You see it is always the woman’s duty to put up with a man’s foibles.
She is the one who should always compromise.
And forget that she ever had any dreams of her own.
It is her duty to forgive him . . .
No matter how big the sin.
There are a lot of women like that out there.
. . . . . . . . . . . .
I never thought I was that woman.
I fell in love with you, and became that woman.
When I was with you, I was weak.
I tried . . . tried to make our relationship work.
I tried to forgive.
I tried to forget.
But then came a day when nothing I could do would make me forget the reality.
I turned my back to you. I turned my back on love.
And, then . . .
I decided to send you away.
But when I turned around . . .
You had already walked away.
Xiao You sat in the chair, waiting for the others to arrive.
She had come back to Taiwan to see Ximen. She showed him the sign, and her life had never been the same since that day.
She had never returned to Canada. Her parents took pity on her. They could see how desperately out of place she felt in Canada, and allowed her to stay with her aunt.
She had been here ever since.
It had been more than two years.
“Xiao You, you came first?” a voice asked from behind her.
She turned to look.
Jing and Lei.
They had been together for a year now, and had been engaged for the past six months. No one had been more surprised than Lei when Jing Jie had come back, and had chased him until he gave in. Xiao You asked her why she continued to chase him despite all the times he had rejected her.
“Because he loves me. I know he does, and I can’t let him hurt himself anymore by rejecting me. He feels that he has to, because of how I’ve hurt him in the past.”
Xiao You had seen how brave Jing was, and that had made her want to be courageous in her personal relationships as well.
“Jing Jie, Lei, how are you?” she asked, smiling. The couple replied, and they sat discussing their respective lives, until the others arrived.
“We’re here!” Mei Zhou called out, dragging Xiao Qiao along with him, as he hurried to the corner reserved for them in the restaurant.
“Mei Zhou. Xiao Qiao. I thought you both left before us,” Lei commented.
“Well, today was a special day for the both of us,” Mei Zhou replied. “I forgot this meeting was planned for today. I had other things on my mind, and accidentally planned something else,” he explained.
“What?” they asked in unison.
Mei Zhou held up a blushing Xiao Qiao’s hand.
“We’re engaged,” he said.
There were cheers for the couple.
There were congratulations.
Mei Zhou and Xiao Qiao had been dating for two years now. After Mei Zhou had given in to the fact that he was falling in love with her, he had wholeheartedly courted her. Xiao You asked him why he hadn’t proposed to Xiao Qiao. Everyone knew how much they loved each other.
“I made a promise to myself,” he said. “When I realized that she had waited for me for the past ten years, hoping that I would fall in love with her, I had to make it up to her. She has suffered for so long. She never dated anyone. Her heart wouldn’t let her. I want to court her. I want to give her all the experiences she missed out on. So that, when we do marry, she will never think that she missed out on anything,” he confessed.
And now another F4 member has fallen, Xiao You thought silently. She was so happy for them. Here was a man who loved a woman so much, that he wasn’t afraid of the world witnessing his courting of her.
It was just that . . . everything was happening so fast, and yet it seemed that nothing had changed in her life. And she was tired of it.
“Am I late?” a familiar voice asked, coming up behind the group.
“No, we’re still waiting for San Chai and Wei Yi. They’re a bit late,” Xiao You replied, looking up at the man she had loved for so long.
Ximen sat down. He had been working for the past two years. There were no signs of him getting serious about any woman. All he had time for in his life was business, and garnering more Businessman of the Year Awards. Everyone had made a pact to ensure that Ximen wouldn’t injure his health again.
“Wei,” Xiao You murmured into the phone.
“It’s me,” San Chai murmured into the phone. “I can’t make it.”
“Is everything all right?” Xiao You asked in concern. “We’ve had this planned for a while. I know how much you were looking forward to seeing the guys; they have such a hard time making the time to get together like this.”
“It’s Wei Yi,” San Chai finally admitted. “I can’t come.”
“I understand. Call me if you need anything,” Xiao You said, before hanging up the phone.
“What’s the matter?” Ximen asked.
“San Chai can’t make it,” Xiao You said. “Something having to do with Wei Yi,” she quickly explained before anyone could ask questions.
Everyone nodded in understanding.
The rest of the afternoon went quickly.
