Life for Qian was totally different now that he was living with Yan-Luo. Although he had previously spent considerable time entertaining female companions, it was always on his terms with no extended obligations and consequently he had retained his freedom. But now, dealing exclusively with one woman on a perpetual basis severely limited his options. It was extremely difficult to give up the characteristic diversions of a prominent bachelor in exchange for nurturing a relationship with a single woman. The fact that he loved Yan-Luo so deeply prevented him from admitting to himself how burdensome this change in his life had become.
The adjustment was also difficult for Yan-Luo. During her marriage, she had always stayed at home with only the servants for company while her husband spent most of his time dealing with the family business. She did not want this relationship to develop into the same pattern of isolation and loneliness. She wanted to be together with Qian every possible moment and asked him to hire her to work at Yin Yang. Her plan was to learn how the company operated and help ease the burden of management so he could spend more time with her.
He finally agreed to give her a position as special assistant to him but the result was vastly different from the outcome she had envisioned. Everyone in the company knew that she was Qian’s fiancée and avoided interacting with her as much as possible for fear of unintentionally saying something offensive that could cost them their job. There was much speculation as to why she was working here in the first place and the popular consensus was that she was keeping an eye on Qian to make sure other women would not try to steal him away from her.
Of course they had no idea that due to her absence in Malaysia she was totally unaware of his previous lifestyle or they would have drawn a different conclusion. And, Qian was quite adamant about refraining from any involvement with female employees; adhering to the metaphoric advice of the old adage that the rabbit does not eat its nest grass.
She had difficulty functioning in the workplace setting from the start. She had no previous work experience, no knowledge of the company’s business model and no authority to control any business activities. She was relegated to answering phones and running simple errands. She felt like some exotic vase that people viewed as an office ornament as they passed by.
She had no feeling of self-worth and Qian’s business entertainment activities did not decrease; resulting in a heightened state of loneliness and resentment. He frequently left early in the morning to play a round of golf before going to the office. The few times that she had accompanied him on business related events that continued into the early hours of the morning, she was exhausted all of the next day at the office. She was amazed by his extraordinary stamina.
She started arriving at the office late and gradually the delay increased to the point where she would quite often not show up until late morning. Sometimes, she would entice him into engaging in a session of morning sex before going to the office just to have more time alone with him. But after he ended up missing a few important business meetings, he began to feel like a negligent monarch whose kingdom would soon collapse. So, further efforts on her part to seduce him were an exercise in futility. She continued trying to convince him that he did not have to spend so much time at the office.
“You have enough money to hire someone to take over some of your duties. Then you wouldn’t always be so exhausted.”
“There is no one that has the capabilities to perform my function and even if there were, I could not trust them to have access to our proprietary agreements. This is not a subject open for any more discussion.”
His rebuff of her suggestion made her very unhappy and she employed another tactic to achieve her goals by turning down invitations to social business functions; especially those booked at hotel men’s entertainment clubs. She didn’t understand nor condone the need for men to conduct business with the accompaniment of enticing seductive women. And the oft repeated rationalization “I’m forced to do it for business” rankled her every time she heard it.
But as hard as she tried, she could not totally prevent Qian from attending business functions at the clubs. On one such night, she called around until she located him and then told him she felt ill and asked him to come home and check on her. Then she dressed in sultry lingerie and prepared a candle light meal with wine and Qian’s favorite dishes.
He rushed home to see what the trouble was and when he arrived and discovered that her call was a ruse to get him away from the club, he became furious.
“You lied to me and caused me to abandon important clients at a reception that they hosted for me. In any case that was extremely rude but justifiable in a situation of personal emergency. And then I come home to find out that the actions of a willful selfish woman caused me to insult them.”
She poured a glass of wine, lit a cigarette and calmly walked over to Qian who was sitting on the sofa fuming. She sat on his lap and started talking to him in a half drunk demur voice, imitating her impression of a club lady. He pushed her away angrily.
“What the hell are you doing?”
Yan-Luo erupted and vented her repressed frustration.
“You don’t like the way the club ladies treat you? Why do you go to the clubs then?”
“Oh, so that’s why you called me to come home. Now I can add jealousy to your list of faults. How could you ever think that I would be happy to come home and see you acting like a prostitute?”
She couldn’t believe that her loving man could say such cruel things to her. It reminded her of how the Du family had slandered her and realized that, in a way, her actions tonight resembled her seduction of Du-Wei in order to free herself and return to Taiwan.
Nonetheless, she could not hold back the rage provoked by his admonishment. She smashed her wine glass on the floor and brushed everything off the table with a forceful sweep of her arm.
They had never had such an intense quarrel before and he did not know how to react to it. He stood there in silence for a moment and then quickly left the house angrily slamming the door behind him. Once outside he found himself longing for the compassion and comfort that Kaori always gave him when he was suffering from pressure and frustration. She provided far more comfort than Yan-Luo and he wondered why he could not love this woman.
When he realized that he had unconsciously started walking to Kaori’s house he was filled with a strong sense of well being in anticipation of a long overdue reunion. But, when he got there she was not at home. He let himself in with the spare key and sat on the sofa reflecting on their relationship. He started feeling guilty about being a bad lover; only seeking her company when he needed comfort. He now realized that he was not willing to give her up even if he was married to Yan-Luo.
He finally tired of waiting and left some money on the table for the next month’s living expenses and a note that said “Miss you! I will come again” and then left. On his way out he had cooled down a little and began thinking about his earlier quarrel with Yan-Luo and concluded that it was unnecessary and stupid. No wonder she was so angry. He understood how hurtful his words had been to her. After all, he was going to marry her and he decided that he could accept the small sacrifice of a little time and money to give her happiness.
With this new frame of mind his feelings for Kaori slowly faded into the background as he returned home.