Sitting at the patio of the mansion, Xi Men brought the cigarette in between his fingers to his lips for a puff.
“Xi Men, it’s your turn to shower!”
Xi Men turned his head to look into the mansion, looking at Juliana standing at the door to the patio, “Okay, let me finish this first,” he responded to Juliana, and referring ‘this’ as the cigarette in his hand.
“Alright,” Juliana then turned around and walked inside.
He straightened his head, and then looked at the cigarette in his hand.
Still halfway to go.
He casually lifted his head up and looked away.
Far and away.
The whole conversation at the dinner plays in his mind.
“Tomorrow. 10am,” he murmured, and then brings the cigarette to his lips again.
Suddenly, his eyes brightened up.
*Keys inserted into the keyhole.
Xi Men pushed the door and entered.
Standing at the living room, he looked around the quiet house, and then lifted his hand up and looked at the time on his wristwatch.
He looked to the corridor and now he walked towards it.
All the doors of the rooms are closed.
Which room is it?
He opened the first door on the right side of the corridor.
He closes the door and now opened the first door on the left.
So this is the room he is looking for.
He stood at the door and called, “Xiao You,”
After looking at her for a while, he swallowed the lump in his throat.
“Xiao You,” he called again as he stared at her sprawled on the bed.
Ah. There is movement this time.
But she just rolls over to the other side…
And continued sleeping.
“Gosh,” he uttered and he walked into the room and stood next to the bed, with her back facing him. “Yang Xiao You,” he called again.
Xiao You lifted her head up slightly.
Her eyes opened briefly, but soon squinted.
Her squinted eyes then blinked.
Her squinted eyes widened upon hearing the voice that came from the back.
Her sleepiness is now gone and she is wide awake.
She immediately turned around and looked at the smartly clad Xi Men standing next to her bed.
“AHHHHH!!!!!” she screams at the sight of Xi Men, and then grabbed the blanket to cover up to her chest.
Xi Men rolled his eyes. “Thank goodness this penthouse is soundproofed,” he said. “Xiao You, it is me,”
It is not that she doesn’t recognize him.
It’s just that… someone is in her place while she is asleep!
“How do you enter this place?!” she yelled at him.
“I have the key to this place. I’ve told you, remember?” he asked.
“That does not mean you can come in here anytime you want! I stay alone! Do you know how freaking scary it is to open my eyes and see someone else in my room?!” she grabbed the pillow and threw it at him.
After the pillow slammed onto his chest, he caught it before it drops down to the floor.
“And for goodness sake I am a woman! How can you enter my room like this?!” she yelled again, still covering herself with the blanket up to her chest.
“It is not like I am doing anything to you,” Xi Men said.
“It is not about you will or will not do anything to me but this is a violation! Although this is your house, THIS room is MY room and you need to understand that! At the end of the day, I am a female and you need to respect me!”
He could see she is really pissed and unhappy.
Xi Men lowered his gaze, “Alright. I am sorry about this. I drop by before I go to work so I am rushing, that is why…”
“Rushing doesn’t give you the privilege to violate my space!” Xiao You yelled.
He dropped the pillow on the bed, and then heads to the door, gets out and closed the door.
Xiao You frowned.
“Xiao You, can I come in?”
Xiao You rolled her eyes. “What?”
He opened the door and entered her room.
She is still pissed, but calmer now.
Watching him enters her room, she noted his attire now; black lean tie and suit, ready for work.
It is not that she didn’t notice it earlier; it’s just that she was too furious thus whatever he wears does not register in her mind.
And then she continued to hold onto the blanket and cover her body.
“Why do you come over?” she asked.
Xi Men dives his hand into his pants’ pocket and takes out his wallet.
Xiao You frowned.
“Since you are going for shopping with Juliana later, you need money,” he takes out a credit card from his wallet.
Her eyes widened at the piece of plastic card in his hand.
“Take it,” he said, extended the credit card to her.
“No, no… I don’t want,” she shook.
“Take it, Xiao You. You are not working. How are you going to shop if you have nothing in your bank account?” he asked, grabbing her hand that is grabbing the blanket.
She pulled back, “No way! Are you insane? How can I take your credit card!”
He puts his left knee on the bed now as he gets closer to Xiao You, “Xiao You… you need this! Even if you are not buying anything, you need money even for backup! What about the meals or coffee?” Xi Men reached for her hand again. “Just take…”
“I am not up to the state of penniless yet, Xi Men!” she said. “And of everything, your credit card with your name? That’s your wife I am going out with!”
Xi Men paused.
“Have you momentarily forgotten that you are married or something?” Xiao You asked.
He slowly removed his knee from the bed and stands up straight, and quietly takes his wallet out again; and puts the credit card back into the wallet.
