10 years ago. 6 months after their Paris trip.
“Okay, safe flight. See you soon,” Xi Men smiled with the phone on his ear as he walked to the door.
His smile grew wider as he lowered the phone down and hangs up the call.
The wooden doors opened wide for him even before he reached.
Xi Men nodded in acknowledgement to the calling and removed the suit as he walked into the mansion, while Butler Liu follows.
Xi Men then passes his suit to Butler Liu.
“Master, ma’am is home,”
Xi Men halted his steps, and then he turned to look at Butler Liu. “My mom?”
“Yes, master,” Butler Liu said.
Xi Men then frowned. “Why… why is mom in Taipei today?”
“Umm… master, her train ride is today,” Butler Liu said, with slight tinge of ‘reminder’ tone.
Xi Men’s eyes widened. “Ah… crap, I forgot…” he mumbled. “How long has she been home?”
“About three hours…”
“Three hours?” Xi Men immediately lifted his left hand up to look at the time on his wristwatch. “That is like 6pm…”
“Umm… yes, sir…”
“Why didn’t you call me?” Xi Men asked Butler Liu. “You could have told me so that I can come back earlier,”
“Ah? Err…” now all of a sudden it became Butler Liu’s fault.
“My mom definitely would like to see me sooner…”
“Actually…” Butler Liu said. “Ma’am ask me not to call you… because she didn’t want to disturb you working,”
Xi Men looked at Butler Liu, and then he (Xi Men) sighed.
Xi Men then nodded. “Alright, I understand,” he said. “So, where is my mom now?”
“Xi Men, you are back home,”
Xi Men and Butler Liu turned to the direction of the voice, which is further in front of where they are standing.
Xi Men immediately smiled and Butler Liu takes a step back and gives a small bow.
“Mom,” Xi Men called, and then walks to her, giving her a hug.
“Very busy at work?” she asked, as soon as the hug ends.
“Umm… it is bearable,” he smiled. “Butler Liu said you didn’t want him to call me,”
“Yes, I didn’t want to disturb you at work,”
“You could have just let him do it, so that I can come back earlier to see you,”
“It is just a couple of hours’ difference,” she smiled. “Have you eaten?”
“Yes,” he said. “But you can cook me supper if you want to,” he bares his teeth at her.
Xi Men’s mom laughed. “Sounds like you just want me to cook for you?”
“Definitely, mom! I haven’t had the chance to eat your signature dish for a long time now!” he stood behind his mother and placed his hands on her shoulder.
“Signature dish? Really?”
“Yes! Your signature dish is my favorite dish,” he said.
“Who eats ‘diced meat in red oil’ at 9pm?”
Xi Men’s mom laughed again as both of them walked, heading towards the kitchen.
Xi Men’s mom smiled as she sat next to Xi Men, looking at him indulging in his favorite dish, along with a bowl of rice.
“So, mom, how is business in Kaohsiung?” Xi Men asked.
“It is okay,” she replied. “And how about your work?”
“It is okay too. We are getting more projects and business partnerships, so all is well,” he smiled. “Oh, I forgot to ask you. Are you tired?”
“Your train ride from Kaohsiung?”
“The train ride is not tiring at all. It is a High Speed Rail, Xi Men. So the ride is in fact, quite enjoyable,” she smiled. “And the traveling hours are very short, so it is okay,”
“That is good to hear,” Xi Men smiled and then he scoops up the rice with his chopsticks and puts into his mouth. “I was worried the train ride might tire you,”
“Well, it is a very comfortable train ride. But even if it might tire me, I have to come back still, right? Mrs. Dao Ming invited me to attend Ah Si’s wedding this weekend. I need to come back for that,” Xi Men’s mom said.
Xi Men smiled.
Ah Si’s wedding.
And it means the day to see Xiao You is getting nearer.
More precisely, it is tomorrow. She is coming back tomorrow.
He is so happy even at the thought of it.
He is going to see her really, really soon.
Looking at her son enjoying his supper, “Don’t you think it is a pretty late for you to actually eat rice now? It is almost 10pm…” Xi Men’s mom asked.
“This dish is best savored with rice, mom,” Xi Men said, picking up a piece of meat with his chopsticks. “And it is not that I eat rice at 10pm every day. Once in a while is fine,” he smiled. “Anything for my mom’s cooking,”
“My son has suddenly become extremely spoiled, huh? To get me to cook for him at 9.30pm,”
“Because my mom is not around all the time, so it is best I get spoiled as much as I can when she is around!”
