Conflicted – Chapter 29

Xiao You sits on her bed in the master bedroom as she folds her shirt before she slowly puts it into her luggage.

As she pressed the shirt down with both of her hands into the luggage, she looked at the ring on her hand.

She stares at it for a while.

She doesn’t know what to feel now.

When Mark said he had divorced her, she couldn’t accept or understand why it happened.

As far as she knows, there is no problem between them.

She loves him.

He’s her husband.

Despite watching him leaving her and the apartment, she still hopes to see him walking back to her. She still wants to be with Mark.

And for that, she could not bring herself to remove the ring from her hand.

But now…

“Mark cheated on me,” she murmured sadly.

She finally could say that word out from her lips.

Cheat.

She still remembers the photographs that Xi Men had shown her; that Mark is holding someone else in his arms and behaving intimately with her.

At that moment, she felt her life crumbled.

The man that she called ‘her husband’, betrays her.

Xiao You closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

She understands now.

She knows why the divorce happened.

She knows how it happened too.

Xi Men, who had found out about the unfaithfulness, had taken the matter into his own hands and ordered Mark; her pillar of strength and her everything, to leave.

And if it wasn’t for Mark’s words; asking her to go to Xi Men for help, she wouldn’t find out about Xi Men’s involvement and the whole story.

If not for Mark’s words, she might probably still sitting there; pondering what kind of mistakes she has made for the marriage to fail.

Mark strays.

Xi Men steps in, citing he doesn’t want a cheater to be by Xiao You’s side.

Xiao You opened her eyes, and took a deep breath.

She does not agree with what Xi Men had done, but she definitely couldn’t take Mark’s side either.

There is no way she could select at a side and agree with what the party has done to her.

The entire situation hits her hard and she can’t accept whatever is happening.

The flow of this is ridiculously beyond acceptance.

Xiao You sighed.

She is not forcing herself to immediately accept whatever had happened, but she has decided to take a day at a time, since that seems to be the only option.

She still needs to keep living.

Keep going.

She is glad she could still managed to stay sane instead of going hysterical and possibly went crazy at how things had happened and turned out.

She sighed.

“The divorce had happened,” she murmured.

“Everything HAD happened,”

“There is nothing I can do,”

“I am now left with nothing,”

Absolutely nothing.

Whatever she had with Mark will only be memories.

She slowly lifts her head up.

She began looking around the room, scanning the things in the room that doesn’t belong to her (as this place is rented).

She looked at some of her things.

His things.

And then she looked at the things that she shares with Mark, knowing that she no longer shares it with him now.

Her eyes slowly returned to the ring in her hand.

Swallowing a lump in her throat, she hesitantly removes the ring from her finger.

It hurts to take the ring off, but knowing the marriage failed because Mark cheats on her with another woman… it somehow acts as an answer she has been wanting to know.

And it probably eases her a little in removing the ring from her finger.

She turned around and walked towards the dressing table, putting the ring down.

“Two years of beautiful marriage…” she murmured.

Sad.

BEEP.

Her eyes slowly traveled to the smartphone on the dresser.

She scoops the phone up and pressed the button.

New whatsapp message from Xi Men.

After she unlocked the phone, she reads the message that Xi Men had sent.

Xi Men: When you move out in two days, do let me know the time. I’ll come and get you.

Xiao You looked at it, and then she moodily pressed the reply button and typed.

Xiao You: It is okay. I can go on my own. You just need to pass me the name of the hotel I need to go.

She clicked onto the ‘send’ button.

BEEP.

A reply soon arrived.

Xi Men: I am providing transportation for you so that you don’t have to lug your luggage around. It is for your convenience. And you can bring more with my car than what you can carry with you. So do accept my offer.

Xiao You took a deep breath, and raised her head up.

“Why is he the one offering help during this critical time? Do I have to depend on him now?” Xiao You asked.

She paused, and then shook her head.

“No way… what is this that I am saying. I am an independent person. I don’t need to depend on anyone. I have never depended on anyone,”

“Well, maybe because I have been married to Mark and he let me rely on him as he is my husband…”

“But now I am single again, I shouldn’t depend on anyone else,”

“Especially Xi Men,”

RING.

Xiao You lowered her head to look at her phone in her hand.

Upon looking at the name of the caller, her eyes widened.

She swallowed the lump in her throat, as she slowly reached for the phone.

Looking at the ringing phone for a while, she pressed the ‘accept’ button and then puts it to her ear.

“Hello, mom…?”

**********

2 days later,

10.30am.

Xi Men sits in his Maserati which is parked outside of the apartment compound waiting for Xiao You.

