Chapter 5 

Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore

A few days after the elevator encounter at the restaurant, Chi Shan finally got a call from Man Yuen Lan.  She agreed to meet him for lunch near The Supreme Court House where he had to attend a hearing for work-related case in the morning.  Chi Shan waited for 15 minutes before Man finally arrived.  Secretly in his heart, he smiled a relief.
“Sorry,” Ah Man apologized as she approached with hurried footsteps.
“You seem to be running late a lot these days,” Chi Shan teased as he pulled out her chair for her.
“No kidding!”  She chastised herself.  “I really need to have better time management.  Somehow, time seems to go by way too fast when I’m home.” Ah Man settled into her chair and tried to get comfortable in the quiet ambience.  Silence filled the time and space as they perused the menus.  They seemed to have a tough time kick-starting the conversation again, as if the cat had really caught their tongue.  But both were glad when the waiter came to take their order.  After ordering their food, Chi Shan managed to keep his words flowing through his vocal chords.
“So why are you back so soon?”  He was certain school was still in session in China in November.  When Man’s facial expression became bleak, he sensed something was wrong.  “Did something bad happen to you in Hunan?”       
“No.” Ah Man shook her head and forced a smile. “The volunteer foundation was asked to provide criminal records to the school.  When they found out my background, they were afraid it would jeopardize the enrollment for the school.”
“They let you go because of that?!” Chi Shan was not surprised by the strict requirements for school, but he didn’t want to make it sound like he agreed with the school policy.
“No, I resigned because….you know, this way is easier for everyone.” Ah Man added.
“So, what will you do now?  Stay in Hong Kong?”  Chi Shan asked, hoping to hear an affirmative answer. 
Ah Man didn’t respond right away because she wasn’t sure either.  Moments later she said teasingly.  “If I stay in Hong Kong, would you hire me as your house maid?”
Chi Shan did a double take to confirm she was joking.  He let out the breath he was holding onto.  “Hmm, you have learned how to tease me now.  You never did that before.”
“I suppose I’ve changed a bit,” Ah Man smiled.  Her mind seemed to drift back to remember the past.  “After experiencing so much over the last two and a half years, my outlook in life has changed a bit.  Ms. Mo gave me a book that helped me to let go of things.”
Chi Shan interjected.  “Well speaking of Ms. Mo!”  He gestured for Ah Man to look towards the entrance where Kwan was speaking with the hostess.  She came alone.
“Hey, let’s ask her to join us.”  Ah Man suggested.

Chi Shan called out to Kwan and caught her attention.  She approached them with her usual friendly smile. 
“Kwan, want to join us for lunch?  We just got here as well.”  Ah Man spoke with a tad of eagerness which sounded like a plea.
“I would if I was here alone, but not today.”  Kwan gave Ah Man a question looking that turned back to neutral when she turned to look at Chi Shan with a polite smile.  Then she turned to the hostess who was waiting to walk her to her table located on the opposite side of restaurant.  “Thanks.  You can just place the menus there.  I’ll head there myself.”
As the hostess walked away with the menus, Chi Shan addressed Kwan with a tease.  “Are you meeting your new boyfriend?  We’d understand if you don’t want us to intrude on the two of you.”
Kwan gave him a resigned sigh.  “If you must know, I am meeting my ex-boyfriend here.”  She continued while looking at the surprised Chi Shan. “If things were different between us, I’m sure he won’t mind having lunch together.  But I really don’t think he wants me to tell him off in front of you and Ah Man.”
“What did he do this time?!”  Chi Shan asked with furrowed brows.  “Are you really here to tell him off?”
Kwan reached into her purse and pulled out the bank draft that had his name on it.  It was the same one Chin Chin wanted to give him a few weeks ago.  There was a guilty look on Chi Shan as Kwan shot him a knowing glance.

Fei was not aware Chi Shan and Ah Man were also in the same restaurant when he arrived and was immediately brought to Kwan’s table.  After the waiter took their order, Kwan did not bother with small talks.  Like always, she cut to the chase and got straight down to business in presenting him with two bank drafts.  One was from her own account made out in Tsui Fei’s name, the other was the same bank draft he saw a few nights ago from Chin Chin.  He noticed the latter one has got more wrinkles from when he first saw it.
“I am assuming Chin Chin met with you?”  Fei tried to act as nonchalant, though he was indignant upon seeing the two checks. 
“Yes, but don’t you dare blame her!  She did it because YOU wouldn’t listen to her!” Kwan gave him an imploringly look.
He nodded towards the checks in front of him and was trying hard to control his belligerence. “What do you want me to do with them?” 

Kwan could see the contention in his eyes and thus softened her tone.  “If you are going to keep my name to the apartment, then at least let me pay for half the down payment and half the mortgage.”
Fei shuffled abruptly in his seat and was about to say something but Kwan would not let him interrupt her trend of thoughts.  She continued. “At least this way when the market goes up and you decide to sell the apartment, I would also make some profit!”
She noticed he was unable to come back with an immediate rebuttal but was torn between letting anger take control and accepting defeat.  She attempted to use her flashing brown eyes to win him over to sweet surrender.  “Unless you’d rather benefit Chi Shan!  Well then some friend YOU turned out to be!” 

Looking at her playful flashing eyes, he couldn’t help but surrender in a soft chuckle.  He was totally surprised by her reaction about the apartment; however, he wasn’t sure she was letting him off the hook so easily.  He asked with apprehension.  “You are not mad at me for lying to you about the apartment?”
She gave a quick but meaningful glare to communicate how much she despised being lied to.  But when she realized he got the message and saw in his eyes how much he was affected by guilt and love at the same time, her heart was stirred as well. “I’ll forgive you this time.”
Touched by her honesty, he said nothing but kept his focus deep into her eyes. 