She really didn’t get to see them all that often, and it was a good time to catch up and talk about all the things happening in their lives.
Jing and Lei were getting married in a month, and everything had been carefully planned to make this the perfect wedding day for the both of them.
Mei Zhou and Xiao Qiao were getting married soon after. It seemed that Mei Zhou no longer wanted to wait. They had dated. And now he wanted to make Xiao Qiao his own. Xiao Qiao had quietly agreed, voicing no protests.
And Ximen was Ximen. He had no plans of getting married anytime soon.
And her? She couldn’t marry until Ximen married. Her heart wouldn’t let her, not until she had proof positive that he could never be hers.
Xiao You sat in the living room of her apartment. She had just visited San Chai, and was now taking the time to unwind before going to bed.
The doorbell rang.
“Who is it now?” she murmured, looking down at her watch. It was 11:00 p.m. at night, and she could only think of one person that would come this late.
“What are doing here?” she asked, opening the door.
“I missed you,” he replied.
He gently pushed her aside, and stepped into the apartment.
“Were you waiting for me?” he asked her teasingly.
“What? No, of course not,” she protested. “Well—maybe,” she finally admitted.
“Good,” he murmured, planting a swift kiss on her lips.
“But we weren’t planning on being together tonight,” she said, pulling herself back from the kiss.
“I missed you,” he said quietly, picking her up and taking her toward the bedroom.
“Hey! Stop it,” Xiao You protested insistently as they entered the bedroom.
“You looked so sexy,” he murmured, “I couldn’t help myself.”
He laid her down on the bed.
And gently lowered himself next to her.
And then there was only silence. Silence broken by her moans and his harsh murmurs.
“I love you, Ximen,” she whispered into the night when she could no longer hold back the words.
There was no reply.
Here We Are
Xiao You suddenly woke up.
There was only silence. She turned to where Ximen had spent the night, and her eyes widened upon seeing him still in her bed.
He always left before morning, because he didn’t want anyone to see him leave. But . . . today was different. It was the first time he was sleeping next to her when she awakened.
He had never come before midnight before, wanting to hide their affair from prying eyes. But . . . last night had been different. It was the first time he had stepped into her home before midnight. She hadn’t known how to act
The silence was broken as he turned toward her, and put his arm around her, bringing her up against his body.
She snuggled close, not wanting the moment to end. His warmth was the most precious thing to her, but this couldn’t go on any longer.
Xiao You lay back, thinking about the moment everything had changed. The moment she had shown Ximen the billboard.
Ximen stood staring at the billboard, his eyes glued to the words that Xiao Gen had wanted to show him. He felt Xiao You coming up next to him, but his brief glance was blurred by the tears that had unwillingly welled up in his eyes.
His arm came around her to pull her close, but he was really only conscious of the words slowly disappearing. His eyes remained on the board until they had completely vanished.
For the first time he was really saying goodbye to Xiao Gen. For the first time, he felt that it was time to move on.
His gaze turned towards Xiao You. This amazing child woman, she had worked every night trying to find this. She had listened to his story, and had wanted to give him the closure he had never had with Xiao Gen.
She was so innocent, and yet . . . he couldn’t hold back anymore.
He leaned down, his gaze trained on her pouting mouth.
He kisses her. First in gratitude. But then it became something more. So much more. He couldn’t move away from those petal soft lips, and he realized that he didn’t want to.
His hands came up to cradle her face, as he went deeper into the kiss.
She moaned, as his urgent caresses seduced her into parting her lips. Silently, she invited him in, and he eagerly accepted the invitation.
“Ximen,” she gasped, finally pulling away from his drugging kisses.
“Xiao You,” he murmured, his eyes asking a question she couldn’t understand.
~*~*~*~*~*End of FLASHBACK*~*~*~*~*~
The next thing she knew, they had been in a hotel room. His hands couldn’t work fast enough to shed her clothes.
And then he was standing there in front of her. Naked.
As he had come to her, in bed, her arms had come up to wind around his neck, pulling him closer.
He had taken her virginity.
And in that moment, he had irrevocably taken her heart. She knew right then and there that she could never be anyone elses.
She delayed going home to Canada.
He took the week off from everything else.
And . . . they had their week.
The first day he had given her a peek into his life. He had taken her to Ying De. He wanted to show her his life . . . a life that was unconnected from her. They had spent the morning wandering around the campus.
