Chapter 38 – Confession of a Lifetime

Wallace walked toward the door to close up when he spotted Tony’s car parked just outside their shop. He stopped at the door, observing Tony carefully while Tony stepped out of the car. He could also see Chen Yi, Achel, Qiao Qiao, and Yan Yan with Tony. Chen Yi and Achel just stepped out of Chen Yi’s car of course. What was this? He needed this many people as witnesses? Wallace let out a secret smile as he saw the group stepping closer. He then wondered if this was just a casual reunion at their shop just for the sake of the mid-autumn festival. It could be both actually. Whatever it was, he was ready. He opened the door for them with a hint of a mischievous smile directing at Tony for the most part.

“Hey, you look like you’re up to something,” Qiao Qiao said while she was walking in.

Wallace just let out another smile before shutting the door behind everyone and switching the sign to “Closed” also.

“Ready to go to the festival?” Chen Yi asked. “Or…should I say…ready to face up to the challenge? I heard you haven’t started yet.”

Wallace didn’t answer Chen Yi but turned to Tony. “You told him?”

“It wasn’t me,” Tony said. “Somehow, he found out.”

Wallace wrinkled his face. “Who told him then?”

Then they turned to Chen Yi at the same time.

“It was Angela jie, but she told us how strange you guys were for competing about something like this,” Chen Yi explained.

“Where’s the fun if there isn’t anything exciting going on, right?” Wallace asked rhetorically.

They were surrounding the desks area by now. Cyndi was just listening in with them while Simon had waved them a goodbye before heading out.

Tony looked around the room out of habit. “What happened to Jacky? I guess he left to pick up Sonia?”

“He doesn’t work here anymore,” Wallace informed Tony.

“It was just last week that he settled in.”

“That’s life. Orchids found someone to replace him already and besides, it was just a temporary job to begin with. He wouldn’t die if he doesn’t have it. He was thinking about opening up his own business too, so…”

“What?”

“That’s him.”

“So…Orchids ready?”

“She’s probably going with Vincent and his family for a family dinner.”

“I guess I’m better off than them.”

“Guess so. So, I guess you’re ready to tell us about failing?”

“Says who?”

Wallace turned to see Yan Yan smiling at him. “Her smile doesn’t prove anything.”

Tony took a hold of her hand–to which she didn’t react.

“All right. I believe you.”

“I can’t believe what Angela said is true,” Cyndi commented. “You guys are nuts to bet like this.”

Wallace turned to Cyndi. “I must admit it’s crazy because whoever loses will have to endure Qiao’s cooking for…”

“What?!” Qiao Qiao exclaimed, outraged. “So it was your idea after all?”

Wallace turned back to Qiao Qiao. “Sorry, it wasn’t mine, but…” Wallace didn’t dare to look at Tony since he knew he had agreed to the terms too. He couldn’t sell Tony out. He cleared his throat as he flashed on his charming smile to win Qiao Qiao over. “It was just for fun, okay? Besides, I think Ehlo’ll be willing–after all.”

“Are you bluffing?” Tony asked. “You haven’t forgotten that you didn’t even do yours yet.”

Wallace smiled. “Don’t worry. By tonight, we’ll see.”

Tony pointed his sunglasses at Wallace. “We’ll definitely see.”

“What are you guys up to?” Orchids asked from behind them.

Everyone turned their attention to her.

“We’re watching a show unfold,” Chen Yi informed her.

“I’m locking up, eh?” Wallace asked, diverting the subject toward a different direction on purpose.

Orchids smiled. “Thanks, Wallace.”

“Don’t mention it.”

Orchids gave the others a slight nod before heading for the door. The others knew that Vincent was probably waiting for her outside so they didn’t want to keep her long. After Orchids was outside, the others turned back to each other.

“When are you going to do your end of the challenge, Huo?” Tony asked.

“We’ll see,” Wallace said.

Tony looked at his watch. “You do live dangerously, don’t you? By the time we meet up to watch the performance, that is the deadline, you know.”

“I know. Don’t have to worry for me.”

“I guess we’re leaving first.”

Wallace nodded. “See ya.”

The others followed Tony out.

When it was just Wallace and Cyndi again, Wallace turned to her but she turned away from him. He could see that she was beginning to pack so he walked over to her.

Wallace cleared his throat. “May I have a word?”

“Don’t ask me if I’m going to the festival with anyone ‘cause what difference does it make? We’re all meeting there tonight anyway, right? I’ll probably go with…”

“Care to stop a bit so I can talk to you?”

