EYR 06 – 10

Chapter 6

WHAT TO DO?!!

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Xiao You looked at the building in front of her. It was huge. She nervously wiped the sweat off her hands, running them down the back of her slacks. She had called the number on the card; it had been surprisingly easy to get an interview.

She slowly walked into the building, telling herself, “Deep breaths, Xiao You. Deep breaths. You can do this. Jia You.”

She walked up to the reception desk, and gave her name to the receptionist.

As she stood there, waiting to get a response, she reflected on the soul searching that had finally gotten her to this point. It had been difficult to face her future options with a practical frame of mind. She had had to overcome a lot of her misgivings, but in the end her warrior’s spirit had risen up, and she had chosen to grab this opportunity.

“Ms. Yang,” the receptionist called her name. From the exasperated look on her face, Xiao You guessed that she had been calling her for a long time. Xiao You smiled at her sheepishly, and looked at her enquiringly.

“You can go up to the president’s office. He will be conducting your interview.”

Xiao You looked at the reception in shock.

“The president? Why would the president of this company be interviewing me? Is something going on here I don’t know about?” Xiao You’s began to babble on, trembling nervously. For the life of her she couldn’t understand why the president would interview her personally.

“Ms. Yang, if you would just follow that gentleman to the office, I’m sure all your questions will be answered.”

Xiao You looked to where the receptionist was pointing, and saw a security guard waiting for her. She looked back at the receptions, and then, shrugging her shoulders, she turned to follow the guard.

Once she reached the 60th floor of the skyscraper, she slowly followed the guard to the grand doors at the end of the hall. The guard opened the door and motioned her in. “This way miss,” he requested.

When Xiao You entered the room, the guard closed the door behind her. The sound of the door closing in the silent room was deafening.

Xiao You looked herself, and then slowly walked to the desk in the center of the room.

“Excuse me, sir?” she asked the figure in the chair. The chair’s back was to her, and she could not see who it was.

“Good afternoon, Ms. Yang. Please have a seat,” a deep voice answered in reply.

Xiao You sat down, and looked around herself. She was fascinated by the opulence around her. The last time she had been surrounded by such richness was Teng Tang Jing’s party. But, no, that wasn’t true. She had been to Ximen’s house twice after that. She guessed that that was something her mind wanted to forget, because both times she had momentous occasions in her life that were closely linked with pain.

A picture caught her eyes. The smiling faces in the frame made her smile in response.

The chair slowly began to swivel around. Xiao You sat at attention. She suddenly faced the man from the café. She suddenly found it hard to breathe. She hadn’t realized how tense she was until she had to face the reality she had been hoping to avoid. Now, facing what she had feared most, she realized that she was in no position to handle this.

Xiao You quickly got up. “I’m sorry,” she cried in a soft voice, “I don’t know what I am doing here. I don’t want to waste your time. I’ll just leave.” She hurried to the doors.

“Wait a moment, Ms. Yang,” the man commanded her. “We haven’t even conducted the interview yet. I assure you I’m not that bad of a boss,” he continued teasingly.

“Please, sit down,” he ordered.

Xiao You sat down. She stared at the man in front of her. She had had no idea that the man at the café was the president of this company. She had no idea that the man from the café was President Ximen. She had no idea that the older gentleman from a week ago was the father of the man she loved. And she had no idea that when she grabbed at this opportunity, that it would thrust her into Ximen’s life once more.

(Yes, the pictures on the desk were of Ximen and his mother.)

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Xiao You walked out of the building in a daze. Her mind seemed to have trouble working. She smiled happily as she thought back to past few minutes. She had gotten the job. The company had offered her full time work, promising her that they would work around her school schedule, so that she could continue her education. She thought about the anxiety she had gone through to make this decision, and realized that she had made the right decision.

* * — * * FLASHBACK* * — * *

Xiao You stared down at the card in her hand. It said “Ximen Enterprises” and in smaller script it said “CompCan”, with a number at the bottom. Her fingers traced the Ximen name. Although she didn’t know if this Ximen Enterprise was related to HER Ximen’s business, but her heart raced nonetheless at this possible connection with Ximen.

When she got home she raced upstairs to her trusty computers to investigate farther. As she typed in the company’s name, she wavered between hoping and dreading the answers she would get. While she had accepted that her dreams of being with Ximen would never be fulfilled, she didn’t know how she would feel if she became connected to him in this way. If she did, she could never escape being bombarded by constant thoughts of him.

Her eyes widened as she read the information on the sites that had popped up.

Ximen Enterprises was the Canadian branch of the larger Ximen Group of companies all over the world, with their central headquarters in Taiwan. She continued to read the information. This Canadian branch had been acquired in the past three months, and President Ximen had left his son in charge in Taiwan, while he came here to personally take charge of this branch. The move had surprised many industrialists. They wondered why President Ximen would leave the seat of authority to settle on this little offshoot.

President Ximen had been in Canada for the past two months. Seemingly, he had had no contact with anyone back in Taiwan.

Xiao You sat back after she had finished reading. She didn’t know what to think. She had gotten this great job opportunity, but she couldn’t take it . . . Could she?

