Chapter 1 – New Future, New Team

Screams–screeching even–were heard everywhere throughout the auditorium as the last name was called. It was a big day. It was the last day that they ever have to return to this university again–unless they want to come back for a visit, which was unlikely going to happen any time soon. After the crowd simmered down again, the school president stepped up to say a few more words and then they were done.

Qiao Qiao and Yan Yan were lucky to be practically next to the door since they slipped out unnoticed and got a head start before they became smash-potatoes. They spotted Chen Yi at the side entrance of the auditorium as they made their way toward the parking lot. When in the world did he get out there? They thought they were first.

Qiao Qiao and Yan Yan exchanged a look. They both advanced toward him and attempted to grab him by the shoulders.

“Don’t you girls dare!” Chen Yi exclaimed upon seeing their shadows on the ground.

“How did you get out here so fast?” Qiao Qiao asked, walking on his left.

“I know!” Yan Yan agreed, walking on Chen Yi’s right. “The auditorium is packed. And still is. How did you do it?”

Chen Yi smiled. “You girls really want to know?”

Qiao Qiao and Yan Yan nodded at the same time.

“How about treating me to dinner tonight then?” Chen Yi bargained, flashing on his usual cunning smile.

“Come on!” Qiao Qiao urged, hitting him on the shoulder. “You’re mean.”

“That’s right,” Yan Yan chimed in.

“Do you girls expect me to just tell you like that?” Chen Yi asked in an as a matter of fact tone.

Before the girls could fire back some more attacks, they heard footsteps behind them. They turned around in time to see the coming crowd. Chen Yi grabbed both girls’ hands and dodged out of the way in time.

As they were catching their breaths under a tree, they studied the crowd more carefully.

“What’s going on here?” Chen Yi pondered, inspecting the crowd. “Was there some kind of reception afterwards that we don’t know about?”

“Guys and food,” Qiao Qiao remarked, shaking her head in disapproval.

“Oh come now, how are you going to survive without food?” Chen Yi said defensively. “And look who’s talking.”

“What?” Qiao Qiao asked, confused.

“You’re going to work in a restaurant soon. You’re the one that’s closest to food and you still stand there and criticize me?”

Qiao Qiao wrinkled her face. “You’ve got your facts wrong big time. Yan Yan’s going to work in the restaurant, not me.”

Chen Yi looked from one girl to the other, his face displaying puzzlement. “You mean the inseparable twins are going to part ways?” Then he focused his attention on Qiao Qiao again. “Where are you going to work then?”

“Probably at my cousin’s agency until I find something more decent,” Qiao Qiao answered half-heartedly.

At that time, they stepped out toward the cemented path again since it was safe at the moment.

“So you mean you’re going to help your cousin match-make people or whatever it is they do there?” Chen Yi asked.

“Yes, great job or what?”

Chen Yi could sense Qiao Qiao’s sarcastic tone.

“At least you found something to entertain yourself, right?” Chen Yi reassured her, flashing on his encouraging smile. Then as if he just realized something, he turned to her with his mischievous smile again. “Hey, does that mean I get free service if I decided to go there and try out to see what the agency’s all about?”

“You wish!” Qiao Qiao snapped.

“Come on now. We’re friends. Don’t you remember? Who was the one that let you copied his homework when you were sick that one time? And…”

“You mean who was the one that wasn’t sick but still managed to NOT do his homework so he has to borrow mine?”

Chen Yi put on his innocent look. “Who was that?”

Yan Yan slapped him on the shoulder again.

“But seriously, do you girls want to go somewhere to celebrate? My family’s not holding a graduation party for me until the upcoming week.”

“Maybe,” Qiao Qiao said, looking at her watch.

“When do you girls start working?”

“I’m already working, but it’s just part-time,” Yan Yan answered. “Now I can switch to full-time.”

“That’s good then.”