Instead, now, he takes out a stack of cash.
“Here,” he said, extended the cash to her this time.
She rolled her eyes and then runs her hands over her hair, “Xi Men, I don’t need your money,”
“No names (*Xi Men meant his name is not printed on the notes). You are safe. Buy what you want. Splurge all you need,” he said, urging her to take the cash.
“I said I don’t want your money,” she said. “I can still support myself. Buying a few things is not a problem for me,” she adds. “And please don’t treat me like your other woman,”
“I don’t have to treat you like other woman to take care of you,” he lands his left knee on the bed again and reached for her hand that is gripping onto the blanket.
He grabbed her wrist this time, resulting in pulling the blanket along since the blanket is in her grip.
As the blanket has been pulled off from her, it causes a brief panic in Xiao You as she quickly retracted her hand from Xi Men’s grip on her wrist, trying to get herself covered up.
He looked at her, knowing exactly what she is doing.
“Take the money,” he said.
“I said I don’t want your money,” she said. “And I am still good on my own,”
“That is Juliana you are going out with,” he said.
She looked at him.
“She loves shopping and she’ll buy things. How on earth can you go shopping with her and not buying anything?” he asked. “In order to not spend your money, do you plan to talk to her from the moment you meet her until the time you both leave for home? Do you have that much to talk about?”
She remained looking at him.
“So, why not occupy the time by talking about clothes, shoes or jewelries than about each other’s life,” he spots the loosened hand (from gripping the blanket) and grabbed the hand.
He then turned it (the hand) over, and chucks the stack of cash into her hand.
She looked at the cash in her hand.
“As a reminder,” he said. “Juliana does not know anything about you. She doesn’t know Mark is involved with Ivy. She didn’t know I make the divorce happened. She didn’t know about this house. Be very neutral in your conversation. And don’t feed her too much information,”
She slowly lifted her head up and looked at him.
“Enjoy your shopping,” he said, pushing himself to stand up now.
“I’ll pay you back,” she said.
“You don’t have to. I have plenty of that (*money),” he said.
She pressed her lips together.
“Let me know if you could not cope with Juliana’s shopping addiction. I’ll…” he paused. “You don’t have a bank account here,” he murmured.
She looked at him.
“Don’t worry. I’ll find a way to get someone to pass you extra cash,” he said.
“This is a lot,” she said, referring to the stack of cash in her hand.
“I hope it is enough,” he said.
“To be honest, I went out with Juliana once. She isn’t a shopaholic the way you thought she is,” she said.
“I know. But she will never fail to buy something. And buy things for me that I don’t like at all,”
She pressed her lips together.
“Other than the tie,” he adds.
She lifted her gaze up to look at him, and he is looking back at her.
Of course she knows what tie he is talking about.
The tie that she told Juliana to buy the last time they met, hoping Xi Men will like it.
And she caught him wearing it frequently.
“Anyway,” he said. “I am late for work. I have to leave now,”
She nodded. “Okay…”
“Be careful when you are out there,” he gazes at her.
“I will, thank you,” she said, looking at him turning around and walked towards the door.
She lowered her head down and looked at the cash in her hand; her other hand which is holding the blanket slowly relaxes.
As soon as Xi Men walked out from the room, he stopped and turned around to look into the room, and looked at Xiao You, who is sitting on the bed, staring at the cash in her hand.
From the corner of her eyes, she noted he had stopped walking and turned around to look at her.
She immediately lifted her head up to look at him and quickly holds the blanket tightly to make sure she is covered.
Xi Men smirks as he stuffs his right hand into his pants’ pocket.
“Anything else?” she asked.
He shook. “I just wanted to see you one more time before I leave,”
She could only look at him, unsure how to respond to that.
“You know that thing you are doing,” he said.
“Thing? What thing?” she asked.
“The blanket,” he said.
Her eyes strayed, her grip on the blanket tightened.
“I know what you are doing,” he said. “Don’t make it look like I have never seen it before,”
She swallowed the lump in her throat.
“Just so you know,” he smirked.
She looked at him again.
“I already saw it before you are awake,” he said.
Her eyes brightened slightly.
“Yeah, when you are lying on the bed, sprawled,” he smirked.
She is embarrassed now.
“Besides, you are not the only person sleeping without bra,” he said.
“Excuse me,” she said, ultimately displeased with that.
He smirked. “See you around,” he straightened his head and then he walked.
“Stop coming into my house like that!” she yelled from her bed as he disappears from her sight.
Although she cannot see him anymore, she can still hear him walking down the corridor, and getting far away – indicating he is walking towards the main door.
And then she heard him opening the door.
And the door closed.
She took a deep breath and then exhaled it frustratingly. “This dude. URGH!”
