You Have the Right to Keep a Secret Love

Chapters List

Chapter 3: Can't Be a Friend

Qi Xi and Gu Yan's gazes briefly met in the air, like an eerie calm before two armies clashed.

Qi Xi put on a strong display of friendliness to Gu Yan, who almost immediately wore a serious expression.

Gu Xuehan, however, seemed oblivious to the strange atmosphere, and she couldn't help but feel emotional. "Gu Yan, since Qi Xi is also your classmate, don't hide it anymore. You've suffered such a great injustice, and yet you refuse to reveal who did this to you or take legal action against them. What's going on? How can you be a lawyer if you won't even defend your own rights? Isn't that right, Qi Xi?"

Qi Xi didn't dare to confirm that, so she looked at Gu Yan and said with a forced smile, "Well, mainly because Gu Yan is a magnanimous person with great tolerance. In fact, during university, I admired his forgiveness and considered it as my learning goal..."

Gu Xuehan frowned, "Would you, too, be able to endure such a thing, just like Gu Yan?"

Facing Gu Yan's cold gaze, Qi Xi pretended to remain calm. "Of course, Attorney Gu, I believe that while lawyers need to be skilled in attack, most of the time they also need to learn to endure. And as a Buddhist, I am compassionate and magnanimous, willing to forgive others."

Gu Xuehan was a bit surprised. "Are you young people all so Zen nowadays?"

Qi Xi almost clasped her hands together and shouted "love and peace." She nodded solemnly, "Yes, I believe in Buddhism. It's mainly good for health, a positive mindset, and a higher chance of success in the future."

Gu Xuehan shrugged with some incomprehension. "I don't know what's going on with you young people these days, but for me, I'm not that kind of person. I believe in tit for tat. If someone owes me five cents, I'll spend fifty dollars to sue them and get it back."

"Qi Xi, you don't have to worry. Just go ahead and tell me the name of that female classmate. I'll go have a talk with her."

There's no need for that.


Fortunately, a client's phone call interrupted Gu Xuehan's interrogation, and she quickly waved Qi Xi and Gu Yan out of her office.

Gu Yan walked ahead, his face still cold, paying no attention to Qi Xi. Helpless, Qi Xi had to take the initiative and held Gu Yan's hand.

"Gu Yan... maybe we should let this past event fade away with the wind..." Qi Xi looked at Gu Yan earnestly, "I'll repay your kindness and tolerance in the next life if I have to be a cow or a horse. We were classmates for four years, and now we're colleagues. There shouldn't be any long-standing grudges between us. I'm willing to bear the blame for the mistakes I made..."

Gu Yan looked at Qi Xi and asked, "How will you bear it?"

Qi Xi pitifully replied, "I'm willing to compensate you financially, giving you most of my monthly salary, and you can leave me with just enough for my living expenses."

"That letter from Zhang Jialiang was really misleading. If you don't believe me, take a look. If you were in my shoes, it would be easy to misunderstand," Qi Xi said as she brought out the photo of the damned love letter on her phone.

Qi Xi decided to drag Gu Yan into this: "With Zhang Jialiang using that signature and you voluntarily delivering the love letter on his behalf, it was quite difficult for me not to misunderstand, right? If you hadn't delivered the letter, this wouldn't have happened..."

Qi Xi's implications were clear; although she was at fault, Gu Yan also had a bit of negligence in running errands for Zhang Jialiang.

Gu Yan pursed his lips, looking very displeased. "If I had known he slipped a love letter into your LSAT practice book, I would never have handed it to you."

"So you see, both you and I are victims of Zhang Jialiang's actions!"

Great, great. Let's shift the blame, and we can all unite in hating Zhang Jialiang. That will bring us closer in no time!

Smooth talk won't flatter him, but Qi Xi looked at Gu Yan's expression and continued, "Actually, I've always believed that there's no one with better character in the world than you..."

With a cold face, Gu Yan glanced at Qi Xi's phone, and his expression got even worse. "You believe in my character so much, yet you don't thoroughly examine the evidence before deciding that it was me who wrote this? Do you really think I would write such disgusting things even if I were to confess? And in such an ugly handwriting?"