“Probably tomorrow,” Qiao Qiao muttered. “Jenny left so sudden that Orchids’ short on people now.”

“What about tomorrow night?” Chen Yi suggested.

“I think I can make it.”

Chen Yi turned to Yan Yan to see her nod.

“All right then, that’s the spirit,” Chen Yi declared. “How about around 5?”

“You eat dinner that early?” Qiao Qiao asked, surprised.

“We’re just meeting at that time,” Chen Yi clarified. “Maybe I’ll come by your place to pick you up or something.”

“Okay then,” Qiao Qiao agreed.

“Sounds fine with me,” Yan Yan added.

They finally arrived at the parking lot.

Most of the people from the crowd were still there since they were either still trying to find their cars or they were avoiding from killing each other with trying to get out at the same time.

“This is better than going to the movies,” Chen Yi commented.

“You speed too, you know,” Qiao Qiao reminded him.

“I’m smart enough to know when to speed.”

“Sure, Chen Yi,” Yan Yan said, rolling her eyes.

“What do you mean?” Chen Yi asked, putting on his innocent look again.

Qiao Qiao sighed. “Never mind, Chen Yi. Lie to yourself.”

They stood in silence after that, waiting for the others to clear the parking lot first before heading toward their cars, plus they still needed to wait for their families and relatives.

Qiao Qiao could spot their families among the second set of crowds coming toward them.

“Here they are now,” Qiao Qiao announced to the other two.

“And here we are now,” Chen Yi delivered in his passive tone.

Yan Yan looked at him.

“Dive!” Chen Yi yelled out.

He shoved them out of the way even though it wasn’t necessary. The path at the auditorium wasn’t as wide as the parking lot.

Qiao Qiao and Yan Yan regained themselves again in time to give Chen Yi a slap on the shoulders once more.

“What did you girls do that for?” Chen Yi asked in alarm. “I’m trying to save you here!”

“Save your breath!” Qiao Qiao shot back. “We almost fell.”

Before Chen Yi could argue, his mom separated from the crowd and was coming toward him now.

“Mom!” Chen Yi exclaimed cheerfully. “I’ve been looking all over for you. Where have you been?”

“Awww…isn’t he the greatest?” Qiao Qiao teased.

“Definitely,” Yan Yan continued. “He’s the filial son all right.”

Chen Yi gave both girls a look behind his mom’s back.

“Oh, there goes Orchids now,” Qiao Qiao said, spotting her cousin among the crowd.

Chen Yi and his mom had left already after they waved goodbye to the girls.

“Orchids!” Qiao Qiao called out as she was making her way toward Orchids.

“How did you girls get out here so fast?” Orchids asked, lookig from Qiao Qiao to Yan Yan.

“It’s a secret!” Qiao Qiao shouted, echoing Chen Yi’s words to them earlier.

Orchids smiled. “Mischievous deeds again?”

Qiao Qiao and Yan Yan looked at each other, not saying anything more.

“All right, are you girls ready to go?” Orchids asked, knowing the girls too well to pursue further.

Qiao Qiao looked toward the crowd again. “Yan, where did your parents go?”

“No idea,” Yan Yan admitted, letting out a smile. “But I’ll just wait here for them.”

“All right. Bye then.”

Qiao Qiao followed Orchids toward Orchids’ car after that.

Yan Yan turned back toward the parking lot and cupped her hand, yelling, “Qiao! Don’t forget about tomorrow!”

“I know!” Qiao Qiao yelled back, turning herself toward her friend again to exchange another smile and a final wave.

*****

As promised, when the next day arrived, Qiao Qiao was already at the agency, helping Orchids open for business.

“After everyone arrives, I’ll introduce you to them and we’ll get started with explaining to you how everything works,” Orchids told Qiao Qiao while they were switching the lights on around the place.

“I think I already know everyone here though,” Qiao Qiao said.

Orchids smiled. “It’s just part of the process and it’s your first day working here. Don’t we need to notify them?”

