Chapter 2

Joanne’s break came two weeks later from the day Jacky started his monitoring of her at the bar. Yes, she knew deep down her father didn’t trust her hence pinning Jacky on her. Words had it that she was too reckless for the job. Yet she wasn’t held down by that little drawback. She was still alert—and suddenly more patient. Though she hadn’t changed her wild, reckless ways–even an ounce. But she was on guard, waiting till the day she could catch Jacky—even if that meant looking for such a slim chance. And that chance finally arrived. Even if that chance was presented in front of her with a mere stroke of luck but she was still willing to accept it. In fact, she grasped onto it tightly, not letting go at all—or wanting to play those pride games.

It all happened when Joanne was making her rounds, inspecting the usual activities at the bar. People were everywhere, being lively and out of control—as it often happened at a bar. They were dancing, drinking, singing karaoke at one of the reserved private rooms, and whatever else they wanted to do. No drugs though. She didn’t allow it. Not there at her bar. That was why she knew it was impossible that the cops were onto them–and that little excuse was the catalyst that had triggered her even more. So what if the cops had sent a spy into their bar? It was still under control at the moment. Like she was that careless to not know.

“Careful,” Jacky yelled behind her, trailing closely but still keeping within inches from her.

Joanne ignored him–as she always did, not caring if she almost got slammed by someone. All she needed at the moment was yelling out in alarm or react in some way that proved her father right—with pinning a babysitter on her. As if wearing black and looking fierce weren’t enough to convince her father of her capabilities. Yes, her attire at home and at the bar had to have such contrasts. But that was typical, right? Like she would wear black all the time like those chicks in those lame TV dramas and those wannabes looked like they were trying too hard to show they were badass and had to keep to the black dress code all the time.

“Hey!” Joanne soon yelled out because Jacky had grabbed her waist and steered her out of harm’s way. “Let go!”

But he didn’t. Not quite yet. He had to make sure she was safe. But she didn’t care. She yanked on his shoulder, forcing him to let go.

“Jacky Chu!” A beyond livid voice yelled from somewhere within the crowd.

That was when Joanne stopped wrestling with Jacky. In fact, he let go of her without needing any further convincing. And in all the time since they’d known each other, his face finally showed traces of emotion. It now displayed that of shock. Joanne’s eyes showed its usual mischievous spark as soon as she saw a girl stepping into the limelight. Yes, the usual various shades of lights were dancing back and forth within the perimeter that it was hard to tell who was who. But now that the girl was closer, it wasn’t hard to see the anger in her face, confirming her anguish state from her outburst a minute before.

“Sara, what are you doing here?” Jacky asked the girl.

“I should be asking you that question,” Sara shot back.

“He’s here to see me, of course,” Joanne interrupted the brawl. She even took it a step further by moving toward the two and hooking her hands through Jacky’s left hand.

“You!” Sara yelled, pointing an accusing finger at Jacky’s face. “And I trusted your words with you returning home to tend to your grandmother?”

Jacky had already shrugged Joanne’s hands off his, reaching toward Sara. “Sara, it’s a misunderstanding. I just came back and…hadn’t gotten time to call you up yet.”

Sara took a step back, not wanting Jacky to touch her. “But you have all the time to be with her?”

“No, she’s my boss’s daughter…and…”

“I thought you told me you work at a convenience store.” Sara scoffed and looked at the surroundings once more. “Some convenience store this is.”

“If you’re so pure, then why are you here?” Joanne jumped in, not wanting to hear any words of insult about her territory.

“Stay out of this!” Jacky snapped, turning on Joanne with a fierce look. A very rare fierce look.

Joanne wasn’t intimidated by his sudden bossy attitude. Nor was she taken aback by his sudden aggressive behavior. In fact, she was more curious than ever. “So you’re willing to cheat but not willing to pay the price?” She crossed her arms then, her taunting smile still on. “But I don’t blame you for doing it since I finally get to meet her now.”

Sara, having turned quite a few shades already, seemed to not be able to speak anymore. She gave Jacky one last look and stormed off. Jacky attempted to chase after her, but Joanne blocked his path.

“You!” Jacky yelled out, wanting to brush Joanne aside.

Joanne didn’t budge though. Instead, her expression had returned to its fierceness. But not because of her disagreement with Jacky since the first day. And instead of opening her mouth to trigger him even more, she grabbed his hand and pointed toward a dark corner of the bar. Just when he was about separate their hands, he saw what she wanted him to see. Surprised, he turned to her to see her smiling at last.

“You seriously want to die?”

It only took those words for Jacky to conceal his emotions again. He released Joanne’s hand but with the casualness that his personality often carried, not the forcefulness that was present minutes before. But he was still puzzled as to why she had saved him. Though he was not given the chance to ask. Both because he couldn’t and because someone had stepped into their line of vision around then.

“Inspection,” The guy said to them both, looking from one to the other.

“Again?” Joanne blurted out with much surprise.

“We’ll gladly cooperate,” Jacky took over, a gentle and kind smile on his face.

Though it seemed like a taunt more than sincerity to the other party because the other guy had the “Don’t mess with me look” on his face.

“But he…” Joanne jumped in, grabbing onto Jacky’s shoulder.

Jacky turned to her, shaking his head, indicating she should not draw any more unwanted attention on them. “We got nothing to hide.”

“Good,” The other guy’s voice broke into their side argument.

Before the guy could carry out his promised inspection, he reached for his phone. It seemed like he had put it on vibrate mode.

“Vic,” The guy answered.

Jacky and Joanne exchanged a look between the two of them as they waited for Vic to finish his conversation. But they weren’t just gawking at each other or Vic the whole while either. They were scanning the bar with their eyes, watching out for spies.

“Your lucky day,” Vic announced after he got off the phone.

Joanne scowled at Vic’s disappearing back as Jacky pulled her back, shaking his head again. They had more pressing matters to take care of than playing childish games. Joanne knew that. But she couldn’t help it.

© Monday, January 30th, 2012

Posted: Wednesday, April 11th, 2012