But . . . none of the gang was around. She hadn’t noticed.
The next day . . . he had given her a commoner’s date. They had gone to an amusement park. He had enjoyed it far more than Ah Si had, and had even eagerly participated in planning how they would cover the entire park in one day.
It was only the two of them. She could only revel in their time together.
The third day . . . he had given her a romantic date. They had an intimate lunch and dinner. The menu was taken care of. Roses were strewn everywhere. Candlelight played across his golden skin, tempting her to touch him.
She hadn’t seen anyone else for three days now. It didn’t matter.
Day four . . . he had given her a carefree, one-day vacation. They went to Japan, and had spent the entire day shopping. He had thoroughly pampered her. She hadn’t known it was possible, but she had fallen just a little bit more in love.
He hadn’t invited anyone else on the trip. She had cherished their moments even more.
On the fifth day they’d taken a trip to the countryside.
The sixth day was spent all day in bed.
And the seventh day was . . . the most special of all. She had become depressed in thinking about the end of their week, and he had been so sweet. He tried every single way to make her happy. And then . . . when nothing else would work, he had made a confession.
“I have to admit I don’t want this week to end,” he murmured in her ear.
“It’s your policy, Ximen,” Xiao You said softly.
“Who said this policy was written in stone?” he asked, beginning to nibble on that same ear.
“There’s nothing we can do about it, Ximen,” Xiao You protested, pulling away. “I’m leaving Taiwan tomorrow, and that’ll be the end.”
“You don’t have to leave,” he offered quietly.
“Stay here,” he insisted. “I don’t want this to end. I want to be able to touch you whenever I need to. I want to see your smiling face whenever I get the urge. Don’t leave Xiao You,” he said, taking a deep breath.
“I . . . have to,” she finally said, turning away from the temptation he presented.
~*~*~*~*~*End of FLASHBACK*~*~*~*~
She had left the next day, and he had silently taken her to the airport. Just like he’d done the first time she had gone to Canada.
It took her three months to convince her parents that she would be all right in Canada. Her parents had agreed, but also decided to rent her an apartment near her aunt.They didn’t want her to get into trouble.
The day she had returned to Taiwan was the second happiest day in her life. The first being the day Ximen had admitted he wanted their relationship to continue.
When she had called him, he had been happy. She was sure of it.
At first he had insisted that they keep their relationship secret, because San Chai would kill him if she found out what was going on between them.
She had enjoyed the secrecy. They had a secret that no one else knew.
He was hers. Only hers.
He worshipped her body, as if it wasn’t just normal Xiao You’s body but a goddess’s. She felt so precious when she was with him.
But . . . he never said he loved her. Never.
He bought her gifts.
But there were no words of commitment.
Nothing about their future.
Nothing about moving in together . . . getting married . . . having children.
There were never any words of love. Never.
That lack made her feel insecure. It constantly poisoned their time together, and she exploded one night
“I want to tell them. I want to tell everybody,” Xiao You shouted, angered by his cold silence. “Why can’t you understand? This isn’t something that I’m ashamed of, so why can’t we tell everybody that we’re dating?”
“I told you, that San Chai would kill me if she found out about our relationship,” he grimly replied. “I don’t everyone getting mad at me for our relationship. This would only bring friction in our relationship with the others.”
“But why? If you tell them that we’re going to get married, then they won’t be angry . . .,” her voice trailed off as she encountered the look of incredulity in his eyes.
“Xiao You, I’ve never made false promises,” he said. “I’ve never said anything about a future together. I’ve never said anything about marriage. That’s not something I’m willing to do. Not even to have the right to continue enjoying your body.”
Xiao You blinked in shock. She was winded by the words she heard coming from this man’s mouth. She loved him. She thought that he had loved her, as well.
“Call me when you’ve calmed down,” he suddenly said, getting up to go.
“Ximen—,” she began to plead.
“There’s no use discussing this topic anymore,” he interrupted. “I can’t marry you. I won’t marry you . . . not even if you were pregnant with my child. So, don’t get any ideas like that.”
She winced, her eyes watering.
“Xiao You what’s wrong with enjoying ourselves? Why get bogged down by such things? Let’s just love each other and forget about everything else . . . I have a meeting right now, but call me,” he instructed, easily leaving her silent form behind.
