My Dearest One

Written by Jennifer

 

 

 


My Dearest One

Chapter 1

Written by Jennifer

Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
Translated by nho(CA)



“Dear Passengers, we have now landed on Incheon International Airport?”

Finally home! Xiang Zhe drew a deep sigh.

The journey from London this time seemed especially long, it was perhaps due to his being ill! He got a cold before leaving the country and relying on his normal good health, he did not go to consult a doctor before departure. How could he know that a drench of rain in London worsened his condition and unexpectedly he became ill on the plane and caused the flight attendants a lot of troubles.

“I’m sorry to have caused you so much troubles!”

Xiang Zhe apologized to the cabin crew captain and the two air hostesses who were standing by the plane door and bowed to them expressing his thanks.

“This is part of our duty, Mr. Yin. You’re too kind.” The cabin crew captain smilingly replied.

“The menthol balm is very effective?, who does it belong to? Thank you very much.” Xiang Zhe brought out the small porcelain jar he was holding in his hand.

When he was on the plane, the air pressure caused his head ache so splittingly that he felt so sick and broke into cold sweat. Fortunately he was given that jar of menthol balm, or else heaven knew how he could have endured more than ten hours of the long flight home.

The cabin crew captain smiled, “That belongs to another passenger, Miss Zhen. She was so kind-hearted. She immediately ran to let us know when she found out that you were not feeling well?”

“Miss Zhen?”

“Yes, it was that lady who sat behind you across the aisle on your right hand side.”

On the right hand side behind?, Xiang Zhe was trying his best to recall it in his memory: was it the girl who wore a pony tail and lowered her head reading a book? He faintly remembered when his head was aching as it was about to burst open that a gentle and sweet voice spoke in his ear and asked him whether he was feeling ill and whether he needed help from the flight attendant, but he shook his head declining her good intention. In the end, she was still the one who helped him and he unexpectedly did not even get a clear glimpse of her face.

“Can you please introduce me to her? I want to convey my thanks to her.”

“Miss Zhen has already got off the plane?”

~~~~~~~~~.

Shan Mei was standing at the queue waiting to get through immigration and her mouth was wearing a jubilant smile.

She was back in Seoul and was stepping on the soil of her country. That warm and familiar feeling always made her heart flutter indescribably. This was the place where she grew up and where lived the elders who doted on her and friends who grew up with, and besides? there was also someone who was always on her mind. There flashed a thread of bashfulness in Shan Mei’s face. She took out a cell phone from her handbag?

“Song Shuo Mao speaking?”

Listening to that familiar voice, Shan Mei’s heart was beating rapidly.

“This is Shan Mei.” Shan Mei tried her best to keep the calmness in her voice.

“Oh, Shan Mei? You have arrived?”

Song Shuo Mao’s tone seemed to be in a hurry. Shan Mei began to regret phoning him at this hour. He must certainly be very busy, but she really wanted to hear his voice.

“Huh, I’ve just got off the plane? Am I disturbing you from your work?” Shan Mei said apologetically.

“It’s OK! I should be the one to say sorry that I couldn’t meet you at the airport.”

“Haven’t I told you that my auntie is picking me up?”

“Shan Mei, can you hold on a second?”

After a long time before Shan Mei could hear Song Shu Mao’s voice again.

“I’m so embarrassed, something just propped up at the last moment.”

“Hey, why do you keep saying the words “I’m sorry” and “embarrassed” lately?” Shan Mei smilingly said.

“Really? I didn’t notice.”

Shan Mei chuckled.

“Tonight, do you have time to meet with me?” Song Shuo Mao asked.

“I am having dinner with Auntie.”

“I have to go to a last minute business trip to Japan early tomorrow morning and won’t be back until four or five days later.”

“Oh?, then let us meet next week after my test!” Shan Mei tried to restrain the disappointment from her heart and pretended to answer flippantly.

“Then? let me first wish you a smooth and successful test?”

After hanging up, a strange and peculiar feeling again crept up in Shan Mei’s heart. She felt so perplexed. Lately whenever Shuo Mao talked to her on the phone, he would repeatedly apologize to her. That kind of feeling was so strange, as if they were some distant friends.

She met Shuo Mao when she had her training in the Supreme Court Judicial Research and Training Institute after she passed her legal professional exam. Shuo Mao had courted her for one year before she tried to accept his friendship, but that kind of remote and insubstantial relationship really could not be defined as love. After finishing her two-year training in the Institute, her father was transferred to work in the London Embassy and as she herself wanted to further improve her knowledge in international finance laws, she followed her father to England and enrolled to study for a master degree in the Cambridge University Law Faculty. After her arrival in England, Shuo Mao kept close contact with her. Apart from one email a day, he always phoned her during the weekend. When she graduated in Cambridge, Shuo Mao came to attend her graduation ceremony without forewarning. She was really shocked but was also touched by his sudden appearance. She took Shuo Mao to watch the sea in Brighton and that day was the first time she let Shuo Mao hold her hand and from that time onward, she gave her heart to Song Shuo Mao. Since she was young, she always treated matters seriously and so long as she set her mind on something, she would go for it wholeheartedly and persistently. It was due to this reason that she too always treated personal affection discreetly, she did not accept any courtship during her four-year in the university. After she graduated in Cambridge, in order to keep her father company, she found a job working for a branch office of an international law firm in London. Shuo Mao originally worked for a law firm, but about half a year’s ago he quitted and was now working for the legal department of a large enterprise and his worth was well recognized by his employer.

~~~~~~~~..

Xiang Zhe came to the arrival hall and saw Jiang Yu He walking towards him.

“How come you are here?” Xiang Zhe asked him in surprise.

“I’m here to welcome our chairman’s triumphant return to the country!” Jiang Yu He said with a grin.

Xiang Zhe secured many orders from this European tour.

Xiang Zhe grinned, “Come off it!”

Yu He was his senior in the university. After he finished his studies in England, he looked up Yu He to join hands with him and set up “Chamsung Technologies Inc.”. Yu He held the post of general manager, responsible for overseeing the production side of the operation.

Jiang Yu He looked at Xiang Zhe and said, “Xiang Zhe, you are not looking too well, are you too tired?”

Xiang Zhe gave a wry smile, “I haven’t recovered from my flu.”

“Haven’t I told you to marry a wife fast to take care of you and you always ignore my advice!? Hey, you can’t collapse! You have to be present in our go-public cocktail reception next week!”

The stock exchange had approved Chamsung’s application to go public and Chamsung would be holding a cocktail reception to celebrate this event.

“I don’t even have time for a proper sleep, how can I find time to date?” Xiang Zhe smilingly said.

“No time?” Jiang Yu He shook his head, “It all depends on how earnest you are?”

“What? You want to act as a go-between for your wife again?” Xiang Zhe cast Jiang Yu He a look. Jiang Yu He’s wife always wanted to introduce some of her girl friends to Xiang Zhe.

Jiang Yu He put up both of his hands, as a gesture of surrender, “OK, OK, I won’t say anything more.”

Every time when he mentioned this matter to Xiang Zhe, Xiang Zhe always wrangled with him. He had known Xiang Zhe for many years but he could never make out how his mind worked. During their university days, apart from engrossing in their studies, everyone would court the girls they took a fancy to, however Xiang Zhe did not seem to be interested in these kinds of pursuits. He always spent his leisure time with his buddies.

Xiang Zhe was a very handsome guy, with good academic results and was very active in school. It was often heard that girls were in pursuit of him, however he always treated girls with courtesy and no one had seen him truly attracted to or court anyone before.

Xiang Zhe smilingly asked, “How is the reception preparation going on?”

“Very well, I am keeping an eye on the progress of the management department. The guests and the media both respond with enthusiasm?”

“That’s good?, can you please give me a list of the guests. I want to personally call on some of them?”

“OK? Hey, how come he disappears without a trace in just a short time?” Jiang Yu He looked around searching.

“What? You’ve seen someone you know?” Xiang Zhe asked.

“That is your high school friend, the one working as a lawyer in Xie Sheng. I just caught a glimpse of him?”

“Really?” Xiang Zhe looked around, “Maybe he has left? Let’s go, shall we?”

“Back to the office? Mr. Chairman?”

“That is for sure!”