She laughed. “Xi Men, I am your mother. You should save those sweet words to other ladies, and not me,”
Xi Men slows down his munching speed when he heard that.
“You got the wrong target,” she couldn’t help but laugh.
Xi Men then smile faintly and he continued munching the food in his mouth.
“Oh, is your dad attending Ah Si’s wedding too?” she asked.
“Yes,” he replied.
“When is he coming back then?”
“I remember the date he gives me is one day after you come back,” Xi Men replied. “Means, it will be tomor…” and he stopped.
“Tomorrow?” she asked. There is no need to hear the complete word since there is no other word that will begin with the word ‘tomor’ anyway.
“Umm… yeah. Tomorrow,” he said.
“Hmmm, okay,” she said.
He had just realized that Xiao You is coming back on the exact same day his father will be coming back, though different airlines and times, but that is not the main point.
The most important thing is…
As they have talked a while ago, he wants to introduce her to his parents.
He wants to do it when his parents came back for Ah Si’s wedding because he is sure that they will be invited by Ah Si’s mom.
And time passes by so fast…
Ah Si’s wedding is just this weekend!
It’s not that he didn’t know, of course.
It’s just that he did not piece the pieces together that Ah Si’s wedding is the time where he will introduce Xiao You to his parents.
Xi Men shivered by slight upon being called at, and awakes him from his thought. “Ah?” he looked at his mother.
“Are you alright?” she asked.
“Oh, yes. I am. Why do you ask?” Xi Men asked, as he puts the last piece of meat into his mouth.
“I don’t know. You look like you are thinking about something. Like… you forgot to do something?” Xi Men’s mother asked.
Yes. Totally forgot to prepare mentally about what may happen…
“Umm… mom, when are you going back to Kaohsiung?” he asked.
“I thought I’ve told you a while back. Sunday. My train is at 11am,” she said.
“Sunday…” he repeated.
Today is Thursday.
Ah Si’s wedding is on Saturday, means Saturday is off limit.
And his mother is leaving on Sunday morning, means Sunday is basically… off limit too.
It looks like…
He then saw a hand cuts across his gaze to the table and that action interrupts him from his thought again. He immediately stares at the hand in front of him.
His mother had stretched her hand out with intention to get the plates as a mean of clearing the table since he is done with his supper.
“Mom, let the maid do this,” Xi Men extends his hand out to stop his mother from picking up the plates.
“It is okay, just a few plates,” Xi Men’s mother said.
“No, no, no, just let the maid do it, it is okay,” Xi Men immediately stood up, still stopping his mother. “I paid them, and you are not here all the time so you shouldn’t do this. You should spend time with me instead,”
She smiled. “Alright, alright… since you insisted,”
Xi Men turned and nodded at the maid that is standing a bit further from them, and she nodded, understood the command that Xi Men is giving her.
He took a deep breath as he walked with his mom, away from the dining table. He places his hand on her shoulder and they walked side by side towards the living room.
He took a deep breath.
“Xi Men, is something bothering you? Maybe you want to tell me?”
He turned to look at his mother. How did she know?
“I heard and saw you taking the deep breath. That deep breath doesn’t sound like a satisfied one,” she sits down on the couch.
“I am your mother. I may not be staying permanently with you anymore, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know about your attitude and behaviour. I still know you well, son,” she smirked at him.
Xi Men just smiled faintly as he sits down next to her.
He lowered his head down for a while and took multiple deep breaths.
She looked at him, really wondered why is he reacting like this.
“Mom, there is something I want to tell you,” Xi Men said.
“Oh? What is it?”
Xi Men stares at his mother, and he didn’t know what to expect.
What if his mother is against him and Xiao You?
“I am… currently…” he stammered.
He swallowed the lump in his throat.
Oh. My. Gosh.
I can’t do this.
“We’ll go for dinner with dad tomorrow, alright?” he blurted out.
“Your dad?” she asked.
WHAT DID I JUST SAY?!
This is pure STUPIDITY.
“Sure,” she suddenly replied with a small smile. “We can eat dinner together. Since… it has been a while since we meet,”
“Oh… umm. Alright. I’ll arrange,” he strangely replied.
His mother nodded with a smile. But she frowned.
That didn’t seem to be the thing Xi Men wants to say.
But she didn’t want to force him.