She knew that thoughts of Ximen would pursue her all day long if she worked with the company, but this could help her with her future. Sure she might see Ximen’s father sometimes, and be reminded of Ximen . . . of how he would look in the future . . . of how distinguished he would be . . . of how she would want Ximen, even when she turned old and gray . . . of how it would feel to be with him for the rest of her life . . . .

“Okay, Xiao You, snap out of it. You need to think about this carefully. You have this great opportunity. Just because it has the Ximen name attached to it, that doesn’t mean you can’t grab it. Ximen won’t be coming to this side of the world anyways. He would never presume to question his father, would he? Since President Ximen is in charge here, Ximen would never need to come here. And since his father is the President, it’s not likely you’ll see him, right? So, the chances of meeting anyone with the name Ximen are practically nil.”

As the thoughts raced around in her head, she had realized she only had one choice. She wanted the job, and so she called.

How was she to know that not only would she Ximen’s father, but she would also be hired to work directly with him?

* * — * * End of FLASHBACK * * — * *

Xiao You laughed softly, as she raced home. She couldn’t wait to tell her parents the good news.

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President Ximen had been working with Xiao You for the past four months. While most of the time she had been working down in the trenches, learning about computers, but he was mentoring her as well.

She had reminded him of his wife the first time he had met her so many years ago (his wife, not Xiao You). Her awkwardness, her shy nature, had reminded him of what had attracted him to his wife. Whenever he was around her, he was reminded of the pure innocence that had been in Xiao Ning’s character before he had despoiled her, and made her bitter.

He remembered back to when he had handed Xiao Ning the divorce papers. Her eyes had held shock. But he felt that there had been a glimmer of happiness as well. His love had tainted her existence. He felt the only way he could make it up to her was by releasing her completely. He wanted her to be happy. It was only his selfish love that had persuaded him to keep her close for all these years. It was time for her to be happy.

In a small way, in order to assuage his guilt, he had taken Xiao You under his wing, and taught her to be more comfortable in her own skin. He didn’t question her choice of attire, nor did he pressure her to change. He taught her to fight back, and to be more forceful in making her opinions clear.

Whenever he saw the changes his mentoring had brought into Xiao You’s character he would smile. While she still wore those horrendous glasses, and seemed addicted to oversized clothes, she had begun to walk with a confident stride. She would walk with her head up. Once or twice he had even heard her raise her voice when people weren’t listening to her. More often than not, she was right.

They had become close over the past few months. He had begun to take an interest in her personal life. He would gently advise her to go out and have fun. To date, and act like other young adults. Xiao You would only smile, and ignore any advice he gave her on dating.

Xiao You had found out that President Ximen was here after his divorce, and wanted to get away from everything. He had chosen this place on a whim. In reality, he had seen pictures of Canada in Ximen’s office when pondering over where to go to escape the reality of his impending divorce.

Xiao You had gotten closer to President Ximen. She had even started calling him Uncle in her mind. She had found out where Ximen got his sweet nature. He cared for her; he cared enough to advise her on her personal life.

She wasn’t a naïve girl, she knew about Uncle’s past. Her trusty internet searches had revealed his numerous liaisons. She now knew where Ximen had gotten THAT particular habit as well. While she loved the fact that he cared, she politely ignored any advice he gave her on dating. His track record in love wasn’t that great.

But, she saw the man beneath the public exterior, and she saw that he was hurting. So, whenever she was working with him, she tried to be as cheerful as possible. She wanted to make him happy. She felt like she was helping Ximen in a small way by doing this.

All through their conversations, she didn’t tell him about her past. She did feel guilty about it. There was nothing she could say that wouldn’t make the sticky situation between her and Ximen even worse. All he knew about her past was that she came from Taiwan, and that her family had immigrated to Canada a year ago.

Xiao You turned 21, and received a degree in computers. Her job had helped her a lot in acquiring her degree even sooner. The day she had graduated she felt so happy. As she ran to hug her parents, who had tears in their eyes, she thought that she saw the back of Uncle leaving the grounds.

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That night Xiao You received a call from the hospital. Uncle had had a heart attack while returning from some sort of ceremony. When she got to the hospital, she could hear President Ximen’s voice reverberating through the hallways. It seemed that although he was sick he wanted to return to Taiwan.

Xiao You was saddened by the thought of him leaving. When he left, she realized, she would lose her only link with Ximen. Although he was her link to Ximen, she had come to like him in his own right. He was a good man, a kind man, who had taken the trouble to help a young, awkward girl. Never once had he become angry with her over the numerous daily mistakes she used to make.

When she entered to the room, she was shocked to hear Uncle say, “I plan on leaving tomorrow, and I want Rainie to go with me.”

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I promise that Ximen and Xiao You will be meeting pretty soon. Hey, they’re going to Taiwan tomorrow, so that meeting can’t be too far off, right? I hope you guys liked the update. Sorry for any typos. Please leave comments.

Chapter 7

The MEETING?

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It was quiet in the room. Suddenly, the ringing of the telephone broke the silence.

“Hello,” a deep voice answered.

The person listened to whatever was said, and replied, “Okay, I’ll be there. Thanks.”

He got up from the desk and walked towards the doors. As he reached them he began to hurry, his movements revealing his anxiety about reaching his destination on time.

