LIY 06 – 10

Chapter 6

No Need to Dream

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

She lay in his arms in the early morning light. Her arms were curved around his shoulders, and her body was half draped over his.

They lay naked in their bed, with nothing keeping them apart. Not even articles of clothing.

This was how close she wanted to be with him for always.

They belonged together. God wouldn’t be so cruel as to tear them apart, right?

She sleepily nuzzled his shoulder, her tongue coming out to delicately taste him.

In two weeks they would be married for two years. Last night had been another anniversary of sorts. While he had insisted on having a virginal bride, she had finally seduced him two weeks before their wedding. Last night had been the anniversary of that seduction. And he had participated enthusiastically in its celebration.

She gently moved a hand down his arm and then rested it on her stomach.

They had made a baby last night.

She just knew it.

Pretty soon they would have a new bundle of joy, and their lives would be complete.

They would be so happy. It felt like a dream.

Nothing could ruin that.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Rainie pulled back from the kiss. She stared up at him and then smiled. She was filled with joy, happy that he was back. Leaning over, she placed her arms around Kenny, and then pulled Ken into the impromptu hug.

She needed to share her happiness with the two people most important to her.

“I’m so happy you’re back,” she murmured, breathing in her son’s sweet scent, mixed with his unique scent. “You have no idea how lost I’ve felt. My memory loss took away not only my past, but also my sense of self. I had no anchor. My parents told me that I was a ‘whore’. Their exact words,” she squeaked as his arms tightened around her.

She looked up and saw that he was angry.

“Please don’t be mad,” she pleaded. “I don’t know for sure why they did what they did, but I can guess. Maybe they were afraid that I would leave them again. I don’t think that we lived anywhere nearby.”

“But they lied to you,” he growled, ignoring the rest of what she had said.

“They lied,” he repeated. “You are the sweetest, most innocent woman alive.”

“And how would you know that?” she asked, amused.

“”Anyone who looks at you can see that. Your eyes reveal your experience. You have NO experience,” he teased her, his mood abruptly changing. It seemed that nothing could keep him angry for long, as long as he had her in his arms.

He leaned forward, staring intently into her eyes. “Nope, it’s just not there,” he sadly concluded, shaking his head.

She smiled and looked into his eyes.

“Well, then, your eyes say you’ve been with hundreds of women,” she said giggling. It had been a long time since she had felt so free. Free to laugh. Free to stop worrying because there was someone here to worry with her.

He mock frowned at her, but then grinned as she continued to laugh.

“You have no idea what a relief it is. I’m glad that you’re back, but the fact that you lost your memory too . . .” she trailed off.

“That . . .” he began.

“I’m glad,” she continued, without stopping, wanting to get it all out before he could say anything. “I’m glad that you lost your memory. It might have taken you a long time to find us, but you’re at the same place I am. You might have been afraid yesterday of actually finding what you had been looking for for so long, but we’re together in this. If I’m lost without a past, then you’re right there with me. You’re my anchor, and . . .” she looked at him, “I’m yours. You’ll need me like my parents don’t. I won’t be a burden to you, right? I won’t be extraneous?” she asked in a soft voice, looking worried when he remained silent.

“I’m getting my memory back,” she blurted out. “I can tell you about it, and you won’t be disappointed. I promise you. You won’t have to deny me ever again.”

“Hey! What is this? What’s wrong?” Ken asked in concern, seeing the tears forming in her beautiful eyes. He grimaced as he saw them begin to fall.

. . . . . .

She was silent as she struggled to swallow the lump in her throat.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve felt needed. My parents make me feel like I’m only a burden. Thank you for that. Thank you for making me feel needed,” she said, hugging him close. Her body curved naturally into his, as her arms wrapped around him.

He smiled at her gently, his eyes staring into hers. She saw the acceptance in them. He understood her fears and her desire to feel needed. As badly as she needed an anchor in her life, her need to be someone else’s anchor was even greater.

He was willing to be hers, and he wanted nothing more than to have her as his.

As he leaned in for another kiss, their son awakened with a cry, disturbing the moment. She laughed at the expression in Ken’s eyes and the pout on his lips.

Rainie got up to go get dressed and then cooked breakfast for her two men. She left Kenny to his father. He had missed out on too many moments in his son’s life, and she knew that he would cherish each moment now.

As they breakfasted and worked in the restaurant, she told him about the memories that had begun to seep through her consciousness. It was as if her mind had just been waiting for a key, and Ken’s arrival had been it. It had opened the floodgates. And she was ready.

He listened quietly, drinking in the details.

. . . . . . . . .

Their second wedding anniversary celebration . . .

When she had told him about their baby . . .

Their arguments and her pain at his supposed betrayal . . .

Their nights together . . .

She blushed as she told him about that.

. . . . . . . . . . .

But she reveled in the feeling of having something valuable to say. They had talked throughout the day. They had worked together, finding a harmonious rhythm that felt so familiar. And they had touched, understanding each other’s need to be in constant contact with the other. It had been too long. Rainie had given in to the urge to kiss those lips many times.

He hadn’t protested.

As they put Kenny to bed that night, he looked at her.

“What?” she asked, getting self-conscious.

“So, you promised to find me in any lifetime?” he finally asked.

“Rainie,” he gently said, “you didn’t even find me in this one.”

She looked up, shocked at what he had said. Hurt by his tone.

But when she looked into his eyes, she saw the pain. She realized that he was hurt. Hurt that she could have forgotten him so completely that she didn’t even feel the need to look for him. He had looked for her for two years, never resting. And she . . . she hadn’t even tried.

She bit her lips, and then glanced down at their son.

“Kenny,” she said abruptly.

“What?” he asked in surprise.

“He was the reason. His health and well-being were more important than my desire to find answers. I’ve always wanted to believe that our son was conceived in a loving relationship, despite my parents’ claims to the contrary. And if I believed in that love, I had to believe that he would find me.”

She stared at him, willing him to understand her plight.

He looked down at their son. A 2-year-old tyke, his arms curled trustingly around his stuffed toy. He was miracle. The fact that he had survived and thrived under his mother’s loving care made him so special.

He looked at Rainie. She was staring at him in concern, her teeth tugging at her bottom lip.

He reached over, and caressed the tortured lip, forcing her to let go.

He smiled.

He had no regrets at the choices she had made.

“Don’t they say that if you’re lost, remain in one place? Whoever is looking for you will find you,” he asked huskily, pulling her into his arms.

“I found you,” he breathed into the delicate shell of her ear. “Where’s my reward?”

She stared up into his face. She knew what he was asking for. The question was whether she was ready. But that wasn’t the only question that she needed answered.

“Have you been with anyone else?” she blurted out.

“I’m not going to lie to you,” he answered seriously.

She stiffened.

He cradled her face in his hands and smiled.

