Xi Men sits at the square table in the coffee house as he slowly stirs the coffee in front of him. He stared intently at the coffee until at the corner of his eyes, he noticed the door opened.
He lifted up his head and turned to look at a guy of Chinese heritage that had just entered the coffee house. A waitress had walked and attended to him.
Xi Men couldn’t help but looked at the guy even though he could have been referred as rude to stare at someone like this.
A really handsome guy of Chinese heritage.
The guest, as he entered, looked around the coffee house, seemingly looking for someone and he stared straight at Xi Men. He turned his head and said something to the waitress, before the waitress nodded and seemingly walked off to attend to other customers.
Xi Men now notices that he had been staring at this person; that he (Xi Men) immediately turned and focuses on the coffee.
“Excuse me, may I ask if you are Xi Men?”
Xi Men immediately lifted up his head and is taken aback to see the guy of Chinese heritage that he was staring at earlier is in front of him. “Yes… you are Harry?” Xi Men immediately stands up as a sign of respect.
“Yes, hi, I am Harry,” the guy smiled as he extends his hand for a handshake with Xi Men.
“Hi, nice to meet you… Harry,” Xi Men said as he grabbed Harry’s extended hand for a handshake. “Please… have a seat,” he looked at Harry.
“Thank you,” Harry smiled as he pulled the chair opposite Xi Men out and he sits down, while a waitress placed a menu in front of Harry.
Xi Men also sits down, and then he stared at Harry. Harry is smartly dressed in suit with a lean black tie which fits perfectly on him, his hair is nicely gelled… very presentably looking and he is really, really handsome. A part of Xi Men feels that if he is to be compared to Harry, he…
Wait. Why is he comparing himself with Harry? He had just met Harry and now he is already comparing… for no apparent reason. Harry is just Xiao You’s best friend… right?
Wait a minute.
Emily is of Chinese heritage. Her father is of Chinese heritage, according to Xiao You. And Emily is a beautiful child. She must have a pretty mother and a good looking father to look like one. Her mother, Xiao You is pretty. And her father…
And Harry is of Chinese heritage!
But it couldn’t be Harry, right?
But again… Xiao You could be a good liar too. It could have been Harry but she may not want him to take responsibility?
Maybe she lied to Harry that Emily is not his child?
XI MEN, WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?!
Xi Men shook slightly at the thought of it. Thankfully Harry didn’t notice he was shaking his head because Harry is looking at the menu. He must have looked weird to Harry if Harry happens to caught him shaking his head all of a sudden.
Just because Harry is probably good-looking and intimidates Xi Men… it doesn’t mean Xi Men should weigh the probability of Harry fathering Emily.
But come to think of it, if Harry is really the father… he could have known, right?
And still… it doesn’t make sense because at one look at Harry, he doesn’t seem to be…
Harry is not the only good-looking guy of Chinese heritage in this world!
“Can I take your order, sir?”
Xi Men’s thought is interrupted. He looked at the waitress standing next to Harry, waiting to take his food order. “Harry, please, order a drink or a meal, if you need a bite. The bill is on me,”
“Sure, though I am not sure about the part of paying the bill later,” Harry smiled as he looked at the menu. “Latte,” he said to the waitress, while pointing to the menu.
“Anything else, sir?” the waitress asked.
“That is all,” Harry said, smiled as he closed the menu and handed her the menu.
“Sure sir,” the waitress said and leaves with the menu.
Harry smiled before he turned to look at Xi Men. He took a quick glance over the black coffee in front of Xi Men.
“Are you sure you don’t want to order some food?” Xi Men asked.
“It is okay,” Harry smiled. “It is not wise to eat anything now, since I will be having dinner in less than 2 hours,”
“Umm, I hope I didn’t make you reschedule your dinner appointment…”
“No, no, don’t worry. I am free at this time,” Harry said politely.
