“So, when do you plan to come and watch me again?” Raymond asked, stirring the coffee in front of him. “Like, which day or performance?”
Xiao You smirked. “Wow. Really? You want me to come and watch you again this soon?”
“What? I thought you said you want to come?
“I did. But I did not say immediately,”
“Awww… well, I thought you like watching the musical, so…”
“Yes, I do. But not so soon. You said I can watch you anytime, right? And then you’ll get me the seats,”
“Yes. But, of course, provided there’s seat still,” he said. “And I don’t mean VIP or nice seats. I mean, any kind of seats that are available,”
“Yes, it is a sold out show every night, and the VIP tickets are always fully taken up at least for the next few days. It is best if you plan ahead so that I can get the VIP tickets for you,” Raymond said. “Probably… better to plan at least one week in advance or else you really have to settle with other seats,”
“Wow,” Xiao You said. “So, I can’t do a last minute thingy for nice seats?”
“If you are lucky,” he smiled.
She smiled too.
“Don’t worry. I will still be here for 2 months, at least,” Raymond said. “So, you have 2 months,” he then chuckled.
She laughed. “Fine, I’ll watch you again soon. Before you leave,”
“What? Really? I gotta wait until 2 months before you decide to come again?”
“We’ll see,” she smiled. “And you know I need to be with my daughter,”
He smirked. “Alright, I understand,”
“So, very busy at work, huh?” he asked, changing the topic.
“Hmmm. I should say, as usual,” she said, with just a small smile on her face. “I don’t really stress about my work until I have no time to meet up with friends or having meals. I have classes to teach almost every day. And I am free to enter and leave my office as and when I wish,”
“Sounds like a pretty easy job,” he said.
“Hey,” she nudged him. “What do you mean easy, huh? It is my company. It’s just that I have a bit of flexibility,”
“Right…” he smiled. “Oh hey, you haven’t show me your ballet performance before,”
“Ballet performance? Why? You haven’t seen any?”
Raymond glared at Xiao You, “Are you mocking me, Miss Yang?!”
Xiao You bursts into laughter upon hearing that.
“Of course I’ve seen ballet performances before! Have you forgotten ballet performances are also part of my musical? I get to watch it all the time!”
She remained laughing. “Then, what’s so special about ballet performance that you need to request for it?”
“I mean, your personal performance. I want to see your ballet performance. I am sure you are good at some… some… skill!” he said. “Like, twist and turn or standing on your toes…”
“You know, I don’t dance for free,” she smirked. “I am a ballet teacher. Paid to teach so I dance to teach,”
“Ah, I am your friend. Come on,” he said.
She smiled and then a small laugh escapes her mouth.
“I am paid to do my performance too, you know?” he smirked. “And I get you VIP tickets for the musical for free! So you watch me perform for free!”
“Whoa, is that how you sort of negotiate with me?!”
He laughed. “Come on! We are friends! Do I really need to pay you to show me your expertise?”
She laughed again. “I am just kidding with you,” she nudged him. “Of course I don’t mind showing you. I love ballet. So I will be glad to show it off to people who knew how to appreciate them,”
“Umm… I don’t want to give you the wrong perception. I am not a ballet person. I don’t really know how to appreciate ballet like an expert. I mean, I only see it as a dance,” he frowned. “So, are you still going to show me?”
“In my opinion, the one that doesn’t know how to appreciate is the one that shows the least interest in it, and turns away or plays with phone when the ballet performance is on,”
“Ah, then I am not like that. I like watching ballet performance,”
“That is good enough. And so, I will show you,” she smiled.
“Great. And when will that be?” he asked.
“When you can come to my office,”
“Yes. My office has the right flooring for ballet. It is the perfect venue,” Xiao You said. “Not to mention my ballet shoes are there too,”
“Ah, right. Okay,” he smiled. “Maybe… tomorrow?”
“Not tomorrow. There will be a dance workshop at my office for this whole week so the dance rooms are basically occupied until next Monday. Is Tuesday okay with you?”
“Tuesday is fine… but as you know, I need to leave by 4pm to prepare for the musical since it will be held at 8pm,”
“No problems at all for me,” Xiao You said. “It’s just a few minutes performance. It’s not like I will dance for hours!”
