“But I have wondered… what if I had never been involved in this field in the first place,” Xi Men said.
“You mean, not becoming a playboy?” Xiao You asked.
He smirked and then he nodded.
“So… what did you feel about that?” she asked.
He took a deep breath and lifted his head slightly.
“Merely impossible,” he said. “Many times… I felt that I wish I can undo this part of my life, but I guess… if there is really a chance to undo that… I will still end up taking this path. I will still be a playboy. I have all the reasons in the world to become a playboy,”
“All the reasons in the world? I don’t understand,”
He turned and looked at her with a small smile on his face, “In short, I need to be raised in a happy family where my parents are truly in love with each other,”
He then straightened his head, looking away. “I always thought my father is a playboy by nature, so he left my mother at home while he goes out with other women. So, I assumed I inherited his gene to be a playboy myself,” Xi Men said. “And I have always said that too. I said I am Xi Men. So I am a playboy. Because that’s in my blood,”
Xiao You looked at Xi Men.
“But I was wrong,” Xi Men said. “I found out my mother has never loved my dad, but my dad loves her so much… but because his love is unrequited, he went out to look for someone who would appreciate his presence and wants to be with him. He is apparently a playboy by choice,”
“I am sorry to hear about that,” she said.
Xi Men shook lightly, “He forced my mother to marry him because he loves her… and he had actually hoped my mother will slowly love him back, but… it didn’t happen. She ended up hated him even more,”
She could only look at Xi Men.
He took a deep breath. “So, I was born into a broken family. Rich, but broken. Famous, but broken,” he solemnly said.
Xiao You inadvertently extends her hand and rubbed Xi Men’s arm.
“My dad was never home. My elder brother ran away because he couldn’t take it and didn’t want to be a part of this family anymore. So, in this ‘home’, it is only me and my mother. So, as you can see. It is not a harmonious family. I followed my dad’s footstep to become a playboy, where I truly believe it is in my blood,” he said.
Her gaze went down.
“After I found out he looked for a mistress because of my mom… I realized there is no playboy gene in my blood. I realized I have made my life like this. I realized I have picked this path to be a playboy,”
Her focus returned to his face.
“I realized my dad is capable of loving someone truthfully. If my mom had returned his love and loves him like how he loves her, my family will remained intact. I will grow up in a perfect family where everyone respects each other, and I will be taught to love woman the way they deserved to be love. And I will not be like this today,” he said, turning his head to look at Xiao You. “I am sure my dad will teach me about respecting woman, and I will look up to him like how he loves and respects my mother. I know I will grow up looking at him loving my mom sincerely and I will definitely follow his footstep to treat a woman the same way he did. But that is not the case. He left home because of my mom, and he lets me blame him for neglecting my mom,”
She could feel his sadness.
“So, I became a playboy because of my background. Because of my family,” he took a deep breath. “I wanted to undo this part of my life: to stop treating women like they have an expiry date and to start respecting them. But I look at myself… I originated from a broken family which made me like this. I will still be like this no matter what. So, the only way for me NOT to be a playboy at the first place would have been my family. They need to start out right before I can do the right thing,”
She rubbed his arm again.
“Which is not possible,” he adds. “Not possible,”
She looked at him.
“Even if I can undo this, I know… I will still walk down the same path no matter how many times I undo it. It is probably a life that I know I can enjoy and feels pleasure in midst of all my family drama,”
She gently squeezed his arm.
“Despite I am always surrounded by pretty women and I have no problems finding one to spend a night with… I have always been lonely inside,” Xi Men said. “That is one thing that I don’t get. So I envy Ah Si, Lei and Mei Zhuo. They have them all,”
“But I have no problems with that. Since young, I have trained myself not to get involved emotionally; which means when I break up after a week of relationship, I won’t feel bad, sad, depressed, or even traumatized over a relationship,” he said.
She pressed her lips together.
“I guess you understand now with what I mean. I became a playboy because of things that had happened around me. It begins from home. No. It is house; because I have no ‘home’,” he said, turning his head to look at her.
“I understand…” she nodded. “But, perhaps, if you knew the situation about your parents way earlier… you might not choose the path to become a playboy,”
He smirked, and then lifted his head up slightly and looked far away to nothing in particular. “Maybe. I don’t know. But, doesn’t matter if I was told earlier or later, it still doesn’t change the fact that my family is broken, right?”
She smiled faintly.
He then returned his gaze to look at her, with a small smile on his face, “You know… I shouldn’t have told you those,”
“It doesn’t mean a thing to you,” he said.
“But it meant everything to you,”
“But it still doesn’t have anything to do with you,” he said.
“Oh,” she said, looking at him.
He smiled faintly. “Right now, you know the reasons why and how I have involved in the field. So… whatever reasons you have to be involved into the field… I hope it is reasonable enough,” he said.
