“Grandma!” Emily dashes to Mrs. Yang and hugs her.
“Hi Emily,” Mrs. Yang said.
“Grandma, I miss you so, so much!”
Mrs. Yang smiled. “I miss you too,” she patted Emily’s back.
“Hi mom,” Xiao You said, as she enters the house next, while Xi Men looked at his driver that he has hired for this whole week’s trip in Toronto; carrying the luggage to the house.
“Xiao You,” Mrs. Yang smiled as now she hugs Xiao You. “Tiring flight?”
“It is okay,” Xiao You replied.
Xi Men then talked to the driver for a bit more, before asking the driver to leave.
Xi Men then entered the house after he saw the driver drives off. “Aunty,” he called and smiled.
“Hi Xi Men,” Mrs. Yang responded.
Looking exhausted, Xi Men then turned to look at Xiao You. “Xiao You, I need to make some calls,”
“Sure,” Xiao You responded.
Xi Men eventually opened the door and heads out of the house.
Mrs. Yang looked at him, and then she turned and look at Xiao You. “Sounds like urgent calls?”
“Yes, it is,” Xiao You said.
“What happened? He can’t leave his company or something?” Mrs. Yang asked.
“Not that… but…” Xiao You said.
“Something had happened,” Xiao You said. “When we had hopped on the flight to come back to Toronto… he reads a newspaper on the plane and found out that the media has written something that didn’t please him…”
“About his work?”
“About you and Xi Men?”
Xiao You nodded. “Xi Men is not happy with it. He would usually respond to these matters immediately but since we will be in Toronto for a week…”
“Well, did he want to go back to Taipei to solve it?”
Xiao You shook. “He just wants to make some calls… and since we were on the plane for the last 14 hours, he can’t call… and it has been bugging him the entire flight. He didn’t really get to rest because of this,”
“Hmm. Sounds like a huge issue, what did they wrote?”
“Not exactly a huge issue, but he didn’t like how it has been perceived and also the way it might be perceived,” Xiao You said. “We were photographed together with Emily, and the press wrote that I might be the person that caused Xi Men’s previous engagement to fail,”
Mrs. Yang frowned for a while. “Now I understand why he is reacting like that. I think it is really not right for the press to say like that,”
Xiao You smiled faintly.
“So, Xi Men will settle it?” Mrs. Yang asked.
“That’s what he said,” Xiao You replied.
“Alright then. If that is what he says… I won’t ask him much about it, and I’ll completely trust him based on what he said,”
Xiao You smiled and nodded.
“So, do you want to eat something or do you want to rest and sleep?”
Flight mode: Exit.
Searching for Network.
Xi Men sat down on the concrete steps of the house while he awaits his phone to connect to the local telecommunication provider.
Connecting to network.
New Message: 2
Missed calls: 11
Mei Zhuo: 2 calls.
Lei: 3 calls.
Ah Si: 1 call.
Secretary Xu: 5 calls.
Xi Men’s number is a private number, only known by close people and perhaps some business partners. No reporters knew his number.
Since he had cleared his schedule for the week, there shouldn’t be any business calls.
Last call: Lei at 11.20pm (11.20am in Toronto)
Xi Men raised his left hand up and looked at the time on his wristwatch. 11.45am.
“Means Lei calls me about the time I have landed… I guess he is still not asleep,” Xi Men mumbled, and decided to call Lei up.
Lei: XI MEN!!! You finally called!
Xi Men: Hey, Lei. I’ve just reached Xiao You’s house.
Lei: Xi Men, do you have any idea what is happening here?
Xi Men: (took a deep breath as he runs his hand thru his hair) Yes, about me and Xiao You, right?
Lei: … how did you found out?
Xi Men: I saw the article in the newspaper on the plane, when I have just left Taiwan airport more than an hour later.
Lei: Oh. Oh right. The airline does provide newspaper for first class passengers.
Xi Men: Yeah… (squeezes his nasal bridge) I really hate it that this thing happened when I am not there.
Lei: Are you alright?
Xi Men: No, I am not. I am so damn stressed up now because I can’t handle this right now. And that last paragraph of the article is stating as though Xiao You is the other woman. I am sure my relationship with Xiao You will fall apart if she doesn’t believe me.
