Chapter 15 – Chaos

The next day, Chris was rubbing his forehead while he consumed his coffee. He was waiting for Cynthia, Andy, and Achel to grab theirs before the meeting. Yes, he was back and needed to catch up on matters. Ehlo was finally finished with fixing the shop for now. He would have been done, but Wallace and Cynthia wanted some additional changes, so it took a little more time. That and how he was working on three other projects too, so it was delayed. Not to mention for the shop to air out a bit before going back there, which might be by the end of the week.

“My head is going to explode soon,” Chris said.

“You didn’t have to drink, you know,” Mark chided, obviously annoyed.

Yes, Mark was also there. He mentioned wanting to come and meet the others. Yet it seemed suspicious that he didn’t come with Chris but was on his own. Was he out the whole night last night? What was even more suspicious that he did not realize that Chris had gotten drunk again and was nursing his hangover at the moment. If he were there at Bryant’s last night, he would have known Chris got drunk, right?

“It was just several glasses,” Chris mumbled. “Can you not be so loud at the moment?”

“I’m using my normal voice,” Mark said.

“Just lower it a little more, please.”

“I don’t know why I have to be the mature one around here.”

“Your whining doesn’t make you mature.”

“It’s this early and you two are fighting already?” Ehlo asked, walking up to them.

Ehlo was used to meeting up with them, so he thought he would show up as well—before heading to his meeting location, that was. He needed to get some food anyway.

“Funny,” Chris said. “And keep your volume down, please, I beg you, man.”

“Are you sure you don’t have an alcohol issue?” Ehlo asked, sitting down between Mark and Chris.

“You people and your alcohol,” Mark mumbled. “You’re all the same.”

“Hey, if you’re mad at someone, Little Bro, don’t take it out on me,” Chris said, clutching his head again.

“I’ll bet it’s somehow your fault anyway.”

After saying those words, Mark got up and left.

“Hey,” Chris called out, removing his hand from his forehead and looking at Mark’s back. “What’s with the attitude? I thought you said you wanted to join us.”

“I was just here to buy some stuff for Jan jie. She might like the soup.”

“And you thought your brother does not need soup? I think I need it more than her.”

Mark finally turned around yet didn’t walk back to them. “I’m pretty sure you don’t need it. You managed to make it out of the house to be here.”

“Is Jan sick or something?” Ehlo asked, his expression worried.

“Worse.”

“How much worse?”

“She got drunk last night and probably can’t get out of bed today.”

Ehlo got up from his seat. “What? She stood us up to go and get drunk?”

“I’m pretty sure it had to do with you guys.”

“Don’t go throwing around accusations, kid. I’m sure her boss was at fault. She canceled on us because of overtime.”

Mark wrinkled his face. “What?”

“What do you mean ‘what’? She didn’t tell you?”

“She didn’t have overtime yesterday. In fact, she got off work a little early and even hauled me out to eat. Then she just had to order alcohol.”

“What?” Chris asked, getting up from his seat at that time, his headache forgotten. “She ditched us on purpose?”

Ehlo was still looking at Mark, wondering if Mark was putting them on. It was hard to tell these days. “You’re not kidding, right?”

Mark scoffed. “Yeah, I have all the time in the world. I’m joking, haha.”

After saying that, he turned to leave. What was surprising was how Ehlo and Chris ended up following him to the parking lot.

“Why are you guys following me?” Mark asked. “It’s not like you cared about Jan jie. You’re just nosy.”

“Hey, that’s really hurtful, Little Bro,” Chris said. “I want to go visit her. Whatever those people did to make her mad, I have nothing to do with it, okay? She called Jacky to cancel, it must be them.”

“Hey!” Ehlo said. “You sure know where to put the blame.” He turned to Mark. “No need to haul a Taxi, I’ll take you.”

“No, thanks,” Mark said. “I wouldn’t want to owe you anything.”

“Hey, stop being so calculative. I want to visit her too, okay?”

Mark wasn’t convinced. “Don’t you two have to work?”

“Very flexible hours,” Ehlo said.

“It was just a little meeting,” Chris said. “I could call Cynthia and apologize to her. She would understand. I’ll just have Chen Yi brief me later.”

“How responsible of you,” Mark said, his tone full of mockery.

“Come on, kid,” Ehlo said. “What’s the harm? We want to get to the bottom of this.”

Mark turned to them. “Don’t make a scene then.”

Ehlo saluted. “Got it.”

Chris nodded also.

