Matt’s Story

large-1531167473-1c546e4b85f6c127d98bd3212423c485A couple of years ago, my world as I knew it was turned upside down.  I was 17 and at my cousin, Rose’s wedding.  At the reception, a relative who had way too much to drink, put his arm around me and said, “I don’t know about the rest of the family but I’m sure glad that your Mama didn’t abort you ’cause you turned out to be a fine lad.  Yes, a fine lad.  You’re not at all like your Daddy.”

I stared at him, shocked and shaken.  What was he talking about?  Why would my mother have considered aborting me and what about my father?  Did he know who my father was?  Was he for real or was it the liquor.

I politely removed his arm from around my shoulders and excused myself.  I went out on the terrace to get a breath of fresh air.  My mind was spinning and my heart was pounding.  A feeling of dread came over me.  My mother died a year ago from pneumonia.  She never told me who my father was and whenever I asked about him, she would say, “the only father you have is God Almighty.  He takes care of you better than any earthly father can.”  After a while, I stopped asking her.   On my birth certificate it said “unknown” where my father’s name should have been.  I hoped that one day I would find out who and where he was.

My mother never married.  She was a single, hardworking mother who raised me as best as she could.  I know she loved me and that she wanted me to have a good life.  At night after she read to me, she got down on her knees and prayed.  She was always praying for me.  I loved my mother very much and I was devastated when she died.  After she died, I moved in with my grandmother.

After what the relative told me I couldn’t enjoy the wedding.  I kept playing his words over and over in my mind.  I couldn’t wait for the morning to come when I would talk to my grandmother about it.  I know that if anyone could give me answers, it would be her.  So, when we were sitting around the table having breakfast, I asked her, “Grandma, did Mama want to abort me?”  I knew I should have broached this in a more delicate way but I was desperate for answers.

Her face went pale and she dropped her fork.  “Where did you hear that?” she asked.

“Some distant relative, I don’t remember his name, said that he was glad that Mama didn’t abort me.”

“Eat your breakfast.”

“Is it true, Grandma?  Was Mama going to abort me?”

“No!  Your Mama was a godly woman.  She would never have agreed to an abortion even though her father and other people were trying to talk her into it.”

“Grandpa wanted her to have an abortion?”  I couldn’t believe it.  I adored my grandfather.  He was like a father to me.  His death five years ago really hit me hard.

“Yes.  He thought it would have been thing for her.”

“But why?”

“Matt, what does it matter?  You’re here, aren’t you?  Why don’t we forget about the past and move on?”

“Grandma, I need to know.  Please!”

My grandmother buried her face in her hands which were trembling slightly.  “Oh, Matt, I wish you didn’t have to know the truth.”

I was getting scared now.  Part of me was afraid to hear the truth and the other part had to.  “Please tell me, Grandma.  Was it to do with my father?”

She dropped her hands and I saw the anger and rage on her face.  “Your father was a monster!” she cried.

“Who was he?  Is he still alive?”

“Yes, he’s still alive and still rotting in prison.”

“Prison!  Why is he in prison?”

“Matt…”

“Grandma, I need to know.”

“He’s serving 30 years in prison for…rape and incest.”

“I–I don’t understand

“Matt, your mother got pregnant when she was raped by her brother.”

The color drained from my face.  I felt sick.  I got up from the table and dashed into the washroom where I threw up.  When I was done, I flushed the toilet, rinsed my mouth and washed my face with cold water.  My hands were shaking.  My grandmother was standing behind me.  I turned to face her and she put her arms around me and hugged me tightly.  We were both crying.

“This is why I didn’t want to tell you,” she said after a while.  “It’s a shameful thing that this family has had to deal with and that is why some of us, excluding me, wanted your mother to have an abortion.  They were thinking about her well-being but once your mother insisted that she was going to have you, we all tried to protect you from the truth.  It was your grandfather’s idea that she put “unknown” for the father’s name.”

“Why did she keep me? Wasn’t I a painful reminder of what happened to her?”

“She kept you because she loved you and she didn’t see a painful reminder of what your father did to her.  She saw a beautiful and precious gift from God.”

