“And then, daddy almost stepped on dog poop,” Emily said, as Xiao You runs the towel around Emily’s hair, drying it, as she has just taken shower.
“Really?” Xiao You laughed.
“Yeah! He didn’t even see it! If not for me, he would have stepped on it,” Emily proudly said.
Xiao You remained laughing. “Right, so you are daddy’s savior,”
Emily smiled. “And mommy, I am glad you persisted about me not having a pet,”
That is strange.
“Hmm? Why so?” Xiao You asked curiously. “I thought you have always wanted one,”
“Daddy told me right after he almost stepped on it… that if I have a pet dog, not only I need to take care of the dog but I also need to walk the dog… and if the dog pooped, I need to pick up its poop, even if it is on the street!” she said. “Urgh,”
Xiao You laughed. “Daddy is right,”
“Yeah, so… I am glad you strongly disagree with me having a pet. I am so glad it didn’t happen. I have never thought about picking dog’s poop on the street,”
Xiao You smiled. ‘Xi Men is good,’ she thought. “So,” she said. “Are you mingling well with Xi Men?”
“Yes mommy. We are good,”
“What do you think about him?”
“Think? He is nice. And he is my father!”
Xiao You smiled. “I am glad you are on good terms with him. When you were first told about him, your reaction terrifies me. I am so glad now you are no longer like that,”
“So, mommy, now that I am on good terms with him, what about you with him?” Emily asked. “Must be good, right? Daddy kissed you a lot. MUAHHHHH,” she imitated the kissing act.
“Wei, don’t be so naughty,” Xiao You said.
“Hehehehe,” Emily smiled shyly.
“We are bonding,” Xiao You said, putting down the towel and now combing her half-dried hair.
“That is good,” Emily said. “Go out for dates more often, okay. I will be fine alone at home. As long as I have TV, I will be happy,”
“Dates?” Xiao You asked.
“Yes, mommy. You said you are bonding with daddy. You definitely need to go out for movies and also candlelight dinner with daddy,”
“Are you watching too much TV already?” Xiao You asked.
“Hee,” Emily grins.
Xiao You eventually smiled. “Actually, it has been a while,” she said, taking a deep contenting breath.
“Your daddy and I haven’t been on a date for a long time,” Xiao You smiled.
“Don’t worry, mommy. I am sure both of you will have many, many opportunities in the future to go on dates,” Emily grinned.
“Yes, we will ditch you at home since you have been really naughty towards me, huh,”
“Awww…” Emily pouted. “But then I don’t want to disturb you too,”
“Wow, you said that, seriously?” Xiao You asked.
“Because you love to come with me to everywhere,”
“I know. I still do. But I will learn how and when not to follow so that both of you and daddy can have good times together,” Emily bares her teeth again.
Xiao You just remained smiling as she continued combing Emily’s hair.
“Mommy, you love daddy. And daddy loves you. I know you have been on your own for the last 9 years even before I was born. I want you to be happy. I am happy with you and I am happy with daddy. Now, I wish that both of you are happy with each other,”
Xiao You smiled faintly. “Don’t worry, Emily. We will handle this on our own, okay?”
“Okay, mommy,” Emily said.
Xiao You smiled lightly as she combs Emily’s hair.
Audi S8. Price from CAD$130,000.
‘That’s a luxury car…’ Xi Men frowned, after he saw it on the website that he uses his smartphone to see.
“Daddy,” Emily called as she sits down on the couch in front of Xi Men.
Xi Men remains immerse in his thought, he didn’t notice Emily sits down in front of him, and didn’t hear her calling as well.
“Daddy,” she called again. “Hello…” she starts waving in front of Xi Men.
“Hmm?” he finally noticed Emily and he lifted his head to look at her.
“What are you doing?”
“Oh, umm… browsing some sites,” Xi Men said, and then he looked down to the phone again, and he pressed the ‘back button’ to close the browser, but instead of closing the entire browser, the jobs’ site is displayed instead.
He sighed when he saw the page.
Emily frowned. “Daddy,” she walked and sits next to him.
“Yes sweetie?” Xi Men asked, trying to plaster a smile on his face as he puts his hand across Emily’s shoulder.
“Why do you look so depressed?” Emily asked.
“Depressed?” he asked. “No, I am not. Who says I am depressed?” he fakes a smile again.
“Urgh, daddy, please. Not the fake smile,”
“Ah?” Xi Men said. “My face is… obvious?”
“I am 8 years old, not 5. You can’t really lie to me,” Emily said. “I won’t buy it,”
Xi Men looked at her. “Geez, you are 8. You are going to be big, big girl soon,”
“Yes, daddy, I am,” she smiled.
