Xi Men, who is sitting on his bed browsing his smartphone in the guest room-turned-his room, lifted up his head to look at Xiao You standing outside the room, which the door is opened.
“Hey,” Xiao You said.
Xi Men smiled faintly, “Hey,” he puts the smartphone on the side table.
“I thought you slept… and seeing you didn’t even close the door, I really thought of closing it for you until I saw you sitting on the bed,” Xiao You said, entering his room.
“I was thinking I should just stay up and exhaust myself until the right time to sleep which is tonight,” Xi Men said. “In that way my body can tune to the time,”
Xiao You looked at him in disbelief, and a small smile formed on her face. “Such a unique way of thinking; but you are right in some ways to adjust to the time… but you have been travelling hectically the last few days, so I thought you are supposed to sleep more since you haven’t rested enough actually,”
“I know, but no worries about it,” he smiled faintly and then took a deep breath. “Come, sit…” he patted at the spot next to him on his bed.
Xiao You smiled, and she sits down at the spot he asked her to.
“Is there anything I can do here in this house?” he asked.
“Huh? Why do you ask?”
He lowered his head, “I didn’t like the idea of sitting around doing nothing,”
She suddenly smiled, “You are a workaholic, that is why,”
“Not in that sense… but…” he said, “I don’t really like to be treated as a guest,”
Xi Men lifted up his head and looked at Xiao You, “Your mom said I am a guest,”
“Well… you are indeed a guest… because…” Xiao You said. “Well, even when my aunties and uncles came… as well as Harry and Christina, they are also guests,”
“But in my opinion, I am not the same…” Xi Men said, lowering his head.
Because you are Emily’s father.
Xiao You doesn’t need him to say it out, and she understood.
“Xiao You,” he extends his left hand out and then gripped her right hand, and that stopped her from talking.
She looked at him, thinking he is going to speak.
But he didn’t say anything.
His left thumb slowly caressed the back of her hand as his eyes looked at it.
Seeing Xi Men like this, she didn’t know what to do or what to say.
“It is just day 2… you gotta be patient…” Xiao You said. “Things will turn better, and you will slowly bond with everyone. Just like my dad… he already asked you to call him ‘uncle’ instead of Mr. Yang, but… but I am not sure about Emily. I hope she will too,”
Xi Men smiled faintly. “Maybe I haven’t been the patient type this time,”
“How could you be such a successful businessman if you are not patient?” she asked.
“I guess… I can wait for everything but you… because I have been waiting for you for 9 years,” he said, lifting his head up to look at her.
She took a deep breath. “Xi Men…” she called.
He senses the tone. It seems that she wants to say something instead of consoling. “Hmm?”
“I… I have always wanted to say this to you…” she lowered her head.
“I am sorry,” she said, as she lifted her head now and looked at him apologetically.
“Why are you sorry for?” he asked, surprised with the sudden change of emotions from her face.
“I am sorry for excluding you for 9 years. I am sorry for robbing it from you. I am sorry for not telling you about Emily. Things are so messed up now for her and for you. It is my fault…” her tears formed in her eyes.
“Xiao You, don’t be sorry… it is okay,” Xi Men said, gripping her hand tighter.
“I couldn’t imagine things will be like this 9 years later… I could have told you back then…”
Xi Men smiled as he reached forward and patted the back of her head. “We couldn’t revert back to 9 years ago, and if we could, the first thing I want to do is trust the PI that he had found you so that I can come to you earlier,”
She smiled faintly.
“Anyhow… I found you now… and you can’t kick me away,” he said.
She laughed upon hearing that and at the same time, a tear rolled down to her cheek.
He brushed her tear away. “You have suffered way too much,” he said. “I’ll make it up to you,”
“How? Giving me back my 9 years?”
“Good question. I didn’t know how either,” he laughed, “But you know giving you back 9 years is not something possible, but I’ll do what I can to make sure you will be happy for the rest of your life,”
She laughed. “Really?”
“Yes,” he extends his hands, leaned closer and casually wrapped them around her. “But I hope you don’t mind the poor Xi Men now…”
“You know I don’t care whether you are rich or not,” she said, inadvertently submitted herself to his hug.
“And that leads to thinking what to do next,” he said, slowly releasing her from the short hug.
“About?” she looked at him.
He took a deep breath. “Everything still feels a bit blur but I am slowly accepting what is happening to me. But… the truth is, even though they are all shocking to me, I am indeed not working and… as a man, I need to provide for my family. Should I start looking for a job here?”
