“Are you sure you want to go to Taiwan?”
Xiao You turned to look at her best friend, Harry, who is focusing on the airline website. “Yes, I am sure,” she replied.
“Well, alright,” Harry moved the cursor of the mouse to select the departure and arrival destination.
“Do you want to come with me?”
“You have always intrigued me with Taiwan, all the time. I do want to go, but, how long are you planning to be there?” Harry asked, finally turned to look at her, before he turned back to look at the computer, waiting for the page to load.
“6 weeks,” Xiao You smiled.
“Six…” Harry looked at her again, “Did you just say 6 weeks? Or… you want to say… 6 days?”
“6 weeks,” Xiao You confirmed.
“WHAT?! That is like so long…!” he is surprised.
“Well, 6 weeks wasn’t really long… And you still can’t cover all of Taiwan in 6 weeks, so…” Xiao You smiled as she passed her passport to him, for him to key in her details in the flight tickets. “6 weeks is pretty much the bare minimum, or just enough,”
“Unfortunately I can’t take 6 weeks leave from my work, especially right now when I am in the middle of a project. I’m going to get fired before I even come back,” Harry smiled as he took the passport. “Next time then,”
“If next time, I am not sure when I will be free to bring you around,” Xiao You smiled.
“It is okay. Just write me a list, and tell me what I need to know and where I need to go, I will follow accordingly. Don’t worry about me. I will try my best not to get lost in Taiwan,” Harry laughed. “So, confirm going?”
“Yes, confirm,” Xiao You smiled.
“Alright, let’s proceed with buying the tickets. Now tell me the dates you want to go and come back…” Harry said.
“CEO Xi Men, President Xi Men is here,”
Xi Men, sitting on his CEO seat in his room, lifted up his head suavely to look at the desk phone. He leaned forward and pressed the button to reply to Secretary Xu.
“Sure, thank you Secretary Xu,” Xi Men replied.
CLACK. (door open)
“President Xi Men,” Secretary Xu said, a hand holding the door knob and another politely pointed to President Xi Men to make his way in.
“Xi Men,” Mr. Xi Men called as he walked to the seat in front of Xi Men and sits down while Secretary Xu closed the door.
“Hi dad,” Xi Men said as he lifted up his head to look at his father walking in into his CEO room of Xi Men Corporation. He then turned to look at his computer screen. “I am going to nail the project with Hex Corporation, dad. Don’t worry,” he said as he typed.
“Oh, I believe you. I have never doubted your capability, son,” Mr. Xi Men smiled as he straightened his coat and Xi Men smiled upon hearing that. “In terms of work, of course, but I am not going to say the same about your personal life,”
Xi Men stopped typing and frowned. “Huh?” he turned to look at his father. “What do you mean?”
Mr. Xi Men smiled a bit. “How was Amanda?”
The frown on Xi Men’s face faded. Now he understood why his dad says ‘personal life’. With a couldn’t-care-less facial expression, he swallowed the tiny lump in his throat and looking down to his files, he casually said, “She is fine,”
“How did you get along with her?”
Still having his eyes fixed at the files, and not interested at all with the topic, “It was okay,”
“See, I’ve told you that you will get along with Amanda,” Mr. Xi Men smiled.
Xi Men had a weird yet sarcastic smile on his face, refusing to comment anything or look at his father.
“How many dates have you both been to?”
“A couple. I did not take note,” Xi Men said, exhaling his breath and pondering when is the Q&A session going to end.
“Sounds great. Amanda is a nice person, right?”
“Yes, she is,” Xi Men casually responded. “Too nice, in fact,” he softly said.
“I am so glad, son. For so many years… finally you found a girl,”
Xi Men didn’t like how his father put those words together. “Dad, I did not find any. You arranged that,”
“I have never seen you dated for… I think… 10 years?”
“Almost. But then, so?” Xi Men asked.
