Mei Zhuo, whose gaze is fixed on the TV as he watches the news, lifted his head up and looked at his wife sitting down next to him on the couch in the living room.
“Why are you sighing, dear?” Mei Zhuo asked.
Xiao Qiao casually extends the magazine in her hand to Mei Zhuo.
“Hmmm?” Mei Zhuo took the magazine from her hand and takes a look at the cover.
A model posing sexily on the cover.
Why is she sighing over the cover? The model? Why?
“Page 12,” Xiao Qiao said.
Finally realizing it has nothing to do with the cover, Mei Zhuo adhered to what his wife has said. He turned the page of the magazine to page 12.
Lots of words and pictures spread out on the two pages.
“Hmmm…?” Mei Zhuo looked at the pages, unsure what to look out for.
Xiao Qiao looked at Mei Zhuo scanning the two pages, looking absolutely lost.
“This one,” Xiao Qiao said, pointing at the small picture on the bottom right of page 12.
Mei Zhuo looked at the photo as pointed by Xiao Qiao.
He looked… and just looking… and just looking.
Xiao Qiao begins frowning and wondered if her husband is actually looking at the photo or fell asleep? Or just blanked out.
Suddenly, Mei Zhuo’s eyes grew.
Seeing his surprised look, “Saw it?” Xiao Qiao asked.
“Really?” Mei Zhuo asked, finally turning his head to look at Xiao Qiao.
Xiao Qiao nodded, and sighed. “Now, everything is really over,”
Lei frowned with the phone on his ear. “Huh?”
“Trust me. Ask your wife. She would know,” the fella at the other end said.
Lei looked at the phone as the other party had hung up the call, and then turned his gaze to look at Jing who is sitting next to him on the bed.
“Done with the call?” Jing asked, browsing at the magazine in her hand.
“Yeah,” Lei said, putting the phone down onto the side table.
“It is a little surprising for Mei Zhuo to call this late. Anything?” Jing asked.
“He asked me to ask you…”
Jing looked at Lei, “Ask me?”
“He said… magazine…”
“This one?” Jing asked, flashing the magazine in her hand.
“Umm…” Lei didn’t know if the magazine that Jing showed is what Mei Zhuo referred to.
“Did he also tell you, page 12?”
Lei’s eyes widened a bit. “So you really know?”
“Yeah,” Jing said, closing the magazine in her hand and extends it to Lei. “Xiao Qiao, San Chai and I knew. We were talking about it in whatsapp group chat, and I mean just three of us, without Xiao You,”
“Excluding her with intention?” Lei asked as he took the magazine from Jing’s hand.
“Yes,” Jing said. “Take a look at the magazine yourself,”
Lei glances at Jing, and then he looked at the magazine, and then flipped the pages to page 12.
He looked at the two-page article.
He scanned the photos one after another, carefully.
And then he spots the photo at the bottom right.
His eyes widened slightly.
Lei turned his head to look at his ringing smartphone.
“It is Ah Si this time,” Lei said, picking the call up. “Hello?”
“Do you know what is happening now?”
“Yes, Ah Si. I know. Page 12,” Lei said, looking at Jing.
And Jing looks back at him.
The next day.
“Come in,” Xi Men said, looking at his laptop as he continued to type.
“I hope you are happy,”
Hearing that all of a sudden, Xi Men lifted his head up and immediately sees Mei Zhuo had already reached his CEO desk and threw a magazine; landed on the desk, in front of Xi Men.
Everybody will be annoyed to find someone else throws something like to his/her face, or rather, in front of him just like this.
“What?” the annoyed Xi Men asked, gazing at Lei and Ah Si who are following behind Mei Zhuo, and are walking towards his desk too.
“Page 12, dude,” Lei said, sitting down on the chair in front of Xi Men.
“I don’t have time for this,” Xi Men said, pushing the magazine away. “I let you guys crash in as you please doesn’t mean I let you guy do something like smacking a stupid magazine on my desk!”
“Dude, read that,” Ah Si said, sitting down on the chair next to Lei, while Mei Zhuo comfortably sits at the corner of the desk.