After what seemed like a super long moment, Kwan couldn’t take it anymore and had to tell herself to get a grip, but in a cop out way.  “But you have to promise to make me lots of money!  I have to start saving up in case I end up as an old maid!”

When she noticed another shade of darkness casted over his face, she instantly regretted allowing those last words to roll off her tongue.  She quickly tried to amend the situation.  “I was actually surprised the realtor and seller were willing to return our deposit and revoke the sales contract.  I should have known better.”
Fei understood her too well, even the regrets she was feeling.  He also decided to let go of her dooming words. “It was either this or we go to court against the bank and the seller!”
Her heart took a deep dive to her stomach at his revelation and she realized for the first time the struggles he must had gone through in dealing with these legal real estate transactions.  Though she felt bad he had to face them all alone, she wasn’t going to give him too much credit, just enough to let him know she appreciated his effort.  “Well at least one of us was smart enough to do the right thing!”    

Finally, Fei couldn’t control the slight reflex at the left corner of his lips.  When Kwan noticed how much he was trying to resist smiling at her, she thought she would spare him the agony before he gets a muscle spasm across his face.

“Now, if you don’t want to use Chin Chin’s check to pay Chi Shan back, then use mine!  I’ve already explained to her I’ll be paying part of the mortgage as long as my name is still there.”
“You don’t mind that Chin Chin and I will be living in the apartment?” Fei asked and held his breath while searching for the truth on her face.
“I think you should be more concern how Chin Chin feels!”  Kwan was aware he was trying to read her, so she put on her professional role.  “And you need to be open with her with everything, you cannot hide anything from her if you want to mend this relationship!”
Fei let out his breath. “See!  That’s what your problem is!  You are always more concern for others.  Even your own ….”  He stopped short but his eyes finished the sentence for him.  But he wanted to turn the conversation to their own pending relationship.
Kwan read from his facial expression exactly who he meant and saw how he was about to start up on the issues between the two of them.  But she didn’t want to pursue down this road of conversation with him anymore.  Thus, she tried to bring Chin Chin back to the table and made light of it instead.  “What?!  I was only concerned Chin Chin might not be able to manage with the apartment.  So, you might need to hire a maid to keep the place clean so that it will have a better resale value when the time comes!”

Fei knew that was certainly not her only concern, but he decided to drop the subject as well.  Besides, he knew he was paying for lunch and had all the intention to enjoy it and not let the food give him indigestion.

That night, Kwan was still wide awake past midnight because her mind kept recalling the activities of the day, particularly replaying her afternoon conversations with Fei.  She had let her defenses down and allowed her heart to connect with him again over lunch.  For the first time in months, it felt as if the shadow of Chin Chin wasn’t there and they were once again the close couple they used to be.  It wasn’t until her memories drew her back to the heart-breaking conversation over the bowl of congee on the night after their first union that she was able to return to the present reality.  That was when she accepted that ‘Fate’ was the winner in this game of ‘love’ that the three of them were dealt.  She knew she was not the winner, but neither was Fei or Chin Chin.  She knew this because each of them had told her so.    

Though Kwan knew she was happy that Chin Chin was rescued and she was happy that Fei could finally put a closure to her disappearance and the nightmares, something was missing for none of them were truly happy in ‘love’ with the way things had turned out to be.  As for her own happiness, she knew she was threading on deep water trying not to let herself drown in the sea of sorrows.  But every time she thought she had managed to swim back to shore, Fei would somehow sweep her off to the deep water with him again.  Well, she did admit to allowing herself to be swept off as she missed the thrill of riding on the waves with him, but she feared one of these times she might truly forget to put on her life jacket and won’t be able to swim back to shore.  Or that her heavy burden heart would take her to the bottom of the sea to never surface again. 

She took in a breath and finally admitted she was still in love with him, and she was not happy about it.  The more she thought, the more she believed the winner was ‘Fate’.  It seemed her head was way ahead of the game for the lyrics of a song came to her.  Or perhaps her head was trying to tell her how much of a loser she was.  She certainly felt like one at this moment.   “The winner takes it all, the loser’s standing small.  Beside the victory, that’s her destiny!  The winner takes it all, the loser has to fall.  It’s simple and it’s plain.  Why should I complain?”

Suddenly, she was overcome with a firm determination that something in her life had to change.  After sorting through her thoughts, she figured out what it was she had to do.   Finally, she let out a deep sigh, sent her cares heavenward and said a short prayer asking for sleep to claim her for the rest of the night.  Then she closed her eyes and fell asleep before she could count 10 sheep.  Partly because she was trying to argue with her head that the plural of sheep was sheep when she was counting!​
Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore
By REO Speedwagon
I can't fight this feeling any longer
And yet I'm still afraid to let it flow
What started out as friendship, has grown stronger
I only wish I had the strength to let it show
I tell myself that I can't hold out forever
I said there is no reason for my fear
Cause I feel so secure when we're together
You give my life direction
You make everything so clear

And even as I wander
I'm keeping you in sight
You're a candle in the window
On a cold, dark winter's night
And I'm getting closer than I ever thought I might

And I can't fight this feeling anymore
I've forgotten what I started fighting for
It's time to bring this ship into the shore
And throw away the oars, forever

Cause I can't fight this feeling anymore
I've forgotten what I started fighting for
And if I have to crawl upon the floor
Come crashing through your door
Baby, I can't fight this feeling anymore

My life has been such a whirlwind since I saw you
I've been running round in circles in my mind
And it always seems that I'm following you, girl
Cause you take me to the places that alone I'd never find

And even as I wander I'm keeping you in sight
You're a candle in the window on a cold, dark winter's night
And I'm getting closer than I ever thought I might