She just smiled faintly.
He patted her hand that is on his arm.
“Oh by the way,” Xi Men suddenly said.
“I have just told you that my elder brother ran away from home, right?”
“Yeah, you did. What about it?” she asked.
“I know what you did with the billboard after I told you about it. But don’t you do the same about my brother. Please don’t go all around searching for him. I don’t want to see my brother,”
She chuckled. “Alright, but why don’t you want to see him?”
“He left home more than 15 years ago,” Xi Men said. “It was his choice that he didn’t want to be a part of Xi Men. If he is happy that way, I’ll leave him as he is. So there is no need to search for him, and meeting each other would remind both of us about how sad our family is,”
“So, please. Don’t go and look for him,” he looked at her.
“I won’t. I promise you,”
He smiled and nodded. “Thank you,”
She also smiled. After taking a deep breath, “Xi Men,” she called.
“Hmmm?” he looked at her.
“I understand now; what makes you choose to be a playboy and using that mask to pretend that life is great for you when you go back home to a sad family,”
He just smirked faintly, and then straightened his head.
“While we cannot go back and change the past, we can change what lies ahead,” she said.
His smirk fades.
“Xi Men, I want you to know that you are not a rotten man,” she gripped his arm.
He lifted his head and turned to the right to look at her again.
“You are one of the nicest guys I have met in my life. And because of you, I have become stronger and more confident,”
He smiled faintly.
“To be really honest…” she uttered.
He remained looking at her.
“You only have to respect one woman in your life, and I am not talking about your mother,” she smiled.
He doesn’t understand. “One woman?”
She nodded. “One day, you will meet that someone that you want to spend the rest of your life with. And at that time, you will respect her so much. And those ‘respect’ will come out from your heart,” she eventually extends her hand and poked his chest, representing the ‘heart’.
He smiled. “Really?”
“Well, I think so,” she said.
He laughed, and after his laughter dies down to form a smirk on his face, he turned his head to look straight and then exhaled a deep breath.
“What’s with the deep breath?” she asked.
“According to what you said, I may find someone I want to spend the rest of my life with. But you wouldn’t know if she wants to be with me… because of my past,” he said, taking a deep breath, feeling devastated with that part of his life.
“I am sure the right one for you will accept your past,” she said. “She will look beyond all those and accept you for who you are right now,”
He smiled briefly as he entertained the thought. “I don’t think any girls will want to be with someone like me… unless it is my fame and riches they are after,”
Xiao You also smiled briefly, “When you meet her… you will know,”
He turned to look at her. “What is that supposed to mean?”
Xiao You smiled, “Whether she wants to be with you because of fame and riches, or she wants to be with you because of you. You just knew,”
She nodded. “And if she is the right one for you, your heart will always point to her,”
He smiled. “Do you really think this person exists?”
“I believe there is someone for everyone. Whether you will meet this person or not… that’s a different story,” she said.
A small laugh escaped from Xi Men’s mouth.
She smiled, and then she continued. “If they are meant to be together, fate will bring them together; no matter where they are in the world, no matter when it is,”
He smiled again. “I hope you are right,”
She smiled as she rested her head on his shoulder while her hands are gripping onto his arm. “I wish you luck, Xi Men. I hope that you will meet her one day,”
He smiled faintly, “I hope you will meet yours too,”
“Me? I thought I’ve just told you I’ve given up,”
“I hope you’ll rethink your decision. It will be a waste to see someone with such a perfect package would give up on finding a significant other,” he said.
She smiled. “You’d think I have a perfect package, doesn’t mean everyone thinks the same,”
“Whoever doesn’t think that must have been blind,”
He then turned to look at her, making her lifted her head up and looked back at him, “Regarding no one thinks you have a perfect package… I hope you are not talking about your ex…”
“My ex? Which one?”
“Whichever?” he said.
“Umm… what about them?”
“I hope none of them say you lacked something…?”
“Well, not everyone is going to be satisfied with who I am. So, I do receive ‘complains’ once in a while. But I learned something about myself after each break-up… so I am going to say, I am better each and every time,”
“Oh,” he replied.
“Immature,” he said.
“I said, whoever complains about you are immature. People are not perfect. He cannot expect people to be perfect. I am pretty sure the same person that said you lacked something is lacked of something too,” he said.
He laughed. “Right, he lacks maturity,”
She laughed as well.
“You are beautiful inside and out, just the way you are,” Xi Men said, looking at Xiao You.
Xiao You smiled, “Thank you,”
He smiled, lowering his head slightly.
He then took a deep breath. “Thank you,” he patted her hand on his arm, before he gripped it.
“Thank you? For?” she asked, looking at him.
“You made me feel a lot better,”
“Letting me know that I am one of the nicest men you have ever met,”
She laughed. “Yes, you are. Probably the second nicest men I knew,”
“Oh? Who is the nicest guy then?”
