“Let’s split the bill. How much is the dinner?” Xiao You said as she walked out from the restaurant and extends her hand out for the receipt from Xi Men.
“Don’t worry about it. I should foot the bill since I asked you out for dinner,” Xi Men said, stuffing the receipt into his pants’ pocket instead of passing it to her.
“Is that how the rules go? That whoever asked the other out for dinner is the one who should pay for the bill?” she asked.
“Actually, no. My rule is if I dine with a pretty woman like you, I should pay for the bill, all the time,” he said and then he chuckled.
She glared at him. “So if the woman you are dining with is not pretty, she should foot the bill?”
He laughed out loud. “I have never said that!”
“That is what you are implying,” she said, pointing at him.
“Well, what I know is, all women are beautiful. But you are more beautiful, and perhaps the most beautiful tonight,”
“You and your sweet talk…” she pointed at him, but she had no words anymore to say.
He smiled, and then chuckled. “It’s not like you don’t know me,”
“Fine. You can pay for the dinner tonight. Thank you. If I ever see you again, next meal will be on me,” she said.
“I don’t think so. I don’t agree to let woman pay for my meals. So if I see you again, next meal will still be on me,” he smiled.
“Xi Men…” she groaned.
“Really, don’t worry about it. Come. I send you home. Where are you staying at?” Xi Men heads straight to the car that is parked in front of the restaurant, and that startled Xiao You as she has never expected he had a car waiting in front of the restaurant.
“Ah? This… this is your car?” Xiao You asked.
With three steps away from the car, Xi Men turned around and looked at her, “Yes. To be precise, my dad’s chauffeured car. My dad arranged to have the service for this trip. Since I need to go out so I am using it tonight,”
“O… oh…” she said, watching the chauffeur getting down from the car and then heads towards Xi Men and opened the back passenger’s door. “He… umm… how long has he been waiting here…?”
“Since I came to the restaurant,” Xi Men said.
She looked at him. “That… that long?”
Xi Men nodded, “Don’t worry about him. He already had his dinner prior to our dinner,”
Well, the chauffeur’s meal is not her concern…
Xi Men smiled, “I’ll send you home. Where are you staying at?”
“Ummm… I can go back by subway… I mean, subway is convenient…”
Xi Men smiled, “It’s okay. Let me send you home tonight. Get into the car,” he said.
She looked at him.
With him looking back at her like this…
This guy, despite didn’t see him for 12 years, is still good looking.
“I hope it did not inconveni…”
“If it is, I wouldn’t have offered. It is okay. I will send you to your residence no matter where it is,” he inadvertently puts his hand to her back as a mean of guiding her to the car.
“What if I told you I am staying in Macau?” she asked, unknowingly already walked to the car since he is gently pushing her to the car.
“Macau? You mean, to take ferry across the sea?” he asked, taken aback and stopped pushing.
She smiled and then stopped her footsteps now that he had stopped. “Yeah,” she replied.
“Well, if you are staying in Macau, I’ll call for a helicopter or a private jet and send you back to Macau. But I still need to send you to the airport, so get into the car,” he gently pushes her again.
Her smile fades as she continued her steps again. “Oh my gosh, you can’t be serious about the helicopter or a private jet!”
“As a guy, I am obligated to make sure you get home safely. And since I can afford paying a private jet or helicopter, I will do so. And on top of that, if you are really staying in Macau, I really have to salute you for coming to Hong Kong from Macau daily by ferry,” he said, watching her getting in into the car.
“Why? Is it not possible?” she asked, as Xi Men then gets into the car from the same door she gets in; sitting next to her.
“It is possible, just not practical,” Xi Men said while his chauffeur closes the door.
She looked at him.
“Your project is in Hong Kong but your company puts you in Macau and you have to travel daily to work? How practical is that, coming from your company?” he asked.
She just looked at him.
John gets into the car.
“The money they have to pay for your accommodation, transportation, perhaps food… and even your time to travel daily is really not worth it,” he said, looking at her. “Besides, adding them all up, staying in Hong Kong would be more cost effective,”
She gazes at him.
“Am I right?” he asked.
“You are too smart,” Xiao You said, straightening her head.
Xi Men laughed. “I am a CEO, I know,”
“Ah, right… I forgot about that. A CEO will definitely factor all of those in before he makes a decision for anything,”
He chuckled. “Now, tell John where you are staying so he can send you home,” Xi Men said.
