Chapter 40 – An Ending or A Beginning?

The chattering was apparent as the crowd increased more and more by the hour. Ming Dao was standing at the entrance of the church and was looking in with great fascination. He wondered how they could have pulled it off in just two months. But the incredibility faded off as he realized anything was possible in this case. After all, he was the “magician.” No, correction–the magician’s son, also known as the Young Magician. Ming Dao smiled, thinking what it would be like if Vincent wasn’t the magician’s son. It would be hard to imagine and go through for it to look so…

“Ming Dao!” A girl’s voice exclaimed from somewhere behind him.

Ming Dao smiled, not minding the person who had cut into his thoughts. He was used to her mischievousness. It reminded him of his sister. He turned around to see Qiao Qiao. She was wearing a white dress mixed with some light golden laces, making her looking enchanted.

“Wow!” Ming Dao said in disbelief. “If you didn’t speak up, I wouldn’t even figured that it’s you.”

“What are you talking about?” Qiao Qiao asked.

Ming Dao smiled. “Don’t wrinkle your face. You won’t look pretty anymore.”

“Hmp. Flattery won’t help you in this case.”

Ming Dao smiled again. “Just kidding.”

“Don’t hang around Ehlo too much, he’s teaching you all the bad habits.”

Ming Dao shrugged. “He’s too busy entertaining Angela.”

“Did anyone ever tell you not to talk behind other people’s backs?” Ehlo’s voice asked from somewhere within the crowd.

They turned around to see Ehlo and Wei Ru walking up to them. Wei Ru was wearing a beautiful yellow flowery dress. Qiao Qiao walked toward her and hooked hands with her, engaging in conversation.

“Nice day for a wedding, huh?” Ehlo commented with a smile.

Ming Dao nodded. “Not bad at all.” Then he looked around. “Where are the others?”

“They’re a bit slow.” He pointed with his thumb behind him. “You know how popular Mr. Jacky is.”

“Jealous?”

Ehlo put on a passive look. “I couldn’t be bothered.”

Qiao Qiao turned to the guys. “Sure, you are.” Then she turned back to Wei Ru. “Wei Ru, want to see Orchids in her wedding dress?”

Wei Ru smiled. “Sure.” She turned to Ehlo again. “Tell Gino I’m with Qiao.”

“Sure,” Ehlo muttered. “Just leave us guys here alone.”

Qiao Qiao hit Ehlo on the shoulder before leading Wei Ru toward the church. They took the back entrance instead to where there was a private room in the back.

*****

About twenty minutes later, the ceremony finally began. Ming Dao looked around in the crowd for his friends as people were beginning to pile into the church. As Ming Dao was about to merge into the crowd, thinking that the others might already be inside, someone tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around to see Qiao Qiao smiling at him.

“You’re full of tricks, even today,” Ming Dao commented.

Qiao Qiao smiled. “Hey, it’s not my wedding.”

Ming Dao shook his head, turning around to make his way into the church. Qiao Qiao followed silently, not teasing him anymore. They managed to make it down the aisle in one piece. Ming Dao spotted Ehlo and the others sitting at the left side, filling mostly the third and fourth row. He turned and signaled to Qiao Qiao as they joined the others also. He was about to sit next to Ehlo when Ehlo shook his head at him, indicating that he was not staying and gesturing his thumb to the row behind them. Ming Dao followed Ehlo’s signal to see Angela sitting there. He smiled and backed up so Ehlo could get out and join Angela in the other row. As he was about to sit down at the aisle seat, he spotted Gino walking up to them so he stepped aside to let Gino in also. Wei Ru signaled for Gino to sit next to Jacky while she pulled Qiao Qiao to sit next to her.

“No need to switch,” Jacky said, gesturing for Qiao Qiao to come sit next to him.

Qiao Qiao smiled and stationed herself comfortably next to Jacky. Wei Ru settled down next to her. Gino sat down at last, allowing Ming Dao to get out of the aisle. Knowing Qiao Qiao and Wei Ru, Jacky put on his sympathy smile to greet Gino–since Gino was doom whether they were switching seats or not. They ended up talking about some random topic to pass time as they waited for the others to pile into their seats. Jacky also managed to send Johnny a sympathy smile once awhile since Johnny was not any better off because Bianca was sitting next to Sonia and were chatting away a conversation of their own as well. Only Johnny seemed less fortunate than Gino because there was no one next to him.

