Conflicted – Chapter 24

Xi Men took a deep breath and then exhaled it while looking at nothing in particular.

“So that’s what you have with Xiao You,” Mei Zhuo said.

Xi Men nodded solemnly, without looking at Mei Zhuo.

“So we finally know the truth… 12 years later,” Ah Si said.

Xi Men smirks briefly as a respond. “If I could… I want to keep it to my grave,”

Lei, Mei Zhuo and Ah Si exchanged glances.

“I really wondered why. Why don’t you tell us this when we asked you about it back then,” Lei said.

“And we actually asked you a lot of times,” Ah Si said.

Mei Zhuo nodded.

Xi Men lowered his gaze, and then he smirks again, “I don’t find a need to talk about it,” he said. “And… I have made up my mind to let her go,” he adds. “So there is no use to talk about it,”

Lei exhaled a short sigh, “Fine. Then why? Why do you let her go? Considering what you’re feeling for Xiao You, why?” Lei pressed for it. “You see. Despite not knowing what the heck happened between you and Xiao You, I know she is somewhat special to you, so I asked you to go for her. Then why? Why didn’t you?” he asked frustratingly.

“I did ask you to do that too,” Mei Zhuo said to Xi Men, and then glances over to Lei.

“So am I,” Ah Si said, looking at Mei Zhuo and Lei.

Lei gazes at Mei Zhuo and Ah Si, before returning his gaze to Xi Men who is looking back at him (Lei), “So that means all of us did. All of us asked you to go after Xiao You, why didn’t you, when you know how you felt for her?” Lei asked again. “Why do you let her go?”

Xi Men’s gaze dropped. “I actually… have internal conflict with myself,”

“Huh?” all three of them asked.

“A part of me wants to go for her. I do. But another part of me is afraid,” Xi Men said.

“Afraid?” all three of them asked.

“What are you afraid of?” Mei Zhuo asked.

Even Lei’s frustration has momentarily vanished.

Xi Men took a deep breath, “Well…” he smirks. “I remember I was afraid that I might see her with someone else,”

Lei, Mei Zhuo and Ah Si exchanged glances in surprised.

“You can’t be kidding me…” Ah Si uttered.

“But of course… that’s not the main point,” Xi Men said, looking at Ah Si.

“Then?” Lei asked.

Goodness. He can still joke at this time?

“My biggest concern is that…” Xi Men swallowed the lump in his throat, “If she is single and I can be with her, I am afraid that I am not capable to make her happy the way she wanted to,” he said. “I am afraid of failing and disappointing her,”

“But…” Mei Zhuo said.

“Because I love her, Mei Zhuo,” Xi Men said, looking at Mei Zhuo who had wanted to say something. “I love her. I have feelings for her. So naturally, I have expectations, because it is Xiao You. I have dreams and hopes for both of me and Xiao You. I seriously do. I have imagined being happily married to Xiao You, and having a family together with her. Just like you guys do with your wives. But because she is Xiao You… I didn’t want to disappoint her. I can disappoint anyone but not her,” he said, tears forming so quickly in his eyes and then streamed down to his cheek. “I am afraid to see this dream becomes a nightmare. So all I could do is just to keep it as a dream,”

Lei, Mei Zhuo and Ah Si could only look at each other, didn’t know what to say.

Hearing Xi Men’s side of story, Lei begins to feel sympathy towards Xi Men while Mei Zhuo heads to Xi Men and then pats Xi Men’s shoulder.

Ah Si could only exhale a deep sigh.

“Xiao You wants me to open up. I did. I opened up. I open up to love her. But I am not brave enough to take action on it,” Xi Men said, wiping his tears. “Because I am afraid of ruining the expectations…”

Lei lifted his hand up and scratched his forehead.

Mei Zhuo and Ah Si just exchanged glances.

“And at that time, I also believe…” Xi Men said.

Lei, Mei Zhuo and Ah Si looked at Xi Men.

“…I believe that if I don’t do anything, then things will change; that my feelings for her will fade, that I will move on from her, forget her, and that things will also go back to its original state, and she’ll just be another girl I’ve been with,” Xi Men said.

“That…” Lei said, and taken aback with Mei Zhuo & Ah Si.