“Hmmm…” she said. “Umm…”
“I need to know your opinion,” Xi Men added. “I am not going to make any major decision without knowing what you think,”
“Xi Men…” she lowered her head. “A job is permanent, and it is sort of for a long term. Are you planning to stay here in Toronto for a long time?”
Xi Men looked at her, her eyes didn’t meet him. “Xiao You… I have nothing now. I only have you. I won’t go anywhere without you…”
She slowly lifted her eyes up and looked at him.
“I didn’t know what’s going to happen next. I don’t know how my future is going to hold, but I am definitely going to stay here with you, and for you,” Xi Men said.
Xiao You smiled.
“And I probably still need to occupy your guest room until I get my own house, though I know I would have no problem buying one with my savings now but I guess I can’t splurge just yet,”
A small laugh escaped her mouth. “You can stay here, no worries. Buying a new house is not a priority now, and yes, don’t use money unnecessarily,”
He smiled. “I’ll let things settled down slowly… and then I’ll decide what to do next for us, alright?”
“Settle Emily first,” she said. Her eyes strayed to the door and she noticed the shadow of someone standing behind the wall; doesn’t look like an adult’s shadow.
Pretty obvious it is Emily. As always.
“I know,” Xi Men said. “So… I’ll start looking for job here?”
Xiao You turned to look at Xi Men. “Whenever you are ready, Xi Men,”
Xi Men smiled and nodded.
Two days later. (Thursday morning in Taipei, Wednesday night in Toronto)
Secretary Xu immediately stood up at the sight of Xi Men’s father walking pass his seat. “President Xi Men,” Secretary Xu called and Mr. Xi Men turned to look at him and nodded lightly. “President Xi Men, I’m sorry to inform that CEO Xi Men is not in,”
“I know,” Mr. Xi Men said as he took a deep breath and he puts his left hand into his pants’ pocket. He headed forward and had his right hand landed on the door knob of the CEO room.
Secretary Xu is surprised that his father still wants to enter the room even after he had mentioned Xi Men is not in. It is very rare that Mr. Xi Men will enter the room when he is being informed that Xi Men is not in, well, it still happens on certain occasions…
“Xi Men didn’t come in to office for the last few days, I presume?” Mr. Xi Men said as he twists the knob to open the door and enters the room.
“No… he didn’t…” Secretary Xu said as he stands up and quickly followed the elder Xi Men.
Mr. Xi Men took a deep breath and then he heads to Xi Men’s chair. “I don’t know what kind of son I have anymore,” he sits down. “I will take over from now onwards,”
“Ah?” Secretary Xu said.
“Give me the documents that have been pending for his signatures. All the projects he has been working on… just pass it to me. I will settle them. Brief me whatever you needed to brief so that I can take over,” Mr. Xi Men said.
“Errr…” Secretary Xu stunned. “CEO Xi Men usually handles projects on his own and I don’t know much about them…”
“Then what is the password to his email account? So I can access his emails and take over the projects,”
“I don’t know his password, but when you click on the ‘Email’ button on desktop, his email account will be opened…” Secretary Xu said.
“Okay, then I’ll do just that,” Mr. Xi Men switched on the computer.
“Sir, may I know when is CEO Xi Men coming back?”
“Xi Men will not come back,” Mr. Xi Men said.
“I don’t know. A week. A month. Or forever, I don’t know,” Mr. Xi Men said in frustration.
“Oh…” that is all Secretary Xu can say.
“Like I do not have enough work already when I already have one company in New York to manage. And now asking me to manage this as well,” Mr. Xi Men took a deep breath, with his mind full of stress and thinking about future problems, he pressed his forehead.
Hearing that, “What is it?” Mr. Xi Men asked.
“President Xi Men, since CEO Xi Men is not around for the last few days, he actually had missed a few appointments. Do you want me to set them for you, sir?”
“I need to know what kind of projects or the objective of the appointments first. Any idea how many ongoing or upcoming projects that Xi Men is handling?”
“CEO Xi Men handles…” Secretary Xu takes a deep breath, “24 ongoing projects, 8 projects to begin in the next 4 months, and CEO Xi Men is trying to nail another 5 new project within 6 months,”
Mr. Xi Men immediately looked at Secretary Xu. “24 ongoing, 8 to start and targeting another 5?”