“It is time to settle down,”
“Dad,” Xi Men looked at his father. “We’ve talked this thru damn a lot of times and I don’t want to talk about it again. NO,” he sternly said.
“Why not? You’ve just said Amanda is nice. You’ve gone for a few dates with her. Both of you get along well, right?”
“That doesn’t mean she is the ONE,” Xi Men tried reasoning with his father.
“If Amanda is not the one, then I will find you another,”
“ANOTHER?!” Xi Men yelled upon hearing that one magic word. “Geez, dad! I am still young. I am just 30 years old! I just don’t understand why you need to be so desperate to find me a partner,”
“If you don’t get married soon, you will be too old to be a father,”
“What kind of logic is too old to be a father?!” Xi Men exclaimed. “There is no such thing as too old! I can still be a father if I want to at the age of 60!”
“Alright, let me correct my point. Once you get married, you can have kids as soon as possible,”
“I don’t have a potential candidate to be my wife yet and you are telling me about having kids? I don’t even know if I am going to get married,”
“Yes you will get married and have kids,”
“You are not me, you won’t know. Even if I am getting married, it doesn’t mean I must have kids,”
“You must have kids,”
“Dad, why are you doing this to me?” he asked, seeing the conversation is going nowhere.
“You are Xi Men heir. You need a kid to transfer your wealth to when you died,”
Xi Men glared at his father. “You are looking forward for me to die now? Can you please don’t curse me?”
“Look, I have to be very honest with you. This empire is already yours. It will come a day when you are going to do exactly the same thing like me, passing down the empire to your children,” Mr. Xi Men said. “And having kids will fulfill your life. I can’t describe much to you about that ‘father feeling’ for I know you will not understand because you are not a father yet,”
“And also some special ‘ecstatic’ feeling when you are putting pressures to them, like what you are doing to me now?” Xi Men sarcastically said.
Mr. Xi Men glared at Xi Men. “I do not see a problem with asking you to start your own family!”
“Dad, how can I start one when I don’t even have a significant other?” he questioned.
“But you said you are getting along with Amanda?”
“Let me say it again. She is only good enough as a friend,” Xi Men said, rolling his eyes. “I don’t love her and I can’t see myself loving her,”
“Those feelings can come slowly,”
“Those feelings do not come to everybody,” Xi Men said.
“It will happen between you and Amanda,”
“Dad, I agree to your matchmaking with her because of your constant nagging and pressure about me settling down but I have told you I am not going to settle down with someone I don’t like and Amanda is just a daughter to some rich businessman we are about to partner with and I totally have no feelings for her. I repeat; I can’t see myself loving her,”
“But she does have feelings for you, right?”
“That is not my problem, I don’t like her,” Xi Men said. “And besides, I can’t imagine having kids with her,” he suddenly felt disgusted with that thought.
“I have said it, you MUST have kids,” Mr. Xi Men is obviously sensitive with the statement Xi Men had just made.
“How can I have kids with someone I don’t love? I can’t imagine you can have one like that,”
Mr. Xi Men frowned at his son. “A part of me couldn’t believe what I have just heard from you. Aren’t you a playboy back then and you slept with just about any girls out there? You don’t get yourself attached emotionally to them but you have no problems sleeping with them, right? I bet you know very well that same ‘process’ is how you have kids,”
Xi Men rolled his eyes. “Dad, I am NOT a playboy anymore. Yes, I have no problems sleeping with them back then, but that was back then, alright? Back then. So today; NO. I said NO,”
“Alright, alright. Fine. Look,” Mr. Xi Men adjusted his sitting position. “You don’t love her now doesn’t mean you will not love her later. It will come a time where you will feel responsible for her. I have faith in you that you will love her as long as you give yourself a chance and time to accept it,”
“Yes, giving myself a chance to torture myself, right? Dad, please accept that whatever your perception is, it is not the same with me and it doesn’t mean the same thing will happen to me. I cannot have kids with one that I don’t love. I am going to say the same if she and I had role reversal that she will not want to be married to me and have kids with me if she doesn’t love me,”
“I have you and your older brother, even though your mom has never loved me,”
At the speed of lightning, Xi Men’s eyes are locked to his father.
