In the morning, as soon as he entered office, he started to regret his decision. It was not that there was anything wrong in coming to work. There was a system issue and he needed to deal with it. But he had got himself a follower, and that had become a serious problem.
All along their journey, from the time they entered through the gate, in the elevator, along the corridor, people , irrespective of whether they were men or women, kept staring at them as if they were exotic creatures.
Song Yu Shan looked at them with widened eyes. She smiledat them if they happened to catch her eye. Some people Xiang Yu had never ever met even tried to come up and talk to them. Ofcourse, icy stares from him made sure they did not proceed further. Who wanted to get frozen by a blast of icy wind?
“ Xiang Yu, these people are looking at you”, Song Yu Shan spoke up, “ but they are afraid to approach you. Why are you giving off such a cold vibe?”
“When did I give off cold vibes?”He led her to the cubicle in the centre and waved at her, “go sit there”. When the other colleagues saw him, they immediately started discussing the recent virus attack and steps they needed to take to protect themselves against the vulnerabilities.
Song Yu Shan obediently sat in the chair he pointed out. With her hands on her lap, she looked like a student attending a class at school
Five minutes…Ten Minutes..
Several people were gathered in front of the computer and the discussion was in full swing. No one was paying attention to her.She yawned. It was so boring.
“Sister, do you want to have something?”A young man passing by on his way to go out suddenly asked her. “Would you like to read the newspaper? Play solitaire? Watch a DVD?”
“I…” She blinked, then smiled sweetly, “Can I have some coke?”
The young man looked stunned! He stood in the same place for two seconds before he came back to earth. “Sure, I will get it.”
The cola was delivered to her in three minutes. There was another young man with him and both of them decided to have a chat with her.
“How old are you?”
“Are you going back to the US for college?”
“Are you here in Taiwan for your summer vacation?”
“How is high school in America? Is it great fun? Does everyone drive to school? Do you have parties every night?”
They kept questioning her and she kept answering sweetly. Her cute attitude enamoured the young men who had never interacted with someone in her social set.
When Xiang Yu’s discussion finally came to an end, he looked back and found Song Yu Shan surrounded by young men. All of them looked excited and seemed to be talking at the same time.
And the little imp looked like a cute kitten with her huge eyes and the innocent expression on her cute face. His expression turned hard. As he walked over, he crossed his arms and lifted his chin, as if preparing for a confrontation. His handsome face was like an ice sculpture, bereft of any emotions. When the group around Song Yu Shan saw him, they were immediately scared and rushed back to their seats.
“I didn’t do anything!”Song Yu Shan spoke out. “I was bored sitting here and we were just chatting.”
“Hmm”, he snorted, “Just keep to yourself. This is a work place.”
“But I have nothing to do…”
“Would you like to go shopping? I have to stay and work here but I can ask someone to go along with you..”
“No”, the lady immediately refused, “ I want to stay here.”
She was going to stay with him. He looked at her but didn’t say anything. Then he ushered her in his office. At least no one would bother her here. He sorted out the documents piled on his desk and found two magazines which he handed over to Song Yu Shan. Then he concentrated on the programs and anti virus software that needed to be tested.
Song Yu Shan sat quietly for around five minutes. After five minutes, she started getting fidgety.
“ Do you want some tea?” she asked with a flattering smile
“ No” the answer was simple and direct.
After a few minutes, she asked , “ Are you feeling hot? Should I adjust the ac temperature?”
“No”, he answered without even lifting his head.
Another one minute and she had another question, “What are we doing for lunch?”
This time he just looked at her.
” Don’t push your luck!” The cold tone would make a polar bear tremble and made it evident that the speaker had reached the limits of his patience.
“ Ok, I wont talk anymore”, she muttered.
