Conflicted – Chapter 44

*Tap ashes off the cigarette onto the ashtray.

*Brings the cigarette up to his lips for a puff.

*(Someone else) Pushed the door open.

Xi Men turned his head to the left and looked at the door, looking straight at the person who had just pushed the door.

Mark Liu.

Mark gazes straight at Xi Men who is sitting at the table nearest to the door in the outdoor area, which is a smoking area, of a tea parlor near Mark’s apartment.

Both of them looked at each other.

Mark then sneered at the sight of Xi Men, before he entered the outdoor area, letting the door closed on its own.

He then sits down on one of the vacant chairs in front of Xi Men.

“Sounds ‘honored’ to be called out to meet up by CEO Xi Men,” Mark mocked.

Xi Men smirks, and then taps the ash again on the ashtray. “You look well,”

Mark smirks too. “Disappointed? I am extremely well,”

With the smirk still on his face, Xi Men takes a puff on the cigarette.

“How’s Xiao You?”

The smirk fades upon hearing that question.

Xi Men gazes at Mark, “She’s fine,” Xi Men answered. “I guess, you miss her?”

Mark looked at Xi Men, looking extremely displease, “Don’t you think it will be weird if I say no?”

Xi Men smirks again.

“I haven’t talked to her since the day I leave,” Mark said.

“Good. Keep it that way,” Xi Men said, tapping the ash from the cigarette off again. “In that way she won’t be upset at what you’ve done to her,”

Mark glared at Xi Men before he straightened his head and then exhaled his deep breath. “So what is this all about? Make it quick. I am busy,” he said, folding his hands on his chest.

“Busy? Really?” Xi Men asked. “You did not obtain any projects, and you are done & over with Ivy. What are you busy with, huh?”

Mark gazes at Xi Men, and then lets out a laugh in disbelief, “Right… you investigated me. You are probably watching me too. So how on earth you wouldn’t know I don’t have anything to do?”

“For starters, if not for your lust to Ivy in a room during a conference, I wouldn’t have known and I wouldn’t have investigated you,” Xi Men said.

Mark glared at Xi Men.

“And now, I did not investigate you. I just knew Ah Si didn’t give you the project,” Xi Men said, puffing on the cigarette. “Or rather, I was told,”

Mark exhaled his deep breath.

“Right?” Xi Men asked.

“Enough on rubbing it in. What do you want,” Mark questioned, displeased with Xi Men anyway. “Before you forget, if you want something from me, there is nothing you can take anymore. You make me divorced Xiao You. My company is on a slow death. I have ditched Ivy. I have nothing else that you can threatened me with,”

Xi Men smirks at Mark’s statement. “I know,”

“So what is it,” Mark said.

“I told you a while ago,” Xi Men said, bringing the cigarette up to his lips for a puff. “If Ah Si did not take up your system, it is better for you to leave the country?”

“Yes. But if you did not forget as well, you did say too, that if Ah Si did not take up my system, you’ll look for someone to take my management system,” Mark said, looking at Xi Men.

Xi Men looked at Mark while blowing smoke out of his lips, “To be precise, I said business contacts. Yes, I did say that. So, do you need my help now?”

“I don’t think I need to have any terms with you about that. You promised that back then,”

“Here is the thing,” Xi Men tilts his head.

Mark stared at Xi Men.

Xi Men had to puff first before he says, “I can contact some of my business contacts for you,”

There is a small change in Mark’s gaze.

Xi Men seriously will help…?

“But I won’t be looking for the companies that are based in Taipei. They will be located overseas,” Xi Men said.

“Overseas…”

“I told you to leave the country. So of course I’ll look for them for you overseas,”

Mark swallowed the lump in his throat.

“The thing is,” Xi Men uttered, and then tapped the cigarette ash onto the ashtray.

Mark looked at Xi Men.

“I will only engage them. You will go and talk to them, sell your product, and do your presentation to them. Whether they will take your management system or not, it will totally depend on you,” Xi Men said.

“Depend on me? You said you will get someone to take my management system,”

“Hold up,” Xi Men raised his hand. “You can’t be telling me that you want me to sell it for you, when I don’t even know what your product can offer?”

Mark looked at Xi Men.

“And get your facts straight. I said I can extend assistance to find you companies. I did not say I will do it myself or make sure they take it up. I only said they MAY,”

Mark’s eyes strayed immediately upon hearing it.

Xi Men is right.

Xi Men had never said that…

Mark finally realized the words that Xi Men had used; now or back then. Xi Men knew exactly what he is saying, and that he never promised anything he couldn’t do or deliver.