He sighed. “If only I have been with your mommy earlier… then I can see you grow up day by day,”
Emily just smiled. “It is okay, daddy. I am still growing,” she said.
For some reason, upon hearing she said that, it makes him happy.
“So, daddy, why are you so depressed?”
“Well… I am still trying to look for a job…” he browses the list of jobs again.
“Oh, so that is why you are upset?”
“You can say like that,” Xi Men said, and then he looked down. “Well, I’ll see if things are not so right for me… I might just establish my own company here,”
“Oh?” Emily asked.
“Yeah, but not so soon,” Xi Men said. “I am still giving myself options. And… establishing a company takes a really long time,” he murmured his latter statement.
“Does that mean you should start now? So that the faster you start, the faster you get it up?”
Xi Men smiled. “Setting a company up is not as easy as you thought, Emily. You are still way too young to understand about this,” he patted her head. “Well, right now, most important to you is to study smart. You don’t have to worry about my job or my company, whichever it is,”
“Hmmm… okay,” Emily smiled.
Xi Men bites his lips.
The silence didn’t last long.
“So… what about mommy?” Emily asked.
“What about her?” Xi Men asked, looking at Emily.
“You don’t have any plans for mommy? Like, bring mommy out on a date?” Emily said.
A small smile formed on Xi Men’s face. “Since when you become so nosy to stick your hand in into our matters, huh?”
“I was just curious,” Emily giggled.
He laughed softly.
“Daddy, can I ask you…”
“Sure, what is it?” he asked as he still laughs.
“Are you going to marry mommy?” Emily asked.
His laughter fades to a smile. “Yes, I will…”
*Flashback to earlier in the day.
Xi Men slowly took out a small, elegant, maroon red, square box from his pants’ pocket.
Xiao You’s facial expression immediately changed upon seeing the box.
“I know this is probably not the right place to do this, and this may be the most unromantic way…” he opens the box, revealing a really beautiful diamond ring, “…to propose,” he swallowed a lump in his throat and he nervously looked up to Xiao You. “Xiao You, will you marry me?”
Xiao You stared at the diamond ring in the box, with her mouth slightly opened and she blinked numerous times as she is in disbelief that Xi Men would propose to her. Her eyes slowly traveled from the box to meet Xi Men in his eyes.
Xi Men swallowed yet another quickly-formed lump in his throat, while his left hand is still holding the box, waiting for Xiao You’s respond.
Xiao You extends her right hand out to reach the box, and then she closes the box. “No,”
Now, it is Xi Men’s turn to stare at Xiao You in disbelief. “Why?”
Xiao You lowered her head down, before she lifted it up again. “It is not time yet,”
“You love me too, right? That is what you said just now,”
“I love you but that doesn’t mean I am ready to marry you,” she said, looking at Xi Men.
Xi Men doesn’t understand. “But why…?”
Xiao You took a deep breath. “You know very well that I am not asking this from you,”
“I know, but I want to…”
She immediately interrupts. “We have Emily, I know, and I know you want to be responsible for this but… everything is happening too fast,” she paused for a while. “Xi Men, I didn’t even know what our status is now. All I know is that this is just the beginning. I don’t know where I stand in your life yet…”
“You are my everything, Xiao You,”
“That is not my point. I mean…” Xiao You closed her eyes for a while. “This is not what I needed at this point of time,” she opened her eyes and looked at Xi Men. “And this is not what you need at this time too,”
“What do you mean…?”
“Xi Men, there are more important things for you to do, and certainly this is not one of it,” Xiao You said. “You lost everything. You fought with your dad, you lost your job, you lost your company and because of these, you lost your identity and you are disastrously devastated by it, just like you have claimed, if such word exists. You came to Toronto with all these problems residing inside your heart and because you are so good at hiding them, you thought I didn’t know you have them. And I also know you have a lot of stress and pressure regarding what to do in your life, and I didn’t want to add more to you. Additional stress is the last thing you need now,”
“You are not my stress…” he reasoned as tears starting to well up in his eyes.
“Xi Men,” she gripped on his right hand that has never left her hand. “I will be, if I say yes now,”
Xi Men looked at Xiao You, does not understand completely.
Xiao You lowered her head as she swallowed the disturbing lump in her throat. “You said you are okay to survive on savings, but you have no idea how long you can stay like this. I do not want to be one of the reasons to eat into your savings to prepare for a wedding or expect you to start providing for the family. You have already achieved success with Emily accepting you. You do not have to rush yourself into doing and handling more than what you could. Right now, you need to find your identity again, a job, or a career; not a marriage or wedding to give me my rightful status,”
Xi Men looked at her, as a tear fell down to his cheek.
