Conflicted – Chapter 67

Xiao You exits the room, and turned her head to look at Xi Men’s back, who has exited the room just few steps before her and is walking away.

“Xi Men,” she called and then hurriedly walked to him.

Xi Men halted his footsteps, turned around and looked at Xiao You. “Hmm?”

“Umm…”

“Congratulations on landing a job,” he said, plastering a smile on his face.

“Oh. Umm… thank you,” she said.

“Do a good job there at Hua Ze Corporation,” Xi Men said, extending his hand out and pats her arm.

“I will,”

“You’ll be reporting to Lei directly. And he’ll be a good coach. If he bullies you, tell me. I’ll beat the shit out of him,”

Xiao You chuckled, “Don’t worry about that. I am sure if he scolds me, it means I did something wrong…”

Xi Men smiled, “Okay,”

“I… I thought you are busy with your work…”

“Yes, I am,” he said.

“Then… why are you here?” Xiao You asked. “I thought your company is more important…”

He smirks, “Yes, my company is important, but so are you,”

She looked at him.

“Lei informed me they are conducting the interview today. They didn’t ask me to come, but I make this decision myself. I come here straight from the mansion. I haven’t even gone to my office yet. Because I want to be here to see whose job you are taking,”

“I can understand Mei Zhuo and Ah Si’s presence but you…” she said. “You didn’t do much in the room. You are just sitting there, listening… and… and you are basically not needed to be there… since… umm… you didn’t offer a vacancy… I mean, why don’t you go to office and utilize the time to do your work since you are so busy? And your friends will definitely update you whose job I’ve taken up…”

“To be honest, I wanted to offer you a vacancy as well. But all of us know what state my company is in now…” he uttered. “And I have actually freezes all hiring processes and vacancies. I wanted to break that down and offer you a vacancy; because it is you,” he adds.

She looked at him.

“However… I am not sure what the fate of my company will be in the near future, and if I were to hire you, you are coming in into a troubled company and may lose your job in the process. So everyone is against me offering a job,” he said. “Do not worry, if my company survives this and is running well again, I will offer you a vacancy at that time,”

She smiled briefly, “Don’t you think it’s rude to do that to your buddy’s staff?” Xiao You asked.

Xi Men slowly smiled, “I am sure he will understand,”

“But I don’t think I want to do that to him,” she said. “And if things are really going as what he said just now… it looks like his vacancy is a perfect match for me,”

Xi Men smiled. “Okay, if that is what you think. As long as you are happy,”

Xiao You smiled, “So, are you happy now that I am working with Lei?”

“Of course. And I am glad I don’t have to speak up,”

“Speak up?” she asked.

“Well, I didn’t come just to see whose job you are taking. I come to make sure you took up one of our jobs,” he said.

She looked at him.

“You don’t know how messed up my mind was when you rejected Mei Zhuo and Ah Si’s job offer,” he said. “I was thinking what I should say if you were to reject Lei’s job too. But thankfully you did not. And not to mention, Lei did a good job in his words,”

She smirks, “You are right, he is good in his words. I can’t get out of it no matter what I said. He even asked me to give reason if I didn’t want to take it up. He won,”

Xi Men smiled briefly, “That is why I am glad I don’t have to say a thing,” he said.

She smiled.

“But tell me, we are the best companies here, why don’t you want to work with us?” he asked.

“The truth is… I don’t want to go back to workforce thru you guys…”

“Just that?” Xi Men asked.

Xiao You lowered her head briefly and nodded. “I wanted to do it on my own…”

“Actually, random companies are not a wise decision for you,” he said.

She lifted her head up, “Why not?” she asked.

“You are still unknown now and of course it is good if you can retain that. But you are our friend and if your company found out about this in the future, you will be taken advantage as our friend. And depends on how despicable people can be, you might be in a disadvantage too, in many, possible ways,” he said.

“You mean… this is the reason why you guys are so persistent in offering me a job?”

“Yes,” Xi Men said. “All of us want you to work with one of us. This is to protect you,”

She looked at him, her jaw dropped slightly.

She finally understands why they tried so hard to offer her a job.