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Xiao You sat in the airplane as it taxied to as stop on the runway, and patiently waited for the doors to open. Uncle was sitting next to her, engrossed in his papers. She thought back to what had transpired in the past few days. She couldn’t believe she was returning to Taiwan, and with a Ximen no less.

—FLASHBACK—

Xiao You had hurried into President Ximen’s hospital room. It was only when she raced to his side, did she even begin to think about the possibility of Ximen being there. After all this was his father.

She glances furtively around the room, and found no one except for the shouter. It had turned out that the shouter was actually President Ximen’s trusted secretary. He was loyal to his master, but had a tendency to shout at people whenever he got nervous. For some reason President Ximen had put up with that personality defect and had learned to calm him down. That was something that Xiao You found very sweet.

Xiao You quickly shook her head to clear her heads of the distracting thoughts, and turned to the man lying in the hospital bed. He didn’t look sick, but she was worried nonetheless.

“Uncle, are you okay? What happened? I got this call that you had a heart attack? How can you be demanding to go to Taiwan tomorrow when you are in this condition?” her eyes were filled with worry, and she couldn’t control her tongue.

It was only when she ran out of steam that she realized what she had called him. She looked at him, horrified at treating him informally. She waited for him to get angry.

President Ximen just smiled at her.

She smiled back, and then opened her mouth to ask her questions again, since no answers had been forthcoming.

He raised his hand to silence her.

“I am fine. It was a very mild attack, and doctors have told me that I can return to Taiwan in a few days. I was just exaggerating about tomorrow.”

He looked at her, and thought about how she had called him uncle a few moments ago. The only family he had in the world consisted of his sons now. One had run away so long ago, and the other had hated him for so long. The growing bond between him and Er Long was still too fragile for him to rely on. He didn’t want to presume anything.

Rainie was someone that he had come to love as a daughter. In another life she could have been his daughter. She had all the best qualities of Xiao Ning: her grace, her sweetness, her purity, and her stubbornness. She also had his determination and intelligence. He wanted her to be there for him.

“Rainie, I want you to go with me to Taiwan. I know that this is asking a lot, but I hope that you will agree. This trip won’t be a total waste, if you would like we can place you at the central headquarters of the Ximen Group, and you could learn about the business side of things.”

Xiao You’s eyes widened in horror. She began to shake her head no, and continued to do so for a loooong time.

“I could never work at the Ximen Group. Look at me, President Ximen, I would never fit in.”

“Why are you calling me President Ximen? Whatever happened to Uncle?”

Xiao You blushed at this. “I am sorry about that.”

“Don’t be,” he commanded, “I liked it. Now, what’s wrong with you? You have intelligence, perseverance and the desire to learn. And one should always start at the bottom to learn about how a company works, don’t you think. It teaches a person humility. You already have what it takes to make it. Why wouldn’t you fit in?”

Xiao You pointed at herself. Her outfit for the day consisted of baggy jeans, a long-sleeved shirt, and a bulky jacket over that. The huge frames of her glasses half concealed her face, and her bangs hung down in her face obscuring the top half of her face completely.

President Ximen nodded, conceding her point. He decided not to pressure her for right now.

“Well, then why don’t you just go back with me?”

“What could I do for you, Uncle? How could I be of any help? You have a lot of staff, and they could fulfill any needs that I could even dare to help fulfill.”

President Ximen looked at her. He had no idea that her self-esteem was so low. He now realized that Rainie didn’t even know her own worth. He vowed to help her become confident in herself . . . AFTER he convinced her to go with him. He himself didn’t know why he wanted her to be there, but he knew that he would miss her.

They had gotten close in the past few months. The sad thing was that he felt he could ask her for her help, even when he couldn’t ask his own son. But he knew that this was his own fault. His mistakes had brought the Ximen family to this point, and it was his unhappiness that had had such a long lasting effect on everyone concerned.

He wanted her to go with him, and he wanted her to be around while he was recovering from this incident. The doctors had told him that he would recover after a month’s rest, and he wanted to recuperate in his homeland.

“Please, come with me,” he repeated.

Xiao You’s eyes filled with tears. This proud man was asking for her help, and had bent enough to say please. She didn’t want to see him bend. Not only was he an elder, but he was also Ximen’s father. She wanted to help him in any way that she could.

“Of course, I’ll go,” she promised.

As she saw relief flood his eyes, she knew that there was no going back.

—END OF FLASHBACK—

Xiao You had talked to her parents that night. Her parents were grateful for all the help that President Ximen had given their daughter. They were grateful for the happiness they now saw in their daughter’s eyes. They agreed to let her go for however long she was needed.

The Yangs only knew him as the owner of a medium-sized firm, CompCan. They didn’t know about his connections to the Ximen Group. Xiao You had kept that a secret, because her father still fostered a grudge against all powerful people. He had not forgotten what Dao Ming Feng had done for him.

Xiao You had no school, and had nothing to worry about except getting her traveling papers ready. She had packed in the next two days, and they had left Canada by the end of the week.

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As they exited the plane, Xiao You walked closely to President Ximen. The noise and humidity hit her like a slap in the face. She had gotten used to the cold weather of Canada, and she had come to enjoy the quietness of her solitude. This was like a rude awakening.

