Wednesday, January 18, 2012

S3: Chapter 06: Most Wanted

Hello Readers!

For those of you that read Desired I hope you appreciate the size of this one since last eppy was short. This episode of CND is nearly 6,200 words and 76 I hope you enjoy!

“Good morning Yvette!” Regina smiled as she took a seat at the island in front of her. “You look beautiful this morning! You’re practically glowing. I’m so happy to see that you and Brett made up! Would you like some coffee or tea?”
Her face turned a bright red and she brushed an imaginary strand of hair behind her ear. “No I’m fine Regina. You heard us?” She nodded her head and moved closer towards the island. “Yeah I’m sorry about that.”
“Oh don’t be. It’s nice to know you’re keeping my son happy at least. And from the sounds of things he’s doing right by you as well. He really takes after his father,” she sighed and leaned on her elbows on the counter. “I tell ya the man is an animal!”
Yvette smiled to humor her, uncomfortable hearing Brett’s Mom go on about her sex life. And as if by example, Terrance came strolling out in his boxers and tee shirt. “Good morning Beautiful,” he said kissing her cheek. “Something smells delicious, what’s for breakfast?”
“I haven’t started cooking yet Terry,” she said turning towards him and wrapping her arms around his neck.
“Well then that must be you.” He kissed her again and turned his attention to Yvette. “I trust you slept well?”
“Uh yeah, I did thank you. Um have either of you seen Brett this morning? He was gone when I woke up.”
“He went to grab me some items from the store. He should be back soon and we can have breakfast together.”
Yvette excused herself from the kitchen as Terrance wrapped his arms around Regina’s waist and pulled her into a more passionate kiss. She let the sound of the chirping birds outside draw her in and could hear the record player inside turn on as she stepped out the door. Otis Redding? It was a beautiful morning. The smell of fresh cut grass permeated the air and she inhaled again taking in that clean scent as a smile crept up on her face.
Everyone in the neighborhood appeared to have a green thumb because their yards were all perfectly trimmed and gardens were blooming with the most beautiful pink and purple flowers she’d ever seen. She walked towards the apple tree growing in the Knights front yard and pulled one from the top branch. Everything seemed so nice and peaceful here and she caught herself imagining what it would be like raising a child in this environment.
Her hand rubbed against her stomach as she thought about the child she’d have with Brett. A strong son that would take after his father in so many ways; smart, loving, clear minded and determined. Or perhaps they would have a little girl. One that would possess qualities of her own mother and the loving devotion she got from Scott.
But those thoughts turned to gloom as she noticed the large hole in the middle of the road and the police “do not cross” tape on the home across the street. Family would have to wait. There was still so much more that she needed to take care of first.
Brett noticed Yvette pacing the front yard as he pulled up with the shopping. “Hey!” he said rushing over and greeting her with a kiss. “I was trying to get back before you woke up. I hated leaving you; was nice watching you sleep.”
“It’s ok. Your Mom explained she needed your help.”
“Yeah she ran out of milk and eggs so of course I rushed to get them; wait until you taste her Eggs Machiavellian.” He started for the door and noticed she wasn’t following and called her forward. “What are you doing out here anyway?”
“Oh uh…your Dad was playing ‘Try a Little Tenderness’ and so I…”
“Whoa uh yeah…sorry about that. My Dad decided to um…share that with me last night too. I’m sorry Baby.”
“It’s fine Brett. I just hope that we’re still that active when we get to be their age.”
“Mmm I can almost guarantee it,” he said pulling her into his arms.
Sierra pulled open the curtains once again and Victor growled at her. “Why do you keep doing that?”
“Because you hate it now get your ass up! I’m through babying you Victor. Go and get your ass into the shower before I drag you in there myself.”
“Go away!” he said sitting up and rubbing his temples. He looked over at her, she placed her hands on her hips as she waited for him to do as she said and he frowned. “What, not going to walk around naked today? Too bad I don’t care enough to listen to you fully clothed.”
She shook her head and walked towards the bathroom to run the water in the tub. “Forget the shower. You need to soak. Maybe some of that booze will drown out of your skin. Now go!”
He pulled up from the bed and lazily made his way towards the tub; stumbling as he removed his clothing and sat in the water. “If I fall asleep and drown in this water Sierra, just remember who made me do this.”