“Go read it yourself. You are not illiterate,” Xi Men said, remained typing on his laptop.
“Trust us. Read it,” Mei Zhuo said, leaning his upper body closer to Xi Men.
Xi Men backed off a little when Mei Zhuo has approached a little too close to Xi Men’s face.
“I am a busy businessman as well. You don’t see me crashing in into your office for nothing, right?” Ah Si asked, looking at Xi Men.
Xi Men looked at Ah Si, and then he looked at Mei Zhuo, and then at Lei.
They could just arrange to go for meals or gathered with wives and kids for dinner.
But to have them come to his office like this…
Mei Zhuo tilts his head and looked at the magazine on the table.
Lei motioned Xi Men to take the magazine. “Page 12,” he repeated.
Xi Men looked at Lei, and then he returned his gaze to the laptop and pressed the save button to save the things he is working on.
After the save is done, he closed the lid of his laptop.
He grabbed the magazine on the table and looked at the cover for a brief while.
He then flipped the pages on the magazine to page 12 as directed by Lei.
“Two-page article,” Xi Men muttered. “Opening Night of a Popular Musical in Taipei,”
“Read on,” Mei Zhuo said.
“See on,” Lei said, correcting Mei Zhuo, and also glances at Mei Zhuo.
“Pay attention,” Ah Si adds lastly.
“Nothing special about this,” Xi Men complains and then he moved to the photos.
Xi Men’s head tilted slightly as his eyes widened with his focus fixed on the picture. He looked at it intently.
“So, you saw it,” Mei Zhuo said, crossing his arms on his chest.
“Is this Xiao You?” Xi Men pointed at the photo, and then he looked at his buddies.
“I thought you should know better since you are the one married to her, and be with her for 10 years?” Lei asked.
Xi Men returned his gaze to the picture and his mouth slowly dropped. “Why is she there? Why is she standing next to this guy? Who is this guy?! Who is this person with… with his… filthy hand around her waist?!”
He could even note that hand around Xiao You’s waist in the photo! Impressive!
“It is the after-party of Phantom of the Opera’s opening night,” Ah Si said.
“After-party?” Xi Men asked.
“Xiao You is invited. So she attended,” Mei Zhuo said.
“Invited? How on earth did she get invited? How…” a lot of things and thoughts barged in from all directions into his mind and Xi Men suddenly felt his mind had gone into war on its own.
So damn many things.
And his mind is damn messy now.
“That guy’s name is Raymond Leslie,” Lei said.
Xi Men looked at Lei. “Leslie?”
“He is not a Chinese, or Asian,” Lei said, “Which is obvious, if you look at his picture,”
Xi Men returned his gaze to look at the picture again.
“He is an actor for that musical currently staging in Taipei,” Mei Zhuo said.
“Actor?” Xi Men asked.
“It was said he is quite famous internationally, of course, to the people who actually watches and appreciates stage musical. Or else, he is a nobody,” Mei Zhuo said.
Xi Men looked at Mei Zhuo. “What musical is that?”
“I’ve just said it. Phantom of the Opera,” Ah Si said.
“Phan… Phantom of the Opera?” Xi Men asked.
“Yes. One of the most famous musicals in the world,” Lei said.
“I know Phantom of the Opera. I know… I… know,” Xi Men said, looking at the magazine again.
He knew that musical. He is so familiar with it, although he doesn’t watch it. Or maybe just some scenes.
“Xiao You attended the after party of the famous musical?” Xi Men asked, partially in disbelief.
“Yes. And Xiao You knew that guy,” Lei said.
Xi Men’s eyes shot up to look at Lei. “She knows him?” he inadvertently pressed his point finger onto the magazine.
“Look at her body language. She does,” Lei said, causing Xi Men to look at the photo again.
“I think it’s been a while since I last see Xiao You smiling that happy and cheerfully, you know,” Mei Zhuo said.
This time, Xi Men shot his eyes up to look at Mei Zhuo.
“I agree,” Ah Si adds.