“I tried. Believe me, I tried. At moments when I felt so hopeless that I was never going to find you. When I felt so bitter that you hadn’t found me yet. When I felt so angry that you wouldn’t leave me in peace, I tried. But, my body wouldn’t let me. It wanted me to wait for all the promises that picture of yours had made. It wanted me to wait for you. I may have lost my memory, but my body hadn’t forgotten,” he gently said.

She smiled her beautiful smile. Turning away she pulled him out of the room.

“Where are we going?” he asked teasingly.

“As if you don’t know,” she replied.

They moved toward her room, both mentally preparing for the night ahead.

“Wait!” she suddenly exclaimed.

“You won’t lose all respect for me if I sleep with you, would you? I mean I didn’t even remember you, and one day later I’m sleeping with you. What would you think of me? Maybe we should wait,” she suggested uncertainly.

He picked her up and moved toward the bedroom.

“Woman, we’ve known each other for a long time. According to you we were married for two years, and were together longer than that. And in a few months we will have been married five years,” he said.

“What?” she asked in confusion. “I didn’t tell you that,” she protested, as he lowered her to the bed.

He came down beside her.

“Well, it only makes sense. Our second wedding anniversary was immediately before you found out about Kenny, and he’s more than two years old. Knowing me, he was probably conceived the night of our anniversary,” he leered at her.

Blushing, she buried her face in his chest.

“And you’re thinking that I would think less of you if we sleep together after waiting for each other for so long?” his breath hitched as she pulled aside his shirt and began to pepper kisses down his chest.

The phone began to ring in the distance. It went unnoticed by the couple on the bed, their passion drowning out all other sounds. It continued to ring as the couple in the bed moved closer and slowly became one.

They finally fell asleep, exhausted by their sensual reunion.

Rainie had one final thought as she drifted off to sleep.

There would be no need for dreams tonight.

No dreams.

Her dream man was lying in her arms.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Rrrrrriiiiiiinnnnnnnggggggg.

Rrrrrrriiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnggg.

Rrrrriiiiiiinnnnnnnngggggg.

Rrrrrriiiiiiiiinnnnnnnggggg.

Click.

“Hello. We are unable to come to the phone right now. Please leave a message after the beep, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.”

Bbbbbbeeeeeeeeeeepppppp.

“Rainie? Rainie, where are you? It’s dad.”

“Where is that girl, it’s midnight over there. See I told you she couldn’t be trusted alone.”

“Rainie, the convention was unexpectedly cancelled. We’re on our way back right now. There was no point in staying. We’ll arrive at the train station at 6 a.m. You don’t need to pick us up—

“And why not, may I ask? What could she be doing at six in the morning anyways, besides lazing about?”

“Will you be quiet? Rainie, we’ll just get a taxi. We’ll see you tomorrow morning. Goodnight hon. Take care of yourself.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Ken stood next to the machine, listening to the message. He had gotten up to get a glass of water and had seen the message light blinking.

He stared into the distance, silently. A look had appeared in his eyes upon hearing the voices and realizing whose they were.

His hand reached out.

Bbbbeeeepppp.

“Message erased.”

He silently moved toward the bedroom and Rainie, and carefully slipped into bed.

. . . . . . . .

He left the bedroom door wide open.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Chapter 7

Do You Trust Me?

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

They were alone in the room, and the door was wide open.

Rainie looked at it, confused, but moved to look at a sleeping Ken next to her. The issue of the door wasn’t really important.

He was so beautiful.

She reached over to brush the hair back from his face and winced at the soreness in her body. She blushed as she remembered why her body was sore. The memories of the night before were flooding her consciousness, and she quickly buried her face against Ken’s shoulder. She didn’t want him to see her fiery blush.

It had been more than two years since she had even looked at another man. It had never felt right. Last night she had done more than look. In fact she had been an enthusiastic participant in last night’s activities.

It seemed that her body had been starved for this. Not for just the act, but for all it represented. She had only realized how right it was when his body had touched hers.

Yes, their love was real.

But it had to be more than that. Love was . . . wanting to be loved. Her body had wanted to be loved, and he had known that.

He had done a LOT of loving last night.

Love was reaching out and touching the person you loved to ask them to love you in return.

She hadn’t needed to ask, because he had miraculously known how much she needed to make their reunion real. This was the way to do it. The only way.

She sleepily nuzzled his shoulder, her tongue coming out to delicately taste him.

Everything was perfect, and nothing could go wrong.

She began to dream about how she would proudly introduce him to her parents, and tell them about how he had been looking for her for over two years. She would let them know that someone did love her. Her son did have a name. That she would no longer be their burden. She wanted them to understand that she hadn’t let them down. Maybe then . . . maybe then they would look at her without the disappointment in their eyes. The disappointment she always seemed to see there.

Ken sleepily stirred beside her, and speaking in a husky voice, asked, “What are you doing down there?”

She stayed quiet.

“Rainie, look at me,” he insisted, reaching out to nudge at her chin.

She allowed her chin to be raised, and looked at him shyly. The blush was back.

“I want you to come with me,” he said. “Come back with me.”

“Where?” she asked in surprise.

“Back to the past. So we can remember together. We didn’t live with your parents. We had a home elsewhere. And we need to go back to our lives. Only that way will you be able to remember,” he explained.

“But . . .” she began in doubt.

“There should be no buts. Think about it. You only had vague dreams before I came. But after my return, you realized that these were memories and they became much clearer and sharper. You could actually tell what was happening. You’re remembering. If that can happen with my presence, then think about what would happen if we went back to the lives we once knew. My family might be looking for me. Our friends.”

“But . . . Sure, we can go back. But it would be kind of hard to leave my parents so abruptly. We need to give them time to get used to us, to understand what’s happening. They need to know who you are and that they can trust you. Give me a month,” she pleaded.

He sighed. His eyes glanced at the clock. It was 6:30 in the morning. Her parents would be coming home pretty soon. He didn’t want to do this, but it seemed like he didn’t have a choice. He turned to look at her.

“Do you trust me?” he asked.

“Trust you?” she laughed. “Trust you or not . . . Can’t you see that I love you? I don’t even know how it’s possible that even without all my memories of you, I can love you so completely. I’ve just realized that I can’t live without you. I was living half a life when you came. I don’t ever want to return to that half-existence.”

“So, if I said that we had to go . . .,” he ventured.

“Then . . . I would go with you,” she said firmly.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Wedding Reception, Part I:

It was a scene out of a fairy tale. The bride was radiant, and the groom was proud to call her his own.

They had eyes only for each other and no one else. The outer world had ceased to exist from the moment they had said their vows. It was as if a haze had fallen over their senses, one that would last far beyond their honeymoon.

Rainie stared into his eyes. Everything else faded in the background . . . the voices of the other guests, the people sitting around them. They weren’t important. Not today. Only he counted.

There were clinking noises, as 3 men tapped their forks against their glasses, calling to attention the many guests present on this auspicious day.

Rainie continued to stare into Ken’s eyes, wanting to keep the world to themselves for a little while longer. But, unfortunately, the other world would not be ignored.