“Thank you for coming,” Xi Men said. “I am sorry for asking to meet up with you today, and at a very last minute,”
“It is okay,” Harry said.
Xi Men smiled lightly. “I am surprised you actually recognized me, or rather, knew it could be me when we have never met before,”
“You have said in the phone call that you are from Taiwan and your name has given me a clue that there is high likelihood that you are of Chinese heritage. It is easy to spot someone of Chinese heritage in a coffee house frequently frequented by non-Chinese,” Harry smiled.
Xi Men smiled. “I am sorry. It didn’t work the same for me. I didn’t expect that you are of Chinese heritage… or Korean, or…” though he knew at a look, Harry is of Chinese heritage, but he just wanted to confirm…
“Chinese heritage,” Harry smiled. “I am of Chinese heritage. My parents are from Hong Kong and moved to Toronto before I was born,”
“Okay… glad to know that,” Xi Men smiled.
“Umm…Xiao You is currently in Taiwan…”
“Oh, I know,” Xi Men said.
“Did you meet her?” Harry asked.
“Oh yes, I did,”
“Great. How is her vacation in Taiwan?” Harry asked.
“Oh, she is good. I mean… I think,” Xi Men said. “I mean… I think her vacation is good… I have never asked her if she enjoyed that, but most people would enjoy their vacation…”
“Yes, you are right,” Harry smiled. “And how is Emily coping there? Is she alright with the food and the weather?”
“Yes, she hasn’t complained of anything there,” Xi Men said. “Umm… besides not wanting to have papaya milk and bitter gourd juice…” he softly said.
Harry tilted his head. “Huh?” he can’t hear Xi Men.
“Oh, I mean, she hasn’t complain of anything, so I can see she does enjoy the trip though,” Xi Men said.
“Great to know,” Harry said, and at the same time, the waitress puts down the cup of latte in front of Harry. “So, what, and how can I help you, Xi Men? I hope you didn’t come all the way from Taiwan just to find me,”
“No, no… I was here on a business trip,” Xi Men said.
“Oh, I see,” Harry said as he lifted the cup of latte and takes a sip.
“I think this is a bit awkward. I don’t know where to start,” Xi Men said.
Harry looked up to Xi Men. “I am sorry?”
“I… I have a few questions…”
“Are you just Xiao You’s best friend?” Xi Men titled his head slightly and frowned at the same time, as though he is facing some competitor.
Well, that is what he thinks. Harry might be Xiao You’s boyfriend, or interested with her.
Harry frowned at Xi Men before it eases and he smiled, putting down the cup of latte, “Before I answer that, there is something that I want to ask too,”
Harry clasped his hands together. “You, and Xiao You’s mother, are only telling me verbally that you are Xiao You’s long time friend. I only trust you based on that. But seriously, are you? And besides knowing your name is Xi Men and you are from Taiwan, I have no other information about you or knowing who you are. I only trust you just because you said the word ‘Xiao You’, and yes, I know she is from Taiwan so I am trying to relate that with you,”
“I am sorry, I should have told you more about myself first…” Xi Men said, diving his hand into his pocket to retrieve his wallet.
Xi Men then took out his business card and passed it to Harry. “This is my business card,”
Harry looked at it, before he lifted his eyes up to Xi Men. “CEO?”
“Yes,” Xi Men smiled. “It is a major corporation in Taiwan. You can do a search on the Internet,”
“This is not what I want to know from you, Xi Men,” Harry said, politely passing the business card back to Xi Men. “I am not into any sort of business relationship with you,”
“I know, that is not what I was aiming as well, but do keep the business card. It has my contact details. That is the sole reason I am giving you my business card, not for business purposes,” Xi Men pushed the business card to Harry again. “Our meeting today is solely because of Xiao You. And seriously I do not know how and where to begin,”
“Any point is fine with me. I’ll do it like a puzzle to match them,” Harry smiled.