She immediately reached forward to wipe the tear that represents his sorrow and sadness, away from his cheek. “You must remember, the moment I put the ring on, you will have a huge responsibility and both Emily and I will be a massive burden to you. And the truth is, those can wait,” she smiled lightly. “I am going to stay right here supporting you. I will wait for you. And…” she smiled. “And we do need to spend some time together before I said yes,”
He couldn’t even bring himself to smile at that.
“I want you to settle all those knots in your heart. I want you to get back up and be happy with who you are and what you do. You have a lot of things to figure out,” she said, and about a few seconds later, she turned Xi Men’s right palm up to face her and she puts the box into his hand. She then rolled his fingers to grip onto the ring box, while both of her hands gripped on Xi Men’s right hand which is holding onto the box tightly. “Xi Men, keep this ring. When everything is settled, stable and steady; propose to me again,” she said, biting her lower lip and then she rose to her feet.
She looked at Xi Men who is looking down to his feet, looking devastated.
It is heartbreaking. He felt dejected that his proposal failed.
She knew why he is like this. No one likes rejection. But she knew this is the best for him. She smiled lightly as she leaned over and kissed his cheek. “I still love you loads. It is just not the right time yet. Promise me that you will try again next time,”
He looked up and looked at Xiao You who is smiling at him. He forced a smile and nodded. “Okay,”
“No hard feelings,” Xiao You said.
He nods yet another time again.
“And I want a proposal at the right place with the most romantic way,” she added with a smile.
He sniffed. “I will,”
She clasped both of her hands together, with the smile remained on her face, “I have some forms to fill now. Once I am done with it, we can leave,”
“Sure, take your time,”
She looked down slightly with a faint smile, as she turned and walked away.
“…but… not now,” Xi Men’s face suddenly went sad.
“Oh,” Emily said. “But why?”
“Because your mommy understands the hardship that I am having. She wants me to get back on track first,” he said, smiling faintly at Emily.
“Hardship? Daddy, you mean, you face a lot of difficulties here?” Emily asked.
“No, I don’t,” Xi Men smiled as he stroked her cheek.
“Daddy, I know. Because of me and mommy… you fought with your daddy, you lost your company, and you break off your engagement…”
Xi Men frowned. “How did you know?”
“Of course I know, daddy. Why wouldn’t I? You and mommy have been talking about finding jobs here in Toronto in this living room,” Emily said.
His frown immediately disappears. “Oh,” and soon, the frown returned. “No, I mean, how did you know I fought with my dad and I cancelled my engagement?”
She opened her mouth only to close it back. She was about to tell him that she actually heard his conversation with Xiao You about 2 weeks ago… and thankfully she remembers she shouldn’t say that or she’ll get herself exposed that she eavesdropped. “Uncle Harry told me,” she replied.
“Oh,” Xi Men said again.
Phew. Thankfully Uncle Harry did mentioned that to her.
“Emily,” Xi Men moved and sits closer to Emily. “Don’t worry about daddy, okay? I will get back on track soon,”
“Does that mean if you are not getting back on track anytime soon, you won’t marry mommy?”
Xi Men’s eyes strayed upon hearing that. He wasn’t sure how to reply that.
How and what to reply to an 8 years old kid?
“I will,” Xi Men said. “I will, when your mommy says yes,”
CLACK. (door open)
Xiao You, sitting at doorsteps right outside of the house, turned to look at the door.
Xi Men’s head protrudes from the door. “Hey,”
Xiao You smiled. “Hey,” she replied.
Xi Men walked out from the house, and slowly closed the door behind him.
“Is Emily asleep?” Xiao You asked.
“Yes, after insisting me to read her 3 books,” Xi Men smiled. “But she already dozed off by the 5th page of the third book,” he sits down at the doorsteps too, next to Xiao You.
Xiao You laughed softly. “I guess she must have watched too much shows or cartoons. You know those shows… they always show the parents would read the kids’ books to serenade them to sleep,”
“Do you always read her books before she goes to sleep?” Xi Men asked.
“No. She actually didn’t have the habit of having someone to read her books before she goes to bed,” Xiao You said.
“Ah? Then why…?”
“To be honest, I was surprised too when she asked you to read her books just now. I guess it is because you are her newly found father. She must have wanted to be close with you. And since you haven’t been there for her for the last 8 years, she wants to get all the attention she could from you. I think you probably need to prepare, just in case she asked you to start singing her songs to lullaby her to sleep,” she started laughing.