He glanced at Qi Xi, "And you believe in Buddhism? Since when? Weren't you the one who reported the Photography Club's activity of burning incense as feudal superstition?"

"..." Damn it, Gu Yan wasn't part of that club. How does he know?!

Qi Xi tried to maintain a brave smile. "I just recently became a Buddhist, but I'm very devout."

"Very devout?"

Qi Xi nodded. "Yes, very devout."

Gu Yan looked at Qi Xi with a smirk. "Fine, my sister said that a new member is joining today and we're having lunch together. I'll tell her we're going to a vegetarian restaurant. You can't kill to eat meat."


Qi Xi couldn't control her expression this time, and her facial features twisted in disbelief. "Gu Yan, come on. Isn't the evolution of humans to the top of the food chain for the sake of eating meat? After considering it, nutritionists tell us that a balanced diet of both meat and vegetables is healthy. To have a healthy body to work for your sister, I've decided to let go of my obsession with vegetarianism and eat meat."

Gu Yan replied coldly, "You're so considerate."

"I know I was totally at fault for what happened before. It's all my fault. But mainly because that day, I accidentally saw a girl confessing to you and getting rejected, then heard you say you wanted to confess to the girl you liked. That deepened my misunderstanding..." Qi Xi cautiously said, "So did your confession succeed?"

Qi Xi regretted bringing it up as soon as she said it, because Gu Yan's expression became even more unpleasant. The man glared at her fiercely, then uttered two words through gritted teeth.

"No way."

As soon as she finished asking, Qi Xi regretted it. Who would dare to accept Gu Yan's confession after her passionate speech at the graduation ceremony?

It not only ruined Gu Yan's reputation but also his chances of finding a partner!

This grudge with Gu Yan felt difficult to resolve...

Gu Yan clenched his lips tightly. "Qi Xi, work is not for reminiscing. I'm very busy, so please don't waste my time. Find your own desk and stay away from me."

With that statement, Gu Yan walked coldly to his own desk.

Soon, Qi Xi walked to Gu Yan's side, mimicking his steps.

Gu Yan's expression was indeed not pleasant. "I told you not to follow me."

Qi Xi awkwardly smiled and sat beside him. "There was only this empty spot next to you, and the administration just arranged for me to sit here..."

Due to the recent hiring of many new employees, the workspace was tight, and the newly purchased desks and chairs were compact. There were no partitions between workstations, so any slightly larger movements might lead to bumping into the other person's arm.

Looking at the proximity between her and Gu Yan, like high school classmates sitting together, Qi Xi's voice sounded somewhat dry and feeble. "I'm sorry, so this is the closest I can be to you. I'll be careful. As soon as there's another empty desk, I'll move immediately, and I'll stay out of your sight..."

Gu Yan's face grew stern, and he seemed to be struggling to breathe, but in the end, he didn't say anything. He just clenched his lips, buried his head in the case files, and started reading.

Although they had been classmates for four years, Qi Xi had never sat so close to Gu Yan before, close enough that she could see his profile almost within arm's reach.

The bright office lights fell on his face, filtering through his hair, casting shadows and light on his facial features. It was just an ordinary office ceiling light, but it gave Qi Xi the illusion that Gu Yan was sitting in the center of a stage, basked in thousands of spotlights even while sitting silently.

He had sharp and handsome features, an aura of seriousness and coldness, but his eyes were particularly enchanting. Occasionally, when he glanced at someone, they would slightly tilt upwards. Even in a very cold and distant expression, there was a fleeting and elusive charm.

Using "enchanting" to describe a boy was unusual, but after being looked at like that by Gu Yan a few times, Qi Xi felt there couldn't be a better word to describe his eyes. With Gu Yan being used as a banner for Rongda Law School, both in appearance and intelligence, he indeed had the talent.

