Chapter 30 – Stepping Over the Line of Friendship

Yan Yan rushed into the building while shoving a folder back into her handbag. She was usually very punctual. She knew that she must maintain her reputation. She sneaked craftily across the boss’ office, making the littlest noise as possible. However, as she was about to congratulate herself of her close encounter with the boss, she heard a familiar voice coming from the boss’ room. She took a quick glance at her surrounding to realize that her co-workers were not around yet so she decided to take the risk. She leaned closer to the boss’ door to listen, trying to detect the familiar voice from inside.

“I guess I should be going now since I have a meeting with my employees,” A confidence voice said.

Yan Yan could hear chairs sliding back. She guessed that the guy and her boss were getting up from their seats. They were probably going to discover her soon if she didn’t move away. She forced herself to edge away from the door no matter how curious she was with the other person’s identity. She kept herself away from both of their view as she could hear the door opening. She was actually hiding behind the wall to the boss’ room. She could hear the other guy speaking up again.

“Thanks again for taking care of Yan,” The familiar voice said with a sincere tone.

“No probs,” The boss returned. “I’m glad you’ve brought it to my attention since she’s a very hard-working girl.”

Because there was no longer a door separating them so Yan Yan could hear them better. She finally realized who the voice belonged to. She snuck a look at the two and confirmed her guess. Then another thing dawned upon her. So that meant…

“So this is your doing?!” She exclaimed, outraged.

Yan Yan had forgotten that she was supposed to be hiding and should know the consequences of eavesdropping. However, it was because of the turn of events that she didn’t seem to care anymore. Tony and her boss were as surprised to see her there.

“Yan!” Tony called out, shocked that she was there–although it would make sense since she worked there after all.

Yan Yan ignored her boss completely since her anger was taking over. “So this is the reason for my promotion?”

“Yan…”

“Don’t ‘Yan’ me! Answer me!”

“I was just telling Brent that…”

“Yan, don’t misunderstand Xie Zhi,” Brent–her boss–attempted to explain for Tony.

“Is this true?” Yan Yan repeated, directing her attention at Tony and ignoring Brent completely.

Tony and Brent could see that Yan Yan was determined to know the answer. By her look, they knew that they had to tell her the whole truth in order to say anything further.

“Yes, I talked to Brent about you,” Tony said in a steady voice. “But it was just a suggestion. If you weren’t up for the part, would he risk his business?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Yan Yan said angrily. “You especially brought it to his attention. You robbed the others a chance to prove themselves. Just because you’re friends with him doesn’t mean that you can just influence him like that. You…”

“Yan,” Brent interfered. “I considered every single employee and you are the best candidate for the position. Don’t you trust my judgment?”

Yan Yan turned on Brent finally. “Would you take me seriously if it wasn’t for his influence?”

“I admit that you’re very young and…” Brent said in a hesitative tone.

“That was all I needed to know,” Yan Yan said, taking off her badge pinned on her shirt. “I quit. I will type up my resignation letter later.”

Without another word, Yan Yan stormed off out of there. Brent could only take a quick glimpse at Tony before Tony dashed off after Yan Yan.

“Yan!” Tony called out desperately. He caught up to her at the entrance of the building and managed to grab a hold of her hand. “Stop acting rash!”

Yan Yan finally turned around to face him again. “Do you think I want to be like this? Just because I look like some fragile girl, you feel the need to take care of me? I don’t need that!”

“I didn’t mean to make you feel that way. I just want equal opportunities for you with the others.”

Yan Yan scoffed. “Equal opportunities? How is it fair for the others?”

“Brent said that he would’ve picked you anyway.”

“He admitted that he wouldn’t have picked me if you didn’t bring it to his attention.”

“Like I said before, would he risk his business just because I said so?”

“Have you ever thought that I don’t want that kind of help? If you respect me or our friendship, you wouldn’t do that.”

She finally yanked her hand away from him and stomped off. He tried to chase after her but she had merged into the crowd. He tried to brush past several people but for some reason, there seemed to be an unusual amount of people at that time of the day that he couldn’t get past all of them. When he finally made his way through the last group of people in the street, he had lost sight of Yan Yan.