“And also… if I don’t do anything, I won’t ruin anything. And I don’t have to be afraid that I may fail or disappoint her,” Xi Men said.

Lei closed his eyes in disappointment upon hearing it.

Mei Zhuo exhaled a deep breath in disbelief.

“So you did just that,” Ah Si said.

Xi Men nodded unwillingly.

Lei exhaled his deep breath in frustration.

Mei Zhuo raised his hand up and squeezed his nasal bridge.

Ah Si shook his head in dejection.

“So that is why you picked that path of doing nothing,” Lei said.

Xi Men nodded again. “Yes… I picked that path,”

Lei, Mei Zhuo and Ah Si looked at each other.

“Thing is…”

Lei, Mei Zhuo and Ah Si looked at Xi Men again, who seems to be in daze.

“With Xiao Gen… I thought things will remain the same if I didn’t do anything, but my friendship with Xiao Gen has changed,” Xi Men said. “I even lost her as a friend,”

They just stared at Xi Men.

“And going thru the same thing again with Xiao You, I have expected that things will change, but… it did not,” he continued, looking at all of them. “I could not move on from her. I could not forget her. My feelings for her did not fade, not even slight, even after a decade,” he adds, “Until today,”

Lei, Mei Zhuo and Ah Si exchanged glances with each other.

“And if you ask me if I ever regretted not going after her? Yes. I regretted,” Xi Men said, and then gritted his teeth. “Even more so now, “

Lei exchanged gazes with Mei Zhuo and Ah Si, before he straightened his head to look at Xi Men. “Xi Men…” he gave Xi Men a gentle squeeze on Xi Men’s shoulder.

Xi Men slowly turns his head to look at Lei.

“If you had told us 12 years ago about what you’ve been thru with Xiao You, things would have been different for you today,” Lei said.

“Different? Why?” Xi Men asked.

“Because I will make sure you go after her. I will even drag you to do that,” Lei said.

Xi Men just stared at Lei.

“I will make sure you took the chance, like we did,” Lei said, glancing over to Mei Zhuo and Ah Si.

Xi Men swapped from looking at Lei to Mei Zhuo and then at Ah Si.

“Do you need me to remind you that we did? All of us took chances. Perhaps you did not realize it,” Lei said. “What we have done with our relationship,” he adds. “Ah Si fought against his mother to be with San Chai. Mei Zhuo… no, I mean, Xiao Qiao did. Mei Zhuo didn’t want to be with Xiao Qiao but Xiao Qiao determines to make it work by controlling Mei Zhuo and Mei Zhuo ends up falling for her…”

And Mei Zhuo glares at Lei for saying that.

“And I did too; I went to Paris to look for Jing despite not knowing what future might hold for us. So look at us, Xi Men. We take chances. We take risks, trying to go after what we want. And we are who we are today,” Lei said.

Xi Men looked at them, one after another.

“And I know you are afraid of not being able to give a perfect life for Xiao You, but when your loved one is with you, you will naturally do and try everything to make it happen. You will even give your life up to make it happen,” Lei said. “You really will,”

Xi Men dropped his gaze.

“If you had told us this back then, we will definitely help you thru each of your struggle,” Lei said.

Mei Zhuo nodded and then says, “We will make sure you get her,”

“Provided she was single, of course,” Ah Si had to add.

Xi Men looked at them, and then chuckled incredulously, “You guys are even willing to help me…”

“Yes, because we have our happiness. We want you to have yours too,” Lei said.

Mei Zhuo and Ah Si nodded.

“To be honest, it felt the best if you have fought for it,” Ah Si said.

Lei nodded, while Mei Zhuo smiled.

Seeing his buddies smiled, a small smile formed on Xi Men’s face; but it fades very soon after.

“At the end of the day, I didn’t take the risk. My fear on ruining this dream and hope overpowers everything. That is why I didn’t go after her. That is why I let things flow on its own,” Xi Men said. “To what it is today,”

Lei, Mei Zhuo and Ah Si could only exchanged glances.

“So that is why you go out with Juliana, married her, and never try to get out of it until the wedding day,” Ah Si said.

“Juliana?” Xi Men asked as he looked at them, and then he shook. “Not entirely like this,”

There is a story to this too?