“Yeah, the person that cares about your well-being,” she grimaced gathering up his dirty clothes and exiting the room.
Victor grabbed a half empty bottle of beer sitting near the toilet and turned it to his lips groaning when he reached the bottom. He sat in the water for a few minutes more before he remembered the vodka sitting on the nightstand in his bedroom.
He emptied the water in the tub and started for it. There was no need in being sober when everything around him only reminded him of the failure he was as a husband and protector. His bereavement period from work was over last week and his paid vacation days would be gone in another three days. He was having serious doubts of whether he would return to the bureau again or not.
“Do you need any help Regina?”
“Mom; and no Sweetheart, I’m fine; just getting the weeds out of here so they don’t choke my babies.”
Yvette smiled. “Your garden is gorgeous. I swiped an apple off your tree earlier it was very sweet!”
“That’s Terry’s tree dear he takes real pride in that thing. I won’t tell him you touched it. He’s very protective of his fruit.”
“Tree? What tree? I must have missed something here,” Yvette shrugged.
Regina laughed and moved towards the lettuce and spruced the leaves a bit. The conversation turned to Brett and Yvette enjoyed the useful little known facts she shared about her son. For once everything felt real; she lost herself completely in the moment and let herself relax around his Mother. It had taken a while but the comfort she felt in their home allowed her to let her guard down and feel at ease.
She closed her eyes and breathed in the nearby lavender and azaleas. The air was warm with a breeze that forced the bright green leaves to fan gusts of cool air over her and carry the sweet scent of each flower and fresh cut grass under her nose. She was surrounded in warmth from not only the sun but also the feeling of “home”.
“Hey you two,” Brett smiled and gently pecked Yvette on the cheek. He dropped onto the stairs beside her and moved close enough to smell the peach lotion on her skin. She smiled at him as he softly rubbed a finger along her arm and winked.
“Brett I was just telling Yvette that you and that old man of yours must be tinkering out in the garage. He loves playing around with that old Junker of his every Saturday.”
“No. I don’t know where Dad got off to. I came out here to make sure you were being on your best behavior with my girl. I don’t want you to run Yve off before I have the chance to make things official.”
“Official?” Regina turned with a smile. “Does that mean you have a ring? I’m getting Grandbabies soon?”
“No Mom, I meant in the future. That is if she wants to be my wife.” He smiled at her, “No pressure of course.”
“Well we’ll just have to see won’t we?” She leaned over and kissed his lips as Regina got back to her gardening.
“And what do you mean ‘best behavior’ Brett? You think I know any other way to act?”
“No I think you and Dad enjoy embarrassing me and Nate whenever we bring girls home. You would always bring out the home videos and photo albums with the: ‘Here’s Brett’s first doodie! Oh just look at that face he’s making! Must have been a tough one!’ And you know Dad and his love of walking around barely clothed when we have company.”
“Oh pish posh Brett! That’s just Terry; he hates clothes. It’s the southerner in him I think. Besides I’m not telling Yvette anything she doesn’t want to know.”
“What exactly does that mean?” He looked up at Yve and she giggled. “What has she been saying?”
“Tell him I’m being good!” she winked.
“Oh she is! I’m learning all kinds of interesting things about Brett Samuel Knight. For instance: you didn’t have your first kiss until you were 17?”
His face turned a light pink and he froze in place. “MOM!” They both began a fit of laughter as Brett wriggled uncomfortably in his seat. “Ok I think I’m gonna go check in on Dad. I’ll see you two later. Mom…you’re cut off!”
“Whatever you say; bye BooBear,” Regina smiled.
Brett’s shoulders tensed as he heard that name and entered the house. “Dad? Come and get your wife!” he called but didn’t receive a response. He headed towards the garage to check if he was indeed playing with his Oldsmobile. The lights were all off except for a small crack coming from behind the bookcase. He slowly approached and pushed it out of the way. He entered the narrow passage and noticed a door at the end of the long hallway. He could hear voices on the other side and moved towards it.
“My Son and his girlfriend are safe,” Terrance growled into the phone. “You can tell that asshole that if he comes after me again to get at her I won’t sit and wait on Brett to get here, I’ll take out his agents myself.”
“They are both wanted,” he said in response to his caller. The conversation was beginning to take a turn and it was only serving to anger both parties more. “I will not be a party to this! I never agreed to give up my Sons and I’m not about to jeopardize his future or threaten his girl anymore than what’s already been done.”
