Conflicted – Chapter 43

Xiao You has been standing in front of the airport’s arrival hall’s gate ever since the word ‘Landed’ appeared on the flight arrival board, next to the flight number that her parents are taking.

She scanned every single person coming out of the gate.

She didn’t factor in the time that her parents needed to deplane, goes thru the immigration, collect their check-in luggage and then comes out here; which may take a while.

Anyway, she is too happy to factor them in.

She can’t wait.

After she has stood there and waited for about 15 minutes, someone raised a hand from far and waved, which she saw.

A smile appeared on Xiao You’s face and it grew at every fraction of a second.

She waved back happily at the figures walking to her.

The moment Mr. and Mrs. Yang reached her 30 seconds later,

“Mom, dad,” she called again, and gave both of them a hug at the same time. “I miss you so, so much!”

“We miss you too, darling,” Mr. Yang said, patted her back.

“Are you hungry? Should we go for a meal?” Xiao You asked.

“Yes, we should,” Mrs. Yang said.

*****

“So, mom, dad, is there anywhere you want to go here?” Xiao You asked. “I can bring you,”

“Well,” Mrs. Yang smiled. “Your dad and I thought we can explore Taipei for 2 days, and then we will spend some time traveling to some places in Taiwan,”

“Oh, what places do you have in mind?” Xiao You asked.

“We want to go to Taichung for 2 days, then traveled down to Kaohsiung for 3 days, and then we’ll go to Alishan for 3 days, and then come back to Taipei,” Mr. Yang smiled.

“Wow. That’s nice,” Xiao You said. “Then, that means you’ll be here for slightly more than a week?”

“Yes. We are not in a rush to leave after all,” Mrs. Yang smiled.

Xiao You smiled.

“Are there any new places in Taipei?” Mrs. Yang asked.

“Oh yes. Many things have changed in a span of 12 years. When we left, Taipei 101 isn’t up yet and now it is the icon of Taipei. Also a couple of malls have closed and of course some new ones have come out,” Xiao You said.

“We need to go to Taipei 101,” Mr. Yang smiled. “Since it is the icon, we really should go,”

“Sure, dad. I’ll bring you,” she smiled.

“Do you want to join us to travel around Taiwan?” Mrs. Yang asked.

“Me?”

Mr. and Mrs. Yang nodded.

“Hmmm… if you don’t mind, of course I want to go,” Xiao You smiled.

“Of course we don’t mind,” Mrs. Yang smiled.

“Okay! So… maybe we should buy some train tickets. Hmmm… what about spending the next 3 days in Taipei, and then we’ll start touring out of Taipei after that?” Xiao You suggested.

“Sure, we have no problem with that,” Mr. Yang smiled.

“Alright,” Xiao You smiled.

Mr. and Mrs. Yang exchanged glances, before they returned their gazes to Xiao You, and just right at that time, the waiter approached their table with the food they have ordered.

*****

Mr. and Mrs. Yang stood at the entrance of the penthouse and stares into the house with their jaws dropped.

“Mom, dad, come in…” Xiao You said, looking at them.

She knew why her parents’ reactions are like that.

For a fact… this is too luxurious.

“You are staying here, Xiao You?” Mrs. Yang asked.

“Yes, mom…” she replied, and in order to avoid her mother’s gaze, she (Xiao You) quickly grabbed her mother’s luggage, dragging it in into the house.

“When the cab driver drives into this area, I can see it is prestigious. And not just that, you are staying in a penthouse? This place’s rent won’t be cheap, Xiao You. How much are you paying for this?” Mr. Yang asked, following Xiao You and enters the penthouse with his wife.

“Umm…” Xiao You then heads to the door and closes it.

“Or Mark paid for this?” Mr. Yang asked.

“No, Mark did not pay for this,” Xiao You said. “He can’t even afford to stay in a hotel and asked me to move out from the apartment… what’s more renting such beautiful penthouse for me,”

“Hmmm… makes sense. At the time when I called you, you said you were packing because Mark asked you to leave the rented apartment,” Mrs. Yang said.

