The following days, Qiao Qiao did not come to work. It wasn’t like her to be so irresponsible. Nor was it ever in her nature to be so spoiled to even pull the disappearance card. Yet it was exactly what it seemed on the surface. Even though Chen Yi had sent words to Yan Yan to check on Qiao Qiao, but Qiao Qiao didn’t pick up on the call. Yan Yan had also personally arrived at the Zeng resident to check on Qiao Qiao but it was all in vain. One of the maids answered the door, which was so unusual since Qiao Qiao usually beat them to the door herself. Yan Yan had to leave in the end, but she was not giving up. She only needed another plan to get through Qiao Qiao. On the other hand, the others were getting worried because of her disappearance. It became too much of a disturbance that Wallace had to announce the news at home. He had agreed with Chen Yi about not alerting others yet. At least not when they weren’t so sure what was going on. Ehlo walked into the living room while Jacky and Wallace were talking. He had been ignoring them as well these past days, still pissed off because they didn’t listen to him. It wasn’t about some gossip material, but a matter of principle. He resisted in not participating upon hearing about Qiao Qiao’s situation, but opted for rolling his eyes as he was making his way to the kitchen. He was still on the juice/health route–just because he was not mad at Angela, only the other guys. He even made an extra effort of ignoring them on the way back to his room as well.
“Huang, you can tell us now,” Wallace spoke up as Ehlo walked past them again.
Ehlo ignored them, not wanting to waste his breath either. It wasn’t like him to be so petty. Yet he had enough. He increased his pace and shut his door to make a point.
“He’s really mad,” Wallace continued.
Jacky nodded. He didn’t need to nod. It was mutual acknowledgment on their part. Yet he didn’t know what to say. His mind was spinning, trying to figure out what was going on. He knew something was up since Qiao Qiao would call him at least twice a day–even if she couldn’t come for a visit. But it had been three days and still no words. Then he knew. Just like that. It was because of Ehlo’s reaction. Or lack of one. He got up from the sofa and made his way to the door.
“Where are you going?” Wallace asked, getting up and following Jacky to the door.
“Even if I have to break in, I have to know what’s going on with her,” Jacky replied, not slowing down.
That stopped Jacky in his tracks. It wasn’t like Wallace to be clueless. Though they weren’t related–not really, but he had faith in Wallace’s intelligence. How could Wallace be so slow at that moment?
“Ehlo’s right,” Jacky said, giving Wallace his full attention. “What’s the point of sitting around and wondering about the matter? Talk is cheap. We need to take some actions.”
“He didn’t say anything,” Wallace reminded Jacky of the hostility vibe Ehlo was still sending them in the house.
“He didn’t have to.”
Jacky didn’t wait for Wallace to react anymore. He continued to his car, leaving Wallace at the door. Though he knew something was bugging Wallace as well but he didn’t have time. One thing at a time.
Jacky arrived at the Zeng resident around 10. He had to stop at work to check on a project because one of his co-workers needed his help. Delayed, but he wasn’t about to give up. He knew Qiao Qiao’s parents weren’t home so he didn’t need to put up the courtesy shield like he usually would. Not like he was doing anything rash–at least not yet. But he could ignore the curfew thing and the golden rule of not calling on a house after 8–or 9, unless it was an emergency. When he finally parked the car, he realized he wasn’t the only one visiting the Zeng–or attempt to. Ehlo was at the door. By the look of it, Ehlo was still trying to get in.
“Zeng Zhi Qiao, I don’t care if you’re sick,” Ehlo’s voice echoed into the night. “Unless you’re dead, come out right now!”
“Are you crazy?” Jacky shouted, walking up to the door where it was slightly opened–and a frightened maid was staring at Ehlo.
Ehlo turned briefly to look at Jacky before returning to harass the maid at the door. “Come on, at least let me in, girl.”
“Is she sick?” Jacky asked the still frightened maid, tuning Ehlo out for the moment.
“Uh…” The maid managed, even more threatened by another man’s presence at the door at that time of the night.