Mr. Xi Men took a deep breath. “Okay, son. I know we have strayed from the topic too far. My initial intention was to talk about you settling down. The kids issue is something that should come later on, not right now. Let’s just stay focus to the potential partner first since you can’t go anywhere without that,” he said. “Okay, do you have someone you like right now? Or some potential candidate in mind?”
“No,” Xi Men replied without hesitation and his eyes looked away to the files again.
“Then try with Amanda,”
“Dad, no,” Xi Men rolled his eyes due to the repetition of topic or rather, the same person, before he glared at his father. “I can only tolerate to the matchmaking you set me up and the dates you forced me to go with her, that is all. No more,” he said. “I really don’t get it. I don’t understand why you keep bringing it up and match make me with YOUR potential candidate,”
“Then you probably need to understand why I keep bringing it up,” Mr. Xi Men said.
“That is why I agree to go out with Amanda so that you will stop bringing it up!” Xi Men said, already frustrated with the topic. “And I am already going out with her, and you are still talking about it, URGH!”
“I have attended President Dao Ming, President Hua Ze and President Ling’s son’s weddings and…”
“Dad, please,” Xi Men said, baring both of his hands. “We had this talk way too much, so please. Lei, Mei Zhuo and Ah Si get married, doesn’t mean I should do it as soon as possible too, right?”
“Are you gay, son? If you are, please say so,”
Xi Men frowned at that statement. “What? Why are you accusing me that all of a sudden? Just because I don’t like Amanda, why are you saying I am gay?! Must I be with Amanda to tell you I am not gay? Is that what you think?”
“Look. I am not accusing you. I am asking you. I know you are a playboy when you were in University. And then you ditched that playboy life and I thought you are changing for better. And that you probably are getting matured. But don’t get me wrong son, you ditched the playboy life and GIRLS altogether; at the same time! I have never seen you hanging out or go out with a girl. EVER!”
Xi Men rolled his eyes. “I am straight, dad. Damn f*cking straight. I can’t believe you would think I am gay,”
“Really?” Mr. Xi Men skeptically looked at Xi Men.
“I am serious! I like girls,” Xi Men said. “I don’t have to repeat myself about that, should I?”
“But you haven’t had any girlfriends for as long as I remember!”
“It is because I am not interested with any of them, that is why I stayed single,” Xi Men said.
“And that is why I ask you to try it with Amanda,”
“HERE WE GO AGAIN,” Xi Men said, rolling his eyes.
“Xi Men, the potential candidate for you to get married with is getting less day by day. To have an adult, mature and single daughter with the same social status like us to be matched to you, is not an easy find. If you don’t grab Amanda now, she will be taken by someone else, and I will have to find one for you again, which is not easy but I will do it anyway,”
Xi Men squeezed his head. “I rather be gay than doing all of these,”
“I said I don’t want to do all of these,” Xi Men said out loud now.
“If you can find one, then I will stop nagging you or ask you to keep trying it out with Amanda,”
Xi Men looked at his father as he exhaled in frustration. “So are you saying you will continue finding me a woman until I agree to one?” he asked.
Xi Men took a deep breath as he refused to speak more now. He knew he is at a losing end. This is a never ending situation until he settles down with someone.
He probably shouldn’t have agreed to go out with Amanda because he wanted to stop his dad from all the naggings about finding someone special. And after he had gone out with her, now he has new problems. His father didn’t know what he had been through that lead to the drastic change in him precisely 9 years ago.
“Here’s what I can tell you. I know I sounded desperate in asking you to get married because I want to see you having your own family. You have been single for so many years and at the same time, I just do not want good and potential daughter-in-law disappears in front of me,” Mr. Xi Men said.
“So, you are telling me that I don’t have a choice, right?” Xi Men asked.