Lei: Whoa… are you guys alright right now?
Xi Men: Yes, we are, thankfully (breathes a sigh of relief).
Lei: I do agree that the last statement, even though posted as a question, is… quite misleading.
Xi Men: Quite? It is EXTREMELY misleading! One when reads that, wouldn’t even think twice and will straight away point their fingers at Xiao You and said she is the one ruining the impending wedding between me and Amanda.
Lei: Yo, man. Take it easy…
Xi Men: How am I supposed to take it easy when I will be away for a week? I don’t even dare to think how this thing is going to evolve by the time I come back!
Lei: Well, I am telling you now that I’ve already handle what I could for you. So, please try to enjoy your week away from home with ease.
Xi Men: (surprised) What do you mean?
Lei: Just so you know, your poor secretary has been getting calls from all the media representatives this morning and the calls are like non-stop. He didn’t know what to do. He tried calling you hoping he can get to you but can’t since you have already boarded the plane, and he knew you will be away to Toronto for a week, so he called me up and asking me what he should do. The media representatives even gathered at the lobby of your office, trying to get you and of course they have no idea you have just left the country. And even before Secretary Xu called me, all of us have already cracked our brain about this matter. After a thorough discussion with Mei Zhuo and Ah Si, all three of us headed to your office and it is like an instant press announcement at that time; telling the press that you are away, and wait for you to come back next week to settle the matter and I asked them not to speculate. And I seriously hope we have managed to stop them and at least buy some time from them about this matter, to wait for you to come back and settle this.
Xi Men’s gaze strayed as he didn’t expect his buddies could have done this for him.
Lei: Oh, I also mentioned that three of us are not happy with the article, and I guess your reaction will be even worse. So I hope they understand that they have made the top businessmen in the country mad.
Xi Men: Definitely worse…
Lei: I know your style on managing these matters. You will react if it is not real and you will want to handle it immediately, and the thing is, you have just left the country and you won’t be able to respond until you come back. And you know the press, if you do not respond within 2 days to them, they will assume this is right or it is the truth and those speculations will arise. I can’t address this issue for you since this is something very personal to you, so what we can do is to tell the press to wait for you to come back to address this; and we know very well you will not run away from them about this matter.
Xi Men: I, running away? When they are the one making me mad?
Lei: I know, you will chase after them to make sure they know the real thing, and you’ll gonna whack the shit out of the guy writing this.
Xi Men: EXACTLY!
Lei: (laughed) Calm down, dude. Well, we believe we have put things under control here, and… that’s all we could do.
Xi Men: Thanks a lot, man.
Lei: No problem.
Xi Men: Here’s a thing. When I was at the airport, Xiao You felt that someone was taking her pictures, though I do not spot anyone suspicious. But assuming if someone really stalked and spots us in the airport, then perhaps there may be photos releasing about me going for a trip with Xiao You and Emily. Could be from the same daily that releases this article.
Lei: Hmmm. I’ll take note of it. If there is, I’ll let you know. But if you ask me… there is likelihood that the photos will not be published.
Xi Men: Why did you say so?
Lei: Because we told them we are not happy with how they wrote the article. I mean, clearly, they can see that we are unhappy about this article so if they publish those photos tomorrow or something, they will anger us more, right? Anyone at their right side of mind would hold back from doing that. We are the influential F4, you know?
Xi Men: (smirked) Yeah… right.
Lei: Anyway, don’t worry too much now. Just enjoy your trip with ease, okay?
Xi Men: I’ll try.
Lei: Well, there is nothing you can do now until you come back, so why not just enjoy your week in Toronto?
Xi Men: (smirked) Seriously, I’ll try.
Lei: (small laugh) Alright.
Xi Men: Did you get any calls from the media to comment about this matter? Or Ah Si, or Mei Zhuo could have encounter that?
Lei: Calls, nope. But they did ask us to comment when we were at your office’s lobby, you know, when we tell them you are out of the country.
Xi Men: Oh.
Lei: Umm… well…
Xi Men: Hmmm?