The rest of that day was a blur.  I was so overcome with pain and guilt that I became withdrawn and depressed.  My grandmother was very concerned about me and she tried to get me counseling.  It helped–somewhat.  And after I graduated from high-school, she sent me away to South Africa to study and live at the university there.  She would take care of my tuition and anything else I needed.  “It would do you good to get far away from here,” she said.  “You’ll be in a new country and meet new people.  Forget about the ugly past.  Live your life the best you know how for your mother’s sake.  Write me.  Don’t come back here.  When I can, I will come and visit you.”

So, at her insistence, I left Virginia and moved to South Africa.  I asked my grandmother why she choice South Africa of all countries to send me and she told me it was where she met my grandfather.   When I arrived in Cape Town, I knew that I was going to love living there.  Life on campus was a great experience for me.  I met diverse students and forged several life-long friendships.  I enjoyed my studies and had a relatively active social life.  There were lots of pretty girls but I wasn’t interested in dating at that time.  I wanted to focus on my studies.

Then, in my third year at the university, I met Joycelin, a girl from Namibia and a 765full-sydney-nelsonfreshman.   I remember the first time she smiled at me, I felt as if my heart had stopped.  A mutual friend introduced us when a group of us went on a Saturday morning to visit the Penguins at Boulders Beach.  Joycelin and I immediately hit it off and we spent most of the time together, getting to know each other.  By the time we were on our way back to campus, I knew that I wanted to date this girl.  And I did.  Our friends, especially the one who introduced us, were thrilled.

I wrote my grandmother about Joycelin and sent her photos of us.  She was happy for me.  I was relieved that she didn’t have a problem with me dating an African girl.  I know that other members of my family would, however, including the relative who made that careless remark about my mother at my cousin’s wedding.

Things were going well for me and after I graduated from university, I moved into a waterfront apartment which wasn’t far from where I worked.  Joycelin was still living on campus but we phoned each other during the week and saw each other on the weekends.  I was getting pretty serious about her but always at the back of my mind I asked myself how she would feel about me if she were to find out about my father.  I found out one day.

Joycelin and I were in De Waal Park on a Saturday afternoon when the subject of abortion came up.  “How do you feel about abortion?” she asked me.

Her question startled me.  “I don’t know.”

“I’m against it,” she said.

“Even–even in cases of rape and incest?” I asked, my heart pounding.

She nodded.  “Yes.  The life of a child born of rape or incest is just as valuable as a child born under normal circumstances.  Ending the life of the child of a person who has committed rape or incest isn’t the solution. The law should punish the criminal, not kill his child.”

“You really believe that, don’t you?”

“Of course, I do.  And the Bible says that ‘a child won’t bear a parent’s guilt, and a parent won’t bear a child’s guilt.'”  She looked at me closely, frowning and there was concerned expression on her sweet face.  “Matt, are you okay?  You look pale.”

“Joycelin, I have something to tell you.”

She slipped her hand in mind.  “What is it?” she asked.  “You can tell me anything.”

I closed my eyes and told her the awful truth about my birth.  I didn’t realize that I was crying until I felt her fingers brush against my cheeks.  I opened my eyes and found myself staring into her tearful face.  “That’s why I said I didn’t know how I feel about abortion.  There were times when I felt it might have been better if my mother had aborted me because I was a reminder of what happened to her.”

“Matt, you’re not to blame for what happened.  Your mother chose to keep you because she loved you.  She saw you as a beautiful and precious gift not a horrible and painful reminder of what happened to her.  She chose to give you life and the best way to honor that choice, is to live your life to the fullest.”

I held her face between my hands and whispered brokenly, “I love you.”

She smiled.  “I love you too.”

“I wish my mother could have met you,”

“I wish I could have met her.  She sounds like a remarkable woman.  I believe you are the way you are because of her.  She was a godly woman.  God heard her prayers for you and He answered them.  She would be extremely proud of how you’ve turned out.”

“That’s what my grandmother said.  Her, you will get to meet when she visits me in December.  She’s coming for Christmas.”

“That’s great.  Speaking of Christmas, my family are flying over too.  I can’t wait for them to meet you.”

“Good.  It will give me a chance to ask your father permission to marry you.”

She stared at me, her eyes and mouth wide open.  “Are you serious?”

I nodded and replied,  “Yes, I’m very serious”  before I lowered my head and kissed her.