“Damn that bas… boy!” Mr. Yang said.

Xiao You and Mrs. Yang knew what Mr. Yang wants to say but decided to change the word last minute.

He wouldn’t call Mark a ‘boy’. He deserves a word worse than that.

Since as acknowledged that her divorce’s situation is rather complicated, she only told her parents that Mark is caught cheating on her with another woman, thus they have divorced, with the help of a friend.

Saying ‘they have divorced with the help of a friend’ would hinder her parents from asking a lot of questions, because there is no way the divorce papers could be prepared as quickly as this.

For her parents, it is still a mystery how they could divorce within a short span of time.

But she just said, ‘her friend managed to find a way to do so’.

“Then this penthouse…” Mrs. Yang asked.

“Friend’s house. He lets me stay here for a while,” Xiao You said.

“A friend’s house?” Mrs. Yang asked.

“Yes,” Xiao You said. “So, don’t worry about the rent,”

They looked around the unit.

“You are not paying your friend?” Mr. Yang asked.

Does it even make sense to say she only pays TWD$1000 for this?

But that’s the amount she pays!

Well, it is weird to say that.

But she can’t say she didn’t pay.

Her parents will insist that she should pay a little… no matter what.

But what is she supposed to say?

Then out of nowhere, she gets a good reason.

“Just… umm… I just have to pay for the electricity and water…” Xiao You said. “Utility bills! Ahh, utility bills,”

“Not the rent?” Mr. Yang asked.

Dad, stop asking.

“He says this is an extra house, so…”

Extra?

My foot.

This is not an extra house.

He bought this house for her to stay.

URGH…

“Is your friend rich?” Mr. Yang asked.

“Yeah…” Xiao You smiled reluctantly.

“Then, how long is he letting you stay here?” Mr. Yang asked.

“Until I have decided what I want to do next,” Xiao You said.

“Then what do you want to do next?” Mrs. Yang asked.

Xiao You looked at her parents. “I… I don’t know,”

“What do you mean you don’t know, Xiao You?” Mr. Yang asked.

She felt immense pressure.

This question, again and again.

Xiao You lets out a deep breath. “I said I don’t know. I really don’t know. I don’t know what to do yet,” she walked to the couch in the living room.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Yang looked at Xiao You walked passed them and heads straight to the couch, and then she sits down.

After exchanging a gaze, they also walked to the couch and sits facing Xiao You.

“Xiao You, you have divorced from Mark now because he cheats on you. But it’s been a while now, and you need to continue living. You need to know what to do next,”

“I really don’t know, mom,” Xiao You said, clasping her hands tightly. “I am sorry for being rude, but can you and dad stop asking me for a moment? I really don’t have any kind of answers for any questions you are asking or going to ask,”

Mrs. Yang pressed her lips together while Mr. Yang gazes at his wife.

“I am sorry, dear,” Mrs. Yang immediately moves to sit next to Xiao You. “I am sorry for asking too much…”

Mr. Yang takes a deep breath. “Yeah… we are sorry, Xiao You,” he said apologetically. “We have not even set in… but already asked you questions about the house and everything…”

Xiao You took a deep breath, and then exhaled it with trembles.

She then swallowed the lump in her throat. “I have been really, really strong,”

Mr. and Mrs. Yang looked at her.

“Really, really strong,” Xiao You repeated. “There are times…” she sniffs.

They exchanged glances briefly.

“…I live like normal. There are times I can’t but I just tried to ignore. Perhaps I looked like I am not affected to you. But I do. I have separated from Mark for 5 weeks now. Yes, I do count the days. I’ve cried, many times. Things do slowly set in me, but it does not mean I am adapted to it. I am still sad in my heart about how this marriage has ended. But I need to live. I still need to live. I am just starting to find my footing to being alone. I have not figured what I want to do next. I could only take one step at a time. My friends have been helping me in this tough time. But they have a job. They have a family. They can’t accompany me all the time. So when I am alone… I make myself busy. Clean this huge house. One room after another. One segment after another, despite there are maids coming over. At night, I read books. Watch TV. And sleep. Do whatever I want to do. And this is how I have been living for 5 weeks,” a tear fell onto her face.