So, the three of them got into Ehlo’s car and left. Chris called Cynthia—like he said—and told her what happened. He didn’t really provide the details; it was just that something came up and he had to leave with Ehlo. It wasn’t really a lie. They needed to find out what was wrong before they could tell everyone else.

It took about twenty minutes to get to the Chang mansion. The guard saw Mark and let them in. When Ehlo drove past the gate and into the circular area in front of the mansion, they saw Jan making her way down from the front steps. Chris hopped out from the back seat as Ehlo barely managed to park to one side.

“Hey,” Chris greeted her. “I thought you weren’t feeling well.”

“What are you doing here?” Jan asked, her face passive.

“We’re here to see you, of course.”

That was when Jan noticed Ehlo and Mark by a car.

“Mark?” Jan said in her authoritative tone. “Why did you lead them here?”

“They wanted to come,” Mark said. “I didn’t want them to. They promised not to cause trouble.”

Jan ignored Chris and Ehlo completely and continued to address Mark. “I told you already; I don’t want to see any one of them anymore. Was I not clear last night?”

“You were drunk last night,” Ehlo pointed out. “How in the world did you know what you said?”

Jan finally acknowledged Ehlo. “You weren’t there, how would you know what I said and didn’t say?”

Ehlo’s expression had turned to anger. “That’s right. I wasn’t there. Do you know why? Because I was at Jacky’s birthday gathering, the gathering you said you couldn’t make. Because you had overtime.”

Jan shrugged. “So, what? I changed my mind and made up some excuses. I don’t see the problem. Does everyone have to hang out with you guys to be considered important in this town?”

“I’m acting like I’m some important person?” Ehlo asked, pointing at himself. “Look in the mirror. You’re the one acting like you’re some royalty who doesn’t want to associate with us all of a sudden.”

“Then you can leave, you know. You don’t have to be here. Last I checked, this is my house, not yours.”

“This isn’t your house; you didn’t earn it. Your dad is the owner of this house.”

That comment looked like it had gotten to Jan. Or perhaps, that was a part of their imagination. Because the hurt look from Jan’s face disappeared faster than they were able to see it. Instead, she had on her amused smile. “Whatever you say, you’re the expert. And you know what? You’re right. But what can you do about it? You don’t own it either.”

After saying that, Jan pushed past them and turned right. She was heading to her car.

“Jan jie,” Mark called out, walking after her.

“Don’t ever let strangers come here again,” Jan said, her voice still passive. “I know it’s hard to say no to your brother, but I don’t trust any one of them.”

“What are you doing here?” They heard someone asked at that time.

All four of them turned to see Victoria walking down the front steps. Before anyone of them could answer though, Jan stepped forward and stopped in front of her sister.

“What do you have in your hand?” Jan asked.

“I think it’s gone on long enough, Janice,” Victoria said, her expression was that of disapproval. “You can’t hold onto this forever. Albert’s not coming back.”

Jan looked panicked, she reached forward and tried to snatch the item in Victoria’s hand. That was when Ehlo lunged forward and grabbed it before Jan could get it.

“Give it to me!” Jan yelled, attempting to snatch it from Ehlo.

“No,” Ehlo said. “You put on a nice show, but I’m not falling for it. You have to tell me why you’re acting like this.’

“Give it to me!” Jan yelled again.

“Don’t give it to her,” Victoria warned. “Just smash it.”

“Who are you, my mom?” Ehlo asked, giving Victoria a cold stare. “Of course, I’m not going to smash it.”

“It’s mine,” Jan said. “Give it to me.”

“Not until you tell me why you’re doing this,” Ehlo said, raising the bottle of some mystery liquid in his hand a little higher.

“Ehlo, stop playing,” Chris said, stepping toward where the three were.

“Yeah, Ehlo,” Mark followed. “Stop messing around.”

“Not backing down,” Ehlo said, his expression determined. “You know I will keep it if you don’t tell me.”

Jan looked like she was thinking it over. Ehlo’s smile became wider, it was like he’d gained some kind of advantage. He knew he was crazy, but he had no choice. She would have to tell him the real version now. Just as Ehlo was celebrating, his smile faded as fast. Because Jan had taken out a utility knife from her bag.

“If you don’t give it to me, I will cut,” Jan threatened. “You can bet on it that I won’t miss.”

“Don’t do it!” Chris and Mark yelled out at the same time. “Ehlo, give it to her!”

“You’re crazy,” Ehlo exclaimed. “Don’t do anything rash.”