“That’s true.”

At that time, the front entrance opened.

“Hello, Wallace,” Qiao Qiao greeted him with a cheerful smile.

“Hi Qiao Qiao,” Wallace returned, flashing on a bright smile of his own. “Coming in to visit us again? I heard you graduated yesterday.”

“No to the first question, but yes to the second one. By the way, how did you know?”

“Ran into Chen Yi last night at this restaurant,” Wallace explained, walking toward them. “He was celebrating with some of the guys.”

“Oh.”

“If you’re not visiting, what are you doing here then?”

“Nice to meet you too, co-worker!” Qiao Qiao said, extending her hand with a smile.

“You mean it?” Wallace asked, surprised.

“No, I’m putting you on. Of course I’m joining the team.”

Wallace looked at Orchids.

“She’s here for now until I can find someone to replace Jenny,” Orchids verified.

Wallace nodded.

The door opened again. This time, a girl walked in with a guy.

“Hey Cyndi!” Wallace exclaimed upon seeing her. “Guess what?”

“Hi Cyndi!” Qiao Qiao shouted about the same time as Wallace.

“What?” Cyndi asked, walking toward them.

“Qiao Qiao is now our co-worker,” Wallace said.

“Really?!”Cyndi asked again with much excitement in her voice.

“Of course!” Qiao Qiao jumped in.

“Who is this?” Wallace asked, gesturing his hand toward the guy next to Cyndi, finally noticing his presence.

“Oh, almost forgot,” Cyndi said, turning toward the guy. “This is Simon.”

“Your latest boyfriend?” Wallace joked.

Cyndi gave him a look.

“Just kidding,” Wallace said quickly, flashing on his charming smile in the process.

Cyndi ignored Wallace and turned to Orchids. “He wants to try out for the position you’ve been posting since last week.”

“That’s great then,” Orchids said before turning to the guy. “Give me a minute, then we’ll get started.”

Simon smiled politely.

“Wallace, Cyn, why don’t you two fill Qiao Qiao in and see if she can help you with everything while I interview Simon?”

Wallace and Cyndi nodded.

Orchids turned back to Simon after that. “Go ahead and have a seat over there. I’ll call you in when I’m ready.”

Simon nodded and walked over to a sofa by the entrance to sit and wait.

“Do you need anything to drink?” Cyndi asked.

Simon smiled. “No, thank you.”

“Okay then. We’re going to have our meeting, so knock on the door if you need anything.

Simon nodded.

Wallace and Cyndi grabbed some folders off their desks before signaling for Qiao Qiao to follow them.

The work day has officially begun, Qiao Qiao thought to herself half-heartedly. She sighed out before walking with the other two to the conference room in the corner.

*****

Chen Yi smiled to himself proudly as he parked so smoothly into the spot. As he was getting out, he did a quick scan around the area before proceeding to his destination. He had to take all precautions. He couldn’t be seen around here. It was like wearing a sign that said “I’m desperate” on his forehead. He shouldn’t have blurted something out about picking Qiao Qiao up. What would the others think? As he sneaked a glance inside Orchids Agency through the glass window, he could see Wallace and Cyndi at their desks. He couldn’t see Orchids. Maybe she was not in right now? And where in the world was Qiao Qiao? Was she playing a prank on him so he could be seen at this high risk place? Nah, he thought to himself. Qiao Qiao wouldn’t do that to him. Before he knew it, someone yelled out his name from behind. Alarmed, he almost jumped–literally.

“You’re so jumpy!” The girl exclaimed, laughing.

Chen Yi turned around to a smiling Qiao Qiao.

“What brought you here so early?” Qiao Qiao inquired. “You decided to…”

“No way! Are you kidding me?”

Qiao Qiao laughed again upon seeing Chen Yi’s expression.

Knowing that whoever called him wasn’t anyone from school, he relaxed again. He gestured toward what Qiao Qiao was holding. “So you’re like a special assistant now?”