Cyndi finally took the hint to stop talking and turned her attention to him again. “What? Don’t we always pack and talk at the same time?”

“I need your help with something.”

“What?”

“You guys still here?” A voice asked from the door.

Wallace and Cyndi turned to see Penny walking in.

“Hey,” Cyndi greeted Penny. “You’re here for Melody or…”

She stopped because she could see the bracelet on Penny’s hand. It was the exact shade. What in the world was Mr. Huo talking about? He already succeeded. And he was just putting them on after all with not doing his confession yet.

Wallace walked to Penny. “I thought I locked that door.”

Penny smiled. “Obviously not.”

Wallace grabbed the door and locked it before turning back to her.

Penny gestured her hand. “So, you ready yet?”

“I was just locking up.”

“Melody and I will wait for you outside?”

Wallace nodded.

Penny turned to Cyndi. “See you later at the fair, Cyndi!”

Cyndi smiled at her.

Wallace waited for her to exit before turning back to retrieve his briefcase. “Okay, no more interruptions. I need to get this straightened out so all of us can go on.”

“No need,” Cyndi said. “I saw it. And if anyone was saying anything about you and me, I’ll tell them not to talk nonsense behind our backs anymore.”

Wallace was at her side again and was smiling while she was saying that.

“What? You think it’s funny? I’m just trying to be helpful here, Mr. Huo.”

Wallace had just picked his briefcase up from his desk but now he tossed it aside on one of the desks again. She watched his action in silence as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a lavender bracelet, raising it to their eye level. Her expression turned from passiveness to surprise. She still looked intently at him, trying to figure out his motive. He suddenly reached his left hand out to take hers. Then his right hand slipped the bracelet gently onto her hand. He tightened the string a bit so it would fit her better before turning to look at her again.

Wallace smiled. “Like it?”

Cyndi was suddenly lost for words. She didn’t know how to react although she’d been anticipating this moment many times before in the past.

“I thought…but…” She stuttered.

“Don’t like it? The shade’s off? Mine’s a bit darker since I like it that way.”

Wallace pointed his right index finger to his left hand where Cyndi could see the dark purple bracelet on it. This wasn’t the first time she’d seen it since he had been wearing it for the past week. However, it was the first time that she saw the lavender bracelet on her hand so she was just trying to see how well the two fit together.

“So, how do you like it?” Wallace asked again, snapping her attention back on the current situation.

Cyndi, still unsure of the whole situation, looked up at Wallace again.

“Okay, okay. I’m cutting corners so I should use the proper way, right?” He cleared his throat. “Wang Xin Ling, are you willing to go with an idiot like me?”

“But…but…”

“Your Senior Xie Zhi has someone now. You’re stuck with me.”

“Huo Jian Hua!”

Wallace placed his hands on her shoulders, smiling still. “I’m just kidding. So, are you willing to accept me?”

“I thought you told the others that you’re confessing to Penny and…I saw her bracelet.”

Wallace smiled. “That’s where I’m clever. Everyone present last time had a big mouth. Even Chen Yi and Qiao know already. Do you think Jacky didn’t spill it either? It would have been an accident but still. Would I ever let anyone spoil my surprise?” He paused for emphasis. “Besides, you understand me more than anyone, right? Do I look sincere enough or do I have to try harder?”

“I…”

“I admit that I’m an idiot for backing down when I see a strong threat like Tony but thanks to Jacky for being such a coward. So I thought it over while we were having that celebration weeks ago. I didn’t take any actions right away afterward because I just want to surprise you today. After all, it’s the mid-autumn festival, right?” Wallace reached his hands out to wipe away the tears that had unknowingly fallen down her cheeks.

“I…”

Before she could force herself to say something, Wallace pulled her to him, hugging her tightly. She finally realized the reality of the situation. Absentmindedly, she slid her hands around him, hugging him back.

“I’m sorry for not saying it out earlier,” Wallace said softly. “I’m such a coward I guess I shouldn’t have criticized Jacky.”

“No, you’re not,” Cyndi said, finally finding her voice. “I’m not any better. I kept going with Senior Xie Zhi and the others ‘cause I just assumed that you and Penny were…”

“Miss Chen and Miss Lin were just using me as an adviser to buy items for their boyfriends.”

Cyndi nodded into his shoulder.

“Wang Xin Ling…”

“Hmm?”

