Conflicted – Chapter 81

“Thank you, Yoong,” Xiao You smiled and then she opened the door of the car.

After stepping out from the car, she closed the door and turned to the direction of the entrance of Hua Ze Corporation.

*Paused.

There are a couple of colleagues looking at her, near and far.

‘Crap…’ that is all she thought.

*****

“As said by Mr. Lo during our meeting yesterday, he wants to increase the premium coverage for…” Lei said, and then happened to lift his head up and looked at Xiao You. “You don’t look well, Xiao You,”

Xiao You lifted her head up and looked at Lei. “Huh?”

“Are you alright? If you are not well, do you want to take the day off and go home?” Lei asked.

“I am not unwell. I am just…” she sighed, putting down the file in her hands down on Lei’s CEO desk.

“Hmmm… looks like something is bothering you,” Lei said, putting down the file in his hands too. “I hope it is not about work?”

“Your buddy,” Xiao You uttered.

Lei immediately smirks. “I think I am slowly getting hold of this,”

“About?”

“That if you look offended or bothered, it should be something personal and not professional,” he said.

She sighed again.

“So, what about?” he asked.

“There are a number of colleagues that are looking at me this morning…”

Lei frowned, “I thought you said it was Xi Men… and now, suddenly you are talking about my employees?”

“I mean… do you know what happened yesterday when I was to go home?” Xiao You looked at Lei.

Lei looked at Xiao You, “Something happened?”

“Your buddy came to your office’s entrance, parked his Bentley right there, and waited for me, to pick me up,” Xiao You said.

Lei continued to look at Xiao You, and then he smirks, “Okay, so?”

“I have been trying to avoid that! I asked Yoong to drop and pick me so far away from the entrance, so that no one will know I go to work sent by a chauffeur with a car that belongs to him! Xi Men sends me the flower, and then picked me up personally with such an expensive car! He ruined all the things I have been trying to keep low!”

Lei folded his hands on his chest. “Hmmm…?”

“We have some conversations at the entrance last night about not wanting to take his ride, and I was trying to get rid of him. Seriously, I don’t want to be associated with him! But…” she sighed. “It did not work out the way I wanted to. Lots of staffs saw us at the entrance last night,”

Lei’s gaze strayed momentarily.

“And this morning… I think something has spread around…” Xiao You adds.

“Oh,”

Xiao You then looked at Lei, she then leaned nearer to the desk, “Do you think you could do something for me?”

“Something?” he asked. “Which is?”

“Can you please try to find out what are they talking about me?” Xiao You asked.

“You mean… what my employees are talking about?” Lei asked.

“Yeah,”

Lei’s eyes strayed. “Hmmm… interesting,” he nodded briefly.

“What about?”

“My staff asking me to do things for her,” Lei said, and then he laughed.

“Oh,” Xiao You sits back as she is suddenly reminded that Lei is NOT a friend here in the office, “I am sorry. I… I…”

“Nah. Don’t worry about it. I think it is interesting to find out what they are talking about you too,” he smiled.

Xiao You just bites her lips.

*****

“Alright, I have written your instruction down, CEO Hua Ze,” Susan said, glancing at the notepad for a while, before she then looked at Lei again.

“Okay. That is good,” Lei said.

“If there is no more…”

“There is,” Lei is quick to add.

“Oh, what is it, sir?” Susan asked.

“I am sure you heard something about Xiao You today,” Lei said, looking at his secretary.

Susan is taken aback, as she looked at Lei.

“Care to tell me all that you have heard?” Lei smiled.

*****

Sensing someone seemingly walking towards her desk, Xiao You, who is suddenly utterly conscious with her surroundings, lifted her head up and looked.

‘Oh.’

‘My.’

‘Gosh.’

Not again.

“Xiao You,” the receptionist stood in front of Xiao You and said.

Xiao You could only look at the bouquet of flowers in the receptionist’s hands.

“You have flowers again today,” the receptionist extends it to her.

Xiao You exhaled her deep breath, and she hesitantly accepts the flowers, “Thank you,”

“You are welcome,” the receptionist said, “It is very beautiful,”

Xiao You could only force a smile on her face upon hearing that, and the receptionist then walked away.

