Friday finally rolled around. Orchids Agency continued with its peaceful atmosphere, making everyone uncomfortable–well almost everyone. Wallace seemed to be the only one not knowing that their workplace was suffering a terrible crisis known as the “nerve-racking wait.” The others were waiting patiently for something to happen. Anything. Anything that could relieve them from the insanely quiet atmosphere. Chen Yi–like always–was the first one to speak up as they were one hour away from lunch break.
“This is it!” Chen Yi declared in a powerful voice, standing up at the same time for dramatic effects. “I can’t stand it anymore!”
Cyndi wrinkled her face. “What are you doing?”
“I have to know today or I’m going to explode.” He turned to Qiao Qiao’s desk. “Qiao, why…” He stopped in mid-sentence because he didn’t know that Qiao Qiao had left again. He turned to Cyndi. “Where did she go?”
“Break room. Probably for a drink of water.”
Chen Yi walked toward the break room. Before he reached it, Qiao Qiao stepped out with a cup in her hand. She almost bumped into Chen Yi but stopped herself in time.
“Why are you wearing that look?” Qiao Qiao asked. “It’s almost lunchtime. Can’t you restrain your hunger a little longer?”
The others laughed.
Chen Yi turned back to the general working area. “Very funny, guys.” He turned back to Qiao Qiao again. “I have to ask you something before I go crazy.”
“What?” Qiao Qiao asked.
They were walking back to their desks again.
“Did you find a new job yet?” Chen Yi asked.
“Did you go on an interview mission on Wednesday afternoon then? I mean you asked for it off after all.”
“No. Was out with a friend.”
Chen Yi raised an eyebrow. “Friend?”
Qiao Qiao sat down at her desk. “Yes. Problem?”
Qiao Qiao’s cell phone rang at that time. She grabbed it and answered it right away. “Hello?”
“Want to meet for lunch?” Bianca asked from the other side.
“No spoilers for the book, okay? I want to read it myself.”
Qiao Qiao smiled. “All right then. Same place?”
“Okay, see you.” She hung up after that.
“Who was that?” Chen Yi asked.
“Can’t Qiao have friends?” Wallace jumped in. “What’s the big deal anyway?”
“Big deal? She has been acting so strange these past days. It’s driving me crazy.”
“Then don’t pay attention,” Simon blurted out.
“S, suicidal,” Wallace warned him.
Somehow, they had taken up to calling Simon “S”–Wallace’s doing mostly.
Simon turned to Wallace with a puzzled look.
“Don’t get between a guy and his jealous episodes,” Wallace explained. “You might get hurt in the process.”
“Then how come you just told him to stop seconds ago?”
“I’m a pro, he can’t get me.”
Wallace glanced briefly over at Simon. “Don’t believe me?”
“No. Just strange that…”
Wallace focused on the file he was working on again. “Trust me on this one. You don’t want to get involved.”
He sighed out. “I can’t wait until lunch. This is torturing.”
“Eager to be with someone?” Cyndi teased.
“No. Need a break. And meeting with Tony this afternoon. He finally found the time to come in.”
“Why don’t you go to his house? Like S.”
“Do I want to enter the lion’s den without preparations? No way.”
“I’m being safe. And I don’t want to be his shield. His mom might attack me with strings of questions. What am I supposed to say then? Tell her the truth or say that we failed to meet his standard? She’s not dumb. She’ll figure out he has a hand in it. One way or another.”
“I take it that you have a grand plan pulled together already since you asked him to come.”
Wallace smiled. “You’ll see.”
Cyndi looked around. “When did Chen Yi leave?”
“He didn’t,” Simon said. “He went to Orchids’ office.
“Oh. I thought he’s taking off already.”
“He’s been taking tons of breaks lately,” Wallace remarked. “That’s strange. But as long as he gets the work done, who cares, right?”
Qiao Qiao turned to Wallace and Cyndi. “He has been doing that? How come I don’t know?”
“You’re too busy being with your boyfriend to know.”
“Don’t ‘huh’, we know, Qiao. Well, at least I know.”
