Wallace didn’t return to town until two weeks later. It had troubled Nic and Angela. They even tried to call him, but he didn’t answer. He needed privacy to take care of business. Communicating with them would risk the leak of information. On the top of his to-do list was to find a hypnotist to lift the stupid curse off him. Even if he had already gotten the correct version of his past back, but there was still this strange feeling from time to time. He had to make sure that was taken care of and fully lifted before he could confront Tammy.

When he returned, he didn’t tell anyone either. He went straight to Tammy’s place. She was seen watering some plants in her little garden in the back. She was more than happy to see Wallace and had dropped the watering task to greet him. Wallace, contrary to his recent warm smile, had used a passive attitude on her. Though she could detect that something was wrong but she maintained her smile, gesturing for him to go inside the house. She prepared some tea while he waited by the kitchen counter. He didn’t speak up right away because he wanted to test if the curse was really lifted. He needed to know that there would be no hesitation or conflicting thoughts because of that past hypnotic session.

“Where have you been?” Tammy asked, sliding a cup of tea in front of him before she took a sip out of her own cup.

“Around,” Wallace replied, his attitude still passive, in fact, it had edged over to annoyance. Or maybe disgust.

Tammy smiled. “You’re always like that, always so secretive.”

“Which past?” Wallace asked, still eyeing Tammy cautiously.

Tammy had taken another sip of tea out of her cup. “Of course both.”

“Then you’re suggesting that you know me so well you could predict my next move?”

Tammy placed her teacup down on the counter then. It seemed like she wanted to acknowledge his hostility, not brushing it aside like before. “What’s going on here? Did something happen during your business trip?”

Yes, that was what Wallace had said to the others. Actually, it was harder to lie to Angela and Nic because Nic was Wallace’s partner after all. He only mentioned business to Tammy but had specified to Angela and Nic about a certain potential client interested in a software development project.

Wallace smirked then. His amusing smirk. “It’s funny that you would think that. If you understand me, you would know I wouldn’t take it out on you because I had trouble at work.”

Tammy wasn’t set back by Wallace’s words. She reached across the counter for his hand at that time, wanting to play a supportive role like in the past. At least the new past she managed to pave for them. Wallace, of course, recoiled by moving his hand back to his sides. That was when Tammy looked toward his face again.

“What’s really going on here?” Tammy asked, looking at Wallace.

“Funny that you should ask, Tammy,” Wallace said, getting up at that time. “Because I was expecting you to decipher the codes for me.”

“Wallace…” Tammy called, her tone begging and her face said it all. She was pleading for him not to scare her anymore. She even got up and reached her hands toward Wallace, stopping him from leaving.

Wallace didn’t say anything. He silently detached her hands from clutching onto him and turned to face her. It was then that he was finally sure the curse had been lifted. All that was left in him now toward Tammy was anger. Because she not only betrayed their friendship by manipulating him all these years but had also been the cause for his separation with Yvonne. Yet she was still playing that innocent card?

“Wallace…” Tammy begged again.

Wallace knew he had to say something. So he did. “I think you know too well by now that I already remembered. So you don’t have to put up that false front anymore. From now on, you and I are no longer friends.”

Tammy’s face had gone completely pale by then.

“Better yet,” Wallace continued on in his cold tone, not caring that Tammy’s lips were quivering with fright. “It’s best that you leave before I change my mind. I think it’s already lenient that I let you off like this because if you remembered correctly–if anyone dares to hurt Yvonne, I won’t let that person live so comfortably.”

After that, Wallace turned to leave for real this time.

“It’s impossible!” Tammy yelled after Wallace at last.

Wallace was already at the door. He was opening it and he wasn’t planning to turn around anymore. He knew it no longer mattered. As long as he maintained his cruel exterior, Tammy would believe that he had remembered. But he didn’t have to pretend he was tough. Because after the curse was lifted, he had indeed regained his memories completely. And what was more, his past attitude was ten times more frightening than what he’d lived through these past few years.

