Chapter 36 – May the Best Man Wins

The group arrived back at Uncle Ben’s noodle stall around 6:00 P.M. and was just in time to help him close up–with the exception of Penny, Valerie, and Melody. Although Uncle Ben had said that he would close early today, but some unexpected customers had showed up and he didn’t want to disappoint them. Luckily, Jacky had called back earlier before coming so they wouldn’t have to wait for several hours. Instead of leaving early like planned, they’d stayed at East Shore Café to explore some more–in pairs instead of individually or in group of friends like before, except for a few people. They had to find a way to get some exercise in to burn off all the food they’d eaten anyhow. They also ended up watching the sunset together before coming back to Uncle Ben’s shop.

They finished cleaning up within fifteen minutes since there were more than enough of them to help out. However, the trip there took a bit more challenge since there were so many of them. Jacky and Wallace separated them out into several groups and gave them directions so they could go at their own pace.

Jacky, Sonia, Ming Dao, Qiao Qiao, Ehlo, Angela, Wallace, and Cyndi were actually the first two groups to arrive. They ended up helping Uncle Ben and Aunt June tidying up while waiting for the others. They also had to join tables together for the obvious reason, but outside since they’d somehow agreed on it along the way. After the guys moved the tables together, the girls helped bring the lights outside since the porch light didn’t extend far enough for them to see clearly. Most importantly, they had to bring bug repellent items outside and place it at different points of the table to make sure they won’t be attacked later. When they were done, they sat down at the table to rest–scattering out from each other. Uncle Ben and Aunt June were actually inside putting away their stuffs from their van.

“Hmmm…it’s actually really romantic eating dinner outside like this,” Qiao Qiao remarked. “Especially with the moonlight shining on us like this.”

Ehlo looked over at her from across the table. “I thought it’s the lights from these…” He pointed at the light in front of him. “…ones, you know, battery lights.”

Qiao Qiao gave him an evil look. “You’re ruining the mood.”

“Great, we’re arguing when we should be enjoying this view,” Angela mumbled, looking around. “This is actually a great place. So far out in the countryside but so nice.”

“Yeah, so nice and peaceful,” Ehlo said, grinning. “Even if we died here, no one would know.”

“Huang…Yu…Rong…”

“What?”

“You’re ruining the mood!” The others–except for Sonia–yelled out at the same time.

Ehlo gave the others a quick scan over. “Whoa. You guys are united all right.”

“Good that you realize it,” Angela said.

Ehlo shrugged his shoulders. “Guess I have to give in this time.”

Ehlo turned around to look at the gate in front of the house, trying to see if the others were coming yet. He ended up leaning his back against the table and looking at the moon. Just as the others were going back to looking at the moon or toward the gate and waiting for the others, Angela couldn’t help smiling at her victory since Ehlo didn’t turn around to argue with her anymore. Wallace caught her smiling, thinking she might be up to something again. He smiled, knowing that Huang was in for good this time.

About ten more minutes later, the others managed to show up. Jacky and Wallace got up to open the gate for them while the others stayed put since they didn’t feel like shifting their eyes away from the moon. Yes, not even Ehlo.

“Nice of you guys to finally show up,” Ehlo blurted out upon seeing Chen Yi. “After we’ve already done all the necessities.”

“Anytime, Huang,” Chen Yi said with a proud smile.

When the rest of the group was standing near the table as well, Uncle Ben and Aunt June came back outside to greet them.

“I guess we’re ready to eat,” Uncle Ben said.

“Uncle, please don’t do anything,” Jacky said. “We’ll take care of it for you.”

As if on cue, Wallace nodded in agreement also.

“I asked you kids to come here after all,” Uncle Ben reminded them. “It wouldn’t make sense to make you all work, right?”

Qiao Qiao got up from her spot–a distance from Angela–and walked toward Uncle Ben. “Come on, Uncle Ben. Don’t treat us like outsiders. How about treating it as giving us the opportunity to cook for you? You can be a judge of our culinary.” She turned to face the others. “In fact, some of you will be too while some of us cook. How about it?”

“I’ll take the challenge then,” Jacky said, looking around. “Who’s with me?”