Jacky understood how it must have looked like. He pulled out his wallet and produced a photo of him and Qiao Qiao together to prove that he wasn’t some psycho-maniac. “I came several times in the past already. I’m sorry for intruding, but we’re just worried for her.”
The maid suddenly recognized Jacky. Or was she too frightened of Ehlo to realize who Jacky was before? “You’re her brother.”
The maid finally stepped aside, letting Jacky in. Ehlo took the chance to slip in as well.
“It’s okay,” Jacky reassured the maid. “I’ll make sure he doesn’t do anything rash.”
The maid nodded, closing the door.
Jacky made his way to Qiao Qiao’s room with Ehlo following behind. For a guy who had resorted to threats at the door, Ehlo sure was quiet. Jacky did not want to ponder about that, he proceeded to the stairs that led to the second floor. They had to walk all the way to the end of the hall because that was where Qiao Qiao’s room was located. Jacky knocked at the door, wanting to warn Qiao Qiao of their presences.
“Go away,” Qiao Qiao’s voice returned.
“It’s Jacky,” Jacky said. He received an evil eye from Ehlo before continuing. “And Ehlo.”
“I don’t want to see anyone,” Qiao Qiao answered in that same passive tone as before. She must have thought they were the maids earlier.
“It’s not like you to disappear on us, kid,” Ehlo spoke up finally. “What in the world happened?” Before he could say anymore, his phone rang. He picked it up and exchanged some words with the other person before hanging up.
“Who?” Jacky asked.
“Angela’s downstairs with Xiao Yu. The maid won’t let them in.” Ehlo left after that, probably asking the maid to let the girls in.
“Come on, sis,” Jacky tried again, knowing Ehlo could handle the other situation. “Tell me what’s going on. It’s not like you to just drop everything like that. What happened to that aggressive girl?”
“Just go away!” Qiao Qiao bellowed, her tone losing its passivity.
It was then that Jacky confirmed of his suspicion. And Ehlo was right after all. Qiao Qiao knew something. That was why she was hiding from them, had been hiding from them. But what had she found out that she couldn’t face them? Or tell them? Did she think they were a bunch of babies and couldn’t take the news? Jacky shrugged the paranoia off and concentrated on finding better words to persuade Qiao Qiao.
“If you don’t come out or let me in, I’ll stay here until you do either one,” Jacky threatened, knowing he could do it. After all, it wasn’t like he needed to work. He silently wondered which one of them would outlast one another before their funds run out.
“Who was talking about me and my craziness with threats earlier?” Ehlo’s taunting reached his ears again.
Jacky turned to see the Chang siblings behind Ehlo.
“I guess I shouldn’t even ask how you’re doing in the persuasion department,” Angela commented. She and Ehlo were indeed a couple made in Heaven because their taunting techniques were always so obvious yet so graceful.
Jacky didn’t have to say anything. Ehlo was back for round two–and he got straight to the point.
“Come on, kid,” Ehlo began. “If it’s Tang Feng that made you mad, I’ll make sure to beat him up for you. If it’s anyone else we don’t know, we’ll figure it out somehow. Stop hiding.”
“I just want you all to leave,” Qiao Qiao returned, her voice less hostile than before yet it was still reeking of negativity.
“Two choices, kid. Either let one of us in to talk to you or all.”
“Qiao,” Achel called out. “Please stop this. You’re scaring us.”
“Qiao,” Angela followed. “You know you can depend on us. What is it?”
“I told you guys to go away,” Qiao Qiao repeated, not budging an inch. Though she lost her momentum because they could hear her cough by then.
Jacky advanced forward as the coughing fit increased, banging on the door, wanting to kick it down. Ehlo grabbed a hold of Jacky and pulled him back.
“Look who’s crazy now!” Ehlo yelled out, still having a hold of Jacky’s shoulders.
“She might be in trouble,” Jacky protested, brushing Ehlo aside once again.
“What are you all doing?” One of the maids asked.
She was the same maid from before–yet she seemed less frightened and more upset. “I thought you said you wouldn’t cause any trouble.”
“They’re just worried,” Angela defended the guys. “How long has she been in there?”