The threat did its job. There was a prolonged period of silence and Xiang Yu was able to concentrate on his work. After finishing a bunch of trivial customer issues, he looked around in surprise, suddenly realising the period of silence had lasted too long. He could not see anyone. He tried to stand up to look for her when he felt a strange weight on his left leg. Looking down he found a small figure sleeping while using his leg as a back rest. In an apple green t shirt and white capris, the figure looked particularly cute. He squinted. If she wanted to sleep, he was fine, but why use his leg as a pillow? But he didn’t move. He just moved the keyboard closer to him and continued to work so that Song Yu Shan was left undisturbed. As long as she wasn’t bothering him and she was in his sight, she could do whatever she wanted.
As he worked peacefully, he realised he was exceptionally productive . If only every day was like this…
But at noon, the hard earned peace was destroyed.
Boom! The wooden door of the office slammed and someone walked in.
“ You.. what the hell do you think you are doing?” It was Shui Xin. Anger had distorted her delicate face. “ Xiang Yu, you dared to bring her to the company. Can’t you do whatever you want at home?”
Xiang Yu frowned, “ Don’t you know that you should knock before barging in someone’s office?”
Shui Xin exploded at the comment. “ Knock? Are you complaining because I didn’t knock? Why don’t you have a look at yourself and what you are doing! Are you not worried about your reputation? The whole company knows that you brought Song Yu Shan to work! A man and woman alone in office for so long, what are you doing?”
What did she think he was doing? Wasn’t this his office? He was just checking if the anti virus systems had been uploaded correctly. What was wrong with this?
He looked down and realised that, at some point of time, Song Yu Shan had put her head on his lap. The noise awoke her. Sleepily she asked, “ Why is it so loud in here ?”
Song Yu Shan was still confused. She blinked and looked at him, looking silly and stupid. Xiang Yu just shrugged . He was in no mood to explain to a woman when her emotions were so out of control.
“ What happened?” Song Yu Shan started to realise that the situation was not great, “ She looked very angry? Why?”
How was he supposed to know why?
From the beginning of that summer, Yan Shui Xin seemed to have a personality transplant. The generous and cheerful girl had disappeared, and an angry and sarcastic girl who got triggered by the strangest things was put in her place.
“ Are you not going to go after her?”
He didn’t reply .
“ Then I will go and speak to her” Song Yu Shan stood up . Unfortunately, her legs and arms were numb because she had been sleeping for too long. As soon as she stood, her body swayed and almost fell
Xiang Yu immediately reached out and steadied her. His arm wrapped around her slender waist. It felt just right.
“ Where are you going?” he asked after a while, “ Sit down. Don’t run around.”
“ But….” Song Yu Shan looked at the door anxiously and then back at his expressionless face. “ Is she angry because I have been pestering you? I…I can explain…”
“ What are you going to tell her? She is too upset and she won’t listen to anything you say right now.” He sat back on his desk and resumed his work. “ Anyway, what can you tell her?”
That was true. What would she say? She had been pestering him and that was what had triggered her anger. But she knew that her time with Xiang Yu was limited. Soon , they would be separated. So she just wanted to spend as much time in the remaining days as she could with him. Could she just borrow him for a little bit?
Her cute face looked stunned and he frowned to himself. Little girl, why do you sometimes look so lonely and desolate?
“ Don’t think too much. I will go and speak to her. It’s no big deal, you don’t have to look so worried.” He sighed faintly and signalled with his eyes that she should go sit on the small sofa on the side.
He wasn’t in the habit of explaining himself, and he rarely talked about his feelings, but at this moment, some inexplicable emotion forced him to console her like this
Song Yu Shan sighed as well.
He suddenly found it really funny and cute when the little imp sighed like this, as if she was a mature woman with the whole worlds’ burdens on her shoulders.
“ Why did you sigh?” he asked, a glint of smile on his face, “ do you have a different opinion?”
“ Do all men do this?” The obedient girl had curled up in the sofa. Her chin rested on her knees while her big eyes stared at him. “ I know that girls can be unreasonable at times, but they just want a bit of pampering.”
“ Is that what you think?” he asked with a hint of irony, “ How would you know? Is this an epiphany, something you read in a book, or something someone told you?”
