Xiao You rose to her feet and heads to the door and opened it.
“Hi Xiao You,”
“Hi Jing, hi Lei,” Xiao You smiled at her guests.
“How are you?” Jing asked, reaching forward to hug Xiao You.
“I am fine, thanks, and you?” Xiao You asked.
“I am good too,” Jing smiled, as she relieved from the hug.
“Nice to see you again, Xiao You,” Lei smiled, and now it is his turn to hug her, but using only one hand while the other is carrying a black bag.
“Nice to see you too, Lei,” Xiao You smiled and hugs him briefly.
“Here’s the laptop you asked from us,” Lei extends the black bag to Xiao You.
“Oh, thanks!” Xiao You said and took the bag from Lei’s hand. “Come in and take a seat,”
“Sure,” Jing and Lei said as they walked into the penthouse.
And Xiao You closed the door after they entered the penthouse.
“Have you eaten, Xiao You?” Lei asked as they walked to the couch in the living room.
“Yes, I have. What about you?” Xiao You asked, walking behind them towards the couch too.
“Yes, we already had. We came after our dinner,” Jing smiled as she sits down on the couch.
“Did you eat out or you cooked?” Lei asked.
“I hardly eat out because I am trying to save as much as I can. I have to pay the cab fare to go out to town, and have to pay for food. So I usually will just cook simply and eat at home,” Xiao You smiled.
“Oh,” Jing and Lei said at the same time.
“Sometimes I am lazy so I just cook instant noodles,” Xiao You said.
“Errr… that’s not very healthy, right?” Lei asked.
Xiao You chuckled. “Just once in a while,” she said. “It is okay,”
Jing and Lei exchanged gazes and smiled briefly.
They then straightened their heads and looked at Xiao You.
“Do you urgently need the laptop back?” Xiao You asked, patting the bag next to her.
“No, no. We don’t need it actually. This is an older laptop and actually we are not using it anymore. So you can use it and there is no rush in returning it,” Jing smiled.
“Alright, thanks first,” Xiao You smiled.
“No worries. But can I ask, why do you need a laptop all of a sudden?” Jing asked.
Lei nodded curiously.
“I need it to type my résumé,” Xiao You said.
“Résumé?” Jing and Lei asked.
Xiao You smiled, “Or rather, I should say, I needed the laptop as I want to retrieve my résumé document that I have saved in a cloud storage and then I’ll edit it before sending it out,”
“Umm… you are looking for a job, Xiao You?” Lei asked.
Xiao You nodded. “Yes, since I am stuck here…”
Lei and Jing exchanged gazes.
“I can’t be sitting at home all the time doing nothing,” Xiao You said, leading them to turn their heads and look at her again. “So I have to look for job and work here, earning some money to sustain my life,”
“Oh,” Lei said.
“I can’t solely survive on my savings account. It is running low and will someday ‘dried up’ if I don’t earn some money,” Xiao You said.
Jing smiled. “Alright. I support you in your decision to look for a job. You might enjoy staying at home now, but you’ll get bored out of your wits soon,”
Xiao You nodded. “Yes, you are right!”
Jing and Xiao You laughed.
“You girls can go shopping if you are bored, you know,” Lei said.
Xiao You looked at Lei, deadpanned. “And spend money? I don’t have enough, you know? I thought I have just told you,”
Lei chuckled. “I thought Xi Men gave you some,”
Xiao You continued to look at Lei, deadpanned, “I know he will give with no hesitation, but I don’t want his money. And it’s not like I am his ‘somebody’. Besides, he is the one that stuffs money into my hand for me to spend when I go out with Juliana,”
Lei and Jing looked at each other.
Xiao You takes a deep breath.
“Hmmm… alright,” Lei said.
“Oh, by the way,”
Lei and Jing looked at Xiao You. “Hmmm?” they asked.
“Yesterday, you said… you can’t come to pass me the laptop because you have emergency. Is it settled today? If it is not and you still come over today… I have to apologize…” Xiao You said.
“Oh, don’t worry about it,” Lei said.
“It is not our emergency. It’s just that… Lei have something to attend to urgently,” Jing said.
“Oh, okay,” Xiao You said.
Lei looked at Jing, and Jing gives him a nod.
He then straightened his head to look at Xiao You.
“Well, pertaining to the emergency yesterday…” Lei said.
Xiao You looked at Lei. “Hmmm?”
“It is actually about Xi Men,” Lei said.
Xiao You’s eyes widened. “Xi Men? Emergency? What happened to him?” she then turned to look at Jing, “Am I the last one to know again?”
“Yes, you are the last one to know again,” Lei said as he looked at Xiao You, not wanting Xiao You to put the blame on his wife.