“I didn’t say you don’t have a choice. I just want you to try it with Amanda because you are single and she is single too. Give yourself more time to develop your feelings with her. It does take time, sometimes months, sometimes years. Amanda is a really nice person. Who knows your opinion about both of you being together might change?”
Xi Men sits back at his chairman chair, clasped his hands together as he looked away, deep into his thought. So many things suddenly flooded his mind. So.Many.Things.
Mr. Xi Men looked at him, understood that Xi Men is probably troubled by the fact. He didn’t want to see his son like this, but he knew if he is not going to do anything, Xi Men probably will die alone.
“I can assure you, all of this will stop once you settled down,” Mr. Xi Men said.
Xi Men turned, looking straight at his father.
“Hey,” a hand smacked down on Xi Men’s right shoulder.
Xi Men turned and lifted up his eyes to look at Mei Zhuo. “Hey,” Xi Men responded as he smiled lightly. “Both of you came together,” he pointed at Mei Zhuo and Lei who is standing next to Mei Zhuo.
“Yeah, I went to fetch Lei,” Mei Zhuo smiled. “Where is Ah Si?”
“He can’t come. He said he had promised San Chai to spend some time with the kids tonight,” Xi Men said.
“Oh, okay,” Mei Zhuo said.
“I hate to be honest about this. VS is like our place when we needed to vent some frustrations or problems,” Lei smiled as he took his seat next to Xi Men. “We used to hang out and have fun at this place but now we wouldn’t even think about this place if we don’t have problems or needed a place to sit down and talk with a glass of alcohol in hand,”
“Frustrations? Problems? Whose?” Xi Men asked, blankly looking at Lei.
“I thought it was yours?” Mei Zhuo asked as he takes his seat at the other side of Xi Men.
“Mine?” Xi Men asked, turned to look at Mei Zhuo.
“You suggested this place, right?” Lei asked.
“Then? That doesn’t mean I have problems,” Xi Men said.
“Well, if not, then why the suggestion to come out and meet at a last minute? It’s not like we frequented this place as often as we did back then,” Mei Zhuo smiled. “If it is not for you, Xiao Qiao would have whacked me for coming here,” he started laughing.
“I have no problems or frustrations to vent,” Xi Men smiled. “But it has been a really long time since we actually came here. I just sort of remember this place,”
“Oh, really? If that is all that you want to say… then I need to leave,” Lei said, standing up.
“Oh hey, hey,” Xi Men extended his hand to stop Lei and said, “Do you really have to do that?”
“Jing knows that the reason I came to VS is because one of us have problems or something to express and we really needed each other to talk. So if you are really not having any problems, it means I am not needed here. Someone else at home needs me more than you needing me to sit here and stare at you fancying your drink,”
“Alright, alright,” Xi Men said, retracting his hand. “I hate it when you are right about this kind of things like all the time,” he sighed, staring at his beer.
Lei sits down again, and a waiter came.
“Beer,” Mei Zhuo said to the waiter.
“Beer,” Lei said. “And a basket of chips,”
“Eat again?” Mei Zhuo asked, after the waiter left.
“You eat popcorn when you watched a movie in the cinema,” Lei said.
“Gosh, are you taking that my problem is a movie to you?” Xi Men asked.
“Ah, there, you have just admitted you have problems,” Lei smirked at Xi Men.
“Urgh,” Xi Men rolled his eyes.
“Actually I am just itching to bite some stuffs, so don’t mind me,” Lei said.
“And so, Lei is right. He told me in the car just now while we are on our way here, that there must be a problem with you. So… spill,” Mei Zhuo said.
Lei nodded as Xi Men looked at them.
Xi Men took a couple of deep breaths. With a straight face, “You know… Amanda…”
“Yes, the daughter of President Lee from Hex Corporation,” Mei Zhuo said.
“And the girl you are currently dating,” Lei said, to which earns a glare from Xi Men.