Jacky and Ehlo had stopped their fighting–temporarily. Jacky had stopped his attempt to bust the door down also.
“Three days,” The maid replied, having calmed down already.
“What?” Jacky and Ehlo exclaimed at the same time.
“It can’t be,” Achel said in alarmed.
“And you guys let her?” Ehlo jumped in, taking a step toward the maid. “What in the world are you doing? Trying to starve her so you could rob the house?”
“Ehlo!” Jacky yelled out, his turn to do the damage control this time.
“She doesn’t want to come out, we can’t do anything about it,” The maid answered, taking a step back herself.
“She seriously hasn’t eaten anything for three days?” Angela asked, her hand on Ehlo’s shoulder, attempting to calm him. Or more like she needed to extract more information before letting Ehlo do whatever.
“She said she didn’t want anything,” The maid replied. “I put some food in front of her door but she didn’t touch it.”
“You have the key to her room?” Jacky asked.
Just then, they heard some rustling inside and then a thumping sound. It was like something had fallen. Jacky and Ehlo rushed to the door again, wanting to get in.
“The key!” Jacky shouted toward the maid, abandoning his manner altogether.
The maid rushed downstairs while Jacky and Ehlo continued to knock on the door, yelling out Qiao Qiao’s name. The maid soon came back and Ehlo snatched the key from her hand, working on the door right away, not wanting to lose any more time. The lock soon gave in seconds later–though it seemed like an eternity. They rushed in after Ehlo pushed the door back, finding Qiao Qiao on the floor all pale. Jacky took it into his hands to carry her back to bed. It seemed that she wasn’t on a hunger strike like she claimed–or like the others had informed them. They found chip bags scattered all over the place. Yet it wasn’t enough or nutritious even to keep her well.
“Water!” Ehlo yelled at the maid before returning to inspect the room.
Achel took it her duty to clean up the room since she grabbed every single bag of the junk food and dispose of it in the trash while the others tended to Qiao Qiao. Angela had already hit the lights after they entered because the room was dark previously.
“They have the key and let her starve?” Ehlo exclaimed, outraged.
“Probably they were too scared of her,” Angela explained.
“Ehlo…” Jacky said, not wanting to start another fight right there and then.
Ehlo ignored Jacky’s attempt to save the staff’s faces. “Common sense much?”
“The point is we have to wake her up first.”
The maid came back with a tray of water and food at that time. Ehlo grabbed the water while Jacky helped Qiao Qiao up and fed her the water as cautiously as he could. Qiao Qiao was still somewhat unconscious so they didn’t want to make her choke–or worse. She soon stirred after having some liquid in her. The Chang siblings were a distance from the bed to give Qiao Qiao some space earlier but now they stepped forward after Ehlo placed the water glass at the table next to Qiao Qiao’s bed.
“Her stomach’s too weak to eat anything like that,” Ehlo pointed out–literally. “Go prepare some congee or something.”
“I’ll do it,” Angela said, giving the maid an apologetic look. She knew Ehlo was mad at the maids for not taking good care of Qiao Qiao–yet she had to sympathize with them on some level. Not to mention how they didn’t want to cause trouble at that point.
“I’ll go with you, jie,” Achel called out as Angela was leaving with the maid, following them out the door.
Both guys waited patiently for Qiao Qiao to be fully awake before they fire away questions. Or more like Ehlo being the one firing away questions.
“For a girl I used to think was interesting, you’re very stupid,” Ehlo blurted out, his tone along the line of chiding a child.
Jacky had already placed some pillows behind Qiao Qiao as cushions so she could sit up by herself without his help. He was still sitting on the edge of her bed silently, observing her while Ehlo chided her. Yet he had to agree. She wasn’t so silly in the past, why now? Despite the fact that she had made some mistakes in the past regarding the love department, but why had she chosen this method to torture herself?
“Well?” Ehlo demanded. “Are you going to play the fainting game again so you don’t have to answer us?”
“I wasn’t trying to kill myself,” Qiao Qiao spoke up finally, rubbing her forehead. “I need an aspirin.”
