“Since you and I are alone… do you mind if we walk and shop together?” Juliana asked.
Xiao You looked at Juliana; surprised with that request, “Walk and shop together?”
“Yeah. I mean, you are close with San Chai and also with F4. Since you sat next to San Chai the other day… I didn’t have the chance to know more about you,” Juliana said.
“Umm…” Xiao You hesitates. “But there is nothing about me that I can talk about…”
“It is okay. If you are friends with F4, you must be someone great,” Juliana smiled. “That is why I hope we can be friends,”
Xiao You looked at Juliana, unsure what is the right word to describe how she (Xiao You) feels right now.
Her feelings now?
Messy and complicated.
Does Juliana knows the history between her (Xiao You) and Xi Men?
Did Xi Men ever story Juliana about that?
If Juliana knows, did she (Juliana) try to know more about Xiao You based on that?
But what if Juliana didn’t know?
Isn’t that a bit…
It is weird.
It just feels weird.
It didn’t feel right to say yes to Juliana.
But it’s not like she knows what she should say to reject Juliana’s invitation.
Personally, Xiao You has no intention to be friends with Juliana because there is no need to.
She is close with San Chai and the gang as Juliana has described, but that’s about it. She is just close with them. She is not part of the gang.
She knows where she stands.
And Juliana is Xi Men’s wife.
It is better that Xiao You stays away.
But then again, what can she say to reject Juliana?
“I am nothing great…” Xiao You happened to blurt that out.
“Being great is not something you said about yourself. People around you will know instead,” Juliana smiled.
Xiao You looked at Juliana still.
Juliana looked at her, giving her (Xiao You) a very nice smile.
It looks like Juliana sincerely wants to be her friend…
But still, it is better for Xiao You to take precaution about this.
Who knows what Juliana really has in mind about befriending Xiao You?
Assuming Juliana really knows about Xiao You and Xi Men’s history, there is nothing Xiao You should be fear or worry about, right?
As mentioned, it is history.
It is past.
It is IN the past.
Xi Men has married Juliana.
And she (Xiao You) has married Mark.
She will not be with Xi Men anymore.
Not in any ways.
Not at all.
This is a well-known fact.
“Umm…” Xiao You said.
“So… do you want to try the red stiletto again?” Juliana asked with a smile on her face.
And so… it happens.
That is how it happens.
Juliana cheerfully walks next to Xiao You in the mall.
Xiao You feels awkward at how the things had turned out, but she puts up with it anyway.
This feels somewhat familiar.
Xiao You tilts her head as she wonders why.
And then she remembered.
San Chai did.
San Chai has gone thru something like this before.
Ah Si was once engaged to Xiao Zhi; which was arranged by his mother, and Xiao Zhi befriends San Chai and even asked San Chai to help her to get close with Ah Si…
Xiao You gazes over to Juliana.
Juliana’s situation is different compared to Xiao Zhi back then.
Juliana is married to Xi Men, not engaged.
She is already close to Xi Men.
She already gets Xi Men.
This situation isn’t similar to Xiao Zhi’s at all.
She surely wouldn’t ask Xiao You to assist her (Juliana) in anything, right?
It seems that there is nothing she can assist in.
Things about Xi Men?
Xiao You isn’t based here prior to this, how would she know things about Xi Men?
She has been away for 12 years, and just come back to Taipei slightly over two months ago and she only met everybody at the corporate dinner approximately a week ago.
So how would she know things about Xi Men well since 12 years had passed?
Since Juliana is married to Xi Men for 5 years, wouldn’t she know Xi Men well, better than Xiao You will?
“How old are you, Xiao You?” Juliana asked.
Xiao You turned her head to look at Juliana, “31, and you?”
“Oh, I am 31 too,” Juliana smiled.
“What do you work as, Juliana?”
“I am not working,” Juliana said. “I stayed at home,”
“Oh? Full time homemaker?”
“Yes,” Juliana said. “When I meet you at the dinner the other day, you said you are not working. What about now? Any plans to join workforce again?”
“I do have plans but not at the moment,” Xiao You smiled.
“Ah, I see… so, how long have you known San Chai?”
Xiao You smiled. “Since primary school. She is my best friend since then,”
“Wow, that sounds so long ago…”
Xiao You smiled. “Yeah, it sure does,” she said.