“Oh…” Xiao You turned her head to look at John who is waiting for her to tell her destination, and she tells John the name of her service apartment.
“Oh, I heard about the service apartment. Is it in Tsim Sha Tsui?” John asked.
“Yes,” Xiao You responded.
“Okay,” John replied and then drives the car.
Xiao You turned her head to look at Xi Men, “Not bad about what?”
“Your company houses you in a service apartment,”
“Oh… yeah,” Xiao You replied. “Since I will only be here for 6 months, so…” she then smiled.
“Did you come alone, by the way?” Xi Men asked.
“You mean to Hong Kong?”
“No, I came with 3 other colleagues,”
“Oh. So, you are staying with them?”
“No, each of us stays separately. We have our individual apartments,” she said.
“Oh, wow. That’s not bad,”
“Yes. Company respects everyone’s personal space after work, thus a one-room service apartment for everyone,” Xiao You said. “Well, that’s from the company’s point of view, but even if you house the three of them together in an apartment, it wouldn’t be a big deal too, since all three of them mingle well. They always go for a drink together,”
“Did you join them?”
“Only for dinner. I don’t go for a drink with them because they tend to drink til very late. I don’t prefer that. Still need to go to work the next day,”
“And did I mention, they are all guys?”
Xi Men looked at her, “All guys?”
“Yes, so, best not to be there and causes disruption to their men-talk,” she smiled. “You know they’ll talk about anything and everything over beer and sometimes having a female there gives them restriction. So, I’d rather go home and watch some shows, listen to music or catch up on my sleep. Some me-time is good,”
“I pamper myself a lot,” she smiled. “Who else should, or would I pamper if not myself?”
He chuckled. “Right. You are right,”
Her smile fades slightly and she looked at him. “Hmmm?”
“Do you have plans to go to Taipei for a visit?” Xi Men asked.
She smiled briefly, “Actually, no,” she said. “But maybe I should… since it’s been 12 years…”
“Well, since you are here now… perhaps over the weekend, you can drop by Taipei. I mean, Hong Kong is quite near to Taipei so you don’t have to take a 10 hours flight from Toronto to the same destination. This is a very good reason to go to Taipei, you know?”
She chuckled. “I know. But then… weekend sounds short. Not enough of time for me to see new things, eat the food that I miss, buy the things I want…”
Xi Men smiled. “Then come over repeatedly for weeks,”
“That sounds tiring,” she said. “More tiring than a 10-hour flight!”
He laughed. “Since you are here for projects, I know you can’t take leave…”
She nodded, “Yes,”
“So, the only time to come to Taipei is when you are not working, on weekends. You don’t work on weekends, right?”
“So that seems to be your only choice,”
“If being tired is an issue… well, I can offer to provide transport and accompany you if you need me to. That should be less tiring,”
Xiao You smiled. “Thanks for the offer. I’ll think about it; I mean, to go to Taipei,”
“Sure,” he said.
“Has Taipei changed a lot?”
“Yes,” he said. “It does,”
“We have Taipei 101 now,” he smiled.
She smiled, “Yes, the icon of Taipei. Looks marvelous from photos,”
“Should leave you amazed when you look at it in front of you,” Xi Men smiled.
Xiao You’s smile widened. “You are right, I probably should go and drop by at Taipei since I am just 2 hours away, but would love to be there more than just 2 days and 1 night…”
He chuckled. “Can’t get the best of both worlds, eh,”
He laughed at her reaction.
“Oh, I forgot to ask you,”
His laughter fades to a smile, “Yeah?”
“What time is your flight tomorrow?”
“5pm,” Xi Men replied. “Why? You wanna come and send me off?”
Xiao You chuckled. “Dream on. I am still working at that time,”
“Just curious about the time you are flying off. Have a safe flight tomorrow,” Xiao You smiled, looking at him.
He looked at her.
He could see the bright smile on her face, beamed even more with the lights that had penetrated the windows of the car from the street.
He inadvertently smiles even more. “Thank you,”
Still smiling, “It is nice to meet a friend here,”
He smiled too, “It is really nice to see you again, Xiao You,”
Xiao You smiled.
“If you don’t know yet… you have changed so much,” he adds.
With a faint smile on her face, “You said I am independent and confident, right?”