“Hey you two, stop making cow eyes at each other, and listen to us. We have a beautiful speech prepared, so you better pay attention or all our hard work will go to waste. You know how angry that will make me,” the first man threatened.

“Or we’ll just plan something else that’s memorable for the happy couple,” the second man teased.

Rainie smiled, and turned to the three men. She didn’t know who they were, but she knew that they were very important to them. She quickly drew in a deep breath.

. . . . .

They were beautiful.

She turned to look back at Ken, but . . . they didn’t compare.

“Hello everyone. We would like to welcome everybody to today’s function. Our bestest buddy got married today. For all of those who know him, this must really seem a surprise. We all know his history with wom—

“Ah, well, that’s not the topic of the day,” the second man interrupted. “We would like to make a little speech we prepared for the happy couple. We wanted to do something a little extra, but the beautiful bride refused. She said she didn’t want us flubbing up her wedd—

“That’s enough out of you two,” the third man interrupted. “Before we bore people by describing how great our speech is, why don’t we just start,” he instructed the other two.

“Right,” the first man said, clearing his throat. “These two met by chance. In this huge world, the chances of these two meeting were . . . pretty much nil? But, they did it. They met, connected, separated and reconnected. It was as if fate was pushing them together. And a chance meeting became the first step in a lifetime of steps together.”

“He was stubborn, and she was persistent,” the second man began. “He fought his fate with all his might, wanting to protect her from, what he perceived were, his faults. But he didn’t know that the one thing that would hurt her the most would be not to have him in her life. She chased him, and made him see how . . . stupid, yes, stupid he was being. She opened his eyes to the glories of love, and he fell into love wholeheartedly. After that, there was no stopping them.”

“And now they’re getting married,” the third man began. “I know that right now everything seems rosy. But usually the glow wears off and reality sets in really quickly . . . But that won’t happen to these two. They’ve seen each other’s true faces, so they’re going into this marriage with their eyes open. Whatever glow that is there, is a true effect of love. It will never wear off, because it has no reason to. They promised each other today to love, honor and cherish the other. They’re both the kind of people that keep their promises. And they will never stop loving.”

“So, everyone raise your glasses to the happy couple,” the first man began once more.

“And wish them a joyous marriage,” the second one continued.

“Because no one deserves happiness more than these two. To the happy couple,” the third man finished.

Rainie’s eyes filled with tears. There was love in these men’s eyes. She turned to look at her husband, and saw that his eyes were a little wet, as well.

She smiled, and leaned over to give him a kiss.

“Those idiots. They don’t know when to shut up,” he muttered into her ear.

She could only laugh as everyone began to cheer at seeing the happy couple kiss.

The noise drowned out everything else.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

He smiled in relief, and turned her to face him. Leaning over, he feathered kisses down her face, and lower.

“Umm, what are you doing? It’s time to get up,” she protested.

He ignored her, and moved his body to cover hers.

“You really are innocent,” he whispered into her ear. She shivered. “This is how you’re supposed to get up in the mornings. Don’t worry, I’ll be here to remind you.”

His ears heard the faint sounds of movement in the living room. Leaning over, he began to whisper into her ear, describing how happy they would be. That they belonged together. And that he loved her more than anyone else she would know.

She listened quietly in bliss, her body softening under his. In that state of bliss, she missed the fact that her parents were so near.

“Oh my God!!!” Rainie’s mother shrieked from the doorway, as she stared at the back of a naked man.

Ken turned to look at the intruder. His eyes narrowed as they saw the person who had separated him from his Rainie so ruthlessly.

“Oh my God!!!” the woman shrieked again, when she saw her obviously naked daughter lying underneath that man.

“What the hell is going on?” Rainie’s father demanded in anger, when he saw the scene that his wife had just witnessed.

“Mom . . . dad . . . you’re back,” Rainie began in a small voice.

“See, I told you. I told you that we couldn’t trust her!! She’s a slut. A whore. She came home with a bastard. And without her memory. She’s totally useless to us. Kick her out!” her mother yelled in anger.

Rainie’s eyes began to fill with tears, as she saw all her dreams of a happy family going down the drain. It seemed that she would never get their approval. She winced as she saw the disappointment in her father’s eyes. He had only stood there quietly, oblivious to his wife’s tirade. It was as if he couldn’t believe that their daughter had betrayed them.

“Be quiet!” Ken commanded, ending the woman’s tirade.

Rainie’s mother was abruptly silenced. Her face reflected her shock at being told to be quiet in her own home.

“Leave,” he continued, as the elder couple stood there. “I will come out to meet you, but this is neither the time nor the place to argue about this.”

Rainie’s mother opened her mouth to argue, but Ken stared her down. He really wasn’t in the mood for this grief. Especially not from these people.

“Leave,” he ordered again. “I’ll meet you in the study.”

“Ken, stop it,” Rainie pleaded, aghast at his audacity. He was a stranger sleeping with their daughter, and yet he had the nerve to order them around.

Ken ignored her, and glared at her parents. He had seen the flicker of recognition in the father’s eyes. He knew that he would get his way.

Rainie’s father turned to go, and pulled his protesting wife along.

Rainie’s eyes widened in surprise. She hadn’t expected them to leave quietly.

“Look,” he said, turning to her. “You stay here. I’m going to go talk to them. I know that you don’t want to hurt them, but they’ve hurt you more than enough. We need to leave. They won’t let you be happy. And they’ll do anything to keep us apart. We need to leave,” he repeated.

She slowly began to nod. She had seen the anger and disappointment in her parents’ eyes. She didn’t want to stay here to face that every day. And she didn’t want Kenny to face it.

“Get packed. We’ll be leaving as soon as possible. I know that it may be a little hard at first, but we’ll pull through, okay?” he asked.

“Okay.”

Kissing her on the forehead, he moved toward the bedroom door.

“Wait,” she called out in a panic.

Turning, he responded to the panic in her voice.

“What? Trust me, everything will be alright.”

“It’s not that.”

“I’ll take care of you. And I promise you that you and Kenny won’t lack for anything.”

“It’s not that.”

“Fine. I promise that I won’t be too harsh with them. And one day, after we’re past all of this, we’ll come back to try a reconciliation,” he offered.

“It’s not that,” she insisted.

“Then what?” he asked in exasperation.

She stared at him. Smiled. And then pointed.

He looked down. Closed his eyes in mortification. And turned to pull on some clothes.

He walked toward the study. Toward the waiting couple. Whatever happened today he had to make sure that . . . Rainie didn’t get hurt.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

“So,” he said to the silent couple. There was worry in the woman’s eyes . . . Good.

“Would you like to explain to me why you took my wife away? Or why you left me lying there helpless? Would you like to explain to me why you lied to her? . . . or why you’ve never bothered telling her the whole truth?”

There was complete silence in the room.

He smiled coldly. He had guessed that they would have nothing to say.

“I thought so. Now let me tell you what will happen. We were helpless for two years, but no more. No more. We have each other now, and there is nothing you could do to tear us apart. I would suggest that you not even try. Do you understand me?” he asked softly.

