Conflicted – Chapter 37

“Amount to pay is TWD$355,”

Xi Men dives his hand into his pants’ pocket to take out his wallet as Secretary Xu took the tray containing two sets of burger, drink and fries; ready to look for a seat.

As Xi Men spreads the cash compartment in his wallet open, he is surprised to see it empty.

Completely empty.

His eyes strayed.

What the hell happened?

How is it possible for his wallet to be empty?

His mind went into overdrive mode as he wonders what happened to his cash.

Did someone steal his money?

But how come he still has his wallet if someone steals it?

Then who has the access to his wallet?

Juliana?

Did Juliana took the money?

But she does not do that…

‘Ah. Crap.’

He figured out finally.

‘I passed all the cash to Xiao You and I forgot to withdraw from the bank…’

He lifted his head up and looked at the cashier of the fast food chain, “Do you take credit card?”

Hearing that, Secretary Xu turned his head to look at Xi Men, and then to the cashier.

“Sorry, sir, our credit card machine is offline today due to network maintenance,” the cashier replied, and pointed to the machine in front of Xi Men.

He looked to where she pointed.

‘Credit Card Machine Offline.’

As his gaze is at the machine…

‘AHHHHHHH…. CRAP.’

He looked into his empty wallet again.

No cash.

Credit card not accepted.

Secretary Xu takes a glimpse and saw the empty compartment in Xi Men’s wallet.

Something must have gone wrong somewhere, as Xi Men has NEVER gone out of cash; or in another words, Xi Men doesn’t go anywhere without cash.

“Sir, I have cash,” Secretary Xu quickly said.

Xi Men turned his head to look at Secretary Xu.

“Let me pay first,” Secretary Xu said, putting the tray down.

“Thanks,” Xi Men said, quickly stuffing the wallet back into his pants’ pocket. “Will pay you back after I’ve withdraw money,”

“No worries, sir,” Secretary Xu smiled as he retrieved his wallet now.

And Xi Men lowered his head down and takes up the tray of food.

He felt he is being demoted; Secretary Xu is the boss today and he… is the secretary.

**********

The last time she met Juliana, she is the one asking Juliana to buy things to make her (Juliana) happy and as a form of motivation to Juliana.

This time, Juliana is the one encouraging her to buy things to cheer her up because of her divorce from Mark.

And it is horrible.

Almost everything that Xiao You sees, Juliana will encourage her to buy; not knowing if Xiao You actually liked the item.

Maybe that is how Juliana defines her happiness.

When she is unhappy, she’ll buy things and will be happy about it.

Perhaps, she is trying to rub this trait on Xiao You.

But to Xiao You, spending another dollar unnecessarily is making her upset instead.

Juliana does not know about Xiao You’s financial status.

When she came here with Mark, she lives solely on savings and supported Mark mentally & emotionally; and trusted Mark’s ability to secure projects and plant Liu Management’s base here.

He assures her that as long as he gets projects, their financial situation will improve.

Of course, she didn’t get to see that day coming.

They’ve divorced.

Now that she has divorced from Mark, she is now on her own.

She has a little in her savings, enough to support herself momentarily, maybe for few months.

But not if she has to buy every single damn thing Juliana persuades her to buy.

Thank goodness Xiao You is good at self-control.

She finds very valid reasons to say no to almost each of Juliana’s persuasion, though she succumbed and purchased a shirt, a pair of earring, a pair of flats… thinking that’s going to stop Juliana from continuing with her excessive support.

But it never did.

Juliana continues to encourage her to buy things to ‘make her happy’.

At this rate, buying things is never going to make her happy but this is making her stressed instead.

Juliana is seriously contributing more stress to her already stressful life.

And although she hated the idea this morning, right now, Xiao You is thankful for Xi Men’s extended assistance of TWD$50,000 as her backup.

He dropped by to the penthouse on his way to work this morning just to pass her the cash.

Should probably use the word ‘crash’ instead of drop by…

Anyway…

Her initial plan was not to use his money at all, but Juliana’s insistence makes things worse.

In the end, she gave in and used just a small fragment of it.

He is right.

If she did not plan to buy things, then she has to resort to talk with Juliana for the rest of the shopping hours.

At least, with money in hand, she can instead, talk about (shopping) materials with Juliana and probably buys it, which she does.

As an example, she spent 20 minutes just to decide on the design and color of the pair of shoes.

Those 20 minutes are spent talking about that particular pair of shoes, rather than about Xiao You’s life.

But still, it is really, really stressful to go shopping with Juliana.

And now, Xiao You is only waiting for their shopping hours to end.

“Hmm…”

Xiao You turned her head to the right and looked at Juliana.