He smiled and nodded, “And you are very, very beautiful now,”
She smiled, abashed at his another compliment. “You have said that just now too, but thank you. I think it’s really nice to hear such compliments once in a while,”
Xi Men chuckled. “Once in a while?” he asked. “Give praise where praise is due,”
His chuckling lightens up the mood.
Her abashment disappeared, but remained smiling.
They then exchanged glances.
Soon, both of them straightened their gaze at the same time and looked out of the car’s windscreen.
“Must be nice to go back to your bed tomorrow,” Xiao You said.
Xi Men gazes over to Xiao You, “Hmmm?”
“I miss my bed so much,” Xiao You said, looking at Xi Men.
Xi Men chuckled. “Are you saying your service apartment’s bed is not at the best quality?”
“It is. But it is still not my bed,” Xiao You said. “So jealous of you to be able to sleep on your bed again,”
Xi Men smiled.
‘Yes, I am going back to my bed, my house tomorrow…’ he smiled.
His smile fades.
‘My mom and her naggings on asking me to date…’
‘I am going back to face that again,’
‘And that damn green file!’
‘Oh my goodness…’
“Miss, should I turn left or right at the junction in front?” John suddenly asked.
“Oh, turn left,” Xiao You replied. “The service apartment will be about 300 meters from the turn. It is on the left,”
That prompted Xi Men to look out of the window.
300 meters away.
On the left.
All of a sudden, Xi Men is interested with the place Xiao You stays, so he keeps a lookout for it, until they reached the building.
John stops the car at an empty spot slightly further from the service apartment’s entrance.
“I am home,” Xiao You smiled.
Xi Men was looking at the building, and then turned to look at Xiao You upon hearing that.
“Looks like a great place,” Xi Men smiled.
“It is. Too bad the bed isn’t mine,” Xiao You smiled.
Xi Men chuckled.
John parks the car and he gets down from the driver’s seat.
“Anyway, thank you for the ride,” Xiao You said.
“No problem, have a good rest tonight,”
“Sure. Goodbye, Xi Men. Safe flight tomorrow,”
“Thank you. Goodbye, Xiao You,” he smiled. “See you again if there’s opportunity,”
“Sure, see you,” Xiao You smiled.
Xi Men nods at her with the smile still on his face.
John opens the door of Xiao You’s side.
Xiao You turned to the direction of the opened door…
… and Xi Men takes note the shape of her back the moment she turned.
She then exits the car and John slams the door close.
Xi Men watches Xiao You walking to the entrance of the service apartment’s building.
As he looked at her, the thought that his Hong Kong trip is coming to an end tomorrow slips into his mind.
It is nothing petrifying about going home.
In fact, he loves it when a trip ends.
The thought of Xi Men going back home to face his mother’s endless questions, requests… and not to mention, nagging, for him to date a girl annoys him.
The last 3 days in Hong Kong has been peace for him.
Other than the brief mentioning of this exact same topic by his dad yesterday, everything else is normal.
And now that he is going to go back to Taipei tomorrow…
He isn’t working on the weekends.
And that means… facing his mother!
Xi Men exhaled his deep breath.
His eyes remained glued at Xiao You walking to the entrance…
His eyes brightened up slightly.
John gets into the driver’s seat. He puts on the signal, indicating he is about to drive.
“Stop, John, stop,” Xi Men suddenly said, causing John to immediately step onto the brake.
Xi Men opens the door of the car and quickly gets out from it.
He then hurriedly heads towards Xiao You.
Xiao You pushed the glass door of the building and is about to enter the lobby…
“Xiao You!” he calls out for her right then.
Xiao You halted her steps and turned, looking at Xi Men heading towards her.
She wondered why is he looking for her all of a sudden when they have already bid their farewell.
“What are you up to this weekend?” Xi Men asked, stopping right in front of her.
Xiao You frowned, “This weekend?”
“Yes. Saturday and Sunday,”
“Umm… I have nothing at the moment…”
“Great! So, can I…”
“Don’t tell me you want me to go to Taipei this weekend?” she interrupts and pointed at him. “I love impromptu plans but I don’t want to go to Taipei this weekend,”
He chuckled, as he puts her hand down. “Don’t worry about that. But I have just decided to extend my stay. So, can I have the honor of having you to spend your weekend with me?”