They nodded.

“Good. We’re leaving. Don’t try to stop us. All I’m telling you to do is say goodbye to her, and let her go,” he said, and then got up to go.

“Wait,” a voice pleaded from behind him.

He turned to look at her father.

“Please take care of her.”

“What right do you have to ask that of me? I’ll take better care of her then you ever did,” he replied and turned to go.

“Don’t hurt her again,” her father pleaded.

“You have no right to ask that of me. I’ll do what I want,” turning he left the couple behind him. He never wanted to see them again.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Wedding Reception, Part II:

She stood in a corner of the ballroom. Her clothes had changed, and she was now wearing something a bit more casual, but just as festive.

She looked at the women standing around her. The scene was a bit hazy, as if she wasn’t quiet ready to see their faces.

“Are you sure? You can still run away. You know, escape his evil clutches. It’s not like the marriage has been consummated,” one said teasingly.

The other women laughed.

“Stop it. You were the one that got us together, and now you want me to run away?” she protested laughingly.

“Well, thinking about what my husband said during the toast . . .,” she teased.

“Well, your husband’s an idiot sometimes,” Ken said, coming up behind her.

The woman nodded in agreement, not arguing the point.

“Are you ready to go?” he asked, turning to Rainie.

“Yep. The luggage is in the car?” she asked.

“Yeah, let’s go,” he said, whisking her away.

Everything was ready. After a flurry of goodbyes, they raced out to the waiting transport.

“Don’t worry,” she said between their hungry kisses. They were on their way to the airport, but it seemed Ken didn’t want to wait.

“What?” he asked breathlessly.

“You don’t have to consummate the marriage in the car. I won’t run away. I promise,” she said. “I promise to stay by your side no matter what anyone says. Alright?”

He smiled sheepishly, and then nodded.

“Alright.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

“What happened?” she asked anxiously when he returned to their room.

“Nothing. Let’s pack and go. They’ve agreed that we need to find out about our past. They won’t stop us,” he said coolly.

Rainie’s eyes widened in surprise.

“Really?” she squeaked out.

“What? Is that surprise or disappointment I hear in your voice?” he asked, turning to her.

“Surprise,” she said, looking at him in confusion.

“Don’t doubt me. Don’t doubt us, Rainie. Please. I can’t stand those people, and I don’t want to leave you here with them. You’ll come with me?” he asked again.

She nodded, and quietly began to pack.

As they left the bedroom, with Kenny in her arms, she saw her parents standing near the doorway.

Her eyes were wary. She didn’t want to face anymore of their contempt.

Her father was quiet. It seemed that he had aged ten years in the past hour.

Her body involuntarily moved toward him, wanting to comfort him. Ken grabbed her wrist, and held her close to him.

“Let’s go,” he ordered.

“But, I just wanted to say goodbye,” she whispered to him.

She tugged free of his hold, and moved toward her parents.

“Just go,” her mother gritted out in anger. “Get out of here. We don’t want you here any ways. You’ve disappointed us enough. But we left you a message last night, and he deliberately erased it. He wanted you to get caught. So, tell me, how sure are you of him. CAN you trust him? Doesn’t it feel like he’s manipulating you? Orchestrating this whole thing? How sure are you of him?” her mother repeated maliciously.

Rainie turned to look at Ken in confusion. Her eyes were questioning him about the claims her mother had made. His expression gave nothing away. He held out his hand silently, waiting for her.

Rainie stared at his hand, and then turned to look at her parents.

Her eyes filled with tears when the realization came to her that she trusted this man, this almost stranger, more than her parents. It hurt to realize that she couldn’t trust them.

“Goodbye,” she whispered softly.

Turning, she placed her hand in Ken’s, and quietly walked away from the life she had known for the past two years.

It had been secure, but she hadn’t been happy.

Her son had suffered.

She loved her parents only because they WERE her parents. She had stayed with them because she had no choice.

She had one now.

And she had chosen him.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Chapter 8

Back . . . Home?

Hi, everyone. Here’s the next chapter. Enjoy, and don’t forget to leave comments.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

She was running away from him. Her breath was coming out in harsh gasps and her lungs had begun to ache, but she did not want to stop.

Everything had been perfect, and then he had to come. She didn’t want this. She was betraying the man she really believed she had loved. It had only taken a few moments in HIS company to realize how wrong she had been.

Hands grabbed her from behind.

“Let me go,” she cried out.

“No!” he growled back, incensed at her demands to be free.

“I told you that I wouldn’t wait! How could you show up at a time like this . . . at my engagement party? I’m wearing another man’s ring on my finger. Ken’s ring,” she angrily shouted. She raised her hand to show him the ring that he couldn’t have missed.

“I love you,” he said quietly.

“He loves me,” she said, pointing at her ring. “And I have more reason to believe him than you. He’s never let me down.”

There was only silence.

“Excuse me,” she said, attempting to move past him. She needed to go back. There was nothing here for her.

“I know that I let you down. I know that I made a mistake in not coming after you, but there were things I had to work out. Things that would have soured any relationship we could have formed. Would you really have wanted to fight my shadows? I’ve worked everything out, and I’m ready to love you now,” he said, grabbing her arm.

“So, you’re ready. Why should that matter? You’re finally at a place that I left behind more than a year ago. I made that conscious choice to leave, just as you made the conscious choice to stay behind. Why should I care that you’re here right now when I’ve already moved on? Let me go,” she repeated.

“I can’t. And the truth is that you’re standing here next to me. You haven’t moved an inch since I last saw you,” he murmured, leaning down to kiss her.

She froze at the first contact, trying to fight the sensations coursing through her body. It was her first real kiss. And he had stolen it, just like he had stolen her heart so long ago. No matter how much she wanted to forget, her heart wouldn’t let her . . . stupid heart. Her lips began to respond, falling open, and her body melted into his.

He pulled back and smiled his sexy smile.

“Stop smiling,” she growled.

He stopped smiling, but he wouldn’t stop looking at her, gazing into her soul.

“Fine!” she exhaled in exasperation. “I’ll give you a chance. I’m going to break up with him. Not tonight . . . that would be too cruel. And how can I break our engagement, and tell him that I want to be with his boss? . . . But I will break up with him. To remain with him when I love someone else would be the ultimate cruelty.”

He whooped with joy, and grabbed her, swinging her around in circles.

“Stop it! Put me down,” she ordered. He hurriedly complied not wanting to anger her and ruin the moment.

“I wouldn’t be too happy if I were you. Not just yet. Be prepared to work hard. Very hard,” she said smilingly. “My parents hate people like you. And you need their approval.”

“People like me?” he asked in confusion.

“Rich people. They think you are all good for nothings. Nothing good comes out of having a rich man around, that’s what my father always says. And . . .”

“There’s an and? Isn’t it enough they hate a big part of me?” he asked in frustration.

