Conflicted – Chapter 38

“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.

Xiao You’s eyes widened upon hearing that.

He is?!

The boyfriend is here?!

Heart attack!

HEART ATTACK!

Xiao You unknowingly had her breathing shortened and quickened at the anxiousness.

She is petrified that Mark is here.

She swallowed the lump in her throat.

But…

‘Why should I feel like that?’ she asked herself.

‘I didn’t do anything wrong.’

‘He cheats on me with her…’

‘So… why should I feel scared or worried to see him?’

‘He should be the one to be petrified upon seeing me!’

‘But… I need to pretend that I didn’t know about him cheating on me… right?’

Despite trying to reason with herself, she couldn’t calm herself.

Still nervous.

Still anxious.

‘Wait. How is the situation again?’

‘According to what Xi Men has said…’

‘Mark thought I didn’t know he cheats on me,’

‘Juliana does not know Mark cheats on me,’

‘Juliana also does not know Ivy is the person that he cheats on me with,’

“He is making a payment over there at the cashier counter,” Ivy said, interrupting Xiao You’s thought.

Cashier counter.

So he is really, really nearby!

Upon hearing that, Xiao You finds herself froze at that angle.

Should she turn to look?

Or…

“Ah, your friend?” Ivy looked at Xiao You.

Xiao You looked at Ivy too.

‘Ivy didn’t know I am Mark’s…’

Juliana turned her head around to look at Xiao You, “Ah yes, she is…” as Juliana is introducing Xiao You to Ivy…

“Hi,” Xiao You quickly interrupts and smiled.

For some reason, she didn’t want to get her name told to Ivy.

Ivy smiled back at Xiao You. “Hi,”

“Babe, I’ve made payment,”

Ivy and Juliana turned their heads.

And hearing someone talks, Xiao You also automatically turned her head.

Ivy smiled, and then hooks her hand into his arm.

Juliana smiled at him.

Xiao You’s eyes widened.

This…

… is not Mark.

THIS IS NOT MARK!

“Hi,” the guy said at Juliana and Xiao You, and then turned to look at Ivy. “Your friends?”

“Just stumbled on them. This is my cousin, Juliana,” Ivy introduces. “And that’s Juliana’s shopping friend,” she pointed at Xiao You.

“Oh,” the guy responded.

“This is Randy Lee,” Ivy smiled as she introduced him to Juliana.

“Oh, hi, Randy,” Juliana smiled.

“Hi,” he smiled and then he looked at Ivy, “Why not you stay here and talk with them while I go to the lavatory?”

“Sure. I’ll be here,” Ivy smiled.

Randy gives a peck to Ivy’s cheek.

“Excuse me, ladies,” Randy said, giving a small bow to Juliana and Xiao You before he leaves.

Ivy and Juliana watched Randy walked away.

‘This is not Mark…’ Xiao You is still thinking about it, ‘How come…?’

‘Did Xi Men lied to me?!’

‘But…’

‘There’s proof…’

‘I…’

“So, tell me about him,” Juliana smiled, and that instantly interrupts Xiao You’s thought.

“Oh. His father owns a chain of clinics in the whole of Taiwan,” Ivy smiled.

“Chain of clinics?” Juliana asked, and then turned her head to look at Randy’s back as he walked.

“Yes,” Ivy confirmed.

“This is not the guy you told me about a while ago,” Juliana said.

Ivy looked at Juliana, “A while ago?”

That also prompted Xiao You to look at Juliana.

“Hmmm… probably more than a month ago. You told me over the phone. You said he is nice and owns a big company,” Juliana said.

“A month ago?” Ivy frowned as she repeats after Juliana.

Xiao You’s eyes strayed.

‘Is she talking about Mark?’

‘Does… does she know it is Mark?’

‘But…’

‘If she knew… then this situation is even more complicated…’

The frown on Ivy’s face fades suddenly, “Oh. THAT guy,” she uttered.

For some reason, there is hatred in that tone of hers’.

“Yes, that guy is nice. But he is a fraud!” Ivy suddenly gets mad.

‘Fraud?’ Xiao You thought to herself.

‘Why did she say that?’

“Fraud?” Juliana asked.

“He…” Ivy paused as she gazes at Xiao You.

Upon noting Ivy is looking at her from the corner of her (Xiao You) eyes, Xiao You lifted her head up and looked at Ivy.