“No, you don’t,” Ehlo continued right on. “What you need is food. Real food.”
Qiao Qiao looked around her room and at the ajar door. Then she turned back to Ehlo. “Is everyone here then?”
“No, only me, him, Angela, and Xiao Yu.”
“You’re changing the subject on us.”
“I seriously wasn’t trying to kill myself.” As if she feared they didn’t believe her the first time around.
“Sure you weren’t.” Ehlo’s sarcasm did not tone down either.
“I just needed to think some things over and…”
“For three straight days?”
“I just lost track of time.”
“Maybe it was because you didn’t eat anything.”
“Stop festering her,” Jacky finally interfered.
“You want to help her hide whatever it is that she’s hiding now?” Ehlo asked with a challenging look.
“You’re not getting anywhere with your technique,” Jacky pointed out. He turned to Qiao Qiao with a stern look then. “You have to tell us whatever it is even if you don’t want to tell the others. You did find out something, didn’t you?”
Qiao Qiao looked puzzled but Ehlo jumped in again.
“Don’t deny it,” Ehlo warned her. “Who are we really? Your neighbors who you ignored?”
“I don’t ignore my neighbors,” Qiao Qiao protested.
“That’s not the point. And stop changing the subject on us.”
Qiao Qiao had been playing with the covers, folding and twisting it back and forth. It was like she needed to keep herself in check. Her frustration was showing on her face again. “I can’t tell you guys.”
“Why not? We’re not important enough? Or are we too idiotic to figure it out?”
Qiao Qiao scoffed, her anger rising, not caring if they were the ones who saved her minutes ago. “It’s not that. It’s…”
Qiao Qiao sighed out. “You guys can’t keep secrets.”
It was Ehlo’s turn to scoff. “Like you can.”
Qiao Qiao threw the corner of the cover she had been holding up then. It didn’t get very far because she was actually inside the cover itself. But that wasn’t her intention. She was just showing her frustration. “Why do you think I shut myself in my room for days now?”
Ehlo’s jaw literally dropped then. “The reason why you locked yourself in your room for three days is because you were trying to keep a secret?”
“What’s the secret then?” Jacky asked, not wanting to waste even more time.
Qiao Qiao turned to him, shoving his shoulder. “You know why it’s called a secret, don’t you?”
Jacky didn’t mind the shove because it was weaker than one of her usual attacks. Yet he was alarmed by how weak she’d become. How big is this secret then? “You better tell us this secret now. It almost caused your life.”
Qiao Qiao seemed like she had been defeated by both guys’ fierce eyes since she sighed out. “All right, but you can’t tell the others, okay? I mean it this time. It’s even more serious than that stupid misunderstanding between Chen Yi and I, okay? So if it gets out…”
“Get it out already,” Ehlo jumped in, cutting her off.
“It has to do with Wallace.”
Qiao Qiao nodded. “Partly.”
Qiao Qiao nodded again. “But it wasn’t something I found out at the park. It was when I was on the way home. I saw them at this café around here. I guess they don’t know where I live–or they were trying to find a secret place but ended up near here.”
“They were on a date?” Ehlo probed.
“No, not really.”
“Tony was there too.”
“Then Tony knows?” Jacky interrupted, his expression doubtful. “Are you sure this isn’t another big misunderstanding?”
Ehlo turned to Jacky. “Don’t interrupt her. Start from the beginning, kid.”
“So I was driving home, right? And while I was at this red light, I saw them at the corner. They were at one of those back tables. I had to turn around to get a better look. I parked a distance away but saw Cyndi sitting in the middle and Tony was on one side with Tang Feng on her other side. They were talking and laughing about something. And Tang Feng reached over to pat her head and Tony gave her a pat on the shoulder. It was like Tony was encouraging her on. And she didn’t even do anything to resist their gestures…and…”
“And you left?”
Qiao Qiao nodded. “What you want me to do? Call the cops?”
“Maybe they were just having tea,” Jacky suggested.
“Sure they were,” Ehlo snapped. “I’m not suspicious of Tony’s pat on the shoulder. But that affectionate pat on the head?”
