One month later. 18th. Grand Maple Imperial Hotel’s Ballroom. 7pm.
‘Zhu Corporation 22nd Anniversary Annual Dinner & Dance’
These few words are pasted on the stage in the ballroom.
“Wow… this ballroom is nice…” Barbie, with her hand hooked in Jerry’s arm said.
Jerry smiled. “Yes, it is. Many functions were held here, and I have been hosting a couple of events here as well,” he looked at Barbie.
“So you guys attended Ken’s company’s annual dinner every year?” Barbie asked.
“Nope. I have never attended any of Ken’s annual dinner. This is our first time. Company annual dinners are strictly for staffs. It’s still his company’s annual dinner, and me, Vic or Vanness is not their employees. But this year I am not sure why we are invited though, maybe they want a bit of changes,”
“Then maybe we’ll be invited for many years to come,” Barbie said.
“Probably,” Jerry smiled. “You like attending such event?”
“If not for work, of course,” she smiled. “I mean, for work, I’m fine, but if I attend these kinds of functions aside from work, then yes, I like it even more,”
“Hey,” someone patted Jerry’s shoulder.
Jerry turned. “Hey, Vanness,” he then looked at Vic standing next to Vanness. “Hey, Vic, you both are here already,”
“Hey,” Vic responded.
“What, you both are each other’s partner?” Jerry asked, pointing at Vanness and Vic.
Vanness and Vic turned, staring at each other and immediately jumped away.
Barbie and Jerry laughed at their reaction.
“Shit you, Jerry!” Vanness and Vic yelled.
Jerry stopped laughing. “I was just joking. So where’s Pace and Winnie?” he asked.
“Pace wants to go to the ladies so Winnie accompanied her. So we both come to the ballroom first,” Vic said.
“Oh, okay,” Jerry said.
“Barbie, you look fantastic,” Vic smiled. Vanness nodded in agreement.
Barbie is clad in a blue off-shoulder satin dinner dress. “Thanks, and you guys look so handsome,” she said, looking at them clad in their tux, the exact same ones they wore for Ken’s wedding… to which Ken did not turn up, and right now is called off.
“Thank you,” Vic and Vanness said.
“So… what are we supposed to do now…” Vanness frowned.
The three guys and Barbie looked at the ballroom which is attended by the staffs and their spouse.
“We looked like the odd ones,” Vic turned looking at Vanness and Jerry, “‘Cause we are not the employees of Zhu Corporation,”
“True,” Jerry and Vanness agreed.
“Why not we look for Ken?” Barbie asked.
“Good idea,” Jerry, Vanness and Vic said. And then they looked at each other for their unanimous response.
Barbie laughed. “Just call him. There’s so many people here we won’t be able to locate him,”
Jerry fished his own cell phone out of his pants and dialed for Ken’s number.
Vanness suddenly jumped and all of them turned and looked at what is happening. Apparently Pace and Winnie are behind Vanness, and Pace poked on Vanness’ waist. Pace and Winnie closed their mouth and tries hard to not laugh out loud seeing Vanness’ reaction.
“Dear… Don’t do that again!” Vanness said.
Pace laughed and then she hooked her hand into Vanness’ arm.
Pace is clad in a maroon colored deep V dinner dress that is enough to make men drool.
“Pace, you look great,” Jerry said.
“Thanks,” Pace smiled.
And Winnie is wearing a very elegant halter top black and white dinner dress.
“And Winnie, you look fabulous,” Jerry said.
“Many thanks,” Winnie smiled.
Jerry placed the phone on his ear and then waited for the other end to pick up. The phone rings for a while and no one is picking it up.
“Hmm…” Jerry mumbled, as he still is waiting for Ken to pick up. “Why is this dude not picking up?”
They then saw Winnie hooked her hand on the awaiting-to-be-hooked arm of Vic.
Vanness, Jerry, Pace and Barbie looked at them.
“This is not any movie premier,” Vanness said.
“She’s my partner,” Vic said, rolling his eyes.
“Partner? Oh well, expected anyway,” Jerry said, while still holding the phone to his ear.
“Then why stare at me!” Vic said.
“I also expect she is your partner but I didn’t realize that she will hook her hand into yours,” Vanness smirked.
“So you are expecting her to stand one foot away from me and that is what you call as partner?” Vic asked.
“Anything, dude. Anything,” Jerry and Vanness said together and rolled their eyes.
“Stop calling. I’m here already,” someone said.
All of them turned and looked at Ken clad in his tuxedo and a red tie standing behind him.
“Hi everyone. Ladies looked gorgeous and guys looked normal,” Ken smiled.
“Hey!” Vic, Jerry and Vanness said.