Mr. Xi Men looked at the report in his hand in the quiet meeting room, as everyone exchanged glances with each other; not saying anything.
Including Xi Men who is sitting next to him.
Everyone anticipates if the president will have some queries…
Mr. Xi Men flies in this morning from Hong Kong as he has business dealings the day earlier in Hong Kong. His flight reached Taipei Taoyuan International Airport at 8.45am and he comes straight to Xi Men Corporation.
It wasn’t that he came unannounced. Everyone already knows he is coming, thus they planned the quarterly meeting today.
“Okay, good,” Mr. Xi Men said, closing the file in his hand. “Keep it up,” he then stood up. “Meeting’s over,”
And everyone rose to their feet, almost scrambling their way to the door to leave back to their seats.
Xi Men also stood up as he is ready to leave the room as Secretary Xu gathered the documents in front of Xi Men and ready to take them with him to leave the room.
“Xi Men,” his father called.
Xi Men turned to look at his father. “Hmmm?”
Mr. Xi Men smiled. “In the quarterly report, the top 3 projects that obtained highest revenue are your projects. Great job,”
“Thank you, dad,” Xi Men smiled.
“Oh, are you free to discuss about project ADC somewhere around 2pm later?” Mr. Xi Men asked.
He needs to leave office by 2pm to go to the airport to pick Xiao You up.
“Umm, I can’t,” Xi Men said.
“But I can discuss now,” Xi Men said.
“Now?” Mr. Xi Men asked, as he lifted his right hand up to look at the time on his wristwatch.
“Hmmm, okay. We’ll discuss now then,” he said. “In my room,”
Mr. Xi Men nodded in agreement to what Xi Men had said about the project. “Okay, so let’s just use that suggestion of yours for this project,”
“Okay, dad,” Xi Men said, and then he turned to look at Secretary Xu who is sitting next to him. “Dad already approve so we will go on with it, alright?”
“Sure, Manager Xi Men,” Secretary Xu said, and he immediately writes it down on the notepad.
Mr. Xi Men smiled and then he then looked around his CEO room, and sighed.
Xi Men lifted up his head to look at his father upon hearing his father sighs. “Are you alright, dad?”
Mr. Xi Men smirked. “I was thinking… I travel so often, I hardly get to come back to my room here in this office, and even if I get to come back, it is never more than 2 days,” he said. “I hardly remember when was the last time I actually spend a calm week here, without the need to travel?”
“Probably 6 months?” Xi Men asked.
“My guess should be 8 months or 9 months ago,” Mr. Xi Men said.
“Should be around that then,” Xi Men said.
“Hmmm. Wow, so long already?” Mr. Xi Men is surprised with that too.
Xi Men laughed. “Now you know, dad,”
Mr. Xi Men just smiled. “Well, thank you, Xi Men, for managing the company while I was away,”
Xi Men smiled. “You are welcome, dad. You’ve been a busy man. Even more so since you open the office in New York,”
“Ah, that office,” Mr. Xi Men said. “It’s already 4 months,” he then looked at Xi Men. “I have never expected that projects will pour in endlessly over there. It is way beyond my expectations. And with that, that branch is inevitably expanding,”
“I understand,” Xi Men smiled.
“And that also means, I can no longer manage two companies at the same time,” Mr. Xi Men said.
Xi Men’s smile fades. “No longer…?” he asked.
It seems something is hinted…
“Well, I seriously think it is not appropriate anymore to ask you to continue managing this company, without actually making you the CEO of Xi Men Corporation,” Mr. Xi Men smiled.
Xi Men’s eyes widened. “Wha… what?”
“Yes, you hear me right. I am passing the company to you,” Mr. Xi Men said.
“Pa… pass the company to me?”
“Yes,” Mr. Xi Men nodded. “I have decided to let you take over the CEO post. So, this main office in Taipei; the headquarters of Xi Men Corporation is where you will be based, and I will handle the one in New York,”
Xi Men gaped.
Mr. Xi Men smiled, looking at the very shocked Xi Men.
“Xi Men, you have proven your potential to me,” Mr. Xi Men smiled. “And I am not saying this just because you handled the company for the last few months which leaves me extremely impressed,” he clasped his hands together and puts it on the desk and remained looking at Xi Men.
Xi Men looked at his father.