*****

Wallace was one block from Qiao Qiao’s workplace when Qiao Qiao’s phone rang. She answered as they were stopping at the red light.

“What’s wrong?” Wallace asked, seeing her troubled look in the rearview mirror.

Qiao Qiao signaled her hand that she would fill him in a bit and continued in a soothing voice to reassure someone until she hung up.

“Well?” Wallace tried again.

Qiao Qiao sighed out. “It was Tony. He’s looking for Yan.”

Wallace flinched but maintained his cool anyway. “He should be at work now, right?”

“Yan found out that he was helping her with getting her promotion so she stormed off.”

“He did that?”

“Yeah. Well, not really like that. He was just suggesting to Yan’s boss–his friend–but the final decision was still Brent’s. Yan overheard them talking about it earlier so she’s mad at him. “

“If he would’ve known her better, he wouldn’t do that.”

“Too late to dwell on that now.” She let out another sigh before turning to Wallace again. “Drop me off.”

“You sure?”

“You have to take Johnny to work. I’m going to call Chen Yi up and tell him about it so we can go find Yan.”

Wallace parked to one side temporarily and sent her some well-wishing before pulling out. Even Johnny sent her an encouraging smile.

“Hello?” Chen Yi picked up seconds later.

“You at work yet?” Qiao Qiao asked.

“No. One block.”

Qiao Qiao told him to pick her up and filled him in briefly what happened on the way. He was pulling out to street again when Qiao Qiao’s phone rang. He shifted to parking mode while waiting for Qiao Qiao, hoping that it was Yan Yan.

“Yan?” Qiao Qiao said, confirming Chen Yi’s guess. “You all right?”

“He called you?” Yan Yan questioned.

“Yeah. He told me what happened and…”

“If you’re my friend, don’t defend him.”

“I’m not. I just want to know if you’re all right. Where are you?”

“I’m all right. I just want some time alone. I don’t want you to worry since I know he would turn the whole town over looking for me. I don’t want him to make you guys worry too so I called.”

“You want us to come?”

“Us?”

“Chen Yi’s here. We’re heading to work together.” It wasn’t exactly like that but she thought she didn’t need to complicate things even more.

“No. It’s all right. Work is more important. I’ll meet you guys after work.”

“All right. Whatever it is, tell us, okay?”

“I know.”

They hung up after that.

Qiao Qiao turned to tell Chen Yi what Yan Yan said before putting her phone away.

“What do we do now?” Chen Yi asked.

Qiao Qiao glanced at her watch. “Do you have to ask?”

“Did she say where she’s at?”

“No. But where do you think she is?”

Chen Yi looked to the side of his windshield, deep in thoughts. Then he snapped his attention back on Qiao Qiao. She smiled back at him. Qiao Qiao called Tony back to reassure him that Yan Yan was fine as Chen Yi pulled out of their parking spot.

Half an hour later, they arrived at East Shore Café to see Yan Yan sitting at the brink of the pier. They joined her there, sitting on either side of her, waiting for her to speak up–whenever that might be. Nothing like silent support. Yan Yan smiled at last after five more minutes of reflection.

Yan Yan smiled. “I’m glad to have you both as friends.”

Chen Yi and Qiao Qiao put a hand on either of her shoulders, giving her a supportive pat.

*****

Producer Lin cleared his throat before saying, “Because our summer special program already ended, we should think of another program to take its slot to keep listeners. Do you guys have any suggestions?” His eyes passed Sonia at that time. “Sonia?”

Angela had to poke Sonia slightly on the back to get her attention. She snapped to attention awkwardly and shook her head at Producer Lin.

“Any ideas?” Producer Lin asked, turning to Jacky. “Don’t tell me our best DJs don’t have any say in this.”

“Boss, I think that you should ask the rest of us as well, not just our…” Ray jumped in.

Producer Lin turned to him. “I’m asking everyone. Whoever has a say, go ahead.”

Ray began to present his grand plan while the others were listening, except for Jacky and Sonia.

“It wouldn’t work,” Angela said bluntly. “It causes too much complication in our schedules.”

