AILYS 06 – 10

Chapter 6

A Picture Worth a Thousand Words

“What the . . .,” San Chai murmured, looking at the magazine. Her eyes widened as she saw the words underneath the picture.

Rrrrriiiiiiinnnnnnnngggggg.

“Wei,” she said into the phone, afraid of who would be on the other end.

“San Chai, hi,” Lei said.

“Lei . . . what is this?” she finally asked.

“I take it you saw the picture?” he gently asked.

“Yes! What is this? Why is there a picture of Wei Yi with me and F3 in the magazine?” she asked angrily. “This was the picture we took at your engagement party, and you insisted that you wanted one just with all of us. How could you allow this to be published in the magazine? What right—?” she began shouting.

“It’s my right as your friend . . .,” he replied. “Don’t you think that Dao Ming Si should know?” he finally asked after a moment of silence.

“Lei . . . it’s not any of his business,” she finally said. “He might not even see it,” she continued, comforting herself.

There was silence on the other end.

“I said, he might not even see it, right?” she repeated.

“I sent him a copy a few days ago,” he finally replied.

“What is wrong with you?” she blasted into the phone. “How could you do this to me? I told you that he left because he got Yesha pregnant. You’re the only one who knows this. Then how could you betray me like this, Lei?” she asked, her voice quieting down. “He’s married to her. He has a child with her. He won’t leave her.”

“San Chai, he needed to know about Wei Yi,” he replied. “And Ye-”

She slammed down the phone, not wanting to hear anymore.

How could he do this? How could he betray her confidence like this? He knew why Dao Ming Si had left, and yet he had still gone ahead and done it.

This might ruin everything. She hadn’t wanted him to know.

“Madam,” a voice murmured in the background. She turned to look at the woman standing at the door.

“Wei Yi . . . Wei Yi wants his mother.”

She sighed, looking down at the magazine.

The caption was most damning of all.

“Heirs to the top 3 corporations in Taiwan: Hua Ze Lei, Ling Mei Zhou, and Ximen Zhong Er Lang, pictured with Mu Ye San Chai and her child.”

She threw it down, wanting to forget the possible consequences of this picture and Lei’s actions.

She turned to the bedroom, eager to see him now that he had awakened from his nap.

She smiled, when she saw his face. His adorable face.

He was the most important person in her life.

And not just because he was Dao Ming Si’s son. He wasn’t just the son of the man she had loved with all her heart.

He was so precious. She had been so close to shutting herself off from the world, but he had made her want to live again. She loved him as much as she had loved Ah Si. And while Ah Si could never come back into her life, she had Wei Yi to lessen that pain. She had Wei Yi to love.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
“The results were positive. You are two months pregnant,” her doctor friend announced happily.

San Chai, 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.

“San Chai, are you alright?” she asked.

San Chai ignored the voice buzzing against her ears. She was trying her hardest to keep herself from fainting.

“San Chai,” she 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. “How could this have happened? It only happened once.”

There was silence.

“Forget I said that,” she said, putting her hands up to hide her burning cheeks. “Even I’m not that innocent.”

“San Chai, are you fine with this news?” her friend asked.

”How could I be fine? I’m unmarried. And I’m pregnant. With the child of the man who left me for another woman. And the worst thing of all, our kids will be only a month apart. She’s the one who has him,” she finished bitterly.

“Don’t you want this child?” her friend asked gently.

. . . . . . . . .

“I don’t know,” she replied quietly.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Of course, from the first moment she had seen him, she knew that she would love him. She knew that he would become the most precious one in her life.

She picked him up, cuddling him. He was 16 months old now, and he was growing by the day. Sometimes she wanted to hold onto him so tightly, not wanting to let him go.

But he was growing up. And one day she would lose him, too.

Rrrrrrriiiiiiiiinnnnnnngggggg.

“Wei,” she said, answering the phone.

“San Chai, hi,” Lei said.

“Lei . . . what is it now?” she finally asked.

“Ah Si called me,” he finally said. “He was shocked to say the least.”

There was a curious silence.

“He had no doubts?” she finally asked.

“Of course not. He knows you,” he said soothingly.