Xiang Zhe’s mouth lifted at the corners, work occupied the major position in his life.

~~~~~~~~~

“Haven’t seen you for a year and you’re getting more and more pretty!” Lee Xiu Wei looked at Shan Mei up and down and laughingly said.

Shan Mei pursed her lips and nodded, “Huh.” She could not help but burst out laughing.

“Hasn’t Auntie said she is coming? How come it’s you instead?” Shan Mei grinningly asked.

“Mom has to deal with a customer at the last moment and can’t come, so she has to order me, a free agent, to come to pick you up. Well? Aren’t you happy to see me?” Lee Xiu Wei raised his eyebrow.

“I just don’t want to keep you away from the time you, as an important lawyer, can spend make money instead?” Shan Mei swung Lee Xiu Wei’s arm.

“Really, you have gone with Uncle for just two years and now you don’t want to pay me any attention! When you were little, you followed me like a chewing gum; you pestered me all day long and hung on my tail. I was so scare of you in those days?” Lee Xiu Wei shook his head and said.

“Who asked you to be my idol!?” Shan Mei laughingly retorted.

When she was young, her classmates were all envious of her when they saw this tall and handsome cousin of hers!

Lee Xiu Wei broke into laughter, “Then how about now?”

“Well, now?” Shan Mei rolled her clear and distinct big eyes on Lee Xiu Wei’s face, and replied with an attractive winning smile, “I now have better taste?”

“You naughty girl!”

Lee Xiu Wei’s patted Shan Mei on her head.

“Aiyoo, why did you have to hit me on my head? I have to take the test in two days’ time!” Shan Mei rubbed her head and pouted her mouth.

“Right?, Hmm, why did you suddenly think of coming back to work in the country? Don’t you like London very much? Why don’t you stay there for a couple more years?”

“Huh?” Shan Mei’s face flashed a thread of shyness, “Nowadays competition is so fierce with everyone breaking their neck scrambling for work. If I don’t come back in a hurry, it would be much harder in the future. Besides, Papa will be transferred back to the country after a couple of years.”

Actually Song Shuo Mao was also one of the reasons when she decided to return to the country.

“Uncle told Mom that you had to work during day time and at night you went all out to prepare material for the test, was it very difficult for you?”

“It’s OK. I’m still young and in good health!”

“Aye yes, I forgot you are Miss Wonder Woman!”

Since she was young, Shan Mei’s ability to study through the night was incomparable.

“How is it? Do you have any confidence?”

“Huh? About 80%.”

“80%?” Lee Xiu Wei glanced at Shan Mei, “How about the rest 20%?”

“The rest will have to rely on you!”

“Me? Why?”

“Hey, you shouldn’t have forgotten?” Shan Mei glowered at Lee Xiu Wei.

“What?”

“You promised to help me comply the materials from some recent cases in the country!”

Lee Xiu Wei patted his own head and bawled, “Darn it!”

Shan Mei was boiling with anger, “Brother Xiu Wei! You have not really forgotten, have you?”

Lee Xiu Wei replied with a face filled with shame: “I was too busy and really forgot all about it.”

“You? you?” Shan Mei was so mad that she stamped her foot.

“Really, you are just applying for a job, why do you have to be so wrought up?” Lee Xiu Wei ridiculed Shan Mei.

“Lee Xiu Wei?”

This time Shan Mei had applied for one of the recruitment openings advertised by an international law firm. It was said that more than two hundred people had applied. A year of training and experience working overseas for a foreign firm motivated her interest to specialize in international finance law. There was not a lot of talents in this area of law in the country, so there were plenty of space to develop one’s capability. She asked for two weeks vacation from her office in order to return to the country to participate in the evaluation test.

“Ha ha!” Lee Xiu Wei burst into laughter, “I’m just joking with you! See how agitated you are.”

Shan Mei then turned anger into joy and murmured: “You are very wicked, no wonder you can’t find a girlfriend.”

“Who said I can’t find a girlfriend?” Lee Siu Wei pouted, looking disdainful.

“You have a girlfriend?”

“Of course!”

“Is she pretty?”

“Of course she is pretty!” Lee Siu Wei wore a proud look.

“How about when compared with me?” Shan Mei naughtily asked.

Lee Xiu Wei glanced at Shan Mei, “Huh? you are prettier.”

What he said was words from the heart. Shan Mei had grown more attractive and pretty during the past two years and it would be difficult now to associate her with the fledging young girl who followed him around years ago.

“Lawyers all say things differently before different people.” Shan Mei pouted with a look of disbelief.

“Hey, don’t forget you too are in the same profession!” Lee Xiu Wei roared with laughter.

“Wait after I have my test, you must introduce me to her!” Shan Mei said.

“That won’t be a problem!”

“Brother Xiu Wei, what are we having for dinner tonight?”

Lee Xiu Wei grinned, “You are such a glutton, you only care about food?”

Shan Mei giggled, “When I was in England, I craved for the goodies here every day!”

“Aye you? Mom said we will go to Mapo for BBQ tonight? Mom favours you more.”

“YA!?” Shan Mei cheered.

Auntie always pampered her so.

 

 

My Dearest One (Qin Ai De Ni)

Chapter 2

By Jennifer

Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
Translated by Jules

“Auntie, why didn’t you wake me?” Shan Mei hugged Jin Huan Zhen from behind and planted a kiss on her cheek.
“You’ve already grown up, but you still act like a little girl. You should be ashamed of yourself.” Jin Huan Zhen looked at her niece fondly.
“What’s the matter? Don’t you like it?” Shan Mei asked laughingly, her arm on Jin Huan Zhen’s shoulders.
“Of course I like it! I like it very much!” Jin Huan Zhen patted Shan Mei’s cheek, “You little sprite!”
Xiu Wei was her only child, so she had treated Shan Mei like one of her own right from the beginning.
“I knew you went to bed very late last night, so I let you rest a little longer.”
Shan Mei had passed the recruitment exams and had been offered a job in a law firm, and the whole family had gone out for dinner to celebrate. Afterwards, they adjourned to a KTV for some Karaoke singing before heading home in the middle of the night.
“Has oppa Xiu Wei gone to work?”
“Yes….What would you like for breakfast? Auntie will prepare it for you.”
“Don’t bother. I ate too much last night. My dinner is still sitting in my stomach! On top of that, my friends have invited me to dinner tonight as well. If I keep going this way, I’m going to end up a blimp!”
She was going out with Shuo Mao that night. He had just spent a week in Tokyo and did not even call her during that time. When she complained about it, he told her he did not want to distract her from her recruitment exams, and that she should thank him for that, not complain about it.
“I’m heading out to check on the shop in Myeongdong soon. Do you want to come with me?”
“That would be great!”
Jin Huan Zhen owned a chain of florists Seoul, and visited the shops on a daily basis.
Jin Huan Zhen rolled her eyes at Shan Mei, then smiled and said, “Xiu Yu will be very happy to see you!”
“Is that so?”
“Of course! Each time you visit, business at the shop picks up by leaps and bounds. How can she not be happy about that?”
“Auntie…!” Shan Mei blushed.
After her high school exams, Shan Mei worked at her auntie’s shop over the holidays. During that time, the shop suddenly took on a very large volume of business from male customers, many of whom would leave love notes behind.

Just as Shan Mei and Jin Huan Zhen arrived at the shop in Myeongdong, they saw Xiu Yu sweating with the effort of loading the van with large bouquets of flowers.
“Xiu Yu, are you about to make some deliveries?” Shan Mei asked.
“Oh, you’re here…Shan Mei? You’ve been back for over a week now. What took you so long to show up….?”
“Here, let me help you…” Shan Mei helped Xiu Yu load another bouquet. “Why are you doing this alone? Where Ah De?”
“He’s gone to make some deliveries. It’s an auspicious day today for business ventures, weddings, shop openings and moving house: all these events in the one day! Ah De just rang to say that he’s stuck in traffic. Oh! We have a customer who is holding a reception this afternoon, and I promised I would get the decorations ready before noon….” Xiu Yu looked at her watch in worry.
“If that’s the case, let me go with you then!” Shan Mei volunteered.
“Well…..” Xiu Yu glanced at Jin Huan Zhen.
Jin Huan Zhen smiled and said, “Why don’t you let her go with you…?”
“Auntie, how much are you paying an hour right now? Has it been increased recently?” Shan Mei asked Jin Huan Zhen mischieviously.
“Come on, Shan Mei, we’re going to be late….” Xiu Yu grabbed Shan Mei and hastily got into the van.

The reception was to be held at the Walker Sheraton. While Shan Mei and Xiu Yu arrived there, a short, fat middle-aged man was already there waiting for them.
“Assistant manager Lee, I’m sorry. I’m really sorry we’re so late.”
Xiu Yu apologized profusely. Shen Mei took her lead and bowed to him in apology.
The man replied pleasantly, “That’s all right, shop manager Zhang…. We’ve still got time…..Er, I haven’t met this lady before. Is she new?”
“Yes, assistant manager. Please leave it all to us. We don’t want to hold you up.” Xiu Yu lead Shan Mei on to work the minute she finished talking.
“This is a huge function room. It would hold at least five or six hundred guests. What sort of company would hold such a large reception?”
“I’m not sure. All I know is that it has something to do with computers….”
Shan Mei looked at the banner overhead and read it out loud, “Chamsung Technologies Inc. Morning Star…. I like the name. It’s progressive, but not overbearing…Hmmm The star of dawn....it’s a pretty name”
“That’ll do, Missy. Stop analyzing the names of others and start doing some work over here…!”
Other than Bonsai, most bouquets would be slightly displaced during transportation, and needed some re-arranging. Chamsung had ordered a large number of bouquets. Jin Huan Zhen feared that Xiu Yu would not have been able to complete re-arranging them on her own, so allowed Shan Mei to assist. Shan Mei had learnt the art of flower arrangement from Jun Huan Zhen at a very young age, and was good at it.

Between the two of them, it took little more than half an hour to complete the work. They stood below the stage admiring their handiwork.
“You’re pretty good, Shan Mei!” Xiu Yu gave Shan Mei the thumbs up.
“Really?”
“Yes…the boss always said you had inherited her sister’s artistic flair.”
“Auntie told me my mother was very good with flower arrangements. She actually met my father at a flower exhibition,”
“Do you still miss her?”
“Yes…” Shan Mei nodded, “Especially when I’m sad. However, I’ve always tried not to show my sadness, because I’m afraid my mother would be sad to see me that way.”
“…” Xiu Yu patted Shan Mei on the shoulder, “Alright. Enough said.”
Shan Mei looked over at the rostrum. “Sister Xiu Yu, maybe we should take that bouquet next to the rostrum and move it over to the VIP table. I think it might end up getting in the way of the speaker….But if we do that, we will have to re-arrange the bouquet on the VIP table, otherwise it won’t fit.”
“Is that so?....” Xiu Yu had a look. “I think you’re right. You stay here while I swop the bouquets around.”

“Sister Xiu Yu… move that one a little more over to the right….yes…just like that….”
“Should we put this one in the middle? What do you think, Shan Mei?”
“Let me move further back and have a look….” Shan retreated as she talked, and walked into someone behind her. Suddenly, the air was full of loose papers flying around.
“Ooops! I’m sorry” Shan Mei apologized. as she turned around, she came face to face with a youthful, attractive face. Her heart started to race.
“You…” Shan Mei’s lips curled in a smile when she saw who it was.
The hesitant look in the other person’s eyes made Shan Mei uncomfortable. He had not recognized her.
Shan Mei put on a smile and bowed slightly, “I’m sorry. I was too busy looking at the stage and did not realize you were behind me….” Shan Mei bent down and picked up the scattered papers.

“It’s all right. Just let me do it….You keep working at your flowers.”
The other person bent down and picked up a sheaf of papers next to her foot.
“The flowers are ready…” Shan Mei ignored the other person’s request and continued picking up papers from the floor. She quickly rearranged them using the page numbers on the top corner of each page, “Just give me those pages in your hand as well.”
The other person hesitated. Shan Mei snatched the remaining pages out of his hand and swiftly slotted them into position.
“There you are! I guarantee you they’re all there in the right order…” Shan Mei said as she returned them to their owner.
“You really surprise me.” The other person smiled.
Shan Mei blushed. “Are you talking about when I bumped into you?”
His lips curled in amusement, “I’m talking about how you managed to re-organise my documents so quickly.”

“I’m really sorry, sir” Xiu Yu had picked up their remaining tools and come up to them.
“It’s all right. Don’t worry about it.”
“Are you an employee of Chamsung company?”
“Er..Yes.”
“Do you know where assistant manager Lee is right now? We’ve finished our work, and want to let him know before we leave.”
“He’s at the reception area.”
“Thank you!”
Shan Mei followed Xiu Yu towards the exit. As they walked away, she could not help but look back. As she did, their eyes met, and she quickly turned away. What a small world it is! Shan Mei thought to herself.
“That person is really good looking, isn’t he?.” Xiu Yu said.
“What?”
“Don’t pretend! I saw you looking at him just now.”
“What are you saying!” Shan Mei protested.

Xiang Zhe looked at the retreating figure with a feeling of déjà vu. Had he met her before somewhere? No, her face was not familiar and he had a good memory for faces. If so, why did he have the feeling that they had known each other before?

In the darkness of the evening, Xiang Zhe drove to the park for a breath of fresh air. The reception he held that afternoon for his customers had kept him busy until almost 10pm. He had only just farewelled the last of his guests.

Xiang Zhe turned, gazed at the city lights in the distance, and smiled broadly.
Mom, can you see me? I’ve done all this on my own. Can you see it? Are you happy for me?
After three years of blood, sweat and tears, Chamsung had risen from a small, unknown company to a conglomerate that pulled in more than $3 billion per year in revenues. Chamsung had been listed on the stock exchange today! He was happy beyond words at this moment.

Xiang Zhe strode confidently towards the viewing platform. Perhaps it was because of the cooler temperature that that the park seemed unusually deserted tonight. Other than a few couples sitting on benches near the entrance, he hardly saw anyone on his way. That suited him perfectly. He was looking forward to some rare solitude. He took a cigarette out of his pocket….

“What are you trying to do…”
A female voice floated to his ears. Xiang Zhe looked up and glanced towards the voice. In the dim light, he could see two men crowding a lady. She had her face in the shadows and he could not see hear clearly, but the tremble in her voice was full of fear.
Xiang Zhe observed the scene before him dispassionately. He had no intention of getting involved in other people’s private affairs.
“Don’t be afraid, Miss! We saw you here alone, and thought you might like some company…” the whine of that voice carried through the darkness and pierced his ears.
Hooligans! Xiang Zhe raised his eyebrows and prepared to yell at them when the lady screamed. Xiang Zhe looked closely and realized that one of them was already holding her.
“Let go..!” the lady picked up her handbag and started hitting one of them with all her might, but was outnumbered by the two of them.
“Stop!” Xiang Zhe bellowed as he rushed towards them.
One of the hooligans blocked Xiang Zhe’s path. He smiled when he saw that Xiang Zhe was dressed in a suit, “Hey pal! Why don’t you just mind your own business? You’re out of your depth…”
“Let go of the lade…” Xiang Zhe glared at them. The two of them were careful to remain in the shadows to avoid being identified.
“Heh, heh….” The one on the left chuckled. Suddenly, he shot out a fist which Xiang Zhe could not dodge in time. It connected with his jaw, and left a taste in his mouth.
Xiang Zhe was overcome with rage and returned a heavy fist into his gut. The man doubled up in pain as his partner loosened came to his aid, letting the lady go. Xiang Zhe managed to dodge, and yelled at the lady, “Run!”
“But…but you….” She just stood there looking at him.
“Run, you fool!” Xiang Zhe hollered at her, “Find help!”
She finally took off.

The two scumbags lost their victim and took it all out on Xiang Zhe. They surrounded him and the three of them fought it out. Although Xiang Zhe was trained in martial arts, it was two against one, and he was tiring out. As a their angry blows landed on him, he looked around for an escape route, knowing that he would not be able to walk away from this one unscathed.
Suddenly, they heard a whistle blow. “Mr Policman, they’re just over there…” A female voice said. It was followed by the sound of more whistles.
“It’s the cops!” the two hooligans glanced at each other, then ran away.

Xiang Zhe leaned against the railing, panting heavily.
A lone shadow appeared next to him. It was the lady.
“Have they gone?” She asked breathlessly. She must have run all the way.
Xiang Zhe looked up at her. She was now in the light and he could see her features clearly.
“It’s you!” Xiang Zhe exclaimed in surprise. It was none other than the flower lady he met that day.
“It’s you!” She recognized him as well.
“Where are the police?” Xiang Zhe held his aching chest and looked around.
She shook her head, smiling thinly, “I dropped my mobile here, and could not find a public phone anywhere. There was no one around and I was worried for you. I finally remembered I had a whistle in my bag, so I took a chance and pretended I had called the police hoping to scare them away…”
“Good girl!” Xiang Zhe admired her guts, “Now let’s get out of here before those two decide to come back.”
“My mobile…” Shan Mei looked down in the bushes, searching.
Xiang Zhe tried to help and looked down, then discovered that she was barefooted.
“It’s here…” Shan Mei found the mobile.
“Where are your shoes?”
“I left them behind. I can run faster that way.” She took off her high heels in her haste to get back.
“Let me go find them for you.”
“No!” Shan Mei pulled on Xiang Zhe’s sleeve, “Please don’t leave me on my own. I’m….scared.”

Shan Mei’s anxiety did not let up until Xiang Zhe drove them away from the park.
:Thank you….If not for you, I dare not think what could have happened …”
She turned and looked at Xiang Zhe. In the light, she was shocked to discover that his mouth was bleeding. She paled.
“You’re hurt!”
“It’s only a scratch. I copped one on the chin.” Xiang Zhe wiped it off with his hand. “All it needs is a little dressing.”
“A scratch? It’s bleeding…..No! We’d better get to a hospital!”
“Hospital?” Xiang Zhe shook his head. “Aren’t you overreacting?”
“We need to go to the hospital to have you checked out. Once we get a medical, we can report it to the police!”
“Report it?” There was no way Xiang Zhe was going to have himself featured in both the financial press and the society pages on the same day.
“Of course we have to report it. Otherwise they might try it again on someone else.” Shan Mei stated the obvious. “Hey, you’re not thinking of letting them off, are you? It’s precisely because others have tolerated their behaviour that they’ve become so bold….” Shan Mei huffed.
Xiang Zhe scratched his head. “What you say is true. However, did you get a good look at their faces? If not, how are we going to report this?”
The two of them had been wearing caps and stood in the shadows most of the time. It was impossible to get a good look at their features.

Shan Mei made a trip to the chemist, and helped Xiang Zhe clean and dress his wound. She saw him holding his chest, was concerned, “Are you in pain? I still think we should make a trip to the hospital.”
Xiang Zhe’s dark eyes were on her, making her uncomfortable. “What’s wrong with you?” Shen asked.
“Did we meet on a plane? Last week’s flight from London to Seoul?”
Shan Mei’s sweet, gentle voice stirred his memory.
“You’re that Miss Zhen, aren’t you?” He scrutinized her closely.
He smiled, “Why didn’t you say something this morning?......When I disembarked that day, I wanted to thank you, but you had already disappeared.”
Shan Mei covered her mouth, “I really didn’t do much….Actually, I should be the one thanking you for saving my life. You even got hurt in the process….”
Xiang Zhe interrupted, “Anyone in the same position would have done what I did. Don’t get too carried away.”
Xiang Zhe looked at Shan Mei’s guilty expression and consoled, “Just think of it as my way of returning the favour you did me on that flight. Why don’t we just call it quits?”
Shan Mei looked at Xiang Zhe, “How can you compare the two? I could have been killed if not for you. You saved me….”
Xiang Zhe chuckled, “That headache on the plane nearly killed me too….”
Xiang Zhe’s words had Shan Mei laughing too.

“Where do you live? I’ll take you home.”
Shan Mei shook her head, “Please don’t bother. Just drop me off at the subway station up ahead.”

There had been a car accident up ahead, and the traffic was very slow.
Xiang Zhe pointed at the glove box. “There are some paper towels in there. Help yourself.”
“Thank you…”
She knew she looked terrible.
Shan Mei cleaned out her face, hands and clothing as much as she could, then pulled her hair with a scrunchie.
“What were you doing there on your own? You should really be more careful at night….”
Shan Mei turned her head and looked out the window, avoiding the question.
He took one look at her and continued driving.
After a moment, he heard soft sobbing and turned to find that she was crying.
“It’s OK. You’re safe now…” he consoled her.
Shan Mei pulled out another tissue and wiped her tears.
“I fell down hard today and was badly hurt. For the first time in my life, I realized how much it could hurt when you fall….” Shan Mei mourned. It was the first time that her heart had been broken.
He looked at her anguish and deciphered the rest himself. She had probably gone to the park because she was feeling miserable.
“Even though it hurts when you fall, just another test of life. We all fall every now and then in different ways. The difference is whether you are able to stand up again after you fall…. My approach is to stand up again at exactly same spot where I fell.”
She looked at him.
“Would you like to listen to some music?”
Without waiting for an answer, Xiang Zhe turned it on, and beautiful piano sounds filled the car. It was Kevin Kern’s “Through the Arbor”.
“You like Kevin Kern’s piano music?”
Xiang Zhe nodded. “There’s a certain strength in his renditions that helps you deal with your sorrow, and brings peace to your mind. Listening to his playing, you can almost see the blue sky and smell the perfume of trees and flowers. It makes you treasure life…. People like me are in dire need of these things…”
People like him? What kind of person is he? Shan Mei wondered.

The car pulled up at the subway station.
“Thank you.” Shan Mei smiled and glanced at him.
“You’ve already thanked me enough. It’s not often that I get to play the knight in shining armour.”
He stood by the car door looking at her. She had a beautiful smile.
“Bye!” She waved at him.
“Hey…” he stopped her, “Can you tell me your name?” He only knew her last name was Zhen.
She was surprised. “Surely there’s no need? We may never meet again.”
After the evening’s events, she was re-considering her decision to live and work in Seoul.
“I’m off!” Shan Mei smiled then turned around and walked into the station.

“Wait a minute…” he caught up with her at the turnstiles.
“What is it” She was astonished.
“This is for you.”
It was Kevin Kern’s piano CD
“This….” She looked at him awkwardly.
“I hope you feel better soon.”
His sincerity and smile made it impossible for her to reject him.
“Thank you!” she said.
“There you go again!”
“Goodbye then, my saviour.”
“Goodbye, flower girl.”

In the train, Shan Mei looked at the CD in her hands. A warmth crept up in her heart. She was surprised to find that the pain and sorrow of two hours ago had already started to ease, bit by bit. She knew the pain would not disappear overnight, but she was confident that her wounds would heal, that she would soon forget Song Shuo Mao.

She thought about his words, “Falling down is just another test of life.”
She never expected that a total stranger would be able to show her the door to the next chapter in her life.

 


 

My Dearest One –

Chapter 3

Written by Jennifer

Source: AAEV
Translated by nho(CA)



Lee Xiu Wei was quick of sight and spotted a familiar figure.

“Xiang Zhe!” He called out loudly.

Xiang Zhe turned around and looked, his face wearing a pleased smile.

“How come you are here?” Xiang Zhe asked.

“I came to meet with a client nearby and the meeting finished earlier than expected. It is too early for my next appointment, so I simply take a stroll here.”

This building was part of the newest and the most modern twin-tower building in Youido. The underground was the famous brand shopping area. His girlfriend Xu Ya Shu loved to come here to shop.

“I’ve just called you at your office and your secretary told me you were not in.”

“I have gone to the factory … Wanner come up to my office?”

The two of them went up the 45th floor where Xiang Zhe’s office was situated.

“Hey, Chamsung’s price soared up to nearly 30% just three months since it was listed. Your social prestige is rapidly rising and you have become a real star in the electronic field …” Xiu Wei enviously glanced at Xiang Zhe, “Aye, I should have gone to study electronics with you in the first place.”

“You should have seen what piteous conditions I was in when at the start of my business I had to kowtow and beg for loans from everywhere and got rejected! In our business, the cycles of our line of products are very short and we will be cast out if we do not continue to research and invent new products all the time. Actually on the contrary, I am envious of you …” Xiang Zhe said.

“Envious of me?”

“Yes! You commercial lawyers have businesses to do no matter whether the economy is booming or in depression. When the economy is booming, you have more merger, acquisition and listing cases than you can handle and when it is in a economy depression, those bankruptcy and receivership cases will be queuing up at your door. You are swarmed with businesses throughout the year…”

When Lee Xiu Wei heard what Xiang Zhe said, he roared with laughter.

“Hey, Last time I introduced you to that Cui Yu Fen, have you made a date with her?” Xiu Wei asked.

Xiang Zhe smilingly shook his head.

“Aye, I predicted it already …” Xiu Wei shook his head and smiled, “Man, exactly what is in your mind? Could it be that you want to stay a bachelor all your life?”

“I am very satisfied with my present life style, unrestrained and free.” Xiang Zhe said.

“Ya Shu has mentioned to me a few times that she wants to introduce her cousin to you. Her cousin just came back from studying overseas and she is now working at the TV station. I know you won’t be interested, so every time when she mentions it to me, I have to try to make all sorts of excuses. I have procrastinated for over three months and I will soon be admonished by her. Please have pity on me and make yourself available to meet with her! In any case, let me accomplish my duty so as to preserve my peace of mind!”

“That is the reason why I love to live my life on my own with no one gabbing at my ears.” Xiang Zhe taunted Lee Xiu Wei.

“Hey, are you available this evening? Let’s have dinner together!” Lee Xiu Wei said.

“Didn’t you just say that you have an appointment with someone?”

“Oh, it’s just my cousin, a family member, so there won’t be a problem!”

“Is it not too good?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

Xiu Wei forcefully dragged Xiang Zhe down to the French restaurant on the second floor.

“My cousin works for Baker & McKenzie on the 15th floor of this building.”

“She is also a lawyer?”

“Right.”

Xiu Wei’s cousin had not arrived. Xiang Zhe and Xiu Wei chatted about a recent patent lawsuit.


“Xiu Wei Oppa!”

A slender shadow arrived at their table. Xiang Zhe raised his eyes and looked. He was feeling delighted, was she Xiu Wei’s cousin? She looked … quite different.

“You are very punctual!” Lee Xiu Wei looked at his watch.

“Of course, I am always punctual as a lawyer …” Shan Mei lifted her chin and said proudly. She did not notice the presence of an outsider.

Lee Xiu Wei made a signal with his lips, pointing to Xiang Zhe, “This is my best buddy, Yin Xiang Zhe.”

Shan Mei turned and looked and was dumbfounded on the spot.

“My cousin, Zhen Shan Mei.” Xiu Wei introduced them.

“You … are Yin Xiang Zhe?”

Xiang Zhe lifted the corner of his mouth and smilingly replied: “Yes, I am Yin Xiang Zhe. So we meet again.”

“What, you know each other?” Lee Xiu Wei looked at both of them in surprise.

“We …” Xiang Zhe began to speak but was immediately cut off by Shan Mei.

“I met him briefly last time when I went with Sister Xiu Yu to deliver the flowers.”

“That was the day when Chamsung held its reception to celebrate its listing.” Xiang Zhe explained. It looked as though she purposely did not want to mention the accident in the park that night.

“I hope Miss Zhen won’t mind me having dinner with you two!” Xiang Zhe said.

“Of course not!” Shan Mei replied with a big smile.

The three of them took their seats and Lee Xiu Wei signalled the waiter to come to take their orders.

“What do you want to eat?” Lee Xiu Wei asked Shan Mei, “Hey, first let’s agree that you are not to order green salads, or else Mom will say I am mistreating you. Today you can order whatever you like, with no budget limit.”

“Really? Then you must not regret your words later. I’m so hungry now that I can eat a whole cow.” Shan Mei said.

“You are the birthday girl. You have the say.”

“It’s Miss Zhen’s birthday today?”

“She has her birthday tomorrow, but I am going away on a business trip, so we’re celebrating our Princess’s birthday tonight.” Xiu Wei said.

Shan Mei knocked her elbow once against Lee Xiu Wei, “Hey, why did you say things like this, it would make other think I am so calculating! It’s you who say you are treating me to dinner and I have not pointed a knife to your throat!”

Shan Mei helped herself generously and ordered an expensive lobster set dinner, whereas Xiang Zhe and Xiu Wei just ordered a steak dinner.

“Xiang Zhe, our Shan Mei simply hated you when she was little … Am I correct? Shan Mei?” Lee Xiu Wei winked at Shan Mei.

“Hated me?” Xiang Zhe looked at Shan Mei uncomprehendingly.

“Correct! When I was little, I got mad when I heard your name.” Shan Mei happily said.

“What have I done to offend you? I indeed have never seen your face before!” Xiang Zhe frowned.

Shan Mei puckered in smile: “Who asked you and Xiu Wei Oppa to fool around with each other along day long. I could never even catch a glimpse of him whenever I went to Auntie’s place.”

When they were young Xiu Wei always took Shan Mei with him when he went out to play, but he no longer let her tag along when he was in senior high. Auntie always told her that he had gone playing basketball with a friend called Xiang Zhe.

Xiang Zhe smiled, “Then you shouldn’t blame me, it was him who pestered me.”

Shan Mei slanted a look at Xiu Wei, pursing her lips and said, “Lee Xiu Wei, after all is said and done, you are the most rotten. You didn’t even remember how I especially made some kimbab (rice rolls) for you and braved the rain to deliver them to you.”

“Well …” Lee Xiu Wei grinned, “I haven’t even taken a bite …”

“What?” Shan Mei glowered.

“They all went into this gentleman’s stomach.” Lee Xiu Wei pointed a finger at Xiang Zhe’s direction.

“Me?” Xiang Zhe looked at Xiu Wei incomprehensibly.

“Correct, it was you.” Lee Xiu smilingly nodded, “You must have forgotten. Once after a basketball match, wasn’t I summoned to the sports office? When I got back I found out that the box of kimbab was all devoured by you.”

“I thought that was bought by our football team.” Xiang Zhe was a little embarrassed, “I am so sorry! Miss Zhen.”

“Don’t call her Miss Zhen. It sounds so awkward, just call her Shan Mei!”

“Well …” Xiang Zhe glanced at Shan Mei; it seemed rather rude to call her by her name when they have just met.

“It doesn’t matter, it’s OK to call me by my name.” Shan Mei said in a natural and poised manner.

During the dinner, Shan Mei soon discovered that the two diehard buddies before her even had the same taste in food. Both of them ate a medium well steak, drank the same wine and ordered the same dessert.

“I really can’t stand the two of you!” Shan Mei shook her head.

“We have known each other for 14 years!” Lee Xiu Wei and Xiang Zhe drank a toast to each other.

They attended the same high school and the same university and after graduation, they served in the same army unit and thereafter they went to further their studies in Cambridge. Everything they did, they did it together.

“The two of you should not have fallen for the same girl in school?” Shan Mei teasingly asked.

“Ha, you are completely mistaken!” Lee Xiu Wei glanced at Xiang Zhe, “This guy thinks falling in love is too troublesome and prefers to live a quiet and peaceful life …”

“You have said enough! Lee Xiu Wei …” Xiang Zhe stopped Xiu Wei from continuing on.

“This is your birthday present …”

Lee Xiu Wei took a light blue wrapped gift box from his brief case.

“What is it?” Shan Mei smilingly asked.

“Open it and look!”

Shan Mei opened the gift box and happily laughed. Inside the box was a set of “Precious Moments” figurines with the little girl sitting in a beautiful garden holding a dog in her arm, gently inhaling the fragrance of the flowers and revealing a satisfied and happy smile on her face.

“Happy?” Lee Xiu Wei asked.

Shan Mei frowned and cajolely retorted: “You are still buying me this at my age!”

“I think I will buy you this even when you are 50 years’ old …” Lee Xiu Wei turned to Xiang Zhe: “She has a cupboard full of toys and trifles such as dolls and little bears in her bedroom.”

“It’s none of your business …” Shan Mei caught a glimpse of Tiffany gift packet in Lee Xiu Wei’s brief case, “What is that?” Shan Mei asked.

“It’s a gift to another person …” Lee Xiu Wei looked embarrassed and how would Shan Mei let him off so easily. “Let me take a look!” Lee Xiu Wei could not dissuade her, so he just had to take out the jewel box from the gift packet. Shan Mei opened it up and looked – it was a heart shaped diamond hanging on a platinum necklace.

“Favoritism. You bought the necklace for your girlfriend but only bought me the dolls … I don’t care, I want this too.”

Shan Mei held on to the necklace and refused to give it back to Lee Xiu Wei, causing Lee Xiu Wei not knowing whether to cry or laugh. Xiang Zhe could not help but laughed on one side. He really could not associate this naughty and mischievous girl before him with the girl who was attired in a dignified way.

Shan Mei fooled around for a long while before giving the necklace back to Lee Xiu Wei.

“You really beat me!” Lee Xiu Wei helplessly said: “Princess, your Highness, please hurry up and get yourself a boy friend to buy you a necklace!”

Shan Mei pouted, “I can buy it myself … Falling in love is too much trouble. I will take a leaf out of Xiang Zhe’s book.”

“Don’t talk toughly!”

When the two cousins were squabbling with each other, Lee Xiu Wei’s cell phone rang. It was his assistant who asked him to go back to the office to deal with some urgent matter.

“Xiang Zhe, would you mind taking Shan Mei home?”

“There is no need!” Shan Mei immediately shook her head.

In the end Shan Mei could not decline his offer and got into Xiang Zhe’s car..

“I’m so happy to see you again.” Xiang Zhe said.

“Really?” Shan Mei pursed her lips and smiled.

“Xiu Wei and they don’t know about what happened in the park the other night?”

“I did not tell them.”

“A week after that night, I read from the newspapers that the police caught two hooligans in the park and they looked like the two we ran into.” Xiang Zhe said.

“Really?”

“You did not read the newspapers?”

Shan Mei shook her head, “I went back to England.”

“Back to England?”

“I live with my father in England.”

“Oh!”

“That day after I got home I got more and more angry so the next day I went to report the case to the police …”

“What?” Xiang Zhe looked at Shan Mei and could not resist laughing, “I should have guessed at the beginning that you were a lawyer or something. You spoke like a messenger of justice and you also told me off for being too lenient towards evils thus encourage their evil deeds …”

Shan Mei could not help breaking into laughter, “I was not that fierce!”

“Actually I …” Xiang Zhe began speaking but hesitated on second thought.

“What?”

“I later went to the florist on two occasions but I could not find you there …”

“You went to look for me?” Shan Mei asked in astonishment.

“You know I went to your shop?”

Shan Mei nodded, “Sister Xiu Yu said you came twice to get some flowers …”

“Sister Xiu Yu?”

“That was the lady who was with me at the reception that day.”

“She could still remember me?”

“It would not be difficult to forget someone as handsome as you are.”

“I don’t think it is the case, or else why don’t you want to have any dealings with me?”

“What gives you this idea?”

“You didn’t even want to tell me your name that day.”

Shan Mei smiled, “What do you want to see me for?” Shan Mei asked.

“I … am a little worried about you. You looked very distressed that day.”

“You don’t resemble the kind of person described by Xiu Wei Oppa.” She smilingly looked at him.

“What kind of person?”

“One who is very cold and without passion …”

“Very cold and without passion?”

“One who thinks that falling in love is too much trouble and who loves to live a peaceful and quiet life. It sounds like a person who is pure heart with few desires.”

“Yes, I’m that kind of person!” Xiang Zhe replied, not feeling any resentment or anger.

Shan Mei smilingly slanted a look at Xiang Zhe, “Then I am quite surprised that you would go to look for me at the florist?”

“You are different …”

“How different?”

“You came to my aid twice!”

“Twice?” She had only ever brought him the balm on the plane.

“That night you didn’t have any thought for your own safety and returned looking for me and scared the hooligans off, didn’t you?”

He could never forget how worried she looked coming back barefooted, looking for him.

“I just couldn’t desert you there. You were there in order to help me.” Shan Mei said.

“Thank you for sticking with me and not abandoning me.”

“The feeling is mutual.”

The two of them looked at each other and laughed.

………………………….

The car drove past the road surrounding Youido Park.

Shan Mei looked out of the window and the past events leaped in her mind.

“Was it in here?” Shan Mei asked.

“Huh?” Xiang Zhe responded uncomprehendingly.

“The Bamseom Islet bird viewing platform … You saved my life there.”

Xiang Zhe stayed silent.

“Do you know … why I went there on my own that night?”

Xiang Zhe glanced at Shan Mei and still remained silent.

“That day … I inexplicably fell out of love. I felt so distressed that I went to the park to give myself a good cry.”

Shan Mei spoke so calmly as if she was recounting someone’s tales.

He looked at her. That day she told him that she had tumbled and fall and was badly hurt. So she had just split up with her boyfriend.

“I thought at that time that I would not come back to Seoul any more.” Shan Mei said.

No wonder when he asked her name, she told him that perhaps they would not meet again in the future.

“Then why did you return to Seoul again?” He asked her.

“Didn’t you say that I have to stand up from where I have made the fall.”

“Are you still sad?”

“After I listened to your piano CD for the fifth times, I felt better here.” Shan Mei pointed to her heart.

The car headed slowly into the Apgujeong-dong shopping area.

“Are you in a hurry to go home?” Xiang Zhe asked.

Shan Mei shook her head, “Anything the matter?”

“I want to buy something for someone. Can you give me some pointers.”

The two of them went to the Galleria Department Store.

“What is the appropriate thing to buy for a female?”

“Well, it all depends how friendly you are with her …, is it for your girlfriend?”

Xiang Zhe smiled but did not answer.

“Why don’t you simply do as Xiu Wei Oppa and buy her a diamond necklace?”

“We do not have that kind of relationship …”

“Hey, it looks as though my cousin does not understand you too well!” Shan Mei smilingly said.

Lee Xiu Wei said Yin Xiang Zhe found falling in love too troublesome and preferred to live a peaceful and quiet life on his own. It looked as if it was entirely a different story, he was buying something for his girlfriend!

“Please give me some pointers!”

Shan Mei thought for a moment, “Why don’t you buy a scarf instead!”

Silk scarf could be bought for anyone without being too offensive.

“What do you think of this one?”

Xiang Zhe picked up a Nina Ricci lily peach-colour silk scarf and asked Shan Mei’s opinion.

“Dignified and elegant, very pretty.”

He had good taste and the several scarves he picked were all very tasteful.

While Xiang Zhe was choosing the silk scarf, Shan Mei also took the opportunity to look around and she took a fancy to a Burberry classic check scarf in light blue colour with the checks surrounding each spring blossom and it looked particularly distinguished when compared with the dark colour pant suit she was wearing, but after she looked at the price, she put the scarf back on the rack.

“It’s very pretty!”

“It’s too expensive!” She spoke quietly in his ear.

“Miss, can you please wrap up this scarf.” Xiang Zhe said to the salesperson, pointing to the silk scarf put down by Shan Mei.

Shan Mei looked at Xiang Zhe in surprise.

“I trust your taste.” He told her.

As a matter of act, Shan Mei lived in Rui Cao, not too far from where he lived. The two buildings faced each other across the park, one on the west and one on the east.

“How come you do not stay at your aunt’s place? There is someone to take care of you.”

“My father and I used to live here and if the house stays vacant for too long, it will smell stale …, besides I often work overtime until very late in the night and I don’t want to wake them up. However, I usually go to my Auntie’s place to have a sumptuous meal.

“Thank you for taking me home.”

“Please hold on a second …” Xiang Zhe stopped Shan Mei.

“Happy Birthday!” He handed her the present he just bought.

“Oh!” Shan Mei was dumbfounded.

“Please accept it. It will make me very happy.”

Xiang Zhe put the present in Shan Mei’s hands.

“This …”

“Good night.”

He left before she even had time to say thank you.


My Dearest One (Qin Ai De Ni) –

Chapter 4

By Jennifer

Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
Translated by Jules


Even though the world is a big place, it can sometimes be surprisingly small. She assumed that she and Xiang Zhe would be but ships passing in the night, never expecting that they would meet up again and again. What surprised her most was that he turned out to be her cousin Li Xiu Wei’s good friend.

Since the night of her birthday, she often bumped into Xiang Zhe in the lift lobby in the mornings. Although they never spoke, they would exchange smiles of greeting across the morning crowd. She thought of how, over the past two months, they might have been at the lift lobby together, but never saw each other. Life often brings unexpected surprises if one makes the effort to seek them out.

At eleven in the morning, Shan Mei returned from a kick off meeting for a client seeking overseas investors. The project was ready for its initial offering next week, and there was already another waiting in the wings. Thankfully, it was Friday, so she could take a breather over the next two days before having to go into battle yet again. Life was indeed hectic.

Shan Mei was in the lobby waiting for the lift.
“Zhen Shan Mei!” Xiang Zhe’s voice called out from behind her.
She hadn’t seen him for a week.
“Have you been really busy lately?” She asked as she smiled at him.
“Yes, busy with the technology exhibition.” He smiled in return.
“By the look of you, I guess you must have managed to win quite a few new contracts.”
“You’re absolutely right…”Xiang Zhe was delighted.
The lift arrived. They looked at each other, and let it go without getting on.
“Getting used to the work here?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“Yes…..it’s been really hectic, but I love the challenge.”
“You look good.”
“Really?” Shan Mei patted her cheek, she had lost weight recently. “Thank you for the birthday present. You left too hastily that night, and I didn’t get a chance to thank you properly. Since then, we’ve both been in a rush each time we bumped into each other…I’m sorry I didn’t manage to thank you earlier.”
She had rung him at his office twice before, but did not manage to get hold of him. She did not bother to leave a message, but his observant secretary seemed to recognize her voice the second time. She had been too embarrassed to try a third time, afraid that his secretary might read too much into it. As a result, she had lived with a measure of guilt for her lack of manners.

The second lift arrived.
“Shall we go up?” The two of them stepped in together.
“The view from your office must be magnificent.” Shan Mei said. His office was on the 45th floor.
“Would you like to come up and have a look?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“That would be great!”
“How does noon today sound to you?”
“Sounds good.”
“See you at noon then. And don’t you dare to be late!” Xiang Zhe said.
Shan Mei chuckled, “Hey! That’s a bit harsh.”
Xiang Zhe’s smiled, “Well, I’m a very strict boss.”
“Thank goodness you’re not mine!”

She arrived at his offices at noon.
“Miss Zhen? …. The MD is waiting for you in his office.” A middle-aged lady who looked like a secretary greeted her. Xiang Zhe must have left instructions….
“Thank you.”
Shan Mei knocked on the door.
“Come in.” Xiang Zhe’s voice called curtly from within. Shan Mei secretly smiled. So…this was how he spoke when he was at work. She had never heard him use that tone of voice before. It was definitely a boss’ tone!

Shan Mei opened the door and entered.
“You’re here.” Xiang Zhe looked extremely pleased.
In that instant, he became the gentle, caring man again.

Xiang Zhe left the piles of documents on his desk and came forward to greet her.
“You look busy! Am I keeping you?” Shan Mei nodded towards the documentation.
“It’s a contract for the transfer of some intellectual property – clear as mud. Reviewing it is driving me crazy….. Hmmm, why is it you lawyers always have to beat around the bush? Something that should have been very simple is now so convoluted I have no idea what it all means.” Xiang Zhe complained.
Shan Mei smiled, “We have to earn our keep somehow!”

Shan Mei went to the window and was exhilarated.
“What a wonderful view!” She was ecstatic.
“You’re easily pleased! Looking at your reaction, people would think you’ve just seen some wonder of the world!”
The smile on her face was candid as a child.
“There’s no need to seek out any wonders of the world when the world’s wonders are laid out at your feet.” She said.
“Look at the Han River….quietly going about its business, looking like a piece of green ribbon. The little boats dotting its surface are like sequins on the ribbon….and look at the blue sky and those fluffy clouds…they look so close you could almost touch them. Looking at the world from here makes me feel like I’m in heaven. When you’re in a bad mood, I’m sure your troubles will melt away once you stand here….Oh! How I wish I could work here…”

“Just look at you! If and when you’re in a bad mood, you’re welcome to come up here anytime….” Xiang Zhe grinned.
Shan Mei looked back at him, “You’re the one who said it! If I suddenly turn up here, you’ll have to take me in.”
Xiang Zhe’s eyes twinkled. Her brilliant smile far outshone the view, and lit up the corners of his heart.

The secretary brought lunch in.
“I hope you like it. It’s only a simple meal.”
“Wow, I didn’t expect lunch as well…” Shan Mei peeped in the box, “Chef’s salad!” She laughed at looked his way, “My favourite! How did you know?”
“I guessed….that night at the restaurant, Xiu Wei didn’t let you have it, so I guessed you must like it a lot.”
“Hey, you’re scary, you know that?”
He was both caring AND observant.
“Miss Zhen Shan Mei, can you please stop calling me “hey”?”
“What should I call you then?” Shan Mei raised her eyebrows and said mischievously, “How about Mr Managing Director Sir? That’s the most polite term I can think of!”
Xiang Zhe conveniently lifted a straw and used it to rap Shan Mei on the head.

Xiang Zhe also ordered some pineapple, fried chicken and fruit juice. They devoured it all between the two of them.
“I’ve never seen a lady eat so much as you.” He teased. She had eaten as much as he, and even fought with him for the chicken drumstick.
Shan Mei’s face fell. On seeing this, Xiang Zhe berated himself for having taken things too far. They weren’t on such familiar terms yet.
“I’m sorry, I was only joking. Please don’t take it to heart.” He apologized.
Shan Mei smiled deviously, “I’m sorry too, I was pulling your leg as well. Please don’t’ take it to heart.”

Shan Mei lingered in Xiang Zhe’s office until half past one.
“Thank you so much, Yin Xiang Zhe. Both my eyes and my stomach have had a feast.”
“Oh my goodness! You still remember my name! I thought you’d forgotten.”
She glowered at him.
“Please come back again.” He saw her to the lift.

After the heavy lunch that day, she almost fell asleep during the departmental meeting that afternoon.

She bumped into him again after work.
She saw his heavy briefcase and teased, “You’ve got homework to do?”
Xiang Zhe smiled grimly, “It’s that dastardly contract.”
“Haven’t you got legal counsel to help with it?”
“Yes I have, but some of the commercial terms and conditions still need me to look at them. With the current litigious environment, I can’t afford not to.” Xiang Zhe sighed, “Oh, I really dread having to do this!”
“Would you like me to help you with it?” Shan Mei lifted the corners of her lips.
Xiang Zhe was delighted, “Would you?”
“I’m only available on Sunday, though. Can you wait till then?”

Just before nine on Sunday morning, Xiang Zhe arrived at the entrance to the park near Shan Mei’s home. He was ten minutes early.

Right on nine, Shan Mei came into sight, full of smiles. She waved at him from afar. As he watched, her radiant smiles warmed his heart, and his lips lifted in response to hers.
“Am I interrupting your beauty sleep?” he asked.
Shan Mei looked up at the clear blue sky and dazzled him with another smile, “Today is too beautiful to spend sleeping.”
Xiang Zhe scrutinized Shan Mei and secretly smiled but was caught out.
“What is it?”
“Nothing.” Xiang Zhe shook his head.
“Yin Xiang Zhe, I hate it when people don’t say what they mean.”
Xiang Zhe was forced to come clean, “I just feel that you’re more….appealing when you dress like this.”
She was wearing a cream short-sleeved T-shirt, blue jeans and loafers.
She glowered at him. “Appealing? You make me sound like some middle-aged hag.”
Xiang Zhe chuckled, “What I mean is, you’re very formal when you dress for work.”
She had been wearing dark suits every time he met her at work.
“It’s company policy!”

The two of them headed into the park.
“What’s a good spot for doing some work around here?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“Don’t tell me you’ve never been here before?” Shan Mei was surprised.
Xiang Zhe smiled sheepishly. He didn’t remember ever coming here.
“Come with me!”
Shan Mei lead Xiang Zhe confidently through the park to a quiet lawn behind the greenhouse. There was a large tree there to provide shade and support.
“You come here regularly?”
“Yes, I run here, or come here to read. This is my favourite spot for reading. It reminds me of the lawn in front of King’s College where I used to study….” Shan Mei said as she took a sheaf of papers from her bag. It was the contract that Xiang Zhe emailed her two nights before.

“This contract of yours is rather thick. It took me the whole night last night….” Shan Mei stopped and looked at Xiang Zhe through narrowed eyes, “Hey! You’ve let me in on this top secret of yours. Aren’t you afraid that I might let it out? Are you sure I can be trusted?”

“You and I shared a life-and-death experience. If I didn’t trust you, who else would I trust? Am I right, Miss Zhen Shan Mei?”
Shen Mei laughed when she heard.
Shan Mei couldn’t help laughing when she saw the red markings he made on the small print of his copy of the contract. “Yin Xiang Zhe, you’re pretty hard-working!”
“Thank you for your compliment!” Xiang Zhe returned.
It had taken him two long nights to finally complete his review of the document.
“Mr Managing Director Sir, how should we proceed? Would you like to look at it line by line, or page by page?” Shan Mei asked Xiang Zhe playfully.

“How about by Question and Answer?”
Xiang Zhe had questions on just about everything, and sought clarification from Shan Mei. In addition, there were items he felt were not specific enough, and discussed these with Shan Mei as well. Shan Mei discovered that Xiang Zhe was through, thoughtful and had great foresight. She was immensely impressed.

Xiang Zhe checked his watch at ten-thirty, “Let’s take a break.” He passed her a drink.
“Thank you,” she was thirsty after talking for an hour and a half.
“If you had studied law, you would have made a really great lawyer.” Shan Mei said.
Xiang Zhe laughed, “If I had studied law, I would have been bored to death within the year…”
Shan Mei rolled over laughing.

“Would you like a biscuit?”
Without waiting for his answer, Shan Mei pressed two biscuits into Xiang Zhe’s hand.
“What’s this?” Xiang Zhe raised his eyebrows. He was not fond of sweet foods.
“Auntie’s friend was raising funds, and gave her some peach cookies. She gave me a large bag of these, and there’s no way I can finish them on my own. Please, please help me eat them!”
Xiang Zhe amicably finished off the two biscuits.
“It’s Sunday. Don’t you have anything planned?” Xiang Zhe asked.
Shan Mei looked at Xiang Zhe, “I said I was going to learn from you….”
“Learn what from me?” Xiang Zhe asked, uncertainly.
“Learn how to live a bachelor life!”
“Hey! You mean no one’s game to ask you on a date!” he teased.
Shan Mei glared, “You must be joking! There’s a line of people from here to the park entrance waiting to ask me out!”
There was always someone trying to chat her up when she was waiting for a taxi or for the lift.
“In that case, would I have to join the queue and wait a long time if I wanted to pursue you?” Xiang Zhe smiled broadly.
“Uh, um…er..” Shan Mei choked on her drink at the unexpected question from Xiang Zhe.
“What’s wrong? Did I scare you?” Xiang Zhe doubled up in laughter.
Shan Mei blushed and glared at him.
Xiang Zhe patted her on the shoulder, “Don’t be angry…. You look much better when you’re smiling.”
“Oh you!”
“Hey, with so many suitors, don’t you find it distracting?”
“I have my ways and means…” Shan Mei replied smugly.
“What ways?” Xiang Zhe was curious.
Shan Mei smiled as she took a ring out of her bag, “I use this….” She the put it on the ring finger of her left hand. “This is my “escape ring”. As soon as I put it on and flash it at someone, that person gives up and disappears.”
Xiang Zhe rubbed his temple, “What a ruse!”
“All I want right now is to concentrate on my career.” Shan Mei said.
He looked up at her.
“What’s wrong?” Shan Mei asked.
Xiang Zhe’s voice was full of concern, “You…. You’re not doing this just because of that scoundrel, are you?”
Shan Mei laughed quietly, “How do you know he’s a scoundrel?”
“He hurt you. What else could he be?”

By the time the finished discussing the contract, it was already half past one. They were famished.
“Oh, I’m so hungry I can hardly stand up! Yin Xiang Zhe, your horrible contract is about to kill me,” Shan Mei exaggerated, watching Xiang Zhe.
“I suggested that we eat first, but you insisted on finishing it. Now you’re trying to lay the blame on me?” Xiang Zhe gave up.
“Come on, little lady, time to eat!”
Xiang Zhe put out his hand to help her up. Shan Mei hesitated for a moment, then stood up on her own. Xiang Zhe was a little embarrassed.

The made their way to a little shop and ordered seafood tofu hotpot and some vegetables, then scoffed them down in record time. It was almost three by the time the left.

“Alright. Thank you so much for your hospitality. I have to go now.” Shan Mei bowed slightly.
“I’ll treat you to a good meal another day.”
They were so hungry earlier, they jumped into the first food outlet they saw, not caring if it was good or not.
“Where are you heading?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“Um…” Shan Mei thought for a minute, “I’ll go shopping!..... I’m off.”

Shan Mei turned back again after taking two steps, “Let me return this.” She took out the Kevin Kern piano CD from her bag.
Xiang Zhe shook his head, “It was a gift! I have no intention of taking it back! I’ve already bought another one anyway.”
Shan Mei had no choice but to put it back in her bag.
“Goodbye then!” She waved to him, turned around and walked away.

He watched her slim figure as it retreated. Just as she disappeared around the corner, something finally occurred to him.
“Zhen Shan Mei!” he raced after her.
“What is it?” Shan Mei was startled to see him.
“Would you like to watch a movie?”
“Watch a movie?”
“I’d like to take you to a movie to…..to…repay your kindness…” Xiang Zhe scratched his head uncomfortably. It was the first time he had ever tried to ask a girl out.
Shan Mei laughed secretly at his expression, “You’ve already bought me a meal!”
Xiang Zhe hastily replied, “That doesn’t count.”

Shan Mei accepted his invitation. She had no idea why she accepted it. Perhaps it was because they had once shared a life-and-death experience and now developed a special bond between them. She couldn’t put a name to it. She unconsciously sought him out while waiting for the lift; she knew exactly how many days it was since she last saw him; she even volunteered her precious weekend to help him review his contract; and now, she accepted his invitation to watch a movie together. She had never acted this way before.

“Yin Xiang Zhe, you’re not asking me to the movies because you’re interested in me, are you?”
“I said it before, it’s only to thank you for helping me out…..Hey, why are you lawyers all so suspicious?”

Just as they got into the car, Xiang Zhe received a call. It sounded like his friends were reminding him about some basketball game they were playing. He made excuses not to go.
Shan Mei was uneasy. “You’ve got a prior appointment? You… you’d better go. Your friends are waiting for you.”
Xiang Zhe smiled, “It’s alright. They won’t miss me.”

They watched a melodramatic love story. She cried her eyes out in the cinema, and used up her whole pack of tissues. In the end, he had to lend his handkerchief to her as well. How embarrassing!

****End of Chapter 4****

 


 

My Dearest One –

Chapter 5

Written By Jennifer

Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
Translated by nho(CA)


Shan Mei jogged along the red brick sidewalk in the outer circle of the park. So long as time permitted, she would come to the park to run for a couple of rounds each morning. When she was in high school, her classmates called her rabbit, that was because she could run fast and at that time she often represented her school and participated in many inter-school race competitions. When she was in the university, she grew into the habit of taking morning jogging and did not break this habit even when she was in England. When she had just returned to Seoul and stayed at her Aunt’s place, she got lazy because there was no park or playground nearby and she often worked late in the night that she was reluctant to get up early in the morning. A while ago, she often felt fatigue and her doctor urged her to have more exercise, so last month after she moved back to her own place in Seocho, she began to take up regular jogging in the morning again.

Shan Mei looked at the back of the middle aged man in front of her and felt a little odd. This uncle moved in much slower pace than usual, it should not be that he was feeling unwell. During the past month, she often ran into him when she did her morning rounds. Although they did not exchange conversation, they would always nod to each other. This man was quite odd as when he ran he often looked around as if he was searching for someone.

While she was pondering, she saw that man staggered and fell on the ground. Shan Mei immediately ran to him.

“Uncle, are you OK?” She helped him to sit down.

That man wiped dry the perspiration and said, panting for breath, “I’m alright. I just feel a little dizzy. It may be because of the flu I have had in the past couple of days.”

“Let me go and get you a cup of hot tea. Please wait a moment …”

Shan Mei went to the convenient store situated at the park entrance and bought a cup of hot tea.

That man drank the tea and looked much better. He repeatedly thanked her.

“Don’t mention it. It was the least I could do.”

“You live nearby? You come to jog everyday, you really have the will power.”

“Isn’t it the same with you, Uncle?”

“I am no good, I just do it on and off. I can’t compare with you!”

“How could you say so, you are much better than my father. I tried until my mouth hurt and my father is too lazy even to move …”

While she was speaking, that man looked ahead searching.

“You are looking for someone?”

That man looked at Shan Mei and smilingly said: “I heard a friend of mine whom I haven’t seen for a long while is living nearby and I want to try my luck and see whether I can run into him here … but unfortunately we have never met.”

“Maybe he has moved away.” Shan Mei said.

“I’m sorry to have interrupted your exercise … I better go!”

That man stood up but faltered in his steps, so Shan Mei immediately held on to him.

“You live nearby? Can I take you home?”

“My car is parked at the parking lot, can I trouble you to accompany me there?”

When Shan Mei assisted that man to the entrance of the parking lot, a man who looked like a chauffeur came running and called out urgently: “Chairman, what’s wrong with you?”

“I’m alright.” That man shook his hand and turned around to speak to Shan Mei: “Thank you very much. I don’t even know how to address you?”

“My last name is Zhen.”

“Miss Zhen. My last name is Yin.”

“Uncle Yin, I think you better go and have a medical check up!”

That man nodded and said: “Yes, I will do that.”

The car swaggered away and Shan Mei then discovered that that man was driving an extra long Bentley.

As soon as she got into her office, she received a call from Yin Xiang Zhe.

“You were later than usual this morning?”

“How did you know?”

She was delayed in the park so she was ten minutes late in getting to the office.

“I have just called you and your colleague said you were not in yet … What happened? Did you oversleep?”

“Of course not … Is anything the matter?”

Yin Xiang Zhe invited her to have lunch with him.

Shan Mei turned to look out of the window and found the outside filled with green colours, the green river water, the green trees and the green lawn, so she readily agreed.

“OK, but I am to pick the location.” Shan Mei said.

Shan Mei arranged to meet Xiang Zhe at the entrance to the Youido Park. When Xiang Zhe arrived, Shan Mei was already waiting there.

“Am I late?” Xiang Zhe looked at his watch.

“It’s I who is early.”

Xiang Zhe saw that Shan Mei was carrying a bag full of food and asked with a frown: “Zhen Shan Mei, what have you done?”

“We are having a picnic!” Shan Mei replied with a big smile.

“You …” Xiang Zhe helplessly drew a long sigh. He originally planned to treat her to a good meal in order to thank her for her assistance that day.

“Let’s go! The weather today is pretty good, we should come out to take some fresh air!”

“Hey, why are you carrying an umbrella?” She saw he was carrying an umbrella in his hand.

“You are not in London now …” Shan Mei laughed.

It would suddenly rain in London, so many people were seen carrying umbrellas everywhere.

“It isn’t that funny” Xiang Zhe pouted his lips and said.

He should not have brought the umbrella. When he was about to go out, his secretary specially reminded him that the weather forecast that there would be showers after midday. He was in a hurry to make this date, so he just grabbed the umbrella and went. This time the way she ridiculed him made him feel very uneasy. It was the first time ever that he let a female tease him.

Seeing the irritation wearing on Xiang Zhe’s face, Shan Mei immediately stopped laughing. She did not want him to misunderstand.

“I am just thinking of those gentlemen holding a big black umbrella walking down the streets of London.”

A body wearing navy blue Armani suit and holding a big black umbrella and with his elegant and graceful appearance, he surpassed all those gentlemen on the streets of London a thousand time over.

The two of them sat down on the embankment at the waterfront. It felt so comfortable with the breeze blowing gently against your body.

“Oh!” Xiang Zhe stretched and looked very happy.

Shan Mei burst out laughing and said, “Ain’t I right? It’s so comfortable here. It’s pity that the sky is not at its bluest …”

It was just a few moment and few dark clouds had already gathered up in the sky.

“I often come to eat my lunch here.” Shan Mei said.

Xiang Zhe glanced at her and smilingly asked: “On your own?”

“Of course!” Shan Mei lifted up her ringed left hand and waved it before Xiang Zhe’s eyes.

“Aren’t you afraid that one day you will drive away someone whom you fancy?” He made fun of her.

“If I meet someone I fancy, I would be good and take off the ring …”

“I hope that day will come soon.”

“Hey, this doesn’t seem to be any business of yours?” Shan Mei pouted.

“Oh … You are right.” Xiang Zhe scratched his head.

Shan Mei suddenly narrowed her eyes and looked mischievously at Xiang Zhe.

“Now what?” Xiang Zhe asked.

Shan Mei smilingly pursed her lips: “I knew for sure that you would come and look for me.”

At first he was stunned speechless, then his mouth lifted at the corners and he ridiculed her saying “Wow, you are so confident?”

“Oh …” Shan Mei immediately blushed.

He then discovered that she actually was very shy.

“You …, aiyoo, take this!”

Shan Mei thrust a few pages of handwritten notes into Xiang Zhe’s hands. Xiang Zhe took a look and found they were the notes he had conveniently dropped down when they were discussing the contract the other day. He had been searching for them for a couple of days and thought he had misplaced them.

“So it was you who were hiding them.” He found her blushing look very adorable and could not help but teased her again.

Shan Mei gave a punch on Xiang Zhe’s arm and said with a pout: “Do you always talk to people in this manner?” When she was sorting out papers this morning, she accidentally found the notes among a pile of contracts and was about to telephone him but he called her first.

Xiang Zhe smiled but did not say a word. He did not know why he always could not help but teased her.

“Let’s eat!” Shan Mei muttered.

Shan Mei bought some kimbab, seafood soup, green salad and two boxes of fruits.

“Hey, take this.” She gave the kimbab to Xiang Zhe and ate the green salad herself.

“Wow, you really love to eat that!”

“It’s good for your complexion! … Do you want to try it?”

Not waiting for Xiang Zhe’s reply, Shan Mei took one stalk of celery, dipped it into the salad dressing and handed it to him. Xiang Zhe politely accepted and put it into his mouth.

“How it it?” She asked him.

“Pretty good.” Xiang Zhe nodded. The celery stick was crunchy and cold and tasted very refreshing.

“The kimbab from this shop is pretty good too. I have tried it once and it was quite delicious.” Shan Mei said.

“They are not as good as the one prepared by you.” Xiang Zhe replied while eating the kimbab.

Shan Mei could not stop laughing and said, “You are talking nonsense.”

Xiang Zhe seriously said: “I am speaking the truth …, Until now I can still remember what that box of kimbab tasted like … really.”

“You must have been awfully hungry that day.”

“No matter for what reason whatsoever, anyway they were the best kimbab I have eaten so far …” Xiang Zhe said with a face filled with fond memory, “Hey, you must have worshipped Xiu Wei when you were little! You even made him kimbab and braved the rain to deliver them to him …”

“Yes!” Shan Mei replied smiling happily: “I really worshipped him at that time … All my classmates admired me for having a cousin which was so tall and handsome as well as a member of the basketball team …”

“That was why when he studied law, you followed suit and did the same?” Xiang Zhe asked.

“Right, and furthermore I had to be in the same law faculty as he in the Seoul University and even went to further my studies in Cambridge …” Shan Mei glanced at Xiang Zhe, “Ain’t I very silly?”

Xiang Zhe said with envious: “I really envy Xiu Wei to have a cousin like you …”

Shan Mei shook her head and laughed: “At that time he found me too much to deal with …”

“He was just a guy who could not appreciate what was good for him.” Xiang Zhe said.

Shan Mei gurgled with laughter.

“Hey, where were you this morning?”

“What?”

“I went to your office to pay a visit to Lawyer Jiang this morning …”

“Lawyer Jiang?”

“That is your boss, Lawyer Jiang Zhan Ting.”

“What did you want to see him for?”

“It was the advice you gave me that day. I consider it a good idea and I plan to engage your firm to act as our legal advisor in dealing with contracts …”

That day she discovered that Chamsung had many overseas dealings, so she suggested that he should engage a law firm to act as their legal advisor in order to strengthen the operation and function of the legal aspect of the business.

“Hey, I didn’t say that you have to engage our firm.” Shan Mei smilingly said.

“Your Lawyer Jiang showed me around the office this morning, but I didn’t see you …”

“I went out to see a client.”

She went to her client’s office to discuss the timetable and procedure for examining documents.

“Do I have the honour of engaging you to be our company’s legal advisor?”

“Me?” Shan Mei broke into laughter when she heard this.

“What?”

“I am not the one to make decision …”

“What do you mean?”

“We have our own operation rules in the office. Usually only senior lawyer can act as a client’s legal advisor. Of course they would reassign the work to junior lawyers like me … If Lawyer Jiang accidentally assign the work to me, then I will be your company’s responsible lawyer, or else …”

Xiang Zhe interrupted Shan Mei’s speech, “Can I specifically ask for you?”

“Well …” Shan Mei shook her head in embarrassment, ‘I have joined our firm for not more than three months … It won’t look too good!”

Xiang Zhe said regrettably, “Aye, actually I want to refer more businesses to you …”

Shan Mei smilingly replied: “It’s the thought that counts. Thank you.”

“Hey, you lawyers must be very well paid? I read from the information on your firm’s synopsis that the hourly rate for a lawyer’s consulting fees starts from 120,000 won.”

Shan Mei laughingly shook her head, “It’s not as well as you imagine! That is written for clients to read. We are paid a fixed salary plus a year-end bonus depending on your performance.”

While the two of them were chatting, there came a sudden commotion of romping noises from behind. When they turned their heads to look, they found a group of senior high boy students running while playing with a basketball.

“Do you still play basketball now?” Shan Mei asked.

“Huh …” Xiang Zhe nodded, “Every Sunday afternoon, I always play basketball with friends…”

Shan Mei remembered the call he received the other day, “That day … did I keep you away from your game?”

“No.”

“I’m so sorry!” Shan Mei said apologetically.

“It was I who proposed to go for a movie. Please don’t feel bad about it … Aye, when you watch a movie, does your “floodgate always burst open” like the last time? Xiang Zhe asked with his mouth curve up.

It was the first time he witnessed someone who could weep in such a way watching a movie and it made him feel quite helpless.

“What floodgate? I was just expressing my true feeling.” Shan Mei pouted. “Next time when we meet in a cinema, you are not allowed to sit within 3 meters from me … You are hateful, how dare you make fun of me!”

“OK, OK, I am in the wrong …” Xiang Zhe stopped laughing and pointed to the righthand side, saying: “Can you see that basketball court?”

Shan Mei craned her neck and looked to the direction pointed by Xiang Zhe, that was the park’s basketball court.

“I and my friends all play our games there … Xiu Wei used to join us, but since he has his girlfriend, he seldom appears again.” Xiang Zhe said.

“Now you know he values his girlfriend more!”

“You like playing basketball?”

“Apart from tennis, I’m no good at any kind of ball games.” She lowered her head and looked at the time, “I have to go back … I have to attend a meeting later on.”

The two of them slowly went back the way from where they came.

“Commencing from next week, I will be having a hard time.” Shan Mei sighed.

“What? Busy at work?” Xiang Zhe’s face was full of concern.

“Not exactly, but I have enrolled in a course on securities and finance practices designed for people on the job in the Seoul University. I have to attend class every Monday and Friday night and all day on Saturday …”

“You are so diligent?”

“I’m now handling many cases involving different kinds of banking commodities, the rights and obligations of a trustee, the structures of the commodities and any underlying and hidden risks associated with trading of commodities. If I don’t have a clear pictures of them, I won’t feel comfortable.”

She was assigned to Jiang Zhan Ting’s team and was mainly responsible for company listing, capitalization and trust businesses which involved a lot of finance and banking commodities. She specializd in merger and acquisition when she was in school and was not quite familiar with the operation and service of banking commodities. She bought some reference books to read at home but found she could only get superficial knowledge, so she then decided to upgrade her knowledge by taking advanced courses.

“You have to watch your health! Don’t force yourself!”

He patted her shoulder.

“If you don’t mind …” Xiang Zhe cut off from what he was about to say and smiled faintly.

“What?” Shan Mei looked at him.

“If there is something you can’t make out, maybe I can be of help.”

Then she knew that he actually was graduated with a double degree in electrical engineering and business administration.

There was a sudden rumbling rolling sound of thunder from the sky and in a short moment, pea-sized raindrops poured down from the above.

“Darn!” Shan Mei frowned, it was still quite a distance away from her office! It was very rare that the weather forecast could be so accurate.

“Finally this fool of the umbrella is not brought in vain.” Xiang Zhe happily pushed open the large black umbrella in his hand.

Shan Mei glanced at Xiang Zhe in embarrassment. So he took what she said to heart.

In order not to let Shan Mei catch the rain, Xiang Zhe held the umbrella with the most part of it sheltering Shan Mei and half of his body was drenched by the rain.

“Your clothes are all wet …” Shan Mei pushed the umbrella more to Xiang Zhe’s side.

“It doesn’t matter. I have some clothes I can change into in the office.” Xiang Zhe persisted.

This was how he sheltered her all the way until they reached the office building.

“When you get up, you have to change your clothes quickly …, it’s best if you have something hot to drink in order to avoid catching a cold.” Shan Mei babbled on.

Xiang Zhe starred at Shan Mei and his eyes were full of smiles.

“What?”

“You babble too much!” Xiang Zhe laughingly said.

Shan Mei’s pretty face was instantly blushed crimson. “Goodbye!” Shan Mei dodged and got into the elevator, leaving Xiang Zhe stunned speechless outside the door.

That afternoon, the smell of his after-shave cologne still lingered in her mind.

…………………………

After a very busy week, from Monday to Friday and working overtime in the office even during the weekend until Sunday afternoon, Shan Mei finally finished perusing the first draft of the offering memorandum prepared by the agent’s lawyer.

Shan Mei carried her brief case and strolled towards Youido Park. During the past few days, she was so busy that she did not even pay attention to the colour of the sky.

The park on Sunday was so full of life, with people coming and going. She had not come here for a long time on Sundays. Shan Mei rented a bicycle and rode along the waterfront, catching the breeze. A sudden idea came to mind and she made a turn and rode toward the direction of the basketball court.

Shan Mei spotted Xiang Zhe instantly – he was skilfully and vigorously shuttling back and forth among his companion of similar age with his face looking serious and determined. He endeavoured to snatch each ball back; he did not give the slightest concession and closely guarded the movement of his opponents. He looked so handsome and in high spirit when he shot into the net and he would laugh so happily and childishly at the same time .. Was this the Yin Xiang Zhe she knew? She was a little confused, the Yin Xiang Zhe at this moment looked no different from the big boy from next door.

She spent the whole afternoon just sitting there watching him from afar. She cheered for each brilliant shoot he made and she broke out in cold sweat with the hair-raising movement he undertook. The corner of her mouth would lift following his each and every move …

When dusk arrived, he and his friends departed in the midst of shouts and cheers.

She watched his fine-looking form and remembered the scene of how he protected her from rain with his umbrella and also remembered that light fragrance from his body … A feeling of happiness spontaneously swelled up in her heart …

- End of Chapter 5 –

 


 

My Dearest One (Qin Ai De Ni) –

Chapter 6

By Jennifer

Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
Translated by Jules

Hearing footsteps behind her, Shan Mei turned around to find that it was Jin Hui Zhen.
“Auntie, you’re awake!”
“You little sprite…Why didn’t you sleep a little more? It’s only 6:30..”
Jin Hui Zhen felt a pang of sympathy when she saw that Shan Mei was busy preparing breakfast, “You already have to work and study every day. Now that you’re in my home and it’s Sunday, you should let me spoil you a little. What are you doing preparing breakfast!”
“I couldn’t help it. I just woke up automatically…” Shan Mei smiled in reply.
She ran every morning, and her internal clock was well-tuned to this.

At the table, Jin Hui Zhen looked distastefully at her son’s attire, “Are you going out again today?”
Ever since her son had a girlfriend, he was nowhere to be found on Sundays and holidays.
“Mom…!” Li Xiu Wei looked to Shan Mei for support.
Shan Mei pretended not to notice, and continued with her breakfast. Li Xiu Wei exasperatedly pulled Shan Mei’s sleeve.
Shan Mei glared at him good-naturedly, then said “Auntie, you know how busy Oppa is at work. He doesn’t have much time to spend with Ya Shu. Surely you don’t want this relationship to amount to nothing!”
Xiu Wei Oppa used to be too busy with his work to have a girlfriend. At the time Auntie would nag at him to find one; now that he found a girlfriend, Auntie was now unhappy that he seldom spent time at home. It was an impossible situation.

“What are you doing today?” Jin Huan Zhen asked her son.
“We’re going to the aquatic entertainment centre. Ya Shu’s cousin is coming too. Ya Shu wants me to introduce her to one of my friends.”
“Shan Mei should go too,” Jin Hui Zhen retorted.
“Me?”
“You can’t spend all your time buried indoors….go and take a breather. You could always spend the time painting….Did you say you love the scenery there?”
Shan Mei was tempted. The aquatic centre was set in picturesque surrounds, and a perfect setting for a painting.
“But…” Shan Mei glanced at Li Xiu Wei “would I be in the way?”. Since they had planned it as a double-date, having her around might be inappropriate.
“It’s no problem. We’re all good friends. I’m sure you would fit in.” Li Xiu Wei replied without a second thought.

Shan Mei suddenly realized what he meant when Xiu Wei pulled the car into the driveway of the building. The good friend he referred to was Yin Xiang Zhe! At that moment, she almost turned tail and ran.

“Xiang Zhe, this is my cousin Chu Xiu Li.” Chu Ya Shu introduced warmly.
“Pleased to meet you, Miss Chu! I’m Yin Xiang Zhe.”
“Just call me Xiu Li.” Chu Xiu Li replied.
“Why don’t you talk after you get into the car? We’ve got a three hour journey ahead of us.” Li Xiu Wei was anxious to get away.
“Xiang Zhe, we have another guest with us today…” Xiu Wei nodded towards the back seat.
Xiang Zhe turned around and was pleasantly surprised.
“Zhen Shan Mei!”
“Hi!” Shan Mei smiled and waved.

Li Xiu Wei drove, Chu Ya Zhu sat next to him; Chu Xiu Li sat in the second row of seats and the seat next to her was naturally allocated to Xiang Zhe; Shan Mei was relegated to the last row of seats on her own.
Xiang Zhe pointed to the empty space next to him and said to Shan Mei, “Zhen Shan Mei, there’s still lots of room over here. Would you like to move up? I think it would be a little more comfortable.”
The last row of seats tended to bump around a lot, and occupants were prone to car sickness.
“I’m all right!” Shan Mei hastily replied, waving her hand. She knew her place.

Chu Xiu Li was a lively girl and too the initiative in conversation with Xiang Zhe. She was well-traveled, and had visited a destination that Xiang Zhe also knew. They had found their topic of conversation for the day.
“Actually, summer in Provence is also good. Although it can be a little warm, the beautiful Lavender fields and sunflowers in bloom are unforgettable….since you like photography, you must not miss it.” Chu Xiu Li said.
“Is that so? In that case, I must find the time to check it out.” Xiang Zhe replied.
“I can be your guide, if you like.” Chu Xiu Li offered.
It was obvious that Chu Xiu Li was interested in Xiang Zhe, as she made sure she kept the conversation going.

Shan Mei was beginning to feel claustrophobic. She took out the paper she brought with her, but started to feel dizzy after attempting to read it while bouncing around in the back seat. She had no choice but to lean back, shut her eyes and try to get some rest and Chu Xiu Li’s voice occasionally floated to her ears.

Shan Mei felt a sense of relief when they finally arrived at the aquatic centre three hours later.

“You don’t look too well. Are you alright?” Yin Xiang Zhe came to her side and asked in a low voice. The concern in his voice lightened her mood considerably. In the car, she had felt completely forgotten.
“I’m alright. I just woke up too early this morning.”

Shan Mei gathered her equipment and bade farewell to the foursome.
“Isn’t Shan Mei coming with us?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“I came to paint” Shan Mei replied.
“Don’t forget to come back for lunch!” Li Xiu Wei instructed.
“I might not make it back in time. Please don’t wait for me.” Shan Mei waved and made her way towards the wooded area behind the centre.

Xiu Wei and company went swimming at the aquatic centre. The weather was hot and the half a dozen bottles of drink they brought with them soon ran out.
“I’ll get some more!” Xiang Zhe volunteered.

After buying the drinks, Xiang Zhe headed down the stone path winding through the pine trees behind the centre. He found Shan Mei sitting on a wall at the end of the pine forest, arms crossed gazing out to sea.

“A penny for your thoughts?” Xiang Zhe hurried to her side.
Shan Mei turned around and blushed.
His short sleeved shirt was unbuttoned, and displayed his strong chest. Shan Mei was flustered breathless at the look of it. She could feel her pulse start to race.
“What are you doing here?” Shan Mei turned away as she asked as casually as she could.
Thank goodness he hadn’t noticed her lack of composure. Shan Mei, you’re useless! she chided herself.
“I came looking for you!”
“Did Oppa send you?” She asked.
Xiang Zhe sat down beside Shan Mei, “I came of my own accord…. I wanted some time on my own to look at the sea.”
He had been unsettled when he could not see her, feeling as though something had been missing.
“On your own? But there are two people here right now!” Shan Mei smiled.
Xiang Zhe flashed his teeth at her, “I don’t mind.”
Xiang Zhe noticed her easel and canvas, which had remained untouched, “Didn’t you say you wanted to paint?”
“I was looking at the sea… it’s been a long time since I’ve done that.” Shan Mei said.
She was only telling half the truth.
Although her eyes were gazing at the sea, her thoughts had been on her reaction to what happened during their journey here.
She realized she had been jealous! Jealous of the light hearted conversation that Chu Xiu Li shared with Yin Xiang Zhe; jealous that Chu Xiu Li was spending time with Yin Xiang Zhe playing on the beach. Just what was wrong with her? Really!.... Had she fallen for him? She really should not have allowed herself to do that. She had made up her mind to devote all her effort into her career. She had no intention of falling in love! But it had all been out of her control. Recently, his image would haunt her; she often thought of his smile, his consideration, his sense of humour, his charming good looks……

Because he was Xiu Wei Oppa’s good friend, she had felt that he had been a constant in her childhood; Because he saved her without thought for his own safety, she felt like they were kindred spirits. It was precsiedly because of this, they had become friends very naturally, and she had looked upon him as her brother – close, yet not too close. She had really tried to treat him as such. It was perhaps because she was so certain that their relationship would progress no further that she had let down her guard and unwittingly ended up in this dilemma.

Xiang Zhe glanced at Shan Mei and commented, “Ah! I fell that you’re not yourself today.”
A wave of heat shot up into Shan Mei’s head as she asked, “What do you mean?”
“You’re distant and unfriendly.”
“I didn’t want to end up being a wet blanket.”
“Didn’t you already know that you would be the odd one out before you came?”
“It’s because I didn’t know….” Shan Mei bit her tongue. If she had known that it was him, she would not have come.
“Didn’t know what?” he pressed.
“I didn’t know it would be so awkward. I’m going to make sure this doesn’t happen again.” Shan Mei said.
“Don’t think that you’re a lamppost in this. Your Oppa had been hounding me to meet this cousin of Chu Ya Shu’s in order to please his wife-to be. I agreed just to stop his nagging. It was supposed to be only an introduction. That’s all.”
Xiang Zhe was anxious to clear the air. He didn’t want her to misunderstand the situation in any way.
“Mis Chu is very pretty…” she pouted, “The two of you had lots to talk about. From Provence to Rome to Santorini…”
“You heard it all? I thought you had fallen asleep.”
“The two of you were talking and laughing all the way. How could I sleep with all that noise?”
“Don’t tell me you were expecting me to rudely ignore her all that time?”
“I didn’t say that!” Shan Mei was obviously miffed, and it suddenly dawned on Xiang Zhe.
“Hey! This is not my fault! Why do I detect a sour note in your voice? Surely you’re not jealous…” Xiang Zhe deadpanned as he looked at her intently.
“What are you trying to say!” Shan Mei studiously avoided Xiang Zhe’s scrutiny, her face hot.
As he looked at her discomfort and embarrassment, a wave of happiness gushed into his heart.

They sat shoulder to shoulder, looking out to sea in silence.
“The scenery here is really beautiful!” he wanted to stay here next to her, just gazing out to sea.
“Shouldn’t you be getting back? Otherwise, somebody might end up dying of thirst.” She nodded at the drinks he was carrying.
“Come back with me?” he asked.
“No way.” Shan Mei shook her head.
“If you don’t go back, someone might think you’re throwing a tantrum.” He taunted her.
Shan Mei hesitated, “Alright, alright!” she said as she unwillingly stood up and went with Xiang Zhe.

“The two of you ended up coming back togther?” Xiu Wei asked.
Three pairs of eyes were trained on them.
“Ahhh…” Xiang Zhe was tongue tied.
“We bumped into each other on the way here…” Shan Mei helped him out, “Didn’t you say I should come over for lunch?” Shan Mei asked Xiu Wei.

After lunch, Chu Ya Shu suggested a game of beach volleyball. Li Xiu Wei and herself against Chu Xiu Li and Xiang Zhe. Shan Mei was naturally left out. Xiang Zhe looked over at Shan Mei, who winked at him in return. She then drew a lamppost in the air with her finger, indicating that she had again taken up the role.

Chu Ya Shu was pretty good, but Chu Xiu Li was pretty dismal. Xiang Zhe had to cover the court on his own. Not long after, the two ladies complained about the strong sun, and retired to the rest area to save their skins.

“Zhe Shan Mei, do you want a game?” Xiang Zhe asked as he came to her side.
From the corner of her eye, Shan Mei could see Chu Ya Shu observing them.
“No thanks. I think I should just stay here like a good girl.”
“Lazybones! Get up and get moving! Li Xiu Wei, Shan Mei wants a game. Why don’t we help her out?” Xiang Zhe hollered at Xiu Huam.
“Who asked you to get involved? Don’t look at me if you end up offending someone.” Shan Mei pouted.
Xiang Zhe ignored her.
“Just make sure you put on more sunscreen! I don’t want you to end up burnt as a crisp, then come complaining tomorrow…. While you’re at it, you’d better run a few laps down the beach to warm up, just to make sure you avoid possible injury.” He told her.
“Yes Sir!.... Yin Xiang Zhe, you’re such a nag!” Shan Mei retorted.
“Just be glad I’m willing to nag at you!” Xiang Zhe replied meaningfully.
Shan Mei was startled but pretended she did not hear, and moved away.

Shan Mei changed into shorts and t-shirt, then did a lap down the beach. On her return, the Xiang Zhe and Xiu Wei had already started to play each other. They were in full battle, acing their serves and playing all sorts of strategies.

“Here’s Shan Mei…” Li Xiu Wei returned a long volley from Xiang Zhe, “Come one, let’s see if how much you’ve progressed from your high school days. Serve one over here!” Li Xiu Wei said as he tossed the ball over to Shan Mei.
“Don’t you look down on me!” Shan Mei protested as she served the ball into the corner.
“Not bad! When did you secretly learn how to do that?” Li Xiu Wei nodded in appreciation.
“After that time when you called me an idiot. I decided to make sure I could serve properly.” Shan Mei replied casually.
“Alright then….let’s see what the rest of your game is like…” Li Xiu Wei teased Shan Mei.
Shan Mei was a little peeved. Xiu Wei had been full of praise for the ball skill of the two Miss Chu’s. Although her own skills could not match those of Chu Ya Shu, they far surpassed those of Chu Xiu Li.

Xiang Zhe watched as the competitive Shan Mei strived for every ball, covering all corners of the court, and could take no more.
“Li Xiu Wei! How can you call yourself her brother? You’re not even trying to teach her…” Xiang Zhe tried to help Shan Mei out.
Li Xiu Wei smiled broadly, “Here comes our knight in shining armour…..Horses for courses! There’s no need for me to do that. Why don’t you take over? Let me go and get myself something to drink.” Li Xiu Wei laughed as he headed for the rest area.

“Do you want to learn, or would you prefer to have a rest?” Xiang Zhe asked Shan Mei, who was puffing away.
“Teach me!” Shan Mei would not back down.

“When you’re receiving , get your centre of gravity down low…” Xiang Zhe bent his knees and stooped low, bending slightly forward in demonstration. Shan Mei stood beside him mimicking his every move.
“That’s right…That’s the way. Now relax your shoulders, chin up, eyes on the ball. You have to move your body so you face the ball….remember to keep your elbows locked and keep your arms extended from the time you are ready to receive the ball until the time it leaves your hands. That way, you’ll be able to control the ball better…”

Xiang Zhe tossed a few easy shots for Shan Mei to practice on, and soon she was getting the hang of it.
“That’s pretty good…” Xiang Zhe said, “Come on, try this one..” Xiang Zhe shot her an overhead shot. Shan Mei was not prepared for it, and the ball shot out of the court.
“That was too strong and too fast. It’s really hard to return that one!” Shan Mei said.
“The principles are still the same, on the strength of the shot is different. All you need is more practice and more experience…”

Xiang Zhe patiently practiced with Shan Mei and she gradually got the hang of handling different types of shots.
“Yin Xiang Zhe, you’re a great coach!”
“That’s because you’re a good student.”
Xiang Zhe’s heart was filled with happiness at the sight of Shan Mei’s delight.

Half an hour later, Li Xiu Wei and the two Miss Chu’s made their way back again.
“Hey, how did the special training session go?” Li Xiu Wei asked Xiang Zhe.
“Why don’t you give it a try?” Xiang Zhe bragged “Loser pays for dinner tonight.” Xiang Zhe said.
“You’re on… Ya Shu, why don’t you think about what you would like for dinner tonight? Our handsome young man over there is buying.” Li Xiu Wei was confident of victory.

Li Xiu Wei and his girlfriend played Xiang Zhe and Shan Mei.
Shan Mei’s service had always been good. With Xiang Zhe’s training, her receiving skills had vastly improved. Although she was still not as good as Chu Ya Shu, the teamwork she had forged with Xiang Zhe during their training session made them the stronger team. Shan Mei was also determined to beat Li Xiu Wei after his earlier treatment of her, so strived for every ball. In the end they beat Xiu Wei and Ya Shu. Shan Mei danced and whooped in delight.
“You, little one, have impressed me!” Li Xiu Wei said.
“Xiu Wei Oppa, I want to have a seafood feast tonight!” Shan Mei unabashedly took advantage of the situation.

It was already past 10pm by the time they returned to Seoul that night.
Xiang Zhe and Shan Mei lived in the same area, so shared a taxi home.
“Did you really have to try so hard at the match against Xiu Wei?” Xiang Zhe asked Shan Mei doubtfully.
“I HAD to win!”
Xiang Zhe looked at Shan Mei and shook his head.
“What’s the matter?” Shan Mei asked.
“I never realized you were so competitive..”
“If it’s important to me, I will always put my best effort into it.”
“Even so, you still need to take your own safety into consideration. You had me sweating the way you dived for some of those shots. What if you got hurt?”
“…”
Shan Mei looked down and remained silent for a long time.
“What’s wrong? Are you angry at me?” Xiang Zhe asked gently.
Shan Mei raised her head slowly and replied guiltily “How can I be angry? Everything you’ve said is right…” Shan Mei glanced over at the taxi driver, then said softly, “but next time, when you tell me off, could you please not raise your voice? It’s embarrassing…”

Xiang Zhe was stunned. He chided himself for being such an idiot.
“Alright. I’ll make sure I remember that.” He smiled at her.

At that moment, she thought she saw a flash of love in his eyes, and her heart skipped a beat. She had once seen the same look in the eyes of another.

Had he, like her, unwittingly taken the path towards something more than friendship? No, she must be mistaken; she still remembered his determined expression when he told her he preferred to live on his own, without any ties or commitments. That night, her thoughts were in turmoil. She decided that she needed to keep her distance from him in order to maintain that peace she finally managed to find in her own world.

*******End of Chapter 6*******


My Dearest One –

Chapter 7

Written By Jennifer

Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
Translated by nho(CA)


On Friday evening, there were many people in the pub. Xiang Zhe was sitting on a tall stool in front of the bar table, drinking. The pianist was playing The Way We Were which gave a lonely and forlorn feeling. Xiang Zhe lighted another cigarette.

“I’m so sorry. I got delayed by something in the office.” The late arriving Lee Xiu Wei apologized to Xiang Zhe.

“It doesn’t matter … What do you want to drink?” Xiang Zhe asked.

Lee Xiu Wei ordered a beer, “I can’t stay too long. I have to pick up Ya Shu from work in a few moment.”

Xu Ya Shu worked for an accountant firm and as it was the time to draw up quarterly reports, she often had to work overtime.

“It seems as though you have completely lost your freedom now …” Xiang Zhe taunted Lee Xiu Wei.

Lee Xiu Wei smiled, “One can’t be too greedy. You have to give up something in exchange for other things, or else heaven will get angry.”

“When have you become such a philosopher?” Xiang Zhe asked.

“From the moment when I fell in love.” Lee Xiu Wei replied.

Lee Xiu Wei looked at the empty glasses in front of Xiang Zhe and asked: “What wind is blowing today that you invite me out to have a drink with you?”

Xiang Zhe did not usually take the initiative to come to this kind of place and mostly it was he who asked him.

“Lonely.” Xiang Zhe said.

“What?” Lee Xiu Wei thought he had heard wrong, “You just told me that you are … lonely?”

Xiang Zhe drew in a smoke and lightly said: “Why? Can’t I feel lonely sometime?”

Xiu Wei glanced at Xiang Zhe, “It doesn’t sound like you … Haven’t you always said that work can fulfill all your needs in life?”

Xiang Zhe smiled and remained silent.

“Hey, you shouldn’t have fallen for someone?” Xiu Wei mullingly looked at Xiang Zhe.

Xiang Zhe was stunned, “Why did you say that?”

Lee Xiu Wei put down the wine glass, and said with a smile, “When I first met Ya Shu, she treated me in a lukewarm way. I was feeling exasperated and often felt very lonely for no reason at all … Then I knew, loneliness could be another form of longing.”

“Really?” Xiang Zhe extinguished the cigarette in his hand.

“You have fallen for someone, right?”

“It seems so …” Xiang Zhe’s mouth unconsciously lifted at the corner. He could never hide anything from Xiu Wei.

“Is it … Xu Xiu Li?” Lee Xiu Wei asked.

Xiang Zhe shook his head.

“What a pity …” Lee Xiu Wei looked regretful.

“Have you bared your heart to her?” Lee Xiu Wei asked.

Xiang Zhe shook his head, “No, I’m afraid I will scare her away … and we can’t stay as friends afterwards. That’s not what I wish to happen.”

“Hmm, it looks as though you really love her and care about her very much …”

After leaving the pub, Xiang Zhe once again arrived before that white house. It was his second visit here this week. There was light in the house, was she still working?

Since returning from Chuam, he had not met up with her for three whole weeks. He fervently hoped that he could bump into her in the elevator as before. He even deliberately picked the time she usually came in the morning to wait up for her, or simply wasted his time loitering in the lobby, delaying, just hoping to get a glimpse of her, but every time he was disappointed.

He phoned her a few times and every time she would say she was busy and hung up after just a few words. He did not know whether he was oversensitive, but he felt that she was trying to avoid him. This made him feel uneasy. He did not dare to phone her again and spent his days with longing in his heart.

How he wished that, as before, when they bumped into each other in the elevators that she would greet him with a radiant smile saying: “So we meet again? What a coincidence!”

It was Saturday, a bright and crisp autumn day. After she finished her class, she hurried towards University Avenue. Today was Auntie’s birthday. She had ordered a crystal vase as Auntie’s birthday present. She arranged with the shop owner to pick it up at 5:30 p.m. and then she hurried home to help. Xiu Wei Oppa wanted to arrange a BBQ in the yard.

When she arrived home, Lee Xiu Wei was setting up the BBQ grill in the backyard.

“You go and help Mom!” Lee Xiu Wei said.

Shan Mei changed into casual wear and came to the kitchen, finding Jin Huan Chen washing vegetables in the sink.

Shan Mei cried out loudly: “Birthday girl, what are you doing here?”

Shan Mei pulled away Jin Huan Chen, pushed up her sleeves, put on the apron and washed the green pepper and horseradish under the running water from the faucet.

“Where is Uncle?”

“He has gone to get the wine … He said we can only enjoy to our heart’s content if we have wine tonight.”

“Auntie, have you soaked the corns in salt water?”

“I have done that …” Jin Huan Chen shook her head and said: “Aye, you people having studied abroad, just love to do things this way. It is so much trouble, why can’t we just have Korean bulgogi inside?”

Shan Mei laughed happily, “Occasionally we have to try different things! Today is the 15th day of the lunar calendar and the moon is so big and round. Isn’t it great just to enjoy looking at the moon in the yard? … Don’t worry, I will clean up everything and put them in order afterwards.”

The door bell rang.

“It must be Uncle. Let me go and open the door …”

Jin Huan Chen was talking on the phone with friends.

When Shan Mei saw the person outside the door, she was startled.

“Why are you here?” Shan Mei stared at him dumbfounded.

“Auntie phoned me and told me it was her birthday. She insisted that I must come over …” Xiang Zhe smilingly said, “Why? I am not welcomed?”

Jin Huan Chen phoned him the day before yesterday. He thought he could see her, so he agreed readily.

“It’s not that! I’m … just a little surprise.” Shan Mei explained. Her feeling was complicated.

“Xiang Zhe, you are here …”

Jin Huan Chen was happy to see Xiang Zhe. She looked at Xiang Zhe up and down, “Haven’t seen you for a few years and you are getting more handsome … Ha ha ..”

When they were in senior high, Xiang Zhe often followed Xiu Wei home to play.

“Auntie …” Xiang Zhe grinned and his face revealed a look of embarrassment.

Shan Mei’s mouth curved; she never thought that this grown man could be so shy.

“Auntie is still as pretty as before.”

“Wow, you have changed, you can sweet talk now …” Jin Huan Chen grinned from ear to ear, “If Xiu Wei hasn’t mentioned it to me, I still won’t know your company is one of my big client!”

That day Xiu Wei accidentally mentioned about Shan Mei delivering flowers to Chamsung and about acquaintance with Xiang Zhe.

“Of course I have to take care of Auntie’s business.”

Lee Xiu Wei set up two grills in the yard, with he and Shan Mei each taking charge of one and Xu Ya Shu helped Lee Xiu Wei on one side.

Jin Huan Chen’s husband Lee Hsien Feng drew Xiang Zhe to one side and discussed with him the booms of the electronic industry. Lee Hsien Feng was working for one of the distributors of electronic products.

What Xiu Wei bought were wood charcoals and Shan Mei had never tried them before. She was sweating all over and still could not build up a fire. Seeing that Xiu Wei had his stove of coals burning bright and red, she was becoming more exasperated.

“Hey girl, haven’t you taken a girl guide medal? How come you can’t even light up a fire?” Xiu Wei taunted Shan Mei.

“I have only ever used chemical charcoal before!” Shan Mei tried hard to fan up the fire, and the coal ashes fluttered on her face.

“After I’m done on this side, I will go and give you a hand.” Lee Xiu Wei said.

“Here I am!” Xiang Zhe said.

Seeing help was here, Shan Mei immediately beamed with joy, “Let me fan the fire …” Shan Mei said.

Xiang Zhe looked at Shan Mei who was covering with perspiration and smilingly said: “You better take a rest! We need you to broil the meat later on!”

“How can I abandon you to do all the hard work? It is either justifiable or excusable this way.”

Xiang Zhe could not help breaking into laughter, “I have forgotten you are a female messenger of justice …”

Shan Mei looked at how Xiang Zhe lighted up the fire.

Xiang Zhe picked a few block of wood from the pile which Shan Mei had put together and put them into the stove again. Xiang Zhe said: “You have to pick the branch of the wood and not the whole stem. This way it can light up easier …”

“Oh …” Shan Mei nodded with sudden enlightenment.

Xiang Zhe then took a bag of five match lights and put them all into the pile of the charcoal and ignited them. He picked up a fan and fanned the flame with Shan Mei. Just a few moment passed before the charcoals were burning hot and read.

“Ya! Ya!” Shan Mei cheered with excitement.

“Crazy girl, behave just like a child!”

“It should be about done …” Xiang Zhe said.

“Wait until the charcoals are burned to a transparent red colour, then spread them out evenly before we can start broiling. If we start to broil the meat before the surface of the charcoal is thoroughly burned, it would easily smear the meat and blacken them …”

“Pretty good!” Xiang Zhe praised Shan Mei.

“You shouldn’t have deliberately tried to test my knowledge?”

Xiang Zhe smiled but did not respond.

Shan Mei worked hard to fan the frame and the charcoals were soon burned to a transparent colour.

“I haven’t bumped into you for a long time. Are you very busy lately?” He asked her.

“Huh … Very busy, busy at work and busy attending classes.” Shan Mei replied with her eyes averted.

She went to work earlier than usual. She deliberately tried to avoid seeing him.

Two days after they returned from Chuam Beach, she went out for lunch and saw him in the lobby. She found that her determination was as frail as a flimsy paper. She wanted to walk up and greeted him, but discovered that Xu Xiu Li was standing beside him, so she drew back. She stood there and watched their departing backs and there was a feeling of loss in her heart.

“The day before yesterday, I phoned you but you were not there …”

She glanced at him, “You want me for something?”

“I wanted to ask you to come up to have lunch with me …” Xiang Zhe paused, “In the park, the ginko trees have changed their colour and looking out from my office window was a sea of golden colour, it’s so beautiful. I thought you might be interested? …”

Xiang Zhe’s question contained a hint of invitation, but he did not get the anticipated response. Shan Mei just responded briefly “Oh!” and the atmosphere became quite awkward.

“We can start the broiling now …” Xiang Zhe broke the awkwardness, “Let’s grill the meat first …” Xiang Zhe said.

“Let me do it … First rub some vinegar on the net, so it won’t easily get burned.” Shan Mei said.

She took charge of grilling the meat and he would from time to time spray with the water gun to low the temperature and control the timing in cooking. The two of them worked in harmony.

“Xiu Wei, Shan Mei’s grilling technique is better than yours!” Jin Huan Chen told Lee Xiu Wei.

“Really? Let me try some …” Lee Xiu Wei picked up a piece of meat with his fork and put it into his mouth.

“Huh, yummy, the tenderness is just right.” Lee Xiu Wei praised incessantly, “Pretty good, Shan Mei …”

“It’s all thanks to your good friend’s help!”

“Auntie, please try this tilapia slice … Wait a second …” Shan Mei sprinkled some pepper on the fish, “Yin Xiang Zhe said it tastes much better with some pepper …” Shan Mei said.

“Is it good? Auntie?”

“Hmm … yummy, very good.” Jin Huan Chen nodded repeatedly.

“Xiang Zhe is really a good boy … ambitious, thoughtful and can do housework which is rare …” Jin Huan Chen looked at Xiang Zhe’s back and said.

Yes, he was really a very awesome guy.

“Xiu Wei, you fool!” Jin Huan Chen suddenly began to grumble about her son.

“Auntie, what’s wrong?” Shan Mei was startled.

“Xiang Zhe is such an eligible bachelor and he doesn’t save it for the family but unexpectedly matchmake for someone instead …” Jin Huan Chen complained.

“What?” Shan Mei could not make head or tail of what she meant.

Jin Huan Chen glanced at Shan Mei, “If Xiang Zhe were to become my nephew-in-law, I would laugh even in my sleep!”

“….”

Shan Mei instantly blushed red, “Auntie …”

“What? You don’t like him?”

“Auntie …” Shan Mei did not know how to reply.

“I watched the two of you from behind just now and feel that you two look very well matched …” Jin Huan Chen looked self-gratified.

“You just take a look at him and you are bowed over?”

“I didn’t just take a look. When Xiang Zhe was in high school he often came over here to play.”

“If you like him so much, I will find a way of winning him over!” Shan Mei jokingly said.

“Those are words from your own mouth.” Jin Huan Chen beamingly looked at her niece.

“Yes.” Shan Mei nodded.

“Good, you will have Auntie’s absolute support! … Don’t worry, Auntie will help you.” Jin Huan Chen said as if in real earnest.

Shan Mei rolled with laughter, “Auntie, that is enough! …”

“It’s not enough, it’s just the beginning!” Jin Huan Chen said.

“It’s strange. Usually when you watch television, don’t you hate those characters who take away other people’s love by force?”

“Circumstances have changed.”

Both auntie and niece fell into a heap of laughter and drew others’ attention on them.

“Ma, what’s so funny that makes the two of you laugh in this way?” Lee Xiu Wei asked his mother.

Jin Huan Chen looked at Xiang Zhe and said with a big grin: “I was saying …”

“Auntie …” Shan Mei hurriedly covered Jin Huan Chen’s mouth with her hand. She was really afraid that Auntie would say something frightful.

When the cake was cut, Xiang Zhe took out the present and gave it to Jin Huan Chen. Jin Huan Chen opened the gift and immediately laughed. She took a look at Shan Mei and grinned at Xiang Zhe: “You ought not have arranged it with Shan Mei?”

“Oh!” Xiang Zhe was dumbfounded and looked at Jin Huan Chen not knowing what she meant.

“Shan Mei also gave me a vase …” Jin Huan Chen said.

“Such a coincidence …” Xiang Zhe scratched his head and laughed with embarrassment, “I think as Auntie loves flowers, I just bought you a vase …”

“The two of you are quite in accord …” Jin Huan Chen winked at Shan Mei when the others were not paying attention.

Xiang Zhe drove Shan Mei home.

“I’m so sorry to trouble you to take me home.” Shan Mei said apologetically.

Aye, Auntie was really too much. She had the audacity to order Xiang Zhe to take her home. She originally planned to stay overnight at Auntie’s place and to her surprise, Auntie packed up everything which she brought over and forcefully kicked her home. Auntie was really a woman of action, she spoke and acted immediately and she “helped” her at the first opportunity.

Xiang Zhe took a look at Shan Mei and said with a smile: “Why do you sound so distant? It isn’t the first time I take you home.”

Shan Mei smiled and pondered: how many times had she been travelled in the same car with him? When they met in the park that day, he took her to the metro station; on her birthday, he took her home on Lee Xiu Wei’s request; the day when they went to the cinema, he took her home; the day when they came back from Chuam Beach, it was also he who accompanied her home; today was another time he took her home.

“Maybe Auntie is too accustomed to be the boss giving orders and treat you like one of her employees …”

“It shouldn’t be the case. Auntie is a nice person. When I was still in school she took good care of me and that time I just loved to eat the kimji pancake she prepared.”

“Really?” Shan Mei gurgled with laughter, “I love Auntie’s kimji pancake too …” Shan Mei said.

“We really have similar taste … One day when your Auntie make kimji pancakes again, you have to save some for me and satisfy my greed …”

“You don’t look like you are a glutton for food.”

“I too could never imagine how serious and proper you look in your office when you deal and negotiate with your clients …”

She and he looked at each other and laughed.

Shan Mei asked Xiang Zhe to wind down the windows in order to disperse the smell from their bodies. The car was filled with the BBQ odour from the clothes they were wearing.

“You … how are you and Miss Xu Xiu Li getting on?” She asked him nonchalantly.

“Me and she?” He swiftly took a look at her, “There is nothing between us …”

“I saw the two of you in the lobby the other day …”

“When?”

“About two weeks’ ago!”

“Oh … That day she came to my office suddenly and as it was around lunch time so I just treated her to a meal …”

Shan Mei was feeling embarrassed and regretted for asking him that question. She really did not have any grounds to enquire about his private affair.

“When you saw me, why didn’t you call me?”

“I did not want to intrude.”

“There is really nothing between us.” Xiang Zhe solemnly repeated again and his expression was really frightening.

A gust of wind whistled into the car and Shan Mei suddenly sneezed. Xiang Zhe immediately wound up the window.

“Thank you.”

“Want to listen to some music?” Xiang Zhe asked.

“Good!”

Xiang Zhe changed to the music channel, “This channel is playing some lyrical songs.”

A low and magnetic male voice was floating in their ears

Perhaps love is like a window
Perhaps an open door
It invites you to come closer
It wants to show you more
And even if you lose yourself
And don’t know what to do
The memory of love will see you through


It was John Denver’s Perhaps Love.

“I haven’t listened to this song for a long time.” Shan Mei said.

He turned his head to look at her, as if he had something to say.

“What’s up?”

Xiang Zhe smilingly shook his head.

Oh, love to some is like a cloud