“If we keep doing the same thing, our listeners would get bored,” Ray argued.

“We have our own slots anyway. Why would separately going on that program make a difference? It would just increase our exposure but it would also make listeners bored of us. I think we should just stick with our current program schedules. If we want to spice our own program up, then do it individually. Besides, doesn’t the summer special program usually take over someone else’s slot each week? If it’s gone, we’re just back to our regular schedules.”

“I agree with you, Angela, that it would be easier on our schedules,” Producer Lin said, attempting to dissolve their heated debate–though it seemed passive on the surface. “But listeners are looking forward to another special program for the other seasons also so I think we should continue the trend this year and not wait until summer comes again to do a special program again.”

Ray smiled at his victory.

Producer Lin caught Ray’s smile so he spoke up again. “But your idea isn’t up to it, Ray.”

“How about giving Jacky and Sonia some more time to think up of a program for the upcoming quarter?” Sam said, taking over the dissolving heat task since Producer Lin already lost his cool with Ray. “I mean wouldn’t it make sense that listeners are actually looking forward to hear them together than just some special program we put out?”

Producer Lin pointed at Sam. “You’re learning the ropes, Sam. And I think it’s only fair to let Jacky and Sonia think it over and get back to me on it. Unless the rest of you want to contribute your share of it too.”

The others–except for Ray–shook their heads since the majority agreed with Sam’s suggestion. Just as Jacky was nodding absentmindedly, he suddenly snapped to attention again, realizing what he just got himself into.

Jacky cleared his throat. “I think we should switch for the season. How about letting Sam and Angela take over for the next quarter? Listeners are probably just interest in the idea of pairs; and their conflicting views and/or debates for the segments. It would be more refreshing to let a new team take over.”

Producer Lin turned to Sam and Angela. “You two up for the challenge?”

“I think that’s a neat idea, switching couples,” Valerie agreed with Jacky’s declaration. “But how about we post the question for listeners to choose? After all, we want them to like it. While most of us are thinking up of an idea for next quarter’s theme, we might as well let our listeners decide during that time. It would be a great excuse to leave next week empty without losing listeners.”

“Good one, Valerie,” Producer Lin complimented her with a smile.

Ray smiled. “How about pairing off with me and thinking up of an idea then, girl?”

Valerie gave him an evil look. “No, thank you.” She turned back to Producer Lin. “How about switching pairs for the next quarter also? I want to do the show with Jacky if it does happen that we get picked. At least get the ideas of possible pairs for listeners to choose.”

“Now you guys are talking,” Producer Lin said, his mood improving. He looked at his watch. “You guys can go back to brainstorm. I need to go meet…”

The others nodded before he could finish, knowing too well how he operated.

Everyone got up at the same time and left the conference room. Valerie walked toward Jacky and Sam, smiling at Jacky.

“How are you going to repay me for taking Ray off your back?” Valerie asked.

Jacky smiled back. “Coffee? And possibly discussing our ideas?”

Valerie nodded, hugging her folder to her. They walked out of the conference room together as Sam stared at them in amazement. Sam turned toward the other side of the room where Angela and Sonia were. Sonia seemed to not notice while Angela wrinkled her face. Sonia mumbled randomly that she was going back to her office as Angela turned to her. At around the same time, Sam walked toward Angela. They ended up walking out of the conference room together and down the hall.

“Great or what?” Angela muttered halfheartedly. “I set up a trap for them but who knows?”

“Valerie likes Jacky?” Sam asked suddenly.

“It’s obvious considering how much she defends him at different meetings.”

“At least she’s not attacking Sonia, right?”

“Maybe that’s because she knows he likes Sonia so attacking her would just make Jacky be disgusted with her more?”

“Are we going to think up of ideas for next quarter’s special program then?”

Angela’s eyes brightened. “Two can play this game!”

Sam had on a confused look. “What?” He turned to see her bright smile. “What have you got?”

“Valerie said something that I totally agree with.”

“What?”

“The same pairing might bore listeners. We usually do programs together, right?”

Sam nodded.

“So if we separate and collaborate with other fellow colleagues, the results could be unexpectedly successful, right?”

