‘There is a popular roasted goose restaurant in Central. Let’s have dinner there. I will book a table for both of us there. 7pm. See you tomorrow,’
That’s what Xi Men said over the phone call last night.
Xiao You lifted her head up and looked at the restaurant.
“This is the popular roasted goose restaurant,” Xiao You said.
Looking to the left and right to make sure there are no cars, she crosses the road and heads to the restaurant.
She pushes the door of the restaurant and enters.
“Welcome,” the usher greeted. “How many parties, miss?”
“Reservation under Mr. Xi Men…” Xiao You said.
“Oh. Sure. This way, please, Miss Yang,” the usher said, leading the way already.
Xiao You looked at her.
‘Wow. She even knows my name…?’
‘This Xi Men… can’t he just book a table under his name and leave the rest out? He doesn’t have to tell who he is meeting with, right?’
Xiao You followed the usher into the restaurant…
…and heads directly to a table where a dude clad in grey shirt with folded sleeves is already sitting there.
He had his head lowered slightly as he is looking at the menu.
His fringe drops slightly.
But his handsome features could be seen from far…
Xiao You immediately looked at the usher.
The handsome dude lifted his head up upon hearing it.
And then he smiled at the sight of Xiao You.
“This is your table,” the usher said.
“Oh, thank you…” Xiao You replied to the usher.
And the usher walked away.
She then turned her head and then looked at him… meeting his gaze.
Her heart thumps.
“Hi,” he smiled.
“Hi,” she smiled too.
“Have a seat,” he said.
“Thanks…” she replied.
She sits down on the chair in front of Xi Men.
“Nice to see you again, Xiao You,”
She smiled. “I am actually surprised to see you here, Xi Men,” she settled down on the seat and almost immediately dives her hand into her handbag.
“Are you sure you are the surprised one or I am?” Xi Men asked, leaning closer to the table and then puts his folded hands on the edge of the table.
“Maybe you would too. Since Hong Kong is probably a place we did not expect we will meet each other,” she then extends a black & square object to him, “Good tactic on passing me your phone in order to ask me out for a meet up,”
Xi Men smiled as he then took the phone from her hand. “Thank you for returning it to me,” he presses the power button to realize he had 897 whatsapp messages.
From his group chat with his F4 buddies.
“If we look at it from a different perspective, it does seem like you give it to me… so… I can be the new owner of such expensive and sophisticated phone… you know?” she tilts her head with a smile.
Xi Men gazes at her, noting the sweet smile. “But I trust you enough that you won’t take my SIM card out and use it for yourself,” he smiled.
She just smiled.
“And it seems that you charged my phone to full too,” he noted the battery symbol at the top corner.
“With the notification light blinking, it is draining your battery power fairly quickly. And you know what’s bad? The phone did not stop beeping with new messages until 1am and starts again at 7am. If I could silent it, I would,”
He chuckled. “I am sorry about that,”
“So, is this meal on you?” she asked.
“No problem,” he smiled. “Order what you feel like eating,” he grabbed the menu and extends it to her.
“Since you know about this place… I guess you know what’s good to eat?” she looked at him, and did not take the menu.
“Hmmm… I only know the few dishes. I thought you may know more…” he retracts the menu and now he opens it in his grip.
“You thought I may know more?” she asked.
He looked at her, “Maybe you have stayed here long enough to eat and…”
She smirks, “This is probably my second time here,”
“Oh. Then I have been here more than that,” he looked at the menu now.
She smirks and then began looking around.
Silence, while Xi Men looked thru the menu.
Xi Men then flagged a captain and placed the order.
After the captain left…
“Like I have said earlier, I guess I am more surprised than you to meet you here,” Xi Men said, leaning his back against the chair, looking at Xiao You clad in a sweet blue dress.
“You mean, why I am in Hong Kong?” Xiao You asked.
“Yeah,” he nodded too. “I thought you were in Toronto…”
“Actually I am still based in Toronto. My company sends me here for a project’s implementation at client’s office,”
“Yes. So I will be based in Hong Kong for 6 months,” Xiao You said. “This is my 3rd month,”
“Oh…” he said. “What are you working as?”