“She didn’t say it was affectionate,” Jacky reminded Ehlo.
“Her face said it all,” Ehlo argued.
“Guys,” Qiao Qiao shouted. “The point is, don’t tell Wallace. If it is a misunderstanding like you two are saying, then the better not to let Wallace know.”
“But Wallace couldn’t reach her that night, remember?” Ehlo pointed out, looking at Jacky.
“Maybe they’re just celebrating some successful project Cyndi managed to negotiate with some company,” Jacky reasoned, trying to take it lightly.
“Maybe they’re cheating and Tony’s encouraging them on since he has some sort of past grudge with Huo.”
“What grudge would that be then?” Angela asked, stepping into the room.
The others turned to the door to see Angela and Achel carrying the foods into the room. It seemed like both had overheard the conversation already.
“We’re having a party now?” Ehlo asked, eyeing the amount of food being brought into the room.
“Since I cooked, I thought we might as well have dinner here,” Angela said, tapping on the tray slightly.
Ehlo smiled, getting up to take the tray from her. “I wouldn’t mind.”
Soon, they ended up clearing the table at a corner of the room to make space for their little dinner gathering. Jacky helped Qiao Qiao out of bed after they set up a comfortable chair in place of the wooden chair for her. They ate in silence for several minutes before Ehlo spoke up again.
“You guys want to bury the bone and watch Huo suffer or what?” Ehlo asked, his sarcasm still on high.
“If we want to interfere in the matter, we have to confirm the situation first,” Angela said. “I don’t want to be a fool when the truth comes out and it’s just some coincidence.”
They thought she was done but she continued right on after stopping to chew her food. Apparently, she didn’t just prepare congee for Qiao, but some delicacies for the rest of them as well.
“So one of you better approach Tang Feng and straighten it out,” Angela said in an as a matter of fact tone.
“I’ll do it,” Ehlo volunteered.
“If you don’t beat him up first,” Angela objected.
“If he wins,” Jacky added helpfully.
“Thanks, Backstabber,” Ehlo lashed back. “Why don’t you do it then? Oh, I forget, you’re Mr. Let’s-Watch-Huo-Die here.”
“You’re blowing this thing way out of proportion.”
“Better than pretending nothing is happening.”
“Knock it off already,” Angela commanded. “If you two can’t decide, I’ll do it.”
“I’ll do it,” Qiao Qiao spoke up, her voice a little more energetic than before.
The others exchanged a look among themselves before turning to Qiao Qiao.
“You sure?” Angela asked.
“You’re crazy, right?” Ehlo blurted out at the same time.
Angela hit Ehlo’s shoulder before turning to Qiao Qiao for the answer.
“Nice,” Ehlo muttered under his breath–though they all heard him because it was so quiet in the room.
Qiao Qiao nodded–though they weren’t sure if she was answering Angela or Ehlo. Probably both?
“I’m sure,” Qiao Qiao clarified, telling them she was answering Angela’s question. “After all, I did spot them, right? I might as well confront Mr. Arrogant. I can’t let him get the better of me.”
“That’s our girl,” Ehlo said, reaching across the table to pat Qiao Qiao’s shoulder but pulled his hand back at the last minute, his smile fading from his face upon the realization.
“What?” Jacky asked, having caught Ehlo’s strange reaction.
“Tony’s definitely encouraging them on,” Ehlo replied, his eyes still moving back and forth, like he was deep in thoughts.
Jacky wrinkled his face, still confused. “What?”
“I wanted to reach over and give her a supportive pat, right?”
“That’s what Tony’s doing if what she’s saying is right.”
“But we can’t be sure of anything at this point.”
“After tomorrow we will,” Qiao Qiao reassured them.
“Don’t tell me you’re marching into work tomorrow to confront him,” Ehlo said. Though he wanted things to move along, but he was a bit shocked that Qiao Qiao would move that fast.
Qiao Qiao shrugged. “We can’t delay matters too long, right?”
Ehlo nodded in agreement. “Finally you’re back, kid.”
Qiao Qiao scowled then. “Don’t call me kid anymore.”
