Chapter 12 – Ruined Plan

Ehlo crashes down on the sofa as soon as he steps through the door. Brittney drops down to the other side of the sofa. The others are not far behind, but just too exhausted to talk. Jacky, Wei Ru, and Xiao Jie sit down at the sofa next to them with Wei Ru in the middle. Ken and Selina sit on the loveseat next to them. Hebe and Mina sit at the chairs next to the sofa and loveseat in front of the coffee table – completing the circle. They had entered through the side door instead of using the front door like earlier when they left.
“Never have I been to the police station that long in my life,” Mina said, yawning.
Ehlo – who has been laying his head down on the sofa the whole time to rest – snaps his head back up.
“What are you talking about?” Ehlo asked, wrinkling his eyebrows. “For so long? You mean you’ve been in the police station before?”
“Uh…” Mina hesitated.
“Would you stop it? You’re scaring your sister,” Hebe jumped in.
Ehlo glances at Hebe quickly before turning back to Mina. “She’s the one making trips to the police station here.”
“Like you haven’t made some yourself.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Ehlo asked, glaring at Hebe. “Are you saying I…”
“What I mean is…”
“Guys!” Jacky called out, cutting them both off.
“She started it,” Ehlo justified, turning to Jacky.
“And you say I’m childish?” Mina said, rolling her eyes.
Ehlo turns his attention back to his sister. “Before we get too far away from the topic, tell me why you were at the police station before then.”
“I was never there before, at least not until today. Just seems longer than in the movies, that’s all.”
“She got you big time,” Jacky said, smiling.
“Thanks a lot for your support, buddy,” Ehlo retorted, pasting on his annoyed expression again.
“What are we going to do for the rest of the day now?” Ken asked.
“I have to ask you something earlier, but we got side-tracked,” Ehlo said, turning to Ken with a serious expression.
“What?” Ken asked, sitting straight up and putting his hands on his knees.
“Are you…”
“Ge!” Mina shouted in alarm.
Ehlo snaps his attention to Mina. “What?”
“I was just kidding earlier.”
“What is going on here?” Ken asked, looking from Ehlo to Mina.
“I want to know the same thing.”
Jacky snaps to attention also. “You mean he’s not your boyfriend?”
“You guys are such gossips,” Xiao Jie said, smiling.
“Can’t blame me. I’m worried for my sister, okay?” Ehlo said, sounding almost defensive.
“What are you guys talking about then?” Hebe asked, confused.
“I have no idea either. Ice cream, anyone?”
After he said that, he gets up from the sofa and heads to the kitchen. Everyone looks at him, puzzled. How random can Ehlo get? Knowing him – very.
Jacky leans back on the sofa. “So…what are we going to do for the rest of the day?”
“We’re not going out, that’s for sure,” Hebe commented.
“You don’t even need to say it. That’s already a given fact,” Ehlo said from the kitchen.
Hebe turns around to face Ehlo. “What’s with you and picking fights with me?”
“Maybe he likes you,” Jacky mumbled, rubbing his forehead.
“What about Xiao Jie?!” Mina asked without thinking.
Jacky snaps his head back up to look at Mina. Ehlo almost dropped his ice cream scoop on the floor, but he regains himself in time. He turns his eyes to Mina also. In fact, everyone has turned their attention to Mina.
“What are you talking about, sis?” Ehlo finally asked.
“Wait. I thought you like Xiao Jie,” Mina said.
Ehlo glances quickly at Xiao Jie. “Uh…”
“That means I’m right?”
“Come on,” Xiao Jie jumped in, attempting to rescue Ehlo from the awkward situation. “Stop bugging him with those questions. We’re friends, all right?”
“No, it’s not all right,” Mina protested, turning to Xiao Jie. “I want a sister-in-law! Soon too!”
Ehlo goes back to scooping his ice cream. Everyone goes back to relaxing or doing their usual glancing at their surroundings. Wei Ru turns to Jacky – who has resumed his forehead rubbing routine.
“Are you all right?” Wei Ru asked softly.
“Yea, I’m fine,” Jacky said, his hand still rubbing his forehead. Seeing she’s not convinced, he gives her a light smile, saying, “It’s a habit.”
“Not a good habit though,” Hebe interfered.
“What’s that got to do with you then?” Ehlo asked.
“Here we go again,” Xiao Jie said, rolling her eyes.