“Project Manager. I mean I manage projects, not a manager…” she replied.
He chuckled. “Okay, I get it. Managing project’s project manager,”
“Yeah. And what about you? Why are you here?” Xiao You asked.
“My dad is closing a deal with a client based here and wanted my presence since my company will be taking over the project,”
Xiao You frowned. “Your company? You work separately from your dad?”
“Oh, no, no. My dad has a branch of Xi Men Corporation in New York while I managed Xi Men Corporation in Taiwan. So, the Taiwan branch will manage the project,”
“Oh… I get it now,” she said. “So, since you said you manage the company in Taiwan… I assume you hold a pretty high position…?”
He smiled, “Highest. I mean, after my dad. I am a CEO,”
“Oh wow… I cannot imagine the stress…”
He laughed. “Is that all you can say when you knew I am a CEO?!”
“You can’t blame me when that is the first thing that came into my mind!”
Both of them laughed together.
“So…” after their laughter fades, “I hope you are not working in the building where we met yesterday…” Xi Men said. “Umm, I mean… that’s my client’s office & that’s where I come out from earlier. And it would be odd to not see you in the office but on the road in front of the building…”
Xiao You chuckled. “No, I am not working there, but two buildings away. I was on my way to the subway station when you just turned and crashed onto me,”
“Oh, mentioning of that, I am sorry. I hope I did not hurt you…” he asked with concern.
“I am fine. Though at that moment, my arm does hurt, but the pain goes off soon,” she said, recalling the pain on her right arm.
“Oh… I am really sorry about that…” he said apologetically.
“Don’t worry about it. Did not dislocate my shoulder or something so I am all well,”
He chuckled, while she smiled.
“Yeah, I was looking on my phone too when it happens… that is why I didn’t see you…” she said.
That’s what he speculated yesterday when he saw her holding her phone as she rubbed her painful arm.
He smiled. “So we are both looking at our phones at the time of incident, huh,”
She smirks, “Yeah, maybe we need to learn to look up and watch where we walk instead of the phone…”
“I’ll probably miss you if you and I did that,” Xi Men said.
She looked at him.
“I mean, since that would mean we will be paying attention to the road, then we will definitely walk further away from each other and we won’t collide,” Xi Men said.
She smiled. “Yeah,” she said. “Oh, I haven’t asked you. How long will you be here?”
“I am leaving tomorrow,” Xi Men said.
“Oh? So soon?”
“Yeah. I am here for 3 days only,”
“Oh… so that is why you arranged for meet up tonight, huh?” she asked.
He smiled, “Yeah. And well… since I saw you yesterday, I thought you are probably residing here. That is why I arrange for dinner at this place, because I am pretty sure you will know about this popular place if you have been here for long,”
“You are quite lucky actually. I’ve had my meals here once. Just once. So I do have some recollections about it. I asked my project partner in my client’s office just now about this restaurant and what he says confirms this is the restaurant,” she said.
He chuckled. “I am sorry. I didn’t know I know better about this place than you,”
“No worries. I did not get lost. So it is fine,” she smiled. “Oh, mentioning of it… you said your dad is here in Hong Kong… umm… what about his dinner…?”
“Well, he thought I was going to have dinner with him,”
“But of course, I am going to meet you for dinner tonight, so I told him I am going out and I won’t be eating with him. He said if he is going to eat by himself, might as well just order hotel’s room service,”
“Awww… feels so bad for your dad,”
Xi Men chuckled. “I actually asked Secretary Xu to eat with him,”
A waitress approached their table and puts down a plate of roasted goose and a plate of roasted chicken, before putting down a bowl of rice in front of Xi Men, and then another bowl in front of Xiao You.
“Oh… who is Secretary Xu?” she asked, taking the chopsticks up.
“My secretary,” Xi Men said, also taking the chopsticks up. “Came with me from Taiwan,”
“Oh… and you asked your dad to eat with her? What if it makes her uncomfortable?”
