Love/Hate – Chapter 3

“Yes, she is Xiao You,” Jing said.

Lei immediately turned and looked at her, “You mean you know it’s her all the while?”

“Hello? I’ve told you I just met her in London. Of course I know how she looks like, she indeed changed, right? You last see her 6 years ago. Look at her changes today,” Jing said.

“I really cannot believe it. It took me a while to recognize her…” Lei said.

“I did too. She is not like the young, innocent girl who works in the bakery store anymore. She’s a beautiful lady… like a swan,” Jing said.

“We’ve never credited her as the ugly duckling previously, we are not that bad!” Lei said.

“What I meant is that she transformed. Not about ugly duckling or something,” Jing turned looking at Lei. “Even your eyes protruded when you know it’s her. Means that she changed tremendously, beyond your recognition compared to the ‘Xiao You’ you know,”

“But… Xiao You? She… my gosh…” Lei said. “She is so stunning, I…”

“Speechless as well?” Jing asked.

“I don’t know what to say… but why is she here? I thought you said she is in London?” Lei said.

Jing rolled her eyes. “There is something called flight. There is something called job opportunity,”

“You mean she came here…”

“OKAY! Good take. Next!” the photographer said.

Xiao You smiled as she walked out from the set.

“Xiao You!” Jing called out.

Xiao You turned and looked at Jing, she smiled, and then she saw Lei, her smile slowly fades, but then she regained the smile again on her face as she walked to Jing.

“Hi Jing! Hi… Lei,” she said, obviously in two different tones.

“Hi Xiao You… I cannot believe it’s you,” Lei said.

“I didn’t expect to see you here, Lei,” Xiao You said.

“Me too…” Lei said. “You are so…”

“How are you, Lei?” Xiao You immediately interrupted.

“I’m fine… and you?” Lei asked.

“I’m very good too,” she smiled. “Thanks,”

“Why are you here?” Lei stupidly asked.

“Of course for this photo shoot! Duh,” Xiao You said.

Lei looked at her, obviously shocked with the way she responded. Maybe that is not what he has expected.

“Xiao You, we just talked two weeks ago about you coming to Taipei for a photo shoot, and I cannot believe you are here!” Jing smiled.

Xiao You laughed, “Yeah, I can’t believe it too. I received the offer from Taipei and the pay is good… so I come,” she then looked at Lei, “I bet Jing told you that we met in London, and so I wouldn’t come to Taipei for nothing,”

“True… true…” Lei said. Makes sense now. She wouldn’t be here for nothing. Photo shoot is the reason for her to come. He wonders why he asked the stupid question in the first place.

“I’m so happy we get to work together,” Jing smiled.

“Me too,” Xiao You smiled. “By the way, I need to change now, so… can I talk to you later?”

“Sure… go ahead,” Jing smiled.

“Oh wait!” Lei said, halting Xiao You’s footsteps.

Xiao You turned looking at Lei. “Yeah?”

“How long will you be in Taipei?” Lei asked.

“I am not sure, why?”

“My company will be having annual dinner next week. Would you like to attend?” Lei asked.

Jing nodded. “It will be fun to have you around,”

Xiao You looked at Lei. Her heart feels slightly heavy to that thought that she might bump onto Xi Men at the annual dinner. “I…”

“It’s going to be a formal dinner with semi-masquerade theme. You don’t have to wear with costumes. Just the mask will do to match the theme,” Jing smiled. “With then, no one will know who they are talking with… or dance… or…”

“Oh,” Xiao You said.

“Yes, it’s just a theme,” Lei said. “If… if you are worried to bump onto Xi Men… the mask will…”

“Will cover him for me, and will cover me for him, right? What is the likelihood of me bumping straight at him anyway? It’s not like the annual dinner is only for 10 people or something,” Xiao You said.

“Estimate of arrival of guests will be around 1500,” Lei said.

“So the chance ratio is about 1:1500,” Xiao You said.

