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Love Dearly

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Xiao Nai was not one to be distracted. 

Multitasking was a second nature to him. If he could take a call and fight a Boss online simultaneously, then there was very little he couldn’t do at the same time. 

But somehow or rather, he just couldn’t concentrate on the conversations he was supposed to be having with Yu Gong and the representatives from CISCO. All morning his mind was plagued with thoughts of his wife of two years in the real world; - four, if marriage in the virtual world were to be taken into account. 

Wei Wei was still asleep when he left home this morning. Lately, she hasn’t been eating much and often tire easily. He had chalked it up to the recent workload she has been put on. 

The young CEO beamed with pride when his beloved’s hard work and contribution to their latest game development was practically received with open arms by Feng Teng. Xiao Nai knew for certain that the idea would be a guaranteed hit with the client but with Wei Wei’s easy charm and grace, not forgetting beauty definitely sweetened the deal further. His presence during the game demo was hardly missed. Of course, the CEO silently vowed that the presentation would be the last time he will allow of Wei Wei to attend. His notorious possessiveness and jealousy will not let him live down another day should another man set eyes on his wife. He would probably never let her leave their marital home, if it was legally possible.

Which was why he had mixed feelings leaving her at home this morning. As her boss, he was grateful for her efforts but guilty at the same time for all the overtime work she had clocked in for the presentation early in the week, losing precious hours of sleep and barely decent three meals a day.  As her husband, he so wished to kill the boss in him for making his precious wife suffer. 

Wei Wei was so worn out in the last couple of days that she has slept in long after he has left for work. And when she was awake, she was often washed over by dizziness, - stumbling a couple of time to regain balance. To add to the gnawing worry, instead of her usual voracious appetite, Wei Wei favored sleep over food! 

All these he presumed were due to being overtaxed from work and Wei Wei will revert back to her usual self after the presentation. But four days on, and she hasn’t shown signs of getting any better, if not worst than before. 

Therefore, the meeting may have his physical body trapped in conversations of possibly incorporating a new cyber security software they had developed into CISCO’s system, - however his mind had travelled far to his wife’s side at home. 

The single silent buzz from his pocket forced his strayed attention to the present; startling him a little, but one couldn’t really tell with the cool and collected facade he constantly portrayed.  

Wei Wei and anyone from his office knew not to disturb him at meetings unless utmost urgency or an emergency. So, he ignored it. After all, the meeting was coming to an end anyways. He will return the call as soon as they finish.

Pulling himself together, he dove back into the ongoing conversation for the next 30 minutes. At the end of it all, hand shakes were exchanged with promises of imminent collaboration between Zhi Yi and CISCO in the coming month. 

Leaving the meeting venue at the representative’s office across town, Xiao Nai’s hastened steps to his Jeep had his longtime friend huffing and puffing running after him.

“What’s the hurry, Third Bro?”

As usual, he let his silence answer for him as he got into the vehicle while Yu Ban Shan hopped into the passenger side. 

Xiao Nai ignited the engine but idled in the parking lot while he checked his phone for the earlier call he missed. 

His mom called and left a text.

He knew they were going to drop by his apartment to have lunch with Wei Wei, but it didn’t make sense when his parents knew he was going to catch up with them later because of the meeting he just had. 

Flicking his finger across the phone, he read his mom’s text to him, 

‘Son, Wei Wei remembers that we are coming over for lunch, right? We tried calling her but she isn’t picking up. We’ll be over in 30 minutes.’

A frown marred the IT genius’s otherwise, flawless face. Wei Wei reminded him that his parents were coming over for lunch last evening, - not that he needed to be reminded, but she still did. So, it was highly impossible for her to leave home without telling. 

Dread blanketed over him as his fingers moved automatically across his screen to speed dial his wife.

The phone rang. 

And rang. 

And rang till the connection severed automatically. 

Somehow reading the tension radiating off his friend, “Everything all right there, Xiao Nai?” Yu Gong asked.

“Wei Wei is not picking up her phone,” his reply was strained with worry, trying to get her on the line again.

“Maybe she is in the shower?”

The crease between his brow deepened further. What Yu Gong said was a possibility. But his gut was telling him otherwise. 

On his fourth try, his mother’s call came in mid way. Abandoning his call out to Wei Wei, he quickly answered his mom.

“Xiao Nai, sorry son if we are interrupting your meeting. We are at your door right now but no one seems home... Did Wei Wei forget about our lunch and went out?”

“No, she remembered,”

“Strange... we’ve been ringing the door bell for a while now but there’s no sign of anyone in the house...”