Uncle put out a hand to hold her arm above the elbow, sensing that she was uncomfortable in this environment.

To the man standing in the doorway of the VIP lounge, they looked like a couple. He noticed President Ximen’s eyes looking down at the woman lovingly. He noticed how she looked up with a quick smile and a nod. His eyes narrowed in contempt.

As they entered the VIP lounge, President Ximen asked Rainie, “Are you alright?”

Xiao You relaxed as soon as they left the noise behind, and sighed as the cool air of the air conditioner hit her face.

“I’m fine. I guess I’m just not used to this anymore. What a difference a year can make, huh?”

As the man looked more closely at the two, he realized that something was wrong here. The “woman” did not look like President Ximen’s usual fare. She was too unsophisticated, too much of a nerd, too . . . young? He could only guess her age since her face was covered with glasses and bangs.

He began to walk towards them. President Ximen was facing him, while the woman now had her back towards the newcomer. President Ximen looked up and saw him, a smile broke out over his face. He looked down at the woman and spoke to her.

“Someone is here to greet us.”

As she turned to look she tripped over her own shoelaces and began to fall. Letting out a yelp she closed her eyes, and braced herself for the fall. Before she could hit the floor she felt herself being caught in someone’s arms.

Xiao You looked up at the person who had caught her. She tilted her head far back, but couldn’t see the face clearly. She could hear his heart beating, beating fast, from where her head was resting on his chest. His arms cradled her like a lover’s. His warmth invaded her body. She fought the urge to snuggle closer into his arms.

His scent slowly engulfed her senses, and she then knew without being told, without even seeing, that it was Ximen who had caught her.

To be continued . . .

Chapter 8

Meeting – Part II

She was finally in his arms.

Xiao You took a deep breath, and quickly pulled away.

“I’m sorry,” she mumbled, making sure to keep her head down. She took a quick peep at Ximen when she thought he wasn’t looking.

Her heart was beating fast, she was breathing fast. It was as if she had lost control of her body. It was still trembling from the sensation of being in Ximen’s arms.

Ximen looked down at the woman. When she was in his arms he had discovered that she was undeniably a woman. Her body had fit with his as if they were two pieces of the same puzzle. For some strange reason his heart had begun to beat fast, and he had felt hers beat in unison with his.

Ximen took a deep breath to calm himself. His eyes took in the scene before him.

His father had stepped forward to place his arm around the shoulders of the young woman. He bent down to whisper something to her, and she nodded her head in agreement. He waited for them to speak.

“Er Long, I am so glad to see you here. I didn’t know that you would be coming.”

“I heard about your heart attack, and I was worried. So I had my secretary find out when you were coming home.” He then looked at his father, waiting for him to respond.

“It was only a small problem. The doctors told me that it wouldn’t have any long-lasting effects. Don’t worry.”

As Xiao You shifted under his arm, he was reminded of her presence.

“I would like for you to meet Ms. Rainie Yang. She is an employee of mine at CompCan, and agreed to return to Taiwan to help me to recuperate.”

“Rainie, this is my son Ximen Zhong Er Long.”

“How do you do?” Xiao You greeted him, and held out her hand.

Ximen looked at the outstretched hand, and then at the arm that was around her shoulders. It was obvious that he didn’t want to touch her.

He was angered by his father’s behavior. The old man had just had an attack, and yet here he was back to his old tricks. Rainie Yang did not look like his father’s type, but he couldn’t deny the proof in front of his eyes. They had some sort of relationship, something that went beyond mere employer-employees. There could be no other explanation for their affections for each other.

Ximen finally held out his hand. Xiao You breathed a sigh relief when he grasped her hand after the long silence. She had begun to feel uncomfortable, not knowing what was racing through Ximen’s mind as he contemplated her hand.

Their hands met, and their hearts begin to beat quickly. Ximen felt a spark move through his body as skin touched skin. His thumb feathered out caress the back of her hand. Her skin was soft, and cool to the touch.

Xiao You’s hand felt so small and fragile in his grip. She let her hand enjoy the sensation of touching him. Her fingers reveled in the warmth his hand offered.

While shaking hands, Ximen continued looking at his father waiting for him to speak. Xiao You kept her head down. Both were lost to the fact that their continued hold on each other looked strange to the spectator taking it all in.

President Ximen looked at their hands and at their faces. He saw how unaware they were of their subconscious need to stay in contact. An idea grew in his mind. He decided that he would ensure that they would have every opportunity to stay in contact. He had never hoped that his son would be attracted to someone like Rainie, but he could now see their undeniable attraction to each other. Something was going on here.

“Ximen, son, why don’t you let go of Ms. Yang’s hand. I think she might want it back now.”

Ximen and Xiao You simultaneously looked down, horrified. They snatched their hands away from each other, neither believing that they had unconsciously held on for so long.

“If you would excuse me, I need to go to the bathroom,” saying this, Xiao You raced off to hide herself in the lounge restroom for a while. She could not believe what had happened. Her mind began to imagine how Ximen must have felt when she didn’t let go of his hand. She tried to remember if he had tried to tug his hand away, but she had been too caught up in enjoying the sensation of skin-to-skin contact. As she entered the bathroom, she let out a muffled scream, trying to let out all of her embarrassment.