“Are you willing to date such a jerk who doesn’t know how to cherish you until what it seems to be too late?”

“I could try.”

Wallace smiled, holding onto her a bit tighter. She didn’t seem to mind the pressure though. She let him hold onto her, feeling so relief that everything turned out all right. No words could describe this feeling of felicity. As Cyndi was lost in her own thoughts, Wallace promised himself silently that he would never let go of her again.

*****

Angela and Bianca took turns looking around the parking lot for the others. Bianca was about to take out her cell phone and call them when Angela called her name.

“What?” Bianca asked.

“They’re here,” Angela answered.

“It’s about time too. It’s getting late.”

“It’s still early. It’s just that it’s getting dark faster nowadays. Or…”

Bianca could see the sly smile on Angela’s face. “What?”

“Are you just anxious to see your man?”

Bianca ignored Angela and turned her attention back to the parking lot. Angela smiled and turned in that direction also. They could see Jacky walking toward them with Sonia–hand-in-hand. Johnny and Ehlo were actually getting out from Ehlo’s car. When they were closer, Angela and Bianca waved to them.

“Hey!” Angela yelled to them, with her hands cupping her mouth. “Showing off your relationship in public, huh? Aren’t you afraid we’re going to be jealous?”

Bianca smiled. “I’m not the least bit jealous.”

Angela turned to Bianca. “Of course you’re not since you have Johnny.”

“What are you implying?”

“Nothing.”

“Hey, my fiancée’s upset again?” Ehlo asked. “Who triggered you this time?”

Both girls turned around to see that the other four were standing in front of them already.

“Stop acting like that or Wei Ru will definitely…” Angela scolded.

“She’s not mad that easily. Besides…”

“Sure. Tell me that when you end up crying to us over a beer or two.”

“Stop being dramatic, Missy.”

“Where are the others?” Jacky asked, breaking through Ehlo and Angela’s argument.

“Probably they parked at the other lots or didn’t come yet,” Bianca said. “Let’s go or we’ll be late for the opening.”

As she said that, she grabbed Johnny’s hand to go.

“Let’s go, guys,” Ehlo echoed. “You heard her.”

Ehlo slipped his hand around Angela’s shoulders as he was catching up with Johnny and Bianca. Angela slapped his hands off and continued on her way. Jacky turned to smile at Sonia before following the others also. Ehlo didn’t give up since he caught up to her, walking side-by-side with her–putting Jacky and Sonia behind them again. However, he didn’t slip his hand around her shoulders like before.

“Oh come on,” Ehlo said. “It’s the mid-autumn festival. Could you at least be a little more enthusiastic?”

“I’m just trying to remind you to set your priorities straight,” Angela said in an as a matter of fact tone.

“Good to know you’re concerned for me,” He said, flashing on his mischievous grin. “Talking about that, want to help me with something?”

“What?” Angela asked in an unconvinced tone.

Ehlo reached into his pocket and took out an item. Jacky and Sonia could see that it was a bracelet with various shades of green when he brought it up to the light. Angela didn’t see it since she was facing front and was paying attention to where she was going. Ehlo took the opportunity to slide his right hand around her shoulders again, bringing the bracelet toward her vision line. Angela was about to slap his hand off but she could see the bracelet shimmering in the light. Confused, she turned to him.

“What?” She asked.

Ehlo smiled. “Want to try it on for size? Helping a friend in need?”

“Because?”

“Her hand and yours are about the same. I just want a little help. Would you want me to be embarrassed in front of all my friends if it doesn’t fit?”

Jacky and Sonia watched with curiosity as they continued through the entrance after Johnny handed his and Bianca’s tickets to the attendant at the gate. Ehlo grabbed Angela’s ticket and combined it with his before handing it to the attendant. Jacky did the same with his and Sonia when it was their turn. When they were finally inside, they still walked in pairs of three with Ehlo still waiting for Angela’s answer.

“Well?” Ehlo urged.

Angela looked back at the bracelet in front of her before turning to Ehlo again. Before she could answer him, he grabbed her left hand and secured the bracelet onto it. He ended up bringing her hand up a little higher to admire the bracelet in the light also.

Ehlo smiled. “Hey, not bad.”

Angela yanked her hand back and was trying to take it off but she was having a little trouble since Ehlo seemed to secure it really good on her hand. He watched her struggle with a smile still apparent on his face. Of course, his hand had already left her shoulders since she yanked her hand back from him.