Sam nodded again.

“I’ll take Jacky and you can go after Valerie.”

“Huh? How is that going to help them?”

“As long as we get Valerie occupied, I can talk to Jacky.”

“And he’s going to agree in doing a program with you because?”

“He has been sitting next to you at recent meetings, hasn’t he? Why wouldn’t he agree to do a program with me?”

“Because it lasts the whole quarter and…”

Angela wrinkled her face. “Hey!”

Sam smiled. “All right. I’m just kidding.”

Then she realized something. “Hey, you’re beginning to loosen up. What happened?”

Sam looked down at the ground, not answering but his smile was still apparent on his face.

Angela hit his shoulder. “Come on! We’re friends, right?”

Sam looked up at Angela again. “Nothing. It’s just that I’ve been chatting with Xiao Qiao recently and…”

“Are you guys dating?”

“No…”

“Come on…”

“For real. But she shows me a lot of interesting thing that I haven’t noticed before. I’m just thinking that I should try everything out from now on. Take it easy, you know?”

“It’s good to know that some of us are enjoying life.” Angela said that without any ounce of mockery so Sam knew that she was really glad for him. They walked toward the cafeteria in silence, enjoying the little good news. Upon seeing Jacky with Valerie across the room, Angela turned to Sam again. “Well, are you up for this?”

“All right.”

“That’s the spirit. Come on.”

Sam followed closely behind Angela as she made her way toward Jacky and Valerie’s table. Jacky nodded his head at them as he spotted them approaching.

“Do you guys mind if we join you?” Angela asked.

Valerie smiled. “Of course not. Sit down.”

Angela and Sam took the seat across from them.

“Great suggestion at the meeting,” Angela complimented Valerie.

“Thanks,” Valerie returned, smiling. “So are you guys going to work together for the next quarter’s program then?”

“We were but then I was thinking that we always work together, right?”

Valerie nodded.

“Since you said it yourself that it would be more refreshing if we pair off with other colleagues for the program, I thought that…” Angela paused on purpose as if hesitant of her own suggestion.

Sam tensed up a bit, wondering why Angela was stopping for while Jacky smiled, knowing of Angela’s intention too well.

“Go on,” Valerie urged.

“I want to steal the limelight too,” Angela finished.

“Huh?”

“Would you mind if I plan something with Jacky as well? After all, it would be a test run for the listeners.”

They turned to Jacky at that time.

“Not a bad idea at all,” Jacky admitted. “I’m in.”

“That reminds me, Valerie,” Sam said, taking advantage of the situation.

Valerie turned to Sam at that time.

“Would you mind planning something with me as well after you talk to Jacky?”

Valerie nodded. “This seems fun. Let’s do it. This would increase our chances of getting votes, right?” She flashed on a bright, cheerful smile.

“That’s exactly what I’m thinking,” Angela said. “It creates a variety for listeners to choose but at the same time could mean success for us, right?”

Valerie couldn’t help but slap Angela a high five. Angela’s fast reaction caused Sam to suddenly gain some admiration for her. She’s a clever girl, he thought. Jacky smiled also. He was very well aware of Angela’s intelligence but he must admit she had great reflexes.

“Now that we’re done stating our motives, how about some food?” Jacky said.

“Good idea,” Angela agreed before looking at Valerie. “You guys don’t mind though? ‘Cause Sam and I just want to ask you guys what you think of this idea. We wouldn’t want to eavesdrop on your ideas.”

Jacky shook his head. “I don’t do business at lunch.”

Angela looked at her watch. “What are you talking about? It’s probably breakfast for us.”

“Does it matter?”

Angela shrugged.

Sam turned to Angela. “What do you guys want to drink? I’ll get it.”

“I’ll go order food then.”

Although they said that, but it ended up with the guys going to get drinks while the girls were heading to get food. They met at the same table to eat and talk until noon–both of random topics as well as their upcoming program.

At first, Angela just wanted to separate Jacky and Valerie so she could proceed with her plan, but she came to like Valerie more and more since they seemed to have the same frame of mind.