Xi Men is unhappy with what Lei had said even though he knew Lei is just joking. “You know I don’t like her. I really don’t want to term it as a ‘date’,”
“Correction, you don’t love her. Even though you don’t want to term it as a ‘date’, it is still a date,” Mei Zhuo said. “I saw you going out with her 3 days ago,”
“You saw me?” Xi Men looked at Mei Zhuo and frowned.
“Even though I don’t walk around my shopping mall often, but you do know you have a chance of bumping onto me at my mall, right?” Mei Zhuo asked. “Especially on lunch hours,”
“Why didn’t you flag me or come and…”
“You are with her. Why should I come and interrupt?”
“I don’t treat you like that. You are my buddy. You can come and bug me anytime,” Xi Men said.
“But I don’t treat her like that. She will probably think I am rude and such. I don’t know her that well like how I know San Chai and Jing to interrupt anytime I want when I saw them on the streets,” Mei Zhuo said. “Anyhow it is your time. So I should give you your space. So, from that one meeting I saw you, I supposed you do like her as a person but I don’t think you love her,”
“I don’t even dare to say I like her as a person. She is a nice girl… but I definitely don’t love her…” Xi Men said. “But is it so easy to derive that from my face?”
“Yes,” Mei Zhuo said, as he looked at the waiter placing down the beer glasses and the basket of chips in front of Lei. “You were smiling at her but I can see from your face that the ‘passion’ is missing. And you do look bored actually. So I know you don’t really enjoy your ‘date’,”
“I wish my father thinks just like you. If only he understood when I keep saying I don’t like her in that sense,” Xi Men said.
“If you ask me, just from what you have said, not including what Mei Zhuo had described about the encounter, it seems that you are mingling well with Amanda,” Lei said.
“Only as a friend,” Xi Men said, taking a deep breath. “To be honest, she is a nice person. But I only treat her like a normal friend. There is no sparks or whatever romantic and passionate words and feelings you can include,”
“But I think she likes you… like, romantically and passionately?” Mei Zhuo said, copying Xi Men’s words while constantly turned his sight to look at Lei literally wrapping his hands around the basket of chips and popping one after another into his mouth.
Xi Men rolled his eyes in response to what Mei Zhuo had just said.
“If you ask me about how I see it that day, of course; she had that content and happy face. Like she had found a great companion. Life companion,” Mei Zhuo said.
“But I don’t. I don’t have the same feeling. I don’t love her,” Xi Men rubbed his head. “And most of all, I cannot stand my dad anymore for nagging me and pushing me for it,”
“Then just stop going out with her. Your dad sets you up with her. You told us you are doing this because you wanted to shut your dad up as he keeps pressuring you about having a relationship. You did it. He should be leaving you alone now,” Lei said, munching the chips in his mouth.
“I wish it is that simple,” Xi Men said.
“What is tough for Xi Men? You were a playboy. How can this be tough for you?” Mei Zhuo asked.
Xi Men took a big gulp of the beer, before harshly puts the beer glass down onto the table – fortunately not breaking it. He swallowed the big bitter gulp down his throat. “I am engaged,” he said.
Lei and Mei Zhuo looked at Xi Men.
Lei and Mei Zhuo immediately turned to look at each other.
Xi Men looked at Lei, and then Mei Zhuo, and then Lei again, “Guys, say something,” Xi Men said, this time turned to look at Mei Zhuo, seriously waiting for their respond.
Cough! Cough! Cough!
Mei Zhuo and Xi Men turned to look at Lei who is coughing.
“I ask you to say something, not cough something,” Xi Men said as he looked at Lei taking a gulp of his beer.
“Damn chips, *cough* got choked,” Lei said. “But who are you engaged to? *soft cough*”
Xi Men rolled his eyes. “Who else?”
“Amanda Lee?” Lei and Mei Zhuo asked at the same time.
Xi Men nodded hesitantly.
“For real? Amanda? But didn’t you just say you don’t like her? Why…?” Mei Zhuo asked.