“As a brief and quick introduction, I have already known Xiao You since I was studying in University. I was in love with her before she left for Toronto 9 years ago,”
Harry’s smile faded. ‘In love?’ he thought.
“We had a brief time together before she left. That brief time… has changed my life forever. I know it has been so many years but I… I wanted to get back with her,” Xi Men said. “But there seems to be something about her that I cannot quite get it. Something inside her heart that she seems not opening up. Maybe it is because of Emily,”
Harry looked away for a while before a small smile formed on his face. “Wow,” his smile fades again. “I… I didn’t expect to hear that,” he said, and then he looked at Xi Men.
“I am sorry if that gives you a shock,” Xi Men said. “She really had changed my life. For a while I thought I am no longer in love with her. But when I meet her again… I realized I still love her,”
Harry swallowed a lump in his throat and smiled a bit. “To reply your earlier question… I am letting you know that I am not your love rival,” Harry said as he lifted up his left hand. “I am engaged to a girl that I have been with and love for 12 years, and I am going to get married to her in 3 months,” and apparently there is a ring in his ring finger.
But Harry could have cheated on his girlfriend… right?
XI MEN! What are you thinking?!!
“And I have never been even once, or a time; your rival,” Harry continued, as though he reads Xi Men’s mind to answer him, but it has only been two seconds that Harry ended his earlier statement.
The latest statement from Harry’s mouth has confirmed to Xi Men that his messy mind is making his own unreasonable judgment about Harry. And Harry is very happy and looks joyful when he mentioned his fiancée.
To find such a man to feel so euphoric when it comes to mentioning his girlfriend of 12 years and now becoming his fiancée, he definitely loves her to the core and he, does not look like he had ever, or once, cheated on her. With that expression of Harry, Xi Men believes that Harry is not his rival.
Xi Men felt better that Harry is really just a best friend to Xiao You.
But the guilt of thinking Harry could be Emily’s father eats him up so Xi Men couldn’t help but say, “Look, Harry, I don’t mean to accuse you or say, or even ask if you are my rival but…”
Harry interrupted, “I understand where you are coming from, Xi Men. I truly understand,”
“I am very sorry,”
“It feels very awkward for both of us to be this… I don’t know… corny? I mean, it is just weird to keep saying sorry and all… let’s just…” Harry said. “I mean, let’s just open up and be frank to each other and refrain from being so… cheesy…”
“Yeah, I know. I feel weird too,” Xi Men said, before he laughed softly. “I feel in that way, we would probably be more comfortable talking,”
“Yes, we should,” Harry smiled, his turn to dive his hand into his pants to take his wallet out. He opened it and took out a business card to Xi Men. “My business card,” he said, “Not for business purposes, but for my details,”
Xi Men smiled as he looked at the business card. Director of Business and IT services.
“Just to be clear. I love my fiancée, a lot. We have been together before we met Xiao You. And I have never been interested with Xiao You. So yes, she is just my best friend, as well as Christina’s best friend,” Harry smiled.
Xi Men frowned. “Christina?” that name suddenly rings a bell. His eyes then strayed as he finally recalled… “Umm… is she the Aunty Christina that Emily mentioned?”
“Yes. But first and foremost my apology for the lack of introduction. Christina is my fiancée, and she is of Chinese heritage too,” Harry smiled at the thought of it.
Ah, so that is the Aunty Christina that Emily has been talking about! Apparently she is Harry’s fiancée. Now he felt totally relieved.
“I guess Emily talks a lot about us to you, huh,” Harry said.
“She mentioned you once in a while,” Xi Men smiled.
“Christina and I love Emily a lot, no doubt. We treat her like our daughter,”
“Oh,” Xi Men said. “That’s great to know…”
“So,” Harry said. “You are saying… you are still in love with Xiao You?”
“Yes,” Xi Men replied without hesitation.
Harry tilted his head. He smirked as he looked at Xi Men, deep inside his heart, he is analyzing Xi Men. Handsome. Smart. Successful. And most importantly, in love with Xiao You.