*****

Wallace’s next stop was the sushi bar he and Nic usually held their meetings at–whether on or off work. For some reason, he had a feeling Nic would be there. And he was right when he entered the section they usually took, even the table was the same one. This time, even Angela was with Nic. He didn’t hesitate as he saw the siblings staring at him. He stepped forward, ready to face them with whatever consequences there might be. He needed to give them an answer. It was only right.

As Wallace was closer to them, both siblings got up to wait for him.

“Wallace!” Angela cried out and leaped forward to hug him.

Wallace returned the hug, understanding too well Angela was beyond herself. They soon let go of each other before he settled down next to Nic like once upon a time.

“Hey, man, where in the world have you been?” Nic blurted out as they were seated again.

“I had to take care of some things before returning,” Wallace answered.

Nic wrinkled his face. “What things?”

“We’ve been worried sick,” Angela told Wallace. “Especially Tammy.”

Upon hearing Tammy’s name, Wallace’s expression changed from passive to anguish. He turned to Angela. “Don’t ever mention her name in front of me again.”

“What happened?” Angela asked, confused. Her face at this point was as wrinkled as her brother’s.

“She’s the key to all this madness,” Wallace replied. “At least part of it.”

“What?”

Wallace quickly recounted to them about his trip these past few weeks. However, he only told them that he decided to take a trip out of town to investigate some details further because of the dreams he had been experiencing. He didn’t want to lie to them, but he also knew that he would end up implicating Rick if he had disclosed the true version, and that was the least he wanted to do after all that Rick went through to help him. What Wallace ended up telling them was through his limited network–that he could remember at first, he was able to unravel some more details of his past, and that was how he ended up knowing Tammy wasn’t really his wife.

“What?” Angela repeated after Wallace was done with his tale.

“I didn’t want to believe it either,” Wallace admitted. “But after I sought out the hypnosis expert and had it lifted, I could remember. At least some of it. But I know all of it will come back with time.”

“That was why Amber was so upset,” Nic said, finally understanding it all.

Angela nodded. Her face was still wrinkled, but she was trying to think of all the things Amber and Rick had said throughout the time they spent together and trying to dodge Samson’s henchmen.

“What happened to Amber?” Wallace asked, knowing it was a clue to Yvonne.

“She quit her job at that paparazzi place,” Angela replied. “She found another one that was more up to her par.”

“So she’s still in town?”

Angela nodded.

“That means she might know where Yvonne is.”

And as interesting as it got, Amber walked by at that time. She was by herself but she was on the phone, talking to someone.

“Amber!” Angela yelled out and jumped up at that time.

Amber quickly rattled something into the phone and hung up. She greeted Angela before turning to Nic. That was when her smile turned off. Because she finally saw Wallace.

“Amber,” Wallace called out at that time. “Do you know…”

“No,” Amber snapped before Wallace could finish his question.

“Amber,” Angela called this time. “How’s your hand?”

“It healed already,” Amber responded with a much softer voice–versus the tone she used on Wallace.

“That’s good,” Angela said.

“Amber, I know you’re mad at me,” Wallace began again. He wasn’t the type to beg, but at this point, he knew it was better than nothing. “But…”

Amber’s stern expression returned as she looked at Wallace. “I already told you many times, but you guys refused to believe me. So why should I tell you?”

“Amber,” Angela tried again, tugging on Amber’s hand. “You have to help Wallace.”

“Why should I?”

“Because I remember now,” Wallace reasoned.

Amber gave Wallace that stern look again. “Just because you decided that you remember, I should tell you?”

Amber detached Angela’s hand from hers at that time and turned to leave the place, not caring to continue to her table like before.

“Amber!” Angela yelled out, her anxiousness obvious.

“Let her go,” Wallace interfered.

Angela turned to look at Wallace. “But it’s your only chance.”