Qiao Qiao wrinkled her face. “Whatever.”
They saw Chen Yi walking out of Orchids’ office at that time. He sat down at his desk before letting out a yawn.
“This yawn thing is becoming a habit for everyone,” Wallace said.
“Can’t blame me,” Chen Yi defended himself. “This stuff is getting boring. I think I’m going to try a blue folder soon.”
Wallace waved a blue folder in his hand. “Want this?”
“Sun Xie Zhi?”
“You want to kill me?”
“I thought you want a challenge.”
“Not that challenge. I don’t need to face some nagging mom who wants to sell off her son so soon.”
“Oh? Is your mom doing the same to you?”
“That means partially?”
“She said since I already graduated and have a decent job, why don’t I stop being a player and settle down? What is she thinking? I’m only 22.”
“Better start looking for potential candidates or you’ll be left with all the desperate ones pretty soon.”
“Hard to imagine though,” Cyndi said.
Wallace looked over to Cyndi. “What?”
“How can Chen Yi not find a ‘someone’?”
“Finding someone is easy, but finding someone you like is another thing.”
“What are you talking about?” Simon asked, confused.
“You’ll know one day.” He got up at that time. “I can’t stand this anymore. You kids keep taking off early. It’s my turn today.” He walked to Orchids’ office without another word.
“What’s with people around here and insanity?”
“Probably the weather,” Cyndi said, shrugging her shoulders.
After that, Cyndi went back to typing again. Simon looked over to Chen Yi and Qiao Qiao, but Chen Yi had somehow put his head on his desk–trying to relax. Qiao Qiao, on the other hand, was trying to find something on her desk. Simon gave up and went back to work also. They stayed quiet for the rest of the time–until lunchtime finally arrived that was. Although Wallace said he was taking off early, he just went in to have a talk with Orchids and then came back out to work on some files again.
Qiao Qiao sighed out as Ming Dao came back with their drinks. They changed the location at the last minute and decided to go to a café looking out toward the sea instead.
Ming Dao placed a drink in front of her. “What’s wrong?”
“It’s just strange lately. Everyone at work is acting weird, even Wallace.”
“Why? What happened? Don’t tell me they stop working ‘cause Jacky’s not around.”
“No. Not that. Just that Chen Yi’s acting weird and then…” Qiao Qiao sighed, gesturing her hand.
“Maybe he thinks your group is falling apart? I mean with the four of you.”
Qiao Qiao looked over to him. “You think so?”
Ming Dao took a sip out of his drink before answering. “Maybe. I don’t know.”
At that time, Bianca sat down next to Qiao Qiao. She had been holding a tray full of foods in her hands. Now that she was back, Ming Dao and Qiao Qiao helped her distribute the foods among them all.
“What are you two talking about?” Bianca asked.
“People at work,” Qiao Qiao replied.
“Looks like you have to find a new job soon.”
“Don’t look so gloomy. It’s going to look like you don’t want to hang around with us.”
Bianca’s phone rang at that time. She took it out of her handbag and answered it. “Hello?”
“It’s Johnny,” A voice said into the phone.
“Where are you right now?”
“At a café by the sea.”
“What’s it called?”
“Hold on.” She covered the mouthpiece and looked around for the sign before answering. “Sea Biscuit.”
“It’s Seahorse, Miss Bai, not Sea Biscuit,” Ming Dao corrected her.
Bianca let out a nervous chuckle. “Sorry. You heard him, right?”
“You’re with Ming Dao right now?” Johnny asked, surprised.
“Yeah. Qiao’s here too.”
“Yeah. What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. I guess I’ll just meet with you later then. I’m going to take care of this other stuff first.”
“All right then.” She hung up at that time.
Ming Dao looked over to her. “Who was that?”
“What does he want?”
“Probably getting together to discuss that book.”
“He reads that too?”
“Sure. Why are you so surprised?”
“Never thought he would be interested since he wasn’t so hyped about it the other day.”
