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Chapter 22 – Complications

Bryan walks briskly down the path leading into the house after parking. He could hear some talking from inside, knowing the rest of his siblings are inside already.
“Well, well, look who’s here finally,” Xiao Jie teased as he steps in.
He ignores her taunting and heads straight down the hallway to his room.
“Hey!” Xiao Jie called after him. “What’s your problem?”
If he only knows what is the problem. He swings the keychain around in his right hand, trying to distract himself from those thoughts.
“What’s wrong with him?” Xiao Jie asked, turning to the rest of the Lai siblings.
“Forgot to take his meds,” Darren replied – an answer he once gave them about a month ago when they were celebrating for Johnny’s success.
“I don’t know,” Brittney replied, seeing Xiao Jie’s eyes on her.
At that time, the front door opens again. They could hear Jacky’s voice.
“They’re back!” Brittney shouted out – as if needing to announce the obvious fact.
Xiao Jie abandons the task of trying to figure out Bryan’s strange behavior. Instead, she makes her way to the door to greet Jacky and Wei Ru. She’s surprised to see Johnny with them but she guesses that they must have bumped into each other at the studio.
“Do you think I should take the offer?” Johnny asked – after a quick wave to Xiao Jie.
“What are you guys talking about?” Xiao Jie asked, looking from one to the other.
“Someone’s offering Johnny a role in a movie,” Wei Ru explained.
“Oh really?!” Xiao Jie exclaimed. “That’s so exciting.”
“It depends on you, man,” Jacky said, replying to Johnny’s question a minute back. “If you want to take the singer actor route or not.”
“Is it bad?” Johnny asked back.
“Jacky ge!” Brittney shouted out, running up to them at that time.
“Hey,” Jacky said, tousling Brittney’s hair.
“You’re always doing that,” Brittney whined. “Always trying to mess up my hair.”
“Someone’s back all right,” Darren mocked, walking by with an apple in hand at that time.
“Dinner should be ready in a bit,” Mrs. Lai informed them.
“It’s all right really, Auntie,” Jacky said.
They settle down at the living room after the quick greeting from Mrs. Lai. Jacky, Wei Ru, and Johnny are sitting on the sofa – with Jacky in the middle. Brittney and Darren sit at the two arm chairs they managed to pull up. Xiao Jie just settles down at the sofa’s armrest on Wei Ru’s side to listen in.
“It’s not about it being bad or not,” Jacky said, turning to Johnny again. “It’s your choice in building your image with the public. Did they let you see the script yet?”
“They’re meeting me later tomorrow,” Johnny answered. “They might bring it. Want me to call and ask them?”
“Might be better to see how sincere they are in the collaboration first.”
Johnny nods. “True.”
“But up to you really. Make sure your agent’s with you though. Sometimes they try to get you into all these sticky situations that you might not be aware of. It’s crazy in this business, I’m telling you.”
Johnny nods again.
Jacky turns to Brittney and Darren at that time. “What’s for dinner?”
“You’re starting to sound like him,” Xiao Jie said, pointing towards Darren.
“It can’t be helped,” Jacky said.
“Considering how you just joined the Lai clan recently?”
Jacky doesn’t answer, knowing Xiao Jie’s trap – though her words sound harmless at that point.
“Time to eat!” Mrs. Lai called out from the kitchen.
“Let’s go, everyone!” Xiao Jie called out to them, getting up – and pulling Wei Ru to the dining room.
“I guess Miss Qu is unusually cheerful lately,” Jacky joked.
Xiao Jie doesn’t care to attack Jacky for that comment but makes herself comfortable at the dinner table.
“Go call your brother,” Mrs. Lai said, gesturing towards Brittney.
“I don’t want to get yelled at,” Brittney whined, wrinkling her face.
“I’ll go, Mom,” Wei Ru volunteered, getting up from her spot between Xiao Jie and Jacky.
“I’ll go as well,” Jacky said, getting up and following Wei Ru.
The remaining ones at the table exchange a look and shrug as Mr. and Mrs. Lai sit down at their seats.
*****
Jacky and Wei Ru find Bryan in the study and not his room like they’ve expected.
“Ge,” Wei Ru called out. “Dinner’s ready.”
“You two go ahead and eat,” Bryan replied, distracted by his current task.
“What’s wrong?”
Bryan shakes his head. “Nothing.”
“Come on, man,” Jacky urged, knowing from Bryan’s morbid look that something’s really bothering him.
“It’s really nothing,” Bryan repeated once again, sighing out.
“Is it really?” Jacky asked, his voice deliberately slow.
“Work related stress,” Bryan said quickly – a little too quickly, sounding almost defensive.
“What’s with you lately?” Jacky asked, not letting Bryan off – like many times before.
Bryan still has his eyes on the folder he’s flipping through. “I just want to finish this report right now.”
“It’s not like you need to hand it in tonight,” Wei Ru said.
“I want it done before I get too tired and make careless mistakes.”
Jacky and Wei Ru exchange a look.
“Come on, you’re avoiding the subject on purpose,” Jacky said, continuing his past accusation.
“I thought you two are busy enough already with your current schedule,” Bryan said, finally looking up at them.
“Don’t change the subject.”
Bryan finally stops fidgeting with the papers on his desk. “What do you want me to say then?”
“Tell us what’s bothering you,” Wei Ru urged.
“I just said it’s just work.”
“Come on,” Jacky said. “Like we don’t know how you can handle your work. What’s the real reason?”
“You guys are really nosy, you know that?”
“Targeting us won’t make us go away.”
Bryan sighs, directing his eyes towards the wall across the room.
“Is it about Xiao Jie?” Jacky asked suddenly.
Bryan turns to him with a surprised look.
“You sounded like you were trying to entertain us but there should be some truth in it, right?”
Bryan takes another hesitative look at the door – like he’s afraid that someone might walk by at that time and overhear them.
“If you really like her, you should be more serious about it,” Jacky continued, seeing Bryan’s uncomfortable state. “Look at me. If I didn’t waste so much time, I would’ve already be with Wei Ru. It turned out all right for me and I considered myself a lucky man. Do you want to hesitate and lose the chance?”
“Ge,” Wei Ru urged. “Let us help you whatever it is.”
Bryan licks his lips once before turning his attention to them once again. He studies their faces to see if they show any signs of deception. He could see how sincere they are, so he nods.
Jacky and Wei Ru exchange a smile before walking with Bryan back to the kitchen where the others are waiting for them.
© Friday, January 8th, 2010
Posted: Thursday, April 8th, 2010

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