Chapter 37 – Living up to the Challenge

Another week passed by and Tony still had no idea what to do about his confession to Yan Yan. He must admit that he was bluffing when he said he already got a great plan. Yes, he knew what he was doing and could do it any day with any type of methods. But he just wanted to be a little more original than those typical “I love you”s often uttered out to melt a girl’s heart away. After all, how could Sun Xie Zhi be so unoriginal? He was known for how good his judgments were in whatever he did. How could he be as careless as using such a simple method of wining the girl of his heart over?

As he was brushing some dust particles that had somehow found its way onto his sunglasses, he could see Yan Yan walking toward him. He lowered his sunglasses and sent her a smile before turning to his car. Like a gentleman, he opened the passenger’s side for her as soon as she approached.

Yan Yan smiled. “Where are we going today?”

Tony returned the smile. “That’s a surprise.”

Yan Yan eyed him cautiously. “What are you up to now? You better not be pulling some sort of tricks again.”

Tony smiled. “I wouldn’t dare, Miss Liu.”

He made sure she was safely in before shutting the door and circling around to the driver side. When he shut his own door, he could see that she had finished fastening her seatbelts.

“Are we meeting up with Chen Yi and the others?” Yan Yan asked.

“Not quite,” Tony replied. “We have to go somewhere first.”

Yan Yan’s eyes brightened. “Where?”

“You’ll find out when we’re there.”

Yan Yan tugged on his right arm. “You’re mean! Come on! Tell me!”

“You’ll see when we get there.”

Tony let out a smile again before pulling out to traffic.

*****

“He’s stopping at the light?” Wallace asked.

“Yeah,” Ehlo confirmed.

“Okay.” Wallace put down his current task and took out his cell phone to call.

“Hurry. It’s going to turn green soon.”

“Just pull out then.”

“That would defeat the whole purpose of us sitting here, you know.”

“Don’t you dare try it today,” Wallace said into the phone. “Practice runs aren’t allowed. This is a one go.”

Tony did a quick scan at his surrounding before facing the traffic light again, knowing that it was going to turn green in a few seconds. “What is the purpose of stalking me then?”

Yan Yan looked frightened upon hearing those words so she turned to him, gesturing her hands. He shook his head and sent her a smile to reassure her that it was no big deal.

“Well?” Tony pressed.

“Just want to remind you, that’s all,” Wallace said. “Just one more day.”

“I’ll remember that then. Drop the stalking already.”

“We were just passing by.”

“Sure.”

“See ya.”

Tony snapped off the phone without caring to say goodbye.

“What’s wrong?” Yan Yan asked.

“They’re just jealous of me.”

“Huh?”

Tony didn’t say anything more since people behind them were honking at him. He released the break and continued across the intersection, leaving them behind–including Huang and Huo who were parked at one of the side parking spots seconds ago.

*****

“You think this will work?” Chen Yi asked.

Tony smiled. “It will.”

“Could you stop spoiling his mood?” Qiao Qiao scolded Chen Yi.

Chen Yi turned to her. “What if it doesn’t work? I’m just trying to cover all bases.”

“I’m sure Yan will like it.”

“Do we know her more or does he? I’m just trying to warn him ahead of time. Besides, this is one shot. Then he has to…”

“What?”

“If he loses, he will have to…uh..”

“Say it!”

“All right, all right. If he loses, he has to endure your cooking for a month.”

Qiao Qiao turned her attention on Tony.

“Uh…I think I hear Yan approaching us,” Tony said quickly, dodging out of the sticky situation cleverly. “Let’s scatter before we get caught.”

Chen Yi tilted his head and signaled to Achel so she could help him pull Qiao Qiao aside. As they straightened up again, Tony turned to check for any signs of Yan Yan before turning back to them.

“Okay, when you see me raise my hand and put it down by my side, remember to let go of the strings, okay?” Tony repeated of their plan.

Qiao Qiao saluted him.” Yes, sir.”

Chen Yi hit Qiao Qiao on the head lightly before dragging her away from the scene in case she decided to change her mind about helping them.

Tony fixed his clothes again, making sure he looked presentable in front of Yan Yan. It was finally the day and he was glad he took Yan Yan to East Shore Café two days ago or he wouldn’t think of a way at all. He was back today again and he had a plan. He had made up an excuse earlier about being too busy to pick her up so he told her to meet him here before heading to Orchids Agency to meet the others.

Shifting back and forth between his feet–a thing he rarely did–he looked around the scene once again, making sure everything was perfect. His smile lighted up as he saw Yan Yan’s silhouette walking down the path. She was still in her work attire, he thought. He stopped himself from being distracted and cleared his throat before making his way slowly toward her.

Yan Yan smiled. “I thought you’d be by your car already. But I decided to check here in case.”

“Glad you did. Because…” He paused for emphasis. “…I have something to tell you.”

She had on her puzzled look. “Something wrong?”

“It depends how you rate this matter.”

Yan Yan still looked confused but she didn’t speak up to ask him. She waited patiently for him to answer. However, he didn’t say anything. He turned back to the water behind them and took her left hand into his right, hauling her toward the pier.

“What are you up to this time? Let’s hurry since we want to be at the festival early before the show starts. Not to mention I want to play some games first. I heard they’re setting up some new booths this year.”

Although she sounded like she only cared for fun and games, but she was getting quite nervous because of how serious his face looked at that moment. She just wanted to make up an excuse to stop this awkwardness. It was until they were right in front of the water that he turned to face her again.

Tony smiled. “Are you ready?”

Yan Yan blinked. “For what?”