“Nope. And you’re wealth isn’t a big part of you. What are you saying, that you’re nothing more than your parents’ wealth. I wouldn’t be so shallow as to fall in love with a man who only had his wealth going for him. You have some things going for you,” she finally said.

“But they also hate where you come from. I’m their little princess, and they will HATE you for taking me away from them. Are you prepared?” she asked, smirking.

His looks face took on a determined look. His mouth became firm, and he straightened his shoulders.

“Yes,” he said firmly.

He turned to move back to the building in the far distance.

“Where are you going?” she asked.

“To make them fall in love with me. After all I got you to fall in love with me, and you are their daughter,” he said cheekily.

“See . . . arrogant. Rich people are all arrogant. Idiot,” she said, ignoring it when his mouth opened to protest. “Idiot. I told you that I wouldn’t be breaking up with him tonight. You can come back with me. But only as a friend from university or something. Tonight I will be on the arm of my fiancée. He needs this more than you. And maybe you can finally see how I felt seeing you with all those other women.”

“Fine,” he grumbled, and then flashed her a smile. “But can I walk you back to the house,” he asked, offering her his arm.

And, together, they walked back to a party where she was to become another man’s fiancée for one night.

Only the moonlight witnessed the last, lingering kiss the couple shared before separating and entering the house through separate entrances.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Rainie sat at the train station, waiting for the two men in her life to return. For the first time she wasn’t with Kenny. He had insisted on going with his daddy, because he was too old to go to the girl’s potty.

Her hands clenched as she stared at the trains whizzing by. Their town was so small, that there was no need for an airport. People had no recourse but to go by train to the nearest city to get to one. She didn’t want to go back on that. She didn’t feel ready to get back on a thing that had stolen so much from her.

She finally saw Ken coming back with her . . . no, their son. Her eyes grew wet with tears when she remembered Kenny’s joy at finding out that he had a daddy. That Uncle Ken, the man with the same name as him, was his daddy. His little eyes had rounded with joy, and he had started jumping around in excitement. It was what he had done afterwards that brought a lump to her throat. Seeing him race over to Ken, to demand to be picked up and hugged and cuddled had been a beautiful sight to witness. Kenny had clutched at his father’s shirt, mumbling “daddy” over and over again into the shirt.

Rainie’s heart had twisted even more when she looked up into Ken’s eyes. There were so many emotions swimming there. His eyes were saying “thank you” for the little miracle he held in his arms. She could only smile silently in response.

Kenny raced over to his mother, and jumped into her lap.

“So how was it, Kenny? Did you do okay?” she asked softly.

“I did good. I told you I’m a big boy, mommy. And daddy was there with me,” he said, pouting.

She quickly nodded in agreement.

“We went to the potty. And we peed standing up . . . and then daddy called somebody, and was talking weird, and then daddy’s phone fell on the floor, and it broke . . . and then daddy said fu—”

“That’s enough, Kenny. What did daddy say about that word?” Ken quickly said, putting his hand over his precocious son’s mouth.

“You said not to say it in front of mommy . . . that men needed to let off st-ste-steam and they needed to say words like that when civ—something ladies weren’t around,” he finished triumphantly, after having successfully pulled away his father’s hand.

“Civilized,” he explained sheepishly. Rainie stared at him in shock. She didn’t quite know what to say.

“You’ve been alone with our son for five minutes, and you’ve already taught him a bad word?” she asked in astonishment.

“It was an accident. The phone fell and broke, and it just slipped out,” he explained.

“Fine. But be careful. Remember that little pitchers have big ears,” she sternly lectured her errant husband.

“Sure, sure,” he hurriedly agreed, glad not to be in too much trouble.

“Who were you calling? And weird language?” she asked curiously.

“Just one of the friends I’ve made over the past two years. I was telling him I found my angel and a little baby that I knew nothing about. And I was speaking French. I’ve picked it up a little bit,” he explained, smiling sexily.

She blushed at being called an angel and looked away.

“Let’s go,” he suddenly said.

“Huh? Where?” she asked, knowing in her heart what the answer would be.

“We need to get on this train. We need to do this Rainie,” he gently insisted.

She reluctantly nodded. She really did not want to get back on that train. She just knew that nothing good would come out of this.

“You understand, right?” he asked again, wanting to get her support. “We have to get out of here. We need to get away from your parents or I’m afraid that I might do something in anger,” he finally said.

She looked at him in confusion, not understanding that statement.

“Two years Rainie. Two years of your life, and mine, and my child’s. They took that away from us, for reasons that I’m only beginning to understand. Am I supposed to forgive them for this?” he asked, wanting her to understand.

“You have to forgive them,” she finally said. “It’s not about what they did, because what they did was really horrible. And all I know is that they did it because of who you were and where you came from . . . I think. But if you don’t forgive them, then how can you live your life fully now? How can you be happy when this anger is eating away at your soul,” she asked softly, wanting HIM to understand that truth.

“I’ll try,” he finally said. “But that’s all I can promise right now. Let’s go, our train’s about to leave,” he abruptly said.

Picking up Kenny, and their bags, he walked towards the train. Rainie followed behind unhappily. She really didn’t want to do this, but it seemed like she didn’t have a choice.

“So,” she began, striving to be cheerful, “Where are we going?”

“That is for me to know and you to find out,” he teased back.

“Come on!” she said incredulously. “I’m getting on this deathtrap for you, and you won’t even tell me where we are going. Tell me now,” she ordered, yanking at his hair.

“Ow,” he shouted. “Damn, girl. Calm down. You’re all feisty now,” he teased, grinning at her.

Suddenly, a little hand crept up to yank at his hair.

“OW!!” he said, and looked down at their mischievous son questioningly.

“Well, mommy did it. I wanted to try it too,” Kenny explained.

Rainie began to laugh, and without a second thought got on the train, and they began their journey to a mysterious location. She had tried to ask again where they were going.

“Hush, woman. Don’t you know that it’s never about the destination, it’s about the journey. So, just enjoy the journey,” he insisted mysteriously.

She had finally accepted, very reluctantly, that he wouldn’t tell her where they were going. And had settled back to enjoy the journey. Or as much as one could enjoy it sitting in a train.

Later, as she sat, once again, waiting for her men to come back from the bathroom, she began to think about how everything was happening so fast. They had met two days ago, and she had already left her parents’ home to be with him. She had that much trust in him.

It didn’t feel like everything was happening too fast. She had been waiting for so long, that it almost felt like that things were moving slowly even now.

“Excuse me, is this seat taken?” a voice asked above her head.

“Yes,” she said shortly, not even bothering to look up.

“Are you sure?” the sexy, male voice persisted.

“I said yes. Please leave, my husband will be returning soon. He’s a very jealous man,” she snapped back at the persistent voice.

A few seconds after the man had left, her men rejoined her.

“Handsome man,” Ken muttered.

“Who?” Rainie asked in confusion.

“The guy that was hitting on you,” he muttered back.

“What? Him? I didn’t notice,” Rainie said in astonishment. “Where?” She began to crane her neck around, hoping to catch a glimpse of him.