“ I…” Song Yu Shan fumbled a bit, not willing to truthfully answer his question, “ this is just common sense. All women know this. Men don’t and they cant even use their common sense!”
“ Oh!” Xiang Yu did not know why but he suddenly found himself interested in this topic, “ then I have to ask. Please let me know, what are the other things that women know but men don’t?”
Was she kidding? She was just a little girl, did she think she was an expert? He found this entire conversation extremely funny
“There are a lot of such instances. Like, if you just hold on to your pride and don’t make up with Sister Xin now, you will make a big mistake. Women don’t like guys who act like this.”
“ You mean, even if a girl is acting irrationally, it is the guy who has to bow down to make her happy? Unconditionally?”
Shaking his head, Xiang Yu turned his head back to the computer screen. “I think your ideas are too naïve. Your boyfriend is going to run away if you expect these things. No man can accept a woman who is unreasonable and demands so much attention.”
“ Really? Do you hate girls who are unreasonable and asking for some pampering?” Song Yu Shan looked worried as her mind went over what he had said. “Then what am I supposed to do? Am I completely unloveable?”
He smiled. Staring at the computer screen, he answered slowly, “ I don’t know. This is something your boyfriend will need to worry about in the future.”
“ Yes”, her eyes inexplicably dimmed, “ that’s true.”
But in the end, what Song Yu Shan predicted turned out to be accurate, It was a big mistake not to explain and appease Shui Sin immediately.
The rumours soon spread in the company, each version more ridiculous than the earlier one. One rumour was that Xiang Yu was straddling two boats. The other one was that Song Yu Shan had stolen the boss’s daughter’s boyfriend and was happy to carry on without any commitments on either side. Then there was that one that said that Xiang Yu was like Chen Shimei, abandoning his girlfriend and hooking up with a pretty and rich young thing. Or the one that said Xiang Yu had had enough and was no longer willing to hear any more ridiculous rumours about him.
Ok the last one wasn’t a rumour. It was true. This was the conclusion that Song Yu Shan arrived at after observing him
As he heard a colleague recite the latest rumour, Xiang Yu looked livid. Song Yu Shan pulled at his shirt, ‘ Don’t be angry” The cold , angry face looked daunting and filled her with an inexplicable fear.
‘ Why wont I be angry?” he asked, “ Which of these words are true? I don’t understand why I cant be angry if this is what people are saying about me!”
What he left unsaid was what he would do if he ever got to know the source of these terrible rumours.
“ But.. if you are angry, what will it achieve?” she asked seriously. Her head was low but she looked anxious. “ I’ll stop coming here with you.”
Xiang Yu tilted his head up and seemed to give it some thought.
Before this, whenever he asked her to go somewhere without him, she would never agree. She seemed happiest following him wherever he went. Although he found this annoying, he knew that behind this arrogant appearance, there was just a child who was really scared. But now she herself was taking the initiative to stay away from him?
“Did you speak to Shui Xin?”
Her eyes widened in fear, “ No! no!”
Her stutter clearly pointed to her guilt. He looked at her, “ Tell me..”
“ I…umm…” she stuttered again , “ In any case, this is all my fault. I know this, so I …”
“ That was not my question”, he interrupted her, “ I asked you, did Shui Xin come and talk to you? What did she say?”
Silence. The little girl bit her lip and refused to answer.
After a few seconds of waiting for her to speak, he came to a decision. “ It’s fine. You don’t have to tell me. I am going to ask her.”
“ Don’t! Don’t go..” As she watched him walk out of his office with long strides, Song Yu Shan rushed to pull him back. “ I will tell you. Please don’t go and speak to her.”
But she had little strength. He pulled his arm out of his grip and hurried towards the elevator. In the corridor, she tried to grab him again as she continued pleading, “ Please listen. I am going to tell you everything ! Don’t do this! I beg you!”
Song Yu Shan, a lady who had been pampered all her life, had probably never begged for anything in her life. But unfortunately, the one time that she did, she ended up asking for something that was impossible.