He laughed. “That will make you a robot!”
“Murders me more like it!” she said.
And both of them laughed.
One week later,
“You have a package, sir,” Secretary Xu said, as he enters Xi Men’s room.
“Okay,” Xi Men said as his fingers busily typed on the keyboard, “Put it down here,” he pointed at the desk.
“Sure, sir,” Secretary Xu said, placing it down as asked and then he exits the room.
Type. Type. Type.
Press Enter button.
After Xi Men had done with the typing, he finally turned his head to look at the package on table.
He frowned at the shape of the package.
It is not in a shape of a box.
Doesn’t look like envelope that may contains document.
He took up the package and then squeezes it.
He turned it around and looked for the opening of the package, and opens it.
He frowned at what he sees inside the package.
He took it out and with both hands, he lifted it up and the rests drapes itself down as the gravity demands it to.
It is a dress.
Why is a dress being delivered to him?
The worst thing is to have opened a package is not meant for him, but Secretary Xu wouldn’t make such mistake since he would have read the details on the package before passing it to him, right?
He then reached for the packaging to see the details of the package.
Attn: CEO Office, Xi Men Corporation.
Buyer: Yang Xiao You.
“Xiao You?” Xi Men repeated.
And then it hits him.
Xiao You bought this dress. But the dress is delivered to his office.
“The dresses in this website are so nice!” Xiao You said, as she scrolls thru the designs of the dresses in the website.
Xi Men looked at the screen of the computer in front of Xiao You. “They do look nice. Who recommends this site to you?” Xi Men asked.
“Jing. She told me she bought a dress from this website and their delivery is pretty quick…”
“Jing? Why is she buying a dress online all of a sudden when she usually gets them tailor-made?” Xi Men asked. “And I thought all of you usually prefer tailor-made outfits,”
“You know tailor takes a long time to make a dress, and the price is quite expensive. This site is suitable for our need of getting a dress within days… especially when there is a last minute event,” Xiao You said.
Xi Men laughed. “I am sure these sites sell same dresses at different sizes, and that means, chances of wearing a same dress with someone else to the same event is high,”
She glared at Xi Men. “Are you saying you don’t encourage me to buy from this site?”
“I know you don’t like wearing the same dress someone else wears at the same event but it is up to you if you want to buy from this site,”
“It wasn’t just me. All women hated it,” she said.
“I know. I am just reminding you that this is a risk you need to take,” he smiled.
“And you know we don’t wear the same dress twice,” she said.
“I know about that too. I spent a lot of money for your attires, you know?” he asked.
“I know. I am trying to help you save by buying these,”
“So, after this whole conversation, it means I should be grateful, huh?” he teased.
“You should. And in that, I am stretching your money so that I can buy more dresses,” she laughed.
She laughed, leaning over and gives him a peck on his cheek.
“So, what do you think? Should I buy?” she asked.
“Up to you, sweetie,” he smiled.
She then turned to look at the computer again. “I like this dress,” she pointed at a design. “What do you think?”
Xi Men looked at it. “It does look nice,”
“Should I get it?”
“If you like it, sure,” he smiled. “I’ll pay for it,”
“Thank you, Xi Men,” she smiled.
“You are welcome,” he smiled back.
Xiao You selects the dress and then at the make payment page, there is a delivery address fields to be filled in.
“Hmmm… which delivery address should we put? Penthouse? Or my office?” Xiao You asked.
“Any address is okay,” Xi Men said.
“I should put your office’s address then,” Xiao You said.
“My office? Why?” Xi Men asked.
“A number of accounts’ addresses are already addressed to my office. I think you will love to receive packages once in a while,”
Xi Men laughed. “But it is not my package still, right?”
“At least that will make you remember me when you are at work!” she said.
Xi Men laughed still. “I remember and think of you all the time, honey!”
“Now I just want you to think of me more often!” she laughed.
He laughed. “Anyway, I am fine. Do whatever you wish,” Xi Men smiled.
“The address can be changed in the future, if there is a need,” Xiao You smiled as she begins keying in the address of Xi Men’s office into the page. “Or when I’ve make too many purchases that you’ve gotten bored of receiving my packages everyday!”