“Lei, what did he want?”

“At first, he couldn’t say anything. And then he wanted to know everything.”

“What did you tell him?” she asked worriedly.

“I told him you had Wei Yi 16 months ago. That you loved him, and protected him,” he said.

“What did he say?”

. . . . . . . .

“Lei, what did he say?” she repeated.

“He wants to see Wei Yi. He wants to see his son,” Lei finally admitted. “He wants to have a part in his life. He wants to be Wei Yi’s father.”

“Why did you have to do this? Why?” she asked angrily.

“San Chai . . . Yesha’s dead.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

She gagged once more, even though her stomach had emptied all its contents 10 minutes ago. This pregnancy was so hard; so draining that she found it hard to find the energy for anything else.

She sighed. She hated how petty she was being, but she resented this child sometimes. It only brought back memories of how close she had been to happiness, before it had all been snatched away.

“San Chai,” Lei said from behind her.

“Lei, what are you doing here?” she asked nervously, pushing hurriedly away from the toilet.

“Are you pregnant?” he asked abruptly.

“What are talking about?”

“This is the third time I’ve seen you run out of one of our get togethers,” he said. “And the third time I’ve seen you throw up.”

“Why didn’t you say anything before?” she finally asked.

“I thought you would tell me eventually. But you didn’t. You look so sick, and tired.”

She didn’t know what to say.

“It’s Ah Si’s baby?” he asked.

“Lei . . .,” she looked at him sadly.

“Isn’t it?” he asked again.

“Yes,” she finally admitted.

“Then, why isn’t he here with you? Why did he go back to Yesha?” he asked angrily. “Why?!!”

She felt so tired. She was tired of handling this all on her own. She wanted to talk to someone. To vent her bitterness, because she was afraid that if she didn’t, it would make her hate this baby.

“Yesha’s pregnant,” she blurted out.

. . . . . . . . .

“What?”

“She was pregnant. Ah Si got her pregnant. And he left me. Two weeks before our wedding,” tears had begun to flow down her cheeks.

“San Chai,” he murmured, coming to hug her closely.

“He left me and went to her. And I’m all alone. I’ll always be alone,” she finished brokenly.

“You’re not alone,” he contradicted her. “You have us,” he promised. “You have me.”

“What?” she asked in confusion.

“Marry me,” he blurted out, the words sounding harsh in the silence.

She froze in shock.

“San Chai, marry me,” Lei repeated, realizing how much he did mean those words. “Let me take care of you. You shouldn’t be alone at a time like this.”

“I . . .,” she began, unsure of what to say.

“Let me take care of you,” he repeated.

. . . . . . . .

The offer was really tempting.

“I can’t,” she answered.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

She was now surer than ever that she had made the right decision when she turned him down. Seeing him happy with Jing Jie, made her realize that they could never have been that happy together.

She sighed.

All her decisions up till now had been good.

She had said no to Lei.

She had kept Wei Yi.

She had ignored Ximen’s and Xiao You’s relationship, knowing that one day they would feel comfortable enough to tell them all about it. And that one day they would formalize their union.

“Give him another chance.” Lei had said that before he hung up.

His words resounded through her head. Give him another chance? How could she? How could she trust him again? He had broken her heart once . . .

She turned to her bedroom, making sure to safely put Wei Yi down in his cot.

She then began to frantically pack, wanting to be away before Ah Si returned. He had a few days warning, and he could already be on his way back. She had no thoughts of where to go, but she had enough money from a dead relative’s legacy to make sure that it was somewhere far away. She didn’t have to worry about work or shelter for the time being.

Rrrrrrriiiiiiiiiinnnnnnngggggg.

“What is it now, Lei?” she barked into the phone.

“San Chai . . .”

It wasn’t Lei.

Chapter 7

Empty Nest

He knocked at the door, not wanting to surprise her and make her even angrier.

There was silence. He knocked once more.

Only silence.

He took out his key, and opened the door. He walked inside, not wanting to be too intrusive.

This wasn’t the time to quietly walk away.

He knew that she was angry, but if he explained, she would understand. She had to. Otherwise . . . he didn’t want to think about the otherwise.

