Xi Men looked at the gloves that wraps fittingly around Xiao You’s hand and fingers.
“Thank you,” Xiao You lifted her head up and said, caught him looking at her. “This is a very nice pair of gloves,”
“Oh,” he immediately said since she had lifted her head up to look at him. “No problem,” he smiled. “I hope you love it,”
“Oh, I do,” she said. “It is very soft and warm…”
“I think this is the most expensive gloves I’ve ever had…” she said.
“Hmmm… okay,” he said.
She smiled faintly as they both walked down the footpath.
He is such a nice guy. Or nice boyfriend.
She didn’t know which one will depict Xi Men more accurately.
She had hung all her jackets in the wardrobe provided in the suite and it is visibly seen by Xi Men, but she didn’t expect he had actually pay attention to those jackets of hers and using it as a deciding factor to buy a pair of black gloves for her to wear and match with any jackets she may wore.
None of her ex-boyfriends had done this before so it really took her by surprise.
They had passed by the famous retail stores completely and they are now at the stretch of greens on the way heading towards Place de la Concorde.
It is indeed a nice stroll.
Xi Men casually turned his head to look at Xiao You walking next to him.
Seeing they didn’t talk to each other, he decided to ask just anything, to start a conversation.
“Umm… how are your parents?” Xi Men asked.
She turned to look at him. “Oh. They are good,” Xiao You said.
“Is your dad retired?” Xi Men asked.
“No, my dad is still working. He is a General Manager in a production company,”
“Oh,” Xi Men said. “And your mother?”
“She is a housewife,” she said.
“Hmmm… how about your parents?” Xiao You asked.
“They are good. My dad is currently based in Manhattan,” Xi Men said.
“Manhattan?” Xiao You asked.
“Yeah, he opened an office of Xi Men Corporation in Manhattan. Businesses picked up over there so he moved over to manage it. That was when I got promoted to be a CEO for the Taiwan’s office,”
“Oh, that is good,” she smiled. “And what about your mother?”
“She is running an art center,” he smiled.
“Art center? Your mom loves hosting artistic items?”
He shook. “Not in the kind of hosting artistic items but a drawing center. She loves drawing, so I opened an art center for her. So she doesn’t have to spend all the time at home,”
“Oh…” she replied. “In Taipei?”
“I see,” she smiled.
What is this?
What the hell is wrong?
She couldn’t stop talking about Paris, but when it comes to personal matter, she is so quiet.
Is there something about her life that she… can’t talk about?
Come to think of it, she didn’t really talk much about her life. And even when asked about her boyfriends, she only talked about them briefly.
“Grand Palais!” Xiao You suddenly exclaimed. (*Great Palace)
That causes Xi Men to turn his head and looked at her, and realized she is pointing at a nice and large building on the right.
“Grand what?” he asked.
“Grand Palais,” she said. “And that is Petit Palais,” she pointed at the building opposite to the Grand Palais, (*Petit Palais = Small Palace)
“I thought you said we are going to Place de la Concorde?” he asked.
“Place de la Concorde should be in front… but I didn’t know these two palaces are along the way,” she said. “And this is not part of my plan,”
“Umm… so… are we going in?” he asked.
“Umm, I didn’t plan so… but we can go and take photos, right? I mean, the building; the exterior,”
“Okay,” he said. “Since we are here, let’s go then,”
And he followed her as she walked to Grand Palais.
And it had to happen like that.
When he is in deep thought, wondering how to start a conversation with her, something comes up like stumbling at this Grand Palais…
After a brief walk in front of both palaces and took some photographs, both of them continued walking, heading to the direction of Place de la Concorde.
It is only day 2.
Are they really going to be like this with each other until the day the week ends?
Need to talk about something. Anything. Whatever.
Nothing is in view yet, right?
He looked around.
Okay… this is a good chance to start a conversation… just simply any topic.
He turned to look at Xiao You, and then he slowly reached forward to grab her hand.
It is nothing extraordinary for her that he holds her hand.
“So… Xiao You…”
“AH! Wallace Fountain!” she suddenly exclaimed, retracts her hand from his’ and dashes forward.
URGH. What again…
And he stopped walking.
