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Chapter 21

Around the back of the kitchen, Mike had prepared most of his dishes and was ready for cleanup. It was a long night; he had made hundreds of hor’dourves for this special night because he knew most of the guests were potential clients so he had to make a good impression. He was diligently trying his best to satisfy Mr. Yang as well as his guests so he hardly had time to go out and inspect the reactions. However, by the end, he had a few minutes to spare so he grabs a coat from the coat room and pretends to be a guest and makes his way through the crowd.

“MIKE!” yelled Rainie’s father. “Come here for a second.”

“Hello, Mr. Yang,” he responded with his signature smile.

“I would like to introduce you some of these wonderful people,” Mr. Yang replied.

“Hello everyone,” Mike said, bowing to each of them.

“This is the caterer,” Mr. Yang smiled. “He’s doing a wonderful job right!?”

“It’s alright I guess,” Mike shyly replied.

“Nonsense!” he laughed. “You’re the only caterer I use because I know every service is spectacular!”

“Well, thanks Mr. Yang,” he said kindly.

“Go on, Mike. Tonight, you can drink till you’re drunk. It’s on me!” Mr. Yang said.

From the other end of the party, Rainie sat by herself. She was angry, annoyed and overall depressed. However this was the perfect opportunity, for the other men her father invited to the party, to seize a chance with Rainie…or at least attempt. A group of men were a couple feet away from the bar and were plotting their next moves.

“Hey, she’s alone now,” said one man, who was wearing a top hat. “Go, it’s you’re turn.”

“No way!” another man, quite tall and handsome, whispered back. “I hear she’s harder to please than her father.”

“What are you chicken?” the man with the hat whispered back.

The group of men slyly looks at one another and pushes the handsome man towards Rainie. He was nervous and he was facing her back.

“Um…” began to say to her.

“No,” she answered bluntly.

“But!” he tried to reason.

“No,” she repeated.

Defeated, the handsome man returns to the group, and the man with the top hat heads towards Rainie ready to make his move on her.

“I just came to say hello to the most beautiful woman in the room…” he begins…and ends.

Rainie, almost mechanically, tosses her drink on his face without turning his way or responding.

Another man rejected, the group of men thought. One by one, Rainie rejects the men either blatantly by saying no, or insulting them with tossed drinks and smeared food. Rainie hated being hounded by these conceited men who only wanted her because of her “beauty”. She only wanted to be left alone to sulk in her father’s evil plans to set her up.

Mike however was having a blast. He was peering through the crowd to watch the expressions of the guests as well as promote his business by passing out little cards. Suddenly he catches Rainie from the corner of his eye. She was sitting by the bar all alone, looking quite miserable. He didn’t even notice the group of men fawning over her.

“Maybe I should say hi…” Mike said out loud.

Just as another man was about to approach her, Mike had already made his way. They all stare in awe as Mike, effortlessly, talks to Rainie.

“Hi Rainie,” Mike said gently. She turned around and her smile beamed for miles.

“Mike!” she said getting out of her seat and giving him a hug. “Where have you been?”

All of the men had their mouths down on the floor as Mike and Rainie laughed and smiled so genuinely at each other.

“How about a dance?” Mike asked.

“Um…I don’t really dance,” Rainie said shyly.

“I’ll teach you,” Mike said dragging her to the floor.

He takes her by the arm and wraps one around his neck while holding another with his hand, as he puts his other arm around her waist. Flushed with embarrassment, Rainie shyly looks down at the floor.

“We’ll go slowly,” Mike said with a smile.

They calmly dance near the crowd, and Mike hardly says a word. Instead he just looks at her shy face glow redder and redder.

“Stop looking at me,” she smiled nervously.

“I can’t help it,” he chuckled. “It’s like dancing with a ripe tomato!”

“Hey!” she pouted.

“I think this part’s the ripest!” he said poking at her nose.

“Stop!” she laughed.

“Why are you so shy at the moment?” he asked peering at her low face.

She places her head on his chest so he couldn’t see her face and wraps her arms around him.

“Just dance,” she responds, closing her eyes to calm her beating heart.

“This is my favorite song,” he said. “Too bad I can’t sing to save my life.”

“Then don’t,” she joked.

He scoffed at her snide remark. “Then I guess I should! Just for you!”

As he began to sing, Rainie winced at every cracked note that came out of this man’s mouth.

“Stop!” she laughed.

“OK I’ll just whisper it, so it won’t sound as bad,” Mike nodded.

She looked at him as those gentle words seem to flow so lightly off his lips. They were causing her heart to feel nervous yet at peace. Rainie takes her arms and wraps them around Mike’s neck as he holds her closer to him. The mild tapping of each piano key laced with the soft whispers of his voice, was causing her to become light headed and content.

“…you’ll never know…the one who loves you so…” he sang.

As he whispers those final words of the songs, she notices his lips quiver so delicately.
His face was so close to hers that she could feel his breath brush next to her cheeks, as she stared unnervingly in his eyes.

“Well, you don’t know me…” he sang softly, ending the song with a smile. “Told you I can’t sing…”

Without hesitation Rainie pressed her lips on Mike’s. It was like an out of body experience rushing out of her to do such an impulsive gesture. Mike widened his eyes, unable to fathom what was happening. Was she really kissing him?

From afar, however,

beyond the dance floor,

beyond the tables with all the guests,

beyond the bar,

beyond the coat room,

were two petrified individuals witnessing Rainie and Mike’s first real kiss…

widening their eyes…

and stretching their mouths out even wider…

wait for the inhale…

“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!” screamed both Ariel and Joe.



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