“It’s me,” he called out. “Could we talk?”

There was no response.

He looked around, but he couldn’t see her.

His footsteps echoed against the marble floor, the sound surprisingly loud in the empty hallway.

“Hey, I’m sorry. I know that you don’t want to see me right now, but please. We have to talk,” he urged the silent walls, hoping that she would overhear and come out on her own.

“Xiao You?” he called quietly. “Xiao You?” again, but louder this time. “Xiao You, where are you?”

It was quiet. Too quiet.

“Look I know that I embarrassed you today. But you trust me, right?” he called out.

There was no answer.

“You just came in at the wrong moment,” he continued into the silence, not wanting to question what it really meant. “She’s the daughter of a very important client. And she kissed me. I was just pushing her away when you walked in.”

No answer.

“Xiao You? Where are you? She’s the biggest gossip in Taiwan. And she doesn’t just reveal the gossip . . . she twists it to hurt the people it’s about the most. If I had reacted in any way . . . she would’ve torn you apart in society. And I know you could never have held your head up again. That’s just who you are. Look, if you’re hiding . . . I don’t want the world to see you as my mistress. That would only hurt you. I had to pretend today. I did it to protect to. Can’t you understand that?” he was almost pleading, without hearing the panic that was becoming increasingly apparent in his tone.

He froze, his eyes landing on the note.

A feeling of dread ran through him. This could not be a good thing.

His hands picked it up, unfolded it.

Ximen,

I have to leave. I don’t know why I ever thought this could work. Not only do you refuse to make our relationship public, you humiliated me today by ordering me out of your office. And most of all . . . you were unfaithful. I don’t know if I’ve ever had your fidelity, but while I could stand being your dirty little secret, I won’t stand sharing you with half the women in Taiwan.

Don’t look for me . . . I doubt you will. I don’t ever want to see you again.

Xiao You

His hands crushed the note, anger quickly replacing the shock that had come over him. She had the nerve to walk out on him? How could she? He had never lied to her. He had never deceived her, but she had left him because she was tired of being his “dirty little secret”. She had never been his dirty little secret.

But behind that anger, there was pain. Pain that he couldn’t afford to question too closely right now.

He quickly went into her bedroom. Her clothes were gone. Only the clothes that she had brought with her when she moved into the apartment he had bought for her. She had taken nothing that he had given her. Everything that he had bought her . . . she had abandoned. Just like she had abandoned him.

Her precious books, her photos, they were all gone. There was nothing in this apartment that gave even the smallest hint that Xiao You had ever lived here. The stuff left behind could’ve belonged to any woman.

Her essence was gone. And this place felt like an empty shell without her.

His hands clenched.

She should’ve given him a chance to explain.

He wasn’t like his father. He wasn’t. He saw how his father’s behavior had hurt his mother, and had sworn never to do that to any woman.

She knew that.

So, how could she accuse him of this? As long as he was with any woman, she would have his complete loyalty. He would never hurt a woman the way his father had hurt his mother. The way he had hurt his family.

She should’ve understood about that scene in his office. He had never given her reason to believe that he was unfaithful. She should’ve known that there would be some good explanation for his actions.

Come on . . . that woman hadn’t even been his type.

Xiao You . . . was the only type that mattered.

He could handle this. He had the money, the power, and the connections to find a needle in a haystack. And this was a living, breathing person. He would find her. And once he did, she would have some serious explaining to do.

He sat down on the bed they had shared on so many occasions. His gaze landing, unseeing on the pile of papers placed on the bedside table.

His gaze sharpened as he read the words printed on the top page.

. . . . . . . . . . .

His hand came up to loosen his tie, as he tried to catch his breath.

. . . . . . . . . . .

“Nutritional Dos and Don’ts for the Expectant Mother”

. . . . . . . . . . .

He had to find them.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

He knocked at the door, not wanting to surprise her and make her even angrier.

There was silence. He knocked once more.

Only silence.

He took out a key, and opened the door. He walked inside, not wanting to be too intrusive.

This wasn’t the time to quietly walk away.

