They stopped at a restaurant for lunch after the shopping trip. Wallace had changed into his newly acquired outfit and had placed Nic’s attire into the box. They were going to meet up with Nic for lunch. Wallace’s moods seemed to improve slightly as they settled down at a table and ordered. However, his smile faded as soon as the waiter stepped out of the way.
“What’s wrong?” Cyndi asked, detecting his sudden change from across the table.
Wallace did not answer. He was staring at something. Angela had left to use the washroom. It was in the other direction. So it should not be about her running into trouble. And Nic would come from that same direction. So…
“What?” Cyndi tried again. She turned to look. She could only spot two girls sitting at a table outside. Only the girl in the red dress was visible since the other girl had her back to them. But she did not find anything wrong with that. She turned to Wallace again. But she could not find Wallace. She scanned the area to find Wallace walking toward the glass door. She got up from the table, trying to catch up with him. “Wallace!”
As if Cyndi’s shout had disturbed the atmosphere, both girls at the corner table turned to check.
“Wallace!” Both girls exclaimed at the same time, getting up from their seats.
“Sylvie?” Cyndi said, finally understanding Wallace’s reaction.
“Yvonne,” Wallace said, his voice passive yet icy.
Cyndi looked from Wallace to the girl in red and then to Sylvie. So Wallace’s attention wasn’t focused on Sylvie after all, but it was on the girl in red. Sylvie looked like she was searching for an escape route. Yet Wallace and Cyndi had blocked the only possible path.
“This is your doing, Yvonne?” Wallace continued, his eyes still on the girl in red.
“What?” Yvonne asked, taking a step toward him. “You think I did this?” She was pointing at herself for emphasis. And she obviously knew what he was accusing her of.
“Let’s just say we never got a proper closure,” Wallace reminded her.
Yvonne looked hurt. She had that haunting look in her eyes. “How could you?”
Wallace scoffed. “Apparently you and her get along very well. Both good at acting innocent.” He turned to Sylvie slightly. “Well, I got news for both of you.” He returned his attention to Yvonne. “Yao Cai Ying, I will bring you both down even if it kills me.”
Wallace turned and left after that, leaving Cyndi confused. She did not dare to ask either but just paid upfront for their already ordered meals. Wallace spotted Angela coming out from the washroom and gestured for her to leave. She wrinkled her face but had detected his expression so she followed him to the door. They saw Nic getting out of his car and gestured for him not to come.
“What’s with the greeting me at the door?” Nic joked. Then his smile fell as he saw Wallace’s face. “I guess we’re not eating.”
Wallace continued to his car, ignoring all three.
“What happened?” Nic mouthed to Angela.
Angela shrugged and turned to Cyndi.
“I’ll tell you two later,” She mumbled, catching up to Wallace.
“What is going on here?” Cyndi asked when they were in the car and heading back to work again. “I meant…”
Wallace’s brows wrinkled up even more–if that was even possible. He focused on his driving, increasing the speed a few notches. Cyndi clung on for her dear life, not wanting to speak up until he parked. It was not a good idea to get herself killed at that moment. Things would have to wait. Just when she wanted to breathe out a sigh of relief, realizing he had slowed down, she turned to him in confusion again. They were a block from his shop. It did not make sense to turn left at the intersection.
“Where are we going?” Cyndi attempted again. She did not care for his attitude anymore. So what if he was hurt? He was being unreasonable by sacrificing her life.
Wallace continued to ignore her until they entered a quiet part of the neighborhood. He stopped in front of a light yellow house. It was such a subtle yellow that it felt soothing to the eyes. He got out of the car and made his way toward it. She tagged behind, wanting to get to the bottom of it. He stopped at the door and peeked at the glass strip to one side to the door.
“Are we breaking in?” She asked.
He was still oblivious to her questions–and possibly her existence. He pulled out a set of keys and opened the door with one of the keys. The door creaked open, creating a chilling vibration throughout the hallway. Cyndi took the hint to follow him inside and closed the door. Just to be safe, she locked it before following him down the hall.
“Nice,” She commented. She was sure it was not his house. If it was, would he spend the night at Nic and Angela’s place? And not to mention on a sofa.
The living room loomed into view as the hall ended. To the left of the living room was the kitchen. They saw a shadow from the kitchen–to which Cyndi gasped. She felt an uneasy feeling creeping up from within. It was like they were the intruders–which they were. And they had been caught. She braced herself for the inevitable, coming up with several scenarios and lines she could use to defend their actions. Like how Wallace was not in the right state of mind to… No wait, he had a key. That meant they weren’t intruding. But how…?
