“No. I’m not going.” Paisley fought her mother’s persistent hands. Pulling off her clothing almost as fast as her mother pushed them on her. In frustration, she swung her legs over the side of the hospital bed in preparation of sitting before leaving the room. After a couple of days of laying in bed, her equilibrium was out of whack and for a brief moment everything spun around and she closed her eyes. Opening them when she felt her mom’s hand cup her cheek. The motherly concern fighting with the determination to win over her desire to give in to her child’s wishes, determination won and the struggle resumed. “I can’t believe you and Oto-san planned to do this to me and Malachi.” Paisley’s tears rolled unheeded down her cheeks. “How do you think he will feel? He stays night and day and you wait until he leaves for work and then you pull this. It’s unfair. He loves me, wants to be with me, forever.”
“Well that’s just too bad. Your father and I have come to agreement. We can not trust Malachi with your life. He doesn’t value you enough. You are our daughter, unable to care for yourself and so we will do our duty. You are coming home with us. You can come quiet or we can have you sedated. Which do you want?”
“I want to remain here until Malachi returns. Then I want him to bring me to my apartment.” Paisley, not physically up to a prolonged struggle, hoping to appease her mother, gave in. When her mom quietly succeeded in forcing her arms through the sleeves of the blouse, she renewed her protest. “Oka-san please.” She tossed her head from side to side, looking around the room in utter frustration. Everything looked hopeless, out of her control and she felt trapped, on the verge of tears. “Oh my God please don’t play the heavy handed parent. If you do this again, I’ll hate you forever. Listen to me, Oka-san...”
Her plea, ending in a heartbreaking sob, fell into the silence. Annie MuRong ignored her daughter’s cries and walked out of the room without another word. Paisley dropped back to the bed, turning to press her face into the crumpled pillows. The linen smelled of him. Dragging in a breath only made the memory of him a stronger reason to fight. When her mom returned, doctor trolling behind, she sat up prepared to do battle until they left her no choice, she would stay and wait for Malachi.
He could hardly breath, shaking his head in disbelief, he forced himself to swallow. Words were imprisoned behind a tight wall of anger and he wanted to explode. The puff of air escaping between his lips ruffled the strands of hair laying on the nurse’s forehead.
“What are you saying? I was only gone twelve hours. At work for the sake of Allah. How can she be gone?”
“She’s been gone about that same amount of time. Her parents took her home, saying they’re hiring a private nurse. You’ll have to go and talk to them. We realize you are Ms. MuRong’s boyfriend, but you aren’t a family member. There’s nothing else we can tell you.”
“You’re right. I’m sorry.” He dragged his fingers through his hair. ‘Thank you so much for all you, everyone did for Paisley.”
Pulling the phone from his pocket, he turned and walked away, dialing Paisley’s number. It went straight to voice mail. Slapping the phone a couple of times in the palm of his hand as a warning to remain calm, he dialed her parent’s home. By the third ring, he’d made it to the parking lot. Instead of climbing into his car, he paced beside it from, hood to trunk and back again, tapping his fingernails on the body in a three count rhythm as he walked. Frustration and anger tightening his chest and jaw muscles, his words came out in an angry growl and he had to start them over.
“Hello, hello Mr. MuRong. Sir, may I speak to Paisley, please?”
“No, Mr. Dae, You may not.”
The pain from banging his forehead on the roof of the car couldn’t rival the pain of her father’s words stabbing his heart.
“Sir, I’m sure Paisley isn’t in agreement with this. Please let me speak with her.”
“It doesn’t matter if she is or not.” The breath he sucked in barely controlling the urge to scream and curse at the older man so he pressed the bone directly above his eyelid. The movement painful and redirection to his attention. “Paisley’s mother and I have decided we can not trust her life in your hands. You are careless with her. Within the last four months you have done reasonably well, but today has shown you are as impulsive as she is. You aren’t ready yet, Mr. Dae.”
“I think you are being extremely unfair, Mr. MuRong.”
“I’m not trying to be fair, I’m trying to be a father. Think me unreasonable if you must. Go to your parents and ask them how they would feel if they knew it would only take a stupid mistake and they could lose the life of their child When you truly understand, the time will show itself. Until then, I say goodbye, Mr. Dae.” And without further fan fair, Frankie MuRong ended the call.
“Oh, my God.”
Malachi stood for a moment, hand covering his eyes. What was he supposed to do? He couldn’t break into their home and grab her from under their thumbs. He would have to find a way to prove himself to them and win her back. Looking up to the sky, he felt lost and alone, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.
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