Chapter 6

It wasn’t until after all the major holidays passed that Wallace and Nic had to attend a gathering with all the people within their fields. It was just some optional gathering event to socialize and exchange their knowledge and thoughts. The guys were actually discussing the plans over at Angela and Nic’s house while they were waiting for the girls to get ready for a date.
“Are you attending, hotshot?” Nic asked, picking his water glass up.
Wallace was chewing on an apple. He shrugged. “Not sure.”
“No one invited you?”
Wallace saw the challenging look in Nic’s eyes. Just slightly. Or perhaps it was his own imagination. He was getting bored with their getting along anyway. At least barely. “What do we do there? Stare at all the boring faces and how they discovered the latest? If they had something extraordinary, it has already been released, not talked about. They would beat the horse to death. It’s the same talk each year.”
“That means you’re not attending?”
Wallace shook his head. “You?”
“I don’t know. It’s tradition.”
Wallace let out an amused laugh. “You’re a true geek all right.”
“What are you guys talking about?” Cyndi asked, walking into the living room.
“Some boring social event,” Wallace answered lazily, sitting back on his chair. “Old Nic wants to go but I’m trying to talk him out of it.”
“What social event?”
Wallace and Nic took turns to tell her.
“Don’t you always go, ge?” Angela asked, walking into the room at that time. “It’s tradition.”
“Geek alert,” Wallace prompted.
“It would be fun to attend though,” Cyndi said, tapping her chin. An obvious sign that she was circulating her brain to plot against them – for her own benefit.
“I’m not going,” Wallace said, catching on. “Don’t even try to persuade me.”
“Nic never takes me though,” Angela protested, recalling past events in her mind. She was sitting on the arm of Wallace’s chair and placing a hand on his shoulder.
“And I have to?” He was leaning toward her at that point.
“You don’t have to, I’m just saying.”
“He was probably trying to spare you from the boredom.”
“I want to go though,” Cyndi jumped in.
Wallace had on a passive expression. “He never took you before?”
“They just started dating some time last year,” Angela volunteered the answer.
“Probably right after that event, right?”
Angela nodded.
Wallace turned to face Nic and Cyndi who were sitting on the sofa, turning on his smile. “That’s perfect then! You guys both want to go, you go. We’ll stay here.”
“I want to go too.”
“It’s not fun like they advertise on TV.” Wallace waved his hands for emphasis. “Trust me on this one.”
“I can only bring one guest though,” Nic pointed out.
Angela nodded, understanding.
Wallace knew she did not pressure him on purpose. Or more like she knew he hated nagging. But he also knew that he would eventually beat himself up if he’d robbed her of the opportunity. “Then I guess I’m going too.”
“Really?” Angela called out excitedly.
Wallace nodded. “The tickets would go to waste if I don’t go.”
“It’s out of town though so we have to arrange all accommodations beforehand,” Nic said.
“We’re lucky if we get into the same hotel,” Wallace joked.
“Then let’s book together,” Cyndi suggested.
“What?!” Wallace and Nic exclaimed at the same time.
“You guys share a room and us girls would share a room,” Cyndi elaborated.
“Me and him?” Wallace and Nic asked, pointing at each other. “In the same room?”
“You might as well prepare for his funeral,” Wallace said in an as a matter of fact tone.
“Or yours.” Nic had withdrawn his pointing hand but still had on the hostile look.
“I thought you guys have been getting along quite well,” Angela said.
“That’s because we’re trying to be nice,” Wallace answered. “Being able to live under the same roof is a different matter.”
“You wouldn’t know unless you try,” Cyndi said. “Besides, it’s not like moving in with each other. We’re just going on this trip, right?”
Wallace and Nic exchanged a look. It was like they needed to send some sort of secret message to one another. Then they finally returned their eyes to their girlfriends, finally nodding.
“Yes!” Angela yelled out, standing up from her place.
“Yes…is right,” Wallace mumbled. “It’s going to be some excitement all right.”
His monotone did not go unnoticed but the girls just chose to ignore it like many times before.