After they had sorted out the seating arrangements of the third row, Ming Dao could see Sam and Xiao Qiao right behind him–with Sam at the end. Next to Xiao Qiao were Xiao Jie and then Anthony, following by Chen Yi, Achel, Angela, Ehlo, Yan Yan, and Tony at the end.

When they were all settled in at their seats, Sam tapped Ming Dao on his shoulder – since Ming Dao had turned away from them again to take a look at the other parts of the church. Ming Dao turned around slightly and engaged in conversation with Sam and Xiao Qiao to take up time while they waited for the ceremony to begin. They even remembered to include Gino at various points.

After another fifteen minutes or so, music began playing. They all turned their attention to the ceremony instead of chatting away like before. They could see that everyone was in place at that moment. They just needed to wait for the best men and bridesmaids to walk in. They only showed a sign of liveliness upon seeing Wallace and Cyndi walking in together–but with their smiles and a little wave of support, not uttering out loud cheers or anything that was out of the ordinary. After that, they focused upon waiting for Orchids to walk in. She looked stunning in the gown, radiating off the usual lights they often saw on brides. After Orchids’ father handed her over to Vincent, the preacher began the usual speech.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here today to join Vincent Zhao Wen Zhuo and Alyssa Chia Ching Wen in…”

Ming Dao and Sam looked confused. Sam turned to Xiao Qiao for an explanation.

“Orchids’ real name is Alyssa,” Xiao Qiao whispered, smiling. “Don’t you think it’s a bit conceited to name an agency after herself? They’re more used to calling her Orchids that they didn’t bother reverting back to her real name.”

“How do you know though?” Sam whispered back to Xiao Qiao.

“We stayed at their house for a while, remember?”

Sam smiled. “Oh. No wonder.”

Xiao Qiao returned his smile before Sam remembered to lean forward and whispered to Ming Dao of the newly learned information. Then they focused on the ceremony again.

*****

When they were finally out of the church again, Ming Dao turned to the others.

“Anyone want to bet who will get the flower?” He asked.

“That sounds like something Chen Yi would say though,” Jacky said.

“Talking behind my back again?” Chen Yi asked from behind them.

Wallace smiled. “Definitely. What else?”

Qiao Qiao spotted the guys gathered together in a circle so she walked over to them. “What are you guys doing here?”

“We’re betting to see who catches the flower, that’s all,” Ehlo said casually. “It’s a harmless activity.”

“Sure, you guys are up to something again, aren’t you?”

“We wouldn’t dare,” Jacky said. “And why aren’t you over there with the girls? Aren’t you afraid that you’re going to lose?”

“I’m not that desperate, okay?”

Jacky let out a laugh. “I have to wish your future boyfriend luck if he wants to think of anything along the line of marriage.”

Qiao Qiao hit Jacky on the shoulder.

“Eh…it’s supposed to be a special occasion today. Why are you getting violent again?”

“And to think that you’re my brother. Why are you siding with outsiders?”

“Sorry, sis. Guy thing.”

As Qiao Qiao was about to deliver a counter-strike, they heard the noise level from the crowd raising several notches. They glanced over to where Alyssa was supposed to be tossing her bouquet.

“Wow!” Qiao Qiao exclaimed in amazement.

“I know,” Chen Yi agreed. “What luck, huh?”

“This is what I call, the one who comes last wins,” Jacky said.

“Very funny,” Qiao Qiao snapped.

“Come on now,” Wallace said. “You were supposed to be over there. If you were, Penny wouldn’t get it.”

“Are you having second thoughts then?”

“What?”

“Changing your mind about going after her after all so you don’t want her to catch it?”

“You’re crazy.” Wallace left the group to go find Cyndi after that.

“What did I say?”

“Sis, never joke about his relationship with Cyndi,” Jacky said in a tone as serious as Wallace’s actions.

“Uh…”

“It’s all right. Let’s go.”

The others followed them over to where Vincent and Alyssa were getting ready to go into their limo–heading toward the designated area of the reception.

“Want to bet who gets there first?” Jacky asked.

“No deal,” Ming Dao said quickly.

“Why not?”

“Chen Yi would win anyway.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence then,” Chen Yi said.

“You must have forgotten that he wouldn’t risk Xiao Yu’s safety,” Jacky pointed out.

As they were talking and walking, they managed to find their dates again–except for Ming Dao and Qiao Qiao since they were both single anyway. Somehow, they managed to spot Tony, Sam, and the rest of the group also–with the exception of Anthony and Xiao Jie since they must have left already.