Lei: I guess… there is one person out there that has a high chance of getting calls from the media.
Xi Men: One person? Who?
Lei: Amanda Lee.
Xi Men: (eyes brightened up) Amanda?
Lei: That’s what I think since they have mentioned her in the article. They could have called her and also ask for her comments and sort, and who knows what she could have said to them. But… if you wanna know, you gotta call her. And no, I am not going to do that for you.
Xi Men hangs up the call with Lei.
He looked at the smartphone in his hand.
He couldn’t thank his buddies enough for what they have done for him while he is away. A small smile is formed on his face.
F4 forever, man.
He then sighed.
It is just a photograph, and also a writer’s great way of writing a statement… had lead to things like this…
And Lei is probably right.
The press might have called Amanda since she is also dragged into the matter.
The one woman that was once engaged to him and he tried and fought so hard to break the engagement and ties off from her to be with Xiao You… and finally, someone who, right now, no longer has relation with him… other than business matter since his company is still cooperating with Hex Corporation.
He probably needs to call Amanda and ask her if she received calls from the media… and what she could have said to them if they did.
He needs to do what he needs to do.
He rose to his feet, turned around and opened the door behind him.
He protrudes his head into the living room to find Xiao You is talking to Mrs. Yang.
Emily is nowhere in sight; she has probably gone to her room.
“Sorry for interruption,” he said.
Both Xiao You and Mrs. Yang turned their heads and looked at Xi Men.
“Xiao You,” he said, looking at her.
“Yes, Xi Men?” Xiao You replied.
“Can I call Amanda?”
Amanda: (half asleep voice) Hello.
Xi Men: Hi.
Amanda: (smiled briefly) Hi.
Xi Men: I’m sorry for calling this late. (*noon in Toronto, midnight in Taipei)
Amanda: You know it’s late, huh?
Xi Men: Yeah, I know. I could only call now… so…
Amanda: It is okay.
Xi Men: Are you sleeping? Your voice sounds like one…
Amanda: (small laugh escapes her mouth) Yes, actually, I am. Got woken up by your call.
Xi Men: Oh, I am sorry for waking you up. But… is it okay for me to talk to you now?
Amanda: Hmm… aren’t we talking now?
Xi Men: (smirked) I mean…
Amanda: (interrupt) I know. I don’t think I should say no after you woke me up from sleep.
Xi Men: Umm… sorry and… thanks.
Amanda: Are you overseas now?
Xi Men: Yes, I am. (lowered his head down, waiting to start)
Amanda: Oh. Just to clarify. Because I can heard the different tone from your call.
Xi Men: (smiled) Umm, yeah…
Amanda: Then this call must be expensive.
Xi Men: It is okay. (took a deep breath) Umm… I call to ask…
Amanda: The article on the newspaper, right? I don’t think there will be any other reason for you to call me, since I didn’t owe you anything.
Xi Men: (lowered his head down to look at the floor) I supposed you already know what the article is all about.
Amanda: I do. The topic says Mrs. Dao Ming has been admitted into the hospital but the content wasn’t exactly focusing on it. I will still find out about the content if I didn’t read it on my own.
Xi Men: (swallowed a lump in his throat) Did you get calls from the press?
Amanda: Yes. That is why I said I will still know if I didn’t read the news. Because they called and asked me.
Xi Men: A lot of them call you?
Xi Men: What did they ask you about?
Amanda: They want my comment.
Xi Men: Then, what did you tell them? (lifted his head back up)
Amanda: Does it really matter, Xi Men?
Xi Men: (quiet for a while) At least I know what to say when I am going to face them. At least I know what I am supposed to say…
Xi Men still holds the phone to his ear, waiting for her to respond.
Yes, the roaming charges are going to be high, but… it’s not like he can’t pay for it.
The extra couple of dollars doesn’t bother him.
But the conversation will.
Amanda: I didn’t say anything to them.
Xi Men: (eyes strayed) Didn’t say anything?
Amanda: Yes. I asked them to ask you.
A part of Xi Men is relieved, that at least Amanda didn’t become mean and say something she shouldn’t have to the media.
Even though she could have lied to him since it is just over a phone call, but from her voice, he knew she didn’t lie.