He knew that she was angry, but if he explained, she would understand. She had to. Otherwise . . . he didn’t want to think about the otherwise.

“It’s me,” he called out. “Could we talk?”

There was no response.

He looked around, but he couldn’t see her.

His footsteps echoed against the marble floor, the sound surprisingly loud in the empty hallway.

“Hey, I’m sorry. I know that you don’t want to see me, but please. We have to talk,” he urged the silent walls, hoping that she would overhear and come out on her own.

He walked through the rooms of the house, searching for signs of her presence. For any sign of his son’s presence. The son that she had given birth to without him.

It was quiet. Too quiet.

“Look I know that I’ve hurt you, a lot. But please give me a chance to explain,” he called out.

There was no answer.

“I made a mistake, but it’s not what you think,” he continued into the silence, not wanting to question what it really meant. “I have . . . so many things to tell you. It would be easier if we could talk face to face.”

No answer.

“San Chai? Where are you? Answer me,” he called out desperately.

Rrrrriiiiiiinnnnnggggg.

“Lei, she’s not here. I can’t find her. Do you know where she could be?” Ah Si questioned.

“Ah Si, she’s gone. I thought that if you both had a chance to speak, that you could work this out. You’re my friend, and I wanted you to have the chance to watch your son grow, and be with the woman you love. But, she’s my friend too.”

“What did you do, Lei?” he demanded over the phone.

“I gave her a warning. I wanted to tell her about your arrival, so she could be prepared. If she had been surprised by you, she might have never forgiven us,” Lei explained.

“So, where is she then?” Ah Si asked worriedly.

There was silence.

“Lei, where is she?” Ah Si repeated.

“I . . . might have miscalculated. She didn’t take the surprise, too well. She said that she needed time to think,” Lei finally admitted. “She left you a note, and called me to help you find it. Knowing you, she said, you might never have found it.”

Ah Si closed his phone, and hurried into the room, and looked on her dresser. He froze, his eyes landing on the note.

A feeling of dread ran through him. This could not be a good thing.

His hands picked it up, unfolded it.

Dao Ming Si,

I had to leave. You know I did. You hurt me so much . . . the thought of you being with Ye Sha, of being a family together, while I was here all alone ate away at me. Going through this alone embittered me. You weren’t there when I went through the biggest moment in my life; I don’t know how you thought that you could just walk back into my life now. I’m not a nice person. I can’t forgive and forget.

We haven’t spoken for two years, and I would like for the silence between us to continue indefinitely. Don’t look for me. I don’t want you to feel obligated. Wei Yi is my son, and I will raise him alone. This isn’t your problem. It never was. So, just go.

San Chai

His hands crushed the note, anger quickly replacing the shock that had come over him. She had left even before they’d had a chance to talk? How could she? He needed to tell her the truth, but how could he do that if she wasn’t even here?

He remembered the euphoria that had been coursing through him when he had arrived here. The disappointment was so great now, that he couldn’t even think.

His eyes landed on a frame turned face down on the side table. He picked it up, wanting to get a closer look at his son.

It wasn’t Wei Yi.

His own face smiled back at him, standing next to San Chai. It was the picture they had taken in their wedding clothes, a few days before Ye Sha had called. They had been so happy. One hand clenched the picture, the other tracing her smiling face.

There was a soft noise behind him.

“Master Dao Ming, I’m sorry to intrude,” a voice called out softly.

“What is it?” he asked, turning to her.

“Xiao Mei is awake,” she informed him. “She’s getting tired of waiting in the car.”

“I see,” he replied.

“She wants to be with her daddy,” the nanny explained. “She feels very insecure after her mother’s death.”

. . . . . . . . . . .

“Bring her up,” he ordered.

“Sir?” she asked in surprise. “Aren’t we going to the mansion?”

. . . . . . . . . .

“We’ll be staying here for the time being.”

Chapter 8

Finding Her: Part I

‘It has been almost two years since she left here. Since she left her friends, her family behind. Since she left me behind. I’ve been searching for her so desperately, and I’ve found nothing.’

Where she is.

Whether she’s okay.

Whether she’s happy.