Ximen stood in front of his father, blushing. He couldn’t believe that he had been reacting to his father’s mistress that way. He felt disgusted with himself and vowed to stay away from her as much as possible.

“Why do you need her? Don’t you have enough of a staff here, that they could take care of you?”

“I don’t want them. I want her to take care of me. Why, is that a problem?”

President Ximen looked into his son’s eyes, and realized what Er Long was thinking. He shook his head in denial, but he realized that his previous behavior had opened the door to this kind of misunderstanding.

“We’ve been working together for the past few months. She has become like a daughter to me. I didn’t want to bother any of you, so I asked her to be there for me. She herself calls me Uncle, and has agreed to come with me. She’s a nice girl, and I want you to treat her with respect, Er Long.”

In a few moments, Ximen’s disgust turned into jealousy. He had hated his father in the past, but after learning the truth he had thought they had begun to get closer. Yet, here he was asking a complete stranger to help him, rather than asking his own son. He looked at his father, and then nodded, without saying anything.

The two men, father and son, stared at each other. They were distracted by a small, embarrassed cough from the corner. They turned to look at Rainie walking towards them, her head bowed.

She came up to them, and quietly stood there. Ximen stared at her, wanting her to tilt her head, and push her hair back so that he could see her face. He wanted to see her, to see the face of the person who had so unwittingly captured his attention.

She reminded him of HER, but she couldn’t BE her. Xiao You wouldn’t have pretended to be a stranger; she would have walked up to him courageously. She wouldn’t have pretended not to know him.

She said nothing. She didn’t look up. The silence soon became awkward. Ximen abruptly broke it, by stating, “Okay, then let’s go home.”

Both President Ximen and Xiao You looked up in surprise, but Xiao You’s eyes were also filled with horror. She didn’t think that they would be staying with Ximen, or she would never have agreed to come.

Ximen nodded at the question in their eyes. He looked straight into Rainie’s eyes, eyes that reminded him of another, and said, “I want you to stay with me. I want to take care of you. You won’t take that away from me, will you?”

He didn’t know why he felt the need to say these things, but something about her caused him to lose control. She made him want to say everything that was in his heart, probably because he had held it in for so long.

While he spoke to his father, his eyes started into Rainie’s eyes. She couldn’t look away. She stared mesmerized, and then looked at President Ximen as he quietly agreed to the arrangement.

She didn’t know what to do. She couldn’t believe that he had agreed. She didn’t want to live with Ximen. She didn’t want to be caught up in the fantasies that had plagued her in the past: of living with Ximen, of being loved by him, and being accepted by his family.

Two out of three wasn’t bad, but it would be meaningless without his love. She shook her head at that wish, and caught the attention of the two men.

“What is it, Rainie?” President Ximen asked.

“Nothing,” she spoke in a soft voice. She tried to soften her voice, to change its tone to ensure that Ximen wouldn’t recognize her voice. If she gave a more involved explanation, the chances of him recognizing her would be greater.

She then realized that what she was doing was foolish. If they would be living together he would find out sooner or later, and she would rather that he found out sooner.

Xiao You ran a hand through her hair, pushing back her bangs, and looked Ximen straight in the eyes.

“Nothing is wrong,” she repeated.

Ximen stared at her face, still distorted by her eyeglasses, and saw it clearly for the first time. He saw her youth. For a moment he felt caught by a fleeting memory of the past. Her eyes, the angles of her face reminded him of Xiao You. But how could she know his father, why would she be dressed like this, why wouldn’t she have called out to him?

He was plagued by doubts, but as he continued to stare at her, he realized something. This wasn’t his Xiao You, she was someone else. He would have to approach her carefully.

As Xiao You continued to stare at him, and his expression didn’t change, she began to get angry.

He didn’t recognize her!!!! She had never believed that he would come to see her as the love of his life, but she never thought that he would forget her!!!

“It’s only been a year. Geez Ximen, how insignificant was I?” Xiao You wondered angrily.

Chapter 9

Moving On

Xiao You stared at him. Waiting for some sort of response. He didn’t react in any way.

“Ximen,” she said softly, “don’t you recognize me?”

He looked at her, “Huh? I’m sorry do I know you?”

“Ximen!!!” Xiao You screamed in frustration. “It’s me, your Xiao You.”

He looked at her in disbelief.

It was that disbelief that hurt the most. Had she changed that much? Reacting out in anger, she moved closer to him, and, without thinking, slapped him.

She looked at what she had done. His cheek was red from where she had slapped him.

Her hand was hurting from hitting him so hard. Her heart was hurting from his disbelief. She knew that she didn’t want him to recognize her, that would have lead to awkward moments, but she had never actually believed that he wouldn’t recognize her.

. . .

“Rainie,” a voice called her.

Xiao You looked up. She saw that both uncle and Ximen were giving her strange looks. She had gone off in a daze once again. She suddenly blushed. While she may dream about wanting Ximen to recognize her, the dream would never end the way she wanted it to.