Barbie, Pace and Winnie laughed, “Thanks…” they continued laughing.
“That is not the answer I am expecting!” Vanness said.
“You want me to say you look stunning? I’m not gay,” Ken said.
“I’ll strangle you if we are not in public…” Jerry said.
“So, I’m very fortunate we are in public,” Ken smiled.
“But hey… seriously, your tux looks… looks very nice on you. This is not the same tux you wear to… last time?” Jerry asked Ken, referring ‘last time’ to the ‘wedding’.
“Oh. Nope. I’ve donated that tux away since it is for ‘that’ event. This is a new tux. I asked a tailor to tailor-made a tux for me. Besides, that old tux… it looks a bit huge for me,” he said.
“Well, yeah. I hope someone has told you before that you’ve slim down,” Vic said.
“Yes, my mom,” Ken said.
“But come to think of it… you do slim down and look better now without that big tummy of yours,” Vanness said.
“Sounds like a sarcasm to me, but I’ll take it as a compliment,” Ken smirked.
“Why, you’re so stressed at work?” Jerry asked.
“Mostly busy. Sometimes I only eat sandwich,” Ken said.
“Are you slimming down for some reason?” Pace asked.
Ken laughed. “No, but it’s been quite a while that I am constantly being teased for being fat by these kids,” he pointed at the guys. “I am glad now I look and feel good too,” he smirked.
“KIDS YOUR HEAD!” the guys yelled.
“Okay, anyway, let’s go to our place. I have reserved a table for us so we won’t be sitting with people you don’t know,” Ken said.
“Ken, aren’t you a manager? You should sit with…” Vic said.
“Not necessary. I brought my buddies. So, I want to sit with my friends. And hey, I get us a very good table,” Ken smiled as he tucked his hand into his pants and they walked to a table that can view the stage clearly.
There is a big, empty space in the middle of the ballroom, in front of the stage.
“Why is there an empty space?” Barbie asked.
“We have performances. The stage is not big enough. And since this is dinner and dance theme, of course there is a session where everyone can dance there,” Ken said, and then he threw his back of his palm gently to Vanness’ chest. Vanness looked at him. “Mr. Dancer can dance there,”
Vanness laughed, “What, me? Dancing at your company’s annual dinner?”
“No hip hop. Only ballroom dancing, or, if you want to add in last minute’s performance, you can request for it. If you do, then you can do whatever you want including monkey dance,” Ken said.
“What the hell is monkey dance?” Vic asked.
“You know? Scratching armpits and something?” Ken laughed.
Everyone laughed while Vanness glared at him though he partially laughed at the crap.
“But right after you do that, please leave and don’t come back to me. I don’t want to know you or have any association with you,” Ken added and then he laughed.
“You know what, I’ll strangle you if we are not in public. Just like what Jerry said,” Vanness said.
“You know I’m just kidding,” Ken said as he sat down, and joined by his friends.
“How many tables are there?” Pace asked as she looked around.
“Not too sure about the exact amount because we leave it to the event management department to do, but roughly around 220 tables. Expecting around 2000 people,” Ken said.
“Wow, that is a lot,” Vic said.
“We have around 1000 staffs and we invite their spouses too. We are also expecting full arrival. My dad and I have friends as well to attend this dinner. Each table accommodates 10 people. Tables will be added or removed depending on total attendees. These are all fully managed by our event management department,” Ken said.
“Nice…” Vic said, looking around the grand ballroom.
“Where’s your partner, Ken?” Pace asked.
Ken smirked. “I don’t have partner tonight,”
“Why not? I bet there are many friends you want to bring or accompany you for this dinner,” Vanness said. “You know, maybe artists from Actors’ Studio?”
Ken shook. “I am not interested to bring them,”
“Not even one caught your interest?” Jerry asked.
“Nope,” Ken answered shortly. “So I prefer to come alone,”
“I guess there is only one person you want to bring as your partner,” Barbie said, and all looked at her, including Ken. “Are you waiting for her?” she asked, with everyone knows who she meant by ‘her’.
Ken smiled, he turned and casually asked Winnie, “Any news from Rainie since our last talk?”
“It’s been more than a month since Rainie is gone. There is no news from her besides that ONE email that I told you about,” Winnie said.
“What email was that?” Jerry asked.
“She’s no longer in Singapore. She just left suddenly,” Vic said.
“I wanted to look for her that time when Winnie told me about it,” Ken said. “She just can’t wait for me to have a moment of free time to look for her,”
“I guess she just doesn’t want to be found, and that she knows if I know her whereabouts, I could tell Ken her address, and then she will be found,” Winnie said.