And three of them happened to turn to look at Xi Men whose face shows that he is annoyed and unhappy with whatever is happening now.
And probably with that comment from Mei Zhuo and Ah Si agrees.
“What’s with the face?” Mei Zhuo asked.
Xi Men pressed his lips together and gritted his teeth as he returned his gaze to the magazine.
Lei smirked. “Pretty interesting,” he said as he grabbed the magazine from Xi Men’s grip and takes a look at it himself (Lei).
Xi Men got even more annoyed that Lei grabbed that magazine away from his hand.
“What’s so interesting,” Xi Men asked, but in order to suppress his annoyance, his question ends up being said like a statement.
“I mean, it is interesting to know once Xiao You is back to ‘market’, she is so… highly in demand,” Lei said.
Xi Men raised his hand and loose his tie knot a little after all of a sudden he felt the knot is choking him.
Ah Si and Mei Zhuo aren’t sure what Lei is up to.
“I wish Xiao You happiness,” Lei said, closing the magazine and puts it down on the desk.
Xi Men shot his gaze at Lei.
Mei Zhuo and Ah Si frowned.
“Lei, what are you talking about?” Mei Zhuo asked. “It is just a picture in an exclusive event, what’s up with wishing her happiness and…”
“Since Xiao You is no longer with Xi Men, I wish she will find someone who would appreciate her the way she deserves,” Lei said, looking at Xi Men, and then he slowly turned his head to look at Mei Zhuo and Ah Si. “Remember I said before, nobody will dare to be with her because of who she was once married to? Unless that someone is more influential than Xi Men, or, someone from other country who doesn’t know what F4 is, and wouldn’t mind to bring her out of the country with him?”
“Yeah,” Mei Zhuo answered almost immediately. “I remember you said that,”
“Well, I think this Raymond guy fits the last criteria,” Lei said, looking at Xi Men.
Xi Men silently took deep, unhappy breath.
“I can’t believe what I have said back then is really, fully spot on,” Lei said.
Mei Zhuo and Ah Si exchanged glances.
“Anyway, my point being is, I just want Xiao You to be happy,” Lei said. “That is all matters,”
Xi Men clenched his teeth together and his hands formed fists.
All of them turned their heads to look at Ah Si.
“What about Emily?” Ah Si asked. “Is she really going to follow Xiao You and leave the country?”
There is a change on Xi Men’s facial expression.
Leave the country?!
Lei smirked. “Let’s not talk too far yet. It is just a picture,” he said, laying his hand down on Xi Men’s desk.
Xi Men switched his gaze to Lei, meeting Lei in the eyes.
“A picture can explain a lot of things and also make us assume a lot of unreasonable things. What we’re saying now is just speculations. Possible speculations,” Lei said, looking at Xi Men, and then switched his gaze to Ah Si, “We’ll talk about Emily if Xiao You has confirmed she is seeing this guy,”
Ah Si nods at Lei, “Right, looks like we’re talking too far now,”
“Indeed,” Lei said, returning his gaze back to Xi Men, giving Xi Men a smirk.
Xi Men grits his teeth as his gaze went to the magazine that is currently under Lei’s elbow.
As Mei Zhuo closed Xi Men’s door behind them, “Are you sure you don’t want the magazine?” Ah Si asked Lei, “You bought it,”
“Yeah. I know I bought it. But Jing, your wife and his wife (pointing at Mei Zhuo) already have a copy of the magazine… it has no use for me,” Lei said.
“So, you are saying you bought it just to show to Xi Men?” Mei Zhuo asked.
“Yes,” Lei said. “And seeing it has no use for me, or any of you, I ‘conveniently’ leave it behind for Xi Men,” he smirked devilishly as he walked to the lift.
Xi Men moves the mouse and scrolls the email in his mailbox as he reads the content of the email.
His gaze went to the magazine that Lei had left behind on his desk.
He exhaled a deep breath while his gaze fixed on the magazine.
He returned his gaze back to the email and reads it.