“Love?” she muttered bitterly.
Today her eyes had been opened to the reality of their relationship.
There was no mutual love.
There was no future . . . no happiness together.
All she felt was pain and disgust with herself.
They’d been together for a year now, and she had become his mistress before she knew it.
And she was too weak to let go.
~*~Two Weeks Later~*~
“Wei,” his voice answered.
She hated herself at that moment. Hated her weakness. It had taken two weeks, but she had finally given in and called the man her mind and body both craved.
“Ximen, I’ve calmed down,” she murmured.
~*~*~*~*End of FLASHBACK*~*~*~
Their relationship, the thing that should have grown and flourished over time, remained the same.
He was content.
He bought her countless gifts.
He pampered her.
But they were only hollow gestures. Without the true emotions behind those actions, they became rewards for her sexual services.
Her hands clenched around his arm encircling her waist.
She looked down at his arm, and sighed.
It was time to end their relationship. She might not have been strong enough to leave Ximen on her own, but she now had more important things to think about.
There had been no contest, when she sat down to think about where her loyalties lay.
But . . .
She would miss him.
“San Chai . . .,” he shouted.
“Shut up, pighead! Can’t you see I’m sleeping?” she shouted back, irritated.
“Wake up! You need to wake up!” he shouted.
“What is IT?” she shouted, getting up to look around.
“Dao Ming Si? Where the hell did you go?” she shouted at the silence.
She rubbed at her eyes, trying to rub the sleep away.
He wasn’t there. He wasn’t anywhere.
He never was.
“Why did you have to do that?” she muttered to herself, wanting to beat herself for dreaming about him again.
“Wei Yi?” she said abruptly, not feeling him beside her.
“Wei Yi?” she shouted in a panic.
He had been sleeping next to her when she had gone to bed, but now she couldn’t see him anywhere.
If she lost him . . . like she had lost Ah Si . . . she didn’t think she could survive.
This was the only person she had loved as much as she had loved Ah Si.
“Wei Yi? Where are you?” she shouted in a panic.
“Here!” a voice called out.
He was safe.
“San Chai, you know how much I love you, right?” Ah Si murmured into her ear, blushing as he revealed the emotion.
“Yes, you’ve told me enough times since you returned,” she murmured, leaning up to kiss him shyly.
She shook her head as she felt the blood rush to her face.
They were the bold, loud leaders of their group. But she couldn’t believe how embarrassed and shy the two of them could get when they were trying to express their love physically.
She touched her lips, remembering the kiss he had given her after they had prayed at that church in Spain.
“Ei, pighead,” she murmured, bopping him on the head.
“What?” he asked, pulling back to look at her.
“Where did you learn how to kiss like that?” she suddenly blurted out.
“What?” he asked in a shocked voice.
“Where did you get the practice?” she repeated insistently. “Did you have another girlfriend before me?” she asked suspiciously.
“I . . ei, you stupid woman. I’m part of F4! How could you think that I wouldn’t have had girlfriends before? We’re very popular,” he answered.
She flinched. She had never though that he could have had a girlfriend. The way he had fallen in love with her . . . his every emotion revealed in his face . . . his desperate need to be with her . . . it had somehow felt that she was the first one.
“How could you love another woman the way you loved me?” she asked in a small voice. “I can forgive you for Yesha, but you had amnesia then.”
Her bottom lip began to tremble.
“Ei, San Chai . . .,” he began.
“How could you?” she shouted, launching herself at him.
She began to beat at him with her fists, wanting to inflict pain on him. How could he have so callously told her that he had other girlfriends? Did he think that it wasn’t a big deal?
“Ei, you stupid woman, stop! I was joking,” he shouted, trying to grab her flailing hands. He suddenly pulled her down into his arms, trapping her arms between her body and his prone body underneath her.
“I was joking,” he said softly. “Calm down. This Dao Ming Si has loved only you.”
She started to smile.
He leaned up to kiss her smiling lips.
He loved that smile.
He wanted to see it every day of his life.
“Marry me,” he blurted out, the words sounding harsh in the silence.
She froze on top of him.
“San Chai, marry me,” he repeated, realizing how much he did mean those words.
“I . . .,” she began, unsure of what to say.
They had just gotten back together.
But how could she say no?