“She’s my friend. It’s okay,” Juliana said to Ivy and then smiled at Xiao You.

Xiao You gives Ivy a small nod with the briefest smile on her face before turning her head and body slightly to the other way.

Seeing that body language from Xiao You, Ivy knew that Xiao You understands that this conversation is only between her (Ivy) and Juliana.

But what she didn’t know is, Xiao You’s ears are still listening.

Ivy returned her gaze to Juliana, “That guy,” she folded her hands on her chest, “He told me he is married, but he has problems with his wife and will divorce her soon. But he said although their relationship is problematic, he cannot let the wife know about us, because that’s going to give his wife evidences to fight in court during their divorce proceedings and take everything he has away from him,”

‘Maybe she isn’t talking about Mark,’ and Xiao You straightened her gaze and looked away.

“Okay… then?” Juliana asked.

“He lied. HE.F*CKING.LIED,” Ivy pronounced each of the words distinctly. “You know what type of relationship I am looking for and what I wanted out of it. I may have been with someone who’s married but that’s because he is going to be divorced soon. But THIS guy, apparently he has been treating me as some kind of mistress or underground girlfriend WHICH is a position that I have never ever wanted to be! And not only that; he actually has no problem with his wife, no plans or intention to divorce; and he is just going out and flirts around for fun!”

Xiao You’s eyes strayed.

“You know that’s something you have to expect that could happen when you are with someone that has a wife. But I thought you checked someone’s background before you go out with him,” Juliana said.

“He said he had just moved to Taiwan and is still very new to this place. There’s no background check available for me even if I want to, because he is new and he has no prior history of businesses here. Since he attended corporate meetings and conferences, I really believe him. Oh, mentioning of that, remember I said he told me he owns a company? He said he is earning damn well like a million in a week but it turns out his company is on the verge of bankruptcy with zero dollar coming to his company’s account every week,” Ivy said.

Xiao You’s eyes strayed again.

‘Verge of bankruptcy,’

‘That’s Mark,’

“Oh?” Juliana asked. “Wow, everything is a lie,”

“Yes!” Ivy said. “This is the only guy I have ever trusted based on what he said and I totally regretted it! And you know what? I’ll never get myself involved with another married man again. If another guy says he has issues with his wife, then divorced first before he comes and be with me,”

Juliana nodded briefly. “So… that is why you ditched him,”

“I did not ditch him. No. He ditch…. No. He wants to end this and I did not want to continue with him either, after all the lies,” Ivy uttered, and then exhaled her deep breath. “I got so frustrated and mad about this, I went for a 3-day cruise holiday after that,”

“Oh? You went on a cruise?”

“Yes, slightly more than 2 weeks ago,” Ivy said. “That’s how I met Randy,”

“Ahh… on the cruise?”

“Yes,” Ivy smiled at the thought of meeting her new boyfriend, and soon her smile fades, “I have never been treated like this before. That b*stard really fooled me,”

“At least you are not with him anymore,” Juliana said.

“Yeah,”

“But how did you found out about his lies? You said you can’t do a background check…”

“He told me,”

“He told you?” Juliana asked.

“Yes. About 3 to 4 weeks ago, we…” Ivy paused, and then she swallowed the lump in her throat.

“Hmmm?” Juliana looked at her.

“Xi Men saw us,” Ivy said, lowering her eyes down slightly.

Xiao You’s eyes strayed.

“Xi Men? Xi Men saw you?” Juliana asked in surprise.

“Umm…” Ivy cleared her throat. “Yeah. We were… hmm… together,”

Xiao You bites her lower lip and then swallowed the lump in her throat.

“Together? You can’t be serious…” Juliana said. “Up to the extent that Xi Men saw you doing that? Where were you doing it anyway?”

“Not THAT together,” Ivy said. “I mean, just, kissing and hugging,”

“Oh. You should have explained it properly,” Juliana said, exhaling a deep relieving breath.