“Then give it to me,” Jan repeated the same phrase once again. “I have nothing to lose and you know it.”

“All right, lower it, please,” Ehlo said. “I’m handing it over now. You wouldn’t want to accidentally smash it yourself, right?”

Before Ehlo could give it to her though, the bottle had fallen out of his hand and smashed onto the ground. They were all shocked by the outcome yet Ehlo turned in time to see Victoria’s extended hand.

“Victoria!” Ehlo yelled out.

“Stop it,” Chris said at that time.

“Let go of me!” Jan yelled back, pushing Chris out of the way.

Jan was now crouching on the ground and trying to mop up the liquid with her hand. That had caused her hands to bleed at various places because of the glass shards. Aside from the shards, there was also Victoria’s cell phone. Victoria had used it to toss toward the bottle earlier.

“Are you crazy?” Ehlo said, finally managing to grab Jan’s hands and yanking her up.

Jan looked up and saw Ehlo. He could see the tears on the corner of her eyes. They were threatening to fall. Yet it seemed like she refused to cave in to them. She pushed Ehlo out and attempted to rescue the mystery liquid again. Yet this time, Victoria stepped forward. She grabbed both of Jan’s hands and shook her.

“Stop it! Victoria yelled out. “I’m doing this for your own good. If you don’t let this go, you can’t move forward with your life. You can’t keep living in the past.”

Jan’s tears finally fell. “You have no right!” She pushed Victoria out of the way but was no longer making an attempt to rescue that mystery liquid anymore. “You have no right!”

“This is reality!” Victoria shot back. “You can hate me all you want, but you need to stop wallowing in that misery. You’re making Dad worry. You’re making everyone worry. We can’t stop living just because of it.”

“I never asked you to stop living! Did I ask any of you to do that?”

“You never did, but the way you’re acting, you’re always making everyone worry.”

“What’s going on out here?” A voice asked then.

The others turned to see Ricky Chang walking out of the house. The only person not paying attention was Jan. She looked like she didn’t care.

“Jan? Mark? Why are you two crying?”

Yes, aside from Jan, Mark was also crying. That was why he hadn’t stepped forward to comfort Jan. He was having a hard time controlling himself. And as soon as she heard her name, Jan seemed to become alert again. Instead of answering her father or reacting to them, she turned to walk to her car. She had reached her bloody hand up to wipe away her tears.

“Jan,” Chris called and rushed after her.

Mark wasn’t far behind. He was also trying to wipe away his tears and chase after her as well.

And it was like Chris got there in time because that was when Jan crashed. He managed to catch her before she hit the ground.

*****

An hour later, Chris, Ehlo, and Mark were sitting at the waiting room of the hospital. Jan had already awakened half an hour back. However, only her father was allowed to enter. Victoria, obviously, had been told by her father not to come. The other three had been sitting in silence for the most part. Each time Ehlo tried to strike up a conversation, Mark shut him up. Mark was still upset and was actually sitting on the bench across from Ehlo and his brother. Another fifteen minutes before Ricky Chang appeared again. All three got up and waited for him to speak.

“You all can go,” Mr. Chang said. “Janice doesn’t want to see you.”

“I…” Mark managed, a lump stuck in his throat.

Mr. Chang turned to him. “She doesn’t blame you. But she doesn’t want to see you at the moment either.”

Mark nodded.

Mr. Chang looked at all three faces before continuing. “What happened earlier, it would have happened even if you three weren’t there. But I think it’s best that you two do not see her again.”

He meant Ehlo and Chris.

“I…” Ehlo managed. He was suddenly lost for words. “I didn’t mean to…whatever that was…”

“That was Albert’s last cologne bottle.”

That had stopped Ehlo and Chris from asking anymore questions. They mumbled some words of goodbye before leaving with Mark.

“Hey, where are you going?” Ehlo asked when he saw Mark not stopping at the parking lot. “You came with us.”

Mark turned to look at Ehlo with a cold expression. “I don’t want to talk to either one of you anymore. Stay away from me.”

Chris didn’t seem to have any opinions on that matter. He allowed Mark to leave without any input. Ehlo had given him a look, but it wasn’t like Ehlo didn’t understand. They could only return to Ehlo’s car and leave as well.

*****

On Saturday, Ehlo was seen cleaning the house again. He had volunteered while Angela and Yvonne went to get items for their BBQ. Yes, they were having one. Wallace had insisted. After what had happened on Thursday morning, Ehlo and Chris did a quick recap with the others. They didn’t know what to do to make things better but chose to keep their distance—like Jan had wanted. To distract Ehlo from his guilt trip, they had decided on a small BBQ at Ehlo and Angela’s place.

