Chapter 3

One month later, Wallace was seen walking along the sidewalks. He had parked a distance from the city hall on purpose. He knew better than parked too close. It was harder to get out of the way these days, especially during lunch hours. A walk was good for him anyhow. As he stepped toward the path leading to a university, he saw some commotion coming from that direction. A crowd was gathering. Just loosely, barely noticeable, but he knew a scene from a making too well. He knew he had to weave through the crowd yet he suddenly stopped because he realized what was going on. Gang-bullying? How high school was that? There were four girls gathered in a cluster. Kind of. The girl in green was being attacked by the other three scurried together. He glimpsed at his watch. There was still time. He decided to tune in. Free entertainment was all he needed to complete his day.
“The more you should consider your behavior,” The girl in the middle of the three girls mocked.
The two girls on either side were snickering. It was too scripted. A bully always needed some sort of encouragement, a fan club, some back-ups. It was how those usually were started. Clear the fan club and there exist no longer a bully.
“Who are you to judge me then?” The girl in green shot back. “It seems like you’re not getting anywhere – career-wise.”
Wallace smiled, admiring the girl in green’s bravery.
The leader of the three girls smirked. “We’re talking about you and your luck in guys here, not me.”
“Who needs a guy when I can take care of myself? Besides, I could have any guy I want. Just a matter of reaching out my hand.” She had extended her hand to make an emphasis.
“Oh yeah? Who would want to date such a barbarian like you?”
Wallace stepped out among the crowd around then. “I would. In fact, I was just on my way of walking over to the lady and asking for a date.” He turned and looked at all the guys surrounding them. “And all of you guys will have to get in line and wait for your next lifetime since I’m planning to occupy her time for a while.”
The girl in green turned around to face him at that time. She had on a surprised expression. She had her back to him the whole time so he did not get a chance to see her face before. Yet he was not disappointed because her face was one that mirrored her bravery, exactly like how her voice sounded earlier. Maybe it was his imagination, but it seemed her expression had softened from the intense one mixed in with the initial shock of his presence seconds ago. She looked almost touched by his action.
“Is it a yes or a no, Miss?” Wallace prompted, knowing she was still numbed from his blunt statement. He even offered her an encouraging smile and a secret wink as the crowd around them increased.
She finally unfroze from her trance but did not answer him. Instead, she turned to face the three bullies again. “See? It looks like you’re the one not getting anywhere after all.” She turned to Wallace and returned his smile. “Let’s go.”
They stepped on the sidewalk and continued down the path leading to the city hall without looking back or acknowledging anyone’s existence. Wallace was glad they were going the same direction. He did not have to double-back later.
“Thanks for that,” She said when they were far enough without being eavesdropped on.
“No problem,” Wallace returned. “But how about a date some time? Like tonight?”
She stopped walking and turned to look at him. “You can’t be serious?”
Wallace shrugged.
“Come on now. I appreciate your helping me, but you don’t have to go along with the scheme anymore.”
“You wouldn’t rob me of a chance, would you?”
They had resumed walking. She was tugging at her hair.
“I don’t know about that,” She said when they arrived at the city hall.
They had stopped at the path leading to the entrance. Some people had to walk around them to get to the door.
“Enough chit chat,” She continued. “I’m here. Thanks for earlier again. I’ll see you around – if we meet again.”
Wallace smiled. Clever girl, he thought. Dodged right out of that one. “This is actually my stop too so I can wait for your response while we take care of some paperwork in there.”
Her brows came together. “Honestly?”
Wallace nodded, approaching the entrance with her still confused. She soon caught up to him and he let her enter first.
“Angela! Over here!” A familiar voice called out as soon as they stepped past the receptionist’s desk.
It was then that Wallace’s smile faded. He turned around to see Nic walking toward them. Nic’s smile had turned off the second he recognized Wallace.
“Why are you here?” Nic asked, eyeing Wallace cautiously.
“I didn’t know you own this place,” Wallace snapped, not caring that he was creating the worst impression possible toward the girl (Angela?).
“You two know each other?” The girl asked.
Nic and Wallace looked at the girl before turning to each other with their hostile expression on one another again. “You know him?”
“He’s my brother, Nic,” The girl answered, looking at Wallace. “And I’m Angela.”
Wallace still had on his doubtful look. “Wallace Huo.” His eyes rested on her face after that round of careful inspection. “You sure you’re related to him?”
“It has been that way since I was born.”
He had to give her points for being able to joke at a time like this. “You’re just too…”
Then Angela’s expression changed. “You’re the Wallace Huo!”
“Excuse me?”
“You’re Cyndi’s boss!”
Wallace nodded. “Guilty.”
“That’s so cool! I finally get to meet you! We’ve been talking about you since forever.”
Wallace sent Nic a threatening glare. “Must be a lot of distorted things from him.”
“So it’s true that you two are still at it with the award thing.”
“We managed to get it down to the point that he didn’t cheat his way into winning. But I got the answer now.”
“Stop being sore,” Nic jumped in – at last.
“The panel of judges gave it to you because they felt sorry for you. Pitying you that you won’t be able to get it next time.”
“And you will?” Nic shot back.
“Will you two stop?” Angela interfered. “I thought Cyndi was exaggerating about your behaviors.” She shook her head, eyeing both Wallace and her brother with disapproval.
Wallace ignored Nic’s scowl and turned to Angela with a smile. “So how about dinner tonight?”
“She’s not going anywhere with you!” Nic yelled out.
“Ge!” Angela shouted above her brother’s voice.
Nic turned to her. “Don’t tell me you want to get involved with this…”
“I dare you to say it,” Wallace challenged.
They were so loud that the others in the spacious room had stopped their activities to look at them. Angela muttered an apology and turned to the guys again.
“I’ll get your number from Cyndi,” Angela told Wallace as she dragged Nic out the door.
Wallace smiled at his victory. “Got it.”
“You’re serious?” Nic asked when they were outside.
“Of course,” Angela replied, tossing her hair over her shoulders. “He’s the Wallace Huo after all.”
“You must be crazy. You know how bad he is?”
“I don’t know how bad he is, but I know that he helped me get those girls off my back earlier.”
“What?”
Angela recounted the situation to Nic as they walked to Nic’s car, which was parked half a block from there. It was in the opposite direction from where Wallace and Angela came from earlier.
“Really?” Nic asked, still surprised.
“Would I lie about those situations? Especially running into those witches.” Her mood was lower than usual upon mentioning those bullies.
Nic stayed silent until they entered traffic.  “But you’re not dating him for real, right? I meant you’re just curious, right?”
Angela shrugged. “I don’t know. We’ll see.”
Nic knew that was final. There were many things that he wanted to control at times, but when it came to the women in his life – whether family or not, he did not have a say. It was not a matter of fear, but knowing when to draw the line. He had promised himself to never be one of those controlling freak – at least not to the female population.

