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Chapter 5 - Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore

​​A few days after the elevator incident, Chi Shan finally got a return call from Ah Man who reluctantly agreed to meet him for lunch.  After waiting at the table alone for almost 20 minutes, Chi Shan began to wonder if he was going to have to eat lunch alone.  Just when he was about to call her on the cell phone, he saw Ah Man entering the restaurant.
“Sorry!” Ah Man apologized when she reached the table with hurried footsteps.
“You seem to be running late a lot these days,” Chi Shan teased but secretly smiled a relief in his heart.
“No kidding!”  Ah Man chastised herself.  “I really need to have better time management.  Somehow, time seems to go by way too fast when I’m back home in Hong Kong.” 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 lunch menu.  They seemed to have a tough time kick-starting a 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 Ah 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 about my imprisonment, they were afraid it would jeopardize the enrollment of the school.”
“They let you go because of that?” Though Chi Shan sounded surprised, he wasn’t too shocked that the school would not hesitate to execute such decision.  However, he didn’t want to make it sound like he agreed with the school policy.
“No, I resigned because….you know,” Ah Man gave a knowing glance.  “This way, it is easier for everyone.”
“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.  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 before realizing she was joking.  He let out the breath he was holding onto.  “Hmm, you have learned how to tease people now.  You never did that before.”
“I suppose I’ve changed a bit,” Ah Man smiled.  Her mind seemed to drift back to 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 talked about how to let go of things in the past.”
Chi Shan interjected.  “Well speaking of Ms. Mo!”  He gestured for Ah Man to look over her shoulders towards the entrance where Kwan was speaking with the hostess.  They both noticed she had come alone.
“Let’s ask her to join us!”  Ah Man suggested.
Chi Shan called out to Kwan and caught her attention immediately.  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 questioning look.  Then her expression turned neutral when she look at Chi Shan with a polite smile. 
Realizing the hostess was waiting to walk her to her table located on the opposite side of restaurant, she said to her.  “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?  It’s understandable you don’t want us to intrude on the two of you.”
Kwan gave a resignated sigh.  “If you must know, I am meeting my ex-boyfriend here.”  She noticed Chi Shan suddenly turned quiet. “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’s face as Kwan shot him a knowing glance.
Fei was not aware that Chi Shan and Ah Man were in the same restaurant when he arrived 15 minutes later and was immediately brought to the table where Kwan was sitting.  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 by presenting Fei the two bank drafts.  
Fei noted one of the cheques was from Kwan’s account and it was made out in his name, the other one 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 nonchalant, though he was indignant upon seeing the two cheques. 
“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 cheques 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 to justify his actions.  However, Kwan would not let him interrupt her trend of thoughts.  “At least this way when the market goes up and you decide to sell the apartment, I would feel better claiming my portion of the 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 were planning not to let me know and then give the profit to Chi Shan!”
Fei let out a smirk which earned him a snub from Kwan.  “Well, some friend YOU turned out to be!” 

Looking at her playful flashing eyes, Fei couldn’t help but surrender in a soft chuckle.  He was too surprised about her reaction to the apartment; afterall, he knew if anyone could figure out what he was planning to do with the apartment, it would be her.  His plan was to change his name to Chin Chin’s and leave Kwan’s as it was after the initial mortgage period was over in one year. 
However, he wasn’t planning on letting either women know about it.  So he asked with apprehension.  “You are not mad at me for lying to you about the apartment?”
Kwan 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.  And you are treating me to High Tea after this!”
Touched by her honesty, he said nothing but kept his focus by looking 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 will have to start saving up in case I end up old and single!”

When Kwan noticed a darker shade of tan came over Fei’s face, she instantly regretted allowing those last words to roll off her tongue.  She quickly tried to amend the situation by refracting the conversation back to the apartment.  “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!  I couldn’t let that happen to you.”
Kwan’s heart took a deep dive to the bottom of 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 getting 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 your 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 emotions, so she put on her professional hat.  “And you need to be open with her regarding everything, you cannot hide things from her if you want to your relationship to grow with her!”
Fei gave out a deep sigh. “That’s what your problem is!  You care too much for how others feel, even your own ...” He stopped short but his eyes finished the sentence for him.  However, Fei was hoping for a chance to discuss about their own pending relationship over this lunch.
Kwan knew what he meant and she could feel the course of the conversation was about to focus on a topic she didn’t want to pursue anymore.  So she brought Chin Chin back to the table for discussion.  “What do you mean?  I was concerned Chin Chin might not be able to manage the apartment.  You 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, and he realized there was no fighting off his feelings for her anymore.  He decided to drop the subject for now.  Besides, he knew he was paying for lunch and had every the intention to enjoy it and not let the food give him indigestion.
That night, Kwan had a difficult time falling asleep.  Lying in her bed past the midnight hours, her mind kept recalling the activities of the day, particularly the afternoon she had spent 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 and since their break up, 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 their conversations took her back to the heart-breaking memories over the bowl of congee on the night of their first union that she was able to come back to terms with 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.    

Kwan was happy that Chin Chin was rescued, because it meant Fei could finally put a closure to the nightmares behind her disappearance.  However, she could sense something was missing between Fei and Chin Chin, for she couldn’t see that truly happily-in-love kind of chemistry between them.  As for her own emotions, 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 had to admit that she allowed 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 wouldn’t be able to swim back to shore; or that her heavy burdened heart would take her to the bottom of the sea to never surface again. 

Kwan took in a deep breath and admitted she was still in love with him; and she was not happy about it.  The more she thought about her situation, the more she believed the winner was ‘Fate’.  It seemed her head was way ahead of the game when the lyrics of the ABBA melody 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, Kwan 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 feeling an onset of nausea, 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 the 10 sheep in her imaginary field.  Partly because she was trying to argue with her head that the plural of sheep was sheep when she was counting them.  One sheep … two sheeps … no, two sheep … no, go to sleep.
Ending Song = Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore by REO Speedwagon