To some as strong as steel
For some a way of living
For some a way to feel
And some say love is holding on
And some say letting go
And some say love is everything
And some say they don’t know

Perhaps love is like the ocean
Full of conflict, full of pain
Like a fire when it’s cold outside
Or thunder when it rains
If I should live forever And all my dreams come true
My memories of love will be of you/

The car arrived at Shan Mei’s door.

“Thank you for driving me home.”

“Can you wait a while before you get in?” Xiang Zhe asked.

“Anything the matter?”

Xiang Zhe nodded.

She waited, but he remained silent and just stared ahead of him with his fingers alternatively tapping on the steering wheel. A moment later, it seemed as though he had made an enormous resolution and finally opened his mouth to speak.

“Tell me, what it is feel like to love someone?”

Shan Mei was startled, “Why do you ask me this?”

“Tell me …” He looked at her.

Shan Mei’s mouth wore a bitter smile, “That is a kind of complex emotion, one moment you can feel very happy but the next moment you can be very sad. You can easily become jealous but you can also compromise easily; he is constantly on your mind at every moment of the day and you can’t let go even if you want to …”

“No matter where you are, no matter how far you are away from home, you always think of what she is doing at this moment in time …, when you have her in your mind, you just hope she can immediately appear before you …” Xiang Zhe continued on and murmured.

She stared blankly at him, “You …, you have fallen for someone, have you?” She asked him.

“Yes, I have fallen for someone.”

She noticed that the corners of his lips lifted upwards.

“That … is really wonderful!” She was aware that she was not speaking honestly herself.

“I think I am in love with her.”

She could feel the joy in his words.

“It’s really wonderful …” She lowered her head, trying to hide her rigid smile.

Xiang Zhe’s eyes revealed his innermost feeling from the heart, but it was a pity that Shan Mei did not see it.

Kuku! Kuku! The clock in the car struck the hour.

Shan Mei pushed open the car door, “My father will be calling me at 11:00 p.m. … I have to go in …”

“Zhen Shan Mei …” He wanted you to stay behind.

“Thank you for driving me home …”

Shan Mei hurriedly got off the car, “Please be careful on the road.” She hastily nodded to him and walked rapidly towards the house.

Xiang Zhe looked at Shan Mei’s departing back and felt very frustrated.

Aye, why couldn’t he have the courage to bare his soul to her? Where had his usual courage and determination gone? He was afraid that she would reject him in the same way she had done to the others ...

He thought of how she looked when she left and his heart abruptly sank to the bottom, God, she should not have thought that he had fallen for someone else …. He certainly must look for the soonest opportunity to let her know what was in his heart.

- End of Chapter 7


My Dearest One –

Chapter 8

Written By Jennifer

Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
Translated by nho(CA)



After class was dismissed, Shan Mei stayed behind in the classroom to sort out her notes before she left. As soon as she stepped out from the school door, she heard someone calling her from behind. Shan Mei involuntarily wrinkled her brows, it was Zhao Han Cheng! He was in the same class as she was and he was working as a financial manger in a construction company.

Zhao Han Cheng caught up with Shan Mei and said: “Where are you going? Let me give you a lift!”

“There is no need. I can take the metro ahead. It is very convenient.”

Shan Mei tactfully declined Zhao Han Cheng’s offer. Today she deliberately tried to delay her departure and never thought that he would still be waiting for her. This was already the third time he offered to give her a lift.

“Please don’t be always so cool and aloof! Zhen Shan Mei …” Zhao Han Cheng blocked the way in front of Shan Mei.

“You …” Shan Mei was a little bit angry, but she was still wearing a smile on her face, because they were in the same class and she did not want to make the situation too awkward.

“Zhen Shan Mei!”

A familiar voice drifted into Shan Mei’s ears. She shook her head, she thought she must have imagined it wrong.

“Zhen Shan Mei!” That voice sounded again and this time it was more near and clear.

She turned around to look, it was really him!

“I’m sorry I’m late!” Xiang Zhe loudly said.

Shan Mei was stunned and suddenly realized that Xiang Zhe wanted to save her from an embarrassed situation.

“It doesn’t matter, I have just finished class.” Shan Mei played act with Xiang Zhe in good tacit understanding.

Zhao Han Cheng drove away in dejection.

“Thank you.” Shan Mei extended her thanks to Xiang Zhe. “When did you come back?” She dimpled in smiles.

The day after the BBQ at Auntie’s place, she received an email from him, saying that he was going on a business trip to Southeast Asia and Australia for one week. She was both astonished and pleasantly surprised. They did not have a kind of relationship between them that required them to let each other know their schedules, and not to say that it was only for one week and it was not as if he was never coming back … He treated her as a very important friend. When she thought of this, Shan Mei was feeling comfort in her heart. As he had found someone he loved, she should be happy for him … That was what good friends were for! With this thought in mind, her heart immediately began to brighten up.

“I came back this afternoon.” Xiang Zhe said.

He specially came over to wait for her. He had something to say to her.

“Why are you here? Are you looking for a friend?”

“If I tell you that I specially make this trip to see you, would you believe me?” Xiang Zhe smilingly said.

“Should I believe you?” Shan Mei pouted. He always tried to make fun of her.

“Does my credit worth that little?”

“You tell me?” Shan Mei made a face at Xiang Zhe, “Do you always make sudden appearances this way?” Shan Mei pursed her lips and asked.

His appearance reminded her of the mighty mouse in the cartoon films in her childhood days which always descended from heaven in time of danger

“Sudden appearances? What do you mean?”

“Just like what happened in the park …”

“You mean the hero saving the damsel in distress?” Xiang Zhe grinned.

“Yes, Mr. Mighty Mouse.” Shan Mei mischievously said.

Mighty Mouse? Xiang Zhe could not help roaring with laughter.

“This time it was more easy and relaxing than the last time …” Xiang Zhe said.

Shan Mei got into Xiang Zhe’s car.

“You turned a cold shoulder on your suitor again?” Xiang Zhe happily asked. He felt very happy to see her rejecting that young fellow just now. She had never turned him down, not even once.

“Haven’t you witnessed the whole incident …”

He looked at her ring finger and asked in surprise: “Hey, what happens to your amulet ring?”

Her ring finger was not wearing a ring.

“I’ve dropped it.”

“Dropped it?”

“I took it on and off and don’t know when I dropped it …”

“How can you be so careless!”

“It doesn’t matter …” Shan Mei said carelessly: “I bought it at Itaewon and it was very cheap.”

Xiang Zhe looked at his watch and asked: “Are you in a hurry to get home?”

Shan Mei shook her head, “It’s OK, why did you ask?”

Xiang Zhe happily said: “Let’s go shopping!”

“Shopping?”

“Right, shopping …” Xiang Zhe pointed to something at the back compartment, saying: “Hey, it’s for you …”

“A present for me?”

“Huh.”

Shan Mei opened up and looked. It was a Snoopy doll wearing a blue knitted hat riding a green sledge and she immediately burst out laughing, “How come you thought of buying me this?”

“When I was at your Auntie’s place last time, I saw you reading the Snoopy’s 50th Anniversary special anthology and I guess you must love this … I hope I didn’t guess wrong.”

“Do you have a habit of observing people?”

Xiang Zhe just smiled and did not say a word. She was the only one who could attract his attention!

He took her to Itaewon. It was past 9:00 p.m. and there were still many people shopping around.

“Do you know where are those shops that sell ornaments for girls?”

“Why?”

Did he want to buy something for someone?

“I’m going to take you to buy another ring!”

“What?” When Shan Mei heard this, she was dumbfounded.

“You let others worry too much …, so we better hurry up and get you another ring …”

Shan Mei looked at Xiang Zhe, not knowing whether to laugh or cry, “Haven’t you told me before that I was deliberately creating trouble?”

“Really?” Xiang Zhe looked embarrassed.


They went to a shop which specialized in selling ornaments.

“Sir, please get one of these rings for this lady! They are all in the latest fashion …”

The shop owner greeted them enthusiastically with a loud singing voice.

As soon as she saw the large variety of beautiful rings, Shan Mei’s attention was immediately attracted.

“How about this one?” She picked up a ring inset with an artificial diamond and asked Xiang Zhe, “To get one with a diamond would be more convincing …”

On hearing this, Xiang Zhe could not help laughing, “Where do you get all these clever ideas?”

“Let’s take this then! Hi boss, how much is this?”

“30,000 won.”

“Isn’t it too expensive? I often come here to shop. Please give us a discount! How about 24,000?”

Shan Mei requested the shop owner to reduce the price and bargained back and forth with him for a long time before they finally settled the price at 26,000 won.

Xiang Zhe snatched the bill and paid for it. Shan Mei took out the money to repay Xiang Zhe but Xiang Zhe absolutely refused to take the money.

“Aiyoo, you shouldn’t do that!” Shan Mei grumbled.

“It’s just something small, please don’t push the money back and forth.”

“Then I have to say thank you.”

She thought that she would treat him to a meal some day in order to thank you.

“You are doing the right thing!” Xiang Zhe said.

Xiang Zhe was secretly feeling very happy. Shan Mei was using the ring he bought as an amulet … When he thought of this, Xiang Zhe’s mouth was wearing a very happy smile.

“I’m starving. Let’s go to have something to eat!” Shan Mei said.

They went to a roadside tent booth in one of the alleys. Shan Mei ordered thick beef soup. She said she was in such a hurry to attend class that she missed her dinner.

“How could you do that! Be careful you would cause damage to your intestinal system …” Xiang Zhe chastened her.

“Don’t worry, I am in good health.” Shan Mei was nonchalant.

“Do you still go for your morning run?” Xiang Zhe asked.

“I haven’t done it for a while …” Shan Mei looked remorseful. “I have too many cases to deal with recently as well as having to attend classes. After I get home I often have to stay up late to work and cannot possibly get up early in the morning.”

“No wonder you are not looking too well.”

“Really?” Shan Mei touched her face.

“Why don’t you come to the park on Sunday and I will teach you to play basketball …”

“You teach me to play basketball?” Shan Mei could not help breaking into laughter, “It won’t do …”

“What, you don’t think I’m qualified?”

“No, I … may be busy.” Shan Mei revealed a look of embarrassment on her face.

“What for? Don’t tell me you are interviewing your prospective bridegroom?” Xiang Zhe casually joked.

Shan Mei stared open her eyes in surprise, “How … do you know?”

Xiang Zhe’s facial expression changed slightly, “I … just said it casually. Why … why do you think of going for such interview all of a sudden?” He looked at her and felt apprehensive.

Wasn’t she happily buying the amulet ring just a few moment ago?

Shan Mei smiled, “No, it’s not like this … Do you remember me telling you about an uncle I met in the park when I was doing the morning run?”

“What you mean … is it the old gentleman that nearly fainted in the park last time?”

After that incident, Shan Mei and that old gentleman became friends despite their age difference.

“Huh!” Shan Mei nodded, “He said he wanted to introduce his son to me … He called me the day before and asked whether I was available this Sunday afternoon to meet with his son.”

“And you agreed?”

Xiang Zhe was aware of the anxiety in his voice.

“No yet …” Shan Mei shook her head, “He mentioned it a few times and every time I told him that I was busy. Aye, I don’t know how to refuse him. I feel so embarrassed …”

Xiang Zhe was assured a little bit.

“What is their family business?”

“I didn’t ask …”

“What? …” Xiang Zhe said agitatedly and desperately: “Heaven, you don’t even get the facts right and run to meet with his son! Aren’t you afraid that you will be set up?”

Shan Mei glared at Xiang Zhe, “Hey, why are you so fierce? Normally we just make idle conversations and I never plan to become his daughter-in-law, so why should I inquire so much about their background? … I only know that his son works for their own company … Hey, tell me … do you think I should go?” She asked him.

Xiang Zhe lowered his head drinking beer and did not answer.

“Yin Xiang Zhe, … I am asking you a question!”

“You can go! … It won’t hurt to get to know more people.” Xiang Zhe did not speak honestly and he was feeling on edge.

Shan Mei could see the displeasure on Xiang Zhe’s face and she thought he must be unhappy about her not being able to go to the park to play ball with him on Sunday afternoon.

“You can ask the girl you like to keep you company.”

“Which girl?” Xiang Zhe asked dispiritedly.

“Last time you told me you have fallen for a girl?” Shan Mei said quietly.

“I …”

Xiang Zhe raised his eyes to look at Shan Mei and secretly sighed. Heaven, she really got the wrong idea.

“I think it’s unrequited love!” Xiang Zhe said.

“Unrequited love?” Shan Mei opened her mouth and was stunned.

“She … Has she rejected you?”

Xiang Zhe shook his head.

“Then why?”

“I still have not revealed my heart to her …”

“Why don’t you tell? If you don’t let her know your feeling, how can she know?”

“I … I’m afraid I will be rejected …” Xiang Zhe said in embarrassment.

“What! …” It seemed as though Shan Mei had discovered something new, she covered her mouth and smiled.

“What are you laughing at?”

“So you have something you are afraid of?” She ridiculed him.

“Now you know my weakness …” Xiang Zhe scratched his head.

“I think you should tell her. Maybe … she is waiting for you to reveal your heart.”

Xiang Zhe looked at her face of earnest enthusiasm and found it both funny and frustrated. With Shan Mei’s look of non-involvement, he could not imagine what her response would be if he bared his soul to her. Aye, she looked so smart normally, how could she suddenly become so dim-witted.

“She is very bright, I think … she will understand my mind.” Xiang Zhe twitched the corner of his mouth and said. Next time he would look for another opportunity again, he thought.

She looked at the brilliance in his eyes and suddenly felt electrified. Her heart was palpitating with excitement.

On Sunday afternoon, Xiang Zhe was playing basketball with friends in the basketball court.

He whirled and jumped shot, but the ball was spinning on the top of the net frame and bounced out again.

“Hey, what is happening to you? Why do you keep on missing your shots today?”

His team mate, Han Guo Qiang teased him. Their scores were way behind their opponents. It looked as though he had to pay for the dinner tonight.

“Sorry.” Xiang Zhe said.

Since early this morning, he had been feeling restless. His mind kept thinking of Shan Mei’s meeting with that man this afternoon. He was playing out of tune in this basketball game, not only had he let his opponents snatch the ball from him several times, even the jump shot he excelled at lost its accuracy. Aye, what was he doing? Yin Xiang Zhe, you were an imbecile. In his heart, he clearly did not want her to keep that appointment, yet he had to pretend to be a gentleman and encouraged her to go. Now he was feeling fidgety and deeply regretted his action. What if that fellow was very outstanding and Shan Mei had a good impression of him, then what was he going to do? Aye, he should have bared his heart to her regardless of all consequences.

With his mind not in the game, the ball was nearly snatched away from his hand once again. Xiang Zhe hurriedly focussed his attention on the game.

The game was breaking up for the first period. Everybody was resting under the basket frame. Jin Wen Jie who was watching the game on the sideline came over to Xiang Zhe’s side.

Jin Wen Jie patted Xiang Zhe’s shoulder and signalled with lips, pointing to the direction ahead, and said: “Xiang Zhe, is that girl your friend?”

“No.” Xiang Zhe did not even raise his head, he was drinking water with his head lowered.

“She has been sitting there for nearly half an hour. I saw her staring at you all the time!”

“You fellow, are you here to watch the game or to look at girls?” Xiang Zhe ridiculed Jin Wen Jie. Wen Jie would fix his eyes on any female he found attractive.

“Aye, please take a look! She is very pretty!” Jin Wen Jie said.

Aye, this fellow was really annoying, Xiang Zhe silently muttered.

“Where?” Xiang Zhe asked.

“In the direction of ten o’clock under the big tree …”

Xiang Zhe looked to the direction pointed by Jin Wen Jie …

When he saw that graceful figure, his heart was wild with joy, it was Shan Mei! It was Shan Mei who was sitting there!

The sound of the whistle announced that the second half of the match was about to start.

“Wen Jie, can you fill in for me?”

Not waiting for Wen Jie’s reply, Xiang Zhe ran to the direction ahead without turning his head to look.

“Hey, Xiang Zhe!”

Xiang Zhe flew to the front of Shan Mei and flashed his smile at her.

Shan Mei’s face flushed red by the way Xiang Zhe was looking at her.

She originally wanted to go over to say hello to him, but seeing the large crowd of friends by his side, she felt embarrassed.

“What are you doing?” Shan Mei stamped her feet.

“Why are you here? Didn’t you tell me that you are meeting someone?” Xiang Zhe could not stop the joy in his heart.

Shan Mei said with two blushing cheeks: “Someone told me he wants to teach me how to play basketball. Why, I’m not welcomed?”

As soon as she reached home last night, she immediately phoned Uncle Yin to cancel the appointment today. Shan Mei could not forget the unhappy expression on Xiangg Zhe’s face.

“Of course you are welcomed. To see you is better than anything else.” Xiang Zhe said.

Shan Mei brushed back the hair that had been blown in wild disorder and puckered in smile.

“Your skill in basketball does not seem to be that good!”

Shan Mei deliberately made fun of Xiang Zhe. Xiang Zhe’s performance today when compared with what she saw in the park that time was completely unrecognizable.
“Well …” Xiang Zhe scratched his head in embarrassment, “I didn’t sleep well last night and I am a little low-spirited …”

“Really?¨ Shan Mei smiled mischievously, “It looks like it’s a mistake to come here today …”

“Who said so? You came at the right moment. I am about to prove my skill.”

Shan Mei could not help burst out laughing when she heard this.

Shan Mei pointed to the direction of the basketball court, “Yin Xiang Zhe, don’t you think it’s time you go back? It looks like they are waiting for you.”

Xiang Zhe turned his head to look and discovered that the ten people on the court were all looking at his and Shan Mei’s direction.

These fellows, they really had the nerve!

“Xiang Zhe, bring your friend over to introduce us.” Someone loudly called out.

“Do you want to come over?” Xiang Zhe asked.

“No!” Shan Mei was getting shy, “Go back quickly!” Shan Mei said.

“They are all my buddies and Xiu Wei also knows some of them. Don’t worry! I won’t let them bully you.” He really wanted to introduce her to his friends.

When they were still talking, ten of the big male laughingly and jokingly arrived at their sides. Xiang Zhe introduced each of his friends to Shan Mei. As a matter of fact, they were all his buddies from his university days.

Shan Mei stayed where she was to watch Xiang Zhe and they play the game.

“Please wait here for me. You are not to leave first!” Xiang Zhe repeatedly urged.

In the evening, Xiang Zhe’s friends insisted Shan Mei to have dinner with them. Shan Mei could not get away and had to go with the group. Perhaps Xiang Zhe had spoken to everyone beforehand, they were very polite to Shan Mei and did not casually crack jokes with her. However due to his abnormal performance this afternoon, his friends sponged him for a dinner treat. Under the persuasion of his friends, Xiang Zhe went up to the stage to masterly play Boysone’s “No Matter What” and everyone sang and dance to the music. Shan Mei did not understand why they were so excited.

“This is our team song.” Xiang Zhe’s friend explained to Shan Mei.

“You really have unhidden talent.” Shan Mei said reverently.

She was startled by his consummate piano skill.

“What?”

“It’s the piano.”

“It’s nothing. I was compelled to learn to play by my mom when I was little.” Xiang Zhe smilingly said.

“When my teacher started to teach me to play the chords, I just made my escape.” Shan Mei said shamefacedly.

The party played until nearly 10:00 p.m. before they broke up. It was already 10:30 p.m. when he took her home.

“Are you tired?” He asked her.

“I’m OK.”

“My friends can act like crazy when they play. I hope they have not shocked you.”

“They are so amusingly! I have enjoyed myself very much.”

“Thank you for today.” Xiang Zhe said.

“Why are you thanking me?” Shan Mei looked at Xiang Zhe.

“Thank you for coming to the basketball court. It made me so happy” He looked at her straightly.

Shan Mei’s face blushed, “I have to get in.”

“Please wait a minute ..” Xiang Zhe stopped Shan Mei. He had made up his mind.

“What?”

“Can you let me jump the queue?” Xiang Zhe asked.

“What?” Shan Mei looked at Xiang Zhe. She did not understand what he meant.

“I don’t want to stand in the long queue. I want to stand behind you and hope when you turn around, you can see only me.”

Xiang Zhe’s candid confession shocked Shan Mei. Her mind was completely not prepared.

“Shan Mei, I love you.”

Shan Mei stood where she was and looked at him dumbfounded.

Did he tell her he loved her? Had she heard it wrong?

“I love you … I have buried these words in my heart for a long time.”

His magnetic voice reverberated around her ears. She felt as if she was in a dream.

“Don’t joke, Yin Xiang Zhe!” Shan Mei felt like a small child who was at a loss what to do. Things happened too suddenly.

“I am serious.” He earnestly looked at her. How he wished he could tear his heart out to show it to her.

She looked at that pair of tenderness and affection filled eyes and her heart seemed to be kindled with a fire, burning hot …

“Aren’t we fine with the way we are now?” She tried to avoid the look in his eyes which were making her heart beat faster.

There was no one standing in front of him. He had already quietly crept into her heart.

“Shan Mei …”

“You … Can you give me some time?” Shan Mei retreated one step backward.

When love came knocking at her door, she was actually hesitating and retreating. She loved him, but she did not know whether she had enough courage to give her heart to another man once again. She never thought that she was the one whom he fell in love with.

“OK, I will wait for you. But, promise me, no matter what your answer would be, please don’t hide from me, I don’t wish that we can’t even be friends.”

The way he cherished her visibly touched her, “I promise you.” She said.

“Goodnight, Yin Xiang Zhe.”

Under the night light, he could see the lucid smile in her eyes.

In a split second, Xiang Zhe’s heart was filled to the brim with happiness. Her smile gave him incomparable confidence. He believed that he would eventually give him a positive answer.

“Goodnight, Zhen Shan Mei.” He happily said.

Xiang Zhe laughed all the way home. He thought he was too abrupt and shocked Shan Mei, but he could not care less. Ho ho, he was leaning one large step closer to Shan Mei today! Although Shan Mei did not give him an answer, she did not reject him neither. He would wait for her patiently, waiting for her to walk straight towards him.


- End of Chapter 8 -


Ladies, as nho is still on vacation, I am posting the next chapter on her behalf. Thank you nho for the wonderful work you have done to translate Jennifer's wonderful story.

Jules

My Dearest One –

Chapter 9

Written By Jennifer

Original posted in
http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
Translated by nho(CA)

In the morning when she left home for work, she found a rose hanging on the railing of the fence in the front yard. She looked around and did not see anyone. She thought it must certainly be someone who placed the flower there temporarily and would come back for it later.

When she came home from work, the flower was still there but was now drooping after being exposed to the sun for too long.

“How could someone be so muddle-headed!”

Shan Mei took the flower inside and put it in a vase.

The next morning when she left home, she saw another rose on the railing again. In the evening, the flower was still here. The third day, the red rose was on the railing early to greet her good morning. Shan Mei knew what was going on and it should be Xiang Zhe who sent her that. When Saturday came, there were already six roses in the vase.

On Sunday afternoon, Xiang Zhe came over to pick her up. His basketball team was having a friendly match with the other team. In the basketball court last week, she promised Xiang Zhe’s friends that she would come to cheer for them.

This was the first time she saw Xiang Zhe this week. She knew Xiang Zhe did not want to put pressure on her.

Shan Mei took out a flower from the vase and got into Xiang Zhe’s car.

“Long time no see!”

“Long time no see!” Shan Mei smiled. She had not seen him for a long long week and she felt so much longing in her heart. Very often during office hours, she would think of him who was some thirty floors up above her. At night, she would huddle in the quilt and looked across the other side of the park until she was tired and exhausted. No meeting and no pressure but in their place was infinite longing! She missed him, but was afraid to face him, it was really contradictory! If he had never posed that question to her, how wonderful would that be! She could still happily see him as before, joke with him and need not think of giving him any promise, need not face him feeling guilty and conscience stricken. She was really too selfish, she had not been seriously concerned about his feeling. She was a coward, it was obvious that she was fond of him but tried to deceive herself and others as well.

“During the past days, were you very busy?”

As soon as the words were out, she was regretting them. He would think that she was missing him.

“Well, I read from the newspapers that now is the busy season for production …” Shan Mei added.

On hearing this, Xiang Zhe’s mouth lifted at the corners.

“Right, it is lately the busy season for production “ He turned his face to smile at her.

His eyes seemed as though they could see through her …

Shan Mei was annoyed with herself. She felt it was simply a dead giveaway on her part, the more she tried to cover up, the more revealing it was and her face was flushed with heat.

“It’s so hot …” Shan Mei found an excuse to save herself from embarrassment.

“Really?” Xiang Zhe wound down the window.

He was reluctant to move his gaze away from her. She looked so adorable.

Outside the window as a piece of blue sky. On both sides of the road the gingko trees had now changed into the golden autumn outfit and they looked exceptionally gorgeous under the sunlight.

“Is it better now?” Xiang Zhe asked.

“Huh … much better.”

He took a look at her, she was still flushed in the face.

“The weather is so good today, it is neither too cold nor too hot.” Xiang Zhe changed the topic.

“Huh.”

Xiang Zhe thought it was funny himself. These were the kind of outdated dialogues used in movies and he unexpectedly had to utter them.

For a long time thereafter, Xiang Zhe remained silent. He was absorbed in the present subtle and yet ambiguous atmosphere. He often turned his face to stealthily look at Shan Mei.

Shan Mei lowered her head to play with the rose. She murmured to herself: could he stop looking at her this way? Fortunately she brought the rose with her, if not she did not know where to put her hands …

“What beautiful flower!” Xiang Zhe broke the silence.

Shan Mei raised her eyes to look at Xiang Zhe. She could not find a clue from his face, could it possibly be that she had guessed wrong?

“I don’t know who does this, everyday he puts a red rose on the railing in my front yard …” She observed his expression, “At first, I thought it must be some muddle-head who remembers incorrectly his girlfriend’s address, but to my surprise, he does it everyday …”

“Really? …” Xiang Zhe turned his head sideway thinking and said: “Maybe it is from some secret admirer of yours …”

“No way!” Shan Mei said: “Nobody knows where I live …”

From Xiang Zhe’s look, it did not seem to be him and Shan Mei felt very disappointed.

Xiang Zhe slightly smiled and said: “Don’t you have any confidence in yourself? Maybe it is from some promising youth you run into in the bus or metro station and who wants to pursue you and follows you to your place …”

“What are saying!” She glowered at him, “Don’t tell me you have done this kind of silly thing before?”

“Yes! I have done that before.” Xiang Zhe nodded.

“What?” Shan Mei’s eyes stared wide open in surprise.

“When I was in senior high, I let your cousin drag me along following a girl home …”

“Two silly men …” Shan Mei responded briefly and continued to ponder on the rose incident, “It’s strange … exactly who is responsible?”

Xiang Zhe saw how adorable Shan Mei looked with a face full of puzzle and could not help but smiled with his mouth slightly lifted at the corners.

Shan Mei caught it with her sharp eyes and she understood immediately.

This fellow, he was really hateful, how dare he played a trick on her. She would have to retaliate.

“Oh! I remember …” Shan Mei said.

“Remember what?”

“Recently when I take the metro in the morning, there is a handsome guy who always comes over to talk to me. It should be him …” She made up her mind to reciprocate and make fun of him in return.

“That man wants to pick you up?” Xiang Zhe frowned.

Shan Mei saw the way Xiang Zhe looked and felt very smug.

“Yes!”

“Nowadays there are a lot of wicked people. You must not speak freely to anyone you don’t know …” Xiang Zhe started to peach.

“I can judge and I am not a child!” Shan Mei retorted.

Xiang Zhe suddenly was at a loss for words and stayed silent. After quite a while, he then asked dejectedly: “You … what do you talk about?

“What?”

“I said, you and that man, what do you usually talk about?”

Shan Mei contained her smile, enough was enough, she would stop play-acting.

“Nothing, I don’t talk freely to someone I don’t know.”

Xiang Zhe breathed a sigh of relief.

……………………….

The car passed through a florist and Shan Mei asked Xiang Zhe to stop the car.

“Actually, I love white roses.” Shan Mei said.

………………………….

Next morning, the red rose on the railing was replaced with a white rose.

At noon, when Shan Mei went out for lunch, she ran into Xiang Zhe in the lobby.

“Such a coincidence?” Shan Mei happily said.

Actually he was waiting for her there on purpose. He could not bear to spend a day without seeing her.

Last week, in order not to put pressure on her, he restrained himself from seeing her. Yesterday afternoon, they had a good time together and he could cease to worry. He no longer wanted to deny himself again. He wanted to ask her out for a meal and chat with her as before, so long as he did not demand an answer from her and he would wait patiently.

“I’m going to get something to eat, please wait for me.”

Xiang Zhe bought the food and the two of them went to eat their lunch in the park.

“You are so diligent? You even bring your book to lunch?”

Shan Mei was carrying a book named “Introduction to Capital Market”.

“I have an exam tonight and want to review it once more during lunch.” Shan Mei said.

“Do you want me to give you an intensive tuition?”

“You?” Shan Mei broke into laughter.

“Hey, I certainly didn’t get my diploma in business studies by foul means. I got an A in every subject …”

“OK, I know you were an outstanding student … Hey, you are also eating green salad?”

Xiang Zhe bought two submarine sandwiches and two portions of green salad.

Xiang Zhe smiling said: “Didn’t you say that eating this will be good for your health and also for your complexion?”

When you were in love with someone, you would want to eat the food that she loved, because when you ate them, her happy and satisfied smile would surface in your mind.

“Each time I sit here, I would always remember the time in my student days when I went out with my friends on weekends and drank afternoon tea on the banks of River Thames …” Shan Mei said.

“The scenery here is pretty good too!”

Shan Mei smiled, “I am not saying about the scenery, it’s how you feel … you don’t have to worry about work, you don’t have to worry about … a lot of things …”

“It’s because I asked you that question and it brings you confusion?” Xiang Zhe looked at her guiltily.

Shan Mei shook her head, “I am just giving an example …”

The pressure from work, the competition among your colleagues, were the kinds of things you needed not have to worry about when you were in school.

“Have you ever been to a coffee shop called “Quidor Café” along the bank of River Thames? That was the place I love to visit the most.” Shan Mei said.

“Quidor?” Xiang Zhe smilingly said: “That was really a nice place. I went there with my friends a few times.”

“Really? You like it there too?” Shan Mei was extremely pleased.

“When you watched the scenery from the patio, it was so beautiful.” Xiang Zhe said.

“Right, right, especially when it was a sunny day, you sat on the patio, feeling the sun on your skin and watching the scenery on both sides of the river bank, it was really a big enjoyment …” Shan Mei said enthusiastically.

Shan Mei happily chatted with Xiang Zhe about her life in London and almost forgot the time she needed to get back to work.

On the way back to the office, Shan Mei asked Xiang Zhe: “Yin Xiang Zhe, what do you feel about the future of cell phone business?”

“Why do you ask?” Xiang Zhe looked at Shan Mei curiously, “It shouldn’t be one of the subject of your exam?”

“No …” Shan Mei shook her head, “That … I worked on a few cases of convertible bond issue and incidentally not too long ago, my teacher introduced this subject to us in school, so I just went and bought a couple of the LG Communications convertible bonds …”

“What? You went to buy convertible bonds?” Xiang Zhe was taken aback. Before Shan Mei was not even sure of how to deal with stock trading.

“I want to understand why this kind of product is so attractive to the public and why investors are willing to invest in a product that has a 0% interest rate on its face value!”

“I really have to give in to you! … How is it doing, the result of your investment?”

“Huh … If it is calculated on today’s market price, I can buy a couple of branded name handbags.” Shan Mei said.

“Pretty good! …, Why did you think of buying LG Communications’ convertible bonds?”

“I read from a newspaper analysis report that the results of the cell phone business for the next quarter are viewed as positive.”

“Wow, it looks as though you really benefit from your lessons!”

“It’s OK … I can now understand up to 70-80% from reading the financial newspapers …”

He looked at how delighted she looked when she talked of her achievement in the classroom and felt respect and protective towards her. In order to further improve her understanding of the banking financial business, she spared no efforts to attend classes and also to trade in convertible bonds. He really had to bow to her. She was a girl who loved to excel others and did not concede defeat.

“As a matter of fact, banking/finance is a very interesting subject to study. If I can have a chance, I want to study for a degree in banking/finance.” Shan Mei said.

“Can your health take it?” Xiang Zhe asked worriedly.

“I will resign from my job first.”

On hearing this, Xiang Zhe was stunned speechless.

…………………..

At night, Xiang Zhe went to pick up Shan Mei after school.

“Didn’t you say you attend a social function tonight?” Shan Mei could not help contain the joy in her heart.

“I told them I had to go to pick up my girlfriend and left early.”

“What?” Shan Mei glared at him with her big eyes.

“Why are you wearing such an expression?”

She glared at him, hating him for asking something he already knew the answer.

Xiang Zhe smiled craftily, “I already told them it is only unrequited love.”

“Oi, I decide from now on I will come to pick you up from school.”

H wanted to share some of her burden. She had lost a lot of weight lately.

“What for? You want to keep a close watch on me? Shan Mei pouted.

“Right!” He patted her head, “I am planning an airtight guard on you …”

“You think you are playing the basketball?”

Xiang Zhe laughed heartily on hearing this.

“Don’t you think you are suspicious of committing a foul?” Shan Mei cast a look at Xiang Zhe.

“Commit a foul? …” Xiang Zhe pretended to be dim-witted. He knew what Shan Mei meant was he was putting pressure on her, but he could not find any hint of displeasure on her face.

“Oh, it seems so!” Xiang Zhe acted as if he was suddenly enlightened, “Actually you can’t blame me. It’s you who first mentioned about me keeping a close watch on you, before I carry on … Aye, I can’t help, I play too many basketball games …” Xiang Zhe said righteously.

“In the basketball court, you will be disqualified after having committed five fouls.”

“So strict?” Xiang Zhe stuck out his tongue in surprise.

“I’m always fair and just.”

“Miss, can’t you be just a little gentler towards me?” Xiang Zhe couldn’t help complaining.

Shan Mei puckered in smile.

“How is your exam?”

Shan Mei happily said: “It went very smoothly … Thank you for helping me to rehearse the questions during lunch time.”

“Really? Then how are you planning to thank me?”

“Well … I will treat you to a good meal, OK?”

“No, there is no need …” Xiang Zhe shook his hand, “You can just cancel that record of the foul I have committed just now …”

…………………..

They went to board the boat in Youido Pier. Shan Mei wanted some fresh air and wanted to look at the stars.

“Yin Xiang Zhe …”

“Huh?”

“Thank you for your roses.” Shan Mei smilingly said.

“My roses?” He took a look at her smilingly, “Aren’t they not from that handsome guy you met in the metro station?”

“Hey, you are hateful!” Shan Mei pouted.

“You are so certain that they are from me?”

“Huh, I’m sure they came from you.”

“Why?”

“Because the white roses from the morning …”

“White roses?” Xiang Zhe smiled with his mouth lifted at the corners, “So you have another motive when you told me you loved white roses?”

“Who asked you to put on such an act?”

“There is something you don’t need to speak out, it is sufficient that the other party can understand your feeling.” Xiang Zhe said feelingly.

Shan Mei turned her head to look at Xiang Zhe. The handsome contour of his face looked like a statute of Greek youth under the skilful hands of a sculptor. Shan Mei couldn’t help feeling intoxicated.

“Hey, what is on your mind to put in a daze?” Xiang Zhe patted Shan Mei’s shoulder once.

“Oh …” Shan Mei woke up from her daydream and said with a flush face: “Nothing, I am thinking about what you have just said …”

“And then?”

“Huh …” Shan Mei pursed her lips and said: “But, there is something we need to speak out regardless.”

Something that needed to be speak out regardless? Did that include the fact that he loved her? Xiang Zhe thought.

“Can you give me an example?”

“Like thank you, I’m sorry etc. We have to say these words out. Even to someone closest to us, we can’t be too sparing with or overlook them. For instance, when two people are in a tiff, both of them feel sorry in their heart, but none of them is willing to take the first step to apologize to the other, there is no way that the deadlock can be broken… So …” She mischievously looked at Xiang Zhe.

“So what?”

“So … I have to thank you again for your flowers, thank you for giving me the intensive tuition, thank you for accompanying me to take the boat ride.” Shan Mei gave Xiang Zhe a salute.

“Don’t mention it!” Xiang Zhe laughingly said.

The loudspeaker was playing the goodnight tune and in ten minutes’ time, the boat would reach the shore.

“How come it’s so quick!” Xiang Zhe said.

“Yes, it is really very quick.” Shan Mei nodded.

Time always flied when she spent it with him.

The state of love seemed to have its own set of ruler to measure time, thoughts would drag the time longer and meetings would shorten the time. When you missed someone, the days were long like years, but when you spent the time with your loved one, time passed in a split second.

“Yin Xiang Zhe, I have to leave Seoul for a short while at the end of the month.”

Xiang Zhe’s heart jumped, “You … where are you going>”

She told him this afternoon that she wanted to further her study, she should not be going to make arrangement to do this!

“I’m going to London to spend time with my father … It’s my father’s birthday soon, I want to spend it with him. I have asked for two weeks’ leave from my office.” Shan Mei smiled happily and her eyes curved like crescent moon.

So that was what it was, Xiang Zhe felt himself laughable for getting agitated for no reason at all.

“Look how happy you are, your father must dote on you!”

“That’s for sure, I am the apple of his eyes!” Shan Mei looked as a matter of course.

Xiang Zhe laughed, “You always only ever mention your father, won’t your mother be jealous?”

Shan Mei shook her head and said: “My mother passed away when I was little …”

He only then knew that her mother died when she was still in primary school.

“I’m sorry … I have no idea …”

“It doesn’t matter.” Shan Mei smiled.

Her smile made him so envious. He thought her mother must have left her some good memory.

“When you are there you must let your father pamper you and when you have time, can you go to Café Quidor and take a look at River Thames for me?”

“That won’t be a problem!”

“I may need to go to Frankfurt around that time.” Xiang Zhe said.

“Go to Frankfurt? What for? On vacation?”

Xiang Zhe shook his heard, “There is an electronic fair there at the end of the month. The Frankfurt Electronic Fair is considered one of the most important exhibitions in the electronic field and many VIP clients will attend this exhibition.”

“Hey, haven’t you just returned from a business trip? It is very unusual. Why is it that every time when your company has to deal with a client or participate in an exhibition, you as the chairman have to take the trouble and attend to it in person? What is the general manager of your company doing?” Shan Mei asked.

Xiang Zhe just smiled.

Jiang Yu He was an introvert and comparatively he did not like to deal with market side of the business. However during the past few years, he got to know more overseas clients and Xiang Zhe was considering letting Yu He attend this electronic fair for and on behalf of the company.

Shan Mei gurgled with laughter, “However, you can speak very persuasively and it makes other difficult to refuse you ..”

“You mean … I have the charisma?”

“Don’t toot your own horn, what I mean is that you have a persuasive tongue …”

Persuasive tongue? Xiang Zhe touched his forehead and laughed.

“To speak the truth, it is very tiring flying from place to place every other day, why can’t you find someone to take over once in a while?”

Shan Mei’s look of concern made Xiang Zhe feel very gratified.

“OK, I will listen to you. This time I will ask our general manager to go in my instead!”

“Listen to me? I am just giving you a suggestion, you don’t have to listen to me …”

Shan Mei found it funny and laughed.

“You are the most important person in my mind, how can I not listen to you … You are my personal legal advisor, my saviour, our team’s cheer leader, my …”

“Enough, that is enough …” Shan Mei laughingly covered her ears with her hands. If she let Xiang Zhe continue, she did not know what further nonsense he would utter!

On the way back home that day, Xiang Zhe was exceptionally quiet. Shan Mei guessed it must be the reason she was going to London. She would miss him too, missing him across the distant land.

- End of Chapter 9 -


My Dearest One –

Chapter 10

Written By Jennifer

Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
Translated by nho(CA)


When Shan Mei got home, the housekeeper told her that one of her friends phoned asking for her.

“It was from a young gentleman …” The housekeeper said with a big smile.

“Was it someone with his last name Yin?” The first person Shan Mei thought of was Xiang Zhe.

“Right, it was a Mr. Yin.”

“Did he leave any message?” Shan Mei urgently asked.

“Yes …” The housekeeper nodded, “He said he would be waiting at the coffee shop which Miss often frequents …”

“What?” Shan Mei was shocked. Was Xiang Zhe in London?

“When did he call?” Shan Mei asked agitatedly.

“Around 4 o’clock this afternoon.”

“Aiyoo, why didn’t you call to let me know …”

Heaven, it was nearly 9:00 p.m. now! She went out with her friend for the whole day and as her father had to work overtime in the embassy today, she had her dinner before she came home. The housekeeper said with a guiltless face: “I asked that gentleman whether I should get in touch with you. He told me it did not matter and he also instructed me to ask you not to go over if you came home late.”

Shan Mei picked up her jacket and hurriedly ran out of the door. The outside was now fluttering with rain. She did not stop to think, but just took on her heels and ran to the metro station.

When Shan Mei hurriedly arrived at Café Quidor, it was already half an hour later.

She found him sitting under the lamp post waiting for her. Her eyes started to blur and tears nearly fell down on her cheeks.

“Have you been waiting here long?” She looked at him in distress.

Xiang Zhe smiled, “It is so late, why did you still come?”

Shan Mei did not pay attention to Xiang Zhe and continued to ramble on: “What were you doing? Why didn’t let my housekeeper get in touch with me … You normally look so smart, how come you behaved like an idiot this time!”

Xiang Zhe did not say a word. He just crossed his arms across his chest and gazed at her smilingly. She looked so adorable when she chattered incessantly.

“What are you smiling at!” Shan Mei muttered.

Xiang Zhe sat up straight and said with a happy smile: “Oi, have you finished talking? … I have never seen a woman who is so long-winded!”

Shan Mei glared at Xiang Zhe, but could not help burst out laughing herself.

“I just didn’t want to dampen your fun. Who knows you could unexpectedly shop all day and didn’t go home until it was dark! … Hey, did you come here unprotected under the rain?” He discovered that there were rain droplets all over her and could not help frowning.

“It’s just a little rain, it doesn’t matter.” It was a common occurence to be caught in the rain in London.

Xiang Zhe handed her a large square of handkerchief, “Please hurry up and wipe dry!”

Shan Mei smilingly asked: “Do you always carry such a large handkerchief?”

“Yes.” Xiang Zhe said.

Since that time when he watched the movie with Shan Mei, it was his habit to carry a handkerchief with him. He thought it funny himself and never thought that it really came in handy today.

“Why are you here in London?” Shan Mei asked.

“I went to Frankfurt to attend the electronic fair.”

“Didn’t you tell me that your managing director would attend to it?”

“He was temporary unavailable and could not divide his attention.” Xiang Zhe replied.

Actually the truth was that he missed her. The distance between Frankfurt and London was shorter than the distance between Seoul and London.

“How come the chairman did not return to work after the business was done and slipped off to London taking French leave.”

“It is on my route and I just made a detour to come here.”

“On your route? Frankfurt and London do not seem to be in the same route?”

Xiang Zhe mischievously said: “Actually, it was because I had no one to bicker words with me for a whole week and I am not used to it, and so I came.”

“You are uttering nonsense!” Shan Mei pouted.

Xiang Zhe leaned his body forward, “Aye, so you want to see me that much?” He stared at Shan Mei’s face with a grin.

“Who said that?” Shan Mei’s face flushed and hurriedly drank her water to cover her embarrassment.

“Haven’t I instructed your housekeep not to let you come if you got home late?”

“I phoned home and the housekeeper told me … As I was around this area, so I just came here …”

Xiang Zhe saw that Shan Mei was only carrying her handbag and knew she was not telling the truth. She braved the rain to hurriedly come here was enough evidence to prove how important he rated in her heart. Xiang Zhe’s heart was full of joy and the corners of his mouth curved upwards.

“What do you want to drink?” Xiang Zhe asked.

Shan Mei ordered a pot of fruit tea.

“River Thames under a rainy night, has a different kind of appeal.” Xiang Zhe said.

Shan Mei followed Xiang Zhe’s vision to look out of the window. Under the drizzling rain, the spots of lights on both sides of the bank possessed a kind of hazy and hushed beauty.

She asked him about the electronic fair.

“It’s boring to talk about the fair … Please tell me about your business in London.” Xiang Zhe said.

He wanted to know what she had been doing in London the last few days.

“Why is it boring? Didn’t you tell me that this fair was very important … Please tell me about it! I read from the newspapers that Carly Fiorina from Hewlett-Packard and Bill Gates from Microsoft both attended this fair … The newspapers also reported that this year’s participants broke the past records … How was it, did you manage to get many orders?”

Xiang Zhe laughed merrily. She really cared about him.

“Don’t worry, didn’t you say that I’ve got a very persuasive tongue?”

Shan Mei puckered in smile, “What I mean is you are very convincing.”

“Thank you … however, how come I can never win an argument over you?”

“Aiyoo, it’s normal that you can’t win an argument with a lawyer! … Hey, what exactly is the outcome?”

“Huh … it’s fairly good …” Xiang Zhe said.

This year the price reduction competition was very severe. One of his big client gave the order to his competitor and it caused quite a tremendous impact on the company’s earnings.

“That’s good.” Shan Mei said.

Shan Mei’s cell phone rang.

“Pa …”

It was from her father.

Xiang Zhe looked at his watch, it was nearly 11:00 p.m. He should not have let Shan Mei stay with him this late. Her father must be worried about her.

“Huh …” Shan Mei cast a look at Xiang Zhe and her face revealed an expression of embarrassment, “Yes … he is a friend from Seoul … Huh …”

Xiang Zhe made a signal with his hand, asking her to tell her father that he was taking her home immediately.

Shan Mei nodded, “Pa, I will be home in a moment … Huh, he will take me home … Aiyoo, I know …”

Hanging up her phone, Shan Mei smiled at Xiang Zhe in embarrassment, “My father is always so wrought up …”

“Uncle just worries about you … Let’s go! I will take you home!”

“I would like to sit for a while …”

“We better go!” Xiang Zhe stood up, “I don’t want your father to put me in the dishonoured list …”

“Please wait until I finish listening to this song …”

The shop was playing Ronan Keating and Lulu’s lyric song “We’ve Got Tonight”.

Getting out of the coffee shop, Shan Mei hummed the song “We’ve Got Tonight” all the way.

“Do you like the song itself or Ronan Keating?” Xiang Zhe asked.

“Both.” Shan Mei grinned.

The two of them walked along the meandering alleys to the main road. Xiang Zhe flagged down a cab to take Shan Mei home. She lived in Mayfair. As a matter, Shan Mei’s father held the post of councillor in the South Korean Embassy in England.

“Tomorrow … Are you available?”

She gave him a look and said: “I have to go to Cambridge.”

“To look up friends?”

“No, I have something left in the school for safe-keeping and they ask me to pick it up.”

“Can you wait for me?”

“Huh?”

“I want to go and visit a friend tomorrow morning and I will finish at about 10:00 a.m. Can you wait up for me. I want to return with you to Cambridge. I haven’t been back for over 4-5 years.”

Originally he only wanted to see her for a while and would return to Seoul the next day, but after he met her, he changed his mind. On the phone, he instructed the housekeeper not to let her come if it was late, but he was not willing to leave the coffee shop in any event and in his heart, he hoped that she would gracefully appear before him. During the past week, the thought of her occupied his mind and his dreams.

The next day, Xiang Zhe rented a car and drove all the way to Cambridge. All the time he had wished for a day that he could drive with her along the mountains and plains and pass through villages, with just the two of them.

“If we take the train, you won’t have to drive such a long way.” Shan Mei said.

Shan Mei originally planned to wait for Xiang Zhe at the King’s Cross station, but Xiang Zhe said he wanted to drive himself.

“There is so many restrictions riding on a train. You have to lower your voice when you speak.”

He loved to listen to her incessant chatters, and loved to hear her mirthful laughter.

“Did you get a scolding when you got home last night?” Xiang Zhe asked.

Shan Mei replied with a look of lucky escape on her face: “It’s OK.”

Most probably Father must have heard something from the housekeeper and he asked things about Xiang Zhe.

“Where did you meet him? How come I have never heard you mention …”

“Well, … he is one of my seniors! He came to London on business …” She tried to take the easiest way out.

She could see her father was trying to curb all those questions he wanted to ask her.

The car exited London’s urban area and entered the rural region of the countryside and primitive valleys.

Shan Mei wound down the window. The smell of green grass filled up the air.

“Can you smell the fragrance of green grass?”

“Look at that yellow roll of the hay, do you think they look like wheel bread?”

“Look at that horse, isn’t it having a nap?”

Shan Mei was as excited as a kid.

He looked at her smile which was brilliant as spring flowers and he felt like a bottle of spritz which had just been opened with bubbles oozing out from the neck.

“It would seem that you like England very much.” Xiang Zhe said.

“Right! I love England. I have spent three years of happy moment here. I think to be able to study and live in England, will only be a chance in a lifetime, so I treasure every moment when I am here.”

“You love this …” Xiang Zhe took out a CD from his pocket.

“Ronan Keating!” Shan Mei laughed.

“It isn’t only you who likes his songs.”

“Can we hear it now?”

“I won’t object if you want to sing with him.” He said to her who was wearing a face of sunlight.

“Let’s hear one song … We come out to admire the scenery, or else it would spoil your good intention. Since you are also one of his fans, can you pick one song?”

“Then let’s pick “When You Say Nothing At All” …”

Shan Mei happily said: “I like this song too.”

He specially chose this “When You Say Nothing At All” song.

Ronan’s low and husky singing voice slowly filled up the air.

“It’s amazing how you can speak right to my heart
Without saying a word, you can light up the dark
Try as I may, I can never explain
What I hear when you don’t say a thing
The smile on your face lets me know that you need me
There’s truth in your eyes saying you’ll never leave me
The touch of your hand says you’ll catch me wherever I fall
You say it best, when you say nothing at all.”

Xiang Zhe looked at the pair of smiling eyes before him and felt terribly happy. Her smile, the expression in her eyes had already quietly leaked out the secret in her heart!

“You say it best, when you say nothing at all.”

“All day long I can hear people talking out loud
But when you hold me near, you drown out the crowd
Try as they may, they can never define
What’s been said between your heart and mine
The smile on your face lets me know that you need me
There’s truth in your eyes saying you’ll never leave me
The touch of your hand says you’ll catch me wherever I fall
You say it best, when you say nothing at all”

It was noon when they reached Cambridge. There were long queues in all the restaurants. They found a restaurant on River Cam. They carried a white porcelain tray filled with fried chicken, green salad and fries and after some difficulty they managed to find two vacant seats among the crowded wooden benches.

“We are quite lucky today. We have a good view here and also a free patio umbrella to shield the sun.” Shan Mei said with a grin.

Their dining table happened to face the beautiful scenery of River Cam and at the back of the table was a large tree big enough to embrace it with outstretched arms.

“OK … Enjoy our “stylish” lunch!” Xiang Zhe said.

“Stylish lunch?” Shan Mei looked at the oil-dripping half chicken on the tray. She really hated to eat this, but it was the only remaining lunch set on the menu.

Xiang Zhe laughingly said, “Don’t blame it on the chicken anymore. Just watch the scenery ahead! We will have a good meal this evening?”

Shan Mei raised her head looking at the green river water ahead, looking at the willows which were dancing in the wind, listening to the distant sound made by the rowing of the scull when paddling the boat and also the sound of the laughter of the children playing in the water by the river banks and her spirit suddenly felt good and fit. To be able to have such a wonderful feeling while enjoying your lunch, it could be considered as having a “stylish lunch”!

Xiang Zhe quickly finished the food in his plate. He took out a V8 camera from his backpack. Shan Mei thought he only wanted to shoot the scenery, not knowing that he was fixing the camera lens on her.

“Hey, what are you doing!” Shan Mei who was chewing the chicken wing tried to dodge and ward him off.

“I’m shooting your gluttonous look! …” Xiang Zhe continued to shoot non-stop.

Just a moment ago she was complaining that she did not like fried chicken and now she was actually eating it with gusto.

“Yin Xiang Zhe!”

Shan Mei jumped down from the chair to stop Xiang Zhe. Seeing this, Xiang Zhe took to his heels and fled and at the same time, laughingly said: “Wow, you are so fierce!”

The two of them with one running after another caused heaps of laughter from the people around them.

“Oh!” Shan Mei suddenly wrapped her arms around her stomach and knelt down.

“What happens?” Xiang Zhe hurriedly came to Shan Mei’s side, “You are not feeling well?” Xiang Zhe anxiously asked.

“Stomach ache …” Shan Mei buried her head on the knees and her shoulder slightly trembled.

Damn, it must that she was running too fast just now. Xiang Zhe was feeling remorseful.

“I’m sorry … It’s all my fault.” Xiang Zhe apologized, “Let me help you up and go there to take a rest …”

As soon as he helped her get up, unexpectedly his right arm received a heavy pommel from Shan Mei’s fist. It was then Xiang Zhe knew he had fallen into Shan Mei’s trap.

“Miss, it hurts!” Shan Mei’s physical exertion was pretty strong.

“It serves you right!” Shan Mei retorted complacently.

They returned to their seats and an old lady from the next table smilingly said to Xiang Zhe: “Young man, you can’t win over your girlfriend …”

When Shan Mei heard this, her face was instantly flushed red.

Xiang Zhe was very happy. In the eyes of the others, they were a couple of lovers.

After lunch, they rode on a bicycle and strolled along the road. They came to the student union. As a matter of fact, Shan Mei came here to collect a painting. She participated in a painting contest when she was still at school and her work was selected and was exhibited in the student activity centre. Now the two-year period was up and the school notified her to pick up the painting and also presented her with an award.

Xiang Zhe looked at the painting and acclaimed: “This painting is really well done!”

What Shan Mei painted was that piece of red wall in St. John’s College dormitory. The morning glory climbed all over the wall. The green and purple morning glory mischievously crept into the half-shut window panel.

““Love Affair between the Green Leaves and the Red Wall”?” Xiang Zhe glanced at Shan Mei smilingly, “Why did you pick such a name for the painting?”

“Because of that feeling of limitless … The morning glory grows in four directions without any hindrance, its profound love covers the entire red wall. A passionate love should be so extensive and selfless.” Shan Mei declared with a yearning look.

He looked at her and in his heart he thought, the one she loved must certainly be a very blessed one!

“If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear; If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee …” Xiang Zhe looked at her intently with a smile.

Xiang Zhe’s expression in his eyes was as warm as the sun and under his profound and affectionate gaze, Shan Mei was touched with a soul-stirring feeling.

“If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear; If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee …” She repaid him with a delightful and incomparable sweet smile. She also loved this poem “Ode to the West Wind” by Shelly.

“Please hold the painting and I will take a photo of you?” Xiang Zhe said.

“Haven’t you taken enough snapshots already?” Shan Mei shook her head. Since they entered the school area, he continuously took pictures non-stop.

‘You make me feel as if I am travelling on a tourist trip or something …”

“We rarely come back here … Let’s keep a momento of our visit! Wait until I have edited the prints, I will give you a copy to commemorate.”

“Remember to give me the negatives too.” Shan Mei said.

Xiang Zhe pretended not to hear.

“Hey, can you give this painting to me?” Xiang Zhe asked.

“Why?”

“Because I like it.”

Shan Mei thought for a moment and said smilingly: “OK, but wait until I have it remounted.”

“Thank you for your generosity.”

“You’re welcomed, my saviour.”

“Aye, you sound so distant.” Xiang Zhe sounded annoyed.

After they got out of the university area, it was still early and Shan Mei wanted to visit the thrift shops. They came to St. Andrew Street where the shops stood in great numbers.

“What is the most interesting here is the thrift shops and the open market.” Shan Mei said, “When I can spare time, I love to come here to window shop and see what new things I can find here.”

Shan Mei came to a small shop with a little bell hanging on the door.

“Good afternoon, lady and gentleman, what can I do to help you?” The middle aged pump woman sitting behind the counter greeted them both. Listening to her accent, one would know that she was a local.

“Mrs. Robinson, do you remember me?” Shan Mei grinned.

“Oh! Shan Mei …” The proprietress recognized Shan Mei and laughed with her mouth wide open. “Long time no see …”

The proprietress cast a look at Xiang Zhe, “This is …”

“Oh, he is a friend of mine. He was also a Cambridge student before.”

When they were talking, some student like persons entered the shop.

“Please take care of your other customers, I can take a look myself.” Shan Mei told the proprietress.

“So you are an old customer here.”

“I sometimes come here to browse around.”

Xiang Zhe found that the shop was displaying everything that was old or strange: irregular shaped candle sticks, pictures made up of pressed petals and leaves, stripped woodcarvings, old dictionaries which were so old that the pages became yellowish and could be dissolved into powder when squeezed, and also some second-handed bowls, plates and tea sets.

On the right hand side of the shop was a clothes rack on which were hung some ancient costumes.

“How does this look?” Shan Mei pointed to a long pleated skirt and asked Xiang Zhe.

Xiang Zhe frowned: “Don’t you think this seems to be the costume worn by those unsmiling school matrons in the movies?”

Shan Mei could not help breaking into laughter. Xiang Zhe’s description was very apt. The material for these clothing were of excellent quality. It was a shame that the style was too out of date that even Auntie would not take a liking to it.

Shan Mei bent her body to take a look at the several pairs of woman’s shoes under the clothes rack. Their colours were all monotonous; they were either black or grey in colour.

Shan Mei looked at them for a while and smilingly said: “This really looks like those shoes worn by the witches in fairy tales; the front of the shoes is so narrow and the bottom is so thick and heavy. Furthermore you must ride on a broom before you can wear this kind of shoes.”

Xiang Zhe could not help himself, he burst out laughing loud. Only she could possess such brain and think of such lifelike adjectives.

Shan Mei looked around in embarrassment and blamed Xiang Zhe, “Aiyoo, keep your voice down!”

Shan Mei searched for a long time and finally bought a wooden figure pen holder.

“If you can’t find anything you like, please don’t force yourself.” Xiang Zhe said. He thought perhaps because she knew the proprietress so well that she felt obligated to buy something.

When they paid for the goods, the proprietress told Xiang Zhe that all the revenue generated from the goods sold would all be donated to the children’s home.

He then understood why she insisted to buy something.

At dusk, they returned to London.

Shan Mei promised to have dinner with her father, so she bade goodbye at the metro station.

“Shall we go to Brighton tomorrow?” Xiang Zhe said.

He wanted to stay in London for one more day.

“Go to Brighton?” Shan Mei’s face flashed a look of consternation, “No.” Shan Mei shook her head.

Xiang Zhe asked in surprise: “Don’t you like the sea? It is a perfect to go there during autumn when the weather is bright and crispy.”

That time when they went to the Chuam Beach, she told him she loved the sea and he kept her company looking at the sea.

“I just don’t want to go to Brighton!” Shan Mei loudly exclaimed.

Xiang Zhe was startled by Shan Mei’s behaviour. He had never seen her talk like this.

“Fine, if you don’t want to go to Brighton, then we won’t go there.” Xiang Zhe answered with a smiling face.

Shan Mei was embarrassed by her rude behaviour and she said to Xiang Zhe apologetically: “I’m sorry! You make your choice! Anywhere is fine with me … My father is waiting for me. I have to go.”

She waved at him and left in a hurry.

He watched her retreating back and his mind was filled with incomprehension. Just now she looked so happy but why was her response so peculiar as soon as he mentioned Brighton?

- End of Chapter 10 -


My Dearest One –

Chapter 11

Written By Jennifer

Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
Translated by nho(CA)

After dinner, the housekeeper brought in the fruit plate.
 
“What happened today, why are you so quiet?”  Gui Cheng asked Shan Mei.
 
Normally his daughter would have a lot to say on the dining table, but today she was unusually quiet.  Not only did she not utter a word, she also often stared vacantly into space.
 
“Nothing!”  Shan Mei said.
 
“You shouldn’t have had a quarrel with someone?”
 
“Pa … what are you saying?”
 
“It’s fine then.  Who did you go out with today?  Was it … the person who called you yesterday?”
 
He had already held back his tongue for the whole day and finally could not hold back any longer.
 
Shan Mei nodded in embarrassment, “Right … it was that … Senior.”
 
Shan Mei swallowed, “We went to Cambridge.  It just happened that he had to deal with some business in Cambridge.”
 
Gui Cheng laughingly glanced at her daughter, “Such a coincide?”
 
“Yes!”  Shan Mei flushed red in the face.
 
“Ka! Ka!”  Gui Cheng tried to clear his throat, “Mrs. Chang told me that that man had waited for you in the coffee shop since noon … Mrs. Chang also said …”  Gui Cheng paused for a moment.  
 
“What did she also say?”  Shan Mei asked.
 
The housekeeper really talked too much, Shan Mei silently muttered to herself.
 
“She said, when you heard it was that man, you just dropped everything and flew out of the door …”
 
“Aiyoo, Pa …”
 
“What aiyoo Pa …”  Gui Cheng laughingly looked at his daughter.
 
“If you know a friend of yours is waiting there for you for over half a day, won’t you run out in a hurry?”  Shan Mei argued plausibly.
 
“You are right, but an average man won’t be waiting for his female junior for over half a day until the evening …”
 
“Pa …”
 
“You … are you two dating?”
 
“Pa …”  Shan Mei lowered her head and said haltingly: “He … had revealed his feeling to me, but … I haven’t given him the answer.”
 
Gui Cheng roared with laughter, “You mouth has not admitted it,  perhaps your heart has already accepted him?”
 
“I have not!”  Shan Mei denied immediately.
 
“No?”  Gui Cheng laughed out loudly, “You have not accepted him, then why did you brave the rain and go out to see him in the dark?”
 
……………………………
 
At night, Shan Mei lay on her bed and her father’s words repeatedly appeared in her mind.
 
What her father said was not wrong.  In her heart she had accepted Xiang Zhe long time ago.  She loved Xiang Zhe and actually she loved him very much.  She loved to have lunch with him at the bank of River Han; she loved to watch him happily dashing around in the basketball court; she loved to ride with him home; she loved the roses he sent her; she loved their chance meetings in the lobby in the morning; she even did not mind being teased by him occasionally.  She had long since unconsciously been ensnarled by the love net …
 
Since that night when Xiang Zhe bared his soul to her, she often thought that their meeting each other perhaps was predestined.   He appeared that night when she split up with Song Shuo Mao.  That day her mind was constantly on his safety; she worried about his wound and she had nearly forgotten about the pain brought to her by Song Shuo Mao.  When she went back to London, she listened to the piano CD he gave her again and again until her heart gradually became tranquil.  Was it he who rescued her?  That night, he did not only rescue her physically, but also set her heart free.
 
Today, when Xiang Zhe mentioned about going to Brighton, she unexpectedly almost lost her anger …  Why was she afraid to go to Brighton?  That was because it was the place where Song Shuo Mao first held her hand.  Was it because she was afraid that the scenery there would trigger past memory, so she could not go there again?  No!  It was not like this, she had not thought of Song Shuo Mao for ages.
 
Shan Mei’s eyes fell on that painting “Love Affair between the Green Leaves and the Red Wall” which was sitting on top of the closet.  She remembered how Xiang Zhe recited that two verses of Shelley’s poem, she remembered the sincerity of  love in his eyes.  Suddenly, she understood what she herself was worried and afraid of.  She was afraid that when she went back to Brighton, she would discover that the scar from the old wound was still hurting; she was afraid to find out that she herself was still a coward, afraid that she herself could not love him without reservation, was afraid that she could not reciprocate his deep affection with a perfect and flawless heart!  If she could not walk straight towards him fearlessly, it would be unworthy of his love for her.  He was too good, she would not allow herself to fail him in the slightest.
 
<i>“If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;  
If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;” </i>
 
Shan Mei’s eyes were slightly red and she repeatedly recited these two verses.  In a short instant, a warm current welled up in her heart.  She loved him, she too wished to be the one loved by him!  She should not give up without even trying, that would be the same as failing his love for her … She wanted to find an answer for herself, even though that answer may not be one she liked.  But if she could not go back and bravely faced what happened in the past, then she would not even have the chance to love him …
 
The next day, Shan Mei appeared before Xiang Zhe beaming with smiles.  Xiang Zhe breathed a sigh of relief, he did not have a good sleep the whole night.
 
“Am I late?”  Xiang Zhe looked at his watch.  It was 8:20 a.m.  Even though he was ten minutes early, she was already there waiting for him.
 
Shan Mei said with a big full smile: “Why is it that every time when I arrive before you, you always think you are late yourself?”
 
“Because it is natural and appropriate for a male to wait for a female.”
 
“Who actually set the rule that the female can’t come before a male?”  Shan Mei asked mischievously.  Today, she wanted to see him at the first instant.
 
Xiang Zhe was wearing a white stripe shirt, brown woollen sweater and a pair of khaki pant.  She loved to see him looking so emancipated.
 
“You are in such a hurry to see me?”
 
Seeing that Shan Mei was in a good mood, Xiang Zhe again could not help but teased her.
 
“Yes, that’s right!”  Shan Mei kept nodding her head and could not help breaking into laughter.
 
“Aye!”  Xiang Zhe suddenly sighed.
 
“What’s up?”
 
“You made me worry the whole night, thinking that you will fail to turn up today!”
 
“Haven’t I already apologized to you yesterday …”
 
“You just went without saying goodnight.”
 
“Can’t you just stop nagging?”  Shan Mei pouted.
 
“OK … but, can’t I ask you a favour?  In future, when we arrange to meet, please do not arrive before I do!  Understand?”
 
Shan Mei protuded her lips and retorted: “Male chauvinist!”  
 
Xiang Zhe laughed: “There is nothing to do with male chauvinism …”
 
“Oh?”  
 
“I just don’t want you to wait for me …”
 
Shan Mei pretended as if nothing had happened and treated Xiang Zhe’s words as jokes, but she could not hide how touched she was in her heart.
 
“You look very pretty … dressed like this!”  Xiang Zhe’s gaze was full of admiration.
 
Wearing a pink top, Shan Mei was beautiful and winsome like a blooming rose.
 
“Thank you.”  Shan Mei shyly brushed her hair.
 
Xiang Zhe smiled, every time he gave her a compliment, she would always blushed.
 
“Shall we go to Bath today?”  Xiang Zhe asked.
 
“No,”  Shan Mei smilingly shook her head.
 
“No?”  Xiang Zhe frowned, “Then, how about Windsor?”
 
Shan Mei once again shook her head.
 
“Canterbury?”
 
Shan Mei still shook her head.
 
Xiang Zhe against suggested a few more places, but Shan Mei was still not in agreement each time.
 
“OK, tell me where you want to go?”  Xiang Zhe gave the guessing game.
 
Shan Mei mischievously smiled, “I want to go to … Brighton.”
 
“What?”  Xiang Zhe’s eyes stared wide open, he was really defeated by her.
 
“Why are you looking at me in such a strange and peculiar way?”
 
“No wonder there is a saying that a woman’s mind is like a needle in the bottom of a sea …”
 
Shan Mei burst out laughing, “Are you scolding me in a roundabout way?”
 
“I’m just speaking generally.  Really, after a night’s sleep, you seem to change into a different person! … To become your boyfriend would certainly be tortured to death by you.”
 
Shan Mei smiled craftily, “That’s why I don’t easily become anyone’s girlfriend, so that no one would be tortured to death.”
 
“ …”
 
Xiang Zhe only wished that he could have bitten off his tongue and now he had to suffer the consequence of his own action.
 
After two hours’ journey, they arrived Brighton.  “Let’s go to the seaside, then we will go to the Royal Pavilion and lastly we will go to the North Laine, OK?”  Xiang Zhe asked.
 
Shan Mei loved to visit small shops.  He planned to leave plenty of time for her to browse around the shops in the North Laine area where the shops stood in great numbers.  The crowds there were no less vibrant than those in the Meongdong area.  She would surely love it.
 
“OK.”
 
When they stepped out from the train station, the two of them strolled south along Shelley Road and walked towards the sea front.  
 
“The first year when I was in England.  My friends and I drove down here in the summer and there was such a hugh traffic jam that we were stuck in the car for over five hours before we reached here … From then on, I always took the train …”
 
“Really?”
 
He did not notice her inattentiveness.
 
“Today the wind is not too strong and the sun is up, later we can rent a bike and go for a ride …”
 
Xiang Zhe was full of enthusiasm, but he did not get a reply from Shan Mei for a long time.  He turned his face and discovered the sombre look on Shan Mei’s face.
 
Xiang Zhe swallowed the words he was about to say.  He could guess in his heart what it was all about.  When they met in the park that night, when she told him she had a fall, her face was wearing the same expression.
 
Shan Mei wrapped her arms around her chest and stood facing the sea, with her hair and clothes whirling about in the wind.
 
Xiang Zhe stood a few steps behind Shan Mei.  Looking at her slender back, he was regretting that he really should not had made the suggestion to come to Brighton.  
 
“Yin Xiang Zhe …”
 
Xiang Zhe stepped forward …
 
“It was in here that I first put my hand into a man’s hand.  I thought I could have a happy wonderful ending like what happens in a fairy tale, but things did not turn out that way … Do you know?  That was the first time in my life that I have ever tasted anything so saddened … I brought with me a broken heart to England and I said to myself that I would not ever visit this place against in my life … That was why when you mentioned Brighton yesterday, I behaved in such a way … It was very laughable, very childish, right?”
 
Xiang Zhe went to Shan Mei’s side and stood beside her shoulder to shoulder.
 
“You … still have that man in your heart?”  Xiang Zhe’s heart was feeling jealousy.
 
“No …”  Shan Mei shook her head, “It’s not like this …”  She turned to look at him, “What was between me and him was thing in the past …”  She could read the doubt in Xiang Zhe’s eyes, “It’s true …”  Shan Mei said.  
 
“However, just like a scar on a wound, it actually does not hurt anymore, but when I touch it, it will remind me of the pain I have suffered and it will make me afraid to be hurt again … Something I am not as strong as I appear to look.”
 
“Then …, why did you change your mind?”
 
“Because of you …”  She looked into his eyes.
 
“Because of me?”
 
“Huh …”  Shan Mei nodded, “I don’t want to accept another love when someone’s shadow is still lingered in my heart, even though it only takes up a tiny corner in my heart … I don’t want and I am not willing to treat you like this, it won’t be fair to you …”
 
“Shan Mei …”  He looked at her, visibly touched.
 
“Last night I thought for the whole night and decided to come back here.  I told myself, if I can still feel the pain in my heart when I stand here, I will then not accept your love.”
 
Xiang Zhe’s heart abruptly sank.  He recalled how sombre she looked just now.
 
“Don’t make such hasty decision …”  Xiang Zhe blurted out, “Time will cure all, I can wait for you and I will always wait for you …”
 
“Yin Xiang Zhe …”  Shan Mei’s eyes glistened with tears.  Her heart ached when he had to humble himself.
 
Shan Mei turned sideway and stood face to face with Xiang Zhe.
 
“Yin Xiang Zhe, can you repeat once what you said to me the other night?”
 
He stared at her and his heart was feeling unease.
 
“Shan Mei, I am willing to wait for you.  Please don’t feel any pressure, if not … please forget that I am waiting for you …”  Xiang Zhe said.  He was afraid to hear that she was rejecting him.
 
Shan Mei shook her head with tears glistened in her eyes, “I however can’t forget it no matter what …  Please … say those words again, can you?”
 
Xiang Zhe solemnly nodded.
 
He looked at her and said slowly:  “Shan Mei, can you let me cut in? .. I don’t want to stand in the long queue, I want to stand right behind you, I hope when you turn around you can see only me …”  He recited the words he had said before like a robot.  He had been so full of enthusiasm and anticipation when he first said these words to her, but now he felt like a person who had been convicted of a crime and further he had to stand in the defendant box making meaningless plea.  
 
“Yin Xiang Zhe … there is no one standing in front of you …”
 
Shan Mei’s small and soft voice drifted into Xiang Zhe’s ears.
 
Xiang Zhe abruptly raised his head, what did she just say?  Did he hear wrong?  He fixed his gaze on her.
 
“There is no one standing in front of you …”
 
He could see her eyes brimming with tears, but her lips were smiling.
 
“Shan Mei …”
 
Xiang Zhe was wild with joy and he grasped Shan Mei’s hands.
 
They strolled along the embankment.  The sun shone warmly on them and took away the bleak autumn chill.
 
“A moment ago, I thought you were going to reject me …”  He fixed his tender gaze on her.
 
“You didn’t have confidence in yourself?”
 
“I saw you looked very sombre when you walked towards the sea and I was so worried …”
 
“Do you know what I was thinking at that time?”
 
Xiang Zhe shook his head, “At that moment the expression on your face was identical to the one you were wearing when we met in the Youido Park that night.  I thought you must have remembered that man …”
 
Shan Mei gave a smile, “Actually at that moment I was scared …”
 
“Scared?”
 
“Right, scared.  I was scared that if I happened to remember that person when I stood there, I would have to leave you.”
 
Her eyes told him that she did not want to leave him.
 
At that moment, he knew her feeling towards him was not the slightest bit less than his.
 
That day, they did not go anywhere.  They just sat on the pier side soaking up the sun and enjoying the sea breeze.  They looked at each other, every glance exchanged and every smile shared – they all meant happiness.
 
In the evening, they returned to London.
 
“Don’t go until we have dinner!”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“I have promised my father to go home for dinner.”
 
“Tell you father then!”  Xiang Zhe refused to give up.
 
“Tell what?”
 
“Tell him that you are with me and have to go home later.”
 
“I came to London to spend time with my father, how can you ask me to leave him on his own at home!”
 
“Then you are cruel enough to abandon me behind?”
 
Shan Mei pouted prettily:  “Who abandons you?  I have spent the last two days with you!”
 
“I’m leaving for Seoul tomorrow …”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“You are so overbearing!”  Shan Mei muttered.
 
Shan Mei phoned her father.  Gui Cheng was still at work.
 
Xiang Zhe stood on one said and asked:  “Let’s invite your father to have dinner with us!”
 
Shan Mei glared at Xiang Zhe; he must be playing a joke!
 
“Pa, I won’t be home for dinner tonight …. Erh …”  Shan Mei took a look at Xiang Zhe and turned her back and lowered her voice to whisper to her father.
 
Xiang Zhe smiled and went to one side.  He stood at the leeward side and managed to faintly catch Shan Mei’s voice.
 
“Hmm … I am with Senior … What?  Bring him home for dinner … Aiyoo, Pa …!  We are not in that kind of relationship.  Will talk to you later … OK, I know … Bye Pa!”
 
“Permission granted?”  Xiang Zhe walked back to Shan Mei’s side.
 
“Huh.”
 
“OK, let’s have dinner with “Senior”!”  Xiang Zhe smilingly said.  He purposely emphasized on the word “Senior”.
 
Shan Mei blushed and smiled in embarrassment.
 
That night they had dinner in an Italian restaurant called “Cantina Del Ponte” which was situated on the South Bank of River Thames.  Looking out from the patio on the second floor, the London Tower and the Tower Bridge appeared right in front of one’s eyes.  It used to be a place where the yuppies loved to frequent, but since a few movies had filmed there, tourists flocked here in a swarm and it was always difficult to get a vacant seat there.
 
“After dinner, let’s go to take a ride on the London Eye.  I bet you haven’t ridden on it before.”
 
Shan Mei insisted to take Xiang Zhe to the London Eye which was the largest observation wheel built to commemorate millennium and now it had became the landmark of London.  
 
During this time of the year, the London Eye was only opened until 8:00 p.m., so the two of them ate their dinner in a hurry and rushed to the London Eye taking the underground metro.  When they got there, seeing the long queue there, Xiang Zhe frowned, “How long do we have to queue up here?”
 
“I have made advanced booking and we don’t need to wait long!”  Shan Mei waved the tickets in her hand.  The Embassy would distribute some tickets to each staff.  When she went out that morning, she thought she maybe able to make use of them, so she took them with her and she phoned in to make advance booking when they were in the restaurant.  She knew Xiang Zhe had made every effort to get a booking at Cantina Del Ponte.  She knew she had spoiled his pleasure when she urged him to finish his dinner in a hurry, but she really wanted to go with him to admire the night scenery of London up above the sky.  Today’s weather was exceptionally fine and in London it was rare to have a few days of such nice weather throughout the year.
 
The two of them was in the queue for about 20 minutes and got on the London Eye without a hitch.  There were three Japanese girls in the same capsules with them.  Following the slow ascent of the wheel, the scenery of the River Thames North Bank materialized before one’s eyes, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey as well as the other buildings appeared like toys underneath one’s feet.  The sparkling myriad of lights looked particularly romantic and fascinating under the night sky.
 
“When the weather is fine during daytime, we can even see Windsor Castle from here.”  Shan Mei said.
 
The three Japanese girls who were in the capsule with them suddenly giggled with laughter and their eyes were on Xiang Zhe.
 
Shan Mei quietly told Xiang Zhe:  “They are talking about you!”
 
“Really?  What are they saying?”
 
Shan Mei puckered in smile, “They said you are a very handsome guy.”
 
Actually she could only understand a few words and just pieced them together and guessed the meaning.
 
“And also?”  Xiang Zhe asked.
 
“I can only understand a few words …”
 
Xiang Zhe gave a smile.  As soon as these three Japanese entered into the capsules, they started discussing him and made critical remarks about his appearance.  They said they wished they could meet someone like him.  Xiang Zhe did not pay them any attention and only found it funny.  If they knew he could understand Japanese, they would not dare to talk in such a reckless and uninhibited way.  The three girls also talked about stories on observation wheels; they said there was a saying in Japan that if you traveled on the wheel and reached the highest point, you just need to read the name of your beloved six times, you could then spend the rest of your life with your beloved.
 
“They just said something very interesting …”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“So you can understand Japanese and you dare to feign ignorance!”  Shan Mei pouted her lips.
 
“They said when you reach the highest point of the wheel, you just need to read the name of your beloved six times and then you can spend the rest of your life with your beloved.”
 
“How can such a thing happen?  If it is true, then wouldn’t all the observation wheels in the world be jammed with people?”  Shan Mei believed otherwise.
 
A few minutes later, the capsule they were in reached the highest point.
 
“It is really very beautiful watching the scenery from here …”
 
Xiang Zhe could not help exclaiming, but there was no response from Shan Mei.  He turned around only to find Shan Mei with her palms held together before her chest, her eyes slightly shut and her mouth gently moved.
 
He closely looked at her beautiful and pious face and tender feeling was tugging in his heart.
 
Xiang Zhe closed his eyes and he repeated silently in his heart the name of the one he was besottedly in love with …
 
Shan Mei opened her eyes and saw in front of her a pair of smiling and tender eyes.  She shyly smiled, her each and every movement must have been caught by his eyes.
 
“What are you smiling at?”  She asked him.
 
“It is my first time to find that the night scenery of London can be so beautiful …”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“Really?”
 
“Yes.”  Xiang Zhe smilingly nodded.
 
The London sky, the London lights, the flowing water of River Thames and everything about London, all became so beautiful and attractive because of her.
 
Before the envious eyes of the three Japanese girls, Xiang Zhe tightly gripped Shan Mei’s hand.
 
“I will come to pick you up in the airport when you come back to Seoul.”
 
At Heathrow Airport, Xiang Zhe told Shan Mei who was there to see him off.
 
“There is no need, Xiu Wei Oppa will come to pick me up.”
 
“But I want to see you at the earliest opportunity.”
 
“There is not too much difference in the time.”
 
“Haven’t you ever heard that one single day seems as long as three years?  Come back quickly, I will miss you.”  He told her.
 
When Shan Mei found both of Xiang Zhe and Lee Xiu Wei appear before her in the Incheon Airport, she was too surprised to utter a word.  She did not know what Xiang Zhe said to Lee Xiu Wei and she did not want to know.  She only knew that she was very happy to see him.
 
“Miss Zhen, why are you smirking like an idiot?”  Lee Xiu Wei patted Shan Mei’s shoulder.
 
Shan Mei blushed, “I am just so happy to see you!”
 
“Really?”
 
“Have you ever heard that one single day seems as long as three years?”  Shan Mei asked.
 
Her eyes mingled with Xiang Zhe’s and Xiang Zhe’s mouth was grinning wild, his smile was more brilliant than the sunshine!
 
 - End of Chapter 11 -
 
Dear All, please accept my apologies for being a little late with this chapter.  Nho translated it well in advance, but I was too busy today to get online until now.


My Dearest One (Qin Ai De Ni) –

Chapter 12

By Jennifer

Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
Translated by Jules
 
Shan Mei rang Xiang Zhe the first thing in the morning.
“Will you be in the office at noon today?” she asked him.
Xiang Zhe had previously mentioned that he was going to the factory.
“Why do you ask?  Are you thinking about having a lunchtime date with me?” Xiang Zhe teased.
“In your dreams!  I’m snowed under with work at the moment.”
“If that’s the case, why are you asking?”
“It’s nothing really!  I just wanted to check if you were really hard at work…”
“Is that so?” Xiang Zhe smiled as a vision of her mischievious expression came into mind.
“Yes, it is!”
“Hmm!  Will you please come clean….I can’t concentrate on my work otherwise.” He asked.
“No way!  I’ve just changed my mind anyway.” She replied.
“Awww!  Don’t tell me you’re doing that just because I teased you about a lunchtime date….?”  Xiang Zhe moaned.
“You know just how petty I can be…”  Shan Mei teased, smothering a laugh.
“I surrender….I think I’m really in for it this time.  Attorney Zhen, please accept my most humble apologies…” Xiang Zhe’s laughter floated across the line.
“I’ve never seen someone laugh when they are offering their humble apologies!”
“Only I can do it because I have such a generous and understanding girlfriend.”
“It’s good that you know it.  Didn’t someone just complain that I was being petty?”
“I didn’t know what I was saying.  Please punish me as you see fit.  Will that be sufficient for Your Honour?”
Shan Mei laughed.
“Just make sure you give me a serious answer the next time I ask.”
“Yes Ma’am..!”
“What do you need from me at noon?”
“It’s only a small matter.  It won’t even take five minutes of your time.”
Shan Mei was tight lipped about it, and Xiang Zhe was unable to even guess at her motives.
 
“Why don’t you join me for lunch?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“No way….I have a few errands to run, and have no idea when I can make it there.  I don’t want you starving to death while waiting for me to turn up.”
Her answer was as Xiang Zhe expected.  Ever since their relationship became exclusive, Shan Mei had become more discreet.  She stopped coming over to his office, and their shared lunches along the Han River were few and far between.  She said she didn’t want to be caught out by her colleagues, and even forbade him to mention anything to Xiu Wei about their relationship.  He, on the other hand, was dying to shout it out and tell the world that she was his girl.
 
He asked Shan Mei why she wouldn’t even let Xiu Wei know.
Shan Mei replied, “I don’t want your relationship with Xiu Wei to be affected by me.”
“What do you mean by that?” Xiang Zhe could not understand where she was coming from.
“IF…If one day we break up, you will find your relationship rather strained.”
Xiang Zhe was completely exasperated when he heard.
“Will you please stop talking about stupid things that might never happen?” he rapped her on the head, “besides, friendships between us men are never so fragile as that.”
 
Xiang Zhe was in his office waiting expectantly.  It was only after 1pm that Shan Mei finally appeared.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t expect that traffic on the way here to be so bad…” Shan mei apologized.
“What have you been doing?  Just look at you.”
It was a cold winter’s day, but she was sweating.
“I didn’t want to delay your schedule this afternoon, so I ran here from the car.”
“I said I would wait for you.”
“I didn’t want you to wait too long.”  She replied gently.  She had made him wait around for her like a fool before.  She didn’t want to do it again.
 
“This is for you.”
Shan Mei put a large parcel in his hand.
“What’s this?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“It’s what I promised you.”
 
“You promised to give me this?”
Xiang Zhe smiled as he ripped off the wrapping.  It was “Love between the green leaves and the red brick wall”.
“I thought you had forgotten.”
It had been a while since they returned from London.  He assumed that she had forgotten by now.
Shan Mei smiled, but did not reply.
“Is it the light?  This painting seems a little different from the one we saw in Cambridge…” Xiang Zhe examined the painting.
“Is that so?” Shan Mei walked up to him and stood shoulder-to-shoulder.
“This painting seems to be much brighter…”
“Hey!  You’re pretty good!” Shan Mei looked at Xiang Zhe, impressed.
“What do you mean by that?”
Shan Mei smiled.  “This is another one I painted, not the one we saw in Cambridge..”
“You painted another one?”
“Mmm..” Shan Mei nodded, “I only finished it off last week.  I’ve just got it from the framer.”
“Why did you paint another one?”
“Because…I wanted it to reflect the feelings I have now.” Shan Mei’s lips lifted as she replied.
Xiang Zhe looked at her in appreciation, “You must be feeling really good right now….”
“How did you know that?” She asked, smiling.  
“The colours in the painting are much stronger and brighter; the leaves and the wall seem to be much more alive….it’s as if the leaves and the wall are embraced in a dance of happiness…..”
“Oh…” Shan Mei smiled at Xiang Zhe, her eyes full of happiness.  He was right.  She had painted the happiness and contentment of being in love into the picture.
 
“I will always treasure this.”
He knew every brushstroke contained her love for him.
 
“Please don’t tell me you haven’t yet had lunch?” Xiang Zhe said.
“Er…” Shan Mei demurred, “I didn’t really have enough time..”
“Hmmm, you little ….” Xiang Zhe shook his head in exasperation.
“I’ll go for lunch downstairs right this minute.” Shan Mei turned to go, hoping to avoid his admonishment.
“Come back here!” Xiang Zhe stopped her.
“What for?”
“How about some pizza?  I ordered enough for you…”
Xiang Zhe instructed his secretary, Miss Gu, to re-heat the pizza.  Shan Mei did not want to impose, and spent her time helping Miss Gu.
“I’m really sorry to trouble you like this Miss Gu.”
“That’s alright.  You’re our guest.”
Miss Gu was in her forties, about the same age as the secretary to her boss, Mr Wei.  However, Me Wei’s secretary had been serving him for many years, ever since she was a young lady.  She found it strange that Xiang Zhe’s company, which was only four or five years old, did not hire a younger lady.
“This is Miss Zhen’s second time here, isn’t it?”
“Er… yes.” Shan Mei smiled shyly, “You have a good memory.”
Miss Gu smiled, “Not really…. It’s just that you are the only female guest Mr Yin ever eats with in his office, and you’re so pretty, it’s hard for me to forget.”
Shan Mei patted her hair, embarrassed.  She indicated the appliances around them and said, “The facilities here are very impressive!”
She never expected the little pantry behind the secretary’s desk to be equipped with a stove, oven and microwave.
“Mr Yin often works very late.  These appliances are mainly for his use.”
Upon hearing this, Shan Mei felt rather sorry for Xiang Zhe.  Although her father was far away in London, she still had Auntie and her family to care for her.  Xiang Zhe only had his grandmother, who live far away in Jeju.  There was no one at his side to take care of him.
“Oh yes, I guess this must be for you…” Miss Bu retrieved a green salad from the fridge.
“Thank you”  Shan Mei accepted it with complete mortification.
“Mr Yin had been waiting for you, and did not have his lunch until one o’clock.” Miss Gu chuckled.
Shan Mei blushed a deep red.
 
“Wah!  You can really eat, woman!  You’ve eaten everything, including what I set aside for my supper…” Xiang Zhe teased.
Shan Mei finished off the pizza.
“What sort of host would complain about their guests eating too much?”  Shan Mei glared at him, “I’ll buy you supper tonight then!”
“Hey, I only made a little comment, and you come back at me with a whole book…”
“Didn’t I tell you already that I was petty….”  Shan Mei made a face at Xiang Zhe.
 
Shan Mei looked at the time and realized it was already 2pm.  “I really have to go,” she said.
The firm did not have a policy of clocking in and out.  As long as you completed the tasks you had on hand, no one would take note of your movements.  However, she would still feel uncomfortable if she took too much time over lunch.
 
“Just a minute!” Xiang Zhe called out.
“What is it?”
“There’s something I keep forgetting to return to you.”
“What sort of thing is that?” Shan Mei asked in consternation.
“This…”
Xiang Zhe took out a small, pale blue ceramic bottle from his breast pocket.
Shan Mei smiled delightedly when she saw the bottle.  It was the peppermint ointment she had given to him during their flight.  She had never expected for it to be returned.
“You still have this?” Shan Mei smiled.
“Yes!... and it’s time to return it to its owner”
Xiang Zhe presented the bottle to Shan Mei.
Without even a blink, Shan Mei noticed the red silk string that was still attached to it.  According to Auntie, red silk strings are used by the heavenly matchmaker to hold couples together.  Had the matchmaker already tied them together as a couple when she gave him the bottle?  If not, how was it that she ended up meeting him the very evening that she and Son Shuo Mao broke up?
 
“You keep it!  I never expected to have it back anyway.”
Xiang Zhe smiled, “You know, I really wanted to thank you that day after I got off the plane, but you had already disappeared.  After that, I would often look at this bottle wonder what its owner looked like.”
“That’s right,” Shan Mei teased, “When I was kind-heartedly asking after you, you didn’t even have the grace to look me in the eye.”
“Well, I was really feeling ill at the time!”
Shan Mei laughed, “That’s true, you really looked terrible that day.  If you didn’t look so bad, I wouldn’t have bothered trying to save a stranger.”
“If I hadn’t been so ill that day; if you hadn’t given me this bottle, we may never have met… It must be fate!”
Sweetness engulfed Shan Mei, “Do you believe in fate?” she asked.
“I do…”
He looked passionately into her eyes and held her hand tightly in his.
 
“Yin Xiang Zhe, promise me one thing…”
“What is it?”
“Promise me never to take that red silk string off the bottle…”
He didn’t understand what she was getting at, but nodded just the same, “Alright…I will always keep it in exactly as it was that night when you gave it to me.”
 
After Shan Mei left, as Xiang Zhe carefully re-wrapped “Love between the green leaves and the red brick wall”, he realized that the original title had been replaced by “If I were a fallen leaf, I would flutter with you; If I were a cloud, I would fly wherever you were.”  Those were the words of the poem he had read to her when they were in Cambridge together…. A contented smile stole onto his lips.
 
It was already 9pm by the time he arrived in Seoul.
Xiang Zhe’s mobile rang.  It was Shan Mei.
“Where are you?  At home?” She asked.
Xiang Zhe smiled, “I’m about 20 minutes away…hmm, I was just about to ring you!  So..you were missing me too?  We must be telepathic…”
“Who’s missing you….I was just checking to make sure you were not out gallivanting.”
“Woah!  Checking on me twice in a day?  Aren’t you being a little too much?”  Xiang Zhe loved their easy banter, and any trace of fatigue completely dissolved in the face of potential battle.
“If you can’t bear it, it’s still not too late to back out of this!” Shan Mei replied deviously.
“Are you joking?  I’ve always run towards danger, even when I know the devil is there.”
“Yin Xiang Zhe, are you saying I’m a devil?”
“Well….since you’re admitting to it, I won’t deny it either.”  Xiang Zhe roared with laughter.  If Shan Mei had been beside him then, he would not have dared utter such words to her.
“I’m not talking to you!” Shan Mei hung up.
Xiang Zhe smiled.  If he were to ring her now, she would probably extend the battle of wits.  Right at this moment, all he wanted was to hear her gentle, alluring voice.  Never mind, I’ll wait until I get home before ringing to pacify her.
 
As his car slid into the street, he saw a familiar figure in the distance.  He put his foot down and sped the rest of the way.
“Why are you standing out here?” Xiang Zhe was at her side in an instant.
Shan Mei was wearing  heavy coat with a scarf wrapped around her head, her face was chaffed from the cold.
“What took you so long?  Didn’t you say you weren’t far away?” she complained.
“I dropped into the office along the way..” He had collected some documents along the way, and had been delayed.
“How long have you been standing out here?”
“I’ve been waiting almost an hour.” Shan Mei replied dismally.
“Why didn’t you take a taxi?” Xiang Zhe asked as he saw her bicycle parked along the road.
“It isn’t far!” She had trouble hailing a taxi, and was afraid to miss him, so decided to ride her bicycle over.
“It’s cold out here.  Get into the car and we’ll talk.” Xiang Zhe curled his arm around her and lead her into the car.  “Why didn’t you just ring me?”
“If I did, it wouldn’t be a surprise any more.”
“Surprise? What surprise?”  he looked at her puzzled.
“This!” Shan Mei took a woollyy parcel out and gave it to him.
“What’s this?”
“Have a look for yourself.”
Xiang Zhe opened the woolly parcel and found a thermos in it.  When he opened the thermos, there were two pieces of kimji pancakes in it.
“Kimji pancake?” he exclaimed in surprise.
Shan Mei looked at him in discomfort, “When persuaded Auntie to make kimji pancake for me tonight…. Didn’t you say you had a craving for Auntie’s kimji pancakes?”
“Shan Mei...”  Xiang Zhe was moved.  He had mentioned this some time ago and never expected her to go to such lengths for him.
Shan Mei saw the expression on his face and laughed, “I promised I would buy you supper tonight… go on, eat it while it’s still hot.”
“Eat this one first…” Shan Mei pointed at the pancake on the left, which looked a little overdone.
Xiang Zhe finished off the pancakes in no time.
“How are they?”
“Really good.”
“Both pancakes were good?”
“Both were fantastic..”
“You’re not just saying it to please me?” Shan Mei looked at Xiang Zhe suspiciously.
“Why would I want to lie about something like this?  Auntie’s kimji pancakes are the best…”
“Heh, heh!” Shan Mei laughed in delight.
“What’s up?  Why are you so happy?”
“Nothing,” Shan Mei shook her head still smiling like a Cheshire cat.
Xiang Zhe looked at Shan Mei, and a thought flashed into his head, “You cooked one of those pancakes, didn’t you?”
“Mmmm…” Shan Mei nodded.
“Thank goodness I said both were fantastic.”
Shan Mei pouted, “I knew you were just trying to please me… it’s the first time I’m trying it..I couldn’t control the heat well enough, and it got a little burnt.”
“Good heavens! I was being completely honest!  Anyway, I like my pancakes a little burnt.  They are crispier that way.”
“Are you sure?” Shan Mei looked at him, half convinced.
“Of course!” Xiang Zhe nodded vehemently.
Shan Mei smiled sweetly, “You know just what to say… you had me hopping mad just now on the phone, and now you’re here telling me sweet nothings.  Just how did I end up with someone like you?”
“You can’t stay angry at me..” Xiang Zhe said smugly.
“And just what makes you so sure?” Shan Mei rolled her eyes at him.
“Of course I’m sure.  It’s because…” Xiang Zhe hesitated.
“Because what?”
“Because I know you love me.  You couldn’t bear to be angry at me for long….Am I right?”
“That may not be the case.” Shan Mei said stubbornly.
“Is that so?” Xiang Zhe put his face close to hers.  He could smell her soft fragrance, and something in him stirred.  Slowly, his lips approached hers….
Shan Mei blushed bright red, and buried her face in his chest.
“Shan Mei…” he looked at her passionately.
Shan Mei blushed shyly, shaking her head.
“We agreed.” She said softly.
“Alright, I’ll will honour our agreement.”  Xiang Zhe sighed softly as he firmly planted his lips on her forehead.
Shan Mei and he agreed that they would not kiss until they had known each other for six months; he had agreed to it easily then, but recently found himself thirsting for more.  It was only then he realized what he was in for.
“Are you…upset?” Shan Mei asked tentatively.  She herself had been sorely tempted in the face of his passion.
“A little upset, and a little glad…” she looked at him, troubled.  She did not understand.
He cupped her face gently, “I’m a little upset at myself for agreeing so easily to your strange, half-year hiatus…”
“Xiang Zhe..”
Xiang Zhe shook his head and stopped her from saying more, “I’m also happy because the one I love cherishes herself so much…”
“Xiang Zhe…”
She was grateful that he understood and respected her for that.
She had promised that she would not make him wait, but did this agreement of theirs end up making him wait, although in a different sense?  She did not know.
 
Shan Mei sat in the car with Xiang Zhe talking about everything and nothing.  Xiang Zhe could see that she did not want to leave him, and was secretly delighted.  A nightly bedtime phone call to her had already become an essential part of his life.  Even when he was abroad, he would still keep to this routine.  Sometimes, he would drop by at her place on his way home and ring her doorbell.  They would talk at the door for a few minutes before he went on his way.   She was his support.  Her sweet smile and warm words were the best way he knew to take away his fatigue and soothe his troubles.
 
It was already midnight by the time Xiang Zhe took Shan Mei back to her home.  Shan Mei was already asleep in the car.
“You’re home, Shan Mei.”  He let her sleep a little more before waking her.
“I fell asleep?” Shan Mei was embarrassed.
“You must be tired.” He gently rubbed her cheek, “You’d better go in quickly.”
“Goodnight.” She said
“Goodnight.”
He could see in her eyes that she could not bear to leave.
“I wish I didn’t have to let you go.” Xiang Zhe said.
Shan Mei cleared her throat, “Aren’t you being a little greedy…?
“Me?  Greedy?” Xiang Zhe tapped her on the nose, “Just who is the one who’s unwilling to go home..?”
Shan Mei smothered a chuckle.
“I’ll go now…”  Shan Mei said, as her feet were firmly planted, not moving an inch.
Xiang Zhe patted her on the shoulder, “Go on!  Otherwise you won’t be able to wake up in time tomorrow..”
“Mmm” Shan Mei nodded and smiled as she stared at him.
“What’s the matter, is there something on my face?”
Shan Mei shook her head, then suddenly reached over and kiss Xiang Zhe softly on his left cheek.  Xiang Zhe was stunned.
“Uh…”
Xiang Zhe recovered himself to pull Shan Mei into his arms, but she had already slipped away.
 
“Shan Mei”
“Huh?”  Shan Mei stopped and turned to look at him.
“Can you also make me some nori rolls?”
“Alright.” Shan Mei dazzled him with a smile as she nodded.
“Is that a promise?”
“That’s a promise.”
 
Xiang Zhe watched in rapture as her lithe body disappeared into the doorway.  Tonight, he was sure that she would feature in his dreams.
 
*****End of Chapter 12*****
 
 
Whew!  Got my backups running, so here it is!


My Dearest One –

Chapter 13

Written By Jennifer

Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
Translated by nho(CA)

 
The afternoon meeting took longer than expected.  When Shan Mei arrived at the school, she was already ten minutes late.  Fortunately the research course was nearly at its end and the agendas for these two Fridays were talks by some entrepreneurs who would share with the students some of their insight and experience when they founded their businesses.  So there was no need to borrow notes from other fellow students.
 
Shan Mei came to the lecture hall and planned to slip in through the back door in order not to attract attention.  She never thought that there was no back door to this lecture hall.  It looked as though she had to brace up to go through the front door and hoped she would not bump into some speaker who would use her as a diversion!
 
Shan Mei drew in a deep breath, knocked briefly on the door twice and pushed open the door to the lecture hall.
 
“Professor, I am sorry I am late.”  Shan Mei lowered her head; she bowed to the person on the platform and quickly walked towards the seats at the back   As she walked, she could not hear the speaker saying anything.  What was happening?  Could it be that this person wanted to wait for her to sit down before he continued with his speech?  Shan Mei got so nervous that she nearly missed a step and tripped.  This made her so embarrassed that her face flushed crimson.  The corner of her eyes caught an empty seat at the right hand side, so she hurriedly took the seat.
 
“Why are you so late today?”  Her neighbour, Yin Li from Samsung Corporation asked her.
 
“The meeting finished late.”  Shan Mei said.
 
“Miss Zhen Shan Mei, isn’t it?”
 
When Shan Mei heard that voice, she gave a start and raised her head.  Heavens!  The name on the class schedule was clearly another person’s name!
 
Shan Mei was stunned speechless, looking at the person on the platform.
 
“Hey, he is calling you!”  Yin Li nudged her arm against Shan Mei.
 
Shan Mei came back to the presence and stammered in reply:  “Yes … Right, I’m Zhen Shan Mei.”
 
Yin Li saw her dumbfounded look and taunted her:  “How is it?  Make your eyes goggled?”
 
Shan Mei glared at Yin Li and quietly asked:  “How come there is a sudden change of speaker?”
 
“The original speaker got ill and asked his friend to take over.  This man is called Yin Xiang Zhe and he is sooo handsome …”  Yin Li said excitedly.
 
“OK, since we are all here, let’s begin!”
 
Xiang Zhe said this to everyone present, but his eyes were on Shan Mei alone.
 
So he was waiting for her … Shan Mei stuck out her tongue in embarrassment.  Xiang Zhe watched this action and smilingly touched his forehead.  Didn’t she know that she looked so adorable with those little acts of her?
 
“He looks so enchanting when he smiles!”  Yin Li’s face was full of admiration.
 
This Shan Mei was really a mischief maker, one moment she would smile at him foolishly from down below and the next moment she would frown at him, or otherwise she would assume an air of approbation and wore a look of infatuation.  His concentration was often involuntarily attached by her, making him forget what he was supposed to say in the next sentence.  He really wanted to ask her to stay out of the lecture hall and not to continually disturb his state of mind.  Anyway she was virtually not concentrating on what he was talking about.
 
After the talk, the applause was thunderous.  Shan Mei clapped her hands until they became reddened.  She only heard about half of Xiang Zhe said and the rest of the time she was daydreaming.
 
“This Yin Xiang Zhe is really a dead gorgeous guy!”  Several other females whispered in each other’s ears.
 
After the class was dismissed, Xiang Zhe was surrounded by some the students who tried to seek his advice on certain questions and exchanged business cards with him.  Shan Mei waved her hand at Xiang Zhe and left first.  It looked as though it would be a good while before Xiang Zhe would not be able to escape.
 
“Fellow student Zhen, you shouldn’t be leaving by yourself first?  Please wait for me!”  He gave her a call and sounded agitated.
 
Shan Mei broke into laughter, “Don’t worry, I won’t leave your behind … I will wait for you in the car park.  Where did you park your car?”
 
“Please don’t.  It’s very cold outside …”  He noticed that she was only wearing a thin coat.
 
“So then you won’t let me wait for too long!”  Shan Mei said mischievously.
 
“It’s really hard to win an argument with you … I have parked my car at lot No. B10.”
 
“Got it, Professor Yin.”
 
When Shan Mei just bypassed the corridor, someone called her from behind.  She turned around and found it was some of her male classmates.
 
“What’s up?”  Shan Mei found it strange.
 
“This …”  That man took out a manila envelope and said breathlessly:  “This … is from today’s speaker, Mr. Yin who asked you to give it to your colleague, Mr. Lee Xiu Wei …”
 
Shan Mei found it funny.  What was Xiang Zhe playing at to turn Xiu Wei Oppa into her colleague?
 
“Thank you for the trouble.”
 