“What?” Ehlo asked innocently.
Although Ehlo sounds like he’s picking fights, but he has finished his ice cream scooping task and is heading back to the table. The surprising part is he actually has a tray full of ice cream bowls instead of just one. He passes them out to the ladies before going back to get the rest for the guys. Xiao Jie smiles as soon as she sees how he has handed Hebe hers before anyone else – including Mina. Even if it seems relevant since she’s the nearest one to the kitchen area aside from Mina.
Ehlo puts the tray on the kitchen counter before going back to his original spot.
Jacky puts on his taste testing expression before commenting. “Hmm…it’s actually good.” Then he turns to Wei Ru. “It’s safe to eat now.”
As if on cue, Wei Ru begins to eat.
Ehlo wrinkles his eyebrow. “What are you implying? I put something in it while scooping it out of the box?”
“No. More like you put something in it while creating it.”
“You mean he knows how to make ice cream?!” Xiao Jie asked, sounding both amazed and shocked at the same time.
“You mean you’re regretting your decision in rejecting me?” Ehlo asked with his teasing expression turned on.
“Please.” Xiao Jie smiles and goes back to eating instead of arguing with Ehlo.
“It’s really good,” Selina reassured Ehlo, smiling. “Don’t mind them.”
“I never mind anyone,” Ehlo said, looking towards her.
“In fact, he’s so into himself that he forgets there are other people around him in the first place to care,” Jacky jumped in.
“Why don’t you just choke on your ice cream or something?” Ehlo snapped, turning his attention back on Jacky.
“Whoa…you sound like some jealous girl,” Xiao Jie said.
“Just kidding,” Xiao Jie said, putting on a bright smile.
“Stop smiling like that.”
“Why not?” Xiao Jie asked innocently, still smiling.
“That smile gets me every time. Can’t get mad at you.”
“Oooh…how sweet…” Mina oozed out, putting on her mischievous smile on in the process.
“What’s wrong, Britt?” Jacky asked, seeing Brittney’s expression. “You can spit it out if you can’t take it anymore. Not everyone can swallow Ehlo’s creations, you know.”
“Hey!” Ehlo demanded, glaring at Jacky. “What’s this with all the side attacks? Trying to impress the Lai sisters?”
“Sorry, ge. But that’s life,” Mina said.
“That’s why you decided to stab your brother too?”
“What are you talking about?”
Ehlo points his spoon towards Ken and goes back to eating again.
“What?” Ken asked, confused. “What does this has to do with me?”
“Sorry, inside joke. But…I can tell you if you want.”
“Don’t you dare!” Mina warned, giving her brother a stern expression.
“What is it about then?” Selina asked.
“Can you guys knock it off with all the secrets? What’s the big deal anyway?” Hebe blurted out, sounding somewhat frustrated.
Ehlo clinks his spoon on his ice cream bowl. “Impatient, aren’t we?” He stops the clinking as soon as he sees Hebe’s expression. “Okay. Want to do some business?”
“Don’t tell me in exchange for a date,” Jacky interrupted.
“How did you…” Ehlo started, shocked. But he stops himself and wrinkles his eyebrow. “What in the world gave you that idea?”
“Answer to the first question – you’re practically wearing the sign that says ‘Marry me’. The answer to the second question – refer back to answer #1.”
“Wait! What about Xiao Jie?” Mina jumped in again, anxious.
“What about her?”
“But I thought…”
Hebe jumps in. “What are you guys talking about here? You’re getting way off topic. In fact, you guys haven’t made any sense at all.”
“We don’t need to,” Jacky said with a mischievous glint in his eye. Then he turns to Hebe at the same time. “And…if you really want to know…I’ll tell you. But which part do you want to know? The part where Ehlo’s madly in love with you? Or the part about Mina being…”
“Jacky ge!” Mina screeched, sounding almost like begging.
Mina said it so loud that everyone turns to look at her – including Jacky.
“Nothing…go back to eating, everyone,” Mina managed to utter out, her face turning red.
“As I was saying…” Jacky began again, turning back to Hebe.
“Jacky ge!” Mina screamed out in alarm again.
This time, Mina didn’t say it as loud. But she sounds desperate.