Harry wanted to find a partner for Xiao You, right? Though she had mentioned that she didn’t find anyone interesting in Taiwan, but looks like there is someone interested with her.
But strangely, someone with such a good criteria… how come Xiao You is not interested with him? It must have been because of Emily, that is why Xiao You is ‘not interested’.
Oh, he also knows Emily! Means he knew Xiao You has a daughter, obviously, and if he can still love Xiao You for that, everything is perfect.
Good candidate. Very, very good.
“How do you meet her?” Xi Men asked.
Harry returned his eyes’ focus to Xi Men. “We studied in the same University,” Harry said. “Christina and I met Xiao You on her first day of transfer. We don’t have many Chinese heritage or Asian students in our University so every single Chinese heritage and Asian students there basically knew each other. We have never seen her before and she looked around as though she is lost so we know she is a new student. So we approached her and we have become friends since,” Harry said. “We studied in different courses, but we have meals together between breaks and maintained a really close friendship with each other. She is a really nice person, and she always tell us about how much she loves Taiwan, how awesome the place and the food is… and that sometimes it makes Christina and I feel like going to Taiwan,” he then laughed.
Xi Men laughed. “I am sure she makes a good Taiwan ambassador,”
“I believe she will if she wants to. That is why Emily wants to go to Taiwan, because Xiao You keeps telling her about Taiwan,” Harry said. “But Christina and I can’t take 6 weeks off to go with them, so we have to give it a pass. Maybe someday in future, or our honeymoon,” he smiled.
Xi Men smiled. “So you have known Xiao You for about 9 years I think?”
“Yeah, the moment she transferred over to Canada,” Harry smiled.
“So you must have known everything that has been happening to her…”
“What happened to her?” Harry asked.
“I mean… well,” Xi Men bites his lower lip. “Xiao You has not been telling me, and our friends, about her life in Canada. I can be really honest with you, I am not the only one that is curious about her life. She have some friends in Taiwan – I mean, we have the same group of friends,”
“The other day when Xiao You came back to Taiwan, all of us meet up for dinner. And she brought Emily with her. All of us are surprised that she has a daughter. We didn’t know she gets married, or bore a kid,”
“Look, Harry,” Xi Men said, clasping his hands together. “Xiao You has been really secretive about a lot of stuffs with me and my friends. I hope you are not going to do the same thing to me,”
“But have you ever thought that, there could be a reason why she is not telling any one of you?”
“Then do you know the reason she is not telling us?”
“I am not Xiao You, I don’t know,”
“Then for the sake of Emily, tell me,”
“About? I am sorry but I didn’t hear a question from you earlier,”
“Her life in Toronto. I mean, you can just tell me whatever you know,”
“To be really honest with you, I am not that kind of person to tell someone else about how my friend has been leading her life because I respect her and her choices. And I will not ask for a favor from you in return to telling you things about her because I am not that kind of person as well, but I respect Xiao You for not telling you, and I supposed that if you really want to know about her, you should have asked her and wait for her to be ready to tell you,”
“Harry…” Xi Men practically pleaded. Xi Men is not the kind of person that will beg, but he is desperate. Harry is the last resort. If he can’t get the information from Harry, there is nowhere else he can get them.
“But I supposed it must have been something really important to you to actually find me here in Toronto and ask me about her life. You are probably desperate and confuse at the same time because Xiao You refused to tell you and most of all you actually intend to pursue a relationship with her,” Harry said and then there is a smile on his face. “Okay. As her best friend, I do not want to see her getting attached with someone who couldn’t or unable to understand her situation and accept her for who she is, or having him left in the dark about her,”
Xi Men smiled and is relieved. “Thank you so much, Harry, thank you…”
“I wished Xiao You happiness too. She has been alone and single for too long. I am not only doing it for Xiao You, but I am doing it for Emily too. If someone like you can accept Xiao You and Emily… why not?” Harry said. “So…” he looked at Xi Men and then clasped his hands together. “What is the burning question inside your mind and your heart, Xi Men?”