“Hello?” Ehlo said into his phone about half an hour into cleaning. He was taking a break when Jacky called. “Yeah, why?”

“I want it,” Jacky said.

“Two words: no way.”

“Ehlo.”

“Don’t use that pitiful tone on me, no.”

He hung up after that. He was about to toss his phone back on the table to resume cleaning but changed his mind at the last minute. He lingered for a bit before tapping into Jan’s number real quick.

“You have reached a number that has been disconnected,” An automatic message came on. “Please verify your number and dial it again.”

“What?” Ehlo asked out loud.

“Huang Yu Rong,” Angela’s voice chided at that time. “You haven’t been cleaning.”

Ehlo looked up to see Angela and Yvonne coming back. He also saw Wallace behind them. He was actually sitting on the floor, so it looked like the other three were looming over him at a distance.

“What’s wrong?” Angela asked when she saw his dazed expression.

“Jan disconnected her number,” Ehlo answered.

Angela had on her alarmed expression. “You tried to call her? I thought we agreed to give her space.”

“I…” Ehlo said.

“Well, no harm done,” Wallace said, stepping into the house. “I mean, she disconnected her number, so she wasn’t disturbed anyway.”

“Huh, how caring of you, Huo,” Ehlo said, getting up from his spot.

Wallace shrugged. “I’m just saying if she doesn’t want to be disturbed, we shouldn’t force her to interact with us.” He wasn’t threatened by Ehlo’s intense expression either. “Huang, you didn’t like her in the first place. You didn’t want Jacky nor Chris to move in on her either, which was the right call. This is the best solution. Let her be.”

“How could you say that?” Ehlo asked, as if seeing Wallace for the first time in his life. “Didn’t you even hear what I told you the other day? She threatened to cut herself if I didn’t hand over the cologne bottle.”

“She needs help, yes,” Wallace said, his voice still calm. “That’s what her family’s going to do for her, not us.”

Ehlo scoffed. “Her family? You mean the family that tossed the cell phone that caused the said cologne bottle to slip out of my hand? Or do you mean the family that’s covering things up and brushing it under the rug?”

“I know you blame yourself for what happened, Huang. But that’s far from the truth. You know if you and Chris weren’t there, it would still happen, right? You said it yourself, Victoria was the one bringing that bottle outside. If you weren’t there to argue with them, Jan would have left with Mark. Then what? Victoria would still throw that away while Jan was gone.”

“Yes, I blame myself. But you know what I hated myself even more? Instead of helping her, I used that bottle to my advantage to get some info out of her. I was that cruel, using her possession as a bargaining chip.”

“Even if that was so, you weren’t thinking at that time. But you can’t save the whole world, Huang. You’re not some superhuman. You don’t have to feel responsible for everything. Let them be.”

Ehlo scoffed. “The hell I am. And you know what? You can stop me, but you can’t stop Jacky. I already texted him Jan’s address the minute I found she changed her number.”

Wallace had on a shocked look then, his composure no longer calmed. “You what?”

Ehlo had on his cunning expression then. “You want to play with me? I’ll play with you.”

“Ehlo,” Angela said, grabbing his hand. “Don’t tell me you really did it. You know what Ricky Chang said…”

“To hell with Ricky Chang.”

“You’re bluffing,” Yvonne said then. She’d been quiet since she entered the house. But she’d been observing the situation in silence. “If you really texted Jacky, you wouldn’t be so anxious to try and get Wallace out of your way.”

Ehlo had on his taunting look on. “Oh, really? Wrong this time, Detective Yao. I think your jewelry business had occupied too much of your time that you’re rusty with your investigative skills.”

After saying that, he tossed his cell phone toward Yvonne. She caught it without a problem and checked his phone for evidence. The others waited in silence as Ehlo and Wallace continued to stare each other down.

“He really did text Jacky,” Yvonne a few minutes later.

Ehlo’s smile turned brighter. “How do you like it now?”

“You think it’s wise after what happened the other day?” Wallace asked.

“How worse could it get?”

“You want to bet?”

Wallace turned to leave at that time. Yvonne tossed Ehlo’s phone back to him before following Wallace as well.

“Hey!” Angela called after them and ended up leaving as well.