*****

When they arrived at Cyndi’s place, Angela rushed to the door to greet Cyndi.
“Hey, you look happy,” Cyndi remarked. “In fact, more than that. Overjoyed even.”
Angela had to resist from skipping. “Guess what? I met Wallace Huo today when I was at the university.”
“Really?”
Angela nodded.
They settled on the sofa as Angela recounted the story to Cyndi. Nic ended up being the one getting drinks for them – as usual. He wondered sometimes why he seemed to be the odd one out whenever they visited Cyndi.
“See?” Cyndi said at last. “I told you guys that he’s not bad.”
“Honestly,” Angela noted. “I think he and Nic can’t seem to get along. It’s like they know how to trigger each other or something. It’s crazy. They were making a scene at city hall so I had to pull Nic out of there before they started fighting.”
Cyndi turned in time to see Nic holding a glass of juice, walking innocently into the room. “You guys almost fight…again?”
“He started it,” Nic said.
“You started it,” Angela clarified.
“What? Me?” Nic was pointed at himself. He was still playing the innocent card. Even if he knew the girls already detected the façade.
“You were the one who asked me why I was with him.”
Nic diverted his eyes from the girls, pretending to be balancing his juice glass while he was walking. “Hey, you should’ve seen his challenging look. That arrogant face and…”
“I don’t get it. It has been over a month now and you won that award too and you guys can’t even drop it.”
“Hey, he was the one who started it all.”
“When?”
“He challenged me at one of the gatherings and said that he would win the battle. I told him we won’t know for sure until the time comes and the award is announced. If he wasn’t so arrogant, would I be against him? There are so many people within this industry. And he just happens to be one of those…” He had settled down at a chair nearby, not daring to go near the girls. It was too risky while he was trying to argue his point. “What’s more, I think you should definitely cancel your date with him.”
Cyndi turned to Angela, her excited smile on. “You’re dating him?”
Angela shrugged, her sly smile on. “We’ll see.” Then she grabbed a hold of Cyndi’s hand. “I need his number from you though since I had to drag Nic out of there earlier and didn’t have time to exchange numbers with him.”
“Oh, fine with me.”
“He’s just trying to score points with the girl population and you girls are falling for his trap without knowing it,” Nic said in his as a matter of fact tone, sipping on his juice while the girls were punching keys on their phones.
Both girls ignored him. They launched into another debate about Wallace among other things as time passed by. Nic ended up watching TV to entertain himself. Cyndi had insisted on helping Angela choose an outfit for that night. That meant more Wallace talk and it was going to be at his house. What had he got himself into?
© Wednesday, November 17th, 2010
Posted: Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

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