He tilts his head to look at the apartment building from his driver seat.

He then glanced over to the time displayed on the car dashboard.

Sitting still there, he then straightened his head and looked straight to the road.

After blinking for a few times, he dives his hand into his pants to take his phone out.

**

Xiao You zips her luggage and lifted it up.

BEEP.

The notification sound from her phone leads her to puts the luggage down again.

She then takes her phone out from her handbag and looked at it.

Whatsapp message.

Xi Men: What time are you planning to move?

Xiao You exhaled a deep breath; partly in frustration as it is Xi Men, and then she types the message.

Xiao You: I am about to leave.

Right before she clicks to send the message, her eyes strayed.

And then she remembers…

She continued typing.

Xiao You: I am about to leave. Let me know where I should go. You have not told me the name of the hotel.

As soon as she sent the message, she already saw Xi Men typing, as showed and displayed by the application.

BEEP.

Xi Men: You should have told me the time you are leaving.

Xiao You exhaled her deep breath.

“You are saying I need to tell you the time I am leaving, then only you will tell me the place to go?” she uttered, looking at the chat (*she did not type this in).

BEEP.

Xi Men: Just come to the guardhouse of your apartment building.

Xiao You’s eyes brightened up, “Guardhouse?”

“He can’t be… right?”

**

Xi Men’s eyes have been fixed to the guardhouse where the guards are stationed at before one enters the apartment area, hoping to see the familiar face emerging from it.

He then gazes to the time on his car’s dashboard, and returned his focus to the guardhouse.

“She said she is about to leave. And after 10 minutes, she is not out yet. What is her definition of ‘about to leave’, huh?” Xi Men said, and then sighed. “Maybe I need to be more patient,”

Just as he folded his hands on his chest, he saw Xiao You wheeling her luggage out of from the compound/guardhouse.

Xi Men immediately unlocked the door (of the car) and gets down.

Seeing a parked Maserati near the guardhouse, she kinda figured that must be Xi Men, and right two seconds after, she watched the handsome dude gets down from it.

She looked straight at him, walking towards her.

“So, you are really here,” Xiao You deadpanned.

“Why are you trying to leave without telling me?” Xi Men asked, extending his hand to take her luggage from her.

“I really don’t need your help,” Xiao You said, watching him grabbing the handle of her luggage.

“Is this the only luggage you have?” Xi Men ignored her statement and asked his question instead.

“I have some more but I plan to take it another time…”

“Another time? You mean you still want to come back and take it?”

“Well… I know you said you can rent a storage place to keep my things but… I don’t want you to do that. I appreciate your kindness but I think that is not wise,”

“Not wise, so you prefer to keep them at your ex-husband’s place, where you were asked to leave?” Xi Men asked. “A place where you have to ask permission to come back in the future, and also, with tendency that you will never be able to enter to get your stuffs back; rather than a place where you can go in and out freely to keep and take your things?”

She looked at him, before she slowly lowered her head down, looking oppressed by his words.

He exhaled a deep breath.

“I have already obtained a place for you to keep that,” he said, nicely this time.

“Oh,”

“Yes. So you can go and get the rests. We can move them all at one shot,”

“Umm…”

“Go ahead,” he said.

She looked at him, pressing her lips.

“I’ll be here waiting,” he said.

“I…”

“Really, go,” Xi Men insisted.

“Actually…”

He interrupts, “Don’t ‘actually’, ‘I…’ and all; just go,” he said. “I won’t leave until you get everything, alright?”

“Listen to me,” Xiao You said. “Please,”

Xi Men looked at her.

“What’s left in the house are some excessive clothes, books and stuffs that are heavy,”

He looked at her, “So?” he then turned to look at his car. “Are you saying they can’t fit into my car? If not, I’ll call movers,”

Xiao You looked over to Xi Men’s car.

This guy is super rich. It is no surprise he would drive such car.

But it is odd for someone to drive such a car to come and help to move.

Would have been better to drive a more spacious car.

But it’s not like she has damn a lot of things here since her stay here is still quite… new.

“Yes, it’ll fit. But what I mean is…”

“Hmmm?”

“I can’t carry them on my own because they are too heavy for me. For ME,”

Xi Men looked at Xiao You.

*****

‘So that is the place Xiao You stays,’

‘Looks okay,’

‘Rent is indeed going to be high for Mark,’

Xiao You turned her head to look at Xi Men who is driving quietly to the hotel that he had booked for her.

She lowered her eyes briefly as she remembered seeing the fading bruise on Xi Men’s left cheek earlier when he helped to carry the boxes from the apartment.