“So can I take it that you are coming?” Jing smiled.

Xiao You smiled at Jing’s sincere smile. “Okay, but…”

“BUT?” Jing and Lei asked.

“Don’t tell San Chai I am back and that I am going to the dinner,” Xiao You said.

“San Chai? What if she found out herself during the dinner it’s you?” Jing asked.

“Then I’ll settle it by myself,” Xiao You said. “As long as you don’t tell her,”

“But why? I thought…” Lei said.

“She didn’t know I’m back to Taipei for work. You know her reaction if she gets to see me. I don’t want to stir those emotions and reactions up. And besides, she will be mad saying I choose to come back when she is not around. So many reasons. I choose to shut up,”

Jing and Lei frowned looking at Xiao You. Her way of phrasing words in the last sentence she uttered is weird. It’s so not Xiao You.

**********

Knock! Knock!

“Come in!” Xi Men said.

“Hi!” Mei Zhuo yelled as he opened the door of the CEO room of Xi Men Corporation and walked in.

Xi Men frowned looking at him. “Why are you so happy? There’s no gold for you here,”

“Oh, come on, I am just cheerful,” Mei Zhuo said as he sat down in front of Xi Men, as if it is his own place, like usual.

Xi Men smirked. “What brought you here?”

“I want to dig gold here,”

“HAR?”

“You just said there’s no gold, doesn’t mean there is none. Maybe you just want to take them all to yourself,” Mei Zhuo said, and smirked.

“Crappy jokes,” Xi Men said.

Mei Zhuo laughed. “Nah… I just drop by to see my workaholic friend,”

“Okay, you’ve seen me… mission accomplished,” Xi Men said.

“Awww…”

Xi Men laughed. “Oh well, it’s been a while since we really see each other though,”

“It is you super busy okay…to ask you out is more difficult than making business appointment with you,” Mei Zhuo said. “Via Secretary Xu!!!”

Xi Men laughed again. “Xi Men Corporation is expanding. Of course I must work harder,”

“Hmm… when was the last time I see you…” Mei Zhuo scratched his chin.

“During our farewell dinner with Ah Si, the day before Ah Si left for his worldwide trip,” Xi Men said, typing at the keyboard and looked at the computer.

“That is like ONE MONTH already!” Mei Zhuo exclaimed. “And he is coming back next week for 2 days,”

Xi Men frowned at him, “Do you have problem with mathematics?”

“What?”

“Ah Si is going for worldwide trip for months. Not ONE month. You just said he left for almost a month. How can he come back next week?”

“Do you have problem with your hearing? I said he is coming back for 2 days,”

“Huh? 2 days?”

“Ah Si agreed to come for Lei’s annual dinner,” Mei Zhuo said.

“Annual dinner?”

“HAH!!” Mei Zhuo pointed at him. “You must have forgotten the dinner!”

Xi Men grabbed the table calendar and quickly take a look at it. “AH! It’s next week?!”

“Imagine if I never came today!”

“Then you will come tomorrow,”

“HEY!” Mei Zhuo said.

Xi Men laughed. “Yes… I totally forgot about the dinner…”

“Well. Ah Si will come back for 2 days, solely to attend Lei’s annual dinner. So, are you ready with your mask?”

“Mask?”

“You forgot the theme as well?”

“Crap,”

Mei Zhuo shook his head. “What is wrong with you?”

“What? I am just plain busy working that I forgot…”

“You know what? Since the day Xiao You left 6 years ago, you changed. After the graduation a year later, you work in this company and just hide here…”

Xi Men interrupted, “Wait, wait, wait. Xiao You? Why are you mentioning her name again?”

“No? I don’t care okay. I know how you felt for her when she was around. I am not sure about your feelings for her now, and I don’t bother, because if you are not eager, does not care about, who am I to care for you?” Mei Zhuo said.

“I still don’t get it. Why does everyone have to relate me with her? She is Xiao You, I am me. Why does everyone have to say that I changed because she left?”