“Wow… I didn’t know that…”

“Now you know,” he smirks.

She smiled briefly. “To be honest…”

“Hmmm?”

“You guys are so serious just now, which is a little scary… and that takes me by surprise, since I have never seen this side of you guys before…”

He chuckled. “There’s always a first time to everything. And, we definitely have to go formal in interviews,”

She smiled. “But you guys can just do it informally and without an interview like that…”

“It is Lei’s idea to be formal and all,”

“But then again, it is refreshing to see something different about you guys,” she remained smiling.

Xi Men smiled. “So, are you going home after this?” he asked.

“Hmmm… I am not sure yet. Since I have already come out of the penthouse, I’ll probably go around a little bit before I go back later,”

“Alright then, ask Yoong to drive you wherever you want to go, okay?” he said.

She nodded again, “Yes, I will,”

“Mentioning of that; well, since you have a job now, Yoong will be busy to serve you again, and he doesn’t have to stay around the mansion and standby for your instructions,” Xi Men said.

Xiao You looked at him, “You knew…?”

“Yes. I was surprised to see him at the mansion just now. He told me you asked him to stay at mansion and he’ll only go to get you when you asked him to. And now you know this is about to change,” he said. “He’ll be fetching you to and from work now,”

She smiled. “I know,”

His smile fades slightly. “Anyway, I have to go back to office now. Can I come over tonight?”

With the smile still on her face, she nodded, “Sure,”

“Thanks,”

She remained smiling.

He extends his hand and holds onto her arm.

After he swallowed the lump in his throat, he retracts his hand, without doing anything else.

“Ah…”

She looked at him, diving his hand into his pants’ pocket.

She wondered what he is doing.

He took his wallet out, and then takes a stack of cash out of it.

Her eyes brightened up.

She knew what he is about to do.

“Since you are starting your new job in Lei’s company, you need to go and buy formal clothes, so…” after he stuffs his wallet into his pants, he stuffs the stack of cash into her hands, “You need money to buy them. Take this,”

“No, no, I am fine…”

“Please don’t reject them. This may be the last time I can give you money,” he said. “Although I will try not to,”

She paused, and then looked at him.

He smiled faintly at her, “You need to look presentable for your job. And if there’s balance from this stack, use them to support yourself for the first month. You know you won’t have any money for the first few weeks until you get paid at the end of the month, right?” he then stuffs the cash into her hand that is no longer rebelling. “If you need more, tell me,”

“Didn’t you just say… this may be the last time you can give me money…?” she asked, with the cash in her hand.

He smiled, “Yes, I know. But I have also said, ‘although I will try not to’,” he said. “And what I know is, if you have to ask me for cash, I am sure you needed money badly. So, I can resort to eat affordable sandwiches at work, to make sure you have the money,”

She lowered her gaze sadly, and then looked at the stack of cash in her hand.

“I’ll see you tonight,” he smiled.

She lifted her head up and nodded.

He then turned around.

“Ah,”

He paused upon hearing it, and turned around and looked at Xiao You again. “Hmmm?”

“I…” she said. “Can I ask something from you?”

“Sure,” he agrees without even hearing what she wants.

She bites her lower lip, “I hope it is not too much from you…”

“About?”

“Since I’ve divorced from Mark, I have not heard from him…” she said. “I want to know how is he doing…”

There is a change on Xi Men’s facial expression.

Seeing his reaction, she pressed her lips together.

Maybe she shouldn’t have asked him?

He took a deep breath and then exhaled it. “Okay,” he said.

Her eyes brightened up that he agreed to do it for her, “Thank you…”

“No problem,” he said, and now, he turns around again and walked away.

“Hmmm… I need to go and look for Ah Si and Mei Zhuo to apologize for my rudeness…” Xiao You stretched her neck to look out for them.

*****

Xi Men gets into the car and starts his engine.

He then pulled the seatbelt over him.

‘Mark.’

‘Why Mark all of a sudden?’

He took a deep breath.

“Gosh…” he muttered. “I’ve completely forgotten about him…”

He then dives his hand into his pants’ pocket and takes out his phone.