With him halting his steps, he suddenly felt discomfort on his toes, and he even tilts his head and frowned in confusion over it; wondering what is that.
“Xi Men! This is Wallace Fountain!” she happily said as she stood next to a small dark green-colored iron sculpture where water can be seen flowing down at the inside of the sculpture. “I am so happy I found this!” Xiao You said, snapping him out of the thought.
He then turned his gaze to look at her. “Happy? You mean you are looking for this?” he pointed at the sculpture.
“You can say like that. I have read about this Wallace Fountain… and I don’t know where to find this since it was stated that this is scattered all over Paris… and I am so glad I found this now!” she said.
“Hmm… I have seen it numerous times in my previous visits. But what’s so special about it that you are actually looking for it?” he asked.
“It is a water fountain,” she said.
“I know. You’ve been saying it is a fountain and there’s water coming out from the top,” he pointed.
“It is drinking water. It is safe to drink!” she said.
His eyes brightened slightly. “Really? You mean I can drink the water from here, just like this?”
“Yes!” she lifted the bottle in her hand up and looked at it, and still has half of the orange juice left. “Umm…”
Judging from her body language, it seems that she wants to drink, or at least try to taste the water from the fountain but she needs a bottle to fill the water. And she found out that the bottle in her hand is not empty; with about half a bottle of orange juice still.
He looked at the bottle in his hand instead.
He then looked at Xiao You. “Do you want to drink that?” he pointed at the Wallace Fountain.
“Yes, I would love to give it a try but… well, it is okay… we can try to find another one on our way or another day…” she walked, wanting to continue the journey.
“Don’t worry. Give me a moment,” he said, stopping her on her track.
She wondered what he meant.
He lifted the bottle of orange juice in his hand up which still have a quarter left. He opened the cover and starts downing the remaining orange juice in his bottle.
Her eyes widened at the sight of it. “Xi Men, no… you don’t have to do that. I am okay…”
He finished the orange juice and with a smile, he handed the empty bottle to her. “I have finished my orange juice. You can have the bottle. I hope you didn’t mind that my lips had touched the brim though,”
She looked at him, completely speechless to see that he empties his drink just to give her the bottle.
“If you mind, I can rinse it first though…” he heads towards the fountain.
“Oh, let me…” Xiao You said, extending her hands out for the bottle. “Let me do it instead,”
He smiled as she took the bottle from him. “Alright,”
She holds the bottle, and grips it with both of her hands for a while on her chest.
She truly appreciates what he is doing for her.
Xi Men tilts his head as he looked at her. “Umm… Xiao You?”
With the calling, Xiao You’s gaze went to him and she smiled. “Thank you,”
Gosh. Her smile is really the sweetest thing on earth.
He quickly snaps himself out of it. “No problem. Now, you can get the water,” he smiled.
With the smile still on her face, she turned around and then heads to the water fountain. After briefly rinses the bottle since it was used for orange juice, she fills a quarter of the bottle with the water from the fountain.
She then takes a gulp.
“How was it?” he asked.
“Taste just like water,” she said.
He laughed at that respond. It is water! Of course it tastes just like water!
“Just kidding with ya,” she smiled. “It is very refreshing. I like it,” she then handed it to Xi Men, “You can give it a try,”
“Directly from the water bottle?” he asked, though he doesn’t mind her lips had touched the brim, but he didn’t know how she will feel if he drinks from it.
“Yes. No worries, it is fine with me,” she smiled, as though she understood what he is thinking.
“Alright…” and he took the bottle from her hand, and he took a gulp.
He tilts his head.
“How was it?” she asked him.
“You are right. It is refreshing,” he said.
She smiled, “I am going to fill this up with water… so we may have some water to drink along the way…”
He smiled. “And someone said it is a hassle to hold some shopping items and walked around Paris, but it didn’t seem like a hassle to hold a water bottle?”
“Water is a necessity. I didn’t expect this to happen either. And well, we needed the water for the day… more than shopping items,” she smirked. “And this size of bottle… it can fit into my handbag!”
He remained smiling. “Alright. Up to you. But didn’t you say this water fountain is everywhere?”