“Stop it,” Ken ordered, forcibly turning her head back around.

She smiled at him.

“Don’t tell me. You were jealous?” she finally teased.

“What can I say? I’ve almost lost you so many times. I’m not going to risk another man butting in to almost steal you again,” he finally muttered.

She only laughed, and cuddled close to him, wrapping her hands around his arm.

“Tell me what you’ve been doing for the past two years,” Ken suddenly demanded.

She was quiet for a moment, trying to gather her thoughts.

“Waiting. Most of all I’ve been waiting for you to show up. You’ve been haunting my dreams for so long, you know,” she said, turning to look at an interested Ken. “Besides that, I’ve been raising our son and working at the restaurant.”

“No dates?” he asked.

“How could I? When I knew . . . hoped that there was someone like you out there,” she said. “What about you?”

“Me? I’ve been working, saving up money, so that I could search for you,” he answered.

“Work? What kind of work?” she asked.

“Nothing special. Just work,” he replied, clenching his hands.

Noticing the action, she pulled back and looked at his hands. Turning them over, she insistently opened them to look at his palms. Her eyes widened at the calluses, scrapes and scars on his once beautiful hands. She just knew that they had been beautiful.

“Ugly, huh?” he asked, embarrassed.

“What did you do?” she asked in tears.

“Everything. Anything it took to make the money I needed to find you. I had to do all I could to come to you,” he said, his jaw tightening.

She searched his eyes, and then pulled up his hands to softly kiss them.

“Thank you. These are the most beautiful hands in the world to me. No one will tell me differently, not even you,” she said.

He only smiled quietly, and pulled her back into his embrace.

After hours of traveling they had finally reached the nearest airport.

As they waited for their flight, Rainie demanded once more, “Now will you tell me where we are going?”

He quietly looked at her.

“Back to the place your parents hate.”

“Back to our home.”

. . . . . .

“Back to Taiwan.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Chapter 9

Lies . . . All Lies

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Rainie looked at Ken incredulously. She couldn’t believe the words that had come out of his mouth.

“Taiwan?” she breathed out in disbelief.

“That’s our home,” he told her gently. “I told you that I had my passport, right? And that I had some letters written in a foreign language? It was Chinese and it was a Taiwanese passport.

Rainie was silent. It was too much to take in at one time. She had left her parents for this man, and now she was expected to leave the country . . . the continent? She looked at him. Her memories had been getting confusing lately. There had been glimpses of another man, but nothing clear enough to completely understand. While she knew that Ken was the man she loved, it scared her that another man was a part of her past. And there was no one she could ask about it.

Could she take this big step? But that wasn’t the question to ask. Could she give him up again and live without him? The answer to THAT question was a resounding no.

So, like women had done for centuries before her, and would be expected to do for centuries after her, she would follow her man and hope that he would make this sacrifice worthwhile.

“I don’t know why my brain forgot to read Chinese, or even to speak it . . . but brains are mysterious organs. I just know that Taiwan is our home, and you have the best chance of recovering your memory completely. It’s already coming back, this might be the push it needs to completely recover,” he explained.

She nodded.

“What about the paperwork? Don’t we need passports and visas?” she asked worriedly, suddenly afraid that he would leave without her.

“I’ve taken care of that,” he explained.

“How?” she asked.

“It’s . . . too complicated to get into,” he said.

“But, the money? Wouldn’t it cost a lot for you to get it all in such a short amount of time?” she asked, confused.

“I’ll tell you about it later, okay?” he suddenly snapped.

Rainie was shocked, but then looked into eyes. He was embarrassed, or maybe he was guilty of hiding something. She suddenly realized that this might be the money from all the hard labor he had done over the past two years. She didn’t want him to feel embarrassed about that, and quickly nodded, agreeing to let the topic go.

Smiling, he took her hand and his other grabbed Kenny’s, and they moved toward the plane.

Rainie took a deep breath. First trains, and now this. When he had reentered her life everything had changed. New adventures were cropping up everywhere. And she didn’t know if she was ready to face them. It left her feeling scared . . . vulnerable.

“Don’t worry. Trust me,” he whispered into her ear.

She looked at him and smiled. They boarded the plane and continued their journey back home.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

One morning, many years ago . . .

They stood in the early morning light, and she shivered as the air brushed across her clammy shoulders.

He stood next to her, quietly. She wanted him to speak, but he wouldn’t. She knew he wouldn’t say a word.

She quietly slipped away. It was time to go home. Her parents were waiting. Her new life was waiting . . . Ken was waiting. She finally allowed herself to be excited about it.

As she waited for the taxi to come, she heard footsteps behind her.

“Where are you going?” he asked.

“Back . . . home,” she finally whispered around the lump in her throat.

“Don’t go,” he said.

“I have to. Can you give me a reason to stay?” she asked.

There was only silence.

“Goodbye. I hope you have a good life. Maybe I’ll see you in another lifetime, and you will be ready to love me,” she said in a final tone.

The excruciating silence continued.

Her shoulders slumped in defeat, and she made to leave. Maybe a part of her had really hoped that he would stop her.

This was the end of all hope. It seemed that they would never be together. She needed to accept that reality.

Someone was waiting for her at home. He had said that he loved her, and she wanted to give that love a chance.

She turned to the man standing quietly behind her.

“You don’t know how to love. If you ever learn . . . don’t bother finding me. I won’t wait for you anymore. I’ve finally realized that you’re no longer worthy of my love. Your loss. I would’ve made one hell of a good wife, mother of your children, a lifetime companion,” she smiled bitterly, and slipped into the waiting taxi.

Turning her head, she saw something in his eyes she had never expected to see again. At least not for her.

Tears.

There were tears in his eyes, and they were for her.

But it was too late to stop.

She had already decided to go.

There was no turning back.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Rainie woke up abruptly, and looked around her. Her confusing dreams were returning. For a while they had been so clear, as if everything was falling into place, but now . . . it was as if something was out of sync. She was forgetting something important . . . something that wasn’t coming back to her. And that was throwing off everything else.

She looked at Ken dozing next to her, and then looked at Kenny in her lap. She loved them both so much, but she was so confused. It hurt her physically to be so lost.

She didn’t want to be like this anymore. She wanted to be a complete person, one who had all her memories.

And that something big she couldn’t quiet grasp . . . what if it never came back?

Would she always remain like this?

Lost and a burden to those around her?

She swallowed back the tears, and tried to calm down. This wouldn’t help anyone.

She was pulled out of her thoughts by stewardess’s voice over the audio system telling the passengers to buckle up. They were about to land in Taiwan.

She looked out the window.

Taiwan.

She couldn’t really see anything in the early morning light, even though she wanted to catch a glimpse of her home.

Ken said that it was their home. And for a moment there was a flash of something. Of a remembered excitement about approaching home. An eagerness to be embraced by the atmosphere that was so much a part of this great country.