Though her heart was somewhat sour, Qi Xi had to acknowledge the eye of a talent scout. She also somewhat blamed the talent scout's ability—why couldn't they successfully recruit Gu Yan as a star? If he became a celebrity, she wouldn't have to keep glaring at him at the law firm. With one less competitor in the legal circle, she would have an easier time in her career.


"Alright, let's go eat."

Fortunately, it was finally noon, and Gu Xuehan finished her client call. She led Qi Xi and Gu Yan to a nearby restaurant with a nice atmosphere, serving Huaiyang cuisine.

Putting work aside for the moment, Gu Xuehan's sharpness softened a bit, and she returned to her elegant appearance. She leisurely introduced the situation at the law firm to Qi Xi, "In short, this is the situation. Since both of you have passed the bar exam, your first year at the law firm will be a probationary internship. You'll only become a fully independent practitioner after the internship ends. My practice leans toward business law, but as interns, I suggest you get exposure to all kinds of cases. There are various civil cases, and I'll also guide you through some of them, so you can gain experience in different areas."

Gu Xuehan smiled, "After all, you've just graduated, and you're still a blank slate. In fact, you don't know yet what specific area of law you're good at and enjoy the most. So, it's best to handle various types of cases to find your true direction in the future. As interns, you'll mostly deal with minor cases, which may not feel as distant as business-related ones. Instead, they might be closer to your daily life, making it easier for you to get started."

She looked at Qi Xi and added, "Gu Yan joined earlier than you, and you two are also classmates. So if you encounter anything you don't understand, you can ask him."

Qi Xi beamed with a smile. "Sure, thank you, Attorney Gu! I will learn from Gu Yan diligently! He has been my role model since school days, forever ranking first, and I'm forever following closely behind him in second place. Every step feels like Gu Yan is guiding me forward!"

Unfortunately, Qi Xi's words were destined to be a monologue. Gu Yan, sitting there, sipped his tea, showing no intention of giving her face.

Seeing Gu Yan's attitude, even Gu Xuehan couldn't bear it, but just as she was about to say something to advise Gu Yan, his phone rang.

The man pursed his lips and stood up. "It's a call from a client who consulted about our law firm's services. Let me take it."

As Gu Yan left, Gu Xuehan showed an expression of exasperation and looked at Qi Xi. "Just ignore him. He might have been under a lot of stress lately due to false accusations and feeling a bit stifled."

Why did the conversation circle back to this matter again?!

Compared to Gu Yan, it seemed like dealing with his sister, Gu Xuehan, was even more challenging! After all, Gu Yan hadn't done anything, yet Gu Xuehan was obsessively delving into the issue.

Gu Xuehan seemed determined to pursue this question further. She looked at Qi Xi and asked, "So, who was that girl exactly? Can we still find the video?"

Qi Xi suppressed the urge to run away and pretended to be calm as she explained, "Actually, when the girl was giving her speech at the graduation ceremony, I happened to go to the restroom. By the time I came back, she had finished speaking. As you know about the online video, it has been deleted, and I genuinely didn't see or know anything about it."

"Isn't that speech supposed to be quite long? You didn't hear anything? You were in the restroom the whole time?"

Qi Xi fought the urge to collapse inwardly and said calmly, "I had constipation that day."

Gu Xuehan was probably taken aback by Qi Xi's answer for a moment. After a pause, she moved the plate of snowflake beef in front of Qi Xi and replaced it with a large bowl of vegetable salad. "In this line of work, lawyers often sit for a long time. You're still young, so take care of your health. Today, have a vegetarian meal."

"..." She couldn't believe that with her own efforts, she finally got to eat vegetarian food.

Gu Xuehan thoughtfully ordered several vegetarian dishes for Qi Xi and then rubbed her forehead, steering the conversation back to work. "This is the overall atmosphere at the law firm. Gu Yan might be a bit moody lately. I'll try to remind him, but he has always had a rebellious nature..."

Wait? Gu Yan has a rebellious nature?

Where did Gu Yan show any signs of rebellion? He's practically an exemplary student...

