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“In that case, why do you trust that I have the ability to do it? Although there are very few masters who are experts in that aspect, there are indeed still many others who are capable. Why me, when you can simply hire them by offering a hefty sum of money, which you don’t lack? Old Mr. Gu, I am far less advanced in age, as well as skill and practice. I know you’re a man of good judgement; otherwise, you wouldn’t have been able to build and develop your business into the empire it is today. Thus, will you tell me why you chose me?” asked an intrigued An Xiaoning.

“There isn’t a special reason, actually. I trust you, only because you are Jingxin’s only disciple,” he answered.

Giving it some thought, An Xiaoning said with sarcasm while looking at Mrs. Gu, “If I acknowledge you as my God-grandfather, I would have to acknowledge Mr. and Mrs. Gu as my godparents as well. But, with Godma disliking me, I’m going to have a hard time living with the Gu’s in the future.”

“Oh silly, since I’ll be taking you as my God-granddaughter under the witness of everyone in my family, rest assured I’ll be treating you like my own, making sure you have everything you need to live comfortably,” reassured Gu Shaochun. Noticing how highly her father-in-law regarded An Xiaoning, Mrs. Gu knew not to belittle her.

“Are you amenable now?” asked Gu Shaochun with a satisfied smile.

“Let me consider it, and I’ll give you an answer tomorrow. How does that sound?”

“Great,” Gu Shaochun answered with a nod.

The Gu’s drove back home after dropping An Xiaoning off at her house. On the journey back, Mr. Gu asked, “Father, can we really depend on her?”

“Back then, her Grandmaster had accurately predicted the age and exact date your grandparents would pass on. She had let us in on this matter out of her own accord. It has got to be right. This is a family secret not to be divulged to anyone else, be it true or not. It doesn’t pay to take a risk.”

“But An Xiaoning knows about our secret now. What if she reveals it to Jin Qingyan…”

“She won’t. There are rules when it comes to the practice. She’s a careful and meticulous girl. She’s not going to completely trust someone she hasn’t known for long easily,” Gu Shaochun disagreed.

——

An Xiaoning sat on the couch. The moment she arrived home, she had begun reading the book Gu Shaochun gave her.

The words on the book were handwritten. The handwriting was unique and legible only to a few.

Despite being a pious adherent of Buddhism who had been in practice for her whole life, An Xiaoning’s Master was unable to understand the writings, simply because she was not psychic.

Unlike her master, the psychic An Xiaoning could read each and every word written on the book.

Since her Grandmaster was the one who had handed down the book to her disciple, the writings must have been handwritten by the former.

The book was entirely composed of hexagrams, compilations of mantras, and mnemonic chants. To An Xiaoning, it was a precious handbook that ought to be treasured.

Noticing An Xiaoning reading cross-legged, as soon as he got home, Jin Qingyan inched forward and asked curiously, “What’s that book you’re reading?”

“A book that means a ton to me. One that is priceless,” she said without revealing the identity of the book.

“Where’d you get that from?”

“Secret.”

“Are there still secrets between us?” he asked inquisitively, one eyebrow raised.

“Of course,” replied An Xiaoning with a smirk. “I went to offer my respects to my Master today and bumped into old Mr. Gu along the way. Turns out, he’s the man my master had loved for her entire life. He wants to acknowledge me as his God-granddaughter and include me in his family’s historic record. What do you think of that?” she continued, trying to sound him out.

“The Gu Family?”

“Yes.”

“He wants to acknowledge you, simply because you’re the only disciple of your master?”

An Xiaoning asked in reply, “What’s wrong? He even offered to grant me any wish I’d like, as long as they are within his means. I find this a pretty good deal.”

“Back then, Gu Beicheng had had a hard time acknowledging his biological parents. Why would they include you in their family historic record that easily? There’s no free lunch in this world,” said a skeptical Jin Qingyan. “I think you’d better not agree. Besides, you’ll be the Mistress of the Jin family real soon. Given the strained ties between the Gu family and mine, Mother and Grandma won’t be too pleased to hear about it,” he added.

“The strained ties between the families? Or is it… simply the strained relationship between you and Gu Beicheng?” she asked with a smile.

Without a response, Jin Qingyan headed upstairs, his face stiff.

Smirking, An Xiaoning watched as his figure disappeared into the stairway.

It seemed she had hit the nail on the head.

After finishing a bowl of instant noodles paired with a carton of milk, a satiated An Xiaoning was all ready for a nap on the couch.

Just as she laid down, Jin Qingyan zoomed down the stairs and headed straight for the door, anxiety written all over his face.

“Where are you headed to?” asked An Xiaoning.

Not having the time to even reply, Jin Qingyan put on his shoes and left in a hurry.

An Xiaoning did not put much thought into the matter. She closed her eyes and dozed off quickly.

In dreamland, An Xiaoning sat across her Master in the courtyard of the temple. Grinning from ear to ear, her Master said, “I thought I would never have the chance to see him again after my death. But I did, all thanks to you.”

“Master, he had asked for me to be his God-granddaughter. And he requested me to lend a helping hand to the Gu Family during the time of the great disaster they were bound to face one day. Should I agree?”

“Follow your heart, dear. As your master, though, I feel it would be a good choice to agree, for I can then leave in peace, knowing that you will be taken care of in the future.”

“Thank you, Master.”

Nun Jingxin was still smiling as her figure faded into a blur. An Xiaoning woke up from her nap only to realize it was just a dream.

To her surprise, her Master had appeared in her dreams to convey a message.

——

Evening had arrived. All of a sudden, a bunch of makeup artists and hair stylists showed up at her door, claiming that they had been sent by Mrs. Jin. The butler had also brought along the numerous sets of bridal gowns and suits.

Having put on her wedding gown, An Xiaoning could not help but smile at the sight of her reflection in the mirror. This was her second time donning a wedding gown. Come her big day tomorrow, she would be the most beautiful she had ever been in her entire life.

Her only worry was Jin Qingyan, who was still not yet home despite the late hour.

She waited patiently on the couch for his return, sipping on a drink she had poured herself.

As the clock struck nine, An Xiaoning decided to give him a call. She was tired of waiting. However, he did not pick up, even after a long time.

Thus, she decided not to wait any longer and proceeded to get some rest alone.

Not having slept well that night, An Xiaoning woke up to find that it was empty beside her on the bed. There were no missed calls or messages from him either.

Soon, it was the morning of their big day. Jin Qingyan arrived home just as An Xiaoning was sitting on the dressing table to get her hair done, right after putting on her wedding gown.

He immediately changed into his wedding suit.

Without any explanation at all, he headed downstairs.

An Xiaoning clenched her fists anxiously. She felt a need to know his whereabouts the night before. Why did he refuse to pick up my call? she thought to herself.

After the makeup artists and hairstylists had left her bedroom, she ordered for someone to get him to come upstairs.

“Where did you go last night?”

“Rui’er had injured her leg pretty badly. She was in pain the entire night.”

Widening her mouth in disbelief, An Xiaoning questioned, “So, you kept her company at the hospital for the entire night?”

“Yeah.”

“Shouldn’t Gu Beicheng be the one accompanying her? Why was it you instead?” An Xiaoning continued to ask, trying to get to the bottom of the matter.