“Ken. Ken wake up,” she whispered, nudging him awake. “Buckle up, we’re landing,” she instructed her sleepy husband.

An hour later they had cleared customs and were leaving the airport in a taxi.

“Where are we going?” she asked.

“Haven’t you learned by now that I want it to be a surprise?” Ken said grumpily.

Rainie stiffened. It was happening again. His resentment was surfacing, just like it had come out in her parents. She was becoming a burden to him.

Oh god! It had only been a few days, and he was already tired.

She became silent. It took all her energy to keep the sobs inside.

As she stared out the window familiar sites began to appear.

“Ken, look!” she said excitedly, wanting him to see that she was remembering. “That’s where I used to work! I remember that. And look I’ve been to that place. That looks so familiar. And that building looks so familiar,” she said in delight.

He smiled at her, and hugged her close.

“Shh, you don’t want to wake up Kenny, do you?” he murmured into her hair.

“I’m just so happy. I was really skeptical about this, but it’s coming back. I’m so happy,” she whispered.

They stared at the passing sights, and Rainie pointed out all she remembered.

“I’ve stayed at the hotel. And I’ve eaten at the café. And there’s the park I used to go to,” she said in excitement.

She stared everywhere wide-eyed. It was coming back. The ghosts of memories that had been locked away by the strange environment she had been living in. But it was all coming back now. Pieces of her were coming back. And soon . . . soon she would be complete. A complete woman, who would be a burden on no one.

She saw a building in the distance. It was familiar, so familiar. But she couldn’t quite figure it out . . .

“And there’s the building where you showed me how much you loved me,” he murmured, caught up in the moment and their shared memories.

She froze.

“What?” she finally whispered.

“That’s the building,” he said again.

She pulled back and stared at him. The blood had left her face, and she swayed from the horror of the thought that had begun to dawn.

“I never told you about that,” she finally got out.

There was a brief electric silence. He turned to look at her, and she could see the guilt in his eyes.

“How do you know about that building?” she pleaded to know, wanting him to deny the truth that was glaring her in the face.

“Rainie . . .” he began.

“I don’t want to hear it! All this time . . . all this time you’ve been playing me? You’ve had your memory all this time. Were you laughing at me when I shared my memories with you? Were you pitying me when I told you about my confusion? Is this some kind of game??!!” she shrieked at him.

“Rainie, it’s not a game. I . . .,” he trailed off.

“What can you say? What can you say that could justify this? God. I believed you. How long have you had your memory?” she demanded.

He remained silent.

“Now is not the time to remain silent. Or . . . did you never lose it? I’ve been waiting for you for two years! What were you doing in that time? Were you really looking for me? When I asked you that first day whether you knew me, you said . . . no. You pretended not to know me. Why?”

“I wasn’t lying. I did lose my mem—”

“I don’t want to hear it. You lied to me. You lied to a person who had lost her memory. How despicable is that? What if all my memories aren’t really memories? What if . . . everything has just been a dream that I’ve wanted to believe in? Lies . . . all lies,” she couldn’t breathe in the taxi. She needed to escape.

“Driver, stop the car,” she ordered. As soon as the taxi had stopped, she got out, pulling out a wailing Kenny.

“Where are you going?” Ken demanded, grabbing onto her wrist.

“Away from you. Just away,” she shouted.

“Look. You’re in a strange land. What are you going to do?” he asked.

“You said that it was my home. I’m sure I’ll find someone who knew me. Let me go,” she gritted out.

“No. Stay. We’ll go back home, and then we can discuss this,” he insisted.

“What’s left to discuss? You lied to me when I was at my most vulnerable. How can I trust another word that comes out of your lying mouth?” she asked bitterly.

“Sh—,” he stopped.

“Do you want to swear at me? Go ahead. You couldn’t fall any lower in my opinion. How could you?” she asked with tears in her eyes. “How could you?”

The tears began to fall in earnest.

Ken swore and let her go.

“Here’s a card. Come back to this address when your head has cleared. And to ensure that you do. . . ,” he pulled Kenny from her arms.

“No!! You can’t just—

“Whatever you want to think, I am your husband. Your body trusts me, why can’t you let your heart trust me, too? I’ll be waiting for you with OUR son. Come home soon,” he said. Turning he got back into the taxi and left her there.

Alone.

On the sidewalk.

In Taiwan.

She wanted to call out. This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen. He was supposed to stay, and take her back. How could he leave her like that?

She had come all the way to Taiwan to realize the two things that should’ve been obvious to her in her parents’ home.

As long as she didn’t have her memory . . .

She would remain a burden . . .

And she couldn’t trust anyone.

No one.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Chapter 10

Amnesia Begone

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Love wasn’t supposed to hurt this much.

It really wasn’t.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Rainie lay in his arms. That had been her request . . . That they could just lie like this forever.

But somehow she knew it wouldn’t last forever. There was so much pain, and she didn’t know how to bear it.

She had to though. She had to bear it. She had no choice.

She hadn’t known that falling in love could hurt so much.

As his arm came up to embrace her, to comfort . . . she realized one thing. He knew her pain. He understood it.

That more than anything made her realize that if she had to do it all over again, she would still fall in love. And she would still fall in love with him.

He had eventually fallen asleep, and she had relaxed enough to move in his arms.

“Promise me that you will remember me,” she whispered into his ear. Her hands had gently tugged at the ends of his hair.

“Promise me,” she had insisted, wanting him to answer. To give her his word. He was a man of honor, though not many would say that. But he was asleep, and he wouldn’t answer. It broke her heart to realize that even if he had been awake, he wouldn’t have answered.

He had shifted in his sleep.

She froze, not wanting him to awaken. Not wanting their time together to end.

“I love you,” he murmured in his sleep, pulling her closer.

Rainie’s heart began to beat happily, as she snuggled close.

“I love you . . .,” he murmured again, adding on a name at the end that she couldn’t decipher.

But she knew one thing.

. . . . . . . .

It hadn’t been hers.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Rainie walked around the busy streets of Taiwan. The sun had come out, and the air was hot and humid.

She couldn’t breathe.

More than anything that was a side effect of her argument with him. She was panicking at the thought of losing him.

But he had lied.

He had lied to her about losing his memories.

If he had regained his memories and hid that from her . . . that meant he pitied her.

And if had never lost his memories and had lied to her . . . that meant that he didn’t love her.

She felt so confused, and more than anything she wanted to talk to someone.

The only person she knew in this whole, entire country was the man she was running from. The man she loved despite the fact that she hadn’t regained her memories. The man that had taken her son, leaving her truly alone.

He hadn’t stayed. He had taken Kenny.

A third possibility arose. What if all he wanted from her was his son?

She had no doubts that they were married, but she was unsure about his motives. There could be no good explanation for his behavior. She didn’t want to be pitied or hated or used.

She wanted to be loved. She wanted to find someone that wouldn’t consider her a burden. Was that so hard?