They began to kiss, and her blood raced at the strong body against hers.
But something was bothering her.
“You didn’t tell me where you learned to kiss like that?” she argued, suddenly pulling away from his searching lips. “Was the proposal just to distract me?” she asked.
“How could you say that? You think my proposal was to distract you from the embarrassing questions you were asking?” he shouted back at her.
“Well?” she said, crossing her arms angrily over her chest.
. . . . . . . . . . . .
“I don’t want to say,” he finally said.
. . . . . practiced with . . . . . . .
. . . . . blow up doll . . . . .
. . . . . after I started liking you . . . . .
. . . . . Ximen and Mei Zhou suggested it . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
“I’m not talking to you,” he said sulkily, turning his back to her.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
“Good morning,” she murmured, to the figure standing quietly in the living room.
She reached out and wrapped her arms around Wei Yi.
“Where were you, Wei Yi?” she murmured into his ear.
He didn’t answer.
“I missed you,” she said, leaning in to kiss him.
He smiled, pleased at the contact.
“I had a dream about Dao Ming Si again,” she confessed. Her hand came out to touch his cheek.
“You know I don’t mean for it to happen, but I guess my subconscious is working some things out. I love you and only you. You have my first loyalty,” she promised, kissing him again.
She sighed happily, as he snuggled close to her body, seeking her warmth.
“I love you.”
“Hello,” Dao Ming Si said sleepily into the phone.
San Chai protested at the disruption of her peaceful sleep.
“I’ll take this in the other room,” he murmured into her ear. “Put the receiver back on the hook when I pick up out there.”
She nodded sleepily.
As she went back to sleep, she stiffened, and woke up completely.
He never took the phone in the other room. He always insisted that if he was going to get up that early, then she could get up with him.
Her hand reached out to grab the phone.
“—why are you telling me this?” he asked over the phone.
“Because you’re the father,” a woman answered over the line.
San Chai’s eyes widened in shock.
“Yesha, what are you talking about?” he demanded.
“Remember that night four months ago?” she asked quietly. “We woke up in the same bed. We pretended like nothing happened; I went along with it because I didn’t want you to feel guilty. The truth is something did happen. You wouldn’t take no for an answer, and this is the consequence,” she continued.
“I’m pregnant now, and you’re the father. Take responsibility,” she angrily said. “I wasn’t the only one in that bed.”
“Yesha, I’m with San Chai now. We’re getting married.”
“Your first responsibility is to your child,” she replied.
Suddenly, the phone was slammed down.
San Chai lay there, her eyes wet with tears.
Dao Ming Si had slept with Yesha.
He had slept with her after getting his memory back.
He had slept with her when he had known that San Chai was waiting for him.
He had slept with her, while San Chai had nothing . . . no one to comfort her.
He had slept with her and she was pregnant.
. . . . . . . . . . . .
He had betrayed her.
“You are responsible, Dao Ming Si,” Yesha muttered into the phone. “This is your child, too. I don’t care if you’re getting married. This is your child.”
She slammed down the phone.
. . . . . . . . . . . .
It had been two months since his proposal.
They’d spent every moment together, day and night. The night of his first proposal had been their first night together.
They were getting married in two weeks.
“San Chai. . ,” Dao Ming Si murmured, walking into the room. His eyes were fixed on the receiver in her hand.
“San Chai, I. . .,” he began, moving towards her.
“Leave,” she said, turning away from his entreating gaze.
He had slept with another woman, when he had known how much San Chai had loved him.
“Leave,” she repeated.
There was only silence.
San Chai had begun to have doubts the moment he had entered the room. This was Dao Ming Si. He was her love. He could never have betrayed her. He was the one who had loved her first.
Maybe Yesha was lying. Maybe . . . there was a good reason for this misunderstanding.
“Dao Ming Si . . .,” she turned around, wanting to ask him for reassurances.
There was no one there.
“Dao Ming Si!” she repeated loudly, getting up from the bed.
“Dao Ming Si?” she shouted in a panic.
She couldn’t see him anywhere.
If she lost him . . . she didn’t think she could survive.
She loved him so much.
“Dao Ming Si? Where are you?” she shouted in a panic.
He wasn’t there.
. . . . . . . . .
That said it all.
Yesha had been telling the truth.
