On the day after his rendezvous in the park with Piper, Akemi heads to the sushi bar to meet his sister and her friend Etsuko for lunch. He carries with him the mysterious box that traveled with him all the way from Hawaii.
As he enters the sushi bar, he pauses momentarily to observe his surroundings. Spotting Maile at the bar, conversing animatedly with her childhood friend, he crosses to them.
Etsuko spots him first and beams a welcoming smile over Maile’s shoulder.
Sensing his presence, Maile turns in her chair and leaps up to embrace her brother when she finds him directly behind her. Quickly he sets aside the box to return her hug.
“Oh, Akemi, I am SO happy to see you! Thank you for coming, and thank you for agreeing to give me away.”
“Hello, little sister. I have missed you.”
As she finally releases Akemi, Maile notices the enormous box he has brought with him and shoots him a quizzical look. He winks and moves past her to greet Etsuko, whom he has also known since childhood.
“Hello, ‘Suko. Congratulations on your upcoming marriage!”
“Domo arigato, Akemi-san. I only wish that my parents could be here, but I know how angry my father is that I am not marrying a man of his choosing.”
“Yes, he is very angry, but I think he’ll get over it eventually. And ‘Suko . . . your mother is not angry. She asked me to bring you this.”
He retrieves the huge box and hands it to Etsuko. Puzzled, she looks at him questioningly.
“It’s her wedding dress, ‘Suko. She told me that it has always been understood that you would wear it, and she doesn’t see why the ethnicity of the groom should make any difference. Your mother is a remarkable woman. I would not personally wish to be the one to cross your father.”
“Oh, Akemi!” Etsuko’s eyes fill with tears. She throws her arms around Akemi and sobs out her thanks.
Gently he disengages her arms. “You are very welcome, Little Flower. Now . . . could I see a menu? I am very hungry.” He smiles affectionately at her.
“Oh! I am most sorry, Akemi-san! Of course! Please sit and I will bring menus.”
Akemi takes a seat next to his sister at the bar and looks around as Etsuko hands him a menu.
“So where is this Gaijin of yours?”
Etsuko grins. “His name is Ranger, Akemi-san. Normally he would be here as he almost always comes for lunch, but his crew was called away on an emergency. You will meet him Friday night at the bachelor party. You are going, hai?”
Akemi resists the urge to sigh. “I have nothing else on my agenda for Friday night, so yes, I will be there. Now . . . what do you recommend?”
Akemi and Maile consume their lunches, Akemi smiling affectionately as he listens to Maile and Etsuko chatter about the upcoming nuptuals. He does not notice the obvious interest displayed by Dr. Parker on the other side of the bar.
To be continued. . .