Qiao Qiao could see Chen Yi’s smirk that he was teasing her.

“No, I just offered to go buy lunch for everyone, okay?” Qiao Qiao replied sharply, making sure to put on her annoyed look so he would get a clue.

Chen Yi wasn’t far behind since he managed to flash on his innocent smile to cancel her out. “All right.”

Before he could continue to question about her quest outside of the shop, Qiao Qiao exclaimed, causing him to be on alert again.

“Oh no! Look!” She shouted seconds later, pointing toward somewhere across the street.

Chen Yi scanned the area rapidly. “What? What happened?”

Qiao Qiao looked back at Chen Yi. “I swear I saw Xiao Ying from our class just walking by.”

Chen Yi looked around the area cautiously once more. The only thing that he didn’t do yet was hiding behind Qiao Qiao.

Qiao Qiao finally let out a laugh. “Got you!”

Chen Yi turned to look at Qiao Qiao again. “Hey! That’s not funny.”

“Hey, you’re the one that cares about your image.”

“Who wouldn’t if they’re caught here?” Chen Yi asked back in his defensive tone.

Qiao Qiao smiled. “Whatever. It’s just like a friends connection place, not ‘Desperate Land’ or something like that.”

“Still…”

“Let’s go in before someone in our school does come walking by.”

Chen Yi took the hint to open the door since Qiao Qiao’s hands were occupied at the moment.

Wallace and Cyndi looked up when they heard the door being opened.

“Wow! Is this a miracle?” Wallace teased upon seeing Chen Yi.

Qiao Qiao smiled, knowing exactly what Wallace meant.

“I bought tons of food for everyone!” She announced to the group.

“It looks like we could feed ten people with these,” Cyndi commented.

She and Qiao Qiao were sorting out the boxes as Chen Yi began to observe the place.

“So, what gives?” Wallace asked, eyeing Chen Yi suspiciously. “You changed your mind and decided to…”

Chen Yi turned to Wallace at that time. “No. I told Qiao I would meet her here today so here I am.”

“You forgot to include the ‘after work’ part,” Qiao Qiao corrected Chen Yi, turning toward the guys.

“So?”

Qiao Qiao leaned toward Chen Yi with a wicked smile. “Are you saying Wallace’s right and you changed your mind about…”

Chen Yi shoved Qiao Qiao aside gently. “That’s not funny.”

“It is to me!”

“So…where is Orchids?” Chen Yi asked, changing the subject on purpose and hoping to divert some attention away from himself.

“In her office,” Wallace answered.

Chen Yi nodded.

Cyndi had left a bit ago to call Orchids out for lunch.

As Chen Yi continued to observe the place some more, Orchids walked out of her office with Cyndi.

“Hey, it’s a surprise to see you here,” Orchids said in the same tone as the others upon seeing Chen Yi.

Wallace turned to face Orchids. “It’s a miracle really.”

“Stop teasing him,” Cyndi interfered upon seeing Chen Yi’s uncomfortable face.

“Come on now. He vowed to never step into this place. You can’t blame us for reacting this way.”

“Let’s eat, everyone,” Qiao Qiao said, pointing toward the food spread out in front of them

They were actually eating at their desks instead of the break room like usual.

“Here’s yours,” Qiao Qiao said, handing a box to Chen Yi.

“You can predict that I’m coming by now?” Chen Yi asked, a bit taken back.

“Like Cyndi said, I bought enough to feed ten, so…”

Chen Yi took the box from her before she changed her mind. “In that case, I wouldn’t mind.”

Orchids sat down next to Cyndi as Chen Yi took a seat next to Qiao Qiao.

As they were eating, they heard the door being opened again. All five turn their heads to check out the source of the noise.

The person at the door looked really shy and/or nervous as he was making his way to them.

Wallace got up and met him half way.