“And how long have you left Taipei?”
“I left for Canada with my family 12 years ago. And then, my company transferred me to San Francisco 5 years ago,”
“Ah, do you happen to study in Ying De too?” Juliana looked at Xiao You.
Xiao You shook. “No, I didn’t. The course fees of Ying De is too expensive for me anyway,”
“Oh…” Juliana said. “Umm… sorry if what I am going to ask after this might be too harsh…”
Xiao You looked at Juliana.
“Are you… umm… a commoner?” Juliana asked carefully.
“Yes,” Xiao You openly admits to it. “I am from a moderate family, or you can say, slightly above average,”
“Ah,” Juliana said. “I am from the elites…”
‘Elites. Matches Xi Men.’ Xiao You thought to herself.
‘Oh. Does it mean she will stop befriending me because we are from different class now?’
‘I will be delighted and do not have to put up with this awkwardness if it is…’
“Don’t worry, alright. Commoners or not, it doesn’t matter to me,” Juliana said with a smile.
“That’s good to know,” Xiao You smiled forcefully.
“I don’t discriminate,” Juliana said. “Sometimes commoners are better than us,”
Juliana then smiled at Xiao You, “Anyway,” she decided to change the topic, “I studied at another local university for the first few years and then moved to Ying De for my final year,” she said. [*author’s note: F4 has graduated from Ying De when Juliana joined for her final year]
“Oh, that’s nice,” Xiao You said, straightening her head.
‘Why am I entertaining to this…?’
“Nothing really nice, actually. I feel it is just okay,” Juliana said.
“Oh,” Xiao You replied.
Juliana then she turned to look at Xiao You, “Since you already know F4 during their University years, can you tell me how do they look like, or their traits, or their behaviors?”
“Ah?” Xiao You turned to look at Juliana.
“Especially Xi Men,” Juliana said.
That’s what she is afraid of!
“Xi… Xi Men?” Xiao You asked.
“Yes, tell me about him. I want to know how and what he is like when he was younger,” Juliana said, looking really interested now.
Looking at the way Juliana talks… it seems that she has no idea about Xiao You and Xi Men’s past.
If she knew… Juliana would have showed a different kind of gaze and facial expression to Xiao You, instead of looking sincerely and innocently like this.
“Umm…” Xiao You swallowed the lump in her throat. “I… I don’t really know him well… I mean, much. I don’t know much about him,”
“But I am sure you know a little bit,” Juliana said, putting her hand on Xiao You’s hand as a friendly gesture. “Even just a little,” she smiled.
Xiao You looked at Juliana’s hand on her arm. “Ummm…”
“Anything is fine with me. Just a little bit about him,” Juliana practically begged.
Xiao You straightened her head and pressed her lips together. “Umm…”
There are many things she could mention about Xi Men, as she remembers vividly about her encounters with Xi Men.
Every single one of them.
But these are the things she wanted to keep just between her and Xi Men.
“He… umm… had a number of girlfriends,” Xiao You said.
“Oh, I know,” Juliana said. “I know about that,”
Xiao You turned her head to look at Juliana, “You knew?”
Juliana nodded as she looked at Xiao You, “He told me that. It wasn’t just ‘a number’ of girlfriends. He had a lot,”
“A… a lot?”
“Yes, he keeps switching girlfriends. He said each of his girlfriends only lasted a week. That is why he had a lot,”
Xiao You is surprised to hear that Juliana knows about Xi Men’s playboy life.
She thought Xi Men will probably keep this from her (Juliana).
So there is really someone who actually could accept his playboy life and be with him still?
“So… you can accept that?” Xiao You blurted.
And then she realized how silly it was to ask that since Juliana even married Xi Men. If she couldn’t, she won’t marry him or be with him, right?
“To be honest, I can’t, in the first place,” Juliana said, tilting her head.
Xiao You looked at Juliana.
“Xi Men told me that in order to drive me away,” Juliana said.
“Drive you away?” Xiao You asked.
Juliana turned her head to look at Xiao You and smiled briefly, “Let me tell you how I met Xi Men,”
“Umm… I am sorry, I don’t mean to ask you to…”
“It is okay. It is easier to tell the story from the beginning,” Juliana smiled.