“I did try to get out of it. I tried to get rid of Juliana…”

==========

*Flashback (6 years ago).

Juliana smiled as she looked at Xi Men sitting in front her, finally willing to dine with her after inviting him repeatedly.

“So…” Juliana said. “Can we go out tomorrow?”

Xi Men lifted his eyes up and looked at Juliana. “Huh?”

“Yeah,” Juliana smiled. “We should go out tomorrow. Like watching a movie or…”

“No,” Xi Men said. “You know I am not going out with you,”

Hearing rejection from Xi Men is not a first, but Juliana is not giving up.

“I want to go to…”

“Juliana,” Xi Men interrupts, and then puts the cutleries in his hands down. “I am not going to lie to you about this. I don’t want to go out with you. And I don’t want to have this meal with you either, but because you have been asking me for so many times, I give in today,”

“Xi Men…”

“I hope you understand that we cannot date,”

“I know, but why?” Juliana asked.

Xi Men looked at her, and then he exhaled a deep breath, and looked down to his food.

Juliana looked at him, “I am not going to lie to you either. I have given you hints here and there that I am interested with you, and hope you will make a move to ask me out but you didn’t. I have to admit I am really disappointed with you for not taking my hints, but I realized it is not…”

“I know you are interested with me. I know your hints,” Xi Men interrupts again.

“Yes, I realized that, after some time. I realized that you knew, but you just did not want to ask me out. So I choose to pursue you and try asking you out and it’s been months! I have been pursuing you for months!”

“I know,” he sighed.

“I can’t believe I am going to say this as a girl,”

Xi Men glances at her.

“Xi Men, I really want to go out with you because I really like you,” Juliana said, immediately feeling she is the ‘man’ now.

“I know you like me,” Xi Men said again.

“Then why? Why is it that…”

“I don’t have feelings for you, and I will not like you,” Xi Men said. “No matter what,”

The words that Xi Men had uttered pierced her heart. Tears filled her eyes and she begins to sniff.

“So, I will not be with you, no matter what you are going to do,” he said. “You are a nice girl. You will get a better one out there,”

“But I really like you and I want to be with you…” Juliana said. “I think it has progressed to ‘love’…”

He looked at her, watching her lowering her head down and then begins to sob.

He felt bad for making her cry.

He hates watching a girl cry because of him.

But he knew what he said is harsh. Maybe he should say something to cushion her heartbreak, at least, after (she) knowing what type of person he is, perhaps she wouldn’t feel so heartbroken.

“Juliana, let me get this straight,” Xi Men uttered.

Juliana lifted her head up and looked at Xi Men, sniffing and wiping her tears.

“It is not worth liking me, not to even mention loving me,” Xi Men said. “I will not love you the way you want me to. I am a man not capable to love. I have a dark past that no one will like. Nobody will be able to accept that,”

“Dark past?”

Xi Men nodded. “Telling you about that will make you have a bad impression of me,”

“Tell me,” Juliana said. “I will accept it,”

Xi Men smirked. “It is easy for you to say,”

“I don’t believe that your past is as dark as you’ve said,” Juliana said.

Xi Men looked at Juliana, staring at her intently.

If telling her will make her leave, then it is a good revelation.

“I was a playboy,” Xi Men said. “I have a lot of girlfriends in the past. I changed girlfriends every week. Each of them only lasts for a week,”

Juliana looked at him, her eyes widened at that revelation.

“So, you can imagine how many ladies I have slept with,” Xi Men said. “So much that I have lost count,” he looked at her. “So, can you accept that?”

“Are… are you still… a playboy?”

“No, I am not anymore, but that doesn’t change the fact that I have slept with a lot of women out there, right?” Xi Men said.

He looked at her, and finding Juliana is uncomfortable with the truth.

But that’s a good thing.

In some ways.

He thought it is good enough.

But… it is not.

Few days later, Juliana sends a long text message Xi Men, without making a call to him because she is quite positive that he wouldn’t pick up her call.

—–

Xi Men,

I have thought about what you’ve said for a few days. Although it is hard to believe and accept in the first place, the matter has slowly set in for me now and I have decided to continue pursuing you. It is part of your past but you are still you. I still like you very much. I am still hoping we could be together. And I am not giving up on you.