It was Ehlo’s turn to shrug. “You’re always a kid to us, especially after that little crazy stunt you pulled.”
And that was the last of the words they exchanged before they continued eating. The others did not input any further. Everything had to be left until tomorrow. No point in continuing a debate full of ‘what ifs’ and other uncertainties.
As promised, Qiao Qiao marched right into work the next day and demanded a talk with Tang Feng upon his arrival. Wallace was the first one to enter the shop that day–and had started his opening tasks as usual. Though he had not heard more last night after Jacky and Ehlo got home, but he was reassured by the fact that both were talking to one another again. He was quite taken aback when Qiao Qiao showed up second–and not Cyndi like usual. In fact, Cyndi had been coming late–or barely making it these days. Chen Yi had been the second person to show up lately–and then Simon. Wallace was more than taken aback because he didn’t expect Qiao Qiao to disappear and show up all of a sudden like that. What sent him into a bewildered mode–if possible since he was rarely shocked about anything anymore–was seeing how she bravely marched up to Tang Feng and told him they needed to talk since she had some scores to settle with him, her exact words without Wallace’s interpretation. Cyndi was not present yet and Wallace shrugged when Tang Feng turned to look at him and Chen Yi. Chen Yi wanted to talk to Qiao Qiao first but she had ignored both him and Wallace since she entered. It was like she needed to take care of matters before they were allowed to speak up in front of her.
“You have an excuse for not coming to work for the past three days?” Tang Feng asked as he shut the door behind him.
Qiao Qiao had on her serious expression, resisting an urge to roll her eyes as she stood by the door–still. He moved behind his desk and was bringing his hands together. Yes, he was getting into his boss pose and getting ready for her explanation.
“I need to talk to you about something else first,” Qiao Qiao skipped right ahead, her impatience rising.
Tang Feng gestured his hand. “Have a seat.”
Qiao Qiao moved closer to the desk, but did not sit. She was still standing, towering over him–for once. For some reason, he found it amusing because he smiled there and then. She did an inward sigh, not wanting him to tick her off. At least not yetre
“I need to ask you a question and I don’t want you to use any other methods to dodge it,” Qiao Qiao continued, not wanting to wait too long–and losing it in the end.
Tang Feng nodded, his composure still relaxed. “Sure.”
“What were you doing with Cyndi and Tony the other night at that café?”
Tang Feng’s amused smile cranked up several notches, his laughter rang out. It was driving her insane yet she wasn’t going to let him get to her yet. Not quite.
“Answer the question,” Qiao Qiao prompted, her voice stern yet leveled.
“Three nights ago. It was several hours after we parted ways.”
As if finally remembering, Tang Feng let out an ‘Oh’ of realization. But that was it. His composure returned, his calmness restored.
“Well?” Qiao Qiao urged.
Tang Feng got up then, his face all serious and his eyes still holding hers. “As your boss, I have nothing to say to you. And what I do on my personal time, is my business.”
Qiao Qiao scoffed, her anger rising. “Like going after your other employee’s girlfriend?”
Tang Feng pointed at her then. “Don’t say that about Cyndi. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Then tell me the truth.”
Tang Feng’s anger was also rising, his face displaying disbelief. “If Wallace is man enough, he should be standing here confronting me, not send a messenger.”
Qiao Qiao could see through Tang Feng’s anger, but she chose to ignore it. She also discovered something else yet she found it extremely confusing at the same time. Brushing it aside for now would make things less complex. “Wallace doesn’t know about it. And I don’t want to stir things up just because of a misunderstanding. I just want your words that it’s not what it seemed.”
Tang Feng’s expression softened then. “Then trust your instinct.”
Qiao Qiao shook her head, letting out a sigh of defeat at last. “Forget it.”
Tang Feng skimmed his watched at that time. “Then let’s get going. We have a shop to run.”
Qiao Qiao shook her head again. “No, you have a shop to run.”
Tang Feng’s surprised expression came on–for what could be accounted for the first time of his life. Or maybe for the first time she’d ever known him. Qiao Qiao did not want to speak up–or explain any further. She pulled out an envelope from her bag and handed it to him. He took the envelope, but did not let her go.
