Xi Men enters his penthouse and puts down his luggage, and then slams his butt down on the couch in his living room.
“Ah, nice to be home,” he murmured as he leaned his back against the couch.
His eyes are fixed to the ceiling of his home.
Despite he likes the comfort of his home, he soon realized… he is alone, and lonely.
Something that he had not felt for the whole week.
Being around Xiao You and Emily gives him life. He is so happy to be around them.
But Emily is someone else’s daughter, yet he felt so close with her; because his heart says Emily is Xiao You’s precious daughter, that is why he doesn’t mind and he loves to be close with Emily.
“Ah,” he suddenly remembered. “Need to ask if they have reached Kenting…”
He sits up and fished out his smartphone from his pants.
And then he realized.
The phone has been off for the whole week. Turning it back on will lead to listing out the list of tremendous emails, missed calls and SMS messages.
But after all… he needs to turn it on… right?
Nowhere to run.
He turned it on and waited for the phone to start up.
50 missed calls.
59 text messages.
He shook at the sight of it as he is in disbelief at the number that pops up on the screen. So difficult to be away for a week.
Emails from both work and personal.
Missed calls from his dad, Amanda, Lei, Mei Zhuo and Ah Si.
Text messages from Amanda, Lei, Mei Zhuo and Ah Si.
And Xiao You.
“Eh?” Xi Men is surprised when he saw the latest text message is from Xiao You. That name itself excites him and he clicks on it immediately.
‘Uncle Xi Men, we have reached Kenting. The beach and the view are awesome! Wish you were here, but I know you have to work. So see you in 2 weeks! – Emily.’
Xi Men smiled. It is from Emily… using Xiao You’s phone.
Of course… Emily would miss him more than Xiao You would. After all, they are just friends.
He could only smile faintly as he pressed on the ‘reply’ button.
And then he starts typing his message…
Xiao You dives her hand into her shorts to take out her smartphone.
“Mommy, is it from Uncle Xi Men?” Emily asked.
“Why, you miss him already?” Xiao You smiled.
“I have gotten use to having him around us the whole week, it just feels weird that he is not around now…” Emily scratches her head.
Xiao You smiled as she pressed the icon to read the text message.
‘Xiao You, I am home. Don’t worry, I didn’t board the wrong train. Enjoy your trip and see you & Emily in 2 weeks. – Xi Men.’
A small laugh escapes her mouth when she reads ‘I didn’t board the wrong train’. “Yes, Emily. It is Uncle Xi Men. He is telling us that he is already back in Taipei,”
“Good morning, CEO Xi Men,” Secretary Xu called as Xi Men walked passed his table, heading towards his CEO room.
“Good morning Secretary Xu,” Xi Men replied. “Please get me black coffee, and then… we’ll have a discussion,”
“Sure, sir,” Secretary Xu said, and after saving his important document on the computer, he quickly heads to the pantry and makes the black coffee as requested.
After he is done with the black coffee, he headed to Xi Men’s room.
“Sit, Secretary Xu,” Xi Men said as Secretary Xu puts down the black coffee.
“Sure, sir,” Secretary Xu said as he sits down as directed. “You look great and refreshed, sir. How was your Hualien trip, sir?”
“Very nice,” Xi Men smiled, as he clicked on the emails on his computer. “I enjoyed it very much,”
“That’s very good to hear, sir,” Secretary Xu smiled.
“Which is why, I am going for another trip soon, in 2 weeks time,”
“Yes, so, clear my schedule. This time, I will be away for 5 days,” Xi Men smiled.
“To Hualien again, sir?” Secretary Xu asked questionably.
Xi Men laughed. “No. I am going to Alishan this time,”
“Oh? For 5 days? Business trip, sir?”
“Business trip?” Xi Men asked back, finding it weird that Secretary Xu would say that all of a sudden. “Why would I go to Alishan for business trip?”
“Umm… because Alishan is a tea plantation area…”
Xi Men looked at Secretary Xu and then he smacks his head. “Gosh, I forgot momentarily that Alishan is where we get most of our tea leaves for production…”
“Umm…” Secretary Xu is unsure what to respond to that.