“Sing?!” Xi Men exclaimed.
“Shhh,” she immediately placed her finger on her lips and stops laughing at the same time.
Xi Men followed her action and he placed his finger on his lips too.
“My parents’ room is just right behind here,” she pointed to the 3rd window from where she sits. “You’ll wake them up if you speak too loud,”
“Alright, I got it… but your parents are not asleep yet,”
“Ah? They haven’t?”
“Yeah, they are watching TV in the living room. Your dad said he has a show to catch. And if they are asleep, I wouldn’t know you are here, right?” Xi Men asked. “No one will tell me you are here…”
Xiao You smiled. “Ah… right,”
“So…” Xi Men said, and then he looked around the area. “Why are you sitting here? Is there anything special to see at night?”
“Well, nothing special, besides the beautiful full moon up in the sky,” she said, leading to Xi Men lifting his head up and see. “I just like the peace and calmness outside here. And I haven’t been sitting here for a long, long time,”
“You mean you like to sit at the doorsteps? The steps are hard and they are concrete… what is good about it?” Xi Men asked.
“Not in that sense,” Xiao You said.
She smiled. “Well my house doesn’t have a verandah to really sit and enjoy the night breeze. Sometimes, you just want to stand outside the house and enjoy what the night offers; wind… breeze…”
“And mozzie,” he immediately smacks onto his arm after he caught one making itself comfortable with his blood.
Xiao You laughed upon hearing what he said and seeing what he did. “I haven’t been bitten yet and you have already become a victim. Must be foreigner’s blood,”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“I don’t know. I always noticed that mosquito attacks non-resident, for some odd reason which I don’t know,” Xiao You said. “For example, you don’t reside here, and you are attacked by that poor little mozzie you have just smacked,”
“I guess what you said makes sense. I remembered I almost got sucked dry at Mei Zhuo’s place,”
Xiao You laughed. “And you are saying it as thought he breeds mosquito,”
“He keeps teasing me when he said both he and Xiao Qiao didn’t have such problem, but yet almost every single time I head to his place, I will be these mozzies’ free food,” he smacked his left thigh this time. “Gosh, I am not earning now, if you wanna eat me, pay me!” he scolds the flattened mosquito in his hand.
Xiao You laughed at that statement, and then looked at him patting his hands to get rid of the dead mosquito.
She then smiled. “There was once I sit here with Emily in my arms. She’s 5 months old that time. She was bitten by mosquito on her cheek,”
“Yeah, so… I didn’t come out and sit here anymore,” Xiao You said. “And as she grows up, I don’t have much time, and most of the free time I have; it is already end of the day and all I was looking forward for is just rest, or nap, or sleep. I don’t have any mood to really sit down here and enjoy the breeze. And when I have the moods, it is either raining, or a perfectly wonderful winter time and you know it is not possible to sit here during winter…”
Xi Men smiled. At the corner of his eyes, he saw a familiar, black car again; parked slightly further from the house. His gaze traveled to the black car and realized it is the Audi S8.
“Xi Men,” she called, with tad of seriousness.
Xi Men turned looked at Xiao You. “Yeah?”
“I am sorry about what happened earlier in the day. I really hope you are not taking it too bad…”
“You mean… about the proposal?”
Xiao You nodded.
Xi Men moved to sit closer to Xiao You. He crossed his hand over to the other side and he rubbed her arm. “I am perfectly fine. I understand. I won’t deny that it sucks to feel rejected but I know you are doing it for me,” he smiled, “I will not let you down. And I will not let you wait for me in vain,”
Xiao You smiled.
Xi Men leaned closer and kissed her cheek and she blushed for a while.
“Xiao You, what do you think if I set up a company here instead?” he asked.
“Company?” she looked at him.
“Yeah. I was thinking… I have always been managing a company which I think is my best skill and talent, and that judging at how things go right now… many might not want to hire me because of my background. Like we have always said; underpaid, or not eligible because I am not a citizen. And since I have a bit savings, I was thinking probably I can set up my own company instead. What do you think?”
“It is okay with me. If you think that is the best for you, you can go for it, but what do you want to do? I mean, what kind of industry are you planning to go with?”
“I haven’t had an idea yet. So, either I have to consult you, or do my own research first about what I can do in Canada. I’ll make you my co-owner,” he smiled, as he entwined his fingers with her fingers.
“I won’t be able to offer you anything but complaints,” she laughed.
He laughed too. “Complaints are good with me,” he said.
She remained laughing, and a couple of seconds later, the laughter subsides until only a smile is formed on her face.