“It is my dad,” Xi Men said, squeezing his head.
“He sets you up in a marriage?” Lei asked. “Go fight for yourself, dude! You can’t be marrying someone you don’t like and spend the rest of your life with her,”
“Correction. His constant nagging is getting on my nerves. He has been talking about marriage and having kids over and over and over and over that I am sick of it. And he said I need to find someone whose background and social status is similar to us, and if Amanda is taken by someone else, he will have to find another for me again. This is going to be a cycle, repeating after itself until I pick one and get married,” Xi Men said.
“Hmmm? So…?” Lei asked.
”He said, if I marry her, he will stop bugging me,” Xi Men said. “So I agreed,”
“WHAT?!” Lei and Mei Zhuo practically screamed.
Xi Men is not surprised with their reaction; he just grabbed the beer and takes a big gulp.
“But you just complained about how you didn’t like her and have no feelings for her… but you agreed to marry her?” Lei asked. “Marriage is for life, dude!”
“I know,” Xi Men nonchalantly said.
“Dude, you don’t like Amanda. Why are you letting your dad’s temporary nagging pushes you to accept the marriage?” Mei Zhuo asked.
Xi Men swallowed a lump in his throat. “As you have said, Mei Zhuo. She likes me in that sense. My dad likes her too. I mean… it won’t harm much to make them happy,” his gaze remained at the glass of beer in his hand.
Lei senses the weird response from Xi Men.
“Harm much? But it is your life we are talking about. A moment of unhappiness is fine but this is 50 years down the road for you,” Mei Zhuo said. “How can you let yourself suffer in that kind of environment?”
“I have been living like this for the last 9 years. It wouldn’t make a difference for many years down the road and a decade after decade,” Xi Men said. “After all, regardless married or not, it is going to be the same with how I live my life anyway. So, if I can make a few people happy in addition to the current situation that I am living in… why not?”
“Your dad’s naggings is not the sole reason that makes you decide to marry Amanda,” Lei said.
Xi Men’s eyes shot up and he looked at Lei. Even Mei Zhuo turned and looked at Lei.
“I heard your tone. The Xi Men I know has a lot of dreams and passions as well as determination in his life. You have been giving in to your dad’s naggings to hook you up for dates, but you are not the kind of person that will be giving up your rest of your life just because of something as simple as your dad’s naggings,” Lei said.
Xi Men looked at Lei, and he took a deep breath. After a brief pause, “You are right,” he murmured.
Mei Zhuo smirked at Lei. “You are awesome,”
Lei smirked at Mei Zhuo too, and then he looked at Xi Men, “So, what are your other reasons?”
Xi Men bites his lower lip before taking a long, deep breath and his eyes looked down. “I probably won’t fall in love, ever again. I don’t even know how it feels to be in love anymore,”
“In love?” Mei Zhuo asked.
Xi Men’s eyes strayed for he knew his words have gave him away.
“I supposed the last time you are really, really happy is…” Lei’s eyes strayed for a while as his mind is calculating the numbers, “…9 years ago, when we were in University… with Xiao You,”
Xi Men lifted his eyes up and looked straight at Lei with an instant change of expression when Lei uttered the name. He swallowed the lump in his throat and he looked down to his beer, “It is past, Lei,”
“You were in love?” Mei Zhuo tried to confirm with Xi Men upon looking at his reaction. “You were seriously in love?”
Xi Men ignored Mei Zhuo; he took up his glass of beer for another gulp.
“I know we have never talked much about her. But I know how much she had impacted your life,” Lei said. “I know how upset you are when she leaves,”
Xi Men took a deep breath before exhaling it. “I can hide nothing from you, right? “
Lei smirked and he said, “We know you well, better than your dad knows you. He didn’t know what you have been thru. But we do. And I know you are pretending as though everything is okay when it is not. When I came and sit down next to you just now, I already know you have problems. So you don’t really have to pretend in front of us; just about anything,” to which that statement leads to Mei Zhuo agrees with a nod.