Ten years have passed since I learned the truth about my the circumstances of my birth.  The guilt and shame I felt all these years are gone now.  I have accepted that I have done nothing deserving of death and I will live the life I have been given to its fullest.    Joycelin and I are engaged.  The wedding is next year Spring.  She’s teaching me about God and like my mother, she prays for me regularly.   I’m thankful that God blessed me with three phenomenal women–my mother, Joycelin and my grandmother.  The life He has given me I will live worthily for Him and for them.

A child conceived in violence is himself innocent and created in the image of God. He has done nothing to deserve the death sentence, any more than a child conceived in a loving marriage – Human Life International

The solution to incest is not abortion, but prosecution of the criminal so he does not commit more crimes, and loving care for his victims so that they experience true physical and emotional healing – Human Life International

Matt is a fictional character, but there are real men and women out there who were conceived in rape.  Read their stories.

It takes courage for a woman who chooses to go through with an unplanned pregnancy but it takes far greater courage for the one whose child was conceived by rape or incest.

Sources:   University of Cape TownWikipediaStudent World Online;

Everything Has Beauty

mgm-pedro-pinto-2be77b7e-689e-4bb4-8cb1-84bca2c66dcb “What do you see in her, man?” Brad asked his friend, Sebastian “Granted, she had a great body but her face…

Sebastian glanced at him.  “What’s wrong with her face?”

Brad stared at him.  “Are you kidding me?  I’m sorry, man, but she’s ugly.”

Color suffused Sebastian’s cheeks and his eyes darkened in anger.  “That’s a terrible thing to say, Brad,” he retorted.

“Well, it’s the truth.  And I’m not the only one who thinks you’ve lost your mind.  There are so many hot girls on campus you could go out with and you settle for an unattractive one.”

“It’s obvious that your idea of beauty is different from mine.”

Beauty?  You would use the word beauty to describe her?  Seriously, you need your eyes checked.”

“She has a name and yes, I think she’s beautiful. Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”

“Well, you’re the only one who can see hers.”

“She has lovely dark smooth and flawless skin.  Her eyes are an unusual shade of brown and they sparkle when she talks about the things she likes.  She’s smart, thoughtful and unpretentious.  You’re right, everywhere I turn, I see the faces of beautiful girls but hers is the one I look for.”

Brad studied him.  “You’re really hung up on her, aren’t you?”

“Yes.”

“Well, why don’t you ask her out then?”

“I plan to.”

“Well, here’s your chance,” he said as he looked past his shoulder.

Sebastian turned and his heart skipped a beat when he saw her.

Brad smiled and patted him on the shoulder.  “Good luck, Man.  I mean that.”

Sebastian nodded.  “Thanks.”

Brad walked away.

Sebastian leaned against the wall and watched nervously as Dominique approached him.  She looked great in the red top and the denim skirt which reached just above her knees.  His eyes lingered on her bare calves before returning to her face.  He didn’t care what anyone said, to him, she was stunning and she had the most incredible smile.

“Hi,” she said when she reached him.  She stood looking up at him, her head cocked to one side.  “You look very nice.”

He blushed.  “Thank you.  So do you.”

She smiled.  “Thank you.  So, how have you been?”

“Busy helping my sister to move.  She moved out of our parents’ house last week Wednesday.”

“It must be nice having your own place.  After I graduate this year and get a job, I’m moving out.”

“Don’t you like living with your parents?”  20190410_093020838_m

“They’re great but I like the idea of being on my own.  You live on your own, don’t you?”

“Yes, but I have financial assistance from my employer as well as a family allowance which helps with my expenses and tuition.”

“Is it hard working and attending university at the same time?”

“It is but I manage.”

“Do you have time to socialize?”

“Yes.”

“What about a girlfriend?”

“I don’t have one,” he replied quietly, his expression guarded as he met her steady gaze.  His heart was pounding.  “What about you? Do you have a boyfriend?” He held his breath as he waited for her to answer.

She shook her head.  “No.

He exhaled in relief.  “Dominique, there is something I’ve been meaning to ask you.”

“Yes?”

“Will you go out with me?”

For a moment she didn’t answer.  It was as if she was trying to make sense of what just transpired.  Finally, she said, “I never thought you would ask me out.”

“Why not?” he asked.

“Well, I’m not like the other girls on campus whom I’ve seen you and your friends hanging out with.  They’re pretty and popular.”