“Xiao You…” Mrs. Yang squeezed her shoulder.

“I’ve found out something hurtful just few days ago but I think that is what I wanted to hear, in order for me to continue living. But right now, right at this moment, I don’t know what I am going to do and I don’t know what I should do. But rest assured that I am not going to die. I will know what I want to do someday. Yes, someday, but that’s not today,” she looked at her mother. “Just don’t worry about me. I will continue living. I will,”

Tears formed in Mrs. Yang’s eyes. “I understand, Xiao You. I am sorry for asking. I am really sorry…” she reached forward and hugs Xiao You.

*****

Holding the glass of warm water with both of her hands, Xiao You lifts it up and takes a sip.

Mrs. Yang joins her on the dining table, and then caressed the back of Xiao You’s head right before she (Mrs. Yang) sits down.

Xiao You turned her head slightly to look at her mother, and then smiled.

“How are you feeling?” Mrs. Yang asked.

“Better,” Xiao You replied, still smiling.

Mrs. Yang smiled. “I am sorry. I shouldn’t have asked so many questions even before your dad and I have gotten ourselves comfortable here,”

Xiao You smiled. “It is okay,” she said. “Do make yourself comfortable at this penthouse,”

“Sure, thank you,” Mrs. Yang smiled. “It is really beautiful here,”

Xiao You smiled. “Yeah,” she looked around the penthouse. “It is. Nice view at the balcony too,”

“Do tell your friend that it is a very beautiful house,”

“I will,” Xiao You said.

Mrs. Yang smiled. “So… tell me about your friends here,”

“What do you want to know?” Xiao You asked.

“As in… who are they,”

Xiao You smiled. “They are the friends I have made before we leave for Canada 12 years ago,”

“Ah. Your childhood friend, right? What’s her name again… umm… San… San Chai?”

Xiao You nodded, “And her friends, whom are also my friends,” she said. “Or maybe I should say… her husband, and his friends,”

“Her husband is…”

“Dao Ming Si,” Xiao You said. “CEO of Dao Ming Corporation, whose mother is the one that threatened dad 12 years ago, fires him from the job, and we had to migrate to stay safe,”

Mrs. Yang looked at Xiao You. “She married him?”

Xiao You nodded. “Yes,” she said. “What are the odds, right? After all that they have been thru and everything that his mother tried to do to break them up, they ended up married and have kids now,”

A small smile formed on Mrs. Yang’s face. “Yeah,” she said. “So, she is helping you now?”

Xiao You shook, “Not her in particular, but… Ah Si’s friends. The F4,” she said. “Strangely I haven’t had the chance to talk to her… or rather she is too busy with her career and kids to talk to me… and the one that’s free to talk to me is the one that I don’t want to talk to…” she mumbled.

“Hmmm?” her mother asked, since she couldn’t hear a thing that Xiao You had mumbled.

“Oh, nothing,” Xiao You smiled.

“Did you say F4 just now?”

“Yes,”

“F4… the same F4 from 12 years ago? The name that signifies the top four riches heir in Taiwan?”

Xiao You bites her lower lip and then nodded.

Her mother frowned. “You know the F4? I thought only San Chai knows Dao Ming Si…”

“San Chai knows all of them. And because of her, I actually knew all of them too. And I already know them 12 years ago,”

“Wow. I didn’t know about that,” Mrs. Yang said. “I thought the only relation is that Ah Si’s mom found out you are San Chai’s best friend and thus they threatened your dad. I didn’t know you actually knew the boys personally,”

“They are men now,” Xiao You smiled briefly.

