Still another month passed. Unlike what Nic hoped and wished, Wallace was around to stay. It was not just a matter of curiosity like he thought initially. His sister was not someone who acted on impulses. Yet he hoped it was so this time around. He never stopped hoping. Crossing path with Wallace when picking Cyndi up at work from time to time was already trying on his part, but having Wallace around his house? It was over the line in his book. Not to mention having to deal with the girls’ attempts to patch things up between them. It was way over the line. Like they were ever going to see eye to eye with one another. The girls were wasting their time. Big time.
One day, Nic was on his way out the door when he heard Wallace say something that made him backtrack. He had to.
“Are you ordering my sister around?” Nic demanded, stepping into Angela’s room. The door was ajar, he was not intruding. Not really.
“What’s it got to do with you anyway?” Wallace shot back. “I thought you’re supposed to go meet Cyndi somewhere.”
“She’s my sister, duh!”
Angela wrinkled her face. “Why are you arguing over small matters?” She found her scarf already.
“He’s ordering you around,” Nic reminded her.
“No, he wasn’t. He’s just suggesting.”
“Why are you covering up like some zombie then?”
“Your words,” Wallace jumped in. It was a one in a million chance. He was not going to let Nic off easily. Nic dug his own grave, after all.
“Zombie?” Angela reacted. She was in the process of knotting her scarf around her.
“I meant…” Nic gestured his hand nervously. He knew he was in for good. And Wallace’s mocking smile did not help. “You know…so unlike you. So out of character. You wear clothes by the season and last time I checked, spring’s just barely here. Why are you wearing winter clothes already?”
“It’s not winter clothes. I’m just covering up a bit. The night air could be fatal. You know how temperamental the weather around here is.”
“It never stopped you before.”
“Maybe I should watch out for my health more then.” She had resumed her task of wrapping her scarf around her.
“Cyndi’s going to dump you soon, go old grump,” Wallace urged.
Nic sneered, turning to Wallace.
“Forget it already,” Angela interjected. “You’re making us late too.”
“That’s right,” Wallace echoed.
Nic was about to attack Wallace but he heard the doorbell. He had no choice but to go get the door.
“Where have you been?” Cyndi demanded as soon as the door was opened.
“Told you,” Wallace rattled out from the hall.
“Uh…I was on my way,” Nic answered, looking around the doorway–as if the answer was there.
“I called you but you didn’t pick up,” Cyndi said. “You were busy arguing with him again?”
“Definitely,” Wallace confirmed.
“No, I wasn’t,” Nic replied at the same time.
“They were arguing over my attire,” Angela elaborated, appearing at the door. “Ge, if you’re not leaving, we are.”
That was a cue for Nic to move out of the way. Nic grabbed the keys by the door and the cell phone he had left in one of the compartments instead of bringing it with him before stepping outside with Cyndi. He did not want to see Wallace’s arrogant face of victory.
“Who in the world would let their assistant wear revealing clothes but cover up their girlfriend?” Nic mumbled as they were heading out to their cars.
“Smart people,” Wallace said naturally.
“Don’t you two ever get tired of arguing?” Angela asked, steering Wallace in the direction of his car, knowing too well the guys would never stop if they were left to make the decisions for themselves.
“Don’t you want to know though?” Nic asked, turning to his sister. “Like he’s playing this big game. Trying to mess with you because you’re my sister and moving in on my girlfriend.”
“Zhang Dong Liang!” Cyndi called out, yanking at his hand. “That’s uncalled for.”
“You know what?” Wallace asked rhetorically. “You just don’t know half of the art in socializing or business or personal life.”
“Oh yeah?” Nic returned. “And you’re a pro all right. Look how many enemies you’ve gained over the years.”
“Didn’t we tell you guys to quit it?” Angela tugged on Wallace’s arm a little harder than before.
“If he wants to know, let me enlighten him,” Wallace pointed out. “You show off your assistant and hide your girlfriend because you want others to be jealous of you and attempt to pursue your assistant, but do you want someone to pursue your girlfriend?”
