Indeed, it would be beyond the chief’s reach if Sang Qi had made his complaint directly to the HQ.
Even at the face of this disastrous predicament, I could not deny the he had always been nice to me. It would be too selfish of me to get him involved just for my own sake.
I tried to show him a smile in hopes of comforting him, “Don’t worry, sir. I know it’s all my fault. I deserve it; I’m sorry that you have to be reprimanded by the HQ because of me. I’ll go through the exit formalities as planned.”
At the last statement, I turned around to leave. The chief editor's voice called out behind me as I opened the door, its former rage lost and replaced with a gentle tone, "You will have three months’ salary for compensation. That's all I can do for you."
My grip tightened on the knob, knowing that it was the best he could offer as a final farewell. I bowed deeply to him in courtesy and respect before I staggered out.
The clouded vision I adapted made me feel like this was some horrible nightmare. The trance led me to oppose what I had previously stated in the office; I did not feel like going to the HR department yet, so I stumbled to my desk first and drank water from a jug.
It was now deep autumn, and in the freezing weather, the water was cold as ice.
Still, I gulped it down, and it stuck in my throat like a painful lump.
I tried to swallow more in an effort to numb all my worries, but it only proved to be a sore lodged in my stomach.
My mood was as gloomy and bleak as the present season’s wind, and was as cold as the icy liquid I had forcefully shoved down inside me. I was kicked out of my husband’s house by my mother-in-law yesterday, and lost my job today.
I had nowhere to go but back to the luxurious villa where I had last spent the night.
As I trudged in the estate, I found that a luxurious meal for lunch was prepared on the table once again.
I ate in silence, wondering if it was because I was pregnant that I had a good appetite despite the rampant feelings of negativity churning in my chest.
Time passed and when I almost finished dining, Xiao Jin came and placed a stack of books on the table.
I glanced at the set, absent curiosity lining my gaze before I started feeding myself again.
“Miss Xia, these are the books brought by Mr. Dong. He wants you to read these when you’re free,” said Xiao Jin, beaming with sparkling eyes.
I furrowed my brows in confusion and flipped through a book to skim through its contents. It was about pregnant women, and assumingly, so were the rest.
“But I don’t want to,” I had not even figured out what to do with my baby yet, so why would I read these books?
“Mr. Dong told me that since you have no job now, you’ll feel like reading these books,” she pouted.
My ears picked up, flabbergasted. With a head snapping towards her in an instant, I asked, "How does he know I'm unemployed?"
Xiao Jin shook her head, “I don’t know. That’s all he’s told me.”
A startled gaze fell down on my empty plate while I mulled over my circumstances. It was weird how this Mr. Dong seemed to know everything. What kind of person was he, and who was behind him?
I tossed away my chopsticks and stood up, pacing around in the dining room in thought.
I racked my brain hard as I tried analyzing countless of possibilities to answer my doubts, but they were all far-fetched, and lacked enough glaring evidences to be declared as factual.
“Do you have his phone number?” I asked Xiao Jin abruptly.
She shook her head yet again, until her eyes widened in discovery at a recollection, “I can check the call?logs for you, Ms. Xia!”
She stood by me and presented Mr. Dong's phone number in the caller id from her phone. Much to her surprise, I only took a glance to memorize it.
It was part of my many skills as a journalist. No matter how long a set of number was, I could remember it with just a look.
I dialed Mr. Dong’s number, and he answered on the second ring. His polite voice came from the other end, “Yes, Miss Xia?”
“I want to meet your boss,” I said directly, not fazed by the fact that he already knew my number beforehand. I had expected that they were keeping an eye on my every move, anyway.
Appearing to have anticipated my request, he answered it as I had presumed, “And you will, Miss Xia, when the time is ripe.”
I knew he would say that.
After a moment’s pause, I demanded calmly, “I will meet him now. Or else, I will abort the baby.”
I was sure that this man wanted children, or else he would not have kept me in captivity and sent people serving me at my command.
It also was not unlikely to believe that what happened today had something to do with this unknown figure.
In any case, I had not lost my identity as a journalist, and it was very well within my professional hazards to lose the child. After all, I went to field explorations a lot.
Mr. Dong halted before he suggested, “If you aborted the child, you’ll never know who its father was. Your curiosity would forever be unsatisfied. You’re a journalist, Miss Xia, it’s in your nature to get to the root of a matter. You won’t let a mystery remain unsolved.”
I scoffed; he was a good negotiator, but I was not any worse, either.
Smiling ominously, I debated, "You think I'd spend ten months here, just so I can see who the hell fucked me weeks ago? I know my fate; I’ll be thrown out after the birth of my child. If I’m to leave anyway, why will I bother staying?”
The other line fell silent. After a while, Mr. Dong said, “Miss Xia, your words will be passed down to my boss. Please kindly wait.”