“Now you listen to me...!”
He sighed, “I know what I gotta do. You just remember that when the time comes I want what’s owed to me. I have not put in over 20 years of service only to be screwed by you or the Company. I’ll send the debrief now.”
Terrance hung up the phone and began typing out the email he didn’t hear the door creak open. Brett watched his father intently trying to discern what he’d just heard and put into words the thoughts running through his head.
He pushed the door open and quietly approached Terrance, peeking over his shoulder on the email he was writing. “Does Mom know you’re not retired?”
“Brett!” Terrance turned shocked and shut off the computer screen. “I didn’t hear you come in Son. What are you doing back here?”
“Well I could ask you the same thing Dad. What the hell is this place? And why is it hidden behind the bookcase in the garage? What are you up to?”
“Brett I can explain.”
“Good, why don’t we start with the phone call that seemed to concern me and Yvette? You work for the Company? For how long Dad?”
“It’s not what you think, Brett.”
Brett turned to take in the items around the room. Heavy spy equipment from the latest in binoculars and night vision security cameras to an arsenal and heavy firepower filled the cramped space. There were case notes and files on Company jobs and surveillance photos on the entire team. “I want answers Dad and I want them now!”
“Where do I start?”
“Try the beginning!”
Terrance sighed as he followed Brett’s motions and began explaining his involvement.
Victor sat on the edge of the bed finishing off another bottle. Aisha rushed into the bedroom and found him nursing another hangover.
“Daddy, Daddy look!” she shouted excitedly and waved a piece of paper around in front of his face like a victory flag. “I made it for you in art class. It’s Mommy as an Angel.”
She hopped up onto the bed beside him as Sierra poked her head in the door. She smiled hearing her excitement and watched as Victor barely glanced at the colored paper and pushed away from his daughter.
“Daddy? Don’t you want to hang it over your bed? That way Mommy is always here and always watching over you.”
“Daddy’s not feeling well, maybe later.”
“I know! And that’s why Mommy is here to…”
“Your mother is dead! Go away Aisha!” he yelled and pushed her to the floor.
The painting flew out of her hands and floated inches above her head before slowly landing near her and an empty bottle of beer. Aisha cried in pain and held her knee before looking back at Victor and pulling herself up. “I love you Daddy,” she said softly fighting back tears as she grabbed her painting and ran quickly from the room.
“That is it Victor!” Sierra yelled as she struck him hard across the cheek. “That is your eldest! Your little girl; the one that holds you highest and what you just did to her was totally uncalled for! We all lost Simone damn it! You’re not the only one in pain here!”
She hit him twice more each blow harder than the last as her final shred of her patience wore away. “You could have really hurt her you asshole. If you don’t give a shit about them anymore, fine! I’m taking them away tomorrow and you won’t have to worry about seeing them again!”
She turned and slammed the door shut as she went to check on Aisha.
Victor rushed after her and pushed her against the wall. “Who the hell do you think you are Sierra? I never asked you here! I’ve told you I didn’t want you here and yet you stayed. And if you think for one second I’d let you take my kids you’re out of your damned mind!”
“I stayed because you are not in the right mind to care for those children in there and there was no way I was leaving them in your care while you drowned yourself in bottle after bottle!”
“This is MY family and I am more than capable of caring for them without you!”
“Right after you have another drink I suppose. Who knows? Maybe the kids can operate on a bottle a day too!”
“ARGH!” he screamed and pounded his fist into the wall next to her head. He threw on some pants and a tee and stumbled down the stairs and grabbed his keys from beside the door. Sierra rushed after him snatching them from his hand and holding them away from him.
“You really think you’re driving in this condition? Where the hell are you going?”
“Give me those keys Sierra.”
“Oh! You’re finally out of liquor aren’t you? No beer, no booze and now you’re tasting sobriety for the first time in a month!”
He started for her, his hands clenched in tight fists. “HAND THEM OVER!”
“NO! I’m not helping you get more alcohol in your already polluted system! You need this; you need to sober up and take a good look around you!”
“What I need is for you to get out of here!”
“That’s not happening so you might as well get used to seeing me around. Every time you raise a bottle to your lip, I’ll be right there shaking my head as you slowly kill yourself!”