Xi Men chuckled. “You are right. Secretary Xu is indeed uncomfortable to dine with the president. He told me he didn’t want to eat with my dad and he’ll order room service too,” he picks up a piece of roasted goose and then put it onto Xiao You’s plate.
“Oh thanks…” Xiao You said for the piece of meat that Xi Men had put onto her plate, and then she lifted her head up to look at him. “He…? Did you just say ‘he’ to refer to your secretary?”
“Yes. My secretary is a guy,” Xi Men then picks a piece of roasted goose for himself.
Xi Men chuckled at her reaction.
She smiled sheepishly and scratches the back of her head. “Sorry, I thought your secretary is a woman…”
“No worries. You are not the only one says that. Since Secretary Xu begins working with me 11 years ago, everyone thought my secretary is female until they see him,”
“Oh. Wow. 11 years already?” she takes a bite out of the piece of roasted goose.
“Yes, he has been following me since the day I join Xi Men Corporation upon graduation. I was a manager back then, and got promoted to CEO 5 years later,” he said, watching the waitress putting down a vegetable dish.
“Oh…” she munches while looking at the newly arrived dish.
“And… I think we haven’t met for… 12 years?” Xi Men tilts his head as he looked at her.
She stopped munching and looked at him. “We? You mean… you and me?”
He smiled and nodded.
She smiled briefly while her gaze strayed, “Umm… now that I think about it… yeah, it’s been 12 years since my Taiwan trip…” she then continued munching.
Xi Men nodded. “Yes. It’s been so long. So it is nice to see you again, Xiao You,”
Xiao You finds herself smiling. “It is nice to see you again too,”
Xi Men smiled. “How has life been?”
Xiao You smiled and nodded, “It’s been great,” she extends the chopsticks to the vegetable dish.
“That is great. Are you still keeping in touch with San Chai?” Xi Men asked.
“Yes,” and she puts it into her mouth.
Xi Men’s eyes brightened up as he actually expects the answer is ‘no’, “You do?”
“Yeah, but rarely. We used to talk to each other frequently, but since she gets married and gives birth to her kids, I think she has forgotten about me,” she then chuckled.
Seeing she chuckles, he smiled.
“Nowadays, we talk… maybe… hmmm… four times a year,” she munches her food after that.
“Four times a year?”
“Yes. Merry Christmas, Happy Chinese New Year, and wishing each other Happy Birthday; you know, her birthday and my birthday,” Xiao You said. “So, that’s 4 days; thus 4 times,”
Xi Men laughed upon hearing that.
Seeing he laughed, she smiled.
“Very interesting,” Xi Men tried to hold his laughter. “Thank goodness I am not munching or swallowing my food right now or else I’ll probably get choked…”
She just smiled, until his laughter dies down.
“And what about you? How has your life been?” Xiao You asked, taking another bite on her roasted goose.
“It’s alright,” he said. “Work, eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep…”
She chuckled. “Seems like a workaholic,”
“Had to admit, yes,”
She smiled at that respond.
“Well… I work all the time since…” he then paused.
“Since?” she asked, scooping her rice.
“Are you seeing anyone?”
She looked at him and halted what she is doing when he suddenly changed his topic; the spoonful of rice that she had intended to stuff into her mouth is just right in front of her mouth.
“Umm… nope,” she smiled briefly and then stuffs the rice into her mouth.
“No?” he repeated after her. “Umm… married?”
She shook, “No,”
“Why? Is it very surprising to hear that?”
He gazes at her, “To be honest, yes,”
She frowned at him. “Yes?” she repeated after him.
“Because you are nice, lovely, jokes well… I thought you will have a lot of suitors,”
She smiled. “Thanks for the compliment, but I am too intimidating for guys to date me,”
“Intimidating?” he looked at her, tilting his head. “Because you are beautiful?”
Xiao You stares straight at Xi Men, and then immediately swallows a lump in her throat, before she automatically raised her left hand up to touch her suddenly-turned-hot cheek. “Umm…” she uttered. “I mean…”
She quickly lowered her hand, “I mean I have been told that I am too smart and independent. So, that’s a turn off for guys,”
His smirk fades. His eyes strayed for a moment.