“Emily’s surname is Yang…”
“Yeah, that is Xiao You’s surname,” Harry said.
“Why didn’t Emily took her father’s name…?”
Harry smirked. “I don’t know who Emily’s father is,”
“You don’t know?” Xi Men looked at Harry, though he (Xi Men) doesn’t look too surprised with Harry not knowing who the father is; but it is also odd since Harry knew Xiao You for 9 years…
“I thought you said you knew her for 9 years and you…”
“Yes, I know her for 9 years but I never get to know who he is,” Harry said.
Xi Men’s eyes strayed for a while, “But Xiao You told me she got married 9 years ago, and her husband died shortly before Emily is born…”
Harry lets out a small laugh. “As expected. So that is what Xiao You told you, right?”
“Yes…” Xi Men questioned Harry’s weird laugh.
“She said that to everyone,” Harry said.
“She is saying that to deter additional questions from you,” Harry said.
“Xiao You has never been married,” Harry said.
Xi Men stared at Harry. “Never?”
“Never,” Harry confirmed.
“Then Emily… I mean… how… and… if you know… when…?”
Harry tilts his head for a while. “Few months after she transferred to our University, we have a short school break. She said she is going for a trip. We never asked her where she is going. Few weeks after school reopen, she starts behaving strangely and Christina even caught her vomiting in the bathroom once. She said she had food poisoning, but Christina and I had the same food as her and we were okay so we are in doubt about that. After interrogation, she finally revealed that she is pregnant,” Harry said with a straight face. “We didn’t know how to react. She is not telling us who the father is. We did speculate if she was forced into committing some unintended and unwanted actions… but she told us it is mutual,”
“Are you saying… the trip…”
“I dare not confirm that it is, but I do believe so,”
Xi Men closed his eyes and couldn’t believe what he had just heard and opened it back when Harry speaks again.
“At that point of time, we did discuss with her… if she wanted to go for abortion or putting the kid up for adoption, because as you know, we are all still young, and having a kid is a huge responsibility and it is for life. But she didn’t thought about it at all. And she insists she wants to keep the baby no matter what it takes,”
Xi Men took a deep breath as he listened to Harry. “No matter what?”
“Yes. She has determined to do all she can to keep the baby and raise her up well,” Harry said.
“Then… how did her parents take it?”
“Bad,” Harry said. “Well, I mean, initially. After we found out about her pregnancy, she hasn’t told her parents, but she knew someday they have to know. And the earlier it is, the better. She didn’t want the stress for the next few months too. I guess… about 2 weeks after Christina and I knew, she told them. She had a tough time explaining to her parents. Her father was really, really mad. It took them a while to accept that their unmarried daughter is now going to be a single mother,” Harry added. “And I don’t think her parents know who the father is too…”
Maybe that is why when Xi Men asked Mrs. Yang, she didn’t say anything because she didn’t know too… does this mean, only Xiao You, alone, knew who the father is?
“They never asked?” Xi Men asked.
“She never answers,” Harry said. “She just said, it is mutual between her and the guy, and she will be responsible for whatever that had happened. If she has to stop schooling and to start working to raise the baby, she would,”
Xi Men stared at Harry when he said that.