“Come on, it’s not funny,” Angela said, frustrated.

“Hey, you know what?” Ehlo asked, ignoring her impatience.

“Yeah, I know. You can really tie a knot. Now would you take it off already?”

Angela ended up extending her left hand toward him so he could remove it for her. He reached out to take her hand into his but didn’t remove it right away. His expression seemed to be saying something along the line of “Teasing her is so fun, I’ll let her cringe some more before I let her off.”

“Come on.”

“Patient, dear.”

“Huang Yu Rong!” Although she sounded fierce but her face showed some traces of embarrassment more than frustration.

“Okay, okay. But do you notice something?”

Angela wrinkled her face. “What?”

“The bracelet matches with your shirt.”

Angela rolled her eyes. “Whatever. It’s a coincidence.” Then she stopped herself. She didn’t realize that she was wearing green although she did spend quite an amount of time before deciding on the green blouse for tonight’s occasion. Not believing him, she looked down at her own shirt just to make sure. Then she turned her attention back on the bracelet–and their linked hands. “Stop smiling like that. You’re creeping me out. Let go.”

“Does that mean you don’t want me to remove the bracelet anymore?”

Angela yanked her hand away from his finally. “It doesn’t matter anymore. I’ll just buy it off from you and you can make another one for your girl. It’s green anyway. My favorite color. Name your price.”

“You don’t have to, it’s for you.”

Angela stopped dead in her tracks. He stopped also. She turned around to look at him straight in the face. Somehow, Johnny and Bianca realized that they were not following anymore so the two turned back also to see that the other four were stopping out of nowhere–with Jacky and Sonia standing a safe distance away from Ehlo and Angela. Before Johnny or Bianca could speak up to investigate, Angela spoke up again.

“You’re not pulling an early April’s fool on me, are you? ‘Cause honestly…”

“What? You don’t like it? I thought you just said green is your favorite color.”

“Green is my favorite color but…”

“But what?”

“It’s not funny that you’re putting me on just like that.”

“Who says I was putting you on? I’m serious.”

“You can’t be serious as to believe it’s a friendship bracelet, right? Qiao pulled that one on Jacky so you guys should know by now.”

“So does that mean I just got rejected…again?”

“Huh?”

Angela didn’t mean for it to come out that way but she felt more confused than ever of what Ehlo was trying to get at.

Jacky was about to walk up to them but Sonia pulled him back again, signaling that Ehlo could handle it. Johnny–the usual peacemaker–wasn’t playing his role this time, but he just stood there observing in silence.

“I said the bracelet is for you,” Ehlo continued. “That means I’m confessing that I like you.”

“Huh?”

“Stop the ‘huh’ thing already! It makes you sound dumber than dumb.”

“Huang Yu Rong!”

Ehlo smiled. “That’s more like it.”

“I swear I just imagined you said something like you like me.”

“I did say it.”

“Practicing for later, right? Show’s over. I’m sure Wei Ru will like it too. Nice knowing about it too. Make a new bracelet for her. I think she likes pink better.”

Angela turned to leave again but Ehlo grabbed her left hand to stop her.

“What?”

“Why are you so convinced that I like Wei Ru and I’m just putting you on?”

“You’ve been saying it to us these past weeks!” Jacky and Johnny shouted at the same time, getting quite impatient with Ehlo’s slow tactic.

“You’re not helping!” Ehlo shouted back.

Bianca and Sonia tried to calm Johnny and Jacky down again as they continued to observe the scene.

“Why are you yelling at them?” Angela scolded Ehlo. “They’re right.”

Ehlo turned his attention back on Angela. “I didn’t mean to. But they weren’t helping at all.”

“Why should they? We’ll be late for the show if you keep this up.”

“Zhang Shao Han.”

Angela turned to face him again, surprised at his serious tone. “What?”

“I’m serious about liking you. Are you willing to give me a chance?”

Angela tried to detect any signs of conspiracy in his eyes but couldn’t. She couldn’t be sure if his acting had gone up to another notch though.” Huang…Yu…Rong, you gotta be kidding me, right?”

Ehlo shook his head. “No, I’m afraid not.”

“You…”

“I know I don’t like Wei Ru because I could function all right when she left. But when you’re not around as much anymore recently, I really miss you.”

Angela still couldn’t react.