“I met Xi Men from a corporate function 6 years ago. My dad introduced me to Xi Men who had just become a CEO. My dad even specifically said he is still single at that time. I guess, it is love at a first sight,” Juliana said, and then she suddenly smiled. “When he smiled, he looked the handsomest. He is charming and charismatic… I was attracted to him there and then,”
Xiao You smiled briefly, recalling the first time she met Xi Men.
At Teng Tang Jing’s birthday party.
“I pursued him,” Juliana said.
Xiao You looked at Juliana.
“And I am quite insistence too,” Juliana said. “Because I told myself that I wouldn’t want this guy to be taken away by someone else,”
Xiao You smiled briefly.
“But it is tough… as he doesn’t have feelings for me,” Juliana said. “So I tried really, really hard. I broke down and cried in front of him when all else fails. I was so sad that my feelings are unrequited. I asked him to tell me what I can do to make him love me…”
Xiao You’s smile fades, and feels sad for Juliana.
“That was when he told me he will not be able to love me. He said he is not capable of loving someone, and no one will be able to accept the kind of man he was,” Juliana said. “I made him tell me why he said that… and he told me about this playboy chapter of his life. He wanted me to leave on my own. He wanted me to give up,”
Xiao You looked at her.
“I was shocked by that revelation. I can’t accept it. I can’t accept that he sleeps with so many…” she paused, and then swallowed the lump in her throat.
Xiao You pressed her lips together.
“I asked him… if he still is a playboy (at the time he talked about this)…” Juliana then smiled briefly. “And he said he had stopped, but remained emphasizing that the past is there and stopping now doesn’t mean he hadn’t slept with uncountable ladies,” Juliana then looked at Xiao You. “He didn’t want me to force myself to accept this part of him. And he really wants me to leave on my own…” Juliana said. “But my love for him is more, and stronger… so I end up sticking to him… driving him nuts…”
Xiao You smiled briefly upon hearing the last statement that Juliana had just uttered.
“Because of my insistency, he then told me something more…” Juliana said.
“Hmmm? Something more?”
Juliana turned and looked at Xiao You. “He said, there are two significant women in his life,”
Xiao You stared at Juliana. “Two?”
Juliana nodded. She then straightened her head and took a deep breath. “The first one… she likes him, he likes her too but he never told her that. He cherished their friendship, and just wanted to remain friends with her, but she didn’t want to be friends… and she left him,”
‘Xiao Gen.’ Xiao You thought to herself.
‘That precisely describes Xiao Gen,’
Juliana then took a deep breath. “And the second one… she is more significant to him than the first one,”
Xiao You looked at Juliana again.
“He loves her,” Juliana said, and then looked at Xiao You. “He said… for once, in his life… he actually loves someone,”
“Loves… her?” Xiao You asked.
Who… who is that?
Xiao You didn’t know anyone other than Xiao Gen.
And… maybe Xi Men met someone after Xiao You left…
Juliana smiled briefly, “I still remember the flow of conversation vividly, of what he told me about her,”
Xiao You looked at Juliana.
“He said, his playboy life ended because of her. She changed him. And she is a very important person in his life,” Juliana said.
So it is really someone after Xiao You.
Because he was still a playboy when she knew him.
“She is the first person he told to… about the first woman,” Juliana said.
Xiao You’s eyes strayed.
Xiao You’s heart skipped a beat almost immediately.
“She told him to be brave to love,” Juliana said, getting Xiao You out of her thoughts. “She told him to open himself up to love because he was afraid of loving the first woman,”
Xiao You’s eyes widened.
“Because of her… he really learned how to love. He falls so hard for her…” Juliana said.
Her heart is at her mouth now.
“…but she left too,” Juliana continued.
Xiao You immediately lowered her gaze to regain control of herself.
“Or rather… he said he let her go, and he didn’t go after her, because he guessed that is the best for her,” Juliana continued.
Xiao You pressed her lips together and swallowed the lump in her throat.
“Xi Men told me, he loves her so much that he had given her all his love; that is why he will never love me. He will never be able to love me,” Juliana said. “So he asked me to stop pursuing him. He said it will never be fair for me,”
Xiao You lowered her gaze down as she walked.