“He borrowed the book from one of the people at the photo site on the release date and got addicted. He went to the mall that afternoon to get a copy. We talked a bit about it. He was the one who told me about Chapter 5.”
“You guys promise no spoilers,” Qiao Qiao chided.
Bianca turned to Qiao Qiao with a smile. “Sorry. So…what do you want to talk about then?”
“So…seen Ehlo lately?”
Qiao Qiao shook her head. “No, why?”
“Nothing. It’s just something Johnny said.”
“Johnny’s into matchmaking now?” Ming Dao asked, a bit amused.
“No. Probably just taking over for Jacky and watch over Ehlo.”
Ming Dao laughed. “You make it sound like that guy needs someone to watch over him.”
Bianca shrugged her shoulders. “It does seem that way. One way or another, you know.”
Qiao Qiao turned to Bianca. “Talking about that, how is Sonia doing?”
“Not too bad. She has to do double work now since Jacky’s gone. I mean with their special summer program.”
“They’ll probably get someone to fill in the spot, right? I mean…”
“Sonia didn’t say much. She has been quite busy lately.”
Qiao Qiao nodded.
Bianca’s cell phone rang again. She picked it up faster this time since she had laid it on the table after Johnny called in. “Hello?”
“Guess what?” A girl’s voice said cheerfully into the phone.
“I got a job already.”
“Oh? That’s great. That means you don’t have to help with the shop anymore?”
“Where is that?”
“Tune in to KFT tomorrow morning.”
“You got a job at the radio station?!”
Ming Dao and Qiao Qiao turned to look at Bianca since they’d been looking out toward the water.
“Yes,” The girl continued in that same happy voice.
“That’s great,” Bianca said. “What are you going to cover?”
“Tune in tomorrow and find out.”
“That means I have to wake up early? It’s Saturday.”
“Come on. Show some encouragement, will you?”
“Okay. Fine then.”
“Anyway, I got to go and find some material for it. Talk to you later.”
“Bye.” She hung up and sighed out.
“Who got a job at the radio station?” Ming Dao asked.
“What?!” Qiao Qiao asked in disbelief.
“Not really. Just a bit strange.”
“She always wanted to be a DJ. Now she got the chance.”
“Which station though?” Ming Dao asked.
“That’s the same station as…”
Bianca nodded. “Yes.”
“Which slot?” Qiao Qiao took over with the questioning again.
“The one that’s empty right now.”
“That slot?” Ming Dao asked.
Bianca nodded. “Yes.”
Without knowing, Ming Dao sighed out too.
“Oh gosh, you too?” Bianca asked.
“Sorry. I guess it’s contagious.”
Their little lunch gathering ended in a somewhat gloomy note since everyone seemed down again. Qiao Qiao felt guilty for bringing them down, but she couldn’t help it. Bianca was right. She needed to find that “new job” soon.
Work wasn’t any better when she came back. Only Simon was talking excitedly about something. Everyone else was just working. The only excitement they were looking forward to was seeing what Wallace had in place for Tony. He made it sound so mysterious that they couldn’t help but be curious.
Around 2, Yan Yan came in to visit them. No, it was more like she suddenly danced into the agency.
Wallace wrinkled his eyebrows. “What’s going on in your life, Miss Sunshine?”
“Guess what, guys?” Yan Yan asked excitedly.
Chen Yi and Qiao Qiao had managed to stop typing so they could tune in to Yan Yan’s words as well.
“I won this one contest and was invited to S.H.E.’s upcoming concert!” Yan Yan continued. “How great is that?”
Everyone went back to working after that.
Yan Yan’s expression changed from excitement to discouragement. “Hey! Would you guys hear me out?”
Chen Yi continued to type without looking up at all. “What’s so great about that? You get to go, we don’t.”
“I’m not finished yet.”
“There’s more?” Chen Yi continued in that same passive tone.
“Of course! Look!”
They looked up to see her holding some stripes of papers in her hand.
“And?” Chen Yi drawled out, his sarcasm not getting any better than before.
“Will you guys look a bit more enthusiastic?”
“We’re at work.”
