Tea Leaves and Diamond Bracelets

Work Day, Research, and Past Lives

Match Five: Work Day, Research, and Past Lives:


Despite being pregnant, I still have work to do. There is so much to do. The clan has to stay afloat. Szu and her parents need to be reassured that they will be fine. My uncle and Junjie are still on the loose. I took the time to warn Zhong about that.

“My men are on security for that little bastard,” he told me over the phone. “We will be able to handle him.”

“He’s not alone this time,” I said. “He’s working with Jianjun. I don’t know what they are plotting, but please be careful.”

“Thank you for the warning,” he said. “We can handle them from our end.” That didn’t sound so reassuring to me.

“Please be careful,” I said. I worried about that man ever since he learned that Junjie wasn’t his son. Zhong kicked his wife out of the house and filed for divorce. Word on the street was that she’s not happy about that. I wouldn’t put it past her to be on the scene for revenge. My uncle probably kissed up to her to get her on his side.

“He might have your ex on his side,” I added.

“I will keep that in mind,” Zhong said. “Goodbye.” That would be the last time we would speak over the phone. I stared at the receiver.

“You shouldn’t worry too much about it,” Hen-to said. “Zhong is just as stubborn as the old man was.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of,” I said.

“Don’t be,” he said. “You have other things to worry about.”

“Right,” I said. “Of course. What’s on tap today?” Fei handed me the paperwork.

“We have three potential new trade partners,” he said. I looked at all of the papers. All of them old school.

“Fei?” I asked.

“Hm?” he asked.

“We never seem to attract new blood to us,” I said. “It’s all the old generation of traders. We never support any independent or new businesses. Why is that?”

“I don’t know,” Fei said. “We’ve never tried it.” I looked at the papers in my hand.

“Hm,” I said.

“What’s on your mind?” Yao asked. I lowered the papers and looked at my boys.

“Gentlemen,” I said. “I would like to take a gamble today. We are going to being taking some new businesses under our wing.” Hen-to, Fei, and Yao all stared at me.

“What?!” they asked. I put up my hand.

“Hear me out,” I said. “There are so many businesses of the world working to make it. They barely get the chance because of the old generation taking up every opportunity. I don’t want this clan to be just like the old guard. If we are not careful, this clan could end up falling behind with no way to support itself. We have to grow and evolve to stay alive. If we have to open our arms out to new blood, I’ll take that chance.”

“I don’t think we can do that legally,” Yao said.

“We can be silent partners to them,” I said. “I just want to encourage growth to the little guy.”

“What about the trade partners right now?” Fei asked.

“We will check them out and pick the best ones for us,” I said. “We’re going to need all of the money and support we can get to give back to the little guys.” I spread the papers out on the desk.

“What’s in this year?” I asked. How are we going to keep up with the season?” This should do it. The paperwork and meetings shouldn’t be too much. I knew as the months wore on, the mothers would come up with ways to make me stay home and let the men do all of the work. It just doesn’t feel right to do that. I am the leader of this clan and I have to provide for them. Just because I am a woman and pregnant do not mean that work slows down.

But, that is not my only worry.

When I am alone, I start doing some research on past lives. I want to know what is going with Yao so that I can help him. I didn’t want to let him know that Man told me everything. He would probably not tell me anyway. My husband smiles and puts on a brave face. I know because I do the same thing sometimes. Man’s been a real help to me with this.

“Did something trigger this ‘past life’?” I asked.

“He said it was nothing,” Man said.

“That can’t be right,” I said.

“How things going over there with you?” he asked.

“Good,” I said. “He’s excited about Little Bean.”

“Little Bean?”

“The baby.”

“Oh, I see.”

“Plus, we are about to take on a news business tactic.”

Man whistled over the phone. “Wow! I heard the details. I wish you luck.”

“Thank you. Listen, I have taken the liberty of researching past lives. I am looking for what causes people to believe that they have past lives.”

“Don’t tell me that you think you have one too.”

I shook my head. “No. Nothing like that. I just want to understand to help Yao.”

“Ah, gotcha.”

I peeked out the open office door. Oh good, I was still alone. My boys went out to meet one of potential trade partners. They should be back about three. Still, I don’t think I should stay too long in the house. Yao would start asking questions if he heard me talking to Man on the phone. Then he’d stop Man from talking to me about the subject altogether.

“Are you free right now?” I asked.

“Yes,” Man said.

“I’m coming over right now,” I said.

“Alright,” he said. “I will be waiting for you.”

“Thank you,” I said before hanging up. I took in a deep breath. I should be home before they get back.

I knocked on the Sun House’s door.

“Hello, Ju,” Man greeted me.

“Thank you for having me over,” I said. We exchanged bows before I followed him into the house. We didn’t even make it into the living room before I started up with one question that I had to ask.

“What do you think of all of this?” I asked. Man pushed up his silver framed glasses.

“I don’t believe in it myself,” he said. “You get one life to live and then you die.”

“So… where does the past life concept come from?” I asked.

“There are many factors that play into it,” Man said. “Mental illness, stress, religion… There have been countless studies on the subject. It’s all like religion itself, really.”

“And you think stress or mental illness is causing this for Yao?” I asked.

“I cannot say for certain. I will need to observe him on my own,” he said.

“Right,” I said. “I will keep doing my research.”

“Would you like to stay for tea at least?” Man asked. “I mean, you came all of this way.” I took a moment to think about it.

“Alright,” I said. I followed Man further into the house. He glanced over his shoulder at me.

“Ju, may I tell you something?” he asked.

“Hm?” I asked.

“Don’t get mixed up in this past life business,” Man said, turning to me. “If you do, you will lose sight of the future. You have too much at stake for you to lose yourself like that. Think of Little Bean and the clan.”

“I understand,” I said. I followed Man into the dining room.

I spent dinner looking over information about past lives on my phone over dinner. Yao made me enough food to feed an army this week.

“You don’t have to do all of the cooking, you know?” I said.

“But I don’t want to hear Bik and the other mothers chewing me out because I made you cook over a hot stove.”

“But I don’t want to feel so useless around the house,” I said. “Please let me do something!”

“You just rest and let me take care of you,” Yao said.

“Please?” I asked. “I don’t want to die of boredom.” My husband patted me on the head.

“You can still do paperwork at the desk,” he said. “That’s going something. I frowned with his hand on my head.

“Uh-huh,” I said in a flat tone.

“I’m home,” I heard Yao say back in present day. I didn’t even look up from my phone as he walked into the dining room.

“Welcome back,” I said. I turned to see him standing in the doorway. “How did it go?”

“Pretty good,” Yao said.

“And how are you doing?” I asked.

“I’m okay,” he said. He’s lying. I forced myself to smile as I turned off my phone.

“Cool,” I said. “Are we free tomorrow?” Yao raised his eyebrow at me.

“Why?” he asked.

“We might as well spend as much time together as we can before Little Bean is born,” I said. “Babies take up everything as they grow up. I just want us to make some dates here and there in between work.” I looked at him with big puppy dog eyes. Yao turned his head away.

“Fine,” he said. “I’ll take you out on a date tomorrow.” I leapt up and hugged him wildly.

“Oh! I love you so much!” I said. Yao pulled me into his arms.

“Yes, I love you too,” he said. I rested my head against his chest. I don’t know what’s wrong with him, but I will do my best to help him. I won’t tell him what I am doing for the time being. Besides, we have other things to worry about as well.

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