*End of flashback.
“She must have forgotten to change the address of delivery…” Xi Men said.
He then lifted the dress up and looked at it.
It is a nice dress.
For once, he admires its fine detailing and the design of the dress.
Totally something that Xiao You loves.
He just smirked, and then turned his swivel chair around to find a folded paper bag on the table behind him. He grabbed the paper bag and stuffed the dress into the paper bag.
“I’ll send it to her perhaps later or tomorrow…” he said.
After saying that, he lifted his hand up and looked at the time on the wristwatch.
Xi Men pushed the door and entered Yang Ballet Studio.
Katie lifted her head up to look at the entrance, and upon seeing Xi Men, she immediately stood up and in surprise to see him here.
It is not weird to see Xi Men here, but since he had separated from Xiao You, he rarely came, unless he came to pick Emily up.
Or rather, every time he is here on odd timing like now (which is not the time to pick Emily up), she will be surprised.
“Mr. Xi Men,” Katie called.
Xi Men nodded at her as a form of respect. “Hi Katie, is Xiao You in?”
“Yes, she is,” Katie replied.
“Is she in a class now?” Xi Men asked. “If she is then I don’t want to bother her,”
“No, she isn’t,” Katie said.
“Is she in her room now?”
“Umm, no, she is in ballet room 7,” Katie replied.
“I assume, just dancing in there?”
“Yes, Mr. Xi Men,”
“Alright. Thank you,” Xi Men said, turning to the right and walked down the pathway to room 7 as told by Katie.
Katie’s eyes followed Xi Men.
She bites her lips.
Xi Men reached room 7 and was about to knock the door, when something he sees in front of him stopped him from doing so.
From the glass panel on the door, he can see Xiao You dancing gracefully to a soft music that can be heard with the door closed.
Ballet is her forte.
She loves ballet so much, which is why he paid for her to get a ballet teaching certification and opened this studio for her.
But he didn’t know he had trashed her dream to be a professional ballet dancer.
She wanted to join a great production to gain experience and exposure.
But she gives it up for him.
‘Everything is too late now. I will never get back my dream. I can only blame myself for not fighting for it. I gave it up for stupidity.’
He can still remember the frustration, anger and sadness in her tone when she said that to him, outside of Emily’s ward in the hospital.
After she told him, he felt extreme guilt towards her.
She had never told him she wanted to be a professional dancer.
She never did.
But… he can’t support this dream even if…
She said she only wanted a year.
Xi Men looked at the glass panel, looking straight at Xiao You.
She tip-toed and raised her other leg up effortlessly. She turned and twirled gracefully.
All those graceful and beautiful moves she has made have reminded him of how proud he is with her, and how much he loves her.
Correction. Used to love her.
His eyes couldn’t look away from her.
At every move she made, he just want to continue watching, continue seeing, and expecting to see more moves from her.
She would really make a perfectly beautiful professional ballet dancer.
The music is coming to an end.
And Xiao You ends her ballet dance perfectly, just the same time the music stops.
She stopped at the angle where she faces the corner of the room, not noticing Xi Men behind the closed door, watching her via the glass panel.
Xi Men smiled inadvertently at how amazing Xiao You is.
Clap. Clap. Clap.
The smile on Xi Men’s face vanished immediately upon hearing the mysterious clapping coming from inside the room.
Xiao You is seen smiling to a corner of the room; where she had stopped and faced at, and whatever she is smiling at is at an angle that Xi Men couldn’t see from the glass panel; from where he is now.
He happened to lean nearer to the glass panel to look at the corner that Xiao You is facing at, only to knock his head on the glass panel.
“Ouch,” Xi Men said, immediately lifting his left hand up to rub the painful spot on his forehead.
Curiosity at its best; as he had forgotten about the glass, or the door.
The thud on the glass panel gained Xiao You’s attention, and even the person sitting at the corner of the room.
Xiao You turned and looked at the glass panel on the door and saw Xi Men who immediately lowered his hand down, and meets her in her eyes.
She puts her right hand on her waist, and turned slightly to face the door.
“Come in,” she called out, from where she stood.