“I’m sorry to catch you at lunch time,” The guy apologized nervously.

“No problem,” Wallace reassured him with a friendly smile. “We didn’t put a sign up.”

“So…ugh…I’m here…because…” The guy continued in that stuttering pattern.

Chen Yi looked at Qiao Qiao with an expression that said “It would take a year before this guy is done with a sentence.” Qiao Qiao almost laughed but she remembered that she was one of the employees there too, so she stopped herself in time.

“I can get you started if you’ll help me with providing some information about yourself and then…” Wallace said, cutting the guy off subtly.

“Are we going through this with…everyone staring at us right now?”

Wallace glanced quickly at the others. “No, of course not. If you preferred a one-on-one conversation, then we’ll just go to the other side of the office to talk.”

“But…is there a hidden camera somewhere? Will anyone…”

Chen Yi couldn’t stand it anymore. He got up and approached the guy. “Sir, if you don’t mind. Let me explain a little about this place.”

That got the guy’s attention.

“The front office has cameras installed just to protect both us and the clients as well as serving as future references. But the conference room in the back doesn’t have cameras for those who preferred their own privacy regarding this delicate situation. So…if you’ll take my words for it, you can…”

“If that’s so, then let’s proceed to the conference room.”

Chen Yi turned to look at Wallace.

“If that’s your decision, then we’ll begin,” Wallace said, taking over.

Chen Yi had gone back to his seat by now.

Wallace directed the guy to the conference room as soon as he grabbed a folder from his desk.

When they were gone, Cyndi and Qiao Qiao turned to Chen Yi.

Chen Yi stopped eating and stared back. “What?”

“I can’t believe you just did that,” Qiao Qiao said, amazed.

“What was that about the ‘us’ part?” Cyndi teased. “You mean…?”

“Do I want to look like I come in here to…” Chen Yi said, gesturing around the place for emphasis.

He left the sentence hanging since the others knew clearly that he didn’t want to be associated with anywhere close to “desperate.”

“I thought you were making fun of him earlier,” Qiao Qiao reminded Chen Yi. “How come you helped him like that?”

“I could sympathize with the guy,” Chen Yi said. “I mean come on…” He stopped to gesture around the room again before continuing. “Who would want to be caught dead coming in here? After all, he must be some successful businessman. It must be super awkward.”

“Wouldn’t want to be caught dead here?” Qiao Qiao repeated Chen Yi’s words, wrinkling her face. “Are you talking about yourself?”

“How did you know he’s a successful businessman?” Cyndi asked, cutting Qiao Qiao off on purpose to avoid an oncoming conflict between the two.

“He has the vibe,” Chen Yi answered.

Orchids smiled. “How did you know that we don’t have cameras in the conference room?”

Chen Yi glanced at Cyndi and Qiao Qiao. “When you girls and Wallace were making fun of me earlier, I was scanning the area. It’s a great location for business really. But…it looks like one big clutter.” He stopped to give Orchids his charming smile before continuing. “I’m not sayng it’s bad.”

Orchids didn’t look anywhere near offended by Chen Yi’s comment. In fact, she had this impressed look on her face. Cyndi and Qiao Qiao could guess what was coming up next. Chen Yi just had to go on and on. He was in for good this time.

“Do you have a job lined up yet?” Orchids asked, still staring at Chen Yi intently.

“No,” Chen Yi replied crisply, shaking his head in the process. “Unfortunately, no one has recognized my beyond genius talent yet.”

Qiao Qiao hit him on the shoulder. “Stop being so arrogant.”

“Someone is about to though,” Cyndi said, smiling.

Chen Yi turned to Cyndi with a puzzled look. “What?”

“You’ll see.”

Cyndi had on this secretive smile that Chen Yi couldn’t help but diverted his eyes to Orchids and Qiao Qiao, detecting signs of a possible conspiracy of some sort.