Shan Mei waited until that man turned around and left before she opened up the manila envelope and found Xiang Zhe’s car keys inside.  Shan Mei smiled sweetly, he was afraid that she would catch a cold …
 
“Thank you, the clever and thoughtful Professor Yin!”  Shan Mei softly said.
 
Approximately 20 minutes later, Xiang Zhe could then make his escape and came back.
 
“I’m sorry to make you wait so long!”  Xiang Zhe apologized.
 
“I am about to send out a special ad hoc troop to rescue you.”  Shan Mei teased Xiang Zhe.
 
“Yes, I eagerly hoped and awaited you to come to rescue me …”  Xiang Zhe patted Shan Mei’s face indulgently.
 
“What happened?  Did any of the girls ask for your signed photos or your telephone numbers?”  Shan Mei slanted a look at Xiang Zhe.
 
“Huh, it seems someone is jealous?”  Xiang Zhe smilingly looked at Shan Mei.
 
“I won’t have time to engage in such boring business!”  Shan Mei pouted.
 
“Wow, how disappointing!”
 
Shan Mei glared at Xiang Zhe and muttered: “Nonsense!”
 
“You didn’t tell me that you were coming today and it gave me such a fright!”  Shan Mei grumbled to Xiang Zhe.
 
“I was asked by my friend at the last minute and I only got to know it was your class when I came here …”  Xiang Zhe looked at Shan Mei and smilingly said:  “It was the first time when I acted as a speaker and never thought that my girlfriend didn’t show up until a quarter of an hour late.  You didn’t even give me the face …”
 
“I was late getting out of the meeting!”
 
“Hey, you didn’t pay enough attention during class!  Not to say being absent-minded, you always smiled idiotically at me … Don’t tell me you are like this when you attend classes?”
 
Shan Mei flushed and argued:  “I didn’t do that!”  
 
“You nearly caused me a disaster …”
 
“What disaster?”
 
“What disaster?”  Xiang Zhe patted Shan Mei’s head, “You made me lose my concentration …, a beautiful girl smiling foolishly at me.  When I lost my concentration, and for a few times, I nearly forgot what I was supposed to say in the next sentence.”
 
“I would have thought your concentration power is very strong.”  She jeered at him.
 
“You are my only weakness.”  Xiang Zhe laughingly said.
 
“Then I am thrice blessed.”  Shan Mei puckered in smile.
 
“Aye, why didn’t I see the man I met last time?”
 
“What man?”
 
“The man who insisted to take you home?”
 
Shan Mei shook her head and said: “I didn’t pay any attention!”
 
Xiang Zhe lifted the corners of his mouth and laughed.
 
“What’s so funny?”  She asked him.
 
“Because … I am very happy.”
 
“What makes you happy?”  Shan Mei asked him, finding it funny.
 
He looked at her, his eyes full of tenderness and smilingly said:  “I can’t really explain.  I just feel very happy.”
 
He was happy because she looked at him with all her heart.
 
“Put out your hand and let me see …”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“What for?”  Shan Mei’s face was filled with questions.
 
“Just give it to me …”  Xiang Zhe gripped Shan Mei’s hand, “Huh … it’s warm.”  Xiang Zhe said with satisfaction.
 
“What are you doing?”  Shan Mei smilingly asked.
 
“I don’t want you to catch a cold.”
 
“Your car is air-conditioned.  If it is cold, wouldn’t I have turned on the heat?”
 
“What you said is very rational …”  Xiang Zhe smilingly shook his head, “However, last time there was a fool of a girl who got so cold with a running nose and even then she had to prove her overweening confidence and refused to turn on the heat and as a result she had to stay in bed for a couple of days …”
 
“No pain, no gain.  That fool of a girl has now learned from her mistake.”  
 
“Then I can worry less …”
 
Xiang Zhe tightly held on to Shan Mei’s hand, with ten fingers crossing together and their hearts beating as one.  She loved the feeling of being gripped tightly by his broad and thick palms, as if a hot current flowed directly from his palm into her heart, making her feel so secured and so warm.  
 
He starred at her crimson face and his heart was filled with blessed happiness.
 
“This ring … do you think it’s time to take it out?”  Xiang Zhe pointed to the ring on Shan Mei’s left ring finger.  She was still wearing the ring they bought in Itaewon.
 
Shan Mei shyly smiled.
 
That was the ring he bought her and she was unwilling to take it out.  In her heart, that was a ring with significant value.
 
“You wouldn’t say that you still haven’t met anyone you care for?”  He purposely teased her.
 
She had once mentioned that if and when she met someone she cared for, she would be good and take out that ring.
 
“This ring is very pretty … and I don’t want to take it out.”  Shan Mei said with a crimson face.
 
Although Shan Mei’s excuse was not too brilliant, it made Xiang Zhe mad with joy.  Before he brought her another ring, he wished she would never take this one out.
 
In the atmosphere of emotional entwinement, a strong current of longing was brazing bright in Xiang Zhe’s heart and under the passionate burning eyes of Xiang Zhe, Shan Mei gently withdrew her hand.  “Let’s go, the school is about to close.”  Shan Mei said.
 
Xiang Zhe looked as if cold water was poured on his head.  “OK  …”  Xiang Zhe responded in a low voice.
 
Hadn’t she ever felt the same passion and longing before?  Xiang Zhe was feeling perplexed.
 
She could see how disappointed he was.
 
“We have a long way to go!”  Shan Mei said, her voice was filled with extreme tenderness.
 
Under Shan Mei’s gentle and sweet smile, Xiang Zhe suddenly saw the light.  Yes, they still had a long long way to go together!
 
“With the two of us to keep each other company, we will be there in no time.”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
Shan Mei smilingly nodded, “Thank you for patiently accompanying me in this journey.”  She told him.
 
“Ditto.”
 
No matter how uneven and meandering the road ahead was, no matter what pace Shan Mei chose to go, he would always follow her each and every move.
 
Xiang Zhe lightly stepped on the accelerator and the car sped away.
 
“You are doing your homework in the car?”  Shan Mei picked up and waved the report in her hands at Xiang Zhe.
 
Xiang Zhe placed the report on the front seat of the car.  Shan Mei picked it up and glanced at it cursory while waiting for Xiang Zhe.  
 
“These are the interim results which came out this afternoon.”
 
“The results … are not good?”  She asked him.
 
Several places on the report were circled in red.
 
“Business has declined a little when compared with the same quarter last year … There was a severe competition in the market this year.”
 
“It doesn’t matter, it will be better in the next quarter.”  She gave him encouragement.  
 
Xiang Zhe shook his head, “Have you ever heard about “destitute May and hopeless June”?”
 
“What do you mean?”  Shan Mei asked.
 
“That means businesses are usually bad in May and June.  The second quarter in the electronics industry is a low season and usually the situation is not too optimistic.”
 
“Then what are you going to do?”  Shan Mei worriedly looked at Xiang Zhe.
 
Xiang Zhe shrugged and said, completely at ease:  “It doesn’t matter, just work harder and visit our customers a few more times and try to regain the loss in the third quarter.”  He did not want her to get worried, “Aye, don’t frown … That is why I just don’t like to talk to you about this … Really, you always love to worry about nothing.”
 
Xiang Zhe gently pinched Shan Mei’s face.
 
“I just care about you …”  Shan Mei pouted.
 
Xiang Zhe looked at Shan Mei affectionately, “I know … I know you care about me.  I’m thrilled by the fact that you worry about me!  … Please don’t worry, I am negotiating some contracts with potential clients …”
 
“Really?”  Shan Mei revealed a smiling face.
 
“Yes.”
 
“That is wonderful!  … Is everything proceeding smoothly?”
 
“We are making every effort.”  Xiang Zhe answered with ease, but he did not know that his slightly pressed eyebrows were witnessed by Shan Mei.
 
“Keep fighting.”  Shan Mei smilingly said.  She could not do anything to help and all she could do was to give him encouragement.
 
“I will.”  Xiang Zhe nodded.
 
…………………………
 
The car drove into crowded shopping areas and Shan Mei suddenly laughed when she watched the scenery outside.
 
“What makes you so happy?”
 
“Yin Xiang Zhe, I have just thought of a good way to increase your company’s revenue.  Although it sounds a bit unorthodox, perhaps you don’t need to work so hard to scramble for orders from clients …”  Shan Mei gave a wacky smile.
 
“Really?  Come on tell me.”  Xiang Zhe was in a happy mood.  Shan Mei looked so adorable in the way she smiled.  He wondered what kind of eccentric ideas she thought of this time?
 
“That is …”  Shan Mei burst out laughing, “Your company can spend a lump sum on lottery tickets.  I heard that the jackpot for this week’s lotto has accumulated up to nearly $100 million won.  If you won, you no longer need to worry about the quarterly results …”
 
Xiang Zhe laughed heartily.  “I will go and discuss this with our financial manager.”  Xiang Zhe said.  
 
At this moment, he tossed that annoying quarterly results out from his mind.  She always knew how to cheer him up.
 
“I have received an invitation from your office to attend the reception celebrating your firm’s anniversary.  Lawyer Jiang delivered it to me himself this morning.”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
Shan Mei’s firm was organizing a reception next month in celebration of its 10th year anniversary in Seoul.
 
“Are you coming?”
 
“If I am not out of town on a business trip, I will certainly attend.  I want to get to know more of your colleagues …”
 
Shan Mei was very happy.
 
“Hey, you are prohibited to say something inappropriate there!”  Shan Mei told Xiang Zhe.
 
“What would I say that is inappropriate?”  Xiang Zhe did not know whether to laugh or cry.
 
“Like …, aiyoo!  You!”  Shan Mei pommeled Xiang Zhe once.
 
“Is it about …. not broadcasting to everyone that you are my girlfriend?”
 
He had to ask something he already knew the answer!  Shan Mei glared at Xiang Zhe.
 
“Aye, what is your impression of Cui Xiu Ying?”
 
“Who?”  Xiang Zhe asked.
 
This name sounded familiar and he could not recall anything all of a sudden.
 
“Cui Xiu Ying, the lawyer in our office who is responsible for your company!”
 
“Oh!  She!”  Xiang Zhe finally remembered, “I have only met with her a couple of times.  Usually it’s our legal department that makes contact with her …, why do you suddenly mention her name?”
 
“You really don’t have any taste!”  Shan Mei said.
 
“What?”
 
“She is our firm’s No. 1 beauty!”
 
“Really?  Then I need to have a good look at her the next time.”  Xiang Zhe grinned.
 
Shan Mei pouted.
 
“Darn, it looks someone is angry …”  Xiang Zhe said with his mouth lifted at the corners.
 
“I am not that narrow-minded.  You are annoying, it’s the second time today that you said I am jealous … you make sound like I am a vinegar pot!”
 
“What’s so bad about being jealous?”
 
“What?”
 
“Getting jealous means you care about me.  If you are not jealous, then I will start to get worried.”
 
“What a ridiculous idea!”  Shan Mei could not help laughing aloud.
 
“Rest assured, I only love the beauty right before me.”  Xiang Zhe winked at Shan Mei.
 
Shan Mei burst out laughing.
 
“Hey, you got yourself into trouble, don’t you know?”
 
“Me in trouble?”
 
“It seems Cui Xiu Ying has a liking for you.”
 
“What?”
 
“She admires you.  A couple of days ago when a few of us had lunch together, we had to listen to her bragging about you.  Wow, she knows so much about you, like what school you were in, when you went to further your studies abroad, the ways and steps you set up your business … she knows everything in details.”  Shan Mei sounded very jeolous.
 
“Didn’t you tell her that I am emotionally attached to someone?”
 
“I wish to stick a note on myself saying “Yin Xiang Zhe is mine” Shan Mei said.
 
“I’ve got paper and a pen with me …”  Xiang Zhe said with a face beaming with laughter.
 
 
Shan Mei did not have a class the next day and so they went to watch a midnight movie.
 
They watched a movie about family love and ethics called “The Way Home”.  The story was about a 7 years’ old boy who went to a remote village to live with his mute grandmother.  The interactions between the grandson and his grandmothers during the sequence of events caused waves of laughter and misery which made Shan Mei laugh one moment and shed tears the next.
 
When they came out from the cinema, Shan Mei discovered Xiang Zhe’s eyes were red-rimmed.
 
He must have thought of his grandmother.  Xiang Zhe was brought up by his grandmother since he was little.
 
Shan Mei tightly held on to Xiang Zhe’s hand and silently walked with him.  Under the pale yellow street light, their shadows seemed to be towed extra long.
 
“I never thought that I would behave like you …”  Xiang Zhe laughed in embarassment.
 
“You were thinking of your grandma?”
 
Xiang Zhe nodded and there was a hint of sorrow on his handsome face.
 
“When I was little, my mom was busy working and it was Grandma who took care of me …”
 
Xiang Zhe’s mother’s family home was in Gyeongju and after she was separated from Xiang Zhe’s father, she took Xiang Zhe back to Gyeongju to live with Xiang Zhe’s grandmother until Xiang Zhe reached senior high.  Xiang Zhe’s mother wanted to let Xiang Zhe have a better study environment, so she arranged for Xiang Zhe to apply for the high schools in Seoul.  Xiang Zhe did not disappoint anyone and successfully got enrolled into a school of his first choice, so mother and son then left their native land and returned to Seoul.
 
“When I was little, my Grandma always left the goodies for me to eat and the best for me to wear.  At that time, I was very naughty and always a troublemaker.  Very often my mom would get so mad that she would chase me around with a cane and it was always Grandma who shielded me from the beatings …  When I was in elementary school, Grandma worried about my safety and no matter whether it was rain or storm, she would always wait for me punctually at the bus stop at the foot of the hill and take me home … Once I was too fond of playing that I delayed the time of going home.  As a result Grandma waited for me there all the time and did not dare to leave.  Also, once I fell in love with a model aeroplane and knowing that we couldn’t afford it, so I borrowed it from my classmate and took it home.  Grandma saved money from scratch and bought me that model aeroplane as my birthday gift …”  Xiang Zhe’s eyes were shining with tears.  
 
Shan Mei’s eyes were also red-brimmed and she said to Xiang Zhe:  “Yin Xiang Zhe, can I hold you?”
 
“Now?”  He looked at her in surprise.
 
“That’s right, now.”
 
Not waiting for Xiang Zhe’s reply, Shan Mei gently wrapped her arms around Xiang Zhe.
 
“Yin Xiang Zhe, we don’t have our mothers, but you have your grandma and I have my father and Auntie, so we are blessed and God still loves us …”
 
Her body was slender, but it gave him incomparable warmth.
 
On their way home, when they passed a convenient store, Shan Mei said she wanted to get something from the store.
 
“Didn’t you say that you were buying something?”  Xiang Zhe saw that Shan Mei came back empty handed and asked in surprise.
 
Shan Mei smilingly shook her head.
 
Before she alighted from the car, Shan Mei took out a red packet from her handbag and gave it to Xiang Zhe, “For you.”  She said to him.
 
“What is it?”
 
“Don’t laugh at me.”  Shan Mei said.
 
Xiang Zhe opened the red packet, inside was two lottery tickets.  Xiang Zhe stared at her with his heart beating rapidly.
 
“It’s the first time in my life that I ever bought lottery tickets.”  Shan Mei said.
 
Before she went in, she said to him:  “Yin Xiang Zhe, if you won, please remember to give me a good treat!”
 
Xiang Zhe tightly held on to the two lottery tickets and the smile did not fade from his face for a long long time.
 
He felt so blessed because he had her.
 
His life was enriched because of her; he was happy because of her and he was full of energy because of her.
 
- End of Chapter 13 -


My Dearest One (Qin Ai De Ni) –

Chapter 14

By Jennifer

Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
Translated by Jules

 
Shan Mei stood at the greeting area near the entrance, waiting and waiting.  Still she did not see any sign of Xiang Zhe.  This was the third time she had come out to look for him.  She was really looking forward to seeing him at the cocktail party.  Xiang Zhe had arrived back from New York that morning, and went straight to the office for a series of meetings.  She could imagine how tired he would be after all that, and she couldn’t wait to see the delight in his face.  She read the news in the papers that afternoon and sent him a message.  He must have been very busy, as he had not yet replied to it.
 
“Shan Mei, we are about to start.  You should really go in.” her colleagues told her.
“I know.” Shan Mei gave one last glance down the corridor, and went in.
 
Xiang Zhe was late.  He heard that sweet, familiar voice the minute he walked in.  He followed that voice, and found Shan Mei standing on stage, beaming at him.  She looked really different today….
 
“Lawyer Zhen, I almost didn’t recognize you the way you are dressed today.  When you were on stage, I was dazzled by you and hastened to ask the people around who that beauty on stage was….heh, heh!” her clients teased.
“Please don’t tease me, Sir!” Shan Mei smiled shyly.  She was not comfortable with being complimented so directly.
“Mr Zhang is absolutely right, you have my vote as well… Lawyer Zhen, are you attached?” Another client joined in.
 
When she finally managed to escape her clients’ attention, Shan Mei filled her plate and hid in a corner to eat.  She had been too busy to eat anything more than one sandwich that day, and was now starving.
 
“Aha! So you’re hiding here, secretly nibbling away….”
Shan Mei’s spirits rose when she heard that voice.  She turned around and flung herself into Xiang Zhe’s arms, almost knocking him over.
“Just look at how happy you are at the sight of me.” Xiang Zhe casually wrapped his arms around her.
“You’re incorrigible!” Shan Mei hurriedly wriggled her way out of his grasp.
“Don’t worry! No one’s looking.”
“Oh no…” Shan Mei frowned.  The icing on the cake in her plate had messed up Xiang Zhe’s suit.
“All it needs is a little wipe.”Xiang Zhe replied nonplussed.
Shan Mei borrowed a damp towel from one of the waiters and helped Xiang Zhe wipe his suit down.
“Alright, that should do…” Shan Mei examined her work closely, “the lighting is pretty dim here, so it won’t be obvious.  Don’t forget to take it to the laundry down the street after this…”
“I wish you had just tipped the whole plate down my suit.” Xiang Zhe said.
“What are you talking about?” Shan Mei glared at him.
“If you had done that, you would have spent the rest of the evening here with me, trying to wipe my suit down.” Xiang Zhe replied, tongue in cheek.
“Only in your dreams!”
“One needs to have dreams in order to achieve great deeds, don’t you think?”
Shan Mei chuckled, “I don’t think you can achieve much by day-dreaming, though”
 
“When did you arrive?” Shan Mei asked.
“You were doing the introductions when I arrived…. Hey, you didn’t tell me you were going to be on stage tonight, otherwise, I would have made sure I got here on the dot.”
“Well…” Shan Mei made a face, “it’s was a last minute arrangement…”
Zhen Zhan Ting told her she had to be the master of ceremonies tonight, just before she left work last night.  He had made the excuse that she had previous experience as she had done similar events in school.  When she got home, she had turned her closet upside down and found this dress which she had worn for her graduation ball in Cambridge.  She had even gone to get her hair done that afternoon for the event.
“You look fabulous when you’re dressed like this.” Xiang Zhe said.
Xiang Zhe’s eyes roved over Shan Mei who was in a little black dress with her hair swept up in a chignon, looking sexy and sensual.  She was mesmerizing, and it didn’t surprise him that a crowd of men were constantly milling about around her tonight.
Xiang Zhe’s scrutiny made Shan Mei blush.
“Can you please not look at me that way?” Shan Mei asked breathlessly.
Looking at how shy she was, Xiang Zhe secretly smiled.  It was difficult to believe this blushing beauty was actually a lawyer by trade.  He had bumped into her several times when she had been in meetings with clients, and she had been all business….or was it….could it be that she only reserved this gentle, demure side of her for him alone?  Xiang Zhe’s smile widened at the thought.
“I’m not the only one here looking at you…” Xiang Zhe cast a sweeping glance around the room, and said sourly, “Can you also please tell all those guys not to buzz around you like a bunch of flies?”
“What flies…?” Shan Mei smothered a laugh, “I can only see this very large fly who is standing in front of me right now, and who loves vinegar (Translator’s note:  To drink vinegar means to be jealous, and Shan Mei is indicating that Xiang Zhe is being too jealous).”
“A little vinegar is good for health.” Xiang Zhe replied blithely.
“In that case, I should try to give you a little more of the stuff,” Shan Mei egged him.
“You’re getting more and more out of hand.” Xiang Zhe shook his head.
“I can’t help it.  It’s the company I keep.”
“I give up.  I can’t out-wit you, Lawyer Zhen.” Xiang Zhe replied easily.  He loved battling his wits against hers.
“Oi!  Do you know that man over there?”
“Which man?” Shan Mei looked in the direction that Xiang Zhe indicated.
“Oh, he’s gone…” Xiang Zhe looked around for a moment, but could no longer find him in the sea of faces.  “He kept looking at you, and I thought he might have been my rival in love.”
The man was about the same age as he was, and had kept his eyes peeled on Shan Mei.  He was not comfortable with that look of his.
“Should I be comforted that you’re so vigilant in watching out for me?” Shan Mei raised her eyebrows.
“How could you say I was watching out for you?”  
“I actually think the words are very appropriate when describing you…”
 
“I’d better be getting back, otherwise Mr Jiang might send out a search party soon.”
“Aren’t you exaggerating just a little?” Xiang Zhe laughed.
“One must do what one must do…”
The two of them returned to the cocktail party.
 
“I received your message today..” Xiang Zhe smiled.
“Is it true what the papers said?” Shan Mei asked.
The paper had reported that Chamsung had landed a very large contract.
“Mmm…” Xiang Zhe was jubilant, “Hey, when did you start reading the manufacturing news?”
Shan Mei smiled but did not reply.  Eversince they met, she had been interested in everything that concerned him.
“Thank you.” Xiang Zhe said.
“What for?”
“It was you who brought me luck…”
“You say that as if it were really true..” Shan Mei rolled her eyes at him.
“But it is!”
“MD Yin! When did you arrive?  Let me first apologise for not noticing..”
Jiang Zhan Ting appeared, cutting off their conversation.
“Don’t mention it.  I know how busy you are today.” Xiang Zhe said as they shook hands.
“So you’re here hiding away, Shan Mei…Counsel Li of Daesang Electronics was just looking for you.”Jian Zhan Ting told Shan Mei.
“I’ll go and see him then.” Shan Mei glanced at Xiang Zhe and left.
 
The firm took this cocktail party very seriously, and each member of staff had been allocated an area in which to entertain their clients, in order to make sure they were all well taken care of.  In addition to this, Shan Mei also had to undertake the role of Master of Ceremonies.  She spent the night running on and off the stage, circulating amongst her clients.  By the end of the evening, she had started to feel a little unwell and took a little break to compose herself.  Shan Mei did not like events like these, and tonight was so much worse because her role on stage made her stand out even more from the crowd.  While in London, her father often made her accompany him on diplomatic parties, where she would make an appearance, then disappear at the earliest opportunity.
 
After working her way around the room, Shan Mei turned her head toward where she last spotted Xiang Zhe, but he was no longer there.  She craned her neck, scanning the room for him.  Finally, her eyes found his.  As he smiled at her, a sliver of sweetness stole into her heart.  Had he been watching her all along?
 
Cui Xiu Ying was standing next to Xiang Zhe, and the two of them were deep in conversation.  Shan Mei winked at Xiang Zhe, then continued with her “duties”.  Even though she did not like it, she was determined to put in her best effort.  It was Cui Xiu Ying’s “duty” to entertain Xiang Zhe tonight.  Shan Mei wondered if she would take this opportunity to try and get closer to Xiang Zhe, the way she indicated previously.  Shan Mei was not worried in the least about this.  She trusted Xiang Zhe implicitly.
 
“You two know each other?” Cui Xiu Ying asked in surprise as she appeared beside Shan Mei.
“What?” Shan Mei was taken aback by the sudden question.  
“You and MD Yin Xiang Zhe seem to know each other.”
“He… was my cousin’s classmate.” Shan Mei hedged.
“He’s running after you, isn’t he?” Cui Xiu Ying looked at her speculatively.
“Senior Cui…” Shan Mei’s ears burned.
“He was watching you all the time while he was talking with me….”
“Senior…”
“You can tell from the outset if a man is not interested in you.  Although Yin Xiang Zhe was extremely polite when we spoke, I knew right away I didn’t even stand a chance with him…..Huh! He’s an excellent catch.  Make sure you don’t lose him!  If you ever decide to let him go, I’ll will be the first in line to try my luck!” Cui Xiu Ying said.
 
Cui Xiu Ying assessed the situation very well, and Shan Mei felt extremely uneasy.  Oh that Xiang Zhe!  I’ve told him a million times to be more discreet!  In all honesty, it wasn’t all his fault.  She had also sought out his gaze and could not bear to pull it away from his.  Did being in love automatically make you unable to control yourself?  She really needed to make more of an effort to distance herself from him, in case anyone else caught on, and made a laughingstock out of them.
 
Shan Mei saw the last of her clients off, and bade farewell to the lawyer in charge.  She had finally finished her work for the day.  She asked a passing waiter for a glass of water and made her escape to the open balcony.  A swift shadow followed her.  It was Xiang Zhe.
“Hey! Are you playing hide and seek with me?  Everytime I try to approach you, you run out on me.” Xiang Zhe grumbled.
“It’s your own fault for not being more discreet.” Shan Mei retorted in a low tone.
“What?” Xiang Zhe did not hear her clearly.
“So, what did you think of her?” Shan Mei looked askance at Xiang Zhe.
“What did I think of who?”
“Miss Cui Xiu Ying, who else?”
Xiang Zhe chuckled but did not reply.
“Why aren’t you answering my question?”
“Being the smart young man that I am, I know better than to discuss any other woman in front of my girlfriend.”
“And when did you suddenly become so smart?”
“Have you forgotten I have a lawyer for a girlfriend?”
“Are you implying that you’ve been enlightened because of my presence?”
“No, it’s because of your bad influence.”
“There is nothing bad in me to influence you with” Shan Mei replied glibly. “Anyway, you haven’t answered my question.”
Xiang Zhe put his hand to his forehead and exclaimed, “I really don’t know what to do with you…”
“Well?  Is she pretty?”
“Ummm….” Xiang Zhe picked his words carefully, “Miss Cui is…pretty and charming, but…she’s not my type.”
“Oh?” Shan Mei chuckled, “What exactly is your type then?”
”I like the sort who…is unreasonable, loves to argue, blushes for no reason, cries uncontrollably when watching sad movies….you know the sort I mean?” he looked at her meaningfully.
Shan Mei flushed.
“Why is it so hot here?” She fanned herself with her hand.
Xiang Zhe’s lips twitched in a smile.  He loved watching her when she was embarrassed.
“Mr Jiang was just asking me about you…”
“What was he asking about?” Shan Mei asked anxiously.  Surely Mr Jiang didn’t also guess at their relationship?
Xiang Zhe laughed out loud, “Stop being so nervous!  He only asked me how we knew each other.”
“What did you say?”
“I told him your name had always been ringing in my ears…” Xiang Zhe teased her.
“Aiyo!  What rubbish did you spout?”
“It’s all true!  Ever since Xiu Huan and I became friends, he would talk about his cousin, and what she had been doing all the time… your name was always ringin in my ears!” Xiang Zhe explained reasonably.
“Yin Xiang Zhe!  You’re a scoundrel!” Shan Mei didn’t know what else to do but to punch him in the shoulder.
“Ouch! That hurts!” Xiang Zhe put on a show, and rubbed his shoulder.
He actually told Jiang Zhan Ting that he knew Shan Mei through Xiu Huan in order to avoid putting her in any difficult situation.
 
The cocktail party ended at 9pm.  Shan Mei stayed behind with her colleagues to pack up.  Xiang Zhe waited for her in the carpark.
 
When Shan Mei arrived at the appointed spot, she saw Xiang Zhe talking to someone, and hesitated.  Xiang Zhe spotted her and ended his conversation before making his way towards her.
“That was Han Guo Qiang.  You’ve met him before.”
Xiang Zhe pulled her towards Han Guo Qiang.  Guo Qiang and he often played basketball together.
 
Guo Qiang took one look at the two of them and smiled, “ Xiang Zhe, it looks like you’ve progressed very quickly.”
Shan Mei turned red.
“Xiang Zhe, why don’t you bring Shan Mei along on Saturday so we can all get to know her better?”
“Umm..” Xiang Zhe looked at Shan Mei.
“We are getting together on Saturday afternoon.  A friend of ours is about to got to France to participate in the Superbike race, and we’re holding a party for him.  Please come with Xiang Zhe if you can.”  Guo Qiang did not wait for Xiang Zhe and made the request himself.
Shan Mei was too embarrassed to reject, and nodded her head.
 
“What’s the Superbike race?” Shan Mei asked when they got into the car.
“It’s a race for large engine motorbikes.”
“Large engine bikes?  Are those something like the Harleys we see on TV?”
“Yes.”
“Isn’t that very dangerous?”
Shan Mei remembered the excitement and air of danger when watching the F1 races in London with a friend.  She saw with her own eyes when two bikes collided and ended up in a ball of flames, and could not imagine how it would feel of the driver was friend or family.
“What sort of race would not have an element of danger in it?  It’s not as dangerous as you think.  You basically take all possible measures to ensure the safety of the driver at all times…”  Xiang Zhe replied casually.  “Unless you’ve seen it for yourself, it is impossible to describe the atmosphere, that feeling of excitement and glory when the crowd cheering you on.  It’s every man’s dream…” Xiang Zhe explained passionately, his eyes ablaze.
“But..”
Xiang Zhe saw how uneasy Shan Mei was, and reigned in his feelings, “Let’s not talk about that.  Let me buy you a lemon tea.”
“What for?”
“Didn’t’ you say that the person who won a prize would have to treat the other?”
“Did you really win?” Shan Mei shrieked.
“Yes!”
“Which prize did you win?”
“Enough to buy you lemon tea for a year.”
Shan Mei immediately started to count, “800 by 365…”  She looked up at Xiang Zhe, “Are you buying for one or two?”
Xiang Zhe looked at the pleasure in her face and could not help smiling as well. “Of course it’s for two!”
“800 by 365 by 2….wow!  We’re talking about 500,000!  Our luck is pretty good!  It’s the first time I’ve bought a lottery ticket!”  Shan Mei exclaimed in delight.
“Thank you, Shan Mei!  Thank you for bringing me such good luck.”
“It’s only a lottery ticket.  Why are you thanking me so earnestly?” Shan Mei was amused.
Xiang Zhe took her hand in his, “I’m not just talking about the lottery.  On the day of the draw, that large contract that was reported in the paper fell into my lap, without any effort on my part…”
“You’re crazy!  That’s because of all the effort you put in to build your reputation!  Your good name got you a new client.  What’s that got to do with me?”
“Of course it has!  All this has come about because of you.  You’re my lucky lady!”
“Is that true?”
“Of course.”
“Are there lucky ladies who are unreasonable, love to argue, blush for no reason and cry at the drop of a hat?” She asked him.
“The one I have is like that.” He hugged her.
 
When Shan Mei arrived at the race track on Saturday, she realized that Xiang Zhe was also one of those who was in search of the excitement and glory of speed.  Xiang Zhe and his friends discussed driving tips and pointers that were completely out of her league.  Her head started to pound when she saw the row of gleaming 750cc bikes.
 
“The speed, the excitement and the glory is like heaven to a man” Xiang Zhe’s friend told her.
She could only smile mutely.  What sort of heaven would cause the people who loved you to live in agony, and kill off a few million brain cells in worry?
 
“Xiang Zhe, how about doing a few laps?  You haven’t been here for a long time.”
Xiang Zhe couldn’t resist the invitation.  He borrowed some gear and prepared to try out his rusty skills.
“I’m going down for a little spin.” He told Shan Mei.
“Be careful!” Shan Mei pleaded.  She did not intend to be a wet blanket.
Shan Mei watched with her heart in her mouth as he took the bike around the bends putting it through its paces.  In the roar of the engines, her heart constricted and her palms were sweaty.  A few time when Xiang Zhe was vying for position with another rider, taking the bends with almost no space between the bikes, she had to just close her eyes.  She could not bear to watch.  According to one of Xiang Zhe’s friends, each race lasted ten laps.  All she could do was to clasp her hands together and silently count the number of laps.
Five….six….seven…eight….
Only two more laps to go.  Just as she was about to relax, brakes screeched and a crash was heard.  Shan Mei’s heart sank.  She looked up and saw Xiang Zhe’s bike and another scattered on the ground.  Both Xiang Zhe and his friend were lying on the track.
Shan Mei’s knees were weak as she followed the crowd who were scrambling onto the track.
Xiang Zhe sat up, took off his helmet and said casually, “I’m alright.” He did not see Shan Mei behind him, ashen-faced and close to tears.
 
“It was my fault.  My hand slipped, I lost control and crashed into Xiang Zhe.”  Xiang Zhe’s friend apologized.
“Don’t worry about.  It’s nothing unusual.” Xiang Zhe patted his friend on the shoulder.
 
She looked at how casually he was taking it all, and started to get angry.  How could he not know how frightened she was by it all?
“You just had to do your laps.  Why did you try all those tricks just to win?”
Shan Mei grumbled at Xiang Zhe on the way home.
“You know how competitive I am…I love to win.  Even in school I would compete with my classmates over who could do the best at homework.  It’s in my nature.”  Xiang Zhe chuckled.
“Xiang Zhe…” Shan Mei hesitated.
“What is it?”
“Nothing…” Shan Mei shook her head.  She shouldn’t make him give up his love just because of her own fears.  He was so happy when he was on the track earlier.
“Out with it!”
“I was really afraid just now…” Shan Mei looked at Xiang Zhe sadly.  “I was so afraid that you might get hurt.  I was wishing that I could be blind and deaf so I wouldn’t have to watch and listen…”
Did he even know how much he meant to her?  She had never been timid in her life, but, this time, she had really been scared.  She had never imagined she would ever feel that way.  Love could make you strong, but it could also make you very vulnerable.
 
He looked at the fear in her eyes and started to feel a little guilty.
“Xiang Zhe, I won’t ask you not to race.  That would be selfish of me.  However…you must promise me that you will never be lax on safety… Will you do that?”
“Yes, I promise.  I promise you I will always keep safety in mind.”
He hugged her tightly as he made a solemn vow never to make her worry over him.
 
***** End of Chapter 14 **


My Dearest One –

Chapter 15

Written By Jennifer

Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
 
Translated by nho(CA)

 
Shan Mei phoned Xiang Zhe.
 
“Yin Xiang Zhe, can you guess what I am doing now?”  She asked him.
 
“Any reward for guessing it right?”  Xiang Zhe, who was immersed in the office work, laughed heartily when he heard Shan Mei’s voice.
 
“Wow, you sound very sure of yourself …”  Shan Mei said.
 
She went to Bali in Indonesia to attend a seminar.  Xiang Zhe suggested that she should stay in Bali for a couple of days more after the seminar in order to visit the local sceneries.  She would return to Seoul in the early morning of Sunday.
 
“Don’t you know that your boyfriend is very smart?”
 
“How can you praise yourself so unabashedly …”
 
Xiang Zhe’s mouth curved at the corners, this question was actually not difficult to answer.
 
“Do you want to hear the answer?”  Xiang Zhe asked, roaring with laughter.
 
“OK …”  Shan Mei gently laughed.  She was strolling along the beach and she would not believe that Xiang Zhe could guess it right.
 
“You are now … thinking of me.”  Xiang Zhe’s voice was filled with tenderness, “Do I guess right?”  Xiang Zhe asked.
 
“…”
 
At that moment, Shan Mei felt as sweet as if she had fallen into a pool of velvety marshmallow.  This was not the correct answer, but she could not say it he was wrong, not to say … she loved his answer.
 
“Have I guessed right?  Miss Zhen Shan Mei?”
 
“Aren’t you smart?”  Shan Mei cleverly fended off the question.
 
“Is there a party going on?”  Xiang Zhe could faintly hear the sound of music.
 
“Huh, they are holding a farewell party …”
 
Today was the conclusion of the seminar.
 
“There are good wine and delicacies and also soft music and graceful dances …”  Shan Mei said.
 
“You are not inside enjoying yourself.  What are you doing outside?”
 
“I am taking a stroll …”
 
It was too boisterous inside.  She slipped out for a breath of fresh air and she missed him.
 
“Yin Xiang Zhe, the night light is very beautiful here …”
 
The dazzling white moon was hanging up in the sky.  Up above was a sky filled with stars with the stars and moon trying to outshine each other.  This was a sight difficult to witness in Seoul.  
 
“How I wish I am at your side now …”  Xiang Zhe softly said.
 
It was the third day since she left and he was missing her very much.
 
“Really?”  Shan Mei’s mouth curved at the corners, the intoxicated and drunken sweetness arose from the bottom of her heart.
 
“Really … I miss you so much.”  Xiang Zhe’s voice contained malleable tenderness.
 
“Try to close your eyes …”  Shan Mei said.
 
Her voice was so tender that he was fascinated by it.
 
“What for?”  Xiang Zhe asked.
 
“Someone said that when you close your eyes you can go to faraway places …”
 
Xiang Zhe obediently closed his eyes.  For a few seconds, he had an illusion that he had surmounted space and time and flew to her side.  
 
“How is it?”
 
Xiang Zhe sighed:  “You better come back quickly!”
 
“So it doesn’t work for you either.”  Shan Mei said in disappointment.
 
Xiang Zhe smiled, so she had tried it too.
 
“What have you been doing this afternoon?”  Xiang Zhe asked.  Shan Mei told him last night that it was free activity this afternoon.
 
“I went to have SPA treatment …”
 
“SPA? …”
 
“Yes …, a few of us girls went to have LULUR SPA treatment in the hotel … It was very extravagant!  But it was really so comfy …”  Shan Mei said excitedly:  “First of all, we had an essential oil body massage from head to feet which thoroughly relaxed our muscles and blood circulation, then we had a good soak in a big bath of sea salt and rose petals, and finally we enjoyed a cup of ginger tea … and the fatigue all disappeared from our body …  You are normally working under extreme pressure and you should try this treatment and it really works …”  Shan Mei babbled for half a day and did not get a response from Xiang Zhe, “Hey, did you hear what I said?”
 
“Hmm, yes!”  Xiang Zhe seemed as though he had just woken up from a deep dream.
 
“Then why are you not uttering a word?”
 
“I, oh … I was imaging those beautiful girls whom I could feast my eyes on.”  Xiang Zhe laughed.
 
Shan Mei made a sound of disapproval, “You want to feast your eyes on beautiful girls?  There were so many of them sunbathing in the Kuta Beach today.”
 
“Kuta Beach is nothing … If you want to watch the girls sunbathing, those in the beaches in Nice are worth to look at.”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“No wonder …”  Shan Mei sounded as if she suddenly realized something.
 
“No wonder what?”
 
“No wonder when you mentioned Nice, you sounded so excited.”
 
“When have I ever mentioned Nice to you before?”
 
“Of course it was not to me.”  Shan Mei sounded jealous.
 
“No!”  Xiang Zhe could not think of anything no matter how hard he tried.
 
“It was on a certain day you mentioned it to a pretty girl on the way to Chuam Beach.”
 
“Oooh …”  Xiang Zhe finally could remember, “Haha!”  Xiang Zhe laughed, she was jealous of Xu Xiu Li.
 
“What are you laughing at?”
 
“So that day you were hiding in the beach getting jealous …”
 
“Who was jealous?”  Shan Mei would in no way admit it.
 
 
“It looks as though you were enjoying yourself very much the last three days.  I’m so envious …  How I wish I can have the same career as you.”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“What’s so good about having the same career as mine?  I am earning only about one fifth of your salary.”
 
“How do you know it?”  Xiang Zhe said, finding it funny.
 
“Of course I know.  Last night I made a study of your company’s financial statement.  Hey, your worth is very high!”  
 
Last night it was raining hard and she could not go out to shop.  She had nothing to do so she surfed the web and read Xiang Zhe’s company information and got to know the amount of his remuneration.
 
“Someone will come to pick us to visit the nightclub and I’m not sure when we will be back, so please don’t wait up for me.”  Shan Mei gave him an account of her activity later in the evening.  During the past few days, Xiang Zhe always gave her a call before he went to sleep.
 
“I can’t go to bed early anyway, please give me a call when you get back.”  All the time Xiang Zhe could not cease to worry.
 
“Yin Xiang Zhe, you nag more than my dad!”  Shan Mei muttered.
 
“I am worried that you enjoy yourself too much to remember to come home.”
 
“What are you planning to do tomorrow?”  He asked her.
 
“Hmm, we will go boat riding in Ayung River in the morning, and in the afternoon, we will go visiting the art galleries and see the stone carvings in Ubud and Mas.  How are you?  What do you plan to do during the weekend?”
 
“Oh lonesome me  … will stay at home missing you!”  Xiang Zhe sounded so piteous.
 
“Yin Xiang Zhe, you want me to die of guilty conscience?  It’s you who asked me to stay for a couple of days more …”  
 
“I am regretting it now.”
 
“Then … I better fly back tomorrow morning!”
 
“Why?”
 
“I am feeling conscience stricken!”
 
Xiang Zhe roared with laughter, “Go ahead and enjoy yourself!  I just don’t want to hear you grumble and complain incessantly later on.”  
 
“I’m not that bad!”  Shan Mei pouted her lips.
 
“Darn, it seems as though I have said something wrong …”  Xiang Zhe could not stop laughing.
 
“You can laugh like this even when you said something wrong!”
 
“OK, I won’t tease you anymore … Go and enjoy yourself .  I have arranged to go out of town with friends.  A friend of mine just came back from overseas and we plan to have some sort of gathering.”
 
His friends said that since Shan Mei was not around, they would give him a crazy time.
 
“What are you planning to do?”  Shan Mei asked.
 
“What are we doing?”  Xiang Zhe paused for a moment and said to Shan Mei in a jeering tone: “It seems your basketball skill is improving!”
 
“What do you mean?”
 
“It’s press guarding!  You are guarding me too tightly …”
 
“That’s because I have a good teacher and I have inherited my master’s genuine talent.”
 
Before it was she who teased him for press guarding, and now it was his turn to laugh at her.
 
“Speaking of press guarding, Yin Xiang Zhe, have you done anything that you are not supposed to do during the last few days?”
 
“What do you mean by doing something I am not supposed to do? Please give me an example!”
 
“Hmm …  For example, have a meal or watch a movie with some girls etc. etc. …”  Shan Mei laughed as she spoke.
 
“I value my life …”
 
“Good boy, tomorrow I will go out and buy you a present …”
 
“There is no need, you just come back safe and sound …  Oi, if you want to go shopping, please go to the Legian Street in Kuta.”
 
The Legian Street had a multitude of shops.  Apart from antiques, jewellery, stone carvings, batik and handicrafts, there were also a variety of clothes and adornments on sale and Shan Mei would certainly love them.
 
“I am giving you a break tomorrow.  You don’t need to call me to report.”
 
“Why?”
 
“I am letting you have a good time with your friends!  What, with nobody to guard you, you are not used to it?”
 
Actually she did not want Xiang Zhe to become his friends’ laughing stock.  Xiang Zhe’s friends always used her to ridicule Xiang Zhe.
 
“I’m going to pick you up the night after tomorrow.”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“There is no need.  It’s too late and I have booked the firm’s contracted cab and it is very safe.”
 
The plane would land at 1:00 a.m. and Shan Mei would not know how late it would be after getting through immigration and customs.  Xiang Zhe had an early Monday meeting and she did not want him to be deprived of sleep.
 
“Then … let have lunch together on Monday?”
 
“Hmm.”
 
“I have to go.  I have an appointment with a client …  Hey, don’t stay up too late and be careful of your safety.  Understand?”  Xiang Zhe urged repeatedly.  She was in a strange place and he would never cease to worry.
 
“Understand.  Anything else more to add, Mr. Chairman Yin?”  Shan Mei said cheekily.
 
“… No, that’s all …”  Xiang Zhe also found himself laughable for nagging too much.
 
“Yin Xiang Zhe?”
 
“What is the matter?”
 
“I also miss you very much …”  Shan Mei hung up the phone.
 
Xiang Zhe gripped the receiver and for a long time thereafter he could not detach himself from the happy state of mind.
 
For the whole of Saturday, Xiang Zhe really did not call her.  Shan Mei grumbled in her heart, but she could not blame him as it was she who asked him not to call her.  At night, she was feeling restless for no reason at all and she could not sleep well the whole night.
 
At noon on Monday, she had a lunch date with Xiang Zhe.  She wanted to see him at the earliest opportunity, so she plucked up courage and went to look for him in his office.   Today she got a day off after her trip abroad and she did not need to go to work.  Xiang Zhe left her a message on her cell phone this morning, most probably he was afraid to wake her up from her sleep.
 
“Miss Zhen, how come you have time to come today?”
 
Xiang Zhe’s secretary looked at Shan Mei in surprise.  This girl always looked bashful every time she came to visit.  It was really interesting.  
 
“I am on holiday today.”  Shan Mei lowered her head.  She did not know what Miss Gu was thinking with her coming here like this.
 
Shan Mei brought with her some gift for Miss Gu, “I went to Bali on a business trip.”  She explained to Miss Gu and she also bought Xiang Zhe a cap as a gift.
 
“Is Mr. Yin in?”  Shan Mei looked towards Xiang Zhe’s office.
 
“Yes, he is in.  He has just come back from a meeting.”
 
“Can I trouble you to let him know that I’m here?”  Shan Mei shyly asked.
 
Xiang Zhe’s secretary heard and smiled, “There is nobody inside.  Please go in!  Mr. Yin would be happy to see you.  He is not too well today … you can give him a pleasant surprise!”
 
“Oh?”
 
Miss Gu’s words were not too clear and Shan Mei did not understand what she meant.
 
Shan Mei went into Xiang Zhe’s office.  She had a big shock when she saw the state Xiang Zhe was in.
 
“Yin Xiang Zhe, what happens to you?”  She quickly went up to Xiang Zhe’s side.
 
There was a large area of bruises on Xiang Zhe’s left cheek.
 
“What happened?  You had a fight with somebody?”
 
Xiang Zhe’s look made her remember his fight with the two hoodlums that night.
 
“A fight with somebody?”  Xiang Zhe did not know whether to laugh or cry.  “What are you thinking of?”
 
“Then how come you are in this state?”
 
“Well … I didn’t pay attention and got knocked down by a motorcycle …”
 
“What have you been doing? … Are you hurt elsewhere too?”  She grabbed his shoulders and asked anxiously.
 
“Ouch!”  Xiang Zhe groaned and revealed a painful expression.  Shan Mei immediately released her hands.
 
“I have a few stitches in the arms and there are a few bruises in the knees and the calf …”
 
So she was hurting him.
 
“Did you have X-rays?”
 
“The doctor instructs me to go to have a checkup in the hospital if I suffer from dizziness and vomiting.”
 
“How can this doctor be so perfunctory!”
 
Xiang Zhe looked at the worried expression on Shan Mei’s face and tenderly comforted her:  “They are only flesh wounds and nothing serious.  I have suffered from injuries before when I played basketball and you don’t have to worry.”
 
“When did it happen?  Why are you not resting at home?”
 
“It happened on Saturday afternoon … Yesterday I have already stayed home and rest.”
 
No wonder she was feeling restless the past couple of days.
 
“Is it very painful where the stitches are?”
 
“It does not ache anymore when I see you.”
 
“Don’t talk nonsense.”  Shan Mei frowned.
 
“OK, don’t look so downcast.  I will take you to lunch.”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“Don’t go out!”  Shan Mei shook her head.
 
“What?  There is nothing wrong with me …”  Xiang Zhe coaxed Shan Mei.  He thought she was still troubled by his injury.
 
“I have brought something.”  Shan Mei said.  She originally planned to eat lunch with him by the river bank.
 
“Kimbabs (seaweed rice rolls)!”
 
Xiang Zhe saw what was inside the lunch box and happiness was written over his face.
 
“You went to trouble your Auntie again?”
 
Shan Mei glared at him and pouted:  “I made them.”
 
Xiang Zhe grinningly stared at Shan Mei.
 
“What are you staring at!”  Shan Mei’s face became crimsoned, “I just want to have this for lunch, can’t I have it?”
 
She wanted to give him a pleasant surprise and spent the whole morning preparing the kimbabs at home.  Xiang Zhe had mentioned to her several times about wanting to eat the kimbabs prepared by her.
 
“You can, of course you can.”  Xiang Zhe grinned.
 
She and he leaned on the window sill, eating lunch while watching the scenery outside.
 
“Spring is here … It’s so beautiful.”  Shan Mei said.
 
Youido Park was filled with the spirit of spring and the several cherry trees along Yunjunro Street came into bloom early and could not wait to act coquettishly there to attract attention.
 
“The cherry tress will soon be in full bloom and at that time, I want to paint the cherry blossoms in the park.”  Shan Mei said.
 
“The cherry blossoms in Gyeongju are also very beautiful …  I will take you there if we have a chance.”
 
“Let’s make it a date!”  Shan Mei said.
 
………………………
 
At night, Xiang Zhe was urged by Shan Mei to leave his office before 7:00 p.m.
 
“I ask you to come home and rest, why are you bringing back such a large case?”  Shan Mei saw Xiang Zhe was carrying a large briefcase and could not help nagging him.
 
“When you are in the business, you are unable to act according to your own free will.”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“Let me do the driving.”  Shan Mei did not allow Xiang Zhe to drive.
 
“Hey, are you any good?”
 
He looked at her warily and in dread and it made Shan Mei very nervous.
 
“You better let me drive!”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“I can do it.”  Shan Mei tried to show overwheening confidence.  She was used to driving small cars and the first time to drive such a big car made her a little nervous.
 
Shan Mei accompanied Xiang Zhe to the hospital to change a fresh dressing for the wounds and she insisted that the doctor took X-rays for Xiang Zhe.
 
“His grandmother will only feel relieved after the X-rays.”  Shan Mei said to the doctor.
 
When Xiang Zhe heard that, he nearly burst out laughing.
 
“Does he need to be on a diet?”  Shan Mei asked.
 
“Try to avoid eating anything that is hot or irritant during this period.”
 
“Does he need to take some highly nutritious food to restore his health?”  Shan Mei also asked.
 
The doctor smilingly glanced at Shan Mei and said : “That of course would be the best!”
 
When Shan Mei went to pick up the prescription, the doctor said to Xiang Zhe:  “You matter a lot to your girlfriend!”
 
Xiang Zhe was mad with joy when he heard this.
 
…………………..
 
From the market Shan Mei bought abalone, chicken, red dates and also ginseng.
 
“Tonight you will eat abalone congee and then you can make yourself a ginseng red dates chicken.  The doctor said you need to eat something nutritious to recover your health.”  Shan Mei instructed Xiang Zhe.  
 
“Hey, don’t tell me I have to make it myself!”
 
“Aren’t you good at cooking? Are you telling me you are just kidding me?”
 
“Circumstances have changed with the passage of time, after all I am the patient now!”  Xiang Zhe said coaxingly.
 
Shan Mei secretly found it funny.  This afternoon he threw out his chest to prove that he was none the worse, but now he had to pretend to be ill.
 
“OK then … Let me make it at home and I will bring it over when done.”
 
Shan Mei could not catch what Xiang Zhe was hinting.
 
“Why do you have to take so much trouble, you can simply make it at my place.”
 
“Well …”  Shan Mei paused for a moment and shook her head, “No, I’d better not!”
 
“My place is not some dangerous place.”
 
Xiang Zhe had to persuade her for half a day before Shan Mei finally nodded.
 
“You are really difficult!”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“What do you mean by difficult …”  Shan Mei cast Xiang Zhe a look, “What if someone sees us, I won’t be able to clear my name even with all the water from  the Yellow River!”
 
“That’s just right.”  Xiang Zhe smiled cheekily.
 
“What is so right about it?”
 
“This way you won’t be able to escape.”
 
When they passed through the lobby, the janitor stared fixedly at Shan Mei.
 
“Why did that man look at me that way?”  Shan Mei quietly asked Xiang Zhe.
 
“Because I have only ever brought two females home.”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“Oh!”  Shan Mei responded in a low voice and the expression on her face was a bit strange.
 
“Cough, cough.”  Xiang Zhe cleared his throat, “The other one is my grandma.”  Xiang Zhe said with his mouth lifted at the corners.
 
She gave him a cold disdain look.
 
Shan Mei finished cooking the congee and was busy preparing the ginseng red date chicken soup.
 
Xiang Zhe was sitting by one side, eating the congee and watching Shan Mei preparing the chicken soup.  
 
“You are giving full play to your talent today.”
 
The congee she made tasted very good.
 
“Don’t expect too much … I have only watched Auntie prepared it twice.  It is definitely edible but I can’t guarantee whether it tastes good.”  Shan Mei was not too confident.
 
As a result, luckily with the technical guidance from Xiang Zhe on one side, that pot of chicken soup could then successfully come to life.
 
“You are really good!”  Shan Mei was full of admiration for Xiang Zhe.
 
“It’s nothing.  Practice makes perfect.  I help Grandma cook during New Years and at the holidays.”
 
“Yin Xiang Zhe, you certainly are one of our country’s rare creature.”
 
Apart from keeping his home spick and span, his cooking skill was also pretty good..
 
“Really?  You … are you interested to adopt this rare creature?”
 
“Don’t you know that rare creatures are protected and raised by the country?”  Shan Mei guilefully smiled.
 
For the two weeks thereafter, Shan Mei accompanied Xiang Zhe to the hospital for re-examination.  She kept an eye on his prescription, helped him shop for food and cooked nutritious food for him every other day.  Xiang Zhe’s wounds were cured quickly and he had even put on 3 to 4 pounds’ weight.  Shan Mei felt a sense of achievement and found it more rewarding than concluding a big business transaction, because he mattered a lot to her, a very important person in her life.
 
…………………….
 
“Hey, I manage to get some tickets for the “Cats”.
 
Shan Mei received a phone call from Xiang Zhe after working hours.
 
“Really?”  Shan Mei was extremely happy.
 
“It is for Wednedsay the 7:00 p.m. show.”
 
Through the help of a friend, Xiang Zhe got two tickets for the best seats as Shan Mei had been longing to watch the “Cats” musical when it was on tour.
 
“I have to work overtime.  You better have your meal by yourself!”  Shan Mei said to Xiang Zhe.
 
“I will come to pick you up when you are off work.”
 
“There is no need.  Lawyer Jiang has arranged a conference call with the people in London to discuss an offering memorandum.  I’m not sure how late I’ll be …”
 
Shan Mei got off work after 9:00 p.m. and she went to buy a pot of ginseng sticky rice chicken for Xiang Zhe’s supper.
 
“How come you are here?”  Xiang Zhe was overjoyed to find her at the door.
 
“I have earned some overtime money, so I think I will give you a supper treat.”
 
“Chicken soup again?”  Xiang Zhe frowned.  He had been having too much chicken soup lately that the sight of it spoiled his appetite.
 
“Do you have to be so choosey when you have something to eat?”  Shan Mei pouted.
 
When she went inside, Shan Mei then found Xiang Zhe’s friend, Han Guo Qiang was also there.  She immediately became very embarrassed.
 
“Hello, how are you?”  Shan Mei shyly greeted Han Guo Qiang.
 
“I am getting off now!”  Han Guo Qiang tactfully said.
 
“Guo Jiang, please stay and eat some …”  Xiang Zhe wanted to find someone to share the chicken soup with him.
 
“You can share it between you.  I don’t want to play gooseberry.”
 
Xiang Zhe smilingly threw Shan Mei a look, “If I continue to be fed by her this way, I would become a fatty.”
 
“Yin Xiang Zhe, don’t fail to appreciate what happiness really means when you are living in happiness.”  Han Guo Qiang said enviously.
 
Shan Mei was happy with his verbal support.
 
“Lately she must be exhausted, with having to go to work and taking care of me.”  Xiang Zhe cast a look at Shan Mei who went into the kitchen to get the dinner ware and could not hide the sweetness in his heart.
 
“You look as if you have fallen into a sugar pot …”  Han Guo Qiang was very jealous.
 
“”Miss Zhen, do you have any sisters?”  Han Guo Qiang asked.
 
“Why do you ask?”  Xiang Zhe gave Han Guo Qiang a look, finding it very funny.
 
“To introduce them to me!”
 
“I have to disappoint you, she is the only one in her family …”
 
“Aye, how disappointing.”  Han Guo Qiang said in regret.
 
“This chicken soup is very tasty!”  Han Guo Qiang sang his praise, “Where did you get it?”  He asked Shan Mei.
 
“Somewhere near Dongdaemun.  My colleague introduced this place to me.”
 
“Huh … It’s really pretty good.  Have some yourself?”
 
Xiang Zhe gave Shan Mei a small bowl.
 
The phone was ringing.  It was Xiang Zhe’s colleague who wanted to discuss business with him.  Shan Mei kept Han Guo Qiang company and chatted with him.
 
“I’m so sorry, Miss Zhen … It must be hard on you.  If I did not insist that Xiang Zhe played, he would not have that accident and got injured …”
 
“Oh?”  Shan Mei was dumbfounded.
 
“It was so lucky that Xiang Zhe responded quickly.  My other friend has broken his arm …”  Han Guo Qiang did not notice that Shan Mei’s expression changed and carried on talking incessantly.  
 
Xiang Zhe saw Han Guo Qiang off and found Shan Mei picking her bag and left.
 
“Didn’t I tell you that I will be driving you home?”  Xiang Zhe stopped Shan Mei.
 
“There is no need!”  Shan Mei coldly replied.
 
“What’s up?”  Xiang Zhe was completely at a loss.
 
“Ask yourself.”  Shan Mei turned her face away.
 
“Ask myself?”  He turned her body around and tenderly asked:  “What makes you so mad?”
 
She looked at him in anger, “Why do you have to lie to me?  Why did you tell me that you were run down by a car?”
 
Xiang Zhe’s face changed colour and stood there with his heart beating fast.
 
“I have never asked you not to ride your motorbike.  I just want you to be careful of your own safety …  I only ask for this, why do you have to deceive me?”  Shan Mei’s eyes were red-brimmed.
 
“I … I just …”  Xiang Zhe could not think of something to say.  He had really deceived her, because he did not want her to get angry, he did not want her to get worried, so he kept the truth from her.
 
“I am so disappointed in you, Yin Xiang Zhe.”
 
Shan Mei flung away his hands and ran into the elevator.
 
When Xiang Zhe chased her downstairs, Shan Mei had already disappeared without trace.
 
She entered into a cold war with him; she refused to see him and also refused to take his calls.  He sent her emails with short messages of apologies which he received no responses from her.  Xiang Zhe felt helpless, he only hoped he could see Shan Mei when they watched the musical on Wednesday night and he would again apologize to her profusely.
 
On Wednesday night, Xiang Zhe waited at the theatre for two hours and Shan Mei never showed up.  He knew he had fallen in love with a stubborn and obstinate girl …
 
 
- End of Chapter 15 -


My Dearest One (Qin Ai De Ni) –

Chapter 16

 

By Jennifer
Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
Translated by Jules

After dinner, Shan Mei made her way to the garden. Li Xiu Huan was there smoking as Jin Huan Zhen forbade her son to smoke in the house.

“Why do you guys love smoking so much?” Shan Mei asked as she sat next to Xiu Huan.
“Us guys?” Xiu Huan looked askance at Shan Mei “Are you referring to me and….Xiang Zhe?”
“I…” Shan Mei hesitated, embarrassed. It looked like Xiu Huan already knew about her and Xiang Zhe.
“Did…did he tell you about it?” She asked.
“Yes and no…. It was when you returned from London after going there to celebrate your father’s birthday, I guess.”
She couldn’t for the life of her figure out what excuse Xiang Zhe had used to accompany Xiu Huan to the airport to pick her up on her return.
“The little bugger suddenly asked me out to lunch that day, then enquired about my plans for the afternoon. When I told him I was heading out to the airport, he said he had taken leave for the afternoon, and hadn’t seen you in a long time, so I let him come along….. I was surprised when I saw how happy he had been to see you at the airport. After that, I couldn’t help but notice how he was deliriously happy each time he saw you, and finally realized what was going on. You little devil…. You even kept ME in the dark about it…. By the way, I’m letting Xiang Zhe take over all future airport duties from now on.” Xiu Huan said.
Shan Mei smiled and remained silent. She did not want Xiu Huan to know that she and Xiang Zhe had fallen out.
“Xiang Zhe’s gone back to Gyeongju” Xiu Huan said.
Shan Mei looked at Xiu Huan in surprise, feeling a little sour. She was still upset with him, but he had gone to Gyeongju as if nothing had happened.
“Did you and Xiang Zhe have a tiff?” Xiu Huan asked.
Shan Mei nodded.
Xiu Huan smiled, “I knew something was up when that scoundrel rang me this afternoon out of the blue to tell me that he was going back to Gyeongju. Now I know he merely wanted to use me as his messenger to you…” Xiu Huan appraised Shan Mei briefly, “hey, don’t tell me you’re not talking to him? Is that why he had to resort to such drastic measures?”
“….” Xiang Zhe had sent several messages to her phone, but she had stubbornly refused to read them.
“Oppa, would you ever lie to Ya Shu?” Shan Mei asked Xiu Huan.
Xiu Huan looked at Shan Mei speculatively, then said, “Sometimes!”
“Why?”
“There are lots of reasons….. sometimes it’s just to keep the peace, sometime it’s so that she wouldn’t worry, things like that.”
“Do you guys always have a bunch of excuses on hand?”
Xiu Huan laughed, “Did Xiang Zhe lie to you, then?”
Shan Mei remained silent.
Xiu Huan patted her shoulder, “Do you know? You’re Xiang Zhe’s very first girlfriend.”
Shan Mei pouted in disbelief. How could such as eligible young man like Xiang Zhe not have had prior relationships?
“I’m being totally honest here. When we were in school, there was always a bunch of girls who were vying for his attention, but he totally ignored them… over the last two years all the guys in our group have tried many times to hook him up with various women, but he had never been interested….. Just look at what happened with Chu Xiu Li… I never expected that he would end up interested in you….”
“Oppa…!”
“Shan Mei…. Whatever it was that Xiang Zhe did to make you upset, I’m absolutely sure he had good reason for it…”
Shan Mei’s bark was a lot worse than her bite. Xiu Huan knew his cousin well, “Perhaps your view of things is a little different from Xiang Zhe’s, but I truly believe Xiang Zhe’s intentions are always exemplary…”
“You’re a loyal friend…”
Xiu Huan chuckled, “Xiang Zhe is a one in a million kind of guy. He’s very caring towards his mother, totally devoted to his friends, even tries his best to help out people he hardly knows….”
“You…. You’ve met his mother?”
Other than that time at the movies when he mentioned his grandmother, Xiang Zhe almost never talked about his family. She only knew that his mother had passed away.
“Hmm, I went to his home when we were in high school. His mother was an artist with a very pleasant disposition who taught art at the Art Institute…”
So his mother actually taught art at the Art Institute. No wonder he seemed well versed in art.
Xiu Huan continued, “I remember once after we finished studying at the library, I wanted to borrow some material from his home. We were half way there on the bus when he suddenly pulled me off it. When I asked him why, he said his mother was teaching late that evening, and he wanted to take her home from work. Each time I remember that incident, I’m filled with admiration ….”
“Then… what about his father?”
Xiang Zhe never mentioned his father at all.
Xiu Huan shook his head, “He divorced Xiang Zhe’s mother.”
Shan Mei’s eyes widened.
“When we were in senior high, Xiang Zhe’s mother passed away from illness very suddenly. Xiang Zhe presented a very brave front, but right after her funeral, he cried bitterly in my arms, and told me the story of his mother’s pain. It was only then that I found out his parents had divorced when he was in elementary school. His mother managed to keep him in return for giving up all rights to alimony.”
Shan Mei’s eyes misted over.
“At the time, I was worried that Xiang Zhe’s university admission would be affected….. but he held himself together and kept working hard. He said he wanted to live a good life and build a career that his mother would be proud of.”
Shan Mei secretly wiped a tear away.
“Have you ever met Xiang Zhe’s secretary?” Xiu Huan asked Shan Mei.
Shan Mei nodded.
“I asked him why he didn’t pick a younger, more efficient person for the job. He told me Miss Bae had a child to support and needed the job more than anyone else…”
Shan Mei was moved.
“I’m not telling you all this because of loyalty to Xiang Zhe; I just want you to understand him a little better… he’s a bit introverted and tends to keep quiet about some things. I known him for such a long time, I understand him well.”
“Mmmm….” Shan Mei sniffed.
“Alright, we’d better go i.” Xiu Huan stubbed out his cigarette, “Are you staying over tonight?”
“No. I have to go to Pusan tomorrow on business, and need to go home to pack.” She had been staying over at Auntie’s place the last few days.
“Pusan is pretty close to Gyeongju” Xiu Huan observed.

Shan Mei got a call from Xiu Huan when she got home, telling her he had sent her an email. When she opened the mail, she found that Xiu Huan had forwarded her Xiang Zhe’s address and contact number in Gyeongju.

That night, Shan Mei opened the messages that Xiang Zhe sent her:

At 11:25pm, March 29th he wrote:
“I didn’t mean to lie to you. It’s just that I care for you and did not want to upset you. Can you forgive me?”

At 9:10am, March 30th he wrote:
“I couldn’t sleep at all last night. I kept ringing you, but you didn’t answer. Are you still angry at me? Can me meet at noon?”

At 3:20pm, March 30th he wrote:
“I waited for your reply in vain. Couldn’t even concentrate during my meeting today. I made an excuse to visit your office, but even God is not on my side. I did not manage to catch you.”

At 1:38am, March 31st he wrote:
“Have you calmed down yet? I sat outside your Auntie’s home all night and only left when all the lights had been turned out. I really miss you.”

At 7:08am, March 31st he wrote:
“I’ll be at the factory in Incheon all day today. I’m really excited when I think that I’ll be seeing you soon. You will be there at the movie, won’t you?”

At 11:05pm, March 31st he wrote:
“You didn’t turn up. I was worried you might have got the time wrong, and waited at the theatre entrance until the next screening started. It’s raining now… Shan Mei, are you not going to ever forgive me?”

He wrote another two messages to her on April 1st telling her that he missed her and that he was feeling really bad.

The last message he sent her that afternoon read, “Shan Mei, something cropped up and I have to go to Gyeongju. I’ll be back in Seoul on Monday night. No matter what, please, please meet with me when I get back.”

She was in tears at after reading the messages.

The poor guy! Xiang Zhe hated sending SMS messages, saying that it was too difficult and too slow trying to type using the little buttons on the phone, “It’s so fiddly and such a waste of time!” he would say.
“But the person receiving it would be so happy!” Shan Mei would reply.
He had taken the trouble to send her messages each day to try and make her happy.

Her meeting with the client in Pusan on Saturday proceeded smoothly, and had ended by 2pm. On her way to the airport, Shan Mei changed her mind, and headed instead towards the bus terminus. She took the bus to Gyeongju.

The main economic activity around Gyeongju were cottage industries and traditional handicraft. The area was sometimes known as the “museum without walls. As they made their way into Gyeongju, modern architecture and highrise buildings were nowhere to be seen. Instead, traditional building abound, separated by large expanses of nature. When she arrived at the town centre, Shan Mei went to the tourist bureau and obtained a map of the area then made her way down the main street. Although the streets were full of the weekend crowd, the pace was much slower than that of Seoul, and the atmosphere was relaxed.

Xiang Zhe’s home was a distance away from the town centre. Shan Mei sought directions, and caught a bus for the 30 minute ride. Upon alighting, she discovered that there was still a way to go up a hill. She suddenly remembered Xiang Zhe saying that his grandmother would come to the bottom of the hill to greet him when he came home from school as a young child. How could she have forgotten? Shan Mei looked at the bus timetable for the minibus service. The last bus has just left, and there was a thirty minute wait for the next one. She decided to walk. She grimaced her high heels and chided herself for not wearing flats that day.

The road was lined on both sides with ginko and cherry trees. Most of the homes were in the traditional style, built with wood and mud. After about twenty minutes, Shan Mei arrived at the address. It was an old style home and the main gate was locked. Wasn’t Xiang Zhe home? Shan Mei stamped down a tide of disappointment. She had longed to see Xiang Zhe, even if only from a distance. She really had been too hard on his these past few days.

Shan Mei stood on tip toe, trying to peer into the yard. There was a gingko tree and some roses and other flowers which she did not recognize.
“Miss, are you looking for someone?” a frail voice spoke next to her. Shan Mei quickly turned around and saw a white-haired old lady of about 70, who had come up next to her without her noticing.
“Excuse me, madam. Does a Mr Yin Xiang Zhe live here?” Shan Mei asked uncomfortably.
The old lady beamed at her, “You are looking for Xiang Zhe? Yes, he lives here. I’m his grandmother. And you are…?” The old lady looked Shan Mei up and down, her eyes full of curiousity.
“Hello grandmother, I’m..... I’m Xiang Zhe’s friend. My name is Zhen Shan Mei.” Shan Mei explained hastily.
“He was right here a minute ago when I left. I wonder where he’s gone…”
Xiang Zhe’s grandmother urged Shan Mei into the house. It was spick and span.
“Please have a seat, Miss Zhen!”
“Thank you, grandmother.”
The living room was sumptuously decorated. The furniture was made of the finest wood and two paintings of scenery hung on the walls.
Xiang Zhe’s grandmother said, “Xiang Zhe changed all the furniture in the house. He said it would make it more comfortable. He’s such a caring boy, so I just let him be…heh, heh!”
Shan Mei could tell that Xiang Zhe’s grandmother was very proud of him.
“I only caught a little cold, but Xiang Zhe rushed back here to take care of me…”
So, it was because his grandmother was ill.
“Where are you from, Miss Zhen?”
“I live in Seoul, grandmother. And please call me Shan Mei.”
“Good. Alright…how did you and Xiang Zhe get to know each other?”
“Umm… we knew each other from work.”
“So Miss Shan Mei and Xiang Zhe are colleagues?”
Shan Mei shook her head and smiled, “No… I work in a law firm.”
“A law firm? You are a lawyer?”
“Yes.”
“You must be very capable to become a lawyer at such a young age.”
“Not really, grandmother!”
“Have you ever been to Gyeongju before?”
“I visited a few of the sights after Middle school…”
She had done a flying visit with a group of people that time, and had no real impression of the place.
“You’ve come at the right time. It’s cherry blossom season here, and we are holding our wine and rice cake festival…”
“I was enjoying the cherry blossoms on my way here.” Shan Mei agreed.
The old lady had found a topic of conversation, and hogged the conversation from there. She introduced to Shan Mei in detail all the sights and culture of Gyeongju.
Some time later, Xiang Zhe was still nowhere in sight.
“The rascal must have gone to play basketball again. Everytime he plays basketball, he forgets to come home!”
Basketball! Shan Mei frowned. He had barely recovered from his injuries. How could he play basketball in his state!
From all appearances, Xiang Zhe’s grandmother had no idea that he had been injured.
“Is there a basketball court nearby?” Shan Mei asked.
“There is a level clearing about halfway up the hill with a basketball court in it. The children in the neighbourhood often play there…” Xiang Zhe’s grandmother could see Shan Mei’s worry and volunteered, “Why don’t you see if he’s there? Just follow that road for about 10 minutes uphill, then take the fork on the right. Follow the stone steps for another two or three minutes and you’re there.”
Shan Mei followed Xiang Zhe’s grandmother’s directions, and found herself at the basketball court in no time. As expected, Xiang Zhe was there coaching a group of children.
She observed him quietly.

“Ajuhma, are you looking for someone?”
A little boy noticed her standing there, and called out to her, causing the whole group to turn around. Xiang Zhe rubbed his eyes, thinking that he must have been seeing things.
“Don’t you recognize me any more?” Shan Mei smiled.
“How did you come?”
“Well, I thought about it, so I came.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes.” Shan Mei smiled at Xiang Zhe.

“Ajussi, let’s play ball!” the group of children shouted at Xiang Zhe.
“I’ve had enough, let’s call it a day…” Xiang Zhe waved them away.
He wasn’t in a mood to play now that Shan Mei was here.
“Ajussi, is this Ajuhma your girlfriend?” A little boy asked mischieviously.
“You’re right…” Xiang Zhe beamed.

The group of children disbanded noisily, leaving the two of them on the court.
“Why are you playing ball? You’ve barely recovered…” Shan Mei chided.
“I was only giving them some pointers on how to score.”
“I let the tickets on Wednesday go to waste…” Shan Mei apologized indirectly.
Xiang Zhe grinned, “That’s alright. I’m sure there’ll be plenty more opportunities…”
“You’re not angry at me any more?” Xiang Zhe grabbed her hand and asked.
“You’ve already apologized.” Shan Mei said.
“I really missed you.” He looked at her lovingly.

The cool evening breeze blew, and Shan Mei, who was only wearing a thin blouse, sneezed.
“It’s getting cool. Let’s go home!” He draped his arm around her and headed downhill.
“How did you know I was here?”
“Your grandmother told me.”
“Oh! So you’ve already met my grandmother?”
“Yes, and we had a very long conversation too!”
“Can you walk wearing those?” He looked down at her high heels.
“It’s not too bad…. I forgot your home was on a hill.”
“Xiu Huan gave you the address?”
“Yes.”
“He’s a true friend indeed…” Xiang Zhe nodded, “I didn’t expect you to come to Gyeongju.”
“There are certain things that one must do when the moment arrives….”
”Thank you.” Xiang Zhe was delighted.

“Hey! Didn’t you say you hated sending messages on the phone?”
He had written a total of nine messages to her over the past few days.
“I considered it my punishment for doing the wrong thing.” Xiang Zhe replied.
“Have you been punished that way many times before?”
“It’s the first time in my life.”

Shan Mei intended to check into a hotel at the bottom of the hill, but Xiang Zhe’s grandmother insisted that she stayed over.
“We’ve got enough room in the house. If you insist on going, you’re implying that my hospitality is lacking!” Xiang Zhe’s grandmother said.
Shan Mei looked toward Xiang Zhe for support, but he merely grinned at her.

Xiang Zhe disappeared soon after dinner.
“Xiang Zhe’s gone downhill to buy some things,” grandmother told Shan Mei.
Grandmother sat in the house sewing after washing up. Shan Mei sat with her making small talk.
“Grandmother, why didn’t you move to Seoul to live with Xiang Zhe?”
“I’m too old. Besides I’m used to village life, and Xiang Zhe visits me every month, anyway.”
“Is that Auntie?” Shan Mei asked.
There was a photograph of a pretty woman who looked very much like Xiang Zhe sitting on the cupboard.
“Yes! I had only one daughter…”
“Auntie was very beautiful”
Grandmother sighed, “It’s more important for a girl to have a good destiny.”
Shan Mei didn’t know what to say to console the old lady.
“Let’s not talk about that…” Xiang Zhe’s grandmother smiled, and worked furiously on her sewing.
“Grandmother, let me help!” Shan Mei took the work out of her hands and started sewing with her head bowed.
“This is for a neighbour. I don’t really need anything, so I try to help them out when I can.”
“You’re so helpful, grandmother!”
“They used to help me too…. We’ve been neighbours for such a long time, we should help each other out.”

“Shan Mei, our Xiang Zhe really likes you a lot.”
Shan Mei squirmed and almost pricked her finger with the needle.
“He hasn’t stopped smiling since you got here. It’s been a long time since I last saw him so happy…” grandmother commented.
“Grandmother…!” Shan Mei blushed.
“Does Xiang Zhe treat you well?”
Shan Mei nodded shyly.
“If he ever treats you badly, just let me know. I’ll set him straight for you…”

Xiang Zhe returned.
“Grandmother, now I know the real reason why you wanted Shan Mei to stay… you wanted someone to help you with the sewing, didn’t you?” Xiang Zhe teased.
“What if I did? Are you feeling sorry for her already?” Grandmother laughed, “You didn’t take long.”
“I happened to meet Uncle on my way out and got a lift from him.”
“Xiang Zhe, I want a granddaughter-in-law just as beautiful and caring as Shan Mei…” grandmother declared.
Shan Mei blushed deep red at the words.
“Beautiful? Caring? … I was just thinking the same thing.” Xiang Zhe winked at Shan Mei meaningfully.

After grandmother went to bed, Xiang Zhe grabbed Shan Mei and headed out the door.
“I want to show you something.” Xiang Zhe beamed at her.
A brand new pair of women’s shoes sat on the doorstep. Shan Mei looked at him in surprise.
“You can easily twist your ankle walking downhill in high heels.” Xiang Zhe told her, “Try it. If you don’t like it, I can take it back tomorrow and change it for something else. I’ve already arranged that with the shopkeeper.”
She watched as he carefully helped her with her shoelaces, sweetness filling her heart.
“How did you know my size?”
“I know everything!”
He remembered from the time they had shopped for her shoes together.

“Are you tired?”
“Not really, what about you?”
“Let me take you to a really fabulous place…”

He led her out the backdoor up a little path. The path led up to the top of a little hill. In the silvery moonlight, the beautiful fauna and flora was visible. A soft breeze was blowing, and the cherry blossoms floated about like snowflakes in the breeze.
“I love to come here at night to enjoy the view…”
Shan Mei followed Xiang Zhe’s gaze and looked down at the tiny lights winking in the distance.
“It’s not just the view. It’s got a really peaceful and comforting feel as well…” Xiang Zhe said.
“The stars are beautiful..” Shan Mei smiled.
Without bright city lights, the stars shone even brighter in the night sky.

“My mother told me if I ever met someone I like, I had to bring her up here to have a look.” He looked at her passionately.
“Is that so?” Shan Mei smiled again.
“Yes, and I’ve found her.” He pulled her into his embrace.
She leaned against his broad chest and whispered, “My mother left me her diary. In it she wrote…when every girl is born, there is a boy somewhere in the world who is waiting to take care of her for the rest of her life….”
Was he the one? She looked into his eyes. There was love and care in those eyes.
“The boy will keep searching until the one who belongs to him appears…” he lifter her face towards his and said tenderly.
Shan Mei avoided his gaze shyly, blushing all the way to the roots of her hair.

Xiang Zhe could not help himself. He was mesmerized as he slowly kissed her lips…..

Both of them did not keep their promise on the six month hiatus. Perhaps it was just as Shan Mei said. There are certain things that one must do when the moment arrives. It would be too much of a waste to let the opportunity slip.

***** End of Chapter 16 *****

 

 

Chapter 17

 

Written By Jennifer
Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
Translated by nho(CA)


“I never thought you would come to Gyeongju.”

“There are things which a person feels he has to do right away.”


………………………..

Xiang Zhe went into kitchen and found Shan Mei and Grandma were making breakfast.

“Good morning!” Xiang Zhe greeted both of them.

“Oh boy, you even get up later than our guest!” Grandma teased Xiang Zhe.

“Aiyoo, Grandma, I haven’t been sleeping well during the past week. It was with some difficulty that I could finally have a sweet sleep last night.” Xiang Zhe’s eyes were looking at Shan Mei. He had her to keep him company in his dream.

Shan Mei pretended not to see.

“You child, don’t just care for your work only. You must take good care of your health.” Grandma said dotingly.


“Did you sleep well last night?” He pressed near to Shan Mei and asked her in a whisper.

“Huh.” Shan Mei nodded in embarrassment.

Yesterday when he took her back to her room, he kissed her all over again at the door. She behaved like a little idiot and let him kiss her passionately and tenderly.

“Xiang Zhe, will Shan Mei be coming with us later on?” Grandma asked.

“Huh?” Shan Mei looked at Xiang Zhe uncomprehendingly.

“Hmm … I am going with Grandma to visit my mother’s grave later on …” Xiang Zhe explained, “Do you want to come with us?”


Xiang Zhe’s mother’s grave was up the hill in the suburb. Although Xiang Zhe’s grandma was old, she was swift-footed and chatted with Shan Mei all the way.

“Since Xiang Zhe was small, I knew this child would go a long way when he grew up …” Grandma was praising Xiang Zhe.

Shan Mei puckered in smile.

“When he was just in Grade 3, he had done a world shaking deed …”

“What had he done?” Shan Mei asked curiously.

“His father and mother were separated that year, Ruo Lan … who was Xiang Zhe’s mother returned to Gyeongju alone. As a result, Xiang Zhe boarded on a bus and travelled a great distance to Gyeongju on his own. Ruo Lan was so heartbroken and touched that she cried for over half a day holding tightly to Xiang Zhe. She then resolved to fight for the guardianship of Xiang Zhe from Xiang Zhe’s father. She originally planned to let Xiang Zhe stay with his father to have a well provided for life … But that child refused to do so no matter what and said he had to take care of his mother …”

“What are you talking about?”

Xiang Zhe who was walking ahead, turned back to look for them.

“Grandma is recounting some of your great performance when you were young.” Shan Mei said.

“Grandma, you are not to say something ill of me in front of Shan Mei!” Xiang Zhe said to Grandma coaxingly.

Shan Mei went with Xiang Zhe and Grandma to the graveyard. It was Xiang Zhe’s mother’s birthday today.

Xiang Zhe brought some of his mother favourite pastries from Seoul and also brought his mother’s favourite lilies to serve his mother. Xiang Zhe knelt down before his mother’s grave and reverently prayed. She looked at the sad and solemn expression on his face and felt sorrow-stricken herself.

The weeds had grown abundant around Xiang Zhe’s mother’s grave and Xiang Zhe picked up a sickle to rake the weeds.

“Let me help you! The wound in your hand has just recovered …” She said.

“I can do it myself!” Xiang Zhe insisted.

She understood that that was an expression of his love for his mother. So she let him do the work and just stayed on one side helping him tie up the weeds he raked.

After visiting the grave, it was just after 10:00 a.m. when they reached home.

Grandma asked Xiang Zhe to show Shan Mei around.

“Where do you want to go?” Xiang Zhe asked.

“Anywhere is fine.”

“Let’s first go to Bulguksa Temple and then go to watch the cherry blossoms in Bomun Lake, OK? Tomorrow the Beverage and Cake Festival will be held in the Bomun Tourist Complex and at that time there will hugh crowds of people everywhere and will certainly spoil our mood to watch the flowers.” Xiang Zhe said.

Shan Mei nodded. She would listen to anything he said.

“Right, you told me you wanted to paint the cherry blossoms last time …”

Shan Mei smilingly shook her head, “I didn’t bring my painting gears with me.”

“Painting gear … Come with me!’

He pulled her into a room at the back of the house. There was a painting hanging on the wall.

“This is my mother’s painting studio. You should still be able to use the drawing board and if there is anything more you want, we can get them downhill.”

“This is really a very good painting.” Shan Mei looked at the painting on the wall intently. It was a painting of seascape.

“That is one of the paintings my mother loved most.”

“Your mother must have a generous and forgiving heart …”

“How can you tell?” Xiang Zhe smilingly asked.

Shan Mei said with a smile on her face: “I can sense it from the painting …”

“Really?”

“Her painting gives you a peaceful and calm feeling …”

In the painting of Xiang Zhe’s mother, one could not feel even a tiny bit of anger and hatred and it was difficult to imagine that she had once walked through a sad period of life.

“My mother was really one with a generous and forgiving heart. She had once said to me that when you love someone you must help him/her find happiness …”

When you loved someone you must help him/her find happiness! What breadth of mind did she have!

Did Xiang Zhe’s mother leave his father because she wanted to help Xiang Zhe’s father find happiness?

Therefore she did not feel any anger or hatred?

“Aye, what are you gawking at?” Xiang Zhe patted Shan Mei’s head, “What painting gears do you want? Hurry up and pick them!”

“You really want me to go painting?” Shan Mei slanted a look at Xiang Zhe and asked.

“Yes!”

“Once I pick up the brush, I won’t talk to anyone for half a day … Won’t you mind?” She smilingly asked him.

On hearing this, Xiang Zhe shook his hand, “You better not then! I will be bored to death.”

They travelled to the Bulguksa Temple and all over the mountains and plains were covered with new shoots of the light green foliage maple leaves which had come out from the top of the branches.

“In autumn when all the maple leaves have turned red, it must be very beautiful then.”

“We will come to look at the maple leaves at that time.” Xiang Zhe said.

Passing through the Blue Cloud Bridge, they reached the centre of the temple. Before their eyes were two of the national treasures, Seokka Pagoda and Sokkatap Pagoda. The tourist guide introduced that the modelling and the craftsmanship of both pagodas displayed the spirit of the aesthetics and art of the Silla Age to the full. Out of curiosity, both of them inspected the two pagodas from different angles and they could not help but admired the ancient’s wisdom and craftsmanship. Thereafter they visited the Daeungjeon Hall, the Museoligeon Hall and the Kwanumjeon Hall in order of sequence. On the way they passed through a small courtyard. In there they found two ancient pine trees. which were more than one hundred years’ old. There were piles of pebbles surrounding the trees; there were some piles of four to five pebbles, and also some of more than ten pebbles piled up in layers and the total numbers of them amounted to more than two to three hundreds.

“What are these for?” Shan Mei asked.

“They are for making wishes … It is said that if the pile of pebbles you make can last for 7 days without falling down, your wish will come true and the height of the pile represents the level of your sincerity.”

“I also want to make a pile …” Shan Mei said.

After Shan Mei had put up a pile of 7 pebbles, she said: “It’s a shame that I can’t come back after 7 days.”

“What wish did you make?” Xiang Zhe asked.

“It won’t be effective if I tell.” Shan Mei said.

“Did your wish include me?”

“I can’t tell.” Shan Mei ran away with a flushed face.

Both of them later went to the Bomun Lake to watch the cherry blossoms and Xiang Zhe especially chose to walk in the secluded section.

The cherry blossoms in the Bomun Lake were blooming in such a way as if they were in a beauty contest. The flowers were blooming all over the trees. They scattered all over the mountains and the plains, blooming bright and pink. They were looking poetic and picturesque and they looked like a grand feast which intoxicated one’s sense and excited one’s spirit.

They rented two bicycles and rode along the lakeside enjoying the mountain and lake scenery. They sat on the stone chair by the lakeside taking a rest when they got tired.

“We should have brought our camera with us!” Shan Mei said.

“It would divide our attention.” Xiang Zhe.

“Divide what attention?”

“Divide my attention in watching you.” Xiang Zhe gently embraced Shan Mei’s shoulder.

He and she sat at the lakeside which was soaked in the beauty of spring and the crystal clear lake water mirrored their intimate reflection.

He was bewitched.

When they returned to the city proper, it suddenly rained and the two of them took shelter from the rain in an aquarium.

“What is that fish?” Shan Mei pointed to the pink fish in the fish bowl and asked.

“That is Kissing Fish.”

“Kissing Fish?” Shan Mei pouted, “Please don’t pull my legs. How can there be such a weird name?"

“Who is fooling you? Can’t you see that those two fishes are kissing?”

Shan Mei looked at the direction Xiang Zhe’s finger was pointing and indeed she could see the two fishes were facing each other mouth to mouth.

“Can fishes kiss too?”

“At least this kind of fish can.” Xiang Zhe said, trying to smother his laughter.

“Maybe they are quarrelling or communicating some messages with each other ..”

The way Shan Mei concentrated in watching the fishes nearly made Xiang Zhe burst out laughing. Actually she did not guess wrong. This was an act of fighting when the kissing fishes tried to defend their territory.

“Aye, do you think we are very similar to them?” Xiang Zhe said.

“In what way? … I do think that I am much more prettier than all the fishes here!” Shan Mei gave Xiang Zhe a disdainful look.

Xiang Zhe smiled craftily, “Why are we not alike? They quarrelled one minute ago and the next they made up by kissing each other, just like us.”

Shan Mei immediately flushed red in the face, “Who quarrelled with you one minute and made up the next …”

She really did have a cold war with him for nearly one week before she forgave him.

“Darn, I have said the wrong thing again.” Although Xiang Zhe uttered these words, his expression was delighted beyond measure.

“It’s good that you realize…” Shan Mei pouted, “You have to be punished for saying the wrong thing.” Shan Mei said.

“OK, I will let you punish me …” He would gladly endure the punishment, “How do you plan to punish me?” Xiang Zhe asked.

“I’ll punish …” Shan Mei rolled her beautiful eyes, “You can suggest what punishment you want for yourself. I want to see how sincere you are.”

“Well …, let me cook dinner for you tonight, OK?”

“You want to cook?” Shan Mei bursted out laughing.

“What, you don’t trust my cooking skill?”

Shan Mei puckered in smile and shook her head, “I only have a notion that you once boasted of your good cooking skill … but many people just talk and don’t act …” She tried to provoke him on purpose.

When he was injured, every time she cooked for him, he would stand beside her giving technical advice, so she supposed his cooking skill might not be too bad.

“OK, today I will show my real talent to you …” Xiang Zhe’s look of eager anticipation made Shan Mei rolled with laughter.

“Let’s phone Grandma first, or else she would prepare a big feast for us …” Xiang Zhe said.

Last night Grandma prepared a whole table of food to welcome Shan Mei.

The two of them went to the supermarket in the city centre to shop for ingredients. Xiang Zhe said he wanted to make pasta.

“Is Grandma used to eating that?”

“I only get praises from those who have eaten the pasta I prepared.” Xiang Zhe said with extreme confidence.

“Aye, you better make something light in taste and don’t bake it. Elderly people may not get used to it.” Shan Mei reminded Xiang Zhe.

“I know.” He gave her a brief hug.

She was really very thoughtful.

After they got home, Xiang Zhe stayed in the kitchen making preparation, looking like a professional.

“Grandma, just you wait for me to make you some tasty pasta.”

“Let me do it. You are trying to show off, you rascal!” Xiang Zhe’s grandma watched the look of her grandson wearing an apron and beamed happily.

“Miss Zhen Shan Mei does not believe that I can cook … I must show her my skill.” Xiang Zhe winked at Shan Mei.

“Yin Xiang Zhe, you are the one who said you will make pasta …” Shan Mei stamped her feet and said.

Xiang Zhe’s grandma watched the two of them squabbling with each other and roared with laughter.

“Miss Zhen Shan Mei, please help me cut up the onion!”

“Aren’t you the cook?”

“The chef needs an assistant to help him …” Xiang Zhe shamelessly said.

“How come when I was doing the cooking, you just helped with your mouth only …” Shan Mei muttered.

“That was because you doted on me …” He whispered into her ear in self-satisfaction.

Xiang Zhe made pasta in clam, garlic and wine sauce. The sweet fragrance of the parsley and the fresh clams together with the specially prepared sauce made the food extremely tasty. Grandma tried them and could not stop acclaiming and continuously praised her grandson.

“Xiang Zhe’s cooking skill is really not bad, right? Shan Mei?”

“Huh.”

She could not but acknowledge that his pasta was really superbly done. When compared with him, her cooking skill fell far short of him. To think of when she cooked for him during this period of time, how he kept praising the food she cooked and making her so ecstatically happy!

After dinner, rain started to flutter from the sky. Originally they planned to take a stroll, but now they had to stay indoor and watched television with Xiang Zhe’s grandma. Xiang Zhe’s grandma covered her legs with a piece of half-worn wrap to keep warm.

“Grandma, when I get back I will make you two new covers!” Shan Mei said.

“Thank you very much!” Grandma was very happy.

“Grandma, can you let Shan Mei make one for me first …” Xiang Zhe negotiated with Grandma.

Grandma roared with laughter and said: “You better ask Shan Mei yourself!”

“Don’t think of jumping the queue again!” Shan Mei pouted.

“When have ever I jumped the queue?” Xiang Zhe looked wrongly accused.

“How can there not be?” Shan Mei ridiculed Xiang Zhe with her finger.

He asked her to let him jump the queue. He wanted to stand in the first position behind her. He wished she could only see him when she turned around.

Xiang Zhe’s grandma went to bed early. Xiang Zhe pulled Shan Mei into his room to chat, “My room has a better view.” Xiang Zhe said.

Watching out from the window in Xiang Zhe’s room, one could see the full view of the distant mountain scenery.

“It’s so beautiful here. If only I can spend a month here, it would be awesome …” Shan Mei said.

“Only for one month?” Xiang Zhe smiled.

“Huh?”

“How about … for the rest of your life?” He looked at her with profound love.

Shan Mei’s face flushed hot.

“What is that? Is it a picture album?” Shan Mei pointed to a golden colour thick box case on the book shelf.

“They are photos of my childhood days …”

“Let me take a look.” Shan Mei said.

“There is nothing worth seeing in my childhood days. Please don’t look …” Xiang Zhe was feeling embarrassed.

“I want to look!”

Xiang Zhe could not win the argument over Shan Mei, so he could only take out the photo album and they sat on the floor looking at the photos.

“Yin Xiang Zhe, is this you?” Shan Mei beamed happily.

Xiang Zhe popped in his head to look, it was a photo taken when he was a year’s old. His mother put him on a baby walker.

“Do you have any comments?” He patted her head.

“Huh …” Shan Mei threw Xiang Zhe a glance and laughingly said: “This chubby little kid looks very adorable!”

In the photo, Xiang Zhe was a chubby boy with fair complexion. He looked really adorable.

“This was taken in the zoo when I was 3 years’ old …” Xiang Zhe pointed to the next photo.

Shan Mei flipped over every photo and Xiang Zhe explained to her the story behind each photo.

“You look like auntie.”

Xiang Zhe’s mother was very pretty.

In the photo album were Xiang Zhe’s pictures from infancy to maturity and as the years advanced, his appearance was getting more and more outstanding and handsome. In the photo album, apart from Xiang Zhe’s solo picture, the others were either his picture with his mother or his grandma. There was no picture of Xiang Zhe’s father, perhaps they were intentionally hidden away.

“You can take this one to look for a prospective bride??” Shan Mei said.

Xiang Zhe popped his head and looked, it was his graduation photo. It must be Grandma who place this in the album.

“Looking for prospective bride? You are willing to give me away?”

He wrapped his arm around her waist.

“Maybe you will meet someone more to your liking …” She looked at him.

“Whom you meet and whom you love … it’s already foreordained by heaven above … Miss Zhen Shan Mei.”

She liked his confession very much. They met each other at the right moment and it looked as if it was predestined.

The ringing of the phone was heard from the sitting room.

“Let me go and look. This album contains photos of my university days and Xiu Wei’s photos are also in there …”

Xiang Zhe ran out and Shan Mei continued to browse over the photos. Xiang Zhe was looking proud and spirited in each of his photos and his friends standing beside him all could not hold a candle to him. Shan Mei smiled as she looked on and her heart was dancing gracefully with the exuberant him in the photo … the feeling of happiness filled her heart to the brim.

For a long time, Xiang Zhe still did not return to the room.

“What takes him so long …” Shan Mei looked at here watch, he had gone for over half an hour.

She inclined her body to one side and crouched down on the earthen bed. The earthen bed was heated and it felt so comfortable.

She rested her chin on her hand and looked at another album from beginning to end. As before she looked and enjoyed every moment; she looked at the close-up photo where he was holding the basketball champion cup in his hands and smiled idiotically at him who was grinning broadly in the photo. She put her face on the photo, trying to imagine how happy and jubilant he was at that moment. She imagined how he heartily laughed in the midst of cheers and her mouth happily lifted at the corners …

The breeze gently blew into the house and she felt a little tired, let her wait for a little while! Xiang Zhe would be back soon, she thought, her eye lids however could not help getting heavy..


- End of Chapter 17 –

 

My Dearest One (Qin Ai De Ni) –

 

Chapter 18

 

By Jennifer
Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
Translated by Jules

“Shan Mei …… Shan Mei….” Xiang Zhe gently called out to Shan Mei.
Shan Mei opened her eyes sleepily, “You’re back? …. What took you so long?” she was still rather confused and could not figure out why there was a blanket covering her.
“What are you talking about being back?” Xiang Zhe smiled, “The sun has already risen and has been shining on you.”
“It’s already morning?” Shan Mei shot out from under the blankets and looked out the window. The bright sunshine pierced her eyes. Oh my goodness gracious me! She must have fallen asleep while waiting for him last night.
“Why didn’t you wake me last night?” Shan Mei grumbled.
“You were sleeping so soundly, I couldn’t bear to do that.”

Shan Mei must have been exhausted. She had already fallen asleep when he returned after his telephone call with Jiang Yu He. He had sat there watching her, unable to tear his eyes away. He looked at her delicate eyebrows, her long and luscious eyelashes, her sweet sensual lips and her jet black hair and was completely mesmerized. It was the first time he was able to examine her in such detail, as she was normally very shy and never allowed him to look at her for any period of time. He sat there watching her for a very long time.

“What time is it?” Shan Mei asked.
“It’s almost nine,” Xiang Zhe replied.
“Aiyo! You should have woken me earlier! How embarrassing to have slept for so long…” Shan Mei said uncomfortably.
“Grandma wouldn’t let me wake you.”
Grandma said she had spent the day helping them tidy the graves, then went out sightseeing, so she must have been tired out. It was obvious that grandma was very taken with Shan Mei. She was so attentive to Shan Mei that Xiang Zhe was a little jealous.

“It’s time for breakfast. Grandma’s prepared a feast for you yet again!”
Grandma said that she had to prepare a lavish breakfast for Shan Mei, as she was leaving that day.

“Where did you sleep last night?” Shan Mei asked Xiang Zhe.
“Me…?” Xiang Zhe grinned, “Of course I slept in my own bedroom!”
“What?!” Shan Mei immediately flushed a deep red, “How could you do that?” Shan Mei asked furiously.
“Do what?” Xiang Zhe deadpanned.
“How could you…..you…..aiyo!” Shan Mei was at a loss for words.
How could he share a bedroom with her? How could she face his grandmother knowing that? How could he still be so nonchalant about it all?!!!
“I’m not having any breakfast.” Shan Mei pouted.
“Why?”
“I’m not hungry!” Shan Mei declared.
“Grandma said we couldn’t start without you.” Xiang Zhe blatantly made use of grandma’s presence.

Shan Mei hung her head and followed Xiang Zhe into the dining room.
“Did you sleep well, Shan Mei?” Grandma asked with concern.
“I slept very well. Thank you for your concern, Grandmother” Shan Mei could feel the heat emanating from her ears, “Did you sleep well, Grandmother?” Shan Mei asked in return.
“Not too badly…” Grandmother smiled broadly, “Xiang Zhe spent the night in my room, and we ended up spending the night talking….”
“….” Shan Mei glared at Xiang Zhe.
Xiang Zhe merely made a face at her in return.

It was a holiday that day, and coincidentally also the day of the Gyeongju Drink and Rice Cake festival.
Grandma, who had previously agreed to see the sights with them suddenly decided not to go.
“Why, Grandma?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“You youngsters just go ahead without me,” Grandma replied.
Xiang Zhe knew she was worried about becoming a hinderance to them and spoiling their fun. He glanced at Shan Mei to seek her help in persuading Grandma.
Shan Mei caught on at once.
“Grandmother, you have to go! Only you are most familiar with all the traditional practices, and I’m very interested to know what they are. Please, Grandmother! Can you please come along and teach me all about them?” Shan Mei cajoled, and Grandma fell for it hook, line and sinker.

“Look at how you turned it on…. Are you like this with your father and auntie as well?” Xiang Zhe whispered in Shan Mei’s ear without Grandma’s notice while they made their way into the village. Shan Mei was really cute when she decided to turn on the sweet-talk.
“And what’s wrong with that? Have you got something to say about it?” Shan Mei was a little self-conscious. She had only wheedled in front of her father and auntie, and was uncomfortable that Xiang Zhe had seen that side of her.
“What can I say? Grandma is now eating out of your hand. I’m jealous!” Xiang Zhe replied.
“What rubbish!” Shan Mei chuckled.

The moment they stepped into Hwangseong Park, Shan Mei could feel the excitement in the air. The place was crowded and completely unlike the peaceful silence that greeted Xiang Zhe and her the night before.
“Thank goodness we came yesterday as well,” Shan Mei said with relief, “Ay! Are they holding a marathon here as well?” Shan Mei asked, pointing to the red tape that had been set out. They did not see that last night!
“Umm…” Xiang Zhe nodded, “It’s being held this Saturday. Gyeongju holds a marathon each year during cherry blossom season. The route goes around Bomun lake…”
“Wow! Running along a route that’s covered with cherry blossoms! It must be the world’s most romantic marathon……I must make sure I register for it next year.”
“You run marathons?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“Mmm,” Shan Mei nodded her head, “I took part in the firm’s marathon last year and was the season’s best in the 25-35 year old category.”
“Why haven’t I heard of this before?” Xiang Zhe asked.
Shan Mei smiled but remained silent. It was something that happened before she met him.
“So you’re really a good runner! No wonder….” Xiang Zhe suddenly understood.
“No wonder what?” Shan Mei asked.
“No wonder it’s so difficult for me to run after you!” Xiang Zhe whispered in her ear.
“What are you talking about?” Shan Mei glared at Xiang Zhe.
“Are you denying it? I had to run all the way to London to get you…”
“I didn’t ask you to come!” Shan Mei blushed.

The plaza in Hwangseong Park was full of people. All staff were dressed in traditional uniforms, and many visitors were also similarly garbed. Famous celebrities were providing entertainment on stage, and the place was throbbing with excitement. There were all sorts of traditional delicacies as well as western cake and Korean desserts available in tented stalls that lined the plaza. There was even an exhibition showing how traditional rice cakes were made. Shan Mei was completely enchanted, and listed attentively to Grandma’s detailed narration. There were many things here that she had never even seen before.

Suddenly, the sound of drums filled the air. Shan Mei turned around to find a re-enactment of a traditional Korean wedding in progress.
“Have you ever seen one? It’s very interesting.” Grandma said.
She had seen one previously, but never actually watched the whole ceremony.

The three of them followed the crowd to the venue of the ceremony. At the entrance, the groom and his parents, all dressed in traditional costumes, were standing on the right, with the bride’s parents standing on the left, greeting all guests as they arrived. A large, traditional gate with a small house within had been erected at the venue. Just as Shan Mei was wondering about what the house was for, she heard the master of ceremonies asking the bride to enter the house and wait for instructions. It was where the bride was to be prepared for the ceremony. The MC then invited the mothers of the bride and groom to light candles on stage, then the mother of the bride also entered the house to be with the bride, as the mother of the groom returned to her seat.
“Now it really starts!” Xiang Zhe’s grandmother told Shan Mei.

The groom entered the premises holding a wild goose.
“Why is he holding the wild goose?” Shan Mei asked Xiang Zhe curiously.
“To ask for the lady’s hand in marriage!”
“Why doesn’t he bring something a little more valuable as a gift?”
Xiang Zhe chuckled, “You’re really materialistic….. haven’t you heard of the saying “a gift of wild goose than a gift from a diety”? The wild goose mates for life, and is a symbol of an everlasting partnership.”
Shan Mei thought that Xiang Zhe was teasing her and was about to give him a piece of her mind when she saw the groom go into the little house, leaving the wild goose by the door, then bowing to the bride’s mother. The bride’s mother then returned the bow, and took the wild goose away, signifying her acceptance of the marriage proposal. Xiang Zhe was telling the truth after all.

“How did you know?” Shan Mei asked.
“I’ve seen it before with Grandma.”
It was then Shan Mei realized that Grandma had only come to the festival because of her.
“Thank goodness we no longer need wild geese in order to woo the ladies of today. If not, I’m sure the world would be full of bachelors!” Xiang Zhe commented.
Shan Mei doubled up with laughter upon hearing this.

Now, the bride, who was dressed in traditional costume, slowly made her way out, with her hands raised above her eyebrows. In her hands, she carried a long white scarf that was embroidered with the family names of the two parties. A red circle of paper adorned each of the brides cheeks, and another was placed in the middle of her forehead.
“It was all exactly like this when Grandma got married,” Xiang Zhe said.
“Grandmother? Really?” Shan Mei exclaimed, delighted.
Grandma nodded uncomfortably, “My father insisted on having a traditional wedding ceremony at the time ….. but in those days, the bride had to hide her face throughout the ceremony.”
“Having to hide your face behind that scarf with your hands extended above your eyebrow throughout the ceremony, your arms would have been ready to drop off any time!” Shan Mei observed.
The MC announced for the bride and the groom to bow to each other. The bride bowed twice to the groom, then sat down. The groom then returned the bow with one of his own.
“Why does the groom only need to bow once?” Shan Mei did not understand.
“This is because the number 2 is the smallest yin number, and the number 1 is the smallest yang number, so the bride has to bow twice, and the groom once.”

The MC then announced that they were ready for the Hen Throwing ceremony.
Hen Throwing ceremony? Shan Mei almost laughed out loud. One moment it was a wild goose, the next moment, a hen … she wondered what other animals were waiting their turn to appear at the ceremony.
Two men stood on either side of the bride and groom, each holding a hen under their arm, awaiting instructions. Across the yard from them, there were two other men who appeared to be preparing to receive the hens. When the MC shouted “One, Two, Three!” the hens were thrown out and the two men across the yard tried their best to catch the flying hens. At this moment, the crowd that was gathered around shouted “May the bride and groom bear many children and have a peaceful union!” And so the ceremony ended in the midst of laughter from the crowd.

“Yin Xiang Zhe, what happens if the two hens manage to get away and the receiving party fails to catch them? Does that mean the couple has not been married?” Shan Mei asked.
Xiang Zhe laughed, “Don’t worry, they will definitely catch the hens. Those hens can’t get very far …. Just look at them! They’ve been fattened up so much, they can’t really run anyway.”
Shan Mei could sometimes be quite childish, but this was one if the things that attracted him. She would never pretend to be anything other than herself with him. When he was with her, he could comfortably put down his mask and be at ease with himself.

After watching the wedding, they came across a cake cutting competition. Xiang Zhe urged Grandmother to participate, and she managed to come 5th in the competition, and won a box of ginseng as her prize. Grandmother was delighted.
“Grandmother, you are still ever so spritely.” Xiang Zhe praised her to no end.
Shan Mei watched the closeness between Xiang Zhe and his grandmother, and suddenly missed her father, who was still in London.
“What’s wrong?” Xiang Zhe could feel it and asked her softly.
“Just thinking of my dad.” Shan Mei said.
“Why don’t you give him a call when we get home?” Xiang Zhe rubbed her shoulders.

Xiang Zhe’s grandmother bumped into some people she knew at the fair, and delightedly introduced them to Shan Mei.
“This is my grandson’s girlfriend…”
A bunch of old ladies crowded around Shan Mei, discussing her.
“She’s so pretty! Your grandson has good taste…”
“She has a lovely smile…”
Xiang Zhe’s grandmother was all smiles.
“Xiang Zhe, you’ve already got such a beautiful girlfriend. No wonder you were always full of excuses whenver we tried to introduce a girl to you…” Grandmother’s friends chided.
Xiang Zhe smiled, uncomfortably.
Xiang Zhe’s grandmother was swept away by her friends and promised to meet up with them again later.

Xiang Zhe immediately grabbed Shan Mei’s hand even before Grandmother was out of sight.
“I’ve been longing to do this all day.” He told her.
He had wanted to take her hand, but did not do so in his grandmother’s presence for fear of embarrassing her.
Shan Mei smiled shyly.
