They woke up the next morning, and he could almost feel the tension in her. She wasn’t looking forward to the trip though he could understand why it was still slightly was disheartening to him. He was second-guessing the whole thing as she rolled over and he could see the cloudiness in her eyes. He was about ready to call the entire thing off when she touched his face.
“You don’t want to go, do you?”, he asked without thought.
“I already told you I would go.”, she said softly. “the question was never if I wanted to go or not.”
“We don’t have to go, sweetheart.”, he said equally as softly as he wrapped his free arm around her.
“Mitsuhide you have to go. You have to go see gran and tell her that you care and a thank you as well.”, she said with a smile. “Regardless of how I feel about going, I do too. She means more to me than my apprehension of going back. I keep telling myself this time will be different though.”
“And how will it be different?”, he asked.
“You will be there.”, She said with a smile. He kissed her nose and smiled as well.
“That I will be, princess.”, he said as he kissed her again.
“Mitsuhide don’t start.”, she said. “Otherwise we won’t get out of bed and by my guess it is already later than I had hoped to wake up.” He looked at the window and thought the same thing as he saw the sun was much higher than it was normally when he woke up. Of course most days it wasn’t even up yet at that time. He chuckled as he let her get out of the bed and start throwing on her clothes for the day. He had given her a backpack for the four-day trip that she had already packed and was ready to go.
She looked back at the headboard and saw the time. She was slightly surprised that it was so late in the morning. She felt her cheeks flush slightly when she remembered the reason why they both slept so late. She knew he was watching her still and it felt like a waking dream in ways. It had all happened so fast that her head was still reeling with the unexpected turn of events. Nothing that had happened in the past few days was like her. She was rather planned out, and this hadn’t factored into any of her plans. She was happy she wouldn’t lie even to herself and say she wasn’t, but the simple fact was everything in her boring life had been flipped upside down, and at the moment she could care less about any of it. Even the fact they would be going back to her home town, the place that caused her more grief and pain than any other didn’t even really bother her. In a way, she was looking forward to it, if not anything else but to show him off. She had no doubt he was hers. He always had been.
He threw some things in a bag as well. She had packed the night before, and he had watched her think about what she took. He was the opposite. He didn’t care too much. He knew she wanted to make this not a big deal. He knew it was a huge deal. It would probably be the second to last time she would go back willingly. The next after that would be for the actual funeral. That might be the only time she would go back. He could even guarantee that she would go for her own brothers and sisters funerals. His father was still a toss-up. He looked at her as she made her way out of the room.
He smiled to himself as he knew why they still brought everything up. He didn’t even have to go back to figure out why. She was the youngest in an average family there. She shouldn’t have been the star of the family with four older sisters and however many older brothers she had, but she was. She was intelligent beyond the confines of a small town. It showed in her eyes when she looked around. It did back then, and it was even more so now. Her beauty was not just skin deep. She cared for so many things that it shined out of her through every pore. She didn’t even realize it. He knew it was more than just his own feelings for her that said so, the guys last night all had warned him that they would have his back when it came to looking out for her. They saw it too. The reason that people back in that place didn’t like her as she was just more then they were naturally. She was going to make something of herself regardless, and they only might have had the chance.
He smiled softly as he looked at her in the room she had claimed as her own. She was sitting there reading a letter he had written her so many years ago. She didn’t know he was watching her as he moved into the room. When she looked up, he saw the light of her eyes back and not cloudy anymore. She smiled at him and tilted her head as if to ask a question. “Nothing my love. Just seeing what you are doing.”, He replied, and he went to clear out his inbox and then pack up the car. They weren’t taking all that much, so he just threw it into the back seat. He wondered if he should bring his computer with him if nothing else as a distraction. He looked at her still sitting on the couch in the sitting room now her office and smiled. She would be the only distraction he would need. It was time to make a few happy memories in that place she called hell.
Five hours later he knew she was wound tight as they drove into the town. She had her head down reading something on her, but she instantly knew when he had entered the city. She turned the device off and looked around as they got off the highway. He took her hand and kissed it as he settled it in between the two of them, but he didn’t let go. He didn’t have to ask. She didn’t have to say anything.
“Which way?”, he asked as he realized he didn’t know exactly where the hotel was.
“Go to the main intersection up there and turn right. The mall is two lights up we take the second one.”, she said.
As they drove up the hill, he could see how much this part of the town changed. The mall hadn’t been there at all when he lived in the city. The area had grown up and was now nothing but stores and strip malls. The fields he remembered as the old family tobacco farms were gone. It was almost like his memories were nothing but a dream. “Everything has changed.”, he said.
“The tobacco farms all sold shortly after you left. It was easier than for this to go up.”, she said pointing to the mall. “It was a big thing that they even wanted to build a mall here. They said the town had an old America feel.”
“Did you spend a lot of time here?”, he asked with a smile. “You were the right age to fall in love with being in a mall.”