*****

Though they talked like the event was tomorrow, but it was not coming up until the following month. They still had plenty of time to prepare. One of the most enduring tasks the guys had to help with was shopping for the right outfits. It was easy for them yet the girls were another matter. When they entered the second or third store, Wallace’s phone rang. It was a callback from his agent. He had won his way into making the arrangements for their trip this time around – and Nic was not all that into fighting him for the spot, considering how Wallace was already willing to go.
“What?” Wallace asked, his eyebrows wrinkling.
“What happened?” Angela mouthed to him.
“Hold on,” He said into the phone. He turned to the others. “It’s all book to the point of impossible. The best they could do is having us share two rooms.”
“Told you,” Cyndi chirped.
Wallace gave her a look indicating that she was committing a crime. A crime along the line of robbing his job away from him. The one that said he was supposed to be the smart aleck one in their group.
“Take it then,” Angela urged.
Wallace looked at Nic.
Nic shrugged. “It’s just for the weekends. Your call.”
“Fine.” He pressed ‘Mute’ again to un-mute the call. “Hello, yeah. Go ahead and book it.”
As Wallace got off the phone, Nic’s phone rang.
“Two bets it’s…” Wallace muttered.
“Okay, I’ll be right there,” Nic responded after a minute of listening. “Just try to entertain him for the time being.”
“So you’re bailing out on us?” Wallace asked as soon as Nic hung up.
“Can’t help it,” Nic returned. “Someone’s changing his plan and flying out this afternoon instead of tomorrow so he bumped my meeting up.”
“It’s business tactic, I’m telling you. Politics. The guy who could jump through more hoops wins.” Then he snapped his fingers. “This is almost like courting a girl, except it’s more fun with the girl.”
Angela slapped his shoulder.
Wallace turned to her. “Am I wrong?”
“You know what.”
“Forget it,” Nic interfered – one of those rare times that Nic or Wallace took on the role of a peace-keeper. “Have something to tell you. Outside.”
Wallace saluted. “Yes, sir.”
Nic ignored it and just led the way out.
“What are they up to this time?” Angela asked, turning to Cyndi.
Cyndi shrugged. “What do you think of this blue one?”
Five minutes later, Wallace returned and rejected Cyndi’s choice of attires. They ended up going by Wallace’s preference.

*****

The day finally arrived when they had to attend the event. It had been unusually smooth sailing since the moment they entered the hotel. Wallace and Nic had been cooperative enough. It was too good to be true for the girls and it soon proved their point of the miraculous bond between the guys. Because while getting ready for the occasion, the guys opened up the curtains for a battle. No, it was more like another battle.
“Say, Old Nic,” Wallace called out from his room.
He had to holler because Nic was outside in the hallway.
“What?” Nic was rolling his eyes in the hallway. He was pacing, but he just stopped to wait for Wallace’s response.
“We’re not going together, are we?”
Nic wrinkled his face. “What?”
“Are we going to arrive together later? As far as I’m concerned…”
“We’re leaving first,” Nic cut Wallace off, knowing too well it would be too much of a torture for Wallace if they were to stick around all the time.
“Good idea.”
Cyndi came out from hers and Angela’s room at that time.
“See you guys later then,” Nic sent off his last words before tugging on Cyndi’s arm.