Xiao You’s smile fades immediately and then she looked at the bouquet of flowers in her hands.

She lifted the folded card up… and looked at the message.

‘How long is he going to do this…?’ she thought to herself.

RING!

Xiao You turned her head to the deskphone, and she reached for it.

Xiao You: Hello?

Lei: Xiao You, can you come over to my room now?

Xiao You: Oh, okay. Sure.

She puts down the phone receiver and then puts the flowers properly, before she rose to her feet and heads to Lei’s room.

***

Xiao You sits down on the seat in front of Lei’s desk.

“So…”

“Xi Men just sent me another bouquet of flowers,” Xiao You interrupts him.

Lei looked at Xiao You, “Another?”

Xiao You nodded. “Yes. Right at my desk now,”

Lei nodded briefly, “Okay,”

She exhaled a deep breath and then looked at him.

“So… may I know why do you call me…?” Xiao You asked, “Ah, shit. I forgot my notepad,” she rose to her feet and turned around, wanting to head to the door.

“I don’t think you want to write down what everyone here is talking about you,”

Xiao You paused, and turned her head again, looking straight at Lei.

**********

Xi Men lifted his hand up and looked at the time on his wrist watch, and then he gazes to the right, looking straight at the entrance.

***

Xiao You walked out from the lift absent-mindedly as the conversation she has with Lei plays in her mind.

Colleagues around her looked at her and her bouquet of roses, and some begin to whisper with each other, and nudged at each other for whatever reason it is.

Xiao You heads to the entrance…

***

Ah.

That’s the person he loves.

He smiles upon seeing her walking to the entrance.

***

Xiao You walked to the door, unaware of a red Maserati parked at the entrance.

As soon as she gets closer to the entrance, Xi Men rolled down the window.

He smiles at the sight of her, but then…

She didn’t catch his gaze or anything.

She just walked on her own…

She didn’t notice him?

He decided to call out to her, so he leaned nearer to the passenger seat, “Xiao You,”

Xiao You is startled at the calling, and then looked straight at Xi Men, in the red car right in front of her, where she had halted her steps.

This is when Xiao You began looking at the car parked right there, from the front to the back.

Another expensive car.

And out of all colors; shocking red.

She took a deep breath and then exhaled it.

“Did you come to pick me up again?” she asked.

He smiled and nodded. “Yes,”

“Don’t you have anything to do? I thought your company is still in midst of recovery,” she said.

He looked at her, “I wouldn’t come if I am not free, right?” he said.

She looked at him, exhaled another deep breath and then rolled her eyes.

“Let’s go for dinner,” he smiled.

Not caring much about everyone around that are looking at Xiao You, who is standing outside of Xi Men’s car, Xiao You just extended her hand and reached for the door, pulling it open.

He smiled.

It is so much easier to get her into the car today, eh?

She gets into the car and closed the door.

Xi Men smiled. “Do you want me to help you put the bouquet of roses at the backseat?” he asked.

After hearing that, Xiao You passes the flowers to him without expressing her gratitude to his offer.

Xi Men puts the bouquet of roses at the backseat while she buckles her seatbelt.

And after that, he engaged the car into the Drive mode and drives, leaving the driveway.

Silence.

He gazes at the bouquet of roses via the back mirror. “This florist is good. The flowers are nice,”

“Why are you wasting your money to buy another bouquet, when the one you bought yesterday has not begun to wilt yet?”

“So, do I have to wait for the flowers to wilt before buying you another bouquet?” he asked.

“No. You don’t have to wait. In fact, you don’t have to do anything. Don’t buy me flowers anymore,” she said.

“That’s what you said yesterday as well,” he smiled.

“Xi Men, I really…” she sighed.

He continues driving with a smile on his face.

“Are you really going to continue doing this everyday?” she asked.

“Hmmm… maybe,” he smirks.

She exhaled her deep breath in frustration, “Xi Men… please, please stop doing this… I have told you before, I am not going to be with you. I am not going to accept you,” she said.