“I think it’s better to leave her alone for now.”

They settled down at the table again. This time, Wallace ordered some more dishes and dined with the Chang siblings.

Even though it seemed like they were back to the good old days, but it was obvious that Wallace was disturbed. Both Nic and Angela knew he was just putting up a front for their sake. Even if Wallace thought that he had returned to his past cruel self, some of the traces of his emotions that they’d come to know was still present. And because they’d known him all these years, it was harder to hide it from them.

*****

The next few days fell back into a routine for Wallace. He continued to help Nic renovate and sought out new projects for them. It helped that their employees from the past wanted to return to their agency. Or perhaps it was because their reputation was too strong that had aided their cause major time. Even if they were out of business for a while, but that didn’t slow their progress during the renovation phase. Because renovation only had to do with their brick and mortar side. Their business could continue to operate because they still had their computers and whatnot. Meetings were set up at different locations for the time being and most of them have laptops or electronic devices elsewhere, so they were able to teleconference and plan out their next moves.

Aside from work, Wallace also placed his house up for sale. He ended up moving into Yvonne’s old place. He also had the lock replaced for safety purposes.

Then one day Wallace tracked Amber down again for a talk. Tracking Amber down wasn’t too hard, considering how she was still in town, and there weren’t too many newspaper places in their town.

“What do you want?” Amber asked as soon as she and Wallace were standing at a spot they could talk without being eavesdropped.

They were actually standing on top of a bridge outside town.

“Tell me where Yvonne is,” Wallace demanded, not using his begging tone like the other day.

Amber had on her amused smile. “Really? That’s how you ask someone for help?”

Wallace wasn’t backing down. He maintained his composure. “I don’t think you want to help.”

“Then why did you come here?”

“I told you I already remembered.”

“Then you should know where Yvonne is.”

Wallace stared toward the horizon–where the sky hit the water with its sparkling sunlight–before placing his left hand on the ledge. “Okay, you got me there, but it’s best that you tell me where she is.”

Amber scoffed. “Great. Now you’re acting like you’re some authoritative figure.”

“Amber,” Wallace said, his voice more sincere than before. “You can stay mad at me all you want, but do you want Yvonne to be out there alone just because you decided to punish me?”

Amber’s expression didn’t change. She stared right at Wallace, not wanting to lose her ground. Yet her expression soon softened. “All right. I’ll tell you.”

Wallace smiled then, a smile of relief.

“I really don’t know where Yvonne is.”

It was then that Wallace realized he’d celebrated too early. Amber was still punishing him. “Amber…”

Amber shook her head. “I really don’t know, okay? After Yvonne left Rick and me at the park, we never saw her again. In fact, I haven’t seen Rick since we returned to base and reported to Patrick. That was also when Rick and I found out that Yvonne had quit already. Patrick told us that the agency had honored your request with not bothering Yvonne anymore. If you want to ask Patrick yourself for the details, I could arrange for you to talk to him.”

Wallace’s face turned grim again. “I don’t want anything to do with that agency anymore.”

It was then that Amber’s teasing expression made its appearance again. “You’re talking to me, you know.”

And it was also then that Wallace was reminded of what Rick told Amber previously at Samson’s hideout. That she was like Wallace. She indeed was like him in that snappy way. Wallace’s quiet state didn’t last long. Since he spoke up again after clearing his throat. “Kid, perhaps you better quit too.”

Amber shrugged, her attitude no longer hostile toward Wallace. “It’s not that bad. Only some people are.”

“It’s better to walk away early than regret it later.”

“It pays the bills.”

“Nic’s quite well off now, you know. Even if our business got blown up, we’re still in the game.”

Amber wrinkled her face then. “What are you talking about?”

It was Wallace’s turn to display the teasing smile. “You know what I mean.”

Amber ended up smiling as well. “We’ll see.”

© Monday, July 1st, 2013

Posted: Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

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