Sonia raised her hand. Reluctantly, Ehlo raised his hand also–with the help of Wallace’s poke of course. Since Wallace had already poked Ehlo, it was only right for him to raise his hand as well.

“Me too,” Chen Yi volunteered. “But please promise us that Qiao will be one of the judges.”

Qiao Qiao turned on Chen Yi. “Hey!”

The others laughed as Chen Yi sent a challenging look back at Qiao Qiao.

“I’ll help too,” Johnny continued.

“Me too,” Bianca chimed in.

“I guess it’ll be fun,” Angela agreed.

“I think that’ll be enough,” Jacky said. “Sorry, sis. You’re out. We have to keep ourselves alive.”

Qiao Qiao had no choice but to sit back down. Ming Dao sat down next to her–this time around instead of across the table like before–and tried to calm her down.

Since it was settled, they ended up taking turns–with several at a time–to whip up their own dishes for everyone to enjoy. And since Uncle Ben had a large supply of food in place–for obvious reasons, they could cook enough for all to eat. However, it wasn’t really a problem with portions since they’d already eaten not long ago. They just wanted to gather around to enjoy the night with Uncle Ben and Aunt June before heading home. So while some of them were cooking or were getting ready to prepare their dishes, the others helped with setting the table and preparing drinks. When the “chefs” were done with their dishes, the others helped carry the foods out to the table.

Since everyone had already moved around–one time or another–they ended up at different spots of the table when they finally sat down to eat. Wallace was at the end of the table on the other side with Cyndi, Ehlo, Angela, Jacky, Sonia, Sam, Bianca, and Johnny–in that order. On this side of the table, Ming Dao was the one on the end across from Wallace with Qiao Qiao, Yan Yan, Tony, Uncle Ben, Aunt June, Achel, and Chen Yi–in that order.

For the first few minutes, they ate in silence.

“Umm…” Achel uttered.

“Are you all right?” Qiao Qiao hollered toward the end of the table, leaping at the opportunity to discredit one of the chefs. “Need water?”

“Stop being bitter, Zeng Zhi Qiao,” Chen Yi yelled back from his end of the table.

Qiao Qiao stuck her tongue out at him before turning back to her food.

Jacky smiled. “How mature, sis.”

Qiao Qiao gave him a look before going back to eating again.

Although Qiao Qiao seemed bitter about her disqualified status in participating in the culinary contest, but she ended up enjoying it for the rest of the meal as they ate and talked about casual topics again. It wasn’t until they were done eating that the judges took the opportunity to discuss the marks among themselves while the others cleaned up. The atmosphere heightened up even more since they were eagerly waiting for the result. However, it wasn’t all about the competition, but the excitement of the night spent together as an overall. When the “chefs” were done cleaning up, some of the “judges” were still debating and the rest were busy carrying on side conversations at various spots at and from the table. It was at that moment that Angela leaned into Jacky to whisper something.

“Hey, sorry,” Angela said with the utmost sincerity possible.

Jacky, confused, gave her his full attention. “What’s wrong?”

“I didn’t want to say it earlier ‘cause I realize everyone was staring at me but since everyone’s so loud now, I want to say it.”

Jacky smiled. “What are you apologizing for then? I thought you said something about past misunderstandings, isn’t it enough? In fact, it wasn’t your fault at all. I was always acting strange in the past when you first knew me too.”

“No, it wasn’t just that.”

“You mean there were more things that I did and I never knew?” Jacky teased.

“I didn’t mean that. I…”

Jacky wiped off his teasing smile and put on his serious expression so Angela could continue.

“I always thought that you were somehow involved with Wallace’s decision about breaking up with me, so…and I was constantly in conflict with myself. I tried to stop myself to think those thoughts at times and face it, but couldn’t. But when I came back here, it was that again when I see you again. I would jump back and forth between defending you and getting back at you at different times. Recently, I finally could accept it and move on so I want to apologize to you for being so unfair to you in the past.”

Jacky put a hand on Angela’s shoulder. “Forget it. After all you and the others did for me, it wasn’t anything. I set myself up for destruction when I was the annoying cousin during our first meeting, right? I have to apologize too because I was still mad about Jo’s situation.”

Angela smiled. “I guess that’s the last of the demons from the past then?”