“Son, I have always known you have potential. You are more than a ‘manager’ material ever since the day you step into this company. You are a born leader and you are extremely skillful when it comes to dealing with business. I am very proud of you,” he smiled. “Which is why, I know, you are ready to take over the CEO post,”
Xi Men stared at him. “I…”
“And, not to be mistaken…” Mr. Xi Men raised his finger up. “I am not retiring. I will still be the President and the advisor of this corporation,”
A small smile formed on Xi Men’s face, and it slowly grows. “My gosh…” he is elated.
“And don’t worry. I will prep you for the next few months. I will make the formal announcement when you are ready to take over entirely,” Mr. Xi Men smiled.
“Congratulations, CEO Xi Men,” Secretary Xu said. And he already calls Xi Men a CEO!
Hearing that itself makes Xi Men happy.
“Thank you, Secretary Xu,” Xi Men smiled, looking at Secretary Xu.
And Mr. Xi Men smiled. “So…”
Xi Men and Secretary Xu looked at Mr. Xi Men.
“Want to go for lunch? We can celebrate a little. It’s been a while since I eat with you,” Mr. Xi Men asked Xi Men.
“Ah,” Xi Men said. “I almost forgot,” he continued. “Umm…”
Mr. Xi Men looked at Xi Men. “Hmmm?”
“Will you be free for dinner tonight?” Xi Men asked.
“Dinner tonight?” Mr. Xi Men asked, and then he tilts his head as he ponders a bit, “Shouldn’t be any problem. You want to have dinner with me?”
“I have arranged for dinner tonight with mom… and I have expected you to come too…”
“Dinner with your mom?” Mr. Xi Men asked, partially surprised.
“Oh,” Mr. Xi Men said. “Umm…”
Xi Men turned over to look at Secretary Xu. “Secretary Xu, mind to leave us?” he asked.
“Sure,” Secretary Xu said, immediately rose to his feet.
He gives a quick bow before he leaves the room.
After Secretary Xu closed the door,
“Dad, I thought after you and mom divorced… your friendship with her is better?” Xi Men asked.
“Well, it is,” Mr. Xi Men said. “But I hope you know that your mom and I aren’t exactly keeping in touch with each other. Now we are like two strangers who happens to know each other,”
“At least both of you can talk to each other… and…” Xi Men’s voice gets softer, “…not like last time where mom doesn’t even want to be in the same room or place with you…”
“And most importantly, mom is fine with you going for dinner with us,” Xi Men smiled.
“Yes. I asked her and she doesn’t have any problems with it. She also said it has been a while since she last met you,” Xi Men said. “I think, you can take this opportunity to… umm, catch up,”
Mr. Xi Men just smiled faintly, and then he nods. “Alright. We’ll have dinner together tonight,”
Xi Men smiled.
Xi Men smiled the moment he saw the familiar face emerged from the arrival hall of Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.
His smile goes wider with every step she took to approach him.
“Hi darling,” he smiled as she walked to him and he extends his hands to wrap around her & kisses her on her lips.
Once they break off from the kiss, “Hello handsome,” Xiao You said, while still in his arms.
“Hmmm… you look lethargic,” he looked at her face since her face is so close to his’.
“14 hours flight, you know,” she smiled. “I really salute your endurance that you have to do this once every two to three months,”
“Yes, so you better love me more now,” he smiled.
He puts his hand around her shoulder and they slowly walked away from the place, heading to the direction of the car parking lot where he had parked his car.
“Are you hungry?” he asked.
“Actually, I do,”
“What do you want to eat? We can go have it,” he said.
“Maybe somewhere that serves food immediately,”
“So that I can finish the food quick and then quickly check in into the hotel and shower,”
He laughed. He leaned over to her head and she heard him took two quick sniffs. “You still smell good to me,”
“Smell like inside the airplane, right?” she asked.
“And probably I can take a good nap,” she adds.
His laughter fades. “Nap?”
“Yeah. Jetlag… urgh…” she lifted her hand up to look at her wristwatch, “It is 3am now in Toronto, you know,” she said.
“It is 3pm now in Taipei… and it will take one hour from the airport to the hotel… I think I can take a nap earliest by 5pm…” she said.
“You don’t have much time to nap… or probably none,”
“Why?” she asked.
“Dinner is at 7pm,”
“Ah, we can just eat slightly later. It is just two of us anyway,” she smiled.
“Umm… no. It is not two of us…”
“Not two of us?” she asked. “Then? Who else? I don’t think it is San Chai and Ah Si… you mean, Mei Zhuo or Lei?”
“No. My parents,”