I can pretend to be pleasantly surprised tomorrow. After all, it's a gift for me; I won't mind at all."

    Fucheng Zhou simply reached out to cover her eyes, his face maintaining its serious demeanor, but his ears had unknowingly flushed a faint shade of red, "I've already said no..."

    Now Nanyan was at a loss. Although this man could be playful and easily embarrassed at times, he was also a man of principle. No matter how she tried to persuade him, he wouldn't budge on something he had decided. Thus, she could only wait until tomorrow.

    When it came time to part, perhaps due to the delightful atmosphere of the day, both of them felt a reluctance to leave each other.

    All the way back home, Fucheng Zhou pondered over the best location to place the ring for the next day. How could he make sure she would find it obviously but not in a deliberate manner?

    Would it seem too rustic to put it in an egg?

    If hidden in the cake, might she choke on it while eating?

    He wouldn't want the surprise to turn into a fright, would he?

    Now, that's quite a conundrum.

    Seems like he has some serious pondering to do.

    With this thought occupying his mind, Fu Qingzhuo found himself lying in bed for the first time, unable to sleep. He stared at the ceiling above, wide-eyed, convinced that he wouldn't be able to close his eyes tonight. His mind was entirely preoccupied with imagining her reaction upon seeing the ring. The more he pondered, the more alert he became...

    On the other side, Nanyan enjoyed a peaceful night's sleep.

    I didn't rise until the sun had climbed high into the sky, well past the third pole of the day.

    If not for the alarm on her phone ringing, she could have dozed off for just a little while longer. In that fleeting moment of drowsiness, her mind spun in a haze, leaving her with a vague sense that she had overlooked something crucial.

    Then, she recalled Fu Qingzhou's mention of a surprise last night. This thought instantly refreshed her, clearing her mind considerably.

    Fortunately, Fu Qingzhou had emphasized last night that there was no need to rush over. This only heightened Nanyan's curiosity – what kind of surprise could be so secretive?

    Seeing that it was getting late and the agreed time with Fu Qingzhou was almost here, Nanyan got out of bed promptly.

    Her place wasn't too far from Fu Qingzhou's rented house – a ten-minute drive each way.

    On her way, Nanyan couldn't resist sending a message to Fu Qingzhou. However, this time, she didn't receive an immediate reply. Assuming he might have missed it or was occupied with something, she decided to call him. Strangely, her call went unanswered. It was unusual, as such occurrences hadn't happened since they started dating.

    Nonetheless, she didn't dwell on it much, for the taxi had already arrived at its destination. As Nanyan alighted, she noticed the sudden change in weather. The sun that was out when she left was now replaced by dark clouds, signaling an impending downpour.

    Nanyan stood at the door, knocking, but no one answered.

    Eventually, she resorted to using a spare key. Only after pushing the door open did she sense something amiss inside.

    The arrangement of the room remained unchanged, but the darkness engulfed the space, with the curtains inexplicably drawn, creating an oppressive and stifling atmosphere.

    She promptly switched on the lights, directing her gaze to the other side. That was when she noticed Fu Qingzhou sitting on the sofa.

    She instinctively approached him. "Fu Qingzhou, what's going on with you today? Why aren't you answering my calls?"

    Furu Qianzhou, seated on the sofa, didn't respond.

    As Nanyan drew closer, she noticed that the glass coffee table in front of him had shattered at some point. The floor was littered with glass shards, and his hand was marked with cuts from the glass, with dried bloodstains visible.

    This scene startled Nanyan; there was barely a spot for her to step without danger. When she noticed that his fingers were still bleeding, frustration welled up inside her. "Furu Qianzhou, have you lost your mind?"

    "Can't you feel any pain? Don't you see that your hand is still bleeding? Why haven't you bandaged it?"

    "And what exactly were you doing at home today? Didn't you say you were going to surprise me? Why is the living room in such a mess? Is this the surprise you mentioned last night?"

    She moved to kneel and inspect his injuries, her eyes reddening with anger at the sight of the nearly scabbed wounds.

    Just then, Fu Qingzhuo abruptly withdrew his hand and looked up at her, his gaze unwavering. There was an inexplicable sense of oppression in his demeanor.

    "Leave those alone for now, I have something I need to ask you."


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