“I’m not interested in any of them, Dominique but I’m interested in you.  I’ve wanted to ask you out for a long time but today I finally had the courage to do so.  You haven’t told me if you will go out with me.”

“Yes,” she replied, smiling.  “I will go out with you.  I can’t imagine what the other girls or your friends will say.”

“It doesn’t matter what they think.  All that matters is how you and I feel about each other.  I like you, Dominique.”

“And I like you, Sebastian.”

He reached for her hand.  It felt soft and small in his.  And he felt the heat flow through his body and settle in the pit of his stomach.  His eyes darkened on her upturned face.  He wanted to kiss her but decided that it would be nicer to have their first kiss in a more romantic setting.  “Come,” he murmured.  “I’ll walk you to class.”

She was beautiful, but not like those girls in the magazines. She was beautiful, for the way she thought. She was beautiful, for the sparkle in her eyes when she talked about something she loved. She was beautiful, for her ability to make other people smile, even if she was sad. No, she wasn’t beautiful for something as temporary as her looks. She was beautiful, deep down to her soul. She is beautiful – F. Scott Fitzgerald, Wisdom Quotes

This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompt for today’s prompt, Flow.  If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

Source:  Wisdom Quotes

 

Family Matters

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PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Jilian sat there, watching the different passengers.  Flying always made her nervous, especially since 911.  Still, it was nice getting away for a bit.  And she was looking forward to seeing her family.  Seven years had passed since her last visit.  This was a special occasion.  Louisa, her eldest sibling was getting married to Dane, a childhood friend.

Dane.  She smiled as she remembered how kind he had been to her when at eight years old, she’d fallen off her bike and scraped her knee.  He’d made her smile through the tears.  She especially looked forward to seeing him again.

100 Words

This was written for two prompts, the first is for the Friday Fictioneers challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.  For more details, visit Here.  The second is the Ragtag Daily Prompt word Sibling.  If you’re interested in participating, click Here for more information.

A New Experience

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PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

My family and I drive past it every day on our way to drop our son to school. It’s a beautiful old building in a quiet neighborhood. I’ve often wondered what it looks like inside.

I recently learned that the word synagogue comes from the Greek word for gathering together. It can be a house of prayer, of learning or a meeting place.  It’s a place where people of shared faith feel at home.

I have a Jewish friend. I wonder if she wouldn’t mind me tagging along one Saturday. I want to experience what their worship service is like.

100 Words

This was written for the Friday Fictioneers challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields For more details, visit Here.  To read other stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

Source:  BBC

Cyclone Randy

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I’m sitting here in a restaurant on the coast, hungry but still not sure of what to order.  I was alone.  It’s not often that I have dinner alone but this time was different.  After dating on and off, I decided to end my relationship with Derek.  Emotions weren’t involved in my decision.  I exercised perspicacious judgment.  The relationship wasn’t going anywhere so why prolong it?  Now we are both free to move on with our lives.

Tonight, I’m celebrating my freedom.  It feels great to be single again.  I studied the menu for several more minutes and then I finally signaled to the waiter that I was ready to order.  After he left the table, I closed the menu and was about to reach for my cell when he walked in with a woman I’ve never seen before.  I tried not to let seeing them together bother me.  Why should it?  I asked myself.  I hoped that he wouldn’t notice me.  Unfortunately, he did.  I braced myself as he headed over to my table with his lady friend in tow.

Trying to act calmer than I felt, I glanced up and smiled politely.  When he reached the table and was towering over me, I couldn’t help but think how sexy he looked in that black shirt and black jeans.  The little black cross nestled against his chest.  Realizing that I was staring, alarmed, my eyes flew up to his face.  A slight smile tugged at his lips.  Perhaps, it was my imagination but he looked a little smug to me.

“Good evening,” he said, his eyes flickering over me, making me feel hot and bothered.  Why did he have such an effect on me?  It has always been that way since we met a couple of years ago.  Derek introduced us.  I wonder if he knows as yet that we broke up.

“Good evening,” I replied.

“Are you dining alone?” he asked.

I raised my chin perceptibly.  “Yes.”  I was almost tempted to add that there was nothing wrong with a woman having dinner alone when I saw his eyebrows arch in surprise.