“Yes, sir, 4 projects have been successfully completed and obtained closure with partners last month itself. One has run for 5 years, one for 3 years, one for 18 months and the last one completed within 6 months,”
Mr. Xi Men stares at Secretary Xu for a while, “Xi Men, alone, gets all those projects?”
“The ones that I have uttered are all obtained and handled by CEO Xi Men and it is only half of the projects that Xi Men Corporation works on. We have 49 projects that is running now,”
Mr. Xi Men turns away and frowned a bit as well as bites his lips. Right now he knew how capable his son is.
“Glad to know about that,” he mumbled. “What is the password to log in into Xi Men’s computer?” he asked as he looked at the computer screen.
“I… I don’t know and he never tells anyone. I think… I’ll drop a call to CEO Xi Men to ask…”
“No need, you can instead drop a call to the Management Information System (MIS) department and get the System Administrator and ask him to settle this,” Mr. Xi Men said, taking a deep breath.
“Umm… but I can call CEO Xi Men and ask because that will be full access and the System Administrator may not…”
“Just call the System Administrator. Xi Men’s phone has either been off or he doesn’t want to pick it up since that day I fought with him,” Mr. Xi Men said in frustration.
Secretary Xu looked at him. “Umm… okay, sir… I… go out now and get the…”
“Okay, go… go,” Mr. Xi Men said as he flings his hand, asking Secretary Xu to go ahead.
Secretary Xu immediately leaves the CEO room and closes the door. He stood at his cubicle for a while, and then slowly turned to look at the door of the CEO room.
It must have been a huge fight for Xi Men not to come back, and for his father to overtake the CEO position and the company.
And even had the phone switched off.
Or refused to pick up calls.
Xi Men sits at the dining table browsing his smartphone by pressing on the screen and scrolling up. With his left hand supporting his heavy head, he took multiple deep breaths as he sees what is being displayed on screen.
He lifted his head up when someone passed by in front of him.
She headed to the fridge to pour herself a glass of apple juice.
Her eyes would turn to look at him.
And he caught her looking at him.
“Do you want apple juice?” Emily casually asked.
“No, thanks…” Xi Men smiled at her.
“Okay,” Emily closes the fridge’s door and then walked back to the living room with the apple juice in hand.
DING! YOU HAVE A NEW EMAIL.
Xi Men frowned and is a little bit surprised by it. He then clicked on the email.
President Xi Men said he is going to overtake your position. He said you are not coming back and he wants to use your computer to access the projects. We didn’t know your password. If I call for the System Administrator to break your password, I am afraid some of your documents and data may lost or if you have any confidential documents, they might be fully accessed by the System Administrator. I am not sure as I am not an IT expert. I don’t know what to do now, sir. What should I do, sir? Are you really not coming back?
Regards, Secretary Xu.
Xi Men took a deep breath. “Did my father call me just to ask me for password?” his eyes strayed. “I don’t think so. He wouldn’t call me just to ask for password when he can ask Secretary Xu to do so…”
Anyhow it is not important. He knew his dad will after all just say the same damn thing if he picks up the phone.
Get the f*ck back home and marry Amanda.
Xi Men closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
He opened his eyes and looked at the phone, and he decided to reply the email, with his password.
The next day, Thursday morning.
Xiao You takes out a spin-dried shirt from the laundry basket and flaps the shirt, before she hangs it on the laundry clothesline.
“Can I help you?”
Xiao You turned her head and looked at Xi Men standing at the back door of the house, looking at her. “I can do it, no worries,” she smiled, before turning her head back, and takes out another shirt from the laundry basket.
“I didn’t ask if you needed help. I asked if I can help you,”
Xiao You laughed. She knew he must have nothing to do, and damn bored in the house.
“Come over, then,” she said, without looking at him.
Xi Men eventually walked to her. “So, what should I do?” he looked at her hanging the shirt.
“Here,” she takes out a shirt from the basket and then passed it to him. “Watch and learn,” she smiled, taking another shirt. “It is quite simple,”
He looked at her flaps the shirt, he followed.
“And this must be inside out,” she suddenly said, and pointed at the shirt to him. “Make sure of that,” she said.
“Oh,” he said, looking at the shirt in his hand. “Alright, inside out…” he did as directed. “And then?” he asked.
“Hang it like this,” she hangs the shirt over the clothesline. “And then grab a clothes peg,” and she clipped the shirt. “One side each,”
He again, did as directed. “Why are we clipping the shirts?”
“Because it will not fly away or fall down onto the ground when wind blows,”
“Ah, I get it,” Xi Men smiled.