“Problem is, I don’t know where they are located at,” she said, as she puts the bottle at the fountain and collects the drinking water.
“Hmmm. True. So, how do you find out about this fountain?” he asked.
“I actually stumbled onto an article about Wallace fountain as I was researching about Paris,” Xiao You said. “These water fountains are named after the person who funded the construction of this. From what I read, these drinking water fountains were built to help the poor,”
“Help the poor?” he asked.
“Yes. Because back then, the price of water goes up and the poor has to pay to get water. So he built this at some strategic locations to help them. And this is considered as one of the icons of Paris, but due to development in Paris, some of the Wallace fountains have been removed. But they still keep some today. And we get to see one of them! I am so happy,” she said, as she then turned to look at the bottle, to see that the water is about to fill to the brim.
“That is a nice description about the fountain. I have always thought it was just a sculpture. I didn’t know it is a free drinking water and it has a history behind it,” he said.
“Well, you know right now,” she smiled as she puts the cover on the bottle and then twists it close.
As said, she kept the bottle of water into her handbag, and remained holding onto her bottle of orange juice.
After zipping up her handbag, she lifted her head and looked at the public square in front of her.
She looked at its surroundings and she is sure it is the place since she had seen a lot of photos of this from her research.
“We’ve reached. That is Place de la Concorde,” she pointed at the square right in front of Wallace Fountain.
Xi Men turned to look at the place she pointed. “Ah, so this is Place de la Concorde,” he said. “I’ve seen this before with my chauffeur. I didn’t know its name,”
Xiao You hooked her hand into Xi Men’s arm, “Can you see the big fountain over there?”
“Yeah… umm… I hope you are not telling me to drink from the fountain too?”
She laughed. “No. Of course not. I just want to say that fountain is called ‘The Fountain of River Commerce and Navigation’,”
“That’s a pretty long name. I can’t exactly remember,”
“It is okay. And that… is Obelisk Luxor,” she pointed at the obelisk at the center of the place. “Umm… I don’t know the story. Or rather… I forgot,”
He laughed. “It is okay. You are human. I didn’t expect you to remember everything anyway,”
She smiled. “Ah, this place is nice. Let’s take photographs. I want to take the fountain,”
“Take your time but after this we’ll go for some food. I’m starving,” Xi Men said.
“Food…?” she raised her hand up to look at her wristwatch. “Ah, it is 2.30pm already!”
He smiled. “Glad you ‘know’,”
She smiled and then digs for her smartphone from her handbag.
While looking at her enjoying the views, the discomfort on his toes is beginning to annoy him.
Xi Men looked at the wrapped baguette in his hand.
“Why aren’t you eating?”
Xi Men turned his head to look at Xiao You who is sitting next to him. “Umm, I didn’t plan to actually eat bread for lunch,” he replied.
“The correct term should be sandwich. Inside the baguette, it has ham and cheese and salad and…”
“I know… I know,” he said, returned his gaze to the baguette and he is slowly opening the wrapper that wrapped around it. “You are going to start advertising this soon if I don’t stop you,”
Xiao You glared at him, “HMPH,”
He chuckled and Xiao You took a bite of her baguette, or sandwich.
“Are you sure we are supposed to eat this for lunch?” he asked, “And not for breakfast?”
“This is good for breakfast… and… and I don’t know about lunch,”
He turned his head to look at Xiao You, “You don’t know? Really?”
She laughed. “Yes, I really don’t know,”
“I thought you really knew, because you just head into the boulangerie and buy them,” Xi Men said.
“Actually, I saw a few people buying them so I decided to go in and buy as well,” she remained laughing at herself.
He looked at her in disbelief before he lets out a small laugh, “And I thought you said you are not an impulsive buyer,”
“I am not an impulsive buyer. Trust me. After all, we needed food so I think sandwich is a good one since it is 3pm now and if we took too much food, we can’t have dinner later,” she said.
“Ah, giving me all sorts of excuses now, huh?”
“I am not, okay?” she defended.
“Okay,” he smiled. “I have fun teasing you,”
He laughed again.
She then smiled faintly after his laughter fades. “There are so many items to choose in the boulangerie… but I choose this. I really would love to try them all,”
“You have few days to try,” he said, taking a bite of his baguette.