So, can we meet up for dinner tonight?

Juliana.

—–

Reading that message leads Xi Men to sigh. “How am I supposed to get rid of her…” he dropped the phone and then rubs his forehead.

He knew if he rejects her invitation for dinner tonight will lead to more invitations in the future, so he accepted this and again, decided to be straightforward and will reject her again.

This time, ruthlessly.

**********

“Juliana, let me be completely honest with you,” Xi Men said.

Juliana nodded. “Sure,”

“I hope this will give you a clear picture,”

“Hmmm?”

“Remember I told you… I will never love you?”

Juliana nodded, “Yes,”

“That’s because I love someone else,”

Juliana looked at Xi Men.

Taking a deep breath, “In my life, there are two significant women,”

“Two?”

“Or rather, the second woman is more significant to me than the first,”

“Who is that?” Juliana asked.

Xi Men takes a deep breath, and chooses to ignore her question. “The first one…” he immediately remembers Xiao Gen. “She likes me, and expects something in return from me but I didn’t do anything. I was actually afraid to like her. I cherished our friendship, but she left,”

“She left because of her unrequited feelings?”

Xi Men nodded. “She sees no point in continue hoping for something to happen,”

Juliana looked at him.

Xi Men suddenly smiled while looking to his cup of coffee, “I love the second one,”

Juliana studied his facial expression, as his smile stemmed from within.

“For once, in my life… I actually love someone,” he smiled.

She could feel his happiness in just mentioning her.

“She changed me. My playboy life ended because of her,” he said. “And she… is a very important person in my life,”

Juliana somehow felt heartbroken to hear this, that Xi Men is actually capable to love someone; not like what he had said about himself, it’s just that he actually had loved someone else – thus ‘not capable’ to love anyone other than this second woman.

“She is also the first person I told about the first woman,” Xi Men said. “Because I told her I am afraid to like the girl, so she taught me to be brave. She wants me to open up to love, because love is the greatest thing on earth,”

Juliana remained looking at Xi Men.

“I strangely listened to her. I really open myself up to love, and I love her,” he smiled contently. “But she left me,”

“Why? Why did she leave you?” Juliana asked.

“Although I bravely love her, I am not brave enough to tell her I love her. She didn’t know how I felt for her. When she leaves… I watch her go. And I let her go,” Xi Men said. “And I guess… that is the best thing for her. To live without me,”

“Where is she now? Will she come back to you?”

Xi Men shook. “No. She will not come back anymore,”

She pressed her lips together.

“Juliana, I love her so much that I had given her all my love; that is why I will never love you. I will never be able to love you. So stop pursuing me. Stop wasting your time on me. No matter what you do, it will never be fair for you,”

Juliana looked at Xi Men, and then she swallowed the lump in her throat.

“Xi Men,” she called.

He looked at her, waiting for her to speak.

“I… I will still stay with you,” Juliana said.

Xi Men felt helpless upon hearing that. “Juliana, please. NO. I have said it…”

“I do not want to topped her (from Xi Men’s heart). I have no intention to do that,” she said.

“Juliana…”

“Xi Men, I love you, that is why I want to be with you,”

“I said it is not fair for you!”

“If the woman comes back, I will leave,” Juliana interrupts.

Xi Men stares at Juliana.

“On my own. I will leave on my own,” Juliana said. “That will be the only reason for me to leave,”

Xi Men continues to stare at Juliana.

Juliana will not leave unless the second woman comes back? Since the woman will not come back, it means he is stuck with Juliana now?

“So you will not leave, no matter what,” Xi Men said.

“No, and I am staying because I love you. I just want to be with you and I will not leave you like your two significant women did,”

Xi Men exhaled his deep breath.

“I don’t need you to love me like how you did to them. I just want to be with you. Just let me stay next to you,” she looked at him.

*Flashback ended.

==========

“And so, I give in,” Xi Men said. “I just let her stay around. She never asked for anything from me,”

Lei, Mei Zhuo and Ah Si exchanged glances.

“We all know you don’t love Juliana, and we were wondering why you will go out with her. Now… I guess we have the clear picture,” Mei Zhuo said.