“I’m not going to talk about it anymore,” Jacky reassured Mina before turning back to Hebe. “As I was saying…I might not be a good candidate to explain it to you though. But you can…”
“Knock it off already, man,” Ehlo jumped in. “It’s getting lame. No one reacted to the joke the first time.”
“You think,” Jacky commented, pointing his spoon at Ehlo.
“No,” Ehlo disagreed. “Everyone thinks so too.”
“I wasn’t asking you. I’m just making a comment.”
“Still…no one was paying attention.”
“But it’s sinking in for Miss Tian over there,” Jacky said, looking at Hebe straight in the face and smiles.
Hebe feels uncomfortable for unknown reasons and looks down at her ice cream bowl, her face burning red.
“See?” Jacky said, turning to Ehlo again. “Told you it’s sinking in.”
“I can’t believe it,” Ehlo said, still having his shocked expression on. “She’s actually not attacking you.”
“You guys made it sound like Hebe is some monster or something,” Selina said.
“You said it, not me,” Ehlo reminded her.
Selina blushes and goes back to finish her ice cream.
“Guys, stop being random,” Ken interfered, looking somewhat uncomfortable. “What are we going to do the rest of the day? Since I no longer have a car.”
“The police told you not to leave town, so we have to stick around here,” Ehlo said.
“Ge, it’s a big town. We can go do other stuffs too,” Mina reminded him, her voice sounding like a know-it-all.
“I don’t want to get out again. It’s hot out there.”
“Since when did you pick up whining?”
“Since he met this one guy who could knock down his singing skills,” Jacky answered in Ehlo’s place.
Hebe’s head snaps back up from staring at the floor for too long. She has on a surprised expression towards Ehlo, asking, “You know how to sing?”
“Of course,” Ehlo replied. “Ken didn’t tell you?”
“Please, ge,” Mina shot him down. “Is that the reason why our ice cream shop isn’t doing well lately?”
“What are you talking about?” Ehlo asked, wrinkling his face. “We closed the shop up ‘cause Mom and Dad are on vacation.”
“I meant before that.”
“Is he that terrible?” Hebe inquired, putting on a curious smile.
“Why do you think all those people moved out of town like last month?”
“You mean that was the reason?!”
“She’s putting you on,” Jacky replied, smiling at Hebe’s gullible nature.
“Can you guys ever be serious for two seconds?”
Jacky puts on a serious expression before saying, “One…two…” and then he puts on a bright smile again. “Okay. Happy?”
“Very funny.”
Hebe stands up and goes to the kitchen. She puts her ice cream bowl next to the sink before coming back to retrieve the other empty bowls. She begins to wash the bowls as Ehlo’s eyes follow her every move. He didn’t realize the others are trying to get his attention until Mina pinches him on his left arm.
“Ahhhh!” Ehlo screamed out in pain and irritation, wrinkling his face and finally snapping his attention to Mina. “What in the world did you do that for?”
Somehow Mina has move to the space in between Ehlo and Brittney on the sofa.
“We called you several times already. Just that you didn’t hear us,” Mina said.
Ehlo gives her an evil look upon seeing her mischievous smile.
“No need to be mean to your sister. Jacky ge was trying to get your attention.”
Jacky ge sounds too creepy. Don’t tell me you’re switching target.” Ehlo shivers before sitting straight up again.
“What are you talking about?” Mina asked, wrinkling her eyebrows.
“Don’t make me expose you.”
“I’ll expose you first.”
“Come on. You think you know me, sis,” Ehlo said, snickering.
“Are you two done yet?”Jacky interrupted.
“What do you want now?” Ehlo asked, turning to Jacky with an annoyed expression.
“What’s with the hostility here?” Xiao Jie pondered.
“Maybe ‘cause I still feel the pain from being stabbed the last time.”
“You’re just so dramatic,” Xiao Jie commented, smiling.
“All right then, what’s going on now?”
“Basketball in your backyard or head out to watch a movie or something?” Jacky asked.
“Is going back to bed an option?”
“Pig,” Mina chimed in.
“I’m your brother here,” Ehlo reminded her once again.
Hebe is finally done with her washing task and is coming back to the group. “You guys can do whatever, but I think Selena and I better head back.”
“What’s your hurry?” Ehlo asked.
“We need to turn in our article tomorrow. Better make sure everything is set before the editor gets on our case again.”
“Don’t tell me you were at the beach for work yesterday.”
“Of course we were.”