He wouldn’t have suddenly grabbed and kissed her upon discovering her real identity. He wouldn’t have declared his undying love. It would have only lead to AWKWARD moments.

“Stupid, Xiao You. Why would you want that? Be happy that he doesn’t recognize you.”

She sighed, and said, “Nothing is wrong. Sorry about that.”

Uncle placed a hand on her arm, and they walked out of the lounge, and out of the airport. Xiao You’s shoulders were slumped as she reflected on how much she must have changed.

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Ximen sat in his office, pondering over what had happened in the past few hours. He couldn’t believe his father had chosen to ask another for help instead of his own family. He had thought they were getting closer.

How could he have suddenly asked her? His father had been over there for only a few months, and he had already gotten so close to her that he felt comfortable in asking her to come with me.

Not only that, but she had agreed. He had to admit that he was jealous of their closeness, but he needed to accept it. And on several fronts this closeness was a GOOD thing Whenever he got close to her, it was as if something would start sucking away his sense. He didn’t want his father stepping in and stopping anything from happening.

He remembered how good she had felt in his arms. Not only because it had been a long time since he had held a woman, but she had felt RIGHT in his arms. Her softness had complemented his hard body. Her scent had engulfed him. He had wanted to continue holding her, cradling her in his arms.

He had been surprised at first, but if this was supposed too happen, then it was alright. His heart had wholeheartedly accepted whatever connection they had.

He had dropped them off at the mansion before returning to the office. They would be settling in right now. He had told Butler Ping to prepare a room for her next to his. He wanted her close by.

He thought back to what had happened on the way back from the airport.

—FLASHBACK—

Rainie hadn’t known where to sit. It was obvious that she considered herself an employee, and had thought to sit in the front seat with the chauffeur.

Ximen had watched his father get into the car. He then stood waiting for Rainie to get in. She didn’t get in. After staring at her indecisive back for a while, he asked, “Is everything alright?”

Rainie jumped at his voice, and then asked, “Shouldn’t I be sitting in the front?”

Both uncle and Ximen said at the same time, “No!!!”

Rainie had jumped at their vehement replies. She looked wide-eyed at both of them. Seeing the determined looks on their faces, she had bowed her head. She had scurried into the back seat, and sat besides uncle.

Ximen had slid in beside her. While he sat next her, he could smell her scent. It brought back memories of the past, and of her again. He inhaled her scent, leaning into her, his eyes closed.

“Excuse me, is something wrong?” Rainie asked softly.

He was abruptly pulled out of his reverie. He hadn’t known that he was so close to her. His arm was touching hers. His skin had reacted to her silky skin, breaking out into goose bumps.

“Sorry, I was just feeling a little dizzy there.” He closed his eyes in embarrassment at such a lame excuse.

“How are you, son? Has your illness been acting up?” President Ximen asked.

Rainie had whipped her head around to look at him. He had glanced at her before responding to his father, “I’m fine. You know it was just a little ulcer.”

“Yes, a little ulcer that landed you in the hospital. You had to stay there for a week.”

“But, I’m alright now, dad. Now don’t go lecturing me like Ma, alright?”

Ximen saw his father flinch at the mention of his mother. He silently cursed himself for mentioning her.

He knew that his father had given his mother divorce papers, and his mother had taken them and gone on a retreat after his father left. When he had asked her why, she had only said she needed to think. Whether it was about her future, or her past . . .whatever, he didn’t know.

Ximen looked as Rainie placed her hand on his father’s arm. She was silently patting it, giving him sympathy, because she had also felt his pain.

Suddenly the car took a sharp turn, and Rainie had slid across the seat, landing in his arms. She gasped at the contact, and he could feel her trying to move away. He wouldn’t let her go. He wanted to hold her for a little longer.

He saw her head turn to his father as if expecting him to come to her rescue. His father had closed his eyes; it seemed he was resting.

After they saw the exhaustion on his face, Rainie had looked at him once more. He had held his finger to his lips, telling her to not disturb his father.

Rainie sat uncomfortably as his arm hugged her to him, and then relaxed. They spent the rest of the ride home like that, enjoying each other’s warmth.

When he left them at the mansion, Rainie had left the car with a blush covering her entire face. She had given him a confused look as she followed his father up the steps.

He could only smile at her innocence and confusion.

—END of FLASHBACK—

Ximen laughed softly at what had happened. He knew that he shouldn’t laugh. She was just so innocent. Her naiveté made him appreciate her all the more.

Then suddenly he was silenced by the realization that still hadn’t fully sunk in . . .

SHE WAS BACK.

Xiao You was back.

She was back in his life.

He had been confused at first. Thrown off by her connection to his father, and of her refusal to acknowledge him. When she had pushed back her horrendous bangs, he had seen her eyes for the first time. They had mesmerized him, but he had seen the fear in them. For some reason she didn’t want him to recognize her.

And for some reason his heart wanted her to acknowledge him first. He wanted his courageous Xiao You back, the one who had professed her love for him. But she had only lowered her eyes in confusion, and hadn’t revealed herself.

But, she was here. He couldn’t expect her to do everything. She had entered his life, and he would do the rest.

He had never thought that he would have this chance. He had been too cowardly the first time. But this time, it was as if someone up there was giving him a sign. Someone, something was telling him not to let her go.