Sometimes it seems that she’s disappeared off the face of the earth.

. . . . . . . . . .

Dao Ming Si stared down at the pictures in his hands. She stood in one, dressed in the wedding gown they had bought for their wedding, and the smile just lit up her entire face. His fingers gently traced that smile. They could’ve been so happy, if only . . . if only he hadn’t believed Yesha. If only he hadn’t let her ruin their happiness.

The other picture . . . Wei Yi. His son. San Chai had given birth to him and raised him alone. His arms ached to hold Wei Yi in his arms. He wanted to touch him, to tell him who his father was. And as long as the detectives couldn’t find the two, he wouldn’t get that chance.

He had hired detectives, thinking that they could easily find a woman and a baby. But they hadn’t. Sometimes, when he was at his lowest, he wished that he hadn’t created that trust for San Chai. At the time he had created it, disguising it as a legacy from a dead relative, he had only wanted to take care of her. He had wanted to reassure himself that she wouldn’t need for anything. But that money had made it possible for her to disappear.

And he regretted that.

But for that money, she would’ve had to get a job. She would’ve had to give her name and identification. And he would’ve found her.

She didn’t want to be with him. She had chosen to run away from everything she knew, rather than being with him.

And he understood that. He understood that he had hurt her too much for her to forgive him so easily. But he couldn’t give her up. He couldn’t let her run away.

He loved her. He’d always loved her. Even when he had been holding Yesha’s hand in that delivery room he had loved her. And that was the one thing he couldn’t stop doing. And he would try his damndest to get her back.

But after the time he had spent away from her . . . in the time that he had been with another woman . . . in the time that she had been all alone her feelings could’ve changed. While he knew that he loved her, he could no longer be confident in her love. How could she ever trust him with her heart again? Her anger at his desertion could have easily turned that love into hate. Or, worse than that, it could have turned her love into indifference. It was then her running away gave him comfort. If it had been indifference she could’ve faced him easily with no discomfort.

He had to find her to tell her the truth . . . but what would he tell her? He HAD chosen another woman before her. He HAD left her alone without a backward glance. For a child that wasn’t even . . . he HAD left her alone to give birth to their son . . . to raise him alone. He had never looked back, not until Yesha’s death and Lei’s letter. Yesha’s death had freed him. But would San Chai allow him to return to her? He needed to tell her. While it might not make up for the time she had spent alone, but at least she would know that his heart had always been with her.

“Papa! Papa!” Mei cried out, running in. “Papa, I want ice cream, but nanny said no,” his daughter complained, toddling all the way into the room.

Dao Ming Si looked up at her nanny in the doorway and gave her permission to leave. He gently picked up his little angel and settled her into his lap.

“It’ll be dinner time soon. Nanny just doesn’t want you to spoil your appetite,” he explained, cuddling her.

“But Papa, one wittle ice cream,” she began to complain, and was distracted by the pictures in his hands.

“Papa?” she asked, putting her chubby little hands onto Wei Yi’s picture. “When will you find Ge?”

“Xiao Mei, I told you that he’s your younger brother,” he reminded her gently.

“I don’t care,” she shouted, pouting. “I want a Ge! He’s my Ge!”

He softly sighed, and leaned down to kiss her tousled hair. She was the only happiness in his life right now.

His eyes strayed to San Chai’s picture once more. Mei was bent down over the picture, gazing intently at her picture. Her smile hurt his heart.

What would he say when he met her again? Could he tell her that he loved her? That he wanted to be with her forever. That if she could trust him again, he would spend the rest of his life making her happy? Would he have the courage to say these words to a woman, who believed in his betrayal? Would she listen? He didn’t know. All he knew was that he wanted to be with her.

“Ba?” Xiao Mei interrupted his glum thoughts. “Ba, you said this was mommy?”

“Yes,” he replied, stroking her cheek. “She’s your mommy now.”

“Why isn’t mommy here?” she asked tearfully. “Doeth mommy hate me? Mommy isn’t coming back because she’th mad ath me, right?” she lisped out, her emotions evident in that lisp.