“I know it’s silly to say you’re not around as much because we always hang out as a group during the weekends. But it was so much more fun when we tried to help Jacky get out of the mess and how we always fight. Even if it’s the silliest things at first, but I come to enjoy it more and more. It’s like an addiction that I can’t get rid of. Did you know that I want to beat Wallace up right there and then when he told Valerie that you were his ex? How inconsiderate could he get when he’s so smart? It was also partially because it caused you to leave while we were still talking. And you know how crazy I was the other day? I was standing around in front of the theater checking the weekend schedule for new movies and I saw Xiao Ling Ling’s other film coming out already. I was thinking to myself if you’ve seen it yet and…I remembered back how much fun we were having when we discussed her last adapted film. I realized despite our fights, we have the same frame of mind. And…I took the silly bet with the guys to see who could confess with their girl first…because I really want to take action before it’s too late.”

Angela seemed to be frozen in the same spot with Ehlo still holding onto her hand the whole time. Angela, Bianca, and Sonia had one thing in common. They don’t freeze in one spot just like that nor do their brains dare to process information so slowly. However, it was an exception when it came to anything having to do with emotions. Ehlo–who was usually impatient–continued to allow Angela more time to mull it over in her mind. He knew she couldn’t believe it. He couldn’t believe he was doing it at that very moment either. He couldn’t believe it when he discovered he had liked Angela unknowingly while he was going through his “enlightened moment” weeks ago. How could he expect her to just say “Yes” right there and then?

As Ehlo was lost in his own train of thoughts, Angela finally reacted. However, Ehlo was the only one not noticing it. Jacky’s expression tensed up a bit and he almost jumped forward again but Sonia–like last time–refrained him from doing just that. Johnny was less subtle than Jacky since he let out a light cough to alert Ehlo. When Ehlo was finally focused again, he realized that Angela was crying. What had he done?

“Angela, I…” He only knew of one thing at that time, which he did it right away before he second guessed himself. He pulled her closer and let her cry into his shoulder, patting her lightly on the back. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you like that. I know that I’ll never replace Wallace in your heart, but I’ll try to do my best to take care of you and…respect your decision. So it’s all right too if you want to reject me right here and now. We can just be friends again or archenemies.”

Angela hit his shoulder. “You idiot! I thought you really like Wei Ru…”

“Huh?!”

The others were as surprised since they could see how awkward and embarrassed Angela seemed to look minutes before. They would never expect such response from her. As they were paying intent attention to the two again, they couldn’t help wondering how Angela could talk so clearly even when she’d been crying so hard.

Angela finally took her head off Ehlo’s shoulder and looked up at him again. “I left that day because I was mad at Wallace for constantly reminding me that I used to be with him. It’s not because I still can’t get over him. But it’s because I know you’ll always be reminded of that so you won’t ever look at me any different than just being constant bickering friends. I already discovered that I like you when we were having the BBQ to celebrate for Jacky and Sonia.”

“Really?”

“And like it’s my fault that you don’t know anything. You always have to bring Wei Ru up in front of me and everyone.”

Angela hit his left shoulder with her right hand but he caught her hand in time and brought it together with her other hand.

“So I guess we’re clear?” Ehlo asked.

“Yes, we’re clear. But I’m not through with you yet. I have to think it over before accepting your confession. And I’m keeping this…” She raised her left hand up so he could see the bracelet. “…as hostage for the time being.”

With that, Angela turned around to face front again and continued on her way. She tried to wipe her tears off with her hands to which Ehlo whipped out a pack of tissue ever so conveniently and tucked it into her hand. He also had conveniently resided his hand around her shoulders as they continued further into the festival grounds.

“What are you looking at?” Ehlo said to the crowd that had gathered to watch their show upon seeing them stopping abruptly earlier. “Show’s over! Haven’t you guys seen a guy confess to his girl before? Move it!”

“You’re creating a scene,” Angela scolded.

Ehlo turned back to her. “Sorry!”

This time around, Ehlo and Angela were leading them while Johnny, Bianca, Jacky, and Sonia were tagging behind them.

“Wow,” Johnny said to the other three.

“You must admit only he could pull it off, right?” Jacky pointed out.

“Wow.”

“Stop it!” Bianca exclaimed–contradicting to her usual calm personality. “Angela’s not that bad, okay?”

“I’m not implying that. I’m just thinking it would be so interesting to see the drama unfold for the upcoming days.”

“All I know is…they’re hard to beat in an argument,” Jacky said.

Sonia turned to him. “You want to cause troubles again?”