“Just because of one silly misunderstanding? After how much silly things you went through to save the shop?”
It was one of those rare times when Qiao Qiao could display her amused smile. Or more out of bitterness. “The others saved it, not me. And maybe you find everything to be funny or silly, but it isn’t to me.” She paused, sending him another smile. Just a regular one this time, not reeking of amusement or sarcasm. “Perhaps I’m just not cut out for all of these after all.”
Tang Feng was about to say something but Qiao Qiao turned to leave, shutting the door behind her. She scanned the shop and spotted Cyndi coming in and talking to Wallace. It seemed like nothing had happened between them–at least no obvious sign of a rip in the relationship. They were laughing about something. Chen Yi was doing inventory check. She almost regretted in handing in the resignation letter. But she knew it must be done. Taking a step forward, she let out a sigh. And then continued her way outside.
“Qiao!” Chen Yi called after her upon realizing that she was leaving, not resuming her morning duties like always.
Qiao Qiao turned around to face him then, extending her hand to stop him. “You’ll get fired if you step out now. We’ll talk later.”
Chen Yi’s face displayed traces of shock. “You just got fired?”
“I didn’t say ‘too’.”
“What? But why?”
“I decided to move on.”
“Just like that?”
“Tell you later.”
She turned to leave again, not wanting to justify herself any further. Chen Yi stared after her, not knowing what to think. Wallace and Cyndi seemed oblivious about the supposed problem.
Lunchtime soon arrived and it was then that Qiao Qiao came back. She was visiting this time. They were opened for lunch today, taking turns eating instead of doing the usual closing. Qiao Qiao thought it was one of the new changes but did not want to ask. She was lucky enough that Chen Yi was the free one at that moment because she had something to tell him.
“So what’s going on?” Chen Yi asked, stirring his coffee.
Yes, they were in the break room. He was by the coffee machine. She had shut the door–just to be safe. She had also made sure the parties they were going to be talking about were far from the site. Wallace was tending to a customer near the front of the shop. She had learned that Cyndi went into Tang Feng’s office to talk about some project. She was safe.
“I just realized something,” Qiao Qiao began.
Qiao Qiao waited for him as he made his way to the table, setting the coffee down in front of the seat he’d just taken. She sat down across the table from him, her back to the door.
“He cares for her a lot, protective even,” Qiao Qiao continued. “But I don’t know if it’s…”
Chen Yi was still stirring his coffee. Though it was more out of routine than some necessity. He was waiting for her to continue. And when she didn’t, he took a sip out of his coffee. He was about to speak up when they heard some ruckus from outside. Both got up and headed for the door–with Qiao Qiao opening the door. All they could hear were some fragments of argument coming from Tang Feng’s office. They exchanged a look before rushing out of the break room. Wallace had already finished with helping that one customer they saw earlier and was making his way to Tang Feng’s office as well. The strangest thing–and possibly the luckiest thing–was seeing the shop emptied out already. Qiao Qiao scanned the door real quick to find the ‘Open’ sign still there. She guessed customers must not be used to the new schedule yet.
“I don’t care what you say this time,” Tang Feng’s voice rose about then, alarming all three of them. “I won’t let you do it.”
“You’re being unreasonable!” Cyndi’s voice returned, sounding like she wasn’t giving up any time soon.
“You can blame me later, but I just want to be safe than sorry.”
All three–Wallace, Qiao Qiao, and Chen Yi–stopped in their tracks and stared at one another. And that was when the door to Tang Feng’s office opened with Cyndi storming out of there.
“Ge?” Wallace, Qiao Qiao, and Chen Yi blurted out at the same time, not caring that they were eavesdropping. And the other two were too loud anyway. It was not hard to overhear them.
It was also then that Tang Feng reached the door. Cyndi had stopped in front of the three. Now that she realized what happened, she turned to look at Tang Feng. Her expression full of anger now replaced with uncertainty and worry.
© Monday, October 24th, 2011
Posted: Wednesday, October 26th, 2011