Jacky patted her shoulder again. “I guess so.”

Angela extended her right hand out to Jacky. “Friends?”

Jacky reached his right hand out to shake hers. “Friends.”

It was at this same time that Ehlo chose to return to his spot at the table and also witnessed this memorial moment. Jacky and Angela released each other’s hand–not out of awkwardness–but just casually and normally.

Ehlo eyed them suspiciously. “What have you two been up to?”

Angela turned to Ehlo. “Stop being so nosy, Huang.”

“Great. A guy can’t ask a question around here anymore.”

“Not when that guy knows only of picking on girls,” Jacky said, sending Angela a secret smile after that.

Ehlo pointed at them both. “You two better not be scheming something up for us. What is it? A mid-autumn festival surprise?”

“What is it this time, you guys?” Wallace asked from behind them.

Ehlo turned to Wallace. “I’m trying to find out the same thing.”

“Is this another mission for Huang and Huo?”

“Sure, you’re in.” He turned back to Angela and Jacky. “What do you say, guys? Confess now or we’re on your tail.”

Angela put on her challenging look. “With Jacky on my side, I’m not afraid of you.”

Ehlo pointed at her. “You better not mean what I think you mean.”

Jacky slipped his right hand around Angela’s shoulders. “What do you think we mean?”

“Yeah,” Angela said, playing along.

Ehlo looked around the place. “Where in the world is Sonia?”

“Wow. And I thought Huang and Huo are an unbeatable team. How could you resort to this?”

Seeing how anxious Ehlo looked and how confused Wallace looked, Jacky let out a laugh and let go of Angela’s shoulder. He still had on his teasing smile though. “You guys are just too easy to trick.”

Ehlo pointed at Jacky. “Hey!”

Angela put on her victory smile at that time. “If I had a camera right now, I would’ve captured the moment when Huang and Huo got defeated.”

“But you must admit one thing, Huang,” Wallace said to Ehlo.

Ehlo turned to Wallace. “What?”

“Our friend is finally back.”

Ehlo turned back to look at Jacky again. Seeing that Jacky’s confidence was more apparent on his face like once upon a time, Ehlo turned back to Wallace and nodded.

“I’ll give in this time just for the sake of it then,” Ehlo said to the three of them in general, smiling.

Jacky and Wallace stepped forward and clapped Ehlo’s shoulder for emphasis. Angela smiled at their unison once again. Yes, their celebration had been noticeable this afternoon at their BBQ already but for the three–no, four–of them, it was this moment.

*****

It was hitting 11:00 P.M. already but Ehlo still found himself to be full of energy despite the long day they’d had. Even though they were just hanging out and holding celebrations, but it was still exhausting. Ehlo claimed earlier to hit the bed as soon as he got home. However, it was almost midnight now, yet he felt his energy restoring miraculously since he returned. He guessed that it could be the excitement left over from earlier. Or maybe it was just the shower he just took. While he was drying his hair, he decided to go online real quick to see if Wei Ru was around. He knew he could do it tomorrow since she could be asleep by now but he decided to check anyway. While he waited for MSN to sign in, he packed his briefcase and put it by the door so he didn’t have to do it in the morning. He turned his attention back on the screen in time to see a message box popping up. He straightened up to see a familiar screen-name, Mystical GirL, in front of him. He was surprised and happy at the same time to find out it was Wei Ru. He repositioned the keyboard before typing in a reply message to her.

Breeze by the Sea: I thought you’re already asleep. What are you doing staying up so late? But I’m glad you’re up all the same since I want to tell you something.
Mystical GirL: I’m glad that you’re still up as well since I’ve been thinking of lots of things and made up my mind. I also want to tell you this ASAP.
Breeze by the Sea: Really? I’ve been doing some thinking as well. That’s also the reason why I wanted to tell you that something.
Mystical GirL: What is that ‘something’? You’re not making sense. Something has never changed. Care to elaborate or do you want me to go first?

Ehlo smiled at the screen upon reading her message. She’s impatient as always, he thought. He flexed his hands together and did a quick stretch before typing in a very long message–actually several since MSN didn’t allow him to type THAT long of a message into the message box at one time–to Wei Ru, explaining the happenings of the past weeks. Then he waited for her response. She had been typing in mostly “uhuh” to reassure him that she was still around. He sat back in his chair to wait since he could see the message “Mystical GirL is typing…” on the screen. When the message did go through, he had to laugh out loud–literally. He brought his hands back to the keyboard and resumed his typing.