“Why did you keep making excuses when your grandmother’s friends were so eager to introduce girls to you?”
“I already had someone in my heart.” He smiled at her. Since he started to bump into her time and time again, she had slowly made her way into his heart. He no longer had an inclination to even look at another woman.
“You don’t know what you’re missing. What if she was more suitable for you?”
“That’s too bad then. I’m already dead set on you.”

The little food stalls were selling candied corn, and Shan Mei bought a packet, holding it in her hand, eating as they walked.
“I never thought I’d find this here,” She said happily.
“I didn’t know you liked the stuff.”
“In the past, on a cold winter’s night, I loved to buy this and eat it while studying. Last year in London’s Chinatown, I chanced upon someone selling this, and brought a huge bag home. My father nagged at me for half a day, but he ended up fighting me for the last bits in the end….” Shan Mei said smugly.
“This is really good.” Shan Mei put a few in Xiang Zhe’s hand.

After finishing the candied corn, they followed the aroma of baking to a stall selling Gyeongju’s famous huangnam biscuits.
“It’s delicious!” Shan Mei exclaimed. The ones in Seoul pre-packaged, not made fresh like these.
Xiang Zhe bought two. Shan Mei finished hers off, then asked for the other, still lying untouched in Xiang Zhe’s hand. The freshly baked bean paste filling melted in the mouth and had her wanting more.
“You’re a real glutton, woman!” he laughed.
“Am I scaring you now?” Shan Mei teased.

The games stalls were located in the far corner of the festival grounds. At the shuttle-kicking stall, there was a high school student demonstrating the game while a compere explained the details. Shan Mei pulled Xiang Zhe along to watch.
“I could never get the hang of this when I was in school,” Shan Mei told him.
“This game is played as follows: You kick the shuttle once with the left foot, then twice with the right, three times with the left, and so on, until you drop it. The difficulty is in the co-ordination between right and left…” the compere explained. As the demonstration went on to more and more difficult maneouvres, Shan Mei stood there entranced. Xiang Zhe smiled when he saw this.

Shan Mei tended to do everything with fervour, not just at work. She would be just as conscientious in the kitchen; even at the movies, she would concentrate fully on the film. He sometimes wondered if she even knew he was there by her side. A sudden thought occurred to him. He loosened his grip and quietly slipped back. Before 5 seconds were even up, she had already turned around worriedly scanning the crowd for him.
“Xiang Zhe!” she called out loudly.
“I’m here.” He quickly stepped back and reclaimed her hand.
He was very happy because he knew that even when she was so entranced with something else, she was still very much aware of his presence, and he would no longer need to wonder if she really needed him there by her side.

The two of them continued past the game stalls.
“This one looks simple enough,” Shan Mei said.
All she had to do was to shoot wooden arrows into a clay urn. Xiang Zhe bought 10 arrows with 1,000 won for Shan Mei to try it out. It was only then she realized how difficult it really was. In the end, she only managed to shoot one arrow into the urn, and won a bookmark for her effort.
“How embarrassing! I only managed to get one in. I was actually hoping to win that Winnie the Pooh prize.” She needed to have shot 5 arrows into the urn to win that one.
“Don’t you already have one of those?” Shan Mei bought a Pooh Bear once when they went shopping together.
“This one has a red scarf and is really cute.” She replied.
“Watch me, then.” Xiang Zhe said confidently.
“If you really win that bear, I’ll buy you dinner.”
“It’s a deal!”

Xiang Zhe bought another set of arrows, rolled up his sleeves and prepared to shoot.
Xiang Zhe’s basketball skills came to the fore. The first arrow missed its target, falling short of the urn by 2 or 3 inches.
“Almost!” Shan Mei sighed.
Xiang Zhe puffed out his chest and casually replied, “That was just the warm-up to gauge the distance,”
Saying that, he picked up the second arrow, took a deep breath and gently shot it.
“Dong!” the arrow landed in the urn, and the onlookers applauded.
The third and fourth arrows also found their mark, and the crowd around them swelled. Shan Mei started to get excited.
Xiang Zhe’s fifth arrow missed, and Xiang Zhe’s disappointment showed, “Miss! It looks like you’re even more nervous than I am!” he teased her.
The sixth one found its mark.
“Alright, you can go get your prize now!” Xiang Zhe said.
“But you’ve still got another three arrows in your hand!”
“Did you want the Pooh Bear? If I land another two into the urn, the prize will be something else.” The next prize was a bottle of wine from Gyeongju.
“But it feels like you’re giving up. Didn’t you say you liked to win?” Shan Mei thought it was a waste.
“All I wanted was to make you happy.” Xiang Zhe replied. He only wanted to see her face light up when she got the Pooh Bear.
“But I want to see you put the rest in as well.”
“Alright then,’ Xiang Zhe caved in.
“You’re not allowed to just throw them away, not when so many people are watching and cheering you on.”
The eighth and ninth arrows also hit their target, and the onlookers held their breath as they watch to see if he could land the final arrow into the urn.
Xiang Zhe put the final arrow into the urn, and the onlookers broke out in applause.
“Thank you! I was really luck.” Xiang Zhe said modestly. He was also elated at the result. Shan Mei was right. He did really want to pit his skills to win.

“Mister, if I had a few more customers like you, I would have to pack up my stall for the day.” The stallholder joked.
Their prize was a large bottle of wine.
Xiang Zhe looked over at Shan Mei and smiled, “We’ve lost the Pooh Bear, and you’re still so happy?”
“Yes! I love watching you win…” she knew he was only humoring her, and really wanted to see the game to its end result.
“Boss, just give me that Winnie the Pooh bear. That will do.”
“Why?” the stallholder was surprised. The value of the two items were vastly different.
“My girlfriend prefers the toy.”
Ths stallholder looked over at Shan Mei and chuckled, “This lady is not local, is she?”
“She’s from Seoul.”
The stallholder nodded and said, “We love having guests here in Gyeongju…. You have this wine. You won it fair and square. As for the stuffed toy, consider it a gift from me to your girlfriend.”
“We couldn’t do that!” Xiang Zhe refused.
“Just don’t come back to my stall again!” he laughed.

They stayed on at the festival grounds until dusk. Xiang Zhe’s grandmother had bought a lot of local specialities for Shan Mei to take home with her.

The took the last buss back to Seoul, and Xiang Zhe’s grandmother insisted in seeing them to the bus stop.
“Grandmother, please don’t bother!” Shan Mei did not want to impose; Xiang Zhe didn’t even try to dissuade her.
“My grandmother is very stubborn.” He said. He knew his grandmother well.
“Shan Mei, make sure you come back with Xiang Zhe again.” Grandmother was unwilling to let her go.
Shan Mei’s eyes rimmed with tears as she hugged Xiang Zhe’s grandmother, “I will, Grandmother…. Take care of yourself.”
The two of them hugged as they wiped away their tears.
“Xiang Zhe, make sure you take good care of Shan Mei!” Grandmother instructed Xiang Zhe as they boarded the bus.
“I will, Grandmother.”

As the bus departed, Shan Mei waved at Grandmother from inside until she was out of sight.
“You’re really something else!” Xiang Zhe looked at the teary Shan Mei and shook his head, “You’re still such a cry-baby!” He handed her his hankerchief.
“That’s none of your business!”
“Of course it’s my business! Didn’t you just hear? Grandmother said I was to take good care of you.”
“And who was the one who needed taking care of?”
She had been the one taking care of him when he was injured.
Xiang Zhe grinned, “In that case, will Miss Shan Mei please keep taking care of me?”
“In your dreams!”

Shan Mei had a book in her hand, but ended up looking over at Xiang Zhe half the time. He was reading the papers, and she observed his every nuance, completely absorbed.
“What are you looking at?” he put down his paper.
“Nothing.” Shan Mei replied.
“Is that so?”
“Yes, it’s so.” Shan Mei blushed, knowing she had been caught out.
He grabbed her hand, “Do you know how much I love the way you were just now?”
“What?”
“I love the way you looked when you were watching me…”
“What rubbish are you spouting?” she punched him. The passion in the look that he gave her embarrassed her.

He smiled at her teasingly. He really, really loved the look in her eyes when she had been watching him earlier. She had been so completely absorbed with him, he knew that there could have been nothing else in her heart, in her mind other than him alone. It gave him a feeling of immense satisfaction and contentment; a feeling that he was willing to give up everything for.

During the long journey, she laid her head on his shoulder and fell asleep. As he watched her sweet face, he promised himself that he would watch over her for the rest of his life.

*********End of Chapter 18**********

 

Chapter 19

 

Written By Jennifer
Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
Translated by nho(CA)


After the meeting, Shan Mei hurriedly gave Auntie a call as Jin Huan Chen had left her a voicemail message.

“What’s up? Auntie?”

“Are you available for lunch? Come and have lunch with me! I am just nearby your office.”

“Lunch? ...” Shan Mei found it a little awkward as she had promised to have lunch with Xiang Zhe.

“Didn’t I just have dinner with you last night?” Shan Mei said. Last night she brought with her bags of special products of Gyeongju to Auntie’s place. She told Auntie that she had gone to spend time with her friend in Gyeongju during the Arbor Day holidays.

“What I mean is let’s find a reputable restaurant with good atmosphere and enjoy ourselves without the need to babble with those two jerks at home.”

Shan Mei could not help burst out laughing when she heard this, “Auntie, when have you started babbling? You are the most graceful mannered lady in the world ...”

“Don’t try to flatter me.” Shan Mei’s flatteries made Jin Huan Chen very happy. “It’s settled then, let’s have lunch together?”

“Erh ... OK!”

Shan Mei left a message in Xiang Zhe’s cell phone as he was in a meeting.


Shan Mei and Jin Huan Chen arranged to meet in the restaurant situated on the 63rd Floor of the building. They could watch the scenery while having lunch.

“Why is Auntie in such a good mood today?” Shan Mei asked Jin Huan Chen with a big smile.

However Jin Huan Chen did not reply, she just stared at Shan Mei, wearing a strange smile.

“Auntie, what are you doing?” Shan Mei said uncomprehendingly.

“What am I doing?” Jin Huan Chen, “That is the question I am going to ask you!”

“What do you want to ask me?”

“You are still trying to act dumb in front of Auntie ...”

“Aiyoo, exactly what is happening?” Shan Mei was completely at a loss.

“I am asking you ... Why did you go to Gyeongju?”

Shan Mei was dumbfounded, “I ... Haven’t I told you that I went to Gyeongju to look up a friend!” Shan Mei was feeling guilty.

“Which friend? How come I’ve never heard you mentioned knowing anyone in Gyeongju?”

“Erh ..., well ...” Shan Mei stammered, unable to speak. Jin Huan Chen knew all of her buddies and she did not know how to lie.

“Your so called friend is Xiang Zhe!”

“Auntie ...” Shan Mei’s face immediately flushed crimsoned.

Viewing the situation, Auntie must have asked her to lunch especially in order to interrogate her on this matter. It was strange because when she went over with the presents last night, Auntie did not ask anything, so why did she cross-examine her today.

“Ain’t I right?”

Shan Mei tacitly admitted with a crimsoned face, “Was it Xiu Wei Oppa who told you?” Shan Mei pouted.

Lee Xiu Wei promised to keep it a secret for her.

“I indeed guess it right.” Jin Huan Chen said proudly.

“Yesterday I casually asked Xiu Wei what friend you had in Gyeongju and as a result that boy let slipped and told me that “Xiang Zhe was in Gyeongju” ...” Jin Huan Chen laughed as she spoke, “I then bombarded him with questions. Xiu Wei this boy is really a loyal one and he kept stalling me and finally when I pressed him too hard that he asked me to question you myself ...”

When Auntie set her mind to dig to the bottom of a matter, no one could sustain her tactic. It must be really hard on Xiu Wei Oppa.

“Everyday you say you are busy and as a matter of fact, you are busy dating. You are really tight-lipped and conceal the truth even from Auntie ...” Jin Huan Chen was blaming Shan Mei.

“Auntie ...”

“How long have you and Xiang Zhe been together?”

“Aiyoo, we already know each other for some time!” Shan Mei wanted to play the ignorance with Jin Huan Chen.

She had been hiding Xiang Zhe well. Sometime when Auntie wanted to invite Xiang Zhe home to dinner though Xiu Wei, she forbade him to come. Auntie would question Xiu Wei Oppa every other day about what was happening between Xiang Zhe and Xu Xiu Li. She was afraid that when Xiang Zhe went to Auntie’s place, Auntie would get the clue and keep inquisition her about Xiang Zhe’s matter.

“You are not that kind of person.” Jin Huan Chen declared decisively.

“What do you mean by this kind of person, that kind of person!” Shan Mei muttered.

“You are always a discreet person, and if you are not on intimate terms with him, you wouldn’t have gone to look him up in Gyeongju.”

Shan Mei was made speechless by Jin Huan Chen’s words. Auntie really understood her well and it looked as if she could no longer conceal the truth from her.

“Auntie ...” As soon as Shan Mei started to speak, her cell phone rang.

“Sorry, I am now busy. I will call you later.”

Shan Mei hung up her phone in a hurry. It was Xiang Zhe who called. Auntie was now in a battle of wits with her, why did he have to call now to join in the fun!

“It’s a call from one of my colleagues.” Shan Mei told Jin Huan Chen.

The phone was ringing again. Shan Mei lowered her head and looked, it was Xiang Zhe again.

“Auntie, I have to discuss something with my colleague. Would you please order first? I’ll have the same thing as you.”

Shan Mei went outside to take the call.

“What’s the matter?”

“What’s the matter? That is what I want to ask you? Why did you hang up on me just now?” Xiang Zhe sounded displeased, “Haven’t we arranged to meet for lunch? Why did you suddenly change your mind?”

She left him a brief message in his cell phone, telling him something suddenly popped up and she could not meet him for lunch.

“I’m with Auntie. She came to ask me to have lunch with her.”

“So that is what has happened?” As it was Jin Huan Chen who was with Shan Mei, Xiang Zhe naturally could have nothing to say.

“Yes!” Shan Mei sighed.

“What’s up? Why are you sounding so dispirited?”

“Aye! I am being interrogated by Auntie ...”

“Interrogated? On what?”

“She is interrogating me on what happens between you and me ...”

“Really?” Xiang Zhe sounded jubilantly happy.

“Hey, why are you so pleased?” Shan Mei asked ill-humouredly. She was having a headache trying to think of how to deal with Auntie, but Xiang Zhe seemed very pleased.

“Haven’t you ever heard about the name rectification movement?” Xiang Zhe laughingly said.

“What name rectification movement?”

“That is I can now officially be your boyfriend and need not try to dodge and hide anymore!”

“When have I ever asked you to dodge and hide?” Shan Mei broke into laughter, “Don’t try to make yourself sound so pitiful!”

“Do you want me to come over?” Xiang Zhe asked.

“No way, don’t come and make trouble.” Shan Mei immediately said.

“Make trouble? I just want to share your troubles. I want to come over to help ...”

“Help? You can only cause more trouble. If you did not get me carrying all those Hwang-nam bread and Gyo-dong beop wine home, how would Auntie get curious and start interrogate me?” Shan Mei began to rebuke Xiang Zhe.

“OK, it’s all my fault. Can this be done?”

“It is basically all fault.”

“Where are you having lunch?” Xiang Zhe asked.

“In that western restaurant up on the 63rd floor.”

“It looks like I can only have lunch on my own ...”

“Don’t pretend to look piteous. My lunch won’t be an enjoyable one. My Auntie is very difficult to pacify.”

Xiang Zhe laughed. “Enjoy your lunch!” Xiang Zhe said.

“Thank you!”

“Oh, Shan Mei ...” Xiang Zhe stopped Shan Mei.

“What’s the matter?”

“I don’t mind one tiny bit to be made public by you ...” Xiang Zhe roared with laughter.

He was only too anxious to let the world know that she was her girlfriend.

“Aye, please say something good about me before Auntie!” Xiang Zhe said.

“Have you finished your say yet!”

When they were eating their lunch, Jin Huan Chen tried to dig into the matter.

“Auntie, do you come here to have lunch with me or do you just want to interrogate me?” Shan Mei asked.

Jin Huan Chen simply did not pay Shan Mei any attention and continued to closely question her about her relationship with Xiang Zhe.

“When did you two start to date?”

Shan Mei was busily eating the soup and did not pay Jin Huan Chen any attention.

“Hmm ... this seafood clam soup tastes real good!” Shan Mei said.

She did not have time to eat breakfast this morning and her stomach had long been rumbling with hunger.

“Zhen Shan Mei, I am asking you a question!”

“What ...” Shan Mei looked helpless.

“I am asking you when you and Xiang Zhe started to date?”

“I forgot.”

“What do you mean by forgot?”

“Xiu Wei Oppa introduced us a long time ago and it is such a coincidence that we work in the same building. Sometime when we met, we would go out for a meal together ..., then later ... it gradually changed to what happens now.” Shan Mei answered perfunctory.

“What happens now? Exactly what is happening now?” Jin Huan Chen was very explicit.

“Auntie, you are behaving like you are cross-examining a criminal suspect!” Shan Mei pouted.

“Who asked you to keep me in the dark. To think of me offering to matchmake for you at that time! ... You shouldn’t have already started your relationship with Xiang Zhe then?”

“No.” Shan Mei replied simply and without hesitation.

“How far are you in your relationship?”

“We just go out for meals and go to movies ...” Shan Mei described in a light tone.

“Then ... does he hold your hand?” Jin Huan Chen asked.

“Auntie ...” Shan Mei muttered, her face reddened to her ears. “How can you cross-examine me like this! You simply behave no differently from those gossipy women in the movie ...”

Jin Huan Chen saw how embarrassed Shan Mei looked and too felt that she had gone too far, but she could not hold back her curiosity, “I will ask you one last question and I guarantee I won’t ask anything further about you and Xiang Zhe in the future ...” Jin Huan Chen said.

“Really?” Shan Mei asked, looking at Jin Huan Chen suspiciously.

“Really, I promise ...” Jin Huan Chen wanted to win her niece’s trust, so she nodded repeatedly, “Tell Auntie, has he held your hand yet?”

“Yes ...” Shan Mei shyly nodded.

“Then you ...” Jin Huan Chen was still not satisfied.

Shan Mei cut off Jin Huan Chen’s words, “Auntie, you have already asked the last question.”

“Oh, you girl ...”

While they were eating their lunch, Jin Huan Chen still could not help making oblique references to what was going on between Xiang Zhe and Shan Mei and every time she was warded off by Shan Mei, “Auntie, you have broken your promise.” Shan Mei said.

“I am only concerned about you!”

Jin Huan Chen could not draw anything out from Shan Mei’s mouth and unexpectedly she started singing praises of Xiang Zhe’s virtues, saying that he was young and promising, courteous and polite and possessed no affectation and conceit. Shan Mei was nearly overwhelmed with laughter.

“Auntie, has Yin Xiang Zhe given you any advantage? How can you speak up for him this way?”

“I like that boy from the bottom of my heart ...”

The meal ended in the midst of chatters between aunt and niece.

“Haven’t you arranged to meet with someone? You will be late if you don’t leave now.” Shan Mei reminded Jin Huan Chen.

Sending Jin Huan Chen off, Shan Mei breathed a deep sigh of relief. She came to the cashier to settle the bill, but she was told by the attendant that her bill had already been settled by someone.

“Are you sure it is not a mistake?” Shan Mei asked doubtfully.

“You are Miss Zhen?”

“Yes!”

“Then it’s correct. It was one handsome man who paid for your bill.” The female attendant said.

It must be Xiang Zhe! Shan Mei thought.

Shan Mei looked around but could not find Xiang Zhe’s presence.

“Where is that man?”

“He has left for a while already.” The attendant said.

As soon as she got off the 63rd floor, she got a call from Xiang Zhe.

“Thank you for your lunch.” Shan Mei smilingly said.

“Did you say something favourably for me in front of your auntie?” Xiang Zhe asked.

“No!”

“Why?”

“There is no need.”

“Don’t tell me that I possess nothing that is worthy of praise?” Xiang Zhe did not concede defeat.

Shan Mei gurgled with laughter when she heard this.

“What are you laughing at?”

“Wei, how did you flatter and win approval from Auntie?”

“What do you mean?”

“She continuously sang your praises; she simply praised you to the sky ...”

“Really? What did she say?”

“She said if she had a daughter, she would pick you for her son-in-law.”

“She can still pick me as her nephew-in-law!” Xiang Zhe said.

Shan Mei blushed and did not say a word.

“Aye, why don’t you say something? You shouldn’t be blushing now?”

“I have never seen anyone who is so shameless!” Shan Mei touched her face that was burning hot.

Xiang Zhe’s laughter went through the receiver and drifted into Shan Mei’s ear, “I only thought that you would only feel shy and blush when you are with me. Aye, don’t you know, you look so adorable when you blush?”

“What are you saying?” Shan Mei felt so much sweetness in her heart that her mouth curved up into a beautiful arch.

“Right, it is this kind of smile ... I really love to see you smile. Every time when you smile, my heart will follow suit and smile with you ...”

“And you know I am smiling now?”

“I have supernatural power ...”

“You are uttering nonsense!”

“It’s true ... Now you have wrinkled your nose, ain’t I right?”

“Oh!” Shan Mei was shocked. It looked as though Xiang Zhe was aware of her each and every move. On second thought, Shan Mei guessed what was happening.

“Hey, I want to give you a quiz.” Shan Mei said.

“Feel free to ask your question.”

“What am I wearing today?”

“You are wearing a pink blouse and a light grey suit.”

“You are really awesome!” Shan Mei looked around, trying to search for Xiang Zhe’s form; he must be somewhere in the vicinity.

Xiang Zhe roared with laughter: “Miss Zhen Shan Mei, are you looking for someone?”

“Yes, I’m looking for a villain who loves to play tricks ...”

“You sound as if you are a little bit angry?”

“Yes! I’m mad with anger. I really hate people who plays tricks on me.”

“Would surrender mitigate the penalty?”

“No way.”

“You are really impartial and just.” Xiang Zhe said.

He was hateful, why did he still have to play the hide and seek with her.

“Yin Xiang Zhe, I’ll give you 10 seconds. If you don’t appear before the time is up, I won’t speak to you for three days.” Shan Mei issued the ultimatum.

“Hey ...”

“10 ..., 9 ..., 8 ..., “ Shan Mei paid no attention to Xiang Zhe, looked at her watch and started counting.

When she was counting to 2, Xiang Zhe appeared before Shan Mei grasping for breath.

“One more second and you won’t be on time.” Shan Mei pointed to her watch.

“Miss, you really know how to play trick on people.”

“I just learn that from someone.” Shan Mei proudly declared.

“You are really an excellent pupil.” Xiang Zhe laughingly took hold of Shan Mei’s hand.

“Did you have lunch?” She asked him.

“I had a fried chicken set lunch at MacDonald.”

“Why didn’t you have lunch upstairs?” Shan Mei pointed upwards to the 63rd floor.

“Didn’t you order that I was not to go up to make trouble? I was frightened that I would be reprimanded by you ...”

“An important chairman like you would be frightened of a junior lawyer like me?” Shan Mei pouted.

“I’m normally not afraid of anything, except when Lawyer Zhen Shan Mei is too mad to speak to me.”

“Am I that unreasonable?”

“Sometimes.”

“I will try to improve.”

“Really?”

“I always engage in introspection.”

“Take a stroll with me?” Xiang Zhe said.

“I will be late for work.” Shan Mei looked at her watch, it was already 1:30 p.m.

“Your office won’t be that rigid!” Shan Mei’s office did not require its staff to wipe their cards in the time clock when they started and finished work.

The two of them walked hand in hand along the footpath by the waterfront of River Han.

“If I get the sack, you are to be held responsible.” Shan Mei said.

“If you were sacked, I would definitely take full responsibility.”

“Oh ...” She cast a look at him winsomely, “How are you going to take responsibility?”

“Well ... How about caring for all your food and lodging for the rest of your life?”

Shan Mei glared with her big eyes and said with a blushing face: “What are you talking about, they are all nonsense!”

Xiang Zhe grinned, “Don’t worry, I’m not proposing. If I propose like this, it will be too unromantic and if I were in your place, I won’t accept it too.”

“Thank you for being so generous, but I have done nothing to deserve the honour. I am a woman with strong self-respect.” Shan Mei said.

“Then how do you want me to be responsible?”

Shan Mei considered, then pursed her lips and said: “It is very simple, you just let me to have a good cry on your shoulder in the event that I am given the sack.”

“That’s no problem! My shoulder will be for you to borrow anytime you are willing, but ...”

“But what?”

“I hate to see you cry ...”

“You are not reneging on your words?”

“No.”

“That’s good, let’s shake on it?”

“Deal.”

Shan Mei childishly sealed the pact by hooking her little finger with Xiang Zhe’s.


“Aye, my shoulder is now available for you to lean on?”

Xiang Zhe extended his hand to pull her into his arm.

“What are you doing? It’s broad daylight ...” Shan Mei laughingly warded off Xiang Zhe’s hand, took to her heel and ran off.

“Hey ...” Xiang Zhe ran after her.


That day, it was already past 2:00 p.m. when Shan Mei got back to the office. Half of the people in the office starred at her. She was so embarrassed that she just wanted to bury herself in a hole on the ground.

It was all Yin Xiang Zhe’s fault! She must even the score with him this evening, Shan Mei muttered, but without knowing the reason why, her heart was feeling so much sweetness ...

- End of Chapter 19 –

 

Chapter 20

 

By Jennifer
Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
Translated by Jules

“Zhen Shan Mei, thank you for coming to my party,” Xu Ming Dao thanked Shan Mei.
“I should be the one thanking you. I really had a good time today,” Shan Mei said.
Xu Ming Dao was Xiang Zhe’s good friend, and often played basketball with him. Xu Ming Dao celebrated his birthday that day, and got Xiang Zhe to invite Shan Mei along.

“You were the most beautiful person today!” Xu Ming Dao said.
“Oh?” Shan Mei smiled, embarrassed.
Xiang Zhe patted Xu Ming Dao on the shoulder and said, “You little rascal! How dare you try to flirt with my girlfriend in front of me..! If Deng Zhong Hui was here, I doubt you would dare utter words like this!” Xiang Zhe glanced meaningfully at Xu Ming Dao’s car, where his girlfriend Deng Zhong Hui sat waiting.
“Ha, ha…” Xu Ming Dao wagged his eyebrows at Xiang Zhe, “You should be happy that I am complimenting your girlfriend!”
“In that case, thank you, then.”

After they got into the car, Xiang Zhe continued to smile at Shan Mei.
“Why are you looking like that?”
Xiang Zhe’s eyes were dancing with delight, and Shan Mei felt uncomfortable with it.
“You ARE really beautiful today…”
She was wearing a simple white dress. Although it was not as fancy as what the other women wore, its very simplicity exuded an air of elegance that drew everyone’s attention. He was proud and pleased about that.
“You’re only trying to please me…. All the other women there were much more beautiful.”
She didn’t know that Xu Ming Dao had hired a venue at an exclusive club, so did not have a dress for the occasion. All the other women were dressed to the nines, and she had felt very plain in contrast.
“No matter how I look at it, you were still the prettiest…”
“Why are you being so sweet today?”
“Even Xu Ming Dao agrees with me…”

“Is Xu Ming Dao about to get married?” Shan Mei asked.
“Why do you ask?”
Shan Mei smiled but did not reply.
She had sat next to Xu Ming Dao and his girlfriend. They were so intimate with each other, she felt embarrassed to be present.
“He was taking things a little too far..” Xiang Zhe smiled.

Xiang Zhe took the freeway, but did not take the route to go home.
“Where are we going?” Shan Mei asked.
“I’m taking you for a drive, just to relax a little,” Xiang Zhe replied.
“Why do you feel I need to relax?”
“You’re a little strange today…”
Shan Mei chuckled, “What’s so strange about me today? I had really been enjoying myself!”
“You didn’t talk much, and seemed rather distracted.”
Any other person would not have noticed this, but Xiang Zhe knew her too well, and could read her every move.
“I can’t hide anything from you, can I?”
“Is it work?”
“I guess you could say that…but you could also say it isn’t really work-related.”
“What do you mean?”
Shan Mei stopped for a moment, then came clean, “Today, I bumped into someone I didn’t really want to meet. He and I will be doing a project together.”

Today, she met Song Shuo Mao.
When Jiang Zhan Ting told her that she would be in charge of the Jinhai Group’s IPO, she already thought she might end up meeting Song Shuo Mao, unless he had changed jobs. When they broke up, Song Shuo Mao had been working in Jinhai Group’s Corporate financing department. She had briefly considered asking Jiang Zhan Ting to give the project to someone else, but changed her mind after careful deliberation. Song Shuo Mao and her no longer had anything to do with each other, and the worst that could happen was that she would feel very uncomfortable. Uncomfortable, that was all.

The Jinhai Groups’ account was one that the company had fought hard to win, and there was a high possibility that they would have many projects with them. Even if she could have avoided him this time, there would be many other opportunities for them to meet. It would be impossible for her to completely avoid that.

Much to her disappointment, Song Shuo Mao was there at the kick-off meeting today. When they exchanged name cards, she greeted him as a stranger.
“Mr Song, I’m so glad to meet you.”
Over the last year, Song Shuo Mao had been promoted from senior manager to department head, and the bosses seemed to hold him in high regard, leaving him completely in charge of the project.
“Long time no see, Miss Zhen,” Song Shuo Mao smiled as he greeted her.
“Do you know Miss Zhen, Mr Song?” Jiang Zhan Tin asked, surprised.
“We had met during our days as interns,” Song Shuo Mao replied.
“Why didn’t you mention this to me before?” Jiang Zhen Ting reprimanded.
“I think Miss Zhen might not remember me….” Song Shuo Mao bailed her out.

“Oh?” Xiang Zhe looked at Shan Mei with a strange and speculative look.
Other than the occasional grumble about the stress of her work, he had never heard her actually complain about either her clients or her colleagues.
“What sort of a look is that..? Don’t tell me you’ve never met someone you did not want to see?”
Xiang Zhe was stunned for a moment, before changing tact and teasing her, “Of course I have! I never want to meet any rivals for your attention!”
“I’m worried that it might affect my work.”
“You won’t. I’m sure of it.” Xiang Zhe smiled.
“And how would YOU know…”
“I just do.”
Shan Mei finally smiled. Perhaps Xiang Zhe was right. Sometimes he seemed to know her better than herself. Today, when she saw the smug Song Shuo Mao, she felt nothing at all. It was almost as though there was a mountain separating the two of them.

“What would you like to do on Saturday?” Xiang Zhe asked.
Saturday was two days away, and he had no intentions of going into the office that day.
“You seem to have a lot of free time lately.”
Xiang Zhe had been keeping her company almost every weekend lately. When they first started going out, it was difficult to catch him even on Sundays and public holidays.
“I’ve been trying to get all my work done during weekdays.”
“You’ve changed….” She smiled at him.
“That’s because there are other things in my life right now that are more important than work.” He took her hand in his.

“Let’s go up to the snowfields for the weekend.” Xiang Zhe suggested.
“No way, I’ve got stuff to do.”
“Do you have to work?”
“No,” Shan Mei shook her head, “My dad’s coming home, and I have to clean up before he gets here.” She had been too busy to do any housework recently.

“I’ll help you then!”
“Really?”
“Actually, I have other motives in mind,” Xiang Zhe said.
“What other motives?”
“I have to find some excuse to make my way into your home!”
“What a schemer!”
“What else can I do when you never allow me into the house.”
“You’ve never asked!”
“I’ve been waiting for an invitation.”
Shan Mei smiled. She had been brought up to never invite a man into her home.
“I have never known you to be so courteous.”
Xiang Zhe scratched his head, “Miss Zhen, how long are we going to keep arguing like this?”
“Didn’t you just say I have been too quiet tonight?” Shan Mei teased.
Xiang Zhe put his hands up, “OK, OK, I surrender.”

Shan Mei looked at her watch and then said, “I want to buy something for Dad.”
The departmental stores had just started their spring sales, and she wanted to get some clothes for her father. The two of them made their way to the men’s department at Lotte departmental store..
“These trousers are pretty nice…” Shan Mei bought two pairs of casual pants.
“Why don’t you try them on as well?” She asked him.
“That’s alright.” He shook his head.
“Miss, are you helping this gentleman select some clothing?” the sales person asked enthusiastically.
Shan Mei glanced at Xiang Zhe, “Do you have any styles that are younger?” she asked.
“Of course, why don’t you try those over there..”
“Didn’t you want to buy something for your Dad?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“Why can’t my dad wear some younger styles?” She looked at him as she made her way.
Shan Mei selected a blue top and asked Xiang Zhe to try it on for her.
“Does your father also like this colour?” Xiang Zhe asked. He preferred blue.
“Aiyo! You ask too much!” Shan Mei complained.
Xiang Zhe had a naturally good build and looked excellent in anything. The saleperson could not stop complimenting him.
“Sir really looks good in this.”
“Look how everyone’s complimenting you!” Shan Mei smiled, “Why don’t you try this T-shirt on as well?”
“Don’t bother. As long as the T-shirt has a round neck and sleeves that are long enough, it will do.” Xiang Zhe thought it too troublesome.
“Can you please be a little more co-operative?” Shan Mei pouted.
“Oh… you’re one troublesome little lady.”
Xiang Zhe had no choice but to let the sales person get his size and put it on for Shan Mei to see.
He let her toy with her for almost half a day, one moment trying onlong pants, the next jackets, until it was almost closing time.
Shan Mei finally went back to the first department and selected two pairs of casual pants and a light jacket, paid for them and asked the salesperson to gift wrap them.

Xiang Zhe was completely exasperated, “Just what were you trying to prove?” he asked.
“I wanted to see how those clothes looked when someone was wearing them! If all I needed to select was the size, then I wouldn’t have needed you to be here! Those things that you tried on just now were all too young for my father.” She explained rationally.
Xiang Zhe almost fainted.
“Were you just trying my patience?”
“Uh… you guessed it. Why are you so smart?” Shan Mei answered easily.

Xiang Zhe turned up at Shan Mei’s home on Saturday afternoon as agreed.
“My, you’re punctual! Two o’clock to the second! I’m impressed!” Shan Mei teased.
“Wah! Who’s little girl is this?” Xiang Zhe stepped back to appraise her.
She had her hair in two ponytails, and was wearing overalls, looking all of seventeen.
“You’re despicable!” she glared at him.
“This is for my darling girlfriend,” Xiang Zhe put a bouquet of red roses in Shan Mei’s hand. Although Shan Mei preferred white roses to red, he still preferred to give her red roses as a symbol of his love for her.
“You must be the first person to give flowers to the person who is about to work them to death.” Shan Mei smiled sweetly.
He followed her into the house.
“If that’s the case, do I get a reward?” Xiang Zhe asked shrewdly.
“You haven’t even started work, and you’re already asking for a reward? Aren’t you being too greedy?”
“Didn’t you know I’ve always been very greedy?”
He hugged her from behind, and brushed his lips across her neck.
She pulled him off, “I’m full of dust…”
“I don’t mind…” he grinned.

Shan Mei took Xiang Zhe on a quick tour of the house, but tried to breeze past her own bedroom.
“We haven’t looked at this room.” Xiang Zhe stopped and refused to budge.
“It’s out of bounds to men.” Shan Mei smiled as she stopped him from entering.
“Even the girls dormitories in school were open to male student on open days….come on, let me in. I’ve come a long way for this.”
Shan Mei laughed, “You’ve driven less than 10 minutes to get here. You consider that a long way?”
“I’ll just have a quick glance…” Xiang Zhe pleaded.
Shan Mei had no choice, but to let him in.
“You only have one minute.” Shan Mei said shyly.
He loved that look on her face.

Xiang Zhe stood at the door and looke inside.
The room was decorated very elegantly. The wallpaper, furniture and wonder coverings were all off-white. A watercolour of Cambridge was hung on one wall.
“Did you paint this?”
Shan Mei smiled and nodded.
Xiang Zhe the cast his eyes on the display of all shapes and sizes of Winnie the Pooh/
“You have so many cuddlies?” Xiang Zhe smiled as he asked.
“I started collecting them when I was in primary school. After I turned fifteen, I would buy myself one each year for Christmas as a souvenir of how I felt that year.”
Xiang Zhe itched to know what she bought for herself the year before. It was when they fell in love.
Xiang Zhe’s gaze searched the display.
“What did you buy last year?” he asked casually.
“I bought th…” Shan Mei quicly minced her words, “Why are you asking?” she punched him.
“Come on, tell me!”
“No way!”
“Is it that sour-faced Winnie hugging that tree to death?”
Shan Mei bent over laughing. It was obviously a bear who was fast asleep, but he had misinterpreted it on purpose.
“Why do you think it was that one?”
“Because I want to be the tree that you hug to death.”
“What nonsense!” Shan Mei laughed until tears were in her eyes.
“So? Am I right?”
“Absolutely not!”
“Then which one is it?”
“Forget it! I will never tell!”
“Sourpuss!” Xiang Zhe looked at her helplessly.
Shan Mei smiled smugly. It wasn’t often that she could keep him hanging like this.
Last year, she had bought a little girl with a red balloon. The balloon was big and round and full, just like how she felt filled with happiness.

“Hey, what’s this little one doing on your bed?”
Xiang Zhe’s sharp eyes spotted the Pooh Bear that he had won for her in Gyeongju next to her pillow.
“That…uh…ah….I forgot to put it back this morning.” Shan Mei blushed bright red.
The bear had been sleeping with her every night, ever since Xiang Zhe gave it to her.

“Alright, let’s go!” Shan Mei ordered. If she let him remain here any longer, God knows what else he would find.

After looking around, Xiang Zhe realized that the house seemed spick and span, with everything in its place. It seemed as if Shan Mei had already cleaned up.
“Wasn’t I supposed to be helping you clean?” he asked.
“Did you really think I would make you clean my house the first time you visit?”
Xiang Zhe was normally rushed off his feet at work, and seldom found the time to relax. She couldn’t bring herself to make him help her out on his day off. Just the fact that he offered his help was enough for her. Because he had been working very late the night before, she told him to come over after lunch, so he could sleep in and catch up on his rest. She managed to finish all she needed to do during the morning.

“In that case, I’m the knight in shining armour with no damsel to rescue!”
Shan Mei smiled and nodded, “I’m afraid so.”
“In that case, why did you still ask me to come over?”
“Didn’t you say you wanted to visit?”
Xiang Zhe laughed.

“I tell you what. Why don’t I help you mow the lawn?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“Mow the lawn?.... There’s no need. That’s hard work. I’m getting someone in on Monday to do it.”
“Why don’t you give me a chance to show you what I can do? I’m pretty good at it!” Xiang Zhe bragged. “Do you have a lawn mower?”
“There’s one in the shed…”
Xiang Zhe was as good as his word. He pushed the lawn mower around the yard, and was already finished by the time she tidied the kitchen.
“You’re quick!” Shan Mei brought a drink out to Xiang Zhe. “You must be tired. My father always said mowing was too much hard work and forbade me to do it.”
He father always paid someone to mow the lawns when he was around.
“How did you become so good at it?”
“Because I needed to earn some money.”
“What?”
“I’m just pulling your leg… When I was in England, my friend’s father was mowing the lawn when I visited, and asked him to teach us; After that, someone needed lawns to be mown, so we decided to take up the job to earn some extra pocket money, and just for the fun of it.”
“Yin Xiang Zhe, you amaze me.” Shan Mei said in awe.
“That phrase sounds awfully familiar…” Xiang Zhe replied. It was the same words he used on her when he bumped into her and she helped him tidy up the documents that he dropped at the Chamsung cocktail.
“My skills at re-arranging documentation pales when compared with what you can do.” She, too, remember that day.
“You’re being too modest. You have some truly amazing talents…”
“What sort of amazing talent would I possess?”
“You have the amazing talent of completely mesmerizing me!”
“In that case, I’d better find a way to snap you out of your delirium!” Saying that, Shan Mei picked up the hose and hosed Xiang Zhe down. The move was unexpected, and Xiang Zhe did not have enough time to react before he was drenched.
“You little sprite! Just watch what I can do…” Xiang Zhe said, rubbing his hands.
Shan Mei threw down the hose and ran away, but did not get far before Xiang Zhe caught her.
“Don’t!” Shan Mei pleaded, trying to dodge.
“Don’t what?” Xiang Zhe laughed
“Don’t hose me down…”
“Do unto others as you would others do unto you…. I’m not going to let you off so easily today.”
Xiang Zhe grabbed the hose and proceeded to hose her down.
“Yin Xiang Zhe!!!!” Shan Mei yelled as she tried to wrestle the hose from Xiang Zhe. Instead, she inadvertently turned the hose onto herself, and was drenched anyway.
“Hey! I hadn’t even done anything, and you’ve turned the hose on yourself….” Xiang Zhe quickly turned the tap off.
“It’s all your fault!” Shan Mei complained.
“You started it!” Xiang Zhe tapped Shan Mei on the head lightly.

The breeze picked up. “Ah-choo!” Shan Mei sneezed.
“You’d better go in and change. Don’t catch a cold.” Xiang Zhe said.
“What about you?”
“I’ll change when I get home.”
“No way!” Shan Mei pulled him into the house.
She produced a set of clothes for Xiang Zhe, “The bathroom is the door on the right when you get to the top of the stairs.”
“How can I fit into your father’s clothes?” Xiang Zhe asked. Shan Mei’s father was at least two sizes smaller.
“Can you just be a little more co-operative?” Shan Mei pushed him on, “Don’t you dare catch a cold and leave me with a guilty conscience.”

After Xiang Zhe had a shower, he pulled out the clothes and was delighted.
It was a set of brand new clothes; A light blue T-shirt and white trousers in his size.
When Xiang Zhe had finished changing, Shan Mei was nowhere in sight.
“Shan Mei!” He called for her from outside her bedroom, but did not get a reply. She was probably still having her shower.

Xiang Zhe made his way to the living room and found the NBA broadcast on TV. The Lakers were playing the Marleys and it was a close game. Xiang Zhe was immediately immersed in it. He was a fan of the Marleys.

“Wah, it’s your favourite team…” Shan Mei commented from behind.
Xiang Zhe turned to find her standing behind him in a pinstriped shirt and white skirt.
He smiled broadly at her.
“What are you smiling at?” Shan Mei asked as she adjusted her clothes uncomfortably.
“I’ve never seen you looking like this.” Xiang Zhe’s lips curved, “You look very…”
“Very what? Very…. Nerdy?”
“Very homely, and very attractive.”
Shan Mei chuckled, “I didn’t know homely and attractive could be used to describe the same thing!”
Xiang Zhe grabbed her and sat her down next to him.
“You don’t look too bad..” Shan Mei assessed him.
“When did your father grow two sizes larger?” He asked with a Cheshire cat grin.
“You ask too many questions…”
When she made him try out clothes that day, she took note of his sizes and went back to the shops yesterday to buy a few items for him. She had originally intended to keep them for a while before giving them to him. She certainly didn’t expect that they would become useful so suddenly.
Xiang Zhe frowned, “Why didn’t you dry your hair properly? You may end up with a headache…”
He picked up the towel he had discarded on the sofa earlier, and proceeded to dry her hair.
“I can do it myself.” Shan Mei was embarrassed.
“You blush at the drop of a hat!” Xiang Zhe put his arm around her shoulders.
“I’m just hot!” she countered.
Xiang Zhe secretly laughed. It was only about 22 or 23 degrees indoors.
“Oh dear! I’m also starting to feel rather hot…” Xiang Zhe looked at her with passion.
The scent of her body and her hair was making his heart beat faster.
“You smell so good…” he couldn’t stop himself from bringing his face closer to hers.
“Don’t….” Shan Mei’s face reddened as she shook her head. She tried to move, but couldn’t. Xiang Zhe’s arms were holding her firmly in place.
“I can’t help it. I’m unable to resist…” his voice was thick with passion.

In the end, his warm lips met with hers, as if in a dream…..

His tender, sensitive kisses made her weak and delirious; his passionate, hot kisses made her tremble and lose herself….she let go of her inhibitions and returned his kisses with her own heat and passion.

She had never felt this way before. When their lips met, it was as if they were giving and receiving love from each other. They felt so close, so connected, so…..

Xiang Zhe kissed her with all the passion that he had in his heart, giving her all of his love.

“The game is starting….” Shan Mei whispered, but her words were swallowed by Xiang Zhe in yet another kiss.

It was as if he hadn’t heard her, as his kisses started to move downwards.

“Rrrriiiiinnnng, rrriing!” the telephone rang.
They let it ring, unwilling to pull themselves out of the sweetness in which they were drowning…..

The answering machine kicked in after ten rings. “This is Zhen Shan Mei. I’m unable to come to the phone right now. Please leave a message after the tone, and I will return your call…”
“Shan Mei, this is Dad…” Gui Cheng’s voice rang out.
“Oh!” The two of them were finally shocked out of their skins. Shan Mei hurriedly pushed Xiang Zhe aside and picked up the phone as she stood up.
“Dad!”
“I thought you might not have been home… you took a long time to answer.” Gui Cheng commented.
Shan Mei turned bright red, “I… um… I was busy in the kitchen…”
Xiang Zhe’s face was completely red as well.

“Have you fixed your travel dates?”
Gui Cheng said he would be home the next Saturday.
“I’ll pick you up at the airport.”
“Have you thought about what I said to you the last time?” Gui Cheng asked.
“Aiyo…. Dad!”
Her trip to Gyeongju with Xiang Zhe had become and open secret with her family, and her father in London was also naturally in the loop. He wanted her to arrange for him to meet Xiang Zhe.

“Didn’t Auntie already tell you all about him?” Shan Mei lowered her voice. She had gone through this a few times with her father, but he still insisted on meeting Xiang Zhe.
“I have to meet the person who is trying to take my precious daughter from me!” Gui Cheng was adamant.
“Alright then! I’ll let him know.” Shan Mei agreed reluctantly.

“What’s wrong? Why are you looking so glum?”
Shan Mei sighed, “My father wants to meet you when he comes over this time around.”
“Is that so?” Xiang Zhe smiled.
She had expected him to be anxious, but he was nowhere near it.
“Yes, that’s so, Mr Yin!”
“It’s only natural that I should pay him a visit.” Xiang Zhe stated with conviction.
“Why don’t I detect even a speck of anxiety in you?” Shan Mei couldn’t for the life of her figure out why he was so smug.
Why was he always so full of confidence? She, on the other hand, was a bundle of nerves everytime she thought about the two of them meeting.
Xiang Zhe laughed, “Did I say I wasn’t nervous? My heart is now beating nineteen to the dozen….”
“Is that right?”
“Do you want to hear it?” He tried to pull her into his embrace.
“You’re incorrigible!” Shan Mei laughed as she shied away.
“To be honest, it’s inevitable that I would be nervous at meeting your father…. However, because of you, I have every intention of doing so, even if it’s going to cost me my head.”
“Really?” She was moved.
“You can’t catch a tiger if you don’t go to its lair.”
“Are you implying that I’m a tiger (translator’s note: A tiger is a fierce and unreasonable woman)?” Shan Mei glared at him.
“Uh… You are a little bit like a tiger right at this moment…” Xiang Zhe replied.
“Yin Xiang Zhe!...”
“Ouch! That really hurts!” Xiang Zhe exclaimed as he received her punches, “You haven’t been having lessons in martial arts, have you?” Xiang Zhe teased as he dodged her blows.
“Are you afraid now? Let me tell you…I’m well versed in all the arts.” Shan Mei replied through gritted teeth.
“Is that so? In that case, I’d better reconsider my position…” Xiang Zhe laughed as he stood up from the sofa. He was enjoying himself immensely, and had no intention of stopping her.

The two of them sparred for a few more minutes before Shan Mei gave up.
“You’re getting more and more impossible!” Shan Mei sat down on the sofa, breathing hard.
“I’m not the one who started it…” Xiang Zhe unceremoniously laid his head on her shoulder.
“It was you, of course!” Shan Mei said.
“I beg to differ.”
Shan Mei was piqued, “You were the one who called me a tiger!”
“I said nothing of the sort!”
“You said you couldn’t catch a tiger if you didn’t enter the lair.”
“That was only a figure of speech. I never implied that you were a tiger. You decided that all on your own.” Xiang Zhe laughed.

“Hey, let’s continue where we left off.” Xiang Zhe lightly prodded her with his shoulder.
“What?” Shan Mei glared at him.
“Let’s finish off what we were doing.”
“No way!” Shan Mei turned completely red.
Xiang Zhe smothered his laughter and kept up the pretense, “Hey, what were you thinking? I was talking about the basketball game…”
“….!”
Shan Mei buried her face in the cushion, completely embarrassed. Xiang Zhe rolled on the floor laughing at the success of his practical joke.

*******End of Chapter 20 *******

 

 

Chapter 21

 

Written By Jennifer
Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
Translated by nho(CA)


During the three days from Wednesday to Friday, Shan Mei stayed in Gimhae Holdings to conduct due diligence examination work. There was quite a number of subsidiary companies under the Gimhae Holdings Group and every subsidiary which held an earning ratio of 10% of the Group must be included in the checklist. In order to coordinate with the timeline of the entire plan of distribution, she must finish the whole examination and evaluation process within 3 days and confirm that the plan of distribution conformed to law. On the early morning of Wednesday, she and her colleague Su Wen Yan went and stationed in Gimhae’s office which was situated in Gangnam and commenced their work. They must complete the examination of Gimhae headquarter’s operation that day.

However, things did not run as smoothly as planned. The documents which were required to be examined were not properly prepared and produced by Gimhae. Some of the minutes of directors’ meetings and important contracts were missing. When they requested the missing information from the officers in charge, the answer they got in return was that they must first obtain approval from Song Shuo Mao. Song Shuo Mao was in meetings and could not be contacted. In order to save time, all they could do was to review and examine some significant transaction contracts in the data room. When they encountered problems, the officer in charge would either say he was not clear about the contract details, or he would answer that it was not convenient for him to disclose confidential business information. After a whole morning, they would only finish reading a small portion of the documents. “If we proceed at this rate, we won’t be able to complete the work even within tomorrow.” Su Wen Yan shook his head and sighed, “How can a company as big as this one can have such bad management.”

When it was near noon, Shan Mei went to Song Shuo Mao’s office.

When Song Shuo Mao saw Shan Mei, he revealed a surprise and pleased expression.

“Shan Mei … Oh… No, Lawyer Zhen, sit down, please sit down!” Song Shuo Mao said intimately.

“Thank you, Assistant Director Song … I will leave as soon as I have said what I need to say …”

Shan Mei’s cool and indifferent attitude made Song Shuo Mao feel embarrassed and awkward.

“You … Do you have to talk to me in such a manner?” Song Shuo Mao said helplessly.

“The way I talk to you is no different than how I talk to the other clients.” Shan Mei said indifferently.

“I know it’s me who let you down …” Song Shuo Mao said in a low voice. It’s him who had failed her. It was only right and proper that she did not show him a good face.

“I’m here to discuss business.” Shan Mei cut Song Shuo Mao off.

Song Shuo Mao remained silent for a moment and gently sighed, “OK! Is there anything I can do for Lawyer Zhen?”

“Can I ask your company to provide us with a complete set of legal documents as detailed in the list for us to examine. This way we can then finish the examination work on or before the time scheduled. This is the list of missing documents …”

Song Shuo Mao took a look at that full list and frowned, “I’m sorry, my subordinates are inexperienced. In the past we only did our capital financing domestically and there wasn’t so much demand. I will immediately instruct them to provide you with the missing documents … Anything more?” Song Shuo Mao said apologetically.

“Can you appoint someone who is more familiarized with the business to assist us. There are some questions we may need further consultation.”

“If you don’t have any objection, can I be the one to accept the consultation?”

Song Shuo Mao’s gingerly tone made Shan Mei feel a little sorry.

“You need only to make available to us someone who is familiar with the business.” Shan Mei’s tone of voice sounded milder. She actually did not want to talk to Song Shuo Mao in such a fashion, but she did not know why the words she uttered always sounded stiff and rigid.

“It doesn’t matter, anyway I am available this afternoon.”

“It’s up to you! I have to get back to work.”

“Lawyer Zhen … At noon …”

When Song Shuo Mao was about to invite Shan Mei and Su Wen Yan to lunch, the door to his office was opened suddenly.

“Shuo Mao …”

A bright and gorgeous woman walked into Song Shuo Mao’s office. Shan Mei recognized her to be Gimhae Holdings’ assistant director of finance, Lee Shen Ai. She met her at the kick off meeting last week and Jiang Zhan Ting told her that Lee Shen Ai was the daughter of the chairman of Gimhaeo Holdings.

“Assistant Director Lee …” Shan Mei greeted Lee Shen Ai.

Lee Shen Ai was surprised to find Shan Mei in Song Shuo Mao’s office, “Lawyer Zhen is here? You want to see Shuo Mao for something?”

Lee Shen Ai called Shuo Mao’s first name in front of Shan Mei. It looked as though the two of them had another kind of relationship beside that of a common colleague relationship.

“Lawyer Zhen is seeing me regarding the due diligence examination matter.” Song Shuo Mao said.

“I won’t disturb you any more.” Shan Mei nodded to both of them, then turned and walked out.

At noon, Shan Mei and Su Wen Yan went to have lunch at the restaurant downstairs and they saw from a distance Song Shuo Mao and Lee Shen Ai sitting at the other corner of the restaurant. “I heard that Assistant Director Song and the Chairman Lee’s daughter are dating.” Su Wen Yan said.

“They look well matched.” Shan Mei smiled.

In the afternoon, Song Shuo Mao appointed an experienced staff member who was most familiarized with the running of the business to assist them. They could then finish their examination work before midnight. As the progress in the morning lacked too far behind, she originally thought they would have to stay very late to work overtime. Song Shuo Mao came over to eat with them during dinner time. She had some conversation with him but it was mainly regarding business.

Under Song Shuo Mao’s special attention and total coordination, the examination work on Thursday and Friday were carried out very smoothly. On Friday night after 9:00 p.m., Shan Mei walked out from the Gimhae Group office building. Although she had to prepare a written report, the most difficult task of the examination work had now been completed and the psychological pressure could now lessen a lot. Tomorrow she planned to sleep until she woke up naturally and would happily go to meet her father in the airport. She was going to have a relaxing weekend and would wait until Sunday night before she took care of the written report! The thought of meeting with her father soon made her fatigued face reveal a smile.

“Zhen Shan Mei …”

Song Shuo Mao’s voice sounded from behind. Shan Mei hesitated for a moment and stopped walking.

“Anything the matter?” She coolly asked.

“Well … Are you done with the examination work?”

Shan Mei nodded.

Then there was a long period of awkward silence.

“Goodbye.” Shan Mei turned and left.

“Can … I give you a lift?” Song Shuo Mao caught up with her.

“It’s convenient for me to take the metro.” She rejected his offer straight to the point.

During the past couple of days, she realized that Song Shuo Mao seemed to continue to create opportunity to spend time with her alone. Yet she did not want to give him this opportunity. What happened between him and her was in the past. Apart from that unavoidable awkwardness when she had to face him, her heart was clear and bright and she did not need any apologies from him.

“Shan Mei …”

“Please call me Lawyer Zhen, can you?”

“…” Song Shuo Mao stayed silent.

“Have a nice weekend.”

Shan Mei walked swiftly away.

After getting out from the metro station, Shan Mei slowly walked along the red stone path. The distance between the metro station and her dwelling place was some 10 minutes walk. Tonight the sky was very beautiful and the stars were twinkling up above. At this moment, if only Xiang Zhe could be with her, how perfect would it be!

“Yin Xiang Zhe , don’t you know I’m thinking of you?” Shan Mei said it in her heart.

Recently, Xiang Zhe spent most of his time waiting at the laboratory in Incheon. She missed him so much … Although he would phone her every day, her heart still felt so empty, as if it was missing something.

Her cell phone was ringing, it was from Xiang Zhe.

“Are you still in your office, working late?” Xiang Zhe asked her.

Shan Mei smiled, “How do you know I’m not at home?”

“I just called you at home, but nobody answered.”

“I’m on my way and will be home in 5 minutes’ time!” Shan Mei said.

“Any progress on your work?” She asked him.

Xiang Zhe’s company was researching and developing a new technology and as the head of the Research and Development Team, he had to stay and work hard with them in Incheon.

“Just a small breakthrough.” Xiang Zhe said.

“A small step in the beginning may become the foundation for the achievement of the large step in future.”

Xiang Zhe laughed, “You should write a novel on pursue of goal with determination.”

“What are you doing?”

“I’m … thinking of you.”

Xiang Zhe’s tender voice made her want to weep.

“Do you know what I want the most now?” Shan Mei asked.

“What?”

“I want to lean on your shoulders and let you hold me tight. Just five minutes is enough.”

“Really?” Xiang Zhe’s laughter contained infinite happiness.

“Huh.”

“Perhaps you wish may come true.”

“In my dream?” Shan Mei felt both pity and sweetness in her heart.

When Shan Mei turned around the street corner and saw Xiang Zhe striding towards her, wearing a big tender smile, Shan Mei was so happy that tears started falling down.

“Am I dreaming? Yin Xiang Zhe?” She asked him idotically.

“No.” He stared at her intently with profound love.

“How come you are back?”

When he called her at noon, he told her that he would be back tomorrow night.

“Because I am missing you.”

She stood on where she was and stupidly looked at the tenderness in his eyes.

“Has someone said that she wished to lean on my shoulders and let me hold her tight?”

He stretched out his arms and tightly embraced her.

“Thank you for making my wish come true.”

She nestled in his warm embrace, feeling his breath, his body warmth, his heart beats with happiness flowing through her heart.

His shoulders were the world’s warmest harbour. In there, she could shake off all dejection, troubles, fatigue and sadness. She needed only to anchor there, feeling relief and peaceful.

“It looks like the five minutes is up.” Shan Mei said softly and delicately.

Xiang Zhe softly whispered in Shan Mei’s ear: “I also want a five-minute hug, the next five minutes belongs to me.”

They held on each other tightly and remained so for many five-minutes more.

“An hour and half ago, I stood in the square in front of the office building, watching the stars in the sky and recalling how we watched the stars in Gyeongju. At that moment, the only thought in my mind was to see you immediately, so I jumped into the car and drove non-stop to Seoul.”

“I also thought of the stars in Gyeongju.”

She could not forget their first kiss up on that little hill; she could not forget how he tenderly told her that she was the girl he had searching for.

The two of them went to Shan Mei’s place, hand in hand with fingers entwined.

“Why didn’t you wait for me at the door?” She said to him.

“I wanted to see you as soon as possible.”

“Silly goose, the five-minute does not make a difference …”

“It was by five minutes too late that I missed meeting you on the plane …”

Shan Mei laughed, “Didn’t we meet again?”

“Maybe if it were five minutes earlier, you would fall in love with me earlier.” Xiang Zhe said, looking serious.

Shan Mei puckered in smile.

“Have you finished with those examination work?” Xiang Zhe asked.

“Huh, now all that needs to be done is the written report.”

“Working with that person you don’t want to see, did you cope with him well?”

Shan Mei lowered her head and thought. She said: “Actually when I dealt with him face to face, I then discovered that all my worries were unnecessary.”

“Then I can cease to worry … I was so worried you would become sick working with so much resentment!”

“Am I a person of mean spirit?”

“You really aren’t …” Xiang Zhe said jealously: “You are very tolerant to other people.”

“What do you mean?”

“Could it be that I have said something incorrect?” Xiang Zhe’s mouth lifted at the corners, “You could stay in a tiff with me and ignore me for one whole week!”

Xiang Zhe recalled after he got hurt in a motor vehicle accident, how Shan Mei stayed in a cold war with him.

“Why do you have to dig up an old grudge?” Shan Mei pouted.

“Because it really hurt here at that time.” Xiang Zhe touched his chest and said.

“Do you think that you were the only one who was hurting? … I didn’t feel good either. I was angry with you but at the same time was worried about your wound …” Shan Mei’s eyes reddened when she spoke.

“Aiyoo! I was only joking and … you are crying … I’m sorry, very sorry. It’s me who have said something wrong.” Xiang Zhe wrapped his arms around Shan Mei and murmured his apologies.

“You haven’t said anything wrong …” Shan Mei rubbed her eyes, “I was especially cruel to you … I am the worst kind of girlfriend.” She said guiltily.

Why, when the more you cared for a person, instead you could not treat him with leniency as you treated other people, you would demand more from him and treat him harsher?

“Who said that? You are the most caring and thoughtful person among the women I know!” He pressed his lips on her forehead, “It’s just the case of the more you love, the severer is the reprimand.”

Shan Mei smiled when she heard this. Xiang Zhe really knew how to comfort people. No matter how reasonable she was towards him, no matter how ill temper she was, he could always find a good excuse to make her feel that she was doing something right and appropriate.

“The women you know? Hey, you … You shouldn’t have known many women?” She purposely picked bones with his choice of words.

“No, no …” Xiang Zhe hurriedly shook his hands. He would not want to stir up another argument again.

Shan Mei saw the look of misgivings on his face and could not help burst out laughing.

“Aye, I am really scared by you, Miss Mischief.”

“Am I … really very caring and thoughtful?” Shan Mei asked suspiciously.

Xiang Zhe nodded, “You are really very caring and thoughtful.” He looked at her intently: “You are caring, not only because you lent a helping hand to someone you haven’t met before on the plane; not only because you insisted on sorting out the documents for me; not only because you remembered me in time of calamity; what really moved me is, even though you don’t like it in your heart, you are still so tolerant of me, understand and forgive me, so that I can still keep my own habit and interest …”

“…”

“You don’t like me smoking, but you have never asked me to quit smoking; you only ask me to care for my health; you don’t like me racing motor bikes and yet you still allow me to go out with my friends and just urged me to pay attention to safety … I am fully aware of all these ...”

“Yin Xiang Zhe …” She looked at him, feeling so touched. He described her too well.

“No one can find a woman like you in this world even when carrying a lighted lantern.”

“Maybe your lantern is not bright enough …”

“My lantern is lighted with my heart and it enables me to see more clearer than thousands of lanterns put together.”

Shan Mei stared at Xiang Zhe and said: “Thank you, Yin Xiang Zhe, but …” Shan Mei sniffed.

“But what?”

“But next time, maybe I will again unconsciously use my strictest measure to demand something from you …, or maybe we will have another quarrel on the same matter …”

“Then I will become miserable again.” Xiang Zhe scratched his head.

“Yes.” Shan Mei nodded.

“OK. It doesn’t matter.” Xiang Zhe said.

“Doesn’t matter?”

“I’m prepared psychologically. It that happens, I would act like the last time and write you SMS until you stop being angry, but …”

“But what?” She looked at him.

“If you are in the wrong, you have to write SMS to me too?” He began to tease her.

Shan Mei pursed her lips and shook her head again and again.

“OK, it’s fine if you don’t want to write SMS … You can do what you did last time, just look for an excuse to come to my place and then I will know your mind. …” Xiang Zhe said craftily.

“You’re annoying!” Shan Mei gave Xiang Zhe a gentle pommel. The fact that she went to Gyeongju to look him up last time, he would tease her for the rest of this life by mentioning this incidence.

“This can’t be done and that can’t be done … It can’t be just because you are a female that I have to make concession every time?”

“That is exactly my idea?” Shan Mei roared with laughter.

“It looks like I would have to be put at a disadvantage! … You want it this way? Miss Zhen Shan Mei?” Xiang Zhe asked indulgently.

“Huh.” She looked at him with a heart filled with sweetness.

My dearest Xiang Zhe, if I was in the wrong, I would apologize for my wrong-doing. She promised him in her heart.

Because of him, she tasted the sweetness and austerity of love; because she loved him, she learned of the forgiveness and courage when two people were in love.

She had once read a passage from a book, “To be able to sustain a love amidst the friction of cut and bruises, one can then wait calmly in the storm, can then after the retrogression of ardour, tightly hold on to each other.” She could now fully understand the implication behind those words.

Xiang Zhe accompanied Shan Mei to the front of her door.

“How I wish that at every night, the last person I see is you.” Xiang Zhe said.

Shan Mei looked at his pairs of eyes which were radiating the brilliance of tenderness and smiled sweetly.

“In order to thank you for lending me your shoulders so generously, I’m going to give you a present …”

He followed her into the house.

“You want to give me a present?” Xiang Zhe was thrilled.

“Huh …” A thread of shyness was flashing past Shan Mei’s face, “But … you must close your eyes first …” Shan Mei softly said.

“Why so secretive? I need to close my eyes?” His feeling of joy was revealed in his words.

“If you ask more questions, then you can forget about it.”

“OK, OK …” Xiang Zhe hurriedly closed his eyes. He waited for a long time but did not get any action or response.

“Hey, what takes you so long to find. You shouldn’t be fooling me?” When Xiang Zhe was about to open his eyes, a whiff of fragrance assailed his nostrils and in the next second, two pieces of soft warm lips were planted on his …

Shan Mei’s initiative and passion made Xiang Zhe feel both surprise and pleased.

Xiang Zhe opened his arms and tightly wrapped around Shan Mei. He took the action in his hand and passionately kissed her, as if he was the one to give out the present.

Xiang Zhe’s kisses were getting more and more passionate that Shan Mei was left grasping for breathe.

“Yin Xiang Zhe …” He loosened his arms on her protest.

“The person who gives out the present should be more generous.” Xiang Zhe said.

“It looks as though I have met a robber.” Shan Mei said. She was short of breath but her arms were still handing around his neck.

“I have never thought that you would resort to such action.” Xiang Zhe smiled wickedly.

The clear happy expression in Xiang Zhe’s eyes made Shan Mei feel so embarrassed that she wanted to find a hole in the ground and hide herself there. She did not know what was wrong with herself a while ago that made her dare to take the initiative to kiss him.

“Will I be getting the same present in future if I were to lend you my shoulders again?” He asked with his arms around her waist.

Shan Mei flushed in embarrassment and said: “Don’t even think about it, you are the most wicked person!”

“Aye, how disappointing!”

The clock on the wall struck eleven times. “Go home quickly. Don’t you have to be in the laboratory early tomorrow morning?” Shan Mei urged Xiang Zhe to go home.

“Are you going to pick Uncle up tomorrow afternoon?” Xiang Zhe basically did not want to leave yet and continue to dawdle aimlessly with Shan Mei.

“Uncle [i.e. Xiu Wei’s father] and they will come with me too.”

“Is it convenient for you to come out on Sunday?” Xiang Zhe asked.

With Shan Mei’s father at home, he guessed she probably would like to keep her father company, but he really wanted to see her, even just for an hour would be fine.

“I have to go with my father to visit my mother and won’t know what time we will be back.”

She was going with her father to visit her mother’s grave.

“So that’s like that?” Xiang Zhe was very disappointed, “then we will have to wait until Wednesday before I can see you.”

In the early morning of Monday, he had to fly to Japan on a business trip and would only return on Wednesday.

Xiang Zhe’s look of disappointment made Shan Mei not have the heart to refuse him, “I’ll find a way to slip out. You will wait for my call?” She placated him.

“You say it and mean it?” Xiang Zhe happily laughed.

“Huh.” She nodded in his arms. “I have been led astray by you.” Shan Mei said cajolingly.

“I however have not asked you to slip out!” He smilingly looked at her; she looked so adorable now.

“OK! Can you go home now? Mr. Yin Xiang Zhe?”

“OK! I’m going …”

Although Xiang Zhe said he was going, he bent down to brush his lips once again on hers and started another round of passionate exchange.

“This is my present back to you, as a courtesy reciprocation.” He whispered tenderly in her ear.

This was the sweetest present he had ever received. How could he not return a favour with a favour!


- End of Chapter 21 –

 

 

Chapter 22

 

My Dearest One (Qin Ai De Ni) –

By Jennifer
Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
Translated by Jules


Shan Mei grabbed hold of Gui Cheng the minute the stepped into the arrival hall.
“Dad!” Shan Mei held on tightly, smiling so widely her eyes disappeared.
Gui Cheng appraised his daughter with laughing eyes, “Have you been waiting long?” He’d met an old friend and spent some time catching up.

“Of course! I’ve been so anxious!” Shan Mei chided. Her dad always fell for this trick of hers.
“I’m so sorry! I really am. I just bumped into an old friend.” Gui Cheng apologized profusely.

“Really, brother-in-law! You’re giving in to Shan Mei a little too much. Who ever heard of a father who has to apologise so profusely to his own daughter?” Jin Huan Zhen stepped forward.
“Heh, heh. Hello Wei Feng, Huan Zhen, you came along too?” Gui Cheng greeted his brother and sister in law as he glanced reprovingly at Shan Mei. He had instructed her not to bother the family.

“Dad, it’s not my fault. Auntie and Uncle insisted on coming along…” Shan Mei stuck her tongue out.
“Don’t worry about it, brother-in-law. It’s the weekend and we didn’t have anything on anyway.” Huan Zhen said.
“Shan Mei must have burdened you considerably..” Gui Cheng said.
“Dad! I haven’t been a burden on anyone!” Shan Mei pouted.
“Oh, you little sprite!” Gui Cheng said as he tapped Shan Mei on the head.
“What are you talking about, brother-in-law? Shan Mei often comes over to help Huan Zhen with the housework, and has even been bringing in business for us. We don’t know what we would have done without her!” Li Wei Feng replied.
“See?” Shan Mei told her father smugly.

After they got into the car, Gui Cheng proceeded to catch up on news about his old friends from Wei Feng and Huan Zhen. Shan Mei couldn’t get a word in sideways, and was relegated to the sidelines.

Shan Mei looked out the window at the scenery, and mentally counted the minutes to their arrival in the city centre of Seoul. As the car drove onto the Yonggeong bridge, a road sign caught her attention, and she was delighted.
“Chingmungguan technology park!”
That was where Xiang Zhe’s factory was located!
In the past, she had never really taken any note of the surroundings. After all the scenery around the freeway was more or less the same. This time around, she took great interest in the freeway exit and its surrounds. It was a pity that they were on their way to Seoul. Otherwise, she would have stopped to have a look at what the technology park looked like, to have an idea of the what the place Xiang Zhe worked at was like.
“I must get Xiang Zhe to take me here one day, just to look around.” She thought.

As the car drove past the roadsign and the exit, Shan Mei continued to look back, straining her neck to see.

“Shan Mei, what are you looking at?” Li Wei Feng noticed Shan Mei’s action through her rearview mirror, and asked curiously.
“Uh… I was looking at a car,” Shan Mei hurriedly replied.
In the blink of an eye, the roadsign and the exit faded from view, but Shan Mei’s heart and mind continued its way down the exit towards Xiang Zhe.

That man! He was so late going to the factory this morning, she wondered if it attracted any gossip. Shan Mei fondly recalled the events of the night before and that morning.

Last night, Xiang Zhe had stayed until late, unwilling to go.
“Hey! You’d better get going. Don’t you have a meeting with the development team early tomorrow?” Shan Mei pushed him to go.
Xiang Zhe patted his chest, “That’s not a problem. If I can always delay it till later in the morning. If we can’t finish what we have to do tomorrow, I can stay all day Sunday. After all, I don’t want to come back to Seoul to be all alone.”
“What?!” Shan Mei punched him, “How can you be so unprofessional?”
“It’s only in the face of love, that I’m this way.”
“Don’t play the victim with me,” Shan Mei pulled a face, “I detest people who are unprofessional.”
“Is that so?” Xiang Zhe grinned mischieviously.
“Of course,” Shan Mei suppressed a smile.
“In that case, this detestable person is about to go home.”
Shan Mei laughed out loud.
“You’re a cold-hearted woman,” Xiang Zhe complained.
“I only wanted to level the playing field a little,” she countered.
“What’s so unlevel about it?” Xiang Zhe was not convinced.
“It’s tilted against the people you work with! How can you make everyone work on Sunday just because of you?”
“Do you really think I’m like that?” Xiang Zhe was flabbergasted.
Shan Mei laughed, “I wouldn’t have fallen in love with you if you were.”
She knew he was often the last to leave the office.
He couldn’t take his gaze off her. It was the first time she ever confessed to loving him.
“I love to hear what you just said over and over again,” he told her.
“What did I just say? I’ve forgotten.” Shan Mei blushed as she pleaded ignorance.
“Hey! How did you suddenly become so forgetful?”
“Haven’t you always said I was blissfully ignorant?” she looked at him guilelessly. He was lost for words.

“Have you bought your alarm clock yet? Do you need me to give you a morning call?” Shan Mei asked.
Xiang Zhe’s alarm clock was broken, and she worried that he would oversleep. She had rung him every morning over the last few days to check that he was awake.
Xiang Zhe pinched her cheek, “I’m not a little boy who would laze in bed. You just make sure you get your beauty sleep.”

She awoke just before six that morning. She didn’t know if it was because of the excitement of seeing her father, or whether she was worrying about Xiang Zhe. She just could not go back to sleep.

She rang Xiang Zhe at half past seven. The telephone rang out. She was worried that he might still be in bed, so rode her bike out to his apartment. She had been right.
“Yin Xiang Zhe, it’s time to wake up!” she called out to him gently. He mumbled something, then turned over and continued sleeping.
“I told you to go home early, but you just wouldn’t have a bar of it. Now look at you!” Shan Mei didn’t know whether to laugh or to get angry.

Seeing that he was so deeply asleep, she didn’t have the heart to wake him. Instead, she quietly headed for the kitchen to prepare breakfast. She would wake him a little later. There was a piece of toast on the dining table still in its wrapper. She guessed that he must have bought it the night before. Shan Mei smiled. Most bachelors had take-out for breakfast, but Xiang Zhe always preferred to prepare his own. Shan Mei prepared tuna sandwiches and brewed some coffee before heading back into Xiang Zhe’s room to wake him.

“Yin Xiang Zhe, time to get up!” Shan Mei bent over and shouted. There was no reaction from Xiang Zhe. “How can he sleep so deeply…” Shan Mei grumbled. “Yin Xiang Zhe! You’re going to be late for work!” Shan Mei started to shake him on the shoulder. Xiang Zhe sat up suddenly, and scared her out of her wits.
“You’re pretty quick! I thought I would be able to lie in for at least another half an hour…” Xiang Zhe laughed.
“So… you were pretending to be asleep!” Shan Mei grabbed a pillow and started to hit Xiang Zhe with it.
Xiang Zhe didn’t even flinch, “I wanted to see if I could wrangle you into making breakfast for me…”
“How dare you!” Shan Mei scolded, but her heart was filled with sweetness.
“When did you wake up?” she asked.
“I woke up just as you rang,”
“Then why didn’t you answer?”
“I wanted to see if you would come over to give me a personal morning call…”
She did turn up, and he was delighted.
“Just what made you think I would come?”
“Just because you love me.”
“You’re so full of yourself!”
“You said so yourself last night!” he put his face close to hers.
“You had me running around in circles last night…. So whatever I said last night doesn’t really hold water…” she completely denied it.
“Alright! You’d better come and have breakfast. Otherwise, you might not even get to the office at 10.”
“I’m not ready to get up yet.” Xiang Zhe leaned back and fell back into bed.
“What!” Shan Mei put her hands on her hips, “And just who was it who said he is not a child who would laze in bed?”
“An occasional sleep-in is one of life’s simple pleasures….”
“I’m not your grandmother, so save your tricks…” Shan Mei laughed.
“What has my grandmother got to do with this…?” Xiang Zhe laughed, “Hey, come join me for five minutes, then I’ll get up.”
“Are you trying to bargain with me? You’re the one who needs to get to work on time….” Shan Mei retorted as she looked at her watch.
“Aren’t you tired of just standing there? Why don’t you have a seat just here…” Xiang Zhe patted a spot on the bed next to him.
“I’m happy where I am. It’s…safer.” Shan Mei replied.
“What are you talking about? Alright, have it your way then!” Xiang Zhe buried his head under the sheets.
Shan Mei smothered a laugh. He was just like a child throwing a tantrum.
“Hey, are you upset?”
Xiang Zhe didn’t respond.
“You’re so childish!” Shan Mei commented.
He ignored her.
Oh well! Let him be then. She wasn’t about to walk into his trap.

“Yin Xiang Zhe, your five minutes are up…”
Xiang Zhe continued to lay in bed not moving a muscle.
“I’m not going to bother any more.” Shan Mei turned and walked out of Xiang Zhe’s bedroom.
He heard the door shut after her.
Damn! Surely she wouldn’t just leave him?
He jumped out of bed and pulled open the door. She was standing just outside, smiling smugly. He just lost the battle.

“Checkmate!” Shan Mei smiled.
“I never said we were at war.”
“You were the one who started it.”
He pretended to be asleep and got her here.
“You’re no angel yourself… how about we call a truce?”
“I’ll let you off just this once, then.”
“Thank you for your most compassionate consideration…” Xiang Zhe bowed reverently.
Shan Mei couldn’t help laughing.
“Just what are you doing?”
Xiang Zhe’s arms shot out and held her in his warm embrace, and time stood still….

She needed to go over to Auntie’s place to help her out, as Auntie was preparing a welcome party for her Dad.
Xiang Zhe insisted that it was on his way, and he would drop her off. Auntie’s place was in the opposite direction. She knew he was only making an excuse to spend a few more moments together.
“Can I come to the party tonight?” he teased her.
“If you’re not afraid of the Spanish Inquisition that will be held by the Holy Trinity comprising my Dad, Auntie and Uncle, you can come along.”
“The Holy Trinity? I sounds terrifying.” Xiang Zhe poked his tongue out.
“Are you getting anxious now?”
“What about?”
“About meeting my Dad.”
“Just a little…” Xiang Zhe smiled.
“Has your courage deserted you?” Shan Mei smiled.
“I can barely handle you, let alone anyone else”
“Don’t worry. I’m the most difficult one in my family.” She reassured him, when she was actually getting rather anxious herself.

Along the way, the passed a florist and Xiang Zhe bought her a rose. Because of him, the rose had become her favourite flower. He told her that the red rose was a symbol of his love for her.

They were traveling down the highway.
“Will be in time to watch the sunset if we head out to Gekkyu Island now?” Gui Cheng asked.
“Of course.” Shan Mei replied happily, “The sun sets at six.”
“How did you know?” Jin Huan Zhen asked.
“Umm… I saw it on the website.” Shan Mei replied.
“Brother-in-law, aren’t you tired?” Li Wei Feng asked Gui Cheng.
“I haven’t seen the sunset in Korea for a very long time.” Gui Cheng replied.
“It doesn’t matter where you are, sunsets all look the same.” Huan Zhen laughed.
“Auntie, you’re too unsentimental…. Even if you watch the sunset from the same spot, it feels different depending on who is by your side, and what the occasion is. Of course the sunset is different in your own country when compared with the sunset in a foreign country.”
Huan Zhen smiled broadly at Shan Mei, “In that case, I must be getting old. I’m not like you youngsters who have so much experience with romance and atmosphere….” Jin Huan Zhen said with meaning.
Shan Mei blushed.

It was almost sunset when they arrived at Gekkyu Island. Gui Cheng watched the sunset with Wei Feng and Huan Zhen, as Shan Mei stood a distance away. Her mind was full of images from two weeks ago when she and Xiang Zhe were here. She didn’t know why she missed him so much today. When Auntie teased her earlier about it, she pretended ignorance.

That day, they strolled along the banks in the sunlight, waiting for the sunset over the water. Seagulls were circling overhead.
Xiang Zhe was concerned that she might get sunburnt, so suggested that they stop at the café.
“No, the air is much nicer here on the outside.”
There were a few sidewalk artists who were offering to make portraits. Xiang Zhe persuaded her to sit for one, since the sunset was still some time away.
“I don’t want to!” Shan Mei refused. It was embarrassing to be sitting there in the open for everyone to see.
The middle-aged artist was quick-witted, and asked Xiang Zhe to sit with her, saying “If you have your portrait done as a couple, you will have a long and sweet relationship.”
When Xiang Zhe heard that, he wasted no time in dragging her to sit with him for a portrait.

“You two make a perfect couple,” The artist told them they had the look of a compatible husband and wife. Xiang Zhe was so happy, he grinned from ear to ear.
When the portrait was done, she complained, “That man is just spouting glibe remarks to get more business, and you’ve fallen for it.”
“I just love it when people say things like that about us.” Xiang Zhe smiled at her. “Actually, he did a pretty good job with the portrait.”
“Mmm.” Shan Mei nodded. The artist was, indeed, quite good and managed to capture their likeness well.
“Let’s hang this at my place.” Xiang Zhe said.
“No way.”
“Why?”
“You might use it to advertise our relationship.”
Xiang Zhe doubled over with laughter, “and what makes you think I would do that?”
After fighting over it for a while, they finally agreed to have it in turns, for a month each time.
“I’ll have it first.” Shan Mei declared. She had no intention of letting Xiang Zhe get his hands on it. Xiang Zhe often had friends over to his place, and she did not want them to see it. The artist had drawn them being too intimate, and she was embarrassed just looking at it.

“Miss, you’re back again today?”
Shan Mei turned around and saw the artist from the other day.
“The gentlemen who was with you did not come today?”
Shan Mei quickly made her excuses and then kept a distance from him. She didn’t expect him to remember her.

There were couples all the way along the banks of the island, making her miss him even more.
Shan Mei took out her mobile phone and sent Xiang Zhe an SMS in the shape of a heart.
A few minutes later, she received a reply. It was a picture of two hearts connected by cupid’s arrow. She felt a wave of warmth just looking at it……

That night, Gui Cheng and his daughter did not leave Huan Zhen’s until almost 10pm. They both had a bit to drink, so took a taxi home.
When they got there, Gui Cheng suddenly said he wanted to have a walk in the park.
“Shan Mei, if you’re not too tired, why don’t you come for a walk with me.”
Shan Mei took her father’s hand and the two of them walked down the path together.
“No matter how you look at it, it’s the moon in your hometown that’s the most beautiful of all, and the stars are also brighter here than anywhere else.” Gui Cheng commented.
Shan Mei smiled, “Dad, you’re nostalgic today….”
That afternoon, he said he wanted to watch the sunset, and now, he started to talk about the moon and the stars as well.
“It that so?” Gui Cheng chuckled. “It’s probably because I’m in a particularly good mood today. Thank you for putting in so much effort today.” Gui Cheng said to Shan Mei.
“It’s nothing. I was only assistant to Auntie.”
“You’ve always been a very caring person. That’s why your Auntie is so fond of you.”
“It’s Auntie who’s always been so good to me. She’s always thinking of me. Even Xiu Huan Oppa is jealous sometimes.”
“Your mother asked the right person to look after you.”
Because of his work, he was often not home, and Shan Mei was almost completely brought up by her auntie.
“Dad….” Shan Mei hugged her father. She knew he was missing her mother yet again.
“I’m alright….” Gui Cheng smiled, “You’ve lost weight… Have you been very busy at work? You should take better care of yourself!”
“It’s the same for everyone at work.”

As they talked, Shan Mei’s phone rang. It was Xiang Zhe on the line.
“I’ll talk to you a little later.” She cut him off quickly.

“Is that HIM?” Gui Cheng teased.
Shan Mei blushed.
Gui Cheng laughed out loud.
“Aiyo dad! What are you laughing at?” Shan Mei asked.
“When you talk to him, your eyes light…You must be very happy.”
“What are you talking about?” Shan Mei denied. She had tried her best to use a neutral tone when talking to Xiang Zhe in front of her father. She was sure Xiang Zhe would ring back later to find out why.
“You’re still trying to deny it? Maybe you haven’t realized….”
Was it really that obvious? Shan Mei looked at her father uncomfortably.
“Oh dear!” Gui Chang suddenly frowned.
“What’s wrong?” Shan Mei asked, puzzled.
“I haven’t even met the guy, and he’s already stolen my daughter’s heart.”
“My heart is right here where it should be,” Shan Mei patted her chest.
“Who are you trying to fool?” Gui Cheng looked at Shan Mei, “Why don’t you tell your father a little bit more about him?”
“Didn’t Auntie already tell you all the gory details…?”
“I want to hear it from you.”
“Dad….what do you want to know?”
“I’m happy to hear anything you want to tell me…” Gui Cheng looked at his daughter fondly.
“ummm…..” Shan Mei thought about it for a long while, then shyly started.
“His name is Yin Xiang Zhe….”
“I already know that…” Gui Cheng smothered a laugh. After considering for such a long time, this was all she had to say?
“What else?”
“Ummm…..” Shan Mei hesitated, “He’s very principled, serious about his work, ambitious……. Very confident and…. He’s very caring, respectful of his elders….”
“Is that all?”
Shan Mei nodded, “That’s all.”
Gui Cheng looked at his daughter with mixed feelings.
He loved hearing about this man from her, and watching her face light up. She was obviously very much in love with him, and very happy.
“Sprite, you look very happy.”
“I’m happy because you’ve come home,” Shan Mei looked at her father.
“You really know how to please your old dad.”
“I’m not just trying to please you. It’s the truth.”
“Alright, alright! If you insist.”
Gui Cheng knew that there was someone else now who was responsible for giving his daughter so much happiness.

Shan Mei chatted with her father for a long time, and returns to her own room only after he fell asleep.
As she lay in bed, she thought about what they had talked about tonight, and suddenly laughed out loud. Her father seemed a little jealous of Xiang Zhe, and had said some really childish things. She had never seen this side of him before. Oh, what a dilemma! Why were these two men, who were so dear to her heart, both have the same affliction? When Shan Mei thought about what happened that morning with Xiang Zhe. Xiang Zhe had insisted that she selected his tie for him and helped him put it on. Her heart was filled with sweetness.

Oh dear! She’d better return his call, otherwise he would stay awake all night waiting for it. Similarly, she would not be able to sleep tonight if she didn’t hear his voice before going to bed….. Her father was right. He really had stolen her heart. Just when did that happen?

*******End of Chapter 22******

 

 

Chapter 23

 

Written By Jennifer
Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
 
Translated by nho(CA)

 
At noon, Shan Mei and her father were having lunch in a restaurant.  Gui Cheng wanted Shan Mei to invite Xiang Zhe to come to their place for tea on Saturday afternoon.
 
“I thought you have forgotten about this … Don’t you have any engagement this weekend?”  Shan Mei asked her father.  
 
Since Gui Cheng’s return to the country, he had been busily engaged:  he had to go to work in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during daytime, attended social functions in the evening and met with his friends during weekends.  Shan Mei thought her father must have forgotten about meeting with Xiang Zhe.
 
“How can I forget such an important matter?  I don’t want my precious daughter to bring home a stranger some day and tell me that she wants to marry that guy …”
 
Gui Cheng said teasingly.
 
So far he could not spare any time and seeing that he was going back to England on Monday, so he had to arrange to meet with that man whom her daughter was dating no matter what.
 
Shan Mei blushed and said:  “I haven’t planned to get married yet …”
 
“That’s good … I on the other hand want you to stay with me for a few more years!”
 
“Pa …”
 
“Girl, you tell me, where shall we meet?”
 
“Pa, you better make the decision.”
 
“Then … let’s meet at home?  It’s more comfortable there.  I don’t want to make that boy nervous.”  Gui Cheng said.
 
Hearing this, Shan Mei secretly found it funny.  On the whole, she felt that her father was also a little nervous.
 
After she got in her office, Shan Mei sent a brief message to Xiang Zhe saying “Extremely urgent, please call me after meeting.”
 
During these two days, Xiang Zhe’s company was holding an annual business review meeting and all the overseas marketing managers returned to Seoul to participate in this meeting.
 
After five minutes, Shan Mei received a call from Xiang Zhe.
 
“What’s up?”  Xiang Zhe asked.
 
“Didn’t I ask you to call me after the meeting?”
 
“You said it’s extremely urgently, so how would I have the state of mind to wait after the meeting …”  Xiang Zhe’s laughter was transmitted through the phone line.
 
“Aiyoo, you … I was just joking and you thought it was real …”  Shan Mei nagged, “If it was that urgent, would I have asked you to call me after the meeting?  Really, we don’t have even a tiny bit of tacit understanding …”
 
“It’s not a bad idea to give everyone a five minute break.  It would help to relax the atmosphere a bit.”
 
“To relax the atmosphere?  It looks as if you are ready to jump at each other’s throat …”
 
“Almost.”
 
Every time when they held a meeting, the Planning Department and the Marketing Department would always accuse the other party of their wrongdoings.
 
“You shouldn’t have screamed at people there?”  Shan Mei asked.
 
“How do you know?”  Xiang Zhe laughingly said.
 
“Hey …  do you look very fierce when you bully people?”
 
“Why do you ask?”
 
“Just curious …”  Shan Mei said.
 
She had never seen him in a real temper before.
 
“When I am in a rage, no one dare even to breathe.”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“Really?”
 
“Yes!”  
 
“Fortunately I don’t work for your company.”  Shan Mei stuck out her tongue and said.
 
“Yes, fortunately you don’t work for our company …”  Xiang Zhe sounded as if he had a lucky escape.
 
“Hey, what do you mean?”
 
“If I were to scold you, you would definitely weep until the earth quakes and I’m afraid even a whole cartoon of tissues would not be enough to wipe dry your tears.”  Xiang Zhe tried to taunt Shan Mei.
 
“Then you are totally wrong, I’m indeed a tough person.  I definitely will not shed even a tear in front of my boss or colleagues.”
 
“Really?  Then why do I have the feeling that Miss Zhen Shan Mei is especially fragile before someone …”
 
“Because …”  Shan Mei paused a moment.
 
“Because of what?”
 
“Because that person is very good at comforting people … and also …”
 
“And also what?”
 
“Also, someone’s shoulders are very broad and very comfortable … It would be a pity if I don’t make the full use of it!”
 
Xiang Zhe laughed merrily.
 
 
“Why do you want to talk to me so urgently?”  Xiang Zhe asked.
 
“Well … My father asked whether you will be available the afternoon after tomorrow.  He wants to see you.”
 
“I’m available.  Of course I’m available …”  Xiang Zhe said:  “I wouldn’t dare to refuse the invitation even if I were to be given the courage from heaven above …”  
 
He had been waiting for the opportunity to meet with Shan Mei’s father during the past couple of weeks.
 
“Yin Xiang Zhe, how can you behave as if nothing has happened?”
 
From the way he spoke, one could not hear a hint of nervousness in his voice.
 
“If worse comes to worst I may commit three strikes and be expelled by your father.”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“What?”
 
“I’m only teasing you!”
 
“You’re so annoying!”
 
Xiang Zhe said laughingly: “OK, I will tease no more …”
 
“Hey, remember to be punctual!”
 
“You don’t need to remind me of that … Anything else?”
 
“Huh … Don’t be too uptight, but not too nonchalant either…”
 
“And?”
 
“As to clothes …”
 
Without waiting for Shan Mei to finish, Xiang Zhe burst out laughing, “Aye, you seem to be very nervous …  Don’t you have any confidence in me?”
 
“Who says I am nervous?  The worst that will happen is Papa will expel you after three strikes!”  Shan Mei said slyly.
 
“Zhen Shan Mei …”
 
Shan Mei hung up amidst the laughter.
 
 
After lunch on Saturday, Shan Mei began to get nervous.  She peeped at her watch every few minutes.
 
“Don’t make me as nervous as you are.”  Gui Cheng told his daughter.
 
At 2:25 p.m., the door bell rang.  Xiang Zhe was five minutes early.  He was wearing a light grey business suit with a matching white shirt and a yellow stripe tie.  
 
“Will I do this way?”  Xiang Zhe asked.
 
Shan Mei instructed him not to dress too formally, but as it was the first time he met Shan Mei’s father, he decided that to wear a business suit as it would appear more polite.
 
Shan Mei looked Xiang Zhe up from head to feet and smilingly nodded.  She was very pleased with the way he looked, both handsome and well-mannered.
 
“Come in!  My father is waiting for you.”  She told him in a low voice.
 
“Wait a minute …”  Xiang Zhe stopped Shan Mei, “Is Uncle … really very austere?”  Xiang Zhe asked, looking uneasy.
 
Xiu Wei told him that Shan Mei’s father was a very austere person.
 
Seeing the look of unease on Xiang Zhe’s face, Shan Mei found it funny.  So this man could still get nervous.  Heaven knew how Oppa Xiu Wei fooled him.
 
“My father is really very fierce …”  Shan Mei made a grimace at Xiang Zhe and led him into the sitting room.
 
“Uncle, how do you do?  I’m Yin Xiang Zhe.”  Xiang Zhe respectfully greeted Gui Cheng with a bow.  
 
“Welcome, welcome.”
 
Gui Cheng smilingly greeted Xiang Zhe.  The young man before him was very well-mannered, handsome and distinguished and made a pretty good first impression.
 
Xiang Zhe brought with him a bottle of red wine as a gift on the first meeting.  “You are too courteous …”  Gui Cheng said.
 
Shan Mei gave Xiang Zhe a brilliant smile.  He had really made an effort, he bought the brand of red wine Papa loved.
 
Shan Mei served tea and snacks and sat down by her father’s side.
 
“It’s so embarrassing to ask you to come at the last moment.  I hope I haven’t held you up from your work?  I have been so busy since returning to the country and couldn’t find a spare moment.”  Gui Cheng said.
 
“I am from the younger generation, so I should be the one to call on you.  It’s ill-mannered of me.”
 
Shan Mei pursed her lips, looking at Xiang Zhe.  Xiang Zhe mentioned several times that he wanted to come over to call on Papa, but she saw that Papa was so busy all along that she did not mention it to Papa.
 
“He said he wanted to come over …  but Papa was so busy all along.”  Shan Mei interrupted.
 
Gui Chent saw that his daughter was trying to protect Xiang Zhe and his feeling was both complicated and subtle.  He was feeling a indescribable jealousy towards this man who held an important position in his daughter’s heart.
 
“Shan Mei told me that you are on your own in Seoul?”
 
Gui Cheng tried to engage in small talks with Xiang Zhe, but the lines on his face looked somewhat rigid.  Shan Mei felt that her father looked as if he was holding an interview.
 
“Yes, since my mother passed away when I was in senior high, I have been living on my own in Seoul.  After I returned from England, I successful found a job in Seoul and then later I set up my own business with a friend and so I just stay on.”  Xiang Zhe replied gingerly and properly.
 
“It wasn’t easy, not easy at all.  It’s really not simple to go such a long way on your own.  Unlike Shan Mei, she has not experienced any hardship from infancy to maturity.  If she was thrown out to the outside world, the result may be inconceivable.”  Gui Cheng said.
 
“Pa, I am not as bad as you think.  Don’t you have any confidence in me?”
 
Shan Mei purposely interpreted as she wanted to ease up the atmosphere.  Both Gui Cheng and Xiang Zhe laughed.
 
“Is there anyone in your family?”  Gui Cheng asked.
 
Shan Mei glanced at her father vexingly. She had already told her father about the condition of Xiang Zhe’s family!
 
“There are only me and my grandma … My parents separated when I was in primary school and I lived with my mother …”  Xiang Zhe calmly said.  “Grandma is now living in Gyeongju.  She dislikes the noisiness in Seoul and does not feel comfortable living here.”
 
“So it is like that …”  Gui Cheng nodded and asked again:  “Was it difficult for you when you were small?”
 
Shan Mei looked at her father with a frown.  Papa clearly understood Xiang Zhe’s family condition, why did he have to ask such questions in Xiang Zhe’s face?
 
“It was OK … My mother was one with broad perspective and she had great influence on me.”  Xiang Zhe used just two simple sentences to answer Gui Cheng’s question.
 
Gui Cheng smilingly gazed at the young man before him.  He appreciated his reply very much; his reply was short and simple but it clearly conveyed the pride of how his mother and himself were not beaten by any predicaments.
 
“Your mother was really marvellous; she brought you up independently and also educated you so well.”
 
“Thank you Uncle.”
 
“I’m so sorry to have asked you such imprudent questions.”  Gui Cheng said.
 
“It doesn’t matter.”
 
Gui Cheng then carried on asking Xiang Zhe about the setting up of Chamsung.  He asked especially in detail the difficulties encountered by Xiang Zhe during the process of setting up his business.  
 
In between questions and answers, smiles appeared more and more on Gui Cheng’s face.  Apart from appreciation, he had admiration towards this self-confident young man.  Originally he worried that growing under the shadow of his parents’ divorce, Xiang Zhe might be a solitary and arrogant man, but after some deep conversation, Xiang Zhe’s forthright, bright, positive and enterprising character made him completely feel relieved.
 
“Huan Zhen … Oh, that is Shan Mei’s aunt, told me that you are a good basketball player and you were in the basketball team from senior high through your university days?”
 
Gui Cheng changed the conversation topic to something more relaxing.
 
“I became addicted to basketball when I was in primary school …”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“I was nearly selected as a member of the school basketball team when I was in senior high.”  Gui Cheng said.
 
“Really .  Pa … then why weren’t you selected?”  Shan Mei interrupted and asked.
 
“The coach abandoned me because I was not tall enough.”
 
“He was really lacking in judgment!”  Shan Mei was outraged by the injustice done to her father.
 
Both Gui Cheng and Xiang Zhe laughed out loudly.
 
Shan Mei never thought that Papa and Xiang Zhe could get along so well.  Not long after they met, he called Xiang Zhe by his name in a familiar way.  Although there was a big age gap between them, they could discuss any topic under the sun.  After several rounds of tea were served, Gui Cheng still remained enthusiastic.  Seeing that dusk was approaching, Shan Mei worried that the afternoon tea would be continued on to dinner.
 
Shan Mei gave Xiang Zhe a meaningful glance and Xiang Zhe nodded in acknowledgement.
 
“It’s getting late and it’s time for me to leave.”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“Why don’t you have dinner with us before you go?”  Gui Cheng persuaded Xiang Zhe to stay.
 
“Well …”  Xiang Zhe looked at Shan Mei in embarrassment.  She shook her head vigorously at him, “Thank you Uncle, I have already troubled you for the whole afternoon …”  Xiang Zhe tried to decline.
 
“I rarely have an opportunity to chat with you.  If you have nothing better to do this evening, please stay for dinner!  Shan Mei, please say something to persuade Xiang Zhe to stay!”  Gui Cheng said to Shan Mei.
 
“Aiyee, we are not prepared, how can we ask him to stay for dinner!”  Shan Mei muttered.
 
“Didn’t you say that you are making veggi curry rice tonight?  You can make another portion plus a couple of small dishes to go with the wine.  That will do …  Xiang Zhe, do you eat curry?”
 
Under Gui Cheng’s insistence, Xiang Zhe could not refuse any more and had to stay behind.
 
“Xiang Zhe …  Shan Mei’s cooking skill needs improvement, you have to be more tolerant!”
 
“Pa, how can you always humble your own daughter in front of others!”  Shan Mei pouted sulkily.
 
“Shan Mei’s cooking skill is pretty good …”  Xiang Zhe immediately spoke for Shan Mei.
 
“Oh, Shan Mei has cooked for you before?”
 
“Erh …”
 
Both Xiang Zhe and Shan Mei flushed simultaneously.
 
A few days’ ago, there was a TV program teaching how to make curry veggi rice.  Shan Mei wanted to cook it for her father before he went back to London.  Papa was always one of her most loyal fans.  When she was in London and had more leisure time, she would always try some new menus.  Although she often made a mess in the kitchen, Papa always cheered her up every time.  Shan Mei used asparagus, some colourful peppers, eggplants, tomatoes and celery and made  a pot of colourful curry rice.  She also cooked a pot of seafood tofu soup.  Although there were only just the rice and the soup, it would look right with some thoughts on decorating the setting of the dining set.  
 
Shan Mei searched everywhere but could not locate the set of silver soup spoons which she had just bought.  She remembered seeing them when she sorted out the kitchenware about two weeks’ ago.
 
Xiang Zhe was chatting with Gui Cheng when his cell phone rang and reading the caller ID, he unexpectedly found it was from Shan Mei.
 
“Hey, do you remember where that set of silver soup spoons are?”
 
Shan Mei asked without preamble.  Xiang Zhe could not catch the clue of the matter all of a sudden.
 
“What?”
 
Xiang Zhe’s tone of surprise caused Gui Cheng to look at him curiously.  There was a slight embarrassment on Xiang Zhe’s face.
 
“Grandma, what are you looking for?”  A bright idea occurred to Xiang Zhe to make such a reply.
 
At first Shan Mei was dumbfounded, then she burst out laughing.
 
“I am looking for that set of silver soup spoons I bought in Galleria!  I couldn’t find it anywhere.”
 
“You may find it in the side cabinet on your left hand side.  I remember it was there …”  Xiang Zhe lowered his voice and said.
 
“The cabinet on the left hand side … Let me see …”  Shan Mei followed Xiang Zhe’s instruction and opened the cabinet on the left hand side, “Huh … I’ve found it.  Thank you so much, my good grandson!”  Shan Mei hung up the phone, grinning broadly.
 
When Shan Mei was laying the table, she heard his father saying something congratulatory.
 
“What were talking about just now regarding something congratulatory?”  Shan Mei quietly asked Xiang Zhe who came over to help her laying the table.
 
Xiang Zhe just shrugged his shoulders and replied:  “It’s nothing, we were watching TV.”
 
“How is it?  Not too bad?”  Shan Mei pointed to the food on the table and excellent layout of the table and her face wore a look of self-satisfaction.
 
“Huh.”  Xiang Zhe replied, looking none too pleased.
 
“What’s up?”
 
“You were asking for my help and you dared to take advantage of you …”  Xiang Zhe grumbled.  She had the audacity to call him her good grandson.
 
Shan Mei pouted her mouth, “You dare to put the blame on me!  Who is your grandma?  You made me sound so old …”
 
During dinner, Gui Cheng opened the bottle of red wine brought by Xiang Zhe, “This bottle of 1988 Chateau Lafon Rochet has a strong fruit flavour and yet smooth and velvety and it is the most outstanding in the grade 2 wines.”  Gui Cheng said.
 
“Uncle is very acknowledgeable in vintage wine …”
 
“No, not at all, I just find it a bit interesting.  How about you, have you done any studies in vintage wine?”  Gui Cheng asked Xiang Zhe.
 
“I only have superficial knowledge.”
 
“Which white wine do you like best?”
 
“It’s the 1994  Puligny Montrachet from Cote de Beaune in Burgundy.”
 
Xiang Zhe replied without hesitation.
 
“Right, right, that one is pretty good.”  Gui Cheng looked deeply impressed.  
 
Gui Cheng talked about the doctrine of vintage wine in high spirit and also repeatedly raised his glass inviting Xiang Zhe to drink with him.
 
“What do you think about vintage years?”
 
Shan Mei frowned, when did her father become so hooked on vintage wine?
 
“I don’t think we should blindly believe in the vintage years.  If you know how to pick a good winery, you can still find good wine in a bad year.”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
Gui Cheng nodded repeatedly, “I have the same views as you.”
 
Shan Mei never thought that a simple dinner would turn out to become a wine commentary gathering.  Fortunately Xiang Zhe could surprisingly deal with his answers readily.
 
Xiang Zhe left at nearly 9:00 p.m.  If it was not for Shan Mei who kept reminding them on the side about the lateness of hours and about Xiang Zhe having to meet a customer for business early tomorrow morning, perhaps the slightly tipsy Gui Cheng still would not be willing to let him go!
 
“Let have another round of drinks together next time I return to the country …, one of the happy events in life is to be able to sit with a friend you can easily converse with near the window and drink to your heart’s content … Let’s drink together again next time …”  Gui Cheng said to Xiang Zhe.
 
“Shan Mei, please see Xiang Zhe off for Papa!”
 
Gui Cheng understood the younger generation’s mind and deliberately created an opportunity for them to spend some time alone.
 
As soon as his front leg stepped out from the door, Xiang Zhe happily grasped Shan Mei’s hand.  “Finally I can have a good sleep tonight …”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
 
 
Shan Mei burst out laughing, “I was indeed fooled by you … I have thought you were not at all nervous.”
 
“Miss, isn’t it me who was fooled by both you and Xiu Wei?  Uncle is very friendly …, he is not the least like the person described by you two.”  Both Xiu Wei and Shan Mei echoed each other and made him worry for a few days.
 
“How was my performance today?”  Xiang Zhe asked.
 
“What do you think yourself?”
 
Xiang Zhe scratched his head and said:  “It was fairly satisfactory!”
 
Shan Mei puckered in smile.
 
Xiang Zhe’s performance today was excellent, he spoke with fervour and assurance, he was decisive and yet discreet, he was full of self-confidence but also modest.  She could see that Papa really regarded him highly.
 
“I’m waiting for you to give me the marks!”
 
“How can a grandma evaluate her grandson’s performance, the criticism won’t be objective.”  
 
“You still want to fool around?”  As there was nobody around, Xiang Zhe snaked his arm around Shan Mei’s waist.
 
Shan Mei anxiously looked around, “Let me go fast!  It’s so embarrassingly if our neighbour sees us like this.”
 
“I will let go if you answer my question.”
 
“You’re so irritating!”
 
“Aye, you are very mean.  It won’t cause you anything to sing me some praises …”
 
“You are so sure that I will praise you …”  Shan Mei pouted.  
 
“I have confidence in myself …”  Xiang Zhe said with extreme confidence, “Come tell, what marks are you going to give me?  Fair, satisfactory or very satisfactory?”
 
“V e r y … s a t i s f a c t o r y.”  Shan Mei paused after each phonetic.
 
Xiang Zhe asked, beaming happily, “Really?”
 
Shan Mei nodded.
 
“Hey, why are you so knowledgeable about vintage wine?”  She asked him.
 
“I have a classmate in England whose family operates a winery and wine is indispensable in every meal and after two years of imbued influence, I got to know some superficial knowledge …”
 
“It’s fortune that you didn’t talk about golf with my father, or else you won’t be able to leave at least until 10 o’clock …”
 
“What, does Uncle love to play golf?”
 
“Huh, once you mention the word golf, he can chat about it for three days and three nights.”
 
“Why didn’t tell me before … I can invite Uncle for a game tomorrow.”
 
He was playing golf with his customer tomorrow morning.
 
“I really can’t understand what’s so good about playing golf.  You spend over half a day just to hit the small white ball into a hole.”
 
Xiang Zhe wrapped his arm around Shan Mei’s shoulder and grinningly asked:  “Do you know what golf stands for?”
 
Shan Mei tilted up her little mouth and said: “Green, Oxygen, Light and Friendship …  From the first hole to the 18th hole, you walk past green pastures, breathe in fresh air, bathe in the warm sunlight and at the same time build up friendship … Ain’t I right!”
 