“What now, you guys?” Jacky asked.

“We’re heading toward the reception, aren’t we?” Tony asked back.

“Of course,” Wallace said. “Just that we want to have a bet as to who gets there first.”

As they were talking, they could see Ambrose and Penny along with Simon and Stacey walking toward them.

“Congrats, you two,” Wallace said to Ambrose and Penny.

“When is the wedding?” Chen Yi teased.

“It doesn’t mean anything,” Ambrose said.

“Then how about selling it off to one of us?”

“No way,” Penny protested.

Chen Yi turned to Ambrose again. “See? Looks like she won.”

“We’ll see.”

Penny turned to Ambrose. “What do you mean?”

“I was kidding, honey,” Ambrose said quickly upon seeing Penny’s expression.

“Oh no, I’m going to get some sweetness overdose again,” Chen Yi blurted out.

“Quit it, man,” Jacky said.

“Yeah, let’s head out,” Tony seconded.

“Or maybe we should wait for the others to be gone before we go since we could be smashed in this mess,” Wallace said. “Besides, our tables are already reserved.”

“Talking about that, why are you still here?” Jacky asked, turning to him. “You two are supposed to be with them.”

“We decided to follow the previous couple’s example…you know elope.”

Cyndi hit Wallace on the shoulder.

“Learned it from Qiao?”

Qiao Qiao gave Wallace a look.

“I’m just kidding. Come on, Cyn.” He grabbed Cyndi’s hand to go after that.

“And they’re off,” Tony announced.

“Hey, how about…” Yan Yan began.

Tony turned to her. “What?”

“Nothing.”

“She wants to get married!” Ehlo exclaimed.

Yan Yan turned to Ehlo. “I do not!”

“That can be arranged,” Tony said with his usual confident voice. “How about next month? This will top Vincent and Alyssa’s wedding.”

“Men, always competing.”

Tony smiled. “Why are you with me then?”

“Because I’m dumb.”

With that, Yan Yan slapped Tony’s hand off her shoulder and walked away.

“Big mistake, man,” Chen Yi said.

Chen Yi smiled after saying that before grabbing Achel’s hand to follow Yan Yan.

“Can’t help you there either,” Qiao Qiao said, crossing her hands in front of her.

Tony gave a quick scan of the others still standing there before turning around and running after Yan Yan. “I was just kidding! You know it, right?”

“He lost it,” Ehlo commented.

“Definitely,” Jacky agreed.

“So…are we going?” Sam asked.

“Guess so. Since we don’t have anything else to talk about, right?”

“Let’s scatter then,” Ehlo said.

He walked with Angela, Gino, Wei Ru, Sam, Xiao Qiao, Ming Dao, and Qiao Qiao to the parking lot also while the others stared after them.

“I guess I’ll see you guys at the reception?” Ambrose asked.

Penny gave them a smile before following Ambrose. Johnny and Bianca accompanied them.

Jacky turned to Sonia. “It’s just us again. Want to sneak out of here and do something else instead?”

“How inconsiderate could you be, Young Master Chu?” Sonia said in a disapproving tone. “Trying to ditch one of your best friends’ wedding?”

Jacky smiled. “I guess I wasn’t thinking straight then.”

“You should learn to restrict yourselves from such behaviors in the future or…”

Jacky looked at her intently. “Or what?”

“I’m trying to be serious here.”

Jacky smiled. “It’s a wedding, loosen up.”

As Sonia was about to deliver her next words, Bianca turned around to yell at them.

“Hurry up, you two lovebirds!”

Jacky turned to Bianca. “Thanks, Miss Bai! We’ll be there in a bit.” He then turned his attention back on Sonia with his teasing smile on.

“Don’t look at me like that,” Sonia said.

“Why not?”

“Because…”

Jacky couldn’t help but leaned in to give her a brief kiss on the lips before taking her hands into his. “You know you can’t be serious for long because we’re the same type of people.”

Sonia smiled finally as the wind hit her face, causing her hair to sway along with it. Jacky reached his hands up to tuck her hair behind her ears again.

“That’s better,” Jacky said, still smiling.

Then they turned toward the direction of the parking lot and walked toward it–hand-in-hand. They took their time with each step, enjoying the late autumn scenery–and its light breezes brushing past their faces.

© Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

Posted: Friday, February 11th, 2011

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