Breeze by the Sea: Is that all you can say? “Wow”? I thought it would be long or something more than just a “Wow”
Mystical GirL: What do you expect me to say? It seems like you’ve been hiding a lot of stuffs from me all those times that we’ve talked.
Breeze by the Sea: There’s no point in worrying you over things you couldn’t change anyway. So I chose to conceal it until the right moment.
Mystical GirL: Sure, whatever.
Breeze by the Sea: Don’t believe me?
Mystical GirL: You didn’t even tell me that one secret that you promised me before I left, remember? How could I trust you now?
Breeze by the Sea: Awww…come on. So I forgot it by accident. But since you’ve brought it up, I thought I tell you since I wasn’t so sure if it was the correct answer at the time anyway. What I wanted to tell you was actually that I finally sort out my thoughts of who I really like; and I won’t give up on her.
Mystical GirL: Really? That was what I wanted to tell you too but I just discovered it recently like I just typed a few minutes back.
Breeze by the Sea: Want to share stories then?
Mystical GirL: Since you still owe me an explanation, you go first.

After he sent another set of long messages toward Wei Ru, he sat back to wait for her to respond like earlier. When he expected for her message to be along the line of a “Wow” again, he saw a longer message. He smiled as he read the answer.

Mystical GirL: I can’t believe you’ve been going through the same thing as I am. Guess what? Me too.
Breeze by the Sea: That’s great then. It’s good when we’re on the same wavelength. I guess I won’t have to go into too much details then.
Mystical GirL: Are you kidding me? Stop cheating and cutting corners! Is this how a confession is supposed to be? Say it now!

Ehlo laughed again at her aggressiveness as he typed in his answer. He smiled when he saw another long response from her. This was moving in a smoother direction than he thought. He continued to chat with her until around 2:00 A.M. before they both said their temporary goodbyes and signed off.

*****

The following week rolled by with the group resuming their normal life without any other problems popping up to distract them–and not to mention more willing than during the last few weeks. However, it was not of any nature near boring at all since there were a lot of things they needed to take care of, considering how Jacky and Angela had to finish up their work at the station before leaving. There was also the whole idea of waiting to see if Angela’s safe plan worked or not because she had spoken up for Jo, hoping to get her words through. Among those matters, there were also the changes with Ehlo, Angela, and Wallace. After their so-called “insight moments”, they became much more relaxed–although it wouldn’t make a difference with Ehlo since he was always so cheerful despite any situations.

Jacky–lucky as he was–managed to stumble upon a break because when he called Orchids up with his inquiry about a possible need of someone, she was more than glad to take him in since Laura decided to quit but was still willing to stay until Orchids could find a replacement for her. The sudden lost in two DJs at the station wasn’t taken lightly with Producer Lin but he could not do anything because of Jacky’s persistence. Luckily, Valerie came to everyone’s rescue again by suggesting up new ideas for upcoming programs to keep listeners interested. Because Jacky and Angela quit, the ones who were in charge of the upcoming season’s program ended up being Sam and Valerie.

While everything was almost taken care of for Jacky, Angela was more than welcomed by her uncle to come back to his gift shop. It was a lot better for him since they seemed to have the same frame of mind–unlike his current assistant. However, it didn’t mean he was firing her either but it just seemed a bit easier on the poor girl with Angela backing her up from time to time.

On a more personal basis, Jacky seemed to come home more often with Sonia since things were already resolved. Superstition asides, Jacky’s father was more than glad to see him and his mother getting along once again. Not to mention seeing Uncle Ben and Aunt June coming by more often as well–with Wallace. Jo seemed to be on the silent for the time being as the Chus still keep in contact with her family–after all, they were still relatives on some level.

In the mist of these changes, Huang and Huo were on the move again with finding a new project for themselves. It happened one day during the second week of their normal life when Ehlo dropped by Orchids Agency to visit around lunch time–which was almost a miracle but maybe not as surprising since Jacky worked there now.

