Tea Leaves and Sapphire Earrings

Dinner Party

Match Twelve: Dinner Party:

-July 23rd, 1988-

Khai had to build a lasting bond between the three couples. The one sure way would be to throw a dinner party. Hen-to and Fei had their suspicions at first.

“A dinner party, sir?” Hen-to asked. “Pardon me for asking, but why?” Khai smiled as he put his arm around his advisor.

“Hen-to, buddy,” he said. “Why do you sound like you think that I am plotting something?” His advisor narrowed his eyes but did not speak.

“Who all is invited?” he asked instead.

“You, Fei, your girlfriends, Daiyu, and me,” Khai said, causally. Hen-to raised his eyebrow.

“Are you sure she would be up for that?” he asked.

“I’ll let her stay out as long as she wants,” his boss said. “We won’t be staying up too long.” His advisor shrugged and stepped back.

“Whatever,” he muttered. Khai clapped his hands together and smiled.

“Great,” he said. “We will be starting on Friday six.”

“Main house, huh?” Hen-to asked.

“That’s right,” Khai said. Then he walked out of his office. His advisor stood there, feeling like he got played—again.

-Friday, 6:00 p.m.-

Hen-to waited outside of his house and looked at his watch.

“She’s late,” he muttered. Hen-to looked back at his house. Maybe he could go back inside and make a call. Hen-to froze. No, he should trust her. She would’ve called if she couldn’t make it. Hen-to sighed. This suit wasn’t comfortable. He straightened his tie again.

“Hey!” someone shouted. Hen-to lifted his head. Bik raced up the dirt path with her purse in her hand. Her boyfriend tilted his head.

“I’m sorry I’m late,” Bik said once she stopped. Hen-to gave her a strange look.

“You didn’t have to get too dressed up,” he said. Her black and red dress hugged her curves. The nursing student frowned.

“I had to look nice for your boss,” she said.

“My boss…” Hen-to mumbled with a nervous laugh. It still felt weird to call him that. Granted, Khai did give him the house that he lived in and paid rather well. But still…

“So, where are we eating?” Bik asked, interrupting his thoughts. Her boyfriend looked up at her.

“Hm? Over there,” he said.

“Where?” she asked. Hen-to pointed across the street. Bik turned to see the big main house. Her face dropped.

“You live near your boss?” she asked.

“Not my idea. His idea,” he said. The nursing student turned back to him.

“Are you serious?” she asked. She hoped to see him smile and laugh. But he looked at her, stone-faced.

“No,” he said.

“Oh…” Bik muttered.

Three couples sat at the long fancy table in the dining room of Khai and Daiyu’s house. Bik and Hen-to sat staring at the rest of the guests. Fei and Cai sat across from them. The main couple sat on opposite ends of the table. Candles were lit on the table. Khai grinned the whole time.

“Welcome, everyone,” he said. “Thank you for coming.” No response. Khai looked at his guests. “How is everyone tonight?” Low mumbles filled the dining room.

“Aw come on,” he said. “Liven up. How is everyone tonight?”

“Fine,” Fei said.

“Good,” his boss said. “And you?” He looked over Cai.

“Me?” she asked. All eyes settled on her. The library volunteer looked around at everyone.

“Oh… Uh… Uh… Fine, I guess,” she said.

“That’s great to hear,” the clan leader said. “Would you like more wine?”

“Yes!” Cai was quick to say. Khai handed Fei the bottle of wine.

“Please serve your beautiful girlfriend,” he said.

“Oh, that’s fine. He doesn’t have to,” Cai said, waving him off.

“No,” Khai insisted. “It would be bad manners if you poured your own drink. Please, Fei. Go ahead.” His advisor poured his girlfriend a drink.

“Thank you,” Cai said. She took a drink of her wine.

“Dear, would you like a drink?” the clan leader asked.

“I just took my medication earlier,” Daiyu said.

“Oh, that’s right,” Khai said. “I forgot. I apologize.” Hen-to and Fei looked at him with unease.

“Anyway, anyone else want more to drink?” Khai asked. The rest of the guests didn’t speak.

“Okay then,” he said. The clan leader looked up at the clock.

“Ah,” he said. “The first course is ready.” Khai stood up from the table. “Excuse me.” He walked over to the kitchen. The guests turned their heads. Khai cooking? Khai cooking? Hen-to and Fei turned to Daiyu. Their dear friend smiled.

“He had me taste everything,” she said.

“Can he cook?” Hen-to whispered.

“Uh-huh,” Daiyu said. She seemed to have too much faith in her fiancée. Love cane make someone blind. Her old friends shivered.

“So how are you this evening?” Bik asked Daiyu. The young ill girl looked up.

“I’m fine, a bit tired,” she said.

“Do you think you will be staying with us long?” Hen-to asked.

“I think so,” his old friend said. She looked so beautiful in her light blue dress with little butterflies in her hair.

“Those are cute,” Cai said, pointing at the butterflies.

“Oh, thank you,” Daiyu said. “Khai bought these for me.” She reached up and touched a white crystal butterfly in her hair. “I’m just scared that they might get broken if I wear them every day.”

“It’s okay,” Khai said from the kitchen. “I could just set you a new set if you want.” Everyone looked up to see him walking back to the dining room with a tray in his hand.

