Conflicted – Chapter 70

Xiao You watches Xi Men, who is sitting in front of her, munching silently.

She could see that he is depressed…

“Green tea, master, Miss Yang?”

That sudden calling startled both Xi Men and Xiao You.

She is watching him.

And Xi Men is into munching.

Both of them aren’t aware of anything at all.

Both of them looked at the maid that had approached them with a tray, with two cups of tea.

“Yes, thank you,” Xi Men said.

The maid puts down the tea.

“Thank you,” Xiao You smiled at her.

She knew everyone must have known her name by now… thru Yoong.

Noticing they haven’t talked to each other for a while…

“You took green tea when you eat Japanese food,” Xi Men said.

Xiao You looked at Xi Men.

He is already taking the cup up for a sip.

“There’s brown rice tea too,” Xiao You said.

Xi Men looked at her, and then he smiled, “Genmaicha?”

Xiao You nodded. “It’s good,”

He smiled, “So, you like brown rice tea?”

“I do,” Xiao You said.

“I don’t have it here though,” Xi Men said.

“No worries. Green tea is okay with me,” she smiled.

Xi Men smiled.

“But, other than green tea and genmaicha, you can take other drinks too,” Xiao You said

Xi Men looked at her, “Hmmm?”

“Soda,”

Upon hearing it, Xi Men chuckled, and then covers his mouth before he accidentally lets the rice out from his mouth.

“But you can take coffee too,”

“Huh?” he asked her.

She nodded.

“Coffee with this?” he asked, pointing at the sushi.

“Why not?”

“Umm… usually… it’s tea…”

“Usually, you said. But there’s no definite rule that says I must take tea, right? If I want to have coffee, why can’t I?” she asked. “So, if that is what I want, I’ll take it,”

He looked at her.

She smiled at him.

He smiled back, and then lets out a small laugh, “You are definitely unique,”

“Thank you!” she said.

He chuckled this time.

After seeing how stressed he was earlier… seeing he smiles even for a while is a nice change… although she knew very well, beneath the smile, it’s pain.

A pain that only he will understand and also relieve himself from.

She understands how greatly this crisis affects him.

As a man who has never encountered failure, he doesn’t know how to deal with it.

But isn’t this incident a little too great for him?

Not like Mark…

He…

She paused.

=====

*Flashback.

“He’s leaving in two days,”

“Two days?” Xiao You asked, surprised. “Where is he going to?”

“Japan,” Xi Men said. “His flight is 4pm, if you want to know,”

*Flashback ended.

=====

‘Two days… it’s today,’

She lifted her head up.

And then she gazes to the time on her wristwatch.

12.45pm.

Xi Men happened to look at her, and caught her looking at the time on her wristwatch.

“Anything?” he asked.

She looked at him. “Oh, nothing,” she smiled. “Just wanna know what time it is,”

“Oh,” he said.

He reached for the cup and takes a sip of the hot green tea.

BEEP.

*Frowned.

Who would have messaged him at this time on a Sunday?

He puts the cup down, and then picked up his smartphone and takes a look at the name of the sender of the message.

Mark.

‘Mark?’

Xi Men’s eyes strayed now.

Why would Mark texted him now?

Mark: Remember to transfer USD$250,000 to me later. You promised.

Xi Men’s eyes brightened up.

This…

He remembers now.

Mark is leaving today at 4pm.

Xi Men looked at Xiao You who is eating her sushi, looking calm… and not bothered.

In mere 2 seconds, while munching the sushi in her mouth, she lifted her eyes up and looked at Xi Men. “Hmmm?” she asked with her mouth stuffed.

“Do… do you remember that Mark is leaving today?” he asked.

Distinct change of facial expression is displayed on Xiao You’s face.

She slows down in munching her food, “I… I know,”

“Do you want to go and see Mark?”

Go and see Mark?

Xiao You’s face went pale at the thought of it.

“I…” she uttered.

“He is leaving today. If you don’t go and see him today, you’ll never see him again,” Xi Men said.

She eventually stops munching.

Her facial expression worries Xi Men.

“If you want to go and see him, go,” he said.

She just looked at him.

He drops the chopsticks and suddenly beginning to pack the sushi boxes up.

What is he doing?

“It takes one hour to go to the airport from here. You need to leave now. And eat this on the way. I don’t want you to be hungry,” Xi Men said, putting the boxes of sushi into the plastic bag.

“Xi Men, no,” Xiao You said, extending her hand out and grabs his hand, stopping him. “Stop,”

Xi Men looked at Xiao You. “You don’t have time…”

“I am not going to see him,” she interrupts him.

He looked at her intently.

“I don’t want to see him,” Xiao You said, begins munching the food in her mouth.

“Are you… sure?” he asked.

She took the boxes from his hand and out from the plastic bag, “There is no need to see him,” she said, swallowing the food and she is now opening the boxes again.

“Re… really?” he asked.

“Yes. It is just bringing back bad memories,” she uttered.

RING!