Xiao You turned to look at Lei.
“But not with intention like the last time,” Lei said. “Because we are in a position where we don’t know what is going on. So we need to get to the bottom of this before we can tell it to you or anyone else,” Lei adds. “Jing only knows what is going on late last night, after I returned home from seeing Xi Men, the same goes to Xiao Qiao and San Chai; so you are not that far behind as you thought,”
Xiao You looked at Lei, “Oh,”
“And since we are coming to see you today, we decided to tell you face to face instead of typing it in whatsapp early today,” Lei said.
Xiao You nodded as she understands.
“First and foremost, this is about Xi Men’s work,” Lei said.
“Work?” Xiao You asked.
“Yes,” Lei said.
Xiao You looked at Lei.
“Xi Men is in a crisis now,” Lei said.
“Crisis?” Xiao You is taken aback. “What… what crisis?” she asked. “I thought you just said… his work…”
“It is not Xi Men particularly but Xi Men’s company is in crisis now,” Jing said.
Xiao You turned her head to look at Jing. “Company?”
Lei and Jing nodded. “Xi Men Corporation,” they said together.
“What… what kind of crisis?” Xiao You asked, slightly nervous.
Lei swallowed the lump in his throat. “Xi Men Corporation is in trouble now. Xi Men himself is in a very, very bad situation where he might lose Xi Men Corporation if he couldn’t deal with this,”
Xiao You’s eyes widened.
The next day.
Gripping onto her handbag’s strap, Xiao You stood in the middle of the lobby.
She looked straight to the billboard bearing the huge name (of the company) in the lobby.
Xi Men Corporation.
After staring at it for a while, she lowered her gaze and finds herself looking left, and then to the right.
Everyone is busy walking around, in and out of the lobby.
Are they affected by the crisis too?
Are they struggling too?
Or… only the CEO is affected?
What Lei told her last night, as well as their conversation; rings in her ears and plays in her mind.
“Xi Men did not intend to tell us about this incident. Mei Zhuo gets a call from his stock broker that Xi Men’s shares price is about to drop. That is when we know something had happened. We meet up with Xi Men and asked him about it; and he was pretending nothing is happening until he realized we already know, then only he told us what is going on. This is when we found out it is so serious,” Lei said. “More than we have ever imagined,”
Xiao You finds herself lifting her head up and looked at the billboard again.
“You may not know about this, but Juliana’s father has made press statement yesterday and the news is all over the place today. He had announced that they have terminated all business dealings with Xi Men Corporation permanently since Xi Men and Juliana had divorced. And if you do not realize it yet, nobody knows about Xi Men’s divorce until now. His divorce has gone public today,”
Xiao You looked at Lei.
“We all know the truth about the divorce and it had taken place days ago, but not the public. Imagine, the in-laws said they are terminating all the projects and they said it is due to the divorce. How will the views from the public be? This has placed Xi Men in a bad light. The media has camped at Xi Men’s office this morning, seeking him for answers about this. So you have to know, Xi Men not only has to deal with the company’s struggle, he also has to deal with the pressure by the press about his divorce. He has so much to deal with right now,”
Xiao You turned around and looked to the entrance of the lobby.
No media outside.
Or maybe they came earlier in the day.
It is already 10.30am.
Logic wise, there is no use if they camped there now, as they will not meet Xi Men at this time anyway and there will be no one that can give them the information they needed.
Or maybe they did not come today.
“He really, really has a lot on his shoulders now. And this is the worst we have ever seen of Xi Men,”
“What about… Juliana…? I thought she love him? Why can’t she ask her father…” Xiao You asked Lei.
“Well, we don’t know. But all along, Juliana does not step a foot in into her father’s business or Xi Men’s business. Maybe she doesn’t know the impact her father has caused to Xi Men. Maybe she knows but she doesn’t care. Maybe she tried to talk to her father but no avail. Or maybe, she doesn’t even know this is happening,” Lei said.
“If… if we seek her out and tell her or persuade her, will she be able to…”
Lei shook. “Xiao You, this is way beyond personal now. It is not as easy as you think. Even if Mr. Lin reverts everything – buys the shares again or continues the projects; things will not get back to its original state. This is business. Xi Men will still struggle no matter what,”
Xiao You slowly turned her head again and then looked at ‘Xi Men Corporation’.
“This is Xi Men’s lone struggle. Or maybe not that lonely, as he has his father to do it with him to save the company, but at the end of the day, Xi Men is the CEO of Xi Men Corporation of the Taiwan office. He will struggle the most,”
Xiao You looked at Lei.
“Xi Men has never encountered this before. He didn’t even know how he is going to deal with this and if he will ever win this. Xi Men Corporation has never had such a disaster since its establishment,”
Her gaze lowered slightly at the recollection.