“Why am I even surprised in the first place?” Ehlo asked rhetorically, gesturing his right hand at her. “Workaholic alert.”
“Not everyone is like you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Never mind.” Hebe begins to get up to leave.
Selena – as if on cue – gets up also. She follows Hebe to the door after retrieving her handbag. Ken stands up as well.
“Sorry, guys,” Ken mumbled as he walks by Ehlo. “Guess there goes my day.”
“I know the girls have to work on their article, but what about you?” Ehlo asked, standing up also.
“Uh…I’ll just help them with whatever,” Ken muttered.
Ehlo could detect Ken’s uneasiness. “You’re hiding from us, right?”
Ken looks elsewhere, not answering.
“Ge, give him a break,” Mina said, walking over to the guys.
“And I have to listen to you because?” Ehlo asked, turning to his sister.
“Because I’m your sister.”
“Younger sister.”
“Drop it already, man,” Jacky said, seeing Ken’s uneasiness. “I guess we’ll just arrange some sort of get together next time.”
Ken nods. He turns to the others to wave goodbye before following the girls out.
“You guys want a ride?” Jacky asked.
Hebe turns back to address Jacky. “It’s all right. We’ll just take the Taxi back.”
Jacky nods.
Hebe leaves with the other two after closing the door.
Jacky, Ehlo, and Mina head back to their seats after that – except Mina, who takes the seat next to Brittney while Ehlo settles down at Ken’s spot.
Mina sighs.
“Sis, you’re making things sound dreadful,” Ehlo remarked. “Stop sighing.”
Mina sighs again.
“What’s wrong?” Wei Ru asked with concern.
“Nothing. I thought we were going to spend the day doing something fun, but…” Mina stopped, sighing out again.
“There’s always a next time,” Ehlo said, leaning back to rest again. “Since we know he moved back to town already.”
“Oh yeah, you almost embarrass me in front of those three,” Ehlo said tiredly, contradicting his supposed aggressive tone. “What’s the deal here? Why did you say that you’re dating Ken?”
“Stop it,” Xiao Jie interfered.
“I’m her brother, I need to know,” Ehlo said, taking his hand away from his eyes to look at Xiao Jie.
“It’s just a random joke, okay?” Mina said, trying to make it sound as casual as possible.
Mina gets up and leaves the room after that.
“Hey!” Ehlo called out, getting up from his seat.
Mina doesn’t bother to respond or turn back. She makes her way upstairs.
“Maybe you shouldn’t pester her so much about it,” Jacky suggested.
“Whatever then,” Ehlo let out, feeling exasperated. “You guys go enjoy yourselves with whatever. I’m taking a nap.”
“You were serious about it earlier?” Xiao Jie asked, somewhat taken aback.
“What do you think?” Ehlo heads upstairs without waiting for an answer, leaving the other four sitting there.
“What now?” Xiao Jie asked, turning to the others.
“Want to go to my house?” Jacky offered.
“Oh yeah! How could we forget? You live around here too,” Xiao Jie said with realization as she turns to Wei Ru. “Want to go?”
“Is it okay though?” Wei Ru asked in a hesitant tone.
“Sure,” Jacky reassured her. “As long as you can pass my parents’ censorship, you’ll be fine.”
“Censorship?” Xiao Jie asked, surprised.
“I’m kidding. They’re like Yu Rong’s parents. They’re away right now. My brother’s home though…I think.”
“You have a brother?”
Jacky nods.
“Older or younger?”
“Are you done with this questioning seminar yet? Can we go?”
Xiao Jie’s eyes move rapidly around the room like she’s lost in thoughts. Then she looks at Jacky again. “Sure.”
Jacky stands up at that time to head towards the side door.
Xiao Jie gets up also, following Jacky. She has to turn around and yank Wei Ru to her feet.
“How come I feel so weird like we’re invading their privacy?” Wei Ru whispered to Xiao Jie as they’re heading out the door.
“Don’t worry,” Xiao Jie said, still dragging Wei Ru by the hand. “You’re just sensitive. He invited us after all, right? Come on.”
Brittney has been quiet the whole time like she has since their return. She tags along with them because she doesn’t want to be alone in the house since the Huang siblings already went upstairs.
They take Jacky’s car this time.
© Monday, February 25th, 2008
Re-posted: Saturday, February 20th, 2010