*****

Sonia finally snapped the folder in front of her close and took a deep breath. She sat back in her chair, trying to relax. However, she couldn’t seem to get the images out of her mind. Jacky’s cold words replayed over and over again in her mind. She forced herself to focus on the situation at hand, but the thoughts kept coming at her. She didn’t realize that tears of frustration were rolling down her cheeks as she rummaged through her drawers to find some documents. She finally stopped her motion altogether and attempted to wipe her tears away once and for all. But his words came back to haunt her mind once again. She felt extremely frustrated that she couldn’t seem to control herself these days. She was especially more frustrated that she couldn’t control herself enough to see past Jacky’s troubles. She shouldn’t have stormed away like she did. She should’ve been stronger. The more she thought about it, the more she was unable to control more tears from flowing down her cheeks.

“Sonia?” Angela’s voice cut through her thoughts.

Sonia was somewhat taken aback upon hearing Angela’s voice. She turned to see Angela stepping forward to open her door wider. She then remembered that she’d left it ajar for some air. She’d forgotten to close it again. She quickly wiped away her tears, not wanting to worry Angela anymore than she already did. “I’m all right.” Her voice failed her because it came out all hoarse.

Angela took the seat in front of Sonia’s desk before speaking up. She’d left the door ajar the way she’d found it–maybe just a few inches more. “What’s going on? We’re friends. You can’t hide it from me.”

Sonia took the tissue from Angela and wiped the rest of her tears away, clearing her throat briefly before answering. “I’m just frustrated with myself for losing it. I can’t believe I wasn’t paying attention today at the meeting.”

Angela knew it was only part of the reason, but she didn’t want to expose Sonia. It would be too cruel. “Don’t worry. You have me, right?”

Sonia smiled. “Thanks.”

Angela gave Sonia a supportive pat on the hand.

While they continued to talk, they did not realize that someone had been listening in on their conversation. It was none other than Jacky. He had parted ways with Valerie minutes ago after Angela and Sam left. As he was walking by Sonia’s office, he could see Angela entering it. Out of curiosity, he took a peek to see what the girls were doing. He didn’t expect to witness such a scene. Upon seeing Sonia’s tears, he beat himself up even more for being so harsh. However, he knew that he had to do it sooner or later. It was better that it would be sooner. He let out another long sigh before continuing on his way out of the building. Because he was so focused on Sonia, he didn’t know that Sam had been observing his behavior and was now following him from behind. Sam finally called out to him as they reached the entrance. He stopped and turned around to wait for Sam to catch up to him.

Jacky smiled. “Got other bright ideas? Like doing a program with me as well? As buddies–that is.”

“No,” Sam said. “Actually, I want to talk to you about something else.”

As they stepped aside so they wouldn’t block the entrance, Jacky could detect some of what Sam’s about to say so he tensed up.

“Shouldn’t you and Sonia…”

“Are you into matchmaking nowadays as well?”

“I just thought that since you two seem to have some sort of misunderstandings, it would be better to talk it out than let it continue like this.”

Jacky knew that he shouldn’t assume matters or take it out on Sam so he held back his words, scanning the parking lot once before turning back to Sam. “I know that you and Angela are trying to help me since we’re all friends and you would want to see us get along at work. But there are some things that can’t be undone.”

“I don’t know exactly what happened, but maybe you two should try first before…”

“I’m serious this time, Sam.”

Sam could see that Jacky was determined so he didn’t want to force him any further.

Jacky put a hand on Sam’s shoulder. “Thanks, though.”

“If there’s anything…”

Jacky nodded, knowing that Sam really cared for him as a friend–not just a casual colleague.

The guys separated after that with Jacky going to his car and Sam going back inside to find Angela.

*****

As Ming Dao, Qiao Qiao, Chen Yi, and Bianca were sipping away at their drinks, they were lost in their own thoughts as well. It seemed that things were happening one after another to keep them busy. Qiao Qiao let out another sigh as Chen Yi looked at his watch again. They turned to look when they heard someone walking up to them to be disappointed once again. Johnny sat down next to Bianca while eyeing them suspiciously.

“It looks like you guys aren’t welcoming me at all,” Johnny teased.