“My invincible dad. First place unchallenged forever and ever,” she said proudly.
They laughed together.
She smiled. “Anyway, I am glad I made you feel better,”
“Thank you again,” he said, looking at her.
“You are welcome,” she smiled, looking back at him.
He smiled, caressing her hand in his grip.
“And so…” she said.
“We are already into day 4 in Paris,”
“So… how do you feel about the trip?”
“Hectic. Tiring. Blistered. Sunburned,”
She laughed. “I don’t mean that!”
“I know. I’m just kidding with you,” he smiled.
Her laughter slowly fades to a smile.
“It is very interesting,” he smiled.
“What’s with the ‘hmm’?”
“Nah, I was expecting to hear something else,”
“Such as?” he asked.
“Just something other than the word ‘interesting’,” she said.
“Well, you have said before, you came to Paris for a couple of times, but you have only spent roughly 3 to 4 days in Paris. Tomorrow will be our 5th day in Paris. So… what do you feel about that?” she asked.
“AH! Puh-leaze!” she threw a playful smack on Xi Men’s arm.
He laughed. “Your reaction is really funny,”
“You had fun teasing me the whole trip!” she said.
He laughed for a while more, and then he smiled, “Actually… it is different compare to what I can imagine,” he said.
“I mean, Paris has always looked the same, but the experience is different,” he said.
“Because I am there, right? Right? Right?” she asked vainly. “Right?”
He laughed. “Fine, if you want to say like that, you are,”
“Ah, I am not gonna believe you,”
“Hey! You were the one asking me so!”
“But there is no sincerity in your statement, so I am not gonna believe you,” she said, giving him a fake smile.
He laughed again. “Gosh,”
“So, you are saying about the different experience,” she said, getting back onto the serious note.
“Yeah,” he said. “Well, I have never walked this much in my life at a time…”
She laughed for a brief while.
“And… it is very interesting to look and view Paris by foot,” he said.
“I like the extra effort you do to explain to me about the places we are going without exactly expecting I may have known about that place,” he said. “And you are never tired of doing that,”
She smiled again.
“My perception towards Paris is different now,”
“Umm, is that a good or a bad thing?” she asked.
“A good one,” he smiled. “I knew and see so much more of Paris because of you,”
“That is nice to hear,”
“I have never gone to some places and you brought me there. There are some places I have been to before but visiting them again makes me realized I haven’t looked at it in detailed before, thus going over again this time makes me spot these details,” he said. “So, overall, visiting these places gave me an entirely different feeling, regardless I’ve been there previously or not,”
She smiled cheerfully, feeling as though she had accomplished something upon hearing him saying this.
“You brought a different traveling experience to me,” he said. “And I have never experienced this before because as you have always known, I travel by car wherever I am. So… this is a great trip,”
“I have always thought that Paris is just good enough for 3 to 4 days, but you have really proved me wrong. We are already into day 5 tomorrow but we have yet to cover Notre-Dame bell and Musée du Louvre,” he then turned his head and looked at her, “Asides from these 2 places, do we still have other places to cover? You know, we still have 3 days left to explore Paris, including tomorrow,”
“Yes, we do,”
“Yes, just a couple more,” she smiled.
He smiled. “Look at that. Amazing,” he said. “You are making a good use of the days we have to cover all the important places in Paris. You are an excellent traveling planner and companion, Xiao You,” he looked at her.
“Thank you for the compliment,” she smiled, looking back at him, meeting him in his eyes.
Their gazes locked at each other and their smiles slowly fade.
Their faces are only 5 inches away from each other.
He looked into her brown eyes.
She stares into his deep gaze.
He swallowed the lump in his throat.
She took multiple short but quick breaths.
His gaze went to her lips.
He moved his head forward but stopped after he had only moved two inches closer to her, and she isn’t moving or backing away.
He returned his gaze to her eyes.
“Is this right?” he asked softly. “Is this… right?” he doubted himself.
She saw his dreamy eyes. She knew what he meant, even though he isn’t saying it directly. “There is no wrong in this,”
He swallowed another lump in his throat as his gaze went down to her lips again, and then back to her eyes.
At such a close proximity, both of them could see the other is taking nervous deep breaths.
“But don’t do it if you are going to wake up feeling guilty,” she softly said. “I don’t want to do it with someone who couldn’t take it,”
He took another few deep breaths.
“Tell me if you want this,” he murmured.
“I am giving you my consent,”
“I don’t want your consent,” he gripped her arm. “I want to know if you want this,”
She looked at him taking deep breaths as he stares at her.
She swallowed the lump in her throat and nods briefly. “Just don’t forget me tomorrow,”
After seeing she nodded, he remained looking at her.
The sight of her is making him breathless. He doesn’t know why.
“I won’t,” he said; and he leaned forward to capture her lips.