“Xi Men came and interrupted us. He told me that I am fooling around with a married man. And then I left the place,” Ivy said. “Leaving he and Xi Men in the room,”

Juliana tilts her head. “I have never heard about this from Xi Men,”

“I don’t know what Xi Men told him, but he did not look for me for over a week after that. I find it odd, so I go and look for him. He said everything is over. His life is ruined and sort. I don’t understand what he means. That is when he told me the truth. The truth that I am not who I think I was to him, that I am just someone he wants to fool around until he gets tired and leave me. He told me about his strong and loving relationship with his wife; and how my presence ruined it. Excuse me? He put the blame on me when he is the one that make me believe in all those lies that he had uttered! And then he told me the truth about his financial status. I seriously freaked out and I left there and then, without the need for him to tell me we are done,” Ivy said frustratingly. “He is the worst guy I have ever dated! He lied to me. He had bad finance… I… I… gosh! URGHHHH!”
[*author’s clarification: Mark decided to end things with Ivy after XM said ‘Ivy is like that. She goes around fishing for nice and rich guys’]

Giving a quick gaze to Ivy, Xiao You then straightened her head – but looking away from Ivy.

‘Ivy.’

‘Xi Men said, you are highly influenced by Juliana’s marriage to find a rich or a nicer guy for yourself. Your targeted man has always been richer or nicer than the other.’

‘If this is really how it happens between you and Mark, that means…’

‘You have met your match.’

‘You’ve been played by Mark.’

‘You got owned, Ivy,’

‘You got owned.’

“Hey, don’t be pissed anymore. Let’s talk about Randy. Randy seems nice,” Juliana said, trying to cheer her cousin sister up.

And then Ivy is all smiles, “Yes, he is nice. I have made sure he is really, really single before I date him. I learnt my lesson,”

Juliana chuckled. “That’s nice. Since you said his father owns a chain of clinics… I guess his father is a doctor,”

“Yes,”

“What about him? Is he a doctor too?”

“Oh yes,” Ivy smiled.

“Medical line? That’s an industry you have never ventured into,” Juliana said.

“Opening up my options,” Ivy said. “As long as he is nice and rich, any industry is fine,”

Xiao You smirked upon hearing what Ivy said.

What else is new.

Nice and rich.

“Alright, good luck to you,” Juliana smiled.

“Thank,” Ivy smiled.

“I am back,”

Ivy, Juliana and Xiao You turned to look at Randy standing next to Ivy.

“Alright, we should get going,” Ivy said at Randy, and then turned her head to look at Juliana and Xiao You, “Juliana and friend,”

‘Friend?’

Xiao You belatedly lifted her head up to look at Ivy.

“Happy shopping,” Ivy smiled at Juliana and Xiao You, and she even gave them a wave to signify goodbye.

Oh.

Apparently Ivy has just called Xiao You as ‘friend’.

“Okay. See you around,” Juliana smiled.

Xiao You returns the smile and she automatically lifted her hand and waves to Ivy as well.

Ivy and Randy then walked away.

Juliana turned and looked at Xiao You, “Sorry about that,”

“About?” Xiao You asked, looking at Juliana but deep in her (Xiao You) heart, she is being wary of Juliana, in case Juliana actually knew the guy that Ivy was complaining about is Mark.

“About meeting Ivy in the middle of our shopping trip and having her ranting about her ex-boyfriend,” Juliana said. “She’s pretty loud so I am sure you heard what she has said,”

OH.

“Oh… there is nothing to be sorry about,” Xiao You said.

Juliana smiled at Xiao You.

Both of them continued walking.

“I don’t think Ivy’s gonna make it with Randy,” Juliana said with a small smile on her face.

Xiao You turned her head to look at Juliana, “Not gonna make it?”

“Yeah. In my opinion, because he is a doctor, and Ivy is not in that industry,” Juliana said. “I heard they said doctors prefer to look for partners from the same industry,”

“Well, it’s tough to say. Everyone view it differently. Maybe Randy prefers a partner outside of the medical industry,” Xiao You said.

Juliana pressed her lips together and smiled, “Yeah, maybe,” she said. “I hope Ivy learns how to appreciate her relationship now,”

Xiao You looked at Juliana.

“Because, Ivy is rather picky; she is never satisfied with whoever she dates. I don’t know why. She isn’t like this back then,” Juliana said. “I think she began to change and starts dating only nice and rich guys just a couple of years back, after I got married,”

‘You didn’t know she changed because of you?’ Xiao You thought to herself.

Xiao You only smiled.