“We have this conversation before. I hope you don’t need me to repeat that I will not give up,” he said, gazes over to her.

She sighed. “You are making me very, very uncomfortable,”

“Uncomfortable?” he gazes at her, “Explain where and how it is making you uncomfortable,”

She swallowed the lump in her throat. “Do you know what kind of rumors or messages have been going around in the office today?”

“Rumors or messages? Interesting,”

She stares at him, unimpressed.

“Anyway, what are they?” he asked.

“All those that I didn’t want to happen have already happened,” she said. “Speculations that you are going after me with the sight of flowers and that you came and pick me up yesterday,”

Xi Men just smirks.

“And they also said I get into Hua Ze Corporation because of you,”

“Oh,”

“And this morning… a new one came up,” she adds.

“A new one?” he asked.

“Pretty much everyone says you and I are seeing each other,” she said.

Xi Men’s smirk grew.

“Because they saw the car I come to work with. It is your car,” she uttered.

“Hmmm… alright,” he replied simply.

She didn’t say a thing anymore.

He glances over to her briefly, and that she is looking straight to the view outside of the car.

He straightened his gaze to focus on the road, “Is that the reason why it seems so easy to get you into my car just now?”

She turned to look at him. “Easy?”

“Compare to yesterday,” he smiled, giving her a glance again.

‘Damn that smile.’

‘So handsome,’

‘Too damn handsome,’

‘Why is he so damn handsome?’

“Looks like there’s nowhere to run, huh? Why don’t you just face it instead of trying to avoid?” he asked, returning his gaze to the road.

She looked at him, “I hope you know you are the one causing me this?”

“So? Even if we are not together, our friendship is not a crime, and there is no need to hide about that. People will know someday after all,” he said, remained looking straight to the road as he drives. “And what can you do about all that had happened now?”

She dropped her gaze briefly.

After exhaling a deep breath, she lifted her gaze up.

“Can I propose something to you?” she swallowed the lump in her throat after saying that.

“Propose?” he asked.

“That I suggest if you take up my idea, you shall stop doing all of this and… we’ll just maintain what we have with each other,” she said. “And… let me go,”

He is surprised; he turned and looked at her, “Let YOU go?”

“Drive,” she pointed to the road.

Xi Men immediately returned his gaze to the road. “What do you mean ‘let you go’, Xiao You?” he asked, still shocked, as he looked at the road.

“You… you disallow me to leave the country, right?” she asked.

His eyes widened.

He had forgotten about this wish of hers.

Blood rushed to his head.

A lot of thoughts came to him now.

And things suddenly piled up in his mind.

“So, if you take this…” she continues.

‘No, I can’t drive like this anymore,’ he thought to himself.

He suddenly swerved the car and parked it at the roadside, terrifies Xiao You, and even cuts her from talking, with that sudden and dangerous swerving.

As soon as he engaged his handbrake, he turned his head to look at her, giving her his full attention now, “What did you just say? That if I take up that idea that you will present, and not only I have to stop pursuing you, but I have to let you leave the country too?”

She looked at him, somehow petrified with his stare at her. She swallowed the lump in her throat. “I…”

“Don’t you like what you are having now? You get to start all over. You have a job, and I make sure you have money to use! Why do you want to leave this place?!” he raised his voice, clearly unhappy about what she had just said.

“Don’t you know this is not what I want from the first day?!” she asked, raising her voice too.

“You wanted to start anew!”

“I wanted to start anew away from you!”

He looked at her, stunned, and not knowing what to say anymore.

He took deep breaths, one after another.

“You didn’t let me leave. That is why I stay back here,” she said. “Because I have no choice,”

“Do you think your life will be different if you leave?” he asked. “Will it be better than this?”

She looked away and swallowed the lump in her throat, “That, I don’t know,”

He straightened his head, “Back then,” his hand gripped onto the steering wheel tightly, “I can’t let you leave the country is because I know you are trying to avoid me, and that I am married,”

She turned to look at him.