As Ehlo came into the shop, the others were actually at their desks–except for Simon and Cyndi who were out on their assignments at that moment. Jacky and Wallace were actually talking about something totally random instead of working on their cases. They only paid attention when they heard the chime jingling. As usual, Ehlo had a bright smile on his face.

“Guess what, Huo?” Ehlo asked. “New project!”

“What is it this time?” Wallace asked, twirling his pen in his left hand.

Ehlo didn’t answer right away, but walked closer to them while reaching into his pocket to take out something. When he was closer, they could see a small plastic bag of various colors.

Jacky wrinkled his face. “What is it?”

Ehlo still didn’t reply but tossed it on the surface between Jacky and Wallace’s desks. Jacky turned back around to see what it was while Wallace picked it up to read the label. While the guys were observing the “mysterious item”, Ehlo had taken the time to sit down at a chair next to Jacky.

“This is so yesterday, Huang,” Wallace commented after realizing what it was.

Ehlo turned to Wallace. “You have a better idea than this?”

Wallace didn’t reply but took his turn to reach down toward a side drawer and brought out an almost identical bag as Ehlo’s. It just had different colors.

Jacky looked from Wallace to Ehlo. “What is it with you guys?” He looked at his own bracelet still on his left hand. “Did you plan this so I can actually laugh about it? ‘Cause you know this one was already pulled–several weeks back.”

“Come on now,” Ehlo said. “I’m not that lame to try a joke twice. What I mean is this is my new project, just wondering if Huo’s crazy enough to join in.”

Wallace laughed. “Well, Huang, Huo is already ahead of you.”

Wallace handed the plastic bag back to him.

“Like you’re any better,” Ehlo said. “It looks like you haven’t opened yours at all. So it’s only safe to say that you just thought of it today.”

Wallace flashed on his challenging smile. “Really?” He quickly reached into his pocket and pulled out something for the guys to see. When he uncovered his hand, the guys could see it was a bracelet in dark purple with shades of lavender mixed in. He waved his bracelet around. “Since you’ve found me out, I guess I might as well wear it now.”

While he did that, Ehlo was still shifting his eyes in between the finished bracelet and the other pack–somewhat puzzled. “What are you up to, Huo?”

“While you guys have been researching for a fairground spot for the upcoming week, I’ve been carrying out my plan.”

Ehlo eyed him suspiciously. “What plan?”

“Confession right on the mid-autumn festival.” He smiled again “Clever? She’ll never see it coming.”

“That’s so yesterday, Huo. I bet tons of people’d done that before.”

“Because it has been done before so she would expect me to be more original than that.”

“Huo, you’re slipping. We’ll see if it works.”

Wallace eyed Ehlo’s unopened bracelet pack. “What about you? Are you going to turn those yarns into a bracelet or are you just buying it for yourself?”

Ehlo pointed at Wallace. “Huo, are you challenging me?”

Jacky had been staying silent on purpose to observe the guys but now he couldn’t help it. He cleared his throat. “Need a witness, guys?”

Ehlo and Wallace turned to Jacky at the same time. “Deal!” They turned back to glare at each other before continuing.

“How about making it Friday since we’ve already decided to go on that day last weekend?” Ehlo suggested.

Wallace smiled. “The better. Then it would contain both surprise and original since we wouldn’t be technically confessing exactly on the mid-autumn festival and she won’t see it coming.”

“Whoever loses will have to disclose who he confessed to right in front of everyone …and…” He paused on purpose to flash on his mischievous smile again. “…that he got rejected.”

“Who backs out is a turtle and a slime frog rolled right into one.”

“That’s a good one, guys, I want to participate too,” A voice behind them said.

All three guys turned around at the same time to see Tony walking in. They were so into making the deal that they didn’t hear the chime.

Ehlo got up from his seat and leaned back on the desk before speaking up. “Sun Xie Zhi, you want to join the fun?”

“Sure, why not?” Tony said casually. He was actually where the guys were now–with his sunglasses lowered.

“That means there are three of us now, right?” Wallace asked.

Ehlo turned back to Wallace. “Huo, are you sure you can live it down with him joining in? His winning might be your lost.”

Wallace smiled. “And vice versa.”