Back then, she might go and open the door for him as she is happy and excited to see him each and every time. But now… not even a chance.
Xi Men grabbed the door knob and opens it, and then he enters the room.
“Xiao You,” he called, but immediately glances over to the corner of the room (where Xiao You was seen looking and smiling at) as knowing why she smiles to the corner is more to his interest now; and he sees a guy sitting at the corner comfortably.
The guy, since meeting Xi Men, smiled and nodded as a sign of friendliness, and eventually gets up.
‘That guy is familiar.’ Xi Men thought to himself.
“Why do you come?” Xiao You asked, interrupting his thought.
Xi Men returned his sight to Xiao You, immediately recalling he came for a reason. “I came to bring this to you,” he extends the paper bag in his right hand to Xiao You.
“What is it?” Xiao You asked, taking the paper bag from his hand.
“You did some online shopping and it was delivered to my office,”
Xiao You is slightly surprised. “Oh!” she opens the bag and looked at the content inside. “I am sorry about that. Now that you have mentioned, I forgot to change the address of delivery for this,”
“It is okay. All along, the delivery address for this shopping account is my office,” Xi Men said.
“I’ll take note of it. I’ll change the delivery address when I make another purchase,” Xiao You said.
Xi Men just smiled briefly. “Okay,” he said, and then he turned to look at the other guy in the room.
‘I am glad that you didn’t change the address yet, or else I will not get a chance to see this guy in this room…’ Xi Men thought to himself although his focus is with the guy.
“Hi, I’m Raymond,” he introduces as he politely extends his hand out.
Raymond? Raymond Leslie?
So this is the guy?!
Seeing Raymond has extended his hand, and Xiao You is waiting for Xi Men to return the same…
“I am Xi Men,” Xi Men said, hesitates but still extends his hand out to grab Raymond’s hand for a brief handshake since Raymond offered first.
Raymond smiled at Xi Men, and Xi Men returned the smile awkwardly.
“So, this is the reason you came?” Xiao You asked, pointed at the bag.
Xi Men turned his head and looked at Xiao You, “Yeah, that is all,”
“Okay. If it is such a petty matter, you can just drop them at Katie’s place next time. She’ll pass to me,” Xiao You said.
For some reason, he didn’t like what he heard. He is used to passing things to her in person unless she is teaching.
And the other time when he delivered the newly bought smartphone to her, he puts the phone on her desk because she isn’t around.
But that’s different.
Because he made her upset.
And also… the other time; he asked Emily to pass the fries that he bought for her (Xiao You) as she wasn’t in the living room when Xi Men came.
“I would, if you have a class,” Xi Men said, taking a deep breath. “And you probably didn’t want me to interrupt both of you,” he murmured, as he gazes over to Raymond.
“Are you saying something?” Xiao You asked.
“No I didn’t,” Xi Men immediately replied.
“Oh,” Xiao You said.
“Before I forget,” Xi Men said.
Xiao You looked at him.
“I am sorry I opened your package. I thought it was mine, until I saw the content and I saw the ‘buyer’ name,” Xi Men said, “Thus, I brought it over in a paper bag,”
“It is okay,” she replied. “So, that is all, right?”
“Yeah,” Xi Men said, and then casually glancing over to Raymond.
“Alright. You can go now,” Xiao You said. “And close the door when you go out,”
Xi Men is in disbelief over what he heard, and he looked at Xiao You who had happened to turn and walked to the corner of the room to put down the paper bag that Xi Men had just handed over.
She is asking him to leave now?
Gosh, what on earth is this?
Is it because of Raymond?
Because he is here?!
Raymond saw the entire scene, including the expression on Xi Men’s face.
Xi Men clenched his teeth.
He then took a deep breath and turned, heading towards the door. He grabbed the knob, about to open the door and go out, when he stopped, “By the way,”
Xiao You turned her head to look at Xi Men again, whose hand is at the doorknob. “Hmmm?”
Xi Men lifted up his head and looked at Xiao You, “The dress is beautiful,” he said.
“Oh, thank you,” that is all she could say.
He just smirked, and briefly glances over to Raymond, before he heads out of the room, and closed the door.
PAK (*door closed).