“Pretty good!”  Xiang Zhe’s face expressed approval.
 
“I have heard my father babbling so much about it that my ears got callused.”  Shan Mei made a painful expression.
 
Xiang Zhe looked at Shan Mei’s childish display and doubled up in laughter, “What kind of expression is that … Actually golf is a very good mental game.”
 
“Good mental game?”
 
“When you play golf, you have to consider the wind speed, wind direction, the distance, the clubs, the flagpole and also the terrain etc. issues before you can have a good shot.  It is a very brain-picking game.”
 
“Really?”  Shan Mei looked doubtful.
 
“Absolutely.  How is it?  You want to learn?”
 
“No, no way!”  Shan Mei shook her head vigorously.  “I’ve told you, I don’t have any genes for playing ball games.”
 
“Who said that?  Haven’t I taught you to play basketball and volleyball pretty well?  I guarantee I will teach you …”
 
“Hey, haven’t you been very busy?  How could you spare so much time learning all these games?”
 
It looked as though Xiang Zhe could play any kind of ball games well.
 
“Before I met you, I had plenty of time to spare …”
 
Shan Mei curved her lips, “You make me feel very remorseful, as if I have deprived you from plenty of your pleasure.”
 
“There is nothing in this world which can make me more happy than to spend time with you.”
 
“When have you become so good in flattery?”
 
“Flattery?  Every word is from the bottom of my heart.”
 
“Hey, I have to go home.  There is still a lot of washing up to do!”
 
“Let me help you!”
 
“Don’t cause me more trouble!”
 
Xiang Zhe made a slip of his tongue tonight when he said her cooking skill was pretty good.  If she was to allow him to help with the washing up this moment, she certainly would not able to escape her father’s teasing.
 
Xiang Zhe accompanied Shan Mei home.
 
“I really don’t want to go home …”  Xiang Zhe reluctantly said.
 
“Don’t want to go home?”  Shan Mei grinningly said:  “Then go to watch the moon in the park.  Tonight the moon is big and round.”
 
Xiang Zhe cast Shan Mei a look and said:  “You know full well what I mean …”
 
He was reluctant to leave her.
 
“What time is Uncle’s plane leaving on Monday?”
 
“1:30 in the afternoon.”
 
“Why?”
 
“Nothing, I was just asking.”
 
When she got home, she found her father washing the dishes in the kitchen.
 
“Pa … Let me do it!”
 
“It’s OK, you have been busy working the whole afternoon.”
 
Father and daughter worked together, one doing the washing up and the other cleaning up the stove.
 
“Xiang Zhe is a pretty good boy …”  Gui Cheng said.
 
Shan Mei burst out laughing, “You know it on your first meeting?”
 
“Papa has met a lot of people and won’t make a mistake … Aye, girl …”
 
“Huh?”
 
“The senior who came to look for you in London … was it Xiang Zhe?”
 
“Huh …”  Shan Mei shyly nodded.
 
“He was really making efforts!”
 
“Pa …”  Shan Mei blushed.
 
“He is really crazy for you!”  
 
“How do you know …”
 
Gui Cheng roared with laughter, “Even a blockhead can see.”
 
Gui Cheng could see how attentive Xiang Zhe was towards Shan Mei.
 
When he looked at Shan Mei, his eyes were filled with tenderness.  During dinner, he helped Shan Mei carried out the food and set the table and did not pick up his chopsticks until Shan Mei sat down on the table …
 
“Don’t miss the chance if you care about him!”  Gui Cheng patted his daughter’s shoulder.
 
“Aiyoo, Pa, are you that anxious to kick me out of the house?”
 
“Papa can’t stay at your side forever …”  Gui Cheng sadly looked at his daughter, “You have your own life to lead and Papa wants you to find happiness …”
 
Shan Mei pulled at her father’s arm, “Pa, is he the one mentioned by Ma?”  Shan Mei raised her face to ask her father.
 
Her mother said when a girl was born, there would be a boy waiting at some corner of the world who would take good care of her the whole lifetime.
 
Gui Cheng patted Shan Mei’s back, “Only you would know the answer …”
 
He was certainly the one, she knew.
 
 
- End of Chapter 23 -
 

Chapter 24

 

My Dearest One (Qin Ai De Ni)
By Jennifer
Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
Translated by Jules
 
“Miss, do you mind if I listen to the radio?” the driver asked Shan Mei.
“I don’t mind at all.” Shan Mei replied.
She had just seen her father, Auntie and Uncle off at the airport.  Auntie and Uncle were on the same flight as her father, on their way to the UK for a holiday.
The radio was broadcasting an interview.
“I would like to thank all my staff and colleagues, my grandmother, and my girlfriend….”
Shan Mie’s heart skipped a beat.  That voice sounded just like Xiang Zhe!
“That was our interview with the winner of this year’s young entrepreneur of the year award, Chamsung’s managing director, Mr Yin Xiang Zhe.  The award will be presented this afternoon at 2pm, at the Seoul Hyatt…..”
 
It was Xiang Zhe!
He’d won an award…. Shan Mei laughed happily, and the driver looked at her through the rearview mirror.
Shan Mei remembered hearing her father congratulating Xiang Zhe the other night, and wondered if this was what they were talking about.
How could he not have even told her about it?  She had been so busy at work recently that she didn’t even have the time to read the papers or watch the news.  When Xiang Zhe asked her about the departure time of her father’s flight, he must have been thinking about whether to invite her to the ceremony.  She looked at her watch.  It was ten to two.  They were still on the highway, and there was no way she would be able to get there on time.  If she had known in advance, she would not have missed it for the world.  Her father would have understood.  Oh that man!  Sometimes she wished he wasn’t so considerate of her needs.
 
It was already 4pm by the time Xiang Zhe got back to the office.  There was a cocktail party after the award ceremony, and he met many old friends there.  They were all clamouring for a treat, and he had agreed to host a meal soon.
 
Many people had sent congratulatory messages and bouquets.  His secretary had prepared a full list of these for him.
“There’s a bouquet which just arrived, but it doesn’t have the name of the sender on it.  I guess it must be a very good friend of yours?”
“Huh?”
“It’s that bouquet over there….”
As Xiang Zhe went and had a closer look, his lips curled in a smile.
 
Shan Mei was practicing diligently in the piano studio.  Her piano teacher just told her that all students were expected to perform in the concert scheduled for the end of the month.  She was freaked out.  She could not imagine what a fool she would make of herself by going on stage to pit her dismal skills against those of her little classmates.  After learning about Xiang Zhe’s skills on the piano, she had decided to take up lessons once again.  She had dedicated one night a week to lessons, but did not have any other spare time for practice.  In the end, she had not progressed past the bare basics, and felt extremely anxious during each lesson.  This evening, she had booked a studio and decided to take time out for some serious practice.  She did not want to make a fool of herself during the concert.
 
“Wow!  You’re pretty serious about this!”
Shan Mei was startled by the sudden appearance of Xiang Zhe.
“Why are you here?  Didn’t you say you had a business engagement tonight?”
“I made my excuses and left early.  Why are you so hardworking tonight?” Xiang Zhe teased.
“Oh!” Shan Mei sighed, “I have to perform on stage at the end of the month.  If I don’t put in some practice, I’ll end up the laughingstock of the school.  I’m going to look like a real dud in comparison with all those little children…”
“Graduation concert?  When is it?  I must attend!”
“No way!” Shan Mei was quick to protest.
“Why not?”
“I’d be completely embarrassed.” She said honestly.
“You’re way too self-conscious!”
“That’s none of your business!”
“Why don’t you play me something now?” Xiang Zhe asked.  He hadn’t heard her play for a long time now.
“You’re not allowed to laugh!”
“I guarantee it!”
Shan Mei hesitantly picked her way through a piece.  The teacher had picked a very simple one for her to perform.
Xiang Zhe smiled as he listened to her play.
“It’s terrible, isn’t it?” Shan Mei asked glumly.  She had completely no confidence in it.
“Ummm… it’s better than the last time.”  Xiang Zhe hedged.
Shan Mei smiled, and punched Xiang Zhe. “You’re not very good at making me feel better!”
Xiang Zhe rubbed Shan Mei’s shoulder and replied, “All it takes is a little more practice.”
With Xiang Zhe present, there was no way Shan Mei could concentrate on her practice.  The more she tried, the worse she got.  It was probably because he was such a great pianist, and she felt so inferior in his presence.
“Don’t you have anything else to do?” Shan Mei hinted bluntly.
“Of course I have.  I’m waiting for you to finish.”
Good Lord! What kind of an answer was that?
“What about your work?” Shan Mei tried again.
“Finished.”
Shan Mei had not choice but to spell it out completely, “With you here, I’m too nervous to practice!”
“Just pretend I’m invisible.”
Shan Mei glared at him.  There was no way he could ever be invisible to her!
She finally relented and closed the piano.  “Alright, alright.  I’m finished for the day.”
 
“Thanks for the flowers,” Xiang Zhe said when they got into the car.
“What flowers?” Shan Mei pretended ignorance.
Xiang Zhe ginned, “Who are you trying to kid with your Lavender, Little Miss Rabbit ?”
She had said her nickname in school was rabbit.
“You’re pretty clever!” She had drawn a little rabbit on the card.
“Thank you… they’re really beautiful.”
“I’m sorry that was all I could do.”
“It’s more than enough.”
“I wish I could have been there when you were on stage, cheering you on.  Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I’ll remember next time.”
“Congratulations…I’m really happy for you.”  She planted a fleeting kiss on his cheek.
Xiang Zhe was so delighted with the “congratulatory gift” that he could not stop smiling.
 
“What are you doing on Saturday?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“Why?” Shan Mei was puzzled.
Xiang Zhe shook his head and smiled, “Have you even forgotten your birthday?”
“I forgot!” Shan Mei suddenly reaslised.
In the past, she had spend her birthday with either her father or her auntie, but neither were by her side this year.
“I’m surprised you remember!” Shan Mei stated sweetly.
Xiang Zhe was with Xiu Han Oppa on the night before her last birthday, when he gave her birthday treat.
Xiang Zhe nodded and smiled.  How could he forget anything about her?
“Have you thought about how you would like to celebrate this year?” Xiang Zhe asked.
Shan Mei thought about it for a moment, then replied, “Can I ask for anything?”
“Absolutely anything you like.” Xiang Zhe replied generously.
Shan Mei smiled happily.  She had thought of something completely out of the ordinary.
 
On her birthday, Xiang Zhe took her to the seaside resort.  Shan Mei said she wanted to enjoy the sea and the stars.
They were sitting shoulder-to-shoulder on the viewing gallery, looking out to sea.
“The last time we were here, I already wanted to do this…”
Shan Mei looked at Xiang Zhe in surprise….
“Do you think I’m just spouting sweet nothings?”
Shan Mei shook her head, “No, I believe you.”
She could see the honesty in his eyes, and it moved her.
“I think I must have fallen in love with you at first sight…”
“Was it really like that?” Shan Mei asked as she laid her head on his shoulder, “I never thought that you were the sort to fall in love at first sight.”
“Neither did I…” Xiang Zhe admitted.
“That day when you were here alone, I could not stop thinking about you, and found an excuse to come back to be with you.  I didn’t know it then, but I think I had already fallen for you…..”
“After our last trip here, I did not even see you for three whole weeks.  My was on tenderhooks, wondering if you were intentionally avoiding me; wondering if I had said something wrong; wondering if I had angered you in some way…. I had never felt that way about anybody in my whole life.  I felt so lonely when I did not see you or hear your voice.  It was only after Xiu Han aksed if I had fallen in love that I finally realized why I had been feeling that way…”
She smiled at him tenderly.  Did you know, Xiang Zhe, I too had fallen for you then?  I felt the same way too.
 
They sat there watching the waves, enjoying each other’s embrace and the feeling that the world was at their feet…..
As the sun set, turning the sky orange, then gold, then amber, then deep red, then every shade of pastel.
“Let’s go.  We’d better get the tents up while there’s still a little light left.”
Xiang Zhe reached out and pulled Shan Mei to her feet.
“What are tents you talking about?”
“I’m talking about the tents we are going to sleep in tonight.”
It was then Shan Mei realized that Xiang Zhe did not have reservations, and they would be spending the night in a tent.
“I wanted your birthday to be different.” Xiang Zhe explained.
Shan Mei grinned, then followed him without another word.
 
Shan Mei helped him put up a tent.
“This one’s not bad at all.” Shan Mei said happily, “The birthday girl should get priority!  This tent’s mine… You can get your own up now!”
“What are you talking about, my tent and your tent?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“Hey!  Don’t tell you you’ve only got one tent?” Shan Mei glared.
“That’s right!  This is the only one I’ve got.”
Shan Mei blushed bright red, “How can you do this to me?”
Xiang Zhe grinned cheekily, “Why, are you worried that I will be….. ungentlemanly?”
“That’s right, I’m worried to death.”
“Don’t’ worry you and I won’t be sharing a bed…”
Xiang Zhe pulled out two sleeping bags.
 
Xiang Zhe made a fire outside the tent.  They were having a barbecue for dinner.  He had prepared everything perfectly, including cutlery and crockery.  She never knew that a man could have such attention to detail.
“You just sit and wait for a sumptuous meal.”  Xiang Zhe refused any help from her.
“I’m not used to being waited on.” Shan Mei said as she wiped away the sweat on his brow.
Xiang Zhe chuckled, “Aren’t you already doing something now?”
“What are you talking about?” Shan Mei punched him on the shoulder.
“Didn’t you know that moral support is the most important thing? …Hey, the smoke is blowing in your direction.  Why don’t you come over here and sit next to me…..I’m not interested in having dinner with a lady covered in soot.”
“The dirty one around here isn’t me, I’m afraid…”  Shan Mei laughed as she wiped the sweat off Xiang Zhe’s face.
Xiang Zhe handed a fan over to Shan Mei, and she immediately set to work fanning the fire.
“My dearest, you’re fanning the wrong target.” Xiang Zhe said.
“What?”
“I was asking you to help cool me down with the fan, not heat up the fire!”
“Help cool you down?” Shan Mei pouted.  “Just which emperor do you think you are, getting me to wipe your brow and then to fan you….”
Xiang Zhe didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, “Which emperor do you know goes around with soot on his face…?”
 
Thirty minutes later, Xiang Zhe’s first creation, beef kebabs, were served.
“Mmmm, smells great…” Shan Mei couldn’t resist taking a bite, “tastes great too!”
“Really?”
“Mmm..” Shan Mei nodded, her mouth full.
Xiang Zhe looked at her enjoying the food and couldn’t help teasing her, “Miss Zhen Shan Mei, couldn’t you even try to be a little more elegant?”
Shan Mei glared at him, then put the rest of the kebab in Xiang Zhe’s mouth, so he couldn’t pass any more smart remarks.
 
Xiang Zhe brought a variety of vegetables, mushrooms together with some beef and seafood for the barbecue.  The flavours complimented each other well, and all the food was quickly consumed between the two of them.
“It’s all your fault!  I’m sure I’ve put on a few pounds already.” Shan Mei complained.
“Why don’t we go for a romantic stroll in the moonlight?  It will help with digestion and provide some exercise to burn off what we just ate.”
Shan Mei laughed, “I’d like to see just how romantic we can get when smelling of smoke and food odours.”
 
There were many more men than women in the campgrounds, and Xiang Zhe knew it would take him quite some time to queue his way into the shower.  They had arranged to meet up again at the lounge area.
 
Half an hour later when Xiang Zhe arrived at the meeting spot, he found Shan Mei there gazing at the sky.  She was so absorbed that she did not know he was there, and he took the opportunity to observe her.  He loved watching her when she was absorbed in something.  Her guileless expression and innocent smile never failed to mesmerize him.
 
Shan Mei suddenly turned around, “You’re here!” her expression was full of mischief.
“Do you have eyes on the back of your head?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“Of course!” She laughed happily.  She had felt his presence, smelt it.
 
Xiang Zhe was engrossed in that strange smile she wore.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” Shan Mei suddenly felt self-conscious.
“Your dress….it’s very special…” he stared at her.
“Does it look good?” Shan Mei pulled at it.  She had picked it out specially for the occasion.
“It looks very good….” He could not help admiring her.
Wearing a white chiffon dress, she looked like something that just walked out of a legend.
“Do you know why I’m dressed like that?”
Xiang Zhe shook his head.
“It’s because today is a special day…”
“Yes, it’s very special” he agreed.
“I wanted to make sure we would remember this day.”
He continued observing her.
“I used to love reading girlie cartoons in school…”  Shan Mei started to feel a little embarrassed.
“Girlie cartoons?”  he had never read any himself.
“Well…. the girlie cartoons would often have a beautiful lady dressed in white chiffon taking a romantic stroll on the beach with her hero….I always thought it was the ultimate romance….”
“So…?”
“So…” She hooked her hand on his elbow, “I want to be that beautiful lady in the girlie cartoons tonight.”
Xiang Zhe smothered his laughter.
“It’s very childish, isn’t it?”
“No, it’s very romantic.”
“You’re not just saying that?”  she had expected him to tease her about it.
“Are you saying you would like me to be your hero?”
Shan Mei looked around, searching, then said, “Well…. I don’t see anyone else around, do you?”
 
Xiang Zhe looked at Shan Mei with such intensity, she started to feel very shy.
“Stop looking at me like that!  Just look at the stars…. They’re twinkling….. and very pretty…..” she gave him a little push.
“I’ve already said I prefer looking at you.”
 
The two of them walked hand in hand in the starlit night, a soft summer breeze surrounding them, keeping the heat at bay.  The heat of Xiang Zhe’s hand warmed her heart, making her feel loved and cherished.  This world of theirs needed no words; their feelings were communicated through a link in their hearts and reflected in their eyes.  In that instant, how she wished time could stand still; how she wished this feeling could go on for eternity……
 
Shan Mei took off her shoes and walked barefoot in the sand, ,the waves ticking her feet, humming a song.
Xiang Zhe recognized it.  It was “Endless Love”, and it was the first time he had heard her sing.
He listened closely to her soft voice:
 
My love
There’s only you in my life
The only thing that’s right
……..
An I
I want to share
All my love with you
No one else will do
And your eyes
They tell me how much you care
Oh yes you will always be
My Endless Love
 
Two hearts
Two hearts that beat as one
Our live have just begun
Forever
I’ll hold you close in my arms
I can’t resist your charms
……
 
He could see the love radiating from her eyes, and could not take his eyes off her.
Shan Mei suddenly realized he was listening to her sing, and shyly stopped.  She did not have a good voice.
 
“You’re happy?” Xiang Zhe smiled.
“Mmm…” Shan Mei nodded vehemently.
“Aren’t you disappointed that you didn’t get a candlelight dinner?”
“A starlight feast is just as good.”
“A starlight feast?”  Xiang Zhe laughed.  It was true, they just had a feast under the stars.
“Xiang Zhe….”
“Hmmm?”
“Thank you, I’m really happy…..I’ve always wished we could watch the stars together again, just like we did that night in Gyeongju…..it felt as though we had gone to the ends of the earth together….”
“If I could, I would go to the ends of the earth together with you.”
Shan Mei’s eyes sought his passionate gaze.
“Will you…….will you kiss me like you did night night in Gyeongju?” she asked shyly.
She could not forget that tender kiss they shared.  It was their first.
“Hmmmm….let me think……” Xiang Zhe looked perplexed, “I’ll try my best….”
 
When their lips met, she knew at once there was no way they could return to the tenderness, the uncertainty of that first kiss.  Their passion for each other had already been ignited, and was raging……
 
“Do the girlie cartoons also have a scene like this one?” He whispered gently in her ear.
“I forget….” She was too embarrassed to answer.
 
“Let’s head back.  We haven’t yet had your birthday cake.”
“You bought me a cake?  How come I didn’t see it?”
“I’ve hidden it.”
 
Shan Mei smiled from ear to ear when she saw the cake.  It was her favourite raspberry chocolate torte.
“This cake is probably more suitable for Valentine’s day….” Shan Mei smiled.
The cake was in the shape of a heart, only about the size a palm.  Cakes like this one were usually only on sale during Valentine’s Day.
“I ordered it specially.” Xiang Zhe said smugly as he put a pink candle on it.
“Is this the only candle you’ve got?”
“I’ve also got these…” Xiang Zhe took out candles in the shape of the numbers 2 and 7.
“I’ll have these then.” Shan Mei reached for the numbers.
“Isn’t a lady’s age supposed to be the world’s best-kept secret?”  Xiang Zhe asked, surprised.
“Yes it is… but today is an exception.  I want to make sure I remember my 27th birthday forever.”
 
Xiang Zhe lit the candles, “Happy birthday!” he said simply.
“Aren’t you supposed to sing the birthday song to me?”
Xiang Zhe fished her mobile phone out of his pocket.  She had left it with him when they went for their shower earlier.
The mobile showed one new message from Xiang Zhe in her voicemail.
“Don’t tell me you’ve sent me the song in a voicemail?”
Xiang Zhe smiled tenderly.  He had sent the voicemail to her while she was in the shower.
 
Shan Mei pressed a button and Xiang Zhe’s tender voice flowed into her ear.
 
“Happy Birthday, Shan Mei.”
 
Shan Mei looked at Xiang Zhe and mouthed the words thank you back to him.
 
“Thank you for being so happy today.  Did you know watching your smile is the greatest happiness in the world for me; everytime you smile without constraint, I feel so blessed, so happy.”
 
Shan Mei could feel the sniffles in her nose.  She was going to cry….
 
“I has been my absolute fortune to welcome you into my world.  It has changed my life.  I never knew that loving someone could make my life so complete.  I feel as if I’m now living in perpetual sunshine….. You have enlightened me.  In this past year, you’ve made me smile more than I had in the previous thirty-three;  do you have any idea how many times, I’ve awakened in smiles because I had been dreaming about you?  I love you, Shan Mei.  I really, really love you.  The amazing thing is: each day I seem to love you even more.  As each day passes, my love for you becomes just that little bit deeper, just that little bit stronger…..”
 
Shan Mei’s tears fell.
 
“I’m so happy to share your birthday with you.  I hope that I will be able to share you birthday with you every year for the rest of your life…..”
 
Shan Mei’s tears gushed.
 
“You’re not supposed to cry on your birthday!” Xiang Zhe wiped her tears away.
“It’s all your fault!” Shan Mei blamed him.
 
“Make a wish!”
Shan Mei clasped her hands together and made a silent wish, “I wish I can grow old with you….”
In the dancing candlelight, she could see the tenderness radiating from his eyes.
“That’s my birthday wish.” She said and blushed.
 
Someone once said the world is the person who embraces you with her heart.  He finally truly understood what that meant.  She had embraced him with the love in her heart, and now she WAS his world.
 
His birthday gift to her was a platinum anklet with a peridot and a pearl.  The pearl was her birthstone and peridot were his.
He said, “Pearls come from the ocean, and the peridot from the other from the other end of the earth, but they are now entwined…”
His care in selecting the gift once again made her eyes water.
He put the anklet on her, taking care to make sure the two stones were sitting right next to each other, the looked at her with passion and said, “In a movie, they said giving an anklet would ensure that you meet again in your next life.  Let’s make a date for our next life….”
“Mmm…” She agreed.
 
In this life, she wanted to grow old with him.  In her next, she wanted to meet him and fall in love yet again…..
 
Shan Mei lay in her sleeping bag talking to Xiang Zhe.  She had a million ideas in her head.
“Let’s wake up early tomorrow to watch the sunrise…” Shan Mei said.
“Mmmm…” Xiang Zhe didn’t say more.
“And then we can take a ride on a bike.  I want to sit on the handlebars…..Oh, there’s a basketball ring on the other side.  After breakfast, we can have a game.  We haven’t played basketball together for a while now.…… Before we leave, we must go and watch the waves again… And don’t forget to remind me to buy some souvenirs….”
 
Shan Mei happily went on until she discovered that Xiang Zhe had long fallen asleep on her.
She looked at him sympathetically.  Poor guy!  He had been running around in circles for her all day: driving, putting up tents, cooking, then spending half the night with her on the beach on her hairbrained fantasy.
 
She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.
“Good night.” She whispered.
When the sun rises the next day, they would have the opportunity to meet once again.
 
******End of Chapter 24*****

 

 

Chapter 25

 

Written By Jennifer
Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
Translated by nho(CA)

 
Shan Mei ate just two mouthfuls of the congee before she placed the meal tray back on top of the cabinet.  She could never understand why the food prepared in the hospital could not be made more appetizing.  She had only stayed here for two days and her appetite was totally gone.  How could the patients recover their health quickly!  When she was grumbling in her heart, there was a twitch of pain from the place where the wound was stitched.  “Ouch!  It hurts!”  Shan Mei softly cried out.  If the doctor saw her like this, he would tease her again.  She could not help it as she could not sustain any pain since she was little.
 
“Just my bad luck …”  Shan Mei muttered.  She was getting more angry on further thoughts.  How could she get into such situation.  Shan Mei swallowed the medicine, pulled up the bed sheet to cover half of her face and then fell into a deep sleep.  Yesterday midnight when the effect of medicine receded, the wound started to get painful and she was tortured for the whole night without a good sleep.
 
Indistinctly she could hear someone knocking at the door.  Shan Mei glanced at the alarm clock by the bedside.  Auntie would not come until midday, so most probably it was the doctors on their rounds.  Anyway they always came in without invitation and did not need her to take care of them, so Shan Mei pulled up the bed sheet to hide half of her face and continued with her sleep.
 
The door was opened and someone came in.  Shan Mei heard footsteps walking towards her bed.  She deliberately did not want to acknowledge that doctor.  Yesterday when she was nearly dying of pain, that man imperturbably brought with him a group of medical interns for practical experience training.  She was so mad that she wanted to scream at them.  It was so strange that after a long time, there was no movement in the room, was he up to something?  Darn, it would not be some petty thief who had broken into the room?  Last time when her colleague was in hospital, all her personal belongings were pilfered by a thief!  When she thought of this, she was getting afraid and did not dare to move.  She stealthily half opened her eyes, wanting to take a peek at what was happening.
 
What materialized before her eyes was the pair of eyes that could always make her heart palpitating with excitement, it was Xiang Zhe!  He was bending his body looking at her.
 
“You are awake?”  Xiang Zhe was about to pull down the bed sheet from Shan Mei’s face.
 
“Don’t  …”  Shan Mei tightly held on to the bed sheet and did not let go.
 
“What’s up?”
 
“I look so ugly …”
 
She did not want him seeing her look like this.
 
“Can you come back five minutes later, please?”
 
“I won’t look upon you with disfavour …”  Xiang Zhe jokingly said.
 
“But I will hate myself.”  Shan Mei simply covered her whole face with the bed sheet.
 
Dumb goose, what female would willingly let her beloved boyfriend see her dishevelled look.
 
When Xiang Zhe came in again, Shan Mei already plaited her hair into two braids and she looked more sprightly.
 
“You came here straight from the airport?”  She asked him.
 
Xiang Zhe’s luggage was placed by the side of the door.
 
Xiang Zhe nodded, “Xiu Wei told me you were in hospital and it gave me a big fright …”
 
He was unable to get in touch with her since the day before yesterday.  No one answered either her cell phone or her home phone and when he called her at the office, her colleague told him she was on leave.  He could not get hold of Auntie Huan Zhen either and after he got off the plane, he managed to talk to Xiu Wei before he knew that the whole family was taking care of Shan Mei in the hospital yesterday.
 
“It was just an appendicitis surgery.  It’s no big deal.”  Shan Mei pretended to sound nonchalant.
 
“What have you done to get an acute appendicitis all of a sudden?”
 
Xiu Wei told him of the delay in getting medical attention, Shan Mei nearly got peritonitis.
 
“I thought it was just an ordinary stomach ache …”
 
“You are always like this, you are so blurry about your own personal affairs and let other people worry about you.”  Xiang Zhe grumbled.
 
“What kind of people will come to visit the patient and reprimand her instead.”  Shan Mei pouted.
 
“What kind of people will behave like our Miss Zhen who was delivered into the hospital just a few days I left town …”
 
“OK!  I will take more care of myself from now on!”
 
“These are words from your own mouth?”
 
“Yes, I promise.”  Shan Mei mischievously put up her right hand in the act of taking an oath.
 
“It looks more like it.”  Xiang Zhe laughed.
 
“You nag more than my auntie!”  Shan Mei murmured.
 
“You are unmindful of the happy life you are blessed with …”  Xiang Zhe gently pinched Shan Mei’s cheek.
 
“Am I looking very ugly now?”  Shan Mei touched her face and asked.
 
She was deeply concerned to let Xiang Zhe see the way she looked now.  When she saw herself in the mirror this morning, she found herself simply looking too awful.
 
Xiang Zhe secretly found it funny at heart that even though she was in hospital having a surgery, she would still be worried about the way she looked.  A girl was always a girl.
 
“Hmm … Let me take a good look …”  Xiang Zhe narrowed his eyes to look at Shan Mei up and down.  If he did not assume this pretence, Shan Mei would definitely accuse him of being too perfunctory.  “I think you look more or less like you do normally!”  Xiang Zhe said seriously.
 
What he said was the truth.  Apart from a little paleness and her face a little thinner, he did not feel that there was anything different from normal.  On the contrary he found her more alluring when she was looking weak and delicate now.
 
“Really?”  Shan Mei asked, half believing and half doubting him.
 
“I vouch I haven’t said anything untrue.”  Xiang Zhe imitated how Shan Mei put up her hand to take an oath just a moment ago.
 
“You’re so annoying!”  Shan Mei laughed out loud, but never thought it would affect the wound in her abdomen and it hurt so much that her face instantly turned white and she broke out in cold sweat.
 
“What happens?  Let me call the doctor …”  Xiang Zhe was agitated.
 
Shan Mei shook her hand and said “I’m OK, it’s just that the wound is hurting.”
 
“You’d better take your rest …”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“Are you going?”  Shan Mei asked piteously.  She held on to Xiang Zhe, not wanting to let him go.  When a person fell ill, he would become especially fragile.  
 
Xiang Zhe touched Shan Mei’s face, “I’m not going.  I will stay to keep you company …  You have to sleep some more, you are looking pale.”
 
He would go to the office later.
 
“I don’t want to sleep.  I have been sleeping too much during the last couple of days … Please chat with me!”  Shan Mei behaved like a spoiled brat and said cajolingly to Xiang Zhe.
 
“You seem to be very popular!”  Xiang Zhe looked around the roomful of flowers and said.
 
Shan Mei smilingly said: “So so!  It’s good excuse for them to patronize my Auntie’s shop …”
 
“Do you feel regretful for not being able to give your piano performance on stage?”  Xiang Zhe asked.
 
The day before yesterday was the day of Shan Mei’s piano achievement performance concert.  He thought she should not have gone on the stage with her sudden attack of appendicitis.
 
“Who said I didn’t go?”
 
“What?”
 
“When I woke early in the morning, my stomach started to ache a little, but it did not hurt that much at that time.  Besides it sometimes did not hurt at all, so I just ground my teeth and went and when it was my turn to go on stage, I felt so bad that I broke out in cold sweat.  My tutor thought I was too nervous and tried to boost my morale throughout.  I was sent to the hospital immediately after I got down from the stage …”
 
“You were simply playing with your own life!”  Xiang Zhe’s words were filled with reprimands.
 
“I didn’t want others to think I ran away before the battle began …”
 
“I have never seen anyone who strives to excel as you …, however, can you try to think of my feeling?”
 
“Aiyoo, don’t say anymore.  Haven’t you already lectured me just a moment ago … I don’t like the state I’m now in either.  There will be an ugly scar left on my abdomen and I can’t never wear a bikini again …”
 
Xiang Zhe said with ill-humour:  “That’s good, I don’t like you wearing a bikini in front of others …”
 
“Selfish man!”
 
“Any normal man will think in such way.”
 
“Yin Xiang Zhe, do you know?  My piano tutor said my performance on stage this time was above standard.”
 
“It’s shame I didn’t hear it.”
 
Under no circumstances did Shan Mei allow Xiang Zhe to attend the concert, that was why he did not postpone his trip abroad.  Shan Mei did not even let Jin Huan Zhen know.  
 
“It was definitely the case when you grind your weapon before a battle, your weapon will glitter even if it is not sharp.”  Shan Mei said.
 
“You can play for me next time?”
 
“No way!”
 
“Why?”
 
Shan Mei did not answer, just laughed heartily.
 
“Didn’t you just say that your tutor praised you for your above standard performance?”
 
“What she meant was above the standard I usually played.  But when it is compared with other people, there is still a long way to go!”
 
She could not even play as well as a 7-8 year old child did!
 
“Let me practice more first.”
 
She was secretly planning to wait until his birthday to show off her talent and let him hold her in high esteem.
 
“Yin Xiang Zhe, can you do me a favour?”
 
“I’m at your service.”
 
“Can you go out and get me a French tuna sandwich together with a cup of hot milk.  I’m so hungry …”
 
“Don’t tell me you didn’t have breakfast?”
 
“Almost.”
 
“Almost?  What do you mean?”
 
“I’m not used to the food prepared by the hospital.  I have only eaten a few mouthful of the congee this morning.”
 
When Xiang Zhe came back with the sandwich, he found an additional bunch of white roses in the room.
 
“Flowers from a good friend?”  Xiang Zhe curiously craned his neck to look at the signature on the card.  Only familiar friends knew of her love for white roses.
 
“Huh.”  Shan Mei responded, without showing too much concern.
 
When Xiang Zhe saw the name of the signature, his face slightly changed colour.  What he saw was a man’s name.
 
Who was that person?  How did he know that Shan Mei loved white roses?
 
“Who is this man?”  Xiang Zhe asked jealously.
 
There was a saying that people in love could not stand even a dust in their eyes.  This saying was definitely not false.  He really hated himself to behave like this, but he could not after all repress the jealousy in his heart.
 
“Oh …”  Shan Mei could hear the jealousy in his words.
 
“A friend.”  Shan Mei answered.
 
“Friend?  Don’t tell me it’s one of your admirers?”
 
Shan Mei looked at Xiang Zhe and asked mischieviously:  “If I say yes, will you be overturning the vinegar pot {i.e. extremely jealousy)?  
 
“No.”  Xiang Zhe sounded magnanimous, but the expression on his face indicated that he did not speak what was in his mind.  Shan Mei secretly found it funny.
 
“Aye, how disappointing!”  Shan Mei sighed.
 
“What is so disappointing?”  Xiang Zhe found it both annoying and funny, “You are a heartless woman, you are just anxious to see me getting both angry and jealous …”
 
“You getting jealous means that you care about me!”  Shan Mei looked at Xiang Zhe and said:  “You are a mite displeased that some other man sends me flowers, ain’t I right?”  She watched him closely without winking her eyes, “Right?”  Shan Mei asked persistently.
 
“Right …”  Xiang Zhe nodded to admit, “Not only am I a mite displeased, I’m extremely displeased …”
 
He was not a narrow minded person, but because what that man sent was white roses, he had to take it to heart.  He did not know that Shan Mei loved white roses until he began his pursuit of her.  He thought the one who sent those white roses would not be just an average friend.
 
Shan Mei laughed merrily, “Thank you for satisfying my vanity.  In order to stop you for getting displeased, I won’t accept any flowers from other men from now on.”  
 
Shan Mei looked so magnanimous that somehow made Xiang Zhe feel ashamed of his own pettiness.  That bunch of white roses must just be a coincidence, Xiang Zhe thought.
 
Shan Mei leaned her head against Xiang Zhe’s shoulder.  She told him that she missed his shoulder.
 
“Is the wound hurting very much?”  Xiang Zhe asked.
 
“It doesn’t hurt any more when I see you.”  Shan Mei said coquettishly.
 
Xiang Zhe laughed, they had not seen each other for just a few days and she had become more cajolery.  
 
“Aye, I have bought a present for you …  Wait until you are out of the hospital and I will give it to you.”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
Shan Mei shook her head and said:  “I don’t need a present.  I will be fully satisfied if you can just spend more time with me.”
 
“You miss me that much?”  Xiang Zhe smiled faintly.
 
“Huh …”  Shan Mei nodded with a blushing face, “In the ambulance when I was hurting so much that I nearly fainted, I felt so afraid that I would not be able to see you again …”
 
“You are uttering nonsense!”
 
“Haven’t you always said that I am silly?”
 
“A gifted student from the Law Faculty of Seoul University said that she is silly herself, who would believe that?”
 
“I don’t have the energy to trade words with you.”
 
“Then I better take full advantage of your weakness and demand everything of you …”
 
Xiang Zhe pretended to kiss Shan Mei’s lips and Shan Mei dodged, “Don’t fool around, the nurse will come in any minute.”
 
“What present have you bought me?”  Shan Mei asked.
 
“Winnie the Pool bear.”
 
“I already have a Winnie the Pool bear.”
 
Xiang Zhe said with a full smile:  “This one is different.”
 
“If you and Xiu Wei Oppa continue to buy toys for me, I really need a warehouse to keep them …”  Shan Mei glanced at Xiang Zhe and said:  “Do you know, among the presents you gave me, which one do I like best?”
 
“It’s … the teddy bear we won in Gyeongju?”
 
He could not forget the joy on her face when the owner generously gave that bear to Shan Mei.
 
“No …”  Shan Mei smilingly shook her head, “It’s this one …”
 
Shan Mei put her left hand in Xiang Zhe’s hand.  She wanted him to look at the ring on her finger, which Xiang Zhe took her to Itaewon and bought it for her.  From that day onwards, she had never taken it down.  She would wear it and treasure it.  She had asked Xiang Zhe why did he snatch the bill for the ring, did he already have some conspiracy in mind?  He just grinned and refused to answer.  Perhaps from a bystander’s view, that ring was not something of great value, but in her heart, that was the pledge of love gift and there was nothing which could substitute it.
 
Xiang Zhe experienced sweetness in his heart and he smilingly looked intently into Shan Mei’s pupils, “One day I will take another ring to exchange for this one …”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
Shan Mei replied with a face filled with shyness, “Well, you have to wait and see whether I’m willing to let you do it …”
 
“When you went to New York, did you go to visit the Empire State Building?”  Shan Mei asked Xiang Zhe.
 
“No.  Why?” Xiang Zhe asked, finding it funny.  He was not an ordinary tourist.
 
“What a pity!”  Shan Mei said regretfully.
 
“Why do I have to go to the Empire State Building?”
 
“That is where many beautiful love stories end in happiness there …”
 
“Really?”  Xiang Zhe roared with laughter.
 
“In the movie “An Affair to Remember”, Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr arranged to meet there; in “Sleepless in Seattle”, Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks finally met there in Valentine Day too …  Someone said as that place is closest to heaven, all chaste love will be blessed by God …”  Shan Mei wore a face of yearning.
 
“Then it should be a place for us to visit together … We will go there together next time.”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“Hmm.”  Shan Mei nodded and dimpled in smiles.
 
At noon, Jin Huan Zhen brought in chicken soup and when Shan Mei saw the chicken soup, she immediately exclaimed:  
 
“Chicken soup again?  Auntie, can’t you bring me something good to eat!”
 
“Some good to eat, they will have to wait until you leave the hospital and ask Xiang Zhe to get them for you …  Xiang Zhe, I have to take care of something in the shop, please help me to keep an eye on Shan Mei and make sure that she finishes all the chicken soup.”
 
Jin Huan Zhen instructed Xiang Zhe.
 
“Yes.”  Xiang Zhe nodded in agreement.
 
“Auntie …”
 
“If you want to act as a spoiled brat, try it on Xiang Zhe!”
 
In order not to delay Xiang Zhe from going to the office, Shan Mei knitted her brows and finished the chicken soup.
 
“Thanks for your co-operation!”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“Don’t mention it … Hey, I want to look at the Winnie the Pooh bear you bought.”  Shan Mei said.
 
Xiang Zhe’s mouth lifted at the corners, “Wait until you are out of the hospital!”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“I want to see it now.”
 
Shan Mei had a sudden attack of child disposition and she insisted on seeing the present.
 
Xiang Zhe felt helpless and all he could do was to take out the present from the luggage.
 
“It’s so lovely!”  Shan Mei smiled happily on seeing the Winnie the Pooh bear.
 
The beaming Winnie the Pooh bear was wearing a red T-shirt and on which was hung an extra large heart shaped sign made from pink cotton material.  On top of the heart was an embroidered big yellow honeybee and underneath the honeybee was written four English characters “Mine”.
 
“This bear is really too gluttonous, it is even holding a bee in his arms …”  Shan Mei roared with laughter.
 
Xiang Zhe smiled in a treacherous way.
 
Shan Mei saw the way Xiang Zhe looked and started thinking.  There must be something shady about this Winnie the Pooh bear …  Shan Mei pondered in her heart.
 
Honeybee was “bee” and with the words “mine” underneath … Bee Mine … Bee Mine … Oh!
 
“What does this mean?”  Shan Mei asked, her face flushing.
 
“It means whatever you think it means …”  Xiang Zhe wore a face of cunning smile.  He was simply thrilled with this gift.  
 
“Take it away quickly!”  Shan Mei said.
 
If Auntie and Xiu Wei Oppa happened to find this, she would be embarrassed to death.
 
Xiang Zhe doubled up in laughter when he saw how shy and agitated Shan Mei looked.
 
“What, you don’t like it?”  He purposely teased her.
 
“Right, I don’t like it …”  Shan Mei pouted.
 
“Don’t like it?  Then I will give it to the lady in my office …”
 
“No!”  Shan Mei clutched the bear.
 
“You don’t want this bear, or you don’t want me to give it away?”
 
“You are really very annoying!”
 
“I already told you to look at it after you leave the hospital.”  Xiang Zhen grinningly said.
 
Shan Mei’s response was anticipated by Xiang Zhe, and that was why he wanted her to look at the present after she left the hospital.  
 
“First let it keep you company here and I will take it home tonight …”
 
Xiang Zhe left the Winnie the Pooh bear with Shan Mei.
 
After Xiang Zhe left, Shan Mei held the bear in her hand and stared at it.
 
Be Mine …
 
Xiang Zhe said, it meant whatever she thought it meant.
 
To be his girlfriend … to be his lover … or … to be his wife …  Shan Mei was flushing hot.  What!  This person was so wicked.
 
“Shan Mei …”  Jin Huan Zhen came back.
 
Shan Mei hurriedly buried the bear inside the bedding.  No matter what those words meant, she simply could not let Auntie see it.
 
Xiang Zhe came back in the evening and discovered that bunch of white flowers had vanished without trace.
 
“Where is my Winnie the Pooh bear?”  Xiang Zhe looked in all directions and asked.
 
“It is too ashamed to see people and is in hiding.”  Shan Mei said.
 
“Is it you who is ashamed to see people?  Or is it the little bear?”  Xiang Zhe smouldered in laughter.
 
“You ask Auntie to take it home for you?”  Xiang Zhe asked.
 
He bumped into Jin Huan Zhen in the corridor who was on her way home.  Xiang Zhe knew that she purposely let them spend time alone together.
 
“It’s here!”  Shan Mei lifted up the quilt.  “It’s all your fault to dump this little trouble on me.  Please take it home with you later.”  Shan Mei muttered.  In order not to let Auntie see it, she was hiding it under the quilt the whole time.
 
Xiang Zhe saw that Shan Mei was trying hard to hide the little bear and he could not stop laughing secretly.
 
“Why did you hide the bear inside the quilt?”
 
Shan Mei gave Xiang Zhe a disdainful look and said ill-humouredly:  “To keep me company when I took the nap!”
 
Hateful, this fellow had the audacity to pretend to be blurry!
 
“What do you want to eat tonight?  I can sneak in some goodies for you.”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
Shan Mei was staying in a one person private room and could freely come and go.
 
Shan Mei smiled happily:  “I want to eat … spicy fried rice cakes.”
 
“Don’t be a fool!  You just had a surgery and cannot eat anything that is too spicy.”
 
Shan Mei protruded her lips and said:  “Two days have already past … Can I just eat a tiny portion?  Please stretch the rules a little bit!”  Shan Mei begged Xiang Zhe.
 
“No way.”  Xiang Zhe said in an inarguably tone, “Last time when I had that motor cycle accident, someone kept a close watch on me, saying that spicy food was not good to the wound and would not even allow me to taste kimji for two weeks …”  Xiang Zhe smilingly cast her a sideway glance, “Now when you have fallen ill yourself, you clamour for spicy fried rice cakes instead … It is really the case of treating other strictly and yourself leniently.”  
 
“OK!  I won’t eat it.”  Shan Mei said reluctantly.
 
“I will get some sol-long tang (hearty beef stock soup) for you …”  Xiang Zhe coaxed Shan Mei.
 
 
When Xiang Zhe came back, Shan Mei’s door was half opened.  He heard she was talking to someone, maybe she had a visitor.
 
When Xiang Zhe saw the person in the room, he was dumbfounded.
 
“This is the uncle I mentioned to you before, Mr. Yin Zheng Hao.”  Shan Mei smilingly spoke to Xiang Zhe.
 
Yin Zheng Hao turned his head and looked.  When he saw Xiang Zhe, his face revealed an expression of pleasant surprise.
 
When the gazes of them crashed with each other, Xiang Zhe turned his face away coldly.  He had never expected to see Yin Zheng Hao under these circumstances.  The last time it was when he appeared in his mother’s funeral 15 years’ ago.
 
Shan Mei did not notice anything amiss and continued to make the introduction.
 
“Uncle Yin, this is my friend.  His last name is also Yin and his name is Yin Xiang Zhe.”
 
“Hello.”  Xiang Zhe’s face was devoid of expression when he bowed in greeting.
 
Shan Mei felt embarrassed by Xiang Zhe’s cold attitude.  She looked at Xiang Zhe in surprise.  What was happening to him?
 
“Xiang Zhe …”  Yin Zheng Hao called out Xiang Zhe’s name emotionally.
 
Shan Mei was startled, “You know each other?”
 
Xiang Zhe looked at Yin Zheng Hao without saying a word and the expression on his face was very cold and unmoved and on comparison, Yin Zheng Hao was looking earnest and it made a striking contrast.  The atmosphere in the room appeared to be strange yet dignified.  Shan Mei somehow did not know what to do
 
“Xiang Zhe …”  Shan Mei broke the silence.
 
“I won’t disturb you from looking after your guest.  I’ll come back later.”  
 
Xiang Zhe turned and walked out of the sick room and left behind Shan Mei with a face of astonishment and Yin Zheng Hao looking desolate and shattered.
 
After more than an hour later, Xiang Zhe came back.
 
“Your guest has gone?”  Xiang Zhe asked calmly as if nothing had happened a while ago.
 
“Huh.”  Shan Mei nodded.  She too did not want to mention what happened before.  There was no way she could interfere with what had happened between father and son.
 
Xiang Zhe’s body smelt strongly of cigarette.  She thought he must have smoked quite a few cigarettes.
 
“I went to get another bowl of beef soup for you just now.  The other one has gone cold.”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“There is a microwave in the lounge at the end of the corridor, we can just reheat and eat it.”
 
“Really?”
 
“Have you had dinner yet?”  Shan Mei asked.
 
Xiang Zhe shook his head.
 
“Keep me company!  Let’s heat up the other one and there will be enough for the two of us.”
 
Xiang Zhe silently ate dinner with Shan Mei.  She could see that he was feeling rotten.
 
“Hey, the beef in your bowl is more than mine … I’m the patient and need more nourishment.  You have to give some of your beef to me …  Hmm, it’s so yummy!”
 
“My physician in charge told me that he has never in his life met anyone who is so terrifying of pain and will cry out loudly even in the process of changing the dressing …”
 
Shan Mei racked her brain to find a way to put him back on a better mood and only with great difficulty before Xiang Zhe’s face revealed a smile.
 
“Can you stay here and keep me company tonight? Please!”  She pulled his hand.
 
Xiang Zhe looked at Shan Mei in astonishment.
 
“…”
 
“I don’t care.  You are to stay here to keep me company tonight no matter what!”
 
Shan Mei acted cajolingly.
 
She did not care whether Auntie would laugh at her.  She only knew that she would not let him spend the night lonely and helpless and she wanted to stay at his side to keep him company.
 
 
- End of Chapter 25 –

 

Chapter 26

 

My Dearest One (Qin Ai De Ni)
By Jennifer
Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
Translated by Jules
 
“Alright, that’s decided then.  I’ll have Shan Mei prepare a legal opinion letter and deliver it to you tomorrow morning.” Jiang Zhan Ting promised.
“In that case, I’ll have to trouble Miss Zhen,” Song Shuo Mao looked at Shan Mei.
Jiang Zhan Ting waved his hand, “Allen, your group is one of our most important clients, Shan Mei should be the one thanking you for appointing us…… isn’t that right, Shan Mei?”
“Yes…” Shan Mei nodded in discomfort.  She didn’t know if it was Song Shuo Mao’s instigation, but their firm had suddenly become her client after the last job.  She was going to have more and more dealing with Song Shuo Mao from now on, and he often made the trip to her offices to discuss work.  Song Shuo Mao had invited her for dinner several time, but she had refused.  She did not want to have any dealings with him outside of work.
 
Jiang Zhan Ting looked at his watch, “It’s already noon, Allen….I’m afraid I have a prior engagement.  I’ll have Shan Mei take you out for lunch in my place.”
Shan Mei was hoping that Song Shuo Mao would refuse, but he accepted the invitation instead.
 
Shan Mei went downstairs with Song Shuo Mao in complete silence.  She was racking her brains on what to talk about with him over the meal.
“If you don’t wish to have lunch with me, I can go.  I really don’t mind.” Song Shuo Mao had been observing her and knew that she was trying to avoid being alone with him.
Shan Mei glared at Song Shuo Mao, “In that case, why did you just refuse the invitation in the first place?”
Song Shuo Mao smiled grimly.  It was a rare opportunity for him to be alone with her, and he did not want to give it up.
“Alright!  I admit I didn’t really mean what I said…” Song Shuo Mao scratched his head, then said in resignation, “Really! You didn’t have to put it so bluntly…”
When Song Shuo Mao said that, Shan Mei was suddenly embarrassed.
“What would you like for lunch, Assistant Director?”
“Let’s go for Japanese at Kimunoya in Myeongdong.  You always liked the hot stone food there.”
Go to her favourite Japanese restaurant?  Shan Mei was irritated at his suggestion.  Just who did he think he was?  What business was it of his whether she like the food or not?
“No way!  I have to rush back for a meeting.” Shan Mei refused straight away.
 
In the end, they went to a nearby Western restaurant.
Shan Mei ordered a Nicoise Salad
“That’s rather bland?” Song Shuo Mao commented.  Shan Mei smiled, but did not reply.
“Would madam like anything else with that?” the waiter asked.
“Do you have raspberry cake?  She loves raspberry cake.” Song Shuo Mao interjected.
“I want mango pudding.” Shan Mei said.
She actually loved raspberry cake, but she was put off by his assumption of familiarity.
“You taste in food has changed….”
“Many things in the world change over time.” Shan Mei said.
Song Shuo Mao blanched at her words, and Shan Mei regretted them.  She did not intend to barb him.  She had only said what had been on her mind.
 
“Thank you for the flowers.” Shang Mei broke the uncomfortable silence.
Song Shuo Mao broke out in smiles, “Have you completely recovered?  You look well…”
“I had my stitches out more than two weeks ago.”
“When I heard that you had been hospitalized, I was worried it was because of the stress in handling our account…”
“Do you really think I’d be so weak?” Shan Mei laughed.
“I actually wanted to visit you in hospital, but I was afraid you would drive me out with a broom…” Song Shuo Mao replied, half in jest.
“Well, at least you’re smart enough to know where you stand.”
Song Shuo Mao sighed, “Do you really detest me so much?”
”Yes.” Shan Mei nodded.
Actually, it was someone else who detested seeing her with him.  Shan Mei recalled the expression on Xiang Zhe’s face when he saw the white roses, and smiled sweetly.
 
Song Shuo Mao smiled in delight when he saw that smile on Shan Mei’s face, thinking that the smile was for him.  He really missed that smile.
“It’s been difficult to catch a smile from you.” Song Shuo Mao said.
“I don’t recall being particularly grim when we were at work together.” Shan Mei protested.
“I meant catching a smile like that one you just gave me….as if we were friends.”
Shan Mei’s smile froze.
“I hope we can still be friends,” Song Shuo Mao said.
Shan Mei hesitated for a moment before replying blandly, “I’m not sure we can be friends again.”
 
The waiter brought their food.
Shan Mei lowered her head and concentrated on her food.  After a long while, she finally discovered that Song Shuo Mao had been just sitting there with knife and fork in hand, food untouched.
“Aren’t you going to eat?” she asked.
“I’m not hungry.”
“Well, I am!” Shan Mei said as she jabbed another piece of salad and put it in her mouth.
 
“Actually, I saw you before you went to Kimhae the first time for that project…” Song Shuo Mao suddenly started.
Shan Mei looked at him in surprise, “When was that?” she asked.
“It was at your firm’s commemorative cocktail.”
“You were there that night?”
Song Shuo Mao nodded.
“Why didn’t I notice you?”
“I….” He had been feeling guilty, and could not find the courage to face her.
“When I saw you in all your glory on stage that night, I felt …like I owed you something.  Shan Mei, I…”
Shan Mei cut him off, “Let’s not bring up the past.  I may have been hurt, but all that is over, and we have both found our own brand of happiness elsewhere, haven’t we?”
“Our own brand of happiness?” Song Shuo Mao asked quietly.
For a moment, Shan Mei though she detected a note of regret and unspoken feeling in his words.
 
“Can you reconsider having me as a friend?  Just a common friend?”
As they were parting, Song Shuo Mao suddenly asked Shan Mei again.  The tone of his plea touched Shan Mei.
“I’ll think about it.” She finally replied.
Shan Mei sighed secretly.  Xiang Zhe always teased her for not being able to refuse others.
 
Just as she arrived back at the office, Shan Mei received a surprising phone call.
“Alright, I’ll go over tonight.” She told the person on the other end of the line.
She could guess what the topic of conversation would be that night, but still she could not refuse because it was Xiang Zhe’s father.
 
By the time she got home that night, it was already after ten.  Shan Mei sat at her desk thinking about the legal documentation she was supposed to hand over to Song Shuo Mao the next morning, but could not collect her wits.  All she could think of was what happened with Xiang Zhe’s father earlier.
 
She met Yin Zheng Qii over a dinner that lasted 3 hours.  Yin Zheng Qi had asked about every detail of Xiang Zhe, from his schooling to his life, to his work.  It was almost as if he was trying to piece together the pieces that he missed.  Shan Mei couldn’t help feeling sad and regretful for Xiang Zhe.  She could not imagine a father who could completely ignore his son for over twenty years.
“No matter what tore you apart, surely it didn’t justify not even trying to contact him for over twenty years?” Shan Mei could not understand.
“I had an agreement with Xiang Zhe’s mother that I would not interfere in their lives….” Yin Zheng Qi replied.
Shan Mei was mortified, “This is not a business contract.  No matter what Auntie might have said, Xiang Zhe is still your son…”
“Xiang Zhe’s mother was a strong-willed woman.  She did not want…”
“I cannot accept that as an explanation……. It’s to do with what you feel, with showing some concern.  Do you know how much Xiang Zhe has suffered because of it?  Do you know how much it took for the three of them to make it through?” Shan Mei’s eyes reddened.
Yin Zhen Qi had nothing to say.
Shan Mei knew she was being highly disrespectful of an elder by saying all this, but she could not hold it back without choking herself.
“If you could bother hanging out at the park to try your luck, why didn’t you try to show some concern in the first instance?”
“I was too much of a coward then…. I had done Xiang Zhe and his mother a great injustice.” Yin Zheng Qi;s eyes filled with tears.  “I don’t expect Xiang Zhe to forgive me.  I only want to have a good look at him and say a few words….”
Yin Zheng Qi pleaded with Shan Mei to arrange a meeting for them.
“Uncle, there is no way I could do that.”
 
She did not have the right to be the go-between for the two of them.  She had no idea what had happened between Xiang Zhe’s parents at the time, and did not want to be the source of trouble for Xiang Zhe.  She could not forget the pain in Xiang Zhe’s eyes that night.  He had laid in her arms and cried.  She felt so sad for him, so sorry, but didn’t know what to say to comfort him.  All she could do was hold him in her arms….. Xiang Zhe’s heart had a very large, very deep wound.  The next day, he had collected himself and went to work as if nothing had happened.
 
The telephone rang.  It was Xiang Zhe.
“Are you getting ready for bed?” he asked.
“I’m writing a paper.”
“Can I interrupt you for five minutes?”
Shan Mei giggled, “You’ve already interrupted me!...”
“I didn’t mean that kind of interruption…”
“What do you mean?”
“Can you guess where I am?”
 
“Aiyo!  You….!”
Shan Mei flew downstairs and opened the door.  Xiang Zhe was standing outside.
 
“Why did you come over so late?”
“I missed you.” Xiang Zhe smiled tiredly.
“Come in!  You look really tired.”
“That’s alright.  I just wanted to look at you for a minute….. I’ll be on my way in five minutes.”
He had specially made his way over to her place, and was delighted to find that the lights were on and she was still up.
“Yin Xiang Zhe, I think your five minutes are up.” Shan Mei said.
“That was quick!”
“I’m afraid….” She remembered how they seemed to have a telepathic connection when he came all the way over from Incheon to give her that five minute hug.  “However, I will consider giving you a five minute extension…actually, a lot of five minute extensions.”
Shan Mei said while in his embrace.  How she wished they could stay like this forever.
“Looks like someone is even more greedy than I am….” He whispered in her ear, then bent over to kiss her.
 
“Let me get you some supper?”  Shan Mei asked.
“Why are you being so nice to me today?”
Shan Mei smiled, “You make it sound like I usually treat you so badly…”
“I’m saying nothing of the sort.” Xiang Zhe waved his hand at her.
Shan Mei was being very gentle and compliant.
“How about some Kimchi noodles?”
“Do you need my help?”
“There’s no need.  You just sit here and wait to taste my speciality.”
 
Xiang Zhe stood by the kitchen door and watched Shan Mei’s back, thinking about what happened during lunch, feeling anxious.
When he went off with Jiang Zhan Ting for lunch, he saw Shan Mei with a tall, handsome young man in the lobby.  He immediately recognized the man as the one who had been watching Shan Mei intently during their firm’s commemorative cocktail party.  Just the though of someone looking at Shan Mei like that made him uneasy.
 
“Is that person with Miss Zhen one of the staff at your firm?” he asked Jiang Zhan Ting.
“No, he’s one of our clients.  I asked Shan Mei to take him out on my behalf…”
Xiang Zhe was not impressed. “Isn’t it asking too much for a female employee to entertain a male client one-on-one?”
Jiang Zhan Ting laughed when he heard that, “Director Yin must be worried about Miss Zhen then!”
“Of course I am.  She’s the sister of my best friend.”
“Don’t worry, Assistant Director Song know each other from way back.  He was her mentor when she was training for the bar.”
“Assistant Director Song?”
“He’s Song Shuo Mao from the Kimhae Group…”
Song Shuo Mao! The name was so familiar….finally, a flash went off in his head.  Xiang Zhe thought about the white roses that had been sent to Shan Mei at the hospital.  That was the name on the card.
 
“Alright, it’s ready!”
Shan Mei brought a bowl of noodles out to Xiang Zhe.
“Eat it while it’s hot.”
“How is it?  Pretty good, eh?” Shan Mei asked.
“Hmmm, not bad at all.” Xiang Zhe threw off thoughts about Song Shuo Mao and white roses.  He really shouldn’t speculate.  Song Shuo Mao was only Shan Mei’s senior.
“Is that true?” Shan Mei beamed at him.
“The stock is lovely and the noodles just right.  It tastes like….what a wife would make!”
Xiang Zhe expected her to react to the remark, but Shan Mei just sat there smiling at him.
“You’re not yourself today.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re especially gentle and caring.”
“I’m ALWAYS gentle and caring.” Shan Mei protested.
After that meeting with Xiang Zhe’s father, Shan Mei was feeling extremely sorry for Xiang Zhe.  She didn’t know whether or not to accede to his father’s wishes and arrange for a meeting between them.  She was struggling with herself.
 
“Hey!  What are you thinking of?  Your eyebrows are tied up in knots…”
“Hmmm” Shan Mei got a hold of herself.
 
“Yumm,  this is really good.” Shan Mei praised her own cooking.
“If you only wanted that little bit, why did you cook such a big pot of it?” Xiang Zhe asked.  Shan Mei only had a small bowl.
“I wanted to – is that alright?”
He knew she had prepared it specially for him.
“Of course it’s alright.” Xiang Zhe replied as he smiled at her unblinkingly.
“Why are you looking at me?” The tenderness in Xiang Zhe’s eyes made Shan Mei blush.
“Aren’t you also looking at me?”
“You’re incorrigible!  Just eat!”
 
It was midnight before they knew it.
“I should be going.” Xiang Zhe said.
“I’ll see you home.” Shan Mei said.
“What?”
“I said I’ll see you home.”  
“Bullocks!” Xiang Zhe felt the sweetness in his heart.
She accompanied him to his home, then he drove her back to her place, and Shan Mei was still unwilling to part with him.
“You’d better get to bed, otherwise you’ll have dark circles under your eyes tomorrow.”
“Ummm…” Shan Mei nodded, “Yin Xiang Zhe…” she hesitated.
“What is it?”
“If one day, I end up doing something you really dislike, would you get really mad at me?”
“What are you talking about?” Xiang Zhe patted her head, “What would you do, knowing full well that I would be angry it?”
“Don’t worry about that bit!  You just have to answer my question.”
“If I said I would be extremely, immensely mad at you, but you feel it was the right thing to do, you would still do it regardless, wouldn’t you?”
“Yes.” Shan Mei nodded.  He knew her so well.
“In that case, I would try my best to understand you, and not get too mad.” Xiang Zhe said simply.
 
That Saturday, Shan Mei went to Gyeongju to look Xiang Zhe’s grandmother up.  She told Xiang Zhe she was going to visit a friend in Pusan.  She wanted to know what the situation was with Xiang Zhe’s father before making her decision.
 
After work on Thursday, Xiang Zhe arrived at the restaurant as arranged with Shan Mei.
“Mr Yin, your friend has been waiting a long time.” The waiter told him.  He was a regular here, and the waiters all knew him.
Xiang Zhe’s lips curled in a smile.  That afternoon, Shan mei telephoned him to say she might be late, but she had actually arrived before him.  She must be missing him…..
 
Xiang Zhe was speechless when he saw who was waiting for him.  It was no other than his father, Yin Zheng Qi.
“Xiang Zhe…”
“This was your idea, wasn’t it?” Xiang Zhe remained standing, thunderous rage on his face.
“Don’t blame Shan Mei for it.  I begged her to help me, and she was too kind to refuse.” Yin Zheng Qi explained.
“What do you want?”
“All I want is to talk with you…”
“I don’t have anything to say to someone who has disappeared for over twenty years….”
“You don’t have to say anything, I just wish you could listen to me say a few words with an open mind….” Yin Zheng Qi pleaded.
Xiang Zhe looked steadily at the familiar, yet strange face, pulled up a chair and sat down.
 
When Shan Mei arrived an hour later, Xiang Zhe was alone.
“I’m sorry, I’m late.”
Xiang Zhe looked terrible, and Shan Mei could not bear to look him in the eye.
“He… is he gone?” Shan Mei asked quietly.
Xiang Zhe looked at Shan Mei, “Have you eaten?” he asked.
“I….ate.” Shan Mei lied.
Xiang Zhe called for the bill.
 
Shan Mei followed Xiang Zhe into the car.
“Where are we going?” she asked him timidly.
“Home.” Xiang Zhe said.
Xiang Zhe remained silent all the way, and Shan Mei did not even dare to take a breath.
When they got home, Xiang Zhe left Shan Mei in the lounge and went into the kitchen.  Shan Mei thought Xiang Zhe was getting a drink, but then heard him chopping something.
She went to the kitchen and found him cutting up vegetables and defrosting some seafood from the freezer.
“Are you cooking seafood hotpot?” Shan Mei asked Xiang Zhe.  She knew he hadn’t eaten.  The restaurant bill only listed two drinks.
Xiang Zhe ignored her and continued cutting.
“Let me cook some rice as well.” Shan Mei said to herself.
Xiang Zhe must be furious.  How could he cook seafood hotpot without rice?
After she put the rice on, Shan Mei started the stock.  Xiang Zhe remained silent until even the seafood was cooked.  Shan Mei was about to die of neglect.
Xiang Zhe scooped out a bowl of soup and put it in front of Shan Mei.
Shan Mei looked guiltily at Xiang Zhe and said, “Yell at me if you’re angy.  Don’t just stay silent…”
“I haven’t got the energy to yell until afer I eat.” Xiang Zhe replied.
Shan Mei said seriously, “Thank God!  I though you were never going to talk to me again for the rest of your life.”
“This is the thing that you were going to do even though you thought I would get mad?” he asked.
Shan Mei nodded and said softly, “If you want to yell at me, I really have nothing to say…” she was really feeling very sorry.
Xiang Zhe looked at her, but did not say anything.
“Xiang Zhe….. I didn’t do it because I felt sorry for your father; I did it after long and serious deliberation….. last Saturday, I actually went to see your grandmother.” Shan Mei held her breath.
“You went to see my Grandma?” Xiang Zhe asked in surprise.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about it.  I wanted to find out more about your parents before making decision on whether to do this…”
Xiang Zhe’s grandmother said it was Xiang Zhe’s mother who wanted the separation.  Xiang Zhe’s mother, Li Ruo Lan, was an art tutor for Yin Zheng Qi’s older son, and the two of them met and fell in love that way.  They had married each other ignoring objections from both families.  The conservative Yin family did not want their daughter-in-law to be known in public, so Li Ruo Lan had given up her artist’s career to care for Yin Zheng Qi and his son at hom.  After Xiang Zhe was born, Yin Zheng Qi’s business took off, and Li Ruo Lan saw less and less of him.  With her husband’s blessing, she had participated in a friend’s art circle, much to the disapproval of the Yin family.  The feud between Li Ruo Lan and her mother-in-law on this matter ended up putting Yin Zheng Qi in a difficult position.  In the end, the strong-willed Li Ruo Lan decided to separate from her husband, who could not support her independent nature.  She had originally agreed to leave her son with the Yin family, but the eight year old Xiang Zhe managed to run away from home and find his way to his mother in Gyeongju.  Touched by his action, Li Ruo Lan finally gave up her rights to alimony in exchange for custody of her son, and requested Yin Zheng Qi to leave the two of them alone.
 
That was what Xiang Zhe’s grandmother told her.
 
“What did my grandmother tell you?”
Xiang Zhe’s cynical sneer, made Shan Mei feel for him.  She made her way to his side and hugged him.
“Ever since my mother died, I have always made my own decisions….which university, studying overseas, starting a business….” Xiang Zhe hesitated, then put his hand out to stroke Shan Mei’s cheek, “ Even in love…. I’ve only done what I felt was right for me.  Now…” He looked at her helplessly.
“I’m sorry, Xiang Zhe…”
“You’ve only done what you feel you should.”
“I didn’t know if it was right or wrong…” Shan Mei was torn.
“I don’t have any answer for you….” Xiang Zhe shook his head.
“I asked Grandma if I should help your father do what he wanted, but she didn’t have an answer for me either.  All she did was take me to your mother’s art studio and let me look at her work…. That afternoon, I sat there looking at her work in chronological order and was surprised to discover that, except for the first few years, her works were mostly bright and gentle.  I felt that she had forgiven your father so I decided to do what I did.
 
Xiang Zhe looked at her steadily for a moment, then said, “You’re my mother’s messenger.”
She looked at him in puzzlement.
“Before she died, my mother told me: if my father ever wanted to see me, I should let him know that she had never hated him.  She had left him because she did not want him to live in pain…. Her only regret was that I had grown up without my father.” There were tear’s in Xiang Zhe’s eyes.
Shan Mei cried.
“Don’t cry.” He patted her gently.
“Did you tell your father what your mother said to you?” She asked.
Xiang Zhe shook his head, “I couldn’t bring myself to say it.”
“Do you still….hate him?”
“When I was sitting across from him, looking at his aged features, listening to his apologetic words, I discovered…..I actually hate him a lot less than I thought I did…..Time does truly heal everything…..I suddenly realized that the pain and suffering he went through was no less than what my mother went through…..My mother left his world with peace in her heart, but he has been living the past ten years with guilt in his….I just couldn’t hate him the way I had been, and it gave me an unwelcome shock.”
Shan Mei looked at Xiang Zhe through her tears, “Can you really forgive your father?”
She really hoped that the painful wound that he hid in his heart would now be able to heal itself.
“I’ll try….even my mother has forgiven him….”
“Both you and your mother are forgiving people.” Shan Mei hugged Xiang Zhe tightly.
“My mother is, but I’m not.” Xiang Zhe smiled.
It was the first time Xiang Zhe had smiled that night.  Shan Mei was relieved.
 
“Does this mean you’re still mad at me?” Shan Mei asked with a pout.
“Of course!” Xiang Zhe made a face.
“Aye!  Why don’t you just yell at me and get it over with….” Shan Mei looked like a student awaiting punishment from the teacher.
“You know you’re in for it, don’t you?”
“I can’t eat until you’ve finished yelling at me, and I’m about to die of hunger…” Shn Mei held her stomach.
Xiang Zhe couldn’t help laughing, “Didn’t you say you had already eaten?”
“I didn’t dare to say I was hungry when you were looking like that….”  Shan Mei teased, “I bet you made this seafood hotpot because you feel sorry for me, and I’m so touched!”
“If not for the fact that you’re still recuperating from the operation, I would not have bothered!”
Shan Mei happily buried her face in Xiang Zhe’s chest, “I know you love me!”
“Stop fooling around and eat up.  After you’re done, I’ve still want to get even with you.”
“In that case, I’m not eating.”
“You’ve got me eating out of your hand, haven’t you?”
“That’s absolutely right!” Shan Mei laughed.
 
“Yin Xiang Zhe, one must always be true to oneself, must one?” she asked.
“I guess so!” Xiang Zhe nodded, “Because that means you have to put down your dignity, your stubbornness and fight with your own nature.”
He looked at her, “but when you actually do it, your heart settles itself…. Just like today.  Thank you, Shan Mei.  If you didn’t push me to do it, I would have not been able to do it on my own.”
 
Shan Mei was delighted because she knew that the man she loved was a generous and honourable man.
 
****** End of Chapter 26 ******

 

 

Chapter 27

 

Written By Jennifer

Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
 
Translated by nho(CA)

 
Shan Mei bumped into Song Shuo Mao again in the restaurant.
 
“You also patronize this restaurant …”  Song Shuo Mao came to Shan Mei’s table, looking pleasantly surprise.  
 
“What a coincidence!”  Shan Mei smiled.
 
She could not remember how many times she ran into Shuo Mao this month.  Since she took over Gimhae’s case, Shuo Mao often showed up in her office.  He came over to talk business with her.  Sometime when it was obvious that a phone discussion would suffice, he would still come over in person.  Even when she had lunch at noon, she would often run into him in the restaurant.  Because the number of occurrence was too frequent, she could not help entertain doubt that it was not sheer coincidence.  She asked Shuo Mao why he had to go such a long way to have lunch in a restaurant which was miles away.  He told her the food in this restaurant tasted better.  Shan Mei whispered silently that although she told him she could be friends with him again, it did not mean that he could interfere with her life without her permission.  
 
“I just arrived in the neighbourhood and some friend told me that the atmosphere in this restaurant is pretty good, so I came over to take a look … Do you come here often?”  Shuo Mao pulled out the chair while he was talking.
 
“Sometimes.”
 
The atmosphere was very good and she and Xiang Zhe often arranged to meet here.
 
“I’m sorry, you can’t sit here …”  Shan Mei stopped Shuo Mao from sitting down.
 
“Why?”  Shuo Mao asked with a frolicsome expression.  
 
“I’m meeting a friend.”
 
“Really?”  Shuo Mao jokingly asked:  “Don’t tell me it happens to be your boyfriend?”
 
“Right, it’s my boyfriend.  I think he won’t be happy to see you here …”  Shan Mei candidly said.
 
Shou Mao chatted a little while with Shan Mei and then left.  Shan Mei did not know whether she was too sensitive herself, somehow she felt Shuo Mao was looking strange.  However, she really did not want to pay Shuo Mao any attention.  Before she finished work for the day, Jiang Zhan Ting gave her instructions to work on a case at the last minute and asked her to prepare a report by Tuesday.  She would not be able to take a restful weekend free of worries.
 
When Xiang Zhe arrived at the restaurant, Shan Mei was reading some business papers in concentration.
 
“So diligent …”  Xiang Zhe intimately squeezed Shan Mei’s shoulders.
 
“You’re here!”  Shan Mei closed the file of documents.  Xiang Zhe did not like her to think of business during their dates.  Xiang Zhe said that when they dated, she was not allowed to think of other matters except him; Xiang Zhe said when you were in love you had to be absorbed in it.  He was very domineering, but she did not mind one bit.  Actually Xiang Zhe did not have to worry, when she was with him, in her eyes, in her heart, she could no longer accommodate other people or other matters except him.
 
“You are taking your work home again?”  Xiang Zhe frowned.
 
“When you have to make a living, you have to act involuntarily …”  Shan Mei borrowed the words Xiang Zhe often uttered.
 
“Please put them here first …”  Xiang Zhe took that thick file of documents and placed them into his own brief case.
 
“So many!  How many hours are you prepared to use in a day? … Please remember to get them back from me later… or else I will charge you a fee for keeping them overnight …”
 
“Yin Xiang Zhe, I have to punish you.”  After finishing the meal, Shan Mei said to Xiang Zhe.
 
“What for?”  Xiang Zhe grinned.
 
“You are keeping something from me … Hurry up and tell.”
 
“You really are a terrible woman, I just can’t conceal anything from you.”  Xiang Zhe smilingly shook his head.
 
Shan Mei pouted, “It’s not me who is terrible, it’s something clearly written on your face that reads “I have something on my mind” …”
 
“Is it so obvious?”
 
“Hmm …”  Shan Mei nodded, “Is it something that happened in the office?”  Shan Mei asked with a face filled with concern.  
 
“No, it’s nothing to do with the office …”  Xiang Zhe hesitated.
 
“Exactly what went wrong?”  Shan Mei worriedly looked at Xiang Zhe.  There was something that was perplexing him.
 
“Well … Yin Wen Jun phoned me today …”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“Yin Wen Jun?  Who is Yin Wen Jun?”
 
“My half-brother.”
 
Shan Mei stared at him with eyes wide open and waited for Xiang Zhe to continue.
 
“He phoned me, to let me know the day after tomorrow is Father’s birthday.  He asked whether I can go home to have dinner …”
 
“Oh!”  Shan Mei nodded.
 
Xiang Zhe waited for a long time, not getting a response from Shan Mei and could not control himself and said:  “Don’t you have anything to say?”
 
“I can’t make the decision for you …”
 
“Do you think I should go?”
 
“Do you want to go?”  She did not give him a positive answer.
 
Xiang Zhe lowered his head to think and said: “If … I want to invite you to come with me … Will you?”
 
“Erh …”  Shan Mei hesitated.  Xiang Zhe was thinking of going home and she could not be more pleased, but if she were to go with him so flauntingly without an invitation, how extremely embarrassed it would be!  What would Xiang Zhe’s father and brother think?
 
“It doesn’t seem to be too proper …”  Shan Mei looked reluctant.
 
“You are friendly with him …”  Xiang Zhe looked at Shan Mei and murmured:  “What I mean is … if you can come with me, the atmosphere won’t be too awkward …”
 
Shan Mei saw the look of expectation on Xiang Zhe’s face and her resolution weakened.
 
Let it be, let them tease them if they wanted!  Xiang Zhe’s mother instructed Xiang Zhe before she died that if he saw Yin Zheng Hao again, Xiang Zhe had to let Yin Zheng Hao know that she had already forgiven him.  She must have wished that Xiang Zhe and his father’s rift would be healed.  She wanted to do her best for Xiang Zhe and also for Xiang Zhe’s mother.  
 
“I am friendly with him?  Who said that?  I have never met Yin Wen Jun before …”  Shan Mei tried to make a joke on Xiang Zhe.
 
Xiang Zhe said sulkily: “You know full well that I didn’t mean Yin Wen Jun …”
 
“I’m afraid that you will misunderstand …”  Shan Mei pouted her lips.
 
“Misunderstand what?”
 
“Misunderstand that I know your brother …”
 
“What do you mean?”  
 
“You forgot that Uncle Yin has once wanted to introduce your brother to me?”
 
“Right!”  Xiang Zhe said with his mouth lifted at the corners:  “You said you were going to meet with him and it unsettled me so much that I played the basketball game out of condition that day and was severely berated by my friends.  It wasn’t until you came that the burden in my heart could then be let down.”  That night he bared his heart to Shan Mei.
 
Shan Mei pouted:  “Then why did you keep on urging me to go to that meeting … You also said something about it was not bad to get to know more people …”
 
“As a matter of fact, I intended to find an opportunity to tell you that night …”
 
“Then why didn’t you do anything?”
 
“I was afraid to frighten and drive you away?”
 
“What?”
 
“I discovered that you were not in the picture … You must have forgotten … You also acted presumptuously and made an erroneous suggestion that I should invite the girl I liked to go to the basketball game with me
 
Shan Mei covered her mouth and smiled.  At that time she had never imagined that she was the girl described by Xiang Zhe.
 
“If I did tell you that night, would you have been shocked and run away from me?”
 
Shan Mei puckered in smile, but refused to answer.
 
“Would you?”  Xiang Zhe continued to press for an answer.
 
“Hmm …”  Shan Mei craftily said:  “I won’t answer any question that is hypothetical.”
 
Every time when similar situation arose, he could never not get the better of her.
 
“Are you … willing to come with me?”  Xiang Zhe asked.
 
Shan Mei rested her cheeks in her hands, stared at Xiang Zhe mischievously for a long while and grinningly said:  “So the usually forbidding looking Mr. Chairman Yin Xiang Zhe unexpectedly has such thin skin!”
 
Xiang Zhe scratched his head and smiled, looking embarrassed.
 
“Do you think two thin-skinned persons going together would make the atmosphere more awkward?”  Shan Mei asked.
 
Xiang Zhe was thrilled, because Shan Mei agreed to go with him
 
After dinner, the two of them went to see a late movie.  Before Xiang Zhe did not like to watch movie, but because Shan Mei loved it, he too had developed an interest in watching movies.  At first when Shan Mei was aware that Xiang Zhe did not like watching movie, she asked Xiang Zhe in surprise:  “Since you do not like watching movie, why did you invite me to a movie then?”  He invited her to a movie that day when she helped him review a contract.
 
Xiang Zhe said:  “I too didn’t understand … When I watched your back at that time, there arose in my heart a sudden feeling of not wanting you to go, I think perhaps at that time I already subconsciously thought of pursuing you!”  
 
“You are uttering nonsense!”  Shan Mei dimpled in smiles.
 
“It’s true! … Since knowing you, I have done plenty of things which I have never done before …”
 
“Say for example?”  Shan Mei smiled so sweetly.
 
“For example …”  Xiang Zhe’s mouth lifted at the corners and said:  “The first time to openly invite a girl to come to look around my office; to loiter in the office building lobby waiting for an adorable girl feigning a “coincident meeting”; run to her residence to stand waiting outside the door until she switched off the light to go to bed and then reluctantly left; because of the longing for her that made me go all the way to London …; and also …”  Xiang Zhe paused.
 
“And also?”
 
“Also … every day writing  on a cell phone which is less than the size of one’s palm, short love messages to her …”
 
“Wow!  So much hardship for you …”  Shan Mei naughtily patted Xiang Zhe’s shoulder.
 
 
That night, they watched “The Butterfly Effect”.  Shan Mei was nearly in tears at the end of the movie.
 
In the movie the male lead suffered temporary memory loss.  Some crucial moment of his childish life seemed to have disappeared into a black hole of forgetting and his memory was filled with uncomprehending blurred shadow.  Until accidentally he discovered a way of travelling back to the past through one of his childhood journal and he could again occupy his childhood body.  The male lead decided to take the opportunity to go back to the past to try to rectify the past error, trying to spare his childhood friends the need to face damaged lives.  However, he discovered that every time he went back to the past to make changes, it would always cause negative results on his present life, affecting himself, his childhood sweetheart, and all his close friends, causing unforeseeable influence and initiating more unpredictable chain-reaction and the worst was that every time someone had to suffer as a consequence.  The male character again and again went back to the past for his girlfriend, for his two friends, attempting to fix up past events, but every time he was causing more uncontrollable tragedies.  
 
The chain of fate tied the male and female leads, the female lead’s brother and their mutual friend tightly together.  The male lead discovered that when he himself and his childhood sweetheart were living a happy life, at the same time his two good friends, one was sent into a mental hospital and the other became a bastard who made one's hair stand up in great anger.  So the male lead travelled to the past trying to change the source which caused his friends’ misfortune.  He saved his friends’ fate, but discovered that his beloved girlfriend became a prostitute following a chain of causes and effects as a consequence.  The heartbroken boyfriend went back to the past again to try to make amend.  Indeed as expected, he could change the female lead’s fate, but discovered that it was traded by the price of his own disability and his mother’s death.  What made it difficult for him to accept was that the female lead and his good friend became a couple …  After several trials and setbacks, no matter how hard he tried, he was unable to get a satisfactory ending for everyone.
 
Finally when the male lead realized the rules of the game of fate, he made a heart-wrenching decision.  He decided to return to the past again, returned to the point in time when he and his childhood sweetheart first met each other.  He betrayed his own real feeling and uttered evil and cruel words to the girl who showed him tender feeling.  The female lead got frightened and ran away.  This way, the male lead destroyed the link of fate between him and the female lead, and severed the originally predestined fate of the heart-wrenching love he was to share with the female lead.  From then on, they were strangers to each other; he did not have any more ties with her and he cut off the source of all tragedies that would be taking place in the future.  The male lead chose to forsake love before the seed of love had a chance to sprout up.  In the final scene of the movie, many years later, the female lead brushed past the male lead on the street as if they were strangers to each other …
 
Shan Mei sighed sad and said:  “It’s really very regrettable …”
 
“Apart from a little regret about love, I think it is the best ending for everyone concerned in the movie.”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“If it were you, would you choose to sacrifice love?”  She asked him.
 
Xiang Zhe pondered for a little while, nodded and said:  “I think I will make the same choice.  I would rather be the one to suffer and wish my beloved happiness.”
 
Shan Mei gazed at Xiang Zhe, visibly moved.  Both he and his mother knew how to love.  They would rather suffer themselves in order to make way for other people’s happiness.
 
Shan Mei thought of Xiang Zhe’s father.  Apparently he did not obtain happiness even though Xiang Zhe mother gave up in retreat …  If, if the other party was given the choice, maybe he would rather choose the raging flame of passion and sacrifice his life in order to stay with his beloved together …  Shan Mei thought of the fate chosen by Romeo and Juliet.  The withdrawing party wholeheartedly wanted to help the other party to achieve happiness, but could the other party be able to do so?  Shan Mei asked herself in her heart.
 
“It’s not easy to drop out.”  Shan Mei said.
 
Xiang Zhe nodded:  “Dropping out is indeed not easy, but sometimes it is something that needs to be done …  Love should not be possessive, and it should mean wishing your beloved happiness.  What do you think?”  Xiang Zhe smilingly asked Shan Mei.
 
Shan Mei looked at the pertinacity in Xiang Zhe’s eyes and there arose from her heart a feeling of unease.  Would Xiang Zhe one day make a similar decision arising out of some persistent reason or belief?  When she thought of this she involuntarily gripped Xiang Zhe’s arm.
 
“What’s up?”  Xiang Zhe was aware of Shan Mei’s nervousness.
 
“Nothing …”  Shan Mei shook her head.  She was too foolish and Xiang Zhe would tease her.
 
“Are you feeling unwell?”  Xiang Zhe turned her around and looked straight into her face.  Shan Mei’s face looked a little pale.
 
“No …”  Shan Mei bent her head to avoid Xiang Zhe’s gaze.
 
“There is obviously something on your mind and I want you to tell me …”  He looked at her closely.
 
Shan Mei bit on her lip, raised her head to look at Xiang Zhe, “You are not allowed to let go of my hand.”  She solemnly said.
 
Xiang Zhe was stunned; he could not make out what Shan Mei meant.
 
“If you are not by my side, how can I be happy?”  She looked at him and her eyes were shining with tears.
 
Xiang Zhe then realized, “I guarantee that would never happen.”  He tenderly caressed Shan Mei’s back.
 
“Really?”
 
“Absolutely.”
 
Shan Mei then smiled.
 
“Silly goose!”
 
Xiang Zhe pulled Shan Mei into his arms.  He could never understand why so many strange ideas could be emitted from her little brain.
 
When she got home, Shan Mei checked her cell phone and found she had one voicemail message.  It was from Song Shuo Mao.  She gave her cell phone number to Shuo Mao because of the need to make work-related contact.
 
“Shan Mei …, I’m so jealous.  I’m jealous of the man by your side …”  Shuo Mao’s voice sounded a little bit tipsy.  
 
Shan Mei frowned.  Shuo Mao must be insane!  Was he drunk?
 
“Shan Mei, I regret so much.  I shouldn’t split up with you.  I’m not a bit happy … Oh Shan Mei … I miss you so much …”
 
What was he babbling about?  Shan Mei shut the cell phone, her heart pounding rapidly.
 
Shan Mei was both angry and astonished by Shuo Mao’s declaration.  She was not angry that after such a long period of time he had to come back to utter that speech to her.  What had happened between them was now history.  His explanation and apologies were both unnecessary and meaningless; she was angry because Shuo Mao could actually utter something which betrayed his own conscience and was totally unfair to others.  She could still remember that evening long time ago that he told her that he had met a girl who could truly stir his inner feeling and he could not hide the joy from his face.  It was that expression that made her decide to make way for him.  She endured the grief and gave him the blessings before she left.  She thought from then on he could know where his heart tied and he would know how to treasure other people’s feeling.  In truth, he was still indecisive about where his true feeling lay.  He was really hateful!
 
She could now see that it was not sheer coincidence that Shuo Mao frequently made his appearance recently.  Everything was pre-arranged by him.  At first she was ashamed that she measured him by her own petty standard.  As a matter of act, her instinct was not wrong … unexpectedly she could be so stupid as not to be suspicious of his motive and agreed to become friend with him again.  Zhen Shan Mei, what an big idiot you were!  All of a sudden, several incidences were brought to mind.  Heaven! He ought not have deliberately make arrangement for her to take on the Gimhae case from the start and later took responsibility in preparing the Gimhae legal contracts!  Shan Mei thought it was extremely likely on further thoughts.
 
“Aiyoo, how can it be like this!”  Shan Mei patted her own head with irritation.
 
The cell phone rang and it was from Song Shuo Mao.
 
Without waiting for Shuo Mao to start speaking, Shan Mei fired off the receiver:  “Song Shuo Mao, haven’t you created enough havocs!”  She abruptly terminated the call after venting off her displeasure.
 
Five seconds later, the cell phone rang again.  Shan Mei determined to let it ring and did not respond.  Shuo Mao called again a second time, then a third time which made Shan Mei very restless.  She thought that even if she turned off her cell phone, she would not be able to have the peace of mind to do some work tonight.
 
Shan Mei sighed and picked up the phone when Shuo Mao called the fourth time.
 
“Don’t hang up on me … Shan Mei … I beg you …”  It seemed Shuo Mao had drunk a lot of alcohol.
 
“Please say your nonsense once for all and afterwards, please never call me again …”  Shan Mei angrily said.
 
“Shan Mei … I still love you …”
 
“You are drunk …”  Shan Mei interrupted Song Shuo Mao’s words.
 
“I am speaking the truth after the liquor … I have buried these words in my heart for a long time and I didn’t have enough courage to utter them … until tonight when I saw you were with that man and I thought if I did not tell you, I was afraid I would never have the chance again …”
 
“No matter whether I have another person at my side, it would be impossible between you and me.”  Shan Mei said.
 
“But I can’t forget you …”
 
“…”  Shan Mei remained silent for a long time and said:  “You told me, you have met a girl who could truly stir your inner feeling …”
 
“I was trying to deceive myself and others … You too know that my father is just a civil servant and I desperately wanted a rapid career advance.  After I joined Gimhae, I discovered that Shen Ai was attracted to me.  I thought … if I married Shen Ai, I needed not struggle for so many years.  A few of my friends also behave in the same way.  They said that marriage could be half career and half love … I thought I could be like that myself …”
 
“You should continue to hold firmly to your belief …”  Shan Mei could not help being sarcastic.  She never thought that he was this kind of people.
 
“Before I ran into you again, I really thought in this way … And I also lived with an easy conscience, but since that time when I saw you again in your firm’s annual reception, I was confused.  Your smile, your everything, all came back into my memory.  I discovered that I was actually still in love with you … So, I tried and used every means to get close to you … I requested Jiang Zhan Ting to let you handle Gimhae’s file, I looked for opportunities to look you up.  It seems as though I am completely bewitched …”
 
Shan Mei did not want to listen any further, “That’s enough, Shuo Mao …”
 
“Shan Mei … Please give me a chance, can you?”
 
“I have already told  you, that is absolute impossible.  Please cherish the one you have at present!  Shuo Mao …”
 
“I can’t stand her high-handed temperament … Tonight …”
 
“No one is perfect.”  Shan Mei stopped Shuo Mao from carrying on.  She did not want to know what unhappy incidence that had happened between Shuo Mao and Lee Shen Ai.  “As you mentioned, you chose to be with her, apart from your so-called reasons, there must be some kind of personal affection involved!” Shan Mei said.
 
“Shan Mei …”
 
“Go home early!  Shuo Mao …  Also, … I will pretend that I have never heard what you have just told me and from now on, please don’t ever mention it again if you still want to stay friends with me …”
 
“Shan Mei …”
 
Shan Mei hung up in the midst of Shuo Mao’s protest.
 
 
After a long while, Shuo Mao did not call again and just as Shan Mei thought everything was alright, her cell phone rang again.  This time it was from a strange number and a strange female voice spoke.
 
“I’m sorry, Miss … Your friend is drunk.  Can I trouble you to come over to pick him up, as we are closing soon …”
 
“What?”
 
“It’s a Mr. Song, Mr. Song Shuo Mao.  Do you know him?  You too have just spoken on the phone.  I find your number on his cell phone.  He has just made several calls to you … Is he your boyfriend?”
 
“Just call a cab and let him go home himself!”  Shan Mei said.
 
“I hope I can do it this way, but he is too drunk, can’t walk steadily and can’t even talk clearly … Miss, please be good to come over to take him away!  He is crying and screaming here and make others feel very uncomfortable …  If it’s just a lovers’ tiff, please don’t be too hard on him …”
 
 
When Xiang Zhe went home, he discovered Shan Mei’s file of papers was still in his brief case.
 
This Muddle-headed Miss was only concerned about sympathizing with the characters in the movie and completely forgot about her belongings!  Xiang Zhe did not stop to think but just drove to Shan Mei’s home.  This evening she took advantage of some free time to read this file in the restaurant before he arrived, it must be an urgent case and according to Shan Mei’s temperament, she would certainly burn the midnight oil to do her homework.  If he did not deliver the file back to her, most probably she would just ride her bike over to pick it up.
 
Xiang Zhe drove to the front of Shan Mei’s door.  He was startled by the scene before him.  He saw Shan Mei hurriedly jumped into a cab.
 
Where was she going when it was so late into the night?  Xiang Zhe could not help worrying and follow her in his car …
 
Xiang Zhe followed behind Shan Mei and came to one of the pubs in Rodeo Street in Apgujeong.  Originally he wanted to follow her in, but he controlled the urge.  He was not sure about the actual circumstances and if he rushed in restlessly, Shan Mei would not be pleased.
 
A few minutes later, he saw Shan Mei totteringly supporting a man out from the pub.  That man’s body was nearly hanging all over Shan Mei.  Xiang Zhe involuntarily was in a towering rage and he got off the car.  He was about to go up when suddenly he heard that man started calling “Shan Mei, Shan Mei”.  Xiang Zhe was getting suspicious, what was the relationship between that man and Shan Mei, why did he addressed Shan Mei so intimately?  And why did Shan Mei come to look for him so late in the night?  He was still pondering in his heart when he heard that man cried out deliriously:  “You still love me … Right? … Shan Mei …  Do you?  Or else why are you willing to come over?”  It seemed like Xiang Zhe’s head had been hit with a stick and it was now roaring with a booming noise.  He was rooted in the same spot, looking at them.
 
“Song Shuo Mao, you are drunk …”  Shan Mei released her hands and that man staggered and fell sitting on the ground.
 
Song Shuo Mao!  That man was Song Shuo Mao!  Xiang Zhe fixed his eyes on him and indeed recognized him to be the young man who was with Shan Mei in the lobby the other day.
 
“Shan Mei … Shan Mei …”  Song Shuo Mao continued to mumble Shan Mei’s name.
 
“Song Shuo Mao, you stand up!”  Shan Mei angrily said.
 
“OK … I will listen to you … so long if you will accept me again, I will do anything you say …”
 
In the silence of the night, Song Shuo Mao’s declaration clearly drifted into Xiang Zhe’s ears.  Xiang Zhe could somehow guess correctly the relationship between Shan Mei and Song Shuo Mao.
 
Song Shuo Mao tried hard to stand up, but he was too drunk to stand.  Shan Mei was helpless, so she bent down to lend him a hand.
 
“Let me do it!”  Xiang Zhe jumped out.  He did not want Song Shuo Mao to touch Shan Mei again.
 
Xiang Zhe’s sudden appearance startled Shan Mei.  
 
“Xiang Zhe …”  Shan Mei looked at Xiang Zhe dumbfounded.
 
Xiang Zhe assisted Song Shuo Mao to get up without saying a word.  He helped him into the car, started the engine and drove into the thickness of night.
 
Song Shuo Mao fell into sleep shortly thereafter.  Xiang Zhe did not utter a word all the time.  He was driving around in circle.  
 
Xiang Zhe’s steely expression frightened Shan Mei.  She had never seen him like this before.
 
“Xiang Zhe …”  Shan Mei braced herself and broke the silence.
 
“Who’s he?”  Xiang Zhe interrogated Shan Mei even though he already knew the answer.
 
“He … he was my former boyfriend.”  Shan Mei concealed nothing whatsoever.
 
“Why did you have to go to the pub?”  Xiang Zhe coldly asked.
 
“He is drunk … They wanted me to take him away … I …”  Shan Mei murmured.
 
Xiang Zhe interrupted Shan Mei and angrily asked:  “Is there no other person to help him?  Does he have no relative, no other friends who can help him?”
 
Shan Mei swallowed and said stutteringly:  “I … I don’t know his relative’s numbers and I don’t know his other friends’ numbers …”  It was the first time she witnessed Xiang Zhe getting into such thundering rage.
 
She phoned Gimhae and wanted to asked for Lee Shen Ai’s number, but the people on duty refused to let her have it.
 
“Even that should not make you, his former girlfriend, to stand up and volunteer to help?”  Xiang Zhe panted in indignation.
 
“…”  Shan Mei could not find a word to respond.  She should be hard-hearted and left him in the pub.
 
“Don’t you know that a drunken man can be very … dangerous?”
 
“He … should not be that kind of person.”  Shan Mei faintly said.
 
“You really know him well …”  Xiang Zhe said with a jealous rage.
 
“I …”  Shan Mei looked at Xiang Zhe filled with grievance.  He was now in the fit of temper and she would let him have his way.
 
“Where do you plan to send him?  Do you know where he lives?”  Xiang Zhe asked her coldly.
 
Shan Mei was dumbfounded and replied:  “I don’t know.  I haven’t thought that far …”
 
“You shouldn’t have planned to take him home?”  As soon as these words were out, Xiang Zhe immediately regretted his lack of tact.  Jealousy and anger made him loss his reason.
 
“Yin Xiang Zhe …”  Shan Mei angrily looked at Xiang Zhe.
 
“…”  Xiang Zhe opened his mouth.  He knew he had gone too far, he was really driven mad with anger by her.
 
“Yes, you are right, I’m brainless, I am an absolute idiot …”  Shan Mei said in a fit of pique.  Xiang Zhe’s words had broken her heart.  He should not have talked to her in that way no matter how angry he became.  Shan Mei felt so bad that she did not want to say anything further, she just turned her head looking out of the window, with tears in her eyes.
 
Xiang Zhe drove to Shan Mei’s place, “You better go home first!  I will try to find a place to settle him.”  Xiang Zhe had calmed down.
 
“Do what you like.”  Shan Mei coldly replied.
 
Xiang Zhe wanted to apologize, but seeing the cold indifference on Shan Mei’s face, he swallowed the words he was about to utter.
 
“Actually, you could have called me.”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“Really?”  She gave him a look, “What should I tell you?  Should I tell you that my former boyfriend had gone dead drunk in a pub, could you go and pick him up?  If it were you, could you utter those words?”
 
Xiang Zhe was speechless.
 
Shan Mei ran into the house with hands covering her face.  She really hated Song Shuo Mao.  She quarrelled with Xiang Zhe all because of him.
 
 
- End of Chapter 27 –

 

 

Chapter 28

 

By Jennifer
Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
Translated by Jules
 
The telephone remained silent the whole morning.  Shan Mei guessed that Xiang Zhe was probably still angry at her for what happened the night before
 
Last night, she had been so incensed by the nonsense that Xiang Zhe was spouting, the two of them parted in anger.  After thinking about it all night, her temper had finally calmed.  He had been angry with her for being so foolish, for going out to help Song Shuo Mao in the middle of the night.  That, she could understand.  If the tables were turned, she admitted she would probably have reacted the same way.  However, no matter how much she tried to rationalize it, she could not find the courage to be the first to apologize.
 
Before she knew it, the day was over, and she was still pondering the issue.  Shan Mei had picked up the phone several times, then put it down again, and then picked it up…No matter how she tried, her ego would not let her dial that familiar number.  She had already admitted to him that she had been a complete fool to have done what she did.  What else did he want from her?  Couldn’t he even try to understand her point of view?  Didn’t he know she had also been completely torn when making that decision?  These thoughts made her angry at Xiang Zhe again.  Did he also say a lot of things he should not have?  Shouldn’t he also be feeling apologetic for saying those things to her?  She just could not forgive him unconditionally this time.
 
After spending the day in torment, waiting for the silent phone to ring, Shan Mei decided that Xiang Zhe probably did not want her company when he visited his father the next day.
 
Shan Mei was in the kitchen making noodles when the telephone rang.  She was really hungry after having not eaten all day.  She rushed out only to find that it was Zhao Huan Hui on the line.
“Is that you, Huan Hui?” Shan Mei asked, disappointed.
“Is that you, Huan Hui…” Huan Hui imitated her, “Hey…. You seem extremely disappointed to hear my voice…. Are you waiting for your Mr Yin Xiang Zhe’s call?”
“Of course not!” Shan Mei said listlessly.
“Hey, why isn’t you mobile phone on?”
“Oh….I forgot.”
Song Shuo Mao rang her the first thing that morning, and Shan Mei turned off her phone when she saw the call was from him.
“What’s up?” Shan Mei asked.
“I’m shopping at Damundemun, and all the departmental stores have just started their discounts.  There is a really good selection still available.  Why don’t you come and join me?”
Huan Hui was getting married in Autumn, and would go shopping for her trousseau whenever she had the time.
“Alright.” Shan Mei agreed.  It was probably better to be out and about rather than moping around at home.
 
Shan Mei went along with Huan Hui and shopped for over two hours.   Huan Hui managed to pick up quite a few nice pieces.
“Aye, aren’t you even interested?” Huan Hui asked Shan Mei, “Didn’t you have your eye on this suit the last time we were here?”
“Yes I did!  I forgot…”
Huan Hui looked at Shan Mei and wheedled, “Just look at you, all distracted….. Let me tell you about the effectiveness of retail therapy…. If you’re feeing down, all you have to do and go out and spend some serious money on yourself….”
“Who says I’m feeling down?”
“Who are you trying to kid?  It’s written all over your face!  How long have we been friends?  You expect me not to notice?”
“Is it really that obvious?” Shan Mei asked, despondent.
“Did you and Yin Xiang Zhe have a tiff?”
Shan Mei nodded.
“You must have been the one who started it.”
“Why do you think it must have been me?” Shan Mei was not happy.
“He’s always been the one who gives in…”
Shan Mei sighed, “I’ve really done it this time.”
“Wah!  What earth-shattering thing did you do?” Huan Hui glared at Shan Mei.
Shan Mei told Huan Hui all about what had happened.
“You’re really something!  Why on earth did you bother with that scumbag Song Shuo Mao?  No wonder Yin Xiang Zhe lost his temper…”
“Don’t you start!  I’ve already been torturing myself over this all day…”
“What is Yin Xiang Zhe’s phone number?”
“What are you trying to do?”
“I’m going to be the reconciliatory….. you just sweet-talk him a little and I guarantee you it will all blow over within half an hour, and he will be flying out here to be by your side….”
“I won’t do it…” Shan Mei pouted.
“Why?”
“I already apologized to him last night…”
Huan Hui laughed, “What sort of an apology was that?  You were still completely angry and upset!”
“It was his fault for saying those hurtful things.”
“Alright then, have it your way.” Huan Hui knew Shan Mei well.
“Huan Hui…”
“Now what?”
“Do you really think I should not have gone to help Song Shuo Mao?  After all, we’re still friends…..”
“I didn’t say it was wrong to help your friends.  It’s just the target of the help was the wrong one, the timing wasn’t right, and the way you did it was not ideal….. You’re just too soft hearted and naïve.  If it was me, I would not have done it.”
Shan Mei sighed.  Even her best friend thought it was wrong of her.  The more she thought about it, the angrier she was at herself.
 
“Alright, since you intend to wait for him to apologize, don’t just sit there and mope.  Let’s go buy some nice dresses.  I see some just over there….” Huan Hui dragged Shan Mei off.
 
It was almost eight by the time they left the departmental store.  Huan Hui hailed a taxi.
“Let’s share it.” Huan Hui said.
“We’re going in different directions.  I’ll just take the subway.”
“Aye!  Why don’t you give Xiang Zhe a call?  It will save you one more sleepless night.”
“You just worry about your Zhang Xue Ren!” Shan Mei waved Huan Hui off.
 
Shan Mei walked a little way down the road, then turned around and went back to the departmental store.
 
That night, Shan Mei tossed and turned all through the night.
It was then she realized that Xiang Zhe could be just as stubborn as she was, when the occasion suited him.  As she was making her way home, she still held that tiny bit of hope that he would ring, and was sorely disappointed when she found no messages in her voicemail.  Didn’t he know that she would be waiting for his call?  She was perplexed.
 
At 9am the next morning, Shan Mei picked up her phone and dialed Xiang Zhe’s number.
“It’s me.” She used her coldest voice so he would not assume that she was going to apologize.  He hadn’t even bothered to ring her!
“Come over later.” She told him.
“What?”
Shan Mei had hung up the phone even before Xiang Zhe could figure out what she meant.
 
Xiang Zhe arrived at ten thirty.
He was distressed to see her looking so fragile.  She must have suffered sleepless nights, just as he had.  He had tried to call her twice the day before, but her phone had been turned off.  He assumed it was because she had still been upset with him and did not want to take his calls.  Because he was still upset over the incident with Song Shuo Mao and was not in a mood to be rejected again, he did not try to call her another time.  Unexpectedly, she had rung him instead.
 
Shan Mei didn’t say a word, and put a bag in Xiang Zhe’s hand.
“What is this?”
“Uncle Yin’s birthday present.”
Last night, she had gone back to the departmental store to get a gift for him.
Xiang Zhe was stunned.  Judging from her tone of voice, it was unlikely that she would be going with him.
“Aren’t you going any more?” Xiang Zhe asked.  Shan Mei refused to look at him.
“Uncle wasn’t expecting me anyway.”  Things were only going to be even more uncomfortable if she went with him while they were still fighting.
“I’ve already told him you were coming.”
“How could be so presumptuous?” Shan Mei asked angrily.
“I only told him after you agreed to go.” Xiang Zhe frowned.
Two nights ago, he had rung his father straight after he got home to tell him.  Who would have expected that they would have fallen out before today?
“I’ll wait for you in the car.” Xiang Zhe spat out the words and walked away.
 
The two of them were silent all the way to Yin Zheng Hao’s home.
Xiang Zhe looked at Shan Mei who was carrying a bottle of wine that had been gift boxed.
“Didn’t you already get a present?”
“That one’s yours, this one’s mine.” Shan Mei said.
“What is it?” Xiang Zhe pointed to the gift that Shan Mei had handed over to him.
“It’s a tracksuit.  Uncle Yin is fond of his morning run, so it should come in useful.”
 
No matter that they were still fighting, she still had his interests at heart.  Xiang Zhe started to feel guilty about losing his temper at her.  He knew she often acted out of the kindness of her heart without thinking of the consequences.  It was only because it had been Song Shuo Mao that he had taken undue offense.
 
“Did you buy this yesterday?” Xiang Zhe’s tone softened.
Xiang Zhe knew he was spouting nonsense.  He had only told her about this two nights ago.  Of course she bought it yesterday.
Shan Mei nodded.
“Why didn’t you ask me to come with you?”
Shan Mei looked at Xiang Zhe wryly and said evenly, “You didn’t ring me.”
“I…”
Xiang Zhe was interrupted by the opening door.  A young man appeared and smiled and waved them in.
“Welcome..!”
“Brother…” Xiang Zhe nodded at him awkwardly.
“You can still recognize me?” Yin Wen Lun said candidly.
“You’re often featured in the press.”  Yin Wen Lun got along very well with the paparazzi and the press often featured him in their articles.
Yin Wen Lun laughed.
“This must be the Miss Zhen that father often talks about?” Yin Wen Lun looked appraisingly at Shan Mei.
“How do you do?  I’m Zhen Shan Mei.” Shan Mei bowed politely in greeting.
Yin Wen Lun looked about five or six years older than Xiang Zhe and was a size smaller.  He looked very much like his father.
Yin Wen Lun looked at Shan Mei for a while before looking regretful, “What a pity!”
Xiang Zhee looked at him, puzzled.
Yin Wen Lun smiled and said, “If only Miss Zhen had turned up that day, you might have ended up as my girlfriend instead…”
Shan Mei blushed profusely, embarrassed.
“Don’t even think about that…” Xiang Zhe said brusquely.
“Hey brother! Relax!” Yin Wen Lun teased, “I’m actually not such a bad catch, am I, Miss Zhen?”