Trepidation settled firmly like an immovable boulder in his stomach. “I’ll give you the code to enter. I’m on my way back now.” There was an unmistaken quaver of panic in his voice that made Yu Gong give his friend a once over.

“Everything all right with Wei Wei?” His friend asked with concern as soon as he got off the line with his mother.

“I don’t know...” Xiao Nai replied absently as he shifted into gear and drove away posthaste. In his mind, he ran through all the possibilities but none of them were reassuring. 

“Yu Gong,” he started but never taking his eyes off the street as he took a corner at a slightly higher speed than permitted, “I need you to look into the security camera at my apartment. You remember right, the one you guys helped installed at my front door?”

“Sure thing,” his friend replied, quickly fishing out his laptop that had access to the server connected to the camera online. 

“What am I looking for?” Yu Gong asked while waiting for the laptop to boot up.

“I don’t know... Wei Wei leaving the house? Break-ins...?” The last bit was tossed in uncertainly, even for himself, “Anything that happened from the time I left home at 7:30 this morning till now.”

“Right. On it,” his friend replied obligingly as he drove on home faster than his usual speed.

Absolute silence was always welcomed in Xiao Nai’s life, especially when he has to think. But the last ten minutes was a mental torture. His mind played over scenarios of what could possibly happened and none he would wished for it to be real. Not hearing back from his parents was troubling as well. 

“Third Bro,” Yu Gong cut through the silent tension in the car with all seriousness, “I’ve speed watched the recording from the time you left till the time your parents arrived at your doorstep, no one has set foot into your unit and no one has exited as well. No signs of Wei Wei leaving the house. And yes, I have checked if the recording has been tempered as well and there is none.”

He exhaled sharply. While it was reassuring that nothing has gotten into the house nor has Wei Wei left their home, it still doesn’t answer as to why she wasn’t answering her phone. 

Another minute passed in fear before his mother called again.

Answering the call on the car’s connection, “Mom...”

“Xiao Nai, I want you to stay calm...” her voice carried an underlying urgency that had him dragged and held a breath.

“Mom, did you find Wei Wei?” He didn’t mean to sound so terse but fear was eating at him.

She withheld a moment as though she was debating how best to break the news to him, “Son... we found Wei Wei unconscious in the apartment.”

Yu Gong sucked in a soundless gasp beside him while he slammed on the breaks to a grinding halt before a red light he hadn’t noticed earlier. 

“What happened?!” Xiao Nai no longer bothered to hide the terror he felt inside.

“We don’t know. We’ve got her into an ambulance and we’re on the way there. Hurry over, son...”

He didn’t need her to tell him twice as he sped down the street at the turn of the traffic light. But no matter how fast he drove, he was still a good 30 minutes away. 

30 whole minutes to berate himself. If he could physically hit himself, he would. 

How could he have not noticed?! How could he had let Wei Wei worked to the point of exhaustion? Was he so blinded by work that he had neglected to honor his promise to love and cherish his beloved wife?!

To add insult to injury, Wei Wei had never once complaint. Early every morning, she left to work with him. Kept his ungodly hours with him when the workaholism reduced the CEO into a slave of his own perfection. Furthermore, within the boundaries of their humble abode, accomplishes her wifely obligations, - cooking and cleaning for him without a word. 

And in return, did he even bother to check on his own wife even having known that she wasn’t the best of health in the past week?!

“Damn it!” He cursed, slamming his fist against the steering wheel. 

For all the intelligence he owned, how could he be so stupid?!

“Third Bro, don’t let imaginations get to you. Nothing will happen to Wei Wei...” Yu Gong tried to assuage his maddening misgivings. 

Xiao Nai managed a curt nod, but he did not feel even an ounce of consolation at his friend’s assurance. Until he sees Wei Wei with his own eyes, nothing will stop the nightmares playing in his head. 

 

——///——

 

Never let it be said that Xiao Nai cannot be discomposed. For his wife, the world renowned game producer, star of the IT world would be the very devil himself, if need be. 

After leaving Yu Gong to park his car for him, the young CEO’s purposeful long strides left sharp, crisp clicks of his leather shoes against the sanitized tiles, that had the hallway full of people carefully scramble out of his path. No one dared look him in the eyes for they would find themselves staring into a twin pair of dark and cold oblivion. The merciless look on his face challenged any man or woman to approach him for the wrong reason, if they valued their lives so little. 

It wasn’t until he got near the Wei Wei’s private ward, did he tone down his temperament. 

His dad was just exiting the room as he approached. 

“Dad, how’s Wei Wei? What did the doctor said?”