She is sitting on his right, so she can’t see the bruise now.

“Umm…”

Xi Men glances at her. “Hmm?”

Seeing he turned his head to her direction, she saw the bruise now.

“I am sorry about your face,” she said.

“Face?” he asked, but seconds later he understood what she meant, “Oh,” he replied, and then looked straight to the road.

“Does… Juliana know?”

“It is pretty obvious on the face, right? It is impossible she didn’t see it,”

“Then… what did you tell her?” she guiltily asked.

“These few days… whenever I meet someone and they asked, I just said a random woman slapped me on the street,”

“Random?” she asked.

“Yeah,”

“And like, randomly slapped you?”

“Suspecting me as a pervert,” he had to add.

She stared at him. “Oh,” she said. “I… I am sorry you had to say that,”

“No other explanations are better than that,” he said.

“I am sorry,”

“Don’t worry about it,” he said, smiling briefly.

She nodded. “Okay…”

Silence.

She steals glances at him, finding the silence between them is awkward.

But then again, meeting him is also uncomfortable for her.

But it is not nice to sit in a car and not talking to each other, right? After all, he came to help her move her stuffs…

“You… umm… are not going to work today?” Xiao You asked, looking at him wearing a formal long sleeves light grey shirt, but without a tie.

“Going back to office at about 3pm. I have a meeting at 4pm,” Xi Men said.

“Oh,”

“Yeah,”

“Umm… thank… thank you for coming,”

Xi Men glances over to Xiao You and then smirks belatedly, “You don’t have to thank me. You didn’t ask me to come. I came on my own so I am not expecting any kind of gratitude from you,”

She pressed her lips together. “Actually, how do you know I will be leaving at 10.30am?”  she asked.

Xi Men turned his head to look at her, “Huh?” but quickly straightened his head to look at the road again.

“You are at the guardhouse at 10.30am,” she said.

“Oh, that. I have been waiting there since 8am,” he said.

She is surprised. “8am?”

“Because you didn’t tell me what time you are leaving. So I came at 8am,” he said.

“Then… you could have told me you have come… right? You don’t have to wait for me for 2.5 hours at the guardhouse…”

“I didn’t want to wake you up or disturb you if you are packing and rush you to complete your packing. I texted you at 10.30am because I did not see you leaving yet, thus I wanted to make sure you are at home and hadn’t left to somewhere else,” Xi Men said. “That would mean I have waited in vain for the 2.5 hours if you do,”

“But… didn’t I tell you… I don’t need your help? So I really didn’t expect you to come,”

“I insist because moving is easier with my assistance,” he said. “I have a car,”

She then turned her head to the back to look at few boxes containing her clothes, books and some of the things she brought with her from San Francisco.

When she moved to Taipei with Mark, she basically moved everything over.

Mark is pretty sure their move to Taipei will be permanent as he is very confident that his system will plant its root here, so both he and Xiao You moved their stuffs over from San Francisco.

“Thank you for helping me to move the boxes from the house,” she said. “I think I should thank you for that. I couldn’t do it on my own,”

“No problem,” Xi Men said. “It is indeed heavy as you have claimed,”

“Since we are moving these few boxes over… doesn’t that mean we have to move them again when I moved out of the hotel?”

Xi Men glances at the back mirror to look at the boxes at the back passenger seat. “Not a very big problem,”

“But troublesome,” she said.

He just smirked. “The furniture in that apartment is not yours, right?” Xi Men asked.

“No, they are landlord’s,” Xiao You said.

“Are there any other things that belong to you, but are still in the house and that you will need movers to come and move them?”

“Umm… no,” Xiao You said.

“Alright, so it seems that you have brought everything with you now,”

“Yes… everything is here with me, since you demanded me to bring everything…” she said. “I mean, I packed them just in case when I am going back to move in the future, but now…” she glances over to the backseat again.

Xi Men just smiled.

“Xi Men,”

“Hmm?”

“Does Juliana know about this?”

Xi Men turned his head to look at her, and two seconds later, he straightened his head to the front.

After seeing his reaction, she knew the answer.

“Then… this morning, when you leave… what did you told her?”

“She thought I was just leaving the mansion earlier for work. But she didn’t know I am not heading to the office,” he said.

She took a deep breath.

She looked straight to the road and then glances at the road signboards, when suddenly Xi Men makes a turning to the right at the busy junction.

“Xi Men, going to the town is heading straight, you’ve made a wrong turn,” she said, turning her head to look at Xi Men.

Xi Men gazes at the back mirror to look at the road and junction behind him, “No, I didn’t,”

“No? Where are we going?”


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