Ehlo was still able to smile. He also left. However, he took his own car. Angela wasn’t able to catch up to Wallace and Yvonne, so she hopped into Ehlo’s car. She didn’t talk to him for the rest of the way, though.

*****

Jacky was about to give up on trying to convince Ehlo when Ehlo texted him with Jan’s address in addition to the word, “Hurry.” Jacky knew something was wrong, but didn’t see any more messages from Ehlo, so he decided to head to Jan’s house first.

When he got there, Ricky Chang was on his way in, so the gate was still open. Jacky hopped out of his car real quick and tried get past on foot. However, the guard stopped him.

“Please, I need to talk to Jan,” Jacky begged.

That was when Ricky Chang stopped and turned around. He was by the front steps at that point but had turned when he heard some commotions at the gate. The guard had raised his voice to get Jacky to leave.

“Let him in,” Mr. Chang said.

It was sort of quiet in the area, so his command was still audible although he was sort of far from the gate. Also, the same reason as to why he was able to hear the commotion at the gate.

“I thought I was clear the last time,” Mr. Chang said as Jacky was closer.

“I’m sorry, Chairman Chang,” Jacky said. “But I really need to talk to Jan.”

“No. She doesn’t want to see any of you again.”

“But I…”

“I know you weren’t here last time, but remember that day at your house? I wasn’t kidding.”

“I know that, but…”

“Dad, I’m going out,” Jan’s voice said at that time.

That was when the other two turned to see Jan walking out of the house with a bag slung over her shoulder.

Ricky Chang looked worried. “What? You haven’t recovered yet.”

Jan had on her passive look. She shrugged before speaking up. “They’re not broken, are they?” As she turned though, she saw Jacky looking up at her. She could see his sincere eyes, but she looked away before she was affected by it. “I’ll be back before tonight.”

“Jan,” Jacky said, walking toward her.

Jan turned around to face him then, her face still passive. “What? I thought I was clear that day. Your best friend didn’t tell you?”

“Ehlo, he didn’t mean it.”

Jan still had on her blank look. “Didn’t mean what?”

Jacky took out a bottle from his jacket pocket at that time. He handed it to her before saying, “It’s to replace…”

Jan didn’t take the bottle, so Jacky was still holding it. She was staring at him. Like she was mulling things over. “You think it was about the cologne?”

Jacky shook his head. “I know it can’t replace the original bottle, but…”

“You’re right, it can’t replace the original bottle, neither can the person.”

Jan turned to continue to her car then.

“I think it’s best you leave,” Ricky Chang finally said.

Jacky wanted to, but it was like he wasn’t able to. “I’ll drive you.”

That made Jan turned around. “What?”

“Your hand, you can’t steer well with both hands all wrapped up like that.”

“I can take it off,” Jan said.

“No,” Jacky and her father said at the same time.

“I’ll let Gary drive you,” Mr. Chang said then.

Jan turned to her father. “If I wanted someone to tag me, I rather pick him.”

“I want to know why,” Jacky said, not caring if he was being outright rude. “We were getting along so well.”

Jan turned to Jacky again. “You want me to apologize? Is that what you want? I’ll apologize then. It was my fault for leading you to believe we could be friends. It was wrong of me to treat you like Albert. Because he’s dead already. He’s not going to come back. Everyone had made it very clear about how dead he is and that we should all move on, right?”

“Janice, Victoria didn’t mean…” Ricky Chang started to explain.

Jan turned to her father with her disappointed look. “She didn’t mean it? Like she didn’t mean it five years ago? She made it very clear, Dad.”

Jan turned to leave. However, she didn’t walk to her car. Instead, she headed toward the gate and started to open it herself.

“Janice!” Ricky Chang called out.

Jan didn’t care to respond to him anymore, but she started to walk toward the sidewalk.

“Hey!” Ehlo’s voice called out then.

Jan barely turned to see Ehlo’s car slowing down in front of her. She also realized Jacky had been following her silently. Like he didn’t know what to say hence following to keep watch.

“You also want an apology too?” Jan asked when Ehlo had parked his car already. “I’m sorry for wasting your time, is that it? Is it good enough for you?”

After saying that, Jan turned to face front and continued walking.

“Hey!” Ehlo called and got out of the car. Yet he didn’t chase after her. He turned to look at Jacky. “What happened again?”

Jacky shook his head. “Perhaps, I was wrong to come here.”

After saying that, Jacky turned to leave as well. Yet he wasn’t leaving in the same direction as Jan. He had turned to the opposite direction to retrieve his car.