“No offence but I share the same thought with Winnie,” Pace said, looking at Ken and then at Winnie. “Last week I was told that Rainie has sent an email to Dan, her current manager in the modeling agency. Rainie told them that once she felt she is well rested she will come back to Taipei and resume her work. Tentatively there is no decision from her that she is coming back anytime soon,”
“Ken, don’t give up. She will come back, you know… she is based here,” Pace said.
“I will wait. I told her when I was in the village that I will come back for her. I hope she will come back for me,” Ken said. “I’ve succeeded regarding my promise to her. I’ve done my part, now I’m waiting for her,”
“What promise is that, actually?” Jerry asked.
“A promise that I will fight for myself to be who I am and what I want,” Ken said. “I’ve fulfilled my promised to her. Now I am just waiting for her,”
All of them silent for a while, not sure what to say anymore.
“Don’t worry, Ken. Don’t worry,” Vanness patted on Ken’s shoulder. Vanness turned and looked at the friends, hoping someone could say something or changed topic.
“So, Ken… how’s your job as a Film Producer?” Jerry quickly raised a topic to save the occasion.
Ken smiled, “My career as a Film Producer is progressing and I am happy. At least right now I get to feel the passion that I had for my job, because I am doing what I like. The press conference that we had last month for making a new movie with having Vic and Winnie as the lead casts are doing great,”
“Yes, it is,” Vic smiled.
“Mind to tell the summary of the movie? We are your buddies so do we get a preview?” Vanness asked.
Ken laughed, “It is a movie about a guy that has been trying his best to do and achieve what he wants in his life. This guy possesses great ambition to achieve what he wants but his talent is not recognized and he is not given a chance at all to prove his ability. He then met a girl that cheers him up, inspires him and is there all the time for him. She is pretty, confident and bears the girl-next-door look. They were best of friends until they found love with each other. This story will have romance, drama, comedy and family values that actually taught how important families are in a person’s life,”
“Sounds like a nice plot,” Jerry said. “But the storyline…” he then looked at Vic, “It sounds like you, of course I mean as the guy but not about the girl…”
Vic glared at Jerry.
Ken smiled, “Actually, when I first read it, it hits me that this is Vic; it is like his life story. I know this story is made for him. Vic can pull off this character,” he looked at Vic. “In order to pull off this movie, the two people needed for these characters have to be opposites of each other, in reality. I don’t know, but it hit me that Winnie will fit this lead actress. That is why I picked Winnie. Vic is not a fresh face in the industry, he has been appearing in multiple movies and dramas as supporting characters. Winnie is not an actress, but everyone knows who she is from the commercials she made and she is the perfect fit for this character. Both Vic and Winnie already are opposites of each other, and I know they can pull this movie off and hits big. I trust my instinct and my feelings and I put all my effort into this first movie,”
“Now I know why you picked them both!” Pace said.
“Don’t worry. I will give you all free passes to movie preview when it’s time!” Ken said.
They all laughed.
“I should say thanks to my father for allowing me to be a Film Producer. And for that, I should thank Rainie because she is the one that makes me strive for what I want in life and that is how I manage to convince my dad to let me pursue my ambition. And right now, I have a very good relationship with my parents,” Ken smiled. “I have never had such feeling about my family. But it is good. It felt good,”
‘Sounds like a producer taking an award’s thank you speech on stage,’ all of them thought.
“Rainie is the one that gives me all of this. I owe this to her,” Ken said.
All of them quiet again. Despite Jerry tried to raise a different topic, somehow it is linked to Rainie again. Since it is quiet, everyone looked around or at their partner.
Ken grabbed the itinerary card placed at the middle of the table.
“Did you guys eat something before you come?” Ken asked, still staring at the itinerary card.
“Not really, why?” Barbie asked.
“Apparently the dinner will only be served at 8pm,” Ken flashed the itinerary card to Barbie.
“What?! I’ll be dead if no food is served!” Barbie said.
“Ken, you didn’t tell us it’s 8pm!” Vic said.
“Well, maybe that is why the refreshment table is there with some… refreshments,” Ken said.
“Go, Jerry, go grab me those,” Barbie said.
Jerry looked at her and then looked at Ken, “You should have let us know,” he said.
“I only found out right now too,” Ken fake a smile and flashed the itinerary card again. “I was being informed that this dinner will start at 7pm too,”
“Jerry, go grab stuffs enough for all of us,” Vanness said.
“What, you are not my girlfriend,” Jerry said. “Go get it yourself,”
“But I am your buddy. Since you are going to the junk table, just grab some light sandwiches for ALL of us, go go go,” Vanness said.
