Xin-Xin sat in a corner booth observing the people on the street walking back and forth past the windows at the front of the cafe. Guessing the life style of each person was a game she often indulged in when trying to kill time. She watched the dust in the air as the sun was slowly sinking below the horizon. A hazy gray shadow descended softly until it settled silently in the street. She leaned forward, peering intensely through the ghostly veil to scrutinize as many wayfarers as possible before the last embers of sunlight died and rendered faceless all that passed before her.
She glanced up expectantly at the cafe entrance each time she heard the tiny greeting bell tinkle as the door opened. Her friend should have been here by now and would be a welcome sight walking through the door. Although each stranger was a momentary disappointment, Xin-Xin did get another opportunity to carefully observe them with anonymity.
A familiar melody nudged its way into her preoccupied thoughts which she quickly recognized as her ring tone. Although she enjoyed listening to the melody very much, she hurriedly dug through her large hand bag and managed to locate her cell phone and answer it before the song could repeat itself. “Hello, hello, are you there? ... Well, how much longer before you get here?
... Only 15 minutes? OK, I’ll order beverages first and wait until you arrive to order food.”
She snapped her cell phone shut and put it in her purse as she walked to the counter to order. After carefully studying the menu, she determined that it would be cheaper to order the beverage and food together but hesitated to order because she didn’t want the food to get cold while waiting for her friend. “Is it possible to order the complete meal and have the food prepared later?” she asked. “My friend hasn’t arrived yet.”
With the cashier’s affirmative reply, she ordered her meal, paid and then returned to her table with the drinks and an order number placard. Anticipation of dining on delicious food caused a hunger to begin gnawing at her stomach, which only aggravated her frustration over the fact that Fu-Rong (Foo-Wrong) was the only friend that had agreed to meet her on such short notice. And now she had no choice but to wait. But, at least she had the drinks to help pass the time and avoid looking so out of place, just sitting there at a bare table. And why do I suddenly worry about other people’s opinions?
Must be those bitches! She thought as she recalled the events of the afternoon. Listening at the door of the break room, straining to hear what her colleagues were gossiping about. Discovering that Ya-Pin had told everyone she knew about their affair, just to get revenge for being fired. Fortunately Mr. Li had believed her lies and had dismissed Ya-Pin. She had Li’s ear for the moment but eventually, the whole company would be gossiping about them and then she would be forced to choose between Mr. Li and her boyfriend.
She was not conscious of her almost imperceptible whimsical smile when she thought about how Mr. Li’s sweet demeanor touched her heart; Only 35 years old and exceedingly handsome with smooth soft skin. When they first met, she could not tell what kind of mood he was in because his mouth naturally curved upwards at the corners in a smile that always gave the impression that he was in a good mood.
He always wore the best clothes money could buy and of course, he could easily afford it because his business was very successful. All of this was made possible by his well-to-do family financing his education at the best National University and providing start up funds to establish a prominent law firm in Taipei. The perfect “catch” for any woman if not for the fact that he had a wife!
Her thoughts had brought her full circle to the beginning point of her unpleasant dilemma. Yesterday afternoon she had gone to see Mr. Li a little past 7:30. She walked into the office playfully whining and pouting on the outside but underneath she was a little worried about the situation with the case files she had given to Ya-Pin to finish. With the usual ingratiating smile, he had asked her what she had on her mind. “Well,” she began, “I was overloaded with work and gave the domestic abuse divorce case to Ya-Pin to prepare for your court appearance tomorrow. But she left at 6:00 o’clock to celebrate her boy friend’s birthday without completing all the required documents. I thought I should give you a warning that the dossier may not be ready in time for you to review prior to court.”
“Ya-Pin knows how critical this case is, and I know she is very capable and dedicated. I don’t think she will have any problem completing it on time. Even though she left, I believe that she still feels confident that she can finish it on time.”
Xin-Xin was instantly jealous to hear her lover praise another woman; especially one she considered to be inferior to her. “If she is so good, then you can give all my assignments to her and I won’t have to do any work at all. I’m sure she won’t have a problem handling it!”
“I didn’t’ mean it that way. You know I think you are the best assistant in the office.” He was a little surprised when he saw her reaction and put his hand on her shoulder to console her as he went to shut the office door. “There’s no need to get so jealous over such a small compliment to Ya-Pin.”
“You think I’m jealous? I never complain when you go home every time you get a call from your wife. I haven’t even asked you to divorce her. So how can you say I get jealous too easily?”
“You are so smart, understanding and independent” he said obsequiously, “and I feel so relaxed and pleasant when I am with you. When I go home, my wife only complains that I am always too busy working to spend time with her. No wonder, since all she wants me for is to drive from one shop to the next to spend my hard earned money. After we married she just stayed at home with our boy while I worked day and night to make enough money to satisfy her spending habits. Just a yellow cheeked old woman that can’t even support herself! Why did I ever marry her in the first place?”
He put his arms around her waist and leaned forward to kiss her but she gently pushed against him. Even so, he continued his amorous advances, quickly slipping his hands inside her blouse to unhook her bra. At first she did not resist but then she quickly pulled his hands away. “Stop, I don’t like it! We’ve never had sex in the office before! Someone might discover us.” she said.
He was momentarily startled and chided himself for his reckless oversight. He carefully surveyed the outer office area before locking the door and closing the blinds. Satisfied that they were secure, he picked up where he left off, with a determined and lusty grin on his face. “We have never done it on the desk!“, he chortled as he cleared off a corner of the desk with a brisk sweeping motion of his arm, sending documents flying helter-skelter across the floor.
Impatiently, but with great skill, he again slid his hands inside her blouse and with one deft motion unhooked her bra to expose her ample soft breasts. He lifted her onto the corner of the desk and pressed his body between her partially open legs, forcing them completely apart. Then he began kissing her neck fervently and softly caressed her silky smooth, youthful breasts. She let out a passionate sigh as he kissed her nipples through her blouse.
The clothing on their bodies masked the longing desire burning beneath. Xin-Xin was thinking how similar it was to a smoldering fire that left one gasping for breath in the smoke. She knew how to play the game in order to prolong the fulfillment of intense anticipation. At the right moment she would fan the glowing embers of her lover’s passion into a raging blaze. Of course Li was an accomplished partner and played the game well himself. The ebb and flow of progress toward the gratification of their craving reminded her of a pair of wrestlers cautiously but deliberately circling, with bodies locked, waiting for the advantage that would result in the “take down”.
Li whispered in her ear, “If only I had met you before I married my wife.” Xin-Xin smiled sweetly but they were both startled out of their dalliance by the clicking sound of the door knob. “Is someone there?” Xin-Xin asked. They both froze, silent, to listen for any sounds outside. Then Xin-Xin quickly straightened her dress and started toward the door to take a look but Li stopped her. “Everyone left the office at quitting time. How can there be anyone out there? Don’t be so jumpy.” Still not satisfied, Xin-Xin turned to the door, intending to walk over and open it but Li again held her in his arms, bowing his head to peer intensely into her eyes. “If I divorce my wife, will you give up your boyfriend?”
She momentarily lost interest in going to the door while she attempted to grasp the full implication of what she had just heard. Even though they had been having an affair for a long time, Li had never mentioned divorce before. As she felt the joy of a victory, her first impulse was to fall into his arms and fully commit to his request but, she restrained herself for the moment. She had never expected to be faced with the quandary of choosing between two lovers and was suddenly confused by her reluctance. I had better take some time to consider all the possibilities before I make a decision. Perhaps I should discuss this with a friend.