“If you were to match that guy…” Orchids said, gesturing toward the conference room. “…with a potential candidate, who would you pick?”

“Someone who is outgoing, carefree, and not paranoid,” Chen Yi blurted out without thinking.

“Are you going for the typical opposite attracts?” Qiao Qiao asked.

“No, he’s such a boring person that he needs someone to spice up his life.”

“Don’t judge him just by his appearance.”

“I’m not,” Chen Yi said quickly. Then he stopped himself. “Maybe a little. But you can tell by his image. He carries on this vibe that tells me he’s a very serious person aka do not mess around with him. If it wasn’t for his mom or someone in his family of higher authority than him nagging him to come here, he wouldn’t even show up.”

“If he’s such a successful person and a serious type, how can he stutter so much when he was talking to Wallace earlier?” Cyndi asked in a doubtful tone. “It’s illogical. Or does he have split personality?”

“Refer back to the answer I provided earlier, which I will repeat.” He stopped to clear his throat before continuing. “Who would want to be caught dead in this place? And it’s not illogical. We all have our comfort zone. That guy just stepped into an unfamiliar environment, so he’s just responding in such a way.”

“Wow,” Cyndi said, finally convinced.

Even Qiao Qiao look impressed with Chen Yi’s short analysis. Then Qiao Qiao looked toward Orchids.

“Chen Yi,” Orchids called out. She waited for him to turn his full attention to her before continuing with a bright smile on her face. “How would you like to join our team?”

Chen Yi almost choked on his soda. Cyndi and Qiao Qiao laughed.

Chen Yi lightened up again upon hearing the girls’ laughter. “I knew it! It’s a joke, right?”

“No,” Cyndi clarified. “We knew it was coming up.”

“That’s right,” Qiao Qiao chimed in. “You brought this upon yourself, genius.”

“Come on, you two,” Chen Yi urged. “Stop joking.”

“Does Orchids look like she’s kidding?” Qiao Qiao asked.

Chen Yi turned toward Orchids again. He could see a bright smile on her face, but there wasn’t any trace of mockery on her face–unlike Qiao Qiao’s expression. He turned his attention back on Cyndi and Qiao Qiao again.

“Aren’t you going to say anything?” Cyndi asked.

“It isn’t like you to be so quiet, you know,” Qiao Qiao added, her cunning smile still on.

“Oh I know,” Cyndi continued, turning to Qiao Qiao. “I think he just stepped out of his ‘comfort zone.’”

Qiao Qiao gave Cyndi a high five.

Chen Yi knew that he was not getting any help from the girls so he had no choice other than turning back to face Orchids. “Orchids, you’ve got to be kidding. I mean… me? You could find anyone. If it’s a just a temporary thing, then maybe you could…oh…my brother doesn’t have anything to do this coming summer. Maybe he’ll help you.”

“Nice try,” Qiao Qiao said. “You don’t even have a brother!”

“Face it, you can’t back out,” Cyndi said.

“Girls, stop badgering him already,” Orchids interfered. Then she turned to Chen Yi. “It’s your choice really. But with your observant nature and fast-thinking ability, you’re great for this job. Not to mention, you could profile him within 10 minutes.”

While they were still waiting for Chen Yi’s response, the door to the conference room opened. Everyone turned their attention in that direction. Wallace walked out first, smiling to the others. The other guy looked like he gained back 10% of his confidence. Orchids signaled to Cyndi and Qiao Qiao to not stare. They went back to talk among themselves and eat as they waited for Wallace. After Wallace walked the guy to the door and shook hands with him one last time, the guy was gone. Chen Yi got up as soon as Wallace was walking back to them.

“Well? How did it go?” Chen Yi asked, gesturing toward the door.

“Confidential,” Wallace replied.

“No fun,” Qiao Qiao muttered.

“I told you that guy is…” Chen Yi started to say.

“You’ve been talking about him the whole time I was in there?” Wallace asked, cutting Chen Yi off.