“How come Derek isn’t with you?”

Why did he have to ask about Derek?  I might as well tell him.  “He and I broke up.”

His expression changed and he stared at me for several minutes.  “I’m sorry to hear that,” he said finally.

I shrugged.  “It’s for the best.”

He was about to say something else when his companion cleared her throat.  As if suddenly realizing that she was there.  He turned and drew her forward so that she was standing beside him.  “Bena, this is Angela.”

Bena looked at me.  She was very striking although I thought that the grey jersey dress she wore was too casual.  She looked me over before she held out her hand.  She didn’t look too pleased.  “Hello,” she said as we shook hands.

“Hello.”  After we shook hands, she placed her right hand on his shoulder and put her other arm around him.  I think she was letting me know in no uncertain terms that he was off limits.  My eyes shifted to him.  Again he had that smug smile on his face.  My fingers gripped the glass of water.  He was enjoying this.  Men.

Thankfully, just then the waiter came over with my order.  As he set the food down in front of me, Bena turned to me and said, “We will leave alone to enjoy your dinner.”  She turned to him and said, “Let’s go to our table now.”

He nodded before he said to me, “Good evening.”

“Good evening.”  We stared at each other for several minutes before he turned and walked away.

Their table was a couple of tables away from mine and by the window.  I tried to look everywhere except there as I tucked into my pan-fried Rainbow Trout dinner.  I wished they weren’t there.  I couldn’t really relax and enjoy my dinner.  I hardly tasted the Butternut Squash Pie which was one of my favorites.  As soon as I finished the last crumb, I signaled to the waiter.  After I paid the bill, I got up from my table.  I was tempted to walk out of the restaurant without saying goodbye but that would have been rude.  So, after adjusting my dress, I walked over to their table.

Of course, Bena wasn’t pleased at the intrusion but he stood up.  “I just wanted to say goodnight before I left,” I informed them.  I could feel him watching me and try as I did, I couldn’t resist looking at him.

“Goodnight, Angela,” he said.  “It was nice seeing you.”  His expression was serious this time and I wondered about that.

Bena didn’t answer.  She just inclined her head and as  I turned and walked away, I could feel her eyes digging into my back.  What was her problem?  Did she think I was after her man?  I shook my head at the idea.  Ridiculous.  I admit that I’m attracted to Randy Cloud but that doesn’t mean that I want to get involved with him.

Native Indian couple

I think about nothing else but him on the drive home.  I turn on the radio in the car to listen to some music but it doesn’t help.  Frustrated, I turn it off.  I roll down the window but soon roll it back up as the noise of traffic gets to me.

When I get home, I shower and fix myself a nightcap and relax on the sofa for a while.  As I sit there watching the television but not really paying much attention to it, I find myself wondering where Randy and Bena went after dinner.  Did he take her straight home or somewhere else first?  Were they going to spend the night together?  For Pete’s sake, why should what he does with Bena matter to me?

The phone rang.  I got up and answered it.  “Hello?”

“Hello, Angela.”

I nearly dropped the phone when I realized that it was Randy.  “Randy?”

“Yes.”

“Why are you calling me?”  I had to ask.

“Would you like to go out for drinks with me sometime when you’re not busy.”

“Are you asking me out on a date, Randy?”

“Yes.”

“What about Bena?”

“Bena’s just a friend, nothing more.”

“It’s obvious that she wants to be more than friends.”

“You haven’t answered my question.”

“All right.  I guess there’s no harm in going out for a couple of drinks.”

“How about tomorrow evening around six?”

“Sure.  Do you have somewhere particular in mind?”

He mentioned a bar I’ve never heard of.  As long as it wasn’t somewhere Derek and I have been, I’m fine with it.

“All right, I’ll meet you there.”

“Great.  Have a good night, Angela.”

“You too, Randy.”

I hung up.  Why do I feel as if I’ve thrown myself in the path of an oncoming cyclone?  If I’m not careful, I could get swept away.

This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompt for Saturday’s prompt, coast, Tuesday’s prompt, hungry, Wednesday’s prompt perspicacious and today’s prompt, cyclone. If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

Two Reasons to Celebrate

Young and sassy are the words my husband use to describe me.  We are opposites.  He’s an introvert and I’m an extrovert.  He’s in his mid-fifties with grey sideburns but he still has the body and libido of a much younger man.  I’m in my late twenties and I’m trying to keep up with him.