Xi Men: I see. Okay… okay.
Amanda: So when are you planning to face them and solve this?
Xi Men: I will still be overseas for a week, so it will be next week.
Amanda: I see.
Xi Men: I am sorry about how the press had put these things together and dragged you in.
Amanda: I think this case impacts you and Xiao You more.
Xi Men: Unfortunately, it did. And it had to happen when I am not around in Taipei.
Amanda: Then how did you found out about the news?
Xi Men: Newspapers is one of the items that the full flight services provide.
Amanda: Oh. So you read the newspaper when you are flying.
Xi Men: Yes.
Xi Men: Umm… thank you.
Amanda: I didn’t exactly helped you, Xi Men. I just didn’t respond anything to the press.
Xi Men: That is already the thing I need to thank you for.
Amanda: (smirked) No problem.
Xi Men: Umm… I guess it is late now and…
Amanda: (interrupt) Xi Men, can I ask for a favor from you?
Xi Men: Favor?
Xi Men: Umm… it will depend on what type of favor you asked from me.
Amanda: I know it must be because of me being pushy back then, which is why you dare not agree. But this is something that I know you can do. And I won’t ask too much. I don’t think it will make Xiao You unhappy either.
Xi Men: (smiled briefly) Well, you probably know I indeed didn’t want to make Xiao You unhappy, which is one of the reasons, but the most important is, I do not want to promise someone to do something that I cannot do, or beyond what I can do.
Amanda: (smirked) I know you can do this.
Xi Men lifted his eyes, and unsure what to respond.
Amanda: Xi Men, when the press called me up and flooded my phone with calls, they asked me to comment about my cancelled engagement and wedding to you, and asked if it is related to Xiao You; all I did was telling them we do have reasons why the engagement is cancelled, and right now I do not have any connection to you, so I am not going to comment about someone else that you are probably seeing because this is not my matter and this is your issue that they should go and ask from you. Not me.
Xi Men holds the phone to his ear as he listens to her.
Amanda: I have pushed the responsibility of dealing with this issue to you when I refused to say anything to the press. This is indeed your issue and not mine; so I do not see a reason why I need to give my comment about it just because someone wrote that article and basically dragged me in as I was engaged to you.
Xi Men swallowed a lump in his throat.
Amanda: I know you will address this issue and come clean with the press about Xiao You. I know you will protect Xiao You from all means. All of us know the real story behind you and Xiao You, but not the media. I could have said something, but I decided not to because I didn’t want to embroil myself into your situation. And I know the more I said, the more they will ask.
Xi Men: (nodded) I understand.
Amanda: Since I have done my part in not responding to this matter and pushes the responsibility to the rightful owner, all I am asking from you is that, on top of you protecting Xiao You, I want you to protect me when you face the media.
Xi Men’s eyes widened when he heard that.
Amanda: I didn’t tell them the reasons why our engagement got called off. So it is up to you if you want to tell them, which to me, is no big deal; since it has happened and it is already passed. And when you address your issues and if there is a need to mention about me, please do it with care and ensure you do not drag me in unnecessarily or into ugly situations. I just want you to take full responsibility on your personal issues and whatever you have caused and messed up with.
Xi Men’s eyes strayed to the left for a while, seemingly thinking and digesting what she had said.
Amanda: So yes; that is the favor that I asked from you; not to drag me in into this matter and put me into ugly situations because this is your issues, not mine. I hope it isn’t that tough for you.
Xi Men: (lowered his head and smiled briefly) Amanda, I won’t drag you in unnecessarily.
Amanda: That is all I want to know, but don’t tell me that here. Do that when you face the press.
Xi Men: (a small laughed escaped his mouth) Sure, sure…
Amanda: That is what you said.
Xi Men: Will do.
Xi Men smiled.
Amanda: Well… I guess, I need to continue my sleep now.
Xi Men: (instantly remembers it is midnight at the other side) Oh, alright. Sure… umm… thanks again, Amanda. Sorry for the trouble. And sorry for waking you up.
Amanda: No worries. Best wishes and good luck in dealing with the press.
Xi Men: Thanks.