“I think the idea of setting up a company is good, if you have the budget, skill and determination. I trust that you can do well. Like you have said, just do your research about which industry you want to go with first, we’ll talk about the rest later,” she said.
He smiled and nodded, and then his smile faded. “But the process of setting up a company is not easy. There will be a lot of trials and errors, and to wait until the company is stable and steady and starting to generate revenue will take a lot of time, probably years. Business is a risk. Not every single business can make it and that sometimes, a company may not even generate revenue,” he lowered his head down a bit. “Then… when will you marry me?” he lifted his head up again, and looked at her.
She smiled as she then caressed his strong jaw line. “I will wait and I have confidence in you that your new company will generate revenue,”
“But I am not confident,” he said. “This is Canada, not Taiwan, so this is entirely new market, which is why it worries me even more,”
“Alright, I’ll make a deal with you,” she smiled, putting down her hand from caressing his face. “Even if your new company is still not stable…”
He looked at her.
“In 3 years, I will marry you with just a stalk of rose, and I will marry you without the need of a romantic proposal at the right place. We will just have a small wedding with attendance of close relatives and friends based in Toronto. We will…”
“I will not let that happen to you,” he holds her hand and he shook. “I will not…”
“So, you need to make sure your company goes well, then you can give me a better proposal and wedding,” she smiled.
Xi Men smiled faintly as he swallowed the lump in his throat. “I will do my best. I will definitely do my best,” he repeated.
“I love you so much,” he said.
“I love you too,” she replied.
He leaned over and he kissed her passionately on her lips.
His kiss never fails to impress her and creates shivers down her spine.
She had always loved the way he kissed her.
Her lips are so alluring that whenever he kissed her, he didn’t want to stop.
He loves her so much that it is obviously shown in his kiss.
Soon, they break off the kiss, but their face remained close with just 2 inches apart.
Xi Men smiled as he looked at her closely. He loves seeing her this close, his eyes traces her facial features slowly and closely.
She smiled and then, biting her lips, she turned away slowly, still feeling shy in front of Xi Men.
Xi Men lowered his head slightly as he knew the impact he is giving her, before he lifted his head up and straightened his head, and his gaze immediately landed at the parked black Audi S8.
He couldn’t help but he had to ask as it bothers him, “Xiao You, may I ask…” his eyes are still fixed at the car.
Sensing the serious tone in his speech, her shyness disappears. “Sure,” Xiao You said, turned and looked at him. “What is it?”
“I just want to confirm with you…”
Xi Men turned his head to look at Xiao You. “The other day, Emily described to me about this neighborhood, and from the way she said it… there isn’t any rich family that are staying here. As in, very rich. Is it true?”
“You are right. There isn’t,” Xiao You said.
“Then, what about… anyone from this neighborhood is dating some rich bloke? Or… anyone here has any connection to some rich guy? Either mistress or…”
“Huh?” Xiao You asked.
“Umm…” Xi Men also finds that what he said or asked is weird. “There is this one car that is parked at the roadside… do you have any idea whose car is that?” Xi Men asked, turning his head to look at the car now.
Xiao You followed his gaze and turned to look at where and what he is looking at. “The black car?” she looked at the same car Xi Men is looking at.
“Umm… no,” Xiao You said. “What about it? And… why is it related to being rich or dating someone rich?”
“Because that is Audi S8, it is selling at over CAD$130,000 so it is definitely a luxury car,” Xi Men said, his eyes focused to the stationary car again.
“Well, to be really honest, this is the first time I see that car…” Xiao You said.
“First time? That Audi has been here for…” his facial expression changed as he recalled. “…days. It’s been here for days. I remember seeing that Audi here when we came back from shopping and when we came back from High Park last Friday. I saw it in the evening just now when I was walking with Emily. It is parked exactly at the same spot and it drives passed me that time, and now it is back here,”
“But… can it be just the neighbor changed their car?”
Xi Men remained staring at the car. “Though there is a possibility it is one of your neighbors’ car… but… but I am skeptical about…”
Suddenly, the Audi’s headlight is turned on.
Xi Men and Xiao You are surprised as they didn’t see anyone gets down or got in into the car.
And the car swerves and headed down the road, bypassing their house.
“That is strange,” Xiao You said. “I didn’t see anyone get on the car…”
Xi Men’s eyes strayed. “No one gets on… no one gets off… it means…”
Xiao You looked at him.
“Someone in this neighborhood has been monitored,” Xi Men said, looking at Xiao You.
“But who?” Xiao You asked, slightly terrified.
“No idea. But we need to be careful too,” Xi Men said, gripping her hand tightly.