He turned to look at her, meeting her in her eyes, “And now… I am divorced. I am going after you, because it is you I want to be with. And… you still want to leave the country?” he asked, “I know it’s because of Juliana and Mark, that you could not accept me, which I already felt it is ridiculous but I put up with it anyway, and I said I will do all I can to win you, but… Xiao You, I do not have a wife anymore. Do you, for some reason, despise me that much that you still want to leave the country? Still?”

She clenched her teeth as she looked at him.

“Xiao You, I love you. And I know you love me too. Why isn’t this working for us?!” he asked. “And… if that is not enough to break me from your opinion to NOT be with me because of Juliana and Mark… so… you are going to do that to me by wanting to leave?”

She looked at him. She didn’t know such thing could break him down.

She knew how much she meant to him.

She also understands why he blocks her from leaving the country.

He took multiple deep breaths.

“I… I haven’t… tell you the proposal…” she said.

“Proposal? Do you need to tell me the proposal, when you already voiced out the intention to leave?” he asked.

“I… I didn’t say I am leaving. I am just…”

“Just? Just what? Just say it for fun or something?”

She noted how upset he is. “I am sorry…” she said.

He looked at her, (he) breathing furiously. He then lets out a deep breath from his mouth before swallowing the lump in his throat, and he closed his eyes.

“Xi Men… we already know where both of us are heading, I don’t want you to waste your time, effort and money anymore…” she said. “So I wanted to propose something to you… so that you can end this with ease and move on…”

He opened his eyes and looked at her, “I don’t care if I am wasting them! I just want to be with you! And wasting time, effort and money is not part of your concern after all!” he said. “How can…!”

Xiao You lowered her head slightly.

He exhaled a deep breath and forcefully calms himself down, “Fine. You said if I take it up, then I shall let you go. I have not heard of your proposal yet. Since you said it is a proposal, it means I don’t necessarily have to accept it,” he said.

She pressed her lips together.

He then looked at her, “What is it,” he said.

She swallowed the lump in her throat, “12 years ago…”

He frowned.

“We spent 3 days together,”

His gaze changed.

“I think you’d remember those three days,” she uttered.

He looked at her.

Of course he remembers!

That’s the best 3 days he had in his life!

She swallowed the lump in her throat, “I can give you three days again. We can spend our time together, just like what we have back then,”

His facial expression changed entirely.

3 days.

He looked at her.

Such a… temptation.

“In return, after the 3 days ended, you have to stop pursuing me and you have to let me go,”

He gritted his teeth. “So… you mean, after 3 days, you will leave the country… and you will leave me?”

She clasped her hands together. “About both of us… we will be friends, as I have told you, I can’t accept you,” she said. “And… about leaving the country…”

She immediately thought about how far she has come right here, right now…

If not for Xi Men’s unreasonable order to block her from leaving the country, her parents have to stop traveling around the world for her.

And she probably wouldn’t have what she has now…

She has to admit that decision Xi Men made for her had brought her to where she is today…

“I have no intention to leave the country now,” she said.

“Now? Did you say ‘now’? So, that means, you can leave the country anytime when you want, right?” he said. “And that also includes ‘later’ or ‘tomorrow’, right?”

That probably gives her an idea instead…

It means she can leave anytime when she feels like it.

“I am right, isn’t it?” he asked, interrupting her thought.

“Maybe. But I said I have no plans to leave the country now. NOW,” she looked at him. “What I know is that I don’t want to hold onto the thoughts that I can’t leave the country even for vacation or to visit my parents. I don’t want to go to you and ask you for permission and to have you to lift the instruction up in order for me to leave the country. Why do you have to make me feel like you are guarding me? Why do you make me feel like I have to ask you for permission to even take a step or do a thing; anything? I don’t like the thought that I am like a bird trapped in a cage. Do you get me?”

He looked straight at her.

He knew she had never liked the idea of being hold back in the country.

He knew it so damn long ago.

He straightened his gaze to look at the road ahead.

His grip on the steering wheel tightens.

“In simplicity. No. I don’t want you to leave me. I can’t take it. Don’t you even think about it. I won’t take the offer,” he said, engaging the car into the Drive mode now and drives off.


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