Jacky put on his innocent smile. “I wouldn’t dare.”

Jacky slipped his hand safely around her shoulders as they increased their pace to catch up to Ehlo and Angela. When they were closer together as a group, they could hear Angela talking in her casual voice like when they first arrived.

“So…who else is coming later?”

“I’m not sure,” Jacky said. “I know that Chen Yi, Qiao, and some of the others are coming.”

“You think Wallace’s coming, man?” Ehlo asked, turning to Jacky. “I mean he might hide since I’m not sure if he made it through his confession or not.”

“He…” Jacky stopped.

“What?” Ehlo finally understood when he turned around to look at Jacky. “He’s doing just fine after all. And to think we’re worried about him.”

Angela smiled. “He’s strong because he’s Wallace Huo.”

“And he’s going to pass us by if we don’t call him,” Ehlo commented. “Huo!”

Wallace snapped his attention toward his right to see Jacky and the others walking not far from them–but in the opposite direction. He turned to Cyndi and tilted his head toward the group. “You think we should tell them?”

“I think they already know,” Cyndi said.

Wallace grabbed Cyndi’s hand and walked over to the group.

“Looks like you don’t need our help after all,” Ehlo said.

“What are you talking about?” Wallace asked. “I am Wallace Huo. I don’t need help. And I wasn’t bluffing either.”

Then he realized Ehlo’s hand around Angela’s shoulders. He snapped his attention toward Ehlo’s face, trying to detect any traces of scheming or of their possible fights again.

“Don’t gawk,” Ehlo said. “Just because you have a happy ending doesn’t mean I can’t.”

“Congrats then,” Wallace said.

Ehlo nodded his head. “Same to you.”

“I wonder what other type of surprises we’re going to receive later,” Bianca pondered.

“If you guys want another surprise, Senior Xie Zhi succeeded in his confession to Yan,” Cyndi told them.

“Great,” Jacky said. “But too bad.”

Sonia looked at him with a smile. “And why is it bad?”

“He won’t be able to see us suffering through our punishment,” Wallace pointed out.

Sonia kept a sharp eye on Jacky. “Why are you relying on others’ struggle for amusement?”

Jacky raised his hands up in defeat. “I wouldn’t dare, Miss Sui. Besides…”

“What?”

Jacky put his hand around her shoulders again. “I wouldn’t want to upset our favorite DJ, right?”

Wallace laughed and gave Jacky a high five behind Sonia’s back.

“You guys are killing me with all of this sweetness,” Angela said, wrinkling her face.

“It’s all right, dear fiancée, you still have me,” Ehlo reassured her.

“Huang…Yu…Rong.”

Ehlo smiled. “What?”

“Over-killed.”

“Oh, my bad.”

Bianca looked at her watch. “Come on, guys. We still have to meet the others before the show starts.”

“That’s right,” Johnny said.

They walked several more minutes, trying to scan the crowd for the others. Jacky, Bianca, and Johnny tried to call them up on their cell phones but with no luck. It could be possible that they might have turned it off or might not hear it ring. They decided to proceed to the tent where the show was taking place anyway. The others could already be there waiting for them.

When they’d reached the center of the festival ground, they could see fireworks exploding from above.

“Did I miss some sort of tradition since I left those few years?” Angela asked, surprised.

Jacky turned to her. “What?”

“I thought they don’t allow fireworks in here ‘cause of what happened in the past.”

Jacky shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know either.”

Just as they were looking around for a possible explanation of the fireworks, Jacky spotted Ming Dao and Sam along with the others on the other side of the wooden bridge.

“Guys! There go the others.”

They turned to look where Jacky was pointing toward.

As they were about to head in that direction, Sonia spoke up to alert them of change in events.

Jacky turned to her. “What, Miss Sui?”

“Look up.”

They focused on the fireworks to see a message high above in red and white. It read: Wang Shao Wei loves Zhao Hong Qiao. They could hear some screams from the crowd–both mixed with excitement and curiosity.

“Can’t believe he would go all the way,” Ehlo said, clapping his hand at the same time. “Too bad Xiao Qiao’s not here to see it though.”

“Says who?” Jacky asked.

Ehlo was about to ask but he could see the three angels coming toward Sam’s group on the other side. “I guess someone did their homework after all.”

“Probably planned ahead to meet the girls here,” Jacky guessed. “Come on.”