Tony pointed his sunglasses at Wallace. “If you’re thinking that I’m confessing to Xin Ling xiao shi mei, then you got it all wrong big time.”

Wallace got up, smiling. “Who is the lucky girl then?”

“Wipe that smile off and admit defeat since I got a great plan. And I wouldn’t mind telling you who it is either.”

“I think most of us got it straightened out already,” Jacky jumped in. “Only Wallace is the one still clueless. “

“Okay then. But how about betting on a meal?”

“If you want to go out and eat, just say so. You don’t have to use this bet as an excuse.”

Tony pointed his sunglasses at Jacky at that time. “That’s where you’re wrong. I meant if anyone loses, they’ll have to suffer Qiao’s cooking for a month.”

The other three guys burst out laughing at the same time after realizing Tony was serious. Even Ehlo couldn’t stand straight anymore. When they regained themselves again, Ehlo was the first to speak up.

“I think that’s even more torturous than being called a turtle and a slime frog.” He signaled at Tony. “Thumbs up, man. You definitely have style.”

Tony pointed with his sunglasses again. “So, are you guys in or out?”

“In. Definitely in.” Ehlo turned to Wallace. “Well, Huo? What about you? The bet too great for you?”

“Never,” Wallace said with much confidence.  “I’m in.”

“What are you guys ‘in’ on then?” A voice behind them–yet again–asked.

They turned around to see Angela, Sam, and Sonia walking in. Surprisingly, the person who spoke up seconds before was Sam–and not the other too usual chatty ones.

“Great timing,” Tony said. “How about a bet?”

The other three were in front of them now and were looking at all four guys, trying to figure out what they were up to. Sonia walked toward Jacky and gave him a questioning look.

Jacky flashed on his charming smile. “It wasn’t my fault this time.”

“Come on, Sonia,” Ehlo interfered. “You can’t blame my buddy. He’s just a witness this time.”

Sonia turned her attention away from Jacky and toward the other guys again, waiting for an explanation.

“The short version, Huang and Huo are betting on our confessions, but Sun decided to join in on our bet,” Wallace summarized quickly.

Angela looked from one to the other again. “You guys are betting on your confession? How crazy can you guys get?”

“The bottom line is–don’t let the others know,” Ehlo said. “I mean besides from the ones who are here now.”

“That involves the rest of the girls, right?”

“Shouldn’t you state who you’re confessing to first?” Sam asked. “So that we don’t slip it out by accident.”

Ehlo turned to look at the others first before turning back to Sam. “Good point so you wouldn’t ruin our plans. I’ll go first. Xiao Ru.”

“Too obvious!” The others exclaimed at the same time.

Ehlo gave them a quick scan. “If you guys spill the beans before we meet her at the fair, I’m so going to take you guys out.” He pointed his finger at the others threateningly. “No dirty tricks to sabotage each other or two full weeks of enduring Qiao’s cooking.” Then he turned to Tony and Wallace. “Okay, you guys can go now.”

“No, wait,” Sam said again.

Tony was about to speak but since Sam cut him off, he waited for Sam to continue.

“What is the time frame for the bet?” Sam asked.

“One week,” Ehlo said. “It doesn’t mean you try to confess within a week though. But you get one week to come up with a plan and do it right on next Friday. When we meet up during the festival, you have to tell us if you succeeded or not. If you didn’t succeed, you have to tell everyone who you confessed to and that you got rejected.”

Tony waved his sunglasses again. “Not to mention you have to endure Qiao’s cooking for a month.”

Angela eyed Ehlo. “You guys are too much.”

“That’s too mean,” Sonia said. “Qiao’s cooking isn’t that bad.”

Jacky pried Sonia’s hand from his shoulders. “Honey…take it easy. It wasn’t my idea.”

Sonia had been pressing down on Jacky’s shoulders without realizing it while she talked. It was now that she finally eased her pressure off.

“Don’t look at me,” Ehlo said in an innocent tone–almost too innocent to make it believable. “It wasn’t my idea either.”

Tony raised his sunglasses higher. “Sorry, it was mine. Just to make it more interesting. “

“All right, enough talk. Let’s…”

“I want to join too,” Sam said, cutting Ehlo off once again.

The others–including the girls–turned to look at Sam.