“Xiao You, I need to go to the bathroom for a while…” Juliana said, pressing her hand on her tummy. “It must be the lunch just now…”

“Oh? But… I am okay…”

“I don’t think it’s the food but the ice blended smoothie,”

“Oh,” Xiao You responded. She didn’t have a comment for that as she didn’t take any smoothie earlier.

“Urgh, shouldn’t have ordered it but due to temptation…” Juliana said.

Xiao You smiled. “Alright, alright. Don’t talk anymore and go now,”

“Alright, alright. Sorry about that, be right back, okay?” Juliana smiled.

“No worries. Take your time,” Xiao You smiled.

“Okay,” Juliana uttered and then hurriedly walked away, looking for lavatory.

Xiao You looked at Juliana walking away.

And she took a deep breath.

Now that she is alone, she felt relaxed.

Freedom.

“Can’t believe I will feel great without her around,” Xiao You smirked. “Ahhh…” she exhaled her deep breath again.

It looks like she’ll be alone for a while.

Now, she can see whatever she wants to see without someone urging her to buy.

She looked around in the mall, and looked at the entrance of the store next to where she stands.

Hardware store.

“Hardware…” she tilts her head.

She isn’t exactly interested with hardware store.

People mostly get into the store with intention to buy something to fix or beautify their home.

“Hmmm… let’s see what I can buy for the penthouse. I may need it…” she mumbled and she walked into the hardware store.

It is a rare sight.

The cashiers at the entrance looked at Xiao You entering the store.

They must be wondering if she actually entered the wrong place.

There are no clothes or shoes here.

And Xiao You does not look tad a little like someone who would fix something in her house.

She looked delicate and gentle – too ‘soft’ to be clarified as someone that would fix something in the house.

Holding onto her handbag and her bags of purchases, she looked around the hardware store.

Step after step after step.

*Stopped.

She looked at the items on display.

“Thankfully I enter this store,” she murmured.

“Now, this is exactly WHAT I want to buy,”

“Thank you for the TWD$50,000 you passed to me this morning, Xi Men,” a smug appears on her face.

***

Juliana hurriedly walked to Xiao You who is sitting on the bench near the lavatory. “Xiao You, sorry about that,” she apologizes.

“No worries about that,” Xiao You smiled.

“Why don’t you go and see stuffs? I can look for you after I am done,” Juliana said.

“I did. But I am done so…”

“Oh, what did you see?” Juliana asked. “Buy anything?”

Now… this is going to be weird.

Buying something from a hardware store, to fix… ‘Lei’s’ house?

“Nah. I didn’t buy anything. I mean, I didn’t enter any store. I just walked at the outside…” Xiao You said.

“Oh, alright then, shall we continue?” Juliana asked.

Continue?

Walking around again?

Being persuaded to buy things again?

Spend money again?

Xiao You plasters a smile on her face, “Umm… you are not tired…?”

“Oh! Are you tired? Should we go for massage session instead?” Juliana asked.

Taken aback, “Massage?” Xiao You asked.

Massage is equivalent to spending money, right?

“No, no…” Xiao You uttered.

“You said you are tired right? So it must be your foot that’s tired. Foot massage is good to relief tired feet,” Juliana said. “Have you tried that?”

“Errr…”

“You should try that! It is awesome,” Juliana said. “Let’s go! Let’s go!” and she pulled Xiao You’s arm.

***

And that eats into Xi Men’s TWD$50,000.

Not much.

Just TWD$2000.

But still!

URGH.

But on a bright side, it is good.

The massage is good.

As said by Juliana, it did relief that tiredness from the foot.

Xiao You lifted her head up.

It’s only 3pm.

She still has at least 2 to 3 hours to put up with.

She gazes at Juliana standing next to her, checking out a skirt.

She then straightened her head and looked at the shirt in front of her.

‘Should I tell her I wanna go home?’

‘Gosh…’

“Xiao You,”

Xiao You turned her head to look at Juliana, “Hmmm?”

“If you don’t mind me asking… what are your plans now?” Juliana asked.

Xiao You tilts her head and looked at Juliana, “Plans? What plans?”

“I mean, you have divorced from Mark now…”

Xiao You straightened her head. “Oh,” she said. “I don’t know yet,”

“Since you came from San Francisco… do you have plans to go back?” Juliana asked.

“I do,” Xiao You uttered.

“You do?” Juliana is taken aback with that answer.

“I have always have plans for that. But… I don’t know yet,” Xiao You said. “Because… I have nothing there. If I were to go back, I have to start all over again,”

Juliana looked at her.

“And basically, with my current condition… there is no difference where I go and where I stay. I have to start all over again anyway,” Xiao You said.

“What about your family members? Parents? Siblings? Where are they?” Juliana asked.