“That’s sad,” Xi Men said.
Xiao You looked at him.
“I find independence a good thing; girlfriend that is not too reliant to him. And a smart woman is a turn off? What do they expect? A dumb girlfriend or something?”
“I didn’t mean…”
“That’s just what I said, not from you,” Xi Men said, reaching for his cup of Chinese tea and then takes a sip from it.
Xiao You pressed her lips together, before she lowered her head down and slowly takes a bite on her roasted goose.
“But I have to say,”
Xiao You lifted her head up and looked at Xi Men when he said that.
“I do feel the independence and confidence from you,” Xi Men said, and then he smiled.
Xiao You finds herself smiling too, “Thanks. And thanks to your words… I am very happy with who I am now,”
“You made me say to myself that I will be more lovely and confident,” she said.
Xi Men’s gaze changed. “And you still remember?”
“That is pretty much the turning point of my life, Xi Men. I live by those words and those positive words made me a better person. Why would I forget?” Xiao You asked.
He looked at her, and belatedly smiled briefly.
Xiao You then reached for the vegetable dish with a content smile on her face.
*Flashback to the day before.
As John drives away, Xi Men’s gaze followed to where she is – even when he has to turn his head to the back, while she watches the car driving away.
Until she vanishes from his sight.
Now that he can no longer see her, Xi Men then straightened his head.
He soon turned his gaze to look out of the window, to the view.
And then he smiled.
It’s the vibe from her that he is thinking about at that time.
It makes sense now.
Xi Men’s lips curved up even more. “I guess that explains,”
Xiao You lifted her head up and looked at him, “About?”
“That you are so different the moment I met you yesterday,”
“Different? What are you talking about? I am still a female in your eyes, right?”
He chuckled, “Of course you are still a female. A very beautiful one in fact,”
She looked at him, “Your sweet talking never retires, huh,”
“I don’t call that sweet talking. I call that a praise,” he said.
She glared at him, and then she lets out a laugh. “Alright, fine. Now, explain. What’s different?”
“What I mean is, you are different now compared to the Xiao You I know 12 years ago. I can feel it from the aura you are emitting,”
“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?” she asked.
“A good one,”
“Okay, that’s better,” she said.
She smiled, and then takes a piece of roasted chicken now.
After his laughter dies down, he took a piece of vegetable…
He looked at her, “Hmmm?”
“Since you asked me…” Xiao You said.
“What about you? Seeing anyone or married?”
Xi Men looked at Xiao You, “Is it really true that all you and San Chai talk about is just… greetings?”
Xiao You chuckled, “Okay, she did write a line or two about something else. She did mention that Mei Zhuo and Lei are married. But she has never mentioned about you,”
Xi Men smiled, “If that is really the topic that she will ever write to update you, then she finds no reason to talk about me because I am not seeing anyone, nor married,”
“Oh…” she said, “Okay,”
“Interested to know if I am still a playboy?” Xi Men asked, munching on the vegetable now.
“You have stopped being one when you entered workforce. San Chai told me,”
Xi Men frowned, “It is really hard to predict what you both talked about…”
“Because a decade ago, she’s not married yet so she has the time to type her emails and told me about that,” Xiao You smiled.
“Ahhhh… now I get it,” Xi Men said. “So, you are not very up to date with the recent news…”
“If you had to put it in a way, yes,”
Xi Men chuckled.
“Then why aren’t you dating?” she asked.
He gazes at her.
This question again?
She looked at him. “Hmm?”
Oh well. She’s a friend.
She doesn’t know so she asked.
Not like his parents…
“Because I am not interested with anyone so I did not date. And at this moment, my mom is trying to set me up with someone… anyone… I don’t know; she wants me to date and get married. She also bugged my dad and because of that, he pressures me too,” Xi Men replied.
“Oh,” and then Xiao You laughed. “I have never imagined you have to go thru that,”
“Let’s just say… Ah Si, Mei Zhuo and Lei have become the unwanted and unwelcomed inspiration to this topic for my parents,”