Xiao You looked at the pretty dress in front of her.
She extends her hand and casually touches the dress, wanting to know the feel of the fabric.
“That’s a very nice dress,”
Xiao You turned her head and looked at Juliana smiling next to her. “Yes, I know,” Xiao You smiled.
“Buy it,” Juliana smiled.
“I don’t have a need for the dress,” Xiao You replied with a smile.
“Why? I mean, do you have to have a reason to buy a dress?” Juliana asked.
“I have lots of clothes to wear, Juliana,” Xiao You smiled. “What’s the point of buying so many more and have it chucked inside the wardrobe?”
“That is why you wear it when you feel like it,” Juliana said, reaching for the dress.
“I don’t dress up at home. And it is not like I go out all the time,”
“Then we can go out everyday,” Juliana said.
Xiao You looked at Juliana.
Number 1. Will they have that many topics to talk about?
Number 2. Shopping everyday?
That’s going to dry up Xiao You’s bank account.
She (Xiao You) suddenly felt sorry for Xi Men.
Juliana, his not-working wife, is spending HIS money.
And this same guy is giving money to Xiao You so that she has money to spend when she goes out with Juliana, because the only way to NOT talk to Juliana is to shop.
One guy. Two women.
One woman. Just one. His wife.
And she is just…
There is no way she can go out with Juliana everyday.
She is trying to avoid Juliana anyway.
“I can’t go out everyday, Juliana. I have things to do too, you know,” Xiao You said, grabbing the dress by the clothes hanger and returned it back to the rack.
“Things to do? Such as?” Juliana asked.
Xiao You is taken aback with that question.
“Because I know you are not working. But I want to know what you can do to occupy your time, so that I can get the same idea and do it too… since I am bored,” Juliana said.
Juliana waited for Xiao You’s respond.
“Clean. Clean the house,” Xiao You said awkwardly, with a smile.
Juliana’s facial expression changed. “Oh,”
“Yeah. Plenty to clean. House is pretty big,” Xiao You said.
“Oh. Okay…” Juliana said in despair.
It is not like she can do the same.
There are maids in Xi Men’s mansion.
“Oh, by the way,” Juliana suddenly smiled.
“Hmmm?” Xiao You looked at her.
“Remember the tie you told me to buy for Xi Men a while back?” Juliana asked. “I think Xi Men likes it. He wears it once in a while,”
“She will never fail to buy something. And buy things for me that I don’t like at all,” Xi Men said. “Other than the tie,”
Xiao You smiled at Juliana, “Oh, really?”
“Yes. So I am happy,” Juliana smiled.
“That’s good,” Xiao You smiled.
Juliana smiled widely at that thought. She then looked at a dress in front of her.
“You know, Xi Men looks happier recently,”
Xiao You’s smile fades slightly. “Huh?”
Juliana nodded as she casually looked at the design of the dress. “That is what I feel. He smiled a bit more than he has ever been,”
Xiao You’s eyes strayed.
“I feel he sleeps better at night too,” Juliana said.
“But I think that is a good thing,” Juliana smiled, turning her head to look at Xiao You.
Xiao You returned her smile. “That’s good,”
“Yeah…” Juliana said. “But I feel there are times that he is stressful too…”
Xiao You just looked at Juliana. “I wonder if that is a good thing or a bad thing…”
“I don’t know too. He seems to be really stressful about work. There are times he smoked the entire pack of cigarette in one night,”
“Entire pack?” Xiao You is surprised.
“Yes,” Juliana said. “So… his mood nowadays is either super stress, or happy,” she adds. “So I like it best when he is happy. I am happy when he is happy,”
Xiao You smiled briefly. “That’s good,”
Juliana nodded as she moved along to look at another dress.
Since he is happy…
Xiao You is suddenly curious.
“How is your… umm…” Xiao You paused.
Ah. Probably shouldn’t ask.
“Hmm?” Juliana lifted her head up to look at Xiao You.
“Nothing,” Xiao You smiled.
“What is it?” Juliana asked. “Please ask, please ask,”
Urgh. No way to stop now.
“I mean… intimacy with… him?” Xiao You asked.
Juliana is taken aback with the question. “Oh,”
“I mean, any improvement compare to the time you told me back then?” Xiao You finds it awkward to ask that question too. “Since… you said he is happier…”
Juliana thinks for a while. “Hmmm… we haven’t had any,”
Xiao You looked at Juliana. “None?”
Juliana shook. “Not since the last time I talked to you about it. I don’t initiate because he doesn’t like me doing that, so… I wait for him instead. But you know it is normal between us,” she then smiled at Xiao You.
“Oh,” Xiao You said, and then she bites her lower lip, and then raised her hand up to scratch the back of her neck.