“First time doer, eh?” she smiled, as she took up another shirt.
Xi Men smiled. “You know I don’t do these at home,”
“You have maids, I know,” she smiled. “So you don’t have to do your laundry,”
“Well, you are partially right about that,”
“Which one is not right?” she asked.
“My house has a dryer so there is no need to hang semi dried clothes on clothesline, and I don’t have maids,” Xi Men said, now taking a shirt out from the basket.
“No maids?” she asked. “That’s a surprise,”
“I asked them to leave when I found out my dad asked them to monitor me,” Xi Men said. “So they’ll come and clean my house when I am not home, specifically; working hours only,”
“Oh,” she said.
“Yes, so when they come, they do my laundry, which is what you are right about,” he smiled.
She smiled as she took another shirt from the basket.
Xi Men then looked at the shirt in his hand, he frowned, and then he looked at all the clothes hung on the clothesline, and the frown eases. “Eh, these are all my clothes,”
“Now only you realized?” she laughed.
“I thought it was your dad’s,” Xi Men said. “And then I realized this shirt looks really familiar,”
Xi Men then frowned again as he looked around, seemingly searching for something.
“What are you looking at?” she asked.
“Umm… did you wash my… underwear too?” he sheepishly asked.
She laughed, “Have to admit about that, yes,”
“AHHHH,” he immediately embarrassed. “But I didn’t see any of them here,”
“Still in this basket,” she pointed. “At the bottom,”
“Let me hang them myself,” his cheeks reddened.
“Alright,” she laughed as takes another shirt again.
“Do I hang them the same way too?” he sheepishly asked.
“I can teach you,”
“Umm… just… just stand there and teach me,” he said.
She laughed again.
“Eh, stop laughing already. I am very embarrassed I feel like I want to hide now!”
“Fine, dig a hole here and put your head in like an ostrich,” she laughed.
“AHHHHH,” he covered his face with both of his hands.
She remained laughing for a while, “I didn’t know you’ll feel embarrassed about that,”
“Why wouldn’t I?” he asked her.
“Since you were the great playboy, a lot of women had seen everything about you. So, and that includes your underwear…”
“I was a playboy, but I am not anymore, right?” Xi Men said. “And besides, I know you’ve seen everything,”
“Hey!” she threw a hard slap over his arm. “Don’t you involve me in such conversation,”
“Ouch,” he rubbed his painful arm. “And now you’re embarrassed,” he pointed back at her, and then resumed rubbing.
She eyed him, and then protrudes her tongue out at him.
He laughed at her as he remained rubbing his arm. “You really hit damn hard,” he said. “Must have inherited from your dad,”
“I inherited a good one. Serves you right,” she said.
He stopped rubbing as it is no longer painful and he lowered his body to take another shirt from the basket. Suddenly, he laughed again.
“What are you laughing about?” she asked in annoyance.
“I remember the first time you slap me,” he said, standing straight again and flaps the shirt.
“First time I slap you?” her annoyance vanished and now curiosity plastered all over her face.
“In Ying De,” he smiled. “You were offended when I tell you all I will do to women is just date, kiss and sleep with them,”
“Oh? I thought you said you don’t remember I slapped you when I go to your house to apologize,”
“Initially, I don’t. And yes, that very same time you are at my house, you reminded me of that,” he smirked, hangs the shirt over the clothesline and clips it. “And asked for a week from me. You gave me your number and then you ran off,” he laughed at the thought of it.
Her eyes strayed when he is able to mention the right sequence of things that had happened on that specific meeting on those innocent days of hers. “Hmmm. You remembered,” she said.
“I remember everything,” Xi Men smiled.
“So strange,” she said.
“Why so?” he looked at her.
“That was the last thing I would expect from you; to remember things that had happened,” she smiled.
“That’s because we didn’t spend a lot of time together. We didn’t have a lot of special events or things that we’ve done together. A lot of people, including Mei Zhuo, have a lot of special and memorable situations with their loved ones that they don’t even remember which is which because there’s too many of them,” a small laugh escapes his mouth. “But that is not the case for me,”
She smiled. “Do you actually remember these specific details you have spent with all women?”
He looked at her and smiled faintly. “If I don’t remember the women’s name, what makes you think I can remember what I’ve done with them?”
“Date, kiss and sleep?”
Xi Men laughed again. “You wanna know something?”
“I wanna know everything,” she replied.