“Well, no… I am not going over for business trip. But… I’ll see around that place since I will be there…” Xi Men said, and then he exhaled a deep breath. “I have never been to Alishan…”
“Never?” Secretary Xu asked.
“Maybe when I was still very, very young, but I have no recollection of that place. I have been going overseas for trips for all I remember,” Xi Men said.
“So… in 2 weeks, I will be going to Alishan. Just clear my schedule. And, same rules apply. Don’t tell anyone,” Xi Men said, returning his gaze to the computer.
“Okay, sir,” Secretary Xu said, scribbling down onto his notepad. “Umm…”
Xi Men glanced over to Secretary Xu. “What is that ‘umm’ all about?”
“I mean… I can choose not to tell anyone about you going to Alishan… but… everyone in Alishan knows you, sir…”
Xi Men looked at Secretary Xu. “How come?”
“They know Xi Men Corporation gets tea leaves there for production. And sir, you being Mr. Xi Men there… they will definitely find out,”
“Oh, that. Don’t worry about that. I get that covered. They won’t know who I am,” Xi Men said.
“Why so, sir?”
“I will be using the same tactic just like when I was in Hualien. My surname is Xi, not Xi Men,” Xi Men smiled. “So nobody knows who I am,”
“OHH! That is a great idea!”
“Oh wait,” Xi Men said, his smile immediately fades. “Ah shit…” he grabs his smartphone.
“What happen, sir?”
“Give me a minute, I want to send a text message,” Xi Men said, as he quickly typed a message on his smartphone.
‘Xiao You, I forgot to tell you that when you reserve the accommodation in Alishan under my name, go with Xi instead of Xi Men. – Xi Men’
Xi Men puts down his smartphone on the table, while he leaned back against his CEO chair, his eyes remained fixed on the phone for a very long time.
His eyes then slowly traveled to the quiet Secretary Xu sitting in front of him. For a moment, he doesn’t remember why Secretary Xu is in his room, and then he instantly remembered why Secretary Xu is there. “Oh, I am sorry. Let’s continue. I…”
Both Xi Men and Secretary Xu’s eyes turned to the direction of Xi Men’s smartphone, and Xi Men quickly takes his phone up.
‘Haven’t contact the B&B but I will be booking the two rooms under my name. So you are safe. I’ll book tonight. – Xiao You.
Xi Men feels relieved and that immediately brings a smile to his face.
Secretary Xu looked at Xi Men, especially on the odd smile on his face.
Xi Men puts down the phone and looked at Secretary Xu, immediately noticing the weird gaze from his secretary and that makes the smile on his face faded. “What are you doing?”
“Oh, nothing,” Secretary Xu said, correcting his glasses’ frame on his nasal bridge.
“Let’s resume the discussion. What is my schedule for today?” Xi Men asked.
“11am: Meeting with Pride Emotion Enterprise; this is for the collaboration project. And then, 1pm: lunch meeting with President Sung from SS Group. 4pm: Meeting with Mr. Jiang from PGQ Corporation,”
Xi Men’s eyes traveled to Secretary Xu. “My whole day is booked,”
“Yes, sir. Do you have anything else to do that I need to reschedule one or any of the meetings?”
“No, I don’t,” Xi Men said. “Just saying,”
“Oh, CEO Xi Men. Because you asked to clear your schedule last week, your tailor’s appointment last week has been reschedule to tomorrow at 2.30pm,”
“What tailor’s appointment? I don’t need any new attire,”
“But sir, it is a tux for your wedding…”
Xi Men’s eyes strayed. He had just remembered he is actually engaged. “Oh,” he casually said.
“Is the time okay with you, sir?” Secretary Xu asked.
“As long as it didn’t clash with my other appointments,” Xi Men said.
“Yes, didn’t clash,”
“Good,” Xi Men said. “Anything happened last week when I wasn’t around?” he asked.
“Umm… President Xi Men called twice, and I said you were out,”
“Did he leave any message?” Xi Men asked.
“He asked you to call him back when you are back to work,” Secretary Xu said.
“Alright, I will give him a call later. And anything else happened?”
“CEO Hua Ze, CEO Ling and CEO Dao Ming called over as well. They said they cannot get to your phone, so they called over… I just tell them that you are out of office, and will only be contactable when you get back to work this week,”
“Good, I will give them a call later as well… and what else?”