“I did. It wasn’t exactly my choice though. I was the third or fourth wheel for one of my sisters. I was like their babysitters.”, she said.
“You didn’t like going?”, he asked.
“I didn’t like going with them.”, she said with a smile. “They would normally try to leave me somewhere so they could go do whatever or whoever they wanted too.”
“Whomever?”, he asked.
“It wasn’t like it wasn’t completely obvious Mitsuhide that my sisters were more interested in sex then they were shopping. It wasn’t like they ever had any money, so it was pointless to come to the mall every weekend. Why else would my mother send me with them?”, she said laughing.
“So your sisters would leave you and then what come back later?”, he asked.
“It wasn’t even that much later. We are talking about teenagers.”, she said.
“Did your sisters ever get married?”, he asked.
“Yes. All of them are married. All married people from here. All of them never left. Same with my brothers for the most part. They all might have left for a little while, school or the navy but they all came back here and married and settled down.”, she replied.
“It seems they really didn’t change them.”, he said.
“Did you think they did?”, she laughed.
“I thought, well, maybe they would.”, he said.
“No. they all had the goal in mind that the best thing to do was pick out the man they thought would do the most or have the most of anything and either marry him because of that or trap him into a paycheck.”, she said.
“Trap him into a paycheck?”, he asked.
“Child support.”, she said.
“Oh.”, he replied.
“I think Indie has four kids, but one only of them is from her husband. The other three are a source of income from hush money. Jenny is no better. The rest followed suit.”, she said.
“Well nice to see that wasn’t a complete family trait.”, he said quietly.
“I am completely different from them. I didn’t want a small town life like this or if it were what I would have to settle for it would be on my terms, not theirs.”, she replied.
“I can’t really see you playing around like that. you are a little more genuine than that.”, he said.
“That fact was I thought from a young age that it should be like a fairy tale. That all life should be like that. I couldn’t shake the idea that it was me that was wrong.”, she said. “I know now that life is what you make of it. I have run across in my life so many different types of relationships that work for those people that the fairy tale changed.”
“You deserve your fairy tale sweetheart.”, he said as he kissed her hand again as he pulled into the parking lot of the hotel. “That is my job to give it to you.”
“Well, I got the handsome prince, what next?”, she said laughing.
“We deal with being here for one.”, he said.
“For days, Mitsu. I think we can deal with that.”, she said.
“But can the town?”, he asked with a laugh as they both got out and grabbed their bags.
“That I am not so sure of.”, She said as she headed into the hotel and instantly wished she had booked anywhere else. He watched her stop as if she walked into a wall. He followed her eyes to the person behind the counter.
“Friend of yours?”, he asked softly.
“Not a friend.”, She replied equally as softly. She squared her shoulders and knew it would be like this. Her head was screaming to run away. She instead walked to the desk and plastered on a fake smile.
“Can I help you?”, the woman asked.
“Here to check in.”, Sara said.
“Name please?”, the person asked.
She took a deep breath in and let it out, “Sara Johnson.”
“Sara! I thought that was you!”, the person said.
“Just here to check in Lisa.”, she said as she struggled with her voice.
“So a room for one?”, Lisa said as she snickered a little bit.
“No two.”, she said.
“Oh really?”, Lisa said as she looked around for what she thought would be the person with her. Her eyes never rested on Mitsuhide as her possible partner. When Mitsuhide walked up. “Oh, Sir we will get to you in one moment.”, Lisa said as her eyes raked him over and she almost let out a small giggle as she did.
“Sweetheart is everything okay?”, Mitsuhide said as he looked down at Sara who looked like she may jump over the small desk and bash the other woman’s head in.
“Yes, hun.”, she said as she tried like hell to keep her voice steady.
“You’re together?”, Lisa asked.
“Yes, he is my.”, Sara started to reply.
“I’m just hers.”, Mitsuhide’s deep voice dwarfed hers as she spoke. When he spoke, there was absolutely no question what he was implying.
“Oh.”, Lisa said. “I always assumed.”
“You know what they say about assuming, Lisa. Makes an ass out of u and me. More you than me though.”, Sara replied.
“So you’re not?”, Lisa asked.
“Never was.”, Sara replied.
“Oh.”, Lisa said as she turned a deep color of scarlet.
“However, I would like to get checked in now. Long drive and all.”, Sara said.
“Here you go.”, Lisa said as she handed the key cards over to them. “By the way what is your name sir?”
“Mitsuhide.”, he said with an evil grin. “I also lived here before. I remember your older brother.”
“Oh.”, she said as memories flooded Lisa’s mind.
“Exactly.”, he replied. “She is mine, and I would like it spread through the town that she is.”
“I can see.”, Lisa said.
“Mitsuhide?”, Sara called as she walked to the elevator.
“Coming my love.”, he said with a smile.