“Mei, mommy isn’t mad at you. I’ve told you. I made your mother mad. She’s angry at me, and that’s why she hasn’t come back. I promise you that I will find her for you,” he said, leaning down to kiss one plump cheek.

The phone rang shrilly in the now silent room.

“Hello?” he queried, after picking up the receiver.

“May I speak with Mr. Dao Ming Si?” a voice asked on the other end.

“This is Dao Ming Si,” he replied.

“Sir . . . we’ve found her.”

Chapter 9

Finding Her: Part II

‘It has been almost two years since she left here. Since she left her friends, her family, since she left me behind. I’ve been searching for her so desperately, and I’ve found nothing.’

Where she is.

Whether she’s okay.

Whether she’s happy.

Sometimes it seems that she’s disappeared off the face of the earth.

. . . . . . . . . .

Ximen stared down at the booklet in his hands. “Nutritional Dos and Don’ts for the Expectant Mother”. It was faded and crinkled now, but he hadn’t thrown it away. It was the only link that connected him to her. They had been together for over two years. Two years. It was hard to believe that he had no pictures of them together. He might tell himself it was to keep their affair a secret, but there were no pictures commemorating their relationship. It was as if they’d never had anything. And no one else had known, so he couldn’t ask anyone else for her pictures. His lips tightened, as his hands crumpled the booklet in his hands once more. NOT that he wanted any reminders of her. He was only looking for her so that he could get his child.

He had hired detectives, thinking that they could easily find a pregnant woman. How fast could she have traveled in her condition? But they hadn’t found anything; nothing in the two years without her. Now he wished that he hadn’t given her that extravagant allowance. She’d never used the money when he gave it to her, until the day she decided to disappear. While she had left everything he had bought for her behind, she’d taken the money. And he was glad that she had. He didn’t want her to be out there all alone, with no way to support herself through the pregnancy. But that money also made it possible for her to hide herself so thoroughly that no one could find her.

He couldn’t seem to relax. It was as if he had been tense for the past two years. He’d forgotten how to enjoy himself; he’d forgotten how to laugh. He’d forgotten how to perform. He hadn’t looked at another woman since Xiao You’s departure.

Did he love her? He didn’t know. Some days it was easy to be angry at her, to tell himself that he was only doing this to find his child. She/he was born now and out in the world. Without its father. And he didn’t even know his own child’s gender or name. She had run away, and she had made the decision to deprive him of a part in his child’s life. That made it incredibly easy to be angry. On other days, when the pain became too real, he couldn’t ignore the thought that maybe this was love. But the anger . . . drowned out any other thoughts most of the time.

What would he do if . . . when he saw her? Was he willing to marry her and remain with her for the rest of his life? Remaining with her was never the issue. It was never the problem. He knew, in the deepest recesses of his heart, the he couldn’t imagine life without her. She was the person that made it all bearable.

She made him happy, and she made the only other person important to him happy, also. She had made his mother so happy. He had never questioned why he had HAD to take Xiao You to visit her. He only knew that seeing the source of her son’s happiness would’ve made her truly happy. That was the night that Xiao You had told him that she loved him for the first time. He had secretly hugged those words to his heart. And he had never returned those words to her.

Marriage . . . marriage was the sticking point. He didn’t want to marry Xiao You and disillusion her the way his father had done to his mother. He didn’t want to be the center of any woman’s world, such that any indiscretion on his part would cause her world to come crashing down around her. But somehow . . . without trying . . . he had become the center of her world. And she became the center of his.

Even when she was the center of his world, he had never truly thought of her as his own. If he did . . . if he thought that he possessed her . . . then he would want to control her. To trap her in a place where she could only be his. He would have wanted to hide her from the world. And those thoughts scared him.

The thought that she had left him to protect the child from him tortured him at night. He couldn’t imagine that she would think him a danger to his own child, but that must’ve been the thought racing through her mind. Why else would she have left him? He needed to find her and to tell her how important she was to him. How important that child would be to him. But could he make the ultimate commitment? Could he risk it?