“Yeah… I know. But I’ll see,” she said, taking another bite. “I’ll be fat if I eat so much,”
Xi Men laughed and then he coughed as he almost got choked by his sandwich.
“Ah, are you alright?” she asked. “Do you want some water…?”
He coughed a bit more and then he smiled, giving her an OK sign with his hand.
“Sure?” she asked.
After clearing his throat, “Yeah, I am fine,” he coughed again.
She then resumed eating.
Xi Men also took another bite on his sandwich, “This tastes pretty good,”
She smiled. “I agree,”
He smiled, but the unpleasant sensation from his feet remained to annoy him.
He then swallowed a lump in his throat. “So…”
She turned to look at him as she munches.
“Do you have any idea where are we?” Xi Men asked, looking around as many people are passing by in front of their garden bench. “This place looked like some park…”
“Huh? This is really a park?” he asked as he looked at her.
“Yes. Jardin des Tuileries,” she replied. (*Tuileries Garden)
“Jardin des Tuileries? This is Jardin des Tuileries?” he asked.
“Yeah. Hmmm… you knew,” she said. “Judging at the way you say it,”
“Yeah. I know this place. Heard a lot about it. Isn’t Jardin des Tuileries next to Musée du Louvre?” he asked.
“Yes. We are at this end of park where we are next to Place de la Concorde. The other side of this park is Musée du Louvre,” she said.
“Ahhh, I see,” he said. “So we are really having lunch in a park…”
“Yes. A lot of people came here to sit, chat and relax. You can actually sit on the grass like many people do… but I didn’t feel like doing that. So a garden bench it is,” she said.
He smiled as he took another bite on his sandwich.
*Takes a bite on the sandwich.
*Munch. Munch. Munch.
*Takes another bite again.
It feels awkward to sit like this and not talking to each other.
“Hmmm?” she turned to look at him taking another bite on his sandwich.
He quiets for a while.
Thinking he isn’t going to talk, she returned her gaze to her sandwich and takes a bite too.
“Since you left Taipei 10 years ago…” he said.
Xiao You’s munching speed slows down.
“As far as I know, other than the time you showed me the billboard, you didn’t come back to Taipei even once…” he turned to look at her. “Am I right?”
Xiao You retained the slow munching speed and then she nods.
“Why didn’t you make a visit to Taipei? Don’t you miss Taipei at all?” he asked.
She smirked and she then looked at the sandwich in her hand. “I was just a student. I don’t have the money to travel,”
“Then…” he blinked numerous times, “Then what about after you have graduated? Or… the recent years? You are working now and that means you are earning. But why you didn’t come for a visit?” he asked. “Aren’t you curious about what is going on with Taiwan?”
“I know everything about Taiwan from the things I do everyday,” she said, taking another bite of her sandwich. “So a visit for it is not really required,”
“But still, you can come back and maybe see how much we; your friends had changed,”
“San Chai will update me. I don’t need to go back just for it,”
He looked at her.
She is only focusing on her sandwich.
“So, you are saying, you have no intention whatsoever to come back to Taiwan even just for a short visit…”
She shook. “No. I have no reason to go back to Taiwan,”
Although it is true that there really is no reason for Xiao You to go to Taiwan, somehow he felt disappointed with her answer.
“Why?” she lifted her head up and looked at him. “You want to see me in Taiwan?”
Xi Men’s eyes brightened up by slight upon hearing that question.
He didn’t expect to have the conversation or topic to turn around and hits it back at him like this.
He gradually turned to look at Xiao You, “If you come to Taiwan and want to meet all of us, I wouldn’t mind to join everyone to meet you,”
She smirked, before she returned her gaze to the sandwich. She lifted the sandwich and then goes for a bite.
Xi Men remained looking at Xiao You.
‘Although I said I will join everyone to meet you if you really go back to Taipei for a visit… but… considering this one week didn’t happen today, will I actually meet you?’ he asked himself.
‘I hadn’t kept in touch with you for 10 years… and I am only contacting you two months ago because of this one week that I still owe you… so will I actually still meet you if I didn’t owe you anything?’
‘I don’t know.’