We met last year when a mutual friend invited a group of people to Maui for a week of sun and fun.  Lorenzo didn’t go with anyone and nor did I.  We were immediately attracted to each other and for the rest of the vacation, we were inseparable.

A year and four months later, we are newlyweds.  For our honeymoon we went on a 12-day Mediterranean cruise which ended in Venice, the city of love.  After we spent two days there, we headed to Milan to visit his family.  We figured we might as well since we were in Italy.

I must say that although I half-expected it, it still came as a bitter disappointment when his parents made it painfully obvious that they didn’t approve of me.  No doubt my color had more to do with it than my age.  His teenage children from his previous marriage were polite but I could tell that they didn’t approve either.  Being married to me meant that their father wasn’t going to return to Milan or reconcile with their mother.

I feel sorry for them.  When my parents divorced and my father remarried, I was upset.  I wasn’t nice to my step-mother, Violet because she ruined all chances of my parents getting back together.  It took years for me to get over that disappointment and be civil to Violet.  Now, she and I are friends.  And I can see how happy she makes my father.  I hope that one of these days, Lorenzo’s children will come around too.  He’s the love of my life and his happiness means the world to me.

Lorenzo and I ended up spending only two days in Milan and then we were off to Rome.  I loved Rome–the people, the food and the piazzas.  On our last night, we visited Piazza Navona and enjoyed a couple of gelato as we admired Bernini’s perfectly lit Fountain of the Four Rivers.

Lorenzo and I were sorry to leave Italy but we were excited about beginning our life as a married couple and moving into our new home overlooking Central Park.  It took a while for me to get back into a routine because of jet-lag.

Ten weeks have passed since our honeymoon and I’m standing in front of my enormous closet, looking at the designer clothes, bags and shoes I brought back from Milan and Rome.  As I look through the outfits a smile tugs at my lips.   I can’t wait to see Lorenzo’s face when I tell him the good news tonight over a home cooked dinner.  We have two wonderful reasons to celebrate.

That’s right.  We’re going to have twins.  Whether they are boys or girls or one of each, we won’t know for some time or maybe, we’ll decide to wait to find out.  Already, I’m making plans to turn the extra bedroom into a nursery and I’m just dying to go shopping for the babies.

The chiming of the clock reminds me that I have to get dinner ready.  I close the closet doors and leave the bedroom.  I’m going to make sure that tonight is a very special night for Lorenzo.

I’ve been learning to cook Italian dishes thanks to Jamie Oliver.  I’m going to make tasty tuna meatballs with pasta and Caesar salad.  And for desert, what else but his favorite–pistachio gelato from our favorite neighborhood gelato place.

After dinner and when we’re relaxing in the living-room, then I will tell him that we’re going to have twins.  And then, we celebrate with a bottle of Martinelli’s Gold Medal non-alcoholic Sparkling Cider.

This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompt for Sunday’s word: closet and Monday’s word:  jet. If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

Love vs Tradition

“You’re such a hypocrite, Kaito” Hana told her brother.  “You object to my relationship with Danny because he’s not Japanese and yet you’re sleeping with Duana, my African American friend.”

Kaito looked up from his laptop, his expression darkening as he met his younger sister’s incensed gaze.  “I don’t have to explain myself to you,” he retorted.  “After our parents died, I became responsible for you.  Danny may be a nice guy but he’s not the right one for you.  You should be with someone like Riku.”

“Riku?  You know very well that I’m not in love with him.”

“That could change.”

“It won’t,” she insisted.  “I’m in love with Danny and he’s in love with me.  I don’t care what you say.  I’m not a child.  I’m not going to marry Riku or anyone else for that matter.”

“Has Danny asked you to marry him?”

“Not yet but when he does, I will say yes.”

“Not if I have anything to say about it.”

“You’re my brother not my father.  You being responsible for me doesn’t give you the right to dictate who I marry or who I love.  Riku is a nice guy. We’ve known each other since we were children but I don’t love him.  I’m not going to marry someone I don’t love just to please you and your love for tradition.  I hope Duana does the smart thing and dumps you.”

His mouth tightened.  “I don’t want to discuss my relationship with Duana with you.”