Tony pointed at Sam. “All right, brave one. Good to have you in on this competition.”

Angela looked at Sam. “You’re going to join in on this crazy competition too?”

Sam shrugged his shoulders. “Sure, why not? The guys say that I don’t take it easy enough. I might as well use this opportunity to have some fun.”

“Sure, have fun eating Qiao’s food too,” Ehlo added.

“Who says I’m going to lose?” Sam retorted.

“We can’t all win, right?” Tony pointed out.

Angela turned to Tony. “That means you already have a plan?”

“Of course. And Yan’s going to be so surprised that…”

“Yan?” Sam asked, confused.

“Of course it’s Yan. Who did you think it was? And what about you?”

“Xiao Qiao, who else?” Ehlo jumped in before Sam could answer.

“Guilty,” Sam confirmed.

As if from Tony’s command, the others turned to look at Wallace since he hadn’t disclosed his yet.

“Uh…” Wallace hesitated.

“You mean it’s not Xin Ling xiao shi mei?” Tony asked.

“I never said it’s her, did I?”

“What?!” Sam exclaimed, as confused as ever.

“You guys are just too confusing,” Angela blurted out with frustration. “I’m going off to lunch.”

After she said that, she turned and walked to the door. Halfway there, she spotted Cyndi walking in. She put on her friendly smile again. “Hey, Cyn. Let’s go since the guys are a bit crazy at the moment.”

“What?” Cyndi asked, confused.

Angela tugged on Cyndi’s hand to go as Cyndi turned around to look at the group gathered around the desks.

“I guess they just don’t appreciate a little guy competition, huh?” Ehlo asked, still looking after the girls. He then extended his hand out. “So how about we seal this deal, guys?”

All three–Sam, Tony, and Wallace–reached their hands out to put it on Ehlo’s.

Jacky got up at that time. “I guess we’re witnesses then?”

The others had already taken their hands back and were standing up straight again.

“You bet you are,” Ehlo said.

“How can you guys take it so easy?” Sonia asked. “It’s not like going grocery shopping or something. This is a confession.”

Tony smiled. “You got to live dangerously, right?”

Jacky tugged on Sonia’s hand. “Forget them. Let’s go answer to the call of our hunger.”

Tony looked around the room. “Orchids in?”

“She left with Vincent a bit ago already,” Wallace replied. “Jacky and I were just waiting for you guys before closing for lunch.”

As Jacky and Sonia were heading for the door, the others were doing the same. After all of them passed by the door, Wallace locked it up before joining them. Since Angela, Sam, and Sonia took the Taxi earlier, they only had to follow their ride for now. Sam ended up going with Ehlo and Wallace since Tony had to stop somewhere before he could join them for lunch. Ehlo got dropped off earlier by Johnny so that was why he was going with the other two guys as well. Tony was the first to leave while the others were held behind because Sam called after them again.

“What now?” Ehlo asked impatiently.

“Food doesn’t wait, you know,” Wallace seconded.

“Valerie said that she won’t be able to make it to the mid-autumn festival with us,” Sam informed them.

Sonia turned to Sam. “Why not?”

“She didn’t tell you?”

Sonia shook her head.

“She told me when we finished our segment earlier. She said that she was thinking of going overseas to pursue her career further since one of the producers over there really like her style. She’s going over there to check things out first before she decides for sure.”

“Wow. I guess our station is really going under.”

“Ray will definitely love that,” Jacky commented with a hint of sarcasm. “He wants to dominate the charts, you know.”

Sonia slapped his shoulder.

Jacky smiled. “Stop hanging around Qiao too much.”

“She’s your sister after all. Hard to avoid.”

“So that’s the news?” Wallace asked. “Let’s go eat then.”

“I wonder where the other two girls went,” Ehlo mumbled.

“Probably Angela couldn’t stand your weirdness,” Jacky said.

“Whatever, Backstabber.”

“I wonder if they invited Melody and Penny along,” Wallace pondered.

“Possibly,” Jacky said, looking at his watch. “Okay, now you guys are getting off subject. Let’s go eat.”

They finally left for their cars at last–like many times before–and met at a restaurant for lunch.

© Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Posted: Friday, February 11th, 2011

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