Wallace smiled at Yan Yan’s reaction. “He’s putting you on. What can we do for you today, Miss Liu?”
“I got three extra tickets also so I get to pick which one of you three I can take along with me!”
“I’m definitely out, so what’s great about that?” Chen Yi said.
“Stop sounding ungrateful, will you?” Qiao Qiao scolded, standing up and putting a hand on Yan Yan’s shoulder. “We all know who your best friend is, right?”
Cyndi couldn’t help but smiled at Qiao Qiao’s charming tactic.
Wallace put his usual charming smile on. “And of course who else?”
“Stop acting desperate already,” Chen Yi said, annoyed.
“Hmm…” Yan Yan uttered out.
“You don’t have to decide right away,” Qiao Qiao reassured her. “Sit down. I’ll get you something to drink.”
Although Yan Yan was not saying anything, Qiao Qiao gently shooed her into her seat and ran toward the break room to tend to the “drink.”
Wallace put on his amusing look after Qiao Qiao was gone. He turned to look at Cyndi and then Chen Yi. “What was that?”
Chen Yi smiled. “That’s our Qiao finally back.”
“I haven’t seen you smiled since ages now,” Yan Yan said, resuming her excited tone from before.
“What are you talking about?”
“You haven’t smile at all since…” She wrinkled her face to think. “…I don’t remember anymore.”
Chen Yi went back to his work again, ignoring Yan Yan. Yan Yan mouthed a “What’s wrong with him?” to Wallace and Cyndi. Wallace shrugged his shoulders while Cyndi just smiled. Qiao Qiao finally came back with two cups. She placed one in front of Yan Yan as she sat down at the desk next over, sipping on the other cup.
“So…?” Qiao Qiao asked, gesturing her hand.
Yan Yan smiled. “You’re coming with me, of course. Without even having to go through such…” She gestured toward the cup in front of her.
Qiao Qiao jumped up from her seat. “Hurray!”
“How childish could you get?” Chen Yi mocked.
Qiao Qiao stuck her tongue out at Chen Yi. The others laughed.
At that time, they heard the door opening. Everyone turned around to see who it was.
“He’s here!” Cyndi shouted, alerting them all.
Yes, who else but the one and only–Tony Sun Xie Zhi.
They all got up at that time as he approached them.
“It doesn’t look like it’s going to rain anytime soon,” Yan Yan commented.
Qiao Qiao hit Yan Yan’s shoulder a bit too late since Tony seemed to have heard the comment. He took off his sunglasses and increased his pace toward them.
“Mr. Sun, how have you been?” Wallace said, stepping in front of the girls to greet Tony, extending his hand.
Tony shook Wallace’s hand before turning toward the girls again. He turned to Wallace again after a brief inspection of both girls. “Is she…” He pointed at Yan Yan with his sunglasses. “…new?”
“She’s just visiting,” Wallace answered.
Tony glanced at his watch briefly. “At working hours?”
“We’re not operating some nuthouse, why should we be such stickler for details?” Chen Yi jumped in.
Wallace turned to Chen Yi. “Chen Yi!”
“It seems like your team isn’t as professional as I thought,” Tony remarked.
Wallace turned his attention back on Tony. “I apologize for their behaviors, Mr. Sun. Should we take it to the conference room so it wouldn’t disturb your…”
“Actually…” He shifted his focus to Yan Yan again. “…she looks about right.”
Wallace wrinkled his face, but regained his calm expression quickly. “I’m sorry?”
Tony turned to Wallace again. “I’m taking her.”
“What?!” Yan Yan exclaimed, unable to repress her anger any longer. “You’re kidding, right? Who are you to come in here and claim me? How arrogant can you get?”
Tony turned to Yan Yan, pointing his sunglasses toward her again before opening his mouth. However, before he could speak up, she snatched his sunglasses from him.
“You know how rude it is to point at people like that, don’t you? Talking about professionalism.”
Wallace stepped in front of Yan Yan again. “Mr. Sun…”
“This girl is very interesting,” Tony said, cutting Wallace off.