**********

“So… this is the one I should see?” Xiao You asked, pointing at the graph.

“Mm hmm,” San Chai smiled and nodded.

“Ah… I know how to see these graphs now,” Xiao You smiled, taking the newspapers up in her hand.

San Chai tilts her head, “You learn pretty fast,”

“Thanks to you, San Chai,” Xiao You smiled. “You know this, and you taught me well,”

“So, this is why you asked me out for lunch at the last minute, huh? To teach you how to read a stock trading graph?” San Chai asked.

Xiao You looked at San Chai, “Well… I hardly come out, and we haven’t eaten lunch together before… so I thought of asking you out for lunch, and at the same time to teach me how to read this since I wanna know…”

San Chai smiled, “You are right that you hardly come out, and when you did, it’s because Juliana asked you. And also… I have never said I know how to read this, but you just passed me the newspaper and asked me to show you, assuming I already know…”

“Considering the fact that you are the Finance Director of Dao Ming Corporation…”

San Chai gazes at Xiao You.

“And also Mrs. Dao Ming, I do believe you knew at least a little,” Xiao You bares her teeth.

San Chai chuckled.

“Anyway, thank you for teaching me,” Xiao You smiled, folding the newspaper in her hand.

“No problem,” San Chai said. “So, how’s your job interview today?”

Xiao You’s smile fades and looked at San Chai, “You knew about it…?”

“Of course. Ah Si is one of the interviewers there. Why wouldn’t I know?”

“Ah… you are right…” Xiao You scratched her head.

“So?”

“I… I took up Lei’s job,” Xiao You said.

San Chai smiled, “Nice! You accepted one of the jobs! That’s what all of us want you to do!”

Xiao You looked at San Chai, “You… you won’t get offended?”

“Offended? Why?”

“Because I did not take up Ah Si’s…”

“Nah,” San Chai waves her hand. “Don’t worry about it. I am sure you have your reasons why you picked Lei’s job among the three. It must have fitted you more,”

Xiao You smiled.

“Though if you have picked Ah Si’s job, I may have more chances to see you and have lunch with you…” San Chai said.

“I can still meet you up for lunch once in a while even though I am working in Lei’s company,”

“You said that,” San Chai pointed at her.

Xiao You smiled and nodded.

San Chai smiled. “Alright, when you and I are free, we can meet up for lunch,”

“Sure,” Xiao You smiled, and seconds later, her smile fades slowly to just a brief one, “San Chai, I am sorry… we haven’t actually have lunch together prior to this…”

San Chai looked at her, “Yeah, you are my best friend but you ended up having lunch with Juliana, eh?”

“Aww… she is the one that asked me out. Are you jealous?”

San Chai chuckled, “No, Xiao You. I am just kidding. Though I have to admit I am unhappy when she keeps on saying you are her best friend, when I am your best friend first before she did…”

Xiao You only smiled faintly, “If you want to know… I have never treated her as a best friend,”

“Because she is Xi Men’s wife?”

Xiao You nodded. “It’s just awkward,”

“I understand,”

“Anyway… I am sorry that I have never asked you out for lunch…”

San Chai smiled. “Well, first. Don’t say sorry to me. It has never bothered me in the first place although I have a burning desire to catch up with you. And next, actually, I should say sorry to you too. I could have called you and asked you out for lunch like how Juliana did but I didn’t. I have been occupied with my work and family… I didn’t even have time to catch up with you since you came back to Taiwan months ago,” she said. “Come to think of it. Today is the only one day that I am free to have lunch with you…”

“Oh,”

“I am so glad I finally get to have lunch with you,” San Chai said.

Xiao You smiled.

“I guess this is what marriage, having a family and being a career woman changed me to,” San Chai said.

Xiao You looked at San Chai and smiled, “You are so different now, San Chai,”

“Matured, you mean?”

Xiao You nodded.

San Chai chuckled, “You’ve matured too, Xiao You,” she said.

Xiao You smiled.

“And since you said I am different now…”

Xiao You looked at San Chai.

“…I hope you are no longer worried that I am going to be overprotective about you?” San Chai smirks.