Both Xi Men and Xiao You turned their heads to the direction of Xiao You’s handbag, where her smartphone is in.

Xiao You dives her hand into the handbag and takes out her phone.

She looked at the name of the caller, and her eyes widened.

Seeing her widened eyes on the phone in her hand, Xi Men asked, “Who is it?”

“Ma… Mark,” Xiao You stammered, before she slowly showed the screen to Xi Men.

Xi Men looked at the screen, and then back at Xiao You, who looks undecided at this moment.

“Don’t pick it up if you didn’t want to,” Xi Men said.

“Since divorced… he had never called me…” Xiao You said. “But… maybe he calls to say goodbye…” she looked at Xi Men.

Seeing Xiao You’s reaction breaks him.

“Do what you feel like doing,” he said.

The phone keeps on ringing.

And ringing.

And ringing.

Xiao You lowered her gaze to the phone’s screen.

She took a deep breath and also swallowed the lump in her throat.

She gathered her courage and then pressed the ‘Answer’ button.

Xiao You: Hello.

Mark: Hi.

Xiao You slowly stands up and then moves away from the table while Xi Men watches.

Xiao You: Hi.

She walks to the garden, standing approximately of 8 steps away from Xi Men.

Xi Men then took up his cup of his green tea for a sip while his eyes are at Xiao You.

Mark: Took you a while to pick up the phone. Busy?

Xiao You (smirks): Yeah. (and then swallowed the lump in her throat again)

Mark: Oh. How… how are you?

Xiao You: I’m fine. What about you?

Mark: Still alive.

Xiao You pressed her lips together for 2 seconds.

Xiao You: How’s everything?

Mark: Not very well. Ah Si didn’t take up my system. And I am leaving. Umm, I am calling to tell you that I am leaving today. My flight is at 4pm.

Xiao You’s left hand slowly crosses in front of her chest and then squeezed her right shoulder.

Xiao You: I heard.

Mark: You mean you knew?

Xiao You: Yeah.

Mark: I guess, Xi Men told you then.

Xiao You (clenched her teeth): Mm hmm.

Mark (smirks): Sounds like both of you are pretty close.

Xiao You: We meet up once in a while.

Mark (slight change of tone): So, who is Xi Men to you?

Xiao You (answers with no hesitation): Friend.

Mark: Friend? Really?

Xiao You’s eyes strayed slightly.

‘Did he know about my past with Xi Men…?’

Xiao You: Yes. Friend.

Mark: Just friend? And nothing more than that?

Xiao You: What do you mean by that?

She had uttered that statement slightly louder, and Xi Men heard it; causing him to turn his head to look at her.

Mark: I notice he cares about you, very, very much. He is protective too. Are you sure both of you and him are just friends? Or did he divorce his wife because of you?

Xiao You: Don’t you go overboard with your words!

That caused Xi Men to stand up.

Mark: Okay. Since you say so. If he just ‘cares’ about you, I hope he will do a good job to continue doing that to you at this tough period. His company’s crisis is all over the news. Pretty sure it will tap into his personal life, just like how it happened to me; sooner or later. And after that, it’s going to crumble. I hope he will not ask you to leave because he can’t cope with his crisis, eh.

Xiao You (displeased immediately): Crumble? What on earth have you become, Mark? Don’t you wish for a slightest hope for someone else, just like how you have in yours? How can you curse or wish for someone up to that stage? If that is how you want it to; then a company that has to crumble would have been yours first since yours has been in a rut for such a long time. And for your information, it does not matter to me if he cares or not. I don’t need him. I can do everything on my own. I am going to start working anyway. I am good on my own. So you don’t have to f*cking worry. Worry about yourself more.

Mark: Did you just curse me? Did you just wish for the worst for me? My company is all I have, Xiao You, and you are saying that to me? Aren’t you supposed to understand my predicament better than anyone else?

Xiao You: You started it first, so I am telling you exactly the things you have said. Is it nice to hear? Everyone needs to have that glimpse of hope. Just like how I have in yours. Has he offended you somehow, that you wished for the worst for him?

Mark: Offend? I think that is an understatement. And why are you so protective now? For a friend? Really?

Xiao You: I’d rather protect him now than protect you. At least he is a friend. You are not.

Mark: Then who am I?

Xiao You (gritted her teeth): You are nobody. You are nothing to me.

Mark: No… nobody? Nothing?

Xiao You: You called to say you are leaving, right? Go. Leave. We’re never going to talk to each other again. You want my wishes? Sure. Safe flight.

Xiao You hangs up the call.

Seeing she had lowered the phone down, Xi Men rose to his feet and hurriedly walked towards her.

He looked at her phone, just to make sure the call has been terminated.

“Are you… alright?” Xi Men asked.

Tears formed in Xiao You’s eyes as she looked at the screen of her smartphone that bears nothing.

“So… that’s going to be the last conversation I have with him,” she slowly smirks, lifting her head up and looked at him. “Not very pleasant…”

He extends his right hand and gently holds her arm.

