Hurt galore in this chapter, as hearts get broken and feelings get stampeded upon. All the characters take a huge leap forward in their lives and new rivals are met. Barbs are exchanged, tensions rise to a new high and people start turning desperate. But where will this chapter take Xue Zhao and Ming Xing?
Chapter 3 (Part IV): Waiting.
Li Ming Xing and Han Xue Zhao stood outside on the steps of the Church Cathedral.
She turned her head slightly to look at him from sideways. His face’s as stony as ever. She sighed internally.
“Ming Xing, will you marry me?” he’d asked her softly, after their passionate kiss.
Her heart had pounded mercilessly in its ribcage. Her eyes had widened and she’d gasped in surprise. Looking at his hopeful expression, she’d felt nothing but dread. The memories had come flooding back.
The hospital. The blood. The heartbreak. The sadness. The guilt. It all came rushing back to her and had hit her with the force of a freight truck.
“We still can’t…” she’d whispered back to him. “We have issues, Xue Zhao. And we aren’t even ready to talk about them.”
“We can…” he’d tried to say.
“But I can’t,” she said, and there was a finality in her tone that’d made him flinch. “Maybe you’ve moved on, but I’m still living in the past, Xue Zhao.”
“Moved on? I look like I’ve moved on?” he released her from his arms and laughed acerbically. “Forget it! This was just a momentary mistake. I became blind with desire, that’s all!”
She’d felt hurt and at the same time, she was angry. Why was he making her sound like the villain, when both of them were the equally responsible for their failed relationship?
After that, they’d both silently driven to the Church. Only then did she realize that both of them never answered any phone call during the entire time they were together.
She knew that as the CEO, he has to be totally busy and that his phone is more like his wife than anything else. But he’d ignored all that as long as he was with her.
She wordlessly reapplied her smudged lipgloss, still remembering the feel of his lips on hers. Her gossamer gown was wrinkled near her waist, but it was nothing too serious.
“Let’s go in,” said Xue Zhao, and his voice was dangerously cold. She flinched when she heard it, but silently followed him inside. The Service was in progress when they’d entered, and the bride and the bridegroom were already at the altar.
The guests, who were mostly former University friends, started whispering when spotted Ming Xing walking in with Xue Zhao. Her face flaming, she avoided meeting their eyes and silently followed him as he led her to the pew in the first row.
Xiao Xi’s eyes lit up when she Ming Xing and gave her a small discreet wave. She was looking radiant in her white bridal gown. Liu Jin grinned at Xue Zhao, who’s the best man of the wedding.
Everyone in the cathedral had eyes only for the beautiful young couple who were becoming husband and wife. As Xue Zhao stared at his best friend and Xiao Xi getting married, he felt bittersweet when he remembered his own marriage proposal that has just been rejected.
No, she’s cruel. And it’s time he forgot her. He may not be able to bear the separation, but when he’d borne it the first time, he can do it this time too. He smiled and applauded as Liu Jin and Xiao Xi completed their wedding vows and sealed the deal with a kiss.
His own lips tingled when he remembered the shared kiss between him and Ming Xing just an hour ago. He closed his eyes and prayed that he’ll be able to get through this apocalypse.
The wedding banquet was thrown in an expensive hotel with Xue Zhao as the host.
Ming Xing felt like a pariah as she sat quietly in a corner with a wine glass in her hand. Why was everyone feeling so familiar and yet unfamiliar to her? As though ten years of separation can even change what people meant to each other? As though ten years of separation can negate all the happy memories that people have shared before?
What she didn’t know was that she’s in the eye of the storm.
Rumours spread like wildfire that Ming Xing and Xue Zhao, the former University sweet-hearts are back with each other. And quickly these talks outshined even the reason for everyone’s attendance, the wedding.
Xiao Xi saw her best friend sitting like a loner and walked over to her. “Hey, what’s wrong?” she asked.
“Nothing,” immediately Ming Xing replied, forcing a bright smile. “I was just thinking whether my red packet is good enough or not! And by the way, where have you guys planned to go for your honeymoon? An exotic island or adventurous trip? Knowing Senior Brother Liu’s personality, it must be an adventurous trip, la!”
“Huh!” sighed Xiao Xi. “I don’t know. Liu Jin has a lot of work to do. His company, I mean his and Senior Brother Han’s company, has been planning some acquisitions since a long time and they’re working on it. But since Senior Brother Han insisted that we go on a honeymoon, Liu Jin has decided to take a break. He’s planned out everything and is keeping it secret from me!”
Ming Xing fell silent. He has so much work to do, and yet he’s always with her. Her hold on the wine glass tightened and she closed her eyes and she gulped the wine.
“By the way, are you and Senior Brother Han…” asked Xiao Xi hesitatingly.
“No, there’s nothing between us,” clarified Ming Xing.
“But I saw that both of you arrived together! The last time you told me that you would be coming here in a taxi, I just didn’t know that Senior Brother Han is the taxi driver.”
Ming Xing cringed, mortified. “No, la! It was a last minute change. Besides, we’re just friends now!”