“The results were positive. You are three months pregnant,” the doctor announced happily.
Xiao You, bent down, placing her head between her knees. The shock of the news had made her head so light, she was afraid that she would faint.
“Mrs. Huo, are you alright?” the doctor asked.
Xiao You ignored the voice buzzing against her ears, forgetting for the moment that she was Mrs. Huo.
“Mrs. Huo,” the doctor called insistently, coming over to gently shake her out of her shock. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” she finally said, taking a deep breath to calm her pounding heartbeat.
“I take it that this isn’t the best of news? . . . does this mean that you won’t be keeping the baby,” she asked delicately.
“I . . . of course I’m going to keep this baby. This is a part of me and the man I love. . . it was just a surprise. We took precautions.”
“Well, accidents do happen,” the doctor said briskly, returning to her side of the desk. “Do you have any questions?”
“The baby is healthy?” Xiao You asked worriedly, thinking about all the meals she had missed in the past few weeks.
“The baby is fine,” the doctor replied. “You have nothing to worry about, but please take care of your health. You’re a bit too skinny, that might put the baby at risk in the later stages,” she finished. “I’ll give you a list of what you should be eating and how much, and make sure to just follow the schedule set out in the papers, ok?”
“Fine,” Xiao You murmured, still trying to understand how it had happened.
They had been so careful. He had been obsessive about the contraception.
Would he even believe that the child was his? He had to. Of course he would. He had to know that she had never been with anyone except him.
She took the papers, paid for the visit, and turned toward home.
Her steps faltered as she left the clinic. No matter what his reaction would be, he deserved to know that he had fathered a child. He deserved a chance to change his opinion. She knew that he was frightened of screwing up his child the way his father had screwed his life, but she had to give him the chance to know his child. She loved him too much not to give him that chance. She knew that he would be a wonderful father if he let himself become one.
She turned toward his office. This was the kind of news he needed to know as soon as possible.
“I’m sorry, Ms. Yang, Mr. Ximen is busy. He can’t see you right now,” the secretary said.
“Did you tell him that this was important? Did you?” she asked in shock. She couldn’t believe that he would refuse to even see her. How could he do this to her?
Without even knowing why his mistress had broken his precious rules and come to his office, he was turning her way.
She got up. She had to see him. She didn’t care what he thought, but this was too important.
“Ms. Yang, you can’t go in there! He is in with someone right now,” the secretary exclaimed, trying to catch her before she entered his office
“Ximen, how could you—,” her voice suddenly deserted her. Her mouth opened. Closed. She couldn’t find any words.
He was with a woman.
That wouldn’t have been a problem . . . except she was in his arms, and he was kissing her as if there was no tomorrow. It was the kind of deep . . . passionate kiss that they hadn’t had for a long time. Now she could see why.
He turned at her voice. His eyes narrowed.
“I thought I told Mei Li that I was busy,” he said coldly. “Please leave Ms. Yang. I’ll speak with you later.”
She backed up, her hands frantically searching for the door behind her. Her eyes had filled with tears . . . she couldn’t even see him one last time.
She couldn’t even see him to say goodbye.
Her hands shook as she packed the most basic of necessities to escape the place where she had been his so many times. The apartment was his. Everything in it was his. She was taking only what she had brought with her.
Suddenly, the truth hit her. The reality hit her. He had only wanted her. She had no value beyond the power her body had held over him. It seemed that her body wasn’t enough, either. She suddenly began to wonder how many times he had betrayed her. She hadn’t even had the promise of fidelity.
Her hands clenched.
He would be coming home.
She couldn’t stay here. She needed to protect her child. She needed to protect him or her from the depravity of their own father. She needed to take her child far, far away.
She got up, and, shutting her suitcase, she left the room.
She quickly scrawled off a note, letting him know that she had left of her own free will. She did not want him looking for her. She made a call that needed to be made, and turned to go.
Her feet hesitated when she reached the threshold of the apartment. Xiao You knew that once she left, there would be no coming back. He would never accept a woman who had left him like this. She doubted that he would have wanted her to stay, seeing as how she had broken his rules.
But she had to do this.
Her hands came up to her stomach, and she imagined the child inside. She imagined it being born, growing up. He or she wouldn’t have a happy childhood with a father who didn’t want their mother or it.
She left, softly closing the door behind her.