He and Sonia walked toward the others at that time. The rest of them didn’t waste any more time to talk either. They followed Jacky and Sonia toward the other side also. When they were closer, they could see that Sam and Xiao Qiao were holding hands so she probably accepted his confession.

Jacky turned to Sam. “Good job, man.”

While talking, they walked toward an open space so they wouldn’t block the path. When they finally stopped at a decent spot, Qiao Qiao noticed Wallace and Cyndi so she put on her teasing smile.

“It looks like your confession was successful as well,” Qiao Qiao commented.

Wallace smiled. “Was there ever any doubt? I’m Wallace Huo after all.”

“It seems like we have a few surprises today,” Tony commented.

“Wait a minute,” Chen Yi jumped in.

The others turned to him.

“I thought you said you’re confessing to Penny.”

“If I didn’t say that, would you guys be surprised?” Wallace asked back. “Most importantly, there wouldn’t be any surprise for my girl.”

“You guys are such loudmouths after all,” Ehlo continued. “A secret isn’t even safe with one of you–nevertheless a group.”

“Exactly.”

Ehlo and Wallace gave each other a high five for another Huang and Huo agreement.

“You guys are stealing the limelight away from Sam here,” Chen Yi said.

“Sorry,” Ehlo and Wallace mumbled apologetically.

They turned their attention back on Sam and Xiao Qiao, waiting for the two to talk. However, Tony snapped to alertness upon seeing Ehlo’s hand around Angela.

“Eh…you guys…” Tony pointed to the couple.

Sam could see it too. “I thought you said you’re confessing to Wei Ru.”

Ehlo turned to Wei Ru. “Sorry, Xiao Ru. I hope they didn’t tell you yet. If you were expecting some sort of confession, uh…you missed it.”

Wei Ru wrinkled her face. “What are you talking about?”

“I guess they didn’t tell you then.”

Then he couldn’t keep up the front anymore. They burst out laughing at the same time. The others looked confused as ever.

“We missed something?” Jacky asked.

“Again?” Wallace asked.

“Guys?” Tony prompted.

Ehlo finally straightened up again and was leaning onto Angela for support. “She’s dating Gino. She told me that night after we were back from Uncle Ben’s house. He confessed to her and was still waiting for her answer. She finally decided and told me about it. I also told her about me and Angela.”

The others tried to be patient when listening to Ehlo but they turned to Wei Ru right away after Ehlo was finished to hear the words from Wei Ru herself. Before Wei Ru could explain further, Xiao Qiao opened her mouth to speak first.

“You’re dating Gino? You mean that horrendous bouquet of flowers was from him?”

“He’s not the most romantic guy but he tries, okay?” Wei Ru said defensively.

“Who is Gino?!” The others–except for Ehlo, Xiao Jie, and Xiao Qiao–exclaimed at the same time.

“Some guy in my town,” Wei Ru said.

“The most…” Xiao Qiao added.

“Hey, you want me to pick on your Sam?”

“Ladies, I don’t think it’s wise to start an argument here,” Jacky reminded them. “How about using our energy on congratulating Sam and Xiao Qiao?”

They knew that Jacky was right considering their sole purpose of gathering there that night so they turned their attention back onto Sam and Xiao Qiao.

“So…tell us, Mr. Wang…how you did it.” He gestured his hands. “Bribe the guards into letting you sneak the fireworks in?”

“Or did you persuade them otherwise?” Ehlo continued. “Like…”

“Must be because you have connections in here, right?” Wallace asked. “Setting this up isn’t as simple.”

“You guys are just too nosy,” Xiao Qiao commented before turning to Sam. “Come on. Ignore them.” She grabbed Sam’s hand to go further into the festival grounds instead of addressing the others.

“We’re a bunch of nosy people then?” Jacky asked, repeating Xiao Qiao’s accusation.

“You know you are, Young Master Chu,” Sonia said.

“I guess I can’t contradict her.”

Jacky put his hand over Sonia’s shoulders once again as he caught up with Sam and Xiao Qiao also. The rest of them followed behind but at their own pace, stopping at different stands and participating in games of their choices. Wallace managed to win a prize for Cyndi at one of the game booths while Chen Yi continued his monitoring with Achel’s food consumption at different stands before they headed into the theater to watch the show.

Like many times before, they sat in pairs as soon as they found some good seats. Qiao Qiao, Wei Ru, and Xiao Jie ended up sitting next to each other–with Wei Ru in the middle–and were chatting away since they were dateless at the moment. Ming Dao was actually sitting next to Sam.