“Miss Amanda Lee called almost everyday… and she even came to the office to look for you,”
Xi Men’s eyes strayed. “Kinda figured. But I will be too busy to attend to her for the next few weeks since I am rescheduling all my meetings and appointments,”
“If she comes again, tell her to go away,” Xi Men suddenly said.
Xi Men looked at Secretary Xu. He had just realized what he asked Secretary Xu to say to Amanda is going to be rude… especially coming from Secretary Xu.
Well… it might be better if those words came from himself (Xi Men) instead than his secretary… but of course, it is still rude anyway.
“I mean… I’ll ask her to go away. Just… just when she comes… ask the security to contact me and…”
Xi Men and Secretary Xu’s gaze turned to the door.
Unhappiness immediately grew on Xi Men’s face. “Everyone knows that if my secretary is not around; that if he is not outside my room, they cannot come and knock on my door like this,”
“But… CEO Hua Ze, CEO Ling, CEO Dao Ming did that…”
“They don’t. They crash in into my room without knocking. But they are my friends and I have specifically allowed that to happen. This person behind the door is NOT F4,” Xi Men said and is damn positive about it.
“Let me open the door for you, sir…” Secretary Xu stands up and heads to the door.
Xi Men took a deep breath and then exhaled it sharply. He then reached for the black coffee and takes a sip as Secretary Xu opens the door.
Xi Men’s gaze turned to the door with his lips on the brim of the cup of coffee.
“Hi Xi Men,” Amanda smiled as she enters the room.
They were just talking about her, and he told Secretary Xu he is going to ask her to go home.
Xi Men took a deep breath as he lowered the cup of coffee down and returns it to the saucer.
Secretary Xu is unsure what to do now.
“Didn’t see you for over a week. I…”
“Secretary Xu,” Xi Men called and interrupts Amanda. He is looking at Secretary Xu.
“Leave us for a moment,” Xi Men said. “I’ll call you in a bit,”
“Alright, sir,” Secretary Xu immediately walked out and closed the door.
After Secretary Xu has closed the door,
“Xi Men, I…” she happily said.
“This is my office. This is not your house to enter and leave as you please,” Xi Men cuts in and said.
His blood boiled at the thought of it. “Can’t you see I am having a meeting with Secretary Xu? Can’t you see that when my secretary is not outside my room, it means no one can come in into my room without my prior permission or him informing me beforehand? Do you think you can just knock on the damn door and are allowed to enter just like that, just because you think you have an authority?”
“Oh…” she lowered her head. “I am sorry…”
Upon seeing and hearing Amanda’s sincere apology, his heart and his gaze softened up. He suddenly felt bad for what he had just said. Amanda is a really nice girl, so nice that he didn’t want to say anything to make her feel bad.
But a part of him knew he didn’t do anything wrong. He just knew he had to get his message sent across… and well, probably he shouldn’t had done it in a harsh tone which she doesn’t deserves.
Anyhow, he had already said it. Damage has been done. There is no point apologizing and be dramatic about whether he should or shouldn’t give that tone to her.
“Amanda, I am a very busy person, so busy that I have no time to entertain you. So, go home, alright?”
“Actually… because your phone is off… and that coming over to your office last week to find you but still cannot get you… I… I just wanted to see you,”
“Fine. You’ve seen me now. I’m alive. I’m good. Now, I need to do my work. I have a meeting to attend and I seriously need to discuss with Secretary Xu. So really, go home or go shopping or something,”
She bites her lower lip due to disappointment. “Alright… when you are free… please call me for lunch or dinner…”
“I will,” Xi Men said as clicked the button on the mouse to read another email.
Amanda lowered her head and then she heads to the door. She turned her head to look at Xi Men for a while, before she opened the door and walked out.
PAK (door close).
“Urgh…” Xi Men groaned and then he reached forward for the deskphone. “Secretary Xu, you can come in now,”
Within 15 seconds, Secretary Xu enters the CEO room.
“Has Amanda left?” Xi Men asked.
“Yes, sir… she… umm… looks sad…”
“I am sadder,” Xi Men inadvertently blurted.
“Ah?” Xi Men is surprised with what he had uttered, or rather, louder than what he had expected.