He reads the line from beginning to the end, and then realized he doesn’t understand the statement, thus his focus went back to the beginning and reads it again. When he reached the end and figured he still doesn’t understand, he repeats again. And again.
His gaze then went to the magazine again.
After realizing he is glaring at the magazine, he forces himself to divert his attention to the email, and happens to read the same statement again.
He closed his eyes and knew he had lost his focus and attention.
He opened his eyes and grabbed the magazine on the desk, flipping to page 12.
His attention went to the picture.
He pressed his lips together and his breathing deepens as he stared at the photo.
Anger took over and his tightened grip on the magazine has caused creases to form.
He slammed the magazine closed and ends up throwing it against the desk.
It flew from the desk and lies flat on the floor.
He then hits his fist on the desk and yelled in frustration.
“Xiao You, Xiao You,” Katie excitedly opened the door of Xiao You’s room.
“You forgot to knock,” Xiao You said, looking at Katie.
“Oops,” Katie quickly reversed her footstep, closed the door and knocked at it.
Xiao You chuckled at Katie’s antics. “Come in,”
Katie opens the door. “Sorry, I was too excited,” Katie said, closing the door behind her and dashes to the desk, sitting in front of Xiao You.
“Your photo is in the magazine!” Katie spreads open the magazine, exactly on page 12 and 13.
“My photo? What photo?” Xiao You frowned.
“It says… after party of Phantom of the Opera,” Katie said, putting the magazine down on the table.
“You mean there is coverage for that?” Xiao You tilts her head to look at the magazine.
“Yes, it is a highlight because this is Phantom of the Opera, and you look good,” Katie smiled, pointing at the picture.
Xiao You looked at the picture.
It is a photo of her and Raymond, taken by a professional photographer.
Xiao You smiled. “Yeah, this looks nice,” she then casually took the magazine up and looked at it. “Hmmm, I didn’t know they will write an article about this,”
“It is not surprising because ‘Phantom of the Opera’ is one of the biggest musicals in the world. They came here to perform, and publishing an article like this is like a form of publicity. And for ticket selling,”
Xiao You smiled, and then lifted her gaze up to look at Katie. “Do you think this is the only magazine publishing this?”
“I have read a few magazines, but so far I only saw this magazine highlighted the after party,” Katie said.
“Hmmm… alright,” Xiao You said. “Can you get me a copy of this magazine so I can keep it too?”
“Goodnight, daddy,” Emily said, giving a hug to Xi Men and then kissed his cheek.
“Goodnight, sweetie,” Xi Men smiled, hugging his daughter back.
After Emily lets go of the hug, “Bye daddy,”
“Bye sweetie,” Xi Men smiled.
He, who is standing at the living room, looked at Emily ran to her room.
Xiao You is nowhere to be found.
He knew there are times she didn’t want to see him when he sends Emily home after dinner.
He turned his head to look at Butler Pan. “Butler Pan,”
“Yes, master,” Butler Pan immediately heads to Xi Men.
“Is Xiao You in the master bedroom?” Xi Men asked.
Butler Pan looked at Xi Men.
Xiao You, whose attention is on her smartphone, turned her head to look at the door.
“Ma’am, this is Butler Pan,”
“Come in, Butler Pan,” Xiao You said, looking at the door.
Butler Pan opened the door, “Ma’am,” he called, as he looked at Xiao You sitting on the bed. “Master wants to see you,”
Xiao You tilted her head. “Xi Men wants to see me?”
Butler Pan nodded.
Xiao You straightened her head.
Xi Men meets up with Emily for dinner today.
And as usual, after dinner, Xi Men will send Emily home, up until the penthouse.
There are times that Xiao You waits for Emily to come home.
And there are times that Xiao You didn’t want to see him, thus, Xiao You heads to her room when Xi Men rang the doorbell of the penthouse when he brought Emily home.
She will only leave the room to look for Emily when Xi Men left the penthouse.
And today is one of those days.
But the strange thing is… today is the first time that Xi Men requested to meet her.
“Okay,” Xiao You said. “Thank you, Butler Pan,”