Seeing the confusion in Qi Xi's eyes, Gu Xuehan shrugged. "When I was promoted to partner, I suggested that he join my team after graduation to assist me. But he insisted on going to study in the United States. Then, when I finally respected his choice and helped him apply to such a good school, he turned around and said he wasn't going and was planning to work at the law firm instead. He's usually a steady person, but suddenly, when it came to such a significant career decision, he became so unpredictable. It might be a delayed rebellious phase, I suppose."

Qi Xi was also puzzled about this. Especially considering that Gu Yan's family was well-off, and his sister had a good income, and they were supportive of him. It couldn't be that financial issues led to him abandoning his dream of studying abroad.

But Qi Xi was curious. "Which school did Gu Yan get an offer from? Is he going to study LLM* or JD?"

*Master of Laws (M.L. or LL.M.; Latin: Magister Legum or Legum Magister)

"JD at Columbia Law School."


What kind of fate is this?! Gu Yan was also going to study JD at Columbia Law School?

Thank goodness she didn't go! Otherwise, not only would she have been suppressed and beaten by Gu Yan for four years in China, but she would have endured the same treatment for three more years in a foreign land!

However, just as she was relieved, Qi Xi suddenly remembered that Gu Yan didn't go after all, and they ended up in the same law firm and the same team.

Born as Yu, why must Liang be born as well?*

*The phrase "既生瑜何生亮" is a Chinese idiom that means "If there is Yú, how can there not be Liàng?" or "If Yú is born, how can Liàng not follow?" It is often used to express the idea that if someone possesses exceptional talent or beauty (Yú), it is only natural for another person of equal or even greater talent or beauty (Liàng) to appear as well. It emphasizes the presence of multiple outstanding individuals in a particular field or situation.

This was truly a damn sad story.

"He's been avoiding people lately. Don't mind him. He's been going through a rough time. He even said he would bring his girlfriend to have a meal with me if everything went smoothly, but that never happened," Gu Xuehan said sadly. "Maybe he got dumped, and then he was falsely accused, causing a drastic change in his personality."

Qi Xi felt it might be because of her—Gu Yan's failed confession and his desolation—that he had lost interest in everything, even in holding her accountable...

Not even getting to start a relationship, this was a sadder story than being dumped.

Qi Xi felt guilty and took the initiative to say, "Attorney Gu, if there's any work, please assign it to me. I'll do more so that Gu Yan can relax a bit and have time to sort out his emotions..."

Gu Xuehan pursed her lips. "Just find the girl who accused him as soon as possible, so he can vent his frustrations. It's not good for him to keep it all bottled up."


Qi Xi's guilt disappeared without a trace, and her expression became very stiff. Fortunately, at that moment, Gu Yan finished the call and returned. Gu Xuehan shifted the topic back to giving Qi Xi and Gu Yan some advice for new hires.

The lunch didn't last long because Gu Xuehan's schedule was tight. She had another trial in a different district in the afternoon. She gave some brief instructions and didn't even have time for dessert before paying the bill and leaving.

So, at the table, only Qi Xi and Gu Yan remained.

Gu Yan was still aloof, but Qi Xi wanted to mend the past and approached him with a warm heart. So, she initiated the conversation, "You also applied for the JD program at Columbia Law School before, right? I did..."

Before Qi Xi could finish her sentence, Gu Yan reacted unusually and vehemently interrupted her, "Who told you that?"

"Your sister," Qi Xi replied curiously. "As for me, my family suddenly stopped supporting me to go, and I didn't have the money to attend, so I came to work. But why did you give up the offer? It's a pity."

Gu Yan frowned and clearly didn't want to discuss this further. "Just didn't feel like going anymore."

Could he be so capricious?

However, it wasn't a big deal. What Qi Xi cared about was...

"Then, from now on, we'll be colleagues, partners in the same team. I admit my past mistakes. Give me a chance to make amends, and then can we still be friends?"

For some reason, if Gu Yan's expression could be considered indifferent earlier, now when he looked at Qi Xi, it became a bit more complex, almost gritting his teeth.

"Qi Xi, I can never be friends with you."

After saying this, Gu Yan got up with a cold face.

The dessert was still untouched...


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