Xiao You took her trench coat and black winter jacket out from the wardrobe, removing them from the clothes hanger and then she heads to her luggage with them in hand.
She sits down on the bed as she puts down the black winter jacket on the bed and folds the trench coat properly to be placed into the luggage.
She still remembers the first day she took the jackets out from the luggage to hang them at the wardrobe.
It felt like she has just reached Paris yesterday.
“But tomorrow I will be leaving Paris,” she murmured as she placed the trench coat into the luggage.
A week has passed.
The vacation week has come to an end.
The agreed ‘one week’ with Xi Men has come to an end.
She then grabbed the black winter jacket from the bed and folds it now.
She dreads leaving Paris.
She dreads leaving the beautiful city.
Her eyes lifted up by slight.
Leaving Xi Men.
She dreads leaving Xi Men.
Her gaze went to the closed bathroom door where Xi Men is taking his shower behind the door right now.
“If I know I will feel like this… then I shouldn’t have agreed to ‘the week’ with him,” she murmured, returning her gaze to her folded black winter jacket and then stuffs the jacket into the luggage bag.
‘I didn’t take up the week to feel like this,’ she thought to herself. ‘This week is supposed to be for repaying his gratitude. But why did it changed to this?’
With the thoughts running in her mind, she happened to squeeze the folded jacket in the luggage bag as the emotions stirred in her are choking her up and tears formed in her eyes.
After a brief while, the tears fell.
She quickly lifted her hands up and wiped the tears and trails of them.
She sniffs, and then she stood up, walking out of the bedroom.
Xi Men opened the door of the bathroom and immediately felt coldness in the suite.
He had never felt this kind of coldness in the suite when he leaves the bathroom for the last few days.
“Didn’t I turn on the heater?” Xi Men frowned as he tried to recall.
He remembered he turned on the heater when he entered the suite after returning from Tour Montparnasse.
“I did. So… is the heater broken?” he asked again.
And then he realized Xiao You wasn’t anywhere in his sight.
Since she is not in the bedroom, then, she might be in the living room.
He turned his head to look at the living room and realized the sliding door to the balcony is open.
Now that explains why the suite is cold; the cold air came into the suite via the opened balcony door.
“Xiao You must have opened it,” he mumbled, before he runs the towel on his wet hair.
After he hanged the towel at the rack, he walked to the living room and saw Xiao You, wearing her red wool winter jacket to keep her warm, is standing at the balcony, with her back facing him.
He grabbed his black jacket and walked to the balcony, planning to join her.
Xiao You had her hands on the iron railing of the balcony, leaning slightly forward and looking out at the view.
Xiao You could feel Xi Men’s presence behind her. She quickly took a deep breath, suppressing those unwanted feelings in her, so that he wouldn’t find out; though she wanted to sniff but she knew he could heard it if she does that right now.
Xi Men took his first step to the balcony and stood on the left of Xiao You whose head has turned to the right to look at the Eiffel Tower.
He also turned his head to look at the view.
Wind blows and it is utterly cold outside, even more so it is night time now.
His gaze then went to Xiao You.
He could only look at the back of her head (*since she is looking to the right).
Xiao You is afraid of cold, but yet she chose to stay in the cold and looked at the view.
“I thought you said you wanted to pack,” Xi Men said.
She lowered her gaze a little when she heard him speak, and then in about two seconds later, returned her gaze to the Eiffel Tower again. “Almost done. And then I decided to come out here,” Xiao You said.
“To catch a glimpse of Eiffel Tower?” he smiled.
“You can say so,”
His gaze lowered down to look at her bare hand on the cold railing.
He then extends his hand and gripped her hand, to which he found out it is cold; and Xiao You is slightly surprised at the sudden warm touch of his hand. She turned her head slightly to his direction.
“Your hand is cold. Why didn’t you wear gloves?” he asked, beginning to rub her hand.
“I will only be here for a while,” she said. “It is okay. I want to remember how cold it is in Paris at night time,”
He looked at her – and could only look at the side profile of her face. “You might catch a cold…”
“Then I can call in sick instead of going to work,” she smiled, turning her head and gaze back to Eiffel Tower.
He smiled, and then he laughed briefly. “What a good reason. You really dread going back to work, huh,”
“I do,” she smiled faintly. “Never liked the feeling of going back to work after a holiday,”
“Withdrawal syndrome,” he said.
She just smiled.
He then released her hand, and moved closer to her, sliding his hand to her waist.
His action is not something new, but Xiao You didn’t need this now.
She didn’t want this…
Not at this time.
She closed her eyes as his touch brought those emotions that she tried to get rid of, back to her.
“I am sure you will miss Paris,” Xi Men said.
Xiao You opened her eyes and then swallowed the quickly-formed lump in her throat. She then nodded, “Yeah,” she replied. “I will miss Paris,”
He smiled briefly.
Again, trying to get rid of those emotions in her, she decided to say something to change how she felt, “You know, we’ve stayed here for a week… and this is the first time I actually stand here to look at the view from the suite,”
“Oh? Really?” he asked, and then he thinks about it, “Oh, right. You are right,”
“This is a nice suite with a nice view,” she said.
“I agree that this is a nice suite with nice view. And you said you wanted a room with nice view… so…”
“Thank you,” she interrupted him, and then turned to look at him. “For the suite,”
He smiled, “No problem,”
She is registering his handsome face in her mind. “But I think I have under-appreciated it,” she said.
“Under-appreciated?” he asked.
“I mean… I did mention I wanted a room with Eiffel Tower view, but I didn’t expect you will get a suite… and that you are paying so much for this…”
He tilts his head.
“Judging at the daily rate you paid, which is so expensive… I didn’t do the right favor by coming to the balcony or stood near the window to look at the Eiffel Tower every single day,” she said.