Professor Xiao exhaled with relief at the sight of his son, “Son, thank God you’re here. Initial check-up shows that your wife was anemic and low on blood sugar. She regained consciousness a little on the way here. But after they hooked her up on the IV, she fell into another deep slumber.”

“Did the doctor said what’s wrong with her?”

Taking off his spectacle to wipe the sweat gathered at the bottom of his lenses, the older man shook his head negatively, “They ran some tests on Wei Wei a little while ago. But they haven’t return to inform us of the outcome yet.”

With a singular nod, the young CEO walked past his father and into the room where his mother was sat by his wife’s bedside, watching over her worriedly. 

“Darling, Xiao Nai is here now. Why don’t we leave them here for a bit while we catch some lunch?” His dad called over his shoulder to his mom softly. 

Looking up at him, the young man could tell that how distraught his mom was from the pink rims around her eyes, “Xiao Nai... why didn’t you take good care of your wife?” His mother admonished.

He knew his mom did not mean to accuse him of being a bad husband, but for every minute he sees Wei Wei’s frail body lying on the hospital bed, he couldn’t help but to agree with his mom. 

“I’m sorry. I should have known better...”

“Come on, darling. Give them a moment to themselves,” his father interjected, grabbing his own wife out of the chair and steered her out the room.

Xiao Nai’s eyes never left Wei Wei, as he mechanically made his way to the chair his mother just abandoned. Taking her pale hand in his own, hoping to hell that he could heal her just like that, like in the game; - he prayed to God that she would wake up soon. 

“I’m sorry, Wei Wei... how could I be so careless?” Anguish seeped into his voice. 

The world may have the illusion that he was invincible, but at this very moment, he was just a man. A man desperate for his wife to open her eyes and perhaps forgive him for being blindsided by work enough to forget to care for her.

Xiao Nai brought her hand to his lips and gently placed a kiss. 

“Wei Wei, open your eyes for me...” He pled, but the eyes he longed to see remained stubbornly closed.

He didn’t know how long he sat by her bedside. He had tuned out the world and ignored everything around him, except for Wei Wei. He barely even made any acknowledgment of Yu Gong’s presence when he came quietly into the room. 

“Third Bro, I called Mei Ren and Hou Zi to inform them that sister-in-law is in the hospital. They will be over soon. In the meantime, do you need me to get you anything? Drinks?” His friend offered.

But Xiao Nai just numbly shook his head. 

“Ok...” Yu Gong replied, moving to taking a seat at the sofa in one corner of the ward room.

For the next 15 minutes, both classmates sat in companionable silence until Wei Wei’s eyelashes fluttered open.

“Wei Wei...” Xiao Nai’s gripped on her hand tightened, while the other move to caress her head. 

Yu Gong snapped to his feet at his friend’s voice, “Wei Wei, how are you feeling?”

Her languid gaze struggled a moment to focus on her husband’s face. 

“Xiao Nai...” her voice was soft but she gave him a loving smile.

“I’ll go get the doctor,” Yu Gong offered, leaving the room to give the couple some privacy. Not that the both of them noticed.

Leaning over to drop a kiss on her head, he whispered against her hair, “Wei Wei, you scared the living daylights out of me...”

The smile evolved into a wary grin, “I’m sorry...”

“Hush now, my love...” he shushed her, scooping her into his arms carefully. “I’m the one who should be sorry. How did I miss you not feeling well?”

“I’m fine. Really...” 

“Wei Wei, I promise to be a better husband...”

“You already are the best...”

She was too forgiving for her own good, he thought to himself as he tightened his hold on her slightly. 

God, how much he loved her. He wouldn’t know what becomes of him should the doctor tells him he would be at risk of losing her. His world will cease to go on. 

“No matter what the doctor says, we’ll get you to the best doctor, the best treatment . Whatever it is, I’m not losing you.”

Wei Wei just nodded dumbly at his declaration, wondering which tangent has his mind wondered off to now. She was just probably exhausted, perhaps a bit under weather these days. It wasn’t like her to fall unconscious so dramatically, but it was more than likely just because she was a little low on blood sugar.

“Don’t worry. I won’t die... besides, I know you’ll revive me, if I did,” she replied cheekily.

Xiao Nai’s silent growl could be heard by her ear, - two can play that game. 

“If I ever have to waste a potion to revive you, as punishment, I’d make sure to paralyze you and then have my way with you...”

He didn’t even have to look at her to know that she has turned beet red. 

Smirking triumphantly to himself, his wife was so easily teased. After all the years they have been together, one would think she would be accustomed to his innuendos by now, but she was still ever the same demure junior he knew from university days.