“Patience has never been my forte, I’m giving you until tomorrow evening. If I haven’t seen him by then, you’ll find his child on a surgery?tray.”
Clenching my teeth, I smashed?the?receiver?down as?hard?as?I?could, wishing ardently that it was him who I could?smash?to bits. Sighing, I sagged into the sofa, all spent from the frustration I felt.
Even if it were a middle-aged bald man with a beer belly who shows up tomorrow night, I'd take it.
I had to slap his greasy face swollen to soothe my anger at any cost.
I closed my eyes, a foreboding sense attacking my broken heart; whoever it was, I had a feeling that Ho Cong must have had something to do with the whole incident.
No men would take it easy upon knowledge that their wife was bearing another’s child. They would have exploded in pure fury, and would have even taken extreme measures to vent it out on the culprit. Ho Cong, on the other hand, was behaving strangely. He was elusive on the phone, and had obviously tried avoiding my prying inquiries. His lack of surprise was more than upsetting; it had meant that he definitely knew something but chose not to mention it to me.
My concerns quieted down as I took a nap, deciding that when I wake up, I would be heading straight to Ho Cong’s house.
As promised, I took off to his place. I didn't see his car in the garage, so I knew he was lying about the business trip. After all, he couldn’t be driving to the venue, so it must mean that he was still here doing who knows what and enjoying himself while his wife was suffering alone.
I glared in time with the rising wrath in me. Braving the windy weather, I sat on the flower bed opposite the small building where Ho Cong lived.
Finally,?in the evening, he drove back and parked his car.
He even admired his vehicle for a while as he got off, wiping the car window with his sleeve in careful touches.
I stamped over and grabbed him by his the collar of his shirt. Shock was the only thing apparent in his features as he looked back at me with an unreadable expression on his face.
“Zhi—Zhi?” he stuttered, his mind failing to comprehend their current position.
“Aren’t you on a business trip?”
“I—I just came back—” flustered, he tried to pull off my hands.
I cocked an eyebrow at his deflection, “You normally drive for business trips? How many hours do you spend on the way?”
“No, of course not, but yesterday, I was sent to the adjacent city, so I chose to drive,” he finally managed a lame explanation.
I did not care to point out his lies. This was just one of the many, and I simply wanted to figure out the truth behind his most unforgivable one.
Thus, I showed him the laboratory test report I fetched from the hospital and sneered, “In case you still didn’t know, I’m now pregnant.”
He averted his eyes and said in a cowardly voice, “Zhi—Zhi—I—"
He fumbled for an explanation. Seeing his confuddled self, I felt more convinced that he had something to do with the events of that night.
“If you swear that you’re not behind my pregnancy, then someone else must have been involved, and it had to do with the night I spent in the hotel. Did you do the pimping, and sell me as a pretty, pregnable womb to some childless rich bastard?” I spoke lowly, a threat lying underneath my words.
He didn’t have to answer. At this point, I was quite certain about his culpability.
He was a deputy manager in his company that often craved for promotion opportunities. Last time, some of the deputy managers got a promotion except for him, and the event had scarred him deeply enough to make him desperate to jump at any opportunity for a position at the top.
Furthermore, my pretty face was the sole reason why he often took me to parties regardless of my loathing to attend such occasions. I reject most of his offers, but there were times that I had to succumb to his wishes due to his ceaseless begging.
And that night, the leaders of Ho Cong’s company held a business banquet to entertain the top managers from their partner enterprises.
After Ho Cong’s introduction, I became the main attraction of the feast. Many people swarmed me and praised me for my beauty.
They also forced me to drink a lot of wine, whereas Ho Cong just stood by and watched. I struggled to deal with it all alone, and before long, I became drunk.
What followed was not too difficult to fathom. I was betrayed by Ho Cong, who had sent me to a powerful man’s bed, just for a promotion opportunity.
“Don’t talk nonsense, Zhi. I didn’t do anything that night. I was away because my boss asked me to see off a guest.”
Tears started to burn in my eyes at his refusal to affirm my suspicions, “Which boss?! Which guest?! Just tell me and I’ll question them both!”
“You’re being unreasonable, Zhi,” he said, beginning to feel embarrassed, ”It’s all only in your imagination!”
“Then tell me, what was your promotion for?! You got promoted just a week after that dinner!” I roared, biting my lips to stop it from trembling. When I heard of his promotion, I didn't think much about it and was even glad for him. How could I have known, that it was his filthy reward for selling me?
“Zhi! What are you talking about?!” he pleaded, irritated, “Calm down. You’re pregnant now; you should think of the child you’re bearing. Emotional outbursts are bad for it!”
I laughed incredulously, “You said it wasn’t your child. Why do you care about it then!” I snorted, “You’ve already been a cuckolded husband. Do you also want to have a bastard son?”
A loud slap landed on my face; a red mark of burning pain marring my cheeks.