Tony didn’t answer but reached toward her shoulders and maneuver her attention toward the water again. She watched as Tony extended his left hand out and dropped it down to his side again. She wrinkled her face a bit, wondering what he was up to. However, she didn’t have to ponder long since she could see some objects floating out from a wooden board across the way. She shielded her eyes from the afternoon’s sun to see that it was a clump of plants with some flowers on top. It was not just any clump of plants with flowers on top but it was nicely decorated with the plants hugging the flowers in a circular shape. Following the first clump was the next set with a block of wood on top of the flowers. She watched as the set finished its journey toward her before reading it as a sentence. It said, “Liu Pin Yan, are you willing to accept me as your one and only boyfriend?” Shocked, she turned back to him.

“Well? What will it be? Yes or no?”

“Uh…”

“I told you that first day I met you that you’re cute.”

Yan Yan wrinkled her face. “Are you pulling this joke on me right on the mid-autumn festival?”

She turned her heels to walk away but he grabbed her hand and turned her around to face him again.

“I heard the guys talking about the bet. Are you using me to win?”

“I guess Chen Yi wasn’t trying to scare me when he told me you might not be touched by just looking at these flowers.”

Yan Yan looked around. “Is he here?”

“He told me earlier before he left.”

“Well, he’s right. I’m not buying it.”

“Do you think that I dare to play around with your feelings?”

“What do you expect? I’m just a kid to you guys. Ehlo said it too, you know. Always calling Chen Yi, Qiao, and me kids.”

“You’re not a kid unless you act like one.”

Yan Yan turned to see him smiling. “Very funny.”

Tony resumed his serious composure again. “If I want to win a bet, wouldn’t I have hired someone instead of trying to convince you? And if I do this to you, wouldn’t it be like insulting you? If I didn’t care so much for you, would I be as stupid as trying to decide your career path for you? And stumbled into a stupid situation several weeks ago?”

Yan Yan looked up at him again to see his expression serious again. “I still don’t believe you.”

She walked away from him but he caught her hands again to stop her.

“I can see you’re smiling,” Tony teased her.

She diverted her eyes to the ground instead. “No, I’m not.”

“Yes, you are. If you didn’t like me also, why did you keep the sunglasses I gave to you that one time?”

“I just like the sunglasses, not you.”

“Really? Why are you blushing then?”

“I’m not blushing. It’s the sunny weather.”

Tony looked around to see the sun almost setting. “The sun’s not on your face, that can’t be it. So…it must be because of me.”

“You just have too much confidence in yourself.”

Tony smiled as he could see her smile more apparent.

“You couldn’t pretend to be mad,” He continued.

Yan Yan ended up hitting him on the shoulders, trying to free her hands but she couldn’t.

“You’re just too cute.”

“I’m not going to talk to you anymore. Let go.”

He finally let go of her hands but she didn’t leave like she declared earlier.

“I thought you said you’re leaving,” Tony teased again, smiling. “Since you’re not leaving, does that mean you already agreed?”

“To what?”

“We’re going to the festival, right?”

“Of course we are.”

“Do you want to go with me?”

“If you don’t want to drive me, I can call Qiao up or…”

“Does that mean you’re willing to go with me?”

“Yes, of course. Why do you have to ask twice?”

Before she realized it, Tony hugged her to him.

“What?! Hey, let go!”

Tony let go of her but still had his hands around her waist.

“What?”

“You just said ‘Yes.’”

“To what?”

“That you would walk along my side until…”

“I thought you said that we’re going to the festival together.”

“Hey, you didn’t answer my question yet. Of course, it applies to that question as well.”

“That’s cheating!”

Tony let go of her and grabbed her hand to go again.

“Hey!” Yan Yan protested. “You’re not playing fair!”

“All’s fair in love and….more love.”

“Sun Xie Zhi!”

Although she seemed reluctant but she followed him anyway–walking back down the path and toward the parking lot. However, before they could reach the main parking lot, Chen Yi and Qiao Qiao jumped out in front of their path. Achel joined them a second later. All three of them shout out words of congratulations at the same time.

Yan Yan pointed to them. “I thought he said you already left.”

“His words!” Chen Yi shouted mischievously.

Yan Yan turned to Tony, pointing at him with her disapproving look. “Sun Xie Zhi, you….”

“Hey, you just trust me too much,” Tony said. “It shows how much you love me!”

Yan Yan ended up hitting him on the shoulders and chasing him around the open space.

“Hey! Come on! I was just kidding!” Tony shouted, trying to dodge her attacks.

Yan Yan stopped running at that time. “That means you’re taking back your confession, right?”

“Of course not! What I mean is I’m just kidding about the trusting part.”

Qiao Qiao looked at her watch. “Come on, guys. We have to go now.”

“He tricked me!” Yan Yan exclaimed, still in her protesting tone.

“Get over it,” Chen Yi said. “You know you like him too.”

“You’re on his side too?”

“Unless you want him to suffer through a month of Qiao’s cooking, you should reconsider!”

“Chen Yi!” Qiao Qiao exclaimed.

Qiao Qiao chased Chen Yi the rest of the way back to the parking lot as Achel ran after them, trying to stop the fight. Tony and Yan Yan continued to walk to the parking lot as well, but not as rushed as the others.

“I guess you wouldn’t care to contradict me now, huh?” Tony asked Yan Yan.

“I’m not talking to you,” Yan Yan said. “You just want to win the guys.”

“Come on now. Stop pretending.” He took her left hand into his right like before as they reached the parking lot.

“What about the flowers though?”

“I’ll buy you a fresh bouquet later.”

“You’re so wasteful. So typical of a young master.”

“As long as you like it.”

Yan Yan didn’t say anything anymore but Tony knew that she’d accepted. After all, why would she let him hold her hand for this long?

© Monday, March 2nd, 2009

Posted: Friday, February 11th, 2011

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