He just smiled.
“And this is the first time I stand here and enjoy the view from the suite…” she adds.
“It didn’t matter to me whether you do that or not, but now that you are doing it, you can treat it as though you’ve done the favor,” he smiled.
She smiled faintly. “Yeah. At least… I am doing it now,” she then slowly turned to look at the streets.
She can see the entrance of a metro station located at the opposite of the hotel entrance from where she stood now.
Xi Men glanced over to her, and then he also looked at the streets.
“Yeah?” he turned his head to look at her.
“I have never asked you this…” she remained looking at the entrance of the metro station.
“About?” he asked.
“Did you actually tell anyone about this trip…?” she asked.
Hearing that respond, Xiao You slowly turned her head to look at him.
“I only say I am going to Paris for a week. I didn’t mention who I am going with,” he said.
Xiao You smirked slightly. “You said that to your friends?”
“Yeah. And Secretary Xu,” Xi Men said. “In case some business partners or clients called… there is something Secretary Xu can tell them,”
She smiled and then she nods briefly. “I think that is good,” she said.
“Keep it that way,” she said. “Can you promise me not to tell any of your friends about me going to Paris with you?”
He smiled. “Hearing you said that… I guess, San Chai didn’t know you went to Paris, right?”
She smiled. “She didn’t know. Though I told her I will be away for some business conference so that she won’t look for me for a week…”
He chuckled. “Business conference,” he repeated after her.
She just smiled.
“So… I assume you didn’t want me to tell anyone… because you didn’t want San Chai to know?” he asked.
She smiled lightly. “San Chai is one, but most of all, I didn’t want anyone to know,” she said. “Because this is not any ordinary vacation between couples or friends meeting up for traveling, but this is ‘a week’ based on your previous policy…”
His smile fades slightly.
“And also… judging to our history… 10 years ago,” she said.
He looked at her.
“The least people know, the better it is. It is the best if no one knows. Saves a lot of hassle, nagging… and having to explain this entire situation,” she said. “I just want to keep this between you and me,”
Xi Men smiled again and then he nodded. “Okay, I promise you,”
She smiled and looked at him. “Great, thank you,”
“You are welcome,” he said.
She returned her gaze again to look at the shops located opposite their hotel.
A Monoprix outlet at the corner of the street.
A boulangerie next to it.
A fruit store.
“Hmmm?” she responded with her gaze still at the fruit store.
“Can you… look at me?”
Xiao You pressed her lips together, and then she blinked for a few times. After swallowing the lump in her throat and controlled her emotions well, she slowly turned her head and looked at him as he had requested.
He is staring at her, with his fringe covering his left eye. “Thank you for the week,” he said. “Thank you… for letting me fulfill it,”
She forces a smile on her face. She nodded briefly.
“Your debt has been paid,” she said. “And thank you too,” she adds, “For a chance for me to repay your gratitude,”
He smiled lightly, and then he turned his head away. “Don’t mention,”
Xiao You straightened her head and looked at the shop that is directly at the angle of her eyes.
A clothing store.
“After a week here in Paris… we are going back to normal lives tomorrow,” Xiao You uttered.
“Yeah,” Xi Men said.
Her gaze strayed to the right, and then her head turned to the right too. “Xi Men…”
Xi Men turned to look at her, or rather, the back of her head.
Her emotions stirred in her. “When you are back to Taipei… live well,” she said, facing the Eiffel Tower.
He felt that it is a heart-wrenching tone in her voice. He doesn’t know why but it makes him feel that way.
“Xiao You, live well too…” he said.
Xiao You smirked, and she nodded. “I will,” she swallowed the lump in her throat. “I will,” she repeated again.
‘If I could do anything to stop the time… I will. I didn’t want this to end…’ he thought to himself.
“Take care of your health. Don’t drink too much. Don’t overworked too. And take good care of your mother. Spend some time with her,” Xiao You adds.
Her gaze lowered at his calling.
He extends his hand out and placed his finger on her chin, inadvertently directing her to turn and look at him.
She slowly turned her head, along with the movement of his hand, to look at him.
He caressed her cheek.
‘After this week ends… I will not get to see you anymore…’ he thought to himself as he looked at her face intently.
He leaned forward and kissed her on her lips.
She isn’t exactly responsive to his kiss in the beginning as she is still struggling with her emotions, but in the end she lets loose and kissed him back.
Deep down in their mind, heart and soul, they knew this will be the last time.
This is their last night together.
Things will be reverted back to the same old life they had known and familiar with tomorrow.
Without each other.
They have agreed beforehand that this is just for one week.
Now that this ‘one week’ has reached its end, everything is coming to an end.
They spent the whole night being close to each other.
This is their most emotional night.
Xiao You knew this ‘one week’ is nothing to Xi Men.
She knew he only wants to fulfill the one week that he still owed her and she had given him the chance to fulfill it.
Once this is over, she knew he will no longer have the guilt in him and he will forget about her completely.
Xi Men knew Xiao You took up the ‘one week’ because she wanted to repay his gratitude for changing her for better in the past.
He knew this ‘one week’ will not hold any form of meaning to her, despite she sleeps with him, it is just part of the week’s package.
Once this is over, he knew she will forget about him and move on with life.
Although both of them felt like they’ve been used by the other for the week, they let it happen anyway.
She doesn’t care if he is using her to satisfy his needs, she wants to be close to him.
He doesn’t care if she treats him like one of those random guys she picked from the bar; he wants to be close to her.
She makes sure he didn’t see her tears and sadness because she didn’t want him to know she had gotten her feelings involved in this special week.
He makes sure she didn’t know he is sad and went teary eyes due to the impending separation.
But he didn’t know why he felt that way.