Xiao You stares at San Chai, “Err…”

San Chai chuckled. “Yes. Jing already told me about that,”

Xiao You could only chuckle awkwardly, “Umm… about that…”

“Why, are you still afraid I am going to do that?”

“I am just embarrassed about that,”

San Chai lets out a small laugh.

“Sorry…”

“Well, don’t be sorry, Xiao You. I am indeed overprotective about you last time, so it is not a surprise that you’ll think I might still do the same. Let’s just say… I am still overprotective but… I am only doing that to my kids now?”

Xiao You smiled and then lets out a chuckle.

“We’re a decade older and we’ve matured now. I have faith in you that whatever you plan to do is the best thing you want to do for yourself. So… I am not going to intervene in whatever you are doing; and yes, that mean I am not going to be overprotective on you like I used to, but you just have to know that I am always there for you. I am just a call away,”

Xiao You’s smile grew. “Thank you,”

“And even if I can’t attend to you, you still have Jing and Xiao Qiao,”

Xiao You remained smiling and nodded.

“Anyway,” San Chai decided to change the topic, “Since you’ve learned how to read the graph… I guess, it is for Xi Men?” San Chai asked.

Xiao You looked at San Chai, and then she (Xiao You) smiled faintly. “Umm… yeah,” Xiao You said, “So I know how his stock is doing…”

San Chai smiled, and then twirls her fork on the spaghetti, “I have been hearing it from Ah Si, Jing and Lei saying that you still love Xi Men, and I see it now,”

Xiao You looked at San Chai. “I… I love… love…?”

“Well, it’s your actions. Your actions have showed it; they are simple but there’s meaning to it. And you are doing it for Xi Men. Even after so many years, you still have feelings for Xi Men, despite at one point of time, you were married to someone else,” San Chai said, and then lifts the spaghetti up for a bite.

“I…” Xiao You swallowed the lump in her throat, and it is her turn to twirl her spoon on the plate of spaghetti now.

“I guess you don’t love Mark that much,” San Chai said.

“Umm… you can’t exactly say it in that way…” Xiao You said.

San Chai looked at Xiao You as she (San Chai) munches.

“It’s just that… when I was with Mark… the feelings I have for Xi Men…” Xiao You said, continue to twirl her fork on her plate of spaghetti. “…has lessened,”

San Chai tilts her head.

“And they came back recently,” Xiao You said, looking at the fork, however did not register in her mind that the spaghetti is already twirled on her fork. “And I have been suppressing them, controlling how I feel for him,” she then smirks, “Everything is going well… but all of a sudden his company gets into trouble… so I have to step up and support him… knowing how he felt for me and knowing how much he needed me at this time…”

San Chai smiled.

“I can’t really stay away even though I want to. I am…” Xiao You suddenly paused, lifted her head up, and looked at San Chai.

San Chai looked at Xiao You, knowing Xiao You had explained things more than she should.

“I mean I am just giving him the support he needed at this tough time,” Xiao You quickly ends her statement.

Playing along and pretended as though she didn’t hear what Xiao You said, “You are right. He needed it. I have never seen Xi Men in such situation before. This is the worst he has ever been; regardless in his life or his work, they all come at the same time,” San Chai said.

“I hope you also understand they are interrelated. If he didn’t divorce Juliana, his company will not suffer today,” Xiao You said.

“His divorce will happen sooner or later, and we all know it since the day he marries her. If his father-in-law does this because of the divorce, then it means his company is bound to suffer from this sooner or later. It is inevitable,” San Chai said.

Xiao You exhaled her deep breath.

“I hope he can survive this,” San Chai said.

“I hope so too,” Xiao You said.

“I think with you around, he’ll do even better,” San Chai smiled.

Xiao You looked at San Chai.

“Because you are the support he needed in terms of mentally and emotionally; and since you are giving it to him, he’ll have all the energy and power he needed to fight this,” San Chai said.

Xiao You finds herself smiling at that.

“Ah. Eat the spaghetti. They’re getting cold,” San Chai said, with her head gesturing to the plate of spaghetti in front of Xiao You.

“Oh, okay,” Xiao You said, and lifts the fork up.


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