Mrs. Yang chuckled. “Right. Men,” she said. “So, how are they?”

“They are all married,” Xiao You said. “And one of the F4 guys gets this house for me,”

“Get this house?”

“I mean,” she blinked, “Let me stay in this house. Extra house, remember?”

“Yes, I remember,” Mrs. Yang said. “That’s very nice of him,”

“Yes. Very nice of him,” Xiao You said, looking at the glass of water in her hand. “He is a very nice guy,”

She then swallowed the lump in her throat at the thought of Xi Men.

“Do you mind if I ask you some questions…?”

Xiao You turned to look at her mother. “Questions?”

“You said… you have friends helping you in your divorce…”

She remained looking at her mother, waiting for her mother to complete the question.

“Is it the F4?”

Xiao You gripped onto the glass of water. “Yes,” she said. “The power of F4 overrides everything,”

Mrs. Yang looked at Xiao You, and then belatedly smirked. “I understand now,” she said. “And can I ask you about Mark?”

Xiao You looked at her mother, there is a distinct change in her (Xiao You) gaze.

“How is he doing since the divorce?” Mrs. Yang asked.

“I don’t know. I have not met or talked to him since the divorce,” Xiao You said.

“Oh,” Mrs. Yang said. “He… is with…”

Xiao You took a deep breath. “He is not with the woman anymore,”

Mrs. Yang is surprised to hear that Xiao You knew. “How… how did you know?”

“I found out about it a few days ago it,” Xiao You said.

Mrs. Yang is curious, but she didn’t dare to ask about what had happened.

“I know who the woman is. But she didn’t know who I am. And apparently Mark has been lying to her about us. They ended everything after our divorce,” Xiao You said. “I’ve always wondered if she is the one seducing him… or he goes out and cheats on me,” she adds. “And clearly… since he has the tendency to lie to her… it means, he wants it to happen,”

Mrs. Yang nodded, and then extends her hand out to grip Xiao You’s hand, and then pats it. “Okay, I get it,”

Xiao You gives a faint smile and then looked at the glass of water in her hand. “After hearing this, I somehow feel… like a closure. It has answered a question that I have. I feel… I can finally accept whatever is happening and learn to move on from him now with this information,”

Mrs. Yang could see pain in Xiao You’s eyes. At the same time, she could see the determination to start anew in Xiao You’s eyes too.

“Xiao You…”

Xiao You turned her head slowly and looked at her mother.

Mrs. Yang pats Xiao You’s head again. “You married Mark, and you decide to come back to Taipei with him because of his company. When we called you the other day, we only thought of telling you that we are coming over for a visit… only to find out what happened to you and him,”

Xiao You pressed her lips together.

“Now that things have happened to this… maybe…”

Xiao You gazes at her mother.

“Do you want to go back to San Francisco?” Mrs. Yang said.

“I have to admit that going back to San Francisco is one of the options I have been thinking about…”

“If you feel it is better for you to go back to San Francisco, then do it,” Mrs. Yang said. “Because I know you don’t have any reasons to stay here anymore,”

“But you are travelling around the world with dad, and we don’t have a house there as you have sold the house years ago…”

“We can stop travelling around. It is okay if we don’t have a house. We can rent a place. A place where we will call our home,” Mrs. Yang smiled.

Xiao You could only look at her mother without saying a word.

“Anything to make you comfortable, sweetie,” Mrs. Yang said.

Xiao You lowered her head down.

“It is okay, Xiao You,” Mrs. Yang said, patting Xiao You’s head again. “You don’t have to make a decision now. Because I do believe you need time. As long as your friend did not chase you out of this place, you still have time to decide if you want to go home,”

Xiao You smiled, and then she lets out a chuckle.

“No rush, darling. When you have decided, just let us know. We’ll support whatever decision you are going to make,”

Xiao You smiled wider and nodded. “Thank you, mom,”

Mrs. Yang smiled and pats Xiao You’s head again, and then Xiao You reached over and hugged her mother.


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