He had rejected her request the first time, telling her goodbye instead.

He had let her leave him the second time, knowing that he was not good enough for her.

Maybe the third time was the charm. He had learned some truths about himself. Within him were the genes of his parents.

Of his mother, who had loved another and had stayed spiritually loyal to him for all of her life. Of his father, who had loved his mother for all of his life. And neither had found happiness without obtaining the one they loved.

He knew that he would love Xiao You for all of his life, and he did not want to be unhappy.

If she wanted to play this out, he was game. He would pretend not to know her, as long as she pretended not to know him.

His heart began to beat faster as he made his decision.

He knew one thing. She wouldn’t leave again. She wouldn’t escape this time, come what may. He was finally ready for her love.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * *

Chapter 10

A Kiss and a Confession

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Xiao You quickly walked into the mansion. She didn’t know what to think. The car ride from the airport had been blissful, but she didn’t know whether she should be excited or angry.

Ximen hadn’t recognized her, but for some weird reason he was having fun teasing her.

“Rainie, this is Butler Ping. I’ve told him to show you up to your room.” President Ximen called out to her. He looked tired.

Xiao You looked at him, and then asked, “Are you okay, uncle? Is there anything I could help you with?”

President Ximen shook his head. “I plan on resting for a while. I suggest you do the same.”

Xiao You nodded her head, and followed the butler up the stairs. She was shown into a huge, airy room. The dull gold-colored walls complimented the antique furniture, and in the center of the room was a king sized bed, raised on a platform. A canopy hung above the bed, and curtains hung down from the frame. Flowers were placed in vases throughout the room.

Xiao You inhaled the scent of the roses. She then asked, “Are you sure this is my room? Shouldn’t I be somewhere near the servants’ quarters?”

Butler Ping looked shocked. “Oh no, Shao Jie, you are President Ximen’s special guest. And young master asked that you be placed in this suite, as well.”

Hearing this, Xiao You’s eyebrows flew up with shock. Why would Ximen care where she slept? She thought back to the airport, for a while there he had looked angry. As if he resented her presence. But then his demeanor had changed inexplicably. His mood had imperceptibly brightened. Not to mention what had happened in the car.

He seemed to be interested in her, but she didn’t understand why.

Unless . . . no, it couldn’t be. He couldn’t have recognized her. Why would he have pretended otherwise if he had? He had no reason to hide from her, it was she who would have been embarrassed. She was the one who had confessed twice, and had been rejected twice.

She quickly laughed that thought away, as if anyone would be so insecure as to pretend to not know someone.

She quickly stopped laughing when she realized that she was doing that exact thing.

Xiao You was left alone in the room with a maid. While the maid unpacked her clothes, Xiao You walked around the room, getting her bearings. As she walked around touching her opulent surroundings, her gaze fell on the mirror over the vanity in the corner of the room.

Xiao You walked closer. She couldn’t believe her eyes. Her hair hung over her eyes, her eyeglasses swallowed up half her face. This was what Ximen had seen. Her eyes traveled over her body. She was wearing a T-shirt and jeans, and a bulky jacket over the t-shirt.

She had changed in the past year. She thought back to when she had gone on that pretend date with Ximen. As she had stood in the café, waiting for him to notice her, she had carefully smoothed her hands down her shirt, looking down to make sure everything was in its place. She had run her hands over her hair, hoping to look her best for when he would finally look up and notice her.

In Canada, she had lost all hope of being with him. But she had also faced the reality that she could never be with another because her heart wouldn’t let her. She had stopped caring about her appearance, because the one who mattered most wasn’t even in the country to see.

Suddenly, she pulled her hair back from her face, tying it back. She felt a little embarrassed. Ximen had seen her like this!!!

Now the fact that he hadn’t recognized her was an actual comfort. Would he have looked at her with pity, if he had realized that it was her?

“Ugh! I don’t want to think about this anymore!” Xiao You screamed in frustration.

“Are you alright, miss?” the maid asked, looking at her as if she was crazy.

Xiao You blushed, as she was reminded that she wasn’t alone in the room.

“Nothing is wrong. I’m not tired right now. Um, I was wondering . . . um . . . do you think that there’s anyway I could get a tour of the house?” she asked.

The reasons for this request were twofold. While she wanted to familiarize herself with the house so that she could help uncle in the best way possible, she also wanted to know about Ximen’s lair. He lived here. This was his private domain, and she wanted to see if she could discover things about him from his home.

Butler Ping returned. “Shao Jie, I heard you wanted a tour of the house.”

“Would that be alright?” Xiao You asked timidly, not wanting to be a burden.

“That would be perfectly alright. Why don’t you follow me, and I’ll show you where you will be living for the next month.”

One thing that Xiao You hadn’t realized was that Ximen’s house was HUGE. If Butler Ping hadn’t been with her, she would have easily gotten lost. She was tired out by the time they were done. But the one thing she had wanted to see, the one thing she had been hoping to explore, they seemed to have overlooked.

As she was lead back to her room two hours later, with thoughts of the all the rooms and the history of each room buzzing in her head, she was forced to ask the question out of frustration.