And Mark realized how things aren’t at his advantage…

“I can give you 10, 20 business contacts, or as many as you want,” Xi Men said. “But the last effort to save your company will totally depend on you and what your system can offer,”

Mark swallowed the lump in his throat.

“So, how is that?” Xi Men asked.

‘Xi Men says he will give contacts for companies located overseas.’ Mark thought to himself.

‘If I take it up, at least… I have a chance to save my company…’

‘As of now… I have nothing here…’

‘No one to present my system to…’

‘No potential customer either,’

‘But… I didn’t have enough to leave and start somewhere…’

“If you needed time to think, go ahead. I am in no rush,” Xi Men said, bringing the cigarette to his lips for a puff.

Mark looked at Xi Men. “I have a concern,”

Xi Men looked straight at Mark, “Which is?”

“Even if I managed to secure an appointment with another company to present my system, I don’t have money to leave,” he said.

Xi Men remained looking at him, and then smirks, “Do you think… a quarter of a million USD is enough?”

Mark’s eyes widened that Xi Men is offering him such a huge amount.

Xi Men smirks. “That amount is more than enough for you to start anew in a new country. You can use that money to rent a place, eat, as well as covering the costs of your transportation, while looking for companies to take up your management system and make it big,” he said. “I think, if you use it well, that amount of money can even sustain you for good few months without a project, or maybe a year, or two, I don’t know,”

Mark gritted his teeth.

This is how someone who has fame, power and riches behaves.

He could just use money and throw it to your face.

URGH!

“But…”

Mark looked at Xi Men upon hearing that.

“Back then, I only promised you business contacts. I’ve never promised to give you money to leave or to start anew,”

Mark’s eyes widened.

Then why did Xi Men offer that quarter of a million dollars in the first place?!

Damn this businessman for playing with people’s feelings and hope!

“Why not,” Xi Men looked at Mark. “I gave you an option to pick. Which one do you prefer? Money, OR business contacts?” Xi Men had a smug on his face.

That f*cking smug.

Blood boils in Mark.

Just because he cheated on Xiao You, he had never expected things will go down to this.

“Well, again, offer stays. Take your time to decide,” Xi Men said, puffing again.

Mark looked at Xi Men.

Thoughts quickly run in his mind.

Money or business contacts.

Money is pretty straightforward.

Cash.

Where as for business contacts…

Business contacts do not guarantee a project.

And Xi Men…

He is a businessman that deals with tea leaves.

His business contacts?

Doesn’t it mean they all deal with tea leaves as well?

What’s the likelihood of them engaging his management system?

“If I picked money…”

Xi Men lifted his gaze up from looking at the cigarette and looked at Mark.

“When will you give it to me?”

Xi Men lifted his head up and gives it a thought.

“I can’t give it to you before you leave, because, who knows, you may refuse to leave after that?” Xi Men asked.

“If you didn’t want to give it to me before that, how can I know that you’ll give it to me after I left?” Mark asked.

Xi Men smirks. “What about… one hour before you board your plane to leave Taiwan?”

Mark looked at him.

“Maybe more precisely… after you have passed the immigration, and on your way to your gate at the airport?” Xi Men asked.

Mark remained looking at Xi Men, not uttering anything.

“I think that’s pretty safe for both of us considering we don’t really trust each other on that. Don’t you think so?” Xi Men asked.

Mark pressed his lips together.

“I can prepare the money anytime. So… the earlier you leave, the faster you’ll get the money,” Xi Men said. “You can leave tomorrow, or the day after, to wherever you want to go,”

Mark’s eyes strayed for a while.

“What if…” Mark said, “I tell you I needed some time to settle my things here…?”

A smile slowly formed on Xi Men’s face, “No problem,” he said. “So… it sounds like… you are choosing money over business contacts?”

Mark smirks, “Didn’t you say; you do not guarantee that I will obtain projects with business contacts? And well, the money is more certain, right? At least I can survive and be able to let me continue looking for project clients,”

“Very wise choice, Mark Liu,” Xi Men smiled, bringing the cigarette to his lips for a puff.

Mark’s smirk fades, and then exhaled a deep breath frustratingly.

Xi Men happened to turn his head slightly to the seat next to him, and his gaze caught something.

“Ah,” Xi Men said.

Mark looked at Xi Men.

Xi Men reached for a beige envelope that he had placed on the seat next to him, and then extends it to Mark, “Yours,” Xi Men said.

Mark looked at the envelope in Xi Men’s hand, and then looked at Xi Men. “What is it,” Mark said, without even extending his hand to take the envelope.

“I’ve told you I’m going to pass you this,” Xi Men said, and then gestured Mark to take it.

Mark gazes at the envelop again, unsure what it is. He doesn’t remember Xi Men said anything about passing him anything.