His secretary might look like a blur guy but he is not. In fact, he is a smart guy in his way. Don’t judge a book by its cover.
There is a reason why he is being labeled as Xi Men’s honorary secretary.
“Sorry, too many things are running in my mind,” Xi Men said, scratching his head and feeling really awkward at the same time.
“It is okay, sir,” Secretary Xu smiled.
“I need to revamp the security policy,” Xi Men said.
“Yes, because of Amanda, I have to revamp the policy,” Xi Men sighed. “Or maybe… the security policy for Amanda,”
A small laugh escapes Secretary Xu’s mouth. And he quickly closed his mouth, for fear it might offend Xi Men.
Of course, Xi Men didn’t feel offended. He just shook. “Anyway,”
“Do I have anything scheduled for my lunch hour tomorrow?” Xi Men asked.
Secretary Xu flips the pages in his notepad and then looked at Xi Men’s schedule. “Yes, sir. You will be attending a Quarterly General Meeting of IPA Group of Companies tomorrow which will start at 10am until 4pm, which means it will cover your lunch too,”
“Oh, then which day am I available for lunch appointment?” Xi Men asked.
“Hmmm…” Secretary Xu browses his notepad. “Friday, sir. Tentatively nothing has been scheduled for your lunch hour on Friday,”
“Okay. Blocked off the hour for now. I may want to go for lunch with Lei, Mei Zhuo and Ah Si. I will let you know if it is confirmed later,”
“Alright,” Secretary Xu said, scribbling onto his notepad.
“So, my meeting is 11am with Pride Emotion Enterprise?”
“At Pride Emotion’s office?”
“Yes, CEO Xi Men,”
“Alright,” Xi Men said, raising his hand up and looked at the wristwatch. 9.30am. “I still have time to make some calls and check emails. We’ll leave by 10.15am,”
“Welcome, CEO Ling,”
Mei Zhuo smiled and nodded briefly at the friendly waiter.
“CEO Xi Men has already arrived. This way please,” the friendly waiter directed the way.
“Thank you,” Mei Zhuo said, as he followed the waiter, and he soon saw Xi Men sitting alone at the rectangle table for four of the restaurant.
Xi Men is busy scrolling on his smartphone; he didn’t even realize Mei Zhuo is approaching the table.
“Yo, Xi Men,” Mei Zhuo called.
Xi Men lifted up his head and looked at Mei Zhuo. “Hey,” he said. “You’ve came. Alone?”
“Umm… do you expect me to bring Xiao Qiao?” Mei Zhuo asked as he sits down on the chair opposite Xi Men.
“Oh, no… I mean… Lei and Ah Si?”
“Oh, we are not coming together. All of us came separately,” Mei Zhuo said, as the waiter puts down the menu in front of Mei Zhuo. “Have you ordered your food?”
“Yes. So you should order yours,” Xi Men said.
“Alright,” Mei Zhuo said, grabbing the menu and flipped it open.
“CEO Hua Ze, please,”
Mei Zhuo and Xi Men turned their heads and looked at Lei who is approaching their table. “Hey,” they called together when Lei reached.
“Hey guys,” Lei smiled, as he sits down next to Xi Men. “I was behind you just now at the parking lot,” he pointed at Mei Zhuo.
“Oh, really?” Mei Zhuo asked. “Why didn’t you call out to me?”
“I did. You were walking into the lift when I call out for you,” Lei said, as the waiter placed the menu in front of Lei. “And I thought you are going to hold the lift for me… and well, I see the lift close right before my eyes,”
Xi Men laughed. “And that means Mei Zhuo pressed the ‘close’ button when you were expecting he will open it,”
“Damn right about that,” Lei said.
“Oh… really…?” Mei Zhuo said apologetically. “I am sorry, I didn’t know…”
“No worries, dude,” Lei just smirked briefly as he browses the menu. “What are you going to order?” he asked Mei Zhuo, and then he turned to look at Xi Men.
“I ordered. This one,” Xi Men flipped the menu in Lei’s hand to a seafood page and then he pointed.
“Oh, cool… looks great. I’ll have it too,” Lei said.
“I’m going to go for steak,” Mei Zhuo said.
“Everybody is ordering… and nobody ever remember about me?”