*****

Ehlo was drinking coffee the following Wednesday morning at Cynthia’s shop when Chris walked in with Andy. Wallace was already sitting next to Ehlo. They were indeed getting back to their normal routine, for the most part.

“I heard you finally got yourself to the doctor,” Chris joked as he sat down.

Ehlo gave Chris a sharp glare but didn’t say anything.

“Leave him alone,” Wallace said. “We should all be going to the doctor for our routine checkup.”

Chris shrugged and found some coffee on the counter, so he poured himself a cup before joining them at the table. He had sat at the spot next to Wallace, leaving the spot closer to Ehlo for Andy. Ehlo didn’t look too friendly at the moment. He decided he didn’t want to risk it. Not after that comment seconds ago.

“So, I heard you guys caused another scene at Ricky Chang’s place,” Andy said after sitting down with his coffee.

“Ladies and gentlemen, gossip hour has now officially commenced,” Chris announced, using his master of the ceremony voice.

“Like you weren’t picking on his doctor visit,” Andy said.

Chris shrugged.

“Correction,” Ehlo said, his hostility still apparent. He was writing in his notebook at the moment and was still didn’t care to look at any one of them, except for earlier when he glared at Chris. “We didn’t cause any type of scenes there, okay? Jacky got there before us and of course, things ended by the time we got there. Not that anyone cares about facts nowadays.” He got up from his seat and emptied out his coffee before leaving the break room.

“That went well.”

Wallace also got up at that time.

“Oh, so now you’re mad at me too?”

Wallace turned to look at Chris. “What? I got a meeting with Ambrose.”

“Then why did you come here for?”

“To drop Ehlo off.”

“His car’s in the shop again? Seriously, if his car breaks down that much, he needs a new one, not continuing to support the local mechanics. I mean, I respect mechanics, but…”

“His car’s fine,” Wallace cut Chris off. “He’s not focused lately. Angela’s worried. I don’t want him to drive into some ditch either, so we convinced him to let us drive him for now.”

“What’s wrong with him?”

Wallace gave Chris a look that said, “We’re going to do it here? Now?”

“No, man. I mean, he’s acting really strange. Even I’m worried. You think I’m happy about it? I just want to make jokes to cope.”

Wallace shrugged. “I don’t know. It might have to do with what happened at the Chang mansion. He probably still blames himself and if he can’t fix something that he did, you know, hostility. Give him some time, don’t pester him too much about it. Even if it kills you, I know.”

Chris looked a little more relieved. Like he wanted to believe Wallace because Wallace knew Ehlo way before he did. So he hoped Wallace’s words were true—and not just said out of courtesy to comfort them all. “Okay then.”

Since Chris seemed satisfied with that answer, Wallace turned to leave as Chris and Andy moved on to another topic of discussion.

*****

Wallace lied. Again. He didn’t really have a meeting with Ambrose. At least not at that very minute. Or within an hour that he needed to rush out of the shop to go fight the traffic. Or anything like that. The meeting was actually in the afternoon. He went to the park. Again. To meet Jan. They were sitting at the same spot as last time. She arrived five minutes later, just like last time.

“What happened at your house the last two times,” Wallace began when she had settled at the seat across from him. “I’m sorry.”

Jan shrugged. “No big deal. It wasn’t your fault. You weren’t there. You couldn’t predict the future. At least, they’ve been staying away. So I think my work is done.”

Wallace studied her face. Like her shield was so strong that he wasn’t able to detect any trace of emotions at all. He wondered how long it had taken her to learn that trait.

“Don’t look at me like that,” Jan warned.

“What?”

“The pity.”

“I didn’t…”

Jan shook her head. “You said you wanted to be upfront with me about matters. Why bother covering it up now?”

“Why are you doing this?”

“What?”

“Your shield, don’t you think it’s exhausting?”

Jan got up at that time, her back to Wallace before saying, “Do you think I have a choice?”

After that, she left.

Wallace got up as well, trying to chase after her. “Hey!’

She didn’t say anything else; she just increased her pace. He didn’t know what else to say or do to make the situation better. Either of them wasn’t going to change their minds anyway. Yet he wasn’t worried for her since she managed to haul a Taxi shortly after standing by the sidewalk.

And because Wallace was so focused on Jan that he didn’t realize a familiar car passed by toward the end of their conversation—and saw them. It was Jacky—and Ehlo.

© Saturday, November 7th, 2020

Posted: Friday, January 29th, 2021

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