He glances at Xi Men after that, and then takes the envelope.

Xi Men then continues puffing.

Mark flipped the flap of the unsealed envelope and peeks inside.

Papers.

What is this.

He frowned as he then grabbed the stack of papers out to take a look at it.

“Remember I’ve said I will submit your signed document to the respective department to finalize your divorce with Xiao You? I’ve done that. And this is the official verified divorce documents from them,”

Mark immediately looked at Xi Men.

“Since it is your marriage… I mean, your divorce, you have a copy of the documents. So, this is yours,” Xi Men said.

Mark’s gaze is filled with anger… or rather; more precisely, he is now completely engulfed in anger while glaring at Xi Men puffing.

**********

Xiao You stood at the balcony of the penthouse and looked out to the fascinating view of Taipei in front of her.

Knock! Knock!

Xiao You turned her head around and looked at her mother standing at the balcony’s entrance.

Mrs. Yang had knocked on the glass door to gain Xiao You’s attention.

Xiao You smiled. “Hi mom,”

“I know your friend’s penthouse does offer the best view of Taipei, but can’t you control yourself from being too immerse into it and starts packing for our Taiwan tour?” Mrs. Yang asked as she walked into the balcony, joining Xiao You.

Xiao You chuckled.

Mrs. Yang smiled upon hearing her daughter chuckles. “Done packing? Or rather, have you even start packing your luggage? Our trip is tomorrow,”

Xiao You shook. “I am not going to join you and dad to tour around Taiwan,”

“Ah? Why?” Mrs. Yang asked. “I thought you wanted to go with us,”

“I do. But I have something more important to do,” Xiao You said.

“Which is…?”

Xiao You slowly turned her head and looked out to the view again, “I have thought about it. I have decided that I want to go back to San Francisco,”

Mrs. Yang’s eyes brightened up. “You want to go back?”

Xiao You nodded.

“But we have only talked about this 2 days ago. You don’t have to rush to make a decision,” Mrs. Yang said.

“Actually… I have been thinking about this matter for weeks, since I divorced Mark, about what to do and where to go from here,” Xiao You said. “And of course, even more so these 2 days,”

Mrs. Yang looked at her.

“I think I needed a push, or someone to explain, or a reason for me to make my decision,” she said, looking at the view.

Mrs. Yang continued to look at Xiao You who is looking at the view.

“Mom… right now… I have lost everything,” Xiao You uttered in despair.

Mrs. Yang lifted her hand up and rubbed Xiao You’s back.

“Because I married Mark, I gave up on my job and career to come here with him, in hope to rescue his company. He couldn’t even provide to me, because the company is not earning. So I have live solely based on my own savings. And now… I am no longer with Mark. I am left with nothing,” she said. “And I have to start all over again no matter where I go,”

Mrs. Yang nodded as she understands.

“Truth is, I only have you and dad,” she slowly turned her head to look at her mother. “So… naturally, my decision has to be revolved around you and dad,” she smiled bitterly at her mother.

Mrs. Yang replied with a small smile on her face. “Xiao You, it wasn’t us that you need to factor in for your decision,” she said.

Xiao You looked at her mother, her bitter smile fades slowly.

“Because we are the one that will follow you,” Mrs. Yang said.

Xiao You regained the smile on her face.

“The moment we sell our house to travel around the world, you, became our home. So we will always look for you,” Mrs. Yang said, rubbing Xiao You’s back again. “It doesn’t matter to us where you want to go, but you don’t necessarily have to go back to San Francisco just because I said so. You can go anywhere you want to go, even to an unfamiliar land, and we will follow you,”

Xiao You smiled, dropping her gaze for a while. “I was thinking about San Francisco because we’ve been staying there for years,” she lifted her head up. “And we have adapted to that place. I think I can start all over again there,”

Her mother raised her hand and caressed Xiao You’s cheek. “If that is what you want to do, then alright. We’ll do that, okay. Whichever you prefer, sweetie,”

Xiao You smiled. “Are you alright with it, mom?”

“Yes, I am fine with it,” Mrs. Yang said.

Xiao You’s smile grew. “So…”

Mrs. Yang tilts her head. “Hmmm?”

“I wanted to tour around Taiwan with you but because I have made this decision, I have to pack my things now, to go back to San Francisco. So, I have decided not to go with you and dad, as I will be using these days to pack. So, after you have toured the few places and come back to Taipei, I will leave Taipei with you and dad after that. We will leave together,” Xiao You said.

Mrs. Yang smiled. “Okay, sweetie. If that is what you want,”

Xiao You smiled. “So… tomorrow, I will accompany you and dad to the train station. And I will cancel my train ticket as well,”

“Alright,”


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