“Thank you for waiting,” he said. “For an appetizer tonight, I made Jiaozi dumplings.” Hen-to and Fei gave him odd looks.

“This is all I know to make for dumplings,” the clan leader said. He walked around the table and served the guests. Hen-to looked up at his boss. He had to be nice to his host.

“Thank you,” he said in a low voice. Khai goes over to Bik’s plate. Everyone got three dumplings each. Fei poked one of them with his chopstick.

“Is this cook enough?” he mumbled to himself. Cai nudged him hard in the arm.

“Ow,” he mumbled.

“Be nice,” she whispered. Fei tried to open his mouth but his girlfriend glared at him. The advisor closed his mouth and dropped his shoulders. Khai took his place at the head of the table.

“You can go ahead and start eating,” he said. He picked up his chopsticks and put a dumpling in his mouth. The guests stared at him, waiting. At first, Khai was just chewing with no words. Cai raised her eyebrow. The clan leader held up his chopsticks.

“These are actually good,” he said. “A bit chewy, but good.” Everyone else took bites into their dumplings. The clan leader watched his guests eating.

“Wow,” Hen-to said. “These are good.”

“Is there anymore?” Cai asked.

“Oh yes,” the host said. “Hang on.” Khai passed around the tray for all to take seconds. He smiled and winked at Daiyu. His beloved as she quietly ate her Jiaozi. Khai decided to give everyone a moment before he went to the main course.

“Fei, Hen-to,” he spoke up. “A word.” The advisors looked confused.

“Why?” Fei asked.

“Just come with me,” Khai said. The clan leader stood up and walked out of the dining room. Fei and Hen-to looked at each other before following behind. The ladies were left at the table looking just as confused.

“What did you want?” Hen-to asked in the hallway. “Why did you call us up here?” Khai quickly shushed them.

“Not so loud,” he whispered.

“But why are we up here?” Fei asked. Their boss smiled.

“I figured this would be a good time to let the women get to know each other for a little bit,” he whispered. “They can’t do that with us sitting around.” The advisors gave him strange looks.

“And how long are we staying up here?” Hen-to asked. Khai shrugged.

“I don’t know,” he said.

“You don’t know?” Fei asked.

“Look, I will let you know when we can go back down,” the clan leader said.

“And what are we going to do up here?” Hen-to asked.

“Just stay up here until we are ready to go back down,” Khai said without missing a beat. The advisors frowned at him.

The women sat alone at the table downstairs. Cai looked at the clothes that Daiyu and Bik were wearing. Compared to her simple brown and grey dress, they looked like royalty.

“Uh…” Cai spoke up. The other two women looked up at her. The volunteer librarian closed her mouth.

“Never mind,” she mumbled.

“No,” Bik said. “Go on. Tell us what you were going to say.” Cai froze with her heart pounding against her chest. Her eyes shifted back and forth between the nursing student and Daiyu.

“It will sound stupid,” she muttered.

“I doubt it,” the nursing student said. “Just say it anyway.”

“Promise you won’t laugh?” Cai asked.

“We can’t do that,” Daiyu said. Bik and Cai looked up at the clan leader’s fiancée. She smiled and put up her hands.

“We don’t even know what you are going to say,” Daiyu said. “If we do promise not to laugh and then we do laugh after you say it, wouldn’t we be breaking our promise?” Cai took a moment to think about it. She dropped her shoulders and sighed.

“I just feel undressed compared to your dresses tonight,” Cai admitted in a low voice. The other two women didn’t speak at first. The volunteer librarian lowered her head.

“Really?” Bik asked. “I was told that I was too dressed up for this dinner party.” Cai lifted her head.

“Huh?” she asked.

“I only dressed up to impress my boyfriend’s boss,” Bik admitted.

“This was my favorite dress,” Daiyu said. “I’ve had this since I was nineteen.” Cai sat there, waiting for them to say they were just playing with her and teasing her plain dress. When they didn’t, she didn’t know what to say. Bik reached out for her hand.

“It’s okay,” she said. “We don’t have to be all high-class and fancy.”

“Wow,” was all Cai could say. The ladies looked up when they heard someone clearing their throat. Khai, Hen-to, and Fei stood in the doorway of the kitchen. The clan leader clapped his hands.

“It’s so good to see you ladies getting along,” he said. “But I think it’s time for the main course.” Bik raised her eyebrow.

“And what would that be?” she asked.

“Sesame honey chicken and mushroom pork with white rice,” Khai said. “I had a little help making it.”

“I help him,” Daiyu admitted. “I just told him what he needed to do.” Turned out, the main course was really good. Khai, Hen-to, and Fei were all happy to see Daiyu cleaning her plate for a change.

“What did you put in this food to get her to eat?” Fei whispered. Khai just shrugged.

“I just cooked it,” he said.

“Is there anymore?” Daiyu asked. The men stared at her with big eyes.

“Uh… Sure,” Khai said. He passed the dish down the other end of the table. Cai served her the chicken and pork. For dessert, everyone had sweetheart cake and white sugar sponge cake. Khai sat back and smiled as everyone ate.

“Perfect,” he mumbled to himself. Now he just needed to get everyone down the aisle and everything would be set in just the right place.

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