He growled and kept approaching her. She side stepped him and moved towards the hall door. He pulled her back and pressed her against the wall. Her hands remained behind her with the keys clutched tight in her palm. “My keys…”
“You’re not getting them. Go to bed; you can use the SOBER rest!” she stared determined into his eyes and watched as his mood only seemed to grow darker before his features softened a little.
“We both know the reason you’re here Sierra.”
“You don’t know anything about me Vic.”
“No?” he asked grabbing her arm and pulling her into him. “You’re not here for me? It’s for the kids? So being here with me wasn’t the driving force? How does the game change now?” His hand slid around her waist as his mouth moved closer towards her. His eyes played a game; darting from her lips to her eyes as he watched them close more.
“I was never playing games with you Victor! My feelings are real but I wouldn’t expect you to understand that.” She jerked her arm away and he pushed her against the wall.
“Come off it Sierra. I know what you want,” he said planting a kiss on her chin and lowering his hands on her hips. “Isn’t this what you want? What you’ve always wanted?” He continued kissing down her body, stopping on her chest.
She turned her face away but couldn’t escape the heavy stench of alcohol wafting from his lips. “Stop this Victor! You and I both know what you need and it’s not this. I’m not giving you these keys so you might as well go back upstairs and sleep it off.”
He turned her face to his; her breath was warm on his lips and he moved closer towards her. She looked up at him, her eyes heavy with lust as she felt his hand slide gently across her cheek. He softly brushed his lips across hers and sighed. “You don’t want this?”
She swallowed hard as she fought her urgency to press her mouth to his. Everything was unreal and she knew he would not back down; not in this state. Saying he was an angry drunk would be an understatement and there was no way she’d take advantage of him; not like this. “No Victor. You’re not yourself; this isn’t right.”
“You keep saying that and yet you’re not fighting to get away from me.”
She blinked hard and pulled back; turning her lips away from his before they could connect. He smiled at her and rubbed his hand down her side until he had a firm grip on her ass. The keys fell to the floor as he nuzzled his lips against her neck. He moaned and the vibration of his warm caress sent chills down her spine.
“Victor don’t,” Sierra hissed pushing at him, “I’m not Simone,” she whispered; the pain of that confession brought the reality of the situation to her and she bit her lower lip to prevent the tears from falling.
Victor backed away and looked at her; his anger dissipating and his chest burning hearing her name. He staggered towards the stairs climbing them as fast as he could back towards his bedroom. Sierra followed and found him on the floor. His pained tears drew her closer and she dropped to the ground beside him. “I’m sorry,” he whispered as her arms came down around him. “I’m so sorry Sierra.”
“Victor it’s ok. I know it’s not you; you’re just trying to cope like the rest of us.” She rocked him in her arms. “It’s hard, I know. Simone was all that I had and it hurts. It hurts me so much to look into the mirror and see her and know I can’t call and talk to her and tell her about my day. But I know her and I know she’s looking down on us now and smiling; always smiling. We’re going to make it through this.”
“She’s gone and it feels as though my whole world is over. I have nothing left to give; I can’t do this without her.”
“Yes you can, we all can. We have to. She left you three beautiful babies and right now they need you. Live for them Victor; show them the Daddy they know and love, be there to protect them and tuck them in at night. Don’t let them lose two parents Victor.”
He nodded his head as his tears fell into her hands. She calmly rubbed his back and listened as she comforted his pain. He looked up at her through his fuzzy vision and choked back fresh tears. His hand stroked her cheek and he watched her eyes. Her eyes; she’s not his Simone, she’s her clone. Just as smart, just as firm and just as beautiful but not his.
“Come on, let’s get you to bed. You need to sleep this off. Tomorrow will bring better days.” She helped him to his feet and he dropped onto the covers.
His arms wrapped tight around her waist as she stood in front of him and another flurry of tears started. “Stay with me, please.” He whispered as her hand rubbed through his hair.
She nodded and climbed up onto the pillows. He locked his hand with hers and she gently rubbed his back lulling him as he sank into her lap and drifted to sleep.
Dustin smiled as he saw Mica waiting for him on the curb. She was dressed in a floral patterned top; part of a Cheongsam and matching skirt. Her hair was pinned up and she looked as though she were ready to visit an expensive restaurant or shoot for a magazine cover. “You look gorgeous,” he said biting back his laughter. “Ready to go?”
