No Holds Barred
With a buzzed smirk, Charlie faced Peng and replied, “Oh, thank you, Peng, for the shots,” then promptly lifted the glass and downed the warm liquid swiftly. His eyes expanded after experiencing the strength of the drink firsthand. “Whoa, this is strong. What is it, Peng?” Charlie inquired; his voice tinged with surprise. Peng couldn’t help but laugh at Charlie’s reaction before explaining, “It’s Petron, Charlie, a party favorite known for its kick.”
Amid this lively scene, Charlie found a dirty martini mysteriously appearing in his hand and took a satisfying sip of this delicious drink. “Wait, Peng, why are you here?” he asked, a curious smile forming.
“Yeah, Peng, fancy seeing you here,” Xing chimed in while Ming remained silent, his gaze fixed on Peng, waiting for an explanation.
Ping responded casually, “Well, isn’t this the place to be on a Saturday night? Fabulous drag performers, delicious drinks, and a beautiful crowd. Why not join in for the fun?” He leaned in closely towards Charlie, a playful glint in his eyes. “It’s really nice to see you twice a day, Charlie. What a pleasant surprise to bump into you here. By the way, nice dance routine on the stage earlier.”
Charlie’s cheeks flushed with a faint blush, and he found himself avoiding direct eye contact with Peng, suddenly feeling self-conscious.
With liquid courage, Charlie’s eyes eventually lifted to meet Peng’s. In a moment of spontaneity, he blurted out, “Peng, what happened earlier today at the restaurant… who was Ling? And do you truly have commitment issues?” Caught off guard by Charlie’s rapid-fire inquiries, Peng’s expression momentarily shifted while Ming and Xing exchanged glances, thoroughly surprised by the unexpected conversation turn.
Xing couldn’t help but guffawed, taken aback by Charlie’s statement. “Hold on a second, Charlie. You didn’t mention your little encounter with Ling this morning.”
Charlie let out a bashful giggle and carried on, “True, Xing. I did bump into Ling this morning. Let’s just say he had some choice words for Peng about emotional commitment and the whole ‘just-for-fun’ scenario. Isn’t that right, Peng?” Charlie turned to Ping with his slightly tipsy ranting about what had happened earlier today.
In the midst of the noise, Peng appeared somewhat uncomfortable about having this conversation in this public space. He turned to Charlie and explained, “Charlie, I’ve already told you there is nothing serious between Ling and me. What happened between us in the past is just that – in the past.”
As Ming silently observed the unfolding drama, Xing couldn’t resist chiming in, “Peng, what about your reputation for emotional detachment? It’s widely known…”
Peng interrupted Xing sharply, “Perhaps I haven’t found the right person worth investing my emotions in. Have you ever considered that, Xing?”
Sensing the need to depart before things escalated further, Ming signaled to Xing and then turned to Charlie, “Hey, Charlie. You’ve had quite a few drinks tonight, and I think it’s a good idea to call it a night. What do you think?”
“Sure thing, Ming. Let’s head home,” Charlie grinned, his cheeks blushing from the drinks.
Finally, Charlie slowly pieced together the events after listening to Xing’s detailed recap from yesterday. Following a rollercoaster of emotions throughout the night, Ming took care of Charlie and eventually saw him safely home.
“Alright, Xing. Thanks for filling me in on last night. I better rest before a busy work week kicks off tomorrow.” Charlie bid Xing farewell and ended the call.
Before attempting to rest, Charlie opted to tidy up a little and stow away the clothes he’d worn the previous night. As he cleared out his jeans pocket, he came across a handwritten note. Intrigued, he unfolded the paper and read its Chinese contents, feeling his cheeks redden again.
“Charlie, I really like you and wish to know you better,” said the note.