“He sounds different now,” Xiao You uttered. “That’s not the Mark I know. He… he sounds like an odious man now…”

Xi Men didn’t know what to say.

“But… his mean words are directed to you,”

“Me?” Xi Men asked.

“Yes. It sounds like he hates you,” she sniffs.

Xi Men lowered his gaze for a while, and then lifted it up and looked at her, and he squeezed her arm. “I am not surprised. I make him divorce you. Maybe that is why he resents me,” he smiled faintly, “Truthfully, he is not the only person that hates me in the world. So it does not concern me,” he said, slowly raising his other free hand up, “As long as you don’t resent me, that’s all matter,” he caressed her jaw line.

She smiled faintly. “Actually, I do hate you because you don’t let me leave the country… but I don’t know where they (*the hatred in her) had all gone to for the past week…”

He smiled. “Thank you, for your willingness to be there for me at this crucial time…”

She remained smiling with the pool of tears in her eyes. “Can I have a hug?”

“Sure,” he said, pulling her towards him and then he embraced her.

With her head buried in his chest and her hands wrapped around his waist, the earlier conversation replays in her mind.

—–

“I’d rather protect him now than protect you. At least he is a friend. You are not,”

“Then who am I?” Mark asked in the phone.

She gritted her teeth, “You are nobody. You are nothing to me,”

“No… nobody? Nothing?”

—–

‘Because you cheat on me. You broke my heart. You don’t have a place in my heart anymore.’ she thought in her mind.

Xiao You suddenly tightened the hug, and that takes Xi Men by surprise.

In mere seconds, she suddenly starts shaking in the embrace.

Xi Men lowered his head down to look at her, “Xiao…” he paused, because almost immediately, he heard her sobbing.

And so, apparently she shakes because of her cries.

Without saying anything anymore, he hugs her, tightly and rubbing her back.

**********

Part of him wonders if he should be glad, and the other part of him wonders if he should feel vexed.

If Xiao You had not come to the mansion, he wouldn’t know Mark called her and thru the conversation, leaves her upset and emotionally drained. And he’s there for her.

But if she had not come, he wouldn’t know, and thus, he can continue working, right?

He worries so much about her, he ends up forgoing his work and tends to her, making sure she is alright.

After the good cry, she puts a smile on her face, and then continues their lunch.

After that, she told him she wants to go back to the penthouse, and he fetched her home.

He did not just fetch her back to the penthouse, he ends up staying there, just wanted to make sure Xiao You is okay.

Clearly, he is not good with multi-tasking.

Either his mind is filled with her, OR filled with the thought of his work.

Never both at the same time.

Although Xiao You didn’t talked much now, but he noticed she didn’t dwell much in it, and slowly, she’s having her smile back on her face.

At least he isn’t so worried about her now.

Standing at the balcony of the penthouse at 9pm, alone, he brings the cigarette to his lips for a puff.

He lowered his gaze briefly and then looked at the text message he had received several hours ago on his smartphone.

Mark: I have received the money. You really live up to your words.

He performed a transfer of USD$250,000 to Mark’s account at 3pm after confirmation from William that Mark has checked in into the airline system as well as there is an entry logged into the immigration system, so Xi Men is confirmed that Mark is leaving before he transfers the money over.

Xi Men took a deep breath and then exhaled it, while his gaze is fixed on the smartphone while thoughts run in his mind.

*Click to quit screen.

*Scrolls on page.

*Click.

*Press.

He then puts the smartphone on his ear.

“Hi. Sorry for calling at this time,” Xi Men said, lowering his head briefly. “I would like you to do something for me,”

He then swallowed the lump in his throat.

“Please put up my private island for sale,” he said. “Sure. Thank you,”

He then lowered the phone and hangs up the call.

Staring at the screen, he then took a deep breath.

“Can’t believe I am selling it…” he murmured.

Seconds later, he lifted his head up and looked at the view in front of him, feeling the cold breeze blowing to his face.

Suddenly, he appreciates the beautiful view in front of him.

He had never seen it in this light.

Is it because… subconsciously, he might lose this penthouse if he never recovers from the crisis?

“Do I have to choose either losing the mansion or this penthouse later?” he asked himself as he brings the cigarette to his lips for a puff.

His head begins to hurt.

He exhaled the smoke, before he slowly lowers his body to an angle where he could put his left elbow down and uses the same hand to support his forehead while his right hand holds onto the cigarette.

He closed his eyes and then squeezes his nasal bridge.

So stressed…

‘Gosh…’

‘What am I supposed to do to survive this crisis?’

‘What can I do?’

‘What should I do?’

‘Why does it seem that I can’t get out from this?’

And then out of nowhere, the conversation he has with Xiao You 2 days ago replays in his mind…


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10 thoughts on “Conflicted – Chapter 70

  1. hope xm company recovery soon….
    its pretty strees up for him, hope he is doimg well, and not give up….

    see you next week ann,
    enjoy your trip and Happy b’day…

    I hope you’ll find inpiration for your next story….;-)

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