“So, it was Juliana forcing her way to be with you,” Ah Si said.

Xi Men nodded. “After dated for a year, our parents wanted us to get married. So we did. Just set a date and go for it. No proposal,”

“Yeah… I remember that,” Lei said.

“I actually… did try to talk Juliana out of marrying me…” Xi Men said.

==========

*Flashback (5 years ago).

Juliana opened the box where her bridal gown is in.

Her smile widened at the sight of her white gown.

Xi Men, whose hands are folded on his chest, leaned against the wall and watches her happily taking the white gown out from the box.

Juliana’s cousins who are there in the room with Juliana are excited and happy to see the gown.

Ivy, who is also in the room, walked towards Xi Men and says, “You know, you shouldn’t be here. You should see your bride in her wedding dress tomor…”

“Everyone of you, leave the room,” Xi Men said, looking straight into the room.

Everyone in the room turned their heads and looked at Xi Men.

“I want to talk to Juliana,”

The cousins exchanged gazes.

Juliana smiled. “Okay, everyone… go out. Go out,” she happily asks them to leave.

The cousins then chuckled.

“Right, he must be very excited…” one of the cousins said.

“Yes, I guess he can’t wait for tomorrow,” another cousin said.

Xi Men’s eyes strayed for a moment upon hearing that.

The cousins then leave the room, and the last one out closes the door.

Xi Men gazes at the closed door, before he walked towards Juliana who is holding onto her wedding gown.

“Nice, right?” Juliana asked, lifting the wedding dress up.

“You chose that design. If it is not nice then it is your problem,” he nonchalantly said.

Her smile fades. She exhaled her deep breath at the tone that he had just given her, and watches him sitting down on the chair in front of the dressing table. “Can’t you for once just compliment it?”

Xi Men looked at her. “I didn’t say it is not nice,”

She pressed her lips together. “Alright…” she softly said.

He looked at her, and upon seeing her reaction, “If it is nice to you, then it is a nice gown,” he said.

She looked at him, and then she smiled again. “Okay,”

He gazes at the dress, and then noticed the pair of white heels at the other side of the bed.

“Oh, you said you wanted to talk to me,”

Xi Men returned his gaze to her.

“What is it that you want to talk?” Juliana asked, looking at Xi Men. “Umm, did we leave something out or forget something? If we did, we need to hurry up. The wedding is tomorrow,”

Xi Men shook. “Not that I know. The wedding planner should have covered everything,”

“Oh,” Juliana said. “Umm… then? What is it that you want to talk to me?”

Xi Men looked at Juliana, not uttering a word.

“Hmmm?” Juliana finds it weird that he is keeping quiet instead.

Xi Men swallowed the lump in his throat, “Juliana, are you sure you want to marry me?”

Juliana is surprised to hear such question being asked at this moment, when the wedding is tomorrow. “Yes, Xi Men, yes…”

“Juliana, are you really sure about this?” he asked again.

“Why… why do you ask me about this right now?” Juliana asked.

“Because I want you to pull out from this wedding,” Xi Men said.

“Pull out from the wedding?” she asked, surprised.

“Yes. I have been waiting for you to tell me that you do not want to go ahead with this wedding. I hope you will pull out of this wedding; of this impending marriage,” Xi Men said. “Because you are not going to be happy,”

“Who… who said I am not going to be happy?” Juliana asked. “You?”

Xi Men looked at her. “Juliana… we both know…”

And she interrupted, “If you do not want this wedding to happen, then why do you agree to it at the first place?” she asked, partially furious.

He stares at her, as he recalled the day their parents asked them if they want to get married. Juliana happily says yes, and Xi Men responded with an insincere ‘OK’.

Xi Men looked at her, and without answering her why he agreed to it, “Juliana, don’t marry me. I will not give you happiness and the life you want,”

“I did not ask for anything from you,” Juliana said. “I’ve told you I just want to be with you. And as long as I am with you, I am happy. Because I like you, because I love you,”

Hearing it, Xi Men closed his eyes for a while, and after exhaling a deep, frustrating breath, he opened his eyes and looked at her, “Juliana, you know very well I don’t feel the same for you. Think about this. Have you been really, really happy for the whole year of dating me? Do you know things will NEVER change for better? What you get now is what you will get in the future,”

“Yes, I know. It is not about what you can give me, Xi Men. It is you that I want to be with,” Juliana said.

