Lost in Taipei: Chapter 24

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lost in taipei chapter 24 confusion and hesitation
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Confusion and Hesitation

“Hello, Peng. What’s going on?” Charlie answered the call, curious about the reason for Peng’s call.

Peng’s buoyant mood filled the line, and he teased, “Hey, Charlie, I finally got a hold of you. You are one busy man. Did you get my text messages last night?”

Charlie took a moment to reflect on last night before he confessed, “Oh, Peng, about your text messages… My phone’s battery was dead last night, and I’ve been swamped with work since this morning. I didn’t even have a chance to check my phone.”

Peng’s laughter danced through the conversation as he replied, “No worries, Charlie. I figured you were just out there conquering the world. Anyway, it’s good to catch up with you after a while.”

Charlie shared a light chuckle and commented, “Peng, we did see each other at the bar last weekend, and I’m not on a mission to conquer the world. As for what’s going on, well, you caught me at work. But I can spare some time. What’s new?”

Peng’s words grew earnest and direct as he said, “Charlie, I’ll cut to the chase. I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately for some reason. What do you say we grab a late dinner? I want to see you.”

As Charlie pondered Peng’s directness, he couldn’t shake off the memory of his conversation with Ling, who had shared stories about Peng’s behavior while they were dating. Ling’s tales were nothing short of Peng’s whirlwind conquests and his lack of emotional commitments. Charlie’s cautious side whispered that he might be another trophy on Peng’s radar.

Charlie gradually worked up his courage and wanted to communicate his intention clearly with Peng. 

“Peng, I value honesty, so let me be upfront. I’ve heard many stories about you, and I want to be sure I’m not just one of your passing encounters. If you’re looking for something casual, that’s fine, but it’s not my style.”

Peng’s voice over the phone carried a newfound vulnerability as he imagined Charlie’s invisible gaze on the other end. “Charlie, I understand your concerns, and I respect your honesty. I’m not proud of my past, but it’s just that—my past.”

Peng sincerely responded, “You’re not just another conquest to me. Ling’s stories are part of my history, but you’re my present, and I can’t help but hope you’ll be my future. I’m ready to step away from that life for something real, something meaningful. If you’re willing to give me a chance, I promise to prove I’m not looking for a casual encounter.”

Flattered by Peng’s heartfelt words, Charlie appreciated the honesty but needed clarity. “Peng, thank you for your sincerity, but you must understand I won’t stay in Taipei permanently. After attending to some personal matters, I will likely return to New York City. At this moment, I’m unsure about what the future holds. I can’t even predict what’s happening tomorrow, let alone any long-term plans.”

Suddenly, Charlie found himself in a maelstrom of emotions, torn between the earnestness of Peng’s words and his own deep-rooted confusion. It wasn’t just the uncertainty of his life but also Ming’s presence in it that left Charlie perplexed.

Peng broke the silence between them, “Charlie, I completely understand your perspective. Perhaps I acted and spoke too hastily, but I genuinely want to spend more time with you, get to know you better, and build from there.”

Peng continued, his voice carrying a more melancholic tone, “I get your concerns, Charlie. The thought that you might not stay in Taipei forever is a reality. However, why should this prevent us from creating something meaningful? We should enjoy each day and let the future unfold naturally. Who knows, perhaps one day, our paths will lead us to New York City if that’s where destiny takes us. What do you have to lose, Charlie?”

Charlie let out a long sigh through the phone, his voice carrying the weight of his uncertainty as he slowly confessed, “I don’t know, Peng.”

Peng could feel the hesitation in Charlie’s voice. He responded gently, saying, “Charlie, it’s perfectly fine not to have all the answers now. How about sharing a late dinner with me and just hanging out?”

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