“It’s not that,” Qiao Qiao spoke up for them all. “We’re just waiting for words from you know who.”

“If he’s not here by 6, I’m out ‘cause I have a date with Xiao Yu,” Chen Yi said.

“You guys watching some movies again?”

“No. We already watch all the ones showing right now. We’re probably heading to the mall to check out the latest…”

“Games?”

“Partially.”

“Talking about movies, were you at the theater near my house that night? I meant the same day we spent shopping for the BBQ.”

“Yeah. Why?”

“I thought that was you.”

Chen Yi turned to Qiao Qiao. “Oh…so that was why you guys weren’t half interested in watching the movie the second time around.”

Qiao Qiao nodded. “Sort of.” Then she turned to Ming Dao. “You were around there as well?”

Ming Dao looked puzzled but then he seemed to have remembered. “Yeah. I wanted to check it out myself. Didn’t realize you guys were there too.”

Chen Yi pointed at Qiao Qiao. “I thought you guys went together.”

Qiao Qiao rolled her eyes. “Would I be asking him that if I knew he was there?”

Chen Yi shrugged. “Whatever.”

“Is he going to show up or not?” Qiao Qiao pondered again in her impatient tone–after several minutes of silence.

“Should we call him?” Bianca asked the others.

“Maybe not,” Ming Dao said. “He could still be talking to Mrs. Chu.”

As if to relieve them of the nerve-racking wait, Ehlo and Wallace appeared in front of them at that time. They were walking side-by-side. The others were somewhat surprised that they’d come together but they had more important matters to worry about than this. After all, it might not be so strange since Wallace did comment about going with Ehlo on the dismissal of their meeting that morning. Bianca and Qiao Qiao tried to make room for both guys but Ehlo signaled for them to stop. He and Wallace remained standing.

“Change of plans, guys,” Ehlo announced.

They were beyond anxious to find out but they held their tongues so Ehlo could continue.

“Auntie has to go somewhere so she told us not to come. I’ll try again later.” He gestured his hand casually. “How’s it going on your side?” He noticed Angela and  Sam weren’t around. “My fiancée’s not here yet?”

“Huang Yu Rong!” Angela’s voice shouted from behind them.

Ehlo turned around in time to see Angela’s annoyed expression. He pretended not to see it, looking past her to Sam. “So…how did you guys do today?”

“Great plan that just got shot down,” Angela said, both disappointed and annoyed at the same time.

“Care to elaborate?”

Angela stopped in front of them with Sam next to her before explaining to them all of their progress of the day. After she was finished, Ehlo let out a sigh before commenting.

“Oh great,” Ehlo said passively. “Now we have another competition before we can get rid of the first one.”

“Actually…” Angela said.

Ehlo turned to his attention to her again.

“I like Valerie. She’s…”

“Whose side are you on?”

“If you want me to choose, I rather Jacky ends up with Valerie than Jo if he can’t be with Sonia.”

“Thanks for the vote then,” A voice said from behind them.

They turned around to find Valerie walking up to them.

“You followed us?” Angela asked, shocked.

“No,” Valerie said. “It was just a coincidence that I came here. But I saw you guys gathered here so I thought I come over and say hi. I just overheard the last bit.”

“So you’re the love rival?” Ehlo asked.

Angela turned around to give Ehlo a slap on the shoulder.

“What? I can’t investigate?”

“Not in those words.”

“You must excuse my roommate for his choice of words,” Wallace apologized to Valerie on Ehlo’s behalf.

Valerie smiled. “To be compared to Sonia Sui is actually not bad.”

“I told you she can take it,” Ehlo said to Angela.

“Your boyfriend?” Valerie asked Angela.

Angela turned back to Valerie with her face wrinkled up. “No way.”

Ehlo smiled and slipped a hand around Angela’s shoulders. “She meant we’re engaged, not just dating.”

Valerie’s eyes brightened. “Really?!”

Angela slapped Ehlo’s hand off her shoulders and edged further away from him. “He’s just messing with you.”

“So…what are you guys up to now? Some kind of conspiracy?”

Ehlo studied Valarie suspiciously. “Trying to sabotage us?”