“My parents are currently travelling around the world,” Xiao You smiled briefly. “And I don’t have siblings. I am the only child,”

“Oh,” Juliana said. “So… that is why you said there’s no difference no matter where you go,”

“Yeah,” Xiao You said. “After I’ve gotten married, my parents decided to go and see the world, and since there is no need for a house, they sell it off, and will come and stay with me when they come or something. So, I don’t have a house, or a home to go back to anyway if I were to go back to San Francisco,”

“If that is the case, why not stay back and start all over here? You have us,” Juliana smiled.

Xiao You looked at Juliana.

“And we have just become friends, and I don’t want you to leave,” Juliana said.

“Umm…”

“All of us will help you to build your life again. I am sure. I can ask Xi Men to extend his assistance to you too,”

‘That is something I don’t want, Juliana…’ Xiao You thought to herself.

“Mark and I split here in Taiwan,” Xiao You uttered instead. “This place… it reminds me of sadness,”

“But…” Juliana didn’t know what to say.

“Juliana,” Xiao You called.

Juliana looked at Xiao You, waiting for her to speak.

“I have just divorced from Mark not too long ago. I am still grieving at the loss. I haven’t thought about my future plans,” Xiao You said.

Juliana pressed her lips together.

“So, I don’t want to talk about it. Even if I do… I have no answers for you. I may stay back. I may leave. I don’t know yet,” Xiao You said.

“Alright…” Juliana said.

Xiao You only smiled briefly.

“Actually… if you don’t mind me asking…”

Xiao You looked at Juliana again.

“I don’t know why you and Mark divorced,” Juliana said.

Xiao You looked at Juliana, and she (Xiao You) could feel her hot blood running in her body.

Juliana had asked the question.

And as Lei, Jing and Xi Men had said; Juliana knows nothing.

“I thought both of you are good…” Juliana said.

“Things… turn sour,” Xiao You replied.

“But… it is a marriage. Not a plain boyfriend girlfriend relationship where you can just say you wanted an end and walked off…” Juliana said.

Apparently that’s what Xi Men had made her (Xiao You) relationship with Mark (turned) into.

“Marriage is just a relationship… with official documents,” Xiao You answered.

‘I can’t believe I said that…’ Xiao You thought to herself.

“But you are right too…” Juliana oddly agrees with what Xiao You has just said.

Xiao You bites her lower lip.

“It… just turned sour?” Juliana asked.

“Yeah,” Xiao You answered shortly.

“Oh…”

Xiao You clenched her teeth, tight.

“But… it sounded… fast. I mean… it is not separation and then divorce papers should come later, but… I thought your relationship is going well all along… and I didn’t know the divorce procedures have been going on at the back…” Juliana said.

This timeline thingy kills.

What Juliana describes is the normal divorce proceedings.

But what she (Xiao You) has is not the normal procedures.

If only she can just tell Juliana what the hell happened.

And now…

How to get out from this?

How to answer this?

Wow.

She really minds Juliana asking this question.

Xiao You only straightened her head, and then took a deep breath.

“Hey there,”

Juliana and Xiao You turned their heads to look at a woman suddenly appeared next to Juliana.

Xiao You doesn’t recognize her.

But since she (the woman) is looking at Juliana, it probably means she’s Juliana’s friend.

Okay, this may be the good distraction Xiao You needed to get out of this ‘what-happened-to-your-marriage-and-why-are-you-divorced-so-quickly’ question.

But then… this woman…

She looks familiar.

‘Have I seen her somewhere before?’ Xiao You thought to herself.

A smile appears on Juliana’s face. “Oh hey Ivy,”

Xiao You’s eyes brightened up.

Ivy?

Xiao You’s gaze darted to the woman standing next to Juliana.

This is Ivy?

Juliana’s cousin sister?

Of course she has seen Ivy’s face.

On those photos that Xi Men has shown to her!

“Didn’t know you are going out for shopping today, Juliana,” Ivy smiled.

“I am different. I am not working so I can go out anytime. And why aren’t you at work?” Juliana asked.

“Boyfriend says wanna meet up. So I took a day off,” Ivy continue to smile.

Boyfriend?

“Oh, is he here?” Juliana asked.

“Yes, he is,” Ivy said.

He is?!

The boyfriend is here?!


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6 thoughts on “Conflicted – Chapter 37

  1. oh no… is Mark here ?
    What would happen if Juliana saw Ivy boyfriend is Mark,
    I pity XY, if Juliana non stop asking question
    I think XY go to hardware shop to buy door lock…. so XM can’t enter her room

  2. wow….did ivy with mark?
    mmm…must wait next chap..??
    juliana have to much question about the divorce….oh woman…..she don’t know that make xy sad….

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