He looked around their bedroom; the one they had shared together. He’d stopped using it after her departure because there were too many signs of her everywhere. The scent that he had bought for her, the one that had reminded him of her the first time he had smelled it. Everything that he had bought her had been left behind. She had rejected him when she rejected his gifts. But now, he wondered if she had left it behind to remind him of her. So that her presence would be felt in this room to torture him with the constant reminder of her continued existence outside his reach? His hands clenched at the thought.

He needed to find them.

He needed to know that they were okay.

He needed to see her again.

He needed to see his child.

He would make any promise if it would bring them back.

The phone rang shrilly in the silent room.

“Hello?” he queried, after picking up the receiver.

“May I speak with Mr. Ximen Zhong Er Lang?” a voice asked on the other end.

“This is Ximen,” he curtly replied. “Sir . . . we’ve found her.”

Chapter 10

False Hope

His hands shook as he took the key out of the engine, and got out of the car. He looked toward the house, and resolutely began to march towards the door. The keys inadvertently fell from his hands, as the anxiety began to grow. He’d spent last night thinking about what he would say. Dawn had come, and he had still found no inspiration.

What would he say to her?

How would he convey all the feelings that were beginning to well up inside of him?

How would she look?

And how would their child look after all this time?

The thoughts were racing through his head. He couldn’t believe that he was so close to seeing her again. He could only imagine the look on her face.

He knocked on the door.

“Coming!” a voice called out from the other side. “Take care of him, okay?”

The door began to open.

“Xiao You,” he began, getting ready to fight her to get inside. “I need to talk to y—.”

“Ximen?” a surprised voice shouted, as the door fully opened.

“S-San Chai? What . . . why are you . . .,” his voice trailed off, the disappointment evident.

His eyes traced her features. He remembered the look that had constantly been in her eyes after Dao Ming Si had gone. There had been so much grief. But now there was only happiness, joy shining through her. She looked older. San Chai had grown up. But she still looked beautiful. And most of all, she looked content. It didn’t appear that she was suffering without Ah Si.

“Ximen, why are you . . . you still look the same,” she murmured reflectively. “Exactly the same. I would’ve thought two years would’ve wrought same changes,” she mused. And then her gaze sharpened.

“Why are you here, looking for Xiao You?” she asked. Her calm, and her smile, had disappeared. “I thought she was back in Taipei with you?”

His mouth opened and then closed.

“With me?” he asked.

“I . . . I knew about you two,” she admitted.

“About us?”

“Your relationship,” she explained. “I knew about it.”

“Why didn’t you ever say anything?” his voice rasped.

“Because I didn’t feel it necessary to interfere. You made her happy,” she replied softly. “Even later . . . when something happened between you two, she was still happier with you than she could ever have been with anyone else.”

“Did . . . can I come in?” he asked abruptly, stepping into the doorway.

She reluctantly nodded, and moved aside to let him in.

“Come into the kitchen with me. I was cooking when I heard you banging on the door.”

He followed her into the kitchen, and sat at the counter. She went back to cooking and ordered him to continue.

“Did Xiao You ever say anything about us?” he finally asked.

“She never voluntarily mentioned your relationship. I just knew when you two made the decision to be together. She was so anxious when she returned from Canada to stay in Taiwan. And then, suddenly, there was this glow about her. The same glow that I saw in you. So, of course I knew. But one time, I don’t know, a few months into your relationship there was this sadness in her eyes. I asked her about it. And she wouldn’t say anything until I threatened to come to you for answers. She relented, but would only say that she didn’t know if it would work out between you two. I asked her to end it with you if she had so many doubts. But she refused; she said that she would only leave you if you forced her away. I’m guessing she left you. That’s why you’re looking for her, aren’t you?”

“I . . . yes, I did something that made her believe that I was cheating on her,” he admitted, looking down. “I wasn’t, but I did have to kiss someone in front of her,” and flinched as San Chai’s hand came up to smack him on the head. “Ow! What the hell, San Chai!” Ximen shouted.

“You didn’t need to kiss anyone,” she furiously declared. “That’s for the pain you put Xiao You through. I can’t believe you did that Ximen!”

. . . . . . . .

“Ximen, why are you looking for her now?” she finally asked, sighing. “I don’t know why she left you, but she made her decision. You have to respect it,” she informed him.