Xiao Xi smiled sadly. “Ming Xing, it’s impossible for people like you two, who loved each other so passionately, to remain as just friends!”
Ming Xing looked away, without saying anything.
Ming Xing walked over to the wine bar to refill her glass, when she was accosted by Class Leader Jing, who was one of her many old classmates.
“Hey, Ming Xing! Long time no see!” he called out to her.
She flinched, as she nervously responded. “Um, yeah, Class Leader Jing! It’s a pleasure meeting you here!”
“Why don’t you join us?” he asked her, even as he caught hold of her hand and dragged her over to the largest group of the banquet, which also included the bridegroom, Liu Jin, and Xue Zhao.
“Look who I have here?” announced Class Leader Jing, proudly. “Our missing princess, Li Ming Xing!”
Class Leader Jing, can you please stop slaughtering me like this? Ming Xing nervously smiled and raised her hand as a greeting. She was usually confident around others. But somehow, she’d always felt as if she’d wronged these people ten years ago by leaving them without prior intimation.
She never regretted what she’d done all those years ago. But that didn’t mean she doesn’t feel guilty. Guilt and remorse were two different things, mutually exclusive. And what she felt was only guilt. Guilt that she left behind people who cared that she isn’t there here anymore.
And that’s why she found it difficult to maintain eye contact with any of them.
“Ah, Ming Xing, you’re back!” exclaimed An Gao Ye, her fake smile too bright to behold.
Ming Xing felt a stab of jealousy when she stared at her. An Gao Ye has become even more stunning in these ten years. She was in the same year as Xue Zhao and was also in his faculty itself. It’s a well-known fact that she’d tried many a times to ask Xue Zhao out, after all she was the campus beauty and he was the uncrowned king of all the students. But he’d always rejected her.
Well, Ming Xing thought that once she was gone, An Gao Ye must have gotten her chance. As if in affirmative, Gao Ye linked her arm with Xue Zhao, who was busy talking with Liu Jin. He didn’t push her arm away.
Ming Xing looked away. You refused him, so you have no right to feel hurt, she tried to tell herself to no avail. Her heart still resented him.
Everybody in the huge group fell silent when they witnessed this obvious display of staking claim. And indeed, Han Xue Zhao and An Gao Ye looked stunning together. Gao Ye was the eye-catching beauty that every other man wants. In comparison, Ming Xing looked a bit tired and worn-out.
“By the way,” said Gao Ye. “I heard that you were dating Mo Wen Ru! Is it true?”
“Who told you that?” asked Xiao Xi, who just joined Liu Jin. She seemed very annoyed to see Gao Ye.
“Junior Brother Jing, over here, is a huge fan of Mo Wen Ru, and he was the one who’d written an article about it in his online tabloid,” replied Gao Ye, smiling a little too brightly.
“Oh come on, Senior Gao Ye!” said Xiao Xi, rolling her eyes. “It’s a well known fact that tabloids are full of shit!”
Ming Xing sipped her wine. “Well, we were together,” she confirmed. “But it was over long ago.”
She didn’t notice that Han Xue Zhao stiffened and relaxed after he heard her words, but Gao Ye did. “No wonder you’re so eager to come back to our Senior Brother Han! Mo Wen Ru must have played you hard!” sniped Gao Ye.
Ming Xing’s grip on her glass tightened. “It was I who dumped him.”
“It must be a habit to you, isn’t it? Breaking the hearts of people who learn to love you and your difficult personality?” asked Gao Ye, sounding genuinely curious.
Ming Xing realised that Gao Ye didn’t really hate her. She just envied Ming Xing. It was this discovery that made her feel ironic at this entire setting. She was invited to witness the union of two people who love each other, but now she’s been dragged in to give explanations on a love that’s too broken to be mended.
She felt extremely tired inside, and all that she wanted to do was just close her eyes and leave all this mess behind. Sighing, she said, “What where when and how I do things is none of your business, Gao Ye!”
She excused herself and walked over to the wine bar, where she placed her empty glass, before leaving the hall. Xiao Xi tried to follow her friend, but Liu Jin stopped her.
Xue Zhao, who was standing stoically throughout the entire drama, suddenly broke into a run. The doors of the banquet hall closed behind him.
“What happened to him?” asked Xiao Xi, puzzled.
Liu Jin smiled knowingly. “This is the return of Desperate Han Xue Zhao 2.0.”
Go get your girl, you desperate boy!
Okay, let me calm down. Whoa! I really do mean it. I mean, finally some sense is knocked into this guy and he probably got back the IQ he locked up somewhere. But he’s finally making a move and I feel like i could cry happy tears right now.
But what remains to see is how Ming Xing will receive his move. I’m willing to bet anything that she’ll probably be stupefied as to what this guy’s doing near her again.
But since we’ll have to wait until the next chapter is out, get those thinking hats out and let speculations fill the air guys!
I’ll be waiting here, watching out for the person who’ll get it right as to what might happen next! 😉
And also, Xiao Li is still waiting for the person who’ll most beautifully translate the title into Chinese and send it over to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.