Xiang Zhe was not pleased that Yin Wen Lun would tease him in such a way in front of Shan Mei, but did not tell him out out of courtesy.
“Wen Lun, stop teasing Miss Zhen…”
Yin Zheng Hao walked out from the house and stopped Yin Wen Lun’s antics.  Yin Wen Lun only looked over at Xiang Zhe and winked.
 
“Happy birthday, Uncle Yin!” Shan Mei presented her gift to him.
“You shouldn’t have..”
Shan Mei saw Xiang Zhe standing to the side and lightly pulled his sleeve.
“Uh.. Umm…happy birthday.” Xiang Zhe said uncomfortably.
In that instant, Shan Mei could see the shadow of tears Yin Zheng Hao’s eyes.
“Good…, very good…” Yin Zheng Hao accepted Xiang Zhe’s gift.  It had been twenty-three years since his younger son had celebrated his birthday with him.
“Shan Mei bought the gift.” Xiang Zhe told him honestly.
Yin Zheng Hao was thankful for Shan Mei.  If not for her, he may not have had the opportunity to even stand next to Xiang Zhe like this.
 
It was the first time Xiang Zhe was sharing a meal with his father after so many years.  Compared with the easy relationship between Yin We Lun and Yin Zheng Hao, it was as if there was a huge mountain sitting between Xiang Zhe and his father.  Shan Mei could see this and felt for Xiang Zhe.  All through the meal, Yin Zhen Hao would serve Shan Mei and Xiang Zhe with food, while Xiang Zhe just sat there silently eating.  It was only when he was questioned directly by his father or brother that he would reply briefly, completely unlike his normal sociable self.  It was only because Yin Wen Lun worked hard at keeping up the conversation that the meal became slightly bearable.
“Is the food not to your taste, Shan Mei?  You’ve eaten very little…” Yin Zheng Hao asked in concern.
Xiang Zhe looked over at Shan Mei’s plate and saw that the food was almost untouched.
Shan Mei was quick to deny it, “No, the cook is wonderful, but I woke up late and just ate my breakfast not long ago.  I’m sorry.”
He knew she had lost her appetite because she was upset.  She could never eat when she was upset.
“That’s alright.  Don’t force yourself then.”
Shan Mei felt very embarrassed.  She did not want to be an ungracious guest, but she just could not make herself eat, even when the table was filled with such delicacies.
 
After the meal, the four of them retired to the lounge for some tea.
“Would you like to have a look around upstairs?” Yin Zheng Hao asked Shan Mei, but looked at Xiang Zhe.
“Would that be inconvenient?” Shan Mei asked.
“Don’t you worry.  My room is downstairs.” Yin Wen Lun laughed.
Xiang Zhe went with Yin Zheng Hao and Shan Mei upstairs.
After looking at the study and the music room, the walked across the corridor to another room.
“This was Xiang Zhe’s room when he was a boy.” Yin Zheng Hao opened the door.
Shan Mei looked over at Xiang Zhe and saw that he was slightly apprehensive.
Shan Mei followed Yin Zheng Hao into the room.  Everything in the room was very old.  An old fashioned cupboard, desk and bed; some yellowed children’s posters were on the wall.
“I’ve kept it the way it was.” Yin Zheng Hao said in a low voice.
Shan Mei turned around and found that Xiang Zhe had already disappeared.
“Uncle Yin…”
“Don’t blame him for this.  I was the one who made that choice.  If only I had known….”
“Uncle Yin, just give Xiang Zhe a bit more time.  A wound that’s festered for over twenty years will not heal overnight.  There’s lots of time ahead of us for all that.  After all, didn’t Xiang Zhe already come to celebrate your birthday with you?”
Yin Zheng Hao nodded gratefully, “Thank you, child.”
“I just don’t want Xiang Zhe to have any regrets.”
 
At 2pm, Xiang Zhe stood up and bid farewell.
Yin Zheng Hao was a little disappointed, but did not try to retain them.  It was as Shan Mei said.  They had many days ahead.
Yin Zheng Hao saw the two of them to the gate.  Shan Mei could see he had something to say, and discreetly made her way ahead.
“Have you and Shan Mei fallen out?” Yin Zheng Hao asked Xiang Zhe.
Xiang Zhe did not reply.
“I can see that she’s not happy today even though she tried hard not to show it.  However, she’s not at all like her normal self.  Please try to accommodate her a little.  She’s really a gem…”
Xiang Zhe nodded.
“After you leave here, take her to eat something.  She hardly had anything at lunch.”
Xiang Zhe looked at Yin Zheng Hao, stunned.  In the mists of his memory, he suddenly realized that his father had often spoken to him in the same gentle way when he was a child… “I will, dad” Xiang Zhe’s reply was almost automatic.  It surprised him that “dad” was not as difficult to say as he thought it was.
Yin Zheng Hao looked at Xiang Zhe moved, and he stretched out his hand to pat Xiang Zhe on the shoulder.  By the time the two of them parted, they had become much closer.
 
The car drove out of the Yin mansion.  Shan Mei kept her gaze out the window.  The car was quiet.
 
Xiang Zhe looked at Shan Mei from the corner of his eye.  Since entering his father’s house, the two of them had hardly exchanged two words and their eyes had not met.  Even Yin Wen Lun had noticed this, and pulled him asideto question whether Shan Mei was really his girlfriend.  Yin Wen Lun jokingly told him that is Shan Mei wasn’t really his girlfriend, he would start chasing after her.
 
“I took your friend to a hotel for the night…” Xiang Zhe finally said.
When she heard him mention Song Shuo Mao, her temper flared again.  Was he deliberately trying to irritate her?
“You could have thrown him into the Han River for all I care.” Shan Mei replied coldly.
Xiang Zhe was lost for words, so he went back to his driving and silence once again settled into the car.
 
Shan Mei’s phone rang.  It was an unknown number.
“Are you the lawyer Miss Zhen Shan Mei from Baker McKenzie?” a strange female voice asked.
“Yes, I’m Zhen Shan Mei….” The caller hung up before she could say anything else.
“Who was it?”
Xiang Zhe jumped at the opportunity to talk, but Shan Mei only shook her head coldly.
 
Just apologize to her!  Xiang Zhe decided he wasn’t going to spend another day like the last two.  The weather was beautiful outside, but lousy in the car.
 
Xiang Zhe pulled up on the side of the road.
 
“Are you still mad at me?” Xiang Zhe asked gently.
“I don’t think I’m the one who’s mad.” Shan Mei kept looking straight ahead.
Xiang Zhe sighed, “I admit I lost my temper.  I completely lost my head…” he looked at her, “No man likes to see the woman he loves in the arms of another man in the middle of the night…”
Xiang Zhe’s eyebrows were knitted into one.
“You know it wasn’t like that…”
“But what I saw that night was a man with his arms around you; what I heard was that man calling your name in a familiar way….if you were me, would you have remained calm?”
Shan Mei looked at him silently.  She could not rebut him.
“I know I probably said too much that day….but I just couldn’t help myself…jealousy and rage combined forces and I lost my mind.  I rang you yesterday to apologize, but your phone was off….”
So he DID ring her.  Shan Mei was consoled.
“Do you know how I spent the last two day?”  Xiang Zhe asked.
“Do you think I was having a good time?  I was mad at myself for helping Song Shuo Mao out and making you angry.  Did you know I sat at home all day yesterday waiting for you to call because I just couldn’t do anything else?” Shan Mei’s eyes reddened.
 
“I’m sorry…” Xiang Zhe apologized gently.  It really didn’t matter who was right and who was wrong, or who was the first to give in and apologize; All he wanted was to see her smile again.
Shan Mei buried her head in Xiang Zhe’s shoulder, tears streaming out of her eyes.  The more Xiang Zhe tried to comfort her, the more the tears flowed.  He really didn’t know what to do.
“When does the lawyer Miss Zhen intend to turn off the tap?” he whispered in her ear.
“Only when it suits me.” Shan Mei sat up and dried her eyes.
“You look terrible.” Xiang Zhe pursued his lips.  Shan Mei’s eyes were red and swollen.
“I didn’t say you could look.” Shan Mei turned around.
“Alright, I won’t look then.” Xiang Zhe teased.  He covered his face with his hands, and Shan Mei laughed.
“Thank goodness!  The lawyer Miss Zhen has finally relented us with a smile.”
He looked at her intently.  All he wanted was to see her smile.
“What are you looking at?  Didn’t you just say I looked terrible…?” Shan Mei protested.
“You always look beautiful to me…”
“You’re so full of it!”
 
“Is that a new suit?” he looked at the pale blue suit she was wearing.
“It’s about time you noticed it!” Shan Mei pouted.
The admiration in Xiang Zhe’s eyes made her very happy.
“When did you buy it?”
“Last night when I went shopping.”
Xiang Zhe’s eyes widened in feigned anger, “So…you say you were waiting for my telephone call at him, but you were actually out shopping….”
“I got tired of waiting and decided to go out for some retail therapy….”
“If you had given me a call, I would have some to pay for all your shopping.”
“Do you mean that I had to first apologize to you?” Shan Mei glared at Xiang Zhe.
“I said nothing of the sort!” Xiang Zhe was quick to deny.
 
The dark clouds had blown over and sunny days were back again.  Xiang Zhe was very happy.
 
“Thank you for helping me get the gift.  My father likes it very much.”
He had originally intended to discuss buying a gift with her the morning before the event, but didn’t expect that she had already got it for him.
“You’re welcome.” Shan Mei smiled sweetly.  She notice that he had referred to Ying Zheng Hao as “my father”.
“Do you women always remember to help your boyfriends buy gifts even when they have fallen out?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“It’s only fools like me who would do stupid things like that.” Shan Mei replied.
“In that case, I’m absolutely besotted by this fool of mine.”
“Don’t you take the opportunity to insult me.” Shan Mei said.
Xiang Zhe’s phone rang.  His face changed when he answered it.
“Are you sure?” Xiang Zhe’s tone was serious, and made Shan Mei worry.
“What is it?” She asked softly.
“Nothing…” Xiang Zhe patted her on the shoulder and left the car to continue the conversation.  She heard snatches of the conversation about him calling a meeting the next day.
“What happened?” Shan Mei asked again when Xiang Zhe returned to the car.
“It’s only a small matter.  It’s all settled now.” Xiang Zhe replied calmly.
“That’s good then.” Shan Mei heaved a sigh of relief.
“What’s the matter?  Are you jealous of my other woman now?” Xiang Zhe reached out and put his arm around her shoulders.
Xiang Zhe always said he had two girlfriends: one was her, the other was his work.
“If one day you had to choose between me and work, which would you choose?” Shan Mei asked.
“Do you think that would ever happen?”
“It’s only hypothetical…”
“Which do you think I would choose?”  he asked her instead.
Shan Mei thought for a while, then said, “I think… you will choose your work.”
“Don’t you have any confidence in yourself?” Xiang Zhe was a little disappointed at Shan Mei’s answer.  Didn’t she know how much she really meant to him?
Shan Mei shook her head, “It’s got nothing to do with self-confidence….it’s a rational conclusion.”
“Huh?”
“You’ve been together much longer than I have, so your relationship must be so much stronger.”
Xiang Zhe had put his heart and soul into his business.
“Very rational indeed…not every man can give up his empire for a beautiful woman.” Xiang Zhe was teasing her.  “Are you angry now?”
“Yes I am.  Very angry indeed.  So angry that I want to kill you…” She put her fingers out like claws.
Xiang Zhe smothered his laughter.  She was so cute when she did that.
“Yin Xiang Zhe….” Shan Mei looked at  Xiang Zhe mischieviously.
“Hmm?”
“Is it possible…..for me to fight back and win?” Shan Mei asked.
“Well…” Xiang Zhe pursued his lips, “I might consider it if you bribe me a little.”
“Bribe you with what?”
“With this..” Xiang Zhe pulled her in by her waist and proceeded to kiss her thoroughly.  Shan Mei was kissed into oblivion.
 
“How come you’rer so compliant today?” He asked with his lips still on hers.
“You’re behaving like a rogue…” Shan Mei blushed as she spoke.  With Xiang Zhe holding her so tightly, there was no room for her to move.
“I thought it was because you like it….” Xiang Zhe smiled like a Cheshire cat.  Shan Mei was unusually “co-operative” today.  Her arms were still tightly wound around his neck.
“Who told you that?”
“You did!”
“What?”
Xiang Zhe smiled and pointed at her arms tightly wound around his neck.  “Don’t you think you’re behaving like a rogue…?”
Shan Mei blushed all the way down to her neck.
 
“Hey, you still haven’t answered my question.” Shan Mei said.
“What question?”
“The one I just asked you.”
“Haven’t you already bribed me back to your side?” Xiang Zhe laughed.
“What are you talking about…?” Shan Mei punched him, “That was a serious question!”
Xiang Zhe stopped smiling and looked into her eyes intently, “Some things cannot be measured just by the length of time ….” He said simply.
He wanted her to know that she was the most important thing in his life, that she was his only choice.
“I understand….’ Shan Mei put her finger on his lips and stopped him from saying any more.
 
There were tears in Shan Mei’s eyes.  She was so touched by his words.  She was satisfied with his answer, even if he had only meant it for that one moment in time.  She knew that his work meant the world to Xiang Zhe, and she never intended that he would need to make that choice.
 
“Come on, let’s go for high tea at the Grand Hyatt.” Xiang Zhe said.
“No, that’s too much!” Shan Mei rejected it.
“Hey, you’re not yourself today.”
Shan Mei was usually the first to jump at the chance of having something nice to eat.
“Are you sure you’re no longer angry at me?”
“I’m not!”
“Then what is it?”
“Everyone will be laughing at me, the way I look right now.” Shan Mei pointed out uncomfortably.  Her eyes were still red and swollen.
Xiang Zhe had a good look at Shan Mei’s face, “Hmm… you’re right.  Someone looking at you would think I had bullied you!  I’ll get a bad reputation!... Why don’t we go home, and I’ll make you some pasta, then?” Shan Mei loved the pasta that he made.
“No!” Shan Mei still shook her head.
“No?  Why not?”
“I’m famished.  I can’t wait 6for you to go home and cook!  Why don’t you just go to the little stall in the alley over there and bring me something I can fill my stomach with.”
Once Shan Mei was no longer upset, her appetite returned with a vengeance.
“What do you want?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“Ummm…. Seafood omelete, pumpkin fritters, tempura, barbecued squid and chicken skewers…”
Xiang Zhe was flabbergasted.
“Just how long has it been since your last meal?” he teased.
“It’s all your fault…!”
 
Xiang Zhe had barely taken two steps when she shouted out, “Make sure you hurry up!  Don’t make me wait to long!” She didn’t want to be alone any more than necessary.
Xiang Zhe laughed out loud, “What’s wrong?  Are you missing me already?”
“What are you talking about?  It’s my stomach that can’t wait.”
Xiang Zhe grinned and made his way back.
“What are you doing back here?” Shan Mei asked.
Xiang Zhe did not reply.  He reached over to the glove compartment and brought out a large pair of dark sunglasses which he put on her.
“What are you doing?” Shan Mei asked bewilderedly, holding on to the sunglasses that slipping of the end of her nose.
“It’s called bringing the mountain to Mohammed….” He said.
“What mountain to where?”
“This way, you can come along, and your stomach won’t have to endure the long wait…”
 
Xiang Zhe then turned and started to walk away toward the stall without waiting for an answer.
“Yin Xiang Zhe, these glasses are way too big!” Shan Mei shrieked.
Xiang Zhe didn’t even flinch.
Shan Mei looked at his receding back, then looked at the sunglasses in her hand, a smile on her face.  She caught up with him even before he turned the corner.
 
Xiang Zhe grabbed her hand.  He knew she would come.
“What took you so long?  I’ve been waiting for you…” he said.
 
*****End of Chapter 28 *****

 

 

Chapter 29

 

Written By Jennifer
Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
Translated by nho(CA)

 
When she got home, Shan Mei dumped her luggage in her bedroom and then rushed out to Xiang Zhe’s place.
 
She went to Japan to attend a seminar.  After the seminar ended on Friday, her colleagues took advantage of the weekend break to stay in Tokyo to go either sightseeing or shopping.  She took the Saturday morning flight back to Seoul.  Xiang Zhe thought that she would be back on Sunday and she wanted to give him a pleasant surprise.
 
Her trip to Japan this time was a last minute decision.  On Monday morning, Jiang Zhan Ting informed her at the last minute that she was to attend the seminar on his behalf and she had to depart on Tuesday afternoon.  Xiang Zhe was in meeting all day that day and she was unable to let him know until at night.
 
Xiang Zhe was not too happy when he heard about her trip to Japan the next day.
 
“It seems that I am always the last one to know about your business.”  Xiang Zhe grumbled at the other end of phone.
 
Shan Mei frowned.  Xiang Zhe was exaggerating.  He was almost always the first one to know about her schedule.  She thought he probably was too tired and not in a good mood that he behaved in this way.  During the past week or so, he had been so busy attending to something that he was never home until midnight and even had to break up his dinner date with Shan Mei.
 
“Lawyer Jiang is handling some important case that he can’t stay away and has to ask me to go in his place.  He only let me know this morning.”  Shan Mei tactfully explained.
 
“It’s Lawyer Jiang who asked you to go?”  When Xiang Zhe heard that it was Jiang Zhan Ting who asked her to go, his tone of voice then sounded more pacified.
 
“Huh.”
 
“When is your flight?”
 
“3:30 in the afternoon.”
 
“I may not be able to see you off.”
 
“You don’t have to come.”  Shan Mei hurriedly said.
 
As a result, Xiang Zhe still found time to see her off at the airport.
 
“What seminar are you attending that incredibly prohibit the participants to communicate with the outside world during the seminar?”
 
“OOCCC …”
 
“What?”
 
“Out of Civilization Concentration Camp.”
 
The legal field jokingly called this bi-annual seminar as “Out of Civilization Concentration Camp”.  In order to minimize disruption from the outside world and to enable the participants to concentrate on the seminar, apart from picking a quiet holiday resort as the meeting place, the organizer confiscated all the participants’ cell phones and required that during the period of the seminar, all external communications must be through the hotel’s main switchboard and after the conclusion of the seminar. a ranking list of the number of external communications would be announced.  The top three names on the list not only had to pay a fine, but also had to perform on stage.  This year’s meeting venue was chosen to be held at Karuizawa, a vacation paradise in Nagano, Japan.
 
“Don’t forget to send me telepathy every day!”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“I’m afraid that you are too busy to have time to pick up my telepathy …”  Shan Mei shook her head and said.
 
“Why do I have the feeling that someone doesn’t sound too happy and complain about me?”
 
“If someone rescheduled your dinner dates three times in a week and subsequently didn’t show up at all even for once … That would be indeed very strange if you don’t have any complaint at all!”
 
“I …”  Xiang Zhe wanted anxiously to explain.
 
Shan Mei covered Xiang Zhe’s mouth, “Don’t worry, I won’t fight with that “woman” for your favours …  ”
 
“Really?”
 
“Of course.”
 
“No, it can’t be done.  I’m still feeling bad …”
 
“Come off it …”  Shan Mei pouted.
 
“Really … I won’t be able to concentrate in my work this way …”  Xiang Zhe pretended to look distressful.  
 
Shan Mei watched his tactics and pondered what game he was playing.
 
“Then what do you want?”
 
“You can give me some reassuring tranquillizer … This way I can then cease to worry …”  Xiang Zhe smiled craftily.
 
Shan Mei spread out her hands and said:  “I don’t have any reassuring tranquillizer.”
 
“You certainly have …”
 
“Where?”
 
Xiang Zhe smilingly pointed his finger to his cheek.
 
“Don’t even think about it …”  Shan Mei blushed.  She certainly would not kiss him under so many watchful eyes.  
 
Finally, Xiang Zhe still got what the “reassuring tranquillizer” he asked for.
 
 
So that was it.  Apart from the call she made when she arrived Japan that day letting him that she had safely arrived, she did not get in touch with him at all for the whole three days.  She missed him very much.  They had just made up after the quarrel last week.
 
Shan Mei came to Xiang Zhe’s place.  It was just past 1:00 p.m.  As a habit, she rang the door bell.  Xiang Zhe had given her his house keys, but she seldom used them.
 
The door bell rang for a long while and there was no response.  When she was about to take out the keys, the door was opened and Xiang Zhe was talking to someone on the phone.  When Xiang Zhe saw it was her, he looked pleasantly surprised, breaking into smiles and immediately grabbed her hand.
 
“Right … immediately get in touch with all directors and ask them to come over for a meeting early tomorrow morning … Umm … the content of the meeting agenda just follows what I told you last night … Right … list them under three main items … Umm …”
 
Even though he was talking business with others, Xiang Zhe’s left hand still tightly grabbed Shan Mei, not letting her go.  She let him hold her standing by the door for more than 10 minutes.
 
Shan Mei was a little regretful for coming over in this way.  Xiang Zhe was busy with business and she did not want him to get distracted.
 
Shan Mei gently released Xiang Zhe’s hand and pointed to the direction of the sitting room.
 
“I won’t take a few moment more …”  He covered the receiver and told her apologetically.
 
She waited for him in the sitting room.
 
“I have made many changes to the draft press release and have just faxed it out.  Please send a copy to my lawyer for his review … Have you emailed me the information?  Let me look …”  Xiang Zhe went to his studies while still talking.
 
After Xiang Zhe went into his studies, he did not come out again for a long while.  She could only hear the telephone ringing one moment and the sound of the fax machine operating the next.  It looked as if something important was taking place in Xiang Zhe’s company.  Shan Mei recalled the call Xiang Zhe received in his car last week.  
 
Shan Mei cooked a pot of noodles.  She suspected that Xiang Zhe must still have not had lunch.  She did not go in to disturb him.  According to Xiang Zhe’s temperament, he absolutely would not find something to eat if he had things to deal with.  Anyway the noodles just needed reheating.
 
Until it was nearly 2:00 p.m. before Xiang Zhe came out from the studies.
 
“What has happened?”
 
“We are about to institute an infringement lawsuit.”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“Do you have irrefutable proof?”  Shan Mei anxiously asked.
 
An infringement lawsuit would often just one step short of success due to the lack of sufficient evidence and sometimes it ended up having the plaintiff being counterclaimed by the defendant.
 
“I have concrete evidence.”
 
“That is terrific …”  Looking at Xiang Zhe’s look of confidence, Shan Mei could then cease to worry.
 
“How come you come back early?”  Xiang Zhe asked.
 
“To check up on you …”  Shan Mei said.
 
“Check up on me? … So, are you satisfied?”  Xiang Zhe was very happy, because she missed him.
 
“Barely satisfactory …”
 
“Just barely satisfactory?  I would have thought I can get an A for that.  Don’t you think you have set up your standard rather high? … Not only have I been working industriously, I didn’t forget to find time to keep the place in spic-and-span …”  Xiang Zhe was not pleased.
 
Watching his look of righteous indignation, she nearly burst out laughing.
 
“Yin Xiang Zhe …”
 
“What?”
 
“I may consider giving you an A …”  Shan Mei said.
 
“That is more like it.”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“Don’t you think you should be a little bit more modest?”
 
“Not even one bit, that is the least I deserve.”  Xiang Zhe said righteously.
 
Shan Mei’s mouth slightly twitched at the corners and when Xiang Zhe saw it, he asked: “What are laughing at?”
 
“I admire that you have now excelled your teacher.”  Shan Mei answered.  Recently whenever she squabbled with him, she would often lose an argument.  
 
“What do you mean?”  Xiang Zhe did not understand what she meant.
 
“I am praising you!”  
 
Xiang Zhe was still bemused.
 
“Have you had lunch?  I have made some noodles …”  Shan Mei said.
 
Xiang Zhe looked at his watch and said apologetically:  “I must rush to the office for the meeting …”
 
“Eat something before you go!  It won’t take up a lot of your time …”
 
Xiang Zhe was in a hurry to go, so he hastily swallowed the noodles.
 
“Do you want to come along?  Both Lawyer Jiang and your colleague, Miss Cui will be there …”
 
He worried that she would be bored at home.
 
“You are discussing business.  My presence is not needed.”
 
“You are my personal legal advisor!”
 
He purposely cracked a joke with her.  He knew that she would refuse to come.
 
“Hurry up and change!”  She pushed him.
 
Xiang Zhe came out from his room dressed up properly in business suit.
 
“Wow!  You need to dress up like this even during weekends!”  Shan Mei laughed.
 
Xiang Zhe scratched his head and said:  “All the company’s senior managers will be present, not to say there will be guests too …”
 
“You haven’t fixed up your tie properly …”  Shan Mei went forward to help Xiang Zhe fix up his necktie.  
 
“I don’t know you know how to do this …”
 
“I learned it for Auntie …”
 
“Don’t tell me you have just learned it recently?”
 
Shan Mei blushed, pursing her lips.
 
He watched the way how she dedicatedly fixed the tie for him and there was a feeling of blessed happiness; he wished it in his heart that he did not have to attend that meeting in the office.
 
 
“Wait …”  Shan Mei wrapped her arms around Xiang Zhe from behind when he was about to step out of the door.  
 
Tenderness swelled up in Xiang Zhe’s heart.  He turned around and embraced Shan Mei.
 
“You’re unwilling to let me go?”  Xiang Zhe tenderly asked.
 
Shan Mei’s eyes immediately reddened.  She knew she should not be so childish, but she could not control herself.  They had been apart for a few days and from the time she stepped into the house till now, the time he spent talking to her did not add up to a quarter of an hour.
 
“Be a good girl, I will come back quickly.”  Xiang Zhe coaxed Shan Mei in the way he would coax a child.
 
“OK!”  Although she was reluctant in every possible way, she had no alternative but to let Xiang Zhe go.
 
He kissed her once on the lips, “This is the instalment for now and the rest I will repay you when I come back.”
 
Shan Mei melt into smiles, “I will charge you interest when you are late …”
 
“Wow, you are one greedy woman!”
 
 
After Xiang Zhe left, Shan Mei went into Xiang Zhe’s studies looking for some magazine to kill time.  She found on Xiang Zhe’s desk some newspapers cuttings relating to KMC Technologies.  Shan Mei frowned.  Could it be that the object against whom Xiang Zhe was planning to institute legal proceedings was KMC?  KMC originally manufactured motherboards, but several years ago they moved their production base to China and had diversified and manufactured the same line of products as Xiang Zhe’s company.  They were now Xiang Zhe’s main business rivals.  During recent years, KMC were repeatedly sued by their rivals for infringement of intellectual property rights, but they always managed to successfully stay put.  KMC engaged some expensive top-notch lawyers to act for them and not only did they always win their lawsuits, they very often would counterclaim the opposition parties, causing the initiating plaintiff to suffer losses financially and damages in their goodwill.  If Xiang Zhe were really to sue KMC, he had to prepare a perfectly sound plan.  Seeing that Xiang Zhe looked so full of confidence and Jiang Zhan Ting was one of the most prominent intellectual property litigation lawyers in the country, the chance of success should be very high.  As Jiang Zhang Ting was unable to attend the seminar in Tokyo, he must be busy preparing for the claim by Xiang Zhe’s company.
 
Shan Mei looked up in the internet searching for the materials relating to the litigation claims involving KMC, including the reasons for the claims, the contents of the writs and the reasons for judgment issued by the courts and also all the relevant news articles.  She downloaded all this information into the computer, reviewed them and made notes.  It was not as if she wanted to propose any brilliant views on the claim, with an expert as brilliant and experienced as Jiang Zhang Ting was worth more than ten inexperienced junior lawyers like herself.  She just wanted to gather more information as research materials for Xiang Zhe’s reference.
 
 
Time flied and when Xiang Zhe called home, Shan Mei then found that it was already dark outside.
 
“I’m still in the meeting,”  Xiang Zhe said:  “I want to invite them all to dinner tonight as they have been made busy all the afternoon …”
 
“…”
 
“Are you angry with me?”  Xiang Zhe was feeling very bad.  Shan Mei especially returned from Japan ahead of time but he had to slight her on the sideline.
 
“I’m so mad that I’m about to burst into flames.”
 
“Let me buy you a present to make it up to you.”
 
“If I want the stars from the sky, would you still get them for me?”
 
“I will try my best to find a ladder.”
 
“I have changed my mind, I don’t want the stars anymore.”
 
“Why?”
 
“I don’t want you to fall down from the ladder.”
 
“I know you love me dearly.”
 
Shan Mei fell asleep on the sofa.  She was having a very beautiful dream.
 
She and Xiang Zhe went on a tour to the Provence.  He wrapped his arm around her and they were strolling along that large field of intoxicating purple romance …; during the state of delusion, she felt that she was embraced tightly in a pair of strong and powerful arms and two passionate lips were then planted tenderly on her lips …  that were Xiang Zhe’s arms,  were Xiang Zhe’s lips …  she must have missed him too much and brought him into her dream …; was it a dream?  Why was that feeling felt so real, she could clearly smell Xiang Zhe’s breath, could feel his warmth and could even touch his body … Shan Mei swiftly opened her eyes, that really was not a dream …  Xiang Zhe’s face was just inches away from her, the one who she longed for really appeared in her presence.
 
“You are back?”  She circled his neck.
 
“How come you have fallen asleep?”  He spoke while he was kissing her.
 
“What are you doing?”  Shan Mei laughed and dodged.  Xiang Zhe’s stubbles scratched and tickled her.  He must have forgotten to shave today!
 
“I am repaying my debt …”  Xiang Zhe continued kissing her after he finished speaking.
 
He entangled with her for a long while before he released her.
 
“Sleeping Beauty, how long have you been sleeping?”  Xiang Zhe asked.
 
Shan Mei pouted:  “Don’t call me Sleeping Beauty?”
 
“Why?”
 
“I don’t want that the Prince Charming coming to rescue me only after one hundred years later.”
 
“I come back in just half a day …”
 
“I feel as though it is more than a century long.”
 
“You make me feel very guilty …”  Xiang Zhe said guiltily.
 
Shan Mei smiled complacently, “That is precisely my intention.”  Shan Mei said.
 
“Hasn’t someone said not long ago that she won’t be fighting for my affection?”
 
“Even the most forgiving person will have a limit in his tolerance.”
 
 
“Hey, have you been drinking?”  She could smell the wine in his breath.
 
“I had some wine during dinner …  Miss Cui has a good alcohol capacity.”
 
“You and she went drinking together?”  Shan Mei opened wide her eyes angrily and seized Xiang Zhe’s necktie
 
“Oh …”  Xiang Zhe made out a painful expression, “Lawyer Jiang was with us!”
 
“Really?”
 
“I swear.”
 
“It’s more like it.”  Shan Mei released her hands.
 
“What did you eat tonight?”  He asked her.
 
“The leftover from lunch.”  Shan Mei answered piteously.
 
She was too lazy to cook dinner and just heated up the noodles left over from lunch.
 
“You lazybone, I should know it … It’s fortunate that I brought back something …”  Xiang Zhe took out a small dainty cake box from his bag, “It’s your favourite …” Xiang Zhe said.
 
“Raspberry chocolate cake?”  Shan Mei happily asked.
 
“Right … your favourite.”
 
Shan Mei loved chocolate cakes topping with raspberry mousse and fruit jello, it was that kind of sweet and sour taste.
 
Xiang Zhe changed and made two phone calls before he came back to the sitting room.  Shan Mei was watching TV and she fixed her gaze engrossingly on the screen.
 
Xiang Zhe reached out his hand to envelope Shan Mei’s shoulder.  Shan Mei conveniently leaned against him; she loved the feeling of being held in his arms.
 
“You’re done?”  Shan Mei asked.
 
“Huh …”  Xiang Zhe nodded, “Hey, where are the cakes?  Don’t tell me they are all in your stomach?”  Xiang Zhe  teasingly asked.
 
Shan Mei gave Xiang Zhe a pommel, “They’re in the fridge, I am waiting to eat them with you!”
 
“What’s on that makes you watch so engrossingly?”  Xiang Zhe asked.
 
“It’s seldom that this movie is shown again.  I didn’t manage to watch the end last time …”
 
That was a literary movie of romance, recounting how a woman who was placed between her first love and her finance, trying hard to make her choice and the story ended with the female lead chose to return to the arms of her first love.
 
“The female lead was somehow irrational.  She certainly knew that her finance loved her very much, then why did she have to return to someone who had once betrayed herself?  It is somehow quite unfair to her finance …”  Xiang Zhe disagreed with the arrangement of the plot.  
 
Shan Mei laughed on hearing this and she shook her head:  “There is basically no so-called fairness in love … To sacrifice for the other party without complain or regret, sometimes without even any return …, furthermore, first love is usually heart-engraving … I think the decision of the female role can be understood? …”
 
Xiang Zhe’s facial expression slightly changed, first love was heart-engraving … Someone said those words to him not so long ago.
 
“Is it really like this?”  Xiang Zhe murmured.
 
“What?”  Shan Mei did not notice that Xiang Zhe looked peculiar.
 
“First love … is it really heart-engraving?”  Xiang Zhe asked.
 
Shan Mei puckered in smiles.  Xiang Zhe was looking very serious and it was the first time that she saw him behave in this way.
 
Every time when she grieved for the characters or the plot of a movie, Xiang Zhe always laughed at her childishness.  So he could also behave in this way.
 
“Most probably!  Many people say it is like this.”  Shan Mei answered.
 
“Why?”
 
“I think … maybe because when it is first love, nobody would expect to get hurt themselves, so they would love and give out with the most sincerity, … until when they get hurt and know how painful it will be, then they will start to be very careful and protect themselves and will hold something back … it will be very difficult to return to the chaste state when they taste their first love … because they cannot go back, so they would treasure it more in their memories …”
 
“Then what do you think?”  Xiang Zhe asked.
 
Shan Mei smiled and did not answer Xiang Zhe.  She thought this question did not require an answer, as he should know the answer already.  From the moment she let him hold her hand, there was only him in her heart and from that moment onwards, he was the only one who could engrave in her heart.  
 
“Let me go and fetch the cakes … My colleague told me that it’s just perfect to eat raspberry cakes with red wine …”  Shan Mei said.
 
“Really?”  Xiang Zhe answered inattentively.  He thought of how he ran into Song Shuo Mao that day and he thought of what Song Shuo Mao said to him.
 
 
That day after he saw Shan Mei off at the airport, he walked out of the departure hall and ran into Song Shuo Mao face to face who seemed to be in a hurry.
 
“She … has she gone?”  Song Shuo Mao asked with preamble.
 
Xiang Zhe frowned, who was he referring to?
 
“Has Shan Mei gone?”  Song Shuo Mao asked once again.
 
“Do we know each other?”  Xiang Zhe coldly answered, he really did not wanted to have any dealings with Song Shuo Mao.
 
Song Shuo Mao was unconscious that day and should not be able to remember him.
 
There flashed a thread of embarrassment on Song Shuo Mao’s face, “Mr. Yin, I know you are Shan Mei’s friend … I saw you together in a restaurant.”
 
“…”
 
“That night … thank  you for taking me to a hotel.  I have checked it with the hotel.”
 
“I was helping Shan Mei and not you.”  Xiang Zhe mildly said.
 
“Can you find somewhere to sit down and talk?”  Song Shuo Mao asked.
 
“I don’t think there is such need!”
 
Consequently, he and Song Shuo Mao went to the café in the airport.
 
“Do you know the relationship between Shan Mei and me?”  The first sentence Song Shuo Mao uttered made Xiang Zhe realize that he did not come with a friendly intention.  
 
“You are her former boy friend.”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“She told you everything?”
 
“There is no secret between us.”
 
“Do you really believe this?”
 
“What do you want to say?”  Xiang Zhe cast Song Shuo Mao a look.
 
“I want to fight a fair game with you?”
 
“Fair game?”
 
“I want to win back Shan Mei’s heart …”
 
“Do you think you are qualified to say things like this?”  Xiang Zhe coldly said.
 
“To love someone does not need any so-called qualification, so long as the other party is willing to accept you …  What makes you think you are more qualified to love Shan Mei?”  Song Shuo Mao’s words were filled with provocation.
 
Xiang Zhe smiled and said nothing.  He had never asked Shan Mei about what happened between her and Song Shuo Mao, but it was without doubt that Song Shuo Mao had hurt Shan Mei.  He did not know why Song Shuo Mao could still tell to his face that he would be pursuing Shan Mei again without any feeling of shame.  Xiang Zhe did not utter his thought as sometimes there was no need to say them out loud.
 
“If you love Shan Mei, you should give her a choice …”  Song Shuo Mao said.
 
Xiang Zhe fixed his gaze on Song Shuo Mao.
 
“Let Shan Mei make her choice between the two of us.”  Song Shuo Mao said.
 
“Do you think you still have a chance?”  In the midst of the cigarette smoke, Xiang Zhe looked at Song Shuo Mao’s face which was full of self confidence.
 
“Yes, I believe … if she does not any feeling for me, she would not have come looking for me in the pub in the middle of the night …”
 
Xiang Zhe’s heart twitched once, so in the depth of his heart he was still unable to completely getting over the fact that Shan Mei went to look for Song Shuo Mao that night …
 
“I believe that if only I can stand with you in the same position and compete with each other fairly, I have confidence that I can win Shan Mei back on my side … After all, I am her first love and to any person, first love is always heart-engraving …”
 
That day he basically did not take Song Shuo Mao’s words to heart.
 
 
He once sneered at that saying contemptuously, yet now it began to ferment in his heart.
 
First love was heart-engraving, Shan Mei too said the same thing just a moment ago.
 
 
“It looks so appetitizing …”  Shan Mei said as she was cutting up the cakes.
 
Xiang Zhe did not respond.
 
“Hey, what’s up?”  Shan Mei hit Xiang Zhe once, “Are you still thinking about that movie?”
 
Xiang Zhe brought his mind back to the presence, “Nothing … Do you want some red wine?  Didn’t you say that it is perfect to eat raspberry cakes with red wine …”
 
Shan Mei smilingly shook her head, her alcohol intake was very low.
 
“I want to drink … Keep me company!  To drink on your own seems very dreary, like drowning yourself in sorrow.
 
Shan Mei burst out laughing:  “Then aren’t you drinking dreary wine every night?”
 
Xiang Zhe always drank a glass of red wine every night before he went to bed.  According to him, that was good to one’s health.  
 
“Haven’t you already drunk during dinner?”  Shan Mei asked.
 
“As I had to drive, I only drank a small glass … Don’t worry, a little red wine won’t make you drunk.  If you really got drunk, I will take you home.”  Regardless of whether Shan Mei was in agreement, Xiang Zhe forcefully poured her a glass of wine.  
 
The two of them drank while eating the cake.
 
“Your colleague is right, raspberry cake and red wine is really an unique match.”  Xiang Zhe  
 
Xiang Zhe raised his neck upward and drained the whole glass of red wine in one gulp.  Before Shan Mei took a few sips, Xiang Zhe had already emptied two glassfuls.  
 
“You’ll get drunk drinking like this.”  She tried to dissuade him.
 
“Don’t worry, I have a good liquor capacity …”
 
 
As a result, Shan Mei was worried about Xiang Zhe driving, so the two of them walked along the sidewalk in the outer circle of the park to get home.  
 
“I told you not to drink so fiercely and you didn’t listen to me … See, are you feeling not too well?”  Shan Mei muttered.
 
“I’m in an excellent state and am feeling good.”
 
“If you aren’t feeling unwell, then why do you keep frowning and are not talking neither?”
 
Since when they ate the cakes, she had the feeling that there was something wrong with him and he did not talk much during their walk.
 
“Maybe I am tired!”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
Shan Mei stopped walking and said with her face filled with tender and protective feelings: “You better go home then!  I can go home by myself.  Anyway it’s just a short distance.”
 
“I have never given up halfway …”  He wrapped his arm around her shoulders and continued walking ahead.
 
“Given up halfway?”  Shan Mei found it hilarious and said:  “You are just taking me home.  You are making it sound so serious!”
 
“Why isn’t it serious?  You’re the most important person in my heart.”
 
“Who knows whether you are speaking the truth or are just trying to coax me?”
 
“Do you want to check it out?”
 
“How?”
 
“Just listen!”  Xiang Zhe pointed to his heart.
 
“I am not a doctor and I don’t know how to listen to that.”
 
“Where has Miss Zhen Shan Mei’s spirit for quest for knowledge gone?”
 
“Sometimes it’s enough just to know without being told and it doesn’t need to get to the bottom of things …”
 
“You mean you believe my words?”  
 
Shan Mei sweetly smiled.
 
 
Seeing that she was in a good mood, he could not help bursting out the words that had been buried in his heart the whole night.
 
“Let’s discuss something …”
 
“Huh?”
 
“Can you consider not to take over the Gimhae case?”  Xiang Zhe said in a half-joking tone of voice, but he was dead serious in his heart.  At first he was not too bothered by the fact that Shan Mei was to become the lawyer in charge of Song Shuo Mao’s company, but what Shan Mei said tonight however made him become concerned about this matter.
 
“Why, are you jealous?”  Shan Mei laughingly said.  She thought he was playing a joke.
 
“Yes … I am jealous that Song Shuo Mao can have so many opportunities to spend time with you.”  Xiang Zhe admitted honestly.
 
“Are you serious?”  She looked at him.
 
Xiang Zhe’s mouth lifted at its corners, “I’m just joking … Don’t get serious.”
 
He felt ashamed of making such unreasonable demand all because of his own selfish motives.
 
Although he denied, she could still see from the expression in his eyes that he did not utter those words unintentionally.
 
So Xiang Zhe still took to heart what happened that night …
 
Shan Mei felt bad somehow as she considered that matter was thing of the past.
 
That night, when Xiang Zhe looked as if he had a lot on his mind, Shan Mei thought Xiang Zhe was worrying about the KMC case and she did not know she had got it all wrong.
 
 
- End of Chapter 29 –

 

Chapter 30

My Dearest One (Qin Ai De Ni) –

By Jennifer
Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
Translated by Jules
 
When her colleagues saw how listless she was on Monday morning at work, they started to tease her.
“Zhen Shan Mei, did you have too much of a good time in Tokyo, or are you having a terrible case of the Monday Blues?”
Shan Mei grimaced.  She had not slept for two nights in a row, trying to think of how she was going ask Jiang Zhan Ting to take her off the Gimhae project.  She cared about what Xiang Zhe thought, and did not want him to have any cause for concern.  She had mulled over what he said about getting jealous over how Song Shuo Mao looked at her.  After that night’s fiasco, and also to prevent Xiang Zhe from being upset any further, she really did not want to have anything more to do with Song Shuo Mao, whether on a professional or a social basis.
 
Jiang Zhan Ting was out of the office all morning.  During her lunch break, Shan Mei surfed the net and saw an article about Jiang Zhen Ting bringing a lawsuit on behalf Chamsung in both Korea and New York against KMC for stealing trade secrets.  So that was what Jiang Zhan Ting had been busy with.  The lawsuit made the headlines of most press coverage that day, describing it as the mother of all fights.  Xiang Zhe’s company had set up a project team half a year before to deal with competition from KMC, and had gathered significant evidence against KMC during their dealings with a mutual customer.  According to the press, it was unlikely that KME was going to get away with their unethical tactics this time around.
 
It was 3pm when Jiang Zhan Ting sent for her.
“Yu Zhen said you were looking for me this morning?  What is it?” Jiang Zhan Ting asked.
Yu Zhen was Jiang Zhan Ting’s personal assistant.
“That…uh…I….”
Shan Mei hemmed and hawed when faced with Jiang Zhan Ting, and could not find a good reason to back her request to be taken off the Gimhae case.  Gimhae was one of their largest clients and had a good track record with the firm.
They way Jiang Zhan Ting was looking at her made Shan Mei suddenly feel apprehensive.
“Uh…. It was nothing… I was thinking about briefing you on the Japanese seminar and handing over the material I collected…”  In the end, she just couldn’t bring herself to say it, and chided herself for her own cowardice.
“Thank you.”
“In that case…I’ll make my way out.” Shan Mei said unconvincingly, feeling like an idiot.
“Just a minute, Shan Mei… I have something I want to say.” Jiang Zhan Ting stopped her retreat, his demeanor unusually grim.  “Please sit down.”
Shan Mei sat down uneasily.
“What is it?” Shan Mei asked hesitantly.  Surely she was not about to be disciplined for something she had done?
Jiang Zhan Ting drew heavily on his cigarette.  It was some time before he spoke.
“You’ve been with the firm for almost two years now…”
“Yes” Shan Mei stammered.  Jiang Zhan Ting’s opening remark was very strange.
“Over the last two years, you would have had sufficient time to come to grips with 70% or 80% of issues and be familiar with our clients…”
Shan Mei was stunned.  Was Jiang Zhan Ting trying to imply that her performance was under par?
“…” Shan Mei waited for Jiang Zhan Ting to go on.
“I would like to re-allocate some of your current workload…”
Shan Mei paled and asked anxiously, “Have I done something wrong?”
“You misunderstand me….” Jiang Zhen Ting waved his hand at her.
“I will try harder to learn from my seniors…” Shan Mei said.
Jiang Zhan Ting interrupted her, “It’s not that….Your performance has been exemplary to date…”
“In that case…”Shan Mei looked at Jiang Zhan Ting suspiciously.
“I want to second you….”
“….”
“You read Mergers and Acquisitions Law in school, didn’t you?”
Shan Mie nodded.  It was the basis of her thesis.
“The economic department wants to review Mergers and Acquisitions legislation and wants to set up a special project group.  I am a member but my workload is too heavy at the moment for me to handle…”
“Isn’t the evidence for the Chamsung case pretty water-tight?” Shan Mei couldn’t help interrupting him.
“Even if it was, our opponent isn’t about to let us walk all over them.  They have great experience with fighting this sort of a case, and have very good contacts in the business…”
“In that case…”
Jiang Zhan Ting waved his hand and changed the subject, “The economic department intends to lodge a proposal to change the current legislation on Mergers and Acquisitions during the next parliamentary sittings.  We need to amend the current legislation as well as take into consideration all pertinent matters arising from public debate of the issues within the next five months….I would like you to help me with this…”
“Me?” Shan Mei was shocked.  There were many others in the firm who were more familiar than she was with this aspect of legislative amendments, “There many others better qualified than I…” Shan Mei said.
“You’ve got the training, the right attitude and an eye for detail.  Moreover, you’ve also had international exposure on these issues…I want to use you…”
“But…”
“You’re worried about your current portfolio of clients?”
Shan Mei nodded.
“I will reallocate the work…you’ve got about ten clients right now?”
“Yes…”
“I will reallocate five of these to some others, so you will have sufficient time on your hands to devote to this project…. Are you agreeable to that?”
“Alright…” Shan Mei nodded.  He was her boss, and she had little choice in the matter.
“Let’s have a look at what you have on hand…”
 
Shan Mei flew out of Jiang Zhan Ting’s office, a smile on her face, completely delighted.
“Did you strike the lottery?  Shan Mei?  Look at how happy you are…” Jiang Zhen Ting’s secretary asked.
“It’s even better than that…”  Shan Mei smiled broadly.
While they were discussing the reallocation of her portfolio, Shan Mei took a punt and put Gimhae out as a client to be reallocated.  Surprisingly, Jiang Zhan Ting agreed to it immediately.  After that, Jiang Zhan Ting merely reallocated a few other smaller clients and left all her more important clients in her portfolio untouched.  It was more than she could have hoped for.  She was so happy that she had found a solution to her problem, she didn’t bother about trying to fathom his reasons for this.
 
She didn’t tell Xiang Zhe about this when she met him for dinner that night, only saying that Jiang Zhan Ting had reallocated some of her portfolio to allow her time to participate in a special project.  She had pondered over it for some time before deciding not to tell Xiang Zhe about Gimhae.  She didn’t want him to feel guilty about his feelings regarding the matter.  She knew he was a considerate person, and saw what it took for him to even raise the issue about Gimhae with her.
 
“You’re so happy with the new project you’ve been assigned?” Xiang Zhe asked her.
Shan Mei had been happily chatting nineteen to the dozen about the new work she had been allocated.
“It’s not because of that…” Shan Mei smiled.
She was happy because it had been more than a week since he found the time to share dinner with her, and also because she no longer had to worry about having to deal with Song Shuo Mao.
“What is it then?”
“It’s because… I’m with you…” Shan Mei flashed him a brilliant smile.
Her smile lighted the darkest corners of his heart and drove away all shadows of doubt, leaving him much happier as well.
 
Shan Mei suddenly sighed.
“What is it?”
“You’ve finally smiled…” Shan Mei said.
“What do you mean?” Xiang Zhe didn’t understand her.  He had been smiling all the time.
Shan Mei rested her chin on her hands and looked at him deeply, “I meant smiling with your heart; with real conviction…”
He couldn’t deny it.  She was very sensitive to his moods.
“And now?”
“Ummm….I just saw your first real smile for the evening.”
“Am I so obvious?” Xiang Zhe grimaced.
Shan Mei nodded and grabbed hold of his hand, “I have complete confidence in you….I believe you can win this lawsuit…”
She thought he had been distressed about the lawsuit!
“Thank you…” He was touched.  He remembered the time when she bought him a lottery ticket to try and help his company out with their cashflow problems.  “With your support, my confidence has grown…”
“Really?” Shan Mei’s smile was radiant.
He was drunk with the sweetness of her.
“If I get completely intoxicated, will you take me home?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“You’re not drinking, how are you going to get drunk?” Shan Mei was puzzled.
“With such beauty before me, I can get completely intoxicated without the presence of any alcohol…”
“I think that’s enough” Shan Mei’s lips curled in a lovely smile.
 
“Have you finished packing?” She asked him.
Xiang Zhe was going overseas on Wednesday to attend two electronics conventions in Europe and Australia, visiting clients along the way.  The trip would take more than ten days in all.
“I’ll pack tomorrow night.”
“Wouldn’t that be too much of a rush?”
Xiang Zhe laughed, “I’m not like you women who need everything under the sun… Us men just need to take carry-on bag when we go on such trips.”
“You’ll be away for almost two weeks this time.  Better make sure you take a little more.  Do a little packing whenever you have the time, otherwise you may find that you’ve left this and that behind…”
“You’re becoming more and more of a nag like my grandmother.” He teased.
“You’re lucky someone cares enough to nag at you.” Shan Mei retorted.
“Hey, since you’re so worried about it, why don’t you just come over and help me with the packing?” Xiang Zhe asked.
He smiled at the thought of her carefully packing his things for him.
“In your dreams!”
“You’re so petty!”
“I’m not!” Shan Mei was miffed, “I’ll take you out to a nice French dinner tomorrow night!”
Xiang Zhe was apologetic, “I have to be in Incheon tomorrow.  There are some things Ii need to take care of…. I’m afraid I won’t be able to get back in time…”
“In that case, you can take a raincheck, and we’ll have it when you get back.”
Shan Mei pretended it didn’t matter, but she was sorely disappointed.  Xiang Zhe was leaving first thing Wednesday morning, and she wanted to spend more time with him before he left.
 
The next morning, Shan Mei got a call from Song Shuo Mao.  It was the first time she had spoken to him since he got drunk that night.
“It’s a pity we won’t have the opportunity to meet up again.” Song Shuo Mao said.
He had found out that she was no longer in charge of the Gimhae account.
“….”
“About that night…”
“I’ll just pretend it didn’t happen…” Shan Mei interrupted Song Shuo Mao, “I also hope that we will not meet up again.”
“Don’t be angry Shan Mei.” Song Shuo Mao said anxiously.
“It think that will be the best for the both of us.” Shan Mei replied calmly.
“I think I’ve really riled you this time?” Shan Mei could hear the desperation in Song Shuo Mao’s voice.
“Don’t worry, I’ll make sure I hand over the project properly.  Mr Park is much more capable than I.  I’m sure you will be happy working with him.”
“Shan Mei….Can we meet up tonight?”
“I think that is not necessary.”
“Just consider it a farewell dinner.  At least give me the opportunity to say goodbye properly?” Song Shuo Mao pleaded.
Farewell dinner?  They had had their farewell dinner a long time ago.
“I have to work late tonight.” Shan Mei hung up.
 
Xiang Zhe rang at seven-thirty.
“I’m surprised you still remember me.” Shan Mei chided.  After waiting a whole day, he finally rang.  Although Xiang Zhe was the chairman of the company, he still loved research work and would completely forget about the time when he was at the R&D department.
“I know you’ve been complaining about me all day.  My ears have been burning since this morning….” Xiang Zhe said.
“I’m glad you know that.” Shan Mei did not even try to deny it.
“You could have called me!”
“I was afraid someone would complain that I was nagging…”
He said the night before that she was becoming a nag like his grandmother.
“Who dares say that about you?  Let me go and teach him a good lesson…”
“Yes, you should really do that.” Shan Mei chuckled merrily.
“Are you getting off work now?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“I’ll be leaving in about half an hour…” She was busy with handing over her workload.
“Have you had something to eat?’
“I’ve had a heavy lunch, and am not hungry yet.  I’ll get something when I’m finished…”
“That’s good…” Xiang Zhe said happily.
“What’s good?”
“I meant I haven’t had anything to eat either…”
Shan Mei laughed, “You happy just because we’ve both not had anything to eat?”
“Hmmm!” Xiang Zhe suddenly sighed heavily.
“What is it?”
“I was originally supposed to be having a nice romantic candlelight dinner with a beautiful woman in a French restaurant…”
“You were the one to give up the opportunity…”
“I’m regretting it already…. Hye, did you really mean what you said?”
“What do you mean?”
“You said I could take a raincheck on it.  Did you really mean that?”
“I already told you I wasn’t a petty person…”
“That’s good…” Xiang Zhe laughed, “Hey, will you reconsider coming over and helping me pack?”  Xiang Zhe tried his luck again.
“In your next life!”
Shan Mei felt her face flush.  Why did she feel so embarrassed just thinking about packing his things for him…?
“I’ll wait a few lifetimes if necessary.” Xiang Zhe said.
 
She saw Song Shuo Mao as soon as she stepped into the lobby and frowned.  Was he waiting for her?
“I want to talk with you.” He said to her.
Shan Mei shook her head, “I still have something to do.” She turned to walk away, but he blocked her escape.
“Please don’t be this way.”
“All I need is a few moments of your time.” Shuo Mao had no intentions of letting her escape.
“Alright, just for a little while.”
Shan Mei gave in.  She got into his car but didn’t realize that just across the road from them, a face that was filled anticipation and happiness had changed completely…..
 
Shan Mei went with Song Shuo Mao to a western restaurant.
“Have you had dinner?” Song Shuo Mao ordered a set dinner of almond encrusted codfish for Shan Mei, telling her that the dish was superb.
Shan Mei sat eating her food.  Shuo Mao watched her silently.  When she finished, he finally started to speak.
“Don’t I even stand a chance?” Shuo Mao was not convinced as he looked at Shan Mei.
“None whatsoever.” Shan Mei’s answer was short and firm.
“If Yin Xiang Zhe wasn’t part of the picture, would that change?”
Shan Mei looked at Shuo Mao in disbelief.  She never expected him to ever mention Xiang Zhe.
“Not a bit.”
“But I can’t forget the times we’ve had together…”
“You will.  You’ve done it before…”
“Shan Mei…”
“I’m not trying to make things difficult…”
She looked at him sternly, hoping that he could hear what she was about to say.
“You are a decisive person.  I could tell when we were together.  I believe you can be just as decisive in love.  Perhaps our chance meeting made you nostalgic, but that is all in the past.  You need to let go of what doesn’t belong to you…”
“You have a wonderful person who loves you.  You need to try and commit all your love to her.  Don’t let your career aspirations get mixed up with your feelings.  I’m sure you can find your own brand of happiness.  I’m sure she has many qualities worthy of your love.  That was the reason you chose her.”
 
While she was eating, she had been thinking of how to tell him all this.  It was easy to give the advice, but very hard to follow it.  She sincerely hoped Shuo Mao would be able to accomplish it.
“You’ve grown up.” Shuo Mao looked at Shan Mei.
She could not tell if he had said it in regret or admiration.
“You grow up quickly when you fall… I’m afraid you’ve never fallen before, haveyou?”
“I’ve just had a fall.” Shuo Mao said painfully.
Shan Mei laughed uneasily.
 
On her way home, Shan Me dropped in at Xiang Zhe’s place.  It was already past 9 and he should already be home.
Xiang Zhe gave her a strange look when he saw her.
“What now?  Aren’t you going to invite me in?” Shan Mei craned her neck to have a peek and teased, “You aren’t hiding another woman in there, are you?.... Hey, are you cooking something?” She could smell kimchi in the air.
 
The was a pot of Kimchi noodles on the stove in the kitchen.
“Is this dinner or supper?” Shan Mei asked.
“I’ve haven’t had dinner yet.” Xiang Zhe said grumpily
“What are you doing?  You asked me if I had dinner at seven-thirty, and you don’t even eat till after nine….What’s the boss at your company doing?  Doesn’t he feed his staff?” Shan Mei nagged.
“It’s got nothing to do with him.  I left work early.”
“Huh?”
“I was waiting for you outside your office, hoping to catch you for dinner.  I…..didn’t managed to catch you.”
“What time was that?’
“Around a bout eight.”
“I left about that time.  Why didn’t you ring me first?”
“I wanted to surprise you.”  He had made reservations at the French restaurant.
Shan Mei sighed, “I really don’t know whether to praise you or to chastise you…”
“What do you have for dinner?” he asked her.
“Almond cod.”
“You ate alone?”
He knew the answer to that, but asked the question anyway.  He really didn’t know what he was trying to prove.
 
Shan Mei hesitated for a moment, then said, “I… ate with a colleague.”
She wasn’t deliberately hiding the truth from Xiang Zhe, she just didn’t want him to get upset.  She knew Xiang Zhe did not like it when she spent time with Song Shuo Mao.  Better to avoid mentioning it if she could, just to keep the peace.  She was already feeling guilty enough over what had happened before, and fully understood Xiang Zhe’s unhappiness with her over Song Shuo Mao.  She knew she shouldn’t have spent anymore time with Song Shuo Mao.
 
He was extremely unhappy that she would hide the incident from him.  However, he didn’t know if he would have felt any better if she DID tell him that she had dinner with Song Shuo Mao.
 
Xiang Zhe silently ate his noodles.
“You’re quiet today.” She put her chin on her hands and scrutinized him.  He was very different today.
“Did something happen at work?” she asked.
“No,” Xiang Zhe shook his head, “It’s late.  Why are you here?”
She looked at him again closely.  His tone of voice was very strange.  In fact, he had acted very strangely ever since she walked through the door.
“I….I’m here to help you pack.” Shan Mei said uncomfortably.
“I can manage.”
Shan Mei was surprised at Xiang Zhe’s cool reception of her suggestion.  A few hours ago, he had still be trying to persuade her to do just that over the phone.  What was wrong with him?  Shan Mei looked at him through the corner of her eye.  His face was stony and grim.
 
Xiang Zhe finished off his noodles, stood up and made his way toward the kitchen.
“You go pack.  I’ll wash the dishes.” Shan Mei said.
“I’ll wash them later.”  He rejected her yet again.
It was obvious that Xiang Zhe was throwing a tantrum over something.  Shan Mei guessed it was probably because he was upset over not having been able to catch her for dinner.  She could fully understand that he would be upset.  After all, he must have waited for her a long time, and ended up eating noodles at this time of night.  However, she had no idea he had been waiting for her, so why was he taking it out on her?
 
Xiang Zhe ignored Shan Mei as he bustled in and out, getting packed.  Although they were physically close, it felt as though there was a million miles separating them.  Shan Mei felt so bad, tears started to well in her eyes.
“It looks like I’m of no help to you…” Shan Mei said, “I’ll go home now.  It’s winter in Australia, so don’t forget to pack some warm clothes… Here’s some medication for you to bring along just in case…” She had dropped by at the pharmacy on her way and bought him some cold tablet and digestive pills which she left on the stand.  “Make sure you go to bed as soon as you finish packing.  You have to get to the airport early tomorrow….”..Saying that, she almost lunged out of the apartment.  Her tears were starting to fall, and she did not want him to see.
 
The door slammed, putting a firm barrier between the two of them.  In the remaining silence, Xiang Zhe began to calm down.
 
He was completely upset at himself.  What was wrong with him?  How could he throw a tantrum at her just like a little boy would?  Song Shuo Mao was her client and a friend.  It was completely natural that they would share a meal once in a while.  She probably hid the fact from him, knowing that he would be upset by it.  Hadn’t he also told white lies to her in a similar way?  He had no basis on which to judge her.  If it had been any other man than Song Shuo Mao, he probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought.  He could not understand why he was so bothered by Song Shuo Mao.  Could it be that  Song Shuo Mao’s confidence had made him feel insecure?  This was already the second time he was mad at her because of Song Shuo Mao.  He was angry at himself.  He though about how she tried to console him; how she gently reminded him to pack warm clothing and brought some medication for him, and regretted his actions.
 
He found her staring vacantly at the pond in the park, her eyes rimmed with red.
“What are you doing here?” she asked.
“I was afraid you might cry.”’
“I’m not crying!”  Shan Mei turned her head forcefully to one side.
“I’m sorry.” He took her hand and apologized.
“I would have waited for you if I had know you were going to wait for me.”  Shan Mei whispered.
He was apologetic, “It’s all my fault.  I shouldn’t have lost my temper at you…”
“I don’t blame you.  You’ve had a busy day, and ended up waiting for me in vain…It’s only natural for you to be upset….However, I feel so terrible when you ignore me like that.  I would rather you shout and scold me instead.” Shan Mei’s tears started again as she spoke.
“I’m really sorry…” he comforted her, “Please stop crying.”
Shan Mei nodded, but could not stop her tears.
“I have a great idea…next time we get upset with each other, we’ll go to the banks of the Han River and have a shouting match.  What do you say?”
Shan Mei laughed through her tears.  What sort of harebrained idea was that?
“No way.  I can never bring myself to shout at anyone.” Shan Mei said, drying her eyes.
“Well!  That’s too easy!...Let me teach you:  You just face the river and shout out <Yin Xiang Zhe, you are a total idiot!>.  That’s easy enough, isn’t it?.”
“Just like that?”
“Yep!  Do you want to try?”
Shan Mei glared at him, “You’re crazy!”
“Is it because you can’t bear to shout at me?”
“Who says?  I was ready to kill you just now.”  She hit him.
“Hey, come back and help me pack.” Xiang Zhe gave her a pitiful look.
“Didn’t you just say you could manage it on your own?”
“Just come and check it for me then!  You know how careless I can be.”  Xiang Zhe cajoled.
“No way.  I’m too tired to walk back there again.”
“Don’t worry…. I won’t make you walk…” Xiang Zhe said as he bent over and picked her up.
“What are you doing..?”  Shan Mei yelped as she hurriedly looked around.  Luckily, there was no one in sight.
“Didn’t you say you were too tired to walk?” Xiang Zhe laughed cheekily.
“No.. I’m no longer tired…. Please put me down!”  she pleaded.
Xiang Zhe had no such intentions.
“Yin Xiang Zhe!  If you don’t put me down, I’ll definitely ignore you…”  Shan Mei threatened.
“I’ll put you down in a minute….. Once I go away tomorrow, it will be more than 10 days before I can see you again….” Xiang Zhe said lovingly.
On hearing Xiang Zhe’s words, Shan Mei’s heart was filled with sweetness and longing.  She wound her arms around his neck, and plastered her face to his chest, and let him carry her home.  She didn’t even bother about the looks from passers-by.  She was doing just what Xiang Zhe said.  Only having eyes for him, and no one else.  Xiang Zhe put her down when they got to the entrance of the park.
 
She helped him finish packing, then insisted that he had to walk her home.
“Didn’t you say you were tired?” Xiang Zhe asked in concern.
“I’m not tired.” She replied.  Shan Mei loved the feeling of eternity that enveloped them whenever they walked home together, hand in hand.
 
Just before bed, she received a call from Huan Hui, and they chatted about their respective love lives.
“You sound like you’re extremely happy!”  Huan Hui, who was having a bout of cold feet, commented.
“You’re right, I’m absolutely blissfull.” Shan Mei replied happily.
 
It was only after she hung up that she regretted saying those words.  It was tempting fate to be announcing your bliss to all and sundry…..
 
*****End of Chapter 30*****

 

 

Chapter 31

 

Written By Jennifer
Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
 
Translated by nho(CA)

 
So Shan Mei returned to the space of time when she had to spend a lot of time delving in research works in school.  She was in her natural element here and felt very happy and very fulfilling, but she had never expected the degree of how busy her work was in the office.  The law reform committee was set up in a hurry and under the lack of mutual recognition among the governmental, educational and legal circles, the text of every article needed to take up a long time to be repeatedly argued and settled, with the meaning of each word carefully prodded into.  All the daytimes were spent in meetings and she also had to handle clients’ cases when she was back in the office in the evenings.  Every day she had to work overtime and could not return home until after midnight.  The worst was that she had to attend review meetings with the officers of the Department of Economic Affairs during weekends and holidays, thereby making the pace of her life chaotic.  When Xiang Zhe returned from Europe and found that Shan Mei was unexpectedly too busy to spare time to meet him on a date, he complained repeatedly.  After more than a month, the operation of the law reform committee could then operate on the right track, but now it was Xiang Zhe’s turn to get too busy to divide his attention.
 
Throughout Chamsung’s new product invention rate was far from ideal and Xiang Zhe who concurrently being the head of the research and development department, had to lead the working team to think painstakingly ways of improving the production lines, however they experienced a bottleneck and could not achieve the desired results.  On the other hand, in order to reduce the risk of relying the source of revenue income mainly on the domestic market and at the same time wanted to raise visibility in the international market, Chamsung had applied to the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the American Stock Exchange for listing in the US markets.  In order to conform to US laws and regulations, Chamsung needed to make significant changes to its accounting system and the corporate governance.  This was the country’s first medium size IT firm to make its listing in Nasdaq so it drew a high degree of attention from the media and the industry and Xiang Zhe regarded this case with high importance and personally supervised the entire work progress.  On the other hand, KMC’s infringement lawsuit was due to be heard in the court.  As expected, KMC had instituted counter claim proceedings and so the whole office of Chamsung had entered into a status quo ante bellum (state of fully prepared for war) and was in close contact with their attorney delegation to discuss countermeasure strategies.  
 
Xiang Zhe had to communicate back and forth between the head office and the factory in Incheon, so very often he just stayed the night in the Incheon factory.  When she phoned him, he often could only have a brief conversation with her before he had to hang up.  It often had to wait until after midnight before the two of them could have a private talk without interruption.  She could well understand and forgive him.  She knew that it was not as if he was not missing her, it was just involuntary on his part.  Sometimes when she was too tired from waiting for his call, she would send him a short message telling him that she missed him very much, but she was too sleepy and could not wait for him and asked for his forgiveness and then she would mail him a heart.  Every time she did it, she would always receive a bunch of red roses filled with his love the next day.
 
Because of their busy schedules, their meeting time become less.  Every time when they dated, Xiang Zhe always pulled out his fingers and haggled over with her on how long since they last met.
 
Today, they arranged to have breakfast together and Xiang Zhe started complaining to Shan Mei.
 
“Last night you fell asleep before I even finished speaking …  I was like an idiot talking to myself to the receiver for quite a while…”
 
“I’m so sorry …”  Shan Mei smiled embarrassingly.  She was really dead tired yesterday.
 
“I feel I don’t hold any appeal to you …”
 
Shan Mei gave an enlightened expression, “No wonder there are no roses this morning …”  Shan Mei pouted her lips on purpose.
 
“You shouldn’t have expected me to break open the door of the florist shop and wake up the owner …”  Xiang Zhe looked guiltless.  The florist shop was still closed early in the morning.
 
“It seems that we don’t have that kind of relationship …”  Xiang Zhe sighed.
 
“What kind of relationship?”
 
“A relationship between boyfriend and girlfriend …  We only see each other once a week …”
 
“It doesn’t look like it is all my fault …”  Shan Mei pouted.
 
“Hey, do you want to change job?”  Xiang Zhe asked.
 
“What?”
 
“We have a vacancy in our legal department …”
 
Because of the KMC case, their legal department staff were all overloaded with work.
 
“Is the pay good?”  Shan Mei mischievously asked.
 
“You only have to state the amount.”
 
Resting her chin on her hands, Shan Mei pondered and smilingly replied:  “It looks very tempting …”
 
“Really?”  Xiang Zhe excitingly drew his body closer.  He really wanted Shan Mei to join Chamsung, as on one hand she could assist him and on the other hand he could always see her, it was killing two birds with one stone.
 
“Leave it, I want to reserve the liberty to argue loudly with you …”  Shan Mei said.
 
“You can’t argue loudly with me if you come working for my company?”
 
“It would look strange …  I would feel that I was quarrelling with my boss …”
 
Both of them burst into laughter simultaneously.
 
 
Xiang Zhe drove Shan Mei to COEX to attend a seminar.
 
“Tonight at 7:00 p.m., … Don’t forget!”  Xiang Zhe reminded Shan Mei when they bade goodbye.
 
His client cancelled tonight’s dinner appointment at the last moment.  He arranged to have dinner with her as it was rare that both of them were free in the evening.  
 
“Two dates in a day, won’t it be too extravagant?”
 
“What?  You don’t want to see me?”  Xiang Zhe feigned a sad expression.
 
“I’m worried that you would be tired of seeing me …”  Shan Mei smiled very sweetly.
 
“I plan on seeing you for the rest of my life …”  Xiang Zhe said with a happy smiling face.
 
 
Shan Mei bumped into Xiang Zhe’s friend, Han Guo Qiang at the assembly hall and someone whom she did not want to see, Song Shuo Mao.  Shuo Mao looked very happy to see her.  He did not bother to socialize with others in the assembly hall, but spent his time around her.  Shan Mei could feel the strange look from Han Guo Qiang.  
 
When the seminar ended, Shuo Mao offered to give her a lift.  She refused but Shuo Mao persisted and neither of them refused to compromise.  
 
“I have already told Lawyer Zhen that I will give her a lift.”  Han Guo Qiang stepped in to save her from embarrassment.
 
“Thank you.”  After they got into the car, Shan Mei thanked Han Guo Qiang.
 
“Is that fellow interested in you?”  Han Guo Qiang asked.
 
“Don’t joke.”  She replied in embarrassment.
 
It was lunch time when she returned to the office.  Shan Mei went directly to the restaurant on the ground floor.  Soon after she sat down, she heard a familiar voice, it was Li Mei Yun, a colleague from the office.  When she was about to stand up and went over to greet her, she heard her name being mentioned.
 
“I heard that there is an inside story of why Zhen Shan Mei was being transferred out from the Gimhae case …”  Li Mei Yun said.
 
Shan Mei’s heart pounded and she raised up her ears to listen.
 
“It shouldn’t be the case?  Isn’t it known that as she has to join the law reform committee that there is a relocation of clients?”
 
The person who was speaking was another one of her colleagues, Zhao Hsin Wen.
 
“That is the official explanation …”
 
Shan Mei started to feel uneasy.
 
“How do you know?”
 
“A friend of mine from Gimhae secretly told me.”
 
“Exactly what has happened?”
 
Shan Mei’s heart was pounding rapidly.
 
“It is rumoured that it was Gimhae who took the initiative to ask Shan Mei to be replaced …”
 
“For what reason?”
 
“It seems that she is not professional enough and lacks ability …”
 
Shan Mei sat where she was, stunned; it seemed as if her brain had received a forceful blow and it was now a piece of blank inside.  She was pulled back to the presence after the waiter called her a few times.  
 
“Maybe Lawyer Jiang just asked Shan Mei to join in the law reform committee as an excuse to replace her.  Otherwise why did he have to ask her as there are plenty of such kind of talents in the office?”  Li Mei Yun’s words fluttered into Shan Mei’s ears.
 
That afternoon, Shan Mei completely could not concentrate in her work.
 
 
At night, Xiang Zhe and Shan Mei arranged to meet in a Thai restaurant.
 
“What do you want to eat?”  Xiang Zhe asked Shan Mei while looking at the menu.
 
This restaurant was referred by one of his friends and it was the first time they came here.
 
For a long time, Shan Mei did not respond.
 
Xiang Zhe raised his head and found Shan Mei starring vacantly at the tabletop.
 
“What’s up?  Are you feeling unwell?”  Xiang Zhe asked with a face filled with concern.
 
“Nothing …”  Shan Mei pulled herself together.
 
“Shan Mei …”
 
“There is really nothing …”  Shan Mei shook her head, “I want to eat julienned green papaya salad and spicy peanut baked chicken …”  Shan Mei pulled herself together, she did not want to dampen Xiang Zhe’s fun.
 
“I heard from Lawyer Cui Xiu Ying that you are no longer responsible for Gimhae’s file?”
 
Xiang Zhe calmly mentioned this matter but could not manage to hide the joy from his face.
 
When Cui Xiu Ying came to deliver the contract this afternoon, she mentioned this matter during their idle chat.  He got very happy without any cause and suddenly realized that he himself was actually very concerned about this matter.
 
Shan Mei’s face turned pale and she lowered her eyes and murmured: “Yes.”
 
From that moment onward, Shan Mei looked preoccupied.  When he talked to her, she was all the time absent-minded.
 
Xiang Zhe was feeling dejected.  Why did Shan Mei change into a different person whenever Song Shuo Mao’s name was mentioned?  Could it possibly be that she was feeling bad for not able to handle Song Shuo Mao’s files?
 
That was the worst dinner she had ever had in her whole life.  Although Xiang Zhe did not say anything, however she knew that he was not too pleased, he was not pleased that she was absent-minded.  She too did not want to behave in that way, but she actually could not withdraw herself from the depression resulting from this afternoon’s shock and accusation.  She really wanted to behave as she usually did and blurted out all her grievances and she really wanted to lean on his shoulder and have a good cry, but she could not only care about her own feeling selfishly every time.  He already had enough vexing problems of his own.  She did not want to trouble him again with this matter; furthermore what could she tell him, should she tell that she was sacked because of her inadequacy?  She too had her pride and self-respect and she was not willing to let him see her weakness every time.
  
Today when she returned from the meeting at the Department of Economic Affairs, Shan Mei went straight into Jiang Zhan Ting’s office.
 
“Has something special happened in this morning’s meeting?”  Jiang Zhan Ting asked.  He thought Shan Mei came to see him because of this morning’s meeting.  He went to court this morning and could not attend the meeting.
 
Shan Mei shook her head, “I want to talk to you on another matter.”
 
She thought things over for a few days and decided to approach Jiang Zhan Ting to get to the bottom of the Gimahe matter.  She did not want to run rashly to interrogate Shuo Mao.  What if what Li Mei Yun said were just rumours, it would be unfair to Shuo Mao.  She looked at the matter very carefully and did not consider herself to have committed any errors, and even if she had something wrong, she too wanted to know what went wrong.
 
Jiang Zhan Ting looked at Shan Mei with questions in his eyes.
 
“Well … You agreed to withdraw Gimhae’s name from my clients’ list.  I heard it was due to my inadequacy?”  Shan Mei forthrightly asked Jiang Zhan Ting.
 
Jiang Zhan Ting frowned; that was the expression he usually wore when he encountered some awkward situation.
 
“Where did you hear that?”
 
Shan Mei did not pay Jiang Zhan Ting any attention, but continued to press for an answer:  “Is it really the case?  … You asked me to join the law reform committee because clients felt that I was not professional enough and requested that I be withdrawn so you just assign me to another job?”
 
Jiang Zhan Ting looked embarrassed.  He signalled Shan Mei to sit down.  He drew in a few smoke before he started to speak:  “These two matters cannot be mixed together …  I got you to join the law reform committee because you have sufficient ability to take on such heavy responsibility.  I need your kind of manpower.  If you think I make such arrangement because of the need to place you in another job, then you are belittling me and also belittling yourself …”
 
Shan Mei looked at Jiang Zhan Ting.  What he said did not fully register with her.  What she wanted to know was Gimhae’s case.
 
“As for Gimhae, …. did you have any disagreement with anyone in Gimhae that has resulted in disconcertment?”  Jiang Zhan Ting’s words without doubt confirmed the authenticity of this matter.
 
Shan Mei dejectedly shook her head.  Apart from Shuo Mao’s matter, she could not remember ever had any disagreement with anyone.
 
“May I know … what have I done wrong?  I want to know …”
 
Jiang Zhan Ting shook his head.  Gimhae’s excuse for laying her off was very inexplicit and he too was not convinced by it, but as Gimhae was one of the office’s important clientele, he had no alternative but to deal with the matter.  He had not spoken to anyone on this matter and planned to resolve this matter satisfactory without trace.  He looked on Shan Mei with high esteem and did not want her to suffer a setback because of this matter.  That day when they discussed about rescheduling her work, Shan Mei mentioned on her own initiative to withdraw from the Gimhae’s file, he just took advantage and delete Gimhae’s name from her clients list.  He absolutely never thought that the matter would have spread out.
 
“There is certainly some misunderstanding involved in this matter … Please don’t take too much to heart.  I don’t want that to affect your performance in your presence job … Everyone in the legal reform committee is praising you … As for Gimhae, I will find an opportunity to speak to them …”
 
Jiang Zhan Ting’s words of comfort and encouragement did not make Shan Mei feel better.  Rumours were already spreading in the office and she could feel the strange look and talks in whispers from her colleagues.
 
Xiang Zhe drove along Dragon Lake Road towards his office.  He had just parted company with Jiang Zhan Ting.  He arranged to meet with Jiang Zhan Ting for dinner to discuss the KMC case.  When he was waiting before the red light, he saw Shan Mei crossing the zebra crossing from a distance and walking towards the direction of the park.  
 
“Shan Mei!”  He called out loudly, but she did not hear; he phoned her, but her cell phone was not on.
 
It was nearly 9:00 p.m., what was she doing going to that direction?
 
Xiang Zhe could not help worrying, so he followed her.
 
Xiang Zhe followed all the way to the park, but the scene before him made him stop, he saw Shan Mei and Song Shuo Mao together!  Did they arrange to meet here?
 
He stayed where he was watching them.  It was a long distance away so he could not hear what they were saying.
 
Shan Mei appeared to be angrily interrogating Song Shuo Mao about something.  He could only see Song Shuo Mao shaking his head vigorously and then Shan Mei appeared to be crying.  At that moment, Xiang Zhe’s heart was burning with fierce jealousy.
 
She should not shed tears before another man, she was her girlfriend.  If she had any grievance, she should pour them all out to him.  His shoulders were always available for her to lean on.  Why did she have to cry before an irrelevant man …; he tried to convince himself with great difficulty to accept the fact that Shan Mei and Song Shuo Mao would occasionally get together because he was her friend.  He also could understood that Shan Mei would appear to be feeling lost when she was no longer acting as legal advisor for Song Shuo Mao’s company, because it was one of her important clients.  When Guo Qiang told him that Song Shuo Mao was over attentive towards Shan Mei during the seminar and urged him to take heed, he also just treated it with a smile.  He would not become narrow-minded and get jealous as it was not the proper behaviour of a gentleman; however the scene before him far exceeded the limit of tolerance he could withstand.  He completely could not accept the fact that she was shedding tears before another man!  She was his girlfriend!  At that moment, Xiang Zhe finally realized that he was not able to really walk out from that barrier in his heart.
 
Xiang Zhe perplexingly and restlessly stared at Shan Mei and Song Shuo Mao and a strange idea began to surface in his mind … Maybe in Shan Mei’s heart, Song Shuo Mao had never been an irrelevant person throughout, he was her first love and first love was heart-engraving.  Shan Mei said this before … So, was the memory of the past between Shan Mei and Song Shuo Mao also heart-engraving?
 
He stood where he was watching the two of them.  He saw them walk one after another towards the direction of the pier.  Were they going to take a boat ride together?  He followed them behind a little further and then stopped.  He was ashamed of his own behaviour, Yin Xiang Zhe, what were you doing?  Even though Shan Mei and Song Shuo Mau were going for a boat ride, so what?  Did it mean that Shan Mei could not take a boat ride with someone other than you?
 
Xiang Zhe forced himself to leave there.  He was feeling vexed.
 
Xiang Zhe parked his car before Shan Mei’s place.  He was waiting for her.
 
He went to play basketball game in the night court for the whole night.  He went all out to snatch the ball and did his best to shoot it in the net.  He gave vent to his feeling fully in the course of the strenuous exercise.  When he had exhaused his last strength and dropped down lying on the ground, it seemed he was feeling not that rotten.  
 
It was very late in the night before Shan Mei returned home.  He guessed she must have taken the last boat ride back.
 
She was astonished to see him.
 
“How long have you been waiting?”  Shan Mei avoided Xiang Zhe’s gaze.  She did not want him to see her swollen eyes.
 
Xiang Zhe did not pay heed to Shan Mei’s question.  He asked her:  “Have you been crying just now?”
 
Shan Mei shook her head saying: “Just some sand getting into my eye.”
 
Shan Mei’s answer made Xiang Zhe very disappointed.
 
He yearned for her to tell him something.  This matter suddenly turned into something very important to him.  He recalled the words of provocation from Song Shuo Mao, recalled how she cried before Song Shuo Mao and felt that Song Shuo Mao appeared to be in the upper hand.  This made him angry, made him jealous and made him feel restless.  He realized his response was very childish and very laughable, but he could not help thinking in this way.
 
“There is really nothing wrong?”  Xiang Zhe asked once again persistently.
 
Shan Mei swiftly looked at Xiang Zhe.  Was he able to see something?  She suddenly had an urge, wanting to tell Xiang Zhe all that had happened during the past few days.
 
“I …”  Shan Mei hesitated.  When she saw the fatigue in Xiang Zhe’s eyes, she changed her mind.  She did not want to add more burden on Xiang Zhe.  She knew Xiang Zhe would not mind sharing some of the burden for her, but she was reluctant for him to waste nonessential thoughts on her.  When she was on her way home just now, she already resolved to let this matter be bygones.  She must concentrate wholly on the work in hand and she would not care what her colleagues discussed behind her back.  She did not know whether she could achieve that, but she would try her best to do it.
 
- End of Chapter 31 –

 

Chapter 32

 

My Dearest One (Qin Ai De Ni) -

By Jennifer

Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
Translated by Jules
 
Activity is the cure for heartache.  Shan Mei threw herself into her work, hoping to lost her pain in the flurry of activity, but in vain.  Rumours of her sacking by Gimhae were running rife through the company.  She knew her colleagues were whispering about her, and the half-pitying, half-despising looks she got from them each time she walked about was almost more than she could bear.  There was even talk that she had managed to get her job only because her father was in the diplomatic service.  There was nothing Shan Mei could say to defend herself, so she gritted her teeth and went about her usual ways during work hours, only crying her eyes out upon returning home each night.
 
In front of Xiang Zhe, she maintained an easy manner and never even mentioned the matter.
 
Shan Mei thought she was doing a good job of pretending that nothing was wrong, but nothing about her escaped Xiang Zhe’s observant eyes: she was distracted whenever they were eating; would stare into space when they  went out; inattentive when watching television; and would often lose track of their conversations when talking.
 
No matter how hard he tried, he just could not get to the bottom of it.
“Are you not feeling well?’  “Did something happen at work?”
Shan Mei’s standard answer would be, “It’s nothing.  I’m just tired.”
She would then get upset with him if he tried to pry any further.
 
Once, when he was taking her home, Shan Mei had completely not heard a word he had been saying to her, and he lost his temper.
“Just what is wrong with you…” Xiang Zhe asked grumpily.
Shan Mei was startled out of her daze, and replied, “I’m just feeling really tired,” in her usual way.
Xiang Zhe, in a fit of temper retorted, “Are you tired because of work, or are you just tired of being with me?”
Shan Mei’s eyes immediately filled with tears, and it took concerted effort by Xiang Zhe before he could calm her down again.
 
Things did not improve even after a month.  Shan Mei could be happy and smiling one minute, and suddenly turn grave and distant the next.  Xiang Zhe could not fathom what had gone wrong between them.  All he could do was watch as the chasm between them widened and Shan Mei become thin and wane in the process.  They had always been completely honest with each other until now….In the middle of the night, Song Shuo Maos’ name suddenly burst into his thoughts.  He had no idea why.
 
On weekend night, Xiu Huan invited Xiang Zhe out for a drink at the pub.
“Surely you’re not also in the bad books like I am?” Xiu Huan asked Xiang Zhe.
Xui Ya Shu had gone with her friends for a tour of Europe.  Xiu Huan, feeling desperately lonely, decided to try his luck and invite his good friend out for a drink.  Unexpectedly, Xiang Zhe was not busy that night, and accepted his invitation.
 
“I thought my invitation would surely be rejected…. Aren’t you going overseas next week?  I thought that you would be spending your time this weekend with Shan Mei.”
Xiang Zhe was going to California the next week to sign an exclusive agreement.
“Shan Mei has been very busy lately.” Xiang Zhe commented dryly.
“Now that you mention it, Shan Mei has been run off her feet ever since she joined that legislative review committee.  My mother was complaining that she had not seen Shan Mei for almost a whole week…”
Xiang Zhe nodded.
“Hey, you should use your authority as her boyfriend to control her a little.  My mother says Shan Mei has lost a lot of weight and is not looking well lately….”
Xiang Zhe sighed.
“What’s wrong with you?” Xiu Huan looked at Xiang Zhe, “Why did you sigh?  I did was ask you to take better care of your girlfriend!”
“You should know what Shan Mei is like.  When she sets her mind to doing something, there’s very little I can do….”
Xiu Huan started laughing.  “And here I was thinking she might listen a little better if it came from you!”
Xiang Zhe had nothing to say.  Right now, he didn’t even have an idea what was in her mind.  He lit another cigarette.
“Oh?  I thought you were cutting down on your smoking…” Xiu Huan smiled.
“What do you mean?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“Shan Mei was telling me how you’ve really cut down on your smoking lately.  I guess that’s just a front you’ve put on for her?”  Xiu Huan looked conspirationally at Xiang Zhe.
Xiang Zhe stubbed out his cigarette.  He had promised Shan Mei that he would cut down.
Xiu Huan looked at Xiang Zhe as he stubbed out his cigarette, “Don’t worry!  Your secret’s safe with me…”
 
“Guess who I bumped into the other day?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“Who?”
“Han Wa Shu”
Han Wa Shu was Xiu Huan’s girlfriend during university days.  They broke up when Xiu Huan went overseas to study in England.
Xiu Huan silently considered the information for a while, then said, “How… how is she?”
Xiang Zhe nodded, “She looks good.”
“Is that so?” Xiu Huan had a drink.  “Is she…married?”
“She’s still single.”
The normally chatty Xiu Huan became quiet and withdrawn once Han Wa Shu was mentioned.
“Surely you’re not still in love with her?”
 
Xiu Huan smiled grimly, “Well, your first love is one you will never forget…”
“Is that how it works?”  Xiang Zhe’s heart contracted.  Xiu Huan’s words echoed what Shan Mei had said to him before.
“If…if she were to come back to you, will you still accept her love?” Xiang Zhe asked.
Xiu Huan grimaced and thought about it for a long time.  “It’s really hard to say….if she were to really come back into my life, I really have no idea what choice I would make….even now, each time I return to our old school and see the places where we spent happy times together, I cannot help feeling nostalgic about those times we had.”
“Don’t you feel like a cheat when you do that?”  Xiang Zhe was a little angry.
“You don’t understand…”  Xiu Huan tried to explain.
“You’re right, I DON’T understand.”  Xiang Zhe interrupted angrily.
“What we shared was so passionate, so strong, so new – the feeling is completely different from now…..it’s a feeling that completely engulfs you…”
Xiang Zhe felt as though someone had punched him in his guts.
 
On Monday morning, Shan Mei went to the airport to see Xiang Zhe off unannounced.
He was delighted and bounded over to her side when he saw her.
“Did you say you had a meeting?”
“I took the day off.” she said.
“Is that alright?” Xiang Zhe asked.
Shan Mei had never missed a meeting of the legislative review committee.
“I’ve delegated this morning’s meeting to Jiang Zhan Ting…”
“You delegated it?  To your boss?” Xiang Zhe asked, utterly surprised.  How could she delegate a meeting to her boss?
Shan Mei declared smugly, “I told him that I would quit if he didn’t let me have the time off…..”
Xiang Zhe smiled.  She seemed to be in an exceptionally good mood today.
“I never thought the lawyer Mr Jiang would ever bow to such blackmail.”
 
Actually, Shan Mei had to drum up the courage to ask Jiang Zhan Ting for the time off.  There was something she wanted to tell Xiang Zhe before he left the country.
 
She had been mulling over their relationship over the last few days.  She knew it was her fault that the atmosphere between them had deteriorated, and felt very sorry for that.  She had been trying very hard not to let her own difficulties affect things between them, but often could not help herself.  She would often become so engrossed in thinking about her own problems, she would even forget his presence; or she would sometimes lash out at him for no rhyme or reason, simply because she had had a particularly bad day.  She could feel that he was often on tenderhooks when dealing with her nowadays.
 
It was already more than a month, but she still could not shake off the shadow of doubt this incident cast on her abilities.  It was almost as if the incident with Gimhae had wiped out all the credibility that she had worked hard at building.  She had no problems with hard work.  What truly bothered her was the fact that the people around her misunderstood her situation.  When she was absorbed in her work, she could forget about it, but once things settled down, the Gimhae affair would invariably come into her mind yet again.
 
“I thought you would be very happy to see me here, but it seems I was mistaken…” Shan Mei pouted.
“Maybe you need to get your eyes checked…” Xiang Zhe said, patting her on the head.  It had been a long time since she teased him like this.
“Your lips only curled up at….15 degrees.”  Shan Mei beamed at him.
“To what extent should my lips move in order to satisfy my lady?”
Shan Mei stretched her fingers behind her ear and grinned, “Your smile should at least be THIS big….”
Xiang Zhe burst out laughing.  Did she know how much he missed having her tease him like this?
 
There was still some time left after Xiang Zhe checked in, so they headed for the café on the second floor of the airport.
Xiang Zhe hadn’t had breakfast, so ordered a portion of French toast.
“I miss having the tuna sandwich that you make…”  Xiang Zhe smiled as he recalled that time where he managed to trick her into coming over early to make breakfast for him.  “And your Ginseng Chicken soup.” He continued.
She looked at the blissful expression on his face and felt even more guilty for the way she had been treating him.  Tears welled up in her eyes.
Shan Mei quickly dried her tears when he wasn’t looking.
Xiang Zhe was very happy and chatted away to her nineteen to the dozen.  She just looked on and smiled.
 
“Do you intend to just sit there in silence until I board the plane?” XiangZhe asked.
She looked at him and hesitated.
“What is it?” Xiang Zhe asked.
She looked at him and whispered, “I’m really sorry.”
Xiang Zhe was stunned.  “Did you take leave from work and come all this way just to say that?” he asked gently.
Shan Mei nodded and looked at him apologetically.  “It’s all because of me that you have been so unhappy these past few weeks…”
“Nothing of the sort…”
“Don’t try to hide it.  I know very well what’s been happening..”
“Is…is there anything I can do to help?” Xiang Zhe asked gently.
“I don’t want to run to you every time I find myself in trouble…”
“Shan Mei…”
Shan Mei shook her head, not letting him continue.  “A long time ago, I fell down, and you helped me up with your words and your CD.”  Shan Mei stopped for a moment.
“This time, I want to be able to pick myself up..”
“Shan Mei…”
“I can’t keep relying on others to help me up…”
“I’m not just anyone…”  he took her hand, “I want to be able share your troubles…”
She looked at him gratefully, tears pouring from her eyes.
“You’ve already shared most of my troubles….” Shan Mei said.
He could not understand.  He had been by her side all this while, feeling completely helpless.
“You tolerated me while I cast you aside; tolerated the way I would lash out at you for no good reason….you were my punching bag when I got angry or upset….You’ve already done too much for me.”
He was reassured by her words.  Even though she seemed to have cast him aside, he had been very much a part of her thoughts.
“I want to be able to do much more than that.” Xiang Zhe said.
“Some things can only be done on your own…just like in basketball.  Even if you had the best coach in the world, you would not be able to win the game if you didn’t put in the effort yourself.”  Shan Mei was convinced, and Xiang Zhe could not move her.
“I’m really alright.  I just need a bit of time to think through some things….”  As she spoke, Shan Mei unconsciously frowned once again.
There was a vacancy in the economics department.  Although it wasn’t her ideal scope of work, the pay and conditions were very good.  If she accepted the position, she would be able to leave all this mess about Gimhae behind her and start over.  However, she wasn’t one to run away from a difficult situation, and taking the position would be just that.  On the other hand, she really didn’t see the point in keeping her current job if this fiasco was going to continue indefinitely.  She was really torn between the two.
 
“Will you cook me some chicken soup when I get back?”  Xiang Zhe smiled at Shan Mei as he was about to head into the departure gates.
Shan Mei only smiled in reply.
Xiang Zhe grinned, “Surely you don’t expect me to get myself injured before being able to taste your cooking?”
Shan Mei chuckled, “What nonsense are you spouting?”
“In that case, can I assume you’ll have it ready for me when I return?” Xiang Zhe asked.
Without giving any thought to the speculative looks around them, Xiang Zhe hugged her tenderly.
 
Shan Mei received a startling phone call from Li Shen Ai on Wednesday afternoon, asking her out for a cup of coffee at a nearby café.
“What can I do for you?”
Other than attending one or two meeting during her project for Gimhae where Li Shen Ai was present, she had never spoken one-on-one with her before.
“There is something I would like to ask of you….Can you please meet with me?.”  Li Shen Ai said.
 
Shan Mei finally agreed to meet her after Li Shen Ai persisted with her request.
“I am not sure if I am in a position to help you, Miss Li.” Shan Mei addressed Li Shen Ai formally.
“I want to talk with you about Song Shuo Mao.” Li Shen Ai dispensed with all formalities and went straight to the point.
Shan Mei was startled, “I am not sure what you mean.  I have nothing to do with Mr Song.”
“Is that so?” Li Shen Ai laughed bitterly, “It was precisely because of you that Song Shuo Mao and I fell out.”
“…” Shan Mei looked at Li Shen Ai in surprise.
“He found out I was the one who sacked you from the project…”
Shan Mei stared in Li Shen Ai in disbelief, “It was you…?”
“That’s right.  It was me” Li Shen Ai smiled grimly, “He was really angry at me, and we had a terrible row…”
Shan Mei looked at Li Shen Ai’s reaction and felt guilty.  She had blamed Song Shuo Mao and gave him a good lashing that day.  He had taken it all without a word in response.
“He said he never expected me to ever do such a thing… he said….he wanted to break up…..” Li Shen Ai looked sadly at Shan Mei.
“He only said that in anger.”
Li Shen Ai shook her head, “He had never ever spoken to me in that tone before….”
Shan Mei could not believe the irony of the situation.  Song Shuo Mao had broken up with her because of Li Shen Ai, and now he had, in turn, threatened to break up with Li Shen Ai because of her!  How could he be so fickle in the face of love?
 
“He would not forgive me, no matter how much I apologized.  He said I had caused you immense harm…”
Shan Mei didn’t even hear what Li Shen Ai had to say, “Can you please explain to me why you gave me the sack?  Was it really because I was negligent and you lost faith in my ability?”  It was the thing that had bothered her all through this incident.
Li Shen Ai laughed bitterly, “If that was really true, Shuo Mao would not have had a reason to get upset with me….”
Shan Mei looked at Li Shen Ai.
Li Shen Ai thought for a moment, then finally said, “It was because I was jealous….I noticed how Shuo Mao looked at you ever since you started working on our account…..I had never seen him look at anyone else in that way.  He even used a different tone of voice when speaking with you….”
“It’s not what you think….”
“Is that so?  Surely you’re not going to deny that you and Shuo Mao knew each other even before you took on our account?”
“We did know each other, but we are only friends and nothing more.  It’s not what you think.”
“I’m no fool.  I can tell from his eyes that there’s more than friendship between the two of you.”
“You’re imagining things….truly, you are.”
“I’m not.  I was, until that time when he was so drunk someone had to check him into a hotel overnight.  When I went to get him, I discovered that he had rung a particular number incessantly the night before.  My curiousity got the better of me, and I ended up ringing that number a few days later.  I reached you on the phone.  It confirmed my suspicions.  If you were really just friends, would he have rung you so many times in one night?”
“What happened between us has long past…” she could only say..
“I don’t think Shuo Mao sees it the same way.  He has kept every single letter you have written to him and hidden them away, just like he has kept his love for you hidden away…”
What on earth are you doing, Shuo Mao?  Shan Mei sighed silently.
 
“It was then I became afraid.  I was afraid that the old love between the two of you would flare up once again.  I asked Dad to get Mr Zhang put in a request for you to be taken off our account.  I never meant for it to be publicized.  I expected Mr Zhang to come up with some minor excuse to request the change, but instead, he cited lack of professionalism.  And I expected the request to remain completely confidential, but it leaked, and lead to Shuo Mao getting completely mad with me….”
 
Shan Mei looked at the anger and hatred in Li Shen Ai, and could not get angry with her.  All she had done was try to protect her relationship.  She could forgive her for that.
“What would you like me to do?” Shan Mei asked.
“Let Shuo Mao completely lose any hope of a relationship with you.”
“I’ve already told you what we had was only in the past.” Shan Mei said firmly.  She had bade farewell to Shuo Mao a long time ago.  Li Shen Ai thanked Shan Mei, and left.
 
After her meeting with Li Shen Ai, Shan Mei came to a decision.  She decided to stay put and ride out the storm.
 
From that day onward, things started to look much brighter.
Shan Mei came to a realization that people sometimes are the ones who makes things hard for themselves.
 
On Saturday, Shan Mei spent the whole day at work.  Xiang Zhe planned to take her to Changjun on Sunday.  Ever since returning from California, Xiang Zhe had been run off his feet.  He was in Pusan attending an investor meeting and would not be back till late.  A few days ago, Xiang Zhe promised he would take the time out to spend with her.  He said he was afraid she might decide to leave him otherwise.
 
After work, she saw Shuo Mao in the lobby.  He had been waiting there to see her.  After hesitating for a while, she decided to accept Shuo Mao’s invitation to dinner.  She owed him an apology, and she intended never to see him again after this.
“Aren’t you afraid that I might yell at you and abuse you?” Shan Mei asked.
“I was just trying my luck. I never expected you to agree to having dinner.” Shuo Mao said, delighted.
“It’s only because I have something to say.”
Song Shuo Mao looked at the serious expression on her face and started to get anxious.
“What…what did you want to say to me?”
“Why didn’t you even try to defend yourself?  You were obviously not the one at fault, why did you just accept all the blame silently?”
“You know about that?”
“Yes, a friend told me.”
There was no point in bringing Li Shen Ai into the picture.  It would only complicate matters.
“I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have blamed you for it.” She apologized.
“It all happened because of me…. It was still indirectly my fault that your reputation had been compromised.  I was willing to take the flak from you.”
Shan Mei pretended she did not see the tenderness in his eyes.
“I’m really hungry…. This steak looks really good.” She changed the subject.
Shan Mei and Shuo Mao had a pleasant meal together, talking and joking.  Shuo Mao had a bit to drink.
 
Shan Mei insisted on footing the bill for the meal.
They walked along the street together.  It was not too late, and there were still many people about.
“I have never had a woman pay for my meal before.” Shuo Mao said.
“You paid for our last farewell dinner, so this farewell dinner should be on me!”
“Farewell dinner?” Shuo Mao stopped in his tracks.
Shan Mei nodded, “That’s right.  It’s a farewell dinner.  After tonight, I don’t intend to ever see you again.”
“You…”
“You need to go your way and return to where you belong…” Shan Mei said.
“Shen Ai came to see you didn’t she?” Shuo Mao looked at Shan Mei..
Shan Mei didn’t know whether to admit that.
“Just what did she say to you?” Song Mao started getting upset.
“She….came to apologize.” It was the best thing Shan Mei could think of to say.
“What’s the use of apologizing?  She shouldn’t have done it in the first place…!” Shuo Mao was furious.
Shan Mei smiled weakly, “Don’t be like that Shuo Mao…I can see she really loves you a lot.”
“I’m really disappointed in her.” Shuo Mao said coldly.
“She was only afraid to lose the one she loves.  If you did give her reason to feel so insecure, she would not have done something like that.”
Shuo Mao smiled bitterly, “You’re saying now it’s all my fault?”
“She said you wanted to break up.”
Shuo Mao looked at Shan Mei, but remained silent.
“It’s a gift from heaven to be able to find true love.”
“Can a sail be completely mended after it has been torn apart?”
“If both parties are sincere and committed to making a change, it is possible for things to go back to where they were before.  Don’t you think the two of you deserve the chance?  How can you give up without even trying?  I don’t think the man I knew could be so heartless…”
Shuo Mao looked at her for a long time and finally asked, “Aren’t you even going to give me a chance?”
“I already have someone else in my heart….there is no one in this world who can take his place.” She said with total conviction.
 
Shan Mei did not reject Shuo Mao’s suggestion that he see her home.
“I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve seen you home.” Shuo Mao commented.
His relationship with Shan Mei was during their student days in London, when she persisted in never allowing him to see her home.
“I guess we were never meant to be…” Shuo Mao regretted, “That Yin Xiang Zhe probably sees you home all the time.”
 
When they got to Shan Mei’s doorstep, Shuo Mao tried, “I guess you don’t be inviting me in?”
Shan Mei laughed.  “Thanks for seeing me home,” she said.
“Thank you for letting me do it!”
“It’s late, you should be making your own way home.” Shan Mei said.
“Alright.” Shuo Mao said reluctantly.
“Do you really mean to never see me again?” Shuo Mao asked, still harbouring a slither of hope.
Shan Mei smiled, “I’m sure we will meet again.”
“When will that be?” Shuo Mao asked hopefully.
“When you get married……if you are willing to send me an invitation, I would be very happy to attend your wedding and wish you the best of happiness with your bride…  Goodbye.”  Shan Mei waved and Shuo Mao and turned to go.
“Shan Mei!”  Shuo Mao ran up to her.
Shan Mei turned around uncertainly.
“Can I please hug you?” Shuo Mao asked.
“Huh?”
Shuo Mao pulled her into his arms even before she could say no…..
 
*****End of Chapter 32*****

 

Chapter 33

 

My Dearest One

Written By Jennifer
Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
 
Translated by nho(CA)

 
Xiang Zhe stepped hard on the accelerator pedal until the car was running on the freeway, trying to toss everything to the back of beyond, but his state of mind was still in turmoil.  He was shattered by the scene he had just witnessed.
 
He saw Song Shuo Mao embracing Shan Mei tightly in his arms!
 
At that moment, he only felt there was a loud explosion in his head.  His instinctive response was to run away in a panic.  He nearly fled from there and he could not stay there for another second longer.
 
Xiang Zhe did not go home, just drove his car around aimlessly.  He drove on and on until he realized that he had driven his car to Shan Mei’s place again.  He revealed a hint of bitter smile.  He raised his head and looked at the direction of Shan Mei’s bedroom.  The light was out, had she gone into asleep?  He gazed at that room which had at numerous times given him hope and fantasy and his heart was hurting inch by inch …  The matter which often perplexed his mind since the appearance of Song Shuo Mao, was it indeed happening now?
 
He did not doubt that she loved him, but he could not help thinking about the fact that maybe deep inside a corner of her heart there existed the presence of another man.  In Brighton at the time when she accepted his affection, she said the past had become bygones and he never doubted those words were from her heart, but when she was faced with Song Shuo Mao’s ardent pursuit once again, had that engraving memory that belonged to the two of them alone surfaced again? …  Since recently, she always looked preoccupied and worried.  The matter which she said she needed time to think about, was it about making a choice between him and Song Shuo Mao and was it the reason why she was hurting so much?  He did not want, but could not help believing this was the actual fact.  Even someone as calm and rational as even Xiu Wei could not forget Han Jia Wen for a moment, not to say Shan Mei was such a perceptual and exquisite person …
 
Xiang Zhe turned to look at the pack of spicy rice cakes left sitting cold on the seat next to him and a bitter feeling arose from his heart.  That was what he specially made a detour to Sindang to get as Shan Mei loved the spicy cakes from there.
 
He missed her exceptionally today and he could not wait until tomorrow to see her, so he left the closing reception early and caught the last flight back to Seoul.  What actually greeted him was the scene which pierced his heart, why had things progressed to this stage?  Why ….
 
After switching off the light, Shan Mei sat down on her bed with arms around her knee, pondering on what had just happened.
 
Shuo Mao abruptly embraced her.  She was too stunned to respond until a long while later.
 