“And I did the unthinkable,” Juliana said.
Xiao You turned to look at Juliana, “Unthinkable?” she asked.
Juliana then chuckled. “I told him I will still stick with him, and I have no intention to top her,”
Xiao You looked at Juliana.
“I said… I love him; that is why I want to be with him. I do not know where the woman is now, but if she comes back, I will go back down on my own,” Juliana said.
Xiao You straightened her head again. “The woman did not,” Xiao You uttered.
Juliana smiled and shook. “Yes, she didn’t,” she said. “But at that point of time… Xi Men already knew that she will never come back to him. He said that,”
Xiao You returned her gaze to Juliana again.
“And so, I told Xi Men that… if she isn’t coming back to him, I will not retreat,” Juliana smiled. “I love him. I just want to be with him. I will not leave him like the two women did. And I told him he doesn’t need to love me. He just needs to let me be with him,”
Xiao You smiled faintly at Juliana. “I think that is not fair for you,”
“It is okay. Because I am sure… with time, he will fall for me, little by little,” Juliana said. “I don’t need him to love me more than he loves her, but if he likes me even a little, I am happy,”
Xiao You smiled slightly wider at that, and then raises her hand up to hold the strap of her handbag. “So, I assume he lets you stay around at that time,”
Juliana smiled, and then lets out a small laugh, “I think he doesn’t have an option, since I insisted,”
Xiao You also lets out a small laugh. “Well, you are married to him now,”
“Yes,” Juliana took a deep breath and then smiled briefly. “We dated for a year… and then we got married,”
Xiao You smiled. “So, how did he propose?” she asked, looking at Juliana. “Is it romantic?”
“Hmm…” the small smile on Juliana’s face fades slightly to a curve. “He didn’t propose,”
“Then, you propose?” Xiao You asked.
Juliana smiled after hearing that, but she then shook. “His dad and my dad kind of asked us to get married… so…” she smirked, “We just decided on a date and get married,”
Juliana nodded with a small smile on her face. “Yeah,”
Xiao You smiled faintly. “I hope… things are better for you now,”
“Better?” Juliana asked, looking at Xiao You.
“I mean… you said you wish he will like you a little. Since you have married him for 5 years now, I guess he loves you a lot more than you can imagine,”
“Hmmm…” Juliana hummed.
Xiao You looked at Juliana.
“Well, Xi Men doesn’t really express his feelings so I can’t be really certain,” Juliana said.
“He doesn’t express his feelings?” Xiao You repeated after Juliana.
Juliana nodded. “He masks his feelings well… when he smiled, you didn’t know if he is really smiling from the bottom of his heart or he is smiling for the sake of smiling,”
‘Xi Men is like that since I know him 12 years ago,’ Xiao You thought to herself.
‘So, he didn’t change… for he is still like this when I met him again that day,’
‘But that day… it is even tougher to derive his facial expressions and feelings than how he was 12 years ago…’
“But I know he expresses his feelings by gestures,” Juliana said.
“Gestures?” Xiao You asked, looking at Juliana.
Juliana nodded. “Such as rubbing my shoulder before I sleep…” she said.
Xiao You looked at Juliana.
“That is a form of affection from him,” Juliana said, looking at Xiao You.
“Oh,” Xiao You said.
She thought Juliana is about to say more, but apparently she didn’t.
“Well… he is your husband. I am sure you understand him and his actions of love,” Xiao You said.
“And at least, in that way, you know he is capable of loving now,” Xiao You said.
“Yeah…” Juliana then turned her head and looked at Xiao You. “By the way, how do you know we’ve been married for 5 years? I didn’t tell you that just now,”
“Xi Men told me when we were talking the other day during the Ying Enterprise’s annual dinner. It was after the dinner, where I was waiting for my husband to go home and he was waiting for you,” Xiao You said.
Thank goodness that is NOT a secret meeting.
Upon hearing what Xiao You said, Juliana immediately remembered that particular meeting has indeed taken place.
“Oh, right,” Juliana said.
Xiao You smiled at Juliana, and then she took a deep breath quietly.
She couldn’t believe what she had just heard.
The second woman that Juliana says…
‘…is me,’ Xiao You thought to herself.
‘The woman is me…’