All of them lifted up their heads and looked at Ah Si sitting down on the last available seat of the table, which is next to Mei Zhuo.
“Of course not,” Xi Men smiled. “See the menu and place your order,”
Ah Si smirked as he flipped the menu open.
After finding out what he wants to eat, Mei Zhuo lifted his hand to flag a waiter, and then they placed their orders.
The waiter then collected all the menus and left.
“It’s been a while since we see you, Xi Men,” Mei Zhuo smiled, as he folded his hands on his chest.
“I know,” Xi Men smiled. “That is why I asked to meet for lunch today, right?”
“We tried calling you and we can’t get you. We almost thought something had happened to you, if not for your secretary telling us you are out of office and will come back to work this week,” Ah Si smiled.
“Sorry about that,” Xi Men smiled again.
“So where have you been?” Lei asked.
“Just went for vacation,” Xi Men replied.
“Oh, really? You hardly go for vacation,” Lei said. “But then… you look cheerful. I guess the vacation is necessary,”
“I seconded that,” Ah Si said.
“I ‘third-ed’ that, if that word ever exists,” Mei Zhuo said, causing everyone to laugh.
“Yeah. I should say it is the best vacation I ever had,” Xi Men said. “Felt rested and energetic after that,”
“Really? I hope you are not saying you went to some spiritual healing vacation or something similar to that…” Ah Si said.
“That would have been funny,” Mei Zhuo laughed.
Lei just smiled at that.
“No…” Xi Men smirked.
“So, where have you been?” Mei Zhuo asked.
“I just went travelling with Xiao You,” Xi Men replied.
“Xiao You?” Lei, Mei Zhuo and Ah Si asked at the same time.
“Yeah… and Emily,” Xi Men smiled.
“For a week?” Lei asked.
“Why… why are you with them?” Lei asked, with a really curious look.
Xi Men looked at Lei, “What’s with the look? They are here for vacation. I just followed,”
“But why?” Mei Zhuo asked.
“What do you mean why? I just said I followed them to vacation,”
“But Xi Men, you are engaged. You are not supposed to go out with someone else,” Ah Si said. “Specifically a woman,”
“Oh, that,” Xi Men said, casually grabs his glass of water and then he goes for a sip. “I am not married… you see,”
“And Xiao You has a family,” Lei said. “She has a husband back home in Toronto,”
“Her husband passed away,” Xi Men solemnly said, still holding onto the glass of water.
“What?” Lei, Mei Zhuo and Ah Si said at the same time.
“He died when she is still pregnant with Emily,” Xi Men said. “She told me that,”
Lei, Mei Zhuo and Ah Si exchanged glances.
“Did San Chai know anything about that?” Mei Zhuo turned to Ah Si and asked.
Ah Si shook. “San Chai said she asked, but Xiao You didn’t say anything about him,”
“She didn’t want to talk about him,” Xi Men said. “That is what I sensed,” he lowered his glass of water and then he puts it down on the table.
“Well… if he is dead… I am sure she didn’t want to be reminded about it… it will indeed bring her pain…” Mei Zhuo said.
“But that didn’t change the fact that you are engaged, right? You are still going to marry Amanda at the end of the day. So it is best you know your boundary, Xi Men,” Lei said.
Xi Men pressed his lips together as he lowered his head to look down to the table. “I can’t deny that I feel sad for whatever that had happened to her. But I am equally sad with what is happening to me. I didn’t want this engagement. I didn’t want to be with Amanda,”
“But you agreed to the engagement,” Mei Zhuo said.
Xi Men swallowed the lump in his throat. He took a deep breath, “I know,” and he sighed. “If only the PIs I hired found Xiao You…” and then he stopped, and he frowned.
“What’s with the look?” Ah Si asked.
Xi Men lifted his head and then he looked at Mei Zhuo, Ah Si and then Lei. “I think all the 3 PIs that I have hired actually found her…”
“Huh?” all three of them said together.
“Then it is my fault,” Xi Men said, basically crashing his back against the chair, in disbelief with himself. “The PIs told me they found a girl by the name Yang Xiao You in Toronto, Canada, with a daughter… but she is a single mother… and I… and I don’t believe it… I said ‘it wasn’t her’,” he then looked at his best friends.