“You won’t have a relationship with her much longer.  I will see to that.”

“What do you mean?”

“Tonight, we are going out on a date with Danny and his friend, Deshawn.”

What?” Kaito rose to his feet.  His eyes flashed and his fists clenched.  “How could she be going out with someone else while she’s still in a relationship with me?”

Hana watched him.  She never saw her brother act like this before.  He was always so calm and reserved which sometimes annoyed her.  Nothing seemed to faze him and here he was now, like a volcano about to erupt.  “You made it clear that you didn’t want there to be anything serious between you.  You were fine with the way things were–purely physical.”

He dragged his fingers through his hair.  “This guy she’s seeing tonight, has she been out with him before?”

Hana shook her head.  “No, this is the first time and I hope it won’t be the last–”

“Imaimashī!”  He grabbed his keys off the desk and headed for the door.

“Where’re you going?”

“Where do you think I’m going and why do you care?” he retorted before he stormed out of the room.

As soon as he was gone, Hana picked up the phone and called Duana.  “Kaito’s on his way over.  He’s as mad as hell.  I’ve never seen him like this.  I think he’s jealous.”

“You told him about Deshawn?”

“Of course.”

“Oh, Hana.  I didn’t want him to think that I was interested in Deshawn or anyone else.”

“Well, maybe you ought to be.  You can’t continue hoping that things will change, Duana–that Kaito will change.  He’s set in his ways.  He’s been a bachelor for so long that marriage isn’t a possibility right now and if he did get married, it would be to a Japanese woman.  You’re better off moving on.”

“I wish I could but you know I love him.”

“Yes, I know.  He’s my brother and I love him too but I think he’s a jerk.  You deserve better, Duana.”

“Right now I can’t imagine being with anyone else but Kaito.  Thanks for calling, Hana.  I’ll see you later.”

“All right.  Call me on my cell if you need me.”

“I will.”

Hana hung up the phone and left the study.

Duana was about to change out of the white dress she had worn to church when the doorbell rang.  Her heart began to beat faster.  It was probably Kaito.  It was and Hana was right.  He looked furious.  As she slid the latch back, she asked herself why she had allowed her friend to talk her into to going on a double date tonight.

“Hello, Kaito,” she said when she opened the door.  Giannina Oteto

“Don’t hello Kaito me,” he snapped as he brushed past her.  He swung round and faced her as she closed and locked the door behind him.  His eyes were blazing with anger and jealousy.  “How could you go out on a date with another guy when you and I are in a relationship?”

“It–it was Hana’s idea and–”

“I know it was her idea but you didn’t have to agree to it.”

“She called me and told me that you were coming over.  She warned me that you were very angry.”

“Don’t you think I have reason to be?  How would you feel if I were going out for dinner with another woman?”

“I would be angry and jealous,” she admitted.

“That’s how I feel right now, Duana.  The thought of you going out with another guy is making me crazy.”  He reached for her hand.  His expression was drawn and tormented.  “Don’t do it, please.  Don’t go out for dinner with this guy, please.”

She swallowed hard.  “I won’t,” she promised huskily.

He released his breath in a shaky sigh.  “Thank you,” he muttered.

“Why don’t you spend the night?” she asked.  “I didn’t make any dinner because I was going to eat out tonight but we can order in.”

He nodded.  “Yes, I’ll spend the night.”

She smiled.  “Good.  Let me call Hana and tell her that I won’t be joining her and the guys for dinner tonight or any other night.”

He nodded again and removed his jacket as she called his sister.  As soon as she finished the call, he took her into his arms.  “I’m sorry for the way I’ve been,” he said.  “I grew up believing in family traditions and determined to honor them at the expense of Hana’s happiness and my own.  I love you, Duana and tonight when I realized how close I came to losing you, it opened my eyes to what really matters.  When you meet that special someone, making a commitment to him or her is more important than holding onto tradition.  Tomorrow, I will let Hana know that I no longer object to her relationship with Danny.”

Duana put her arms around his neck. “She’ll be happy to hear that,” she told him.

“Yes, she will be,” he agreed.

“I love you, Kaito.”

Kaito lowered his head and kissed her.

“Just because something is traditional is no reason to do it, of course.”Lemony Snicket, The Blank Book