She turned and began to walk and slowly entered a shop. She didn’t care where she went or what kind of shop it was, she didn’t care. It was just a place to sit and think for a while. That was something she needed to do. As long as she remained confused, she wouldn’t be able to come to a decision.

She sat at a table, directly behind three women. Without conscious thought, she began to listen to their conversation.

“How long has it been? It feels like it’s been so long,” one of them said.

“One year. They’ve been missing for one year now. You know how they were. They were so excited about their stupid little honeymoon, and I told them not to go to Africa. But would they listen?” the second woman sadly said.

“So they were supposed to end their honeymoon and be back here a year ago, and they never returned?” the third woman asked.

“No. His secretary said that they were doing fine for one year, and then suddenly the messages stopped coming. And he tried to contact the African authorities in the places they went to . . . you know how war torn that continent is. No one knew anything. Or . . . if they knew they weren’t saying anything. And it’s been a year,” she sighed. “Why haven’t they found anything?” she demanded in anger, slamming her hand down on the table. “They’re supposed to be all powerful. What is wrong with them?”

“Calm down. It’s not good for the baby,” the first woman gently cautioned.

“How can I even be thinking about having healthy babies when my best friend is missing? Her parents know nothing. What can we do?”

“They are powerful men,” the third woman began, “But they’re only human. They’re not gods. They’ve tried. They’ve searched. You know they have. It’s as if those two didn’t want to be found.”

“It’s these damned hormones. I’m due any moment and they were supposed to be here. She was supposed to be the godmother of my second child,” she sniffled into her handkerchief.

Rainie’s eavesdropping was interrupted by a clatter at her table. She looked up and saw an angry waiter standing there.

“Miss, you can’t just sit here without ordering anything,” he said coldly.

Rainie looked down in embarrassment. She had just realized that she had nothing with her.

“I have no money,” she whispered to the waiter.

“What? You have no money?” the waiter said in a loud tone. “How dare you enter this establishment when you’re so obviously not from the upper class?”

Rainie’s face had gone red with humiliation. She quickly got up to go.

“Just what do you think you’re doing?” the pregnant woman’s cold tones came from across the table.

Rainie didn’t want to face them, she stood with her back to the three, not wanting to let anyone else witness her humiliation.

“How dare you treat someone like that? I could have your job for this. Respecting someone is not about how much money they have. You should respect everyone that enters those doors, as if they were as rich as the richest. Do you understand?” she finished.

“Y-y-yes ma’am. I’m sorry,” the waiter stammered and fled the scene.

“Are you okay?” one of the women came over to ask.

“I’m fine,” Rainie mumbled, and turned to go.

“Don’t go. Please come join us,” she insisted.

“I can’t. I can’t just join you after what happened. I’m so embarrassed,” Rainie said, hiding her face.

“You have no reason to be embarrassed of another’s rudeness. Please, come join us.”

Rainie turned under the gentle pressure, and went to join the party at the next table.

The pregnant woman turned to look at her, smiling gently.

The smile quickly fell away.

Shock soon replaced it.

She shouted out a name.

Her name?

Rainie hadn’t known.

Her heart had though, and she had responded in kind.

But even then her feet remained rooted to the ground, as the woman raced over and began to embrace her.

It was too much to take in.

That face was so familiar. It was a face that she had grown up with.

When she looked at it, the memories that had stubbornly stayed locked away finally came out. Darkness began to fall in front of her eyes. She knew that if she didn’t leave, she would suffocate . . . in the woman’s embrace, and the power of her own memories.

She pulled away from the tightly clutching arms, and raced away.

She could hear the shouts behind her, and the pattering of running feet.

It was no use. She caught a taxi, and told the driver to drive around. Memories were flooding her consciousness. Finally, after many hours had crawled by, she gave the driver the card that Ken . . . no . . . not Ken . . . had handed her.

It was time to face her past.

She was finally ready.

She was finally complete.

It took only a quarter of an hour to get there. Without a single glance at the place she was entering, she raced into the building and saw him sitting there.

Her breath came in short gasps.

He stared at her quietly.

She stared back the face she had come to know so well in the past few days. Looking at it again, with her memories intact, made it all the more beloved.

“So . . . I’m back,” she murmured.

He got up and came toward her.

She nervously backed away.

Silently he pulled her into his arms.

“I was so worried. Worried that you wouldn’t come back. Worried that I would lose you again. I couldn’t go through the past two years again,” he murmured into her hair.

“I did lose my memory. I did. I wasn’t lying about that. Remember how I lost consciousness five minutes after first meeting you? When I woke up my memory was back, and I couldn’t say anything. You were wary of me. You had become so insecure. I couldn’t shake the confidence that you did have. Forgive me. Please say you forgive me,” he pleaded, holding her tightly.

“I’ll forgive you,” she gasped, “Just loosen your hold a bit.”

She finally pulled away.

“Where’s Kenny?” she asked.

“Sleeping upstairs,” he said, looking at her anxiously.

Something had happened. He just knew it.

“So, I met someone,” she began.

“Who?” he asked anxiously.

“Oh, don’t worry about it. It wasn’t anything horrible, or . . . not too horrible. Although all the screeching may have deafened me,” she said smilingly.

“You mean?” he asked in shock.

“I met my best friend, and she called me by a name I didn’t even know I had. It was the name that put everything back into place. Why do you think I overreacted this morning? You know why. You’ve been lying to me. Yes, I know that it was for the best of reasons, but my heart knew something wasn’t right. And you were hiding it from me. If you could hide that, what else could you be hiding?” she looked at him.

He remained silent, understanding her point of view.

“What name?” he finally whispered hoarsely. “Who has come back to me today?”

“You know who, Ximen Zhong er Lang. Your wife, Yang Xiao You is back. And there’s nothing that can keep us apart now. Not even me,” she said, coming over to kiss him.

She had been right. Her memories had given her the confidence she needed to realize that she wasn’t a burden to him, nor would he ever think that, and that she could trust him with her life. And more than her life, she could trust him with her heart.

He smiled joyfully, and pulled her back into his arms.

They were home.

Their son, the heir to the Ximen empire, was sleeping upstairs where he belonged.

And she was back in his arms.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Where she belonged.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The first confession, so long ago . . .

“I came to find you,” Xiao You said. She took a deep breath. “I like you.”

“Thank you, Xiao You. I like you too,” he smilingly replied.

“Ximen, I am serious,” she protested.

“Your serious expression is so beautiful, but I think it is a bit too serious,” he said. She only stared at him quietly, expecting more.

“What do you want me to do?” he asked, taking a deep breath. “Date? Kiss? Go to bed together? If that is all, everything you say, I can do.”

Xiao You slapped him angrily, and then, watching him touch the corner of his mouth, she took a deep breath.

“I’m sorry. I hit you because what you just said was really out of line.”

“That’s how I am,” he calmly replied. “To me every woman’s expiration date is one week, and these are the things that we do. Xiao You, I am really not the one for you. I can only be a good lover for one week . . . But what you need is a good man . . .

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

To Be Continued . . .

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