Xi Men sighed. “I have to pretend that I am alright all the time. And in front of my father, I have to pretend as though I have never fallen in love or didn’t know what love feels like,”
“I know you pretended in front of us as though nothing significant or major happened in your life. But you do know we are the place for you to be yourself and a channel for you to just let everything inside your heart out,” Lei smiled. “I know what your father did to you bugs you which is why you go out with Amanda to stop him from continue bugging you. And I know with Xiao You leaving back then bugs you too… which is why you changed 9 years ago,”
“Xiao You… hey, why don’t you go and look for her?” Mei Zhuo asked.
Xi Men turned to look at Mei Zhuo this time. “Something that is past… best left as past,” and then suddenly, he sighed.
“I don’t get it. That is the best part of your life. Why are you letting it go just like that? Why don’t you fight for your own? This is your happiness we are talking about,” Mei Zhuo said.
“If you ask me, reason number one, my dad won’t approve Xiao You even if she and I are together,” Xi Men said. “Because she is not like us,”
“Well, seriously, is that a concern to you? We truly believe you will fight for yourself and for Xiao You if she is with you, just like how Ah Si did to his mother because of San Chai…” Mei Zhuo said and Lei nodded. “Anyway, and reason number two?”
Xi Men took a deep breath. “It has been 9 years. Ever since she went back to Toronto after the billboard incident, I have never heard from her again. I actually wrote her letters but she never replied, not even one. And the last few… were bounced back due to no such person in the address. She moved. I don’t know where she is,”
“You never asked San Chai?” Lei asked.
“I did. I still remember it was the night my dad organized an appreciation party for me, for raking in TWD$1 billion project for Xi Men Corporation when I was a manager,” Xi Men said.
“The night I first saw Xiao Qiao?” Mei Zhuo asked.
“Yeah,” Xi Men smiled. “I still remember I introduced her to you, and you said she is just another expensive vase,” he started laughing.
Lei laughed. “Ah, I remember. Now she is your wife,” he patted Mei Zhuo whose face is reddened.
“Hey, this is not about me. We should go back to you,” Mei Zhuo said, glaring at Xi Men. “I don’t remember San Chai attended your party,”
“We went to look for her at Dao Ming Corporation, remember?” Xi Men said.
“Oh, yeah…” Mei Zhuo said, and Lei nodded.
“You guys weren’t around when I asked San Chai that time. Actually. My question that time… I wanted to ask for Xiao You’s address, but I end up asking San Chai how is Xiao You. And San Chai told me… ‘you can ask her yourself since you have her address’ and I replied with something so unbelievable that I don’t even know why I said that,” he looked at his friends briefly. “I told her I was a playboy and ask if she is serious about pushing Xiao You to me,” he disappointedly said. “I screw up my own chance to ask San Chai for the address and I am still beating myself about it,”
“And why don’t you hire a private investigator?” Mei Zhuo asked. “We do that once in a while so I don’t think that idea would have totally slipped off your mind for the last 9 years,”
“I did. Three different PIs. But they told me the same thing. They can’t find Xiao You. I was so desperate that time I even ask them to check if she could have died…” Xi Men said.
“And…?” Mei Zhuo asked.
“Thankfully there is no record,” Xi Men glares at Mei Zhuo. “Do you actually expect me to say yes? Do you really want her to… die?” he softly said the last word.
“Excuse me, I was just asking for the result. She is my friend too. I wouldn’t want anything to happen to her,” Mei Zhuo returned the glare to Xi Men.
“Can’t find her at all? That is strange,” Lei said with a frown on his face.
“Strange, right. I wonder too. But… she probably didn’t want me to find her,” Xi Men lowered his head slightly. “I had given up since then. And I guess… since it’s been years, she must have moved on. I tell myself that I should move on too,”
“Clearly you are moving on in the wrong way…” Lei mumbled, earning a glare from Xi Men.