He didn’t break his stride. ‘Go back to my office. Do you want to attract more gossip?”Song Yu Shan stopped in her tracks. Her face paled. Her eyes stared at his back in dismay. She seemed to have a premonition that things would turn ugly. In the bright afternoon, she stood dazed in the corridor as the elevator appeared and the door slowly closed. Even though there was bright sunlight, she felt a chill run down her spine. No! She could not allow them to get into an argument because of her.
As if suddenly brought out of a daze, she rushed to the elevator. But she was too impatient to wait for it. She changed directions and took the stairs, rushing down in a hurry
When she reached the accounting department on the sixth floor, she was out of breath. She ran to the area where Shui Xin worked.
Three or four colleagues had gathered around the door but were afraid to go in.Song Yu Shan was blocked from entering. But even outside, their argument was audible. Shui Xin was talking loudly and seemed to be interrogating him. The responses were in a low voice, but cold and devoid of any emotions
“ Don’t go in” , one of the older office mates advised her.
“But…”Song Yu Shan was anxious , “ They are quarrelling..”
“ Which couple does not fight?” the colleague said equably ,”as long as they talk , they will be fine. It’s good if they can talk it out. Holding on to grudges is more dangerous.”
“ Really?” Song Yu Shan was a bit suspicious.
Although Xiang Yu was talking in a low voice all this time, in the face of repeated questions, even his hold on his temper began to fray and there was a slight uplift in his tone.
“ …She is wilful, arrogant and unruly! You don’t have to point it out to me all the time. I am not blind.” The familiar voice spit out the hurtful words. She felt the hard words stabbing at her soul.”But I also feel she is pitiful and helpless. Don’t you understand compassion? Why do you have to think in that direction?”
“ Compassion? Compassion? That is not what she wants ! Open your eyes and see!”
“ I am not interested in what she wants. It’s what I want that is important. Work is work. I don’t have time to play games with a rich, spoilt girl.”Outside, Song Yu Shan’s heart crumbled. “ When the three months are over, I will be free. Then we will see what you say !”
Shui Xin sneered, “ I am worried Miss Rich lady will not let you go. Don’t tell me! You are a smart person, don’t you understand that this is the best time to get rid of her? If this situation continues, no one will believe that you are innocent!”
“Don’t listen to them. There’s nothing to hear”, the kind hearted colleague realised that the situation was already worsening and quickly took Song Yu Shan’s hand to lead her out. “ Let them talk to each other. Let’s have a cup of coffee.”
Song Yu Shan’s face was pale and her big hazel eyes looked dazed. She silently looked at him. Her cute face looked really pitiful at the moment. Her eyes were tearful and her mouth was turned down. Even the hardest heart would be moved when faced with this.
“ I just want to go in and clarify…” her voice was so low it was almost difficult to hear her. “ If I speak to her, she wont be so upset..”
“ If you go in, she is going to get more upset”, the colleague held on to her and gently pulled her away from the scene. “ Lets go get ourselves some tea.”
As she was dragged out, Song Yu Shan looked back. Voluntarily or not, the chasm between her and Xiang Yu was increasing rapidly.
Miumiu : I know a lot of you feel like Xiang Yu is cheating on his girlfriend. But as this conversation explains, he only feels pity and compassion for this ‘poor little rich kid’. He feels protective towards her, and especially so when her parents are so oblivious. But the romantic feelings are not there yet. Shui Xin. on the other hand, is being unnecessarily aggressive. She isn’t even giving him a chance to explain! She has been sarcastic from the beginning. It would probably be better if she had a calm conversation with him. Instead, she has put Xiang Yu on the defensive, and no person, man or woman, would like that. Song Yu Shan, on the other hand, definitely has a ‘crush’ on her bodyguard. But at 17, she has the mental maturity of a 12 year old. She wants to be with Xiang Yu, but in her mind, she is just ‘borrowing’ him. She just wants to spend maximum time with him before they are forced to separate. So , in my mind, this is not ‘cheating’ in any form or manner. What do you think?