“Because you do change,” Mei Zhuo said.

“No, I didn’t,”

“Where the hell are your playboy years?”

“Those were the past,”

“And what makes you forgo your playboy character?”

“Because I am done with that part of my life!”

“What makes you done with that part of your life if you are not in love with anyone out there? Nothing triggers you after all, unless you suffered ED,”

“Suffer your head. I am very normal,”

“First of all, I am not your partner. I don’t know if you are lying to me about you suffering ED or not,” Mei Zhuo said, “Second, you did not respond to me about the ‘in love’ question,”

“Why do you have to take every word of mine and hit it back on me?”

“Then why do you still not answering that?”

“Do I have to? I am not,”

“Does not mean you didn’t in the past,”

Xi Men quiet.

“And you kept quiet… now,”

“Look, to me, she…”

“LOOK,” Mei Zhuo interrupts louder. Xi Men stares at him. “I have enough of you saying you don’t like her, or you treat her just as friend, or anything. Give me something fresh like you LOVE her,”

“Mei Zhuo! How…!”

“No? Then no need to say anything. I am done with the repetition,” Mei Zhuo said.

“Eh, why are you attacking me? Xiao Qiao makes you mad, is it?”

Mei Zhuo glared at him, “What is my wife gotta do with this?”

“I don’t know. She makes you mad or bullies you and you need a place to release all your stress?”

Mei Zhuo rolled his eyes. “Okay. This has nothing to do with my wife. Back to the story, you know your own feelings, IF you have any for her. I don’t want to argue about this with you, this is none of my business,”

“Then what is?”

“Lei’s annual dinner. Prepare your mask and please attend the dinner on the date. And please be punctual,” Mei Zhuo said.

Xi Men glared at him.

“Looks like I have to send you emails, SMS, and call you up prior to the annual dinner to keep reminding you,” Mei Zhuo said.

“Eh! Don’t be so fussy ok! You’ll irritate me more!”

“Don’t let me catch you late!”

“7.30pm, I know!” Xi Men said.

“It’s 7pm!” Mei Zhuo said. “See? You’re late!”

“Crap,”

“By the way, Jing went to London for Xiao Qiao’s performance a couple of weeks ago and saw Xiao You,” Mei Zhuo said.

Xi Men stopped for a while. “Xiao You?” he looked at Mei Zhuo.

“Yeah. What’s with that look? I thought you are not bothered,” Mei Zhuo said.

“Trying to test me?”

“I am your buddy. I don’t need to test you,”

“Since when do you reside in my tummy?”

“Do I have to?” Mei Zhuo laughed. “You just showed that stunned face. I know it better than residing in your tummy because I don’t get to see your facial expression if I am in your tummy,”

Xi Men laughed. “Whatever, Mei Zhuo. I will be going to Lei’s annual dinner. I’ll mark that down on my BlackBerry now,” he took the BlackBerry out and jot down. “And I am pretty sure the one you said about Jing meeting Xiao You is truly a made up story, so that you can play a prank on me,”

Mei Zhuo frowned looking at him, “Why do I have to make a story up for you?”

“Because you are Mei Zhuo,”

“Since when my name has a relation to that!”

“I am not gonna believe you,” Xi Men smiled. “Xiao You is in Canada, not London,”

“Lei is there and he hears it too, you can ask him,”

“Trust me it’ll not work on me. Because if I have to ask him, it’s because you already told him to say that at me,”

“Urgh, you made a story better than I do. Why don’t you just resign your job and be a story writer,” Mei Zhuo said. “I don’t see the need to made a story up for you after all,”

“You have every single reason in the world to made one up for me,” Xi Men said.

“Duh,”

Xi Men tilted his head and smirked annoyingly. “Done!” he then slipped the BlackBerry into his pants.

“Whatever, you better appear at Lei’s annual dinner, with a mask please,”

“Oh! Mask!” Xi Men took the BlackBerry out again.

“ARGH!”


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