Xi Men looked at her, and exhaled his deep breath. “Please reconsider for your own sake,”

She shook her head. “I have no reason to reconsider,” Juliana said. “I won’t pull out from the wedding,”

He looked at her and after exhaling his deep breath, he stood up and walked.

Juliana looked at him leaving the room without uttering another word.

*Flashback ended.

==========

“She stays firm with her decision. She didn’t pull out from the wedding,” Xi Men uttered.

“Well, you could…” Ah Si murmured.

Mei Zhuo and Lei turned their heads to look at Ah Si.

Xi Men only smirked. “I choose to go, remember?” he said.

“Yes. That is why you are married now,” Mei Zhuo said.

Xi Men took a deep breath.

“Does Juliana know the ‘second woman’ is Xiao You?” Lei asked.

“No, she doesn’t know,” Xi Men replied. He then smirked, “If she knew, do you think they can sit down at the same table peacefully?”

“Ah… you are right,” Lei said, scratching his head.

Xi Men remains smirking, before it fades few seconds later, “I have never thought I will see Xiao You again in my life. I can’t believe it when I see her right in front of me,” he said, recalling that image in his mind.

“I remember you said that in the lavatory on that particular day, where you’ve gone to vent your frustration after she said you are just ‘Ah Si’s friend’,” Lei said.

Xi Men could only smirk at that. “As all of you know, after seeing Xiao You again… I am affected,” he lowered his head briefly. “A part of me is upset; seeing her in the arms of another man. But then again, that is a path I’ve picked, right?” he said. “By letting her go 12 years ago, it also means I have entrusted her happiness to someone else,”

Lei, Mei Zhuo and Ah Si just stared at Xi Men.

“Seeing her with Mark, I actually wished her happiness with him. I want her to be happy,” Xi Men said, and then suddenly he gritted his teeth, “But I did not give her away to a jerk that would cheat on her,” he glared at Lei, “Seeing Mark with Ivy makes me mad. I can’t accept that he cheats on Xiao You. So, I went straight to him with no loopholes for him to counter and to fight back. No matter what, he needs to leave her. He must leave her. I will not let someone like that to be with Xiao You,”

After hearing this whole story, Lei is no longer angry now for what Xi Men did, although he (Xi Men) is not supposed to do this, Lei understands that Xi Men is trying to protect Xiao You.

“So, what are you going to do with Xiao You now?” Mei Zhuo asked. “You’ve broken her marriage up. She is left torn right there… on her own now,”

Xi Men slowly turned his head to look at Mei Zhuo.

“She was sobbing on the phone call when she told Jing that Mark had divorced her,” Lei said.

Xi Men lowered his head down upon hearing Lei talked about Xiao You’s sadness. “I… I don’t know,” he said. “I guess… I’ll take care of her,”

“If that is the case, then we’ll take care of her,”

All of them turned to look at Lei.

“We’ll take care of her, together,” Lei said, looking at Xi Men.

“Together?” Xi Men asked.

Lei placed his hand on Xi Men’s shoulder and nodded. “All of us have families. Including you,” and then Lei tilts his head as he looked at Xi Men.

Xi Men’s eyes brightened up.

He understood the hint Lei is giving him.

Lei is plainly telling him that he (Xi Men) is married.

“So it is not wise to just have you to take care of her. We can do it together, and our wives,” Lei said. “We’ll make it work,”

Ah Si and Mei Zhuo nodded in agreement.

Xi Men took a deep breath, before he slowly lowered his head down.

“So…”

All of them turned to look at Ah Si, while Xi Men lifted his head up to look at Ah Si.

“What am I supposed to do with the management system now?” Ah Si asked.


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12 thoughts on “Conflicted – Chapter 24

  1. well life sucks! it’s all a matter of what they chose to do before that lead them up to this point. i hope Juliana would remember what she said with acceptance rather then become those typical 2nd female that goes evil type. she already have the chance to fight her battle when knowing chances are pretty close to zero.

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