“It looks like I’m not important enough to be informed of your return,” Wallace chided, stepping into the kitchen.
“Wallace!” A voice called out excitedly.
Cyndi snapped to alertness. She was more than confused. Shocked. Or…she did not know how to describe her emotions. She just witnessed Wallace flaming up and leaving everyone at the restaurant. Then he was ignoring her the whole time. Now he was hugging a girl and looking so harmless? How could he look so peaceful and so relaxed when he could have killed someone seconds before?
“Who is this pretty young lady?” The girl asked from her spot.
Cyndi could see that the girl still had a hand wrapped around Wallace’s waist. And Wallace did not care to remove his hand from her shoulder–or edge away.
“She’s my new assistant,” Wallace replied, his smile still attached.
The girl turned to study Wallace’s face.
Wallace knew what she was looking for. “She’s the one you wrapped the gift for before you left last year.”
The girl turned to Cyndi with a smile. Her cheerful smile matching Wallace’s. She finally detached herself from Wallace and approached Cyndi, extending her hand. “Tammy Chen.”
“Cyndi Wang,” Cyndi returned, her voice cool yet still polite. She did not know why but she felt her anger rising. Was she mad at Wallace? The girl? Or herself?
“Nice to meet you,” Tammy continued, withdrawing her hand.
“Yeah,” Cyndi said, turning to eye Wallace.
“Don’t give me that look,” Wallace said, pointing at Cyndi. He walked over and placed his hand around Tammy’s shoulders like before. “She’s my best friend since forever. The only person who could stand my attitude and could forgive me for my mischief deeds.” He turned to send Tammy another smile before turning to Cyndi again. “She left for almost a year now and I haven’t heard from her. I was just coming here to cool down earlier. But when I saw her silhouette, I was surprised. It’s so good to have her back.”
Cyndi did not care to speak up. She did not want to care. She tugged at herself silently, forcing herself to leave. She cleared her throat briefly. “I guess I should go so you two could talk.”
“You can’t leave, you don’t have transportation,” Wallace reminded her.
“I’ll just walk. I don’t think it’s far from the shop.”
Wallace turned to Tammy, his hand dropping from her shoulders. “I’ll come back later after work. You’ll be here, right?”
Tammy smiled and nodded. “I still have to unpack the rest of my stuff. Wait until you see your gift.”
He returned her smile, patting her shoulder. “You always manage to surprise me.” Then he turned to Cyndi. “Let’s go, Ling Ling.”
Cyndi waited until they were outside before she spoke up again.
“What in the world was that?” She blurted out, feeling her anger rising again.
“What?” Wallace asked, turning to her, puzzled. It was like he found it strange she was upset. That she was the crazy one. Not he, the lunatic, who scared the world out of them all half an hour ago.
“Are you going to tell Angela any of this?” Cyndi asked, pointing at Tammy’s front door for emphasis. “And what about that Yvonne girl?”
“Don’t you dare mention Yvonne!” Wallace hollered, his intense mood back from its temporary leave.
“Angela has the right to know!” Cyndi was not backing down. She did not want to. She thought she was trying to be a supportive assistant in the time of need. But she found it despicable that he shall run around with some girls, making them worried to death. Leaving Angela and Nic worried as well.
“I will tell her!”
“When?” Cyndi gestured her hands wildly. “And are you even serious about your promise to Nic? Are you?”
“I am! Why are you making such a big deal out of it? Tammy’s my best friend. I can’t come to her house when I need a break?”
Cyndi scoffed. “Best friends or lovers?”
Wallace wrinkled his face. “What? Don’t talk about Tammy like that.”
“Well, she should know to keep her distance when she knows you already have a girlfriend.”
“She doesn’t know, okay? We didn’t get to that part yet.”
“Then you should know to keep your distance and not go overboard.”
“So who are you, my mother?”
“Now I know why your mother misunderstands you and trusts Sylvie more. You’re just so…”
Wallace pointed at her. “Don’t push your limit.”
“If you think it’s all right to limit Angela’s freedom but you’re just running around with your so-called friends, then…”
“I can handle this!”
“Sure, you can!”
“Where are you going?”
“Taking a walk!”
Cyndi had enough. She did not care to approach Wallace’s car. She made her way down the street. She had paid enough attention to the road to know it wasn’t far from their shop. Just call it a workout.
© Saturday, March 5th, 2011
Posted: Sunday, March 27th, 2011