Charlie battled a persistent hangover at work the next day. He concentrated on the tasks before him, committed to push through the day’s assignments. Suddenly, he noticed a figure standing before him and assumed it was Xing, perhaps wanting to poke around into the weekend’s events. Trying to maintain his focus, Charlie politely interjected, “Hey Xing, I can’t chat now. I really need to come up with a quick answer for this project.”
There was a gentle cough followed by a soft laugh. Charlie looked up and was surprised to find Ming standing before him. Ming held an iced Americano, a warm smile gracing his face as he looked at Charlie.
“Not Xing, just Ming,” Ming clarified with a friendly grin. “And I’m not here to pry into any weekend gossip. In fact, I probably witnessed everything firsthand anyway. I just wanted to check in with you and bring you this coffee. It’s your favorite.” He extended the iced Americano towards Charlie, a warm gesture of thoughtfulness.
Charlie’s surprise deepened, and he couldn’t help but blush as he asked, “Ming, how did you know this is my favorite morning drink?”
Ming smirked. “Well,” he began, “aside from the time you bumped into me with a cup of iced Americano, you and Xing had quite the discussion about various coffee drinks this weekend. There was even a debate about whether espresso martini should be categorized as coffee or martini.” He handed over the coffee with a genial smile.
“Thank you, Ming. I really appreciate this, and I could use some caffeine to get me through the day,” Charlie replied with gratitude.
Ming beamed warmly. “Don’t mention it, Charlie. By the way, if you ever want to explore Taipei, just let me know. I’d love to show you around the places where I grew up and, you know, have a little chat, if you’re up for it.”
Xing approached Charlie’s desk right after Ming left for his next sales meeting, a playful gleam in his eyes. “Hmm, Charlie,” he teased, “Ming seemed very sociable with you this morning. What’s the tea?”
Charlie couldn’t help but smile at Xing’s animated demeanor. “Just a friendly coffee drop-off, Xing. Nothing more,” he replied, trying to sound nonchalant.
Xing leaned in closer, his voice lowered conspiratorially. “Come on, Charlie, I’ve known Ming for ages, and he’s been acting rather lovey-dovey, especially around you, which is totally out of his character.”
Charlie laughed softly, “Well, Ming did offer to show me around Taipei, which was kind of him. But right now, I need to focus on work.”
Xing raised an eyebrow. “Work? Is that all you’re focused on here in Taipei?”
Charlie sighed, realizing Xing was not going to let this go quickly. “Okay, maybe I’m open to a bit of fun while I’m here. But let’s not make a big deal out of it.”
Xing smiled, satisfied with Charlie’s response. “That’s the spirit, Charlie. Embrace the Taipei experience. Take Ming up on his offer to show you around the town. Who knows what adventures await you here?”
As Charlie settled back into his work, he couldn’t shake the mystery note from the weekend. The thought that someone had taken the time to write such a message intrigued him. It wasn’t just the note; the mystery surrounding its author sparked his curiosity.
Charlie glanced at his phone, thinking about the chance to explore Taipei with Ming. So, could the note from Ming, who wanted to express his interest but didn’t know how? Or perhaps it was from Peng, who might be trying to reach out more subtly this time?
The more Charlie thought about it, the more the possibilities swirled in his mind. This note could even be from a stranger at the drag bar who wanted to meet Charlie because of his drunken dance performance.
The uncertainties only heightened the intrigue, but soon, Charlie shook his head, brushing aside these ideas, and swiftly reminded himself that he wasn’t here to make romantic connections; he had personal matters to address during this visit. Plus, he would eventually return back to New York City.