Xi Men: Goodbye, and goodnight.
Xi Men lowered his smartphone down and then pressed the hang up button.
He remained sitting at the concrete steps as his eyes looked out to the houses across the street, when he is actually deep in his thought.
CLACK. (door open)
That wakes him up from his reverie and he turned his head and looked at Xiao You looking at him from the opened door.
“Hi honey,” he smirked.
Xiao You smiled as she steps out from the house, “Done with calls?” she closes the door behind her.
Xi Men looked at the smartphone in his hand, “Yeah, done…”
“I didn’t hear you mumbling outside the door… so I guess you’re done, which is why I decided to come and see you,” she said, sitting down next to Xi Men on the concrete step.
He smiled. “I thought you are talking to your mom?”
“She has gone to talk to Emily,” Xiao You said. “She misses her granddaughter, you know,”
“Oh,” Xi Men said.
“So, have you called Amanda?”
Xi Men nodded.
“And I think that’s very polite of you to ask me if you can call Amanda when you know you don’t have to ask me to do that,” Xiao You said.
He extends his hand and holds her hand in his. “Because I didn’t want to do something that will make you unhappy. And this is Amanda that I am calling, so I really want your consent about this and also your utmost trust on me,”
Xiao You smiled. “Hmmm…you are saying; you think I don’t trust you?”
“I don’t mean like that,” he holds her hand tighter, afraid she is going to remove her hand from his grip. “I know how this article has turned out… and I am so afraid you won’t trust me as much as I thought you would, like how you have reacted in the flight. I am so terrified…”
“You sounded as though what I reacted is not right,”
“No, no, no, I don’t mean that,” his hand immediately reached forward and circles around her waist. “I…” he didn’t know what to say now so that she wouldn’t feel offended. “Maybe I shouldn’t talk so I wouldn’t have said something that will make you unhappy,” he lowered his head and sighed.
She smiled as she leaned her head over to Xi Men’s shoulder. “Thank you,”
He wondered. “For?”
“For taking care of my feelings and respecting me,” she smiled.
He smiled upon hearing that. He turned slightly to her direction and the other hand reached forward, forming an embrace and he hugs her tight. “You are the only one I care…” he murmured.
“Xi Men, I trust you,” Xiao You said. “Wholeheartedly,”
“Yes, unless you did something that breaks my heart and trust,”
He smiled and he hugs her tighter. “I love you so much,”
“I love you back,”
A small laugh escapes his mouth when he heard that one different word that she had uttered, as opposed to what she would have said in return (*she said BACK instead of TOO).
And he kissed her temple. “I am so sorry for everything,”
“Apology accepted,” she smiled.
He smiled too.
“Xi Men, can I ask you something…?”
“Sure,” he said.
“We’ve been going out back then, even before you knew Emily is your daughter and also when we go out as friends; which, at that time, you were engaged to Amanda. How come the media didn’t write anything at that time? Why strangely, now?” Xiao You asked.
Xi Men smiled. “Medias don’t follow businessmen around unlike the famous celebrities because they have more gossips and articles to write about celebrities than businessmen, which is why we were undetected… and even if they found me with you when I was engaged to Amanda, I wouldn’t mind and I wouldn’t care. I will say you are my friend that came to visit Taipei. I can definitely meet up with friends,” he said, and then he took a deep breath. “This time, they found us because of San Chai’s admission into the hospital for her false labor. We weren’t the main people they wanted to cover; it was Ah Si and San Chai. But then, it is because we happened to be there… along with the issue of how the engagement between me and Amanda ended, they are definitely interested with this now since they saw you, which is not Amanda, walking next to me,”
“Oh,” Xiao You said. “So that is why no media writes about us prior to this…”
“Yes, because nobody found out about us, and nobody detects us,”
“So if it is not because of San Chai… we will not be found out still?” Xiao You asked.
“Most likely,” Xi Men said. “But revelation about you and Emily will happen sooner or later,” he smiled as he patted her hand. “I want to tell everyone that you are not my friend. You are my loved one,” he puts a hand around her shoulder and hugs her, “And what they wrote is totally unacceptable and not fair for you. They need to know our story,”