“Song Shuo Mao, you don’t have the right to do that.”  She angrily pushed him away and pushed him out of the door.  She simply got driven mad by him.  Didn’t he know what he was doing?  Couldn’t he maintain a clear head even when he had drunk?
 
Shuo Mao phone and apologized, “I’m sorry.  I have gone too far.  I don’t know what has happened to myself.”
 
She treated him with silence.
 
“I will never harass you again.  Thank you for giving me such a beautiful interlude in my life … I wish someday you can be friend with me again.”
 
Before she could open her mouth and speak, he had already hung up.
 
She felt that Shuo Mao was sincere in his apologies.  Her anger towards him dissolved and was replaced with regrets.  She had never thought they would resort to this method of bidding each other goodbye …
 
The wall clock in the sitting room struck one.  It was 1:00 a.m. in the early morning.  Should Xiang Zhe be back home by now?  He did not phone her, Shan Mei thought.  It must be too late in the night and Xiang Zhe was afraid to wake her up from her sleep that he did not call.  On a sudden impulse, Shan Mei picked up the phone and dialled a few numbers.  She laughed, “You are missing me that much?”  Xiang Zhe would certainly tease her this way.  She put down the phone and crept inside the quilt with a face full of smiles.  Just a few more hours and she could see him again.
 
In the early morning, Shan Mei received a call from Zhao Hsin Hui.
 
“Hey, last night’s spicy rice cakes were certainly very delicious?”
 
“What spicy rice cakes?”  Shan Mei listened in bewilderment.  
 
“You are still play-acting?”
 
“What do you mean?”
 
Hsin Hui felt that Shan Mei was not pretending and said gloomily:  “It’s strange, I clearly saw him buying the spicy rice cakes …”
 
“Who was buying the spicy rice cakes?”  Shan Mei asked.
 
“Yin Xiang Zhe!”
 
Shan Mei was getting more confused.
 
“Last night Xue Ren and I went to have a night snack in Sindang and saw Yin Xiang Zhe buying the rice cakes from the shop across the road …”
 
“You must have mistaken him for someone else.”
 
“Impossible!”  Hsin Hui said decisively.  “For someone I may be mistaken, but for Xiang Zhe it is absolutely not possible, unless he has a twin brother.  Right, that man was also driving a black BMW …”
 
“Really?”  Shan Mei was no longer that certain herself.  Hsin Hui’s recognition skill was always good and it was really not possible for her to make a mistake.
 
“You really have not eaten the rice cakes?”  Hsin Hui still had a little doubt.
 
“No.”
 
“Darn!  He would have brought them for another girl?”  Hsin Hui alarmed Shan Mei on purpose.
 
“No, he wouldn’t have!”  Shan Mei was very confident.
 
“Hey, go and quickly phone him up to interrogate him and see what he has to say … Xue Ren was nagged by me for a long while in the car last night because of this matter and I complained that he was not attentive enough …”
 
On the way to Xiang Zhe’s place, Shan Mei thought happily that Xiang Zhe would certainly have bought that pack of spicy rice cakes for her, as he did not like them; it must be that when he saw that her light was off, he thought she must have gone to sleep and he was reluctant to wake her up.  This idiot, if she knew that he was coming, she would have waited for him no matter how late it was … She was smiling and thinking at the same time and her heart was brimming with sweetness.  Looking at her watch, it was only past 7:00 and at this moment, Xiang Zhe would certainly be still sleeping.  An idea occurred to her.  First she went to the bakery to get a half loaf of freshly baked bread, then she went to the market to buy onion and cucumber.  She wanted to make breakfast for Xiang Zhe.  She planned to make tuna sandwiches; he always said that he wanted to eat the tuna sandwich she made …  Also, she wanted to make a good pot of coffee to have him holding her in high esteem.  If God was on her side, she may be able to have everything ready before he woke up, then he could eat the breakfast she prepared for him as soon as he opened his eyes … Shan Mei was getting proud and satisfied and was so happy that she burst out laughing.
 
Shan Mei was greatly disappointed; Xiang Zhe unexpectedly was not at home and the bedding in his bedroom looked as if it was never touched before.  If Xiang Zhe’s hand luggage was not placed on the floor, she would have thought he did not hurry back last night.
 
Where had he gone so early in the morning?  He wouldn’t have gone to look for her?
 
She called him on his cell phone, but there was only his voicemail.  Xiang Zhe did not have his cell phone on.
 
Maybe Xiang Zhe had gone out to have breakfast or maybe that he had gone out for some exercise.  He should be back in a while.  They had a date today and he would not forget it.  She waited for him in the sitting room.
 
Shan Mei saw the cigarette butts in the ashtray and frowned.  The night before yesterday, she went to the laundry shop to pick up Xiang Zhe’s clothings for him and the ashtray was empty then.  Had he been smoking these last night?  One, two, three … Xiang Zhe had in total smoked four cigarettes and Shan Mei could not help getting angry.  Had he been smoking all night instead of going to bed?  Did he know how much it was hurting his health?  He clearly promised her that he would smoke less!  Later, she would need to tell him off.
 
It was 10:00 a.m. and there was still no sight of Xiang Zhe and she was unable to get in touch with him.  Shan Mei began to worry.  Xiang Zhe had never behaved like this.  Even though he was too busy to spare time, he would always give her a call.  Could it be that something wrong had happened?  Shan Mei started to entertain foolish idea.  She called him at his office, at the factory in Incheon, but the answering machines were being switched on during weekends and it was absolute not possible to get any explanation.  She thought maybe something had happened to Grandma and Xiang Zhe had to hurry back to Gyeongju.  So she made a call there, but Grandma said Xiang Zhe would not be going home until the coming Monday.
 
Shan Mei felt extreme uneasy and could not just wait at home doing nothing but getting more exasperated and anxious, so she decided to visit several places where Xiang Zhe often frequented to try her luck there.  She went to the nearby park, to the basketball court, to the embankment where they often ate their lunch, to the places where he and his friends liked to meet.  She even went to his office and throughout the whole day, she spent her time back and forth searching for him and all were in vain.  Exactly where he had gone?  Why didn’t he say anything?  Didn’t he know she was worried?  She was both angry and worried.
 
When it was dusk, Shan Mei went back to Xiang Zhe’s place, utterly exhausted.  She was feeling hopeful that Xiang Zhe may have gone home by now but again she was disappointed..  She heated up the pack of spicy rice cakes that had been lying on the dining table and ate them.  She did not know whether it was because the rice cakes were last night’s that they had become stale and lost their flavour or it was due to her bad mood that those rice cakes tasted a lot worst than before.  She continued to wait for him, waiting until near 10:00 p.m. before she went home.  She left him a note, asking him to call her when he got home.
 
It was past 11:00 p.m. when Xiang Zhe came before Shan Mei’s place.
 
After a whole night and a whole day, the heart-wrenching decision which he made was totally shaken after he read her note.  He was reluctantly to let her go; she was the most important person in his life!
 
He stood under the porch, hesitating whether to ring the doorbell.
 
He stood there, recalling the scene he witnessed last night.  He felt nearly suffocated and he almost turned around and ran, but he really wanted to see her too much.
 
When Shan Mei appeared before him, he tightly pulled her into his arm, as if she would vanish out of his sight at any time.
 
She let him hold her and she was feeling both happy and angry; she was happy that he was standing before me safe and sound, but she was angry that he disappeared without trace for one whole day.  Did he know how long this day was to her?
 
“Where have you been … I have been looking for you for the whole day.”  Shan Mei said, choking with sobs.
 
“I … was in the factory.”  Xiang Zhe felt very guilty.
 
He actually spent the whole day on the seafront of Incheon.  He was feeling so chaotic that he completely forgot about going to Chuncheon and he just remembered about it when he read the note.
 
Shan Mei felt so discouraged.  From the start, Xiang Zhe did not take to heart about spending time with her today, he only agreed to do so without any intention of fulfilling his promise.
 
“You didn’t leave words and didn’t even give me a call …”  Shan Mei grumbled.
 
Xiang Zhe remained silent for a while and said:  “I’m sorry … There is something I need to think about very carefully.”
 
Hearing this, she was worried, had he encountered something very sticky?
 
“I am only worried about you …”  Shan Mei softly.  She did not want to haggle with him about his failure to make their date, nor did she want to haggle with him about smoking too much.
 
“Did you wait for me long?”  Xiang Zhe asked.
 
“No … I waited for you for just a little while …”  Shan Mei lightly said.
 
He looked at her apologetically.  He knew she told him this because she did not want him to feel bad.  The caretaker told him that she came to his place early in the morning and had waited for him for the whole night.
 
“Didn’t I ask you just to give me a ring?”  Shan Mei’s heart ached for him; he looked so weary.
 
“I saw your note and could not help rushing here …”
 
His words made the grievances and feeling of loss in her heart all vanished into thin air.  
 
She said she would accompany him home.
 
“No, it’s too late …”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“I insist.”  Shan Mei behaved stubbornly like a child.
 
He looked at her in puzzlement.  Her thoughtfulness and perseverance towards him made him believe that he still occupied an extreme important position in her heart.  However, what position did the other person rank in her heart?
 
“Why are you looking at me this way?”  Shan Mei asked.  The way Xiang Zhe looked at her seemed as if she had said something strange.
 
Xiang Zhe smiled, “I’m just worried that you would fall asleep midway and how am I going to carry you back?”
 
“What! …”  She glared at him.
 
Shan Mei was in a good mood and suggested walking through the park.  It was late in the night, there were only the two of them in the park.
 
“It’s so tranquil!  It seems that we haven’t been here so late in the night before …”  Shan Mei said.
 
Xiang Zhe smiled.  Before he met Shan Mei, he had never been here before and now it had become a place he would certainly come every week.
 
“Let’s sit down for a while?”  Shan Mei said.
 
“Aren’t you tired?”
 
Shan Mei shook her head.  For whatever reason, she felt that tonight was one of the most precious day in her life.  Perhaps it was because she had been yearning for him for the whole day before she saw him.
 
“Was that bowl of spicy rice cakes delicious?”
 
“Darn, you have found  out …”  Shan Mei laughed, “How come you thought of buying that?”  Shan Mei asked.
 
“Erh … I drove past Shindang last night.  Originally I wanted to get them for a night snack, but I fell asleep midway when I was reading a magazine …”
 
“Oh!”
 
Shan Mei was a little disappointed.  At first she hoped to hear him telling her that he bought them especially for her.
 
“Can you confide in me?”  She asked him.
 
“What?”
 
“You just mentioned that there was something troubling you.”  She wanted to see whether she could be of help.
 
He gave her a look and said:  “It’s only something in the office …, nothing special.”
 
Shan Mei nodded sympathetically.  He did not want to let her worry and she would not try to force him.  Didn’t she act in the same way?  She recalled what had happened to herself recently.
 
“Have you thought of any resolutions?”  She asked him.
 
“Not yet …”  Xiang Zhe said miserably.
 
“Then … Keep fighting?”
 
“Yes …”  Xiang Zhe forced a smile on his face.
 
 
“What a pity!  Tonight’s moonlight shadowed the brilliance of the stars.”  Shan Mei looked up at the sky.
 
Since she was young she loved watching the stars more than the moon, as the moon’s different facets gave a feeling that human affairs were variable.
 
“Xiang Zhe …”
 
“Huh?”
 
“Why does a man sometimes not know where his true heart lies?”  Shan Mei said with a reason.
 
Xiang Zhe’s face turned pale.
 
“When he obviously already finds someone ready for marriage, but after he meets with his former love again, he cannot extricate himself and has fallen in love with his former love …”
 
Xiang Zhe suddenly released Shan Mei’s hand he was holding.
 
Shan Mei was telling about what happened between Song Shuo Mao and Li Shen Ai, but he thought she was talking about her and Song Shuo Mao’s affairs.
 
Shan Mei completely failed to notice that something was wrong and continued:  “Even though it is difficult to judge what is right and wrong in love, one just can’t selfishly hurt someone who is also in love with oneself in order to exchange for one’s own happiness!  With a guilt bearing life, how can one become really happy …”
 
 
“It’s too late, let me take you home!”  He abruptly cut off her words.
 
“We are nearly there …”  Shan Mei was a little reluctant.
 
“Let’s go!”
 
Xiang Zhe turned back and walked, his steps were big and fast.
 
Shan Mei was stunned, she could not make out why Xiang Zhe suddenly changed his mind.
 
“Wait for me …”  She followed him.
 
 
When they parted company, he told her that he was going to the States to lead the investors conference for the issuance of the depositary shares and would not return until more than ten days later.
 
“When did you change your plan?”  Shan Mei was very surprised.  Xiang Zhe initially told her that Jiang Yu He would be representing the company.
 
“The lead agent wants me to attend …” Xiang Zhe said.
 
He was sorry that he had to lie to her, but at this moment he really needed to be on his own to think clearly about what happened between them.  He knew that he needed only to hold on to her tightly for her to remain with him, but was it also the best choice for Shan Mei?  He did not wish that she chose him because of a guilty conscience.  He hoped that she chose to be with him because he was her only love.
 
Half a month later, Xiang Zhe returned.  From then on, he immersed in his work.  Apart from the matters which required his attention in Seoul, he nearly spent of his time in the factory in Incheon and even weekends were no exception.  She grumbled about the state of his busy schedules, he just said there were some faults in their new products that required urgent rectification, or else clients would withdraw the order.  Every time she saw him, he was either in deep frowns or was in a hurry.  All she could do was to hide her thoughts of him and tried her best not to disturb him.  So for nearly a whole month, the time they met could be counted with her fingers.  Even though she was not a clinging type, sometimes she unavoidably felt that the distance between them were too far apart.  The distance between Seoul and Incheon was not more than an hour away and instead she felt that he and she were separated by the great distance like the earth and the moon and it was like what Xiang Zhe had said before that they did not act like boyfriend and girlfriend.  Every time she met with Xiang Zhe, she felt both sweetness and torture; it was sweet because she could nestle close in his warm bosom, it was tortuous because it had been so long since he came looking for her and she was missing him every day.  Sometime she would think foolishly that maybe as she had neglected him for a while lately that she was now getting the retribution.
 
She could not help telling Hsin Hui about her thoughts and Hsin  Hui said:  “Haven’t you ever heard that behind every successful man, there is always a woman who contributes and pays out without complaints and regrets …”
 
However, she did not want to be that kind of woman.
 
 
One Sunday afternoon, Shan Mei phoned Xiang Zhe.
 
“Are you free next Saturday night?”  She asked him.
 
She wanted to ask him early so that he could arrange to make himself available.  That day was his birthday and she missed his last year’s birthday.
 
“Anything special?”
 
Listening to Xiang Zhe’s reply, Shan Mei was very depressed.  This seemed to be the words he often said to her recently.  He always used an apologetic tone of voice when he spoke to her, he had to attend a meeting, he had to entertain some important clients, or there were something urgent in the factory that needed his attention.  She would always understandably reply that it was alright and then would hang up with a heavy heart.
 
After she had experienced love, she changed and did not like loneliness.  Before she often did things on her own, like eating on her own, watching a movie on her own, touring on her own, but now she hated that feeling of loneliness.
 
“I don’t care!  That night you have to be available for me.  I have something important to tell you.”  She purposely exaggerated the importance of the matter and she decided not to give in to him this time.  
 
Something important?  Xiang Zhe’s heart tightened up, was it that matter?
 
“OK!”  Maybe it was time to face reality, Xiang Zhe thought.
 
During the past month, he used different kind of excuses to hide from Shan Mei.  Sometimes he was really very busy, but sometimes he was trying to test her, testing to see whether she really cared about him.  Shan Mei’s responses made him very disappointed.  She always accepted his every excuse without complaint.  She made him feel that she did not care about him very much.  He wished that she could lose her temper with him, protesting that he was neglecting her, however she never said anything.  Were they really at the end of their road?  Xiang Zhe sadly thought.
 
 
Shan Mei made a booking at one of the French restaurant in Apgujeong.  The piano performance there was very good.
 
“It’s my treat tonight.”  Shan Mei said.
 
“OK.”  Xiang Zhe did not refuse.
 
Shan Mei glanced at Xiang Zhe.  Normally he would refuse to let her pay.  Could it be that he remembered his own birthday?  She looked at him up and down and felt that it was unlikely.  According to her plan, the surprise had to wait until after the dinner.  
 
“What do you want to eat?”  She asked him, looking at the menu.
 
“You make the decision.”  Xiang Zhe was absent-minded.
 
Shan Mei ordered the dishes Xiang Zhe loved and also ordered the wine he loved.
 
Xiang Zhe ate his dinner with something weighing on his mind.  This maybe their last happy memory they had together.   He waited for her to speak, to put a stop to their relationship.
 
Shan Mei observed Xiang Zhe all the time.  He looked as if there was something on his mind.  Shan Mei began to feel remorseful, perhaps she should not have forced him to come to this dinner.  It might be that he really had to attend to some important matter.  She could use another way to help him celebrate his birthday.  
 
“Am I holding you up from something important?”  She asked fretfully.
 
“No.”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
After dinner and the dessert was served, Shan Mei still did not open her mind and talk.
 
He gazed at her face, and felt a excruciating pain in his heart.  How was he able to forget her?
 
Couldn’t you open your mind and talk?  Shan Mei …
 
Xiang Zhe secretly sighed, rather than letting her to feel guilty and to be in a dilemma., it would be better for him to settle matter.
 
He loved her, but he did not want to let her lose her smiling face and put her in a dilemma just because of his reluctance to let her go.  It was sufficient for him just to know that she was happy.  To love someone did not mean to possess her but to make her happy.  He rather suffered himself and wished that she would be happy.  Sometimes he hated himself for inheriting his mother’s character traits.  If he was not like this, he could just consider his own feeling and selfishly keep her with him.
 
Shan Mei looked at her watch, it was about time.
 
She raised her head looking at him, “Xiang Zhe … I have something to tell you …”
 
Xiang Zhe’s heart struck, was she going to speak her mind?
 
“Well …, I …”  Shan Mei prevaricated.
 
He interrupted, “I also have something to tell you …  If you don’t mind, can I say it first?”
 
If he spoke first, she would not need to feel guilty towards him.
 
“OK … you first.”
 
Was he going to say some honeyed words to her?  Shan Mei’s heart started to smile.
 
Xiang Zhe lowered his eyes and heartbrokenly uttered the words that betrayed his genuine feeling.
 
“Recently I have been pondering over our relationship …”
 
Shan Mei’s heart began to palpitate, what was he going to say to her …
 
“I think I am more suitable to live a single life … Love to me seems to be a burden, a hindrance …”
 
Shan Mei’s smile froze.  She looked at Xiang Zhe, astounded.  He … what was he saying?  He said … love to him was a form of burden, a form of hindrance … Did he mean that her love for him was a bondage? … She looked at Xiang Zhe unbelievingly.  He looked very serious.
 
At that moment, Xiang Zhe’s face suddenly became very unfamiliar.  She felt as if she did not really know him.  Then she heard him say:  “Recently a lot has happened in the office.  If I could have paid more attention to them, these problems would not have arisen.  I don’t want to let emotional matters interfere in my work … I want to devote to my work without any distraction, just like what it was before … You …, do you know what I mean?”
 
She looked at him, her lips trembling …
 
She understood what he meant, he wanted to split up with her.  She felt her heart had been stabbed with a knife and it was now bleeding.
 
“Is today April Fool’s Day?”  She forced a smile and asked him.  That smile was very bitter and very reluctant.  She harboured some hope that he was only cracking a some joke with her.
 
“Shan Mei …”
 
She could see from his eyes a hint of guilt.
 
“I’m sorry …”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
Shan Mei lowered her head, trying her best to keep the tears in her eyes.  She did not know how long she could control herself.  The things on the table were getting blurrier and she did not want to cry before him.  
 
“It’s me who should apologize.  It’s me who is not good enough and I let myself become a burden to you …”  She never knew that she could unexpectedly put up  such a strong front.
 
“No, it’s not you, it’s my problem.  A man like me is not qualified to speak of love.  I have known it from the start …”
 
He did not dare to lift up his head to look at her.  He was afraid he would not be able to hide his true heart.  In that case, they would each other be falling into the whirlpool of pain and suffering again.  Rather than to have both of them suffer, it would be better for him to bear the suffering alone!
 
Silence stood between them; after a long long time, Shan Mei started to speak, “Are these words from your heart?”
 
“I …”  Words choked in his throat.
 
“Can you look at me when you answer?”
 
“They are words from my heart …”  Xiang Zhe suppressed the turbulent emotion in his heart and forced himself to reply cruelly, “I’m sorry to break your heart, but I don’t want to waste your time.”
 
She looked at the expression he studiously put on and her heart was hurting too much that she wanted to cry.  His eyes could not lie to her.  She knew he was still in love with her.  At that moment, she hated herself … She was really worthless, she was a lousy girlfriend.  Her love constrained him; her love put a burden on him … She was so worthless that he was not even willing to give her an opportunity to stay by his side and he preferred to drive her away …  If that was the case, she was willing to go, she loved him and she wanted him to be happy.  She was willing to give him back a world with no constraint and no burden.  She had promised herself once that she would never ask him to choose between her and his work.  From the very beginning she knew that work occupied the most important position in his life.  If he wanted her to vanish, then she was willing to fulfil his wish.  She was very sorry, sorry that she could not be the one woman who could bring him joy and happiness.
 
Her pale face broke his heart.  He knew she too could not cast him away, but the world of love could never tolerate three people.  If no one was willing to withdraw, it was doomed that everyone would suffer and he did not want her to be in an awkward position.
 
“Don’t be sad, Shan Mei, things would pass in a hurry.  From now on, you don’t have to worry about me, just walk straight to that person.  You have that person to protect you and you will forget me soon.  I want you to be happy, Shan Mei … “  He said silently to himself.
 
“Have you finished what you want to say to me?”  Shan Mei’s voice sounded so calm that it astonished even herself.
 
He was surprised by her calmness.  
 
 
Shan Mei waved for the waiter to come over to settle the bill.
 
“Let me pay it!”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“It’s agreed that I will pay.”
 
 
In the lobby, he asked her:  “You said you have something to tell me?”  He thought maybe he had said those words for her.
 
“It’s no longer important.”  Shan Mei shook her head.  She only wanted to tell him that she was going to play a song on the piano.  She was afraid that she would slip up and wanted to invite him to keep her company, to lend her support.  In order to be able to play the piano for him in his birthday, she had been secretly practising hard.
 
“I will leave first …”  Shan Mei said.
 
“I will drive you.”
 
“There is no need!”
 
She quickly walked to the door.  There was no way that she could hold on much longer.  The rolling tears in her eyes would be flowing down any minute …
 
At the instant when she was walking through the door, the sound of the birthday song music was heard playing at the back.  That was what she specially requested the musician to play.  Her tears started to fall down … Originally all the pleasant surprise would have started from that.
 
Xiang Zhe followed outside.  He accompanied her to wait for the car.  How she wished that he would tell that he was cracking a joke just now.
 
The car arrived quickly and Shan Mei hurriedly jumped in.  She did not say goodbye to Xiang Zhe as there was no way that she could face him.  In the car, tears gushed forth.  She turned her head to look at him through the car window and he gradually got far away from her line of vision.  
 
“Happy birthday!  Xiang Zhe …”  She choked with sobs reciting the blessings for his birthday, no matter whether he could hear or not.  She had never thought that this was her first time and also the last time she celebrated his birthday for him …
 
 
- End of Chapter 33

 

Chapter 34

 

My Dearest One (Qin Ai De Ni)

By Jennifer
Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
Translated by Jules
 
Xiang Zhe stayed with Shan Mei as they waited for a taxi along the road.  How he wished the taxi would not come so he could look at her for a little longer.  Shan Mei did not say a word.  He didn’t know what to say either.  Any words would have been meaningless anyway.  He watched in desolation as her taxi disappeared into the night.  Except when his mother passed away, he had never felt so sad before.  He only remembered that it was his birthday when his grandmother rang him later that night.  What a way to spend a birthday – letting the woman he loved so deeply just walk out of his life like that…..
 
No…she would not just walk out of his life.  She would always remain a part of him, in his heart.  Xiang Zhe spent the rest of the night throwing alcohol into this stomach.
 
Three days later, Xiang Zhe managed to find an excuse to visit Shan Mei’s office to discuss the KMC case with Jiang Zhan Ting.  He was worried about Shan Mei.  She had kept a very brave front that night, and did not even shed a single tear.  That was so different from her usual teary self, and he got more anxious over this as he thought it over.  He deliberately took a route that would pass her desk, but she wasn’t there.  She still wasn’t there on his way out after the meeting.
 
“Is Miss Zhen away from the office?  Why can’t I see her anywhere?” Xiang Zhe finally asked Jiang Zhan Ting, his curiousity getting the better of him.
 
“Miss Zhen has been on sick leave the past two days.  Once she is sick, I end up with the short end of the stick, and have to take on all the work at the economic board as well…” Jiang Zhan Ting said.
 
After work, Xiang Zhe made his way to Shan Mei’s home.  Shan Mei was home as the lights were on.  He hesitated for a long time before dialing her number.  The phone rang for a long time before it was picked up.
 
“This is Shan Mei…” he heard that sweet familiar voice say.  Her voice was very nasal.
“It’s me.” He said.
“I know.” She replied.
She had looked at his name on the caller-id panel for a long time before deciding to finally pick it up.
 
Shan Mei was silent for a while, then asked, “What is it?”
“I heard you were sick…” Xiang Zhe stuttered.
“I….caught a cold.” She replied curtly.
“Are you feeling better?”
Shan Mei’s heart constricted.  The tears that she had just managed to stem, started flowing yet again.  She had cried constantly over the last two days, and her eyes were completely swollen, and her throat hoarse.  There was no way she could go out in this state.
“Thank you, I’m much better.” She then coughed to hide the sound of her tears.
“That’s good…”
She felt comforted, know that he still cared.
“Where are you?”
He looked up at her window, then said, “In the office.”
After that, they both hung on the line with nothing more to say.
 
“You…are you mad at me?” Xiang Zhe finally asked.
She could not answer the sudden question.  She was too busy feeling sorry for herself.
After a long while, she finally replied, “At least I know it’s not because you no longer lover me….”
That was the only thing that she consoled herself with these past days.
Bitterness welled up in Xiang Zhe, “Shan Mei…” he whispered her name.
“It’s alright.  I’ve always known that I took second place in you heart…”
She regretted saying it the minute the words left her mouth.  It sounded like she was blaming him for it all.  She really had no gripes with him.  She was only angry at herself.
Xiang Zhe remained silent for a long time.
“Is there anything else?” her eyes were filled with tears as she asked him.  She was grateful that she didn’t have to face him, so she did not have to try and hide her pain.
 
“No, there’s nothing else…. I just wanted to make sure…”  he could not bear to hang up, but he could not just keep hanging on either.
“Thank you.”
“Shan Mei…” he stopped her yet again.
“Hmm?”
“Promise me you’ll take good care of yourself?”
Her heart constricted yet again, and tears washed down her face.
“I will…I’ve been through this before.  Besides, I’ve still got that Kevin Kern CD…” she tried to lighten the mood.
Her words pierced his heart.
“Shan Mei…” Xiang Zhe could not help himself.
“Goodbye.” She hung up before he could even reply.
After that, picked up the watch on her bedside table and cried.  She had bought him the dual watch as his birthday present, so that he could have both Korean time and local time available to him during his travels, and would not have to rack his brains over when was a good time to ring her.  She didn’t give it to him that night, and probably would never get the chance again.
 
She had been mortally wounded yet again, just as her old wounds were starting to heal.  The pain was almost unbearable.
Shan Mei drowned her sorrows in work, not giving herself any time to think of him.  However, his image was already carved into her heart, and the more she tried not to think of him, the more difficult it was to get him out of her heart.  On her way home from work, she would often remember how he rode the bicycle with her in the neighbourhood, looking for suitable accommodation.  They had rode past through the little alleyways, and past the brightly lit main roads.  She had sat in the back with her arms around him and her face against his back, listening to the beat of his heart.  As the night fell, she would move over to the front of the bicycle and sit on the crossbar, with her head on his chest, listening to him whisper sweet nothings in her ear.
 
Once he told her, “You’re really confident of yourself.”
“Why do you say that?” she didn’t understand.
“You’ve never ever asked me “how much do you love me?” or anything like that…”
“Someone once said, when a woman starts to ask a man thata sort of question, she’s lost the battle for sure…”
He laughed at her answer, “So…it was actually because you were afraid to lose…”
“Wrong!  It’s because I trust you completely.” She countered.
 
She had never ever doubted his love for her.  She had no idea why she felt that way.  Was love really blind after all?
 
Sometimes, she would miss him so much her heart would physically ached.  She would then take her bicycle out and ride through the routes that they had ridden through together and let the sweet reminiscence heal her pain.
 
Once, when she went to the bookshop to buy some magazines, she saw a familiar figure standing at the bookshelves reading.  She did not know whether to say hello or to run and hide, so she just stood there like a fool.
“Can you please excuse me, Miss.” A man’s rude tone started her out of her stupor.  Before he could even turn around, she had fled the scene.
She spent the rest of the day completely in a daze.
 
She did not mention anything about Xiang Zhe to her family.  Each time Auntie asked, she would evade the question, and Auntie merely though it was because she was embarrassed.
 
One day passed, then another, then a week, two weeks, a month, two months….. one day followed the next, but she still could not get herself out of this rut.  She could not remember how many times she awoke in the night crying because she had dreamt of him.  She started to think about leaving Seoul.  She applied to a few American universities to study Finance.  She thought she might be able to eventually forget him if she went to a far away place where no one knew her.
 
The winter was early that year.  It started snowing in early December.  One evening, Xiu Han invited her out to dinner.  The table was decorated with candles, and she thought of Xiang Zhe.  It was the same place where she formally met Xiang Zhe on the eve of her birthday.  Xiu Huan had invited her to dinner, and Xiang Zhe was also there.  He had bought her a scarf afterwards as a birthday gift…… her tears started to fall as she reminisced.
 
“I’m sorry, the traffic’s really bad…” Xiu Han apologized profusely for being half an hour late.
Shan Mei dried her tears.
“Where’s Ya Shu?” Shan Mei looked behind Xiu Han.
“She’s gone home.” Xiu Han sai.
He wanted to ask Shan Mei something, and sent Ya Shu home first.
“Have you decided on the venue?” Shan Mei asked.
Xiu Han and Ya Shu had been inspecting venues for their wedding banquet.  They were getting married in April.
“We’ve decide on the Grand Hyatt.  Ya Shu’s mother likes that place.”
“You’re starting to be henpecked already!” Shan Mei teased.
Xiu Han shook his head uncomfortably.
 
“You’re so busy, why did you insist on inviting me out to dinner today?  You know I will definitely attend if you’re buying.” Shan Mei said.
Xiu Han only rang her that morning to invite her to dinner.
“I’ve got something I want to ask you.” Xiu Han said.
Shan Mei chuckled, “And just what is it that you can’t ask me over the phone?”
“This is something I have to ask you in person.”
“Wow!  Is it really that serious…?” Shan Mei stuck her tongue out at him.
“Are you planning to study overseas?”
Shan Mei looked at him in surprise.
“Mom asked me to bring you some Ginseng Chicken this morning, but you had already left when I got there…., I saw the acceptance letter from the University of Columbia on your table.” Xiu Han explained. “What made you suddenly decide to apply?”
Shan Mei thought for a moment, then said flatly, “I wanted to take up a post-graduate in Finance overseas.”
“You don’t have to go overseas for that!  The local universities now have very high standards…” Xiu Han could not fathom it.
“I prefer the learning environment overseas.”
“Why haven’t I ever heard you mention this before?’
“I wanted to make sure I got a placement before I started announcing it to all and sundry.  It would be embarrassing if I told everyone, then failed to get a place.”
“So you intend to resign from your job?”
Shan Mei nodded.
“Don’t you think it would be a pity?”
“A little.  But I though I should take on the opportunity while I’m still young.”
The work with legislative review had come to an end, and everyone involved had been impressed with her work.  The company had transferred her to another specialist position and given her a raise.  She had finally worked herself out from under the cloud of the Gimhae affair.  Now, she could leave with no regrets.
 
“And Xiang Zhe agreed to let you go?”
Shan Mei looked at Xiu Han, then said flatly, “He…doesn’t know about this.”
“What?” Xiu Han was shocked. “Why didn’t you tell him?”
Shan Mei hid her eyes as she replied, “We’ve broken up.”
Xiu Han almost fell off his chair, “Broken up?  What!?  When? Why?..”
Shan Mei smiled grimly, “We’re not suited for each other, so we decided to part.”
“No suited?   I don’t know anyone else who’s more suited…!”
“Oppa…!” Shan Mei’s eyes reddened.
Xiu Han looked at her intently and asked, “Did Xiang Zhe dump you?”
“No..No he didn’t.” Shan Mei evaded Xiu Han’s eyes.
Xiu Han shook his head, “You know, you were never good at lying…”
“Oppa! It’s really the truth.”
“This cannot be!  I must get the truth out of that bugger.” Xiu Han picked up his phone.
“Please don’t, oppa!” Shan Mei stopped him with red eyes, “It’s really not his fault.  We both agreed to part.”
“Was it really like that?  I won’t let anyone bully you…” Xiu Han’s eyes were full of suspicion.
“He’s not like that.  He’s your best friend!  You should know him better than anyone else.”
“I’ve never understood him where love was concerned.” Xiu Han sighed, “Hrrmph!  How did you guys end up like this…”
“It’s already in the past.” Shan Mei said.
“Are you sure?” Xiu Han asked gently, noticing the glistening in her eyes.
“Yes, I’m over it.” Shan Mei nodded vehemently.
 
“Oppa, can you promise me something?”
“What is it?”
“Promise me you’ll pretend you know nothing about this.  I don’t want the friendship between the two of you to be affected by me.”
A long time ago, she had said the same to Xiang Zhe.  Maybe she had already known then that this would happen.
“Don’t you go blaming him for anything.  What we had was just not meant to be.  That’s all it is.  And please don’t tell him about my going overseas.”
Xiu Han nodded unwillingly.  He knew she didn’t want Xiang Zhe to think she was going abroad because they broke up.  That girl!  It was obviously the truth, but she was still trying to protect him!
“Why don’t you go back to England?  Your father is there and he will look after you.”
“I want to learn to live on my own.  I’ve always had Dad or your family around to look after me….this time, I want to try to make it on my own.  Oppa, can you please help me persuade my dad to let me?”
There were too memories of Xiang Zhe in both Korea and England.  She wanted to go some place not associated with him, where she had no memories of him.  That way, perhaps she  would be able tot get back on her feet again.
 
“When do you intend to leave?”
“I’ll stay until after your wedding.  I still have to save up for my living expenses, so I don’t intend to resign yet…”
 
Xiu Han told the family about her and Xiang Zhe.  Naturally, her father also heard about it.
“Dear, if you have anything you want to say to your dad, just pick up the phone.  Don’t worry about the time difference…” Her father was very concerned.
“I will.” She could only say that in reply.
Even though her elders did not say very much, she knew they were worried for her.  Auntie rang her almost every day to chatter about nothing.
 
She and Xiang Zhe met for the first time after their breakup at Xiu Han’s wedding.  Xiang Zhe was Xiu Han’s best man.
 
“Is it alright if I get Xiang Zhe to be my best man?” Xiu Han asked her beforehand.
“I’d be upset if you chose any other person!” Shan Mei replied.
“Are you sure you’re OK with it?” Even Auntie asked worriedly.
“It’s not a problem.” She patted her chest in assurance, while secretly aghast.  She had no confidence that she would be able to get through the day without ending up in tears.
 
On the day of the wedding, Shan Mei took extra care with her make up.  She put on thicker than normal makeup, and did her hair up in curls so as to hide the weight she had lost.  With her pink dress on, she felt ready to put on the festivities.
 
At the bottom of it, all she wanted was to let Xiang Zhe know that she was taking good care of herself, and that he didn’t need to worry about her.  Suddenly, she felt laughable.  Just what made her think that Xiang Zhe would even notice?  For all she knew, he was already on to his next conquest.
 
She saw Xiang Zhe in his navy suit, crisp white shirt and bright yellow tie the minute he appeared in the company of a group of friends.  As usual, he stood out from the crowd.
 
Their eyes met briefly across the hall and she forced herself to give him a sweet smile.  His lips curled in response.  At that moment, her heart was twisted in knots.
 
Xiang Zhe’s friends wolf-whistled at her.
“Wow, Zhen Shan Mei, you get more beautiful every day.”
“Zhen Shan Mei…why haven’t you come to watch our game for such a long time?  Without you around, it’s no wonder that we’ve been losing our games…”
A few men surrounded her, chattering away.  Obviously, they did not know about their break-up.
 
“Alright guys! Stop giving her a hard time.  You’ve got work to do.” Xiang Zhe saved her.
“What you really mean is “stop hanging around here and obstructing my business”, isn’t it?” the group teased Xiang Zhe, then laughed as they moved on.
 
“Sorry about that.” Xiang Zhe smiled at her uncomfortably.
“That’s alright.”
“Are you in charge of ushering the guests today?” Xiang Zhe looked at the corsage on her chest.
“Yes, I’m in charge of ushering the groom’s guests…” she replied as she struggled to maintain her composure and look him in the eye.
“Xiang Zhe…. the groom’s looking for you.”
Xiang Zhe moved off and Shan Mei heaved a sigh of relieft.  In front of him, she felt like a bundle of nerves.
 
Shan Mei was busy after the wedding ceremony, and did not get to sit down until the banquet was half way through.  She had completely lost her appetite, so ate a few mouthsful, then made an excuse and left the table.
 
She made her way to the hotel’s garden and looked around for a quiet spot to rest.  She felt physically and emotionally drained.  She had maintained her mask in front of everyone.  She knew her father, Auntie and Uncle all knew about her break-up and were watching her carefully.  She deliberately put on an extra happy face to reassure them, all the while fighting to keep control of the pain in her heart.  The moment she saw Xiang Zhe, she knew for certain that all her efforts over the past six months had been in vain.  She had not forgotten the smallest thing about him.  It seemed like she was the weakest link in all of this.  Her father, auntie, even Xiang Zhe had gone through the day talking and laughing as though nothing had ever happened.
 
“Why did you run away on your own?”
Shan Mei’s heart skipped a beat.  It was Xiang Zhe!
“I wanted a breath of fresh air.” Shan Mei said quietly, as casually as she could.
“What about you?” She smiled at him as she asked.
“The same….Can I sit down?” Xiang Zhe asked.
He didn’t really bump into her by coincidence.  He had followed her out.  His emotions had taken over, and he could not stop himself.  He wanted desperately to be near her, even if just to watch her from a distance.
 
Shan Mei moved over and gave him some space on the bench.
 
Xiang Zhe observed Shan Mei, and smile at her, “You look well.” He said.
She looked radiant.  He thought things between Song Shuo Mao and her must be going well for her to look like that.  He knew he should be happy for her, but all he felt was depression.
“You don’t look too bad yourself!” Shan Mei assessed him, “If I was Xiu Han Oppa, I wouldn’t have made you the best man…”
“Why?”
“You would outshine the groom and get all the attention!”
Xiang Zhe’s lips twitched.
“Thank you for helping Xiu Han Oppa out.”
“It was my pleasure.”
“You’re a busy man, and yet you made the time to help him with his preparations….”
Xiu Han told her Xiang Zhe had taken on countless little errands for him, not just the job of the best man.
“I can’t help it if he’s my best friend…actually I’m also completely inexperienced at this.  I managed it only because of the guidance from Miss Bei.”
Shan Mei shook her head, “You’ve just got one more task.”
“One more? What is it?”
“At the end of the banquet, you’re supposed to take the bridesmaid home.  That’s the job of the best man.”
“Is that the rule?” Xiang Zhe raised his eyebrows.
“It’s more like the etiquette…” she paused, “She’s not bad, you know?  Pretty, gracious, and capable…”
Chu Ya Shu made her cousin , Chu Xiu Li the bridesmaid.  She heard Chu Ya Shu instructing Xiu Han to make sure Xiang Zhe took Xiu Li home after the banquet.  It seemed Ya Shu was determined to make a couple out of the two.
 
Xiang Zhe his heart being pierced yet again.  Was she taking pity on his status as a bachelor and trying to match him up?
“Surely that’s none of your business.” Xiang Zhe replied coldly..
Xiang Zhe was obviously not happy, and Shan Mei felt confused.  She had no idea why she said what she did.  Was she subconsciously trying to find out whether there was any attraction between the two?  She saw the two of them sitting together and having animated conversations during the day, and had been jealous.  Chu Xiu Li also caught the bride’s bouquet that day, and had been delighted.
“I’m sorry.” Shan Mei said.
It really was no business of hers who he liked.
 
The atmosphere suddenly became tense.
 
“I’d better be going.” Xiang Zhe stood up.
“Yin Xiang Zhe…” She called out.
Xiang Zhe stopped in his tracks.
“About the KMC case…”
“What about it?” Xiang Zhe asked.
During the preliminary hearing of Chamsung’s court action against KMC in New York, had been decided in his favour, and KMC had appealed the decision.  The case was to be heard again in a higher court.  It would be another seven or eight months before their next hearing.  During this time, both parties had to put up large sums as guarantees before they could continue trading in America.
“I heard KMC is seeking a private settlement on the matter.  Is this true?”
She could not help taking a keen interest in the case.
“Yes…It’s because they know the odds are stacked against them.  Even the American Department of Commerce has blacklisted them.”
“Have you considered taking the settlement?”
“Settle?” Xiang Zhe stared at her.
“Yes, settle.  You have to come up with the guarantee or stop trading.  Neither scenario is going to help Chamsung’s financial position.  Regardless of which option you take, it’s still going to hurt the company.”
She knew that a growing company like Chamsung needed every cent of its cashflow in order to survive.
“I never thought you would be one to suggest settlement.” He looked at her perplexed.  She had always taken the high road where these things were concerned.
“Sometimes, you have to lay down your principles in the face of reality…”
“You want me to let them off?”
“I say you should let them off…” Shan Mei shook her head.  Xiang Zhe was always one to bear grudges.  “What I mean is you should consider giving up the court action in favour of other means of recourse.  Give them a way to back out of this and they will definitely settle in your favour.  That way, you can still hold your head up high AND gain a nice big injection to your cashflow in return.   It’s a win-win situation.  That’s got to be better than having your cashflow tied up for so many months….”
 
Xiang Zhe looked at the concern in her face and was moved to the core.  He recalled that beautiful sunny morning when they were in the park reviewing his contract.  Her face was wearing the exact same expression she had on that day….
Was she really still so concerned over him?  Was she, like him, having so much trouble getting over their relationship?  Xiang Zhe instantly laughed at his own gullibility.  She already had someone at her side.  Her concern could only be platonic, nothing more!
 
“I’m only telling you what I think.  Whatever it is you choose to do, you should still discuss it with your lawyer.”
Over the past six months, she had undertaken a few similar cases and realized that sticking to your principles in such situations was not always the best approach.  Sometimes, taking the alternate route could lead to a much better result and reduced the damage to both parties.  
“Thank you.  I will seriously consider your suggestion.” Saying that, he walked out of her sight without turning back.
 
Later that day, she watched sadly as he drove away with Chu Xiu Li in his car.  He had already moved on.  Just how much longer was it going to take her to do the same?
 
****End of Chapter 34****

 

Chapter 35

 

My Dearest One –
Written By Jennifer
Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
 
Translated by nho(CA)

 
 
Shan Mei went to the freight carrier to make arrangement for the shipment of her books and luggage.  This time of the year was a busy season for students to further their studies overseas.  Inside the freight carrier was jam-packed with people making arrangement for their shipment.  Shan Mei lifted up her head and looked at the number plate ahead.  She had to wait for seven people more before it was her turn, so Shan Mei returned her eyes to the magazine in her hands and continued reading.  She did not know what had happened today that made her feel very restless and she could not calm down her nerves.  She was still reading the same page for a long while, so she simply put the magazine back in her handbag.
 
She was on the point of departing for New Year in half a month’s time.  With the date of departure drawing near, every time Auntie saw her, she would always be weeping and sniffling.  She told Auntie that if she continued to behave in this way, she would not let her come to the airport to see her off, in order to save the airport from get flooded.
 
“Why do you have to go so far away to New York.  Without your father by your side, how can Auntie not worry!”  
 
Since the moment when she heard that she was going to study in New York, Auntie could not stop grumble to her all the time.
 
“Auntie, just wait for me to catch a wealthy nephew-in-law for you there!”  She joked with Auntie.  
 
“Aye, if it is not …”  Every time Auntie would start to speak and then hesitated.  She knew that Auntie was blaming Xiang Zhe in her heart.
 
She chose to go to study for a master degree in banking and finance in the Columbia University as she hoped that the spree and boisterousness in New York would help her forget something in Seoul.  There was another month before the school opened, but she was anxious to throw herself into that vast land of prosperity.  She had not even found a place to live.  She would temporary stay with some friend after arriving New York and then she would look for a place leisurely.  
 
Her cell phone was ringing.  She thought it must be from Hsin Hui.  Hsin Hui and her husband, Zhang Xue Ren were treating her to a farewell lunch at midday.  During the past couple of weeks, she was busy saying farewell to relatives and friends and everyday she was fully booked with dinner appointments.
 
The caller ID showed an unfamiliar caller.
 
“Hello …”
 
“Shan Mei?  Are you Shan Mei?”  A voice was calling anxiously from the other end of the receiver.  
 
Her heart was suddenly seized by an inexplicable feeling of unease.
 
“Yes, I’m Shan Mei.  May I know who is calling please?”  Shan Mei’s heart fluttered.
 
“Shan Mei … it’s me!”
 
Shan Mei recognized that voice, it was Xiang Zhe’s grandma!
 
“Grandma …”  She was very surprised.
 
“Shan Mei …”
 
Shan Mei heard Grandma’s weeping voice and her heart instantly sank to the bottom.
 
“Grandma, what’s up?  Is anything wrong?”  She hurriedly asked.
 
“Xiang Zhe has an accident …”
 
 
By the time Shan Mei hurriedly arrived Gyeongju, it was already evening time.  She saw Xiang Zhe’s Grandma inside the emergency room.  The medical staff said that Grandma got too upset and fainted that they had to put her in the emergency room.  
 
When Grandma saw Shan Mei, she tightly grabbed her hand with tears gushing down.
 
“Grandma … how is Xiang Zhe?”  Shan Mei asked with an ashen face.  Grandma talked incoherently on the phone and all she knew that Xiang Zhe had an accident.
 
“His whole body was covered with blood … and he lay there motionless … I called his name repeatedly and he completely ignored me …”  Grandma was choked with tears.
 
Shan Mei was weak on her feet and she hurriedly clutched the side of the bed.
 
“Xiang Zhe … Where is he?”  She asked in a quivering voice and her body could not help trembling with fear.
 
“Mr. Yin Xiang Zhe has just been pushed out from the operation theatre …”  One of the medical staff said.
 
 
Shan Mei looked at Xiang Zhe lying inside the intensive care unit through the glass window.  His whole body was wrapped in bandages, he was under intubation and he was lying on the sick bed unconscious.  Shan Mei could no longer stop the tears from falling down unheeded.  She was not willing to believe that this man in deep coma was the same man she deeply loved who was so full of vitality and always beaming with high spirit!
 
Shan Mei wiped dried her tears and suppressed the grief in her heart.  She hurried back to the emergency room to comfort Grandma.  Grandma’s blood pressure was very high and her health was not in a good condition.  The doctor did not permit her to get out of the bed for the time being.
 
“Did you see Xiang Zhe?  How is he?”  Grandma grasped Shan Mei and asked.
 
“He … he had an operation and is now in the intensive care unit …”
 
“What did the doctor say?  Is he OK?”
 
“The doctor said he still needs to be put under observation for a while …”  Shan Mei replied, choosing the easier way.  She was not cruel enough to tell Grandma the truth.
 
On hearing this, Granda started crying once again.
 
“Nothing bad is going to happen, Grandma … Xiang Zhe will certainly get well …”  Shan Mei  
suppressed her tears and tried to comfort Grandma.  She definitely could not cry.  She was the only who could comfort Grandma now.
 
“Grandma, if you don’t eat something, Xiang Zhe will get mad if he knows it …”
 
Shan Mei coaxed Grandma to eat something and also asked for tranquillizer for Grandma to take.  It was in the middle of the night before Grandma fell into sleep.
 
Shan Mei came to the quadrangle of the hospital garden.  It was deep in the night and there was no one in the garden.  She could no longer control the turbulent emotion in her heart and covered her face, crying out loud.
 
The doctor said that when Xiang Zhe was delivered to the hospital, apart from numerous bone fractures and flesh wounds, there were also signs of internal hemorrhage and skull internal hemorrhage and the coma scale amounted to the scale of 9.  They had given him an infusion and  blood transfusion.  They had also carried out treatment to stop abdominal bleeding and fix up bone fractures.  An hour after the operation, Xiang Zhe suffered from mydriasis indicating that the cerebral hemorrhage got worsened.  His condition became so critical that the hospital had to perform a neurosurgery and a cerebral decompression surgery and extricated a small piece of blood clot which had been pressurizing the cerebellum.
 
She was completely deaf to all these complex medical terminology.  All she wanted to know was whether he could remain safe and sound.
 
“It’s not life threatening … but the complication of a vehicular accident lies in the external head injury; it may cause temporary or even permanent damage to the function of the brain …”  The doctor said with knit brows.
 
“Then … He … what is his condition?”  Shan Mei was so anxious that her heart was soon to be jumping out from her throat.
 
“It’s difficult to tell … We have to see what his condition is.  We have to closely watch the change condition of the coma scale …”
 
Shan Mei’s eyes reddened.
 
“Please don’t worry too much.  From what I saw in the operation theatre, Mr. Yin’s brain nerve cells look as they haven’t been damaged …  He is still young and his bodily health is in good condition and he will certainly get through this crisis …”
 
 
Shan Mei could not sleep a wink the whole night.  She kept watch on Xiang Zhe outside the sick room.  She kept praying in her heart, begging God to bless and protect Xiang Zhe to let him get well and begging her mother’s soul in heaven to help the man she loved.
 
The next morning, Shan Mei  telephoned Xiu Wei.  Once Xiu Wei heard it was her, he got mad and said: “Where have you been last night?  You didn’t even leave a message … didn’t even switch on your cell phone.  I have been searching for you all night.  Mom was nearly insane with anxiety and she almost let me report to the police ….  I have tried calling nearly all your friends and Hsin Hui said you have cancelled your lunch date …”
 
“I’m in the hospital …”  Shan Mei said.
 
Yesterday she was so worried and was at a loss.  It was not permitted to use cell phone in the hospital ward and until she remembered about using the telephone, it was already midnight.
 
“Hospital?”  Xiu Wei got a fright, “What has happened?”
 
“Xiang Zhe had a car accident … I am now in Gyeongju …”
 
“Xiang Zhe had an accident!”  Xiu Wei drew a deep breath and anxiously asked:  “It is serious?  What is his present condition?”
 
“Very serious …”  As soon as Shan Mei started to speak, she burst into tears, “It is not life threatening, but he is a coma all the time and the doctor is worried that the brain function may be damaged …”
 
“I am coming over at once!”  Xiu Wei said.
 
Shan Mei instructed Xiu Wei not to tell anyone that she was in Gyeongju, he could not even mention it to Xu Ya Shu.  She did not know how she could explain to her family why she was in the hospital taking care of Xiang Zhe.  Everyone knew that they had already split up.  
 
“I can’t just dessert Xiang Zhe and Grandma …”  Shan Mei told Xiu Wei.
 
There was no way that she could leave like this.  She could not stop worrying about Xiang Zhe and she could not stop worrying about Grandma.  She had to stay by Xiang Zhe’s side, to accompany him to get through this crisis.
 
Xiu Wei hurriedly arrived Gyeongju in the afternoon.  When Grandma saw Xiu Wei who was closed to Xiang Zhe like brothers, she could not help overcome by feeling of sorrow.  Xiu Wei had to comfort her for a long while before Grandma’s emotion slightly calmed down.
 
 
Getting away from Grandma, Xiu Wei asked about Xiang Zhe’s condition.  Shan Mei was crying as she spoke.
 
Xiu Wei said with a sigh:  “I have tried so hard before I can calm down Grandma and now it’s your turn …”
 
Shan Mei rubbed dried her tears and asked:  “Aren’t you taking the afternoon flight to Tokyo?”
 
Xiu Wei had to attend a seminar in Tokyo tomorrow and would not be returning until four to five days later.
 
“I have changed to this evening’s flight and am flying directly from Gyeongju … If I didn’t come over to see Xiang Zhe, there is no way I can feel relieved.”
 
Xiu Wei looked at Shan Mei’s woebegone face, patted her shoulder and said:  “Nothing bad is going to happen, Shan Mei … Don’t worry.  Hasn’t the doctor said that Xiang Zhe is still young with good health.  I have faith that he will safely get through this crisis.  Xiang Zhe is full of fighting spirit and he won’t let anything defeat him.”
 
Xiu Wei’s words gave some encouragement to Shan Mei.
 
Xiu Wei fixed his eyes on Shan Mei steadily for a while and spoke:  “You still love Xiang Zhe, don’t you?”
 
“I’m … I’m only …”  Shan Mei murmured.
 
“Why do you have to bring it on yourself?”
 
“To forget someone you have once loved is not easy … I need time.”  Shan Mei said forlornly.
 
“How much more time do you need?  For the past six months or so, I haven’t seen you laughing happily.  Shan Mei, listen to Oppa, when Xiang Zhe wakes up, have a good chat with him.  You …”
 
Shan Mei cut off Xiu Wei’s words, “Oppa, I have already decided to go to the States.”
 
Xiu Wei shook his head helplessly, “I really don’t know what you two are thinking … One works like crazy every day and the other one has to run thousands of miles away to study in the States!”
 
Xiu Wei did not give up hope in his heart.  He thought, maybe it was foreordained in the unseen world that as a result of this car accident that Shan Mei and Xiang Zhe would resolve their differences.  
 
“Please let me know any change in condition at any time …”  Xiu Wei instructed Shan Mei before he left.  “Also …, please remember to call Mom and Uncle, so as to save them from getting worried.”  
 
Shan Mei called Jin Huan Chen to let her know that she was staying with friends in Gyeongju for a few days.
 
Xiang Zhe’s grandma did not notify Xiang Zhe’s father.  “I have to give the Yin family a healthy boy … The condition Xiang Zhe is now in, there is no way I can face his father …”
 
Grandma reproached herself for letting Xiang Zhe ride out to buy something for her.  “This child recently behaves as if he has lost his soul … I shouldn’t have let him ride out his bike …”
 
Shan Mei could only respect Grandma’s wishes.  Xiang Zhe was not only a child of the Yin family, he was also the grandchild raised by the Li family despite all sorts of hardships and deprivations.
 
 
Shan Mei telephone Jiang Yu He, briefly informing him about Xiang Zhe’s condition.
 
“Wait until Mr. Yin’s condition becomes more stablized before you can come over.  I will advise you of his condition when necessary …”  
 
She instructed Jiang Yu He that apart from the company’s senior management, not to let other people know about Xiang Zhe’s condition for the time being, especially he had to keep it a secret from the media people.  Xiang Zhe’s present condition was not fit to b disturbed.
 
“May I know who you are?”  Jiang Yu He asked.
 
“I am a relative of his family.”
 
One day, two day passed and Xiang Zhe’s pulse and blood pressure were very stable, but he was in a coma and throughout the coma scale was maintained at a scale between 7 and 9.
 
“Do you mean that nothing can be done?”  Shan Mei anxiously asked the doctor.
 
“Apart from continuing with the surgical treatment, all we can do is to rely on medication to reduce the pressure in the skull and to lighten up the patient’s discomfort.  Apart from this, it all depends on the patient himself … The explanation and reasons for many inconceivable recovery cases in the medical world are due to the patient’s strong willpower and their desire for survival …”
 
Shan Mei acted and spoke optimistically in front of Grandma to comfort her, but innermost feeling of fear and anxiety was growing every day.  She was afraid that Xiang Zhe would not ever wake up again.
 
On the third day, Xiang Zhe was transferred to the general ward.  The doctor permitted family members to stay in the ward to take care of him.  Shan Mei and Grandma stayed by Xiang Zhe’s side all the time.  At night, Shan Mei sent Granda to a hotel nearby the hospital and after Grandma fell asleep, she would return to the hospital again.  
 
 
She looked at Xiang Zhe, tears flowing down like rain.
 
She picked up his hand and gently kissed it with her lips, with tears dropping on the back of his hand.
 
She tearfully said:  “You are very rotten, do you know?  You know you let how many people worry and feel sad?  … You may not care about me, but there is still Grandma … She only has you …”
 
She gently caressed his face and said, choking with sob: “  Why did you not pay attention when you rode your bike?  Have you forgotten what you have promised me before?  …  Because we are now separated that you could just forget your promises altogether?  … Why didn’t you keep your promise?”
 
She also asked him: “Grandma said you were not in a good mood.  Exactly what unhappy matters were troubling you?  Haven’t you just beautifully won the infringement lawsuit against KMC? …”
 
Every night, Shan Mei would wait until Grandma fell asleep before she would return to the hospital.  She would sit by Xiang Zhe’s sick bed, talking to him tearfully.  She did not care whether he could hear her or not.
 
She blamed him, why did he have to desert her and make her feel so unhappy.  She said: “Yin Xiang Zhe, what should I do?  It looks as though I could not put  you out of my mind.  I want to brace up.  I want to quickly stand up again like the first time I fell out of love, but I just could not do it no matter how hard I try … Last time, it was you who helped me up, but this time it’s you who pushed me down … You are really very rotten … You force me to run away to New York, an unfamiliar place … Now when I have to go, you are not willing to let me leave with a peace of mind?”
 
She wept as she said to him:  “Do you know how my heart aches every time I see your back and force myself to hide from you?  Do you know how jealous I was in my heart when I saw you and Chu Xiu Li talking and laughing together on Xiu Wei Oppa’s wedding day? … Do you know how piteous I felt when I packed up my luggage and unexpectedly could not leave behind any one of the gifts you gave me? … During the past couple of weeks, I went back to each and every place where we have visited together.  I even went to the seaside of the Chuam Beach, … I never thought I could have that courage to go back there on my own.  The sky and beach there witnessed our pact, but when I went there again, our pact had  since gone with the wind … I looked at my own lonely footprints on the beach and tears started to brim over from my eyes …, I could not understand why I had to act like this …, I went out in order to get you  out of my mind, but actually I was trying to do everything possible to review once more the memory we once shared together …, perhaps deep in my heart I do not want to forget you at all …”  
 
“Yin Xiang Zhe …, you make me so miserable … How I wish I could give you a severe scolding …, Right, I have to give you a severe scolding …, You once said that if we wanted to pick a fight with each other, we would go to the embankment of River Han to rant and rave at each other.  You wake up quickly and I will call you a bastard to your face there at River Han …”
 
 
In the midst of tears, Shan Mei often felt and vaguely saw his lips slightly twitched.  She also felt that a steady stream of warmth was transmitting from the hand that was tightly gripped by her.  She thought that it must be because of her deep longing for him that she had such an illusion  
 
On the fifth day, Xiang Zhe’s coma scale had an unbelievable progress.  The doctor said Xiang Zhe would wake up at any time.  Shan Mei shed tears of joy.  Had Xiang Zhe heard her cries?
 
Shan Mei accompanied Grandma to sit in the hospital garden and talked.  Grandma excitedly planned to prepare what kind of nutritious food for Xiang Zhe when he woke up.  Shan Mei smilingly echoed Grandma’s ideas.  Grandma finally restored to her smiling face.  Wasn’t she the same?  Her heart felt lightened up and it was the first time in so many days that she could feel the warmth of the sun.
 
“Grandma …, can you promise me something?”
 
“Good child, Grandma will promise you anything …”
 
“Please don’t tell Xiang Zhe that I am here, and also don’t tell him that I have been here …”
 
The happy expression in Grandma’s eyes completely vanished , “You really have split up, have you?”
 
Grandma looked at Shan Mei with a grief stricken face.    
 
A fit of sorrow welled up to her throat and Shan Mei asked miserably: “Yes …, Did Xiang Zhe tell you?”
 
Grandma shook her head, “That child didn’t say anything … Recently Xiang Zhe became closed-lipped and uncommunicative.  Although he covered up well in front of me, but I watched him grow up and realized at a glance … There were several times that I asked about you on purpose and he always answered evasively that you were very busy.  As you have not phoned me for a long time, I know it in my heart …”
 
“Grandma …”
 
“This time when he had the traffic accident, I ought not to have contacted you …, but you were the first person that came to my mind from whom I could ask for help  … You won’t  blame Grandma, will you?  Grandma always looks upon you as family …”
 
Shan Mei tearfully embraced Grandma and said lightly: “It doesn’t matter, Grandma …”
 
“It must be hard on you …”  Grandma gently patted Shan Mei’s back and said compassionately:  “Can you tell Grandma why you split up with Xiang Zhe?”
 
“Maybe we are not destined to be together!”  She could only answer Grandma in this way.
 
“In your heart you still love Xiang Zhe …  Do you?”
 
Shan Mei stayed silent.  Grandma and Xiu Wei could see through her at a glance.
 
“Shan Mei …”
 
Shan Mei clenched her teeth and said:  “Xiang Zhe and I agreed that it is best for us to split up.”
 
“Is it really like this?”  Grandma’s face was filled with disappointment.
 
In her eyes, they were a natural match.
 
“Yes.”  Shan Mei said resolutely and determinedly.
 
“Grandma thinks it is very regretful.”
 
She too also thought it very regretful.
 
 
That night, Shan Mei came to Xiang Zhe’s sickroom again.  She did not say another word to him again, just gripped his hand tightly and looked at him steadily without flickering her eyes.  This was the last time she would keep him company.  She did not close her eyes for the whole night and stayed guard by his side not letting him out of her sight.
 
At dawn before she left, she kissed him on his forehead, on his cheek and on his lips.  This was the parting gift she gave him.  She really had to bade him goodbye.
 
“Xiang Zhe, if time can go back to the past, I would still be willing to choose to meet with you, even though the ultimate outcome is separation.”  She tearfully told him.
 
In the morning of the same day, Xiang Zhe regained consciousness.
 
Slowly waking up, the first thing Xiang Zhe saw was Grandma’s face which was filled with concern, “Grandma … I’m sorry.”  Xiang Zhe’s lips slightly moved.  The last thing he remembered was that truck running into him.  
 
Someone came over to inspect his pupils, measure his blood pressure and body temperature and one man moved close to him and said:  “Mr. Yin, I am your doctor in charge …”  That person asked his name, his age, his address, his work and some simple but peculiar questions.
 
“The condition is very good.  His mind is very clear …”  He heard that man said.
 
He looked past the swaying crowd, from one corner of the sick room to the other and again back to the same corner, but he could not find the person he wanted to see.
 
Shan Mei stayed outside the sick room, listening to the sound of the conversation between Xiang Zhe and the doctor.  His voice sounded very weak, but his consciousness was clear.  She knew she could cease to worry.
 
The following day, Xiang Zhe could eat normally.  Grandma went home and made some congee for Xiang Zhe, “Tomorrow, Grandma will stew some chicken for you …”
 
Xiang Zhe smilingly nodded.
 
“Is it good?”  Grandma asked as she was feeding Xiang Zhe.
 
Xiang Zhe ate with gusto, “Delicious, it is the best in the world.”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
“You know how to sweet talk Grandma!”  Grandma smiled happily.  She was happy not because Xiang Zhe said the congee was delicious, she was happy because her beloved grandson was now safe and sound.
 
“Grandma hasn’t informed your father about the car accident … Before you gained consciousness, I wouldn’t dare let your father know, I’m afraid …”  Grand choked with sobs.
 
“Grandma, I understand …”  Xiang Zhe grasped Grandma’s hand, “They won’t blame you.”
 
Xiang Zhe looked towards the door.
 
“Grandma …”  Xiang Zhe started to speak but hesitated.
 
“Huh?”
 
“Apart from you, has anyone been here?”
 
“Xiu Wei came, also your colleague, Mr. Jiang and several of your colleague came too …”
 
“Apart from them, … anyone else?”  Xiang Zhe felt uneasy but looked at Grandma expectantly.
 
Grandma hesitated, she didn’t know whether she should tell about Shan Mei.
 
“There was no other.”  Grandma hardened her heart and replied.
 
“The nurse said there was a young lady …”  Xiang Zhe still did not give up.
 
“That … was Grandma Zhang’s granddaughter.”
 
Grandma did not know whether what she had done was wrong, but Shan Mei had repeatedly requested her to keep it a secret.
 
Xiang Zhe was filled with disappointment.
 
That feeling was so real, he felt that Shan Mei was by his side.
 
All along he felt he heard her voice, all along he felt her spirit around him, he even felt that he touched her …; that was due to that infinite longing, due to that inextinguishable flame of love, due to that voice of profound love call, which gave him strength, gave him encouragement, gave him hope, making him try hard to wake up from the deep spell of sleep, but in fact he had just made a beautiful dream.  
 
In the morning of the next day, Grandma brought in the chicken soup.
 
“Grandma, please don’t make so much trouble.  It’s alright for me to eat the meal prepared by the hospital!”  Xiang Zhe could not bear to see Grandma  rushing around.
 
“It’s no trouble, someone is helping me …’  Grandma said without thinking.
 
“Help? … Who?  Don’t tell me you are troubling those grandmas from next door?”  Xiang Zhe said.
 
Grandma was stunned, but immediately said unhurriedly: “All they need is to order  their daughters in law to do it!”
 
Xiang Zhe laughed when he heard this, “That must be very embarrassing!”
 
“Wait until you are out of the hospital and you can extend your thanks to them …  Is the chicken soup good?”
 
“Delicious … Did you make the chicken soup?”  Xiang Zhe asked.
 
“How is it?”
 
“It seems different from what you made before …”
 
“Really?”
 
“You didn’t use to put in so many red dates …”
 
Xiang Zhe recalled when he got hurt in the motor cycle accident how Shan Mei made the chicken soup for him and she liked to put in many red dates in the chicken soup.
 
“Red dates are very good for you!”  Grandma said.
 
“They restore vital energy, nourish the blood and reduce pain, right?”  
 
“When did you start to study the efficacy of Chinese medicine?”  Grandma smilingly asked.
 
“A friend told me that …”
 
It was what Shan Mei frequently mentioned when she tried to coax him to drink the chicken soup at the time of his injury.
 
She listened to what he said outside the door and hid in a corner to have a good cry.  He still remembered she had made chicken soup for him.  Today she begged Grandma to let her stew the chicken soup.
 
 
In the afternoon, Shan Mei bade Grandma goodbye.
 
“You really don’t want to see him again?”  Grandma asked.
 
“It’s better this way.”
 
She did not want to bother him.
 
She came to the small hill where he took her to look at the stars.  The cherry trees with branches covering with green foliages were swaying in the wind.  It was the first time she found that the leaves of the cherry trees could be so bright green and could look so attractive.  She stood there for a long time, cherishing the memory of those few days of joy they spent in Gyeongju, cherishing the memory of the sweetness and deep attachment on the night when they kissed each other the first time.
 
“Yin Xiang Zhe, you are a man who doesn’t keep your words …”  She gently sighed.  He once said that he would take her to Gyeongju to watch the maple leaves.  This promise would not ever be fulfilled.  
 
Picking up her luggage and walking to the front door, Shan Mei had to turn back.
 
She took out from her bag that “Bee Mine” Winnie the Pooh bear he gave her.  That day when she hurried to Gyeongju, she put the little bear inside her hand carrier without thinking.  From the day when he gave her the little bear, she nearly had not let Winnie the Pooh bear leave her side for even one day.  She  took it with her even when she was travelling.  Those words “Bee Mine” was the invitation of love he gave to her and it made her heart swell with sweetness whenever she looked at it.  She put the little bear inside the cabinet in Xiang Zhe’s mother’s painting room.  She ought to return the little bear to him as he had already withdrawn his invitation of love from her.
 
When the car was getting out of the city and  passed through the forked road leading to the direction of the Bulguksa Temple, Shan Mei recalled how she piled the pebbles at the backyard of the Kwanumjeon Hall.  The pebbles which she had piled must certainly have collapsed before the seventh day, if not why did the wish she made could not be fulfilled …
 
- End of Chapter 35 –

 

Chapter 36 (end)

 

My Dearest One (Qin Ai De Ni)

 By Jennifer
Original posted in http://ontv.videoland.com.tw/channel/ai/park/park.asp
Translated by Jules
 
Xiang Zhe stayed with his grandmother in Gyeongju to recuperate after he was discharged from the hospital.  He set up a home office there for convenience, and equipped it with all the mod-cons for connectivity.  Grandmother was inquisitive, and even learnt how to surf the net under Xiang Zhe’s guidance.  Grandmother was delighted, and jokingly suggested to him that he should just work from her home in Gyeongju from now on.
 
As the fall approached, Xiang Zhe’s body healed, and his movements became less inhibited.  Every now and then when Grandmother was away, he would sneak up to the basketball court up the hill to play ball with the kids and get some exercise.
 
One day, Xiang Zhe was yet again sick of being cooped up in the house, and headed to the basketball court.  It was a school day, so the court was empty.  Even though he played on his own, dribbling and scoring, he felt unusually relaxed and proficient.
 
“You’re here after all…”
Xiu Han appeared, and Xiang Zhe was delighted to see him.
“Which wind has blown you here, today?”
Xiu Han had been to visit him a few times, sometimes alone, sometimes with his wife.  Xiu Han often referred to Gyeongju as his “summer palace”…
“I was in Pusan on business and decided to drop in on my way…Wow, your ball skills have really improved over the last two weeks!  When your grandmother complained to me about this earlier, I thought she was just joking.”
Xiang Zhe chuckled.  Each time grandmother found out that he had been playing ball, she would spend at least half a day nagging him about it.
 
“The doctor advised that I should have some exercise.” It was the same excuse he had been giving to grandmother.
“Would you like to join me for a game, Mr Famous Lawyer?”
Xiu Han shed his suit coat, took off his tie, and had a game of one-on-one with Xiang Zhe.  He immediately lost two shots in a row to Xiang Zhe.
“You’re bouncing around like a kangaroo…who’d believe that you were injured in an accident only four months ago…”  Xiu Han sighed, “Hey, don’t tell me you’ve been training here every day?  You’re really good…”
 
Xiang Zhe grinned, “It’s not that I’ve improved…it’s because you’ve become so bad…” he teased, “Your fitness level has plummeted after you got married!”
Xiu Han blushed as he shook his head.
“How does it feel to be married?” Xiang Zhe asked Xiu Han.
“It’s great….it’s a good feeling to have a family of your own.” Xiu Han’s face was full of happiness and contentment.
“Having a family of your own?  You had a family before as well!” Xiang Zhe commented.
Xiu Han smiled, “It’s not the same thing….when you set up a home with the woman you love, the feeling is completely different:  There’s someone next to you when you wake up in the morning; there’s someone there waiting for you when you get home at night….it’s a blessed feeling…”
“I really envy you!” Xiang Zhe said.
Xiu Han looked at Xiang Zhe and said, “It’s all within your reach too, if you really want it.”
“Me?  There’s no way I can have the same.” Xiang Zhe grinned uncomfortably.
In his heart, the could be no one else.
“Is that what you told Shan Mei too?” Xiu Han looked at Xiang Zhe intently.
Xiang Zhe avoided Xiu Han’s gaze.  It was the first time Xiu Han broached the subject after all this time.
All along, there was a silent understanding between them not to mention Shan Mei, to act as though she did not exist.  He didn’t know whether to be thankful for his consideration, or upset at his cruelty.
“She…how is she doing?”
Even after all this time, Xiang Zhe still couldn’t help himself, and had to ask about her.
“She’s alright.” Xiu Han replied curtly.
Xiang Zhe was disappointed.  He wanted to know more about Shan Mei.
 
Xiu Han patted Xiang Zhe on the shoulder.  Xiang Zhe could not figure out why.  Was Xiu Han trying to comfort him?
“Just when are you planning to leave your summer palace?” Xiu Han asked.
“Next week.”
It was his birthday next week, and his grandmother wanted him to spend the day with her before going back to Seoul.
“Hurry back and show off your skills!  I’m sure the rest of the guys will be surprised…”
 
Before leaving for Seoul, Xiang Zhe cleaned the house inside out.  Grandmother couldn’t stop him.
“Are you trying to imply that the house is not clean enough?” Grandmother pretended to be offended.
“I’m just having some exercise.” Xiang Zhe smiled cheekily at Grandmother.
Grandmother was getting old and could not manage some of the heavy work.  His visits to Gyeongju were often rushed, and it wasn’t often he had the luxury of time to help her out with the spring cleaning.
 
“I’ve invited Madam Zhang out for lunch today.  Would you like to come?” Grandmother asked.
“I guess you must have invited Madam Zhang’s granddaughter as well, haven’t you?” Xiang Zhe made a face at his grandmother.
“You little ..!” Grandmother didn’t know what to do with him.  Her beloved grandson could always read her mind like a book.
“I have a telephone conference this afternoon.”
Two weeks ago, Chamsung got approval from the US Stock Exchange to list in the USA.  They were now busy preparing for the listing.  It was one project he could not afford to fail.
Grandmother shook her head at him helplessly, “You do what you have to.”
She knew she could not move him on such matters.  He was too stubborn for that.
“I’ll buy a cake on my way back and we’ll celebrate tonight..” It was Xiang Zhe’s birthday that day.
“What sort of cake would you like?”  Grandmother asked.
“Raspberry chocolate.” Xiang Zhe answered without even thinking.  He was stunned as soon as the words left his mouth.  It was Shan Mei’s favourite cake.
 
After the telephone conference, Xiang Zhe made his way to his mother’s study.  He had always been fond of the place.
He had spent many unforgettable times with his mother in that room.  His mother seen the worst that life could bring, and yet, she still retained her positive and happy attitude toward life.  During his childhood, he would often do his homework in this room in the company of his mother while she was painting.  During her breaks, she would give him riddles or quizzes.  They always had a good time.  His mother made him a book of sorrows to help him forget his sorrows.  Whenever he was unhappy, he had to draw his unhappiness into that book.  That way, she assured him, whatever had made him unhappy would be taken away by God.  He had completely believed it.  Other than the occasional unhappy bout over his parent’s separation, he had been obliviously happy in those days.  The thick book was filled with his drawings.  No page was bare.  The pictures on one or two pages still had the power to bring tears to his eyes.
 
Xiang Zhe was lost in nostalgia, and he laughed at his own innocence.  As a child, all it took was for him to doodle into a book to leave his sorrows behind.  Now that he was an adult, the sorrow that had been carved into his heart was not something he could easily walk away from….Even if the book of sorrows could take away this pain, he would never want to draw his memories of Shan Mei into it.  He wanted to remember very moment that they had spent together.
 
Xiang Zhe searched for his book of sorrows.  He remembered it was kept in one of the cupboards in his mother’s study.
 
In one corner of a cupboard, he finally found it.  However, in the same cupboard something else caught his eye.  He stared at it unblinkingly……
 
When grandmother got home, she found Xiang Zhe still sitting the dark, in a corner of the study, dazed.
“Why are you sitting in the dark?” Grandmother asked as she turned on the light.
Xiang Zhe was holding a Winnie the Pooh stuffed toy.
“Hey?  Where did you find that thing?” Grandmother asked matter-of-factly.
“She…she’s been here, hasn’t she?” Xiang Zhe grabbed his grandmother’s hand.
“Who’s been here?” Grandmother didn’t understand his words.
“Shan Mei….Shan Mei’s been here, hasn’t she?”
Grandmother looked at Xiang Zhe steadily for a moment, then nodded her head slightly.
“When did she come?” Xiang Zhe could not hold his feelings in.
“When you had that accident…. I was so afraid then, I telephoned her…”
“She came to the hospital?”
“Before you regained consciousness, she had been at your side every night, watching over you…”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Xiang Zhe’s eyes filled with tears.
His feelings didn’t lie.  She really had been by his side.  It wasn’t just his longing for her.  It wasn’t just a dream.  It was she who pulled him back from the depths of the darkness.  It was her voice that he heard, her presence that he felt.  That gentle concern was completely real.
“Shan Mei wouldn’t let me tell you…. She said that would be best.  She didn’t want to disturb you.”
Xiang Zhe looked at the Pooh bear in his hand, his heart pierced by a thousand knives.  She hadn’t wanted to see him.  She had returned the bear to him….Shan Mei!....
 
It was only 5am when Shan Mei awoke from a dream.  The pain in her heart woke her.  She had dreamt of Xiang Zhe yet again.
Xiang Zhe had once said they shared extrasensory perception.  Would Xiang Zhe also feel the pain when she hurt so much, missing him?
 
It was Xiang Zhe’s birthday, the anniversary of their break up.  Shan Mei could not bring herself to attend classes that day, and spent the day losing herself in the crowds of New York.
 
She boarded the bus heading for Staten Island and the Statue of Libery, and splurged on a USD150 off-season Celine dress at Century 21.  Then she went to Central Park and took a ride on a horse carriage, and then went ice-skating at the plaza at Rockerfella centre.  After a sumptious dinner at Little Italy, she went to watch Miss Saigon on broadway.  The sad story gave her an excuse to shed tears and bring the day to a close.  She had no idea why she did what she did.  All she knew was that she needed to so something very different to get through this sad day.
 
Love is short; sorrow, long.
She finally completely understood what the poet meant now.  It really does take a very long time for the sorrow of love to go away.
 
She had thrown herself into the hustle and bustle of life as a university as soon as she arrived four months ago.  She filled all her waking hours with a heavy workload.  Day turned into night, and night into day… She turned herself into a workhorse, and was usually the last one to leave the library each night.  No matter how hard she tried, thoughts of Xiang Zhe would invariably sneak up and catch her unawares.
 
Someone once said there is one thing in this world that cannot be hidden.  The more you try to hide it, the more it would reveal itself.  That is grief.  It wasn’t for the lack of trying.  She had been diligently trying to get over the grief of losing her love, but it would often raise its head and drown her like a tidal wave.
 
She could not stop herself from being concerned about Xiang Zhe.  She knew he had recovered his health; knew that his company was growing by leaps and bounds; knew that the US stock exchange had approved their listing; knew that a university had offered him a professorship…..She knew a lot about him, but no one ever told her.  Xiu Han Oppa always took care never to mention him when they spoke.  She couldn’t help seeking out news of him from the press or the internet, worrying about him, being happy for him….there was no way she could forget him.  In the end, she gave up.  She gave up trying to push him out of her heart.
 
Xiang Zhe, there’s no way I can forget you…do you mind?  As long as you are not aware of it, I think it should be allright…she apologized to him in her heart.
 
Xiang Zhe brought Li Ming home with him.
Li Ming was his classmate in Cambridge.  He went to Hong Kong after graduating, and joined an American bank.  He was in Korea on business, and the two of them met up for dinner, then adjourned to Xiang Zhe’s place to continue chatting.
 
“I hope I’m not intruding.” Li Ming said.
“Not at all, it’s my pleasure…” Xiang Zhe replied.
“Xiang Zhe, aren’t you a little too modest?  I thought the owner of a large company like yours would be living in luxury, with at least 5 bedrooms, a private gym and swimming pool….”  Li Ming was really surprised to see the simplicity of Xiang Zhe’s home.
“It’s enough for one.”
“So you’re constantly on your guard… no wonder you’re so good in basketball…”  Li Ming looked through the numerous basketball trophies on his shelves.
“Why? Are you thinking of taking me on in a game?” Xiang Zhe asked as he poured Li Ming a drink.
“Hey…since when did you start collecting cups?”
Li Ming saw a cupboard full of cups of all shapes and designs.
Xiang Zhe didn’t know what to say.  They were Shan Mei’s.
“Oh, what’s this?”
Li Ming picked up a tiny light green porcelain bottle.
“It’s for holding peppermint balm…” Xiang Zhe explained.
“I’ve never seen peppermint balm packaged this way….” Li Ming turned the bottle around in his hands, “Which company makes this?  Why can’t I find a brand name on this?”
“It’s not for sale.  It’s a gift from a friend.”
“A friend?” Li Ming looked at Xiang Zhe in speculation, then looked back at the cups in the cupboard, then laughed in realization, “It must be a lovely lady….there’s even a red ribbon on the neck!” Li Ming beamed.
“Yes, she is indeed lovely.” Xiang Zhe didn’t try to deny it.
“You should introduce us some day.”
“Alright”, Xiang Zhe smiled uncomfortably.
 
Xiang Zhe didn’t sleep a wink that night.  He watched and re-watched the video of their time together in Cambridge.  Shan Mei’s smile that day was brighter than the bright sunshine that day.  He had recorded her expression as she ate the chicken wings; recorded her embarrassment as she received her “green leaves in love with the red brick wall”; recorded her playfulness as she tried on vintage costumes in the secondhand shop; recorded her expression as she complained to him about his incessant use of the video recorder….. He couldn’t remember how many times he had watched and re-watched those scenes.  It was thirty months and three days since their break up.  Whenever he missed her, he would spend the night watching and re-watching the video, letting the loneliness in his heart be comforted by the brilliance of her smile…..
 
On a snowy December morning, Xiang Zhe attended a press conference at the Grand Hyatt, and bumped into Song Shuo Mao.  It was the first time he had seen him since that day a very long time ago when they had that unfriendly conversation.
“Yin Xiang Zhe!  It’s been a long time!” Song Shuo Mao came up and greeted Xiang Zhe.
Xiang Zhe shook hands with Song Shuo Mao out of courtesy.  Song Shuo Mao looked very happy.
“I’ve read the good news about your company in the press…” Song Shuo Mao sai.
“Thank you.”
Chamsung listed successfully on the NASDAQ the week before, and the price of their shares had been climbing since.  The press had been focusing on its success over the last week.
 
“Why don’t we have lunch together?” Song Shuo Mao invited Xiang Zhe after the event.
Song Shuo Mao saw the surprise in Xiang Zhe’s face and smiled, “Consider it my apology to you!”
Apology?  Was he going to apologise for what went on with Shan Mei?  Xiang Zhe was feeling a little put off.  Was he trying to gloat about his success?
Xiang Zhe decided to accept the offer even though he was not happy with it.  He wanted to find out about how Shan Mei was doing from Song Shuo Mao.  All he knew was that she quit her job more than six months ago.  After that, he’d had no news of her at all.  He didn’t dare ask Xiu Han about her, and Xiu Han never mentioned her to him.  He knew Xiu Han could not understand why the two of them broke up, but he did not want to delve into it.  All he wanted was for Shan Mei to be happy.
 
Song Shuo Mao didn’t even mention Shan Mei throughout the meal.  The topic of conversation centered around the electronics industry, and Xiang Zhe was sorely disappointed.
“Why are you taking such an interest in the electronics industry all of a sudden?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“A friend has asked me to invest in it…I wanted to hear the view of an expert in the field.”
“I think you’d better first try to gauge the skills of the company’s R&D department…. In our field, innovation is everything.”
“Thank you for your advice…”
Song Shuo Mao’s phone rang.  When he saw who the caller was, he smiled and answered immediately.
“I’m having lunch with a friend…”
Xiang Zhe could see the gentle expression on Song Shuo Mao’s face.  The person on the other end must be Shan Mei.  Xiang Zhe’s heart started to pound.
“Yes…I’ll be there at half past two….. you go ahead with the evening gowns first.  Don’t wait for me…”
Evening gowns? Were they about to get married?  Xiang Zhe’s heart constricted into a tight little ball.
“….I guarantee Miss Li Shen Ai will be the world’s most beautiful bride…”  Song Shuo Mao said with passion in voice.
Li Shen Ai? Xiang Zhe looked up.  Did he hear it right?
“It’s my fiancée…” Song Shuo Mao smiled.
“Congratulations…. And she’s….”
“The heiress of Gimhae group, Miss Li Shen Ai.”
Xiang Zhe’s thoughts were set in turmoil.
What happened?  Where was Shan Mei?  Why was Song Shuo Mao marrying someone else?  Exactly what was happening here?
“Thank you so much for your time….” Song Shuo Mao bade his leave.
“Just a moment…”
Xiang Zhe stopped Song Shuo Mao.  He knew he was out of line, but he had to get things straight…
 
“Didn’t you say you were going to fight me for Shan Mei?” Xiang Zhe asked Song Shuo Mao.  He couldn’t forgive Song Shuo Mao for not having treated Shan Mei the way he had planned.  Song Shuo Mao was about to marry another woman.
“Why are you bringing up the past?  Are you trying to give me a hard time?” Song Shuo Mao was not impressed.
“Because of you, I didn’t even have half a chance of a reconciliation with Shan Mei….right from the start, Shan Mei never even gave me half a chance.  She said there was no one in the world who could take your place in her heart.”
 
Song Shuo Mao’s answer threw Xiang Zhe into the depths of hell.
He remained sitting in the restaurant long after Song Shuo Mao had left, with anger and regret coursing through his veins.  He had done something unforgivable.  He had made assumptions in his arrogance, and sent both Shan Mei and himself into deep, dark misery.
 
Xiang Zhe sought Xiu Han out.  He begged Xiu Han to tell him where Shan Mei was.
Xiu Han looked at Xiang Zhe in surprise, then said flatly, “You don’t have to know!”
‘Xiu Han….”
“Give me a good reason why I should tell you.  You’ve already broken up a long time ago.”
“I need to tell her something….”
Xiu Han shook his head, “What can you have to tell her a whole year after you’ve broken up?”
“…..” Xiang Zhe could not reply.
“I won’t let you disturb her…” Xiu Han looked at Xiang Zhe in accusation, “You are my best friend; she’s my little cousin.  I don’t want to favour one or the other.  You have no idea how much it pains me to see the brave face that Shan Mei tries to put at the mere mention of your name.  She tells me the breakup was her choice, and not to give you a hard time over it… No matter how good a façade she puts up in front of my parents, I can still see the pain in her heart…..I’ve watched her grow up.  I’ve never seen her in such a state.  She’s always been a positive person…..That’s why when she said she wanted to study abroad, I didn’t have the heart to stop her….. I think the change in environment will help her…”
“Shan Mei has gone overseas?  Where?  Did she go back to England?”
Xiang Zhe asked one question after another.  Xiu Han would only shake his head in reply.
“Xiu Han…”
“I don’t want to risk you hurting her again….”
Xiang Zhe and Xiu Han parted in anger.  They had never done that before in all their years of friendship.
 
“Only if you can give me a convincing reason….” Xiu Han threw the words at him before he got into the car.
“I’ve never stopped loving her….not even for one moment…” Xiang Zhe said.
Xiu Han saw the tears in Xiang Zhe’s eyes.
 
The next day, Xiang Zhe got an email from Xiu Han.  It contained an address in New York.  “I hope you will bring me good new.” Xiu Han wrote.
 
Xiang Zhe prayed that he would be given one more chance.
 
It was Christmas Eve and it was snowing heavily.
Shan Mei looked out the window and sighed.  Her school had hired a venue on 42nd street for a dance party, and she had agreed to attend.  Looking at the situation, the traffic was about to get really bad.  That afternoon on her way home from school, the traffic had been bad enough.  Now that it started snowing, it was going to be unbearable.  Shan Mei looked at the clothes she had laid out.  It was the one she bought from Century 21 a few months ago.  A pink dress.  It would be Christmassy enough.  She must have lost weight.  It fitted perfectly when she bought it, but was loose when she tried it on last night.
 
The doorbell rang.  It couldn’t be Mark!  Shan Mei looked at the clock.  It wasn’t even six yet.  The dance party wasn’t until 7:30.
 
Shan Mei was stunned when she saw who was at the door…..
She looked at him.  It felt surreal.  How many times had she wished that he would suddenly appear in front of her?  Now that it happened, she was completely flabbergasted; unable to think, unable to talk, unable to even move.
 
“Are you going to invite me in?” Xiang Zhe broke the silence.
She stood aside in a stupor and let him in.
“Please have a seat…” She spoke like a zombie, “would you like a drink?”  She was unable to function in any normal way.
“Can I have a cup of coffee?” Xiang Zhe asked.
She made him a cup of coffee.
“Thank you.”
Shan Mei handed him two servings of milk.
Xiang Zhe’s eyes pierced her.  Was it just coincidence, or did she still remember exactly how he liked his coffee?  It was then he noticed she was still wearing the ring he gave her, and his uneasiness subsided a little.
 
He watched her from across the table.  She kept her head down, eyes on the table.
His heart constricted at the way she looked.  She had lost a lot of weight.
 
The silence stretched between the two of them.  In close proximity, he could not find any words to say.
 
“You’ve got a nice place…” Xiang Zhe started.
“It’s a little small….” Shan Mei said.
She wanted an apartment on the West End because she liked the scenery around Riverside Park, but rentals in the area were very high, so she could only afford a very small apartment.
“Are you in New York on business?” She asked him.
Shan Mei’s tone was distant and courteous.  It felt like she was a million miles away.
“I came to see you…”  Xiang Zhe decided to come clean.  Regardless of how it was going to turn out, he had to give it a try, “I asked Xiu Han for your address.  There’s something I want to tell you….”
Shan Mei looked at Xiang Zhe with her eyes wide open.
 
She listened as he told her in detail about how things started to go wrong; listened to his pain as he recounted all the many small events and coincidences that created the misunderstanding and conflict within himself, and a complex web of emotions wove its way through her.  She should have been happy – how many times did she dream of just such an encounter, breaking into a sea of tears when she awoke each time to realize it had only been a dream?  Right here, right now, it was all real.  Here was here standing in front of her, clearing up all the cloud of misunderstanding between them, but all she felt was pain and incredible anger!  Tears welled in Shan Mei’s eyes.  She was agry at him for doubting her feelings; angry at him for thinking that she could love someone else; angry at him for letting her walk away from him.  How she hated having to leave her beloved home country in a bid to escape the grief he had caused.  How could she even begin to forgive him for all that?
 
Shan Mei’s tears pained Xiang Zhe and he grabbed her hand.
 
“Shan Mei….” Xiang Zhe spoke the name that had been the source of his own grief and misery.
 
Shan Mei pulled her hand away and glared at Xiang Zhe, “Who do you think you are, to toy with my feelings like that?  What right have you got to just give me away to another man?  I loved you so deeply, and yet you doubted the very existence of my love…….Yin Xiang Zhe!  I hate you…!  I have never in my life hated anyone more than I hate you right now….Did you know how immensely guilty I felt when you told me that my love was a hinderence to you?  Do you know how bad it felt…?”  Her voice broke, and she was unable to continue.
 
Xiang Zhe remained silent.  He had no excuses.  Everything that Shan Mei accused him of had been true.
 
After a long time, Xiang Zhe finally said glumly, “At that time, I sincerely thought that you had been torn between the two of us.  I only wanted you to be happy, so I let you go…..”
“Yes!  Thanks to you, I finally learnt that I could survive on my own, regardless of how painful it gets.” Shan Mei said bitterly.
Xiang Zhe had nothing to say.  He finally realized how deeply he had hurt her.
 
Through the fog of her own tears, she saw the tears in his eyes.
“I never stopped loving you – not even for one moment….’ Xiang Zhe said.
She could see the pain in his expression, but could not find it in herself to forgive him.
“Don’t you think it’s a little too late to be telling me that?” Shan Mei looked away.
 
The telephone rang, and Shan Mei went to answer it.  It was Mark telling her he had been delayd by traffic and would be a little late.
“That’s alright, I’m not ready yet anyway.  Drive carefully!”
Disappointment coursed through Xiang Zhe, “You…are you on your way out?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“Yes, I’m attending a dance party with a friend…”
As time slipped by, all she could hear was the sound of their breathing.
Finally, Xiang Zhe said, “I’m sorry for taking up your time.  I’ll be on my way….”
She stood up to see him out, and said, “Goodbye.”
 
Xiang Zhe walked away, then turned around abruptly handed a bag over to Shan Mei.  “Merry Christmas.” He said.  It was his last resort, the only hope he had left.
Shan Mei hesitated for a second, then accepted the parcel.  “Merry Christmas.” She returned.
 
She heard the door close after him.  As she watched the desolation of his receding figure from her window, the ice in her heart slowly melted away……
The doorbell rang.
 
It was Mark.
Mark was the boyfriend of her classmate, Julie.  He lived a few streets away from Shan Mei.  Julie had sent Mark to pick Shan Mei up for the party in order to prevent Shan Mei from backing out.  
 
“Did you have a visitor?” Mark asked, noticing the coffee cup on the table.
“Yes, he just left…. Give me a moment.  I’ll be ready soon.” Shan Mei retreated into her room to get changed.
Mark gave a whistle when he saw Shan Mei appear in all her spendour, “You should dress up like this more often.  I’m sure there’ll be a crowd of men fighting for a dance with you tonight…..”
“I only dress up for special occasions…” Shan Mei replied simply.
“This is a Christmas present then?” Mark asked, pointing to the parcel on the table.  Shan Mei nodded.
“What is it?” Mark asked again.
“I have no idea….”
“You better get a hold of yourself – I’ve never seen anyone less excited….” Mark teased.
“I didn’t get the chance to open it before you came….” Shan Mei replied as she opened it.
“Hey, It’s lovely!” Mark commented.
 
Shan Mei’s tears started again…..
 
Xiang Zhe stood on the street corner and watched as Shan Mei got into the car with the suave young man he brushed past in the lobby on his way out.  Was he really too late?  Did he still have a chance to win her?  Xiang Zhe was beside himself.
 
Shan Mei left the party an hour after they arrived.  She could not bring herself to stay on any longer.  She had been completely distracted throughout, and ended up stepping on the toes of her dance partners time and again.  She was just not in the mood for a party.
 
As she walked out into the flurry of snow, the image of Pooh bear floated into her mind’s eye.  Xiang Zhe had brought her a stuffed Pooh bear for her Christmas present.  She recognized the toy straight away as the same one he had bought for her during his business trip to New York.  It still had the lipstick mark she accidentally put on its left paw.  It was the same stuffed Pooh bear she had left behind in Gyeongju.  She had put it in a cupboard in his mother’s study…. He must have found it somehow.  He had found his way across the world to New York with this stuffed bear in tow, looking for her….
 
Shan Mei wandered around the streets aimlessly.  Finally, she realized that she had been unconsciously searching for Xiang Zhe.  Her eyes had been searching for that familiar face in the sea of crowds!
 
He told her that he had never, for a moment, stopped loving her.  All she did in return was drive him away in her anger and misery.  How could she have done that?
How many times had she secretly hoped that they could be reconciled one day?  How many times had she told herself that it was only wishful thinking?  But it finally happened!  He found his way back to her!  And what did she do?  She told him he was too late.  She was filled with regret at the way she had thrown a tantrum at him when she thought about the way he looked as she told her how he never stopped loving her….How could she had been so impetuous?
 
She looked up at the brightly lit skyscrapers around her, wondering where in this vast city he could be.  She hadn’t even bothered to ask him where he was staying…..
Xiang Zhe, where are you?
 
The lights of the Empire State Building winked at her from a distance.  It was decorated with red and green lights for the occasion.  It was somewhere she always wanted to visit, because it was too romantic a location.  However, she never went there after she moved to New York because she did not know how she would react to it now that she had lost her love.  It was the place she felt was closest to heaven.
 
As Shan Mei walked past a music store, she heard something that stopped her in her tracks.  It was the theme from “Sleepless in Seattle”, sung by Celine Dion.
 
When I fall in love, it will be forever
Or I’ll never fall in love
In a restless world like this is
Love is ended before it’s begun
……….
…….
When I give my heart it will be completely
Or I’ll never give my heart
And the moment I can feel that you feel that way too
Is when I fall in love with you……
 
Shan Mei made her way to the Empire State Building as it in a trance.  There was something pulling her towards it.  It was where Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks found each other on Valentine’s day; the place where countless lovers were blessed.  Just consider it your consolation on this Christmas night, then!  Shan Mei told herself.
 
As Shan Mei made her way on the observation deck on the 86th floor, she could smell the festivity in the air.  Her heart started to pound the moment she stepped out onto the observation deck.  She spotted a familiar figure there.  It was Xiang Zhe, hugging himself and gazing into the distance.
 
Was it he who called out to her?  Did he know her heart was searching for him?  It must be so.  They shared an invisible line of communication after all.
Shan Mei stood where she was, quietly observing him unblinkingly.  After a long while, she finally made her way toward him, stopping a foot or so behind him…..
 
There was a faint fragrance in the air – a strange feeling coursed through Xiang Zhe.  It was a fragrance that reminded him of Shan Mei.  It was the smell of the one he loved.  Xiang Zhe turned around slowly, and was delighted at what he saw.  Did the heavens finally hear his prayers?  He saw the face that moved his very soul, and tears welled up in his eyes.
 
As if in a dream, he heard her ask, “What are you doing here?”  Her voice was sweet as warm honey.
“Someone once told me this is the place that is closest to heaven…. I cam here to pray; I came to beg for the one I love to be returned to me….”  He looked at those unforgettable eyes and waited for her to speak.
“Did… have your prayers been answered?”
He watched her eyes sparkle.
“I don’t know….” He looked at her hopefully.  Two hours ago, his hopes had been completely devastated.
He looked at her steadily, his heart pounding.
 
Shan Mei remained silent as she looked out at the distance, watching the blinking lights on the skyscrapers all around them.  In the silence, Xiang Zhe’s heart was rising and falling like a roller coaster.
 
Finally, he could stand it no more.
“What are YOU doing here?” it was his turn to ask.
He heard as she spoke in a low whisper, “I came here to look for a friend….”
“Have you found him?” Xiang Zhe could feel the tremor in his own voice”
Shan Mei said, “He once promised me that we would come here together one day.”
 
They gazed at each other through a mist of tears.
 
He moved toward her.
“Do you still love me?” he asked as he caressed her face gently.
She let her actions speak for themselves, and buried her face in his chest.  He was her one and only love.  She could never stop loving him.
 
Xiang Zhe hugged her tightly.
 
Two people who loved each other completely had foolishly tried to give the other what they believe was true happiness and ended up hurting each other immensesly.  Had the heavens finally heard their prayers on this Christmas night, or was it fated that they would spend the rest of their lives together, regardless of circumstances?
 
At midnight, a cupid lit up on the Empire State Building, blessing the newly re-united lovers……
 
Two years later, in the blossom of spring, Xiang Zhe attended her graduation with flowers and a ring in hand.  He proposesd to her, saying, “My life is only complete with you in it.”
Shan Mei shed tears of happiness, as Xiang Zhe put the ring on her finger.  Her life was also only complete with him in it.
That autumn, Shan Mei finally put on her wedding dress and was wed.
 
****The End****
 
Author’s note:
“My Dearest One” ends here.  Please forgive me for not giving Xiang Zhe and Shan Mei more sweet and loving times and ending it here instead.  Ever since I started this story, I visions of ending it at the Empire State Building.  Although I have struggled with various ideas, I finally decided to stick with my original plan.  I’ve said that I’m not a strong person, but in some respects, I can be stubborn.  I hope you life this ending that is slightly open-ended, just like the original AAE.
 
“My Dearest One” is a little different from my past stories, and holds a lot more heartache.  I know many of you have been upset that I broke them apart.  I hope you can forgive me now that I have reunited Shan Mei with Xiang Zhe.
 
Thank you all for sharing these times with me, and for your encouragement throughout.  You really are a great bunch of readers.
 
 
Translator’s note:
To Jennifer: Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your infinite energy and effort in writing all these wonderful stories to share.  I really appreciate the work you have put into each one, and I applaud how you discipline yourself to post one chapter a week and how you are determined to see each story to its end.  I cannot express enough how much I have enjoyed your work.
To nho: Thank you so much for sharing the translation of Jennifer’s wonderful story with me.  It’s been a real honor working with you.
To everyone:  I regret to say that this is be the last translation I will be posting on a regular basis.  It’s been three years since I first tried my hand at translating AAE spin-off stories: first with Lin Cai’s SM Notebook (the last chapter), then with Jennifer’s Hidden Love (Cang Ai), then Ai Xiang Sui and now bringing My Dearest One (Qin Ai De Ni) to a conclusion.  I picked up translation work partly to fill long winter nights, and partly as a discipline to maintain my Chinese language skills while living abroad.  I have now moved back into Asia, and into a new, more demanding job which has had me struggling to complete my translations on time.  Over the years, our band of translators has also whittled down from 6 or 7 to just nho and I.  I guess the pressures of family, work, and other responsibilities have taken their toll.  For me, there’s really nothing else that can take the place of AAE as my all-time favourite drama, and JDG in the role of Yin Xiang Zhe as my all-time favourite dream man.  It never ceases to amaze me that a drama which is now more than 6 years old still looks and feels so modern and relevant today.  The script, the directing, the wardrobe and the acting in this series continues to inspire me no matter how many times I watch and re-watch it.  Although I may still take on some translating work from time to time, I do not feel able to commit the amount of time and effort required to bring you Jennifer’s wonderful stories on a regular basis.  I sincerely apologize for that.  I hope that in time, a new band of translators will come forward and continue to bring you all the wonderful stories from Jennifer and other writers.  Long live the World Wide Web!!!

 

image by Susan