“I have never heard you mentioned this before, about searching for Xiao You. When did this happen?” Mei Zhuo asked.
“About 8 years ago when my letters bounced back and after my failed attempt to get the address from San Chai,” Xi Men said. “Too depressing to even mention about it,”
“Actually… what happened between you and Xiao You?” Mei Zhuo asked.
“What do you mean by what happened. She migrated to Toronto 9 years ago,” Xi Men said.
“But she came back to show you the billboard, right?” Lei asked. “And you tried to hide from her by using me at that time,” he rolled his eyes.
Ignoring Lei’s latter statement, “She went back to Toronto after that. And that was it,” Xi Men said.
“But only showing you a billboard; will make you like this, and make her avoid or move without telling you her new address?” Mei Zhuo asked.
Xi Men didn’t respond.
“I hate to say this, but… I know you must have felt something special for Xiao You; and losing her is painful to you. It has been years. I know how bad it feels. I don’t think you should put Amanda thru your agony. She won’t be happy knowing you are not happy,” Lei said. “I mean, she is innocent. She also wished that you are happy…”
“Then recommend me someone that should go thru my agony,” Xi Men glanced over to Lei.
“Huh?” Lei asked. “How…?” he even questioned that.
“My dad is the one that pushes me to do this. So he is the one that puts Amanda thru this with me,” Xi Men said.
“You are blaming your dad for this?” Mei Zhuo asked. “When you are the one agreeing to marry her? It is not like he set you up and making you engaged without you knowing it,”
Xi Men took a deep breath. “I have no feelings for Amanda. I do not want to marry her either but he is the one pushing me to the edge and I seriously can’t take it anymore. Since he wants things to work like that, then it is not supposed to be my problem,”
Lei took a deep breath. “I think… you should take a bit of responsibility in that…”
“We are from high class society. We can speak for ourselves. But there are certain occasions where we are not allowed to even speak or give our opinions but are forced to go thru with it. As we have always known, one of the matters is about our other halves,” Xi Men said, glancing over to Lei and then to Mei Zhuo. “Both of you are lucky because your partner is one like us. So you do not have problems about that,” Xi Men added. “Yes, both of you are right. I am indeed not the kind of person that will give up my entire life after being pushed by something as petty as my dad’s nagging. I will fight for my own if I really have someone I love, or if I haven’t given up on finding love. But now, I am too tired to fight, and, I am at the losing end, or even to wait for a love that will never come my way, or rather… I am waiting for nothing. And I am so devastated with how my life goes now,”
“How can you be so sure that love will never come your way again?” Lei asked.
“I have given up hope in love and relationships, Lei,” Xi Men said, looking straight at Lei.
Lei and Mei Zhuo exchanged glances again, without saying anything else.
Xi Men looked at the beer in front of him. “I admitted that I do feel differently for Xiao You. I will never see another woman the same way like how I have viewed Xiao You. I will compare every single woman out there with Xiao You. To me, she is perfect in her own way that no one else will be up to that par. What I have for Xiao You is special and no one will top that, no matter how and what I do,” he said. “But she has already long gone from my picture. So… perhaps, marrying Amanda is just the next step in life to move on,”
“But I don’t think that is a good idea…” Mei Zhuo said.
“It is indeed not a good idea at all. I didn’t want to do this either. But do I have an option?” Xi Men asked Mei Zhuo, “Unless Amanda also didn’t want this… but it will not happen, since she looks happy with me, as claimed by you,”
“Since you said you didn’t want then…”
“I am tired and I really don’t want to fight anymore,” Xi Men said, interrupting Mei Zhuo.
“I will be happy for you if you really want this, but… I don’t know what and how to react,” Lei said.
“It is okay. I don’t know too,” Xi Men said, taking up his beer and takes another gulp. “At the moment, I am just taking whatever life throws at me,”
Mei Zhuo and Lei exchanged glances.
That’s a really sad Xi Men. Really, really sad.