He laughed again as he flaps the shirt in his hand and then puts it on the clothesline expertly. “9 years ago, 8 years ago, 7 years ago, 6 years ago, 5 years ago, 4 years ago, 3 years ago, 2 years ago, last year…”
She finds it weird that he is doing a countdown all of a sudden that she gives him a frown that get bigger each and every year he had counted.
“…last month, last week, yesterday, today and right now, I only remember I have dated you, I have kissed you and I have slept with you,” he looked at her with a small smile on his face.
Her frowned eased immediately and her eyes widened up.
“I may have dated, kissed and slept with many other women but they are not significant to me. My memory has been reserved for you and only you. So I will only remember all the things we have done and will do together. The days and times we have spent together in Taipei, Hualien and Alishan… they are the best time of my life,” he smiled.
She feels touched right now.
“Remember 9 years ago… I told you about ‘very moment’?”
“My very moment is every single moment I have spent with you, which I will treasure and appreciate until the day I die,” he smiled as he looked at her. “Including right now, where I have learnt how to hang semi dried clothes with you,”
She couldn’t help but laughed.
“So, tomorrow and forever, I will still remember that I have dated you, I have kissed you and I have slept with you… and hang clothes with you,”
“And of course everything else that we have done together, and going to do together,” he said.
She remained smiling, and then she nodded.
He looked at her, and he really wanted to kiss her.
He loves her.
She loves him back.
If not for Emily, he will be officially in a relationship with Xiao You now.
But because of Emily… he knew he had to keep his distance.
Because Xiao You had said before… if Emily is not going to accept him, she (Xiao You) will not too.
He pressed his lips together, and then she turned and continued hanging her clothes.
And seeing she continued the task, he also continued by grabbing another shirt from the basket. “You must have entered my room and look for my shirts without me realizing it,”
“Umm, I am sorry about that…” Xiao You said. “I probably shouldn’t have entered your room…”
“No worries, there is nothing to hide in my room anyway,” he casually said. “I mean, that’s your guest room. You can enter and leave as you please. But when did you enter anyway?”
“When you are in the living room…”
“So secretive,” Xi Men smiled. “You could have told me about taking my clothes to wash,”
“I am afraid after telling you, you wouldn’t let me do it,”
“You are right about it,” Xi Men said, hangs the shirt expertly now and happy that at least there is something he can do here. “Anyway, how did you know which shirt is clean and which is not?”
“Based on what I remember,” she smiled. “I may missed some clothes though,”
Xi Men smiled. “Xiao You, why do you wash my clothes?”
“Xi Men, you’ve been here for 5 days and you didn’t tell me about doing laundry. I was afraid you are going to run low on clean clothes,”
“I could wash them myself,”
“Do you know how to?”
“You can teach me,” he said, looking at her. “And it is a washing machine… you can teach me what button to press. I can always learn you know,”
“Xi Men, you have always relied on maids,” she flaps the shirt in her hand.
“Used to. But not anymore right now,”
“It is still possible, as it looks like I am the only ‘maid’ available here,”
“You are not my maid. You are not subject to clean them for me,” Xi Men said. “Please don’t do my laundry anymore. Teach me how to wash. I am a commoner now, I have to learn all of these, just like you,” he smiled at her.
She smiled back. “But you do pack a lot of shirts and pants in your luggage. You still have some clean clothes in there,”
“I just put as many clothes as I can into the luggage as long as there’s space,” Xi Men said, lowering his body down and wanted to grab another shirt from the basket but noticed there’s none left.
“Typical,” she said, clipping the clothes peg on the shirt she just hung.
She lowered her body and extends her hand into the basket.
“No, stop,” Xi Men said, grabbing her hand, halting her.
“Hmm?” she looked at him.
“Stand here and teach me how to hang these,” he said, pointed into the basket.
Wondering why he said that, she looked into the basket.
Apparently, they are all his underwear.
And she starts laughing again.
“Emily, what are you doing?”
Emily turned around and looked at her grandmother, standing right behind her at the door.
“Peeking at your mommy and Xi Men?” Mrs. Yang asked, looking out to where Emily is possibly looking at.
“Nothing,” Emily said. “I go watch cartoon, grandma,” and she quickly walked away.
Mrs. Yang looked at Emily walking away, and then returned her gaze to Xiao You and Xi Men hanging laundry together at the backyard.
Though from where she stood, she couldn’t hear what Xi Men and Xiao You talked about but she can see they are going along well and even laughed together.
Mrs. Yang smiled. “Xiao You is happy,”