“Refreshment table,” Ken corrected Vanness.
“That’s what happened when a person is too hungry. They can’t think well,” Vanness said. “And it doesn’t matter. Junk or refreshment, hah, food,”
“Since when you took over Vic’s place?” Jerry glared at Vanness.
“What’s the connection with me?” Vic asked.
“You love food and you always want food and sleep!” Jerry said.
“Don’t drag me into this! Now go get food for all of us!” Vic said.
Jerry glared at Vic before he left their table.
“So, what is written in the itinerary card?” Vic asked.
“7pm is refreshments, getting to know each other, a few performances and speeches… and they’ll closed the entrance too,” Ken said, looking out. “And 8pm is the official time to start the dinner,” he said.
“My gosh… we will be listening to speech while NOT eating? That’s boring,” Vanness said.
“You are lucky it is not me giving speech or I’ll strangle you right now with you saying that my speech is going to bore you,” Ken said.
“I’m in public places,” Vanness bares his teeth.
Ken laughed, at their odd jokes. “I need to go to washroom. Be right back,” he said as he rose to his feet and walked away.
The huge ballroom is deemed small when it is fully occupied with people. Ken looked at each and everyone who came with a partner and he is left with none. He only wants her to be his partner for this annual dinner and no one else. If it is not her, he prefers to go to this annual dinner alone. He just smirked. He whisked into the crowd and out at the other side and walked straight into the washroom.
“So… do you think Rainie will come?” Pace asked Winnie.
Winnie looked at Pace.
“You mean Rainie knows about this annual dinner? Last month when Ken told us about this annual dinner, she is not here,” Vanness said.
“I wrote it in the email,” Winnie said. “So she knows. Unless she didn’t read my email,”
“Did she respond to you that she will attend this?” Vic asked.
Winnie shook. “No, she did not respond at all. All that she wrote is that she’s out of Singapore and she won’t tell where she is now,”
“What a tricky situation,” Vanness said.
Jerry returned with loads of junks in both his hands.
“But Ken is alone tonight, despite he should have brought someone. Come to think of it, when we are going to dance or something, he will be all alone,” Pace said.
“He’s been attending all the dinners in the past like this and he didn’t complain to us. He should have known about being alone when others are dancing. He doesn’t need us to remind him,” Vic said.
“You sure that ex-fiancée of him didn’t go to dinners with him?” Pace asked.
“Well, not that we all know of. He told us he usually attended it alone. Unless there’s any last minute changes or he brought someone… or just hook up with someone at the dinner…” Vanness said.
“What, you treat this like a bar or a pub to just hook with someone that comes without partner?” Barbie frowned at Vanness.
“I was just stating he could probably dance with some single ladies at the dance floor. I mean, we don’t know honestly. Maybe that ex-fiancée of his did attend. But, we didn’t heard it from him,” Vanness said.
“You guys are talking about Ken?” Jerry asked as he took his seat, after placing down all the food in his hands.
“Yeah,” Barbie said.
“I guess, judging from all that we’ve said, he only wants Rainie to be his partner, than having anyone else to be his partner tonight,” Jerry said.
“I agree with you,” Pace said.
“Seeing him like this, I think he really loves Rainie wholeheartedly,” Winnie said.
“No doubt in that, Rainie is his childhood friend, and when he mentions of her, you can see his eyes are full with passion and that he is hurt because she is not around,” Vanness said.
“How sure are you in that?” Barbie asked. “Sounds like some movie critic you are,”
“I am a dancer. I look at people’s eyes to see how they feel and react and emotions are showed in their eyes,” Vanness smirked.
“Do you think she will show up?” Jerry asked. “Or rather… when,”
“Very difficult to say, Jerry,” Winnie said. “Oh well. If she did not show up today does not mean she will not show up forever. She will come back to Taipei someday you know. It’s just… whether she wanna ‘come back’ to Ken or not,”
Pace and Barbie nodded.
“It is definite she will come back to Taipei. It’s a matter of when,” Pace said. “She has a career here,”
Vic smirked. “I have a feeling,”
“What feeling?” Jerry, Barbie, Winnie, Vanness and Pace looked at Vic.
“A feeling that Ken might not be alone tonight,” Vic smiled. “I think he will have a partner tonight,”
“So you mean you feel that Rainie will turn up?” Winnie asked.
“I am not sure if it is Rainie, but I just feel that way,” Vic said.
“But as we all just said, we feel that if it’s not Rainie, Ken won’t take anyone else to be his partner for tonight. Besides, isn’t that a lil too late to get a partner for this annual dinner right now?” Jerry asked.
Vic smiled. “I may be wrong, but keep your finger crossed,”