Upon seeing Xi Men’s reaction (thinking that Xi Men thought Xiao You had choose to stop schooling), “And thankfully, she didn’t stop schooling,” Harry continued. “Despite how mad her parents are about her pregnancy, Xiao You is still their daughter. Her father wants her to complete her studies, and is still willing to pay for her education. She knew she disappoints her father because she got pregnant and refused to disclose who the father is, but she didn’t want to disappoint her father more. So she continued her studies despite she is pregnant,” and then his smile slowly fades. “And life has been tough for her since then,”
“School is tough. She had problem focusing on her studies and people were making fun of her because of her pregnancy. We were afraid she would get into depression because of this, but she suddenly starts telling people like what she said to you. She said she is married but her husband has passed away. At that time, I don’t understand why she would say that, but I realized it is because she wants people to shut up. And I also realized that this is a form of fighting spirit of hers that came from within. That is when I found out she is a very tough girl. I admire her because she is tough and no matter how hard life has been, she wouldn’t let it push her down. She always gives us the smiling face despite how sad she is inside her heart. But of course… there are times where she really breaks down and cry,”
Xi Men smiled lightly and then he took a deep breath.
“Christina and I offered to Xiao You some monetary assistance but she refused, stating that we are all students and should only offer money if we are earning. So, since she refused, we instead offered to spend some time with her so she doesn’t feel bored,” Harry suddenly smiled, “One day, we just sit back and we asked her if she has one or two names prepared for her child, after finding out the baby is a girl. She wants to name her ‘Emily’ and we do think it is a nice name. And months after that, she gave birth to the beautiful and adorable Emily. We actually offered to be Emily’s godparents. And again, Xiao You refused. She told us she didn’t want us to feel burdened as though we are responsible for Emily, or to act as a parent to her. We want to offer our help to Xiao You and Emily, but Xiao You knows us too well that she probably knows we will use the authority as ‘godparents’ to take care of Emily for her,”
“You are really nice, Harry,” Xi Men said, feeling really, really touched.
Harry smiled. “So now we are Uncle Harry and Aunty Christina to Emily. Even though she calls us that, we remained very close together like a family. Christina and I watch her growing up, so we definitely care and love her like our daughter too,”
Xi Men smiled.
“Xiao You successfully completes her studies despite all the hardship. Her dad supported her and Emily in terms of everything, including financially while she was studying, and after she graduated, she worked to support herself and Emily; not wanting to have her dad burdened himself any further to support both of them. She is really a very tough one. I am actually far more than admire her. I am impressed,” Harry smiled. “Oh, she even saves enough to bring Emily to trips,”
“Just the Xiao You I know…” Xi Men said.
“On top of that, at times I asked her to join me and Christina for trips, and we shared a hotel room so that it is cheaper for everybody,” Harry smiled. “You know, sometimes the hotel rooms are so expensive… getting a room for 4 is way cheaper,”
Oh. So that is the reason why Xiao You and Emily shared a room with Harry!
“She probably didn’t earn enough to pay for everything in the household, but she makes sure she chipped in a bit, even just a couple hundred dollars, to her family every month,” Harry added.
Xi Men smiled faintly. “So, has Xiao You dated anyone in these 9 years?”
“No…” Harry shook, “Because of Emily, she had never dated or even interested in dating. You know, there are guys that couldn’t really accept a woman with a kid, and of course, some doesn’t mind. But regardless of the guys’ preference, Xiao You had never dated anyone. I don’t really understand why but she indeed didn’t want to. Not even one for the last 9 years,”
“I understand,” Xi Men said.
“I really wish she finds someone for herself, and of course, that someone has to love Emily too,” Harry smiled, and then looked at Xi Men.
Xi Men smiled, seeing Harry looking at him, he knew what Harry hinted. “I do,”
Harry smiled. “That’s good to hear,” and suddenly, Harry frowned. His eyes strayed. “Wait…”
Xi Men looked at Harry. “Huh?”
“Well, umm… I have just recalled…”
“What is it?” Xi Men asked.
Harry swallowed the lump in his throat. “Xiao You has never dated anyone; not because no one is interested with her, but because she is the one that is not interested,”
“Oh. Umm… yeah, that is what you said, right?” Xi Men said.
Harry exhaled his deep breath, “A lot of guys have expressed interest in dating her, and… there is one that is… a bit different,”
Xi Men stared at Harry.