Just as he rose away from her, the door opened, giving way to people streaming into the fairly sized ward. Yu Gong returned with a lady doctor and a nurse in tow followed by his other two best buds and his parents. 

Hao Mei, ever the loyal friend was first to speak, “Wei Wei, how are you feeling?”

Pushing herself up to a seating position, “Much better now. Thank you for asking,” she replied, smiling away. 

“Mrs. Xiao, good to see you that your fatigue has passed,” the doctor said, lifting a pen to her charts to note down a remark.

He should be used to it by now, but every time Wei Wei was referred to as Mrs. Xiao, pride swelled within him. Xiao Nai moved to stand beside the bed with his hand firmly holding his wife’s shoulder against him. 

Noting the slightly protective stance he had over her,  “You must be Mr. Xiao. I’m Doctor Li,” the lady doctor introduced herself to the beautiful couple. 

Xiao Nai merely nodded in acknowledgment. On the outside, he appeared his usual composed self; internally, his guts twisted with concern for what the doctor had to say.

“Mrs. Xiao, do you still feel dizzy? Lethargic?”

“...No, not anymore...” The way Wei Wei replied with uncertainty vexed Xiao Nai. He should have known better to trust her with her own health. His wife was giving him more reasons to keep her by his side all times.

“Good...” the doctor made a quick note before continuing, “You haven’t been eating right. Do you feel nauseous at certain food?”

Gears in his head turned and clicked with speed that was almost inhuman, as a thought dawned upon him. 

Looking down into the his wife guileless dark brown orbs, “Wei Wei, are you...?” His question left unfinished. 

Doctor Li smiled inwardly, “You’re one quick thinking man, Mr. Xiao. Yes, congratulations are in order. Your wife is 6 weeks pregnant.”

Varied degrees of exultation erupted in the room. His uni brothers had the same jaw dropped, dumbfounded look mirroring on their face. His mom was overjoyed, shaking his stunned dad rigorously. 

Xiao Nai could only look at his stupefied wife and thought to himself, how much luckier can he get.

Dropping to seat by the edge of the bed beside her, “Wei Wei, how could I have been so careless of you? How are you feeling? Do you need anything?”

Still unable to register the reality of matter, Wei Wei blinked but her eyes remained wide and bewildered. 

Her hand moved to hover unbelievingly over her midriff. “We’re having a baby...?”

Xiao Nai reached his own hand to cover over hers and rested firmly on her still flat stomach. 

“Yes, we are, you silly girl,” he said affectionately, nuzzling the side of her temple. 

God, he loved her so much. 

“Mrs. Xiao can be discharged immediately. I’ll leave a note in your charts to arrange an appointment for you with an OBGYN soon. In the meantime I’ll leave you guys to celebrate. Congratulations again, Mr. and Mrs. Xiao,” the doctor said, leaving with the nurse. 

“Third Bro, this calls for a celebration!” Mei Ren could hardly contain the overflowing joy in him. 

“Let’s all go out for dinner! We’ll go arrange Wei Wei’s discharge papers now,” his mother declared gleefully, dragging his dad out of the room with her. 

“We’ll leave the both of you to bask in the news,” Yu Gong offered, ushering the others out with him.

“Wait,” Xiao Nai called at them, but his eyes remained trained unrelentingly on his wife. 

Three heads turned simultaneously at him. Something in his voice did not sound very ecstatic. 

“Mei Ren, I need you to write me a tracking program that will inform me where Wei Wei is, at all times. Also, tell KO I’m engaging him exclusively to prepare lunch for Wei Wei everyday. Yu Gong, I need you to arrange for more cameras to be installed inside my house. Hou Zi, I will need you to cover for Wei Wei at work, indefinitely.” That was probably the most words anyone has heard Xiao Nai said at a-go. 

Pretty used to Xiao Nai’s demands by now, his friends gave him a mock salute and told him not to worry, everything will be taken care of as they left the little wife to deal with her overprotective husband.

“Xiao Nai! Don’t you think you’re being a little overboard?” His wife chastised.

“Not one bit,” he replied unapologetically. 

“I think it’s an abuse of authority. Besides, don’t you think your demand borderlines stalker-ish?”

“I don’t care what other thinks.” 

Enveloping Wei Wei in an embrace, “You are my precious furen, - my heart and my soul. I cannot live without you. I can only promise to love you and our child with everything I have for as long as I still have a breath in me. But I cannot promise not to do whatever that is within my power to keep you safe and sound by my side always. Never in my life again do I want to feel the helplessness I felt today...”

Embarrassed, Wei Wei hid her face behind her palms. 

“You are an overbearing man, Xiao Nai...”

“And you love me no less for it, Bei Wei Wei...”