Angela nodded. “That’s true.”
Nic had on the wounded look. “You’re agreeing with him? He’s trying to put your sister-in-law in danger.”
“Ahem,” Cyndi chided.
Nic turned to her with a smile. “Don’t want to?”
“An idiot would know how to answer that,” Wallace jumped in–again. “Of course she doesn’t want to marry someone like you.”
Nic glared at Wallace with much hostility again. “You’re the idiot!”
“Guys!” Both girls shouted above their voices.
“When will you lay off?” Angela asked.
“Enough already,” Cyndi said at the same time.
“Unless he disappears out of the industry and opens a tea stall by a street corner,” Wallace confessed.
“You go sell cotton candies first!” Nic shot back.
“Shut up!” Cyndi scolded, her temper rising.
Nic whirled around, grabbing onto her shoulders. It was too late. Her fist had connected with his chin.
“Cyn,” Nic soothed, attempting to hold onto her. “It’s okay. Calm down. Relax. Breathe.”
Angela rushed over at that time also, grabbing Cyndi’s handbag. Only Wallace stared in confusion–for the first time in his lifetime.
“Open the door!” Angela shouted Wallace’s way, throwing her keychain.
Nic was leading Cyndi back into the house. Angela was following closely behind, still digging through Cyndi’s bag, trying to find something. Wallace finally unfroze himself from the spot and hurried to the door.
“Water!” Angela yelled out another command when they were inside.
Wallace had locked the door before rushing to the kitchen. He returned seconds later to find Nic still holding onto to Cyndi, trying to calm her down. Angela rushed over to his side, grabbing the glass of water from his hand, emptying some powdery contents into it. He watched in silence as she handed Nic the glass after the powder had dissolved.
“Come on,” Nic directed, his voice still soft and soothing. “Drink this.”
It was until they coaxed Cyndi into drinking the full glass that the siblings finally relaxed. Nic still held onto Cyndi as Angela placed the emptied glass on the coffee table.
“This is why we try not to aggravate her,” Angela said, turning to Wallace after another five minutes–when Cyndi’s breathing pattern was back to normal.
“What’s going on?” Wallace asked in his serious tone.
Angela sent Nic a look. She saw Nic nod so she turned back to Wallace. “It’s a hyperactive disorder. She can’t be aggravated or she’ll turn violent, hurting others and herself. She won’t know or remember what happened afterward–only know that she had done something from the scars on us–if it was the case.”
Then Wallace knew why Nic was so scared of aggravating Cyndi. It wasn’t because he was a coward. But because he feared he would trigger her episodes.
Wallace gestured his hand. “I’m sorry. If I hadn’t…”
“It was my fault too,” Nic said.
Angela stared at Cyndi’s placid state in Nic’s arms. “She has been overworking herself lately, huh?”
“That would cause her short of temper and could trigger it too. We have to remind her often to rest or take a break. That’s why she feels even stronger towards wanting to prove herself and that she could do it. We take it too easy on her at our place.”
Wallace nodded again. He needed to process this new piece of information. And re-analyze the situation.
The rest of the time waiting for Cyndi’s recovery was spent with Angela going over more details of Cyndi’s condition. When they were done, it was getting dark outside.
“What happened?” Cyndi asked upon opening her eyes.
“Nothing,” Nic replied. “You decided to take a nap on us.”
Cyndi’s face displayed traces of alarm. She sat straight up again. “Who did I hurt this time?”
“No one. I grabbed your hand in time. And hauled you in here.”
“Since you’re back,” Wallace joined in. “Let’s go eat together.” If they were going to conceal Nic’s injury from Cyndi, he was not going to expose them. He was over the line at times, but he was not going to step past that barrier. It was an unsaid contract in those situations. If one wanted to protect someone else, then let it be.
Angela turned to Wallace with a surprised expression. He nodded his head. She could detect traces of sincerity in his eyes. Her face displayed a look that said she was proud of him–for the first time.
© Wednesday, November 17th, 2010
Posted: Friday, March 11th, 2011