“I’m not over doing it am I?”
“I don’t know, are you comfortable?”
“Yes,” she smiled.
“Then you’re fine.” He opened the car door for her and they drove towards his Grandmother’s home. The entire car ride he kept looking over at her smiling at the way she was dressed and looking forward to her meeting his sister. Something Lien always thought was funny was the way Americans would try and brush up on Asian culture to impress people; she was sure to get a kick out of Mica.
“Are you sure what I have on is appropriate?” she asked as he helped her from the car.
“Well the sales lady said it was a traditional Asian style vest and…” she said twirling and fidgeting with the hem of her skirt.
“Yeah Asian as in Chinese,” he laughed. “We’re still Korean.”
“That’s why you’re laughing at me!” she exclaimed hitting his arm and causing him to deepen the laughter. “Oh I’m such an idiot! I feel so stupid. And looking at you I’m completely overdressed!”
“It’s ok Mica! My sister loves wearing Qipaos and Cheongsams too; I think you’ll be fine.”
“Says the man in a tee shirt and jeans.”
Dustin laughed again, “It’s only dinner; I brought you to my Grandma’s house, not a fancy restaurant. Though I’m sure she would have appreciated me in a suit and tie it’s not a dressy occasion.”
“So I AM overdressed! And stop laughing at me! You said I was fine.”
He moved closer and pressed her against the car door, “You are fine. You look beautiful and my Grams is going to love you! The fact that you even tried to ‘dress for the occasion’ and in something traditional won’t be lost on her TRUST ME you’ll hear about it. Now can we please go inside before we starve to death out here?”

They walked towards the front door. The Cherry Blossom trees on the edge of the property sent a sweet, floral scent towards them and Mica breathed in with a smile. Tao ran out to greet them as she approached the stairs. “Uncle Dustin!” he yelled wrapping his arm around his neck. “Wait until you see my new high score! I’ve been playing with Acid on Live and she said I’m better than you were when you were at my level!”
“That’s awesome man,” Dustin smiled and glanced over at Mica. Her eyes were wide with excitement as well and he gave them a formal introduction. “Don’t let his frenzied behavior scare you. He’s always like this. Tao I want you to meet Mica, Mica this is my nephew.”
She extended her hand and Tao laughed at her before wrapping her in a hug as well. “Mica, that’s pretty. Are you a gamer too?”
“Veterinarian actually; I think that if I ever had to turn a game on it would explode. I’m not very tech savvy.”
“It’s ok, I can teach you! It’s really easy and you might like it! Come on…”
“Tao, stop harassing the poor girl! She just got here!” Hua said from the door. “Let her at least get inside!”
“Grandma!” Dustin said leading Mica towards the front porch.
She grabbed him and held him close rubbing her hand gently across his back. “And you’re Mica my dear? She’s a pretty one,” Hua nudged Dustin’s arm. “Come on inside!” she pulled Mica’s hands and led her into the living room.
“Annyong hashimnikka, chonun Mica imnida,” Mica smiled. “Kamsahamnida Halmeoni Kimura.” (Good evening, my name is Mica. Thank you Grandma Kimura).
Hua looked over at Dustin who was hiding his smile again before she bowed to Mica. “That’s very impressive. I see my Grandson is teaching you our language.”
“Slowly but surely Grandma Kimura. It helps that she’s a quick study.”
“Lien is in the kitchen Dustin, why don’t you go check on her while Mica and I get to know one another?”
“Yes Grandma.” Dustin leaned towards Mica and whispered, “Don’t be scared, she doesn’t bite.”
“Don’t listen to him, I still have all of my teeth.” She made a chomping motion with her jaws and took Mica's hand in hers. Dustin smiled at them before bowing and exiting towards the main hall. Tao took a seat on the table and sat in on the conversation; staring at Mica with wide eyes.
“So are you from here Mica?”
“No Ma’am. Originally I’m from a small town called Plainswater Bay. It’s right outside of Sunset Valley.”
“And what do you do for a living?”
“I’m a Veterinarian.”
“A doctor? How very nice.”
“Uncle Dustin always has pretty girlfriends,” Tao said staring at Mica.
“Thank you,” she smiled.