“On the contrary, I thought it’s getting interesting.”

Ehlo and Angela turned back to the others to confide with them.

“We’re actually trying to help Jacky and Sonia so if you want to help, stay,” Chen Yi said. “If you don’t want to, you can just breeze by here and pretend you haven’t heard anything at all.”

“Matchmaking?” Valerie asked.

“That’s the short version.”

“Sounds great. I’m in. But then we have to get past Producer Lin and the others first.”

“Correction, we have to get past someone first.”

“Who?”

Ehlo turned back to Valerie. “Some annoying pest.”

“Sounds great. I’m in.”

Valerie pulled a chair up to the table and sat down between Chen Yi and Johnny.

“Are you trying to help us for real or are you just curious?” Ehlo asked again. “Like wanting to study up on the game plan before…”

“Hey, I admit that I like Jacky but it’s hard to ignore their strange behaviors these past weeks. I meant his and Sonia’s.”

“You’re blunt all right,” Chen Yi complimented her. “Admitting to us that you like Jacky, considering most of us here do not know you at all.”

Valerie turned to Chen Yi. “What’s there to be ashamed about?”

“I like your style, girl.”

Qiao Qiao cleared her throat loudly at hat time.

Chen Yi turned to her. “What?”

“May I remind you that you have a girlfriend already?”

“Please, I was just giving her a compliment. Besides, she’s more like a brave big sis than a possible love interest.”

Valerie smiled. “You two are together?”

Chen Yi turned back to Valerie. “No. We just like to annoy each other. My girl’s cuter than this.”

Qiao Qiao poked Chen Yi in the rib at that time as Ming Dao tried to pry her hand from Chen Yi’s jacket at the same time.

“Interesting,” Valerie continued. “I didn’t expect to see such a show this afternoon.”

Ehlo looked at his watch. “Well, stay for the show. I have to head home.”

“I thought we’re planning some sort of…”

“We?”

“Come on now, don’t you guys want my help? Better three than just two at the station, right?”

“She has a point,” Angela said to Ehlo. “And trust me, you don’t want her as our enemy.”

“I wouldn’t go to the extreme of snatching Jacky from Sonia. And wanting to do a program with him doesn’t count. Can’t I just spend some time with him? We’re colleagues after all.”

“Fair enough,” Ehlo said finally. “I’ll let you in.”

“Great. What to do now?”

Ehlo quickly recapped their plan and what happened so far.

“No wonder the suggestion with having Jacky and Sonia continuing to work together. Slow phase but clever because you don’t want Jacky to catch on that fast.”

“He’s already catching on,” Sam muttered.

“What do you mean?”

“I had a talk with him after seeing you…” He looked at Angela. “…and Sonia in Sonia’s office this afternoon. Jacky told us not to play matchmaking anymore. He sounds so negative I don’t believe it’s him.”

“We can’t give up now, right? You guys should be more subtle while I move in on him. I mean he wouldn’t suspect as much since he knows I like him.”

“You told him you like him?” Chen Yi asked in disbelief, even though he knew she was blunt.

Valerie turned to Chen Yi. “Of course not. But he’s smart. He would catch on after all these times I’ve spent defending him at meetings and all. I wouldn’t like him if he wasn’t so intelligent.”

“You’re too freaky, you know that?”

“Thank you.”

“Anyway, I’ll try to talk to Auntie and find out the whole marriage thing,” Ehlo continued.

“Then we’ll go from there.”

“Arranged marriage? I don’t believe this. It discourages me from…”

“Wanting to marry into the Chu family?” Chen Yi finished.

Valerie nodded.

“That’s just freaky,” Ehlo said, pointing at Valerie. “Now I don’t know if you’re friends or foe.”

Angela walked over to where Valerie was and put a hand on her shoulder. “I think we can trust her.”

Valerie slapped Angela a high five before getting up from her seat.

“I’m heading home now,” Valerie said. “See you guys later then.”

The others waved goodbye to her before turning back to talk among themselves. They ended up going home around 8 unlike how they claimed to be having other plans, especially Chen Yi.

© Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Re-posted: Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

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