“Not exactly,” Qiao Qiao said. “But…”

Wallace waited patiently for her to continue.

Cyndi spook up instead. “We are about to have a new team member joining us.”

“What?!” Wallace exclaimed, beyond surprised. “I thought Orchids hired Simon this morning already.”

He turned to look at Orchids.

“We can’t let talent slip by our hands just like that,” Orchids said.

Wallace turned to the others again to see if they would shed some light on the “talented one” being mentioned. He could only see Cyndi and Qiao Qiao smiling while Chen Yi was slurping his soda. Wallace turned back to Orchids. Orchids smiled and filled him in on what happened. When she was done, Wallace looked at Chen Yi.

“Looks like you’re in,” Wallace teased.

“Stop joking,” Chen Yi said, annoyed. “If you’re my good friend, talk them out of it.”

“Come on now,” Cyndi urged. “Orchids is not like others that you mentioned. You know, the ones that couldn’t even ‘recognize your beyond genius talent yet.’”

Qiao Qiao slapped Cyndi another high five.

While the others were talking, Wallace slipped the folder he was holding before into his desk drawer and locked it.

Chen Yi saw that. “Why are you hiding it?”

“Because it’s confidential,” Wallace answered naturally.

“You mean Mr. Paranoid requested it? Then how can we match him up with possible…”

“He especially requested that I personally handle this one. I managed to talk him into letting me work with Orchids on it since she’s the boss after all. Otherwise, the rest of you guy are out.”

“The rest of us?”

Wallace nodded.

“That doesn’t include me, right?”

“You just included yourself like fifteen seconds ago.”

Cyndi smiled. “You set yourself up for this one good.”

“When did I include myself?” Chen Yi asked, puzzled.

“You said ‘How can we match him up with possible…’ You know you’re part of the ‘we’, right?” Qiao Qiao finished with a grin.

“Face it,” Cyndi said, taking over. “You subconsciously want to work here, but you’re just hesitating because…”

“Nice try, but no,” Chen Yi said, cutting her off.

“So we’ve been wasting our time convincing you?” Qiao Qiao asked, disappointed.

“How about like you said, treat this as a temp job?” Orchids suggested, putting on her sweet smile. “You can quit anytime.”

Chen Yi could see how sincere Orchids looked. Why was he always a sucker for sweet smiles? “All right. Since you kept insisting, I’m going to give it a try. But…”

Orchids extended her hand at that time. “Welcome to the team then.”

Chen Yi shook Orchids’ hand before turning back to the others with an anxious look. “So when do I start?”

“I knew you want to do this,” Qiao Qiao teased again.

“No, I just want to mess up people’s lives and collect money for myself!”

As Chen Yi let out his “famous” evil laugh, Qiao Qiao–like usual–hit him on the shoulder. Wallace slapped Chen Yi on the shoulder when they were all sitting down again.

“Congrats to you for joining us without an interview,” Wallace said to Chen Yi.

“What about Qiao though?” Chen Yi asked.

“She’s different. She’s just here temporarily.”

“So am I.”

“So you think,” Cyndi corrected him.

“What do you mean? If you guys are up to something, I’m out.”

“You can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because we’ve got hidden cameras here and you’ve just agreed to a deal,” Qiao Qiao reminded him. “Backing out on it would lead to about…”

“That’s blackmail!”

Qiao Qiao smiled. “That’s business.”

“Hey!”

“Relax,” Orchids reassured Chen Yi. “They’re just kidding.”

Chen Yi calmed down again.

Wallace looked around at everyone. “How about a toast?”

“What for?” Cyndi asked, turning to him.

“To our new team and future success?”

“To my future victory!” Chen Yi shouted.

Cyndi and Qiao Qiao gave him strange looks while Wallace slapped him another high five. Orchids just smiled at them, shaking her head, knowing them too well.

© Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

Re-posted: Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

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