Hua glared at Tao and yelled in their tongue for him to apologize. He smiled shyly towards Mica before excusing himself from the room. “I’m sorry about that. Tao is a real flirt sometimes. I swear he takes after that Uncle of his. But he wasn’t lying, you are very pretty; and smart too! I can see why you and he get along so well. You know he was the top student in all of his classes!”
“No I didn’t know that but it’s not surprising. I’ve never had more intelligent conversations than I do when I’m with him. And he keeps me laughing.”
“That’s my Dustin. He can always make you smile even in the most desperate of times. And if you haven’t figured it out yet my Dustin is sweet on you. I’m very happy he brought you here to meet us. He’s been slaving away in the kitchen with my Granddaughter Lien all day. He said he wanted you to taste real Stir Fry and that he owed it to you.”
Mica smiled. “I can’t wait! And I’m very honored that you’d have me in your home. I figured this was his tradition; bring home the girls he is sweet on to meet his family. I’ve never known a guy to do that so it means a lot to me.”
“Girls? What girls? He’s never brought anyone home before. Dustin is a very particular boy. He takes after his father like that in many ways. He holds true to his tradition and is a real gentleman.”
“Dinner’s ready!” Lien called from the kitchen.
“Just make sure you treat my Grandbaby right. I’m gonna keep my eye on you!”
“Uncle? Mica is really nice!”
“He means she’s pretty,” Lien said placing the platter on the counter and smiling to herself.
“Oh yeah? Then what are you doing in here? Why aren’t you flirting with her like you were with Acid?”
“Grams probably kicked him out,” Lien laughed.
“You have to be smooth with these kinds of things Uncle, you should know that. Girls don’t like clingy boys and I don’t want her to think I’m some sort of perv. Besides Grandma kicked me out; she said I was being rude staring at our company and calling her pretty.”
“Well I’m glad you like her but she’s off limits!” he shook his head and turned towards Lien. “Your son has a thing for older women; you better watch him!”
They helped carry the plates to the table and said a small prayer before diving in. Mica moaned with her first bite and Dustin looked up at her with a smile. “This is delicious! You were right; I’ve never had Stir Fry like this before.”
“I’m glad you’re enjoying it.”
“Yeah me too,” Lien chimed in. “After working with the Tyrant of the Kimura Dynasty all day knowing you at least enjoy it is very satisfying. His majesty wouldn’t let me off easy; everything had to be perfect.”
“You didn’t have to go through the trouble for me,” Mica smiled. “I’m sure anything would have been perfect.”
“No, no not with Dustin. We had to shop the entire morning for the best vegetables and the freshest, thinnest and cleanest cut beef and pork side. The vegetables all had to be sliced so thin you could see through them, the meat was perfectly sized and cubed and marinated in ginger sauce for three hours in the fridge. The rice noodles are imported, wheat grain and soaked in crushed sesame salt and lemon basil and everything cooked at precise temperatures and exact times. I’ve honestly never seen him work so hard.”
“Wow. I’m very honored.”
“And well worth it,” Dustin smiled.
“Are you a good cook too Mica?” Hua asked.
“I’d like to think so. Though lately I’ve been a quick meal, microwave girl for dinner. Work can get so busy it seems nearly impossible sometimes to have a decent home cooked meal.”
“So you’re a workaholic?”
“I’m dedicated. I feel that when my patients need me I have to be there for them. My practice has an emergency clinic for those animals that are often left dying on the sides of the road and I am usually the first one there to care for them.”
“Does that mean you let your housework slip by you?”
“Grandma! I’m sure Mica’s home is well organized and clean. What are you interrogating her for?”
“I’d just like to know if she would be capable of caring for my only Grandson. I have no intentions of seeing you with a girl that would rather work than take care of her home. You should never starve when there’s a woman in your house, Dustin. I’ve told you this. I want to see you happy.”
“And I am Grandma, trust me.”
“She’s not a gamer though. I think that’s pretty interesting. I’ve only ever known you to date those that were into the same things as you Uncle.” He smiled at Mica again. “Maybe after dinner I can show you a few things. I just got a new racing game for my birthday. It’ll be fun!”
“I’d like that very much Tao. But don’t be surprised if I suck. I’m telling you I’m very bad at those types of games.”
“Do you like children Mica? Are you planning on having any?” Hua asked as she took a forkful of Stir Fry into her mouth.