“Where is Ximen Shao Ye’s room?” she asked, with a blush covering her face.

When the butler looked at her in surprise, she quickly bowed her head, and said, “I just wanted to know so that I won’t go anywhere near it so that I won’t be a bother to him.”

Nodding his head in understanding, he lead her out of her room and pointed across the hall. “This is Ximen Shao Ye’s room. I am sure you will not be a bother, since Shao Ye requested that you be placed in a room close to his.”

Xiao You was shocked into silence. She didn’t know what to think. Why would Ximen want her to be close by? As she pondered on this, she realized that he may not trust his father. That was a little sickening, considering that she thought of him as uncle, so she pushed that thought out of her mind.

As Butler Ping left her in the room to sleep, she couldn’t contain her curiosity. Peeking out into the hall, she saw that no one was there. Xiao You stealthily walked over to Ximen’s door and opened it a crack.

Compared to her room, it was simple but elegant. One could see that he came here only to sleep.

As Xiao You’s eyes moved across the room, her eyes were caught by something on the nightstand by his bed. She was surprised to see it there. Her mind urged her to get a closer look, but her common sense was warning her not to intrude into Ximen’s inner sanctum.

She couldn’t control her desire, and before she knew it, she was across the room.

She looked down at the object on the nightstand in awe. She reached out and picked it up. She opened it, and in a few minutes she was immersed in what she loved most next to Ximen, computers.

As the minutes turned to an hour, and the clock ticked on, she pulled herself up on the bed, leaning back as she continued to explore the amazing piece of equipment in front of her. Before she knew it, jetlag had caught up with her, and she was asleep.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Ximen came home at eleven p.m. He was tired out after a long day at work, but his mood was uplifted by the thoughts of Xiao You under his roof, in his home.

She was finally where she belonged.

He was surprised at the level of his euphoria. He didn’t know he had missed her this much. Work usually immersed him so that he could push her existence to the back of his mind. But when she was so close, all he could think about was her. He had ached for her, and her return had brought home the truth of just how much.

He walked up the stairs to his room, refusing Butler Ping’s offer of dinner. It seemed that President Ximen had been too tired to eat dinner, and had told them to give Xiao You food if she ventured out of her room. Otherwise, they were to leave her alone.

Ximen stopped outside of her room. She was in there right now, sleeping. He placed his hand on the door, wanting to go in. But common sense took control. Now was not the time.

He trudged on to his room, and when he opened the door he froze with surprise.

Xiao You was sleeping on his bed, curled up next to his computer. His eyebrows quirked in surprise as he saw how her body was curled protectively around it. Shrugging his shoulders he walked into the room, and closed the door.

Ximen slowly took off his jacket, all the while staring at her sleeping form. As he loosened his tie, he walked over to the bed.

She looked so innocent laying there. He bent down at the side of the bed, and stared at her angelic face. Reaching out, he took off her glasses, and smoothed back her bangs.

She was the same Xiao You. His hand caressed her cheek, cupping it in the palm of his hand. She snuggled her cheek deeper into his hand, and a smile began to form on her face.

Ximen slowly reached down to kiss her, but at the last moment he placed his lips on her cheek. While his baser instincts told him to kiss her, to taste her, his heart told him to control himself. He wanted their first kiss to be a memorable experience for both of them.

Getting up, he carried her into her own room. Placing her on the bed, he gave her one last kiss on the forehead. He left the room, closing the door quietly behind him.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The next morning Xiao You woke up in her own room, confused at how she had gotten there. Her eyes closed, as she moaned, “Oh no!” She remembered that she had gotten really sleepy in Ximen’s room, and had thought to just rest her eyes for a bit. Because she didn’t remember coming over here, someone must have found her.

She hoped to God that it wasn’t Ximen. How pathetic he must have thought her!!!

She didn’t know what to do. How would she face him now?

Xiao You lay back down on the bed, and covered her face with her pillow. Maybe she could just stay up here until she was sure he had left, and only then venture out.

There was a knock on the door.

“Wake up sleepyhead,” Ximen called out teasingly. Her eyes widened as the doorknob slowly began to turn.

Xaio You quickly pulled the sheets all the way to her neck. He wouldn’t come in here. Would he?

He did.

Ximen walked in, and located her body under the bedcovers. “Come on, get up. I want you to keep me company at breakfast.”

“Huh? What? You want me to . . . What?” Xiao You couldn’t understand what he was trying to say.

“Come on.”

He pulled her out of the bed, and seeing as she still had yesterday’s clothes on, he pushed her into the bathroom to wash her face.

She moved to bathroom door like a zombie. Her brain couldn’t grasp his presence in her room and his strange request. Maybe she was dreaming. She peeked out the door. No, he was there, waiting for her to finish up.

“Two minutes, Rainie,” his voice called out.

Xiao You quickly finished and came out. He grabbed her hand, and pulled her downstairs.

All throughout breakfast, as he ate and she drank black coffee, he asked about her life in Canada.

At first she was hesitant, but she then began to tell him about the last year.

“It was hell, but I found something that made it all worthwhile. I fell in love. And now, no matter how unhappy my life may be, my love keeps me happy,” she confided in him happily, not noticing the growing anger in his eyes.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

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