“As this is business and we’d put it – corporate & professional; it has fallen into a situation where we cannot help Xi Men. Whether it is from the view of a best friend or a CEO of a giant company; there is none that we can do for him,” Lei said. “Xi Men Corporation’s stocks price closes at a low price yesterday; and it dipped the moment the share market opens at 8am this morning and it closes at an all time low and it is forecasted it will go even lower tomorrow and maybe until the next week,” Lei adds. “Or next few weeks; probably even the next month,”
Hearing the ordeal that Xi Men is going thru is a pain itself, what’s more Xi Men has to face it on his own…
“The only one way Mei Zhuo, Ah Si and I are helping him now is to not sell the shares in our hands. We hope the shares we have and are still holding will be the basis of stability to Xi Men Corporation. If we sell them off, we will be joining the rests of people; contributing to the fall of Xi Men’s company. And you know for a fact that we don’t want to see this happened to Xi Men. And we want him to win this,”
Xiao You looked at Lei.
“So, even if we are suffering some losses in the shares, so be it. We don’t mind as long as it gives hope to Xi Men. This is the only way we are supporting him and assisting him,” Lei said.
Xiao You finds herself nodding as she understands it.
Xiao You lifted her eyes up and looked at Lei.
“There is one thing that you could do for Xi Men,” Lei said, looking at Xiao You, “And I guess, we could only rely on you to do that,”
Xiao You lifted her eyes up slightly, looking at the company’s name again.
“Me…?” Xiao You asked. “What can I do if you, Mei Zhuo or Ah Si can’t do to help him?”
“Not much, but…” Lei looked at Xiao You. “Xi Men is on his own now,”
Xiao You looked at Lei; she doesn’t understand.
“Xiao You, Xi Men needed support mentally and emotionally. Please do that for him,” Lei said.
There is a change on her (Xiao You) facial expression.
“Sup… support him mentally and emotionally?” Xiao You asked.
“Xiao You, he needed it,” Lei said.
“How… how can you ask that from me?” Xiao You asked in disbelief, putting her hand on her chest.
Lei and Jing looked at Xiao You.
“Don’t you know he is the one that puts me to this condition? He confined me here, not allowing me to leave this place; and you expect me to…”
“Xiao You,” Lei interrupts. “I am not asking you to accept him or accept his feelings,”
“Xiao You, please look at this in a different view,” Lei said. “He is doing this to you not because he wanted to confine you but because he is scared of losing you. He is doing this because he loves you!”
“You don’t confine the person you love like this!” Xiao You said.
“He sets you free because he loves you 12 years ago and did you see what you got there?” Lei asked. “You met Mark; who cheated on you after 2 years of marriage,”
Xiao You looked at Lei.
“Xi Men’s heart breaks at that thought. He can live miserably as long as you get to be happy. But setting you free and sees you met and married someone who could not give you honesty and loyalty breaks him. He felt responsible for your marriage, do you know that?” Lei asked.
Tears pooled in her eyes.
“He can’t let you go and let you encounter the same situation that will hurt you over and over again. I know he is doing it the wrong way by barring you from leaving the country and we don’t agree to this but he is doing this because he is trying to protect you at the same time,”
Xiao You swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat.
Lei then took a deep breath and exhaled it calmly, “Back to Xi Men’s issue… Xiao You, you are the only person that can give Xi Men support mentally and emotionally now. He is in a crisis now where no one knows if he can survive it. He needed strength to fight this war. You don’t have to accept him to support him. You just have to be there for him and give him words of encouragement. Because to him, you are his light and hope. Your presence is everything to him,”
Xiao You looked at Lei.
“Xi Men has no one else now. There is a limit to what we can do as friends. His father is angry with him. His mother would not be able to assist him in any ways. But all I know is that he only has you now. And you are the only one that can bring him inner strength and possibly motivates him in an unimaginable way that we as his buddies cannot do,” Lei said.
Xiao You pressed her lips together as a tear fell onto her cheek.
“You’ve been the most important person in Xi Men’s life. Please assume that responsibility actively now and help Xi Men to save his company. Don’t let him fall,” Lei said.
Xiao You looked at Lei.
“And bring the glory back to Xi Men Corporation,” he said.
Xiao You sniffed, and then she wiped the tear on her face.
Xiao You continued looking at the company’s name.
*Squeezes nasal bridge.
*Takes a deep breath.
*Exhaled his deep breath.
*Takes another deep breath.
*Exhaled the deep breath.
Exhaling his deep breath and straightened his head, “Come in,” Xi Men called out and opened his eyes.
*Door knob turned.
Xi Men turned his head to look at the door that slowly opens…
Their eyes met.