Yan Yan pushed Wallace aside gently. “Interesting your eye!” After that, she stomped out of there, not looking back at them. When she was almost at the door, she turned back to them as if remembering something. “Qiao, I’ll come back later and talk to you about the concert.” Then she turned back to the others–excluding Tony. “Bye, guys.” She didn’t forget to give Tony a dirty look before turning around to leave.
Tony looked after her a bit before turning to Wallace again. “So, are you in charge?”
Wallace suppressed his annoyance. “Not exactly, but…”
“It’s fine. Tell your boss, no need to match me up with some random girl anymore. I found her.”
As he was saying those last few words, he reached into his raincoat pocket and pulled out something. They could see it was a checkbook when he laid it on the desk next to Qiao Qiao’s to write on. After he was done, he turned to Wallace again, putting the check in Wallace’s hand.
“I guess this place does have its strength of being so unprofessional after all.” He patted Wallace on the shoulder. “Keep up the good work.” Then he turned to the others. “See you guys later.” With that, he turned to leave also.
The others stood there–frozen in place and time. It was not until they heard the door banging in that they realized that Tony was already gone.
Wallace was the first to speak up as he turned around to face the others again. “What was that?”
“All I know is Yan Yan’s in trouble,” Qiao Qiao said. “How dare he…”
“That means he’s stalking her right now? Let me go check.” Chen Yi headed toward the front door to look for possible signs while Cyndi signaled for Wallace to give her the check.
Wallace handed it to her after sitting down at his desk. “While you’re at it, get me a cup of tea or something.”
“This is ridiculous,” Qiao Qiao repeated her objection. “He better be kidding, right?”
Wallace turned to Simon.
“Don’t look at me,” Simon said timidly. “I don’t know what he’s up to either.”
“So much for my grand plan,” Wallace said in a disappointed tone.
Yes, so much for Wallace’s grand plan.
Chen Yi came back at that time and sat down at his desk.
Qiao Qiao turned to him. “Well?”
“Yan Yan’s too fast for him.”
“Good. He better stay away.”
Cyndi came back at that time from Orchids’ office.
Wallace turned to her. “So?”
“Orchids said she’ll contact him later to discuss it officially. Just leave his file aside for now. He might be back again.”
Qiao Qiao wrinkled her face. “What do you mean ‘might’?”
“You want him to successfully court Yan Yan?”
Cyndi reached over to Qiao Qiao’s side to retrieve the empty cups before heading to the break room. She came back several minutes later with full cups for everyone–including Simon. They seemed to be sitting in the same spot and maintaining the same expression since she left. “Come on, guys. Don’t look so gloomy. Yan Yan can take care of herself, right?”
“Of course!” Qiao Qiao exclaimed with a renewed sense of hope.
“But what about the S.H.E. concert?” Chen Yi asked suddenly.
Qiao Qiao turned around and hit Chen Yi’s shoulder.
“Our best friend is at risk of being lured into the lion’s den and you’re over there still thinking about S.H.E.?”
“Cyndi said not to worry.”
“That’s just an expression!”
“Qiao, calm down,” Wallace interfered.
Qiao Qiao was about to turn to Wallace and give him a piece of her mind, but she could see him smiling. “I know that expression! You got a plan, right?”
“What is it?”
“He’s quite well known. If all fails, we could threaten to show a certain picture to the public that he’s harassing one of our agents!”
Qiao Qiao wrinkled her face. “Would it work?”
Cyndi turned to Wallace. “When did you snap pictures?”
“I didn’t. I’m going to.”
“Stop it. That’s not funny. You’re not doing it for real, right?”
“Uh…it’s a nice thought though.” He turned back to the pile of folders on his desk.
Qiao Qiao looked annoyed, thinking they could help her, but now she just had to rely on herself–and maybe Chen Yi. But then wasn’t he thinking of only the S.H.E. concert tickets earlier? She guessed she just had to call for back-up after work. Who else but the trusty Bianca?
© Thursday, July 10th, 2008
Posted: Monday, February 7th, 2011