*****

As promised, both pairs ended up mixing with different groups throughout the night though they were in the same park. That went on with the guys introducing the girls around and chatting until they exhausted all their connections. It was not until they reached the center of the park that they bumped into one another again.
Upon spotting Cyndi, Wallace lurched from his casual pace, pointing at Cyndi while he made his way toward the couple – after having regained his balance. “Didn’t I tell you if I ever see you wear your hair up again, I’ll fire you?”
“What?” Cyndi managed.
Wallace was not sure if she was masking her dumbfounded look. He was sure she remembered what that meant. She better. He was already loosening his principles when he let Angela wore a revealing dress. Sort of, kind of. Okay, it only revealed her shoulders because the rest of the dress draped down to her feet. But that was not the point. Cyndi was stepping over the line.
“She’s my girlfriend, and I want her to wear her hair up tonight, okay?” Nic jumped in before Cyndi could defend herself for her actions.
“Oh yeah?” Wallace shot back. “She’s my assistant and I want her to wear it down!”
“She’s my girlfriend first!”
“Are you saying her career is not as important as your ego?” He turned to Cyndi. “You should dump him already. He doesn’t care to acknowledge the importance of your career.”
“I do too!” Nic jumped in, sounding defensive. Too defensive. Like Wallace had hit a nerve. Or two.
“Do not!” Wallace continued, not letting Nic off.
“Both of you, shut up!” Angela and Cyndi shouted at the same time.
They did.
Angela turned to Wallace first. “You’re making a scene.”
“So?” Wallace rolled out smoothly. “Let them stare. We’re the only good-looking ones here anyway.”
“Who is boosting his ego now?” Nic was definitely taking advantage of the situation, using Wallace’s words against him.
Wallace turned on Nic again. “I just included you too, you idiot!”
“Why did I ever let you date my sister anyway?”
Wallace scoffed. “Excuse me? She agreed on her own. Who’s boosting ego again?”
“Guys!” Angela intervened – once again. She turned and signaled to Cyndi.
Both girls attempted to haul the guys away from each other since they were a step from starting a fight.
Wallace did not resist Angela’s pull yet he wasn’t going down quietly either. “I’m not through with you yet, Zhang Dong Liang! You just wait and see!”
“Like I’m scared of you!” Nic shot back while being pulled away by Cyndi.
It wasn’t until they were off a far distance from the building that Cyndi finally spoke up. “What was that all about?”
Nic shrugged. “He started it.”
Cyndi’s face showed more than that of a livid expression. In fact, she was beyond that. She was having trouble believing that her boyfriend and her boss – both very well known within the industry – were that childish.  She let out a heavy sigh. “Is it so hard to get along with him?”
She had no idea that Angela was asking Wallace the same question at that exact moment.
“Well,” Wallace managed. Who would ever think Wallace was ever tongue-tied? He licked his lip once – maybe twice. Something he rarely did. “You know how arrogant he is.”
Angela looked at him. “You’re describing yourself.”
Wallace looked wounded. “How could you say that? I’m much more suave than him.”
Angela iced him with her glare. “You’re talking about my brother.”
Wallace shrugged. “The truth hurts, honey.”
“Don’t ‘honey’ me. You two are acting so childish and this has got to stop, understand?”
Wallace stared into space – as if the answer to his solution was somewhere around there that he missed it the last few times. “Okay, I’ll try.”
Angela still had her hands crossed. “You will do it, not try.”
“Understood.” He got up from the bench he was sitting on the whole while she was talking and looming over him threateningly. He placed his hands around her shoulders, attempting a charming smile. “Don’t be mad. Smile. I’m sorry.”
Angela shrugged his hands off and walked away from the pier. “We’ll see how you would prove your words first.”
As they reached the entrance, they bumped into Nic and Cyndi at the center where the two paths joined. As if scripted, both Angela and Cyndi turned on their dates and gave them a warning look. Wallace smiled and took a step forward.
“I’m sorry, man,” Wallace rattled out smoothly.
“I’m sorry as well,” Nic returned, his voice dripping of every ounce of sincerity that was supposed to be. It was not surprising that he had been set straight by Cyndi like how Wallace was by Angela.
“I didn’t mean to call you a no-brainer earlier,” Wallace continued in the same smooth yet passive tone.
Nic sneered. “You didn’t! But now you’re calling me names, you egoistical, vain jerk!”
“Hey!”
“Guys!” Cyndi called out.
“What happened to getting along?” Angela prompted, her hands crossed in front of her.
Wallace turned to Angela. “I tried but you see how he was!” He pointed at Nic for emphasis.
“You started it!” Nic shot back, taking a step forward again.
“What are you talking about?”
Angela pulled Wallace back. “Let’s go! Cyndi and I aren’t going to stand here and listen to you two argue all night.”
“Hey, we have to get back to the hotel anyway.”
“You’ll kill each other and us on the way if we go in one vehicle,” Angela pointed out. She did not have to turn to the other two to check on their progress. She knew Cyndi could handle it.
© Wednesday, November 17th, 2010
Posted: Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

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