“I can’t stop looking for her. San Chai . . .,” he stopped.

“Because you love her,” she asked cheekily.

“No. Y—no,” he replied. “I care about her, but this isn’t about that. She was pregnant when she left,” he quickly explained. “And I owe it to my child to find out where he/she is.”

“What about Xiao You?” she asked. “Don’t you owe her anything?”

Ximen’s lips tightened. And anger sparkled in his eyes. He looked away from San Chai’s questioning gaze.

“Ximen?” she insistently asked, coming over to place a hand on his shoulder.

“She left me,” he softly replied. “I don’t owe her anything.”

San Chai stiffened, and moved back.

. . . . . . . . .

“I think it would be best if you left,” she firmly said. “But I’d appreciate it if you didn’t tell Dao Ming Si where I was. I doubt that he’s looking for me. In fact, I hope that he isn’t, but on the off chance that he is . . . don’t let him know where I am. It would only hurt him.”

“Wh—,” he began.

“Anyways, why are you here? Why did you find me?” she finally asked.

“What do you mean?”

“How did you mistake me for Xiao You?” she asked impatiently.

“I’d hired detectives, I’m sure you’ve guessed that. But since you and Xiao You left on the same day, I guess they got confused. Your description does match Xiao You’s.”

“Well, as you can see I’m not he. . . wait a minute. You’re saying Xiao You left the same day I did?” she asked.

“Yes. I’d just found out about Xiao You, when I got the call from Ah Si. He wanted to ask me if Xiao You had heard anything from you. That’s when we realized. I’d even hoped that you had left together, and that she wasn’t alone and pregnant,” he admitted gruffly.

“She did call me that day,” San Chai murmured, trying to remember. “I was so intent on leaving that I didn’t even realize something was wrong. I knew she wanted to talk, but I told her I’d call her later. I never did.”

She turned to glare at him.

“San Chai, I . . . ,” he began.

“This is all your fault. You were dating for two years; you were having an affair. She probably told you she loved you, and you still weren’t willing to publicly accept her as yours. You weren’t willing to make that commitment, were you?” she demanded. “When Xiao You loves, she gives wholeheartedly. You took everything, and gave nothing back except for grief and shame.”

“San Chai, I’m willing to make that commitment now,” he assured her.

“Why? Because she’s having your baby?” San Chai fired back. “You even admitted that you were doing this for your child. That you owed her nothing. Why would she take you back now? She sacrificed her values, her sense of self for you. And you weren’t even worth it,” she ground out in disgust. “Just leave. I don’t want to see you or your F3 buddies around here.”

. . . . . . . .

“I can’t explain to you what my relationship with Xiao You was,” he admitted. “In fact, I don’t owe you any explanations. But I have to warn you, I’m going to tell Ah Si where you are. I know what he’s been feeling, how desperately he’s been searching for you. If I can give him some peace of mind, I’ll do it. And I will continue to search for Xiao You,” he grimly stated, turning to go toward the door.

“Ximen!” San Chai called out, as he opened the door. “I’m telling you, this will only hurt Ah Si more.”

“He’s been searching for you for two years now. Why would finding you hurt him?” Ximen demanded, turning to look back from the porch.

“Mommy! Mommy! Sis is crying again,” a young voice cried out.

San Chai turned towards the source of screeching.

“Wei Yi, what’s going on?” San Chai demanded.

“She’s crying, and she smells. And daddy is too busy to help,” Wei Yi replied, coming to grab onto her leg. When he noticed Ximen, he quickly moved behind San Chai’s body. His eyes peeked out from behind her.

San Chai smiled, and gently mussed his hair before turning to look at Ximen.

“This is why,” she explained. “It’s too late. I’ve moved on Ximen. I have another child, and I’m finally happy. Wei Yi has a father, the only father he knows. Do you really want to hurt Dao Ming Si like this?” she asked softly.

He stared back at her quietly, unsure of what to say.

“I wish you luck on your search,” she finally murmured, gently closing the door in his face.

2 thoughts on “AILYS 06 – 10

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