The show lasted for about an hour before they could go back outside to enjoy the night air and the chaotic atmosphere. As they were standing around at one corner of the tent trying to stretch their legs before deciding their next destination, they spot a couple walking past them. Wallace recognized them first.

“Hey, Penny!” Wallace shouted to stop the couple.

Penny turned around upon hearing her name. She smiled when she saw him. She signaled to the guy next to her and they walked over to the group. “I can see why you didn’t want to come along with us before when you came back outside to tell us to go first.”

Wallace smiled. “That was part of it.” He turned to the others. “Hey, everyone. You know Penny already.” He gestured toward the guy. “This is her boyfriend, Ambrose Hsu.”

The others nodded their heads in acknowledgement. Ambrose also smiled back at them.

“Care to join us then?”

Penny turned back to Ambrose to see him nod. She turned back to Wallace and smiled. She then realized something. “Oh…you guys are such hypocrites.”

“What was that, Miss Lin?”

“I swear I heard someone complaining about how childish or cheesy it was with all these bracelets. Why are you all doing it?”

Wallace realized that Angela also had one on her hand, except it was green–not lavender like Cyndi’s. He reminded himself that it would make sense since Ehlo did show the sealed yarn package to them last week. On the other hand, Cyndi finally realized that the bracelet on Penny’s hand wasn’t purple like she saw before but dark blue. Maybe it was the lighting in their shop that she was mistaken before, causing misunderstandings.

“You can’t blame us for liking the idea though,” Wallace asked. “It works, right?”

“Whatever, Mr. Huo,” Penny said, not convinced.

“Come on now,” Ambrose said, attempting to calm her down. “You should take it as a compliment that you’ve influenced them, right?”

Penny smiled at Ambrose’s words.

“Only he could make you smile,” Wallace teased.

Penny turned back to Wallace. “Since I influenced you thus far, shouldn’t you…”

“Don’t tell us to make one for ourselves as well,” Ehlo said. “This is as far as I’m going. Besides, it’s not as…”

“Watch it,” Jacky warned him.

Ehlo then remembered that Jacky was wearing one as well.

Cyndi smiled. “You’re always digging holes for yourself. Watch who else is wearing it.”

“Huh?”

He turned to Angela for help. She smiled and tilted her head toward Penny’s direction. He looked to see one on Ambrose also.

Ehlo flashed on his bright smile in lightning speed. “Didn’t mean it, man. You’re still awesome.”

Ambrose smiled back but with a half grin only before giving Ehlo a dagger look.

“I told you to be careful,” Angela whispered to Ehlo. “You’re always careless with your words.”

“I thought I don’t need to watch out as long as you’re here with me,” Ehlo whispered back.

“Guys, are we going to move on or are we going to stand around here and chat until daybreak?” Chen Yi asked impatiently.

“All right,” Wallace said. “Let’s get going then.”

“Where though?” Ming Dao asked.

“How about over there?” Jacky suggested.

“Where?”

“Over that bridge.”

It was actually not the same fake wooden bridge structure they’d crossed before but a real cemented bridge that was just outside of the festival grounds.

“It’s a nice view from there,” Tony said.

They all headed for the bridge and lined up by it to watch the fireworks. They discovered that it was a really good view by the lake for such an event.

“We should do something like this next year too,” Qiao Qiao said.

“Why are we waiting for next year?” Chen Yi asked. “Let’s do something like this for New Year.”

Angela smiled. “That’ll be nice.”

“As long as there’s food, I’m in,” Ehlo declared.

“When did you become such a pig?”

“Hey, we need food to live after all, right?”

After that comment from Ehlo, they remained silent to take in the breathtaking sight of the fireworks ahead. Just as they spotted the greatest set of fireworks unleashing itself, Jacky turned around to see the other pairs were either leaning into each other and were enjoying the scenes or were talking happily about something. He couldn’t believe the turns of events in the end. As he smiled, Qiao Qiao turned to him and they shared a secret smile. They made it after all despite all the stupid mistakes they’d made in the past few months. Everything turned out all right in the end after all.

Sonia saw his smile. “What are smiling about, Young Master Chu?”

Jacky turned his attention back on her. “Nothing, Miss Sui.”

They exchanged a smile as he hugged her to him once again. They turned their attention toward the fireworks again, enjoying the last of it before it faded into the night like any other elements of this festival.

© Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

Posted: Friday, February, 2011

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