“Grams you can’t ask her personal questions like that!” Lien said calmly looking in her direction.
“Why not? I’m the elder in this family and it’s my job to know these things. Mica is a guest at our table and it’s something I want to know. Now then Mica, what are your future plans and intentions for my Grandboy?”
“Yes Ma’am I love children. I have a pretty small family and I think that helps me appreciate them more. I’ve always wanted another sister or brother but growing up it was just me and my younger sister Christina. But I’ve learned to enjoy the things life gives me. I do want some of my own; I wouldn’t mind a large family.”
After dinner Tao dragged Mica into his room and tossed a controller at her. “This is a pretty easy one. The basic game controls are X, Y and B. The button on top gives you a speed boost if you ride over the power up and the select button switches gears for you.”
He laughed. “I only play with the manuals. The automatics feel like cheating.”
“I don’t mind cheating.”
“Ok, I’ll keep that in mind.” He turned the game on and a loud engine revved up and announced the start of the race. “It’s three laps around the track and you have to avoid hitting the other racers, walls and flying debris. They slow you down and take points off your final score.”
“Got it.”
**On your mark, get set, SPEED!** The game roared to life and Tao was off and flying past the other racers with ease. Mica was a little confused on the controls but the gameplay was smooth. She tried turning her vehicle by turning her controller in her hand and Tao laughed as he blew his horn and drove by her on his second lap.
“Try pressing the ‘x’ button a lot. It’ll get you going.”
Mica’s car crashed into the side railing and Tao laughed as he passed her honking his horn on the lap towards the checkered flag. “Hey! That made me crash!”
“Sorry,” he snorted. “You said you liked cheating, just following your lead.”
“Oh it’s on now!” she laughed.
Dustin walked in and watched the two fighting through the lap. A smile formed on his lips as she huffed every time Tao blew by her. “So you’re stealing my girl now?”
“Just teaching her how to play ‘ProStreet’. She was right earlier though, she does suck!”
“Gee thanks!” Mica laughed as she purposely rammed her car into his back bumper. “It doesn’t help that he’s giving me bad advice.”
“Yeah Tao’s a competitor and he hates losing. You think I can borrow her for a moment?”
“Sure but I want her back. I want to show her the Turtle Hop game. It might be more her speed.”
“And I was just getting the hang of this one,” she giggled as she crashed again into the wall.
Dustin escorted her outside and she walked with him through the small flower gardens taking in the night sky and fresh air. “Chilly?”
“I’m fine.”
“Are you enjoying yourself?”
“Of course I am. Dinner was great and your family is very sweet.”
“Good! I’m happy to hear that because your answer to my next question will decide my next move,” he blew out a breath. “What did you think about my family?”
“Honestly? I love them! Tao is such a sweetheart and Lien is a wonderful mother and she obviously loves you very much; Grandma Kimura too. She’s very protective of you and it’s easy to see why. They all want what’s best for you and that’s very sweet.”
“Yeah you’re right, they are a pain.” She laughed and he moved closer to her. “Well it’s great you survived your first venture into the Kimura household. Grams can be a little demanding at times but most Elders are.”
“But it’s their right. They’ve lived, they know things and I can respect that. Besides I was prepared for the most part. I honestly thought it would be worse.”
“Oh so you prepared yourself for a showdown with my family? Smart girl.”
“Not quite. But I did want to make a good first impression,” she smiled. “So then Dustin, now that you know my answer, what is your next move? From the sounds of your Grandma I’m thinking marriage and eight children?” she asked wrapping her arms around his neck.
He laughed. “Not quite. Grandma Kimura means well. She wants the joy of more Grands before she ‘goes home’. I’m not up to that point yet and I know it hurts her to see I’m still unwed and working so hard.” He rubbed his hand along her side and watched her eyes. The light from the pond danced in them and he could make out the understated honey tones in her irises. “You really are Beautiful Mica.”
He brushed her cheek and pulled her into him. Taking a deep breath and slowly releasing it he leaned forward and pressed his lips against hers. The feel of her lips was as he’d imagined it; soft, tender and warm to the touch. Mica’s arms came up around his back as he leaned her over more and deepened their embrace. A small breeze floated pass them carrying with it the sweet smell of Cherry Blossoms once more. Mica’s nose caught it and her body melted into Dustin’s as they shared their first kiss.

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