“Well, Randy looks good,” Xiao You uttered. “And… as said, his father has a chain of clinics… so maybe his family is earning pretty well,”

“Actually, all guys that Ivy has dated is good, but she’ll find a reason to look for a new boyfriend, either he is not nice enough or rich enough to be with. Well, of course, other than the previous guy she was with,” Juliana said. “It is pretty obvious that he lied just to have fun with someone else behind his wife’s back. So unfortunate for his wife,”

Xiao You looked at Juliana, and when Juliana looked at Xiao You, Xiao You forces a smile on her face.

“Let’s not talk about Ivy. What she’s doing is not under our jurisdiction,” Juliana said.

Xiao You smiled. “Okay,”

‘So… Juliana really doesn’t know,’ Xiao You thought to herself.

‘Although I said that I didn’t want to go out with you today…’

‘I took back all the words.’

‘It is good that I go out with you today,’

‘I get some information that I don’t think anyone else will ever get,’

‘And I am viewing this entire situation differently now…’

Her gaze lowered for a while, before she lifted her eyes up seconds later.

*****

Juliana looked to the left and right of the driveway, trying to spot if there is any familiar car around.

“Your chauffeur did not tell you what time he’ll be coming to pick you up?” Xiao You asked, also looked at the driveway for Juliana’s car.

“Should be reaching soon. And it is not the chauffeur. Xi Men will come and pick me up,” Juliana smiled.

Xiao You’s eyes strayed for a second.

“Oh,” Xiao You said. “I did not expect that,”

“Yeah. I am surprised too. He said he is driving today, so he can come and pick me up,” Juliana smiled. “And we are going for dinner after this,”

“Oh okay,” Xiao You replied.

Well, since it is Xi Men that’s going to pick her up…

—–

“I just wanted to see you one more time before I leave,”

—–

That statement uttered by Xi Men this morning rings in her ears.

For some reason she isn’t exactly comfortable with that statement.

So…

She looked at Juliana.

Juliana isn’t a small kid that needs someone else to accompany her to wait for her husband…

“Are you alright if you wait for him here on your own while I flag a cab and go home?” Xiao You asked.

“Oh. Of course I am fine. But… why not we send you home? Xi Men can do that. It won’t be a hassle,” Juliana offered.

Similar question, just like yesterday. But now she knows how to respond to Juliana.

Xiao You shook, “Thanks for the offer, Juliana, have you forgotten that I wanted privacy? I didn’t want anyone to know where I stay,” she smiled.

“AH… right…” Juliana said. “What about… we send you nearby… and then you can walk… oh… that’s not nice either to drop you halfway…” she bites her point finger.

Xiao You smiled. She knew Juliana is curious to know where she (Xiao You) stays.

“I didn’t even want anyone of you know which area I am staying,” Xiao You smiled and patted her shoulder.

“Oh…” that is all Juliana can say.

“Thanks, Juliana. Take care alright. See you soon,” Xiao You smiled, waved and walked away.

“Xiao…” Juliana called out, but could only watch Xiao You walking away. “You didn’t give me a goodbye hug before you leave…” she mumbled.

***

Xi Men, who had just swerved into the driveway, frowned as he looked at Juliana who is standing at the entrance of the mall, had turned to the back instead of facing the driveway.

He also takes note that there is a woman walking away; back into the mall, and he realized the woman that is walking away is Xiao You.

There is no mistake about that.

He stopped the car in front of Juliana, whose head is turned to the back and remained sulking at the thought that Xiao You had left without giving her a hug.

Noticing that Juliana does not know he had arrived…

Honk! (*short and quick)

Startled, Juliana turned her head to look at Xi Men looking back at her.

Juliana immediately smiled at the sight of Xi Men and she heads to the car.

She opened the door.

“Hi Xi Men,” she said as she sits down at the passenger seat.

“Mm hmm,” Xi Men acknowledged. “Xiao You left?” his eyes traveled to the place where Xiao You had walked towards to, but she has disappeared from his sight.

“Yeah,” Juliana said and closed the door. She then pulled the seatbelt over her. “I offered to send her home, completely forgotten that she didn’t want us to know where she stays,”

Xi Men looked at Juliana.

“She admitted she didn’t want any of us to know where she stays. Not even the area,” Juliana said.

“Oh,” Xi Men said, and then straightened his head.

“Ah… Lei and Jing are so lucky,” Juliana rested her head to the seat. “They are the only one who knows where she stays,”

‘And me,’ Xi Men thought to himself. He gave the entrance of the mall another look before he then drives away.


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